Book reviews: Crime in brief

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The Independent Culture

Run by Jeff Abbott (Sphere £6.99)

Ben Forsborg's wife was murdered on their honeymoon. Two years later, his business card turns up in the wallet of a murdered assassin, and there's a message on his answerphone from the same man. He has no idea why, but suddenly he's the focus of a witch-hunt by Homeland Security. Taut, scary, with enough twists and turns to satisfy the most paranoid conspiracy theorist, this is a winner.

Calumet City by Charlie Newton (Bantam £11.99)

Why, oh why do grown men do it? Write crime novels with female narrators, that is. There's something just plain weird about them. Charlie Newton is a fine writer and 'Calumet City' is as hardboiled a novel as any fan could want. It's set in Chicago, where Officer Patti Black, hard as nails, friendless, is the most decorated cop on the force. It just doesn't ring true. All the way through I was just thinking of beefy blokes prancing about in pantyhose.

The Broken Window by Jeffrey Deaver (Hodder £16.99)

This is more like it. One of the great detective teams of contemporary crime fiction come storming back. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs get involved in a crime close to home as Lincoln's cousin Arthur is arrested for murder. There's lots of skeletons in the cupboard and family secrets galore from their past, but Lincoln takes the case, though reluctantly. Deaver never disappoints, and this novel shines.

Phantom Prey by John Sandford (Simon & Schuster £12.99)

John Sandford has never received the success in this country that he deserves. His 'Prey' series is one of the best in US crime. Lucas Davenport, a Minneapolis detective, becomes involved in the underground Goth scene when three young people are murdered. But something doesn't add up, as a young woman appears and vanishes in an almost supernatural way. Possibly the strangest of the series so far, 'Phantom Prey' is a good place to start for the uninitiated.

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