More than 850 book reviews

Tag Archive for ‘suspense’

A stirring tale of spies in wartime Vienna

Vienna Spies, by Alex Gerlis @@@@ (4 out of 5) In The Secret War, his illuminating revisionist history of secret intelligence in World War II, the British journalist Max Hastings questions the value of what has come to be called “humint,” the product of spies working undercover. In Hastings’ view, spies had little effect on… Read More ›

The “best Norwegian crime novel” is set in Minnesota

The Land of Dreams (Minnesota Trilogy #1), by Vidar Sundstøl @@@@ (4 out of 5) Some 4.6 million Norwegian-Americans live in the United States, about half of them in the Upper Midwest. Nearly 900,000 can be found in Minnesota alone. These numbers compare with the total of 5.3 million people who live in Norway proper…. Read More ›

Donna Leon’s latest is not “one of her best”

Earthly Remains (Commissario Brunetti #26), by Donna Leon @@ (2 out of 5) For some reason I cannot fathom, Marilyn Stasio raved about Earthly Remains. Stasio has been editing a column on crime fiction for the New York Times Book Review—forever, it seems. Her recommendations are often good. But this one wasn’t. She called this… Read More ›

A Nazi medal in Sweden triggers a journey into the past

The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck #5), by Camilla Läckberg @@@@ (4 out of 5) Once upon a time French classicists derived the principles of drama from Aristotle’s Poetics, proclaiming the “three unities.” This restrictive concept required that a play depict only a single action that takes place in a single location within… Read More ›

My 10 favorite espionage novels

Over the past seven years, I’ve read and reviewed 60 espionage novels. My ten favorites are listed below. Though my preliminary list included multiple titles by three authors (Alex Berenson, Charles Cumming, and Ross Thomas), I’ve limited myself to a single title from every writer. I gave every one of these ten titles a score… Read More ›

The book behind the film “Blade Runner”

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick @@@ (3 out of 5) Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is regarded as one of the most outstanding science fiction films ever made. The film was released 35 years ago, in 1982. Google its title, and you’re likely to come across the following description: “Deckard (Harrison… Read More ›

A great start to John Lescroart’s Dismas Hardy series

The Vig (Dismas Hardy #2), by John Lescroart @@@@ (4 out of 5) Dismas Hardy’s resumé is a little difficult to understand: former Marine (combat in Vietnam), former San Francisco cop, former Assistant DA, now one-quarter owner of the Shamrock and full-time bartender there. The explanation is simple, though. The events that induced him to… Read More ›

Inspector Rebus goes to London to catch a serial murderer

Tooth and Nail (Inspector Rebus #3), by Ian Rankin @@@@ (4 out of 5) A serial murderer dubbed The Wolfman by the press has killed and mutilated three women in London, one a month. The pressure is on the police to catch the killer before panic spreads further. Now, someone at New Scotland Yard has… Read More ›

A right-wing politician is murdered on the streets of Oslo

Chameleon People (K2 and Patricia #4), by Hans Olav Lahlum @@@ (3 out of 5) An Oslo police detective known as K2 is startled one Saturday evening when a boy of about 15 frantically rushes through his apartment door and surrenders himself just moments ahead of the police officers who are chasing him. It soon… Read More ›

Stalking and murder at UC Berkeley

A Credible Threat (Jeri Howard #6), by Janet Dawson @@@@ (4 out of 5) A young man named Ted Macauley is stalking two undergraduate women at UC Berkeley. Someone, presumably the same man, has been calling the Elmwood District house they share with several other students and hanging up without speaking. And now the residents… Read More ›