30.5.16

JADE DRAGON MOUNTAIN, by Elsa Hart

For a debut novel - heck, for any novel - this is spectacular. Set flawlessly in Qing dynasty China (1708), exiled Imperial librarian Li Du comes to Dayan on the Tibetan border asking permission to pass through. His distant cousin, a pompous magistrate who is run by his secretary and his official hostess, oversees the province, long known to the ruling Manchus as a trouble spot. The Emperor will visit in six days to display his Son of Heaven moniker by predicting an eclipse of the sun. Guests arrive with spectacular gifts, among them a representative of Britain's East India Company, greedy for China's trade. Li Du meets a Jesuit priest, Father Pieter, an astronomer, one of the order of priests long influential in the country. Click below for more, but never a spoiler...

25.5.16

THE REDEEMER, by Jo Nesbo

6/series starring Oslo detective Harry Hole. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett. Another noirish snow-blown murder mystery, this one set in the world of the Norwegian Salvation Army. An assassination during a public concert brings Harry onto the scene where most clues have vanished. Tracking a single bullet links him to a killer based in the former Yugoslavia. Click below for more...

23.5.16

THURSDAY'S CHILD, by Nicci French

4/series, starring the one-and-only Freida Klein, London psychiatrist. Wow, Freida really throws a curve in this one! Pressured into consulting with the daughter of a long-ago classmate in a life she'd rather never re-enter, Frieda is drawn into a shocking duplication of a horrific incident in her teen years. The classmate's daughter, Becky Capel, is coping well with her recent trauma when the unexpected happens and Frieda must returns to her childhood town. And her mother, sure to be awarded Coldest Mother of the Century. Click her for more...but no spoiler...

EAT, DRINK, AND BE FROM MISSISSIPPI, by Nanci Kincaid

Truely Noonan and his older sister, Courtney, are brought up in blue collar, religious Hinds County, Miss, by "normal" parents. Court, always wayward and independent (depending on who's talking) flees to California to set her life on a new path. Truely never gave his life path much thought. Transported to the Bay Area by happenstance, the laid-back Truely has love affairs, finds a great business partner and makes lots of money, and stays close to his now-married sister. He seems to be an observer of his own life. Click below for more, but no spoiler...

THE GIRL WITH GHOST EYES, by M. H. Boroson

San Francisco's Chinatown in the late 1800s. Li-Lin, daughter of a Daoshan priest (tenth ordination), is a priest (third ordination) in her own right. Still-grieving widow of the exceptional young priest Rocket, she's also cursed with "ghost eyes":: the ability to clearly see the spirit world. Her stern and unloving father has exorcised her repeatedly to rid her of the eyes, to no avail. The Daoshan temple her father supervises keeps Chinatown safe from malevolent spirits. Click below for more...

20.5.16

SKELETON KEY, by Jane Haddam

16/series (now running to almost 30) starring retired FBI profiler Gregor Demarkian. With a supporting cast of Armenian-Americans, plus Bennis Hannaford, whom Gregor's afraid he loves. Bennis, visiting the very posh countryside of northwest Connecticut, pays a duty visit to haughty and cold-blooded Margaret Anson. Slipping out for a smoke, Bennis discovers the body of Kayla Anson, a young heiress and media darling, strangled. An area composed of tiny towns with few police stations (a "resident trooper" was the norm), Gregor is soon invited to consult. Click below for more...

A TRACE OF SMOKE, by Rebecca Cantrell

Berlin, 1931, just as the true menace of Hitler's cadres is revealing itself. Crime reporter Hannah Vogel views the wall of the Unidentified Dead in Berlin Police Headquarters, a grim wall with photos of bodies, and discovers her homosexual brother's. Fished out of the river, he had been murdered with a single knife-thrust to the heart. Ernst's blatant cross-dressing lifestyle was a target for unchecked, unpunished Nazi violence. Her investigation must be very subtle, particularly as an SS member has taken a personal interest in her. Click below for more...

18.5.16

WHY THE RIGHT WENT WRONG, by E. J. Dionne

"Why can't we all get along?" Or at least try. Politics today has become so poisonous that reviewing a well-known political book by a well-known political columnist and author is a form of blogocide. So be it. For any American interested in a history of the Tea Party's influence on conservative (Republican) policy, this book is a gold mine of information. All of it documented. It was published at the beginning of Donald Trump's rise, so his comments about that well-known figure are peripheral and brief. Click below for a bit more...

6.5.16

STATION ELEVEN, by Emily St. John Mandel

Post-apocalyptic doesn't get deeper or more complex or better written than this award-winning tour de force. On a theater stage in Toronto, King Lear - famous actor Arthur Leander - dies of a heart attack.The death is witnessed by a child actress, Kirsten Raymonde, who watches as an audience member tries CPR on the dead man. With what seems like a catastrophic event, an even more complete one is flying toward North America from Moscow. Click below for more...

WHO BURIES THE DEAD, by C. S. Harris

10/series set in Georgian England, starring Sebastian St. Cyr. Elegant writing, elegant plotting, elegant characters. For the devotee of a high-class historical murder mystery series with a magnificently troubled hero and a marvelous cast of high-profile supporting characters (including the Regent of England in all his piggy glory), this is the series for you. Sebastian St Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is now father of the adorable Simon and has two hostages to fortune: his son and his wife, Hero. Click below for more...

WHY KINGS CONFESS, by C. S. Harris

9/series with Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin. Set in London among the ton, St. Cyr and his new and very pregnant wife Hero, in this very intricate and satisfying Regency England/Napoleonic era murder mystery. Sebastian's good friend Dr. Paul Gibson literally stumbles across a Frenchwoman in a noisesome alley in one of London's slums; nearby is the body of a young French doctor whose body has been bizarrely mutilated. Click below for more...