158 Winter cover, Laura Benedict

Hi Everyone,

Laura Benedict is obsessed with houses and her latest novel, the propulsive The Stranger Inside, starts with one of her biggest fears when Kimber Hannon returns from a long weekend to find a strange man living in her house, complete with a lease that he claims Kimber gave him.

The Stranger Inside “was a cumulation of all those dreams about people trying to get into a house and defending my house. I kept coming back to the idea of someone getting inside,” she said. Oline Cogdill chats with Benedict in this issue.

Daphne du Maurier is best known for her novels, including Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, but she was also a prolific and talented short story writer. Nancy Bilyeau takes a look at her work, including the story that led to Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds.

David Swinson was a cop before he became a writer, and his days on the job have left him with strong opinions—and a keen insight into his PI, ex-Washington, DC, narcotics detective Frank Marr. Kevin Burton Smith calls Marr the “Keith Richards of the shamus game” and talks to the author in this issue.

Every year we ask our columnists and reviewers to give us a list of their “Fave Raves.” Instead of picking a repetitive “Best” list, we asked them to choose works that have lingered in their minds, and that they’d be happy to recommend to others. The results this year are as interesting, eclectic and wide-ranging as you’d expect. Do you have a fave rave? Send us your recommendations at <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.

If there’s a common theme to Liz Mugavero’s books beyond crime (and cats and cuisine), it’s this: that families aren’t just those we’re born into but those we make. She has this to say to John B. Valeri about her sleuth, Kristan “Stan” Connor:

I think people can relate to a woman who never felt she fit in with her family, and that spilled over into other areas of her life, like work and relationships until the universe gave her a wake-up call that prompted her to really go find her own way. Once she started listening to herself and relying on her intuition to find her path, she found a real home (both a house and in the broader town), and a family within it.

Michael Mallory has a case to make for Horace McCoy as one of the founding fathers of the hardboiled fiction genre. Beginning in the Depression Era, McCoy’s bleak, corrosive worldview made him a hit in France and something of a pariah in the United States. Time called his 1948 magnum opus, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, “one of the nastiest novels ever published in this country.” Yet McCoy’s distinctive voice continues to resonate 60 years after his death.

Thomas Christopher Greene, profiled in this issue by John B. Valeri, believes that the narrative impulse is universal.

People … are all storytellers. We just do it in different ways. And what each one of us is doing is wrestling with the idea of what it means to be alive, and what it means to be human. And when you do this, you not only discover what it means to be human, but what it means to be humane. That is a profound idea and worth doing.

We also have insightful author essays from Peter Lovesey, Eric Beetner, Joni M. Fisher, and Cathy Ace.


Kate Stine