Mysteries (2017)

Memory Man by Amos Decker

Amos Decker’s NFL career was over before it began when he was seriously injured in a “helmet-to-helmet” collision during his first play. While he eventually recovers from his injuries, he is left with two side effects: “hyperthymesia, which means [he] never forgets anything,” and synesthetes – he counts in color, “sees” time and sometimes associates color with people or objects.

Twenty years after his wife, daughter and brother-in-law are murdered, Amos is called back in to help his former police colleagues investigate a horrific crime. Are the two incidents related? Is the man who confessed to killing his family truly guilty?

Memory Man is riveting. Baldacci aptly balances the description and dialogue and will keep your attention till the very last page.

This book will appeal to Baldacci fans and those who like a fast-paced thriller with an urban tone.

Read-alikes:
The Amos Decker Series by David Baldacci
The Kendra Michaels Series by Iris Johanson
The Lucas Davenport Series by John Sandford

Sue Ketcham, B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library, LIU Post



Deadfall by Linda Fairstein

This is the 19th and most recent entry in the Alexandra Cooper series, all but one of which are set in the Metropolitan New York City area. Cooper is an assistant DA working as the Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit of the NYPD, but she often finds herself involved in a murder investigation with her longtime friends and colleagues: NYPD Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace. All of the Fairstein books feature a particular part of New York City of which she gives a history of that location...in Deadfall, that location is the Bronx Zoo and the crime is trafficking, both of exotic animals and drugs. Working without the guidance of her mentor District Attorney Paul Battaglia, and still recovering from her own kidnapping, Alex joins the investigation of the murder of her boss.

Linda Fairstein was the first head of the Sex Crimes Unit and brings authenticity to her mysteries. The history and background of the different areas of New York City is interesting and makes the books more enjoyable. For readers who like action, police and NYC history.

Read-alikes:
Patricia Cornwell
Kathy Reichs
Lisa Scottoline

Kathy Carter, Riverhead Free Library



The Night Bird by Brian Freeman

As the novel begins, roommates Lucy and Brynn are stuck in a traffic jam on a San Francisco bridge. Lucy has an extreme fear of bridges, so the moment traffic will move again can’t come fast enough for her. Suddenly, Brynn begins to scream and flail about maniacally. She exits the car and, ultimately, jumps off the bridge. Why is a puzzlement—to Lucy, to Brynn’s boyfriend, and  to her family. Enter Frost Easton—the detective assigned to the case. As his investigation proceeds, other deaths with similar characteristics—a psychotic episode followed by suicide—come to light. Each takes place as a particular song plays somewhere in the background, and with each incident a person wearing a macabre face mask is noticed lurking nearby. The most significant similarity is that all of the victims are former patients of psychiatrist Dr. Francesca Stein. A doctor renowned for administering a controversial and apparently successful method of erasing a patient’s memory of a traumatic incident—an incident that manifests itself in a lasting and extreme phobia. Detective Frost makes the connection between the doctor and the victims, but the doctor’s reluctance to share confidential information makes the investigation a race against time before the next victim is claimed.

An extremely suspenseful read, The Night Bird is a psychological thriller that will keep a reader guessing throughout. With a roster of possible suspects, the characters are fully developed, and as complex relationships develop, we learn about their own personal fears and secrets. Freeman’s style of writing creates an element of tension that will engage the reader from the very first to the novel’s provocative conclusion. Though some bizarre crime scenes are depicted, they are more creepy than hard-core, making this a palatable read for a general audience.

Read-alikes:
J.T. Ellison
It Takes One by Kate Kessler
Cold Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Deb Fermosa, Northport-East Northport Public Library



The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

We meet Private Detective Cormoran Strike just as his luck is about to change. Battered and tired, Strike has just broken up with his fiance and resolved to living in the office of his agency, which is also in dire straits. Despite his service in the Special Investigative Branch of the Royal Military Police and the war in Afghanistan, for which he lost a leg, Strike currently has a lack of clients and and a growing debt. Enter Robin Ellacott, the unexpected secretary and John Bristow, the wealthy new client. Robin, a fortuitous arrival from a temp agency, proves to be an enthusiastic, resourceful and intuitive partner to Strike’s sleuthing when his next big case is presented to him by John Bristow, the brother of a childhood friend.

Bristow is also the brother of supermodel Lula Landry, whose lethal fall from a third floor window, covered heavily by the press, was ultimately ruled a suicide by police. Refusing to accept this verdict, Bristow hires Strike to reopen the case, thrusting Strike into the world of the rich and famous.  Although Strike himself is the son of well-known singer Jonny Rokeby and supergroupie Leda Strike, the glitz and glamour of fame is unfamiliar to him. As Strike brushes shoulders with the likes of musicians, fashion designers, film producers, drug addicts and supermodels during his investigation, the secrets he uncovers about Lula, her social circle, and her family are much darker than what appears on the surface.

Galbraith draws this mystery to a satisfying close, with an ending that is both surprising and completely logical once it is revealed. Fans of this novel will be happy to learn this is the first in a series. The second book, The Silkworm, and the third, Career of Evil, are available to read now, with a fourth book, Lethal White is in the works. The series is also quite enjoyable to listen to on audiobook, with Robert Glenister providing the narration. Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, the BBC series Strike has been picked up by HBO for broadcast in the United States.

Deception also surrounds the author of this book. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for none other than Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Galbraith’s writing is suspenseful and descriptive; his characters Strike and Ellacott immensely likable. This page-turner is recommended to any reader who enjoys a mystery, and has an interest in celebrities and Hollywood. Fans of entertainment news shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood and those who enjoy gossip magazines would like this book as well.

Read-alikes:
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George
Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta

Jill Wylie, Hauppauge Public Library



The Thirst by Jo Nesbo

After his last case, recounted in Nesbo’s tenth Harry Hole thriller titled “Police”, the Oslo detective is physically and emotionally exhausted. In fact, he has left the force with the firm conviction that he must concentrate only on protecting the family he loves from experiencing further horrors because of his dangerous career. This resolution falls away when Harry learns of a serial killer who targets Tinder daters, a monster whose MO reminds Harry of an old nemesis only Harry can stop: the story of how he does makes this one of the darkest Nordic noir reads ever!

This serial killer is a vampirist, so the story is certainly not for the faint of heart. Victims are bitten to death (with a metal set of teeth), and, yes, the killer drinks their blood. The story is very dark.  Several of the “side” characters are villains of different sorts: Harry’s boss Police Chief Mikael Bellman who blackmails Harry to lead the investigation, and academic expert Hallstein Smith who consults regarding vampirism. Further, Harry’s beloved wife Rakel becomes seriously ill during the course of what may well be the most difficult case of Harry’s career, made all the more difficult by Harry’s constant inner demon and alcohol battles.

Read-alikes:
The Lisbeth Salander Series by Steig Larrson
The Kurt Wallander Series by Henning Mankell
The Harry Hole Series by Jo Nesbo

Suzanne McGuire, Commack Public Library



Though This Be Madness by Penny Richards

1881, Chicago. In the second of her Lilly Long Mysteries, Richards has Lilly assigned to her second case as a Pinkerton agent. Lilly still needs to prove herself—both as a novice detective and as a woman in a man’s world. Agent Andrew Cadence McShane needs to redeem himself for conduct unbecoming to a Pinkerton—a grief-driven drunken brawl. As if their forced partnership wasn’t bad enough, the agents must pose as husband and wife servants in the troubled household of a wealthy New Orleans Cajun family, the Fontenots.

Once in the Fontenot mansion, the detectives uncover secrets, betrayal, voodoo curses—and murder. Lilly and Cadence must work together to expose the true villain in this case and rescue the hapless Patricia Ducharme, a Fontenot, thrown into an insane asylum by her husband in order to get at her share of the Fontenot fortune.

The plot is intriguing with humor, drama, suspense, and a very satisfactory ending. Richards makes use of historical details and vocabulary of the Gilded Age to enrich the narration. The third book in the series, Murder Will Speak is due in April 2018.

Read-alikes:
Alice and the Assassin: An Alice Roosevelt Mystery by R.J. Koreto
Murder at Chateau Sur Mer by Alyssa Maxwell
What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson
An Untimely Frost by Penny Richards

Grace O'Connor, West Islip Public Library, Retired



Golden Prey by John Sandford

Lucas Davenport, who’s been with the Minneapolis BCA for the last several years, makes a shift to the U.S. Marshalls after he receives an offer from the Presidential candidate, whom he helped save in the last novel. Part of his new job is being able to pick the cases he wants without interference from bureaucracy and red tape so when a drug cartel killing happens in Mississippi that includes the death of a six-year-old girl, Lucas decides to get involved especially when he suspects the killer is a fugitive the police have been after for more than a decade.

Lucas is a hardened cop through and through and has the “shoot first ask questions later” attitude to go with it. He gets the job done and doesn’t have a problem helping other cops and asking for help in return. As he travels from Mississippi to New Mexico trying to not only track down the killers but also the cartel hitmen who are after the killers, he encounters mutilated bodies, money, gold, and a ton of trouble. The story line moves quickly and Lucas’ dry wit is evident as he gets in and out of trouble time and again. Other than his family, Virgil Flowers is the only other reoccurring character from previous books who makes a brief appearance so those looking for interactions between his old team may be slightly disappointed although it doesn’t detract from the story or from Lucas’ personality. 

The book is action-packed with shootouts, manhunts and a final showdown in the New Mexico desert when the killers try to cross the border into Mexico. The story moves as the reader follows the multiple storylines of Lucas’ investigation, the killers trying to escape and the cartel’s hitmen trying to retrieve the stolen money and avenge the death of their people. Great for guys, those who love hardened cops and aren’t very squeamish and anyone who enjoys the process that goes into solving a case and tracking the criminals until the end no matter what.

Read-alikes:
The Harry Bosch Series by Michael Connelly
The John Corey Series by Nelson DeMille
The D.D. Warren Series by Lisa Gardner

Azuree Agnello, West Babylon Public Library



The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

The Kept Woman opens with a murder. It's a bloody scene with Angie Polaski cradling the body of a stabbed woman, the daughter she abandoned as a baby. The killer is just at the door to the room in the warehouse where Angie is hiding. Slaughter build suspense with detailed descriptions of the blood-soaked room and the noise of the approaching killer. It is a difficult novel to put down even if gritty murder mystery isn't your first choice. 

Will Trent is called to the investigation because a former Atlanta cop was found dead at a construction site near the warehouse. The construction site is a former nightclub that belongs to a professional basketball player who Will investigated for rape and who beat the charges with high profile attorneys. Sara Linton, the medical examiner, is called to the scene. She happens to be Will's girlfriend although no one knows this.

Slaughter gives details of the medical examiner's examination of the crime scene as well as details to the investigation. The reader is drawn in to how the evidence is reviewed and used to piece together what could have happened at the crime scene. A gun is found and traced to Angie Polaski, who is Will's estranged wife. Blood samples from the scene are taken for testing. Will fears that the blood is his wife's and even though he has been trying to file for divorce, he still cares about her. 

Slaughter creates complicated plots and subplots with many surprise results. Her characters are drawn with depth and complexity. While a character may seem despicable, Slaughter makes the reader see other sides to their character, which may make for a redeemable side to them.

There are several story lines in the novel to keep the reader intrigued. There is the love triangle between Will, Sara and Angie. There is the interest in how the pro-basketball player may be involved in the murder. There is the death of the cop and Angie's husband who is implicated in other crimes as well. There are many loose ends that Slaughter manages to tie up all the while keeping the reader wondering what will happen to the main characters in the end.

This type of gritty mystery may not appeal to everyone. The plot takes may turns and the reader will meet violent and tough characters. But the surprise plot turns and clues make putting the novel down difficult. The reader will want to know how it all ends. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy fast-paced, plot-driven mysteries and do not mind a little violence and tough characters.

Read-alikes:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

Myrna Velez, Brentwood Public Library