M.C. Beaton: Introductory Notes

M.C. Beaton is a pseudonym of Marion Chesney, who is known primarily for the more than 100 historical romance novels she has published under her own name and under several pseudonyms: Helen Crampton, Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, and Charlotte Ward. But M.C. Beaton is the pseudonym she reserves for her mystery novels. Marion Chesney was …

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The Best Books I Read in 1999

Listed alphabetically by author Berg, A. Scott. Lindbergh Cheever, Susan. Note Found in a Bottle: My Life as a Drinker Connelly, Michael. The Black Echo Danticat, Edwidge. Breath, Eyes, Memory Deane, Seamus. Reading in the Dark Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin …

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“Certain Prey” by John Sandford

Sandford, John. Certain Prey (1999)  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 339 pages, $24.95 hardcover   ISBN 0 399 14496 X   In his latest Lucas Davenport thriller John Sandford does something different: he focuses on the villain as much as on the hero. And what a villain it is: Clara Rinker, the best hit woman (or hit …

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“Orchid Beach” by Stuart Woods

Woods, Stuart. Orchid Beach (1998)HarperCollins, 325 pages, $25.00 hardcover  ISBN 0-06-019181-3 Finally, a new book by Stuart Woods that doesn’t feature philandering superhero Stone Barrington. In fact, the protagonist of Woods’s latest novel is a woman, 37-year-old Holly Barker. After 20 years in the army, Barker retires when a male superior whom she and another …

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“The Hunter” by Richard Stark

Stark, Richard.  The Hunter (1962); rpt. as Point Blank   Allison & Busby, 154 pages, $13.95 hardcover    ISBN 0 85031 591 3 {Richard Stark is a pseudonym Donald E. Westlake used for a series of stark noir thrillers featuring the character Parker.} As Parker walks across the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan at the …

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“Shell Game” by Carol O’Connell

O’Connell, Carol. Shell Game (1999)G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 374 pages, $24.95 hardcover   ISBN 0 399 14495-1 After a break for Judas Child, Carol O’Connell returns to her series character, NYPD detective Kathleen Mallory, in Shell Game.  When an elderly magician dies horribly in what appears to be a botched magic act, only Mallory suspects murder. …

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“Writing a Woman’s Life” by Carolyn G. Heilbrun

Heilbrun, Carolyn G. Writing a Woman’s Life (1988)  W.W. Norton & Company, 144 pages, $14.95 hardcover  ISBN 0-393-02601-9 In the “Introduction,” feminist scholar Carolyn Heilbrun explains the topic of her book: There are four ways to write a woman’s life: the woman herself may tell it, in what she chooses to call an autobiography; she …

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“The James Joyce Murder” by Amanda Cross

Cross, Amanda. The James Joyce Murder (1967)   Ballantine Books, 197 pages, $5.99 paperback   ISBN 0-345-34686-6 Spending the summer at a house in the Berkshires editing letters between James Joyce and his publisher promises to be a peaceful refuge from the city for Kate Fansler. Caring for her young nephew Leo is only a …

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“Trust Me on This” by Donald E. Westlake

Westlake, Donald E. Trust Me on This (1988)   Mysterious Press, 292 pages, $5.50 paperback   ISBN 0 445 40807 3 This send-up of tabloid journalism is the precursor to Baby, Would I Lie?. Young reporter Sara Joslyn has just lost her job when the small New England newspaper she worked for was bought out, …

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“The Hot Rock” by Donald E. Westlake

Westlake, Donald E. The Hot Rock (1970)   Simon and Schuster, 249 pages, $5.95 hardcover   ISBN 671 20541 2 The Hot Rock introduces John Archibald Dortmunder, the criminal you can’t help but like. According to William L. DeAndrea in Encyclopedia Mysteriosa, Westlake’s  “most successful comic novels, the Dortmunder series, grew directly from the grim …

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