Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy

There has been a lot of buzz the past year regarding the over-talked-about Millennium Trilogy, which includes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, all bestsellers. The books seem to have shot out of the Scandinavian fiction cannon at high speed and haven’t slowed down. (Larsson was recently named 2009’s most popular author in Europe by the Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter.)

The most recent buzz has been the controversy regarding the deceased author’s estate, a new biography about him, the question of whether additional books exist and will they see the light of day, and finally the debate over whether or not Larsson actually wrote the books. (Larsson died suddenly just after the manuscripts were accepted by the publisher, before they were published.) The Nordic BookBlog (an excellent source of all things Nordic Lit), and other online sources have been talking for months about the author and the series. I’m not saying everything that’s being said is correct or incorrect, or that you shouldn’t read the books, it’s just something for book talkers to chew on.
LarssonLarsson

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #194

Now that Lee Child's Gone Tomorrow has snatched the top honor in the Adrenaline category of the 2010 Reading List Award, Jack Reacher fans could hardly contain themselves. While they eagerly await the next Reacher scrape, we suggest The Bricklayer.

Pseudonym for a former FBI agent, Noah Boyd's debut (and projected series opener) features Steve Vail, a former agent turned bricklayer who is recruited to solve a brilliant and deadly extortion plot by a mysterious organization called the Rubaco Pentad. One thing is clear: someone who knows a little too much about the inner workings of the Bureau is very clever —and very angry—and will kill and kill again if it means he can disgrace the FBI.

While some reviewers find fault with it being "...highly formulaic", "predictably inclusive finish with a bit of romance", most would admit that it is "pulse-pounding", and "irresistible red meat for connoisseurs of action thrillers". (150,000 first printing)

You know you are going to read it. Might as well be first on the list.

2010 Edgar Award nominees

The Mystery Writers of America proudly announce 2010’s nominees for the Edgar Award. The Edgar is given annually to the best in mystery fiction. This year’s Best Novel nominees include: The Missing by Tim Gautreaux, The Odds by Kathleen George, The Last Child by John Hart, Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, and A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn. The nominated novels offer a variety of subject matter for the avid mystery reader.

Nesbo is the only Scandinavian in the lot, and the last time a Scandinavian author won this award was 1971’s The Laughing Policeman. See here for a list of Edgar Award nominees in other categories. The winners will be announced on April 29.
MysteriesMysteries

Fabulous Fiction First #193

Tamar Myers, author of two ongoing domestic mystery series - one featuring Magdalena Yoder, an Amish-Mennonite sleuth who runs a bed and breakfast, and the other - Den of Antiquity, centers around the adventures of Abigail Timberlake, the proud owner of an antique store, now brings us a stand-alone.

The Witch Doctor's Wife* is set in tiny Belle Vue, a Congolese village in the 1950s where a prim American missionary, her cranky housekeeper, a sleazy executive, a witch doctor and a large uncut diamond all come into play. Before you know it, one of the most delightful characters is charged with murder.

Myers draws from her personal history to bring insight and local color to a specific place in time. Publishers Weekly considers this " a major breakthrough for Myers as she displays storytelling skills not seen in her previous works".

Fans of mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith , Malla Nunn, and Michael Stanley are sure to relish the opportunity to explore another intriguing area of Africa.

* = Starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #192

Blacklands*** is a taut and chillingly brilliant debut by British journalist/screenwriter Belinda Bauer.

Steven Lamb, an under-sized 12 yr. old boy, armed with a shovel, could be seen digging along the wild moors of Shipcott (Somerset), oblivious to the weather. He is digging for treasure - no, not the kind fascinating to boys his age, but for his uncle’s body. 18 years ago, young Billy Peters disappeared and unhinged his family.

Dejected with the lack of results, Steven knows convicted serial killer Arnold Avery could show him where to dig. After all, he buried them. Steven writes and Arnold answers. What begins as a cat-and-mouse mind game between a naive but determined boy and a clever and sadistic pedophile turns deadly when Avery senses an opportunity to relive his crime.

"Bauer displays remarkable talent in pacing, plotting and, most important of all, getting beneath the skin of even her most repellent characters". What was originally conceived as a short story about a boy and his grandmother (from the author's note) is likely to be one of the shining stars in crime fiction this year. Shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award.

Readalikes: Catherine O'Flynn's What Was Lost, and In the Woods by Tana French.

*** = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #189

Emily Arsenault's charming debut The Broken Teaglass* is quietly getting some much-deserved hand-selling, and I am glad.

Two young lexicographers stumble onto clues scattered among the citations file at the dictionary publishing office where they work. Written as “cits”, they reference a fictitious book called The Broken Teaglass but seem to be a confession to a decade-old unsolved murder case involving the “The Glass Girl”. What begins as curiosity for two active young minds turns strangely personal when many of the players involved clearly resemble their senior colleagues and mentors.

Clever word play, behind-the-scenes look at the dictionary publishing industry, and well-drawn characters make for a delightful, quietly humorous and off-beat mystery. The author has worked as a lexicographer for Merriam-Webster dictionary, an English teacher, a children’s librarian, and a Peace Corps volunteer. She wrote The Broken Teaglass to pass the long, quiet evenings in her mud brick house while living in rural South Africa.

Wordsmiths and puzzle-lovers should also try Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, and Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg.

* = Library Journal's Fall 2009 Editors' Picks

Looking for a Christmas Read?

In previous years, I've suggested popular fiction for holiday reads. This year I have decided to concentrate on two of my favorite genres: Romance and Mystery.

Recently, I buried myself in Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower Series. The final book in this 5 part series is Wallflower Christmas. Once Lillian Bowman and the other Wallflowers are settled with beaus, it's time to find her elder brother Rafe a wife. If romance, action, mystery, and the supernatural meets your interest, try Kerrelyn Sparks' All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire part of the Love at Stake Series. If short stories are your thing try this Christmas compilation: Wish List with stories by Lisa Kleypas, Lynsay Sands, Claudia Dain, and Lisa Cach.

For good Christmas mystery reads try Deck the Halls and it's sequel He Sees You When Your Sleeping co-written by bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol Higgins Clark. Regan Reilly, Carol Higgins Clark's dynamic young sleuth, meets Alvirah Meehan, Mary Higgins Clark's famous lottery-winning amateur detective, and both embark on a desperate search for Regan's kidnapped father and then reassemble in the sequel to help a family reunite during the holidays. Additionally, there is the short story collection Wolfsbane and Mistletoe with tales by talented authors such as Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur, and Carrie Vaughn.

For more suggestions of Romance, Mystery, as well as other Fiction Christmas reads, Check out: http://www.overbooked.org/booklists/subjects/themes/christmas.html

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #187

In Lou Manfredo's Rizzo's War*, veteran NYPD detective Joe Rizzo has always subscribed to the notion that “there is no right, there is no wrong, there just is” – a rule he tries to instill in his movie-star handsome, young and freshly-minted partner Mike McQueen. Their beat – the Bensonhurst, Brooklyn neighborhood where their savvy, courage and compassion is called on daily to keep the streets safe. But when a councilman’s daughter goes missing and they are forced to operate under the radar, with dubious boundaries, and no safety net, it is their trust in each other that's sorely tested.

Strongly character-driven, this police procedural sparkles with authenticity. (Born and raised in Brooklyn, Manfredo served in the Brooklyn criminal justice system for twenty-five years). The well-paced plot is firmly anchored in the physicality of the setting. Big city politics, organized crime, corruption, compounded by personal and family drama, old wounds, and new threats add complexity and suspense to the storyline.

Comparison with Joseph Wambaugh's The Choirboys(1975) is inevitable. This projected series debut and FFF will also please fans of the late Ed McBain's ever-popular 87th Precinct mystery series.

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #186

Seriously one of the best nordic crime fiction of the year, Anders Roslund's projected new series debut Box 21* is violent, horrific, and strangely gripping.

Over the course of a rainy summer's week in Stockholm, a Lithuanian prostitute viciously beaten close to death, three Stockholm police detectives investigating the case, sundry petty criminals, and a young doctor at the edge of despair cross path when one of them holds the the city hostage at gunpoint. While lives are lost, scores settled, secrets unearthed (Locker no. 21), friendship and honor severely tested, it is shame that drives the well-crafted thriller to its explosive and tragic conclusion.

Students of human nature and readers of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahlöo's Martin Beck series, Henning Mankell, and Karin Fossum - "Norway's Queen of Crime," will find this irresistible and affecting.

* = Starred reviews

Like Sookie Stackhouse?, Try the Harper Connelly Series

As a fan of Charlaine Harris, I was upset by the abrupt end to my 9 book reading spree of the Sookie Stackhouse Series. (Book 10 in the series is not released until the spring of next year.) After dealing with the bereavement of finishing what has been published of the engrossing Southern Vampires Mysteries, I needed a Charlaine Harris fix in a bad way. I started reading Grave Sight (Book 1 in the Harper Connelly Mysteries) Harper Connelly is a woman who uncannily survived a lightning strike as a child and now makes her living by finding dead people and correctly determining their cause of death with her acquired “sixth” sense. In this first novel, Harper and her stepbrother (this distinction is important) Tolliver Lang travel to the small town of Sarne, Arkansas to help locate the body of a missing girl. Finding the body proves easy for Harper, but leaving Sarne becomes the problem when the sheriff and other town members become suspicious of Harper's abilities. Along the way, Harper gets attacked and Tolliver ends up in jail, but eventually the mystery is resolved and the dynamic duo move on to another assignment.

In the second novel in the Harper Connelly series, Grave Surprise. Harper and Tolliver head down to Tennessee to do a "graveyard" job identifying and determining the COD (Cause of Death) of ancient remains at Bingham College. In a surprise twist Harper discovers that one of the graves has two bodies inside, one of which is a missing girl, Tabitha Morgenstern, Harper had been hired to find previously. The FBI become involved and Harper and Tolliver are suspected of being somehow involved with Tabitha's disappearance. Then, Dr. Nunley, the professor that requested Harper's services is also found dead in the cemetery. Along the way, we also meet some quirky psychic friends of Harper's: Manfred and Xylda Bernardo.

In the third novel in the Harper Connelly series, An Ice Cold Grave, Harper and Tolliver get an assignment in North Carolina trying to find the bodies of a half dozen young men considered to be "runaway" age. After searching the final disappearance site, Harper gets a reading and discovers a mass grave sight behind an old dilapidated house. The cause of death for the victims was so traumatizing that at first, Harper finds it difficult relaying the cause of death of the boys. Then on their first attempt out of town, Harper gets hit over the head and sentenced to a few days recuperation in the local hospital. Even though looking for more bodies is the last think Harper wants to do, the local authorities and State Bureau of Investigation agents demand that she stay in town to help with their investigation. Harper's friends Manfred and Xylda Bernardo reprise their roles and add unwanted media attention on the town and the murder investigations. Also, Harper and Tollivers relationship escalate to a new level.

Grave Secret is the fourth book in the Harper Connelly Series and will be released October 27th. Place your hold on the latest book in this series today!

The books are a treat, especially if you’re a Charlaine Harris fan and they contain developed and intricate plots, interesting characters, and a unique style of writing!

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