Posts tagged with "murder"

Posted by cclapper on 02/18/11
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1952 - South Africa:  Hitler has been defeated... but the ideas that fired his Reich still burn in other regions of the world.  Particularly in South Africa, where the Afrikaner Broederbond, the 'brotherhood of the blood", exert an unspoken but devastatingly powerful influence everywhere.  Apartheid has just become law and the cultural abyss between blacks, whites and "colored" is titanic.  ("Colored" was their term for people of mixed racial heritage.) 
And then- a man is murdered.  A powerful white Afrikaner police official.  Political and social  tensions coil like mambas waiting for the first misstep. 
And Detective Emmanuel Cooper walks into the middle of it.
Wow.  This is Malla Nunn's first book.  I knew nothing of South Africa in this period; this is an eye-opener.  Check out the cover blurbs.  Give it a try.  I think this author has some good stuff coming. 
Let me know what you think.

Posted by cclapper on 08/26/11
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The Island of Malta -- 1913: Every hospital is a place of life and a place of... death.  A host of hot air balloons float serenely above the Maltese Grand Harbor, and when one falls, the balloonist is ferried to the Naval Hospital.  He, unfortunately, passes out of this life. 
Hmmmmm.  This may be one death too many, for there have been other rather unexpected deaths at this hospital.  Malta is a British protectorate in 1913, and outraged British folk speak -and write- their minds then ship their thoughts off to The Times in London.  Where their comments are read by a great many people, indeed.  The Foreign Office reacts by sending Special Investigator Seymour to this British outpost, which is a curious mix of British (iconic red post boxes) and a very long, very non-British history indeed.
So begins this new mystery from Michael Pearce, who has written those great Mamur Zapt tales.  Mr. Pearce relishes the admixture of cultures, clearly, and his enthusiasm is contagious.  By the bye... no less than The Times has called this A Dead Man in... series "Sheer fun". 
Sounds like it to me!

Posted by cclapper on 07/07/11
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Eastfield, Sussex, on the Hastings Road -- July, 1920: They survived the War, the Great War, the War to End All Wars to make their way back to the quiet English countryside.  Now, two years later, they are dead... garroted, an ID disk thrust into each mouth.  Scotland Yard sends in Detective Inspector Ian Rutledge, himself a survivor of the Great War.  But he has not survived without shadows.  In this peacetime, war still echoes and something is tearing lives apart.
Charles Todd is the nom de guerre for a most original writing team- mother and son based in Delaware and North Carolina.  Their creation, Detective Inspector Ian Rutledge, veteran and shell-shock survivor, here faces his thirteenth case.
The New York Times Book Review calls this series "outstanding".  Worthy of review.

Posted by cclapper on 02/24/11
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September, 1592 - London: More murder... with a glance askance at humor.  And names you'll recognize.  Seems Shakespeare gets tangled up in this.  And Marlowe.  Political intrigue, and plots enough to please... well, a playwright.  This is the latest production in P. F. Chisholm's  popular Sir Robert Carey mysteries.  Diana Gabaldon loves 'em.
A great way to get exposed to a distant time and another culture!  And get a feel for lives so unlike our own.  Makes you see today- in a new way.  And that's not even iambic pentameter.
If you try this- let me know what you think!

Posted by cclapper on 07/08/11
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The Great North Dakota Wheat Fields -- Harvest 1919: Summer is dying, the wheat fields are ripe.  Great steam-powered reapers and their operators are sweeping out across the region to gather in the bounty.  But this is not an unalloyed celebration of life; a killer has followed these teams for years, undiscovered.  Now young Charlie Krueger, working to bury a broken heart, witnesses another burial- something he was not meant to see.  Instantly he is a threat to the murderer- who knows who he is, and who knows how to kill.
The setting and the period drew me to this new mystery.  A period of steam mechanicals, and, as the subtitle says "Bindlestiffs and Blood".  Publishers Weekly called it " evocative look at the hardships of farming, the intersection of progress with old-fashioned ways, and the loneliness of the Great Plains."  
Richard A. Thompson also has mysteries featuring bail-bondsman (and ex-bookie) Herman Jackson, hiding in St. Paul after some excitement in Detroit. 
All look rich in atmosphere- let me know if you try them!

Posted by cclapper on 08/17/11
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The Scottish Highlands -- February 13, 1692:  Murdered.  Thirty-eight members of the MacDonald clan, killed by troops who had accepted the clan's hospitality.  More left to perish.   But it is Corrag who is imprisoned, a young woman alone in the world now that the clan who sheltered her has been decimated.  Accused of witchcraft for the crime, waiting to die, she is visited by Charles Leslie, an Irish rabble-rouser who thinks the King may stand in the shadows behind this violence.
Susan Fletcher may be one of the next 'up and comers'.  Her first novel, Eve Green, won the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award and the Betty Trask Prize in 2005.  Then came Oystercatchers and now Corrag
Writer to watch.

Posted by cclapper on 06/17/11
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Indian Territory -- 1905 / Rural Oklahoma -- 1915:  A simple hunting trip to a vacant farm... that turns up an old boot containing bones of its former owner.  Whose skull bears a bullet hole.  Someone else quickly dies, and not of natural causes.  Old death is stirring up events in the current life of Shaw Tucker and his brother James.  Alafair Tucker, Shaw's wife, has experience with murder but Shaw suspects this situation could be deadly.  Shaw carefully sidetracks Alafair to safety- he hopes.
The Alafair Tucker mysteries (and this is the fifth) fit into a gritty period, a rural region, and a definite social climate.  Alafair is a matriarch in that locus with a large brood and an instinct for murder.  The first in her series, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, came out in 2005 and Donis Casey has kept on going.
Interesting time to pass through.
What think you?

Posted by cclapper on 08/23/11
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South Africa -- May, 1879:  A new Provost-Marshal at Landman's Drift... and Ensign Sebastian Early of the 24th Foot is confronted with a dead (and unidentified) body.  The burial is hasty, to 'cover things over', but Ensign Early feels he must find out what happened.
And the body turns out to have been a lieutenant. 
Who may have died in a duel- illegal in this age.
As the British Army prepares to march against the Zulus, Early is confronted by an "officer's code of silence".  He must find answers before the larger conflict commences...
People have have very good things to say about Garry Douglas Kilworth's previous works- science fiction, young adult and fantasy in addition to his military stories.  In these tales, Publishers Weekly likes his "straightforward action in the vein of Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe..." 
Men who enjoy the adventures of Sharpe and Hornblower may have a new author on their favorites list.  These look really good to me!

Posted by cclapper on 06/06/11
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Elderberry, Georgia -- November, 1942: Wilson 'Christmas' Malone failed to fulfill his custodial duties... which people rather understood, when they found him dead in a broom closet.  Poor fellow- apparent heart attack.  Then Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, first grade teacher forever, simply... vanishes.  Aren't things stressful enough?  There's a war on, you know!   Schoolmistress Charlie Carr and her stalwart friend Annie Gardner decide to get to the bottom of all this- in spite of romantic difficulties, the fact that so many things have to be rationed... and all the other everyday war-time hometown life entanglements.
Sometimes you feel like Cormack McCarthy's The Road...
...sometimes you don't. 
Mignon F. Ballard has those lighter moments covered.  Looks like a World War II cozy, set in the small-town South.  With a real feel for the tensions, culture and attitudes of those small-town folks caught up in a World War.  Might appeal particularly to the ladies, but also, I think, to anyone interested in experiencing life during that great conflict.  Air raid sirens, Glenn Miller, and records on the Victrola.  Would a large jar of peach sweet tea go well with this?  I may just resolve to find out.
Have you partaken of Ms Ballard's works?  What did you think?  Let us all know- we really want to hear! 

Posted by cclapper on 10/13/11
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London -- 1583: "Planet" means 'wanderer', and we have tracked the planets' meanders among the constellations for millennia.  And found portents, good and bad, in their wanderings.  In London, those who study the stars know Jupiter and Saturn will soon align in a new sign of the zodiac: the Great Conjunction.  What will it mean?  Mutterings speak of all manner of darkness arising in the affairs of man.  Even that the British Crown will fall, Elizabeth supplanted by Mary Stewart.  One of the Queen's young maids is found murdered, her body desecrated, with an indication of the practice of magic. 
The Queen consults with Dr. John Dee, her astrologer.  (Sound familiar?  Dee was a real person, and another author, Phil Rickman, uses him as his sleuth.  See The Bones of Avalon - and my first glance.)  But Giordano Bruno, "renegade monk, philosopher, scientist, poet, and magician" (and, perhaps, more-) has fled to London, where he sees danger in the times.  Another death- and he begins to suspect other forces of impelling events.
S. J. Parris (nom de plume for Stephanie Merritt) also wrote Heresy, featuring Bruno.  (Which received a starred review from Publishers' Weekly - a portent, itself.)  Her style has been praised as rich and enjoyable.
Could be interesting to compare the visions of Rickman and Parris... same period, same location, same historical personages.  (A second Great Conjunction?)  I bet their worlds are strikingly different.  Thoughts?

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