by Lawrence Block
Mulholland Books – May 2011
336 pages; $25.99

“I put in my papers not long after a stray bullet of mine killed a young girl in Washington Heights. That incident didn’t cause my resignation from the department, any more than it caused the end of my marriage, but it would be accurate to say it precipitated both of those events, and left me with something to spend the next several years drinking about.” -Matthew Scudder

Matthew Scudder finds himself a long way away from his previous life. Gone is the detective position he once held; the wife and family; and the house on Long Island. All casualties of his drinking way of life. Now Scudder is living in a hotel room in the city; working as an unlicensed P.I. to make ends meet; and diligently working at staying sober – thanks to his effort and commitment with AA.

While attending AA, Scudder meets a former friend from his boyhood days in the Bronx – Jack Ellery . Ellery, who’s nicknamed “High-Low Jack”, has led a very different life from Scudder’s. A lifelong criminal, Ellery has somewhat recently found sobriety following a prison stay.

“The Bronx was a long time ago,
and we’d taken very different paths since then,
even if we’d managed to wind up in the same place.”
-Scudder on meeting Ellery

Scudder and Ellery begin to reconnect. A former criminal and former cop united by their shared sobriety. While working on his 8th step (make amends to those you’ve hurt), Ellery is found murdered. With little evidence, and Jack being a career criminal with a drinking problem, his case doesn’t garner much attention from the police. With the urging of Jack’s sponsor, and a personal interest in Jack’s death, Scudder takes on his investigative role to find Jack’s killer. A role that will test Scudder’s sobriety and lead to more deaths.

Block’s detailed writing creates some enjoyable characters and reading. A quick and enjoyable read, Block skillfully brings his characters’ to life and their New York City surroundings, creating an engaging experience. The intricacies of AA; the mind of an addict; personal relationships; and good old-fashioned police work are brilliantly exposed in Block’s writing. Mystery fans will love A Drop of the Hard Stuff.

This is the 17th Scudder novel by Block.

For more information on A Drop of the Hard Stuff, please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316127332.htm

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TABLOID CITY – Pete Hamill


by Pete Hamill
Little, Brown and Company – May 2011
288 pages; $26.99

Pete Hamill’s new book, Tabloid City, can best be described as a multilayered story that is at times somber, unexpected, and always exciting. Hamill has really shown the artistic side of writing with his characters. Reminiscent of a sculptor creating a piece of art, Hamill’s characters are so well crafted they each make an indelible mark on the reader’s mind. Characters whose voices are so distinctly individual they resonates with the reader long after the book is finished.

Tabloid City is a twenty-four hour snapshot of a cold January day in New York City. A murder of a wealthy socialite and her secretary; a jihadist Muslim; a revenge seeking veteran; a struggling Mexican family; and a newspaper struggling to adjust to the digital age, are all masterfully intertwined in Hamill’s writing. In addition to the story’s seamless weaving, Hamill has created a stunning portrait of New York City’s atmosphere. Right down to the city streets, sounds, and sights, the reader is instantly entrenched in Hamill’s New York City.

Hamill’s stunning writing; moving and thought-provoking characters and story, will no doubt cement Tabloid City as one of the best books of 2011.

Tabloid City has something for everyone. Fans of literary fiction, contemporary fiction, mystery/suspense, and just plain great writing and story telling will eagerly devour and enjoy this book.

For more information on Tabloid City please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316020756.htm

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by Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books – May 2011
384 pages; $25.00

While attending the funeral of his father, Alex Miller meets, for the first time, Michael Ohlig – a long time friend of his parents. During this first meeting, Ohlig requests Miller to represent him in an upcoming securities fraud case he and his company are facing. Agreeing to represent Ohlig, Miller takes on a case that will forever change his life.

While working on Ohlig’s case, Miller begins to question the character of his client. In the legal world where the murky line between guilt and innocence is not so clear, Miller expertly crafts the plan to save Ohlig from a life behind bars. As one of the partners at a prestigious law firm, Miller assembles a staff to help mount Ohlig’s defense. One of the firms up and comers, Abigail Sloane, is selected as Miller’s assistant.

Sloane is a beautiful, hard-working, rising star at Miller’s firm. The nature of a case such as Ohlig’s requires Sloane and Miller to spend many hours working together. While Miller’s marriage is somewhat stagnant, coupled with the amount of time he is spending with Sloane, the inevitable happens and Miller succumbs to his urges and sleeps with Sloane.

While defending Ohlig, Miller receives word that his mother has died suddenly. The untimely death begins a second thrilling story line in Mitzner’s book. This second story line is full of betrayals, personal conflicts and struggles that will have Miller’s life spiraling out of control, and the reader anxiously turning pages.

A Conflict of Interest is Mitzner’s first book. A practicing NYC attorney, Mitzner no doubt draws on his legal experience to create a fast-paced legal thrill ride that’s full of twists and turns. Mitzner’s descriptive and informative writing style is a pleasure to read and will surely cement him solidly into the world of legal thriller writers.

For more information on A Conflict of Interest please visit the publisher’s website at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Conflict-of-Interest/Adam-Mitzner/9781439157510

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A HARD DEATH – Jonathan Hayes


by Jonathan Hayes
HarperCollins – April 2011
416 pages; $24.99

After being fired from his position as a NYC medical examiner, Dr. Edward Jenner finds himself in Douglas County Florida working as a medical examiner in the seaside town of Port Fontaine. A usually quiet community, Jenner is out running one day when he stumbles onto some police activity where a sunken car is found in the swamp. Examining the car, two badly decomposed bodies are found setting into motion the tone for things to come.

Acting on a tip, Jenner is dispatched to the Everglades swamp to where more bodies are said to be. Once the island is found, four more bodies are discovered and things heat up as Jenner starts to identify the single thread that seems to have these murders connected.

An interesting point about this book is that the reader is taken through the case from a forensic pathologist’s point of view. In fact Hayes’s other job, when not writing books, is as a medical examiner for the city of New York. From the murder scenes to the morgue this novel is excitingly told from Jenner’s unique point of view.

The discovery of a seventh body brings the investigation to a fevered pitch. With tempers and emotions high, corrupt allegiances, and the national spotlight on Port Fontaine, Jenner becomes even more intimately involved. An involvement that will leave him fighting for his life.

A Hard Death starts strong and doesn’t let up. Action packed, the pages fly by as the reader is treated to memorable characters, dangerous situations, and a story that is sure to capture the attention of any mystery lover.

A Hard Death is the second “Jenner” novel by Jonathan Hayes. The first, Precious Blood, was published by HarperCollins in 2007.

For more information on A Hard Death please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/A-Hard-Death-Jonathan-Hayes?isbn=9780061691768&HCHP=TB_A+Hard+Death

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DON’T BREATHE A WORD – Jennifer McMahon


by Jennifer McMahon
Harper – May 2011
464 pages; $14.99

New York Times best-selling author Jennifer McMahon’s (Island of Lost Girls, Promise Not to Tell) new novel can best be described as a suspenseful thriller complete with a psychotic fairy tale and a heart pounding ending.

The story begins with the disappearance of twelve-year-old Lisa Nazzaro fifteen years ago. A girl who has become obsessed with the remains of the long-deserted Vermont town of Reliance. Little remains of the town save for some foundations and a cemetery, yet it is the subject of many stories and local folklore. Spending much time at Reliance, Lisa starts to mention that the place is home to fairies and soon the fairies become a central theme to Lisa’s life. Giving and receiving gifts from the fairies and trying to convince her older brother and cousin of the fact that the fairies are indeed real and not some story she’s making up.

One night, in an attempt to communicate with the fairies, Lisa leaves home to venture to Reliance only this time she doesn’t return. Fifteen years pass and Lisa’s older brother Sam is now in a relationship with a woman named Phoebe. When Sam’s cousin resurfaces after many years of being estranged Sam and Phoebe find themselves thrust into the world of fairies once again, along with a new fervent search for Lisa. This development takes the reader on a fast, gripping journey into what is a thrilling, sometimes dark, and definitely emotionally engaging story.

McMahon does a wonderful job at creating a character that is beautifully naïve and appropriately innocent in Lisa. Her writing style, along with the book’s structure, keeps the action fast paced and the reader wanting more. Don’t Breathe A Word is a haunted thrill ride masquerading in part as a fairy tale.

Suspense fans will find this book hard to put down. For more information on Don’t Breathe A Word please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Dont-Breathe-a-Word-Jennifer-McMahon?isbn=9780061689376&HCHP=TB_Don+t+Breathe+a+Word

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by Ted Dekker
Center Street Books – April 2011
368 pages; $24.95

Growing up in a small Bosnian village Danny Hansen dreamed of one day being a Catholic priest. During the country’s civil war, a young Danny Hansen witnessed the brutal murders of his mother and two sisters. Fueled by his hatred for the people who committed this crime against his family, Hansen joins the Bosnian militia in order to avenge their deaths. Following his time in the militia Hansen immigrated to the US to become a priest.

Once a priest, Fr. Hansen dedicates his life to ridding society from its most evil people. As a vigilante priest, Hansen feels his actions are not only warranted but are for the greater good of all. This character combination makes for some pretty intense situations, and equally enjoyable reading.

Renee Gilmore is a young, suffering, heroin addict. Attempting to escape a dangerous situation, Renee is rescued by her would be guardian angel. A seeming knight in shining armor, he nurses Renee to health and ultimately they fall in love. When Renee’s knight fails to return home one day she knows something terrible has happened to him. Vowing to avenge his death, Renee seeks to find the persons responsible and deliver her own form of justice.

When Fr. Hansen and Renee Gilmore’s paths cross, after Renee finds herself being rescued from another dangerous situation, a friendship forms that has vigilante justice at its core. Hanson and Gilmore grow close with Renee becoming a student of Hansen’s vigilante justice. This friendship will take them on a path of heart pounding danger that is an absolute thrill ride for the reader.

Dekker’s writing is restrained and not gritty in the way many mystery or thriller type stories are. This might go against the grain of many typical thriller type stories, but Dekker proves that good story telling can be thrilling, edge of your seat entertainment without the added grit. The Priest’s Graveyard certainly lives up to Center Street’s publishing model that they “publish wholesome entertainment, helpful encouragement, and books of traditional values that appeal to readers in America.”

An absolutely engaging page turner, The Priest’s Graveyard will appeal to mystery and thriller lovers alike.

For more information on The Priest’s Graveyard, or Center Street Books, please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.centerstreet.com.

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by Lidia Yuknavitch
Hawthorne Books – April 2011
310 pages; $15.95

Writer and university professor Lidia Yuknavitch’s life hasn’t been easy. In a lot of ways it has been about just keeping her head above water and letting the chips fall where they may.

The Chronology of Water is a memoir unlike anything I have ever read. This book is a living breathing work of art. A completely absorbing visceral experience.

From a young age, Lidia immersed herself in the sport of competitive swimming. An Olympic hopeful, her talents ultimately took her to college on a scholarship, and away from home. A home that was filled with fear and abuse at the hands of her father and complacent alcoholic mother. The years of abuse she suffered, her growing up, her fear, her relationships, her self-destructive actions, her human and artistically spiritual growth are all brilliantly captured in this book.

The Chronology of Water is gritty, raw, and alive with emotion. It is impossible for the reader to not experience a whole series of emotions when devouring this intimate look at Lidia’s life. The use of water as a metaphor – for everything from life, death, safety, beauty – coupled with the uniquely structured telling of her life’s story, will have the reader intellectually engaged until the very end of this book.

In the end, after your emotions have endured a full and brutal workout, this book will leave you hopeful and inspired. I guarantee you’ve never read anything like this.

For more information on The Chronology of Water, please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.hawthornebooks.com/catalogue/#33

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