Monday, January 28, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/26

Only four new books hit the Hornswoggler House this week, so I'm not going to bother to categorize them:

Dark Wars: The Tale of Meiji Dracula has a premise that sounds silly at first (Dracula in Japan!) but could be something interesting. The cover is awfully busy, but doesn't go over the top in the way I would have expected from that title. Dark Wars is a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi, best known as the creator of Vampire Hunter D (none of whose work, I have to admit, have I read), with illustrations by Katsuya Terada. It's published by Del Rey, hitting bookstores any day now. It's an interesting choice for Del Rey, and shows that they're really serious about their partnership with Kodansha (and that they think that there might finally be a solid audience for translated popular fiction somewhere in the nexus of Goth, manga, and urban fantasy).

Copspeak is a dictionary of law enforcement (and criminal) terms published in 1996 by that fine and venerable house John Wiley & Sons. (Look for the Wiley label on all the books you buy!) It was written by Tom Philbin, who has written a pile of novels, true crime books, and other crime-related stuff. I can rarely resist books of interesting language, so this was right up my alley. I hope to be peppering my posts with authentic perp talk soon, so be warned.

T is for Trespass is Sue Grafton's new novel, and you've either been living in a tree or make it a point to ignore the world of mystery novels if you've never heard of her "Kinsey Milhone" series. This is the nineteenth of them, set in December of 1987, and I expect it will be just as good as the last eighteen of them -- which is very good indeed.

And Brave Story is an immense doorstop of a fantasy novel, which I'd thought was a young adult book (though the book itself doesn't actually say that anywhere, so I may be wrong). It was written by Miyuki Miyabe, translated by Alexander O. Smith, and has a great oddball cover by Dan May. (When people complain that all fantasy covers are illustrations, and so they have to look alike, they forget that things like this are possible. I'd love to see more like it, if the audience doesn't run screaming in disgust.) Viz published it back in July of 2007, and I remember thinking then, "Is Viz trying to expand into fiction now?" Only time will tell how big that program will end up being, but seeing any SFF in translation hitting US shores is a good thing.

And that's two translated novels (both from the Japanese, which is the flavor of the decade) out of four books this week. Can a PW trend piece be far behind?

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