Crime Fiction: The Second Murderer
by Denise Mina

August 1, 2023 J. Kingston Pierce 0

Scottish crime-fictionist Denise Mina has demonstrated her versatility in recent years with modern fictional takes on historical dramas (Rizzio, Three Fires). In the vivid, crisply penned new tale, The Second Murderer (Pegasus Crime), she stretches her muscles still further, dispatching Raymond Chandler’s solitary Los Angeles gumshoe, Philip Marlowe, in search of Chrissie Montgomery, a naïve 22-year-old heiress gone missing after her engagement party. Marlowe suspects Chrissie’s repugnant father—who comes from money “so old there was […]

Fiction: Somebody’s Fool
by Richard Russo

July 26, 2023 J. Kingston Pierce 1

North Bath, the fictional upstate New York setting of Richard Russo’s “Fool” trilogy, seems to be finally and firmly on the skids in the brand-new novel Somebody’s Fool (Knopf). The town is slated for annexation by a wealthier, more liberal neighbor, Schuyler Springs. Even the local police station is being shuttered, its longtime chief, Douglas Raymer, surplussed to make room for his Black ex-employee and sometime-girlfriend, Charice Bond, at the helm of the Schuyler PD. […]

Crime Fiction: Unnatural Ends
by Christopher Huang

July 24, 2023 J. Kingston Pierce 0

Christopher Huang’s twisty new whodunit, Unnatural Ends (Inkshares), should make you feel better about your own upbringing, no matter how wretched it seemed. It’s 1921, and Sir Lawrence Linwood has been bludgeoned to death in the study of his Yorkshire manse, likely by someone he knew. His three adopted, adult, and successful children—Alan, Roger, and Caroline—return home for the funeral, only to learn of a peculiar clause in their pater’s will: the one of them […]

Crime Fiction: All the Sinners Bleed
by S.A. Cosby

June 9, 2023 J. Kingston Pierce 0

Cosby’s rise through the crime fiction firmament has been meteoric. Three years ago, he was virtually unknown, working for his wife’s Virginia funeral parlor and dreaming of literary notice. Now, after two award-winning releases — Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears — he’s just a couple of rooms shy of being a household name, his prose celebrated for its poetic undertones, the endemic violence of his plots accepted as essential to portraying the bigotry that still plagues Southern rural […]

Crime Fiction: Bloody Martini
by William Kotzwinkle

March 13, 2023 J. Kingston Pierce 0

(Editor’s note: This review comes from Steven Nester, host of Poets of the Tabloid Murder, a weekly Internet radio show heard on the Public Radio Exchange [PRX]. Nester is also a New York-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Rap Sheet, Mystery Scene and Firsts Magazine. He last wrote for January Magazine about Wallace Johnson’s 2018 non-fiction book, The Feather Thief.) American writer William Kotzwinkle won plentiful praise for his wryly humorous 2021 […]

Crime Fiction: Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction by Max Allan Collins and James L. Traylor

February 16, 2023 J. Kingston Pierce 0

“The chewing gum of American literature” is how crime novelist Mickey Spillane described his books, which typically blended eye-for-an-eye justice with risqué innuendos and granite-chinned philosophizing (“Too many times naked women and death walked side by side”). And boy, did readers eat up his fiction, making his first Mike Hammer private-eye yarn, 1947’s I, the Jury, into a best-seller that spawned a dozen sequels and turned its protagonist into a radio, film, and TV fixture. […]

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 […]