Chris F. Holm’s The Killing Kind introduces us to Michael Hendricks, a hitman who kills other hitmen at the behest of the intended victim. The novel expands his much-acclaimed short story “The Hitter.” Chris was kind enough to talk to us about the book, his writing, and the art of reading.
MysteryPeople Scott: This was originally a short story. What did you want to expand and explore with Hendricks and his situation?
Chris F. Holm: Both the novel and the short story feature a hitman who makes a living hitting other hitmen, only to wind up a target himself. Both feature a man traumatized by his past misdeeds whose cold, calculating facade crumbles when those he cares about are threatened. But “The Hitter” is written in almost claustrophobic first person, and its primary focus is the narrator’s slow unraveling. The novel is told in sprawling third, and is far more concerned with the possibility of his redemption.
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We chose Mark Pryor’s new stand-alone, Hollow Man, for our September Pick Of The Month. Hollow Man is a different kettle of fish from his Paris-based Hugo Marston series – in his latest, Pryor follows a sociopath through a heist gone wrong in Austin. Mark’s books may be entertaining, but what’s even more entertaining? This trailer featuring his children as they fall under the spell of his novels! Here he shows the effect such a dark book could (emphasis on could) have on his family.
Mark Pryor joins us to speak and sign his latest on Wednesday, September 30, at 7 PM. You can find copies of Hollow Man on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
The White Van by Patrick Hoffman
My favorite debut of 2014 is now out in paperback. A “functioning” drug addict gets manipulated into being a front for a bank robber, but takes off before she hands over the money. Russian criminals and a crooked cop then pursue her on a mad chase through San Francisco. Hoffman delivers a relentless, gritty thriller with a cast of characters way out of their depth. Out today! You can find copies of The White Van on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
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In Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins, Reed Farrel Coleman’s second outing with Parker’s character Jesse Stone, the Paradise, Mass. police chief discovers a fresh body with ties to two girls gone missing decades before. The girls were friends of Stone’s deputy, Molly, and her past becomes tied to the case. It is a blend of aesthetics between creator and the author carrying the torch. The final passage reminded me of something the great Ross McDonald would write. We caught up with Reed to talk about the book and how the series has developed.
MysteryPeople Scott: Much of The Devil Wins revolves around Jesse’s deputy, Molly, and an incident from her past. What made you want to put the spotlight on her?
Reed Farrel Coleman: One of the aspects of my job in taking over the series is to work within the spaces that Bob Parker left me to operate in. One of the areas I believe Mr. Parker would have eventually delved into is the lives of Jesse Stone’s supporting cast. In his Jesse novels he has touched upon the lives of Molly, Suit, and Captain Healy, but never very deeply. I thought this was a great opportunity to see Molly, one of the very popular characters in the series, in a different light. As someone and something more than Jesse’s foil for wisecracks and banter.
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At our September 15th Murder In The Afternoon Book Club, we won’t only be discussing Craig Johnson’s second book, Death Without Company, we’ll be talking to Craig himself. This book proves that his debut, The Cold Dish, wasn’t beginner’s luck. It’s a mystery that deals with a Wyoming subculture and someone very close to the series’ hero, Walt Longmire.
The story takes place soon after the events in The Cold Dish, with things looking up for our sheriff as he waits for his daughter Cady to return home for the holidays. However, trouble swells when a woman at The Durant Home For Assisted Living is found poisoned. Of Basque descent, she immigrated from a section of Spain that became prominent in Wyoming’s sheep industry. She also has a sordid history with Lucian Connally, Absoroka, the sheriff before Walt who was also his mentor.
We’re excited to have Craig call in! He’s very funny and insightful. We’ll be meeting at 2PM on the third floor Tuesday, September 15th. The book is 10% off for those who plan to attend.
Let’s face it, with a title like this, it was hard to ignore this story Shotgun Honey put out a little over a week ago. It also contains this vivid sentence –
“She was old, in her ‘80s, or something like that, carrying a sawn-off shotgun and wearing a ragged green-velvet ball gown.”
“I was going to tell you about why I killed Lewis Quad and how he’d had it coming to him. How he’d asked for it and deserved everything he got. Tell you what an evil bastard he was and how many lives he’d destroyed over the years. All the shitty little things he’d done just because he could. Justify my actions, and the like. But then I realised that, well, if you knew Lewis Quad you’d know all of that anyway and if you didn’t know Lewis there was no way in heaven, hell or purgatory that I was ever going to be able to explain the whole thing to you. So I thought I’d just tell you what happened next.”
To see how it all adds up, click below.
W atching the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad, I had an epiphany: heavy metal, a genre created by suburban teenagers, suddenly makes perfect lyrical sense in the midst of a war zone. The violent lyrical content of American imagination manifested physically in the actual experience of Iraqi lives, and Middle Eastern fans of the genre responded not to the escapism of heavy metal, but to its realism in their context.
After finishing Heda Margolius Kovály’s mystery novel, Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street, I had a similar feeling. I felt as though the entire noir genre had been created to represent American metaphors, yet destined to represent Soviet reality. After all, what is more morally ambiguous, more desperate, more traitorous, brutal or compromising, then the uncertain lives of colonial subjects during the Stalin era?
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1. Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street by Heda Margolius-Kovaly
lost her family to the Holocaust, her first husband to Soviet purges, and the right to visit her native land to her defection to the United States. She also translated Raymond Chandler’s work into Czech, and his style, combined with her experiences, are the inspiration for Innocence
, a bleak and hard-boiled noir about a woman who engages in increasingly desperate acts to secure her husband’s release from political imprisonment. You can find copies of Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
The Meursault Investigation
may not be shelved in the mystery section, but if The Stranger
is considered “Mediterranean noir,” then I dub this post-modern redo of The Stranger,
told from the perspective of the Arab victim’s family, “De-Colonial Noir.” The Meursault Investigation reads like Said’s Orientalism
as a mystery novel, which to me is the best thing in the universe. Spoiler alert: Meursault did it. You can find copies of The Meursault Investigation on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
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– Post by MysteryPeople Scott
“So right there, at the edge of a moonlit field in the wrong part of town, with a gun for comfort and a mystery unfolding before me, my involvement had ceased to be a choice.”
That line from Mark Pryor’s standalone, Hollow Man, convinced me he can write noir. He goes down a mean street that even his series hero, Hugo Marston, would take the long way round. Pryor’s most recent is one of the freshest and most chilling noirs since Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.
The book is narrated by Dominic, an English transplant in Austin, working as a prosecutor in Austin during the day, spending his nights as a singer-songwriter in the local clubs. He is also a sociopath. He tells us not to worry, he rarely acts on his impulses. We then see what happens when he does.
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