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Posts by Katie H

Cold cases and basket cases

Cover of The Awkward Squad
A review of The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff

Anne Capestan knew she’d be punished for her itchy trigger finger, but the sentence is like no other she’d ever heard of. After firing one too many bullets, the Parisian police commissaire was lucky to still have her job, but is stunned when she learns that she is to lead a new police squad in charge of cold cases. But Capestan’s squad consists entirely of the police officers that have run afoul of the police judiciare, and since they cannot be fired, they can at least be relegated to some brigade, starved of funds and support until they quit in frustration.

Dec 2, 2021

Who was Peggy Smith?

Cover of The Postscript Murders
A review of The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

There’s nothing particularly unusual about Peggy Smith. She’s an old lady living in an assisted living facility beside the sea, spends her days noting passersby in her notebooks and reading her beloved crime novels that fill her apartment. Even her death isn’t out of the norm--sudden and apparently peaceful in her chair overlooking the sea. But something about the death unsettles her carer, Natalka. How could a woman who was still spry enough to climb flights of stairs die of heart failure when her pills were within reach? Why are so many of the books in Peggy’s apartment dedicated to her,

Nov 23, 2021

Strange and wild songs

Cover of Matrix
A review of Matrix by Lauren Groff

Early in Matrix, Lauren Groff’s stunning new novel, Marie of France recalls a nightingale that Queen Eleanor had raised by hand, caged among the ladies of the English court. She despises this bird, which sings the same song, unlike the wild birds that Marie knew from her days when her mother and aunts were alive, free and fierce to pursue a life away from the strictures of court and the stringent roles of the ladies there. Marie herself defies easy categorization, as both bastard and royal, the product of rape from the lanky Plantagenet king and her Amazonian French mother.

Nov 1, 2021

A new meaning for moonshot

Cover of The Apollo Murders
A review of The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield

Kazimieras “Kaz” Zemeckis was bound for the stars.  At least, that was the plan before a bird strike on a routine fighter training flight left him with a glass eye and a job shepherding astronauts through the sort of space flights he was supposed to be on himself. By 1973, the Apollo missions are winding down as budget cuts take their toll, but the Apollo 18 trip promises to be like no other.

Oct 18, 2021

A child of grace

Cover of The Ninth Hour
A review of The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

It may seem incongruous that The Ninth Hour, Alice McDermott’s exquisite family saga of faith, sacrifice and grace, should begin with a suicide. When Jim shoos his young wife Annie out of their Brooklyn tenement to do some shopping, locks the door behind her and turns on the gas, it looks as bleak as could be for the young widow. Early-twentieth century Brooklyn is a tough place for its many inhabitants, and particularly so for a young Irish widow with a baby on the way.

Sep 20, 2021

Noir with a touch of Minnesota nice

Cover of Gone to Dust
A review of Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman

PI Nils Shapiro has seen some dirty crime scenes, but none like this. In an otherwise immaculate house in Minneapolis’s snobbiest suburb, there are heaps of vacuum bag dust—and under one of those heaps is the corpse of Maggie Somerville, freshly divorced and Edina’s first murder victim in decades. The killer obviously knew what he/she was doing—the presence of so much dust makes forensic analysis impossible and an overnight snowstorm obliterated any exterior trails. This seemly impossible case is the set up for Matt Goldman’s debut Gone to Dust.

Sep 13, 2021

Mystery that's killer diller

Cover of Fortune Favors the Dead
A review of Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

Mystery devotees could long argue over what period represented the peak era of American noir/mystery writing, but it’s likely all would agree that the 1940s would be high on everyone’s list. With such luminaries as Rex Stout, Raymond Chandler, and Dorothy Hughes established and up and comers Mickey Spillane and Jim Thompson making their mark in the pulp magazines, the culture of World War II America was ripe for literary inspiration.

Jun 29, 2021

A different sort of World War II story

Cover of Clark and Division
A review of Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara

After the hellish experience of the past few years, Aki Ito finally feels like it might be possible to be happy again. She and her parents are about to leave Manzanar, the California desert internment camp into which her family and other Japanese-Americans were forced by the government following Pearl Harbor, for an unfamiliar Chicago neighborhood the government has deemed acceptable for ‘resettlement’.

Jun 18, 2021

Fantastical Cairo

Cover of A Master of Djinn
A review of A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark

Agent Fatma el-Sha’arawi, special investigator with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, knows she’ll need all those magical elements, and a few more, to get to the bottom of the latest investigation to cross her desk. The bodies of several prominent Cairenes, most European, are discovered burned to death at the mansion of a powerful Englishman, apparently gathered as part of a secret society. But these are not just any burns. The unfortunates had all their flesh burned away, but none of their clothing.

Jun 7, 2021