I have always been exasperated by novels where the heroine (usually the heroine but not always) steps into a darkened room, a hidden passage etc., actions that scream out that they are not the sensible or safe thing to do. So when the blurb on the back of Cass Green’s In a Cottage, in a Wood read, ‘When Neve arrives alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister looking bungalow with bars across the windows…’you might think that I would not pick it up but for whatever reason I did and thoroughly enjoyed it. Cass Green is an English writer and is usually regarded as part of the Grip Lit group of writers, not usually my cup of tea, but this book a good old fashioned thriller with a very interesting and unexpected twist.
After a twelve-year gap Margaret Maron came back to Lt. Sigrid Harald in Take Out, just released in mass market ($10.49). Sigrid Harald had not completely disappeared as she was seen in a couple of the Judge Deborah Knott novels, including Three Day Town and the The Buzzard Table, when Sigrid and her mother are visiting family in North Carolina. The Judge and the Lieutenant are cousins. Take Out set in New York deals with the poisoning of two men, one of whom was homeless, on a park bench. Although I don’t remember where I read it or maybe heard it, I think this is the end of the Sigrid Harald series just as Long Upon the Land was the last Deborah Knott novel, there is a sense in both of them of I’s being dotted and t’s being crossed, If you have not read either of these series they are well worth a try.
Lynda La Plante has written a new series starting with Tennison, which is a prequel to the Jane Tennison/Prime Suspect series. Set in the early 1970s Jane Tennison has just graduated from the Metropolitan Police Academy and is at her first posting in Hackney. The four titles in the series are being published over the space of the next few months. Tennison is in stock and will be followed in short order by Hidden Killers, Good Friday and Murder Mile.
I must admit that to call After the Snow a mystery is stretching it more than a bit. Susannah Constantine’s novel set in 1969 may have some mysteries in it but so far none of them have involved the staples of the mystery novel. I am not sure why I ordered it, perhaps I was carried away by the comment from Elton John on the front cover “A modern day Nancy Mitford” whatever the reason we have it in stock and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A perfect book to get you through these less than perfect “Spring” days.
Gail Bowen has a new book out. Sleuth is not part of her Joanna Kilbourn series but is a non-fiction guide to mystery writing (in stock TP $18.95). The various chapters lay out the nuts and bolts of constructing a mystery novel, Setting, Characterization, Plot etc. But I think that probably the most important piece of advice to the aspiring writer is in the third chapter called Prewriting Your Mystery. Bowen describes how important it is to use the interstices of your daily life, no matter how short, to think about and plan the story you want to write, so that when you do have the time to sit down to write you already have a good idea of what you want to say. I think that many of our customers if pressed would admit to having or have had an idea for a mystery novel. This book might be just the thing to get on with it. The 18th Joanne Kilbourne novel, A Darkness of the Heart, will be released in hardcover ($32) in August. The 17th novel, The Winners Circle will be available in trade paper ($18) in July.
Sarah Vaughan’s Anatomy of a Scandal, (in stock, trade paper $24.00), tells the story of British M.P. James Whitehouse whose own life and that of his wife, Sophie, descends into chaos and newspaper headlines after he confesses an affair to his wife. This is just the first step in what becomes a major scandal with James ending up being arrested for rape and standing trial at the Old Bailey. The book draws the reader in with the wonderful evocations of Oxford University, Houses of Parliament, the Old Bailey and Brighton at the Annual political party convention time. The novel certainly hits many chords in this era of #MeToo, but there is also an underlying plot of something that happened while James and some of his political associates were at Oxford University. Will both these events the present and the past end up being papered over.
On a lighter note Andrew Cartmel’s first title in the Vinyl Detective series, Written in Dead Wax, has just been released in mass market paperback (in stock $10.99). Cartmel’s main character is an avid and extremely knowledgeable collector of vinyl records. As such his expertise is often called upon to track down various rare and often valuable records. This series is extremely enjoyable with an interesting and quirky cast of characters. The third title in the series, Victory Disc, is due to be released in trade paper on May 8th ($16.95).