Fabulous Fiction Firsts #82

The Chicago Way*, is a debut thriller by Michael Harvey, a Chicago-based attorney and the co-producer of the A&E award winning documentary Cold Case Files : The Most Infamous Cases (1998), which inspired the likes of CSI and Cold Case.

Michael Kelly, “the latest incarnation of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe”, (Library Journal) is an ex-Chicago cop turned PI, “ with a taste for liquor, (and an) esoteric penchant for classical literature". When his former partner turned up dead after asking Michael for help on an 8 year-old rape case, and the local brass showed up at his door, Michael smelled cover-up, big time!
In this “… fast-paced thrill ride through Chicago's seedy underbelly” Harvey has created a tough, smart crime fighter (think Spenser and Sam Spade). What stand out in this first novel are not only Harvey's knowledge of forensics and his firm grip on criminal investigations, but also how Chicago is rendered in all its many moods and facets.

For another recent debut of note set in the Windy City, try Marcus Sakey's The Blade Itself

* = Starred Review

Take a brief recess with Perry Mason!

perry masonperry mason

The devastatingly handsome Raymond Burr is available for your viewing pleasure! Watch as Perry Mason humiliates Prosecuting Attorney Hamilton Burger time and again with his courtroom superheroics! AADL now has season one and season two of the original Perry Mason TV series (1957). You can also watch Raymond Burr take on Godzilla in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. He's unstoppable!

Power Play By Joseph Finder

Joseph Finder is a best-selling author known for his business thrillers (Paranoia and Company Man). Power Play is another white-knuckle tale of suspense. This time Finder focuses on the aviation industry, telling the story of Jake Landry, a low-level executive at Hammond Aerospace.

When Landry's boss is called away, he is invited to attend the company's team-building retreat with the rest of the company's top management. The retreat is held in a remote lodge in the British Columbia wilderness. What is supposed to be a fun and challenging weekend quickly turns into a nightmare when a gang of woodsmen take over the lodge and hold the executives hostage.

Finder hooked me with an alluring premise: watching overconfident, swaggering businessmen recoil into the shadow of the story as Landry, a smart-mouthed, former juvenile delinquent, takes on the woodsmen.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #81

If you don’t read another mystery this summer, you must read The Tenderness of Wolves* by Stef Penney

The winner of the 2006 Costa Book of the Year (formerly known as the Whitbread Awards), this debut novel by a former filmmaker is set in Dove River, an isolated settlement in the Canadian tundra of 1876. Mrs. Ross, our primary narrator, stumbled onto the brutal murder of her neighbor Laurent Jammett, a reclusive fur trapper, the same night her teenaged son Francis, went missing, along with a mysterious ancient bone tablet of great value.

Penney seamlessly weaves multiple plotlines, (including the disappearance of two young girls 17 years ago) as the search parties trek northward on the trail of the killer, bracing brutal elements and the threat of predatory wolves, towards an explosive conclusion.

Tenderness is much more than a mystery - it is a psychological thriller, an adventure tale, a well-research period piece that captures the cultural and social history of the Canadian north, and most of all, a probing exploration of the unfathomable topography of the human heart.

* = Starred Reviews

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


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.

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