What the Fly Saw
Vanessa Orr

When funeral director Kevin Novak is found dead with an arrow in his chest, it’s up to detective Hannah McCabe and her partner Mike Baxter to figure out who killed the churchgoing husband and father. What makes solving this case difficult is that McCabe is distracted by a number of other issues—and unfortunately, so is the reader.

There is a lot going on in this book, and at times, the murder seems to get lost in the shuffle. There are numerous characters and it takes a lot of effort to keep everyone’s story lines straight. There is the minister of a megachurch, a psychiatrist, a medium, the family members of the victim, an aging heiress and her niece, a politician with a grudge, “space zombies” on drugs, a serial murderer, and McCabe’s earthquake-stranded brother and sister-in-law, among others. Add to this that the story is set in a parallel universe in the near future and it becomes less about the murder, and more about, well, everything else. This is the second police procedural in the series, and Frankie Bailey may be relying on the fact that readers of the first book will know characters’ backstories.

McCabe is a likable protagonist, and when Bailey spends the time developing her and certain other characters, like octogenarian Olive Cooper and medium Luanne Woodward, the story is at its strongest. The end of the book does solve Kevin’s murder, while it sets the stage for another book that will need to answer a number of questions that are raised in the final pages. Hopefully, that book will be a more concise affair.

Teri Duerr
2015-05-24 03:32:48
The Ice Queen
Oline H. Cogdill

Fairy tales are deconstructed and given a contemporary reboot in Nele Neuhaus’ intriguing series. The German author keeps the grim spirit of traditional fairy tales in her books, while reimagining them as solid police procedurals that also provide an insight into Germany’s history. The Ice Queen, Neuhaus’ third thriller to be published in the US following Bad Wolf and Snow White Must Die, is a complex story with more vile villains than Hans Christian Andersen ever imagined.

Detective Inspector Pia Kirchhoff and Superintendent Oliver von Bodenstein of the Hofheim Regional Criminal Police in Hesse, Germany, are investigating the shooting murder of David Goldberg, a former White House advisor and revered member of the Frankfurt Jewish community. The elderly Goldberg claimed to be a Holocaust survivor, but an autopsy reveals not a concentration camp tattoo, but rather one common among members of Hitler’s Waffen-SS. Days later, an elderly man and woman are found murdered in separate houses and a massive collection of Nazi memorabilia is found in one of the basements.

The detectives find two links among the three victims: the number 11645 is found scrawled at each murder scene, and each victim was a friend of the former Baroness of Zeydlitz-Lauenburg, the imposing Vera Kaltensee. As the story unfolds, the atrocities of Hitler’s regime and its effect on the Kaltensee family are chillingly explored.

Neuhaus expertly laces The Ice Queen with myriad clues, but most readers won’t put them together until the ingenious denouement. As international crime fiction continues to gain popularity with US readers, Neuhaus should find herself quickly at the top of to-read lists on this side of the Atlantic.

Teri Duerr
2015-05-24 03:37:22
Pleasantville
Robin Agnew

This novel is the second in Attica Locke’s Jay Porter series after Black Water Rising, though the two books are set 15 years apart, with this latest installment set in Houston, Texas, in 1996. Pleasantville is a solidly middle-class black neighborhood in Houston. Jay Porter, lawyer, recent widower, and father of two, is losing hope in a struggle over a giant lawsuit against a chemical company responsible for a lot of illness throughout Pleasantville (think Erin Brockovich). While Locke doesn’t specifically say it, Porter’s own wife died of cancer likely caused by the chemical company.

As the book opens, two key things happen: a young girl, apparently a campaign worker, disappears; and Jay’s office is burglarized. When the girl turns up dead, Neal Hathorne, the nephew of a high-profile politician in the midst of a mayoral race, is accused, and Jay is asked to defend him. Jay has little criminal law experience and feels over his head in the case, but the defendant’s powerful grandfather throws a high-powered legal team behind him, while Jay assembles his own: Lonnie, a down-and-out reporter, and Rolly, a tattooed, long-haired enforcer. Both are loyal to Jay without question.

Meanwhile, Jay’s clients in his environmental lawsuit begin to drop out, telling him they plan to leave and go with another lawyer. Jay’s discovery of the missing client files taken during the burglary suddenly makes sense.

Jay maneuvers his way through a morass that includes grief for his wife, life as a single father, the possibility of losing his business, and his work on a trial where he’s overwhelmed. On top of this, Locke places a dense layer of local and national politics, race, money, and power. The mix, like Jay’s legal case, is all a bit much. There was a good story underneath the details of political machinations and chemical plant lawsuit details, but the emotional heft of what Locke is trying to say is obscured by it all.

I was engaged by Jay and his family, and enjoyed Lonnie and Rolly, but there’s so much “story” that I couldn’t quite get a full grasp on any of the characters. I wanted to like this book much, much more than I actually did. When it finally arrived, the resolution was a good one, though its strength was lessened by an unnecessary epilogue. Too much is sometimes, simply, too much.

Teri Duerr
2015-05-24 03:43:12
Impasse
Hank Wagner

Since losing his high-profile job as a prosecuting attorney as a result of a spectacular miscalculation, Stuart Stark has been too afraid of failure to take any sort of risk. His partner Clay Buchanan and Stu’s wife Katherine find it irksome, as both secretly feel that Stu’s “by the book” attitude might be depriving them of a better life—without him.

Feeling the need to shake things up, Stu accepts an unusual birthday present from Clay: a one-week “adventure vacation” in Alaska. Stu is fairly optimistic about it until he realizes he’s been played for the fool yet again—and that no one is coming back for him. Utterly lost and alone in the wilderness, without adequate clothing or supplies, Stu finds himself in a desperate struggle for survival. He’s going to need to kick things up several notches in order to live through the ordeal, and to put what remains of his old life in order.

A tale of betrayal and revenge, Impasse has been rightfully compared to The Count of Monte Cristo, as it deals with the themes of transformation and vengeance. Impasse also has an enjoyable streak of black comedy. Buckingham brings a generous amount of humor to the table, making Stu a likable, if hapless, everyman. What’s fascinating about the story and about the character is that despite every Jack London, “To Build a Fire”-type moment Stu endures in the wilderness, he continues to lack the killer instinct he ultimately needs to triumph. It’s the journey to discover and unleash that instinct inside him that drives Impasse, and leads to its most satisfying moments.

Teri Duerr
2015-05-24 03:48:04
Arthur Ellis, Petrona Winners

humphreys Plague
Two awards for mystery fiction have recently been announced—one from Canada and one from England.

The 2015 Arthur Ellis Award Winners for Crime Writing in Canada were announced on May 28 in Toronto by the Crime Writers of Canada.

Best Novel
Plague by C.C. Humphreys (Doubleday Canada)

Best First Novel
Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows (Dundurn Press)

Best Novella
A Knock on the Door by Jas. R. Petrin (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine)

Best Short Story
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart)

Best Book in French
Bondrée by Andrée Michaud (Editions Québec Amérique)

Best Juvenile/YA
Dead Man's Switch by Sigmund Brouwer (Harvest House)

Best Nonfiction
The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray (HarperCollins)

burrows siegeofbitterns
Unhanged Arthur (for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel)

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild

2015 Derrick Murdoch Award Winner
Sylvia McConnell—for her belief in the value of Canadians telling Canadian stories, for her encouragement of new Canadian authors, and for her recognition of talent with staying power.

Crime Writers of Canada was founded in 1982 as a professional organization designed to raise the profile of Canadian crime writers from coast to coast. Members include authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and literary agents as well as many developing authors.
Past winners of the Arthur have included Howard Engel, Eric Wright, Peter Robinson, Louise Penny, Giles Blunt, and Barbara Fradkin.

For more info about the Arthur Ellis Awards or for contact information about the winners, contact Arthur Ellis Awards Administrator Alison Bruce at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sigurdardóttir Wins Best Scandinavian Crime Novel
Sigurdardóttir silenceofthesea
The Silence of the Sea
by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir has won the 2015 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. The novel, which will be published in the U.S. by Minotaur in February 2016, is the latest in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series.

According to its website, the Petrona Award was established to celebrate the work of Maxine Clarke, one of the first online crime fiction reviewers and bloggers, who died in December 2012. Clarke’s online persona and blog was called Petrona. She was passionate about translated crime fiction but in particular that from the Scandinavian countries.

The Petrona trophy was presented to Sigurdardóttir during CrimeFest in Bristol, England, by Maj Sjöwall, co-author with the late Per Wahlöö of the Martin Beck series, the touchstone for modern Scandinavian crime fiction.

Oline Cogdill
2015-05-30 00:25:28
Studying Film Noir


Armored Car Robbery 1950
By Oline H. Cogdill

OK, I think it is time to go back to school. And this is one summer school I am looking forward to—a multimedia investigation and celebration of film noir.

Canvas Network is offering a nine-week course in film history called “The Case of Film Noir,” exploring the means, motives, and opportunities that made these hard-boiled crime dramas, arguably their greatest contribution to American culture.

And the course is as flexible as it can be as far as time and studies.

The course will run concurrently with the Turner Classic Movies "Summer of Darkness” programming event, airing 24 hours of films noir every Friday in June and July 2015.

The network is calling it “the deepest catalog of film noir ever presented by the network (and perhaps any network), and provides an unprecedented opportunity for those interested in learning more to watch over 100 classic movies as they investigate ‘The Case of Film Noir’.”

“Students” will be able to share thoughts online and test movie knowledge with a worldwide community of film noir fans.

Some of the topics will include:
Film Noir and Its Influences
Film Noir in the Studio System
Film Noir Themes and Characters
Film Noir in the Postwar Period

The class will run from June 1 through August 4 and enrollment is free.

To register, follow the instructions here: https://www.canvas.net/browse/bsu/tcm/courses/film-noir.

See you in class.

Oline Cogdill
2015-05-30 21:10:00
Scribe Award Nominees

faust christa
When I was a young reader, I loved those “novels” that were based on TV series and movies. Frankly, I just read anything I could get my hands on.

I probably bought every “novel” based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and others.

So the fact that awards are given out for the best media-tie-in writers was a revelation to me.

So here is a salute to these writers who keep the stories alive.

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers has announced the Scribe Award Nominees for 2015 for works published during 2014.  

The Scribe Awards honor licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in other formats and cross all genres. Tie-in works run the gamut from westerns to mysteries to procedurals, from science fiction to fantasy to horror, from action and adventure to superheroes. Gunsmoke, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, Star Trek, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Underworld, Man from U.N.C.L.E., Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, these represent just a few.

The Scribe Award winners will be announced at ComicCon San Diego in July. The exact day, time and location of the Scribes Panel including the award ceremony will be announced closer to ComicCon.

Naturally there are several mystery writers among the nominees such as Max Allan Collins, Andrew Kaplan, Don Bain, and Christa Faust.


Mystery Scene congratulates the following nominees:

BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL – GENERAL
24: Deadline by James Swallow
Murder She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood by Don Bain
Mike Hammer: King of the Weeds by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Homeland: Saul’s Game by Andrew Kaplan
The Killing: Uncommon Denominator by Karen Dionne

BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL – SPECULATIVE
Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R. A. DeCandido
Grimm: Chopping Block by John Passarella
Star Trek: Disavowed by David Mack
Star Trek: Foul Deeds Will Rise by Greg Cox
Grimm: The Killing Time by Tim Waggoner
Pathfinder: The Redemption Engine by James Sutter
Fringe: Sins of the Father by Christa Faust, at left

ADAPTED NOVEL – GENERAL AND SPECULATIVE
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Alex Irvine
Noah by Mark Morris
War of the Worlds: Goliath by Adam Whitlach

YOUNG ADULT – ALL GENRES, ORIGINAL AND ADAPTED
Spirit Animals: Blood Ties by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
Battletech: The Nellus Academy Incident by Jennifer Brozak
Penguins of Madagascar by Tracey West

SHORT STORIES
Pathfinder: Hunter's Folly by Josh Vogt
Mike Hammer: It's in the Book by Max Collins and Mickey Spillane
Stargate: Perceptions by Diana Botsford
Pathfinder: Queen Sacrifice by Steven Savile
Tales of Valdemar: Written in the Wind by Jennifer Brozek

AUDIO
Dark Shadows: The Darkest Shadow by Nev Fountain
Dark Shadows: The Devil Cat by Mark Thomas Passmore
Blake’s 7: Fortuitis by George Mann
Doctor Who: Iterations of I by John Dorney
Pathfinder Legends: The Skinsaw Murders by Cavan Scott

 

Photo: Christa Faust

Oline Cogdill
2015-06-02 21:35:00
What's in a Title?

brennancompulsion
levinmeyer compulsion
By Oline H. Cogdill

Book titles do not carry a copyright. So through the years, several totally different books may have the same title.

I remember one week when the newspaper books editor and I realized that we had scheduled to run two books—one nonfiction, one fiction—each with the same title. It can get confusing to readers, especially when the books come out at the same time.

But lately, I have encountered several mysteries that have the same title. Just shows that great minds think alike.

In April, Allison Brennan’s novel Compulsion was published by Minotaur. Also in April, Compulsion by the late Meyer Levin, with an introduction by Gabriel Levin and a foreword by Marcia Clark, was re-released by Fig Tree Books.

Brennan’s Compulsion continues her New York Times best-selling series about investigative reporter Maxine Revere.

According to the publisher, Maxine believes that the five New York City murders for which Adam Bachman is being tried are just part of his killing spree. In probing the disappearance of a retired couple who vanished the prior summer, she uncovers striking similarities in the crimes and begins to believe that Bachman wasn't working alone.

Levin’s Compulsion is a classic thriller that reintroduces the fictionalized case of Leopold and Loeb—once considered the "crime of the century"—to a new generation.

boltonsharon littelblacklies
blocksandra littleblacklies
Levin’s Compulsion takes place in 1920s Chicago and is about Judd Steiner and Artie Straus, two wealthy, intelligent young men who are obsessed with Nietzsche’s idea of the superhuman. They decide to prove that they are above the laws of man by arbitrarily picking and murdering a neighborhood boy. Long before Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Levin’s Compulsion was considered the first nonfiction novel when it was originally published in 1956.

Little Black Lies is the name of the debut novel of Sandra Block, published by Grand Central Publishing in February.

Little Black Lies also is the title of the novel from Sharon Bolton, published by Minotaur in May.

How different are these two novels?

Block’s Little Black Lies is about Zoe Goldman, a psychiatry resident at a Buffalo, New York hospital. When she was four years old, Zoe was adopted by a loving couple after she was rescued from a fire in which her mother died. Her nightmares about that fire lasted for years but eventually stopped when she was in high school. But now the dreams have returned and neither she nor her therapist understand why. In my review of Little Black Lies, I stated the novel also works as “a heartfelt story about families and how secrets can both pull people apart or keep them safe.”

My review also said, “Little Black Lies delivers an intriguing look at how one’s subconscious can propel a person’s actions as they come to grips with reality. Block, a neurologist, shows the inner workings of a hospital. The camaraderie between Zoe and her colleagues is realistically portrayed. The serious plot gets an extra boost from a soupçon of humor and Zoe’s multilayered personality.”

Bolton’s Little Black Lies also contains an intriguing story. The British author sets her Little Black Lies in the Falkland Islands, where a child has gone missing. This is almost unheard of in the small and isolated community of Stanley. At first the treacherous landscape is blamed.

But when more children go missing, the villagers must admit that these disappearances are no accident. The novel works as a look at how a small community deals with violence in its midst as neighbor turns on neighbor. In this environment, secrets can be lethal.

Bolton, who also writes as S.J. Bolton, has won the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the ITW Thriller Award and has been nominated for the CWA Gold Dagger and Barry Award.

All four novels are excellent. And yeah, it is hard to keep the titles straight. Ironically, my review of Little Black Lies recently was published in a newspaper and the wrong author was credited with the Little Black Lies that I reviewed.

I say, read them all.

Oline Cogdill
2015-06-06 15:00:32
Martin Edwards on Golden Age Mysteries

edwards martinMuch as I love contemporary crime fiction – after all, that’s what I write! – lately, I’ve been bingeing on Golden Age detective stories. I suppose there are three reasons for this.

First, I’m at the stage of planning my next novel, and rather than read what my peers are writing, just for the moment it makes sense to delve back into past crimes. Another factor is my work as series consultant for the British Library’s Crime Classics series. These books have become wildly popular, far exceeding our expectations.

And finally, although The Golden Age of Murder has finally hit the bookshelves, after many years of reading and research, my appetite for classic mysteries certainly hasn’t been sated. So I’ve been catching up with books that I didn’t get round to whilst working on my magnum opus, as well as re-reading a few old favourites.

sprigg deathofanairmanOne of the authors I’ve been delighted to reintroduce in the Classic Crime series is Christopher St John Sprigg, a Marxist (and former aeronautical engineer), who died before the age of 30 while fighting in the Spanish Civil War. His Death of an Airman is a terrific book, and I’ve now read it twice. Great fun.

Golden Age stories often manifest high spirits – perhaps this was a way of helping authors and readers to escape from grim economic realities and the worsening international situation. The novels of Alan Melville and Edmund Crispin make lively and agreeable reading. Crispin’s are much better known, and I’ve enjoyed once again his classic The Moving Toyshop, but Melville’s Quick Curtain also amused me. It takes mocking aim at the theatre world, which Melville, a playwright, knew very well, and is another British Library reprint.

One thing strikes me forcibly when I read these books. Yes, they were primarily written to entertain rather than to educate, but they shed plenty of light on the times in which they were written. Nor were they always as cosy and conventional as has often been claimed. In more ways than one, with Golden Age detective stories, nothing is quite as it seems. Which is why they remain well worth republishing – and reading.

Martin Edwards was born at Knutsford, Cheshire and educated in Northwich and at Balliol College, Oxford University, in law. A member of the Murder Squad collective of crime writers, Martin is Vice Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association. In 2007 he was appointed the Archivist of the Crime Writers Association and in 2011 he was appointed the Archivist of the Detection Club. He is married to Helena with two children (Jonathan and Catherine) and lives in Lymm.

This Writers on Reading essay was originally published in At the Scene eNews November 2014 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.

Teri Duerr
2015-06-10 19:56:21
Dashiell Hammett Letters, Elmore Leonard Hawaiian Shirts

BY OLINE H. COGDILL

hammett dashiell
Two archives of Dashiell Hammett, left, will join James Ellroy’s manuscripts, the papers of George V. Higgins, and Elmore Leonard’s Hawaiian shirts along with collections relating to Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald at the University of South Carolina.

According to the Associated Press and other media, the two archives contain hundreds of personal letters, including some 400 Hammett wrote to his wife and daughters and roughly 70 written by Lillian Hellman, with whom Hammett lived at the time of his death in 1961, at age 66.

The acquisition also includes photographs, screenplays, more than 300 first editions and 42 copies of the pulp magazine Black Mask containing Hammett’s work, as well as a replica of the black Maltese Falcon statuette from the 1941 film starring Humphrey Bogart. One archive was acquired from Hammett’s family and the other from the biographer Richard Layman.

“This is the collection of Hammett material,” Tom McNally, the university’s dean of libraries, told The Associated Press, which first reported the acquisition. “There is no equal to it in terms of published materials.”

Some pieces will be on display at the university’s Hollings Library through July 31.

The Hammett archives bolster the university’s crime fiction collection.

The archives of Leonard, who died in 2013, include more than 450 manuscripts, correspondence, and research materials relating to his more than 40 books, numerous short stories, and screenplays. The collection also includes Leonard’s Hawaiian shirts and will eventually include his desk, his typewriters, some 1,300 books from his personal library, and even a pair of his sneakers.

Peter Leonard, the author’s son, explained in a release that his father chose the university because of its Hemingway and Higgins collection.

In the release, which was quoted in the New York Times, Peter Leonard said that during his father’s visit to the South Carolina campus in 2013 a librarian showed the Higgins collection, including the manuscript for The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which was published in 1970.

“That got my dad’s attention. That book set my dad free,” Peter Leonard was quoted.

Oline Cogdill
2015-06-13 11:20:00
Felony & Mayhem's 10th Anniversary

BY OLINE H. COGDILL

FMlogo
A love of books can make us do a lot of things.

Some of us stockpile them, hoping to get around to reading that growing mountain; others of us just check out for a few days and devour books; some of us will strike up conversations with complete strangers when we see them reading a book we’ve loved.

Maggie Topkis turned her love of recommending books into becoming a publisher.

Mystery publisher Felony & Mayhem will celebrate its 10th anniversary on June 29, and this milestone comes with a change.

alfieri annamaria
Topkis turned her love of recommending books to the customers at her New York City bookstore, Partners and Crime, into being the publisher of Felony & Mayhem, which has more than 200 titles in print. For the past decade, these titles have been either reissues of out-of-print books or ones that, while new to the U.S. market, had previously been published elsewhere.

A new decade calls for a new change.

Felony & Mayhem will publish its first original title, The Idol of Mombassa by Annamaria Alfieri, left, in 2016.

The publisher calls this novel “a richly atmospheric yarn set in British East Africa in the early years of the 20th century.”

Alfieri, a past president of the New York Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and author of such titles as Strange Gods and Blood Tango, said in a press release, “I feel right at home publishing with Felony & Mayhem. They specialize in my kind of books—well-researched mysteries that are vivid and compelling. I cannot imagine a better fit for me as an author.”

Felony & Mayhem already publishes the paperback edition of Alfieri’s debut, City of Silver. So publishing Alfieri’s new novel seems like a natural progression.

“It was apparent from that first book that [Alfieri] is both drawn to unusual settings–settings that few other writers have explored–and able to bring them stunningly to life. We feel very privileged to be working with her on The Idol of Mombassa, and the fact that we like her so much personally is just icing on the cake,” said Topkis in a release.

For more information about Felony & Mayhem, please go to www.felonyandmayhem.com.

Photo: Annamaria Alfieri

Oline Cogdill
2015-06-17 11:30:00
Facts Behind Grippando's Latest

BY OLINE H. COGDILL

grippandojames CashLandingh
Most people have heard of the 1978 Lufthansa heist at JFK in which criminals made off with an estimated $6 million, which would be around $18 million today.

At the time, it was the largest cash robbery on American soil.

If that sounds familiar then perhaps you saw the 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas, or read the book Wise Guys, written by the mob informant Henry Hill.

In the 1978 heist, many of those behind the crime didn’t fare well. Their increased spending and bragging didn’t make for a clean getaway.

But that Lufthansa robbery isn’t the only time thieves have targeted an airline.

It also happened at the Miami airport in 2005, a crime that James Grippando, right, uses for inspiration in his 22nd thriller, the enthralling Cash Landing.

In real life, the Miami heist netted $7.8 million for a band of amateur thieves.

According to Grippando’s website, which quotes the FBI’s official website, the real crimes “mastermind,” Karls Monzon, teamed up with his uncle, an ex-con, his cocaine-addicted brother in law, and an insider who worked for Brinks Security who drove one of the armored trucks that regularly shuttled millions of dollars in cash from Miami International Airport to the Federal Reserve Branch just four miles from the airport.

Each week, states Grippando’s website, a 747 brings from the Frankfurt airport to the Miami airport anywhere from $80 million to $100 million in U.S. dollars in the cargo belly. German banks don’t need all those $50- and $100-dollar bills, and much of Miami’s economy runs on cash.

grippando james
Just like in Goodfellas, the thieves had only one job to do after the heist—don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t change your routine and don’t start spending money you wouldn’t ordinarily have.

Naturally, that didn’t happen. The Cash Landing thieves started spending money like it was water.

One thief’s addiction to cocaine was only surpassed by his addiction to strippers, for whom he would buy $40,000 Rolexes. And we are not talking about just one watch, but several. As the FBI was closing in on their investigation via wiretap, a rival gang kidnapped one of the thieves. And then it got worse.

The real gang eventually was arrested and are still in prison, as are the kidnappers. As for the money, only about a million dollars was ever recovered.

Using a real event for a piece of fiction can be tricky, but Grippando, long an expert at the involving thriller, pulls it off quite nicely in Cash Landing.

Grippando concentrates on the FBI’s investigation, which includes the newly transferred Special Agent Andie Henning, to piece together the scattered clues. As in real life, there is no honor among thieves in Cash Landing.

The Cash Landing robbery is flawless—no one is hurt, not even a gun is fired. But instead of staying off the radar, some of the gang members immediately begin throwing money around, including buying several strippers uber-expensive watches. The gang members in Cash Landing believe they are smarter than that gang in Goodfellas. Of course, they are not.

In my review of Cash Landing, I said: “Cash Landing’s solid plot is buoyed by Grippando’s strong characters, each of whom has something to hide from the others. Grippando also delivers history lessons along with a tour around Miami, from down-at-the-heels neighborhoods to Lincoln Road in Miami, including a homeless scam that seems to be one of those only in South Florida events.

“Andie plays a major part in Grippando’s recent novels about Miami attorney Jack Swytek. But Cash Landing is set in 2009, before the two met although Swytek plays a pivotal, but small, role at the end,” I added in my review.

Grippando makes the best use of reality as he spins fictional gold with Cash Landing.

Photo: James Grippando; courtesy HarperCollins

Oline Cogdill
2015-06-27 11:20:00
Spenser Meets Hank Phillippi Ryan

By OLINE H. COGDILL

If you’re a fan of mystery fiction—and of course you are, because you are on this site—then you know that several authors can write about the same city, yet bring a different perspective on that setting.

atkinsace kickback
As I have said before, the Los Angeles of Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and Denise Hamilton is a different city in each of these authors’ novels.

The characters become so real to us readers that we half-expect them to somehow know each other.

And that has happened before.

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole have each made uncredited cameos in the other’s novels. Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski once commented on how she admired the organizational skills of Kinsey Millhone, who is making her last appearances as Sue Grafton’s series winds down with X, due out in August.

But in one of the latest twists, a character meets an author.

In Ace Atkins' Robert B. Parker’s Kickback, Boston private detective Spenser gets himself involved in the usual complicated case.

In this fourth outing by Atkins, Spenser agrees to help a single mother whose teenage son—along with other teens from a small town—has been denied a right to counsel and routinely sentenced to a “boot camp” for relatively minor offenses.

Without giving anything away, Spenser makes the evening news and his story is reported by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

This is a natural reference.

In addition to being the award-winning author of the Jane Ryland series, Ryan also is an award-winning television journalist, having won 32 Emmys and 13 Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting.

In Ryan’s series, Jane Ryland, who makes her latest appearance in Truth Be Told, also is a reporter but she works for a newspaper.

Who knows, maybe Spenser’s story also made the front page of Jane’s newspaper. Atkins doesn't tell us.

Oline Cogdill
2015-06-24 21:55:00
Longmire Days in Wyoming

BY OLINE H. COGDILL

johnson craig
longmire roberttaylor3
A series’ setting often makes us feel very connected to that location. And I often seek out mysteries set in areas that I will be visiting.

So celebrating a series that brings attention to the location sounds like a good idea.

The fourth annual Longmire Days, celebrating the novels by Craig Johnson, left, and the TV show Longmire about Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire, is scheduled for July 17-19 in Buffalo, Wyoming.

The town is quite proud of its Longmire Days.

Although Absaroka County is fictional, the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce notes that Absaroka County is “where Sheriff Walt Longmire and his deputies and staff enforce the law and try to keep their own lives in order.”

Last year, Longmire Days attracted more than 8,000 fans.

This year, the organizers say the event will feature “more actors than ever before, along with the big man himself, Craig Johnson.”

Activities include a Longmire parade, a poker school for novices, a book-to-film discussion, trap shooting, and horseback rides.

Actor Robert Taylor, right, who plays Sheriff Longmire, is scheduled to shoot off the starting gun for the Longmire Days 5K and Fun Run. Taylor and Johnson also will have a discussion about the novels and television.

Since Longmire Days’ inception, the organizers have selected a cause to receive the proceeds from the event. The 2015 proceeds go to the American Indian College Fund.

Longmire was the highest rated show on A&E and is now being produced on Netflix.

For more information visit http://www.buffalowyo.com/longmire.html.

Photos: Craig Johnson, top left; Robert Taylor, right.

Oline Cogdill
2015-07-01 14:10:00
"True Detective"'s Second Season Debuts

BY OLINE H. COGDILL

truedetective2 farrell
Despite its flaws, the first season of HBO’s True Detective delivered an intriguing story about detectives, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson), during two periods in their lives. Cohle and Hart were partners in Louisiana’s Criminal Investigation Division whose last case together changed their lives and forced them down a path from which they have never recovered.

I mention this initial season because what made that first venture work is, for the most part, missing from the second season of True Detective, which begins at 9 p.m. on June 21.

True Detective, written and created by Nic Pizzolatto, is billed as an anthology series, so the story of Cohle and Hart is finished. They are left to find whatever redemption they can find. No more Hart’s cynicism nor Cohle’s propensity for nihilistic monologues on religion, life, and families.

Instead, we have a new set of detectives for this second season—Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams), Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), and Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch)—a new location just outside of Los Angeles, and even a criminal/entrepreneur, Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn).

What’s missing in this second season is a story line and characters worth caring about.

True Detective Season 2 features the most depressing group of cops, working on a depressing crime in a depressing area. It makes the first season seem like a rom-com.

truedetective2 mcadams
This second season is a soulless story, judging by the first three hour-long episodes offered to critics.

In the second season, three law-enforcement officers and a local mobster are tangled in a bizarre murder that will involve billions of dollars, a land scam, and politics.

Velcoro is a compromised detective in the all-industrial city of Vinci in Los Angeles County; Bezzerides, a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective; and Woodrugh, a war veteran and motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol.

The disappearance and murder of a city manager, whose body is discovered by Woodrugh, jump-starts the investigation that will put all three on the same task force.

Among the targets of the investigation is Semyon, a mobster trying to become a high-profile entrepreneur but who is in danger of losing everything.

Semyon is torn between his desire for power as a mobster, his desire to be respected by the community’s upper echelons, and the domesticity that he has found with his wife, Jordan (Kelly Reilly), who may be the only person on his side. Sometimes your worst self is your best self,” says Semyon.

Each of these cops is, somehow, connected with Semyon, though none of them know the other’s relationship with him.

The second season’s main problem is that it so quickly succumbs to clichés.

truedetective2 kitsch
To say that each of the cops has issues is putting it mildly; each also has an affinity for violence that can erupt any second.

Velcoro’s “retribution” on the man who beat and raped his now ex-wife Alicia (Abigail Spencer) did not sit well with her, who sees this as a violence he cannot control. And she is right. Velcoro’s relationship with his young son seems, at first, good, but he is as likely to blow up at the boy as he is to beat a father in front of his own child.

Woodrugh struggles with combat memories and battle scars, a controlling mother (Lolita Davidovich) who often is inappropriate with him, and a secret that is cleverly revealed by episode three.

Bezzerides is a coiled cobra of emotions, sexual and violent, many of which echo back to her father, Elliott (David Morse), a former leader in communal living who now lectures at the Panticapaeum Institute, the last place a missing woman worked as a housekeeper. (Morse is an insightful actor and probably a very nice man, but, come on, with few exceptions he plays a villain. His and McAdams’ scene tells the viewer all you need to know about their father-daughter dynamic.)

And, of course, Semyon also is haunted by an event from his past.

truedetective2 vaughn2
These characters all toil in the bleakest areas of Los Angeles County where the interstate resembles a ring of hell. The city of Vinci, which started as a vice haven, is now all-industrial and considered to be the worst polluter in the state. With a setting like that, there can be no joy here.

The swamps and fields of rural Louisiana of the first season were never this dreary.

The barren theme is set from the opening song—a purposely chilling rendition of Leonard Cohen saying his song Nevermind. The singer, who appears in a bar where bribes and deals with the devil are made, continues the bleak theme.

What does work in the second season is the terrific cast.

McAdams tamps down her normal girl-next-door persona to nail the role of an angry loner who trusts no one.

Kitsch, best known as the troubled high school football star Tim Riggins on NBC’s Friday Night Lights, shows his depth.

Farrell delivers his usual tormented character and is, also as usual, good-looking yet scruffy. (I always get the feeling that Farrell never takes a good shower and always smells a bit funky.)

With no trace of the glib characters he usually plays, Vaughn brings a nuanced portrayal of a criminal who wants it all—a happy life and violence.

True Detective’s second season will be eight episodes long. Enter at your own risk.


True Detective’s second season debuts at 9 p.m., June 21, on HBO. There will be frequent encores and it will be available on demand, as is the first season.

Photos: Colin Farrell, top, Rachel McAdams, second photo; Taylor Kitsch; Vince Vaughn. Photos courtsey HBO.

Oline Cogdill
2015-06-20 04:05:00
Vera and Harry: The True Detectives

BY OLINE H. COGDILL

vera tvshow
Those of us who are disappointed in HBO’s True Detective—and count me as one of those—will find much to like in two import crime dramas. And even if you are on the side of the True Detective trio, there is still much to like with the fifth series of Vera from England and Harry, from New Zealand.

The characters in these two series are the real true detectives.

The four movie-length Vera segments stream Mondays, starting July 6, on Acorn TV. Harry is available on Acorn TV now.

Welcome back, Vera
It is indeed Changing Tides for Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, a cantankerous cop with the Northumbria, England, police force. Based on the novels by Ann Cleeves, Vera: Changing Tides stars Brenda Blethyn, who has entertained us in each of the Vera seasons.

Vera could be a distant relative of Columbo—she often is disheveled, with her floppy hat and old coat looking as if she picked them up off the floor after stepping on them. She often looks like one’s eccentric aunt. Her appearance gives her an advantage as this perceptive cop often is dismissed by others, especially criminals.

The biggest changing tide for Vera is her new sergeant, DS Aiden Healey (Kenny Doughty). He replaces DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon) who has now been promoted. It will take a bit but soon Vera is treating Aiden just as she did Joe—as a colleague but also as a surrogate son.

It’s a dynamic that works well for this series and the change in players doesn’t stop this.

In the first episode, Vera and Aiden investigate an explosion at a financially strapped caravan park—trailer park for us Yanks—that killed the sister of the park’s owner. Stag parties, a marijuana crop, love triangles, and bad neighbors play into the plot.

Blethyn continues to nail the part of Vera—even when the script gets a little bogged down in exposition. And Doughty also rises to the occasion.

Wild About Harry
Harry TVseries
Harry
, the New Zealand import, has the usual brooding cop with a sad backstory who, despite his personal problems, shows his insight in each case he handles.

OK, so all that is a cliché, but Harry comes across as an original series with characters one wants to spend time with and stories that challenge the viewer.

Harry also has Oscar Kightley and Sam Neill. Enough said.

First aired in 2013, Harry is a six-part crime drama series set in Auckland.

In the first episode, Detective Harry Anglesea (Oscar Kightley) returns to Auckland's Major Crime Unit after a four-week bereavement leave in his native Samoa.

His wife’s suicide will forever haunt him and grief seizes his heart daily.

Harry also is self-destructive and he is in no way ready to return to work. Nor is he the kind of father that his 13-year-old daughter, Mele, needs more than ever.

But work also is what Harry needs and he and his supervisor/mentor Detective Jim Stocks Stockton (Sam Neill) become embroiled in a high-profile drug case.

I would watch Neill read the phone book. But as usual, he brings depth and class to any role he does.

Photos: Top: Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty in Vera. Bottom: Oscar Kightley, at left, and Sam Neill, center, in Harry. Photos courtesy Acorn TV.

Oline Cogdill
2015-07-04 16:48:23
Carolyn Hart and Don Bain on Creating Characters That Stand the Test of Time

hart carolynRecently, Mary Kennedy spoke with Carolyn Hart (Death on Demand series) and Donald Bain, (Murder, She Wrote series) for Mystery Scene about creating long-running characters, complex and appealing enough to stand the test of time. Both these icons in the mystery world have figured out the secret of  how to keep readers happy for decades. They graciously shared their thoughts on building such icnoc characters with Mystery Scene

Mary Kennedy: How do you keep your characters fresh and interesting? 

Carolyn Hart: DEATH ON DEMAND, the 25th in the Death on Demand series, was just published last month. Are Annie and Max Darling still fresh? I hope so. If readers find them lively, the answer may lie in my relationship with Annie and Max. Some years ago, my daughter drew my husband aside and said quietly, “Daddy, I’m worried about Mother. I’m afraid she thinks these people are real.” He looked at her in surprise and said, “But they are.” 

Donald Bain: Jesssica Fletcher’s insatiable curiosity about the world around her and its people is what keeps her fresh as a character. While she remains the same decent, loving and inquisitive woman, we keep her fresh by placing her in different situations (and places and times) to which she can react. 

MK: Do the main characters evolve and change? 

CH: Definitely. Even though at the end of every book Annie and Max are always young and carefree on their sea island, they know good times and bad. They discover what it means to care terribly and to fight for survival of love and life. They feel and therefore the reader will feel with  them. Life is ever changing. Fictional characters must meet life on its own terms and respond as best they can. 

DB: The Jessica Fletcher character never changes, nor does she age over the course of the forty-five books to date in the series, which spans over twenty-five years. What does change are the surroundings in which she finds herself, and the challenges she faces in each book. That’s why “place” is so important to the series. By sending her off to various locales, she must rise to a different set of hurdles and dangers in each book, as well as navigate different cultures and new characters with whom she’s forced to interact.  

MK: Do readers want the main character to remain the same? 

CH: I’ve not received any feedback on that. Readers read the books for different reasons, but I don’t believe they want Annie and Max to change in any significant way. They seem to enjoy them just as they are. 

bain donald2DB: Our readers don’t want Jessica to change. A running debate between them is whether she should marry the dashing Scotland Yard Inspector, George Sutherland. Most readers like that she’s not married and free to travel the globe. A smaller number would like to see her marry George (and others have long lobbied for Jess to marry Dr. Seth Hazlitt.) This backstory also functions to allow the reader to experience change in her as she debates this issue. 

MK: Do the main character’s core values remain the same? 

CH: That is at the crux of the mystery novel. The protagonists want to live in a good and decent world and always strive to do the right thing. 

DB: One of Jessica’s most appealing characteristics is that while she’s forced to confront prickly situations, including unsavory people, her core values never change and she brings them to bear to whatever situation in which she finds herself. Of course, that she never ages in the series helps us achieve this. 

MK: As an author, what are the advantages of writing a series with long-running characters? 

CH: Recurring characters mean the author knows the terrain and understands the character’s mores. It can be great fun to chop through the forest and blaze a new path, but there is charm and comfort in following a familiar path. 

DB: Having been handed Jessica Fletcher as a character is a two-edged sword. On the one hand we’ve been given a great, full-fleshed character created and nurtured by the wonderful Angela Lansbury, as well as by the writers and directors of the TV series.  On the other hand, we have restrictions as to what we can do with the character. NBC-Universal is extremely protective of the Jessica Fletcher character and brand, and for good reason. But it sometimes puts a crimp in what we’d like to see her do, or say at times. 

MK: Thank you so much for giving us an insight into your fascinating characters and wishing you both continued success with your series.   

Mary Kennedy is a psychologist and the author of The Talk Radio Mysteries and The Dream Club Mysteries for Penguin-Random House. Her latest release is Dream a Little Scream. You can visit her at www.marykennedy.net

Teri Duerr
2015-07-05 16:32:32

hart carolyn

 

 

 

 

Recently, Mary Kennedy spoke with Carolyn Hart (Death on Demand series) and Donald Bain, (Murder, She Wrote series) for Mystery Scene about creating long-running characters, complex and appealing enough to stand the test of time.

Brian Panowich on Listening

panowich brian

From Reader to Writer to Listener

I’ve always been avid fiction reader. I’m a sucker for a good story, no matter the author or genre. If the cover or the flap summary grab me, I dig right in right there in the store, and all the way through the checkout line and out to the truck (I don’t recommend reading while walking through parking lots, though. It can get ugly out there). If I go a couple of days without sinking into some type of imaginary world, I start to take in too much of the real one, and that is never a good thing.

When I was writing my first novel, Bull Run, I needed to write at the fire station where I work because writing in a house full of kids was near impossible; I’m the ‘write in total silence type,’ but the problem I ran into was that the fire station normally was where I consumed most of my books. I read there on my down time, and now I was using that time to write. I couldn’t fit in my regular diet of fiction that I’d been depending on to level me out for years. The only real time I had to myself that wasn’t devoured by writing was the time I spent in the truck driving back and forth to work.

Enter the Audiobook.

I’d discovered audiobooks several years ago when the necessity to read Give Us a Kiss by Daniel Woodrell hit me for the 23rd or so time, and I thought I’d give the audio version a whirl. I loved the medium, and was an immediate fan, but nothing takes the place of the heft of a real book, so my interest tapered off somewhat.

Now, audiobooks became my saving grace. I filled the two 30-minute drives back and forth to work that bookended my shift, along with any excuse to run a few errands, with Joe Landsdale’s The Thicket, Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek, and a few others. I didn't have to do anything but keep my hands on the wheel. Sometimes if a chapter had me in its grip, I’d stay in the driveway until it was over as my kids, or fellow firemen, stared out from the windows wondering why I was sitting in my truck for apparently no reason.

Once my own book was finished, I went back to flipping pages proper (nothing beats the smell of a new book), but I still use those 30-minute drives to work and back to enjoy another book I normally wouldn’t have time to read. It’s a ritual now.

My wife once told me, “Your life would be much easier if you just stopped talking, and learned to listen.” She’s a wise woman.

Brian Panowich is the author of Bull Mountain, a southern crime saga from Putnam Books. He has several stories available in print and online collections. Two of his stories, "If I Ever Get Off This Mountain" and "Coming Down The Mountain", were nominated for a Spinetingler award in 2013. He is currently a firefighter in East Georgia, living with his wife and four children. Bull Mountain is his first novel.

This “Writers on Reading” essay was originally published in “At the Scene” eNews May 2015 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.

Teri Duerr
2015-07-09 22:41:16

From Reader to Writer to Listener

At the Scene, Summer Issue #140

140cover250Hi Everyone,

Ingrid Thoft has been on our radar ever since the first Fina Ludlow novel, Loyalty, in 2013. Kevin Burton Smith singled her out in "Triple Threat: Exciting New Voices in the Private Eye Novel" in MS #131. (The other two writers were Sara Gran and Lisa Brackmann.)

Thoft’s moody, tenacious Boston PI has also piqued the interest of TV, with a Fina Ludlow series now in development at ABC. In this issue, we asked author and journalist Hank Phillippi Ryan, herself an expert on all things Bostonian, to chat with this interesting new talent.

Continuing his indefatigable quest to champion detective fiction, Kevin Burton Smith would like to draw your attention to Ronald Tierney, creator of Deets Shanahan, a cranky, blue-collar Indianapolis PI of a certain age. Tierney is bringing his rock-solid series to a close with A Killing Frost and we pay tribute to his achievement in this issue.

I owe Joe Goodrich a big favor for his introduction to the delightfully civilized Henry Gamadge, Elizabeth Daly’s New York City documents expert/sleuth. I’ve just read three novels in the series and have several more waiting for vacation. There’s a reason Daly was Agatha Christie’s favorite American crime writer: beneath the sharp characterizations, intricate plots, and genial wit, both writers share the same gimlet-eyed assessment of human nature. Great stuff!

In addition to books and film, Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe has also had a notable career in the comics. It’s fascinating to see the various takes that artists have on this iconic character. As Dick Lochte notes in his interesting article, Marlowe seems to speak to everyone, although in decidedly different ways. And a big thanks to Dick for the use of his personal library for illustrations.

Did you know that Ross Macdonald and Eudora Welty were pen pals? Actually, they were more than that. In his intriguing article, Jon L. Breen states that these two gifted writers conducted a platonic love affair through their intimate, wide-ranging correspondence. Jake Hinkson considers the complex appeal of actress Lizabeth Scott, noir star of the ’40s and ’50s, who died earlier this year. Included is a list of her best films in case you want to check them out.

Also in this issue, Ed Gorman chats with John Lutz, a genre stalwart for many years, who moves from private eye novels to thrillers to short stories with deceptive ease. We wish you a long, lazy summer full of great reading. See you in the fall!

We'd love to hear about books you would recommend, new or old - write and let us know!

Kate Stine
Editor-in-chief

Teri Duerr
2015-07-10 06:18:13
Summer Issue #140 Contents

140cover250

Features

Ingrid Thoft

Her novels about mercurial Boston PI Fina Ludlow have critics crowning Thoft the next-gen heir to Grafton and Paretsky.
by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Elizabeth Daly: East Side Stories

The urbane and amiable Henry Gamadge was the sleuth to call when hard times came to easy street.
by Joseph Goodrich

Ronald Tierney

An appreciation of the Deets Shanahan novels as the gruff but decent Indianapolis PI faces mortality.
by Kevin Burton Smith

Pen Pals: Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald

A new collection of letters chronicles the platonic love affair between two gifted writers.
by Jon L. Breen

Lizabeth Scott: Film Noir’s Blonde Janus

She could play it sweet or mean, in film noir no one embodied the good/bad split better than Scott.
by Jake Hinkson

Gormania

A chat with John Lutz, author of the Frank Quinn series about an ex-NYPD cop turned criminal profiler.
by Ed Gorman

Marlowe Framed!

Comic book adaptations of Raymond Chandler’s iconic private eye.
by Dick Lochte

An Expert Witness Crossword

by Verna Suit

Departments

At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Mystery Miscellany

by Louis Phillips

Hints & Allegations

Edgar Awards, Quais du Polar 2015, Agatha Awards, Arthur Ellis Awards

The Hook

First lines that caught our attention

My Book

Between the Covers: What is Left Behind in Library Books
by Elaine Viets

Burnt Sienna
by Sarah Wisseman

Greenfellas
by Robert Lopresti

Reviews

Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

by Betty Webb

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell & Hank Wagner

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

by Dick Lochte

Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

Mystery Scene Reviews

Miscellaneous

The Docket

Letters

Our Readers Recommend

Advertiser Info

Teri Duerr
2015-07-10 06:23:20
140, Summer 2015
Teri Duerr
2015-07-10 16:44:06
2015 Thriller Award Winners

abbottmeg thefever
The winners of the 2015 Thriller Awards, sponsored by the International Thriller Writers, were announced on July 11, 2015, the highlight of the annual conference in New York City.

The 2015 Thriller Awards honors work published in 2014.

Winners are in bold with an * before the title. Mystery Scene congratulates the winners—and also the nominees. With so many terrific crime fiction published each year being nominated remains an achievement.

ITW 2015 Thriller Awards Winners


BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
*Megan Abbott – THE FEVER (Little, Brown and Company)
Lauren Beukes – BROKEN MONSTERS (Mulholland Books)
Joseph Finder – SUSPICION (Dutton)
Greg Iles – NATCHEZ BURNING (William Morrow)
Chevy Stevens – THAT NIGHT (St. Martin’s Press)

BEST FIRST NOVEL
*Laura McHugh – THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD (Spiegel & Grau)
Ray Celestin – THE AXEMAN’S JAZZ (Mantle)
Julia Dahl – INVISIBLE CITY (Minotaur Books)
Allen Eskens – THE LIFE WE BURY (Seventh Street Books)
Andy Weir – THE MARTIAN (Crown)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
*Vincent Zandri – MOONLIGHT WEEPS (Down & Out Books)
Shelley Coriell – THE BURIED (Forever)
Robert Dugoni – MY SISTER’S GRAVE (Thomas & Mercer)
James R. Hannibal – SHADOW MAKER (Berkley)
Rick Mofina – WHIRLWIND (Harlequin MIRA)

BEST SHORT STORY
*Tim L. Williams – “The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)
Richard Helms – “Busting Red Heads” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)
Stephen Ross – “Pussycat, Pussycat” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)
Gigi Vernon – “Show Stopper”, MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA PRESENTS ICE COLD: TALES OF INTRIGUE FROM THE COLD WAR (Grand Central)
Bev Vincent – “The Honey Trap”, MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA PRESENTS ICE COLD: TALES OF INTRIGUE FROM THE COLD WAR (Grand Central)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
*Elle Cosimano – NEARLY GONE (Kathy Dawson Books)
Kristen Lippert-Martin – TABULA RASA (EgmontUSA)
Meredith McCardle – THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN (Skyscape)
Victoria Schwab – THE UNBOUND (Disney-Hyperion)
Kara Taylor – WICKED LITTLE SECRETS (St. Martin’s Griffin)

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
*C.J. Lyons – HARD FALL (Legacy Books)
Sean Black – POST (Sean Black Digital)
Layton Green – THE METAXY PROJECT (Sixth Street Press)
Michael Logan – WANNABES (Michael Logan)
Gil Reavill – 13 HOLLYWOOD APES (Alibi)

Oline Cogdill
2015-07-12 03:19:42
Method 15/33
Betty Webb

When O. Henry wrote the short story “The Ransom of Red Chief,” he found humor in the idea of a kidnapped boy so obnoxious that his kidnappers actually paid the boy’s parents to take him back. There’s a whiff of that classic plot in Shannon Kirk’s Method 15/33, where a man abducts a pregnant 16-year-old—but without the humor. Nor should there be. The kidnapper works for a particularly nasty baby mill. As soon as his captive gives birth, her baby will be sold, and, like numerous pregnant victims before her, the teen will be killed. What Method 15/33 has in common with O. Henry’s groundbreaking book is that this particular captive is a sociopathic genius who, from the moment she is abducted, draws up a plan to kill her captor as painfully as possible. Ordinarily, such a cold-blooded protagonist would make an iffy heroine, but not here. In Kirk’s flat-out brilliant thriller, the girl’s vengeful voice is leavened in alternate chapters by the warmer voice of Roger Liu, the FBI agent determined to save her. It also helps that we know from the start that the girl escapes (the book is her memoir, written 17 years later). How smart is this girl? She writes, “After my day in the attic, I already had enough assets to kill my captor five times over.” Included in those assets is a red blanket, some string, an elastic band, a plastic bag, and a cup of water. In the book’s eye-popping climax, we learn exactly how lethal those everyday items can be. Believe me, you’ll never look at a cup of water in the same way again. How vengeful is she? After her abductor winks at her, she writes, “If I get the chance, I will cut your eyes out for that gesture. I’ll laminate your pupils in resin and carry them on a keychain.” She’s not kidding. Method 15/33 takes us to some very dark places, and at times, we can’t help but wonder whose soul is the darker—the captor’s or the captive’s. But stick around. In the book’s last chapter, the darkness lifts and a light illuminates everything, both past and present. Then you’ll reread the book to see what else you got wrong.

Teri Duerr
2015-07-14 16:43:27
Charlie Martz and Other Stories
Bill Crider

Charlie Martz and Other Stories is a collection of Elmore Leonard’s early work. Most of the 15 stories appear in print here for the first time, and all were written before Leonard formulated his ten famous rules. So you get to see a story called “Arma Virumque Cano” open with a description of the weather. You also get to see Leonard playing around with an idea in “Charlie Martz” and work the same idea out in better fashion in “Siesta in Paloverde” (also with Martz). And speaking of openings, as I was, “The Only Good Syrian Foot Soldier Is a Dead One” is a Hollywood story with a dandy opening line. “Time of Terror” is a slick tale about luck and terrorism set in Malaysia. “A Happy, Lighthearted People” is a Hemingway-esque story set in Spain. In all the stories we can see Leonard trying out differing voices as he works his way toward the style he would eventually settle on and make his own. Anyone interested in seeing how a writer develops will find this book of interest, as will all fans of Leonard’s work. There’s a short, affectionate introduction by Peter Leonard included, as well.

Teri Duerr
2015-07-14 17:15:39

A 15-story collection of Elmore Leonard’s early work

Fear the Darkness
Dick Lochte

Becky Masterman’s Rage Against the Dying (2013) introduced the surprisingly tough, fiftysomething Tucson housewife and part-time private eye Brigid Quinn, whose success at self-preservation is mainly due to years spent as an undercover agent for the FBI. In her debut thriller, she closed out at least two serial killers, while maintaining a new, more or less happy marriage to a philosophy professor who was once a Catholic priest. Here, she agrees to give her late sister-in-law’s daughter Gemma Kate room and board for the few months it will take the teenager to qualify for the University of Arizona’s in-state tuition. Once the moody 17-year-old arrives, odd things begin to happen. Along with a couple of seemingly accidental deaths, one of Brigid’s dogs gets sick, a bunch of townspeople are poisoned, and Brigid isn’t feeling so hot herself. Could her niece be a sociopath, slipping something in her food, or is she, as her husband and her close friend suggest, showing disturbing signs of paranoia? The answer arrives in a death-defying finale that is as satisfying as it is thrilling. Reader Suzanne Toren effectively presents Brigid’s husband’s quiet thoughtfulness, Gemma Kate’s teen ennui, and the various moods of the featured townsfolk. She’s especially careful to follow Masterman’s lead in mirroring her protagonist-narrator’s swinging moods. She captures Brigid’s cynical, nonsense-intolerant attitude from the first word until the last, and when the character’s “equal measure of dark and light” begins to favor the former, she injects just the right amount of self-doubt and anger, and, as the book’s title suggests, fear.

Teri Duerr
2015-07-14 17:24:06