Sunday, July 27, 2014

Reading right now:

            Going back in time to read, “The Two Faces of January” by Patricia Highsmith. First introduced as a novel in 1964, the movie version will be released in the United States on August 28. Highsmith’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley” was made into a terrific movie so we’ll see if this one plays as well. “The Two Faces of January” centers on a con artist and his wife who become part of the investigation in the death of an Athens policeman. The two flee Athens in the company of an American student. The movie stars Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen and was directed by Hossein Amini. While Patricia Highsmith died in 1995, her books are still influencing our culture.  

On hold right now:

            “Dear Daughter” by Elizabeth Little. This is Elizabeth Little’s first book and has already received some glowing reviews. Janie Jenkins was rich and famous until she was convicted of murdering her Mother. Released after ten years, Jenkins is determined to find out what really happened the night her Mother died. Smart, damaged, and determined to find out the truth, Jenkins finds herself immersed in a small town’s secrets, as well as, her Mother’s secrets.

Other Mysterious Things:

            There are a few new authors that you may have missed this year. “The Disposables” by retired law enforcement officer David Putnam has been well reviewed. Putnam’s hero is a former cop who broke the law, ended up in jail, and is now out on parole trying to rebuild his life by helping save abused children who have been abandoned by the foster care system. The book is a nonstop action thriller and Putnam has been compared to Andrew Vachss and T. Jefferson Parker.

            Scott Graham moved from non-fiction to write his first mystery called “Canyon Sacrifice.” Graham’s series is called the National Park series and starts out at the Grand Canyon with his main character being Chuck Bender, an archaeologist. Bender finds that digging up the past often uncovers present day evils (in this case centering on kidnapping and murder). His novel has been called riveting and he has been compared to Tony Hillerman, Nevada Barr, and C.J. Box.

            Young lawyer and writer, Carrie La Seur’s first novel is being hailed as a mystery, a romance, a family saga, a novel of grief and recovery, and a novel that knows the importance of home, of memories, of human bonds, and secrets. “The Home Place” centers around Alma Terrebonne who becomes a lawyer after her parents die in a car accident. When her sister dies suddenly, Terrebonne returns home to Montana to endless complications which include her sister’s death being a murder, her ex-boyfriend pushing to resume their old relationship, and her sister’s daughter looking to her for protection. A suspenseful thriller that is full of a sense of both loss and hope, “The Home Place” would be a wonderful choice for a book group to discuss.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Reading!

            Summer could be a time to spread your wings and read something besides a mystery. There are some terrific books out there so here are some ideas from me and also look at the Los Angeles Times list of great summer reads which cover different genres!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Reading right now:

            “Cop Town” by Karin Slaughter. While Slaughter has been writing since she was a child growing up in Georgia, “Cop Town” is her first stand-along novel. Before this she has written two very successful series (Grant County series and the Will Trent series). For “Cop Town” she turns back the clock to 1974 in Atlanta when it was unusual for a woman to be on the force, but rookie Kate Murphy is determined to make it despite the pressure. After the brutal murder of a fellow cop, Murphy is teamed with Maggie Lawson. They both bring pain, fury, pride, and a determination to risk everything to bring in the man who killed another cop.

On hold right now:

            “Last to Know” by Elizabeth Adler. Detective Harry Jordan lives in a small town in Massachusetts, but works on the busy streets of Boston. Going home has always been a respite until he is out walking one evening and sees a house blow. A woman dies and Jordan gets involved in bringing in the murderer.

Other Mysterious Things:

            Here are five amazing new mysteries which you should read this summer. They are all either standalone or first in a new series.

            “The Case of the Black Pearl” by Lin Anderson is the first in a new series starring Patrick de Courvoisier. This Scottish author is famous for her series about forensic scientist Rhona Macleod. This new series revolves around Englishman Patrick de Courvoisier (a “Fixer”) who is asked to simply track down a missing movie star only to find the job much more complicated than he ever imagined.

            “Life Drawing” by Robin Black is a psychological thriller more than a pure mystery. It is just the kind of emotionally complex novel that makes for a good book club pick. When Owen and Augusta move to the country, they find their life and work interrupted by a new neighbor and the neighbor’s daughter. The neighbor’s daughter falls for Owen bringing tension and opening old wounds. The novel delves into the complexity of relationships and the pain of betrayal.

            “The White Magic Five and Dime” is a new paranormal mystery from Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Flaco. After her Mother dies, Alanis McLachlan inherits a new-age shop and her Mother’s clients from her tarot readings. Alanis finds she has a talent with the cards and with solving her Mother’s murder.

“All the Things You Are” by Declan Hughes. Irish writer Declan Hughes turns away from his Ed Loy series to write this standalone novel about Clare Taylor who comes home from a weekend away in Chicago to find her husband, her kids, and her furniture all gone. What’s left is the dead body of their dog and her husband’s childhood friend. Screenwriter Dwayne Alexander Smith’s new “Forty Acres” is his first book. In this provocative new book, attorney Martin Grey is asked to join a powerful group of wealthy black men when he discovers a deadly secret. These men are a secret society which wants to bring back slavery—with a twist for this time black men will be called “Master.” 

Have you joined your local library's Summer Reading Program yet? Lots of libraries have Summer Reading for adults as well as children.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reading right now:

            “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King. When Brady Hartfield drives his Mercedes into a crowd, he finds he likes to kill people and decides to try to take out thousands. After retired detective Bill Hodges receives a letter from Hartfield promising to become the greatest mass murderer of all time, Hodges’ boredom leads him to try to find Hartfield before he kills again. He assembles a group of volunteer helpers in order to find this evil man who enjoys killing. In his blog, Declan Burke recently wrote about King’s new book stating, “It’s a downbeat and occasionally unsettling tale. As with all great thrillers, however, it’s also compulsively readable and hugely entertaining.”

On hold right now:

            “Crime Always Pays” by Declan Burke. Declan Burke has finally written a sequel to “The Big O.” While it has taken six years for the book to be released in the U.S., the book picks up right after “The Big O” ended with the characters heading off to the Greek Islands. Burke’s books are dark and funny. They are also full of action from start to finish. He’s been called an Irish Elmore Leonard for good reason. While he has only written five novels, he hosts a really great website also called Crime Always Pays which is dedicated to Irish crime fiction.

Also try "Eight-ball Boogie."

Other Mysterious Things:

            We recently lost a terrific mystery author, C.J. Henderson who died July 4 from cancer at the youthful age of 62. He is known for his horror, hard hitting crime novels, and comic books. He has also written nonfiction including his well-known “The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies” which he wrote with William Shatner. On his Black Gate blog, John O’Neill wrote: “Personally, I only got to know him through my first publication, and he was an open and generous soul. He fought the disease all the way to the end, determined to make it out to future conventions to sell more books and meet more fans, and in his many emails to me he would discuss his fight, his deep love for his wife, and his passion for writing. CJ leaves a legacy filled with hard-boiled characters, ripping yarns, and good humor. He will be missed.”