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Newsletter April 2015

April showers bring May flowers and a whole bunch of fabulous reads!  Be sure to check out the Edgar Awards, which will be presented at the end of the month.

Donna Leon
introduced Commissario Guido Brunetti in Death at La Fenice (1992). Readers enjoyed vivid descriptions of the magical and mysterious city of Venice and were privy to drama and intrigue behind the scenes at one of the world’s most famous opera houses. In Death at La Fenice, Brunetti solves the murder of a conductor who was poisoned during intermission. One of the prime suspects in that case returns in Falling in Love ($26.00). Soprano Flavia Petrelli is appearing in a production of Tosca and Brunetti and his wife Paola arrange to attend. After a spectacular performance, Flavia retires to her dressing room to find an admirer has once again sent her flowers. Hundreds of yellow roses have been delivered to the singer at all of her recent performances. She shares her concerns that a fan’s admiration has turned to obsession with Brunetti and when her protégé is attacked, he fears that the Flavia’s life may be in danger. This 24th book in the series earned a starred review from Booklist, which said: “… the reappearance of Flavia gives Leon the opportunity to display her deep love of music and to construct a marvelous climactic scene between Flavia and her fan that parallels the finale of Tosca. Brava!”

Antonio Manzini
is an actor, screenwriter, director, and the author of two crime novels featuring Deputy Police Chief Rocco Schiavone, Black Run ($25.99) is the first to be translated into English. This debut is set in Aosta in the Italian Alps. The tourist-filled small town is not the preferred beat of urban police officer Rocco Schiavone. Rocco would be more at home in Rome, but his superiors have sent him packing, hoping that his tendency to ignore rules and procedures won’t get him into any further trouble. Rocco, who hates the snow, the picturesque town and the hordes of tourists he encounters daily, tackles his first case when a body is discovered on a ski run. He is determined to solve the crime, perhaps in hopes that catching a killer is his ticket back to Rome.

Let’s travel from the snowy Alps to the streets of Reykjavik to enjoy the latest by award winning author
Arnaldur Indridason. A prequel to his Inspector Erlendur series, Reykjavik Nights ($25.99) has a young Erlendur embarking on his career as a police officer. Crime in Reykjavik is much as the same as in any city; traffic incidents, domestic disputes, burglaries and even unexplained deaths. Indridason  gives readers a glimpse into a world that is both familiar (a young policeman investigating his first serious crime) and exotic (Rejkjavik  is the world’s northernmost capital). You may want to start with Jar City, the first book in the series. It was made into a film and in 2008 was Iceland’s entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Liza Marklund
has been called the “Queen of Scandinavian Crime Fiction” and has been writing a series featuring Swedish reporter Annika Bengtzon since 1998. First seen in The Bomber, Annika faces the same sorts of challenges as those of many working parents; finding the right balance between family and professional lives. The requirements of her job and  her determination to stay ahead of competing news reporters often puts Annika in harm’s way as she pursues stories for Stockholm’s daily newspaper Kvallspressen. In Borderline ($16.00) her focus is split between covering a series of murders in Stockholm and a hostage situation involving her husband who is attending a conference in Nairobi.

Born in 1915, Canadian author Kenneth Millar is better known to readers as
Ross Macdonald. His 18 novels featuring ex-cop turned private eye Lew Archer, are true classics of the mystery genre. The Moving Target (1949) was the first in the series and Macdonald is said to have patterned his style after Hammett and Chandler. Tom Nolan, author of Ross Macdonald: A Biography explains “Gradually he swapped the hard-boiled trappings for more subjective themes: personal identity, the family secret, the family scapegoat … how the buried past rises like a skeleton to confront the present. He brought the tragic drama of Freud and the psychology of Sophocles to detective stories, and his prose flashed with poetic imagery." Now readers can discover (or rediscover) MacDonald’s remarkable style in Ross Macdonald: Four Novels of the 1950s ($37.50). The collection includes one of my favorites, The Way Some People Die. FYI: Macdonald was married to the award winning author Margaret Millar, whose Beast in View will be reissued in September.

Also being reissued this month,
The City When It Rains ($13.95) by Thomas H. Cook and Black Knight in Red Square ($13.95) by Stuart Kaminsky.  In The City When it Rains, freelance photographer David Corman is always looking for “the shot”, the one photograph that tells the whole story without a single word. His latest series of pictures captures a death the police dismiss as a suicide but David has his doubts. Thomas H. Cook has been on my list of favorite crime and mystery writers for years and his Breakheart Hill ranks among my favorite books. Black Knight in Red Square is the 2nd in Kaminsky’s series featuring police inspector Porfiry Rostnikov. Set in Moscow in the early 1980s, the series presents a look into Soviet era Russia as seen through the eyes of a policeman. In this 2nd book in the series, Rostnikov investigates a series of deaths at the Moscow Film Festival. Kaminsky, who taught writing at Northwestern University, once gave his agent a manuscript written by one of his students. The student was Sara Paretsky, who credits Kaminsky with helping to launch her writing career.

John Sanford
starting writing a series about a Minneapolis cop named Lucas Davenport back in 1989. His titles always feature the word “Prey” and have been favorites of readers who enjoy an action-packed police procedural with characters you grow to know and care about. Gathering Prey ($28.95) the 25th (!) in the series, has Davenport and his daughter Letty coming to the aid of a woman Letty met in San Francisco. The homeless young woman fears that someone is targeting her band of friends and she has gone into hiding. Although initially suspicious of the woman and her motives, Davenport soon comes to believe that she is in real danger.

Let’s not forget the cozies, those mysteries that Wikipedia defines as
 “…a subgenre of
crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.” Lori Shepherd and her otherworldly sidekick Aunt Dimity make their 20th appearance in Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity and the Summer King ($25.99). As a little girl, Lori was entertained by her mother’s stories involving the adventurous Aunt Dimity, and as an adult she was very much surprised to learn that Aunt Dimity was in fact a very real person. We first met Aunt Dimity in Aunt Dimity’s Death, when Lori traveled to England for the reading of the woman’s will. Now Lori, with the help of her beloved Aunt, is trying to save her village from being overtaken by a greedy developer. Fans will  also welcome the return  Reginald, Lori’s beloved confidante.

The Postman Always Purls Twice
($15.00) by Anne Canadeo is the 7th in a series centered on a knitting group in Plum Harbor, MA. The Black Sheep Knitting Group meets weekly to work on projects, exchange news and even dabble in a bit of crime solving. When their knitting shop is used for the set of a movie, the women get a behind-the-scenes look at the cut- throat world of Hollywood. Readers appreciate that the author, an avid knitter, includes knitting tips in every book. Sounds like a cozy to me!

The Cozy Cookbook: More than
100 Recipes from Today’s Bestselling Mystery Authors ($16.00) includes recipes sure to please members of your book group! Look for recipes by Laura Childs, Cleo Coyle, Jenn McKinlay, Ellery Adams and more.

A trio of tasty cozies due this month sure to satisfy your mysterious sweet tooth:
Dark Chocolate Demise ($7.99) by Jenn McKinlay: The 7th in the Cupcake Bakery series.
Lemon Pies and Little White Lies ($7.99) by Ellery Adams: The 4th in the Charmed Pie Shop series.
Five Alarm Fudge ($7.99) by Christine DeSmet: The 3rd mystery set in an old-fashioned fudge shop.
Murder by the Book’s Book Group
Our group, led by local author Lori L. Lake, meets the fourth Tuesday of the 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. Please join us! April’s meeting will be held on Tuesday April 28th to discuss Zoo Station by David Downing.

This is the final, official newsletter from Murder by the Book. As you know, the store closed at the end of April 2013 and the newsletter has continued for the past two years. It has been a pleasure sharing the latest releases and news from the world of crime and mystery fiction with readers. I hope that you will continue to discover wonderful authors and series and that you will share your discoveries with others. Just the other day I recommended Louise Penny’s books to a woman who swore she never read mysteries (I think she might have called them “those kind of books”). She is now reading the third book in the series. Now it is your turn to spread the word about the books you love. I’ll end with a gentle reminder to support your local bookstores, they are treasures.

Happy Reading,