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David Unger

Sixty seconds with David Unger...

David Unger was awarded Guatemala's Miguel Angel Asturias National Prize in Literature in 2014 for lifetime achievement--the first author writing exclusively in English to win a major Latin American literature award. In addition to his novels, he has translated a substantial body of work into English. He lives in Brooklyn, NY

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Unger: I am a guatemalteco agringado, but a Guatemalan nonetheless.

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

Unger: Fitzgerald and Armstrong singing the Gershwin songbook.

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

Unger: A professional baseball player, a right fielder at that.

Jacqueline Winspear

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Tawni O'Dell

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April 16, 2016

Curiously, just as the sun shine brighter and the days grow longer, reviewers this week take a turn for the dark side, to noir fiction and the bleaker moments in modern history.

Bernie Gunther makes his eleventh appearance in Philip Kerr's THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE, set after WWII on the French Riviera. I liked the twisty plot and the evocation of one of the less well-remembered horrors of the war, but thought the book on the whole was somewhat less compelling than earlier entrants in the series. Jim Napier, on the other hand, was much impressed with David C. Taylor's NIGHT LIFE, set in New York City in the paranoid days of McCarthyism. And Susan Hoover enjoyed COLD MORNING, by Ed Ifkovic, which reexamines the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case through the eyes of Edna Ferber and Alec Woolcott.

Diane Les Becquets' BREAKING WILD is set a world away from these urban historical recreations, and Sharon Mensing approved of this powerful tale of survival in the wilderness.

Nick Seeley's CAMBODIA NOIR also takes place a world away. It's a "tough, no apologies tale set in a society that's broken," reports Karen Chisholm, who recommends the book if you take your noir really dark. The pseudonymous EG Rodford transports the spirit of Raymond Chandler noir to Cambridge in THE BURSAR'S WIFE, reports Cathy Downs and the result is a book that skirts harder social issues in favour of entertainment.

A series comes to an end in THE CONSIDERATE KILLER, by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis. That compassionate Danish Red Cross nurse, Nina Borg, is retiring from the fray and I will miss her. This is perhaps the darkest of the Borg series, and STOCKHOLM NOIR, a Swedish collection of short stories edited by Nathan Larson and Carl-Michael Edenborg well lives up to its title. Even if you don't care for noir as a rule, says Nicole Leclerc, you should give this one a try.

Ben Neal puts both his thumbs up for Tim Hallinan's KING MAYBE, the latest in the Junior Bender series, which he thinks may be the best in the series to date. Phyllis Onstad, on the other hand, felt that readers like herself, new to Wendy Hornsby's Maggie MacGowen series, who start with DISTURBING THE DARK, might find themselves in the dark due to an absence of back story, though she did enjoy the place description and the meals.

And now to England. While Kate Mosse's THE TAXIDERMIST'S DAUGHTER is more of a Gothic romance than an actual thriller, Lourdes Venard enjoyed "this chilling, atmospheric book." Catherine Lowell's THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS involves the last living descendant of the Brontë family seeking to unravel the secret of her father's legacy. Meredith Frazier says this is less an actual mystery than a story about life's mysteries in general but one that English majors especially will enjoy.

Robin Yocum's A BRILLIANT DEATH is also a coming-of-age story, this one set in Brilliant, Ohio. Christine Zibas says this is a beautifully written and suspenseful tale.

Back to England, this time during the Regency, for WHEN FALCONS FALL, by CS Harris. Diana Borse thought that it included a staggering number of rapes, suicides, murders, and secrets for so small a venue.
Caryn St Clair admits that the mysteries in AUNTY LEE'S CHILLED REVENGE are a bit far-fetched, but she is more than willing to forgive that for the opportunity to spend some time in Singapore with Aunty Lee.

Our visitor to the Sixty Seconds With..." spot this week is David Unger, whose book THE MASTERMIND we reviewed last issue. Do wander over and pay him a visit.

And while you're wandering, take a trip across the sea to our friends at CRIMEREVIEW to see what happening in British crime.

So there you have it for now. Do come back in a couple of weeks for the next round of reviews.



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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