Fabulous Fiction Firsts #78

Looking for a fast-paced, adrenalin-fueled mystery/thriller? I recommend Lee Vance’s debut Restitution.

A graduate of the Harvard Business School and a retired partner of Goldman Sachs, Lee is no stranger to the rarified world of Wall Street’s rich and powerful, where we meet up with our protagonist Peter Tyler.

A high-power career, a beautiful wife and a dream home would not stop Peter from engaging in a one-night stand with a mystery colleague, and lands him squarely as the prime suspect in his wife’s murder. A cross between Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent and The Fugitive, this compelling read with a twisty plot pits Peter against an embittered ex-cop, the Russian mob, nasties in unexpected corners as he races across the globe to find his wife’s killer and to clear his name. A hell-of-a-ride. Nicely done.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #77

I can't wait to read this mystery by French crime writer Pierre Magnan's Death in the Truffle Wood*, first published in 1978.

It all started with a pig.

Provence. November. Truffle time. Runaway truffle sow Roseline is attacked in the woods by an unknown assailant. When Superintendent Laviolette of the Marseille Police arrives to investigate 5 missing youths, her owner Alyre Morelon demands some assistance in identifying Roseline’s attacker.

Village politics, a dead body in a freezer and other grisly incidents are compensated by the generally humorous tone, sly wit and marvelous characterization. Beautifully translated (by Patricia Clancy), it brings to life the quirky French peasant culture so seldom depicted in the genre.

* = Starred Reviews

Crime Story: New Mystery & Suspense Titles

SherlockSherlock

The Brooklyn Public Library staff has put together a dynamite list of the latest new mystery and suspense titles.

The focus is not on the mega bestsellers or the blockbuster authors, but rather noteworthy new titles/authors flying under the media radar. On this current list are some personal favorites you have seen me blogged as Fantastic Fiction Firsts. So I am recommending all of them with confidence.

The list is updated every month. Here is how to subscribe. Robert, thanks for sharing.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #73

Fans of novelist and memoirist Diana Abu-Jaber: The Language of Baklava (2005), Crescent (2003); and Arabian Jazz (1993), should not be surprised that critics are calling her first mystery The Origin* ...“poetic in tone and profound in its inquiry into the nature of memory and the self”, themes explored in her earlier works which centered mostly around the Arab-American communities close to her heart. (Author's website)

This time around, in The Origin, Lena Dawson, an emotional fragile fingerprint examiner for the Syracuse police is suffering from personal memory issues. Since her philandering husband’s departure, she lives for her work. When a rash of infant deaths afflict the area, she suspects that something (someone, more likely), other than crib death is at work. Added to the palpitating tension is her budding romance with a wounded detective, the nagging mystery of her own childhood, and a stalker dogging her every step.

A gripping contemporary thriller with a “flawed but appealing protagonist”. “Haunted, moving,” and highly recommended.

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #72

I am sure if you are a reader of mysteries, you would have come across some very famous feline detectives. Occasionally, a dog or two have tried to get in on the act. Clever, I am sure, but they have always relied on their two-legged sidekicks.

Now Leonie Swann, in her debut mystery (translated from German) Three Bags Full* introduces fleecy ones who work alone!

In the bucolic Irish village of Glennkill, a flock of sheep has just come across the murdered body of its beloved shepherd George Glenn. Led by the very smart Miss Marple, they are determined to bring the killer to justice, not withstanding all the obstacles in their way (they can’t talk, their chief suspects is the BUTCHER!).

Already a bestseller in Europe, U.S critics are calling Three Bags Full a “quirky philosophical mystery”, “refreshingly original” and “magical”. Swann also “peppers the text with literary allusion that add humor and lighten the existential gloom of both people and sheep”.

* = Starred Review

Bad Luck & Trouble

Lee Child has once again written a great story in this 11th entry in the series featuring ex cop, ex vet, hero Jack Reacher. It's a definite page turner. I just had to stay up really late to finish it. Usually when it gets late I'll just skip to the end and call it quits. Couldn't do that with this book.
The squemish be warned there's a high body count that's described in much detail.

Click here for a handy reference for finding titles in a Fiction series.

Fabulous Fiction First #68

Set in a contemporary Dublin suburb, the first of a projected series, In the Woods* by Tana French is an “engrossing if melancholy” police procedural.

Young Katy Devlin's battered body has been found in the woods where an archaeological dig is in progress, the same woods, where 20 years ago three children went missing. The criminal investigation named "Operation Vestal" is led by Detectives Cassie Maddox and Adam Ryan. Unbeknownst to everyone including the police (except for Cassie), Adam is the only survivor from the earlier case.

When chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and Ryan’s flashes of recollection surface during the investigation, and the relationship between the partners becomes more complicated, we are treated to a psychological thriller with a breathtaking climax and a satisfying conclusion.

Readers of Harlan Coben's latest The Woods would find the storyline uncannily similar. You think they talked?

* = Starred Reviews, "An outstanding debut" ~Booklist

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #67

Critics are calling Rebecca Stott’s academic thriller Ghostwalk* “hypnotic”, “intelligent”, and “stunning”, (where) “Isaac Newton joins Dracula and Leonardo da Vinci”. Curious? I was.

Elizabeth Vogelsang, a Cambridge University scholar at work on a potentially controversial biography of Isaac Newton is found drowned and clutching a prism in her hand (a clue?). Lydia Brooke, a successful screenwriter is asked by Cameron Brown, her former lover and Elizabeth’s son to ghostwrite the last chapter of Elizabeth’s manuscript.

Lydia soon finds that Elizabeth’s cottage might be haunted and she is drawn into solving two series of murders centuries apart, both connected to 17th Century alchemy and present-day animal rights.

This well-researched and intricately crafted debut novel by British historian Stott (bio.) is a clever whodunit that entertains and instructs - of such varied subjects as optics, neuroscience, and animal testing. More interesting trivia on 17th Century Cambridge could be found on her website.

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #64

If you had missed Still Life, Louise Penny’s debut of her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, don’t despair. Check out the books on CD while you are waiting for the second in the series A Fatal Grace, due out this month.

Still life was the winner of the New Blood Dagger in Britain and the Arthur Ellis Award in Canada for best first crime novel. It was also named one of the Kirkus Reviews Top Ten mysteries of 2006.

This lovely cozy is set in Three Pines, a ficticious and picturesque small village in Canadian Quebec, a short drive from Montreal. The beloved local retired teacher is found shot to death in the woods and Chief Inspector Gamache from the Sûreté du Québec must sort out the killer among the locals which include artists, a gay couple who runs a little bistro and only B & B in town, a cantankerous poetess, teenage troublemakers, a too-eager to inherit estranged relative.

Snappy dialogue, well drawn characters, lovely and atmospheric settings made for a pleasurable read. Don't miss this one.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #60

For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison, the 5th in her paranormal mystery Hollows series just made it onto the Publishers Weekly Bestsellers. A hardback debut, it features a Rambo-esque Rachel Morgan - witch and bounty hunter who is assigned to protect an ancient artifact from demons and from Piscary, the vampire master.

With a serial killer on the loose and her werewolf pal being the prime suspect, growing tension at home with vampire roommate and boyfriend Kisten, Rachel’s high-octane supernatural adventures will leave you spellbound and breathless.

This series with a sexy, urban, kick-ass tough female protagonist will appeal to fans of Laurell K. Hamilton's erotic Anita Blake (federal marshal, vampire executioner, raiser of the dead) series. and L.A. Banks’ Vampire Huntress Legend series with African-American runaway Damali Richards and her eclectic band of guardian protectors/evil vampire fighters. Erotic, pop-fiction gritty and action-packed.

Another first - many authors and publishers are making a splash in the internet. Check out Kim’s spot on MySpace.

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