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New I. J. Parker

The Masuda Affair (Severn, 11/1/ 2010)  is the seventh book in I. J. Parker’s series about Akitada Sugawara, a minor official at the Ministry of Justice in Heian Kyo, capital of 11th-century Japan.  Akitada comes from a noble family that has fallen upon hard times.  He is a clever and persistent sleuth, who is sent to solve politically sensitive cases, sometimes undercover.  Over the course of the series Akitada marries and rises in rank.  Now senior secretary in the ministry of justice and mourning the death of his young son from smallpox, Akitada meets a beaten and starved little boy and is drawn into the tangled affairs of the cursed Masuda family.  These classic historical who-dunnits with a well-drawn exotic setting are written by a retired American university language professor.

–posted 11/1/2010

Posted October/31/2010

Christopher Fowler

Christopher Fowler has written thirty novels and 10 volumes of short stories as well as television scripts, graphic novels and an autobiography titled Paperboy (Bantam, 3/2010),   a very funny memoir about his boyhood love of reading and his quirky, non-reading parents.  He has won all kinds of awards, including the British Crime Writers’ Last Laugh  award.  In the US, he is best known for his humorous Peculiar Crimes Unit Mysteries featuring elderly Scotland Yard detectives Arthur Bryant and John May, a series now up to nine volumes.  Bryant and May are wonderful examples of the mis-matched pair of detectives, a sub-genre with a long and honorable pedigree going back to Sherlock and Watson.  Many of their cases might also be listed under the “locked room” sub-genre that also has a long history.

Volume 1 of the series has an unusual beginning.  It starts with the death of the 80-year-old Bryant in an explosion, then flashes back to Bryant and May’s first case, set during the London Blitz in 1940.  Bryant and May off the Rails (Bantam, 9/2010) is the latest book in the series.  The geriatric pair has one week to recapture the famous King’s Cross Executioner, who was apprehended earlier, but escaped from captivity.

–posted 10/17/2010

Posted October/17/2010

Who is Harriet Klausner?

Here is a controversy I’ve missed until now.  There is a woman named Harriet Klausner who has reviewed a phenomenal number of books on–over 15,000!  She was the #1 ranked reviewer for Amazon until Oct. 2008 when they changed their ranking system.  How can one person really read and review so many books?  On average 6 books a day?  And like them all?  She gives them all 4 or 5 stars.  Well, that’s the question.  People are now doubting her authenticity,  suggesting that she works for Amazon, or that she is making a good living selling all those review books.  The two links below give a fuller story.  And before you ask, no doesn’t get free review copies.   And while we do read a lot of books, we don’t claim to have read them all.

Oh, and by the way, most of the the reviews on seem to have been written by Harriet Klausner, Resident Scholar.

–posted 10/17/2010

Posted October/17/2010

City in Shadow

City in Shadow (Severn, 2010) is the fourth book in the Hidden Manhattan series by Evan Marshall.   The series is set in New York City and stars Anna Winthrop, who is the supervisor of a Sanitation Dept. garage.   Now there’s a new occupation  for an amateur detective.  Like many amateurs,  Anna has a handy boyfriend,  Santos Reyes,  an officer in the  NYPD,  who helps with access to police records and the rough and tumble side of detection.  City in Shadow begins when Anna picks up a scrawled note pleading for help as a beautiful young woman flees the neighborhood in a city cab.

–posted 10/11/2010

Posted October/11/2010

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