There have been far too many superb crime fiction books piling up for lack of space to get them reviewed. And I’ve been hearing from many readers who are enjoying the books reviewed in Murder Ink but read faster than one book a month. So we’re going to fix that today: You will have more good books to read this month, and I won’t feel negligent as terrific reading experiences pile up and go unreviewed.
The most gripping and certainly the most unusual is The Farm by Tom Rob Smith, a June 3 release by Grand Central Publishing. A couple sells their landscaping business in London and retires to a neglected farm in the wife’s native Sweden, leaving a successful adult son who promises to visit but doesn’t find the time. One day, Daniel gets a call from his father informing him that his mother has been committed to a psychiatric hospital with delusions of rape and murder conspiracies that implicate himself. Daniel immediately makes airline reservations and is packing when his mother calls to say she’ll be at Heathrow in an hour. She’s unemotional, on task and instructs Daniel to pick her up at the airport and not inform his father should he call.
The entirety of this story is the mother’s recitation of evidence she has compiled implicating her husband and their neighbor in the rape and murder of the neighbor’s adopted, African teenaged daughter. Her story is meticulous, fascinating and will keep you mesmerized long after finishing the book, as will the sensational ending.
Not to be missed is James W. Ziskin’s No Stone Unturned, for release June 10 by Seventh Street Books. Ziskin’s first novel, Styx & Stone, came out in October 2013 and showed promise but didn’t quite hit the gong. It had nearly all the makings but didn’t make the cut for Murder Ink, but I looked forward to Ziskin’s next offering. This one will surely put him on the map. It’s a murder mystery featuring a cub reporter for a small upstate New York newspaper, Ellie Stone, whose zeal propels her ahead of the police with her investigation of the killing of a powerful judge’s beguiling daughter and embroils her in small-town conspiracies trying to pin the murder on a hapless peeping Tom who, Ellie believes, only witnessed what happened at the Mohawk motel. It’s a great read with stunning characterizations and will surely position Ziskin in the upper echelon of crime fiction writers.
Dante’s Poison by Lynne Raimondo was released earlier this month and features blind psychiatrist Mark Angelotti who makes himself indispensable in solving a cleverly disguised murder in the ruthless pharmaceutical business while becoming a target himself. Raimondo is another up-and-coming talent debuting with Dante’s Wood in 2013. I’m running out of room, so trust me on this one; it’s a page burner.
One more. Coldsleep Lullaby by South African Andrew Brown is a 2005 book published by Zebra Press in Cape Town. This is the sleeper of the decade: deep, researched, mysterious, and evocative of the fateful history and ambivalent present of the Rainbow Nation. All fiction writers wish they could write a book this good.
JeffMannix.com. Jeff Mannix is a local journalist and author.