Smokey the Cat
Nancy Boyarsky

Sixty seconds with Nancy Boyarsky...

Born in Oakland, Nancy Boyarsky majored in English at Berkeley, where she graduated with honors. After a number of years free-lancing, she became a law magazine editor. In time she engaged in full-time writing and is the author of the Nicole Graves mystery series. She is currently working on another mystery featuring Nicole, as well as Family Recipes for Gastroenteritis, a tragicomic memoir of growing up in Oakland in a family at the far end of disfunctionality.
She lives in Los Angeles with her journalist husband, Bill Boyarsky.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Boyarsky: Nancy Boyarsky is a writer, painter, and techie, who has elevated dogged persistence to an art form.

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

Boyarsky: I’d choose one of the Beatles albums, but it would tough choosing which one.

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

Boyarsky: A book editor until I discovered it was much more fun being a writer.

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September 28, 2019

We begin with several thrillers, all of which demonstrate the degree to which a genre may serve not as an escape from contemporary problems but instead as a way of dealing with them head-on. All of these were highly rated by the reviewers.

In HEAVEN, MY HOME Attica Locke returns to her previous venue in East Texas to deal with race, white supremacy, and the conflict of loyalties. Barbara Fister says that Locke once again "redeems the police procedural by raising issues of justice that are too often evaded, in fiction and in reality."

White supremacy raises its ugly head in Karin Slaughter's THE LAST WIDOW as well, where a group of white nationalists are planning mayhem to aid their cause. Anne Corey calls it "a thought-provoking trek through a world of evil," one rooted firmly in the present moment.

Henry Porter's WHITE HOT SILENCE is a British spy thriller with a global scope. Susan Hoover says this is "no escape novel. It is an anxiety-producing picture of the key problems of the Western world, right now and right here, where elections are tampered with and villains run three of the strongest countries in the world." She adds that the futurist ending is not to be missed.

All of this is not to say that the domestic thriller is being neglected. THE RANSOM, by Nancy Boyarsky, is a taut thriller in which the series protagonist, investigator Nicole Graves, looks into a run of kidnappings, the last of which includes her sister. Lourdes Venard reports that some of the characters could have benefited from further development but suspense is satisfactorily maintained till the end. Sharon Mensing has apparently fallen in love with the main character in Nevada Barr's WHAT ROSE FORGOT. She tells us that this is a richly characterized and intensely plotted novel. Sharon's only regret is that, since it is a standalone, she won't get to meet Rose again.

Wendy Corsi Staub's DEAD SILENCE is presented as a domestic thriller, but Cathy Downs found it lacking in the usual tension and pace that we expect of the genre.

THE HARD STUFF, by David Gordon, is the second in the series starring Joe the bouncer. Once again Gordon provides an elaborate series of baroque capers, so dazzling in their details that we overlook their inherent improbability. I especially liked Gordon's prose style and his ability to evoke the roots of American noir while remaining thoroughly up-to-date.

Too much current events? We can always retreat to the Victorian age, but that won't really provide an escape from social woes. Our resident expert in contemporary Sherlockian lit, Rebecca Nesvet, is enthusiastic about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse's MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK:THE EMPTY BIRDCAGE. The brothers investigate two mysteries, one global, one London-based, that are resolved in a way that is "urgent, topical, and not at all an escape from the world of 2019, particularly 2019 America," Rebecca observes approvingly.

That scholar of Golden Age mystery, Martin Edwards, deserts his familiar landscapes of Liverpool and the Lake District for London in the 1930s in GALLOWS COURT. Here a mysterious, glamourous, and wealthy female seems to be acting as a nemesis to some who have got away with murder. Meredith Frazier reports that this is "a satisfyingly twisted tale with enough historical detail to settle it in its place and time," and surprises right till the end.

Susan Spann is coming out with a new book in her series about a 16th century samurai and consequently Seventh Street Books is re-issuing the series. Lourdes Venard applauds the undertaking, the first of which is THE CLAWS OF THE CAT, which she says combines rich historical detail with contemporary and witty language within a mystifying plot.

Sharon Mensing has reviewed a number of books set in a variety of North American national parks, but IN RHINO WE TRUST, by Dave Butler, she visits Namibia and the vicious world of rhino poaching. Sharon says that we learn a great deal about Namibia itself and about the intricacies of an eco-based economy in the earlier parts of the book but once the setting is established, the suspense intensifies and the book becomes hard to put down.

We can turn to the cosier end of crime fiction for some escape into romance along with murder. THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK, by Jennifer Kincheloe, set in Los Angeles in 1908, is "a fast-paced and funny tale of a fearless and independent young woman way ahead of her time," says Susan Hoover about this novel which she states is half romance and half mystery.

Ruth Castleberry was a bit disappointed in Kaitlyn Dunnett's CLAUSE AND EFFECT, about a freelance editor working on a script for a town pageant. Ruth thought the pace was uneven, but enjoyed the interaction with the editor's cat Calpurnia.

Keshena Hanson reviewed two domestics this time, one a psychological thriller, the other more of a family drama with a murder mystery attached. She enjoyed the well-written characters, the upmarket setting, and particularly the unreliable narrators of Kaira Rounda's THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER. She found THE BODY IN THE WAKE, by Katherine Hall Page, a bit less challenging, but enjoyable nevertheless.

Our guest today in the "Sixty Seconds With..." feature is Nancy Boyarsky. She appears in the box to your left.

Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW have a new issue out this week, so there's where you should head if you want news of British crime.

We'll be back in October in the vicinity of Canadian Thanksgiving (Google it if you don't know when that is). In the meantime, we wish everyone who is celebrating a very happy New Year.

Do come back next month for a visit. In the meantime, enjoy the encroaching Autumn and a good 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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