“The Galton Case,” by Ross Macdonald: A dirty, dirty job for Lew Archer

An extremely rich woman wants Lew Archer to find her long-lost son, in hopes she can make amends before she dies.It sounds like the coldest of cold cases, but things heat up soon enough. Macdonald's hard-boiled tale is one of those in which each mystery solved reveals another mystery behind it. Lies, murder, despair abound. …

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“One True Sentence,” by Craig McDonald: Murder and sex in the City of Lights

Looking for a riveting stew of murder, sex, history and literature? "One True Sentence," by Craig McDonald, offers that and a lot more. The novel, part of a series featuring writer Hector Lassiter, is set in Paris during the 1920s. Lassiter, who writes stories for crime magazine Black Mask while pondering more literary ambitions, is …

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How Pirate Batman rescued me from a book title problem

So ... while working on the Spider John historical mysteries, I have been working on another potential series as well -- a modern-day crime series set in a fictional Ohio county. And I had a title for the work in progress on that second series. I was going to call it "Powder Keg," as the …

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“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 …

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“The Only Girl in the Game,” by John D. MacDonald, proof that there is more to this author than Travis McGee

The first John D. MacDonald I ever read was "The Empty Copper Sea," a late entry in his series of books about Travis McGee.    I was in high school. I am long since past high school, but I remember where I was when I finished that book. It was a warm summer afternoon. I …

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