Once in a while I get an invitation to attend a book club meeting. I usually decline these requests. I’m shy. The majority of book clubs are comprised of female readers. I suppose I must imagine the prospect of being surrounded by enthusiastic, literate women to be rather overwhelming.
I got another invitation to attend a book club meeting. This one was different. For one thing, this club is somewhat unusual because all the members are men. And being typical men they don’t read too much fiction. I was asked to choose a work of fiction for them to read. How could I resist that?
These generous fellows read the book that I selected; “Standing in Another Man’s Grave” by Ian Rankin. We convened at a restaurant in Yellow Springs and discussed it. That evening I revealed that I picked this title because it is crime fiction and that I consider the entire genre to be like so much mind candy; I simply can’t consume enough of it.
Luckily I have found a literary imprint that specializes in crime fiction. Minotaur Books issues a never ending supply of high quality titles. I can never read just one. Here are some recent Minotaur releases that I thoroughly enjoyed:
“Foal Play” by Kathryn O’Sullivan (Minotaur, 258 pages, $24.99)
Set in a small town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, our sleuth in this one is Colleen McCabe. She is the town’s fire chief and as one might surmise from the title; she has a thing for horses. When a murder victim washes ashore Chief McCabe launches into clue cracking mode. This is this author’s debut novel.
“Silent Voices” by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur, 314 pages, $24.99)
The English author Ann Cleeves is known for her mysteries set in the Shetland Islands. Her current series features Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope. In this one Vera discovers the body of a woman in the sauna at her gym. Was this a death by natural causes? We know better. These books have inspired “VERA,” a popular British TV series.
“Cuts Through Bone” by Alaric Hunt (Minotaur, 308 pages, $24.99)
The author Alaric Hunt has quite the back story. For the past 25 years he has been serving a prison term for murder and arson. Three years ago he submitted this story in a competition and he won it. His story about the Barbie Doll Murders is set on the campus of Columbia University and in the tunnels beneath New York City. Hunt is a good writer.
“Shotgun Lullaby” by Steve Ulfelder (Minotaur,326 pages, $25.99)
This is the third book in a series that features Conway Sax, who merges the unlikely professions of auto mechanic and crime solver. These books are set in New England, in this one Conway is trying to help a friend deal with a drinking problem. Sax is a recovering alcoholic himself.
When three people are killed at his friend’s residence Sax investigates and soon discovers that gangsters are involved. This is a real page turner.
“The Last Girl” by Jane Casey (Minotaur, 374 pages, $24.99)
In her series featuring Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan of London’s Metropolitan Police Jane Casey has come up with plots that are right up there with the works of the notable Scottish crime writers Ian Rankin and Denise Mina. In this one Kerrigan is investigating the murders of a lawyer’s family. This creates some dismay and conflict within the police because this attorney had been so successful in defending criminals.