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Here's another fresh set of staff favorites for Spring! This monthly selection of favorites (and a slew of other new mystery-related content) is available every month in our newsletter, which is available via subscription (email or print), as well as directly through our website. Signed books are available online (linked after each review). Unsigned books are available by calling our store at 212-587-1011. If you're looking to order both signed and unsigned books, you can call in your complete order anytime from 11 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Saturday! Here's hoping some of these titles pique your interests as they did ours!
Alice Feeney, I Know Who You Are, Flatiron.
Twists, turns, surprises, shocks—all things unexpected are the heart and soul of outstanding suspense novels and this brilliant thriller has them all in wave after wave. Feeney made her debut last year with Sometimes I Lie, which was absolutely captivating, in a class with Gone Girl and The Woman in the Window. This second novel also is in the top echelon of the great psychological suspense novels of recent years. It begins with the kidnapping of the protagonist as a six year-old girl and chapters alternate between those years and the present, when she has grown into a successful, beautiful, somewhat neurotic actress. She is loved, in a fashion, by the couple who stole her, but also kept as a tortured prisoner who desperately wants to please her new parents, partially to avoid punishment while hungrily seeking their love. In the present, Aimee comes home to find her husband Ben gone. His keys, phone, wallet—everything, including his shoes—in the living room but with no trace of him, nor any messages. Then she learns that her joint bank account has been drained and closed. And the bank claims it was Aimee who closed it. When she calls the police, a very smart young policewoman recognizes that parts of Aimee’s story are a bit off-center, including a claim that she has had a woman stalking her, though she never reported it. Aimee is holding secrets so tightly that she soon becomes the prime suspect in her husband’s murder, even though no body has been found. It is not only the ensuring twists that lift I Know Who You Are above most books in this sub-genre of mystery fiction, it is the unfailingly elegant prose, with virtually every page offering quotable lines. “We were virtual strangers when we met online. We were emotional strangers after two years of marriage.” “You can’t find a butterfly when you’re only looking for a caterpillar.” “Sorry is easier to say than to feel.” There is a bit of a kitchen sink element to the book, with almost too many surprises, almost too many over-the-top revelations, that in lesser hands might have been off-putting. But Alice Feeney can really write so just go with it and you will love this book as much as I do.
Signed hardcover copies available now. $27.99.
James Ellroy, This Storm, Knopf
A new James Ellroy novel is always cause for celebration, but This Storm is a particularly impressive feat: an astounding epic of L.A. noir and World War II espionage sure to enthrall old fans and the newly converted alike. When Ellroy announced that he would return to the Los Angeles of The L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential etc.), though chronologically earlier starting in 1941, there was apprehension that it could be a creative step back after the wildly ambitious Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy (American Tabloid etc.). Others who found those books too stylistically challenging hoped for a return to his earlier style. Readers in both camps may have been reassured by the launch of this new series, Perfidia, but they will be ecstatic reading This Storm.
Attempting to describe the plot of an Ellroy novel in a few sentences is never an easy task, and This Storm is no exception. Suffice it to say that This Storm contains enough plot for ten novels: a long-unsolved gold heist, the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans, foreign spies and fifth column agents, love triangles, lust murders, and a cast of fantastically twisted characters, each more unhinged than the next. With returning characters like Dudley Smith clashing with equaling fascinating new creations in L.A., Mexico, and beyond, the breadth and depth of This Storm is truly something to behold. Always impressive, never boring, and sometimes utterly magical, James Ellroy may be the hardest working man in literature and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Signed copies available now. $29.95
Cay Rademacher, The Murderer in the Ruins, Arcadia.
British occupied Hamburg, Germany in 1947. The first of Rademacher's trilogy introduces Homicide Chief Insp. Frank Stave. Stave lost his wife in a British bombing raid, and his son is MIA, having fought on the Eastern Front. Amid the ruins the murdered body of an old man is found, and shortly after the bodies of two women, and a young child. Book 2, The Wolf Children, focuses on the youths who numbered in the thousands, left orphaned and homeless by the war in the East, who came to Hamburg fleeing the Russians. A young boy's corpse is found leaning against an unexploded bomb in the shipyard. Following Stave's questioning of friend's of the boy's two more deaths occur. As The Forger begins, Stave is recovering from a bullet wound and decides he's had enough of murder and transfers to the Black Market section. But when a corpse is found in a bombed out building laying next to artwork that would have been condemned by the Nazis, Stave is compelled to investigate, at the risk of antagonizing a superior officer and former Nazi. This is the period in 1948 when the Allies were about to introduce new currency into West Germany. New banknotes have appeared on the Black Market. And Stave becomes convinced the two cases are connected. And the series is brought to an exciting conclusion. A great combination of mystery and historical detail.
Keigo Higashino, Newcomer, Minotaur.
A tranquil Tokyo neighborhood is keeping a secret: a woman is found murdered in her own home. Clearly the victim knew the murderer, as there’s no sign of forced entry or any kind of a struggle. This neighborhood, unusually, contains several small shops, the kind rarely found today in a bustling city. A rice cracker shop. A china shop. A clock shop. A pastry shop. A handicraft shop. A cleaning service. What have they to do with one another? The woman of decease had some kind of contact with each, as Detective Kyochiro Kaga of the TPD searches for any lead he can find, sometimes asking seemingly baffling questions. In Keigo Higashino’s Newcomer, the author masterfully weaves the tale together from the various strands of evidence, the suspects good and bad, and the varying timelines, but as usual in a murder investigation, there are more questions than answers. Why did the victim, Mineko Mitsui, move to this neighborhood to live alone, after the breakup of her marriage? Why the estrangement between the whole family: Mineko, her ex-husband, and their son? Himself a newcomer to the area, Detective Kaga is momentarily flummoxed by the ever-growing list of suspects, and by the new facts coming to light about the ostensibly nondescript victim, whose simple life wasn’t so simple after all. Somewhere in all this is the one clue that will break the case; can Kaga find out what it is in time to trap the killer?
Here are our top five bestselling hardcover titles for April 2019! This list can also be found in our newsletter, which is available via subscription (email or print) or directly via our website.
1. Box, CJ, Wolf Pack, Putnam.
When Joe Pickett addresses a drone killing wildlife, owned by a man whose son is dating Joe's daughter, he is asked to stand down by the FBI and DOJ. Meanwhile, bodies are piling up, and Joe fears the Sinaloa cartel is afoot. Signed. $27.00.
2. Boyle, William, A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself, Pegasus.
A mob widow hits her neighbor over the head with an ashtray, setting the stage for an explosion that will propel her, her granddaughter, and a new friend down a strange, uncertain path. Signed. $25.95.
3. Todd, Charles, The Black Ascot, William Morrow.
An astonishing tip from a grateful ex-convict seems implausible—but Inspector Ian Rutledge is intrigued and brings it to his superior, as it may help solve a case that has eluded Scotland Yard for years. Meticulously retracing the original inquiry, Rutledge's sanity is suddenly brought into question by a shocking turn of events. Signed. $26.99.
4. Wilkinson, Lauren, American Spy, Random House.
When Marie Mitchell is given the opportunity to join a task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary communist president of Burkina Faso, she says yes, even though she admires his work. In the year that follows, she will observe him, seduce him, and ultimately have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. Signed. $27.00.
5. Harper, Jane, The Lost Man, Flatiron.
In an isolated belt of Australia, three brothers were one another’s nearest neighbors. Something makes Cameron, the middle child, head out alone under the unrelenting sun, which takes his life. While the family grieves Cameron’s loss, suspicion starts to take hold, and Nathan, the eldest brother, is forced to examine secrets the family would rather leave in the past. Signed. $27.99.
Check back next month for more bestsellers!
A good Friday to you, mystery readers! Here's another fresh set of staff favorites for Spring! This monthly selection of favorites (and a slew of other new mystery-related content) is available every month in our newsletter, which is available via subscription (email or print), as well as directly through our website. Signed books are available online (linked after each review). Unsigned books are available by calling our store at 212-587-1011. If you're looking to order both signed and unsigned books, you can call in your complete order anytime from 11 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Saturday! Here's hoping some of these titles pique your interests as they did ours!
Peter Swanson, Before She Knew Him, Morrow.
Swanson has quickly become one of the masters of the suspense novel and I’ve been a fan ever since his debut, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart. In this latest effort, the author has put his central character, Hen (the infelicitous shortening of Henrietta), in an untenable position. Already branded with poor behavior (okay, it was a psychotic episode) due to psychological problems when she was younger, she becomes convinced that Matthew, her next-door neighbor, is a murderer—and probably a serial killer to boot. When she and her husband are invited for dinner by their neighbors, Hen spots what she is certain is evidence in a murder that took place years ago but neither her husband nor the police believe her. Further convinced that Matthew will strike again, she becomes obsessed with proving him guilty, even following him late at night. Much of the narrative is from Matthew’s point of view and we quickly learn that he believes he is a knight, protecting vulnerable women from bad men. His teaching colleague tells him that she just knows her boyfriend is cheating on her, so Matthew makes a plan. “If he could find a way—a flawless way—to murder Scott Doyle, then he would do it. He would rescue Michelle.” The hallmarks of Swanson’s novels are the relentless ratcheting up of suspense and the unexpected twists that keep coming, and which are abundant in this new thriller. Signed hardcover available soon. $26.00.
Gioacchino Criaco, Black Souls, Soho Crime.
Black Souls is a chilling novel of corruption that couldn’t have been written by anyone besides Gioacchino Criaco. The book follows a group of friends, humble shepherds in Itlay’s Calabria region, as they evolve from petty crooks, to armed robbers, to drug barons, to killers. The greater their power, the lower the world around them sinks into mistrust, betrayal, and pain. To distill Black Souls to its plot elements is to do it a great disservice. Even in translation, each page is packed with an undeniable savage beauty. From gorgeous descriptions of life in the mountains, to heartstopping gang murders, the book has an almost mythical quality, all while remaining firmly rooted in reality by unnervingly credible criminal details. Brief in length and epic in scope, Black Souls is a masterpiece of gangland tragedy. Hardcover available. $25.95.
Philip Kerr, Metropolis, Putnam.
How did Bernie Gunther end up on the Murder Squad? Haven’t you ever wondered? To find the answer, let’s go back to 1928 Berlin. Ten years after the Armistice, the war’s effects are still being felt, mainly in the chaotic daily life still prevalent in the capital due to the huge gap in the male population; as well as the lingering effects of the recent hyper-inflation. The result is a great number of people struggling to survive, whether by begging or women taking to the streets or portable gambling dens or selling ‘snow’ which was not then illegal. Into this morass, a new wrinkle: someone is murdering Berlin’s prostitutes--and then scalping them! But many in the city don’t feel that this is necessarily a bad thing, ridding Berlin of miscreants and drags on society can only help in the long run, it is argued. Perhaps the answer is a more authoritarian direction for the society? In this final Bernie Gunther adventure, completed just before the untimely passing of author Philip Kerr, Bernie is tossed into the deep end of the investigation on his first day there and must sink or swim while navigating the complex intradepartmental politics. Meanwhile the yellow press is having a field day mocking the cops and rehashing the clues the murderer is leaving behind, including a bank note, a badge, signs of gang activity--so far they’ve led nowhere, so are they red herrings, taunts, or something more sinister? The top brass of the Murder Squad think Bernie is a rising star and has the goods to become a topnotch detective. Solving this one would be a good start. Hardcover available. $28.00.
Johana Gustawsson, Keeper, Orenda.
In a follow-up to her award winning first novel, Block 46, Gustawsson skillfully weaves together the events of 1888 as Jack the Ripper is terrorizing London, and the present day as a woman is found brutally murdered in the manner of a serial killer they locked up ten years previously. Did he have an accomplice or is it somehow a copycat? Or did they lock up the wrong man? Scotland Yard profiler Emily Roy again teams up with Alexis Castells, a French true-crime writer and the action moves quickly in short, intense chapters switching Sweden and London, past and present. When a popular actress is abducted in Sweden the fear is she’s the next victim and will be found in the same brutal fashion. How Roy and Castells piece together this extraordinary puzzle and how the Whitechapel murders fit into this twisted tale just may leave you breathless. Gustawsson’s plotting is ingenious and should please fans of Jussi-Adler Olsen and Mo Hayder. Paperback available. $14.95.
Thanks for reading!
Check back for more staff favorites in the coming months!
Though admittedly we've missed posting for a couple of months, we here at the Mysterious Bookshop are happy to bring you a new set of staff favorites for the month of March. This monthly selection of staff favorites (and a slew of other new mystery-related content) is available every month in our newsletter, which is available via subscription (email or print), as well as directly through our website. Here's hoping you enjoy one or more of these titles as much as we did!
William Boyle, A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself, Pegasus.
Over the past year, William Boyle has quickly established himself as one of the leading authors of Brooklyn noir. Populated by a cast of characters whose lives are influenced in equal parts by religion and mob violence, rendered with a deft ear for local speech and attitudes, Boyle’s books crackle with an authenticity that could only come from an author born and raised in the borough. His newest novel, A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself, is a caper that begins in this same gritty locale, but once its propulsive plot is set into motion, the storyline cuts a wild and deadly path through South Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the quiet suburbs of the Palisades--a New York novel that hardly touches Manhattan at all. The book opens with two crimes: first, elderly mob widow Rena Ruggiero, resisting an overly-affectionate neighbor, knocks him unconscious with an ashtray and, believing him dead, steals his car to flee to her daughter’s apartment in the Bronx. She gets there right as her daughter is herself preparing to flee, with her own reluctant daughter in tow, with a man who has just committed the novel’s second crime, gunning down a meeting of mafia men and stealing a trunk-load of weapons and cash. After a chaotic confrontation, Rena, her granddaughter, and a neighbor, ex-porn star-turned-grifter Lacey “Wolfie” Wolfstein, escape with the boyfriend’s stolen loot and hit the road, pursued, at various times, by all sorts of bloodthirsty men. An entertaining, action-packed thrill ride follows, but the streaks of breathless page-turning are punctuated by moments of great heart, as Boyle lingers on the memories of older characters traveling through a landscape that’s given form to their lives. This is superb storytelling. Signed hardcover available. $25.95.
Don Winslow, The Border, Mulholland.
After chronicling over 40 years of the Mexican-American drug war in The Power of the Dog
and The Cartel
, Don Winslow concludes his Cartel trilogy in a magnificent fashion with The Border
. It’s been less than four years since The Cartel
was published, yet somehow Winslow manages to fill The Border
’s 700 pages with breathless storytelling that is just as compelling as its predecessors. Attempting to surmise the plot would be a fool’s errand. Its scope is truly epic and kaleidoscopic, following new and old characters (some of whom we haven’t seen since The Power of the Dog
) ranging from the head of the DEA to Guatemalan refugees, female cartel assassins, NYPD cops, and Long Island junkies. The cartel power struggles in Mexico are as fascinating as ever, but it’s the insidious infiltration of drug money into everyday life that most chillingly defines the book, as anyone can be bought, maybe even an American president. Signed hardcover available. $28.99.
Charles Cumming, The Moroccan Girl, St. Martin's Press.
In The Moroccan Girl by Charles Cumming, thriller writer Kit Carradine is accosted on a London street by Robert Mantis, who claims to be a big fan of his books. Mantis, whose card identifies him as a British government “operational control center specialist,” persuades Carradine to do some spying for the U.K. in Morocco, where he’s to attend a literary event. His tasks: carry some cash to one of Mantis’ associates and keep an eye out for a “remarkable young woman, cunning and unpredictable.” But you can be sure there’s going to be some mission creep! In Morocco, Carradine succeeds in identifying the remarkable young woman: Lara Bartok, the former girlfriend of Ivan Simakov, the leader of a revolutionary group that’s been kidnapping right-wing journalists. The Russian government wants to stop Simakov; the American government may also be involved. Excited and full of himself at first, soon Kit realizes that espionage isn’t like the James Bond films--it’s alternately dull and terrifying. Why, he might even get killed! A nicely woven tale of what it might really be like to be recruited as a temporary undercover agent. The title of the UK edition is The Man Between. Hardcover available. $27.99.
(We also have a signed UK first edition of the novel available for $38.00)
Sam Eastland, The Elegant Lie, Faber & Faber.
Fans of Cold War thrillers should enjoy this Post WWII novel taking place in Cologne, Germany. A New Jersey cop, Nathan Carter, having successfully gone undercover to infiltrate the mob that controlled the waterfront, Carter is recruited by the Army in 1942 to investigate the theft of gasoline in Belgium. In 1949 he's to infiltrate a black market ring run by Hanno Dasch and he's soon a trusted member of the gang. Dasch is so successful he has his own plane. But when the plane crashes, he sends Carter to locate it and destroy it and it's contents before the Russians can get to it. There's plenty of action, betrayals, and double-crosses along the way. And of course Dasch has a beautiful daughter--the villain always has a beautiful daughter--to provide the romantic interest. I also recommend Eastland's WWII thrillers set in Russia involving Insp. Pekkala. Paperback available. $14.95.
Lauren Wilkinson, American Spy, Random House.
Lauren Wilkinson’s remarkable debut is, first and foremost, an espionage novel, but it is also a hybrid of sorts, not limiting the scope of its story to typical genre constraints. As much a timely meditation on race and American foreign policy as it is a high-stakes narrative of Cold War-era spycraft and international intervention, the book’s various themes form a cohesive whole in the masterfully-crafted protagonist and narrator, Marie Mitchell. When the story opens in New York, in 1987, Mitchell is a young black FBI agent whose opportunities have been stunted by racism and sexism in the bureau, and who has long grown tired of her dead-end assignment surveilling black radical groups in Harlem. When she finally gets a new mission, however, she only reluctantly accepts, unable to shake the suspicion that there is something she isn’t being told, something beyond the relatively simple task she is given: to get close with the revolutionary new president of Burkina Faso, seduce him, and gain evidence that, when exposed, will cause him and his Communist ideals to lose the favor of the people, allowing for the election of a new leader aligned with American capitalist interests. Simple enough, but the mission becomes much more difficult for Marie after she arrives in Ouagadougou and finds herself sympathizing more with her target’s vision for his country than with that of her employers. As a spy novel, Wilkinson’s book relishes the more subtle aspects of intelligence: the arts of self-control, dissimulation, and conversation that allow an agent to develop sources and draw useful information from them. The interiority of our hero is on full display, and, unlike the one-dimensional spies too often encountered in fiction, she draws from a whole lifetime of experiences (as a sister, a daughter, and a black American) to perform her role. Deeply-felt and powerfully-written, this is sure to be one of the most talked-about novels of the season. Signed hardcover available. $27.00.
Thanks for reading!
Check back for more staff favorites in the coming months!
Here are our top five bestselling titles, both hardcover and paperback, respectively, for November 2018! This list can also be found in our newsletter
, which is available via subscription (email or print) or directly via our website.
All signed books are available on our website. Simply follow the link beneath the respective title to order a copy.
All unsigned books are available in-store or by phone order. The shop's phone number is 212-587-1011.
1. Lee Child
2. Michael Connelly
Dark Sacred Night
Little, Brown & Co.
3. Jason Starr
4. Jonathan Lethem
The Feral Detective
5. Joe Ide
1. Gabino Iglesias
Broken River Books.
2. Lynne Truss
A Shot in the Dark
3. Jay A. Gertzman
Pulp According to David Goodis
Down & Out Books
4. Sara Blaedel
The Silent Women
5. Simon Mawer
Check in again soon for January's Staff Favorites!
As we sink deeper into the fall season, here are a few titles we've hunkered down to read and enjoyed over at the Mysterious Bookshop. This monthly selection of staff favorites (and a slew of other new mystery-related content) is available every month in our newsletter, which is available via subscription (email or print), as well as directly through our website. Here's hoping you enjoy one or more of these titles as much as we did!
Michael Connelly, Dark Sacred Night, Little, Brown.
I don’t know how Connelly does it. It is common for readers to tire of series characters and inevitably say that the later books in a series are good but not as good as the earlier titles. However, after more than 30 novels, mostly about the iconic Harry Bosch, the new Connelly novel is just as fresh and compelling as anything he has ever written. Seeming always to find a new variation, this one features both Bosch and his new series character, the female cop Renée Ballard, who tell the stories in alternate chapters (or groups of chapters). Bosch has aged (he has a daughter in college) and now is a reserve officer for the San Fernando Police Department, while Ballard is a detective for the LAPD who has been punished for standing up to a superior officer and been assigned to the night shift, known in cop speak as “the late show’ (the title of the book in which she was introduced last year) and they find themselves working together on one major case and several others, most of which are tied to that long-ago cold case: the brutal murder of Daisy Clayton, a 15-year-old runaway. Bosch knows her mother, who has largely given her life over to drugs after her daughter was murdered, and he believes the killer is responsible for the destruction of two lives. As Bosch works on the case, he tells Ballard of some famous cases from his time in Hollywood Homicide—almost before she was born—when the media gave names to many of those cases: “The Woman in the Suitcase,” “The Man with No Hands,” “The Dollmaker,” and so on. “It was as though homicides back then were an event,” he muses. “Now it seemed that nothing was new, nothing shocked.” There’s no denying that I’m a devotee of Bosch and can’t wait for his next adventure, but I also think Renée Ballard is a fabulous character and am glad she’ll be a continuing presence. Hardcover (To Be Signed). $28.99. Pre-order here! | Exclusive Limited Edition also available for pre-order here.
Lou Berney, November Road, William Morrow.
Unfolding in the wake of the JFK assassination, Lou Berney’s November Road is a masterpiece of suspense, noir, and heart. New Orleans, 1963: Frank Guidry is a slick mob operator, making deals and greasing palms for Carlos Marcello, boss of the town. After a bullet kills President Kennedy, a nation mourns, and Frank panics, knowing that he recently delivered a car to Dallas on behalf of Marcello, a sworn enemy of the Kennedy brothers. When Frank realizes that loose ends are being cut and he might be next, he goes on the run, triggering a nation-wide mafia manhunt.
Frank’s flight takes him west in a road trip of fear, and surprising moments of tenderness once Frank’s path crosses with Charlotte, a woman leaving her husband with her two young daughters in tow. Realizing that acquiring a family might be the best disguise against the hitman hot on his tail, Frank the mobster must become Frank the family man. The world of November Road is spectacularly rendered, from the bars of New Orleans, to the nightmarish glass palaces of Las Vegas, and populated by an unforgettable cast of coldly calculating mobsters. Alternating chapters between Frank, Charlotte, and the hitman chasing them down, Berney deftly weaves these threads together, creating an incredible sense of paranoia and doom, all while writing with a supherb eye for human fallibility and longing. Hardcover. $26.99. A Thriller Club selection. Signed copies available here.
Anthony Horowitz, Forever and a Day, Harper.
007 is dead! The sea has given up its secrets before, but when a bullet-ridden body washes up off of Marseille, hell has frozen over and the unthinkable has happened. The notion of a ‘license to kill’ was a new one and had been enacted over certain misgivings within the Service. But it is only five years after V-E day and it might be said that the war is not yet over, for Great Britain has enemies foreign and domestic, and truly the battle rages on. Deliberately kept small and secret, the ‘00’ section now has one operative dead, one in hospital for the foreseeable future, and one underground in Miami. Enter the division’s newest recruit, a man named Bond--James Bond. He insists upon retaining the code number and is quickly dispatched to the South of France to determine what happened to his predecessor, who was investigating labour racketeering amongst the Corsicans. Of course there is a woman involved--code name Sixtine. Trained at Bletchley, she is an agent who knows no loyalty save to whoever will pay, and who may or may not be involved with the syndicates and who may or may not be in cahoots with the opposition.
Again Anthony Horowitz brings 007 to vibrant life in the latest thriller based upon Ian Fleming’s worldwide sensation. As in the author’s previous James Bond adventure, Trigger Mortis, he utilizes material from a set of scripts prepared by Fleming for a proposed television series. When the film franchise took off, this plan was abandoned, but author Horowitz bases one of the chapters on this work and another on information contained in Fleming’s nonfiction collection Thrilling Cities. A smashing, senses-shattering ride through postwar Europe--with the one and only 007. Hardcover. Signed UK Edition (Jonathan Cape), $48.00, available in limited quantities here. Unsigned US Edition (Harper, pictured) also available at $26.99.
Robert Olen Butler, Paris in the Dark, Mysterious Press.
The fourth book of this exciting series finds reporter/spy “Kit” Cobb in Paris. It's 1915 and Europe is at war. Cobb is reporting on the American volunteers driving ambulances to the front lines to the wounded back to Paris hospitals. The city is also under siege from within as someone is planting bombs and killing civilians. The French Secret Service is afraid the enemy is entering the city with the many refugees escaping the German onslaught. The German speaking Cobb is tasked with going underground, find whoever is responsible and kill them. His investigation from seedy bars to the front lines ends in a highly thrilling climax. Butler has written a fast-paced, entertaining but also a deeply-felt work that rises well above the “thriller” genre. Hardcover available. $26.00.
Thanks for reading!
Check in again next month for a new set of staff favorites.
Here are our top five bestselling titles, both hardcover and paperback, respectively, for October 2018! This list can also be found in our newsletter, which is available via subscription (email or print) or directly via our website.
All signed books are available on our website. Simply follow the link beneath the respective title to order a copy.
All unsigned books are available in-store or by phone order. The shop's phone number is 212-587-1011.
1. George Pelecanos
The Man Who Came Uptown
2. Megan Abbott
Give Me Your Hand
Little, Brown & Co.
3. Edwin Hill
4. Lea Carpenter
Red, White, Blue
5. Walter Mosley
Atlantic Monthly Press.
1. Guy Bolton
2. Nathan Englander
Dinner at the Center of the Earth
3. Jonathan Santlofer
The Widower's Notebook
4. Alan Drew
5. Oscar de Muriel
A Fever of the Blood
Check in again soon for October's Staff Favorites!
Here are a few titles we've read recently and enjoyed over at the Mysterious Bookshop. Generally, these recommendations are written for our newsletter, which is available via email or physical subscription, as well as directly through our website here. We hope these books pique your interests as they did ours!
Hare, Cyril, An English Murder, Faber & Faber.
Largely because of my new publishing company, Penzler Publishers, and its imprint, American Mystery Classics, I’ve been reading quite a few wonderful vintage titles for the past few months. It would be too obvious to choose my favorite of the month from our first list; the books are described elsewhere in the newsletter and all six are my favorite! Instead, I picked up this wonderful, very English mystery story which is nearly perfect of its kind. It is set at Christmas-time in Warbeck Hall, a grand old country house. Naturally, a heavy snow storm cuts the holiday party,
rife with seething angers, jealousies, and frustrations, off from all communication with the outside world. A policeman from Scotland Yard is among the guests, sent to protect a cabinet minister, and so is the head of a fascist organization, as well as Lady Camilla, who has set her sights on him. Add the wife of the politician for whom she has ambitions, a perfect butler, a scholar working on the family’s papers, and the dying head of the family who has invited them for what he knows will be his last Christmas. Poison takes the first victim, though dinner is still impeccably served—and on time. Hare brilliantly disguises the identity of the murderer and does it with a subtle humor that will have readers smiling throughout the novel, if not laughing out loud. On the morning after the murder, one of the guests comes down for breakfast. She says, “Goodness knows, I don’t feel capable of eating anything on a morning like this!...No, don’t bother, I can help myself....What is that under the cover?...Oh, well, perhaps a small kipper, if you don’t mind. After all, as I always tell my husband, one must keep one’s strength up.” PB. $14.95.
Nico Walker, Cherry, Knopf.
Most crime novels start with a mystery and end with a solution. Cherry does it backwards. Our narrator begins as a relatively innocent kid, and ends as an Iraq War veteran addicted to heroin and robbing banks. It is hard to view Cherry as purely fiction since its author, Nico Walker, is a veteran, and a former heroin addict currently serving time in prison for bank robbery.
The narrator of Cherry is not saintly, apologetic, or even particularly sympathetic, but he is achingly human. We join him in his descent to hell overseas. His return to the States is not as a glorious victor, but as a haunted shell seeking any relief from pain. Not all will relate as he gets deeper and deeper into drugs and crime. None can deny the power of his pain.
Why wallow in this misery? Though the world of Cherry is ugly, it’s our world and its problems aren’t solving themselves. Plus the writing is a blast: a knowing irreverent stream of absurdity, profanity and heartache. While the war scenes are inescapable nightmares, Tim O’Brien colliding with Denis Johnson, the crime scenes are casually naturalistic. Cherry doesn’t give us the solving of a crime, but the creation of a criminal. Because crime is nothing compared to war. HC. $26.95.
Max Allan Collins & A. Brad Schwartz, Scarface and the Untouchable, William Morrow.
Many people have seen the television series The Untouchables, and films like Scarface (both versions), The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and even Boardwalk Empire, but how many know the real story of mob boss Al Capone and Prohibition enforcer Eliot Ness? There is a strange tendency to romanticize gangland violence; similarly, folks like to minimize Ness’ contribution to law enforcement during the ‘noble experiment.’ But what if the two were human beings, subject to the usual foibles and follies? In Scarface and the Untouchable, by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, the authors strip away decades of mythmaking and self-serving narratives, using thousands of hours worth of research by themselves and others, to tell the true story. Both Ness and Capone were single-minded in pursuit of their goals, whatever they may be; both were convinced that they were in the right; and both have been ill-served by history. The passage of time tends to obscure the realities of the street, and here we learn about some hard truths: Capone apparently did beat a rival with a baseball bat; Ness really was dedicated and incorruptible; and Chicago and its environs, especially Cicero, Illinois, were places where conventional law enforcement hopelessly broke down, due in part to the ease of bribing low-paid local officials, and in part due to the utter ineptitude of the Hoover administration. Citizens’ committees made some difference in turning the tides, but the brilliant, innovative strategy of busting gangsters for income tax evasion was very successful and driven by the Supreme Court decision that even illegal income was taxable.
Take a trip back to the Depression-era Windy City, where death by machine gun lurked around every corner, the Prohibition law was simply ignored as a joke, and the federal government had a very long road to regain the public trust. HC. $29.99.
Von Dovlak, Scott, Charlesgate Confidential, Hard Case.
The theft of masterpieces from the Gardner Museum in 1990 is the premise of this fabulous novel, but the author ingeniously stages it in 1946. Three men foolishly rob the wrong card game at the derelict Carlesgate Hotel, and as punishment are forced to take part in the theft. We jump to 2014, and a murder at the now expensive Charlesgate. In 1986, the building is owned by Emerson College, and student Tommy Donnelly is writing the history of the building, bringing him to the attention of one of the thieves. And so it goes, jumping ahead decades, then jumping back, each chapter introducing colorful characters, each with the idea of getting rich. How it all plays out is priceless. HC. $22.99.
Thanks for reading. Check in next month for a new set of staff favorites!
After months of reading as many short mystery stories as possible (seriously, around 3,000 tales of murder, crime, and transgression), editor Otto Penzler and guest editor Louise Penny have selected the twenty best of the past year, to be published in this fall's Best American Mystery Stories anthology from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
We've spent the last week notifying authors of their inclusion in the top twenty, and are sharing it here as a preview of things to come. Runners up will be listed in the book when it is published. Congratulations to all that were selected!
(Note: We still have copies of Best American Mystery Stories 2017 signed by Otto, available here)
- LOUIS BAYARD, Banana Triangle Six, published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
- ANDREW BOURELLE, Y Is for Yangchuan Lizard, published in D Is for Dinosaur, edited by Rhonda Parrish
- T.C. BOYLE, The Designee, published in the Iowa Review
- MICHAEL BRACKEN, Smoked, published in Noir at the Salad Bar, edited by Verena Rose, Harriette Sackler, and Shawn Reilly Simmons
- BURKE, JAMES LEE, The Wild Side of Life, published in the Southern Review
- LEE CHILD, Too Much Time, published in No Middle Name
- MICHAEL CONNELLY, The Third Panel, published in Alive in Shape and Color, edited by Lawrence Block
- JOHN FLOYD, Gun Work, published in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks
- DAVID EDGERLEY GATES, Cabin Fever, published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
- CHARLAINE HARRIS, Small Signs, published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
- ROB HART, Take-Out, published in MysteryTribune
- DAVID H. HENDRICKSON, Death in the Serengeti, published in Fiction River, edited by Kevin J. Anderson
- ANDREW KLAVAN, All Our Yesterdays, published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
- MARTIN LIMON, PX Christmas, published in The Usual Santas, edited by Peter Lovesey
- PAUL D. MARKS, Windward, published in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks
- JOYCE CAROL OATES, Phantomwise: 1972, published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
- ALAN ORLOFF, Rule Number One, published in Snowbound, edited by Verena Rose, Harriette Sackler, and Shawn Reilly Simmons
- WILLIAM DYLAN POWELL, The Apex Predator, published in Switchblade
- SCOTT LOVING SANDERS, Waiting on Joe, published in Shooting Creek and Other Stories
- BRIAN SILVERMAN, Breadfruit, published in MysteryTribune