BestThrillers.com The first advance copies of Johnny Manic went out two months ago, and I’m starting to get some good feedback. BestThrillers.com calls it one of the year’s best thrillers. "A truly riveting tale of deception, murder and psychological suspense. Part psychological thriller, part noir, Diamond has accomplished the incredibly difficult task of deriving true suspense from the battle for supremacy going on within [the narrator's] own mind. The Bottom Line: One of the year's best thrillers.
Option one, the original cover: Option two: Thanks to all who voted. This poll is closed. The winner was the second cover (the one with the road). After a few design iterations, we came up with the final cover, which appears below. Credits: Road photo by David Everett Strickler via Unsplash.com. Woman and eyes by RetroAtelier via Getty Images.
Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time is the fifth in a series of mysteries featuring inspector Alan Grant. The book is perhaps best known for the praise it received from mystery writer and critic Anthony Boucher, who called it one of the best mysteries of all time. That’s high praise to live up to, but the author began the book with higher aims than most mystery writers ever aspire to, and she made it clear in the first chapter that she wasn’t going to follow the traditional path to achieve them.
The Girl on the Velvet Swing tells the story of the 1906 murder of famed American architect Stanford White, who was shot to death before a crowd of New York’s elite at the opening night performance of a play at Madison Square Garden, one of the city’s architectural landmarks, which he himself designed. After the shooting, White’s assailant, the young millionaire Harry K. Thaw handed his pistol to a fireman and calmly walked to the police station in the company of a single officer.
My next book, To Hell with Johnny Manic, is now available for review on NetGalley. Johnny Manic is a psychological suspense/thriller in the classic noir tradition. The cast of characters includes a very intelligent but slightly deranged and impulsive protagonist who’s doing his best to keep it together, a beautiful woman who pushes all his buttons, and a sharp, cynical detective in the mold of Philip Marlowe. If you liked Body Heat, The Last Seduction, Double Indemnity, Wild Things, or anything by Patricia Highsmith, you’ll like this one.
This book, set in London in 1941 during the blitz, begins with a man on the outs, Arthur Rowe, strolling through a church fair fundraiser. He plays a few penny games, then has his fortune told. By a stroke of bad luck, he utters the wrong words to the fortune-teller. In exchange, she tells him the weight of the cake in a nearby stall. Whoever guesses the weight correctly, wins it, which is a big deal, because it’s made with real eggs, which are a prized rarity in wartime London.
It’s hard to write of a review of Alan Watts’ books because there’s so much in them. It’s like trying to summarize the ocean. Each time I re-read one of his works, I come away with something different. So I’m not going to try to encapsulate all that Watts says. Instead, I’ll just described what impressed me in this reading, using mostly Watts’ own words, since he can express himself better than I can paraphrase him.
Hallas’ novel opens with Richard Dempsey returning from a long day’s work at the diner to an empty house. Before he enters, he knows from the darkened windows that his wife has left him. Inside, he learns she’s taken their son and the family savings. She says he’ll never find her, but he knows she’s always dreamed of going to Hollywood. This is Oklahoma in the late 1930’s, in the midst of the Great Depression and a crushing years-long drought.
I received the UK edition of this book as a gift a few months ago (it won’t be published in the US until later in 2019). I twice tried to start it, and twice put it down after a few pages thinking, “I can’t read this. This reminds me of the most depressing parts of the DC punk scene back the eighties and early nineties, the guys who spent their last dollars on beer instead of heating their apartments.
Woolrich is a master of suspense and a brilliant writer. I was hoping to like this one more, but unfortunately, I could never fully buy into the story. The book begins with Detective Tom Shawn walking home from work at one A.M. along the river, where he finds a young woman, Jean Reid, about to kill herself. He stops her from jumping and asks her why she wants to end her life when she’s young, wealthy, and beautiful.