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A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell (2009)
This first novel follows an undercover crime reporter in 1931 Berlin as she searches for her brother's killer, a trail that leads from the city's dark underbelly to the top ranks of the rising Nazi party. It is one of several suspense or mystery stories set in Germany or Austria between the two world wars that I have been reading lately, and what a perfect backdrop for suspense it is!

This one is a good read and is a good mystery with a little tragedy, a little romance and some interesting history in the mix. Learn more about the author, check out the reviews at Amazon.com and read an excerpt from the book.

The Devil’s Company by David Liss

The Devil’s Company by David Liss (2009)
This is third in a series about Benjamin Weaver, a thief taker in 1720s London. Benjamin Weaver is blackmailed into working for a mysterious Mr. Cobb. The exact nature of what Benjamin is hired to do is kept a mystery even from Benjamin himself. As the plot becomes more and more complicated and more and more people seem to be embroiled in the scheme, Weaver must figure out who is working for whom and whom he can trust. A fun and rewarding adventure. You need not have read the first books in the series. I have not.

Read an excerpt from the book, check out the Washington Post review, and visit the author's website.

Twisted by Jeffery Deaver

Twisted by Jeffery Deaver (2003)
I don’t usually like short stories, but decided to read this book based on a patron’s enthusiastic recommendation. I really loved it. Within a few pages, Deaver is able to develop each story with captivating characters in stimulating situations. And, each has a twisted or surprise ending. For those who like to, or are only able to read in short spurts, this is a great find!! I’m also planning to read the follow-up, titled More Twisted.

View the author's website, preview the book, and read reviews at Amazon.com.

Still Life by Joy Fielding

Still Life by Joy Fielding (2009)
This is an interesting fictional tale about a young woman who is in a coma following a horrible hit-and-run accident. It turns out that maybe the hit-and-run wasn’t an accident at all. Very enjoyable!

Visit the author's website to read the first chapter or check out the publisher's site for a discussion guide.

High Crimes by Joseph Finder

High Crimes by Joseph Finder (1998)
Claire Heller Chapman – a high-powered attorney and Harvard law professor – is shocked when a quiet dinner with her husband, Tom, and her daughter ends with Tom being chased by and eluding FBI agents. When he is apprehended, Tom is accused of committing a heinous crime during his stint in the Army’s Special Forces thirteen years ago.

As Claire prepares to defend Tom in a military court, she uncovers government conspiracies that touch all levels of military brass. Her diligence may cost Claire her reputation and her life – and the hits just keep coming. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, you’re in for another surprise, right up till the very last page.

Preview the book, meet the author on YouTube and visit the author's website for reviews and more. Also check out the movie based on the book, starring Ashely Judd and Morgan Freeman.

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell (2009)
Hannah Vogel is a crime reporter in Berlin in 1931. While visiting the police for news tips, she sees a photograph of her brother's dead body on the wall of the unknown dead. For reasons of her own, Hannah does not tell the police about her brother but investigates her brother's death herself, putting her own life in jeopardy. This is one of the current crop of books that uses Germany between the two world wars as the setting for a crime novel.

Watch the trailer and read more about the author. Check out the reviews at Amazon.com.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (2009)
Libby Day was seven when she testified that her brother murdered their family in a brutal rampage. Years later, she begins to question her recollection and sets out to uncover the truth. A can't-put-down read!

Listen to the author talk about her first book Sharp Objects, read reviews at Amazon.com and visit the author's website.

The Two Mrs. Grenvilles by Dominick Dunne

The Two Mrs. Grenvilles by Dominick Dunne (1985)
This novel was inspired by the sensational Woodward murder case of 1955 in which a well-born society figure, William Woodward, was shot by his actress/showgirl wife.

In the novel, showgirl Ann Arden marries wealthy Billy Grenville hoping to be accepted by high society and become the well-bred woman of her fantasies. To do this, she must contend with the disapproval of her patrician mother-in-law, Alice. Ann's rag-to-riches ascent into New York society comes to a halt when she shoots and kills her husband, claiming she thought he was a burglar. The newspapers call it "the shooting of the century." Alice has no doubts her son was deliberately killed. The Grenvilles and their high-society friends draw a protective shield across the tragedy, and, as a result, the two Mrs. Grenvilles become bound together in a conspiracy of silence.

Read the reviews at Amazon.com and visit the author's website.

Vertical Run by Joseph Garber

Vertical Run by Joseph Garber (1995)
This is not a new book, but it’s still a great read! I found it hard to put down, with fast-paced, nonstop action and suspense. It’s a thriller about a man trapped in a Manhattan office tower where he works. Upon his early arrival to work one day, he quickly discovers that nearly everyone he encounters, including his boss, is trying to kill him. The plot centers on his attempts to determine why these people want him dead and to do everything in his power – especially using techniques learned during his combat experiences in Vietnam – to save himself.

The main character's sense of humor and the flashbacks to his days in Vietnam really add to the appeal of this story.

Read a review at Amazon.com and visit FantasticFiction to see other books by the author.

Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein

Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein (2009)
Set amid the treasures of the New York Public Library, Linda Fairstein gives us a fascinating glimpse into the history of the NYPL including its start as a scholarly research facility that housed rare books, documents, and maps. What I enjoyed, besides the mystery itself, was learning about the curators, cartographers, conservators, special librarians and rare, priceless donations still housed in the building. It was very cool that librarians with their special knowledge, background and expertise were crucial in helping the police solve the mystery.

Go to the author's website and watch the video tour of the NYPL before you read the book! Read an excerpt from the book and check out Harlan Coben's review plus others at Amazon.com.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (2008)
The novel tells the story of a present day 19th wife, Becky Lyn, who is accused of murdering her husband. Her son, Jordan Scott, comes to her rescue even though he was banished from the polygamous sect at fourteen. He perseveres to find the true killer and save his mother from a disastrous fate.

The author also tells the parallel story of the real Ann Eliza Young, the nineteenth wife of Brigham Young. She was known as the "rebel wife" because she divorced her husband, wrote two autobiographies (the first of which help put pressure on the Mormon community to outlaw polygamy) and gave lectures on the evil ways of a polygamous life.

Histories intertwine, stories are told, and the deep psychological complexities of polygamy are examined in a very entertaining work of fiction. Visit the author’s website to get links to interviews and podcasts with the author, background information, discussion questions, and an excerpt.

For a lighter take on the subject, watch HBO’s television series Big Love, which follows a Salt Lake City man and his three wives. For a true account, check out Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife by Irene Spencer.

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard (2008)
Twenty years after the horrors of the French Revolution, sometimes medical student Hector Carpenter is minding his own, rather aimless, business, when the mysterious Vidocq involves him in the search for the missing (or dead) lost Dauphin. Vidocq, a real life police detective and founder of the Brigade de Sûreté, leads his young friend through dangerous escapades through the French countryside and Paris until they find the truth about the lost Dauphin. Or do they?

Visit the author's website, read reviews at Amazon.com and check out the reading guide for the book.

Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins

Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins (1998)
Michael O’ Sullivan is a soldier who served in the U.S. Army during WWI. During Prohibition, O’Sullivan provides for his family by working as a ruthless but honorable enforcer for the Looney crime family. His nickname is “The Angel of Death.” When O' Sullivan's oldest boy, Michael, witnesses a murder committed by the crime boss and his son, the Looney family kills O’Sullivan’s wife and other son. But Sr. and Jr. O' Sullivan escape, hitting the road to Perdition, Kansas, where the boy's aunt and uncle live. Along the way, “The Angel of Death” exacts his revenge on the Looneys.

The graphic novel is stylishly drawn by the English artist Richard Piers Rayner in black and white Noir style, which suits the O’Sullivans’ travels through the Depression-era Midwest. The graphic novel was made into a movie by the same name. There is more going on than just the usual violence; it is a story about fathers and sons, a familiar story of family, loss and revenge.

Check out the reviews at Amazon.com and read a Time magazine article about the graphic novel.

A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock

A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock (2008)
This novel will jar your perspective of legalese, presenting new twists and turns. Peacock invents a plausible plot that takes place mostly in the seediest part of Brooklyn. The story unfolds through the eyes of a young male attorney. He is mentored by a young female attorney, who plunges him into her high profile murder case. Wow. Step by step, the reader follows the process of the preparation for trial, the trial, and the aftermath of the trial. The conclusion is the final twist of ironic justice.

Read an inteview with the author and view reviews at Amazon.com.

Final Theory by Mark Alpert

Final Theory by Mark Alpert (2008)
Albert Einstein’s colleagues are being killed by someone trying to discover his long-hidden theory. A science historian receives a key from one of the dying men. To unlock the key, he encounters one puzzle, which leads him to another puzzle. He’s trying to solve the mystery while running for his life. This suspenseful novel is a good read-alike for people who like The Da Vinci Code.

View the author's YouTube video about his book and read the New York Times review.