Smokey the Cat
Matthew FitzSimmons

Sixty seconds with Matthew FitzSimmons...

Matthew FitzSimmons is the author of the bestselling first novel in the Gibson Vaughn series, The Short Drop. Born in Illinois and raised in London, England, he now lives in Washington, DC, where he taught English literature and theater at a private high school for over a decade. Poisonfeather is his second novel.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

FitzSimmons: A tall man and a little kid

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

FitzSimmons: London Calling – The Clash. It’s a double album so two for the price of one; nineteen tracks and every one a cracker.

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

FitzSimmons: When I was eight, I wanted to be a brain surgeon. That lasted about five hours until I realized that the sight of blood made me queasy.

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November 19, 2016

After the ten days that we have just passed through, it's hard to say what sort of book will prove a welcome distraction or an illuminating text. Maybe some of these will do the trick or maybe not; perhaps a site devoted to apocalyptic fiction might be more relevant. But that's not what we read a lot of so we'll simply stick to what we know the best.

This is the time of year when best-selling authors release their annual series entries. This week we have Lee Child's NIGHT SCHOOL, with Jack Reacher as star. But this is Jack when young and Anne Corey approves, since moving backward in time prevents Reacher from succumbing to the ravages of age. Ian Rankin solves the problem of a superannuated Rebus in another way in RATHER BE THE DEVIL - his retired detctive has turned his attention to old cases that have gone unsolved for years. Jim Napier concludes that Rankin is still at the top of his form.

Emma Donoghue does not write series; in fact, she doesn't exactly write crime fiction, though there is often crime at the core of her plots. THE WONDER, set in Ireland in the aftermath of the Great Famine, does involve a mystery of sorts and a possible crime, but it is more about the relationship between an English nurse and her extraordinary charge, a young girl. I thought it was, well, wonderful. Martin Cruz Smith's THE GIRL FROM VENICE is also historical, set in Venice in the waning days of World War II. Anne Corey calls it "an engaging tale of love and loss and wartime pressures."

Next Thursday will be American Thanksgiving and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is the background to Stefanie Pintoff's thriller, CITY ON EDGE, which Nicole Leclerc enjoyed very much, even though she usually avoids thrillers.

Readers of crime fiction are often said to be reading to escape, though, given the grim seriousness of much crime fiction today, it would be hard to say from what. Although Susan Hoover admits to enjoying Phoef Sutton's HEART ATTACK AND VINE, she also suggests you might want a cleansing shower once you've finished this noir novel set in Hollywood. And Lourdes Venard observes that all the short stories in SAN JUAN NOIR, edited by Mayra Santos-Febres, reflect the island's increasing woes rather than the beaches, sand, and sea that attract the tourists.

Certainly an attractive feature is the potential for armchair travel that a significant number of mysteries and thrillers affords, though in all honesty, most of those we read this week would not be recommended by any sensible Tourist Board. Whereas a luxury North Sea cruise might be appealing, you won't want to take it in the company of the protagonist of Ruth Ware's THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10, if Karen Chisholm's description of her is accurate. Lourdes Venard admits she wouldn't want to live in the Yukon's Dawson City, at least in the winter, but she did enjoy Elle Wild's STRANGE THINGS DONE, a debut thriller. Another debut is Thomas Rydahl's THE HERMIT, but this Danish writer chooses to set his Nordic noir novel in the distinctly un-Nordic Canary Islands. Barbara Fister thought it could have done with a firmer editorial hand. Christine Zibas thought both the setting (Chile's Atacama Desert) and the unusual physical condition represented in the title of Lance Hawvermale' FACE BLIND helped the book to stand out in a crowded field. While Christine enjoyed her trip to Brittany in Jean-Luc Bannalec's MURDER ON BRITTANY SHORES, she was less than pleased with the careless editing of the book itself.

Though she is new to the "Reckless" series by Alex Kava, after finishing RECKLESS CREED Caryn St Clair intends to read more of them as well as the Maggie O'Dell series from which they spring. PJ Coldren is familiar with the Amelia Teagarden series, by Charlaine Harris, and welcomes her back in ALL THE LITTLE LIARS after too long an absence.

Finally, the British Library has been republishing forgotten crime fiction of from the past in its Crime Classics series. Rik Shepherd reviews one of these, SERGEANT CLUFF STANDS FIRM (1960) by Gil North and found it a well-written psychological drama.

Our guest over in the "Sixty Seconds With..."spot to your left is Matthew FitzSimmons, a US born, British raised author now living in Washington DC. Do pay him a visit.

For a look at what's going on in UK crime these days, you might drop in on our friends at CRIMEREVIEW.

For all of you who will be celebrating, we'd like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. Remember to come back in a couple of weeks to see what we've been reading.



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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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