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Thomas Mullen

Sixty seconds with Thomas Mullen...

Thomas Mullen is the internationally bestselling author of seven novels, including Darktown, an NPR Best Book; Lightning Men, which was named one of the Top Ten Crime Novels of 2017 by The New York Times and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger; and The Last Town on Earth, which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize. His new novel, Blind Spots, will be published on April 4 by Minotaur Books.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Mullen: I’m a father of two, husband of one, the guy who usually makes the first joke or offers the first compliment on a Zoom call.

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

Mullen: U2, The Joshua Tree

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

Mullen: An author. Sorry to be boring (or predictable), but this is what I love to do.

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February 26 2023

Finally we are coming to the end of what I believe is the longest month of the year. I know, I know, your calendar says the opposite, but your calendar doesn't live where I do. Nevertheless, it may be cold, grey, and frequently snowy, but it is good for reading and that's what we all did this month, regardless of where we live.

The Swedish novel BLAZE ME A SUN by Christoffer Carlsson, doesn't pay a great deal of attention to the weather. Instead it concerns itself more with the social and personal effects of a series of murders, both local and national, on the residents of a rural county. Though they occurred decades ago, these events are still active agents of change and cause the characters to question what is happening to their country and mourn the loss. It is a sentiment not confined to rural Sweden and a book I can recommend. Another Nordic novel, THE SANCTUARY by Katrine Engberg, more closely conforms to genre, but Anne Corey reports that this Danish police procedural provides a brilliant array of possible scenarios to keep the reader guessing about the lives and relationships of people living on a small island.

EVEN AS WE BREATHE is the work of a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle and Rebecca Nesvet reports that it is both a gripping mystery debut and an important historical novel. Set in 1942, at a time when Indigenous people were largely barred from effectively living lives of their own choice. Rebecca admires this book both for the poetic quality of its prose and for the message it conveys. She says readers will want to read it more than once.

Sharon Mensing is particularly fond of books that deal convincingly with nature. She describes reading a Karen Armstrong book as "like taking an off-the-grid vacation." MURDER AT HAVEN'S ROCK, a spin-off from the Rockton series, is no exception and Sharon is already looking forward to what comes next. STORM WATCH by C.J. Box is no spin-off. It's the 23rd in the Joe Pickett series. There are snowstorms depicted so well that Sharon suggests you might want to read them in front of a fire but otherwise found the plot somewhat hastily developed

Jim Napier enjoyed WHAT MEETS THE EYE, by Alex Kenna, a debut private detective tale that provides a close look into the lives of professional artists as they try to achieve success. Jim calls this a very impressive first novel and is looking forward to more from this writer. Another book with a private detective has an unusual one. DEATH OF A DANCING QUEEN by Kimberly G. Giarratano features Billie Levine, a young Jewish woman who grew up in New Jersey alongside the sons of Jewish mobsters. One might think The Sopranos only with kugel not ziti. Anne Corey found it entertaining. Harry Duncan in Thomas Perry's MURDER BOOK is also a private eye, this one investigating the mob in rural Indiana, formerly of Chicago. Ellen Rosewall, who joins us for the first time here, enjoyed the trip and was especially glad to be spared a dose of the graphic violence which often accompanies mobsters from Chicago, even when they are hanging out in Indiana.

Lourdes Venard is happy to welcome Deborah Crombie back after a four year absence with her A KILLING OF INNOCENTS, featuring series characters Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. This is a police procedural set in London, one that devotes considerable attention to various family matters. Another book set in the UK is Harriet Tyce's IT ENDS AT MIDNIGHT, to which Sharon had mixed responses, though mostly negative. She reports that it's a bit like watching a train wreck, though sometimes quite immersive.

I don't know if Barbara Fister got actually to travel anywhere lately, but she managed to visit both Ghana and the Australian wine country through the pages of the books she read. LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ by Kwei Quartey explores a darker side of life in Ghana and Nigeria than in some of his earlier work as he treats the perilous path taken by those seeking to emigrate as well as the lives of sex trade workers. EXILES by Jane Harper will satisfy readers who enjoy close considerations of family relationships whereas those who enjoy complex plots will find plenty to untangle here. But Barbara observes that all unfolds at gentle pace that requires some patience on the readers' part.

THE WRITING RETREAT by Julia Bartz is more about lesbian sex than writing, or maybe not since Sharon Mensing says that the author employs just about every familiar Gothic horror trope in the box to produce a book of little substance.

Finally, we have little to report on the cozy front this month. But PRIMER AND PUNISHMENT by Diane Kelly finds a new enterprise for cozies - houseboat flipping. Ruth Castleberry enjoyed the diversion as well as the chapters written by Sawdust, the cat.

Our guest over in the Sixty Seconds With...this month is Thomas Mullen. Be sure to pay him a visit.

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

That's all for now. We'll be back (and perhaps Spring will too) at the end of March. Do join us.
 BR>The Editors:

Yvonne Klein

Rebecca Nesvet

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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