By Janet Evanovich
Atria Books, 304 pages, $38.99
Since this is the 28th book in the comic adventure series featuring Stephanie Plum, bail bonds enforcement agent in Trenton, New Jersey, you might think the stories would be growing stale and unfunny by now. But, no, the new book serves up a handful of out-loud laughs, a bunch of chuckles and a constant hum of pleasantness. The felon who Stephanie is tracking this time out happens to be an ace hacker, who uses his immense tech skills to hold other computer networks to ransom. This guy, in the words of another character, progresses from “genius hacker and closet psychopath to complete nut job.” All of which means that the book, as well as offering Stephanie potential romance from three hunky protectors, puts her in occasional situations of convincing noncomic peril.
All Her Little Secrets
By Wanda M. Morris
William Morrow, 384 pages, $21
In a nutshell, the plot goes like this: a woman asks another woman who’s been having an affair with the first woman’s husband to find out who shot the husband dead. Simple but tantalizing? For sure and, to make the whole deal more delicious, Wanda Morris wraps everything in engrossing detail. The woman who serves as both the book’s sleuth and narrator is a lawyer, the junior to the dead man, the guy she’d been romancing, who headed the legal department of a prosperous Atlanta corporation. It’s not all that tricky to figure out who the villains are in this panorama of corporate manipulation and how they work their villainy, but Morris presents the nastiness in a fashion that manages to be both logical and dramatic, not to mention highly readable and entirely enlightening on the subject of racism in Atlanta legal circles.
The Deathwatch Beetle
By Kjell Eriksson
Minotaur Books, 276 pages, $27.99
Ann Lindell, the very sharp police investigator in Kjell Eriksson’s absorbing Swedish series, resigned from the cops in the last book and has now taken a holiday on the island of Graso. So why, retired and on vacation, does she involve herself in a couple of mysterious disappearances among island residents? “I don’t like mysteries,” is her answer. The two missing people are a bewitching islander named Cecilia, and Casper, her boss, who preceded her in disappearing. Not far into the story, Cecilia resurfaces, though she continues to lie low, especially avoiding her parents, a shifty couple. Nobody on the island — Ann Lindell excepted — emerges as entirely straightforward and, in a most complex plot entirely characteristic of Eriksson’s narratives, only an unexpected spurt of violence ultimately points toward a resolution.
When You Are Mine
By Michael Robotham
Sphere, 405 pages, $24.99
Take one young woman London copper who happens to be the daughter of a major crime boss, add one local hero of a cop who is a not-so-secret wife abuser, toss in a beautiful woman who is capable of creepy feats in stalking other women, mix all parties, including the crime boss, in a bundle of confrontations, not to mention a murder, and what you get is a typical Michael Robotham exercise in suspense. It’s part crime novel and part soap opera, and all thrills and chills. What aids the narrative is that readers have someone to root for in the junior London copper who also serves as the story’s narrator. She’s smart and nervy and just headstrong enough to get herself in splendidly dicey situations. If there’s a super surprise in the plot, it’s not who commits the murder among this group of enticing characters. It’s who gets murdered.
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