Timothy Zahn: Night Train to Rigel

Night Train to Rigel‘s unusual premise sounds a little jokey, but Zahn plays it (mostly) straight: interstellar travel is accomplished with trains that travel along a sort of hyperspace railway. Frank Compton is an ex-intelligence agent who finds himself embroiled in one of those mysteries that’s bigger than it first appears, and which ultimately affordsContinue reading “Timothy Zahn: Night Train to Rigel”

Jedediah Berry, The Manual of Detection

I loved this book despite a few quibbles. It relates what happens to Charles Unwin when he is unexpectedly promoted from clerk to detective of a mysterious agency, and finds himself rather unwillingly investigating the disappearance of Travis T. Sivart, the operative for whom he served as the clerk. In typical noir fashion, it’s soonContinue reading “Jedediah Berry, The Manual of Detection”

Robert Sheckley: The Alternative Detective

I saw it opined in several places that the third of Sheckley’s mysteries featuring Hob Draconian was so good it would make me want to go back and read the first two — and since I’m a “save the best for last” kinda person, I opted to read them in chronological order. I found TheContinue reading “Robert Sheckley: The Alternative Detective”

Lee Irby: The Up and Up

Small-time hood Frank Hearn makes it out of Irby’s previous Prohibition-era caper novel 7,000 Clams with his skin fundamentally intact and the love of a really terrific dame, but (no spoiler, really) without enough scratch to give her the kind of life he wants to. So in this sequel he goes straight and tries toContinue reading “Lee Irby: The Up and Up”

Lee Irby: 7,000 Clams

I think the worst thing about becoming a baseball fan for me is getting infested by the magical thinking associated with the sport. This intricately-plotted, noirish crime novel features Babe Ruth (as a Yankee, in the 1925 offseason) and I found myself vaguely worried that reading it was somehow disloyal to my team. But there’sContinue reading “Lee Irby: 7,000 Clams”

Carrie Bebris: North by Northanger

I probably wouldn’t write about Bebris again so soon if I hadn’t had somewhat harsh things to say about Suspense and Sensibility, the preceding volume of this series of sequels to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which Lord and Lady Darcy encounter characters from other Austen novels (and/or their descendants) in a mystery/suspense context.Continue reading “Carrie Bebris: North by Northanger”

Charlaine Harris: Dead Until Dark

I’m embarassed about it, but over the past few years I’ve read several books in the burgeoning “paranormal romance” sub-genre (and returned several more to the library when I decided they really weren’t worth my time). I’m perversely intrigued by the extent to which the genre has calcifyied around a single template, Laurell Hamilton’s “AnitaContinue reading “Charlaine Harris: Dead Until Dark”

Carrie Bebris: Pride and Prescience

Pride and Prescience has an audacious conceit: not only is it a sequel to Austen’s immortal Pride and Prejudice, it re-imagines Lord and Mrs. Darcy (née Bennet) as amateur sleuths. An interesting kernel underlies this (and perhaps lessens its outrageousness) — both Austen’s novels and traditional English “village” mysteries deliberately limit the scope of theirContinue reading “Carrie Bebris: Pride and Prescience”

Doug Dorst: Alive in Necropolis

The book jacket description and a handful of pull quotes (from writers with ties to the McSweeney’s camp, mostly) were enough to get me to read Alive in Necropolis, but the novel exceeded the expectations I had of it. It sounds perhaps a bit silly in capsule form: emotionally fragile rookie cop Michael Mercer rescuesContinue reading “Doug Dorst: Alive in Necropolis”

Jonathan Barnes: The Somnambulist

Barnes’ first novel is promising, if less than entirely satisfying, and certainly not lacking in ambition nor scope. It’s set in a fantastic London peopled by flamboyant, unlikely charactersat the close of the 19th century. Several folk are Not As They At First Seem, including the narrator, who does, it should be noted, remark inContinue reading “Jonathan Barnes: The Somnambulist”