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September 03, 2021

George Ernsberger
Posted 9/3/21

Bloodless: A Pendergast Novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central).

Just out, and already at the top of bestseller lists. This great series, eerie and sometimes funny, has been a …

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September 03, 2021

Posted

Bloodless: A Pendergast Novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central).

Just out, and already at the top of bestseller lists. This great series, eerie and sometimes funny, has been a column favorite for years, and this new one is as delightful as their best, in all the usual ways. It’s set in the slightly spooky but real city of Savannah, Georgia (and suddenly one wonders why it took them so long to get around to Savannah, about the most exotic of American locales). The title pretty well identifies the particular spooks here: vampires. Though, really, that’s one thing Savannah isn’t especially famous for.

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger (Atria).

This prequel to his Cork O’Connor series amounts to a historical novel. It’s 1963. Cork is a 12-year-old, the son of the sheriff of a county at the very northern edge of Minnesota, the Boundary Waters area at the western end of Lake Superior. Young Cork discovers a body hanging from a tree; it’s a man that he has idolized. A suicide, apparently; but maybe not. And with his father, Cork becomes—well, begins to become—the investigator we know. This is a fully developed suspense novel, of course, but almost equally a father-and-son novel of penetration and warmth.

The Darkness Knows by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur).

And the Icelandic suspense master gives us another in his current, long-running series. The great detective Flovent, a widower now and gloomier than ever, and as ingenious and relentless as ever, investigates the meaning of a thirty-year-old body found on a glacier. The column has noticed before that Iceland is rather denser in novelists than most islands its size; Indridason is not the only one of them to command more than plotting skills, and to make Iceland seem a great place to get to know.

The Island by Ben Coes (St. Martin’s).

Not s-f but a near-future thriller of great invention and energy. Iran, which has been working on a revenge plot for a generation, blows up all the Manhattan bridges just as the President is preparing to address the United Nations (right there on the East River, remember). People I’ve known in Manhattan might dismiss the need of outside help in handling the matter—it’s just Iran—but the great CIA operative Dewey Andreas insists on getting involved.

The Mother Code by Carol Stivers (Berkley).

Paperback reprint of last year’s excellent science fiction novel about motherhood in a near-future world where women can’t bear children. It is, then, very much about mothering, but not only that, and manages to be intelligent without being anti-emotional, which s-f doesn’t always manage. One might say it remembers that “novel” is a word for a kind of story. I don’t think we could call it sweet, but I’m serious when I tell you that it’s as loving as it is smart. Not necessarily required in science fiction, but always welcome.

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