If Marx, Freud, and Jim Thompson collaborated on a noir, this might be the result.

NO ROOM AT THE MORGUE

An ex-cop–turned–private eye gets involved in a murder and finds the woman who brought him into the case may be the killer.

Eugène Tarpon, the hero—if such a thing is possible in the nihilist atmosphere of this book—quit the police force after accidentally killing a protester. His attempt to make a go of it as a private eye has brought him to the brink of ruin, and he's about to retreat from Paris to his rural hometown when a mysterious woman (in noir, is there any other kind?) asks him to investigate the murder of her roommate. When he turns up at the scene, the cops are already there, the woman has disappeared, and the detective finds himself the object of police interest. Manchette, who wrote this book in the 1970s, is widely credited with revitalizing French noir. The novel is driven more by plot than attitude, and its nihilism doesn't preclude the possibility that people will act decently. At times, as when one person after another—potential clients and would-be tormentors—keeps showing up on the hero's doormat when all he wants is to nap and enjoy a tin of cassoulet, the book takes on the escalating complications of a screwball farce. An extended kidnap sequence, in which the hero finds himself stuck between thugs and the bumblings of a group of radical leftists, is brutal and funny at the same time. The plot sags a bit and the windup depends too much on pat psychologizing, but neither does too much damage to the fun.

If Marx, Freud, and Jim Thompson collaborated on a noir, this might be the result.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68137-418-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

Four residents of Coopers Chase, a British retirement village, compete with the police to solve a murder in this debut novel.

The Thursday Murder Club started out with a group of septuagenarians working on old murder cases culled from the files of club founder Elizabeth’s friend Penny Gray, a former police officer who's now comatose in the village's nursing home. Elizabeth used to have an unspecified job, possibly as a spy, that has left her with a large network of helpful sources. Joyce is a former nurse who chronicles their deeds. Psychiatrist Ibrahim Arif and well-known political firebrand Ron Ritchie complete the group. They charm Police Constable Donna De Freitas, who, visiting to give a talk on safety at Coopers Chase, finds the residents sharp as tacks. Built with drug money on the grounds of a convent, Coopers Chase is a high-end development conceived by loathsome Ian Ventham and maintained by dangerous crook Tony Curran, who’s about to be fired and replaced with wary but willing Bogdan Jankowski. Ventham has big plans for the future—as soon as he’s removed the nuns' bodies from the cemetery. When Curran is murdered, DCI Chris Hudson gets the case, but Elizabeth uses her influence to get the ambitious De Freitas included, giving the Thursday Club a police source. What follows is a fascinating primer in detection as British TV personality Osman allows the members to use their diverse skills to solve a series of interconnected crimes.

A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-98-488096-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Slow moving and richly layered.

THE SEARCHER

A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. “A small place. A small town in a small country”: That’s what he’s searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own—until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey’s brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there’s more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what’s really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here—in fact, she’s deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he’s about to discover that he didn’t leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he’s trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal’s inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French’s fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.

Slow moving and richly layered.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-73-522465-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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