Lee, Sharon & Steve Miller.

Dragon in Exile. NY: Baen, 2015.

These two authors’ series of space operas — 18 novels so far and a couple dozen short stories — have been remarkably successful, considering they had to spend some time in the purgatory of self-publishing. They’re set a number of centuries in the future and mostly involve the very wealthy, highly formalized trading world of Liad — and especially the members of the frequently dangerous Clan Korval, “the Tree and Dragon.”

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Knisley, Lucy. Radiator Days.

Rhinebeck, NY: Epigraph Publishing, 2008.

Since discovering French Milk, her first graphic work, several years ago, I’ve become a solid fan of Lucy Knisley (pronounced “Nighsley,” silent “K”). She doesn’t do superheroes or abstract philosophy but concentrates almost entirely on retelling the events of her own life and experiences and what she’s learned from them. She’s had the sort of adventures any of us might have had, but she thinks a lot harder about what they mean.

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Hill, Reginald. Exit Lines.

NY: Macmillan, 1984.

Chief Superintendent Dalziel and Inspector Pascoe are back, this time in a rather sophisticated case — or a collection of related cases, actually. The trigger is the nearly concurrent deaths of three elderly men one freezing winter night — one apparently of exposure in a vacant field, one brutally murdered in his bath, and one knocked off his bicycle by a car in which a heavily inebriated Dalziel says he was a passenger, though witnesses say he may have been the driver.

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Published in: on 26 March 2016 at 5:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Adams, Samuel & Sarah. The Complete Servant.

London: Knight & Lacey, 1825 (reprinted, 1989).

A number of books were published in the first half of the 19th century in Britain on how to deal with servants. The burgeoning middle class was becoming wealthier and an important part of the servant-employing population, but most of them hadn’t grown up with servants in the house — no more than a generalized maid-of-all-work and perhaps a cook — and they needed guidance.

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Published in: on 24 March 2016 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Harrison, Harry. One King’s Way.Enter a post title

NY: Tor, 1995.

This is the middle volume of a historical fiction/almost-fantasy/alternate history trilogy, and it fills that function quite well. The first volume of a trilogy introduces the plot and the characters and the closing volume answers the questions, resolves the problems, and ties everything together. The middle volume has to advance the narrative, to explain to the reader why all this is important, but it’s allowed to close with a cliffhanger. The middle volume is frequently the weakest part of a three-decker, but not this time.

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Hill, Reginald. Deadheads.

NY: Macmillan, 1983.

I’m well into this long-running detective series now, featuring the working-class Detective Chief Superintendent “Fat Andy” Dalziel (not pronounced the way it looks, but only Scots and Yorkshiremen know that, probably), and DI Peter Pascoe, a university graduate. And I’ve gotten to know the main continuing characters and the way their minds work.

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Rendell, Ruth. The Girl Next Door.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2014.

This was Rendell’s next-to-last novel — her 65th in fifty years of published work — and it’s a good one. It’s marketed as a “murder mystery,” but that’s not really true since we know from the outset who killed the adulterous young wife and her lover back in the summer of 1944.

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Price, Richard. The Whites.

NY: Henry Holt, 2015.

I’ve been aware of Price for a few years, ever since the rave reviews of Clockers, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading him before now. But this one has been on everyone’s “Best of the Year” list, so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did. It’s certainly on my own list of the year’s best.

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Hill, Reginald. A Killing Kindness.

NY: Pantheon, 1980.

This sixth entry in the long-running series about Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel of Mid-Yorkshire CID and his crew is the best so far in terms of plot and action, and also in the way Hill handles the killer’s motives. On the other hand, it’s pretty wince-producing as you witness the way the loud, fat, arse-scratching, anti-intellectual, woman-belittling, suspect-abusing, science-dismissing Dalziel goes about his work.

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Published in: on 10 March 2016 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hill, Reginald. A Pinch of Snuff.

NY: Harper, 1978.

In the last book of the “Superintendent Dalziel” series, Andy Dalziel pretty much had the story to himself, DI Peter Pascoe having departed on his honeymoon. In this fifth offering, the opposite is the case. Pascoe is visiting his dentist, Dr. Shorter, and after the filling is tapped in, he’s asked to have a drink and give some advice.

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