Friday, July 30, 2010

Mystery Fiction of Summer 2010

As I mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of the mystery genre. This summer, several of my favorite mystery authors released their new books. In this post, I will share my impressions of these new mysteries.

1. Tess Gerritsen writes very hardcore detective mysteries. For some reason that I haven't yet been able to identfy, American female mystery authors write books filled with scenes of unimaginable cruelty, torture and all kinds of horrors in a way that no male writer has been able to equal. You often encounter the following type of sentence in Gerritsen's work:
Entrails glistened in her gaping abdomen, and her freshly thawed flesh dripped pink icemelt into the table drain.
Or the following:
THE MAN’S LEGS were splayed apart, exposing ruptured testicles and the seared skin of buttocks and perineum. The morgue photo had flashed onto the screen without any advance warning from the lecturer, yet no one sitting in the darkened hotel conference room gave so much as a murmur of dismay. This audience was inured to the sight of ruined and broken bodies.
If you are not bothered by these quotes and like really suspenseful mysteries about serial killers, check out Gerritsen's The Apprentice (Jane Rizzoli, Book 2)or The Keepsake: A Novel. This summer, Gerritsen released her new Ice Cold: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel. In my opinion, this is maybe her most suspenseful novel so far. The ending, however, is a bit disappointing. There is also a lot less gore in this novel, probably because of the new TV series based on Gerritsen's books.
2. Lisa Gardner is another mystery author who writes really hardcore stuff about serial killers,
child abusers, and scary stuff like that.

Her new Live to Tell: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel is probably her best novel so far. Many people say that they find the setting of this new novel (a pediatric psych ward for psychotic and sociopathic children) too disturbing. So beware: this book, as well as any book by Tess Gerritsen are not for the squeamish.

If you don't feel disturbed too easily, though, this is a great mystery that is suspenseful, engrossing, and makes you want to gulp it down in one sitting.

3. This is a new author I only just discovered. The Dark Vineyard: A mystery of the French countryside is only the 2nd novel in Martin Walker's mystery series featuring Bruno, a police officer from a small French village of St. Denis.

The Dark Vineyard: A mystery of the French countryside is as unlike the hardcore mysteries of Tess Gerritsen and Lisa Gardner as anything you can imagine. Even though it is a novel about a crome being investigated, it's a lot more centered on the very French joie de vivre (enjoyment of life). Characters in this novel share endless bottles of wine, engage in the wine-making and wine-selling process with glee, prepare delicious meals, and start numerous love affairs.

This is a really calm, relaxed and fun mystery novel that will make you desperate to travel to France as soon as possible.

4. I already wrote about the incomparable Tana French here and here. I'm still hoping that one day she will dare to abandon the pretense of writing mysteries and start writing novels.

In her most recent book Faithful Place: A Novel, she more or less does just that. Only the most innocent of readers will not be able to guess who the murderer is very early in the book. But the identity of the killer is completely secondary here. What mattters is the author's beautiful command of the English language and her talent for creating unique and engrossing characters. Tana French is masterful at creating a character who is a total jerk and making the readers cares what happens to him anyways.

5. Richard North Patterson became famous for writing really great courtroom dramas, such as Degree of Guilt, Eyes of a Child, Caroline Masters, The Outside Man, and others. Then, something happened  and he started writing incredibly boring and convoluted political thrillers. As

a result, he lost a huge chunk of his fan base (including me).

Now, Richard North Patterson is trying to return to the courtroom drama genre that made him famous. In the Name of Honor would be good if only it weren't so similar to a host of other books dealing with the same topic. Of course, if you never read another courtroom drama that has to do with soldiers who fought in Iraq, are suffering from PTSD, and are killing each other as a result, you might enjoy In the Name of Honor. However, after I read John Lescroart's much better Betrayal (Dismas Hardy), I was pretty bored with Patterson's book on the same topic.

Still, I'm glad this author is finally making his way back from the horrible political thrillers he kept writing for a while.

1 comment:

Izgad said...

Take a look at Justin Cronin's The Passage. It has one very cool female heroine.