Innocent by Scott Turow | The Whisperers by John Connolly | Chosen by Lesley Glaister | Any Human Face by Charles Lambert
Innocent, by Scott Turow (Mantle, £17.99)
Turow’s 1987 legal thriller Presumed Innocent launched his career and sold 4m copies. This sequel finds that novel’s fall guy, Rusty Sabich, now 60 and a judge, locking horns once more with Tommy Molto, who tried to convict him of the murder of his lover and colleague Carolyn Polhemus. Alarm bells often drown out the kerching of cash registers when writers return to the scenes of old triumphs, and the setup here may strike fans of Turow’s debut as odd. (So Sabich remained married to Barbara! Even though she, er . . .) Innocent opens on Sabich sitting beside Barbara’s corpse. She seems to have died naturally in her sleep. So why did he wait 24 hours before calling anyone? The timeline is so complicated, it’s shown graphically at the top of each chapter: a neat device that feels more like a courtesy than a necessity. You’ll be too gripped to notice you’re lost.
The Whisperers, by John Connolly (Hodder, £17.99)
The title refers to the devilish tenants of a jewel-encrusted gold box looted from an Iraq museum in 2003. When PI Charlie Parker is asked by the father of an Iraq veteran to investigate his son’s apparent suicide, he discovers the soldier was part of a team involved in smuggling stolen reliquaries across the Maine-Canada border. This is one of Connolly’s darker, scarier novels, all the more effective for the way the supernatural elements arise organically out of realistic detail, much of which concerns post-traumatic stress disorder. Parker is a frustratingly peripheral presence – he narrates too few chapters for my liking – but Connolly is excellent as always at using primal archetypes to create an atmosphere of apocalyptic dread. Cancer-ridden antiquities collector Herod – “I am often asked if I am fond of children” – is one of the most haunting characters in an oeuvre not exactly short of them.
Chosen, by Lesley Glaister (Tindal Street, £9.99)
When Dodie’s brother Seth goes missing after their mother’s suicide, she’s naturally concerned. Then she receives a postcard from him, sent from New York state and signed: “Yours in the Lord”. Seth has joined a cult called Soul Life. Refusing to accept this, Dodie leaves her baby with her feckless partner and flies to America to rescue him, only to be denied access. “You’ll see him tomorrow,” she is told every day. With Seth as bait, Dodie is drawn inexorably into the cult’s world of communal living and meditation. Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age novel, Chosen is great on the way that even people who style themselves as strong and sceptical can, when they’re vulnerable and the right buttons are being pushed, yield to arch manipulators like those who run Soul Life. Glaister is an agile, attentive writer who deserves to be more widely read.
Any Human Face, by Charles Lambert (Picador, £10.99)
Lambert’s third novel is a sophisticated literary thriller set on the seamier fringe of Rome’s gay scene, a magnet for the lonely and displaced located a long way off the tourist trail. Book-dealer Andrew Caruso is looking through his ex-lover Michel’s possessions when he finds a cache of photos stolen from police archives – mostly crime-scene pictures of corpses and bloodstains. An art-critic friend suggests exhibiting them above his shop. But the day before the opening, the photos are seized by armed raiders. Is it because one of them seems to show the abduction of a teenage girl? And does it mean there’s a link between Michel’s death and that of the journalist who owned the photos before him? Any Human Face is a little ponderous, but what it lacks in pace it makes up for in atmosphere and psychological insight.