Six Geese-A-Slaying
Lynne F. Maxwell

Just in time for the holiday season comes Six Geese-A-Slaying, Donna Andrews' 10th entry in her highly entertaining Meg Langslow series. This book is billed as a Christmas mystery, and it certainly is, featuring Meg as event coordinator of the annual Christmas parade for her small town in Virginia. A very reluctant Meg has been forced into this responsibility by the president of the local college, and she feels compelled to accept, not wanting to impede her new husband's quest for tenure in the college's drama department. Inevitably, Meg's organizational demands pale in light of the inopportune murder of a local tyrannical miser who has been cast in the role of Santa Claus for the parade. Andrews' usual cast of eccentric characters including Meg's father, a retired physician and unrepentant mystery buff, eagerly get on the case, with the hilarious results that readers have come to expect from Andrews. Despite the dire circumstances, all of this is good fun, framed by numerous allusions to Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with plot threads and characterizations reminiscent of the classic.

I have been following Andrew's novels since Murder with Peacocks won the prestigious Agatha and Malice Domestic Awards. Her witty fowl-titled books filled with foul play are worth the price of admission to the zany world of Meg Langslow and her odd but lovable family, friends, and neighbors, all amusing caricatures of people we, too, know.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Just in time for the holiday season comes Six Geese-A-Slaying, Donna Andrews' 10th entry in her highly entertaining Meg Langslow series. This book is billed as a Christmas mystery, and it certainly is, featuring Meg as event coordinator of the annual Christmas parade for her small town in Virginia. A very reluctant Meg has been forced into this responsibility by the president of the local college, and she feels compelled to accept, not wanting to impede her new husband's quest for tenure in the college's drama department. Inevitably, Meg's organizational demands pale in light of the inopportune murder of a local tyrannical miser who has been cast in the role of Santa Claus for the parade. Andrews' usual cast of eccentric characters including Meg's father, a retired physician and unrepentant mystery buff, eagerly get on the case, with the hilarious results that readers have come to expect from Andrews. Despite the dire circumstances, all of this is good fun, framed by numerous allusions to Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with plot threads and characterizations reminiscent of the classic.

I have been following Andrew's novels since Murder with Peacocks won the prestigious Agatha and Malice Domestic Awards. Her witty fowl-titled books filled with foul play are worth the price of admission to the zany world of Meg Langslow and her odd but lovable family, friends, and neighbors, all amusing caricatures of people we, too, know.

Spider Season
Betty Webb

Soon after disgraced journalist Benjamin Justice comes clean about his "Pulitzer problem" by publishing a memoir about the incident, he realizes that writing the book might have been a mistake. Yes, 18 years earlier, when he'd faked sources for a story, he'd been living under the stress of watching his lover, Jacques, die of AIDS. And yes, he'd also been haunted by the memory of killing his father after discovering him in the act of raping his sister. But now, thanks to the publicity the memoir generated, Justice finds himself being stalked by two violent men. One is a butch ex-Marine; the other, an unbalanced actor who claims the journalist is infatuated with him.

This eighth in the Benjamin Justice series finds the HIV-positive journalist staring at the wreckage of his life. As he examines his past with an unflinching eye, his harsh assessment is balanced by the compassion of Maurice and Fred, his elderly landlords. Softened by their tender mercies, he opens himself to a new love, which leads to one of this beautiful novel's most beautiful passages--the almost otherworldly magic of a first kiss. But love blinds. When Justice finally opens his eyes, he begins to suspect that this new man, a former Catholic priest, is about to betray him.

Although elegiac in tone, Spider Season does have fine moments of humor, such as the book signing attended only by a homeless man looking for shelter from the rain. Edgar Award-winning author Wilson has as fine an eye for irony as he does for elegy--and fortunately for his readers, for justice with a lower case "j". This exquisite novel is the finest yet in a powerful series; let's hope it's not the last.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Soon after disgraced journalist Benjamin Justice comes clean about his "Pulitzer problem" by publishing a memoir about the incident, he realizes that writing the book might have been a mistake. Yes, 18 years earlier, when he'd faked sources for a story, he'd been living under the stress of watching his lover, Jacques, die of AIDS. And yes, he'd also been haunted by the memory of killing his father after discovering him in the act of raping his sister. But now, thanks to the publicity the memoir generated, Justice finds himself being stalked by two violent men. One is a butch ex-Marine; the other, an unbalanced actor who claims the journalist is infatuated with him.

This eighth in the Benjamin Justice series finds the HIV-positive journalist staring at the wreckage of his life. As he examines his past with an unflinching eye, his harsh assessment is balanced by the compassion of Maurice and Fred, his elderly landlords. Softened by their tender mercies, he opens himself to a new love, which leads to one of this beautiful novel's most beautiful passages--the almost otherworldly magic of a first kiss. But love blinds. When Justice finally opens his eyes, he begins to suspect that this new man, a former Catholic priest, is about to betray him.

Although elegiac in tone, Spider Season does have fine moments of humor, such as the book signing attended only by a homeless man looking for shelter from the rain. Edgar Award-winning author Wilson has as fine an eye for irony as he does for elegy--and fortunately for his readers, for justice with a lower case "j". This exquisite novel is the finest yet in a powerful series; let's hope it's not the last.

The 731 Legacy
Mary Helen Becker

The 731 Legacy, the fourth in a series by Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore, is an apocalyptic thriller starring Cotten Stone, a well-known anchor on SNN (the Satellite News Network), and host of Relics, a show about ancient objects and their religious and scientific importance. As the story opens, she is working on a program about traces of pollen found in the Shroud of Turin which purportedly come from a thistle found only around Jerusalem, and from which, it is believed, the Crown of Thorns was made.

Cardinal John Tyler, head of an ultra-secret intelligence unit of the Vatican, whose cover is Prelate of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, has just arrived in New York on his way to a mission to Moldova. Cotten and John share a hopeless and unfulfilled love for one another, and she is drawn into a terrible plot in order to save his life.

The plot revolves around an embittered scientist in North Korea who plans a devastating revenge upon all the allied nations who fought against Japan in World War II. The scientist controls an ancient virus that reacts with the genetic material in living humans to produce a horrific death.

Cotten has a peculiar genealogy: she is descended from a fallen angel (as told in the Old Testament). The Forces of Darkness are aligned against Cotten, trying to bring her back to their side. This could be entitled "Angels and Demons," and is far superior to the book that bears that title. It has a bit of everything found in popular thrillers: destruction of civilization, ancient religious lore, modern science, and non-stop action. It even features a bit of humor, in a rather loveable group of elderly ex--KGB agents who help Cotten save the day.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

The 731 Legacy, the fourth in a series by Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore, is an apocalyptic thriller starring Cotten Stone, a well-known anchor on SNN (the Satellite News Network), and host of Relics, a show about ancient objects and their religious and scientific importance. As the story opens, she is working on a program about traces of pollen found in the Shroud of Turin which purportedly come from a thistle found only around Jerusalem, and from which, it is believed, the Crown of Thorns was made.

Cardinal John Tyler, head of an ultra-secret intelligence unit of the Vatican, whose cover is Prelate of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, has just arrived in New York on his way to a mission to Moldova. Cotten and John share a hopeless and unfulfilled love for one another, and she is drawn into a terrible plot in order to save his life.

The plot revolves around an embittered scientist in North Korea who plans a devastating revenge upon all the allied nations who fought against Japan in World War II. The scientist controls an ancient virus that reacts with the genetic material in living humans to produce a horrific death.

Cotten has a peculiar genealogy: she is descended from a fallen angel (as told in the Old Testament). The Forces of Darkness are aligned against Cotten, trying to bring her back to their side. This could be entitled "Angels and Demons," and is far superior to the book that bears that title. It has a bit of everything found in popular thrillers: destruction of civilization, ancient religious lore, modern science, and non-stop action. It even features a bit of humor, in a rather loveable group of elderly ex--KGB agents who help Cotten save the day.

The Anteater of Death
Lynne Maxwell

Despite its cryptic and rather unpromising title, The Anteater of Death is a surprisingly fascinating read; after all, Webb is the talented and seasoned author of the highly acclaimed Lena Jones series. In The Anteater of Death Webb puts Lena on sabbatical and initiates a series featuring West Coast zookeeper Teddy Bentley, whose mother is a society matron and whose father is a crook on the lam. With these credentials, Teddy is bound to be a renegade, and indeed she is, living in a houseboat and dedicating herself to caring for zoo animals, particularly Lucy, a pregnant anteater who is one of her beloved charges. The relatively peaceful yet politically volatile world of the zoo shifts when death intrudes. Ultimately, the unpredictable instincts and aggressiveness of the zoo animals fail to hold a candle to the atavistic, calculated violence of the humans. When the body of a prominent zoo trustee is discovered in the anteater's enclosure, initially the death is deemed accidental. Upon investigation, though, the authorities conclude that it was the result of foul play. Teddy wants to make certain that the true murderer is brought to justice, so she undertakes her own investigation, to surprising results. Webb knows how to put together a literate, well-plotted mystery with compelling characters and a sharp sense of humor. Not only does Webb interweave intricate plot strands and characterization, but she also provides a wealth of information about zoos and zoo animals. Intriguing stuff.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Despite its cryptic and rather unpromising title, The Anteater of Death is a surprisingly fascinating read; after all, Webb is the talented and seasoned author of the highly acclaimed Lena Jones series. In The Anteater of Death Webb puts Lena on sabbatical and initiates a series featuring West Coast zookeeper Teddy Bentley, whose mother is a society matron and whose father is a crook on the lam. With these credentials, Teddy is bound to be a renegade, and indeed she is, living in a houseboat and dedicating herself to caring for zoo animals, particularly Lucy, a pregnant anteater who is one of her beloved charges. The relatively peaceful yet politically volatile world of the zoo shifts when death intrudes. Ultimately, the unpredictable instincts and aggressiveness of the zoo animals fail to hold a candle to the atavistic, calculated violence of the humans. When the body of a prominent zoo trustee is discovered in the anteater's enclosure, initially the death is deemed accidental. Upon investigation, though, the authorities conclude that it was the result of foul play. Teddy wants to make certain that the true murderer is brought to justice, so she undertakes her own investigation, to surprising results. Webb knows how to put together a literate, well-plotted mystery with compelling characters and a sharp sense of humor. Not only does Webb interweave intricate plot strands and characterization, but she also provides a wealth of information about zoos and zoo animals. Intriguing stuff.

The Beautiful Sound of Silence
Sue Reider

When a body is discovered in a Guy Fawkes Day bonfire, London Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy is assigned to lead the investigation. The case takes on a personal aspect for Kennedy's team after the victim is identified as recently retired Police Superintendent David Peters.

On one level of this multi-faceted book, the author delivers a detailed and intriguing police procedural. As the constables and detectives painstakingly question the superintendent's family, colleagues, and people Peters had put in jail--along with exploring his unsolved cases--they discover that the superintendent was a much different person than his public facade would suggest. The fact that the victim used his position to intimidate and falsely accuse others for his own gain upsets the entire team.

The novel is also an in-depth character study of Kennedy who, of all his colleagues, feels the most betrayed by Peters' actions. He sees himself as an ordinary man just doing his job; however, the image the reader gets of him is very different. He thinks deeply about everything he does, and philosophizes about the meaning and possible consequences of each action. Even when Kennedy is involved in other activities, he is completely consumed by his work, and continuously striving to excel.

All the characters in this story--victim, police, and murderer--are well-rounded. The story takes place in a short amount of time, yet the details of day-to-day police work are meticulously presented. A very readable and well-written story.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

When a body is discovered in a Guy Fawkes Day bonfire, London Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy is assigned to lead the investigation. The case takes on a personal aspect for Kennedy's team after the victim is identified as recently retired Police Superintendent David Peters.

On one level of this multi-faceted book, the author delivers a detailed and intriguing police procedural. As the constables and detectives painstakingly question the superintendent's family, colleagues, and people Peters had put in jail--along with exploring his unsolved cases--they discover that the superintendent was a much different person than his public facade would suggest. The fact that the victim used his position to intimidate and falsely accuse others for his own gain upsets the entire team.

The novel is also an in-depth character study of Kennedy who, of all his colleagues, feels the most betrayed by Peters' actions. He sees himself as an ordinary man just doing his job; however, the image the reader gets of him is very different. He thinks deeply about everything he does, and philosophizes about the meaning and possible consequences of each action. Even when Kennedy is involved in other activities, he is completely consumed by his work, and continuously striving to excel.

All the characters in this story--victim, police, and murderer--are well-rounded. The story takes place in a short amount of time, yet the details of day-to-day police work are meticulously presented. A very readable and well-written story.

The Big O
Kevin Burton Smith

Given how hip Ireland and the Irish have become in crime fiction lately, there is a curious lack of local color in The Big O, Declan Burke's latest. Were it not for a few fleeting allusions (e.g. A&E instead of ER; curry chips, not pizza) this whole thing could have taken place almost anywhere. Too bad, that, because Burke's smart plot (which recalls Elmore Leonard's more humorous works) deserves better. It's a perfectly realized, twisted little 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that slowly snaps together, with more than a few surprises along the way. Ray ("serious fringe, cute buns") is a snatch man, an easy-going professional kidnapper (and sometime mural painter) with a retro do and a way with the ladies. Karen is a bored secretary (for a defrocked plastic surgeon now working as a "consultant") who moonlights as a stick-up artist. Ray and Karen meet "cute," but things soon take a turn for the dark side. She has an ex just out of prison, a Mafiosi wannabe intent on reclaiming his imagined Sicilian gangster heritage (and the score from his last heist which he left with Karen). Meanwhile, Karen's boss, the good doctor Frank, has cooked up a scheme to have his soon to be ex-wife abducted for the insurance money.

Initially nobody has a clue about what anyone else is really up to, or what the connections are, but the light begins to dawn as the point of view jumps back and forth between the various major characters. And the rowdy supporting cast is nothing to sneeze at either - it includes a narcoleptic wheelman, a burned out female cop who finds herself oddly attracted to Ray, the half-baked intended kidnap victim, two spoiled and vacuous twins and (I kid you not) a one-eyed Russian wolf bent on revenge. The various threads overlap and intersect, a knotty tangle of double and triple crosses and head-banging coincidences (including one or two right out of the Ross Macdonald catalogue), some seriously bad timing, plenty of zippy dialogue, a mid-life crisis or two, and a waylaid golf shot, as what should be a basic insurance scam goes horribly, amusingly awry. Granted, the humor is of the dark and wicked kind, but both it and the inevitable violence are handled in a refreshingly subtle manner, more ice pick than chainsaw. In the end everyone gets what's coming to him or her - or at least a twisted and maybe unreasonable facsimile. And that includes readers.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Given how hip Ireland and the Irish have become in crime fiction lately, there is a curious lack of local color in The Big O, Declan Burke's latest. Were it not for a few fleeting allusions (e.g. A&E instead of ER; curry chips, not pizza) this whole thing could have taken place almost anywhere. Too bad, that, because Burke's smart plot (which recalls Elmore Leonard's more humorous works) deserves better. It's a perfectly realized, twisted little 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that slowly snaps together, with more than a few surprises along the way. Ray ("serious fringe, cute buns") is a snatch man, an easy-going professional kidnapper (and sometime mural painter) with a retro do and a way with the ladies. Karen is a bored secretary (for a defrocked plastic surgeon now working as a "consultant") who moonlights as a stick-up artist. Ray and Karen meet "cute," but things soon take a turn for the dark side. She has an ex just out of prison, a Mafiosi wannabe intent on reclaiming his imagined Sicilian gangster heritage (and the score from his last heist which he left with Karen). Meanwhile, Karen's boss, the good doctor Frank, has cooked up a scheme to have his soon to be ex-wife abducted for the insurance money.

Initially nobody has a clue about what anyone else is really up to, or what the connections are, but the light begins to dawn as the point of view jumps back and forth between the various major characters. And the rowdy supporting cast is nothing to sneeze at either - it includes a narcoleptic wheelman, a burned out female cop who finds herself oddly attracted to Ray, the half-baked intended kidnap victim, two spoiled and vacuous twins and (I kid you not) a one-eyed Russian wolf bent on revenge. The various threads overlap and intersect, a knotty tangle of double and triple crosses and head-banging coincidences (including one or two right out of the Ross Macdonald catalogue), some seriously bad timing, plenty of zippy dialogue, a mid-life crisis or two, and a waylaid golf shot, as what should be a basic insurance scam goes horribly, amusingly awry. Granted, the humor is of the dark and wicked kind, but both it and the inevitable violence are handled in a refreshingly subtle manner, more ice pick than chainsaw. In the end everyone gets what's coming to him or her - or at least a twisted and maybe unreasonable facsimile. And that includes readers.

The Bodies Left Behind
Jackie Houchin

Police deputy Brynn McKenzie is tired, hungry, and glad to be home after a long shift. But when Sheriff Tom Dahl calls her back on duty to check out an uncompleted 911 call from an isolated vacation house near Lake Mondac, she's eager to go.

The drive through the dense forest of Marquette State Park is long and lonely. On the way, the sheriff reports that the call was a mistake. The cell phone owner had called back saying he and his wife were fine. But Brynn, a specialist in domestic violence cases, is almost there, and decides to make sure.

Utter silence greets her at the house. No one answers the doorbell and when she tries the door, it swings open. Pushing inside, she sees the contents of a briefcase and backpack spilled across the floor. Nearby, a couple lie face down in a spreading pool of blood.

Before she can retrieve her cell phone from the car, Brynn hears whispers and realizes the killers haven't left. Gun shots are exchanged and Brynn escapes into the dark Wisconsin forest. What follows is a night of non-stop terrifying flight and pursuit. Brynn's police training, endurance and wits are tested. Mistakes are made on both sides. Luck and misfortune play equal parts as the upper hand shifts between the pursuer and the pursued. A master of suspense, the author throws his protagonist (and his villains) into one impossible situation after another, increasing the stakes and building the tension.

Deaver's new thriller begins with a chilling setup in chapter one; then rushes into high speed action, cutting away only briefly for subplot or back story. The reader, never quite sure who will turn out to be friend or foe, races along with the heroine, eager to catch the killers and close the case.

Unfortunately the story seems to fall apart at the end. After the thrill ride of the chase with its jaw-dropping plot twists, the investigation and mop-up seem almost anticlimactic. The protagonist is no longer the driving force, as she becomes more interested in solving her personal problems than making arrests. The conclusion feels abrupt, disjointed, and while somewhat satisfying, may leave readers feeling cheated.

Does Deputy Brynn McKenzie have the dedication to be a new series character for Deaver? She certainly has potential, if she'd keep her mind on the job.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Police deputy Brynn McKenzie is tired, hungry, and glad to be home after a long shift. But when Sheriff Tom Dahl calls her back on duty to check out an uncompleted 911 call from an isolated vacation house near Lake Mondac, she's eager to go.

The drive through the dense forest of Marquette State Park is long and lonely. On the way, the sheriff reports that the call was a mistake. The cell phone owner had called back saying he and his wife were fine. But Brynn, a specialist in domestic violence cases, is almost there, and decides to make sure.

Utter silence greets her at the house. No one answers the doorbell and when she tries the door, it swings open. Pushing inside, she sees the contents of a briefcase and backpack spilled across the floor. Nearby, a couple lie face down in a spreading pool of blood.

Before she can retrieve her cell phone from the car, Brynn hears whispers and realizes the killers haven't left. Gun shots are exchanged and Brynn escapes into the dark Wisconsin forest. What follows is a night of non-stop terrifying flight and pursuit. Brynn's police training, endurance and wits are tested. Mistakes are made on both sides. Luck and misfortune play equal parts as the upper hand shifts between the pursuer and the pursued. A master of suspense, the author throws his protagonist (and his villains) into one impossible situation after another, increasing the stakes and building the tension.

Deaver's new thriller begins with a chilling setup in chapter one; then rushes into high speed action, cutting away only briefly for subplot or back story. The reader, never quite sure who will turn out to be friend or foe, races along with the heroine, eager to catch the killers and close the case.

Unfortunately the story seems to fall apart at the end. After the thrill ride of the chase with its jaw-dropping plot twists, the investigation and mop-up seem almost anticlimactic. The protagonist is no longer the driving force, as she becomes more interested in solving her personal problems than making arrests. The conclusion feels abrupt, disjointed, and while somewhat satisfying, may leave readers feeling cheated.

Does Deputy Brynn McKenzie have the dedication to be a new series character for Deaver? She certainly has potential, if she'd keep her mind on the job.

The Darker Side
Barbara Fister

In the third Smoky Barrett thriller the scarred but resilient profiler, who has a knack for getting inside the heads of worst-of-the-worst psychopaths, is up against a killer who is poised to expose a collection of dark secrets on a video sharing site. One by one, the criminal has wrested confessions from over a hundred women before murdering them, the most recent being the transgendered child of a congressman with an eye on the presidency. When her story and execution are revealed online, the secrets are out, and in the strangely intimate confessional of the Internet, it becomes clear a ruthless killer is on a warped mission from God. And just to make sure he has everyone's attention, he promises his next victim will be a child.
McFadyen knows his way around the serial killer subgenre, and with lavishly emotive prose he puts Smoky Barrett and her team through the wringer as they immerse themselves in their case. Every one of them has secrets that are exposed by the raw emotions of their high-tension pursuit. At times, the reader's limit for empathy is tested, between the details of the victims' painful secrets and the tortures the FBI team members endure, but the complex humanity of the feisty, talented heroine coupled with McFadyen's exuberant way with words lets him get away with murder on an almost cosmic scale. For fans of the serial killer subgenre, this series raises the stakes with gruesome panache.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

In the third Smoky Barrett thriller the scarred but resilient profiler, who has a knack for getting inside the heads of worst-of-the-worst psychopaths, is up against a killer who is poised to expose a collection of dark secrets on a video sharing site. One by one, the criminal has wrested confessions from over a hundred women before murdering them, the most recent being the transgendered child of a congressman with an eye on the presidency. When her story and execution are revealed online, the secrets are out, and in the strangely intimate confessional of the Internet, it becomes clear a ruthless killer is on a warped mission from God. And just to make sure he has everyone's attention, he promises his next victim will be a child.
McFadyen knows his way around the serial killer subgenre, and with lavishly emotive prose he puts Smoky Barrett and her team through the wringer as they immerse themselves in their case. Every one of them has secrets that are exposed by the raw emotions of their high-tension pursuit. At times, the reader's limit for empathy is tested, between the details of the victims' painful secrets and the tortures the FBI team members endure, but the complex humanity of the feisty, talented heroine coupled with McFadyen's exuberant way with words lets him get away with murder on an almost cosmic scale. For fans of the serial killer subgenre, this series raises the stakes with gruesome panache.

The Fire
Helen Francini

You do not have to be a chess master to enjoy The Fire. A sequel to The Eight, this tale continues the story of the people involved with the Montglane chess set, which gives incredible power to whoever possesses it. When The Eight's heroine, Cat Velis, disappears, her daughter Alexandra Solarin, now grown up and a chess prodigy, must follow a series of clues to track down a missing piece from the Montglane set and find her mother. Along the way she receives help from an international cast of fascinating characters including her own Basque boss, who is a descendant of Francis Scott Key and a Native American, and a Russian chess master. All are players in a deadly power game resembling a chess match. In a parallel tale set in an earlier era, a young woman travels from Albania to track down Lord Byron, who is mysteriously connected with the chess set.

As in The Eight, Neville delights in word play, and her clever use of symbols and ciphers is reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code (or vice versa, since The Eight came years before Dan Brown's book). But whereas in most thrillers men take the lead, The Fire boasts a group of delightfully strong female characters, and the men, while important to the story, are more pawns than kings or knights. If you enjoy a rollicking escapist thriller with a fast-moving plot, this is the book for you.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

You do not have to be a chess master to enjoy The Fire. A sequel to The Eight, this tale continues the story of the people involved with the Montglane chess set, which gives incredible power to whoever possesses it. When The Eight's heroine, Cat Velis, disappears, her daughter Alexandra Solarin, now grown up and a chess prodigy, must follow a series of clues to track down a missing piece from the Montglane set and find her mother. Along the way she receives help from an international cast of fascinating characters including her own Basque boss, who is a descendant of Francis Scott Key and a Native American, and a Russian chess master. All are players in a deadly power game resembling a chess match. In a parallel tale set in an earlier era, a young woman travels from Albania to track down Lord Byron, who is mysteriously connected with the chess set.

As in The Eight, Neville delights in word play, and her clever use of symbols and ciphers is reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code (or vice versa, since The Eight came years before Dan Brown's book). But whereas in most thrillers men take the lead, The Fire boasts a group of delightfully strong female characters, and the men, while important to the story, are more pawns than kings or knights. If you enjoy a rollicking escapist thriller with a fast-moving plot, this is the book for you.

The Fire Kimono
Oline H. Cogdill

Sano Ichiro's rise from samurai detective to chamberlain in the shogun's court has not been a smooth transition. Tension between Sano and his most dangerous rival, Lord Matsudaira, pushes the two men to the brink of war during March 1700 in the expertly-plotted The Fire Kimono.

The dispute takes an even more personal turn when Sano's wife, Lady Reiko, is attacked during an ambush by men wearing Matsudaira's crests on their kimonos. Matsudaira denies the attack but claims his own wife also was attacked--by soldiers with Sano's signs on their clothes.

The men's feud--and who is behind the attacks on their wives--has to be put on hold when the shogun asks Sano to again use his detective skills. A skeleton that may be the shogun's long-lost teenage cousin has been uncovered. The 14-year-old disappeared more than 40 years ago during a horrific fire that, legend maintains, was started by a cursed kimono. The shogun's family always believed the boy, who had a habit of running away, died in the fire that killed scores of residents and nearly destroyed the city of Edo, the city that would one day become Tokyo. But marks on the body suggest the boy was murdered.

Sano fears that the investigation will distract him from the crisis with Matsudaira. But the case intensifies when Sano's elderly mother is arrested and accused of murdering the shogun's cousin. Naturally Sano wants to clear his mother's name, but the shogun gives him only three days to solve the decades-old murder. If he doesn't, Sano, Reiko and their children may be killed to avenge the boy's death.

Laura Joh Rowland continues her high standards for melding the history, culture and politics of 17th century Japan in The Fire Kimono. The world that Sano inhabits values honor more than truth; forgiveness is a commodity seldom offered, and guilt can fester in a soul for decades. In this world, those in power aren't often aware that the political arena constantly shifts. Political intrigue lurks around every corner. Sano cannot just concentrate on his investigation, not when his enemies vigilantly want him to fail.

While Sano is accustomed to looking into unusual situations, The Fire Kimono forces him to reevaluate the relationship with his mother, giving him "an uncomfortable sense that he was digging up his own history."

The author insightfully mines the complicated personalities of Sano and Reiko, whose equal-partnership marriage goes against the era's custom. Rowland succinctly compares their strong marriage to that of Sano's assistant whose frequent absences may have caused an irreparable chasm with his wife. The author's original approach is just as fresh in this 13th novel as when she began the series with Shinju in 1994.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Sano Ichiro's rise from samurai detective to chamberlain in the shogun's court has not been a smooth transition. Tension between Sano and his most dangerous rival, Lord Matsudaira, pushes the two men to the brink of war during March 1700 in the expertly-plotted The Fire Kimono.

The dispute takes an even more personal turn when Sano's wife, Lady Reiko, is attacked during an ambush by men wearing Matsudaira's crests on their kimonos. Matsudaira denies the attack but claims his own wife also was attacked--by soldiers with Sano's signs on their clothes.

The men's feud--and who is behind the attacks on their wives--has to be put on hold when the shogun asks Sano to again use his detective skills. A skeleton that may be the shogun's long-lost teenage cousin has been uncovered. The 14-year-old disappeared more than 40 years ago during a horrific fire that, legend maintains, was started by a cursed kimono. The shogun's family always believed the boy, who had a habit of running away, died in the fire that killed scores of residents and nearly destroyed the city of Edo, the city that would one day become Tokyo. But marks on the body suggest the boy was murdered.

Sano fears that the investigation will distract him from the crisis with Matsudaira. But the case intensifies when Sano's elderly mother is arrested and accused of murdering the shogun's cousin. Naturally Sano wants to clear his mother's name, but the shogun gives him only three days to solve the decades-old murder. If he doesn't, Sano, Reiko and their children may be killed to avenge the boy's death.

Laura Joh Rowland continues her high standards for melding the history, culture and politics of 17th century Japan in The Fire Kimono. The world that Sano inhabits values honor more than truth; forgiveness is a commodity seldom offered, and guilt can fester in a soul for decades. In this world, those in power aren't often aware that the political arena constantly shifts. Political intrigue lurks around every corner. Sano cannot just concentrate on his investigation, not when his enemies vigilantly want him to fail.

While Sano is accustomed to looking into unusual situations, The Fire Kimono forces him to reevaluate the relationship with his mother, giving him "an uncomfortable sense that he was digging up his own history."

The author insightfully mines the complicated personalities of Sano and Reiko, whose equal-partnership marriage goes against the era's custom. Rowland succinctly compares their strong marriage to that of Sano's assistant whose frequent absences may have caused an irreparable chasm with his wife. The author's original approach is just as fresh in this 13th novel as when she began the series with Shinju in 1994.

The Goliath Bone
Kevin Burton Smith

Truth be told, Mickey Spillane's last few fiction outings bore faint resemblance to the white hot passion and gut-level fury of his best work. But this, the first of several planned posthumous releases tidied up and completed by Spillane's number one fan, friend and frequent accomplice, crime writer Max Allan Collins, sets the world right the way only Manhattan private eye Mike Hammer can--with guns blazing and righteous rage. The risque humor, the Miller beer product placement, the senior sex scenes (Mike and Velda ain't getting any younger) and the cell phone and Bin Laden references may jar, but this is in almost every other way primal Hammer, defiant and gleefully anachronistic, refusing to make nice to anyone. It's 100% pure pulp, an old school spit in the face of modern complacency and current crime fiction's moral and ethical gray areas. All the Spillane trademarks are here: the hardcore violence and the softcore sex, a Big Apple still rotten to the core, and an idea of justice torn right out of the Good Book. But this time it's not just the justice that's coming from the Old Testament--it's also the source of the MacGuffin around which this mystery revolves, as Hammer finds himself playing nursemaid and bodyguard to a couple of love-struck and well-heeled New York college kids who may or may not have stumbled across the earthly remains of Goliath. Yeah, that Goliath. And in this case, the over-sized leg bone's connected to just about everything that matters to Mike: love, honor, justice and duty. It's also drawn the attention of just about every legit and not-so-legit government and terrorist group around the world. They all want it--or want it destroyed. The only thing standing in their way is the battle weary Hammer, who's seriously considering retirement and marriage, after all these years, to his beloved and eternally patient Velda, only to have those plans once again put on hold. Spillane reportedly had the partial manuscript for this one stashed in a closet for years, and only hauled it out after 9/11, but never completed it. Upon his death, and following Spillane's wishes, Collins dusted it off and wrapped it up, fleshing out the story and even adding a few distinct touches of his own, but Spillane's spirit is intact. This is, according to Collins, the last Hammer book Spillane was working on, and is to be the last book chronologically in the series, but there are several more posthumous collaborations in the works, all based on Spillane's ideas and notes. It remains to be seen whether Collins will be able to maintain the prolonged balancing act, but for this first effort, he has done both himself and his idol proud. Mickey would approve.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Truth be told, Mickey Spillane's last few fiction outings bore faint resemblance to the white hot passion and gut-level fury of his best work. But this, the first of several planned posthumous releases tidied up and completed by Spillane's number one fan, friend and frequent accomplice, crime writer Max Allan Collins, sets the world right the way only Manhattan private eye Mike Hammer can--with guns blazing and righteous rage. The risque humor, the Miller beer product placement, the senior sex scenes (Mike and Velda ain't getting any younger) and the cell phone and Bin Laden references may jar, but this is in almost every other way primal Hammer, defiant and gleefully anachronistic, refusing to make nice to anyone. It's 100% pure pulp, an old school spit in the face of modern complacency and current crime fiction's moral and ethical gray areas. All the Spillane trademarks are here: the hardcore violence and the softcore sex, a Big Apple still rotten to the core, and an idea of justice torn right out of the Good Book. But this time it's not just the justice that's coming from the Old Testament--it's also the source of the MacGuffin around which this mystery revolves, as Hammer finds himself playing nursemaid and bodyguard to a couple of love-struck and well-heeled New York college kids who may or may not have stumbled across the earthly remains of Goliath. Yeah, that Goliath. And in this case, the over-sized leg bone's connected to just about everything that matters to Mike: love, honor, justice and duty. It's also drawn the attention of just about every legit and not-so-legit government and terrorist group around the world. They all want it--or want it destroyed. The only thing standing in their way is the battle weary Hammer, who's seriously considering retirement and marriage, after all these years, to his beloved and eternally patient Velda, only to have those plans once again put on hold. Spillane reportedly had the partial manuscript for this one stashed in a closet for years, and only hauled it out after 9/11, but never completed it. Upon his death, and following Spillane's wishes, Collins dusted it off and wrapped it up, fleshing out the story and even adding a few distinct touches of his own, but Spillane's spirit is intact. This is, according to Collins, the last Hammer book Spillane was working on, and is to be the last book chronologically in the series, but there are several more posthumous collaborations in the works, all based on Spillane's ideas and notes. It remains to be seen whether Collins will be able to maintain the prolonged balancing act, but for this first effort, he has done both himself and his idol proud. Mickey would approve.

The Good Thief's Guide to Paris
Sue Emmons

Take a delightful romp through the streets of Paris with "good thief" Charlie Howard, back for his second adventure after The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam. Charlie, an author by day and a burglar by night, finds himself surrounded by mysterious women, dangerous adversaries, and embroiled in a plot to steal a seemingly innocuous oil painting from a Paris apartment. Strangely enough, it is the same apartment that he had broken into a night earlier after agreeing to display his illicit talents to a neophyte crook. The whimsical and charming Charlie is willing enough to oblige in the art theft for a hefty reward, but finding a dead woman in his own apartment was definitely not part of the bargain. When it appears the victim may have links to the stolen painting, Charlie finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy with even deadlier compatriots. He finds aid and comfort from his literary agent, the lovely Victoria, who joins him for this Paris escapade. The plotting and dialogue in this tale from British author Chris Ewan offers a treat for readers who like a dash of wit with their mystery. A glossary at the end of the book provides intriguing insight into the tools of thievery. One can only wonder to which European city Charlie will wander for his next adventure.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Take a delightful romp through the streets of Paris with "good thief" Charlie Howard, back for his second adventure after The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam. Charlie, an author by day and a burglar by night, finds himself surrounded by mysterious women, dangerous adversaries, and embroiled in a plot to steal a seemingly innocuous oil painting from a Paris apartment. Strangely enough, it is the same apartment that he had broken into a night earlier after agreeing to display his illicit talents to a neophyte crook. The whimsical and charming Charlie is willing enough to oblige in the art theft for a hefty reward, but finding a dead woman in his own apartment was definitely not part of the bargain. When it appears the victim may have links to the stolen painting, Charlie finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy with even deadlier compatriots. He finds aid and comfort from his literary agent, the lovely Victoria, who joins him for this Paris escapade. The plotting and dialogue in this tale from British author Chris Ewan offers a treat for readers who like a dash of wit with their mystery. A glossary at the end of the book provides intriguing insight into the tools of thievery. One can only wonder to which European city Charlie will wander for his next adventure.

The King of Swords
Barbara Fister

Those familiar with Nick Stone's award-winning debut, Mr. Clarinet, will expect his second novel to be massive, complex, violent, and gritty with a supernatural twist. They won't be disappointed.

A prequel to Mr. Clarinet, this 560-page novel is set in Miami in the early 1980s when the city is awash with cocaine money and more corpses than the morgue can hold. Max Mingus and his partner are detectives in an elite squad that seeks out and punishes the guilty, even if the suspect and the crime don't match. When men begin to act out mindless and bloody acts while seemingly possessed, Max and Joe follow a bloody trail to Little Haiti, where a fortune teller and a shadowy leader of a voodoo cult are at the center of a bold plot to seize control of the cocaine trade.

Though the villains are larger than life, Mingus and Joe are richly three-dimensional characters, and the son of the fortune teller, a hapless pimp who has been systematically emasculated by his mother, is oddly sympathetic, even though he is capable of terrible things. The Haitian criminals are able to inflict a fate worse than death--they enslave their victims by putting them through a combination of torture and forced medication that turns them into mindless zombies who carry out violent acts unwittingly. The ambitious leader of the Miami Task Force is both ruthless and corrupt, so Max Mingus and his partner have to seek justice outside the law.

The one-sided picture of Haitian culture emphasizes its most lurid and sensationalistic aspects, and the cinematic storytelling risks going over the top. But there is a rich imagination at work, here, creating a dark and unforgettable world.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Those familiar with Nick Stone's award-winning debut, Mr. Clarinet, will expect his second novel to be massive, complex, violent, and gritty with a supernatural twist. They won't be disappointed.

A prequel to Mr. Clarinet, this 560-page novel is set in Miami in the early 1980s when the city is awash with cocaine money and more corpses than the morgue can hold. Max Mingus and his partner are detectives in an elite squad that seeks out and punishes the guilty, even if the suspect and the crime don't match. When men begin to act out mindless and bloody acts while seemingly possessed, Max and Joe follow a bloody trail to Little Haiti, where a fortune teller and a shadowy leader of a voodoo cult are at the center of a bold plot to seize control of the cocaine trade.

Though the villains are larger than life, Mingus and Joe are richly three-dimensional characters, and the son of the fortune teller, a hapless pimp who has been systematically emasculated by his mother, is oddly sympathetic, even though he is capable of terrible things. The Haitian criminals are able to inflict a fate worse than death--they enslave their victims by putting them through a combination of torture and forced medication that turns them into mindless zombies who carry out violent acts unwittingly. The ambitious leader of the Miami Task Force is both ruthless and corrupt, so Max Mingus and his partner have to seek justice outside the law.

The one-sided picture of Haitian culture emphasizes its most lurid and sensationalistic aspects, and the cinematic storytelling risks going over the top. But there is a rich imagination at work, here, creating a dark and unforgettable world.

The Kiss Murder
Lynne F. Maxwell

Turkish writer Mehmet Murat Somer's The Kiss Murder isn't for everyone, but for readers who are willing to take a chance, this unique, "camp" mystery featuring a transvestite sleuth, set in exotic Istanbul is well worth the effort. By day a web designer, and by night part-owner of a tranny nightclub, the narrator/sleuth provides keen, witty insight into the realities of this alternate world. Posturing and deception dominate the interesting transvestite culture in which the narrator is immersed.

There's quite a bit of mystery and intricate plotting in The Kiss Murder. All hell breaks loose when one of the club's girls is slain because she holds incriminating evidence of a past love affair with a highly-placed politician who cannot risk exposure to scandal. Amidst interwoven conspiracies, no one can be trusted in the nasty hunt for condemnatory letters and photos. No one, especially the usually mutually supportive community of transvestites, is as he/she appears--narrator included. The ultimate "outing" of the characters is both surprising and provocative. For a walk on the wild side, experience The Kiss Murder. I guarantee that you've never read anything like it.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Turkish writer Mehmet Murat Somer's The Kiss Murder isn't for everyone, but for readers who are willing to take a chance, this unique, "camp" mystery featuring a transvestite sleuth, set in exotic Istanbul is well worth the effort. By day a web designer, and by night part-owner of a tranny nightclub, the narrator/sleuth provides keen, witty insight into the realities of this alternate world. Posturing and deception dominate the interesting transvestite culture in which the narrator is immersed.

There's quite a bit of mystery and intricate plotting in The Kiss Murder. All hell breaks loose when one of the club's girls is slain because she holds incriminating evidence of a past love affair with a highly-placed politician who cannot risk exposure to scandal. Amidst interwoven conspiracies, no one can be trusted in the nasty hunt for condemnatory letters and photos. No one, especially the usually mutually supportive community of transvestites, is as he/she appears--narrator included. The ultimate "outing" of the characters is both surprising and provocative. For a walk on the wild side, experience The Kiss Murder. I guarantee that you've never read anything like it.

The Paris Enigma
Charles L.P. Silet

Paris, 1889. A few days before the opening of the Paris World Fair and Mr. Eiffel's tower, The Twelve Detectives, an organization of the world's best sleuths and their assistants, meets in the City of Light in order to bring together a collection of objects from their most celebrated cases to exhibit at the fair. Only one member of the organization cannot attend, the Argentinean Renaldo Craig, but he has sent his assistant, Sigmundo Salvatrio, as his representative.

The trip is an initiation for Sigmundo, who finds himself assisting detective Viktor Arzaky, a Polish expatriate living in Paris. Arzaky is investigating the death of his colleague, and greatest rival, Louis Darbon, who has fallen to his death under mysterious circumstances from the Eiffel Tower. The initial inquiry expands and Sigmundo finds himself searching the Paris underworld of occultists who oppose the building of Eiffel's structure, and following the leads of other deaths with connections that increasingly seem to link back to Arzaky.

The Paris Enigma has a clever narrative that De Santis plays with in order to highlight various traditions of detective and crime fiction, like cliched sidekicks and methodologies. It is a wonderful smorgasbord of classic mysteries and their detectives, and provides the reader with great fun in working to solve the crimes and identify the literary references.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Paris, 1889. A few days before the opening of the Paris World Fair and Mr. Eiffel's tower, The Twelve Detectives, an organization of the world's best sleuths and their assistants, meets in the City of Light in order to bring together a collection of objects from their most celebrated cases to exhibit at the fair. Only one member of the organization cannot attend, the Argentinean Renaldo Craig, but he has sent his assistant, Sigmundo Salvatrio, as his representative.

The trip is an initiation for Sigmundo, who finds himself assisting detective Viktor Arzaky, a Polish expatriate living in Paris. Arzaky is investigating the death of his colleague, and greatest rival, Louis Darbon, who has fallen to his death under mysterious circumstances from the Eiffel Tower. The initial inquiry expands and Sigmundo finds himself searching the Paris underworld of occultists who oppose the building of Eiffel's structure, and following the leads of other deaths with connections that increasingly seem to link back to Arzaky.

The Paris Enigma has a clever narrative that De Santis plays with in order to highlight various traditions of detective and crime fiction, like cliched sidekicks and methodologies. It is a wonderful smorgasbord of classic mysteries and their detectives, and provides the reader with great fun in working to solve the crimes and identify the literary references.

The Price of Butcher's Meat
Oline Cogdill

It hardly seems possible that British author Reginald Hill has been writing his exquisitely plotted novels about police detectives Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe since 1970, when A Clubbable Woman made its debut.

Now, 20 novels and two novellas later, the plots have become more involved and the characters sharper. It takes a lot of audacity--and a tremendous amount of skill--to put a lead character in a coma as Hill did with Dalziel in last year's bestseller, Death Comes for the Fat Man.

Hill takes more chances in the absorbing The Price of Butcher's Meat, in which the two Yorkshire detectives have only a few scenes together. Hill also doesn't rely solely on traditional storytelling. Much of the story is played out in a series of emails from a supporting character and in Dalziel's musings into a digital recorder.

The reason for the separation is that Dalziel is recovering from near-fatal injuries in the quiet resort of Sandytown, where the motto is "Home of the Healthy Holiday!" When the body of a wealthy local denizen is found, Dalziel and Pascoe begin independent investigations before teaming up.

Hill packs a large cast of characters into a cohesive, complicated plot. Hill also has constructed The Price of Butcher's Meat as a homage to Jane Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon, in which residents trying to build a modern seaside commercial town communicate the story through letters. Emails provide the modern spin here and enhance Hill's plot.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

It hardly seems possible that British author Reginald Hill has been writing his exquisitely plotted novels about police detectives Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe since 1970, when A Clubbable Woman made its debut.

Now, 20 novels and two novellas later, the plots have become more involved and the characters sharper. It takes a lot of audacity--and a tremendous amount of skill--to put a lead character in a coma as Hill did with Dalziel in last year's bestseller, Death Comes for the Fat Man.

Hill takes more chances in the absorbing The Price of Butcher's Meat, in which the two Yorkshire detectives have only a few scenes together. Hill also doesn't rely solely on traditional storytelling. Much of the story is played out in a series of emails from a supporting character and in Dalziel's musings into a digital recorder.

The reason for the separation is that Dalziel is recovering from near-fatal injuries in the quiet resort of Sandytown, where the motto is "Home of the Healthy Holiday!" When the body of a wealthy local denizen is found, Dalziel and Pascoe begin independent investigations before teaming up.

Hill packs a large cast of characters into a cohesive, complicated plot. Hill also has constructed The Price of Butcher's Meat as a homage to Jane Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon, in which residents trying to build a modern seaside commercial town communicate the story through letters. Emails provide the modern spin here and enhance Hill's plot.

The Private Patient
Betty Webb

In P.D. James' new Adam Dalgliesh mystery, everyone, including the detective himself, hovers on the verge of major life change, with dreams either about to be realized or about to die. Among these characters is investigative reporter Rhoda Gradwyn, who has finally made the decision to have renowned surgeon George Chandler-Powell remove a disfiguring scar that carries many bitter memories. But Gradwyn never gets the chance to see how her new face will change her life; the night after the successful operation, she is found murdered in her bed.

Suspects are plentiful, many of them with ties to Gradwyn's muckraking past. This assemblage of damaged people allows James to posit several questions, chief among them--how responsible are we for the fallout from our actions, even when our actions arise from the finest of motives?

Who better to ask, and answer, that kind of question than the 88-year-old James, author of 20 books, including the apocalyptic The Children of Men? James isn't only an author: For years she served as a British magistrate, presiding over cases that posed this novel's central problem in real-life terms. With James, human anguish was never theoretical--it sat, weeping, in front of her. Good mysteries explore this problem of human pain in depth, but the very best of them offer solutions--and The Private Patient does exactly that.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

In P.D. James' new Adam Dalgliesh mystery, everyone, including the detective himself, hovers on the verge of major life change, with dreams either about to be realized or about to die. Among these characters is investigative reporter Rhoda Gradwyn, who has finally made the decision to have renowned surgeon George Chandler-Powell remove a disfiguring scar that carries many bitter memories. But Gradwyn never gets the chance to see how her new face will change her life; the night after the successful operation, she is found murdered in her bed.

Suspects are plentiful, many of them with ties to Gradwyn's muckraking past. This assemblage of damaged people allows James to posit several questions, chief among them--how responsible are we for the fallout from our actions, even when our actions arise from the finest of motives?

Who better to ask, and answer, that kind of question than the 88-year-old James, author of 20 books, including the apocalyptic The Children of Men? James isn't only an author: For years she served as a British magistrate, presiding over cases that posed this novel's central problem in real-life terms. With James, human anguish was never theoretical--it sat, weeping, in front of her. Good mysteries explore this problem of human pain in depth, but the very best of them offer solutions--and The Private Patient does exactly that.

The Spanish Game
Charles L. P. Silet

Alec Milius appears to be a typical, footloose English bachelor living in Madrid, but he has no Spanish bank accounts, no telephone landline, two post office boxes, a car registered in Frankfurt, and five email addresses. He has changed apartments four times in five years, avoids being photographed, and follows his cleaning lady around so she can't plant a bug. Welcome to the paranoid world of a fearful ex-spook from MI5.

Alec earns a bit doing odd jobs for a British banking firm, and his boss sends him to visit the Basque region to meet with a local contact, Mikel Avenaza, to discuss investments over a drink. What should have been a simple evening out introduces Alec into the world of Basque politics, the separatist terrorist group ETA, and to Herri Batasuna, its political wing. Alec is pulled reluctantly back into the game, confirming his worse nightmares about the dangers of the life he has worked to escape. When Mikel disappears, Alec's girlfriend (wife of his boss) breaks up with him, the ETA kidnaps and tortures him, and British secret service shows up on his doorstep wanting his help.

Charles Cumming's novel explores not only the twisted psyche of Alec Milius, but also Spain's recent history and that country's conflict with its Basque province. It is a marvelously complex book, narrated by a nervous paranoid who conveys his fears with engaging directness. It doesn't take long for the reader to become enmeshed in Cumming's labyrinthine world of spies and deception. The Spanish Game is the best sort of thriller, convoluted, densely packed, and with a deliciously unexpected ending.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Alec Milius appears to be a typical, footloose English bachelor living in Madrid, but he has no Spanish bank accounts, no telephone landline, two post office boxes, a car registered in Frankfurt, and five email addresses. He has changed apartments four times in five years, avoids being photographed, and follows his cleaning lady around so she can't plant a bug. Welcome to the paranoid world of a fearful ex-spook from MI5.

Alec earns a bit doing odd jobs for a British banking firm, and his boss sends him to visit the Basque region to meet with a local contact, Mikel Avenaza, to discuss investments over a drink. What should have been a simple evening out introduces Alec into the world of Basque politics, the separatist terrorist group ETA, and to Herri Batasuna, its political wing. Alec is pulled reluctantly back into the game, confirming his worse nightmares about the dangers of the life he has worked to escape. When Mikel disappears, Alec's girlfriend (wife of his boss) breaks up with him, the ETA kidnaps and tortures him, and British secret service shows up on his doorstep wanting his help.

Charles Cumming's novel explores not only the twisted psyche of Alec Milius, but also Spain's recent history and that country's conflict with its Basque province. It is a marvelously complex book, narrated by a nervous paranoid who conveys his fears with engaging directness. It doesn't take long for the reader to become enmeshed in Cumming's labyrinthine world of spies and deception. The Spanish Game is the best sort of thriller, convoluted, densely packed, and with a deliciously unexpected ending.

The Spy Who Came for Christmas
Hank Wagner

Joining the growing trend of Christmas-themed books from authors ranging from John Grisham to Janet Evanovich is the latest thriller from genre trendsetter David Morrell. The Spy Who Came for Christmas succeeds in provoking thought, even as it quickens the pulse and updates classic suspense tropes as its compelling storyline feverishly unwinds.

Not surprising, given Morrell's praise for Geoffrey Household's revered 1939 novel Rogue Male, Spy begins with a chase, as the book's hero, Paul Kagan, flees a group of zealous pursuers through the streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In his favor, it's Christmas Eve, and almost everyone in town is outside, enjoying the local festivities. Working against him is the fact that he's been wounded by a former comrade. Additionally he's carrying an infant who may awake screaming at any moment. As the story gracefully unfurls, Morrell provides Kagan's gripping back story, leading up to the night in question, alternating between the spy's brutal past and his perilous present. Before the night is through, Kagan will risk everything to protect his precious cargo.

The author handles all these elements like the seasoned pro he is, producing a story that is quintessential Morrell: interesting background information subtly conveyed, well choreographed action, sympathetic characters, myriad pop culture references throughout, and most importantly, a compelling story that never relinquishes its grip on your imagination. Especially notable is Morrell's subversive take on the story of the Three Magi, told through the filter of a spy's perceptions--it alone is worth the price of admission.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

Joining the growing trend of Christmas-themed books from authors ranging from John Grisham to Janet Evanovich is the latest thriller from genre trendsetter David Morrell. The Spy Who Came for Christmas succeeds in provoking thought, even as it quickens the pulse and updates classic suspense tropes as its compelling storyline feverishly unwinds.

Not surprising, given Morrell's praise for Geoffrey Household's revered 1939 novel Rogue Male, Spy begins with a chase, as the book's hero, Paul Kagan, flees a group of zealous pursuers through the streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In his favor, it's Christmas Eve, and almost everyone in town is outside, enjoying the local festivities. Working against him is the fact that he's been wounded by a former comrade. Additionally he's carrying an infant who may awake screaming at any moment. As the story gracefully unfurls, Morrell provides Kagan's gripping back story, leading up to the night in question, alternating between the spy's brutal past and his perilous present. Before the night is through, Kagan will risk everything to protect his precious cargo.

The author handles all these elements like the seasoned pro he is, producing a story that is quintessential Morrell: interesting background information subtly conveyed, well choreographed action, sympathetic characters, myriad pop culture references throughout, and most importantly, a compelling story that never relinquishes its grip on your imagination. Especially notable is Morrell's subversive take on the story of the Three Magi, told through the filter of a spy's perceptions--it alone is worth the price of admission.

The Victoria Vanishes
Sue Emmons

This book about two aging senior detectives attached to the Peculiar Crimes Unit is a flat-out delightful read. The characterizations are deliciously deft, as are descriptions of London landmarks where John May and Arthur Bryant are on the prowl to solve, well, peculiar crimes. In this outing, the two crusty detectives are on the trail of a serial killer who murders women of a particular age in London pubs by an unknown, but very successful, method. One moment the victims are alive; a moment later, they are dead. The investigation crisscrosses with academia, politics, and infighting within the unit itself. This excellent tale makes a reader truly care about these characters, their touching foibles, and their concerns over approaching the end of their police careers. The Victoria Vanishes is a delightfully nuanced mix of R.D. Wingfield and Agatha Christie, with a touch a nod to Martha Grimes--only better.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

This book about two aging senior detectives attached to the Peculiar Crimes Unit is a flat-out delightful read. The characterizations are deliciously deft, as are descriptions of London landmarks where John May and Arthur Bryant are on the prowl to solve, well, peculiar crimes. In this outing, the two crusty detectives are on the trail of a serial killer who murders women of a particular age in London pubs by an unknown, but very successful, method. One moment the victims are alive; a moment later, they are dead. The investigation crisscrosses with academia, politics, and infighting within the unit itself. This excellent tale makes a reader truly care about these characters, their touching foibles, and their concerns over approaching the end of their police careers. The Victoria Vanishes is a delightfully nuanced mix of R.D. Wingfield and Agatha Christie, with a touch a nod to Martha Grimes--only better.

Veil of Lies
Joseph Scarpato Jr.

How often have you thought, "Why doesn't someone write a medieval noir, locked-room mystery?" Well, now someone has.

Stripped of his knighthood and worldly possessions because of a fierce but misguided loyalty, Crispin Guest is forced to travel the mean streets of 14th-century London as a private investigator. Needing money badly just to survive, Crispin, known on the streets as The Tracker, reluctantly takes on a case to discover if a rich merchant's wife is being unfaithful. Before he can report back, however, the merchant is found stabbed to death in a locked room.

Before the body has cooled, the merchant's wife--herself a suspect--asks Crispin to work for her, not just to clear her of the murder, but also to find a valuable relic that her husband had hidden somewhere on his extensive property. The relic is a veil similar to the Shroud of Turin, containing a likeness of Jesus and imbued with mystical powers. But she and Crispin aren't the only ones interested in the veil, and many challenges and dangers await our intrepid hero in his quest--not the least of which is an overbearing sheriff with whom Crispin has a curious respect/hate relationship.

One of the more interesting aspects of this authentic-feeling tale is the dichotomy between Crispin's acceptance of his new, lowly status and his inability to even think of himself as anyone other than a knight who could never fall in love with a commoner, even as his feelings for his client grow stronger. This is a strong first novel by California journalist Jeri Westerson, who is a frequent blogger and an ardent enthusiast of all things medieval.

Xav ID 1
2010-04-25 16:16:03

How often have you thought, "Why doesn't someone write a medieval noir, locked-room mystery?" Well, now someone has.

Stripped of his knighthood and worldly possessions because of a fierce but misguided loyalty, Crispin Guest is forced to travel the mean streets of 14th-century London as a private investigator. Needing money badly just to survive, Crispin, known on the streets as The Tracker, reluctantly takes on a case to discover if a rich merchant's wife is being unfaithful. Before he can report back, however, the merchant is found stabbed to death in a locked room.

Before the body has cooled, the merchant's wife--herself a suspect--asks Crispin to work for her, not just to clear her of the murder, but also to find a valuable relic that her husband had hidden somewhere on his extensive property. The relic is a veil similar to the Shroud of Turin, containing a likeness of Jesus and imbued with mystical powers. But she and Crispin aren't the only ones interested in the veil, and many challenges and dangers await our intrepid hero in his quest--not the least of which is an overbearing sheriff with whom Crispin has a curious respect/hate relationship.

One of the more interesting aspects of this authentic-feeling tale is the dichotomy between Crispin's acceptance of his new, lowly status and his inability to even think of himself as anyone other than a knight who could never fall in love with a commoner, even as his feelings for his client grow stronger. This is a strong first novel by California journalist Jeri Westerson, who is a frequent blogger and an ardent enthusiast of all things medieval.

At the Scene, Spring Issue #114
Kate Stine

Mystery Scene Spring Issue #114Hi everyone!

Of the hundreds of books that arrive in our office every season only a few inspire mad, hair-pulling scrambles—and Lisa Lutz’s Spellman mysteries are among the most hotly contested. Funny, hip, unpredictable, with a trace of melancholy beneath all the wisecracking—these books are true pleasures. And as Cheryl Solimini’s profile reveals, Lisa Lutz is just as much fun as her chaotic family of private eyes.

Brian and I are planning a trip to Europe this fall. Originally we were going to Amsterdam but after reading Tom Nolan’s interview with Cara Black, we’re seriously considering Paris instead. Take a look and maybe we’ll see you in Paris, too!

Also in this issue, Ed Gorman talks with Karen Berger, the founder of the famed Vertigo line of graphic novels and Charles L.P. Silet picks terrific gangster movies for your next movie night at home.

In addition to being two of the most celebrated crime writers of their generation, Larry Block and Don Westlake were lifelong friends. In his latest column, Larry ponders the literary road Don didn’t take—and discusses the publication of a long lost manuscript that shows an unexpected facet of Don’s talent.

Here’s a hot tip for your summer reading list—Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner, Oceanview Publishing, July 5, $27.95. This entertaining collection starts with Lee Child’s thoughts on Theseus and the Minotaur (1500 B.C.) and ends with Steve Berry’s take on Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code (2003). In between are some thought-provoking essays by contemporary stars of the thriller field. We’re reprinting one for you in this issue, Marcus Sakey’s appreciation of Lee Child’s Killing Floor, and we’ll have another one in the next issue. You’ll have to buy the book for the other 98 essays and, take my word for it, you should.

The New Mystery Scene Website

Brian and Teri have been slaving over the MS website—with spectacular results. It’s been months of hard work but we think you’ll enjoy all the new features and content online. For example: Tom Nolan’s article about Watchlist, the serial thriller collaboration by 21 big name authors such as Jeffery Deaver, Lisa Scottoline, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, S.J. Rozan, and Jim Fusilli.

Other articles are from sold-out back issues: “Trixie Belden: The Girl-Next-Door Sleuth” by Judith Sears; “No Escape: Jacques Futrelle and the Titanic” by Jeff Marks; “Charlie Chan: The Case of the Reviled Detective” by Jon L. Breen; and many more.

The 1,000+ Mystery Scene Reviews Database is at the new site as well. Of course, as massive as it is, this is only a small portion of the reviews we’ve published since 2002. Audiobooks, children’s books, small press titles, etc., are being added on an ongoing basis and there are some online original reviews in the mix as well.

The website has room for interesting stuff we couldn’t fit in the magazine, too. A case in point is a complete list of Crippen & Landru’s chapbooks. Many of these little booklets, created by C&L publisher Doug Greene as gifts, constitute the first publication of stories by major writers such as Tony Hillerman, Elizabeth Peters, Joe Gores, Peter Robinson, Nancy Pickard, and Margaret Maron. As such they are of great interest to fans and highly collectible to boot. (Oh, and all of Nate Pedersen’s articles on book collecting will be posted online, too.)

Are you reading electronically?

We’re not planning on abandoning print any time soon but we are curious to know how many of you are using a Kindle, iPad, or other electronic device for your crime fiction reading. Is it really the wave of the future? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your thoughts.

Kate Stine
Editor-in-chief

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 16:42:27

Mystery Scene Spring Issue #114Hi everyone!

Of the hundreds of books that arrive in our office every season only a few inspire mad, hair-pulling scrambles—and Lisa Lutz’s Spellman mysteries are among the most hotly contested. Funny, hip, unpredictable, with a trace of melancholy beneath all the wisecracking—these books are true pleasures. And as Cheryl Solimini’s profile reveals, Lisa Lutz is just as much fun as her chaotic family of private eyes.

Brian and I are planning a trip to Europe this fall. Originally we were going to Amsterdam but after reading Tom Nolan’s interview with Cara Black, we’re seriously considering Paris instead. Take a look and maybe we’ll see you in Paris, too!

Also in this issue, Ed Gorman talks with Karen Berger, the founder of the famed Vertigo line of graphic novels and Charles L.P. Silet picks terrific gangster movies for your next movie night at home.

In addition to being two of the most celebrated crime writers of their generation, Larry Block and Don Westlake were lifelong friends. In his latest column, Larry ponders the literary road Don didn’t take—and discusses the publication of a long lost manuscript that shows an unexpected facet of Don’s talent.

Here’s a hot tip for your summer reading list—Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner, Oceanview Publishing, July 5, $27.95. This entertaining collection starts with Lee Child’s thoughts on Theseus and the Minotaur (1500 B.C.) and ends with Steve Berry’s take on Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code (2003). In between are some thought-provoking essays by contemporary stars of the thriller field. We’re reprinting one for you in this issue, Marcus Sakey’s appreciation of Lee Child’s Killing Floor, and we’ll have another one in the next issue. You’ll have to buy the book for the other 98 essays and, take my word for it, you should.

The New Mystery Scene Website

Brian and Teri have been slaving over the MS website—with spectacular results. It’s been months of hard work but we think you’ll enjoy all the new features and content online. For example: Tom Nolan’s article about Watchlist, the serial thriller collaboration by 21 big name authors such as Jeffery Deaver, Lisa Scottoline, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, S.J. Rozan, and Jim Fusilli.

Other articles are from sold-out back issues: “Trixie Belden: The Girl-Next-Door Sleuth” by Judith Sears; “No Escape: Jacques Futrelle and the Titanic” by Jeff Marks; “Charlie Chan: The Case of the Reviled Detective” by Jon L. Breen; and many more.

The 1,000+ Mystery Scene Reviews Database is at the new site as well. Of course, as massive as it is, this is only a small portion of the reviews we’ve published since 2002. Audiobooks, children’s books, small press titles, etc., are being added on an ongoing basis and there are some online original reviews in the mix as well.

The website has room for interesting stuff we couldn’t fit in the magazine, too. A case in point is a complete list of Crippen & Landru’s chapbooks. Many of these little booklets, created by C&L publisher Doug Greene as gifts, constitute the first publication of stories by major writers such as Tony Hillerman, Elizabeth Peters, Joe Gores, Peter Robinson, Nancy Pickard, and Margaret Maron. As such they are of great interest to fans and highly collectible to boot. (Oh, and all of Nate Pedersen’s articles on book collecting will be posted online, too.)

Are you reading electronically?

We’re not planning on abandoning print any time soon but we are curious to know how many of you are using a Kindle, iPad, or other electronic device for your crime fiction reading. Is it really the wave of the future? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your thoughts.

Kate Stine
Editor-in-chief

Book Review Search

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2010-04-25 22:29:17

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Search the Mystery Scene Book Review Database
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2010-04-25 22:29:17
 
2010 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominations

The MWA’s 2010 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honors the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2009. The Edgar Awards will be presented at the 64th Gala Banquet, April 29, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

THE 2010 NOMINEES

BEST NOVEL
The Missing by Tim Gautreaux (Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
The Odds by Kathleen George (Minotaur Books)
The Last Child by John Hart (Minotaur Books)
Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston (Random House – Ballantine Books)
Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett (HarperCollins)
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano (Grand Central Publishing)
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley (Simon & Schuster – Touchstone)
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (MIRA Books)
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (HarperCollins)
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
Havana Lunar by Robert Arellano (Akashic Books)
The Lord God Bird by Russell Hill (Pleasure Boat Studio – Caravel Books)
Body Blows by Marc Strange (Dundurn Press – Castle Street Mysteries)
The Herring-Seller’s Apprentice by L.C. Tyler (Felony & Mayhem Press)

BEST FACT CRIME
Columbine by Dave Cullen (Hachette Book Group – Twelve)
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)
The Fence: A Police Cover-Up Along Boston’s Racial Divide by Dick Lehr (HarperCollins)
Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo (The Penguin Press)
Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R.A. Scotti (Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL
Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James (Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
The Lineup: The World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives edited by Otto Penzler (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)
Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak (Thomas Dunne Books)
The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar (St. Martin’s Press)
The Stephen King Illustrated Companion by Bev Vincent (Fall River Press)

BEST SHORT STORY
“Last Fair Deal Gone Down” – Crossroad Blues by Ace Atkins (Busted Flush Press)
“Femme Sole” – Boston Noir by Dana Cameron (Akashic Books)
“Digby, Attorney at Law” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Jim Fusilli (Dell Magazines)
“Animal Rescue” – Boston Noir by Dennis Lehane (Akashic Books
“Amapola” – Phoenix Noir by Luis Alberto Urrea (Akashic Books)

BEST JUVENILE
The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf)
Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books)
Creepy Crawly Crime by Aaron Reynolds (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer (Penguin Young Readers Group – Philomel Books)

BEST YOUNG ADULT
Reality Check by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperTeen)
If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)
The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking Children’s Books)
Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books)
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
“Place of Execution,” Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (PBS/WGBH Boston)
“Strike Three” – The Closer, Teleplay by Steven Kane (Warner Bros TV for TNT)
“Look What He Dug Up This Time” – Damages, Teleplay by Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler & Daniel Zelman (FX Networks)
“Grilled” – Breaking Bad, Teleplay by George Mastras (AMC/Sony)
“Living the Dream” – Dexter, Teleplay by Clyde Phillips (Showtime)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“A Dreadful Day” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Dan Warthman (Dell Magazines)

GRAND MASTER
Dorothy Gilman

RAVEN AWARDS
Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Zev Buffman, International Mystery Writers’ Festival

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
Poisoned Pen Press (Barbara Peters & Robert Rosenwald)

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER – MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 28, 2010)

Awakening by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)
Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof by Blaize Clement (Minotaur Books)
Never Tell a Lie by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Lethal Vintage by Nadia Gordon (Chronicle Books)
Dial H for Hitchcock by Susan Kandel (HarperCollins

Admin
2010-04-26 20:35:16

The MWA’s 2010 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honors the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2009. The Edgar Awards will be presented at the 64th Gala Banquet, April 29, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

THE 2010 NOMINEES

BEST NOVEL
The Missing by Tim Gautreaux (Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
The Odds by Kathleen George (Minotaur Books)
The Last Child by John Hart (Minotaur Books)
Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston (Random House – Ballantine Books)
Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett (HarperCollins)
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano (Grand Central Publishing)
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley (Simon & Schuster – Touchstone)
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (MIRA Books)
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (HarperCollins)
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
Havana Lunar by Robert Arellano (Akashic Books)
The Lord God Bird by Russell Hill (Pleasure Boat Studio – Caravel Books)
Body Blows by Marc Strange (Dundurn Press – Castle Street Mysteries)
The Herring-Seller’s Apprentice by L.C. Tyler (Felony & Mayhem Press)

BEST FACT CRIME
Columbine by Dave Cullen (Hachette Book Group – Twelve)
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)
The Fence: A Police Cover-Up Along Boston’s Racial Divide by Dick Lehr (HarperCollins)
Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo (The Penguin Press)
Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R.A. Scotti (Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL
Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James (Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
The Lineup: The World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives edited by Otto Penzler (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)
Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak (Thomas Dunne Books)
The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar (St. Martin’s Press)
The Stephen King Illustrated Companion by Bev Vincent (Fall River Press)

BEST SHORT STORY
“Last Fair Deal Gone Down” – Crossroad Blues by Ace Atkins (Busted Flush Press)
“Femme Sole” – Boston Noir by Dana Cameron (Akashic Books)
“Digby, Attorney at Law” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Jim Fusilli (Dell Magazines)
“Animal Rescue” – Boston Noir by Dennis Lehane (Akashic Books
“Amapola” – Phoenix Noir by Luis Alberto Urrea (Akashic Books)

BEST JUVENILE
The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf)
Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books)
Creepy Crawly Crime by Aaron Reynolds (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer (Penguin Young Readers Group – Philomel Books)

BEST YOUNG ADULT
Reality Check by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperTeen)
If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)
The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking Children’s Books)
Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books)
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
“Place of Execution,” Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (PBS/WGBH Boston)
“Strike Three” – The Closer, Teleplay by Steven Kane (Warner Bros TV for TNT)
“Look What He Dug Up This Time” – Damages, Teleplay by Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler & Daniel Zelman (FX Networks)
“Grilled” – Breaking Bad, Teleplay by George Mastras (AMC/Sony)
“Living the Dream” – Dexter, Teleplay by Clyde Phillips (Showtime)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“A Dreadful Day” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Dan Warthman (Dell Magazines)

GRAND MASTER
Dorothy Gilman

RAVEN AWARDS
Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Zev Buffman, International Mystery Writers’ Festival

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
Poisoned Pen Press (Barbara Peters & Robert Rosenwald)

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER – MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 28, 2010)

Awakening by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)
Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof by Blaize Clement (Minotaur Books)
Never Tell a Lie by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Lethal Vintage by Nadia Gordon (Chronicle Books)
Dial H for Hitchcock by Susan Kandel (HarperCollins