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August 25, 2008 / C.T. Henry

New Additions to the Bookshelf

Even as my bookshelf overflows, I simply can’t stop buying books.  I admit it; I’m an addict.  After reading four books in a row that weren’t good enough to recommend on this site, I keep searching for that special book. So here’s what I bought:

DIE A LITTLE by Megan Abbott (2005)
Nominated for the Anthony, Barry, and Edgar, I thought that I ought to check out this promising new author.  Her second novel, Queenpin, has also won critical acclaim.

Book Description:
This ingenious twist on a classic noir tale tells the story of Lora King, a schoolteacher, and her brother Bill, a junior investigator with the district attorney’s office. Lora’s comfortable, suburban life is jarringly disrupted when Bill falls in love with a mysterious young woman named Alice Steele, a Hollywood wardrobe assistant with a murky past.

Made sisters by marriage but not by choice, the bond between Lora and Alice is marred by envy and mistrust. Spurred on by inconsistencies in Alice’s personal history and possibly jealous of Alice’s hold on her brother, Lora finds herself lured into the dark alleys and mean streets of seamy Los Angeles. Assuming the role of amateur detective, she uncovers a shadowy world of drugs, prostitution, and ultimately, murder.

Lora’s fascination with Alice’s “sins” increases in direct proportion to the escalation of her own relationship with Mike Standish, a charmingly amoral press agent who appears to know more about his old friend Alice than he reveals. The deeper Lora digs to uncover Alice’s secrets, the more her own life begins to resemble Alice’s sinister past — and present.

THE COLD DISH by Craig Johnson
I’m a sucker for outdoor mysteries set in the American Midwest.  Cathy, over at Kittling: Books, recommended this book.

Book Description:
The citizens of the Cowboy State boast a long and bloody history of dispensing rough justice but the last few decades have bred peace between the white and Native American communities. So when Cody Pritchard is found dead near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Sheriff Walt Longmire and the general population of Absaroka County are inclined to think it’s a hunting accident. But two years earlier Cody was one four high school boys convicted of brutally raping Melissa Little Bird, a young Cheyenne girl with fetal alcohol syndrome. The boys were guilty but let off with suspended sentences. Was this a revenge killing? Sheriff Longmire intends to find out.

After twenty-four years as sheriff, Walt, along with Deputy Victoria Moretti and lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear, is embroiled in the most volatile and challenging case of his career. He might be the only thing standing between the three remaining boys and a Sharps .45-70 buffalo rifle.

THIRTEEN by Richard K. Morgan (2007)
Book Description:
Marsalis is one of a new breed. Literally. Genetically engineered by the U.S. government to embody the naked aggression and primal survival skills that centuries of civilization have erased from humankind, Thirteens were intended to be the ultimate military fighting force. The project was scuttled, however, when a fearful public branded the supersoldiers dangerous mutants, dooming the Thirteens to forced exile on Earth’s distant, desolate Mars colony. But Marsalis found a way to slip back–and into a lucrative living as a bounty hunter and hit man before a police sting landed him in prison–a fate worse than Mars, and much more dangerous.

Luckily, his “enhanced” life also seems to be a charmed one. A new chance at freedom beckons, courtesy of the government. All Marsalis has to do is use his superior skills to bring in another fugitive. But this one is no common criminal. He’s another Thirteen–one who’s already shanghaied a space shuttle, butchered its crew, and left a trail of bodies in his wake on a bloody cross-country spree. And like his pursuer, he was bred to fight to the death. Still, there’s no question Marsalis will take the job. Though it will draw him deep into violence, treachery, corruption, and painful confrontation with himself, anything is better than remaining a prisoner. The real question is: can he remain sane–and alive–long enough to succeed?

AN UNQUIET GRAVE by P.J. Parrish (2006)

Book Description:
In a remote corner of the Michigan woods, behind rusted iron gates and crumbling stone walls, lie one of the country’s most notorious sanitariums and its forgotten cemetery. The sprawling ruin is empty now, and the bulldozers have come to raze it. But as they do, a terrifying secret begins to emerge…

The body in Claudia Olsen’s grave is that of a stranger who died horribly. This much Louis Kincaid knows. But what happened to the woman who should be buried there? It’s a question no one will answer, one that leads Kincaid to the long, dark tunnels below the asylum and crimes of unimaginable depravity…

Now, in a place where the walls are stained with secrets, the air thick with the lingering history of screams, Louis Kincaid is on his darkest journey yet, matching wits with a monster whose work will not be silenced…

THE JAMES DEANS by Reed Farrel Coleman (2005)

Book Description:
It’s 1983 and Reaganomics is in full swing. But beneath the facade of junk bonds and easy money, New York remains a gritty metropolis offering Nirvana with one hand and desolation with the other. Moe Prager, ex-NYPD cop turned reluctant P.I. is too busy reeling from a family tragedy to see what’s coming. He’s about to be sucked into a case that might deliver him what he’s always wanted or plunge him into purgatory.

Two years earlier, Moira Heaton, a young intern for an up-and-coming politico, vanished without a trace. Although there is no evidence supporting her boss’s involvement, rumors and whispers have conspired to stall his once-promising career. Now, in a last- ditch effort to clear his name, state senator Steven Brightman, with the clout of a wealthy backer, enlists Moe’s help. With twists and turns galore and Moe’s inimitable voice, The James Deans is an absorbing page- turner that will add to the burgeoning reputation of one of today’s most promising writers.

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