Beneath the Wake by Ross Pennie. (Globe and Mail Update)
The Long Drop
By Denise Mina
Glaswegian author Denise Mina seems able to write crime in any form. She’s done three excellent series, a couple of stand-alones, won a spate of international awards and was selected by the Stieg Larsson estate to transform his Millennium series (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo etc.) into six graphic novels. The Long Drop is a foray into the world of true crime, as fictionalized by a writer of real talent. Just what transpired between William Watt and Peter Manuel in a bar in Glasgow in 1958? Mina has pulled together the true case of Watt, a businessman/entrepreneur whose family was murdered in a home invasion in Glasgow in 1958. At the time, Watt was arrested and held by the police, but there wasn’t enough evidence against him and he was released. Still, Watt’s reputation was ruined. He began a search for the real killer, a search that led him to Peter Manuel, who promised information. Manuel and Watt met for 12 hours, and what was said during that all-night talk is the premise of this short but meaty little novella that is perfect for that weekend cottage visit. If you haven’t already discovered Denise Mina, start here.
I confess: I love the Bob Skinner novels. Quintin Jardine’s slick and suspenseful Edinburgh-set series has never failed to keep me riveted. Game Over is no exception. Here, we have sports, celebrity culture and international crime as a backdrop. Add to that Skinner’s own daughter Alex as lawyer for the defence and you have a story that starts with a bang and doesn’t let up till the last sentence. The dead body that sets the plot in motion is that of Annette Bordeaux, an internationally famous supermodel with plenty of tabloid tales to prove it. She has been savagely beaten and strangled. This is obviously a murder of passion and hatred, and the obvious suspect is her husband, an up-and-coming soccer star just signed to a lucrative contract with Merrytown FC. But the police quickly discover he’s out of the picture. Who else had access to the victim and why was she killed? As the secrets start to surface, it’s possible Annette won’t be the final victim. This is one of Jardine’s best.
Beneath The Wake
If you’re planning a cruise on the high seas any time soon, don’t read this book. Ross Pennie, specialist in infectious diseases, has used his Dr. Zol Szabo series to illuminate the dangers in tainted tobacco and the germs hiding in plain sight. This time out, Zol is having a holiday cruise with his son and his girlfriend in the Indian Ocean when something nasty their way comes. While Zol lolls on the promenade deck, ship physician Dr. Noah Ferguson is slapping bandages on crewmembers and wrapping sprains. It’s boring but useful and Ferguson has a secret that keeps him happy at work. That all collapses when a microbe runs riot in the crew’s quarters. Ferguson summons Zol to help identify and halt the disease before it takes over the ship. But in the middle of the ocean – with people literally dropping – the kind of help Zol is used to is a long, long way off. Then there’s the fact that cruises are very big business and no one, from the captain on down, wants anything to interfere with profit, including a dead body and a deadly epidemic.