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New Orion book

Ben Bova has been writing science fiction for over 25 years, winning the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005.  He was an executive in the aerospace industry before turning to writing.  Now he is a frequent commentator on radio and television and a widely-popular lecturer.   His best known series, sometimes called the “Grand Tour”, describes a near future in which humanity has reached outposts in the Solar System.  A lesser known series, the Orion novels, features John O’Ryan who  is transformed into Orion the Hunter, a superhero whose intervention keeps the history of mankind on track.  The first book in the series, Orion (Simon & Schuster, 1984) was followed by five sequels.  For Bova this series is a way to examine periods of history that interest him.  The first novel focuses on the disappearance of the Neandertals, a mystery that still puzzles anthropologists.  Another is set in the dying days of the age of dinosaurs.  Now, after a hiatus of 18 years, comes the sixth Orion book , Orion and King Arthur (Tor, 7/2012).  This episode finds Orion in post-Roman Britain, where he becomes squire to a young King Arthur, whom he guides toward greatness.  Orion’s only ally is Anya, his creator, with whom he has fallen in love.

posted 7/26/2012

Posted July/26/2012

Murder in Bavaria

Here’s something different: mysteries from Germany. Oliver Potsch’s historical mysteries are set in 17th century in the towns of Altenstadt and Schongau, located in what is now called the Weilheim-Schongau district, in Bavaria, Germany. The amateur sleuth is Jakob Kuisl, a hangman, which is a shunned profession, usually handed down from father to son. Jakob is strong and gruff, but he has a strong sense of justice and he still must get drunk the night before performing his duty. When he suspects that a person has been wrongfully convicted, he tries to uncover the real criminal. Jacob’s daughter Magdalena , an apprentice midwife, helps him in his investigations, as does her suitor, Simon Fronwieser, a doctor’s son. The author Oliver Potsche lives in Germany. His period detail rings true for good reason—he has access to documents and records of the period because his own forbears were executioners. The Dark Monk (Houghton Mifflin, 6/2012) is the second in the series. After sealing up a mysterious something in his church basement, parish priest Andreas Koppmeyer eats some poisoned pastries. As he dies, he manages to scratch a mark on a frost covered gravestone.

–posted 7/15/2012

Posted July/15/2012

New Swedish mystery series

The newest Swedish mystery series to reach our shores features Detective Inspector Joona Linna of the National Criminal Investigation Department in Stockholm.  Joona (Jonah in English) is tall, handsome and blond with gray eyes.  He comes from Finnish stock—Swedes would recognize Linna as a Finnish name—and he swears in Finnish.  At 45, Linna has been at the National CID for nine years and his record for solving homicides is unparalleled.  A mysterious trauma in his past has left him subject to occasional debilitating migraines.  The Hypnotist (Farrar, Strauss, 2011) was well-received, though some readers found the storyline disjointed.  The new book, The Nightmare (Farrar, Straus, 7/2012), concerns two peculiar deaths—a top government bureaucrat is found hanged in an empty room in his house, and a young woman is found dead alone on an abandoned motorboat.  Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of the husband and wife team Andrea and Alexander Ahndoril.

–posted 7/8/2012

Posted July/9/2012

Meg Cabot’s Size 12 mysteries

Meg Cabot’s YA books, particularly the “Princess Diaries” series and its spinoffs, mostly about teenage girls dealing with family issues, have won her a loyal following.  Recently, Cabot has branched out into adult fiction.  One of her new protagonist is 28-year-old Heather Wells, a plus-sized ex-pop star who is repositioning her life.  She has moved in with her ex-fiance’s brother who is a private detective and taken a job as an assistant dormitory director at New York College in Manhattan. When mysterious things start to happen in the dorm, and two girls are killed, Heather is convinced it is murder and decides to investigate. These chick lit mysteries, full of hilarious pop culture references, are a hoot.  Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Morrow, 7/2012) is the fourth book in the series.  Heather’s dorm is invaded by teeny-boppers enrolled in the Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp.  But it seems someone is trying to kill Tania.

–posted 7/6/2012

Posted July/7/2012

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