Sansom, Ian. The Norfolk Mystery.

NY: HarperCollins, 2013.

This is a period mystery yarn that probably won’t appeal to everyone because of the main character’s rather pushy all-knowingness, but it’s kind of an interesting read. In 1932, Stephen Sefton graduates from Oxford with a poor third-class English degree (he’d spent too much time carousing as a student), so he spends a few years teaching at the poorer sort of public (i.e., private) boys’ schools. Then, fighting off boredom, he joins the Communist Party and in 1936 he goes off to fight the Falangists in Spain.



Scheer, Kodi. Midair.

NY: Little A, 2016.

The author teaches writing at the University of Michigan, and this may or may not be her first published novel, but it’s not a bad effort. It’s also quite short — barely 200 pages — but she packs a lot into it. It’s the summer of 1999 and Vanessa Baxter is eighteen, a recent high school graduate from a semi-rural Chicago suburb, and she has just arrived in Paris with three of her classmates. Her single-parent family, unlikely those of her friends, has no money to speak of, but the girls managed to find sponsors for the trip and now they’re settling into a tiny short-term apartment on the Île de la Cité. Nessie is the brainy one, and also one of the class rejects.


Hill, Reginald. Good Morning, Midnight.

NY: HarperCollins, 2004.

I began reading my way straight through this lengthy series several years ago (this is the 21st volume) and I’ve come to greatly enjoy the gradually developing collegial relationship between Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel, the boss of Mid-Yorkshire CID, and his star subordinate, DCI Peter Pascoe, who is about as different a personality as it’s possible to be — and also the recurring supporting cast, including Sergeant Edgar Wield, the ugliest cop in Britain, who is also gay and has a memory like a computer. Other members of the team have featured in the stories over time, most recently Shirley “Ivor” Novello and “Hat” Bowler, both smart and ambitious young DCs.


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.


Published in: on 27 December 2016 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mina, Denise. The End of the Wasp Season.

NY: Little, Brown, 2011.

Mina has a knack for taking a novel, supposedly a single story, and reworking it as a cluster of related and converging stories, each with its own principal characters, its own interrelationships, its own plotline. The POV person in one will be a supporting player in one or more of the others.


Murakami, Haruki. Norwegian Wood.

NY: Random House, 2000.

It’s 1989 and thirty-seven-year-old Toru Watanabe has just flown into Hamburg when he hears the Beatles song of the title coming over the 747’s sound system. And he’s instantly back in Tokyo in 1969, a college freshman facing his twentieth birthday. Toru is something of an intellectual — he read Balzac and Mann and Updike in high school, though his favorite author seems to be Scott Fitzgerald — but he thinks of himself as something of a slacker.


Lovesey, Peter. Upon a Dark Night.

NY: Mysterious Press, 1997.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of Bath — “the murder man,” as he describes himself — has been almost too successful. There hasn’t been enough serious crime lately and his blood pressure is up for lack of intellectual exercise. His rival, DCI Wigfull, has the apparent suicide by shotgun of an aged, reclusive farmer to look into, and Diamond wonders what the odds are that it might really be a murder.


Published in: on 17 August 2014 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rankin, Ian. Black and Blue.

NY: St. Martin, 1997.

Back in the late ‘60s, a serial killer had the Scottish police losing sleep and women all over Scotland looking over their shoulders. Because of his habit of leaving Bible verses with his victims, the newspapers dubbed him “Bible John.” And then he disappeared and the murders are still unsolved. (All this is true, actually.)


Lippman, Laura. Charm City.

NY: Avon, 1997.

This was the author’s second novel, and the second featuring Baltimore native Tess Monaghan, who was an up-and-coming newspaper reporter until two years ago, when the paper was sold and she was laid off, along with nearly all the rest of the existing staff.


Grisham, John. The Testament.

NY: Doubleday, 1999.

“Lawyer novels” are a specialty it’s sometimes hard to get a grip on. Scott Turow (one of my favorites), for instance, writes excellent, gripping stories about legal maneuvering and the technicalities of courtroom drama. Grisham, on the other hand, seems to write mostly human-focused melodrama with a legal flavor, which isn’t the same thing.