Fall titles

Editor’s note: The Associated Press book reviewers take a look at some of the fall’s new titles:

‘Road to Perdition: The New, Expanded Novel’

“Road to Perdition: The New, Expanded Novel” (Brash Books), by Max Allan Collins

Readers can be forgiven if they believe there’s nothing more to be done with “Road to Perdition,” the murderous tale of a mob kingpin, his favored hit man and the lengths each was willing to go to protect his son. After all, we’ve already seen three treatments of this gritty noir story.

First there was the 1998 graphic novel written by Max Allan Collins with art by Richard Piers Rayner. Next came the 2002 Sam Mendes-directed film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. And then came Collins’ novelization of the movie.

But it turns out the publisher of the novelization chopped about 30,000 words from Collins’ text to keep it from straying from the film version.

Now Brash Books, a publishing house founded by novelists Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman, has restored the missing text and released the novel as Collins intended it.

The result is a richer and more satisfying version of the tale, one that combines the swift pace of the graphic novel with the well-developed father-son relationships of Mendes’ movie — and that includes both additional hard-boiled dialogue and more historical context for the Depression-era story set in Al Capone’s Illinois.

And Collins’ writing, always crisp and vividly visual, is at its best here in “Road to Perdition: The New, Expanded Novel.”

— Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, and the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”

‘Say No More’

“Say No More” (Forge), by Hank Phillippi Ryan

“Say No More,” Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest novel to feature intrepid Boston reporter Jane Ryland and homicide detective Jake Brogan, is another stellar mystery.

Ryland has been working on a story involving growing sexual assaults on college campuses. One of the victims is somewhat reluctant to tell her story, even though her appearance will be in shadow and her voice will be disguised. Ryland witnesses a shocking car crash. What she doesn’t realize is that writing down the license plate and seeing the driver has put her in grave danger. Meanwhile, Brogan has a murder case that involves a screenwriter discovered at the bottom of her pool.

Ryan tells a deeply moving and fast-paced story. Fans will be thrilled to learn that Ryland and Brogan are secretly engaged, while newcomers will find an amazing tale that could easily be a headline on the evening newscast.

–Jeff Ayers, Associated Press writer

‘The Twenty-Three’

“The Twenty-Three” (Berkley), by Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay ends his trilogy set in Promise Falls, New York, with “The Twenty-Three,” a slam-bang conclusion that will surprise even hard-core thriller readers with the revelations and high body count.

The stage was set with his two previous novels, “Broken Promise” and “Far From True.” This one reveals that the three books are one giant novel with elements that make each one stand apart. The best way to enjoy Barclay’s gift for storytelling is to start at the beginning and binge-read, like a page-turning version of Netflix.

In “The Twenty-Three,” a killer has been causing havoc in the small town with seemingly unrelated crimes, except that each crime has a link involving the number 23. He has prepared his most diabolical plan for May 23, and it involves contaminating the city’s water supply. The entire population is at risk, and soon the bodies begin to pile up.

The murder of a college student is foremost on the mind of Detective Barry Duckworth, who sees similarities with two other unsolved homicides. He has to use every skill set imaginable to stop a killer from murdering the entire population of Promise Falls. And since it’s a small town, it’s clear the culprit is someone he knows.

Barclay knows how to create realistic characters that feel like people who could be next-door neighbors. Readers who are new to the series should start at the beginning, but those who have read the previous two novels will be pleased to know that the payoff has been worth the wait.

–Jeff Ayers, Associated Press writer

“Secret Service Dogs: The Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States”

“Secret Service Dogs: The Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States” (Dutton), by Maria Goodavage

Even non-dog lovers will be fascinated by Maria Goodavage’s in-depth examination of the highly trained canines and their equally impressive human handlers in “Secret Service Dogs: The Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States.”

Readers are offered an unusual peek into a rarefied world of international intelligence and security and the important role these specially bred pooches play. Goodavage enjoyed unprecedented access to the government’s meticulous training camp as well as to the dogs’ human colleagues.

In lively, often lighthearted language, Goodavage describes the life cycle of the primarily Belgian Malinois, often mistaken for German shepherds. She explains how and where they’re bred, selected and trained. But most compelling: her descriptions of the agents’ relationship with their dogs. Secret Service handlers spend 24/7 with their dogs, forming a unique bond.

While the story is well-researched and unusual, the way the book is organized feels disjointed and repetitive. Perhaps quality suffered a bit in the rush to release it in time for the 2016 presidential election?

What’s clear is the winner will be protected by some of the nation’s best dogs.

–Kim Curtis, Associated Press writer

‘Moral Defense’

“Moral Defense” (Thomas & Mercer), by Marcia Clark

“Moral Defense” by former Los Angeles prosecutor Marcia Clark has it all: a hard-charging lawyer heroine, tough-as-nails cops, realistic, yet somehow lovable “bad guys,” as well as fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants pacing and page-turning twists.

Say what you will about her performance during O.J. Simpson’s 1995 criminal trial, Clark has more than proven her writing chops in her sixth novel — her second featuring Samantha Brinkman, a tough, but fair criminal defense attorney who’s always just a half-step away from bankruptcy as she strives to build her practice. Sam, along with Michelle, her childhood best-friend paralegal who manages to keep her grounded, and Alex, her sexy, gay investigator who turns on the charm at all the right times, form a likable trio.

In the first book of the series, Sam is trying to prove her mettle in the cutthroat world of criminal defense. In “Moral Defense,” she’s landed herself in the headlines when she’s brought in as an advocate for 15-year-old Cassie, who survived a brutal attack that left her father and brother dead and her mother in a coma. When the situation flips and Cassie herself becomes the target of the investigation, Sam quickly gets herself embroiled in a complicated and emotionally wrenching case that leaves her tapped out.

If one tangled story line isn’t enough, Clark weaves in two others — one featuring a gangbanger on the run and the other, her former client/father whom we first met in the previous novel. At times, it feels like overkill, but it also leaves readers wondering if juggling multiple cases at one time, if not frenetic, is also more realistic.

–Kim Curtis, Associated Press writer

‘Wrong Side of Goodbye’

“The Wrong Side of Goodbye” (Little, Brown and Co.), by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch has retired from the Los Angeles Police Department, but he still finds himself in the middle of a puzzling mystery in “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” by Michael Connelly.

Bosch has two jobs that keep him busy. In addition to working part-time as a private investigator, he volunteers as a detective for the short-staffed San Fernando police department, looking over cold cases. The condition of this arrangement is that he cannot use resources from the department to assist with his work as a private investigator.

He soon begins to juggle two urgent cases. He’s working for the police department on a case involving a serial rapist, and his private investigator skills are put to the test when elderly billionaire Whitney Vance asks him to find a possible heir. The child would have been born in 1950 when Vance was 18 and the woman he loved was 16. Vance’s father forced them apart and Vance regrets never fighting since she was the only woman he ever loved. Finding her and their child would help him make peace with himself and provide an heir for his business.

Bosch has little to go on, and as he begins his search for answers, he starts hitting roadblocks, as if someone didn’t want him to find the woman or the couple’s child. Luckily for Bosch, he has access to legal help from a relative who is quite familiar to fans of Connelly.

To say Connelly has written another masterful crime novel would not be enough praise.

–Jeff Ayers, Associated Press writer