Excerpt: THREE MILES DOWN by Harry Turtledove (Tor)

TurtledoveH-ThreeMilesDownUSHCToday, we have an excerpt from Harry Turtledove‘s latest historical sci-fi mystery, Three Miles Down. Specifically, we have chapter two — if you’d like to read chapter one before reading this excerpt, that is over on The Tor/Forge Blog. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s 1974, and Jerry Stieglitz is a grad student in marine biology at UCLA with a side gig selling short stories to science fiction magazines, just weeks away from marrying his longtime fiancée. Then his life is upended by grim-faced men from three-letter agencies who want him to join a top-secret “Project Azorian” in the middle of the north Pacific Ocean — and they really don’t take “no” for an answer. Further, they’re offering enough money to solve all of his immediate problems.

Joining up and swearing to secrecy, what he first learns is that Project Azorian is secretly trying to raise a sunken Russian submarine, while pretending to be harvesting undersea manganese nodules. But the dead Russian sub, while real, turns out to be a cover story as well. What’s down on the ocean floor next to it is the thing that killed the sub: an alien spacecraft.

Jerry’s a scientist, a longhair, a storyteller, a dreamer. He stands out like a sore thumb on the Glomar Explorer, a ship full of CIA operatives, RAND Corporation eggheads, and roustabout divers. But it turns out that he’s the one person in the North Pacific who’s truly thought out all the ways that human-alien first contact might go.

And meanwhile, it’s still 1974 back on the mainland. Richard Nixon is drinking heavily and talking to the paintings on the White House walls. The USA is changing fast — and who knows what will happen when this story gets out? Three Miles Down is both a fresh and original take on First Contact, and a hugely enjoyable romp through the pop culture, political tumult, and conspiracies-within-conspiracies atmosphere that was 1974.

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Excerpt: NINE TENTHS by Jeff Macfee (JABberwocky)

MacfeeJ-NineTenthsToday we have an excerpt from Jeff Macfee‘s new novel, Nine Tenths. A blend of mystery and science fiction, here’s the synopsis:

Augment phase technology was rare. The last appearance of anything resembling phase technology was fifteen years ago. I knew the date…

It was the date of the Doctor Dimension repo.

In a world full of “Augments” — humans who use technology to imbue themselves with superpowers of every sort — being an average man would seem a good way to keep out of trouble. Not so for repo man Gayle Harwood. It’s his job to seize enhancements from Augments who fall behind on the payments for their high-tech advantages. And they rarely part with them easily.

Now an infamous job Gayle was a part of long ago has come back to haunt him. An incredibly powerful piece of tech that was supposed to have been turned over to the government is being used again. People are dying, and those in power are convinced Gayle knows something about it.

Unfortunately, they’re right.

And unless Gayle can uncover the sinister secrets of the past and find whoever has hijacked the lost tech and stop them, no superpower in the world is going to be enough to save him…

Read on for Chapter 1…!

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Quick Review: THE MURDER RULE by Dervla McTiernan (William Morrow)

McTiernanD-MurderRuleUSHCA young law student tries to derail a murder trial

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

 They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

Dervla McTiernan’s latest novel has been getting quite a bit of good buzz in the lead up to publication. The synopsis was intriguing, and I’m always on the look-out for new authors to follow. (Because, you know, I never have enough to read.) After receiving a review copy, I dove right in, and blitzed through it in just a few sittings. This is a well-paced, well-written, and gripping thriller. Continue reading

Excerpt: THE SHADOW OF MEMORY by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)

BerryC-KH4-ShadowOfMemoryUSHCToday, we have an excerpt from The Shadow of Memory, Connie Berry‘s fourth Kate Hamilton Mystery. Due to be published by Crooked Lane Books on May 10th, here’s the synopsis:

American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton uncovers a dark secret buried in Victorian England.

As Kate Hamilton plans her upcoming wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, she is also assisting her colleague Ivor Tweedy with a project at the Netherfield Sanatorium, which is being converted into luxury townhouses. Kate and Ivor must appraise a fifteenth-century painting and verify that its provenance is the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. But when retired criminal inspector Will Parker is found dead, Kate learns that the halls of the sanatorium housed much more than priceless art.

Kate is surprised to learn that Will had been the first boyfriend of her friend Vivian Bunn, who hasn’t seen him in fifty-eight years. At a seaside holiday camp over sixty years ago, Will, Vivian, and three other teens broke into an abandoned house where a doctor and his wife had died under bizarre circumstances two years earlier. Now, when a second member of the childhood gang dies unexpectedly — and then a third — it becomes clear that the teens had discovered more in the house than they had realized.

Had Will returned to warn his old love? When Kate makes a shocking connection between a sixty-year-old murder and the long-buried secrets of the sanatorium, she suddenly understands that time is running out for Vivian — and anyone connected to her.

Now, on with the excerpt!

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Excerpt: THE HALF-LIFE OF RUBY FIELDING by Lydia Kang (Lake Union)

KangL-HalfLifeOfRubyFieldingToday, we have an excerpt from Lydia Kang‘s The Half-Life of Ruby Fielding, a historical mystery that takes place in 1942 Brooklyn. Here’s the synopsis:

A spellbinding historical mystery about hidden identities, wartime paranoia, and the tantalizing power of deceit.

Brooklyn, 1942. War rages overseas as brother and sister Will and Maggie Scripps contribute to the war effort stateside. Ambitious Will secretly scouts for the Manhattan Project while grief-stricken Maggie works at the Navy Yard, writing letters to her dead mother between shifts.

But the siblings’ quiet lives change when they discover a beautiful woman hiding under their back stairs. This stranger harbors an obsession with poisons, an affection for fine things, and a singular talent for killing small creatures. As she draws Will and Maggie deeper into her mysterious past, they both begin to suspect she’s quite dangerous ― all while falling helplessly under her spell.

With whispers of spies in dark corners and the world’s first atomic bomb in the works, the visitor’s sudden presence in Maggie’s and Will’s lives raises questions about who she is and what she wants. Is this mysterious woman someone they can trust ― or a threat to everything they hold dear?

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Very Quick Review: THE LEGACY OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE by Tade Thompson (Tor.com)

ThompsonT-MS3-LegacyOfMollySouthbourneBringing Molly Southbourne’s story to a bloody end

Whenever Molly Southbourne bled, a murderer was born. Deadly copies, drawn to destroy their creator, bound by a legacy of death. With the original Molly Southbourne gone, her remnants drew together, seeking safety and a chance for peace. The last Molly and her sisters built a home together, and thought they could escape the murder that marked their past.

But secrets squirm in Molly Southbourne’s blood — secrets born in a Soviet lab and carried back across the Iron Curtain to infiltrate the West. What remains of the Cold War spy machine wants those secrets back, and to get them they’re willing to unearth the dead and destroy the fragile peace surrounding the last copies of Molly Southbourne.

The Molly Southbourne novellas were my introduction to Tade Thompson’s writing, and they have cemented him as a must-read author. The series boasts a fascinating premise, one that has been developed over the course of the three novellas. Bringing it all together very nicely, I really enjoyed this satisfying conclusion. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE FIELDS by Erin Young (Flatiron/Hodder)

YoungE-FieldsUSHCThe American crime and mystery genres are oversubscribed with novels and series set in the big cities — especially New York and Los Angeles (with a surprisingly large number set in Minnesota, too). There is a growing number of author setting their novels elsewhere.* A notable upcoming example is Eli Cranor’s Don’t Know Tough (Arkansas). Now, we can also add Erin Young‘s The Fields, which is the first crime novel I’ve seen set in Iowa. Here’s the synopsis:

Some things don’t stay buried.

It starts with a body — a young woman found dead in an Iowa cornfield, on one of the few family farms still managing to compete with the giants of Big Agriculture.

When Sergeant Riley Fisher, newly promoted to head of investigations for the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, arrives on the scene, an already horrific crime becomes personal when she discovers the victim was a childhood friend, connected to a dark past she thought she’d left behind.

The investigation grows complicated as more victims are found. Drawn deeper in, Riley soon discovers implications far beyond her Midwest town.

“Erin Young” is a pseudonym of bestselling historical fiction author Robyn Young. Erin Young’s The Fields is due to be published in North America by Flatiron Books (January 25th), and in the UK by Hodder (April 28th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

* Feel free to share recommendations in the comments of other crime/thriller novels set in cities and regions that are under-represented in the genre.

Upcoming: A SECRET ABOUT A SECRET by Peter Spiegelman (Knopf)

SpiegelmanP-ASecretAboutASecretUSHCBack in 2016, I read an excellent crime/thriller novel: Dr. Knox by Peter Spiegelman. It was one of my favourite novels from that year, and it led me to hunt down his other novels, not all of which are readily available — I was able to find Thick As Thieves. Anyway, I’ve often found myself wondering what he’s been up to recently, and it turns out he’s been writing A Secret About A Secret (among other things, I’m sure).

A hypnotic mystery about a murder at a secluded research facility and the secrets that it exposes.

In a world not quite our own, a stranger arrives at a brooding manor on a remote coast.

Myles is an agent of Standard Division, the most feared element of a vast security apparatus, and he has come to Ondstrand House, the headquarters of biotech firm Ondstrand Biologic, to investigate a murder. Ondstrand Biologic is engaged in advanced genetic engineering, and Allegra Stans, one of the firm’s most gifted scientists, has been found dead on the premises — her neck broken.

As his investigation proceeds, Myles quickly discovers that gifted scientist is only one thread in the complicated fabric of Allegra’s life; there are darker strands as well — of ambition, manipulation, and bitter grievance — all woven in a web of secrets and motives for murder. And Allegra’s aren’t the only mysteries Myles finds himself unraveling. Her colleagues, lovers and former lovers — the very halls of Ondstrand House itself — have much to hide, and Myles eventually learns that even his own masters in Standard Division haven’t told him everything they know.

When another murder is discovered, Myles finds himself an increasingly unwelcome presence in an ever more hostile landscape.

Peter Spiegelman’s A Secret About A Secret is due to be published by Knopf in North America, on June 7th.

Also on CR: Review of Dr. Knox

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with JAMES BREAKWELL, Author of THE CHOSEN TWELVE

BreakwellJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Breakwell?

Father. Comedy writer. Pig owner. Overall mediocre human being. I write daily jokes on the internet for free and occasional books in print for money.

Your new novel, The Chosen Twelve, is due to be published by Solaris in January. It looks rather intriguing: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Thousands of years in the future, the last twenty-two humans in existence, all of them children, are charged with settling a new planet under the less-than-benevolent guidance of the self-interested robots who raised them. The kids discover that, contrary to the promises of their digital overlords, the landing craft that will make the one-way trip to the planet only has twelve seats. Those who secure a spot will lead the human race, possibly forever — or until they get killed by the biologically engineered super kangaroos who now hold the planet, whichever comes first. Those who don’t get a seat will be left behind to die on the decaying moon base, aging slowly without the injections from the immortality chamber that have kept them artificially young for decades. The resulting struggle to secure those seats will determine the fate not only of the last twenty-two humans, but also of all sentient life in the universe, both organic and digital. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE GOODBYE COAST by Joe Ide (Mulholland)

IdeJ-PM1-GoodbyeCoastUSHCRaymond Chandler’s iconic detective, Philip Marlowe, gets a dramatic and colorful reinvention at the hands of award-winning novelist Joe Ide

The seductive and relentless figure of Raymond Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlowe, is vividly re-imagined in present-day Los Angeles. Here is a city of scheming Malibu actresses, ruthless gang members, virulent inequality, and washed-out police. Acclaimed and award-winning novelist Joe Ide imagines a Marlowe very much of our time: he’s a quiet, lonely, and remarkably capable and confident private detective, though he lives beneath the shadow of his father, a once-decorated LAPD homicide detective, famous throughout the city, who’s given in to drink after the death of Marlowe’s mother.

Marlowe, against his better judgement, accepts two missing person cases, the first a daughter of a faded, tyrannical Hollywood starlet, and the second, a British child stolen from his mother by his father. At the center of The Goodbye Coast is Marlowe’s troubled and confounding relationship with his father, a son who despises yet respects his dad, and a dad who’s unable to hide his bitter disappointment with his grown boy.

Steeped in the richly detailed ethnic neighborhoods of modern LA, Ide’s The Goodbye Coast is a bold recreation that is viciously funny, ingeniously plotted, and surprisingly tender.

When I heard that Joe Ide was going to be writing the first novel in a new Philip Marlowe series, I was intrigued. I know of Marlowe, of course, but have never actually read any of Raymond Chandler’s novels (although, like a great many classic books, I do own a few of them — just keep forgetting, because they’re on my Kindle). Having read all of Ide’s other novels to date, though, I knew I wanted to read The Goodbye Coast. I’m happy to report that it is a very enjoyable P.I. novel. Continue reading