Smokey the Cat
Maxim Jakubowski

Sixty seconds with Maxim Jakubowski...

Maxim Jakubowski worked for many years in book publishing as an editor and launched the Murder One Bookshop, which he owned and ran for over 20 years. He now writes, edits and translates full-time in London. From an early age, he was always fascinated by popular culture, and his writing and editing has criss-crossed all areas, from science fiction & fantasy to thrillers and, inevitably, erotica.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Jakubowski: A man, a writer, a husband, a father and a grandfather who loves books (and movies and music) with a vengeance and happens to have the belief that by writing and editing even more books, he might have made the world a slightly more interesting place

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

Jakubowski: An impossible questions what with a collection that goes into the thousands, but right now (tomorrow would see another choice) The Best of the Walkabouts, because it’s not only music that moves me but because the band asked me to write the liner notes.

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

Jakubowski: A bicycle runner in the Tour de France

Maxim Jakubowski

Sixty seconds with Maxim Jakubowski...

Eileen Brady

Sixty seconds with Eileen Brady...

Search Now:
In Association with

MILLER'S MOVIE COLLECTIBLES, The Film Poster Book by Rudy and Barbara Franchi. 325 illustrations plus extensive text on all aspects of collecting movie paper, with current values, sources, history, terminology, and trends. Order one at


Home | About | Reviews | Search | Submit | Subscribe  Subscribe

November 21, 2020

Well, here it is late November already and an end to this appalling year is in sight. We can only hope that 2021 does better by all of us. In the meantime, there's nothing like a good murder to take one's mind off things. Here's a bunch, along with lots of cops, and a cat or two.

Barbara Fister was very enthusiastic about Ivy Pochoda's THESE WOMEN. Granted, it does involve sex workers, issues of race, and a serial killer. All the same, she says "It's a solid and engrossing mystery that has all the required elements: strong characters, a vivid sense of place, growing tension, all heightened by giving these women such memorable, indelible voices. It's the kind of crime fiction that sees in everyday violence larger crimes and demands more than simple justice." It's one I certainly intend to read.

Peter James has long provided solid police procedurals and Jim Napier assures us that FIND THEM DEAD will delight readers who have been taking pleasure in these for a long time. Jim says this sixteenth in the Roy Grace series shapes what might be otherwise commonplace material into a corker of a story.

Another police procedural is the first in a series and the first to be translated into English. GERMANIA, by Harald Gilbers, is set in 1944, in a Berlin that is reluctantly letting go of its dream of world conquest. The protagonist is, surprisingly, a Jew who was once a police detective. As a crime novel, it works over familiar territory, but the setting, the portrait of a dying regime, makes it an engrossing read I thought.

GERMANIA is the sort of historical novel that invites a comparison with the present, but there is another, and enjoyable, sort that provides an enriched view of the past. Mary Lawrence's THE LOST BOYS OF LONDON is this sort of book, set in Tudor London, but concerned more with the effect of the actions of the powerful on the lives of ordinary people than with deeds of glory. Meredith Frazier approved. Jane Prescott, the protagonist of Mariah Fredericks' series set in the early 20th century, may be a lady's maid, but she does run across rather a lot of murders. Lourdes Venard enjoyed DEATH OF AN AMERICAN BEAUTY for its historical detail and for its evocation of the time just before the First World War when changes were in the air but had not yet borne fruit.

Rebecca Nesvet reviews two historical novels with literary connections. James Lovegrove continues his resurrection of Sherlock Holmes in THE BEAST OF THE STAPLETONS, in which he carries forward Conan Doyle's original HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. Rebecca found it entertaining, though comprised largely of recycled material. Marty Ambrose's A SHADOWED FATE carries forward the story of Claire Claremont's search for Allegra, the daughter she had by Lord Byron, who she thought had died in childhood. Rebecca liked this one even better than the first, largely because it evokes a deeper and more abiding myth than Romantic preoccupations.

There's a supernatural element pervading some of the books we take a look at this time. THE BOOK OF LAMPS AND BANNERS, by Elizabeth Hand, deals with the occult and conspiracy and is, as the protagonist remarks, "like Dan Brown on acid," but despite its excesses, Barbara Fister observes that the author writes so well, especially about art, that it is not surprising that the series has attracted a cult following and says that it well worth the time of readers willing to accept departures from the conventions of the genre. Professional magic and illusion is at the heart of Phillip Margolin's A REASONABLE DOUBT. The author says he enjoyed writing this one and Ruth Castleberry equally enjoyed reading it. MEXICAN GOTHIC, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, is exactly what the title promises. Sharon Mensing found reading it an immersive experience, but sometimes over the top.

The two books that have STONE in their titles are both thrillers. Susan Hoover particularly enjoyed Marc Cameron's STONE CROSS because of its Alaska setting, but she also praises its strong characters and absolutely thrilling action. P.J. Coldren, on the other hand, enjoyed the early parts of THE STONE GIRL, by Dirk Wittenborn, but was let down by the ending, which she thought challenged credibility.

Kathy Reichs (and Temperance Brennan) is back with a CONSPIRACY OF BONES. Susan Hoover enjoyed this one immensely, calling it one of the most exciting and complicated novels in the series.

And finally, the only real cosy that our reviewers read this time. Ruth Castleberry enjoyed Diane Kelly's DEAD IN THE DOORWAY for its numerous red herrings and well-developed characters. And it has a cat!

Our guest this week in the Sixty Seconds is Maxim Jakubowski. Do drop by and pay him a visit.

Our friends across the sea have been busy keeping up with what is going on in British crime. You can find out what they thought of it at CRIMEREVIEW.

And that's it for 2020, a year that I myself am happy to wave good-bye to. We'll be back in 2021, sometime in January, date to be decided. If you want to know when, you might subscribe to the RSS feed by tapping the button on our masthead, or drop me a line with your email and I'll put you on the notification list.

Or you might want to drop us an email. We're always happy to hear from you.

Finally, I'd like to wish all our friends in the US a very happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday, but do respect covid, which is lurking, ready to pounce.

Best wishes and stay safe,


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.

Recent Reviews:

We have thousands of reviews archived on this site. Use the form below to search by title, author's name, or keyword (e.g., noir, cozy, PI, female, thriller, gay, cats).




Publishers or authors wishing to submit books for review should contact the editors. Please note, before approaching us, that the publishing house must be a print publisher, pay advances and issue royalty statements, edit books, create covers, neither solicit nor accept financial payments from its authors, never copyright an author's title under the publisher's name, and never expect or ask authors to buy a certain number of copies of the author's books. As a general rule we will only consider books for review which have been published by publishers listed on the Mystery Writers of America approved list. We can never guarantee that a review will appear. And our reviewers are given a free rein to express their opinions constructively and honestly.

Please note that we review crime fiction and selected science fiction and horror. We have a policy of not accepting any religious books—and that includes religious crime fiction. We are unable to review any ebooks, unbound galleys, PODs, or PDF files.


Since RTE first appeared, some twelve years ago, the business of books has changed out of all recognition. Then, books were reviewed in the print media for the most part, though Amazon was encouraging readers to post their reviews of the books they read. Now, newspapers across North America have reduced or eliminated the space they allot to books and, with certain notable exceptions, only best-selling authors are likely to get noticed. As a result, electronic reviewing has become increasingly important and, due to the somewhat slippery question of online authorship, occasionally problematic.

For this reason and in view of a recent article in the NY Times detailing a reviews-for-hire enterprise, it's probably wise for RTE to reiterate its position on reviewing. While our reviewers receive galleys, ARCs, or finished copies of books for review, they are otherwise unpaid. Furthermore, they are asked to disclose any special interest they might have in a book or an author they are reviewing. No one, including the editors, receives any compensation for the work they do. All our reviewers are encouraged to express their honest opinions, whether positive or negative, about the books they are reviewing. None of our reviewers uses a pseudonym and all are who they say they are. Nor do we employ rating systems (stars, grades, "highly recommended," or the like) in the belief that our reviews deserve to be read in their entirety. Since RTE does not review self-published or digital-only releases, we are perhaps less vulnerable to offers to pay for reviews, but it seems a good idea to make our policy clear. Finally, in the years that I've been editing RTE, I have never once been approached by a press or a publicist to violate this principle in any way.

Contact: Yvonne Klein (

[ Home | About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]