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Julia Keller

Sixty seconds with Julia Keller...

The author of both fiction and non-fiction and a former Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Julia Keller is the author of the Bell Elkins mystery series, set in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Keller: I can only echo William Hazlitt, who called himself “dark, obscure, with longings infinite and unsatisfied; my heart, shut up in the prison-house of this rude clay, has never found, nor will it find, a heart to speak to.”

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

Keller: “Gord’s Gold” by Gordon Lightfoot.

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

Keller: A superhero. For a time I thought it was an actual vocation to which one might aspire, such as masonry or accountancy. I was obsessed with Superman, and quite certain that, if push came to shove, I could fly.

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July 18, 2015

We begin this week with the latest offering from one of the genre's true Old Masters - Peter Lovesey. His policeman, Peter Diamond makes his fifteenth appearance in DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN and, according to Barbara Fister, hasn't lost a step in what she says is a bit more complex and a few shades darker than some of the earlier entries in the series.

RUN YOU DOWN is only the second of Julia Dahl's books set among the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn. Anne Corey is happy to report that this is "entertaining and enthralling'" and at least as good as the first.

Maybe it's because families tend to see a little more of one another in the summer, but family-centred books are notable this week. Brian Panowich's BULL MOUNTAIN tells the story of a multi-generational family feud dating back more than fifty years. Sharon Mensing calls it "amazingly powerful." The small boy in ONE BOY MISSING, by Stephen Orr, seems not to have a family but a father and son painfully establish one with him in the South Australian Mallee. Karen Chisholm can vouch for the authenticity of the setting and speech and recommends this one without reservation. There's another fractured family in THE ANGER MERIDIAN, by Kaylie Jones. Here a mother, out of love and concern for her daughter, painfully confronts the truth about her past life. Christine Zibas thought it was a fascinating novel.

Though we all read mysteries, most of us won't use them as a guide to how to relate to someone new to the neighbourhood. But the 90-year-old protagonist of THE NEW NEIGHBOUR does, with some disastrous consequences. Diana Borse liked it even better on her second reading.

Not everything this week is dark and challenging. The prolific historical novelist, Robert Goddard, launches a new series in THE WAYS OF THE WORLD, set in 1919, in which his hero tries to find out who killed his father and why. I thought it had all the escapist charm of a period spy thriller of the 20s while being impeccably written. If you're stuck at home this summer, a spot of armchair travel won't hurt, especially in the company of authors who love their food and drink. Sharon Mensing reports that R.M. Cartmel's THE CHARLEMAGNE CONNECTION, set in Burgundy, may be a bit light as a mystery, but will appeal to those looking for well-developed characters and an abundance of information about wine and good things to eat. Brittany is not noted for its wine, but the food is very good indeed, and Commissaire Georges Dupin, the protagonist of Jean-Luc Bannalec's DEATH IN BRITTANY, loves to eat. Christine Zibas approved of both the criminal content and the descriptions of all the local charms of the Breton coast. Bruges in Belgium is not all that far away, but Nicole Leclerc remarks that local colour is not prominent in Pieter Aspe's FROM BRUGES WITH LOVE, but she did enjoy its complex plotting enough to want to read earlier entries in the series.

A missing Gauguin features in DEATH IN BRITTANY and a stolen Cezanne is at the centre of A TWIST OF HATE, by V.R. Barkowski. Meredith Frazier reports that despite is rather dark subject matter, this is still an enjoyable read, thanks especially to its tricky plotting. Jane Casey's police procedural THE KILL also has a strong plot and Phyllis Onstad says that this fifth in the series works well, even if you haven't read the prior entries. Cathy Downs thought that David Housewright's UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #15 was a thoroughly professional production and was agreeably reminded of some of the earlier Spenser novels (those actually written by the late Robert Parker).

LITTLE PRETTY THINGS, by Lori Rader-Day, is a psychological suspense thriller and an atmospheric page-turner that definitely deserves a place on your summer reading list, says Lourdes Venard. Finally, a pleasant book for a read on this beach is THE MELODY LINGERS ON, by Mary Higgins Clark, says Caryn St Clair. Though not as suspense-filled as some of the author's earlier work, it still will serve to pass a rainy afternoon.

Julia Keller is our guest in the "Sixty Seconds with..." feature over to your left. Do see what she has to say in answer to our questions.

If you want to read more about what's happening in British crime, take a look at CRIMEREVIEW where our former colleagues can help.

We'll be back on the first of August with more reports on what we've been reading. We hope you'll come back too. Although the summer seems to be madly flashing by, there's still plenty of time to kick off the sandals and read a book.



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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