The Thin Man by Dashiel Hammett
Let’s get one thing straight, Nick Charles is not working on the Julia Wolf case. He’s not even remotely interested in working on the Julia Wolf case. He’s just here in New York to spend some time with his wife and their dog Asta. Yes he was a detective, but he’s been out of the game for years.
Problem is, nobody believes him. The cops don’t believe him, the newspapers don’t believe him, even the main suspect doesn’t believe him.
Oh well, if nobody believes him he might as well take a look.
Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale
It is the year 1218 AD and the Roman Empire has come to North America. In its endless drive for land and gold the Empire has sent Praetor Gaius Marcellinus and the 33rd Legion to this new land to conquer it and claim it for Rome.
But these are not the settled lands of the Roman Empire and as the 33rd Legion marches further into the continent’s interior it comes into conflict with a civilization like nothing the legionaries have ever seen and it is soon massacred by warriors using weapons and tactics like none they have ever faced. The only survivor is Gaius Marcellinus, kept alive in the hope that his military knowledge will prove useful to his captors.
The world is changing and the distant threat of the encroaching Roman Empire is not the only threat that the people of Cahokia face. It may be that the knowledge possessed by Gaius Marcellinus may be the only thing that stands between them and their utter destruction.
Old Venus edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Once upon a time we looked up in the sky and saw a planet. Shrouded in a layer of impenetrable clouds we could only guess what wonders were on its surface. Clouds usually indicate rain so was this a planet of torrential downpours feeding massive jungles and immense seas? What strange life lurked beneath the clouds of Venus? Were there crumbling and decadent civilizations there as there might have been on old Mars? Or was this a planet of wilderness with jungles, swamps, and seas teaming with wondrous and monstrous varieties of life?
Well it’s not. Science has since revealed that the surface of Venus is hotter than Mercury (the planet closest to the Sun) and covered with clouds of sulfuric acid and an atmosphere that is 96% carbon dioxide. Nothing has ever lived on the surface of Venus, and perhaps never will.
But what if it were different. What if Venus could support life? What if all those old stories were true? What sort of a world would Venus be? What kind of species would live there? What would life there be like? What kind of adventures would be waiting there for those Earthmen brave, or foolish, enough to travel there?
Careless in Red by Elizabeth George
It has often been said that work is the best cure for grief.
No matter how far he walks along the coastlines of Cornwall Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley cannot seem to escape the senseless death of his wife, gunned down in the street outside their home. Neither, does it seem, can he escape his work.
Forty-three days into his journey he comes across the body of a young man lying dead at the bottom of a cliff and what is initially taken as a tragic accident becomes something far more sinister.
Detained as a witness Lynley soon becomes drawn into the investigation at the insistence of the detective in charge of the case. But is a man so overwhelmed by grief that he was willing to walk away from his life really the right man for the job?
206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
Where am I?
Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan wakes up to find herself tied up and imprisoned in a dank enclosed space with no memory of where she is or how she got there. Where is she, how did she get here, does anyone know where she is?
As she struggles to escape her prison, Dr. Brennan tries to piece together the events of the past few days trying to figure out who or what lead her to this point. Did this have something to do with one of the cases she was working on, or has she become a new killer’s next victim?
Liberty by Garrison Keillor
It’s the Fourth of July in Lake Wobegon, but all is not well in the Little Town That Time Forgot. For the past six years the town’s Fourth of July celebrations have all been sensational. Rockets, cannons, painted bandwagons pulled by high-stepping Percherons, crack drum and bugle corps, the Leaping Lutherans Parachute Team, the Betsy Ross Blanket Toss, the Founding Fathers marching down Main Street lead by a stilt-walking Uncle Sam and Miss Liberty resplendent in her seven-pointed crown. All made possible by the efforts of Clint Bunsen, Chairman of the Lake Wobegon Fourth of July Committee.
But you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs and you can’t plan a spectacular Fourth of July celebration without stepping on a few toes and his success has made him a few enemies. Add to that an uncertain marriage, a liaison with the Internet psychic who played Miss Liberty in last year’s parade, and the startling revelation that he is not Norwegian (he is in fact nearly half Spanish).
So now what? Should he stay in Lake Wobegon and give his marriage and his life a chance, decamp to California with his lover Angelica Pflame, or is now the time to announce his intention to run for Congress? Should he stay where he is or Is this the time to declare his Liberty?
Unnatural Causes by P.D. James
For Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh it was supposed to be a vacation, a few days spent with his Aunt Jane at her cottage on the Suffolk coast. But, as always seems to happen in these instances, fate had other ideas. It begins the night of his arrival with a gathering of his aunt’s neighbors it seems one of their number, detective novelist Maurice Seton has gone missing.
Superintendent Dalgliesh can barely finish telling them that he, as a member of London’s Metropolitan Police, has no jurisdiction in this part of England (besides which he is supposed to be on vacation) when word reaches them that Maurice Seton has been found. Found dead with his hands chopped off and floating off the shore in a dinghy. So much for a peaceful vacation.