Murder by the Bye:
Murder by the Book's
Spring has sprung and so have the awards given out to mystery and crime writers. The Dilys Award is given for the book mystery booksellers most enjoyed selling this past year went to William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace. Best known for his series set in Minnesota featuring Cork O’Connor, Krueger’s Ordinary Grace is a coming- of- age story set in the 1960s.Ordinary Grace also won the coveted Squid Award for best mystery set in the United States at the recent Left Coast Crime Convention in Monterey, CA. Other winners at the convention included Louise Penny’s How the Light Gets In, which won the Calamari Award for best mystery set outside the United States, and Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses, which won the Bruce Alexander Memorial Mystery Award for best historical novel. Now we can look forward to the Edgar Awards, which are presented each year by the Mystery Writers of America.
According to the Mystery Writers of America, “As we celebrate the 205th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, here are the nominees for the 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2013. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 68th Gala Banquet, May 1, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.”
Selected Edgar nominees:
Sandrine’s Case ($24.00) by Thomas H. Cook
The Humans ($25.00) by Matt Haig
Ordinary Grace ($16.00) by William Kent Krueger
How the Light Gets In ($25.99) by Louise Penny
Standing in Another Man’s Grave ($15.00) by Ian Rankin
Until She Comes Home ($26.95) by Lori Roy
Although Louise Penny almost always wins whatever award she is nominated for, this year’s Edgar competition is especially fierce. MBTB votes for Sandrine’s Case by Thomas H. Cook.
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
The Resurrectionist ($25.99) by Matthew Guinn
Ghostman ($14.95) by Roger Hobbs
Rage Against the Dying ($24.99) by Becky Masterman
Red Sparrow (pb in April) by Jason Matthews
Reconstructing Amelia by ($15.99) Kimberly McCreight
This is a tough race to call, but Ghostman by Portland’s Roger Hobbs gets our vote (and a MBTB star). We also recommend Rage Against the Dying for its tight plotting and strong characters.
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Guilty One ($14.99) by Lisa Ballantyne
Almost Criminal ($17.99) by E. R. Brown
Joe Victim ($16.00) by Paul Cleave
Joyland ($12.95) by Stephen King
The Wicked Girls ($16.00) by Alex Marwood
Brilliance ($14.95) by Marcus Sakey
These nominees hail from around the world but we think Maine’s Stephen King will walk away with the prize. However, both The Guilty One and The Wicked Girls gave us chills.
The well-written, suspenseful spy novel is alive and well!
With the exception of Charles McCarry, there hasn’t been a first-rate American spy novelist who claims to have worked as an intelligence officer before turning his hand to fiction. Until now, that is. Jason Matthews is a 33-year veteran of the CIA. who, according to the press release in front of me, ‘served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in clandestine collection of national-security intelligence.’ Lord knows how he got the manuscript of “Red Sparrow” past the redacting committee at Langley, but he has turned his considerable knowledge of espionage into a startling debut.”
Anyone in the mood for Italian (crime)?
knew the detective, whoever he was, would be Venetian, of a certain age, have a university degree, a wife and some kids. I wanted to make him sympathetic. I knew that he had to read, be attractive. I made him someone I would enjoy spending a year with.” Brunetti and Venice share top billing in Leon’s latest book, By its Cover ($26.00.) In his 23rd outing, Brunetti investigates a rare book theft from a Venetian library. Apparently a visiting American professor was the last one to have access to the defaced volumes but upon further investigation it turns out that the man is an imposter. When a theologian, who had spent years conducting research in the library, turns up murdered, Brunetti soon finds himself investigating the seemingly unconnected crimes. We suggest reading the series from the beginning in order to enjoy the full flavor of the setting and the characters.
Naples in the 1930s is a far cry from modern-day Venice. The Day of the Dead ($17.00) by Maurizo de Giovanni is the fourth in a series with the intriguing Comm. Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi. Known for his ability to solve even the most perplexing crimes, Ricciardi uses all the traditional methods of detection that were available at the time but also relies on his ability to sense the final moments of victims of violence. In his latest case, Ricciardi investigates the death of a homeless teenager while Naples prepares for a visit from Benito Mussolini. You may want to start with I Will Have Vengeance, the first in the series.
Since 2014 has been declared “The Year of Reading Women,” be sure to add these titles to your “to be read list.”
Ivy Pochoda re-creates the spit of land that is Red Hook, Brooklyn, by her own lights, in the same way John Steinbeck could bring a neighborhood to life, with all its tragedies and comedies, odd characters, interwoven relationships, and grace. Val and June are 15-year-olds from the neighborhood. One hot summer night they float away on a pink raft and Val is discovered on the shore early the next morning, barely alive. A massive hunt begins for June, and as the search dwindles with the passing of the summer days, these characters are inhibited by their torpor, their sense of waiting for something to happen. Everyone has secrets and hopes that are heightened by June's continued absence. Although the pacing doesn't feel slow, Pochoda thoughtfully reveals her characters' stories drop by drop until the last few pages move rapidly along. Ivy Pochoda's book is sublime.”
In Cuckoo’s Calling, Strike is hired by the brother of a supposed suicide who believes that his sister was murdered. The Cuckoo’s Calling also won a star from MBTB and a glowing review from Barbara Tom, who said, “Cormoran Strike has had a complicated and heart-breaking life, although he has had a sure hand in creating some of the drama in it. Strike is the son of a high-profile aging rocker (think Mick Jagger), via a drug-addicted, narcissistic super groupie, who died a sordid and much-publicized death. He doesn't really know his father or any of his half-siblings, with the exception of Lucy, his mother's other child by a different father. The army gave Strike a home. As a successful investigator for the military police's special investigations branch, he found his place in the world, until he lost part of one of his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan. He was demobbed and thrown back into an unwelcoming civilian world. He decided to continue to do what he knew best and hung out his shingle as a private detective. Success, however, remained elusive. When Strike is first seen, he is a disheveled, distraught, and lumpy-but-strangely-attractive disaster. It is a surprise, therefore, when he proves himself to be a meticulous, observant, intuitive, and brilliant detective. Galbraith pleasantly upends stereotypes and frequently pulls out both big and little surprises.”
in the language of flowers, widow's tears represent grief?).
Also out this month in hardcover is was said to bring good luck, but only if it was not carried indoors. To do so invited death.”
When Gone Girl ($15.00) by Gillian Flynn was published in June of 2012, both critics and readers went wild. To date it has sold more than 3.7 million copies and spent over a year (!) on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Gone Girl is Flynn’s third novel, following the award- winning Sharp Objects (2006) and Dark Places (2009.) In Gone Girl, readers learn about the Dunnes, handsome Nick and lovely Amy, who are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. As plans for the happy day unfold, Amy disappears, and Nick becomes a suspect. Apparently, the “happy couple” wasn’t so happy after all. The book opens with Nick imagining his wife’s lovely head, and then picturing himself opening her skull and unwinding her thoughts, all the while trying to pin down what she is really thinking. No wonder the police, the town, and Amy’s parents all put Nick at the top of their list of suspects. And what of Amy, who kept a diary full of dark and disturbing images? Is she really the golden-haired perfect wife who willing gave up her life in New York to move to a small town in Missouri and help Nick care for his aging parents? The bottom line is that Amy has disappeared, she is gone, and if Nick wasn’t involved in her disappearance, then who was? Gillian Flynn describes her characters like this: “Nick and Amy Dunne were the golden couple. Soul mates. They could complete each other's sentences, guess each other's reactions. They could push each other's buttons. They are smart, charming, gorgeous, and also narcissistic, selfish, and cruel. They complete each other—in a very dangerous way.” If they haven’t already done so, book clubs will be putting Gone Girl on their lists of books to be discussed. As a matter of fact, Gone Girl is the MBTB’s book group’s pick for the month of June. The much-anticipated film based on the book will open in this Fall.
Murder by the Book’s Book Group
The Friends of Mystery Book Group meets at the Belmont Library on the third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. On Wednesday, April 16th, they will be discussing At Risk by Stella Rimington.