FM: <i>Don't Ever Look Back</i> by Daniel Friedman FM: Don't Ever Look Back by Daniel Friedman Katherine Tomlinson 88-year-old retired cop has struggles: eating, remembering, revenge... Now Win <i>This</i>!: Dread Half-Dozen Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Dread Half-Dozen Sweepstakes Crime HQ Six freshly-hatched crime titles! Enter for your chance to win! FM: <i>From the Charred Remains</i> by Susanna Calkins FM: From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins Angie Barry London's Great Fire destroyed the city, but it uncovered a murder. Fresh Meat: <i>The Furies</i> by Mark Alpert Fresh Meat: The Furies by Mark Alpert Leigh Neely Are tales of witchcraft and sorcery just the byproduct of a genetic mutation?
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April 23, 2014
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April 21, 2014
Dog Houses from the Big House
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April 20, 2014
Is the Book Always Better: The Thin Man
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April 19, 2014
Vladimir Nabokov's Hidden Noir: Despair
Edward A. Grainger
Showing posts by: Doreen Sheridan click to see Doreen Sheridan's profile
Mar 15 2014 12:00pm

Kilmoon by Lisa Alber follows a Californian who ventures back to Ireland to meet her father, but her arrival coincides with a string of violent murders, making her both a suspect and a victim (available March 18, 2014).

The small town of Lisfenora, Ireland, cheats poverty by virtue of its annual matchmaking festival, featuring the enigmatic man known as Liam the Lion. The festival has seen the town through the years where the rest of the nation’s economy went bust, and so Liam’s skills have made him an object of hero-worship to the locals and to those whose lives have been bettered for his choices, as well as an object of curiosity for everyone else.

One of the latter, in 1975, is a fledgling American journalist named Julia Chase, who gets too close to her subject before fleeing back to California and giving birth to a child she raises with a husband, Andrew, who becomes increasingly embittered as the years progress. Nearly thirty years later, Julia’s daughter arrives in Lisfenora to unravel the mystery of her parentage, which Lisa Alber explores with a sensitivity not often seen in your average crime novel:

Merrit’s life, her mom’s life – how different they would have been if Liam had fought for her mom. But he hadn’t, and Merrit had to know why. Since childhood, she’d yearned to fill the void where the unsaid and the murky festered beneath her mom’s smile. Merrit couldn’t recall when she’d realized that her mom was a woman who hid her unhappiness well most of the time. Nor could Merrit recapture the moment she first noticed that Andrew treated her like a houseguest who’d overstayed her welcome, only that it hadn’t mattered until after her mom’s death. All she knew was that the answers lingered along Lisfenora’s cobbled lanes, along which Liam had walked arm-in-arm with her mom.

[The Emerald Isle is about to run red...]

Mar 8 2014 12:59pm

Bad Machinery: The Case Of The Good Boy by John Allison is the second volume in the web comic series about the middle grade sleuths of Griswald's Grammar School in Tackleford, England (available March 12, 2014).

I have a huge weakness for John Allison’s Bad Machinery series. While I love most of his work, there’s something about his tales of two rival teams of young adolescent sleuths that makes them very dear to my heart. The girls’ team consists of the responsible, if poor, Shauna; her best friend, the irrepressible Lottie, and Mildred, the rebellious product of an extremely left-wing upbringing. On the boys’ team, you have quiet, handsome Jack; sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued policeman’s son, Linton, and sensible, resourceful Sonny, who is also Mildred’s cousin. Jack and Shauna are sort of dating, but careful to keep it quiet, partly in case anyone on their teams should take umbrage, and partly to avoid teasing from their wider social circles. Goodness knows, Sonny gets enough teasing just as a result of being related to Mildred:

Linton: Are you coming down to the park tonight?

Sonny: No, I'm busy.

Linton: Is it Naturecraft Folk? Leaf touching? A big night of leaf touching.

Sonny: We don't touch leaves.

Linton: NOT EVER?

Sonny: My cousin is coming round. I have to be in.

Linton: A play date! A play date with MILDRED! A tea party with hair brushing and teddies and pony stories!

Sonny (deadpan): Sometimes the pony stories are so good that we don't even get round to the hair brushing.

Jack: Are we going to solve a mystery soon? Other than the mystery of why Linton isn't going to have any friends soon. Because that's not really a mystery.

[Let's go to the carnival...]

Mar 1 2014 2:00pm

Zero Volume 1: An Emergency by Ales Kot and illustrated by various artists is a collection of five comics that follow Edward Zero, the top spy for The Agency who learns he's been working for the wrong side (available March 4, 2014). 

When I think of spy thrillers, the first thing that comes to mind is James Bond. Lots of slam-bang action, a good helping of espionage and double-crosses, secretive organizations at cross-purposes seeking to outwit one another through the maneuvering of their agents – all these were popularized by the books and subsequent movies and have become hallmarks of the genre. The first volume of the comic book series Zero has all these elements in spades, but also brings to the forefront another aspect of classic spy novels that is often overlooked, despite being of critical importance to the driving plot: technology so advanced that it reads like science fiction. Think of Q before his gadgets were rendered “realistic” in the last few Bond movies, or of the evil plans in Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever.

[The name's Zero, Edward Zero...]

Feb 21 2014 12:00pm

Hammer of Angels is a the second novel in the Shadowstorm series by G.T. Almasi that takes place in an alternative realty where Germany won WWII and super-spies fight a secret Cold War (available February 25, 2014).

Alix “Scarlet” Nicois back in this slam-bang sequel to the thrilling alternate history Blades of Winter. She’s more determined than ever to discover what really happened to her super-spy father and whose footsteps she’s followed by joining Extreme Operations (ExOps) as a physically augmented secret agent, or Level, as they’re known. The fallout from the events of the first book has America’s sole superpower ally, Greater Germany, threatening to leave their alliance for the friendlier embrace of either Russia or China. In an act of supreme realpolitik, ExOps decides that the best way to head this off is to remind Germany why it needs America – by secretly fomenting a slave rebellion in Greater Germany that only the Americans will be able to help them recover from.

[A Cold War-era slave rebellion? You know you want to read more...]

Feb 11 2014 4:15pm

Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London is a graphic novel written by Sylvain Cordurie and illustrated by Laci about The Great Detective's post-Reichenbach return to London to face a plague of vampires (available February 18, 2014).

With the recent federal ruling determining that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes oeuvre (barring details only available in the last 10 stories) is in the public domain in the United States, diehard fans here can expect an explosion in the number of homages and pastiches in honor of the great detective. One such is this graphic novel by Sylvain Cordurie and Laci, translated from the original French. Mr Cordurie has taken two Victorian favorites, Sherlock Holmes and vampires, and not unsuccessfully synthesized them into a coherent, entertaining whole. In large part, his ability to pull this off is due to the fact that he keeps everything strictly Victorian, and strictly in line with both what Doyle as well as what his contemporaries in horror might have written on the subject.

Set very shortly after Holmes’ reported demise at the Reichenbach Falls, the main form the narrative takes is of a letter to his long-time companion, Dr John Watson. Apologizing first for the deception of the faked death, he explains that it was undertaken in order to protect Watson from Moriarty’s vengeful underlings (though he does confide in his brother that Watson is a terrible actor who would never be able to pretend that Holmes was still dead if he were to learn otherwise). Holmes plans to take time to travel, but finds himself waylaid in Paris by a pack of vampires who, ironically, insist on returning him to London. They manage this by use of a lovely decoy, Joyce, who quickly becomes his monstrous guardian and confidante:

Holmes: Since we are confiding in each other, there is a point that I should like to bring up with you, if you will allow me. You are intelligent. You cannot ignore the fact that it was only to trap me that they made you a vampire. Don't you feel hate towards those who have stolen your life?

Joyce: My life... if you only knew how bleak it was. By losing it, I gained eternity, a wider perception of the world, more intense sensations…

Holmes: And an unquenchable thirst that forces you to commit barbaric crimes. Doesn't that affect you?

Joyce: I don't feel remorse any longer. And, unlike you, the emptiness of my existence has given way to accomplishment... to a feeling of fullness. Am I, of us two, to be pitied more?

[Holmes will discover more horrors, of course...]

Jan 2 2014 12:00pm

The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan CollinsThe Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins is a hard-boiled thriller about an assassin who hunts down other assassins (available January 7, 2014).

I love a good, formulaic mystery. Doesn’t really matter the sub-genre: be it cozy, police procedural or hard-boiled, as long as all the genre points are hit, I am as satisfied afterwards mentally as I would be physically by a plate piled high with comfort foods.

The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins is one supremely satisfying example of a classic, twisty hard-boiled tale. Set in the 80s, the series follows the exploits of the assassin Quarry, who hunts down other assassins and offers their targets a deal: for a suitable fee, he’ll eliminate the killers hired to hunt them down. For a reasonable amount more, he’ll even go after the people who put out the contract in the first place. Pretty sweet deal for the usually oblivious target, and one not many turn down once they’ve been enlightened of the plot to end their lives.

Quarry’s latest job has him following the passive half of an assassination team to a small town in the midwest, where not even political maneuvering can assuage the grief of a prominent family over the disappearance of the youngest member of their clan, a beautiful teenager as well known for her promiscuity as for her artistic promise. The local dance teacher is the primary suspect for those who believe foul play was involved, but there’s no proof that the teenager didn’t just run away on her own… and now a team of hitmen has seemingly been hired to eradicate the dance teacher in as drawn-out a manner as possible.

[Drawn-out can be good...]

Dec 23 2013 3:30pm

Parker:Slayground, from Richard Stark's novel graphically adapted by Darwyn CookeParker: Slayground by writer and artist Darwyn Cooke continues his award-winning graphic adaptations of the Parker series of hardboiled crime novels by Richard Stark (available December 24, 2013).

I will freely admit that I haven’t read nearly enough of either author involved in this excellent graphic novel adaptation, though I have been a big fan of what I’ve experienced of both. Richard Stark (pseudonym of the late, great Donald E. Westlake) was responsible for the original prose versions chronicling the adventures of master thief Parker, a ruthless, but not entirely immoral anti-hero whose main concern is the big score. Darwyn Cooke is an artist I’ve admired since his work on the amoral anti-heroes of X-Force, extending, of course, to his stint on Catwoman with Ed Brubaker. I can’t think of anyone better suited to adapting Parker for the graphic novel milieu, and I can’t think of a better book in the series for this purpose than Slayground.

Set primarily in an amusement park that’s been closed for the winter, Slayground follows Parker and his sometime partner, Grofield, as they’re leaving the scene of their latest successful heist. Unfortunately for our seasoned pros, their rookie driver rather spectacularly flips over their escape vehicle, knocking out himself and Grofield in the process. Ever the professional, Parker leaves his unconscious accomplices for dead and looks about for a hiding place.

The shuttered grounds of Fun Island, the aforementioned amusement park, seem promising, but as he scales the locked gates of the front entrance, he sees that he’s drawn the attention of a pair of cops who are meeting in the otherwise secluded area with several well-dressed men. Worse still, he soon discovers that Fun Island is a dead end, and that there’s no way out besides what’s certain to be the by now well-guarded entrance he came through:

[Honor among thieves... whose dumb idea was that?!]

Dec 20 2013 2:30pm

The Victories Transhuman by Michael Avon OemingThe Victories, Vol. 2: Transhuman by Michael Avon Oeming is a superhero thriller graphic novel (available December 24, 2013).

Michael Avon Oeming builds on the success of his first solo volume of superhero comics, Touched, with the even better Transhuman. In Volume 2 of the on-going series, Faustus has mostly come to terms with the events of Touched. The Jackal however is still on his mission of terror, targeting the dystopian future’s infrastructure and plunging everyday civilians into chaos and penury, even as the ultra rich and well-connected hide in their enclaves. Everyone, super-powered or otherwise, seeks solace where they can, with some finding comfort in the messages extolled by street preachers.

One unlikely prophet is the former-hero turned recovering drug addict known as The Strike. The worldwide energy shortage has given him the courage to leave the hospital he’s been committed to and start spreading his truth instead:

[You can't handle the truth!]

Nov 23 2013 10:15pm

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files : Ghoul Goblin by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, and Joseph CooperJim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, and Joseph Cooper is a graphic novel based on a new, original story that takes place within the Dresden Files universe (available December 3, 2013).

Fresh on the heels of the events of Fool Moon (Dresden Files, Book 2), our hero, wizard Harry Dresden, finds himself underwater, battling a powerful creature he’s never seen before. He wounds the monster, saving himself from a watery grave, but allowing it to escape in the process. Having caught only a persistent cold for his troubles, he fruitlessly continues his search for the creature over the next few days. Thus, he isn’t entirely unhappy for the distraction when another case shows up on his doorstep with the arrival of Prescott Tremaine, deputy sheriff of the small town of Boone Mill, Missouri. Several odd deaths have hit the town, and Pres, as he prefers to be called, has taken it upon himself to consult with an outsider whose area of expertise could help uncover the true circumstances of these deaths.

Dresden is somewhat reluctant to leave Chicago to investigate, till Pres explains that the family seemingly targeted, the Talbots, lost their parents at a very young age. Staring at the photos Pres brought with him, Dresden reflects:

A family of orphans... Given my own family history, I can't help but sympathize. My mother had died in childbirth, and I lost my father six years later to an aneurysm. I know what it is to be alone and vulnerable, to need to trust someone... and to have that trust betrayed, to have it ripped away like an old sheet covering something rotten and grotesque. I know what it's like to lose everything… and I know what it is to be responsible for loss.

Once in Boone Mill, Dresden is taken aback by the lackadaisical attitude of Sheriff Daggett, who’s ready to write off the deaths as being coincidental. Knowing that no help will be forthcoming from that direction, Pres and Dresden hatch a plan to attend the funeral of the latest victim the next day, under the assumption that the killer will likely be unable to resist attending as well.

[You know what assumptions make of you and me...]

Nov 6 2013 12:00pm

South by Lance CharnesSouth by Lance Charnes is a dystopic thriller set in an alternate future, one in which American policy is driving citizens across the southern border (available November 12, 2013).

It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted so much for a character in a novel to kill a bad guy, or for the good guys to ride off into the sunset at the end. I have to credit Lance Charnes with writing a thriller populated with heroes who are thoroughly believable and sympathetic: even the brutish chauvinist McGinley is motivated by a devastating personal story and, more importantly, a patriotism untainted by avarice.

The main heroes of the book, though, are two unlikely figures: Nora Khaled, an FBI agent looking to defect from the country she’s loyally served for decades, and Luis Ojeda, a former El Norte drug cartel member with experience smuggling paying customers across the U.S.-Mexico border. These customers are not, however, heading north in search of jobs as the majority of border jumpers are today. Instead, they’re heading south in search of freedom, as this novel is set in a harrowingly dystopian future extrapolated from the ugliest parts of North America’s current political climate.

[Go South, My Son!]

Oct 28 2013 9:30am

Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler, a New York mystery featuring Laurel Imperiole and Helen McCorkendaleKeeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler is the second novel in the Laurel and Helen New York Mystery series, in which the reporter and private eye team up to help a young women in fear of her life (available November 1, 2013).

Laurel Imperiole is an investigative journalist working for Women Now magazine, headquartered in New York City. When she receives a disturbing e-mail from a reader, Anne Ellsworth, she feels duty bound to help. Anne is a lonely young woman who suspects that her fiance, David Adams, isn’t all that he seems to be. Laurel senses the opportunity to write an article on how women in relationships can tread the fine line of respecting their partners’ privacy while still protecting themselves in an age of rampant identity theft, contrasting Anne’s situation with her own.

Laurel herself has rebounded hard into a six-month relationship with the very private Matt Kuhn, whom she thinks she’s falling in love with. She believes he’ll serve as a good complement to Anne’s duplicitous fiance. With this in mind, she gives Anne solid advice on how to dissociate herself from David, but finds Matt oddly hostile to her story idea. And when Laurel later sees Matt in the city, despite his claim of being in Italy, she turns to the only person she thinks will understand her fears and, better still, know what to do about them.

This person is the redoubtable private investigator Helen McCorkendale, an older woman who happens to be dating Laurel’s father, Mike. She welcomes Laurel’s concerns as a refreshing break from the insurance investigation her old friend and ex-lover, Joe Santangelo, has asked her to help his company with. The case has led Helen unsettlingly close to the Mafia, so a simple background check seems like something quick and easy to close while she distances herself from the insurance case.

But then Anne disappears, leaving a letter in her abandoned car for Laurel, and the police get involved. This wouldn’t be so bad if the guy in charge of the investigation wasn’t Aaron Gerrard, a cop with whom Laurel had a disastrous break-up immediately before meeting Matt.

[Complications upon complications...]

Oct 8 2013 12:00pm

Pagan Spring by G. M. MallietPagan Spring by G. M. Malliet is the third book in the Max Tudor traditional mystery series (available October 8, 2013).

In the third installment of the Max Tudor series, our namesake hero is starting to get a little weary of bringing murderers to justice. After all, he retired from MI5 and entered the church because he was looking to solve problems of a much less deadly nature, even if those problems are often just as serious to the people involved. Now that he’s solved two murders since his arrival at Nether Monkslip, he’s quite content to focus on tending to his flock, expanding his priestly influence and being in (discreet, or so he believes,) love with Awena Owen, the unconventional owner of the local New Age shop. Nether Monkslip isn’t the kind of town to find joy in violent deaths either, much preferring to focus on occurrences as benignly exciting as the achievements of the local writer’s group, the opening of a trendy new restaurant and the return of a native son who made good on the London stage.

But then, of course, another murderer strikes. The local police inspector, DCI Cotton, trusts Max’s instincts, having worked with him on the previous murders. Others aren’t as enthused by Max’s involvement, or so he fears. When Max is summoned to meet the local bishop soon after news of the latest murder breaks, he braces himself for a dressing down, on either this subject or his relationship with the decidedly un-Anglican Awena. Fortunately for him, the interview goes much better than expected, at least on the murder front:

[Well at least one thing is going well...]

Oct 4 2013 10:00am

Love is the Law by Nick Mamatas is a punk noir mystery featuring 18-year-old “Golden” Dawn, who is out for revenge (available October 8, 2013).

Remember punk rock in the 1970s and 1980s? With strident vocals, driving drumbeats, and guitar work like buzzsaws, punk rock—and the lifestyle that sprang up around it—was all about denying the establishment and saying what the mainstream didn’t want to hear, exemplified by loud songs that resonated with disaffected youth around the world. Punk rock and its most visible adherents deliberately shocked the bourgeoisie by refusing to play along with the zero-sum game of life they were convinced they’d been set up by society to lose.

Love is The Law by Nick Mamatas is a book very much steeped in these traditions, focusing on a turbulent time in the life of 18 year-old Dawn Seliger. With a senile grandmother, a dead mother, and a crack addict father, Dawn finds solace in only three things: punk rock, Trotskyism, and the occult arts taught to her by her only friend, the much older Bernstein. When she finds him dead in his living room, an apparent suicide despite the fact that the gun is in the wrong hand, she sets off on a mission to bring his killer… well, not to justice. Dawn has issues with that word.

[She wouldn't be a good punk girl if she didn't!]

Sep 26 2013 3:15pm

The Seance Society by Michael NethercottThe Séance Society by Michael Nethercott is the traditional mystery debut of reluctant, mid-century private investigator Lee Plunkett and curious widower Mr. O'Nelligan (available October 1, 2013).

It’s 1956, and in the small town of Thelmont, Connecticut, Lee Plunkett carries on his late father’s legacy of detection by running the small private investigator’s agency they once shared. As sole employee, Plunkett is content to deal with cases of missing items and errant spouses, building up funds so he can finally marry Audrey, his fiancee of more than two years. Plunkett is organized and methodical, but leaves most of the intuiting to Mr O’Nelligan, a widowed Irishman who’s taken a keen interest in Plunkett’s life, both professional and personal, and serves as volunteer consultant on both.

After a not entirely successful trip to the Otherworld’s Fair, a sort of World’s Fair focusing on the afterlife, Plunkett and Audrey read of the unfortunate demise of its wealthy founder, Trexler Lloyd, in his nearby Braywick home. Apparently, Lloyd had been unveiling the Spectricator, a new invention to communicate with the dead, at a séance open only to select guests.

[The Spectricator? Seems legit...]

Sep 17 2013 9:30am

Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard by Kim NewmanAnno Dracula: Johnny Alucard (Anno Dracula 1976-1991) by Kim Newman is the fourth in an alt-history fantasy series following Dracula's fictional legacy, now including his son, would-be drug lord Johnny Alucard (available September 17, 2013).

The Anno Dracula series has always been a favorite of mine because of its radical reimagining of world history. What if Dracula had really existed? What if he hadn’t met his end at the hands of Van Helsing and Co.? Kim Newman has explored the impact this would have had on the Victorian, World War II, and mid-century eras in previous books: now he sets his sights on what could arguably be called the Cocaine Era of 1976-1991.

As 1976 dawns, the legendary Count Dracula is dead. One of his get, an undernourished young vampire named Ion Popescu, attaches himself to Francis Ford Coppola’s movie production of Dracula being filmed in Transylvania. A sympathetic Kate Reed, hired as consultant to the filming, befriends Ion and is warmed by his seemingly puppy-like determination to change his name to John and migrate to America. She muses:

Was this how Dracula had been when he first thought of moving to Great Britain, then the liveliest country in the world just as America was now? The Count had practised his English pronunciation in conversations with Jonathan [Harker], and memorised railway timetables, relishing the exotic names of St Pancras, King’s Cross and Euston. Had he rolled his anglicised name—Count DeVille—around his mouth, pleased with himself?

Of course, Dracula saw himself as a conqueror, the rightful ruler of all lands he rode over. Ion-John was more like the Irish and Italian emigrants who poured through Ellis Island at the beginning of the century, certain America was the land of opportunity and that each potato-picker or barber could become a self-made plutocrat.

[As innocent and bright-eyed as a Creature of the Night can be...]

Aug 22 2013 9:30am

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, a graphic novel by Tony CliffDelilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff is a graphic novel about an alternate 19th century, where an adventuress takes a new friend and a flying boat to rob a Sultan (available August 27, 2013).

In the late 19th century, an honest young janissary named Selim serves in the court of a Turkish agha. Being one of the few people at court to have learned the exotic English tongue, he is asked to interrogate a foreign captive who identifies herself as Delilah Dirk, our titular hero. As he briefs the Agha later, she has rather a wild story about how she comes to be there.

The daughter of an English diplomat and a Greek artist, she’s traveled the world learning martial arts, is possessed of seemingly magical powers, and fully intends to escape the prison and steal several valuable scrolls in the Agha’s possession, which she succeeds at just as Selim is finishing his oral report. Infuriated, the Agha orders the execution of both Delilah and Selim, whom he deems her accomplice. Delilah has no intention of letting an innocent man die for her crimes, so spirits Selim away from the executioner’s block. Together, they flee the city on her flying boat.

[More room for loot than a flying carpet...]

Aug 20 2013 10:00am

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny, the ninth in the Inspector Gamache mystery seriesHow the Light Gets In by Louise Penny is the ninth Inspector Gamache mystery, and as Christmas approaches, hostile politics at the Surete du Quebec will bring him back to Three Pines (available August 27, 2013).

The ninth book in the Inspector Armand Gamache series sees the trouble brewing in previous installments come to a thrilling, violent head. Once in charge of the most efficient division of the Surete du Quebec, Chief Inspector Gamache has seen his homicide department gutted, as agents he trained and trusted left his side, not always willingly, to join other departments. Their replacements are mostly agents whose primary concern is self-preservation, with crime-solving a distant second. In this, they take their cues from Chief Superintendent Francoeur, Gamache’s nemesis, who is intent on promoting an environment of self-interest within the Surete, at the expense of the general good.

Gamache is not giving up without a fight, though.

[Retrenches, regroups, reconsiders, but never surrenders...]

Aug 9 2013 9:30am

Let Me Go by Chelsea CainLet Me Go by Chelsea Cain is the sixth book in the psychological suspense series featuring Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell (available August 13, 2013).

Chelsea Cain’s latest thriller is another masterful blend of psychological suspense and straight-up gore, chronicling the twisted bond between police detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell. It’s almost Archie’s birthday, but he’d be more in the mood to celebrate if Gretchen weren’t on the loose again. However, it’s the death of an undercover DEA agent that interrupts his makeshift festivities, and he’s called in to find out who could have uncovered and killed the only link between the DEA and the mole who could help bring down drug kingpin Jack Reynolds’ global criminal empire.

A lavish masquerade party on Jack’s personal island provides Archie with physical entreé to his world, though Jack is partial to the detective anyway: years ago, his beloved daughter was slaughtered in the manner of all Gretchen’s victims, and Jack credits Archie with bringing her murderer to justice. Things get complicated when Archie’s friend/Achilles heel, the plucky reporter Susan Ward, is coerced by Jack’s people into attending as well. It soon becomes clear that the party is merely a cover for illegal intrigue, though not even Jack’s criminal genius can foresee the unexpected reappearance of Gretchen Lowell, much less her spur of the moment decision to involve herself in the suspicious death of another gatecrasher during the party.

[Worst. Party. Ever...]

Jul 22 2013 8:15pm

Capote in Kansas by Ande Parks and Chris SamneeCapote in Kansas by Ande Parks and Chris Samnee is a graphic novel depicting a fictionalized version of author Truman Capote's travels through Middle America researching the murder of the Clutter family for his classic book (new hardcover re-release available July 24, 2013).

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is widely recognized as a seminal work, establishing true crime as a serious genre that has since earned millions of devotees worldwide. Much has been made of the writing of this groundbreaking novel—for while it was based on true events, there were parts in which the book was definitely more fiction than reality—including several successful movies and essays. Capote In Kansas is a graphic novel that continues the exploration of this terrain, taking similar liberties as the original work to provide an overall effect that, while compelling, is still truthful to the spirit of what actually happened.

We begin in New York City, where Capote is at a dinner party with several other members of the city’s intellectual set. His lover, Jack, is huffy at Capote’s flirtatious attitude towards the waiter, and is only the first of the party to be run off by Capote’s wicked tongue. Once alone with his favorite, Babe Paley, Capote confides in her his dilemma: to go to Kansas to research a brutal multiple-homicide for a non-fiction novel, or to take up The New Yorker on an article covering a chambermaid’s point of view. Paley dismisses the article out of hand, encouraging him to work on what they both know he’d rather do.

[Genuine horror beats linen closets everytime...]

Jul 10 2013 10:00am

The Secret History of D.B. Cooper by Brian Churilla is a fantasy interpretation of the real-life unsolved case involving air pirate D.B. Cooper (available July 16, 2013).

This intense and fast-paced graphic novel is based on an infamous case of air piracy, the only unsolved case of its kind in the United States to date. On November 24, 1971, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper (the D.B. came about due to a media misunderstanding) hijacked a Boeing 727 with claims of a bomb. He demanded two non-military issue parachutes and two hundred thousand dollars, which he received before leaping out of the aircraft somewhere over the Pacific Northwest. No one knows whether he landed safely and made his getaway or whether he perished, but numerous theories have circulated since. This novel makes a fine though clearly fantastic attempt at providing an explanation and solving the case.

The Dan Cooper presented here lives a life of the mind. Not of the intellect, but of a strange dream-space called The Glut that is somehow connected to physical reality and accessible primarily through the application of psychotropic drugs. Cooper moves through The Glut as an operative for the CIA, seeing and doing impossible things under the auspices of Project MKUltra, a real-life CIA mind control program started in the 1950s.

[A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind...]