5 page turners for your summer reading list

While I’ve been wrestling with these book stacks, I’m falling behind on my reviewing. Here’s a meager attempt to catch up by covering a few of the most engrossing works of fiction that have crossed my desk recently.

“The Child” by Fiona Barton (Berkley, 364 pages, $26).
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“The Child” by Fiona Barton (Berkley, 364 pages, $26).

“The Child” by Fiona Barton (Berkley, 364 pages, $26).

Fiona Barton follows up her smashing debut as a mystery writer with another propulsive read that gave me the shivers. Barton had a long career as a journalist in the U.K. and her background gives her some advantages when it comes to portraying how reporters really practice their craft.

Kate Waters, the reporter featured in Barton’s first novel, “The Widow,” returns. As the story opens the skeleton of an infant has been unearthed at a building site. Waters investigates. Barton treats her readers to some tricky twists before we finally learn who that baby was and the dark secrets that caused this innocent to suffer such a fate.

“No Middle Name - the Complete Jack Reacher Collected Short Stories” by Lee Child (Delacorte Press, 418 pages, $27).
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“No Middle Name - the Complete Jack Reacher Collected Short Stories” by Lee Child (Delacorte Press, 418 pages, $27).

“No Middle Name — the Complete Jack Reacher Collected Short Stories” by Lee Child (Delacorte Press, 418 pages, $27).

Lee Child’s series of novels featuring Jack Reacher attracts millions of readers. This collection of short stories is a treat for those “Reacher creatures” who cannot get enough of their hero. These tightly wound tales are like the literary equivalent of a basket of live grenades.

A number of these stories are prequels in which we meet Reacher’s younger selves. One takes place on the night of July 13, 1977. Reacher is in New York City when the power fails in a notorious blackout. In another one it is 1974 and the teen-aged Reacher is living with his family on the island of Guam.

“Berlin Red” by Sam Eastland (Opus, 367 pages, $28.95)
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“Berlin Red” by Sam Eastland (Opus, 367 pages, $28.95)

“Berlin Red” by Sam Eastland (Opus, 367 pages, $28.95)

The final novel in the Inspector Pekkala series is bittersweet.

Pekkala is a Finn-in the early books he was the trusted agent of the last Russian czar. As the series progressed it was thought that Pekkala was probably dead. He had been banished to the wilds of Siberia.

He returns and serves as the Soviet dictator Stalin’s #1 secret agent.

It is now 1945-the Nazis are making one last desperate effort to turn the tide of war as the Red Army surges toward Berlin. Pekkala halts the Germans and reunites with a long lost love.

>> Is this the next breakout Swedish crime trilogy?

“Wolf on a String” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, 306 pages, $28).”Wolf on a String” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, 306 pages, $28).
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“Wolf on a String” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, 306 pages, $28).”Wolf on a String” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, 306 pages, $28).

“Wolf on a String” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, 306 pages, $28).

The eminent novelist John Banville writes crime novels under the name of Benjamin Black. The latest one is set in Prague in 1599. An alchemist named Christian Stern arrives in town and rather inconveniently discovers a woman lying dead in the snow.

This fellow becomes immersed in the court intrigues of the Holy Roman Empire and the completely wacky Emperor Rudolf II. Christian has an affair with Rudolf’s mistress. There are schemers, plotters, secret passages and a killer lurking nearby.

>> Munching through a fresh pouch of crime novels

“The Thirst” by Jo Nesbo (Knopf, 462 pages, $26.95)
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“The Thirst” by Jo Nesbo (Knopf, 462 pages, $26.95)

“The Thirst” by Jo Nesbo (Knopf, 462 pages, $26.95)

If you prefer your mysteries to be the cozy kind you’ll want to steer clear of this one. Jo Nesbo’s relentless Oslo detective Harry Hole is living a quiet family life when a psychotic killer commits a grisly murder that Harry simply cannot ignore.

A woman was killed by someone wearing a set of metal teeth. It becomes obvious that potential victims are being located through the Tinder dating application. It has now been 20 years since Nesbo published “The Bat,” his first Harry Hole thriller.

>> The return of the mysterious Inspector Pekkala