Aug 23, 2016

Surrender, New York, Caleb Carr

Drs. Trajan Jones and Mike Li were feted advisors to the NYPD, until they exposed some serious failings at the forensics lab and got run out of town as a result. Now they spend their days in the farm town of Surrender; teaching online courses in forensic science and profiling from the cabin of a restored airplane. Jones is a criminal psychologist, following the methods of Dr. Lazlo Kreizler and Li is a whiz at collecting and interpreting trace evidence. Li still pines for his ex-colleague, Gracie Chang and Trajan (LT to his friends) spends his free time caring for a rather unusual pet.

LT and Mike are brought in by the local police after the latest in a series of murders around Surrender. The victims, throwaway children, so called because their parents simply abandoned them to start a new child free life. Unable to go to school and unable to legally work these are the kids who end up on the street selling themselves or drugs.

LT determines that the murders are something else entirely; a case which points right to the rotten core of the Big Apple and puts him, Li and the local police in the crosshairs of some very powerful people. In a bid to understand the nature of the throwaways LT brings one of them onto his team which could prove to be his undoing.

Aug 15, 2016

The Night Bell, Inger Ash Wolfe

The sins of the past revisit the present in this the fourth of the Hazel Micallef series.

1959 Hazel is among the last people to see classmate Carol Lim, alive in Port Dundas, Ontario. Carol’s parents report her missing and Hazel’s adopted brother is questioned in connection with her disappearance, but never charged.

Present day, the town is in thrall to developers, the police service too. Hazel and her colleagues are being downsized and shoehorned into a new shopping mall on a site locals call the lion’s paw and she isn’t happy about it. Her mother, the former mayor of Port Dundas is ill and Hazel is wrestling with a new case.  The project manager of a ‘luxury’ subdivision being built on the outskirts of town has been covering up a grisly discovery; human bones found on land where the county foster home once stood.

Amid reports of corruption and broken promises Hazel and her colleagues investigate. They find more bones but a colleague disappears during the search and that night a series of brutal murders begins.  Determined to find her colleague, Hazel begins to see links to her long deceased brother, her actions to clear his name once and for all, propel her into the sights of an angry killer.

Seven days in the book world with Mark Pryor

Mark is the author of the Hugo Marston series and grew up in Hertfordshire, England. He had a number of jobs in the UK that stood him in good stead for his current career including ski instructor and print journalist. Moving to the US in the mid nineties he studied journalism and law at Chapel Hill and Duke respectively passing with as he puts it 'honours, a lot of debt and one helluva wife.'

Mark's day job is Assistant District Attorney with the Travis County DA's office. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and children.

Here is Mark's week in his own words.

It’s funny that I’m writing this post this week. You see, normally I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, what with a full-time job, three kids, and writing two books a year! But this week is an exception, for some reason, so I actually have something to share.

First, we’ll ignore the police reports that I read every day as part of my job as a prosecutor here in Austin. They tend to be a litany of stolen cars, home burglaries, and other unsavory (and not so interesting) stories!

So we can begin with a novel that I’m literally launching into it tonight while my son has soccer practice: What Remains Of Me, by Alison Gaylin. I’ve heard such good things about it, and I’ve gotten to know her at several book events. She’s a lovely person and I’m excited to get started, I know I won’t be disappointed.

I’m also finishing up a biography called Gift Of Darkness, Growing Up In Occupied Amsterdam, by Craig Comstock. It’s a fascinating look at a terrible period in our history, and is proving to be valuable research material. You see, I’m slowly plotting a book set in Amsterdam in 1942, but before I get to work I need to educate myself. To that end, we just got back from a trip there, actually, where we saw the Resistance Museum and the Anne Frank House.

But that’s not all! I also have a .pdf copy of an upcoming novel in my bag. It’s called No Way To Run, by a first-time author named Holly Crichton. It’s her memoir, and her publisher has asked me to read it with an eye to providing a blurb. I’m about 80 pages in and it’s riveting—short version: she’s a former race jockey, paralyzed in an accident, and living with an abusive husband who…. Well, I won’t give too much away, but like I said, it’s riveting.

Last of all this week… I have a copy of Asterix and Cleopatra on the go. I will never stop loving, and reading, these wonderful books!

Mark's week in a nutshell

What Remains Of Me (2016)
Gift of Darkness, Growing Up In Occupied Amsterdam (2015)
No Way To Run (Nov 2016)
Asterix and Cleopatra (1969)

Paris Librarian is out now 9781633881778

Sorrow Road, Julia Keller

1938: Three boys cause a fatal accident in Caneytown, they are never charged.

2017: Thornapple Terrace, Muth County seems like a nice place to dump senile old people; problem is people attached to the place keep dying.

Acker’s Gap in winter is a brutal place and this winter is the worst on record. County prosecutor Bell Elkins has been summoned to a bar by an old colleague from her law school days. Darleen Strayer wants Bell to look into Thornapple Terrace, the care home, where Darleen placed her father, Harmon, when his mind started to go. Harm died recently and Darleen noticed something or someone was upsetting her father during their last few visits.

Carla Elkins swore she’d never return to Acker’s Gap but she’s home and Bell knows she’s hiding something. On the plus side Carla’s got herself a job, a job which may unwittingly crack several of Bell’s cases wide open, including the Strayer case.

The Wages of Desire, Stephen Kelly

1941, the second world war rages and in England the conscription act has been expanded to include women. Detective Thomas Lamb is using his daughter, Vera, as his driver mainly because he’s badly sprained his ankle and partly to keep her out of the conscription dragnet.

They are on their way to the tiny Hampshire village of Winstead where a woman has been found, shot to death, in the graveyard. Finding out that the woman Ruth Asquith was a former conscientious objector Lamb and his team turn their attention to the work camp where she and other conscripts are building a prisoner-of-war camp.

The villagers are proving to be suspicious too, the charismatic vicar seems to have lost his gun, local busybody Flora Wheatley is going around strangling baby sparrows and young Lily watches the nocturnal comings and goings of the villagers whilst her mother works the night shift at a factory in Southampton. Yes, Winstead is a village full of secrets, some long buried, some about to be unearthed.

Aug 9, 2016

Paris Librarian, Mark Pryor

Paul Rogers is in charge of the recently donated Severin collection at the American Library in Paris.
When he dies, seemingly of natural causes, Hugo Marston, who found his body starts an off the books investigation. Paul was Hugo's friend and it seems that the Severin collection or someone connected to it may have caused his death. 

Rumors swirl about a dagger that Isabelle Severin used to kill an SS officer in 1944 and Hugo has a surprise visitor, Merlyn (Button Man) and her journalist friend Miki Harrison, who is writing a book on Severin. Hugo digs deeper into Paul's background, unearthing  a devious killer and their fading accomplice and by revisiting the scene of a decades old unsolved crime, Hugo places himself and girlfriend Claudia in grave danger.

Playing Dead, Elizabeth Greenwood

Playing Dead is darkly charmingly bizarre.

Greenwood, who graduated with a six figure yoke of debt on her shoulders tells her teacher colleague at dinner one night that she’s going to make a quick buck by a) doing a TED talk that will go viral or b) she’ll run away to Belize. Her colleague suggests an option c) fake your own death and claim on the insurance.

Intrigued, Greenwood googles ‘fake your own death’ and enters a world just below the surface of the everyday. She meets people who will help you disappear and investigators who will stop at nothing to resurrect you.

Pseudocide for most people is a fantasy, cutting all ties with the rat race and running away to laze on a sundrenched beach. The reality Greenwood finds is a lot harder. She interviews fraudsters who attempted to use a faked death to escape prison, sees the collateral damage caused to those left behind and travels to the Philippines where pseudocide is more like a cottage industry. She receives phone calls from beyond the grave from pop royalty and spends time with a man who having successfully paddled into oblivion made some changes to his appearance and moved into the house next door to his wife as her handyman!

Love Mary Roach, Jon Ronson or Eric Larson? then this is the book for you.