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The Bug Man series

Meet the “Bug Man, forensic entomologist Dr. Nick Polchak, who is an expert at using “bugs” to deduce the time and circumstances of death.  Nick is an eccentric character who gets himself involved in murder investigations–to the displeasure of the officials at North Carolina State College where he teaches entymology.  Author Tim Downs’ first “Bug Man” mystery was Shoofly Pie (Howard, 2003) and there have been six more novels starring the quirky but lovable Dr. Polchak.  He even makes a cameo appearance in the non-series suspense thriller by Downs, Plague Maker (WestBow, 2006), about a plot to destroy America with bubonic plague.  In his newest outing,  Nick of Time (Nelson, 5/2011), Dr. Polchak goes to a meeting of the Vidocq Society* in Philadelphia and discovers that an old friend, a fellow forensic scientist, has been murdered.  His investigation leads him into some nasty doings.  Nick’s fiance Alena Savard is worried that he won’t be back to Endor, Virginia in time for their wedding.  So she heads up to Philadelphia with her three corpse-sniffing dogs (she trains them).  These light-hearted and humorous mysteries have developed a broader readership than their original “Christian” audience.

*There really is a Vidocq Society of forensic scientists in Philadelphia.  It was named in honor of Eugène François Vidocq, the brilliant 18th century French detective who served the Sûreté by applying his forensic skills and experience to “cold case” homicides and unsolved deaths.

–posted 5/22/11

Posted May/22/2011

Private Eye Joe Kozmarski

Fans of  hard-boiled private eyes will enjoy the three books about Chicago’s Joe Kozmarski, the flawed noir hero whose creation won Michael Wiley the 2006 Best First Private Eye Novel Contest sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America.  In Kozmarski’s first case, The Last Striptease (Minotaur, 2007) he has been asked to clear his childhood friend Bob Piedras of murder.  Bob’s latest girlfriend, a young Vietnamese-American beauty, has turned up dead in an airport hotel and Bob has a history of violence.   In The Bad Kitty Lounge (Minotaur, 2010), Joe’s client Greg Samuelson creates problems that lead to the murder of a well-known activist nun.  Wiley’s forthcoming  A Bad Night’s Sleep (Minotaur, 6/21/11) takes Kozmarski undercover to catch a gang of burglars.  Joe is squarely in the Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler tradition.  Dismissed wrongly from the police force, and with a consequent dim view of the city’s bureaucracies, Joe nevertheless does his best to sort through whatever the windy city blows his way.  Wiley teaches teaches literature at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.  His writing is stylish and suspenseful, with just the right touch of humor

–posted 5/16/11

Posted May/16/2011

DCI Percy Peach of North Lancashire

Oh joy, here’s another small town British police procedural series I haven’t read yet!   J. M. Gregson has written 13 mysteries featuring DCI Percy Peach of Brunton, North Lancashire (that’s Lake Country more or less).  His lovely young  assistant is Detective Sergeant Lucy Blake and his pompous and overbearing boss is Superintendent Thomas Bulstrode Tucker.   Like Inspectors Morse, Barnaby, Sloan and others, DCI Percy Peach is clever, experienced, shrewd at judging character and a bit unconventional.  The extremely prolific Gregson is a Lancashire native who taught for twenty-seven years in schools, colleges and universities before concentrating on full-time writing.  He has written books on subjects as diverse as golf and Shakespeare, and in fact, has written 22 books in the Lambert and Hook series of police procedurals set in Gloustershire.  Wry humor, solid plotting, and sympathetic insights into our sadly flawed humanity characterize his writing.  Merely Players (Severn, 4/1/11) , the 13th Percy Peach mystery, features a mediocre local actor Adam Cassidy.

–posted 5/9/2011

Posted May/9/2011

New Michael Connelly

The Fifth Witness (Little Brown,  4/5/11)  is the fourth legal thriller featuring Mickey Haller, Connelly’s unconventional Los Angeles lawyer whose office is his Lincoln town car.  In this episode he is representing foreclosure client Lisa Trammel, who is suspected of killing her mortgage banker with a hammer.  The courtroom drama is narrated by Heller, so the reader gets a close-up peak into the legal proceedings, as well as the details of foreclosure, and the personalities of all involved–with the customary suspense and intrigue.  The new  movie, The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughy as Haller will, of course, create huge demand for all of Connelly’s Haller novels.

–posted 5/1/2011

Posted May/2/2011

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