Monday, November 28, 2011

Reviews: THE DROP by Michael Connelly, THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton, and TRACES OF RED by Paddy Richardson

This year I've been asked to provide a monthly crime fiction round-up for the Herald on Sunday, one of New Zealand's most well-known newspapers. I'm very pleased to be able to contribute in my small way to getting crime fiction into the books sections of some local media. My latest column was published yesterday NZT. As I've said before, these are just 'mini-reviews' of only 100 words or so, so I can't go into great depth about any of the books, but hopefully I provide readers with a little bit of an indication.

Crime Picks

The Drop
By Michael Connelly (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)
Put simply, Michael Connelly is a modern master of crime fiction, and LAPD detective Harry Bosch is one of the genre’s greatest characters. Connelly has an uncanny knack for keeping a long-running series fresh. Now, Bosch is spending his final pre-retirement years working cold cases, including one that threatens the integrity of the new Regional Crime Lab, when he’s hauled into a fresh investigation - the seems-like-suicide death of the son of his long-time nemesis, Councilman Irvin Irving. Readers are given a gripping, high quality ride as Bosch tries to find the truth behind the collision of police and politics.

The Lock Artist
By Steve Hamilton (Orion, $29.99)
Winner of the prestigious Edgar Award, this intriguing tale centres on Michael, who survived a terrible incident as a kid, but has never spoken since. The story switches between two major periods in Michael’s life, including his teenage years where he discovers his uncanny ability to open locks, and a prank gone wrong brings him into contact with a man who will end up changing his life. A mixture of thrills and chills as Michael goes about a rollercoaster criminal career, and an interesting character study of a troubled young man trying to escape from his tough life.

Traces of Red
By Paddy Richardson (Penguin, $30.00)
Acclaimed Dunedin author Richardson once again shows her skill at mixing personal drama and creepy psychological chills in her latest novel. Struggling television journalist Rebecca Thorne needs a big story, and thinks she might have found it when she discovers despised convicted triple murderer Connor Bligh might have a chance at freedom. Richardson excels at evoking the human aspects behind the plotline, as Rebecca struggles with her status and career, her relationships with Bligh’s barrister, a married man, and her interactions with many others as she tries to dig the truth from the past.

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

Have you read any of these authors or books? If so, what were your thoughts? Do the reviews make you more or less likely to want to read these three books? What books should I feature next month?


  1. I really liked The Drop (not a surprise). I haven't read the other two - have seen mixed reviews of The Lock Artist.

  2. I was a touch underwhelmed by The Lock Artist myself Maxine - in terms of it being an Edgar Award-winning book that had also garnered other awards and lots of praise. For me, it was a good, solid read - and particularly good when it came to a unique character/storyline that was well handled, and some good character perspectives/relationships, with some nice tension. But I just wasn't 'wowed' as much as I expected, and although it was a very good read - it wouldn't be one of my 'best of the year', for me personally - unlike the past two Edgar Award winners, THE LAST CHILD and BLUE HEAVEN, which I was more wowed by. Hard to fit the deeper analysis into 100words though :-)

  3. I have read The Drop and confess with Connelly I never need to read the reviews I just follow the name of the best crime writer I know and just wait for the next. With Harry Bosch I have a built in image of him in my mind - I know what he looks like. Any writer can only run second to Michael Connelly with Lee Child making the quinella.

    Your review of The Drop was as good as a review could be in as many words - but with the story line of an 8 year old rapist running across the Irvin Irving theme it was challenging. I enjoy receiving your CRIMEWATCH mail. Thank you. Because of your review I'm about to give Steve Hamilton a go as I've read none of his. I see he has written seven.
    Thanks again