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Detail from illustration prepared for the print version of this story (Sam Kalda for The Globe and Mail)
Detail from illustration prepared for the print version of this story (Sam Kalda for The Globe and Mail)

Reviews

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Seven Days

By Deon Meyer, Random House Canada, 343 pages, $24.95

Deon Meyer continues his string of superb, tightly constructed timeline thrillers. Coming on the heels of the breath-holding Thirteen Hours, Seven Days takes us into the heart of a major police hunt for a killer targeting policemen as he demands the investigation of a seemingly unsolvable cold case.

Cape Town detective Bennie Griessel has been sober for 200-plus days when a sniper shoots the leg out from under a cop on the beat. The shooter demands that the police reopen the murder of Hanneke Sloet, a lawyer shot at her front door. There are no clues, no motives, nothing. But the sniper says he will shoot a policeman every day the case stays open. It’s Griessel’s case, and with a phone call, he can summon high-tech forensics, get priority for emergency or SWAT teams. But despite it all, there’s still the slow grind of the hunt for clues, motives, connections. Further complications come from political pressures on the top police officials.

Meyer spices all this with a delicate bit of romance, as Bennie attempts to manages his relationship with his alcoholic girlfriend, Alexa.

 

The Double Game

By Dan Fesperman, Knopf,

356 pages, $32

Espionage novels have suffered since the end of the Cold War, although Dan Fesperman has done all he can to resolve that. This terrific tale is at once a finely crafted espionage story and a dazzling homage to grand masters of spy fiction. There is also a fabulous appendix that lists all the great novels by year. See what you have missed, if any.

 

Syndrome E

By Franck Thilliez, translated by Mark Polizzotti, Viking, 371 pages, $28.50

This excellent translation of the bestselling French thriller is bound to keep Coma fans fascinated, as a cinephile goes blind while watching a mysterious film from the 1950s. Despite that beginning, this is a classic policier. Detective Lucie Hennebelle investigates, and the trail leads to a murder investigation led by Sûreté Inspector Franck Sharko. There is a fascinating and true Canadian connection that, should you wish, you can explore in more detail in In The Sleep Room, by Anne Collins. Let’s hope Hennebelle and Sharko make another appearance.

 

Grave Concern

By Judith Millar, General Store Publishing House, 310 pages, $22

Grave Concern is Calgarian Judith Millar’s first novel, and it’s as good a debut as any I have seen. The setting is rural Ontario, and in Kate Smithers, underemployed English major, we have a delightful heroine. Kate has been on the Prairies, and when her parents are killed in an accident, it seems a good time to return to her old hometown and the house she grew up in. How does a middle-aged (almost), overeducated single woman earn a modest living in these parlous times? She sets herself up as a grave-tender. That leads her to some fascinating local folks, a touch of magic and a family mystery.

 

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