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Crime Fiction

  • After all these years

    After all these Years by Susan Isaacs.  Isaacs is the ultimate beach book author. Her books are funny and engaging - usually murder mysteries. This is one of the best.  "The day after her lavish wedding anniversary bash, Rosie Meyers gets a big surprise: her nouveau riche husband, Richie, is leaving her for a sultry, sophisticated, size-six MBA.  So, when he's found murdered in their exquisitely appointed kitchen, no one is surprised to find Rosie's prints all over the weapon."  "The suburban English teacher is the prime suspect -- the police's only suspect. And she knows she'll spend the rest of her life in the prison library unless she can unmask the real killer. Going into Manhattan on the lam, Rosie learns more about Richie than she ever wanted to know. And more about herself than she ever dreamed possible."

  • Cage of Stars

    Cage of Stars: By Jacquelyn Mitchard. Mitchard also wroteThe Deep End of the Ocean. Like “Deep End,” it’s a great read (I finished it in two days). It’s flawed and the dialogue is not credible, but it’s compelling and eminently readable. (Beach book defined, right?) It’s about a Mormon girl whose sisters are murdered, and her journey following the crime.

  • Career of Evil

    Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike Book 3) by Robert Galbraith. "Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott.  When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible--and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them..."

  • Charm School

    The Charm School by Nelson Demille. Okay, I cheated and added this NOT NEW book after the list was published. Until this Russian spy story emerged, this book might have seemed a little dated. But hey! Cold War intrigue is BACK, baby, and suddenly this novel is not only timely, but seems weirdly prescient. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this great old (v beachy) book, I highly recommend it. I remember when I got to the end of this book, I absolutely HAD to be somewhere, but I absolutely COULD NOT put it down. DeMille's best, I think. Maybe now that fear of Russian spies is once again in vogue, they'll finally make a movie of it.

  • Child 44

    Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. "Gripping beach read. My husband and I listened to it on CD on a car trip, but didn't finish it on that voyage. I had to go buy a 'real' copy. From Amazon: "If all that Tom Rob Smith had done was to re-create Stalinist Russia, with all its double-speak hypocrisy, he would have written a worthwhile novel. He did so much more than that in Child 44, a frightening, chilling, almost unbelievable horror story about the very worst that Stalin's henchmen could manage."

  • Day I Died

    The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day.  "A propulsive psychological thriller about Anna Winger, a handwriting analyst who occasionally does work for the FBI.  Her ordinary professional detachment falters when she is is brought in to help analyze a ransom note left at a murder scene in her town. This particular case cuts very close, forcing single mother Anna to confont ghosts from her own past, and threatening the life she's tried to build with her 13-year-old son."

  • Death in Holy Orders

    Death in Holy Orders by PD James. "a beach read for fans of Adam Dalgliesh."

  • Double

    The Double by George Pelecanos. “Of all the writers who've ever attempted to capture all that is Washington, DC, Pelecanos does the best job. You can really tell that he lives here, and he loves the city. In this book, private eye Spero Lucas is hired to return a stolen painting. It's a nuanced and shaded book with twists and turns that never seem convoluted or contrived. If you haven't read Pelecanos, start now. He's a master.”

  • Gaudy Night

    Gaudy Night (and other “Lord Peter Wimsey” mysteries) by Dorothy Sayers. I’m getting into it, heeding all the Amazon reviewers’ warnings that it starts slow but gets great. But I hope to like it, as there are others in this series. Briefly, the protagonist returns to her alma mater, the fictional women’s “Shrewsbury College” at Oxford – to get to the bottom of some crimes being committed there. Written in 1936, it offers, in addition to a psychological thriller, an interesting view of a women’s college in the interwar period.

  • Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson "I devoured them. Inhaled them. They are page-turners for sure, but with a social conscience. Mind you, a few of the scenes are very troubling and difficult to read. But there is nothing gratuitous about them. The characters are some of the best I’ve read in a long time, I think of them often." and "Hands down MUST read is the girl with the dragon tattoo trilogy. Just finished all and now will spend the rest of the summer with end of book blues. I dare you to find something better...amazing character development. Makes you want to go get some piercings and kick some a**." The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. “The first in the trilogy, this Sweden-set thriller warms up after the first third with great characters and a fascinating plot. Warning: a subplot is violence against women and some of the descriptions are quite graphic.” “It took a few chapters to get into the story, but then I was hooked! A total page turner.” “scary, but a page turner. Don't read if you're home alone!” The Girl Who Played with Fire. "The second book in the trilogy - more exciting and polished than the first. Larsson, who died shortly before publication, was a master." "Double wow! I liked this one even better than the first." "It's as intense as the first book with a cliff-hanger ending." The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. "I haven’t read it yet, but only because I’m saving it for a trip to BVI later this month. Hear it’s fantastic!"

  • Gods of Guilt

    The Gods of Guilt (Lincoln Lawyer series) by Michael Connelly. “The latest installment in the Lincoln Lawyer series, this book finds our antihero Mickey Haller defending a pimp accused of killing one of his girls. I love the ambiguity Connelly has created for Haller - he's a good guy and also a real d-bag. At the same time! Which is very real, and makes for compelling reading

  • Room

    Room by Emma Donohue. Novel. “A riveting story, told entirely from the perspective of a five-year-old, which you would think would get tiresome but somehow doesn’t. It becomes clear quite early in the novel that the whole of the young narrator’s life has been spent in one room, though due to the absolutely heroic efforts of his mother to protect him, he doesn’t know what he is missing. Through the child’s eyes, the circumstances that led to their living in ‘The Room’ unfold, and events ensue.” … “Overall, do not be put off by the subject matter - the strength of the first half of this book makes it worth reading." Several of you commented on the relative weakness of the second half of the book, but all agreed it's a page-turner.

  • Sacred Games

    Sacred Games by Vikram Seth. "One of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time. Completely got lost in it. Fell in love with one of the characters – it won’t take you 5 pages before you figure out who – and became mesmerized by the relationship btw India and Pakistan that the book traces. Maxing out around 900 pages, it is a commitment – not a beach fling – but you won’t regret it." From Wiki:  Sacred Games combines the ambition of a 19th-century social novel with a cops-and-Bhais detective thriller. (Bhai is a Hindi slang term for gangster.)

  • Talking to the Dead

    Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham. "This suspenseful novel is the first in a series by Bingham featuring Welsh detective Fiona Griffiths, Cambridge-educated and idiosyncratic (to say the least). Fiona frequently obliges the reader (if not her bosses) by going rogue. The whole series is good, but start with the first."  Editor's note: As of this writing, the kindle version of this book is FREE.  if, like me, you are perversely put off by free books (or by the cheesy cover) don't be.  It's an excellent series.

  • Trespasser

    The Trespasser by Tana French.   “Tana French is the best of both worlds - consistently good writing and consistently good stories.  That said, I was a little disappointed in The Secret Place, which came out immediately prior to The Trespasser.  I'm happy to report she is back in form."  "If you haven’t read any of the other novels in French's Dublin Detective series, you are missing out. This is the sixth. It isn’t necessary to read them in order, however. She’s a fantastic writer."  [Ed:  If you're just starting out with Tana French, I recommend reading Faithful Place first].

  • Vertigo 42

    Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes. “Martha Grimes is a true master of the British mystery, even though she's a resident of Bethesda, MD. In this book - her 21st Richard Jury novel - Jury investigates a suspicious death that occurred 17 years prior. It's edgy, melancholic, evocative and engaging.”