“Blade of the Samurai,” by Susan Spann: History and Murder

Historical mysteries offer the reader a great deal.  A good mystery novel features a solid plot, unique characters and, usually, a sense of justice. But a good historical mystery offers one thing more: a chance to vicariously experience another time and place. Today's case in point is "Blade of the Samurai," by Susan Spann. Spann's …

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“Colonel Sun,” a non-Fleming Bond novel that feels right

I have always divided the literary and cinematic James Bonds in my mind. I enjoy the movies, with the mini-helicopters and automobile ejector seats and explosions, but they seem to be about some other fellow, not the brooding but dutiful man Ian Fleming wrote about in his books. Sure, the two Bonds share some traits, …

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“The Cold Cold Ground,” by Adrian McKinty

Take Ed McBain's 87th Precinct thrillers. Add first-person narrative from a smart, and funny, lead detective. Mix in a few large vodka gimlets and dark stouts, then set it all down in Ireland in 1981, when hunger strikes and protests lit a spark on the unrest fueled by political militias, gang violence and terrorism. All …

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“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 …

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M. “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 …

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Want to pre-order a pirate murder mystery? Here’s how …

At last, my novel, "The Bloody Black Flag: A Spider John Mystery," is available for pre-order from Seventh Street Books.  The release date is Sept. 12, and you will be able to walk into a book store and buy it then if you prefer.  You can order print or ebook versions. What do you get …

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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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