Sunday, April 11, 2004

Golly gee, it's the MWU 

Yes, I admit, as acronyms go, it's not catchy or thrilling, but what else am I supposed to shorten the Massive Weekend Update (TM) to? I'll give a Zip-Nada Prize (phrase cheerfully stolen from this fiendish mind) to anyone who comes up with a better shortened phrase...

Anyway, acronyms aside, you're here for the links, links and oh yeah--links. Might as well start off with La Stasio, because well, her word is law in matters mystery. And what did Marilyn decree this week? Only this: that Lawrence Block's THE BURGLAR ON THE PROWL exhibits a healthy amount of "raffish charm," while Karin Fossum's DON'T LOOK BACK is deemed a "horrifyingly astute crime study," certainly not your typical cozy mystery (hard to be cozy when you're in Norway, anyway, don't you think?) She deems Leslie Silbert's THE INTELLIGENCER "uneven" because the Christopher Marlowe stuff is good but the contemp stuff isn't quite up to snuff, but is more impressed overall with Joe Lansdale's SUNSET AND SAWDUST. And then, in the inexplicable department, there's the new Mary Higgins Clark novel. I mean hey, I cut my teeth reading MHC books, don't get me wrong--she's great, she plots well, she sells big. But need I whine that this book takes up space that a lesser-known book could have occupied to great effect? Like, I dunno, Richard Barre's new standalone ECHO BAY? Rick Riordan's SOUTHTOWN? But maybe it's just me...

Otherwise in the Book Review, Margo Jefferson looks at the art of writers quoting other writers' ideas in their work, and THE TERRY TEACHOUT READER gets its first print review notice--and my, it's a good one...

Looky here, the Guardian actually reviews some crime fiction again this week. Henning Mankell's FIREWALL, long available in the US but only now published in the UK, gets a star turn by M John Harrison, while Matthew Lewin rounds up the newest and shiniest thrillers as follows: Gerald Seymour's post-9/11 thriller is edge-of-your-seat stuff, Stephen Hunter's HAVANA is tops (and boy do I agree with that), Harlan Coben's JUST ONE LOOK is, well, a lot like his last 3 suspense standalones (RIP Myron and Win) and the venom is reserved for Sheila Quigley's much hyped debut:

I don't begrudge first-time novelist Sheila Quigley a penny of the ?300,000 she got from Random House for a two-book deal on the basis of this novel, or the huge publicity hype that included a BBC TV documentary. What I do resent is that this fuss is being made about a book that is at best a jog along Jeffrey Archer territory, and at worst an amateur expedition into the jungle of plot design, police procedure and the social conditions of the north-east of England that made me wince with pain and embarrassment.

But of course it'll sell millions. It's the second coming of Martina Cole....

Also in the Guardian is Sarah Dunant's marvelling over Richard Zimler's new Sephardo-Jewish novel, Geoff Dyer explaining why he doesn't make a distinction between fiction and non-fiction, and a bizarre review of a bizarre book by someone using the nom de plume "Tommaso Pincio". Well, if you're gonna be pseudonymous, might as well play on Pynchon, I guess...

Turning now to the Washington Post Book World, Jonathan Yardley casts his eye on a new biography of Ted Williams. At 500 pages, it's voluminous, but does it succeed? The answer, it seems, is a resounding "hell, no." Steven Moore, on the other hand, tries valiantly to convince readers why Donald Harington's tricky tale of child abduction, WITH, is worth reading. He succeeds--almost. Dennis Drabelle navigates the densely rich landscape that is Peter Esterhazy's CELESTIAL HARMONIES, and Elizabeth Hand scrutinizes a new biography of John Fowles.

At the Sunday sister publication, Mark Haddon tries to explain his stunning success with THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME and how his real-life experiences with autistic children informed the creation of the novel. Meanwhile, Robert McCrum tries to make sense of Shelley Jackson's project of tattoing each word of her story on 2,093 individuals.

And what of the Globe and Mail? They have some neat little goodies, too, like a Canadian perspective (OK, that was reaching) on Michael Andre Bernstein's CONSPIRATORS. Has anyone thought of pairing him up with Esterhazy for a Hungarian Rhapsody Book Tour? That could be kind of fun...maybe....anyway, in more parallels to the WaPo, Lawrence Freundlich reviews Peter Bidini's quixotic odyssey through the Italian Major Leagues. Baseball in Italy, you say? Yes, Virginia, it does seem to exist...

Now, the smatterings that don't fit anywhere else:

David Housewright hasn't had a new book out in a few years, but that's all changed with A HARD TICKET HOME, the start of a new series. The Minneapolis Pioneer Press interviews him and asks how he managed to resurrect his career after a five year absence.

Oline Cogdill returns with a new mystery review
, this time a positive notice of Ian Rankin's A QUESTION OF BLOOD. No bad thing to review it although the book's been out a few months already---perhaps the next review she does will be something a little more current?

Mary Higgins Clark is the Queen of Suspense, a title few would really dispute (even if, like me, you read her books at a certain point in your life but don't really do so anymore.) The New York Daily News features a long profile on her life and career, still going strong with a new book just out.

Woe to the Telegraph that they put their content online so many days after it sees print, but what the hell--Susanna Yager's crime fiction roundup is still plenty interestingand all over the map. Meriting her attention are new releases from Caroline Graham, Jim Kelly, Roger Jon Ellory, Michael Robotham, Donna Leon, Andrea Camilleri, Janni Visman, Carsten Stroud, Neil Cross, and John Baker.

Sybil Downing looks at a couple of Colorado-based mystery writers for the Denver Post, most notably Sue Henry and her new release, THE SERPENT'S TRAIL.

Bloody hell, Herman Wouk isn't just alive at 89, he's going strong as a writer. His latest book, A HOLE IN TEXAS, gets the approval of the Baltimore Sun, though is greeted with less enthusiasm by Jan Herman, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Trends. How to follow them, and how can publishers ride the wave to surefire success? Well, they can't, and they don't have a clue what really sells, but the Sydney Morning Herald attempts to look into the whole matter anyway.

And speaking of trends, what's causing the latest one for confessions of deep, dark desires and doings? Again, the SMH attempts to suss out the answer, and gives a list of bestselling confessional books (none of them, however, deal with idiosyncratic minds. So I guess I'm safe for now.)

More on the James Bond-as youngster books to be written by Charles Higson from the Independent and Scotland on Sunday, where Siobhan Hynnot uses the news as a means to rant about the whole sequels/prequels phenomenon. I don't much blame her, to be honest.

Gail Carson Levine is in Toronto to promote her book (and the new movie) ELLA ENCHANTED, so the Star tries to find out what makes the book so appealing to young girls. She also visited San Francisco, giving a similar profile to the SF Chronicle.

And finally, Richard Clarke's new book, AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, to be a movie? I kid you not. Start your casting calls now....

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