Monday, February 4, 2013

Mailbox Monday – February 4, 2013

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia at Mailbox Monday in which bloggers can ramble on about the books they received/bought/stole over a given week.  Each month a new blogger hosts the meme, and this month it’s Audra at Unabridged Chick.

Holy-moly, we skip one week of Mailbox Monday and the books start piling up on us.  This installment might get a little long-winded.  Apologies in advance.

--- The Books ---

Indiscretion by Charles Dubow – From the title of this book, we all pretty much know what it’s about.  A forty-something couple of married literary types have a successful life and marriage and a magnetic social life.  A younger woman falls into their orbit, but it quickly becomes more than that and develops into an affair—literary fiction at its finest from a newly minted author.  Ryan St. Onge has picked this one up and will be reviewing it for the upcoming blog tour being organized by TLC Book Tours.  Look to hear more on February 8 when it’s our turn to play host on the tour.

Death of a Citizen by Donald Hamilton – The people at Titan Books have been really good to us lately.  Really good.  Like, so good you almost feel guilty about it.  That kind of good.  Physical ARCs keep arriving on my doorstep unsolicited—but definitely not unwanted—and I’m simply blown away by vintage titles they’re putting back into print these days.  Case in point, Death of a Citizen by Donald Hamilton.  It’s book one of the Matt Helm series, a line of espionage books that were published between 1960 and 1983.  Helm is a U.S. counter-agent, a pretty term for a guy who kills other spies.  The series was known for being gritty and raw in an era where spy fiction was over-glamorized fluff a la James Bond.

The Wrecking Crew by Donald Hamilton – Again from Titan Books, The Wrecking Crew was published in 1960 and is the 2nd book in the Matt Helm series.  Codename “Eric,” Helm has recently been reactivated into service with the CIA from his sedentary life as a family man and photographer in New Mexico.  In his first assignment, he is sent to Sweden to eliminate Caselius, a long-time enemy agent of the Reds.  Cold War espionage at its best, it has been said of the Matt Helm series that it, “brought to the spy novel the authentic hard realism of Dashiell Hammett; and his stories are as compelling, and probably as close to the sordid truth of espionage, as any now being told.”

The Inner City by Karen HeulerChizine Publications is another publisher that we’ve come to expect good things from, and The Inner City looks as if it will live up to that legacy.  This collection of short fiction focuses on the strange, the odd, the familiar yet somehow… off.  In other words, the uncanny.  In one story, People breed dogs with humans to create a servant class.  In another, an employee finds that her hair has been stolen by someone intent on getting her job.  And in yet another, a boy tries to figure out what the can get when the Rapture takes the people away and leaves all the “good stuff” behind.  Check out Karen’s other work at

Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen KingHearts in Atlantis is my current audio book read from the library—you know, so I won’t miss out on valuable reading time while I’m commuting to and from work.  Cos I’m a nerd like that.  It’s a funny bird, really—a collection of two novellas and three short stories with connected characters.  I’m about halfway through, but the first novella, Low Men in Yellow Coats was quite good.  King has a way of telling his stories in such a way that the horror or supernatural stuff is really just window dressing, and the real stories are the every day personal struggles of his characters.  He really is a master at characterization and character development.  I’m interested to see how the rest of the book pans out.

Pandora’s Temple by John Land – This thriller is the latest in the Blaine McCracken series from John Land.  McCracken learns that the mythological Pandora’s Box might not be so mythological after all—that it could really exist, and it might contain one of the most mysterious and deadly forces in the universe:  dark matter.  Along with his sidekick, Johnny Wareagle, McCracken races to stop not one but two enemies who want the dark matter at all costs.  Kayla West has picked up this beauty and will be reviewing it for the book tour Partners in Crime Tours will be putting on later this month.  Check back on February 13 to see Kayla’s review

Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes – Yeah, so that bit about Titan Books being way too good to us?  That old thread continues here.  They recently sent me three copies of the old Helen MacInnes espionage thrillers that they’re republishing this year.  Written in 1941, Above Suspicion was MacInnes’ breakout novel, a tale about an English couple who embark upon a European vacation in 1939.  Prior to leaving, they’re contacted by a colleague who asks them to do a bit of work for jolly old England while they’re abroad.  I love vintage titles, so I’m sure I’ll have a blast with this one.

Assignment in Brittany by Helen MacInnes – Published in 1942, Assignment in Brittany is another of MacInnes’ more popular novels, again dealing with the beginnings of World War II.  In this book, a British intelligence agent is dropped into Nazi-occupied Brittany to work with the French Resistance in undermining the Nazi occupiers.  MacInnes’ novel was so insightful, so spot-on in its depiction of intelligence work in Nazi France, that it was made required reading for Allied intelligence operatives assigned to work with the French Resistance.  MacInnes’ husband was an MI6 operative during the war, which lead to speculation that he shared details of operations with her and that was how she got her story so close to the real thing.

Pray for a Brave Heart by Helen MacInnesPray for a Brave Heart, published in 1955, forgoes fodder of MacInnes’ prior work (that being WWII), and tackles Cold War espionage instead.  An American soldier stationed in Switzerland stumbles upon a plot for a jewel heist behind the Iron Curtain, gets involved with some shady characters, and… well, you get the idea.  Intrigue and danger abound.  The folks at Titan sure have outdone themselves this time.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to read these novels.

By the Balls:  The Complete Collection by Jim PascoeBy the Balls was a cult-classic Neo Noir novel featuring Ben Drake, a Nevada detective reminiscent of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, originally published in 1998.  It was followed shortly by Five Shots and a Funeral and then… nothing.  Until now.  Akashic Books has published both novels, along with two new short stories, in a fifteenth anniversary edition.  Anyone who has read my reviews know that I love everything Noir, so I jumped at the opportunity when offered the chance to read this puppy.

Dead Peasants by Larry D. Thompson – Jack Bryant, a retired trial lawyer, is approached by an elderly widow with a check for life insurance benefits and that is suspiciously made payable to her dead husband’s employer.  Jack can’t turn down her pleas for help and files a civil suit on her behalf—and unwittingly steps into a vortex of killings, with him and his new love interest next up on the chopping block.  We received this book courtesy of Partners in Crime Tours, and Kayla West will be reviewing it for the tour coming up in April.

Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd – Another book tour from TLC Book Tours, Kayla West will be reviewing this historical fiction mystery on February 20.  Proof of Guilt is the latest in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries featuring the eponymous detective, an inspector with Scotland Yard.  It’s the summer of 1920 in London, and an unidentified body is found on the side of the road, evidently the victim of a hit and run.  The clues lead Rutledge to a firm built by two families, famous for producing and selling the world’s best Madeira wine.  The current head of the enterprise, is missing, but is he the dead man?  A detailed cast of characters complicate Rutledge’s inquiries, and make Proof of Guilt nothing short of an intriguing read.

And now that we’ve shown you ours, it’s time to show us yours.  What did you get in your mailbox this week?


  1. I used to read Macinnes and think I have read at least two of the ones you listed. I loved them and all the spy stuff.

    1. How'd you like her work? I've never read one, but I'm excited to get to them.

  2. Cool mailbox Jonathan. I read and enjoyed Pandora’s Temple and those Helen MacInnes books sound good as does The Inner City. Happy reading!

  3. Oooh, awesome arrivals! The Inner City looks so good -- am adding it my TBR now to look for -- I love that kind of fiction!

    1. Hey Audra, let me know if you'd like to get a review copy for yourself. I know some people who know some people, and I might be able to introduce you. Just let me know. ;)

  4. Wow, you guys have quite a haul this week! Can't wait to read the reviews.

    1. I missed last week's post because of home renovations, so this is about 2 weeks worth of books. Still, buncha books, right? Might be too many if you ask me. :)

  5. WOW....Nice Mailbox.


    Giveaway going on at my blog for THE CONFESSION by Charles Todd. It is in the post right below Mailbox Monday.

    My Mailbox Monday link is below.

    Happy Monday!!

    Silver's Reviews
    My Mailbox Monday

  6. Awesome mailbox. I'm not familiar with most of these. Enjoy!
    2 Kids and Tired Books MM