Tag Archives: crime thrillers

The Lineup, edited by Otto Penzler

The Lineup

A couple of months ago, I bought The Lineup: The World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler. I decided to purchase it in ebook format, so it’s been sitting there on my iPhone, ready for me to dip into whenever I’m in the mood.

If you love crime fiction, or if you like to write crime fiction (and personally, I think if you like to write it, you should like to read it), this is a really fun collection of essays.

I wasn’t acquainted with all of the authors who contributed to this book; but I now have a list of enough new-to-me authors and their mystery series to keep me busy for quite a while.

The contributions I liked least were the ones where the authors wrote “getting to know me” scenes about their characters – I found these harder to get into (and in some cases, I didn’t finish the chapter), even when it was a character I both knew and loved (like Robert B. Parker’s chapter on Spenser). I think it’s because, especially when the characters were unknown to me, without any sort of plot to enhance things, it was just too difficult to get very interested in them.

But most of the contributions are first person essays in which the writers detail how they came to develop their series characters, and I really enjoyed these. I was very sorry when I came to the last essay and realized the book was over (that’s one of the drawbacks of reading ebooks on the iPhone – there aren’t any physical clues that you’re almost done).

The essay I found the most interesting was the one by David Morrell, writing about how he came to develop the character of Rambo in his novel First Blood. Now, I have never seen any of the Rambo movies, nor do I have the faintest desire to see them, and up until reading this essay, it would never occur to me that I might like to read the book on which the movies are based (although apparently not particularly faithfully based when it comes to Rambo’s character).

But now First Blood is on my to be read list.

I have lots of other favorites in this book; in addition to authors unknown to me, I did get the most enjoyment from essays by authors I already knew. I’ve always been a big Mallory fan, and Carol O’Connell’s essay was such a fun read (especially since at the time I read her essay, I was also in the middle of Find Me).

Reading Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s lighthearted back and forth essay detailing how they came to create Agent Pendergast was really delightful, and it made me want to reread Relic, the first in the series (it also answered something that I’ve wondered about for a while – mainly, what on earth happened to Pendergast when it came to the movie version?)

It was also interesting to read how Ian Rankin developed the character of Rebus, and how powerful an influence Edinburgh itself was in the process.

And as a result of reading these essays, I am now currently reading my way through the Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter, which I’ve never read before; yes, I already know what happens in the final book, but that’s okay. There are a lot of lovely books in the series and I have a lot to look forward to.

Otto Penzler, editor of The Lineup, is also the owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York; the only time I’ve been to NYC was to attend a wedding, and there was very little time for sightseeing. But next time I go back, The Mysterious Bookshop will definitely be on my itinerary. The Lineup is a collection of the profiles and stories that Penzler asked authors to write specifically for The Mysterious Bookshop – bookstore patrons would receive a new one with their purchases; those of us who live too far to physically visit are very lucky to get the chance to read all of these contributions in The Lineup.

An Embarrassment of Library Riches

It must be some sort of Murphy’s Law applicable to bibliophiles, I think. Work-wise it’s been quiet around here, which is why I’ve been able to keep up with all my reading even through all the renovations around here, instead of being stuck at my desk pounding on deadline after deadline. I always have a stash of books I’ve requested from the library, and during these past few months, my holds have been trickling in.

And now? Well, on Monday I received a veritable flood of assignments and now have three deadlines all falling due next week. Then I received several automated phone messages from the local library, telling me that books I had requested were now on hold for me.

Today I took a break from work and popped over to the library. I needed two bags to hold everything! An embarrassment of riches indeed – and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that despite my deadlines, I’ll be able to read most of them. I have three weeks, and I can renew books for two additional three-week periods, provided, of course, that no-one else has put in a request for the titles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll remember to renew any I haven’t read yet online before the due date!

Here’s what I picked up from the library today:

Mystery: Unnatural Fire, by Fidelis Morgan. I think I had this on my list as a result of reading about it at Cathy’s Kittling: Books.

Mystery: Now & Then, by Robert B. Parker. More Spenser!

Mystery/Paranormal: Ghost at Work, by Carolyn Hart. This one wasn’t a request. The library had it in a display, so it’s more of an impulse grab.

Nonfiction: Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs, by Albert Jack. Another one that was on display. Simply couldn’t resist.

Chick Lit: Odd Mom Out, by Jane Porter. By the author of Flirting with Forty, this definitely looks like a good read, although I’m not sure how it ended up on my hold list.

Mystery: In the Woods, by Tana French. I’d heard so much about this book, and I’d like to read it before French’s new novel, The Likeness, comes out in May (in case it’s really good, in which case I’ll have another book to add to my i-want list).

Nonfiction: Himalaya, by Michael Palin. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while; I love travel books, and like Palin’s humor as well.

Memoir: Up Till Now: The Autobiography, by William Shatner. I came across this a while back while on one of my online book-buying sprees; unfortunately, while Amazon has the hardcover version at a bargain price (in anticipation, I think, of the upcoming release of the trade paperback version), Chapters in Canada didn’t. So I checked the library and put myself in the queue for it. I almost picked it as my Audible selection, but the audiobook is abridged, so I thought I’d go for the longer read instead.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Sins, by Kay Hooper. I haven’t read Blood Dreams, the first in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit trilogy, yet, but I’m hoping that it’s the kind of series you can read out of order.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Brothers, by Nora Roberts. I haven’t read very many Nora Roberts novels, and this one sounds good. It’s the start of the trilogy, so I may be in for more happy reading with this series …

Young adult/Mystery: Break and Enter, by Norah McClintock. I’ve already raved about this series here.

Children’s fiction: The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken, by Howard Whitehouse. I couldn’t resist typing out the full title. I don’t have a clue how I first came across this book, but I suspect all I had to do was read the title and it was writing itself down on my i-want list.

Fantasy/Erotica: Naughty Paris, by Jina Bacarr. I can’t remember where I came across this title, either, but there it was, on my list of requested books. About a woman living in today’s times, a maverick painter in 1889 and a little bit of black magic and (I gather) a whole lot of sex.

Now, if I could just finish up these deadlines so I can succumb to the lure of this embarrassment of library riches!

Review: Compulsion, by Jonathan Kellerman

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: Jonathan Kellerman is one of my favorite authors; I really like his protagonist, Alex Delaware. I know the Delaware novels are a “series” but each book is very much a stand-alone novel, and Compulsion, like all the Delaware novels, doesn’t disappoint. While the plot and story doesn’t set it above the other novels in the series, that’s really not a negative, as most of the Alex Delaware novels I’ve read have that intensity and grab-you effect that I like in a crime thriller. Which is to say, you’re not going to go wrong with Compulsion. It’s highly readable, like all its predecessors. See below for the full review.

From the back cover:

A tipsy young woman seeking aid on a desolate highway disappears into the inky black night. A retired schoolteacher is stabbed to death in broad daylight. Two women are butchered after closing time in a small-town beauty parlor. The curious fact that all their killers drove luxury vehicles, coupled with a baffling lack of any apparent motive, is enough to warrant the attention of LAPD detective Milo Sturgis and his frequent collaborator on the crime beat, psychologist Alex Delaware.

What begins with a solitary bloodstain in a stolen sedan quickly spiders outward in odd and unexpected directions, leading Delaware and Sturgis from the well-heeled center of L.A. society to its desperate edgesety to its desperate edges – on the trail of a killer who proves to be a fleeting shapeshifter, defying identification, leaving behind dazed witnesses and death – and compelling Alex and Milo to confront the tru eface of murderous madness.

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Review: Bones to Ashes, by Kathy Reichs

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: I find it hard to resist a Kathy Reichs’ book, even though I’m not particularly enamoured with her style – I find the gothic, damsel in distress mode just a little bit annoying. But her plot lines are always so interesting, and I never have any doubt that she’ll hold my interest with surprise twists all the way through. Bones to Ashes didn’t let me down in this respect, but there is one particular scene, near the end of the book, which took my credibility and stamped it all to shards and pieces … It was extremely hard coming back to the rhythm of the book after that. See below for the full review.

From the back cover:

The discovery of a skeleton in Acadia, Canada, reawakens a traumatic episode for forensic anthropologist Temperence Brennan: Could the young girls’ remains be those of Évangéline Landry, Tempe’s friend who disappeared when Tempe was twelve? Exotic, free-spirited, and slightly older, Évangéline enlivened Tempe’s summer beach visits … then vanished amid whispers that she was “dangerous”. Now, faced with bones scarred with inexplicable lesions, Tempe is consumed with solving a decades-old mystery – while her lover, detective Andrew Ryan, urgently needs her attention on a wave of teenage abductions and murders. With both Ryan and her ex-husband making surprising future plans, Tempe may soon find that her world has painfully and irrevocably changed once again.

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Review: The Broken Window, by Jeffery Deaver

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: The Broken Window is a wild ride of a novel, fast-paced and engrossing. The plot line is very credible; I know I started using my paper shredder more after reading the novel! It’s my first Lincoln Rhyme novel, and I found myself liking both the logical Lincoln Rhyme, a forensic consultant, and his partner and lover, Detective Amanda Sachs. The Lincoln Rhyme novels are a series, but this didn’t prevent me from enjoying dipping into the series via the latest book; The Broken Window works well as a standalone novel, although of course I now have all the earlier Rhyme novels on my to-be-read list. See below for the full review.

From the jacket flap:

Lincoln Rhyme and partner/paramour Amelia Sachs return to face a criminal whose ingenious staging of crimes is enabled by a terrifying access to information …

When Lincoln’s estranged cousin Arthur Rhyme is arrested on murder charges, the case is perfect – too perfect. Forensic evidence from Arthur’s home is found all over the scene of the crime, and it looks like the fate of Lincoln’s relative is sealed.

At the behest of Arthur’s wife, Judy, Lincoln grudgingly agrees to investigate the case. Soon Lincoln and Amelia uncover a string of similar murders and rapes with perpetrators claiming innocence and ignorance – despite ironclad evidence at the scenes of the crime. Rhyme’s team realizes this “perfect” evidence may actually be the result of masterful identity theft and manipulation.

An information service company – the huge data miner Strategic Systems Datacorp – seems to have all the answers but is reluctant to help the police. Still, Rhyme and Sachs and their assembled tteam begin uncovering a chilling pattern of vicious crimes and coverups, and their investigation points to one master criminal, whom they dub “522”.

When “522” learns the identities of the crime-fighting team, the hunters become the hunted

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