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Jun 15, 2016

Yellowstone Standoff, Scott Graham

Science and nature collide in the third installment of the National Parks mystery series. 

Yellowstone’s bears have a people problem. It has been two years since a fatal bear attack on a pair of wolf researchers in a part of the park so far from civilization that you need a satellite phone to call for help. 

Reluctantly, the rangers are letting researchers back in; amongst them archaeologist Chuck Bender and his family. Chuck has been contracted to survey a find of serious historical significance. What neither he nor the teams of researchers based out of the Turret Cabin area bargained for is a killer in their midst, and that killer might not be human.

Jun 14, 2016

Stiletto, Daniel O’Malley

Her majesty’s supernatural secret service is back. The Checquy and their sworn enemies The Grafters are moving towards an alliance. Peace talks, brokered by Rook Myfanwy Thomas are about to take place at the Checquy’s headquarters in central London. Tensions are high, a single spark could lead to war between the two supernatural superpowers with the hapless British public right in the firing lines and that spark could be between Pawn Felicity and Grafter Odette, two women who absolutely can’t stand each other.

Even in the middle of peace talks, supernatural threats still exist, like the outbreak of killer crystals countrywide, recent transplant patients sleepwalking into oblivion, and a burial site in north wales that contains one very pissed off occupant not to mention the conspiracy theorists noisily picketing the Checquy’s offices.

Stiletto is still a mashup of Monty Python, Dr. Who and Torchwood with all of the horror/humour of the original ‘Rook’ and the four year wait between books has been well worth it.

Jun 6, 2016

Seven days in the book world with Ingrid Thoft

Ingrid is the author of the Fina Ludlow series, born in Boston and a graduate of Wellesley College. In the vein of ‘know the rules before you break them’ and wanting to create a believable character Ingrid gained a PI certification from the University of Washington. She is married and lives in Seattle.


Here is Ingrid’s week in her own words.

Newspapers are a staple of my reading diet. Given that I'm from the east coast, my primary paper is the New York Times, which is delivered to my door in Seattle every morning. I also flip through the Boston Globe (the city of my birth and the settings for my novels) and the Seattle Times on a daily basis. I try to stay informed, but I also pull articles that may have some story value down the road.

Sarah Weinman is a well-known editor and writer in the mystery world and self-professed “crime lady.” Her “weekly-ish” newsletter, http://tinyletter.com/thecrimelady, is full of terrific links to true crime stories, news about the world of mystery publishing, and fascinating articles. If mysteries and thrillers are your thing, you need to subscribe to this newsletter.

When I teach mystery writing seminars, I always focus on character development, which I believe is the lifeblood of any story. This is true for non-fiction as well as fiction: “Stories” come alive when the people who populate them are fully realized. One of the best sources for engaging non-fiction articles is www.longform.com or you can follow them on twitter at @longform. This site aggregates the best writing in newspapers, magazines, and on the web. The subject matter is varied, but the writing is always excellent. Many of the articles are related to my work, and others are just pure time sucks that make me happy! Some of the articles I read this week:

The Cave Divers Who Went Back for Their Friends by William Cremer – BBC magazine

A Severed Head, Two Cops and the Radical Future of Interrogation by Robert Kolker – Wired magazine

Even the World’s Top Life Coaches Need a Life Coach. Meet Martha Beck by Taffy Brodesser-Akner – www.Bloomberg.com

Wal-Mart. Thousands of Police Calls. You Paid the Bill by Zachary T. Sampson, Laura C. Morel, and Eli Murray - Tampa Bay Times

“Dear Prudence” on www.slate.com: This advice column is posted on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays and provides a delightful work break.


I'm always reading a few books at once, generally a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. This week I've been immersed in:

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - I loved this thriller written by a former cop in England. It kicks off with the hit-and-run death of a child and will keep you guessing until the end. It was suspenseful and creepy and has a real sense of place. One of the characters moves to a coastal village in Wales, and Mackintosh does a fantastic job of transporting the reader to windswept cliffs scented by the salt-infused air.

Shrill by Lindy West – How did I not know about Lindy West? Her essays about women, body image, and feminism are smart, funny and thoughtful. Her unwillingness to stifle her ideas and opinions has opened West up to the hateful vitriol of internet trolls, but that only makes her voice louder. If you think “It’s just a joke. Lighten up.” is a reasonable defense of cruel and marginalizing brands of humor, this book might just open your eyes.

Crashed by Timothy Hallinan – One of the joys of being part of the mystery writing world is the opportunity to meet my peers at various functions. Before I read any of Tim’s work, we shared a couple of entertaining dinners, which prompted me to seek out his books. He’s written a few series, but I’m especially taken with his Junior Bender series set in L.A. Junior is a crook who’s hired by other crooks to do their dirty work in the shadowy underworld of Hollywood. Funny and fast-paced, Crashed practically crackles.

What’s next on my TBR list?

United by Cory Booker

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

Before the Fall by Noah Fawley

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Ingrid's week in a nutshell

I Let You Go (2016)
Shrill (2016)
Crashed (2013)

Coming up

United (2016)
Wilde Lake (2016)
Before the Fall (2016)
Evicted (2016)

Duplicity will be published Jan 2017 9780399171192
Brutality is out now in hardcover 9780399171185 and in paper in December 9781101982501

Jun 1, 2016

Grunt : The Curious Science Of Humans At War, Mary Roach

Coming from the author of Bonk, Spook, Packing for Mars etcetera you know that Grunt is going to be a mix of science, whit and ‘eww!’. This book isn’t going to tell you how to treat PTSD or build a more lethal weapon. What it will do is give you an insight into what scientists can do to keep our military personnel healthy.


From fabrics that will stop them bursting into flames, to ear protection that won’t leave them deaf at the end of their operational tour; with a quick trip into the attempted development of shark repellent and operational stink bombs. On a more serious note, Mary highlights an injury that most of us have never heard of (warning it will make grown men cross their legs!) tells us about ‘surgeon’ maggots, gets sleep deprived on a submarine and explains the sound submariners don’t want to hear at 300ft down at sea. Roach takes us along for the ride, seatbelts and sick bags optional.

May 31, 2016

Before The Fall, Noah Hawley

The OSPRY 45XR sits on a private runway at Martha's Vineyard ready to receive passengers, tonight it's a media mogul and his family, their private security a couple of their wealthy friends and Scott Burroughs, a middle aged artist whose time might be about to come and it does, just not in the way he intended. Sixteen minutes after takeoff the plane plunges into the ocean killing all on board except Scott and four year old JJ who are both tossed into the spin cycle of the twenty four hour news stations.

The NTSB and the FBI are involved almost immediately and Scott is their only witness and one news channel in particular, ALC, is presenting speculation as fact painting Scott not as the humble hero but as the cause of the crash. Amongst all the distortion and lies peddled by ALC a real investigation is progressing but even they are swayed when they see the subjects of Scott's paintings.

Hawley mixes the backstories of the other passengers and crew on the plane with the consequences of the crash. JJ is now the sole heir to a massive fortune, his aunt Ellie wants what's best for the boy whereas her greedy husband thinks they can treat JJ like an ATM spending the boy's inheritance as their own. A great summer read.

btw This is the same Noah Hawley who created and wrote the multi award winning TV show 'Fargo'. He clearly has the measure of the FOXs and CNNs of this world. Our news is much less fact and more spin and speculation and talking points; with the right spin they can turn and saint into a sinner and vice-versa.


May 30, 2016

Seven days in the book world with Louis Begley

Louis is a multi-award winning novelist. Born in Poland, his first novel Wartime Lies is loosely based on his wartime experiences but as he has stated in many interviews it is fiction not fictionalized biography.


Louis studied English Literature at Harvard and was on the staff of The Advocate the undergraduate literary magazine, but wanted to immerse himself in his new life in the US and at the time that didn't include writing novels. Married with three grown up children Louis was a partner at a prestigious New York law firm, he has since retired and become a full time novelist.

Here is Louis's week in his own words.

Last week I finished Jane Mayer’s Dark Money. I started rereading Robert Musil’s Man Without Qualities. And I am rereading once again Dante’s Divine Comedy. I’m now in Purgatorio.

Louis's week in a nutshell

Dark Money (2016)
The Man Without Qualities (1940)
Divine Comedy; Purgatorio (1320)

Killer Come Hither 9780553392449 and Kill and Be Killed 9780385540711 are out now.
Wartime Lies 9780449001172 is also available now.

May 24, 2016

Smoke, Dan Vyleta

Smoke is set in an alternative Victorian England. 

Public Schoolboys Charlie and Thomas have never known a time before people smoked. Literally black or grey smoke issues from a person’s body when they commit a sin. 

Church and Parliament have declared that Smoke and the filthy soot it generates are a mark of the low born. The capital, London is awash with it. The wealthy do not smoke, they have the means to purchase ‘sweets’ to protect them from the effects of the smokers or are those ‘sweets’ a means of suppressing their own smoke?


Thomas’ patron, Baron Naylor invites Thomas and Charlie to spend Christmas with him at his isolated country estate. Here they meet Lady Naylor, her daughter Livia and son Julius. Lady Naylor swears them to secrecy regarding the ‘experiments’ she and her son are carrying out. Charlie, fearing for Thomas’ safety enlists Livia’s help to run away from the Naylors.  Attacked and pursued across country by revolutionaries and religious fanatics, the children head for London. Can they get there in time to stop a revolution or maybe to start one.

The concept of 'Smoke' is such a fascinating one, in the world of smoke passion and love cause you to emit smoke albeit smoke of a different colour. Emotion as sin? How would we conduct ourselves in day to day life with such a visual medium showing our every emotion. Makes you think doesn't it?