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Showing posts by: Lakis Fourouklas click to see Lakis Fourouklas's profile
Nov 20 2012 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron

The Buzzard Table by Margaret MaronThe Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron is the 18th novel in the Deborah Knott mystery series (available November 20, 2012).

Judge Deborah Knott and Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant are back home in Colleton County, North Carolina, with all their family and courthouse regulars. But there are a few new faces as well. Lt. Sigrid Herald and her mother, Anne, a well-known photographer, are down from New York to visit Anne’s ailing mother, Mrs. Lattimore.

When the group gathers for dinner at Mrs. Lattimore’s Victorian home, they meet the enigmatic Martin Crawford, an ornithologist who claims to be researching a new book on Southern vultures. More importantly, he’s Mrs. Lattimore’s long-lost nephew, and Sigrid and Anne’s English cousin. With her health in decline, Mrs. Lattimore wants to make amends with her family—something Deborah can understand as she too is working to strengthen her relationship with her stepson, Cal. But for all his mysterious charm, Anne can’t shake the feeling that there is something familiar about Martin...something he doesn’t want Anne or anyone else to discover. When a murderer strikes, Deborah, Dwight, and Sigrid will once again work together to solve the crime and uncover long-buried Lattimore family secrets.

Martin Crawford is the most interesting, or should I say intriguing, character in this novel. He’s more than he says he is. He definitely has a lot of secrets; most of the time his behavior is, to say the least, suspicious; and no matter how hard he tries to go unnoticed he consistently draws people’s attention.

[There’s something about Martin...]

Nov 15 2012 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Hot Stuff by Don Bruns

Hot Stuff by Don Bruns is the sixth book in the Stuff series featuring private investigators James Lessor and Skip Moore (available November 16, 2012).

An attractive sous chef at the famous restaurant L’Elfe is murdered and half the employees are suspect. The lack of police progress toward solving the murder leads Chef Jean Bouvier to seek a quicker solution. He hires private eyes James Lessor and Skip Moore to go undercover and discreetly investigate his restaurant staff. But their investigation turns up far more than they bargained for.

Amanda, the victim, was a friend of Skip’s girlfriend, Emily. So Emily can tell them some things about Amanda’s background, but she hides a lot. Because Amanda once helped her out in a difficult situation, Emily now feels that she owes her something, so not only does she want Amanda’s murder solved, but also she wants to protect Amanda’s memory from rumors.

[That sounds noble, but will it be in the end?]

Nov 6 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Make Believe by Ed Ifkovic

Make Believe by Ed IfkovicMake Believe by Ed Ifkovic is the third Edna Ferber historical mystery set in the glamor of Los Angeles in the 1950s (available November 6, 2012).

It’s 1951 and Edna Ferber is in Hollywood to support Max Jeffries, a friend who was part of the film production of Show Boat—until he was blacklisted as a Communist. When Max ends up dead, Edna searches for answers in the tawdry side of Hollywood, where she encounters the likes of Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra.

Edna is a celebrity too, but a minor one if compared to Frankie and Ava. She’s written some books, among which is Show Boat, which was adapted for a Broadway musical and several films. However, she’s never been quite happy with what’s been done with her work, and she definitely doesn’t like Los Angeles, where yet another film version of Show Boat is about to premiere, this time starring the notorious Ava Gardner.

[Sex and the city, old style!]

Nov 3 2012 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hamett

Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett is a traditional detective story anthology containing two unpublished novellas featuring private investigator Nick Charles and his wife Nora (available November 6, 2012).

One would be justified in asking what these stories have to offer to the modern reader almost seven decades after they were conceived. The answer is: a lot. First, they give us the chance to rediscover the work of an old master. Second, they offer the opportunity to learn more about him and his love-hate relationship with the movie industry. Third, they showcase the book’s links to the movies, through the thorough introductions by Richard Layman and Julie M. Rivett.

[And fourth? There’s a fourth, right?]

Oct 31 2012 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Death in the 12th House by Mitchell Scott Lewis

Death in the 12th House by Mitchell Scott LewisDeath in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules is the second in the Starlight Detective Agency mystery series by Mitchell Scott Lewis (available November 6, 2012).

Someone is bumping off rock’s wrinkled royalty. After the death of the third aging rock star, lead singer Freddie Finger, astrologer-detective David Lowell takes on the case, scrutinizing suspects’ charts for any clues in the stars that could point to a killer.

It seems that this case will not be easy to crack since the victim had many enemies. Actually, he didn’t seem to have any friends at all. The only one who seems to care about him in the end is his daughter Vivian Younger, a multitalented young woman and a real celebrity, who got to know him a little bit better just before he died. And she needs closure. So when she realizes that the cops are getting nowhere with the investigation, she decides to hire Lowell to help with the case.

[Art, science, and music combine in this investigation...]

Oct 24 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Dead Girl Moon by Charlie Price

Dead Girl Moon by Charlie PriceDead Girl Moon by Charlie Price is a young adult mystery novel (available October 30, 2012).

As their hardscrabble lives intertwine in a small, corrupt Montana town, Grace, a scheming runaway; JJ, her spacey foster sister; and Mick, the hapless son of a petty thief, discover the body of a dead teenage prostitute. Afraid to come forward, the teens try to hide their knowledge of the crime, because they believe the murderer is one of the corrupt officials and businessmen who rule their town. But after a series of false moves and dumb mistakes, the teens are soon suspects themselves in a murder investigation that threatens their freedom—and maybe their lives.

This is one of the most disturbing stories I’ve read lately, mainly because of its subject matter. I think the synopsis above gives you a good idea of what it is all about, but that is not enough to convey to you the heartaches and pains its heroes go through.

[All good heroes need a little heartache, right?]

Oct 17 2012 1:45pm

Fresh Meat: Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Illustrated by Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, collects the first six issues of the science fiction thriller series (available October 23, 2012).

It all begins with the birth of a girl called, after a lot of arguing between the parents, Hazel. Hazel is the result of an unholy union, according to the rules of the worlds her parents come from. Alana, her mother, is a native of Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy. Marko, her father, comes from Wreath, a moon. Her own birth takes place on planet Cleave “an ancient ball of mud circling around a fading old star.”

Hazel is a hybrid of a child if ever there was one. Her father has horns, her mother has wings, she has both. And they are all outcasts from the very moment she comes to life.

Wanted by the authorities of their respective homelands, haunted by their pasts, and hunted by mercenaries who are “the highest bidders in the war of Good Versus Good,” they have to run for their lives, and they do.

[At least all that running must be good exercise...]

Oct 10 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson

Island of Bones by Imogen RobertsonIsland of Bones by Imogen Robertson is the third historical mystery featuring Mrs. Harriet Westerman and anatomist Gabriel Crowther (available October 11, 2012).

England, 1783. In Island of Bones, Crowther’s haunting past is at last revealed. For years he has pursued his forensic studies—and the occasional murder investigation—far from his family estate. But an ancient tomb there will reveal a wealth of secrets when laborers discover an extra body inside. The lure of the mystery brings Crowther home at last.

When I started reading this novel I didn’t really think that it would be an easy read. Perhaps that had something to do with the events which take place in the distant past or with the fact that by now I’m so used to fast-paced thrillers that I felt that a novel of this size and scope would be hard to go through. I’m happy to report that I was proven totally wrong.

[Digging up the bones of the past]

Oct 2 2012 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Becoming Holmes by Shane Peacock

Becoming Holmes by Shane PeacockBecoming Holmes by Shane Peacock is the sixth book in the Boy Sherlock Holmes middle grade detective mystery series (available October 9, 2012).

Our hero discovers that his rival, the criminal Malefactor, has used nefarious means to place one of his two henchmen in a powerful position in the government treasury offices. But the henchman crosses his superior and is brutally murdered and thrown into the River Thames. Sherlock seeks to implicate Malefactor in the henchman’s death, believing that he can, once and for all, bring down his rival. But is the murderer whom Sherlock suspects? Or is some darker, even more powerful force moving about London?

Life, or rather fate, works in mysterious ways. So here I am starting to read a series of novels starring Boy Sherlock Holmes from the final chapter backwards. Shane Peacock does such great work recreating an era and reinventing a hero that I just have to read the previous five novels.

It’s not that I feel young at heart, which I do; it’s not that the mystery is so great, which it is; it’s not even the fact that it’s an easy read that made me like this novel—it’s the whole package. The background, the writing, the characters, everything here seems right to me; especially the characters.

[The whole is more than the sum of its parts . . .]

Sep 30 2012 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Mixed Signals by Jane Tesh

Mixed Signals by Jane TeshMixed Signals is the second novel in the Grace Street cozy mystery series (available October 2, 2012).

Mixed Signals is a cozy novel that has a heavier focus on characters than on crime. Yes, there is some mystery, a murder, and a few robberies, but it’s the people that keep the story going—people who are strange, as the old song by The Doors goes.

David, the PI, is a man who doesn’t try too hard to find balance in his life; he seems to thrive in anarchy, since that’s exactly what makes him forget about the painful past.

Kary, the love of his life, to whom he offers his hand in marriage time and again but to no avail, is someone who looks forward to a great future while truly enjoying living with three grumpy, old and not so old men. Camden, his best friend, is a psychic and suffers from violent flashbacks and nightmares. And Fred is Fred; an old and irritated, rather than irritating, man. This is the 302 Grace Street gang.

[The neighbors who solve crimes together, stay together?]

Sep 26 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Phantom by Jo Nesbø

Phantom by Jo Nesbø is the seventh in the Harry Hole series of nordic noir crime novels (available October 2, 2012).

When Harry Hole left Oslo again for Hong Kong he thought he was there for good. But then the unthinkable happens. The son of the woman he loved, lost, and still loves is arrested for murder: Oleg, the boy Harry helped raise but couldn’t help deserting when he fled. Harry has come back to prove that Oleg is not a killer.

So now he’s back, in a place where he feels he no longer belongs. What was it that made him come back? Was it only a sense of guilt or did he seek to fill the void he felt in his life? Or was it just the simple fact that he wanted to help Oleg out?

[Harry Hole, father figure?]

Sep 21 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo

The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo is the second middle grade crime novel in the Matt Stevens, middle school detective series (available October 1, 2012).

When the star of the basketball team is blackmailed, it’s up to Matt, the lone voice for justice in a morass of middle school corruption, to figure out who’s behind the scheme. Is it eighth-grade crime lord Vinny “Mr. Biggs” Biggio, who made his name peddling forged hall passes and leading a crew of social assassins who vanquish enemies with a humiliating squirt-gun blast below the belt? Is it Vinny’s lieutenant, and Matt’s former best friend, Kevin? Or is it a pair of scheming twins who sell Pixy Stix to sugar-addicted classmates? One thing’s for sure: There wont be a quick fix for the trouble at this middle school.

Matt Stevens is his name and detecting is his game: he can solve riddles, settle disputes, fight the good battle, and much more. And he has a great sense of humor.

[Which is a necessity in junior high . . .]

Sep 12 2012 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane, edited by John Skipp

Psychos AnthologyPsychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane, edited by John Skipp, is a crime anthology featuring stories by master storytellers including Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Block, and Ray Bradbury (available September 25, 2012).

As we read in John Skipp’s cheerful introduction:

This just in: SOME PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE! It’s the hideous headline heard daily, around the world.

As it turns out we do it quite a bit: every sixty seconds, in the USA alone, according to the latest statistics. The global guesstimates must be even more impressive.

Which means that, in the time it takes me to write this sentence, at least one somebody is killing somebody else, somewhere on Earth. Probably a hell of a lot more.

Serial killers, psychos, fundamentalists of sorts, and other deranged souls are the heroes, or rather the villains and some of the victims, in these stories; stories that take us back and forth in time and detail witch hunts, possessed bodies and souls, ruthless killers, pedophiles, and the workings of some of the most twisted brains literature, or the real world even, have ever seen.

[Lost in the maze of mayhem . . .]

Sep 5 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Robert Ludlum’s The Janus Reprisal by Jamie Freveletti

Robert Ludlum’s The Janus Reprisal by Jamie FrevelettiRobert Ludlum’s The Janus Reprisal by Jamie Freveletti is the ninth spy thriller in the Covert-One series (available September 11, 2012).

With U.S. intelligence agencies wracked by internal power struggles and paralyzed by bureaucracy, the president was forced to establish his own clandestine group—Covert-One. It is activated only as a last resort, when the threat is on a global scale and time is running out.

Covert-One operative Colonel Jon Smith is attending a conference in The Hague on infectious diseases, together with leading scientists and political figures from around the world. Without warning, the conference hotel is consumed in a bloodbath. Smith is caught in the crossfire and barely escapes . . . but not before discovering a picture of himself and two other targets in the pocket of one of the shooters.

Who is targeting them and why? Smith knows one of the other people in the pictures is an MI6 operative, but who is the woman? And why did the perps break into the safe of the hotel where some of the delegates were staying but not steal any valuables apart from some scientific samples in test tubes?

There are a lot of whys in this novel, but not enough time to think about them, not only because the answers are too easy to find, but also due to the fact that the action progresses so fast that there’s hardly any time to think things through.

[So I should get a neck brace to prepare for some literary whiplash?]

Aug 31 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. KingGarment of Shadows by Laurie R. King is the twelfth book in the traditional mystery series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (available September 4, 2012).

In a strange room in Morocco, Mary Russell is trying to solve a pressing mystery: Who am I? She has awakened with shadows in her mind, blood on her hands, and soldiers pounding on the door. Out in the hive-like streets, she discovers herself strangely adept in the skills of the underworld, escaping through alleys and rooftops, picking pockets and locks. She is clothed like a man, and armed only with her wits and a scrap of paper on which is written a mysterious Arabic phrase. Overhead, warplanes pass ominously north.

Meanwhile, Holmes is pulled by two old friends and a distant relation into the growing war between France, Spain, and the Rif Revolt led by Emir Abd el-Krim, who may be a Robin Hood or a power-mad tribesman.

And thus the action begins. This is the first novel of the series that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. The author not only seems to know her subject well, but also is quite capable of creating a compelling background for the story. As for her eye for detail, well, I’ll let the writing do the talking:

[Please do!]

Aug 28 2012 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray

Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer GrayAtticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray is a middle grade mystery suitable for cat lovers of all ages (available September 6, 2012).

When Atticus receives an anonymous message summoning him to a meeting in a sleepy English coastal town, he packs his bags and sets off. The world’s greatest cat burglar likes a good mystery and this time curiosity has got the better of him. The writer of the message, it turns out, is none other than Jimmy the Magpie, gang leader. He is mourning the death of his friend Beaky, who has been run over by a Rolls-Royce. Now he wants Atticus to steal all the jewels in town and leave the humans baffled. What could be more straightforward? But when Atticus moves in with Inspector Cheddar and his family, he starts to wonder if a life of crime is really for him . . .

The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw this book was: this sounds fun. And it is fun. But, it’s also thought provoking, deeply human and, unavoidably, feline.

Meet Atticus Grammaticus Cattypuss Claw, a cat unlike any other. Atticus is a thief and a cosmopolitan, somebody who likes to live as a prince. At the beginning of the story we find him living the big life in Monte Carlo, but before that he’d been to Moscow and Milan, Montreal, Miami, and Madrid.

[Footloose and fancy free?]

Aug 26 2012 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Return to Atlantis by Andy McDermott

Return to Atlantis by Andy McDermottReturn to Atlantis by Andy McDermott is the eighth thriller in the archeologist Nina Wilde and her husband, ex-SAS bodyguard Eddie Chase series (available August 28, 2012).

Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase have stunned the world with their discoveries, from the legendary sword Excalibur to the golden city of El Dorado. Now, by bringing together three ancient statues from three different continents, Nina is about to tap into a colossal energy source—one not felt since the days of Atlantis.

But when the statues are stolen and Eddie is falsely accused of murder, forcing him to go on the run to hunt the man responsible, a violent struggle erupts among a secret, vastly powerful group that wants to control Nina and the earth energy. From a glittering, high-tech skyscraper in Japan to a harrowing chase beneath the Vatican and an underground military vault in Nevada, Nina and Eddie must piece together an astounding puzzle. For Nina Wilde is the key to a plot that will change the world forever. And Eddie is the key to keeping her alive.

This is what I mean when I talk about action: superb storytelling; breathtaking aerial, mountain, and underwater battles; fabulous villains; and stubborn as hell heroes. What a mix!

Andy McDermott is a new discovery for me and in my opinion he is (readers’ alert) a new and improved version of Wilbur Smith, as he manages to include so many action sequences, so many twists and turns, and so much traveling in just one novel, that his mastery seems simply unsurpassed.

[That’s quite a hefty statement!]

Aug 24 2012 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Offering by Desirée Bombanon

The Offering by Desiree BombanonThe Offering by Desirée Bombenon is an amateur sleuth thriller about a super-rich couple whose travels inevitably take them into crime (available September 25, 2012).

It all begins while Amanda and Jake Bannon enjoy some down time at the beach on New Year’s Eve. They are in Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii. Jake goes over some things on the computer while Amanda enjoys the tranquility of the place, replaying in her mind’s eye her life story: her youth, her studies, how she met this man who’s proved to be the special one, how they married and became rich and powerful, about their kids and their adventures.

The Bannons are not your everyday couple. Yes, they have lots of money; no, they don’t need to work anymore; yes, they are blessed in many ways; but, at the same time they are restless. They always want to move around, visit different places, meet new people, live exciting adventures, and they do. Sometimes though—and this is one of those times—they just need to sit back, relax, and enjoy some moments of peace and togetherness.

[Of course, there’s no story if things are peaceful . . .]

Aug 22 2012 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

Low Pressure by Sandra BrownLow Pressure by Sandra Brown is a stand-alone romantic thriller (available September 18, 2012).

Bellamy Lyston was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamys fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene along with her memory of what really happened during the days most devastating moments.

Eighteen years later, Bellamy has written a sensational, best-selling novel based on Susans murder. When an opportunistic reporter from a tabloid newspaper discovers that the book is based on fact, Bellamys identity is exposed along with the family scandal.

A dead sister, a failed marriage, and dreams that never came true; Bellamy’s life sounds tragic, to say the least. Could things possibly get any worse? Well, yes, they can. There comes a time when she has to flee her house in Manhattan and return to her hometown of Austin, Texas, in order to escape the publicity surrounding the revelation that she’s the author of the novel—and because of a threat that arrives in a gift-wrapped package.

[A finger? An ear? A head? What could it be?]

Aug 19 2012 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Caravan of Thieves by David Rich

Caravan of Thieves by David RichCaravan of Thieves by David Rich is an action-packed but humorous debut thriller (available August 30, 2012).

Rollie Waters has no intention of paying for the sins of his father Dan. Rollie is going to make others pay, and he is going to use the tricks and tactics his charming, enigmatic con artist father taught him—and a few he dreams up along the way—to make it all happen. Dan taught Rollie how to stay two steps ahead of trouble and how to offer cheap gifts with one hand while stealing the family silver with the other. But, unlike Dan, Rollie is not a criminal.

After he’s yanked out of his latest assignment and tossed in the brig, he’s only partly surprised when the officials in charge mention that U.S. government money—a lot of money—has gone missing, and they think Rollie’s father took it. The only way to find Dan is to trace the frail tendrils of truth scattered among Rollie’s childhood memories. To do that, he’ll have to go deep into the undercover identity of a lifetime: his own.

The relationship between the gifted prince of thieves, Dan, and his equally gifted but honest son, Rollie, is at the epicenter of this well-written novel. Rollie has a love-hate relationship with his father. He loves Dan for some of the things he taught him and for some of the scarce but magical moments they spent together; he hates Dan for who he is: a thief unlike any other, someone who could sell you a house twice and make you thank him for it both times.

[That’s a good salesman right there!]