Black, Benjamin. Christine Falls.

NY: Henry Holt, 2006.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, “Benjamin Black” is the nom de crime of Irish novelist John Banville, and this was his first mystery novel featuring Quirke, a decidedly quirky forensic pathologist in Dublin in the 1950s, when the Church ran absolutely everything. But even though this is a “detective story,” it’s nothing at all like what Michael Connelly or Lawrence Block might write.



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.


French, Tana. The Secret Place.

NY: Viking, 2014.

French began her police procedural mystery series about the Dublin Murder Squad (which doesn’t actually exist, by the way) in 2007 with In the Woods — an amazingly adept piece of work for a first novel. This one is her fifth book and each has been better than the one that came before. Everything she previously did well, she’s doing even better now.


French, Tana. Broken Harbor.

NY: Viking, 2012.

This is the fourth volume in French’s “Dublin Murder Squad” series and I’ve been hooked since the first one. She has an interesting method, too: As you start each book, you discover that the protagonist in the new one was a minor or supporting character in the previous one. The person you thought was just a spear-carrier for the narrator to interact with turns out to be far more complex and very interesting in his (or her) own right.


French, Tana. Faithful Place.

NY: Viking, 2010.

French has established herself as a first-rate author of mystery novels, all set in and around Dublin and reeking of Irishness, both past and present. But she has an odd way of picking her focus characters. The protagonist of her second novel was the second lead in her first book, and Frank Mackey, the POV character of this third novel was only a supporting character in her second. Perhaps it’s because each of these people has sort of used themselves up in the course of the story.


French, Tana. The Likeness.

NY: Viking, 2008.

I really liked the author’s first novel, In the Woods, but this second one about the Dublin Murder Squad is even better. Detective Cassie Maddox, who was the main supporting player the first time around, is the principal character here, and a much more sympathetic one than her ex-partner. She’s floating along in Domestic Violence — the previous homicide case pretty much made her head explode and DV is more manageable for now — when her boyfriend, Sam O’Neill, still in Murder, calls in a panic to make sure she’s still alive.


French, Tana. In the Woods.

NY: Viking, 2007.

I enjoy reading mysteries — especially police procedurals — set in places outside the U.S. I’ve read books in which the action takes place in Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Thailand, Italy, and Australia, but this is my first experience with Ireland.


Rankin, Ian. Mortal Causes.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Edinburgh’s International Festival of Drama and Music brings in several hundred thousand visitors every summer, making it an important contribution to the local economy, but to DI John Rebus, the Festival is a guaranteed P.I.T.A.


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Benn, James R. Evil for Evil.

NY: Soho Press, 2010.

This is the fourth outing for Lieut. Billy Boyle, special wartime criminal investigator for his distant cousin, Dwight Eisenhower, and this time — unlike his first three adventures — he ends up far from the front as well as far from home. But he’s still very close to the battle lines.