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The tail end of summer always makes me want lots of treats. I indulge in cold watermelon, walks by the lake, a splurge at the Canadian National Exhibition, and, always, lots of ice cream. That mood also extends to the latest new crime novels.

An Unthinkable Thing, Nicole Lundrigan (Viking, 340 pages)

The Toronto author’s fifth novel is perfect reading for the last lazy golden days of September. We are back in 1958, a time when wickedness was carefully hidden. Tommie Ware is 11 when his aunt, the woman who raised him, is murdered. There is no one to take Tommie except the mother who, for all intents and purposes, abandoned him. Esther is the live-in housekeeper for the wealthy Henneberry family and so Tommie goes there. It’s clear that no one considers Tommie’s residence with the Henneberrys permanent. His mother is “getting things together” and Dr. Henneberry makes it clear that he wants Tommie gone. Meanwhile, Esther is on duty at all times and he’s left to wander the woods and explore the house. At the same time, he’s at the beck and call of 15-year-old Martin Henneberry, who treats him like a playmate one day and a pawn the next.

Gradually, the schisms in the Henneberry family emerge and, as the summer days roll on, events lead to tragedy. It’s at this point that we face the question. Could an 11-year-old commit a truly evil murder? If he didn’t, who did? Lundrigan maintains the pace and keeps the tension and suspense right to the end and there are some really good twists. This is a writer to watch.

Finale: The Lost Decades of Uncle Chow Tung, Ian Hamilton (House of Anansi, 264 pages)

Obit novels are difficult for readers and writers: Although I’m not sobbing for this one, I am sad to say farewell to Uncle Chow Tung, the Triad leader whose varied businesses have provided so many adventures for the excellent Ava Lee. Uncle has been an essential element of this long series and his acumen gave Ava a lot of depth. Sadly, Finale is not the finest of Hamilton’s works. That’s not because it’s weak on plot – mafia money laundered through Triad sources – but because Uncle is also dying and that means we have episodes of illness, reflection and death planning. These are not the elements that drive a mystery plot forward and a dip into his history is revealing – escape from mainland China, a dead beloved – but unfortunately bogs down the momentum.

To help the action, Uncle revisits some of his finest moments with Ava Lee. Those who enjoyed, as I did, The Scottish Banker of Surabaya and The Two Sisters of Borneo, will find those stories, retold from Uncle’s perspective, fun. If you haven’t already discovered those Ava Lee books, read them first, then add in Uncle’s tales. All this makes for a slow pace in what is usually a quick read. But that’s appropriate as we say goodbye to Uncle. For fans, this one is a must read.

A Dreadful Splendour, B. R. Myers (HarperCollins, 416 pages)

This gem of a book sparkles with wit and originality. We are in London, 1852, and it’s the beginning of the heyday of Spiritualism. The aristos are table-turning and paying big fees to mediums who can contact dead relatives. Enter Genevieve Timmons, entrepreneur, whose séances provide a fine cover for her jewel-snatching ring. That crashes when Ms. Timmons is caught. Next act?

Enter Mr. Lockhart, on behalf of a wealthy lord, Mr. Pemberton. Pemberton’s beautiful fiancée died mysteriously six months ago. The authorities say no foul play but Pemberton is convinced that she was murdered and, moreover, by someone close to him. He wants Genevieve to put on her spiritualist show, complete with tricks, and try to ferret out the killer. In exchange, he will get the charges against her dismissed and give her a financial reward sufficient to start a new life. Of course, Genevieve accepts and the game is afoot. There’s no shortage of tricks and feints in this excellent novel and Genevieve is a delightful character. Let’s hope Myers has more plans for mysteries along with the YA novels she usually writes

Reputation, Sarah Vaughan (Atria, 336 pages)

I loved Vaughan’s political thriller, Anatomy of a Scandal (and I loved the Netflix adaptation even more) and now she’s back with another terrific novel set in the backrooms of Westminster. This one, I dare to say, is even better.

Emma Webster is at the top of her game. As a feminist, left-leaning MP, she’s adored by most of her constituents. She’s recently managed to get a law on the books dealing with online sexploitation and she’s featured in a major article on strong successful women. Pride, she recalls, goes before a fall.

The fall is the start of the book. A man is dead in her sitting room and she has every reason to want him dead. In a quick shift, Vaughan sets us in the courtroom where Emma is on trial. Back in time to the events before the murder, her daughter Flora is in trouble, bullied and afraid. There are endless trolls online threatening Emma and her family. Then we hop back to the trial. Then the story moves from Emma to Flora to three other narrators (all with different visions of the truth) and whips again to the trial.

The shifting viewpoints and the slides from one time to the next are becoming Vaughan’s trademark and she does it extremely well. It slows the action of the novel but I like that respite from endless information. I also like having to figure out just who is telling what lies and why. All the plot lines converge beautifully and there are plenty of twists to keep you reading. Don’t know if Netflix has already bought this one but someone certainly should.

Fox Creek, William Kent Krueger (Atria, 388 pages)

Few writers can conjure rural Minnesota like William Kent Krueger. His Cork O’Connor series of nearly 20 novels incorporates the land, the religion and culture of the Ojibwe tribe inhabiting it, and the conflicts of daily life. Fox Creek deals in pure terror but it’s also a fascinating study of the art of tracking a person on the run.

The story begins with Cork, retired sheriff and sometimes private investigator, meeting with a client. The man claims his wife has disappeared and he wants her located. He’s convinced she’s run off with a local man, Henry Meloux. The implication is sex but instantly, Cork knows that’s not true.

When he heads to Meloux’s home to meet with the woman, he discovers that the man hunting her isn’t her husband. Indeed, he’s a total stranger.

This opening leads to a mystery of who wants this woman and why? Then, Henry takes her and goes on the run. Cork must unravel the various threads and, at the same time, find his friends and assist them. This novel has everything but most captivating is the vastness of the Minnesota wilderness, which both hides and protects prey. I didn’t put this one down until the final line.

Cold Cold Bones, Kathy Reichs (Simon & Schuster, 340 pages)

With two dozen books under her belt, Kathy Reichs should be running out of steam but Cold Cold Bones is vintage Reichs. We have Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist, following a trail of weird clues, some good side partners, an excellent Carolina setting, and, best of all, a terrific revenge plot.

The story begins with an eyeball, delivered to Tempe at home, with no note. The eyeball, with GPS co-ordinates etched into it, leads Tempe and her daughter, Katy, to a Benedictine monastery and a grisly reveal. Tempe is hardly on top of the eyeball mystery when another dead body surfaces in a state park. The deaths all seem random but there is one connection; each mimics a case that Tempe investigated years before. Someone is targeting her but why? And, when Katy disappears, it’s clear that the person involved wants Tempe to suffer. This is one of Reichs’s best ever.

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