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Books

Suspense: Latest Roy Grace tale a gritty, tough read

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/1/2015 (865 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Peter James's Roy Grace police procedurals set in the unexpectedly cesspoolish Brighton are never a laugh a minute, but Want You Dead (Minotaur, 416 pages, $32) is almost unreadable at times.

A young woman is stalked by an obsessive computer genius who wants to destroy her if he can't have her, and will torture anyone who means anything to her. There's at least one death that verges on torture porn, and others not necessarily connected to the main plot come out of nowhere.

Meanwhile, Grace is preparing to wed his beloved Cleo, while his declared-dead wife Sandy lurks in the shadows, plotting who-knows-what.

It's very well-written but really, really tough reading.

***

Murder follows underachieving university sessional lecturer and narrator Miranda (Randy) Craig everywhere she goes in Edmonton in Janice MacDonald's The Roar of the Crowd (Ravenstone, 316 pages, $17).

Randy's scored a term contract running a summer Shakespeare camp for drama keeners, bringing her into close contact with academics and theatre types mixed up in murder in the arts.

Is a job as a theatre's artistic director worth killing for? Could Randy's tenured best friend be the killer?

The Roar of the Crowd is a terrific little mystery, though author Janice Macdonald might show a little more sensitivity towards violent death.

***

Everybody likes an origin story. In Reykjavik Nights (Random House UK, 304 pages, $29), angst-ridden ace Icelandic police detective Erlendur Sveinson is a rookie traffic cop working the overnight shift back in the day.

Author Arnaldur Indridason's popular detective Erlendur has always been driven by tales of the missing and disappeared, haunted by having survived a blizzard in which his brother was lost without a trace.

When a homeless man he's befriended turns up drowned, Erlendur investigates on his own time, stumbling onto other missing persons cases along the way. For a place with only half of Winnipeg's population, Reyjkavik has a lot of villains.

***

Night Rounds, (Soho Crime, 330 pages, $16), the second Irene Huss Goteborg police adventure, was written in 1999, but only recently translated and released.

A nurse is murdered and an elderly patient dies when someone cuts the power in a private hospital. The prime suspect is the ghost of a nurse who committed suicide in the hospital attic.

Huss is a fascinating detective, a martial-arts expert and brainy sleuth who juggles raising teenagers with her chef husband and clashing with misogynists with badges. You have to get your head around Huss not being able to text or look stuff up on Google.

A nifty read -- let's hope translator Laura A. Wideburg is working on more of Helene Tursten's Huss adventures.

***

S.J. Gazan's Dinosaur Feather (Quercus, 448 pages, $16), the self-declared bestselling Danish murder mystery ever, has made it into paperback here, and it's a good one.

It's yet more professors behaving very badly -- who would guess the academic debate over whether dinosaurs were birds would lead to murder? Then again, these are academics who've devoted a lifetime to a single idea that, it turns out, may be completely wrong.

Gazan's protagonist is an often-unpleasant young woman set to defend her PhD dissertation, whose thesis advisor is, alas, the first victim.

There's a Canadian connection; one of the scurrilous suspects and designated evil foreigners is a UBC prof.

 

Education reporter Nick Martin would love to sip a pint of bitter in an Eastvale pub with Alan Banks and Annie Cabot.

Read more by Nick Martin.

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History

Updated on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 8:17 AM CST: Formatting.

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