Monday, February 1, 2016

January's Best Reads

The post-Christmas book explosion was as good as I’d hoped it would be,

The Sherlock Homes Book, D.S. Davies and Barry Forshaw, editors. Detailed descriptions on not just all the Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, but insights into contemporary culture, the origins of the stories, and a listing of those who have best carried on the Holmes brand in both literature, film, and television. Great reading for any Holmes enthusiast, sure to teach you something. I thought I had all the Holmes stories, but found myself woefully short. This is why we have e-books of works in the public domain, kids.

The Hunter and Other Stories, Dashiell Hammett. A few crime stories, but a well-mixed set that shows the evolution of Hammett’s style. As with any anthology—even those with only one author—some are better than others, but there’s not a weak story in here. Highly recommended for anyone who wonders if there was more going on in Hammett’s head than Sam Spade, Ned Beaumont, and the Continental Op. There was.

The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett, Nathan Ward. This year’s Christmas and birthday season were to Hammett the way last year’s was for Steven Johnson. This is a wonderful book, a biography of Hammett’s life as it affected his crime novels. His detective background, his personal relationships, all appeared in his books in some way, and Ward has done a masterful job of linking them. Anyone interested in Hammett needs a copy of this book.

The Apex Predator, Michael Koryta. I sat next to Koryta at a Bouchercon signing table, where he told me he was getting back into crime fiction, and that he had a long story / short novella about Thor, the Russian enforcer who went up against Cleveland PI Lincoln Perry in Tonight I Said Goodbye. This is Thor’s story with Perry in a small subordinate role, and Koryta’s chops are still there. The title works on two levels. It’s a quick, inexpensive read and pieces of the action goes to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center and Tigers in America.

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