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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“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 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 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 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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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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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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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.”