Lynelle McKay, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, was interviewed by Brownie Girl Scout Maya Hay in addition to the host about the Girl Scouts Cookie Program on my other talk show, Economic Perspectives on KAZI 88.7 FM. We discussed how the Girl Scouts Cookie Program helps girls develop their money management and entrepreneurial skills. To listen to the interview click here:
The third installment of the Cole and Hitch series by Knott is his best so far, and it shows that he’s making the series his own.
Lovers of a fast-moving western yarn will be pleased with Robert Knott’s latest effort–Marshall Virgil Cole and his deputy (and our narrator) Everett Hitch are busy in Appaloosa after a quiet few months.
The action centers around Cole and Hitch’s investigation into the destruction of a nearly-completed bridge, one that would have crossed the nearby Rio Blanco River and changed the way anyone moved through the area. People are dead as a result, and Cole and Hitch realize that their brief time of quiet is over.
At the same time as this news is coming to light, a traveling troupe of entertainers makes its way into Appaloosa and riles up the whole town, especially Cole’s longtime paramour Allie French. She is taken with the idea of Appaloosa making a good impression on the troupe, and she is quite taken with the head of troupe, Beauregard Beauchamp, and his wife Nell.
These two disparate stories don’t seem like they would work together at first. The story of Cole and Hitch’s investigation into the bridge is pure detective work done in a classic western style, while the troupe’s arrival is nearly all comic relief. However, Knott is able to tie the stories together in such a way that it not only makes sense, but it’s hard to imagine the stories separately.
Knott also introduces a bit of a supernatural element in this book, a departure from earlier installments. While I won’t get into spoilers here, it involves the troupe and a love interest for Hitch, and it helps keep the novel from becoming merely a western procedural. Again, I was a bit surprised that this worked, but Knott was able to keep it believable because he has come to own the Cole and Hitch characters and is obviously getting more and more comfortable with taking them in new directions.
As with the other installments in this series, THE BRIDGE is a quick read with a plot that moves briskly. In his third go as a stand-in for Parker in this series, it is quickly apparent how well Knott knows his inherited characters. He also has an obvious love for research–he has a good eye for authentic detail and the schemes he dreams up for Cole and Hitch to solve feel very plausible–not always a simple task when attempting to come up with 19th century crimes.
The Mystery Writers of America honored Erik Dussere with the 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Awards for the BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL book published in 2013 for AMERICA IS ELSEWHERE: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture. To listen to his interview click here: .
Here is a list of the books I found most compelling being published by one of my favorite publishers, W.W. Norton:
Joseph E. Stiglitz, THE GREAT DIVIDE: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them, April 2015
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, MOVE: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead, May 2015
Richard H. Thaler, MISBEHAVING: The Story of Behavioral Economics, May 2015
Susan Wise Bauer, THE STORY OF SCIENCE: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, May 2015
Peter C. Whybrow, MD; THE WELL TUNED BRAIN: Neuroscience & the Life Well Lived, May 2015
Kevin M. Schultz, BUCKLEY AND MAILER, The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties, June 2015
Thomas J. Christensen, THE CHINA CHALLENGE: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power, June 2015
Matthew Battles, PALIMPSEST: A History of the Written Word, July 2015
Guru Madhavan, APPLIED MINDS: How Engineers Think, July 2015
Raghu Karnad, THE FARTHEST FIELD: A Story of India’s Second World War, August 2015
Barry Yourgrau, MESS: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act, August 2015
Victoria Shore, BACKLANDS, May 2015 – in this Bonnie and Clyde story of love and betrayal, a band of outlaws fight for control of the brutal Brazilian outback
Vu Tran, DRAGONFISH, August 2015 – a thrilling work of sophisticated suspense set amid the Vietnamese underworld in Las Vegas
If you’re looking for an international flavor to your mystery novel reading, here is a list from the mysterypeople blog of Austin’s independent bookstore, BookPeople: http://mysterypeople.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/mollys-top-ten-international-crime-novels-of-2014/