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April 21 2018
We begin with the thirteenth novel in Philip Kerr's ambitious record of Bernie Gunther's checkered career from the rise of Hitler to the post-war period, GREEKS BEARING GIFTS, which I thought just as compelling as any of the twelve that came before. I was half-way though the book when I heard that Kerr had died far too young at 62. While I was saddened to hear the news, I was also grateful for the immense pleasure this series has provided me over the years and to know that one more book awaited publication later this year.
Other established writers are represented this time out as well. Phyllis Onstad liked Elizabeth George's THE PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES very much indeed, calling it one of the best of the lot. Michael Connelly's TWO KINDS OF TRUTH confirms the author as the finest crime writer in America today, says Jim Napier. While Sharon Mensing enjoyed Anne Hillerman's CAVE OF BONES, she did feel that the secondary characters lacked development. Caryn St Clair remarks that even after thirty-three appearances, Alex Delaware is holding up as a character very well indeed in Jonathan Kellerman's NIGHT MOVES.
While we may always be happy to welcome back established authors we've enjoyed in the past, there's a special pleasure in coming across a new writer, particularly when we're treated to a promising debut. Susan Hoover calls A.L. Devlin's COBRA CLUTCH, set in Vancouver, "a terrific novel,...with witty dialogue, startling characters, and amazing plot twists." And she is looking forward to the next appearance of its ex-wrestler hero "Hammerhead" Jed. THE STORM KING, by Brendan Duffy, is actually his second novel, and quite a different enterprise from COBRA CLUTCH. Cathy Downs reports that she is enthusiastic about this literary thriller because it is unafraid to take on big ideas.
Unusually, WEEPING WATERS, by Clarissa Goenawan, was the South African author's debut (she has written several more books in this series since) and it is also her debut in English translation from Afrikaans. Anne Corey says that the book unfolds slowly but will reward the reader's patience. RAINBIRDS, by Singapore writer Clarissa Goenawan, is a first novel, set in an imagined Japanese town. Lourdes Venard calls it an intricate and powerful novel that will stay with you. Larissa Kyzer (whom we welcome back after her long sojourn in Iceland) reviews Elizabeth Mundy's IN STRANGERS' HOUSES, which features a Hungarian cleaning woman working in London, one who makes a compelling leading lady in this debut.
We do have a serial killer this week, in A BREATH AFTER DROWNING, by Alice Blanchard. Cathy Downs did have to wonder whether the author didn't pile it on a bit too much but agrees that it is a page turner all the same.
Not in the mood for tension? A wee trip to Brittany should be just fine then. Jean-Luc Bannalec's THE FLEUR de SEL MURDERS provides every incentive to book a stay in the land that provides the salt on gourmets' tables everywhere, and I enjoyed it immensely. Also in France, NUMBER 7, RUE JACOB by Wendy Hornsby was a thrilling and engaging read, says Ruth Castleberry. Or if France isn't your cup of tea, there's Scotland, in Paige Shelton's LOST BOOKS AND OLD BONES. Sharon Mensing says this is great escape reading, transporting readers to an Edinburgh that is quite different from the US and very appealing. Or for another kind of travel, there's THE GHOST IN ROOMETTE FOUR, by Janet Dawson, which takes place on a Pullman car on the California Zephyr in 1953. Lourdes Venard says it evokes an age of comfortable train travel, but the historical research overtakes the plot to some degree.
Our guest in the "Sixty Seconds With..." feature this week is Maris Soule. Look over to your left to see what she has to say.
For what's happening on the British crime scene, you should pay a visit to CRIMEREVIEW.
We'll return in May with more to say about what we've read. In the meantime, enjoy the spring - we've waited long enough for it.
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