Coldest Blood

I think the average mystery reader will easily relate to Jim Kelly’s realistically drawn hero Phillip Dryden. It takes more careful reading than others like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series but Kelly’s plotting is great. I tried skipping to the end when the night grew late but had to go back the next day and finish the book. Good yarn! An added treat for anglophiles is that it’s set in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

High Profile

Looking for something to read? Look no further. Parker has been turning them out for decades and he's as good as ever. Great reviews for his latest High Profile.
Parkers is well known for the mid 1980's television mystery series featuring the private-eye Spenser who operated out of Boston.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts # 51

Fans of international spy thriller and historical mystery are no strangers to Boris Akunin’s popular Petrovich Fandorin series. Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog* is the first in a projected trilogy in which Akunin introduces to mystery lovers an even more memorable sleuth.

Set in 19th century, Sister Pelagia, a young nun in a remote Russian province is called on by her bishop to investigate the poisoning of a white bulldog whose noble mistress, Sister Pelgagia suspects, is to be the intended victim.
This highly unusual historical mystery is remarkable for its charm and its humorous narrative voice. Not to be missed!

"You're a good man, sister."

Who else could have said this if not tough guy, Sam Spade, the no frills detective of The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. On February 14, 1930, The Maltese Falcon was published by Alfred A. Knopf in New York. It was originally published as a story in the pulp crime magazine, Black Mask and later became the famous film starring Humphrey Bogart as Spade. Hammett drew on his work as a Pinkerton detective to create the rough characters in his novels. His gritty stories that were set in the dark corners of the city became a precedent for what later was called the "hard boiled detective novel." Hammett later became a screen writer and was active in defending writers during the McCarthy hearings.

Other writers of the "hard boiled genre" are:

Raymond Chandler
James M. Cain
Ian Rankin
Dan Simmons and
Jim Fusilli.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #50

Kirkus reviewer called Mistress of the Art of Death* “CSI meets The Canterbury Tales”.

The brilliant female forensic pathologist, Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar of Salerno, a short and short-tempered medieval coroner is hired in secret by King Henry II to find out who's behind the horrific murders of 4 Christian children in Cambridge. Less concerned about the murderer than the tax revenue he is losing while prominent local Jews stand accused and languish in the fortress, Henry wants them freed.

Aided by a eunuch escort and a Jew with an affinity for detection, Adelia must piece together the mystery of these hideous crimes among a long list of suspects before the killer strikes again.

Mistress is a skillful blend of historical fact and gruesome fiction that will surely entertain, and Franklin presents a fascinating character in Adelia, who is odd for her era and profession yet familiar in her flaws and complexity. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait long for the next in this new series.

For fans of Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael series.

Ariana Franklin is the pen name of British historical fiction writer Diana Norman. Her first stand-alone City of Shadows is set in 1922 Berlin, a women in an asylum claims to be the only survivor of the Czar’s family and the heir to the Romanov fortune.

* = Starred Review(s)

February New and Noteworthy

The Teahouse Fire* by Ellis Avery. (A Fabulous Fiction Firsts)
Orphaned and alone in Kyoto, 9 year-old Aurelia Caillard is taken in by a Japanese family of tea ceremony masters. “...(T)old in an enchanting and unforgettable voice, The Teahouse Fire is a lively, provocative, and lushly detailed historical novel of epic scope and compulsive readability”.

Self Storage by Gayle Brandeis.
From the Barbara Kingsolver Bellewether Prize winner comes this quirky and moving story of Flan Parker who owns a thriving resale business, and a mysterious box from an abandoned storage unit that bears only an address and a note with the word “yes”. Yes – put your name on that wait list.

Sacred Games* by Vikram Chandra.
7 years in the making, this 900-page epic novel of Mumbai's underworld is a glorious and demanding literary thriller. “Corruption, murder, arms dealing, Bollywood, plastic surgery, and a superstar guru on an apocalyptic mission--all fuel this novel of crime and punishment, survival and annihilation. A splendidly big, finely made book destined to dazzle”.

Napoleon's Pyramids by Willaim Dietrich.
Action-packed thriller involving an American expatriate, Napoleon’s army and an ancient medallion for anyone looking for impeccable period details, passion and plot.

Looks to die for by Janice Kaplan.
Well-connected Hollywood insider sleuths to save her man. A new series of suspense-meet-shopping from the former deputy editor of TV Guide and the author of Mine are spectacular!

The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom.
In this “Nick Hornby meets Alexander McCall Smith”, Israel Armstrong, a roving bookmobile driver must solve the mystery of the missing 15,000 books from the library. A charming and entertaining first in a projected mystery series set in Ireland.

2007 Edgar Award Best Young Adult Nominees

On the 198th birth of Edgar Allan Poe the 2007 Edgar® Nominees were announced. The winner will be announced April 26 in NYC. Read the list and tell us which one you think should be named the winner.

The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

Crunch Time by Mariah Fredericks

Buried by Robin Merrow MacCready

The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci

Mysteries from around the World

I've always wanted to travel the world. Fortunately I can at least travel with a good mystery from the comfort of my home. Click here for a partial list of some of these great reads. I've always enjoyed the Inspector Ghote series from India written by the prolific H.R.F.Keating. It's fun to read about the good Inspectors run in with the bureaucracy of his world. A much darker series but also outstanding are books set in Sweden written by the masterful Henning Mankell.

January New and Noteworthy

The Song is You* by Megan Abbott.
Noir crime fiction by an Edgar Award nominee. "Shiz-bang adventure through Tinseltown's underbelly" when two starlets gone missing. A retro thrill ride.

The Sidewalk Artist (FFF) by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk.
Alternating between contemporary Paris and Renaissance Italy this debut novel follows two parallel, intertwined romances. Novelist Tulia Rose comes to Europe looking for inspiration but unexpectedly finds romance with a mysterious, talented sidewalk artist while researching the story of Renaissance painter Raphael and his secret lover. A touch of magic and plenty of cappuccino.

Arlington Park* by Rachel Cusk.
Over the course of one rainy day, the Whitbread Award-winner plumbs the extraordinary inner nature of the ordinary suburban English life. “Darkly comic, deeply affecting and wise”.

The Bastard of Istanbul* by Elif Shafak
Turkish author recently cleared by the government of “denigrating Turkishness” because of her frank look at Turkish-Armenian antipathy, gives us this enlightening and entertaining novel of 4 generations of the Kazanci women, set in Istanbul.

The Terror* by Dan Simmons.
Scurvy, frostbite, botulism, and an enomous THING out on the ice plagued Sir John Franklin’s failed 1840 mission to find the Northwest Passage. A spellbinding sea story with grisly details.

Red River* by Lalita Tademy
A follow-up to her 2001 Oprah sensation Cane River – this time the repercussions of the Colfax Riot of 1873 – an engrossing and eye-opening emotional family saga.

* = Starred Review(s)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #45

If you just cannot get enough of the religious suspense genre, here is another one for you.
Oh yes, the Knights Templars are again in the thick of things.

In Julia Navarro’s Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud, when the unidentified body of a tongue-less man turns up in the ashes of a suspicious fire in the Turin Cathedral, home of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Marco Valoni, Director of the Italian Art Crimes Department, investigates.

Soon he is sure several shadowy, anonymous groups of powerful and wealthy men with ties to Legend of the Knights Templars are somehow involved, while his only suspect is already in the Turin prison. More importantly, a far more shocking crime is about to happen. It is up to Valoni and his crack team of investigators to stop it.

Julia Navarro is a well-known Madrid-based journalist who is currently a political analyst for Agencia OTR/Europa Press and a correspondent for other prominent Spanish radio and television networks. Her second novel is due out in 2008. Brotherhood is already a bestseller in Europe.

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