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Starred Review: Ask Not by Max Allan Collins

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment

“A master at thoroughly believable historical re-creations of unsolved or covered-up crimes, Collins is the perfect fiction writer to tackle the JFK assassination, and he does so brilliantly, working the edges of the story by focusing on the little-known raft of questionable suicides—all documented in the historical record… Even readers who aren’t conspiracy theorists will find themselves utterly drawn into the story and convinced by Collins’ version of what happened. And, best of all, it’s a terrific detective novel, compelling and well constructed even without the historical connection.”

Max Allan Collins’ Ask Not got a starred review in Booklist!*

Here’s the full review, from the August issue:

 The third in Collins’ trilogy of Nathan Heller novels about JFK, this one jumps from a few weeks before the assassination (Target Lancer, 2012), when a planned attempt on the president’s life in Chicago was aborted, to several months after the events of November 22, 1963. Heller becomes involved when he and his son are nearly run down as they leave a Beatles concert. Recognizing the driver as one of the Cubans involved in the Chicago plot, Heller sets out to take his family off the assassins’ radar and soon finds himself even deeper in hot water, as he follows the trail of a host of spurious suicides by witnesses of the shooting in Dallas whose versions of what happened conflict with the official, “one-man, one-shooter” version being promulgated by the Warren Commission. Teaming with TV star and investigative reporter Flo Kilgore (read Dorothy Kilgallen), who is on the verge of exposing the cover-up — and its ties to several LBJ cronies — Heller ruffles feathers at the CIA, in the Mob, and possibly even in (or very near) the White House. A master at thoroughly believable historical re-creations of unsolved or covered-up crimes, Collins is the perfect fiction writer to tackle the JFK assassination, and he does so brilliantly, working the edges of the story by focusing on the little-known raft of questionable suicides — all documented in the historical record — and making great use of the Kilgore/Kilgallen character, who was herself one of the unlikely suicides. Even readers who aren’t conspiracy theorists will find themselves utterly drawn into the story and convinced by Collins’ version of what happened. And, best of all, it’s a terrific detective novel, compelling and well constructed even without the historical connection. — Bill Ott

Ask Not will be published on October 22nd.

*Booklist is a subscription-only publication.

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

July 24, 2013 Leave a comment

About Delia’s Shadow: “Moyer creates a hauntingly real San Francisco, full of characters you can’t wait to get to know better. Delia’s Shadow is an engaging debut novel, one that cost me a good night’s sleep.” —Jim C. Hines, author of Libriomancer

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends August 21)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Starred Review: The Confessions of Al Capone by Loren D. Estleman

June 21, 2013 Leave a comment

“Estleman’s Capone is a complex and multifaceted figure: jovial family man, convivial host, sharp-dressed fashion plate, and pensive retiree contemplating his memories and mortality. Although mentally deteriorating, he is still, on his good days, a canny judge of character who is capable of ruthless retaliation. Verdict A tense and thoughtful historical thriller, recommended for all fans of crime fiction and historical novels.”

Loren D. Estleman’s The Confessions of Al Capone gets a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review:

 In 1939, Al Capone was released from Alcatraz after serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for income tax evasion. Suffering from the effects of syphilis he had contracted as a young man, the former gang boss retired to a palatial beach house near Miami, where he lived with his wife and son until his death in 1947. Into this historical scenario, Estleman, the popular and award-winning author of 70 novels, weaves a gripping fictional tale of a young FBI agent on a perilous mission. Owing to his family connections with the Capone “outfit” and his training at a Catholic seminary, Peter Vasco is seen by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as an ideal tool with which to infiltrate Capone’s household, masquerading as a priest, and collect information that can be used to investigate Capone’s family and associates. In addition to this difficult mission, Vasco faces the awkward duty of mending his strained relationship with his father, whose link to the Capone gang during Peter’s childhood years remains murky and unexplained, and his own unresolved feelings about his unfinished religious training. Estleman’s Capone is a complex and multifaceted figure: jovial family man, convivial host, sharp-dressed fashion plate, and pensive retiree contemplating his memories and mortality. Although mentally deteriorating, he is still, on his good days, a canny judge of character who is capable of ruthless retaliation.

Verdict A tense and thoughtful historical thriller, recommended for all fans of crime fiction and historical novels. [Previewed in Kristi Chadwick’s “Following the Digital Clues: Mystery Genre Spotlight,” LJ 4/15/13.—Ed.]—Bradley Scott, Corpus Christie, TX

The Confessions of Al Capone was published on June 11th.

Starred Review: Hell or Richmond by Ralph Peters

May 30, 2013 Leave a comment

“One of the great Civil War novels of our time.”

Ralph Peters’ Hell or Richmond gets a starred review in Booklist! Here’s the full review:

 The author of Cain at Gettysburg (2012) now offers what is intended to be the first of a trilogy taking the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia through their last and worst year of fighting. The setting, superbly researched and brought to life, supports three masterful battle pieces: the Wilderness, the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania, and the doomed Union assault at Cold Harbor. The real strength of the book is the way the characters, all of them historical, are given life, even if some of them have to be reconstructed. We have a dysentery-ridden Robert E. Lee and an authentically laid-back Ulysses S. Grant. We meet Francis Barlow, a New England aristocrat; Stephen Oates, an Alabama brawler; and John B. Gordon, a Georgian with a natural gift for both combat leadership and inspiring speeches. We meet the Fiftieth Pennsylvania, a motley array of veteran canal men seen through the eyes of Sergeant (and later reluctant Lieutenant) Charles Brown. This is not a book for the squeamish—the effects of canister against massed troops and the uncensored language of Stephen Oates and Generals Charles Griffin and Philip Sheridan come to mind. But none of this should daunt readers who want to pick up one of the great Civil War novels of our time—and are prepared to risk not being able to put it down until they are done. — Roland Green

Hell or Richmond is out now!