| May 2, 2010
Crime fiction, for good or for ill, adheres to a discrete series of states. Order out of chaos — that's the mystery novel, hard-boiled or cozy, in a nutshell. Chaos out of order — that's the ethos of noir. Those existential constraints are...
| Apr 12, 2010
A patient came to Elizabeth Kearney with a dilemma: whether to go to medical school.
There were a lot of physicians in his family and he wanted to be a doctor, but medicine was not the only thing in his genes — one of his parents had Huntington's...
| Apr 4, 2010
I should admit up front that my favorite narrators tend to be unreliable. While other readers seek comfort or order, a breather from life's everyday chaos and bad news, I like having my consciousness pricked by protagonists who don't understand their...
| Nov 26, 2010
Finding "Naked Heat" by Richard Castle simmering on the bestseller list wouldn't be unusual — it's the second in a mystery series, with a sexy cover and a blurb from author Michael Connelly — but for one thing: There is no Richard Castle. He's...
| Apr 1, 2010
In the annals of demonology, William Peter Blatty falls somewhere between St. Augustine and Joss Whedon.
He isn't the first person who's ever written about demons and demonic possession, but he has provided us with one of the genre's most memorable...
| Dec 19, 2010
Of Love and Evil
Alfred A. Knopf: 176 pp., $24.95
During the Christmas season, it's perfectly reasonable to think about angels, isn't it? After all, didn't they bear glad tidings about a babe born in Bethlehem?
Angels have long been...
| Dec 23, 2010
NEW YORK — For someone steeped in murder, grift and shady characters, Otto Penzler is remarkably cheerful.
"I'm the happiest person you know. I am an optimist, I'm happy, I love life, I love friends, I love my job," he says in his book-lined...
| Dec 19, 2010
What are we supposed to think when someone claims he's getting important life-changing news in a dream or from an angel? For some, the reaction is: Get the straitjacket ready. Others, however, will turn to someone like Richard Dawkins, who says such...
| Jul 11, 2010
When is an apple more than an apple? When it's resting in Eve's palm – or better yet, in the hands of the storyteller(s) of Genesis.
The same happens to other objects touched by myth: Fire, for instance, has Genesis-sized significance in the...
| Aug 1, 2010
Though I write for this West Coast newspaper, I live in New York City. That means, like a lot of dwellers of the five boroughs, I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about real estate, whether griping about too-high rents for tiny...
| Sep 14, 2010
When Blue Balliett burst onto the tween literary scene with her first action-packed intellectual art mystery six years ago, it was, in every sense, a puzzler. An unknown Chicago teacher had propelled herself to the top of the country's bestseller lists...