On the radar — Welcome to our second weekly look at a handful of new crime releases. Once again you could say that our selection is weather-affected – it’s been a cold and frosty day. So we’re going to start off with a book set in Southeast Texas and Louisiana, just to warm things up. Let’s get started with this week’s ‘On the radar’ selection.
River Bottom Blues
If you love blues as much as you love your crime fiction, this debut novel by Ricky Bush is one to look out for. When musician Bobby Tarlton dies of a heroin overdose, his buddy Mitty Anderson doesn’t believe it. He decides to look into what happened. He’s a former investigative reporter and pulls together a band and, touring the Southern blues circuit, starts gathering information that could relate to Tarlton’s death. What he discovers is that it could have been just one in a string of serial murders – someone’s taking down those who play the devil’s music.
Also set in the South, Beatitudes takes place in New Orleans. However instead of blues musicians, the protagonists in Lyn Lejeune’s book are social workers Hannah Dubois and Earlene Washington. They set out to investigate the murders of ten foster children – the cases appear to have been bungled or overlooked by the police, church and politicians in the city. Trouble is, Earlene too is murdered. She comes back as the ghost Pinch. Meanwhile Hannah discovers that she’s a voodoo princess. They continue working as a team, trying to solve the case from the spirit world. We’ve taken a peak and the writing’s done in a fascinating stream of consciousness style. Watch for a review here soon.
Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat
Keeping with warmer climes, and remaining in an esoteric milieu, we head to Melbourne, Australia. In the world Andrez Bergen has created, Melbourne is the only city left and after the apocalypse it’s protected by a giant dome. Yes, this is noir meets science fiction as our main character Floyd Maquina presents the story in Chandleresque fashion – he’s in the middle of the madness as the city’s authorities try to stamp out the ‘Deviant menace’. Guns, kidnapping, a conspiracy and plenty of cultural references are all promised in this strange-sounding book. Again, we are lining up a review.
Even darker and continuing in that noir vein is Stagger Bay, a novel recently released by Pearce Hansen. Its main character is Marcus, a man who’s led a rough life. He had a hard childhood, grew up a criminal, was framed for a mass murder and then jailed for life. When DNA evidence exonerates him, he’s released and not long after that becomes a hero in an elementary school hostage situation. Following his time in prison all he wants to do is connect with his young son, however there are killers and corrupt cops out to get him. It’s fast-paced, ultra-violent and has been endorsed by Anthony Neil Smith and Ken Bruen. We’ve heard good things about this book and hope to review it soon.