It seems almost every day I get an email or a phone call asking if I can recommend someone who writes “just like James Lee Burke”. That’s like asking if there is someone out who delivers presents “just like Santa Claus”.
Folks, another writer like James Lee Burke isn’t going to happen.
But, Burke’s daughter, Alafair, is a wonderful author, too.
“Angel’s Tip” by Alafair Burke (Harper Collins, $23.95, 339 pages, www.alafairburke.com.)
Ms. Burke is the author of four previous books. Three Samantha Kincaid novels plus two Ellie Hatcher novels: “Dead Connection” and “Angel’s Tip.”
All are excellent thrillers with strong female protagonists.
“Angel’s Tip” could have been taken from the front page of any major city in the country. The scenarios are all too common — a young woman makes the headlines because a tiny mistake leads to her murder. A college student leaves a bar with boys she just met. A young woman stays for behind one more drink. An illegally parked car is towed and a woman finds herself walking alone in a bad neighborhood. Small mistakes, costly tragedies. “Angel’s Tip” is their story.
“Born To Run” by James Grippando (Harper Collins, $25.99, 325 pages,)
Grippando’s 8th Jack Swyteck thriller delivers the hard edged goods.
“The Greek delivered his patented stare, a penetrating laser that could have burned through men of steel, much less a skinny bartender who looked barely old enough to drink. To most folks, the Greek was another one of those sixty-something-year-old marvels who could have lifted weights with Chuck Norris and out-boxed Sly Stallone. An unlucky few, however, learned why he stayed fit — though it had been a very long time since he’d killed a man over 20 bucks
“The Fourth Watcher” by Timothy Hallinan (Harper Collins, $24.95, 310 pages, www.timothyhallinan.com)
The second in Hallinan’s Bangkok series, “The Fourth Watcher” highlights Poke Rafferty and his cobbled-together family.
Hard action with an Asian twist.
“The man nearest Rafferty also has a gun in his hand, a tiny popgun just big enough to die from. The third holds a knife, nicked and rusty in spots, but with a honed, shiny edge, an edge that has had a lot of care lavished on it.”
But there is more than just violence.
… “When you don’t hear me talking, it’s probably my father I’m not talking about. Anyway, he spent a long time in Asia before I was born. Ran away when he was 15.” He thinks about it for a second. “He was sort of a specialist at running away.”
“Fifteen? How do you run away to Asia when you’re 15?”
“Do you want to hear about the money or not?”
“First things first.”
In general, Rafferty would rather eat glass than discuss his father, but now that he’s opened the box, there doesn’t seem to be any graceful way to close it. “He had a fake driver’s license and he used it to get a passport. Things weren’t so tight in those days. He had a bunch of money from mowing lawns and… I don’t know, whatever kids did in those days.”
“He told you this?”
“I asked him. He wasn’t much on volunteering information.”
She puts out the cigarette and doesn’t light another, which Rafferty interprets his progress. “Why did he run away?”
“Carrots,” Rafferty says.
And now two books rated EFSS (Excellent For Stocking Stuffers).
“Bones” by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books, $27, 353 pages, www.jonathankellerman.com).
Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis — a perfect for any Grit-Lit reader. Another excellent psychological thriller by the master.
“The Night Stalker” by James Swain (Ballantine Books, $25, 348 pages, www.jimswain.com).
“Stalker” is Swain’s second book in the Jack Carpenter series. Best selling writer, Lee Child (author of the extremely popular Jack Reacher series) says, “A non-stop nail biter. Hero Jack Carpenter is one for the ages.” And if anyone would know, Child’s would know.