Deep Into the Dark
By P.J. Tracy. (Minotaur, 352 pages, $26.99.)
P.J. Tracy is the pseudonym for Minnesota mother and daughter, P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, authors of the highly entertaining Monkeewrench series (set mostly in the Twin Cities). After P.J.'s death in 2016, her daughter continued the Monkeewrench books on her own. But her riveting new crime novel sets aside the Monkeewrench gang to step deeper into darkness. Sam Easton is an engineer and an Afghanistan war vet. He's "whole but not." Margaret Nolan is a Los Angeles homicide detective, compassionate, driven and a wee bit antisocial. Their lives intersect when a "savvy and slippery" serial killer stalks L.A. Tracy's characters are richly developed and seriously human, each struggling with how to overcome their dangerous dark pasts. I'm eager for more of Tracy's new gang.
By Nick Petrie. (Putnam, 432 pages, $27.)
Nick Petrie's latest Peter Ash thriller is set all over the city of Milwaukee. Ash is a Jack Reacher-like hero, ex-military, always "looking for the next righteous reason to kick somebody's" butt. The uneasy domesticity Ash has recently embraced with his partner, June Cassidy (an intrepid investigative journalist who can watch my back any day), implodes when they both get involved with high-tech espionage. Like all the Ash novels, this one opens with a brilliantly choreographed action scene, this time at the popular Milwaukee Public Market. It involves fruit (seriously). Petrie excels at propulsive pacing while keeping his characters compelling, daring, and, best of all, morally courageous. "The Breaker" is an Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary — fast, furious, and hits its mark (apologies to Viking fans).
By Cecilia Ekbäck. (Harper, 464 pages, $16.99.)
In Norse mythology, Odin (God of Wisdom, among other things), gouges out his own eye in return for knowledge. Early in this accomplished and absorbing World War II mystery set in Sweden, one of the characters explains that "Odin traded an everyday way of seeing things" for seeing history, seeing everything. This myth threads through Cecilia Ekbäck's story about five university friends pulled apart by secrets and the war. Like Switzerland, Sweden remained neutral during World War II, but for quite different reasons. Sweden's economy depended on Germany, and Germany depended on Swedish iron. It was a match forged in remote mining communities like Blackäsen Mountain in Lapland where the indigenous Sami people live and where this novel is rooted.