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Book Reviews New crime fiction from Kelley Armstrong, Ausma Zehanat Khan and Ian Hamilton

A Darkness Absolute

By Kelley Armstrong

Random House Canada, 416 pages, $29.95

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This sequel to City of the Lost is, simply, terrific. Homicide detective Casey Duncan returns to Rockton, the oddball Yukon town for people who want to remain off the grid. There's no telephones, e-mail – or regular mail, for that matter – and hardly any electricity. If you come to Rockton, you're cut off from the outside world. That suits Casey just fine, but just why she wants to stay hidden is too good a story to divulge here. When Casey and another deputy discover a fellow Rockton resident who has been held captive for a year, they know they're on the trail of a sadist. Then two bodies turn up. Kelley Armstrong's plot is complex and shows why Casey Duncan is a detective to watch.

Among the Ruins

By Ausma Zehanat Khan

Minotaur, 368 pages, $36.99

A distinguished jurist and professor, as well as a skilled novelist, Ausma Zehanat Khan brings us the third in a series featuring Iranian-Canadian police offiver Esa Khattak. Those who've read The Language of Secrets, Khan's previous novel, know how good she is. Among the Ruins is better. The book begins with Khattak back in Iran, reconnecting with his culture and heritage. His vacation is cut short when he's approached by the Canadian consulate to look into the suspicious death of a Canadian-Iranian filmmaker, a death that is both high-profile and political dynamite. The trail not only leads Khattak back to Canada, but all the way to Iran's royal family. This one melds politics, religion and a deeply intelligent plot.

The Couturier of Milan

By Ian Hamilton

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House of Anansi, 400 pages, $19.95

The latest in the excellent series starring Ava Lee, businesswoman extraordinaire, The Couturier of Milan is another winner for Ian Hamilton. Fans of the books know that Ava has moved into the world of high fashion and, this time out, she finds herself in London for Fashion Week to launch her fashion line. The launch proves a success, leading to a meeting with a huge fashion conglomerate in Milan, Italy's fashion capital. This being an Ava Lee novel, things don't go as planned, leading to a showdown with the Italian Mafia. The novel is a hoot. At a point where most crime series start to run out of steam, Ava Lee just keeps rolling on.

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