Fiction from Connelly, Harrison, Montreal Noir, and Pruitt, plus Two Debuts | Xpress Reviews

Week ending October 20, 2017

Connelly, Michael. Two Kinds of Truth. Little, Brown. Oct. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9780316225908. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316225915. F
Forced into retirement and exiled from the LAPD, Harry Bosch (The Wrong Side of Goodbye) is doing battle in court against an overeager district attorney and a wrongful conviction claim—and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Accused of planting the evidence that led to a death row conviction, Harry finds his professional reputation on the line. At the same time, he’s working his first homicide in years—a professional hit of a father and son at their family pharmacy. The investigation reunites Bosch with former partner Jerry Edgar, now an investigator for the Medical Board of California. With Jerry’s help, Harry goes undercover as a pill shill, and he learns just how ruthless prescription drug fraud can be.
Verdict Connelly again delivers a solid crime mystery that will delight fans with his perpetually knocked down–detective managing to fight back with his integrity intact. Harry’s half-brother Mickey Haller has a prominent role as his attorney, which should please fans of the Mickey Haller series. [See Prepub Alert, 4/24/17.]—Vicki Briner, Broomfield, CO

Harrison, Lisi. The Dirty Book Club. Gallery. Oct. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781451695977. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451696424. F
In the early 1960s, a group of young women form a clandestine book club as a way of supporting one another and to provide an escape from the men in their lives. When the time comes to pass on their secrets to a new generation of women, they pick an unlikely group, who are virtual strangers, including M.J., recently relocated from New York City to the small California town where the book club meets; Britt, a local real estate agent with a slacker husband; Jules, a party planner who is estranged from her high school sweetheart husband; and Addie, a free spirit with no intention of settling down. Against all odds, the group meets according to the terms set up by the original members, but as the new gals struggle to form a similar bond, the future of the club is put in jeopardy.
Verdict This first adult novel by popular YA writer Harrison (License To Spill; Pretenders) draws the reader in with an intimately believable portrayal of women’s friendship. For fans of women’s fiction and chick lit such as the works of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella.—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.

Hoffman, Amy. The Off Season. Univ. of Wisconsin. Oct. 2017. 176p. ISBN 9780299314606. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780299314682. F
[DEBUT] When artist Nora and her girlfriend Janelle move from Brooklyn to Provincetown, MA, it seems like a good idea. Janelle is recovering from treatment for breast cancer, and both are eager to make a major change to a slower lifestyle. But their lives are quickly complicated by the attractions of a feisty and seductive new acquaintance, and, almost inevitably, the couple break up. Nora now has to figure out her life without Janelle and without her urban shell. Along the way she makes new friends, including her aging landlady Miss Ruby, Unitarian pastor Patsy, and flamboyant street performer and town fixture Margot. With new jobs, new creative ideas, and a new commitment to social issues, Nora has a lot on her plate, but the overall tone here is positive. Rather than a typical romance, Hoffman, author of several memoirs, including Lies About My Family, has cleverly written about the journey it takes for ex-lovers to move on and, perhaps, even become friends.
Verdict An enjoyable, breezy read that celebrates the uniqueness of Provincetown and its close-knit community.—Devon Thomas, Chelsea, MI

Montreal Noir. Akashic. Nov. 2017. 320p. ed. by John McFetridge & Jacques Filippi. ISBN 9781617753459. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617756061. F
The latest in Akashic’s “Noir” series once again takes readers north of the border (after Toronto Noir) and continues its tradition of acting as a reliably seedy tour guide for the armchair traveler. Montreal’s reputation as separate and distinct from the rest of Canada is reflected in this collection of diverse and often disorienting stories—from the tale of the shoe salesman in Arjun Basu’s “Wild Horses” who may or may not have witnessed a fleet of horses galloping down a city street to the grim revenge killings in Geneviève Lefebvre’s “Such a Pretty Little Girl” to the narrative of a writer’s violent jealousy in Johanne Seymour’s “Journal of an Obsession.” This anthology works best within its darkest moments and would be improved if it were a little shorter, as a couple of entries stray from the noir genre and distract from the mood as a whole.
Verdict For fans of the series, the work provides an enjoyable introduction to many Montreal-based mystery authors.—Julie Elliott, Indiana Univ. Lib., South Bend

starred review starPruitt, Eryk. What We Reckon. Polis. Oct. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781943818648. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781943818822. F
Con artists, drug addicts, and partners-in-crime Grant and Jasmine create new aliases (Jack Jordan and Summer Ashton) before they flee from South Carolina to Lufkin, TX, carrying with them a hollowed-out King James Bible full of cocaine and plenty of emotional baggage. Unfortunately, a local drug dealer has already claimed the territory where the couple plan to sell their coke. But with Summer’s help, Jack emerges a victor in the drug war. Unintentionally, Summer loses her mind, overdoses, and is sent to a rehab center, Miracle Ranch, considered by many to be a cult organization. Later, Jack joins Summer at the ranch and usurps power from the group’s founder, while Summer sticks by Jack through thick and thin.
Verdict A finalist for the Derringer Award, Pruitt (Dirtbags; Hashtag) delivers an excellent addition to the gritty Southern noir genre. Readers of Hunter S. Thompson and David Joy will enjoy the psychedelic twists and turns as well as the rapid-fire dialog.—Russell Michalak, Goldey-Beacom Coll. Lib., Wilmington, DE

Stearns, R.E. Barbary Station. Saga: S. & S. Oct. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9781481476867. $27.99; pap. ISBN 9781481476874. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781481476881. SF
[DEBUT] Captain Sloane and his crew of pirates have taken over Barbary Station as their base, protected from capture by turrets and a lead cloud that limits communication. Adda believes that the only way she and her girlfriend Iridian can live happily and comfortably is to join her brother on Sloane’s crew. To impress the crew with their brains, daring, and technical expertise, the two women hijack a spaceship and deliver it as a gift to the pirates. Stealing the ship turns out to be the easy part. Adda and Iridian soon discover that far from being a lavish pirate base, Barbary Station is a crumbling wreck controlled by a rogue artificial intelligence, AegiSKADA, that wants to kill them all. Sloane has an ultimatum for his would-be crewmates: defeat AegiSKADA and earn their place or die trying.
Verdict Strong characters and fast-paced action define this debut sf thriller, which presents a future full of interspace travel, vast AIs, and fierce, abiding love. Hard sf fans will appreciate the technical explorations of life in the cold and black, and readers of all stripes will find themselves rooting for Adda, Iridian, and the rest of the crew. [Previewed in Marlene Harris’s “Galaxy Quest” sf/fantasy preview, LJ 8/17.]—Jennifer Beach, Longwood Univ. Lib., Farmville, VA

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