Book Reviews: Crime Thrillers In Two Cities
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Memorial detectives need to live in memorable locations. Sherlock Holmes inhabits London. Philip Marlowe prowls Los Angeles. Our book reviewer Alan Cheuse has discovered two new mysteries where detectives hunt down villains against the dramatic backdrops of Tokyo and San Francisco.
ALAN CHEUSE: The first comes from the popular Japanese novelist Keigo Higashino. It's called "The Devotion of Suspect X." A former Tokyo nightclub hostess now working in a food shop gets a visit from her down-and-out ex-husband. He tries to shake her down, and she and their teenage daughter, both of them in a rage, kill him on the spot.
Her adoring neighbor, a math genius who teaches intro math to dummies, shows his unrequited love for her by devising an elaborate and almost foolproof cover-up.
As the novel unfolds, a couple of Tokyo homicide detectives try to pick apart their alibis, aided by a university scientist who happens to be an old friend of the math genius. Intense reading, as the cops relentlessly pursue the perpetrators, and a really surprising psychological twist at the end.
The next book takes us to San Francisco. In "Damage" by John Lescroart, we plunge into the murderous mess created by Ro Curtlee, a handsome young sociopath, a convicted rapist and murderer out on bail on a technicality and awaiting a retrial.
As Curtlee roams the city, his wealthy parents, who publish a local newspaper, try to bully and bribe his way to complete freedom. A new city DA and the battle-scarred chief of the homicide division stand, among others, against the newspaper publishers and their lackeys, even as their son murders one major witness from his first trial and goes in search of another.
It's the killer and his family who appear to be relentless here, but it's really the novelist. Phew, hold on to the book.
BLOCK: The two mysteries we heard about are "The Devotion of Suspect X" by Keigo Higashino and "Damage" by John Lescroart. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
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