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book review

The Crossing

By Michael Connelly, Little, Brown, 388 pages, $34

Michael Connelly remains one of the most reliable writers in the PI crowd. Thirty books on, his plots get tougher and his characters more engaging. The only thing better than Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer) is having the pair together and that's what The Crossing delivers, one of the best of Connelly's tales. Harry Bosch is chafing at life after retirement. Enter Haller, his half-brother (if you don't know the connection, you missed a book in the series) with a client in need of an investigator. The charge is murder and Mickey is convinced it's a set-up. Harry still has connections within the LAPD but when he digs into the case, he finds someone is tracking him and the trail gets murkier and more dangerous. You won't put this one down from first page to last.

One Man's Flag

By David Downing, Soho, 384 pages, $27.95

One Man's Flag is the second in David Downing's series featuring Jack McColl who, thus far, is a simple British spy in love with the sister of an IRA officer. That was the first book, Jack Of Spies. The second book is, if anything, even better. McColl is in India, guarding the Empire's flank while his beloved Caitlin Hanley is in England counting down the days until her brother Colm's execution for treason. Trouble is, Hanley knows that Colm's treason was discovered and exposed by McColl. The plot, which involves Bengali politicians negotiating with the Kaiser's foreign office, has McColl heading to Germany where Caitlin will also end up on business of her own. Love and war are not easy in 1915. Downing is a master at bringing little-known history to light and building great plots around it. It helps that he knows how to pace a story and develop characters that stay in the mind. Can't wait for the next episode.

Safe As Houses

By Susan Glickman, Cormorant, 222 pages, $20

It's great to read a book set in Toronto and Susan Glickman, poet, editor, critic and creative writing professor, does it proud in this debut mystery set in the lovely hidden enclave of Wychwood Park. The story begins with bookstore owner Liz Ryerson walking her dog in the park. Dog smells something, goes to hunt, scratches up a body. Suddenly, we are in whodunit land, with a totally familiar setting which Glickman sketches like a master. Reading along, I was reminded often of the late great Eric Wright's wonderful cop novels and Jack Batten's PI stories, both located in Toronto neighbourhoods with people anyone might recognize as types. All that said, the mystery is a good one, with a nice puzzle and a deft, smart woman to sort out the clues. It's short and fun and well-written and perfect for a rainy afternoon at home. Let's hope Liz Ryerson returns soon.

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