By Walter Mosley, Doubleday, 291 pages, $30
Only the very greatest of crime writers are able to provide the perfect character to evoke the heart and spirit of a place and time: Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe in L.A., Robert B. Parker’s Spenser in Boston, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux in rural Louisiana and New Orleans. From the very first line of his first novel, Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series set in post-Second World War Los Angeles was one of those greats. Anyone who read Devil In A Blue Dress knew that something great was coming and, 12 books on, it’s still arriving.
Little Green is faster, smarter, and more gutsy than any of its predecessors. It takes us into the L.A. of the Sixties when sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll ruled the world.
Fans know that in the last novel, Easy was in a car going over a cliff. He’s survived physically, but mentally he’s a wreck. When he and Mouse undertake the search for a missing man, “Little Green,” they are led to hard drugs and a conjure woman whose potent “Gator’s Blood” gives Easy more than a new take on life. Those of us old enough to remember 1967 and all that promise will get our own revival. Mosley writes mysteries but they’re also literary jewels and priceless social history.
The Missing File
By D.A. Mishani, HarperCollins, 289 pages, $22.99
This brilliant debut novel by Israeli editor and crime fiction expert introduces Detective Avraham Avraham in an extraordinary case of a missing child. The setting is Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, and the case is further confounded by the intrusive “help” of a local schoolteacher who soon becomes a potential suspect.
Don’t expect a nice little tourism package. This is a gritty police procedural in the finest European fashion. Avraham is a “grey man” from suit to visage to outlook, and the case depends on solid detection. One of the best crime books ever to come from Israel.
By Nicci French, Viking, 370 pages, $29.50
The husband-and-wife team of Sean French and Nicci Gerrard have, until now, kept away from the recurring character psychotherapist Frieda Klein, first seen in Blue Monday, proved too good a character to drop. Frieda returns, along with DCI Karlson in a very chilling thriller about death and madness.
The story begins with a social worker visiting one of her mental patients. The woman is serving tea and buns to a naked corpse with a missing finger. This brings in DCI Karlson, who hopes that Frieda Klein can make some sense of the confused woman’s ramblings and find out how the body got into her flat. This is a great psychological thriller with all the Nicci French touches. Not to be missed.
By Robert Rotenberg, Simon & Schuster, 358 pages, $19.99
Toronto criminal lawyer Robert Rotenberg is back with his fourth and best mystery featuring Detective Ari Greene. Fans know that Rotenberg is a master of the classic courtroom drama, but he’s also highly knowledgeable about Canadian police procedure. In this case, where Greene himself is the suspect in a murder, you get a double shot where the police job is to find the evidence to convict while Greene, on house arrest and unable to tap his usual police resources, is in search of evidence to save himself. There are lots of twists here and it’s fun for Toronto readers to follow the clues on streets we know.
The End Of The World In Breslau
By Marek Krajewski, Melville International Crime, 294 pages, $25.95
Fans of Bernie Gunther take note: Criminal Counsellor Eberhard Mock of Breslau, Poland, is just as cerebral and atmospheric and Marek Krajewski’s plot lines are every bit as complicated as Philip Kerr’s. If you haven’t already discovered Mock, this is the perfect book to begin
It’s 1927 and Breslau is booming in every way. When two elaborately staged murders occur, it’s up to Detective Mock to find the culprit and clean up the mess. But the two victims – a musician and a locksmith – have nothing in common but their deaths and the killer’s signature, a calendar page of the date. The trail leads to Breslau’s underbelly, a place Mock knows too well. As he hunts for a killer, his wife comes under suspicion. When you’ve finished this one, you’re going to want the two earlier novels and you can always re-read Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir.
By Jean-Claude Izzo, World Noir, 211 pages, U.S. $15
Gutsy, gritty, grimy – all the “G” words belong to Jean-Claude Izzo’s brilliant Marseilles Trilogy. Solea is the last (and alas, one of the author’s final works), but, if you haven’t read Chourmo and Total Chaos, the first two, you’ll want to start at the beginning.