John A. Connell’s debut novel Ruins of War follows US Army detective Mason Collins, a former Chicago policeman, as he investigates a string of grisly murders in Munich during the winter of 1945. Collins ticks all the proper hardboiled detective boxes: he had run-ins with corrupt cops back home, he’s not very interested in altering his investigation to fit the Army’s PR needs and he’s willing to risk the lives of his colleagues and loved ones to nail the killer.
The obvious reference point here is Philip Kerr’s excellent Bernie Gunther novels about a Berlin detective’s career before, during and after World War II. Bernie hates the Nazis and Kerr effectively channels the style of L.A. noir novelists like James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler, a trick he kept up through the first few books in the series. Connell’s definitely writing an old-school detective story, but there’s a healthy dose of Silence of the Lambs-style serial-killer horror running through his book.
Connell used to work in movies as a camera operator on films like Jurassic Park before moving to Paris to become a writer. He’s announced that Spoils of Victory, his second Mason Collins novel, is scheduled for publication in February 2016, so this might be worth your time investment if you’re looking for a new mystery series.
You can read an excerpt from Ruins of War here.