23.4.15

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, by Richard Hawke

1/series. Semi-noir, grabs you from page one! Skillful plotting and fascinating characters make this debut novel an easy read. The Thanksgiving Macy's Parade is booming along Central Park when a gunman opens fire. Fritz Malone, PI, wandering back home with a bag of fresh bagels, gives chase into Central Park and, using a dead cop's gun, shoots the gunman. In the shoulder. Only an hour later, Malone - now in police custody - discovers the gunman is dead. But shoulder wounds don't kill...what's going on? Click below for more no-spoiler review...

THE LAST RUNAWAY, by Tracy Chevalier

1850 middle America. Emigrating from the gentle, cultivated, civilized hills of western England to the flat, forested, threatening plains of Ohio, young Quaker Honor Bright accompanies her betrothed sister to a new life. Honor has been jilted, and knows happiness in England is over; going with her sister is an impulsive decision. But the mere physical change in surroundings is nothing compared to the other changes the gentle, self-effacing Quaker must face, for Oberlin, Ohio is one of the major way-stations on the Underground Railroad, and she is soon swept into protecting runaway slaves trying to reach Canada and safety. This brings Honor and her new family into conflict; there's more to risk than just helping a runaway. Click here for more...

21.4.15

THE CHILDREN ACT, by Ian McEwan

Life happens while you're living your life and the things that happen often are so unexpected, so devastatingly unexpected, that you wonder whose life is this I'm living? Ever feel that way? (Ever wonder how I actually wrote that first sentence?) British High Court Judge Fiona Maye leads a responsible, high-pressure life. In spite of the ancient trappings - the Inns of Court, the panoply and the camaraderie of the profession - she works in a pressure cooker where lives are often at stake. A new case, an emergency, deal with an almost-eighteen boy with leukemia. A Jehovah's Witness, he has refused the transfusion that could save his life. Fiona must tread the delicate line between religious belief and the right of a minor as set forth in the Children Act. Click below for more...

QUEEN TAKES KING, by Gigi Levangie Grazer

Devotees of tales of the super-rich - in this case hyper-rich - will settle down with a box of bonbons and gobble this fast-paced Big Apple tale right up. Cynthia Hunsaker Power, ex-ballerina, patron of the arts, mother of lesbian (shhh!) Vivienne, wife of "The People's Billionaire" Jackson Power (world's largest fortune/ego, even including the Donald), throws a dazzling twenty-fifth anniversary party at the Waldorf. Jacks arrives late, sweeps his seething wife into the first dance, and they mug - with class - for the milling papparazzi. The next morning, the papers feature not only the dance shots, but a half-hour earlier shot of Jacks kissing his young, gorgeous mistress goodbye in front of her apartment. Click below for more...

17.4.15

CRASHED, by Timothy Hallinan

1/series. Ah, the joys of crooks-with-an-honest-heart (more or less). And from swinging from a chandelier while three dobes snarl below. And from finessing the whole thing. That's the life of Junior Bender, second story man to the stars, operating in Hollywood with a California kind of plot: very funny, improbable, entertaining, and believable enough to keep you reading. Junior, never caught (he started breaking into houses when he was 14) although he earns his income from burglary (hence his divorce), is being blackmailed by a lovely and icy-coldly calculating mobster's daughter, and he's got to steal a painting for her. Despite the dopes and the chandelier swings, and mission success (of a sort), the blackmail and the corrupt cop running it goes on. Click here for more...

15.4.15

THE LAST SIX MILLION SECONDS, by John Burdett

Probably one of the most perfect cases of a shoot-youself-in-the-foot treaty was the one Great Britain made with China: we'll turn over Hong Kong in one hundred years. And then, in an unparalleled catastrophe for the six million residences of the world's busiest and wealthiest port, they had to do it. (God knows what Margaret Thatcher's stomach looked like when she had to let it happen.) For the real residents of the Crown Colony, things were a lot worse: they had the government of Communist China - with its corrupt army, the largest crime organization on the planet - only six million seconds away. Click below for more...

14.4.15

MR. MAC AND ME, by Esther Freud

A beguiling first-person story set on the Suffolk coast of England at the beginning of World War One. Young Thomas Maggs, only surviving son of a public house (pub) owner who drinks more of his wares than he sells, treads a perpetually fine line between the brutality of his home life and the world outside. The war is young, and as they listen to the distant rumble of guns from across the Channel, everyone assumes it'll be over by Christmas. Into the placid, simple life of the town come two visitors from Scotland, artists, who rent a tumbledown shack and proceed to sketch away their days. Click below for more...

12.4.15

DREAMING SPIES, by Laurie R. King

13/series starring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Witty, entertaining, full of fascinating detail, and starring two characters who play off each other perfectly (with no clear winner). Delightful! This one features the fascinating Holmes/Russell duo on a cruise from India to California; half-way there, they meet the diminutive Japanese Haruki Sato. The young lady, it turns out, is a...no, if I tell you I give away a lot of the plot. Click here for more...

9.4.15

DEATH ON THE ELEVENTH HOLE, by J. M. Gregson

4/Lambert and Hook series. Golfers will be enthralled by this skillfully-plotted, sometimes subtly humorous murder mystery series set in England, and starring two police officers, the elegant Lambert and the duffer Hook. The action begins when Hook fluffs a shot and must go off the green, where he finds more than his lost ball. The body is that of a young woman, murdered and dumped in the woods. She'd been 'on the game' as the English say, and prime suspects include former clients, as well as the local drugs hierarchy, as she was dealing as well.  Click below for more...

TO KILL A WIFE, by J. M. Gregson

3/Inspector Peach series. If it can be said that someone "deserved" to be murdered, that person is the victim in this compelling novel of a man who decides his wife must go. Beautiful, seductive, promiscuous Verna Hume is the classic selfish bitch, completely uncaring of others, particularly her husband Martin. When Verna is found by Martin on their bed, strangled, he's the logical perpetrator. It's usually someone in the family, and it was common knowledge the couple didn't get along.  Click here for more...

6.4.15

BANGKOK HAUNTS, by John Burdett

Another wacky, graphic, multi-cultural romp through the underbelly of Bangkok, this is emphatically not for the reader of cozys or devotees of cupcake-baking sleuths. Devout Buddhist and cop Sonchai Jitpleecheep investigates a genuine snuff film with a victim he knew well. Far too well, actually. The former prostitute had mesmerized uncounted numbers of males, and he was one that fell hard while the victim worked at the brothel Sonchai and his mother owns. (I know, but read the novel and all will be made more or less clear; this is Thailand, after all) When Sonchai's superior, the awesomely corrupt Colonel Vikorn, gets into the act, things go off the rails, but not quite as far as Sonchai at first fears. Click below for more...