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Notable Books

Notable Books | Four recent crime novels

Issue: "Who will vote?," April 21, 2012

No Mark Upon Her

The latest entry in a long-running series featuring Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid takes place shortly after the two Scotland Yard inspectors marry. As they adjust to the complications of family life with children from previous relationships, Kincaid gets the call to investigate the death of a female inspector whose body is found near her overturned scull in the Thames. Kincaid pursues the formal investigation, while James, still on leave, undertakes an informal inquiry. Both inquiries lead to evidence of long-hidden crimes and cover-ups. This police procedural devotes a fair amount of time to domestic details-childcare arrangements, dinner menus, birthday party planning-that may not interest some readers. Some bad language.

Death of the Mantis: A Detective Kubu Mystery

When a game ranger goes missing, the local police find his body in the Kalahari Desert. The police accuse three Bushmen of murder despite their protestations of innocence. When an American reporter and a Bushman activist accuse the police of a rush to judgment, rotund David Bengu, nicknamed Kubu, assistant superintendent of the Botswana CID, gets involved. He believes in the innocence of his old friend, the Bushman activist, and convinces the local police to release him. More murders throw into question that decision. The book nicely evokes the Kalahari and explains cultural details. It also pays more attention to Kubu's personal life, focusing on his wife and the stress brought about by the birth of a child. Some bad language.

The Drop

"Everybody counts or nobody counts." That code guides Harry Bosch, a detective with the LAPD. With enough longevity to know where departmental bodies are buried, he doesn't change his findings to please anybody. He feels pressure when a city councilman's well-connected son dies from a fall off a balcony. Murder or suicide? At the same time a DNA match opens up an unsolved murder case of a teenage girl from 20 years ago. Bosch must solve the two cases, maintain his code, bring a sadistic killer to justice, and make time for his precocious 15-year-old daughter. The book contains some obscenities and gruesome crime scene details.

The Iron House

John Hart's well-crafted novel features two brothers who grew up in a hellish orphanage. Separated as children, one becomes a mob hit man. The other is adopted and becomes a mentally unstable writer of children's books. Their lives rejoin when Michael falls in love and wants to quit the mob. With mobsters in pursuit, he flees to his brother and finds evil from the past. Hart's books are dark. He lets his characters explain why: "Julian writes dark because the light he hopes to convey is so dim it only shows when everything around it is black. ... God is in the little things, in a last, faint flicker of hope, a small kindness when the world is ash." That's a good description of Hart's novels. Graphic violence and obscenities.


Corban Addison's debut novel, A Walk Across the Sun (SilverOak, 2012), is a page-turner with a social conscience. Like John Grisham, who prominently blurbs this book, Addison features a burned-out young American lawyer, Thomas, whose marriage is breaking on the rocks of his ambition. When he witnesses the kidnapping of a young girl, his eyes are opened to the evil of sex-trafficking. When Thomas takes a year's sabbatical and chooses to spend it in Mumbai, working for a fictional version of the International Justice Mission, his story intersects with that of two sisters, orphaned by the 2004 tsunami and trafficked into slavery. Addison vividly describes both the brutality and breadth of the sex trade-and the evil of turning human beings into commodities.

Listen to Susan Olasky discuss these crime novels on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Listen to Susan Olasky discuss these crime novels on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.


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