Treachery in the Yard
Verna Suit

In Port Harcourt, Nigeria, detective Tamunoemi Peterside investigates a bombing at the residence of gubernatorial candidate Pius Okpara. The obvious main suspect is a fixer who works for Okpara’s political opponent, Dr. Puene, but Peterside’s chief orders him to drop the case because he’s off track. “Powerful, highly placed men don’t have to resort to murder. That’s what money is for.” And besides, the suspect is part of a bigger investigation into a crime family. Peterside doesn’t drop the case, of course. Bodies pile up as witnesses, Dr. Puene’s associates, and even Peterside’s own friends and colleagues become targets.

Treachery in the Yard is a straightforward, uncluttered police procedural, although respect for procedure among the Nigerian police often appears nominal. Peterside admits he doesn’t have patience for procedure and just does what he needs to do. The spare story matches the leanness of police assets, where computers are rare and officers still rely on paper and “experience, common sense, instinct, judgment.” Unfortunately, the universal police problem of distrust within the department plagues Nigeria, too.

This first novel is to be the beginning of a Lt. Peterside series, and a laudable addition to crime literature from a less familiar part of the world. Perhaps future books will include more extensive details of Nigerian daily life, such as a wonderful description of the popular meal of pounded yam and bitterleaf soup. Nonetheless, simple as the writing of Treachery in the Yard may be, the crime is tangled. Ibe has figured out how to keep readers guessing to the end.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-09 18:46:54

ibe_treacheryintheyardA new police procedural set in Nigeria featuring Lt. Tamunoemi Peterside.

Blind Man's Alley
Leslie Doran

Peacock's second novel, following 2008's A Cure for Night, grabs readers by the throat with the first sentence: "They were three hundred feet in the air when the floor gave out beneath them." It's a dramatic 25-story fall of three workers tumbling from a skyscraper in New York City. Duncan Riley, a young, upwardly mobile lawyer in a prestigious firm gets assigned to help defend the building's developer, Roth Properties, from the resulting lawsuits.

Duncan also gets the dubious honor of leading a pro bono action to save a poor Puerto Rican, Rafael Narzario, from eviction from Jacob Riis, an inner city public housing neighborhood. It is slated for demolition and will be changed into mixed-income housing, allowing the developer to sell some units for a pretty profit. The developer in this case? Also Roth Properties.

Soon Duncan’s simple eviction assignment is upgraded to murder when Rafael is arrested for killing a security man at Jacob Riis. Sensing a conflict of interest, and completely inexperienced as a criminal trial lawyer, Duncan tries to extract himself from the case, but becomes convinced that Rafael is innocent.

Faced with questions about right and wrong, in the eyes of the law and in the heart, Duncan’s growth as a lawyer with a conscious is an uneven trajectory that brings him closer to acknowledging the effect of his bi-racial heritage on his ethical choices. Ultimately he must choose whether to do the right thing—no matter the personal cost.

Peacock's thoughtful legal thriller shines the light on the human foibles of greed, sloth, moral weakness, and entitlement that drive its less-than-perfect characters, while also giving readers a climpse into the live the lives of the rich and privileged—especially those who are protected from the results of their poor choices. Despite some familiar plot clichés, the interesting questions raised, the human foibles keenly examined, and the rich characterization of its young lawyer protaganist provides ample reason to enjoy this journey.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-09 19:11:08

peacock_blindmansalley

Burn
Leslie Doran

Anna Pigeon is in New Orleans regrouping after her last adventure in Borderline. She's newly married to Paul Davidson, a Mississippi preacher and the sheriff of Adams County, but instead of joining Paul at his home in Port Gibson, Anna decides to visit her friend, Geneva, a ranger for the Jazz Historical Park, in the “Big Easy” for a holiday.

Anna is like a fish out of water in this gritty, urban setting where the murder count is the highest in the nation. Just away from the popular tourist areas lies an underbelly that features roaming bands of “gutter punks” who threaten anyone who dare invade their territory. When Anna discovers that one of these people, a waif-like character known as Jordan, is actually a tenant in Geneva's house, she feels compelled to investigate. What Anna discovers will turn the stomach of even the most hardened reader.

But the real heart of this story begins with a separate plot line thread far from New Orleans in Seattle, Washington, where Clare Sullivan, an actress, wife, and loving mother of two, loses everything when her life literally goes up in flames and she's accused of the crime and the murders of her family. When Clare discovers that there is a chance her daughters may be alive, she begins a harrowing journey that takes her to New Orleans and into Anna Pigeon's world.

The story gets off to a slightly disjointed start as multiple characters in separate locales are introduced, but as their stories intertwine, Barr hits her stride and the action and suspense soar. And while fans of this series already know and love Anna, they'll be thoroughly taken by the well-drawn portrait of Clare, whose determination, commitment, and bravery, make Burn a testament a mother's love. Barr's rich and evocative portrayal of New Orleans makes the perfect backdrop for this tale of humanity at its worst and best in a book sure to capture readers till the final page is consumed.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-09 19:23:57

barr_burnBig trouble follows Anna Pigeon in the Big Easy in the 16th installment of this bestselling series.

Tough Customer
Hank Wagner

Decades prior to the tense opening of Tough Customer, irascible PI Dodge Hanley found himself in the second stage of fictional romance. That is, after “getting the girl,” one Caroline King, Hanley, then a policeman, lost her due to his dedication to his job. Contrary to the formula, however, Hanley never reunited with his love to live happily ever after. When Caroline seeks his help some 30 years later in a case involving an attack on her daughter Berry, he gets his chance to set things right. Unfortunately, her assailant cares nothing for Hanley’s or Berry’s happiness, continuing his relentless pursuit of his target, and confounding his pursuers at every turn.

Brown’s latest has something for everyone, not surprising in a novel penned by the veteran author of nearly five dozen New York Times bestsellers. For romance fans, Brown chronicles not one but two rocky relationships, one between Hanley and King, the other between Berry and investigating police officer “Ski” Nyland. For those who favor thrillers, there’s the lethal game of cat and mouse between Oren Starks, the crafty villain of the piece, and the police. Finally, for those who crave suspense, there are myriad twists and turns throughout the novel, as Brown keeps her readers guessing at the outcome until the book’s final pages.

The reason Brown is considered, as per her publicity materials, “royalty in whatever genre she writes,” is that she’s simply the best at what she does; Tough Customer provides further proof of that assertion, as if any were needed.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-09 20:03:44

brown_toughcustomerSuspense, romance, and legal thrills prove once again why Brown is one of the best at what she does.

The Brixton Brothers: the Case of Mistaken Identity
Roberta Rogow

Adult fans of the old Hardy Boys books will recognize their heroes in The Brixton Brothers: The Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett. Steve Brixton, stuck in his boring small town, finds excitement in re-reading the exploits of The Bailey Brothers, heroes of a slightly outdated book series. When a mystery unfolds at the local library, Steve uses the advice given in The Bailey Brothers Detective Handbook to unravel a complex case involving books, quilts, and a very unhappy librarian. Steve’s mishaps incur the wrath of his widowed mother’s suitor, a local cop, but he gamely follows the clues and reveals a most unlikely criminal. Illustrations by Adam Rex evoke the 1950s atmosphere of the original series, and the excerpts from the putative Bailey Brothers books will have adults either grinning or groaning. Younger readers may decide to take a look at the Hardy Boys to see what is driving Steve to greater glory. More to come!

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 19:25:54

Adult fans of the old Hardy Boys books will recognize their heroes in The Brixton Brothers: The Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett. Steve Brixton, stuck in his boring small town, finds excitement in re-reading the exploits of The Bailey Brothers, heroes of a slightly outdated book series. When a mystery unfolds at the local library, Steve uses the advice given in The Bailey Brothers Detective Handbook to unravel a complex case involving books, quilts, and a very unhappy librarian. Steve’s mishaps incur the wrath of his widowed mother’s suitor, a local cop, but he gamely follows the clues and reveals a most unlikely criminal. Illustrations by Adam Rex evoke the 1950s atmosphere of the original series, and the excerpts from the putative Bailey Brothers books will have adults either grinning or groaning. Younger readers may decide to take a look at the Hardy Boys to see what is driving Steve to greater glory. More to come!

Jack: Secret Circles
Roberta Rogow

In Jack: Secret Circles by F. Paul Wilson the boy who will grow up to become Repairman Jack is finding strange creatures and stranger doings in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. A five-year-old boy is missing; a local politician is abusing his wife; and the previously empty clubhouse in the Barrens suddenly has an occupant. Jack tries to find the boy, draw the attention of the adult community to the wife-batterer, and penetrate the mysteries of the clubhouse, but his efforts are only partly successful. What looks like a simple act of kindness can lead to unexpected consequences. Wilson’s new fans will appreciate the timeline and bibliography of the Secret History of the World series, which will lead them to the adult novels and stories that make up the Repairman Jack series.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 19:41:43

wilson_secretcirclesA young Repairman Jack is finding strange creatures and stranger doings in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

Dani Noir
Roberta Rogow

A past era is evoked in Nova Ren Suman’s Dani Noir. Thirteen-year-old Dani is spending a miserable summer in her small town near Albany, New York, her best friend has moved away, and her parents are in the middle of a stressful divorce that has left her mother severely depressed while her father fusses over his new partner (a much younger woman with a daughter slightly older than Dani). Dani’s only relief from all this is the local movie theater that specializes in film noir. Dani projects those dark fantasies into real life when she suspects Jackson, the theater’s college-age projectionist, of carrying on two romances at the same time. Using the techniques of her favorite heroines and heroes, Dani schemes to trap the young Lothario and reveal his cheating ways. The plot backfires, as it does in so many of those films, and Dani learns that life is not always like the movies, and true friendship can be found in the most unlikely places. A coming-of-age story that may send a few young readers to the DVD shelves to check out those Golden Oldies that have Dani so enthralled.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-12 00:57:41

suma_daninoirUsing the techniques of her favorite heroines and heroes, 13-year-old Dani learns things are not always what they seem while spending a summer in upstate New York.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: the Mysterious Howling
Roberta Rogow

Dark mysteries lurk in Maryrose Wood’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling when 15-year-old Penelope Lumley is sent from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females to take charge of three children who seem to have been brought up by wolves in the forest surrounding the manor, Ashton Place. Penelope tackles her assignment with all the dignity that any Victorian governess can muster, but there are too many questions left unasked. Why does Lord Fredrick Ashton, her employer, insist that he owns the children because “finders, keepers”? Who sent the thespians to Lady Constance Ashton’s Christmas party with instructions to perform a play that would certainly send the children into a frenzy? And why does Penelope’s hair color almost certainly match that of the children? Not all the mysteries are solved, leaving room for the next thrilling installment in this send-up of every Victorian Governess novel ever written.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 20:38:00

wood_incorrigiblechildrenYoung governess Penelope is charged with three wild children and a Christmas mystery.

Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler’s Imagined City
Jon L. Breen

The daughter of filmmaker Roger Corman pairs photographs of Los Angeles landmarks, some under their real names (e.g., the Chinese Theater, Bullocks Wilshire) and others chosen to represent fictional locales (e.g., General Sternwood’s residence, Florian’s), with quotations from Chandler’s novels. Jonathan Lethem’s brief preface and Corman’s introduction are nicely written. The photos, per my photographic consultant, range from impressive (the cover shot especially) to routine. Though not an essential item, it’s a good addition to completist collections.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 20:48:21

corman_daylightnoirPhotographer Catherine Corman captures L.A. noir in a new coffee table book prefaced by Jonathan Lethem.

The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion: an Illustrated Encyclopedia
Jon L. Breen

More a reference book for specialists than an introduction to Jack the Ripper’s crimes for general readers, this compendium of primary sources includes inquest transcripts, police reports and memos, contemporary newspaper accounts, letters purportedly from the Ripper, crime scene photographs, and other illustrations.

It would be an invaluable source for historical mystery writers taking a crack at the Whitechapel mystery—there have been many already such and are bound to be more. An index and detailed table of contents make the material easy to navigate. An appendix gives useful biographies of senior police and Home Office officials involved in the investigation. Familiar suspects who were considered at the time (e.g., Montague John Druitt, George Chapman) appear, but suspects identified by later theorists (e.g., Walter Sickert, the Duke of Clarence) do not. (This is a reprint of the hardcover edition published by Carroll & Graf in 2000.)

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 21:02:46

More a reference book for specialists than an introduction to Jack the Ripper’s crimes for general readers, this compendium of primary sources includes inquest transcripts, police reports and memos, contemporary newspaper accounts, letters purportedly from the Ripper, crime scene photographs, and other illustrations.

It would be an invaluable source for historical mystery writers taking a crack at the Whitechapel mystery—there have been many already such and are bound to be more. An index and detailed table of contents make the material easy to navigate. An appendix gives useful biographies of senior police and Home Office officials involved in the investigation. Familiar suspects who were considered at the time (e.g., Montague John Druitt, George Chapman) appear, but suspects identified by later theorists (e.g., Walter Sickert, the Duke of Clarence) do not. (This is a reprint of the hardcover edition published by Carroll & Graf in 2000.)

Serial Vigilantes of Paperback Fiction: an Encyclopedia From Able Team to Z-Comm
Jon L. Breen

The most famous characters represented in the titular subgenre are Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan, The Executioner, and Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy’s Remo Williams, The Destroyer. But through the late 1960s and since, they have had more colleagues than you might have imagined, around 130 per the back cover blurb. Arranged alphabetically from Able Team (51 titles by various writers under the house name Dick Stivers) to Z-Comm (four books by David Alexander writing as Kyle Maning), each main entry describes the series and its central character, gives biographical information on the author where appropriate, and lists the titles with entry numbers and dates of publication. Appearances in comics, films, and other media are noted after the title listings. In cases of house names and ghost writing, the real author’s name when known appears in parentheses after the title. Especially interesting to pseudonym buffs is the listing under Killmaster, the espionage incarnation of Nick Carter. Among the writers behind the Carter name over the 261-volume series were Michael Avallone, Lionel White, Thomas Chastain, Martin Cruz Smith, W.T. Ballard, Dennis Lynds, Bill Crider, Robert J. Randisi, and Gayle Lynds. Thirty-two pages of appendices discuss such matters as crossovers, reference sources, parodies, one-shots, precursors (Robin Hood, Bulldog Drummond, the Saint, plus various private eyes and characters from comics and hero pulps), and the future of the form. Despite the title, some characters who appeared in hardcover, e.g. Jeff Lindsay’s serial killer Dexter Morgan, have been included.

Unfortunately, the index is inconsistent in its coverage: There is no explanation of guidelines for inclusion, and some personal names that come up in the lists and appendices don’t appear. Since Allen J. Hubin’s crime fiction bibliography is presumably the source of most of the pseudonym information, a nod in the one-page secondary bibliography would have been appropriate. Though arguably for a very specialized audience, this reference will please pulp and paperback scholars.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 21:11:56

mengel_serialvigilantesA reference to the titular subgenre of heroes sure to please pulp and paperback scholars.

The Lineup: the World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives
Jon L. Breen

In 1978, this editor/publisher combo brought us The Great Detectives (see WAM #81), in which 26 writers discussed their series characters. In the 30 years since, many more have come into prominence, 21 of whom contributed to a series of chapbooks published for customers of Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop. Contributors range alphabetically from Ken Bruen on Jack Taylor (setting a record for one-word paragraphs) to Alexander McCall Smith on Precious Ramotswe. Others taking a straight autobiographical approach are Lee Child on Jack Reacher, Michael Connelly on Harry Bosch, John Connolly on Charlie Parker, John Harvey on Charlie Resnick, Stephen Hunter on Bob Lee Swagger, Faye Kellerman on Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, Jonathan Kellerman on Alex Delaware, John Lescroart on Dismas Hardy, David Morrell on Rambo, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child on Aloysius X.L. Pendergast, and Ian Rankin on John Rebus.

Varying the pattern slightly is Colin Dexter on Morse, who responds to common reader inquiries in a Q-and-A format. Robert Crais conducts an imaginary interview with Elvis Cole. Carol O’Connell does a straight character profile of Mallory using quotations from her books. Laura Lippman writes an imaginary newspaper profile of Tess Monaghan. Four choose to provide a fictional narrative, leaving the author out of the picture completely: Jeffery Deaver on Lincoln Rhyme, Robert B. Parker on Spenser, Ridley Pearson on Lou Boldt, and Ann Perry on Charlotte and Thomas Pitt.

Any fan sufficiently immersed in the genre to be reading Mystery Scene will take pleasure in this book’s insights into the contributors, their career arcs, and their creative processes. Some readers will be bothered by the masculine bias, though, with only four female writers included. Unlike The Great Detectives, no bibliographies of the authors’ series are included, but these are easily available elsewhere.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 21:25:00

penzler_lineupAn enjoyable read for fans of detective fiction featuring Ken Bruen, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, and Laura Lippman, among others.

Secret Lament
Betty Webb

One of the best is Roz Southey’s Secret Lament, which transports us back to 1736 and the dual-dimensioned world of Charles Patterson, composer, music teacher, and sometimes-detective. Patterson is once again (after Broken Harmony and Chords and Discords) set upon by ruffians while he is trying to keep body and soul together by playing in a theatrical band. When someone attempts to kill director John Mazzanti, Patterson agrees to find the culprit. However, it’s Julia, Mazzanti’s daughter, who winds up dead.

The weird delights of this semi-occult series can’t be overstated. While Patterson snoops through the streets of Newcastle, England, spirits of the dead do what they can to aid him. Unfortunately, they can’t move from the very spot where they met their ends, thus their help is limited—and they also carry grudges. Protagonist Patterson is everything one could wish for in a self-styled detective: affable, when he’s not bashing crooks on the head with skillets; proud, because he recognizes his own musical talent even though the powers-that-be don’t; and curious, especially on his forays in to the parallel dimension that looks almost—but not quite—similar to his own. Time spent with Patterson in 18th century England is a goofy and hilarious trip down History Lane

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 21:43:22

One of the best is Roz Southey’s Secret Lament, which transports us back to 1736 and the dual-dimensioned world of Charles Patterson, composer, music teacher, and sometimes-detective. Patterson is once again (after Broken Harmony and Chords and Discords) set upon by ruffians while he is trying to keep body and soul together by playing in a theatrical band. When someone attempts to kill director John Mazzanti, Patterson agrees to find the culprit. However, it’s Julia, Mazzanti’s daughter, who winds up dead.

The weird delights of this semi-occult series can’t be overstated. While Patterson snoops through the streets of Newcastle, England, spirits of the dead do what they can to aid him. Unfortunately, they can’t move from the very spot where they met their ends, thus their help is limited—and they also carry grudges. Protagonist Patterson is everything one could wish for in a self-styled detective: affable, when he’s not bashing crooks on the head with skillets; proud, because he recognizes his own musical talent even though the powers-that-be don’t; and curious, especially on his forays in to the parallel dimension that looks almost—but not quite—similar to his own. Time spent with Patterson in 18th century England is a goofy and hilarious trip down History Lane

Grinder
Betty Webb

Mike Knowles’ Grinder is made of tougher stuff, with a protagonist vaguely reminiscent of Lee Childs’ unstoppable Jack Reacher. But Knowles’ Wilson is the man the Mob turns to when the job is too dirty for even their soiled hands. When Wilson tires of his blood-splattered life and attempts to retire to a small Canadian fishing village, he finds himself sucked back in when his former boss’ teenage nephews go missing. The boys have incautiously made a web video in which they not only brag about their family ties to the Mob, but list the various crimes committed by its individual members—and are further foolish enough to name names. Mob boss Don Paolo hires Wilson to bring the boys back alive or, failing that, to kill the men responsible for their deaths. This tale of a man trying desperately to atone for his violent past is a stunner, and we can’t help but root for this reformed killer as he loosens the ties that bind. Although there’s much shoot ’em up action here, the story’s real strength lies in the author’s exploration of Wilson’s troubled soul.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-11 21:53:55

Mike Knowles’ Grinder is made of tougher stuff, with a protagonist vaguely reminiscent of Lee Childs’ unstoppable Jack Reacher. But Knowles’ Wilson is the man the Mob turns to when the job is too dirty for even their soiled hands. When Wilson tires of his blood-splattered life and attempts to retire to a small Canadian fishing village, he finds himself sucked back in when his former boss’ teenage nephews go missing. The boys have incautiously made a web video in which they not only brag about their family ties to the Mob, but list the various crimes committed by its individual members—and are further foolish enough to name names. Mob boss Don Paolo hires Wilson to bring the boys back alive or, failing that, to kill the men responsible for their deaths. This tale of a man trying desperately to atone for his violent past is a stunner, and we can’t help but root for this reformed killer as he loosens the ties that bind. Although there’s much shoot ’em up action here, the story’s real strength lies in the author’s exploration of Wilson’s troubled soul.

The Murder Room: the Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases
Joseph Scarpato, Jr.

Before television shows like CSI and Cold Case and before Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta medical examiner mysteries, there were actual forensic investigators bringing serial killers and other murderers to justice long after their trails had grown as cold as the victims they had killed. The Murder Room, although reading like a mystery novel, is a celebration of the actual achievements of these remarkable justice seekers.

The idea to hold a monthly meeting in Philadelphia of the finest criminal justice minds in the country (and from around the world) was the brainchild of former FBI agent, Bill Fleischer and two of his friends. Frank Bender was a forensic sculptor who could recreate faces from the barest-boned of skeletons and Richard Walter was a forensic psychologist who could develop uncannily correct profiles of killers from just looking at a crime scene. The common bond among them was a feeling that too many murders were going unsolved and the victims' families deserved justice.

Calling themselves the Vidocq Society (named after the 19th century French detective who founded the Surete in Paris, inspired the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and was a model for Scotland Yard), this unique gathering of detectives, beginning in 1989, would study an unsolved murder at each meeting and use their unique investigative skills to solve them. This book chronicles some of their most intriguing cases, some going back as far as 50 years.

A case I found particularly interesting involved a man who massacred his entire family one afternoon, including his wife, his mother, and three children, then calmly left notes for his neighbors and pastor before escaping and avoiding justice for more than 18 years. A combination of psychology and an artistic rendering of how he might look after so long—including horn-rimmed glasses as a disguise—resulted in his capture. Although some of the cases are heartbreaking and horrendous, their solutions are all the more satisfying because they are not fiction. Michael Capuzzo has been a prize-winning reporter and columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Miami Herald.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-15 13:02:57

capuzzo_murderroomA new book celebrating the achievements of the legendary Vidocq Society.

Authors to Go on Uso Tour
Oline Cogdill
titlealt altalt
No matter what you think of the war in Iraq, the soldiers need our support, respect and concern. Of that, I think there should be no debate.

And there has been a long history of the USO -- the United Service Organization -- providing our troops though the years with entertainment, socialization, recreation and anything to boost their morale.

Now authors are joining the campaign in the first USO tour to feature writers.

During the fall, some of the nation’s New York Times best-selling thriller authors will deploy to the Persian Gulf on a week-long USO tour to visit and uplift troops. The tour, fittingly entitled Operation Thriller, begins with a visit to Washington, D.C., where the group will visit with troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center. The authors will then fly to the Persian Gulf to talk fiction, spread cheer and, most importantly, show their gratitude.
alt

While in the Gulf, the authors will visit multiple posts, sign autographs, pose for photos, and distribute advance copies of their upcoming novels.

Due to security reasons, the countries and tour dates cannot be released at this time.
The authors who are giving of their time to show their support for the troops are:
Steve Berry (The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, and the upcoming Emperor's Tomb);

David Morrell (First Blood, in which Rambo was created, The Brotherhood of the Rose, Shimmers);
Doug Preston (The Monster of Florence and Relic, which was made into a No. 1 box office movie);
James Rollins (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the Sigma Force series including The Doomsday Key);

Andy Harp (A Northern Thunder)
I think this venture is absolutely wonderful. And a good way to show our gratitude is to buy their books so they and other authors can continue to do this.
Xav ID 577
2010-08-17 20:35:38
titlealt altalt
No matter what you think of the war in Iraq, the soldiers need our support, respect and concern. Of that, I think there should be no debate.

And there has been a long history of the USO -- the United Service Organization -- providing our troops though the years with entertainment, socialization, recreation and anything to boost their morale.

Now authors are joining the campaign in the first USO tour to feature writers.

During the fall, some of the nation’s New York Times best-selling thriller authors will deploy to the Persian Gulf on a week-long USO tour to visit and uplift troops. The tour, fittingly entitled Operation Thriller, begins with a visit to Washington, D.C., where the group will visit with troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center. The authors will then fly to the Persian Gulf to talk fiction, spread cheer and, most importantly, show their gratitude.
alt

While in the Gulf, the authors will visit multiple posts, sign autographs, pose for photos, and distribute advance copies of their upcoming novels.

Due to security reasons, the countries and tour dates cannot be released at this time.
The authors who are giving of their time to show their support for the troops are:
Steve Berry (The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, and the upcoming Emperor's Tomb);

David Morrell (First Blood, in which Rambo was created, The Brotherhood of the Rose, Shimmers);
Doug Preston (The Monster of Florence and Relic, which was made into a No. 1 box office movie);
James Rollins (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the Sigma Force series including The Doomsday Key);

Andy Harp (A Northern Thunder)
I think this venture is absolutely wonderful. And a good way to show our gratitude is to buy their books so they and other authors can continue to do this.
Mysteries About War
Oline Cogdill
The recent blog about authors going on the USO tour in Iraq to visit the troops made me think about how the mystery genre has handled war and its aftermath.

And I think that the mystery genre has done the best at depicting war, its affect on soldiers and civilians and on countries. I don't think mainstream fiction has done as good a job or as an intensive job as have mystery writers.

It can be from a mention of a character's background -- as Michael Connelly does with Harry Bosch, a Vietnam War veteran, or the creation of an iconic character as David Morrell did with First Blood, which introduced Rambo.
alt
It doesn't matter which war, either, because the issues are the same, no matter the era. Our complicated feelings about war don't really change through the years; soliders during and after World War II dealt with the same issues that affect our men and women who have fought and are fighting in the Persian Gulf.

Here are just a few authors who have used war as a background to intriguing mysteries. The trick that each of these authors has mastered is making the reader care about an individual killing amid so much death. So the theme that emerges in each of these mysteries is that every death matters.

In no particular order:
alt
John Connolly: The Whisperers -- Connolly uses his series about the volatile private detective Charlie Parker to show a different side of the stress and fears that soldiers cope with returning from Iraq.

Charles Todd: The Red Door -- Todd again shows that this series about Ian Rutledge, a battle-fatigued World War I veteran and Scotland Yard detective, is as fresh and original as when the shell-shocked detective debuted 12 novels ago.

Charles Todd: An Impartial Death -- While Todd's series about Ian Rutledge looks at post-WWI, this new series about British army nurse Bess Crawford is set two years into the Great War when an end, let alone a victory, seemed impossible.

Kelli Stanley: City of Dragons -- Stanley never misses a beat as she also shows San Francisco’s hidden corners, seething emotions in the days before WWII. Stanley expertly depicts an America that will be pulled into a world war within a year and city fractured by racial prejudice against the Japanese.

James R. Benn: Rag and Bone -- Benn's fifth WWII novel featuring Lt. Billy Boyle is wrapped around politics and war secrets as the story involves a look at the execution of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest.

Sara Paretsky: Body Work -- The Chicago author looks at post-war stress of young veterans of the Iraqi war in her 14th novel featuring tough private detective V.I. Warshawski.

altJacqueline Winspear: The Marriage of Love and Death -- The aftermath of WWI and how it changed British society are realized through the plucky heroine Maisie Dobbs.

Rennie Airth: The Dead of Winter -- Airth’s third police procedural delivers an astute view of London and rural England during the waning days of World War II.

Christopher Rice: Blind Fall -- Rice looks at gay soldiers as a Marine teams up with the lover of his murdered captain to avenge the death of the man he trusted most.

Yes, this is just a smattering of the many authors who use war in their mysteries. Tell us who are your favorites.
Xav ID 577
2010-08-22 01:54:45
The recent blog about authors going on the USO tour in Iraq to visit the troops made me think about how the mystery genre has handled war and its aftermath.

And I think that the mystery genre has done the best at depicting war, its affect on soldiers and civilians and on countries. I don't think mainstream fiction has done as good a job or as an intensive job as have mystery writers.

It can be from a mention of a character's background -- as Michael Connelly does with Harry Bosch, a Vietnam War veteran, or the creation of an iconic character as David Morrell did with First Blood, which introduced Rambo.
alt
It doesn't matter which war, either, because the issues are the same, no matter the era. Our complicated feelings about war don't really change through the years; soliders during and after World War II dealt with the same issues that affect our men and women who have fought and are fighting in the Persian Gulf.

Here are just a few authors who have used war as a background to intriguing mysteries. The trick that each of these authors has mastered is making the reader care about an individual killing amid so much death. So the theme that emerges in each of these mysteries is that every death matters.

In no particular order:
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John Connolly: The Whisperers -- Connolly uses his series about the volatile private detective Charlie Parker to show a different side of the stress and fears that soldiers cope with returning from Iraq.

Charles Todd: The Red Door -- Todd again shows that this series about Ian Rutledge, a battle-fatigued World War I veteran and Scotland Yard detective, is as fresh and original as when the shell-shocked detective debuted 12 novels ago.

Charles Todd: An Impartial Death -- While Todd's series about Ian Rutledge looks at post-WWI, this new series about British army nurse Bess Crawford is set two years into the Great War when an end, let alone a victory, seemed impossible.

Kelli Stanley: City of Dragons -- Stanley never misses a beat as she also shows San Francisco’s hidden corners, seething emotions in the days before WWII. Stanley expertly depicts an America that will be pulled into a world war within a year and city fractured by racial prejudice against the Japanese.

James R. Benn: Rag and Bone -- Benn's fifth WWII novel featuring Lt. Billy Boyle is wrapped around politics and war secrets as the story involves a look at the execution of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest.

Sara Paretsky: Body Work -- The Chicago author looks at post-war stress of young veterans of the Iraqi war in her 14th novel featuring tough private detective V.I. Warshawski.

altJacqueline Winspear: The Marriage of Love and Death -- The aftermath of WWI and how it changed British society are realized through the plucky heroine Maisie Dobbs.

Rennie Airth: The Dead of Winter -- Airth’s third police procedural delivers an astute view of London and rural England during the waning days of World War II.

Christopher Rice: Blind Fall -- Rice looks at gay soldiers as a Marine teams up with the lover of his murdered captain to avenge the death of the man he trusted most.

Yes, this is just a smattering of the many authors who use war in their mysteries. Tell us who are your favorites.
Michael Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer Filming
Oline Cogdill
Too often it seems as if novels are optioned by for movies but never get made. Sometimes those options are reoptioned and then reoptioned and the film never gets made.
That won't be the case of The Lincoln Lawyer, Michael Connelly's award-winning 2005 novel about a lawyer who conducts his business in the back of his Lincoln Town Car.
altFilming began in July on the movie adaptation. Matthew McConaughey stars as Mickey Haller, the lawyer comfortablely ensconsed in his backseat. In The Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey defends a wealthy Beverly Hills playboy accused of molesting a woman.
Although he sees the case in terms of how many billable hours he'll rack up, Mickey also comes to believe that his client may be that rarity -- an innocent man.

True to Connelly's work, The Lincoln Lawyer is a multi-layered novel. The realities of being a lawyer and the practicalities of the law itself get a workout in Connelly's novel, which won the Macavity from the Mystery Readers International and the Shamus from the Private Eye Writers of America. It was also nominated for an Edgar Award, from the Mystery Writers of America, and for an Anthony, from Bouchercon, among other nominations.
By the way, Connelly's next novel The Reversal, to be published in October, will feature Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch.

The Lincoln Lawyer also will feature Marisa Tomei as Maggie McPherson, with Brad Furman directing from a screenplay by John Romano. Other co-stars include Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Michael Pena, Trace Adkins, and Katherine Moennig.
The Lincoln Lawyer is scheduled to be released Spring 2011. It's on imdb.com, so it must be true.
PHOTO: Matthew McConaughey, Michael Connelly on the set of The Lincoln Lawyer. Photo Credit: Saeed Adyani
Xav ID 577
2010-08-25 17:14:55
Too often it seems as if novels are optioned by for movies but never get made. Sometimes those options are reoptioned and then reoptioned and the film never gets made.
That won't be the case of The Lincoln Lawyer, Michael Connelly's award-winning 2005 novel about a lawyer who conducts his business in the back of his Lincoln Town Car.
altFilming began in July on the movie adaptation. Matthew McConaughey stars as Mickey Haller, the lawyer comfortablely ensconsed in his backseat. In The Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey defends a wealthy Beverly Hills playboy accused of molesting a woman.
Although he sees the case in terms of how many billable hours he'll rack up, Mickey also comes to believe that his client may be that rarity -- an innocent man.

True to Connelly's work, The Lincoln Lawyer is a multi-layered novel. The realities of being a lawyer and the practicalities of the law itself get a workout in Connelly's novel, which won the Macavity from the Mystery Readers International and the Shamus from the Private Eye Writers of America. It was also nominated for an Edgar Award, from the Mystery Writers of America, and for an Anthony, from Bouchercon, among other nominations.
By the way, Connelly's next novel The Reversal, to be published in October, will feature Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch.

The Lincoln Lawyer also will feature Marisa Tomei as Maggie McPherson, with Brad Furman directing from a screenplay by John Romano. Other co-stars include Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Michael Pena, Trace Adkins, and Katherine Moennig.
The Lincoln Lawyer is scheduled to be released Spring 2011. It's on imdb.com, so it must be true.
PHOTO: Matthew McConaughey, Michael Connelly on the set of The Lincoln Lawyer. Photo Credit: Saeed Adyani
Murder in the Air
Joseph Scarpato, Jr.

There's something rotten in the air in Sheriff Dan Rhodes' Texas county, and it's the fowl smell of chickens from a giant chicken farm owned by one Lester Hamilton (the chickens aren't giant-sized; the farm is). Unfortunately, though the citizens are up in arms about it, the sheriff can't do much about the smell. However, when Lester is shortly found floating face down in an abandoned rock pit, the investigation gives Rhodes a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

The sheriff is faced with the difficult task of finding out who hated Lester enough to kill him, which was just about everybody within a mile or two of the farm. And hate wasn't the only possible motive, seeing as the deceased was a wealthy man and the farm a valuable asset. Who stood to gain from his death?

Rhodes is soft-spoken, straight-forward, determined, and has a dry sense of humor that helps him deal with officious politicians and ornery townsfolk alike. It also comes in handy when he has to deal with his two deputies who vie with each other to try his patience using Abbott and Costello style routines that would have made those two venerable movie comics blush. If you can handle their wisecracking humor and painful puns such as "No Les, no more," you'll enjoy this otherwise straight-forward police procedural with a Texas drawl.

This is the 17th Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, the first of which won an Anthony Award for Best First Novel. In Murder in the Air, although Crider breaks no new ground, he continues his mastery of the series that remains as popular as ever.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-23 19:03:26

crider_murderintheairA fowl and funny mystery featuring Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes.

Power Slide
Lynne F. Maxwell

Dunlap has written three other mysteries in her Darcy Lott series—A Single Eye, Hungry Ghosts, and Civil Twilight—but her most recent offering, Power Slide, is my favorite thus far. For the uninitiated, Darcy Lott is an engaging series heroine who happens to have a most unusual profession. As a stunt double working in the Southern California movie industry, Darcy is one of those intrepid, highly trained artists who substitutes for actors in performing those seemingly impossible physical feats characteristic of action films. Rolling under a monster truck bearing down upon her? That’s Darcy, putting her own life on the line for the sake of entertainment. Scaling poles and balancing on high wires? That’s Darcy, too.

When Damon Guthrie, an intermittent boyfriend and fellow stunt professional, nearly kills her while uncharacteristically distracted during a perilous trick, Darcy is certain something is seriously amiss. He is on the verge of confiding in Darcy, but winds up dead instead. One would think that her daily life in the stunt double business would be sufficiently challenging, but driven by her loss, she sets out to solve the mystery.

The more she learns, the more the conundrum escalates, and she rapidly realizes that, despite knowing him for years, she really didn’t know Guthrie at all. Indeed, throughout their relationship, both professional and personal, he has been the consummate stunt double in his illusory presentation of himself to the world. His most prominent trick, then, has been to present a false face to the world at large. Darcy, of course, manages to catch a glimpse of the real man, in the end, with surprising results.

Dunlap provides insight into the stunt double profession (yes, there is one), certainly instructive for readers. In addition, via Darcy’s commitment to Zen principles, Dunlap educates readers about Buddhism. Even better, she interweaves Zen themes in the novel’s plot. Accordingly, then, Power Slide is a fascinating book about identity and deceit, appearance and reality, and Dunlap has done a truly masterful job in raising, if not finally solving, the existential mysteries that perplex us all.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-23 19:46:43

dunlap_powerslideHollywood, Zen, action, and murder for movie stunt woman Darcy Lott..

Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme
Sue Emmons

Carole Nelson Douglas is at the top of her form with a fast-paced, funny plot that segues from the Las Vegas strip to Northern Ireland while providing a vastly entertaining intertwined tale.

Sleek, sophisticated Midnight Louie, that most precocious black cat and self-described “noir kind of guy,” prowls again in his 22nd delightful adventure. This time, the furry private eye enlists a posse of feline friends to solve murders both past and present while taking on the mob in Las Vegas.

Louie's owner, Temple Barr, is public relations consultant for the boutique Vegas hotel Crystal Phoenix, and her boss decides to hike sagging revenues by creating a Mecca for mob aficionados in the city that never sleeps. The plan includes an inventive underground “chunnel of crime” stretching from crime scene to crime scene. Temple takes on the project while balancing worries over her missing former ex-boyfriend, Max the magician, and dealing with her present fiancé, Matt, a talk show host.

Veteran mystery author Douglas deftly switches from character to character in alternating chapters to tell her tale, thereby revealing Louie’s delightful first-person (first-cat?) wry musings and take on crime-solving techniques. Interspersed are chapters that examine Temple's own quandaries. Not only cat lovers will be engaged by Douglas’ tale. Astute readers will also recognize an alphabetical cast to this well-received series.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-23 20:07:44

douglas_catinultramarineschemeSleek, sophisticated Midnight Louie, that most precocious black cat and self-described “noir kind of guy,” prowls again in his 22nd delightful adventure.

Fatal Convictions
Sue Emmons

If the reader can get past the conundrum of an ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer who doubles as a pastor, Fatal Convictions offers a multifaceted plot centered on a clash of cultures. Attorney Alex Madison plucks a Muslim client from her hospital bed where she is recovering from a traffic accident and is happily anticipating a hefty settlement. He does not, however, expect to plunge into a maelstrom over religious beliefs after her husband, an imam, is linked to the ancient rite of “honor killing,” when an allegedly adulterous wife is found beheaded and her lover is buried alive.

This political and timely tale stretches from Virginia, USA to the Middle East when federal agents invoke the Patriot Act to monitor the mosque of Madison’s client for possible terrorist links. Singer offers enough subplots—lustful, legal, and larcenous—to delight the most discriminating mystery fan, but his many characters are not always well fleshed-out. Among these are Alex's law partner, a petite former gymnast, his clients, a terrorist hit man, a resourceful federal prosecutor, and the members of his own congregation who are incensed that their pastor is defending a man with suspected terrorist ties. Additionally, coincidences that drive the plot may well leave the reader somewhat incredulous. Still, Singer, a litigation attorney and pastor in real life, writes courtroom rivalry that is often delicious, and has penned a double twist of an ending that is wonderfully unexpected.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-23 20:26:57

If the reader can get past the conundrum of an ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer who doubles as a pastor, Fatal Convictions offers a multifaceted plot centered on a clash of cultures. Attorney Alex Madison plucks a Muslim client from her hospital bed where she is recovering from a traffic accident and is happily anticipating a hefty settlement. He does not, however, expect to plunge into a maelstrom over religious beliefs after her husband, an imam, is linked to the ancient rite of “honor killing,” when an allegedly adulterous wife is found beheaded and her lover is buried alive.

This political and timely tale stretches from Virginia, USA to the Middle East when federal agents invoke the Patriot Act to monitor the mosque of Madison’s client for possible terrorist links. Singer offers enough subplots—lustful, legal, and larcenous—to delight the most discriminating mystery fan, but his many characters are not always well fleshed-out. Among these are Alex's law partner, a petite former gymnast, his clients, a terrorist hit man, a resourceful federal prosecutor, and the members of his own congregation who are incensed that their pastor is defending a man with suspected terrorist ties. Additionally, coincidences that drive the plot may well leave the reader somewhat incredulous. Still, Singer, a litigation attorney and pastor in real life, writes courtroom rivalry that is often delicious, and has penned a double twist of an ending that is wonderfully unexpected.

On Location
Lynne F. Maxwell

Think Deliverance and you’ll be primed and properly braced to experience this excellent mystery pitting good guys against the proverbial villains, struggling against the vicissitudes of uncooperative nature. On Location features Rita Farmer, ex-actor and current law student, along with an extensive cast of supporting characters. Among these are Rita's six-year old son, Petey, her best friend Daniel, and her sister, Gina, with whom she has a complicated relationship stemming from a childhood accident. But wait, there are more: Gina’s problematic old flame, private investigator George Rowe, and the brothers Lance and Kenner de Sauvenard, scions of a wealthy Oregon logging family.

The action begins when sister Gina and her wealthy fiancé, Lance, hike to a camp he frequented as a child. Confident that no map is necessary, Lance quickly gets them lost in the forest as a torrential rainfall begins. As you might guess, the desperate duo runs up against an even more desperate band of criminals, and all hell breaks loose. Of course, Rita and crew hasten to the rescue.

On Location is plot-intensive and skillfully so, as numerous, intricately orchestrated plot strands intertwine and converge, leading to the inevitable conclusion. Readers, however, should not be complacent as there are surprises and shocks aplenty along the course, which Sims conjures up for our delectation.

In addition to plot complexity, On Location features realistic, significant relationships between characters, depicting everything from maternal love to sibling rivalry. Sims does an admirable job in representing the human element, warts and all. While she has cast protagonist Rita Farmer in two previous outings (The Actress and The Extra), On Location is by far Rita’s best role to date. I, for one, can’t wait to see her next dramatic appearance in this series that is definitely worth the price of admission.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-23 20:53:17

sims_onlocationMinor actress and single mom Rita Farmer takes on crime with her six-year-old Petey, and her best friend Daniel in this Hollywood series well worth the price of admission.

A Bad Day’s Work
Lynne F. Maxwell

Meet hapless Lilly Hawkins, who is having a bad day, the stuff of which nightmares are made of. As a news videographer—or in industry parlance—a shooter, for a Central California TV station, Lilly has a fantastic job, except for the fact that her boss has it in for her because she’s had a run of professional screw-ups. The pressure is on for Lilly to get the big scoop in order to restore her reputation and retain her job. With this in mind, Lilly evades police and sneaks her way into a crime scene to shoot exclusive footage of an investigation of the murder of a young black man. Mysteriously, though, Lilly’s triumph turns into yet another professional disaster when her film turns out to be blank. Thus begins the roller-coaster ride of thugs, killers, and conspiracies that is A Bad Day’s Work.

Fortunately for us, A Bad Day’s Work reflects many a good day's work on the part of neophyte novelist Nora McFarland. Here’s hoping for more madcap exploits from Lilly Hawkins.

Teri Duerr
2010-08-23 21:14:31

mcfarland_baddaysworkA roller-coaster ride of thugs, killers, and conspiracies is A Bad Day’s Work for the hapless videographer Lilly Hawkins in this debut novel.

Dog Tags
Hank Wagner

There are several things you should know about northern New Jersey attorney Andy Carpenter: He has a wicked sense of humor; he’s independently wealthy; he avoids real work like the plague; and he loves dogs. His fondness for canines often involves him in interesting legal work, as it does in Dog Tags, when a German Shepherd named Milo and his owner, Iraq War vet Billy Zimmerman, are incarcerated in connection with a murder case. Andy discovers that Milo and Billy have gotten themselves tangled up in a shady conspiracy whose principals are more than willing to let his troubles obscure their larger, more sinister plan.

Now, while this isn’t Crime and Punishment, it is well written and entertaining, ideal for summer reading. This particular tale (the seventh in a series) calls to mind the works of such authors as Harlan Coben (for its New Jersey setting), Robert Tannenbaum (for its well-drawn cast of supporting characters, à la Butch Karp and friends), and Janet Evanovich (for its quirky mix of sudden violence and off-the-wall humor). I suppose you could also say it evokes the work of Albert Payson Terhune (another dog lover from New Jersey!), in that it features several noble examples of man’s best friend, such as Milo, and Tara, Carpenter’s golden retriever. In the final analysis, all these disparate elements are effectively combined, resulting in a quick, winning, satisfying read.

A final note: besides its literary merits, another neat thing about this series is thinking up clever titles for future books. With previous entries such as Play Dead and New Tricks, can books like Dog Tired, Dog Eat Dog, and Leader of the Pack be far behind?

Teri Duerr
2010-08-23 21:34:32

rosenfelt_dogtagsEccentric New Jersey attorney Andy Carpenter is back, this time defending German Shepherd Milo and his owner, Iraq War vet Billy Zimmerman, against accusations of murder.