James Patterson’s Support of Bookstores
Oline Cogdill

patterson_james
For several years now, mega-bestseller James Patterson has been an advocate of literacy, supplying schools and programs with books for young readers.

Now Patterson has announced that he will be giving $1 million to independent bookstores to help support them. He will be donating $267,000 to 55 bookstores as well as to California Bookstore Day on May 3.

The grants range from $2,000 to $15,000; the average donation is $4,750. The rest of the $1 million will be disbursed in stages during the rest of the year, according to his web site.

Patterson says that the only requirements were that stores be "viable" and have a children's section.

In a statement, Patterson said, “Every day, booksellers are out there saving our country's literature. The work they do to support schools and the rest of their communities leaves a lasting love of reading in children and adults. I believe their work is vital to our future as a country.”

Some of the stores submitted proposals for how they would use money; some were recommended by industry professionals. Nine stores were recommended by fellow authors Kate DiCamillo, Pam Munoz Ryan, Brian Selznick, R.L. Stine and Clare Vanderpool. (Booksellers and book lovers can continue to suggest favorite stores at JamesPatterson.com.)

Stores aren't required to report on how they use the money, but Patterson has said he hopes stores will share their experiences and how the money leads to change in the stores.

One store has state it will use the money to bring children's authors to local schools and the store. Another will put the grant toward buying a van for mobile author events and book fairs. Others will use the money for needed repairs such as damaged floors and worn carpeting.

Needless to say, the bookstore owners are thrilled and appreciative.

In a New York Times story, Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., said, "We can't have a business plan that says James Patterson is is going to come along and give us something every year, but these are things that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

“It wouldn't mean we'd go out of business, but it would mean that this particular dream would be put off for a few years,” added Petrocelli whose grant is going toward buying a van for mobile author events and book fairs.

The First Round of Stores

The following are the 55 stores (and California Bookstore Day) receiving the first round of James Patterson's grants of $1 million, ranging from $2,000 to $15,000, and what some of them are doing with them, as noted by the stores or media, according to Shelf Awareness. Not all stores disclosed the amount of their awards:

California Bookstore Day ($15,000 for marketing and publicity)

A Whale of a Tale, Irvine, Calif.

Alamosa Books, Albuquerque, N.M.

Anderson's, Naperville, Ill. (recommended by R.L. Stine)

Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

Bank Street Bookstore, New York, N.Y.

Book Bin, Northbrook, Ill.

Book Culture, New York, N.Y.

Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif. (toward the purchase of a van for mobile author events and book fairs)

Book Revue, Huntington, N.Y. (keep employees, pay property tax, repair floor and roof)

The Bookies, Denver, Colo.

The BookLoft, Great Barrington, Mass.

BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

Books & Greetings, Northvale, N.J.

Books of Wonder, New York, N.Y. (recommended by R.L. Stine)

Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif. ($4,500 to bring children's authors to schools and the store)

The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, N.Y.

Booktenders, Doylestown, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, finish gallery)

Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.M.

Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex. ($5,000 for kids' programming)

Brewster Book Store, Brewster, Mass.

Broadside Book Shop, Northampton, Mass.

Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Children’s Book World, Los Angeles, Calif.

Children's Book World, Haverford, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, $2,500 for authors visiting schools)

The Children's Bookstore, Baltimore, Md. (possibly add to program to help teachers buy books for use in classes)

Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa. (creative space for older children)

Eighth Day Books, Wichita, Kan. (recommended by Clare Vanderpool)

Gallery Bookshop/Bookwinkle Children, Mendocino, Calif. ($5,000 for computer system upgrades)

Hicklebee's, San Jose, Calif. (new computer system and manager bonus)

Innisfree Bookshop, Lincoln, N.H.

Lake Forest BookStore, Lake Forest, Ill.

Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga. (purchase of a bookmobile)

Malaprop's Bookstore and Café, Asheville, N.C. ($7,500 for floor restoration and new carpeting)

Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach and San Diego, Calif.

Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt. (kids' programming)

Oblong Books, Millerton, N.Y. ($7,500 for roof repairs)

Odyssey Book Shop, South Hadley, Mass.

Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo. ($2,500 for a summer reading program)

Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C. ($2,500 for new carpeting)

Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.

Percy's Burrow, Topsham, Me. ($2,500)

Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, Vt. ($5,000 for community outreach)

Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.

Reading Reptile, Kansas City, Mo. (recommended by Brian Selznick)

Red Balloon, St. Paul, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)

Russo's Marketplace Books, Bakersfield, Calif.

Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, Mich. (books for children)

Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo.

Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass. (iPad to sell books at off-site events, a video camera and a small PA system)

Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)

Wonderland Books, Rockford, Ill.

The Yellow Brick Road, San Diego, Calif. (recommended by Pam Munoz

Oline Cogdill
Sunday, 02 March 2014 08:03

patterson_james
For several years now, mega-bestseller James Patterson has been an advocate of literacy, supplying schools and programs with books for young readers.

Now Patterson has announced that he will be giving $1 million to independent bookstores to help support them. He will be donating $267,000 to 55 bookstores as well as to California Bookstore Day on May 3.

The grants range from $2,000 to $15,000; the average donation is $4,750. The rest of the $1 million will be disbursed in stages during the rest of the year, according to his web site.

Patterson says that the only requirements were that stores be "viable" and have a children's section.

In a statement, Patterson said, “Every day, booksellers are out there saving our country's literature. The work they do to support schools and the rest of their communities leaves a lasting love of reading in children and adults. I believe their work is vital to our future as a country.”

Some of the stores submitted proposals for how they would use money; some were recommended by industry professionals. Nine stores were recommended by fellow authors Kate DiCamillo, Pam Munoz Ryan, Brian Selznick, R.L. Stine and Clare Vanderpool. (Booksellers and book lovers can continue to suggest favorite stores at JamesPatterson.com.)

Stores aren't required to report on how they use the money, but Patterson has said he hopes stores will share their experiences and how the money leads to change in the stores.

One store has state it will use the money to bring children's authors to local schools and the store. Another will put the grant toward buying a van for mobile author events and book fairs. Others will use the money for needed repairs such as damaged floors and worn carpeting.

Needless to say, the bookstore owners are thrilled and appreciative.

In a New York Times story, Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., said, "We can't have a business plan that says James Patterson is is going to come along and give us something every year, but these are things that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

“It wouldn't mean we'd go out of business, but it would mean that this particular dream would be put off for a few years,” added Petrocelli whose grant is going toward buying a van for mobile author events and book fairs.

The First Round of Stores

The following are the 55 stores (and California Bookstore Day) receiving the first round of James Patterson's grants of $1 million, ranging from $2,000 to $15,000, and what some of them are doing with them, as noted by the stores or media, according to Shelf Awareness. Not all stores disclosed the amount of their awards:

California Bookstore Day ($15,000 for marketing and publicity)

A Whale of a Tale, Irvine, Calif.

Alamosa Books, Albuquerque, N.M.

Anderson's, Naperville, Ill. (recommended by R.L. Stine)

Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

Bank Street Bookstore, New York, N.Y.

Book Bin, Northbrook, Ill.

Book Culture, New York, N.Y.

Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif. (toward the purchase of a van for mobile author events and book fairs)

Book Revue, Huntington, N.Y. (keep employees, pay property tax, repair floor and roof)

The Bookies, Denver, Colo.

The BookLoft, Great Barrington, Mass.

BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

Books & Greetings, Northvale, N.J.

Books of Wonder, New York, N.Y. (recommended by R.L. Stine)

Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif. ($4,500 to bring children's authors to schools and the store)

The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, N.Y.

Booktenders, Doylestown, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, finish gallery)

Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.M.

Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex. ($5,000 for kids' programming)

Brewster Book Store, Brewster, Mass.

Broadside Book Shop, Northampton, Mass.

Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Children’s Book World, Los Angeles, Calif.

Children's Book World, Haverford, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, $2,500 for authors visiting schools)

The Children's Bookstore, Baltimore, Md. (possibly add to program to help teachers buy books for use in classes)

Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa. (creative space for older children)

Eighth Day Books, Wichita, Kan. (recommended by Clare Vanderpool)

Gallery Bookshop/Bookwinkle Children, Mendocino, Calif. ($5,000 for computer system upgrades)

Hicklebee's, San Jose, Calif. (new computer system and manager bonus)

Innisfree Bookshop, Lincoln, N.H.

Lake Forest BookStore, Lake Forest, Ill.

Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga. (purchase of a bookmobile)

Malaprop's Bookstore and Café, Asheville, N.C. ($7,500 for floor restoration and new carpeting)

Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach and San Diego, Calif.

Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt. (kids' programming)

Oblong Books, Millerton, N.Y. ($7,500 for roof repairs)

Odyssey Book Shop, South Hadley, Mass.

Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo. ($2,500 for a summer reading program)

Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C. ($2,500 for new carpeting)

Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.

Percy's Burrow, Topsham, Me. ($2,500)

Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, Vt. ($5,000 for community outreach)

Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.

Reading Reptile, Kansas City, Mo. (recommended by Brian Selznick)

Red Balloon, St. Paul, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)

Russo's Marketplace Books, Bakersfield, Calif.

Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, Mich. (books for children)

Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo.

Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass. (iPad to sell books at off-site events, a video camera and a small PA system)

Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)

Wonderland Books, Rockford, Ill.

The Yellow Brick Road, San Diego, Calif. (recommended by Pam Munoz

My Venice and Other Essays
Jon L. Breen

The author of the Guido Brunetti series, an American expatriate who has lived in Italy for some 30 years, covers a variety of subjects in mostly short essays: her adopted city of Venice, music (mostly opera), animals, men, America, and books. Her mystery writing comes up only occasionally, but that last section includes “With Barbara Vine,” an amusing account of lunch-table shoptalk on murder methods with Ruth Rendell; and “Suggestions on Writing the Crime Novel,” which makes some interesting and valid points about the contemporary mystery, while citing two admired writers less as models than as exceptions to the rules (Rendell and Patricia Highsmith). Unfortunately, Donna Leon includes the customary reductive and oversimplified swipe at Golden Age detective fiction.

The author presents her blunt and forthright opinions provocatively and entertainingly, and nearly every reader is sure to see red at something. Such as the following, stinging even if true: “If a person is writing for an American audience, then she must assume a certain pool of knowledge—alas, a very shallow pool in this case—different from that of a European audience.” A particularly interesting cultural and literary insight is why the fictional death of Edith Wharton’s Lily Bart in The House of Mirth moved her far more than the real-life death of Princess Diana.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 01:02

The author of the Guido Brunetti series, an American expatriate who has lived in Italy for some 30 years, covers a variety of subjects in mostly short essays: her adopted city of Venice, music (mostly opera), animals, men, America, and books. Her mystery writing comes up only occasionally, but that last section includes “With Barbara Vine,” an amusing account of lunch-table shoptalk on murder methods with Ruth Rendell; and “Suggestions on Writing the Crime Novel,” which makes some interesting and valid points about the contemporary mystery, while citing two admired writers less as models than as exceptions to the rules (Rendell and Patricia Highsmith). Unfortunately, Donna Leon includes the customary reductive and oversimplified swipe at Golden Age detective fiction.

The author presents her blunt and forthright opinions provocatively and entertainingly, and nearly every reader is sure to see red at something. Such as the following, stinging even if true: “If a person is writing for an American audience, then she must assume a certain pool of knowledge—alas, a very shallow pool in this case—different from that of a European audience.” A particularly interesting cultural and literary insight is why the fictional death of Edith Wharton’s Lily Bart in The House of Mirth moved her far more than the real-life death of Princess Diana.

Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scene at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on Pbs
Jon L. Breen

As a viewer since the early Masterpiece Theatre days (when the spelling of the second word in the title was a matter of controversy), I expected this memoir of the series producer from 1985 on to be more diverting. The autobiographical parts are unremarkable, and there’s an occasional sense of public-relations puffery. Contents range from superficial summary to revealing anecdotes. The sparse coverage of the mystery programming, possibly because Rebecca Eaton has no particular enthusiasm for mystery fiction generally, is especially disappointing. Though there are scattered references to the great roster of TV detectives (John Thaw as Morse, Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh, Jeremy Brett as Holmes, David Suchet as Poirot, Michael Kitchen as Foyle, Joan Hickson as Miss Marple), there isn’t much about those programs. Most criminous coverage is given to the adaptations of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee novels (about four pages), mystery buff Kenneth Branagh’s appearance as Kurt Wallander (two pages), and the 21st-century Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch (three or four pages), compared to 40 pages plus for Downton Abbey.

The portrait of longtime host Alistair Cooke and description of his working methods (he wrote and quickly memorized his program introductions) is certainly enlightening, and in some ways surprising. Cooke admired John Mortimer’s Rumpole stories and was unhappy that series wound up not on Masterpiece proper but on the spinoff, Mystery!

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 01:02

As a viewer since the early Masterpiece Theatre days (when the spelling of the second word in the title was a matter of controversy), I expected this memoir of the series producer from 1985 on to be more diverting. The autobiographical parts are unremarkable, and there’s an occasional sense of public-relations puffery. Contents range from superficial summary to revealing anecdotes. The sparse coverage of the mystery programming, possibly because Rebecca Eaton has no particular enthusiasm for mystery fiction generally, is especially disappointing. Though there are scattered references to the great roster of TV detectives (John Thaw as Morse, Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh, Jeremy Brett as Holmes, David Suchet as Poirot, Michael Kitchen as Foyle, Joan Hickson as Miss Marple), there isn’t much about those programs. Most criminous coverage is given to the adaptations of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee novels (about four pages), mystery buff Kenneth Branagh’s appearance as Kurt Wallander (two pages), and the 21st-century Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch (three or four pages), compared to 40 pages plus for Downton Abbey.

The portrait of longtime host Alistair Cooke and description of his working methods (he wrote and quickly memorized his program introductions) is certainly enlightening, and in some ways surprising. Cooke admired John Mortimer’s Rumpole stories and was unhappy that series wound up not on Masterpiece proper but on the spinoff, Mystery!

Race, Gender and Empire in American Detective Fiction
Jon L. Breen

Unlike so many jargon-heavy academic studies, this book can be recommended to a wide range of mystery enthusiasts. John Cullen Gruesser is one of the most readable and stimulating professorial writers on crime fiction, and he has fresh insights to offer on race and gender, topics that sometimes seem the only ones English professors are interested in. It’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to read or rediscover at least some of the novels and stories under discussion, and there is no more definitive test for a work of criticism than that.

The introduction summarizes what is to come and provides a very good reading of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Other topics include Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin tales and their establishment of a durable detective story framework; four 19th-century literary works that use elements of detection in different ways: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno (which sounds especially interesting to me), Harriet Ann Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Mark Twain’s “The Stolen White Elephant,” which Gruesser identifies as a parody not just of the Pinkertons and dime novels but very pointedly of Poe; changes in gender roles reflected in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s “The Long Arm” and Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”; early hardboiled stories by Hammett and Carroll John Daly that establish a link of crime fiction and imperialism; and African American detective fiction, focusing on the early-20th-century works of Pauline Hopkins, “Talma Gordon” and Hagar’s Daughter, and Chester Himes’ early 1930s short story “He Knew” as it foreshadowed his later series about Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. Finally, contemporaries Walter Mosley and Valerie Wilson Wesley are discussed, concluding with a 2003 interview with Wesley.

As in his anthology A Century of Detection: Twenty Great Mystery Stories, 1841–1940 (2010), which includes many of the stories discussed here, Gruesser oddly neglects classical detection as brought to its highest level of achievement between the World Wars. This is especially surprising given his close attention to issues of fair play and puzzle construction in Hammett and Poe.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 01:02

Unlike so many jargon-heavy academic studies, this book can be recommended to a wide range of mystery enthusiasts. John Cullen Gruesser is one of the most readable and stimulating professorial writers on crime fiction, and he has fresh insights to offer on race and gender, topics that sometimes seem the only ones English professors are interested in. It’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to read or rediscover at least some of the novels and stories under discussion, and there is no more definitive test for a work of criticism than that.

The introduction summarizes what is to come and provides a very good reading of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Other topics include Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin tales and their establishment of a durable detective story framework; four 19th-century literary works that use elements of detection in different ways: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno (which sounds especially interesting to me), Harriet Ann Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Mark Twain’s “The Stolen White Elephant,” which Gruesser identifies as a parody not just of the Pinkertons and dime novels but very pointedly of Poe; changes in gender roles reflected in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s “The Long Arm” and Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”; early hardboiled stories by Hammett and Carroll John Daly that establish a link of crime fiction and imperialism; and African American detective fiction, focusing on the early-20th-century works of Pauline Hopkins, “Talma Gordon” and Hagar’s Daughter, and Chester Himes’ early 1930s short story “He Knew” as it foreshadowed his later series about Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. Finally, contemporaries Walter Mosley and Valerie Wilson Wesley are discussed, concluding with a 2003 interview with Wesley.

As in his anthology A Century of Detection: Twenty Great Mystery Stories, 1841–1940 (2010), which includes many of the stories discussed here, Gruesser oddly neglects classical detection as brought to its highest level of achievement between the World Wars. This is especially surprising given his close attention to issues of fair play and puzzle construction in Hammett and Poe.

The Expo Files: Articles by the Crusading Journalist
Jon L. Breen

In the years before his posthumous fame as the author of the Millennium Trilogy, beginning with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Larsson was a prominent left-wing journalist in Sweden, a tireless champion of women’s rights, and an implacable enemy of racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. This collection of his articles begins with a 1995 piece on the Oklahoma City bombing and the possibility of a similar crime in Sweden, then goes on to cover neo-Nazi political movements, astrology and superstition, the far-right Sweden Democrats, Swedish nationalism, and violence toward women and homosexuals. Only on a single page of an article describing a trip from Moscow to Beijing on the Trans-Siberian Railway is the author’s knowledge of and affection for mystery fiction explicitly revealed, with references to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Five Red Herrings, and Alfred Hitchcock’s film North by Northwest.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 01:02

In the years before his posthumous fame as the author of the Millennium Trilogy, beginning with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Larsson was a prominent left-wing journalist in Sweden, a tireless champion of women’s rights, and an implacable enemy of racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. This collection of his articles begins with a 1995 piece on the Oklahoma City bombing and the possibility of a similar crime in Sweden, then goes on to cover neo-Nazi political movements, astrology and superstition, the far-right Sweden Democrats, Swedish nationalism, and violence toward women and homosexuals. Only on a single page of an article describing a trip from Moscow to Beijing on the Trans-Siberian Railway is the author’s knowledge of and affection for mystery fiction explicitly revealed, with references to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Five Red Herrings, and Alfred Hitchcock’s film North by Northwest.

Sycamore Row
Dick Lochte

Back when John Grisham was distributing copies of his first novel, A Time to Kill, to Mississippi bookstores from the trunk of his car, he probably didn’t in his most blissful dreams imagine there’d be a day when its sequel would top most of the nation’s bestseller lists. In the intervening 25 years, however, his second book, The Firm, sold more copies than any other novel of 1991, was followed by a very popular film adaptation, and more bestselling legal thrillers, and more films. And now the author once again returns to the fictitious Deep South hamlet of Clayton, Mississippi, following up on attorney Jake Brigance’s life and practice just three years after his somewhat amazing courtroom victory in A Time to Kill. Without getting too specific and spoilery about that plot, what Brigance defeated was the town’s tendency toward racism, an unpleasant failing still very much in evidence in the new book. In retaliation to his legal win in A Time to Kill, the KKK has burned down his home, killed his dog and just about put him out of business. Then, unpleasantly cantankerous yet progressive-thinking gazillionaire Carl Lee Hailey opts for suicide over years of painful inoperative cancer and, just before hanging himself to a sycamore tree, arranges for Brigance to handle his estate in accordance with a new holographic will that sternly disinherits his son, daughter, and grandchildren in favor of Letitia Lang, a black woman who has been his housekeeper for many years. The children contest the will and, once again, the lawyer finds himself in a deep Dixie courtroom, involved in a trial and struggling against racial bias. Film and television actor Michael Beck has a smooth Southern drawl that he used to great effect on the audio of A Time to Kill. It serves him just as well here in a novel that, possibly reflecting the author’s maturity, is just as compelling and effective as the earlier work without being quite so dramatic or intense.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

Back when John Grisham was distributing copies of his first novel, A Time to Kill, to Mississippi bookstores from the trunk of his car, he probably didn’t in his most blissful dreams imagine there’d be a day when its sequel would top most of the nation’s bestseller lists. In the intervening 25 years, however, his second book, The Firm, sold more copies than any other novel of 1991, was followed by a very popular film adaptation, and more bestselling legal thrillers, and more films. And now the author once again returns to the fictitious Deep South hamlet of Clayton, Mississippi, following up on attorney Jake Brigance’s life and practice just three years after his somewhat amazing courtroom victory in A Time to Kill. Without getting too specific and spoilery about that plot, what Brigance defeated was the town’s tendency toward racism, an unpleasant failing still very much in evidence in the new book. In retaliation to his legal win in A Time to Kill, the KKK has burned down his home, killed his dog and just about put him out of business. Then, unpleasantly cantankerous yet progressive-thinking gazillionaire Carl Lee Hailey opts for suicide over years of painful inoperative cancer and, just before hanging himself to a sycamore tree, arranges for Brigance to handle his estate in accordance with a new holographic will that sternly disinherits his son, daughter, and grandchildren in favor of Letitia Lang, a black woman who has been his housekeeper for many years. The children contest the will and, once again, the lawyer finds himself in a deep Dixie courtroom, involved in a trial and struggling against racial bias. Film and television actor Michael Beck has a smooth Southern drawl that he used to great effect on the audio of A Time to Kill. It serves him just as well here in a novel that, possibly reflecting the author’s maturity, is just as compelling and effective as the earlier work without being quite so dramatic or intense.

The Hunter and Other Stories
Dick Lochte

This latest, and possibly last, gathering of Dashiell Hammett’s uncollectables includes, according to the description on the audio box, a dozen never-before-published short stories, five “short-fiction narratives,” three screen treatments, and an unfinished Sam Spade story. Though this last may strike some as the most intriguing offering, there’s too little of it to do more than whet the appetite for another dip into The Maltese Falcon. But there are more than enough other fascinating finds to make the collection a must for fans of the great man. For example, the title story, one of several that reader Ray Chase effectively growls through, features a tough-as-nails lawman who may have been a prototype for Hammett’s most frequently recurring sleuth, the Continental Op. Chase also reads a rare example of the author in an antic mood, “Sign of Potent Pills,” a PI parody. Brian Holsopple delivers “Magic,” a fantasy yarn that demonstrates realist Hammett’s surprising fascination with the occult. “Seven Pages,” read in a straightforward, just-the-facts manner by Stephen Bowlby, is a string of autobiographical vignettes that range from the author’s Baltimore youth to a sort of love song to a mysterious redhead of his acquaintance. (There’s also a brief recorded memory of a moment in which he has a face-off with Fatty Arbuckle that may have been one of the inspirations for Ace Atkins’ Devil’s Garden, a fictional account of young Pinkerton detective Hammett’s actual work for the defense during the silent film comedian’s infamous rape-murder trial.) The film stories, also read by Chase, while not quite as well-crafted as Hammett’s draft for the previously published After the Thin Man, are nonetheless entertaining, especially “On the Make” the longest work in the collection. It was originally intended to be a Sam Spade movie, but for this draft the main character has been changed to a crooked private eye named Gene Richmond. The ending is almost as bleak as that of “The Glass Key.” Additionally, there is an introduction and commentaries by Hammett biographer Richard Layman and an afterword by the author’s granddaughter, Julie M. Rivett. As read with sincerity and a hint of playfulness by Donna Postel, all are packed with fascinating information about the stories and their legendary creator.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

This latest, and possibly last, gathering of Dashiell Hammett’s uncollectables includes, according to the description on the audio box, a dozen never-before-published short stories, five “short-fiction narratives,” three screen treatments, and an unfinished Sam Spade story. Though this last may strike some as the most intriguing offering, there’s too little of it to do more than whet the appetite for another dip into The Maltese Falcon. But there are more than enough other fascinating finds to make the collection a must for fans of the great man. For example, the title story, one of several that reader Ray Chase effectively growls through, features a tough-as-nails lawman who may have been a prototype for Hammett’s most frequently recurring sleuth, the Continental Op. Chase also reads a rare example of the author in an antic mood, “Sign of Potent Pills,” a PI parody. Brian Holsopple delivers “Magic,” a fantasy yarn that demonstrates realist Hammett’s surprising fascination with the occult. “Seven Pages,” read in a straightforward, just-the-facts manner by Stephen Bowlby, is a string of autobiographical vignettes that range from the author’s Baltimore youth to a sort of love song to a mysterious redhead of his acquaintance. (There’s also a brief recorded memory of a moment in which he has a face-off with Fatty Arbuckle that may have been one of the inspirations for Ace Atkins’ Devil’s Garden, a fictional account of young Pinkerton detective Hammett’s actual work for the defense during the silent film comedian’s infamous rape-murder trial.) The film stories, also read by Chase, while not quite as well-crafted as Hammett’s draft for the previously published After the Thin Man, are nonetheless entertaining, especially “On the Make” the longest work in the collection. It was originally intended to be a Sam Spade movie, but for this draft the main character has been changed to a crooked private eye named Gene Richmond. The ending is almost as bleak as that of “The Glass Key.” Additionally, there is an introduction and commentaries by Hammett biographer Richard Layman and an afterword by the author’s granddaughter, Julie M. Rivett. As read with sincerity and a hint of playfulness by Donna Postel, all are packed with fascinating information about the stories and their legendary creator.

The Adventures of Philip Marlowe
Dick Lochte

When the Marlowe series first went on the air in 1947, a summer replacement for The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show, Raymond Chandler’s hero was played by Van Heflin. When the series appeared again, a year later, Heflin’s movie status had gone up and the role was turned over to Gerald Mohr, an actor happy to work in both media. Quite a few of the 127 episodes have long been available for collectors, but this assortment includes two that were presumed lost until they were uncovered by critic, biographer and literary truffle hound Tom Nolan, a frequent contributor to these pages—“The Daring Young Dame on the Flying Trapeze” and “Robin and the Hood.” As Nolan points out in an informative program guide, they both feature Heflin whose nice-guy narration was a little softer-boiled than Mohr’s rat-a-tat, angry-edged delivery. Another plus for this entertaining sampler—three of the Heflin shows are reasonably faithful adaptations of Chandler’s published stories—“Red Wind,” “The King in Yellow” (with Marlowe subbing for the original’s hotel house detective) and, best of the batch, “Trouble is my Business.”

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

When the Marlowe series first went on the air in 1947, a summer replacement for The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show, Raymond Chandler’s hero was played by Van Heflin. When the series appeared again, a year later, Heflin’s movie status had gone up and the role was turned over to Gerald Mohr, an actor happy to work in both media. Quite a few of the 127 episodes have long been available for collectors, but this assortment includes two that were presumed lost until they were uncovered by critic, biographer and literary truffle hound Tom Nolan, a frequent contributor to these pages—“The Daring Young Dame on the Flying Trapeze” and “Robin and the Hood.” As Nolan points out in an informative program guide, they both feature Heflin whose nice-guy narration was a little softer-boiled than Mohr’s rat-a-tat, angry-edged delivery. Another plus for this entertaining sampler—three of the Heflin shows are reasonably faithful adaptations of Chandler’s published stories—“Red Wind,” “The King in Yellow” (with Marlowe subbing for the original’s hotel house detective) and, best of the batch, “Trouble is my Business.”

The Backup Men
Dick Lochte

If ever there was a smarter, more cynical, wittier chronicler of wiseguys and spies than Ross Thomas, he or she has escaped my attention. Thus far, The Mysterious Press and HighBridge have co-released a handful of the late writer’s lean, hardboiled, often hilariously funny thrillers in audio format, including one of his best, The Seersucker Whipsaw, a brilliant study of how things can go wrong in the course of a political campaign in Africa. (Thomas once told me it was influenced by his stint as a public relations consultant.) Another availability, Cast a Yellow Shadow, is a sequel to his debut book, an Edgar winner titled The Cold War Swap, as yet unavailable in audio. Both they and the new audio of The Backup Men feature an intriguingly louche duo, saloon-keepers Mac McCorkle, who narrates the tales, and Mike Padillo, who uses his bar half-ownership to keep secret the fact that he is an agent, albeit a reluctant one, of the CIA. Their first adventure ends with their bar in Bonn, Germany, burned to the ground, Padillo among the missing and McCorkle running a new saloon in Washington, DC. At the start of Cast a Yellow Shadow, Mac’s Place in the capital is prospering. Then Padillo resurfaces, suffering knife wounds, and Mc- Corkle’s wife is kidnapped by officials of a South African nation who plan on using her to get the agent to kill someone for them. Backup Men is more of the same, with both guys once again being forced to do things they’d rather not—like protect the obnoxious future king of a small but oil-rich principality from, among others, Walter and Wanda Gothar, a pair of world-class assassins who happen to be twins. Complications ensue, at a pace that stops just short of frenetic. Reader Brian Holsopple’s droll delivery, seasoned with more than a soupçon of sarcasm, works nicely for McCorkle, as does his tougher, faster talk where Padillo is concerned. His verbal handling of the other characters, Thomas’ special brand of oddballs, as eccentric and unpredictable as they are dangerous and sinister, is equally satisfactory. Other Thomas audios are scheduled for early 2014, including The Porkchoppers, The Eighth Dwarf, and The Mordida Man, and I’m counting the days.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

If ever there was a smarter, more cynical, wittier chronicler of wiseguys and spies than Ross Thomas, he or she has escaped my attention. Thus far, The Mysterious Press and HighBridge have co-released a handful of the late writer’s lean, hardboiled, often hilariously funny thrillers in audio format, including one of his best, The Seersucker Whipsaw, a brilliant study of how things can go wrong in the course of a political campaign in Africa. (Thomas once told me it was influenced by his stint as a public relations consultant.) Another availability, Cast a Yellow Shadow, is a sequel to his debut book, an Edgar winner titled The Cold War Swap, as yet unavailable in audio. Both they and the new audio of The Backup Men feature an intriguingly louche duo, saloon-keepers Mac McCorkle, who narrates the tales, and Mike Padillo, who uses his bar half-ownership to keep secret the fact that he is an agent, albeit a reluctant one, of the CIA. Their first adventure ends with their bar in Bonn, Germany, burned to the ground, Padillo among the missing and McCorkle running a new saloon in Washington, DC. At the start of Cast a Yellow Shadow, Mac’s Place in the capital is prospering. Then Padillo resurfaces, suffering knife wounds, and Mc- Corkle’s wife is kidnapped by officials of a South African nation who plan on using her to get the agent to kill someone for them. Backup Men is more of the same, with both guys once again being forced to do things they’d rather not—like protect the obnoxious future king of a small but oil-rich principality from, among others, Walter and Wanda Gothar, a pair of world-class assassins who happen to be twins. Complications ensue, at a pace that stops just short of frenetic. Reader Brian Holsopple’s droll delivery, seasoned with more than a soupçon of sarcasm, works nicely for McCorkle, as does his tougher, faster talk where Padillo is concerned. His verbal handling of the other characters, Thomas’ special brand of oddballs, as eccentric and unpredictable as they are dangerous and sinister, is equally satisfactory. Other Thomas audios are scheduled for early 2014, including The Porkchoppers, The Eighth Dwarf, and The Mordida Man, and I’m counting the days.

Dangerous Women
Bill Crider

Dangerous Women, edited by Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin, will probably sell plenty of copies just on the strength of the Martin novella, “The Princess and the Queen,” which is a prequel to his enormously popular Game of Thrones series of novels. But don’t get the idea that this is just a fantasy anthology. Editor Dozois says in the introduction that the book was “conceived of as a cross-genre anthology, one that would mingle every kind of fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical, horror, paranormal romance...” So there’s something for everybody here. Names you’ll recognize from the crime field include Edgar winner Joe R. Lansdale, whose “Wrestling with Jesus” features Lansdale’s inimitable blend of humor, action, scatology, sentiment, and martial arts in the kind of story only he could write. Megan Abbott, another Edgar winner, has a crime story about the darkness of the human heart. Jim Butcher, whose novels of Harry Dresden, a private eye who walked down some weird streets indeed, have been consistent bestsellers, is present with a story about Molly, Harry’s protégée. (Those of you who’ve read the novels will know why Harry’s not around.) Molly doesn’t have a PI license, but that’s not going to stop her, especially when she finds herself in big trouble. There are a lot more stories in this book, which is nearly 800 pages long. I think you’ll find all the stories are fine reading, whether they’re all crime stories or not.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

Dangerous Women, edited by Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin, will probably sell plenty of copies just on the strength of the Martin novella, “The Princess and the Queen,” which is a prequel to his enormously popular Game of Thrones series of novels. But don’t get the idea that this is just a fantasy anthology. Editor Dozois says in the introduction that the book was “conceived of as a cross-genre anthology, one that would mingle every kind of fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical, horror, paranormal romance...” So there’s something for everybody here. Names you’ll recognize from the crime field include Edgar winner Joe R. Lansdale, whose “Wrestling with Jesus” features Lansdale’s inimitable blend of humor, action, scatology, sentiment, and martial arts in the kind of story only he could write. Megan Abbott, another Edgar winner, has a crime story about the darkness of the human heart. Jim Butcher, whose novels of Harry Dresden, a private eye who walked down some weird streets indeed, have been consistent bestsellers, is present with a story about Molly, Harry’s protégée. (Those of you who’ve read the novels will know why Harry’s not around.) Molly doesn’t have a PI license, but that’s not going to stop her, especially when she finds herself in big trouble. There are a lot more stories in this book, which is nearly 800 pages long. I think you’ll find all the stories are fine reading, whether they’re all crime stories or not.

Deadman’s Road
Bill Crider

Deadman’s Road contains a number of stories in the “weird Western” vein, or, as the blurb puts it, stories featuring “zombies, werewolves, evil spirits, and one pissed-off gunslinging preacher.” At least one of the stories, “Under a Crawling Sky,” does involve a murder, and a most unusual murder weapon.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

Deadman’s Road contains a number of stories in the “weird Western” vein, or, as the blurb puts it, stories featuring “zombies, werewolves, evil spirits, and one pissed-off gunslinging preacher.” At least one of the stories, “Under a Crawling Sky,” does involve a murder, and a most unusual murder weapon.

Bleeding Shadows
Bill Crider

This thick collection (nearly 500 pages) includes “Dead Sister,” an old-style noir story with a private eye a little like the character of Kolchak as portrayed by Darren McGavin in The Nightstalker. How can you not want to read a crime story like that?

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

This thick collection (nearly 500 pages) includes “Dead Sister,” an old-style noir story with a private eye a little like the character of Kolchak as portrayed by Darren McGavin in The Nightstalker. How can you not want to read a crime story like that?

Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled 3
Bill Crider

Beat to a Pulp is an online publication that publishes almost a story a week. The publisher is David Cranmer, and he and Elise Wright have put together a collection of stories that appeared first on the website. The book is called Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled 3, and the title lets you know what awaits. Fred Blosser’s “Gunpoint” brings in a detective whom you’ll recognize, and the others all hit like a punch to the throat.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 24 February 2014 03:02

Beat to a Pulp is an online publication that publishes almost a story a week. The publisher is David Cranmer, and he and Elise Wright have put together a collection of stories that appeared first on the website. The book is called Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled 3, and the title lets you know what awaits. Fred Blosser’s “Gunpoint” brings in a detective whom you’ll recognize, and the others all hit like a punch to the throat.

Shovel Ready
Kevin Burton Smith

Adam Sternbergh paints a bleak but well-rendered picture of a postapocalyptic New York just around the corner, where plugged-in virtual fantasy “beds” are the new cocaine for the swells in the high-rises, and the rabble down on the streets settle for the spam-clogged Internet, cheap drugs, and religion to bypass the “too sharp edges of the actual world.”

A radiation-befouled, hollowed-out shell of a city, the Big Apple stubbornly refuses to die, even with much of its population long gone, and huge swathes of it (including Times Square and parts of the subway) unfit for human use, courtesy of a prolonged series of 9/11-like attacks. But there are still joggers on the streets and hustlers, whores, and assorted other miscreants still working the surviving corners, bars, and back rooms.

One such miscreant is Spademan, a former garbage man who wears his cynicism a little too loudly and proudly on his sleeve, and who’s fond of noting that bumping off people for money isn’t much different from his former occupation—he’s still just taking out the trash. But when he’s hired by a powerful evangelist to track down and kill his pregnant runaway daughter, Spademan instead quickly switches sides, for reasons that serve the plot better than the character.

Of course, eventually we learn Spademan has his reasons.

To his credit, Sternbergh certainly creates a credible, well-thought-out future and uses enough familiar (cyber) noir tropes to connect all the dots, but we’ve seen most of this grungy urban nightmare so often in the 30-odd years since Blade Runner and William Gibson’s Neuromancer came out that this seems more like a well-done genre exercise than the fresh, original “literary” work that the author—or his publisher, perhaps—intended. The lack of dialogue tags and quotation marks is more distracting than groundbreaking, although it may garner some acclaim from the tweed jacket crowd. For the rest of us, though, we’ve been here before.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Adam Sternbergh paints a bleak but well-rendered picture of a postapocalyptic New York just around the corner, where plugged-in virtual fantasy “beds” are the new cocaine for the swells in the high-rises, and the rabble down on the streets settle for the spam-clogged Internet, cheap drugs, and religion to bypass the “too sharp edges of the actual world.”

A radiation-befouled, hollowed-out shell of a city, the Big Apple stubbornly refuses to die, even with much of its population long gone, and huge swathes of it (including Times Square and parts of the subway) unfit for human use, courtesy of a prolonged series of 9/11-like attacks. But there are still joggers on the streets and hustlers, whores, and assorted other miscreants still working the surviving corners, bars, and back rooms.

One such miscreant is Spademan, a former garbage man who wears his cynicism a little too loudly and proudly on his sleeve, and who’s fond of noting that bumping off people for money isn’t much different from his former occupation—he’s still just taking out the trash. But when he’s hired by a powerful evangelist to track down and kill his pregnant runaway daughter, Spademan instead quickly switches sides, for reasons that serve the plot better than the character.

Of course, eventually we learn Spademan has his reasons.

To his credit, Sternbergh certainly creates a credible, well-thought-out future and uses enough familiar (cyber) noir tropes to connect all the dots, but we’ve seen most of this grungy urban nightmare so often in the 30-odd years since Blade Runner and William Gibson’s Neuromancer came out that this seems more like a well-done genre exercise than the fresh, original “literary” work that the author—or his publisher, perhaps—intended. The lack of dialogue tags and quotation marks is more distracting than groundbreaking, although it may garner some acclaim from the tweed jacket crowd. For the rest of us, though, we’ve been here before.

Love Story, With Murders
Eileen Brady

Body parts are turning up all over South Wales. First, there was a leg sporting a pink suede platform shoe, complete with ankle strap. Next, a man’s dark-skinned hand, followed by several unidentifiable pieces wrapped up in butcher’s paper and slipped into someone’s home freezer. It’s going to be a fun weekend for Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, author Harry Bingham’s idiosyncratic detective who first appeared in Talking to the Dead.

In Love Story, With Murders, the second in the series, Fi’s fresh take on the world around her captivated me. Found abandoned as a two-year-old child, she has a mysterious past and almost had no future after being diagnosed as a teenager with Cotard’s syndrome, a rare disorder in which people believe they are dead or parts of their bodies have died or never existed.

As you can imagine, this leads to a unique point of view. But it is Fi’s voice that draws you into this book: strong, intuitive, and definitely a little bent. She is a source of constant irritation to her intimidating boss, Detective Inspector Rhiannon “Ice Queen” Watkins, and a joy to her boyfriend, Detective Sergeant Buzz Brydon. There is no want for suspects so I won’t give you any hints; I'll just say that things aren’t always what they seem. English author and Oxford graduate Bingham has a winner here.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Body parts are turning up all over South Wales. First, there was a leg sporting a pink suede platform shoe, complete with ankle strap. Next, a man’s dark-skinned hand, followed by several unidentifiable pieces wrapped up in butcher’s paper and slipped into someone’s home freezer. It’s going to be a fun weekend for Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, author Harry Bingham’s idiosyncratic detective who first appeared in Talking to the Dead.

In Love Story, With Murders, the second in the series, Fi’s fresh take on the world around her captivated me. Found abandoned as a two-year-old child, she has a mysterious past and almost had no future after being diagnosed as a teenager with Cotard’s syndrome, a rare disorder in which people believe they are dead or parts of their bodies have died or never existed.

As you can imagine, this leads to a unique point of view. But it is Fi’s voice that draws you into this book: strong, intuitive, and definitely a little bent. She is a source of constant irritation to her intimidating boss, Detective Inspector Rhiannon “Ice Queen” Watkins, and a joy to her boyfriend, Detective Sergeant Buzz Brydon. There is no want for suspects so I won’t give you any hints; I'll just say that things aren’t always what they seem. English author and Oxford graduate Bingham has a winner here.

The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band
Betty Webb

Because so many people tell her their troubles, Sissy Roberts describes herself as a human wailing wall. A Sioux Indian woman living on the Redbud Reservation in South Dakota, she sings and plays guitar with a mostly Country and Western band, and no matter where the band travels, someone is bound to tell her their sad story. This is one of the reasons Tom Holm, an FBI agent, asks her to find out who killed Buffalo Ames, another Sioux, who was found dead after being involved in a brawl at the Longhorn Bar, where the band was playing. Since Sissy feels more loyal to her people than to a government agency, she respectfully declines, but she still keeps her eyes—and ears—open.

As the tale of Buffalo Ames’ killing continues, we follow the band to rodeos, powwows, honky-tonks, VFW halls, restaurants, and carnivals. The band’s venues are interesting, but even more interesting is the peek into the daily lives of the Native Americans scattered across South and North Dakota.

Sissy’s relatives and friends provide the heart of the book. And it’s a strong heart. Like the rest of us, they have troublesome relatives, unfaithful lovers, crummy bosses, longtime grudges, betrayals, and hopeful dreams. Because of the lack of employment opportunities, one of the most common dreams is to leave the reservation, but when the young people realize the difficulty of leaving and finding a job, they often give way to despair. Even the talented Sissy often feels this frustration. “There’s this don’t-care- about-anything fog hanging over this whole place,” she says to a fellow band member. “No one tries to fix anything. Every day is more of the same and every week is like the one before and every year and nothing ever gets better.”

The writing here is exquisite, strongly reminiscent of bestselling author Jo-Ann Mapson. Washburn never gives in to the sentimentality that has marred so many other reservation-set novels; she keeps her story taut and to the point. Yes, there’s a murder, and yes, there are suspects, but more than anything, The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band is a tale about love and loss, about the strong bonds of the heart that keep us at home when we long to be somewhere else.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Because so many people tell her their troubles, Sissy Roberts describes herself as a human wailing wall. A Sioux Indian woman living on the Redbud Reservation in South Dakota, she sings and plays guitar with a mostly Country and Western band, and no matter where the band travels, someone is bound to tell her their sad story. This is one of the reasons Tom Holm, an FBI agent, asks her to find out who killed Buffalo Ames, another Sioux, who was found dead after being involved in a brawl at the Longhorn Bar, where the band was playing. Since Sissy feels more loyal to her people than to a government agency, she respectfully declines, but she still keeps her eyes—and ears—open.

As the tale of Buffalo Ames’ killing continues, we follow the band to rodeos, powwows, honky-tonks, VFW halls, restaurants, and carnivals. The band’s venues are interesting, but even more interesting is the peek into the daily lives of the Native Americans scattered across South and North Dakota.

Sissy’s relatives and friends provide the heart of the book. And it’s a strong heart. Like the rest of us, they have troublesome relatives, unfaithful lovers, crummy bosses, longtime grudges, betrayals, and hopeful dreams. Because of the lack of employment opportunities, one of the most common dreams is to leave the reservation, but when the young people realize the difficulty of leaving and finding a job, they often give way to despair. Even the talented Sissy often feels this frustration. “There’s this don’t-care- about-anything fog hanging over this whole place,” she says to a fellow band member. “No one tries to fix anything. Every day is more of the same and every week is like the one before and every year and nothing ever gets better.”

The writing here is exquisite, strongly reminiscent of bestselling author Jo-Ann Mapson. Washburn never gives in to the sentimentality that has marred so many other reservation-set novels; she keeps her story taut and to the point. Yes, there’s a murder, and yes, there are suspects, but more than anything, The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band is a tale about love and loss, about the strong bonds of the heart that keep us at home when we long to be somewhere else.

Castle Rock
Sharon Magee

Carolyn Hart is adept at giving her readers characters to pull for. Such is the case in Castle Rock, where Hart introduces 23-year-old Serena Mallory, the ward of Castle Rock Ranch owner “Uncle” Dan McIntire. She was raised with his niece Julie and nephew Will. Also occupying the spacious ranch is Dan’s grandson Danny, whom Serena loves like a younger brother; ranch foreman Joe Walkingstick; Joe’s wife Millie, who is the cook and housekeeper; and handsome Jed Shelton, a new hand who sets Serena’s heart to fluttering.

Serena considers her life in New Mexico idyllic, but unease begins to set in when something seems not quite right. Possibly it’s the cargo plane Jed saw landing on the flats close to Castle Rock, or the arrival of summer vacationers who seem a little off, or the visit from Julie and her husband, Peter, who seem less than thrilled with her presence at the ranch.

When Uncle Dan dies after being thrown from his spirited horse, the sheriff rules it an accident. Serena is not so sure. When accidents continue to happen and people she loves begin to disappear, she sets out to prove Uncle Dan was murdered and find out who is responsible. And Jed, the man she is attracted to, is her prime suspect.

Hart, an award winner many times over, is a prolific writer in many genres and is always a treat to read. This offering is a hybrid mystery/romance/Western all rolled into one. While it may be a bit predictable and the author's grasp of the Southwest landscape sometimes suspect—there are no saguaro cactuses nor Gila monsters in northern New Mexico—it’s a short (174 pages) fun read. Fans of Hart’s work will enjoy this offering.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Carolyn Hart is adept at giving her readers characters to pull for. Such is the case in Castle Rock, where Hart introduces 23-year-old Serena Mallory, the ward of Castle Rock Ranch owner “Uncle” Dan McIntire. She was raised with his niece Julie and nephew Will. Also occupying the spacious ranch is Dan’s grandson Danny, whom Serena loves like a younger brother; ranch foreman Joe Walkingstick; Joe’s wife Millie, who is the cook and housekeeper; and handsome Jed Shelton, a new hand who sets Serena’s heart to fluttering.

Serena considers her life in New Mexico idyllic, but unease begins to set in when something seems not quite right. Possibly it’s the cargo plane Jed saw landing on the flats close to Castle Rock, or the arrival of summer vacationers who seem a little off, or the visit from Julie and her husband, Peter, who seem less than thrilled with her presence at the ranch.

When Uncle Dan dies after being thrown from his spirited horse, the sheriff rules it an accident. Serena is not so sure. When accidents continue to happen and people she loves begin to disappear, she sets out to prove Uncle Dan was murdered and find out who is responsible. And Jed, the man she is attracted to, is her prime suspect.

Hart, an award winner many times over, is a prolific writer in many genres and is always a treat to read. This offering is a hybrid mystery/romance/Western all rolled into one. While it may be a bit predictable and the author's grasp of the Southwest landscape sometimes suspect—there are no saguaro cactuses nor Gila monsters in northern New Mexico—it’s a short (174 pages) fun read. Fans of Hart’s work will enjoy this offering.

The Amazing Harvey
Hank Wagner

Although barely earning a living as a magician, Harvey Kendall is happy because he’s doing what he loves. He’s on the verge of getting real, paying work in Las Vegas, and an illusion he has designed just may be his ticket to stardom.

His dreams are shattered the day the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department comes knocking to tell him that he is a major suspect in the rape and murder of a young woman named Sherry Allen. Harvey insists he’s innocent, but the DNA evidence appears to be damning. While the police build their case against him, Harvey works to prove the opposite, trying to establish an alibi while looking into the case, and trying to determine just how his DNA came to be found on the victim.

Don Passman’s entertaining third novel reflects his lifelong interest in magic. It informs the entire novel, from the realistic way he describes Harvey’s lifestyle and showmanship to the very fact that the book itself is a carefully constructed mystery—Passman creates a literary illusion, showing you all you need to know, while still maintaining an element of surprise, a final flourish that pays off handsomely. In between, readers are kept entertained by the presence of Harvey himself, the strangest blend of confidence and insecurity you may ever encounter. He’s a true everyman, and very relatable—his only advantages over normal folks are his sarcastic sense of humor, and his ability to see a crime scene through the eyes of a professional magician, spotting clues that those not used to concealing secrets for a living would likely overlook.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Although barely earning a living as a magician, Harvey Kendall is happy because he’s doing what he loves. He’s on the verge of getting real, paying work in Las Vegas, and an illusion he has designed just may be his ticket to stardom.

His dreams are shattered the day the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department comes knocking to tell him that he is a major suspect in the rape and murder of a young woman named Sherry Allen. Harvey insists he’s innocent, but the DNA evidence appears to be damning. While the police build their case against him, Harvey works to prove the opposite, trying to establish an alibi while looking into the case, and trying to determine just how his DNA came to be found on the victim.

Don Passman’s entertaining third novel reflects his lifelong interest in magic. It informs the entire novel, from the realistic way he describes Harvey’s lifestyle and showmanship to the very fact that the book itself is a carefully constructed mystery—Passman creates a literary illusion, showing you all you need to know, while still maintaining an element of surprise, a final flourish that pays off handsomely. In between, readers are kept entertained by the presence of Harvey himself, the strangest blend of confidence and insecurity you may ever encounter. He’s a true everyman, and very relatable—his only advantages over normal folks are his sarcastic sense of humor, and his ability to see a crime scene through the eyes of a professional magician, spotting clues that those not used to concealing secrets for a living would likely overlook.

North of Boston
M. Schlecht

Pirio Kasparov should be dead. Four hours overboard, alone in cold North Atlantic waters, are supposed to do that to a person. But Kasparov, the protagonist in Elisabeth Elo’s entertaining if flawed debut, is not the type to conform to expectations. She’s next in line to head the Boston-based fragrance company started by her Russian immigrant parents, but she’s equally up to helping out a friend’s ex-husband as a laborer on his new lobster boat. That’s when tragedy strikes, he is lost at sea, and she is rescued, eventually.

In North of Boston, Pirio questions why she survived and where the massive ship that splintered their small watercraft came from. Her search leads her to a company called Ocean Catch, and eventually to investigative journalist Russell Parnell, who is also searching for records that reveal the true nature of the ship’s mission. It seems there might be something more going on off the coast than trawling for cod. Ocean Catch goons beat up Parnell, and Pirio herself is threatened, but there’s only one way to discover what’s happening out on the ocean, right?

Exactly. Accept a job as a cook onboard the next voyage from one of the aforementioned thugs. Pirio is tough, but she’s smart enough to know better than to jump into some of the flimsy plot developments in North of Boston, as it lurches from cold New England realism to popcorny spy thriller to eco-warrior fantasy. As the freighter heads north, following the Labrador coast of Canada, there are moments of natural beauty and real danger, but the story never quite sticks. Elo has plenty of ambition and ideas, enough for multiple books. Packed into this first thriller, however, the cracks are noticeable.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Pirio Kasparov should be dead. Four hours overboard, alone in cold North Atlantic waters, are supposed to do that to a person. But Kasparov, the protagonist in Elisabeth Elo’s entertaining if flawed debut, is not the type to conform to expectations. She’s next in line to head the Boston-based fragrance company started by her Russian immigrant parents, but she’s equally up to helping out a friend’s ex-husband as a laborer on his new lobster boat. That’s when tragedy strikes, he is lost at sea, and she is rescued, eventually.

In North of Boston, Pirio questions why she survived and where the massive ship that splintered their small watercraft came from. Her search leads her to a company called Ocean Catch, and eventually to investigative journalist Russell Parnell, who is also searching for records that reveal the true nature of the ship’s mission. It seems there might be something more going on off the coast than trawling for cod. Ocean Catch goons beat up Parnell, and Pirio herself is threatened, but there’s only one way to discover what’s happening out on the ocean, right?

Exactly. Accept a job as a cook onboard the next voyage from one of the aforementioned thugs. Pirio is tough, but she’s smart enough to know better than to jump into some of the flimsy plot developments in North of Boston, as it lurches from cold New England realism to popcorny spy thriller to eco-warrior fantasy. As the freighter heads north, following the Labrador coast of Canada, there are moments of natural beauty and real danger, but the story never quite sticks. Elo has plenty of ambition and ideas, enough for multiple books. Packed into this first thriller, however, the cracks are noticeable.

Dying to Know
Sharon Magee

Pity poor Oliver “Tuck” Tucker. His wife constantly hears noises in the middle of the night. And he, a detective and dutiful husband, must patrol their home, weapon in hand, so he can assure her there is no intruder—until one night when there is. He and the intruder exchange shots. The next thing he knows, he’s sitting at his desk. His body, on the other hand, lies crumpled in the hallway. His house is abuzz with fellow detectives working his murder scene, including his partner, a big guy called Bear.

Tuck finds death disappointing. No white light, no trumpets, no billowy clouds. It appears he must solve his own murder before he can make that final ascension. But he needs help. After struggling to harness his ghost power, both his black lab, Hercule, and his wife, Angel, can see and hear him. Angel agrees to help him find his killer. Among the many suspects is his partner Bear, who is acting strangely. Then there’s Poor Nicholas Bartalotta, aka Poor Nic, a mob boss; and Tuck’s nemeses, Detectives Clemons and Spence. When Angel becomes the killer’s next target, Tuck knows their time to find the killer is running out.

In this, TJ O’Connor’s debut novel, he gives readers an interesting premise and great characters. His one misstep is Angel, a sympathetic character until she begins to flirt openly with Bear only days after Tuck’s death. Overall, though, a great start to a new series.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Pity poor Oliver “Tuck” Tucker. His wife constantly hears noises in the middle of the night. And he, a detective and dutiful husband, must patrol their home, weapon in hand, so he can assure her there is no intruder—until one night when there is. He and the intruder exchange shots. The next thing he knows, he’s sitting at his desk. His body, on the other hand, lies crumpled in the hallway. His house is abuzz with fellow detectives working his murder scene, including his partner, a big guy called Bear.

Tuck finds death disappointing. No white light, no trumpets, no billowy clouds. It appears he must solve his own murder before he can make that final ascension. But he needs help. After struggling to harness his ghost power, both his black lab, Hercule, and his wife, Angel, can see and hear him. Angel agrees to help him find his killer. Among the many suspects is his partner Bear, who is acting strangely. Then there’s Poor Nicholas Bartalotta, aka Poor Nic, a mob boss; and Tuck’s nemeses, Detectives Clemons and Spence. When Angel becomes the killer’s next target, Tuck knows their time to find the killer is running out.

In this, TJ O’Connor’s debut novel, he gives readers an interesting premise and great characters. His one misstep is Angel, a sympathetic character until she begins to flirt openly with Bear only days after Tuck’s death. Overall, though, a great start to a new series.

The Arnifour Affair
Joseph Scarpato, Jr.

Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more takeoffs on the Sherlock Holmes canon, along comes Colin Pendragon and his faithful companion, Ethan Pruitt, solving cases in turn-of-the-century London. In addition to being a first-class private detective, Pendragon is surprisingly also a local wrestling champion and, by the way, he and Pruitt are lovers, although that’s only mentioned a few times in passing.

The case begins when Lady Arnifour, an elderly dowager, hires him to discover who brutally attacked and killed her husband and left her niece in a coma. She fears that the bumbling police will place the blame on her groundskeeper, Victor Heffernan or his son, Nathaniel, both of whom she has known for years and is convinced of their innocence. Her alcoholic son and her strident feminist daughter offer little help in the case.

Before long, a young street urchin pushes his way past Pendragon’s elderly housekeeper and pleads with the detectives to find his missing younger sister. Because Pruitt once lived on the streets, they take pity on the boy and take on the search.

As told through the eyes of Pruitt, this debut novel—and first in a series—makes the mean streets and opium dens of London come alive for the reader. The novel is well-paced as the investigations relentlessly follow the clues. The interplay between Pendragon and Pruitt is interesting and complex, but it lacks the comedic touch of Watson and Holmes.

Although there were a number of unusual twists and turns, I was able to correctly solve one of the cases, while the other was a major surprise.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more takeoffs on the Sherlock Holmes canon, along comes Colin Pendragon and his faithful companion, Ethan Pruitt, solving cases in turn-of-the-century London. In addition to being a first-class private detective, Pendragon is surprisingly also a local wrestling champion and, by the way, he and Pruitt are lovers, although that’s only mentioned a few times in passing.

The case begins when Lady Arnifour, an elderly dowager, hires him to discover who brutally attacked and killed her husband and left her niece in a coma. She fears that the bumbling police will place the blame on her groundskeeper, Victor Heffernan or his son, Nathaniel, both of whom she has known for years and is convinced of their innocence. Her alcoholic son and her strident feminist daughter offer little help in the case.

Before long, a young street urchin pushes his way past Pendragon’s elderly housekeeper and pleads with the detectives to find his missing younger sister. Because Pruitt once lived on the streets, they take pity on the boy and take on the search.

As told through the eyes of Pruitt, this debut novel—and first in a series—makes the mean streets and opium dens of London come alive for the reader. The novel is well-paced as the investigations relentlessly follow the clues. The interplay between Pendragon and Pruitt is interesting and complex, but it lacks the comedic touch of Watson and Holmes.

Although there were a number of unusual twists and turns, I was able to correctly solve one of the cases, while the other was a major surprise.

The Mangle Street Murders
Joseph Scarpato, Jr.

It’s time to welcome a peculiar, but very interesting new personal detective (“I am not a private detective!”) to the mystery genre. His name is Sidney Grice. He lives in London in the 1880s, and he’s a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Simon Legree—a first-rate detector of crimes but a mean-spirited, miserly human being. Add in a brave, clever young woman named March Middleton who becomes his ward, and you have an amusing Victorian-era crime-solving duo.

When a young woman is found brutally murdered with multiple stab wounds and much of the evidence points to her husband, her mother pleads with Grice to take on the case to prove her son-in-law’s innocence. He initially turns her down because she is unable to afford his rates, but takes on the case when his new ward comes up with the money. As other, similarly murdered victims are found, the case becomes a lot more complex.

As the sleuthing begins, sometimes in concert with Police Inspector Pound, it becomes obvious that Grice and March are constantly at loggerheads about the evidence they find. His methods are quite Holmesian, while hers are more those of an intelligent and observant woman with a nursing background. Although entirely different in temperament and in just about every other way, they form a grudging alliance that moves the case forward.

Adding a bit of humor to the mix is Grice’s dim-witted young housekeeper who thinks that he is complimenting her when he’s chastising her and vice versa. There are far more unexpected twists and turns to the story than I initially expected, and there is also a nice surprise at the end, aside from the investigation itself. This is an excellent first novel by a British author who has a bright future ahead of him.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

It’s time to welcome a peculiar, but very interesting new personal detective (“I am not a private detective!”) to the mystery genre. His name is Sidney Grice. He lives in London in the 1880s, and he’s a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Simon Legree—a first-rate detector of crimes but a mean-spirited, miserly human being. Add in a brave, clever young woman named March Middleton who becomes his ward, and you have an amusing Victorian-era crime-solving duo.

When a young woman is found brutally murdered with multiple stab wounds and much of the evidence points to her husband, her mother pleads with Grice to take on the case to prove her son-in-law’s innocence. He initially turns her down because she is unable to afford his rates, but takes on the case when his new ward comes up with the money. As other, similarly murdered victims are found, the case becomes a lot more complex.

As the sleuthing begins, sometimes in concert with Police Inspector Pound, it becomes obvious that Grice and March are constantly at loggerheads about the evidence they find. His methods are quite Holmesian, while hers are more those of an intelligent and observant woman with a nursing background. Although entirely different in temperament and in just about every other way, they form a grudging alliance that moves the case forward.

Adding a bit of humor to the mix is Grice’s dim-witted young housekeeper who thinks that he is complimenting her when he’s chastising her and vice versa. There are far more unexpected twists and turns to the story than I initially expected, and there is also a nice surprise at the end, aside from the investigation itself. This is an excellent first novel by a British author who has a bright future ahead of him.

Who Thinks Evil
R. T. Davis

Professor James Moriarty’s latest adventure, the fifth in a superb series, is certain to please fans of traditional British detective tales. When the fast-paced action begins, the infamous scoundrel sits in Newgate Prison for crimes he says he did not commit. At the same time, Queen Victoria’s grandson is implicated in a series of gruesome murders; moreover, the prince has mysteriously vanished, and the stability of the monarchy is being threatened by foreign agents. So, with Sherlock Holmes out of the country, the authorities turn for help to their second best option: Moriarty.

With a “reputation for being clever” rather than honest—indeed, according to Holmes, he is the “wickedest man unhung”—Moriarty is conditionally released from jail. The conditions are simple: If Moriarty solves the mystery of the murders, finds the missing prince, and rescues the monarchy from almost certain humiliation or worse, then the charges against him will be dropped. So, as Holmes would have said, “The game’s afoot!”

However, even though Moriarty has great expectations of solving the case, things look bleak in the face of the many twists and turns that await him. But wait, patient reader, for even if it looks like Moriarty cannot solve the case and at the same time clear his name, there is help on the way: Holmes returns to London. Of course, in short order all will be well once again in England. Who Thinks Evil is a first-class entertainment: tautly plotted, written with engaging style, populated by fascinating characters, and peppered with literary allusions.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

Professor James Moriarty’s latest adventure, the fifth in a superb series, is certain to please fans of traditional British detective tales. When the fast-paced action begins, the infamous scoundrel sits in Newgate Prison for crimes he says he did not commit. At the same time, Queen Victoria’s grandson is implicated in a series of gruesome murders; moreover, the prince has mysteriously vanished, and the stability of the monarchy is being threatened by foreign agents. So, with Sherlock Holmes out of the country, the authorities turn for help to their second best option: Moriarty.

With a “reputation for being clever” rather than honest—indeed, according to Holmes, he is the “wickedest man unhung”—Moriarty is conditionally released from jail. The conditions are simple: If Moriarty solves the mystery of the murders, finds the missing prince, and rescues the monarchy from almost certain humiliation or worse, then the charges against him will be dropped. So, as Holmes would have said, “The game’s afoot!”

However, even though Moriarty has great expectations of solving the case, things look bleak in the face of the many twists and turns that await him. But wait, patient reader, for even if it looks like Moriarty cannot solve the case and at the same time clear his name, there is help on the way: Holmes returns to London. Of course, in short order all will be well once again in England. Who Thinks Evil is a first-class entertainment: tautly plotted, written with engaging style, populated by fascinating characters, and peppered with literary allusions.

The Cairo Affair
Sheila M. Merritt

The Cairo Affair, by Olen Steinhauer, is a work of great intelligence that examines the labyrinthine world of espionage. Relationships aren’t quite what they seem, and an omniscient narrator observes duplicitous behavior, and makes comments that may inform, or possibly mislead, the reader.

Alternating between the 1991 breakup of Yugoslavia and the uprisings of Libya and Egypt in 2011, the novel establishes a connection of events and characters. Diplomat Emmett Kohl is shot to death while dining at a Budapest restaurant with his wife, Sophie, just after she’s confessed to infidelity. Sophie is left riddled with guilt, and determined to discover who’s behind her husband’s assassination. Returning to Cairo where she and Emmett resided during her dalliance, she reconnects with her ex-lover, a CIA agent based in the Egyptian capital. Sophie hopes he can give her clues that might explain the motive for Emmett’s murder. In the process, a proverbial Pandora’s box of espionage and deception is unlocked.

The vast cast of characters is a morally ambiguous bunch. Individuals engage in treachery; some have a real knack for it. Steinhauer deftly distills traits of covert conduct. It seems the harvesting of information makes for strange bedfellows. To divulge specifics would lead to spoilers, but suffice it to say, The Cairo Affair brilliantly probes the intricacies of disloyalty.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:02

The Cairo Affair, by Olen Steinhauer, is a work of great intelligence that examines the labyrinthine world of espionage. Relationships aren’t quite what they seem, and an omniscient narrator observes duplicitous behavior, and makes comments that may inform, or possibly mislead, the reader.

Alternating between the 1991 breakup of Yugoslavia and the uprisings of Libya and Egypt in 2011, the novel establishes a connection of events and characters. Diplomat Emmett Kohl is shot to death while dining at a Budapest restaurant with his wife, Sophie, just after she’s confessed to infidelity. Sophie is left riddled with guilt, and determined to discover who’s behind her husband’s assassination. Returning to Cairo where she and Emmett resided during her dalliance, she reconnects with her ex-lover, a CIA agent based in the Egyptian capital. Sophie hopes he can give her clues that might explain the motive for Emmett’s murder. In the process, a proverbial Pandora’s box of espionage and deception is unlocked.

The vast cast of characters is a morally ambiguous bunch. Individuals engage in treachery; some have a real knack for it. Steinhauer deftly distills traits of covert conduct. It seems the harvesting of information makes for strange bedfellows. To divulge specifics would lead to spoilers, but suffice it to say, The Cairo Affair brilliantly probes the intricacies of disloyalty.

She’s Leaving Home
Oline H. Cogdill

In the first of his trilogy of cultural thrillers, British pop cultural journalist William Shaw delves deeply into the fractious year of 1968, showing the changes that were transforming society. The author deftly takes the reader back to the years when sexism and racism were considered the norm, and the clash between the generations was just being recognized.

The use of a Beatles lyric takes on a different meaning in She’s Leaving Home when the body of a young woman is found near the Beatles EMI recording studio in London. The case falls to Detective Sergeant Cathal “Paddy” Breen, who is grieving over the recent death of his father. Paddy is the odd man out at his squad, accused of being a coward because he recently abandoned a fellow detective who was in a scuffle with a knife-wielding thief. As punishment, Paddy is paired with Temporary Detective Constable Helen Tozer, who may become the first woman detective if she passes probation.

Talkative and eager to please, Helen is the opposite of the quiet Paddy, and their adjustment to each other forms the heart of She’s Leaving Home. Like the other male detectives, Paddy resists the idea of a female detective, and their sexist remarks make the squad room oppressive for Helen.

Helen’s skills and insight, however, lead to important clues that would have been overlooked by Paddy and the rest of the squad, whose attitude to wrongdoers is summed up by one detective who says, “It’s not our job to understand their world.”

Shaw enhances She’s Leaving Home with the background of the ’60s, including the music, hippies, and the Biafran War, while never stooping to a history lesson. The author cleverly illustrates how insular the world was back in 1968, unlike today, where thanks to 24-hour cable news, we are constantly bombarded with news of problems from around the world. Shaw elegantly weaves in the troubles in Biafra, the clashes between generations, and the rising youth culture. It's a time when women had not yet become detectives and those who were on the force were not allowed to drive police vehicles. The odd couple of Paddy and Helen works well, illustrating how the old and the new can meld into a modern view.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 04:02

In the first of his trilogy of cultural thrillers, British pop cultural journalist William Shaw delves deeply into the fractious year of 1968, showing the changes that were transforming society. The author deftly takes the reader back to the years when sexism and racism were considered the norm, and the clash between the generations was just being recognized.

The use of a Beatles lyric takes on a different meaning in She’s Leaving Home when the body of a young woman is found near the Beatles EMI recording studio in London. The case falls to Detective Sergeant Cathal “Paddy” Breen, who is grieving over the recent death of his father. Paddy is the odd man out at his squad, accused of being a coward because he recently abandoned a fellow detective who was in a scuffle with a knife-wielding thief. As punishment, Paddy is paired with Temporary Detective Constable Helen Tozer, who may become the first woman detective if she passes probation.

Talkative and eager to please, Helen is the opposite of the quiet Paddy, and their adjustment to each other forms the heart of She’s Leaving Home. Like the other male detectives, Paddy resists the idea of a female detective, and their sexist remarks make the squad room oppressive for Helen.

Helen’s skills and insight, however, lead to important clues that would have been overlooked by Paddy and the rest of the squad, whose attitude to wrongdoers is summed up by one detective who says, “It’s not our job to understand their world.”

Shaw enhances She’s Leaving Home with the background of the ’60s, including the music, hippies, and the Biafran War, while never stooping to a history lesson. The author cleverly illustrates how insular the world was back in 1968, unlike today, where thanks to 24-hour cable news, we are constantly bombarded with news of problems from around the world. Shaw elegantly weaves in the troubles in Biafra, the clashes between generations, and the rising youth culture. It's a time when women had not yet become detectives and those who were on the force were not allowed to drive police vehicles. The odd couple of Paddy and Helen works well, illustrating how the old and the new can meld into a modern view.