Hittin’ the Backlist: The Year of Eating Dangerously by K. Bennett, Snow Angels by James Thompson, and The Black Box by Michael Connelly

I’ll try to do a Hittin’ the Backlist post each week (or every few weeks) that I’ve read a few books that aren’t “brandy new” per se, but that I feel are worthy of mention. It’s just a few words to give you a good impression of what they’re about and I hope you’ll give them a look!

snowangelsSnow Angels by James Thompson (Inspector Vaara series #1-Penguin)-Snow Angels was on Booklist’s Best Crime Novel Debut list, and for good reason. It takes place in Finnish Lapland during two weeks of total darkness-called kaamos-when the body of a Somali actress is found ravaged and mutilated in an icy field. Inspector Kari Vaara heads up the case, which eerily resembles the Black Dahlia murder of 1947 and carries with it all sorts of dangerous political implications. Inspector Vaara must do this in spite of other concerns such as his pregnant American wife, who is having trouble adjusting to life in the Arctic Circle, and amidst turmoil in his own department. Vaara is a superb and dogged (sometimes overly so) investigator and this novel took some very dark and surprising turns. It’s a superb crime novel debut from an American who has lived in Finland for over a decade, and also a look at a very different, and fascinating culture. Luckily, you can also get your hands on Lucifer’s Tears, Helsinki White, and Helsinki Blood, and the 4th novel in the series, Helsinki Dead, will be out in 2014.

yearofeatingdangerouslyThe Year of Eating Dangerously by K. Bennett (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law #2-Pinnacle)-The Year of Eating Dangerously is the 2nd novel in the Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law series (after Pay Me In Flesh), and a terribly fun read. This one finds Mallory using her prostitute alter ego Amanda to save a girl at the hands of a dangerous motorcycle gang and helping out a young boy who claims his mom wants to eat him. Did I mention that Mallory is not only a defense lawyer, but also a zombie? And that she uses her prostitute disguise to find snacks? All this might sound like so much urban fantasy candy, but it’s really not, because Mallory’s narration, detailing not only legal ins and outs, but also the challenges of being a zombie, rises above that (not to mention just flat out good writing.) There are moments in this book when Mallory’s loneliness is palpable, and quite sad, and as much as she may want to give into fellow lawyer (and hottie) Aaron’s advances, she knows she can never give him what he needs. The stakes become rather high in this one, because Mallory finds out there’s a war on, and she’s to play a big part. I sense major things to come in I Ate The Sheriff (come on, you’ve got to love these titles.) If you enjoy Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series, you’ll want to check this one out!

theblackboxThe Black Box by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #18-Grand Central)-Can you believe that it’s 18 books into the Harry Bosch series, and Connelly still hasn’t lost his touch?? I’ve been wild about Harry for, well, what seems like forever now, and after reading The Black Box, I still want more. Harry is still working cold cases in L.A. and the murder of photojournalist Anneke Jespersen during the 1992 L.A. riots that left a city in shambles and many people dead, ┬áhas landed on his desk. A gun has been found that was used in recent crimes, and was also the one that killed Jespersen, so Bosch must wade through the mire of political barbwire in his own department, along with a conspiracy that goes back years in order to get to the truth. This one has some genuinely scary moments and if you love procedurals, you can’t go wrong with this series, because Connelly is impeccable. Crime writing doesn’t get much better than this.

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