In the Mail

Blood on the Saddle by Rafael Reig

From Publishers Weekly:

The first of Reig’s acclaimed-in-Spain titles to be translated into English (and shortlisted for the Booker-like Premio Fundación Lara in 2003) is at its core a witty, thrill-a-minute detective story, but it ranges exhilaratingly across genres. The book opens with private eye Carlos Clot, hard-boiled but softhearted, being hired to sleuth out what’s going on with three women: a teenage runaway; a wife whose husband suspects her of cuckolding him; and, most quirkily, a voluptuous bombshell character missing from the pages of a western novel-in-progress by an alcoholic bestselling author; without her, he has massive writer’s block. SF elements creep in: the hyperkinetic novel is set in a vaguely futuristic Madrid, where mysteriously venal Manex Chopeitia heads a genetic-engineering firm that rules the city and, in some vague way, a U.S.-Iberian federation. Next, flashes of the classic western: Carlos’s sidekick is laconic cowpoke Spunk McCain, another escapee from that novel-in-progress. Add romance: Carlos remains wistfully but hopelessly hung up on his ex-wife, but by story’s end has fallen in love “like a schoolgirl. And with a schoolgirl.” There really aren’t enough elements of any one genre to satisfy purists, but readers of stylish metafiction should lock right in.

Day of the Scarab : Book Three of The Oracle Prophecies by Catherine Fisher

From Booklist:

The Oracle Prophecies trilogy offers a compelling story within a strongly realized fantasy world that is reminiscent of ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations. In the final volume, Fisher weaves the many strands of story into a sizable narrative tapestry. Given the large ensemble cast of characters introduced and developed throughout the series, the plotting is necessarily complex. Although keeping the many characters (some with two names) straight can be a challenge, readers absorbed by the dramatic scenes and intrigued by each new revelation will find the book a rich, resonant conclusion to the series.

Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke

From Booklist

In James Lee Burke’s novels, the past in never farther away than the ripples on the bayou outside Dave Robicheaux’s New Iberia, Louisiana, home. This time it’s Robicheaux’s dark personal history–when the detective “was still going steady with Jim Beam straight up and a beer back”–that interferes with the tranquil present for newly married Dave. When Trish Klein turns up in New Iberia, it doesn’t take long for Robicheaux to realize she is the daughter of his old friend, Dallas, who died in an armored-car robbery that Dave witnessed but was too drunk to stop. To make amends, Robicheaux must solve the several interconnected murders that track back to the man behind the armored-car hit. Everything that makes this series so compelling–the elegiac, seductively lyrical prose; the complex character of Robicheaux; the lovingly evoked bayou setting– is here in abundance, and if it doesn’t galvanize into something quite as special as the last episode, Crusader’s Cross (2005), that’s only because we’ve come to expect so much from this series. The fact remains that no serious reader of hard-boiled fiction should ever miss a moment of Dave Robicheaux in action.

The City is a Rising Tide by Rebecca Lee

From Publishers Weekly:

Early 1990s New York and 1970s Beijing intersect in the memory of Justine, who narrates her own downward spiral into an obsessive, unrequited love. Justine and co-worker Peter are, respectively, the sole staff and founder of a quasi-legitimate nonprofit quixotically attempting to build a holistic center in boom-time China. The two first met when Justine was just a child in Mao’s Beijing, and Peter was already tossing about in shadowy financial deals; she fell for him then. A self-righteous ex-boyfriend, a chorus of women friends and a concerned family all tell Justine that waiting for Peter to reciprocate her love is a masochist’s dream; a late revelation concerning Peter’s unavailability is unsustained by the wispy plot. Like Justine, this debut lacks definition, but that becomes one of its strengths: a portrait of a perceptive yet lost woman who traces her own self-destruction with the same patient helplessness with which she loves.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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