Wednesday, April 30, 2008

From Les

In the Small by Michael Hague is a beautifully written and lavishly illustrated graphic novel that chronicles the lives of a group of human survivors who have to face very real dangers and challenges in a new world -- one where humanity is only six inches tall! When a mysterious cataclysmic event, "the blue flash," causes the population of the earth to shrink in size to six inches tall, suddenly humanity has the tables turned on itself: The very civilization it has created becomes its greatest obstacle to survival. Animals and the environment, which have long suffered under the rule and/or destruction of humans, are now some of their most feared enemies. Amid the confusion and turmoil, the fate of humanity lies in the hands of two strong teenagers, 18-year-old Mouse and his younger sister Beat. The siblings emerge as the most promising leaders, eventually setting out on a quest to discover the secret that could redeem this strange new world. 'In the Small' is part sci-fi, part supernatural and very 'Stephen King-esque' in its story telling style. A truly amazing debut from bestselling illustrator, Michael Hague and highly recommended. Michael Hague is one of America's most respected illustrators, best known for his popular series of children's classics which includes such favorites as The Wind in the Willows, The Velveteen Rabbit, Mother Goose, The Secret Garden and Peter Pan. He achieved further widespread recognition by illustrating William Bennett's bestselling Children's Book of Virtues.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wednesday, April 30 at 7 pm

Peter Lovesey, one of Britain’s finest mystery writers, will be signing Headhunters Wednesday, April 30 at 7 pm. He began his Diamond series in 1991 featuring the modern policeman, Peter Diamond, which has now spun off into the Henrietta Mallin mysteries. His novels have been translated into 22 languages, and ten of them have been seen on film or television. The Headhunters, published in May 2008 will be his 30th novel.
Peter Lovesey won the Gold Dagger Award with The False Inspector Dew and in 2000 joined the elite group of people awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement. His short story, Needle Match, won the 2007 Crime Writers' Association Short Story Dagger Award. And this April, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Malice Domestic Mystery Convention.
Don’t miss the chance to meet this fascinating author. As a bonus Soho press has sent us 3 bookbags which we will be raffling off during the evening.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

From Patricia

Baker, Deb, Murder Talks Turkey(Midnight Ink, $14) May, pbo. denizons of Michigan's Upper Peninsula expect turkey hunting season in April, not a credit union robbery at gunpoint. The culprit, wearing orange sneakers, is shot dead in plain sight. If he couldn't have taken the money, who did? Hard for Gertie Johnson and her fellow Trouble Busters to investigate while her son the sheriff, on leave to recover from meningitis, and an invalid mother-in-law need day care. After one partner is shot, Gertie and her son are fugitives long enough to prove a prominent citizen is the perp. Turkey lore, local color and recipes are bonuses in this third of the Yooper series. Murder Passes the Buck, Murder Grins and Bears It ($14?).

Brophy, Grace. A Deadly Paradise (Soho, $24) May. The death of a retired, infamous German woman whose scandals have entertained the locals in the Umbrian town Paradiso for decades offers Inspector Alessandro Cenni the chance for a promotion and return to Perugia. To the dismay of his family, Alex took up nuts and bolts police work 20 years earlier to search for his kidnapped lover Chiara. His talented assistants, husband and wife Piero and Elena, conduct interviews and search scenes in spite of the constant friction between carabinieri and state investigators. A lead that ties the victim to the German scheme to counterfeit Britsh pound notes during WWII takes Alex to his twin brother the bishop of Urbino's palace, to the Vatican Library which still wants the Leonardo drawings back from the Germans, and to a funeral in Venice. His supervisor, the questore, demands that he arrest someone, but not one to give the politicians heartburn. Regional flavor and tradtion permeate this five course meal of a mystery. The Last Enemy ($ ).

Kimberly, Alice, The Ghost and the Femme Fatale (Berkley, $7) May, pbo. Independent bookstore owner Penelope Thornton-McClure provides book sales for the film noir festival in her small Rhode Island town. A film historian dies prior to her talk before her room at the lighthouse b & b is tossed, her laptop and notes stolen. Guest of honor Hedda Geist, once a star of noir films, links the plot to New York City in 1948 in the middle of P.I. Jack Shephard's case of the womanizing DA whose wife wants Jack to give her grounds for divorce. Jack's spirit, attached to the bookstore, takes Pen back to the 1940's to find reasons for terrorizing Hedda now. The author's immersion in film lore with lines from noir novels at the head of chapters adds authenticity to the fourth Haunted Bookshop mystery. The Ghost and Mrs. McClure, The Ghost and the Dead Deb, The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library ($7). Author writes coffee and crime series with her husband as Cleo Coyle.

Meade, Amy Patricia. Shadow Waltz (Midnight Ink, $14) March, pbo. Marjorie McClelland, mystery writer by choice, finder of lost persons by circumstance in Hartford, CT, and her fiance Creighton Ashcroft are hired to trace a missing husband whose pocket yields a key that unlocks a cellar containing a corpse. Because Marjorie just broke her engagement to the detective who gets the case, a wager between him and Creighton ensues. Her wedding plans snag on the minister's inention to enact his original crime plot in the ceremony and a menu starring deviled ham, gelatin salad and pimento cheese. But Marjorie will accept the offerings from her neighbors who have little except their pride left in 1935. Crisp, upbeat, saturated with period detail, this scenario has dialog worthy of Myrna Loy and William Powell. Million Dollar Baby, Ghost of a Chance ($14?).

Wright, Nina. Whiskey and Water (Midnight Ink, $15) May, pbo. Realtor in a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, Whiskey Mattimoe must sort out a tenant offering day care and all-night entertaining, meet the demands of a Texan wealthy from self-help books and seminars, keep at arm's length her roadtrip ex-husband ready to settle down, support her stepdaughter just moved back home with infant twins and modify the behavior of a law-breaking Afghan hound. Add the mayor who died in a previous book who seems to be alive. As potent as distilled spirits. Whiskey on the Rocks, Whiskey Striaght Up, Whiskey and Tonic ($15).

Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez return on May 16 in Sheldon Siegel’s JUDGMENT DAY

This is from author Sheldon Siegel who will be signing at the Poisoned Pen on May 20.

JUDGMENT DAY finds the ex-spouses tackling their most difficult case yet. Mike and Rosie are called in at the last minute to try to stop the execution of Nathan Fineman, a former mob lawyer who was convicted of murdering three people in the back room of Chinatown's notorious Golden Dragon Restaurant. Mike and Rosie face seemingly-insurmountable odds as they race the clock in a desperate search that takes them from squalid halls of San Quentin’s Death Row to the harsh back rooms of Chinatown to the mean streets of the teeming Tenderloin District. Their only hope is proving Fineman’s innocence—a task that looks impossible as forensics and witness accounts all point overwhelmingly toward his guilt. At the same time, Mike must also battle his own personal demons when the reputation of his deceased father—a San Francisco cop who was one of the first officers at the scene—is called into question. As the plot hurtles toward its stunning denouement, it becomes apparent that Judgment Day is approaching not only for Nate Fineman, but also for Mike’s father and for Mike and Rosie’s law firm.


In a starred review, Booklist Magazine said the following about JUDGMENT DAY: “Drug dealers, wily lawyers, crooked businessmen, and conflicted cops populate the pages of this latest in a best-selling series. A compelling cast and plenty of suspense put this one right up there with the best of Lescroart and Turow.”

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For the Aspiring Writers Among Us

Join us on Saturday, May 3 from 10:30 am – 2:30 pm at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore for a creative writing seminar taught by author Earlene Fowler. The cost of the seminar is $10 and includes refreshments.
Click on the link to read Julia Spencer-Fleming interviewing Earlene Fowler

This workshop will consist of two two-hour sessions: Creating Memorable Characters; and The Art of Rewriting. Earlene Fowler will provide detailed handouts and answer questions.

Earlene Fowler is the author of the beloved 12 book mystery series featuring Benni Harper, curator of the Folk Arts Museum and Artists Co-Op. Ealene has also written The Saddlemaker's Wife which was nominated for the Agatha Best Mystery Award.
After the workshop Earlene will be signing her new paperback, Tumbling Blocks
There is no new hardcover.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What in the world is Bouchercon?

American author, editor, and critic William Parker White, better known to most as Anthony Boucher, made countless contributions to the fields of mystery and science fiction. After beginning his career as a mystery writer at 16, Boucher went on to become a New York Times mystery critic, a host for several radio programs, and the founding editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The annual international mystery conference Bouchercon is named to honor White. This year it convenes in Baltimore:

In 2009: Indianapolis:

A comprehensive biobibliography – Marks, Jeffrey. Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography (McFarland $35 trade paperback) – places particular emphasis on the writings and edited publications that established his reputation among readers of science fiction. Several appendices include complete bibliographic citations for Boucher's novels, articles, short stories, unpublished works, reviews, radio plays, anthologies, translations, and other written works.

Ironically, this is a book with sales terms such that we can't afford to stock it, but we are happy to inform you of its May publication. McFarland's work is found in libraries and can be ordered at no discount from

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From Patrick

Ron Hansen. Exiles ($25.00 signed)

"Ron Hansen's new novel is a subtle, exquisitely crafted look at the life of visionary poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins. The book centers around the 1875 shipwreck of the German liner /The Deutchland/, in which scores of passengers, including five young nuns escaping religious persecution in Germany, were killed. Hopkins was so moved by the event that it inspired him to break a self-imposed silence and return to his true calling, poetry. Hopkins has always fascinated me, and Hansen does an amazing job of recreating his world. The young priest was conflicted throughout his short life - his desire for a quiet life of religious devotion was, he often felt, at odds with his need to express his artistic genius. Indeed, he had earlier abandoned a promising literary career at Oxford to become a Jesuit monk. Hopkins sought to create a new kind of rhyme more closely approximating the patterns of natural speech, and his mind naturally created the kind of lush metaphysical imagery that would inspire poets for generations to come. Hansen combines the recreation of a tragedy at sea from the point of view of the five young nuns with a chronicle of Hopkins's own short life of exile.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two From Patrick

Domenic Stansberry. The Ancient Rain ($25 Signed)

"Stansberry's always been a favorite of mine and his new book, the third in his excellent series featuring jaded PI Dante Mancuso is his best yet. Mancuso's buddy Bill Owens has been charged with a thirty-year old killing from back in the day when Owens was involved with a lefty political activist group that pulled all sorts of mostly benign publicity stunts. A staged bank holdup went awry, however, and an innocent bystander was killed. Now, all these years later, Mancuso has to recreate the original investigation in an attempt to clear Owen's name. As always, Stansberry's descriptions of the culture and atmosphere of San Francisco are top notch. Also, if you've never read his very fine Edgar-nominated stand-alone, The Confession, don't miss it. It's one of the finest seedy psychologist novels I've ever read."

John Shannon. The Devils of Bakersfield ($25 Signed)

"Regular /Booknews/ readers have been listening to me sing the praises of John Shannon's beautifully written Jack Liffey series for nearly a decade, and I continue to insist that these books are modern classics of Los Angeles crime fiction. Finally, some of Shannon's early books are coming back into print, including the first Liffey, The Concrete River. Through ten books now, Shannon has taken his PI and single-father Liffey systematically through different cultural enclaves of LA. Now he turns his attention to Bakersfield, where Liffey and his pregnant eighteen year-old daughter Maeve have escaped for a weekend trip. The Liffeys walk into a political climate that borders on the hysterical. A long-established evangelical group has targeted teenage girls as potential satanists and it isn't long before Maeve is falsely arrested and thrown into the volatile brew."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lessons I Learned in a Trash Can

Author Jane K. Cleland sent this one in. You can meet her at the Poisoned Pen on May 8 at 2. She will be signing her new mystery Antiques to Die For. The Discussion will be followed by Afternoon Tea at Casa del Encanto.

The first time I spoke in public professionally, I fell upside down in trash can. There were seventy-six people in the room. This is true.

Trash_can I was walking backwards up the center aisle in a hotel’s meeting room holding an example of excellent graphic design high above my head when I ran into the oversized garbage can that one of the hotel workers had forgotten to remove after the noontime refresh. I was wearing a skirt and high heels and I hit the trash can at just the right place to tiddlewink myself into the can head first.

I recall the moment well.

My first thought was for my hair. I have baby fine hair that’s hard to style and all I could think of was how awful and unprofessional I’d look once I got out of the trash can. My second thought was for my suit. It was a soft gray wool suit, the first I’d ever bought and the only one I owned. I had another seminar scheduled in Dayton the next day. What would I do, I wondered, if I couldn’t salvage my suit? My third thought was for my carefully mounted example which had frisbeed somewhere to my left as I’d flipped upside down. It was a really, really great example of an important principle relating to eye path in design and now, as far as I knew, it was gone. How could I make the points I needed to make without it? How could I possibly replace it by the time I got to Dayton?

Time seemed to stand still. Truly, I have no idea if this nightmare lasted seconds or minutes or even longer. At first, I thought I could handle the situation with aplomb.

Then, as panic set in, I stopped thinking. I suddenly realized the true horror of my situation. I was upside down in a trash can with no hope of getting out.

People weren’t laughing, but I didn’t take this to be good news. I figured they were stunned, and thus silent; mortified, and therefore ignoring the situation; or so embarrassed on my behalf there was no comment worth making. I decided to stay in the trash can until every single one of those seventy-six participants left the room. I figured that eventually someone from the hotel would arrive and haul me out and I could skulk away, never to return.

Two men seated nearby approached the can, peered down, and with a quiet “you take the thigh, I’ll take the hip,” hoisted me out and set me upright. They stepped back. I smiled and thanked them politely. Then I thought of my hair and my suit. The trash can was filled with dry goods: discarded newspapers, crumpled napkins, and unwanted advertising flyers, that sort of thing. This was good news. My naturally buoyant optimism leapt forth as I realized that I wouldn’t have to worry about clumps of cherry Danish matting my hair or staining my skirt. It was my lucky day—I’d fallen into the dry goods trash can. Can you imagine how awful it would be to do a header into the discarded coffee bin?

During those first few seconds of recovery, I had the presence of mind to thank my rescuers, smile broadly as if everyone knew this was nothing more than a really clever goof on Jane and they should therefore relax and share the joke, and accept the offering of my beloved, nicely mounted example of excellent design from the woman six rows back who assured me that the bruise she’d received when it struck her shoulder would soon fade from memory. I went on with enormous (if I do say so myself) savoir faire. The seminar was a success.

Which goes to show you that sometimes things that start out bad can end up good. My protagonist, Josie Prescott, for example, got chased out of her high-powered New York City Rockypointjettyjan job because she was the whistle blower in a price-fixing scandal, and she ends up owning her own company in beautiful, business-friendly New Hampshire.

The trick is not to panic and to show grace under pressure. Remember that the next time you fall into a trash can.

I love speaking to readers and writers—and I’m fearless. Bring on the trash can! If you’re hosting an event, I’d love to deliver a keynote address. I have speeches on Killer Antiques, Finding Stolen Art: A Detective Takes on the Nazis, and Behind the Writer’s Veil. Please contact me directly.

So, tell me, have you have fallen into a trash can lately? I welcome your comments.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Magical Book

Goldstein, Lisa. Red Magician (Scarscape $5.99). On the eve of the Second World War, a young, red-haired magician who calls himself Vorős arrives in a small Hungarian village prophesying disaster. Like Cassandra, he finds no one believes him, no one except 13-year-old Kiesi. She tries to warn the villagers, but the local rabbi, also possessed of magical powers, frustrates the child and the Red Magician. Then the Nazis descend and send everyone in the village to concentration camps, including Kiesi and her family. Can the power of the Red Magician help?

This novel "turns the hidden world of Eastern European Jews during the 1940s into a world of wonders, then transcends the Holocaust with a magical optimism," writes The New York Times Book Review.

Patrick's Book of the Week

Kent Harrington (signed book $35). The Good Physician.

"Collin Reaves is an idealistic young American doctor who refuses to take the easy route followed by his fellow med students. Specializing in tropical diseases, young Reaves makes a name for himself in Third World countries, treating and living among the poor. The CIA takes notices of Reaves infectious energy, and of his multilingual abilities, and hires him immediately.

Eager to help where needed, Reaves is disillusioned when he is assigned to treat the STDs of a Kuwaiti emir's private harem, and later to assist American tourists on vacation in Mexico. Enter Alex Law, veteran CIA operative (and protagonist of Harrington's earlier epic, The American Boys OP sadly) and known for his extreme but successful interrogation tactics. Law is in Mexico to investigate an Al Quaeda cell that is allegedly planning to smuggle a "dirty bomb" into the country. Finally, the "good physician" finds himself in a crisis of conscience when he discovers that the beautiful young woman that he's fallen in love with is a member of the terrorist cell herself. An important and timely look at the underbelly of the current regime's "War on Terror."

Harrington is a unique writer, whose bilingual childhood in Guatemala and the States has given him an intimate knowledge of US foreign relations in Latin America. His crime fiction combines the best of LeCarre with a distinctly noir sensibility.

The Good Physician received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mother's Day is May 11

Need a gift for Mother's Day? Would you like to treat your Mom to a wonderful surprise? We have the perfect gift for you, a gift that lasts the year though.


With this club there is no single selection. Instead we collect a member profile and match it. The monthly selection can be tailored to any taste and budget. It can be a paperback or a hardcover. Can be monthly or bimonthly. In fact there are few limitations. Selections can be from the ranks of the traditional mystery or any other genre the recipient would prefer.

This club makes a terrific gift idea: once a month a book and shipping is charged to the giver’s card and the selection is then mailed to the recipient. While most often membership is a gift, some people enroll themselves into this premier club to get a regular, hand-picked, surprise treat!

Contact or phone (888 560 9919) or (480 947-2974)
A good book makes a great gift!

Csll today!

More for Passover Reading

Greenwood, Kerry. Raisins and Almonds ($15). Can Phryne Fisher exonerate Ms. Sylvia Lee of murder without drowning in the world of Jewish politics, alchemy, poison and chicken soup? Art Deco artwork enhances a series that actually needs no embellishment.
Hellmann, Libby Fischer. A Picture of Guilt ($15). Chicago's North Shore documentary filmmaker Ellie Foreman doesn’t believe that Johnny Santoro is responsible for murder, but she can’t figure out why she believes she knows him or believes in his innocence. Does her archive footage hold the key? Lake Michigan and its water system/pumping stations add historical and engineering interest to a well wrought crime. Meet Ellie first in An Eye for Murder ($15) where a murder in modern Chicago hooks back to WWII Prague and forces Jewish Ellie to revisit much of her family's past.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

From Barbara

Newman, Sharan. The Shanghai Tunnel. Recommended by Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha's bookstore as one of April's Killer Books from Independent Mystery Booksellers. Other titles include David Levien, City of the Sun and Susan Cummins Miller, Hoodoo.

Oh, how I have missed Sharan Newman! I'm not alone - fans of her wonderful Catherine LeVendeur series are legion - and I'm also not alone in being not so sure about Newman switching her locale from 12th century France to 19th century Portland, Oregon. But I should have had a little more faith - Newman is one of the more gifted narrative storytellers writing at the moment, and her gift does not fail her in this latest, and very welcome, outing. Lots of the themes in this book will be familiar to any Newman devotee.

Emily Stratton, a recently widowed mother moving back to the States from a lifetime spent in China, is more relieved than saddened that her brutal, coarse husband Horace is dead. With her sixteen year old son, Robert, she sets up a household in Portland in the luxurious home Horace had bought and furnished before dying suddenly on the trip home. Emily is thus truly a stranger in a strange land - not only has she never lived in Portland, she's never lived in America, and she desperately misses the Chinese language, clothing and food she grew up with. The hoopskirts and corsets current in 1868 America are a puzzle to her and a decided disadvantage. As with Catherine LeVendeur, Emily is thus an insider and an outsider at the same time. Quickly introduced to both her husband's business partners and the sister and brother-in-law and nieces she has never met, Emily attempts to settle into Portland, while at the same time being disquieted at what she finds as she combs through her husband's books, to the complete dismay of his partners. When her Chinese cook is found shot to death, Emily's worries deepen, and they aren't helped by her ignorance of her son Robert's wild behavior. She thinks he's an angel - the servants know otherwise.

The mystery itself is twisty and complex - I didn't' foresee the ending and/or the ultimate villain of the piece - plus, I learned the true meaning of the term "being Shanghaied". As with the Catherine books, Newman's eye for the unjust - here the treatment of the Chinese as virtual slaves by Americans - as well as a feminist story arc for her main character, anchor the story. Emily, like Catherine, never seems an anachronism or a polemic, though, just a smart survivor. When you're finished, I would be surprised if you weren't both in floods of tears, as I was, as well as eager for the next installment.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Note From Elizabeth Zelvin

This one is from Lesa Holstine, one of the friends of the Poisoned Pen. Lesa runs her own book blog at Lesa's Book Critiques .
Elizabeth Zelvin, author of Death Will Get You Sober, has sent a note to readers today. Her mystery novel is due out Tuesday, April 15. I'm in the middle of it, and I can say she's introduced an original character to mystery fiction. Death Will Get You Sober is a book that's hard to put down. In addition, Elizabeth's short story, "Death Will Clean Your Closet," published in Murder, New York Style, has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story. That award will be presented at the Malice Domestic Conference the weekend of April 25-27. Congratulations, Liz, and thanks for the note to readers.Dear Readers, Do any of you think you have to be an alcoholic to like Death Will Get You Sober? Questions like this have been keeping me awake at night in the months before publication of my debut mystery. Although I believe that sober alcoholics and others recovering from addictions and codependency will get a big kick out of the book, the answer is not at all. In fact, the only group I’m pretty sure will not appreciate my protagonist Bruce’s journey from detox on the Bowery on Christmas Day to a future with some potential for happiness and a solved murder case are active alcoholics who have no intention of giving up the booze and resent anyone who mentions the possibility. One reason I love reading—perhaps this is true for you too—is that I get to open a window on an infinite variety of worlds that I may never enter, even some I wouldn’t want to in real life. I don’t have to have rafted down the Mississippi to appreciate Huck Finn or gone whaling on the North Atlantic to respond to the beauty and power of Moby Dick. I enjoy reading dog mysteries, for example, although—or perhaps because—I am happy never to get my face licked or have to carry a pooper scooper. What I’ve tried to do in Death Will Get You Sober is open a window on the world, not of drunks, but of recovery. Somewhere in the AA literature it refers to the process as a “moving and fascinating adventure.” I agree. In my years working in treatment programs and in my therapy practice, I’ve never ceased to marvel at how people who have lost or thrown away everything can turn their lives around. Not all of them, but some—even some on the Bowery, where Bruce’s story begins. But I didn’t want to get preachy, so I invented Bruce. I hope you’ll like Bruce as much as I do. He’s smart, funny, sexy, and under a lot of b.s. that he’s built up in years of drinking, he’s got a heart. You may also like his friends, Barbara and Jimmy. Barbara’s the world’s most codependent addictions counselor. She’s always ready to help and mind everybody’s business, especially Bruce and Jimmy’s. Her boyfriend Jimmy is Bruce’s best friend—or was from the age of 8 till 15 years before the story starts, when Jimmy got clean and sober and Bruce didn’t. Now the friendship has a second chance. Some of you may find how that works out as interesting as who’s been murdering homeless alcoholics, including Bruce’s detox buddy with the big trust fund and the unfortunate nasty streak. Read the book and find out!
You can meet Elizabeth Zelvin May 5th at 7:oo pm at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Az

Friday, April 11, 2008

Books for Passover

Chabon, Michael. Gentlemen of the Road (Ballantine $24 Signed). Don't overlook this coming-of-age fable of "Jews with Swords" which recreates 10th-century Khazaria, the fabled kingdom of wild red-haired Jews on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. The skullduggery along the Silk Road, the confidence tricks, and the attempts to put the young heir back on the throne—it's all terrific fun.

Grimbert, Philippe. Memory (SimonSchuster $20). The April Book Sense Pick: "Grimbert has crafted the most amazing novel/memoir of his life as a Jewish youth in a family struggling to survive in Paris and Lyons during World War II. His images are memorable and breathtaking: his family, the 'sporting life' of the 1930s, and the cities, especially the shops. I could not put down this beautiful book!"

Gruber, Michael. The Book of Air and Shadows ($15). Jake Mishkin, NY intellectual property lawyer, and something of a rake, gets sucked into a quest for a Shakespeare MS written in the Bard's own handwriting—and thus of incalculable value, if real. Shootouts in Queens, romance, scholarship, it's all for your inner bibliophile.

Halter, Marek. The Messiah (Toby $25). New to me is the crusade by 16th Century Jew David Reubeni, a prince from the lost Kingdom of the Jews of Chabor, to marshal support for a Jewish state in Hebron (Israel)—and at the height of the Inquisition when Sephardic Jews had been driven from Spain and Portugal to what refuges they could find. Venice settled some in its old foundry, known as the Ghetto. David arrives in 1524, acclaimed by those needing hope as the Messiah. The key to his strategy is a Judeo-Christian alliance that could counter a rising Islam. The novel, beautifully composed (translated from the French), explores his quest at European courts and alliance with Pope Clement VII while painting a marvelous portrait of Venice, the (maritime) center of Europe. The princes of the Church are compelling too. Artist Halter found the legend while researching one of his bestsellers, The Wind of the Khazars.

For the 18th Century Venetian ghetto: Beverle Graves Myers, The Painted Veil ($15).

For policing in 1990s Jerusalem, two terrific novels for crusty Chief of Police Avram Cohen in Robert Rosenberg, Crimes of the Cityand House of Guilt ($15 each).

And then there's the work of Daniel Silva and assassin Gabriel Allon, such as The Messenger ($10).

Kellerman, Jesse. The Genius (Putnam $24.95). To be Signed for us on April 17.
Look up the real story of artist Henry Darger, which prompted Jesse to write his 3rd novel. He writes: "Standing in front of Henry Darger’s drawings, wondering how a person could imagine such nauseating scenes—wondering how I could be so drawn to them—wondering if what I was looking at was art or psychopathology, the question asked itself: What if I looked at the page and saw a face I recognized?"

From this germ of an idea, we get Ethan Muller, an art dealer who is summoned to look at a staggering accumulation of drawings abandoned in a seedy apartment in one of his wealthy family's real estate developments. Ethan recognizes a face in the thousands of drawings by now elderly—and missing—Victor Cracke. Should Ethan take this output of decades and mount an exhibition of Cracke's work even if he doesn't own it? He does, and the past emerges. Cracke's art suddenly looks like evidence—but of what?

Koppel, Lily. The Red Leather Diary (Harper $24). Now here is a real-life coming of age story—for a sporting, spirited Jewish girl. Fished out of a dumpster after a passel of old steamer trunks went into a Dumpster at 98 Riverside Drive, a Manhattan pre-war building, in 2003 by young Lily of the Times Metro desk, the rumbling red diary was a gift to Florence Wolfson on her 14th birthday, August 11, 1929. She wrote in it nearly every day until she turned 19. It took Lily back into a lost New York of easy wealth, the arts, the travels of an ingénue who adored Baudelaire and Jane Austen and was sexually adventurous. Amazingly, Lily eventually finds Florence who still sparkles, is still married to her husband of 67 years (he dies before publication), and reveals more of her slice of life from her Connecticut home. To see a slide show,

May Pang signs Instamatic Karma

Instamatic Karma is a book filled with photographs from 1973-75 of May Pang and John and Julian Lennon.

“I began to think about publishing them just in the last couple of years,” Ms. Pang said. “A friend of mine kept saying, ‘You tell all these stories about John, and when you do, you say, “Wait a minute, I have a photo to go along with that!” How come we never see these photos in a book?’ So, I thought maybe it’s time to put them out. It would let people see John in that world, through my eyes. And it would get rid of that whole ‘Lost Weekend’ thing, where everyone says he was always down and looked terrible. I don’t think these photos appear that way.”
“They are personal and unique and very touching,” said Cynthia Lennon, Lennon’s first wife, who flew to New York from her home in Mallorca, Spain, to be the host of Ms. Pang’s publication party at the Cutting Room on Tuesday. Ms. Lennon got to know Ms. Pang when she escorted her son, Julian, on two of his four trips to visit his father while he was living with Ms. Pang.
“It’s lovely for me to look back, especially with Julian in these photographs,” she said. “But I’m here just because May is a good friend of mine and has been since we met.”
Ms. Pang arranged her book by subject instead of chronologically, with four chapters labeled “At Home,” “At Play,” “At Work” and “Away.”
Signed our copies of Instamatic karma are available for purchase.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Essential Mystery Lists

Editor, scholar, and mystery bookstore owner Otto Penzler published this in the New York Sun.
The Essential Mystery Lists (Poisoned Pen Press, 574 pages, $39.95), edited by Roger M. Sobin.
Here's a book that is properly titled and, if you are at all serious about the mystery genre, you need on your shelves.

Trying to tell you all that can be found between the covers would be like trying to summarize an almanac, but here are a few highlights: Edgar Allan Poe Awards - not just the winners in every category, but the nominees - as well as all the other honors presented by the Mystery Writers of America since it was founded 62 years ago.

Ditto for the Crime Writers' Association (UK), and for Australia; also, the Arthur Ellis Award for Canada.

Awards given by various magazines and conventions, such as the Agatha by the Malice Domestic Convention; the Anthony, by the Bouchercon; the Barry, by Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine and Mystery News, and, heaven help us, the Lovey Award by the Love Is Murder Conference.
"Best" lists of authors or books by such scholars and/or authors as Ellery Queen, Isaac Asimov, Robert Barnard, Jacques Barzun, Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, Tony Hillerman, Elmore Leonard, Michael Malone, Sara Paretsky, Robert B. Parker, Peter Straub, Donald E. Westlake, and Phyllis Whitney. Classic lists such as Queen's Quorum, the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone Library, MWA's top 100 mysteries of all time, etc., etc., etc. Once you to start browse in this book, it will slit the throat of any other plans you might have had.

Or to Visit the Pacific Rim

Our March Modern Firsts Pick, Jennifer Cody Epstein's The Painter from Shanghai (Norton $27 Signed) inevitably evokes Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha ($15), but I think that's a real simplification. The history of China from the last Manchus into the 20th Century, the roles of women and family, the hard-earned self-reliance that moves Pan Yuliang inside her art to an inner existence initially impossible to imagine, make this novel unique. The portraits of Shanghai and of bohemian 1920s Paris are gorgeous. It's closer to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan ($14) in conception and tone, but more modern.

Anyone who doesn't think that getting out of Shanghai ahead of the Japanese wasn't urgent, that Pan Yuliang and her husband didn't make real sacrifices under pressure, has not read Mo Hayder's hair-raising, brilliant account of the rape/siege of Nanking and its howling aftermath much later in The Devil of Nanking ($7.99).

For a different perspective on art, self-discovery, the creative process, and the impact of war, read Angela David-Gardner's moving Plum Wine ($13), a 2006 Modern Firsts Pick, set in Japan where shades of Hiroshima color everything. Among its Starred Reviews is this one from Booklist:

"Seiji, a potter, tells Barbara, a young and lonely American teaching at a Tokyo university, that it is a tradition in Japan to write about the year past as the new year begins. This practice was cherished by Michiko, a professor who befriended Barbara, and by Michiko's mother before her, as Barbara discovers after Michiko's sudden death and surprise bequest to Barbara of a wooden chest containing bottles of plum wine, one for each year from 1939 to 1966, the present, each wrapped in paper covered with writing. Unable to read Japanese, Barbara asks Seiji to translate the papers, unaware that he and Michiko are hibakusha, Hiroshima survivors. As she and Seiji embark on a painfully complicated love affair, Barbara struggles to understand the horror of what Michiko and Seiji suffered at the hands of her countrymen while her students question her about America's escalation of the war in Vietnam. Davis-Gardner's exceptionally sensitive and enveloping novel illuminates with quiet intensity, psychological suspense, and narrative grace the obdurate divide between cultures, the collision between love and war, and, most piercingly, the horrific legacy of Hiroshima. But Davis-Gardner's ravishing tale also celebrates the solace of stories, and the transcendent bonds people form under the cruelest of circumstances."

Read Epstein's novel alongside for a remarkable experience.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Håkan Nesser

Over the last few years a flood of translated books have given readers across the US a new view of foreign life and political perspectives, a view vastly different from the pictures offered by the vacation guides and travel brochures. Håkan Nesser is such an author.
Awarded the 1993 Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Prize for new authors for his novel The Wide-Meshed Net; Nesser received the best novel award in 1994 for Borkmann's Point and in 1996 for Woman with a Birthmark. In 1999 he was awarded the Crime Writers of Scandinavia's Glass Key Award for the best crime novel of the year for Carambole.

Internationally bestselling author Häkan Nesser made his U.S. debut with a riveting tale of murder, Borkmanns Point .

“Nesser has a penetrating eye for the skull beneath the skin.” —The New York Times

Reviews: “You don’t want it to end. . . . Borkmann’s Point is that rarity, a leisurely read that nevertheless keeps you on the edge of your seat. . . . A pleasure.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“Another good Swedish writer emerges, an old hand, garlanded with his country’s prizes, but only now translated into English.”
—The Times (UK)

“International bestseller Nesser makes his U.S. debut with this classy and rewarding whodunit, which won the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Prize for Best Novel in 1994…Thompson's smooth translation makes this worthy mystery readily accessible to American readers.”
—Publishers Weekly

“No reader of hard-boiled crime fiction should miss the Scandinavians, and Nesser immediately vaults to near-Mankell status. Let's hope Borkmann's Point, which won the Swedish Crime Writers' Best Novel Award for 1994, is only the first of a steady stream of Nesser imports.”
—Booklist (starred review)

This month the series continues with The Return and Hakan Nesser will be here to sign them.

Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is forced to unlock the secrets of a nearly perfect murder in this taut psychological thriller.

On a rainy April day, a body—or what is left of it—is found by a young girl. Wrapped in a blanket with no hands, feet, or head, it signals the work of a brutal, methodical killer. The victim, Leopold Verhaven, was a track star before he was convicted for killing two of his ex-lovers. He consistently proclaimed his innocence, however, and was killed on the day of his return to society. This latest murder is more than a little perplexing and Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is determined to discover the truth, even if it means taking the law into his own hands

From Publishers Weekly - The Return is a contemporary police procedural, set in his Swedish homeland, is an excellent puzzler that will remind many of the Inspector Morse series.

The series continues with the June publication of The Mind’s Eye

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Some Shocking Information From Author Leighton Gage

Leighton was recently at our store to sign his first book Blood of the Wicked.
Here is a startling article from him:
"How many fiction titles did you go through last year? For most people reading a book a year seems to be too much:
• 80% of American families didn’t buy or read a single book last year. The remaining 20% are classified as “regular readers”.
• Of all readers, only a little more than half read fiction.So, if you haven’t already done so, give yourself a pat on the back. As a “regular reader of fiction”, you’re a member of an elite group that doesn’t exceed 10% of the U.S. population. And to be “a regular reader of fiction”, you only have to read a single book a year. It gets worse. If you’re reading a book a month, you’re reading at what one scholar called a “hugely disproportionate” level. Sounds like an exaggeration, doesn’t it? Statistically, though, he’s right..."

Wow, I guess I am a book geek, and have always been one, I'm glad to say. The fact that my children also read makes me even gladder still since it seems the general population has not discovered the power of fiction. I mean, who doesn't want to be that gardener who digs up the body or the cook who trips over the corpse? On Sunday the store was packed with sci-fi fans who came from all across the state to meet their hero, Jim Butcher. Sigh, it makes me sad to think the majority has not discovered the magic of fiction...

Kate Mosse's Sepulche signed

Kate Mosse author of Labyrinth ($15) Is signing her new book Sepulchre ($26) with us on April 09. Mosse embraces history in her “fragments tossed by the tide.” Her inspiration is the poem Sépulture by Charles Baudelaire and the fragments in a tale that moves back and forth from 1891 to 2007 include composer Claude Debussy, the Vernier Tarot, the landscape of Rennes-les-Bains, not far from Rennes-le-Chateau (and the demon Asmodeus) highlighted in Dan Brown’s work. The lovely and innocent young Leonie, her enigmatic brother, Anatole, and her beautiful and frankly notorious widowed mother Marguerite, mistress of a general, a riot at the Paris premiere of Lohengrin staged by French nationalists still angered by the Franco-Prussian war, a syphilitic Victor Constant, and a vaster cast and panorama. It all devolves upon Meredith Martin, a modern woman seeking the key to her own complex legacy by researching a biography of Debussy. A big, leisurely, rich read.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Death in Venice

The Veneto on the mainland across from Venice is a beautiful area with some extraordinary architecture. While you are waiting for Donna Leon's latest novel (see below), why not visit it in its Baroque glory? The wonderful mysteries of Beverle Graves Myers depict the 18th Century Venice, past its heyday as a mercantile empire as trade has shifted to the Atlantic, but still a maritime power, a city of luxury and culture, a city loving opera. Singer Tito Amato is able to move through the strata of society easily, his passport being his golden soprano voice. So when a wealthy couple—the wife has social pretensions—decide to stage an opera in their Veneto country mansion, Tito is a principal singer in the cast.

The set-up for Iron Tongue of Midnight(Poisoned Pen $25 Signed) is thus that of an Agatha Christie country house murder: a party assembled, motives galore, a crime, a circle of suspects, alibis, and a sleuth among the guests (Tito). Myers is a great admirer of the work of Robert Barnard who you may recall wrote three mysteries centered on Mozart under the name Bernard Bastable. So there's a bit of Barnard here, too. I like the importance of the bell—hence the title and its "iron tongue."

Tito's adventures began in Interrupted Aria ($15), a book praised by Ross King and set in Venice's theaters. for me on these levels.
. The Painted Veil ($15) takes you into the city's ghetto, that old iron foundry girdled by canals where some of Europe's Jews were allowed to settle, as Tito not only solves a murder but falls in love with a rebellious daughter of the Ghetto. In Cruel Music($15), Tito is blackmailed by the Doge into joining the household of an influential Cardinal in Rome in hopes of influencing an imminent Papal election. The hold over Tito is his brother Alexander, a trader who has been illegally dealing with the Golden Porte in Istanbul (treason by Venetian law). Other series characters include Tito's sister, his friend an English painter, who evokes that whole Grand Tour concept, and rival artists.

I read the Thomas Mann novel as part of a course on the Modern Theological Novel as an undergraduate, one of the most amazing literary journeys I ever took, and side by side with an entire quarter on Goethe's Faust taught by an exceptional German scholar. While I read for entertainment, I read for style, which both German gents had in spades, and for content, for a trip inside a world I might not otherwise enter, to learn new things, to be made to think.

The work of Donna Leon, 25 years an American passionate for opera residing in Venice, works for me on these levels. Girl of His Dreams ($40, Grove Atlantic $24 May), her latest case for Commissario Guido Brunetti, a survival (so far) of the bureaucracy and politics of the city's police, takes readers out of Venice once or twice and over to the mainland, the Veneto, into the gypsy camps. A girl has died of a fall in Venice, a girl engaged in robbing a residence. Who pushed her, if anyone? Her youthful companions in crime? More to the point, and more tragically, who will miss her? Leon's mystery becomes a voice for throwaway children. One reason to admire Brunetti is that despite the necessary compromises of the job, and some cynicism, he cares.

The island of glass, Murano, is easily reached by vaporetto from the city. At one time its foundries were central to Venice's economy. Today they are aimed more at the tourist trade. For two wonderful looks at Murano today, bearing its past in mind: David Hewson, The Lizard's Bite($6.99) and Donna Leon's Through a Glass Darkly(7.99). Both are highly recommended, even better if read together.
Hewson earlier penned a today-and-then literary mystery filled with Vivaldi in Lucifer's Shadow ($14).

For an aesthete's look at modern Venice, Fulbright scholar/novelist/ university lecturer Edward Sklepowich's Frail Barrier
(Severn $28), latest for literary biographer and amateur sleuth Urbino Macintyre and his dear friend Barbara, the Countessa Capo-Zendrini,

And for a truly chilling look at Venice's World War II history, you cannot do better than Joseph Kanon's espionage gem Alibi($14) and its record of betrayals. Kanon, like Alan Furst, has a genius for recreating the era and a grasp of its politics, ideals tarnished and bright, loyalties and agendas, that truly make you feel like a citizen of the time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Mo Hayder's new book Ritual

When police diver, Flea Marley, discovers a severed human hand in Bristol's floating harbor she joining forces with DI Jack Caffrey, (Hayder’s character from Birdman and The Treatment) recently seconded to the Major Crime Investigation unit. Jack is still attempting to come to terms with the murder of his young brother, by a neighborhood pedophile. The severed hands are those of a young heroin addict who has recently gone missing from the Bristol drugs scene and it appears that they were removed while he was still alive. Jack and Flea form an uneasy alliance, and delve into a an investigation that lead them into Bristol’s underworld, where drug addiction is rampant, where street-kids sell themselves for a hit, and where an ancient evil prowls the night feeding off the fear and flesh of others.

Ritual ($42)is the opening novel in Mo Hayder’s Walking Man

Jim Butcher Signing Small Favor, Dresden Files Book 10

Sunday April 6th at 2 pm
Jim Butcher Signing Small Favor , Dresden Files Book 10 Butcher pits Harry Dresden, a Philip Marlowe for today (OK, think Buffy the Vampire Slayer a bit), against a nightmarish foe. It’s all thanks to Harry’s debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness. She’s calling in her marker for just one small favor….

Jim says, "Small Favor. Because, y'know, Harry still owes two."

No one's tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.

An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she's calling in her marker. It's a small favor he can't that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills-and loyalties-to their very limits.

It figures. Everything was going too well to last...

This is a new Hardcover from Roc publishing, April 1st, 2008.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Murder in the Modern West

McManus, Patrick. Avalanche (SimonSchuster $14).

Humorist McManus stole all our hearts with The Blight Way ($14), a romp filled with quirky characters, ready and rowdy wit, and a cast who made perfect foils for an outrageous plot. Sheriff Bo Tully, his father and predecessor in office Pap, can't really draw a line between the good guys and the not so good in Blight County, Idaho. Nor can they observe the niceties of police procedure, especially when a body turns up at the ranch of a family of ex-cons.

PW noted that "behind his hayseed cop exterior, Bo is smart, sneaky and relentless. Add lots of quirky suspects, criss-crossing motives and artery-clogging meals at Dave's House of Fry, and McManus delivers a brisk, hilarious smalltown cop mystery."

Avalanche is more a confederacy of dunces than a whodunit. Bo goes up against frat boys, and old flame, and a batch of blue bloods when all of them are trapped in a remote mountain lodge by an avalanche. Their cabin fever makes solving the murder of a fellow guest a welcome distraction….

Miller, Susan Cummins. Hoodoo (Texas Tech $25 Signed April 4).

The history of Geronimo and the Apaches of the Chiricahua mountains is a major trope in a novel that plays nicely off Massai Point and the special geology – the hoodoos – of this part of Arizona, and the Masaii tribe in Africa. Together, they form an unusual, imaginative spine for the story. It all begins on a geology class field trip conducted by MacFarlane.

Miller, who holds degrees in history, anthropology, and geology, and an M.S. in Geology, is a favorite with me and will appeal to readers of Sarah Andrews and Nevada Barr and Sandi Ault as well as Michael McGarrity and Elizabeth Gunn. And in Hoodoo, Tony Hillerman.

Frankie's crimesolving in Quarry ($7.99) won Miller the Turquoise Award, and a Gold Award from Foreword Magazine, plus it was a 2007 Finalist for the Willa Award.