Book reviews: Crime fiction round up

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

LIVE BY NIGHT

by Dennis Lehane
(Abacus, $22)

This new edition of Lehane's period gangster saga - the sequel to 2008's The Given Day was prompted by the release of Ben Affleck's film adaptation which disappeared mercifully quickly from movie screens. Despite some good performances it was, at best, a watchable B-movie - but this novel - originally published in 2012 - and the trilogy it comes from is another thing entirely. Joe Coughlin's a small time thief (he carries hair-pins in his pocket to pick locks) who soon rises through the ranks of 1920s Boston underworld. It's unashamedly old-school adventure - femme fatales, snappy dressers, snappier dialogue, bootlegging, murder and money. The setting ranges from Boston to Florida and finally Cuba and Coughlin's rise is fast and action-packed - chases through cypress swamps, raiding Navy shipments, fighting off the Klan - all rendered by Lehane in vivid, compelling prose. After the last in the trilogy, 2015's World Gone By, Lehane's back to modern day in his new thriller Since We Fell - reviewed here next month, in the meantime this epic trilogy should not be missed.

HER EVERY FEAR

by Peter Swanson
(Faber & Faber, $33)

Anxiety prone Kate Priddy, still recovering from an attack by her late ex-boyfriend, trades apartments with her cousin and lands in Boston in winter. On the face of it, she got the better end of the deal, swapping her poky London flat for a large, well-appointed apartment in historic Beacon Hill. The only thing is her neighbour, a young woman, is found dead - split down the middle - soon after she arrives. Kate's anxiety levels peak. Is her cousin - who she has never met - involved? Another fast-paced, well written psychological thriller from Swanson.

THE CALLER

by Chris Carter
(Simon & Schuster, $35)

Social media and our reliance on it is at the core of Carter's latest. Born in Brazil but resident in the US since college Carter has worked in criminal psychology before throwing it in to concentrate on writing. This is his eighth book and all feature detective Robert Hunter. His sixth book One By One dealt with reality television - there the serial killer decides to broadcast all his murders live over the internet. The Caller mines similar territory. This time however the killer uses video calls. The killer (whose voice is disguised) then tells the person who answers that - if the right answers are provided to its questions they'll let the person (always a friend or partner) live. If not they will be killed live on video. I wasn't looking forward to reading this but once started found it absolutely compelling. Carter won't win any awards for his writing, but he's a master at keeping the plot and pages turning. Just as the book seems to flag he brings in Mr. J - a hitman - every bit as ruthless as the caller. Things are wrapped up a little too easily at the end, but if you're keen on spending an evening with a psychopathic killer pick this up. Though you may be disabling your Facebook page soon after.

SPARE ME THE TRUTH

By C.J. Carver
(Zaffre, $23)

Carver's a half-English, half-kiwi, author based in England and this is the first book in her Dan Forrester series. Carver comes highly recommended with Lee Child praising her earlier books. Dan Forrester's piecing his life back together after the tragic death of his son - there's also the case of a Jason Bourne-like bout of amnesia after the tragic death of his son. But Forrester thinks he's just your ordinary family man - the most excitement he gets is when the lawnmower refuses to start - but he clocks the exits wherever he's in a public place; guess what - he's in fact a highly trained operative and there's a certain black file needs attending to. Not forgetting a disgraced cop and a case of black mail. At over 500 pages it does have its longeurs and would benefit from a more rigorous edit; there's a good thriller in here somewhere but only forgiving readers will get through this.

- Weekend magazine

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