Recommendation from the SMSA Crime & Mystery Book Club

Apologies in the delay in this month's recommendation.  The theme was colour - in the title, as a theme, anything.  As long as there was a colour involved.  Here are the recommendations:


 The Deep Blue Good-by by John D MacDonald

This is the first of 21 Travis McGee novels written between 1964 and 1984.  It introduces us to Trav as he likes to be called, a man of principle living on a houseboat he won in a poker game moored at Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. McGee is a salvage consultant, which is quite a new concept for 1964 and in this book he takes a job related to Junior Allen,  who smuggled a fortune home during the Second World War and hide it in the Florida Keys. A running theme in this series of books is that there is a price to pay for a successful recovery, whether it is emotional, physical or fiscal, and that is certainly the case in this novel.  What is great about this series is that Trav ages through the 21 books and the stories reflect the era in which they are being written.  

Pitch Black.jpg

Pitch Black by Alex Gray

Set in Glasgow, this is a Chief Inspector Lorimer novel published in 2009.  It is focused on the world's game at a club level.  The latest signing to Kelvin Football Club is found dead, and Lorimer delves into the the business and culture of Scottish football.

It does not matter if you like football or not, this is a well written tightly woven crime novel. 


 19 Red Roses by Torben Nielsen

19 Red Roses is a Danish crime novel written in 1973. It was made into a movie by the Danish in 1974 with Poul Reichhardt as Detective Ancher.  Ancher heads up a team that investigates a series of murders that happen over a few days that are seem to be unrelated.  The team start to connect the deaths and an understanding of a serial killer comes to the fore. Its popularity at the time led to it being translated into English in 1978.  It is now a rare book as it has not been reissued in a while.

white mask.jpg

White Masks by Elias Khoury

Note a typical crime novel, White Masks is about a Lebanese citizen brutally murdered in a city torn apart by civil war. The central question of this book is - If everyone around you is dying in war, why should you care if someone is murdered for a reason not related to war? The narrator, a bored travel agent, stumbles through the novel unraveling the secrets, lies and corruptions of the early part of the war in Lebanon in the 1980s. 


False Colours by Miriam Borgenicht

Written in 1986, this is a crime novel of its era. High drama, scandal and big money, False Colours has hints of a Shirley Conran or Judith Krantz novel mixed with a crime novel, so much so you can feel the shiny synthetic fibers and the shoulder pads.  Under all that is an interesting story about sisters, their relationship and what you think you owe your family.


 The Black Monastery by Stav Sherez

Set on Palassosa, a small Greek island with historic ruins and an old monastery which was site of recurring cults through the history of the island.  There are three main characters in the novel - local police chief, Nikos, who is back on the island for the final days of his career and two English tourists, bestselling crime writer Kitty Carson and aspiring writer, Jason, who work together to find the truth of the island and its inhabitants. This is a good story and fun to read, with some great insight into communities and history repeating itself.    


The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh

This is the third 'Lord Peter Wimsey' novel that Jill Paton Walsh has written, continuing the world and characters created by Dorothy L Slayers. A prolific author in her own right, she has written over 20 children books and four detective stories featuring part-time college nurse Imogen Quy.  According to Wikipedia she has published three novels about Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane: Thrones, Dominations (1998), a completion of Sayers' manuscript left unfinished at her death; A Presumption of Death (2002), based on the "Wimsey Papers", letters ostensibly written by various Wimseys and published in The Spectator during the Second World War; and The Attenbury Emeralds (2010), based on Lord Peter's "first case", briefly referred to in a number of Sayers' novels.


Fright by Cornell Woolrich

The website about the publishers of Hard Case Crime says it all - "A man. A woman. A kiss in the dark. That is how it begins. But before his nightmare ends, Prescott Marshall will learn that kisses and darkness can both hide evil intent—and that the worst darkness of all may be lurking inside him.

Lost for more than half a century and never before published under Cornell Woolrich’s real name, Fright is a breathtaking noir crime novel worthy of the writer who has been called "one of the giants of mystery fiction" and “the Hitchcock of the written word.”  This a a great noir novel set in the early 20th Century.  A bit before the usual era for noir, but with all the tropes.


 The Red Room by Nicci French

Nicci French writes psychological thrillers, or should I say that the English husband-and-wife team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French who use the pseudonym of Nicci French write psychological thrillers. The Red Room was published in 2001 and it involves psychologist Kit Quinn who in the past was scarred after meeting a troubled man who had been arrested. In the present day, the police ask her to review a case that involves the same man. This starts Kit on the case.

Dark horse.jpg

Dark Horse by Honey Brown

An Australian novel set in the Victorian High Country, Dark Horse is a story about perspective.  It is told from the point of view of Sarah Barnard who goes on a ride to the outskirts of her property to get away from her troubles for an afternoon.  Her troubles being a broken marriage and a her stables going bankrupt. She gets caught in a storm that washes out the way back home and she has to take refuge in a cabin. A cabin she has to share with another person caught in the storm, injured bushwalker Heath.  There is mistrust and a wariness between the characters, especially when it shifts perspective to Heath.  Who to trust, who is telling the truth, who is a good guy or gal.  You have to read to find out.

Next month the theme is a crime in a far flung place.