You can always count on crime fiction website Beat To A Pulp to deliver a great tale each month. For December, it’s this hard-boiled noir: “Fundamental Breach” takes the story of a man hiring a killer to off his wife and spins it on its head several times.
“How will I know you’ve actually done it?” Ted Kilburn asked when he realized they had never discussed the practical aspects of the job.
Bob Timmons, the man Kilburn had hired, took a swig from his Budweiser long neck. “I’ll bring you a trophy.”
“What do you mean?” Kilburn said with a frown.
Timmons smiled. “How about Diana’s ring finger with the wedding band still on it?” he finally said.
The color drained from Kilburn’s face. He looked like he might throw up.
Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt
Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s: A Library of America Boxed Set edited by Sarah Weinman
Mette Ivie Harrison has just released her second novel in the soon-to-be-seen-as-classic Linda Wallheim series. Her crime fiction debut, The Bishop’s Wife takes the reader deep within America’s vibrant and evolving Mormon community to tackle issues of family violence and the vulnerability of women within the Mormon family structure.
Her second novel, His Right Hand, was released earlier this month, and expands her critique of Mormon gender roles to men as well as women, delving into the psychological trauma of conforming to an overly strict definition of masculinity. His Right Hand is our December Pick of the Month. Harrison kindly agreed to an interview via email about her latest novel, the future of her Linda Wallheim series, and the future of Mormon feminism.
Molly Odintz: You talk about this some in both of the Linda Wallheim novels – what, would you say, are the causes and concerns of a self-identified Mormon feminist?
Mette Ivie Harrison: Well, I am still in the midst of figuring this out. For much of my life, I have been a stay-at-home mom and have felt at times excluded from traditional American feminism because of that choice. So as a Mormon feminist, I try not to dismiss other points of view and to listen to women who are more traditional than I am as they talk about the way they see their roles within a patriarchal society.
- List compiled by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
This year authors from our home state showcased the wide breadth of story material to be found in the state of Texas.The novels below take a look at past and present, with settings ranging from small towns to our big cities, often showing how the Lone Star State effects the United States.
1. Pleasantville by Attica Locke
An involving story of a lawyer with a murder client tied to a current election in the early Nineties, Attica Locke’s latest novel delves into Houston’s black society and the relationship between Texas and U.S. politics. Locke uses a legal thriller set-up and private eye approach to show how the social and institutional interact. You can find copies of Pleasantville on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
This weekend marked the 100th birthday of Ross Macdonald. Often referred to as the third father of the private eye novel, along with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, he is the lesser known of this triumvirate. There are authors that may not have read one of his books, yet borrow from him just the same.
“I love to be with him in mid-century California,” says author Ace Atkins. “He picks up when Chandler left us and continues to be the moral compass in shifting times. But beyond what we expected of a crime book, he showed us how violence, turmoil and greed can effect family. The greatest at character study.”
Of the three, he was the most prolific; Macdonald wrote over twenty novels, stretching from The Dark Tunnel, originally released in 1944 under his real name Kenneth Millar, to The Blue Hammer, Macdonald’s last novel, published in 1976. Most featured his laconic private detective, Lew Archer.
I can not think of better title to match a story than Barry Graham’s “Keeping It Simple,” recently published in Shotgun Honey. It is a tight, no muss, no fuss, crime story about the art of simplicity. That said, don’t try this at home.
We’re sitting in Phil’s garden, drinking red wine. I keep looking at the flower bed a few feet from the table where we sit. The colors are so rich, so intense, that the flowers look artificial, though I know they aren’t.
We’ve just finished eating dinner, which Phil cooked.
“I’ll never understand how your cooking is so great,” I say.
“Like I’ve told you, it’s about keeping it simple. No more than four ingredients, then all you do is apply heat and patience. Just trust the food. It’s when you complicate things that you run into trouble.”