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Judith Flanders

Sixty seconds with Judith Flanders...

Judith Flanders was born in London, England, in 1959. She moved to Montreal, Canada, when she was two, and spent her childhood there, apart from a year in Israel in 1972, where she signally failed to master Hebrew. After a career in editing, she began to write highly regarded books of Victorian social history. And now, she has turned to crime novels, the most recent of which is A BED OF SCORPIONS.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Flanders: I try not to describe myself at all, ever.

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

Flanders: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

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

Flanders: Less confused

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Michael Robertson

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September 17, 2016

We're at that time of the year when everything gets just a bit more serious. At least that's certainly true of publishing, as it is now that the annual offerings of the well-established writers begin to appear and the presses bring forward their hottest candidates for stardom. All in all, a wonderful period for readers.

We start off with some familiar names and strong series. Gamache may be retired but he is far from putting his feet up and relaxing, as Louise Penny makes clear in A GREAT RECKONING. Susan Hoover reports that the ending moved her to tears, something rare in her case. SO SAY THE FALLEN is the second in Stuart Neville's Serena Flanagan series and Barbara Fister tells us that though the plot is relatively simple, the psychological complexity of the characters makes for compelling reading. Charles Todd adds to the ongoing series starring World War I nurse Bess Crawford in THE SHATTERED TREE. PJ Coldren enjoyed it both for the period detail and the timelessness of its themes. Four years separate Adamsberg's last appearance in his original language from his most recent, but happily, for once the English version has been promptly released. I thought A CLIMATE OF FEAR, by Fred Vargas (aka Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau) well worth waiting for, certainly one of the best in the series.

Barbara Fradkin has promised to set one book in her new series in each of Canada's provinces. A FIRE IN THE STARS takes her new protagonist to rural Newfoundland. Ann Pearson reports that Fradkin successfully evokes both the landscape and the idiom of that very particular place.

Sharon Mensing visited two other very particular remote places as well. Shannon Baker is also starting a new series, set in rural Nebraska, in STRIPPED BARE, which Sharon thinks marks an excellent start. She also admired Margaret Coel's WINTER'S CHILD, set on the Arapaho Wind River Reservation, which raises some important questions within a strong story.

In case you're thinking of flying off somewhere for a bit of a trip, I wouldn't recommend Rick Mofina's FREE FALL as airport reading, but in any other setting, it's a cracker, according to Susan Hoover, calling it an adrenaline-packed ride that you'll have trouble putting down.

The airline in the title of Ben Winters' UNDERGROUND AIRLINES is something altogether different, as it refers to the route being taken by escaping slaves in an alternative America that never abolished slavery. Barbara Fister says that this may not be a comfortable read but that it is a fascinating and suspenseful thriller. Nor is it the only book this week to exploit the potential of crime fiction to raise social and political questions. Lourdes Venard read Todd Moss's GHOSTS OF HAVANA, which deals with an attempt to undercut the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the US. Lourdes says that it is fast-paced, engaging, and very topical. Catalan author Sebastià Alzamora returns to Barcelona in 1936 in BLOOD CRIME, at the height of the Civil War, a time when his vampire character seems all-too-possible. PJ Coldren was impressed with the beauty and serenity of the writing despite the horror of the times.

Is all this a bit too much from time to time? Stephen Dobyns provides comic relief in IS FAT BOB DEAD YET? Christine Zibas says there's a laugh in every twist and turn along the way. Sherlock Holmes, or someone who looks a lot like him, appears in Michael Robertson's THE BAKER STREET JURORS, the fifth in his series featuring the contemporary tenant of 221B Baker Street. Meredith Frazier reports that this makes an excellent way to pass some idle hours or even to read in case you're waiting to be seated on a jury. Or else you could take a little time trip with Edward Marston in SIGNAL FOR VENGEANCE. Jim Napier says that this veteran author offers "challenging puzzles in well-told stories set in an earlier time."

Judith Flanders is our guest in the 60 Seconds over to your left. Do pay her a visit.

If you're wondering about the crime fiction scene in Britain, the place to go is CRIMEREVIEW,where they can fill you in.

It will be October before we're back. Where does the time go? But back we will be and we hope you will too.



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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