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Review: Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay, The Appraisal by Anna Porter and House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson

The Appraisal By Anna Porter.

Parting Shot

By Linwood Barclay

Doubleday Canada, 464 pages, $32

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This book is the latest instalment of the Promise Falls Trilogy and while you may count this as No. 4, it really doesn't matter. Series readers know that the last Promise Falls book ended with a cliffhanger, and Cal Weaver has a dilemma on his hands when this book opens. A drunken teenager has killed another teenager, this one a nice local girl. The townspeople want blood but the courts don't deliver. The kid gets off and plenty of people want him to pay. The problem? He doesn't remember a thing about the accident. Could you kill someone and not recall a thing? When Weaver starts to nose around, he quickly finds that one thing about Promise Falls hasn't changed. The town is a sinkhole of lies and scandal. When things take a turn toward revenge, it appears that a drunk driver isn't the worst that could happen in this town. Fans know to expect a twist from Linwood Barclay and they get more than one here. Those of us hooked on PF can hope that trilogy or no, Cal and the town make another appearance at some point.

The Appraisal

By Anna Porter

ECW Press, 300 pages, $19.95

If you want to take a quick trip to Budapest, this book is your ride. Anna Porter knows the byways and cafés of her native town and spins a web of mystery around an art heist, Ukrainian criminals and money laundering. In short, we have everything we want in an Eastern European crime novel. The backstory is simple. A Hungarian-Canadian zillionaire named Gezy Marton hires Helena Marsh, art expert, to buy back his stolen Titian painting. Helena, an art historian and expert, heads for Budapest to do business. But nothing is as straightforward as Helena thinks. Many people want this painting and is the Titian the real painting? Or was Marton's painting a forgery all along? The art-world intrigue has plenty of action for anyone, but Porter doesn't stop there. There are some dated bits (Helena's action heroine disguising herself in the traditional red hair with legs up to here and cleavage to there) as well as digressions that bog down the narrative. In short, a bit too much for one book but a terrific peek at modern Budapest.

House. Tree. Person.

By Catriona McPherson

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Midnight Ink, 335 pages, $28.95

Most readers know Scottish author Catriona McPherson for her delightful Dandy Gilver series of mysteries, but that's barely all her oeuvre. This chilling novel of psychological suspense takes us right into the heart of a terrified woman way out of her depth in multiple ways. Ali McGovern is caught in a lot of lies. She's a talented hairdresser who's lost her business due to her husband's mismanagement. Her teenaged son, Angelo, is leading a life that she can't access. Then, her husband talks her into applying for (and getting) a job she's wildly unqualified for, as the beauty consultant to a local psychiatric hospital. The money is great but she's told a passel of lies about her qualifications and background. Why do those smart doctors not see right through the lies and inexperience? Ali finds it difficult to keep her fake life and her real life together. Then a body turns up in a muddy grave and Ali's worst fears, that her son might somehow be involved, start to rise. McPherson works this plot perfectly and maintains the suspense to the very end.

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