Rankin, Ian. Rather Be the Devil.

NY: Little, Brown, 2016.

John Rebus, master homicide investigator of the Lothian and Borders police, has been semi-retired for awhile now, but he just can’t let go. Being a detective is not only what he does, it’s what he is. But now all his options have expired and he spends his time walking his dog, having dinner with his sort-of girlfriend (the medical examiner), and wondering what the villains are up to. And worrying about coughing up blood and the shadow the doctor found on his lung, the result of a lifetime of smoking and drinking.

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Hammett, Dashiell. The Thin Man.

NY: Knopf, 1934.

Hammett, one of the fathers of the modern detective story, only wrote five novels, of which this was his last, about the wealthy and sophisticated Nick and Nora Charles. It’s difficult to read about Hammett’s other famous detective, Sam Spade, without imagining Bogie, who made the character his own but who also played the hardboiled Spade pretty much the way the author wrote him. When Nick and Nora came to the silver screen, though, William Powell and Myrna Loy mostly just played themselves, and they mostly played the Charleses for laughs. And that’s not at all fair to the book, which certainly wasn’t written as light comedy.

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Connelly, Michael. The Wrong Side of Goodbye.

NY: Little, Brown, 2016.

Even though he must be pushing seventy now, ex-homicide cop Harry Bosch has spent the last half-dozen episodes in this long-running series fighting hard against retirement. Solving murders and getting justice for the dead is what he does. More, it’s what he is. He spent several years doing cold cases with a gang of other no-longer-active cops, and that taught him a lot — it’s made him “proficient in time travel” — and now he has his private investigator’s ticket, though he doesn’t work at it very hard.

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French, Tana. The Trespasser.

NY: Viking, 2016.

Almost from her first book about the exploits (if you can call them that) of the Dublin Murder Squad, I’ve become a solid fan of French’s writing style and her skill in uncovering and exploring the personalities and souls of her characters. Each outstanding volume has been better even than the previous ones, and this sixth outing is the best yet.

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Swierczynski, Duane. Revolver.

NY: Mulholland Books, 2016.

I stumbled on one of this author’s earlier crime novels a few years ago and became an almost instant fan of his rather noir style. He’s a Philadelphian through and through and the seamy side of the city he knows so well becomes a character in his books, too. And this time, he indulges in an unusual sort of narrative strategy.

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Hill, Reginald. Midnight Fugue.

NY: HarperCollins, 2009.

Sadly, this is the last novel about Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe of Mid-Yorkshire CID before the author’s death, but it’s not a bad one to be going out with. The story revolves around the very wealthy “Goldie” Gidman, who made his money as a loan shark and financier of organized crime before he eased his way into the straight world of business and Tory politics.

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Pelecanos, George P. The Night Gardener.

NY: Little, Brown, 2006.

I’ve read a number of the entries in this author’s several highly regarded series of crime novels, all set in Washington, D.C., but this one is a standalone, and it may be his best book yet. Gus Ramone, who is (I think) part-Hispanic and part-Italian, is a sergeant in homicide who loves his job, even while he hates the necessity for it. His wife is a black ex-cop, and that and their two mixed-race kids provide much of the background for Pelecanos’s ongoing commentary about the reality of race relations in the District.

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Hill, Reginald. Good Morning, Midnight.

NY: HarperCollins, 2004.

I began reading my way straight through this lengthy series several years ago (this is the 21st volume) and I’ve come to greatly enjoy the gradually developing collegial relationship between Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel, the boss of Mid-Yorkshire CID, and his star subordinate, DCI Peter Pascoe, who is about as different a personality as it’s possible to be — and also the recurring supporting cast, including Sergeant Edgar Wield, the ugliest cop in Britain, who is also gay and has a memory like a computer. Other members of the team have featured in the stories over time, most recently Shirley “Ivor” Novello and “Hat” Bowler, both smart and ambitious young DCs.

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Hill, Reginald. Death’s Jest-Book.

NY: HarperCollins, 2003.

I’ve always preferred to read my way through an extended series of mystery novels in chronological order, because each new case generally builds on those that came before and the characters develop in the same way. Some readers jump around within a series and seem none the worse for it — but that’s really not an option here. This volume follows hard on the heels of its immediate predecessor, Dialogues of the Dead, and actually continues the plotline. The two books together are nearly 1,000 pages and you should think of them as a single fat novel.

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Hill, Reginald. Dialogues of the Dead.

NY: Delacorte, 2001.

This long-running mystery series (of which this is the 17th volume) started out in 1970 as nothing remarkable. Well enough written, but pretty standard stuff about the detecting adventures of the bluntly profane and bearlike Superintendent Dalziel, head of Mid-Yorkshire CID, and his sidekick, the university-educated Peter Pascoe — originally a detective sergeant, now a chief inspector. Later, we met Sergeant Wield, who is gay, the ugliest cop in the country, and has a mind like a computer.

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