Smokey the Cat
James Anderson

Sixty seconds with James Anderson...

James Anderson grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a graduate of Reed College, and received his MFA in creative writing from Pine Manor College. His short fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in many magazines, and he previously served as the publisher and editor-in-chief of Breitenbush Books.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Anderson: The coin with three sides

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

Anderson: The one that came attached to a record player

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

Anderson: Someone else

Charles Cumming

Sixty seconds with Charles Cumming...

Olga Wojtas

Sixty seconds with Olga Wojtas...

Search Now:
In Association with

MILLER'S MOVIE COLLECTIBLES, The Film Poster Book by Rudy and Barbara Franchi. 325 illustrations plus extensive text on all aspects of collecting movie paper, with current values, sources, history, terminology, and trends. Order one at


Home | About | Reviews | Search | Submit | Subscribe  Subscribe

April 6, 2019

We begin this week with the 28th in Donna Leon's series starring Guido Brunetti, UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN. Some might imagine that any book coming so late in a lengthy series might be a bit tired, but happily, this is far from the case. Cathy Downs reports that this is a well-crafted novel, "Venetian both in its timeless rhythm, yet modern in its concerns." And we follow with ONE FALSE MOVE, by the recent CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Robert Goddard. Jim Napier confesses he's been a fan of Goddard's for decades and is happy to report that this book is among his best work, being a "finely-nuanced and exquisitely-layered tale, with more wrinkles than an aging Shar-Pei."

Another veteran, Jacqueline Winspear, continues her account of the life and adventures of Maisie Dobbs in THE AMERICAN AGENT, which finds Maisie in London during the Blitz. Anne Corey tells us that this combination of an intriguing murder mystery with a compelling re-creation of London under attack is "one of the best in a series that has never been other than top-notch." Mariah Fredericks' DEATH OF A NEW AMERICAN is but the second in the series featuring lady's maid Jane Prescott and Lourdes Venard praises it for its rich historical detail and its attractive and independent protagonist whose position enables her to see a broad spectrum of classes in early 20th century New York City. Much earlier America is represented in A STRANGER HERE BELOW, by Charles Fergus, as it is set in 1835 in the marvellously-named Pennsylvania town of Adamant. Meredith Frazier was impressed with this "deeply disturbing but satisfyingly resolved" mystery set in a slower but no less brutal an era.

Next we head abroad, to France in Tanguay Viel's ARTICLE 353, which Jim Napier says is both one of the shortest and one of the most unusual crime fiction novels he's read in a while. It may be short, he adds, but it explores some serious issues and is skilfully translated by William Rodarmor. Sora Kim-Russell's translation of THE PLOTTERS, by Un-Su Kim also impressed Rebecca Nesvet, who says it makes clear and compelling the violence of the corporate world as well as the underworld inhabited by Kim's quasi-hit man protagonist.

Sophie Hannah returns to Culver Valley and its somewhat eccentric police force in THE NEXT TO DIE (aka THE NARROW BED). Diana Borse found the book a bit bewildering but certainly well-written.

Back to the USA, to that fertile ground for mysteries, the small town. John McMahon's THE GOOD DETECTIVE struck PJ Coldren as highly readable, but she is becoming exasperated with the cliche of the wounded detective turning to drink. Christian White is an Australian screenwriter who nevertheless sets his debut crime novel THE NOWHERE CHILD largely in the fictional Kentucky town of Manson, which boasts a flourishing congregation of snake-handlers. I thought it was technically professional but that it missed the opportunities that its dual setting of Melbourne and Manson offered. Greg Iles, on the other hand, misses little in his CEMETERY ROAD, set in Mississippi. It is, after all, 587 pages long, but, reports Susan Hoover, Iles knows how to keep the reader engaged in a long but compelling book.

We head further into the countryside with C.J. Box's WOLF PACK, which represents game warden Joe Pickett's nineteenth outing in the Wyoming back country. Here he must deal with wolf packs of both animal and human variety, and of the two, the humans are the worst. He also has to investigate a very contemporary form of wildlife abuse, the stampeding of animals via drones. Anne Corey says this is a suspense-filled work that comes to a satisfactory conclusion. Sharon Mensing read THE TALE TELLER, the continuation of Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee series by his daughter Anne. Anne has shifted emphasis to highlight female characters, though Leaphorn remains a focus of attention. Sharon reassures us that it is not necessary to have read the earlier books to enjoy this one, though of course, to have done so will enrich one's appreciation of this installment.

DEATH WAITS IN THE DARK, by Julia Buckley, is the fourth in the cosy series set in Blue Lake Indiana. This time, best-selling author and amateur detective Camilla Graham is threatened with being embarrassed by a revelation of some family secret of which she has no knowledge. Soon the source of the threat is found dead. Ruth Castleberry enjoyed this for its suspense and for the friendship between Camilla and her assistant, and of course, for the opportunity to revisit Blue Lake.

Finally, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of Smallville, about Clark Kent's early days in smalltown Kansas, have produced their debut novel, DOUBLE EXPOSURE. This is a conspiracy thriller that takes place around 1960 and deals with the possibility that Adolph Hitler survived the war. Keshena Hanson says that it is very entertaining indeed.

James Anderson is our guest in the Sixty Seconds this week. You can find out how he responds to our questions over to your left.

Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW can let you know what's been going on in the field of crime fiction on their side of the Atlantic and you should check them out.

We'll be back at the end of the month by which time spring may actually have arrived in Montreal. Please come back and find out if it has. And if you have something you'd like us to know about, do not hesitate to get in touch.



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.

Recent Reviews:

We have thousands of reviews archived on this site. Use the form below to search by title, author's name, or keyword (e.g., noir, cozy, PI, female, thriller, gay, cats).




Publishers or authors wishing to submit books for review should contact the editors. Please note, before approaching us, that the publishing house must be a print publisher, pay advances and issue royalty statements, edit books, create covers, neither solicit nor accept financial payments from its authors, never copyright an author's title under the publisher's name, and never expect or ask authors to buy a certain number of copies of the author's books. As a general rule we will only consider books for review which have been published by publishers listed on the Mystery Writers of America approved list. We can never guarantee that a review will appear. And our reviewers are given a free rein to express their opinions constructively and honestly.

Please note that we review crime fiction and selected science fiction and horror. We have a policy of not accepting any religious books—and that includes religious crime fiction. We are unable to review any ebooks, unbound galleys, PODs, or PDF files.


Since RTE first appeared, some twelve years ago, the business of books has changed out of all recognition. Then, books were reviewed in the print media for the most part, though Amazon was encouraging readers to post their reviews of the books they read. Now, newspapers across North America have reduced or eliminated the space they allot to books and, with certain notable exceptions, only best-selling authors are likely to get noticed. As a result, electronic reviewing has become increasingly important and, due to the somewhat slippery question of online authorship, occasionally problematic.

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.

Contact: Yvonne Klein (

[ Home | About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]