Sunday, February 17, 2008

March madness

Here we are just past St. Valentine's Day and I am looking forward with anticipation to March. Not that I long for what we in Vermont call Mud Season (although a little thaw would be nice). No, it's a time when new titles will be added to the shelf, and that is reason to celebrate.

As a fan of British short-story writing, I'm looking forward to The Mammoth Book of Best British Mysteries, a new collection of stories edited by Maxim Jakubowski. This latest gathering of British mystery writers includes new stories by the creme de la crime with newly told tales by Mark Billingham, Lee Child, Val McDermid, Len Deighton, Colin Dexter, John Harvey and two dozen other practitioners of mayhem.

Vertical Inc., which gave us Keigo Higashino's Naoka several years back will be issuing the first English translation of his Malice. It looks to be a twisted tale in which a bestselling author is murdered and a fellow author immediately confesses to the crime. But with Higashino nothing is obvious and, if nothing else, it should prove to be a real brain teaser. Also from Verical Inc. comes Kenzo Kitakata's City of Refuge in which a man and a kidnapped boy are being pursued by the yakuza and by Detective Takagi, in this paperback original. Other Kenzo books include Ashes, Winter Sleep and The Cage. And one more from Vertical, this time by Seicho Matsumoto comes Pro Bono, in which a high-priced lawyer tells a young woman he cannot help defend her brother; the young woman decides to get some revenge. Matsumoto is an award-winning novelist and author of Inspector Imanishi Investigates.

Next to Victorian England where everything is genteel and aboveboard. Or is it? Blockbuster writer Anne Perry brings back Thomas Pitt in Buckingham Palace Gardens. In this case Pitt is called in to solve a murder of a woman at a stag party thrown by Edward, Prince of Wales.


And let's not forget 19th Century Europe. I'm looking forward to a first novel by Michael Gregorio titled Critique of Criminal Reason. Sounds boring, you say? How's this for a plot: Arriving in the city of Königsberg to help solve a strange series of murders, young detective Hanno Stiffeniis joins forces with his mentor, philosopher Immanuel Kant, to track down the serial killer terrorizing the city. Prussia, it would seem, is as good a place to get bumped off as any and the novel is coming out in paperback from Griffin. Meanwhile, the followup to this novel, Days of Atonement (from Minatour), introduces Stiffeniis to the murder of three children and the disappearance of their mother. Fans of Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters should look to both books if they crave detective work coupled with psychological insight.

For those of us who just can't get enough mysteries featuring castrati, soprano Tito Amato returns for a fourth mystery in The Iron Tongue of Midnight. Author Beverle Graves Myers, who first introduced us to Tito in Interrupted Aria, returns to the rarified world of Venetian Opera. This book, like the three before it, will be published by Poison Pen Press.

And if you like your mysteries modern and cozy, Laura Child is back on the scene. Her Dragonwell Dead will be release in paperback by Berkley the same time her latest hardcover The Silver Needle Murder hits the shelves. In this latest adventure Theodosia Browning and her staff are catering a film festival party when a famous director is shot. (Recipes and tea time tips are included.)

And, in a followup to Dry Ice, psychologist Alan Gregory is in a dilemma when his ex-wife contacts him for help in Stephen White's Dead Time. With a first printing of 100,000 copies,
we can only imagine that Dutton has high hopes for White's latest effort.

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