Beth Kanell

Beth Kanell writes in northeastern Vermont, among mountain, rivers, and occasional bears and skunks and eagles. She reads, reviews, and writes mysteries, wider fiction, American history, and poetry, hikes the back roads and mountains, and digs into Vermont history to frame her “history-hinged” adventure novels: The Long Shadow, The Darkness Under the Water, The Secret Room, and Cold Midnight.

Find her essays in national magazines such as Lilith, and at Medium.com, with short items in Yankee, Grit, the New York Times, and more. Her poems scatter among regional publications and online. She shares her research and writing process at BethKanell.blogspot.com. Find connections there to her other online writing as well.

Book Reviews by Beth Kanell

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“Reading The Dark Remains yields far more than the strangely amazing and touching answer to ‘What if you combined crime noir geniuses McIlvanney and Rankin?’”

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“Similar in pace and tenderness to the Ladies’ Detective Agency mysteries of Alexander McCall Smith, this mystery fits neatly into the traditional mold, providing an enjoyable read that’s i

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“Layered and lethal . . . The only thing better than the pleasure of this suspenseful and tightly plotted ‘Scandi noir’ investigation is knowing there’s a sequel on the way.”

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“As in the other books of this series (and there’s no need to read them before An Irish Hostage), Bess demonstrates presence of mind under fire, strong nursing skills, and adept ca

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“The Killing Hills probes the darkness in both land and families, along with the limits of forgiveness. It’s not just a fine and unforgettable crime novel.

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“Love Grisham, Coben, Gilstrap, early Lee Child? Can’t resist the puzzle solving of Dan Brown or the emotional prices portrayed by Louise Penny?

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“When a Stranger Comes to Town will give you the very best of what crime fiction should deliver. Means, opportunity, and obsession—right?”

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“Along with its humor, every chapter of Stung offers both the cost of taking moral action, and the deep suspense of being human. “

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“With such dark and treacherous secrets, the men of The Lamplighters echo the force of the seas around them.

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“Flynn Berry landed major awards for her two earlier thrillers, and Northern Spy merits more of the same.”

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“Wedding Station is an ideal choice for both Downing fans and newcomers to his fast-paced and intense crime novels.”

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“Pick up Exit if you’d like to sample a very new way of building a crime novel with an unusual pace. It has something of Jasper Fforde in the compiled coincidences.”

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“Those who value similar portrayals of place as character—as in Louise Penny’s Three Pines, for instance—will treasure A Fatal Lie and its Welsh backdrop.”

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“Vidich carries the wintry mood of Soviet menace and danger powerfully, and his plot twists are tight and all too believable. “

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“Before She Disappeared introduces what may be the most powerful sleuth of the decade, an ‘ordinary’ woman driven to uncover the truth at any personal cost.

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“Kellerman’s writing frames deep tenderness among her characters very well.

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“Nick Petrie keeps it all moving, with all the balls in the air, so there isn’t really time for disbelief—just for the next weapon and defensive maneuver, with an edge of self-sacrifice.”

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“Like his earlier books, Sleep Well, My Lady gives Quartey, a Ghana-born Californian physician as well as writer, plenty of space to lay out issues of class and wealth, as well as

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“Best of all, Marion Lane responds to deadly threat with creative assessment, and growth in both expertise and self-esteem, so the promised ongoing series featuring this maturing sleuth has

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“Whether you’re drawn to Watch Her for the high-fidelity Boston setting, with its contrasts of gritty working-class life and cultured wealth, or for the dramatic and classic intera

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“If you like a book that lands you back in reality feeling relaxed and happy about what could happen to an ordinary guy tossed into deadly events, Madness of the Q is ideal.

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“Moonflower Murders will be either adored or dreaded by readers, with no middle ground.

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“Mma Ramotswe and her allies practice that love of land and courtesy to each other in gently amusing ways that eventually resolve the mysteries, potential crimes, and tensions of their live

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“Viewed as a ‘debut novel’ by R. W. Green, Hot to Trot is a fine first showing.

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“Frear’s writing has the sharp dark tang that Tana French exhibits, and she updates the British crime narrative to the dangerous conflicts of loyalty that Stuart Neville paints best, with t

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“Connelly spins a story in which the risk is life itself, and the collateral damage may be integrity.

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“Murder at Queen’s Landing is a high-paced adventure with a light feathering of attraction between the protagonists.

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“Woods provides a lively romp of a book, but it’s built for entertainment, not solving puzzles. Pick up a copy to update your sense of why James Bond was and is adored.”

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For Salvo Montalbano, the whole episode is as dramatic as a film.

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“Like the strongest authors in this genre, Selfon bares the effects of death on each of us.

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“If you enjoy timing your books to the seasons, Byron’s Halloween-themed Cajun mystery is a must-read for this time of year, an enjoyable spin through the kind of sensible, clue-laden plott

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“Mina’s touch with the dark, gritty, and disturbing is that of an expert, and this book is a persuasive and frightening page-turner.”

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“This is a perfect mystery for summer beach reading—or for motivating yourself to plan a Key West vacation—as long as you can stay clear of the business end of a chef’s knife or heavy-duty

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“Mums and Mayhem is light reading as mysteries go and lacks vibrancy in the romantic strand so typical of this subgenre of ‘cozy’ mysteries, but it embraces a char

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This thriller should raise more than goosebumps—it’s a raceway of red flags signaling the possible connections of corrupt officials and money-hungry drug developers.”

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When She Was Good makes a desperate plea for the forces of love and justice to prevail. And with each tense additional revelation, it’s clear there’s only disaster ahead.

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“Bringing the traditional British mystery up to date with this strong and driven sleuth—not a true amateur sleuth, but an active partner with the official investigation—is the best part of

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“Issued as a paperback original, Love & Other Crimes is a perfect match for summer’s relaxing moments, whether they are long ones on vacation or short breathers between home-ba

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“The Summer of Kim Novak brings back to life that adolescent quandary of feeling like you know more than the adults around you, but being desperately afraid that y

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“The suspense of Eagle Station lies in how each detailed flight maneuver in air or space will turn out, and who’ll walk away with few enough injuries to survive—and return to Earth

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“Despite the classic investigations that Poke leaps into, with violence and threat and red herrings and regret, Poke Rafferty is a person who cares enough to listen, to experience, and to c

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The book spins quickly into risk and danger, and the final chapters, fast-paced and dark with threat, provide one of the best manhunt and intended escape sequences of curr

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Mandel’s symphony of belief and offerings builds slowly to a pattern that, in the midst of loss, insists on giving meaning and value to the half-understood, half-intended

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“The final scenes lead dramatically to a high-tension Cold War quandary that promises more to come in this entertaining series.”

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“Donna Leon’s ability to paint both her city of Venice and the quandaries of commitment make this Trace Elements a quietly powerful book.”

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“Beyond the usual detective/PI action, Mosley creates a model for writing that moves off the ‘race card’ and back to true descriptions.”

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“As for all really important worldmaking, the key to the power of Agency is not the imaginative twists of computers, software, or politics, but what people do for t

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“Stuart Woods with Treason provides a couple of hours of uncomplicated chase-and-shoot entertainment.”

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“Tursten’s books present the Swedish setting as if it were a character, in rich, active detail.

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“Although she doesn’t yet have the knack of creating deeply compelling characters, Dovalpage’s writing hints at the possibility that she will be to Cuba what Donna Leon has become for Venic

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“Clearly inheriting the mantel of Jim Thompson and Donald Westlake (and admittedly strongly influenced by them), this walk-on-the-dark-side author will also appeal to readers of early Garry

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“Lit with insight, affection, and the deep tenderness that can accompany long-term grief, Sallis’ Sarah Jane is that most unusual of mysteries: one that investigates the soul, walk

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“The Chain will unforgettably haunt you even if you just read the first chapter—so you might as well lock the doors, bite your nails, and read it all.”

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“Fans of Karen Slaughter will find Haseldine’s crime fiction rewarding . . .”

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“The poison of the crimes, like the spider venom involved, threatens to incapacitate and to kill.”

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Triple Jeopardy shows emphatically that Perry’s best writing exhumes the motives of the human heart.”

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“The trouble with being a sort of Wonder Woman is, once people know you exist, they either want to force you to do their jobs or kill you. Or both.”

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“Taking Early Riser into the summer reading stack will be surprisingly refreshing even though it arrives with both love and a shiver of foreboding.”

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“Retelling wartime history as spy fiction is Downing’s deeply grounded path; pointing out the power of love and family within it, however, is his aria.”

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“A well-turned-out, exciting, and at times downright nail-biting traditional mystery, with satisfying emotional resonance.”

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“A slow, rich novel of a distant time and a man who is ‘Othered’ in most aspects of his life.”

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“Across the decades of the narrator’s life, Black Souls becomes as mysterious as a set of cave paintings or yesterday’s ‘tags’ on a building.”

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Spoiler alert: The new Joanne Fluke mystery provides answers to the last few. Read the others first, or plunge into this one and suffer the consequences.

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“It’s stylish to portray Mossad as the least likeable and most dangerous of all the secret mission forces in the Western world.”

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“it’s the taint of a shell-shock diagnosis, something considered so offensive and humiliating in postwar society that it can terminate Rutledge’s career almost as quickly as a bullet to the

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“It’s a foregone conclusion that adults picking up The Golden Tresses of the Dead are sneakily opening up the book on their own, under the covers at night.”

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The Killer Collective binds it together into a blazing adventure of espionage escape fiction, perfect to start the new year.”

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“Woods, a pro at keeping the plates spinning, creates a stellar performance of risk, intrigue, and hard-won escapes for his very experienced protagonist . . .”

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Liars’ Paradox once again displays the fierce and powerful route this author’s already lived, and her determination to bare the horrors of today’

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The Warriors is immaculately plotted, as you’d expect of such a credentialed author.”

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“As always, Harrison’s plotting is tight, her pacing compelling, and her attack on the morality of the Mormon Church sharp-clawed yet heartbreaking.”

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“A fine read, memorable and satisfying in its dark tangles and solutions.”

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The Moscow Sleepers offers a sturdy display of espionage agencies wrestling to collaborate via real-life intrigue, with a nice dose of feminine teamwork.”

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“one of the most unusual, unlikely, and un-put-downable PI novels ever.”

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“Deftly braiding suspense, crime, and the search for trust and truth, Katchur works a modern ‘deliverance’ out of a harsh rural location, with potential that she more than justifies in her

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In the English seaside town of Brighton, there’s an active murderer again—one whose theatrical death scene creation immediately binds together the amazing (if aging) Max Mephisto, stage magician, a

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Matthew Farrell’s debut crime novel What Have You Done opens in Philadelphia, rich with the details he absorbed growing up in a police officer’s family.

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It’s 24 degrees below zero in Oslo, Norway, as police detective Lena Stigersand watches a corpse being pulled from the harbor, in contrast to the Christmas decorations around the market area.

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Matt Johnson’s Wicked Game trilogy began with Wicked Game, then Deadly Game, and now wraps up in End Game.

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What happens to a CIA agent who turns whistleblower on her own colleagues?

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How marvelous to have Charles Todd set the tenth Bess Crawford mystery in Wales, the least written about part of the British Isles.

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Who would guess that a time-turning fantasy twist could be braided into a grim and edgy mystery, ending up with one of the most complex, suspenseful, and original page turners of the season?

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Whether it’s God or fate or karma or randomness, how should we respond when life skewers us with loss and cruel reshaping of dreams into walking nightmares?

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Spies, enemies, and friends with mixed motives: good thing investigator Billy Boyle has his close friends Kaz and Big Mike with him in Normandy, France, in July 1944, because that may be the only l

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Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen just entered his seventies, and his crime novels date back to when he was 22. Still, he’s not well known in the US because of the lag in translation.

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The first chapter of Not Her Daughter is taut, intense, gripping—and by the end of its handful of pages, it’s clear the speaker, entrepreneur and CEO Sarah Walker, has taken someone else’s

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British author Sandie Jones brings out her debut crime novel The Other Woman as one of the creepiest “fall in love and step into danger” books ever.

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A debut thriller is always an adventure—has the author been secretly practicing the craft of tight, suspenseful writing, so that the plot will make sense, the pace will force the pages to turn, and

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“Closer to a Jeffery Deaver manhunt emotionally, than to Nordic noir, Manning’s debut crime novel is a keeper.”

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Young professor Jonah Baum teaches transcendental poetry and Gothic literature at a small Vermont college.

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“Serious stories, taking in the main a hard line on reality, and any gray scale would show them on the dark end of the spectrum.”