Monday, July 18, 2016

Hallie recommends... summer crime

HALLIE EPHRON: It's REDS ON WRITING week again... and I get to lead off.

A few months ago, just after I turned in the first draft of You'll Never Know, Dear (I'm deep into revising it now), I got a auspiciously timed request from the Boston Globe to put together a list of crime novels for summer reading. Reading other people's books is a great way NOT to obsess about the hot mess that you just turned in.

Since I no longer write a regular book review column, this required some quick research and reaching out to publishers for books. In the course of about six weeks I powered through about thirty books to find summer reads to recommend. The photo shows the tip of the iceberg.

Here's my list. There's something for everyone in here...
“Charcoal Joe’’ Walter Mosley (Doubleday)
Flush with cash but bereft of his main squeeze, Easy Rawlins is on the prowl again as he tries to keep a young black physics prodigy from going down for murder and ends up hip-deep in ill-gotten gains.

“Collecting the Dead’’ Spencer Kope (Minotaur)
A heart-thumping yarn from a real-life crime analyst, this features an FBI tracker with preternatural ability to “see the hidden.” He hunts down a serial killer who leaves a frowny face near each of his victims.

“Guilty Minds by Joseph Finder (Dutton)
Nick Heller, the quintessential PI with a heart of gold, debunks scurrilous lies about the Supreme Court’s chief justice, then tries to rescue the woman who made those claims. Suspenseful, surprising, and humane.

“The Murder of Mary Russell: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes’’ Laurie R. King (Bantam)
The very title stirs dread in the hearts of fans of Sherlock Holmes’s young wife in this pastiche series. Mrs. Hudson stars (her nefarious past catches up with her), and she manages to surprise Holmes.

“Murder on the Quai’’ Cara Black (Soho)
The Berlin wall is crumbling, and in a series prequel, Parisian medical student AimĂȘe Leduc finds her mĂȘtier, detecting. She investigates the murders of old men and tries to find her mother, a reputed terrorist.

Orphan X by Greg Hurwitz (Minotaur)
In this perfect fix for paranoid adrenaline junkies, an orphan (a perverted version of young King Arthur) is recruited and trained as a professional assassin for the government. Soon he’s surrounded by assassins.

 “The Second Life of Nick Mason’’ Steve Hamilton (Putnam)
After serving five years of a 25-year term in maximum security, Nick strikes a Faustian bargain with a criminal mastermind. He’s out of prison, living in luxury, falling in love, but dancing to the devil’s tune.

 “Wilde Lake’’ Laura Lippman (Morrow)
Family secrets rain down like a plague of locusts on “Lu” Brant, Maryland’s first woman state’s attorney. The young widow and mother of twins prosecutes a case that strikes close to home, threatening to taint her revered father’s reputation.

Where All the Light Tends to Go by David Joy (Putnam)
The son of a man who places a pocket bible on the chest of every person he murders realizes he’s in danger of becoming his father. This deeply noir finalist for the Edgar Award best first novel is set in Appalachia.

“You Will Know Me” by Megan Abbott (Hachette)
Overcoming a freak accident that mutilated her foot, Devon Knox becomes a gymnastics prodigy. Her parents double down to protect her when her coach is murdered. Abbott is brilliant at dissecting the power of adolescent girls.

BONUS: Here are two more that they wouldn't allow me to pick because of the obvious conflict of interest, the REDS own:

“Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen (Berkeley)
Lady Georgie is about to elope with Darcy! Throwing caution to the wind, nothing can deter… until the news that her future father-in-law has been arrested for murder.
“Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)
Back in print! TV reporter Charlotte McNally enters the world of high fashion, only to discover that the purses are fake but the danger is real. She goes undercover to bring the couture counterfeiters to justice and struggles to answer a life-changing question from a certain handsome professor.

What are you reading this summer?


  1. Along with “Air Time” and “Crowned and Dangerous,” I’ve read a couple of the other books on your list [“The Second Life of Nick Mason” and “Wilde Lake” ]; so far, my favorite summer reads haves been an ARC of Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher book, “Night School” and one of Liz Moore’s “The Unseen World.”
    Other favorites include “Hell’s Gate” by Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch, “The Fireman” by Joe Hill, “The Pursuit” by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, and “The Games” by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan.
    I’ve just finished Sophie Hannah’s “A Game For All the Family” and am now reading Blake Crouch’s “Dark Matter” . . . .

  2. Great picks, Hallie - am saving that list.

    I'm enjoying catching up on Rhys's Molly Murphy serie, filling in the ones I somehow foolishly missed. Then I'm going to do the same with Victoria Thompson's fabulous Gaslight Mysteries, and Catriona McPherson's Dandy Gilver series. Perfect for summer evenings, "reading up" in the historical mystery genre!

  3. I have read a few of the books on your list, but thanks for other suggestions to add to my monstrous TBR pile! I love Cara Black's books, so the prequel "Murder on the Quai" sounds intriguing with a pre-PI Aimee Leduc. And I will definitely check out latest titles by Steve Hamilton and Gregg Hurwitz. And I must find out what happens to Georgie & Darcy in Rhys' latest Royal Spyness mystery!

    Lately, I have been on a culinary cozy mystery binge with several new authors/titles. I have enjoyed "The Calamity Cafe" by Gayle Leeson, and am currently reading "Toasting Up Trouble" by Linda Wiken. "Dying for a Taste" by Leslie Karst and "A Muddied Murder" by Wendy Tyson are also on my summer reading list.

  4. Joan, adding your choices to my summer reading list.

    Edith, you're catching up on some of my favorites. I am in awe of anyone who can write historical.

  5. Thank you! This is a traffic list! And aww…so nice of you.

    The incredible Lesa Holstine asked me to make ONE summer pick for her blog for The Poisoned Pen, which of course I could not do. So I sent four:

    I LET YOU GO by Clare Mackintosh --such a surprising book in every way. psychological suspense, riveting.
    BEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley --a timely and contemporary thriller, all structure and plot and philosophy of how we live today--the culture of celebrity and television and ambition. Could not put it down.l
    KILLER LOOK by Linda Fairstein --tops on my list! LOVE her. She is the queen.
    and a non-fiction but absolutely terrific, trust me, it is: REACHER SAID NOTHING by Andy Martin. Revealing, inspirational and hilarious. Really, a great book on writing.

  6. Here's the link to Lesa's blog:

    And it's really fun to see all of our different picks!

  7. My summer reading has, with one or two exceptions, been heavy, very heavy. In the past couple of weeks I've finished BARKSKINS by Annie Proulx, NIGHT by Elie Wiesel, BEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley, and BAISE-MOI by Virginie Despentes. The latter might also be titled "Thelma and Louise Meet Pulp Fiction."

    Someone hold me. I'm having nightmares.

    But for fun I've also read the newest Martin Walker, FATAL PURSUIT, set in one of my favorites parts of the world, the Perigord, in the sud-ouest of France. As a particular treat, Catriona McPherson sent me an ARC of The Reek of Red Herrings. Note to self: Get tongue firmly in cheek and write review, funny as hell.

    Both the latter are great reads. However I am feeling guilty that I haven't included any of the Reds so far. I promise to do much better for the rest of the summer. Forgive me for what I have done and what I have failed to do.

  8. REACHER SAID NOTHING... Thanks for that, Hank. A writing book, and the title sez it all.

    Ann, I am impressed. It's been too long since I read a serious literary novel or memoir. Must remedy. Catriona's RED HERRINGS is a Dandy Gilver and I am a huge fan. SO funny and clever and the plots are meticulously wrought.

  9. First - Hallie, that is a great title.

    Love the list. I've read Only Ever You, by a SinC friend of mine (Rebecca Drake), The Buzzard Table, by Margaret Maron, and the final version of With a Vengeance, by Annette Dashofy (I read the pre-press version). Very, very early this morning, I started Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan Boyer. Still on the list, the TIME books by Reds own Hank Phillippi Ryan, Trail of Echoes by Rachel Howzell Hall, and I want to pick up In the Blood (I think that's the title), but I forget the author name.

    Summer is also when I do my annual re-reading of Harry Potter. And I want to read all the Jane Ryland books before the release of the latest in the fall.

    'll be at Mystery Lovers Bookshop this weekend, so I'm sure I'll come home with something new - maybe off Hallie's list!

  10. Too many good reads, I wail!

    I just finished reading all the rest of Susan Boyer's Lowcountry series, and Catriona McPherson's The Child Garden, which I can heartily recommend. Now I'm in the middle of Gretchen Archer's Double series about a casino security person. Funny, and smart.

    Mainly, though, I've been reading and studying about trees, and woodland management. It's fascinating, but a bit dry, so the humorous mysteries are a nice gear change.

    Ann, I would need to be held, too, if I read all those at once!

  11. Speaking of Harry Potter, isn't there a new one about to launch? I'll be in that line getting my copy. I just watched the first movie for the umpteenth time TWICE more on a plane (coming and going).

  12. Yes, the new one drops July 31. That's The Girl's birthday (and Harry's). She has informed me that I MUST get it. =)

  13. What a great list, Hallie! I haven't been reading fiction for the last couple of months. It's very hard for me at the end of writing a long book to "live" in someone else's story.

    I have been reading a fascinating book on journaling by Gwen Diehn called The Complete Decorated Journal, if anyone is interested in that sort of thing.

    So, on the top of my teetering to-read pile are Lucy's Killer Takeout (I'm that far behind), Hank's Air Time, Edith's Delivering the Truth, The Murder of Mary Russell, and Cara's Murder on the Quai. Thanks for giving me lots to add!

  14. Love all the Red's books(already pre-ordered Crowned and Dangerous), but have been into WW2 lately.
    **Ellie Dean writes the Beach View boarding house series set in the fictional English coastal town of Cliffhaven. Beginning in 1939, with "There'll be Blue Skies," up through "Sweet Memories of You" (1943), you follow Peggy Reilly and her family + extended family through the stories of the girls who have come to live with her because of the wartime conditions. It is a great series that Ms.Dean hopes to continue through into post-war England.
    **The other summer time series I read/re-read is the Darling Dahlias Mysteries, by Susan Wittig Albert. Set in Alabama during the Great Depression. The central characters are a wonderful group of woman who support each other through think and thin(and the party line - anyone remember what that is??). It is a great view of depression times, and more personal as you see the problems through a small community and the women who live there. While Ms.Albert is currently focused on non-series writing, I'm hopeful she will return to Darling, AL in the near future.
    **Donis Casey writes the Alafair Tucker series set in Oklahoma in the early 1900's. Alafair lives with her husband and 10 children on a prosperous farm beginning in 1910. With 10 children, plus the various extended family and in-laws, you have a wonderful picture of family as they live with the good and the bad. The latest "All Men Fear Me," brings the reader up to the 1917 with the introduction of WW1 and how it will influence Alifair's family.
    *For another choice you have Alice Duncan's Daisy Gumm Majesty series set in California during the 20's and 30's. Daisy is a "medium" who let's you know right away she doesn't have "powers" but uses her intuition and smarts to "see" things. It's fun and again an earlier time without the intrusion of technology (the telephone, telegraph and early motion pictures filling in for the iPhone and Instagram).

    If you see pattern in my reading of the "past" it is true. However, the more you see the past, the more you realize our present isn't so much different. All people have good and bad in their lives. But all of these series show the reliance of the human spirit and the "carry on" of love and togetherness.

  15. Great list, Hallie! I've read The Murder of Mary Russell and Wilde Lake, both excellent reads. The Murder of Mary Russell is on my "Favorite Reads for First Half of 2016" post on my reading blog. Also on that favorite reads list is I Let You Go by Clare Mackinstosh, The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths, Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Kristi Belcamino, Walleye Junction by Karin Salvalaggio, The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley, Heart of Stone by James Ziskin, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake by Terry Shames, The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney, A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd, and The Bengal Bridegift by Anne Cleeland, and Time of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen. There are a couple of 2015 reads in that list, as I caught up and am still catching up on some series. I caught up with Kristi Belcamino's Gabriella Giovanni series, Terry Shames' Samuel Craddock, and started Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge. All great series. The link to my blog for this particular list is

    The next list (I do love making lists) of reads I have are those coming out this summer, in the months of June through August. Upcoming reads on that list Bone and Ink by Lisa Unger (June), The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (July), Killer Look by Linda Fairstein (July), Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen (August), The One Man by Andrew Gross (August), and A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (August). There are more on that list, of course, but these are the ones I hope to actually get to this summer. Others can be found on the list on my blog in the post "Summer is Booked with Great Reading" at You might have to look at the sidebar and click on a back post for this one.

    And, then there is the reading that I am desperately trying to get done for Bouchercon that would make great summer reading, too. I'm getting ready to do a blog post on that, too. Right now, I'm reading Julia Dahl's award winning Invisible City, which is a great read. Others that I'm hoping to get in (time is running short) are Olivia Yu's Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge, Brian Panowich's Bull Mountain, Ben McPherson's A Line of Blood, Lisa Lutz's The Passenger, Allen Eisken's The Guise of Another, Harlan Coben's Fool Me Once, and Francine Matthews' Too Bad to Die.

    And, coming up next for me will be my ARC of The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia Macneal. I've actually been saving it for a delicious read right about now. Can't wait. And, I have Elly Griffith's ARC for Smoke and Mirrors, which is coming up soon. I also have Hank's Air Time on my short list, and so hope to get to it before Bouchercon. I have a couple of other books that are ARCs and wins that I'm trying like crazy to fit in soon. If only I didn't have to do anything else, I might stand a chance of achieving all that reading. Oh, well, too much reading is a great problem to have.

    Later today, I'll post some of the books I've recently purchased, too, some of which aren't included above, but are books I also can't wait to read.

  16. Great list, Hallie!

    I'm still reading mostly out-of genre this summer. If I read a mystery, I feel guilty - why am I reading this when I should be writing my own mystery?!?

    Two fantastic recent reads: THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by Mike Cary and ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfield. The former came to my attention when I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie; it's a zombie story that stands way out from a crowded field with a unique perspective and complex characters. The latter is a retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE that manages to pay homage to Austen without trying to do a line-by-line update - it may be the perfect beach read.

  17. I have not read any of the books on Hallie's list. Have not read much at all past few months, been having eye problems

    Book by Walter Mosley brought to mind
    ""Inspector Mosley series by John Greenwood (John Buxton Hilton)""
    the last 2, possibly 3 were published after his death,
    I really enjoyed that series back then, loved how Mosley annoyed the hell out of his super, he'd disappear for days on a case - good series, easy reads if you have not read them.

    I never realised he wrote two other series (no internet back then) under his own name, will have to try and hunt some of them down

    If it is a "thriller" you can be sure I have not read it, have only read a few , seem to end up with nightmares

    I read Sherri Bryan's Hamburgers, Homicide and a Honeymoon (The Charlotte Denver Cozy Mystery Series Book 5).....take place in a "smallish" town, love the main characters and a nice cozy series to read

    8th in Ruth Galloway/Nelson series by Elly Griffiths "The Woman in Blue"

    Glenville (Images of America)
    Burnt Hills (Images of America)
    Both are where I grew up - interesting history

    Mulled Murder, Pennyfoot hotel series by Kate Kingsbury, sadly last in series

    I have 100s of books on my tablet and 100s of "paper" books on my list to read, so I really need to live to 101 to read them all

    looking forward to reading ""Nowhere but Home, by Liza Palmer"" (thanks for the book Kayti Gage)

    If you have not read the Dido Hoare series by Marianne MacDonald, it is a good series, not available as E-book, but if you come across them, worth the read. Like most series you can read just one book, but if I'm starting to read and know it's a series, I start with book one as most authors develop their characters throughout the series

  18. Ohh, I love this list, Hallie. Happy to see Cara's book on your list. I hung out with her for the afternoon/evening while she was in town for her book tour --- she a nice one, that Cara!

    The #1 book I'm keen for on your list is Laura Lippman's latest (excluding the Reds' books--I do pretty well keeping up on my JRW TBR list).

    I finally read "The Girl on the Train"! That book's a discussion topic, for sure. :-) And I A-dored Carla Buckley's "The Good Goodbye." Right now, I'm reading a new-to-me author, one of the Scottish invasion: The Blackhouse by Peter May. I just started it yesterday--don't you love it when you can tell that you're in good hands? It's such a great feeling; you just know the book's going to be a good one.

    My second ("Whispers in the Mist") comes out next month, so actually, I haven't had as much time to read as usual. :-(

  19. Oh, Lisa! Peter May is a favorite of mine. The Blackhouse is amazing and the first in the wonderful Lewis trilogy. Entry Island is a great stand alone. I'm a bit behind in my Peter May reading. I should have included Coffin Road as one of my hope-to-read this summer books, but I suspect that it will be a fall read instead. I also have Run Away waiting. I was actually chosen as a Peter May Super Fan in a contest, and I happen to have two copies of Entry Island I can give out. If you want one, Lisa, message me on FB with your address. Of course, if anyone else wants the other one and is friends with me on FB, I'd be happy to give that one out, too.

    And, dang me, I had Whispers in the Mist on my to-read list for 2016, but I had failed to put it on my new books list. I will remedy that immediately, adding it to my blog on the summer reading list and to my word document.

  20. Hi Kathy! I can't believe I hadn't heard of May until yesterday in the bookstore. I love that there are so many delicious writers to discover. Never ends! I'll definitely FB message you ... Was it I who jokingly called myself a "book whore" not too long ago? Hmmm, I think so ... :-)

    No "dang me," you! It's all good--we can't have every book on our radars at all times. Thanks for adding me though! (I'll share.) Cheers, xo!

  21. Curtis Sitttenfeld is a Cincinnatian. And female. Her book's gotten a ton of buzz, and I keep meaning to get a copy. Thanks for the reminder!

  22. I'm caught up on Hank's "Time" books right now. And Rhys's until I get Crowned and Dangerous. I'm behind on Elly Griffiths; I have The Ghost Fields in my pile to be read. I love that series. I just read I Let You Go. What a great story. Halfway through I suddenly realized I had made a major erroneous assumption. I love when that kind of surprise happens. I will be picking up Gail Carriger's Imprudence to read quite soon; I love her genre. I'm also looking forward to Lisa Alber's next book.
    I am caught up on Anna Lee Huber's Lady Darby series. I happily recommend those for historical mystery lovers. I've got the second book in M.J.Carter's Blake and Avery series: The Infidel Stain. The first book, The Strangler Vine, took us to India with the Company in the 1840s. Of course there are many more books out there to read. So many good authors. I do have Karen White's latest from the library to read: Flight Patterns.

  23. I'm so intrigued by The Woman in Cabin 10! And eager to read. It's SO frustrating--her first book is around here somewhere, and I simply cannot find it…

    Loving all of these suggestions!

  24. I did read & enjoyed The Murder of Mary Russell and can recommend Elly Griffiths' The Woman in Blue. My very best read in some time & highly recommend Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun.

  25. I'm re-reading the first Hank the Cowdog book.


    Carla DeLauder

  26. I just finished Rock-a-bye bones, by Haines, and will start book 3 of Rachel Hall's series momentarily. Thanks Mar for mentioning the Pennyfoot Hotel series. I loved them, but they had slipped my mind. The only way I can read a "thriller" is to read the last chapter.. and that is cheating.

  27. No, no all good! ,Coralee, I do that, too!

  28. And Carla…I have a Hank The Cowdog poster on my bulletin board at my office!

  29. So many books, so little time, it's true. Feeling that more as I read these great recommendations. Thanks!

    P.S. When I comment on a Google blog as this one is, I am always eager to learn whether or not I am a robot. (Captcha) Okay, I'm safe for now.

  30. Summer reads:

    Arsenic with Arsenic by Katherie Bolger Hyde

    Food Critic Series by Lucy Burdette

    Book collector series by Victoria Abbott

    Bakeshop Series by Ellie Alexander (also another series by Kate Seeley Dyer)

    Crowned And Dangerous by Rhys Bowen (in August)

    Off the Kilter ? by Hannah Reed

    Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames

    Also, I read so many books in June and July that I cannot recall all of the titles.

    For a break from the cozies, a small novel written by the actress Olivia de Haviliand.


  31. Really great list of recommendations here; thanks so much! I think a book you will really enjoy is “Naked Ambition” by Rick Pullen ( As an avid follower of all things political (especially corrupt politics!) this book was right up my alley. What a perfect time in our history to publish a book like this! I love any stories that stick with me after I finish and this one will stay with me forever. It’s about a reporter uncovering corrupt secrets behind a candidate and the fallout that happens because of it; it really makes you think about how our political system works and exactly how much of it is “on the level”. I would consider it to be a unique read with a LOT of twists and turns. Definitely worth adding this one to your summer reading list