Kathleen Hennrikus

Kathleen Hennrikus blames Nancy Drew for her lifelong reading obsession.

For a while last year she thought about owning a bookstore, but the reality of leaving a newspaper job to own a bookstore came ominously close to fulfilling that frying-pan-fire scenario.

One of her favorite games as a child was Authors. It introduced her to Dickens and Hawthorne, and gave an appreciation of Poe. Some might call it more than appreciation: her dog is named Lenore and the cats are Annabel Lee and Raven. It’s not the macabre of Poe that is so interesting, it’s the heartfelt expression of a life lived, but perhaps not managed.

She loves books, and visits libraries not only to support them, but also to keep the house from filling with lots of books that may look interesting on a whim, but 50 pages in, are a struggle to read. If you look at her bookshelves, besides the Nancy Drew, you would find strong storytelling; character development and well thought out plots dominate. From Jon Krakauer and Michael Lewis, to P. D. James and Ellen Hart, once she finds a writer she loves, it’s usually a lifelong commitment. She agrees with Nathaniel Hawthorne in that easy reading is damn hard writing.

Book Reviews by Kathleen Hennrikus

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“This is the Katie Gilmartin’s first work of fiction, and she clearly drew on her academic work: interviews she conducted with lesbians about their lives in the 1940s and 1950s.

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“. . . we all miss the Wild West: Cruller Heaven, Chet’s best pal Iggy, and Bernie’s son Charlie. . . . Let’s go home.”

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David Rosenfelt is an award-winning writer who masterfully combines Grisham-like courtroom scenes with James Herriot’s love of dogs.”

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“. . . the pencil illustrations interspersed throughout the book are charming.

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“Anne Perry writes with great assurance about these Victorians stuck in their notions of how to behave, how desperate they are to maintain their superiority—and how little all that will mea

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She may have just gotten to this Podunk town, but this story is hers, dammit!

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A picture of ordinary lives living in extraordinary times.”

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Hunting Shadows is an exceptionally good entry in an outstanding series.

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“In fine fashion, Brian McGilloway reminders readers that Derry’s troubled past is more likely to be a portent than a panacea.”

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The perfect Christmas present is a novella.

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Herein lies the tale of two great stories. First, the background.

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Of the many virtuoso choices Ruth Rendell has made in her Inspector Wexford series (this is number 24) perhaps the best decision is to have characters age.

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It’s hard to believe that there is somewhere in New York state more remote that Millers Kill, the small Adirondack town where Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne has lived all his life. But there is.

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If you are one of those folks who feels it’s never too early to shop for holiday gifts, get this beguiling little book for the dog lover on your list.

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Blue Is the Warmest Color may sound familiar. This graphic novel was adapted into a film and won the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

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“. . . a deserving read . . .”

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“. . . [a] charming series . . .”

The prologue in this fifth book in this charming series takes the reader back to heroine Bess Crawford’s idyllic childhood in India.

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Is it possible for a middle age man to write a novel with a young female protagonist? Maybe, but this isn’t that book.

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Don’t be put off by the priggishness of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Conan Doyle as they visit New York City.

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“Doom hangs over this book, but doesn’t inhabit it.”

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Bring this book to the beach, but don’t forget to keep putting on sunscreen, because once you start reading, you’ll forget everything else around you.

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“. . . [a] masterful job . . .”

Road Trip! Bernie Little and his faithful companion Chet the Jet head to Louisiana in their latest adventure.

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Alan Jacobson knows how to write suspense. . . . Don’t say you weren’t warned.”

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If you are ever in Pittsburgh and run across psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi, run in the opposite direction. He attracts mayhem like pollen attracts bees.

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It’s easy to see why noted author Dennis Lehane chose this tale as the second book in his publishing line.

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“. . . a girl who works hard deserves a break.”

Can a down-on-her-luck queer sista catch a break in ’90s Brooklyn?

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What is the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history?

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Here’s a new concept in a legal thriller: a litigator who suffers from stage fright.

But only in court.

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“. . . an important socio-historical account by someone who’s been there and done all that.”

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It’s no surprise this celebration of Ted Williams is released on the Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Now fans have two reasons to celebrate on April 1.

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“Truth arises from a conflict of opinion.”
—French Proverb

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“The monsters Anne Perry creates are not easy to live with, and their actions linger long after the book is closed.”

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“Hamish Macbeth is that most unusual character, one to whom the reader returns because of his charming flaws. May he never get promoted.”

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“If Thomas Perry can pair Jack with a strong female who is worthy of the story he concocts next, this series just might take off.”

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An English village wakes on the morning after harvest looking to enjoy the fruits of their labors with food, dance, and rest.

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“. . . if Maisie drew a map of her life in Leaving Everything Most Loved it would mirror a Jackson Pollock painting.”

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Charles Todd opens Proof of Guilt with a terrifying historical incident.

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“Hoo boy what a story!”

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Sarah Graves’ Home Repair Is Homicide series has always had two of the three components for a great mystery: a compelling lead character and a great setting.

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When Detective Inspector Gemma James investigates the tawdry demise of Vincent Arnott, an unlovable barrister, it looks like a pickup gone wrong.

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“Babe Ruth didn’t hit a home run every game.” Anne Perry’s Christmas novellas are treats for her fans, starved for more Victorian suspense from the master.

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“. . . a great picture of back alley London, especially The City: that square mile housing the United Kingdom’s financial services industry.”

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“If you’re a sucker for all things Christmas, this book is for you.”

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The maxim write what you know certainly applies in this case. The detective in the Starlight Detective Agency series, David Lowell, like the author, is an astrologer.

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It’s not easy to write the second book in a series. The author doesn’t want to bore the readers with a re-hash of the characters’ lives. Yet the new reader must be made aware of the backstory.

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“Long live Bernie and Chet the Jet.”

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“Invariably, when the author has this much fun, the reader benefits.”

Bodies, seemingly killed by wild animals, have been showing up in Sherlock Holmes’ London.

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“Those Greeks and their family dynamics certainly showed that modern life doesn’t have a lock on irrational behavior.”

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“The Hollywood pitch for Fool Me Twice would be A Star Is Born meets Tweakers.”

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“The device used . . . is clever. . . . These stories are dull.”

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“It’s nice to read a book in which the heroine is not obsessed over body image. Odelia . . . is happy, healthy, in love—and utterly charming.”

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Lots of writers strive for a gritty tale with humor; it’s an overused description, but when it’s apt, it conveys a useful sensibility.

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“Sister Spit is worth rooting for.”

This is the tale of the queer-cabaret version of Lollapalooza.

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“Anne Perry puts the reader in the middle of London . . . tackling a terrifying subject with high style.”

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“Now that’s vengeance.”

Yep, sometimes life is not fair. But there’s a difference between not getting a job and having your pension fund looted by a weasel.

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“Take a bow, Mr. Stashower, you’ve earned it.”

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“. . . a slapdash effort . . .”

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“. . . masterful . . . the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ of mysteries.”

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“. . . the authors fall down in this book. Nurse Bess Crawford is too saintly a figure.”

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“The death of Robert Parker in 2010 did not slow the output of his Spenser books.

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“The closed Amish community is shown in all their glory—from buggies that remind us that perhaps the journey is as important as the destination to a wedding with 400 chickens to cook.”

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Long before the “Downton Abbey” craze, Jacqueline Winspear was writing remarkable mysteries about life in England circa WW I.

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“Susan Wittig Albert is a terrific writer; her descriptions of everything from blooming bluebonnets to the grace and power of a mountain lion caught by China’s headlights are compelling.

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“The Royal Wulff Murders is long, the ending especially protracted and tiresome. There’s no need to wrap up everyone’s life; use your characters for a second book.

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“Strong heroines are always a pleasure to read about . . .”

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“In Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas, Dale Carpenter takes readers through the maze of the judicial system with ease.

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“To Ms. Spencer-Fleming’s credit, she doesn’t have an easy answer to give—no one gets an easy out.

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“Murder at the Lanterne Rouge is wonderfully plotted, and Cara Black ties together the past and present with élan. We’ll always have Paris.”

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“In the hands of an author with less flair, this cliché could turn tedious, but Rhys Bowen has an eye for historical detail and an engaging tale to tell.”

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“Author Elizabeth George is well known for her complicated plots, but this book is an endless litany of the bad, dysfunctional family dynamic. . . .

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“Ms. Brod’s writing is smooth and the subplots about her mom and the protagonist’s relationship differences are handled with care and thoughtfulness.

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“Craig McDonald uses his skills to write a drama that demands the reader pay attention, if a character has a Latino or Anglo name, the reader can’t make assumptions about where the characte

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“Greg Herren knows how to tell a crime story without resorting to inane stereotyping. . . .

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“Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Presents Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense is not an anthology of the best crime stories of the past 50 years, the best that were published in AHMM

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“. . . the point with The Feng Shui Detective Goes West is to enjoy the effervescent ride.”

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“Ms. Muller’s plotting is masterful, with her sure-footed, economical storytelling—even with the changes of narrator from chapter to chapter—supporting the plot as it glides easily along.

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“The action, indeed the story, seems like it takes place another world, distancing the reader from the reading experience—the opposite of what you want in a thriller.

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“Once you meet Agatha Raisin, you’ll keep coming back.”

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In the second book in this series, Daniel Rinaldi, a psychiatric consultant to the Pittsburgh police department for trauma victims, gets called to bank robbery/hostage situation.

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“The virtuous man is content to dream what the wicked man actually does.”
—Plato

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“In The Dog Who Knew Too Much, the mountains hide secrets that some folks want to keep covered up. . . .

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“My gal done me wrong is a terrific reason for an anthology. Noir, much beloved in both books and movies, is notable for the unsentimental portrayal of violence and sex.

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Would you consider getting a tattoo that looks as if Hieronymus Bosch had painted it?

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“Lukewarm recommendation. Angela Gerst could have done better here.”

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Understanding the power of Washington, DC, the city where her father was president, and her husband was chief of the New York Times Washington bureau, Margaret Truman used the setting for

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“Although a police procedural, Betrayal of Trust never plods along.”

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The Gilded Shroud is a romance with a mystery, not to be confused with a mystery that has a romance. Every genre has rules that are followed.

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“Sportswriter Jim Murray could write about anything.”

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The contrast is startling and seems contradictory: How can you have a peaceable small town that hides hatred so deep it results in animal bloodletting?

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At age 35, Alex Miller has the big items checked off. Graduated Yale, then Harvard Law. Married. Youngest to make partner at the big New York law firm. Has a five-year-old daughter he loves.

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It’s risky to write a book about a season spent with a sports team.

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The template for the mystery is who got killed and who did the killing.

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Knockdown is not a whodunit, or a whydunit. Both are clear from the beginning. The question is how. The book gets to the answer by painting a study in contrasts.

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Mourning Gloria is the 19th book in Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series. As with all her books, Ms. Albert has chosen an herb to highlight.