Monday, February 7, 2011


Strong-willed heroines abound in three recent crime novels, featuring a young lawyer in love, an anthropologist with marriage plans and a private investigator expecting her first child.

“Law of Attraction” by MSU grad Allison Leotta (Touchstone, $25) is a nifty page-turner that introduces Anna Curtis, a new Assistant District Attorney in Washington D.C.

Curtis is dealing with many domestic violence issues; a case involving Laprea, a young woman beaten by her boyfriend, brings back dark memories. Curtis falls in love with Nick Wagner, the defense attorney in the case, who she knew in law school.

When Laprea turns up dead, Curtis faces a variety of ethical issues, especially when she is assigned to assist the chief homicide prosecutor in the murder case. Although part of the novel is predictable, Leotta’s debut offers excellent, intriguing, suspenseful escapism.

“One Grave Less” by Beverly Connor (Obsidian, $7.99) is the ninth in her popular series starring forensic anthropologist Dianne Fallon.

This paperback also showcases Lindsay Chamberlain, a quick-thinking archaeologist who’s appeared in her own series. Much of the fast-paced action takes place in the Amazon jungles of Brazil and a museum in Georgia. It’s slowed a bit as viewpoints alternate between the main characters.

Fallon is dithering about her upcoming marriage; she’s quite annoyed when numerous e-mails appear offering untrue allegations. The plot is exceptionally complicated and not always quite believable; violence abounds, with many close escapes.

Connor’s crime novel has other flaws: one nasty villain appears under six different names and the back cover gets the gender of a victim wrong. There’s relatively little actual forensic investigation involved; serious readers may enjoy earlier efforts.

“The Girl in the Green Raincoat” by Laura Lippman (William Morrow, $11.99) is a slim novella that focuses on
expectant Baltimore private eye Tess Monaghan, who’s under doctor’s orders to remain immobile.

Monaghan is stuck looking out the window most of the time; she notices a woman in a green raincoat walking a dog every day. When the dog appears running loose with its owner nowhere around, Monaghan investigates.

Getting help from her boyfriend and an associate,
she works diligently in the best “Rear Window”/”The Daughter of Time” tradition.
This entertaining novella was first serialized in the New York Times; it’s a real treat for Lippman fans who don’t want to wait for another Monaghan novel.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, February, 6 2011

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

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