Sunday, April 25, 2010

2 in the Hat and Never Look Away

4/18/10 Best-made plans don't quite work out for devious schemers in a pair of recent crime novels that showcase taut page-turning suspense.

2 In the Hat by Raffi Yessayan (Ballantine, $25) is the riveting sequel to his highly acclaimed debut novel 8 in the Box.

Yessayan brings back many characters that appeared in his first book, but it's three years later - and they're searching for a different serial killer. The victims are students, posed in formal attire, as Boston's latest murderer is known as the Prom Night Killer.

Homicide Detective Angel Alves is handing the case. His ex-partner Wayne Mooney recognizes similarities to unsolved crimes from a decade earlier. Assistant DA Conrad Darget's along for the ride, offering assistance, but there are other problems as gang killings intensify.

The gritty tale moves along in a frantic pace, with Yessayan utilizing the successful James Patterson technique of making his chapters two or three pages long.

The talented author again uses his experience as an assistant defense attorney and prosecutor, adroitly mixing legal insights with solid police procedures.

It's best to read Yessayan's books in chronological in order to appreciate his intriguing story-telling abilities - be prepared for numerous unexpected plot twists.
Never Look Away by best-selling author Linwood Barclay (Delacorte, $25) has similar surprises in store.

Barclay, a former journalist, has an exceptional talent for using everyday characters and putting them in tight situations with no easy solutions in sight.

He introduces David Harwood, a stressed-out reporter working for a floundering small town newspaper in upstate New York. After covering an unusual story, he takes his wife Jan and their 4-year-old son Ethan on a planned trip to a nearby amusement park.

When his son disappears, Harwood panics. Although Ethan is soon found, Jan has vanished.

The facts just don't add up - suspicious police feel Harwood has killed his wife and disposed of her body.

Barclay increases the tension level to a fever pitch as Harwood investigates. The reporter uncovers hidden facts that only raise more questions, and he must deal with media frenzy and other family matters as well.

Full of well-drawn, believable characters, this exciting tale should further cement Barclay's position as one of America's best thriller writers.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on April 18, 2010

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