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Review: New crime fiction from Linwood Barclay, Jeannette de Beauvoir and Sheila Kindellan-Sheehan

Far From True

By Linwood Barclay, Doubleday Canada, 480 pages, $22.95

Trilogies are difficult. The second book (or film) is always a bridge, meaning we know the main characters are going to survive because they have another book coming. That said, Far From True, the second in Linwood Barclay's trilogy set in the fictional New York town of Promise Falls, is as solid a bridge as any. We were left with a major cliffhanger at the end of the first book, Broken Promise, as PI Cal Weaver and Detective Barry Duckworth faced some very real evil in their pretty little suburban paradise. This is Barclay's favoured setting – his own little St. Mary Mead – and he uses it very, very well. Change is coming to Promise Falls and it's manifested in the closing of the local drive-in movie theatre. On its last night in business, the screen collapses, falling onto the two front rows of cars. Terrible accident? Or something far more sinister? There's also a spate of murders that appear random, though each victim has a distinctive wound that makes Detective Duckworth rethink his own investigation. The book's weaknesses might be attributed to haste – three books in two years is a lot of writing – or just problems endemic to bridge books. Characters from the first book reappear and are granted long and – especially for readers who've finished the first book – repetitive back stories. There are a few loose threads to be (possibly) tied up in the third book, which is necessary but still aggravating. Still, fans will love Far From True, and won't want to wait the nine months until the final volume of the Promise Falls trilogy arrives in bookstores.

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Deadly Jewels

By Jeannette de Beauvoir, Minotaur, 362 pages, $29.99

Jeannette de Beauvoir's second in the Martine LeDuc series is a perfect sequel to Asylum. It has the crown jewels, a murder, an elegant policeman and a ton of inside-Montreal historical bons mots. In short, it's good. LeDuc, publicity director for the City of Montreal, has a perfect idea to extend the tourist season. For decades there's been a rumour that the crown jewels were stored in the city during the Second World War. When a doctoral researcher at McGill University digs up evidence (literally) that the story is true, a PR storm is in the offing – here's a tale the city can use to boost image and tourism. LeDuc joins the dig to get the PR machine running but it comes to an abrupt stop when jewels are actually found. Could be crown or could be stolen, but in any event they're in the stomach cavity of a dead man with a bullet hole in his head. Are two of the stones in the British crown replicas? LeDuc sets out to find the truth. This one is clever as a sack of monkeys and just plain fun.

Where Bodies Fall

By Sheila Kindellan-Sheehan, Vehicule, 266 pages, $20

The third Toni Damiano novel from Kindellan-Sheehan takes the central character a bit further into her own past and not-too-happy present. It also presents a nice puzzle plot with clues, herrings and settings so beloved by crime readers. This time out, Detective Damiano is tasked with finding out what happened to a dead teenage girl found in Montreal's Wellington Tunnel. The first hypothesis is it's a suicide but the dead girl is Taylor Sanderson, a college student and daughter of one of Montreal's most prominent families. Her father, Trevor Sanderson, is a lawyer and serves on the Corruption Commission. It's more than possible that the crime was directed at him, not his child. As Damiano investigates, the clues lead not to the father but the child. Just who was Taylor Sanderson when she wasn't being daddy's perfect daughter? Kindellan-Sheehan gets better with each book. Unlike some of Kindellan-Sheehan's unfortunate characters, it appears that Toni Damiano has a long life ahead of her.

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