By Marcia Allen, Manhattan Public Library Collection Development
I always look forward to the latest that favorite mystery writers have to offer. Like so many readers, I anticipate what the next story line might promise, and I thoroughly enjoy reading about my longtime favorite characters. That’s why the latest crop of new tales has really caught me by surprise: my recent picks have revealed some really nasty details. We’re talking about some exceedingly heinous crimes.
Consider author Lee Child, for example. Jack Reacher, a perennial favorite at the library, most recently appears in Child’s Make Me, a disturbing story of unbelievable crime. You know Jack Reacher: the quiet loner who always manages to get involved in protecting underdogs in out-of-the-way locales. This story opens with his arrival in a tiny hamlet called Mother’s Rest. Why is Reacher there? Because the name of the town made him curious. Thus, Child takes us on a pulse-pounding investigation into suspicious cover ups. Reacher is aided by private investigator Michelle Chang who also arrives in the town, hoping to locate her missing partner who vaguely resembles Reacher. Child’s villains are always disgustingly sleazy, and this book has its share of those repugnant criminals. And their involvement in sordid Internet websites leads Reacher to discoveries he’d rather not have made. But the real shock is in the nature of the serial crimes that Reacher gradually uncovers. This is one for the many Jack Reacher fans, as well as those who like some nasty surprises in their crime fiction. The final chapters of this book will make you cringe in horror.
If that doesn’t appeal, you might try Jonathan Kellerman’s latest mystery, The Murderer’s Daughter. You know Kellerman: the favorite author of the ever-popular Alex Delaware series? While Delaware is mentioned in this new book, he is but a peripheral character barely mentioned in past dealings. The real story is that of Grace Blades, a highly respected psychologist who has a particular flair for helping to heal patients tormented by past violence. Her expertise is one thing, but the fact that she is actually a sociopath with her own childhood history of violence and loss is what kicks off the story. We learn of Grace’s loss of incredibly bad parents, and we also learn of a compassionate psychologist who takes an interest in the young Grace, as he sees in her the potential for a great future. When Grace later suspects that a violent child from her past is now a thriving adult killer, she sets off in hopes of righting that wrong. Recurring flashbacks reveal why Grace is able to plan her movements so coldly, and her lack of remorse makes the story a real shocker. This is one for those who like a good character study with their mysteries.
And finally, I discovered talented mystery writer, Julia Heaberlin. Heaberlin’s third mystery, entitled Black-Eyed Susans, is the disturbing story of Tessa Cartwright, the only survivor of a serial killer’s crime spree some twenty years earlier. Tessa’s memory of the ordeal is vague, but she does recall the field of wildflowers in which she was found. More recently, she had gone through years of therapy due to that experience and now has a good life as a single mother of a teenage daughter. But over the years, someone has chosen to plant black-eyed Susans in her yard as a reminder of the crime. While the convicted killer has spent years on death row, the ongoing flower plantings make Tessa question whether the wrong man was convicted. This is an unsettling read, perfect for those who like psychological suspense in their crime reading.
As always, we have lots of other mysteries new to the library that just might appeal if the edgy stories I’ve mentioned don’t grab your interest. If you love mysteries as so many do, you’re bound to find an undiscovered treasure at your library.