Crime Fiction: The Bigger They Come
by Erle Stanley Gardner

October 4, 2022 J. Kingston Pierce 0

(Author’s note: I originally wrote this review of Erle Stanley Gardner’s wonderful 1939 novel The Bigger They Come for The Rap Sheet back in 2009. I’m reposting it here today, because that novel has just been re-released via Otto Penzler’s American Mystery Classics imprint. The Bigger They Come is a classic that every Gardner fan — and many more of today’s crime-fiction readers — should enjoy.) 2009 is shaping up to be a year in […]

Crime Fiction: Blackout by Simon Scarrow

April 8, 2022 J. Kingston Pierce 1

I’m a huge fan of crime novels set in Europe during World War II. Although the deaths of Philip Kerr and, more recently, J. Robert Janes have lessened the supply of high-quality stories in that field, British author Simon Scarrow has stepped up with Blackout (Kensington), the top-notch opening installment in a Berlin-set series featuring Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke of the Kriminalpolizei. Like Kerr’s protagonist, Bernie Gunther, Schenke steers clear of Nazi affiliations. That makes […]

Crime Fiction: The Goodbye Coast by Joe Ide

February 12, 2022 J. Kingston Pierce 1

Let’s get one thing straight first: This is not “a Philip Marlowe novel.” Yes, that claim is made on the cover; and yes, there is a Los Angeles private eye in these pages bearing said moniker. But Joe Ide’s The Goodbye Coast (Mulholland) isn’t a Marlowe yarn in the same way as some other previous works of note. There is no intimate, first-person narration in these pages, and no indelible metaphors. Instead, this book imagines […]

Arresting Crime Fiction of 2021

December 20, 2021 J. Kingston Pierce 0

Just yesterday morning, I posted — in The Rap Sheet — my selections of a dozen favorite crime, mystery, and thriller works from 2021. But those were certainly not all of the genre books I enjoyed reading over the last year. Below are five more that were also contenders for my list. Blood Grove, by Walter Mosley (‎Mulholland): Mosley had a good thing going with his African-American series sleuth, Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, when he considered […]

Aussie Women in the Spotlight

August 1, 2021 J. Kingston Pierce 0

First came the finalists for this year’s Ned Kelly Awards. Now we have what’s being billed as the “rather long shortlist” of contenders for the 2021 Davitt Awards, organized by Sisters in Crime Australia and intended to recognize to “the best crime and mystery books by Australian women.” The Davitt Awards take their name from Ellen Davitt (1812-1879), Australia’s first crime novelist. From a total of 127 books in contention, 25—including a dozen debut novels—have […]

Two Can Play at That (Spy) Game!

July 21, 2021 J. Kingston Pierce 0

It’s not easy keeping up with Max Allan Collins’ literary production. Over the last nine months alone, that Iowa-based author has come out with Skim Deep, his ninth novel starring a professional thief known only as Nolan; what I believe is the 15th “Trash ’n’ Treasures mystery,” Antiques Carry On, penned by Collins and his wife under the joint pseudonym Barbara Allan; his sixth Caleb York western adventure, Shoot-Out at Sugar Creek (on which the […]

Crime Fiction: Moonflower Murders
by Anthony Horowitz

November 19, 2020 J. Kingston Pierce 0

Three years ago, author-screenwriter Anthony Horowitz’s Golden Age-style whodunit, Magpie Murders, won critical applause on both sides of the Atlantic. And not without ample justification. The novel introduced us to Susan Ryeland, one of the editors at a minor London publishing house, who was busily working her way through the manuscript of the ninth, and apparently concluding, entry in author Alan Conway’s best-selling mystery series starring Atticus Pünd, a 65-year-old half-Greek, half-German concentration camp survivor […]

Non-Fiction: Scoundrels and Spitballers by Philippe Garnier

November 4, 2020 J. Kingston Pierce 0

(Editor’s note: This review comes from Ben Terrall, a writer based in San Francisco, California, whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Bay View, In These Times, CounterPunch, and Noir City. Terrall last wrote for January Magazine about Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen.) Given the scary nature of pretty much everything these days (a raging pandemic amidst widespread disbelief in science; a ruling U.S. oligarchy dead set on destroying anything […]

Crime Fiction: Toward a Final Judgment

October 5, 2020 J. Kingston Pierce 0

Every fall, I start to look back more critically at the many books I’ve read over the preceding months, with an eye toward choosing the top-quality crime-fiction releases of that particular year. Although 2020 has—with its pandemic, its lockdowns and social separations, its economic woes, and its destructive deceptions spread by high political officials—been a time we’d prefer to forget, for the most part, it has at least provided diversions in the form of consuming […]

Non-Fiction: Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen

September 28, 2020 J. Kingston Pierce 0

(Editor’s note: This review comes from Ben Terrall, a writer based in San Francisco, California, whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Bay View, In These Times, CounterPunch, and Noir City. Terrall last wrote for January Magazine about The Deep End by Jason Boog.) Enough books have been published about the D.J. Trump Crime Family to fill a studio apartment. Ace investigative reporters Wayne Barrett and David Cay Johnston have […]