“A Dangerous Man,” the New Thriller by Robert Crais, is One of His Best Yet

Joe Pike is about to climb into his Jeep on Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile when he sees a man force a young woman into the back seat of a waiting car. When the car pulls away from the curb, Pike follows, catches the car at a stoplight, smashes the driver’s side window, drags the driver and his accomplice out, and roughs them up enough to give one of them a concussion.

But when the young woman is promptly kidnapped a second time, it’s apparent something more than a simple abduction is at work.

This is the 17th Cole and Pike novel by Robert Crais, putting it well past the point that many crime fiction series become repetitive or otherwise lose their steam. But A Dangerous Man — suspenseful, fast-paced, tightly written and peopled with compelling characters — is one of Crais’ best.

To read the full text of my review for The Associated Press, please click here.

 

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My Review of “Lost You” by Haylen Beck, AKA Stuart Neville

Surrogacy — in which a woman agrees to carry a baby for another person or couple — is a legal swamp in America, and in this, veteran crime novelist Stuart Neville, writing under the pen name Haylen Beck, has found the makings of an emotionally wrenching psychological thriller.

Lost You toys with readers’ emotions, leaving them uncertain until the very end about who — if anyone — is in the right. The story unravels at an anxiety-inducing pace, and shocking twists appear around every corner.

For the full text of my review for The Associated Press, please click here.

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Ben Coes, Thriller Writer, Has a Temper Tantrum

I didn’t find anything to like about The Russians, the new thriller by Ben Coes, but I WAS amused by his petulant temper tantrum over my review for the Associated Press.

I rarely write negative book reviews. I think life is too short to waste hours reading a bad book, so if I’m not enjoying one, I usually toss it away after a few chapters. But The Russians is such a train wreck that couldn’t tear my eyes away. You can read the text of my review by clicking on this link 

Meanwhile, here, for your enjoyment, is the email he sent me about it last night:

“Bruce,

“I just read your review. Thanks for spelling my name right.

“You should have passed on the review. What if someone were to critique your silly little books as if they were fact as you seemed to have done? They’re fiction you silly looking poseur. Fortunately not a lot of people read your books and hopefully that carries over to your reviews!

“You come from a mill town ‘where analogies were as rare as truffles’ or whatever your asinine bio says and have the gall to opine on my writing? I have more talent in my left testicle than you will ever have.

“Ben”

Perhaps next time he should let his left testicle do the writing.

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My Review of “Deep Dive” by Chris Knopf

Deep Dive, the new crime novel by Chris Knopf, is suspenseful, fast paced, and peopled with well-drawn characters.  Knopf’s prose goes down so easily that the novel isn’t so much read as inhaled.

In the end, the protagonist, Sam Acquillo, exposes an unspeakable conspiracy involving some very wealthy people. As Sam puts it in a moment of reflection, “the rich can achieve a level of depravity and hate both invisible and incomprehensible to the rest of us.”

To read the full text of my book review for the Associated Press, please click here.

 

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My Review of J. Todd Scott’s Fine New Crime Novel

America’s war on drugs is well-trod territory in crime fiction, and T. Jefferson Parker’s Ronald Ford series and Don Winslow’s border trilogy have set a high bar for those who dare to follow.

But J. Todd Scott’s 20-year career as a DEA agent infuses his work with realism, and his writing chops will make readers wonder why he waited so long to launch his literary career.

This Side of Midnight is suspenseful, action-packed, literary, and thought-provoking.

To read the full text of my Associated Press review, please click here.

 

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My Review of “Evergreen,” Howard Owen’s Emotionally Charged Mystery

When Willie Black was 15 months old, his father Artie Lee was killed in an apparent automobile accident. That’s all Willie — police reporter for a Richmond, Virgina, newspaper — knows about his dad. But in “Evergreen,” he decides to find out, and of course, it leads to trouble.

Readers seeking the thrills of most popular crime fiction won’t find it here. Instead, they will find a textured, emotionally charged tale about coming to terms with growing up biracial in America.

To read the full text of my Associated Press review, please click here.

To learn more about the author and his work, please click here.

 

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My Review of Paul Doiron’s New Crime Novel, “Almost Midnight”

In nine previous crime novels, Paul Doiron’s protagonist, Maine game warden Mike Bowditch, has made more than his share of friends and enemies. Now, in Almost Midnight, two friends featured in earlier books return, and both are in desperate need of help.

As usual in a Doiron crime novel, the characters are well drawn, the Maine landscape is vividly portrayed, and Bowditch pursues his passion to protect the innocent and bring evil doers to justice regardless personal cost.

You can read the full text of my Associated Press review by clicking here.

You can learn more about Doiron and his work here.

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My Review of Kate Atkinson’s “Big Sky”

Former soldier and policeman Jackson Brodie, who last appeared nine years ago in “Started Early, Took My Dog,” makes his long-anticipated return in Kat Atkinson’s new novel, “Big Sky.”

As always in an Atkinson novel, the pleasures derive from her mastery as a storyteller, her skillful character development, and the beauty of her quirky and poetic prose.

To read the full text of my review for The Associated Press, please click here.

 

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Launch Party for “Down To the River,” New Crime Fiction Anthology

That’s crime novelist Tim O’Mara with my amazing wife Patricia Smith at New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop last night. We were there to help launch the publication of Down to the River, a great short story anthology of crime fiction in which every yarn involves a river.

A story Patricia and I collaborated on is included along with new work by Reed Farrel Coleman, Chris Knopf, Charles Salzburg, and many others.

All of the proceeds go to American Rivers, an environmental group.

You can order the book here.

 

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My Review of “Black Mountain,” New Crime Novel by Laird Barron

“You don’t teach a child to become a killer by rote lectures,” Laird Barron writes in his new crime novel, Black Mountain. “To create a predatory machine, you foster an appreciation of the natural world and our minuteness upon its canvass. . . . We are as nothing and that permits us to do anything.”

Like a lyricist, Barron excels at manipulating the tones and cadence of language. Like a Gothic novelist, the mood he creates is often bleak. It should come as no surprise, then, that he wrote both poetry and horror before turning to crime fiction.

To read the full text of my Associated Press review of this fine novel, please click here.

 
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