Edgar Awards
2017
The Ex
Book Jacket   Alafair Burke
2017
Under the Harrow
Book Jacket   Flynn Berry
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. After she discovers her sister brutally murdered, a woman's search for answers becomes as much about understanding the sibling she's lost as finding the killer.On any other visit to her older sister Rachel's Oxfordshire home, Londoner Nora Lawrence would look forward to leisurely meals and long talks enhanced by wine. But when she arrives this time, Nora finds Rachel stabbed 11 times and her German shepherd, Fenno, hanging dead from an upstairs banister. Berry, in her keenly wrought debut, never lets the reader forget the weight of Rachel's death, the heft of which grinds down Nora's every step as she lumbers from the police station to the local inn, where she decides to stay in order to be close to the investigation. Unlike murder cases on television, where evidence and suspects seem to abound, Rachel's case flounders from the start: there's no murder weapon, the village isn't overrun with nefarious characters, and the more Nora discovers about her sister, the less she feels like she knows her. Convinced that the murder might be linked to a brutal assault Rachel suffered at age 17 by an unknown assailant, Nora struggles to reconcile the fierce love she feels for her sister with the creeping feeling of inadequacy that always hovered on the periphery of their tightly knit but often fraught relationship. Berry accomplishes the rare feat of making the victim come alive on the page without ever sacrificing the deep, all-encompassing loss felt by those left behind. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
Rain Dogs
 Adrian McKinty
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. During the Irish Troubles, a discouraged detective tackles a murder oddly similar to a past crime. The excitement of meeting Muhammad Ali on his Belfast visit quickly fades for DI Sean Duffy. He'd thought he and his girlfriend were doing fine, but she's determined to walk out on him, and he's depressed to be left behind. He's pushing 40, his career with the Royal Ulster Constabulary is stalled, and he has nothing to look forward to but checking for bombs under his car on his way to the Carrick station and pursuing a case of a missing wallet. But Duffy's superiors want him to take the case seriously because the victim is a visiting Finnish businessman who can bring money and jobs to Northern Ireland. After privately writing off the robbery as a prank, Duffy meets Lily Bigelow, a young reporter from the Financial Times, who's hoping for a few words about the case. Duffy's hoping for a date with her, and his disappointment that she doesn't take him up on it turns to shock when he sees her dead body in the courtyard of Carrickfergus Castle the next day. Lily had come for a tour and stayed behind when the caretaker locked up the castle for the night, and the only logical conclusions are that she jumped or the caretaker pushed her. Even though it seems impossible for anyone else to have entered the locked castle, neither Duffy nor his two junior colleagues are content to go with the obvious answers. And there's still the matter of Lily's missing journalist's notepad. When a violent murder turns the station upside down, Duffy can't shake the feeling that it's connected to Lily's death, and he won't give up the case, no matter how far it takes him or what the danger. Duffy (Gun Street Girl, 2015, etc.) is taking no better care of himself than he ever did. But his copper's instincts are as sharp as ever in this fifth installment. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
The Wicked Boy
 Kate Summerscale
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An investigation of a late-19th-century crime in which a 13-year-old boy murdered his mother.In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes stabbed his mother, and he and his brother, 12-year-old Nattie, stole her money and took off to watch the local cricket match. Their father was a ship's steward, kind and caring but often absent. Leaving their mother's body upstairs in her bed, the boys enlisted the aid of John Fox, a fellow from the docks who had done odd jobs for their parents. With a look at late-19th-century social mores, the availability and quality of education, and the poor state of psychological help, former Daily Telegraph literary editor Summerscale (Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady, 2012, etc.) exposes how the young killer's mind worked. Robert, an excellent student, was a voracious reader of the penny dreadfuls, adventure books aimed at the young. He was eccentric, morbid, prone to terrible headaches and periods of withdrawal, and obsessed with ghastly murderers. His mother comes off as a harridan: she often beat the boys, including once for stealing food (she often didn't feed them), and she even threw knives at Nattie, who seems to have been oblivious to the direness of the facts but followed Robert without questions. After two weeks, the body was discovered in an advanced state of decay. The trial process was quick and fair, and Robert was remanded to the notorious insane asylum Broadmoor, where he was put in the gentlemen's wing. The author explains the surprisingly kind treatment there, and she follows Robert's transfer to a Salvation Army colony and move to Australia, where he finally found the adventures he had dreamed about. This well-written story is not so much a true-crime tale or murder mystery as an excellent sociological study of turn-of-the-20th-century England. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Book Jacket   Ruth Franklin
2017
In Sunlight or in Shadow
Book Jacket   Lawrence Block
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Edward Hopper, the painter of American loneliness, inspires a selection of short stories from a host of notable writers.Whether rural or urban, the largely, sometimes fully unpopulated spaces of Hopper's canvases speak so deeply to the American yearning to belong that the images seem to have been plucked right from the country's collective unconscious. We know every one of these places even if we have never seen them. It's no surprise then that the work Hopper inspires in this volume is not cheerful, but the best of it goes deep. Joe R. Lansdale's "The Projectionist" takes the lone usherette in Hopper's 1939 "New York Movie" as the starting point for a story about unrequited love and revenge. It is, as with much of Lansdale, sometimes brutal but never underfelt. Stephen King lets his demon grin show in the brief and nasty "The Music Room," a slick sick joke of a tale. Kris Nelscott, author of the excellent Smokey Dalton detective series, turns in a vivid and melancholy period piece about race and the Great Depression with "Still Life, 1931." And in "Girlie Show," Megan Abbott opens the book and leaves everyone else trying to catch up to her. This bitter tale of marriage and jealousy and the sweetness of sex turning to poison has the authenticity of lived experience, the weariness and longing of the beaten-down characters you see in Hopper's work.This strong collection begins in a spirit of homage but winds up showing how powerful inspiration can be. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
OCDaniel
 Wesley King
  Book Jacket
2017
Girl in the Blue Coat
 Monica Hesse
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A political features writer at the Washington Post turns to teen fiction and delivers the goods. World War II Amsterdam, the world of Anne Frank: because most readers know it through that lens, it's imagined as a claustrophobic, invisible world. Hesse's debut novel turns the story around: "Aryan poster girl" Hanneke spends her days cycling through her occupied city, using the ration cards of the dead to play the black market for her undertaker boss. Hanneke knows things are bad, but her own guilty griefher boyfriend died in the futile fight against the Nazis, and Hanneke blames herself for pushing him to fightblinds her. When one of her clients asks her to find a missing Jewish girl, 15 and vanished from Mrs. Janssen's hidden room, Hanneke stumbles into a pocket of the resistance and begins to understand the depths of the horror facing her country and the immensity of the Nazi evil. Hesse's impeccable research meshes almost seamlessly with Hanneke's present-tense narration, bringing the time and place to life. Rich in content and emotion, this is a first-rate companion to the historical tales of the onderduikers, the hidden Jews of Holland, and a compelling read despite its mildly rose-tinted resolution. Shelve this one beside resistance tales like Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity (2012) and read next to a box of tissues. (Historical fiction. 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316260602 In 1943 Amsterdam, Hanneke nurses a broken heart--her boyfriend has died in the war--while delivering black market goods (foodstuffs, cigarettes, etc.) to her neighbors. One customer, Mrs. Janssen, implores Hanneke to find a missing girl whom the woman had been sheltering, leading to an engaging mystery that shakes Hanneke from her emotional stupor. An author's note includes useful information about the Dutch Resistance. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
Let Me Die in His Footsteps: A Novel
Book Jacket   Lori Roy
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Roy (Bent Road, 2011, etc.) draws a Faulkner-ian tale of sex and violence from the Kentucky hills. In scenes alternating between 1936 and 1952and with points of view shifting and mirroringtwo women live with a gift for foretelling, what they call the know-how. "It floats just above the lavender bushes, trickles from the moss hanging from the oaks...waiting for someone like Annie or Aunt Juna to scoop it or snatch it or pluck it from the air." Juna disappeared after her testimony led to Joseph Carl Baines being hanged in '36 for murder. As the book opens, Annie Holleran is trapped in a country superstition about her future husband's face being reflected by well water on her 15th half-birthday"her day of ascension." In fact, there's as much about who loves whom here as about the Holleran-Baines blood feud ignited by Joseph Carl's hanging. Willful ignorance, and the nature of the supposed crime, meant a rush to judgment, but only deep into the haunted tale come hints that Juna's know-how disguises a darker trait. Roy's characters live whole on the page, especially Annie, all gawky girl stumbling her way to womanhood through prejudice and inhibition; the widowed female sheriff, her husband's successor, who announces the prisoner's death: "On her head sits a simple blue hat she might wear to a wedding or a funeral"; Juna's sister, Sarah, who aches for Ellis Baine; and the girls' widowed daddy, who "has a way of balling himself up when he's drinking regular, almost like he's wanting to altogether disappear." As three generations struggle with deception and death, there's much ado about lavenderin kitchens, in sachets, in bread and tea, symbolizing devotionin this tale driven by something stranger. A sure winner with fans of backwoods country noir. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
The Sympathizer: A Novel
Book Jacket   Viet Thanh Nguyen
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A closely written novel of after-the-war Vietnam, when all that was solid melted into air.As Graham Greene and Robert Stone have taught us, on the streets of Saigon, nothing is as it seems. The racist suppositions of the empires of old helped shape a culture of subterfuge; not for nothing does the hero of Nguyen's (English and American Studies/Univ. of Southern Calif.) debut give a small disquisition on the meaning of being Eurasian or Amerasian ("a small nation could be founded from the tropical offspring of the American GI"), and not for nothing does a book meaningfully called Asian Communism and the Oriental Mode of Destruction play a part in the proceedings. Nguyen's protagonist tells us from the very first, in a call-me-Ishmael moment, that he's a mole: "I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces." Two faces, two races, neither wholly trusted. Our hero is attached to the command of a no-nonsense South Vietnamese general who's airlifted out at the fall of Saigon in 1975, protected by dewy Americans "with not a hint of a needle track in the crooks of their arms or a whiff of marijuana in their pressed, jungle-free fatigues"; whisked stateside, where the protagonist once spent time absorbing Americanness, the general is at the center of a potent community of exiles whom the protagonist is charged with spying onthough it turns out he's as much observed as observer. Think Alan Furst meets Elmore Leonard, and you'll capture Nguyen at his most surreal, our hero attempting to impress upon a Hollywood hopeful that American and Vietnamese screams sound different: "I was on my first assignment as a lieutenant," he recalls, "and could not figure out a way to save the man from my captain wrapping a strand of rusted barbed wire around his throat, the necklace tight enough so that each time he swallowed, the wire tickled his Adam's apple." Both chilling and funny, and a worthy addition to the library of first-rate novels about the Vietnam War. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
The Long and Faraway Gone: A Novel
 Lou Berney
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Twenty-five years after a devastating shooting and the unrelated disappearance of a teenage girl, the survivors of both events struggle to find out what really happened so they can move on with their separate lives. Edgar nominee Berney (Whiplash River, 2012) introduces two damaged but engaging characters: Wyatt, the sole survivor of a robbery/shooting at a movie theater that left six other people dead; and Julianna, whose beautiful and mercurial older sister, Genevieve, disappeared at the Oklahoma State Fair and has been presumed murdered ever since. The plot is driven by their searches for what happened in the past as well as a present-day mystery that brings Wyatt, now a private detective, home to Oklahoma City, the site of both earlier losses. Berney alternates his focus between their two stories, and while their paths do cross once or twice, there is no forced blending of the narratives. As in classic noir, the evocation of a specific placeOklahoma Cityand time's effects add another layer of meaning. Also as suggested by the noir-ish title and tradition, Berney's novel is most truly a thoughtful exploration of memory and what it means to be a survivor. Elegiac and wistful, it is a lyrical mystery that focuses more on character development than on reaching the "big reveal." The novel smartly avoids being coy; there are answers to private detective Wyatt's case and answers to the mysteries from the past, but they reflect the truth of such moments; in the end, the answers are almost beside the point because the wondering, the questions, never really go away. But both characters do achieve their own kind of closure, and that allows the reader to also feel some comfort of fulfillment. A mystery with a deep, wounded heart. Read it. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully
 Allen Kurzweil
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. One man's search for his childhood bully, who turned out to be far more than that.Sent to a Swiss boarding school run with clocklike precision at the age of 10, Kurzweil (Leon and the Champion Chip, 2010, etc.) endured a year of torment, especially from one student, a bully named Cesar Augustus. Thirty years later, the author's nemesis appeared as a character in one of his children's books, an event that triggered him to search for Cesar, as he still remembered the pain and shame of the verbal and physical abuse he suffered. Over the course of 10 years, Kurzweil became a master sleuth and discovered that Cesar was far more than a bully. Using the Internet and many other resources, the author discovered that Cesar had been involved in a major advance-fee banking scam, fronted by the Badische Trust Consortium, which involved millions of dollars, fake princes and knights, high-profile lawyers and gullible clients longing for the funds to finance their dreams. Kurzweil explores his longing to connect with and confront the bully of his childhood, who had become an adult con artist convicted twice yet still seemingly intent on scamming people in one way or another. His story reads like a European version of American Hustle, complete with men in monocles and silk ascots, fancy dinners in expensive restaurants and his own methods of espionage that he used to obtain information. His fast-paced narrative, with its rich details of the intricate nature of the scam and his uncanny ability to ferret out the truth, almost masks his underlying desire to talk to Cesar about that year in school. When he finally does, readers receive a satisfactory ending to this 40-year drama. Full of intrigue and suspense, the story follows the bizarre twists and turns of one man's journey to find and confront his childhood tormentorready-made for a film treatment. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
The Golden Age of Murder
Book Jacket   Martin Edwards
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Engrossing if occasionally glacial study of the Detection Club, a gathering of British mystery writers who defined the genre. Himself a writer of crime thrillers, Edwards (The Frozen Shroud, 2013, etc.) comes to the club naturallythough long past its golden age, which ended 65-odd years ago. The original circle, founder Anthony Berkeley projected, would have 13 membersa resonant number that eventually expanded threefold to include such luminaries as Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, and Agatha Christie. At the heart of Edwards' study is the observation that the membership constituted a body of amateur detectives who were not only capable of musing out the facts behind such mysteries as "an ingenious murder committed by means of chocolates injected with nitrobenzene," but who also embraced true-crime scenarios and made them part of their work, sometimes to the point of courting libel lawsuits. As Edwards writes, with a suitably enticing hook, "Why was Christie haunted by the drowning of the man who adapted her work for the stage? What convinced Sayers of the innocence of a man convicted of battering his wife to death with a poker?" Having set up a fleet of questions, Edwards proceeds to answer them with murder-laced aplomb. He has a nicely naughty sense of humor about it, too, for the well-heeled Detection Club members often poked into business that was more than a little infra dig. As the author writes of one case, a lecherous perp "claimed he was merely offering Irene career advice, although what he knew of testing valves was not reported." Yet, when the tale turns tragicnot just because of awful crimes, but also because of sad developments in the lives of Sayers and other membersEdwards writes appropriately and well. Fans of Father Brown, Hercule Poirot, or Lord Peter Wimsey will find much of value in this bookwhich, though long and sometimes too slow, leaves readers wanting more. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories
Book Jacket   Stephen King
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A gathering of short stories by an ascended master of the form. Best known for mega-bestselling horror yarns, King (Finders Keepers, 2015, etc.) has been writing short stories for a very long time, moving among genres and honing his craft. This gathering of 20 stories, about half previously published and half new, speaks to King's considerable abilities as a writer of genre fiction who manages to expand and improve the genre as he works; certainly no one has invested ordinary reality and ordinary objects with as much creepiness as King, mostly things that move (cars, kid's scooters, Ferris wheels). Some stories would not have been out of place in the pulp magazines of the 1940s and '50s, with allowances for modern references ("Somewhere far off, a helicopter beats at the sky over the Gulf. The DEA looking for drug runners, the Judge supposes"). Pulpy though some stories are, the published pieces have noble pedigrees, having appeared in places such as Granta and The New Yorker. Many inhabit the same literary universe as Raymond Carver, whom King even name-checks in an extraordinarily clever tale of the multiple realities hidden in a simple Kindle device: "What else is there by Raymond Carver in the worlds of Ur? Is there oneor a dozen, or a thousandwhere he quit smoking, lived to be 70, and wrote another half a dozen books?" Like Carver, King often populates his stories with blue-collar people who drink too much, worry about money, and mistrust everything and everyone: "Every time you see bright stuff, somebody turns on the rain machine. The bright stuff is never colorfast." Best of all, lifting the curtain, King prefaces the stories with notes about how they came about ("This one had to be told, because I knew exactly what kind of language I wanted to use"). Those notes alone make this a must for aspiring writers. Readers seeking a tale well told will take pleasure in King's sometimes-scary, sometimes merely gloomy pages. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
 Susan Vaught
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481422765 After shooting off an elephant rifle in their backyard, eleven-year-old Footer's bipolar mother is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. To distract herself, budding journalist Footer investigates an unsolved local crime with best friend Peavine, an aspiring detective with cerebral palsy. Footer's lively voice and sense of humor add levity to heavy subject matter. Like its heroine, this mystery is compelling, offbeat, and fearless. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
A Madness So Discreet
 Mindy McGinnis
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Thrown into an asylum by the same hands that nearly destroyed her, a 19th-century girl must redefine herself and the meaning of madness to survive. At Wayburne Lunatic Asylum of Boston, Grace is trapped in a nightmare; one patient screams all night, believing spiders crawl in her veins, and an orderly thrills at causing pain. However, the asylum pales compared to the hell she came from. Grace is not insane. Her father, a powerful politician, delivered her to the asylum after she became pregnant with a child he forced upon her. Though more horrors await her, Grace quickly decides she'll never leave. When young Dr. Thornhollow, a specialist in lobotomies, arrives at her lowest moment, Grace begs him to set her mind free. But he recognizes a rare cleverness in her and offers to spirit her away to assist him in his new endeavor: catching murderers. However, she must pretend to be insane to remain safe. Grace soon constructs a new identity among the maddest of characters. Though mired in moments of unthinkable cruelty, Grace's story shines. Every person she encounters, mad or trapped by the label of madness, feels achingly real. Readers will wish they could watch her and Thornhollow solve murders for pages and pages more. A dark study of the effects of power in the wrong hands, buoyed by a tenacious heroine and her colorful companions. (Historical thriller. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062320865 Impregnated by her senator father and temporarily discarded in an abusive "lunatic asylum," Grace poses as a mute victim of brain surgery and escapes to a kinder asylum with Dr. Thornhollow, who employs Grace's intelligence and sharp memory to help profile criminals. McGinnis astutely blurs the lines between sanity and insanity and captures the changing mental-health environment of latenineteenth century America. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
Mr. Mercedes : a novel
Book Jacket   by Stephen King
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In his latest suspenser, the prolific King (Joyland, 2013, etc.) returns to the theme of the scary carexcept this one has a scary driver who's as loony but logical unto himself as old Jack Torrance from The Shining.It's an utterly American setup: Over here is a line of dispirited people waiting to get into a job fair, and over there is a psycho licking his chops at the easy target they present; he aims a car into the crowd and mows down a bunch of innocents, killing eight and hurting many more. The car isn't his. The malice most certainly is, and it's up to world-weary ex-cop Bill Hodges to pull himself up from depression and figure out the identity of the author of that heinous act. That author offers help: He sends sometimes-taunting, sometimes-sympathy-courting notes explaining his actions. ("I must say I exceeded my own wildest expectations," he crows in one, while in another he mourns, "I grew up in a physically and sexually abusive household.") With a cadre of investigators in tow, Hodges sets out to avert what is certain to be an even greater trauma, for the object of his cat-and-mouse quest has much larger ambitions, this time involving a fireworks show worthy of Fight Club. And that's not his only crime: He's illegally downloaded "the whole Anarchist Cookbook from BitTorrent," and copyright theft just may be the ultimate evil in the King moral universe. King's familiar themes are all here: There's craziness in spades and plenty of alcohol and even a carnival, King being perhaps the most accomplished coulrophobe at work today. The storyline is vintage King, too: In the battle of good and evil, good may prevailbut never before evil has caused a whole lot of mayhem.The scariest thing of all is to imagine King writing a happy children's book. This isn't it: It's nicely dark, never predictable and altogether entertaining. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Dry bones in the valley : a novel
Book Jacket   by Tom Bouman
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The worn-down mountains and fertile river valleys of northeastern Pennsylvania hide some dreadful secrets.Officer Henry Farrell has returned, bereft and mentally damaged, from Wyoming to the land of his birth after his wife died from a number of health problems he suspects were related to fracking. In Henry's quiet corner of Pennsylvania, hardscrabble dairy farms and small businesses struggle for survival. For years, there have been few jobs and plenty of poverty. But that's all being changed by the influx of companies leasing land for gas drilling. When the body of a young man is found on the property of Aub Dunigan, and Danny Stiobhard appears at a local clinic to have buckshot picked out of his side after Aub "accidentally" shoots him, Henry realizes he'll have to call in both the sheriff and the state police. Aub, who's suffering from dementia, has little to say, and Danny takes off before the police can ask too many questions. Life only gets more complicated when Henry's deputy, George Ellis, is shot dead and Henry discovers a well-hidden old grave on Aub's property. Henry went to school with many of his suspects and believes that, despite their casual thievery and poaching, most of them are incapable of murder. But the drilling has brought an influx of out-of-state workers, set neighbor against neighbor, and opened the door to dangerous meth cookers and heroin pushers who've set up business in remote locations. The key to solving Henry's case may lie in a remarkably well-preserved body found in the hidden grave.Bouman's debut shows rural noir at its finest: a poetically written mystery about a man struggling with his inner demons and an area of great natural beauty few had heard of before the natural gas boom. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
The secret history of Las Vegas : a novel
 by Chris Abani
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A detective on the brink of retirement and a psychiatrist with a guilty burden are brought together by a series of deaths in Las Vegas in this grim but beautifully written tale. Detective Salazar, of the Las Vegas Police, has a habit of revisiting scenes of unsolved crimes. When one such scene becomes active again, he arrests conjoined twins who were bathing in Lake Mead near a drum leaking blood. The twins are Water Esau Grimes, a full-sized man who spouts factoids, and Fire Jacob Grimes, a tiny appendage who does most of the talking for both. To justify keeping them in custody, Salazar calls for an evaluation from Dr. Sunil Singh, a psychiatrist with the nearby Desert Palms Institute. Singh is conducting studies in psychopathic behavior, but he doesn't find it in either of the twins. He and Salazar form a mismatched duo themselves: The uncouth Salazar builds and burns miniature ships to commemorate the people he killed on duty; South Africanborn Sunil's insight and compassion mask a secret present and a bloody past. A man seeking revenge against Singh and a revelation about the twins lead to an unexpected ending. Abani (The Virgin of Flames, 2007, etc.) creates vivid metaphors not just with his characters, but also with a drowned town emerging from the waters of Lake Mead, a ghost town that hosts the Carnival of Lost Souls, and the city of Las Vegas, which celebrates the dark, the hidden and the grotesque.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Tinseltown Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Birth of Hollywood.
 by William J. Mann
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Who killed William Desmond Taylor? More than 90 years after the unsolved murder of the renowned director, film historian and biographer Mann (Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand, 2012, etc.) takes up the cold case. The result is a gripping true-crime story that encompasses a colorful period in film history. On Feb. 1, 1922, an unknown assailant shot the prominent director in the living room of his Los Angeles apartment. A botched police investigation, false leads, studio coverups, blackmail and a media frenzy ensued. The executives at Famous Players-Lasky, the film studio where Taylor worked, were more concerned about bad publicity than the loss of one of their leading directors. They made haste to collect Taylor's papers, lest they contain any whiff of scandal (they did), and stored them at the studio, compromising the investigation. The timing couldn't have been worse with the trials (there were three) of popular comic actor Fatty Arbuckle, who was accused of murdering a young actress, already in the headlines. The studio didn't want another Hollywood scandal stirring up the public. In this context, Mann seamlessly weaves the details of the murder investigation, witnesses and newspaper accounts into the rich history of early film. The author also profiles movie power brokers, including Adolph Zukor, who founded and built the mighty Paramount. Like the movies, the story has its beauties. Mabel Normand, a comedic star who had returned to the screen after kicking a cocaine habit, was Taylor's longtime friend and became a suspect due to her past associations with drug dealers. Mary Miles Minter, a teenage starlet, was obsessed with Taylor to the point of stalking him. Margaret Gibson (aka Patricia Palmer), an actress on the fringe who knew Taylor when they were both starting out in the movies, associated with petty criminals involved in scams and blackmailing schemes. While searching for a solution to the sensational crime, Mann masterfully captures the zeitgeist of Hollywood in its early days. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Poe-land : the hallowed haunts of edgar allan poe.
Book Jacket   by J. W. Ocker
2015
Greenglass House
Book Jacket   by Kate Milford ; with illustrations by Jaime Zollars
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. When his parents' hotel fills up with a variety of unexpected guests just days before Christmas, Milo is caught up in mysterious goings-on.The inn, hospitable to smugglers and named for its colored glass windows, sits on cliffs above the river Skidwrack. With the holiday interrupted by the demands of guests iced in by wintry weather, Milo finds both purpose and distraction in a role-playing game introduced by his new young friend, Meddy, and in a book of folklore given to him by a guest. A ghost story, a love story, a story of fabled relics and the tale of a legendary smuggler intertwine while Milo, in his game persona, finds longed-for skills and strengths. Each guest seeks a secret treasure in the old house, while Milo, out of loyalty to his adoptive parents, hardly dares name his own secret quest: to know more about his Chinese heritage. Milford's storytelling is splendid. Stories within the story are rich and layered; clues are generously offered; even the badly behaved visitors seem fairly good-humored until the worst reveals true perfidy at the last; the many threads of the tale all tie up. Milo's world seems comfortably contemporary; the current history of his parallel world is mostly background that's revealed at the close.An abundantly diverting mystery seasoned with mild fantasy and just a little steampunk. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780544052703 Milo is anticipating a quiet winter-holiday week at home--home being Greenglass House, a "smugglers' hotel"--with his adoptive parents, when the bell rings and a parade of strangers begins to arrive. Milford employs a Westing Game level of cunning in setting up clues (smugglers, folktales, stolen objects, adopted children, and ghosts all play a part) and revealing their importance. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
The art of secrets
 by James Klise
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Relationships, secrets and lies aplenty for caper-loving fans. Here are the facts: Saba Khan's family is left homeless after a suspicious fire guts their small Chicago apartment. Saba's school community rallies around the reserved, observant tennis player and her family, and two fellow students, Kendra and Kevin Spoon, organize a charity auction on their behalf. Among the donations is a 10-page illustrated story by renowned Chicago self-taught artist Henry Darger (trash-picked in Darger's old neighborhood by Kendra and Kevin), which is promptly insured for $550,000 and then goes missing. Who torched the Khans' apartment? Who stole the artwork, and why? How did they do it? The answers unfold with briskly paced care in Klise's (Love Drugged, 2010) second novel, an apparent homage to the style of his sisters Kate and M. Sarah Klise's Regarding the Fountain (1998) and others. Through the interview transcripts, journal entries, text messages and overheard conversations of Saba and her father, as well as fellow students, faculty and administration at Highsmith School, readers get both bird's-eye and close-up views of the case, and careful readers will quickly unmask the culprit. Strong on plotting and art history but weak on believable voices (Saba herself comes through beautifully, but her father, Farooq, and Spanish exchange student Javier are particularly cringe-inducing), Klise doesn't quite pull off the trick his clever, appealing villains do. Enjoyable but inessential. (Mystery. 11-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781616201951 When an arsonist sets fire to her apartment, tenth grader Saba Khan's community rushes to support her family, and her social stock sky-rockets. But when a valuable piece of art turns up in a fundraiser for Saba's family, the community splinters. Who should get the money? This darkly ambiguous, provocative novel highlights the destructive power of secrets and the politics of generosity. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
The stranger you know
 Jane Casey
  Book Jacket
 
2014
Ordinary Grace
Book Jacket   by William Kent Krueger
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A respected mystery writer turns his attention to the biggest mystery of all: God. An award-winning author for his long-running Cork O' Connor series (Trickster's Point, 2012, etc.), Krueger aims higher and hits harder with a stand-alone novel that shares much with his other work. The setting is still his native Minnesota, the tension with the region's Indian population remains palpable and the novel begins with the discovery of a corpse, that of a young boy who was considered a little slow and whose body was found near the train trestle in the woods on the outskirts of town. Was it an accident or something even more sinister? Yet, that opening fatality is something of a red herring (and that initial mystery is never really resolved), as it serves as a prelude to a series of other deaths that shake the world of Frank Drum, the 13-year-old narrator (occasionally from the perspective of his memory of these events, four decades later), his stuttering younger brother and his parents, whose marriage may well not survive these tragedies. One of the novel's pivotal mysteries concerns the gaps among what Frank experiences (as a participant and an eavesdropper), what he knows and what he thinks he knows. "In a small town, nothing is private," he realizes. "Word spreads with the incomprehensibility of magic and the speed of plague." Frank's father, Nathan, is the town's pastor, an aspiring lawyer until his military experience in World War II left him shaken and led him to his vocation. His spouse chafes at the role of minister's wife and doesn't share his faith, though "the awful grace of God," as it manifests itself within the novel, would try the faith of the most devout believer. Yet, ultimately, the world of this novel is one of redemptive grace and mercy, as well as unidentified corpses and unexplainable tragedy. A novel that transforms narrator and reader alike.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
One Came Home
Book Jacket   by Amy Timberlake
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In 1871, in the small town of Placid, Wis., a sister goes missing and a great adventure begins. Disconsolate over the end of a promising courtship, Agatha Burkhardt runs off without so much as a goodbye to her younger sister, Georgie. When the sheriff attempts to locate and retrieve Agatha, he brings home not the vibrant sister that Georgie adores, but an unidentifiable body wearing Agatha's ball gown. Alone in her belief that the body is not her sister's, Georgie sneaks away in the dead of night, determined to retrace Agatha's steps in order to solve the mystery of her disappearance and, she hopes, to bring her home. To Georgie's surprise, she's joined on the journey by her sister's former flame. And what a journey it is, fraught with mountain lions, counterfeiters and marriage proposals. The truly memorable characters and setting--particularly descriptions of the incredible phenomenon of passenger-pigeon nesting and migration--and the gradual unraveling of the mystery of Agatha's disappearance make this one hard to put down. The icing on the cake, though, is Georgie's narration, which is fresh, laugh-out-loud funny and an absolute delight to read. Georgie's story will capture readers' imaginations with the very first sentences and then hold them hostage until the final page is turned. (Historical fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375869259 When her older sister Agatha is found dead (but unrecognizable), Georgie is certain that there has been a mistake. With her sister's unwelcome suitor Billy McCabe, Georgie sets off to find her sister, or, at least, to find out how she died. The adversarial relationship between Georgie and Billy provides superb comic relief in a gripping, gritty story set in 1870s Wisconsin. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Ketchup Clouds
 by Annabel Pitcher
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Of course Zoe isn't anything like Texas death row inmate Stuart Harris. She got away with her murder. Plagued by guilt and using the alias "Zoe," the British teen writes a series of confessional letters to Harris. These episodic letters reveal a string of fateful decisions, including her role in a young man's death. Seizing on her parents' marital problems, Zoe escapes to a party and finds instant attraction with "The Boy with the Brown Eyes." But when he disappears, she takes solace--with clothing removed--with popular Max Morgan. While periodically running into the mysterious guy, who she learns is named Aaron, Zoe continues her mostly physical relationship with Max. When she also discovers that Aaron and Max are brothers, readers clearly understand that one of them will die because of her. It's not just suspense that drives this epistolary page-turner, but Zoe's authentic emotional responses and unyielding wit ("who knew that vomit could be flirtatious?"). Zoe's not a monster here but a typical adolescent who does like Max but is in love with Aaron. An engaging subplot involving Zoe's younger, deaf sister and her mother's culpability in her disability mirror Zoe's mounting tension. After many red herrings, a bittersweet ending brings compassion and answers to Zoe's dilemma and shows just how easy it is to make mistakes and how hard love can be. (Fiction. 13 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316246767 Guilt-ridden British teen Zoe feels responsible for the fates of two brothers--Max, the hot guy with whom she's been making out; and Aaron, with whom she's in love. Zoe's original turns of phrase and sprightly narrative style give her story quick, light momentum and moments of lyricism. Sharp, articulate perceptions and a measure of suspense make this an engaging read. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
America Is Elsewhere: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture
 by Erik Dussere
  Book Jacket
 
2014
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War
Book Jacket   by Daniel Stashower
2014
The Wicked Girls
Book Jacket   by Alex Marwood
 
2014
Red Sparrow: A Novel
 Red Sparrow: A Novel
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Matthews' first novel, a globe-trotting spy thriller, features enough action to satisfy even the most demanding of adrenaline junkies. CIA field operative Nate Nash acts as the control officer for an invaluable Russian asset placed high up in Putin's administration. Nate chose to become a career spy despite pressure from his well-connected attorney father and two brothers to knuckle down and join the family business. Now, instead of filing briefs and golfing on weekends, he's playing tag with top-notch Russian intelligence teams out to expose Nate's source, known by the code name MARBLE. Meanwhile, another Russian, a beautiful ballerina named Dominika, raised by parents disenchanted with Russian politics but smart enough to realize that such an attitude could prove deadly to their only child, has been forced out of ballet school following an incident of sabotage. While contemplating her grim future, Dominika is approached by her loathsome uncle and top Soviet intelligence official, Vanya Egorov, to seduce an oligarch bothersome to the current administration. When a soulless killer becomes involved in the assignment, Dominika realizes she must quickly adhere to the party line in order to survive and asks her uncle to help her join the intelligence service, which he does. Soon, Dominika and Nate are set on a collision course, and the stage is set for a cat-and-mouse game that bounces from Moscow to Helsinki to Rome to Athens, a deadly assassin at their heels. The inclusion of a recipe at each chapter's end (for foods including chicken Kiev and kebabs), along with the not-so-subtle mentions of food wedged into the storyline, is unnecessary. This book is good and doesn't need the gimmicks. The author's CIA background and the smart dialogue make this an entertaining tale for spy-novel enthusiasts.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2013
Code Name Verity
 by Elizabeth Wein
Horn Book (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781423152194 Wein's exceptional--downright sizzling--abilities as a writer of historical adventure fiction are spectacularly evident in this taut, captivating story of two young women, spy and pilot, during World War II. Wein gives us multiple doubletakes and surprises as she ratchets up the tension in captured spy Queenie's story of her best friend Maddie, the pilot who dropped her over France, then crashed. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II. In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information--"everything I can remember about the British War Effort"--in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place. A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781423152194 Wein's exceptional--downright sizzling--abilities as a writer of historical adventure fiction are spectacularly evident in this taut, captivating story of two young women, spy and pilot, during World War II. Wein gives us multiple doubletakes and surprises as she ratchets up the tension in captured spy Queenie's story of her best friend Maddie, the pilot who dropped her over France, then crashed. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2013
Live by Night: (Coughlin, Book 2)
Book Jacket   by Dennis Lehane
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The acclaimed mystery writer again tries his hand at historical fiction, combining period detail from the Prohibition era with the depth of character and twists of plot that have won him such a devoted readership. Though this novel serves as a sequel to The Given Day (2008), it can be read independently of Lehane's previous historical novel and is closer in its page-turning narrative momentum to his more contemporary thrillers such as Mystic River (2001). Its protagonist is Joe Coughlin, the morally conflicted youngest son of a corrupt Boston police official (oldest brother Danny was protagonist of the previous novel and makes a cameo appearance here). One of the more compelling characters ever created by Lehane, Joe is a bright young man raised in an economically privileged Irish household who turned to crime as a teenager because "it was fun and he was good at it." He's the product of a loveless marriage, for whom "the hole at the center of his house had been a hole at the center of his parents and one day the hole had found the center of Joe." Among the ways he tries to fill that hole is through love and loyalty, both of which put him at odds with the prevailing ethos of the gang bosses among whom he finds himself caught in the crossfire. He ultimately builds a bootlegging empire in Tampa, backed by a vicious gang lord whose rival had tried to kill Joe, and he falls in love with a Cuban woman whose penchant for social justice receives a boost from his illegal profits. ("Good deeds, since the dawn of time, had often followed bad money," writes Lehane.) Neither as epic in scope nor as literarily ambitious as its predecessor, the novel builds to a powerful series of climaxes, following betrayal upon betrayal, which will satisfy Lehane's fans and deserves to extend his readership as well. Power, lust and moral ambiguity combine for an all-American explosion of fictional fireworks.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2013
The Expats: A Novel
Book Jacket   by Chris Pavone
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2013
The Last Policeman: A Novel (The Last Policeman Trilogy)
 by Ben Winters
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In a pre-apocalyptic world, one detective still keeps watch--but to what end? The impending impact of asteroid 2011GV1, unaffectionately known as Maia, has given life on Earth only six more months. It's turned Concord, N.H., into a "hanger town," a reference to the suicide preference of locals. Rookie Detective Hank Palace is determined to stay on top of his caseload even though many of his old colleagues seem to have cashed in and are bucket-listing it from now on. Enter Peter Zell, or rather exit Peter, whose death is Palace's latest case. Any other cop would have let this apparent suicide go, but Palace is determined to do his duty when he senses something suspicious about the circumstances. Added to this is Palace's mess of a little sister, Nico, who knows that Palace may be the only one with the cop chops to track down her missing husband. What's more interesting than the mystery surrounding Zell's death is Winters' vision of a pre-apocalyptic world, one where laws are both absolute and irrelevant and even minor players have major control over what could be a new future. The imminent end of the world doesn't mean that everyone has shown their hands--just that there's a lot more at stake if they lose. A promising kickoff to a planned trilogy. For Winters (Bedbugs, 2011, etc.), the beauty is in the details rather than the plot's grim main thrust.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2013
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
 by Paul French
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Through the Looking Glass: China's Foreign Journalists from Opium Wars to Mao, 2009, etc.) masterly portrays the graft-ridden milieu of preWorld War II China, where the arrogance of foreigners prevailed. The horribly mutilated body of a young woman, later identified as British schoolgirl Pamela Werner, was discovered at Fox Tower in Peking, on Jan. 8, 1937, to the shock of the foreign community. Initially, French pursues the official Chinese and British police angle, offering a grisly autopsy report and discussions of suspects such as Pamela's father, ETC Werner, an old China hand and former British consul. Detectives discovered that Pamela had been ice-skating with her girlfriend the night before and failed to make it home on her bicycle by dinnertime, as she had promised her father and cook. Compelling details emerge about the attractive young woman. She was scheduled to leave her school and return to England soon because of untoward advances made by her professor, and she had been courted by several men her father had disapproved of. Still, the official inquest stalled, Peking fell to the Japanese and the case petered out, except that Pamela's father doggedly took over, offering a reward and hiring his own detectives. Having long lived in Peking, Werner sensed that such a murder had not been committed by Chinese, but by the foreigners who congregated at the watering hole the Grand Hotel des Wagons Lits, and they were not telling the truth. French provides a wealth of historical detail about a vanished era in interwar Peking. A well-composed, engaging, lurid tale.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics
Book Jacket   by James O'Brien
2013
The Quick Fix (Big Splash)
Book Jacket   by Jack Ferraiolo
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780810997257 Cunning detective Matt Stevens is hired by the head cheerleader and the school thug for two jobs that involve the same mysterious wooden trinket. Ferraiolo's crime-drama-homage sequel to The Big Splash presents another thrilling caper with enough plot twists, intrigue, and over-the-top similes ("She stood out...like a gazelle in a herd of cows") to keep reluctant readers interested and delighted. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2012
The Silence of Murder
 by Dandi Daley Mackall
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. (Mystery. 13 up) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375868962 When her developmentally disabled brother Jeremy, who hasn't spoken in nine years, is accused of murdering the popular high school basketball coach, Hope is determined to clear his name. Hope's dedication to her brother is inspiring, but the novel suffers from uneven pacing and flat characterizations of Jeremy and the adults in the siblings' lives. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2012
Gone
 by Mo Hayder
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A carjacker in a clown's mask drives off with an 11-year-old girl in the back seat, drawing DI Jack Caffery of Bristol's major-crime unit into a multilayered plot that also brings back unsteady female police diver Flea Marley.Hayder's fifth novel to feature Caffery (introduced in Birdman, 1999) tones down the gruesome violence (if not the creepy scenarios), delivering a brilliantly plotted mystery that keeps you guessing not only who the villain is, but what exactly he's after. With his poorly disguised antipathy toward children, Caffery is not the best choice to investigate the disappearance of little girls. But the former Londoner, who's still losing sleep over his brother's childhood disappearance, is comfortable on the missing-person trail. Helped by his unhinged but brilliant street friend, the Walking Man, he is led to a canal with a submerged barge and an odd network of air shafts. That's where Marley (introduced in Ritual, 2008) is on her own mission to make up for a traumatic pastnot to mention a recent criminal act in taking responsibility for the death of a woman her drunken brother ran over. The complicated personal history of Caffery and Marley provides a compelling undercurrent, as does Marley's confessed love-hate affair with Caffery and his checkered past. She does something most mystery writers wouldn't with their star protagonist: She has him miss major clues and get outsmarted by the mother of a missing girl. But only, of course, to a point.First-rate mystery that takes full advantage of the wintry, moonlit West Country and the unusual skills of its lady diver.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2012
Bent Road
Book Jacket   by Lori Roy
2012
The Company Man
Book Jacket   by Robert Jackson Bennett
 
2012
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
 by Candice Millard
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The shocking shooting and the painful, lingering death of the 20th president."Killed by a disappointed office seeker."Thus most history texts backhand the self-made James Garfield (18311881), notwithstanding his distinguished career as a college professor, lawyer, Civil War general, exceptional orator, congressman and all too briefly president. Millard follows up her impressive debut (The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, 2005) by colorfully unpacking this summary dismissal, demonstrating the power of expert storytelling to wonderfully animate even the simplest facts. As she builds to the president's fatal encounter with his assassin, she details the intra-party struggle among Republicans that led to Garfield's surprise 1880 nomination. The Stalwarts, worshippers of Grant, defenders of the notorious spoils system, battled the Half-Breeds, reformers who took direction from Senators John Sherman and James G. Blaine. The scheming, delusional Charles J. Guiteau, failed author, lawyer and evangelist, listened to no one, except perhaps the voices in his head assuring him he was an important political player, instrumental in Garfield's election and deserving of the consulship to Paris. After repeated rebuffs, he determined that only "removing the president" would allow a grateful Vice President Chester A. Arthur to reward him. During the nearly three excruciating months Garfield lay dying, Alexander Graham Bell desperately scrambled to perfect his induction balance (a metal detector) in time to locate the lead bullet lodged in the stricken president's back. Meanwhile, Garfield's medical team persistently failed to observe British surgeon Joseph Lister's methods of antisepsisthe American medical establishment rejected the idea of invisible germs as ridiculousa neglect that almost surely killed the president. Moving set piecesthe 1876 U.S. Centennial Exhibition which Garfield attended and where both Lister and Bell presented, the deadlocked Republican Convention, the steamship explosion that almost killed Guiteau, the White House death watchand sharply etched sketches of Blaine, the overwhelmed Arthur and larger portraits of the truly impressive Garfield and the thoroughly insane Guiteau make for compulsive reading.Superb American history.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2012
On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling (Writers on Writers)
 by Michael Dirda
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Pulitzer Prizewinning Washington Post book critic Dirda (Classics for Pleasure,2007, etc.) provides a personal voyage around the creator of Sherlock Holmes and a prodigious variety of lesser-known heroes, worlds and volumes.Most readers know that Arthur Conan Doyle, who never signed his books "Sir Arthur," thought so little of his most celebrated hero that he tried to kill him off. But most studies of Doyle place Holmes at the center of Doyle's universe. It's fair to say that Dirda's does as well, but the author tries hard to supplement his emphasis on Holmes with due attention to the adventures of Doyle's own favorite character, Professor Challenger, his horror and fantasy tales, his broadsides and his letters. Rooting his discussion in his memories of his own introduction to Doyle's writings, Dirda recalls his investiture in the Baker Street Irregulars and reprints an abridged version of his essay "A Case for Langdale Pike," his own addition to the delightful faux scholarship of Sherlockiana. Dirda is at his best in his sensitive appreciation of Doyle's style, direct, fluent, and surprisingly flexible as he moves from genre to genre, and in his account of manly civic inspiration as the value Doyle aimed above all to inculcate in his writing (a value in which he found the Holmes stories lamentably deficient). But many of Dirda's own adventures among Doyle's works, beguiling as they are, could well have been condensed to make room for a more detailed review of the three kinds of writing Doyle considered his most significant: his historical romances, his multivolume history of the Boer War and especially his writings on spiritualism, which Dirda short-changes because he feels so uncomfortable with them.Despite a few shortcomings, an endearing, well-balanced introduction to a writer the Strand Magazine called "the greatest natural storyteller of his age."]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2011
Rogue Island (Liam Mulligan)
Book Jacket   Rogue Island (Liam Mulligan)
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The smallest state bursts with crime, corruption, wisecracks and neo-noir atmosphere in DeSilva's blistering debut.Someone's set seven fires in the Mount Hope section of Providence. Arson for profit is all too common in the city's history, but these buildings were owned by different people and insured by different companies. So Ernie Polecki, indolent Chief Arson Investigator, and his incompetent assistant Roselli, the mayor's cousin, assume that they're the work of a firebug. So do the DiMaggios, the vigilante crew who patrol the nighttime streets with baseball bats. But not seen-it-all reporter Liam Mulligan. His festering ulcer, estrangement from his harpy wife Dorcas and romance with his young Princeton-trained colleague Veronica Tang, who won't have sex with him till he gets tested for HIV, haven't absorbed all his energy. Shrugging off the insistence of city editor Ed Lomax that he file a story on a dog who ran across the country from Oregon to rejoin his relocated owners (a hilarious episode that shows just how desperate his professional situation is), Mulligan homes in on the developing story. His interest is fueled by the number of interested parties he just happens to be close tofrom his prom date Rosella Morelli, now Battalion Chief of the fire department, to his burned-out bookie, Dominic "Whoosh" Zerilliand by the arsonist's apparent determination to torch every structure in Rhode Island's capital. At length the mounting toll includes homes, storefronts, people and Mulligan's questionable peace of mind. When the lead he's supplied investigators goes sour and his own life is threatened, he has no choice but to trust the cub reporter he's been saddled withthe publisher's son, whom he calls Thanks-Dadand the mobsters who'd be perfectly willing to set fires themselves, but who draw the line at killing women and children.Mulligan is the perfect guide to a town in which the only ways to get things done are to be connected to the right people or to grease the right palms.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2011
The Lock Artist: A Novel
Book Jacket   by Steve Hamilton
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A traumatized boy grows into a world-class safecracker. Every gangster knows that a boxman is the guy who opens boxes (safes) with precious things in them. Michael Smith's acquaintances know that he's an artist among boxmen, someone who, like more conventional artists, is at a loss to explicate the mysteriespartly because he doesn't talk. When he was eight, Michael states on the first page, a headline-grabbing horror changed his life forever, setting him on his less-traveled path. He still can't tell us about it, "but maybe one of these days as I'm writing, I'll get tothat day in June of 1990." Nine years later, however, 17-year-old Michael suddenly realizes that he can unlock just about anything. This skill, of course, makes him valuable to a wide range of no-goods, some of them just greedy, others downright predatory. But it also brings him to Amelia, with whom he falls irrevocably in love. In order to protect her from dangers more imagined than real, hopelessly romantic Michael is drawn into a multimillion-dollar con game as deadly as it is elaborate. Isolated, deeply enmeshed and mind-numbingly scared, Michael will be hard-pressed to feel his way toward solving a perilous, no-exit, locked-box mystery. Readers may tire of lock lore a bit earlier than Hamilton (Night Work, 2007, etc.), but sharp prose and a strong cast should keep them in line. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2011
Long Time Coming
 by Robert Goddard
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Goddard's latest period suspenser (Sight Unseen, 2007, etc.) combines World War II, the Irish Troubles and a disreputable uncle. Returning to England after resigning from both his position with an oil company and his American fiance, Stephen Swan learns that he won't be the only newcomer to his mother's guest house in Paignton. Eldritch Swan, just released from an Irish prison after serving 36 years, has asked to stay with his late brother's family, whom he's never met, until he can get his feet beneath him. Uncle and nephew fail to bond. Apart from assuring Stephen that his prison term wasn't for a violent crime and hinting that he was an innocent who was framed, Eldritch refuses to reveal why he's been jailed since 1940; if he ever told a soul, he adds, he'd be sent back. His plan for getting on his feet doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Approached by a lawyer whose shadowy client is willing to pay 50,000 for proof that American tycoon Jay Brownlow's collection of Picassos was stolen from Antwerp diamond merchant Isaac Meridor as he fled the approaching Nazis, Eldritch indicates that he's the perfect man for the jobbecause he helped steal them. Goddard tacks back and forth between 1976 and 1940, dexterously raising new and deeper questions, then unfolding just enough of Eldritch's colorful history to answer them, or at least to encourage both his nephew and Meridor's granddaughter Rachel Banner to ever-greater complicity in his schemes. The suspect Eldritch fingers is unctuous, untouchable Miles Linley, now Sir Miles, for whom Eldritch fagged at school and for whom he ran an increasingly dodgy series of subdiplomatic errands as Hitler threatened Ireland and Churchill waited anxiously to see whether Eamon de Valera would support England, remain neutral or work for a German victory. More scattershot and less inevitable-seeming than Goddard's best work, but also sharper-edged than usual. Eldritch's checkered career marks a welcome change from the author's customary, sometimes oppressive, suavity. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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