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June 27, 2015
In a week marked by a horrifying crime and a remarkably enlightened Supreme Court decision, many of you in the United States may have been reading the papers or watching the news rather than enjoying fictional crime. Still, the Summer Solstice also happened a week ago, so summer is well and truly here and summer is when we all do our most extensive recreational reading. This is what we've been at recently.
The most recent entry in what is shaping up as the GONE GIRL/GIRL ON A TRAIN stake race, DISCLAIMER, by UK first-novelist Renée Knight, promises well but did not, I thought, live up to the pre-publication publicity. On the other hand, veteran author Joseph Finder's THE FIXER is a thriller filled with non-stop suspense, says Anne Corey.
We have several somewhat unconventional approaches to the historical mystery this week. Christine Zibas enjoyed Ed Ifkovic's CAFÉ EUROPA, in which Edna Ferber, of all people, spends some time and solves a murder in 1914 Budapest. Another writer features in THE LAST BOOKANEER, by Matthew Pearl, in which the dying Robert Louis Stevenson is targeted by literary pirates. Ben Neal can recommend this one. No writers in Alex Grecian's THE HARVEST MAN, but Jack the Ripper's still at it and even scarier is the new serial killer of the title, which is the fourth in the Murder Squad series. Meredith Frazier says it stands firmly on its own two feet and can be enjoyed without having read the previous entries. INNOCENCE, by Heda Margolius Kovály, is not, strictly speaking, an historical mystery, but this first English publication of a Czech original from 1985 indicates the unexpected relevance of American noir to Communist Czechoslovakia in 1952.
While some people take out that old copy of War and Peace or Finnegans Wake, swearing to finish it this time, most of us turn to lighter fare in the warm weather. Two books that their reviewers liked are difficult to describe but enjoyable to read. THE ONLY WORDS THAT ARE WORTH REMEMBERING by Jeffrey Rotter, set some time in the future is, says PJ Coldren, simultaneously bizarre and wonderful, "one hell of a read for those with a mind for the gloriously warped." Likewise, Colin Cotterill's series featuring Dr Siri in 1970s Laos is virtually impossible to describe adequately in a sentence, but Barbara Fister recommends the latest episode, SIX AND A HALF DEADLY SINS, without reservation. And those who enjoy Siri's Laotian ghosts can expand their experience of the "uncanny" in the appropriately entitled THE UNCANNY READER, edited by Marjorie Sandor. Rebecca Nesvet applauds this "time-spanning, global anthology."
There are ghosts and a ghost story in Jim Ruland's FOREST OF FORTUNE too, not to speak of a lot of drugs and alcohol. Meredith Frazier says the book is like a quick tumble down Alice's rabbit hole, and one she found fascinating. Peter Bowen's BITTER CREEK also involves Native Americans and ghosts of the past, but PJ Coldren felt it did not quite live up to its promise.
Sharon Mensing says not having read the previous four in Mark Pryor's Hugo Marston series ought not deter you from starting with THE RELUCTANT MATADOR as you will probably be prompted to go back to read the earlier books in what she says is a great series. Lourdes Venard, however, felt that Lisa Scottoline's EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES was not really up to her best work but said that it perhaps was not well-adapted to the audio format.
What would summer be without cosies? You needn't answer, but we have two this week - Rita Mae Brown's TAIL GATE, marking the 24th appearance of Sneaky Pie Brown and reviewed by Caryn St Clair. Cathy Ace is back with THE CORPSE WITH THE SAPPHIRE EYES and Diana Borse was unimpressed.
Rita Mae Brown is our guest in the "Sixty Seconds with..." interview over to your left. Do check it out.
If you want to read more about what's happening in British crime, take a look at CRIMEREVIEW where our former colleagues can help.
We are following a relaxed schedule over the summer, so we'll be back only in three weeks, on July 18th. Mark your calendar and come back to see us then. In the meantime, enjoy the summer, feet up and book in hand. A gin and tonic wouldn't hurt either.
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