Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

The Big Book of Reel Murders: Stories That Inspired Great Crime Films

Edited by Otto Penzler. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $28.95 trade paper (1200p) ISBN 978-0-525-56388-4

Movie and mystery buffs alike will savor Penzler’s ninth Big Book anthology (after 2018’s The Big Book of Female Detectives), which includes more than 60 stories that were adapted for the screen. The selections include both the usual suspects, such as Conan Doyle and Cornell Woolrich, and surprising ones, such as Budd Schulberg. Schulberg’s 1954 short story, “Murder on the Waterfront,” was the inspiration for the Oscar-winning Marlon Brando vehicle On the Waterfront, and his crisp screenplay dialogue is mirrored by gritty noir prose (“The police department had made contact with Runt, by means of a grappling hook probing the soft, rotten bottom of the river”). Unsurprisingly, most of the source material was changed significantly for the movies, such as Robert Bloch’s “The Real Bad Friend,” which morphed into the novel Psycho, before being made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. Spoiler-averse readers may want to defer delving into Penzler’s informative and insightful introductions for each entry, which give away plot developments in both the story and film adaptations. Penzler’s scholarship and expertise enable him to both expose modern audiences to now-obscure talent such as Charlotte Armstrong, represented by “The Enemy,” and to the origins of classic films such as Bad Day at Black Rock. This will be a welcome addition to many libraries. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Egyptian Antiquities Murder

Sara Rosett. McGuffin Ink, $13.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-9988-4318-6

In Rosett’s lively third High Society Lady Detective mystery set in 1920s England (after Murder at Blackburn Hall), Olive Belgrave, who was once an unemployed gentlewoman but is now a full-fledged private investigator, is summoned to London’s upscale Mayfair neighborhood by Lady Agnes, whose uncle, Lord Mulvern, an “eminent Egyptologist and possessor of a cache of mummies,” died a month earlier. A brief note the uncle left behind suggests he was driven to suicide by a mummy’s curse. Unfortunately, the tabloids are still cranking out scandalous stories with headlines such as “Mummy haunts Mayfair town house.” Over tea, Lady Agnes tells Olive, “I want you to get to the bottom of this curse nonsense... Oh, I don’t want you to debunk the curse. I want you to prove Uncle Lawrence was murdered.” Suspects abound. Olive’s good friend, clever Jasper Rimington, is on hand to serve as a sounding board and to provide a bit of backup. A good plot, elegant prose, and a charming narrative voice all add up to a winner. Readers will eagerly await Olive’s next adventure. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Coached to Death

Victoria Laurie. Kensington, $26 (340p) ISBN 978-1-4967-2033-7

Catherine “Cat” Cooper, the narrator of this superior series launch from bestseller Laurie (the Psychic Eye mysteries), embarks on a new career as a life coach in East Hampton, Long Island, after selling her marketing firm for $50 million—and her husband of 16 years leaves her for another woman. To Cat’s dismay, her first client, Erma Kirkland, “a mess both financially and socially,” admits she’s been skipping car payments in order to afford Cat’s services. At least Erma is friendly, in contrast to Cat’s neighbor, Heather Holland, who keeps complaining to the town board about the construction of Cat’s new house. When Heather is found with her head bashed in by a crystal punch bowl owned by Cat, Det. Steve Shepherd of the East Hampton PD regards Cat as the chief suspect. Aided by her best friend, Gilley Gillespie, Cat sets out to find the real culprit. A mysterious new tenant in Cat’s office building, Maks Grinkov, adds some romantic heat, and Cat’s AI butler, Sebastian, serves as an unusual supporting player. Cozy fans will embrace this intelligent heroine with plenty of backbone. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret, Literary Management. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Robert B. Parker’s Angel Eyes

Ace Atkins. Putnam, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-53682-6

Bestseller Atkins’s routine eighth Spenser novel (after 2018’s Old Black Magic) takes Robert B. Parker’s PI from his native Boston to Hollywood, in search of 23-year-old Gabby Leggett, an aspiring actress whose mother grew concerned after not hearing from her for over a week. Spenser is aided by old friend and colleague Zebulon “Z” Sixkill, who’s filling in for Hawk as Spenser’s partner and muscle. The pair pursue obvious leads from Gabby’s personal life, including questioning her former boyfriend and current agent, Eric Collinson, who’s less than cooperative and denies having any knowledge of her whereabouts. Her latest lover, Jimmy Yamashiro, the president and CEO of a major movie studio, won’t disclose Gabby’s current location, but reveals that she’s been trying to blackmail him. Before long, Spenser and Z are menaced by the requisite gun-toting thugs, and Spenser must call in another old ally for help. It takes a while for Gabby’s fate to be disclosed, a reveal that’s neither original nor surprising. This by-the-numbers effort will appeal most to Parker devotees. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Zen and the Art of Murder

Oliver Bottini, trans. from the German by Jamie Bulloch. Dover, $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-486-83918-9

German author Bottini’s uneven first in his Black Forest series introduces German police detective Louise Boni, who’s been traumatized by an earlier case and otherwise has a host of personal problems, including alcoholism. When an Asian monk appears outside Freiburg, bruised, battered, and terrified, the xenophobic police decide to monitor him at first, until they realize somebody is chasing him. After one of Boni’s colleagues is shot dead and another wounded, she’s placed on leave, though she continues to pursue the case, uncovering a connection to a Buddhist monastery just across the French border. Links emerge to a horrifying adoption and child trafficking operation, and Boni becomes a target for the culprits. Even as she grapples with the investigation, her wary colleagues, and her own demons, something is awakened in Boni that provides a surprisingly meditative, spiritual component to her quests. The epilogue offers a measure of hope. Though the choppy style makes for slow going, the action picks up as the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together. American readers will find little that’s new. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Killing Quarry

Max Allan Collins. Hard Case Crime, $9.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-78565-945-4

MWA Grand Master Collins’s irresistible 15th Quarry novel (after 2017’s Quarry’s Climax) finds the professional assassin with a target on his own back. But why? Quarry is operating Wilma’s Welcome Inn in Geneva, Wis., as his “straight” occupation. But once he narrowly escapes an attempt on his life, Quarry joins forces with another killer-for-hire, the beautiful Lu, whom he worked with 10 years earlier. It’s Lu’s presence, and the dash of romance she brings, that really energizes this entry. Every bit Quarry’s equal with a gun and a bit beyond him in the intellect department, Lu saves his bacon more than once. Collins maintains a tension between the two that’s resolved only on the final page. One of the book’s great pleasures is the humorless Quarry’s deadpan narration, whether he’s describing a pragmatic sexual encounter or exactly how a carefully planned hit can suddenly go off the rails. Newcomers and established fans alike will be happily drawn into Quarry’s cold-blooded criminal world. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Sight Unseen

Graham Hurley. Severn, $29.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8919-5

At the start of British author Hurley’s meandering sequel to Curtain Call, London-based actress Enora Andressen receives a hysterical call from her 18-year-old son, Malo. He tells her that his girlfriend Clemenza, the daughter of “a very wealthy Colombian business tycoon,” has been kidnapped, and Malo has been told to come up with $1 million in a few days if he wants to see Clemenza again. This revelation is followed by a long, slow trek through Enora’s backstory—illegitimate son, disintegrating first marriage, menacingly proprietorial and mega-wealthy former lover, brain cancer surgery, and much more—thus diminishing any storytelling urgency. Enora calls Hayden Prentice, “one-time drug baron” and Malo’s father, who in turn calls Clemenza’s father, who flies in from Bogotá ready to deal with the kidnappers. Most of the action sequences are reported to Enora, whose involvement consists mainly of careening from one absurd situation to another. This is for fans of British soap opera. It won’t satisfy readers looking for thrills or a convincing and sympathetic female protagonist. Agent: Oli Munson, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Ninja Daughter

Tori Eldridge. Agora, $16.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-947993-69-3

Set in Los Angeles, Eldridge’s wild ride of a first novel marries Kill Bill with Killing Eve. Lily Wong, who has secretly become a ninja, has dedicated herself to protecting women since her sister’s murder. First, she must stop a Ukrainian gangster, Dmitry Romanko, from abusing his wife and son, and return them to the safety of a shelter for abused women. Second, Lily takes on the enigmatic thug J Tran, who has created a scandal by publicly assaulting cocktail waitress Mia Mikkelson. Mia fears he’ll return to kill her. After Lily witnesses Tran fatally stab two men on a Koreatown street, she learns that the brazen killer hides a lot of secrets, including some that point to several more bodies, notably including 20-year-old Julie Stanton, the mayor’s goddaughter, who recently died in an apparent hiking accident. Lily eventually identifies a villain behind Julie’s death worse than any she’s previously encountered. Readers will want to see more of the feisty Lily. Eldridge expertly mines both domestic suspense and action thriller. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Flying Boat Mystery

Franco Vailati, trans. from the Italian by Igor Longo. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-686782-85-5

How can a man disappear from a locked bathroom on a plane in mid-flight? That’s the mind-bending puzzle at the heart of Italian author Vailati’s stellar mystery, originally published in 1935 and translated into English for the first time. After a flying boat departs Rome for Palermo, a passenger, banker Francesco Agliati, enters the small restroom and locks the door. A half hour later, when another person tries to use the facilities, the door is still locked; upon landing, the police break the door in, only to find no one inside. The investigation falls to Assistant Commissioner Luigi Renzi, who enlists the help of an old journalist friend who was also onboard the flight. Every alternative seems impossible, given that the bathroom’s only openings are the door and a skylight too small for Agliati to have fitted through. An afterword by the translator provides a concise survey of the history of the impossible crime story in Italy. Golden age fans will be delighted by the baffling crime and the logical and plausible solution. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Ghost of the Bamboo Road: A Hiro Hattori Mystery

Susan Spann. Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-63388-550-9

In Spann’s atmospheric, meticulously researched seventh mystery set in 16th-century Japan (after 2018’s Trial on Mount Koya), master ninja Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit friend, Fr. Mateo Ávila de Santos, set out with the priest’s irascible housekeeper for a desolate mountain village on a mission to find a female ninja and warn her that she’s in danger. Stopping at an inn for the night, they find themselves immersed in a family drama. It’s the anniversary of the death of Riko, the innkeeper Noboru’s sister, and Ishiko, their mother, is on her way to leave an offering at Riko’s grave. In the morning, Ishiko is found dead, and the villagers are convinced that Riko’s ghost, who has been blamed for other deaths, is the culprit. “Vengeful spirits did not kill this woman,” Hiro says. “She was strangled.” His investigations immerse readers in Japanese culture and history, greatly enhancing the nicely plotted mystery. Spann also slips in and swiftly defines Japanese words without breaking the narrative flow. Historical mystery fans will be well satisfied. Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/20/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.