Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ten notable historical crime novels

Laura Purcell worked in local government, the financial industry and a bookshop before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England, with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Fascinated by the darker side of royal history, Purcell has also written two historical fiction novels about the Hanoverian dynasty. Her new novel is The Poison Thread.

At CrimeReads, Purcell tagged a few of her "favorite novels that play with the theme of guilt and will have you questioning your own morality," including:
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

We are often told that evil triumphs when good people do nothing. In her Booker-Prize-winning masterpiece, Atwood explores precisely that. Can you be so caught up in your own life and troubles that your actions inadvertently lead to another’s death?

The tale of sisters Iris and Laura Chase is separated into three narrative threads: Iris’s recollections as an elderly woman, newspaper articles from the past and passages of Laura’s posthumously-published novel. Layer by layer, Atwood peels down to the darkest depths of human nature and its capacity for self-deception. While the story has profound and serious themes, reaching far beyond the relationship between the two sisters, it is nonetheless full of Iris’s acerbic wit.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Blind Assassin is among K Chess's five top fictional books inside of real books, Brendan Mathews's ten epic page-turners, CiarĂ¡n Hinds' six favorite books, and Lee Kelly's five favorite books with unforgettable sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Seven of the best books about doppelgangers

Laurence Scott’s essays and criticism have appeared on NewYorker.com and in the Guardian, the Financial Times, and the London Review of Books, among other publications. He is a lecturer in writing at New York University in London and lives in London.

Scott’s new book is Picnic Comma Lightning: The Experience of Reality in the Twenty-First Century.

At the Guardian, he tagged his favorite books on convincing imposters. One title on the list:
“The real world isn’t just real … It’s virtual too.” So claims a character in Joanna Kavenna’s new tech-dystopian novel Zed, which explores how digital life is making doubles of all of us. With our “real selves” now living alongside our lookalike online avatars, we have domesticated the spooky figure of the doppelganger.

Yet unsettling moral and political questions about the uniqueness of identity will inevitably proliferate in our doubled world of the physical and virtual. Deepfakes threaten to make audiovisual evidence inadmissible in court. Indeed, why should we be held accountable for the slanders, confessions, or virtually violent actions of our rebooted evil twins?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Erin Lee Carr's 6 favorite books

Erin Lee Carr is a director, producer, and writer based in New York City. Named one of the “30 Under 30” most influential people in media by Forbes, Carr directed At the Heart of Gold, about the USA Gymnastics scandal, and I Love You: Now Die, about the Michelle Carter murder-by-texting trial, both for HBO. Her memoir, All That You Leave Behind, deals with the loss of her father and guiding light, former New York Times journalist David Carr.

At The Week magazine Carr shared her six favorite books. One title on the list:
Lit by Mary Karr (2009).

I remember reading this profound memoir of alcoholism while I was struggling with substance abuse myself. Because I identified with a lot of Karr's behaviors and thoughts, Lit gave me insight into what was going on inside my brain and body. I loved and hated and appreciated reading it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lit is on Lindsay Lohan's jailhouse reading list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 15, 2019

Eleven of the best “ragtag crews” in space opera books

Jeff Somers is the author of Writing Without Rules, the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged eleven of the best “ragtag crews” in space opera books today, including:
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, by Alex White

In a past life, Boots Elsworth was a treasure hunter—one of the best. Now past her prime, Boots has been reduced to selling information about fake salvage opportunities and hoping no one comes back for a refund. But then she unexpectedly stumbles onto some real information: the story of what happened to the legendary warship Harrow, one of the most powerful weapons ever created. And then there’s Nilah Brio, once a famous racer in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation, until she was framed for murder. On the run to prove her innocence, Nilah chases her one lead—the real killer, now hunting someone named Boots Elsworth. They eventually wind up on the same ship, the Capricious, the captain and crew of which have been manipulated by these crafty and desperate women. That crew, and especially the cynical and snarky quartermaster Orna, are ragtag without being silly, presented as individuals who have come together with common purpose and are now faced with an increasingly short list of options and reacting accordingly. It’s terrific stuff—and those titles: book two is A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy and the forthcoming finale promises a visit to The Worst of All Possible Worlds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe.

The Page 69 Test: A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ten top crime novels with small-town settings and big social issues

Terry Shames grew up in Texas, and her Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, is based on the fascinating people, landscape, and culture of the small town where her grandparents lived.

The first book in the series A Killing at Cotton Hill received the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery of 2013.

The newest (and eighth) book in the series is A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary.

At CrimeReads, Shames tagged ten favorite crime novels that "use small-town settings to explore the day's most important and complex issues," including:
Margaret Maron, Home Fires

Issue: Bigotry

Race is also the subject in Margaret Maron’s Home Fires. Judge Deborah Knott is faced with racism, anger, and betrayal as she tries to see justice done in Colleton Country, North Carolina. The novel deals with church burning, desecration of a family graveyard, secrets and betrayals. In the course of investigating and trying to walk the fine line of the town’s politics, Knott is challenged to reevaluate her own beliefs.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Top ten reads for "Stranger Things" fans

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top books for Stranger Things fans, including:
Neverworld Wake
Marisha Pessl

From the mercurial pen of Marisha Pessl comes a typically polished high concept thriller that will entrance readers of her acclaimed Night Film. A group of friends face an unbearable choice that will see one of them killed – and the others guilty of their murder. Pulsating with jeopardy and finely drawn characters, Neverworld Wake is a chilling literary thrill-ride.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 12, 2019

Seven unlikeable female characters

Kristen Lepionka is the Shamus Award-winning and Anthony and Macavity Award-nominated author of The Last Place You Look and What You Want to See. Her newest Roxane Weary mystery is The Stories You Tell. She grew up mostly in her local public library, where she could be found with a big stack of adult mysteries before she was out of middle school. Lepionka is a co-founder of the feminist podcast Unlikeable Female Characters, and she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her partner and two cats.

One of Lepionka's seven favorite unlikeable women characters, as shared at CrimeReads:
The Best Bad Things (Katrina Carrasco)

A Shamus Award nominee for Best First PI novel, this is a historical mystery featuring a genderqueer investigator in a gritty Washington State port town. Alma is an undercover operative who is credible as a man or as a woman, a useful skill to have in what turns out to be a small world.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ten top books on Burma

David Eimer is the author of the critically acclaimed The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China. A former China correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, Eimer was the Southeast Asia correspondent for the Daily Telegraph between 2012 and 2014. He is currently based in Bangkok.

His new book is A Savage Dreamland: Journeys in Burma.

One of Eimer's top ten books on Burma, as shared at the Guardian:
From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey by Pascal Khoo Thwe

Pascal Khoo Thwe writes about his extraordinary journey from Shan state to Cambridge University in prose that makes a nonsense of the fact that English is his “second” language. From his earliest years in a remote village still gripped by the animist beliefs that held sway in Burma before Buddhism arrived, it takes in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising that made Aung San Suu Kyi a global name and his time as a soldier in a rebel army in the jungles of southern Burma. The story would be almost unbelievable if it wasn’t true.
Read about the other entries on the list.

See Rory MacLean's top ten books on Burma.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nine of the greatest moral compromises in crime fiction

Carl Vonderau is the author of Murderabilia, a thriller that takes place in the upper crust world of private banking. Like the protagonist, William McNary, he has been a private banker and was raised in a Christian Science family.

At CrimeReads Vonderau tagged nine of the greatest moral compromises in crime fiction, including:
Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell

Family loyalty and history are also huge determinants in the work of Daniel Woodrell, who writes wonderful descriptions of the winter landscape in a third-person voice thick with the Ozarks. In Winter’s Bone, Ree Dolly is sixteen. She must protect and care for her mentally ill mother and her two young brothers. Her one hope is to someday be free enough that she can join the army. As the story opens, her father, a meth cooker, has jumped bail and disappeared. A deputy marshall shows up and informs the family that their father put up the house and their timber acres as collateral for the bail bond. If Ree doesn’t make her father show up in court the next week, she, her mother, and her two brothers will lose the little that they own.

Ree must align with the murderers and drug dealers her father worked with in order to find him and save her family. As with Michael Corleone, it is as if a whole society is pulling her back into what she is trying to escape. Through force of will, she manages to convince the criminals around her to rise above their deadened selves and help, perhaps to prove to themselves they are still capable of compassion. This story is a devastating portrait of a society crushed by inescapable drugs and poverty, where violence hides tenderness, and where loyalty to family is everything.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Winter's Bone is among Adam Sternbergh's six top crime novels that double as great literature and Lauren Passell's ten must-read books that take place in the Midwest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Five sweltering Southern Gothic horror novels

At Tor.com Emily Hughes tagged five deliciously creepy Southern Gothic horror books, including:
Those Across The River by Christopher Buehlman

Christopher Buehlman has been writing world-class horror for years now, and if you haven’t read him yet, it’s time to change that. Those Across the River is a book that never went where I expected it to go, but I loved where it ended up.

Frank Nichols and his not-yet-wife Eudora arrive in Whitbrow, Georgia, in the hopes of a fresh start. Frank has been left the remains of his family’s old estate, where he plans to write the history of his family, particularly his great-grandfather, a slave owner of legendary cruelty and brutality who was killed when those he enslaved rose up and revolted.

But the legacy of the Nichols family’s brutal past lives on in the forest across the river, on the original site of the plantation, and before long, Frank will find out why the townsfolk of Whitbrow send a couple hogs off into the woods every full moon.

Read if you love: Spanish moss, insular small towns with dark secrets, shifters, grappling with the demons of American history in an often literal manner, and stories that will send chills down your spine like condensation down a glass of sweet tea.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 8, 2019

Five great literary dystopias

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged five great literary dystopias, including:
We
Yevgeny Zamyatin

OneState is a society predicated on mathematical principle and any creativity or independent thinking is brutally stamped out. But when D-503 discovers that he possesses a soul the revelation sets in motion a chain of events that threaten OneState’s very existence. Suppressed for decades by the Soviet authorities, We pioneered the concept of the literary ‘superstate.’
Read about the other entries on the list.

We is among Christopher Hill's top ten books about tyrants, Weston Williams's fifteen classic science fiction books, and Lawrence Norfolk's five most memorable dystopias in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Six novels that examine the dark side of female relationships

Emily Liebert's new novel is Pretty Revenge.

At CrimeReads she tagged six novels that explore the dark side of female relationships, including:
Temper by Layne Fargo (Gallery Books)

Kira, an ambitious actress, has finally landed the role of a lifetime. Unfortunately, she still has to work with the theater’s co-founder, Joanna, who considers Kira a threat to her own foiled artistic ambitions, her perverse relationship with volatile director Malcolm, and the scandalous secret she’s been hiding about the show. With opening night approaching, readers will realize that Malcolm’s perilous disposition is nothing compared to what Kira and Joanna are capable of.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue