Archive for the ‘Mystery & Detective’ Category

JK Rowling Drops Hints

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

In news that might overshadow her PR push for the newest Cormoran Strike novel, JK Rowing said during an interview on BBC Radio 2 Book Club that she is going to write another children’s book:

“I’m not going to give you an absolute date because things are busy and I’ve been writing a screenplay as well. But I will definitely write more novels under JK Rowling. I’ve written part of a children’s book, which I really love. I will definitely finish that. I have ideas for other adult books.”

Let the watch begin.

UPDATE: The U.K. trade publication, The Bookseller, followed up with Rowling’s agent. You can almost hear the sigh in his voice as he replies, “J K Rowling has talked previously about writing a children’s book and, as she said to Simon Mayo in the interview, it is on-going, with no plans to publish as yet.”

9780316349932_bd4feShe is also gamely promoting her latest adult title, Career of Evil (Hachette/Mulholland), the third in the Cormoran Strike mystery series.

She has much to say on that same BBC interview but she also talked with David Greene for NPR’s Morning Edition, discussing how her research into the feelings and motivations of killers gave her nightmares and why she chose to disguise herself as a male author.

“… there was a phenomenal amount of pressure that went with being the writer of Harry Potter, and that aspect of publishing those books I do not particularly miss. So you can probably understand the appeal of going away and creating something very different, and just letting it stand or fall on its own merits.”

Catching Up With Nancy Pearl

Monday, October 26th, 2015

In her recent weekly book chats airing on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW librarian Nancy Pearl talks Mystery and Fantasy.

9781608197088_acf81Last week she discussed Tabula Rasa (Bloomsbury USA; Tantor audio; OverDrive Sample) by Ruth Downie, the newest in Downie’s Ruso mysteries set in Roman Britain. Just released in paperback, the sixth in the series takes place while the Romans are building Hadrian’s Wall and involves the case of a missing British boy.

Nancy says that Downie “give such a picture of the time and the place” that she feels she is taking a wonderful Roman history class as she reads them.

9780763681845_f6f18On October 6, Nancy addressed Fantasy with the last book written by the late Mal Peet, The Murdstone Trilogy: A Novel (Candlewick; Candlewick on Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Peet, who passed away in March, might have been best known for his YA novels, but Nancy loved this adult send-up of writing in general and Fantasy in particular.

Calling it “sui generis” she says it’s like nothing she has ever read before.

The story is about a writer urged by his agent to change his focus from YA realistic fiction to Fantasy so he can start to sell books again. Knowing nothing of the genre he makes a deal with a strange creature – the creature will write the novel in exchange for a mysterious amulet.

Nancy says the story “totally charmed” her and is full of word play, satire, and wonderfully humorous set pieces.

It is also an open question as to what the novel actually is, not a trilogy at all as the subtitle makes clear and perhaps not a Fantasy either, making it a challenge for catalogers.

Wallander Retires

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Unlike James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Lisbeth Salander, who lived on after their creators’s deaths, Kurt Wallander will not be featured in future novels.

As reported by the global news agency AFP and picked up by Yahoo! News, Henning Mankell’s publishing partner Dan Israel, who co-founded Leopard publishing with Mankell, stated that now that the writer has died, “It is out of the question that there would be other books featuring Wallander.”

Neither are there any manuscripts hiding in a vault. While Israel says Mankell was working on a book before he died, but it “is just a draft and unpublishable.”

He vowed to protect the literary property of Mankell, stressing “Nothing can be approved without my agreement.”

However, Mankell’s final book has not yet been released in the U.S. The Guardian reports that Quicksand: What It Means to be a Human Being, is about his experience dealing with his cancer diagnosis. Scheduled for release in the U.K. this coming February, the U.S. release date has not yet been announced.

In an interviews in 2012, Mankell explains that he is not interested in crime itself, but “To use the mirror of crime to look at contradictions in society, that is what interests me.”

Henning Mankell Dies at 67

Monday, October 5th, 2015

9781400031573www.randomhouse.comSwedish crime writer, author of the Wallander series, died today of cancer at the age of 67.

His gloomy, dedicated police inspector Kurt Wallander tracked down cases in eleven novels. The series began with Faceless Killers in 1997 and the latest entry is the 2014 An Event in Autumn. Mankell wrote stand alones as well, such as 2013’s A Treacherous Paradise and 2012’s The Shadow Girls.

Although he is known for his role in ushering in a wave of Nordic crime he told The Guardian “I could never write a crime story just for the sake of it, because I always want to talk about certain things.” He went on to say that Macbeth was the “best crime story he has ever read.”

Many will know Mankell through the BBC/PBS TV series starring Sir Kenneth Branagh who expertly highlighted Wallander’s character and translated much of the books’ melancholy. Branagh told the BBC:

In life and in art Henning Mankell was a man of passionate commitment. I will miss his provocative intelligence and his great personal generosity. Aside from his stringent political activism, and his decades of work in Africa, he also leaves an immense contribution to Scandinavian literature. His loving family, and those privileged to know him, together with readers from all over the world, will mourn a fine writer and a fine man.

Mankell lived a full and adventurous life, going to sea as a young man and scrapping a living out of Paris before returning to Sweden to work in the theater. Even as a novelist he remained active in the theater, serving as the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Mozambique.

According to his website, he wrote “around forty novels and numerous plays. His books have sold more than forty million copies and are translated into more than forty languages. Solidarity with those in need run through his entire work and manifested itself in action until the very end.”

In 2014, thinking he had a different problem, he saw a doctor only to discover cancer had already invaded several areas of his body. “It was a catastrophe for me,” he told NPR, “Everything that was normal to me up to that point was gone all of a sudden. No one had died of cancer in my family. I had always assumed I’d die of something else.”

NPR reports his last book, released in early 2015 in Sweden, is entitled Quicksand. It is not yet listed on American wholesalers.

What Happened to Harper Lee’s Murder Mystery?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Hints that there might be more books by Harper Lee in the safe deposit box that contained Go Set a Watchman were laid to rest last week by a story in the Wall Street Journal,

Still, stories about other books continue to roil around.

Today, the AP revives questions about what happened to Harper Lee’s  true crime novel, raised earlier this year in the New Yorker.  Rumored to be in the vein of In Cold Blood, it is based on a twisted and deeply Southern Gothic case of a preacher suspected of a string of killings of family members.

The family of the lawyer involved in the case has evidence that Lee had started work on the book, “four typed pages [that begin] with an early morning phone call from the accused black preacher to his white lawyer … Hand-scrawled at the top is the title The Reverend. The text is dotted with handwritten b’s, filling in where a typewriter key apparently stuck … consistent with the typewriter Lee used at the time.”

One of the few people close to Lee also tells the AP that one of Lee’s sisters told him that the book was completed.

Yet, as is the case with most of Lee’s literary history, stories are contradictory. One of the people Lee interviewed for the novel tells the AP she had second thoughts, telling him after months of work that “she didn’t know if she was going to write the book or not.”

Typically, Lee’s lawyer, who controls all access to Lee and her papers, did not respond to the AP’s requests for clarity.

Lee Child on SPIDER’S WEB,
Maslin on Lee Child

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.33.47 AMspiders-webThere is plenty of Lee Child in this week’s New York Times 

For the cover of the Sunday Book Review, he offers his opinion of The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz (RH/Knopf; RH Audio) and today, in the daily NYT, reviewer Janet Maslin offers her take on Child’s newest Reacher novel Make Me (RH/Delacorte Press; BOT).

First, Child on Lagercrantz.

While he admires some of what Lagercrantz has done with the story itself, which he deems “a fine plot,” in the end he decides the task of bringing back Lisbeth Salander was impossible:

And what of Lisbeth Salander? Given that Lagercrantz knows she’s what ­readers want, her long and suspenseful introduction is masterful. It’s a striptease. She’s mentioned in the prologue (“One Year Earlier”), and then she’s not in the story at all, and then she is, maybe, purely by inference, and then we get a brief glimpse of her, and then another, and then some longer scenes. But it’s not until Page 216 that she actually speaks to Blomkvist. “Lisbeth,” he asks, answering her phone call, “is that you?”  “Shut up and listen,” she replies, and he does. And we’re off to the races. Or are we? Does she spark to life and get up off the slab?

No decides Child, she does not, “The sublime madness of Larsson’s original isn’t quite there.”

It is another story for Maslin’s reaction to Make Me.

She likes it, a lot, calling it “a hot one” and going on to say “Lee Child’s Reacher series has hit Book No. 20 with a resounding peal of wisecracking glee… Everything about it, starting with Reacher’s nose for bad news, is as strong as ever.”

Without spoilers, she hints to readers that the book marks a turning point in the series while giving a sense of its gritty core:

… this book’s spectrum of good and evil is so wide, and its depths of horror so extreme, that it seems impossible for even Jack Reacher to come away from it unchanged. Usually he walks away from one novel and into the next without even getting his hair mussed. Maybe not this time…[the book] takes Reacher from the kind of cracking wise his fans love and the violence that he understands into the eerie realities of 2015, not the ones Reacher learned in the last century as part of his military training.

News also just arrived that the second Jack Reacher movie will arrive next fall, again starring Tom Cruise.

Crystal Ball: GIRL WAITS

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

9780544409910_db716-2Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun (HMH; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) is gathering velocity.

Stewart spoke with Steve Innskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday. The charming interview sent her debut novel (after successful nonfiction titles) racing up Amazon’s sales rankings.

Separately, Girl Waits with Gun was also reviewed on NPR by author Genevieve Valentine. “Charming” is a word that comes up frequently there as well, with Valentine saying “It might seem odd to be reading about an old-fashioned farmstead shootout and thinking about how charming it is, but if you’re reading Girl Waits With Gun, you might as well get used to it. You’ll be thinking that a lot.”

As we reported in the look ahead to books coming out this week, Stewart’s novel has four prepub stars and is both an Indie Next and a LibraryReads pick.

Holds are topping a 3:1 ratio at some libraries and are strong everywhere we checked. Don’t be surprised if it shows up on best seller lists next week.

THE SPIDER’S WEB, First Reviews

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.24.18 AM

Today is the release day in the U.K. for the English-language version of The Girl in the Spider’s WebA Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series by David Lagercrantz (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; RH Large Print).  We won’t see it here until Tuesday, and critics are in a competition to review it first.

Daily New York Times critic, Michiko Kakutani, has reviewed all the previous titles in the series. Her take on the new book  is summed up in these lines, “Though there are plenty of lumps in the novel along the way, Salander and Blomkvist have survived the authorship transition intact and are just as compelling as ever  … Spider’s Web is less bloody, less horror movie lurid than its predecessors. In other respects, Mr. Lagercrantz seems to have set about — quite nimbly, for the most part — channeling Larsson’s narrative style, mixing genre clichés with fresh, reportorial details, and plot twists reminiscent of sequences from Larsson’s novels with energetically researched descriptions of the wild, wild West that is the dark side of the Internet.”

USA Today chimes in, “Rest easy, Lisbeth Salander fans — our punk hacker heroine is in good hands.”

The Washington Post‘s Patrick Anderson is less enthusiastic, saying, “I recall the Larsson books unfolding gracefully. Lagercrantz’s narrative is fragmentary and confusing. It’s almost impossible to keep track of all the hackers, scientists and killers who emerge briefly, vanish, then turn up again after you’ve forgotten them,” It ends with a reference to Larsson’s long-time companion who fought against the continuation of the series, “Don’t be fooled. Gabrielsson was right; Larsson deserves better than this.”

The book is currently at #33 on Amazon’s sales rankings and holds are heavy in many libraries.


Monday, August 17th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.32.18 AMHolds are growing for Julia Heaberlin’s third thriller and hardcover debut Black-Eyed Susans (RH/Ballantine; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Trade reviews were solid but not over the top, but reviewer, reader, and librarian response has been. It is an August LibraryReads pick, one of Amazon’s August selections of the Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Books, and a Goodreads Best Books of the Month choice.

The Washington Post review all but glows, calling it “brilliantly conceived, beautifully executed [and] outstanding.” The review concludes with this million dollar endorsement:

“Heaberlin’s work calls to mind that of Gillian Flynn. Both writers published impressive early novels that were largely overlooked, and then one that couldn’t be: Flynn’s Gone Girl and now Heaberlin’s Black-Eyed Susans. Don’t miss it.”

Need a quick summary? The Dallas Morning News offers a share-worthy take:

“16-year-old Tessie Cartwright was found buried alive in a field of black-eyed Susans with the remains of other girls who weren’t so fortunate. The story toggles between two timelines, one involving the traumatized teen’s therapy sessions, the other taking place nearly 20 years later, when mid-30s Tessa believes the wrong man was sentenced to death row — and that her “monster” is still stalking her. Never has a patch of pretty flowers blooming outside a bedroom window seemed so sinister.”

Thanks to Wendy Bartlett, collection development at Cuyahoga Public Library, for the tips!

Crystal Ball: IN A DARK,

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.18.09 PMWith growing word of mouth, Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood (S&S/Gallery/Scout Press; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) is poised to hit next week’s bestseller lists.

Featured on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday with the wonderful headline “Scream Meets Agatha Christie,” it is also rising on Amazon, currently at #150.

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A- review, writing that the novel’s “foggy atmosphere and chilling revelations will leave you breathless.” As we noted earlier, it’s a LibraryReads pick for August and was one of GalleyChat’s unexpected BEA gems.

Holds are more than respectable on fairly light ordering.

NPR’s David Greene said that he began reading the book in a secluded park and that that was “a very bad idea. Even the title sends chills up the spine.” Here is the full interview:


Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.41.32 AMSteve Hamilton, the NYT bestselling author with several Edgar wins under his belt, created a bit of a publishing tempest last week when he pulled out of his contract with St. Martin’s just weeks before his new book, The Second Life of Nick Mason was due on the shelves. (Note: cover art, left, is for the now cancelled St. Martin’s/Minotaur edition).

Libraries have solid holds lists for the start of this new series, one Harlan Coben blurbs as “A gamechanger. Nick Mason is one of the best main characters I’ve read in years. An intense, moving, absolutely relentless book — it will grab you from the first line and never let go.”

Within 23 hours of news breaking that Hamilton had walked away from St. Martin’s he was fielding multiple offers from other publishers, according to Entertainment Weekly, but the fate of his forthcoming book seemed murky (you can read the backstory here).

Separately, the AP reports that Hamilton has accepted a 4-book deal with Penguin/Putnam to publish the first two books in his Nick Mason series. The first title is now due out in the middle of 2016.

On the Way

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 8.01.40 AMBritain’s Carnival Films, the production company behind hits such as Downton Abbey and Agatha Christie’s Poirot is gearing up for a second season of Grantchester, to air on PBS Masterpiece in 2016, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Based on the short stories by James Runcie, the first season drew from the collection Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (Bloomsbury; Movie-tie in ed.; OverDrive Sample). The new season appears to be based on Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night (Macmillan/Bloomsbury; OverDrive Sample; the publisher tells EarlyWord that a movie tie-in is likely, but has not yet been announced).

If you missed the first season, Grantchester features a dishy village vicar who solves crimes around his tiny hamlet outside of Cambridge, England and ventures further afield as well. Full of jazz music, anguished flashbacks to WWII, and frustrated romance, the sprightly paced 1950s set whodunits showcase well-drawn characters, a fabulous setting, and a not quite cozy tone.

Reviews were generally positive on both sides of the ocean when season one debuted. The Telegraph wrote “Stop it, I’m hooked. Sign me up. I’ll give you my cat and house to see what happens next.”

The LA Times called the show “guilelessly entertaining” and said that while it “lulls more than it grabs [like a] good sermon, you may think you’re only barely listening until you realize you’re fully immersed.”

The New York Times had a different view, however, claiming that Grantchester will be “breezy fun for fans of the form, though the more discerning will be put off by how rudimentary the actual murder mysteries are after being squeezed into 50 minutes (half the norm for this type of show). Others are liable to find it faintly ridiculous, more of a haiku than an actual drama.”

The show created demand for the book and holds spiked at some locations beyond a 3:1 ratio.


Monday, July 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 1.18.52 PMAuthor Chelsea Cain reviews A.J. Rich’s The Hand That Feeds You in this week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review.

The story follows a student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who comes home to find her fiancé mauled to death by her three dogs . As she tries to piece together what happened, she discovers her fiancé was not the person he claimed to be.

As we reported, booksellers are behind it and so is Cain, who says it is “a tense, intriguing psychological mystery … [with] a clearheaded, character-driven style… [filled with] the sort of celebration of simple moments more often seen in short stories.”

As Cain points out, the creation of the novel is as interesting as its plot. A.J. Rich, is the pen name for two authors, Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment, who collaborated on the project begun by their dying friend, Katherine Russell Rich.

Holds are outpacing copies across the country.

GOTT Moves to New York for Film

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

The Girl on the TrainAccording the the Sunday Times of London, the film version of The Girl on the Train will be set in upstate New York

The book, set in London, was inspired by author Paula Hawkins’ own commute. She tells the Times, “I’m not really concerned about the repositioning as I think it is the type of story that could take place in any commuter town.” She adds that she will not be work on the movie, saying, “I don’t want to be involved … let them get on with it.”

British actress Emily Blunt is in talks to star in the DreamWorks film directed by The Help’s Tate Taylor. There’s no word on whether she will adopt an American accent for the role. No word yet on when it will begin filming, Blunt is currently at work on another movie, The Huntsman, scheduled for release in April, 2016.

NPR Offers RA Assistance

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Author and NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan, who last month offered a summer reading book list came back to Fresh Air yesterday with four more suggestions, this time suspense novels she says are all “deadly accurate in their aim to entertain.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 12.58.49 PMFirst up is Innocence; Or, Murder on Steep Street (Soho; OverDrive Sample) by Heda Margolius Kovaly, translated by Alex Zucker. Kovaly is a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps and communist rule in Czechoslovakia. She died in 2010, leaving behind a number of works including this novel set in 1950s Prague, just a few years after the close of WWII. It centers on a movie theater usher trying desperately to save her husband who has been imprisoned and accused of espionage. Corrigan says “the great draw is the menacing view it gives us of communist Prague.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 1.00.29 PMS.J. Watson’s Second Life (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), also featured in this week’s NYT Sunday Book Review, is Corrigan’s second pick. She calls it a “nuanced” and “erotic psychological thriller.” The story follows a woman who falls down the rabbit hole of the “online demimonde.” Corrigan promises readers will never see the end coming.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 1.02.20 PMThe third pick is Run You Down (Macmillan/Minotaur; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) by Julia Dahl, (following Dahl’s Edgar-nominated debut, Invisible City). It again features the reporter Rebekah Roberts as the central character, who is once again drawn into the world of Hasidic Jews – this time when she starts poking into the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Roseville, N.Y. where a woman has been found dead in a bathtub. Corrigan ends her summary with this useful take: “Though the plot becomes a bit formulaic at the end, Dahl is an evocative writer, never more so than when she’s describing the nascent yearnings of those younger members of that religious community — gay, vaguely feminist, simply different — who can’t quite fit in, but can’t quite leave.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 1.02.52 PMClosing out her picks is The Last Taxi Ride (Macmillan/Minotaur; OverDrive Sample) by A.X. Ahmad, the follow-up to The Caretaker. Here Ranjit Singh, an ex-army captain and Sikh immigrant from India, has become a taxi driver and is accused of murdering a Bollywood film icon. In her summary of what it feels like to read the book Corrigan offers the very high praise, that in a period when “we’ve lost both P.D. James and Ruth Rendell, it’s cheering to stumble upon an emerging detective like Ranjit, who feels utterly authentic and original.”