The latest mysteries from James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Denise Mina, and John Sandford

By EW Staff
Updated September 23, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Affair
Lee Child
Fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher thrillers are in for a treat: a prequel that reveals just how Reacher got drummed out of the Army. On his final case as a military cop, he’s sent undercover to investigate a murder near a Mississippi base that’s commanded by the son of a U.S. senator. He teams up with the local sheriff, a ”seriously good looking” former Marine, and the case quickly turns sideways. It’s taut, twisty fun. A-Thom Geier

The End of the Wasp Season
Denise Mina
There’s no going wrong with a Mina mystery: Her Glasgow-based books are full of great, conflicted women characters, pitch-perfect dialogue, and serious thoughts about the past’s habit of strangling the present. Wasp Season is about a villainous banker who kills himself, and proves as much trouble dead as alive. It’s Mina’s most diverting book in years. A-Jeff Giles

Feast Day of Fools
James Lee Burke
Burke’s 30th novel — and his third to star sheriff Hackberry Holland — offers a Bosch-ian portrait of rural Texas as assorted psychopaths visit violence on the local populace and one another. Holland may never replace the novelist’s signature hero, Dave Robicheaux, in readers’ hearts, but Burke’s evocative prose remains a thing of reliably fierce wonder. B+Clark Collis

Shock Wave
John Sandford
Surfer hair, rock-band T-shirts: Virgil Flowers, the lanky prodigy of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, makes a lousy first impression. But he kinda grows on you. And by this fifth book — about a serial bomber — Sandford has perfectly honed Flowers’ affable charm. A-Tina Jordan