Windling Terri. Bordertown: A Chronicle of the Borderlands.

NY: Armadillo Press. 1986.

In the mid-’80s, “urban fantasy” was just beginning to be a thing. Instead of Tolkien’s white-haired wizards and ethereal elves, we had punks with silver hair and pointy ears wearing red leather and torn jeans and riding spell-powered motorcycles. Windling and a couple of her friends set up the background for what became an amazing and very influential series of fantasy short stories and a few novels,

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Hill, Reginald. Dialogues of the Dead.

NY: Delacorte, 2001.

This long-running mystery series (of which this is the 17th volume) started out in 1970 as nothing remarkable. Well enough written, but pretty standard stuff about the detecting adventures of the bluntly profane and bearlike Superintendent Dalziel, head of Mid-Yorkshire CID, and his sidekick, the university-educated Peter Pascoe — originally a detective sergeant, now a chief inspector. Later, we met Sergeant Wield, who is gay, the ugliest cop in the country, and has a mind like a computer.

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Spark, Muriel. Memento Mori.

NY: St. Martin, 1959.

It’s the late ’50s in London, and what with two world wars during their lifetimes there are a lot of now-elderly middle and upper-middle class widows around. A dozen of them, either old or infirm or both, inhabit a row of beds at the Maud Long Medical Ward, all of them resentful at being patronized by the staff as “Granny.”

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Published in: on 20 February 2017 at 4:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hill, Reginald. Arms and the Women.

NY: Delacorte, 1999.

Detective Superintendent “Fat Andy” Dalziel, head of Mid-Yorkshire CID, and his able right hand, the more intellectual (and liberal) DCI Peter Pascoe, have been at their jobs a long time. Together with the notably ugly (and gay) Sergeant Wield, they constitute a well-oiled machine when it comes to solving crimes. But this time, the guys are sidelined somewhat by the ladies.

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Mackler, Carolyn. Infinite In Betweeen.

NY: HarperCollins, 2015.

This is the first of Mackler’s YA books I’ve read and it’s not bad. The structure is a little strange, but it seems to work. The focus is on five kids in a town in central New York as they make the journey through four years of high school. In freshman orientation, as an “ice-breaker,” all the new students are broken into groups of five to share some kind of socially useful activity.

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Tomine, Adrian. Summer Blonde.

Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2003.

I enjoy “graphic fiction” — not superhero stuff, mostly, but realistic stories. Real people dealing with the real world. Tomine made his reputation with carefully-drawn, multi-dimensional portraits of people just like his readers, and you’ll find a number of them in these four stories, all of which are set in San Francisco.

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Published in: on 11 February 2017 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hill, Reginald. On Beulah Height.

NY: Delacorte, 1998.

Things haven’t been going very smoothly lately for DCI Peter Pascoe of Mid-Yorkshire CID. He recently discovered his grandfather had been executed by firing squad in Flanders by his own side for not being sufficiently enthusiastic about the War, and his rage at the unjustness of it, even eighty years later, is quietly consuming him. And in this episode in Hill’s award-winning series, he suddenly faces a threat even closer to home that he has no way to combat.

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Hill, Reginald. The Wood Beyond.

NY: Delacorte, 1996.

This excellent police procedural series has reached the point now where the author feels sufficiently secure to experiment with narrative methods and side-plots. And it mostly works. DCI Peter Pascoe of Mid-Yorkshire CID is away from the job at the moment, overseeing the cremation of his recently deceased grandmother, who (he’s regretfully aware) could be hard work at times. The old lady had a lot of secrets, the most important ones dating back to her girlhood during the Great War. Pascoe is going to spend much of the book gradually uncovering those unsettling revelations and they’re going to have a profound effect on him.

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Damrosch, Phoebe. Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter.

NY: Harper, 2007.

Like many people, I often enjoy “behind the scenes” books that purport to tell you what really happens in the hotel trade, or in the teacher’s lounge, or (in this case) in fancy restaurants.

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Published in: on 2 February 2017 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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