Smokey the Cat
Jennifer Kincheloe

Sixty seconds with Jennifer Kincheloe...

Jennifer Kincheloe is the author of THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC and THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK. THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC is the winner of the Colorado Gold Award for mystery and the Mystery and Mayhem Award for historical mystery. Formerly, Dr. Kincheloe was the principal of a health consulting firm and a member of the research faculty for the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. She currently does research on the jails in Denver, Colorado.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Kincheloe: I'm a wife, mother, writer, research scientist, canine message therapist, and spiritual pilgrim.

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

Kincheloe: I'd love a turntable and a really good recording of Bizet’s Carmen.

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

Kincheloe: I wanted to be something great, but the message girls got when I was young was that girls couldn't be great. I didn't realize I could be a research scientist or a novelist. But somehow, I found my way to two careers I love.

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January 13 2018

So here we are again, with the new year well started and more books read. As we do this time of year, we asked the reviewers to pick the review they most enjoyed writing this year (note: not the best book, or at least, not necessarily the best book). You'll find their comments and mine in the box below.
But let's get on with this year. Rebecca Nesvet was very enthusiastic about THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL, the first book in Sujata Massey's new series set in the Bombay of the 1920s and featuring a character based on the first female lawyer in that city.

James Lee Burke has written a long series about the title character of ROBICHEAUX, but until now Phyllis Onstad had never read one of them. It's an oversight she may very well repair on the basis of the present volume, which she enjoyed.

Jim Napier asks a rhetorical question about Val McDermid and her latest Hill and Jordan, INSIDIOUS INTENT, and that is simply "Does anyone do it better?" His answer is clearly no.

We have a fascinating group of thrillers to report on this week. Sam Bourne's provocatively titled TO KILL A PRESIDENT, though clearly reflecting politics in the USA, is very far from a crass attempt to cash in on scandal and gossip. Instead, I thought it was an essentially serious effort to deal with real moral issues as well as an engrossing read. Barbara Fister reports that THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, by Mick Herron, is also fuelled by current events and the role social media play in shaping the current mood in a world which has created both Brexit and President Trump. Douglas Schofield's KILLING PACE is a fast-paced and suspenseful international thriller that focusses on the crime of illegal adoption and child stealing, says Anne Corey. The crisis created by the flood of refugees entering Greece is at the centre of Jeffrey Siger's AN AEGEAN APRIL, but Caryn St Clair reminds us that it also provides a rich and detailed view of Greek culture.

Ragnar Jönasson's SNOWBLIND was a successful launch and is followed now in the United States by NIGHTBLIND. Both of these present an effective pairing of an Agatha Christie specialty, the village mystery, with Icelandic noir. That I read this with pleasure in the midst of a winter from hell is a tribute to Ragnar's spare yet eloquent prose.

Three books this week are technically historicals, though there's not a bodice ripper among them. A TREACHEROUS CURSE, by Deanna Raybourn, set in Victorian London, manages to employ one of the standard tropes of the period, the Mummy's Curse, in way that takes the curse off the cliche to reveal what the characters should really worry about, says Rebecca Nesvet. Susan Hoover observes that the 1950s Seattle setting of T.W. Emory's CRAZY RHYTHM allows the author to invent a noir PI of the old school and to endow him with the attitudes toward women characteristic of that period without having to apologize. Iona Whishaw's AN OLD, COLD GRAVE is also set immediately after World War II, this time in small-town British Columbia. Lourdes Venard says that this series, which has a strong and likeable female protagonist, should be better known than it is.

Nicola Nixon lamented the immobility of Ian Hamilton's protagonist, Ava Lee, in her last outing, but she's on the move in THE IMAM OF TAWI-TAWI, even if not wholly in control of her investigations. Nicola praises the novel for its approach to the question of terrorism and the appropriate response to its dangers.

If you feel the need for a little escape from current affairs, there are three books that might help. Diana Bourse liked A RECKONING IN THE BACK COUNTRY, by Terry Shames especially for its main character, Samuel Craddock who is, she says, is truly one of the good guys. Diana says this is a series to savour for that reason and for its accomplished handling of narrative. Or you could go even lighter, off to the Cotswolds with Agatha Raisin in THE WITCHES' TREE by M.C. Beaton. Meredith Frazier calls it "an easy, entertaining read with a plot just convoluted enough to keep interest high," and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Or perhaps a trip to Scotland and a bookstore in SCONES AND SCOUNDRELS, by Molly MacRae. PJ Coldren reports she thoroughly enjoyed this second in the Highland Bookshop Mystery series.

Our guest in the "Sixty Seconds with..." slot this week is Jennifer Kincheloe. Don't forget to read what she has to say in response to our questions.

The mystery world suffered a great loss when Sue Grafton died in the last week of December. We can only celebrate her enormous achievement over the twenty-five books of the Alphabet series and mourn the fact that we will never know what Z is for.

You'll find the latest reports on crime fiction across the sea at CRIMEREVIEW, where our friends take a good look at what's going on in crime fiction in Britain.

And there we have it. We'll be back in early February with another parcel of reviews. Please come back and see. And don't forget to drop us a line if you feel in the mood.



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).





I have two, just because I can. What I liked about reviewingMY SISTER'S BONES by Nualla Ellwood was that it gave me a chance to complain about the recent enthusiasm on the part of publishers to feature books with unreliable narrators, so that they can be compared in the blurbs to THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and their ilk. The twisty ending of MY SISTER'S BONES undermined what had been a strong debut that was fully capable of standing on its own two feet.But quite the opposite made me choose the review of POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON'T LOOK FRIENDLYby Adrian McKinty, which gave me the opportunity to express my admiration for an author and a body of work that is solid, strong, eloquent, and satisfying.


My favorite review of 2017 - it's tough, trying to choose between Kristin Lepionka's THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK (so exciting to discover a new favorite author) and Attica Locke's BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD (which came at just the right time to restore my faith in the potential of crime fiction to address social justice issues with integrity). I guess Locke gets the edge, but Lepionka is just starting out and has lots of time to catch up.


Probably THE LONG COUNT, by J.M. Gulvin was my favorite to write, because it enabled me to fact-check a lot of "Texana," from the 1960s, and that was enjoyable.


Hands down, it was the January 2017 review of A DIFFERENT CLASS by Joanne Harris. It was the most difficult book to digest for sure, taking my usual two complete readings and then a space of time and thought.What most intrigued me was the enormous effort Harris took to misdirect her readers. Situated in a long-established traditional British boys’ school in 2005, much of the development of the mystery lies in the flashbacks to life at the school in 1981. This is not an uncommon device, the juxtapositioning of the same characters in the same setting in hugely different timeframes. What sets this novel apart as a contrived tangle is that there are two narrators and both of them narrate parts of the 2005 experiences and the 1981 experiences. And, not unexpectedly, the experiences and perceptions of these two narrators vary widely.

And neither of the narrators is necessarily reliable.

But the story, mundanely set, plotted, and peopled becomes fascinating, perhaps because it is so ordinary in terms of British boys’ school mysteries – that is, ordinary until the reader recognizes the intensity of the tangling and confusion that make this an enormously challenging book to read. But oh,so satisfying finally to grasp.


It's a hard call, but I suppose my favourite review was of Ann Cleeves' THE SEAGULL.


My favorite review of 2017 was of a debut book, A KILLER IN KING’S COVE by Iona Whishaw. A Canadian author, Whishaw sets her 1940s-era stories in British Columbia, with a young, independent woman—a former British spy. It’s always exciting to discover a new talent in crime fiction. I’ve now read three in this series and am happy to report that they only keep getting better.


My favorite review was THE SATANIC MECHANIC by Sally Andrew. I was pretty convinced I wasn't going to like the book from the opening, but I was thoroughly in love with the characters, setting, and situation by the end. It was fun to be as surprised as I was, then figure out how to convey all that the novel held (without giving anything away, of course).


My favourite review of 2017 was Suzanne Gates's THE GLAMOROUS DEAD, not because the novel itself was so outstanding, but because it gave me the opportunity to reconsider what I enjoy and find tiresome about Hollywood noir. Having recently reread Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE and also debating with a friend about the relative merits of James Ellroy, I found it diverting to imagine Gates in relation to traditional noir. That her detective is precisely the sort of pretty but unmemorable, starlet figure, who would typically be the knocked off (and probably fairly early on) in the classic hardboiled novel gave a certain frisson of pleasure to both my reading and reviewing.

My favorite review to write this year was of TAKE OUT, by Margaret Maron. I've gotten so far behind in the Deborah Knott series, I don't read them anymore. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that Maron had finally written another Sigrid Harold book - always my favorite of her series. I was also delighted that she didn't (Spoiler Alert) try to bring back Oscar Naumann from the dead. He isn't gone in this book - just manifests himself in a manner that makes Sigrid a bit confused at times and still totally works within the context of what's going on in Sigrid's life. Maron is a magnificent writer, and I can't imagine that any of her numerous fans were disappointed with this book. I certainly was not. Her use of plots and sub-plots is masterful. Her characters are wonderful, even if not always pleasant. Reading such a well-written book about one of my favorite characters is always great - and then getting to tell all the readers of RTE about that totally unexpected gift from this writer . . . life doesn't get much better than that!


Mick Finley's consulting detective Arrowood is down-and-out, Southwark-based double of Sherlock Holmes who shares his London, catering to clients who exist too far outside high society to tempt Holmes. Envying Holmes and challenging his professional supremacy, Arrowood proves unusually compelling. Move over, Professor Moriarty: Holmes has a new equal and opposite.

My favourite review was of LOLA by Melissa Schrivner Love. It was noir with the women the actors and very tough. It was great to be able to say how much I enjoyed the characters who were both bad and good guys/gals. I am looking forward to Love's second in the series.

Contact: Yvonne Klein (

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