Lately I’ve been getting up a little earlier than usual so I that I can read a few pages of a good book as I drink my morning coffee. It’s a lovely way to start a morning, assuming you’re into murder and the dark mysteries of the human heart. In the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky – there’s a feast of new books to choose from. I’m making progress on many of these titles and plan to run full reviews in upcoming posts.
“People Who Eat Darkness” by Richard Lloyd Parry (FSG, $16) A British journalist’s unforgettable account of a true crime that took place in Tokyo in 2000: the disappearance and murder of bar hostess Lucie Blackman, just 21 when she died.
“A Killing in the Hills” by Julia Keller (Minotaur, $24.99) Keller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (Chicago Tribune), crafts a spellbinding murder mystery set in her home state of West Virginia.
“Misfit” by Adam Braver (Tin House Books, $15.95) Braver gives a literary, imaginative rendering of the final days of Marilyn Monroe, who died Aug. 5, 1962 in her Brentwood home.
“The Empty Glass” by J.I. Baker (Blue Rider Press, $25.95) The LA County deputy coroner discovers Marilyn Monroe’s secret diary and starts to probe the sad and sinister details of the star’s death in this first-time novel by a veteran magazine journalist.
“The Twenty-Year Death” by Ariel S. Winter (Hard Case Crime, $25.99) A mystery divided into three sections. Part one, set in 1931, is an homage to the marvelously prolific French author Georges Simenon. Part two takes place in 1941 and honors noir great Raymond Chandler. And last the darkly compelling Jim Thompson gets his due in a 1951 setting.
“Vengeance” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, $26) A Dublin-based pathologist finds himself in the middle of a battle between two families. Noir with a 1950s Irish twist by this Booker prize-winning author (aka John Banville).
“The Thief” by Fuminori Nakamura (Soho Press, $23) The first novel by the celebrated Japanese author to be translated into English, “The Thief” is a minimalist sliver of Tokyo noir told in the first person by an anonymous pickpocket, says Laura Wilson of the Guardian newspaper. As she puts it: “This isn’t for those who prefer the conventional crime novel. It is, however, an intelligent, compelling and surprisingly moving tale, and highly recommended.”
“Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane (Morrow, $27.99) According to Publishers Weekly, Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio have optioned the film rights to this police saga set in Prohibition-era Boston. (Releases Oct. 2)
“Polynie” by Melanie Vincelette (McArthur & Co., $18.95) This novel about a lawyer whose body is discovered in the hotel room of a stripper was shortlisted for a Governor General’s literary award when it appeared in French, according to Quill & Quire. An English-language version will appear in November.