Roundup Mystery

The Baltimore Sun

A Darker Domain

By Val McDermid

Harper / 368 pages / $25

During the 1980s, a coal-mining strike changed the landscape of many Scottish towns. Tight-knit communities and families were torn apart by the long strike that drained meager savings and by the workers who left for other jobs.

That historical footnote provides the background for Val McDermid's powerful A Darker Domain. Mick Prentice, a union supporter, was one of those men who left. Mick's abandoned wife and daughter became outcasts who could barely afford food. But now it appears that no one knows exactly what happened to Mick.

As cold-case detective Karen Pirie looks into that case, she also is pulled into the decades-old kidnapping of an heiress and her baby that happened during that same time.

McDermid keeps the suspense high as she delivers an emotionally wrenching story about people abandoned by those they trust the most.

The Messenger

By Jan Burke

Simon & Schuster / 320 pages / $25

Edgar winner Jan Burke confidently delivers her first supernatural thriller with strong mystery undertones in The Messenger.

For more than 200 years, Tyler Hawthorne has been a "messenger" with the ability to hear a dying person's thoughts and communicate them to his or her loved ones. Tyler has avoided human relationships, knowing that he will always look 24. But he now finds himself falling for a young woman at the same time an old enemy seeks to destroy him.

Despite the premise, Tyler is as believable as any normal detective. The wealthy Amanda Clarke, for whom Tyler falls, is a self-conscious young woman who also is haunted by her past.

Tyler and Amanda's relationship has a rocky start, but its natural growth is realistic. Burke's strong storytelling makes The Messenger anything but predictable.

Never Tell a Lie

By Hallie Ephron

William Morrow / 288 pages / $25

A garage sale dismantles a couple's life in Hallie Ephron's invigorating Never Tell a Lie. Reminiscent of Single White Female, the book delivers a tale about obsession, relationships and forgiveness.

High school sweethearts Ivy and David Rose, whose baby is due in weeks, need to rid their Victorian of junk. One shopper at their garage sale is Melinda White, a high school classmate. Melinda's disappearance soon after the sale eerily points back to David and Ivy, neither of whom liked Melinda. As the evidence mounts against them, the young married couple must face some long-buried secrets.

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