The Mamas and the Papas had that lyric right. Those of us working a traditional Monday-to-Friday job face Monday knowing the rest of the work week will drag on forever and ever. It helps if you have great work colleagues and love your job, like I do, but still. Work is work. Some people, including the poor folks below, don't have it easy.
Gerald Seymour: A Deniable Death (2013). This is a very remarkable book of espionage published earlier this year by St. Martin's Press. If you like your spies to do a lot of running around, this isn't for you. But if you hunger for the minute details of planning and executing an intricate spy mission and want complicated and believable characters, don't miss this one.
|Secret Intelligence Service building in London|
April Smith: North of Montana (1994) and Judas Horse (2008). Last year, Sister Mary complained here about the scarcity of good, strong, sassy women in fictional crime. Sister, meet FBI Agent Ana Grey. Although Ana is short on wisecracks, she has goodness and strength in spades. Unfortunately, Ana suffers from an overabundance of obnoxious FBI colleagues.
In Santa Monica, California, the very rich neighborhoods are separated from the less rich by Montana Avenue. When Ana's mother died, Ana moved from the less wealthy side of the city to live with her grandfather, a retired Santa Monica cop, in a ritzy neighborhood. North of Montana, the series debut, finds Ana's climb up the FBI ladder interrupted by a jealous superior, who assigns her to investigate a local doctor. He has been accused by an aging Hollywood star of addicting her to drugs and is suspected in the death of one of his employees, Violeta Alvarado, who is possibly Ana's relative. This book is beautifully written suspense in which author Smith, an Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, compares the haves and have-nots of a California city and forces Ana to reassess her family memories.
Emma Lathen: Pick Up Sticks (1970). Tall, silver-haired Wall Street investment banker John Putnam Thatcher escapes the Sloan Guaranty Trust to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail. (No, this is not code for flying to Argentina to canoodle with his mistress like the ex-governor of South Carolina.) Thatcher's companion on the Trail, a local named Henry Morland, discovers a body and is immediately suspected by the state police, while Thatcher turns his attention to a pair of Boston financiers' real estate dealings.
This is one of my favorite traditional mystery series. The books always focus on a specific business interest of a Sloan client. Discussions among the bank's employees and conversations between Thatcher and the clients make the financial dealings clear. It's very entertaining for me to sit in on a business deal, even if it's fictional. The authors (in reality, Martha Henissart and Mary J. Latsis are Emma Lathen) write with charm and an appreciation for irony as they exhibit how a business works. Thatcher has a dry sense of humor and is never anything less than ethical. In other words, the opposite of how the Wall Street banker of today is commonly perceived.
Monday is almost over. For the rest of my work week, I'm thankful I don't have to face lying thigh to thigh in a marsh with a fellow worker, wonder about my own or my colleagues' loyalties or escape the relentless pressures of a bank's employees. I hope the rest of your week goes well, too.
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