Jenny Milchman’s Top Five Tales of Domestic Suspense

  • Guest post by Jenny Milchman

There’s a new genre in town, and it goes by the name of domestic suspense. Syndicated reviewer Oline Cogdill coined the term family thriller, which also suits it.

A family thriller focuses on a circumstance we can relate to. The kind of tale that could, given a slight twist of the knob, happen to us or someone we love. This novel takes ordinary people and places them in an extraordinary situation. What do they do then?

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown has been known for her best-selling romantic suspense thrillers for some time. In Sandra Brown’s latest, Friction, a Texas Ranger, trying to get custody of his daughter, falls for the judge in charge of his case. The judge has her own secrets, including a gunman stalker who just won’t give up. Sandra will be joining us Thursday, August 20th, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s second floor to speak and sign her latest romantic suspense thriller, Friction, but took some early questions from us about the book and her writing.

  • Interview by Michael Stuart

Michael Stuart: How did the idea for Friction come about?

Sandra Brown: I wanted to write about a contemporary Texas Ranger – because the lore of the Rangers has always fascinated me. My protagonist is Crawford Hunt, a man with“quick-draw” reflexes and a dangerous job where those reflexes are continually tested. His foe isn’t only the villain, but a custody battle for his five-year-old daughter. His desire to win his daughter back is in direct opposition to his career and his own impulses.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Jenny Milchman

Jenny Milchman writes thrillers, and she writes them extremely well. Her latest suspense novel, As Night Falls, is a home invasion novel with a twist (well, several twists). Two escaped convicts take shelter in a wealthy family’s home during a winter storm, holding the family hostage until they can make their escape. Interspersed between episodes of the family’s harrowing ordeal are increasingly disturbing scenes from a different family, set in the 1970s.

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The Hard Word Book Club Visits Chris Culver’s THE ABBEY

THE ABBEYThe Hard Word Book Club meets Wednesday, August 26th, at 7 pm, on BookPeople’s third floor, to discuss The Abbey, by Chris Culver.

This August, the Hard Word Book Club discusses one of MysteryPeople’s popular books. Chris Culver’s The Abbey was an online sensation that won the author a book deal for his series featuring Indianapolis Muslim police detective Ash Rashid. Rashid’s investigations take him to some truly dark sides of humanity and The Abbey is no exception.

The murder Ash deals with is very personal – the victim is his niece. Since her body is found in the home of one of the city’s rich and powerful, his few cops are unwilling to look to deep into it. Ash goes defies orders, following a trail of drugs, gangsters, and a subculture way too into vampirism that leads to a goth club known as “The Abbey.”

This is a fresh take on the cop novel. It blends noir and procedural with an with an engaging hero. It should make for a great discussion on Wednesday, August 26th, 7PM on the third floor. The book is 10% off at the register to those who attend.

Murder In The Afternoon Book Club to Discuss: MISSING PERSON by Patrick Modiano

missing personThe Murder in the Afternoon Book Club meets the third Tuesday of each month at 2 PM on BookPeople’s third floor. Please join us Tuesday, August 18, as we discuss Missing Person, by Patrick Modiano. 

When Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014, his work was little known and not widely translated in the English-speaking world. Thanks to Verba Mundi, who rushed many of his novels into print and have released them in elegant, slim volumes, we can now find out for ourselves the strength, beauty, and unease of Modiano’s prose. When I first heard Modiano’s name in connection to this prestigious prize, I looked him up to find that in addition to his many novels, he had also authored the screenplay for the French Revisionist WWII film Lacombe, Lucien, Louis Malle’s fictional follow-up to Max Ophul’s The Sorrow and The Pity.

The two films together represented a shift in French dialogue about WWII – previous to the 1960s and 1970s, French identity had relied on the preservation of the Gaullist myth, where most French had been good nationalist resistance fighters (as opposed to collaborators or communist resistance fighters). Then I found out that many of Modiano’s novels are considered detective novels, and when Modiano’s Missing Person showed up here at BookPeople in the mystery section, I couldn’t wait to choose it for one of my book clubs.

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Scott’s Top 10 (Okay, 12) Of 2015 So Far

Scott’s Top 10 (Okay, 12) Of The Year So Far

We are now in the last month of summer reading. If you want to go out with some quality crime fiction, here are some suggestions of books both talked about and deserving of attention. It was difficult to cut this list down and even when I did, I doubled up on a couple that shared a few traits.

the cartel1. The Cartel by Don Winslow

This mammoth, yet fast paced look at the war with the Mexican cartels is epic crime fiction at its finest. Full of emotion, great action, and sharply drawn characters, this book is destined to be on a lot of critics’ list for 2015 as well as becoming a classic. Even more entertaining, is that Winslow’s drug kingpin, Adan Barrera, has a lot in common with current fugitive Cartel boss, El Chapo.

bull mountainwhere all the light tends to go2. Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich & Where All Light Tends To Go by David Joy

Both of these rural noirs by debut authors show there is still a lot of life in the subgenre. These books view ideas of violence, kin, honor, and retribution with the eyes of an author with decades of experience and the energy of newcomer.

long and faraway gone3. The Long & Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

The ambitious novel balances three mysteries to look at the ripples of a violent act and the effect it has on the survivors. Great pacing and clean, accessable style allow for this rich, multi-character story to flow beautifully.

bishops wife4. The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

Loosely based on a true crime, this book gives us an inside and very human view of modern Mormon society. Harrison balances both interior monologue and exterior dialogue to give us a main character who doesn’t know if she can always speak her mind.

doing the devil's work5. Doing The Devil’s Work by Bill Loehfelm

A routine traffic stop for rookie patrolman Maureen Coughlin leads to a conspiracy involving a black drug dealer, white supremacists, guns, a prominent New Orleans family, and some of her fellow officers. Loehfelm renders the both the drudgery and danger of police work and the web of corruption that even ensnares good cops.

love and other wounds6. Love & Other Wounds by Jordan Harper

These short stories herald a great new voice in crime fiction. Harper has a cutting prose style that reveals the souls of violent men.

soil7. Soil by Jamie Kornegay

A mix of Southern gothic with psycho noir about a failed young farmer who finds a body on his flooded property. Kornegay knows how to capture people driven by their obsessions and at the end of their rope.

concrete angels8. Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott

Abbott’s inverse retelling of Mildred Pierce has a classic feel even though the story about a daughter caught up in her mother’s mania and criminal schemes has a modern psychological bent. A page-turner in the best sense of the word.

past crimesthe devils share9. Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton and The Devil’s Share by Wallace Stroby

Two great hard boiled tales from the criminal point of view. Whether Stroby’s heist woman or Hamilton’s “reformed” criminal out for revenge, these books deliver all the tropes with a fresh take and pathos.

all involved10. All Involved by Ryan Gattis

This tapestry of short stories that take place in L.A. during the six days of the Rodney King Riots is both blistering and human. A historical novel that has a lot to say about the present.

You can find copies of the books listed above on our shelves or via

MysteryPeople Q&A with Jordan Harper

Jordan Harper is an author to watch. While writing for TV shows like The Mentalist and Gotham, he built up a reputation in crime fiction with his hard hitting pieces that deal with bikers, drug dealers, and dog fighters. His work, which can be see in the collection Love & Other Wounds, is uncompromising, with strong sense of prose style that is perfectly crafted to give it an individual voice that never overwhelms the story. We caught up with Jordan to talk about his writing.

MysteryPeople Scott: What about the short form of fiction attracts you?

Jordan Harper: It gets to the point. One main character, one story, one theme. Everything’s so concentrated, so that language and character and action all become unified. It’s very satisfying.

MPS: You have a great talent for presenting a bad man and showing his heart without compromising him or the darkness of the story. How do you approach your characters?

JH: I make the assumption that most people are just that … people. We’ve all done bad, we’ve all done good, just in different ratios. Once you approach characters like that, it gets a lot easier to write them. Maybe it’s a sign of low self-esteem that I think killers and badmen aren’t that different from myself. But it’s how I write them. It means spending a lot of time spelunking in my skull, seeing what sorts of blind salamanders and weird mushrooms I find down there and bringing them to the surface. I may have lost control of that metaphor.

MPS:  You make your living writing for television. Does one form influence the other?

JH: Less than you’d think. I’ve learned a lot about dramatic tension and how to produce it from working in television, but it’s a day job like any other. My fiction is very different than what I’m paid to write, and I think there’s a pretty thick wall between those parts of my brain. One thing that’s been useful is that television is a collaborative medium, meaning that there’s a lot of input from a lot of people on a television script. It can make taking notes less painful, thanks to all the scar tissue.

MPS:  Unlike many authors, your stories have several different locations. Is there one in particular that lends the best backdrop for your writing?

JH: I was born in the Ozarks, and a lot of my early stories are set there. But I’ve also moved around a lot, and I made a decision at some point that I wasn’t going to be a single-location writer. How could I hope to keep writing about the Ozarks in an authentic way when I haven’t lived there in a decade? Especially when Daniel Woodrell is still there and writing brilliantly? Now that I’ve settled in Los Angeles, most of what I write is set there, but I’m trying not to tie myself down.

MPS:  I heard you just finished a novel, can you tell us anything about it?

JH: It’s called If All Roads Were Blind. It’s the story of an eleven-year-old girl who is kidnapped by her ex-con father because they’ve both been greenlit by Aryan Steel, which is my stand-in for the Aryan Brotherhood. Like Paper Moon with a body count.

You can find copies of Love & Other Wounds on our shelves and via