Monday, January 30, 2012

UNDER THE DOG STAR - a Carl Brookins Review

Under The Dog Star
by Sandra Parshall
ISBN: 978-1-59058-878-9
a 2011 Poisoned Pen release,
303 pages

The story is already in full-bore action when you open the book. “In the silver moonlight, the dogs appear as a dark mass moving down the hill and across the pasture.” Contrast of light and dark. Questions immediately arise. Are these dangerous dogs? Feral dogs? Where are we and who is observing this? Why should we care?

 In the hands of this careful, experienced writer, you know you are in for a wild ride. Veterinarian, Rachel Goddard, runs an animal clinic in the mountains of Virginia, a place where people are used to taking care of their problems in direct fashion. Wild dogs threatening livestock? Never mind they are or were somebody’s pet, shoot ‘em. This is anathema to Rachel and she mounts a county-wide attempt to trap and rescue the dogs before they are shot. The county is thrown into an uproar and her competence is questioned when a prominent physician is discovered with his throat torn out and plenty of evidence that a dog was the culprit.

 Rachel’s lover, Tom Bridger, a deputy sheriff in the county is worried about Rachel’s safety as he struggles to understand the crime. Both Rachel and Bridger come up against one of them most dysfunctional families I have ever read about. There are other complications and false trails that have to be dealt with. The author handles dog fighting and other crimes is a forthright yet sympathetic manner. Readers will get the vivid pictures the author draws, but won’t have to wallow in the degradation. Parshall makes her points cleanly and evocatively, just as she illuminate the settings, both by contrast and depiction.

 There were times when I wanted to grab Rachel and inject a little backbone into her and Bridger is sometimes entirely too controlling. Nevertheless, this is a strong, well-written chiller with crackling dialogue, great characters and a powerful resolution.

Carl Brookins, Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky
Under the Dog Star: 4.5/5 stars on Amazon
Gerrie Ferris Finger

Thursday, January 19, 2012

NEWS FROM MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA - Nominees for the Best in Category for 2011.

I'm not listed this year, maybe next. :-D Congratulations to the nominees

Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce on the 203rd anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, its Nominees for the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2011. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 66th Gala Banquet, April 26, 2012 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York, New York.


The Ranger by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Minotaur Books)
1222 by Anne Holt (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Field Gray by Philip Kerr (Penguin Group USA - G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Marion Wood Books)


Red on Red by Edward Conlon (Random House Publishing Group – Spiegel & Grau)
Last to Fold by David Duffy (Thomas Dunne Books)
All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen (The Permanent Press)
Bent Road by Lori Roy (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett (Hachette Book Group – Orbit Books)
The Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle (Felony & Mayhem Press)
The Dog Sox by Russell Hill (Pleasure Boat Studio – Caravel Mystery Books)
Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper Paperbacks)
Vienna Twilight by Frank Tallis (Random House Trade Paperbacks)


The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins (Crown Publishing)
The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T.J. English (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Random House - Doubleday)
Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender by Steve Miller (Penguin Group USA - Berkley)
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter by Mark Seal (Penguin Group USA - Viking)


The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of our Time by Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer & John-Henri Holmberg (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making by John Curran (HarperCollins)
On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press)
Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film by Philippa Gates (SUNY Press)
Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds and Marnie by Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick (University of Illinois Press)


"Marley’s Revolution" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by John C. Boland (Dell Magazines)
"Tomorrow’s Dead" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Dean (Dell Magazines)
"The Adakian Eagle" – Down These Strange Streets by Bradley Denton (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
"Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" – Down These Strange Streets by Diana Gabaldon (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
"The Case of Death and Honey" – A Study in Sherlock by Neil Gaiman (Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Books)
"The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Peter Turnbull (Dell Magazines)


Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet Books)
It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Vanished by Sheela Chari (Disney Book Group – Disney Hyperion)
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press)
The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey (Egmont USA)


Shelter by Harlan Coben (Penguin Young Readers Group – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Penguin Young Readers Group – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (Random House Children’s Books – Knopf BFYR)
The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Roaring Creek Press)
Kill You Last by Todd Strasser (Egmont USA)


Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club by Jeffrey Hatcher (Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix, AZ)
The Game’s Afoot by Ken Ludwig (Cleveland Playhouse, Cleveland, OH)


"Innocence" – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS Productions)
"The Life Inside" – Justified, Teleplay by Benjamin Cavell(FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television)
"Part 1" – Whitechapel, Teleplay by Ben Court & Caroline Ip (BBC America)
"Pilot" – Homeland, Teleplay by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff (Showtime)
"Mask" – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Speed Weed (Wolf Films/Universal Media Studios)


"A Good Man of Business" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Ingram (Dell Magazines)


Martha Grimes


M is for Mystery Bookstore, San Mateo, CA
Molly Weston, Meritorious Mysteries


Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post/Hearst Media News Group

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 25, 2012)

Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)
Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick (Minotaur Books)
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown Publishing Group)
Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

# # # #

The EDGAR (and logo) are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Assignment: Nepal - a Carl Brookins Review

by. J. S. Squires
2011 E-book release from
Echelon Press

Readers of this review should be aware that this press has published some of my crime fiction and I am acquainted with the publisher, though not with the two authors writing under a single pseudonym.

The protagonist is named Irene Adler. Not the woman who beat Sherlock Holmes at his own game, her modern namesake, a Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology at Boston University. Adler has a demi-cynical outlook on life and it turns out she supplements her income by playing poker; specifically Texas Holdem in the gambling parlors around the New England area. Irene Adler is a bright, smart, single woman, an endearing protagonist.

Her former advisor, a fellow faculty member, prevails on Ms. Adler to travel to Nepal to inquire into the life and times of a former fellow undergraduate student of Irene’s, a Margot Smith, who’s in Nepal doing research on one of that country’s goddesses, one Chwwaassa Dyo. The problem is that there appears to something awry with Margot and her physician husband and Adler is supposed to sort things out. What needs sorting turns out to be only part of the story. Irene agrees to go half-way around the world to see a woman she barely knows. From this most unlikely beginning, the plot drives poor Adler into one complexity after another.

Her assignment clearly has unstated dimensions about which neither we readers nor Irene Adler herself are clear. Now, Nepal is an exotic nation from which assaults on Mount Everest are mounted and the ubiquitous Sherpa play an important part, as do digital cameras, former Cold War adversaries, political unrest in the country, and a whole series of meddlesome individuals who seem to still show up on the fringes of the former English Empire.

The novel winds its way through a variety of conflicts among wanderers, a boorish American tourist couple, and murder and bomb blasts. At times the narrative suffers from a pedestrian pace and some lapses of editing discipline over the point of view. Still, the story is interesting, Irene is definitely a character to build a series around, the exotic setting in and around Katmandu is, well, exotic, and a satisfactory conclusion is fashioned. I think four stars in too strong a rating, but the novel is more enjoyable than three stars would indicate. Sample the novel and make your own judgment.

carl brookins
Reunion, Devils Island, Red Sky, The Case of the Great Train Robbery 
The Case of The Missing Case