Welcome back to another short review roundup! Today I feature a couple of novels. One I will give short shrift because it is a sequel, and the first book in the series does all the heavy lifting of convincing a reader to pick up the next one. The other is a fine book but a bit too far afield to write extensively about on this blog. Both are worth picking up, notwithstanding the truncated reviews.
And Your Enemies Closer by Rob Parker (narrated by Warren Brown)
Rob Parker’s first book in the series, Far From the Tree, is excellent. And Your Enemies Closer might be even better. Mainly I think I liked it more because the big bad is no longer quite so invincible. Which is realistic—organized crime is a tough way to turn a buck. I very much appreciated my return to northern English crime fiction. Brenden Foley is no longer a cop but will not give up his investigation of the crime boss from the first book. Losing his official position, though, gives room for Iona Madison to play a larger role. The setting between Liverpool and Manchester plays as big a role as ever, and Warren Brown remains the perfect narrator (these are Audible originals). The book ends in a satisfying manner, and the duopoly of And Your Enemies Closer and Far From the Tree probably work better than Far From the Tree alone, but Parker leaves himself a door open for another book.
4 of 5 Stars.
The Darkest Game by Joseph Schneider
Catalina (better known for its wine mixers than its murders) and The Huntington (a museum and botanical gardens) are hardly the sort of settings you expect to pop up much at Hillbilly Highways, but The Darkest Game is in conversation with a long tradition of L.A. noir. Chinatown gets name-dropped more than once. Manning the case—first one murder, then more—are an odd-couple pair of Hollywood homicide detectives. Jarsdell is a history PHD-dropout and the son of two professors. Morales is much more the stereotypical cop. Both are sufferable pricks and play well off each other. The central mystery is a tad obvious, but the “why?” question is more interesting and harder for both the characters and reader to unravel, and the mystery around one element of one murder is carefully crafted. If you’re the sort of reader who revels in solving things before the characters, it will give you something to chew on. I snagged an advance copy of The Darkest Game—the release date is April 5.
3.5 of 5 Stars.