“An Agent in Place,” by Robert Littell, or Another Spy Writer for Me to Track

I like a good spy novel, so when I found this book at a used-book store for a couple of bucks, I took a shot. I am glad I did. Set in the Soviet Union in the days of glasnost, the plot pits cold warriors in the United States and Russia against one another because, … Continue reading “An Agent in Place,” by Robert Littell, or Another Spy Writer for Me to Track

“The Secret Life of Anna Blanc,” by Jennifer Kincheloe

It is 1907 Los Angeles, and someone is killing prostitutes. It is not a series of crimes anyone seems eager to acknowledge, let alone solve. Everyone seems happy to suppose the deaths are all suicides. No, if anyone is going to get to the bottom of this case, it will be Anna Blanc, a ravishing … Continue reading “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc,” by Jennifer Kincheloe

“The Spartan Dagger,” terrific historical fiction by Nicholas Guild

In the 4th century B.C., a few moments of violence set two young men on a collision course with one another. One, a Helot slave with much to avenge, escapes to join the Thebans who would throw off Spartan rule. The other, a Spartan, will move up in the ranks of  diplomacy while seeking to … Continue reading “The Spartan Dagger,” terrific historical fiction by Nicholas Guild

“A Head Full of Ghosts,” by Paul Tremblay

At once an old-fashioned demonic possession story and a highly modern disruption of the genre, this book started off as a slow build and ramped up to a real page-turner. The characters seem very, very real, and the plot kept me wondering what was really, really happening all the while. I love the way the … Continue reading “A Head Full of Ghosts,” by Paul Tremblay

“The Saint in New York,” by Leslie Charteris, or Is This The Greatest Wish-Fulfillment Character in Fiction?

A while back I reviewed a gritty, realistic-feeling spy novel by John Le Carre. The book I am discussing today is the precise polar opposite. I speak of "The Saint in New York," part of a long-running, very popular fiction series by Leslie Charteris. The series began in tne 1930's, encompasses dozens of books and … Continue reading “The Saint in New York,” by Leslie Charteris, or Is This The Greatest Wish-Fulfillment Character in Fiction?

“Blood Ties,” by Nicholas Guild, or “Why isn’t this book a movie yet?”

This is an outstanding blend of police procedural/thriller and, honestly, a love story. Guild's strengths are his characters and his rock solid prose. He has the knack of creating very believable protagonists and supporting characters ... and then putting them through hell in a way that keeps you turning pages.  He also describes violent things … Continue reading “Blood Ties,” by Nicholas Guild, or “Why isn’t this book a movie yet?”

“The Devil All The Time” by Donald Ray Pollock, or Good Lord, this is a bleak and depressing book …

I am going to buck the trends, and not join those who love this book. There is much to like. Pollock's prose is terrific, at times starkly poetic. The images are concise, and cutting, and won't leave your head anytime soon. The man certainly can write. And yet ... Damn, this is a depressing read. … Continue reading “The Devil All The Time” by Donald Ray Pollock, or Good Lord, this is a bleak and depressing book …