Simon Brett Mysteries

Eastbourne Pier

Charles Paris is painfully aware he's not a successful actor. Or husband. Or much of anything else, except sleuth. In his latest novel in this long-running series, Simon Brett puts Charles through his paces with a collection of murders during the Christmas pantomime season in The Cinderella Killer. Kenny Polizzi is a big-name actor from the […]

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Comic Book Literature

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If you liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, especially how it reads like a comic book in the form of a literary novel and how it deals with big questions, I have two other books that may appeal. In Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, Doctor Impossible has gotten bored of imprisonment […]

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Building a Mystery, Part II: Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan 3

The question that concerns many of the faithful and skeptics alike is, who was Jesus, really? Reza Aslan attempts to answer that question in Zealot. Tellingly, the subtitle is "The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." This is because we have so little outside of the gospels to go on for Jesus' life. Part of […]

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Ladies of Dagenham, Unite!

We_Can_Do_It!

Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) is nothing out of the ordinary, working at the Ford factory and raising her children with her husband in their blue-collar suburb of London in 1968.  O'Grady works in the all-female section of the plant sewing seat covers, along with 146 other women. What starts out as a dispute over job designation grows into […]

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The Problem With Virtue

farthing

Often when I read historical fiction, it seems that the 21st-Century world view is imported with the characters.  No more is this true than with the themes of sex and religion.  Fortunately, Marci Jefferson manages to avoid this pitfall in Girl on the Golden Coin. Young Frances Stuart, the protagonist, wishes only to make a good […]

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Hellenga and his Women

Galesburg

I picked up The Confessions of Frances Godwin by Robert Hellenga not entirely sure what to expect, but I thought a book in which a woman has conversations with God had to be at least somewhat interesting. I liked it even more than I thought I would. Frances does indeed talk to God (and He answers her back, […]

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Laughs Across America

American Road

Filmmaker John Waters has made a career as the Prince of Perversion; however, I have always found his movies rather wholesome in their own way. Unfortunately, investment in independent directors like Waters has gone the way of the real estate boom. This means that Waters has had to come up with other ways of funding his films. Role Models (2010) is […]

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Walter Mosley, Philosopher

Walter Mosley 2

While Walter Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series, he has written some excellent stand-alone fiction as well. I just finished The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey on audio and loved it. Ptolemy Grey is 91, and slipping into dementia in his cluttered apartment. Robyn, not exactly a relative, but not exactly not, cares for Ptolemy […]

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Building a Mystery

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How did Jesus, an itinerant preacher with a few followers in a Roman backwater, become God? As Bart Ehrman in How Jesus Became God posits, there are two answers to this question. One is the spiritual, and the other is the history of the spiritual. Ehrman, a former Christian fundamentalist, is very upfront about his agnosticism but makes […]

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Negotiation Tips from the Undersecretary for Thugs

Bill Richardson

Whatever you make of Bill Richardson's politics, he can tell a good story and seems to enjoy it immensely. In fact, How to Sweet-talk A Shark seems to be less the book on negotiating techniques it claims to be and more an excuse to tell some hilarious and hair-raising tales from Richardson's time in public service. That said, […]

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