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Book Reviews Review: New crime fiction by Michael Robotham, Stuart Neville and Rick Mofina

Those We Left Behind

By Stuart Neville, Soho Crime, 352 pages, $27.95

How good does crime writing get? Read this latest from Edgar Award winner Stuart Neville. DCI Serena Flanagan is back. The setting is Belfast, the writing is superb, the characters unforgettable and the plot as slick as the latest headline. A decade ago, Ciaran Devine was a rosy-cheeked 12-year-old schoolboy who confessed to the brutal murder of his foster father. He was found bloody and mute at the scene, along with his older brother Thomas. Serena Flanagan was the only officer who could get a word out of the boy and, although he confessed, she's always had a shred of doubt about the crime, his guilt and his brother. Now Ciaran is 20 and about to be released and Thomas is waiting for him. So is someone else, someone bent on revenge for a long-ago murder. DCI Flanagan is hardly back at her desk after cancer surgery when she discovers that the old cold case of the "schoolboy killer" is back in her life.

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Close Your Eyes

By Michael Robotham, Little, Brown, 400 pages, $32.99

Clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin returns in this creepy psychological thriller. It's not as good as Shatter, Robotham's Ned Kelly Award winning earlier O'Loughlin tale, but it has all the hallmarks that make Robotham one of the best of the new Australian authors. O'Loughlin is called in to handle a mess. Two women are murdered. One was savagely stabbed and mutilated, the other, her daughter, killed and arranged in a Sleeping Beauty pose. Two killers? Or one with strange habits? But the scene is already blown. A man calling himself "mindhunter," a former student of O'Loughlin's, has intruded into the investigation and leaked info to the press. That means every nutcase in Britain is calling in clues and misinformation in a case where, as O'Loughlin quickly discovers, there's no shortage of real clues and viable suspects. Once again, Robotham combines great suspense with really good deduction and psychological jiggery-pokery to make a great don't-put-it-down crime novel.

Every Second

By Rick Mofina, Mira, 448 pages, $11.99

What is it that makes nice Canadian men so good at writing terror-in-the-suburbs books? Linwood Barclay and Rick Mofina both know how to set up an all-American family with the nice house, good yard, sunny life and then: pandemonium. Every Second is one of Mofina's best yet. Dan Fulton is a bank manager who wakes up in the middle of the night to an armed home invasion. The thieves want him to get $250,000 out of the bank. But money isn't all. Fulton, his wife and two children, are abducted, then wired with explosives. The FBI is on the case and so is reporter Kate Page. Just who is holding the family and what's the real reason? Can it be something in the family's past? This is a terrific weekend getaway book.

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