Please Join Us
By Catherine McKenzie
Simon & Schuster Canada, 320 pages, $24.99
Sooner or later, a talented writer was bound to conceive a superior crime novel that depended on #MeToo as one of the plot drivers. In the exceptionally crisp and clever “Please Join Us,” Montreal novelist Catherine McKenzie has done just that. Her central character Nicole Mueller is a whip smart civil litigator in a high-powered Manhattan law firm. A clandestine woman’s empowerment group recruits her to join with other equally resourceful women in jobs of some authority in scoring for themselves advantages that men at the same level accept as their natural due. When Nicole begins to play the game, she sniffs something fishy. Is the odour coming off a guy in her own law firm, a sexual predator involved in one of her cases, or the very women’s group she hooked up with? Nobody and nothing — not even murder, apparently — can be ruled out in this juicy story of endless possibilities.
The Last To Vanish
By Megan Miranda
Scribner, 336 pages, $24.99
The scene is an idyllic North Carolina town, a centre for wilderness hiking, complete with a cosy inn. Just one problem: people disappear from the town. Four vanished as a group a quarter century ago, and another handful seem to have slipped away at intervals up to the present day. That, at least, is the way the book’s narrator tells the story. She’s Abigail, a young woman who has worked at the inn for the last decade. Abigail makes a sympathetic storyteller, but the deeper she gets into the narrative, the more it seems Abby might be messing with us readers. Is she? What in the world can be the real explanation for these disappearances? The book is creepily masterful at withholding the answers.
The Family Remains
By Lisa Jewell
Atria, 384 pages, $24.99
This dense but agile, character-laden, intricate, confounding and entertaining novel picks up where “The Family Upstairs,” Lisa Jewell’s previous dense but agile novel, left off.
The large family involved in the murders consists of characters with a tendency to secretiveness and, perhaps in some cases, a compulsion to homicide. They’re based in London but turn up in points west (Chicago) and south (Antibes). Though characters overlap from book number one to number two, a crucial character introduced only in the second novel is the wise and diligent Samuel Owusu who is, of all unexpected but refreshing figures, a London copper. He’s a genuine Detective Inspector, an absolute whiz at interrogation, just the guy who’s both welcome and necessary in this most trickily plotted book.
Do No Harm
By Robert Pobi
Minotaur Books, 432 pages, $36.99
In Toronto author Robert Pobi’s new novel, somebody is killing off the great physicians of New York City. Also the great pathologists, neurologists, anesthesiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, even the great psychiatrists. At first nobody takes note of the connection by medical profession because the deaths are disguised among the Big Apple’s suicides and accident victims. The ace investigator who spots the trend — not really a major feat since there are a remarkable thirty of them in a short period — is Lucas Page, a comically tough nut of a character who has lost one arm, one leg and one eye in past law-enforcing skirmishes. Page, a former FBI agent and present astrophysicist, is motivated to get sleuthing when his wife, an ER surgeon, shapes up as a potential target of the killer. While much of the book stretches credulity, Pobi is resourceful at cooking up acceptable explanations for weird events.
This article has been updated from a previous version to clarify price and imprint
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