Crime Fiction Friday: THUMP by Graham Bowlin


Sometimes I come across a short story that as soon as I read it, I want to share it with everyone I can think of. In under seven hundred words (one of the requirements for the great net-zine, Shotgun Honey), Graham Bowlin gives us punchy-yet-believable dialogue, sharp alliteration, pathos, and a good twist. I will now be looking for his other work.

“Thump” by Graham Bowlin

“When you called me man, I just couldn’t believe it,” Ray said into the bastard sun slicing through the windshield of the floor model Dodge Ram. “Never figured I’d even drive one of these. Forget owning.”

“If this is the one that you want,” the Salesman said. “You got an entire showroom to test drive, buddy.”

“Outta all the people, you called me. Just totally random?”

“Completely. Now maybe blue eyed Lisa saw your name, got all tingled, and pulled you outta the hat on purpose.”

Click here to read the full story.

Ten Books To Look Forward To in 2015

With great noteworthy novels like Mette Ivie Harrison’s The Bishop’s Wife and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train already coming out, 2015 could bring a plethora of crime fiction treasure. From new additions to old series, to new editions of old series, and debuts from many promising novelists, here are some books to look out for during this new year.

1. Canary by Duane Swierczynski

Swierczynski always knows how to spin a great yarn. This one, about a college girl forced to be an informant for an ambitious Philly narcotics detective, is one of his finest. A bit more realistic than his previous work, he gives us his humor, pace, and sharply defined characters at a more streetwise level. Canary hits the shelves February 24th. Pre-order now.

2. Hush, Hush by Laura Lippman

Tess Monaghan returns. After three years, and now a mother with a new partner (Sandy Sanchez, the protagonist of Lippman’s excellent 2014 book, After I’m Gone), the Baltimore PI is thrown into a case dealing with parenthood, the insanity defense, and reality TV. Lippman’s work has proved she is one of the best writers in the field and it will be great to have a fully formed PI heroine like Tess back. Hush, Hush hits the shelves February 24th. Pre-order now.

3. Where All The Light Tends To Go by David Joy

Already the front runner for best debut of 2015. A young North Carolina man is caught between his love for a girl and his quest to get out of their small town and the dark shadow of his father’s criminal business. Poetic and poignant with sudden bursts of cold violence, Joy uses voice and character to speak directly and emotionally to his readers. Where All The Light Tends To Go hits the shelves March 3rd. Pre-order now.

4. GHB by Ted Lewis

Syndicate Books will be reprinting this hard-to-find British crime novel about a smut kingpin rooting out those responsible for bringing down his empire. Syndicate’s reissues of Lewis’ tough and terse Jack Carter trilogy have me primed for GBH, his final and often considered finest work. GBH hits the shelves March 3rd. Pre-order now.

5.Lady From Zagreb by Phillip Kerr

Kerr brings back Bernie Gunther. This time the German wartime private eye is forced to do a favor for Joseph Goebbels that deals with the Nazi film industry and Croatia. Few weave plot, period, character, and thematics together as well as Kerr. Lady From Zagreb hits the shelves April 7th. Pre-order now.

6. A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge by Terry Shames

The latest Samuel Craddock mystery has the widowed small town chief of police trying to help his neighbor, Jenny Sandstone when she is threatened. In order to help, he must delve into a past she wants kept private. Shames has hinted at the possibility of these to developing a deeper relationship, so this could be a game changer in one hell of a well written series. A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge hits the shelves April 15th. Pre-order now.

7. Robert B. Parker’s Kickback by Ace Atkins

Spenser and Hawk are hired to look into a questionable reform camp it’s connection to a questionable judge. Atkins has taken on the Spenser character without missing a beat; bringing him back to full glory. Robert B. Parker’s Kickback hits the shelves May 19th. Pre-order now.

6. The Reluctant Matador by Mark Pryor

Hugo Marston leaves Paris for Spain, with CIA buddy Tom Green, to track down a friend’s missing daughter. I’m sure this book will turn into something else with plenty of surprise, action, and banter between Marston and Green. Kickback hits the shelves June 2nd. Pre-order now.

9. Shaker by Scott Frank

The premise of Shaker immediately intrigued me. A hitman’s life is thrown into violent chaos when he’s mistaken for a hero. What really has me anticipating it, is that it will be the debut novel of Scott Frank, the screenwriter who adapted Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, and A Walk Among The Tombstones and whose directing debut The Lookout was one of the best crime movies in the last ten years. This could be the debut of a great new author in the genre. August. Shaker hits the shelves in August 2015. Pre-order now.

10. Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

Last year, Reed Farrel Coleman wrapped up one of the best mystery series with his Moe Prager character. This fall he will introduce us to his new creation, Gus Murphy, a retired Suffolk County cop turned private detective. Coleman always delivers, with an engaging plot and character as well as a poetic look at human emotion. Where It Hurts hits the shelves in autumn. We’ll bring you more details as it gets closer to the date.

MysteryPeople Review: MR. KISS AND TELL, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

mr kiss and tell-Post by Molly

When I first came to the world of detective novels, as a fresh-faced blond suburbanite whose thoughts did not match her surroundings, I worried that I would never find the hard-boiled equivalent of me. Horror fans had Buffy and Willow, the fantasy world had Xena and Gabrielle. Crime fiction, seemingly written exclusively from a male point-of-view, had only dames, hookers, and the occasional wife or girlfriend, but no female figures to identify with as reader. I had yet to learn of the long history of renowned female crime fiction novelists, many of whom are long out of print, and others recently returned to the shelf.

When a family friend lent me Veronica Mars, I instantly fell in love with the series and its tough-talking heroine. Veronica Mars passed the Bechdel Test with flying colors in her strong friendships with women and her refusal to accept stereotypical roles. When the TV show ended, I said my sad farewell to my favorite detective heroine, but I should have known, in the era of fandom and the internet, nothing that good ever goes away forever.

And so Veronica Mars and her helpful cohort of misfits returned; first in a film, and now in a book series.The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, the first Veronica Mars Investigation novel, came out last year and picked up right where the film left off. In true Veronica Mars fashion, Veronica’s private life and private investigations become quickly intertwined as the search to find a missing spring breaker turns into a jarring confrontation with Veronica’s mother, searching for her missing stepdaughter in a case that appears to be linked to the previous disappearance.

Rob Thomas’ latest continuation of the series, Mr. Kiss and Tell, released on January 20th, has Veronica once again disrupting the lives of Neptune’s high and mighty when she is hired by the staff at the Neptune Grande to investigate a rape allegation against one of their staff members. Little does the hotel know that Veronica Mars is always the victim’s advocate, no matter who hires her. Memories of her own sexual assault return as she doggedly pursues every lead to locate the assailant, but more than one hidden truth must come out before Veronica can find her way towards the perpetrator and an appropriate punishment to fit the deed.

Mr. Kiss and Tell is tightly plotted, with the same complex morality, witty dialogue, and diabolical sleuthing of the series. Rob Thomas enjoys his freedom from the strictures of the television world, and is using the books to incorporate a wider cast of characters and locales, as well as to explore his characters’ thoughts with the intimacy of third person omniscient narration. Mr. Thomas has taken Veronica Mars from a series, to a film, to a book series, and here’s to the Veronica-verse – may it be, like our own, ever-expanding.

Copies of Mr. Kiss and Tell: A Veronica Mars Investigation are available on our shelves and via Rob Thomas comes to BookPeople Friday, January 30, at 7 pm on BookPeople’s second floor. The speaking portions of all BookPeople events are free and open to the public; you must purchase a book to enter the signing line. Can’t make it to the event? You can order a copy of the book to be signed on our website!

Want to discuss the book with your favorite mystery book club, the 7% Solution? We will meet Monday, February 2, at 7 pm on BookPeople’s third floor, to discuss this wonderful read.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Craig Johnson

This month, we’ve been celebrating the tenth anniversary of Craig Johnson’s first Longmire novel, The Cold Dish, heralding in a decade of Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire, one of the best heroes to come out of the beginning of the millennium. We caught up with Craig before he flew off to France, where the character is just as popular, to talk about his time with Walt.

MysteryPeople: What has been the best thing about your ten years with Walt?

Craig Johnson: In all honesty, Walt Longmire began as a man on borrowed time. He was intended to be in a stand-alone novel so I packed as much as I could about him in that one volume because I was sure that was the only chance I was going to get. When Viking/Penguin approached me about continuing the character as a series it gave me an opportunity to open up all those aspects of Walt’s character and life that I felt got shorted with the first novel. I think that might be the best thing, continually discovering Walt.

MP: How have you tackled a series character who was originally intended to be in a standalone novel?

CJ: I’m sure I could’ve done it better if I’d planned for it, but The Cold Dish was written with a focus on character rather than plot. As Voltaire used to say, clever ideas come and go… I think the key was the creation of Walt and the ensemble of characters that surround him; they’re not very good at staying put physically, intellectually, or emotionally—kind of like the rest of us. The nice thing is that the original novel gave me a treasure trove of information about the characters and their world, if I was just smart enough to go back and refer to it.

MP: How has Longmire changed since The Cold Dish?

CJ: In the first novel the reader is given a chronically depressed narrator grieving for his departed wife who can barely get out of bed in the mornings. It’s the case in The Cold Dish that brings him back to life and it’s the subsequent cases that keep him going.  Walt’s become more dynamic and connected, but there will always be difficulties on his horizon. I just think he’s more equipped to deal with them now.

MP: I know Walt’s age was one of the reasons you made each novel take place in the season following the next, instead of each year like many, but what were some unexpected virtues of doing it that way?

CJ: There’s only a month or two between novels, which gives the series a sense of continuity; it’s very difficult for the characters to ignore the things that happened only a few weeks ago. The other thing it provides is that evolving backdrop of the contemporary American West; not only the seasons, but also the social, economic and political landscapes that are constantly changing and keeping it vital.

MP: As a writer, what makes a character worth coming back to?

CJ: There’s his sense of humor, but I think it’s the fact that he’s a good guy, a guy you can depend on to do the right thing. I’m not saying Walt’s a Pollyanna, he’ll bend the rules when he has to and he’s capable of some pretty spectacular ferocity, but he always does these things for a very substantial reason. When I was talking to the head producer and person responsible for developing the TV show, Longmire, she said she felt that the viewing audience might have had enough of the anti-hero and that maybe they were ready for a man like Walt. A man, as my grandfather used to say, covered the ground he stood on.

MP: You said in an early interview that Walt is a man you’d like to be one day. He’s ages three years to your ten. Have you gotten any closer?

CJ: Not one damn bit.

Copies of Craig Johnson’s Longmire novels can be found on our shelves and via

Crime Fiction Friday: THE KILLING TYPE, by Maggie Estep

With everybody dealing with the cold, we wanted to take you someplace warm this week. Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder (crime fiction posted every Monday, each piece set in a different locale and under 750 words) was the place to go. Maggie Estep’s “The Killing Time”, set in Cancun, takes us far away from winter cold. This author weaves a strong thread of humor through her writing, so you can laugh while you warm up.

“The Killing Time,” by Maggie Estep

The sun wasn’t thinking about rising yet. Neither was Lincoln, the guy I had come to Cancun with.

I’d really like to take you to Cancun, baby, he’d said two weeks earlier, on our third date.

I laughed.

“What’s funny about that?”

I pictured high-rise resort buildings choking coastline. Portly Americans choking resort buildings. Me choking Lincoln.

“Nothing,” I said.

Click here to read the full story.

Crime Fiction Friday: MORE RIGHT THAN WRONG, by Tim O’Mara


Tim O’Mara is a writer who just keeps on getting better and better, as proved by his latest Ray Donne mystery, Dead Red, which was released this week. Here he gives us a tale of payment due for past sins.

“More Right Than Wrong,” by Tim O’Mara

At first, Dr. Stuart Wiseman thought the stabbing pain in his lower back was his sciatica acting up again and he was pretty annoyed about that. He’d been taking his medications, no longer sleeping on his side, doing all the stretches. What the hell?

It took about five seconds for him to realize the stabbing pain was a stabbing pain; someone was actually sticking a knife under his sports jacket and into his back, just above the belt. His anger turned to fear as someone leaned into his ear and whispered, “If I push this and twist, I’ll be gone before you hit the sidewalk.”

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MysteryPeople Review: DEAD RED, by Tim O’Mara

With Sacrifice Fly and Crooked Numbers, Tim O’Mara created a series that had me hooked. His books featuring New York ex-cop turned high school teacher, Raymond Donne, have developed into smart comfort reads, giving the reader an engaging plot with a human touch and social awareness that never comes off preachy. With his latest, Dead Red, O’Mara steps up his game even more.

O’Mara has established his characters in previous novels: now he lets them run and run they do. The first sentence puts us right in the middle of an execution inside a cab that Donne survives. The cabbie, Ricky Torres, recently returned from service in Iraq and a fellow officer from his police days, has something he needs to tell Ray. The bullets, unfortunately, interrupt their conversation. This kicks off the mystery and a new direction in the series.

While the first two books dealt with the students in Donne’s present occupation, this murder pushes him back into his police past. He finds himself having to team up with his former partner, Jack Knight, now working as a PI. Knight had Ricky helping him search for the missing daughter of a PR mogul. Ray doesn’t seem to have many good memories about the partnership, but he must renew their partnership to get to the bottom of the mystery.

O’Mara works on all cylinders as a storyteller. It is his best plotting yet with a story of love, guns, and politics moving at a steady canter with a great number of twists and turns. He is able to perfectly slip in all of Ray’s friends and family we have gotten to know and subtlety integrates themes of partnership and duty. The story also forces Ray to confront his former profession in a way that he’s been dodging before.

Dead Red works as a great introduction to Ray Donne and is an extreme pleasure to those already invested in the series. O’Mara, in his latest, shows the progress Sacrifice Fly promised. He also demonstrates that there is more to come; for the characters, and for the series.

Copies of  Dead Red are available on our shelves and via

Ten Years of Walt Longmire


This month marks the tenth anniversary of Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish being published. For the last ten years (little over three years in his fictional lifespan with each book representing a season in his life), Walt Longmire, Wyoming sheriff, has appeared in ten books, two novellas, and inspired a television show that even the stupidity of programming executives couldn’t kill. It is interesting that such a traditional, even old fashioned, character becomes one of the more popular heroes for the beginning of the new millennium.

The tension between old and new is what creates much of the drama in the series. Walt may be an old fashioned lawman but many of the crimes, like human trafficking, are not. Those wide open Wyoming spaces have allowed outlaws to practice with little interference until Walt catches wind. When hunting down killers and criminals, very few of his techniques are modern. No CSI, no SWAT, not even a cell phone. Just doggedness and a knowledge of his place, especially its people.

Community is what defines Walt Longmire as a hero. Few authors have dealt with the relationship between a lawman and the society he serves like Craig Johnson has, particularly in the first five books. These five cover an election Walt is running in, yet wondering if he still wants. It helps to set up the political nature of his job. His main skill is knowing who to call upon for assistance. We see it completely at work in Kindness Goes Unpunished, where he is stuck in Philadelphia and has to build a group of allies from the ground up.

The idea of an old school hero also plays into the tension of how Walt taps into the best of western tradition to correct its sins. The fifth book, The Dark Horse, was initially titled “Horses And Women”, a fragment of the western saying “This land is paradise for men and dogs, hell for horses and women.”In it Walt goes to another Wyoming town to help clear a woman charged with murdering her husband. The town seems convinced of her guilt not only because of the frame up, but because she is a woman who stands out.

The responsibility of the present to make up for the past is often seen in Walt’s dealing with American Indians. Walt’s relationship with the American Indian past and present is closely examined with his friendship with chief (no pun intended) ally, Henry Standing Bear. Oddly enough, it is also the source of much of the humor the books’ humor. Walt is both buffer and bridge between his jurisdiction of Absoroka County and the Cheyenne reservation. It’s perfectly fitting that when he’s alone, in desperate straits, a vision of an Indian often helps him. The vision may also be telling him, he’s also more spiritually aware than he realizes.

Craig Johnson has created a man of cohesive paradoxes that we’ve watched play out and with one another. He’s a reclusive man who is saved by his community as much as he has saved it. It is something deals with more as each turn of the earth brings in a new season in his life. Most of all he embodies the the need of his community and its institutions to be strong for individuality to survive and thrive. Here’s to many more years of Walt being able to protect and serve.

You can find all the volumes of Craig Johnson’s Longmire Series on our shelves and via

MysteryPeople Q&A with Mette Ivie Harrison

Our January Pick of the Month, Mette Ivie Harrison’s The Bishop’s Wife, has been getting a lot of buzz. The book, loosely based on at true crime in Utah, looks at a crime within a Mormon community from the perspective of the Temple Bishop’s wife. Mette, who has penned serveral YA novels, delivered a mystery like a seasoned practitioner, fully using the form’s ability to explore a subculture and several issues. We caught up to her to discuss the novel and her approach to it.

MysteryPeople: Your story is loosely based on the disappearance of Susan Powell and the years-later murder-suicide of her husband and children. What was it about the the real crime that made you want to use it for a story?

Mette Ivie Harrison: The real disappearance of Susan Powell unfolded in Utah over a period of years, and even now that Josh (the real life husband) and the two boys are dead, no one knows where Susan’s body is. That was a great mystery to begin with.

But as a Mormon, I wondered how Josh was able to disguise himself so long within the church and why Susan was unable to ask for help. Some of the answers are the same as any abused wife, but some are tied to the Mormon doctrine of “forever families,” I think.

MP: As someone who has been involved with the Mormon Church what did you want to get across to the reader about it?

MIH: I wanted very much for Mormonism to be seen as a legitimate faith and not, as I have so often been accused, of being a cult. But I also feel strongly that refusing to acknowledge problems within the church makes us seem more secretive and less sympathetic.

MP: I thought it was interesting how it’s Linda’s skill as a mother that helps her follow what is going on. What did you want to explore about motherhood?

MIH: Of all my roles (wife, mother, author, athlete, daughter, Mormon) I feel most fulfilled and find most meaning as a mother and I wanted to write about a character who felt the same. I also wanted to write about a mother who had suffered an unbearable loss of her daughter, as I have.

Mormon culture, as most American culture, sometimes overlooks and underestimates mothers. Linda Wallheim plays on that and still is a powerful character who enacts change in her community for those she sees as her “children” in a broad sense. But it is not without cost.

MP: I thought you did a brilliant job of juxtaposing Linda’s internal thoughts with the dialogue. How did you approach a lead who felt she couldn’t always publicly say what she thinks?

MIH: That’s almost completely autobiographical. I write and think prodigiously, but don’t speak well in public for various reasons (autism runs in my extended family). All of my books in the YA world are known for strong internal monologue, though it doesn’t appeal to every reader. I think Linda loves people genuinely and tries to speak to them in a way that they can listen to. She is also only rarely confident she is right enough to act on her instincts, ignoring others.

MP: This being your first mystery, did you draw from any influences?

MIH: Linda and Kurt are named after Linda and Kurt Wallander in Henning Menkell’s wonderful series. I also probably draw a lot on the Kinsey Millhone books by Sue Grafton, who I have been reading for about 20 years.

MP: What did you take from writing YA into mystery?

MIH: YA demands quick dialog and a strong, unmistakable voice. Also I’ve spent years working on my fantasy world building skills, which came in handy depicting the Mormon world. But adult also allows more reflection, which I enjoy.

Copies of  The Bishop’s Wife are available on our shelves and via The Bishop’s Wife is our January MysteryPeople Pick of the Month – read the review.