New Releases in MysteryPeople: March 19th 2013

Books on books on books. Come to BookPeople and grab one of these great new titles!

The Leviathan Effect by James Lilliefors

Homeland Security Secretary Catherine Blaine receives a frightening communication from a hacker identified only by the pseudonym Janus. The message is the latest in a series correctly predicting natural disasters around the world—disasters that, Janus claims, were manufactured, not natural at all. And, according to the email, unless the United States does as Janus instructs, another disaster is coming—a Category 5 hurricane that will hit the Eastern Seaboard and destroy the lives of tens of millions of people.

Unaware of the crisis in Washington, investigative journalist Jon Mallory stumbles on a list of seven prominent scientists who have been murdered over the past dozen years. When the person who gave him the list disappears herself, Jon realizes he has unwittingly become part of a deadly chain of events and contacts his brother, private intelligence contractor Charles, for help. Meanwhile, Catherine Blaine has also come to Charles for help tracking down the hacker Janus and uncovering the frightening new weather technology that threatens the world.

The Fallen by Jassy Mackenzie

When P.I. Jade de Jong invites Superintendent David Patel on a scuba diving holiday in St. Lucia, she hopes the time away will rebuild their conflicted relationship. Jade’s dreams are soon shattered when David calls off their affair, forcing her into the arms of environmentalist Craig Niewoudt. But the next morning, romantic issues are put aside when a scuba diving instructor, Amanda Bolton, is found brutally stabbed to death.

Amanda is a most unlikely candidate for murder—a quiet and intelligent woman who until a few months ago pursued a high-powered career as an air traffic controller. She had few acquaintances and no lovers. The only loose end is a postcard in her room from Jo’burg-based Themba Msamaya, asking how she is doing “after 813 and The Fallen.” Jade and David put their differences aside and start the deadly hunt.

The Ionia Sanction by Gary Corby

Athens, 460 B.C.  Life’s tough for Nicolaos, the only investigating agent in ancient Athens.  His girlfriend’s left him and his boss wants to fire him.  But when an Athenian official is murdered, the brilliant statesman Pericles has no choice but to put Nico on the job.

The case takes Nico, in the company of a beautiful slave girl, to the land of Ionia within the Persian Empire.  The Persians will execute him on the spot if they think he’s a spy.  Beyond that, there are only a few minor problems: He’s being chased by brigands who are only waiting for the right price before they kill him. Somehow he has to placate his girlfriend, who is very angry about that slave girl. He must meet Themistocles, the military genius who saved Greece during the Persian Wars, and then  defected to the hated enemy. And to solve the crime, Nico must uncover a secret that could not only destroy Athens, but will force him to choose between love, and ambition, and his own life.


Evil In All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson

We’re starting a new weekly feature with Crime Fiction Friday, showcasing short stories from some of our favorite authors. It seemed fitting to start with Hilary Davidson. Her novels featuring series heroine, Lily Moore, always have a dark undercurrent to them. That undercurrent becomes a tidal wave in her short work, like the the second in her “Bastard Trilogy” first published by Spinetingler

Hilary will be at BookPeople signing her latest Lily Moore book, Evil In All It’s Disguises, on March 26th.

Scene Of The Crime: DEBORAH COONTS

So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coonts

This month we travel to Sin City with Deborah Coonts. Deborah and her series character, Lucky O’Toole, who works in customer relations for the high end Babylon Hotel. It’s a job that pulls her into murders that reflect Vegas’ weird side. Her third book, So Damn Lucky, has just come out in paperback and her her latest, Lucky Bastard will be out in May. Deborah was kind enough to answer some question about the town that feeds her fiction.

MysteryPeople: As a writer what do you love most about Las Vegas

Deborah Coonts:Vegas–45 million people walk through here annually.  They come here from every corner of the universe with hopes and dreams, baggage and problems.  And they all are looking for something.  Whether it’s something as benign as a few good meals and a show or two with their spouse, significant other, partner or plaything, or  something more mischievous–there’s a story there. Whenever my well of ideas is running low, I wander down to the Strip, buy a yard of margaritas, and sip as I watch the herd of humanity stroll by.  It doesn’t take me long to start imagining their stories again…and I’m off and running.
MP: How does the town shape Lucky?

DC: Lucky is Las Vegas, at least to me.  She embodies the best of this town–it’s open arms, welcoming one and all.  Like Vegas, Lucky is non-judgmental, willing to take each person who crosses her path at face-value.  Vegas–the city of second chances.  No one cares where you came from or what you left behind.  Face it, most of the folks here are running from something. It could be something as simple as boredom or a failed relationship or a miserable childhood.  Or, it could be something more….sinister:)
MP: What is the biggest misconception about the Las Vegas?

DC: Everyone thinks we all live on the Strip–that that is all there is to Vegas.  Actually, Vegas is a nice town.  I tell people it’s just like southern California but without the beach…and the high taxes.

Lucky Bastard by Deborah Coonts

MP: You’re books are known for being funny. Do you think the town is fertile ground for humor?

DC: When people come to Vegas, they usually leave good judgment at home in Iowa, or wherever they hail from.  If you don’t believe me, just go down to the Strip and look at what they are wearing!  There are clearly Vegas clothes (read: clothes you wouldn’t be caught dead in back home) and clothes for the rest of the world.  And the cops here will tell you that that whole what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas thing just made everything a bit more naughty here.  People really believe that the folks back home won’t hear about the drunken brawl at the Strip Club they started.  Wishful thinking or justification on their part, but for me, wonderful fodder for stories:)
MP: What can you do in a Vegas mystery you can’t do in another town?

DC: Be more over-the-top.  This being Vegas, most people expect things to be very silly–and they are.  But I have to take it up a notch.  I mean, no one would believe the Adult Video Awards take place anywhere else.  And, my heroine was raised in a whorehouse–can’t do that too many places and not have anyone bat an eye.  Her mother, the former madam, is considering a political career.  And Vegas truly is the only palce where a former hooker could be elected to serve the people.  Isn’t there just something so….fun…about that?
MP: For someone visiting Las Vegas, what would you consider a must-go-to place?

DC: It all depends on what you are hoping to find here.  But, I’d say you have to go to the Bellagio–it’s just the most magnificent place–the fountains, the Chihuly glass flowers on the ceiling of the lobby, the Conservatory…classy taken to a whole new level…but there for everyone.  And that, my friends, is Vegas.


Craig Johnson + French TV = Comedy Gold

Our pal Craig Johnson recently wrapped up his tour in France, promoting the translation of his fifth book, The Dark Horse. One of his stops was to this English speaking French show, where he was part possible co-host as well as guest, where he talks (or reacts to surprise questions about) Academy Award nominees and the Die Hard franchise as well as his books. They didn’t ask him to comment on the fashion segment so feel free to pose those questions when he’s at MysteryPeople on June 11th.

MysteryPeople Interview: DENISE MINA

Gods And Beasts by Denise Mina

Interview by Scott Montgomery

Gods And Beasts by Denise Mina has been moving off our shelves since it arrived. The latest in her Alex Morrow series takes three story lines, one with a robbery, the second with a sex scandal, and the last with two coppers blackmailed after a moment of weakness, all of which give the reader insight into what’s going on in present day Scotland. Denise was kind enough to take a few questions from us about the book.

MysteryPeople: Is it correct that part of Gods And Beasts was inspired by an actual political scandal in Scotland?

Denise Mina: Yes, it was. A Scottish folk hero politician who was a family man was accused of attending seedy sex parties in a swingers club in Manchester . It was so different from the man everyone thought they knew, it was an outrageous allegation. Anyway, he sued the News of the World, who had made the claim. Legally I don’t know if I’m allowed to say anything else about that but you can check out the story on line.
I finished the book the week before he got out of prison but when he got out he sued the NoW again so I had to rewrite the entire book in a week end with Clinton and Strauss Khan’s biographies next to me, or else the lawyers at the publishers said they’d have to shelve it.

MP: The title comes from an Aristotle quote you use in the book that roughly says that someone who is unable to live in society or live sufficiently without it is a god or a beast. How does that reflect what you wanted to explore in the book?

DM: I think the quote means that those who are not part of the society are either gods or beast. That applies to almost everyone in the book. We suddenly have a big thing over here about who is and isn’t paying taxes and how wrong it is of people to use funky tax schemes.

MP: You have three stories that converge in a natural way. How difficult was it to juggle them?

DM: Hopefully part of the tension int he book is the reader thinking ‘how the hell is she going to bring these together’? It certainly kept me wondering! It pretty much resolves on the last page which, technically, I’m very proud of. I don’t know how I did it but I can’t think who else should get the credit , so it must be me.

MP:You have people who make some horrible decisions, but there is a general, at times compassionate, understanding of why they do this. Is it important to you that your sinners can have as much sympathy as your “saints”?

DM: Definitely. I do like books with clean distinctions between good and bad guys but it doesn’t feel realistic, always. There’s a TV sketch show over here where SS men are talking about their uniform and one says to the other ‘We have skulls on our hat emblems. You don’t think that means we’re the bad guys, do you?” I love that. I don’t think many people believe they’re doing awful things, and yet we do. Much more interesting.

MP: I was happy to see your other series character, Paddy Meehan, appear in the book. Had you planned to use her when you started?

DM: No, but the fifty page letter of objection from the lawyer to had some questions about the journalist that appeared there: is this a real person? are they identifiable? I was feeling a bit beleaguered and changed it to Paddy. Scott Free are developing a TV series of the Morrow books and they’d promised that the brilliant actress who plays Paddy Meehen in the TV show will be asked to appear in teat scene. Love that.

MP: This is your third book with Alex Morrow. What has the character allowed you to do as a writer, you couldn’t do with Paddy or you’re other protagonists?

DM: Alex isn’t in the books very much, going by word count, so she leaves a lot of space for other stories, which is wonderful

New Releases in MysteryPeople: March 12th 2013

Mystery book galore! Check out these great new titles.

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg

When Sophie Brinkmann—nurse, widow, single mother—meets Hector Guzman, her life is uneventful.  She likes his quiet charm and easy smile; she likes the way he welcomes her into his family.  She quickly learns, though, that his smooth façade masks something much more sinister. Guzman is the head of a powerful international crime ring with a reach into drugs and weapons that extends from Europe to South America.  His interests are under siege by a ruthless German syndicate who will stop at nothing to stake their claim.  But the Guzmans are fighters and will go to war to protect what’s rightfully theirs.  The conflict quickly escalates to become a deadly turf war between the rival organizations that includes an itinerant arms dealer, a deeply disturbed detective, a vicious hit man, and a wily police chief.  Sophie, too, is unwittingly caught in the middle.  She must summon everything within her to navigate this intricate web of moral ambiguity, deadly obsession, and craven gamesmanship. The Andalucian Friend is a powerhouse of a novel—turbo-charged, action-packed, highly sophisticated, and epic in scope—and announces Alexander Söderberg as the most exciting new voice in thrillers in a generation.

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, and snappers in his backyard. The critters, he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.  When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called Expedition Survival!, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s inept and egotistical star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger foolishly believes his own PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her father and needs a place to hide out.  They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun. . . It’s anyone’s guess who will actually survive Expedition Survival. . . .

The Paris Directive by Gerald Jay

In Berlin, two former French intelligence agents hire Klaus Reiner, a ruthlessly effective hit man, to eliminate an American industrialist vacationing in southwestern France. Reiner easily locates his target in the small village of Taziac, but the hit is compromised when three innocent people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enter Inspector Paul Mazarelle, formerly of Paris but now living in Taziac, charged with bringing his experience in the capital to bear on the gruesome quadruple homicide. Both Mazarelle’s investigation and Reiner’s assignment become complicated when Molly Reece, a New York City district attorney and daughter of two of the victims, arrives and begins asking questions. Though all evidence points to a local handyman, Mazarelle and Molly have their doubts, forcing Reiner to return to ensure they see things as he has arranged them—and that no one suspects the international political motives behind the murder.

The Quick Red Fox by John D. MacDonald

She’s the opposite of a damsel in distress: a famous movie star, very beautiful, very much in control of her life. She’s just made one little mistake and now she needs Travis McGee to set it right. The money is good and Travis’s funds are in need of replenishing. But that’s not the only reason he takes the case. There is the movie star’s assistant—efficient and reserved, with a sadness underneath that makes McGee feel he’d brave any danger to help her.

Sultry movie star Lysa Dean has gotten herself into a spot of blackmail, posing for naked photos while participating in a debauched party near Big Sur. If the pictures get out, Lysa’s engagement to her rich, strait laced fiancé doesn’t stand a chance. Enter Travis McGee, who’s agreed to put a stop to the extortion, working alongside Lysa’s assistant, Dana Holtzer. They begin by tracking down everyone associated with the lurid evening, and soon enough they’re led on a chase across the nation as murder after murder piles up. Further complicating matters, Travis and Dana’s relationship soon turns steamy. And just when he thinks he knows exactly where things are headed, one big twist shakes McGee’s life to the very foundation.

3 Picks From Scott

Last Call For The Living by Peter Farris

My favorite debut novel of 2012 is now available in paperback. Peter Farris tells the story of an unlikely bond formed by an Aryan Brotherhood bank robber and his hostage amid some grisly action. This book shows the promise of a great new voice on the crime scene.
Criminal Enterprises by Owen Laukkanen

Laukkanen brings back law enforcement agents Windermere and Stevens from his breakout debut, The Professionals. This time the two are after a sympathetic bank robber. Laukkanen has a knack for delivering a breakneck pace that never sacrifices strong characterization.
The Beggar’s Opera by Peggy Blair

For mystery fans who like foreign settings, try this debut that introduces us to Cuban police inspector Ricardo Ramirez. He has seventy-two hours to secure an indictment for the killer of a young boy before he leaves the country, all the while suffering from dementia that allows him to see the victims of his unsolved cases.

MysteryPeople Interview: Frank Bill

Donnybrook by Frank Bill

With just two books, including our Pick Of The Month Donnybrook, Frank Bill has become one of our favorite new authors. Frank seems to like us too, since he was willing to talk to us about fighting, writing, and movies.

MysteryPeople: Is it true you got the idea for Donnybrook by talking to a fellow martial arts student?

Frank Bill: Part of the idea came from a student I ran around with and studied with, yes. This was back in the mid-90’s. He worked for a printing company and the rumor around his work was that men were hosting these underground fights at unknown locations, but none of us ever went, that is if they even existed. But that rumor stuck in my head.
MP: The story has a loose and rollicking style, but it comes to a logical conclusion. How much of it had you planned out before you started writing?

FB: I never outline, so I never really plan anything. For me everything starts with a moving description. Followed by ideas and scenes I scribble down in my journal. Then type them out to hardcopy. Print them. Line edit and build everything from there by re-writing and revising obsessively.
MP: One thing that’s remarkable about the book is how, you have several characters and plot lines, but there’s an incredible momentum to the narrative. Do that many characters make it a challenge or do they actually help you keep it moving?

FB: For me, the multiple plotlines/characters keep things moving. I have a hard time with attention, so my mind tends to bounce and wonder back and forth, hence my multiple story lines and the movement within them.
MP: Donnybrook has some of the best fight scenes I’ve read. What do you try to keep in mind when writing these kinds of moments?

FB: I break everything down the same as we did with my teachers when I studied and trained in martial arts. Its like choreographing the fight. Looking at the details of a situation and how one acts and reacts. Footing. Body mechanics. In some cases I actually stand up and go over it in mind, and in front of a mirror. Reflecting on how the body moves.

Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

MP: You wrote a great novel and one of the best short story collections in recent memory. Do you have a preference of either form?

FB: Thank you. I dig each of them, but I do like the novel, as there’s a bit more room to build the tension and offer backstory and characterization.
MP: There’s a visceral feel from your books you generally associate with film. Are there filmmakers who inspire you as much as authors?
FB: Tarantino, Rob Zombie, PT Anderson, Xavier Gen, Nicolas Winding Refn, Alejandro Gonzalez, Takashi Miike, David Ayer, Neil Labute, just to name a few.

MysteryPeople Review: SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT by Max Allan Collins

Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins

Review by Chris Mattix

If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for comic books. I grew up reading comics and, as such, they hold a very special place in my heart. When powerhouse publisher Hard Case Crime sent me a copy of the latest Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, Target Lancer novel I was pretty stoked, and then I read the description. Hot damn! This book is about comics!

Seduction of the Innocent is a Private Eye novel set during the 1950s witch hunt aimed at comic books and their questionable content. That’s right folks, those floppy little books most people think are just for kids were at one point considered a very real threat to the safety of America’s youth. Collins novel, while borrowing from the actual events of that time, is a fictionalized version–so don’t go quoting it as fact. The novel’s protagonist, Jack Starr, works as an investigator for Starr Syndication, a company who syndicates comic strips to newspapers. When a pop-psychologist is found dead after accusing Starr’s company of warping young minds, Jack finds himself in the midst of a crisis where everyone seems guilty and no one cares about the departed doctor.

Seduction of the Innocent is classic Collins. It’s punchy, funny, and fast-paced. It’s the kind of book you can’t help but finish in one sitting, and that’s what makes it so satisfying. Collins really hits the pulpy nail on the head. His characters are perfectly drawn, the violence is outlandish and nail biting, and the atmosphere is spot-on. The story takes place in New York City and Collins goes to great lengths to transport his readers there; using cross streets, landmarks, and cafes, Collins does the equivalent of dragging that little dude from the side of google maps and drops you right into the streets of old New York.

If you are a fan of comic books, PI stories, or just want a fun little mystery to spend an afternoon with, then you need to grab a copy of Seduction of the Innocent. It takes off like a rocket from the very first page and will having you grinning ear-to-ear until its clever conclusion. I really can’t say enough good things about Collins’ work here (and everywhere else for that matter). Get this book, grab an ice-cold coke (preferably in a bottle), and enjoy the hell out of Seduction of the Innocent.

MysteryPeople Review: EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES by Hilary Davidson

Evil in All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson

Review by Scott Montgomery

Evil In All Its Disguises has solidified Hilary Davidson’s Lily Moore as one of my favorite series heroines. Her books have all the trappings of an elegant thriller, that Davidson applies a gritty edge to, with the highs and lows of the locations she chooses, and the dark secrets her characters carry. What really keeps me reading is her engaging protagonist.

In Evil In All Its Disguises Lily’s job as a travel writer is the catalyst for the plot. Sent on a journey to Acapulco, a place that has a history with her favorite actress, Ava Gardner, Lily finds herself with fellow travel writers in a hotel that has seen better times. Davidson uses her own background in this field to delve into the different personalities in this occupation; providing much of the book’s humor. It does get serious however, when one of her colleagues, Skylar, disappears after she tells Lily she’s working on an expose’ that will bring someone in the travel industry down. As Lily looks into the disappearance, things become more dangerous, especially when her unscrupulous ex-boyfriend, Martin Sklar, becomes involved.

As with all her books, Davidson uses the setting as a supporting character. From its luxurious resort areas, to drug cartel run streets, Acapulco comes off live an aging once glamorous femme fatale who can turn on you at any time. She creates an interesting tension with the hotel that first serves as a sanctuary from the streets, but soon reveals as many creepy secrets; enough to rival Stephen King’s Overlook, as it soon turns into a prison.

When it comes down to it, it’s the character of Lily that makes the book an involving read. Davidson realizes that her fans know Lily has the ability to pull herself together and find strength in times of trouble, and she uses this to move the plot. What Lily is mainly confronted with are emotional wounds that haven’t fully healed. While the book can be read as a standalone, there will probably be more books featuring Lily in the future, it serves as the end of a trilogy for Lily by getting her to a certain point in her life. Davidson achieves this in a way both unexpected,  and yet in the only way the character could find that moment of grace.

Evil in All Its Disguises is a pairing of plot and character. It has all the the trappings of a Hitchcockian thriller, with the gritty tone and dark psychology to rival your tougher noir. But any way you look at her, Lily Moore is a character I root for and hope to see more of in the future.