Three recent books delve into the past, but have strong ties to the present. Each is an entertaining novel filled with strong, memorable characters.
"Moriarty Returns a Letter" by Michael Robertson (St. Martin's/Minotaur) is the fourth in his popular series showcasing Reggie Heath, an attorney who has opened his law offices at 221B Baker Street in London.
Reggie and his brother Nigel have been involved in some pretty unusual adventures; this novel continues in fine form. Letters addressed to Arthur Conan Doyle have been accumulating for over 100 years; some are now to be put on display for the first time.
The novel opens in 1893, with an American agent infiltrating a counterfeit ring. It continues in 1944 in London, during wartime, with deadly results.
Shifting to 1998, Reggie and his actress lady friend face serious challenges as they go on a country holiday. It helps if you've read earlier volumes in the series and can appreciate the characters, but dedicated Doyle fans will enjoy many of the related references.
"The Spirit of Steamboat" by Craig Johnson (Viking, $20) is the latest in his popular series featuring Walt Longmire, Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, but it's not really a crime novel.
Longmire is the hero of a hit A&E television drama; this story has a contemporary opening but goes back quickly to 1988, during his first year as sheriff.
A young girl was terribly injured in a car accident that killed three people. Longmire has to convince his predecessor, Lucian Connally, to fly her to safety during a major blizzard.
Only a decommissioned WWII B-25 is available; most of the book is devoted to the harrowing, white-knuckled journey. While this is a short 160-page novella, it's definitely well worth reading.
"Buried" by Kate Watterson (Tor, $7.99) is the third in her suspense series starring strong-willed Wisconsin detective Ellie McIntosh.
In this paperback, she's trying to discover the identity of the long-buried skeleton found on her grandfather's rural property. Another case involves apparently unrelated cop killings in Milwaukee.
McIntosh has to deal with different partners and frustrations as she tries to figure out what's really going on and who's responsible.
Watterson deftly interweaves both subplots in an eminently satisfying, captivating crime novel.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, February 2, 2014.