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

NEW FALL

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.

 

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!

 

sphinx

 

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.)

 

 

crow-girl

 

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!

 

 

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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Hot Summer Quick Picks

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Gallic Press guarantees a long hot summer with the latest translation of Pascal Garnier‘s TOO CLOSE CLOSE TO THE EDGE. We first discovered this novelist with the release of MOON IN A DEAD EYE which was one of our Favorite Books of  2014.  Then we read THE PANDA THEORY and became hopelessly addicted. This latest short novel is noir for the course.
CLICK TO BUY

dd

You can’t miss with Don DeLillo—his best novel since WHITE NOISE.
CLICK TO BUY

 

loney

If it’s too hot in the sun, this one will give you chills. THE LONEY is eerie, odd, and beautifully written. Andrew Michael Hurley is a poet of terror.
CLICK TO BUY

 

Simon & Schuster

Wrong is an understatement with Trump at the helm, but E.J, Dionne sets the record straight on how far  out the GOP has gone.
CLICK TO BUY

 

CHEDDAR

C’mon, who doesn’t love it. Here’s the scoop,  CHEDDAR: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese? Is it lunch time yet? Say cheese!
CLICK TO BUY

 

 

Spring into Summer Reading

tower

I made it through the spring thanks to Overlook Press and their scrumptious The Collector’s Wodehouse series. That’s not to imply that I own or have read all the titles in the series—far from it!—but I have a sizable tower of mirth within reach.

Now I’ve raved about this vast collection before (see this LINK), but it bears repeating, since you’ll not only find the seminal titles (the Jeeves & Wooster series and Blandings Castle books) but lesser known gems and stand-alones such as THE MATING SEASON and THE GIRL ON THE BOAT.  All the books are beautifully crafted hardcovers, of uniform design, with wonderful cover art by Andrzej Klimowski. And these editions make grand gifts that will certainly whet one’s appetite to start collecting them. (I wonder if Overlook offers a discount for the entire series? I daresay it would cost a fortune to ship.)

Wodehouse novels and stories are a delight for all seasons. In winter,  they provide spring breezes. In summer, they put you in a gently swaying hammock.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some swaying to do.

Right ho!