RaveThe Pittsburg Post-GazetteEverything’s connected here. The reader only has to connect the dots ... There are the expected scenes in the Home Office, spies plotting with (and against) each other, but fewer than usual surprises, and no zinger twist at the end ... This slim (215 pages) posthumous volume is not le Carre’s greatest novel, but it is one of his most touching and satisfying – for putting into high relief this beloved author’s vision for his country and his disappointments, and perhaps most of all, the elegance and coloristic palette of his unique and incomparable prose.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteSomber stuff, but Penny handles it with a light touch, weaving in lively scenes with her familiar cast of Gamache’s colorful neighbors ... In earlier novels, these totally unbelievable characters have been overused and tedious. In the present tale, however, they appear sparingly, and Ruth plays a significant role in directing Gamache to some pertinent facts that may have eluded him.
PositivePIttsburgh Post-Gazette\"Historical accuracy aside, Tapper’s plot is full of holes, starting with the absurdity of Bobby Kennedy blackmailing a Republican lawmaker to do his dirty work. It gets even sillier midway when Charlie and Margaret, separately, do something stupid that lands them in a life-threatening situation intended to be suspenseful from which they are extricated in ways that are even more implausible. Even so, The Devil May Dance is fun to read, with Tapper’s takeoff on the 1962 Oscars a special guilty pleasure. Glibly written, simultaneous funny and horrifying, there’s just enough ring of truth to titillate our memories and make us want to learn more about the foibles of the rich and the famous as we turn the page hungrily at the end of every provocative chapter.
PositiveThe Pittsburg Post-Gazette... a political-legal thriller that should hold the reader rapt from its opening line to the extraordinary climactic courtroom scene that turns the plot upside down with ironic flair and utter conviction. Abrams, a former Georgia state representative who narrowly lost a run for governor last year, is as entertaining as she is erudite ... There are some lapses and inconsistencies in the novel’s construction. The episodes involving Avery’s mother seem extraneous, two violent events are overly predictable and the plot bogs down a little before picking up spectacularly for the final chapters ... Still, this is a page-turner about which the biggest mystery is: How does Abrams find the bandwidth to write and research all this while fighting with all her energy to maintain our right to vote?
Jo Nesbø, tr. Robert Ferguson
RavePittsburgh Post-GazetteMr. Nesbo doesn’t spare the reader a single excruciating detail. Vivid characters speak dialogue that is always pungent and convincing, although Robert Ferguson’s translation is sometimes awkward and unidiomatic, especially in longer descriptive passages ... there are shocks and surprises at every turn ... Mr. Nesbo explores the depths of the human psyche, along with more mundane foibles of a closed society. One of the more interesting questions, not resolved until the end, is just who will survive.
PositiveThe Star TribuneA weakness of the narrative is that Rankin too often allows the uneasy rapport between father and daughter to take focus from the crime element. But it does fill out gaps in what fans already know about the indomitable Inspector ... With this tale unfolding in Rankin\'s fluid and colorful prose, we can hope that Rebus and his old Saab, having survived one more adventure, will return next year for another bout of Caledonian chicanery.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteIn a time when travel is severely limited by the pandemic, Mr. Lovesey’s descriptive passages will have armchair explorers chomping at the bit ... The author indulges in some detective story clichés that weaken his otherwise ingenious plot: a hostile (female) superior officer who impedes Diamond’s progress, an injury in the quarry that further puts the detective out of commission, and an extraneous subplot about human trafficking of Albanian refugees. These are offset, however, by vivid images of Bath’s unknown underground, along with tantalizing tidbits that bring the reader into the heart of this ceaselessly alluring ancient city.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteIt’s a breath of fresh air ... While there are some gritty moments along the way, the warm and fuzzy ending may require an insulin shot for hardened crime novel fans. On the other hand, I learned more than I ever expected to know about a rare earth element called neodymium and its potentially sinister uses ... It’s refreshing to see Gamache’s wife, the irresistible Reine-Marie, given a larger role here in solving the crime ... Ms. Penny is back on track here, giving us new and deeper insights into the Gamache family and several backstories. She’s also in form with a plot that despite a few banalities, is multileveled and complex with character and motivation.
PositiveThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThe plot is light, and thin, and often obvious, despite some unexpected twists, but Mr. Grisham is an irresistible writer. His prose is fluent and gorgeous, and he has an ability to end each segment with a terse sentence than makes it all but impossible not to turn the page.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazettePost emerges as a veritable surrogate and a mouthpiece for the author and his pet cause. The lessons may become a bit preachy at times, but for the most part Mr. Grisham’s colorful prose is riveting, and the issue is a timely one that can be too easily overlooked.
John Le Carre
RavePittsburgh Post-GazetteEvery Le Carre novel is jam packed with surprises, and no one is who you think they are on first meeting ... The author is a master at introducing a character in a few vivid sentences that tell all ... Mr. Le Carre is a great one for keeping the reader guessing, and he’s also willing to let his hero take actions that might seem out of character with what we know of him thus far. Nothing is off-limits in a plot that tricks and fools the reader at just about every twist and turn.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteThere are also fascinating new characters ... The action is very fast moving. Not just each chapter, but almost every subsection ends with a cliffhanger. Though anyone who has read some of the previous installments will anticipate what’s coming, it’s still suspenseful, and once or twice there’s a real surprise. Still, while Lagercrantz is a good imitator, he’s no Stieg Larsson. The last segments seem more contrived than comparable situations in Larsson’s Millennium novels, which went pretty far in demanding the reader’s suspension of disbelief. And while each new novel stands more or less on its own, it requires a detailed three-page list of continuing characters at the beginning to make sense of what’s going on.
MixedPittsburgh Post-Gazette...the book promises far more than it fulfills. Another problem is that her recurring cast of eccentric supporting characters is becoming tiresome ... some...colorful, vivid prose ... Less convincing is the book’s depiction of the dead woman’s father’s headstrong attempts to kill his son-in-law, whom everyone presumes (without proof) to be the murderer. The psychology is sophomoric, and Gamache’s decision to coerce the father to stay in his own house (to protect the father from himself) is implausible. Even more implausible is an extraneous subplot about one of the recurring characters, a local artist named Clara Morrow.
PositiveThe Pittsburgh-Post GazetteDetails: details of time and place, of everything there is to see and hear, of the inner thoughts of the protagonists, of their psychological quirks and long-suppressed emotional injuries, of the music they listen to for comfort and stimulation. And of the most gruesome aspects of rape and murder. These Jo Nesbo hallmarks lead to a complex and unexpected denouement in which every facet falls into place and seems to have been totally logical and inevitable ... If this all seems incredibly complex, it is, but in context of the narrative, it’s less confusing than it sounds in synopsis. Only occasionally does the author test the limits of the reader’s disbelief.
James Lee Burke
MixedPittsburgh Post-Gazette\"The author devotes considerable space to his characters’ ponderings, some of it engaging, much of it tedious and sophomoric. At several points I wanted to say, \'Just get back to the story\' ... Just about every incidental character is compelling and human, and it’s often the case that bad people may do good things ... This is a rambling story. The plot is not without its flaws, and Mr. Burke’s prose can become prolix. The resolution is a little too pat and also abrupt, but in the balance, it’s worth taking the time and patience to get there.\
RavePittsburgh Post-Gazette..fascinating, provocative and eminently readable ... I could use the chapter on Monteverdi as notes for my own lectures on the birth of opera and the early Baroque without committing plagiarism. It contains everything I think an audience needs to know about the subject. Later in the book, Mr. Tommasini’s explanation of Schoenberg and the development of the so-called 12-tone system is likewise brilliant and succinct ... Beyond Mr. Tommasini’s wide range of musical expertise, he is a compelling and colorful writer who can define musical terms succinctly for the layman—counterpoint, meter, recitative—without losing touch with the professional musician. He is a master of finding just the right adjective to describe a work or a performance—a particularly important skill for a music critic ... What comes through consistently and unequivocally is Mr. Tommasini’s love for music and sense of adventure in listening to (as well as performing) it.
PositivePittsburgh Post-Gazette\"Even more germane for Ms. Paretsky are the issues themselves. In Shell Game, the topics explored include (in no particular order): sexual exploitation, racial profiling, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), the Russian mafia, art theft, the amorality and entitlement of America’s one percent, and parallels between the United States today and Germany in the 1930s. That’s a big menu, but all those things come into play ... But Ms. Paretsky always leaves us with food for thought.\
James Lee Burke
MixedThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThis is all pretty far-fetched, though nonetheless engrossing for the most part. Mr. Burke’s subplots and subsidiary characters are manifold, complex and hard to keep track of. There are loads of bad guys in Mr. Burke’s Louisiana … It’s not a neat storyline, and Mr. Burke’s prose can be tediously flowery and overwritten. Events are as messy as Robicheaux’s tormented psyche. The line between good guys and bad guys is often blurred, while virtue is not necessarily rewarded. Mr. Burke reflects this by refusing to tie things up in an orderly feel-good fashion at the end. Perhaps the author is just trying to tell us that life doesn’t follow logical norms.
RaveThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteMr. Grisham’s tale is a thoroughly engaging, seriocomic caper that satirizes and exposes unsavory for-profit law schools, along with banks that exploit students with loans they’ll never be able to pay off, unfair United States immigration policies — and, for that matter, the entire legal profession in this country … It’s no surprise that the author’s writing should be brilliant, nor that his far-fetched plot is compelling from chapter to chapter. It appears light and funny, but his characters’ travails reflect those of a significant number of real-life American millennials duped by unscrupulous banks and businesses.
PositiveThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteOne of Louise Penny’s strongest talents is her ability to invent a complex, marginally nasty story, then tell it with such directness and good humor that it seems simple and reads briskly. A Great Reckoning, No. 12 in her deservedly popular Armand Gamache series, is that kind of book ... Interwoven with this is the discovery of a mysterious antique map of the village of Three Pines, which allows Ms. Penny to give the reader (along with her protagonists) a lesson in the history and techniques of mapmaking. It’s a collateral reward that goes with the final unraveling of the mystery.
MixedThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette[The Trespasser] is engaging, and as we have come to expect from this author, filled with striking prose, but her plot and her prose are more labored here. Neither the writing nor the story seem to flow with naturalness or ease ... The tale itself is compelling, and the solution is quite interesting — morally and intellectually. Getting there, however, is so slow and laden with minutiae, that by the time we learn who did the deed, it doesn’t seem to matter quite as much as we might have been led to expect.
PositiveThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThe essence of all Mr. Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels is the character of the hero himself — curiously self-deprecating and at the same time self-assured — and the effect on his psyche of the hideous events he suffered or witnessed during the Third Reich. All told, Gunther came through pretty well. He is scarred, but he has retained both his innate sense of morality and his dark sense of humor. Nor has he lost his desire for vengeance, which is the irritant that propels the present plot.
PositiveThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteA plot twist at the end is jarring and unconvincing, although it comes so late as to hardly matter. Terse and unsentimental, this tale is a many-leveled parable of the human condition, intensified by the stark uncompromising setting of man against nature in one of the world’s most inhospitable locales.