A PRIVATE CATHEDRAL by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster). The big new Dave Robicheaux crime epic (but then, more)—as always, self-contained, can be read as a stand-alone. I've been saying he gets …
A PRIVATE CATHEDRAL by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster). The big new Dave Robicheaux crime epic (but then, more)—as always, self-contained, can be read as a stand-alone. I've been saying he gets better and better, and now I need to convince you that this is, and may even remain, his best ever. Crowded with intrigue, incident, action, rich and vividly evocative writing, deep understanding of all sorts of history. And with new elements (as a hint: in this one, it isn't just the atmosphere that's spooky). If you haven't been a reader, I suppose I can't convince you to start here; but pick this one up and read a couple of pages. Just the richness and clarity of the writing might get you that quickly.
BUNKER: BUILDING FOR THE END TIMES by Bradley Garrett (Simon & Schuster). A smart and yet respectful (the idea can strike a person as nutty, at first) study of and report on a lot of people who have found it somewhere between intriguing and commandingly urgent to have, yes, a bunker, an isolated, deeply defended place to go when the end times bear down on us (or, say, some only slightly less apocalyptic political or military or even atmospheric/ecological storms). There are common features among such folks, but they are far from all alike—their fears are different, their expectations very different, and the needs they anticipate vary. They are unsettling, but not uninteresting, company. For a little while.
DEAD WEST by Matt Goldman (Forge). The fourth of what's clearly a first-class private eye series, smart, funny when it wants to be, harsh, intricately plotted—really terrific stuff. You're probably ahead of me—if not, you'll go looking for the earlier ones as soon as you've put this one down. Goldman has been a TV writer and knows that world, and his private eye spends much of this book in L.A.; but the private eye's home ground is Minneapolis.
WHEN THESE MOUNTAINS BURN by David Joy (Putnam). Crime fiction—I guess. Certainly there's killing and dying and drugs and all sorts of bad business here in inland North Carolina, but this novel is somehow on both sides of that border between great category and fully serious fiction, with inventive writing, vivid, idiosyncratic dialogue, powerful, complex (that is, real) emotions—by no means only anger; plenty of that, but also sorrow, desperation, others; it's also a family novel. Come to think of it, a good choice to end a column that began with a James Lee Burke novel, though David Joy is maybe more sharply ironic. You'll see Burke on bestseller lists, as always; but maybe David Joy, this time, too.
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