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January 25, 2020
A new year and a new decade. Why not some new books? This is what we've been reading since last we met.
I[saiah] Q[uintabe], the genius private eye known as IQ in Joe Ade's series set in South Central LA, was certainly hailed as an innovative variant on the noir staple character. Barbara Fister is happy to report that his latest appearance in HI FIVE does not disappoint. She adds that Ide paints noir in "a new palette of vibrant colours."
I wish I could say the same for the new British village thriller, GRACE IS GONE, by Emily Elgar, which turns on an unhealthy relationship between a mother and her daughter, but one that I thought missed some opportunities for invention. But other readers view it very differently, so you can decide.
IMPOSSIBLE CAUSES, by Julie Mayhew, is also set in a small British community, but this is an isolated place where most of the characters are members of a cultish religious community. Lourdes Venard says it is more like a creepy Gothic novel than a thriller, but it does pack quite as punch at the end. On the other hand, Keshena Hanson was extremely enthusiastic about another small-town mystery, the town this time in Wisconsin. Erica Spindler's THE LOOK-ALIKE, Keshena says, is a wholly successful thriller on all counts.
Con Lehane resurrects the protagonist of an earlier series, Bartender Brian McNulty, to figure in his current 42nd Street Library Mystery series, MURDER OFF THE PAGE. Cathy Downs remarks that while the narrative may be a bit slow to unfold, the moral strength of some of the characters is well worth your attention.
Three novels in translation do not have a lot in common with one another but do demonstrate why it's really not a good idea to shy away from translations. SANCTUARY, by Luca D'Andrea, combines a glimpse into life in a remote Italian town in the late 20th century with a mythic element that reaches back centuries. It is a winning combination, I thought. Meg Westley remarks that THE RABBIT HUNTER, by the husband and wife team known as Lars Kepler, is the first she has read in the Joona Linna series, but will by no means be the last. This Swedish thriller evokes a "believable and gritty world" with strong characters in an utterly suspenseful plot, says Meg, and should not be missed. Or we can leave Europe behind and follow Barbara Fister to Ghana, where Kwei Quartey has set a new series. THE MISSING AMERICAN stars private investigator Emma Djan, who Barbara tells us is "an appealing, intrepid, and intelligent guide to the seamier side of a complicated country."
We do have action thrillers, of course. Meg Westley was not thrilled with the first half of Gregg Hurwitz' INTO THE FIRE, but she says that the latter parts of the book are genuinely gripping and will delight fans of the Orphan X series. Rebecca Nesvet, on the other hand, found nothing particularly redeeming in Ian Hamilton's FORESIGHT (Uncle Chow series #2). You should read the review to find out why.
Ruth Castleberry has a fondness for cats and thus for cat mysteries. She reviews three of them this month and liked the lot. CLAW ENFORCEMENT, by Sofie Ryan, features green-eyed Elvis, a cat who likes to watch Jeopardy! and has "excellent people skills." Ruth found this visit to North Harbor, Maine delightful. Eileen Watkins' GONE, KITTY, GONE is firmly situated in the world of cat fanciers, cat grooming, and, simply, cats. All the same, it contains a complex and intriguing mystery in which both the people and the cats are distinctive characters. Miranda James sets CARELESS WHISKERS against a college theatre production in which one of the actors is murdered. Ruth says that James never disappoints and, as usual Maine Coon Diesel is the most charming of all.
Our guest in the Sixty Seconds With... seat this week is Eileen Brady and you can visit with her in the box to your left.
Our friends across the sea at CRIMEREVIEW have been reading a lot too and you should drop by an take a look.
And that's it for now.We'll be back sometime in February, 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.
In the meantime, please get in touch if there's anything you'd like to say to us. We'd love to hear from you.
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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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