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The Hunter, Tana French (Penguin, 480 pages) French is rapidly rising to the top of the finest crime writers and this new book, a sequel to The Searcher is one of the best of the decade. It takes us back to the hamlet of Ardnakelty, Ireland, where retired Chicago cop Cal Hooper lives in what he hopes will be peace and quiet.

Of course we now know that Ardnakelty is rife with feuds, tensions, mistrust and lies. Still, Hooper has made his peace with his neighbours, and two years on, has a relationship with a local woman, Lena, and his foster daughter, Trey. Things are looking good until Trey’s feckless father, Johnny, appears with an English millionaire in tow selling the idea of a gold mine in the county. People who ordinarily would toss the pair into the street are lured by the idea.

Books we're reading and loving this week: Globe staff and readers share their picks

What happens is unpredictable. French is a mistress of dialogue and setting. And justice is not always legal, as we learned earlier. I couldn’t stop reading this book and can only hope that Hooper returns again.

Knife Skills For Beginners, Orlando Murrin (HarperCollins Canada, 325 pages) Devotees of British cooking shows may already know Orlando Murrin for his appearances on the BBC and his Masterchef wins, as well as his flock of cookbooks. His talent for British mystery is every bit as stellar as his culinary prowess and his first novel is a witty little British cozy.

Paul Delamare, a recent widower and an expert chef, is lured by his friend Christian, a celebrity chef, into teaching a class at an exclusive Belgravia cookery school. Christian promises to put in an appearance on a regular basis and Paul will get out of the house and make a little money. The students – mostly women, mostly rich – will get some basic skills and a photo-op with Christian and everyone should leave happy.

As we can predict, this is not going to happen. Pretty soon bodies start to drop and Paul finds himself accused and confused. Murrin gives us a lot of insight into what goes into making a star chef. The full-page description of his knives is worth the price of the book and that’s only one of many smart bits. Will this be a series? I hope so.

The Boy Who Cried Bear, Kelley Armstrong (Minotaur, 339 pages) This is the latest in the Haven’s Rock series by Armstrong, one of Canada’s most prolific and best selling authors. For those who don’t already know, Haven’s Rock is a town somewhere in North America, where people who need to disappear can go. There, surrounded by woods, they are safe and can live peaceful lives. Detective Casey Duncan and her husband sheriff Eric Dalton are tasked with keeping that peace.

There are few rules in Haven’s Rock but one is hard and fast. Residents do not leave the town and do not wander off into the woods alone. There are good reasons for this, aside from inviting unwanted attention. The woods are full of danger. So after a kid spots a bear tracking a hiking party, Eric and Casey go on the hunt. But the boy says there was something different about this bear: It had “human” eyes. Eric and Casey are not inclined to ignore his account but why does a wild animal appear human? Save this one for the first weekend at the cottage.

To the Dogs, Louise Welsh (Canongate, 328 pages) Professor Jim Brennan is a vice-principal of a major university in Glasgow and on the short list to become principal. He’s also a noted criminologist, on call for expert advice, and has come a long way for a man who started life as the son of a Glasgow criminal.

His son Eliot, however, was a bullying teen, graduated to drugs and then to dealing. Now, he’s in jail after breaking bail and he’s going to die unless his father can save him by committing a seriously criminal act. Jim sets out to save his son and, at the same time, save himself. That’s the barest bones of a complicated plot that dodges and weaves and keeps you reading. Welsh, a creative writing professor at Glasgow University, loves her city and takes us right into the heart of a great university. If you like this one, get The Cutting Room, her first novel; it’s almost as good.

Blind Spots, Thomas Mullen (Minotaur, 315 pages) This book was published last year and, somehow, it got past me then so I’m reviewing the paperback because it’s simply terrific. There are a lot of writers who try to blur genres, particularly with science fiction and mystery. Most don’t succeed but there are exceptions: Robert Sawyer (Illegal Alien) and P.D. James (The Children Of Men) spring to mind and, of course, Stephen King. Blind Spots isn’t quite in that league but it’s pretty close.

We are in a dystopian world. Seven years ago, a virus appeared and blinded virtually everyone on Earth. From the Blinding emerged chaos. Starvation, fire, suicides, murders and every other catastrophe imaginable and unimagined. Then, a wunderkind, blind from birth, invented the vidder, a personal computer that allows sight to pass directly to the brain. The vision isn’t perfect but it’s functional. Order is restored and the inventor becomes the richest and most powerful man on earth.

Then, a man is murdered, shot in front of a witness who says that the crime was done by a black shadow. Not possible, says the vidder inventor and the police. Homicide detective Mark Owens is ready to write off the witness as the executioner until he sees a black shadow himself. But no one believes him, either.

There are three really good twists in this novel and I didn’t see any of them coming. If you’ve missed Mullen in Darktown and The Rumor Game, you can start here and move backward. He’s emerging as one of the top crime authors around.

Listen for the Lie, Amy Tintera (Celadon, 335 pages) I loved this smart, tightly written novel from the first line: “A podcaster has decided to ruin my life so I’m buying a chicken.” If you can resist that opening, you’ve got more willpower than me.

The podcaster is Ben Owens and his podcast is Listen for the Lie. The current edition of the true crime series deals with a murder in the small town of Plumpton, Tex. Four years earlier, two local women, both pretty and popular, go out and one ends up dead. The other is found wandering the streets covered in her friend’s blood – and she has amnesia. Since the police have no proof, the case goes cold and she heads to L.A. to start a new life. But then comes the podcast and her new life crashes. The premise is irresistible and the writing moves quickly.

The Antique Hunter’s Guide To Murder, C.L. Miller (Atria Books, 289 pages) The plot of this excellent debut novel begins when antique hunter Freya Lockwood learns that her former mentor, antiques dealer Arthur Crockleford, has died and the circumstances are downright suspicious.

Freya left her sedate English village 20 years ago, vowing never to return and certainly not to see Arthur again. Then she receives a letter from him, posted shortly before his death asking her to investigate a possible crime. So it’s time to go back to the past as she joins her eccentric aunt Carole, Arthur’s friend, and heads to an old manor house for a spectacular sale that may open the case for murder. This one is a great little whodunit in the classic style with lots of fun bits of antiques lore added.

Finlay Donovan Rolls the Dice, Elle Cosimano (Minotaur, 320 pages) This is the fourth book in the series and it’s as clever and witty as the other three.

Amateur sleuth Finlay Donovan and her sidekick, Vero, are headed to Atlantic City for multiple reasons. Vero’s childhood crush Javi has been kidnapped by a notorious and dangerous loan shark. There’s also a stolen car to be found. Meanwhile, Finlay’s ex-husband, Steven, and her mother tag along for what they hope is a weekend of fun and frolic.

When the gang arrives at a seedy casino hotel, Finlay and Vero quickly discover that the loan shark isn’t about to negotiate the release of Javi and the car is gone, too. The loan shark wants to know what happened to his nephew, Ike, who mysteriously disappeared. Finlay and Vero know but they can’t tell anyone anything. The cops show up also looking for Ike – and then someone ends up dead and Vero and Finlay are obvious suspects, and the car is still gone. If you’ve followed this, it’s just the beginning of this wildly funny trip to the casino and the perfect introduction to the Donovan clan.

Lone Wolf, Gregg Hurwitz (Minotaur, 386 pages) How to keep a long-running series fresh is a problem that all series authors face. Few are up to the task but Gregg Hurwitz has managed so far with Orphan X. Lone Wolf is the ninth in his series featuring Evan Smoak and it’s proof that a character can grow and strengthen as the books go on.

Evan is Nowhere Man, the transformed assassin who started literary life as Orphan X. Nowhere Man goes anywhere and everywhere to assist the desperate and alone. His formidable skills are in the service of justice regardless of place or legality. This time, Evan himself is facing a personal crisis but he’s called to assist a little girl who’s lost her pet dog. How can a highly trained assassin who has brought down a president resist?

The lost puppy is going to lead to something definitively evil. We can always count on Hurwitz for that but it’s the continuing evolution of Evan Smoak that will keep readers glued to this book and this series for more adventures to come.

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