If you can overlook the high body count, THE BOUNCER (Mysterious Press, $26), by David Gordon, is a brilliantly goofy caper novel in the grand tradition of Donald E. Westlake. A terrorist plot to hit New York City is the only threat that would make confederates out of warring mobsters like Uncle Chen, who runs the Chinese street gangs in Flushing; Little Maria, who keeps the Dominican heroin trade cooking; Alonzo, who heads up the black gangs in Brooklyn; and Menachem (Rebbe) Stone, who oversees the Orthodox Jewish underworld.
“We are all proud New Yorkers, patriotic Americans whose families came here from somewhere — Russia, Sicily, the Caribbean, Louisiana — fleeing poverty,” says Giovanni Caprisi, the gangster known as Gio the Gent. But for all their professional expertise, hunting spies and defusing bombs aren’t among the talents these tough folks have. Better they should hire a “gangster sheriff,” like Joe Brody, a bouncer at Club Rendezvous who carried out classified military missions during a stint in Special Forces. In a case like this, Brody is definitely your man.
Ghosts in the attic and skeletons in the closet are bad enough, but nothing in the realm of domestic horror beats coming home to find total strangers in the process of moving into your home. That’s the heartbreak Louise Candlish dishes out in OUR HOUSE (Berkley, $26). Fiona and Bram Lawson have separated, but Fiona and the children are still living in the redbrick Edwardian at 91 Trinity Avenue in London — until the day Fiona discovers that another family has taken possession. Bram, meanwhile, has skipped off to Switzerland with the money from the sale, leaving his wife to sob out her story on “The Victim,” a crime podcast that feeds on the misery of injured parties like herself. This terrific premise almost makes up for the fact that Fiona is such a pill and Bram is such a worm. As for the house, well, that’s certainly worth a fight to the death.
Imagine you’re married to a handsome, charismatic teacher who’s just been promoted to dorm master at an exclusive boarding school in New Hampshire. Now imagine that the students in Moreland Hall, informally known as “the slut dorm,” are locked in a fierce competition to seduce their dorm master. If murder doesn’t figure in your ruminations, it should, because that’s what happens in SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE (St. Martin’s, $26.99), Michele Campbell’s cozy mystery with teeth — and nails.
Sarah Donovan finds herself in this awkward situation when she and her husband, Heath, are assigned to monitor the raging hormones of the rich, entitled and unbridled Moreland girls. Among them are the 15-year-old twins Bel and Rose Enright. Bel, the bold twin, is mad for Heath. Rose, the quiet one, becomes attached to Sarah. Despite the annoying flips and flops in storytelling time (what is it with this trendy stylistic affectation?), the novel delivers a deadly crime, some surprising twists on said crime and several suspects who need a good spanking.