Crime In Brief: Damnation Street <br/> Never Fear<br/> The Night Gardener<br/>

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The Independent Culture

Damnation Street by Andrew Klavan (Quercus £12.99)

Scott Weiss and Jim Bishop are private eyes in San Francisco. Weiss is an ex-cop and smart. Bishop is akiller, but stupid. Andrew Klavan worked for them as a young man and tells the story, a "fictionalised memoir". Fact or fiction? I don't know and it doesn't matter. All three are involved one way or another with women. Searching for them, protecting them, yearning for them. It just makes for a boss crime novel with an ending so strange as to be almost supernatural. As hardboiled as the contents of an egg salad sandwich.

Never Fear by Scott Frost (Headline £19.99)

One night, Pasadena detective Lieutenant Alex Delillo discovers that she has a half-brother she didn't know existed, and that he is dead, a suspected suicide. But why did he try to send her a fax just before he died, and how did he know about her? The LAPD cop in charge of the case is hostile towards her interfering in what seems to be a simple investigation, then he's killed and Alex's popularity with the department nosedives - it was she that found his body. Never Fear is as tough a crime novel as I've read, with a plot that twists and turns like a snake on crack, as fire rages across LA and Alex is pursued by demons from the past and present. Frost, whose credits include scripts for Twin Peaks and The X-Files, has written a classic crime novel.

The Night Gardener by George Oekecabsi (Orion £12.99)

Pelecanos rocks! There are no two ways about it. Fresh from The Wire, which is the best TV cop show on either side of the Atlantic, his new novel takes off from the word go, as a serial killer from the 1980s appears to return to the 21st century. Cops, former cops and disgraced cops criss-cross Washington DC from strip joints to sugar shacks to trick pads in the hunt for the Palindrome Murderer, whose victims' Christian names are spelled the same back to front, but to no avail, as everything is far from what it seems. Things are never quiet in Pelecanos land and we should be grateful. Police procedural at its very best.