Merry Mystery Christmas!

We’re wishing everyone MERRY mysteries this year.

There’s plenty of mysteries and crime fiction to choose from., but here are four off the top of our list

We always start our shopping at SOHO CRIME  — this  imprint publishes some of the best mystery writers around, including Cara Black, James R. Benn, Francine Mathews, and  Peter Lovesey, to name a few.

Lovesey, of course, is best known for his stellar Peter Diamond series, and boy we’re in luck because his latest is Beau Death  which launches Dec. 5th. (Looking forward to reviewing it in 2018. That’s a hint to Paul Oliver!)

Lovesey has also contributed  to a delightful new anthology, THE USUAL SANTAS featuring holiday-themed tales by Helene Tursten, Mick Herron, Martin Limón, Timothy Hallinan, Teresa Dovalpage, Mette Ivie Harrison, Colin Cotterill, Ed Lin, Stuart Neville, Tod Goldberg, Henry Chang, James R. Benn, Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis, Sujata Massey, Gary Corby, Cara Black, Stephanie Barron. There’s also a  forward by Peter Lovesey. Lots of goodies in here, and one of our faves is Mick Herron‘s “The Usual Santas.” Set in a fashionable  mall in the UK on Christmas Eve, 8 Santas are  gathered in celebration of their gig’s end, when they suddenly realize there’s a mysterious ninth Santa among them.

 

Next stop is MINOTAUR BOOKS — .another hot mystery publisher which, this year, gifted us with Jane Casey’s LET THE DEAD SPEAK —  the latest in her Maeve Kerrigan series.

A richly plotted  thriller with wicked twists, this novel has  a drop-dead ending that will haunt you long after reading. Maeve is a character who lives and breathes,  thanks to Casey’s mastery.  Beyond  the carefully layered suspense, he relationship between Kerrigan and DCI Derwent  is complex and compelling. If you have yet to  encounter the series, you’re in for a treat.

Looking for noir under the tree, well the late French writer  Pascal Garnier writes novelettes  that are dark and laced with black humor . Gallic Books has been making all of his books available in excellent translations.

When we read  Garnier’s THE PANDA THEORY we were hooked. Had the late Terry Southern written a thriller, it might have been this. We recently read THE ESKIMO SOLUTION which is as noir as Simenon but with an edginess that is uniquely Garnier’s. Here a writer gets a tad too close to his protagonist

It’s not for the squeamish.


To end the year with laughter, our friend Norman Conquest asked us to mention two new Black Scat Books.

The first publication in English of the master humorist Alphonse Allais‘s collection, LONG LIVE LIFE! — stories culled from the pages of LE CHAT NOIR, packed with madcap (and bawdy) tales of love, adultery, the supernatural, military life, and fake news. These texts are quintessentially Allaisian, spiked with absurd digressions, parenthetical asides, footnotes, puns, jokes, military jargon, Parisian slang, neologisms, dog Latin, literary quotations, and other unmentionable forms of wordplay. This special Black Scat edition features four additional  short stories not included in the original French volume, as well as a lively introduction, illustrations, and fascinating notes on the text by Doug Skinner.

And in the stocking stuffer category comes this fictional reference book:

Le Scat Noir Encyclopædia contains entries from Acrostic to Zwine, and features contributors from around the world—some of whom are distinguished professors at prestigious universities. Others are Nobel Prize winners, while a few have been arrested on felony charges. Discover rare factoids, flash fiction, nubile moon spew, mythological arcana, cabalistic pathogens, pataphysical detritus, scatological schemata, crypto-heuristic scripture, and radical homomorphism.

Over 100 pages of profusely illustrated weirdness.

 

See y’all next year — have a blast!

 

 

 

 

 

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FALL READING: POLITICS, NOIR, SURREALISM & THE DEATH OF EXPERTISE

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As you can see I’ve got a lot of reading to do. A surreal trip to Paris, then down the rabbit hole into the Trump Zone courtesy of Matt Taibbi and Joshua Green.  Deeper still into Pascal Garnier‘s latest. And hey — look, Michael Connelly has launched a new series!  Can’t wait to dive into Jane Casey‘s latest novel — oh yes, I’m a Maeve Kerrigan groupie.   Take my word for it, I’m an expert even though nobody listens to experts anymore, right Tom?

Full report soon.

Pin the Tale: The Summer Random Reading Game

Okay, it’s time for my annual “Pin the Tale,” in which you randomly select one of 8 fab books by clicking  from the list of “here”s below.  Don’t peek at the covers until you’ve made your selection. All make fine beach reads.

On your marks, get set…. go!

The High Lit life here.  Snicker & guffaw in the hallowed halls here.   Berserk circus hijinx here. Behind the obscenes in scary Oz here.  Thai one on  here.  Catch some ruthless thrills here.  Iceland means murder here  The bitter half of a happy marriage here.

 

Spring Forward

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We just received a copy of the latest addition to the super Akashic Noir anthology series: OAKLAND NOIR, edited by Jerry Thompson & Eddie Muller.  Up to now, my favorite has been SAN DIEGO NOIR which is filled with dark gems. But heck, Oakland is a natural for the series, with its shadowy crimes and disgruntled cops. Looking forward to diving in. The book goes on sale April 4.

ORDER

 

28BOOKULLRICH2-blog427-v3Speaking of Noir,  it doesn’t get any darker than this new biography of Hitler by Volker Ullrich. With all that has been written about him, you’re probably wondering what’s left to say. Well as it tune out, there’s plenty.  The most compelling book on Hitler’s early days and rise to power.  ORDER

 

 

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Here’s my hot pick for Spring…. take a trip to Hong Kong’s crime zone and discover Kwan Chun-dok — a veritable Chinese Sherlock Holmes. But what makes this masterful novel unique is its background history of Hong Kong…following the detective’s 50-years tracking down criminals.

This beautifully designed edition from Grove Press deserves a vote for best cover of the year. Tip of the cap to Gretchen Mergenthaler.

ORDER

 

 

 

Six Favorite Reads of 2016

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Here are a few of the books I enjoyed over the year.

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2016 was a surreal year (in more ways than one), so I dove right in at the source and refreshed my sensibility with THE SURREALISM READER: An Anthology of Ideas, edited by the goddess of surrealist studies, Dawn Ades (also  Michael Richardson and Krzysztof Fijalkowski). This seminal collection includes contributions by both critics and movement luminaries. Among the latter,  two not to be missed highlights: Marcel Mariën’s “Non-Scientific Treatise on the Fourth Dimension,” and Leonora Carrington’s “What Is a Woman?”
My kind of reference—and it sure beats Trump’s surreality TV.  Thank you, University of Chicago Press!

 

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While swimming in  experimental waters, I’m glad I found a sandbar and Anne Garréta’s novel SPHINX. It’s not surprising that one of the few female members of Oulipo penned  one of the most engaging Oulipian novels to date. It’s a remarkable genderless love story— complex and mesmerizing.

 

 

 

 

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I couldn’t wait to curl up with RAZOR GIRL and—sure enough—Hiaasen had my number again. As expected, the book had  enough black humor to float the boat and a finely drawn character— (how could he miss with a detective demoted to a food inspector in Key West)— Andrew Yancy . The guy  surely  deserves  a sequel (Ya listening Carl?) But I won’t call this novel  a “page-turner” because I refuse to resort to cliches.  (Oops, too late.)

 

 

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What? Another book with “girl” in the title, there must be some mistake. Well, instead of GIRL ON THE TRAIN which derailed midway through for me, I’m recommending THE CROW GIRL  If you’re hungry for a hefty helping—784 pages—of Swedish noir., it doesn’t get any better (or darker) than this. A superb translation, too.

 

 

 

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Got twists? This novel is a corkscrew,  and, yes, there are moments when you say “couldn’t happen,” but then you have those nagging second thoughts after watching the local news and it doesn’t matter anyway because THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR is just plain creepy fun. A clever first novel by author Shari Lapena.

 

 

 

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French PI Aimée Leduc needs no introduction, of course, nor does her creator, Cara Black. I was a bit worried Cara. Black had run out of Paris neighborhoods, but then along came MURDER ON THE QUAI and I gladly donned my beret. The book is a “prequel” that will satisfy fans of the series—especially since Aimée’s backstory has often been alluded to and was begging to be told.

For those who’ve yet to meet Ms. Leduc, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning.

 

 

Enjoy these wintry reads and have a great 2017!

 

 

Apples and Oranges

appleWe finally made the big move from Windows to Mac. That’s right, since 2008 we’ve been working with Windows computers and software. Changing tools was not as simple as, say, switching from an old car to a new model from a different manufacturer. It required several months of planning, as well as implementation.

The first order of business was porting over thousands of files created over the years, reorganizing them, archiving, and (in some cases) deleting, and then setting up shop in the clouds — namely,  Adobe’s Creative Cloud. That meant getting all new versions of the apps we reply on, as shown in the screen-shot below.

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Adobe Photoshop topped the list, and switching to the Mac version required updating all the various plug-ins, such as Retrographer for special effects. (A review of the Mac version will appear in January.) In some cases the apps we used had no Mac version, so replacements had to be found and tested.

But now all the grunt work is behind us. We’re back!—armed with MacBooks and iPads and ready for action.

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Thanks for your patience.

Happy New Year to all!

Chills

Here are a few cool  titles we’re looking forward to.

[click on covers for more info]

crow girl

cabin 10

You Will Know Me

Harrow

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loney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND watch for our reviews of  Peter Lovesey’s new novel and a prequel to Cara Black’s popular series.

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