- ISBN-13: 9781616956042
- ISBN-10: 1616956046
- Publisher: Soho Crime
- Publish Date: March 2017
- Page Count: 336
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
Series: Jack McColl Novel #3
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-30
- Reviewer: Staff
The October Revolution of 1917 provides the backdrop for Downings outstanding third historical featuring British spy Jack McColl (after 2015s One Mans Flag). At his fathers funeral in Scotland, McColl reunites with his lover, American journalist Caitlin Hanley, with whom he has a complicated past: two years earlier, McColl arrested her younger brother, Colm, for his role in an Irish republican plot after first offering him a chance to escape. Despite this incident, Caitlin is eager to make the most of their time together before work separates them. McColls boss in the Secret Service dispatches him on a mission to determine how the Transcaspian Railway can be put out of action as part of British efforts to prevent Germany from taking over Central Asia. Meanwhile, Caitlin travels to Russia to report on the efforts of the Bolshevik regime to create a new society. In addition to balancing plot and character development perfectly, Downing gives readers unfamiliar with the issues of the time all they need to know. Agent: Charlie Viney, Viney Agency. (Mar.)
Whodunit: Black sun rising over Tokyo
One of my favorite things about this job is bringing a new writer to the attention of readers, and it is particularly true in the case of Nicolás Obregón, whose debut novel, Blue Light Yokohama, is set in my home of a dozen years, metro Tokyo. Obregón balances the key components of modern detective fiction seamlessly: a damaged hero, the requisite layer of urban grittiness, a possible love interest, a taunting serial killer and a series of frustrating, misleading clues. The killings bear an eerie resemblance to earlier unsolved murders in Tokyo; the hearts are ripped from the victims, and crude, sooty drawings of the sun are left at the scene. The Black Sun Killer, as the press quickly dubs him, is proving more of an embarrassment to the police department with each passing day, and pressure is put on the investigators to make some progress in the case. But with pressure comes mistakes, and when one is dealing with a serial killer, mistakes can be deadly. Obregón’s descriptions of Tokyo are spot-on as he leads the reader through the city in search of an exceptionally clever and elusive killer. Blue Light Yokohama is nicely done for a first book; it’s nicely done, period.
A HORSE THROAT
It is beyond annoying when you wake up at 3:35 a.m., realizing that you have not put out the garbage for early morning pickup. But imagine stumbling out with your garbage to discover a fresh corpse on your front walk, its throat slit ear to ear. This discovery raises a long line of red flags in the mind of disgraced private detective Charlie Bradshaw, the central character of Stephen Dobyns’ Saratoga Payback. Charlie has had his PI license revoked, so any clandestine investigation he might undertake carries with it the risk of prosecution. However, there is a good chance that the deceased party, a man of ill repute in Saratoga, was on his way to see Charlie, which merits his murder a bit of a look-see. His death may also be tied to the recent high-profile kidnapping of a racehorse from the stable of an equestrian socialite that Charlie is also looking into. Then there are more murders, and Charlie begins to believe he may be among the killer’s intended victims. Dobyns has created a lasting and well-loved character in Charlie Bradshaw, and longtime fans will be happy to meet an old favorite and find him in top form once again.
TO RUSSIA, WITH LOVE
Agent Jack McColl is trying (with little success) to balance a relationship and his duties as a British spy in David Downing’s latest thriller, Lenin’s Roller Coaster. World War I continues unabated in Europe, and the Bolshevik Revolution is beginning to come into its own in Russia. McColl’s lover, progressive journalist Caitlin Hanley, knows beyond a doubt that Mother Russia is where she belongs and that she must be on hand as history is made—if she can figure out how to get there. McColl can help, but should he? All of Downing’s books thus far have had recurring themes of love tested and affected by war, and this one is no exception. This is a sensitive yet action-packed novel of conflict both on international and interpersonal levels as Jack and Caitlin’s goals become more and more polarized with each passing day. Lenin’s Roller Coaster is the third book of the Jack McColl series, and there is a case to be made for reading the other two before jumping into this one, because either way, if you read one, you will read all.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
On the eve of one of the bloodiest battles of World War I, a ragtag group of British officers gathers for one last drink before returning to the front of the Battle of the Somme. Over the course of the evening, the officers discover one thing they have in common: a love for a fairly new invention, the motorcar. They make a solemn vow to meet after the war and stage a motorcar rally from Paris to the French Riviera, not so much a race as it would be a joint affirmation of survival. Five of the seven beat the odds and live through the Somme. After the war, the survivors set off from Paris, each in his own motorcar, heading southward to the sea. And then the inexplicable accidents begin. One by one, the ex-officers succumb to suspicious causes of death. Enter Inspector Ian Rutledge, protagonist of the atmospheric mystery series penned by the mother-and-son writing team known as Charles Todd. Rutledge’s latest adventure, Racing the Devil, finds the Inspector in fine fettle, ably assisted by his right-hand man, the ghost of soldier Hamish MacLeod, who exists only in Rutledge’s battle-scarred memory. Can Rutledge identify and apprehend the killer before yet another of the Somme survivors meets an untimely death? Great pacing and a compelling story make this a delight for fans of history and mystery alike.