Sunday, December 19, 2010


If you’re trying to escape from the holiday celebrations, here’s a quick look at a pair of fast-paced crime novels with memorable characters and many surprising plot twists.

“Cross Fire” by James Patterson (Little, Brown, $25.95) is the 17th in his exceptionally popular series starring Washington D.C. police detective Alex Cross.

It marks the return of Cross’s deadly foe, Kyle Craig, a clever killer and former FBI agent who’s escaped jail. Craig has struck again, this time murdering undercover FBI agent Max Siegel and stealing his identity.
Cross is investigating a series of murders in the nation’s capitol; a corrupt congressman and a shady lobbyist are assassinated by sniper shots.

Craig assists on the case, meticulously planning his violent revenge. Cross is unaware of the villain’s goals; another odd series of murders occurs and he must investigate. Meanwhile, Cross is planning on getting married to Bree Stone and faces a variety of other challenges.

Patterson frequently and smoothly shifts viewpoints in this highly entertaining tale, raising the tension level while offering insights into an assortment of devious minds.

The award-winning author, who’s sold over 200 million books, has created another compelling page-turner that can easily be made into an exciting movie.

“Kind of Blue” by Miles Corwin (Oceanview, $25.95) is an excellent debut crime novel by a former LA journalist who’s written three non-fiction books.

It introduces Ash Levine, who was one of the LA police department’s best detectives until he resigned a year earlier. Latisha Patton, his murder witness in a homicide investigation, was killed; Levine feels her death was his fault.

Lieutenant Frank Duffy is getting pressure to solve the murder of Pete Relovich, a legendary ex-cop; he convinces Levine to return to the force.

With his badge back, Levine digs deep into the case,
uncovering hidden clues that other cops have missed. Soon the investigation expands in unexpected directions; he wants to solve it so he can work on the Patton case again.

This book is filled with flawed, quirky characters, especially its hero, an obsessive, surfboarding, Jewish
detective who has flashbacks about his time served with the Israeli Defense Forces.

Corwin, a remarkable new talent, goes deep into Michael Connelly territory; he’s created an exceptional, atmospheric police procedural that’s easily one of the year’s best crime novels.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books regularly since 1987.This review was originally published in the Lansing State Journal on December 19, 2010.

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