Kent, Alexander. Richard Bolitho, Midshipman.

NY: Putnam, 1975.

Kent’s lengthy Royal Navy adventure series about Richard Bolitho is quite good (with one or two egregious exceptions), and this is the first installment by internal chronology. It’s 1772 and the sixteen-year-old Bolitho has already had four years’ experience at sea. It’s been pretty quiet, though, since Britain is temporarily at peace.

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Crombie, Deborah. And Justice There Is None.

NY: Bantam, 2002.

This is one of Crombie’s best efforts, largely because it focuses more on newly-promoted Detective Inspector Gemma James than on her erstwhile partner and continuing love interest, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. Gemma has been transferred to Notting Hill, where she takes up her duties as a lead investigator, while Kincaid finds himself having to break in a new sergeant.

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Published in: on 29 December 2012 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Crombie, Deborah. A Finer End.

NY: Bantam, 2001.

Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard gets caught up in the strangest cases. This time he’s off to Glastonbury, center of New Age mysticism in Britain, to help his cousin, Jack, sort out a hit-and-run in which the local (female) vicar was nearly killed.

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Published in: on 27 December 2012 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Spark, Muriel. The Girls of Slender Means.

NY: Knopf, 1963.

Spark was considered one of the major influences on British fiction in the post-World War II years, but I’ve never been quite sure how I feel about the body of her work. She had one really big hit, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which was equally successful as a film (starring the ineffable Maggie Smith), but nothing else she produced ever really seemed to come up to that level.

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Published in: on 25 December 2012 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sidebottom, Harry. King of Kings.

(Warrior of Rome, Book 2) NY: Overlook Press, 2009.

Writing an historical novel is hard, and the farther you go back in time to a chosen venue, the more difficult it is. That’s if you’re really concerned with getting everything right, and Prof. Sidebottom definitely is that.

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O’Connell, Carol. Mallory’s Oracle.

NY: Putnam, 1994.

When New York Police Inspector Louis Markowitz found eleven-year-old Kathleen Mallory living on the street and breaking into cars, she was, in his words, an “amoral savage.” Rather than do the paperwork to send her to Juvenile Hall, he took her home and his deeply caring wife informally adopted her.

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Lehane, Dennis. Moonlight Mile.

NY: Morrow, 2010.

Back in 1998, four-year-old Amanda McCready was kidnapped for her own good (really), and Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro got her back and returned her to her waste-of-space mother. Or rather, Patrick did the right thing in terms of the law. Angie left him because he had also done the wrong thing, morally.

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Published in: on 19 December 2012 at 6:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lehane, Dennis. Gone, Baby, Gone.

NY: Morrow, 1998.

This is the fourth novel featuring hard-boiled private eyes Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, and it’s probably the best in the series. Both of them grew up and still live in Dorchester, a down-market Irish section of Greater Boston, and they know the community and almost everyone in it. When four-year-old Amanda McCready disappears from her single mother’s apartment while she’s (supposedly) visiting next door, and the police can’t seem to turn up anything, Amanda’s aunt and uncle come to Kenzie and Gennaro to beg for help.

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Published in: on 17 December 2012 at 6:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl.

NY: Crown, 2012.

Nick, small-town boy from Missouri, moved to New York to become a journalist, and he was doing reasonably well working for a magazine when he met Amy, the daughter of two psychologists who were also children’s book authors. They fell hard for each other and were married, and everything was great, more or less. Then the economy tanked and print journalism was spiraling downward anyway, and Nick was laid off. And then Amy was laid off, though she hadn’t really had much of a “serious” job anyway.

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Hornby, Nick. High Fidelity.

NY: Riverhead Books, 1995.

This was Hornby’s first novel and while he shortly thereafter became famous for About a Boy, this one is also very much worth your while. (The New York Times obviously thought so, too, and named it a “Notable Book.”) Rob, now in his mid-thirties though sometimes easily mistaken for an adolescent, is a pop music maven whose used records store in the cheap part of London, Championship Vinyl, is just barely getting by.

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Published in: on 13 December 2012 at 5:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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