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MURDER BY THE BOOK

Perhaps the single best collection yet in this blue-chip series.

Sixteen reprints from 1933 to 1973 showing golden age–inspired puzzle masters doing what they do best: bringing together readers, books, and felonies.

Even more than in other entries in the British Library Crime Classics, the hallmarks here are urbane literacy and unfettered conceptual invention. There’s a pleasing variety in the ways books make it into the stories. G.D.H. and M. Cole, Nicholas Blake, Gladys Mitchell, and Marjorie Bremner present writers who become victims of homicide; the writers in the stories by Philip MacDonald, Michael Innes, Victor Canning, and Edmund Crispin take on a more active role. Thirty-seven books go missing in S.C. Roberts’ superior Sherlock-ian pastiche; a smaller number of books provide pivotal clues in the stories by E.C. Bentley, A.A. Milne, Roy Vickers, and Ngaio Marsh. John Creasey leaves London for a tale of family trauma set in India; Julian Symons shows detective Francis Quarles picking up on a dying message whose import will be shudderingly obvious to every red-blooded American reader; and Christianna Brand’s “Dear Mr. Editor…” turns an editor’s routine request to one Christianna Brand for a contribution to a new collection into a fiendishly twisty tale of plot and counterplot. Although the stories naturally vary in quality, they all pull their weight; editor Edwards, avoiding obvious contributions like G.K. Chesterton’s “The Blast of the Book,” mixes well-known and more obscure authors and resurrects at least several unjustly forgotten titles along the way; and the best of them, by Roberts, Vickers, Innes, and especially Brand, are cause enough for joy even among bibliophobes.

Perhaps the single best collection yet in this blue-chip series.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72826-115-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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CITY IN RUINS

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

The dramatic conclusion to the trilogy about two New England crime families begun in City on Fire (2022) and City of Dreams (2023).

Near the end of his journey, multimillionaire Danny Ryan watches a casino implode in a mushroom cloud of dust and muses about his life’s implosions: “The cancer that killed his wife, the depression that destroyed his love, the moral rot that took his soul.” Danny is from Providence, Rhode Island, and desperately tried to leave his criminal life behind him. But using a ton of ill-gotten gains, he invests heavily in Las Vegas properties. Congress is conducting an investigation into gambling that could destroy his casino business and even land him in jail. An FBI agent plans to take Danny down for major sins he’d like to repent for. Meanwhile, can he make peace with his enemies? Nope, doesn’t look like it. Even if the parties involved want to put the past behind them, the trouble is that they don’t trust each other. Is Vern Winegard setting Dan up? Is Dan setting Vern up? “Trust? Trust is children waiting for Santa Claus.” So what could have been a “Kumbaya,” nobody-wants-to-read-this story turns into a grisly bloodletting filled with language that would set Sister Mary Margaret’s wimple on fire—figuratively speaking, as she’s not in the book. But the Catholic reference is appropriate: Two of the many colorful characters of ill repute are known as the Altar Boys, serving “Last Communion” to their victims. On the law-abiding side and out of the line of fire is an ex-nun-turned-prosecutor nicknamed Attila the Nun, who’s determined to bring justice for a gory matricide. (Rhode Island really had such a person, by the way.) Finally, the prose is just fun: A friend warns Dan about Allie Licata: “In a world of sick fucks, even the sick fucks think Licata’s a sick fuck.” A couple of things to note: This not only ends the trilogy, but it also closes out the author’s career, as he has said he’ll write no more novels.

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780063079472

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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THREE-INCH TEETH

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

A bear is hunting prey in Wyoming’s Bighorns. And not just any bear.

It’s bad enough that Clay Hutmacher, who manages the Double Diamond Ranch, has lost his son, Clay Jr., to a vicious attack by a grizzly bear. What’s much worse is that Clay Jr.—who’d been about to pop the question to game warden Joe Pickett’s daughter, Sheridan—is only the first of the victims over an exceptionally broad geographical area. Marshal Marvin Bertignolli is clawed and bitten to death over in Hanna. Sgt. Ryan Winner is found bleeding out north of Rawlins. Former Twelve Sleep County prosecutor Dulcie Schalk, one of two survivors of an ambush, doesn’t survive her final encounter. The four experts chosen to kill the grizzly rope Joe into their expedition, but since their quarry keeps turning up far from the last sighting, the most meaningful confrontation the Predator Attack Team has is with a pair of Mama Bears, animal rights activists who demand due process for Tisiphone, as they’ve dubbed the presumed killer. Box, who’s far too canny to leave Tisiphone alone on center stage, follows Joe’s old antagonist Dallas Cates as the ex–rodeo star is released from prison and embarks on his revenge tour, which takes him to Lee Ogburn-Russell, an inventor whose life Dallas saved, and Axel Soledad, a correspondent who shares so many enemies with Dallas that he suggests they go after them together. Franchise fans will appreciate new details about Joe’s complicated family, the obligatory high-country landscapes, and yet another corrupt law enforcer.

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593331347

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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