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SEVENTH SERIES: FIVE March, 2008
Well, the daffodils are bravely up
and some are about to bloom. Easter has arrived early, March
has a week to go. Could this possibly mean that we will experience
springtime? Let's just wait and see. That seems to be the only
way to deal with the weather. Don't make any early gardening
plans, stick with your books. Unlike the weatherman, I can guarantee
some of the best books of the year in this second quarter newsletter.
Our veteran authors have done us proud, buoyed up by a superb
bunch of newcomers, and add those translations from overseas pouring
in by the dozens. Make yourself a promise to give a new (to you)
author a try. You may be in for a pleasant surprise. Here's our
tempting lineup. Get your pencils ready and make your selections.
We begin, once again. with the best sellers: THE WHOLE TRUTH, David Baldacci, WINTER STUDY, Nevada Barr, THE FINAL WARNING: A MAXIMUM RIDE NOVEL, James Patterson, also SAIL with Howard Roughan, HOLD TIGHT, Harlan Coben, SANTE FE DEAD, Stuart Woods, CARELESS IN RED, Elizabeth George, THE FRONT, Patricia Cornwell, PHANTOM PREY, John Sanford, UNTITLED Robert Crais, THE BROKEN WINDOW, Jeffery Deaver, THE SPIES OF WARSAW, Alan Furst, and FEARLESS FOURTEEN, Janet Evanovich.
American men, besides dominating the best seller list, have produced a bumper crop. Interesting stand-alones include THE GENIUS (Jesse Kellerman), DELUSION (Peter Abrahams), THE DAWN PATROL (Don Winslow), SEVERANCE PACKAGE (Duane Swierczynski), MASTER OF THE DELTA, (Thomas Cook), THE FINDER (Colin Harrison), THE FORGING OF VENUS, (Michael Gruber), THE EVIL MEN DO, (Dave White), THE MURDER ROOM (Michael Capuzzo), EIGHT IN A BOX (Raffi Yessayan), THE LAZARUS PROJECT (Alexsandar Hemon), and COLLISION, (Jeff Abbott). Some of our favorite characters return in these continuing series: DIRTY MONEY (Richard Stark), THE SUDOKU PUZZLE MURDERS (Parnell Hall), THE ANCIENT RAIN (Domenic Stansberry), SHADOW POWER, Steve Martini, out west with ANOTHER MAN'S MOCCASINS, (Craig Johnson), FRAMES, a Valentino mystery (Loren Estleman), MADMAN ON A DRUM, (David Housewright), and Joe Picket is back in BLOOD TRAIL, (C J Box). Bleak House, a new imprint that has cornered two Edgar nominations, contributes EMPTY EVER AFTER, featuring Moe Prager, (Edgar Nominee author Reed Farrel Coleman), YELLOW MEDICINE (Anthony Neil Smith), and OBSSESSIONS (Marshall Cook).
New British authors proposed for your discovery are Paul Charles with the debut of Insp Starrett in THE DUST TO DEATH; Lucie Whitehouse delves into the psychological with THE HOUSE AT MIDNIGHT; and Shirley Wells gives a look at A DARKER SIDE. Two reads not to be missed are NOT IN THE FLESH, an Insp Wexford by Ruth Rendell and THE LIKENESS by Tana French, author of IN THE WOODS, Edgar nominee for best first novel. The new Peter Lovesey is entitled THE HEADHUNTERS, an Insp Mallin. Stephen Booth pens SCARED TO LIVE. Following his successful debut SPY BY NATURE, Charles Cummings competes with THE SPANISH GAME. Sebastian Faulks takes over for Ian Fleming to keep the James Bond series going with DEVIL MAY CARE. THE WALKING DEAD by Gerald Seymour rounds off the group.
Africa is becoming a favored setting for mystery and intrigue these days. Alexander McCall Smith continues his #1 Ladies Detective Series, THE MIRACLE OF SPEEDY MOTORS; Botswana is also the setting for Det Kuber's debut in Stanley Michaels's A CARRION DEATH; and Deon Meyer's South African novel, DEVIL'S PEAK will vie for top honors. Europe continues to attract us. We all have been waiting for the next case of our favorite Itallian commissario or Scandinavian inspector. Magdelen Nabb (VITA NUEVA), Donna Leon (THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS), and Grace Brophy (A DEADLY PARADISE) have accommodated us. Unfortunately, Michael Dibdin passed away last year, but David Hewson attempts to fill the void with GARDEN OF EVIL, a Det Nic Costa. From that colder venue comes THE DEMON OF DAKAR by Hjell Eriksson, THE GLASS DEVIL by Helene Tursten, and MIND'S EYE by Hakan Nesser. More about the ZOO STATION Br reporter caught in 1940s Berlin in SILESIAN STATION (David Downing). Tinti Hannah of Yugoslavia adds THE GOOD THIEF. David Benioff relies on his own family's tales of Russia to create the promising CITY OF THIEVES. Japan sends us eastern style crime by Kenzo Kitakata (ASHES) and Koji Suzuki (PROMENADE OF THE GODS). Barrie Sherwood enters the eastern scene with a Japanese setting ESCAPE FROM AMSTERDAM (does not refer to the Dutch city).
The American women bring up the rear gracefully. We hope you find the next installment of your choice of series in this impressive list: DEATH WALKED IN, book store owner Annie Darling (Carolyn Hart), DEGREES OF SEPARATION, Jessie Arnold (Sue Henry), CHEATING SOLITAIRE, Gregor Demarkian (Jane Haddam), NIGHTSHADE, China Bayles (Susan Wittig Albert), GOODBYE MS CHIPS, Ellie Haskell (Dorothy Cannell), CARROT CAKE MURDERS Hannah Swensen (Joanne Fluke), I SHALL NOT WANT, Clare Fergusson/Russ van Alstyne (Julia Spencer-Fleming), CLUBBED TO DEATH, Helen Hawthorne (Elaine Viets), MUMMY DEAREST, Claire Malloy (Joan Hess), and SHIMURA TROUBLE, Shimura Rei (Sujata Massey). For an exciting plot check out: BLACK OUT (Lisa Unger), EASY INNOCENCE, a Bleak House offering (Libby Hellmann), NOTORIOUS (Michelle Martinez), THE CRYSTAL SKULL (Manda Scott), and WIT'S END (Karen Joy Fowler, author of the best selling JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB). Finally, don't miss Julie Compton's debut TELL NO LIES. It has a St Louis setting.
Thompson, Victoria MURDER ON BANK ST Sara Brandt gaslight mys
Reed, M & Mayer, E 7 FOR A SECRET John the Eunuch anc Rome
Gregorio, Michael DAYS OF ATONEMENT Hanno Stiffeniis Napoleonic Wars
Myers, Beverle G THE IRON TONGUE castrato Tito Amato 18th cent Venice
Dietrich, William THE ROSETTA KEY Ethan Gage Napoleonic Age
Furst, Alan THE SPIES OF WARSAW 1937 Warsaw
Gordon, Alan THE MONEYLENDER Theophilos the Fool 1264 Toulouse
Saylor, Steven THE TRIUMPH OF CAESAR Gordianus the Finder anc Rome
Granger, Ann A MORTAL CURIOSITY Tessie Martin 1864 England
Ryu, Keiichiro THE BLADE OF THE Samuri Matsunaga Med Japan
Morris, R N A VENGEFUL LONGING Porfiry Petrovich St Petersburg
(CRIME AND PUNISHMENT) 1860s
Smith, Tom Rob CHILD 44 Russia under Stalin
Gooden, Philip THE SALISBURY lawyer Tom Ansell Salisbury 1873
Paster, Ben THE FIRE WAKER Aelius Spartianius anc Rome
DEVIL'S PEAK by Deon Meyer. Former mercenary Thobela (Tiny) Mpayiphele has retired to a peaceful life, but when his 8-year-old son, his pride and joy, is shot dead at a gas station robbery, old professional ways are awakened and he takes the law into his own hands. Insp Benny Gressel, whose been struggling with alcoholism, is assigned the case. An unlikely ally for Gressel, Christine van Rooyen, a young prostitute, enters the investigation when her daughter goes missing. Complex, finely wrought characters, keen psychological insight and a compelling plot make this South African author Meyer's best work and a top crime novel of '08.
FRESH KILLS by Reggie Nadelson. Artie Cohen, the soulful Russian-born cop, keeps a loft in Red Hook (title of an earlier A Cohen mystery) and maintains extensive Old World connections in Brighton Beach. This savvy blue collar crime story concerns the murder of a little girl and Artie's 14-year-old nephew, on leave from the Florida reform school where he was sent for killing a man.
SEVERANCE PACKAGE by Duane Swiercynski. Swiercynski, after WHEELMAN and THE BLONDE, has taken the gloves off and let the blood fly where it may in the fight for survival of co-workers at Murphy, Knox & Associates. It's action packed, as techniques of the CIA, Special Forces, etc, fill these pages and the employees go down one by one to their deaths. Next for Mr C is a book starring Batman, sending him out of the realm of Big Sleep Books and into the world of comic books.
CRIMINAL PARADISE by Steven M Thomas. Robby Rivers is a likeable career criminal who makes his way as a burglar somewhat of Dortmunder quality. His loyalty to an old biker friend who's down on his luck, and short on character, could prove Robby's downfall in the seemingly perfect life he has carefully etched out for himself. An easy read, smooth debut, ending needs some work.
THE CHAMELEON'S SHADOW by Minette Walters. 26-year-old Lt Charles Acland becomes gravely injured from a terrorist bombing of his armored vehicle while stationed in Iraq. Upon returning to London life, after weeks of healing and rehab, he must deal with a tragically disfigured face, loss of an eye, and the torments of anger, grief, and guilt. This terribly vulnerable man is then beset by the police when he comes under suspicion as a serial killer. Once again M Walters spins an intricate tale featuring a war of our times character study.
A PALE HORSE, by Charles Todd. In the ruins of Yorkshire's Fountains Abbey lies the body of a man wrapped in a cloak, the face covered with a gas mask. Next to him is a book on alchemy, which belongs to the schoolmaster, a conscientious objector in the Great War. Rutledge is on hand having been sent by the War Office to check on one of their own whose war work was top secret and has gone missing. Todd never disappoints with his haunting historical whodunits.
WINTER IN MADRID by C J Sansom. C J Sansom, best known for his M Shardlake series set in Tudor England, springs forward 400 years to 1940 Spain, the beginning of the rule of Franco, after a disastrous civil war. Harry Brett, ex- public school boy and survivor of Dunkirk, is dispatched to Madrid ostensibly as a translator, but in fact to spy on a former schoolmate, Sandy Forsyth. Sandy is involved in a shady gold field development scheme that could tip the Franco regime's entrance into the war on the side of their old allies, the Nazis. This novel, while creating a masterful picture of post-Civil War Spain, is more about England as Sansom, through the eyes of Harry, exposes the ambiguities and treacheries of the past.
TURNAROUND by George Pelecanos. A 1972 teenage racial prank stirs a reaction that alters the lives of six youths. Years later, this incident still haunts the surviving men, now adults. Pelecanos takes us deep inside their lives, and two of them, will journey down the path of reconciliation. As always, a novel charged with delicate human insight and excellent sense of timing.
IN THE WOODS by Tana Woods. Summer 1984, 3 children enter the woods and do not return. The police are called and find one child Rob Ryan, wearing blood-filled sneakers, unable to recall what has happened. 20 years later, this same Rob Ryan, now a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad, and his partner and friend, Cassie Maddox, must investigate a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Nominated for this year's Edgar for best first novel, IN THE WOODS gets my vote.
THE CHINAMAN by Friedrich Glauser. Originally published in Germany in 1938, THE CHINAMAN is a European classic from the Sergeant Studer series. Sgt Studer's case unfolds in a country inn, a poor house and a horticultural college in Pfrundisberg, a Swiss village. Two murders take place, one by arsenic poisoning, the other by pistol. A true whodunit! This delightful crime story is reminiscent of Georges Simenon's Maigrets and will entertain readers who enjoy stepping back in time.
T Jefferson Parker, L A OUTLAWS.
"Allison Murrieta," descendant of territorial California's
greatest outlaw, Joaquin Murrieta, is a presentday fast food holdup
outlaw in L A. When she decides to bring it up a notch, she snatches
a half million dollars of diamonds from a bloodbath between Asian
and Salvadoran gangs. One consequence: a machete-wielding Salvadoran
killer tracking her.
James Sallis, SALT RIVER. Sallis has moved on from the Lew Griffin New Orleans series to the life of a small town in Mississippi with his principal character, a sheriff named Turner under increasing personal and professional pressure (in the last Turner book, his lover and muse was murdered). Turner's absent friends and family-and their problems-also come to visit. Sallis certainly is the mystery writer with the most existential angst. Not to be missed.
Robert J Randisi, LUCK BE A LADY, DON'T DIE. This is the 2nd of the Rat Pack Las Vegas series, and benefits from the pitch perfect ear the author has for how we remember the five sounded. Sinatra and Martin are the key figures, and Frank may have a problem with another shared girlfriend with Sam Giancana. These books also provide a very believable 1960's Las Vegas environment-cops who don't quite "get it," casino bosses ready to do their worst, lots of chorus girls.
Robert B Parker, STRANGER IN PARADISE. TROUBLE IN PARADISE, early in the series, was about a team of bandits who took over Stiles Island, a rich part of the Marblehead-like community. The team was much like the Spenser characters, courtesy of Bizzaroland, and unsurprisingly in the earlier book, Cromartie, a Hawk-like Apache, escaped after freeing women hostages. Now, he's back, on contract to find someone in Paradise. Also, bigoted residents are trying to exclude a low-income Hispanic preschool.
Kathryn Miller Haines, THE WAR AGAINST MISS WINTER. This is a clever and witty World War II mystery written by a Pittsburgh theater director: Rosie Winter, actress-and detective-is the understudy for a prefeminist off-Broadway wartime play posed to startle NYC civilians with universalist images of the travails of women in war. Also to be set up: the rest of the theater community, and organized crime.
David Baldacci, STONE COLD. This is the 3rd Camel Club episode, and is the best of the bunch-consistently exciting and action-packed. Baldacci has staged three conflicts for us: an assassin picking off a series of CIA types, the Camel Club's Oliver Stone vs some old colleague, and his conwoman friend vs that Atlantic City casino boss she ripped off in THE COLLECTORS.
Richard North Patterson, THE RACE. Patterson's writing here about a Republican presidential nomination race, featuring a McCain-like hero senator running against the senate majority leader in the hands of a Murdoch and Rove combination. There's a South Carolina primary full of 2000-like dirty tricks, and a big convention finale; mostly, Patterson's interested in the role of fundamentalist clergy in presidential politics and how they might affect those most vulnerable to its emergence, gay Americans.
April Smith, JUDAS HORSE. Ana Grey, not your everyday interracial FBI agent, goes to UC school in preparation for infiltrating the ecological/animal rights movement. It also is from Ana's perspective that we examine the last 40 years of the operation of the FBI. Smith's first three series entries all contained powerful wallops; JUDAS HORSE is a jawbreaker.
Joel N Ross, WHITE FLAG DOWN. This is Ross's 2nd World War II espionage thriller, this time based in wartime Switzerland, all about the "neutral" Swiss. An American aviator's shot down after seeing a German jet prototype, but the principal secret at stake is a possible Russian-German cease-fire and renewal of the nonaggression pact. Ross is best at juggling multiple fast-paced spy missions, this time in scenic Switzerland.
Carlo Lucarelli, CARTE BLANCHE. This is the first of the reprinted 1980s trilogy translated for us now, and it's terrific. Taking place in the last year of World War II in Italy, Lucarelli's writing about the conflict between the different political and criminal police forces, as they desperately tried to reposition themselves as Mussolini and the fascists were falling. Mixed into the stew were some murders and morphine black market sales.
Alan Furst, THE SPIES OF WARSAW. Furst returns to 1937-1938, this time in Warsaw. His hero is Mercier, the French military attache, and, while Furst is too precise in the detail of his narrative to be charged with being sentimental, readers certainly come to care about this DeGaulle-like critic of Petain and the general staff. Like Furst's POLISH OFFICER, SPIES achives an elegant version of "heartbreaking."
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Ed and I wish to thank you once again for your continued support. Pay us a visit during this upcoming nice weather, I am manning the store on the weekdays, as usual, Ed, on the weekends.
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