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Newsletter- September 2014


            THE BYE:

A monthly newsletter from

Murder by the Book

  September 2014 

The days are beginning to shorten and just like squirrels that are stocking up for the winter months ahead, readers are making lists and gathering books to be read over the winter. September’s book list is full of great titles to add to your own reading list and help you adjust to the changing of seasons.



For me, the publication of a new book by Tana French is cause for celebration. Ever since I read In the Woods back in 2007, I’ve been recommending her atmospheric Irish mysteries. Although not a series in the traditional sense, her stories are connected by her use of a character who may have been on the sidelines in a previous book and now moves to the center of the action. French must love the Faulkner quote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” because alongside whatever character she chooses to put front and center, the past is always right there, waiting to step into the spotlight. In The Secret Place ($27.95) Detective Stephen Moran takes center stage. The eager, young detective was first seen in Faithful Place (2010) where he served as underling to Frank Mackey of the Dublin Murder Squad.  Since that time, Moran has been investigating cold cases, waiting for an opening on the Murder Squad. When Mackey’s daughter Holly brings in a cryptic note found at her school, Moran jumps at the chance to investigate a link to the murder of a boy found on the school grounds a year ago. St. Kildas, the all girl private school, has a board called “The Secret Place” where students can anonymously post pictures and notes and this is where Holly discovered a photo of the murdered boy with the caption “I know who killed him”. The discovery breathes new life into a stalled investigation, and while Moran works alongside lead detective Antoinette Conaway, Frank Mackey keeps a close eye on both his daughter and the detectives. Full of insights into human nature and glimpses into the complicated lives of teenagers, this fifth book in the series earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly.


At last month’s meeting of Murder by the Book’s Book Group, we discussed Laidlaw (1977) William McIlvanney’s first crime novel. Reactions were mixed; a few people loved the setting and the author’s descriptive language and others hated it, feeling that it was dull and pretentious. One thing is guaranteed at our book club meetings, the discussions are always lively and opinions are freely shared.  First published in 1983, The Papers of Tony Veitch ($16.00) is the second book to be reissued in the Laidlaw series.  Detective Jack Laidlaw continues to work the streets of Glasgow with his partner Brian Harkness. A death bed  tip from Eck Adamson, a longtime informant and alcoholic, sets Laidlaw and Harkness on the trail of a missing student with ties to Glasgow’s criminal underworld. Full of Scottish slang and vivid descriptions of Glasgow and its people, McIllvanney’s works are perhaps an acquired taste but as Scottish writer Val McDermid says “Without his books, there might not have been tartan noir. He kicked the door open so the likes of Ian Rankin, Denise Mina and me could sneak through behind him. But they’re much more than a monument. They’re still a bloody good read!”


T. Frank Muir sets his Scottish series in St. Andrews, known for its lush golf courses and for St. Andrews University, the oldest university in Scotland.  Eye for an Eye ($9.99) introduces DI Andy Gilchrist, a policeman in the idyllic coastal town. Gilchrist’s latest investigation focuses on the killing of several known spousal abusers who were all found with the same gruesome injuries. Haunted by discord in his own family and stymied by the lack of evidence needed to solve the series of crimes, Gilchrist doggedly searches for a killer who is targeting a very specific set of victims.


A.D. Scott’s The Low Road ($16.00) is the 5th book in her series set in the 1950s in the highlands of Scotland. This time out, journalist John McAllister of The Highland Gazette  is approached by the matriarch of the band of local “Travelers”, looking for his help in locating her son. Jimmy McPhee had been expected to help with the upcoming horse show but never returned from Glasgow and his mother wants answers. Soon, McAllister is following Jimmy’s trail through the back alleys of Glasgow, aided by a young reporter eager for a big story.  Readers may want to start with A Small Death in the Great Glen (2010) which introduced the staff of The Highland Gazette.


We first met Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James in A Share in Death in 1993. Since then, Deborah Crombie has published a long running series of mysteries featuring the duo. In To Dwell in Darkness ($25.99) the 16th in the series, Kincaid and James investigate the bombing of St. Pancras Station in London. The busy railway terminal was the scene of a protest that participants swear was meant to be peaceful. As they work to uncover the truth, Kincaid also questions the reasons behind his recent transfer, a move none of his superior officers can explain. Deborah Crombie was one of MBTB’s bestselling authors, with devoted fans enjoying her well-crafted mysteries and the set of continuing characters she developed over the course of the series.


Broadchurch ($25.99) by Erin Kelly and Chris Chibnall is based on the BBC America series of the same name. Kelly, best known for writing psychological thrillers teamed with Chibnall, the writer and producer of the TV series, for this book. Broadchurch is a tight -knit, small town on the Dorset coast.  When an 11 year –old boy is found murdered on the beach,  local Detective Ellie Miller and newly-appointed Detective Superintendent Alec Hardy are assigned to the case. Miller, a mother whose son was friends with the victim, assumes that the killer came from outside the community but Hardy has no qualms about suspecting the locals as the two pursue the killer. The British television show starring David Tennant was extremely well done and Gracepoint, an American adaptation of the show will premiere this fall.


Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s most famous detective, first appeared in The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and was last seen in Curtain (1975). Now, the Christie estate has commissioned British writer Sophie Hannah to carry on the exploits of the world’s most famous Belgian detective in The Monogram Murders ($25.99.) In London in the mid 1920s, Poirot investigates the murders of three people found in an exclusive hotel, each with a cufflink placed in their mouth. As Poirot begins to meticulously unravel the clues, the murderer goes about planning the placement of the final cuff link. As a long-time fan of Agatha Christie’s works (her books got me through a nasty case of the chicken pox in my 20s) I’ll be sure to give this a read.


Yes, it's challenging for any author to pick up the torch and continue writing about a well known and well loved fictional detective. Robert B. Parker leaves big shoes to fill but Reed Farrel Coleman does character Jesse Stone justice in his take on the famous series in Blind Spot ($26.95). Coleman says “Jesse Stone is a character with enormous appeal for me. I’d written an essay about Jesse for the book In Pursuit of Spenser, edited by Otto Penzler. In doing the research for the essay, I found a rare and magical thing that only master writers like Mr. Parker could create: the perfectly flawed hero. Easy for writers to create heroes. Easy for writers to create characters with flaws. Not so easy to do both. But Robert B. Parker was an alchemist who turned simple concepts into enduring characters.” In Blind Spot, Jesse (the Chief of Police in Paradise, MA.) revisits his past when he attends a reunion in New York City of his Triple –A baseball team.  His time with old teammates, old girlfriends and old memories is cut short when a murder occurs back in Paradise. When he discovers an apparent link between his former teammates and the crime, Jesse’s investigation takes a personal turn. Also out this month, Damned if You Do ($9.99) by Michael Brandman. This is the 3rd book written by Brandman (who wrote the Jesse Stone television movies starring Tom Selleck) and finds Jesse investigating the death of a prostitute. Helped by Boston crime boss Gino Fish, Jesse discovers once again that the town of Paradise hides some dirty secrets. If you haven’t read any books in the Jesse Stone series, I’d suggest starting with Robert B. Parker’s Night Passage (1997).


This Dark Road to Mercy ($14.99) by Wiley Cash, tells the story of Easter and Ruby Quillby, young sisters who were abandoned by their father Wade at an early age. Now determined to reunite the family, Wade takes the girls from their foster home and disappears into the mountains. Pursued by their court-appointed guardian and by a dangerous man who believes Wade has his share of a bank heist, the family scrambles to reconnect while trying to survive. Cash’s first novel was the award-winning A Land More Kind Than Home, which I chose as a favorite paperback of 2013.


Dennis Lehane has been writing about Boston since the award winning A Drink Before the War was published in 1994. Now in The Drop ($14.99) we meet Bob Saginowski, a bartender and former petty criminal. Working for his cousin, Bob manages to get by as long as he turns a blind eye to the behind-the-scenes activities going on at the bar. His life changes the night he hears a noise from a garbage can and rescues an injured puppy. Taking on the responsibility of caring for the animal brings about changes in Bob’s life; he meets his neighbor Nadia and begins to make plans for his future. However, pressure from the dog’s original owner and a police investigation into his cousin’s business complicate matters.  Lehane wrote the screenplay for The Drop, which stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini set to be released in September.

But wait, there are a few more titles worth mentioning this month!

Night of the White Buffalo ($26.95) by Margaret Coel : The 13th  in the series set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming has Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Jesuit missionary John O’Malley investigating a murder, while the reservation celebrates the birth of a fabled animal. The Eagle Catcher (1995) is the first book in this popular series.
Murder 101 ($26.99) by Faye Kellerman: The 22nd book in the Rina Lazurus and Peter Decker series finds the couple in upstate New York, where Peter has traded in his LAPD badge to work for the local police department. The move has made his wife Rina happy but Peter longs for a little excitement. Be careful what you wish for Peter.

The Golem of Hollywood ($27.95) by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman: The Kellermans are one talented bunch! Jonathan (best known for his Dr. Alex Delaware series) has teamed up with his son Jesse (who has penned several thrillers) to write this tale of detection and mysticism that earned rave reviews from Stephen King.

Rose Gold ($25.95) by Walter Mosley: This is the 13th book in the Easy Rawlins series that began with Devil in a Blue Dress (1990).

                                                                    Murder by the Book’s
                                                                         Book Group


 Our group, led by local author Lori L. Lake, usually meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the

 Belmont Branch Library

 (1038 SE Cesar Chavez Blvd.)

Barbara Tom, one of the former owners of MBTB, chooses the book to be discussed.

September’s meeting
 will be held on Tuesday,
 September 30th and we will discuss

 The Dawn Patrol

by Don Winslow


The Friends of Mystery

Book Group

On Wednesday September 17th,

they will meet at 6:30 p.m.
 at the Hollywood Branch Library (4040 NE Tillamook) to discuss

The Ice House

  by Minette Walters.


Happy reading,