‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)

There’s no shortage of mysteries and thrillers set in small towns. That was basically the bread and butter of Masterpiece: Mystery for decades (not that I’m complaining), to say nothing of the dozens of murders Jessica Fletcher solved singlehandedly in her twee little Cabot Cove. Despite the proliferation of cozy mysteries, it’s rare that theyContinue reading “‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)”

Hench Asks Tough Qs Between Explosions

Everyone loves a good superhero story, according to box office figures. I used to be obsessed with the lore, Marvel, DC, and those weird, discount characters in tights and capes that someone invented with the sole purpose of getting a slice of that sweet superhero pie—I’m looking at you, The Cape (though to be fair,Continue reading “Hench Asks Tough Qs Between Explosions”

‘My Heart’ Cuts Like a ‘Chainsaw’

Typically the term “unflinching” is used when talking about works of Very Serious Fiction or Nonfiction (an even more serious genre than Very Serious Fiction), of which genre fiction like horror is not typically a part. But the more I read of Stephen Graham Jones’ work, the more I can’t get past that word asContinue reading “‘My Heart’ Cuts Like a ‘Chainsaw’”

Magic and Wisdom Rise in ‘Defensive Baking’

I haven’t held back on my love for T. Kingfisher, though I’ve not been particularly tempted in reading her fantasy or her work for children under her “real” name, Ursula Vernon. What I liked about Kingfisher’s horror was the sarcasm and how masterfully humor and horror entwined themselves into one deliciously disorienting plot that wasContinue reading “Magic and Wisdom Rise in ‘Defensive Baking’”

‘Velvet Was the Night’ a Sizzling Noir

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s been at it for over six years, but I’m ashamed to admit she didn’t even appear on my radar until 2019’s Gods of Jade and Shadow (a historical fantasy) appeared on NPR’s Book Concierge. She got some well-deserved attention last year from readers and reviewers big and small with the release of MexicanContinue reading “‘Velvet Was the Night’ a Sizzling Noir”

Restraint Helps ‘Killers’ Avoid Exploitation

There are a few key ingredients to many a good thriller: domestic intrigue, large sums of money, poison, explosions, conspiracies, a sympathetic victim at the center, and a dedicated investigator determined to get to the bottom of it all. And a good twist or two. Can’t forget the twists. David Grann’s Killers of the Flower MoonContinue reading “Restraint Helps ‘Killers’ Avoid Exploitation”

Bigfoot and Big Scares in ‘Devolution’

One of the greatest, most terrible, most amazing parts about reading is when you find yourself absolutely immersed in a book and nothing—not responsibilities, relationships, or reasonable bedtimes—can draw you out of it. Which is why I was flipping ebook page after ebook page at 1:30 a.m. as I raced to reach the end ofContinue reading “Bigfoot and Big Scares in ‘Devolution’”

‘Tram Car’ More Fun Than ‘Haunting’

The fact the main characters are bored with a haunted, semi-sentient, magically propelled tram car in 1910s Cairo is a pretty good indication of things to come in P. Djeli Clark’s The Hunting of Tram Car 015. This slim novella may be a little light in character development or narrative indulgence, but packs in aContinue reading “‘Tram Car’ More Fun Than ‘Haunting’”

Let ‘Riverland’ Take You Away

One thing every lonely kid has is some imaginary escape to another, more magical, usually safer world. (Maybe not-lonely kids have this, too, but I can’t speak to that.) Mine was a copse of trees choking the side of a road far away enough from anyone who cared that they were allowed to grow thickContinue reading “Let ‘Riverland’ Take You Away”

‘Halfway’ Hits Home with Prison Discourse

Crime and poverty are so frequently lumped together, as are race and crime, making a sort of trifecta of bad circumstances that can really hold a person back—or worse, as we’ve seen with so many cases of police violence. But it’s worse than that, argues Reuben Jonathan Miller in his new book Halfway Home: notContinue reading “‘Halfway’ Hits Home with Prison Discourse”