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March 12, 2012 / John Sheridan

A Trip to the Bookstore

I just started a new job so I’ve been a bit lax recently in updating the blog. I’m still finding time to purchase and read though so I thought I’d share some recent purchases. Hopefully I’ll do a quick roundup of a few books I’ve completed recently later in the week. The books below are a combination of well known international authors as well as Irish ones. The Irish ones were purchased at an author event recently in Hodges Figgis in Dublin and were ones I’d picked up browsing a number of times and finally bought them. The others came from Easons online store and need little introduction. Obviously I haven’t read any of them yet so no particular insights to share into the quality but will get to that in the future.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

(Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository UK)

In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.

[A nominee for an Edgar for Best Novel in 2011].

The Chosen by Arlene Hunt

(Amazon UK, Book Depository UK)

On a hot summer’s day in the sleepy American town of Rockville, Jessie Conway, a teacher at the local high school, notices a car driving slowly around the school grounds.

Twenty minutes later Jessie is fighting for her life and Rockville is plunged into living nightmare after a gun-toting student unleashes bloody mayhem.

For Jessie the horror is just beginning. Traumatized and hounded by the media she retreats to her home and tries to rebuild her shattered life.

Caleb Switch watches the developments in Rockville with interest. A skilled and diligent killer, his recent selections have disappointed him, offering little challenge to a man of his predilections. Jessie Conway interests him: for she is no ordinary woman and a fine choice for a less than ordinary man.

As Jessie struggles to hold onto her marriage and her sanity she has no idea that she has become The Chosen.

Absolute Zero Cool by Declan Burke

(Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository UK)

Who in the right mind would want to blow up a hospital? “Close it down, blow it up – seriously, what’s the difference?” Billy Karlsson needs to get real. Literally. A hospital porter with a sideline in euthanasia, Billy is a character trapped in the purgatory of an abandoned novel. Deranged by logic, driven beyond sanity, Billy makes his final stand: if killing old people won’t cut the mustard, the whole hospital will have to go up in flames. Only his creator can stop him now, the author who abandoned Billy to his half-life limbo, in which Billy schemes to do whatever it takes to get himself published, or be damned …

What follows is a gripping tale that subverts the crime genre’s grand tradition of liberal sadism, a novel that both excites and disturbs in equal measure. Absolute Zero Cool is not only an example of Irish crime writing at its best; it is an innovative, self-reflexive piece that turns every convention of crime fiction on its head.

Phantom by Jo Nesbo

(Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository UK)

The murder has been solved but has justice been done?

Harry Hole is back in Oslo. He’s been away for some time, but his ghosts have a way of catching up with him. The case that brings him back is already closed. There is no room for doubt: the young junkie was shot dead by a fellow addict.

The police don’t want him back.

Denied permission to reopen the investigation, Harry strikes out on his own. Beneath the city’s eerie tranquillity, he discovers a trail of violence and mysterious disappearances seemingly unnoticed by the police. At every turn Harry is faced with a conspiracy of silence.

The criminals don’t want him back.

Harry is not the only one who is interested in the case. From the moment he steps off the plane, someone is watching his every move and tracing his every call.

Someone wants him silenced.

[Not due to be published in USA until September but available from Book Depository at a good price with free international shipping].


Leave a Comment
  1. techeditor / Mar 13 2012 11:15 am

    I read CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER last year so can tell you that it’s good, not great. It was so talked up that I expected great and was disappointed. I rated it three stars.

    • John Sheridan / Sep 9 2012 3:45 pm

      Even though I was looking forward to reading it, I still haven’t gotten around to it. Will do eventually I’m sure but have a half a dozen others that look more likely candidates at the moment.

  2. Gigistar / Mar 15 2012 2:00 pm

    I can sort of counterbalance the opinion of techeditor, because Crooked Letter Crooked Letter was actually one of my top-3 favorites from last year. I found it incredibly well-written, with a slow & dark mood that I loved from page 1. I found it a beautiful piece of literature, above and beyond the boundaries of genre.

    As for Nesbo, I only tried his first book in the Harry Hole series but was not impressed, actually struggled to finish it and now I’m going to have to find some new motivations to pick up number 2. I know I’m singing way out of chorus with this opinion as I know how popular Nesbo has become through the years. Probably my fault somehow…

  3. John Sheridan / Mar 15 2012 2:05 pm

    I’ve started with Phantom as I loved the previous Harry Hole novel that I read – Headhunters (which was the most recent Nesbo that I read) not as much. We’ll see when I get around to Crooked Letter because as usual I’ve more books than time!

    • techeditor / Mar 15 2012 2:22 pm

      I usually write reviews of the books I read, but I just checked and I didn’t review CROOKED LETTER. Sorry. It’s been long enough since I read it that I can’t give the specific reasons I didn’t think it was great.

  4. John Sheridan / Mar 15 2012 3:09 pm

    Where do you post your reviews?

    • techeditor / Mar 15 2012 3:24 pm

      I post my reviews to different places on the Internet, usually,,, and

      • John Sheridan / Mar 15 2012 5:38 pm

        I’m also on goodreads and librarything. Feel free to link to one of your reviews in the comments if we happen to cover a book you’ve read.

      • techeditor / Mar 15 2012 6:32 pm

        Sure will

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