The Hippy Happy Holiday Weekend Update

But first, my latest review, of Robert Wilson’s Spain-set thriller THE HIDDEN ASSASSINS, appears in the Washington Post Book World. And my end of year column for the Baltimore Sun is also up, where I look at books that didn’t get the attention they should have.


NYTBR: Lots of crime stuff in the offing, as Marilyn Stasio reviews the latest genre efforts by Andrew Pyper, Paul Doherty, John Lutz & Sean Doolittle, Kelly Braffet’s new novel is written up by Benjamin Anastas, and Andrew Gross sticks up for the man who gave him a ton of co-writing work (and thus launched his solo career), James Patterson. Otherwise, Dave Itzkoff makes a good case for reading John Scalzi’s work, Paul Collins examines Thomas Jefferson’s pamphleteer critics, and Dwight Garner analyzes the ho-hum critical reception to HANNIBAL RISING.

WaPo Book World: Kim McLarin applauds Tom Bailey’s ambition (though flawed) in his new novel, COTTON SONG; two new books get critical and incisive about Nelson Mandela; and Jason Goodwin offers an overview on overviews of the Mediterranean world.

G&M: Add Martin Levin to the list of critics not so keen on HANNIBAL RISING; Andre Alexis likes the new Aeneid translation but finds it a bit too “popularized”; and Margaret Cannon reviews new crime novels by Tony Hillerman, I.J. Parker, Brian Freeman, Henry Chang, Anne Perry and Janet Evanovich, as well as the Best American Mystery Stories and MWA anthologies.

Guardian Review: Helen Simpson writes an original short story for the Review; Kate Figes picks publishers’ brains about their disappointments and books that got away; Mike Phillips appreciates the “pre-modern” championing by Wilson Harris’s new novel; and Nicholas Lezard heaps praise upon Fred Vargas’ THE THREE EVANGELISTS.

Observer: the broadsheet’s critics pick their overlooked favorites of 2006; Sally Vickers writes an original short story; and Rachel Cooke talks with Robert Hughes about his acclaimed memoir, THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW.

The Times: Alexander McCall Smith explains how Sherlock Holmes became the greatest fictional detective; One classic and one new short story grace the broadsheet’s pages; Erica Wagner asks people to stop watching telly over the holidays; and John Dugdale reveals the wackiest and strangest literary doings of 2006 (Harold Pinter & Antonia Fraser? Really????)

The Scotsman: An exhausting history of Scottish literature gets more volumes added; David Robinson ponders the literary version of Christmas nostalgia; and notable Scottish writers pick their 2006 favorites.

The Rest:

Ruth Rendell knows she’s old. You don’t have to remind her of it because everyone else will. She writes about the aging process, and the pros and cons, in an essay reprinted in the Melbourne Age.

Oline Cogdill rounds out the year by reviewing two of my 2006 favorites by Brett Ellen Block and John Connolly.

David Montgomery considers Joseph Wambaugh’s HOLLYWOOD STATION to be “a very welcome return for one of the mystery genre’s best writers.”

Dick Adler reviews new offerings by Diana O’Hehir, James Twining and Mark Arsenault, as well as offering his best of 2006 list.

Regis Behe, who adored Don Winslow’s previous novel, also has much good to say about his newest, THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE.

Edward Champion makes his first appearance in the LA Times Book Review section, reviewing two new volumes by cyberpunk author Rudy Rucker, and thus sets a precedent by being the first litblogger (that I’m aware of, anyway) to do so.

At the Philly Inquirer, Frank Wilson praises one of George Simenon’s non-Maigret crime novels recently published by the NYRB, and Carlin Romano revisits a cult Chanukah book classic just reissued.

Susanna Yager’s crime column focuses on two recent offerings by James Grady and Alexander McGregor.

April Henry reveals the process of “Tuckerization” for the Oregonian.

What’s an atheist to do for Christmas? The Sydney Morning Herald chats with Richard Dawkins about that, and other philosophical quandaries.

Getting Dick Cavett to narrate Jean Shepherd’s short stories is genius. The Chicago Sun-Times’ books editor Cheryl Reed has a good time listening, too.

Last minute shopping blues? The New York Daily News’ Sheryl Connelly has some timely suggestions for those in search of gift books.