Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

Three things. First Ben H. Winters’ new novel Underground Airlines certainly works as a thriller.  Fans of his earlier series The Last Policeman will not be disappointed, though there may be a certain sense of de ja vu. While Underground Airlines is set in an alternative America, one where slavery never completely ended, the main character an escaped slave forced by a government agency to hunt down other escaped … Continue reading Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

Occupied City by David Peace

On January 26, 1948, someone posing as a health officer entered the Teikoku Bank in a Tokyo suburb and simultaneously poisoned 16 people, 12 of whom died.  After an extensive police investigation, Hirasawa Sadamichi, a tempera painter, was arrested and convicted of the murders.   His guilt was immediately called into question.  While he was never executed for the murders, he did eventually die in … Continue reading Occupied City by David Peace

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey was a good time. Think Star Wars with just the Han Solo parts. None of that boring political shenanigans, just space ships and adventure.  Cross that idea with a heavy dose of Bladerunner and you have Leviathan Wakes.  Leviathan Wakes is the basis for the SyFy channel’s series The Expanse which I’m also a fan of. The Expanse includes quite a bit of political shenanigans but not … Continue reading Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Memory: A Novel by Philippe Grimbert

A young boy, an only child, believes he has an older brother.  He carries on imagined discussions with his brother, building him into a real person.  One day he finds an old plush toy, a dog, in his family’s attic. A man meets the love of his life on his wedding day. He manages to keep this secret from his wife, even though the woman … Continue reading Memory: A Novel by Philippe Grimbert

Two Award Winners I Didn’t Finish

Two days after I gave up on Paul Beatty’s satirical novel The Sellout, it won the Mann-Booker Prize, the first American novel to do so. My general rule of thumb is that the books on the long list that don’t win the Man Booker Prize are generally much better reads than the winner is. I have not read the rest of the long list, so I can’t … Continue reading Two Award Winners I Didn’t Finish

Season of the Witch by David Talbot

What struck me, most about David Talbot’s history of  San Francisco was just how violent the times were. Season of the Witch concentrates on the years between the Summer of Love, 1968, and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s.  The 1970’s are largely remembered today for disco and very, shall we say, creative fashions but this was a period of violent upheaval in America, certainly … Continue reading Season of the Witch by David Talbot

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

I admit it. I have a thing for Netflix’s Walt Longmire. The strong, silent type–wounded by a tragic past–handsome in a casually masculine way suiting his late middle age.  He’s a sexier John Wayne without the political baggage. I cancelled Netflix after season three thinking that was all the episodes we were going to get only to find out last week that season four has … Continue reading The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

Topology of a Phantom City by Alain Robbe-Grillet

I love this book. I’m not sure what it’s about. But I do  have five theories. Theory #1:  A murder has taken place.  The narrator describes the crime scene like a detective who does not know which bit of evidence will prove relevant.  So the detective/narrator writes everything down without filtering his senses or his thoughts.  The result appears random the way notes often do. … Continue reading Topology of a Phantom City by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

This is a tough story. The title character and narrator tells us right-off-the-bat that she will disappear in a week.  She lets us know that this is the story of the week before she vanished forever.  This grabbed my attention immediately; then she hinted that there would be a crime before she goes. This kept me reading long into the novel. Reading pages and pages … Continue reading Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

One of the many reasons for reading literature in translation is the window it can provide onto experiences other than our own, sometimes experiences we never knew existed.  The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez provides a window on life among German nationals living in Columbia during the second world war.  Because of diplomatic pressure from the United States, the government of Columbia published a list … Continue reading The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

A Short Story Omnibus: Raymond Chandler and Samantha Henderson

The detective arrives in a small seaside California town looking for a missing girl.  Her mother is very concerned.  Concerned enough to hire him.  He is soon over his head; caught in a crime syndicate that includes the beat cops, the local police chief, a psychiatric hospital, an offshore gambling boat, and a pair of bank robbers. Chandler country in other words. I kept thinking of … Continue reading A Short Story Omnibus: Raymond Chandler and Samantha Henderson

Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

The fourth word in Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo is “corpse.” There will be no beating around the bush in this mystery novel.  A victim, a detective and a suspect.  What more do you need?  No quirky characters.  No digressions about dog show politics or the history of Irish pub goers.  Just a crime and a detective trying to solve it.  If you … Continue reading Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo