Thursday, December 27, 2012

City of Exiles by Alec Nevala-Lee (Signet

This international thriller involves two foreign assassins—one Russian, one Finn. Both are involved in several gruesome murders but they probably are working on different political agendas. Most of the action takes place in London where the police are working with FBI agent Rachel Wolfe.

The key murder involves international investor James Morley, who has invested a great deal of money in Russian companies. He has apparently discovered that the Russian government is in league with Russian criminals to insure the success of their natural gas companies. The government hopes to control the European market for natural gas, which, in essence, would allow them to control Europe.

Wolpe and her compatriots in the British police must gather clues left by the multiple murders and tie them to the Russian mob. The clues also may be tied to the decades-old murders of 10 hikers lost in the Russian mountains.

There are hints of several factions within the Russian government that may be vying for ultimate control of the government or the new- found power given to them with the control of the natural gas industry. It is a complicated plot, but the pieces will eventually coalesce and you will enjoy Alec Nevala-Lee's thriller.

--Steve Bank

--FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Not Dead Yet by Peter James (Minotaur)

Brighton's Senior Investigating Officer Roy Grace has a lot on his plate in Peter James' latest thriller. He has a trial coming up where he has to help put away a criminal, an unknown body found in a tunnel under the river, and a headless-armless-legless body found at a barn at a chicken farm. But his life is going to get a whole lot more complicated!

Movie star, Gaia Lafayette, born in Brighton, is coming back to her home town to film a movie about George IV and his mistress. There is a death threat hanging over Gaia and there has been an attempt to murder her in California. The British police must go all out in protecting her.

Amis Smallbone who promised to kill Grace for sending him to prison is being released from his life sentence. Grace is in a loving relationship (they are expecting a baby) with Medical Examiner Cleo Morey. Cleo's car is vandalized and a threatening message left as a warning to the couple.

One might say James gives one a lot to consider and sometimes you may feel like you need a scorecard to keep track of all the players. But I can promise: You won't regret picking up Not Dead Yet!

--Steve Bank

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Fatal Winter by G. M. Malliet (Minotaur)

This mystery takes place in a small English village named Nether Monkslip where murders have taken place at the century’s old Chedrow Castle during the coming Christmas holidays. The castle is inhabited by Lord Oscar Footrustle, his sister Lady Letitia Baynard, and a young woman named Lamorna. A raucous, money hungry group of their grown and young children have gathered at the castle for the holidays. Ah, so many motives for murder in one place! The main protagonist is Reverend Max Tudor who in his former life worked for MI5. Murder and death is the order of the season, but of the many suspects—who committed the crimes? Detective Cotton has requested that Max turn his attention away from his religious duties and affairs of his own heart to solving the baffling murders. The story twists and turns among each of the family members. The ending, appropriately, is a surprise!

This is a well written whodunit that keeps you guessing. There is a cast of characters and family tree presented before the start of the story, so you can keep track of the relationships and names. I enjoy English mysteries the most, especially those written by Dick Francis.

--Nancy Petrillo

FTC Disclaimer -- This book was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gray Matter by Shirley Kennett (Open Road)

This novel was recently released as an e-book and is the first of five books in the P J Gray series. Penelope Jennifer Gray, known as PJ, is a newly divorced psychologist and expert in computer simulation. She and her 12year-old son have just moved to St. Louis where she will be working for the St. Louis Police Department as head of a new division, CHIP (Computerized Homicide Investigations Project), to use virtual reality (VR) to solve crimes. PJ is developing a software program that reenacts the crime using VR. The plan is to have several months to set up the program prior to actually using it. However, when a famous pianist is found dead, decapitated with his head missing and a strange craving of a dog on his back, she is assigned the case on her first day in the office.

PJ’s police partner is Leo Schultz, a veteran cop fast approaching retirement, who has been a desk jockey for several years. Schultz has no desire to have anything to do with computers or PJ, but he does want to return to field work. As more victims are discovered it becomes a race against time to identify and capture one of the worst serial killers of all time. PJ and Schultz work the case, using traditional police techniques and VR to enter the mind of the killer. The suspense becomes almost unbearable when PJ and Schultz make some serious mistakes and the killer realizes they are on to him.

The characters are very well developed, the relationships seem real, and the murders are very frightening and bloody. It is not difficult to visualize the crime scenes, but I could not put this book down. I read to the wee hours of the morning—good thing I am retired! I can't wait to read the other four books.

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclosure -- This book was provided by the publisher in e-format.

PS from Molly - I read and reviewed this book when it came out in hardcover. I totally concur with Helen's assessment!

The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron (Grand Central)

Even if there were no crime in the Deborah Knott novels, I would still love them. The people Maron writes about are people I know; the relationships within Deborah's family are as familiar to me as are the societal situations that are very real to North Carolina as we change from rural to urban.

In this outing, Sigrid Harald and her mother are in Colleton County visiting Sigrid's ailing grandmother, Mrs. Lattimore. Deborah Knott and her husband Deputy Dwight Bryant are invited to a dinner party at Mrs. Lattimore's elegant home where they meet Sigrid's long-lost cousin, an ornithologist who is studying Southern vultures.

Combine all the family members with a missing realtor and a badly injured teenager and you'll find yourself settling in for a wonderful read. In my opinion, The Buzzard Table is quite possibly the best in an outstanding series.

FCT Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.grand

Edge of Black by J. T. Ellison (Harlequin Mira)

This is the second book in the Dr. Samantha (Sam) Owens series. Sam is a forensic pathologist who gets involved in solving the crimes that put the bodies in her lab. She has sold her house and resigned from her job as chief medical examiner in Nashville TN, in an attempt to start over after the drowning death of her husband and children two years ago. She is moving to Washington DC where she will teach at Georgetown University and to be near her new boyfriend, Xander Whitfield, an ex-army ranger.

Sam is asked to consult on a case with the DC police when three people die after an unknown pathogen is released into the Washington Metro system. While many are ill—why are there only three deaths? Sam's gut tell her something is not right and leads her to investigate the lives of the three victims to determine if it is coincidence or if these unrelated people are somehow connected. Her boyfriend has an unusual relationship with several of the suspects that puts Sam and Xander on the firing line.

This is an adventure with lots of action (that only an Army Ranger can provide) and complex characters. While you do not need to read the first book, A Deeper Darkness, to get into the story, I recommend that you read it first. This will allow you to better understand the relationship between Sam and all the major characters and the hang-ups that each have. Both books are exciting and difficult to put down.

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Edgar Grand Masters & Ravens

Ken Follett and Margaret Maron have been chosen as this year’s Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Mr. Follett and Ms. Maron will be presented with their awards at the Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, May 2, 2013.
When told of being named a Grand Master, Follett said, “I am delighted and honoured. My first successful book, Eye of the Needle, won the Edgar for Best Novel more than thirty years ago. I’m thrilled to know that my fellow writers still hold me in such high regard.”

Follett is the best-selling author of twenty novels, and has sold more than 100 million books since he began writing in the 1970’s. His career has been wide reaching and after mastering the mystery genre, he expanded into literary epic fiction, TV, movies and children’s books. Following Eye of the Needle Follett’s string of suspenseful and original thrillers included Triple, The Key to Rebecca, The Man from St. Petersburg and Lie Down with Lions. His sweeping historical drama Pillars of the Earth has been on bestseller lists for years, followed by World Without End, Fall of Giants, and Winter of the World. Follett lives in the U.K. with his wife Barbara Follett.

Margaret Maron is the author of twenty-six novels and two short story collections. Her first mystery, One Coffee With, was published in 1981, and was the beginning of her Sigrid Harald series featuring a New York City police officer. But it wasn’t until 1992, and a fictional return to her North Carolina roots, with Bootlegger’s Daughter (the first of the Deborah Knott series), that Maron was awarded an Edgar, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity award. Maron’s works are on the reading lists of courses in contemporary Southern literature and have been translated into 16 languages. She has served as president of Sisters in Crime, the American Crime Writers League, and Mystery Writers of America. She and her husband live on her family's century-old farm a few miles southeast of Raleigh, which inspired the setting for Bootlegger's Daughter.
On learning she was a Grand Master, Maron said, “Me? It still hasn’t fully sunk in. I keep remembering my first MWA dinner when I was half-afraid that I would be asked to leave because I only had a few short stories and a half-published book to my name, so how could I possibly belong there with those luminaries? Grand Master? Wow!”

Previous Grand Masters include Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, Dorothy Gilman, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

One mystery bookstore and one outstanding individual supporting the mystery book genre will be honored with the 2013 Raven Award. Established in 1953, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego and Redondo Beach, California, and veteran newspaper journalist Oline Cogdill will receive the 2013 Raven Awards.

The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego was opened by Terry Gillman, Maryelizabeth Hart and Jeff Mariotte in 1993. The bookshop has not only served their customers, but has contributed to their community with several successful literacy programs benefiting local schools, libraries and businesses. In 2011, they opened the Redondo Beach store, in the greater LA area. This store has a state-of-the-art media room and adjoining café, and stocks some 15,000 to 20,000 books in a renovated 4,000 square-foot facility. The two stores comprise the only mystery bookstores in Southern California.

Maryelizabeth Hart said, “From the day we opened our doors almost twenty years ago, we've believed that bookstores are the bridge between the (sometimes overlapping) community of readers and the community of authors and publishers. We've tried to serve both communities well, and are delighted and proud of this recognition from MWA.’

Oline Cogdill has been a journalist for more than twenty-five years, and is the mystery columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. She was awarded the 1999 Sun-Sentinel's Pettijohn Award and the 1999 Ellen Nehr Award for Excellence in Mystery Reviewing by the American Crime Writers League. Her reviews are syndicated nationwide.

Cogdill said, “This recognition is an honor that has left me nearly speechless with gratitude. I have always felt privileged to be a part of this community and this validation bestowed by people I respect so much is an overwhelming gift. In these times when the industry is in such flux, it is doubly appreciated that MWA recognizes and endorses the steadfastly ethical relationship between critics and writers.”

Previous Raven winners include Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.

The 2013 Ellery Queen Award will be given to Johnny Temple, founder and editor of Akashic Books. The Ellery Queen award is given to editors or publishers who have distinguished themselves by their generous and wide-ranging support of the genre.

In 2004, Akashic Books launched their Noir Series of short stories about a particular city. Brooklyn Noir was the first to be followed by fifty-five more. Pete Hamill, Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, S. J. Rozan, George Pelecanos, Ken Bruen, and Joyce Carol Oates are among the many contributors. Two stories published in the Series have won the Edgar for Best Short Story, and the Series has been recognized with nominations and awards throughout the mystery and literary world, from the Shamus, Derringer, Macavity, and Anthony Awards to the Pushcart Prize. Under the guidance of Johnny Temple, the Noir Series has become an important presence in the mystery community. Upon hearing the news of his award, Johnny Temple said, “It’s wonderful, and it’s monumental.”

Previous Ellery Queen winners include Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post/Hearst Media News Group, Kate Stine and Brian Skupin, co-publishers of Mystery Scene Magazine, Carolyn Marino, Vice President/Executive Editor, Harper Collins, and Ed Gorman.

The Edgar Awards, or "Edgars," as they are commonly known, are named after MWA's patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses more than 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Nero Award

The Nero Award is presented each year to an author for the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories. It is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City. The "Nero" is considered one of the premier awards granted to authors of crime fiction.

This year, the winner is Dana Stabenow for Though Not Dead (Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Publishing Group). Her award was presented by Jane K. Cleland, chair of the Wolfe Pack's literary awards.

The Black Orchid Novella Award is presented jointly by The Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine to celebrate the Novella format popularized by Rex Stout. This year's winner is Robert Lopresti for "The Red Envelope."

About the Wolfe Pack

The Wolfe Pack, founded in 1977, is a forum to discuss, explore, and enjoy the 72 Nero Wolfe books and novellas written by Rex Stout. The organization promotes fellowship and extends friendship to those who enjoy these great literary works of mystery through a series of events, book discussions, and a journal devoted to the study of the genius detective, Nero Wolfe, and his intrepid assistant, Archie Goodwin. The organization has more than 500 members worldwide.