Smokey the Cat
Alan Parks

Sixty seconds with Alan Parks...

Alan Parks was born in Scotland and attended The University of Glasgow where he was awarded a M.A. in Moral Philosophy. He still lives and works in the city he so vividly depicts in his Harry McCoy thrillers.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Parks: I’ll leave that to a journalist who described me as “An amiable bear of a man wandering
round Glasgow looking for places to kill people.’

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

Parks: Velvet Underground Live 1969

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

Parks: An astronaut, then briefly a dentist.

Maxim Jakubowski

Sixty seconds with Maxim Jakubowski...

Maxim Jakubowski

Sixty seconds with Maxim Jakubowski...

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January 16 2021

Here we are in January, at the beginning of a year we hoped would be a turn for the better, but which doesn't seem to be working out quite that way. And it's snowing here. Oh, well, at least there are books to escape to, some that provide assurance that things could be worse, others that offer a cheerful alternative to real life. We read both kinds and some in between and here's we thought.

If you are looking for grim, no one does it better than Jo Nesbo and his recent THE KINGDOM is no exception. Anne Corey reports that this is a disturbing book but one that will engage the reader even after the last chapter is read. There's bad weather and icy roads in this, and it snows a lot in another Scandi thriller, Helene Tursten's SNOWDRIFT. Barbara Fister, however, reassures us that it lacks the "unrealistic and often gory plotlines that many Nordic writers have adopted in imitation of American thrillers." Instead, Tursten provides a solid police procedural with a young protagonist who is stepping into the place that Irene Huss has retired from. Not had enough winter weather? There's Paige Shelton's COLD WIND to consider. This is set in an Alaskan winter, where a best-selling author has fled to recover from a head injury and psychological trauma.. Ruth Castleberry found it rivetting,but urges us to read the previous THIN ICE first.

Michael Connelly's lawyer, Mickey Heller, has not retired, however, and Jim Napier is pleased. He says that THE LAW OF INNOCENCE is a compelling read that ought to be required reading both for budding lawyers and the general public.

Christopher Chambers' SCAVENGER has a Black heroin-addicted street dweller for a protagonist. Barbara Fister says that it is "a colorful and linguistically daring if often bewildering ride," though the plot is sometimes over the top. Still she recommends especially for the distinctive voice of the main character.

Rebecca Nesvet remarks that Valerie Wilson Wesley has been telling African-America women's stories in popular media for at least twenty-five years. Her current novel, A GLIMMER OF DEATH, is the first in a new series, introducing a middle-aged real estate agent named Dessa Jones and Rebecca calls it "luminous and incisive."

ONE OF US, by Jane Haddam, is sadly the last of the Gregor Demarkian series, as the author passed away in 2019.While Anne Corey thought it was an engaging novel, she suggests that this thirtieth book will probably be most satisfying to readers who are familiar with some of the earlier books.

P.J. Tracey is the author if the best-selling Monkeewrench series, but with DEEP INTO THE DARK, she offers an introduction to a new series, one that features a veteran of Afghanistan suffering from PTSD, who is now working in a Los Angeles bar. Ruth Castleberry thought it a compelling introduction to the new series.

This month we welcome a new reviewer, Tracy Fernandez Rysavy, who is reviewing a new book by an established author, Rachel Hawkins, who draws upon an old book, Jane Eyre, for her current THE WIFE UPSTAIRS. Tracy found it a "deliciously creepy page turner." If Hawkins evokes an actual old book, Anthony Horowitz draws on an imagined one in MOONFLOWER MURDERS. The relationship between the imaginary detective hero of the Atticus Pünd series and the central character of Horowitz's novel is too complex to explain here, but Rebecca Nesvet enjoyed the whole enterprise.

After some five years, Susan Cox offers the second in what I suppose could be called her appliance series in THE MAN IN THE MICROWAVE OVEN. Sharon Mensing tells us that, despite several murders, it is still a lot of fun, and provides "a much appreciated escape from reality."

Susan Hoover applauds Christi Daugherty's REVOLVER ROAD and its main character, Harper McLain, for avoiding the cliches of romance crime. She concludes that the book and its journalist protagonist are definite keepers. For an unapologetic cosy, you could look for Angela M. Sanders' BAIT AND WITCH which Meredith Frazier says delivers a lots of unexpected delight.

Now we come to a paragraph I hoped never to have to write. The final two cosies in the list are reviewed by Diana Borse, who died in late December. Diana wrote for Reviewing the Evidence for more than eight years. She was a lover of the cosy sub-genre but never lost her critical standards when sharing her opinions of what she read. You can see for yourself in her accounts of Eve Calder's SUGAR AND SPICE and Jeffrey B. Burton's THE FINDERS which conclude our list of books for this issue.

Our guest this week in the 60 Seconds spot is Alan Parks. See what he has to say in the box to your left.

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 there we have it for January. We'll be back in February and hope you will be too. 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.

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.

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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.

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