The Real Scott

Okay, after that last post, I have to make it up to Scott, a bad ass man of Mystery who couldn’t even pick Oprah Winfrey or Martha Stewart out of a line up if he had to. According to a post today on facebook, when Craig Johnson looks at Scott, this is what he sees:

Now that is certainly more like it.

Oprah Recommends….

I’m posting this here for Scott, who swears this article innocently found its way to his computer screen and he does NOT spend more than six hours a day looking at Oprah’s website (he has to save some time for Martha Stewart, after all). I KID, I KID.

Say what you will about Oprah Winfrey, she’s done a tremendous service to book lovers everywhere by encouraging many people to pick up a book and read. She recently posted a list of 9 Mysteries Every Thinking Woman Should Read. There are some good picks on there – Jasper Fforde, Jacqueline Winspear. Take a look.

History of Mystery Class Discusses DARKER THAN AMBER

On April 1st our History Of Mystery Class will look at one of our most loved authors, John D. MacDonald. MacDonald has inspired authors from King and Hiaasen to George Pelecanos. He put Florida on the crime fiction map and gave us one swinging hero in Travis McGee.

McGee lives the male fantasy on his boat, The Busted Flush, sailing around The Keys, drinking, and bedding women. To support his lifestyle, he hires himself out as a “salvage expert”. He will retrieve any stolen or lost item for half its value. His methods of recovery run from detective work, con jobs, to just plain stealing it back. Many times he is aided by his buddy Meyer, a hairy, genial, urbane, and brilliant economist.

MacDonald has an easy going style that reflects his introspective yet cavalier hero. His book Darker Than Amber begins with Travis narrating: “We were about to call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.”

Then for most of the chapter, he tells about the few days before, bumming around with Meyer and “rejuvinating” an married ex-girlfriend. The tale is entertaining and Travis’s voice and thoughts so cool, you almost forget about the woman in the water until he returns to her at the end of the chapter. Even after that, it still takes a while for the plot to kick in as Travis and Meyer try to figure out the mysterious damsel and if she will causes as much distress as she’s in. When it comes down to it, if you remove McGee’s comments and philosophies, his thoughts about what developers are doing to his beloved Florida, his banter with Meyer, and Meyer’s philosophies, you would have only a third of the book left. The plotting is sharp and he gives us one hell of a climatic brawl, but Darker Than Amber, like the other McGee books, is about hanging out with an old and interesting friend.

Come hang out with us on April 1st at 6pm as we discuss Darker Than Amber, McGee, and MacDonald. The book is 10% off to those who attend and we’ll be giving away a few other titles in the series, as well. Before the discussion at 4pm, we’ll also be screening the hard-to-find 1970 film version of Darker Than Amber starring Rod Taylor as Travis McGee.

The History of Mystery Class is a free class that meets on the first Sunday of each month on BookPeople’s third floor to discuss the roots of the genre from its beginning to present day. All are welcome to join us!

3 Books to Read Right Now

Force Of Nature by CJ Box

The latest Joe Pickett novel focuses on his lethal sidekick Nate Romanowski. The Five, the mysterious paramilitary group from Nate’s past, is after him, putting Joe and his family in danger as well. Many of Joe’s secrets will be revealed. Signed copies are now available.


Blood On The Mink by Robert Silverberg

Before Silverberg made a name for himself in the science fiction scene, he wrote this hard boiled treasury agent versus counterfeiters yarn for a magazine. Hard Case Crime finally prints it in novel form along with two other of his early crime pieces.


Gods Of Gotham by Lindsay Faye

Faye looks at mid-1800s New York with a member of its first police force with this sweeping noir historical.

Who Wrote ‘In Cold Blood’? – Guest Post by RJ Ellory

We’re currently hosting a weekly series of guest posts by bestselling crime fiction author RJ Ellory. He came through Austin in January while on tour for A Quiet Vendetta. We had the pleasure of having him here at the store, and will now have the pleasure of sharing a new Ellory post with you every Monday for a few weeks. If you haven’t checked out his thrillers yet, I highly recommend you pick one up and find out what British readers have been raving about for years.


In mid-November, 1959, Truman Capote, renowned author of Other Voices, Other Rooms and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was struck by a newspaper article that appeared in the New York Times.  Little more than a brief squib, it outlined the brutal shotgun-slaying of a farmer, his wife, and their two children.  It reported that in the small village of Holcomb, Kansas, Herb Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their two teenage children, Nancy and Kenyon, had been found bound and murdered, the mother and daughter in their beds, the father and the son in the basement of the home.

Capote, at the time a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, decided that this was the story he next wanted to write about.  He left for Kansas almost immediately, taking with him as his ‘researcher and bodyguard’ Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird and lifelong friend of Capote’s.  As children they had grown up beside one another, and even in Mockingbird, the character of Dill was supposed to have been based on Capote.

So began one of the most famous and fascinating trips in literary history – the diminutive, effete, homosexual Capote, the methodical and pragmatic Lee.

But the story of how In Cold Blood came to be written is not really the subject of this little article.  That story has been covered in two recent films – Capote (with a deserved Oscar-winning performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Infamous starring Toby Jones.  The book itself is the issue at hand, and there are two very simple reasons I have chosen this book above all others.  I am of the belief that non-fiction possesses as its primary purpose the conveyance of information, whereas fiction is there not to entertain (as we are so often told), but to evoke an emotion.  Those books that continue to stay with me, regardless of how long ago I read them, are those that somehow connected and impinged on an emotional level.  I remember being quarantined at boarding school with chicken pox, aged thirteen and sleeping alone in a locked room.  Through the porthole window in the door all I could see was a black and white chequerboard-floored corridor, and what did I read while I was there?   The Shining of all things.  Half of it I didn’t understand, the other half scared me witless.  That was emotional impingement.

So we have these two elements – non-fiction conveying information, fiction evoking an emotion – and in In Cold Blood Capote does both brilliantly.

Even before you begin the book you know that the Clutter family are dead.  This is a matter of public record.  It is a fact.  And yet we begin the book with them alive.  A human, real, honest, hardworking, religiously-minded family, helping one another, helping their fellow townsfolk, the bright and talented Nancy, the father – a rock, a pillar of the earth.  Capote leads us down a road, a brilliantly constructed road, and as we travel he shows us everything we need to see to become so emotionally involved with this family, this town, these events.

The ending is inevitable, terrible and brutal.

And his protagonists – Hickock and Smith, the brief and breathtaking events of the night of November 15th, 1959, and the subsequent years they spent on Death Row.  The way that Capote draws it out, the way he shares their viewpoint with us, the way he opens up this world and shows us all the inhabitants.

A truly remarkable work.

And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the edges of the longstanding and unresolved question: Who wrote In Cold Blood?  Was it Capote?  Was it Lee?  Did they write it together?  And who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird?  Again, was it Capote, was it Lee, or did they conspire to produce two of the most remarkable books in modern American literature?  To Kill A Mockingbird was the only book Harper Lee ever published.  We do not know whether it is the only book she ever wrote.  It spawned a film that won an Oscar for Gregory Peck.  In Cold Blood made Capote one of the most respected and influential authors in American literary history, and yet he spent the subsequent twenty years drinking himself to death and never really published another word.  Norman Mailer wrote an article about this very issue, and he raised the question: Were they individual authors in their own right as far as these two seminal works were concerned, or did they create them together, and then keep that truth from the world?

Who knows?  I believe we will never know.  I just know that In Cold Blood, certainly for any crime author, is perhaps one of the most necessary books to read, and written in an inimitable style, and constructed so well.  A work of genius.

Though it is utterly impossible to say ‘This is my favourite book’, I believe that if I was destined to be marooned on a faraway island and could take one book and one book only, then In Cold Blood would very likely be first on the list.

Longmire Preview

It’s been great to watch the news roll in about our buddy Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire books being turned into a new show for A&E. They just released the trailer, take a look:

Craig’s swinging back through town soon for his latest Longmire novel, As the Crow Flies. We’ll host him here at BookPeople on Wednesday, May 16, 7p.

Craig’s one of our all time favorite authors. We love his books, and we love having him at the store. If you can make it down, you won’t be disappointed. An event with Craig is always a good time.