Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Trio of Thrills

The Skeleton Road – Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Ever the masterful plotter, international, bestselling crime writer Val McDermid breaks from her regular series for a stand alone; or what shows signs of being a new series, The Skeleton Road to stitch together a cold case that shows signs of ties to Balkan war crimes.

In the heart of historic Edinburgh builders are preparing to demo a disintegrating gothic building when skeletal remains are discovered on the site. McDermid conjures up the perfect skitter-ish tone of the height fearing demolition man out on the roof tiles when he makes the grisly find.

Cold case detective Karen Pirie must pull a wide range of seemingly disparate threads; mixing politics, psychological and criminal pieces of the overall puzzle as she becomes embroiled in an international vendetta.

McDermid fans may bear some disappointment at the departure from her regular characters/series, but she manages to deliver a perfectly balanced story line that mixes some pretty heavy subject matter.

Done In One – Grant Jerkins and Jan Thomas (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)

In the classic soul song, the Persuaders croon about the “thin line between love and hate” and in the new novel Done In One, authors Grant Jerkins and Jan Thomas posit a question about the potential for a similar thin line between good and evil.

Could the psychological impact of the high pressure operations as a SWAT sniper, where one bullet equals one kill; could a police sniper slip over to the dark side and become a killer? A series of shootings that have left northern California firmly in the grip of fear and the main suspect is SWAT sniper on permanent psych leave, Lee Staley’s only firm grip is on a bottle.

Not sure how this writing duo came together, but clearly Thomas has honed some insights into the of police snipers from her husband a retired police sniper. The book offers a compelling, well crafted story, that offers a peek under the tent and into the world of the law enforcement sniper.  

Retribution – A Kirk McGarvey Novel – David Hagberg (Forge Books)

Abbottabod, Pakistan, a private, walled compound sits a short distance from the headquarters of the Inter-Services Agency (ISI) the nation’s intelligence agency. Behind the walls of that compound sits a three level main house, a guest house and a covered garden area; the home’s resident is the most hunted, and arguably hated, man in the world Osama bin Laden. May 1, 2011; 24 members of the elite U.S. Navy Seals launch a mission dubbed Neptune’s Spear to deliver final justice to bin Laden.

When the smoke clears, the ISI is left with at best egg on its collective face for allowing the most wanted man to live right under its nose and at worst is guilty of conspiring to protect bin Laden from discovery. Whatever the case may be; it is enough to drive some within the security service to seek revenge for the unannounced incursion into their sovereign nation.

It is that revenge that is the basis for the latest Kirk McGarvey novel, Retribution by prolific thriller writer David Hagberg. A team of former German special forces soldiers have been embarked on a new career as assassins for hire and their newest target are the Seal Team Six members who took out bin Laden.

Former CIA chief Kirk McGarvey and his team get wind of the plot and race is on; who can get the job done first the killers or the hunters. Hagberg does his usual masterful job of keeping the action on pace and on target. The former Air Force cryptographer brings an insider knowledge and eye to the page and delivers an authentic feel to the story.  

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