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Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24, 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features began running on on Friday, July 24th.

Also mentioned in the Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

TRUST NO ONE by Gregg Hurwitz
LEFT TO DIE by Lisa Jackson
THE BEST OF TIMES by Penny Vincenzi

Reviews and Interviews
THE DEVIL’S QUEEN: A Novel of Catherine de Medici by Jeanne Kalogridis (Historical Fiction)
Confidante of Nostradamus, scheming mother-in-law to Mary, Queen of Scots, and architect of the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Catherine de Medici is one of the most maligned monarchs in history. In her latest historical fiction, Jeanne Kalogridis tells Catherine’s story --- that of a tender young girl, destined to be a pawn in Machiavellian games. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE DEVIL'S QUEEN.

THE DEFECTOR by Daniel Silva (Thriller)
Has the Russian defector Gregori Bulganov redefected, or is there foul play afoot, as Gabriel Allon believes? The Israeli agent comes out of near retirement to help find a man who once saved his life, putting his life and loved ones in peril. Is Grigori really worth risking the consequences? Reviewed by Kate Ayers.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE DEFECTOR.

TWENTIES GIRL by Sophie Kinsella (Fiction)
Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they? Written with all the irrepressible charm and humor that have made Sophie Kinsella’s books beloved by millions, TWENTIES GIRL is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family. Reviewed by Jamie Layton.
- Click here to read an excerpt from TWENTIES GIRL.

SACRED HEARTS by Sarah Dunant (Historical Fiction)
You might not expect a novel about a 16th-century convent in Ferrara, Italy, to be ravishing, passionate, or suspenseful. You’d be wrong. This book, from the author of THE BIRTH OF VENUS and IN THE COMPANY OF THE COURTESAN, finds heroines --- strong, gifted, often rebellious --- in the holiest of places. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SACRED HEARTS.
- Click here to read Sarah Dunant’s blog post, “Bringing the Past Alive.”

GET REAL: A Dortmunder Novel by Donald E. Westlake (Mystery)
GET REAL, by the late bestselling author Donald E. Westlake, is the final installment of the long-running comic crime series about burglar John Dortmunder and his associates. This time, the gang enters the world of reality television where things are not quite real. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

RED BLOODED MURDER: An Izzy McNeil Novel by Laura Caldwell (Mystery)
When Jane Augustine is murdered in a crime of passion by an obsessive lover in RED BLOODED MURDER, the police suspect Izzy McNeil, who is the beneficiary of Jane’s news anchor position and boyfriend. Avant garde women will connect with Izzy’s independence and revel in Chicago’s nightlife. Bed hopping can be intoxicating, but it can also get you killed. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.

EASY ON THE EYES by Jane Porter (Fiction)
Tiana Tomlinson, the thirty-something host of an entertainment news show, is feeling the pressure of her youth-obsessed industry when her boss gives her a not-so-subtle ultimatum: she must get plastic surgery or step aside for her younger protégé. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

STRANGERS by Anita Brookner (Fiction)
A stately new retiree, Paul Sturgis has settled into the solitude of his prominent London flat. Love has not been kind to him over the years, passing him by and consigning him to a forlorn life based on habit and disappointment. Paul has learned to depend on shallow conversations with strangers to sustain him, but hopeful encounters with two women help him find the insight and courage he needs to break free from habit and find his spirit. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

BELOW ZERO: A Joe Pickett Novel by C.J. Box (Thriller)
BELOW ZERO begins with an unassuming phone message: “Tell Sherry April called.” But Sherry --- Joe Pickett’s oldest daughter --- and the Pickett family are shaken to the core. April, Pickett’s foster daughter, was killed in a horrific murder and arson spree six years prior. To Joe, it doesn’t seem even remotely possible that April could have survived the massacre described in WINTERKILL. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

SHADOW OF BETRAYAL: A Jonathan Quinn Novel by Brett Battles (Thriller)
For Jonathan Quinn --- a freelance operative and professional “cleaner” --- the job was only to observe. If his cleanup skills were needed, it would mean things had gone horribly wrong. But an assassin hidden in a tree assured just that. And suddenly Quinn had four dead bodies to dispose of and one astounding clue --- to a mystery that is about to spin wildly out of control. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BAD THINGS HAPPEN by Harry Dolan (Mystery)
David Loogan just wanted to escape his troubles when he moved to Ann Arbor. But then he did a favor for a friend, and put himself in more danger than ever. Luck comes his way when he finds an ally in Detective Elizabeth Waishkey, without whom he’d be in jail --- or worse. Still, it’s a run for his life. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

DEAD MAN’S DUST by Matt Hilton (Thriller)
Joe Hunter solves problems. And as a former military operative and ex-CIA agent, he's good at what he does. But when he's told that his brother --- with whom he hasn't been on the best of terms --- has disappeared, he learns that everything he's faced before is child's play compared to what's coming. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

Jeanne Kalogridis
Jeanne Kalogridis's latest work of historical fiction, THE DEVIL'S QUEEN, centers on Catherine de Medici, queen consort of King Henry II of France. In this interview with's Melanie Smith, Kalogridis explains how she first became interested in this 16th-century monarch and elaborates on her attempt to shed light on the events that perhaps unfairly earned her a reputation as the ruthless schemer responsible for the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. She also discusses some of the fascinating cultural practices of the time she discovered through research, reveals what she found most intriguing about that period in history, and shares details about her next work in progress.

Author Talk
Daniel Silva
Israeli assassin and art restorer Gabriel Allon returns in Daniel Silva's 12th novel, THE DEFECTOR, once again in pursuit of Russian arms dealer Ivan Kharkov, who was introduced in 2008's MOSCOW RULES. In this interview, Silva dubs his latest work "a heart-stopping, edge-of-your-seat, and sometimes extremely violent love story" and explains why his main character's personal life plays such a prominent role in this installment of the series. He also discusses the 2006 death of former FSB Intelligence Agent Alexander Litvinenko, likens his book to a cautionary tale about Russia's position in the world's current and future political landscape, and muses on what readers find so captivating about his enigmatic protagonist.

Beach Bag of Books
Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Fifth Annual Beach Bag of Books feature and contests.

During select weeks from May 22nd through September 4th, a different title or collection of titles will be featured with a contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s) and summertime essentials. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

CHOSEN TO DIE by Lisa Jackson (Thriller)
The Star Crossed Killer is a brutal and intelligent hunter, a deft serial killer who has eluded the dogged investigation of Montana detective Regan Pescoli. The tables turn in shocking fashion, the madman enslaves her during a well-devised ambush, and Regan must stay alive long enough for those looking for her to unravel the mystery. Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard. Bets On...
HOW SHALL I TELL THE DOG?: And Other Final Musings by Miles Kington (July 7th)
HOW SHALL I TELL THE DOG?: And Other Final Musings, by Miles Kington, is snappy, witty and thought-provoking. Kington was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and in this memoir writes about the thoughts that come to him along the way as he muses his exit from this world. It's written as letters to his longtime agent, Gill Coleridge, who shared her thoughts on both Miles and his writing the book in a blog post for us here. It's not somber, but rather uplifting. Kington does not cling to false hope, but rather seems ready to exit the world thinking of life with humor, on his own terms. I have long held a theory of making every day matter as I lost a good friend when I was in my 30s who made me look long and hard at what matters in life. This book affirmed my commitment to that with a lot of nods and smiles.

As a side note, Kington had always wanted to write a bestseller, and he got his wish posthumously when this book hit the charts in the UK shortly after publication. Also, Kington never told his employer, The Independent, that he was ill, and in fact turned in a column on the day he died. It's truly inspirational.
- Click here to read a blog post from Gill Coleridge, Miles Kington’s literary agent and friend.

Suspense Thriller Author Spotlight
FEAR THE WORST by Linwood Barclay
Your daughter doesn’t come home from her summer job. You go there looking for her. No one’s seen here --- no one’s ever seen her. So where has she been going every day? And where is she now?

In Linwood Barclay’s riveting new thriller, an ordinary man’s desperate search for his daughter leads him into a dark world of corruption, exploitation and murder. Sometimes the people you think you know best are the ones harboring the biggest secrets.
- Click here to rean an excerpt from FEAR THE WORST.

DYING FOR MERCY by Mary Jane Clark
When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, cohost of the country's premier morning television show KEY to America, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends' newly renovated estate, Pentimento, Eliza's host is found dead --- a grotesque suicide that is the first act in a macabre and intricately conceived plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town's most revered citizens.
- Click here to read an excerpt from DYING FOR MERCY.

RULES OF VENGEANCE by Christopher Reich
Months after foiling an attack on a commercial jetliner, Doctors Without Borders physician Jonathan Ransom is working under an assumed name in a remote corner of Africa, while his newly revealed spy wife, Emma, desperate to escape the wrath of Division, the secret American intelligence agency she betrayed, has vanished into the netherworld of international espionage. Both look forward to sharing a stolen weekend in London --- until an ambush on a convoy of limousines turns their romantic rendezvous into a terrorist bloodbath.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from RULES OF VENGEANCE.

NO MERCY by John Gilstrap
Deep inside the dangerous world of rescue operations, one anonymous hero pays no ransom, takes no prisoners and breaks every rule. Meet Jonathan Grave. No names. No feds. No trace evidence. That’s how Jonathan Grave operates. As a freelance specialist in covert rescues, he has to work outside the law to get things done --- especially in highly sensitive hostage situations. But when an Indiana college student is abducted, and Jonathan’s meticulous plan explodes into a deadly shooting spree, the local authorities are out for blood --- and they’re not alone. Someone wants to control a devastating secret...someone rich and powerful...someone willing to capture, torture and kill anyone to get it. Even the people Jonathan loves most.
- Click here to read a second excerpt from NO MERCY.

Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight
THE LIKENESS by Tana French
Six months after the events of IN THE WOODS, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She’s transferred out of the Murder squad and started a relationship with Detective Sam O’Neill, but she’s too badly shaken to make any commitment either to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case: a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin.

The dead girl’s ID says her name is Lexie Madison --- the identity Cassie used, years ago, as an undercover detective. And she looks exactly like Cassie.
- Click here to read Reader Comments for THE LIKENESS.

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