Down the River Unto The Sea
Walter Mosley (Orion $32.99)

Best known as the author of the Easy Rawlins series - Bill Clinton's a big fan - Mosley is a writer who goes where he wants - erotica, politics, YA, science fiction. He started writing quite late in life (34) after the Irish writer Edna O'Brien, told him - "You're Black, Jewish, with a poor upbringing; there are riches therein". She was right and this is an ambitious, if sometimes confusing stew of race, corruption, class and redemption.

Joe Oliver's - an NYPD investigator with a wandering eye who is framed and thrown in prison. A decade later he learns the truth around his framing.

Alongside this Oliver, now a PI, takes on a case of a journalist accused of killing two cops. Heist man turned watchmaker Melquarth (who recalls the volatile Mouse from Mosley's Easy Rawlin's series) is on hand to help as the pair take the law into their own hands.


The corrupt bankers, cops and politicians Oliver's up against could be pulled from today's headlines. This might not be Mosley's most accessible thriller but it's a timely, angry tale from one of the finest crime writers working.

The Hidden Room
Stella Duffy
(Little Brown $32)

Duffy's first crime novel in 12 years and it's a good one. But the joys of this lie less in the thrills and more in its vivid portrayal of domestic life. Laurie and Martha own a sprawling house in the Lincolnshire countryside, from the outside it looks like an idyllic middle-class life. Laurie's an architect who is finally gaining success and recognition, while Martha takes care of the kids, ferrying them round to swimming practice and dance rehearsals. Yet the family has secrets – Laurie even has a secret room in the house.

Soon the eldest - troubled seventeen year-old Hope - becomes an unwitting player in an emotional and mental power-play that threatens to tear the family apart as Laurie's unconventional upbringing in a North American cult comes back to haunt her.
A smart psychological thriller. Let's hope we don't have to wait a decade for the next.

Panic Room
Robert Goddard
(Bantam Press $32)

Another thriller about a hidden room. "More twists than a box of macaroni" - said Stephen King about Cornwall based writer Goddard's work. Panic Room - set in a gorgeous house on the Cornish coast – with excursions to London and Zurich - is no exception. Ominously it starts at chapter 10 and counts down to zero.

Don Challenor is a real estate agent - down on his luck who takes a job offered by his lawyer ex-wife to value the empty mansion for her client – the ex-wife of a big pharma entrepreneur. When he gets there he discovers a mysterious young woman acting as a house sitter. Together they discover that the house has a panic room, which can't be opened. Is something, or someone inside and why? It's one of those books that's difficult to review without revealing too much - a diverting read, although, going back to King's analogy, at times the macaroni does feel a bit over cooked.

Liar's Candle
August Thomas
(Simon and Shuster $30)


It's fourth of July and a massive bomb goes off at a US embassy party in Turkey; the tragedy gets Liar's Candle off to a cracking start.

This promising debut novel from young writer August Thomas (fluent in Turkish, having traveled and studied there as a Fulbright Scholar) has a strong sense of place; clearly Thomas knows her Turkey, its history and its troubled relationship with the US. As one character comments "... loving Turkey is leaving your heart on the railroad tracks. Sooner or later, it will get crushed."

The hero here isn't a martial-arts expert or skilled-CIA operative but the sweet-faced Penny Kessler a young US embassy intern in Ankara. What follows is a tightly plotted spy novel that revels in the CIA's internal conflicts and political prevarications while also managing to slip in a helicopter chase and a rather unlikely escape from the Turkish presidential palace.