Kwei Quartey: Sleep Well, My Lady

This is the follow up to Quartey’s series debut, The Missing American, which, while excellent, was at times almost needlessly complicated.  The star of the book in every way was Emma Djan, who lives in Ghana and has left the police force to work for a private investigation firm.  She’s a fully realized, complex, nuanced and charming character, and as a reader you are with her at every plot turn.

This book felt much stronger to me, the plot was more streamlined (though still entertainingly tricky), and while Quartey always infused his stories with some real heartbreak he is also a wonderful pure mystery writer.  The clues are fair and well laid. read more

James R. Benn: The Red Horse

This book will be published September 1.

James R. Benn continues to explore all the nooks and crannies of the mystery genre, keeping things fresh even in book 15 of this long lived and now beloved series.  Main series character Billy Boyle started as a beat cop in Boston, learning the “job” from his father and uncles, who get him a (supposedly) soft wartime post with “Uncle Ike”.  As any reader of this series knows, Billy becomes an investigator, finding the smaller crimes within the larger confines of WWII.  Sometimes the war is front and center but Benn is always a meticulously detailed pure mystery writer, making his books a real pleasure to read. read more

Camilla Trinchieri: Murder in Chianti

This novel will be published July 7, 2020.

This languorous, gently beautiful novel set in gorgeous Tuscany could not be more delectable.  Retired NYPD detective Nico Doyle has relocated to Tuscany after the death of his wife, Rita, a native Italian.  He has family ties in the form of his wife’s sister, Tilde, and her family.  Out for his morning run as the book opens, he discovers two things: a dog, and a dead body.  He more or less adopts the dog – whom he christens One Wag – and hastily attempts to hand the murder off to the local police. read more

Cara Black: Three Hours in Paris

This book will be available on April 7, 2020.

This ticking clock thriller feels like the book Cara Black has long wanted to write, it’s so explosive, so taut, and so impossible to stop reading.  The propulsive narrative follows Kate Rees, a young American sent to assassinate Hitler when he visits Paris for three hours in 1940.  The set up introduces Kate as she’s waiting with her sniper rifle for Hitler’s appearance; then it goes back in time, very briefly, to establish Kate as a person.  She’d been living in Scotland with her Welsh husband and their baby daughter when she loses them both to a German bomb, making her determined to fight the Germans with every bit of herself. read more

A Conversation with James R. Benn

James R. Benn

James R. Benn, the creator of the Billy Boyle series, agreed to answer a few questions about his wonderful WWII set novels.  His newest book, When Hell Struck Twelve, will be published in September.

Robin: How did you come up with the initial idea to have Billy be Eisenhower’s nephew?

Jim: I wanted to create a mechanism that would allow Billy Boyle to follow the course of the war in Europe (and beyond) and to be close to major events. Having him work out of Eisenhower’s headquarters gives him carte blanche to go anywhere I need him to go. The notion of his being Ike’s nephew provides the opportunity to humanize Eisenhower through their occasional interactions; it was also the mechanism to explain Billy’s ascendancy to the lofty realms of high command, since Uncle Ike wanted a trusted family member to run his investigations into low crimes in high places. The relationship also explains how a lowly lieutenant, later captain, can act with relative impunity within the chain of command. read more

Stephen Mack Jones: Lives Laid Away

This book came out around the time we closed the store and I didn’t read it at the time, being deep into comfort re-reading of Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth.  However I thought the first book, August Snow, was wonderful and a great and much needed injection of diversity and vitality to the private eye genre.  This second book is even better, more intense and focused.  I recently interviewed Stephen who mentioned Robert B. Parker as an influence, and I can sure see it in this tight, funny, fast moving story. read more