a couple of months ago

Jimmy Breslin’s hilarious classic novel about the Mafia

So, these wise guys, see, you’ve got a difference of opinion. On one side you’ve got Anthony Pastrumo, Sr., “one of the five big bosses of the Mafia gangsters in New York.” He’s known as “‘Baccala’ by his friends and associates, all of whom share a common feeling toward Baccala. They are scared to death […]

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a couple of months ago

Corporate crime and political corruption dominate this promising debut

In her debut as a novelist, the award-winning mystery author Attica Locke explored themes of Black Power, trade union racism, corporate crime and political corruption. It’s the stuff that might have elevated Black Water Rising into the ranks of Great American Novels. Although she fell short, the effort was worthy enough that The Guardian characterized […]

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a few months ago

Down the rabbit hole of Nordic noir

Wendy Lesser reads more Nordic noir than I do, and that says a lot. As she notes in her charming new book, Scandinavian Noir, she’s been addicted to the stuff for nearly forty years. It all started for her when someone (she can’t remember who) recommended the ten-book Martin Beck series of police procedurals by […]

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a few months ago

A mystery set in a remote corner of Siberia

I’ll say this about Disappearing Earth: I have never before read a novel set in Kamchatka. I doubt you have either. And I suspect you might be having trouble even locating Kamchatka on the globe. It’s not exactly a popular destination for Europeans or Americans (or anyone else, for that matter). Yet, for some unstated […]

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10 months ago

Laura Lippman’s shifting point of view in her latest novel

When we read fiction, few of us notice the point of view the author’s employing. Typically, a novel or short story is written in either the first person (“I did it”) or the third (“She did it”). Period. Of course, there are variations on these approaches — many of them, actually — but they tend […]

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last year

Two Nigerian sisters and three murders

This is a tale of two Nigerian sisters. Some time ago, under circumstances unknown to us at the outset, Ayoola has killed their abusive father. Since then, she has murdered two other men for reasons that are at first obscure. She acts unconcerned and unashamed. And when her older sister, Kobede, asks her to give […]

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last year

The latest Tana French is a 500-page psychological thriller

The Witch Elm is a 500-page psychological thriller that should have been limited to 300 pages. Not that it isn’t well written. Tana French is an elegant stylist, and her command of human psychology is impressive. The story is reasonably interesting, and the ending surprising. The problem is it takes such a long time to […]

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