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Sunday, March 07, 2004

And a Good Purim to you 

Once again, it's that time of year. A time to dress up, eat hamentashen, and drink oneself silly. Except frankly, I'm not much for putting on costumes (Hallowe'en? What-ever) and only indulge in the occasional hamentash. (no comments on anything else--hey, like any Jewish holiday, it's all about food.) And alas, drinking myself into a stupor was not on the bill--such is life when you're the designated driver. But in spite of it all, I did participate in a very enjoyable and illuminating venture (more later) and had myself a very good time.

So let's turn our attention to the world of crime fiction then, shall we?

The Guardian has to be first up, because they went insane, positively insane this week. Terry Eagleon rhapsodizes about David Peace's GB84, giving it by far the best review the book has received to date. Where's my copy? I want my copy!! (ed. just because it's a Jewish holiday doesn't mean you have license to kvetch more than usual.) Anyway, also piping up in the Review is Mark Lawson on Reginald Hill's GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT, and how the books bear hardly any relation anymore to the Dalziel and Pascoe BBC series. Jon Courtenay Grimwood is far, far less enthralled with Jodi Compton's THE 37TH HOUR, but it seems to me that he misses the point; it's not a ratcheted-to-the-seat suspense novel, it's about mood and character. And some fine writing. But then, I liked Compton's debut quite a lot. Maxim Jakubowski has a slim crime roundup, and finally, PD James explains how telling stories to her siblings at a young age sowed the seed for her career as a writer.

Margaret Cannon is her usual cheery self this week at the Globe and Mail, giving raves here, there and everywhere to Thomas Cook's PERIL, Alec Michod's debut THE WHITE CITY ("one of the best historical mysteries of the year"? Really? Hmm) Laurie King's THE GAME, Leslie Silbert's THE INTELLIGENCER, Cornel Woolrich's previously uncollected short stories, and Nicole Lundrigan's debut UNRAVELING ARVA, which sounds so compelling I'm going to have to hunt a copy down as soon as I can.

Oline Cogdill's back after a bit of an extended absence, and turns her attention to one of the better reads of last year, Jim Fusilli's TRIBECA BLUES, and to a newer release by Twist Phelan, one of the many talented folks on the Poisoned Pen roster. Every time I read one of Oline's reviews, I'm reminded of how much I try to emulate her in my own review-writing.

Tom and Enid Schantz have a monthly mystery column in the Denver Post, and this time they devote their energies to historical mysteries. Those getting the thumbs-up include Laurie King's latest Holmes/Russell novel THE GAME, Lora Roberts' THE AFFAIR OF THE INCOGNITO TENANT (another Holmes pastiche) and Jane Finnis' Roman-set debut GET OUT OR DIE.

And David Montgomery returns with another column for the Chicago Sun-Times, rounding up the latest in the genre. He's extremely impressed with William Kent Krueger's BLOOD HOLLOW, is charmed by Julie Hyzy's debut ARTISTIC LICENSE, enjoys the newest books by Kris Nelscott and Ray Shannon, and finds John Dunning's THE BOOKMAN'S PROMISE a bit wanting.

Kris Nelscott's novel also gets attention at the Oregonian, getting a strong review from Alice Evans.

The Tacoma News-Tribune interviews Sara Paretsky about her latest V.I. Warshawski novel, and why she's still struggling with the crime fiction label which some see as a "put down."

Meanwhile, Floridian and crime fiction writer Tim Dorsey is profiled in the Palm Beach Post.

Jack Batten is back, and this time he's all over the latest 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain. The verdict? He digs.

And in the best of the rest of the news:

Maud! Washington Post Book World! I'm telling you, bloggers are taking over print reviewing by storm. Gotta wonder, who'll be next?

In Scotland on Sunday, Rachel Sieffert is rather envious of Jacqueline Wilson's status as the UK's "most borrowed author" but she also confesses a deep love of libraries. Meanwhile, in the Observer, Seiffert talks about how she's balancing writing with teaching, and what effect the latter has on the former.

I have nothing to criticize in Laura Miller's column this week. Shocking? Well, she makes the case for Stephen Wright as one of the Great American Novelists, and I think she might have actually succeeded, just a little bit.

Martin Levin at the Globe and Mail wonders about the "pamphlet paradigm," or taking what's good enough for a magazine article and stretching it into book length. He also takes a bit of a shot at blogs, but on the other hand, so many are "personal polemics and rants on topics ranging from baseball to Bush to bag lunches." But when you find the good ones, it's like striking gold. Really.

Valerie Martin reviews Sarah Dunant's THE BIRTH OF VENUS for the NYTBR and approves. Me, I'm just glad that I can get a paperback edition of the book, since Canada stocks its own edition which was released at the same time as the UK one.

Christopher Paolini's ERAGON has hit the UK and Diana Wynne Jones finally understands what the fuss is all about.

Guy Gavriel Kay may well be one of the best fantasy writers going, because his novels are always on an epic scale. His newest, THE LAST LIGHT OF THE SUN, explores new worlds, much to the appreciation of Robert Wiersma of the Toronto Star.

And finally, it's so easy to respond to Robert McCrum's columns at length, but this time, better to let the man speak for himself:

No one from civilian life in possession of their right mind should willingly go to a publishing party. These are routine training manoeuvres and best left to enlisted personnel on front-line duty in the world of books.

But if, by some twist of fate, you find yourself marooned at a publishing bash - lacking the chutzpah to shout: 'Fire!' or short of a well-informed literary conversational gambit - you could do a lot worse than utter an apparently trivial remark like: 'Book embargoes - who needs 'em?'

Sentiments of this kind will keep the party going with a swing long after chucking-out time. The unbearable thrill of the embargo rarely fails to exert its ancient fascination.


No kidding. Put something out of reach of the common masses, and they clamor for it. But the question is, will Jayson Blair's book make the bestseller list of the newspaper he repeatedly lied to? Odds are good that such a thing is bound to occur.

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