Martin, George R. R. Skin Trade.

Rantoul, IL: Avatar Press, 2014.

George has been taking a little time off, apparently, from the seemingly endless “Song of Fire and Ice” series to produce some much shorter and very different works. And while I don’t ordinarily care for werewolf novels, this graphic adaptation by Daniel Abraham and Mike Wolfer isn’t bad.

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Published in: on 31 August 2015 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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French, Tana. Faithful Place.

NY: Viking, 2010.

French has established herself as a first-rate author of mystery novels, all set in and around Dublin and reeking of Irishness, both past and present. But she has an odd way of picking her focus characters. The protagonist of her second novel was the second lead in her first book, and Frank Mackey, the POV character of this third novel was only a supporting character in her second. Perhaps it’s because each of these people has sort of used themselves up in the course of the story.

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Lovesey, Peter. The House Sitter.

NY: Soho Press, 2003.

It’s been a year since Superintendent Peter Diamond’s wife was murdered in a public park in Bath, and he’s finally beginning to come to terms with his loss, though the killer’s trial and then the appeals aren’t helping much. But this eighth book in the series actually begins with the strangling of a sunbather at a crowded beach down in Sussex, and that’s not his patch at all.

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Mina, Denise. Still Midnight.

NY: Little, Brown, 2009.

It’s an ordinary late fall evening in the Muslim section of Glasgow and the extended Anwar family is going about its ordinary Ramadan affairs, when a couple of armed and masked men burst in, demanding a large amount of money from someone named “Bob.” There’s no Bob, only Muslim names, and one look at the house will tell anyone there’s not a lot of money around.

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Mayo, Edith (ed). American Material Culture: The Shape of Things Around Us.

Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1984.

Bowling Green has long made a specialty of American material and social history, and this anthology of twelve rather miscellaneous essays includes some interesting stuff, but the title of the volume is a bit misleading.

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Published in: on 18 August 2015 at 6:25 am  Leave a Comment  

North, Claire. Touch.

NY: Redhook, 2015.

This author has certainly hit the big time with a bang, first with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August last year, and now this one. Both of them deal with variations on the same idea, too: The ability to survive indefinitely by escaping death. Harry August was able to go back in time and be reborn with full memories and adult knowledge of his previous lives, while the nameless narrator of Touch (whom some call Kepler) is one of a tiny, tiny fraction of the human race who can jump from one body to another — any age, any gender — simply by touching a bit of exposed flesh.

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Forester, C. S. Hornblower During the Crisis.

Boston: Little, Brown, 1967.

Captain Jack Aubrey is widely considered the “best” Royal Navy hero of the Napoleonic wars these days, and he might well be (those books are amazing), but for modern readers over forty, Horatio Hornblower is where it all began. It certainly did for me, when I began reading my father’s collection as an adventure-addicted adolescent back in the ‘50s.

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Lovesey, Peter. Diamond Dust.

NY: Soho Press, 2002.

This is the seventh novel in the award-winning series featuring Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Bath CID. The last couple of books have been a great improvement on the first couple and we’ve also come to know the supporting players pretty well — especially Diamond’s understanding, tolerant, and always supportive wife, Stephanie.

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Published in: on 9 August 2015 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hill, Reginald. The Price of Butcher’s Meat.

NY: Harper, 2008.

Hill is, among other things a Janeite — a devoted fan of the works of Jane Austen — and the setting and characters of this immediate sequel to Death Comes for the Fat Man are taken wholly from Miss Austen’s last and unfinished work, Sanditon.

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North, Claire. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

NY: Redhook, 2014.

Wow. Just . . . wow.

Harry August, born New Year’s Day, 1919, is a bastard, the result of the young lord of the manor raping a kitchen maid. She dies in a railway station giving birth to him and he’s adopted by the gardener and his wife. His first life, before he knows there will be another, is entirely ordinary and he spends it assisting his father on the estate, with time out as an infantryman in World War II. And then he dies in his seventies — and is immediately reborn, back at the beginning of 1919.

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