As I've said before, one of the best things about being a judge on a book prize panel is that you're never short of reading material. My UPS man and my FedEx guy are my new best friends, dropping off kilos of goodies every day. Here's the best of what I got and read just this week:
D.C. NOIR 2, The Classics, edited by George Pelecanos (Akashic). Wonderful stuff, starting with a marvelous story by the famed African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, set in 1900 when corruption ruled even more than today. Pelecanos's favorite crime writer, Edward P. Jones, is also a strong presence, as are Ward Just, Richard Wright, Ross Thomas, James Grady and the editor himself, with a story you might remember called THE DEAD THEIR EYES IMPLORE US. How many Akashic books do I dare to nominate?
THE SEPTEMBER SOCIETY, by Charles Finch (St. Martin's)
I liked Finch's second book about an upperclass London detective called Charles Lenox even more than his first, the much-revered A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH. Lots of great eating scenes, a worthy mystery, an evocation of Victorian Oxford that makes me wish I'd been there then.
A CURE FOR NIGHT, by Justin Peacock (Doubleday)
As the book jacket blurbs on this debut legal thriller shout, the best courtoom drama in recent memory, as good as Scott Turow and John Grisham in his prime. It features two marvelous lead characters, both Brooklyn public defenders -- a disgraced uptown druggie and a tough, vulnerable woman who really believes she's doing good.
More soon -- if I can get that bookcase in shape...