By Chevy Stevens, St. Martin's, 410 pages, $28.99
When adoption agencies opened their records, it created new opportunities for mystery writers as well as adopted children. Never Knowing, the new chiller from Vancouverite Chevy Stevens, is about knowing too much. Can murderous tendencies be inherited, like blond hair or freckles?
Set on Vancouver Island, Never Knowing introduces Sara Gallagher, who has a terrific daughter, a burgeoning business refinishing fine antiques, and is about to marry the man she always dreamed of.
But perfection has its price; Sara always felt an outsider in her adoptive family. That leads her to track down her birth mother. But she gets the brush-off. A private detective unravels the why. Sara's birth mother was the only survivor of a rape and murder, the slayer known only as the Campsite Killer. Simple arithmetic proves that Sara is the result of rape. Uglier still, the Campsite Killer is still at large.
When information on Sara's parentage hits the Internet, the story heats up. Crazies threaten. But one just might be the killer, so the police use Sara as bait. Stevens takes us on a wild ride in this action-packed book, despite some obvious red herrings. A terrific weekend read.
Turn Of Mind
By Alice LaPlante, Doubleday Canada, 304 pages, $29.95
For those of a certain age, death is far less frightening then dementia, the central issue of this brilliant debut. Told in the first person by a physician slowly descending into darkness, Turn Of Mind is relentless and chilling.
Dr. Jennifer White was once a superb surgeon. Now, she's the prime suspect in the murder of close friend Amanda. Why and how White became the suspect isn't clear at first. That's because she has no idea what happened. In fact, she has trouble remembering who she is, who her children are, that her husband is dead. For Jennifer, they are all falling into the growing gaps in her memory, in her awareness.
Did Jennifer kill Amanda? If she didn't, does she know who did? But the who and even why pale beside LaPlante's portrait of the remorseless march of Alzheimer's disease and the fear and shame it creates.
By Arnaldur Indridason, Random House Canada, 281 pages, $29.95
A man prepares for a night out in the Reykjavik club scene. He's careful, checking clothes and looks. He's also checking his stash of Rohypnal, the date-rape drug. He's not searching for Ms. Right; he's a rapist on the prowl.
That's the great opener for this latest and best in the excellent Erlendur series. Erlendur is on holiday, at least his squad thinks so. The action falls to Elinborg, the stalwart, somewhat plodding woman on the team. Confronted with murder, she falls back on classic police work. In this case, there seem to be no connections, but Elinborg, a fine cook, alters the mix until she finally gets the finished dish.
The Disciple Of Las Vegas
By Ian Hamilton, Anansi, 357 pages
I loved The Water Rat of Wanchai, the first novel featuring Ava Lee. Now, Ava and Uncle make a return that's even better. Tommy Ordonez is the richest man in the Philippines. He's lost $50-million in a land swindle and he wants Ava to get it back. There's not just money at stake, but face and reputation as well.
Ava follows the cash from Canada to Costa Rica and, incidentally, gives us a very fine insider look at the hot world of online gambling. Off to Las Vegas, where David (The Disciple) Douglas, the world's best poker player, is hosting a game for top spenders. But the bets turn out to be for more than money and Ava and Uncle confront an old adversary. This one is simply irresistible.
Death Of A Lesser Man
By Thomas Rendell Curran, Boulder Publications, 303 pages, $19.95
St. John's, 1947. Shots ring out and murder is done. The dead man is Harrison Rose, local businessman and veteran of the Great War. Just who could want him dead is the job for Inspector Eric Stride of the Newfoundland Constabulary and Rose's neighbour. The murder will take him back into history and an exploration of the darker side of St. John's. This is a terrific sequel to Curran's The Rossiter File.