Tuesday, 24 January 2023

City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

City Under One Roof
by Iris Yamashita
Berkley, January 2023, $27

When body parts (primarily booted feet) start washing ashore along the Alaskan coastline, the authorities take notice, but decide that said parts must have come from the bodies of suicides or accident victims. But when a foot and a hand appear near the edge the odd little tourist trap Point Mettier (population 205), it is intriguing enough to visiting Anchorage Police Detective Cara Kennedy to investigate on her own.

Shortly after introducing herself to local law enforcement, she pursues her investigation—partly for personal reasons,which are revealed in due time—with laser focus. Her search only intensifies when she becomes trapped in Point Mettier by the weather, with only a sketchy idea of when she’ll be able to leave. Her major problem now is that every piece of information she gleans about the secretive denizens of this little Alaskan town only serves to muddy the already murky waters surrounding the case.

Already an accomplished screenwriter, Iris Yamashita puts her own spin on various thriller/mystery tropes in her excellent debut, among them the locked-room mystery (here, an isolated city, literally locked down by a storm), the the quirky Alaskan town (shades of Insomnia, Northern Exposure, and 30 Days of Night) where secrets abound (a la Our Town and Twin Peaks), and the small-town police officer with her back against the wall (anyone else remember that seventies TV movie gem Isn’t It Shocking?).

Clever and claustrophobic, dark and atmospheric, the well-crafted, expertly executed City Under One Roof is crime fiction at its best. It's a perfect winter read, guaranteed to hold your attention rapt through several long, cold nights.

Hank Wagner Hank Wagner's frequent contributions to Mystery Scene include profiles of Peter Abrahams, David Morrell, and Dana Stabenow, as well as regular book reviews and a paperback thriller column. Hank lives in northwestern New Jersey with his wife and four daughters. His work has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Crime Spree, Hellnotes, and Jazz Improv, and he is a coauthor of The Complete Stephen King Universe (2006) and Prince of Stories: A Guide to the Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman (2008). His latest effort, co-edited with David Morrell is Thrillers: 100 Must Reads (2010), an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity award finalist.

Review: "City Under One Roof"
Hank Wagner
Monday, 23 January 2023

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Notes on an Exection
by Danya Kukafka
William Morrow Paperbacks, January 2023, $17.99

The serial killer story has been told a hundred different ways, but never in quite the way as Danya Kukafka’s second novel Notes on an Execution. Kukafka crafts a story from four different perspectives: the killer, the mother, the cop, and the sister. Through these voices, Kukafka questions society’s obsession with Bundy, Dahmer, and Gacy in an elegant literary suspense that reads like a true crime podcast you can’t shut off.

Ansel Packer is psychopathic serial killer awaiting execution, but instead of focusing on the sensationalism of his crimes and women he kills, Kukafka examines with empathy the women whose lives are entangled with Packer’s path of destruction: his mother Lavender, his sister-in-law Hazel, and Saffy, the dogged detective who brings him down.

For those with an interest in the true crime genre, the novel will pull you in and leave you questioning how we read and learn about serial killers. With a combination of edge-of-your-seat suspense and a keen insight into readers’ fascination with murderers, Notes on an Execution promises to leave you thinking long after reading.

Mystery Scene Issue #170A hardcover review of this novel first appeared in Mystery Scene Issue #170, Winter

Review: "Notes on an Execution"
Nathan Nance
Thursday, 19 January 2023

Beginning in 2016, all Left Coast Crime (LLC) Awards have been called “Lefty” Awards. Traditionally, the “Lefty”—first awarded in 1996—was given for the best humorous mystery. Award winners in the categories of Best Humorous Mystery Novel, Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial, first given in 2004), Best Mystery Novel, and Best Debut Mystery Novel will be announced at the awards ceremony at 2023 Left Coast Crime Convention #33 in Tucson, Arizona.

Congratulations to this year's very funny and talented winners and nominees.
Updated March 20, 2023, with winners marked in RED.


° Kellye Garrett, Like a Sister (Mulholland Books)  
° Laurie R. King, Back to the Garden (Bantam Books)   
° James L’Etoile, Dead Drop (Level Best Books)   
° Gigi Pandian, Under Lock & Skeleton Key (Minotaur Books)   
° Louise Penny, A World of Curiosities (Minotaur Books)   
° Alex Segura, Secret Identity (Flatiron Books)


° Ellen Byron, Bayou Book Thief (Berkley Prime Crime)  
° Jennifer J. Chow, Death by Bubble Tea (Berkley Prime Crime)   
° A.J. Devlin, Five Moves of Doom (NeWest Press)   
° T.G. Herren, A Streetcar Named Murder (Crooked Lane Books)   
° Catriona McPherson, Scot in a Trap (Severn House)

BEST HISTORICAL MYSTERY NOVEL (The Bill Gottfried Memorial for books set before 1970)

° Dianne Freeman, A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder (Kensington Books)   
° Catriona McPherson, In Place of Fear (Mobius)   
° Wanda M. Morris, Anywhere You Run (William Morrow)   
° Karen Odden, Under a Veiled Moon (Crooked Lane Books)   
° Ann Parker, The Secret in the Wall (Poisoned Pen Press)   
° Iona Whishaw, Framed in Fire (Touchwood Editions)


° Erin E. Adams, Jackal (Bantam Books)   
° Eli Cranor, Don’t Know Tough (Soho Crime)   
° Ramona Emerson, Shutter (Soho Crime)   
° Meredith Hambrock, Other People’s Secrets (Crooked Lane Books)   
° Harini Nagendra, The Bangalore Detectives Club (Pegasus Crime)   
° Rob Osler, Devil’s Chew Toy (Crooked Lane Books)   
° Jane Pek, The Verifiers (Vintage Books)

Left Coast Crime 2023 Lefty Awards
Mystery Scene