Quick Review: BROKEN by Don Winslow (William Morrow)

WinslowD-BrokenUSA must-read collection of interlinked crime novellas

In six intense short novels connected by the themes of crime, corruption, vengeance, justice, loss, betrayal, guilt and redemption, Broken is #1 international bestseller Don Winslow at his nerve-shattering, heart-stopping, heartbreaking best. InBroken, he creates a world of high-level thieves and low-life crooks, obsessed cops struggling with life on and off the job, private detectives, dope dealers, bounty hunters and fugitives, the lost souls driving without headlights through the dark night on the American criminal highway.

With his trademark blend of insight, humanity, humor, action and the highest level of literary craftsmanship, Winslow delivers a collection of tales that will become classics of crime fiction

I’m a relative newcomer to Don Winslow’s novels. Since reading The Force, however, he has become a must-read author for me. Broken is his latest book: a superb, gripping collection of six novellas. Each takes a different look at the crime, mystery and/or thriller genres. One of my most-anticipated books of the year, I’m very happy to report that it absolutely met my very high expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE ECHO WIFE by Sarah Gailey (Tor Books)

GaileyS-EchoWifeUSSarah Gailey is already well-known for their interesting genre-mash-ups: the weird-west novellas published by Tor.com (the American Hippo duology and Upright Women Wanted), and the urban fantasy-noir-mystery novel Magic for Liars. Populated with interesting and engaging characters, intriguing twists on genre staples, and well-written, I’ve enjoyed everything of theirs that I’ve read so far (although, I’ve fallen a bit behind on my reviews…).

In February, Tor Books is due to publish the author’s next genre-straddling novel, The Echo Wife. This novel, which is pitched as “perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and Killing Eve” has a little bit of sci-fi thrown in as well, and I think it sounds fascinating:

Evelyn Caldwell’s husband Nathan has been having an affair — with Evelyn Caldwell.

Or, to be exact, with Martine, a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn’s own award-winning research.

But that wasn’t even the worst part.

When they said all happy families are alike, I don’t think this is what they meant…

Really looking forward to reading this! The Echo Wife is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on February 16th, 2021.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Gailey (2017); Review of River of Teeth

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

RoanhorseR-BEaS1-BlackSunUSI first heard about Rebecca Roanhorses‘s upcoming novel when I spotted the cover on Twitter — and, like all good covers, John Picacio’s artwork caught my attention and made me want to find out more about the book.

The first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, Black Sun is “inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.” Check out the synopsis:

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.

This sounds really interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Black Sun is due to be published by Saga Press in North America and in the UK, on October 13th, 2020.

The author’s acclaimed, award-winning Sixth World duology is also published by Saga Press in North America, and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE SEVENTH PERFECTION by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)

PolanskyD-SeventhPerfectionLong-time readers of CR will know that I am a big fan of Daniel Polansky‘s work. His Low Town trilogy is one of my favourite fantasy series, and mixes grimdark fantasy stylings with noir-ish crime/mystery. (If you haven’t had a chance to read these, yet, then I highly recommend you give the series a try.) In 2015, Tor.com published his first novella, The Builders — an excellent fantasy novella that took a Brian Jacques-style fantasy world and plonked it firmly in the grimdark sub-genre. Later this year, the publisher will release The Seventh Perfection, a new novella that not only has a stunning cover, but also sounds fantastic:

When a woman with perfect memory sets out to solve a riddle, the threads she tugs on could bring a whole city crashing down. The God-King who made her is at risk, and his other servants will do anything to stop her.

To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself.

Easily one of my most-anticipated books of the year, I can’t wait to read this. The Seventh Perfection is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on September 22nd, 2020.

Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Polansky (2011); Reviews of Straight Razor Cure, Tomorrow the Killing, She Who Waits, The Builders, and A City Dreaming

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE by Alex Pavesi (Henry Holt / Michael Joseph)

PavesiA-EighthDetectiveUSAn intriguing mystery novel, quite well executed

A young editor travels to a remote village in the Mediterranean in the hopes of convincing a reclusive writer to republish his collection of detective stories, only to realize that there are greater mysteries beyond the pages of books.

There are rules for murder mysteries. There must be a victim. A suspect. A detective. The rest is just shuffling the sequence. Expanding the permutations. Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out – calculating the different orders and possibilities of a mystery into seven perfect detective stories he quietly published. But that was thirty years ago. Now Grant lives in seclusion on a remote Mediterranean island, counting the rest of his days.

Until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor knocks on his door. Julia wishes to republish his book, and together they must revisit those old stories: an author hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But there are things in the stories that don’t add up. Inconsistencies left by Grant that a sharp-eyed editor begins to suspect are more than mistakes. They may be clues, and Julia finds herself with a mystery of her own to solve.

The synopsis for Alex Pavesi’s debut novel caught my attention some time ago, so I jumped at the chance to review it. It’s quite unlike any mystery novel I’ve read before, and with an intriguing premise/structure, it was a pretty good read. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: THE RANGER OF MARZANNA by Jon Skovron (Orbit)

SkovronJ-RW1-RangerOfMarzannaUSAs someone obsessed with process, I love reading annotated things. Books, comics, movie commentary, what have you. When trying to understand how to do a thing (say, write a book), it can be invaluable to get that peek behind the curtain. But if there is one thing we can say for certain about the process of writing, it’s that no two writers do it exactly the same. So when you read this annotated excerpt, I invite you not to latch on to any one thing too strongly, and view it merely as one more sample in a vast sea of writing processes.

In this world there are writers who simply sit down and start writing the book from the beginning and eventually come to the end. And that’s the book. Done. One of these “people” is a friend of mine, so I will refrain from saying anything else about this “method” except that it is most certainly not mine. My drafting process is messy and chaotic, and subject to change drastically from one revision to the next as I stumble blindly through those early stages.

For example, the excerpt below is the first chapter of The Ranger of Marzanna, but it was not written first, second, or even third. In fact, I’d written the entire first draft before I realized the beginning was completely broken. Among other things, it needed the proper framing for the world, and a proper introduction to Sonya Turgenev Portinari, who I imagined before I ever thought of the story, or the setting, or the theme, or anything else. Perhaps it’s my acting background, but character always comes first for me.

Anyway, the purpose of this chapter was let the reader know just what kind of world they’re dealing with and what kind of person the world perceived Sonya to be. So with those two goals in mind, let us proceed… Continue reading

New Books (April)

NewBooks-20200419

In these uncertain times, books are perhaps more important than ever (at least, they are in my opinion). To that end, I am going to try to publish more content on CR than normal (I know — I’ve “closed” it down a number of times, I just can’t stay away). Below is a list of books I’ve bought or received for review (and one I’m pre-approved for but haven’t downloaded because I know I won’t be able to read the format, but wanted to flag anyway because I’m really looking forward to reading it). As you’ll notice, a few of these aren’t out for some time, but I guess publishers have decided to send them out sooner to give people plenty of time to read them.

Featuring: Robert Jackson Bennett, Tom Bissell, Tom Bradby, Mike Brooks, K.A. Doore, Gardner Dozois, Dan Drezner, Lindsay Ellis, Scott Eyman, Marc Freeman, Ryan Gattis, Grady Hendrix, Stark Holborn, Richard Kadrey, Nicole Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Dinah Lenney, Sam J. Miller, Tamsyn Muir, John Niven, Karen Osborne, Alex Pavesi, Ross Payton, Wayne Santos, Elissa R. Sloan, Jonathan Strahan, Peter Swanson, Michael Swanwick, Breanna Teintze, Don Winslow, Chris Wraight

Continue reading