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THE FINGER'S TWIST

By Lee Lamothe, Ravenstone, 264 pages, $16

Toronto writer Lee Lamothe has constructed a wonderful noir thriller that owes a lot to Lee Child. Never thought Toronto had any mean streets? Lamothe's story begins with a riot at the legislature and never looks back.

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The central character is Charlie Tate, a failed investigative journalist who lives with an elegant and indecipherable woman called Elodie. The prelude, which gives us as much of Charlie's history as we need, sets up the present and is a beautifully written little story on its own. After that beginning, Lamothe hooks the reader with the riot, introducing Tate's unique family. And then, the plot is on. Charlie and Elodie, who spend their lives helping clients get their money back from crooks, are pulled into their children's world when a friend's daughter is accused of placing a bomb.

Charlie Tate isn't a clone of Jack Reacher. Unlike Jack, Charlie has relationships, kids, community ties. But he's like Reacher in his commitment to truth and in Lamothe's cool precise language. The Finger's Twist should be a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award this year.

FACES IN THE POOL

By Jonathan Gash, St. Martin's, 334 pages, $30.95

It's been a few years since Lovejoy, the slightly bent antiques "divvy," had a really exciting story. The original character, misogynistic, amoral, wildly funny, had drifted through nearly two dozen novels and a lot of the original charm was gone. So here he is, in Gash's 24th Lovejoy book and suddenly, he's fresh again. Is it the prison term he's just about to start? Or maybe it's that the oft-wanted, never caught original toxic bachelor is about to become a bridegroom. Whatever the reason, Faces in the Pool is the best Lovejoy in years.

The prison term is, as usual, undeserved. Fans know that Lovejoy's real crimes are never uncovered, so when he's arrested, it's usually a mistake. This time, though, he has a problem proving it and when he's offered a deal, he takes it. But the is deadlier than a term behind bars. He can go free so long as he marries the wealthy and beautiful Laura Moon. Not that she's eager to become Mrs. L. She wants him to find her former husband. Lovejoy signs on but quickly finds out that marriage, even for convenience, is everything he always feared..

THE MONSTER IN THE BOX By Ruth Rendell, Doubleday Canada, 279 pages, $32.95

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Ruth Rendell is one of crime fiction's most talented and prolific authors. In the past 20 years, she's used her series character, Chief Inspector Wexford, sparingly while turning out her brilliant stand-alone suspense novels and her marvellous series written as Barbara Vine. The Monster in the Box, which takes us back to the very beginning of Wexford's career, is a genuine treat.

It's difficult to think of Wexford as a man with an obsession, but he has one. It's the arrest of Eric Targo, a dog-loving, much-married, rags-to-riches man who, Wexford is convinced, has murdered at least two people. For more than 30 years, Targo has rested at the back of Wexford's brain, appearing at times, fading at others.

Now he's back in Kingsmarkham and Wexford is convinced that he'll kill again. The trouble is that there is absolutely no evidence of any kind to link him with anything close to a crime.

Even Wexford's old pal Burden doesn't believe there's a case to be made. But this is Ruth Rendell and just when we think we've got it all figured out, she twists the plot and takes it right to the very last line.

DEAD MAN'S SHARE

By Yasmina Khadra, translated by Aubrey Botsford, Toby, 357 pages, $18.95, ISBN:978-1-59264-269-4

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This dazzling novel (in a really superb translation from the French) is the world of Yasmina Khadra, the pen name of Mohammed Moulesshoul, a former high-ranking Algerian official who lives in exile in France. It is part of a series set in Algiers and featuring Inspector Brahim Llob of the local police force. It is smart, sophisticated, beautifully plotted and elegantly written. In short, it has it all.

There are four other Llob novels put out by Toby and this one makes references to other cases. I haven't read them yet, but in Dead Man's Share, Llob has to solve a case involving his subordinate, Lieutenant Lino, who ends up in jail. Khadra's portrait of Algerian justice is unsparing, but he keeps the politics within the plot. Not to be missed.

GASLIGHT GROTESQUE

Nightmare Tales Of Sherlock Holmes, edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec,, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 311 pages, $19.95

Sherlock Holmes seems destined to be reborn anew in every generation. Just as Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law transform the Victorian sleuth into a movie action man, this clever collection writes all-new adventures in the style of the old Conan Doyle casebook. Naturally, this isn't the original Holmes, any more than Laurie King's Bee Keeper series is, but these are dashing tales worthy of the new vision of Holmes and fans will adore them even though this select anthology is by some deans of horror and science fiction.

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