While working at a small town video store during the twilight of VHS, several customers complain to Jeremy, the clerk, that tapes have been tampered with: spliced with disturbing material. Jeremy, whose life has stalled out since his mother’s death, recognizes the location of the videos- the edge of town- and goes off to investigate. Universal Harvester is a disturbing, fascinating, sometimes soaring meditation on loss and how loss is experienced and documented by those left behind.
There are many candidates for The Trespasser (Viking, $27) in Tana French’s sixth Dublin Murder Squad mystery. The eponymous figure could be the murderer, committing a violent crime while leaving no evidence or indication of motive. It could be Detective Antoinette Conway herself, female and olive-skinned, working in the all-male, all-white Irish police squad. It could be an infiltrator feeding the investigators fake leads to deter them from finding the truth. The trespasser might even be Detective Conway’s realization that she has more in common with the blond-haired, Barbie doll-like victim than she is comfortable admitting. Not just a great detective story, French’s novel is a study in how the past superimposes itself on the present, and how memory steers personal perceptions and motives whether the actors are aware of it or not.
It’s 1945, and though World War II is still under way, Cenzo Vianello has put away his life as a soldier and is now a small town fisherman living a small life. One day he finds a woman in the water; by some miracle she’s still alive, and he pulls her to safety. Guilia, The Girl From Venice (Simon & Schuster, $27), in Martin Cruz Smith’s fifteenth novel, is wanted by the Wehrmacht SS. As Cenzo assumes the role of her protector, his life becomes as suspenseful as the momentous final days of the war itself. In trying to save this one life, Cenzo finds himself suddenly engaged in a world he’s tried to steer clear of, one rife with Nazi sympathizers, Partisans, forgers, killers, actors, and spies. It also brings him back into contact with his despised brother Giorgio, now a tool of Mussolini’s propaganda machine. If the Wehrmacht and the tides have brought Cenzo and Guilia together, perhaps love and family can keep them from being captured and killed before peace is declared.