That Old Time Religion

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Ex-con Shadow Moon has nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to. The wife, the job, and the quiet life that were supposed to be waiting for him have all been ripped away in a single tragic car accident.

On his way to his wife’s funeral he encounters Mr. Wednesday, a mysterious grifter with a job offer and more knowledge about Shadow than it should be possible for a stranger to know.

There’s a storm coming, a physical and metaphysical tempest that will change everything Shadow knows about America and the wider world. Mr. Wednesday might just be the one to help Shadow ride out the storm or he could be the one who will let him drown.

Double Double There’s Going to be Trouble

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell

An “evil” corporation wants to build a superstore in the remote English village of Lychford. As you would expect the village is split between those in favor and those against the store and the conflict has created deep divides between the normally amiable villagers. On the whole, pretty average narrative and plot…but not really. Lychford was founded on a very special location, it stands on the nexus where a variety of worlds intersect with this one and any change in the local scenery could prove disastrous.

Only one person, local character Judith Mawson knows the danger the construction of the superstore would cause but with no one to help (and no one who would believe her even if they were inclined to) this may be a battle she has no way of winning.

A Murder a Day

Bertie and the Seven Bodies by Peter Lovesey

Monday’s corpse is fair of face,

Tuesday’s corpse is full of grace,

Wednesday’s corpse is full of woe,

Thursday’s corpse has far to go,

Friday’s corpse is loving and giving,

Saturday’s corpse works hard for a living,

The corpse that dies on the Sabbath day

Is bonnie and blithe and good and gay.

Next Stop, Murder!

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Picture the scene: a train stuck in the snow in the middle of rural Yugoslavia. In one of the first class compartments, a man lies dead stabbed multiple times. Who was this Mr. Ratchett, a wealthy man with the air of a benevolent philanthropist and the eyes of a cunning animal and why would someone hate him enough to stab him twelve times?

With no way for the murderer to leave the train undiscovered, the culprit must be one of the passengers on the train. But who among this seemingly random collection of people of various social backgrounds hailing from several different countries could have done it? Each has an alibi, but each alibi is reliant upon the testimony of another subject. Who did it, why did they do it, where is the murder weapon?

Hercule Poirot must make use of all the deductive powers of his “little grey cells” to answer all of these questions and solve the Murder on the Orient Express!

Once More With Violence

The Builders by Daniel Polansky

The last job they had did not end like they hoped it would. Betrayed and bloodied, the animals of Captain’s company (those that survived at any rate), scattered and have spent the time since then trying to stay hidden, build new lives, and forget.

But the time is right for evening the score. It is time to stop hiding. It is time to gather the survivors for one last desperate plan. This time it’s not for fame, it’s not for riches, this time it is personal. This time it’s for revenge.

Look Out Below!

Friends in High Places by Donna Leon

When Commissario Guido Brunetti receives a visit from a bureaucrat from the Ufficio Catasto (at his home on a Saturday, no less!). It appears that the apartment he and his family have been living in for years was built without any of the proper permits being filed and therefore he must either provide documentation proving it was built legally or vacate the premises.

Brunetti assumes it is either at best a garden-variety example of Venice’s legendary bureaucratic inefficiency or at worst a clumsy attempt at some kind of official “shakedown”. Like any Venetian he forgoes any official channels and immediately begins to think of who amidst his circle of family, friends, acquaintances, and individuals who owe him a favor he can call on to resolve this problem. But when time passes and he hears nothing more regarding the matter his dismisses it from his mind and gets back to his police work.

The matter is soon brought to his attention again when the young official is found dead not too long after contacting Brunetti and wishing to talk to him in his capacity as a police Commissario. Was this young man’s death an accident as much of the evidence gathered at the crime scene suggests, or is there a more sinister behind the death of someone who’s only crime seems to be overzealous dedication to his job?

Interesting Times

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

 

Though he occasionally entertains thoughts of travel and adventure in the wider world Erdemoglu Selim abd al-Rahim, is perfectly content staying where he is brewing tea and fulfilling his duties as a lieutenant in the Ottoman Empire’s Janissary Corps, duties which are not exciting or even slightly interesting. That is until he comes in contact with Delilah Dirk.

Born to an aristocratic English father and a Greek mother (reputed to be one of the finest artisans in her homeland) Delilah Dirk has traveled the world learning marksmanship in France, survival techniques in the jungles of India, acrobatics in Indonesia, and has spent seven years studying fighting techniques in a Japanese monastery . A high-ranking member of at least three royal courts she is reputed to be able to fly and is the master of forty-seven different sword-fighting techniques which she has used to face down, twenty-nine Sikh swordsmen; thirty-two conquistadors; fifty-one Australian aboriginal warriors; a small pride of lions; and “one very large Mongolian man with a large sword, a small brain, and a bad temper.”

If Lieutenant Selim was looking for adventure he certainly has found it. Or perhaps it has found him, whether he wanted it to or not.