Friday, November 27, 2015

Ten of the most arresting crime novels of 2015

J. Kingston Pierce is both the editor of The Rap Sheet and the senior editor of January Magazine. At Kirkus, he tagged ten of the more memorable crime novels he read this year, including:
The Mulberry Bush, by Charles McCarry

Former journalist and CIA “deep cover” operative Charles McCarry brings us an unnamed young American narrator who, following the downfall of his estranged father—a brilliant but prankish intelligence agent whose persistent unwillingness to play by conventional rules doomed him at “Headquarters” (McCarry’s stand-in for the CIA)—sets out to revenge his parent by taking on a mission that appears to benefit Headquarters, but should ultimately leave it damaged. After contriving his recruitment into the agency, the narrator is first sent to prove himself in the Middle East (where he arranges assassinations), but then infiltrates what remains of a leftist revolutionary group in Argentina with ties to Russia. That circle was once led by a charismatic but complicated idealist named Alejandro Aguilar, and it’s his 29-year-old daughter, the captivating Luz, who McCarry’s protagonist falls in love with and endeavors to employ—along with her influential but enigmatic foster father, and a crafty Russian embassy official—in carrying out his retribution plot. This is a slow-burning yarn, and some of its players (notably Luz) are given billboard billing without having much to do. However, McCarry redeems himself through his dexterous juxtaposition of the high-minded ideals and oft-ridiculous reality of modern spycraft.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue