Mysteries offering history, chess, humor
These three whodunits are set in a variety of times and places: present-day New York; Brighton, England in the late 1950s; and Europe during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s. They will undoubtedly capture your imagination.
Assassin’s Lullaby, by Mark Rubinstein, 328 pages, Thunder Lake Press paperback, 2022
Follow hired assassin Eli Dagan as he takes on an assignment for the Brighton Beach-based Russian Mafia of Brooklyn.
Dagan, a former Mossad agent, resides in Manhattan under the assumed identity of Aiden West. He puts his life on the line for a payday in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, wired to his offshore account.
Tension mounts as Dagan leaves the safety of his apartment to meet with mobsters, plan the kill and confront his prey. He keeps a wary eye out for technological surveillance and furtive stalkers.
He lives moment-to-moment, whether traversing the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, crossing the vast interior of Grand Central Station, frequenting his favorite trattoria or unwinding at the local Irish pub.
Meet the colorful lowlife criminals and high-ranking bosses who inhabit the Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking underworld of Brighton Beach, which is reminiscent of their hometown, Odessa.
The deadly competition among rival gangs forms the basis for this enthralling, suspenseful story. Who will survive to kill another day? Can a killer retire and start life anew? Is it wise to trust a stranger?
Octogenarian Mark Rubinstein is a forensic psychiatrist. In his 11 works of fiction, he dissects the psyches of killers and criminals.
Rubinstein reveals, “Dagan [is] both a hero and an anti-hero…He has a moral center and, at the same time, can be ruthlessly efficient when it comes to killing people who are evil.”
Psycho by the Sea: A Constable Twitten Mystery, by Lynne Truss, 303 pages, Raven Books hardcover 2021
Enjoy this fast-paced murder mystery that will find you laughing at the madcap goings-on in seaside Brighton, England. The action takes place in September 1957.
Petty hoodlums, hardened killers and corrupt policemen stumble through a series of ghastly crimes during the rain-swept off-season in the British seaside resort. Plans are in the works for a December holiday heist at the local emporium.
Psycho by the Sea is the fourth in a series featuring young Constable Twitten. He has joined the more jaded Inspector Steine and Sergeant Brunswick on the Brighton Police Force. Twitten dreams of a promotion to London.
Author Lynne Truss brings readers up to date on past episodes in a short prologue so you can enjoy this most recent book in the series.
Truss, who is in her 60s, was a finalist for the 2021 British Comedy Women in Print prize. The first Constable Twitter novel was awarded the Last Laugh Award for the best humorous crime novel published in the UK.
Captain Grey’s Gambit: A Novel, by J. H. Gelernter, 256 pages, W. W. Norton & Company paperback, 2023
Follow the exploits of an early 19th-century undercover spy in His Majesty’s Service during the Napoleonic Wars. The courageous Captain Thomas Grey is multi-faceted: swordsman, sailor, chess master, pugilist, stargazer and undercover operative. Captain Grey’s Gambit is the second and final book of a series about the fictional hero.
The action takes place in the bloody aftermath of the French Revolution. Learn about the political and diplomatic history of early 19th-century Europe, when the British had a compelling stake in the ultimate outcome of events on the Continent.
Explore the interlocking alliances, the nation-states that are no more, and the strategic importance of naval power in the pre-industrial age. Take a tour of the principalities that were later absorbed into the German Confederation.
Chess aficionados will enjoy games that Gelernter describes move by move. Those who don’t follow chess can skip those very concise paragraphs.
In an endnote, Gelernter points out those parts of his novel that are historically accurate, and where he has taken literary license.