Little Black Lies, by Sharon Bolton. Minotaur, 368 pages.
Our narrator opens the story by telling us that she is planning a murder. We slowly get the details about a tragedy two years earlier that hardened her heart against her lifelong best friend. Her erratic behavior as she counts down to her zero hour is masked by a community uproar; a small boy has gone missing – not the first one in recent years – and the locals as well as tourists on the island are out searching in frantic numbers.
The island in question is one of the Falklands, and Sharon Bolton showcases her remote setting with lavish detail about the terrain, the island culture and most of all, the strange turf war fought there in 1982 by Argentina and England, a quirky historic footnote except to those caught up in it.
A Good Killing, by Allison Leotta. Touchstone, 320 pages.
This is the first I’ve read in a series about D.C. prosecutor Anna Curtis. Anna gets an urgent call that sends her home to Holly Grove, a small town outside Detroit. In a depressed community where high school football is one of the few bright spots, Anna’s younger sister, Jody, is accused of murdering the team’s beloved coach.
Anna decides to represent her sister, and they face a firestorm of hostility with the help of a hunky high school classmate who has turned part of deserted inner city Detroit into an organic garden in spite of his PTSD and prosthetic leg from Afghanistan. (Is Allison Leotta on the payroll of Detroit’s tourism bureau or what?)
Leotta ratchets up the tension with chapters of legal maneuvering alternating with Jody’s narrative of what happened after Anna left for college 10 years earlier – a narrative that very early on starts sounding dangerously like a confession.
The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley, by Jeremy Massey. Penguin, 304 pages.
Paddy Buckley is having the worst imaginable run of luck. Even for a funeral director, he suddenly seems surrounded by an unusual number of deaths by misadventure. “By some crazy cosmic decree, this happened to be a week full of lightning strikes in the same place, and I, for some unfathomable reason, was attracting them.”
The story begins with Paddy grimly determined to work himself into an early grave, grieving his young wife’s death. But the aura of grimy Dublin brick is lightened by Paddy’s fond memories of his dad (What? A father who isn’t an abusive alcoholic? Is that even legal in an Irish novel?) and a comic sensibility to his increasingly outrageous predicaments. Jeremy Massey does for Ireland what Carl Hiaasen does for Florida.
After he accidentally runs over one of Ireland’s most notorious mobsters – and then is called out to handle the funeral – his own imminent death starts to seem unavoidable, even as he is finding love again with a young woman who is burying both her parents at once (also Paddy’s fault).