Posts tagged with "murder"

Posted by cclapper on 08/05/11
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New York City -- time of the Carnegies, 1906: Judge Jackson is presiding over the trial of Al Drayson, the anarchist who exploded a bomb at the great Carnegie wedding.  But Drayson didn't kill glitterati, doyens of the upper realms of wealth.  No, his bomb killed simple onlookers and passersby, including a child.  An important trial, caught up in public scrutiny... until Judge Jackson is found in his town house; the doors locked, his throat hacked.  Detective Simon Ziele would never have been assigned to such a high-profile case, but the investigation falls into his lap, and he has no choice.  Was it Drayson's followers?  Or... ?
From what I have seen, it looks like Steffanie Pintoff has captured the social climate of the age- the powerful hierarchies that make up New York City of the early 1900's; the poor living just around the corner from the rich, the Tenderloin not so far from Gramercy Park.  The first in this series, In the Shadow of Gotham, won the Edgar and was in contention for the Agatha, Anthony, and  Macavity awards as well.  Then came A Curtain Falls, and now Secret of the White Rose.  Insights to an age.

Posted by cclapper on 06/02/11
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'Jerusalem College', Cambridge -- 1786: Humbled publisher/bookseller, now destitute, selling books from a barrow, is approached by the mysterious factotum of a wealthy patron.  The reclusive widow has a proposition- evaluate her late husband's valuable and extensive library then examine the college library to see if it is worthy of receiving select tomes from the dead man's archive.  But other designs are veiled beneath this subterfuge, touching on mysterious deaths and secret happenings.  Hints and allegations... and the Holy Ghost.
Andrew Taylor has been awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger award, the Crime Writers' of America recognition for lifetime achievement.
The blog you are reading is an 'early warning' radar for new, promising historical novels blazing up over the horizon.  Summaries I read, and the Cartier award, induced me to pick this one up immediately and read through.  Interesting characters and events- though I wish it gave me a bit more of the "feel of the times".   (Yes... no plumbing... and?)  Taylor's Cartier makes me suspect his other works may be even better.  Still- an interesting time to touch down !    

Posted by cclapper on 02/24/11
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Turn of the Century - London:  Bohemian London: artists and models- shifting societies; swirling etanglements... and Denton, American ex-pat and solver of mysteries, receives a note from a young woman in desperate fear for her life... But the note is months old, found stuck into the frame of a work of art.  Why?  And most important- What happened?
This is the sequel to The Frightened Man... and both mysteries are getting good reviews.  Looks... ummm, artistically mysterious!

Posted by cclapper on 09/26/11
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Mortlake District, London -- February, 1560:  Young queen Elizabeth I is still vulnerable in the first year of her reign when her birthright is dragged into question.  She sends for Dr. John Dee, a man of learning; skilled in mathematics, philosophy... and astrology with the hidden arts .  Religious riptides run everywhere: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Anne, and now Elizabeth have shattered the Church into factions on every side. So Dee is in danger himself, known for understanding the arcana. Elizabeth can only be secure with the discovery of hidden relics, and Dee begins the hunt.  Then an abbot dies and danger escalates-
Phil Rickman has authored the present-day mysteries of Merrily Watkins and many horror/thrillers.  This looks like an interesting new shoot.
Diana Gabaldon (The Outlander) and Ariana Franklin (Mistress of the Art of Death) were caught up by this tale.  High praise.

Posted by cclapper on 09/07/11
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Sweden -- December, 1956:  On the sagging, snow-laden roof of a rotting barn, a young boy on the verge of adolescence and his uncle begin to understand a bit about each other.  A Commissioner in Uppsala, Sweden, leaves a meeting- and vanishes.  A fleeting connection in a restaurant in teeming Bangalore, India... and one person flees before a word is said.  In a botanic garden a laborer talks with his friend.  Dramatic death as an elderly man is struck down viciously.   Nothing connects, nothing makes sense.
Kjell Eriksson tangles these events in a tale spanning lives and remote locales.  In Sweden, Mr. Eriksson is already a bestselling author; Henning Mankell believes "Kjell Eriksson's novels are among the very best."
Now... Mr. Eriksson is Swedish- as was Steig Larsson, the creator of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  But you won't confuse the two.  Steig Larsson conflates volatile personalities in explosive situations: magnesium in a water bath.  Mr. Eriksson weaves together quiet characters (in quiet desperation) and lets them spin quietly into complex alignments.  This story strikes closer to Per Petterson's Norwegian Out Stealing Horses.
The New York Times Book Review believes "...Ebba Segerberg's translation of Eriksson's austere prose beautifully captures the spiritual chill of this desolate landscape."

Posted by cclapper on 11/29/11
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Fairfield, New York -- November,1902: Dr. Clyde Deacon is called to a death.  Once the personal physician to a President, Deacon now has a struggling practice in small-town New York State.  But death breeds death- and mysteries begin to spawn mysteries.  Dr. Deacon will be hard pressed to keep up.
The Miser of Cherry Hill follows Dr. Deacon's first appearance in The Angel of the Glade Scott Mackay has won some recognition for his mysteries (see Cold Comfort) and science fiction.  This looks, to me, like an intriguing location and time period... waiting for us!

Posted by cclapper on 06/20/11
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Old Paris -- July, 1891:  Barefoot, robed in red... and dead.  Beautiful?  Hard to tell.  Her face disfigured after she was strangled and dumped in the Boulevard Montmartre.  Then something stranger: a goatherd arrives at Victor Legris's bookshop and presents the proprietor/sleuth with a single red shoe.  Victor is hooked; now he and Jojo must get to the bottom of this-

Montmartre is the third of the Victor Legris cases, now making their way into print in English.  Start with Murder on the Eiffel Tower and The Disappearance at Père-Lachaise. After this novel, les histoires will continue with The Assassin in the Marais later this year... with more to come.  Claude Izner has spun nine of these case histories in France and they are slowly making le voyage to our New World.
Looks like a very palpable and personal exploration of Old Paris; life on the Seine, with stops at cafes, cabarets, even the Botanical Gardens & Menagerie (the Zoo!) 
And Summer is parfait for travel abroad...

Posted by cclapper on 10/20/11
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November, 1920 -- Kent, England: The Great War is over.  A quiet has settled on the world, but one undercut by the turbulence just past.  Laurence Bartram lived through the War and personal devastations, and now is no longer involved in the life of the times.  But a letter from an old love arrives, asking his help in coming to terms with the death of her brother- another officer who survived the conflict but who has died in a veterans' hospital.  Laurence allies with Charles, his friend who has studied all manner of mystery tales, and they set out to see what might develop.
This is the first novel by Elizabeth Speller, but it seems to tap into the energy of the times- a lull some have called the last breath of innocence for the world, before the next great conflict and before we all tumbled into our own modern state.  "Haunting and beautifully written."  "...fabulously enjoyable..." "A remarkable piece of storytelling."  Blurbs from the back cover, but they are enough to make we want to turn to page 1.  Thoughts? 

Posted by cclapper on 10/31/11
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New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Territories -- 1837: The Depression of 1837 has closed many banks: there's no 'specie' (real gold and silver) to back up their scrip.  Folks lost everything they had.  Some, both white men and 'free men of color', do whatever they can to support their families and themselves- even if that means signing on for a revenge mission, in a time perilous with murder.  And the trail of revenge leads to the great rendezvous of Mountain Men, some eighty days out from Independence, MO.  A  rough, wild accretion of trappers, fur traders, Indians and others living beyond 'polite' society, and within their own: a culture accepting of blacks and whites together, but exploding with drunken brawls, firearms, and rough commerce.
There Abishag Shaw and Benjamin January find a murder victim.  And the murderer hopes to find them.
I knew nothing about these Mountain Men confabs, and it opens up interesting questions.  This looks informative- and exciting.  If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

Posted by cclapper on 10/27/11
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Restoration London -- 1664: Charles II has returned to the throne, but that rascal Harry Lytle, who spends his nights touring evey inn available, is concentrating on making his own way.  Until someone turns up dead- grusomly murdered.  And that someone may be a relative of Harry's.  A representative of the Crown instructs Harry to find out what happened, and appoints David Downing, a bulky butcher, to work at Harry's side.  It looks like things get grusome, gory, and- interesting.  Turbulent times may make for interesting tales.
This is the first in the new Harry Lytle series by Paul Lawrence.  Not like home, in our time, but a very different world entirely.

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