Last Thursday, while subbing at the library, I came across the June 1 edition of Library Journal. As I began leafing through it, I little anticipated the revelations that would come to light: all kinds of books, soon to be published, by authors that I treasure – books that I simply had to read immediately!
Listed below are some of my felicitous gleanings, plus others that I’ve found about in other publications and online:
Crime and Suspense
Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone. In Damascus Gate, Stone’s vivid evocation of Jerusalem – beset by factions, inherently dangerous, irresistibly beautiful – has stayed with me since I first read it in 1998.
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith. A new No.1 Ladies Detective Agency novel is always cause for rejoicing. Actually, Alexander McCall Smith himself is cause for rejoicing. With his fertile imagination, ready wit, and skillfully deployed erudition, he is a priceless gift to discerning readers everywhere.
No Man’s Nightingale by Ruth Rendell. I need add nothing to that author’s name. She is, in my estimation, just plain brilliant! (And I’m eager to discover the meaning of that rather strange title.)
Eva’s Eye by Karin Fossum. This is the first title in Fossum’s Inspector Konrad Sejer series, being published here for the first time. I confess I was delighted to see that the Norwegian language titles of these novels are given on the Stop! You’re Killing Me site. In fact, one of the books is the possessor of four different titles: Elskede Poona, Calling Out for You, Beloved Poona, and The Indian Bride. As it happens, this is the book that was a finalist for the 2005 Gold Dagger Award. In a very fine series, it is a real standout. (Unless I’m mistaken, Eva’s Eye should provide a welcome chance for readers once again to spend time in the company of Kolberg, Inspector Sejer’s most excellent, not to mention most sizable, Leonberger!)
Two writers of police procedurals whose works I greatly esteem (and who could not be more different) have new series entries on offer: Play Dead, a Harpur & Iles novel by Bill James, and Three Can Keep a Secret, the latest in Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther series. One of my most sincere wishes for Gunther, a resourceful and dedicated law man, is that he should finally get lucky – permanently lucky- where affairs of the heart are concerned.
In May I wrote a capsule review of A Private Inquiry, a highly enjoyable novel of psychological suspense by Jessica Mann. The author commented graciously on the post and went on to inform me that her latest book, Dead Woman Walking, would be published in August.
The appearance of a new work by Andrew Taylor, winner of the 2009 Cartier Diamond Dagger, is always cause for rejoicing. The Scent of Death takes place in a newly born America, shortly after the Revolutionary War. The author told us about working on this novel when we saw him in England in 2011. I’m a big fan of the Lydmouth novels, sadly not in print in this country, and also of Taylor’s standalone historical novels, which are more readily available. The American Boy (alternatively entitled An Unpardonable Crime), Bleeding Heart Square, and The Anatomy of Ghosts were all excellent.
This year, the Crime Writers Association bestowed its prestigious Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award on The Scent of Death.
Children of the Revolution, a DCI Banks novel by the reliably engaging Peter Robinson, will be published in the UK next month. Not sure when it will appear here.
I’m greatly intrigued by Charles Palliser’s Rustication. I remember a period of happy immersion in Palliser’s Unburied, some years back. What is it about the Victorian era that lends itself so well to these dark and sinister tales?
Finally, those who have browsed this blog in recent weeks will know that I can’t stop singing the praises of A Dark Anatomy by Robin Blake. Set in Lancashire, England in the year 1740, this novel provides a vivid recreation of that time and place, combined with a ripping good story. I’m delighted to learn that there is a sequel due out here next month. It’s entitled Dark Waters and features once again coroner Titus Cragg and physician Luke Fidelis.
There is lots more to come in the crime fiction genre. More title and author information is available in the ‘New Hardcovers’ section of Stop! You’re Killing Me. And an even more exhaustive list can be found at Bloodstained Bookshelf.
Four Welcome Returns
Four authors whose works I’ve greatly admired in past years have new books coming out. They are:
Salley Vickers. The Other Side of You, a novel of psychoanalytic insight, was exceptionally poignant and moving. The characters were decent people trying to live meaningful lives and to avoid injuring others in the process. The title is taken from “The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot:
Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?
Salley Vickers’s new novel is called The Cleaner of Chartres.
Ann Patchett. The two novels I’ve read by Patchett – Bel Canto and State of Wonder – are among my very favorites. Patchett’s style is distinctive; her imagination, remarkable. In addition to all that, there’s the story of Parnassus Books, the Nashville book emporium she co-founded in 2010 and helped nurture to prosperity because she couldn’t stand the thought of her home town being without a bookstore.
Ann Patchett’s new novel is This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage.
Catherine O’Flynn. One day when I was in need of a book to listen to, I grabbed The News Where You Are and was instantly enchanted. In fairness, John Lee could read a phone book and make it sound like high art, but in this luminous novel, he had a real winner. It numbers among its characters Mo, one of the most appealing and believable fictional children I’ve ever encountered.
Catherine O’Flynn’s new novel is Mr. Lynch’s Holiday.
Jhumpa Lahiri. My library buddies and I have been waiting patiently – or perhaps, as of late, not so patiently – for something new from this immensely gifted writer who hit pay dirt with her first book, Interpreter of Maladies. (To Lahiri’s astonishment, this short story collection was awarded the Year 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.) Interpreter was followed by the novel The Namesake, which was in turn followed by another terrific story collection, Unaccustomed Earth.