WEATHER ALERT

Foul play fantastic in Fields’ fiction

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Banff private eye Sadie Levesque gets hired by a mysteriously reclusive American family living on the Scottish island of Mull to find their missing daughter — surely no spoiler alert is necessary before saying many bad things ensue.

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Banff private eye Sadie Levesque gets hired by a mysteriously reclusive American family living on the Scottish island of Mull to find their missing daughter — surely no spoiler alert is necessary before saying many bad things ensue.

Helen Fields’ The Last Girl to Die (HarperCollins, 384 pages, $25) piles tragedy upon suspect upon clue upon enigma, set against a background of misogyny and centuries of empowered women scorned as witches, as more murders ensue.

For once, the shocking ending is indeed a shocker. Brace yourself.

Buy on mcnallyrobinson.com

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Investigating why so many AIDS patients in Edinburgh are going to Manchester to die, intrepid newspaper reporter Allie Burns stumbles across deadly clinical trials of iffy meds moved to East Germany, where human guinea pigs do what they’re told and ask no questions.

Along the way, she covers the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the Hillsborough stadium disaster, while contending with — as newspaper reporters typically do — the Stasi secret police, eco-terrorists, evil media oligarchs, covered-up Nazi atrocities, questionable fashion choices and murder.

Val McDermid’s 1989 (Atlantic Monthly Press, 416 pages, $40), the second in a series by this Scottish gem, is entertaining to be sure, though quite episodic.

Buy on mcnallyrobinson.com

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An unjustly disgraced former British copper investigates for years galore a murderous scientist/former lover who scorned her, and who’s the spitting image of the boy whose dead parents asked him to act as guardian — did he kill the mom with radioactive material, and somehow incite dad to go off a cliff?

Beyond that, er, simple and straightforward start, Adam Hamdy’s The Other Side of Night (Atria Books, 304 pages, $36) is complex, convoluted and confusing. Such as, who’s the occasional first-person narrator, who may be a dead scientist or a world-famous author?

Difficult as it may be to sort the plot, stick with it — eventually it all makes sense and it’s worth it, though serious weirdness abounds.

Buy on mcnallyrobinson.com

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Generally not-such-a-bad-guy small-town loser JP Hancock suddenly finds the Mounties on his tail when he’s accused of masterminding cybercrimes in which he sells seven-figure Toronto houses that aren’t for sale — pocketing the down payments and disappearing.

H&A Christensen’s Stealing John Hancock (Ravenstone, 430 pages, $23) is a pretty spooky online tale about how allegedly easy it is to have your identity stolen and everything you own gone, including your good name.

A stalwart Mountie determinedly chases Hancock, all the while battling misogyny within her cop shop, as JP flees with an enigmatic hacker, though his every move is manipulated online to make him look ever more guilty. Pretty decent.

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Seriously messed-up detective sergeant/sarcasm machine Lucy McVeigh is on the exceedingly cold trail of serial killer the Bloodsmith in Oldcastle, Scotland’s most dreary and depressing city, when a killer who murdered at 11 gets out of prison and — enough said, guess all you like about what follows.

Author Stuart McBride always sets a very high bar for bizarre, but McVeigh soars far higher — this is truly a warped murder mystery with twists you won’t see coming.

Published in September, No Less the Devil (Bantam Press, 480 pages, $25) is immensely entertaining and often darkly, very darkly, humourous — though if you’re a huge fan of elite private schools and are easily offended, keep your “harrumphs” and “oh my words” primed.

Buy on mcnallyrobinson.com

Retired Free Press reporter Nick Martin wildly speculates that Mull’s tourism office won’t put Helen Fields on its suggested reading list.

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