Fiction Review

A Holiday Note

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Are you getting ready for the holidays? Here’s a note from Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen.

A Holiday Booknews
To make your holiday shopping easy — Thanksgiving is late this year and shortening up your time — I have listed    Free gift wrap, Poisoned Pen logo merchandise, a membership in our Mystery of the Month Club which can be customized for the recipient, books for holiday reading, gift book ideas, puzzles, books & beverage combos, Best American Writing 2019 in several fields, gift ideas spread over a wide range of subjects, and my annual roundup of new cookbooks, always winners. Here is the link to the Holiday Booknews   Don’t forget you can sign anyone up for our Enews which is free.  

Those Best of…Lists

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Readers love lists, and there are often lists of books toward the end of the year. Bookstores love lists because readers will often pick up books through the Web Store when they discover titles they might have missed. As you peruse a couple lists here, don’t forget the Web Store is available for your purchasing needs.

CrimeReads just put together their list of “The 10 Best Crime Novels of the Decade”. Those titles, with summaries, are interesting, but I found the attached list of “Notable Selections” even better. Don’t forget to browse those selections as well.

You’ll notice that CrimeReads did not include any books published in 2019, and they gave their reasons. However, Library Journal just released their list of Best Crime Fiction of 2019. In the United States, that magazine has a great deal of influence because libraries buy books based on the reviews in that journal. If you’re interested in this year’s crime fiction, check out the list from Library Journal.

Then, don’t forget to check the Web Store!

Laurie R. King’s Hot Book of the Week

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It might come as a surprise to some that Laurie R. King’s current Hot Book of the Week at The Poisoned Pen is not a Mary Russell mystery. Instead, Beginnings is a Kate Martinelli novel. And, King will be at The Poisoned Pen on Thursday, November 21 at 7 PM to talk about Martinelli and the book. You can order copies of Laurie R. King’s books, including a signed copy of Beginnings, through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of Beginnings.

INSPECTOR KATE MARTINELLI has worked the SFPD’s Homicide Detail for nearly thirty years. She knows all about how a cop builds a case bit by bit to create a clear story from the scattered pieces of evidence. Until the day her fifteen-year-old daughter, Nora, happens to ask about an aunt she’d never met. Kate’s kid sister died in the 1980s, a wild young woman who lost control of a car and hit a tree, end of story … except it isn’t. Because once Kate begins to look, seeking to reassure Nora that it was only a senseless accident and not the suicide a small town’s gossip made it, she starts to find pieces that don’t fit the picture. Holes in the evidence. Mismatched fragments that change the story Kate has told herself all these years-the story that for her, was the beginning of everything.

What did happen in Diamond Lake that night? Was it an accident, or a hushed-up suicide? Or was her sister’s death something darker yet?

The Decade’s Book Trend? – The Unreliable Narrator

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As the end of the year approaches, there are all kinds of “Best of” lists. If you scanned Entertainment Weekly‘s lists of their Best of the Decade, you’ll come across their Book Trend of the Decade. According to Leah Greenblatt, it’s the Unreliable Narrator. Think about books such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Here’s the link to Greenblatt’s short article.

If you’re a fan of unreliable narrators, you might want to check out Emily Martin’s list for BookRiot, “50 Must-Read Books with Unreliable Narrators”. Now, check The Poisoned Pen’s Web Store for those must-read books.

Bonnie MacBird in Conversation

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Let’s kick off the week with talk of Sherlock Holmes and London, and all things Sherlockian. Bonnie MacBird, author of The Devil’s Due, was recently at The Poisoned Pen. She spent time in conversation with Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore. You can order her Sherlock Holmes adventures, including a signed copy of The Devil’s Due, through the Web Store.

Here’s the short blurb about The Devil’s Due.

After Art in the Blood and Unquiet Spirits, Holmes and Watson are back in the third of Bonnie MacBird’s critically acclaimed Sherlock Holmes Adventures, written in the tradition of Conan Doyle himself.


Better than the blurb, here’s the chance to listen to the conversation.

Why Support Independent Bookstores?

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This is probably preaching to the choir. If you’re reading this blog, you probably order a book occasionally from The Poisoned Pen. But, you might not have thought about why you’re helping out an author.

Nick Douglas wrote a piece recently for It’s called, “The Best Thing You Can Do to Support a New Book.” If you have a favorite author with a new book coming out, you might want to take a look at the article.

And, don’t forget The Poisoned Pen’s Web Store when you’re thinking of your favorite authors.

Joseph Kanon, In Conversation

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Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, and Joseph Kanon, author of The Accomplice, have known each other for over twenty years. That always means a conversation will cover a lot of ground and a lot of history. You might want to order copies of Kanon’s books, including a signed copy of The Accomplice, through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of The Accomplice.

“Gripping and authentic…Kanon’s imagination flourishes [and] the narrative propulsion is clear. A thoroughly satisfying piece of entertainment that extends a tentacle into some serious moral reflection.” —The New York Times Book Review

The “master of the genre” (The Washington Post) Joseph Kanon returns with a heart-pounding and intelligent espionage novel about a Nazi war criminal who was supposed to be dead, the rogue CIA agent on his trail, and the beautiful woman connected to them both.

Seventeen years after the fall of the Third Reich, Max Weill has never forgotten the atrocities he saw as a prisoner at Auschwitz—nor the face of Dr. Otto Schramm, a camp doctor who worked with Mengele on appalling experiments and who sent Max’s family to the gas chambers. As the war came to a close, Schramm was one of the many high-ranking former-Nazi officers who managed to escape Germany for new lives in South America, where leaders like Argentina’s Juan Perón gave them safe harbor and new identities. With his life nearing its end, Max asks his nephew Aaron Wiley—an American CIA desk analyst—to complete the task Max never could: to track down Otto in Argentina, capture him, and bring him back to Germany to stand trial.

Unable to deny Max, Aaron travels to Buenos Aires and discovers a city where Nazis thrive in plain sight, mingling with Argentine high society. He ingratiates himself with Otto’s alluring but wounded daughter, whom he’s convinced is hiding her father. Enlisting the help of a German newspaper reporter, an Israeli agent, and the obliging CIA station chief in Buenos Aires, he hunts for Otto—a complicated monster, unexpectedly human but still capable of murder if cornered. Unable to distinguish allies from enemies, Aaron will ultimately have to discover not only Otto, but the boundaries of his own personal morality, how far he is prepared to go to render justice.

“With his remarkable emotional precision and mastery of tone” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Joseph Kanon crafts another compelling and unputdownable thriller that will keep you breathlessly turning the pages.


And, here’s your chance to hear that conversation between Joseph Kanon and Barbara Peters.