My review of The Plague of Thieves Affair is live and available at Ed Gorman’s blog. The Plague of Thieves is an historical
detective novel set in late-nineteenth century San Francisco, and has the
flavor of a Sherlock Holmes tale—including a Sherlock impersonator—with two
whodunit mysteries and grit enough to make it interesting.
Purchase a copy of The Plague of Thieves Affair at Amazon.
Stark House Press’s latest original novel is now
available in very attractive trade paperback and ebook versions. Its title is Truth Always Kills, and its author is
Rick Ollerman. Rick is the king of the Introduction at Stark House—a vocation
he has mastered—and his fiction is no less intriguing.
I was given the opportunity to write the Introduction
for Truth Always Kills, which was daunting
since there was little chance I could introduce Mr. Ollerman’s work as well as he
introduces the work of others. I gave it my best go, but it pales in comparison
to the novel. A novel that is half parts suspense and crime, and very good.
at Wimbledon is the fourth novel featuring aging
tennis pro Brad Smith. It was published in 1991 by Tor, and it has a certain
nostalgia for me since it was the first Brad Smith, and Jack Bickham, novel I
read back in the long ago. It is also pretty good, and represents Brad Smith’s
transition from cold war to post-cold war hero.
Brad is uneasy when his old pal and CIA contact Collie
Davis makes an unannounced appearance at his Bitterroot Valley Resort—
Davis did not make casual visits.”
—with good reason, as it turns out. Collie wants Brad
to accept an invitation to play at Wimbledon. A legitimate terrorist threat has
been identified, and it centers around a young Irish tennis star named Sean
Cork. Brad’s job: play tennis, ingratiate himself with Sean Cork, and collect
information. All very hands-off with no expected direct danger. Unsurprisingly,
it is more complicated than it is supposed to be, and the danger is very real,
and very personal, to Brad.
This is one of my favorite of the Brad Smith novels,
and for more reasons than mere nostalgia. It brings something new to the
series—terrorists rather than communists—without losing the atmosphere and tone
of the previous novels. It helps that Brad’s Soviet nemesis Sylvester remains a
key player, and it includes more tennis action than any of the novels since Tiebreaker, which is good since Mr.
Bickham writes it so well. It is the longest, and includes the largest cast, of
any of the novels. There is a drug crazy American tennis star playing doubles
with Brad, an Irish entrepreneur millionaire with a taste for both money and
tennis, the very naïve Sean Cork, and a bunch of terrorists that run the gamut
in both sophistication and psychopathy.
The most interesting character is an MI5 agent named
Clarence Tune. Tune is assigned to liaise with Brad, and keep him safe, which
is telling on the perceived importance—or lack thereof—of Smith’s mission. Tune
is not given high priority or sensitive assignments, and he is considered less
an agent and more a liability by his peers. His character is summed early by
has not told me so, but I think there must be some other substance excreted by
people whose lives have been marked by failure. Such people emit a sour, acidic
smell, the work of a few molecules, perhaps, and so primitive that it
communicates on a psychic level I cannot understand.”
—if only partially
accurate since Tune’s presence, and assistance, is essential to defeating the
underlying terrorist plot. A plot that is not made clear until the final pages
of the novel. The action is plausible, and the pacing is superb. It has the
highest level of characterization of all the novels, and—despite an aged
plot—is as readable today as it was 25 years ago.
The latest issue of Mystery Scene Magazine—No. 142—is now available at newsstands everywhere.
The issue is packed (as usual). It features an in-depth article about BBC’s Foyle’s War, an interview with Robert J.
Randisi, and comprehensive look at the Library
of America’s Women Crime Writers of the 1940s and 1950s.