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Medieval Sam Spade

Jeri Westerson calls her novels “medieval noir” mysteries and compares her hero Crispin Guest to a medieval Sam Spade.  Crispin is a former knight who was stripped of his rank after being implicated in a plot against Richard II.   He is a tough guy who lives by his own rules in the dark and dangerous London of the 14th century.  He makes a modest living as a “tracker,” the medieval equivalent of a private eye.  So far there are three novels in the series:  Veil of Lies (St. Martin’s, 2008),  Serpent in the Thorns (Minotaur, 2009) and The Demon’s Parchment (Minotaur, 2010).  The parchment of the third title refers to some lost Hebrew manuscripts that Crispin has been hired to recover.  At the same time the sheriff of London has asked him to help catch a serial killer who is terrorizing the town.

–posted 1/31/2011

Posted January/31/2011

A Lonely Death

I’ve just finished Charles Todd’s wonderful new mystery A Lonely Death (Morrow, 1/20/2011) and I wonder how I could have missed reading any of his engaging Inspector Rutledge novels until now.  The first book in the series, A Test of Wills was published by St. Martin’s in 1996.  The series is set just after WWI.  Ian Rutledge is returning to Scotland Yard after terrifying battle experiences in France and he manages to be a resourceful investigator in spite of the shell shock he suffers, including the constant ghostly comments of Hamish, a soldier he had to send to the firing squad.  “Hamish was his penance for what he’d done in the war: a voice that was relentless and unforgiving, like the guilt that haunted him.”  Though Rutledge lives in London, his assignments take him out of the city to interesting locations well described.  Many of his cases concern veterans and the tragic aftermath of war.  Suspense builds slowly at an even pace, but the writing is so elegant you won’t want to rush through it.

–posted 1/22/2011

Posted January/23/2011

New Cat Sitter

Dixie Hemingway is one of my favorite amateur sleuths.  Perhaps the resort setting, near Sarasota, is part of the appeal (as the glare of sun on snow makes me squint to read my monitor).  But mostly it’s her personality:  independent, easy-going, still sad after the deaths of her husband and three-year-old daughter several years earlier.  And then there are all the animals—a parrot, an iguana and dogs as well as cats.  Dixie lives next door to Michael, her protective older gay brother and Paco, his significant other.  Michael is a fireman and an excellent cook.  When not eating at his house, Dixie chows down at the Village Diner where Judy and Tanisha make sure she doesn’t starve.  Romantic interest is provided by Lieutenant Guidry from Sarasota’s homicide division and local lawyer Ethan Crane.  Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons (Minotaur, 1/4/2011), her latest book, involves Dixie in the hunt for a kidnapped child.  And oh my, Lieutenant Guitry is thinking about moving back to New Orleans.

–posted 1/19/2011

Posted January/15/2011

New Forensic Mystery

Fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs will almost certainly like Beverly Connor’s forensic mysteries.  Her most recent series features forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon, the newly appointed director of a natural history museum just outside Atlanta, Georgia.  Diane is looking forward to working with prehistoric bones and fossils for a change.  She is trying to recover from the trauma of all the violent and tragic deaths she had to investigate as a human rights activist in South Africa.  Conner’s latest book, One Grave Less (NAL, 10/7/2010), is number nine in the Diane Fallon series.  While working late at the museum, Diane discovers an injured woman that she recognizes from her days in South Africa.  Before long she finds herself accused of drug smuggling and murder.  Lindsay Chamberlain, the leading character in Conner’s earlier series, makes an appearance in this book, which may lead readers to the five forensic mysteries in that series.

–posted 1/16/2011

Posted January/15/2011

New Inspector Grens

Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom have written three suspense novels starring a pair of Stockholm police detectives.  Inspector Grens is a gruff and overweight senior officer and Sven Sunqvist is younger, more sensitive, married with one young son.  The criminals they deal with are the thugs, addicts and pimps of Stockholm’s lower depths Their latest book , Three Seconds (Sterling/Silver Oak, 1/2011), is getting excellent reviews.  It concerns an under cover operation to stop the spread of drugs in a maximum-security prison.  Piet Hoffman, a police informer, is sent into the prison to expose the drug dealers.  But Grens investigation of a murder puts Hoffman in grave danger.  The well-drawn characters and suspense will keep readers engaged to the last page.  Anders Roslund is a Swedish TV personality.  His co-author, Borge Hellstrom is an ex-criminal who works in rehabilitation. Originally they wrote under the pseudonym of Roslund Hellstrom, but now they are using their full names as co-authors.

–posted 1/16/2011

Posted January/15/2011

Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag is a prolific author whose romance and mystery novels have constantly appeared on the paperback bestseller lists since she published her first novel in 1988.  Recently she has been confining herself to mysteries.  Her best-known series features Minneapolis homicide cops Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska who investigate serial killings.  In 2009 she created a new character, California teacher Anne Navarre, whose first case, Deeper Than the Dead (Dutton, 2009) starts when four children find the dead body of a woman in the woods behind their school.  Handsome FBI investigator Vince Leone is assigned to the case.  The second novel in this series is Secrets to the Grave (Dutton, 2010).  Anne, now a child advocate, is married to Vince.  In this case they take custody of a 4-year-old girl who is found partially strangled and barely clinging to life next to her mother’s dead body.  An engrossing read.  Highly recommended.


Posted January/10/2011

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