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Archive for the ‘Crime Fiction’ Category

CJ Verburg’s Another Number for the Road  has all you could ever want from a murder mystery set in two iconic periods of American history: the 1960s: Free Speech, Free Love, Stop the War, Civil Rights and sex, drugs, rock and roll; and 1980s: Reaganomics, Cold War Collapse, Punk Rock, big hair and bigger shoulders.

Rock journo cum detective, Cory Goodwin (who has as many names as identities) goes on a “Magical Mystery Tour,” and then some, to recover her true inner self which has been consumed and subsumed by the demands of her multimillionaire son-of-the-founder-of-a-cosmetics-conglomerate husband’s boardroom betrayal of all they meant to each other as writing romantics who eloped in creative Paris and crashed in corporate necessity in Boston.

Cordelia Goodwin Thorne had many years of protest activism and rock star groupie antics to keep her from sinking into the paradox of her journo daydreams and her cosmetic charity dinner reality.

She joins the “Magical Mystery Tour” when she learns that The Rind is the mystery band—a group she interviewed for a magazine as a teenager. She aims to rekindle her past admiration for the much-maligned strongman of the band, the appropriately named, Dan Quasi, who, after the brutal murder of his friend and co-band member, Mickey Ascher, takes a runner and hides out for the twenty year hiatus, having lost his wife and his French bit to aforementioned co-band member.

Did this Quasi musician kill his best friend? Or was it the French bit? Or possibly her jilted lover and third band member, also appropriately named, Roach? Or has the mild-mannered Terry, fourth band member, been hiding a violent temper all these years?

The process of discovery is further energized by the author’s experience as a playwright and director. CJ Verburg makes use of the theatrical technique of juxtaposing two scenes on stage at once: flashbacks, backstory, supposition and real time, one upon the other, while skillfully  juggling a cast of characters that would daunt Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffiths.

Another Number for the Road  will satisfy all fans of complex, convoluted whodunits who remember the Sixties with longing and survived the Eighties, Nineties and are in deep with the Twentieth Century.

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I posted this review about Linton Robinson’s book, Sweet Spot, several years ago, but with all the political upheaval recently, this particular book keeps coming to mind. I loved it then and love it still.

Mazatlan Confidential Sweet Spot, Linton Robinson

Linton Robinson’s  novel of corrupt politicians, Mazatlan Carnival and baseball has all the credentials for a block-busting read: gritty, graphic and gripping. This is a fortuitous find among the many thousands of titles that are published every year and well-worth the effort. Fans of Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler and Tennessee Williams will discover resonances with Robinson’s main character, Raymundo Carrasco – retired, short-haul, major league star turned investigative journalist and local government flunky.

The depth of this novel is astonishing and the skill with which Robinson interweaves his dramatic motifs is a lesson in craft for any writer. Robinson’s command of his metaphors is masterful. The background information needed to create the depth of this story is fed through Carrasco’s columns and his insights about his native city and fellow citizens. If you thought you knew something about Mexico, this book will set you straight.

Carrasco has returned to his native Mazatlan after a few seasons over the border where he held his batting average steady – good enough for the Majors. Despite his success, he hasn’t found that “sweet spot” in his life. Although it seems a foolish choice, with the murders and mayhem of all the vultures surrounding him, he seeks that moment working for the mayor’s office press team. Just when his life can’t get worse, it does, spiraling into gruesome hilarity and poetic decadence.

Despite the relentless brutality, this novel is a glorious celebration of humanity in all its joyful exuberance and soul-destroying routine.

Sweet Spot is a novel I can recommend. It is thoughtful, intense and violent. It is also hilarious and beautiful in its compassion for all we poor/pure souls seeking that moment of absolute perfection.

While I read this, word for unrelenting word, I realized that the United States’ most intimate foreign relationship is mutually dependent and as destructive as Mundo’s love affair with Mijares.

 

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DEATH VISITS A BAWDY HOUSE by Adele Fasick

A Charlotte Edgerton Mystery, set in the 1840s in New York City

When Charlotte Edgerton, moves from staid Boston to bustling New York City in 1843, she finds the crowds on Broadway thrilling. She is young, idealistic, and in love. But when first one and then another of the glamorous “sporting girls” who work in the city’s famous brothels are murdered, Charlotte becomes aware of the darkness that lurks behind the bright glow of  Manhattan. In a city where abolitionists are not popular and suspicion of free blacks runs high, the arrest of a black man for the crimes enflames much of the city. Charlotte  discovers that police can be prejudiced, politicians are not always honest, and kindness can lead to danger. Will she be able to find safety for herself and end the terror gripping women throughout the city ?

Death Visits a Bawdy House is available on Amazon and is the 2nd in the Charlotte Edgerton Mystery series.

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Boneyard 11
Boneyard 11 by Linton Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lin Robinson delivers a hard-hitting, intense and topically explosive story, full of characters who challenge our preconceptions about the criminal worlds of prostitution, drug trafficking, gang warfare, hired assassins and more!

The adventure into the southern California and Baja underworld is a trip most of us would avoid at all costs in the real world. Robinson presents this way of life in all its variations with his usual wry wit and intense observation of all things human.

As far-fetched as some of the events seem, they ring true through this author’s skill in capturing the essence of truth in the fundamental nature of the characters. Despite their dubious occupations, their underlying humanity and basic human emotional needs wins our compassion and understanding. Some get exactly what they deserve and that is not always what the law might require.

Readers of Robinson’s Sweet Spot, will most likely enjoy this book. Although Boneyard 11 has fewer of the laugh-out-loud moments of his Mazatlan Festival novel, the banter and wit is delightful.

View all my reviews

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sandracareycodyMy guest this weekend is Sandra Carey Cody, mystery writer and Missourian. She is the author of the Jennie Connor mysteries, published by Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group. These include Love and Not Destory,  Left at print-versionOz, Put Out the Light, Consider the Lilly and By Whose Hand.

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I  first ‘met’ Sandra when my debut novel was acquired by Avalon Books and I joined the group blog of many of their authors at Avalon Authors. Sandra is my guest this weekend to present her latest novel, Lethal Journal.

What About the Victim?

Writers love characters. We love creating them. We love forcing them to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds before they get to their happily ever after or, in some cases, get what’s coming to them.

Lethal Journal - ebookIf you write mysteries, as I do, the one character you really need to understand is the victim. Why? In a sense, everything in the book flows from some facet of this person’s personality or their history. Murder is a drastic act, way outside the experience of most of us. So it has to be believable that someone would cross into the ultimate forbidden territory and take a human life. What is it about the victim that would make someone want to kill him or her? More often than not, the reader never sees the victim alive. Their introduction to him/her is when s/he is found dead. So, how can a writer bring the victim to life for the reader? How does a writer make the reader care who killed him/her and want to see the killer get what’s coming to him/her?

Different mysteries use different techniques. In my latest book, Lethal Journal, I gave Jake Appleton, my victim, a journal. Jake’s a loner. No one knows what’s going on in Jake’s head. Ah, but he keeps a journal. When Jake is murdered and the journal can’t be found, we know where he kept his secrets and that’s where we begin our search for the truth about Jake.

Link to Lethal Journal on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1j7cXnW

http://www.sandracareycody.com

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311_Lethal_Journal_-_gold_letteringSandra Carey Cody, mystery writer, has agreed to be my guest this month. Her latest book, Lethal Journal, is a Jennie Connors mystery. Keep an eye out for Sandra here.

Sandra is one of my fellow bloggers at Classic and Cozy and has her own blog at Birth of a Novel here at wordpress. We’ve never met but we were both contributors to the Avalon Authors blog before Avalon Books was purchased by Amazon.

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Twice A Target
Twice A Target by Susan Vaughan

I started reading Twice a Target without realizing that I’d started at the end of this trilogy. That actually worked for me but I will go back to the beginning to read Never Surrender and Once Burned. I was attracted by the suspense premise of this novel as well as the location. The relationship between Holt, the former DEA agent, and Maddy, the so-called flighty former fiancée of Holt’s brother, is fraught with conflicts.

Vaughan’s descriptions of setting and action are masterful and the story has all the elements requisite for suspense and romance. The cast of characters adds depth and surprises. I think readers who love LEO* romances will enjoy this story.

Note: I don’t give stars or rate novels written by authors I have met or with whom I have a professional or personal acquaintance.

*LEO: law enforcement officer

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