Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Reading right now:

            G. M. Ford’s “Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?” which is the first book in his Leo Waterman series. Waterman is a PI in Seattle who tries to help an elderly mobster’s granddaughter, but only finds trouble. I’m about half way through and really enjoying the Waterman character and the Seattle location. This is a series that has been around for a while, but I just hadn’t read it. Since I like it, I may have to continue on with the other six books that he’s written so far in the series.

On hold right now:

            “Let Me Go” by Chelsea Cain is her sixth novel in the Archie and Gretchen series. This unusual series centers on Portland Detective Archie Sheridan and his arch nemesis serial killer Gretchen Lowell. Cain’s other books have been fantastic and I’m looking forward to the latest. It is always interesting to see how Gretchen is dragged back into Archie’s life in each novel.

Other Mysterious things:

            With all the fires burning right now in the western United States, it’s easy to worry about the safety of those fighting the fires and the devastation left behind. Several mystery writers have chosen to write about fire fighters, arson investigators, etc. Suzanne Chazin wrote a three part series about New York rookie fire marshal Georgia Skeeham (“The Fourth Angel” is the first book in the series). While Earl Emerson is a writer, he is also a lieutenant in the Seattle Fire Department. Emerson has written many mysteries including a series starring Mac Fontana an arson investigator in Staircase, Washington. Shelly Reuben’s early books included two about fires where a retired fire marshal is called in to help solve the mystery (“Origin & Cause” and “Spent Matches”). Nancy Baker Jacob writes about arson investigator Susan Delancey in “Flash Point.” Doug Corleone’s “Night on Fire” is worth the read. Dave Hugelschaffer has a firefighter series (main character Porter Cassel, see “Day Into Night”). Linda Bingham’s series centers around Houston arson investigator John Bolt (start with “Up in Flames”). Finally don’t miss Kurt Kamm’s books about firefighters.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard’s death on August 20, 2013, is a great loss to mystery lovers. His writing continued to get better as he got older and we all hoped he had many more novels in him. “Blue Dreams” is scheduled to come out in 2014. He started writing in 1949 when he got a job with an ad agency and wrote western stories on the side. He liked western movies and wanted his stories to become movies which happened when “3:10 to Yuma” was produced. In 1984, his novel “LaBrava” was presented the best novel of the year award by the Mystery Writers of America. By 1985, he was a bestselling novelist and suddenly touted as “the greatest living crime writer.” Many awards followed and many movies including “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight” (take a look at lists online of his influence in TV as well). It’s a great time to read or re-read one of his books as a tribute. Any of his books would be a good choice, but you can’t go wrong reading “Road Dogs” and/or “Get Shorty.”

Leonard was 87 when he died having been born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1925 and at his death considered Michigan home. He served in the military and went to college afterwards. He graduated from the University of Detroit majoring in English and Philosophy. He married in 1949 and raised five children.

Reading right now:

            Sophie Hannah’s “Kind of Cruel.” It’s bad enough that she can’t sleep, but when Amber Hewerdine talks about “Kind, cruel, kind of cruel” under hypnosis, she finds herself arrested for the brutal murder of a woman she’s never heard of in her life. This is an unusual puzzle and I can’t wait to find out what really happened. Hannah is an award winning British poet who also writes amazing mysteries.

On hold right now:

            “Family Business” by Michael Z. Lewin. Nominated for the Edgar award three times (and won twice), Lewin is an American mystery writer living in England whom I’ve missed and decided to start reading. His Lunghi family series starts with “Family Business,” continues with “Family Planning,” and “Family Way.” Lewin started this series in 1995 and the last one came out in 2011. The series is about several generations of the Lunghis family who run a detective agency in Bath, England.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reading right now:

            David Wellington started his career online. He also got his Master’s degree in Library Science! He is well-known for his horror, but his latest is a thriller series. “Chimera” revolves around a vet who was in Afghanistan and is now called upon to defeat a group of men carrying a deadly virus and who display superhuman speed and strength.

On hold right now:

            Paul Doiron’s latest (“Massacre Pond”) is the fourth in his Mike Bowditch mystery series. The first book in the series was “The Poacher’s Son” which was a nominee for the Anthony Awards first novel category.

            Doiron is all about Maine! He publishes a magazine about Maine, he is a registered Maine Guide, and lives in coastal Maine. His main character, Mike Bowditch, is a Game Warden in (surprisingly) Maine. Bowditch’s latest case starts with the slaughter of five moose and escalates to the murder of the daughter of an animal rights activist.
“More wisdom is contained in the best
crime fiction than in philosophy.” --Wittgenstein
New (or sorta new) Mysterious things:

            I’ve been wondering lately if there are trends afoot on the mystery scene. At one time serial killers were all the rage and every mystery you picked up was a serial killer novel. Now it seems like everyone is solving murders: antique dealers, bookstore owners, housewives, doctors, lawyers, and even some cops. Mysteries are popular and authors are looking in every possible direction in order to find a new idea. More and more mysteries have a paranormal element. Dozens of authors from countries all over the world (Sweden, England, Ireland, etc.) are finding readers in the U.S.

If you are interested in the topic, “The Millennial Detective: Essays on Trends in Crime Fiction, Film, and Television. 1990-2010” by Malcah Effron might be of interest. The book is a collection of ten essays examining trends in crime fiction. If you are hardcore, you can also read Rebecca Martin’s “Crime and Detective Fiction” which examines the development of detective fiction. Coming out in October “Philosophies of Crime Fiction” by Josef Hoffmann is “a considered analysis of the philosophical ideas to be found in crime literature, both hidden and explicit. Josef Hoffmann ranges expertly across influences and inspirations in crime writing with a stellar cast including Conan Doyle, G K Chesterton, Dashiell Hammett, Albert Camus, Borges, Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler. Hoffmann examines why crime literature may provide stronger consolation for readers than philosophy. In so doing, he demonstrates the truth of Wittgenstein's claim that more wisdom is contained in the best crime fiction than in philosophy.” Or, even easier, just read some more mysteries and find out for yourself what is trending and why.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Reading right now:

            “If You Were Here” by Alafair Burke. Alafair Burke has been writing thrillers for about ten years and as the daughter of James Lee Burke seems to come by her talent naturally. “If You Were Here” revolves around Manhattan journalist McKenna Jordan whose friend Susan disappeared a decade earlier. Seeing a photo of a woman who looks like Susan sends McKenna on what turns out to be a dangerous search for her missing friend.

On hold right now:

            Faye Kellerman’s new book “Beast.” The latest installment in the series revolving around LAPD Detective Peter Decker. When reclusive elderly billionaire Hobart Penny is found dead in his apartment, the police think that his pet tiger killed him, but soon discover that the “Beast” is probably all too human.

New (or sorta new) Authors:

            It is difficult sometimes to start reading a new author. I know I’m so busy just trying to keep up with authors I already know and enjoy that it’s hard to commit to a new author. It’s worth it to try someone new once in a while to try to find someone new to love and look forward to.

            Daniel Friedman has only written one book in his new Buck Schatz series, but that book called “Don’t Ever Get Old” received a nomination for best first novel from the 2013 Edgar Awards. His second book in the series called “Don’t Ever Look Back” comes out in 2014. James Henry is the author of the Jack Frost series with two so far (“First Frost” and “Fatal Frost”) and the third coming out soon (“Morning Frost”). Jon McGoran’s “Drift” is his one and only book, but it is one that was called a compelling thriller.