unwantedKristina Ohlsson barges into the already overcrowded world of Scandinavian detective fiction with her debut novel, UNWANTED, and it turns out she’s more than welcome. Her hardcore police procedural featuring uncompromising and prickly investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman and the team of Stockholm police detectives is suitably gritty, dynamic and enthralling from page one to the end.

On a train ride from Gothenburg to Stockholm, a woman gets off at a station, leaving her little girl on the train. She’ll only be gone a moment. But she is delayed, misses the train, and is forced to call ahead to make sure her child will be okay.

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Before the Poison

beforepoisonPeter Robinson is perhaps best known for his layered, thoughtful series of mystery novels featuring Yorkshire Inspector Alan Banks. But BEFORE THE POISON is a one-off, stand-alone novel that truly does stand on its own and showcases the author’s strengths.

Film score composer Chris Lowndes loves what he does and is fairly well-off, but the recent death of his wife has him missing the dreary weather of Yorkshire, so he decides to return to England. He buys a large secluded home in the countryside, and plans to spend some time relaxing, thinking and working on his music compositions as he heals emotionally.

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All I Did Was Shoot My Man

allididThis fourth entry in Walter Mosley’s Leonid McGill series is now available in paperback from New American Library. So if you missed ALL I DID WAS SHOOT MY MAN when it was first published, now’s your chance to catch up. But even if you haven’t followed this series, this latest title is worth reading simply because it is without question the best of the series to date and among Mosley’s finest works.

New York-based private investigator Leonid McGill is hired by a high-profile lawyer to meet Zella Grisham on the day she is released from prison. Eight years ago, Zella shot her boyfriend when she came home and caught him in bed with another woman.

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Fear Collector

fearcollectorAs I read Gregg Olsen’s serial-killer mystery-thriller FEAR COLLECTOR, I kept picturing a time machine. Some kind of small cylindrical device speckled with diodes and shiny doo-dads, dry ice fogging the air around it. I pictured carefully twisting the handle at the top, and pulling from the larger unit a small pod, in which I would place this novel.

I would set the chronometer for June 1987. And in June, 1987, younger me would notice the fog outside my dorm room and investigate. I would scrape the frost off of the cover and pull the paperback from the machine. And as I began reading, I would likely cluck my tongue with a “Well now, what’s this?,” sucked in by the psychosocial noodlings about what makes a serial killer tick and intrigued by the mash-up of historical crimes with a complicated current-day puzzle.

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Hunting Sweetie Rose

huntingsweetieroseThis may have been my first Jack Fredrickson book, but it probably won’t be my last. HUNTING SWEETIE ROSE is the third in Fredrickson’s series featuring sometime investigator and full-time cynic Vlodek “Dek” Elstrom. He lives in a municipal turret, temporarily zoned residential, on the outskirts of Chicago in a place called Rivertown, rife with corruption and over-the-top situations.

For instance, one of Rivertown’s elders is being investigated for selling stale salad oil in bottles that had their labels falsified. Oh, and then there’s the case of the clown prancing around with his balloons on a rooftop, delighting all the passersby, until he leans out too far, his safety rope comes undone, and there’s one less clown in the world.

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The Cinema of Cruelty: From Buñuel to Hitchcock

cinemacrueltyMy introduction to vaulted film critic André Bazin, co-founder of the influential and revolutionary CAHIERS DU CINÉMA, arrived as yours should: via THE CINEMA OF CRUELTY, Arcade Publishing’s trade-paperback reprint of the 1975 text collected and edited by François Truffaut, who knew something about the medium himself.

Both Frenchmen, the director and his subject were unofficial members of a mutual appreciation society, but CRUELTY finds Bazin, who died in 1958 at the age of 40, discussing six other legendary filmmakers: Erich von Stroheim, Carl Dreyer, Preston Sturges, Luis Buñuel, Akira Kurosawa and Alfred Hitchcock.

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The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece

ladymonstersEven those who’ve never read Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN know not only its story, but the story behind the story: the dark and stormy night on which the idea was born.

In THE LADY AND HER MONSTERS, Emerson College literature professor Roseanne Montillo backs up one level further, telling the story behind the story behind the story — in other words, the then-novel scientific advances that sparked Shelley’s creative outlet. Without the work of these people, the modern prometheus might never have lived.

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generationsAny new work from long-renowned author and screenwriter Richard Matheson is cause for interest and excitement. The fact that Gauntlet Press promotes GENERATIONS as “an autobiographical novel” raises the anticipation bar even higher, as his body of work has yet to include an autobiography. None of his novels, short stories or screenplays (or interviews, for that matter) tells us much about his formative years.

Unfortunately, neither does GENERATIONS, and that is one of several curious and unsatisfying characteristics of this latest work.

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The Wrecking Crew

wreckingcrewContinuing with its massive reissue campaign of the Matt Helm series, Titan Books follows up DEATH OF A CITIZEN with 1960’s THE WRECKING CREW, the second in Donald Hamilton’s series.

A year has passed since the events of CITIZEN, and readers will not be shocked by the turn of events: that, of course, Helm is separated from his wife because of what happened. Throughout this sequel, Hamilton makes very brief mentions about some of those events. All of these mentions are important since Helm is explaining that he is a man of action and not one to sit idly by. After a refresher course of sorts, Helm is sent on a mission to Sweden to track and kill a man named Caselius.

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The Six-Gun Tarot

sixguntarotWe open on young Jim Negrey, near death and sun-dried in the Nevada desert in 1869. He and his horse, Promise, stumble along — Jim murmuring platitudes to the spooked animal and flashing back to that what he done run from.

We’ve seen this film, right? He’ll come upon a town, a town with a stark contest between good folks and bad guys. And he’ll earn the grudging respect of the sheriff, and after a series of escalating conflicts the big showdown will come. Guns will pop, villains will fall.

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