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September 16 2017
Mid-September and summer has finally decided to make an appearance in my neighbourhood. Very welcome, I'm sure, if a little tardy. Also welcome is the flood of Fall crime headed in our direction and here's a selection of what we've been reading.
Barbara Fister has nothing but praise for BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD, by Attica Locke which she says is "the first in a compelling new series that doesn't shy away from confronting the complexities of racism and its corrosive effect on policing, justice, and the American way." Phyllis Onstad also enjoyed Karin Slaughter's THE GOOD DAUGHTER, though she felt that the serious nature of its themes was somewhat undercut by the breeziness of its language. There's nothing breezy about Nathan Englander's DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, dealing as it does with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli black ops. Anne Corey says this is a gripping novel but one that might have tried to take on more than could be satisfactorily handled in a thriller.
Veteran Michael Connelly is back, but with the debut of a new series, THE LATE SHOW, in which a new detective steps up as Bosch retires. Jim Napier was delighted. J.T. Ellison also goes off in a new direction in LIE TO ME, a stand-alone foray into domestic noir. Diana Borse very much approves.
Kwei Quartey is content to follow his Ghanaian detective, Darko Dawson, for a fifth time in DEATH BY HIS GRACE, and Susan Hoover is pleased that he has and is looking forward to the sixth.
Irish writer Liz Nugent's UNRAVELING OLIVER is a debut that turns the tables on the current vogue for the unreliable narrator. She provides seven narrators, all thoroughly reliable, and one shifty object of their interest. I liked it very much. WHITE BODIES is also a fiction debut, this by Jane Robins, the author of several non-fictional accounts of historic crime. Meredith Frazier says that this is both an intriguing and disturbing novel about domestic violence.
MURDER ON PEA PIKE is the first in a new series by Jean Harrington. Cathy Downs enjoyed it for what it essentially is, a reality-based depiction, if somewhat caustic in tone, of life in a small American town, in this case, Eureka Falls, Arkansas.
Elizabeth Peters died a number of years ago (although you'd never know it from her Amazon page) but she did leave behind some unfinished MSS of which THE PAINTED QUEEN is one. Joan Hess has undertaken to finish off this final Amelia Peabody adventure and PJ Coldren says she succeeds very well at the task.
Sherlock Holmes is back as icon if not as character in a couple of entries in the ever-enlarging list of Baker Street spin-offs. FURTHER ASSOCIATES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is a collection of short stories narrated by minor figures from the Holmes canon and edited by George Mann. Rebecca Nesvet says that Sherlockians will not want to miss this, of course, but the general reader will find the stories "compelling, fast-paced, and a great introduction to the world of Baker Street." Vicki Delany brings Baker Street to Massachusetts in the second in her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, BODY ON BAKER STREET. Rebecca enjoyed it for its witty insights into how modern readers see the great detective as well as for its experiments in gender reversal.
Nancy Boyarsky brings back Nicole Graves, the protagonist of her previous THE SWAP, in THE BEQUEST, but Lourdes Venard observes that the lawyer seems to have undergone something of a sea-change in her move from London to LA. Although she's become somewhat unlikeable, she's still at the centre of a good story.
Two stories with major animal characters conclude this week's list and they are as different as, well, cats and dogs. Margaret Mizushima's HUNTING HOUR is the third in the series starring Mattie Cobb and her search dog Cobo and it is, says Sharon Mensing, a dark book on the whole, relieved by Cobo's devotion to his task and his fondness for chasing a ball when off duty. Eddie the cat and bookmobile mascot in WRONG SIDE OF THE PAW, by Laurie Cass, starts things off by finding a body and helps where he can thereafter. PJ Coldren reports that this has all the qualities of an excellent cosy and she found it thoroughly enjoyable.
D.A. Mishani is our guest in the Sixty Seconds With...feature to your left. See what this Israeli novelist and crime fiction scholar has to say in response to our less than searching questions.
Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW have much to say about what's being published in the UK, not all of it by British writers.
We'll be back at the end of the month with more reports on fictional crime and related topics. Please come back to see. And do get in touch if you have something you'd like to say - we'd love to hear it.
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