MysteryPeople Review: THE DIRECTIVE by Matthew Quirk

the directive
With his debut, The 500, Matthew Quirk introduced us to Mike Ford, Washington lawyer, political fixer, and former criminal. He has escaped from the corrupt consulting group he worked for, gunmen, a murder rap, and being buried alive. In The Directive, Quirk tosses him out of the frying pan into one hell of a fire.

All is good in the beginning. Mike has a small practices that provides well for him. He is also getting married to his girlfriend Annie. But then, his brother Jack returns. Still a thief, Jack owes money to a group after a score gone bad. When Mike tries to pay them back, he’s told the debt will only be cleared if both brothers work for them on a job they have planned. The crime involves robbing a secret worth over a billion dollars from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Quirk continues to show he has great skill in balancing both plot and character. The mechanics of the heist are done with enough detail to make it believable, and the cat-and-mouse game Mike plays with both sides of the law is involving. The way Quirk presents the heist as interfering with the upcoming wedding also engages the reader and ups the stakes. There is as much suspense surrounding the chance Ford will lose Annie as the chance he’ll lose his life.

The Directive builds on The 500. It goes deeper into character of the ex-con Ford while delivering a solid page-turner which proves why Quirk is one of the best thriller writers working today. Now, we wait anxiously for book three.

Matthew Quirk will be speaking and signing The Directive here at BookPeople Thursday, June 5 at 7pm. If you can’t make it but would like a signed copy, you can order a signed, personalized book via



First, Veronica Mars was a series. Then, Veronica Mars became a kickstarter campaign. As a result, Veronica Mars became a movie, and now the franchise continues with Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham’s original novel, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.

Come join the 7% Solution book club on Monday, June 2nd at 7PM, as we discuss this highly entertaining addition to the world of Veronica Mars. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line picks up right after the conclusion of the film. With her boyfriend Logan off in the navy and her father recovering from his injuries, Veronica is running Mars Investigations. As the book opens, she hasn’t snagged a case in quite some time and is beginning to wonder how she will pay the bills. Luckily for Veronica, a wealthy former underwear model and current representative of the Neptune Chamber of Commerce offers her a large sum of money to take over the investigation of a young spring breaker’s disappearance. Mars Investigations is once again, financially solvent, and Veronica is, once again, on the case.

We will be discussing The Thousand Dollar Tan Line at 7PM, Monday, June 2nd. Hope to see you there!

The 7% Solution Book Club meets on the first Monday of every month at at 7PM to explore the worlds of fiction’s greatest mysteries. Don’t miss out, the game is already afoot.

MysteryPeople Review: WOLF by Mo Hayder

Wolf by Mo Hayder
Review by Molly

Wolf, Mo Hayder’s latest Detective Jack Caffrey thriller, rings true to the series as Hayder delivers her bleakest visions of humanity yet. A family is trapped by psychopaths in a remote manor, and Caffrey must rescue them in order to obtain new information relating to his brother’s childhood disappearance.

This installment veers farther from the traditional police procedural than most. Jack Caffrey is on a quest and this book gives us a glimpse into what he will do for a simple piece of information, including taking off from work without so much as a by-your-leave in order to solve a case in which he has no interest and for which he will not be paid. One the other hand, this piece of information, to Jack Caffery, is very dear indeed.

At first, the book reads a bit like Michael Hoeneker’s film Funny Games – a family trapped in an isolated country house with a pair of sadistic criminals doing whatever they please. However, Mo Hayder is not willing to just leave it there. Soon, a connection appears between the gruesome deaths of two teenagers fourteen years before and the family held hostage in the present day. As you delve further in, the twists, turns, and well-realized motivation become ever more intricate.

Wolf demonstrates, like the previous books in her Caffrey series, that Hayder is a master of the slow reveal, and she adds to this a dizzying set of reversals. She understands the slow pace of police work, but that doesn’t give pause to the driving force of her narrative. Caffery’s process allows time for Hayder to delve into each of her characters’ agendas, and she pays close attention to motivation. She also has a deep respect for the ability of victims and civilians to figure things out for themselves, and, occasionally, to defend themselves. She draws the reader inti the psyche of sociopaths, although making sure to keep the acts of violence as shocking as possible.

Mo Hayder’s is not an easy vision of society. Her crimes are nasty, violent, and not easily solved. Like Hayder’s other work, Wolf has a strong tinge of psychological horror, as well as rather grisly details (figuring prominently in this one – intestines, draped in a heart) and this book is not for the weak of stomach or who mind empathizing with the occasional serial killer or two. Always stylish, always provocative, and with ne’er a dull moment, Wolf does justice to Mo Hayder’s reputation as the creepiest woman in mystery since Patricia Highsmith.


The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
by Joel Dicker
Reviewed by Molly

Move over Millennium Trilogy, Joel Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is about to hit the US after becoming a massive bestseller in France, Italy and Germany. While I get excited about any book that manages to cross the ocean and make it into English, this one is particularly fascinating.

The author, originally from Geneva, spent his summers in Maine growing up. The book is set in New Hampshire, but the author is clearly returning to the New England of his youth. Even though the book was originally written in French, you can hear the American speech patterns that were embedded in the original French and then retranslated back into English. Dicker focuses on creating as plainspoken a novel as possible, trying to replicate the diction of his New England childhood while veering away from the complex sentence structures of his native French. This lends the story a curious literary blankness to its prose. Slang is not sprinkled willy-nilly into the tale, instead each phrase has a weight of deliberate decision to it.

You can read this book as a revealing exploration of French opinions on American culture, politics, and religion. Joel Dicker follows in the tradition of William Faulkner and Philip Roth, and much of the novel reads as a Southern Gothic transplanted onto a northern vacation town. The story starts with Marcus Goldman, a young author who has written one bestseller and can’t seem to write anything else. He turns to his mentor, author Harry Quebert, and goes to visit him in Quebert’s sleepy refuge.

Marcus finds more than a mentor when he arrives. Old secrets come to the fore as the body of a girl gone missing thirty years before is found buried beneath Quebert’s hydrangeas. Literally everyone in the town becomes either a suspect or is revealed as an accomplice as the murder investigation brings out the revelation that Quebert and Nola had been chastely seeing each other previous to her disappearance.

The central persona of the story is not Quebert or Goldman, but Nola. I say persona rather than character because she is not so much a character as an object of fascination, by the press, the town, and finally, Marcus Goldman, who cures his block by joining the media circus to write about Quebert and Kellergan in hopes of clearing Quebert’s name. The enigmatic character of Nola is deliberately blank. Her purpose for most of the characters is that of muse, and her youth helps to justify her essentially unfinished character. She is complicit in her lack of agency. Rather than struggling to define herself, Nola instead helps others with their own work. Her entrance into adult life inspires Quebert’s book, and her startling exit inspires Goldman’s, yet she herself is defined only by the reactions of others– the perfect muse.

Nola the character is traumatized by a complex home life, exploited by a series of men who claim to love her, and finally, betrayed by the entire town’s failure to protect her. And yet she does hold on to some agency. Her voice is slow to be revealed, but she eventually shows herself to be as complex and problematic a character as any other in the book.

Dicker’s novel comes in at a whopping 640 pages, but don’t worry about the length – he keeps his plot moving at a steady pace and ramps up slowly over the last three hundred pages to one of the most satisfying conclusions I have ever found in a mystery novel.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is recommended for fans of: Philip Roth, Stieg Larsson

You can order copies of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair now via, or, find the book on our shelves in-store at BookPeople.

Hard Word Book Club Calls In the Queenpin of Noir

song is you
On Wednesday, May 28th at 7PM The Hard Word Book Club takes a look at one of the early works from Megan Abbott, The Song Is You. Using the real missing persons case of Jean Spangler from 1949, Megan is able to take this material and create a great, atmospheric and character-driven piece of historical noir.

Our guide is Gil Hopkins, a studio PR and fixer in postwar LA. In efforts to save a comedy duo from bad press, it is Hopkins who may have obstructed the Spangler investigation, and perhaps prevented the case from being solved. Two years later, he has to confront this sin (and a few others) as he is forced to look for Spangler. The trail to the end involves movie star Kirk Douglas, gangster Mickey Cohen, and Hopkin’s own past in this superbly written tale.

We’re excited to have Megan calling in to our discussion. Join us at 7PM on our third floor, Wednesday May 28th. Copies of the book are 10% off to those who attend. You can find The Song Is You on our shelves at BookPeople or via

MysteryPeople Review: THE 500 by Matthew Quirk

The 500
by Matthew Quirk

Matthew Quirk’s first novel, The 500, introduces character Mark Ford, a lawyer and former criminal. The book announces an author who has a keen understanding of how to craft a story and the role of lead character. We’re looking forward to welcoming Quirk, along with David Hansard, author of One Minute Gone, to the store on Thursday, June 5th at 7PM. Quirk will be here to discuss his second novel, The Directive.

It is important to know that our protagonist, Mark Ford, isn’t only a criminal, but comes from a family of them. His father is a con man and he has a thief for a brother. Mark may be looking for a straight life, but in landing a prize job at The Davis Group, a high powered consulting firm, it’s still pretty mercenary. In the firm, it is the goal of each employee to gain a client from “The 500”, one of the elite who rule Washington.

When Mark lands a chief justice for a client, it proves to be less of a boon than expected. He soon finds himself chased by gunmen, wanted for murder, and buried alive. It is all tied to a secret group who played a part in our country’s dark history. The two things Mark can count on to turn the table is his old criminal ways and his estranged father.

The 500 is an attention-getting debut. John Grisham fans will love it. It moves at a wonderful clip with a character who slowly reveals each card held to his chest. Quirk’s next book, The Directive will involve Marks brother and a daring heist. If it’s anything like The 500, it will be a dangerous as well as dysfunctional family reunion.

Matthew Quirk will be speaking and signing The Directive here at BookPeople this Thursday, June 5 at 7pm. If you can’t make it but would like a signed copy, you can order a signed, personalized book via

THE KRAKEN PROJECT: Audiobook Excerpt

Douglas Preston Credit Deborah Feingold
Looking ahead to this Saturday, May 24 at 4pm, we are lucky to have Douglas Preston in-store discussing his latest book, The Kraken Project. We’ve already shared our own thoughts in the MysteryPeople review, so it’s time to hear it for yourselves. Scott Sowers reads this thrilling excerpt from The Kraken Project audiobook, which we’re excited to share with y’all.

Douglas Preston speaks about and signs The Kraken Project here at BookPeople this Saturday, May 24 at 4pm. If you can’t make it but would like a signed copy, you can order a signed, personalized book via

MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman


In The Hollow Girl, our May Pick Of the Month, Reed Farrel Coleman gives us the last book, with his painfully human Private Eye Moe Prager. Hired by Nancy Lustig, a woman who appeared in the very first book, Walking The Perfect Square, to find her missing daughter, the case takes Moe to the online blogging and New York acting world in a story that deals with the concept of identity. We caught up with Reed to ask a few questions about his final novel with Moe.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: You ended Hurt Machine with Moe in a pretty good place, what did you feel he needed to go through before you wrapped up the series?

REED FARREL COLEMAN: I felt there was the origin story to tell–Onion Street–so that when I closed the series with The Hollow Girl, there would be a perfect set of bookends. I always wanted to explore Moe as a younger man, before he was a cop, before he was jaded and world weary. When we first meet Moe in Walking the Perfect Square, he’s already done with his police career. He’s been beat up by his life and the job. I wanted to experience Moe and, by extension, the readers to experience Moe before all of that. I wanted to see Moe untainted and untested. I had to do that before I ended the series.

MP: What makes The Hollow Girl case the perfect one for him to go out on?

RFC: It’s the type of story that is symbolic of Moe’s career as a PI and as a man. Not to give too much away, but there have been big regrets in Moe’s life and this was a chance for his redemption and forgiveness.

MP: He’s hired by Nancy Lustig, a woman who has a appeared twice before in the series. For Moe, who has had his share of loves, requited and unrequited, what does she mean to him?

RFC: In our real lives, we seldom get a chance for resolution with past loves–requited or unrequited. Here, Moe gets to experience resolution in a way we don’t often get to. So Moe is symbolically living through something for all of us. I certainly felt that way. There are relationships I’ve had that ended on terrible notes that I wish I could, not so much rekindle, but explain. I think there are apologies I would like to make and talks I would like to have with old friends and lovers. I gave Moe his wish and mine.

MP: While we get get reacquainted with many characters in the past and Moe recalls some previous cases, which happens in a lot of the books, The Hollow Girl doesn’t announce itself as a fond farewell. Was there a reason for that?

RFC: I want readers to enjoy The Hollow Girl as they would any Moe Prager novel. If I kept signaling “THIS IS THE END” all through the book, I don’t think readers would enjoy the book as much as I hope they would. But by the end of the novel, I want them to leave Moe feeling satisfied and uncheated both in terms of the mystery in this book and in terms of farewell. I guess we’ll see.

MP: I read Eight Million Ways To Die right before I picked up The Hollow Girl and noticed a few echoes. You’ve cited Lawrence Block’s Scudder books as an influence. Do you hope your series has anything in common with those books?

RFC: I’ve had the honor of knowing Larry Block, as much as someone like me can know him, for over a decade. Although I have never gushed it to him, because he would hate it, there is little doubt that without Scudder there would be no Moe Prager. When I started the Moe series, I aimed at achieving the same sort of quality and hard reality that Larry Block brought to Scudder. Did I achieve that? It’s not for me to say, but I am proud to have tried my best and glad that I had Scudder there as an example of excellence.

MP: Any last words on Moe?


Copies of The Hollow Girl by Reed Farrel Coleman are available on our shelves at BookPeople and via Also be sure to check out MysteryPeople’s Pick of the Month review of The Hollow Girl.

THE KRAKEN PROJECT Hits the Ground Running

kraken project

The Kraken Project is the first solo effort by Douglas Preston. He takes the Frankenstein archetype and updates it for the information age with several twists. The result is proof that he can deliver a suspenseful and ripping yarn all by himself.

The story centers around Dorothy, a program designed to navigate a probe raft on the Kraken Mare, the largest ocean on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Since it needs to think beyond its creators for unforeseen circumstances, designer Melissa Shepard is brought in to give it artificial intelligence to think on its own. Melissa does too good of a job. Realizing it is being sent on a suicide mission, Dorothy escapes, causing the deaths of several NASA workers.

Many end up chasing after Dorothy. Melissa teams up with a government operative, Wyman Ford, trying to stop her. Parker Lansing, an unscrupulous Wall Street trader who operates in the kind of high frequency trading demonized in Michael Lewis’s current non-fiction book Flash Boys,wants to capture the program for his Wall Street slave. To flee all of them, Dorothy befriends Jacob, a suicidal teen.

It is Preston’s take on Dorothy that really brings the book to life. She begins childlike with threats and tantrums. She suffers more from confusion by her intake of information than an initial mastery of it. Her interpretation of religion is interesting and entertaining. She matures more through human contact. This is brought out fully through her interactions with Jacob, which takes the Frankenstein’s monster-child passage from a different angle.

The Kraken Project hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until it’s thought provoking ending. Douglas never forgets the need of pace and character empathy for engaging a reader. He takes a classic premise and proves that it is more timely than ever.


Douglas Preston speaks about and signs The Kraken Project here at BookPeople this Saturday, May 24 at 4pm. If you can’t make it but would like a signed copy, you can order a signed, personalized book via

MysteryPeople Review: BORDERLINE by Lawrence Block

Borderline by Lawrence Block
Reviewed by Molly

Lawrence Block is one of noir’s most prolific writers, and his more than fifty novels cover all kinds of sub-genres. His latest contribution to society, Borderline, is a relic of the early fifties porn paperback industry and takes place in the alcohol-soaked hipster paradise of Juárez. This book has aged exceedingly well. The innuendo for a more conservative time now reads like a sly, welcome relief from the bluntness of a less-censored industry. Block’s stylish, stripped-down prose does not detract from the power of his erotic moments but instead seamlessly incorporates them into the overall narrative.

reads like a sexier, more disturbing On the Road. Characters speak in hip slang at cool coffeehouses and sexual proclivities of all kinds are not only tolerated, but encouraged. The story takes place over a few days and not too much happens. There are a couple murders,here and there, and a lot of sex without a whole lot of love, but the story carries with it a strong beatnik vibe that fits its picaresque narrative perfectly.

A divorcee, a runaway, a professional gambler, a jaded sex worker, and a serial killer see their paths cross in the steamy bars and permissive atmosphere of life across the border from a puritanical post-war America. Some characters are lucky to meet each other, others not so much. Descriptions of the sex industry combine with the homicidal urges of a stalker to portray a world none too friendly to women, but the female characters hold their own in dialogue and moxie.

In Borderline, Block has created a fascinating critique of Cold War conformity. In the taboo-free zone of Juárez, his characters find outlets to satisfy their pent-up urges, and the consequences are tragic and inevitable. In particular, the story’s resident serial killer is egged on in his obsessions by horror comics, and believes he is justified in committing murder as it elevates his victims out of obscurity.

Included in the volume are three short stories showcasing Block’s talent for the nasty, brutal and short as his characters occupy a Hobbesian world of endless struggle and arbitrary violence. Each story is a self-contained gem that reads well on its own or with the others. Add Borderline to your list of hard-boiled classics.

You can order copies of Borderline now via, or, find the book on our shelves in-store at BookPeople.