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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Storr, Will: Will Storr vs. the Supernatural | Main | McCall Smith, Alexander: Blue Shoes and Happiness »

Olson, Karen E.: Secondhand Smoke

  

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Mysterious Press © 2006, 272 pages [amazon]
3.5 stars

Secondhand Smoke is the second installment in Karen E. Olson's series of journalism procedurals. (See my review of Olson's Sacred Cows, the first book in the series.) Her protagonist, Annie Seymour, is a crime reporter for the New Haven Herald (the fictional stand-in for the author's former real-life employer, the New Haven Register). Annie lives in New Haven's historic Italian section, Wooster Square, the home of a great number of Italian restaurants, including a pair of nationally celebrated pizzerias. This time around her work keeps her close to home: an early-morning fire consumes the restaurant across from her brownstone, and a dead body is found in its ashes. The crimes bring the FBI, the mob, and Annie's enigmatic step-father to town. Annie investigates the arson and murder--her neighbors closing ranks to keep her in the dark about what's really been going on--while navigating an uncertain relationship with Vinnie DeLucia--marine biologist turned private eye--whom we encountered already in the first book of the series.

[INSET TEXT: It's true that her relationship with her mother is strained, and her job as a reporter necessarily distances her from would-be newsmakers who don't want their peccadilloes showing up in the paper.] Annie is a hard-edged character, a bit foul-mouthed, callous and world-weary, and sick of her job after years of reporting on New Haven's criminal class. She seems to go to some trouble to hide her humanity from herself and others, but it's not clear to me precisely why she so armors herself. It's true that her relationship with her mother is strained, and her job as a reporter necessarily distances her from would-be newsmakers who don't want their peccadilloes showing up in the paper. The job contributes to Annie's identity as an outsider in her own neighborhood. But I'm not sure these sufficiently explain her cynical detachment. It would be nice, at any rate, to see her character develop some emotional nuance in subsequent outings.

Olson offers up a decent mystery her second time out, with a twist at the end you almost certainly won't see coming. And as with the first book--and as a New Haven native--I much appreciate that her series is so firmly rooted in the area: Wooster Square and the Q Bridge and Claire's Cornucopia figuring as backdrops this time around, Yale's Sterling Library and Sleeping Giant State Park in book one. I look forward to seeing where the next Annie Seymour mystery takes us.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.