I've got a really good lineup in front of me. Just finished No Weather for a Burial by David Owen (great to have Pufferfish back), so I'm about to start The Diggers Rest Hotel by Geoffrey McGeachin. Then Gunshot Road by Adrian Hyland, as well as Blood Men by Paul Cleave.
Ruth Rendell's THE MONSTER IN THE BOX. This is a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery. I like Rendell, though I prefer the Wexford novels to her psychological crime novels. One thing about Rendell, she writes well, in the sense of using the English language so effectively that you're not likely to put her books down. This book is typical Rendell: a mystery with a social agenda. The social agenda concerns the subtle racism exhibited by the most PC people. I get her point but doubt it was necessary to make it at length (my only quibble withRendell's books).
I like Rendell when she's not preaching. She can really write well even with her proliferacy. One I didnt like and it has made me hesitant to read her had probably this same inspector, I dont know, but the policeman was a milksop. I think his daughter was a tree huger and there were all these people living in trees. I think that some of these writers underrate the intelligence of their readers. Just tell the story and let the reader experience whatever social point the writer wants to make without spoon feeding it. Sometimes if the character needs a political point of view to motivate him/her that's understandable. VI Warshawski come to mind.
I've just started BLACK WATER RISING by Attica Locke. So far, I'm impressed with ( I think) Locke's first novel. Great main character, full of angst and paranoia and all sorts of unknowable secrets. Tense and suspenseful.
Jo Nesbo, THE DEVIL'S STAR. This is a very bad thriller, proof that not all Scandinavians turn out great books. In this case, a serial killer plot turns into at least three other plots, all of them lacking in the most basic logic. The protagonist is an alcoholic police inspector, a tried and true formula. But wait: not like Morse or Rebus, ho manage to control the liquor while on the job. No this one is a falling down drunk, with the DTs, with weeklong binges when he doesn't show up for work, and with one arrest for public drunkenness and vandalism. In spite of this, his boss begs him to stay on and work the case, the rationale being that it's summer and a lot of detectives are on vacation. As it is, the serial murders of three or four (it gets confusing) women who are found with a red diamond cut into a five-pointed star (!) and one of 5 fingers cut off one hand (numerology here: the pentagram!) could have been stopped quickly if any one of the police officers had thought to trace the rather odd red diamond jewelry the killer left with each body. There are lots of other crazy improbabilities until it's obvious that the author either didn't care what he wrote or just doesn't know any better.