I recently discovered that Elly Griffiths, who writes the Ruth Galloway mysteries and has three volumes in a fairly recent story line starring Harbinder Kaur, has yet another series, called either The Brighton Mysteries or Stephens & Mephisto,… 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

Short stories

I get offered daily e-book bargains—freebies, or super-cheap prices—by BookBub, and sometimes I take them. I have learned, however, to first look up each one on Goodreads to see its average star rating and read some reviews; sometimes… Read More


If I had to define the central theme of the book Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson, it would probably be summed up by this quote: “But the fact was, when you lived a life, under any name, that… 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


Do romance novels have to have a plausible premise? I ask this because so many don’t, in my experience. Every once in a while I go outside my preferred reader zone and assay one of the genres for… Read More

A certain kind of story

I discovered Jodi Picoult’s books back when I was on the cusp of 40, with her book Mercy (I think). I may have read one of the ones before that, but the descriptions on Goodreads don’t spark any… Read More

Unreliable narrator(s)

Typically, a third-person narrative offers (at best) a picture of objective reality, or at least a world-view that is easily identified as biased in a particular way. But a first-person narrator has no obligation to offer the facts… Read More

Books about/with books, writers

I picked up a bargain e-book last week, a “relationship fiction” novel by author Susan Mallery. I hadn’t read Mallery before, but she’s quite popular, apparently. Most of her books seem to edge over the line into romance,… Read More

Over the top is okay!

The latest installment of Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan series dropped on January 31st, and I started reading it a few days later when I discovered it on my Kindle (I had prepaid for the e-book dump and then… Read More