Crime & Mystery set in Los Angeles

Our focus for this meeting of the Crime and Mystery Book Club of the Library of the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts was the location of Los Angeles, USA. There were a variety of books and authors read, the ones you expect and a couple of wild cards. Here they are in no particular order:

Switch Blade; The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Trunk Music by Michael Connelly  

City of Echoes by Robert Ellis

The Pictures by Guy Bolton

The Monkey's Raincoat; The Sentry by Robert Crais

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

The Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder by Steve Hodel

Inner City Blues by Paula L. Woods

The Final Analysis of Dr Stark by Joseph Telushkin

Case Pending; Knave of Hearts by Dell Shannon

Malicious Mischief by Lesley Egan (AKA Dell Shannon) 

The Big Sleep; Farewell My Lovely; The Lady In The Lake by Raymond Chandler

The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald

To Fetch A Thief by Spencer Quinn

The Kept Girl by Kim Cooper

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

The Song is You by Megan Abbott

The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Coffee, Tea or Bonnox Themed Crime Books

New Year & Over 40 Recommendations from the Latest SMSA Crime & Mystery Book Club

Welcome to 2016 and the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library crime & mystery book club's latest recommendations. All of them read over the holiday period. Click on the books listed below for reviews and information. Enjoy.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

Her Royal Spyness Mysteries by Rhys Bowen

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Play Dead by Bill James

The Fall of Man in Wilmslow; The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh

Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School for Villainy by Shamini Flint

Shoulder The Sky by Anne Perry

Chosen Perry by Karen Grigsby Bates

Smoke and Mirrors by Kel Robertson

Grandad, There's A Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill

City of the Dead by Sara Gran

The Marathon Conspiracy by Gary Corby

Dishing The Dirt by M.C. Beaton

Chance Developments by Alexander McCall Smith

Even Days in the Wild by Ian Rankin

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Dictator by Robert Harris

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

The Whites by Richard Price

The Spies of Warsaw; The Polish Officer; The World At Night by Alan Furst

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

The Dark Side of the Road by Simon R. Green

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Macneal

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

Looking for Rachel Wallace by Robert B Parker

The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman

Singing the Sadness by Reginald Hill

Three Crooked Kings by Matthew Condon

Red Mass by Rosemary Aubert

The Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Georges Simenon

Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner

Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer

A Morning for Flamingos by James Lee Burke

Acute Misfortune - The Life & Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen

The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

See you next month.


A Second Helping of Crime Novels Featuring The Theatre, TV, Film or Music

Here are some more recommendations of crime novels featuring the theatre, TV, film or music. They range from the golden age of British crime to a modern take on the 1950s. Enjoy.

The Shadow of Death, The Perils of Night by James Runcie
The Shadow of Death is a collection of short stories that introduces us to Canon Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester. It is 1953 and 32 year old bachelor Sidney is looking for a quiet life after his experiences during World War Two. Sidney becomes friends with Inspector Geordie Keating when a parishoner asks Sidney to look into the apparent suicide of her husband. The Perils of Night continues Sidney’s adventures in the mid and late 1950s and takes Sidney abroad to the Berlin and the beginning of the building of the Berlin Wall

The first series of stories have been dramatised for British TV with a series called Granchester. According to his website, James Runcie “is a writer and director. He is the author of The Grantchester Mysteries, Visiting Professor at Bath Spa University, and a fiction reviewer for The Independent. James Runcie was born in 1959, educated at Marlborough College, Cambridge University and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and lives in Edinburgh and London.”

The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid
This is a non-fiction novel about forensics and research behind solving crimes. Val McDermid is bestselling crime author who was once a journalist with the Manchester newspaper in her youth. She interviews forensic scientists and uncovers the context and history of the development of this science. From war zones to convicting murderers McDermid traces the story of forensics from its beginning in the late 1800s to modern day. An interesting read. 

Val McDermid is a prolific British writer, according to her website, "I started writing Report for Murder in 1984, and it was published by The Women's Press in 1987. The rest is history...I finally gave up the day job in April 1991, and I've been making my living by writing ever since."

Performance by Douglas Clark
Douglas Clark has written 27 Masters and Green novels starting with Nobody’s Perfect in 1969. Masters is Detective Chief Superintendent George Masters of Scotland Yard and Green is his assistant Bill Green. Performance (1985) is the 23rd novel in the series and it focuses on a series of eleven murders in the north of England. Masters and Green are sent to help the Northern Counties police with background and research into the unsolved cases. During the local performance of Handel’s Messiah, the alto soloist falls dead on stage. The twelfth victim. Masters and Green investigate.


Cool Repentance by Antonia Fraser
Cool Repentance is a Jemima Shore mystery. TV journalist Jemima Shore has been asked to present a program on the Larminster Festival (a theatre festival) and one of the main performers at the festival is Christobel Herriot, a beautiful and notorious actress who the subject of scandal and gossip. Jemima becomes involved when it becomes clear that Christobel’s life is danger at the festival after the series of murders.

British author, Antonia Fraser is known for her historical novels and biographies. Her crime fiction is focused on her Jemima Shore novels. She was made DBE in 2011 for here services to literature.

Fear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson
Nicola Upson has created a series of novels featuring real life crime author Josephine Tey. Fear in the Sunlight is set in 1936 in Welsh resort, Portmeirion, where Josephine Tey is celebrating her fortieth birthday. She is joined by Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville who are there to sign a film deal for Tey’s novel A Shilling for Candles. Hitchcock is keeping the party entertained with a trick about exposing people’s greatest fears. The next day one of Hollywood’s leading actresses is found brutally slashed to death in a cemetery near the village. Tey’s good friend Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Archie Penrose is on hand to help Tey solve the mystery. 

Crime & Mystery Books featuring the Theatre, TV, Film or Music

Here is the first set of recommendations for books featuring theatre, TV, film or music as a major theme or setting from the Crime and Mystery Book Club at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library.  

All My Enemies by Barry Maitland
This is a Kolla and Brock novel which begins with DS Kathy Kolla about to start a new job with the New Scotland Yard Serious Crime Division headed up by DCI David Brock. Kolla’s is assigned to her first case in the Division which involves the gruesome murder of a young woman that seems theatrical. The case leads her into a local amateur drama group and a more complex set of circumstances. 

As highlighted before on this blog, Barry Maitland was born in 1941 in Scotland. He studied architecture at Cambridge, practised and taught in the UK before moving to Australia, where he became a Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. He retired in 2000 and took up writing full-time.

A Decent Interval, So Much Blood by Simon Brett
A Decent Interval and So Much Blood, both feature the actor and amateur sleuth, Charles Paris. The Paris novels are one of four series written by Simon Brett. The others feature Mrs Pargeter, Fethering, and brother and sister - Blotto & Twinks. A Decent Interval book picks up Charles’ life when he is cast as the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father and First Gravedigger in the latest production of Hamlet. Charles finds himself one of the more experienced theatre actors in the cast with the role of Ophelia being played by the winner of a television talent show, and another reality TV contestant playing the lead role of Hamlet. What could go wrong?

In So Much Blood, Charles is in a fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival which becomes the backdrop to a gory murder involving a fading pop star. 

Steel Guitar by Linda Barnes
Linda Barnes was born in Detriot the home of Motown, and moved to Boston for college. She sets her PI Carlotta Carlyle novels in her adopted home town. In Steel Guitar, Carlotta is moonlighting as a hack driver when she picks up a fare that is a blast from the past. The fare is Carlotta’s ex-friend and former band mate Dee Willis, who has made it big on the charts. Dee hires Carlotta to find a friend and involves Carlotta in a story of blackmail, murder and stolen songwriting credit.



A Pocketful of RyeWitness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie

Two of Agatha Christie’s many many novels were recommended, The Witness for the Prosecution and A Pocketful of RyeThe Witness for the Prosecution is a short story and play that was published in 1925. A Pocket Full of Rye, on the other hand, was published in 1953. It is one of her later novels featuring Miss Marple and is based on a children’s nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence.



Vintage Murder, Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh
Another Dame of Golden Age crime fiction was recommended for this theme. New Zealander Ngaio Marsh was primarily known for her Inspector Roderick Alleyn novels, a gentleman detective who works for the London Metropolitan Police. The first of her novel highlighted is Overture, which focuses on amateur actors in the village of Chipping who are putting on a production for charity when one of the cast members, wealthy spinster Idris Campanula is killed. The second novel is Vintage Murder, fifth in the Alleyn series, and it centres on a travelling theatre troupe in New Zealand.


A Three Pipe Problem by Julian Symons
This book is about Sherlock Holmes, the literary character. The story's protagonist is Sheridan Haynes, an actor, who plays Holmes in a TV series. Sheridan becomes a method actor when there are a series of unsolved murders in London and he starts to investigate. What could go wrong?

Julian Symons is an English author who has written a huge amount of books ranging subjects from social and military history to biography, criticism and crime. He was named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America in 1982. He also succeeded Agatha Christie as the president of Britain's Detection Club.