“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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“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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“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 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. …

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“Jezebel’s Daughter,” by Wilkie Collins: Murder and mystery the old-fashioned way

No one today writes crime novels the way Wilkie Collins did, nor should they. Collins, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, is best known for atmospheric works such as "The Moonstone" and "The Woman in White," but he wrote many, many more novels than those two. When I find myself in the mood for a good …

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“Pirate Latitudes” reviewed, or how I wish Crichton had given this one a heavy rewrite

"Pirate Latitudes" was written early on in Michael Crichton's quest to become a famed novelist. It was put away while he built his reputation and fortune with works such as "Jurassic Park," "Eaters of the Dead," "The Andromeda Strain" and others.  It was dug up after his death, like a buried treasure, and published.    …

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