A masterpiece of crime fiction – police procedural.
Orion Publishing Group
The Murder Room
It started with the blind violinist – shot twice through the head at point-blank range in the alley outside his dingy restaurant. But it’s only when the omelette lady gets shot with the same gun in the same way twenty-four hours later that the 87th Precinct really starts to sit up and take notice.
But Steve Carella and the boys at the Precinct always seem to be one step behind the killer, and are unable to prevent the death toll rising. The trouble is, while the gun is the same, none of the victims seem to be related in any way. And why is the killer heard to introduce himself as ‘Chuck’ before pumping two bullets into their bodies?
Six victims. Same gun. No link. The final 87th Precinct novel from the master…
The author Evan Hunter who writes under the pseudonym Ed McBain, (now deceased), began writing the 87th Precinct series before I was born! Ed McBain wrote more than eighty novels including this series and many successful screen plays and some of his novels have been adapted for the big and small screens and theatre. This writer had a huge talent – I regret that I have not read any of his novels before now.
The Fiddlers is a fantastic police procedural, as I was reading I could see the film of this story playing out in my head; I could clearly envisage the characters, the city streets, the police precincts, the cops setting around their desk, coffee in hand discussing the “Glock Killer” case. This narrative remains as relevant today as when it was first written – which is a major feat in itself. The characters are credible, even the killer has some redeeming features and the themes of bullying, abuse of children, abuse of power are topical today.
A great police procedural, an intriguing story and characters you will find believable – this book has much to offer the serious crime fiction reader and I look forward to catching up with the rest of this series.
35 Letters made the Entertainment section of our local paper. The picture is from the night of the festival screening – can you see the pride spilling from my eyes?
Wish us luck at this prestigious festival.
A good example of the hardboiled detective story.
The Big Hit
James Neal Harvey
Open Road Integrated Media
In Harvey’s first new thriller in more than fifteen years, a starlet’s murder draws an NYPD detective into a cross-country manhunt.
Mongo wakes up, brushes his teeth, and prepares to kill a movie star. He needs a wig and a phony press pass, as well as a very special tape recorder that holds two fléchettes, one of which is earmarked for screen siren Catherine Delure. A bit of smooth talk takes Mongo past Delure’s security and into her hotel room, where he completes his assignment with ease. The hit was simple, he thinks. But it is about to go terribly wrong.
Delure appears to have been shot during a robbery, but homicide detective Jeb Barker is not fooled. Tracking the self-assured assassin leads the PI first to Las Vegas, then to California—where blue sky and palm trees cannot distract him from the darkness within the hit man’s heart.
Harvey creates the prefect killing machine in the name of Mongo – he is vile and sexist and deluded about his own greatness and ability to kill and get away with it. Mongo thinks he is invincible. Mongo is the criminal you will love to hate. Jeb Barker is his foil – and this scenario worked very well in this narrative – one evil bad guy, one heroic good looking good guy.
Harvey narrative is fast, action packed and has a satisfying ending – the way all good hardboiled detective stories should be. From the onset we know who the villain is and his plans of reeking more havoc and revenge, Jeb Barker’s job is to track him down, investigate, ask the questions and build the case…and catch him. A thoroughly engaging read.
The Ugly Man (Short Story): A Dani Lancing Story
Random House UK, Ebury Publishing
The summer of 1976.
The whole country baking in a heatwave. And in a sleepy Derbyshire village a man, known locally as the Ugly Man, walks into his local with a claw hammer and in front of everyone brutally murders the young woman behind the bar.
For Patricia Lancing, juggling the demands of being a wife and mother alongside her desire to get recognition as an investigative journalist, this could be the case that makes her career…
If she survives it.
This is the second short story in the Dani Lancing series and it is a very dark and revealing expose of the ugly side of relationships and how fear, superstition and “difference” can prejudice and limit our experiences. I really felt sorry for The Ugly Man shunned since birth, for no fault of his own doing. His story breaks your heart and asks who really the victim here is?
Patricia Lancing fights sexism on all fronts – the sad thing is so much of what she faced in the 70’s hasn’t changed. The sly sexist comments slipped into conversations, the demeaning dirty jokes, the glass ceiling that does exist… Patricia Lancing has to prove herself in the work place over and over again…
The Ugly Man enriches the reading of one of my favourite books, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing and I cannot wait for the new book Summer of Ghosts to be available.
Poetic, lyrical, haunting.
Dancing on Knives
Random House Australia Pty Ltd
A damaged family and their generations of dangerous secrets At twenty, Sara is tormented by terror so profound she hasn’t left her home in five years. Like the mermaid in the fairytale her Spanish grandmother once told her, Sara imagines she is dancing on knives. She feels suffocated by her family, especially her father – the famous artist Augusto Sanchez – whose volcanic passions dominate their lives. Then one stormy night, her father does not come home. His body is found dangling from a cliff face. Astonishingly, he is still alive, but the mystery of his fall can only be solved by the revelation of long-held family secrets. At once a suspenseful murder mystery and a lyrical love story, Dancing on Knives is about how family can constrict and liberate us, how art can be both joyous and destructive, and how strength can be found in the unlikeliest places.
This is my first foray into the writing of acclaimed author Kate Forsyth and I am pleased that I had no expectations other than this being an interesting read. I was intrigued by the introduction, the gruesome retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid where the mermaid agrees to have her tongue cut out in exchange for a human form so she can court the prince she loves and though she will have legs in place of a tail she will forever feel like she is dancing on knives; what a gruesome yet intriguing story and one that perfectly describes the terrors that afflict and restrict the life of the protagonist, Sara.
I really enjoyed the lush description of food, family and art; the good times, juxtaposed against the anxiety that Sara feels under the rule of her domineering and selfish father, Augusto – his bad times suffocate the entire family in a lead shroud. There are characters aplenty for all to love or hate, characters that are largely sympathetic with the male centric times when this piece was originally written (by the then sixteen year old Kate). Kate Forsyth certainly knows how to set scenes and to create memorable characters.
However whilst I enjoyed many aspects of the writing per se I felt that the conclusion was a little rushed and simplistic and echoed of the old fashioned romances I read as a teenager (and they were dated then), the descriptions of Sara’s first sexual experience – a story of blood and semen that discloses to her partner her previous virginal state ….so melodramatic and 60’s, our protagonist “rescued” by her sexual awakening …..was just a little over the top for me and spoilt what had been an interesting story but perhaps this ending is more a reflection of the sensibilities surrounding the time of Kate’s childhood? An interesting read.
A delicious twist in the tail and you won’t see this coming.
The Good Girl
“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”
Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.
Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….
First look at the book trailer – it is amazing – I love the way that in under 2 minutes the tone and tension have been set. It is an incredible feat to capture so much with so little – the pulsing/flickering light and music really add to this atmosphere – brilliant.
An amazing debut novel – the scene is set and tone is threatening, the characters are well drawn with some you will love and some you will despise. This is a novel where nothing you think is true actually is…so many twists and turns and so much sadness. I liked the character of Gabe Hoffman – his terrier like instinct to keep on, to not stop looking, and to check out all leads. And he was compassionate and patient. I felt very sorry for Eve – Mia’s mother and the invisible cage she was in. This indeed is a story about cages, two women trapped, chains are not always visible. Indeed you could go as far as say that Colin was also trapped/limited by his circumstances too.
This book raises so many issues – subtly, is doesn’t hit you over the head with them, but gently prods as your conscience and makes you consider the what if, what would I have done, how would I have reacted? And then it bowls you over with the totally surprising ending. Well done Mary Kubica! If this is your debut novel what gems to you planned for us in the future?
Grand Marais, Minnesota – Authors blog – http://www.marykubica.com/blog/