silencedA woman is brutally raped. A Swedish clergyman preaches about sympathy for immigrants coming in to Sweden and is apparently murdered for his trouble. An Arabic man is found dead on the road, victim of a hit-and-run with no identification to prove his existence. A woman in Thailand is on a dangerous mission and finds that, all of a sudden, her return flight home cannot be located by the airline and someone has hacked her email account.

These little terror-filled snippets are what opens Kristina Ohlsson’s SILENCED, her second work after a rather brilliant debut in UNWANTED, which we reviewed here. Ohlsson is Nordic noir with an emphasis on the noir, her writing filled with terrible crimes and dark situations, flawed and angry characters in a harsh and uncaring world that is only brightened by the eventual solving of whatever crimes have taken place.

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Quarry’s Choice

quarrychoiceThe prolific and ever-reliable Max Allan Collins continues his series featuring professional hit man Quarry with QUARRY’S CHOICE. It’s distinguished by being an episode from Quarry’s early years, as well as by its unsettling location and the decisions Quarry is faced with as he carries out his assignment.
It is 1972. Quarry has been a killer for hire for a little over a year and is very pleased with his profession. Then one evening, following a casual business dinner, the man Quarry works for – known only as The Broker – becomes the target of drive-by shooting. Weeks later The Broker appears at Quarry’s door with a new assignment. But instead of working on behalf of an unnamed client, The Broker hires Quarry to take out the man behind the attempt on The Broker’s life.

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The Baker Street Translation

bakerstreetAfter reading John Gardner’s THE REVENGE OF MORIARTY, I was worried that Michael Robertson’s THE BAKER STREET TRANSLATION would totally indispose me to contemporary mysteries that relate, even tangentially, to Sherlock Holmes. But Robertson has found a, dare I say it, cute way to exploit the Master.

You see, his main character, barrister Reggie Heath, happens to hold offices at 221B Baker Street, London. Part of the duties that he has, as a leaseholder, is that he must answer the letters written to Sherlock Holmes by well-wishers from all over the world. Mostly it’s a chore, fulfilled by stupid form responses (Holmes is retired to bee-keeping in Sussex, don’t you know) and it’s generally all handled by Reggie’s more affable brother, Nigel. But every once in a while, one of these letters hits home, and cracks into a case.

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Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film

silverscreenfiendTruth is, every hopeless film addict has a story like comedian/actor Patton Oswalt shares in SILVER SCREEN FIEND. The difference is we’re not famous, so who wants to hear it?

Okay, okay, so Oswalt’s knack for making an anecdote as compelling as it comedic may have something to do with it, too.

Because of this, anyone who has experienced the near-orgasmic, adrenaline rush (don’t deny it) of a movie projector flickering to life as the lights fade away — along with your disbelief — will find themselves in lockstep with a kindred spirit …

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The Martini Shot

martinishotGeorge Pelecanos is among the finest contemporary crime authors working today. With 19 novels to his credit, including both series and stand-alone titles, Pelecanos has progressively blurred the line between genre and mainstream fiction.
THE MARTINI SHOT, his latest work, is his first collection of short fiction, gathered mostly from crime fiction anthologies from as early as 2002. It’s an unfortunately uneven reading experience that only occasionally shows the compassion and insight we’ve come to expect from Pelecanos.

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The Revenge of Moriarty

revengemoriartyI have never been much of a John Gardner fan. His takeover of the James Bond novels pretty much ended my interest in that character. And since I’m rather a Sherlockian purist, I’m not overly fond of his three novels that focus on Holmes’ arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty. THE REVENGE OF MORIARTY, originally published in 1975 as the second book in that series has now been re-issued by Pegasus Crime in a “celebratory hardcover edition.”

Gardner’s writing is unsophisticated, almost amateurish which may sound heretical about someone who wrote more than fifty novels, many of them best sellers. There’s no charm or beauty to his style, except for an occasional flourish where he seems to be trying for something special, only for it to fall flat among all the other undistinguished sentences. It seems like he’s trying too hard.

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A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

naturaldragonsMarie Brennan’s A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS: A MEMOIR BY LADY TRENT attempts an interesting conceit: to be written in the style of early twentieth century nature adventures. In those days, these naturalist colonialists would visit some remote part of the world and share their thoughts on the area’s wildlife, both human and non.

(Examples abound, but this gives me the opportunity to recommend Gordon MacCreagh’s WHITE WATERS AND BLACK, a raucous romp through the Amazon that will cure you of ever wanting to go on an adventure.)

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Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart

bryantbleed“I write on many subjects,” says author Christopher Fowler in the acknowledgement of his latest novel, “but keep coming back to Bryant & May because they are ridiculously good fun to write.”
That’s very encouraging assurance for long-time fans of Fowler’s unique and consistently entertaining Peculiar Crime Unit series, and also why we have BRYANT & MAY AND THE BLEEDING HEART, the 11th entry of the series. Like previous titles, this new mystery combines supernatural elements with some outrageous crimes, and uses the often arcane history of London, its home setting, as its basis – and is most highly recommended.

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Hunting Shadows

huntingshadowsStraight up, Charles Todd’s HUNTING SHADOWS, the sixteenth entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, is an excellent addition to the oeuvre, and if you love police procedurals set in Britain in the Interwar period, then you must have this (and all the other books) on your shelf. Unfortunately, this title has a flaw that can be found in other Todd books, unnecessary complication and about fifty pages too long.

For those who’ve never read a Rutledge, he’s a Scotland Yard inspector who solves crimes in and around the timeframe of the Nineteen Twenties. He is haunted by his wartime experiences, both figuratively and literally. Rutledge was forced to shoot a soldier during the war for failing to obey an order.

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airtightThe premise of David Rosenfelt’s AIRTIGHT at first left me a little uncomfortable, but the author, better known for his dog-centered series featuring lawyer Andy Carpenter, manages to make it all work in this intriguing one-off.

New Jersey cop Lucas Somers is investigating the death of Judge Daniel Brennan, a man nominated to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Brennan was stabbed horrifically 37 times. Did it have anything to do with his current cases? The cops get an anonymous tip (uh oh) that one Steven Gallagher, a man about to be sentenced for serious drug crimes, may have been the culprit.

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