The litigators, by John Grisham. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2011.
David Zinc goes to work at his soul-crushing corporate law job one morning, has a panic attack in the lift and spends the day in a bar. When he gets out of there, the only address he has on him is that of a two-person ambulance-chaser practice at the wrong end of Chicago, so he goes there. Zinc decides he's going to practice law with Wally, an unscrupulous chancer, and Oscar, a slightly less unscrupulous but still broke partner with a wife everyone hates. For a while life is good for David, but then comes a cholesterol-lowering drug called Krayoxx, a class action which spins out of control, and a Big Pharma company which is desperate for a quick legal win against a small law firm with no trial experience. This is a wonderfully engaging and occasionally laugh-out-loud book - Grisham brings all the whimsy and charm he usually reserves for his non-legal books, and the tone has something of the Carl Hiaasens about it.
Pray for silence, by Linda Castillo. London: Macmillan, 2010.
The second of the Kate Burkholder books, again set in Painters Mill Ohio. A whole Amish family has been killed in their farmhouse and barns, the girls horribly tortured. There are hints that one of the girls may have had a secret, but otherwise nobody has any idea why the Plank family would have suffered this fate. Burkholder's slightly odd position in the community, as someone brought up Amish but who had decided not to join the church due to an incident in the past, is to her advantage here, and the presence of John Tomasetti, disgraced federal agent, as an assistant, adds an extra touch. Another excellent book by Castillo.
The enemy, by Lee Child. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2004.
A Jack Reacher - but this time set in 1990, when Reacher is still a major in the military police. Child says these books can be read in any order, and it seems that he also writes them in any order! The Berlin Wall is coming down, the Cold War is ending, and Reacher has been dragged back from the search for Noriega in Panama to a temporary command. The first call he gets is to the dead body of a two-star general, supposedly of a heart attack, in a local motel. When Reacher goes to notify the next of kin, he finds that the general's wife has been murdered in their home. Reacher's own family ties are also involved in this novel, and provide some of the more fascinating moments. This is an extremely intriguing novel, showing new aspects to a character who risks becoming stereotypical in some of Child's other books.
Blood trail, by C J Box. New York: Berkley, 2009.
A Joe Pickett novel; and one I nearly gave up on due to the US mass-market paperback size and type-style; but these are books which need to be read in order. Pickett's own life, and the lives of his family and friends, are as important as the plots of the individual books. Once I'd read the first couple of chapters, I was, as ever, hooked. (According to the blurb on the back, so were Lee Child and Michael Connolly, which I can understand.) Someone is slaughtering hunters in the same way as hunters slaughter elk, and Joe's ultimate boss and hated adversary Randy Pope is inexplicably asking for Joe's help, as is Governor Rulon. I came to two completely wrong conclusions as to the identity of the murderer before Box revealed it; which is always fun.
False picture, by Veronica Heley [audiobook]. Read by Patience Tomlinson. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2008.
Bea Abbott's old friend Velma asks her to investigate the disappearance of her stepson Philip, who seems to have absconded with a Millais from the flat of his godmother, who has been murdered. Bea's assistant Maggie moves into Philip's flat to investigate. However, an art thief is also on the trail of Philip and the painting, and not above using the housemates to do some smuggling for him on the side. Set between London and Bruges this is fairly flimsy on plot, but the characterisation is nice and it's an excellent audiobook to listen to while pottering about.