What pleasure to find a quartet of older novels by some favourite mystery masters, books I must have missed when they first appeared. The first four, all paperback winners. Must have been a literature lucky star over my cosmos in June! Good micro-recycling going on here in my cave among anonymous thriller readers.
Stephen White. The Program. New York: Dell Publishing, 2001.
The adventures of Boulder psychologist Allan Gregory have not always engaged me, but this one was tops. Each main character has a first-person perspective as events unfold, and the tension gets unbearable toward the end. A woman in the witness protection program, now known as witness security, has everything to fear about her alleged security as three different hostile sources track her. White gives us a satisfyingly complicated plot, difficult to predict, and a wild climax.
Robert Tanenbaum. Falsely Accused. New York: Penguin Putnam, 1996.
Old friends Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi are as fresh as the day they were written, even though it's early in the long-running series. Precocious daughter Lucy is only seven at this time and the twins have not yet been born. Dialogue between characters is funny and smart, as expected from this skilled writer. All the colour of New York City and the lively Karp household are integral parts of the whole. Marlene launches her private protection agency while Butch realizes his true legal calling in prosecution. Forces of evil and corruption, beware!
Michael McGarrity. Under the Color of Law. New York: Penguin/Onyx, 2002.
One in a series featuring Santa Fe police chief Kevin Kerney. I'd read one of them before, enjoying the atmosphere of New Mexico. The discovery of a murdered woman looks like a straightforward case until suspect after suspect emerges and the body count escalates. Kerney and his career army wife come into the line of fire because a much more sinister high-tech plot is uncovered. Keeps you guessing about the perps until the end.
James Grippando. Beyond Suspicion. HarperCollins Publishers/HarperTorch, 2002.
An author (and series) new to me, but I'll be seeking more. Grippandi is gripping [groan]. The plot is based on a Miami lawyer, Jack Swyteck, who finds himself unwittingly enmeshed in a conspiracy that twists from fraud to murder to illicit blood sales. How they are all connected is impossible to guess, with a surprising climax. Here's a case where the mise-en-scène occasionally shifts to seedy third world locales and violent characters. Although Swyteck as a legal professional seems rather trusting, he manages to navigate the necessary street smarts.
James Renner. The Man from Primrose Lane. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux/Sarah Crichton Books, 2012.
A hot item when it came out, the book had a long waiting list. I wonder if anyone else was put out when halfway, or two-thirds of the way through, the author shifted into a parallel universe of science fiction? Not my cup of tea at all, but I see now there were tiny warning signs in a story otherwise replete with good characters and plot. Some mind-bending mathematics and impossibly intricate family relationships added to my discomfort. Red hair is a recurrent thread and kept me going at times. My biggest question about the murder mystery was how could Renner possibly conclude this story? Well, he did. Left brain readers will love it.