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George Ernsberger
Posted 8/5/22

Self-Portrait with Ghost: Short Stories by Meng Jin (Mariner/Morrow). Faithful readers with good memories (all of us here, surely) will remember a lead review in January, ’20, of Meng …

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Self-Portrait with Ghost: Short Stories by Meng Jin (Mariner/Morrow). Faithful readers with good memories (all of us here, surely) will remember a lead review in January, ’20, of Meng Jin’s first book, the novel Little Gods, that opened with a scene in a maternity ward near Tienanmen Square, in Peking. You’ll certainly have enjoyed that reading experience, so, well, here’s another. The considerable, and nervy but nicely controlled variations in storytelling styles, forms—language, in a certain sense, though English is the only literal language to be found here (the author is very American)—the range of styles is hard to describe in this sort of brief coverage without making it sound show-offy, even a succession of stunts. But the voice remains hers, and we soon relax, as we learn to trust her and and welcome her every new inspiration. 

Chrysalis by Lincoln Child (Doubleday). The prolific maker of thrillers with Douglas Preston (currently, the series set in the Southwest featuring detection and archeology) is on his own in this series, and has been for a while—this is #6 in  his Jeremy Logan series of “enigmalogist” mysteries: Logan solves crimes “nobody has encountered before.” This first of this series that I’ve seen is a not-so-quite novel, fast-moving, fiercely engaging, set largely within an extremely intriguing super-high-tech company located in our part of the country (well, the Berkshires); Chrysalis is the name of that company. 

The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths (Morrow). The latest by the Edgar winner Griffith (just the second the column has covered) is, as that one was, as much an ironic social comedy as a mystery (some early reviews have grumbled about that a bit, but these novels satisfy on a couple of levels, and I’m beginning to like them a lot). 

Rizzoli & Isles: Listen to Me by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine). The thirteenth in this terrific series is focused a bit more on Jane Rizzoli than Maura Isles—as is common in series of this sort, that balance tends to shift back and forth—and Jane’s interesting mother and their relationship are an especially enjoyable thread. But these are crime novels, murder mysteries, and Gerritsen never forgets that. Rizzoli, the police officer, and her partner Barry Frost, investigate a questionable death and also an abduction, which seem unrelated, at least at first.

Cold, Cold Bones: A Temperance Brennan Novel by Kathy Reichs (Scribner). The third of what seems a new sub-series, after a three- or four-year break for Reichs. Here again, as in her most recent two, Tempe is reminded in gruesome ways of an earlier case (or several). They’re very ingenious, of course, and very gory (though it’s upfront in these latest books more than I seem to recall being typical). Well, no matter, Reichs is still having a good time, here, and so will you. Tempe’s daughter, Katy, home from the Army, features in this one, too, and is welcome. And disappears.


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