PLUM ISLAND is the first in DeMille’s series featuring NYPD cop John Corey. After being shot in the line of duty, Corey is convalescing at his uncle’s place on Long Island when a neighboring couple, friends of Cory’s, are murdered. Turns out the pair were scientists at Plum Island, a site long rumored to engage in biological weapons research. DeMille writes great characters, it’s as simple as that. John Corey is a rude, sexist, unapologetic NY homicide detective, whose testosterone fueled antics and need to get the bad guy always lead him into doing something stupid. What makes Corey such a compelling character is that he holds no illusions about himself. Therefore the reader gets to see him work through and around his flaws. That said, if you haven’t read DeMille, I’d suggest starting with one of his other books. Even though Corey is made of win, the pirate treasure/conspiracy theory plot of PLUM ISLAND stretched my capacity to believe.
When a packed suitcase discovered behind a fireplace in the hardscrabble neighborhood of FAITHFUL PLACE turns out to have belonged to his first love, undercover cop Frank Mackey returns home to his alcoholic father, harpy mother, and otherwise dysfunctional family to find out what happened to the girl who went missing twenty years before. Some of you may have heard (read?) me say, I want to be Tana French when I grow up. French takes chances few female mystery writers would entertain even after a bottle of wine. Her “series” about the Dublin Murder Squad isn’t really a series at all but stand-alones with different protagonists, unrelated stories, and barely a whisper of crossover. Both FAITHFUL PLACE and her first book, IN THE WOODS, are written from the first person male POV. But what is most extraordinary about French, is her writing. Instead of stringing together a bunch of mystery tropes, her characters are rich, flawed, and complex. Her language graceful, her descriptions lush and poignant. In a world overflowing with ho-hum mysteries, French is the exception.