Monday, May 03, 2004

A bleary-eyed hello 

Although I had one of the best weeks in ages, it's good to be back home, sleeping in my own bed, and dealing with...cold weather? Alas, the gorgeous Manhattan sunny skies didn't cross the border quite yet, but no matter--I'll probably be semi-catatonic most of the day anyway, especially with a job interview (!) in the early morning.

I'll likely have more to say about my culture-packed weekend later on in the day, but first, some spate of mystery-only links to indulge in:

First, more on the big book of the week: Michael Connelly's THE NARROWS. Let's start off with Janet Maslin's review, which manages to provoke admiration and infuriation; the former because wow! She doesn't actually reveal the name of The Poet, but the latter because agh, that clueless sycophancy she's far too well known for when it comes to certain writers rears its head once again. Robin Vidimos's review in the Denver Post, though more spoiler-laden, is more straightforward, but causes the nails-on-blackboard feeling because one of the main character's name is spelled wrong throughout the review. Can't win 'em all, but a copyeditor should have caught that. And in related matters, the honor for the first print interview with Connelly about the new book goes to the News-Press in Southwest Florida, as Jay MacDonald asks all the usual questions.

More post-Edgar coverage, chiefly centered around Ian Rankin's win for Best Novel. The Herald has a fairly boilerplate wire report, while the Scotsman reveals that the new book's title has been changed to ASYLUM SEEKER, although I'm still waiting confirmation of such a change. If it's true, I must say, it probably works better than the old one, FLESHMARKET CLOSE, which would have to be different for the US market. This new one crosses the Atlantic quite nicely.

David Montgomery's mystery roundup for the Chicago Sun-Times starts off with a glowing review of Denise Hamilton's new book, and looks at new releases from Julia Spencer-Fleming, P.J. Tracy, Terrill Lankford, Chris Mooney, and Jonathon King.

Tom and Enid Schantz return with their monthly column in the Denver Post, focusing on the latest by John Shannon, Lawrence Block, and a linked anthology edited by Elizabeth Foxwell.

Patrick Anderson takes a look at Vince Flynn's new espionage-tinged novel, MEMORIAL DAY, and the verdict? Good on military matters, not as much when it comes to politics.

It's been more than 20 years since FLOOD, the first of Andrew Vachss' novels featuring his antier-than-antihero Burke, appeared on shelves. Now the new one, DOWN HERE, is just out and garnering good notices from the likes of the Oregonian.

And finally, Alexander McCall Smith gets a long, well-deserved profile in the Observer, written, interestingly enough, by fellow Scot Ruaridh Nicoll, the author of WHITE MALE HEART and other nervy thrillers. The kicker is the last paragraph:

McCall Smith believes that Americans have taken to his books in such numbers because, faced with the prospect of 'long-term conflict and harsh antipathy', they are searching for 'a lost Eden' of innocence and moral certainties. Small wonder, given some of the pictures that we have seen from Iraq over the past few days.

Yet that goodness in McCall Smith is something to aspire to. His enthusiasm for the adventure of life is magical. Events such as the book festival remind us how civilised life can be. Most of all, it is the revelation of that moral core in his novels that makes it so reassuring that this man - Sandy to his friends - is there, doing a day job that governs the research into our very cells.

Was it ever thus. There's a real simplicity and sheer delight to his books, whether they be the #1 Ladies novels or anything he's ever written (even the academic stuff, honest) and to the man himself. No wonder there's a circle where fans love the books, then meet him and love the books even more and on and so forth. There's a damned good reason he's a phenomenon--and it's all deserved. (Link from Fiona.)

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