New Books (December-January)

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Featuring: Dan Abnett, Preet Bharara, James Brabazon, Robert A. Caro, JoAnn Chaney, Patrick Coleman, Liv Constantine, Jonathan de Shalit, Bret Easton Ellis, Karen Ellis, Sarah Gailey, Neil Gaiman, N.K. Jemisin, Sadie Jones, Nancy Kress, J. Barton Mitchell, Michael Moynihan, Brett Paesel, Chris Riddell, James Swallow, V.E. Schwab, Jean Edward Smith, Didrik Søderlind, Adam Stemple, David Swinson, Sam Sykes, David Szalay, Karen Thompson Walker, David Weber, Jane Yolen

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Quick Review: TRIGGER by David Swinson (Mulholland)

SwinsonD-FM3-TriggerUSThe third novel in the excellent Frank Marr crime series

Frank Marr was a good cop, until his burgeoning addictions to alcohol and cocaine forced him into retirement from the D.C. Metro police. Now, he’s barely eking out a living as a private investigator for a defense attorney — also Frank’s ex-girlfriend.

Ostracized by his family after a botched case that led to the death of his baby cousin, Jeffrey, Frank was on a collision course with rock bottom. Now clean and clinging hard to sobriety, Frank passes the time — and tests himself — by robbing the houses of local dealers, taking their cash and flushing their drugs down the toilet. When an old friend from his police days needs Frank’s help to prove he didn’t shoot an unarmed civilian, Frank is drawn back into the world of dirty cops and suspicious drug busts, running in the same circles that enabled his addiction those years ago.

Never one to play by the rules, Frank recruits a young man he nearly executed years before. Together — a good man trying not to go bad and a bad man trying to do good — detective and criminal charge headfirst into the D.C. drug wars. Neither may make it out.

Frank Marr is a private investigator who is trying to do good, while simultaneously battling his various (multiple) demons. The first two novels in David Swinson’s series — The Second Girl and Crime Song — were fantastic, and I blitzed through them back-to-back. Gripping, sharply written and populated with excellent characters, they are among the best novels I’ve read in years. As a result, Trigger was one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’m happy to report that it is another excellent crime novel, and did not disappoint. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON by Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square Press)

OMearaM-LadyFromTheBlackLagoonUSUncovering the overlooked, oft-dismissed contribution of Milicent Patrick to the development of horror cinema

The Lady from the Black Lagoon uncovers the life and work of Milicent Patrick — one of Disney’s first female animators and the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood’s classic movie monsters

As a teenager, Mallory O’Meara was thrilled to discover that one of her favorite movies, Creature from the Black Lagoon, featured a monster designed by a woman, Milicent Patrick. But for someone who should have been hailed as a pioneer in the genre, there was little information available. For, as O’Meara soon discovered, Patrick’s contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, her career had been cut short and she soon after had disappeared from film history. No one even knew if she was still alive.

As a young woman working in the horror film industry, O’Meara set out to right the wrong, and in the process discovered the full, fascinating story of an ambitious, artistic woman ahead of her time. Patrick’s contribution to special effects proved to be just the latest chapter in a remarkable, unconventional life, from her youth growing up in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to her career as one of Disney’s first female animators. And at last, O’Meara discovered what really had happened to Patrick after The Creature’s success, and where she went.

A true-life detective story and a celebration of a forgotten feminist trailblazer, Mallory O’Meara’s The Lady from the Black Lagoon establishes Patrick in her rightful place in film history while calling out a Hollywood culture where little has changed since.

In The Lady From the Black Lagoon, debut author Mallory O’Meara gives us an interesting and illuminating look not only at the life of a pioneering female artist, but also a glimpse into the early years of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. A must read for cinephiles, horror fans and also pretty much anyone who likes narrative non-fiction. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Interview with GARETH HANRAHAN

HanrahanG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Gareth Hanrahan?

I’m still pretty vague on that question, to be honest. I appear to be a writer and game designer living in Ireland. A preponderance of evidence suggests I’m married with twin sons, and I have it on good authority that I’m tall with somewhat absurd legs. I hope to have a more final answer to the question “who is Gareth Hanrahan” at some point, but ideally not for another forty or fifty years.

Your new novel, The Gutter Prayer, will be published by Orbit early next year. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a fantasy thriller set in a quasi-Victorian city, a mostly godless city of thieves and alchemists. Three such thieves are betrayed by their former boss and seek revenge using newfound occult powers; along the way, they discover the secret history of the city and their importance in a much larger play for power. It’s full of alchemy, monstrous weirdness, intrigue, architecture and stabbings.

It’s part of a series called The Black Iron Legacy, but the story’s very self-contained. Continue reading

Upcoming: GIDEON THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com)

muirt-nh1-gideontheninthusTamsyn Muir‘s Gideon the Ninth is getting a lot of pre-publication attention. The lucky few who have received ARCs have gushed about how awesome and fun it is. The fantastic cover was unveiled recently, and really I just wanted an excuse to share it on CR. If that striking artwork isn’t enough to whet your appetite, here’s the synopsis for the novel that is “the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton”:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

I’m really looking forward to giving this a try. Gideon the Ninth is due to be published by Tor.com on September 10th, 2019, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE GUTTER PRAYER by Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit)

HanrahanG-1-GutterPrayerOne of the most talked-about debuts of 2019

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

Enter a city of saints and thieves…

The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

The fate of the city rests in the hands of three thieves. They alone stand against the coming darkness. As conspiracies unfold and secrets are revealed, their friendship will be tested to the limit. If they fail, all will be lost, and the streets of Guerdon will run with blood.

The Gutter Prayer has been showered with praise pre-publication. After reading it, I can certainly see why: it is one of the most inventive new fantasies I’ve read in a while. The novel is packed full of ideas, multiple unique and innovative twists on popular fantasy elements, and an overall interesting and action-packed story. There’s a lot to like in here, and I’m sure many readers will love this novel. Continue reading