Smokey the Cat
Brian Thiem

Sixty seconds with Brian Thiem...

BRIAN THIEM, author of the acclaimed series debut Red Line, spent 25 years with the Oakland Police Department, working Homicide as a detective sergeant and later as the commander of the Homicide Section. He also spent 28 years of combined active and reserve duty in the Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. His final assignment was a tour in Iraq as the Deputy Commander of the Criminal Investigation Group (CID) for the Middle East. He lives in South Carolina. Thrill Kill is his second novel. Visit him at

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Thiem: I'm a former cop and soldier who's learning how to write and doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up.

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

Thiem: Sounds of Silence—haha!

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

Thiem: A superhero

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July 23, 2016

Well, it's summer. Some of us get to go away on holiday; others have to stay home and work, but one way or the other, most of us are looking for a good book to keep us company. This time out, we have thrillers and cosies, histories and police procedurals, and several books that provide an excursion into the deep country, even if you can't go in person.

First up is Lisa Brackmann's GO-BETWEEN, a thriller that is far from offering an escape from what's going on these days. But Barbara Fister says that Brackmann gives noir a feminist reboot here and provides a "fun, smart and fascinating trip." Peter Lovesey's 16th Peter Diamond police procedural, ANOTHER ONE GOES TONIGHT, on the other hand, is a master class in manipulating the stock in trade of the classic detective novel. He fooled me and I loved it. Ingenious plotting is also one of the attractions of Tim Weaver's FALL FROM GRACE and Susan Hoover applauds.

Anne Corey observes that a new note of darkness has appeared in Daniel Silva's series starring Gabriel Allon, THE BLACK WIDOW, which deals with terrorism, ISIS, and threats to the state of Israel. She hopes that Silva is less correct about this than he is about the kind of attacks that are at the centre of this book.

Considering the popularity of the word GIRL in titles these days, I've been contemplating filling an entire issue with "girl" books. This time, however, we've got just two. Karla Jay reports that the plot of Emma Cline's THE GIRLS is a bit on the pedestrian side but that the writing is sharp and says that the audio narration is extremely well-executed, especially for a debut. Christine Zibas, on the other hand was thoroughly engrossed by David Swinson's THE SECOND GIRL and its anti-hero detective.

Many may remember the summer that was spoiled by JAWS, which kept people out of the water even in July. Ben Neal observes that Ross Gresham's WHITE SHARK draws heavily on the plot of that film and is a lot of fun even if it tries to do a little too much. D.A. Keeley's DESTINY'S PAWN is set near the Maine/New Brunswick border in the middle of winter and deals with an 11-year-old Ukrainian asylum seeker, stolen art, and an array of law enforcement agencies that, says Susan Hoover, boggles the mind. The wildlife (grizzlies and wolves in alliance) are menacing in Scott Graham's YELLOWSTONE STANDOFF and the woods are dark and deep, but Sharon Mensing was disappointed because the archaeological content that distinguishes earlier books in the series is largely absent. She thoroughly approved of Keith McCafferty's BUFFALO JUMP BLUES even if the flyfishing is minimal this time, as the writing is lyrical and the treatment of Native American hunting practices informative.

Two historical novels this time include LOST AND GONE FOREVER, by Alex Grecian and A FRONT PAGE AFFAIR, by Radha Vatsal. Though Rebecca Nesvet is unconvinced that Grecian's addition to his late-Victorian Murder Squad series is one of the best novels of the year, as its predecessor was termed, she still was intrigued by its central theme that the past and its traumas are never truly lost and gone. While Lourdes Venard enjoyed the various historical tidbits in Radha Vatsal's early 20th century A FRONT PAGE AFFAIR, she did find the newspaperwoman protagonist annoyingly inept.

A pair of amateur sleuths try to hurry the police along in THE ENGLISH BOYS, by Julia Thomas, which Diana Borse found both accomplished and polished. There was too much romance and too little detection in Marla Cooper's TERROR IN TAFFETA to make Sharon Katz entirely happy, but she did find the book fun to read and a bit crazy too. PJ Coldren has one complaint about Elizabeth Perona's MURDER UNDER THE COVERED BRIDGE. Although professional and well-timed, there were no recipes for the delicious-sounding baked goods in this second in the BUCKET LIST MYSTERY series.

Brian Thiem is our guest in the "Sixty Seconds with..." spot over to your left, where you can check out what this veteran homicide detective turned thriller writer has to say.

Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW are hard at work this summer covering crime in Great Britain, so do take a look.

We'll be back in August with new reviews and a new guest. Do come back and take a look.



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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