Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Mysteries and Thrillers at Boswell: Laura Lippman, Laurie King, C.J. Sansom, Ariana Franklin (and Daughter) and Lene Kaaberbol.

We're very excited about the crime novelists who are visiting Boswell this March. There's Joseph Kanon on Wednesday, March 11, 7 pm for Leaving Berlin and Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt, who is appearing at Boswell for The Whites on Saturday, March 21, 2 pm. If there's one author we'd love to host in the store someday, it would be Laura Lippman. All the mystery folks in town seem to be friends with her and have , which would probably expand to several more of us with an upcoming event. Even I, not the most dependable mystery reader, have read at least three of her novels, if not more. Lippman tends to alternate stand-alones with new entries in the Tess Monaghan series, but even her series books have morphed from the early days of Baltimore Blues..

Her new book is Hush, Hush, and we have a great read from Sharon Nagel. She writes: "Tess Monaghan is back, and this time she is balancing motherhood with the perils of being a private detective. She and her business partner, Sandy Sanchez, are asked to assess the security needs of Melisandre Harris Dawes, a woman who was acquitted of leaving her infant daughter to die in a hot car a decade before. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Now, she is back in town to reunite with her remaining teenage daughters, and film a documentary about the whole thing. As a mother herself, Tess has mixed feelings about working for this client, who is haughty and domineering. As frustrated as she gets with Carla Scout, her own strong-willed daughter, she cannot fathom making the choices that Melisandre has. Whether you are a new reader of Laura Lippman, or a longtime fan of Tess Monaghan, drop into Baltimore to enjoy her latest mystery."

Going back in time a bit is Laurie King's series, featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Everyone loves Sherlock, because he is public domain, thought the heirs are still fighting this out. The argument is that his personality was augmented in later works that fall past the 1923 copyright cutoff. I'll let you decide the case on that one. But Dreaming Spies, the latest case of Mary Russell, also known as Mrs. Sherlock Holmes takes place on a steamer to Japan, with travel on to California afterwards. S.H. recognizes the Earl of Darley said to be a blackmailer. And then there is Haruki Sato, a young Japanese girl who offers to teach the couple haiku, but M.R. thinks she's hiding something. The results are shocking, "involving international extortion, espionage, and the shocking secrets that, if revealed, could spark revolution—and topple an empire" say our friends at Bantam.

Is every mystery writer with a new book named Laura? No, there's also C.J. Sansom, whose Sheldrake series, whose Sheldrake series started with Dissolution in 2003. For some reason, there was a four-year break between entries five and six, but he's back with Lamentation. The new book finds King Henry VIII on his death bed (it's 1546) and Catherine Parr, his sixth wife, under attack by Catholics. Parr is Sheldrake's one-time memoir, so he helps her recover a stolen manuscript, only one page has been found, clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer. I don't know what the context is, but Kate Atkinson is quoted as calleing Sansom "one of my favorite writers," while the late P.D. James branded C.J. "among the most distinguished of modern historical novelists." Alfred Hickling writes in the UK Guardian that "his interpretation of history is always strongly substantiated and frequently provocative."

These historical/mystery hybrids are quite popular, particularly in, as you'd guess, Great Britain. The late Ariana Franklin, author of Mistress in the Art of Death, has had her new book finished off by Samantha Norman, her daughter. Set in the 12th century, the book is called The Siege Winter, or if you are outside the United States, Winter Siege? Huh? Doesn't reviews from The Economist and Financial Times and all these websites like the Guardian and Independent make it more important than ever to keep titles across territories, especially when the change is inconsequential? Civil War has divided the country, as King Stephen vies for the crown with Empress Matilda. Who? It would have been nice if my high school or college coursework touched on English history beyond the Magna Carta. So in this book, a young peasant girl is attacked and left for dead, but she finds a protector, who dresses her as a boy, and  well, together their story converges with the two factions vying for dominance (plus I assume she has to take vengeance on her awful tormentor). Lots of great reviews on this, plus a quote from the obviously comparable Sharon Kay Penman.

And finally, Doctor Death, the start of a series, from Lene Kaaberbol. It's 1894 in Varbourg and little Madeleine Karno wants to grow up to be a pathologist, which we know from P.D. James is an unsuitable job for a woman, except of course in books. A young girl is found dead, the family won't permit an autopsy, and Karno and her father find a clue, a parasite only found in dogs in her nostril. And then the priests who held vigil over the girl's body is brutally murdered. Kaaberbol writes another series with Agnete Friis, which started with the popular The Boy in the Suitcase. In her native Denmark she's was previously known as a fantasy writer. The starred Publishers Weekly review offers: "Deftly exploring such themes as the struggles between mind and body, science and spirit—without detracting from a gripping plot—the novel transcends its period to contemplate the eternal." Here's a question-and-answer session with the author on the My Bookish Ways blog. The questions are strangely generic, but that's coming from a man who completely paraphrased the publisher copy to write this round-up post.

Completely paraphrased! But the silly asides are totally original. But here's something you won't find on the jacket--Doctor Death was translated by Elisabeth Dyssegaard.

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