California Literary Review

Mystery

Trashed by Alison Gaylin

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November 8th, 2007

These driven individuals scour celebrity garbage cans, pose as anyone but themselves, lie as though the truth was a concept to be scorned and in general have all of the journalistic ethics commonly associated with FOX News. Getting the goods on the rich and famous is all that matters in this weird league.

The Quiet Girl by Peter Høeg

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October 29th, 2007

A thriller is often a race, but without the understanding of exactly why this girl is so great a prize, it makes it harder to follow the runner.

The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin

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October 25th, 2007

Goodwin now returns with another mystery, a tale as exotic as the first one, delicious in its evocation of the last days of the Ottoman dynasty. Here, however, the territory is dangerously personal.

Thunder Bay by William Kent Krueger

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October 11th, 2007

The novel is set in the lake country of northern Minnesota and the wilds of bordering Ontario. Former sheriff Cork O’Connor has decided to take life easy with his wife and teenage daughter. He’ll fill in the slack times with a little private investigator action or at least that’s what he thinks. The short-lived halcyon period is broken when Objibwe medicine man Henry Meloux (as in “mellow”) asks Cork to find his son that he fathered more than a half-century ago in the Canadian boreal forest wild lands.

The Solution to History

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October 3rd, 2007

These days the historical mystery buff can choose from works featuring Owen Archer, Prioress Eleanor, Petroc of Auneford, Mathew Shardlake, and many others. From a brief survey of the genre, it’s a wonder that anyone noticed when the Black Death took hold, as the inhabitants of Britain had apparently been offing each other in industrial numbers right through the medieval era.

Who Didn’t Do It?

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July 31st, 2007

The “golden age” of detective fiction, which began roughly with Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, occupied the years between the first and second World Wars – anything but a golden age for Britain, and one in which British society was undergoing massive and lasting changes. The experience of total war, which moved women into the munitions factories, and domestic servants into the army, caused serious questioning of the established social order. The assumed codes of deference and conduct never quite recovered. Country estates were shut up or sold, and the rural economy was destabilised by wage increases after the labourers returned from the front, or didn’t. Crime fiction, however, was busy denying that anything had changed, keeping the experience of death safely within rational and domestic confines where it could be explained away.

Book of Hours

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June 26th, 2007

Clocks, with their symbolic freight of time and plot, can serve as weapons with which the murderer and the detective attempt to impose their will on the world. In changing a clock’s hands, falsifying an alibi, or cheating a timetable, the killer tries to take control of time, and it is up to the detective to wrest it back from him by proving that time is logical and relentless.

The Key to the Case

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May 26th, 2007

The locked room mystery has been a staple of detective fiction since Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue presented Auguste Dupin with two corpses and apparently no way for the murderer to have entered or left.

The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes by Caleb Carr

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April 22nd, 2007

Those writers whom the gods would destroy, they first tempt into trying to imitate another writer who has influenced them.

Alibi by Joseph Kanon

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April 10th, 2007

Joseph Kanon’s summer potboiler is a weak whodunnit set in the seedy splendor of post-war Venice.

Mystery Writer Vicki Stiefel

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April 3rd, 2007

“I have a general idea where I’m going, but Tally and Company take me there. They often surprise me, which is the great fun of writing fiction.”

An Interview With Nancy Means Wright

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April 3rd, 2007

“I guess liking mysteries goes back to Aristotle, who said we read or watch tragedy because the bad stuff happens to someone else and we feel relieved that we’re still alive, and the perpetrator takes the blame for what happened. It’s a catharsis.”

Bush Tea with Alexander McCall Smith

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March 31st, 2007

“I believe that people are very interested in reading about the ordinary things of life. One can make a very simple situation seem interesting — often it is very simple matters that arouse most passions in people.”

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