“The Bookseller,” by Mark Pryor: Several Books in One

Imagine a Venn diagram, with the following circles: private eye story, spy novel, cerebral mystery and police procedural. The area where all those circles intersect is where you would find "The Bookseller," by Mark Pryor. Set in Paris, the novel offers intrigue with a smattering of action, and veers through all those Venn circles mentioned …

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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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“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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