Swierczynski, Duane. Revolver.

NY: Mulholland Books, 2016.

I stumbled on one of this author’s earlier crime novels a few years ago and became an almost instant fan of his rather noir style. He’s a Philadelphian through and through and the seamy side of the city he knows so well becomes a character in his books, too. And this time, he indulges in an unusual sort of narrative strategy.

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Bujold, Lois McMaster. Memory.

NY: Baen Books, 1996.

If you’re a fan of the Miles Vorkosigan space-opera novels (and there are lots of them out there), you’ve gotten used to the essential psychological dichotomy between the necessarily proper and staid (relatively speaking) heir to the Barrayaran countship on one hand and the “Little Admiral” in charge of the Dendarii Mercenaries, who operates with the brakes and governors off. But this book constitutes a major change in Miles’s life.

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Winters, Ben. The Last Policeman.

Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2012.

Henry Palace has always wanted to be a police detective, and now he is one, after only sixteen months as a patrolman on the Concord, New Hampshire, police force. That’s an unusually rapid promotion, but everything is different these days. After all, Asteroid 2011GV1 is due to strike the Earth on October 3 and it’s already late March.

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Published in: on 21 August 2012 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Waid, Mark & Paul Azaceta. Potter’s Field.

Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2009.

This graphic novel is a very telling example of the good idea which is well executed at first, but which ultimately fails for other reasons. “Potter’s Field,” of course, is the traditional name for the burial place to which paupers and unknown persons are consigned by local government.

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Published in: on 2 March 2012 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Benn, James R. The First Wave.

NY: Soho Press, 2007.

Billy Boyle was a young Boston cop, just promoted to detective, when the Pearl Harbor attack catapulted him into the army. He’s also (supposedly) a distant cousin of Gen. Eisenhower, and his intention in the first book of this entertaining series was to use that connection to land a nice, safe spot on the security detail at the War Department — but instead, he found himself at Uncle Ike’s headquarters in London, dodging air raids.

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Atkinson, Kate. Started Early, Took My Dog.

NY: Little, Brown, 2011.

The “narrative strategy” is the overall design or plan a novelist adopts to facilitate the telling of the story. It has to be coherent and it has to be deliberately chosen and consistently adhered to or the book just doesn’t work. Atkinson’s strategy this time is to introduce a number of characters who, at the beginning of the story, don’t know of each other’s existence (or don’t realize they know), but all of whom are involved in some way, past or present, with the key facts and events. As in her previous books, a sort of carefully crafted randomness.

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Larsson, Stieg. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

NY: Knopf, 2008.

Scandinavian crime and mystery novels are somewhat different in style and approach from the Anglo-American versions and this first volume of a trilogy is no exception. For one thing, it progresses very slowly, especially at the beginning, and the back-stories of the principal characters are presented at very great length. But you should stick with it, because by the time you get eighty or a hundred pages in, you’ll be hooked.

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Published in: on 30 January 2011 at 7:26 am  Comments (1)  
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