To Fetch a Thief

Spencer Quinn pens his third Chet and Bernie mystery in TO FETCH A THIEF, an able sequel to the first two best-sellers, DOG ON IT and THEREBY HANGS A TAIL. Bernie Little is the head of Little Detective Agency, and Chet is his 100-pound-plus goofball of a canine partner, and it is through his point of view that the novel is written.

This gimmick, while a favorite of a number of recent authors, is perhaps best mastered by Quinn. We may never know how much or of what a dog really thinks, but for dog lovers, Quinn seems to get it right with the happy-go-lucky attitude, the attention deficit, the sheer excitement of a squirrel chase, the enjoyment of tastes and smells, and the confusion at what must seem to be very odd human behaviors.

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Every Shallow Cut

A glimpse into a life that has hit rock-bottom sums up EVERY SHALLOW CUT, a bite-sized read from the reliable Tom Piccirilli. Our narrator is nameless, but we know he is a writer whose career has hit the skids when he talks about how his first book was no best-seller, and the subsequent books sold even less. His last royalty check, for $12, sits in his wallet, and we find him selling off all his goods to a pawn shop.

How can things get any worse? Well, there is the gang of kids who promptly stomp him and beat his dog. Our narrator then promptly goes back into the shop to buy a gun, for reasons he keeps to himself. As you can see, this is not what you would call the feel-good read of 2011.

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No Hero

Creepy twin girls, a secret government agency, monsters, aliens, a sword-wielding redhead and the magic wars of the 1970s. Have I got your attention yet? If so, you are about to enter the world of NO HERO, with a tagline of “What would Kurt Russell do?” An amalgam of science fiction and cop drama, this debut novel from Jonathan Wood is sure to please the BOOKGASM crowd, and with its eye-catching cover, it only gets weirder.

Arthur Wallace, an Oxford police detective on the trail of a serial killer, stumbles into a world he never knew existed: the agency referred to as only MI37. Think of it as a literary TORCHWOOD, minus all the sex and DOCTOR WHO references. The killer he has been tracking down all these months is actually a member of the group, whose members have been fighting the tentacled monsters known as the Progeny.

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The Fall

In THE STRAIN, the first book of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s “vampires reimagined” horror trilogy, New York and its surrounds were consumed by zombie-like, stingers-that-can-shoot-out-of-their-throats monsters commanded by a mysterious master over the course of a week. Now in paperback, the second novel, THE FALL, picks up where we left off, with our previously independent protagonists finally banded together, and the new vampire race slowly gaining intelligence.

In the wake of STRAIN’s down ending, our fearless vampire hunters — government epidemiologists Eph Goodweather and Nora Martinez; New York exterminator Vasiliy Fet; and would-be Van Helsing Abe Setrakian, whose history with these monsters dates to his childhood — are holed up in Setrakian’s well-fortified building, planning their next steps and trying to determine what the monsters will get up to next.

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The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 3

This is only the third BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR anthology from San Francisco’s Night Shade Books, but don’t let that low number dissuade you. Ellen Datlow, as many readers know, is one of the most skilled and prolific editors covering the field today, with more than 50 collections and dozens of Hugos, Stoker, Locus and other awards to her name.
 
Even if this is the first “best of” book you’ve ever encountered of hers, you can’t help but be impressed with Datlow’s knowledge of the many publishing sources — both major and esoteric — as well as the diversity of styles and subjects that fall under the horror category.

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BOOK WHORE >> 6.28.11

book whoreShe’s back each Tuesday, pimpin’ out notable new releases to place on your radar, so let the tempting plot descriptions begin!

THE 34TH DEGREE by Thomas Greanias — 1943: The supernatural alchemy for the ultimate weapon, encoded in an ancient biblical text, has fallen into the hands of the most ruthless secret society known to man: the Nazi SS. Present Day: Dishonorably discharged from the armed forces, Sam Deker is trying to build a new life in Los Angeles. But nightmares of the past continue to haunt his present, and Deker discovers that the unusual lightwave-induced torture he barely survived has changed him. The Pentagon, however, believes that change makes him the only one who can endure their top-secret neuro-simulation program known as the 34th Degree.

BIRTH OF THE KINGDOM by Jan Guillou — Exiled from his home and the woman he loves, Arn de Gotha became one of the fiercest and most feared warriors of the Knights Templar. But now that Jerusalem has been lost to the man who saved him — his longtime enemy and trusted friend, Saladin — the weary nobleman, ravaged by wounds and illness, can finally return to his beloved Sweden. During his 20 years of exile, warring clans have torn Arn’s homeland apart. Determined to reunite it, he sets off with a band of skilled craftsmen and doctors from the Holy Land whose talents and knowledge are unknown to the northern world.

THE COLLECTIVE by Jack Rogan — In a quiet community outside Fort Myers, Fla., a home invasion and murder draw a crowd of feds. No one is aware that this killing is part of a vast, chilling conspiracy. After all, the victims were just an ordinary family. Former FBI agents Josh Hart and Rachael Voss spearhead the investigation, following a trail of seemingly accidental deaths. Then, in a tranquil Boston suburb, someone comes after the 7-month-old daughter of Gulf War vet Caitlin McCandless. Cait has combat training and knowledge of a shocking secret — and she’ll need both to save her daughter’s life.

THE GENESIS KEY by James Barney — More than three decades ago, Dr. Kathleen Sainsbury’s archaeologist parents were murdered at an ancient excavation site in Iraq. Now the gifted biologist stands on the brink of a miraculous breakthrough: the discovery of a gene that could extend a human life by hundreds of years. But at the moment of her greatest triumph, a mysterious phone call reveals a hidden truth that draws chaos and violence once again into Kathleen’s world … and threatens to irreversibly alter the destiny of humankind.

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN by Chad Kultgen — Kultgen explores the sexual pressures at work on a handful of troubled, conflicted junior-high students and their equally dysfunctional parents. From porn-surfing fathers to WORLD OF WARCRAFT-obsessed sons, from competitive cheerleaders to their dissatisfied, misguided mothers, Kultgen clicks open the emotionally treacherous culture in which we live.

Buy them at Amazon.

Fun & Games

There’s reason to believe that the world is finally taking notice of Duane Swierczynski. His last novel, EXPIRATION DATE, earned an Edgar nomination for Best Original Paperback. For the last few years, he’s been an energetic narrative light at Marvel Comics (Cable, The Punisher, Deadpool and others), while also writing short stories (included in PHILADELPHIA NOIR and recently the ebook anthology tie-in to the new video game L.A. NOIRE) and thoroughly entertaining, sometimes genre-splicing crime novels (THE BLONDE, SEVERANCE PACKAGE and others).

Now he’s among the impressive list of authors helping to launch the Mulholland Books imprint with his latest, FUN & GAMES, the first in a shortly forthcoming trilogy. It’s a killer of a novel, and perhaps his best to date.

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Might as Well Face It: You’re Addicted to Video Games

Drs. Scott Rigby and Richard M. Ryan’s GLUED TO GAMES: HOW VIDEO GAMES DRAW US IN AND HOLD US SPELLBOUND is being touted as the first truly balanced, research-based analysis on games and gamers, addressing both the positive and negative aspects of habitual playing by drawing on significant recent studies and established motivational theory. Here, the authors discuss the five warning signs for assessing risk to game addiction.

Games are powerfully motivating of deep engagement that can last for hours on end, day after day. The first step to really understanding how to manage gaming in your life (or that of a loved one) — and to identify when there may be a problem — is understanding what is really at the root of games strong motivational pull.

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Your Weekend Flick Attack

What’s been going on at our sister site, Flick Attack, “hitting you with one random movie a day … whether you like it or not”? Here’s what you’ve missed:

• Wesley Snipes stars in the pulpy “White House whodunit” MURDER AT 1600
• Asia’s SO CLOSE is like CHARLIE’S ANGELS, except its characters “are not braying-donkey annoying”
• Going Greek with LAND OF THE MINOTAUR, starring Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence and villagers in “blue, silky KKK outfits”
• The beard-growing documentary GROWIN’ A BEARD, which “could have been, um, trimmed”
• SWIMMING POOL, a French thriller that’s only decent, “despite loads of young-French-blonde nudity”

How many more reasons do you need?

Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror

Ever since I read Jason Zinoman’s VANITY FAIR article three years ago about the horror-film revolution of the 1970s and learned it was to be expanded into a full book, I eagerly awaited the result. Now it’s here, as SHOCK VALUE: HOW A FEW ECCENTRIC OUTSIDERS GAVE US NIGHTMARES, CONQUERED HOLLYWOOD, AND INVENTED MODERN HORROR, and it did not disappoint.

This is not a history of a decade in horror, but a true narrative of how a few select films broke rules — some completely by accident — and ended up changing the face of the genre. Without intending to, the filmmakers dragged horror from its standing a hair above pornography to something lauded by AMPAS. Most of them were just out to make an honest buck.

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