Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!
This week, we're enjoying a trip to the past thanks to Michael Cannel's new true crime thriller and William Christie's riveting historical spy novel. In the mood for something a little lighter? Check out a new book of advice from none other than Better Call Saul's Saul Goodman. See what else this week brings in the way of books:
Incendiary by Michael Cannell
Long before the specter of terrorism haunted the public imagination, a serial bomber stalked the streets of 1950s New York. The race to catch him would give birth to a new science called criminal profiling.
Grand Central, Penn Station, Radio City Music Hall―for almost two decades, no place was safe from the man who signed his anonymous letters “FP” and left his lethal devices in phone booths, storage lockers, even tucked into the plush seats of movie theaters. His victims were left cruelly maimed. Tabloids called him “the greatest individual menace New York City ever faced.”
In desperation, Police Captain Howard Finney sought the help of a little known psychiatrist, Dr. James Brussel, whose expertise was the criminal mind. Examining crime scene evidence and the strange wording in the bomber’s letters, he compiled a portrait of the suspect down to the cut of his jacket. But how to put a name to the description? Seymour Berkson―a handsome New York socialite, protégé of William Randolph Hearst, and publisher of the tabloid The Journal-American―joined in pursuit of the Mad Bomber. The three men hatched a brilliant scheme to catch him at his own game. Together, they would capture a monster and change the face of American law enforcement.
Read Ardi Alspach's review of Incendiary, then, check out an interactive map of the Mad Bomber's path through Manhattan!
No Easy Target by Iris Johansen
Margaret Douglas has worked hard to put her painful past behind her. Raised off the grid in an abusive home, her only escape was the nearby forest where she sought refuge whenever she could. There, in the peaceful woods, she discovered a strange gift: the ability to understand animals and to communicate with them. And so those creatures became her only friends, her only joy during a desolate childhood. Now Margaret wants nothing more than to live a quiet life, close to the animals and under the radar. But her abilities have not gone unnoticed and there are those who would use them for their own purposes. Determined not to be a pawn in anyone’s game, every time someone gets too close, Margaret uproots her life and outruns them.
When John Lassiter breaks into Margaret’s apartment, she vanishes again, but Lassiter has good reason to be persistent. As a CIA operative, he owes his life to his men , one of whom is being held captive by an unrelenting enemy―an enemy who has set his sights on Margaret. Which means that Lassiter must control her to use her as bait.
With danger in hot pursuit, Margaret finds herself matching wits with a man who refuses to stop or be stopped. Turning from the hunted to the hunter, Margaret must use everything she has ever learned to not only survive, but to defeat a great evil. And to prove once and for all that she’s no easy target.
Read an excerpt from No Easy Target!
Golden Prey by John Sandford
The man was smart and he didn’t mind killing people. Welcome to the big leagues, Davenport.
Thanks to some very influential people whose lives he saved, Lucas is no longer working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but for the U.S. Marshals Service, and with unusual scope. He gets to pick his own cases, whatever they are, wherever they lead him.
And where they’ve led him this time is into real trouble. A Biloxi, Mississippi, drug-cartel counting house gets robbed, and suitcases full of cash disappear, leaving behind five bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl. Davenport takes the case, which quickly spirals out of control, as cartel assassins, including a torturer known as the “Queen of home-improvement tools” compete with Davenport to find the Dixie Hicks shooters who knocked over the counting house. Things get ugly real fast, and neither the cartel killers nor the holdup men give a damn about whose lives Davenport might have saved; to them, he’s just another large target.
A Single Spy by William Christie
“A single spy―in the right place and at the right moment―may change the course of history.”
Alexsi Ivanovich Smirnov, an orphan and a thief, has been living by his wits and surviving below the ever-watchful eye of the Soviet system until his luck finally runs out. In 1936, at the age of 16, Alexsi is caught by the NKVD and transported to Moscow. There, in the notorious headquarters of the secret police, he is given a choice: be trained and inserted as a spy into Nazi Germany under the identity of his best friend, the long lost nephew of a high ranking Nazi official, or disappear forever in the basement of the Lubyanka. For Alexsi, it’s no choice at all.
Over the course of the next seven years, Alexsi has to live his role, that of the devoted nephew of a high Nazi official, and ultimately works for the legendary German spymaster Wilhelm Canaris as an intelligence agent in the Abwehr. All the while, acting as a double agent―reporting back to the NKVD and avoiding detection by the Gestapo. Trapped between the implacable forces of two of the most notorious dictatorships in history, and truly loyal to no one but himself, Alexsi’s goal remains the same―survival.
In 1943, Alexsi is chosen by the Gestapo to spearhead one of the most desperate operations of the war―to infiltrate the site of the upcoming Tehran conference between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, and set them up to be assassinated. For Alexsi, it’s the moment of truth; for the rest of the world, the future is at stake.
Read an excerpt from A Single Spy!
Get Off the Grid! by Saul Goodman
So you want to disappear? Whether you got the fuzz on your back or a price on your head, Saul Goodman can help!
Big Brother’s got eyes everywhere―don’t pretend they’re not all watching you. Nowadays you’d better assume anything you do is already on the 24/7 news feed, but there are measures you can take. Darken your windows. Bash your smartphone. Cut up your credit cards. But first, buy this book.
From the cunning counsel (me) who kept you out of the slammer with his handy manual Don’t Go to Jail!, here’s your escape plan for busting out of the prison of modern surveillance. You might be up to no good or you might be up to nothing at all―hey, it’s not my business, and let me tell you, it’s nobody else’s business, either. My business is making sure it stays your business.
An unlisted phone number is no longer enough. I want to help you find your inner alias. I want to show you your dream safe house. I don’t want to hear about you on the Internet. Get Off the Grid! can do all of this and more. It’s your one down-to-earth guide on going to ground, and not just that: it’s the best vanishing act you’ll never see!
Read David Cranmer's review of Get Off the Grid!