By John Sandford. (Putnam, 406 pages, $27.95.)

Lucas Davenport has a problem. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator is supposed to quietly figure out whether the vile kiddie porn that popped up on the computer of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Porter Smalls was planted, and, if so, by whom.

With the election only a week away, there are plenty of possibilities: The Democratic challenger has the most to gain; Smalls himself is a ladies’ man with a trail of women in his wake; or was it an overzealous operative who decided to take political espionage to a new level?

In his search for the culprit — one that’s destined to bruise egos and step on toes throughout the Capitol and several police departments — Davenport delves into the seamy underbelly of the state’s lowlifes, be they drug dealers or politicians.

Minnesota Nice? Not in “Silken Prey,” bestselling author John Sandford’s latest mystery.

This is a world where one campaign adviser says, without irony: “I let my candidate speak honestly. I let him be funny and intelligent: that was the last time I’ll make that mistake.”

Sandford’s formula of gallows humor and whip-smart dialogue seems fresher than ever in this tale of murder and political dirty tricks.

Events: John Sandford will sign books at noon Tuesday at Barnes & Noble, Nicollet Mall; 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble, Har Mar Mall, Roseville; 7 p.m. Wednesday for Club Book at Rum River Library, Anoka; and 7 p.m. Thursday at Once Upon a Crime, Mpls.


Mobile and social media editor


The House of Special Purpose

By John Boyne (Other Press, 469 pages, $16.95)

Irish writer John Boyne’s “The House of Special Purpose” is a thrilling historical novel rooted in the Russian revolution and the end of Romanov czars.

It’s a story of love and loyalty that spans most of the 20th century. It is told by Georgy Jacmenev, who at 82 looks back on his life that began as a poor Russian peasant, took him to the czar’s palace as a bodyguard and later landed him in Paris and London.

His hidden life and love of a princess in the doomed Romanov family is told from two perspectives that propel the story forward and backward in alternating chapters.

It makes for a gripping story from an author whose earlier works include “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” which became a film in 2008.

David Shaffer,