The Globe and Mail: Six winter thrillers to take off the chill


House of Anansi continues to publish some of the best mysteries in the world, and Scott Thornley’s MacNeice series is one of them. The fourth installment is the best book so far and fans of the city of Hamilton will see how beautifully Thornley gilds the local lily.

The story begins with a murder scene drenched in blood. In a mansion on Hamilton Mountain, there are two dead bodies – Howard and Matthew Terry – who have both been shot twice in the chest. Under Matthew’s body is a doll with red cotton bursting out of its head. Near the bed where the bodies lie is a mannequin in a nightshirt with two bullet holes in its body. Everything is posed and points to a carefully planned ritual murder.

The police hardly have time to process the scene when another body is discovered; this one is posed against a rock outcrop at Devil’s Punch Bowl. The corpse is dressed in a nightshirt and wearing the head of a donkey. There’s an obvious connection to the Terry murder and the clues are in plain sight, if only Detective MacNeice can figure out what they mean before someone else dies. This is a really good, twisty whodunit that also has an art-world background. One of Thornley’s best.