Tag Archives: crime fiction

Crime fiction, here and there, cozy and not, on page and screen

Roberta Isleib by Carol Tedesco.jpg

Lucy Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib. Photo by Carol Tedesco

I recently interviewed Lucy Burdette, who is really Roberta Isleib, who lives in Key West and writes the Key West Food Critic Mysteries. The seventh installment in the series, Killer Takeout, publishes on April 5.

It’s a “cozy” mystery, which means no blood or sex on the page, as Roberta tells me during the interview. Not my usual thing but I enkiller takeout coverjoyed her book, which is set in the run-up to Fantasy Fest … with a hurricane bearing down. It didn’t even give me too much of a Wilma flashback. I especially admired how she addressed the tensions among Conchs, yearround locals and snowbird socialites. That’s a large — and growing — aspect of life down here, at least from my perspective.

At the same time, my husband and I have been watching the second season of Bosch on Amazon Prime (no spoilers, please — we’re only halfway through). I liked the first season fine but the second one is much better. The best part is that I haven’t read any of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books. Most of my crime fiction reading is


Titus Welliver plays Harry Bosch.

historical and just about all of my contemporary crime fiction reading has been set in Florida (Carl Hiaasen, James Hall, et. al.). But now I’ve got the first Bosch book, The Black Echo, on order from the library.

And I feel like I’m primed for L.A., not only by watching the TV show — which manages to make L.A. look fairly attractive, probably because nobody on there ever spends time stuck in traffic — but also because I just finished Shaker by Scott Frank. I read a short story about it in Entertainment Weekly and my most exshakercellent local library already had a copy. Frank is a screenwriter and this is a first novel – my opinion has been that screenwriters write excellent thrillers and crime fiction because they know how to move a plot along, as well as how to write dialogue. This one bolsters my theory and is also an excellent option for people who are jonesing for Elmore Leonard now that the master has left us. Frank wrote the screenplays for Out of Sight and Get Shorty and it shows, though he doesn’t really have Leonard’s funny vein. He’s not trying to be funny, though, so that’s cool.


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Filed under book reviews, crime, fiction, Key West Library, recommended reading, small screen, Uncategorized

Girls, Gone and On Trains

I finally got around to reading The Girl On The Train — I feel less obliged to occasionally read hot bestsellers now than I did when I worked at the library. But I still like to keep up with the zeitgeist, at least with a book that I might like anyway.

And I’m a little predisposed to root for books by female crime fiction writers, because feminism and also because I was so impressed with our all-star lineup from the 2014 Key West Literary SeminarGirl on train cover.jpg (Lippman! Flynn! Abbott! Locke! Nunn! Faye! Gerritsen! George!).

It took me two tries to really get into The Girl On The Train and I found it harder to read, generally, than Gone Girl. The two have been frequently compared and not just for the overlap in the titles. Both feature alternating, unreliable narrators and a wife gone MIA. And I must say the finales of both strain plausibility. But these are crime thrillers.

I found Girl On The Train’s narrators are much more difficult — by which I mean uncomfortable — heads to live inside. Rachel is a mess and Megan is a pain in the ass, at least initially. Both of Gillian Flynn’s narrators in Gone Girl, Nick and Amy, had problems but both were attractive or maybe charismatic in some weird way. At least to me.

I stuck with Girl On The Train the second time, though, and I’m glad I did. Both because I got to find out who did it, and because now I’ve read the book before it becomes a big deal with the movie. And I will admit that after I finished it resonated for me a little more than Gone Girl. Not enough for a full blown book hangover, where I can’t really get into another book because my head is still in the last one. But more than I expected.



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Filed under crime, recommended reading, Uncategorized

Dissing Obedience — and calling for recommendations

I need to read more contemporary crime fiction. I especially need to read more by Americans. It’s a hugely popular genre and a lot of people I respect read a lot of it. But for some reason it has never reached me.

I have, in recent years, been edging closer. Through my extended historical fiction kick I’ve started reading quite a few historical mysteries — particularly those set in Tudor and medieval England but with a foray or two into the ancient Roman world. There are a couple contemporary crime writers I adore, snapping up their new releases as soon as they come out. But they’re both Brits: Kate Atkinson and P.D. James. I’ve tentatively explored the white-hot area of Scandinavian crime fiction: Stieg Larsson, Asa Larsson, Kjell Erickson. I like it but not enough so I obsess about when the next installment is arriving (good thing in the case of Stieg Larsson, right?).

But I want to know what’s happening around here so recently I’ve assigned myself some reading in current crime fiction. Unfortunately my assignment was a disappointment. I was intrigued enough by Will Lavender’s Obedience to suggest we order it when I worked at the FKCC Library (we did). Then I recently saw Lavender’s piece on Salon about coming to terms with writing genre, rather than literary, fiction — I like the contrarian, anti-elitist position as a rule and I agree that a lot of fiction that gets relegated to the genre ghetto is better crafted than a lot of the productions coming out of the MFA factories. Atkinson and James are prime examples, and I enjoy and admire the historical series written by C.J. Sansom (Matthew Shardlake), P.F. Chisholm (who is actually Patricia Finney, writing about Sir Robert Carey), Ruth Downie (Medicus) and Sharon Kay Penman (who when she’s not writing massive tomes about the Plantagenets has a mystery series set in the same period featuring a character named Justin de Quincy who serves Eleanor of Acquitaine).

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Filed under fiction, recommended reading