Smokey the Cat
Peter Blauner

Sixty seconds with Peter Blauner...

PETER BLAUNER is an Edgar-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Slow Motion Riot and The Intruder. He spent the 1980s covering crime, politics and other forms of socially-abhorrent behavior for New York magazine. For the past decade he has been working in television, writing for several shows in the Law & Order franchise and the CBS show Blue Bloods. He was born and raised in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife. His most recent novel is PROVING GROUND, which came out last month.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Blauner: How about three words? Hot. Old. Jew.

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

Blauner: The Velvet Underground Live 1969. I listened to it the first time I was away from home for a long time. It begins with Lou Reed talking to a Texas audience about watching the Cowboys on tv and how you should always give other people a chance, if only in football. Something about hearing his friendly but wary New York accent always makes me feel located and centered, no matter where I am.

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

Blauner: A cop. Now I often write about cops. Which shows progress, but not much.

Pam Wechsler

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Paul Levine

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June 10, 2017

It's summer, more or less, and time to wrench ourselves away from Senate hearings, press conferences, and elections and settle down to some serious (or unserious) reading. You might be tempted by some of what we've been reading lately.

Laurie R. King's been hanging out with Russell and Holmes for a while, but now she's come up with a stand-alone in LOCKDOWN, which Barbara Fister terms "a Spoon River Anthology for the era of school shootings." All right, it's not exactly escape reading, but it's absorbing all the same. Another veteran, Anthony Horowitz, has produced a mystery within a mystery in MAGPIE MURDERS, which Rebecca Nesvet says will delight both the recreational reader and the reader who wants to know why we love mysteries as we do.

Even though I was disappointed in Colin Harrison's YOU BELONG TO ME, his first thriller in nine years, I still have to admit that I found it hard to put down thanks to his eloquent evocations of New York City. Steve Hamilton's EXIT STRATEGY is set in Chicago, and PJ Coldren reports that he combines a well-plotted and suspenseful novel with descriptions of the Second City that speak of his deep knowledge of the place.

I know I said something about kicking back and taking a break, but good books won't let us off the hook so easily. Scott Turow's TESTIMONY takes us back to Bosnia to investigate a possible war crime against Roma twenty years ago. Barbara Fister has some reservations, but on the whole she concludes that this is worth the trip. And as they so frequently do, two Norse thrillers will not ignore the larger political implications of the crimes they explore. Anne Holt's ninth entry in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series (and the next-to-last) has her wheelchair-bound protagonist doing her best to prevent a terrorist attack in Oslo. Susan Hoover maintains that Holt is unsurpassable as a crime novelist. The politics in Anders de la Motte's ULTIMATUM are more generalized, but people in the highest realms of Swedish government are implicated in a crime. Anne Corey thought that there was perhaps a bit too much going on here, but recommends staying with it until the startling conclusion.

Moving back to the familiar, though always fascinating, landscape of Arizona, Sharon Mensing says that Anne Hillerman's SONG OF THE LION has some structural flaws, but that Hillerman continues on her father's path in her evocative representations of the land and culture of the Southwest.

Back across the Atlantic once again, we have Peter James' latest Roy Grace police procedural, NEED YOU DEAD. Jim Napier says that "readers in search of believable characters caught up in life-changing events not of their own making cannot do better." Jim, incidentally, has just produced his first novel, LEGACY, which discerning readers might want to search out. Some of you might be familiar with the Grantchester Mysteries, thanks to television. SIDNEY CHAMBERS AND THE PERSISTENCE OF LOVE, by James Runcie is the sixth entry in the series on which the TV plays are based. This is actually a group of short stories set in the 1970s and featuring various characters from the novels. Anne Corey says unabashedly that she loved this book.

We can't read everything, of course, and sometimes (too often) a terrific book slides right past us. So it was with Celeste Ng's EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, a debut that Sharon Mensing missed in 2014. But Ng's second book will appear in a few months and as a result Sharon read the first and found this exploration of the death of a beloved daughter complex and compelling.

All right, all right, how about a little outright escape? It's summer after all. Leonard Goldberg mines the current passion for Sherlock reanimations in THE DAUGHTER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, which imagines an investigation undertaken by the daughter of, well you know who, and Dr Watson's son. Rebecca Nesvet was unimpressed. Renee Patrick brings costume designer Edith Head and starlet Lillian Frost to Hollywood, 1938, in DANGEROUS TO KNOW. Susan Hoover says that this is fun all around whether or not you're into vintage Hollywood. And the sharp-tongued daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, Alice, is the Alice in ALICE AND THE ASSASSIN, by RJ Koreto. Lourdes says that this light-hearted mystery also provides a gripping look at New York in the opening years of the 20th century. PJ Coldren observes that the fifth in the Merry Folger series, DEATH ON NANTUCKET provides not only a good mystery, but insight into the effect hordes of tourists have on any spot that is periodically invaded by those from away.

Our guest this week in the "Sixty Seconds With..." spot is Peter Blauner. Take a look, why don't you?

Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW concern themselves with crime fiction published in the UK and are certainly worth a visit.

It is with great sorrow that we have to note the passing of Christine Zibas, who reviewed in these pages for many years. Readers will recall that she particularly enjoyed books with either a political or an art theme. When both combined, she was enchanted. She will be deeply missed.

We'll be back in time for Canada Day (July 1) with the usual complement of reviews and an interview. Please drop by if you can.



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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For this reason and in view of a recent article in the NY Times detailing a reviews-for-hire enterprise, it's probably wise for RTE to reiterate its position on reviewing. While our reviewers receive galleys, ARCs, or finished copies of books for review, they are otherwise unpaid. Furthermore, they are asked to disclose any special interest they might have in a book or an author they are reviewing. No one, including the editors, receives any compensation for the work they do. All our reviewers are encouraged to express their honest opinions, whether positive or negative, about the books they are reviewing. None of our reviewers uses a pseudonym and all are who they say they are. Nor do we employ rating systems (stars, grades, "highly recommended," or the like) in the belief that our reviews deserve to be read in their entirety. Since RTE does not review self-published or digital-only releases, we are perhaps less vulnerable to offers to pay for reviews, but it seems a good idea to make our policy clear. Finally, in the years that I've been editing RTE, I have never once been approached by a press or a publicist to violate this principle in any way.

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