My latest column was published a couple of weekends ago, but I didn't realise - missing that issue of the newspaper - so I hadn't yet shared the reviews online. Here they are:
By Lee Child (Bantam Press, $39.99)
A return to form for Child after the underwhelming Worth Dying For, this latest Jack Reacher tale goes back to before the beginning, to 1997 when he was still a Major in the military police. Sent undercover to Mississippi after a woman has her throat cut behind a bar just down the road from a large Army base, Reacher finds himself entangled with the attractive female sheriff, and questioning everything, unsure just who he can trust. A page-turner, The Affair sheds new light on the enigmatic wandering hero, and should please new and old fans alike.
By Val McDermid (Little, Brown, $34.99)
The doyenne of Tartan Noir, McDermid not only brings back her popular pairing of dysfunctional profiler Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan (of Wire in the Blood fame) in her latest novel, but also celebrity broadcaster turned serial killer Jacko Vance. Just when Hill and Jordan are about to take themselves to another place, professionally and perhaps personally, their nemesis escapes after years behind bars, throwing them, their colleagues, and their wider lives, into disarray. McDermid creates a pulse-pounding plot, but her writing shines brightest in the emotional turmoil of her characters’ relationships.
By Ben Sanders (HarperCollins, $24.99)
This sophomore effort from 21-year-old Aucklander Sanders has plenty of the crisp prose, vivid imagery, and page-turning plotlines that powered his #1 bestselling debut, The Fallen, last year. Detective Sergeant Sean Devereaux juggles murder investigations: a Friday rush-hour drive-by shooting, and a suspicious double-killing in an affluent suburb. Meanwhile Devereaux’s ex-cop buddy John Hale finds himself chasing kidnappers, and being chased by the Police. While there are flaws (a tendency to get ‘listy’ with musical references or travel details), overall Sanders has crafted another very enjoyable thriller, set right here in our biggest city.
Craig Sisterson helped establish the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. He writes about crime and thriller fiction for several publications here and overseas, and blogs at http://kiwicrime.blogspot.com/.