Carlson, David L. & Landis Blair. The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry.

NY: First Second, 2017.

If you’re in the market for a really involving graphic novel that will keep you absorbed for hours and have you hunting up background material so you can learn more, I strongly recommend this one. It’s the winter of 1959 in Chicago and ten-year-old Charlie Rizzo has just returned to live with his father following his divorced mother’s death in California. He doesn’t really know his father that well, except that he’s blind and writes poetry, but his mother and grandmother had felt the need to “save” Charlie from him five years earlier.

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Ingolfsson, Viktor Arnar. Daybreak.

Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2013 (first published 2005 in Icelandic).

I don’t know what it is about Scandinavian mystery writers, and about Icelandic writers in particular, but they’re both very similar to and very different from the classic Anglo-American police procedural. And Ingofsson is one of the best of them, so it’s a puzzle why this one had to wait eight years to be published in translation.

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Published in: on 11 September 2018 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Quammen, David. The Soul of Viktor Tronko.

Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1987.

I first read this marvelous Cold War spy story when it was first published, but I recently came across it via Kindle Unlimited and enjoyed it all over again. John Le Carre is still the best there is at this stuff, but Quammen comes a close second. But where Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was inspired by Kim Philby and is a very British take on the period, the character of Claude Sparrow is clearly a version of James Jesus Angleton, who nearly destroyed the CIA with his hyper-paranoia (and did, in real life, destroy the careers of a number of more or less innocent agents).

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Scalzi, John. Head On.

NY: Tor, 2018.

Scalzi is a purveyor of idea-based science fiction who can almost always be relied on for highly original concepts combined with a fluent and frequently cheeky style of writing. That was certainly the case with Lock In (2014), in which an influenza-like global pandemic killed hundreds of millions and left millions more fully awake and aware but completely paralyzed and dependent on machines for life. The U.S. government poured billions into developing ways of coping (helped by the fact that the First Lady, Margaret Haden, was one of the victims) and now, a couple decades later (not far in our own future), things have settled down. And “Hadens,” as they are now known, are being reintegrated.

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Clowes, Daniel. David Boring.

NY: Pantheon, 2000.

Clowes has done several first-rate graphic novels that have won awards. This, unfortunately, is not one of them. In fact, it lives up to its name: It’s utterly boring.

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Published in: on 1 July 2018 at 7:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Perry, Thomas. The Bomb Maker.

NY: Mysterious Press, 2018.

Perry has written some two dozen books, most of them thrillers of one variety or another — but not “mysteries,” because you always know whodunit from the beginning. It’s more a matter of witnessing what the Bad Guys do, how that affects those around them, and how their assorted nemeses attempt to stop them. (And they don’t always succeed.) This one involves a nameless killer with no political or other outside motivation who is very, very good at building bombs. Why? He wants to lure in and kill off the LAPD bomb squad, and he manages to get appalling close to his goal.

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Mina, Denise (adaped). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

2v. NY: Vertigo 2012.

I read a lot of graphic fiction, and I’ve also read and enjoyed Larsson’s original novel twice now, so I was surprised to find I had somehow missed this graphic adaptation of it by Denise Mina — a mystery/thriller author whose books I have also enjoyed.

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Lovesey, Peter. Beau Death.

NY: SohoPress, 2017.

This series about Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Bath CID has been generally pretty good. The first couple of volumes were problematic, frankly, but then the author got a handle on his characters and now he’s up to adventure no. 17. Diamond runs into oddball situations in nearly every book, and this one is no different.

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Sjowall, Maj & Per Wahloo. The Laughing Policeman.

NY: Pantheon, 1970.

Scandinavian police-procedural crime novels are a fixture for American lovers of mystery yarns now, but when this one was first published in the U.S. in 1970, it was considered exotic. It also won an Edgar. It was the fourth of ten novels featuring Stockholm’s Detective Superintendent Martin Beck, a rather dour character with marital problems and a teenage daughter who gives him heartburn.

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Audley, Anselm & Elizabeth Edmondson. A Matter of Loyalty.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2017.

Elizabeth Edmondson doesn’t seem to be a very widely known author, but she’s a very good one — for all that I only discovered her stuff myself through Kindle Unlimited. She’s done a number of “suspense-romance” novels and then the “Classic English Mysteries” of which this is the third installment — and also, unfortunately, the last, since the author died in the middle of the first draft.

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