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Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

The Winner of the Brand-New Copy of

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell is:

 

Mary S. (mscottcgp)

Congratulations! Your Book will be on the way to you soon!

Thank you to everyone who entered!

 

 

 

 

 

Free Book Friday! Inspector of the Dead

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

 

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

 

The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters. — Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria, Inspector of the Dead brilliantly merges historical fact with fiction, bringing a bloody chapter of Victorian England to vivid, pulse-pounding life.

ISBN 9780316323956, Paperback

There are currently  3 Members Wishing for this book.

1 lucky member will win a brand-new copy.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this Blog post. You must be a PaperBackSwap member in good standing to win.

We will choose 1 winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

You have until Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 12 noon ET, to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!

 

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – Death on the Agenda

Monday, July 29th, 2019

Death on the Agenda by Patricia Moyes

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

The mysteries of Patricia Moyes were written from the Sixties to the Eighties but they exemplify the traditional British detective story, since violence occurs offstage and the light tone is amusing.

Moyes wrote 19 mysteries and many short stories starring the main characters of Henry and Emmy Tibbett. Henry is a Scotland Yard Inspector but homemaker Emmy brings her canniness and pluck to the table. She also bucks up Henry when he’s down. Like Nick and Nora as well as Campion and Amanda, the crime-solving couple makes for a stable domestic atmosphere that long-time married readers can connect with. Moyes was well-travelled and she sets Henry and Emmy down in various interesting locales. For Death on the Agenda (1962) they are in Geneva for a convention of law enforcement officers working against the drug trade. Moyes likes to describe natural settings such as mountains and lakes. Like Patricia Wentworth of Miss Silver fame, Moyes is also skillful with people’s appearance and their clothes and fashion accessories.

A member of the conference staff is murdered. Henry finds himself one of two solid suspects. The evidence is so solid against him that for a couple of moments he wonders if he had a brainstorm and stabbed the victim dead with a dagger. Surprisingly, Henry, at the dangerous age of 45, has a flirtation with another woman, an attractive, intelligent and kind Australian, which sends Emmy rather off the rails too.

While some readers may not feel easy with the semi-adultery, others may be uncomfortable with gun-play in which one character shoots a gun out of another’s hand. How Dick Tracy! Also there is the standby of the Golden Age mystery: the excessively ingenious method of murder. I sigh, but other readers would not.

I’m not giving anything away when I say that things turn out fine. The rich are no better than they should be. The Tibbett marriage stays intact. The killer is caught. Stability restored.

I’ve read two by Moyes lately and both were good enough to drive to snap up about half-dozen additional books with Henry and Emmy at used book sales. I think if a reader likes Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham, she’ll like Patricia Moyes.

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – The Long Goodbye

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

This 1953 mystery includes all the characters required by a noir detective thriller of the Fifties. Trigger-happy bullies. Gambling kingpins. Dope doctors. Elegant women. The idle rich. The hard-pressed poor. The squeezed middle class. Honest cops who use dodgy methods on the good and the bad alike. Drunken artists, tortured writers. In their midst, Philip Marlowe, a tough PI that refuses to be pushed around.

The murder of the daughter of a California mega-millionaire is pinned on Terry Lennox, with whom Marlowe used to share gimlets (half gin, half lime juice) in the Victor Bar. Marlowe is warned by thugs in all stations of life not to meddle in the incident. Philip Marlowe reminds us of a Weimaraner in that while there is a trail to explore, he will follow it until he finds the answer, not caring about who he runs past or over.

Though in his other books Chandler’s incident and plots took a backseat to tone, setting and atmosphere, in this one, the twists and obstacles make sense. Like life and like work, one issue seems resolved only to have another, hydra-like, leap up to take its place. The complexity of the plot drew me in to the point where I could not keep from reading it. The plot turns come to an unexpected and sad end that may leave a bitter taste in the mouth, though it makes me eager to read another novel with Marlowe.

For readers interested in the use and misuse of alcohol, the novel is also about drinking as the basis of relationships and when heavy drinking shades into alcoholism. The book claims “A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all … he will be someone you never met before.” Throw that out for discussion the next time you hit the neighborhood watering hole.

Chandler’s longest, most ambitious novel is still being read after more than half a century. Mysteries like this, I hope, will never get old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – The Complete Curious Mr. Tarrant

Monday, July 15th, 2019

The Complete Curious Mr. Tarrant by C. Daly King

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Readers that like Ellery Queen or Philo Vance may also like the stories in The Curious Mr. Tarrant (C. Daly King, 1885-1963). Set in the mid-1930s, Trevis Tarrant is a gentleman of means, filling his leisure with solving strange and scary happenings. He is ably assisted by his Japanese valet-butler Katoh, who, though inconsistent with being a medical doctor and master spy, speaks preposition and article-free English (what was author King thinking?).

This book has eight short stories of bizarre cases and sometimes gruesome killings. By an American author but never published in the US until Dover released a facsimile edition (ISBN 0486235408) that preserves the old font and British English spellings. It’s mildly disconcerting to hear the tone of true-blue American lunk head (narrator Jerry Phelan) but read “recognise” and “kerb.”

This novel survives among hard-core readers of classic mysteries partly because it is listed in Ellery Queen’s Quorum: The 125 Most Important Books of Detective-Crime Mystery Short Stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction Review – Searching for Sylvie Lee

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Review by Mirah W (mwelday)

I am a big fan of Jean Kwok. I read Mambo in Chinatown in one day and thoroughly enjoyed Girl in Translation. Kwok creates characters who are strong yet vulnerable and makes them relatable to any culture. When I learned of Kwok’s newest release, Searching for Sylvie Lee, I knew I had to add it to my summer reading list. Kwok’s novel was also selected as the Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club selection for June and is a NY Times bestseller so there was a lot of buzz that encouraged me to read it!

Sylvie Lee is the oldest daughter of Chinese immigrants and, from the outside, it looks like she has everything together. She is college educated, leading an accomplished career, beautiful and married to a handsome husband. Her parents are extremely proud of what she has accomplished and her younger sister Amy adores her.  Sylvie spent her early years in the Netherlands with her grandmother and aunt’s family and when her grandmother is ailing, Sylvie returns to the Netherlands to see her grandmother one more time. When Sylvie’s family realizes she has gone missing in the Netherlands, Amy travels there to try to get answers and find Sylvie. In the process of her search, Amy learns a lot about herself and inner strength, but she also learns the secrets of Sylvie’s life and the truth of how she went missing.

Searching for Sylvie Lee is a intricate, poignant story about family secrets and family dynamics that impact every family member in a different way. I wasn’t expecting the range of emotions I experienced while reading this book. I had moments of anger, confusion, joy and sadness; it actually took me a few days to wrap my mind around all of the emotions and process them all. Kwok created a family that was damaged and loving at the same time. Some people hurt each other through their love and others wanted to support each other through love, and isn’t that such an accurate portrayal of real life? People do all kinds of things in the name of love, good and bad.

Kwok’s novel was emotionally deeper than I was expecting. I loved the complexity of the characters and how they were relatable in spite of that complexity. The way that Kwok reveals the story through the various characters’ voices is intelligent and engrossing, yet easy to read. I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed it and the themes were deep and emotional. Kwok navigates the waters of family drama with heart and soul. I would highly recommend adding Searching for Sylvie Lee to your summer reading list!

While you’re on PBS, check out my reviews of Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown (review here) and Girl in Translation (review here) on the PaperBackSwap Blog!  I would love to know if you also enjoy Kwok’s novels and your thoughts on any of her books!

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – The Continental Op

Monday, July 8th, 2019

The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Published by Dell in 1967, this pocket paperback bundled about half the pulp magazine long stories that appeared in a collection called The Big Knockover. I re-read these stories in my little free time since I didn’t feel up to reading anything else. The year-end festivities and the end of a semester are exhausting.

Hammett’s hero works in the San Francisco branch of the Continental Detective Agency in the 1920s. To make up for not having a name, he has developed an astute sense of how bad guys think. His core competence is using devious, often violent, methods to get the job done.

This King Business (1928). The Op finds himself in a Balkan country where the idealistic son of a rich guy is bankrolling a revolution for a band of crafty Slavs. Seems that the insurrectionists have promised to make the son a king if the revolution is successful. The rousing climax comes out of an action packed series of events which support the notion that the calculations of criminous types and political types aren’t all that different, a fairly common belief in the 1920s.

The Gatewood Caper (1923). A daughter is kidnapped and the desperate father wants her back mainly because it is a blow to his self-made man ego that somebody has the audacity to extort money out of him. “I’ve never been clubbed into doing anything in my life. And I’m too old to start now.” When the daughter doesn’t return even after the ransom is paid, our cunning Op smells something fishy. The story seethes with vindictive feeling and the setting of the Pacific Northwest – lumbering land – is persuasive.

Dead Yellow Women (1925). Très awkward title in our more enlightened era so we must make allowances for the era’s prejudices if that is our inclination. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the Op and a Chinese Tong Boss match wits. In places it feels like a parody of a Yellow Peril story, especially the elaborate polite language of the Tong Boss. The description of the maze-like interior of the criminal mastermind’s mansion is a tour de force. Also, a theme pops up: political idealism is exploited by venal crooks as in This King Business.

Corkscrew (1925). In this unexpected mixture of western and noir, the Op is a fish out of water when he is assigned to clean up remote dusty Corkscrew, Arizona. This ought to remind the shrewd reader of the Hammett’s novel Red Harvest, an exercise in violence and horror that rivals Tarantino. A gunslinger remarks, “A hombre might guess that you was playing the Circle H. A. R. against Bardell’s crew, encouraging each side to eat up the other, and save you the trouble.” The Op replies, “You could be either right or wrong. Do you think that’d be a dumb play?”

$106,000 Blood Money (1927). This presents the sequel to the story The Big Knockover. Like many aftermath stories, it is overall less satisfying than the original. The best part of the story is how the Op neatly solves a complicated problem. Again like Red Harvest, the plot is complicated with vivid characters and motivations. The Op slyly manipulates events to tidy conclusion.

The 1967 Dell paperback has an introduction by Lillian Hellman. It’s interesting but it tells more about her and Dash’s rocky relationship more than the stories. She makes a provocative point about the difficulty of living with somebody who is too stoically proud to complain when they are hurting.