Before Steph Cha achieved
international fame with her multi-award-winning novel of contemporary social dissonance
in Los Angeles, Your House Will Pay (Ecco, 2019), she wrote
three books about Juniper Song, a perceptive young Korean private investigator
in Southern California. In the second book, Beware, Beware (Minotaur,
2014) Song is trying to put the harrowing events of her debut adventure behind
her. Song has also become formally apprenticed to a private investigative firm
and is working on accruing enough hours in the field to receive her own
One day Chaz
Lindley, her mentor and part-owner of the firm, who is one of my favorite
characters in the book, hands off what should be a simple assignment of finding
and following Jamie Landon who seems to have gone AWOL. His artist girlfriend Daphne
Freamon in New York is afraid his current job with a Hollywood star might
encourage him to re-engage with drugs and is willing to pay whatever it takes
to put her mind at ease.
suggests Daphne had good reason to be concerned. The all-night parties with
Hollywood insiders and periodic visits to an isolated house in the Valley
indicate Jamie might well be back in the drug world. Song breaks the news to Daphne
and continues to watch Jamie while she waits for Daphne to decide what to do
next. She’s nearby when Jamie awakens after a night of partying to find the
Hollywood star he works for violently dead. He calls Daphne in New York, who tells
him to call Song, making her one of the first people on the crime scene. She
calls the police, and the havoc that surrounds the unnatural death of a famous
Jamie is under
suspicion, and Daphne wants Song to try to uncover enough evidence to at least
create reasonable doubt. Song’s interviews and research reveal the back stories
of the players are more complex than she thought. Her shock is comprehensible
by anyone who’s taken people at face value, only to learn reality is far
different. The lies she’s been told and how she is supposed to proceed causes
her a good deal of lost sleep. All of this against a backdrop of modern Los
Angeles, which is captured in well-turned vignettes.
Song is an
intriguing spin on the contemporary private investigator, intelligent and alive
to nuances, perhaps a little too sensitive for the sometimes brutal profession
she’s fallen into. The supporting cast of characters is realistic, not a
cardboard outline among them. The noirish story line is almost tortuous in its convolution.
·Hardcover: 304 pages
·Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition (August
Up in KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of
5 more mysteries-"The Devil’s Bones": A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
by Carolyn Haines, "A Royal Affair": A Sparks & Bainbridge
Mystery by Allison Montclair, "Night Shift": A Helping Hands Mystery
by Annelise Ryan, "Witch Hunt" by Cate Conte, and "Witches and
Wedding Cake": A Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates
Also during the week we had another special
guest post, this one by mystery author Jennifer Graeser Dornbush about
cold cases and her new book "Hole in the Woods." You can also enter to
win a copy of the book
The Red Pyramid: The Graphic Novel adapted by
Orpheus Collar is based on the novel of the same title
by Rick Riordan. This adaption of the first book in The Kane Chronicles
is a great adaption of the underrated book series. While some claim that The
Kane Chronicles is the weakest of the various series written by Rick
Riordan, I very much enjoyed the books and disagree with a lot of the
series focuses on Egyptian Mythology and is set in the larger Percy Jackson
universe. Unlike the other series in this universe, here there are two main
leads instead of one. Carter and Sadie Kane are siblings who are forced to
adapt to a sudden new perspective of the world and the reality around them. Carter
is a nerdy boy who has spent most of his life having to be a mini adult while
Sadie is more rebellious, sarcastic, and outgoing. The kids are biracial and
their mixed heritage is rare in fantasy reads. At the beginning of the series,
they are not very close at all. That changes as time passes, as they are forced
to work together in order to survive because everything they thought they knew
book deals with a lot of deep and complicated themes such as loss, grief,
working with people you do not like, unique family situations, the legacy of
bad acts in the distant past coming to the forefront now, racism, and much
more. In order not to ruin the read, the simplest plot explanation is that the
siblings must face the secrets of their bloodline at the same time they must
deal with a God of Chaos named “Set.” Basically, he is the Egyptian version of “Loki”
from Norse Mythology and does some of the same sorts of things.
art is excellent, there is plenty of action, character development, and humor.
The graphic novel adaption keeps the main plot points of the original novel
while also depicting numerous scenes as well as battles from the original
novel. One can think of it as a sort of buddy cop adventure with magical
elements that is orientated to Egyptian Mythology. If you enjoy this read, the
next in the series is The Throne of Fire.
reading copy came by way of the Dunbar Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
For this final Friday in August, I am reminding
you of this issue of Crime Syndicate Magazine. After you read the review, make sure you head
over to Patti Abbott’s blog and
see what she recommends as well as Happiness Is A Warm Bookwhere
Aubrey Nye Hamilton has her own selection. Don’t let the news of the world make
you crazy and enjoy your weekend.
second issue of Crime Syndicate Magazineproves that
the first issue was not a fluke. Lightening does strike twice and it certainly
did in this case. “Intense” and “edgy” are often over used clichés when applied
to crime fiction, but they certainly apply here in several cases.
brief introduction by the boss, Michael Pool, Guest Editor Dietrich Kalteis
kicks things off with his story “Bottom of the Ninth.” The Yankees are playing
the Reds in the first game of the series. Gambler Nick Tuccirello has a lot
riding on the game. Not just the pennant, but his wife too.
go from 1939 to modern day Hawaii in “The Song Remains the Same” by Matt
Andrew. Leroy is a music expert and is absolutely sure that certain classic
rock songs should be played back to back. The DJ at KPOL “Oahu’s Best Rock
Station” is seriously violating the rules. Kimo would rather get to the job on
time than stop and talk music, but Leroy believes what songs go together are so
important that they have affected how things in his life have worked out.
in the Dog” by Mike O’ Reilly takes readers to the brutal world of dog
fighting. His favorite dog, Honey, is one heck of a fighter. She came to him by
the way of Jimmy buying her from a guy known as Bobby Le Mas. The narrator does
not like Bobby for multiple good reasons and is about to big time hate him. If
you love dogs, this is a very tough story to read.
young teen runaway is clearly out of place in the homeless shelter. Claudia,
the counselor, does her best to make her feel welcome as well as get some basic
information from her. Claudia is overworked and underpaid with few options at
the Martinson Shelter. At least no matter what her situation had been the rich
girl had far better options than Claudia ever did.
“Sugar” Cane is sitting on his back porch in Lacy Lakeview, Texas drinking beer
and cleaning his .38 while sweating from the heat. “Sugar” by Michael Bracken
explains where he got the gun, his history, and what he does as a collector for
Tejano De La Rosa. There is plenty of work in the area around Waco. There are
also some surprises along the way as he makes his rounds collecting money owed
to his employer Monies paid by people who should have known better than to get
involved in any way with Tejano De La Rosa.
typical night of drinking has turned into a bizarre and very dangerous game
among the four guys. The guy known as Rat had the original idea, but Yak has
taken things to a terrible new level this time in “Thunderstone” by Stephen
McQuiggan. Backing out now would make things worse.
are mysteries to tell about what went on that recent winter when the snows hit
Boston so hard. “Secrets in the Snow” by J. M. Taylor tells a couple of these
secrets including what happened to Billy Myers.
has been an incident as “Jackpot Blue Thistles” by Jinapher Hoffman begins and
there is a bit of a mess. Prissy, the maid, can handle the cleanup. She has the
easy job, all things considered, despite the spilled blood. Miss Honey has a
couple of other things to arrange including getting a replacement package from
Mr. Jal for her client.
Johnson opened his liquor store in 1982 a week after he had purchased a shotgun
with a pistol grip. He knows the neighborhood and still believes he will never
have to use it. In “Stickup” by Nick Kolakowski things change in many ways
including Alan’s plan to never use the weapon.
the nine stories, there is an interview with Guest Editor Dietrich Kalteis.
Michael Pool talks to him about his new novel Triggerfish as
well as writing crime fiction, upcoming projects, and various other things.
of Crime Syndicate Magazine is another very good read featuring complicated
tales and characters that do what needs to be done one way or another. While
there is not a laugh out loud like there was in the first issue, there are times when a nod and
sardonic smile might play across your lips. The tales are all good ones that
work on every level. Crime Syndicate Magazine: Issue 2 is
also very much worth your time.
Crime Syndicate Magazine: Issue 2
by Michael Pool and Dietrich Kalteis
was picked up to read and review back in early May by way of funds in my Amazon
cover story for Flash Bang Mysteries: Summer 2020 Issue 20 is “Prophetic
Words” by Bruce Harris. The Tenement Bar and Grill may be dated in many ways,
but Peter likes the place. It helps that they are the only bar that carries his
beer preference. It would be smart not to screw up a good thing. It is questionable
how smart Peter is this day.
Chen fell down the stairs and is very much dead in “Light and Shadow” by Daria
Davis. The question is what this will mean for his research assistant, Alicia
Croft, and Professors Anderson and Selwyn. The on campus and very public death
of the Department Head will have ripple effects.
up painfully hungover is bad enough. Waking up painfully hungover in a Prius is
Marie’s fate as “Looking For Ida’s Chevy” by Bud Sabelhaus begins. She hopes no
tattoos were involved this time.
Editor’s Choice story for this issue is “Dress Rehearsal” by Herschel Cozine. Everyone
knows you really should not take your job home with you. Brad does in this
one expects from this market run by B. J. Bourg and his son, Brad, the latest
issue is another good one. Four short tales that each pack a punch in their own
way. Flash Bang Mysteries Summer 20220 issue 20 is another fast
and fun read. Despite the fact it is a well paying market, the read is free and
can be found online here.
your ancestry is all the rage the last few years and a lot of folks are doing
it by way of various genetic testing sites. Many people are totally unaware
that once you send off your genetic material, the company that receives your genetic
materially can legally do pretty much do anything they want with it and nobody
is the wiser. It can be used, as law enforcement has done, to catch a serial
killer last active decades ago or for any purpose by anyone who buys it from
the originating company. While the FDA claims governing authority, they have
not set the rules so pretty much anything goes in this brave new world of genetics.
That is a major theme of the latest novel by Michael Connelly, Fair
has been a few years since we last saw Jack McEvoy. These days he works for a
consumer protection news reporting site, FairWarning. It is a small five-person
operation run by Editor and Founder Myron Levin. (Note: both the online
publication and Myron Levin exist in these roles and author Michael Connelly is
a member of the board of directors for the nonprofit.) these days, veteran reporter
Jack McEvoy is not working his usual police beat as he now writes stories on
consumer issues. As the book opens, he has just turned in a piece about scammers
at work in the field of debt collection and how they deliberately fake things
to get consumers to pay off nonexistent debt. (Also a real thing and something
that happened to this reviewer a few years ago).
arriving at his apartment at the end of his workday, Jack McEvoy is met by LAPD
Homicide Detectives Mattson and Sakai. They have questions for him along with a
bit of an attitude on Mattson’s part. Eventually, after a bit of back and
forth, he finds out that a woman who he knew as Tina and spent just a couple of
hours within an intimate way was found dead in recent days. Christina Portrero
was brutally murdered by way of, basically, twisting her head around ninety degrees
so that everything in the spinal area of the neck violently broke loose. Because
of the fact that McEvoy’s number is in her contacts list on her cell phone and
his books are on an night table in her place, the Detectives knew he knew her
in some way and claim they want to rule him out as a suspect.
detectives want a voluntary saliva sample for DNA analysis which tell McEvoy
that there has to be some form of DNA on her body. As he knows that he cannot
possibly be a match, he gives the detectives what they want and sends them on
their way. That is after they ask him to take his short off so they can visually
inspect him for scratches which tells him that they may have evidence from
under her nails. Either way, he is clean and not worried about being a suspect other
than he does not appreciate being part of their investigation or the fact they
both seemed to have increasing attitude as they wasted his and their time.
gets to work on solving her murder despite the fact that both the police and
his editor want him to leave the story alone. The police want him to stay out
of the way. His editor argues that this kind of thing isn’t his beat anymore,
not what FairWarning does, and that he needsto be working on real news stories for their
readers and not revisiting by way of this homicide his old glory days. That is
until, thanks to McEvoy’s digging and a little help from his old friends, it begins to become clear that Tina was the
latest of a string of murders with links to DNA analysis by a certain company
that provides ancestry information and other things.
crime read based in large part on fact, Fair Warning by Michael
Connelly is a fast paced and intense book. Not only is it a mighty good tale,
the read is a cautionary warning about the wild west of DNA research these days
as millions of people give up their biological material with very few
safeguards or second thoughts. Those issues are thoroughly explained and
scattered throughout the book as the author does not info dump. Instead, those
pieces of information are slowly added to the tale as background info while Mr.
Connelly kept ratcheting up the pace and the hunt for a killer. The result is a
really good book. Fair Warning is definitely well worth your
Look Back In Texas by Russ Hall
begins innocently enough with Al Quinn long since retired being asked by
Sheriff Clayton to do a little mentoring. He has the experience and despite the
grumbling, is ready to help out. He just was not ready to see on his way home
hours later, Fergie in deep conservation with a man who clearly is very special
to his core, it takes a while for Al to talk to her only to find out that the
clearly intimate conversation was not at all what it seemed. Colin Tansey has a
stepson named, Baron Fielding, and the thirty-two-year-old man is missing.
Colin, who has known Fergie for nearly forever, wants Fergie’s help as the
local cops have done nothing productive so far.
long, Al is on the mission with Fergie to find Baron and things escalate fast.
More than once, Al’s doing a favor for a friend has nearly gotten them both killed.
This time, Fergie’s willingness to do a favor for a friend might get them and a
lot of other innocent folks killed.
sixth book in the series, Never Look Back In Texas continues to
build on the foundation set long ago in To
Hell and Gone in Texas. As always, family by biology or extended by
way of friendship plays a role in the mystery tale as does plenty of action, bad
guys with big guns or small, and the Texas landscape, drought or not. Author
Russ Hall has created a fine mystery series where the young guys do not have
all the fun. As always, read in order, as the series is one that evolves over
time and there are references to earlier events. There is not a bad read in the
bunch and the latest installment, Never Look Back In Texas, is
another good one. Highly recommended.
Axelrod’s police procedural series set on Nantucket surfaced recently on a list
of Cape Cod mysteries. I’ve gobbled up Philip Craig’s books about J.W. Jackson
and Cynthia Rigg’s books about Victoria Trumbull, both cited on the list. Since
Axelrod’s series was mentioned more or less in the same breath as these two
favorites, I made a point to find a copy of the first book, Nantucket
Sawbuck (Poisoned Pen Press, 2014). Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist
all agreed this series debut was worth reading, a rare editorial concurrence.
was a wheeler-dealer, who earned a lot and spent a lot, especially on the mansion
he was building on Nantucket Island. He did not hesitate to delay or forego
altogether payments to the many tradesmen who made his renovations possible,
earning a reputation among the island residents as someone to avoid if possible.
Unfortunately with money tight, declining work from someone who should be and
might eventually be a paying customer was just not an option for most of the
folks trying to piece together enough jobs to exist. Lomax didn’t reserve his
opprobrious behavior just for his contractors, all of his children hated him
and his wife had cause to. When Lomax turns up dead, unquestionably murdered,
new Chief of Police Hank Kennis couldn’t decide which direction to look first.
characters, maybe a little too many to easily keep track of, with corresponding
multiple points of view and personal crises. Hank himself is an interesting
guy, a published poet who left California to come to the East Coast and who is
still finding his way in his new job and his new town. He definitely believes
in the people aspect of policing; at one point one of his deputies refers to
him as a “dinosaur” for failing to rely on computers for his collection and evaluation
The book is
divided into two parts, one setting the stage for the murder and the second for
the investigation. The first was absorbing if a little long, but the real
action starts in the investigation. Kennis is a careful, logical investigator,
who encounters a few surprises on his way to an arrest. Well written, fully
realized characters, satisfying resolution. Four more titles follow this one,
creating an opportunity for a good summer reading binge.
THE GOLDEN TRESSES OF THE DEAD by Alan Bradley,
reviewed by Linda Wilson
When a finger is found in her sister’s wedding
cake, young sleuth Flavia de Luce is determined to identify its erstwhile
BLACKTOP WASTELAND by SA Cosby, reviewed by
Beauregard ‘Bug’ Montage tries to extricate
himself from money problems by driving for a jewellery heist, but the outcome
threatens to destroy his life.
LAUNCH CODE by Michael Ridpath, reviewed by John
An order for a nuclear first strike in the
paranoia of the 1980s Cold War threatens world apocalypse. Thirty-five years
later, as a writer threatens to reveal what really happened, the family of a
key player in the drama is threatened by unknown forces trying to keep the
COLD FEAR by Mads Peder Nordbo, reviewed by Ewa
Danish journalist Matthew Cave is in Nuuk,
Greenland’s capital. Faced with the disappearance of his half-sister Arnaq and
a murder inquiry that might have involved his father Tom, he finds himself in a
strange search for the killers across the vast frozen land.
CRY BABY by Mark Billingham, reviewed by Linda
A seven-year-old boy has gone missing while
playing with a friend in a wood next to a park, with his mother nearby. A
police officer is determined not to have another child’s death on his
ALL IN HER HEAD by Nikki Smith, reviewed by Kati
Jack is back, and Alison is terrified – for her
safety, her sanity and her life. But she cannot remember why.
THE WOMAN DOWNSTAIRS by Elisabeth Carpenter,
reviewed by Viv Beeby
When the bailiffs are called in to a ground
floor flat, they make a gruesome discovery. And the residents of Nelson Heights
discover that they know very little about their neighbours.
THE NIGHT LAWYER by Alex Churchill, reviewed by
Barrister Sophie Angel defends a young man
accused of rape while facing some issues in her own life both current and past.
DEATH IN FANCY DRESS by Anthony Gilbert,
reviewed by John Cleal
The dissolute Sir Ralph Feltham is murdered at a
fancy-dress ball at his former home Feltham Abbey. Lawyer Tony Keith and his
adventurer schoolfriend Jeremy Freyne, there to look into possible links to a
blackmail ring, investigate.
SEVEN LIES by Elizabeth Kay, reviewed by Kati
Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since childhood.
And Jane will make sure that never changes, whatever it takes.
SEVEN YEARS OF DARKNESS by You-jeong Jeong,
reviewed by Chris Roberts
After tragic events at a remote Korean
reservoir, a young man is persecuted wherever he goes. After seven years he
receives a package which reveals the truth about the past.
MAGPIE LANE by Lucy Atkins, reviewed by Linda
When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford
academic goes missing, there are a limited pool of suspects, with the spotlight
falling first on her parents and their live-in nanny.
FINDERS, KEEPERS by Sabine Durrant, reviewed by
Verity Ann Baxter tells the story of her
developing relationship with new neighbours Ailsa, Tom and family. It is a
love-hate relationship, as Verity and Ailsa become more and more involved in
each other’s lives. But who is guilty of Tom’s murder?
DISTURBANCE by Marianne Kavanagh, reviewed by
Sara lives in a beautiful isolated house with an
irrational abusive husband and two sons, one off to university and one
autistic. Serious events cause dramatic changes to her life, but dog walker
Katie is always there to protect her.
NO BAD DEED by Heather Chavez, reviewed by Linda
No good deed goes unpunished, as Cassie Larkin
finds out when she stops to help a woman being attacked by the side of the
THE HONJIN MURDERS by Seishi Yokomizo, reviewed
by Chris Roberts
A newly-wed couple are found dead inside a house
locked from the inside, with the weapon, a bloody samurai sword, stuck in the
snow outside. Renowned detective Kosuke Kindaichi is on the case.
COME BACK FOR ME by Heidi Perks, reviewed by
Questions compel Stella to return to the island
when she sees the TV report that someone has found a body at the bottom of her
KRAYS: THE FINAL WORD by James Morton, reviewed
by John Cleal
Madness, assault, robbery, arson, murder,
protection rackets, murder – a new look at the rise and fall of the East End of
London’s most notorious gangsters.
MANHUNTERS by Steve Murphy and Javier F Pena,
reviewed by Chris Roberts
The true story of two agents of the US Drug
Enforcement Agency, in the words of the subtitle, telling ‘How we took down
CRIMINAL BRITAIN by Mirrorpix, reviewed by John
A look at some of Britain’s darkest criminal
cases in a picture anthology from the files of the Daily Mirror.
Been awhile since I mentioned this, but I am still an Amazon Associate. So, every time you click through one of my links and buy somethi...
Supporting The Blog
In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of medical supplies for me. Some of it goes to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.