Book Report: International intrigue; trout fishing are part of this week’s picksThe bureaucrats and the number crunchers have taken over crime detection in old London town, putting “Bryant & May on the Loose” (Bantam Books, $25).
By: Dave Wood, book reviewer, River Falls Journal
The bureaucrats and the number crunchers have taken over crime detection in old London town, putting “Bryant & May on the Loose” (Bantam Books, $25).
This is Christopher Fowler’s fourth mystery about London’s “Peculiar Crimes Unit,” an eccentric bureau that deals with strange murder cases and headed by Arthur Bryant and John May. The bureaucrats are sick and tired of Bryant’s and May’s success rate and have put them to pasture.
Bryant takes to his bed and won’t come out, while May goes in search of other employment with some of his underlings. During the search they stumble across a bizarre murder, in which the victim’s head has been surgically removed. To make it even more bizarre, witnesses have reported sightings of a creature that appears to be half man and half stag near the scene of the crime.
This tempts Bryant to leave his bed and join his old gang to start their own peculiar crimes unit. It’s a rollicking good thriller, speckled with city politics and the maze that is old London town.
And it’s not the end of the Peculiar Crimes Unit because Bantam announces on the dust jacket that Folwer is busy at work writing a fifth book in the series called “Bryant and May Off the Rails.”
On the regional front there’s an obvious candidate for a Minnesota Book Award just out from Minneapolis’s Lerner Publications.
Lerner has published many, many books that indicate it’s a company with real social and political interests. But its latest is the best I’ve seen. It’s supposedly for adolescents, but anyone can read it with great profit. It’s beautifully researched, written and produced in hardcover.
It’s “An Unspeakable Crime,” by Elaine Marie Alphin (CarolRhoda Books, $22.95). Alphin tells the story of Leo Frank, an East Coast Jew who came to manage a pencil factory in Atlanta, Ga. He was accused in 1913 of murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a company employee.
The media, of course, had a field day and Frank and his supposed victim were splashed all over front pages in Georgia and internationally. In the end, despite evidence to the contrary, Frank was convicted.
But before he was executed, the citizenry of Atlanta took the law into its own hands and lynched him.
Frank’s story was first told in a movie starring Jack Lemmon a few years back and it was compelling, but no more than this book that grabs you and shakes.
For the anglers who are still snowbound, there’s a book that evokes the not-too-distant future for the folks who ply our rivers in search of the wily trout.
It’s “Wisconsin & Minnesota Trout Streams,” by Jim Humphrey and Bill Shogren (Backcountry Press, $17, paper).
Humphrey has written more than 100 articles on trout fishing for many national periodicals and Shogren is past president of a Trout Unlimited chapter in the Twin Cities.
Their topic is a fertile one because Minnesota and Wisconsin have 12,500 miles of designated trout waters in more than 3,000 streams, five of which have been rated among the best of the 100 best streams in the United States.
The handsome paperback profiles 120 rivers and streams, gives travel directions to them, as well as maps and charts of the region’s major hatches.
The book is embellished with photographs of real people wading around in real trout streams and also gives readers an idea of where they can shop if they run out of tackle or worms.
Red Wing, Minn., keeps getting mentioned in fiction, like Will Weaver’s recent adolescent novel about the kid who can fly off Red Wing’s high bluffs.
Now Bruce King, of Marshfield, is releasing “Prairie Island” (Lulu.com, $29.95), a thriller about an al Qaida operative, who picks up where 9/11 left off. This time, it happens at Prairie Island and its nuclear facility.
Dave would like to hear from you. Call him at 426-9554.