Fabulous Fiction Firsts #117

In The Dirty Secrets Club*, the best clue San Francisco forensic psychiatrist, Jo Beckett finds at the 3rd high profile murder-suicides of the week is the word “dirty” scrolled on the thigh, in blood-red lipstick, of the latest victim – Callie Harding – the Assistant U.S. Attorney. Someone is picking off the members of the “Dirty Secrets Club”, A-list celebrities who trade secrets and thrills.

Meg Gardiner’s hardback U.S. debut boasts a taut, complex plot, break-neck pacing; a smart, tenacious and emotionally vulnerable protagonist with her own secrets to hide; and a realistic rendering of a city under siege.

Critics are comparing Gardiner to Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver and Tess Gerritsen. Gardiner practiced law in LA and taught at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her previous Evan Delaney (available only in paperback) novels are big hits in the UK where she now lives.

*=Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #116

Lauren Groff's "exuberant" debut The Monsters of Templeton* is a "fantastically fun read, a kind of wild pastiche that is part historical novel and part mystery, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in for good measure".

Pregnant and troubled, archaeology student Wilhelmina (Willie) Upton slinks home to Templeton, N.Y., after a disastrous affair with her professor, on the very day a long-feared sea monster surfaces in Lake Glimmerglass, quite dead. When Vi, Willie's flower-child mother let slip that Willie's father is in fact a respected citizen in town rather than a nameless hippie from Vi's commune days, Willie dives headlong into untangling the roots of the town's greatest families and her father's identity.

Brilliantly incorporating accounts from generations of Templetonians — as well as characters borrowed from the works of James Fenimore Cooper, who named an upstate New York town Templeton in The Pioneers, Groff, a native of Cooperstown(on which Templeton is based), will delight readers with Willie's sharp wit, literary/historical references and lore.

* = Starred Reviews

Hold Tight

Mike and Tia Baye live in a suburban community in New Jersey. Their teenage son, Adam, is troubled and withdrawn following the suicide of his close friend.

Hold Tight explores the dark side of parental oversight. The fundamental question is: What happens when a parent spies on a teenager's electronic communications and finds something frightening, such as drug abuse, murder or planned suicide? Should the parents take the appropriate action without destroying the teenager’s trust forever? The Baye family finds out…

Black Out

Annie Powers leads a normal life in Florida with her husband and child in the stellar psychological thriller Black Out. However, less than ten years earlier, Annie was Ophelia March, the teenage prisoner or partner in crime of serial killer Marlowe Geary. Annie has now reinvented herself with Geary's help, Annie can't remember all that happened during her teenage years with Marlowe, and she now is prone to panic attacks and blackouts.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #110

According to a New York Times article, it took a citywide fund-raising effort for The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to raise the $68 million needed to keep a Thomas Eakins masterpiece - The Gross Clinic in the city. "The painting is widely considered to be among the greatest convases in American art".

Though Eakins' fame is "almost entirely posthumous and he was little known and admired in his native city" during his life time, but in Lawrence Goldstone's debut The Anatomy of Deception, Eakins is front and center in this highly readable, intriguing and historically well-researched forensic thriller. Also depicted are the real-life characters such as William Osler (the Father of Modern Medicine), famed surgeon William Stewart Halsted and the vibrant social scene of Philadelphia 1889.

Historical mystery readers, especially those of Caleb Carr and Matthew Pearl will find much to like here.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #106

In this Olympic year, all eyes are on China. Coincidentally, we have a bumper crop of FFF by expat. Chinese writers, as well as a number of outstanding mysteries set in China.

The Eye of Jade, by Chinese exile Diane Wei Liang who fled her country after participating in the Tiananmen Square protests, is an impressive debut.

Set in the late 1990s' Beijing, P.I. Mei Wang was hired by a family friend to track down a jade seal from the Han Dynasty, supposedly destroyed by the Red Guards. Challenging family relationships, bureaucratic intricacies and an unconventional protagonist made for a fascinating read.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #105

Literature professor (Louisville, Kentucky) Will Lavender’s debut novel Obedience is one tautly strung thriller!

Students at Winchester University’s Logic and Reasoning 204 are greeted on the first day of class with one startling assignment – find a hypothetical missing girl name Polly before the end of term or she will be murdered.

As the clues set forth by the creepy prof. point more toward something real and sinister rather than a logic exercise, three of the students find disturbing personal connections with Polly. What looks like an academic exercise at first could turn deadly.

Obedience hooks you fast and hard. Ride it out and brace for the shock.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #104 (The Fourth Man)

"An absorbing study of sexual enthrallment, dogged policework and a harrowing twist or two" marks The Fourth Man, the American debut of Oslo police inspector Frank Frolich.

Soon after Frolich rescues Elisabeth in a robbery-homicide, he is drawn into a risky and sorted tangled web of "art theft, blackmail, torrid sex and double crosses". With his career and his life on the line, all the likely suspects turning up dead and Elisabeth missing, the identity of a possible 4th man becomes ever more crucial. Recommended for fans of Karin Fossum and Kjell Eriksson.

K.O Dahl is an award-winning author in his native Norway. Another new name to watch for nordic mystery fans.

Mystery Author Comes to Town!

Do you love Mysteries? Maybe you've even read one of the books in Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series. Well here's your chance to see him locally.

The Ypsilanti District Library is proud to present:

Alexander McCall Smith
April 19th, 2008 at 1 p.m.
Pease Auditorium, Eastern Michigan University

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in one of three ways:

In person at EMU Ticket Center

By phone at (734) 487-2282

Or Online

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #102

"Shades of Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Caleb Carr's The Alienist, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, and Kim Newman's Dracula-inflected Victoriana"(Kirkus)... now, if that does not intrigue you, let me tell you this is by far one of the best thrillers I have come across in quite awhile.

A guaranteed page-turner, British(Oxford)scholar Jonathan Barnes' hectic, layered, odd and oddly affecting literary extravaganza The Somnambulist* features the shadowy magician/private detective Edward Moon and his sidekick - the 8' tall, bald, mute somnambulist.

"Barnes is up to something very special here. He's created a new genre, really, a graphic novel written in longhand, and it combines the subtle horror of Patricia Highsmith, the goofy gore of Christopher Moore, and the cartoon action of the TV series Heroes. Read for the sheer fun of it"~ Jen Baker for Booklist. Trust us on this one.

* = Starred Reviews

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