Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reading right now:

            I just picked up “If You Can’t Stand the Heat” by Robin Allen. This is the first in the Poppy Markham, Culinary Cop series that came out in 2011. Last year she came out with the second book in the series, “Stick a Fork in It.” The books take place in Austin, Texas, with Poppy being the local public health inspector. The combination of murder and food always seems a good mix in a mystery. 

On hold right now:

            “The Light in the Ruins” by Chris Bohjalian. A serial killer is eliminating the members of an aristocratic family in Florence.       

Of Interest:

            Mystery authors have created some legendary detectives over the years including Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Lord Peter Wimsey, Miss Marple, Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen, Brother Cadfael, and Spenser. The list of famous detectives is long and varied and while the writers of many of these mysteries are long dead, the books continue to be read and are still great reads. There is an ever growing list of newly famous and popular detectives (police, PI, forensic investigators, etc.) in fiction: Alex Cross, Kay Scarpetta, Harry Bosch, Elvis Cole, Peter Decker, Kinsey Millhone, Dave Robicheaux, Lucas Davenport, Stone Barrington, Lincoln Rhyme, Jack Reacher, Chief Inspector Gamache, J. P. Beaumont, and on it goes. We’re all waiting for that new and unique character that will draw us in and demand our attention. Luckily for us as readers, mystery authors keep coming up with new and interesting ideas that keep us reading and engaged. It’s a great time to be a mystery reader. Any one of these authors debuting their new books this month could create the latest legend:

            Hank Steinberg’s “Out of Range”
            Ingrid Thoft’s “Loyalty”
            Pieter Aspe’s “The Square of Revenge”
            Elanor Dymott’s “Every Contact Leaves a Trace”

Other Mysteries of Interest:

            All those downloadable mystery TV series on Netflix are a fabulous way to waste a hot afternoon during the summer. Look for “Spiral,” “Jack Taylor,” “The Finder,” “Wallander,” “Luther,” “Longmire, ”The Fall,” “Copper,” “Wire in the Blood,” “The Glades,” and on it goes. You could take the whole summer off and get lost in a host of thrilling mysteries.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Reading right now:

Deeply Odd            “Deeply Odd” which is book six in Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series. If you’ve never read an Odd Thomas book, it may be time. Odd Thomas’ name was supposed to be Todd Thomas and would have been if it hadn’t been for the error on his birth certificate in which the “t” was left off and somehow “Odd” seemed to stick. I suppose that has something to do with the fact that he can see ghosts and solve crimes (even prevent them sometimes). I have read the whole series and found that some of the books are much better than others, but somehow the humor and humanity that shines through in the Odd Thomas character is compelling and sweet.   

On hold right now:

            Lauren Beukes’ “The Shining Girls.” A serial killer can travel through time to find the perfect victims. Unfortunately for him, one of his intended victims survives and goes on the hunt to stop him. Beukes is a South African writer who is currently adapting one of her books, “Zoo City,” into a screenplay. Beukes setting for “The Shining Girls” is Chicago where she lived at one time and which she found to be a bright, shining city.       

Of Interest:

            There are more and more mysteries which involve the paranormal. Once upon a time these books might have been called “gothic” novels, but are now broader in scope and include ghosts, vampires, zombies, werewolves, and all forms of magical creatures. It seems to be a growing market and many of them are really great fun to read. In this blog I have already mentioned several that I enjoy and here are some more to consider:

            Seth Patrick’s “Reviver” which revolves around a forensics officer who can revive the dead.

            S. G. Browne’s “Lucky Bastard.” A San Francisco PI who can steal people’s luck.

            Ben Aaronovitch’s “Whispers Underground” is the third book in this series of murder and magic. Start with “Midnight Riot” and “Moon Over Soho.” Aaronovitch is one of the Doctor Who writers.

            Others to try include: Madelyn Alt, Charlaine Harris, Victoria Laurie, Shirley Damsgaard, Ilona Andrews, Heather Graham, Karen Marie Moning, Yasmine Galenorn, Christine Feehan, Kat Richardson, Nancy Atherton, C. E. Murphy, and I’m sure I’ll be mentioning many more.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reading right now:

            I am stuck with a wealth of books since three holds from my library came in on the same day. I’m already reading “Silken Prey” by John Sandford. This is book 23 in the Lucas Davenport series in which Davenport becomes involved in a web of political intrigue and murder. Tons of interesting things go on in this novel, but I think the story could have been tightened up a bit to keep it from dragging--overall still worth reading.

          As soon as I finish the Sandford book, I am planning to start the new Jeffery Deaver book “Kill Room.” This is the 10th novel in the Lincoln Rhyme series. It has been three years since the last Lincoln Rhyme book so I am really looking forward the latest. If you haven’t read the books, you may have seen the movie “The Bone Collector” which was the title of the first book in the series.

            “Choke Point” by Ridley Pearson and “Bad Monkey” by Carl Hiaasen are the other two books which are now waiting for me to get started on them. “Bad Monkey” sounds both funny and complicated and involves a policeman and murder. Pearson’s “Choke Point” revolves around an attempt by a private security firm called Rutherford Risk to destroy an Amsterdam-based sweatshop that enslaves young girls.
                                           At the Camarillo Library! Camarillo, CA.

On hold right now:

            “Joyland” by Stephen King is a mystery about a young man named Devon Jones who gets a job at Joyland, an amusement park in North Carolina, and becomes involved in the murder of a woman in the Funhouse. “Joyland” is a mystery novel, love story, and coming-of-age story with a ghostly side. It sounds like great summer reading fun.

Of Interest:

            If you haven’t seen the “Jack Reacher” movie yet, you might enjoy it on DVD. It was actually worth watching—full of action. Book 18 of the Jack Reacher mystery series is coming out Sept., 2013 and is called “Never Go Back” by Lee Child.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reading right now:

            Loren D. Estleman’s “Alive!” This is the third book in the Valentino mystery series. Valentino is a film archivist who once more gets himself in hot water by trying to uncover Bela Lugosi’s screen test for “Frankenstein.” It seems that there are others trying to find the screen test and some are willing to kill to get it. Estleman has written 70 books and won a ton of awards.

On hold right now?

            Ridley Pearson’s “Choke Point.” This is the second in a series which revolves around a private security firm called Rutherford Risk and its two hired guns: Grace Chu, a forensic expert, and John Knox, a combat vet. In “Choke Point,” they are hired to find and shut down a sweatshop in Amsterdam which enslaves young girls as laborers. Pearson was once a singer/songwriter in a rock band. Now he writes exciting adventure books for adults and some great ones for kids too.

Other Mysteries of Interest:

            Scott Britz-Cunningham’s “Code White” and Christoph Spielberg’s “The Russian Donation” are new medical thrillers recently available. While Robin Cook and Michael Palmer are two of the best known writers of medical thrillers and two who are still writing traditional medical thrillers, most of the new mysteries that revolve around medical issues tend to be forensic in nature. If you like a little medicine (either forensic or other) in your thriller try these books: Colin Cotterill’s series starring Dr. Siri Paiboun who is a coroner, many of  Daniel Kalla’s books are medical in nature including “Blood Lies,” Gil Snider’s “Brain Warp,”  and Steven F. Havil’s series with Dr. Thomas Parks which starts with “Race for the Dying.” Everyone knows about Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritson, and Patricia Cornwell’s forensic thrillers, but there is also the Eisenmenger-Flemming forensic series by Keith McCarthy (which started with “A Feast of Carrion,” Jefferson Bass has written the Body Farm series,  Alex Grecian is writing the Murder Squad series with “The Yard” being the first in the series which includes a forensic pathologist Dr. Bernard Kingsley, Benjamin Black’s Quirke series with Quirke running the Pathology Department (“Christine Falls” was the first in the series), Peter May’s Enzo files series, and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Reading right now:

David Freed. “Fangs Out.”  This is the second book in the Cordell Logan series. The first book was “Flat Spin” which came out in 2012. Retired military assassin Cordell Logan is hired to find the real killer of the daughter of retired war hero Hub Walker. The convicted killer claims that a friend of Hub’s actually did the killing. When Logan starts digging for answers, his life is threatened and he realizes there is a puzzle to be solved. This new thriller is full of action and interesting characters.

On hold right now:

Alex Kava. “Stranded.” In this11th  book in the series, FBI agent Maggie O’Dell hunts for a madman who picks up and murders young women at highway rest stops. This is a great series. 

Other Mysterious things:

The new season of “Longmire” just got started on A&E. It’s a great series and actor Robert Taylor is wonderful as Sheriff Walt Longmire. This series is based on Craig Johnson’s mystery series. The ninth book in the series is available in June, 2013 (“A Serpent’s Tooth”).

Great forthcoming books for June:

Ace Atkins. “The Broken Places.” In the third mystery featuring Sheriff Quinn Colson, an infamous murderer newly released from prison claims he has been saved and has repented of his sins, but the victim’s family and his accomplices don’t believe him.

S.J. Bolton. “Like This, For Ever (or Lost.)” In this English police procedural, Lacey Flint is on leave from the London police, but when a serial killer targets young boys draining their bodies of blood and leaving them on the Thames beach, she is drawn back on the job, and the stakes become higher when her young neighbor could be the killer’s next victim.

Sara Gran. “Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway.” When Private Detective Claire De Witt’s musician ex-boyfriend is found dead in San Francisco, she knows it isn’t a simple robbery so she follows the clues to unravel a much more complicated story. This is the second novel in the series with Claire who uses her dreams, omens, and mind-expanding herbs to solve cases, while relying on a book published by French detective Jacques Silette for inspiration.

Debut novels:

If you are looking for new authors, these three are bringing out their debut novels in June:

Royce Prouty. “Stoker’s Manuscript.”  Hired to authenticate and purchase the original manuscript for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley travels to Romania, where he is held captive by a descendent of Vlad Dracul. To order to earn his freedom, Barkeley is forced to decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of “Dracula.”

Karen Keskinen. “Blood Orange.”  The first in this promising series introduces Santa Barbara PI Jaymie Zarlin who is hired to find the murderer of a teenaged girl, killed during the solstice festival. Zarlin quickly comes up against some of the city’s most powerful families.

Edith Maxwell.” A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die.” An organic farmer in Massachusetts is forced to fire an employee, only to find him stabbed to death with a pitchfork. This is the first in a series which looks to share lots of organic gardening tips.