Booklist Reviewers Turn a Phrase
"The plot itself may be a bit of a stretch, but this is mind-bendingly
original, from the characters, to the dialogue, to the sensory-overloaded
world that feels eerily like the one we're about to live in."
From the Editor
Let Mystery Month Begin!
Yes, the murderous month of May is upon us once again, the time when we celebrate the publication of Booklist's annual Mystery Showcase issue with a little celebration we like to call Mystery Month. We kicked things off yesterday with a webinar, "Thrilling Mysteries: Can't Miss Crime Fiction for Spring," and, as of this morning, our May 1 print issue is now live on Booklist Online.
Crime-fiction fans, get ready for a feast. We're sharing some highlights in this issue of REaD ALERT, and magazine subscribers who have set up an online profile will enjoy free and unfettered access to nearly 150 reviews and a dozen awesome features, including "The Year's Best Crime Novels," "A Hard-Boiled Gazetteer to the Best Mystery Settings in the World," an interview with Lawrence Block, and much, much more.
On Booklist Online, we'll be complementing all this seriously good stuff with irreverent and entertaining lists every day of the month. To give you a taste, today's list is "Hard-Boiled Eggheads: 16 Novels by Literary Authors Who Really Want to Play Detective." We'll also be publishing extra mystery reviews online and rounding them up in issues of Booklist Online Exclusives mailing May 9 and May 30. And we'll share the best of the best on May 31 in a special "Best of Mystery Month" issue of REaD ALERT.
Our blogs will be chock-full of crime-fiction posts, too, and we'll be sharing gems from our mystery vault on Twitter and Facebook. Speaking of Twitter, we'll be tweeting each and every one of our 38 starred reviews before the end of the month. If you want to make sure you don't miss a thing, follow me at @Booklist_Keir, and Booklist at @ALA_Booklist, and keep an eye on the hashtag #mysterymonth. I hope you'll spread the word—and join the conversation.
By Marisha Pessl
When the daughter of a notorious film director is found dead in New York, an apparent suicide, investigative reporter Scott McGrath throws himself back into a story that almost ended his career.
The Year's Best Crime Novels: 2013
By Bill Ott
We seem to have made history in this seventeenth edition of "The Year's Best Crime Novels." There is not one repeater from last year's top 10 and only three who have ever appeared on this list (Louise Penny, Dennis Lehane, and Robert Crais). We're left then with seven first-timers.
The Last Whisper in the Dark
By Tom Piccirilli
Few authors can write heroes as haunted, or prose as filled with the poetry of noir, as Piccirilli. Following The Last Kind Words (2012), Terry Rand, reluctant thief in a family of thieves, struggles to resist being pulled into what he calls "the underneath," but the baggage of the past weighs heavily.
Hard-Boiled Gazetteer to the Best Mystery Settings in the World
By Bill Ott
This is the seventeenth installment of our Hard-Boiled Gazetteer. Since 1997, we have traversed the globe, hitting every continent except Antarctica and the Arctic. So where do we go from here? Sounds like it's time for a Greatest Hits album!
Catch and Release
By Lawrence Block
Among a roomful of awards, Block was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994. He's written more than 50 novels, and among his series characters are Matt Scudder, a recovering-alcoholic private eye; Bernie Rhodenbarr, a gentleman thief; and Keller, a thoughtful hit man. The 16 stories collected here are augmented by a short stage play.
Hit Man: Lawrence Block's Third Act
By Frank Sennett
When you've published more than 100 novels spanning five major series characters over the course of 55 years, you're entitled to think long and hard about hanging it up. If retirement's good enough for Philip Roth, why not you?
The Geneva Option
By Adam LeBor
This thriller's prologue is a small masterpiece in showing how the seemingly banal—a worker taking a cigarette break on a balcony—can be upended into terror. The rest of the book fulfills the prologue's promise, in ways completely credible and, thus, even scarier.
The Back Page: Brigadoon with Murder
By Bill Ott
What do we remember about a mystery after we've finished it? People and places usually come first, with plot finishing a distant third. When Dashiell Hammett took the mystery novel out of drawing rooms and into the streets, he brought a new realism to the genre. But, equally important, he brought a heightened sense of place.
By Reed Farrel Coleman
Coleman's latest—a prequel to the award-winning Moe Prager series—is a slam-dunk recommendation for readers drawn to smart, gritty crime fiction with label-defying characters.
At Leisure with Joyce Saricks: Crime for Armchair Travelers
By Joyce Saricks
Like you, I look forward to Booklist's Mystery Showcase every May. Not only do I devour the reviews—and reserve far more titles than I'll ever have time to read—but I also eagerly anticipate discovering Bill Ott's chosen location for his Hard-Boiled Gazetteer.
By Charlie Huston
This tour de force features two of the most interesting characters we've seen in years. Skinner, a savant-like killer who struggles to interpret emotions and to speak with normal affect, spent his formative years as part of a bizarre experiment—an origin story that unfolds piece by broken piece, each one with fascinating complications.
The Manley Arts: Do You Know a Good Mystery?
By Will Manley
The 12 most dreaded words in the English language today: "We are ready for takeoff. Please turn off your portable electronic devices."
Also Known As
By Robin Benway
Maggie, 16, is the daughter of spies and a spy herself, and she is particularly genius at cracking safes. What she has never been is an average teenager. So when her assignment from the Collective—the first she is doing on her own—involves attending private school in Soho, she is all about it.
Top 10 Crime Fiction for Youth
By Ilene Cooper
Mystery comes in many forms in this top 10: wartime spies, treasure hunting, kidnapping, robbery. There's a wide range of choices for a wide range of mystery lovers here.
By Pheobe Stone
This absorbing follow-up to The Romeo and Juliet Code (2011) picks up with the Bathburns in Bottlebay, Maine, one year later and with WWII in full swing. Flissy hasn't heard a word from her parents, who are spies missing in Europe, but keeps herself occupied with her love interest, Derek, the boy the Bathburns unofficially adopted.
Core Collection: Nancy Drew Redux
By Ilene Cooper
Nancy Drew may be the godmother of all young girl detectives—with a tip of the hat to Trixie Belden—but there are some new sleuths in town. Featured below are recent titles (some are part of a series, others are stand-alones) showing girls of all ages and from different times and places solving mysteries with the best of them.
The Watcher in the Shadows
By Chris Moriarty
The second book in the Inquisitor's Apprentice series picks up where the first left off. And where's that? New York City—mostly the Lower East Side—at the turn of the last century. Ah, but this New York is overflowing with magic.
Unpacking a Standard: With Mysteries
By Julie Green
Mysteries are adventure and challenge wrapped up together. The best mysteries for youth draw young readers in right away with exhilarating intrigue. They present a problem fairly quickly in the text, and then give readers a chance to solve it all on their own as they follow the clues dangled tantalizingly throughout the story.
The Secret Keeper
By Kate Morton and read by Caroline Lee
Secrets and passion drive Australian author Morton's latest, which flashes between the present, as matriarch Dorothy Nicholson lies on her deathbed, and 1941 and 1961. Dorothy, Jimmy, and Vivien met in wartime London, and the consequences of their friendship ripple through generations.
Top 10 Crime Fiction Audiobooks
By Karen Harris
Crime fiction has gone global in this year's list, featuring titles that appeared in Booklist from May 1, 2012, through April 1, 2013, and are set in locales spanning from North America to the UK and Europe. But wherever the setting and whatever the circumstances, the forces of law are ever present.
Cover of Snow
By Jenny Milchman and read by Cassandra Campbell
Nora Hamilton wakes one wintry morning to find that her husband, Brendan, a cop in a small upstate New York town, has hung himself. Nora, who thought her marriage was happy and her husband loved both his wife and his job, is devastated.
Listen-Alikes: Secrets to Hide
By Candace Smith
All suspense and mystery stories have plot twists and turns, and good audiobook narrators know their job is to keep the levels of intensity and suspense high. And in these titles, narrators have the added task of not revealing long-buried secrets too early.
More High-Demand Mysteries
By Chevy Stevens
Stevens hit it big, both critically and commercially, with Still Missing (2010); Never Knowing (2011) sold well, too, but failed to live up to the promise of its predecessor. Her latest is also disappointing, lacking both the emotional punch and gripping action of Still Missing.
By Carl Hiaasen
Booklist reviews of recent Hiaasen novels (Nature Girl, 2006) have noted his step back from apocalyptic plots. That trend continues with a shambolic comic tale of garden-variety Florida crime: a wealthy Medicare fraudster appears to have died in a boating accident.
Close My Eyes
By Sophie McKenzie
Geniver Loxley has never recovered from the stillborn birth of her daughter eight years prior. Her husband, Art, is anxious to have another child and to move on with their lives, but Geniver is still grieving.
By Dean Koontz
The seventh Odd Thomas novel takes place a mere 19 months after the events of the first book, which shows just how tightly knit this story is—more of a serial, really, than a series. An unplanned encounter with a hateful trucker leads Thomas to put his own life on the line to save the lives of the three children who will otherwise die at the hands of the man.
By Stephen King
As with King's first release with Hard Case Crime (The Colorado Kid, 2005), this is an uncharacteristically svelte offering that feels born of a weekend whim but is nevertheless possessed with an undeniable offhand charm.
Let Me Go
By Chelsea Cain
It figures that nonpareil serial killer Gretchen Lowell, on the loose since Kill You Twice (2012), would pick Halloween for a return trip to Portland, Oregon. After all, with all those revelers adorned in Beauty Killer masks, blond wigs, and red lipstick, no one will be able to tell the real Gretchen from the imitations.
Light of the World
By James Lee Burke
Hats off to the Library of Congress cataloger who applied the subject heading "Good and Evil" to Burke's latest Dave Robicheaux novel. In that simple tag lies the core of this acclaimed series.
By Jo Nesbø
Nesbø's Harry Hole novels have not appeared in the U.S. in the order in which they were written, and given the stunning events detailed in Phantom (2012), that disjointed chronology may prove disconcerting for readers of The Redeemer. Still, it is a fine crime novel.
Books for Youth
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die
By April Henry
If you liked Girl, Stolen (2010), you'll love Henry's latest tale of abduction, escape, and paranoia. Cady, 16, wakes up on the floor of a cabin. Two of her fingernails have been yanked out. A man says, "Take her out back and finish her off." Worst of all, she has total amnesia.
The Reluctant Assassin
By Eoin Colfer
Magic and murder kick off this new series about former illusionist Albert Garrick and Riley, his 14-year-old apprentice. Add in Chevie Savano, a 17-year-old FBI agent with a chip on her shoulder and a fierce determination to prove herself, and the stage is set for a fast-paced thrill ride.