Time to Kill – The New York Times


by Derek B. Miller HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY IN THE DARK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 368 p., $26) it is clearly tailored to my tastes and I am its ideal reader. I suspect others will feel the same way; that kind of book.

The book coincides with the Second World War and grapples with the American mid-century, particularly how Jews adapted (and did not and did not). Grossinger’s, the famous Catskills resort, has an outstanding middle ground, a haven for avid stand-up comics, summer visitors, and stubborn spouses. There’s gangsters and thieves, lost and found loves, murder and revenge.

First of all, there’s Sheldon Horowitz, who was first introduced in Miller’s exciting 2013 debut,”Norwegian by night“At the time, he was an old man struggling with accumulated losses. Here, at age 12, the deaths of her mother (accidental movie fire) and father (a car accident posing as an accident) are fresh, open wounds. It’s his duty to avenge his father, but that mission changes as Sheldon grows up thinking about family loyalty, the price of assimilation, and his love for America, even if the country doesn’t love him back.

In less confident hands many moving parts would become a mess. However, Miller effortlessly plays each item. Character portraits are indelible, often heartbreaking. Sometimes this novel had me in tears, the highest compliment possible.

Cassie Woodson, the narrator of Lindsay Cameron’s crazy journey in a novel, JUST A LOOK (Ballantine, 291 p., $27), was once on a professional orbit: fancy degree, prestigious white shoe law firm, partner trail. After that career explodes under cloudy conditions, she finds herself entering a different practice and spending her days reviewing other lawyers’ correspondence as part of an ongoing fraud case.

“I loved reading these emails. “There was something I particularly valued in other people’s private conversations,” Cassie says. Never mind that partners really need to ignore their personal emails. What’s the harm in reading just one? Cassie knows she shouldn’t, but she knows, and she soon falls down a rabbit hole filled with betrayal, betrayal, and danger.

Drawing on Cameron’s own experience as a lawyer, his first thriller is one of the most instinctively accurate interpretations of corporate law in the final fiction. It’s also a delicious and wonderfully controlled portrayal of a woman’s delusions and how they corrupt her but also create something new and whole.

One of the unwritten rules of detective fiction is that you can kill as many people as you want, but woe to anyone who kills a few animals, let alone a few animals. Like all unwritten rules, this can only be overcome with a high degree of skill; almost never done. (Carol O’Connell did brilliantly in the opening episode of her 1994 debut, “Mallory’s Oracle”; After that, the list gets thinner.)

So I admire Greg Buchanan’s audacity. In her first novel, SIXTEEN AT (Flatiron, 464 p., $27.99), He is not afraid of horse slaughter.

Outside of Ilmarsh, England, a farmer and his daughter discovered 16 horse heads buried in one of the marshy fields, each completely covered with earth except for one eye.

When Alec Nichols, a local police detective, visits the crime scene at dawn, he is surprised by how deserted it is. “Chalky boulders scattered the plot in all directions. Every step on this place was as muddy and wet as the last one. … Just three meters away was a large pile of black hair, almost the same color as the mud itself, curled in thick, silky spirals.” Nichols soon turns to forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen for help, whose work at the mass grave site leads first to the discovery of mysterious pathogens, and then to the infuriating disappearances and murders of human nature.

Buchanan’s narration could benefit from being looser, with fewer flashbacks and plot twists. But his dotted prose creates believable suspense, and the horror at its climax is duly earned. Here’s a literary thriller that isn’t afraid to take risks, bending the genre rules to its will.

There are many rich pop-culture depictions of life in ancient Rome. One of the best is Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco detective series, which combines meticulous research, puns, caustic characters and powerful fiction over 20 books.

Falco handed the stage over to his adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, who plays the role of “private informant” or detective in “The Ides of April.”

Eight books later, A COMEDY OF TERROR (Minotaur Books, 336 p., $27.99) He finds Albia in a professional recession. The Saturnalia festival, circa 89 AD, is about to begin, and this is a time to celebrate, not research. But then a toxic combination of organized crime, belligerent workers and the interests of her husband Tiberius touches events that endanger the festival and put many lives in danger, including her own.

Flavia Albia’s witty, sarcastic voice is perhaps too reminiscent of Falco’s, but she’s also a jovial, tricky friend to spend time with, just like her father.


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