26.6.15

WHAT DARKNESS BRINGS, by C. S. Harris

8/series starring Sebastian St. Cyr. Regency murder mystery series can't possibly get any better than this. Newly-wed St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, copes with personal tragedy as an old Army friend dies. Then the husband of his former lover is put into Newgate Prison after he's found crouched over the body of a notoriously eccentric art dealer. The magistrate in charge, who thinks a brace of felons hanged is a good prelude to breakfast, has no interest in investigating the murder: the dashing Russell Yates was there and he will be tried and hung. Click below for more...

LIFE OR DEATH, by Michael Robotham

In a delicious departure from his England-based Joe O'Loughlin and Vincent Ruiz thrillers, this intricate tale follows Audie Palmer, who inexplicably breaks out of a Texas prison one day before he's due to be released. During his ten years inside, he'd been repeated attacked, and survived in part because of Moss, the lifer in the next cell. Reputed to be part of a crew who heisted seven million dollars in untraceable cash, during the following shootout Audie was shot in the head, spending months in a coma before his trial. Click below for more...

20.6.15

LOVE MY RIFLE MORE THAN YOU, by Kayla Williams

Subtitled Young and Female in the U. S. Army, this forthright book will alternately charm and horrify you. Women make up roughly 15% of the Army, long a bastion of the testosterone-bathed life, and female's adjustments to the highly-charged life are detailed here with honesty and clarity. Williams - who trained as an Arabic linguist - was in the Army for five years, one of them deployed in Iraq, and her experiences range from ridiculously funny to appallingly gruesome. (That period alone will make you wonder how any army manages to win anything.) Click below for more...

18.6.15

HERO, by Michael Korda

"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." That's no doubt a paraphrase but it is nonetheless true. One has only to look at the unholy mess the Near East has become to see the truth of it. This biography of Lawrence of Arabia, the brilliant but erratic Irish-born lover of all things Arabic, is as germane today as it was when Lawrence became legend, in the tumultuous era beginning during the Great War. One hundred years ago today, Arabia was an unformed, borderless  melange of petty fiefdoms, squabbling tribes, devious and bloodthirsty warlords, all of it nominally "owned" by the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Everything was up for grabs, and the primary powers - England, France, Russia - were maneuvering madly to keep the area out of the war. Click below for more...

16.6.15

THE TURKISH GAMBIT, by Boris Akunin

3/series, translated from the Russian, starring Erast Fandorin. In 1877, the Russian bear took on the Ottoman Empire in a war for control of as much Ottoman territory as the bear could gobble. But it may be that the bear has bitten off far more than it can chew; the despised Turks are far better soldiers than advertised. And, their espionage service is far better than Russia's. Fandorin, posted to the front lines in present-day Rumania, meets the beautiful Varvara Suvorova, who has disguised herself as a boy to follow her fiance to the front.  Click below for more...

SEASON OF STORMS, by Susanna Kearsley

An enormous villa perched among aristocratic gardens high above Lago del Garda, Italy. A creative, mysterious, long-dead owner, who was a womanizer, a poet and a playwright. The legacy of an actress who mysteriously vanished from the villa, her room now reputed to be haunted. Now, Celia Sands, 22, uses another name than her grandmother's for her own acting career. Agreeing to go to Italy, to re-enact on site the play specifically written for her grandmother, in the theater built for her by her lover, Celia finds not only her grandmother's pictures everywhere, but the handsome, mysterious grandson of the long-ago playwright/lover. Click below for more...

7.6.15

THE JEWELS OF PARADISE, by Donna Leon

This is not part of the Commisario Brunetti series, this is a stand-alone set in contemporary Venice. It is, however, something of a mystery, and follows the painstaking research of Caterina Pellegrini, who has left an unsatisfying job in England and returned to her birth city for a short-term commission. Two ancient trunks have been found, and may contain clues as to a legendary treasure. All Venetian families of any age apparently have family treasure legends, and the two distantly-related men who have laid claim to the trunks' contents don't trust each other enough to work in tandem. Caterina, a music historian, will document and analyze the contents, overseen by the handsome, polished lawyer Andrea Morelli. Click below for more...

PATSY'S ITALIAN FAMILY COOKBOOK, by Sal Scognamillo

That's Sal, grandson of founder Pasquale (Patsy), friend to Frank Sinatra and other celebs, to your left. I know, you have a lot of tried-and-true recipes for good Italian food. But these recipes, although many will be familiar, are written in such a way as to make you a confident cook that is almost guaranteed to produce a stellar meal. This would make a great present for a novice cook. Patsy's Italian Restaurant, home to many stars of stage and screen, has operated at their West Fifty-Sixth (near Broadway) since 1944, when the author's grandfather began producing Neapolitan specialties.
Click below for more...

4.6.15

LONG WAY DOWN, by Michael Sears

3/series with former stock broker and ex-con Jason Stafford, and his autistic son The Kid. Turning to numbers, which he knows best, Stafford now investigates fiduciary irregularities. But that's just for starters. His assignments usually involve skulduggery, and this one is rather garden variety: owner of a business has been accused by the SEC of insider trading. Stafford's take: maybe yes, maybe no. He goes to see the businessman, genetic scientist Philip Haley. The man's not likeable, but that doesn't mean he's a criminal. Or does it? Click here for more...

1.6.15

WEST OF SUNSET, By Stewart O'Nan

Once again, Stewart O'Nan has tapped into the times and emotions of an epic moment in America's  cultural history. In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald, anxious to re-establish himself as a screenwriter, has picked a venue designed to shred people's souls: Hollywood. They're all there in this hard-drinking, high-living tale: Bogie and Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Sam Goldwyn, all the legends we watch on TNT and movie festivals. To add to Fitzgerals's distraction, his wife Zelda is still trying to get it together in an expensive North Carolina sanitarium, and his daughter Scottie is growing up too fast at an East Coast boarding school. Click below for more...

THE COUNTERFEIT HEIRESS, by Tasha Alexander

9/series starring the lovely Lady Emily and her dishy husband Colin Hargreaves. A costume ball at the Duchess of Devonshire's London townhouse is spiced with the appearance of a world-traveling French heiress, Estella Lamar. But Lady Emily's friend, once close to the heiress, exposes the woman as an impostor. When the woman, revealed to be an actress, is found murdered later that evening, Lady Emily and her husband set out to discover why she was impersonating the reclusive heiress. Click below for more...