On the strength of enthusiastic comments on What Should I Read Next?, I picked up Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce. I haven’t read anything by her before, but saw some raves for two of her previous books,… Read More


Quite by chance, I ended up reading two books in a row about missing persons. The first was Force of Nature, by Jane Harper, one of her Aaron Falk series, and the second was Liane Moriarty’s latest, Apples… Read More

Murder in Alaska

I just finished the first two Kate Shugak mysteries by Dana Stabenow—A Cold Day for Murder, and A Fatal Thaw. Stabenaw started publishing this series in 1992, so I don’t know how I have completely overlooked it until… Read More

Standards, genres

I find I don’t often enjoy the books that mainstream book clubs are out there touting like mad; or sometimes I do enjoy them, but it’s more like an unhealthy sugar rush than a savored meal, something you… Read More


Does the ending of a book alter your perception of the entire story? This is what I’m pondering, a few minutes after turning the last page of The Moonlight Child, by Karen McQuestion. The book had a compelling… Read More

A World of Curiosities

I was late to the party reading Louise Penny’s most recent in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series—they reliably drop in the fall of each year (although this one, coming out in November, was later than the usual… Read More

Manufactured mystery

I tried out a new mystery writer, D. D. Black, on the recommendation of someone on “What Should I Read Next?” and I’m feeling a little conflicted about whether to continue after the first two books. On the… Read More


Scottish-American conservationist John Muir, the “Father of the National Parks,” once wrote that “…when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else.” John Muir This quote was specifically called into use… Read More

The essence of a genre

As I discuss in my genre lecture in my readers’ advisory class at UCLA, crime fiction accounts for as much as a third of the fiction published in English worldwide. If you regard that statistic you must conclude… Read More


Having read others of Sally Hepworth’s books, I have now figured out that they are relationship fiction masquerading as mystery/thriller. That doesn’t make them bad; let’s face it, dysfunctional family drama is always engaging (particularly if it reminds… Read More