Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

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The Fallen by T. Jefferson Parker

William Morrow, February, 2006
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN: 0060562382
Ordering information:

The Fallen
by T. Jefferson Parker At 29, Robbie Brownlaw is the youngest homicide detective in the San Diego Police Department. Three years ago he rushed into a burning hotel and saved a guest. But when he went back inside to save someone else, he got thrown out of a sixth floor window for his trouble. He managed to survive and is now fully recovered, except for one thing. Robbie has synesthesia, a neurological condition in which one's senses get mixed up: one might "see" sounds or "hear" things one sees. Robbie sees people's words as colors and shapes: and over time he realized that he can always tell when people are lying to him, which is a very useful skill for a cop. Robbie is assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of Garrett Asplundh who died while waiting to meet with his estranged wife. Asplundh was an investigator with the San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit, so his death is especially suspicious in light of his investigation into a corruption scandal involving high-ranking city officials. Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, set out to find a killer. But their investigation takes them into some strange and disturbing avenues.

The sunny city of San Diego exposes its dark underbelly in this compelling new police procedural from T. Jefferson Parker. Parker always creates interesting and unique characters, and Detective Brownlaw is no exception. The very rare and quite real phenomenon of synesthesia gives Brownlaw a strange advantage. For him, it works as a primitive lie detector -- to him, envy comes out as green trapezoids, lying comes out as red shapes, sincerity is yellow ovals etc. This is useful in his work, but somewhat depressing in his marriage because he can see the very day that his marriage started falling apart. The Fallen is a gripping crime thriller that satisfies with its emotional breadth and depth.

--Claire E. White

The Hard Way by Lee Child

Delacorte Press, May, 2006
Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN: 0385336691
Ordering information:

The Hard Way
by Lee Child Ex-army MP Jack Reacher is enjoying a close to perfect double espresso (no peel, no cube, foam cup, no spoon) when his moment of respite was shattered. He observed a ransom drop by the kidnappers who abducted wealthy Edward Lane's wife and stepdaughter. Lane is a very dangerous man: an ex-army officer who now runs a mercenary army for the Pentagon and anyone else who has the money to fund a private army. Lane's first wife was kidnapped and later killed when the cops and the FBI made errors in the case, so this time Lane is determined to handle the kidnapping on his own. Lane offers Reacher a job to find his wife, with the help of his crack team of ex-SAS and other professionals. Reacher agrees, although it appears that Lane is less interested in getting his stepdaughter back than his gorgeous wife. As the ransom demands increase and Reacher begins his investigation, it becomes clear that there is much more going on here than a simple kidnapping case.

Lee Child's taut prose reveals a Manhattan full of danger and menace in this 10th outing for unique American hero Jack Reacher. Child ups the ante on the action for this installment, seamlessly weaving together tradecraft, investigative techniques and hard-hitting actions scenes. Child's television roots reveal themselves in his pitch-perfect depiction of dialogue and pacing. Reacher, a loner who has a core sense of honor that can't be borrowed or bought, continues to fascinate and this case will only add to his growing fan base.

Claire E. White

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