Saturday, December 21, 2013

Meet Author Drew Chapman



Watch Drew Chapman discuss his new book!


Drew will be appearing at the Poisoned Pen Friday, January 10th at 7:00 PM.  Be one of his first Poisoned Pen fans!



Drew       The Ascendant Book Cover

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

JAMES L. THANE - UNTIL DEATH

In a well written and skillfully rendered police procedural James Thane fulfills the promise of his first book, "No Place to Die".  The compelling characters that we met in his first novel return and remain as vivid and fascinating as ever.  Sean, a police detective, is still recovering from his wife's death.  He is consumed by his work and his grief.  His partner Maggie, not long divorced, is in a new relationship that she is very conflicted about.  Both cops are private people and how they cope with their respective problems while maintaining a healthy working relationship makes for a dynamic reading experience.
The story concerns a date book that is lost by a female "escort".  Gina Gallagher is a personal trainer by day and a high class hooker by night.  When the men in her date book start showing up dead and threats are made to her, then Sean and Maggie start a hunt that is a race against time.
Gina is portrayed in a realistic and yet sympathetic manner.  The story ramps up quickly and becomes a page turner in the best sense.
We are presented with a twisted skein of false clues, unreliable witnesses and motives galore.
The novel is set in Scottsdale, Arizona and makes full use of this unique location.  Thane gives us a palpable feel for the place by using real locales.  We get a true sense of both the city's shape, it's people and it's life.
Any readers who like Michael Connelly and the tense urban dramas he portrays will find this book a terrific read.
James L. Thane will be appearing at the Poisoned Pen bookstore on January 14th to discuss and sign his new novel.


A Shadow Review
Steve Shadow Schwartz


For further reading in a similar vein try:
PENANCE by Daniel O'Shea


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Zip, Zing and plenty of pizazz at the Poisoned Pen!


The store continues with preparations for our 25th anniversary in 2014 with the restoration of the fabled Chinese Dragon. If you have not visited lately, stop by, shop till you drop and hear some of our plans for the big year.  We promise you a memorable event filled year in a refreshed environment. Your total experience will have zip, zing and plenty of pizazz!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Books I'm Thankful For This Year

This Thanksgiving, I'm feeling very thankful to have The Poisoned Pen in my neighborhood, and also for discovering so many new (to me) and wonderful books this year. I wanted to share a few of them with you, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.  Many of them are available in-store (and signed), or via special order.  This holiday weekend, remember to shop independent, shop local!

Happy Holidays!
Chantelle

MYSTERY/SUSPENSE/THRILLER

The Art Forger: A Novel, B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin Books, 2013)
If you liked this: Elizabeth Kostova

The Black Widow Club, Hilary Davidson (Beast Books, 2013) 
(This collection of short stories will be available in print next week - currently only in ebook format.)

Mr Churchill's Secretary, Susan Elia Macneal (Bantam, 2012)
(Three books in the series: Princess Elizabeth's Spy, His Majesty's Hope.)
If you like this: Rebecca Cantrell, Kathryn Miller Haines.

The Coroner's Lunch, Collin Cotterill (Soho Crime, 2004)
(Nine books in the Doctor Siri Paiboun mystery series.) 
If you like this: Tarquin Hall, Shamini Flint


HISTORICAL/ROMANCE

The Ashford Affair, Lauren Willig (St. Martin's Press, 2013)
If you like this: A Spear of Summer Grass, Deanna Raybourn

The Lavender Garden, Lucinda Riley (Atria Books, 2013) 
If you like this: Susanna Kearsley, Mary Stewart


YOUNG ADULT

Amber House, Kelly Moore, Larkin Reed and Tucker Reed (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013)
If you like this: Mindee Arnett, Victoria Schwab

(Six books in the Enola Holmes Mystery series: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquet, The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye.)
If you like this:  Michael Robertson (Baker Street Letters series)

The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, 2012)
(Two books in the Raven Cycle series: The Dream Thieves.)
If you like this: Sarah Rees Brennan (Lynburn Legacy series)

Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier and Anthea Bell (Henry Holt, 2011)
(Three books in The Ruby Red Trilogy: Sapphire Blue, Emerald Green.)
If you like this: Gail Carriger (Finishing School series)

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, R.L. LaFevers (HMH Books For Young Readers, 2008)
(Four books in the Theodosia series: Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris, Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus, Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh.)
If you like this: Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody series)


SCI-FI/FANTASY

Lexicon, Maxx Barry (Penguin Press, 2013)
If you like this: The Rook, Daniel O'Malley & Brilliance, Marcus Sakey (2013 favorites!)

London Falling, Paul Cornell (Tor, 2013)
If you like this: Ben Aaronovitch, Jim Butcher

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, Emily Croy Barker (Pamela Dorman Books, 2013)


MISCELLANEOUS:




Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review of The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau


Bilyeau’s first book, The Crown, brought us the determined but na├»ve Joanna Stafford, Dominican nun and daughter of a disgraced aristocratic family, during Henry VIII’s reign. In The Chalice Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries has sent a more experienced but no less stubborn Joanna out into the secular world where she’s trying to build a quiet life as a weaver of tapestries. A mysterious prophecy and those who would like to use it to further their power and political desires drag her unwittingly into a bizarre plot against the king and his plans to undermine “the true faith” in England. The most powerful people in England once again tug and pull at Joanna, alternately threatening her life (and those she loves) and courting her as an essential element to their plans. Joanna’s devotion to the Catholic Church and her abhorrence of Henry’s destruction of the cloistered life make her willing to participate to a certain extent—a dangerous vulnerability as it turns out—but she becomes entangled in acts that she never anticipated and that violate her deepest beliefs. Faith, its value, and the willingness of supposedly true believers to exploit faith for their own ends, become intriguing, multi-faceted themes in this book. Bilyeau continues from her first book the subtle, complex development of Joanna’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page. From mystical prophets to court intrigue to the challenges of romance and love amidst those who had once sworn themselves to chastity, The Chalice is writ large across England and the Continent as history and supernatural mysticism combine in this compelling thriller.

This review first appeared in The Historical Novels Review Issue 64 May 2013. 

For other reviews, information about Judith Starkston's novel, Hand of Fire, set during the Trojan War, as well as background history articles on ancient women, food, and daily life, go to JudithStarkston.com Judith can be followed on Facebook and Twitter

The Chalice can be bought online at The Poisoned Pen

Monday, November 11, 2013

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

Lamb, Wally. We Are Water Signed (Harper $29.99).
“Lamb combines complex characters and an intricate plot with an array of contemporary topics and timeless issues in this engrossing novel. A wife and mother leaves her family to pursue an artistic career and an unconventional relationship. A husband and father abruptly abandons his longtime profession as a psychologist. Their children wonder at these transformations but hide secrets of their own. As the plot develops and the narrative shifts among characters, secrets are revealed and motives become clear to the reader. Essentially, Lamb addresses the longstanding question of whether anyone can really know the truth of another person. The answer is a resounding ‘no.’”—November Indie Next Pick.

Wally Lamb and store owner Barbara Peters

Monday, November 4, 2013

Arizona Historical Novel Society News

Upcoming Dates:

book cover image Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel Poisoned Pen  February 8, 1-4 pm Shona Patel, a visual presentation on the historical backdrop of her novel Teatime for the Firefly, set in India on the Assam tea plantations.


book cover image Woman at the Well by Ann Chamberlin Poisoned PenApril 5, 1-4 pm Ann Chamberlin on a history of sex and contraception. Ann writes about the ancient Middle East, early Islam, the Ottoman Empire and Merlin. Her two most recent books are Woman at the Well and The Sword of God. 

For directions and other information about AZ HNS go to Judith's website at www.judithstarkston.com



Wrap Up of November Meeting:


book cover image Shadow on the Crown Patricia Bracewell Poisoned Pen Our November meeting featured Patricia Bracewell. Her novel, Shadow on the Crown, brings the little known English Queen Emma back from undeserved obscurity. Emma of Normandy, who ruled when Vikings still raided the English shores and the Anglo-Saxons were kings, remains in the historical record only in bits and pieces. Patricia talked to us about how she took those fragments and built them into her book and the long, hard slog to persuade a publisher that any queen who wasn't a Tudor would sell. Shadow on the Crown has more than proved her right. Definitely a book to read! We hope we'll see Patricia again next time she comes in from the Bay Area.


 
Bouchercon2014_fb_Banner
 
American Guest of Honor:  J.A. Jance
International Guest of Honor: Edward Marston
Lifetime Achievement: Jeffery Deaver
Toastmaster: Simon Wood
YA Guest of Honor: Eoin Colfer
Fan Guest of Honor: Al Abramson
Come Early. Stay Late: Preliminary Schedule starts with programming and tours on Tuesday, November 11 and runs through Sunday, November 16. 
 

Join Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach, in beautiful downtown Long Beach, California, November 13-16, 2014!
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The murderous lineup is led by Guests of Honor who are rapidly being joined by the cream of the crime-crop.

Register Now for Bouchercon 2014!
 
Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter!

Send inquiries to Ingrid Willis, Chair
****

Mars on a one-way ticket November 20th, 7:30 pm


Dr. Paul Davies is a friend of the Poisoned Pen and a continuing partner with us on literary, educational and cultural events.  This is sure to be a thought provoking evening where 'sci-fi meets sci-fact'!
The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstol, (University of Minnesota Press, $24.95).
Staff Book Review

This is the first submission in the Minnesota Trilogy, written by the award-winning, Norwegian author and translated by the esteemed Tiina Nunnally.  The setting is the northern part of Minnesota by Lake Superior and the small surrounding communities. The area is populated by Scandinavian immigrants inter-twined with the Native Americans. Lance Hansen, a U.S. Forest Service officer finds a badly wounded visitor and his brutally murdered traveling companion. Both have come from Norway to explore the area. Little is known about them, personally, but they have been observed to be pleasant and enjoying themselves on this trek. Because of jurisdiction requirements, the FBI is brought in, as well as a detective from Norway. Much of Lance's life is wrapped up in the genealogy and history of the area. He's been studying a 100-year old murder which gradually provides clues to the current crime, suggesting his estranged brother may have been involved. The tale is rich with history and environmental descriptions which add to the story. The author and his wife lived on Lake Superior for two years, adding authenticity. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys good writing, a strong sense of place and an interesting mix of characters.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am Swedish and my last place of residence was Duluth, MN. Needless to way, there was some nostalgia but, more importantly, a reminder of the fury of blizzards and Lake Superior, which made me re-think another location.


K. Shaver

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

“The Panopticon” is the title of a daring first novel by Scottish poet Jenni Fagan, and it describes a halfway house/rehab facility from whose center the administrators can look into the living quarters – including the bathrooms – of every youthful inhabitant, male and female. The story’s central character, Anais, is an angry, sexually-active 15-year-old juvenile delinquent who clings to her eroding humanity while completely mistrusting the adult world after dozens of failed foster home assignments and the murder of a prostitute mother-figure by a customer. To her, the  Panopticon is simply a continuation of the “experiments” the authorities (and life) have always put her through, trying to break her will. She has been sent to this detention home deep in the woods after allegedly beating a  policewoman bad enough to put her in a coma.  Anais, who is usually stoked on whatever drugs are available – and in the Panopticon, the drugs are freely shared via windows and shoestrings – cannot remember the beating despite frequent police interrogations. But the truth is almost irrelevant, since Anais is such a nasty habitual offender that the authorities seem willing to hold her responsible for the policewoman’s condition in retribution for her other offenses. Anais finds her natural “family” at the Panopticon. The lost children who inhabit the facility bond to survive, much like those in “Lord of the Flies,” or “A Separate Peace,” but with more sexual agility, and fiercely protect their own against administrators, guests, and outsiders whom they encounter when allowed out on tightly-scheduled free time. The authentic Scottish dialect is not at all hard to follow, and the writing is snappy, gritty, and profane, with humor often softening the nearly-unceasing misery facing these children . Fagan leads us into all the dark and personal places where her characters live, and we watch them as they abuse themselves and others, casually turn from one drug to another, and curse the irresistible life in which they seem forever trapped, without giving thought to the consequences of their actions or their futures, for they cannot imagine living long enough for either to be meaningful.  The book is alternately depressing, sad, and joyful. You will come away from “The Panopticon” desperately wishing someone would “save” Anais, but frustrated at her own inability to keep the demons at bay.

reviewed by: Lawrence A. Katz 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Amy Tan Booksigning October 17th @ 7pm



Join us for an evening with celebrated author Amy Tan, October 17!

Reading, QA and Booksigning
October 17, 2013
7:00pm
Tempe Center for the Arts
700 West Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ 85281
Map
Free and open to the public


Join us for an evening with celebrated author Amy Tan, recipient of the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, the Commonwealth Gold Award.

Born in the U.S. to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan rejected her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She chose to write fiction instead. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and Saving Fish From Drowning, all New York Times bestsellers and recipients of various awards. She is also the author of a memoir,The Opposite of Fate; the short story Rules for Virgins published in e-book format (Byliner Original), and two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa and The Chinese Siamese Cat.

Tan will be giving a reading of her work, followed by a question and answer session. There will be a booksigning after the QA.

Books by Amy Tan will be available to purchase at the event.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Farewell

This year we have lost some inspiring authors who have forever touched our literary hearts.

Cancer took Vince Flynn from us in June at the young age of 47. Leighton Gage and Iain Banks also passed away this year from cancer. Award winning writer of british crime, Robert Barnard, author of more than 40 novels, passed away at 76. Prolific Elmore Leonard-87 died shortly after a stroke. And as of recently Tom Clancy, at 66, cause of death- unkown.

They may have passed on but their work will always be remembered.

RIP

Q & A with Tasha Alexander

Q&A
New York Times Bestselling Author Tasha Alexander: Behind the Shattered Glass(October 15 release, Minotaur, $24.99)
 Q—The victim makes a grand entrance at a social gathering and falls dead in the opening pages. You get the reader’s attention quickly don’t you?
Alexander—The opening of this book came to me long before I had settled on the overall story. From there, I had to start asking questions about the gentleman in question to figure out what had happened to him…
Q—As the 8th book in the Lady Emily series does it seem the give-and-take between Lady Emily and her mother over a grim topic—such as murder--is something readers have come to anticipate?
Alexander—Emily and her mother have, at best, a sometimes-peaceful standoff. Their views on most things—women’s suffrage, education, appropriate social behavior, and child-rearing—clash, but there is a great deal of humor in their exchanges, and readers are kind enough to tell me they enjoy them. Lady Bromley, however, might not find them quite so amusing.
Q—What made you decide to delve into the two classes, upper class and servants?
Alexander—Emily has long had a less-than-ordinary relationship with her servants. For example, she doesn’t just give them orders—she talks to them—and has come to rely on Davis, her butler, and Meg, her lady’s maid, in ways that go beyond the usual master-servant rapport. In this book, I wanted to explore what life was like below stairs—to get the servants’ side, so to speak. The late 19th century was a time of great change for those in service. The Industrial Revolution gave the lower classes more options for employment, and there was a great deal of debate as to what was a better job: factory work or service. There are pros and cons to both, and I think it is fascinating to consider how the people working the jobs felt about them. Davis, who has spent his entire life in service, is devoted to it, but there are others in Emily’s household who do not feel the same way. The glittering life above stairs was only possible because the strict constraints of the class system forced a large percentage of the population to work below stairs. These were tough, tough jobs. Maids were up before sunrise and on their feet doing hard labor until late in the evening. It’s no wonder they looked for other options, especially if they did not work for a family who treated them well.
 Q—Tell us about travel research for this book?
Alexander—I spent a great deal of time at country houses in England. Harewood House in Yorkshire has their kitchen and other downstairs rooms open—it was most enlightening to see them. Haddon Hall, Chatsworth, and Castle Howard inspired bits of Anglemore Park, the Hargreaves family estate, but it owes the most to Burton Agnes Hall, which was a place that felt so beautifully lived in—so much like a real home—that I wished I could move in.
Q—Now eight books and now you’re a New York Times Bestselling Author: what are the reasons Lady Emily and the series appeal to its growing list of followers?
Alexander—That is a difficult question. As a writer, I am immensely grateful that readers keep coming back for more Emily, but we all have different reasons for choosing the books we read. I have always loved a good series because the characters start to feel like old friends, and I can’t wait for the next installment. Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books are some of my favorites, primarily because I adore the characters.
Q—In your mind what is the biggest individual change in Emily and Colin from book one (And Only To Deceive) to Behind the Shattered Glass?
Alexander—I don’t think they have changed so much as they have come into their own, Emily especially. They are both more comfortable in their convictions, and more comfortable working as equal partners in their marriage. In terms of real change, the addition of children to the household, though not as radical for wealthy Victorians with nannies and nurses as it is for us today, certainly has an enormous impact on them.
Q—How long did it take to write the manuscript and did you know the storyline when writing the last book, Death In The Floating City?
Alexander—I don’t outline. My brain doesn’t work that way. I spend several months doing research—reading, primarily. Once I have the seed of an idea, I start taking notes about characters and story. At some point, I have enough that I know I’m ready to write the first draft. Once the draft is complete, I let it sit for a month or so before revising. I write a book a year, and that allows me to comfortably deliver on time. The details of the story always come to me while I’m writing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre


It is a huge challenge to review the remarkable and disturbing "Alex," by Pierre Lemaitre, an award-winning 2011 thriller recently translated from the French, without giving away any of the many twists and turns. The book begins, routinely enough as thrillers go, with the kidnapping of a lovely young woman, Alex, from the street where she has been shopping for wigs (early clue). She is held in a cage in an abandoned warehouse, tortured, left to the rats. But why? What is her captor's real motivation? What has Alex done to deserve such abuse? 

Solving that puzzle is left to Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven, a 4'11" malcontent who has just returned to police investigative work after the kidnapping and death of his own wife. As Camille and his team uncover, piece by piece, the tortured backgrounds of Alex and her kidnapper, with little help from Alex’s familyit becomes evident that Alex is both victim and predator, and that the seeds of her fate were planted many years earlier
Well-written and cleverly-plotted, this psychological stunner will please readers who were fascinated by Lisbeth Salander and loved books like Thomas Harris' "Silence of the Lambs" and Denise Mina's "Field of Blood." Be prepared for some long nights under the reading lamp, a chilling tale of abuse and revenge, and a denouement that is shocking and immensely satisfying.

Reviewed by Lawrence Katz

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review of The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn Review by Judith Starkston

book cover image The Serpent and The Pearl Kate Quinn Poisoned PenRenaissance food in yummy detail, a sophisticated, lascivious pope and his gorgeous (not to mention smart and courageous) concubine, murders reflecting some fascinating if sick mental states, an ornery but lovable dwarf, a mummified saint’s hand with strong opinions—what is not to like about Kate Quinn’s foray into the world of the Borgias? I’ve enjoyed Quinn’s novels set in the Roman period and I viewed her defection from the ancient world with mixed feelings, but she is now forgiven. The Serpent and the Pearl is full of the trademark Quinn humor, quirky, complicated characters and colorful historical details. She skillfully develops the darkly cynical politics of Renaissance Rome and uses this backdrop to reveal what her characters often want to hide: their deep-seated humanity and golden hearts (often surrounded by a casing of well-earned bitterness). You’ll luxuriate in the silks and jewelry, you’ll positively salivate over the descriptions of authentic period food and its careful preparation (do visit Kate’s blog for some recipes), but mostly you’ll keep turning pages with a plot full of seductions and betrayals of every kind, not just the sexy sort. This is one very fun, adventurous read. Review by Judith Starkston

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Others of my Kind by James Sallis A Shadow Review

Let me start out by saying that I think James Sallis is one of Americas finest writers.  In his last few efforts he has achieved both popular success with the book and film, "Drive" and critical success with the "Turner Trilogy" and last years "Driven" and "The Killer is Dying".  His new novel, which will be published in early September, is a stunning work of art.  It is short, powerful and deeply affecting.  I found it both hard to read, horrifying and beautiful all at the same time.  The book takes place in the near future and mirrors the political problems of our own present day.  Jenny Rowan, who tells us her story, is a survivor of a terrible kidnapping and a ruined childhood.  She has survived and now works at a TV station where she constructs both a life and news stories from film fragments as an editor. Through her eyes and the genius of Mr. Sallis we are shown a deeply humanitarian path towards a resurrection of her life and a glimpse of what America can be.  The book is  both a crime story, a political precis and a magnificently realized journey to the heart of what we can become as a people if we want to.
While the book is lean in pages, it has a power that is perfect in its execution.  The language is both simple and yet rich in its imagery and metaphor.  With each new book James Sallis reaches ever higher into the pantheon of pure writing.  The beauty and empathy that he radiates in his prose is breathtaking.  His melding of humans and nature allow the reader to feel a wholeness with the world we live in that is rarely found in modern literature.  I cannot praise this gem of a novel enough and hope that all who read this review avail themselves of a chance to experience something unique.
Jim Sallis will be at the Poisoned Pen, along with his band, Three Legged Dog, on September 13th.  Come and meet one of the great men of American letters.  He can also, "play that guitar just like ringin' a bell."



reviewed by: Steve Shadow Schwartz

Monday, August 5, 2013

“Her Last Breath,” by Linda Castillo

“Her Last Breath,” by Linda Castillo
Reviewed by Lawrence Katz

Although I have not yet read Linda Castillo’s past mysteries set in the Amish communities of  Pennsylvania, the newest version, “Her Last Breath,” has inspired me to do so. The main character in this book, County Police Chief Kate Burkholder, was once Amish herself, but she left the fold and now, responsible for public safety in a county that includes many Amish families, she is often called upon to interface with members of her former religious group when crime disrupts their community. The latest turmoil follows the death of a prominent Amish father and his child when their carriage is struck by a high-speed hit-and-run driver on the highway near their farm. The nature of the crash, and the lack of skid marks, indicates that this was no accident. Determing who-dunnit and why takes Kate back to her unpleasant roots, a journey made all the more painful because of her own dark secrets, which she would rather leave buried, literally. The author manages to combine sensitivity to the Amish culture with real-world cruelty and emotional pain. Kate’s romantic relationship with another police officer, her personal history with the wife of the deceased carriage driver, and the potential unraveling of her own youthful misconduct, add depth to the story. The writing is crisp, fast-paced, and engrossing. Do not fear that the religious angle dilutes or subdues the cop-story language you would expect; it does not. The Amish talk and act like Amish, but the cops talk and act like cops. This book is a “fast read,” both because of the speed of the narrative and the reader’s desire to keep fitting the puzzle pieces together. Highly recommended by this avid reader of mysteries.

Linda Castillo. Photo Credit: Pam Lary

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Terrorist Next Door by Sheldon Siegel A Shadow Review

The Terrorist Next Door
Siegel, a best selling author known mainly for his legal thrillers set in San Francisco, has now started a new series set in his home town of Chicago.  I am also a native Chicagoan and looked forward to Siegels take on the city.  Set within the confines of a terrorist-holds-city-hostage scenario he manages, with great skill, to give the reader a panoramic tour of the city replete with architectural and ethnic history.  I am happy to say that he never hits a false note in his depiction of Chicago.  The main characters, Detective David Gold and his lover, Lori Silver, are compelling and rendered as fully realized people.  The other characters are a bit more of a  stock thriller cast.  While compellingly written with mounting tension as the terrorist sets off one bomb after another I'm afraid the same scenario with variations was played out just a little too many times. I found the identity of the bomber was rather easy to figure out especially in light of many other recent books with variations on the same theme.
On a more positive note I will say that the author knows how to construct a thriller and set a scene.  The dialogue is believable and the pace and page-turning elements click along nicely.  Detective Gold is an interesting man and I hope that Siegel will put him in a more original story next time out.

Steve Shadow Schwartz

For further reading in a similar vein I suggest:
PENANCE by DAN O'SHEA
IDENTITY: LOST by PASCAL MARCO

Thursday, July 25, 2013

SARA GRAN "CLAIRE DEWITT AND THE BOHEMIAN HIGHWAY" A SHADOW REVIEW


Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran

Sara Gran's first book in the present series, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, was a revelation and made my list of the best crime novels of the year.  After a seemingly interminable wait the sequel, Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway has finally arrived.
   In both books Sara Gran proves to be a magician.  Everything that happens is both a realistic procession of clues that lead Claire to the solution of a "case" and at the same time a geometric conundrum of the soul.
   The mysteries that abound in Claire's life and in the lives of her friends are revisited again in the new book.  Like a kaleidoscope dipped in LSD, we see events that were presented in the first book now repainted in a new array of psychic colors.
   Sara Gran has the ability to present us with a straight ahead, tough talking, hard boiled female P.I. doing her Mickey Spillane best.  At the same time, through dropped hints, runic circulations and all manner of sounds,smells and physical vibrations she takes us to strange yet oddly familiar haunted hollows of the human heart.
   Through her magical manipulation of uncomplicated prose she ferries us across the river Styx and into the labyrinth of a personal hell.  This spiraling descent into a maze of mysteries is reflected as in a hall of mirrors. Watching Claire find her way is like being in an opium dream with Hercule Poirot perched on one shoulder and Mike Hammer on the other.
   This is a superior and multi-layered story that not only draws on the tropes of Noir but also pop culture, eastern thought and the physical world in all its manifestations.  It is a love story about love and a mystery about the nature of mystery. Both books are not to be missed.  Sara Gran is a totally unique voice in modern crime fiction.


review by: STEVE SHADOW SCHWARTZ

Monday, July 22, 2013

Back in action!

Recently we have launched a new website that unfortunately deactivated our blog so we have relaunched The Poisoned Fiction Review. For info on how to submit your book reviews to our blog, please e-mail ariel@poisonedpen.com. We would be happy to post your reviews!