Smokey the Cat
Steven Axelrod

Sixty seconds with Steven Axelrod...

Steven Axelrod holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and remains a member of the WGA despite a long absence from Hollywood. His work has been featured on various websites, including the literary e-zine Numéro Cinq, where he is on the masthead;; and The Good Men Project; as well as the magazines Pulp Modern and Big Pulp. A father of two, he lives on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, where he paints houses and writes.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Axelrod: I’m a silly passionate clumsy hard-working optimist who loves dogs and hates bullies

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Axelrod: Paul Simon’s Graceland

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Axelrod: A writer. Wrote my first story at age eight. Hopefully, I’ve improved since then

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October 27 2018

One of the pleasures of reading crime fiction is looking forward to the latest volume from a favourite author. Often this is an annual event, another book adding to a lengthy series. Sometimes it is a less predictable affair. This week, we have some of both.

It is not quite accurate to call Kate Atkinson a crime novelist, though her Jackson Brodie series certainly qualifies. Her last two novels fit into no genre, though "historical" would be descriptive. Her latest, TRANSCRIPTION, is both historical and involves MI5 and domestic spying. It is also stunning.

Rebus is growing older (as who isn't?) But though retired, he still is useful in dealing with crimes with deep roots as he does in Ian Rankin's latest, IN A HOUSE OF LIES. Jim Napier calls it "impeccably crafted and darkly ironic." DESOLATION MOUNTAIN marks William Kent Krueger's seventeenth outing for Cork O'Connor. Sharon Mensing reports that even so it can be read on its own with pleasure and that she was left hungering for the arrival of number eighteen. Joe Ide has been writing for far less time than these two but Susan Hoover, has been following his protagonist Isaiah Quintabe (IQ), the Sherlock Holmes of East LA, from day one. She enjoyed the latest, WRECKED, enormously and looks forward to number four.

It's not quite Halloween and fewer ghosts and ghouls have shown up at RTE this year than usual. But there is some spookiness around. Edinburgh, for example in Doug Johnstone's FAULT LINES is trembling from a rash of earthquakes following a volcanic eruption in the Firth of Forth that produced a new island now the scene of a murder. Anne Corey says that there is an awful lot more going on as well, but all is resolved in an explosive ending. There's a off-stage volcanic eruption in Ragnar Jóhansson's BLACKOUT, but the northern part of Iceland, where the action takes place, is not affected. Instead it provides the scene for what I thought was a steady, serious, affecting police procedural, part of the Dark Iceland series. MERCY'S CHASE, by Jess Lourey, brings together Stonehenge and cryptanalysis in a thriller that Lourdes Venard enjoyed both for the narrative and for the chance to armchair travel to parts of the UK that she has not seen in a while.

Back in the USA, yet one more volcano plays a part, this time a baking soda one deployed as a prank in the Young Adult ELEVEN MILES TO OSHKOSH, by Jim Guhl. Cathy Downs found it a charming return to an earlier, perhaps more innocent day, set as it is in 1972. But there is murder, nonetheless. Going back a further twenty years is Ann Aptaker's FLESH AND GOLD, set in pre-Castro Havana and featuring an unapologetically out lesbian detective. Meg Westley found it a quick and engaging read, if somewhat busy when it comes to plot.

Ruth Castelberry was quite impressed with Allison Brennan's mystery ABANDONED, the fifth in her Max Revere series. Although she was unfamiliar with the series, Ruth said she had no trouble reading this "complex and well-conceived story" as a stand-alone and plans to read the earlier entries soon.

It is actually Halloween in Auralee Wallace's HAUNTED HAYRIDE WITH MURDER, set in New Hampshire and replete with an Apple Witch, fall foliage, and murder. PJ Coldren had some reservations when it came to the resolution, but on the whole enjoyed the ride. FOOL'S MOON, by Diane A.S. Stuckart, has talking fish and animals and a Tarot card reader. Meredith Frazier found this first in a new series surprisingly delightful. A LADY'S GUIDE TO ETIQUETTE AND MURDER, by Dianne Freeman, an historical cosy, is set in London in 1899 and is also the first in a series. PJ Coldren says that fans of Georgette Heyer will enjoy this one as well and PJ confesses that she certainly didn't see the ultimate reveal coming. Meg Westley admits that cosies are not her preferred fare but says that Carolyn Haines' Christmas-themed A GIFT OF BONES has its endearing moments and the final resolution is well-handled.

Speaking of Christmas and other looming gift-giving holidays, I thought Leslie S. Klinger's monumental CLASSIC AMERICAN CRIME FICTION OF THE 1920s would make a splendid, if weighty, present.

Our guest this week in the Sixty Seconds with... spot is Steve Axelrod and you can read about him in the box over to the left.

CRIMEREVIEW has a new issue out this week too and that's where you can read about what's going on in UK crime.

It has been a trying week but I hope everyone will be able to enjoy the fake mayhem and murder of Halloween as a relief from the real thing of the past week.

We'll be back toward the end of November with more books to read, enjoy, and possibly give. Do come back and join us.



P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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