Looking to take a journey through time with some compelling, out-of-the-ordinary sleuths this summer? Then look no further than these four new titles that are sure to keep you immersed in times gone by and flipping pages long into the night.
SEARCHING FOR SANCTUARY
In Defectors, Joseph Kanon’s smart new thriller, two American brothers meet for the first time in 12 years. It’s no ordinary reunion, though both have a backstory as bright young CIA operatives in the late 1940s. Frank, the elder, was exposed as a Communist spy and fled to Moscow in 1949 to avoid prosecution.
A decade later, Frank has written a memoir, and younger brother Simon, now a publisher, travels to Moscow in 1961 to read and edit the manuscript. But Frank appears to have another agenda. He signals to Simon that he wants to escape back to the states.
Defectors offers a story of divided loyalties and fast-moving Soviet action. Kanon's evocative language and masterful ability to ratchet up the suspense will immerse readers in the conflicted, claustrophobic world that awaits those whose political passions may waver or change. In Kanon’s chilling narrative, every line is a zinger. In this gray world of watchers and watched, where does ultimate loyalty lie?
A BELOVED CITY'S ANCIENT SECRETS
Outrageous face masks are the required costume during annual carnival celebrations just before Lent in 1358 Venice. The masks' grotesque features throw into stark relief the revelry, brutality and hidden secrets of this fabled city, where Brit Oswald Lacy and his mother have traveled as a stop in their pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
While billeted there with the family of John Bearpark, an English merchant, young Oswald embroils himself in gambling debts with John's Italian friends. When a secretly gay member of the Bearpark household is killed, the victim leaves a murky trail that pushes the Oswald into imminent danger. Oswald's mother volunteers him to solve the case, an arrangement he quickly accepts as a way to pay off some of his mounting debt. In an eerie twist, a fearful apparition from Oswald’s life in London follows him from the shadows, grasping at him until he is forced to look upon its face.
S.D. Sykes, author of two previous Lord Somershill mysteries, spares readers none of the 14th century’s malodorous streets and dark alleyways as Oswald tries to unmask the killer and save his own life.
The State Counsellor, by popular Russian author Boris Akunin, is the latest Erast Fandorin detective novel to be made available to his U.S. fans.
In 1891, an assassin in clever Fandorin disguise boards a train, killing a Russian official who’s being secretly transferred to Siberia. The famous detective (home at the time practicing gymnastics with his Japanese valet) quickly proves his innocence and sets off in pursuit of the revolutionary Combat Group responsible for the murderous deed.
Fandorin’s exploits involve the usual intriguing women, including a seductive, fiery-tempered revolutionary and an informer who notably receives visitors while heavily veiled, sitting in a darkened room.
The State Counseller is full of irony and subtle humor as well as glitz and excitement, from an attack in a bathhouse to a daring escape from a railway carriage to Fandorin’s impossible rooftop jump using a trick called “The Flight of the Hawk.”
SHADOWY SECRETS IN PRAGUE
Murder and betrayal are everyday functions of life at court in Wolf on a String, an amazing novel that showcases author Benjamin Black’s extraordinary ability to thrust readers into the world of late 16th-century Prague.
Bright young scholar and alchemist Christian Stern is thrust into the intrigue at court when he arrives in Prague and is immediately commissioned to find the murderer of the Emperor Rudolph’s new mistress, discovered with her throat cut. Sorting out who may be his enemies, who friends, assumes overriding importance as the young man is twisted into relationships at court with deceitful, dangerous men of high office out to gain favor and riches.
By the end of this sometimes overwrought but intensely atmospheric novel, readers may have little sympathy for young Stern, but a heightened appreciation for anyone who could survive even a day or two in the midst of the pervasive, dark circuitry of court rivalries in an era still struggling with the intricacies of civilization.
It’s Private Eye July at BookPage! All month long, we’re celebrating the sinister side of fiction with the year’s best mysteries and thrillers. Look for the Private Eye July magnifying glass for a daily dose of murder, espionage and all those creepy neighbors with even creepier secrets.