Black River, G.M. Ford, Avon, $6.99.
I haven't been a fan of G.M. Ford's Leo Waterman series, but the first novel in his second series, Fury, was excellent, and Black River is every bit as good. Ford seems to be one of those writers who is almost a well kept secret within the mystery community - while his novels rival the work of bestselling authors like Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane, he hasn't yet achieved that status. However, with any justice, he will, because these books are absolutely top notch - smart thrillers, a complex lead character, a great setting, and plots to die for. There are three in this series now, Black River being the second, and they feature crime reporter turned author, Frank Corso. Corso, a notorious recluse, lives alone on his boat and in this book has been given special dispensation to attend the trial of one of the most notorious mob bosses on the West Coast, Nicholas Balagula. Security is so tight that the jury sits behind one way glass so that Balagula has no chance of discovering their identities. While Corso is writing a book on the case, it doesn't become personal for him until one of his friends, Meg, a photographer, is injured in a car accident that doesn't seem to Corso like any accident.
The way Ford tells the story - using a precise date and time frame, while jumping between narratives that in the end all tie together, is masterful. It not only increases the suspense but the reader's ultimate interest in the story. There were very few predictable outcomes (I may have guessed one or two things, and you might too) but it doesn't mar the sheer enjoyment of this book in any way. Smart thrillers aren't being written any better at the moment - don't miss this one.
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