a few months ago

Trade fiction reviewed here in 2021

The Kingmaker’s Daughter (Plantagenet & Tudor Novels #4) by Philippa Gregory—Nothing noble about the nobility in 15th century England The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene—Graham Greene’s “masterpiece” about the repression of the Mexican Church Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi—Questions science cannot answer in this brilliant new novel The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff—Conflicted […]

Continue Reading...
a few months ago

Looking back at 2020: my favorite books of the year

It’s that time of year again, when the National Book Awards and the Booker Prize are announced and the Washington Post, the New York Times, and just about any other publication with literary pretensions releases their “best books of the year” lists. And I always review those lists, hunting for treasure I might have missed. […]

Continue Reading...
a few months ago

Female spies and saboteurs in World War II

For decades, the pivotal role many women played in codebreaking, espionage, and the Resistance in World War II went largely unappreciated. But with the advent of the twenty-first century, historians have begun bringing more of their extraordinary stories to light. In some cases, what they write reflects newly declassified files. But in others it’s merely […]

Continue Reading...
9 months ago

The delightful Groucho Marx Mysteries

During the years 1998 to 2005, the popular cultural historian and author Ron Goulart (1933-) published a series of six Groucho Marx Mysteries featuring the legendary comedian in an unfamiliar role as a crime investigator. They’re set in the period immediately before the United States entered World War II—the heyday of the big Hollywood studios. […]

Continue Reading...
last year

Pandemic got you down? Read these books!

Stuck at home and running out of things to do? Getting depressed as the case counts rise? Why not pick up a good book and lose yourself for a few hours or a day in another reality? Here are fifteen books representing a wide range of subjects that are great to read during the pandemic. […]

Continue Reading...
last year

The 40 best books of the decade

Let’s recognize something at the outset. Neither I, nor anyone, not even the New York Times Book Review, could possibly identify the “best” books of any decade, let alone the last one. During the period 2010 through 2019, an estimated total of some 30 million books were published. Now, I read a lot—a total of […]

Continue Reading...
last year

Joseph Kanon’s spy thrillers are superb

Joseph Kanon served as editor in chief of the publishing houses Houghton Mifflin and E. P. Dutton in New York. He began his writing career in 1995 at age 49. Kanon’s first novel, Los Alamos (1997), became a bestseller and received the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1998. He has written eight superb espionage thrillers to date. Los Alamos (1997) “It is the spring […]

Continue Reading...
last year

Nonfiction books reviewed in 2020

American Heritage History of World War II by Steven E. Ambrose and C. L. Sulzberger—The best short history of World War II Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America by Kurt Andersen—How America lost its way and ended up at war with itself The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection by […]

Continue Reading...
last year

Mysteries and thrillers reviewed in 2020

Victim 2117 (Department Q #8) by Jussi Adler-Olson—The latest Department Q police procedural takes on terrorists The Decent Inn of Death (John Madden #6) by Rennie Airth—Retired Scotland Yard detectives face off with a suspected war criminal Snow by John Banville—John Banville launches a new detective series The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney—A […]

Continue Reading...