Monday, September 5, 2011

Book roundup: New mysteries and thrillers

Monday, September 5, 2011

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin's, 370 pp., $27.99)

What would you do if you had to choose between saving your child or the children left in your care? That's the chilling and provocative scenario that kicks off this popular author's 20th book. Rose McKenna must make a horrific choice when disaster strikes while she's working as a lunch mom at her daughter's school. But what she does and what people perceive she hasdone are very different things. Rose must protect her family and eventually her life as her determination to get to the cause of a deadly fire brings her closer to the truth. Save Me, which also deals with the hot topic of bullies, will have readers debating right and wrong choices, and their consequences.

One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur, 327 pp., $24.99)

This seventh in a series starring Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and her now-fianc, Millers Kill, N.Y., police chief Russ Van Alstyne, deftly explores challenges faced by military personnel returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clare has returned from a year flying helicopters in Iraq, and it's through her support group that we get to know other veterans and the issues they face. You'll still be wondering halfway through this book when the "mystery" is going to rear up, but when it does — a suspicious death and its ties to a missing fortune — it blends perfectly with the compelling veterans' plotline.

The Devil's Light by Richard North Patterson (Scribner, 342 pp., $26)

A nuclear weapon hijacked from Pakistan and a race to find the bomb before it's used are at the center of this harrowing novel that seamlessly blends fact and fiction. Terrorism runs rife in this story, whose premise surrounds a nuclear threat 10 years after 9/11. And talk about coincidence: Osama Bin Laden permeates the book, but his presence feels less chilling now that he's dead. He claims the bomb will be used against the U.S., but CIA agent Brooke Chandler thinks otherwise. He hunts for the bomb as al-Qaeda operative Al Zaroor draws closer to completing his mission. Patterson's understanding of the multiple crises in the Middle East enhances the credible plot.

The Fallen Angel by David Hewson (Delacorte, 352 pp., $25)

Family loyalties and betrayal ignite this ninth novel starring Detective Nic Costa of Rome's Questura. David Hewson perfectly combines Rome's 21st-century growing pains with the ancient history that permeates its people and culture. Costa stumbles upon a grizzly death scene — it looks like academic Malise Gabriel has fallen to his death — but the evidence screams murder and conspiracy. Hewson colors his crime tale with the true story of Beatrice Cenci, who in 1599 was put to death for killing her father. Her haunting story is mirrored in that of Malise's daughter Mina. This international mystery is as good as it gets.


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