“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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“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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