Frontlist | Entertainment & sleuthing combine in these crime fiction novels
Finlay Donovan Is Killing It
By Elle Cosimano
Minotaur Books, 360 pages, $26.99
Finlay Donovan is a crime novelist with writer’s block, a single mother with two little kids, a rotter of an ex-husband and a slew of unpaid bills. Then a strange woman offers Finlay fifty grand if she agrees to eliminate the strange woman’s cheating husband. Does Finlay go for the big payoff? The catch is that the book is as much comic novel as crime novel, a touch more Janet Evanovich than Agatha Christie. Elle Cosimano has a deft feel for the risible twist, and while the plot occasionally swings into dubious territory, Cosimano never loses control of events. She even adds a bit of romance, something the reader figures Finlay deserves.
By Robert Rotenberg
Simon & Schuster, 330 pages, $22
Somebody’s killing homeless people in Toronto. But this is far from the only concern veteran Homicide Detective Ari Greene deals with in the latest book in Robert Rotenberg’s complex and thoughtfully realized series. There’s the friction between the exclusive west end golf club and the aggressive champions of Toronto’s homeless community; the mysterious collapse in relations among three ace women lawyers who’ve been pals since law school; not to mention the odd choice in boyfriends made by Ari’s daughter who happens to be a star TV crime reporter. Rotenberg juggles these plot items with his customary aplomb and plenty of verisimilitude.
The Butterfly House
By Katrine Engberg
Scout Press, 352 pages, $28
Never mind that the murder victim’s body was dumped in Copenhagen’s most historic public fountain. Even stranger, the murder weapon was a “scarificatar,” a mid-19th century implement for blood letting. The story stays brazen and original through its entire bedeviling length. What adds to the narrative appeal is the oddball but winning nature of the two top cops on the case. Anette Werner has come late and grumpily to motherhood while Jeppe Kerner has trouble holding a relationship together, all the while being nagged by his pushy mother. Nothing domestic keeps either cop from stellar sleuthing.
The Shadow Man
By Helen Fields
Avon, 390 pages, $24.99
We’re in ultra creepy territory (also known as Scotland.) A stalker is on the loose. He’s got his captive hands on three diverse characters. A perfect housewife, a young guy in a wheelchair, a twelve-year-old. He presents as benign, even well-intentioned. But victims know they should be terrified of such types. So do readers. On the law side of things, an American profiler and a Scottish DI jump on the case. They’re smart, sympathetic and well-versed in the creep factor. In a general sense, the plot is not especially original, but Fields is clever at juggling her characters, figuring out motivations and keeping the story on the move.
Source: Caledon Enterprise