Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday New Releases--When There's a Crime, It's Mystery Time, Featuring Lee Child, Charles Todd, Benjamin Black, Daniel Woodrell, and Bob Shacochis, Plus Our Upcoming Mystery Events, Including James Benn's Latest, Which is On Sale Today.

I told Greg that September 10 was a really big release week and he said, oh, you should see what we've received for the 3rd. There is certainly enough hardcover fiction to choose from. The first title that caught my attention is the first novel from Bob Shacochis in many years. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul (Atlantic Monthly Press) takes place in 1990s Haiti, and begins with a humanitarian lawyer investigating the death of a photojournalist. Shacochis tells NPR: "The book's title character came from a real-life encounter Shacochis had while he was working as a reporter in Haiti. He was sitting at a hotel bar in Port-au-Prince when a striking and mysterious female photojournalist approached him and asked him if he knew any voodoo priests. She said she had lost her soul."

Daniel Woodrell's last novel was only seven years ago. His new one is  The Maid's Version (Little, Brown). Like Shachocis, his story is sort of a mystery-literary hybrid.  A Missouri maid investigates a dance hall explosion that killed her sister. Was it an accident? Could it have been the local preacher, mobsters, gypsies, or someone else? Leah Greenblatt, having given Woodrell an A in Entertainment Weekly, writes "It's almost as if Woodrell, the master of celebrated Ozark-gothic reveries like Winter's Bone, writes his sentences in clotted cream, where other authors work in skim milk. In just a few curlicued lines, dozens of West Table's citizens — bankers and derelicts, brimstone preachers and good-time girls — are brought vividly to life."

Benjamin Black is an author who doesn't like to mix genre, so when he's not writing mysteries, he writes as John Banville, though I'd definitely say that the one Banville I did read, The Book of Evidence, had a mystery element. Holy Orders (Holt), the newest in the Quirke series (this is #5) is set in 1950s Dublin when the Church and government work hand in hand to control the media and hush up the crimes of the day. But Quirke, as they say, can't play by those rules, and when the friend of his daughter Phoebe turns up dead, it's time to get to the bottom of things. Ed Siegel writes in WBUR Boston's The Artery that "critics who cavil at the deficiencies in Black’s story development are missing what makes the books so good. It barely matters who done it." Hey, he notes that the Black novels are actually less abstract than the Banville ones.

Also mysteries, also under a pseudonym (a mother and son, this time), but hardly abstract are the Charles Todd novels, the latest being A Question of Honor (William Morrow). Bess Crawford learns from a dying soldier that years earlier, a series of murders that deviled her father's regiment might have been committed by someone still alive and not caught. She had been sure that Lieutentant Wade had died. How can she do anything but investigate? As Ben Steelman writes in the (Wilmington, North Carolina) Star News: "The game is afoot, although even the most devoted fans have to wonder how Bess is managing to get so much home leave to pursue her investigations. But after a while it hardly matters, as the Todds spin a tight yarn, with just enough suspects and red herrings to keep whodunit fans enthralled." Note to Charles and Diane Todd: Anne likes this series a lot!

So what was originally supposed to be a fiction post has morphed into one that clearly focuses on mysteries. I'm pretty sure we'll shelve Woodrell and Shacochis in fiction, but it's also clear that in both cases, the story is basically about a possible crime and its subsequent investigation. That's the case with Lee Child, an author that is shelved in our green thriller case. His newest is Never Go Back, #18 in the series, shows me that while some series are discrete chapters, the Jack Reacher books are one long plotline. As the publisher notes, Child here" throws Reacher for a loop that will change the man forever, and send him into his most perilous mission yet. Finally arriving in Virginia, hoping to see the woman he spoke to on the phone in 61 Hours, Reacher finds himself drafted back into the Army and facing a case that digs deep into his past-and has personal ramifications that could change Reacher for life."

My former coworker Jack always used to tell folks to start the series at #5. At 18 books strong, I can tell you that we don't have the entire series, but that would change if Mr. Child ever decided to stop by. Hey, I think this is good time to remind you of our upcoming mystery and mystery crossover events.  In most cases, the Mystery One event is two hours prior, but in the case of Benn and Paretsky, it's two hours after.

 Saturday, September 7, 2 pm
James Benn, author of A Blind Goddess.
Also sale today! Anne loves the Billy Boyle series! The Seattle Post Intelligencer (it's actually called the PI on their website, which is appropriate) posted a review from The Dirty Lowdown on James Benn's Death's Door (Soho), from 2012. DL writes "Benn's research is admirable and the expert way in which he uses this historical data to tell a riveting story is brilliant. The story has the feel of an old time adventure story, and Benn's marvelous dialog bring the characters to life. If this is your first taste of James R. Benn and Billy Boyle, then I dare you not to read the other six novels. Historical mysteries just don't get any better than this."

Wednesday, September 11, 7 pm:
Oliver Pötzsch, author of The Ludwig Conspiracy.
Nick has a rec on this.

Thursday, September 12, 7 pm:
Erin Hart, author of The Book of Killowen.
Hart is appearing with her husband, Paddy O'Brien, for an Irish themed evening.

Thursday, October 17, 7 pm:
George Pelecanos, author of The Double.
I just had a customer squeal with delight when I told her Pelecanos was coming.

Thursday, October 24, 7 pm
Tom Franklin and Beth Anne Fennelly, authors of The Tilted World.
Stacie has a rec for the newest. I don't think you'd call this a mystery but Franklin is coming off the Edgar award for his previous novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

Sunday, October 27, 3 pm:
Sara Paretsky, author of Critical Mass.
This just got moved back from 2:30, because of a flight change. That's our second this week!

Wow! That's quite a list. No wonder we're featuring the authors' books at the front counter display for a few weeks. That and the fact that we had 175 folks in the store for Louise Penny.  If you're interested in a signed copy, just put that in the notes when you order. I should note that we require prepayment on personalized signed copies.

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