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By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,Special to The Baltimore Sun | November 2, 2008
The Private Patient By P.D. James Knopf / 354 pages / $25.95 When an author reaches her ninth decade, readers naturally wonder how many more books she'll be able to write. And while P.D. James, 88, doesn't spell out that this is the last Adam Dalgliesh novel, there are subtle clues of twilight descending upon one of the best-admired British detectives of the past half-century. The police commander is ever closer to reaching a definitive arrangement with longtime love Emma Lavenham. He investigates the surprising murder of a woman two days after plastic surgery almost by proxy, handing off most of the grunt work to DI Kate Miskin.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Diane Scharper, Special to The Baltimore Sun | August 18, 2012
Heloise Lewis wears several hats. She's a prostitute who runs an escort business. She's a single mom who voraciously reads classic literature and has a close relationship with her 11-year-old son. And she's entangled with a murderer who also happens to be a drug dealer, a crime boss and, although he doesn't know it, her son's father. Meet the quirky but troubled protagonist of Laura Lippman's novel, "And When She Was Good," which looks at women's issues and at the sorry effects of murder, mayhem and drugs.
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By SARAH WEINMAN and SARAH WEINMAN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | April 30, 2006
End of Story Peter Abrahams The Torso Helene Tursten Soho Press / 352 pages / $24 At first glance, this novel might make many readers blush - the titular discovery is described in gruesome detail, and the plot eventually encompasses weird sexual practices, cannibalism and graphic description. But Tursten's second novel in English (after 2002's Detective Inspector Huss) is less concerned with shock value than with solid police procedure, character development and motivation, and how one woman's actions affect the lives of many others.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Allen Barra and Allen Barra,Special to The Baltimore Sun | February 1, 2009
Poe: A Life Cut Short By Peter Ackroyd Nan A. Talese / Doubleday / 224 pages / $21.95 Every life and reputation could use some buffing up now and then, and Edgar Allan Poe, his influence obscured by legions of bad imitators, more than most. Peter Ackroyd, in this short, sharp and immensely readable little biography, is just the man to do it. Poe's imprint is on everything from crime fiction (the Edgars are awarded annually to the best mystery stories) to holidays (our celebration of Halloween owes more to Poe than Christmas does to Dickens)
NEWS
By SARAH WEINMAN and SARAH WEINMAN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | January 29, 2006
Slipping Into Darkness Peter Blauner The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Novels Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by Leslie S. Klinger W.W. Norton & Co. / 992 pages / $49.95 This book would have scored major points on appearance alone, with a handsome cover and well-designed slipcase. But it only takes a single glance inside the pages to behold Klinger's scholarship and breadth of knowledge of all things Holmesian (also in evidence in 2004's two-volume set of the complete short stories)
NEWS
By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,Special to the Sun | October 8, 2006
Stripped Brian Freeman The Chemistry of Death Simon Beckett Delacorte / 313 pages / $22 Freelance journalist Beckett was short-listed for the Crime Writers' Association Best Novel award earlier this year for this book, and for good reason: It's a thoroughly satisfying thriller that incorporates forensic detail and character motivation with a likeable protagonist who is welcome to make return appearances. David Hunter used to be one of Britain's foremost forensic anthropologists, an expert in the many ways humans die. But the loss of his wife and daughter in a car accident spurred him to walk away and settle for the life of a general practitioner in the sleepy town of Manham.
NEWS
By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,Special to The Sun | February 4, 2007
The Grave Tattoo Val McDermid Bermuda Schwartz Bob Morris St. Martin's Minotaur / 308 pages / $23.95 Comic crime novels are exceedingly difficult to pull off, especially as the inevitable Leonard/Hiaasen comparisons set up expectations that disappoint -- and that's before reader tastes about humor kick in. But Morris gets things very right in his third novel, which marks the return of football hero-turned-adventurer Zach Chasteen. This time, he and his longtime girlfriend Barbara are in Bermuda visiting her aunt when trouble, in the form of disappeared money and possible buried treasure, finds Zach in a very big way. It takes quick thinking, much charm and the help of his sidekick Boggy to discern what a slew of crooks (some inept, some dangerously lethal)
NEWS
By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,Special to The Sun | March 4, 2007
Magic City James W. Hall Con Ed Matthew Klein Warner / 320 pages / $23.99 The dirty secret of con artist novels is that to work well, they should be less about the con and more about the artist. Finding a way to make the reader care about a criminal whose primary goal is to rip off others can be exceedingly difficult, but Matthew Klein, in his American debut, has the best possible asset at his disposal: a commanding, wry voice equally comfortable with one-liners as it is with introspection and character development.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,Special to the Sun | July 31, 2005
FIELD OF BLOOD By Denise Mina. Little, Brown. 350 pages. Denise Mina's novels illuminate the darkest, most uncomfortable corners of her native Glasgow, and this, the first in a new series, continues to do so in exemplary fashion. Eschewing contemporary setting for a look at the recession-tinged, religious-obsessed early 1980s, Field of Blood is a tale of two unrelated Paddy Meehans: the elder incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, and the younger working her way up in the world of journalism while asserting her independence, much to the chagrin of her family and fiance, Sean.
NEWS
By SARAH WEINMAN and SARAH WEINMAN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | March 26, 2006
Nightlife Thomas Perry Crossfire Miyuki Miyabe Vertical / 300 pages / $25 One of the most exciting developments in crime fiction is the increasing availability of Japanese authors (such as the Edgar-nominated Natsuo Kirino and best-seller Koji Suzuki) to our borders. But the best export might well be Miyuki Miyabe, who serves up a stunner of a book in Crossfire. Superficially, there's some resemblance to Stephen King's Firestarter (the main protagonist, Junko Aoki, has the power to start fires using her mind)
ENTERTAINMENT
By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,Special to The Baltimore Sun | January 4, 2009
A new year signifies a fresh start, so it only seems appropriate to devote the first column of 2009 to a trio of debut crime novels. The Rules of the Game By Leonard Downie Jr. Knopf / 321 pages / $25.95 Just a few months before the publication of this, his debut novel, Downie left his longtime post as The Washington Post's executive editor. So it's only natural that The Rules of the Game would have less to do with Jean Renoir and more to do with the intricate dance between journalists on the campaign trail and political operatives who alternately want their message to emerge but keep more embarrassing exploits well-hidden.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Sam Sessa and Sam Sessa,sam.sessa@baltsun.com | September 25, 2008
Age hasn't made Walter Mosley any less adventurous. The 56-year-old cut his teeth writing crime fiction; his historical series with detective Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins spanned 11 books and established Mosley as a best-selling author. But in the past decade, Mosley has veered into other genres, including nonfiction, erotica and science fiction. His latest book, The Tempest Tales, follows main character Tempest Landry on his journey to heaven and back. Mosley will be at the Baltimore Book Festival this weekend in support of it. He will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Literary Salon.
NEWS
By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,Special to the Sun | July 6, 2008
Palace Council by Stephen L. Carter Knopf / 517 pages / $26.95 When Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter moved to fiction with 2002's The Emperor of Ocean Park, the response to its labyrinthine storytelling and plot was immediate and best-selling. Two books later, Carter's style still sprawls - Palace Council is well over 500 pages - but his focus is sharper and centered more tightly upon his characters, even as his scope widens to the political and social turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s.
NEWS
By Sarah Weinman | June 29, 2008
Finding Nouf By Zoe Ferraris Houghton Mifflin / 306 pages / $24 One of the best developments in contemporary crime fiction of late is how willing, even eager, writers are to explore uncharted territory. What with the miniboom of translated Scandinavian novels by Arnaldur Indridason, Karin Fossum and Jo Nesbo (to name just a handful), Deon Meyer's and Michael Stanley's criminal investigations in the wilds of Africa and Matt Beynon Rees' elegant mysteries set in Palestinian territories, readers have an embarrassment of global riches to choose from.
NEWS
By Sarah Weinman and Sarah Weinman,[Special to The Sun] | September 16, 2007
The History Book By Humphrey Hawksley Warner Books / 330 pages / $24.95 Too many international thrillers suffer from a lack of believability - or at least, a lack of visceral knowledge of the many worlds and fields covered. BBC World Affairs correspondent Hawksley certainly has the latter qualification covered, having been to dozens of countries and war zones as part of his reporting duties, and if The History Book could use a healthy dose of plausibility, it doesn't skimp on entertainment value.
NEWS
By SARAH WEINMAN and SARAH WEINMAN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | February 26, 2006
The Ethical Assassin David Liss The Sultan's Seal Jenny White W.W. Norton & Co. / 384 pages / $24.95 The Ottoman Empire conjures up images of decadence, intrigue and secrecy, which makes it surprising that this time period is hardly explored in crime fiction. Along comes anthropologist and scholar Jenny White to delve into the sumptuous depths and murky conflicts of that earlier time, delivering a thoughtful, highly absorbing debut with a compelling mystery at its center. Kamil Pasha, a magistrate in the newly formed secular courts of the late 1880s, is asked to investigate the murder of a young English governess found drowned in the river.
NEWS
By SARAH WEINMAN and SARAH WEINMAN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | June 25, 2006
The Pale Blue Eye Louis Bayard Ten Second Staircase Christopher Fowler Bantam / 356 pages / $24 Books that focus on an impossible crime have fallen out of favor in the mystery genre, but Christopher Fowler does a marvelous job rescuing the old art form - concocting a fiendish plot that tests readers' minds and entertains them thoroughly while developing the repartee between his two delightful protagonists, the octogenarian detectives Arthur Bryant...
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