Murder by the Bye:
Murder by the Book's
Spies, private eyes, international intrigue and crime in your own backyard; these are just a few of the selections featured in the March newsletter. Punxsutawney Phil did forecast six more weeks of winter, so you will have ample opportunities to curl up with a good book while waiting for spring to arrive.
Daniel Silva introduced readers to Gabriel Allon in The Kill Artist
(2000). Allon worked as an operative for Israeli intelligence for many years before he retired and became an art restorer. The adage “Once a spy, always a spy” holds true in his case, no matter how he longs to lose himself in restoring priceless masterpieces, his ties with the espionage community can never be completely broken. In The English Girl
($9.99), the 13th
book in the series, Allon is called upon to locate the kidnapped mistress of a high level member of the British government. The kidnappers know of the woman’s affair and threaten to expose her secret unless their demands are met. Following the kidnappers trail takes Allon from Corsica to Russia with stops in France and England. Silva smoothly blends the worlds of art and espionage to create a suspenseful read.
The New York Times has this to say about author Olen
Steinhauer: “Not since le Carré has a writer so vividly evoked the multilayered, multifaceted, deeply paranoid world of espionage, in which identities and allegiances are malleable and ever shifting, the mirrors of loyalty and betrayal reflecting one another to infinity.” Steinhauer is best known for his series set in Communist- era Eastern Europe featuring Emil Brod and for his series with CIA agent Milo Weaver. His latest, The Cairo Affair ($26.99), is a stand- alone thriller involving an American diplomat’s assassination. A Cairo- based agent for the CIA, a member of the Egyptian intelligence community and an American analyst find themselves working together (sometimes at cross purposes) to discover who ordered the hit and why. Those unfamiliar with Steinhauer’s work may want to start by reading The Bridge of Sighs, the first in the Emil Brod series or The Tourist, the first in the Milo Weaver series.
Author Mark Henshaw worked for the CIA for over 10 years, earning the Galileo Award for innovation in intelligence analysis and brings his expertise to his debut novel Red Cell ($9.99). After an operation takes a wrong turn, Field agent Kyra Stryker is assigned a desk job and finds herself working alongside analyst Jonathan Burke. Known for his “full speed ahead and politics be damned” approach, Burke is the only other member of the CIA’s think tank known as The Red Cell. When their top asset in China reports that he is being watched, Stryker and Burke must act to save him and the vital information he possesses.
“It was one of those summer Tuesday afternoons when you
begin to wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The telephone on my desk had the look of something that knows it’s being watched. Traffic trickled by in the street below, and there were a few pedestrians, too, men in hats going nowhere.” So begins Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde ($27.00). In the early 1950s in Bay City California, private detective Phillip Marlowe’s (yes, Raymond Chandler’s own Phillip Marlowe) client is a beautifully dressed, well spoken blonde who wants Marlowe to find her former lover, Nico Peterson. The victim of a hit and run, Peterson was declared dead but Marlowe’s client swears she has seen him on the streets since the accident. Marlowe takes the case and finds himself tangled up with old family secrets, old family money and those who would go to great lengths to protect both. Chandler fans may want to go back and reread The Long Goodbye (1953) to reacquaint themselves with some of the characters featured in The Black-Eyed Blonde. For those unfamiliar with Chandler’s work, his first novel, The Big Sleep, published in 1939 is an excellent starting point. Readers may recognize “Benjamin Black” as the pseudonym for the award winning British novelist John Banville. Writing as Benjamin Black, he has published six mysteries set in 1950s Ireland, all featuring a coroner named Quirke.
Loren D. Estleman has been writing about private investigator Amos Walker since Motor City Blues came out in 1980. The other main character in his long- running series has always been the city of Detroit.In Don’t Look for Me ($26.99) Walker ignores the instruction that a woman who has disappeared left behind in her note. Hired by the woman’s husband and using “honor, valor and muscle,” his trademark trio of skills, Walker accepts the challenge of finding someone who may or may not want to be found. Estleman has won numerous awards, the latest being The Eye Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by The Private Eye Writers of America.
Called “…a dazzling first novel” by Publishers Weekly, Ingrid Thoft’s Loyalty $9.99) is hopefully the first in a series. Fina Ludlow works at her father’s Boston law office, not as a lawyer as he had hoped, but as the firm’s private investigator. Fina is currently investigating a case that hits close to home, her sister-in-law Melanie has disappeared. She unwillingly takes the case, knowing that she may learn more about Melanie’s marriage and life than she wants to know. In an interview the author reveals that she spent a year getting a certificate in private investigation and that she studied a case where ash from Mt. St. Helens played a role in solving a crime. She also made the logical choice to have Fina be a professional investigator because “...being an amateur was so limiting. You can only stumble upon so many bodies.”
Back in 2010 when Bruce DeSilva’s Rogue Island came out, Murder by the Book gave it a hearty recommendation and it received the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery as well. In Providence Rag ($25.99), DeSilva’s third book in the series, reporter Liam Mulligan continues to work for a struggling newspaper in Providence, Rhode Island. Mulligan becomes involved in a complex situation when Mason, his friend and fellow reporter, uncovers a story involving a man convicted of killing five of his neighbors when he was still a young teenager. Although the law at the time he was convicted required that all juvenile offenders be released on their 21st birthday, the man is still in jail, serving time on false charges. The trumped -up charges are an open secret and perversion of the justice system, even for a good cause, does not sit well with Mason. While Mulligan pushes to find legal methods to keep the killer behind bars, Mason pursues his own investigation. Providence Rag was inspired by a series of murders in Rhode Island in the 1980s.
It may be late winter 2014 here but in Murder in Pigalle ($27.95) by Cara Black, it is June 1998 in Paris. In her 14th outing, Parisian detective Aimee Leduc is trying to cut back on her hectic work schedule, only taking on cases involving computer security. Her plan to slow down and shift the focus of her investigations changes when a series of vicious crimes takes in the Pigalle neighborhood of Paris. Young girls are being attacked in their own homes and Aimee takes action when the parents of a 13- year- old missing girl come to her for help. Murder in Pigalle was inspired by a series of crimes that took place in Paris in 1998. Readers can explore the Paris that tourists never see by reading Murder in the Marais, the first in the Aimee Leduc series.
Georges Simenon’s birthday was February 13th. Born in Belgium in 1903, Simenon is considered to be one of the world's most prolific authors. He wrote 400 (yes, that's right, 400) novels in his lifetime. His best known character was Inspector Jules Maigret, the Parisian detective who had a fondness for smoking a pipe, having a drink and solving a crime. All 75 Maigret novels are being reprinted, so now is your chance to own a complete set. Look for The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien ($10.00) and The Carter of “La Providence” ($10.00) to be released later this month.
South Africa is the setting for Jassy Mackenzie’s Jade de Jong series. Jade, first seen in Random Violence (2008) returns in Pale Horses ($14.95). Hired by a friend of a woman who apparently fell to her death while base jumping, Jade at first believes the death to be a tragic accident. Considered an “extreme sport,” base jumping involves jumping from a fixed object, using a parachute to break the fall and accidents are not out of the question. She learns that the woman was involved with a charity that helped poverty stricken farming communities, and she pays a visit to a farmer the group was working with. When Jade discovers that the farm is not only abandoned but that the residents have disappeared she decides to dig deeper, putting her own life in danger. Jassy Mackenzie was born in Rhodesia (as many ex-Zimbabweans still prefer to call it), and moved to South Africa when she was eight years old. Mackenzie says she “ loves the energy, danger and excitement of Johannesburg, and believes there is no better place for a thriller writer to live.”
According to author Michael Connelly “Kwei Quartey does what all the best storytellers do. He takes you to a world you have never seen and makes it as real to you as your own backyard.” High praise indeed, coming from one of the masters of contemporary crime writing. In Murder at Cape Three Points ($26.95),series character Inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police investigates a crime on the coast of Ghana. The bodies of a couple have washed ashore in a canoe near an oil rig at Cape Three Points and it seems that have been brutally murdered. Dawson reluctantly travels to the coast for the investigation, aware that it is taking him away from his family at a crucial time. As he begins to explore the area Dawson realizes that the crime was personal, someone was sending a message by murdering the wealthy couple. Tensions between the local tribes and wealthy real estate and oil developers increase as his investigation exposes deep rooted corruption. The two previous books in the series, Wife of the Gods (2010) and Children of the Street (2011) both give readers an unflinching look at modern day Ghana. According to his website, Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana and has practiced medicine for more than 20 years. Dr. Quartey balances his two professions by dedicating the early morning hours to writing before beginning a day in his clinic.
American- born writer James Thompson (not to be confused with American- born writer Jim Thompson) has lived in Finland for over a decade and his series featuring Inspector Kari Vaara is a perfect example of “Nordic Noir”. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, just think “dark and realistic plots”, “brooding characters” and of course, “cold.” In Helsinki Blood ($15.00), the 4th in the series, Inspector Vaara is attempting to deal with the lingering after effects of brain surgery while still recovering from injuries suffered on the job. Seeking relief in his work, Vaara takes on the case of a missing Estonian woman who came to Finland seeking a better life and has since disappeared. His search will lead him into the world of human trafficking and to a rich and powerful group that seem to be untouchable.
Room No. 10 ($15.99) by Ake Edwarson is the seventh book in a series set in Gothenburg, Sweden. When veteran police Inspector Erik Winter is sent to a run-down hotel where a woman has been discovered hanging, he soon realizes that the room seems familiar. Years ago, a much younger Winter was investigating the disappearance of a woman who was last seen in the same hotel room and although twenty years separate the two cases, Winter is convinced that there is a connection between the two women. Winter reopens the cold case of the missing woman and with the help of his investigative team is soon on the trail of the killer. Death Angels (first published in the US in 2007) is the first book in this award winning series.
A remote village in Iceland is the setting for Yrsa Sigurdadottir’s I Remember You: A Ghost Story ($15.99). American readers may be familiar with her series featuring attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir which began with Last Rituals (2007). The Westfjords is the name of a sparsely populated peninsula in Northwestern Iceland and the place where three friends decide to renovate an old house. The three soon discover that they are not the only houseguests and that their presence is definitely not welcome. This chilling mix of crime fiction and ghost story won the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award.
Finally, as promised, a backyard crime. “There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard. Jason Getty had grown accustomed to the strangling night terrors, the randomly prickling palms, the bright aching surges of adrenaline at the sight of Mrs. Truesdell’s dog trotting across the lawn with some unidentifiable thing clamped in its jaws.” In Three Graves Full ($7.99) by Jamie Mason readers will soon discover why mild-mannered Jason buries a body in his own backyard. A body, that’s right, one body, one grave. Unfortunately for Jason, the previous owner of the house had used the backyard for his own purposes and when the other bodies are discovered, Jason knows that it is only a matter of time before evidence of his crime is unearthed. A mystery with more than a dash of dark humor, Three Graves Full, named by The Library Journal as a Best Book of 2013, is a winning debut.
Murder by the Book’s Book Group
Our group, led by local author Lori L. Lake meets the fourth Tuesday of month at 6:30 p.m. Barbara Tom, one of the former owners of MBTB, chooses the book to be discussed each month.
We meet at the Belmont Branch Library
1038 SE Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Our March Meeting will be held on
Tuesday, March 25th.
We will be discussing
Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan.
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, March 19th, they will be discussing
L.A. Requiem by Robert Crais.