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June 02 2018
Early June is when the summer reading suggestions appear and yet it's hard to know what to suggest for anybody's holiday reading. It all depends on whether you're the sort of person who promises to actually read Proust this summer or whether you think you deserve a bit of an escape. Happily, the books we read for this issue will pretty much cover the bases.
LONDON RULES, Mick Herron's latest in his Slough House series, pretty much covers them in one go. Hugely funny, it also treats the victims of terrorism with respect. I thought it was exactly the book for our present unsettled times.
It's not uncommon for retiring luminaries to write a book (or have one written for them). No one expects too much from these efforts as a rule. Beverley McLachlin, who recently retired as the Chief Justice of Canada's Supreme Court, has applied her long court experience to crime fiction and Jim Napier reports that FULL DISCLOSURE is not a mere vanity piece but a well-structured and entertaining legal thriller that any fan of the genre will enjoy.
Nicola Nixon warns us that if we discount Josh Malerman's UNBURY CAROL on the grounds that the theme of the comatose heroine in danger of premature burial has been done to death (sorry), we'd be making a mistake. The book is, she says, "a compelling read and an elegant blending of genres."
Kristen Lepionka's debut last year was stunning. This year's followup, WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE is perhaps a bit less showy than her first, writes Barbara Fister, but all the same it has a plot worthy of Ross Macdonald and a protagonist you want to spend time with.
Here's a pair of police procedurals, neither one set in London or Glasgow. Ann Cleeves' latest, THE GLASS ROOM, features Vera Stanhope, that unlikely investigator whom, says Anne Corey, we really enjoy spending some time with. DEAD MEN WHISTLING, by Graham Masterton, is a different thing altogether. Set in an Ireland that is singularly lacking in leprechauns, it is a fine example of Irish noir, says Cathy Downs.
Sharon Mensing is particularly qualified to write about THE AFFLICTION, by Beth Gutcheon, since it is set in an independent school, and Sharon was once Head of one of those. She says this cosy makes light-hearted fun of the school milieu while providing a pretty accurate look at the teenage angst of its student boarders.
A number of historical novels were warmly received by the reviewers this week (though I admit I have trouble accepting the first of them as "historical," given that it is set in 1965). But the attitudes toward Down Syndrome in the North Dakota of that period as they appear in Larry D. Sweazy's SEE ALSO PROOF do remind us that times have definitely changed. Meredith Frazier says it is a strong addition to a series that is already strong. IT BEGINS IN BETRAYAL, by Iona Whishaw, is set in Canada some twenty years earlier, just after the war. Lourdes Venard enjoyed the strong characters and the historical background. Diana Borse says that Barbara Cleverly's FALL OF ANGELS, the first in a new series and evoking the style of the 20s, may not be to everyone's taste as a summer read, since it demands close attention, but that she loved. It.
If, however, you want something thoroughly contemporary, HOW FAR SHE'S COME, by Holly Brown, might be just the thing, according to our newest reviewer, Katie Voss. This reflects the #MeToo movement's ideals in a well-timed, "smartly written and brutally honest" psychological thriller.
Where's the serial killer this week? Here you go, though this is an unconventional take on the sub-genre. PAPER GHOSTS, by Julia Heaberlin, has a female narrator taking the suspected serial killer of her sister on a cross-country trip to find out the truth. Susan Hoover says although it's a long trip, the author is "the mistress of plot twists and a fine creator of fascinating characters."
Two books in translation this time and neither one is Scandinavian. Zhou Haohui is a very popular Chinese crime novelist and DEATH NOTICE is the first in his trilogy that references Euripides' Oresteia. Rebecca Nesvet says that both the book itself and the translation is "riveting and dynamic" and that she is looking forward to the subsequent volumes. Incidentally, this one also has a serial killer. A MILLION DROPS, by Víctor del Ábrol, is an enormously ambitious look at Spanish history through much of the 20th century with particular reference to Soviet-Spanish relations. It's a vast enterprise at over 600 pages but one that kept me continually engaged.
While PJ Coldren was amazed at how much free time the proprietor of the mystery bookstore in VM Burns' READ HERRING HUNT has at her disposal, she still enjoyed this second in the Mystery Bookshop series.
Our visitor this week in the Sixty Seconds With..." spot is Spencer Kope and you can read his cheeky answers to our questions in the box to your left.
You'll find the latest reports on crime fiction across the sea at CRIMEREVIEW, where our friends take a good look at what's going on in crime fiction in Britain.
Things slow down a bit in summer, so we won't be back till the very end of the month but we'll be reading all that time and hope you will be too. And do get in touch if you feel the urge.
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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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