The pre-Passover weekend update

Yes kids, in just a few days’ time the obsessive-compulsive’s wet dream swoops upon those who partake in all-Matzah, all the time. But before that happens, there’s houses to clean, literally and metaphorically, once I’ve settled back in after a lovely weekend in Baltimore. It was great seeing fellow BALTIMORE NOIR contributors, the Mystery Loves Company crew and a strong turnout at the City Lit Festival and later at the launch party for the anthology — I’m still getting over the amazing cake (though sadly, there are no pictures available that I’m aware of.)

So here be links:

NYTBR: Marilyn Stasio looks at the latest in crime fiction by Thomas Perry, Hakan Nesser, Frank Tallis and Paul Adam; Paul Gray is absolutely bowled over by Irene Nemirovsky’s likely-instant-classic SUITE FRANCAISE; and Joe Finder wonders why literary fiction has shied away from depicting naked ambition.

WaPo Book World: Dennis Drabelle finds that a “less-than-celestial” Barbara Vine novel is still miles above much genre fare; Ron Charles is touched by David Mitchell’s version of coming-of-age; and a new book finally gets to the heart of the SARS crisis of a few years ago.

G&M: Deborah Ellis is enthralled with a brief history of banned literature; Helen Dunmore tries her hand at an adventure novel, with mostly good results; and Susan Perren is impressed with the newest crop of CanKidLit.

Guardian Review: Ian Jack remembers John McGahern, whose likely final contribution was an essay in the newest issue of Granta; DJ Taylor is a bit underwhelmed with the launch efforts of the Macmillan New Writing program; and Geoff Ryman examines writing in Cambodia in the face of slaughter.

Observer: Jake Arnott talks to Peter Guttridge about how the “seedy side of pop music” informed his latest novel; a new book explores the nine crazy weeks that Gauguin and Van Gogh spent together with great success, according to Peter Conrad; and a new literary prize may invigorate the Newcastle writing scene, Tom Williams hopes.

The Times: Bel Mooney tries to figure out why the literati shun Nick Hornby (or whether they actually do or not); Peter Parker wishes the publisher had let Jane Harris’s debut novel stand on its own merits, instead of comparison to other works; Tim Teeman offers his own take on Macmillan New Writing’s debut efforts; Playwright Athol Fugard and novelist daughter Lisa get together to talk about writing, family and South Africa; Marcel Berlins’ latest crime column has a distinctly Italian flavor, looking at new stuff by Gianrico Carofiglio, Donna Leon and David Goodis.

The Scotsman: Lesley McDowell talks to Jenny Diski about writing her startling efforts in fiction and travel writing; David Sexton wonders why people are getting so worked up about David Blunkett’s impending memoirs; Colin Somerville extols the virtues of writing drafts in longhand, just like a certain Ms Rowling; and the winner of the Book World Day contest is 13-year-old Laura Rennie for “When the bookworm ate its words.”

The Rest:

Oline Cogdill digs Tim Dorsey’s newest comic novel THE BIG BAMBOO, but advises those who don’t get his kind of humor to stay away.

Adam Woog’s column for the Seattle Times looks at new mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith, Earl Emerson, Ian Rankin, James Sallis and Elizabeth Peters.

Denise Mina reviews Sarah Waters’ THE NIGHT WATCH for the Boston Globe, raving over how good the novel is.

Henning Mankell has balanced writing — mostly crime novels — with his passion for Africa, and now he’s combined both in his latest effort, he tells the Independent. Also in the same paper, Scarlett Thomas and Andrew Crumey talk about the latter’s obsession with alternate realities and the limitations of physics.

The Charleston Post & Courier talks to Mickey Spillane about, well, being Spillane, Mike Hammer, and what he’s working on at the ripe old age of 88.

Regis Behe talks to Dave Kindred, whose new book examines the strange and close bonds between Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell.

The Chicago Tribune’s Elizabeth Taylor chats with Blue Balliett, whose newest YA novel looks at the world of architecture.

Irish chick lit writer Sheila O’Flanagan continues to be a bestselling phenomenon, and the Sydney Morning Herald finds out how and why.

The Melbourne Age catches up with Tim Krabbe, who combines his own writing pursuits with other, more strenous ones — like cycling and playing chess.

And finally, two things: get well soon, Ed, and RIP to Elizabeth Maguire, publisher of Basic Books and the author of THINNER, BLONDER, WHITER. She was 47.