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We're Ken Hebenstreit and Sharlan Douglas, blogging here about the books we love: Mysteries, suspense, crime fiction. If you want to comment on one of our postings, click on its headline.

Archive for April, 2009

Kay Scarpetta movie on the horizon

The NY Times reports on 4/24/09 that Angelina Jolie will play Kay Scarpetta on film.  The movie will not be based on a single Patricia Cornwell book; it will combine elements from several.

2009 Michigan Notable Books

by Sharlan Douglas

The Library of Michigan has chosen the 20 books from 2008 that best reflect the Michigan experience.  They’re mostly nonfiction, although we do find The English Major by favorite son Jim Harrison’s.

For a steady diet of information about Michigan authors and Michigan-theme books, visit mittenlit.com, by longtime friend Bill Castanier

Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath

by Sharlan Douglas

Sue Grafton really painted herself into a corner with the Kinsey Milhone books: 26 and she’s done. J.A. Konrath has no such problem. His six books featuring Chicago cop Jacqueline (Jack) Daniels are named for cocktails and my Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender’s Guide lists more than 1,700 possibilities.

I read the first, Whiskey Sour, and I liked the wise-cracking heroine, who shoots pool and perps and also has a tendency to shoot herself in the foot. In the latest, Bloody Mary, I’ve grown a little tired of Jack’s bungling. Whenever Konrath needs to create some action, he just has her do something stupid. How’d she get to be such a hot shot in the CPD? When he needs cheap comic relief he trots out Jack’s oafish ex-partner. And I was hard-pressed to believe that the serial killer in Bloody Mary had gotten away with so much for so long.

Authors’ references to each other

by Sharlan Douglas

I’m reading J.A. Konrath’s Bloody Mary (review to come).  One of the characters mentions in passing that he has a fake passport in the name of Barry Eisler.  I’m always amused when authors refer to each other like this.  My favorite is the character in a Michael Connelly or Robert Crais book (can’t remember which) who wears a T shirt from “Robicheaux’s bait house and boat dock.”  On a related note:  A character in an Elmore Leonard novel is named Randy Agley.  That’s the name of a a noted Michigan business owner and I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence: Leonard probably donated the naming rights to a local charity auction.

Do you have examples of favorite “insider” character names?

Stephen Frey – From Finance to Fiction

Shar found an interesting article in the New York Times Jobs page last Sunday.  It is about how author Stephen Frey went from being an investment banker to being a best-selling thriller writer.  Here is the link to the article.

We have first editions for Frey’s first three books in inventory.  Click here to see them.

The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey

by Ken Hebenstreit

I try to keep up with new authors, but there are so many and I’m not a fast reader. Here is one that I am glad that I tried. The Blade Itself is Sakey’s first book (he now has two more published) and is a terrific debut. Danny has made a new life for himself in the seven years since his life as a petty criminal ended, but that event has come back to haunt him and extract retribution. Uncontrollable circumstances and consequences follow reminiscent of Elmore Leonard and Dennis Lehane. Highly recommended! Has anyone else read this or his other books?

Two books by John Burdett

by Ken Hebenstreit

Burdett’s Bangkok series has drawn my eye at the library for several months and I finally checked out the first of the series (Bangkok 8) to read over the holidays. I quickly finished that and immediately went back for the next, Bangkok Tattoo. Royal Thai Police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep from District 8 is an enticing protagonist. Both books have unusual plots lines and are highly atmospheric, with big dollops of humor, Buddhism, the Thai sex trade and commentary on western culture and, perhaps some insight into Asian culture. Give these a try!

Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais

By Ken Hebenstreit

After a three-year break, which featured a stand-alone novel (The Two Minute Rule) and a Joe Pike novel (The Watchman), Elvis Cole is back. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it, perhaps more so than my wife. Some of the humor seemed a little forced. Is Crais taking things a little more seriously than he did in his early novels? Having said that, I think it was a good story, well paced and strewn with interesting characters. I recommend this one and, if you haven’t read any of the Elvis Cole novels before, suggest you go back and start at the beginning. Any Crais fans out there? What did you think?

Review of the Indigo series, by Louise Cooper

by Clint Hebenstreit

I just finished reading the “Indigo” series by Louise Cooper, a series of eight books starting with Nemesis, published in 88′, and ending with Aisling, published in 93′.  They tell the story of Princess Anghara who, in violating a millennia old taboo, releases seven demons upon the world.  Her family slaughtered, her fiancé’ captured, she is tasked by the Earth Mother to seek the demons out and destroy them.  This series keeps you guessing from the beginning to the end.  I found it to be exciting, inventive, romantic, and hearth warming.  Each book was unique and didn’t subject the reader to formulaic high fantasy with cookie cutter plot lines. In fact my only true complaint about the series is the main character’s occasional bouts of self-loathing. In the same vein as Thomas Covenant these times can seem to drag the story down a bit and make it difficult to get through. However, the good far outweighs the bad and though it has its flaws I still highly recommend the series as a whole. I t varies from book to book but I rate the series a 4 out of 5.