Hill, Reginald. Ruling Passion.

NY: Harper, 1973.

It’s sort of odd, reading a detective story written nearly half a century ago in which certain characters like to think of themselves as “modern.” But Hill has been doing this series a long time — this is the third out of some two dozen books — and Detective Superintendent “Fat Andy” Dalziel of Yorkshire, a copper of the old school, has gradually gotten used to new things.


Published in: on 28 February 2016 at 3:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Knisley, Lucy. Displacement: A Travelogue.

Seattle: Fantagraphic Books, 2015.

As readers of my reviews know, I really like Lucy’s graphic novels — except you can’t call them “novels” because there’s no fiction in them. Her books all come out of her own life experiences, often involving travel or food, or both. She’s a gentle, humane sort, and thoughtful and perceptive. And a bit of a geek, actually. And definitely the sort of person you’d like to hang out with.


Published in: on 26 February 2016 at 8:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cline, Ernest. Armada.

NY: Crown, 2015.

There’s a syndrome that attacks many new authors: The Sophomore Novel Blues. That blockbuster first book turns out to be difficult to replicate and the second one is a disappointment. Cline’s first effort, Ready Player One, was a hoot and a half, a combination of science fiction and gamer-geek nostalgia. This one obviously comes out of the same sort of authorial experience, but while it isn’t an actual failure, it isn’t nearly as satisfying — especially the first half.


Niven, Larry. Crashlander.

NY: Del Rey, 1994.

Niven is one of those SF authors who, in my opinion, did excellent work when they were young and just starting out, but whose later efforts got lazy and rather sloppy. This volume brings together the five Beowulf Shaeffer stories published in the pulps in the 1960s and early ‘70s (Niven’s early period), plus one more written especially for this collection, which kind of brings it all to a conclusion.


Published in: on 20 February 2016 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Bester, Alfred. The Stars My Destination.

NY: Bantam, 1956.

I’ve been a science fiction junky a long time and I first read this one in high school, only a couple of years after it was published. (It was serialized first as “Tiger, Tiger” in Galaxy, but I missed that.) I had bought it in paperback with my allowance and absolutely loved it. And I still have it — that very copy. This is probably my eighth or tenth reread over the years. I even used “Gully Foyle” as my Usenet handle when I first went online a quarter-century ago. It’s that kind of book. And it always appears on “Greatest SF Novels of All Time” lists, so I’m not alone in my admiration.


Grisham, John. The Broker.

NY: Doubleday, 2005.

This is one of Grisham’s lighter, non-courtroom yarns, and it’s pretty good. Joel Backman (the wheeling-dealing lobbyist and power broker of the title) was about to go to trial for various sorts of bribery and international corruption six years ago, and was giving as good as he got, but then he suddenly pled guilty and practically fled to a federal prison for protection. Various other governments, both theoretically friendly and definitely otherwise, would like a piece of him, all because of a super-secret surveillance satellite system high-jacked by a group of hackers — and to which Joel now has the only software key.


Published in: on 15 February 2016 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Knisley, Lucy. An Age of License: A Travelogue.

Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2014.

Lucy is one of my favorite cartoonists, and has been since I discovered French Milk a few years ago. She doesn’t do superheroes or any of that. She does real people, mostly herself, living real life, with an autobiographical concentration on food (her parents are a chef and a gourmet) and travel (which, even in her late 20s, she still gets nervous about).


Published in: on 12 February 2016 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lovesey, Peter. The Stone Wife.

NY: Soho Press, 2014.

This fourteenth episode in the investigative adventures of Superintendent Peter Diamond, head of the Bath CID, is partly pretty good and partly not so good, but it certainly starts with a bang — literally.


Published in: on 9 February 2016 at 8:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hill, Reginald. An April Shroud.

Woodstock, VT: Countryman Press, 1975.

Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel of Mid-Yorkshire CID (pronounced “Dee-ell” — I think) is a large, sloppy-looking person — his recent diet has gotten him down to 250 pounds — but he has a brain that can spot a motive or a specious excuse a furlong away.


Published in: on 6 February 2016 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Margolin, Phillip. After Dark.

NY: Bantam, 1996.

Margolin is one of those authors who seems always to have a couple of recent volumes on the bookstore rack, but who otherwise flies under the radar in terms of awards or featured reviews. He’s been a criminal defense attorney for several decades, so it’s no surprise that he specializes in legal thrillers, or that he sets most of them in his home territory of Oregon.


Published in: on 4 February 2016 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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