Smokey the Cat
Ashley Weaver

Sixty seconds with Ashley Weaver...

ASHLEY WEAVER is the Technical Services Coordinator at the Allen Parish Libraries in Oberlin, Louisiana. Weaver has worked in libraries since she was 14; she was a page and then a clerk before obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State University. She is the author of Murder at the Brightwell, Death Wears a Mask, and A Most Novel Revenge. Weaver lives in Oakdale, Louisiana.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Weaver: A writer and librarian whose 5 favorite things are, in no particular order: books, coffee, Christmas, the ocean, and winning (especially at board games).

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

Weaver: It would probably have to be a Christmas album, but I donít know which one Iíd choose!

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

Weaver: I wanted to be an archaeologist, marine biologist, geologist, teacher, librarian, and writer. I guess checking two off the list is a good start!

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January 07, 2017

And here we are, at the beginning of a new year. We hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and are now settling nicely into keeping their New Year's resolutions. If among them was the commitment to read more crime, then here are some suggestions to help you on your way.

We start off with a group of police procedurals. Jack Parablane is back in Christopher Brookmyre's BLACK WIDOW, trying to revive his failing career. I liked it very much. THE TRESPASSER is the sixth in Tana French's Murder Squad series and wins Jim Napier's hearty endorsement. Readers of translated works can rarely be certain of reading them in the order in which they were produced, a problem when it comes to writers like Anne Holt, who is as interested in the unfolding of her protagonist's biography as she is in the crimes she solves. Barbara Fister says that some past confusion is relieved with the appearance of BEYOND THE TRUTH, number 7 in the series, but published after 1222, the 8th. In any event, this one contains Holt's characteristic complicated plotting with the equally complex private life of Hanne Wilhelmsen.

There are two very different historicals to consider this time around. Meredith Frazier found Mary Lawrence's DEATH AT ST. VEDAST a thoroughly satisfying mystery set in 16th century London and one with an attractive protagonist in alchemist Bianca Goddard. Though sometimes compared to Phryne Fisher, Dandy Gilver is a different woman altogether and I enjoyed her recent appearance in Catriona McPherson's THE REEK OF RED HERRINGS, both for its wit and its fascinating glimpse of life in a Scottish fishing village in 1930.

Small towns and villages have always been centres of crime, at least in fiction. Pressed to read Anne Emery, a Nova Scotia writer, by a friend, Susan Hoover took up LAMENT FOR BONNIE, set in Cape Breton, which she found a bit bewildering as it comes tenth in the series, but intriguing enough to send her off to the first one. Barry Maitland's ASH ISLAND, set in small-town Australia, disappointed Anne Corey due to its lack of focus, but Diana Borse was very happy with AN UNSETTLING CRIME FOR SAMUEL CRADDOCK, by Terry Shames, thanks to Shames' "keen sense of goodness and character," and her understanding of small-town life. PJ Coldren also enjoyed Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli's handling of the dynamics of small-town existence in SHE STOPPED FOR DEATH, the second in her Little Library series. And for pure comfort reading, Nicole Leclerc says you can't go wrong with Mma Ramotswe and her #1 Ladies Detective Agency. PRECIOUS AND GRACE by Alexander McCall Smith is the latest in the series.

Switching gears is what Diana Borse had to do to keep up with the ins and outs of Joanne Harris' DIFFERENT CLASS, psychological suspense thriller set in a British boys' school. She says it was worth the effort.

On the much darker end of the spectrum, we have BRONX REQUIEM by John Clarkson, an urban noir thriller featuring a vigilante group of ex-cons dedicated to bringing down gangs in the Bronx, especially those preying on girls and women. Susan Hoover says it seems wrong to be rooting for a group of men who specialize in mayhem and murder, but then again, who else are you going to support in the Bronx? Another urban novel is the technically tricky FICKLE, told as the blog of a woman writing about noir fiction but who may possibly be involved in the crime she witnessed. Christine Zibas was disappointed with an unnecessary epilogue, but on the whole found this well worth reading.

Sharon Mensing thought THE MARRIAGE LIE rather lightweight but certainly an acceptable way to entertain oneself for a few hours. And PJ Coldren found it next-to-impossible to suspend disbelief in the set-up of the first book in Molly MacRae's new cosy series. PLAID AND PLAGIARISM has a group of women, few of them Scots, taking over a bookstore, teashop, and B and B in a Scottish village. If you ignore the improbabilities, however, says PJ, the rest of the book works just fine

Our guest in the "Sixty Seconds With..." spot this week is Ashley Weaver. You can find her answers to our questions in the box to your left.

And since this is the first issue of the new year, we repeat our usual year-end lists in the box below, where you find my favourite books of 2016 and our reviewers' favourite reviews for the year.

Don't forget to check out what's going on in UK crime. CRIMEREVIEW has much to report.

RTE is slowing down for the winter, so we will appear only once in February and March. Look for us on the eleventh of each month. After that, we hope to resume normal service.

Finally and belatedly, a very Happy New Year to you all.


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.

Recent Reviews:

We have thousands of reviews archived on this site. Use the form below to search by title, author's name, or keyword (e.g., noir, cozy, PI, female, thriller, gay, cats).



Yvonne's Favourites for 2016

THE WONDER. Emma Donoghue


THE WRONG GIRL. Laura Wilson

ASHES OF LONDON. Andrew Taylor

REAL TIGERS. Mick Herron




THE WIDOW. Fiona Barton

WITHOUT THE MOON. Cathi Unsworth

The Reviewers' Favourite Reviews

Susan Hoover

My favorite book and review was BURN WHAT WILL BURN by CB McKenzie. I loved the setting by the swampy river in Louisiana, I loved Bob Reynolds who was drinking himself to death and the rest of the characters. And what I loved about writing the review was capturing the atmosphere of that very atmospheric place. The floating dead bodies were fun to write about as well. It makes me ask myself what is wrong with me that I love this dark and kind of depressing book best? Why not sweet Louise Penny and three Pines? Just plain too Canadian, I guess.

Lourdes Venard

I thoroughly enjoyed STRANGE THINGS DONE by Elle Wild. It always feels like a great discovery to read a debut novel that hooks you from the very start and doesn't let up. Wild's first novel does that. I also love books with a strong setting; this one is set in Dawson City, Yukon, a desolate, cold place that traps its residents in town each winter. I wouldn't want to live there, but it was great visiting.

Jim Napier

COFFIN ROAD bridges the gap between Scandinavian Noir and traditional British crime dramas, drawing on the barren landscape of the Scottish Islands for their power, yet fashioning an original narrative that is very much of our time and place. It would be a captivating tale if its plot revolved only around the main storyline.... But there are uncharted depths here involving sub-plots and enigmas galore, to beguile the reader into pressing on.

Meredith Frazier

It's always hard to pick just one favorite review, but I think I'll go with THE NINJA'S DAUGHTER by Susan Spann. Both time and place of the setting are very unfamiliar to me, which added to the fun of reading the book, and the characters were delightful.

Anne Corey

My favorite review of the year was of Lee Child's NIGHT SCHOOL because this book, which is about an adventure in Jack Reacher's past, gave me real hope that Child can successfully continue this thriller series by mining the younger days of his rapidly aging protagonist.

Rebecca Nesvet

My favorite review covered THE WHITE MIRROR. This novel was not only a good mystery, but it took place in a place that I've actually visited: the area of modern China's Yunnan-Tibet Highway. (So does the first novel in the series, Jade Dragon Mountain.) Elsa Hart captured much of the incredible beauty of Yunnan and Lhasa's mountains and waterways.

Diana Borse

Different Class by Joanne Harris. I believe that I will call this review my favorite of the reviews I worked on in 2016 because the book pulled me so far out of my comfort zone and demanded so much effort for me to handle as a reviewer -- the review is chatty, but I am pleased with it.

Contact: Yvonne Klein (

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