You Were Here
Eileen Brady

Author Gian Sardar’s newest novel, You Were Here, traverses seven decades to tell a story about love, passion, and crime as it jumps from the past (identified by the chapter heading Then) to the present (identified as Now).

In 1940s Minnesota, Claire and William Ballantine have wealth and a beautiful estate, but little else. Their relationship has shrunk to politeness after only two years of marriage. Everything shifts, however, when a 24-year-old seamstress named Eva literally stumbles into their lives after tripping and falling on the sidewalk. William helps her to her feet and their casual meeting leads to a passionate love affair. William finds himself gripped by an obsession with the lovely young girl, leaving his wife increasingly alone. Claire, whose hobby is pottery, becomes agitated and lonely, her only company her fiercely dedicated Danish housekeeper Ketty.

Jumping to the present, readers are introduced to Abby Walters, a 33-year-old, would-be screenwriter who returns to Minnesota for her 15-year high school reunion. She has been visited by recurring nightmares of being buried alive. Is something from the past intruding on her present life? While she explores the clues from her dreams, she begins to uncover the tragic story of Eva and the Ballantines’ love triangle. But how and why is she dreaming about them? At the reunion, Abby rekindles a relationship with Aiden Mackenzie, her high school crush, now a detective involved in a gruesome local murder spree. (This story line, which is truly terrifying, seems unnecessary, simply used as a device to bring the two together.) Eventually Eva and Abby’s stories intersect.

Author Sardar is capable of some truly lovely prose. However, her characterization of women made it difficult to relate or sympathize with her main characters. Claire, and other well-off women in her circle, float around all day, passive and complaining. Even Abby, a modern woman, has only a vague job selling vintage jewelry. My favorite character is Eva, who works for a living, counts her pennies, and dreams of a better life with the man she loves. Unfortunately, poor Eva ends up being the catalyst for the violence to come.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 16:23:44
The Birdwatcher
Craig Sisterson

William Shaw made his name with the acclaimed Breen & Tozer series set among the musical and social disruption of swinging 1960s London, but here he takes a different tack, in time, place, and pace. The Birdwatcher is quieter and more patient in style and tone, echoing its hero.

Police Sergeant William South is an avid birdwatcher and methodical community cop in small-town Dungeness, on the Kent coastline. He likes the peace of his adopted home, with its nuclear power station casting a desolate shadow across stony beaches and bleak marshlands. This isn’t a tourist hot spot. South’s solitary life is a world away from the conflict and killing of his childhood in Northern Ireland. When a fellow birdwatcher is found murdered, South’s peace is upturned by the violent death of his friend, and the arrival of DS Alexandra Cupidi, a big city detective looking to make her mark.

Shaw crafts a delicious atmosphere in The Birdwatcher, drawing readers in not with high-impact action, but a slower build of tension and character. The Dungeness landscapes could easily be the setting of a postapocalyptic film; there’s a gnawing sense of bleakness, a rugged and grey countryside. This is a quieter crime novel, with a style and tone that matches the setting and the diligence of its “hero.”

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 16:34:20
Two Nights
Hank Wagner

Kathy Reich’s new character has the obligatory catchy name (Sunday Night), intriguing résumé (a graduate of the military Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program and disillusioned ex-cop), and troubled past (a horrific childhood and a sad ending to her police career). All PI staples, bordering on cliché, but Reichs makes it all work in the masterful debut of her first new character since Temperance Brennan (herself the star of 21 novels, and inspiration for the long-running television series Bones).

In her first adventure, Sunday takes on a cold case at the request of a family friend, poking into the fate of a young woman who seemingly vanished after what appeared to be an anti-Semitic bombing that also killed several other family members. Sunday’s investigation lands her in Chicago, the site of the bombing, where her inquiries uncover some truly odd facts, and odder perps. It will take all her skill and professional savvy, plus the timely assistance of a beloved family member (remember, the title is Two Nights), to have a chance at surviving the experience.

Reichs provides all you expect out of a PI novel and more, writing with power and flair, providing plentiful action, a terrific supporting cast, and numerous quips and pithy commentary, all capped off by an intriguing plot. Sunday Night herself is complex and captivating, a resourceful and sympathetic series lead, one whose presence should continue to attract readers to future installments in the series.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 16:41:56
The Vinyl Detective: The Run-Out Groove
Jay Roberts

The unnamed hero of Andrew Cartmel’s series lives a relatively sedate life in London with his girlfriend, Nevada, and their two cats while tracking down rare vinyl albums for collectors.

When he is approached to track down the truth behind the death of a ’60s rock singer named Valerian and what happened to her kidnapped child, he’s initially not interested because he’s not “that” kind of detective. But the allure of tracking down an exceedingly rare 45 single from her band gets him to take the case. When people he contacts for information begin to die after speaking to him, things take a more sinister turn, and soon he, Nevada, and their friends Tinkler and Clean Head find themselves targeted as well. Someone doesn’t want whatever the truth might be to come out.

Cartmel’s story set in the niche world of vintage and music enthusiasts has quite the air of authenticity and an audacious sense of humor. Readers will feel as if they are observing real (if a bit odd) people in their everyday lives and can’t help but develop a bond with them. While the attempts on the lives of the characters ratchet up the intensity, the danger fits with the overall feel of the book, never serving simply as a setup for the big-action set pieces. In fact, the only false note to this book was a reveal in the epilogue that felt like it was cribbed from almost every kidnap story I’ve ever read.

You'll enjoy The Run-Out Groove whether you have an abiding love for vinyl records or not. The book hooks you fast for an intriguing ride that will only serve to whet your appetite for more books in this series.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 16:48:26
No Turning Back
Sharon Magee

Anna Graves has had a busy year. Not all bad—her baby girl Joni was born, and she’s just returned to a job she loves as a radio news presenter. But not all good—she and her husband Guy have separated, and she’s moved out of her beautiful home into a much smaller apartment in the English seaside village of Ridgmont Waters.

Late one afternoon, she’s taking Joni for walk along the beach when a boy runs at them, waving a knife. Knowing she must protect her daughter at all costs, Anna grabs a long-tooth comb from her purse. The boy slashes her cheek then stumbles into the comb which pierces his neck, killing him. At first, Anna is a hero. What mother wouldn’t protect her child? But when the boy’s autopsy comes back showing he was poisoned, people start looking at her sideways.

Then more young boys begin to die, poisoned and drowned in backyard ponds in copycat crimes that echo the 20-year-old murders of “The Ophelia Killer.” When Anna begins receiving emails from someone who seems to know all the details of the new killings and signs them as TOK (The Ophelia Killer), the police, her friends, the public, and even her family are sure she’s involved. As she tries to clear her name, she realizes she and Joni are in danger, and the only people who still believe in her are her loving grandmother, and strangely, the brother of the boy she killed.

In this, her US debut, Tracy Buchanan brings readers an intense and emotional story filled with dizzying twists and turns, with a final one that’s so surprising it’s difficult to accept. Interspersed are chapters from 20 years previous from The Ophelia Killer’s point of view. Even with the dubious final shocker, this is a book well worth reading.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 16:56:19
Shadow Man
Kevin Burton Smith

All the police procedurals and serial killer tropes may be checked off, but Alan Drew’s Shadow Man (even the title has reverberations savvy mystery readers will hear) is as much a tangled character study and domestic drama as it is crime fiction—albeit one where nobody escapes unscathed. Then again, everyone seems plenty scathed to begin with.

That certainly includes emotionally troubled Detective Ben Wade, ex-LAPD, who’s slunk back to the sleepy but rapidly expanding SoCal suburb of Rancho Santa Elena that he once called home, where the less-than-mean streets sometimes make him feel like a “glorified security guard.” Still, it’s a place with “safe neighborhoods, great schools, [and] little smog” where he hopes to clean up his life and start over. A peculiar choice, maybe, since this is where his problems began.

Not that he’s the only one suffering here. There’s his ex, Rachel, and Emma, the obligatory smart-ass adolescent daughter. And Orange County deputy medical examiner/potential love interest Natasha Betencourt, who’s got her own dark secrets. They’re all looking for some sort of peace. Or at least closure.

Good luck with that, folks.

Because death happens everywhere, and as Ben follows the threads of two seemingly unrelated cases (one a middle-aged single woman murdered in her home; the other, a dead teenage boy discovered in some strawberry fields), the muck of the detective’s long-submerged past is stirred up. The investigations (and the suspicion a serial killer may be involved) are more of a sideshow, however; the main act is Ben and his inner struggles, infinitely darker and more disturbing (and more interesting). Ultimately, the Night Prowler isn’t even the real villain here.

Cozy this ain’t. It’s heart-wrenching, disturbing stuff, scanning at times more like a bruising psychological soap opera than a crime thriller, but the author shows definite muscle, and he knows how to spin a yarn. The Reagan-era setting lends a bittersweet nostalgia to everything (and a pointed foreshadowing of some current cultural and political woes), and the subtle but potent characterization, reminiscent of SoCal masters like Ross Macdonald or T. Jefferson Parker, makes you actually give a damn about what happens to these people.

Which is fine with me, because the rumors are Ben and company will be back.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 17:02:54
Treble at the Jam Fest
Eileen Brady

In this fourth book of the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series, author Leslie Budewitz sticks to her successful formula, delivering food, family, and murder in the quaint Montana town of Jewel Bay. It’s time for the annual jazz festival, but even before it begins, musicians’ tempers are flaring. Well-known jazz guitarist Gerry Martin has struck discord with young protégé Gabby Drake, and Dave Barber, a part-time musician and festival board member. After Martin suspiciously falls off a cliff, police begin an investigation, while the town residents hope a murder won’t scare off the tourists and more importantly, their money.

Treble at the Jam Fest starts at a whirlwind pace, introducing 12 characters in the first eight pages; but thankfully, it soon slows down so the reader can remember who is who. Running fastest of all is Erin Murphy, the proprietor of the Glacier Mercantile, Jewel Bay’s high-end food and home emporium. Between stocking the store, dealing with her customers, and finding time for boyfriend Adam Zimmerman and his visiting buddy Tanner Lundquist, Erin puts in very full days. When she gets involved in the investigation into Martin’s death (to the disapproval of local deputy Oakland), her cozy cabin in the woods starts feeling like a trap as a killer comes closer. Contributing to the chaos is Erin’s mom, Francesca, more commonly known as “Fresca,” a widow with a secret. Treble at the Jam Fest is a lighthearted and amusing story with the added bonus of several yummy recipes featured in the back of the book.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 17:07:42
Fortune’s Fool
Betty Webb

If the problems of the present are too much for you, how about taking a dip in the problems of the past, say a couple thousand years ago? Fortune’s Fool, Albert A. Bell Jr.’s sixth Pliny the Younger book, sets a high standard for mysteries in the time of the Caesars. Twenty years after the fall of the degenerate Nero, nobleman Gaius Pliny is trying to avoid the perpetual personal and political hassles of Rome by lying low at his country retreat. When a construction project on his house reveals the skeleton of a man who had been sealed up alive in a wall, Gaius once again must play detective. The fact that the murder victim may have been Liburnius, the father of Livia, Gaius’ detested but powerful wife, makes his investigation unusually delicate. Fortunately, Gaius’ true love—the intelligent and brave slave girl Aurora—helps him stave off another political firestorm. The mystery of who killed Liburnius and why is certainly intriguing, but the triangular relationship between Gaius, Livia, and Aurora provides the backbone of this marvelously written book. Set in a time where arranged marriages were the rule, not the exception, poor Gaius must rely on his happily married friend Tacitus for advice on dealing with the warring women in his household. But that advice can be scary, such as when Tacitus explains, “You don’t understand how [women] think unless they’ve killed somebody.”

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 17:12:34
True Grift
Dick Lochte

As Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael once wrote (and Marilyn Monroe breathed quite wonderfully), “When love goes wrong, nothing goes right.” There’s not a lot of love in Jack Bunker’s fast and funny chronicle of a seemingly simple scheme to scam an insurance company, but what there is (a very fast non-consummated marriage), is destined for disaster, like everything else connected to the ill-fated con. Its participants, who’d be at home in any of Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder novels, are all connected in one way or another to a Southern California golf course bar and grill. Fellow duffers Al Boyle, a hapless insurance claims adjuster so annoyed at his company reassigning him to Weed, California, he wants to steal from them, and J. T. Edwards, a high-living, cash-poor sleazebag lawyer who’s eager to steal from anybody, are the creators of the personal injury scam. For reasons known only to the gods of comedy, they tap a dim-bulb greenskeeper named Mack to be their plan’s lynchpin “victim.” They also enlist Wanda, the club’s daytime waitress, who’s a bit more attractive than she seemed behind the counter and a heck of a lot smarter. Add a couple of seriously dangerous gangsters named Frankie Fresh and Vinnie Fangs, and a scrupulous insurance investigator named Hector, and, voila!, a recipe for disaster, hilarity, a couple of deaths, and karma. Reader Harry Dyson, who presents the novel at an effectively breezy pace, slows down only near the end when payment for the crime comes due with results that are as satisfactory as they are surprisingly moral.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-13 17:17:59
ITW 2017 Thriller Award Winners Announced

internationalthrillerwriterslogored

The International Thriller Writers (ITW) 2017 Thriller Awards winners were announced on July 15, 2017, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City during the ITW Thrillerfest XII (July 11-15, 2017).

Congratulations to the winners, marked below in bold red.

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown and Company)
Where It Hurts, by Reed Farrel Coleman (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)
Arrowood, by Laura McHugh (Spiegel & Grau)
Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Deadly Kiss, by Bob Bickford (Black Opal Books)
Type and Cross, by J.L. Delozier (WiDo Publishing)
Recall, by David McCaleb (Lyrical Underground)
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Palindrome, by E.Z. Rinsky (Witness Impulse)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
In the Clearing, by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer)
The Body Reader, by Anne Frasier (Thomas & Mercer)
The Minoan Cipher, by Paul Kemprecos (Suspense Publishing)
Kill Switch, by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Salvage, by Stephen Maher (Dundurn)

BEST SHORT STORY
"The Business of Death," by Eric Beetner in Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns (Down & Out Books)
"The Peter Rabbit Killers," by Laura Benedict in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
"The Man from Away," by Brendan DuBois in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
"Big Momma," by Joyce Carol Oates in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
"Parallel Play," by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Morning Star, by Pierce Brown (Del Rey)
Holding Smoke, by Elle Cosimano (Disney-Hyperion)
Steeplejack, by A.J. Hartley (TOR Teen)
Thieving Weasels, by Billy Taylor (Dial Books)
The Darkest Corners, by Kara Thomas (Delacorte Press)

BEST EBOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Romeo's Way, by James Scott Bell (Compendium Press)
The Edge of Alone, by Sean Black (Sean Black)
Untouchable, by Sibel Hodge (Wonder Women Publishing)
Destroyer of Worlds, by J.F. Penn (J.F. Penn)
Breaker, by Richard Thomas (Alibi)

THE THRILLER LEGEND AWARD
Tom Doherty

SILVER BULLET LITERARY AWARD (for charitable work)
Lisa Gardner

Teri Duerr
2017-07-16 20:51:29
JASON PINTER: THE CASTLE

Mystery Scene continues its look at authors’ writing process. Today, Jason Pinter shares how he wrote The Castle, a political thriller.

Politics With a Twist

By Jason Pinter

pinterjason thecastle
How do you write a political thriller about a billionaire businessman who runs for president on a populist campaign, upturning the political landscape like a bull in a china shop, and not have it feel a little too familiar?

That was the question I faced while writing my new novel The Castle, which centers a young man, Remy Stanton who joins the campaign of billionaire Rawson Griggs and watches the country nearly tear itself apart.

So how do you make a story that’s led the news every day for two years feel fresh?

First off, you take everything people will think they know about the characters, and make them do a 180 degree turn.

So “you know who” in the White House appears to lack impulse control?

Well, there’s a method to Rawson Griggs’s madness. If Rawson appears unhinged—that may be how he wants to appear.

He’s thought this through. He knows how to play emotions—and voters—like a Stradivarius.

And what about Alena Griggs, the brilliant, poised heiress to one of the world’s biggest companies?

Does that person familiar? Well, not in this book.

You see, in The Castle, Alena may be the billionaire’s daughter, but she has some serious reservations what money and fame have done to her personal life.

She may be her father’s daughter, but Alena has serious reservations about following in his footsteps.

In fact, she married an accountant (yes, an accountant) because she wanted a normal life.

And how’s that regular dude holding up in the face of the media and political scrutiny? Not so great…

So, as a writer, how do you stay away from political reality?

Well, Rawson Griggs isn’t running for President as a Republican. But he’s not running as a Democrat either.

So how is he running? Let’s just say he’s looking toward America’s past to pave its future. What came before the tea party?

As for Remy Stanton, my protagonist, well, Remy is just like us. He works a soulless corporate job.

He didn’t expect to find himself in the eye of the hurricane of the most controversial election ever.

Part of Remy, a big part, loves the power and attention that comes with being in Rawson’s campaign. But when he starts to notice a nasty undercurrent, he may have to give it all up to protect the ones he loves. And that might just include an heiress.

The Castle is a thrilled that takes today’s headlines and your expectations, throws them in a blender, and presses puree.

 I hope you enjoy the read. And just remember: Politics is War.

Jason Pinter is the author of the new novel The Castle, as well as the bestselling author of five novels in his Henry Parker series, which have been nominated for the Thriller, Strand Critics, Shamus, Barry and RT Reviewers Choice awards, with over a million copies in print worldwide. He is also the founder and publisher of Polis Books. Visit him at www.JasonPinter.com or follow him at @JasonPinter.

Oline Cogdill
2017-07-30 00:45:00
James Grippando Honored With Harper Lee Award

grippandojames goneagain

James Grippando’s skill with suspenseful plots reached another level in his gripping Gone Again, published in 2016.

In this 13th novel about Miami attorney Jack Swyteck, Grippando led the reader on a twisting tale of grief, obsession, and the disintegration of a family—as I wrote in my review of Gone Again.

“In a career highlighted by a number of superb novels, Gone Again ranks at the top of Grippando’s work,” I wrote.

I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed Gone Again.

Gone Again has been awarded the 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The award was selected by a panel including Deborah Johnson, winner of the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and author of The Secret of Magic; Cassandra King, author of The Same Sweet Girls Guide to Life; Don Noble, host of Alabama Public Radio's book review series as well as host of Bookmark, which airs on Alabama Public Television; and Han Nolan, author of Dancing on the Edge.

In the press release announcing the award, Han Nolan remarked, “It best exemplifies Harper Lee's desire for a work of fiction that illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change. Jack Swyteck is a lawyer's lawyer. He works within the system, relentlessly searching for the truth as he races against time to defend a death row inmate.”

Don Noble added, “If I am ever in legal trouble, there is no lawyer I would rather have than Grippando's Jack Swyteck,” he said. "The man is dedicated to social justice, resourceful and tireless."

Needless to say, Grippando is thrilled. “This is pretty amazing ... and the autographed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird has me over the moon.”

The 2017 prize will be awarded at The University of Alabama School of Law on September 14.

Meanwhile, the best congratulations for Grippando would be to pick up a copy of Gone Again.

In Gone Again, Jack takes on Debra Burgette as a client for Miami’s Freedom Institute. Deborah’s daughter teenage daughter Sashi was murdered about five years before. Ex-con Dylan Reeves is on death row, awaiting execution.

But Debra’s tale isn’t what Jack expects. She wants to stop the execution because Debra maintains that Sashi is still alive.

In my review, I wrote, “Debra’s fanaticism is realistically portrayed and while it is easy to understand her motives Grippando also shows the destructive nature of her fixation. Grippando also gracefully weaves in Jack’s pending fatherhood and his loving relationship with his pregnant wife, Andie, a FBI agent, without losing the story’s suspense.”

Oline Cogdill
2017-08-03 00:55:00
trdy

test

Oline Cogdill
2017-07-26 13:23:32
Fire and Ashes and Arson

vietselaineCR CristianaPecheanu

Fire and Ashes, the latest Angela Richman Death Investigator mystery, is an exploration of a fatal fire. To research this novel, Viets delved into the devastating consequences of junk science and arson investigations.

Fire and Ashes, my latest Angela Richman Death Investigator mystery, is an exploration of a fatal fire. To research this novel, I learned about the devastating consequences of junk science—that's untested science, and it's still used today in some arson investigations. By the way, deliberately set fires are officially "incendiary fires"—arson is the crime.

Like many mystery lovers, I thought I knew the signs of deadly arson fires.

If the investigator found alligator char—large, shiny char blisters on burned wood—the killer had used gasoline to start the fatal fire.

Pour patterns, irregularly shaped patterns on the burned floor, was another sign of spilled gasoline and the crime of arson. So was "crazing," or crazed glass, tiny cracks in glass.

Once the investigators found the signs, they photographed the evidence and arrested the killer.

Wrong. Those are examples of junk science, which has sent innocent people to death row. One was Todd Willingham, a Texas man who got the needle for burning his three children. Willingham was innocent, and his death compounded that family tragedy.

To research Fire and Ashes, I had multiple interviews with a fire investigator in Delray Beach, Florida. He recommended a long session with a textbook, Fire Investigator: Principles and Practice to NFPA 921 and 1033 Fourth Edition. This book is definitely not bedtime reading. NFPA 921's photos of burned bodies will keep you awake nights.

Florida arson expert John Lentini is one investigator who fights to discredit junk science and save the unjustly accused. Remember the Oakland Hills firestorm in October 1991? Reports say that wildfire killed some 25 people, injured 150, and destroyed almost 3,500 homes, condos and apartments. The losses were estimated at a billion and a half dollars.

But some good came out of that epic loss. Lentini was one of the investigators who studied the aftermath of the California wildfire. These experts found crazed glass, pour patterns, and other so-called signs of arson, when they knew the fires could not have been set deliberately. Crazed glass, for instance. Lentini told reporters crazing "used to be evidence of arson. You cannot make crazed glass by heating it rapidly, but you can by cooling it rapidly"—and firefighters' hoses can provide the rapid cooling.

aligator charAs for alligator char, you've seen those large, shiny blisters on the logs in your fireplace—and you sure didn't start that fire with gasoline. And pour patterns? Lots of things can cause those, even improperly applied glue on wall-to-wall carpet.

Why does junk science persist? There aren't enough controlled scientific studies. And some investigators hang onto unproven fire folklore. When they were starting out, they heard the old-timers tell them about pour patterns, crazing and alligator char. Firefighters believed those old smoke eaters knew their craft—their conclusions didn't need to be tested.

Fire and Ashes tackles an incendiary mix: local prejudice and junk science. Death investigator Angela Richman, who works for the medical examiner in wealthy Chouteau County, Missouri, is in charge of the body at a fatal fire. She arrives at an exclusive, gated community as Luther Delor's body is carried out of his burning mansion. Luther is a scandalous 70. The old souse left his socialite wife for a 20-year-old Mexican-American manicurist, Kendra Salvato. Local gossip says the old man gave his pretty young mistress $2 million to wear his ring and she'll get another $2 million to marry him. The community that disapproved of Luther's bed hopping is united against Kendra. She's painted as a gold-digger killer, who set fire to her fiancé.

Angela has to gather the forensic facts during a firestorm of gossip, and hope cold, hard science can save Kendra.

Elaine Viets returns to her hardboiled roots with Brain Storm, the first Angela Richman Death Investigator mystery, which debuted in 2017. Elaine passed the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals. She's written 29 mysteries in three bestselling series. The Art of Murder is her 15th Dead-End Job mystery.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-27 19:08:11

vietselaineCR CristianaPecheanuFire and Ashes, the latest Angela Richman Death Investigator mystery, is an exploration of a fatal fire. To research this novel, Viets delved into the devastating consequences of junk science and arson investigations.

Linda Fairstein on Childhood Reading

fairstein linda

My favorite childhood memories all involve books.

The earliest images I recall are of me, leaning against the pillow in my narrow bed, while my mother sat beside me and read to me. It was the singsong rhythm of poetry that she used to try to lull me to sleep—Robert Louis Stevenson and A.A. Milne being my favorites. I can still recite most of the poems in A Child’s Garden of Verses, which is also the first book I bought for my granddaughter when she was born two years ago.

When I began to read by myself, my mother and I would make trips every other Saturday to the public library in our town. In those days, we were allowed to take out three books at a time. I always made a beeline to my favorite librarian in the children’s section, and when I told her how much I liked Pippi Longstockings or The Secret Garden, I could count on her to put another story to engage me in my hands.

stevenson achildsgardenofversesMy first addictions to series fiction were crime driven—first the Hardy Boys, because I had an older brother who introduced me to them—and then, Nancy Drew. How I loved that teenage sleuth and everything about her—her friends, the roadster, the sage advice about crime-solving, and her crime-riddled town of River Heights.

I can only think of one flaw in my mother’s makeup. She didn’t like to read detective fiction. It was in my teenage years that my father’s taste in literature took over, as he had clearly deposited that gene in my DNA. It was he who put Edgar Allan Poe in my hands, and then, he sat me down with the greatest storyteller—to me—of all times: Arthur Conan Doyle.

I was hooked. There was no turning back. I was a very athletic kid—ballet class and swim competition and bike riding were daily activities. But I had a book in my hand wherever I went, in case there were moments to sit on the sidelines and amuse myself. Then I would somehow maneuver a way to keep a light on late into the night, even when my parents had gone to sleep, to read the mysteries that fueled my imagination.

I still have some of the books I owned as a kid—gifts from my parents on birthdays and holidays—and the pages of each one capture, and hold to this day, a precious memory.

Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney's office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is America's foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives in Manhattan and on Martha's Vineyard.

This “Writers on Reading” essay was originally published in At the Scene enews August 2017 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.

Teri Duerr
2017-07-27 19:42:06

fairstein lindaThe earliest images I recall are of me, leaning against the pillow in my narrow bed, while my mother sat beside me and read to me. It was the singsong rhythm of poetry that she used to try to lull me to sleep.

The Late Show
Craig Sisterson

A quarter century ago, neophyte novelist Michael Connelly introduced himself and dogged LAPD Detective Harry Bosch to the mystery world with The Black Echo. In the years since, Connelly cemented himself as the modern king of California crime, and one of the world’s greatest living mystery writers.

In his 30th novel, Connelly swerves. There’s no Bosch, nor maverick attorney Mickey Haller. Instead, a new hero emerges: Renee Ballard, a paddleboarding Hawaiian who’s been relegated to the midnight shift in Hollywood after a failed sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor. Often flying solo, she’s the detective called in to all manner of overnight cases, big and small, before handing them over to various daytime detectives. Ballard starts cases, rarely finishes them. But when a trans woman is put in a coma and a bar worker is caught up in a nightclub shooting, she finds it hard to let go.

Connelly absolutely nails the tricky balance between familiarity and freshness with The Late Show. For longtime fans, Ballard has some Bosch-like characteristics (trouble with superiors, extremely driven, solving crimes in LA) while being a fascinating, fully formed character all of her own. Ballard is fierce, has a different way of looking at the world, and faces issues as a female detective that haven’t been addressed in other Connelly tales. The Late Show starts well and gets even better as the pages turn, as we learn more about Ballard and her LA world, and are handcuffed by a sublimely wrought crime tale.

A brilliant start to a new series from a true master of the craft.

Teri Duerr
2017-08-07 16:03:40

connelly lateshowThere’s no Bosch, nor maverick attorney Mickey Haller. Instead, a new hero emerges: Renee Ballard, a paddleboarding Hawaiian who’s been relegated to the midnight shift in Hollywood after a failed sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor.

“He Said/She Said” and the Solar Eclipse
Oline H. Cogdill

kellyerin hesaidshesaid
When the total solar eclipse begins around 10 a.m. on August 21, its path will start in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. Along the way, certain areas and towns have been designated by scientists as the best place to view this feat of nature.

In all, 12 states are in the totality path to this point. And places in the totality path are expected to attract up to tens of thousands of people who come to view the eclipse as well as enjoy the many festivals that will be held during the solar event.

Small towns of less than 10,000 may be overrun with more than 50,000 visitors, some of whom may have to stay in hotels two hours away to see this phenomenon. Rural areas with wide-open spaces are the best, such as Marshall, Missouri.

These eclipse chasers plan for years to attend the best viewing spots, spending time charting the eclipse with maps, and visiting forums and social media.

OK, so all this is very interesting, but what does it have to do with mysteries?

A month or so ago, I would have wondered the same thing until I read the brilliant thriller He Said/She Said (Minotar) by Erin Kelly.

These eclipse chasers, who relish “celestial mechanics,” provide the background for this innovative mystery. While Kelly includes plenty of lore about seeing an eclipse, the author also delivers an unusual psychological thriller about a marriage, as well as obsessions, secrets, and how rape is viewed.

At first glance, it would seem that eclipses are about an insular community of people who travel great distances to watch. But He Said/She Said shows that it’s not just a small group but a wide swath of people, some of whom have never seen an eclipse and others who have no interest in the science behind it.

Christopher “Kit” McCall has chased solar eclipses his entire life, and considers “real life as the boring bit between eclipses.” Kit and his girlfriend, Laura Langrishe, are celebrating the 1999 solar eclipse at a festival in Cornwall when they stop the apparent rape of a stranger. The lives of Kit and Laura are entwined for years in the lives of the victim and her abuser.

He Said/She Said alternates between 1999 and 16 years later when Kit and Laura are married and expecting twins. Now another eclipse looms, and the best place to view is the Faroe Islands. Kit will go while Laura stays home because of her advanced pregnancy.

The eclipse is an exciting background to He Said/She Said as Kelly adds enough science and sky lore to make readers want to rush out to get those glasses one is supposed to wear during a viewing. But Kelly never allows the science to overwhelm her unusual thriller.

He Said/She Said is the perfect companion to the 2017 solar eclipse.

Oline Cogdill
2017-08-13 19:29:48
Jack Getze and His Black Kachina
Oline H. Cogdill

getzejack black kachina
Mystery Scene
continues its look at authors’ writing process. Here, Jack Getze discusses how a souvenir led to his novel The Black Kachina, though the process wasn’t smooth.

A former Los Angeles Times reporter, Jack Getze’s news and feature stories have been published in more than 500 newspapers and periodicals. His novels include Big Numbers, Big Money, Big Mojo, and his latest The Black Kachina. His short stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir and Beat to a Pulp.

Chasing the Black Kachina
By Jack Getze
Once in a shop for tourists I was attracted to a bright, stitched emblem of Nataska the Black Ogre, a kachina (spirit) of the Hopi tribe. The horns, his hand saw, his alligator-like mouth, and sharp teeth poked my curiosity.

He was described as The Punisher of Wicked Children; so I hurried to the cashier to make my purchase.

A wonderful story of revenge and justice lurked around such an inspirational character, I decided, and the hunch proved accurate. Others will decide how wonderful it is, but my new thriller from Down & Out Books, The Black Kachina—based on that emblem—hit the market this month.
The only rub? That souvenir shop purchase was 23 years ago—the summer of 1994.

What follows is a nasty tale in bullet form, a warning for newer writers (“If my novel took that long to see daylight, I’d hang myself,”) authors of some experience (“Nice to see another manuscript start out so badly”) and for readers, perhaps a peek behind the creative curtain.

Getze jack
The first part of this tale—say at least the first decade—is not about persistence in the face of obstacles. It’s about me improving my craft. Two million words as a newspaper writer and two published novels in the first person didn’t totally prepare me for telling a third-person tale from multiple points of view.

And that’s my message for other writers here: Sometimes other people are better judges of your strengths and weaknesses.

Listening to your critique group, your agent, or your new, would-be editor is always a solid idea, and sometimes taking their advice to heart is the best thing for you and your story.

Over the course of two decades, at least two dozen people have put their finger in this pie, writers, half a dozen paid editors, two different agents, a New York book editor who showed interest, and finally Down & Out’s copy editor, Chris Rhatigan.

I wrote every single word. I made up each and every character’s crazy actions.

This is my work. But all along the way, I grabbed and held onto bunches of good advice.

Summer 1994: I work on character scenes and a potential outline. I want to write about a guy who dresses up like a scary kachina.

Spring 1998: At Writer’s Retreat Workshop, my outline looks interesting to others, but the opening chapter, not so much. Seems I know very little about writing third-person fiction. Being an ex-newspaper writer had drawbacks. In particular, point of view escapes me. I study published novels.

Spring 2002:
Taking my first version of The Black Kachina to this year’s writers workshop, a New York agent agrees to help me with a chapter-by-chapter rewrite. “Don’t tell anybody,” she says.

Fall 2004:
My agent says the latest version of Black Kachina sucks lemons, do I have “anything else in the drawer.” I send her Big Numbers, my first person story featuring Austin Carr. She likes it, finds a small publisher, and I drop the kachina story for years. (I’m not that guy in the critique group who won’t change novels. Bruce Lee says you must “be like water.”)

Summer 2009: The agent hasn’t sold Austin Carr numbers three and four, nor does she like a much revised Black Kachina. I’ve paid two professional editors to tell me what’s wrong with it and made revisions on their comments. I do notice the story gets better as I follow some of the editors’ advice, but I’ve had it with my agent. The feeling is mutual.

Summer 2012: With more editors, another major revision, the Black Kachina manuscript attracts a new agent. She loves my characters, especially a new one, Air Force Colonel Maggie Black. In fact, the new agent thinks Maggie should be the star. I tell her I’ll add more Maggie but this is not Maggie’s story.

Spring 2014: My rewrite gets a year of rejection, but one editor calls the agent nine months after saying no, tells her he can’t forget Colonel Maggie. He reads the manuscript again and wants to talk to me on the phone. He loves Maggie but thinks she needs to be the star—“it’s her story, her series.” He says he can’t take Black Kachina to his board the way it is, but he’ll work with me if I agree to rewrite Maggie into the main role. This is the first big shot who ever called me, I can tell you, so I say yes and work hard all summer.

Summer 2014: I started making Maggie the star and realized the truth within one week. It is her story. It always was her story. She designed and then loses a secret weapon. She has to get it back. If I could slap my forehead here, I would. Why was I so stubborn? The answer is too much research into Cahuilla tribes.

Fall 2014: My agent forwards a brief rejection of my rewrite from the New York editor. My agent can’t understand, calls it mysterious because she loves the new draft and the editor had agreed to work with us. Her email sent me to the shrink. “I can’t take it!”

Fall 2014: Weeks later, the editor gets fired. That’s the solution to our mystery, my agent says. Maybe she was trying to make me feel better. I don’t know. But I’m glad he didn’t sign me and then get fired. My agent keeps shopping Black Kachina.

Fall 2016: Over dinner and maybe a few drinks, I previously wowed my Austin Carr publisher Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books with tales of The Black Kachina and a stolen missile. I mail him the book and he thinks it’s great. Especially Colonel Maggie.

August 2017: The Black Kachina—and a Colonel Maggie series—sees print.

Oline Cogdill
2017-08-17 20:30:00
Brenda Blethyn as Vera
Oline H. Cogdill

vera series 7 Brenda Blethyn Kenny Doughty
So many people help make the mystery genre what it is today—authors, editors, publishers, a few critics.

Add to that list those actors, directors, and more who bring the mystery genre to the screen.

One of those actors is Brenda Blethyn, the Academy Award and Emmy nominated, Golden Globe winning actress who stars as DCI Vera Stanhope in the series Vera, based on Ann Cleeves’ novels.

So it makes perfect sense that Blethyn is being honored with the Poirot Award at Malice Domestic 30, which will be held April 27 - 29, 2018.

I love the TV series Vera, not only because I am fan of Cleeves’ novels but also because of Blethyn.

The actress so winningly brings to life this cantankerous but brilliant detective who solves unthinkable crimes in northeast England.

veraseason7 Brenda Blethyn
Blethyn gets to the heart of Vera, showing, of course, her crusty side but also her vulnerability.

Vera thinks like no other detective she works with, and she wants to impart this knowledge to her young colleague DS Aiden Healy (well played by Kenny Doughty) who joined the series in the fifth season.

The announcement of the Poirot Award couldn’t be more timely as the seventh season of Vera has just been released on Acorn TV.

The four episodes that comprise Vera’s seventh season are 90 minutes each, and each is a standout, proving why the series is one of Britain’s most popular detective dramas.

The series can be viewed at Acorn. Or you can buy the DVD at Acorn.

Here’s a synopsis of the four episodes:

Natural Selection: Vera investigates a wildlife ranger’s death, taking the detective to a remote island off the coast of Northumberland.

Dark Angel: Vera looks at an old case to find out who killed a drug addict.

Broken Promise: Vera’s latest case is finding out if a promising university student who fell to his death in suspicious circumstances was murdered.

The Blanket Mire: This may be my favorite of the four as Vera looks into the death of a teenager, whose body was found buried on the moors. Vera doesn’t just accept the findings of the original investigation as she delves into the victim’s secret life.

PHOTOS: Top, Kenny Doughty and Brenda Blethyn. Bottom, Brenda Blethyn. Photos courtesy Acorn TV.


Oline Cogdill
2017-08-19 21:37:10
New Mystery Destination: Cottonwood, California
Oline H. Cogdill

burleyjohn quietchild
Welcome to Cottonwood, California.

Until last month, I had never heard of Cottonwood.

That’s no offense to the good people of the town of about 3,300, located in Shasta County in the northern part of California.

I’m from a small town, and doubt many people have heard of my hometown of Charleston, Missouri. Or the nearby towns of Bertrand, East Prairie, or Wyatt in Southeast Missouri, nicknamed The Bootheel.

For history buffs, Cottonwood was a stagecoach town with a settlement established in 1849. The first post office opened in 1852.

In 1997 the movie Almost Heroes was filmed there. The movie starred Matthew Perry and Chris Farley; it was Farley’s last film.

And now Cotttonwood, California, makes an appearance in two excellent mystery novels—The Quiet Child by John Burley and Y Is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton.

Burley sets The Quiet Child in 1954, and Cottonwood becomes a metaphor for fear.

Here, the residents of Cottonwood are uncomfortable in the presence of six-year-old Danny McCray, who has “elective mutism.” He doesn’t speak, ever, and the townspeople blame Danny for the town’s economic decline and any of the residents’ suffering. To them, Danny is “a ghost child, a quiet child the townspeople referred only to in whispers.”

Then Danny is kidnapped along with his ten-year-old brother, Sean, who is the only person who seems to truly love Danny. The kidnapping—and the search—launches the tight, gripping plot of The Quiet Child. People care about Sean but few want Danny found.

graftonsue yforyesterday
Burley keeps the suspense high and the story realistic as he looks at family relationships, unconditional love, and fear in The Quiet Child.

Kinsey Millhone makes a trek to Cottonwood, during the course of an investigation in Sue Grafton’s Y Is for Yesterday.

Kinsey remembers as a child reading about naturally occurring asphalt that was discovered near Cottonwood. It is a memory of Kinsey’s childhood as she read about it in an old encyclopedia that her Aunt Gin had bought.

Y Is for Yesterday is, of course, the second to last Kinsey novel that Grafton has planned. Regardless of the plot, many of us look forward to each Grafton novel because we just want to know what Kinsey’s been up to.

And Grafton is ending her series on a high note with the outstanding Y Is for Yesterday.

Oline Cogdill
2017-08-23 22:45:00
Warren Adler on Reading

adler warren

It is my belief that fiction provides the soul of education and allows us to attain a deep understanding of what makes us human.

My childhood love for reading has deeply influenced the course of my life, starting at a very young age when my parents bought me a set of books called My Book House. It was a beautifully produced 12-volume collection that first introduced me to nursery rhymes, and as I grew older, to fairy tales and eventually Shakespeare. I loved those books, but unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to the original set my parents had given me.

mybookhouseseriesLuckily, one day during my adulthood, I was browsing through Marshall Field’s in Chicago when much to my amazement, I found My Book House. I was so excited to rediscover the books that I immediately purchased them, allowing me to share a fragment of my childhood with my children. I loved those books so much and I’ll bet the barn that they had a profound influence on my career choice to become a novelist.

I also fondly recall the moment I entered the hushed, sacred precinct of the Brownsville Children's Library in Brooklyn where I grew up in the mid-1930s. Ever since then, I’ve been a passionate advocate for public libraries. My most profoundly joyous memory is walking through the crowded, noisy, aroma-filled atmosphere of Sutter Avenue, between rows of pushcarts selling anything edible and wearable, on my way to that vine-covered magic castle of books. It was like crossing a moat from the reality of a contemporary world of struggle and strife, to a paradise of storytelling, which opened infinite possibilities and aspirations in a young boy confronting a strange and scary future.

Most delectable was the homeward journey, back over the same route, but this time heavy with the anticipation of reading the books I was carrying in my arms. I think I cleared the library shelves and read every book of Bomba the Jungle Boy, The Hardy Boys, and Allies Boys. I lived with the illusion of stamped library cards piling up, until I had read every book designated for my age group. I think I got pretty close.

My love affair with reading inspired my dream to become a novelist by the time I was 15. After high school, I went to New York University and pursued a degree in English Literature, where I was introduced to the roster of great American novelists, becoming bewitched by the works of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald. My freshman English professor, Dr. Don Wolfe, inspired me, and I later went on to study creative writing with him at the New School, along with Mario Puzo and William Styron. Throughout the years I’ve had many careers, but even when I was working a million jobs to make ends meet, I always made time to write and frequent the library—I could not stop doing either.

adler undertowI didn’t end up publishing my first novel until I was 45, when luck and hard work finally came together. After enduring a seamless series of rejection, a brilliant man walked into the advertising agency I was running at the time and he asked me if I could promote his books. He then asked me what my fee would be. I was intrigued, and with careful consideration, I told him that if he could get his publisher (Whitmore Publishing Company) to consider my first novel, there would be no fee. And that’s how I published my then titled novel Undertow.

It is my belief that fiction provides the soul of education and allows us to attain a deep understanding of what makes us human. Life, past and present, is a story, our story, and it springs from the imagination of those who have dug deeply into this mysterious well of truth to speak to us, inform us of the joys, perils, and insights of the human experience.

As a writer of the imagination and a reader of works of the imagination, I believe it has given me insight, understanding, and greater comprehension of the human condition on all levels. It has taken me out of the living moment into the mind and motivation of others, both past and present, and showed me a path to empathy and potential wisdom. Perhaps, I like to think so.

Warren Adler is the bestselling author of 50+ novels, hundreds of short stories, plays and essays including The War of the Roses, Private Lies, and Random Hearts (which was also a hit movie).

This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" enews September 2017 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.

Teri Duerr
2017-08-22 18:25:20
Houston Bookstores vs. Harvey
Oline H. Cogdill

houstonbythebook
The heartbreaking news and photographs show the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Houston and the surrounding areas.

But the news and photos also show us the spirit of people, of complete strangers coming to the aid of another. A truck driver rescued. People carrying what means the most to them—their children and pets. Volunteers from across the country who want to help.

So most people might think that reading a book is the last thing on anyone’s mind. A novel pales next to having your home and most precious possessions underwater.

But Houston bookstores also are proving that they are more than a place to buy a book, but are vital parts of their community.

Many of Houston’s bookstores seemed to have had little damage during Harvey, but, of course, are closed and have canceled events.

But these stores want to reach out to offer a bit of refuge.

That’s because brick and mortar stores do what online shopping cannot—care about the community and the residents. People aren’t just faceless customers but friends and neighbors.

McKenna Jordan, owner of Murder by the Book in Houston, reported on the store’s Facebook page that it “has a few damp places where water came in, but it is minimal compared to what we expected.”

On Monday the store opened, not to sell books but to offer a bit of comfort.

Murder by the Book, at top, offered free coffee, cookies, charging stations, Wi-Fi, and restrooms to anyone who came by. Free books also were available.

“No need to buy anything. Come visit, let us know you're OK, and take shelter from the storm. We'll be doing the same thing all week for those who can't make it,” Jordan wrote on Facebook. “Please pass this along for those who have lost electricity, or who just need a break from sitting home in the rain.”

The homes of all Murder by the Book staff are dry and have power, Jordan reported. “We're, of course, all still watching the weather, and have a few rough days ahead, but so far we feel very fortunate. Stay safe, be kind, and we hope to see you tomorrow." Of course, Jordan stressed that no one should venture out unless it is safe.

Jack Reacher also will be on hand to greet people at Murder by the Book. No, not the character in the novels, but Jordan’s dog, who was named after Lee Child’s character.

“Those who came in were SO appreciative of the coffee and being able to get out of their houses. We've all been feeling a lot of cabin fever. I expect for us to have many more in [rest of the week]. So many people are still unable to leave their immediate area,” Jordan wrote in an email to Mystery Scene.

Murder by the Book still has on its calendar appearances by Louise Penny, Tess Gerritsen, and Craig Johnson.

Book industry newsletter Shelf Awareness reported that Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston canceled its “signature poetry event of the year.” But the store’s Facebook page said, “We stopped by the shop, and all is well. We are very lucky. We continue to keep our bookselling friends and community in our thoughts and hearts.”

Before Harvey, the Galveston Bookshop in Galveston cleared its lower shelves of books and canceled upcoming events. According to Shelf Awareness, the store was “dry, undamaged as of Saturday afternoon.”

Brazos Bookstore in Houston also canceled its events, including Customer Appreciation Day. The store stated on Facebook that it “might have to retitle [the event] Hurricane Appreciation Day.” September author events remain on Brazos’ schedule, including Attica Locke’s signing for Bluebird, Bluebird, scheduled for September 13.

Katy Budget Books in Houston reported on Facebook that the store will make its decision day by day whether to remain closed.

Richard Deupree, manager of Katy Budget Books, told Shelf Awareness in an interview that “A crisis like this brings out the best in people. Utility linemen working to restore power in blistering winds and driving rain, risking their lives so others will be more comfortable. People from Louisiana (they call themselves the Cajun Navy) working their way to Houston as we speak, with small boats in tow to help with search and rescue. Neighbors helping neighbors...

“Ironic is it not: out of catastrophe comes unity."

Photo: Murder by the Book montage courtesy McKenna Jordan.

Oline Cogdill
2017-08-28 23:17:27
The Freddie Is for Writers
Oline H. Cogdill

sleuthfestFreddieAward
Sleuthfest
, which is sponsored by the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America, has earned its reputation as being one of the best conferences for writers. Panels about the craft of writing and publishing give a boost to would-be writers. Plus, writers have the chance to talk with agents and editors.

The 24th Sleuthfest will be held March 1-4, 2018, at Embassy Suites, 661 NW 53rd St., Boca Raton.

And now is the time to polish those words of wisdom and enter the 2017 Freddie Award for Writing Excellence.

The Freddie Award is accepting submissions now through October 15 in two categories, mystery and thriller. This contest is a rare opportunity for unpublished writers. All entrants will receive feedback on their unpublished mystery or thriller manuscript: the judges' score sheet critiques of their writing.

A free three-day registration for the 2019 Sleuthfest is one of the prizes that come with the award.

The top five entrants in the Freddie Award Mystery and Thriller categories will be read by an acquiring agent or editor. All 10 finalists will be introduced to the editors during a special ceremony at SleuthFest 2018 and the winners will be announced at the same ceremony.

In addition to the three-day early registration, the top mystery and thriller winners will also receive a crystal plaque.

The contest fee is $25 for MWA members, $30 for nonmembers. You do NOT need to be an MWA member to enter.

For details go to http://mwaflorida.org/ and click on Contest for rules, entry forms, and more.

The Sleuthfest keynote speaker will be Andrew Gross and the Forensic Guest of Honor is Katherine Ramsland.

Guest Authors who will teach workshops will include Hallie Ephron, Kristy Montee (PJ Parrish), Hank Phillippi Ryan, and James R. Benn. Neil Nyren of G.P. Putnam's Sons returns as the Editor in Chief.

Yes, it’s not even Halloween yet, so why should we worry about March?

Because this is the time to save on registration.

An early bird rate of $360 for the Friday through Sunday conference and an $85 for the 3rd Degree Thursday on March 1 will be honored through September 30. To register, visit http://www.sleuthfest.com or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Oline Cogdill
2017-09-01 01:10:00
Bluebird, Bluebird

Racial injustices from the past alongside the continuing present-day divide set the scene for Attica Locke's new novel set in East Texas.

Darren Matthews is a Texas Ranger, one of those near-mythical law enforcement officers of the Lone Star State who are the stuff of movie heroes. But being a black man having grown up in East Texas, he's keenly aware of how things work when it comes to interactions between the police and the black community.

On suspension and facing possible termination, Darren finds himself nagged by family members to quit his job and go into the legal field. His estranged wife has kicked him out and he's drinking just a bit too much, but when he's offered a temporary reprieve from his suspension to look into two murders, both a week apart, in barely-a-dot-on-the-map Lark, Texas, he ends up finding a whole lot more than he expected.

The murders of a black man and a white woman look to be connected, but how exactly seems unclear. Matthews soons finds that while they briefly spoke to one another, they didn't really know each other. What was the man doing in Lark, and is there a connection to drugs and the white supremacist gang of crooks that inhabit the town?

The story also looks at the interwined lives of the townspeople of Lark. While they aren't really all that friendly, they just can't seem to stay away from each other. Ranger Matthews receives little help from the locals. The sheriff is more interested in currying favor with the town's bigwig than solving the murder of a black man, and the local food shack owner Geneva Sweet, who clearly knows something, is keeping things close to the vest and doesn't trust Matthews despite their shared background.

The twists and turns of the narrative will keep readers on edge right through the fiery hail of gunfire climax. There is a resolution to the murders, but Locke wisely leaves the underlying reasons behind them unresolved, just as they so often are in real life. Despite an unsatisfying kind of cliffhanger epilogue, Bluebird, Bluebird sharply defines on man's resolve to solve a crime, despite his own doubts about his past, his future, and those friends and foes standing in his way as he looks for answers on all fronts. Fueled by booze, barbecue, and the music of the blues, Bluebird, Bluebird is an instantly gripping thriller.

Teri Duerr
2017-08-29 18:54:04
Bluebird, Bluebird
Jay Roberts

Racial injustices from the past alongside the continuing present-day divide set the scene for Attica Locke's new novel set in East Texas.

Darren Matthews is a Texas Ranger, one of those near-mythical law enforcement officers of the Lone Star State who are the stuff of movie heroes. But being a black man having grown up in East Texas, he's keenly aware of how things work when it comes to interactions between the police and the black community.

On suspension and facing possible termination, Darren finds himself nagged by family members to quit his job and go into the legal field. His estranged wife has kicked him out and he's drinking just a bit too much, but when he's offered a temporary reprieve from his suspension to look into two murders, both a week apart, in barely-a-dot-on-the-map Lark, Texas, he ends up finding a whole lot more than he expected.

The murders of a black man and a white woman look to be connected, but how exactly seems unclear. Matthews soons finds that while they briefly spoke to one another, they didn't really know each other. What was the man doing in Lark, and is there a connection to drugs and the white supremacist gang of crooks that inhabit the town?

The story also looks at the interwined lives of the townspeople of Lark. While they aren't really all that friendly, they just can't seem to stay away from each other. Ranger Matthews receives little help from the locals. The sheriff is more interested in currying favor with the town's bigwig than solving the murder of a black man, and the local food shack owner Geneva Sweet, who clearly knows something, is keeping things close to the vest and doesn't trust Matthews despite their shared background.

The twists and turns of the narrative will keep readers on edge right through the fiery hail of gunfire climax. There is a resolution to the murders, but Locke wisely leaves the underlying reasons behind them unresolved, just as they so often are in real life. Despite an unsatisfying kind of cliffhanger epilogue, Bluebird, Bluebird sharply defines on man's resolve to solve a crime, despite his own doubts about his past, his future, and those friends and foes standing in his way as he looks for answers on all fronts. Fueled by booze, barbecue, and the music of the blues, Bluebird, Bluebird is an instantly gripping thriller.

Teri Duerr
2017-08-29 19:02:51

locke bluebirdbluebirdRacial injustices from the past alongside the continuing present-day divide set the scene for Attica Locke's new novel set in East Texas.