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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Europa Challenge Giveaway

Over at the wonderful Europa Challenge, publisher Europa Editions has made available a copy of Alexander Maksik's novel You Deserve Nothing for the blog's first giveaway.

Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only; you have until midnight, September 1 to enter via the form at Europa Challenge. Europa Editions will mail the book directly to the winner.

So while I get back on track with my own Europa Challenge reviews, go enter the giveaway for the chance to read another of this fascinating publisher's books.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: 'The Return of Captain John Emmett'


THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN JOHN EMMETT
By Elizabeth Speller
Historical crime fiction                                                                                
July 2011
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0547511696

The end of World War I was a traumatic time for Britain, even though they won. Hundreds of thousands of men died, and more than a million came back wounded. Family dynamics changed, the roles of women changed, everyone who survived sought ways to carry on and cope with a world that had changed around them. At the same time, the Golden Age in mystery fiction began.

Elizabeth Speller brings all of these elements together in her debut novel, The Return of Captain John Emmett. It's a wonderful story that sheds light on the engimatic title character, the narrator who searches for the truth about Capt. Emmett's last days, the changes in British society and what happens when people think they're doing favors by not telling the truth.

Laurence Bartram is one young officer trying to put his life back together after the year. His wife and newborn son died while he was off fighting. Back in London, he's trying to write a book but is as diffident about it as he is about everything else. He learns of the suicide of a former school mate, John Emmett, who returned from the war a broken man. John's sister wants to know more about John's final days, so she enlists Laurie's help. Since he's so obviously at loose ends, and wants to be a decent chap, he agrees to see what he can find out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: 'Baltimore: The Plague Ships'


BALTIMORE: THE PLAGUE SHIPS Vol. 1
Story by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Art by Ben Stenbeck
Colors by Dave Stewart/Letters by Clem Robins
Historical horror graphic novel
June 2011
Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 978-1595826732

Delving deeper into the story begun in Baltimore or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden bring their considerable storytelling skills to tell a cracking good ghost tale and, not coincidentally, give readers reason to care about their lonely hero.

Lord Henry Baltimore is not just a soldier in the Great War. Fate forces him to become a champion for humanity in the battle gainst Haigus, king of the vampires, after an unwanted battlefield encounter. A plague falls upon Baltimore's world that greets him in his travels and made it home from the war before he did.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: 'Shut Your Eyes Tight'

SHUT YOUR EYES TIGHT
By John Verdon
Crime fiction
July 2011
Crown
ISBN: 978-0307717894

Dave Guerney's second outing follows the same lines as his debut, Think of a Number. Guerney, a celebrated homicide detective whose wife wants him to stay retired, is tantalized by a seemingly impossible crime scene. In this case, a bridegroom enters a tiny cottage at his wedding ceremony to discover his new bride has been decapitated. It's all on videotape, yet the person who the victim went to see is never seen leaving the cottage.

Verdon's formula continues with Guerney promising his patient, passive-aggressive wife that he isn't cheating on her with his love of detection and that the quiet country life she adores is just what he wants as well. The reader knows Guerney's lying the minute he meets the psychiatric genius who was the bridegroom. He wants to step in and solve the case.