June 18, 2018

Murder mystery meets science fiction in Bangkok

The Bangkok Asset (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #6) by John Burdett (2015) 322 pages @@@ (3 out of 5) There are five previous novels in John Burdett‘s Royal Thai series featuring Bangkok police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, and every one of them is strange. The detective is a devout Buddhist (a former monk) and prey to the supernatural fantasies […]

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June 6, 2018

Reviewing the first book in the delightful Brother Cadfael series

The twenty novels of the celebrated Brother Cadfael series are grounded in the harsh reality of medieval Britain. A Morbid Taste for Bones (Cadfael Chronicles #1) by Ellis Peters (1977) 213 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5) In the first of the 20 mystery novels in the Brother Cadfael series, Edith Pargeter (writing under the name […]

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May 29, 2018

Nordic Noir before Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, and Stieg Larsson

The Man on the Balcony (Martin Beck #3) by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (1965) 194 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Since 1841, when Edgar Allen Poe published “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the field of mystery and suspense fiction has grown to staggering proportions. Amazon lists more than 700,000 titles in the […]

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May 28, 2018

Maisie Dobbs, now a secret agent, travels to Munich in 1938

Journey to Munich (Maisie Dobbs #12) by Jacqueline Winspear (2016) 320 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5) Few Americans have any appreciation for the complicated relationship between Britain and Germany in the run-up to World War II. The British royal family was German, having changed their name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in World War I. […]

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May 21, 2018

Philip Kerr’s last Bernie Gunther novel?

Greeks Bearing Gifts (Bernie Gunther #13) by Philip Kerr (2018) 522 pages @@@ (3 out of 5) Historical fiction has many virtues. It can help us understand how our lives have been shaped by the past. It can highlight the common threads in the human experience. And it can remind us of events in the […]

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April 30, 2018

Sherlock Holmes, meet Groucho Marx, Master Detective

Groucho Marx Master Detective (Groucho Marx Mysteries #1) by Ron Goulart (1998) 262 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5) Here’s the ultimate wisecracking detective, and, yes, it’s Groucho Marx, in person. If you’re a fan of the Marx Brothers classics of the 1930s—Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, Horsefeathers, Animal Crackers, and the others—you’ll […]

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April 17, 2018

Navajo Police investigate a shocking murder

Dance Hall of the Dead (Leaphorn and Chee #2) by Tony Hillerman (2009) 272 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5) In Dance Hall of the Dead, celebrated Southwestern author Tony Hillerman will introduce you to the people of the Four Corners. There, four Native American nations sprawl across the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. The […]

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April 10, 2018

Many surprises in the new Harry Hole detective novel

The Thirst (Harry Hole #11) by Jo Nesbø (2017) 480 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5) If you read Scandinavian noir, you’ve probably encountered a large number of psychopathic serial killers. I know I have. So, when I came across another one in The Thirst, the new Harry Hole detective novel, I decided to do a […]

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March 27, 2018

A police procedural can be just as boring as police work itself

An Accidental Death (DC Smith #1) by Peter Grainger (2013) 234 pages @@@ (3 out of 5) Reading a police procedural typically demands a great deal of patience on the part of the reader. That’s natural enough. Police work itself is said to be mostly drudgery. Some police-centric novels avoid the tedium of unrelieved digging […]

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