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Archive for November, 2010

John Burdett’s Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep made his first appearance in the 2003 novel, Bangkok 8. Since that time there have been three more novels featuring the Thai detective, with the most recent, The Godfather of Kathmandu, out this past spring. Many reviewers have noted that in this critically acclaimed series Western materialism confronts the spiritual approach of the East.

A reviewer for People magazine declared of Bangkok 8: “Like Thai cuisine, Burdett’s comic thriller blends spicy, sour, salty, and sweet – and makes for a delicious wake-up for jaded palates.” Carl Hiasson also had positive words about that series premier, declaring: “One of the most startling and provocative mysteries I’ve read in years. The characters are marvellously unique, the setting intoxicating, and the plot unwinds in dark illusory strands.” (more…)

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Steve Berry is the best-selling author of the Cotton Malone series, a blend of history and suspense that have catapulted Berry to the top of the thriller game. With over 11 million books in print translated into 37 languages and sold in 50 countries, Berry has come a long way from the 85 rejections he garnered trying to break into writing. With Malone, a former U.S. Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer, Berry has found the winning combination, and his protagonist has made six appearances thus far, starting with The Templar Legacy in 2006, and continuing with The Alexandria Link, The Venetian Betrayal, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Paris Vendetta, and The Emperor’s Tomb, just out. (more…)

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Leigh Russell arrived with a bang on the crime scene with her 2009 novel, Cut Short, shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. She introduces D.I. Geraldine Steel in “a stylish, top-of-the-line crime tale, a seamless blending of psychological sophistication and gritty police procedure,” according to fellow novelist Jeffrey Deaver. “You’re just plain going to love DI Geraldine Steel,” Deaver added. Publishers Weekly also praised this “gritty and addictive” debut. Russell followed up this first success with the 2010 Road Closed, a novel that “confirms Leigh Russell’s promise as a writer… well-written, soundly plotted and psychologically acute,” according to the London Times. Eurocrime described it as “well-written and absorbing… with an exhilarating climax that you don’t see coming.” Dead End, the third in the D.I. Geraldine Steel series, will be published in June 2011. (more…)

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Sam Millar is one of those authors whose experiences in his private life rival those of his fictional protagonists. An IRA volunteer imprisoned in Long Kesh for his political beliefs and actions, he was the mastermind behind the 1993 Brinks robbery in New York, one of the biggest heists is U.S. history. He served more hard time, this time in the American penal system, but was ultimately pardoned by President Bill Clinton. Upon his return to Northern Ireland, he turned from the sword to the pen.

Winner of the Aisling Award for Art and Culture among other prizes, Millar is the author of a memoir, On the Brinks, as well as a number of edgy novels, among them two noir thrillers featuring PI Karl Kane. In the series debut, Bloodstorm, Kane delves into the murders of a group of Belfast men who, over twenty years before, were involved in a gang-rape death. Publishers Weekly dubbed this the “powerful first of a new crime series,” while Booklist termed it “a real find for aficionados of the classic hard-boiled novel.” Kane returns in the 2010 series addition, The Dark Place, a novel dealing with “hard-edged crime with a vengeance,” according to Booklist. Similarly, Publishers Weekly noted of this second series installment: “Millar distinguishes himself from many of his contemporaries in the genre with taut writing and a memorable lead character.” (more…)

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Thriller writer Jon Land started in the profession young. He was twenty-three when his first novel, The Doomsday Spiral, was published. Since then he has penned ten more stand-alone titles, and another thirty or so books in series such as the “Ben Kamal” books, featuring that Palestinian-American detective, and the “Blaine McCracken” series, about the exploits of a former government agent who has become an international troubleshooter.

With the 2009 novel, Strong Enough to Die, Land introduces fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, “a tough original heroine,” according to Publishers Weekly. When we meet her, Caitlin has had a career change after being wounded in a shootout and after hearing her husband has been killed in Iraq. Now a psychological therapist, she discovers her husband is not so dead after all and further developments reveal a terrifying plot that reaches into every home and threatens the very core of the country, making Caitlin don her Ranger uniform once again. “The revelations are constant, the characters compelling and the action fast and furious,” noted Publishers Weekly. A Booklist reviewer agreed, terming this series opener “incredibly energetic and readable.” The second series installment, Strong Justice, also won critical acclaim, with Publishers Weekly calling it “intense [and] skillfully plotted.” (more…)

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Another installment of memoirs:

The New York Statler Hilton

I didn’t know it at the time, but the New York Statler Hilton (that’s what it was called in 1968 when I was a guest/victim there) has the dubious distinction of having the New York phone number in longest continuous use. The number, PEnnsylvania 6-5000, has been around so long, in fact, that it was the inspiration for the 1940 Glen Miller hit.

I didn’t know the number, though. Couldn’t have called if I wanted to, trussed up like a Christmas goose, my own Clorox scented handkerchief stuck down my gob. They cut the phone line, too, just in case.

They. Sorry. Antecedent. The two fellows who helped me find my room. Me, an obvious hick from the sticks on my first ever trip on my own, headed to school in Europe. The Statler Hilton was full of twenty-year-olds like me, gathered there to spread out across the European continent for junior-year-abroad programs. Fresh-faced, whitebread kids from all over the hinterland all gathered at the Statler. (more…)

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