A Dash of Mystery and Intrigue This week’s booklist is a nice batch of books that will engage the mind now that the days are shorter and there is a chill in the air. Heat Lightning by John Sandford Fresh from his spectacular debut in Dark of the Moon, investigator Virgil Flowers takes on a puzzling and most alarming case, in the new book from the #1 bestselling author John Sandford. Laser-sharp characters and a plot that is fast and surprising, idiosyncratic, thoroughly ingratiating hero, Flowers is only in his late thirties, but he’s been around the block a few times, and he thinks not much can surprise him anymore. He’s wrong. It’s a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, and Flowers is in bed with one of his ex-wives (the second one, if you’re keeping count), when the phone rings. It’s Lucas Davenport. There’s a body in Stillwater with shots to the head, found near a veteran’s memorial. And the victim has a lemon in his mouth. Exactly like the body they found last week. The more Flowers works the murders, the more convinced he is that someone’s keeping a list, and that the list could have a lot more names on it. If he could only find out what connects them all ... and then he does, and he’s almost sorry he did. Because if it’s true, then this whole thing leads down a lot more trails than he thought and every one of them is booby-trapped. The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly When down-at-heel lawyer Mickey Haller gets the news that his old colleague Jerry Vincent has died, he also gets an unexpected windfall. Jerry had left instructions that Mickey should inherit all of his clients – putting Mickey’s stalled career back on track at a stroke. Not only that, but Vincent was about to go to bat for Walter Elliott, the Hollywood mogul accused of brutally slaying his wife and her lover, in a trial that promises big fees and an even bigger place in the media spotlight. If Mickey could find the magic bullet and win that one against the odds, he'd really be back in the big leagues. The only problem is that Vincent was murdered, shot at close range in his office garage. And the detective handling the case – a certain Harry Bosch – is convinced the killer must be one of Vincent’s clients. Suddenly Jerry Vincent’s legacy is beginning to look more like a poisoned chalice, and Mickey is faced with the biggest challenge of his career: how to successfully defend a client who might just be planning to murder him. A Spoonful of Poison: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton When elderly Mrs. Andrews blithely jumps to her death off the tower of Saint Odo the Severe during a church charity event in the Cotswolds village of Comfrey Magna, LSD-laced jam proves to be the cause in bestseller Beaton’s saucy 19th Agatha Raisin mystery. Agatha joins the local authorities in the investigation, which focuses on the six women who contributed jam to the church fete, including wealthy Sybilla Triast-Perkins. Agatha and Toni Gilmour, her young detective-intraining, soon find unmasking the lethal jam poisoner complicated by Sybilla’s sudden suicide and a murder connected to the theft of the fete’s proceeds. Beaton’s sly humour enhances the cozy-style plotting, while updates on Agatha’s and Toni’s respective romantic travails are delightful as ever. The open-ended resolution points to more madcap mayhem to come. I Am Not a Cop! by Richard Belzer & Michael Black When Richard Belzer meets Rudy Markovich, New York City medical examiner, for dinner in Brighton Beach, he has little reason to expect anything more than a friendly bull session. But in the next 24 hours Belzer finds himself in the middle of a vicious street brawl, splashed across the tabloid headlines as an out-of-control celeb, and fearing for the life of his good pal Rudy – who police assume is sleeping at the bottom of the East River. As Belzer finds himself increasingly required to call upon the resources he taps to portray Detective Munch on NBC, he maintains his sense of humour and carries us along on a rollicking ride through the underworld of New York City. With Rudy kidnapped, or worse, it falls to The Belz to track him down and solve the riddle to the vanishing act. The lives of Detective Munch and Richard Belzer collide and mesh in I Am Not a Cop! as one of America's great comics and TV cops brings all of his talents to bear in book form and provides a triumph of the mystery genre. A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre A starved Russian Muslim boy is smuggled into Hamburg by night. He says his name is Issa. He has mysterious links. Annabel, a German civil rights lawyer desperate to save Issa from deportation, appeals to Tommy Brue, owner of a failing British bank. A triangle of impossible loves is born. Scenting a kill in the War on Terror, the spies of three nations converge upon the innocents. Peopled with unforgettable characters, A Most Wanted Man prickles with humour and tension until the last heart-stopping page. It is also a work of deep humanity and irresistible relevance to our times. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks tells another deeply moving story about the nature of human relationships, and the joy and pain that brings us together. Is there really such a thing as a lucky charm? The hero of Nicholas Sparks’ new novel believes he’s found one in the form of a photograph of a smiling woman he’s never met, and who he comes to believe holds the key to his destiny. The chain of events that leads to him possessing the photograph and finding the woman pictured in it is the stuff of love stories only a master such as Sparks can write. Dark Summer: A Novel by Iris Johansen It begins with a single shot. Devon Brady is a devoted veterinarian working in a makeshift hospital on a remote search and rescue mission. When a man arrives with his wounded black Lab, Ned, she has no idea that she is about to be plunged into a whirlwind of terror and destruction. Jude Marrock is out for revenge and has no choice but to involve Devon in a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game with an escalating body count. She doesn’t trust him one bit, but when the shots start flying and friends start falling, she finds herself with nowhere else to run. And there are innocent lives, both human and animal, at stake, including Ned and his mysterious pack. Is Jude her salvation or her damnation? Are the secrets he’s protecting worth killing for … or dying for? With a lightning-fast pace, unforgettable characters, and gut-wrenching action, Dark Summer is compelling new terrain for this master storyteller.