Cameron, Iain. One Last Lesson.

np: CreateSpace, 2014.

Angus Henderson is a Detective Inspector down in Sussex, having apparently left the North under a cloud. He’s a homicide specialist with the usual team of subordinates and access to all the latest SOCO techniques and equipment. He has a yacht (a very small one), a journalist girlfriend who drives fast cars, a guitarist brother who joined the army, a boss who wants to insinuate a buddy onto Henderson’s team, and a rather scruffy flat, and he hates golf and tartan hats. Actually, that’s just the tip of the list.

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Hill, Reginald. Bones and Silence.

NY: Delacorte, 1990.

This is the twelfth volume in the long-running police procedural series, set in Yorkshire, featuring the loud, pushy, profane, bearlike Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and his university-educated, more liberal, and far more intellectual subordinate, DCI Peter Pascoe. Their town includes a semi-professional theater which is gaining a certain measure of regional fame, due to the management of Eileen Chung, bigger than life (and taller than most), who is organizing a revival of the medieval mystery plays. And she wants Dalziel to play God. It’s pure typecasting.

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Published in: on 27 December 2016 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sawyer, Robert J. Quantum Night.

NY: Ace, 2016.

Sawyer is a problematic author. He’s written some first-rate, exciting, well-thought-out science fiction, but he has also produced some terribly clunky, sappy, almost unreadable stuff. This one, I’m happy to say, is one of his best. Sawyer is not in any way a trained scientist — he’s been trying to be a writer since high school and his other jobs seem mostly to have been in bookstores — but he understands the writer’s trick of studying a subject in depth until you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

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Published in: on 25 December 2016 at 7:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hill, Reginald. Underworld.

NY: Scribner, 1988.

This tenth outing for Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel of Mid-Yorkshire CID and his long-suffering right hand, DI Peter Pascoe (who finally gets his promotion to Chief Inspector), takes them into a mining community during the reign of Margaret Thatcher, who was determined to utterly destroy the unions — and very nearly succeeded.

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George, Elizabeth. Missing Joseph.

NY: Bantam, 1993.

Since the death of P. D. James, Elizabeth George has become the leading practitioner of the “literary mystery.” She pays at least as much attention to telling the characters’ stories as people as she does to laying out the mystery plot for the consideration of Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, belted earl and homicide specialist. Which, since he’s based at Scotland Yard, means he spends a lot of his time intruding on other cops’ turf. But we often don’t even meet Lynley and his crew for a hundred pages or more.

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Winkler, John F. Point Pleasant, 1774: Prelude to the American Revolution.

Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2014.

Because of my own family connections, I have a strong interest in the colonists who settled along the Ohio River and in western Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania generally during the mid-18th century. That includes involvement in the Battle of Point Pleasant, which set the stage for the fight between Britain and the new “Americans” in the west.

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Published in: on 16 December 2016 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hill, Reginald. Child’s Play.

NY: Macmillan, 1987.

This is the ninth episode in the adventures of DI Peter Pascoe and his large, profane, heavily biased, but also brilliant boss, Superintendent Andy Dalziel, head of Mid-Yorkshire CID. The first couple of volumes in the series were rather derivative in plot and a bit wobbly in style, but it didn’t take Hill long to find his footing and the past half-dozen books have been excellent. The plots are original and convoluted, the characters are multifaceted, and the tongue-in-cheek humor is delightfully “British.”

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Published in: on 14 December 2016 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bunch, Chris. The Last Battle.

London: Orbit, 2004.

This concluding volume of the “Dragonmaster” trilogy is rather different from the first two, and I don’t think it’s quite as successful. The great war between the nation of Deraine and its junior ally, Sagene, on one side and the loathsome enemy of Roche on the other, a widespread and exhausting conflict that filled the previous two books, is over now, and Hal Kailas, the Dragonmaster of Deraine, is at loose ends.

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Mallison, Jane. Book Smart.

NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Serious readers, of which I am definitely one, are always on the lookout for thoughtful recommendations of other books one should read. This volume is subtitled “Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 Days,” which is pure marketing hype and not really what the author proposes. Mallison isn’t a Ph.D. in literature or a big-time critic.

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Published in: on 9 December 2016 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fellowes, Julian. Belgravia.

NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2016.

The famous ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond in Brussels in June 1815, while Napoleon’s resurgent armies moved in on the city, is one of the great cultural icons in modern British history. Many of the officers in attendance would be fighting for their lives against the French the next day at Quatre Bras, and then Waterloo, and for those who survived, soldiers and civilians alike, the ball was a defining moment in their lives.

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