Block, Lawrence. Hit Me.

NY: Little, Brown, 2011.

When last we saw Keller — whose name is one letter away from his occupation — he had been forced to go on the run by an ex-employer cleaning house and had ended up in a completely new life (and with a new name) in New Orleans, doing construction work. I sort of thought that was the end of his career, that Block was sending him into a pleasant retirement, but I guess you just can’t keep a good hit man down.

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Published in: on 31 May 2013 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gischler, Victor. Suicide Squeeze.

NY: Delacorte, 2005.

This is the author’s second novel (Gun Monkeys was nominated for an Edgar) and it continues to showcase a first-rate talent for mayhem. Teddy Folger is a semi-loser in Pensacola whose prized possession is a Joe DiMaggio baseball card, signed on the set of The Seven Year Itch by Joe himself, his wife, Marilyn Monroe, and director Billy Wilder. When he got older, Teddy wrote Marilyn a fan letter, which she answered just a few days before her death; he still has that, too.

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Published in: on 29 May 2013 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sidebottom, Harry. The Caspian Gates.

NY: Overlook Press, 2011.

When an historical novel closes with not one but two glossaries, plus a discussion of original sources, it’s a pretty good indication that the author takes his work seriously. In this case, Sidebottom is also an historian at Oxford and a recognized authority on the period about which he writes — Roman politics and military events of the mid-3rd Century.

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Cherryh, C. J. Betrayer.

NY: DAW Books, 2011.

This is the twelfth episode in the saga (and it is that) of Bren Cameron, the paidhi-ajii, the mediator between the humans on their island and the atevi, whose world it is. That being the case, it would impossible to try even to summarize all that has gone before, except to note that Bren has gone native in a big way.

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Walter, Jess. Land of the Blind.

NY: HarperCollins, 2003.

Spokane police detective Caroline Mabry is back, but it’s not so much her story this time as that of the one-eyed Clark Mason, haunted by his past. He turns up in Caroline’s life one swing shift, having been picked up in an empty hotel that’s undergoing reconstruction. In the interview room, he insists he has a homicide to confess to — but only in his own way.

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Walter, Jess. Over Tumbled Graves.

NY: HarperCollins, 2001.

I only recently discovered Walter’s Citizen Vince and immediately went back and hunted up his earlier couple of novels. This was his first, set in the author’s hometown of Spokane, Washington — a mostly conservative, mostly blue-collar, economically moribund town on the eastern edge of the state as unlike Seattle as it’s possible to be.

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Graham, Brandon. King City.

Berkeley: Image Comics, 2012.

I’ve read a fair quantity of graphic novels over the years and I guess I’ve reached the point where I’m usually satisfied to find either a good story rendered in merely competent, minimalist art, or interesting art used to relate a merely passable story. Because I seldom find both. King City is a blazing exception.

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Published in: on 19 May 2013 at 5:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bank, Melissa. The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

NY: Viking, 1999.

A few avid fellow readers have been urging this book on me for some time (we often start conversations with “What? You haven’t read that yet?!”) but I’ve just now gotten around to it. I wish I hadn’t waited.

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Published in: on 17 May 2013 at 6:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sidebottom, Harry. Lion of the Sun.

(Warrior of Rome, Book 3) NY: Overlook Press, 2010.

I take my history seriously so it’s always nice to find a writer of historical novels who cares enough about his craft to include another thirty-odd pages of commentary, context, discussion of original sources, and glossary at the back.

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Ray, John Klingel. Jane Austen for Dummies.

Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006.

I’ve read a number of the “. . . for Dummies” books (and also the “Idiot’s Guides” series) and, except for the off-puttingly stupid standard title, a perhaps surprising number of them have been above average. Unfortunately, this particular one is rather below average for the series.

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