Kerr’s Tenth Bernie Gunther, Lansdale’s Latest Western, with a Stand-Alone from Scottoline | Fiction Reviews, March 1, 2015

redstarKerr, Philip. The Lady from Zagreb: A Bernie Gunther Novel. Putnam. Apr. 2015. 448p. ISBN 9780399167645. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698142893. F

ladyfromzagreb3915Kerr sets his tenth Bernie Gunther novel (after A Man Without Breath) in 1942 Zagreb, Croatia, and Zurich, Switzerland. Joseph Goebells, the ambitious and manipulative Nazi propaganda minister, forces Bernie to track down the estranged father of a glamorous German actress, Dalia Dresner (fans of old movies might recall Hedy Lamarr). ­Bernie finally locates Antun Dragun Djurkovic, who has become a fanatical Croatian fascist and the sadistic commandant of a notorious concentration camp, killing countless Serbs and Jews. While returning to Berlin, our hero is ensnared by American, Swiss, and German intelligence operatives owing to his connections with powerful people in the Reich. VERDICT Although he holds his own among other noted noir authors, such as Jonathan Rabb, David Downing, Alan Furst, and Joseph Kanon, Kerr’s magic lies in how he addresses core ethical questions. What is the right conduct while operating within the filthy underbelly of Nazi Germany? How could Kerr’s sardonic, tough-talking, anti-Nazi PI survive in a criminal state with his moral integrity and honor intact? Noir devotees, immerse yourselves in the cynical, amoral angst Kerr skillfully portrays. [See Prepub Alert, 11/24/14.]—Jerry P. Miller. Cambridge, MA

redstarLansdale, Joe R. Paradise Sky. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Jun. 2015. 416p. ISBN 9780316329378. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316329354. F

paradisesky3915The latest novel from Lansdale (The Thicket) revolves around an unfortunate misunderstanding that leads ­Ruggert, a local landowner, to seek vengeance against a young African American man, Willie. Ruggert and his men kill Willie’s father, and Willie flees his Texas home. Loving, a Civil War veteran, takes Willie under his wing and teaches him how to shoot and ride a horse. When Loving dies, Willie renames himself Nat Love in honor of his mentor and heads to the town of Deadwood in South Dakota Territory, where he befriends Wild Bill Hickock, among other colorful characters. When Ruggert hears that Nat is living in Deadwood, he sets out after the young man again. VERDICT Loosely based on the true story of African American cowboy Nat Love (1854–1921), this fast-paced Western with its multicultural cast of characters is a winner. Readers of Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers will welcome Love’s sense of humor and resilience in the midst of the rough-and-tumble American West. [See Prepub Alert, 12/15/14.]—Emily Hamstra, Univ. of Michigan Libs., Ann Arbor

redstarScottoline, Lisa. Every Fifteen Minutes. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9781250010117. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466874619. F

everyfifteenminutes3915When Dr. Eric Parrish, longstanding chief of a successful psychiatric unit at a hospital outside of Philadelphia, responds to a routine emergency room consult and agrees to add a troubled teen to his private practice, he unwittingly makes a life-altering decision that could unravel everything that he values. As Eric struggles to balance his workload with his recent separation and custody issues regarding his small daughter, he becomes the target of a ruthless sociopath hell-bent on destroying his reputation and his life. When a murder is committed and Eric’s troubled patient disappears, Eric takes matters into his own hands to protect a vulnerable client and himself. Soon he is hopelessly ensnared in a sociopath’s ­cat-and-mouse game and may not escape unscathed. ­VERDICT In a nail-biting stand-alone with two heart-pounding climaxes and several pulse-racing twists, Scottoline (Keep Quiet; Betrayed) grabs her readers by the jugular and won’t let go. Readers who crave an action-packed psychological thriller should add it to their wish lists. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/14.]—Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

Small-Town Secrets

redstarLeotta, Allison. A Good Killing. Touchstone. May 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781476760995. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476761039. F

agoodkilling3915“Nothing fuels hate like love gone wrong,” and people naturally suspect Jody Curtis when the local high school coach is found dead in a suspicious car crash. After all, everyone had seen her trying to get Fowler’s attention at the bar every night. It was no secret that she adored him a decade ago when she was in high school and he was her coach. So, Jody’s big sister, prosecutor Anna Curtis, comes back to town to support Jody and defend her from wrongful prosecution. But as the evidence begins to mount against her sister, who will only say, “I didn’t do it,” Anna begins to question everything about the situation and the idyllic town she once knew so well. ­VERDICT Leotta (Speak of the Devil) spins a delicious tale of suspense that will have readers hurrying to find out what happens but at the same time wanting to savor each page. This highly entertaining thriller shouldn’t be missed.—­Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., ­Florence, SC

McCreight, Kimberly. Where They Found Her. Harper. Apr. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780062225467. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062225481. F

When a body is found in Ridgedale—an otherwise quiet suburban New Jersey college town—cub reporter Molly Anderson is unexpectedly given the assignment for the Ridgedale Reader. Molly, who recently suffered a traumatic late-term miscarriage, has finally lifted herself out of a debilitating depression and sees her new job as a way to rebuild her life. But when she discovers that the victim in the river is a newborn girl, Molly is forced to confront the haunting pain of her own baby’s death; in the process, she uncovers dirty secrets about a town that strives to maintain its idealized image. The story is told from the point of view of three Ridgedale women (high school dropout Sandy, PTA president Barbara, and Molly) and is supplemented with transcripts, journal entries, and newspaper clippings in a manner reminiscent of McCreight’s successful debut novel, Reconstructing Amelia. ­VERDICT Some elements of this plot and narrative feel contrived and too coincidental, but overall this tightly spun sophomore effort will please fans of Amelia. McCreight has a keen grasp of the epistolary technique and is adept at providing readers the puzzle pieces they need to build a broader picture. A solid follow-up. [See Prepub Alert, 10/5/14.]—Erin Entrada Kelly, Philadelphia

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Colgan, Jenny. Little Beach Street Bakery. Morrow. Mar. 2015. 464p. ISBN 9780062371225. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062371232. F

Castellanos Moya, Horacio. The Dream of My Return. New Directions. May 2015.

160p. tr. from Spanish by Katherine Silver. ISBN 9780811223430. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780811223447. F

redstarCrompton, Richard. Hell’s Gate. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jun. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780374280581. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374709266. F

Filipacchi, Amanda. The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty. Norton. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780393243871. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393243888. F

redstarHarvey, Michael. The Governor’s Wife. Knopf. Jun. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780307958648.

$24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307958655. F

Harwood, Michael. The Manservant. Kensington. Mar. 2015. 252p. ISBN 9781617733116. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781617733123. DEBUT F

redstarHolsinger, Bruce. The Invention of Fire. Morrow. Apr. 2015. 432p.ISBN 9780062356451. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062356475. F

Kornegay, Jamie. Soil. S. & S. Mar. 2015. 368p. ISBN 9781476750811. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476750903. DEBUT F

McKenzie, Sophie. You Can Trust Me. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2015. 304p.ISBN 9781250033994. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250033987. F

Mallery, Susan. The Girls of Mischief Bay. Mira: Harlequin. Mar. 2015. 416p. ISBN 9780778316022. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9780778317746. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460380413. F

Miller, Jax. Freedom’s Child. Crown. Jun. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780804186803. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780804186810. DEBUT F

Montefiore, Santa. The Beekeeper’s Daughter. S. & S. Apr. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9781476735412. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476735467. F

Mordecai, Pamela. Red Jacket. Dundurn. Apr. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9781459729407. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459729421. DEBUT F

Taylor, David C. Night Life. Forge. Mar. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780765374837. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466843431. DEBUT F

True, Sylvia. The Wednesday Group. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9781250051882. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466850040. DEBUT F

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