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Posts by Katie H

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

Scribes and witches unite

Cover of In the Presence of Evil
A review of In the Presence of Evil by Tania Bayard

Single motherhood with the responsibilities of earning enough to support several generations—it’s a situation not unfamiliar to many modern women. It’s the situation Christine de Pizan lives in, but her world—1393 Paris—is far from modern in Tania Bayard’s debut In the Presence of Evil. As an educated woman, Christine is already something of an oddity, but growing up as both beloved daughter and widow of scholars employed in the French court has given her a chance to earn her living as a scribe and support her children and mother.

May 25, 2021

A hard-earned happily ever after

Cover of Work For It
A review of Work For It by Talia Hibbert

In the current romance publishing climate, it’s not unusual for ‘debut’ authors to have multiple titles in print through self-publishing houses before they’re picked up by conventional publishers. While the quality of self-published titles are definitely hit-or-miss in terms of quality, self-publishing gives authors the possibility of publishing stories that traditional publishers pass on or to hone their writing chops in different directions.

Mar 23, 2021

A haunted marriage

Cover of Stay with Me
A review of Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

As they start their marriage, Yejide and Akin are aware they’ve a lot to learn, but there is one thing they are sure of: theirs will be a monogamous marriage. In late 1980s Nigeria, it is still assumed that Akin will take several wives. The pair, who met at university and have thus far weathered Nigeria’s often volatile political and social climate, have the sort of love that is strong enough to withstand any outsider’s attempts to drive them apart. But Akin and Yejide may be their own greatest threat to their marriage, a discovery that comes almost too late. 

Feb 3, 2021