Thursday, July 14, 2022

Don’t Bother Me I’m Reading from James W. Ziskin

What are the best books you’ve read lately? What’s on the stack that you’re looking forward to?

This is a great topic. It gives us all a chance to crow about someone else’s work. In no particular order, here are some books I’ve read recently. I only wish I could read more. But now I’m trying to write a new book myself, so I might have to scale back for a couple of months. I enjoyed all these books. If my comments pique your interest, you should give them a try.

The Corpse with the Granite Heart, Cathy Ace

Yet another gem from our own Cathy Ace. Featuring incomparable criminal psychologist, Cait Morgan, her eidetic memory, and her solid-as-a-rock husband, Bud Anderson, The Corpse with the Granite Heart recalls the best of Golden Age country house mysteries. Its sharp characterizations—one of Ace’s many strengths—as well as the clever, intricate plot, pave the way to a most satisfying conclusion. The artistic and gastronomical treats, the touristic jags, Shakespeare, and Cait’s brilliant powers of deduction all conspire to make this the best yet in this ever-so-smart series.

Serpent’s Doom,
Connie Di Marco

Intriguing and riveting, Connie di Marco’s latest Zodiac mystery, Serpent’s Doom, is a new year’s firecracker of an adventure. Told with heart and conscience, Serpent’s Doom features a superb cast and setting, with a plot right out of the headlines. The best yet in this highly original series.

The Girl They All Forgot, 
Martin Edwards

The Girl They All Forgot, Martin Edwards’s eighth Lake District Mystery, seethes with a foreboding of violence, even as it looks back at a long-buried cold case of murder. The Crooked Shore, accursed scene of the crime, looms ever-present with malicious intent. Magnificently creepy estate agents, stop-at-nothing gigolos, and lustful widows with bags of cash make this a tense and irresistibly gripping read. It will suck you in like the Crooked Shore’s murderous quicksand. No use struggling against it. You’ll lose. Brilliant.

Unpublished Title, Susan C. Shea

I read an early draft of our own Susan C. Shea’s work in progress. I loved it. A great tale of love and revenge. Not sure if she wants me to share the title or any more details. I’ll let her decide and post in the comments below if she wants to. At any rate, this is a book with a lot of potential. I hope she finishes her revisions soon and gets it out on submission.

A Blizzard of Polar Bears, 
Alice Henderson

A favorite author of mine, Alice Henderson writes heart-pounding, suspenseful eco-thrillers. A Blizzard of Polar Bears (after A Solitude of Wolverines) is the second in her highly original and popular Dr. Alex Carter series. Polar bears in the Arctic Circle, helicopters, and bad guys on snowmobiles. This book has it all.

Clark and Division, 
Naomi Hirahara

Clark and Division is a must read. A compelling recount of the lives of interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. This is an award-winning novel that taught me a lot that I didn’t know happened in our own country. A brave and beautiful book.

Aria for Murder, Erica Miner

Coming soon! No cover yet. A ruthless and clever killer haunts the Metropolitan Opera and the hidden recesses of Lincoln Center. Violinist Julia Kogen, a rising star in the pit, must unmask the murderer or become a victim herself. Erica Miner’s richly satisfying Aria for Murder delivers a compelling mystery, replete with devious characters, glorious music, and plenty of behind-the-scenes dirty laundry. A musical and dramatic triumph. Bis! Encore!

One Gun, Vinnie Hansen

Vinnie Hansen’s One Gun unspools a long, exquisite crescendo of foreboding and dread as clouds gather for a chilling, unexpected climax. Top-notch writing, sensitive touch, and heart-wrenching choices. Hansen is an author to watch.

Like a Sister, Kellye Garrett

Kellye Garrett’s Like a Sister drew me in immediately and held on tight for the duration. Garrett paints a complete, compelling, and riveting portrait of two estranged sisters, one of whom—Desiree, the glamorous famous one—has been found dead from a drug overdose on a Bronx playground. Regret dogs her half-sister, Lena, and drives her—relentlessly—to find out exactly what happened to Desiree. Readers will be swept along in Lena’s churning wake, unable to resist turning just one more page. Just one more page. This book is killer good. Garrett is a star in her field.

The Midnight Lock, 
Jeffery Deaver

Deaver is a master of plot and character. He leads the reader where he wants with his sleight of hand. Brilliant. I loved the detail on locks and keys in this book. It felt a little like Moby-Dick, if Moby-Dick had been about locks instead of 19th century whaling. A veritable encyclopedia. Another great addition the Lincoln Rhyme series.

The Ride-Along, 
Frank Zafiro and Colin Conway

The Ride-Along, by our dear Criminal Minds alum Frank Zafiro and my good pal Colin Conway, will challenge your assumptions, prejudices, and biases. With unflinching honesty and remarkable balance, this important novel tackles the issues of policing, politics, institutional racism, Black Lives Matter, and more, all over the course of a dramatic graveyard shift ride-along. A third-generation cop and a police-reform activist engage in a marathon point-counterpoint that seems hopeless from the start. There are no easy answers here. Yet Zafiro and Conway manage to tiptoe through the partisan minefield without taking sides or providing pat, facile solutions. The Ride-Along is a brilliant, measured achievement. An informative and provocative must-read in these contentious times.

Shadows of Men, 
Abir Mukherjee

The fifth installment in our own Abir Mukherjee’s brilliant series set in post-World War I colonial India is fabulous. Abir writes with great insight and sensitivity about the political and social landscape of Calcutta under the Raj. And the action will give your heart a workout. In Shadows of Men, Captain Sam and Sergeant Suren “Surrender-Not” are in Bombay, trying to prevent a breakout of religious strife. And Suren’s neck is on the line.

The Island, 
Adrian McKinty

Simply terrific and terrifying. I’ve been a fan of McKinty’s for years. His Troubles series is stellar. The Island provides non-stop thrills, danger, and suspense. Fantastic characters and lots of local color. This book is a hit. Don’t miss it.

And what am I looking forward to reading? More, I guess. Just more. Especially from my Criminal Minds team. Such great books.


Frank Zafiro said...

Thanks so much for the kind words once again, Jim.

Even if not another soul reads THE RIDE-ALONG, your reaction is validating. Hope to see you in Minneapolis!

Vinnie Hansen said...

Thank you so much for including me in this stellar list, James.

Susan C Shea said...

Wow, Jim! I'm thrilled you liked the draft enough to mention it. I just got a very positive and helpful editorial read from a developmental editor who encouraged me to deal with the problematic issues and get it to acquiring editors, so I'm working on it at this moment. She thinks the title is just right: LOVE AND OTHER CATASTROPHES. Thanks Jim for that early read - it meant everything.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks for the list, Jim. Some very familiar and worthy names too.