The Wrong Side of Goodbye Michael Connelly (Allen & Unwin $36.99)
Connelly's Bosch series is one of the best in modern crime, last year's The Crossing was as deftly crafted a novel as he's produced (TWSOG is the 19th Bosch) and this new one is even better; deeper and with a wider scope.
Thanks to the excellent Amazon series Bosch - a third season is filming at present - Connelly's wiry and seasoned cop-with-a-conscience-and-a-dark-past is more visible than ever.
Bosch - and Connelly's - belief is simple - we all count or nobody does - and TWSOG runs the gamut of LA life - from the reclusive billionaire who hires Harry (as a private detective) to track down his child - to the poor and powerless Mexican girl the dying scion had fallen in love with.
Alongside this plot runs another which sees Bosch working as a volunteer cop chasing down a rapist nick-named the Screen Cutter and we see Bosch slowly piece the puzzle together in his usual indomitable manner.
Told in Connelly's much under-rated utilitarian prose - this is a haunting, elegiac story - and one of his best.
The Windy Season Sam Carmody (Allen & Unwin $32.99)
Australian musician and writer Sam Carmody's debut is a taut, evocative and compelling coming-of-age novel. Seventeen-year-old Paul seeks his listless elder brother Elliot who has gone missing in a small fishing town in Western Australia.
Fellow Aussies Tim Winton and Andrew McGahan have worked similar territory and Carmody's poetic, rugged prose is the equal of either. The atmosphere and menace of the town is captured brilliantly in all its meth-invested, binge-drinking, pub-fighting glory (it reminded me of Mailer's depiction of Provincetown, Mass in Tough Guys Don't Dance.)
The tag-line's good too - "There are things out there worse than sharks" - and this gritty, claustrophobic thriller proves that.
Ian Austin (Nationwide Book Distributors $29.99)
Auckland-based writer Ian Austin draws on his lengthy police experience in both England and New Zealand for The Agency - the first of a three book series featuring ex-detective Dan Calder.
A serial-killer is stalking Auckland streets and her hit-list involves the database of a depression society. That's a database the troubled Calder's also on. Thankfully despite a relationship break-up, depression and carrying the scars of a repressed childhood Calder still has A-grade cop smarts (he once played pool with a suspect disguised as a deaf priest) and they're stretched to the limit chasing down this wily and meticulously organised femme fatale.
Although self-published The Agency is getting industry interest; Austin's police-knowledge (he was a covert surveillance trainer in the UK the basis of a great scene involving some old-school tailing of a suspect along Queen Street) adding realism and grit. It could have benefitted from losing a 100 or so pages, but I'm looking forward to a leaner, meaner Calder in the next book - intriguingly titled The Second Grave - after the Confucius saying "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."
Laura Lippman (HarperCollins Publishers $32.99)
Ex-journalist Lippman (she worked on the same paper as The Wire creator - now husband - David Simon) grew up Columbia, Maryland and clearly draws from personal experience for this novel. She really did go to Wilde Lake High School and more than her many previous novels there's an elegaic, confessional streak on display here.
Wilde Lake's main protagonist Luisa is a gifted lawyer, newly elected as state's attorney.
Her first homicide case will bring all manner of family skeletons out of the closet.
A mentally disturbed drifter is accused of beating a woman to death in her home and at trial Lu's up against her former boss.
Chapters alternate between Lu's first-person perspective of growing up in a privileged - if broken - family which has seen more than its fair share of tragedies - (her mother dies soon after her birth) and a third person account of the present day case.
While it ticks all the thriller boxes (murders, family secrets, and the unwieldy machinations of justice) Wilde Lake transcends genre. Throughout Lippman's prose is pitched-perfectly, smooth, wry and heartfelt. Most recommended for readers who persist in thinking crime fiction can't approach the richness of "serious literature". It can and Wilde Lake does.