The Poor Clare by Elizabeth Gaskell

If you’re wondering whether or not Elizabeth Gaskell had the chops to pull of a truly Gothic novel, and I know you are, I am pleased to say, yes, she did. Ms. Gaskell dabbled in the Gothic for publication in Charles Dickens’ Household Words in 1856.  She was a regular contributor to Household Words where her masterpiece Cranford first appeared. I must admit, I had my doubts with The … Continue reading The Poor Clare by Elizabeth Gaskell

Suspicion by Friedrich Durrenmatt translated by Joel Agee

Suspicion is the second of two novels featured in The Inspector Barlach Mysteries by Friedrich Durrenmatt published by The University of Chicago Press.  Getting your hands on a copy probably won’t be easy, but it will be worth the effort.  Both feature cynical, ailing Inspector Barlach, diagnosed with a terminal illness in The Judge and His Hangman, with just a few months left to live … Continue reading Suspicion by Friedrich Durrenmatt translated by Joel Agee

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

In 1348, a group of people, strangers, come together in an attempt to out run the plague as it spreads across England.  Nine strangers in all, each with a secret, something they can only reveal at the risk of losing their lives. The narrator is a seller of phony religious relics.   He is joined by two Italian musicians, a master and his apprentice  on their way to … Continue reading Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

Incantation by Alice Hoffman

What do you do when the whole world turns against you? Estrella de Madrigal has a good life. The beautiful daughter of a successful businessman, she is well on her way to a good marriage when trouble comes to her home town of Encaleflora, Spain. The year is 1500, a new age has dawned. But when an ancient hatred rears it’s head, Estrella finds her … Continue reading Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett

Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett is the rare book that can break your heart while scaring you to death. Neil Bartlett’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast takes place in 1960’s London during the waning days of the fur trade. At one time there was a real Skin Lane, an area of London where all of the nations furriers operated, making a wide range of … Continue reading Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Somewhere along the way Herman Koch lost me. Things started well.  A narrator who may or may not have killed the husband of the woman he is having an affair with.  This character, a doctor with a very dark view of the human race, cannot be fully trusted right from the start.  Does the man he kills deserve it?  Is there anyone we can really … Continue reading Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

People read novels for different reasons. One reason is escape. Thrillers have been helping their readers escape since the early days of the novel. Matthew “The Monk” Lewis, Wilke Collins, Charles Dickens, all knew how to keep their readers coming back for more by giving them thrills–keep them in suspense and they’ll keep turning pages. While a thriller can become a work of literature, most … Continue reading Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Countdown City: The Last Policeman II by Ben H. Winters

I may have made this point before, but here goes. If you grew up watching television you probably have certain shows that can best be called comfort shows.  These are not really great television, not the kinds of show that win lot of awards or get taught in lower division college courses by cool professors, but they are good enough, entertaining enough and they have a … Continue reading Countdown City: The Last Policeman II by Ben H. Winters

Bleedout by Joan Brady

Joan Brady, the only American author to ever win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, wrote one of my all-time favorite novels Theory of War. I had the good fortune to stumble upon Theory of War on the remainder table at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco well over 20 years ago, long before there were such things as book blogs. … Continue reading Bleedout by Joan Brady

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Translated by Ebba Segerberg

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist and translated by Ebba Segerberg is for people who like their vampires monstrous. There are no cuddly creatures here, no misunderstood, sexy, brooding handsome young men, no one one who really has a soul, no one fighting an urge or repressing it with non-human blood substitutes. The vampire in Let the Right One In is an … Continue reading Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Translated by Ebba Segerberg

Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace

Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace is not like any book I have read before. When you have read as many books from as eclectic an assortment of genres as I have, it’s very rare to find an author do something you’ve never seen. David Peace’s detective story Tokyo Year Zero stretches the hard-boiled detective genre into uncharted territory and gets under the reader’s skin … Continue reading Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

I don’t have anything deep to say about the second in Ben H. Winters’ series of apocalyptic detective novels, Countdown City.  I just really enjoyed it. I could end my review there, that would be something, but I’ll say a little more. The premise is that there is an asteroid heading for earth.  There’s nothing to be done to prevent it, which is explained away … Continue reading Countdown City by Ben H. Winters