<i>The Red Storm</i>: New Excerpt The Red Storm: New Excerpt Grant Bywaters The debut novel by a former private investigator. <i>Riot Most Uncouth</i>: New Excerpt Riot Most Uncouth: New Excerpt Daniel Friedman The first in a new series featuring Lord Byron. <i>Crooked Brooklyn</i>: New Excerpt Crooked Brooklyn: New Excerpt Michael Vecchione and Jerry Schmetterer Clean up, aisle Brooklyn. <i>Harbour Street</i>: New Excerpt Harbour Street: New Excerpt Ann Cleeves Can you tell me how to get to, how to get to Harbour Street?
From The Blog
November 24, 2015
The ZINNG: "You Like Me! You Really Like Me!"
Crime HQ
November 23, 2015
Set Sail with Steve Berry!
Crime HQ
November 20, 2015
“You’ve Come a Relatively Middling Distance, Baby”: Signs of Shift in Female Fictional Detectives
Janice MacDonald
November 18, 2015
The ZINNG: The 10 Commandments for Crime Fiction
Crime HQ
November 4, 2015
Christopher Golden and Josh Boone Talk The Stand and The Fault in Our Stars
Christopher Golden
Showing posts by: Jenny Maloney click to see Jenny Maloney's profile
Jul 6 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens is a thriller about a group of sisters who barely escape their murderous father, only to run right into even more danger (available July 7, 2015).

Years ago, Jess and her two older sisters, Dani and Courtney, were doing what they could to make ends meet at the Canadian ranch where they lived. Their struggle was compounded by their alcoholic father, who became more and more violent and unreliable after their mother’s death. When he comes home one night, raging at Courtney’s relationship with a married man, the situation goes from bad to dangerous. He attacks Courtney, drowning her in a toilet. To protect her sister, Jess is forced to shoot her father.

Then the girls have to run. They manage to make it to the next town before the truck breaks down. However, their hoped-for salvation becomes a nightmare of the first order when the girls are attacked. And they’re alone. The cops will arrest them for the murder of their father, their mother is dead, and there are no friends in this isolated town. There’s no one and nothing to turn to  – except for each other.

Now, years later, the decisions they made as teenagers and the consequences of this dark period are coming back to haunt them.

[Will they persevere?]

Jun 14 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby

The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby is a psychological thriller featuring Detective Inspector Zoe Dolan, who's hunting a serial rapist and murderer (available June 15, 2015).

Detective Inspector Zoe Dolan grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. She’s seen some dark things, and has done a few dark things herself. But, as the lead detective on a series of rapes, she’s never faced anything quite like this. There is no set pattern. No indication of how the rapist manages to get into his victims’ houses. To make matters worse, the violence is escalating. It’s only a matter of time before one of the victims is killed. DI Dolan has no leads.

Until Jane. Jane Webster is a volunteer at a confidential hotline – her job is to listen as people tell her their darkest secrets. One night she receives a caller who needs to unburden himself. As he talks, Jane remembers the news stories about a rapist, and the details this man reveals are eerily similar. She decides to go against her work’s directive and goes to the police. Soon, both Jane and DI Dolan are swept into a cat-and-mouse game with a very creepy killer.

[Both sides can't come out winners...]

May 15 2015 9:45am

Fresh Meat: Vanishing by Gerard Woodward

Vanishing by Gerard Woodward is a historical mystery set in the years leading up to WWII where an artist is found painting a landscape of a new airport, and his motives are questioned (available May 15, 2015).

Near the end of WWII, British Lieutenant Kenneth Brill is arrested. His crime? Painting the landscape around Heathrow Village, where he grew up. The official story is that the village is going to be plowed under and a military airfield will be put in its place. Brill insists he is only painting the village for posterity, to protect the memory of his childhood home before it disappears forever. The trial goes forward anyway and Brill is forced to tell his story – but is he everything he claims to be?

On paper, Brill is a camouflage officer, one of a few men designated to hide Allied troop movement from the enemy. As such, he was a hero of the battle at El Alamein, Egypt. He studied art at Slade. He is married with a son. These things are documented. But as Brill tells his life story to Davies, his trial lawyer, a much more complex picture emerges. A picture of a world as transient as Brill himself. Stories of expulsions, violent encounters, homosexuality, and relationships with fascists are told.  

[Life, like art, is layered with deeper meaning...]

Apr 22 2015 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Anne of the Fens by Gretchen Gibbs

Anne of the Fens by Gretchen Gibbs is a historical young adult novel about a fifteen year old girl whose budding curiosity crosses paths with a young man her father is hiding from authorities (available April 30, 2015).

Anne Dudley is a fifteen year old who has very little experience when it comes to trouble – that’s more her sister Sarah’s issue. Raised as a Puritan, Anne knows it is wicked to lie, cheat, steal, and lust after men. Still, she is caught in a world that is anything but Godly and pure. Her religion prohibits the reading of certain books, like William Shakespeare. And, on the other side of things, King Charles I is demanding taxes and limiting her family’s freedom because of their religion.

When Anne discovers her father is hiding a Puritan fugitive from the King’s justice, she finds herself learning how to lie. She sneaks the man, John Holland, food. During their midnight meetings, she discovers that perhaps she feels more than just duty towards him. However, as she gets to know John and becomes better at telling lies, she starts to wonder if she isn’t being lied to.

Anne of the Fens is based on the historical life of a girl who would grow up to become America’s premiere female poet Anne Bradstreet, who is an ancestor of author Gretchen Gibbs – and the passion for her predecessor in life and letters is clear in Gibbs’ novel. It’s a story set against the dark, threatening landscape of pre-English Civil War, when men and women were hanged or burned alive for their religious beliefs.

[Harsh doesn't even scratch the surface...]

Feb 16 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Killing at the Creek by Nancy Allen

A Killing at the Creek by Nancy Allen is a legal thriller set in Oklahoma following prosecutor Elsie Arnold, who's convinced herself that the violent boy discovered at a murder scene is indeed guilty of the crime (available February 17, 2015).

McCown County prosecutor Elsie Arnold just wants a murder case. Not that she really wants anyone to get hurt, but there’s a gap in her experience she wants to fill. She gets more than she bargains for when a woman is found dumped in a local creek. Assigned to the case as third chair, Elsie heads to the scene. The victim has been in the water for a while and the dump scene looks nothing like the movies.

However, the scene at the creek isn’t the scene of the crime. The victim was a driver taking a school bus from Detroit, Michigan, to northern Arkansas. The bus turns up in Oklahoma.

The cook bristled and grabbed the young man by the arm, but he ripped his arm away and turned with such ferocity that the cook backed off. Stepping backwards, raising the palms of both hands, the fry cook said, “No problem, dude. Forget about it.”

The young man jumped behind the wheel of the bus and threw it into reverse; before he drove off, he rolled down the driver's window and thrust his arm out, extending the middle finger of his left hand.

“Eat shit!” the cook yelled in response.

The young driver's arm disappeared inside the bus. He grappled under the seat, then brandished a blood-stained item in his hand for the cook to see.

It was a bloody knife.

When the Oklahoma authorities investigate, they find an additional surprise: someone is alive in the bus. A fifteen year-old kid. Now the question has to be answered: is the boy another victim or the killer?

[Trouble ahead, trouble behind…]

Feb 2 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Bet Your Life by Jane Casey

Bet Your Life by Jane Casey is the second in the YA mystery series featuring Jess Tennant, a teen living on the English seaside whose life offers more complications than murder (available February 3, 2015).

Jess Tennant is adjusting to life in Port Sentinel after leaving London. In the past few months, she’s gone through crazy upheavals: her parent’s divorce, moving in with her aunt and uncle, breaking up with her boyfriend, and—no small thing—discovering her cousin’s murderer. She is understandably off-center about a lot of things, but she’s beginning to carve out a niche for herself.

That niche includes being in the wrong place at the wrong time and asking too many questions.

When Seb Dawson, a handsome, popular boy is beaten into a coma and left for dead, Jess is there moments after the attack. She tries to distance herself from the case. Her cousin’s death and the crazed aftermath are still too fresh for her to feel comfortable investigating. But when Beth, Seb’s little sister, asks her to dig into the assault Jess can’t say no. Very quickly, she discovers Seb is not all he claimed to be and that he’s been hiding some very dark secrets.

Bet Your Life is the second in Jane Casey’s YA series centering on Jess Tennant. As Jess navigates the ins-and-outs of the popular crowd in Port Sentinel, it’s pretty easy to get pulled into this small-town English world where the houses are named, the students home from boarding school cause all kinds of trouble, and Jess tries to hunt down a bad guy who has a lot to lose.

[The lovely seaside can present dangerous undertow...]

Oct 7 2014 8:30am

Fresh Meat: The Murder Man by Tony Parsons

The Murder Man by Tony ParsonsThe Murder Man by Tony Parsons is a debut thriller, introducing newly-minted homicide detective Max Wolfe, whose first case will involve murdered members of London society, all connected to an exclusive boarding school (available October 7, 2014).

After a heroic turn on the street, Max Wolfe is promoted to Detective in the Homicide division of London’s West End and he’s just pulled his first case: the brutal slaying business man Hugo Buck.

Shortly after, a homeless man is killed in the exact manner of Buck—both victims found with their throats practically ripped out. There seems to be no connection between the murders except for money. Both men were born with it.

As news of the killings spread, Bob the Butcher, an anonymous Internet personality, claims that he is responsible for the murders. Quoting Robert Oppenheimer and claiming to be the “destroyer of worlds,” the Butcher manages to insert himself squarely into the case. The only problem is, Wolfe doesn’t think Bob the Butcher is the killer. While Wolfe hunts for evidence and tries to protect the next targets, he becomes a target himself.

The Murder Man is journalist and author Tony Parsons’ debut crime thriller featuring Detective Max Wolfe. In this fast paced, well-researched introduction to Wolfe, Parsons creates a lot of twists and turns. And a pretty gruesome death toll. 

[Let's tally it up, shall we?]

Sep 30 2014 12:15pm

Fresh Meat: The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan

The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan is a novel set against the landscape of Montana, involving the relationship between a weathered, old serial killer awaiting trial and the troubled young deputy guarding him overnight (available September 30, 2014).

Copper County, Montana: Sheriff’s Deputy Valentine Millimacki is a man with a talent for finding people. With his dog, Tom, he tracks people who have lost themselves in the Montana wilderness. He understands how people think, how they react. Unfortunately, none of the people he’s found in the last few months have survived the harsh conditions that Millimacki seems born into.

John Gload also understands people. In the past fifty years, Gload has killed and disposed of dozens, perhaps hundreds of people. He’s a hunter. Then one mistake, one lapse of judgment, costs him his freedom and lands him in a Copper County jail cell.

When Millimacki, the low man in the sheriff’s department, pulls the graveyard shift at the jail, he’s tugged into the insomniacal Gload’s center of gravity. As sleep becomes more and more rare between hunting for the missing and his overnight shifts, Millimacki’s marriage begins to collapse. And his odd connection with the most notorious killer in Montana’s history grows stronger.

[Stronger and Stranger...]

Sep 26 2014 10:45am

Fresh Meat: Bad Bones by Linda Ladd

Bad Bones by Linda Ladd is the sixth Missouri-based mystery featuring homicide detective Claire Morgan where a frozen and broken corpse is found in a state park (available September 29, 2014).

A nasty ice storm covers Missouri, and Canton County Homicide Detective Claire Morgan and her partner are stuck directing the slip-and-slide traffic when they get called in to investigate a questionable death. A man has been found at the base of a cliff in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. When they arrive, they find a frozen, battered corpse. Suicide is quickly ruled out because every bone in the victim’s body is broken.

Paulie Parker, the vicitim, a.k.a. “Parker the Punisher,” was an MMA cage fighter, but no fight has ever resulted in the injuries he’s sustained. As Claire digs deeper into Parker’s past, she finds ties to the Russian mafia, fighters willing and able to kill anything that moves, and a backwoods society that raises young boys, like Paulie, to fight or die.

Bad Bones is the sixth installment in Linda Ladd’s series about Claire Morgan. Unlike previous Claire Morgan novels, this one is told entirely in the third person. (Previous installments have Claire’s point of view in the first person.) While this may seem a small adjustment, it actually serves to make the stakes higher. With this small change, you never know if Claire will be taken out of commission as she hunts down the most brutal killer of her career: a man who was trained to break bones from childhood.

[Well that's frightening...]

Jun 24 2014 9:45am

Fresh Meat: The Last Taxi Ride by A.X. Ahmad

The Last Taxi Ride by A.X. Ahmad is the second mystery featuring part-time taxi driver and part-time security guard Ranjit Singh, who this time finds himself as a lead suspect in a Bollywood starlet's murder (available June 24, 2014).

As a child, Shabana Shah loved nothing more than movies. She often got in trouble for being at the theatre rather than at home. Now, as an adult, she is the new Bollywood sensation. In spite of a couple recent box office flops, she is still easily recognized by taxi driver and part-time security guard Ranjit Singh when she climbs into his cab. Struck as he is by his native country’s star, Ranjit doesn’t notice she’s left an expensive dress in the backseat until he’s off shift.

Always the good guy, Ranjit heads back to her building, the Dakota, to return her dress. Instead of Shah, however, he runs into an old army buddy, Mohan, a security guard for the Dakota. Mohan informs Ranjit that Shah has left for the Hamptons – but would Ranjit like to see Shabana Shah’s apartment anyway? Normally, Ranjit would never consider this an option…but Shabana Shah was lovely in person. Together Ranjit and Mohan explore Shah’s apartment. Mohan says he may even spend the night.  This is too much for Ranjit, who leaves Mohan to his own devices.

He doesn’t expect to hear anything else.

[Uh oh...]

Apr 26 2014 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Black Lies, Red Blood by Kjell Eriksson

Black Lies, Red Blood by Kjell Eriksson is the fifth Swedish procedural featuring Detective Ann Lindell, whose romantic life comes crashing down after her lover becomes a suspect in a homeless man's murder (available April 29, 2014).

When Detective Ann Lindell meets Anders Brant, she thinks there’s a chance for a passionate personal life. In a whirlwind few weeks, she’s started to fall for the mysterious reporter.  However, when Anders’ phone number turns up in a murdered man’s pocket, Lindell discovers she doesn’t know enough about Anders.

There are plenty of reasonable explanations for a reporter’s phone number to be with the dead man, Bosse Gransberg: Anders could know Bosse personally. Bosse could have been a lead for one of Anders’ articles. Unfortunately for Lindell, any opportunity to clear Anders’ name is ruined.

Because Anders has disappeared.

Black Lies, Red Blood is the fifth installment in Kjell Eriksson’s Ann Lindell mystery series. While Ann Lindell is the titular character, Eriksson gives her colleagues and new characters plenty of space in the investigation. Uncomfortable recusing herself entirely from the Gransberg case, Lindell chooses to allow her team to lead the investigation—and possibly find and arrest her new lover—while she works point on a missing person case.

[Talk about a complicated relationship...]

Apr 1 2014 10:30am

Fresh Meat: The Seventh Child by Erik Valeur

The Seventh Child by Erik ValeurThe Seventh Child by Erik Valeur, translated from Danish by K.E. Semmel, involves a journalist provoked to identify missing orphans who may be abandoned children of the elite, connected to an unsolved murder on September 11th (available April 1, 2014).

On the early morning of September 11, 2001, a woman is found dead on a beach in Denmark. The police immediately begin investigating the strange circumstances surrounding her death. Strange items are left around her body—the branch of a linden tree, an old science fiction book, a piece of rope, and a golden canary. Just a few hours later, however, the death of one woman suddenly loses attention as two planes crash into the Twin Towers. The case goes cold.

Years later, blue envelopes addressed to certain individuals arrive containing photos of a mysterious building and seven small children. Also in the envelope are baby booties. One of the recipients is a reporter named Knud Taasing, who noses around and discovers the mysterious building is the Kongslund Orphanage—a place where unwanted children of the rich and famous are left behind. As Taasing and the other blue envelope recipients are confronted with Kongslund’s secrets, connections between the higher levels of Denmark’s government, history, and a woman’s mysterious death are made.

First published in Denmark, Eric Valeur’s The Seventh Child is now available in English. It’s an epic story, covering the lives multiple characters, stretches of Danish history, and cover-ups. Like many strange mysteries before it, The Seventh Child focuses on an orphanage, the legendary Konglund Orphanage. Who was left there? And why?

[They were left behind, but not erased...]

Mar 17 2014 7:00pm

Fresh Meat: Roosevelt’s Beast by Louis Bayard

Roosevelt's Beast, a novel by Louis BayardRoosevelt's Beast by Louis Bayard is a historical reimagining of a torturous 1914 scientific expedition to the Amazon, in which Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit are kidnapped by an unknown tribe who demand they hunt a mysterious and horrible beast (available March 18, 2014).

One hundred years ago, in 1914, Theodore Roosevelt and his son, Kermit, embarked on an exploration of the Rio da Dúvida – the River of Doubt. Already separated from family, infected with disease, and lost in a land with no maps, the two men are ripped violently away from their company by an unfamiliar Amazonian tribe— the Cinta Larga.

Trapped, with only twelve cartridges between them, Kermit and his father must hunt down a mythical beast or they may never return to civilization again. Joined by two of the Cinta Larga tribe, Luz and Thiago, they venture into the jungle. Too soon, they realize the beast may be the least of their worries—if it exists at all.

In Roosevelt’s Beast, historical mystery master Louis Bayard, weaves a classical tale of psychological horror. Is the monster real? Is it only in Kermit’s head? Bayard’s story may seem somewhat familiar to those who have read Candice Millard’s River of Doubt, an incredibly researched non-fiction book, which presents the historical details of this particular adventure. But Bayard has left the known edges of the map, and created a strange, fantastic tale of survival, family, and monsters.

[Abandon ye all hope?]

Mar 4 2014 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Brooklyn Graves by Triss Stein

Brooklyn Graves by Triss SteinBrooklyn Graves by Triss Stein is the second traditional mystery featuring historian Erica Donato, who'll research Tiffany glass as well as the murder of a family friend (available March 4th, 2014).

Erica Donato is a single mother of a teenage daughter and an overworked, underpaid, dissertation-writing apprentice historian. In the space of one twenty-four hour period, all of the balls she has been juggling drop around her. At work, she is assigned a historical research project involving the Tiffany family—yes, that Tiffany. Between exploring dilapidated mausoleums containing Tiffany artwork in Green-Wood Cemetery and digging through turn of the century letters, Erica must complete all of her other academic work.

Then Erica’s daughter, Chris, drops a bombshell. A good friend of the family, Dima, who worked as a custodian at Chris’ school, has been killed. He was shot through the head and found lying on his front lawn. In the days after the news breaks, Erica tries to help her friend, Natalya, Dima’s wife, navigate the waters of police interviews and grief. However, as she works to help Natalya, Erica discovers there’s more to this family than meets the eye.

And history doesn’t always stay in the past.

Brooklyn Graves is the second novel in the Erica Donato series. Here history meets modern Brooklyn. With her contacts and background in New York history, Erica is where the past and present meet. She sees connections and links where others don’t.

Neat, historical touches are woven throughout the story. Erica’s first brush with Tiffany artwork takes place, macabrely enough, in a cemetery: Green-Wood Cemetery. There are mausoleums with stained glass windows attributed to Tiffany’s work. Erica visits the cemetery with the preeminent Tiffany expert, Dr. Thomas Flint. Together they learn there may have been damage to the windows, a circumstance that greatly bothers Dr. Flint and causes Erica a mountain of follow-up work.

[The broken-windows theory of solving murders?]

Feb 20 2014 8:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene is a literary novel of suspense, exploring the tragedy and mysteries of a man, the headmaster of a New England prep school, whose life is spinning out of control (available Februray 25, 2014).

Arthur Winthrop is naked in the middle of Central Park when he is taken into custody. When the police question him, they discover Arthur is the headmaster of the elite Lancaster School, a private school in Vermont, and the story behind his sudden nude appearance is far more complex than the cops could possibly anticipate.

Arthur begins by describing his relationship with Betsy Pappas, one of his students. In his timeline of events, he seduces her first during a trip in Boston, then repeatedly. He claims she loves him in return, despite the fact that she is underage, has rejected him, and has begun a relationship with another student. Arthur knows something awful has happened to Betsy… and now he wants to confess.

But the key to what happened to the young student may just lie with Arthur’s wife.

[She knows grief and betrayal... ]

Jan 4 2014 6:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher is a novel for teens about a high-schooler with a PTSD-suffering father, a veteran accused of killing another teenager who was in the woods to meet her boyfriend for a drugged and drunken night's entertainment (available January 7, 2014).

Ever since her father returned from combat, Emily Shepherd and her mother have struggled with his flashbacks. A roar of thunder can send him back to the battlefield—making anyone in his path an enemy combatant. The stress is almost too much for him and his family. Most days he hides in his bunker, hidden in the Darkwoods, the forest behind their home.

One stormy night, Emily’s father disappears into the woods. When he returns, he carries a dead teenage girl in his arms and has no memory of what happened. Even after her dad is arrested and charged with the murder of Ashlee Parker, Emily doesn’t believe he is guilty. Her father is many things, but a murderer isn’t one of them.

As Emily digs deeper into the truth of that night, she finds herself dealing more and more with Damon Hilary, Ashlee’s boyfriend. And there is far more to Damon and Ashlee’s relationship than first appears. He was in the woods that night. He was drunk and doped up. He doesn’t remember anything clearly. All he knows for sure: he and Ashlee were playing a Game.

[Is it only fun when the blood flows...?]

Nov 26 2013 9:00am

Fresh Meat: The Missing Dough by Chris Cavender

The Missing Dough, A Pizza Lovers Mystery by Chris CavenderThe Missing Dough by Chris Cavender is the sixth installment of the Pizza Lovers Mystery series featuring Eleanor Swift, who faces the skewering of a former brother-in-law during the Founders Day Festival (available November 26, 2013).

Eleanor Swift is expecting a normal day at her pizzeria, A Slice of Delight. She goes in, makes dough, preps her station, and hangs out with her sister, Maddy. Ten minutes after opening, however, her ex-brother-in-law come barging in the door to harass Maddy, begging her to give him a second chance.

Seeing as how Grant was a cheating, stealing, drinking thug, and seeing as how she’s already seeing another guy, Maddy resists his current crazy charms. Eleanor and Maddy escort Grant out of the pizzeria with the business end of a baseball bat. However, that’s not the last the ladies see of Grant that day. Later, Eleanor and Maddy are enjoying the Founders Day Festival with their significant others when Grant comes at them again. Bob, Maddy’s new man, goes after Grant, but is held back by his friends.

So, later that night, it’s not a crazy supposition for Police Chief Hurley to suspect Bob when Grant is murdered—killed by a barbecue skewer to the heart.

[For most ex-brothers-in-law, that fate remains fantasy only.]

Nov 3 2013 9:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Isle of Youth: Stories by Laura van den Berg

The Isle of Youth: Stories by Laura van den BergThe Isle of Youth: Stories by Laura van den Berg is a short fiction collection exploring the diverse lives of women with deep secrets (available November 5, 2013).

There are seven stories comprising Laura van den Berg’s new collection, Isle of Youth, and each is more fearsome than the last. Broken, struggling relationships between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and parents and children form the backbone of each of these stories. Van den Berg creates immediacy in these relationships by setting her characters in untenable, violent situations. And every story is told in such beautiful language, you don’t quite realize your heart is breaking until it’s done.

The first story of Isle of Youth is of a young newlywed couple on their way to Patagonia. “I Looked for You, I Called Your Name” opens with a plane crash, and their reactions to this emergency reveal all is not right with the couple. The husband breaks the wife’s nose—by accident. The narrator questions her decision to marry her husband in the first place. She feels empty, desperate to fill herself with anything, to feel anything. 

I opened my mouth and started packing it with fistfuls of damp sand. The grains scratched the roof of my mouth and got wedged between my teeth. Grit ran down the back of my throat. My cheeks ballooned; sand stuck to my gums. It became difficult to breathe. I imagined my body filling up like an hourglass; I imagined my husband or the hotel manager or Christina Humbolt finding me on this rock the next morning, weighted down like a carnival dummy. I kept going until I could barely breathe, until I couldn’t close my mouth, until I was leaking sand. And then I coughed it all out, my shoulders heaving as wet clumps fell to the ground.

[Relationships occupy rocky territory...]

Oct 21 2013 9:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Creeps by John Connolly

The Creeps by John ConnollyThe Creeps by John Connolly continues the adventures of Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Boswell as he faces down demons, ghosts, bad dates, and various baddies of the multiverse in order to protect the residents of Biddlecombe (available October 22, 2013).

The small English town of Biddlecombe is used to strange things happening. After all, the gates of hell once opened up in one its basements. (Sometimes events like this can’t be helped.) However, when a new toy shop opens its doors, the worst days for Biddlecombe are still to come. And it’s up to Biddlecombe’s darkness-defeating-young-citizen, Samuel Johnson, his trust dachshund Boswell, and his demon pal Nurd to save the day.

While Samuel is hosting a birthday party for Wormwood—Nurd’s demon servant and sidekick—in which fires are started and cake is consumed, dark forces are amassing around Biddlecombe. It begins subtly enough. At first, it’s just a ghost (nothing new there) with an odd black vapour (something new here) hanging around her. Then, there’s the statue of architect Hilary Mould which will not stay put. And out in the multiverse, the gelatinous creature Crudford, Esq., is gathering the atomically-smashed pieces of the evil Mrs. Abernathy, presumably to put her back together. None of this is good news.

[Happy Birthday... to Hellspawn!]

Oct 15 2013 8:30am

Fresh Meat: Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley

Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F. T. BradleyDouble Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley is the second book in the Double Vision kid espionage mystery series (available October 15, 2013).

Lincoln Baker is just trying to live life. He’s hanging out with his best friends, avoiding studying for his history test, and generally minding his own business when his life is interrupted—again—by the secret government agency Pandora. A threat has been made on the president’s life by an agent named Dagger, so Pandora needs Linc to step in to guard the first daughter as the double for Linc's lookalike (and sworn nemesis), Junior Agent Ben Green.

Despite his protests, Linc is hauled off to Washington D.C. in the guise of a participant in the Junior President’s Club. Once he arrives, he gets the tour of the White House, meets the president, and is given his mission. The Pandora agents must find two things: the would-be assassin and a coat with very special properties that was once worn by George Washington. The coat is rumored to make the wearer invincible, which means it would be a bad item to fall in the wrong hands. Linc and Ben, joined by the industrious gadget-maker Henry and the sassy first daughter Amy, must avoid other secret agents, figure out a string of historical mysteries, and infiltrate a spy ring that has been in operation since the Revolutionary War. And they have to not get dead in the process.

Double Vision: Code Name 711 is the follow-up to F.T. Bradley’s Double Vision and the second book to feature Lincoln Baker and Benjamin Green. The series has been touted as perfect for fans of the Da Vinci Code, the Alex Rider series, and the 39 Clues series—and it certainly has puzzles and action a-plenty. In the first novel, Linc tore around Paris, and this time Washington D.C. gets its due.

[Globe-trotting and kid-spying...]