PositiveThe Seattle TimesA more somber tale, Jeffrey Fleishman’s Last Dance, opens with the apparent overdose in Los Angeles of Katrina Ivanovna, a famed Russian ballerina ... Carver is a complex, laconic, melancholy figure, and Fleishman — a veteran correspondent and the foreign and national editor at the Los Angeles Times — paints him in nuanced detail and lovely prose. Equally well evoked is the city itself.
PositiveThe Seattle Times... a doozy ... Both a captivating thriller and a snarkily funny send-up of Hollywood pretensions, the book glories in movie references — film fans will be especially rewarded.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesThe situation could be played for laughs, and there are frequent flashes of wit. But overall Lovesey keeps it straightforward, planting clever clues, a big surprise and a tense climax in the labyrinthine ruins of the town’s Roman baths.
Helene Tursten Trans. by Paul Norlen
PositiveThe Seattle Times\"... a solid and absorbing story ... Tursten takes her time staging the story, focusing on fine descriptions of her rugged setting and the engaging, tough young detective. In this book, bad things happen more to animals than to people, so critter lovers beware — Tursten’s descriptions of the hunt and related violence are seriously explicit.\
Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Trans. by Victoria Cribb
RaveThe Seattle Times\"Nordic crime fiction continues to be perennially popular and first-rate, with good reason. Case in point: The Reckoning ... complex, nuanced ... The banter between Huldar and Freyja, who share a messy romantic past, balances the book’s gravity with humor. That said, this book is not for the faint of heart: The Reckoning is dark, grave and graphic — but also gripping and compassionate.\
MixedThe Seattle TimesAs skilled as Cumming is, he’s left a couple of gaping holes. Let’s start with the book’s title: Bartok is Hungarian, not Moroccan ... Far worse is his hero’s mind-bending naiveté. Readers will see the two big reveals coming long before Carradine does. Nonetheless, even a minor effort from Cumming is engrossing.
Boris Akunin, Trans. by Andrew Bromfield
PositiveThe Seattle Times\"Droll, incisive, and fiendishly clever, The Coronation is part ripping adventure story, part Downton Abbey-ish comedy of manners, and all fun.\
RaveThe Seattle TimesThe Trial of Lizzie Borden, Cara Robertson’s powerful debut, is a bracing and insightful take on a famous double murder ... Robertson remains scrupulously impartial and has an understated but gripping style ... Robertson also expands on her story to vividly portray its Gilded Age setting and its social issues—still with us today. Among them: class and gender inequality, our relentless appetite for scandal, and, in the trial’s breathless media coverage, the blurring of serious reportage with histrionic opinion.
PositiveThe Seattle Times\"How to describe Jasper Fforde’s Early Riser... ? As an absurdist thriller? Fantasy or speculative fiction? Social satire? Love story? Worst travelogue about Wales ever? Answer: All of the above. It’s a shaggy, gleeful mashup of all that and more. Sometimes overcooked and frustrating, but never boring ... In Early Riser, you can expect more seriously goofy characters, blindingly inventive plots and deep pools of dubious puns, along with occasional serious points about the dangers of social engineering and capitalist greed ... Advice to readers: Don’t be daunted by the book’s initial blizzard of puzzling jargon, or by the (sometimes overburdened) plotlines. It’s worth it. Don’t skip the footnotes or you’ll miss some good jokes, like the reference to a drug called Kenorbarbydol.\
RaveThe Seattle TimesJohn Harvey...wraps up another first-class series with Body & Soul ... Harvey’s taut, fast-paced plotting and lean prose lead to a heartbreaking climax. Body and Soul is both a top-notch procedural and a powerful tale of a gulf between a father and daughter—and the ties that can bind them together.
PositiveThe Seattle Times\"... a shrewd and thoroughly entertaining yarn ... Horowitz sticks close to old-school Bond, and overall the spy remains a two-fisted force of nature — utterly suave, worldly and able to bounce back from even the most brutal of beatings. Nonetheless, the author has great fun occasionally subverting classic Bond tropes.\
PositiveThe Seattle Times\"... [a] superior espionage thriller ... [Porter] could rival John le Carré, the gold standard for espionage thrillers that value intelligence and social conscience over shoot-’em-up thrills ... Though sometimes slowed by a subplot concerning betting on horses, it’s a genuinely thrilling chase, filled with bighearted empathy for refugees — something sorely needed.\
Howard Michael Gould
PositiveThe Seattle TimesComic crime novelists can try too hard ... But they can also get it right ... TV writer Gould’s good-natured humor ranges from showbiz satire to Charlie’s bemused takes on modern urban life. And his characters are great, including volatile, charming Pinch and Charlie’s new friend, a kindergarten teacher who (as they so often do) moonlights as a porno star.
PositiveThe Seattle Times\"... a stunning new take on [the trope of heroes descending into the underworld] ... a bravura example of his verbal skills, supple prose, deep compassion and unpredictable plot twists ... The Feral Detective is a rickety contraption that sometimes threatens to overturn. But somehow it all hangs together, racing across the desert at hallucinatory speed and echoing our nation’s splintering social landscape.\
Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz
RaveThe Seattle TimesWhen the subject is this fascinating and the telling so expertly done, it’s hard to resist ... The story’s been told before, and those conversant with the subject won’t find much revelatory material. But Collins (a prolific crime-fiction writer) and Schwartz (a historian) tell it well, wisely focusing on two wildly different personalities: the outgoing, sometimes strangely generous and frequently ruthless Capone and the relentless, righteous Ness. Considering its 550 pages of text, plus extensive notes and bibliography, reading the book is a major commitment. But for anyone interested in this eternally interesting historical period, it’s essential.
MixedThe Seattle TimesThe Sinners is the latest in Ace Atkins’ expert and reliable series about Quinn Colson, the resourceful sheriff of (fictional) Tibbehah County — the \'armpit\' of Mississippi, as Atkins styles it ... The prospect of family life causes the cop to reconsider his dangerous and all-consuming job, but change isn’t going to happen soon ... The Sinners may not be the best in the series, and (as with most series) neophytes might want to start at the beginning: the characters get more richly developed as things progress. But this is still an exciting and often darkly funny ride.
RaveThe Seattle TimesThis hell-for-leather, scurrilously funny thriller is simply dazzling, despite the fact that you’d be hard-pressed to find a line suitable for quoting in a family-minded newspaper ... Into his already messy plot, Truhen tosses some serious strangeness—including a guy wearing clothes covered in knives, some really cosmic sex, a top-secret banking system and a genuinely novel use for a compressed-air cannon. The result is fizzy and cartoony, but in a good way. Love it or hate it—there’s not much middle ground here.
RaveThe Seattle Times\"Christopher Buckley is one of the sharpest, most wickedly funny, big-hearted political satirists we’ve got ... Like The Relic Master,The Judge Hunter is a brisk and invigorating trot into the political and religious nuttiness of old. It also combines real and imagined historical characters, a boisterous plot, and a couple of serious themes that resonate with the current climate of D.C. ... Despite The Judge Hunter’s overall comic tone, its author has some serious points to make about bigots, hypocrites, and religious fanatics — not to mention authorities who implicitly condone violence against any dissenters. The result is a deft combination of serious matters with the author’s bracingly rational attitude and penchant for dry, slightly snarky humor. It’s just a hoot.\
RaveThe Seattle TimesSunburn, as any good noir should be, is satisfyingly swift, intricate and hotblooded, with both a big heart and a wicked sting.
James Lee Burke
MixedThe Seattle TimesTo say that Robicheaux is a complex man is a serious understatement: He’s twice widowed, a devoted father, a PTSD-haunted Vietnam veteran and an alcoholic who sometimes stumbles on the recovery road. And, growing old, he’s experiencing increasing signals of mortality. But Robicheaux also has a cast-iron moral code … Burke has profound gifts for bracing dialogue, meditations on morality and ethics, and lyrical but tough-minded prose ... Some readers might dislike Burke’s generally humorless and occasionally overwrought prose style, and they may tire of the themes and character types he has returned to over the decades...But there’s no denying it: There’s nothing quite like a James Lee Burke book
RaveThe Seattle TimesRevealing the plot of Angelmaker doesn't adequately render its gleeful genre mashup, but here goes; Joe Spork is the clock-man. Asked to examine an insanely complex mechanism, he releases those mechanical bees and inadvertently triggers a doomsday machine ... Flashbacks to WWII-era spy stuff provide a rich backstory, explaining the steampunkish origins of the machine as well as a deadly game of good (the elderly assassin) versus evil (the fiend) ...the younger writer can hold his head high: Angelmaker is brilliant, wholly original, and a major-league hoot.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesRee Dolly, the heroine of Daniel Woodrell's luminous new novel, is 'brunette and sixteen, with milk skin and abrupt green eyes ... [standing] tall in combat boots, scarce at the waist but plenty through the arms and shoulders, a body made for loping after needs' ... Ree's experiences with these and other figures are brutal and often gruesome, and the story's end is an eerie surprise ... Winter's Bone is compact, atmospheric and deeply felt, drenched in the sights, sounds and smells of the author's native Ozarks ...tap a ferocious, ancient manner of storytelling, shrewdly combining a poet's vocabulary with the vivid, old-fashioned vernacular of the backwoods. They're forces of nature.
Martin Cruz Smith
PositiveThe Seattle TimesThe Girl from Venice — while undeniably thrilling — is, at heart, a tender love story ... The characters in The Girl from Venice are less nuanced than those in the best of Smith’s work. But the book is still strong — a gripping evocation of a beautiful nation and of two people, trapped in the lunacy of war and the bravery it can inspire.
John le Carre
RaveThe Seattle Times...this memoir is a glittering treasure-chest of great stories — some sobering, some funny, but always incisive, witty and spellbinding. The prose is silky smooth, and the voice is effortlessly fluent. The anecdotes glide between present and past tenses, providing the added intimacy of a born storyteller ... despite his selectiveness, le Carré has always been a peerless storyteller — and central to both espionage and novel writing is the ability to make up stuff and get others to buy it. No matter. Even when taken with a grain of salt, The Pigeon Tunnel is pure pleasure.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesGood title, brilliant topic, absorbing book ... The book sometimes feels padded with off-topic musings, including asides about the writer’s personal life. Greenwood rarely reflects on her topic’s deeper implications, preferring to maintain a breezy, chatty style. But she redeems such faults by offering excellent other stuff, notably the story of her visit to the Philippines.
PositiveThe Seattle Times...terrifically entertaining ... Cotterill cleverly merges Siri’s resulting adventure with case of the three murdered women.
RaveThe Seattle TimesThe pithy title of Grunt is a little misleading. It is not about infantry. (Or nonverbal sounds made by humans.) The subtitle explains it all: The Curious Science of Humans at War. But anyone looking for insights into, say, calculating ordnance trajectories will be disappointed. Roach...focuses instead on research that makes servicemen and -women healthier, more comfortable and more effective soldiers...Sometimes Grunt’s footnotes are as entertaining and informative as the text.
RaveThe Seattle TimesProlific, versatile, and ridiculously talented, O’Nan is no stranger to historical fiction; previous novels include a World War II homefront story (A World Away) and West of Sunset, a brilliant take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s troubled final years. Now, with this slim but complex book, O’Nan takes a clear-eyed and unsentimental look at an astonishing slice of history — one that is strikingly echoed by the heartbreaking events still unfolding in the Middle East.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesBuckley comes by his right to satirize politics honestly: His father was conservative columnist William F. Buckley. The same is true for his right to talk about the Church: The author was raised and educated as a Catholic. Buckley’s stake on religion makes The Relic Master a witty, deft and often surprisingly big-hearted pleasure.
PositiveThe Seattle Times“Sisman’s portrait is cogent, tirelessly researched, and always absorbing. It’s also massive, and sometimes overly detailed.”