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Brian Greene
Showing posts by: Neliza Drew click to see Neliza Drew's profile
Feb 17 2014 10:15pm

Brotherhood of Fear by Paul Grossman is the third Willi Kraus novel, in which the Berlin detective's been exiled from his homeland by the rise of the Nazis (available February 18, 2014).

Paul Grossman’s third Willi Kraus novel finds its title character without any of his prestige and power, or even his home, but provides no shortage of trouble for the former detective.

It’s 1933 in Paris, and former Inspektor Willi Kraus has fled his home in Berlin to become one of thousands of Jewish refugees in France. Without papers or any hope of one day working as a police officer again, he’s done what refugees are forced to do worldwide and taken odd jobs to make some money, hoping to one day provide for his two boys, currently living with his late wife’s family across town. Of course, if he’d kept the job sewing fake eyes on fox stoles, there wouldn’t be much of a book, and Willi finds an organizer at the refugee center who offers him work as a private investigator—off the books.

A simple job—follow around a young university student for his parents—leads to murder and fraud and the eventual collapse of the French economy. And it turns out, despite flattering Willi with assurances and admiration, several people seem to completely underestimate the sleuth.

[No status, no papers, no respect...]

Feb 1 2014 11:30pm

Mistress of Fortunes by Holly WestMistress of Fortune by Holly West is a debut mystery set in late-seventeenth century London featuring amateur sleuth, sometimes-mistress, and secret fortune teller Lady Isabel Wilde (available February 3, 2014).

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of historical fiction. Years ago, to me, the genre was bloated by excess period details an author couldn’t seem to let go unshared and that left me turned off.

West hasn’t done that. She’s assembled a well-plotted story with enough setting and description to fully engulf the reader without reading like a textbook. In fact, she so well captures the era, you can almost smell the prisoners when she visits the gaol.

I knew from my incarceration at Marshalsea Prison that the gaoler’s wife had nearly as much authority as he did himself so I said, “I’ll speak to her.”...

She led us into the prison through a narrow hallway, and every step brought back memories of a terrible time in my life. The smells, which were bad enough outside, were now unbearable and I nearly retched, both from the stench and from the memories the surroundings prompted. Even worse was the noise; shrieks, shouts, groans, wailing—even barking dogs—seemed to reverberate from every corner. I wanted to cover my ears and run.

Mrs. Richardson stopped in front of a cell at the end of a dark corridor. Perhaps fifteen shackled prisoners, both men and women, crowded the small cell. There was no furniture, not even a bench, and most of the prisoners sat or lay on the floor. I had a sudden vision of myself lying on that hard stone surface, shivering with cold, the skin around my ankles worn raw by the unforgiving rub of the rigid iron manacles. I closed my eyes tight to shut out the memory.

Mistress of Fortune, like Isabel, Lady Wilde herself (who secretly caters to the elite as fortune-teller Mistress Ruby), is both exceedingly polite and terribly brutal.

[The Enlightenment's only casting a bare twinkle...]

Jan 23 2014 1:00pm

Tiger Shrimp Tango by Tim DorseyTiger Shrimp Tango by Tim Dorsey is the 17th book in his off-beat, humorous Serge Storms thriller series (available January 28, 2014).

Tim Dorsey is back with Tiger Shrimp Tango, another delightfully demented tale of manic reverence for all things Florida kitsch and homicidal glee (Glee, too — Serge and Coleman are a little obsessed). And in case you were worried Serge had run out of Secret Master Plans,

Au contraire,” said Serge. “This detective business is part of the biggest Secret Master Plan yet. That’s why we’ve driven back to Tampa. We have to attend the Republican National Convention.”

“Sounds boring.”

“Except it’s anything but,” said Serge. “Especially with Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down with gale-force situation comedy. And if I’m really lucky, I might run into Sarah Palin so I can help her out.”


“Because the woman of my dreams has fallen on hard times,” said Serge. “Last time I saw her, it was at a distance on TV in a department store, and she apparently has been reduced to working behind the counter at a Chick-fil-A.”

Don’t worry, Republicans aren’t the only ones on Serge’s radar. In fact, his biggest assignment has to do with dispatching a collection of scam artists that are so thoroughly Florida, they might have originated in the @_FloridaMan Twitter feed. And there’s plenty of mayhem and situation comedy.

[If a sit-com featured an occasional hit-man...]

Nov 4 2013 8:00pm

Purgatory by Ken Bruen is the tenth Jack Taylor crime novel of Galway, Ireland (available November 4, 2013).

Ken Bruen’s latest book, Purgatory, starts with a bang—fairly literally—and it’s all downhill from there.

Jack Taylor is washed out, washed up, and washed clean. Bounced from the Guards and not really interested in any more private gigs, Taylor is practicing the art of living a day at a time. None of that Zen stuff his friend Stewart’s into, not a proper twelve-step program, but more an acquired apathy that makes caring too hard to even feign.

The woman sat opposite me, didn’t ask, just sat. This used to happen a lot. People believing I had some inside track for finding things, people, solutions, and maybe answers. I’d found some answers, over the years, and they were always the wrong ones. Or right but for the wrong reasons. I’d given it up with the booze, the cigs, the Xanax.

Before she could speak, I said,


Knocked her back.

Her mouth made a small O of surprise. I knew the gig. The touching photo.

Some heart-kicking story.

Her son/brother/husband


Was a great/caring/lovable



Could I find him, what happened to him?

The whole usual awful parade of misery.

She tried,

“But, they said, you care.”

I said, “I don’t.”

And I didn’t.

Not no more.


[He's doesn't sound too sorry... ]

Oct 25 2013 9:30am

Montana by Gwen FlorioMontana by Gwen Florio is a debut mystery featuring war correspondent Lola Wicks (available October 25, 2013).

I’m no great fan of prologues. I find they tend to distract more than they add the majority of the time. At any rate, any book whose first chapter starts with a female reporter embedded with rebels in Kabul probably doesn’t need a prologue to get it going.

Of course, Lola doesn’t get to stay in Kabul — something she’s none too happy about. No matter how much importance she places on the story, her bosses back in Baltimore have found war-weary Americans don’t care and would much rather read about celebrity gossip or suburban politics. That, and budgets being what they are, foreign stories are just cheaper to pull off the wires.

“I’d be reporting on school boards,” Lola said. “Zoning hearings. Neighbors pointing lawyers at each other over a foot of property line.” She tossed the paperweight high. I dropped into her palm with a satisfying sting.

[So not exactly a war zone...]

Oct 8 2013 11:15am

The Double by George PelecanosThe Double By George Pelecanos features Washington D.C. private investigator and Iraq War veteran Spero Lucas (available October 8, 2013).

Spero Lucas returns and he’s a conflicted man. He’s a quiet man. But he’s a man of certain principles. One of those is that if he finds something valuable for you, he gets forty percent. Another is that each job is a job, not a vendetta and not a mission. Just a job. Well, at least in theory.

Lucas. is a returning vet, refreshingly, doesn’t suffer from a violent or haunting form of PTSD. He doesn’t have night terrors or hair trigger flashbacks.

“Your bike’s a little small for me,” said Dupree, cutting into a medium-rare New York strip. “Like those shorts you gave me.”

“You’ll sleep well tonight.”

“How about you?” said Dupree. “How do you sleep?”

“Fine.” said Lucas.

“I don’t have a problem with that, either. You believe everything you read, all of us vets wake up in the middle of the night in a full sweat. But I never have nightmares, Luke.”

“So you’re normal, whatever that is. You’re saying the war did nothing to you.”

That doesn’t mean he’s come back the way he went and it doesn’t mean he isn’t still finding the balance between right and wrong.

[Double-edged swords...]

Sep 29 2013 10:00am

Skating Under the Wire by Joelle CharboneauSkating Under the Wire by Joelle Charboneau is a cozy mystery featuring Rebecca Robbins, the reluctant owner of a small-town skating rink (available October 1, 2013).

In the fourth Rebecca Robbins skating mystery, former exotic dancer, Danielle is nearly set to marry Pastor Rich; the rink’s officially off the market; and the only dead body is a senior citizen everyone assumes died of natural causes. So, everything should be fairly calm and boring in Rebecca’s world, right?

Well, normal for a woman whose friends include a roller derby team, the exotic dancer-turned-church-secretary, her Elvis-impersonating grandpa, her large-animal vet boyfriend and the boyfriend’s hat-wearing camel. Plus, she’s the maid of honor for the upcoming wedding, has an ever-expanding Thanksgiving dinner party to plan, and agreed to solve the Thanksgiving Day burglaries for her former high school English teacher, Mrs. Johnson.

“Mrs. Johnson gave me the list, along with a check for my fee. What are you doing telling people I charge a fee?”

Pop’s smile widened. “No one’s going to take you seriously if you don’t charge for your time.”

No amount of money was going to make me a legitimate source of detective work. “I run a roller rink, Pop. That makes me qualified to burn pizza and schedule birthday parties.”

My logic failed to impress my grandfather.

...“Pop, I can’t charge for investigating crimes.”

“Why not?”

“Because I have no training.” Duh.

My grandfather waved off my concern with a flick of his wrinkled hand. “Training is overrated. I’ve never had a singing lesson, and look at me now.”

Indeed moxie seems to be the prime qualification for most people around Indian Falls.

[We give thanks for this cornucopia of moxie...]

Sep 4 2013 10:00am

Shotgun Moon by K.C. McRaeShotgun Moon by K.C. McRae features Merry McCoy, an ex-con whose family ties threaten her quiet return to Hazel, Montana and put her back in danger of prison (available September 8, 2013.)

Merry McCoy has just stepped out of prison and her goals are simple: go home to Hazel, Montana and eat her way through a list of foods she hasn’t been allowed for four long years. Unfortunately, no sooner does she unlock the front door to her late mama’s ranch house than her cousin finds herself being questioned for the murder of the ex-boyfriend she’d been stalking. Merry doesn’t want anything to do with cops and just looking at the police station makes her a little weak and sweaty, but she has no intention of letting Lauri get railroaded if the girl didn’t do it.

Aunt Shirlene’s cigarette-etched voice rasped down the line. “Hey, it’s me. I’m down at the police station with Lauri.”

A tiny icicle of fear slid up Merry’s spine. “Why? What happened?”

“She... oh, God, you’re not going to believe this. She found Clay Lamente dead this morning. Sergeant Hawkins is getting ready to take her statement.”

“Jesus. Is she okay?”

“She’s a mess.” A pause. “I don’t know — there’s probably nothing you can do. I just thought...”

“Do you want me to come down there?”

Pleasepleaseplease don’t ask me to go into the police station.

[But ex-cons know how effective wishing is...]

Aug 12 2013 1:00pm

Strong Rain Falling by Jon Land is the fifth thriller featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, who confronts her family's past, dating from the Mexican Revolution, when the people and country she loves are threatened (available August 13, 2013).

Caitlin Strong is a fifth-generation Texas Ranger with a bad habit of leaving piles of bodies and bullets in her wake, and now someone has killed five children in the border ghost town of Willow Creek, a town from her family’s Ranger past. Meanwhile, killers are after Cort Wesley’s teenage sons, but no one knows why. Yet.

Miquel Asuna took a step toward him, playful glint gone from his gaze. “You ever think all these problems you got now started when you met her? I mean, goddamn, didn’t you used to be the most feared man in San Antonio, maybe the whole state of Texas, which is sure saying something, and nobody’d even dare look at you crossways. Madre de Dios, now you got death squads hunting your kids.”

Except, it doesn’t really start out with all that. Personally, I’d have moved the prologue to chapter two, maybe. The old-west flashback and modern-day sociopath opening left me a little “meh.” Once I got to Caitlin and Dylan, Cort Wesley’s older son, and their college tour, I tore through the rest of the book, flashbacks and sociopaths and all. It’s not that those opening elements aren’t important or interesting—they are—they just didn’t grab me. Your mileage may vary.

Caitlin has been touted as a strong female character. Her strength outside of gunfights was more apparent in earlier books, and given the race-against-the-clock nature of the plot, there’s little time for reflection or emotion aside from anger and fear. And, hoo-boy does she have a lot of anger, with attitude to spare.

“It’s Jones, Captain, and haven’t you seen what William Faulkner said about the past?”

“Just because it may not be dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be, Jones,” Caitlin said, before Tepper could get his own response out.

[More anger and salty talk ahead...]

Aug 4 2013 12:00pm

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Christopher FinchGood Girl, Bad Girl by Christopher Finch is a debut novel featuring private investigator Alex Novalis, who's hunting for a missing girl in the art world of 1968's New York City (available August 6, 2013).

Booted from his gig at the D.A.’s office investigating art crime—primarily forgeries and fraud—Novalis isn’t all that keen on the idea of hunting down a rogue teenage girl, especially one who’s technically an adult. He would also prefer not to be answering to her wealthy parents or skulking around his old haunts in pursuit of an artist he finds distasteful at best, a guy last seen with the blonde, ethereal (and aren’t they always in this sort of story?) Lydia Kravitz.

“...I don’t know if you believe in evil, but to me it is something very real, something tangible that curdles the soul. Lydia has that quality of curdling the soul. What makes it so much worse is that she appears to be such an innocent. An angel. It’s an illusion.

Good Girl, Bad Girl is quite noir and at times it’s hard not to picture the classic P.I. in his trenchcoat and hat, even though Novalis is a bit more modern, a lot more artsy, and way more enlightened when it comes to the “gals.” What he is, rather, is a guy who likes to drink well enough, but given a choice he’d pick a joint. He knows art, artists, and has good tastes, but he’s cynical though perhaps not so much as some of his friends in art scene.

[Nothing nice to say? Please sit by me...]

Jul 29 2013 1:15pm

Undercover Cop by Mike Russell with Patrick W. PicciarelliUndercover Cop: How I Brought Down the Real-Life Sopranos by Mike Russell with Patrick W. Picciarelli is the true story of Russell's undercover operation infiltrating New Jersey's Genovese crime family (available August 6, 2013).

In the 1980s, New Jersey state cop Mike Russell infiltrated the Genovese family in an undercover operation that eventually led to the arrest of fifty-five members of the crew operating out of The Cage.

If you follow Mafia lore, it’s not much of a secret how things end. But even if you’re not a mob history buff, you've seen how some of these guys made headlines.

Every time Zarra took me aside for a private chat, I thought for  sure he’d gotten wise to my bogus heating-oil business, but he never  did. His greed overtook good sense. Somewhere in the recesses of that corrupt brain of his he had to know something wasn’t right with me, but he never questioned it. Dollar signs did his thinking  for him. Historically, if a wiseguy was going to get busted, it was usually due to one of two things: greed or his inability to keep his mouth shut. In New York, John Gotti had done a doubleheader— getting indicted because of his big mouth and his insatiable thirst for more money— and Zarra’s terminal greed would eventually mean his downfall.

But you don’t read this for the “whodunit” but rather the how and why along the way. It’s the story of how this guy, a patrol cop, managed to become trusted enough to get dirt on some of the biggest mob bosses of the day, and all the corruption and crazy along the way.

It’s also a helluva lot of fun to read, like listening to a foul-mouthed grandpa at your favorite dive bar telling you about all the stuff he did when he was your age (and realizing grandpa was a badass).

[More badassery, if you please!]

Jul 25 2013 2:45pm

The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm is the 3rd in the series about Collector of souls Sam Thornton, who will be sent after a group of former Collectors who've cast off their ties to hell (available July 30, 2013).

If Chris F. Holm ever disappears, it’s because of his search history, and if you’ve been following him on Twitter lately, you know he spends entirely too much time in Guam.

In other words, the third book in the Collector series is arriving, so you can spend the end of your summer with soul grabber Sam Thornton, his handler, Lilith, and a bunch of other interesting...creatures.

While you could well read this without having picked up the other two book and most of it will still make perfect sense — there’s plenty of backstory even fans of the series haven’t seen before to guide you — at some point you meet a group of characters that (while well explained) are just more fun if you recognize them like old friends.

For the uninitiated, Sam is a soul collector. His job is to, well, collect souls for hell. Souls that have been bargained away in exchange for fame or fortune or the health of a loved one or, you know, the things you bargain with the devil for. At any rate, Sam’s grown a little jaded through the years. Also, better adept at dealing with the things life—er, death—throws at him.

[Like making nice with the locals?]

Jul 12 2013 9:30am

These Mortal Remains by Milton T. BurtonThese Mortal Remains by Milton T. Burton sees East Texas sheriff Bo Handal square off against a group of white supremacists (available July 16, 2013).

Nazi-wannabes, drug-running, robbery, the shooting of a beloved deputy, assassination, and old-fashioned revenge. Sheriff Bo Handal has his hands full in East Texas. Reminiscent of Craig Johnson’s famous Sheriff, but with a now happier home life, even his colleagues can’t help but draw the comparison.

“One thing that concerns me is the back of the property,” Winthrop said. “The front and sides are bounded by roads, and that’s easy enough to cover. But the rear backs up against a pretty dense stand of woods. If some of these bozos were to get back there we could lose them.”

“That’s no problem,” I said

“How so?” he asked.


“Shit!” Chambless exclaimed. “What are you trying to do? Play Walt Longmire?”

[A man can have worst idols...]

Jul 3 2013 9:30am

Skinner by Charlie HustonSkinner by Charlie Huston is a futuristic thriller about the intersection of spycraft, technology, and people (available July 9, 2013).

Aasif’s parents had a dream for him. Not so unlike millions of other parents around the world, they dreamed of something better for their son. So smart that they wanted him to have the chance to go to school, to study, to become more than they had the chance to be. But Aasif learned something besides engineering along the way. He learned that in this brave new globalism, those chances, those jobs and opportunities were disappearing, consolidating, contracting. And he met someone who wanted to help him change, not the world, but his corner of it.

So he took his new skills back to the slums, broke his mother’s heart, and taught his son as much as he could about the tangle of wires and pipes that will bring modern civilization to their home.

[Surely harmless knowledge, of course...]

Jun 20 2013 10:00am

Key Death by Jude HardinKey Death by Jude Hardin is the fifth Nicholas Colt Florida-based thriller (available June 25, 2013).

So, you’re in between episodes of The Glades, you already finished the last Tim Dorsey book, and you still need a crazy-people-in-Florida fix. Jude Hardin’s latest Nicholas Colt book, Key Death, is the perfect solution.

Former guitarist, former P.I., and professional drinker, Colt goes to a concert only to find himself hired by a dying woman to find her father. Problem number one: Colt lost his investigator’s license. Problem number two: It turns out the woman’s father has been dead for two years. Murdered, to be precise. And it turns out, if she can’t meet her father, she’d like to at least see the murderer brought to justice. Problem three: The father was living—and murdered—eight hours away in Key West.

[What's a mere eight hours when it comes to justice?]

Jun 13 2013 10:45am

Always Watching by Chevy StevensAlways Watching by Chevy Stevens is a psychological thriller featuring a cult and the psychiatrist who can't shake her experiences with them (available June 18, 2013).

In Chevy Stevens’ latest, Always Watching, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is doing her best to help her patients in Mental Health, including Heather Simeon, brought in after a suicide attempt. Nadine thinks she’s rebuilt her life after the death of her husband and her drug-addicted daughter’s running away. She’s replaced family with patients and she tells herself she’s helping them, but she still wonders why she could never help Lisa, her daughter.

The book opens with the introduction of Dr. Lavoie’s newest patient, Heather, who will unwittingly serves as a catalyst for the memories the psychiatrist thought she’d buried.

[Nothing stays buried forever]

May 13 2013 12:00pm

In Shotgun Lullaby by Steve Ulfelder, Conway Sax must  help a recovering substance abuser who reminds him a little too much of his estranged son (available May 14, 2013).

The third Conway Sax novel by Steve Ulfelder opens with Conway beating down a guy over a lemon car sold to a new Barnburner, one Gus Biletnikov. In other words, Conway’s still acting as a half-assed investigator-slash-enforcer for the special group of AA members he credits with saving his life. And he’s still doing it with his perfect blend of heart, gruff, and bullheaded luck.

A long time ago, after more tries than you could count, I finally put together some sobriety. A couple of months, my longest dry stretch since I was fourteen.

It was awful. I didn’t know what I was doing. My knuckles were white, my teeth were ground to nubs, my nightmares lasted all day.

It was slipping away, and I knew it. I was feeling shame already over the next backslide. Had a feeling it would be the last one, the one that carried me all the way down.

[When you reach bottom there’s nowhere to go but up...]

May 8 2013 9:30am

Carved in Darkness by Maegan Beaumont involves a serial killer-rapist, his victim, and her fight to make him pay for his brutal crimes (available May 8, 2013).

The first chapter of this book is very graphic and contains triggers that may bother some readers (the synopsis tells you what you’ll find there). Beyond chapter one, however, the book is highly suspenseful and will keep you reading to the end, even if you skip that first chapter.

Sabrina Vaughn isn’t who she says she is, or at least she wasn’t fifteen years ago. Fifteen years ago, she was Melissa Walker, but Melissa died at the hands of a serial killer who raped and tortured her for eighty-three days before leaving her body on the grounds of a church. Melissa doesn’t exist anymore except in pieces. Little things like the way Sabrina ties her boots. A few mementoes in a box. A ring on a chain around Sabrina’s neck.

[Girl, reimagined...]

May 4 2013 10:00am

Night Terrors by Dennis PalumboNight Terrors by Dennis Palumbo is the third novel in the series featuring Pittsburgh-based psychotherapist Daniel Rinaldi (available May 7, 2013).

Once again, psychotherapist Daniel Rinaldi has been called in to consult with the police. This time it’s in Wheeling, West Virginia, where a guy has killed a local businessman, but will only lead detectives to the body if Rinaldi rides along. No sooner does he get back from Wheeling than FBI agent Alcott shows up, reluctantly asking for Rinaldi’s help with retired agent Lyle Barnes, whose years as a profiler have apparently taken their toll. To complicate matters, Barnes might be on a hit list related to the case of a small-time serial killer with a lone, angry fan. And, oh yeah, he has no intention of sitting around a hotel room like a sap when he can’t even get a decent night’s sleep.

Now, Rinaldi’s a likeable guy for the most part. He may have a hero complex and get himself into more trouble than his cop friends and enemies would like. Well, “enemies” might be a slight misnomer since about the only ones who don’t seem to think he’s charming are the stressed-out cops and agents who don’t care for “shrinks.”

[He has a way of getting inside your head...]

Apr 26 2013 9:30am

The Devil in Her Way is the second Maureen Coughlin novel from Bill Loehfelm, a follow-up to The Devil She Knows (available April 30, 2013).

Maureen, the plucky waitress from The Devil She Knows, has a new job in a new city and is ready to put her past behind her for good. As a rookie cop in New Orleans, Maureen is rebuilding, recreating herself after the events of The Devil She Knows, and she finds New Orleans is still, all these years later, pulling itself together after Hurricane Katrina’s destruction and the wave of corruption that plagued the city before and after.

Researching other opportunities, she discovered that New Orleans, flush with federal grand money, was announcing its first academy class in three years. She started reading about the city and the police department in the online version of the New Orleans newspaper. Even six years after Katrina, she kept seeing words like remake, recover, and rebirth—things she wanted and needed for herself. A new, reform-minded police commissioner had rolled into town not long ago and now sat at the right hand of a popular mayor. Firings, forced retirements, and indictments battered the department. Cops going to jail every month it seemed. All the scandal only heightened her attraction. She saw opportunity in it. She applied. She got in, with an offer of a city job until her academy class filled up. Just as she’d suspected, the NOPD was hot for fresh blood, eager to recruit from beyond the city and the state. And then all that was left to do was fire her therapist, pack the car, and kiss her mom goodbye.

[Let the good times roll...]