Post-apocalyptic tales are all the rage these days—really, when did we get to be such pessimists?— but almost all of them take the story up after disaster hits. Ben H. Winters has struck a chord with his Last Policeman novels by considering how the human race would react if we all knew well in advance the end was coming. (Here’s a hint: not well.) Police detective Hank Palace is one of the few who carry on, and his doomed but admirable efforts has made for some thoughtprovoking, original crime fiction. Oline Cogdill talks to the author in this issue.
Paul Doiron’s Maine Game Warden Mike Bowden is living in a more recognizable present and following a classic story arc—that of the hero’s journey. The hurdles this likable young man faces are all too common and life-destroying—the psychic damage from an abusive father—and the outcome is still to be determined. Lynn Kaczmarek is rooting for Mike, as are a rapidly growing number of readers. She chats with Paul Doiron in this issue.
Elmore Leonard provided the creative spark for Justified, the violent, whip-smart, often darkly funny TV series about US Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens. But showrunner Graham Yost and his writers have spun an Appalachian outlaw opera out of Leonard’s original tune and allowed an entire community to take the stage and tell their tales of bad luck, broken hearts, and hard times. Leonard admired the show’s writing so much that he incorporated elements of it into his last novel, Raylan. If you haven’t ever watched Justified, though, do start from the beginning. This is ambitious, long-term storytelling; many of the payoffs are cumulative.
Also in this issue, Ed Gorman chats with Katherine Hall Page, who has just published her first collection of short stories, Small Plates, most featuring her popular character Faith Fairchild, a caterer, New England minister’s wife, and occasional sleuth.
Sarah Weinman, editor of the excellent anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense, discusses the work of Dorothy Salisbury Davis in this issue. She has described the now 98-year-old author:
[Dorothy Salisbury] is part of a lost generation of female suspense writers whose heyday spanned from World War II through the mid-1970s. They did not shy away from murder or squeamish subjects, but also did not, unlike their male counterparts like Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, and Dashiell Hammett, necessarily revel in violence and the sentimentality of the noble, lone wolf detective or the unflinching doom of the noir anti-hero. They wrote what they felt, how they lived, or what they observed in other people, in the home, in small towns, in the most secretive places.
Happily, Dorothy Salisbury Davis’ novels are available once again in print and digital editions from Open Road Media.
In this issue, Michael Mallory offers an appreciation of historical mystery writer Lillian de la Torre, who set the 18th-century literary figure Dr. Samuel Johnson and his Boswell to detecting in a popular series of short stories. Now out of print, de la Torre’s wit and scholarship makes these delightful stories ripe for reissue. Any takers out there? Have a great summer and we’ll see you again in September!