Smith

Lawyer and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer Timothy J. Lockhart’s debut novel SMITH is the story of a skilled killer who becomes a professional assassin. It begins with the promise of a riveting thriller, but sadly loses most of its power through predictability and diminishing trust in its main protagonist.

We first meet Smith as she expertly kills three men with a long-range rifle for mysterious but apparently personal reasons. Not long after these killings, Smith – and yes, that’s the only name she knows and answers to – is approached by a recruiting officer from a group known as The Enterprise. Smith quickly learns that The Enterprise is a clandestine, black ops organization called upon by the U.S. government to eliminate problematic individuals when all else fails. And the offer they make to Smith is literarily one she can’t refuse.

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Shark Island

If you’re considering writing a novel about sharks, you have to realize that comparisons will be made. For those over 30 years of age, you’re going to be brought up against people who have read Peter Benchley’s JAWS and seen Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation of the same name. For those under 30, you’ll have an easier road because people will just compare you to SHARKNADO.

In the former, you’re going to come off poorly, but you’ll probably win the latter battle. That’s the case with Chris Jameson’s enviro-thriller SHARK ISLAND.

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The Force

Don Winslow’s latest, THE FORCE, again demonstrates Winslow’s masterful ability to present unsettling, contemporary issues through the eyes of complex and remarkable characters. Here, however, our sympathy for the protagonist is challenged like never before. Yet our understanding is never disputed. And it is this clash of emotions – among the many other striking elements — that makes THE FORCE one of the most compelling and memorable crime novels you are ever likely to read.

Denny Malone heads the NYPD’s Manhattan North Special Task Force, an elite unit renown for its ability to wage war on gangs, drugs, and guns. On the street they are known as “Da Force” and not above using the popular “Star Wars” reference. And recently Malone’s Task Force scored the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history.

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Jimi After Dark

Crime author Stephen Mertz’s latest novel, JIMI AFTER DARK, continues his use of popular and influential musicians as the backdrop to a story of murder and mystery – a trend he began with his 2011 novel, HANK AND MUDDY. This time, as the title reveals, the musician is the iconic Jimi Hendrix.

The setting is the early 1970s. Although at the height of his popularity, a few lackluster performances have placed Jimi Hendrix’s career in jeopardy. A music festival he was to headline is canceled. Suddenly desperate for money, Jimi retreats to London – the city where he first found fame with his psychedelic blues guitar playing – and gets tangled up with loan sharks.

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EURO COMICS ROUNDUP >> Hey, Ladies

Following up their fabulous SPANISH FEVER anthology/sampler package, Fantagraphics now unleashes further modern treasures from the vibrant Spanish comics scene. THE LADIES-IN-WAITING continues the current trend of comics biographies, taking aim at one specific painting and the man who painted it: “Las Meninas” by Diego Velazquez, from 1656.

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The Book of Joan

Novelist Lidia Yuknavitch is not a science fiction author. But you wouldn’t know it from reading THE BOOK OF JOAN. Like several contemporary authors, Yuknavitch finds fertile ground for her ideas and expressions within the troupes usually reserved for sci-fi. The result is a stunning and often unsettling work that, like many classics of genre fiction, is memorable for ts creativity as well as its relevance.

The setting is the near future,; a time when world wars have transformed the Earth into an uninhabitable, radioactive battleground. Surviving humans live aboard CIEL, a huge satellite platform orbiting the dead home planet. But over the course of years humans have become sexless, hairless, pale white creatures living in isolation. CIEL is ruled by Jean De Men, a bloodthirsty dictator who has turned CIEL into a police state.

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3 New Entertainment Titles

Similar in structure to fellow McFarland & Company releases Now a Terrifying Motion Picture! and Classic Horror Films and the Literature That Inspired Them, yet by a different author, Ron Miller’s Mystery Classics on Film: The Adaptation of 65 Novels and Stories provides a thorough breakdown of the changes that short stories and novels have undergone on their path from the page to 24 frames per second. Tackling works nearly as old as cinema itself and as recent as the Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher, Miller (formerly a syndicated columnist on the topic of the telly) mines a wealth of whodunits for this multimedia survey, reviewing both the source material and the resulting movie with equal devotion and effectiveness. While several bona fide classics are covered — e.g., Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon — Miller makes his work more interesting by deviating often from the usual suspects, most obviously in eschewing the Agatha Christie adaptations And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express for … What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. All this, plus Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, Mike Hammer, Auguste Dupin and even that lovable serial killer, Dexter Morgan.

Few reads can be as addictive as the oral history, and having written ones on SNL and ESPN, James Andrew Miller is arguably a master of them. Now he turns his attention to another set of initials, CAA, in Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency. A 2016 release now in paperback from Custom House, the brick of a book (now with additional material, no less) traces the unlikely rise of CAA from the ashes of five disenchanted William Morris agents to a near-monopoly on the entertainment industry as a whole. Along the way, a classic Cain and Abel story builds between its two most powerful founders, Mike Ovitz and Ron Meyer, but their fallout occurs in the second act; Powerhouse loses its luster after that, arguing for an earlier ending. Absolutely packed with gossip and dozens of unreliable narrators, Powerhouse offers both a business lesson in innovation and a cautionary tale of hubris.

Not for nothing does Robert Hofler’s latest biography, Money, Murder, and Dominick Dunne: A Life in Several Acts, sport chapter titles of pairs, because his jack-of-all-trades subject is a textbook study in duality — and far more than mere separation of the public and private. Although a married (for a time) man with children, Dunne long enjoyed the company of his own gender, via anonymous restroom encounters and even skipping his father’s wake for a backseat coupling. Hofler plays these details not for gossip’s sake, but in crafting a full portrait of a very complex man — one who forever wrestled with guilt and, following the slaying of his daughter, Poltergeist actress Dominique Dunne, turned guilt of another kind into a second-act career as reporter of cause célèbre trials, most notoriously the O.J. Simpson circus. Whether you know Dunne from that journalism work, from the movies he produced (e.g., The Boys in the Band, The Panic in Needle Park) or from the high-society novels he wrote and their tony television adaptations (The Two Mrs. Grenvilles), Hofler — the author behind one of my all-time favorite cultural histories, 2014’s Sexplosion — does one helluva job documenting the life of one helluva interesting guy. —Rod Lott

Get them at Amazon.

Murder in Saint-Germain

With MURDER IN SAINT-GERMAIN, author Cara Black gives us her 17th (17th!) novel featuring Aimée Leduc, a private investigator handling discreet cases in the heart of France.

Two cases present themselves to Ms. Leduc. Her security firm is working on contract at an art institute, firming up the institution’s security protocols and handling their IT needs. One of the instructors is being blackmailed and wants Leduc to find out who is doing the blackmailing. But he wants everything to be so discreet it’s hard to get useful details out of him to solve the case.

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Hardboiled, Noir and Gold Medals: Essays on Crime Fiction Writers from the ’50s through the ’90s

Why would you want to read HARDBOILED, NOIR AND GOLD MEDALS, the collection of essays and introductions by Rick Ollerman – a longtime contributor to the classic crime fiction republished fiction by Stark House Press? Several reasons, really. But mostly because Ollerman’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the authors and styles he writes about shines through in ways that make these articles as entertaining as they are informative.

Then there is the structure of this collection. Ollerman could have simply assembled the various introductions he has provided over the years in chronological order. But Ollerman, a novelist as well as a critic, realized how dull this would be.

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All the Birds in the Sky

Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead are the Romeo and Juliet of Charlie Jane Anders’ 2016 novel, ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY, now published in trade paperback. But rather than belonging to two warring families, these star-crossed lovers are from the co-existing future worlds of magic and science. Their destines are revealed to us only after we watch them grow from adolescence to adulthood.

As a child, Patricia knew she was different from other children when she discovered she could talk to birds. Similarly Laurence knew he was different when he invented a wristwatch time machine that transported him a few seconds into the future.
These two young outcasts become friends at school, eating their lunch together away from the other kids.

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