Friends of Smoke Signals – Please Support our Publication

  • Updated

One of my favorite crime writers was Andrea Camilleri, who died in July of 2019 at age ninety-four. His Inspector Montalbano series, set in Sicily, was the subject of a previous column. Camilleri’s books were full of wit, violence, and a deep knowledge of human nature. His death, and the pro…

  • Updated

For good or ill, the end of the year calls up a whole half-dozen occasions for bookish gift-giving—holidays, traditions, and family gatherings. In 2020, there’s one more occasion, grimmer and more universal than any of the others have ever been. We’ve all earned the feeling of being survivors. 

  • Updated

It seems to me that production of detective stories on so large a scale, and by writers whose immediate reward is small and whose need of critical praise is almost nil, would not be possible at all if the job took any talent.

  • Updated

 The lifeblood of any publishing year is novelty, in all its forms. The endless parade of books on bookstore display tables all calls out to prospective buyers with the same call: new, new, new! The newest novels, the newest histories, the newest biographies taking advantage of the newest so…

  • Updated

There are some books I am a little reluctant to review. I struggle to overcome that reluctance because dark things happen in our world, and we gain nothing by hiding them—or hiding from them. In truth, we lose because by hiding them, we let then grow and fester.

  • Updated

Despite the blazing heat and choking humidity outside, despite the classic dog-days-of-summer feeling of being trapped all day and all night under a soggy, heated blanket, the weeks are slowly filing in, and the autumn book-season is slowly drawing nearer. The season typically brings an incr…

  • Updated

I was in law enforcement for over twelve years. Many things, like the high incarceration rate of black males, have disturbed me about our criminal justice system. But when it came to police brutality, I believed in the “few rotten apples” theory. I understand the pressures police face from a…

  • Updated

Max Brooks had a massive bestseller on his hands back in 2006 when he wrote that War and Peace of zombie novels, World War Z. The book's title was later used in a Brad Pitt movie that otherwise had virtually nothing in common with the book other than hordes of shambling undead, but millions …

  • Updated

The action of Matthew Carr's second novel (following 2017's The Devils of Cardona) kicks off in Barcelona in the summer of 1909. It features private detective Harry Lawton, who arrives in the city just in time to be drawn into a series of bizarre killings. Several people have been killed by …

  • Updated

Jill McCorkle's new novel Hieroglyphics is on one level a quiet, modest story about a battered, durable, loving marriage. Lil and Frank Wishart have been together for years, their long marriage first cemented by the fact that each of them had already been deeply wounded by personal bereaveme…

  • Updated

A new writer has piqued my curiosity. Well, Lydia Davis is not a new writer, as she has at least 16 books to her credit. Only one of them is a novel, “The End of the Story.” I have not read it and likely will not read it. A brief description of the story made me think it would not hold my interest.

  • Updated

On a chilly April morning in 1984, while driving my daughter to middle school. I saw a small African American child wearing a heavy-looking backpack trudging along Powers Ferry Road. I stopped to give him a ride. The child, a classmate of my daughter’s, said he’d been suspended from riding t…

Sponsored