Monday, April 30, 2018

Tango Down by Chris Knopf

First Sentence:  I was trying to maneuver my way across the muddy construction site when Frank Entwhistle ran up to my old Jeep Cherokee and slapped on the windshield.
Sam Acquillo has been building cabinets for the new home of wealthy New Yorker Victor Bollings. When Bollings’ body is found on the job site, Colombian illegal Ernesto Mazzoti, a finish carpenter and Sam’s friend, is arrested as the obvious suspect.  The murder weapon contains Ernesto’s fingerprints, but Sam isn’t buying it.  With the help of Jackie Swaitkowski, a defense attorney who, courtesy of billionaire Burton Lewis, takes the cases of those who can’t afford to pay, Sam works to prove Ernesto innocent.
It is nice when an author starts straight in with the crime.  Sam is a great character with a fascinating background and unexpected skills.  Just when his machismo starts becoming a bit strong, it is tempered by his caring for others.  His lover, Amada, and dog, Eddie Van Halen, round out the character nicely.  It is also nice that Knopf’s writing is wonderfully intelligent and that he provides a good sense of Eastern Long Island with its marked contrast between the extremely wealthy, primarily summer people, and the working-class people who live there year-round.
A well-done metaphor is always a pleasure to read—”Then I used a few other traditional calibrating tools to reset the table saw.  … The result was perfect and true, like the heart of a young lover before disappointment upends her soul.”
The storyline of undocumented workers couldn’t be more timely or accurate.  That the investigation involves multiple agencies, and a jaunt to the Virgin Islands adds dimensions to the story.  So too is that of the issue with which Amanda is dealing which is emotional and adds yet another layer to the plot as well as the characters.     
Tango Downis intelligent, complex, and multi-layered, with a realistic ending and a tug to the heart.  Knopf is an author who should be much more widely known and read.

TANGO DOWN (PI-Sam Acquillo -Long Island, NY-Contemp) - Ex
      Knopf, Chris – 8th in series
     The Permanent Press – December 2017

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon

First Sentence:  Having left the apartment smack on time so as to arrive at the Questura on time for a meeting with his superior, Brunetti found himself seated toward the rear of a Number One vaporetto, glancing idly through a copy of that morning’s Gazzettino.
Commissario Guido Brunetti is approached by a co-worker of his wife asking his help in stopping the people she thinks may be selling drugs to her son.  Unfortunately, there is really nothing he can do.  When her husband, Tullio Gasparini, is found at the foot of a bridge with a severe head injury, it opens the way to a possible connection.  But nothing is simple.  It takes the help of his colleague Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, his boss’s secretary, the remarkable Signorina Elettra, and the reading of Sophocles’ Antigone, to reach a solution.
A map!  All gratitude goes to publishers who include a map.  It not only orients the reader but helps one feel part of the story.
It takes no time at all to be reminded why Leon is such a popular and successful author.  No prologue here.  Instead, one is sitting next to Brunetti in what quickly goes from a normal commute to one filled with tension.  But there is still that touch of the familiar with which we can all identify—“Brunetti turned and looked at the man sitting on his right, but saw that he was so rapt by whatever showed on the screen of his phone that he would not have noticed seraphs had they descended and flown in close formation on either side of the boat.”
Leon’s introduction of Brunetti’s boss is familiar to most who have worked in the corporate world—“He seemed busier than he was; he never missed the opportunity to claim for himself any praise given to the organization for which he worked; he had a black belt in shifting blame or responsibility for failure to shoulders other than his own.”  While it is his bosses’ secretary, Signorina Elletra Zorzi one can’t help but truly admire, it is Brunetti himself who makes loyal fans of her readers—"Why are you always so kind to him, Signore?’ Signorina Elettra asked.  Brunetti had to consider this:  He had never given conscious thought to how to respond to Alvise.  ‘Because he needs it,’ he said.”
Leon’s metaphors are to be savoured, and Brunetti’s definition of the law makes one think—'“It’s not important what either of us thinks about the law.’  ‘Then what is important?’  ‘That innocent people be protected.  That’s what laws are meant to do,” he said.”’  Every word is a gift.
It is nice, though sad, to learn more about Brunetti’s background.  It also clarifies the way by which he reached one of his views.  The scenes of Brunetti, especially those with his family, are so relatable and real. He is a cultured man who comfortably uses words such as “metonym,” and reads Antigone.  How refreshing is his attitude toward guns, and how radical a cultural difference.  Being in Italy, there is always food such as a simple lunch of celery root soup and veal meatballs wrapped in speck [a dense, ruddy ham].
Inspector Claudia Griffoni is a wonderful addition and, in some ways, foil to Brunetti.  As opposed to his wife Paoli, Griffoni shares his world but sees it from a woman’s perspective—“…men explaining their violence towards women and expecting people to believe they really didn’t have a choice.  …And, if I might add, only men are stupid enough to believe it because they feel the same desire to control women…” 
Leon’s descriptions are exacting, taking one beyond a sense of place, to a sense of being there.  She provides small life lessons, her humor subtle and unforced.  It is not easy to convey emotion, to truly make one feel that which is felt by the characters, yet Leon has the ability to do just that without going over the top. 
The differences between Italian and US law is remarkable and eye-opening.  In some ways, it is difficult to say which is better.  Leon makes you think, feel, and question.
The Temptation of Forgiveness" is a mystery, yes.  But more so, a story of relationships, desperation, and greed.  

THE TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS (Pol Proc-Comm. Guido Brunetti-Venice, Italy-Contemp) - Ex
      Leon, Donna – 27th in series
     Atlantic Monthly Press – March 2017

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Poison by John Lescroart

First Sentence: If opening day wasn’t the happiest landmark in Dismas Hardy’s year, he didn’t know what was.
San Francisco attorney Dismas Hardy is recovering from two gunshot wounds and thinking about retirement.  The murder of Grant Wagner, the owner of a successful family business, changes his plans.  Abby Jarvis was a former client of Hardy’s and is the prime suspect.  She was Wagner’s bookkeeper and was receiving substantial sums of cash off the books, but she claims she is innocent.  The further Dismas digs into the family relationships, the more precarious his own life becomes. 
If you’ve not read Lescroart in a while, or ever, this is a good time to change that.  Lescroart is a true storyteller.  He engages the reader from the beginning with his style and humor—“Part of it, of course, was AT&T Park, which to his mind was essentially the platonic ideal of a ballpark. (Although, of course, how could Plato have known?)”
There is a fair number of characters in the story, but Lescroart is adept at introducing them all and making them distinct enough not to become confused.  Having the perspective of the victim’s family is an interesting approach. 
In addition to a good recounting of the past case which caused Hardy to be shot, there is an excellent explanation of the steps and process of the law.  Rather than its being dry reading, it involves one as if they are the defendant.  Early on, it is revealed that poison was the cause of Wagner’s death, and interesting information on wolfsbane is provided. The link made from the first murder to the second is nicely done as it then becomes personally dangerous to Dismas.
The mention of food and family—“Hardy made them both an enormous omelet in his black cast-iron pan… They discussed the irony that he’d spiked the eggs with a cheese from Cowgirl Creamery named Mt. Tam, and that Frannie was going out to climb the very same Mount Tamalpais with her women’s hiking group in the next half hour or so.”—local landmarks, and all the San Francisco references, add realism to the story.  Another such touch is the lovely nod to a fellow author—“…C.J. Box novel, stopping on a high note when he laughed aloud after coming across the line ‘Nothing spells trouble like two drunk cowboys with a rocket launcher.’” 
Lescroart not only shows what happens on the defense side of a case, but also with the homicide team and, somewhat, with the prosecution team.  The crisis within the Hardy household is realistically portrayed.  Lescroart has a very good way of subtly increasing the suspense. 
Poison” is an extremely well-done legal thriller filled with details which can seem overwhelming yet are interesting and, most of all, important.  The well-done plot twists keep one involved and the end makes one think. 

POISON (Legal Thril-Dismas Hardy-San Francisco, CA-Contemp) – G+
      Lescroart, John – 17th in series
      Atria Books – February 2018

Friday, April 20, 2018

Looking Glass by Andrew Mayne

First Sentence:  Tiko kicked the deflated soccer ball down the alley, laughing as MauMau, the tan puppy with the chewed-up ear, chased it into the puddle, his too-big paws splattering mud and droplets everywhere.
Professor Theo Cray is trying to put his life back on track after having been responsible for the capture of a mass serial killer.  The father of a missing child has been ignored by law enforcement and sees Theo as the last hope for finding his child.  The only clue is the child’s bike still where the boy was last seen, and stories of “The Toy Man.”  As Theo investigates, it’s clear that this is a case of more than one missing child. 
Mayne has written an opening that tears at your heart but won’t let you stop reading.  One is drawn into the suspense almost immediately.  You are also drawn to the character—“What does your gut say?” “I’m a scientist.  I’ve trained myself not to have a gut.”  One is also drawn to the fact that Mayne is an author who truly makes one think—“The real danger is that the good guys will blindly keep doing bad things that they don’t see as bad.  It’s why people who would give the shirt off their back to help the poor and the hungry will then march against genetically modified food, even if such food products could save millions of children from blindness or starvation.  It’s when people who want democracy in the Middle East find themselves building military bases instead of schools and hospitals.”        
This is one painful book to read.  One is only peripherally aware of how many children, in fact, especially those from families of illegals, broken homes and those afraid to talk to the authorities are missing and that there is next to nothing being done to find them.   A major clue in the story is nearly as disturbing, but very effective for it so being. 
One weakness the plot has is the redundant references back to Cray’s previous case.  It almost seems to be a plot filler and takes the effectiveness away from this story.  There is, however, one link made which does work—“Don’t think just because you survived one monster you’ll survive the next.  I’m alive because I kept running from them.  Not to them.”   
Mayne does creepy well. He excels at creepy.  He creates visual images that may stay with one, but one certainly hopes they don’t.
The scientific information can, at times, be a bit overwhelming.  But it is fascinating and not so complex that one doesn’t get the gist of what is being conveyed.  Even Cray’s analysis can make one think—“Every murder has at least five important factors:  a victim, a means of death, a location, a time, and a murderer.  Solving for one or more of them can lead you to a solution, much like an equation, assuming they’re not all random.”   
The link between the killings is unique.  And then Mayne introduces the tried, true, and highly effective element of racing against the clock.
It helps that Mayne’s humor lightens the darkness of the events—“There has to be some other distraction that doesn’t involve a siren and dead hostages.  Shit. There is.  There’s actually an app for that.”  He throws in an effective plot twist, and some excellent advice--“Never believe anything that’s reported in the first twenty-four hours.  In the age of social media, this is especially true.”
The story contains a lot of information, some of which may not interest everyone but may well fascinate others.  One might wish for author notes. 
Looking Glass” is twisty, grim, and takes one to unexpected places.  While not Mayne’s best book, it keeps one reading non-stop from page one to the very end.

LOOKING GLASS (Trad Mys-Theo Cray-US-Contemp) – G+
      Mayne, Andrew – 2nd in series
      Thomas & Mercer – March, 2018                                                                                                                   

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Dying Note by Ann Parker

First Sentence:  Not my hands!
Inez Stannert and her ward, Antonia have moved from Leadville, Colorado to San Francisco where they live above the music store owned by a renowned local violinist.   Inez works in the shop and teaches piano including to a young musician whose badly beaten body has been found on the banks of the Mission Creek canal.  Inez her life and the secrets she’s keeping may fall apart when a friend from Leadville shows up with Wolter Roeland de Bruijn, a man who knew Antonia’s late mother, and a man looking for his son.  When the link between the two young men is made, can Inez discover his killer without her reputation being destroyed?
The opening is violent and difficult to read.  It is clear there is an important link, but one wonders whether the first chapter truly adds to the story or could have been omitted.
What follows is the introduction of the protagonist, Inez, and many of the supporting characters.  One thing that makes Inez particularly interesting and admirable is her determination and her business acumen. She has found a way to help other women support themselves with small women-owned businesses while building security for herself and Antonia. There is information on Antonia’s past included in the story that explains her behavior and tendency toward self-reliance.  She knows what it is to be an outsider and recognizes it in others.  There is also a scene of great tenderness.
There are a number of other wonderful characters who enrich the plot.  Antonia’s friend Mick Lynch is a member of a large Irish family and son of the cop.  John Hue is a Chinese purveyor of curiosities and repairer of stringed instruments and woodwinds.  Patrick May, the young black man, loves music and just wants to play the piano.  Elizabeth O’Connell is a female Pinkerton agent.  These, among others, give flavor and dimension to the story.
One is given a good look at life in this time, but it is the life of ordinary people.  Yes, there are scenes at the still-fabulous Palace Hotel, but the bulk of the story involves the working class which is a rather refreshing change.  Parker also addresses the issues of attitudes toward the blacks and Chinese immigrants, and the events surrounding the attempts at unionizing musicians.  Even so, there is a nod to today—“Mark me,” he continued, “there will come a time when the oppression by the moneyed powers of this country will be so great it will no longer be endured.”  

There is so much wonderful historical information included that adds veracity to the story.  When reading historical mysteries, the Author’s Notes are always important and informative.  It’s fun to learn which things are real and which were invented or changed for the purpose of the story. 
A Dying Note” includes very good plot twists, a surprising ending, and a promise of continuing associations in the future.

A DYING NOTE (Hist Mys-Inez Stannert-San Francisco, CA- 1881) – G+
      Parker, Ann – 6th in series
      Poisoned Pen Press – April 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry

First Sentence:  They were alone in the small room where the accused was allowed to take visits with his lawyer.
Junior barrister Daniel Pitt has just won his first case defending Roman Blackwell, a private inquiry agent.  Now, he has been called to the Old Bailey to assist his fellow attorney, Toby Kitteridge, on a case.  With the trial lost, biographer Russell Graves has been found guilty of murdering his wife and is due to be hanged in 21 days.  Daniel, along with fellow barrister Kitteridge, has been instructed to have Graves’ sentence overturned.  While Kitteridge searches the law for a loophole, Daniel is determined to find the real killer.
Beginning in a prison interview room certainly sets the tone of what is to follow and creates an initial gravitas, especially when a trial is going badly.  In this instance, it also gives us some concern about the effectiveness of our protagonist as an attorney—“Daniel frankly found the law far more tedious than he had expected to.”       
With the start of a new series comes the creation of characters we hope will continue on.  Blackwell and his mother are true examples of friendship and understanding the importance of paying ones moral debts.  Daniel’s landlady, Mrs. Portescale, is delightful.  Kitteridge is an excellent foil to Daniel—“Kitteridge loved it; he loved the idea that the law was an elegant but imperfect servant of justice.”  Perry also establishes good conflict, both with the opposing counsel and later with his fellow barrister, Kitteridge—“Do you care about anything? Don’t you care about the law?”  Introduced later in the story is Miriam, who is analytical, observant, has studied medicine and chemistry and has passed her exams but is not recognized with a degree.  Such is the discrimination of the time.  It will be interesting to see which, if any, of these characters continue as the series carries forward.
On the chance that this book may be someone’s first entry into reading Perry, she does an excellent job of introducing all the members of the Pitt family.  For those well acquainted with the Pitt series, this book is a very good segue between the series of Thomas and Charlotte to Daniel.  There is, however, one large detail which is unexplained and would have been helpful to the series readers.  Still, it is interesting how the recounting of Daniel’s family leads to his awareness of the importance of connections—“My dear, a secret exposed is a secret you can no longer use.  It is an opportunity wasted, is it not?”
The analysis of the crime scene is well done and prompts Daniel to ask the questions some readers may have had.  The scene of Daniel having dinner in the servants’ quarters is particularly wonderful as it shows the dynamics of the staff and their relationship.  It also provides an opportunity to describe a meal which is relatively simple but enviable.  Mr. Falthorne, butler to the Graveses, is delightful and provides an interesting revelation.  There is nothing like hitting that “Aha!” moment when a significant link is made.  However, it is also an opportunity for Perry to present Daniel with a serious moral dilemma. 
Perry doesn’t take the easy way out.  She challenges both her readers and her characters. This is, in part, what makes her such an effective author.  Although set in the early 1900’s her observations are timely--“Most people, women included, judge according to their own experience.  We think what we need to think in order to hold on to our own worldview and validate what we must believe.  It is a matter of survival, although it may seem merely to be prejudice to someone else.  It takes a lot of courage to turn your world upside down and start again.”  She states truths; those things we intrinsically know but seldom say.
Twenty-One Days” is a very good start to this new series.  The plot has twists, turns, and surprising revelations.  The element of time running out is well used, and the final courtroom scene very effective.  Perry never disappoints.

TWENTY-ONE DAYS: A Daniel Pitt Novel (Hist Mys-Daniel Pitt-London-1910) – VG+
      Perry, Anne – 1st book in series
      Ballentine Books – April 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Serve and Protect by Sheldon Siegel

First Sentence:  The Honorable Elizabeth McDaniel tapped her microphone, and her overflowing courtroom went silent.
Rookie cop Johnny Bacigalupi pulls over a car on a routine traffic stop.  The driver flees, the cop calls for backup, and the driver is shot and killed.  A gun is found under the perp.  The cops declare it a justified shooting.  But is it?  Mike Daley is currently head of the Felony Division of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.  When the DA decides to prosecute Johnny on murder charges, Mike takes a leave of absence in order to defend his godson.
No one writes a courtroom scene better than Siegal.  It is also a wonderful introduction to Mike Daley.  However, no matter how serious the theme, Spiegel uses humor as a perfect balance—“If Luther’s case appeared in a Grisham  novel, nobody would have believed it.” He also uses Mike’s internal narrative as a tool to provide interesting and informative information on various topics such as how California law works.  
Every major city has its families with generations of cops, firemen, and lawyers, and in Mike’s case, a private investigator brother, his wife who is his boss, and a niece, a court deputy.  And then, there’s Terrence “The Terminator” Love.  In some ways, San Francisco is a much a character as are the people. 
Seigel relates some of the City’s painful history related to Jim Jones and the Peoples’ Temple cult, as well as the issue of immigration—“I’ve been here since I was a kid.  I’m a U.S. citizen.”  He shows how quickly situations can escalate from anger to violence, to death.  The debate as to whether to take a plea bargain for a lesser offense is strongly prevented, especially with a client who insists they are innocent—“So you think morality has a sliding scale?”
Serve and Protect” has strong characters, interesting information about the law, excellent plot twists, and a very well-done ending that wasn’t one which could have been predicted.  

SERVE AND PROTECT (Legal Thriller-Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez-San Francisco, CA-Contemp) – VG+
      Siegel, Sheldon – 9th in series
      Sheldon M. Siegel, Inc. – February 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Disappeared by C.J. Box

First Sentence:  Wylie Frye was used to smelling of smoke and that was long before he became a criminal of sorts.
Wyoming’s new governor wants Game Warder Joe Pickett to find a wealthy CEO and Englishwoman who disappeared after staying at the dude ranch where Joe’s daughter, Sheridan, works.  Joe’s friend, master falconer Nate Romanowski, want Joe to find out why the falconers can no longer hunt with eagles in spite of having valid permits.  Joe wants to know why the Game Warden seems to have disappeared from the area where the ranch is located.  And who is working hard to make Joe go away?
Box is very good at creating a sense of place, and a sense of cold—“Twilight in the mountains brought a special kind of cold.  It crept out from the darkness of the lodgepole pine forest where it had spent the daylight hours and it slithered across the top of the snow to sting every inch of exposed human skin.  Sounds became sharper and the snow itself became a different texture that squeaked like nails on a chalkboard with every footfall.”   His description of what it’s like to drive during the winter in the mountains conveys some of the dangers involved.   And most of us don’t think about the risks inherent with snowmobiling. There is fascinating information about the use of predator birds for protecting flocks and endangered birds, as well as killing animal predators, and all the political machinations involved.  The relationship of falconry to Shakespeare is a nice touch.
The perspective Joe has on how his relationship has changed with his now-grown daughter is one with which most can identify in some way.  For those who have followed the series, it is particularly poignant.  The contrast of Joe and Nate is always interesting.  They truly are light and dark.  Lance, Sheridan’s boyfriend, is someone of whom I hope we see more. 
There’s a lot in this book, almost too much.  The threads do come together but awkwardly.  There isn’t the cohesion one finds in Box’ previous books, and even the humor and suspense are less apparent.  The motive is rather weak and far-fetched, particularly when we learn who is behind everything, and the ending rather abrupt.  One dearly hopes Box isn’t getting tired of his series. 
The Disappeared” is not the strongest book by Box, but it’s still better than a very good book by other authors.   There is an excellent twist and a good “Western” ending.  

THE DISAPPEARED (Lic Invest-Joe Pickett-Wyoming-Contemp) - Good
      Box, C.J. – 18th in series
      G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Mar 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Killing in C Sharp by Alexia Gordon

First Sentence:  Gethsemane Brown frowned at her landlord across her kitchen table.
Violinist, conductor, and music conductor Gethsemane Brown has saved her cottage from developers, but now her landlord has now granted permission for a team of ghost hunters to investigate for the all-too-present spirit of composer Eamon McCarthy.  To deflect the investigators, she points them to the opera house where composer Aed Devlin plans to premiere his work about Maja Zoltán who died placing a curse to occur each year on the anniversary of her death. With the smell of grease and pepper and excerpts of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” in her head, Gethsemane and her friends have to get rid of the specter of Maja, prevent Eamon from being exposed, save lives, and find the killer of a crooked journalist.
The important thing when reading Gordon is to just go with the premise, which is delightful and not at all twee.  The other thing is what a good job Gordon does of providing all the backstory.  It catches up both those who’ve read previous books, and new readers so there’s never a feeling of having missed something, but neither does it slow down the plot.
Gordon’s characters are all fully-developed and very interesting.  Gethsemane, with her love of good whiskey, is no mild-mannered Miss Marple.  In fact, she describes herself as being—“Competent, confident, intelligent, and driven, but not ‘nice.’  She is the type of person with whom one would like to be friends.  Father Tom with his older brother’s collection of books on the occult, Neill of the Gardaí, Saoirse the 12-year-old genius, and more are all interesting and very real.
The subject of reviews for pay; i.e., when a reviewer offers to write a positive review in exchange for money and is different from being a publication- or syndication-paid reviewer, is an interesting one.  It is a path down which no reputable or ethical reviewer would tread.
There are a number of laugh-out-loud moments which provide lightness.  One will also enjoy the reference to—“You’re both grown and neither of you are related to me, so it’s none of my business.”  Southern code for “but if you want to talk about it…”.  The paranormal elements of the story are very intriguing and well done.  Not all authors use the paranormal well.  Gordon really does.
It is quite remarkable the way in which Gordon creates a rather illogical scenario and not only makes it both logical and believable but makes one care.  There is also a very nice plot twist which is well done.   
Killing in C Sharp” is a wonderful traditional/paranormal mystery.  In fact, this is the best book in the series, so far.
KILLING IN C SHARP (Trad Mys-Gethsemane Brown-Ireland-Contemporary) - Ex    
      Gordon, Alexia – 3rd in series
      The Henery Press – March 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green

First Sentence:  Back in Victorian times a certain Elliot Tyrone ran a very popular inn, the Castle.
Penny Belcourt has been invited to the reopening of Tyrone’s Castle in Cornwell.  Penny askes her partner Ishmael Jones, to accompany so that they might have a “perfectly normal weekend” together.  However, it seems that one of the inn’s legends may be more than a story as one-by-one, people disappear without a trace.  Is there something supernatural at work?  It’s up to Ishmael to find out before the night is over and everyone is gone.
A more intriguing opening or character I doubt you’ll find.  From the first pages, Green gives us both the history and the setting, and a completely unique character.  Unfortunately, he doesn't expand on it as the story progresses.
Green’s pays great attention to the details, both in terms of places—“Old-fashioned street lights were just coming on, their honey-yellow illumination shedding a pleasant glow across the scene.  It was like driving through the picture on the lid of a box containing a childhood jigsaw puzzle.”—and people—“He was smartly, if casually dressed, well into his forties, and almost entirely bald.  His face was smooth and shiny, his eyes were a faded blue, and his innkeeper’s smile didn’t waver once.  Perhaps only I would have noticed that it didn’t even come close to touching his eyes.”  He puts us into the story and makes it real.  His subtle humor lightens tense situations—“I gestured at the nearest open door. ‘Do you want to go in first, Penny?’  ‘After you,’ said Penny.  ‘And don’t be afraid to hit anything that moves.’  ‘Sounds like a plan to me,’ I said.”  
Starting a series with the newest book, rather than the first, puts pressure on the author to ensure new readers still have a sense of continuity with the primary characters.  In spite of the information at the beginning, one is left with the knowledge that there are a lot of details one is missing. Another issue is that if the characters are at risk, one should care about them.  Other than the protagonists, most of the characters here were so unpleasant, one doesn’t really care if they disappear, although that does change as the story progresses.  Another issue was that although there was the mystery of what was happening, there was also always the sense that there would be a perfectly logical explanation. 
The positives, however, where the clever method by which the disappearances were enacted and learning what, unpleasantly, happened to those who went missing.
Into the Thinnest of Air” is, by far, not Green’s best book.  For that, one should go to the “Nightside” series, instead.  While some of his strengths were there, the “well, maybe” aspect of his storytelling was missing.  Even so, it was an enjoyable, quick read.

INTO THE THINNEST OF AIR (Susp-Ishmael Jones-England-Contemp) - Okay
      Green, Simon R. – 5th in series
      Severn House – March 2018