last month

The immigrant experience in America through many eyes

Then-Senator John F. Kennedy’s 1958 book, A Nation of Immigrants, brought to light a historical reality that few at the time had thought much about. Fewer than ten million out of 180 million Americans were foreign-born then. But by 1990, following the generous Immigration Act of 1965, that number had doubled. And today, the United […]

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a couple of months ago

A strange murder mystery set in Poland

The title of this strange murder mystery set in Poland comes from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” by the prophetic British poet William Blake (1757-1827), whose work figures throughout the book. Olga Tokarczuk, the Nobel Prize-winning author, tells the tale through the addled and unreliable account of a dotty older woman in a tiny […]

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7 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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7 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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8 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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10 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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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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