Little Elvises

littleelvisJunior Bender is a career criminal. He’s also a detective but he only works for other criminals. So when the cops want him to work on a case, well, they have to use a little leverage. And one Detective DiGaudio knows how to do that. He threatens to frame Junior for a crime he didn’t commit, but will let him go if Junior investigates the strange case of one Vincent DiGaudio. Yes, it’s the cop’s uncle.

But an uncle who was involved in the music business in Philadelphia in the Fifties, a guy who set up young men to be singing superstars (the LITTLE ELVISES of the title in this book by Timothy Hallinan), all of whom flamed out after one (or maybe even fewer) hits. And oh definitely yes, Vincent DiGaudio is shall we say, connected.

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You Know Who Killed Me

youknowwhoFans of the traditional hard-boiled private detective mystery have Loren D. Estleman to thank for carrying on the tradition with his consistently fine Amos Walker series. Walker, cast from the mold created by Hammett’s Sam Spade and Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, is as cynical and resourceful as his predecessors, but he’s no relic. As YOU KNOW WHO KILLED ME – Estleman’s 24th title of the series – proves, Walker is a man of his time.

Walker’s addiction to prescription pain-killing drugs and booze lands him a stint in a rehab clinic as the novel opens. Then, shortly after returning to his Detroit office he is contacted by the sheriff of Iroquois Heights to assist in a murder investigation.

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The Final Silence

finalsilenceSince the publication of his debut novel, THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (2009), Ireland’s Stuart Neville has become one of the most acclaimed crime authors on both sides of the pond. After a brief venture into history-based crime in last year’s RATLINES, Neville returns to contemporary Belfast and Jack Lennon, a character from his earlier works.
 
THE FINAL SILENCE is another triumph for Neville and a story that holds our attention not only because of its mystery but also thanks to its cast of intriguing and deeply conflicted characters.

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The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

deadvaultedThe delightful not-quite-twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is once again on the case in Alan Bradley’s THE DEAD IN THEIR VAULTED ARCHES, the sixth in the series featuring the irrepressible Ms. de Luce and her eccentric, scatterbrained family. Set in a bucolic England of the early 1950s, the de Luces get into significant trouble, discovering murder and other nefarious deeds in their little town of Bishop’s Lacey.

This time around, the story starts on a different tack. For you see, Harriet de Luce is coming home. Flavia’s mother, Harriet, has been missing for a number of years, lost during a Himalayan climbing accident. But her body has now been found and she is being returned by train to Bishop’s Lacey for burial. Even the vaunted Winston Churchill is on hand to pay his respects as the train comes into the station.

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BULLETS, BROADS, BLACKMAIL & BOMBS >> Set Break

secret6bullets broads blackmail and bombsSo did you get my little joke I was doing. What do you mean you don’t get it. Well if you go back a few columns starting with ‘Mexicali Blues’ it might dawn on some. I had myself a little idea. To use Grateful Dead song titles as my column titles. Now I did give myself some rules. I could not use the super obvious ones – Truckin’ or Touch of Grey would have been Dead giveaways. Also as much as I would have loved to use certain titles they had to actually fit and work. So sadly there is no China Cat Sunflower, Sugaree or Stella Blue.

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Operation Napoleon

operationnapoleonIcelandic author Arnaldur Indriđason’s OPERATION NAPOLEON is very much different from the other book I’ve read of his, THE DRAINING LAKE, which I reviewed here earlier at Bookgasm. Whereas THE DRAINING LAKE was a taut and thoughtful police procedural, OPERATION NAPOLEON is a full-bore thriller, complete with a downed Nazi plane, an intrepid but foolhardy woman who gets in way over her head during an investigation, lots of dead people, and a red herring-filled plotline that frankly, doesn’t disappoint at all.

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The Secret History of Wonder Woman

secretWWWonder Woman holds a special place in the history of comic books. Aside from Superman and Batman, no comic book superhero has lasted as long or had as wide and passionate a following. She is without question the most popular female superhero of all time. Still while the character’s origins as an Amazon Princess may be well known, little has been documented about the creation of Wonder Woman.
 
That’s changed, thanks to Jill Lepore, a Harvard professor of American history and staff writer for The New Yorker, and THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN, her fascinating book devoted to the creation and creator of the superhero.

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Die Easy

dieeasyDIE EASY, Zoë Sharp’s tenth novel featuring close protection specialist (bodyguard) Charlie Fox, is the first I’ve read in the series but it looks like I’ve missed quite a bit of action. The opening few pages discuss Fox and her partner Sean Meyer. Apparently, Meyer has been through the wringer, having been shot in the head, and his recovery, while exemplary, has some disturbing gaps. He doesn’t seem to remember the last four years he spent with Fox as lovers, and instead, tends to think of her as some sort of scheming liar. Hmmm.

So neither really trusts the other, which is problematic as they are both assigned to bodyguard work at some kind of post-Katrina charitable function. Their client, Blake Dyer, seems affable enough and no one’s really expecting trouble, but trouble comes a-callin’ anyway.

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Watching the Dark

watchingdarkDetective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is once again on the prowl in the Yorkshire Dales in Peter Robinson’s WATCHING THE DARK, the twenty-first (or twentieth if you don’t count short stories) entry in the Banks series. This time, Banks is called to the scene at St. Peter’s Police Treatment Centre, a hospital that caters to law enforcement personnel who are recuperating from injuries received on the job.

Unfortunately, this time, the recuperation has ended rather spectacularly for one Detective Inspector Bill Quinn. A resident of the centre, he is found by the hospital pond, bent over double, a crossbow bolt shot through his heart. Banks begins to look into Quinn’s past and discovers some oddities, including compromising photos of Quinn with a very young, very beautiful woman.

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BULLETS, BROADS, BLACKMAIL & BOMBS >> Dark Star

manning1bullets broads blackmail and bombsRocket number nine ready for blast off. Are you ready to take a trip in my rocket ship. Space is the place this time in Bullets and Broads land. Be it a seriously retro trip, or a voyage in a famous blue box. Or maybe a very sexy vistor to our planet. These tales are definitely different from one another. So strap on your rocket packs as we peruse the skies for aliens and other goodies.

ONCE UPON A STAR: THE ADVENTURES OF MANNING DRACO, VOLUME 1 (2013) – Kendell Foster Crossen

When I say we are going retro. I mean we are really going retro and what a way to start. This is science fiction of the old pulps. Yes thats when these stories were first published. I’m talking women shooting ray guns while wearing a mini skirt facing off alien frog men type of stories. Yes seriously old school fun.

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