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Notable Books

Notable Books | Four new mysteries reviewed by Susan Olasky

Issue: "Orphaned no more," July 30, 2011

The Complaints

Accomplished crime novelist Rankin introduces a new series featuring Malcolm Fox, a cop whose job it is to investigate other cops. That department in the United States would be called Internal Affairs, but in Scotland it is The Complaints. Fox, who has been sober for five years, finds himself hard-pressed on all sides. His sister's abusive boyfriend breaks her arm and then shows up dead. The cops investigating the murder have a grievance against Fox because he investigated one of their own. Suddenly he's under suspicion, and he's not sure what's going on or who is behind it. Financially troubled Scotland provides the setting for this gritty novel featuring a flawed protagonist trying to do right in a fallen world. Some bad language, especially from the mouths of bad guys.

Come and Find Me

Since her boyfriend died in a mountain climbing accident in Switzerland, former computer hacker Diana has been afraid to venture out from behind her electronically fortified doors. She spends her days on the computer, visiting virtual OtherWorld and running a computer security firm with her boyfriend's best friend. Then her sister goes missing, and Diana must leave her secure bunker to find her. Which of her virtual friends are trustworthy, and which are not? Who is messing with her security firm? The internet allows lurking behind false identities, and only at the end does Diana understand how deep are the secrets and betrayals. Some bad language.

The Body in the Gazebo

Caterer Faith Fairchild must unravel two mysteries in the village of Aleford, Mass., where her husband is a mainline church minister. An audit uncovers money missing from the church's discretionary fund, to which her husband alone has access. Which of the unpleasant people who work for the church is responsible? Meanwhile, an elderly friend confides in Faith a story from her childhood involving an unsolved murder. The elderly woman has begun to receive anonymous letters about the murder and wants Faith to figure out who is sending them. Congregational jealousies and details of everyday life provide the context for this cozy mystery's slowly unfolding plot.

The Bone Yard

Dr. Bill Bass founded the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee 25 years ago to study how bodies decompose in different conditions. This forensic lab provides him with rich fodder for the crime novels he writes with Jon Jefferson under the pen name Jefferson Bass. In the novel, forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton is in Florida to help a colleague prove that her sister did not commit suicide. A dog uncovers several old skulls that appear to come from a cemetery on the grounds of a long-closed boys' reformatory. Although the bones reveal past secrets, a murderer in the present wants to keep them hidden. The novel, apparently loosely based in history, includes some bad language and gritty forensic details that aren't for the squeamish.

Spotlight

I am not an athlete, but I thoroughly enjoyed Cycling Home from Siberia: 30,000 miles, 3 years, 1 bicycle (Howard Books, 2011), Rob Lilwall's exhilarating account of his roundabout journey from Siberia to London. He had the audacity to begin riding in Siberia in late fall/early winter, with temperatures sinking to -40°F at night. By the time he and Al, his riding companion, reached Honshu, Japan, they were not getting along and decided to split up. From then on he rode mostly alone. His was a meandering route that included Australia, Tibet, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Iran-then up through Europe before reaching his home in London. Along the way Lilwall met fascinating people, escaped evildoers, worshipped in churches, discussed God with Muslims and others, and met his future wife.

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