Rankin, Ian. Strip Jack.

NY: St. Martin, 1992.

Inspector John Rebus of the Edinburgh CID is going about his business, trying to find out who stole a stack of very rare books from a local university professor, and attempting to figure out who might have killed a young woman and pitched her body in the Forth, and then he’s roped in to take part in a raid on a brothel in an upscale part of town.

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Lippman, Laura. To the Power of Three.

NY: Morrow, 2005.

In an upper-middle-class suburb in north Baltimore County, Kat Hartigan and Perri Kahn have been best friends since preschool, and on the first day of Third Grade, newcomer Josie Patel makes it a threesome — and forever after she quietly resents being the junior partner by those three years.

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Gores, Joe. Spade & Archer.

NY: Knopf, 2009.

Even though he’s been doing this stuff since the 1960s and has won every award there is, Joe Gores remains an underappreciated author of detective stories. He’s also a devotee of the hardboiled style, and especially of Dashiell Hammett’s greatest creation, Sam Spade.

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Howarth, David. 1066: The Year of the Conquest.

NY: Viking, 1977.

Like Waterloo and Gettysburg, the Battle of Hastings has been the subject of hundreds of volumes of history over the centuries. The date “1066” is one of the first things a young British student learns (or used to), like “1492” or “1776” in the U.S.

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Published in: on 25 January 2013 at 6:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tracy, P. J. Dead Run.

NY: Putnam, 2005.

The first two novels about the Monkeewrench gang were action-packed thrillers but they also were essentially detective stories. This one is a little different. In fact, for the first few chapters, I thought I was getting involved in a horror story.

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Bowen, Rhys. Evans Above.

NY: St. Martin, 1997.

My wife is a fan of cozies, and “Rhys Bowen” (nom de plume of Janet Quin-Harkin) has become one of her favorite authors. Though she has at least three series under way under this name (which accounts for only about one-third of her published books, actually), this was the first novel in the first series, and it’s not bad.

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Published in: on 21 January 2013 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dexter, Colin. Last Seen Wearing.

NY: St. Martin, 1976.

Like any police detective, Chief Inspector Morse, homicide specialist in the Thames Valley CID, has his good days and his bad days. He knows that not every case is solvable, but as long as he’s got a body to play with, he’s happy.

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Published in: on 20 January 2013 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pym, Barbara. An Unsuitable Attachment.

NY: Dutton, 1982.

In 1977, Philip Larkin (who was offered but declined the honor of Poet Laureate) famously wrote an article for the Times Literary Supplement in which he described Pym, who had just published her seventh novel, as “the most underrated writer of the 20th century.” That acclaim from a respected source helped, but she still never achieved the sort of recognition she deserved from the general reading public, and it’s a puzzle why that never happened.

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Published in: on 19 January 2013 at 4:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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Gischler, Victor. Shotgun Opera.

NY: Bantam, 2006.

A few years ago, there began to appear a new variation on the classic hard-boiled noir shoot-‘em-up, heavy on violence (and frequently profanity, because mafia enforcers and vigorish-collectors aren’t especially intellectual in their discourse) and with emphasis on characters who can seldom be called the Good Guys.

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Martin, Steve. The Pleasure of My Company.

NY: Hyperion, 2003.

Anyone who has been paying attention for the past couple of decades knows that Steve Martin is considerably more than a wild and crazy guy with an arrow through his head. Among other things, he’s a very talented author of fiction, though he prefers novella-length to the epic. He’s also rather less interested in action plots than he is in the investigation of unusual characters (not unlike himself, one presumes).

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Published in: on 15 January 2013 at 5:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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