A Slip of the Knife

Denise Mina has gathered accolades both for her Garnethill mysteries -- set in the surprisingly affecting atmosphere of a shabby Glasgow suburb -- and her more recent series centered around Paddy Meehan, a tough and chunky crime journalist who can't stop eating anything fattening in sight or getting involved in the cases she covers. Her fourth in the string, A Slip of the Knife, is possibly her best effort to date, establishing the author on the top rung of the suspense ladder, alongside Ruth Rendell, Minette Walters and P. D. James. A large part of the novel's power comes from the way Mina handles Paddy's (and her own) hometown. Describing the Glasgow City Mortuary, she says, "Built in red brick, it had windows on either side of a deep doorway like a punched-in nose." Paddy has been called to the mortuary to identify the body of her former boyfriend, reporter Terry Hewitt, found hooded and shot through the head -- the classic marks of an IRA killing, although they deny any involvement. Then, to Meehan's surprise, she discovers that Hewitt has left her his house in the country and all his notes. Things have been going well for Paddy: the single mother has finally moved out of her family home and has traded the daily crime game for a weekly column. But Terry's death makes her put her own life and that of her five-year-old son in serious danger as she digs deeper into its murky implications. Though there are those long-running mystery icons in danger of wearing out their welcome, readers will find Mina going from strength to strength. -

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."