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August 1, 2015
Given the number of sociopaths we see daily going about their unspeakable business in the full light of day, it's surprising that we might enjoy reading books that feature fictional examples of the type. But if the book is as well written as Sascha Arango's THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES and the protagonist is as intriguing as his central character, then it's no surprise at all.
The crime that is at the heart of ONE NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI, by Craig Shreve, dates back fifty years to the time of the great civil rights campaign in the American South. As recent events have reminded us, however, the issues that were at the heart of that struggle still remain to be resolved, so it makes sense that the central character here is still trying to come to terms with his brother's lynching a half century ago. Craig Sisterson says that the book raises many troubling questions while avoiding caricature and cliché.
On holiday? Thinking of taking a nice long walk in the woods? Then maybe you shouldn't read Paul Doiron's THE PRECIPICE until you get back. But do read it when you're safely home, suggests Sharon Mensing, both for its gripping plot and strong and evocative sense of place. The "high country" in the title of Jon Talton's HIGH COUNTRY NOCTURNE is in Arizona, not Maine, but there's tension aplenty in this tale of missing diamonds, Mexican cartels, and Russian gangs, says Anne Corey, who praises the author's style and the depth of the characterization of the hero. Strong characters and a tension-filled plot also mark THE FIXER by Joseph Finder, says Karla Jay, who reports on the audio version of the book. It's a satisfying summer listen, she says, thanks to an excellent reader, Steven Kearney.
You can't tell a book by the title, it seems, since we have several birds flying through the titles of several very different books. TROUBLE IN ROOSTER PARADISE, by T.W. Emory, for example, has precious little to do with chickens. It's a hard-boiled detective story set largely in Seattle in the 1950s and Meredith Frazier enjoyed it very much. Likewise, Maris Soule's EAT CROW AND DIE has little to say about actual crows and a lot about the series protagonist, P.J. Benson. Another P.J., our own P.J. Coldren, enjoyed it. On the other hand, A PITYING OF DOVES, by Steve Burrows, has almost more to say about birds (turtledoves in this case) than murder. Caryn St Clair thought it might appeal not only to crime fiction readers but to birders as well.
Sometimes successful series hit a bad patch and that would seem to be the case for two recent entries in long-running series. SCENTS AND SENSIBILITY, by Spencer Quinn, the eighth starring detectives Bernie and his dog Chet, disappointed Cathy Downs, while PJ Coldren found DEAD RAPUNZEL, by Victoria Houston, not up to the usual standard of the series.
On the other hand, Diana Borse thought that Linda Castillo's AFTER THE STORM lived up to the promise of the first six novels. While Phyllis Onstad had a few reservations about the latest in the Anna Curtis series, A GOOD KILLING, by Allison Leotta, on the whole she can recommend it.
Both of these books feature strong female leads but more often than not women play the role of victim (though not necessarily a passive victim) in crime novels. Despite being intelligent and sensible, a young woman disappears on her gap year trip in Asia and her parents must set off to find her in Cath Staincliffe's HALF THE WORLD AWAY. Jim Napier calls it a "superbly layered suspense tale that will leave readers satisfied, yet profoundly disturbed." The serial killer this week appears in Alan Cupp's SCHEDULED TO DIE. Despite its original premise, Sharon Mensing felt that the book could have used a greater degree of development. Quite the opposite is the problem with Adam Nevil's 692 page NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE, according to Meredith Frazier, which was more sleep-inducing than suspenseful.
Our guest in the interviewee's seat this week is Kate White, so do look over to the box on the left to see what she has to say.
For what's going on across the ocean, our former colleagues can be found on CRIMEREVIEW where you can find out what's going on in British crime.
We'll be back at the end of the month with our usual helping of new reviews and a new interview. Until then, enjoy the dog days of summer.
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.
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