Crime Fiction Friday: “When The Hammer Comes Down” by Josh Stallings

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We’re looking forward to hosting Josh Stallings this upcoming Monday, February 1st, at 7 PM, along with Terry Shames and Scott Frank. His novel Young Americans is a heist novel set in the glam rock 70s. Here he takes a look at the war on drugs in the late 80s, with appearances from Daryl Gates and Nancy Reagan. The story originally appeared in Protectors 2: Heroes, edited by Thomas Pluck, an anthology we’re proud to sell here at BookPeople. Profits from Protectors 2: Heroes go to PROTECT, an organization that lobbies for legislation that protects children from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Click here for more details about the event. 


“When The Hammer Comes Down” by Josh Stallings

“3:23 PM Los Angeles.

April hit like a firebomb. It was murder your best friend weather. Too hot to fuck weather. Watch what you say or this shit steps off weather. The only thing Angelenos hate more than rain is excessive heat. When you live in paradise anything less than perfection is an attack on your birthright. Traffic on the Harbor Freeway was building into a snarling mess. At under ten miles an hour no air moved throughthe Caprice’s open windows. Sweat dripped off Detective Madsen’s Neanderthal brow. “It is hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock.”

“Two rats huh? Guess it is.” Detective Lunt wanted a cool drink in a cooler restaurant, instead he was driving across town for a P.R. bust and grin. “Apologize to Caselli. Eat a little shit and he’ll have our air blowing cold in bang time.”

“That walleyed inbred needle dick wrench monkey deserves nothing but my boot in his ass.”

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Screenwriter and Author Scott Frank

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Scott Frank is a screenwriter and director of exquisite talent. He has adapted Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, and Minority Report. As both writer and director, he has given us two of the best crime films in past decade, A Walk Among The Tombstones (from the Lawrence Block novel) and The Lookout.

Frank has now added “novelist” to his already impressive resume with his debut, Shaker, a crime satire that takes a New York hitman to L.A. just in time for one of California’s worst earthquakes. The book looks at gangs, the media culture, and politics, all in a style that allows for human depth and darkness as well as laughs. Mr. Frank took a few questions about the book and the switch from screen to prose. He joins us Monday, February 1st, at 7 PM, appearing alongside authors Terry Shames and Josh Stallings. 


MysteryPeople Scott: You mainly are known for your work in film. What made Shaker more suitable to tell as a novel?

Scott Frank: It was a story that depended so much on understanding the history of several characters. You couldn’t really go forward without knowing what had come before. So it just seemed more of a novel to me for that reason.

MPS: What did you enjoy doing in prose that you couldn’t do in a screenplay?

SF: When you write a film, “show not tell” is always your mantra. You don’t ever get a chance to go deep. You want to define scene and character as quickly as you can. And if you do go backwards, it can’t play as digression. It will feel like a mistake. We just don’t watch movies in the same way we read books. In a book, a digression can be the most satisfying part. It was so much fun writing about what happened before the book began, and then making it pay off.

MPS: The book has an interesting interplay between plot and backstory. On the surface, it plays like a Carl Hiassen crime satire, yet you slowly get introduced to everybody’s dark history. Was this planned going in or just happen since you were dealing with some pretty unsavory characters?

SF: It just sort of evolved. I realized that if I wanted a reader to actually care about these people, I couldn’t always write them as jokes. I thought it might be interesting for introduce someone, make an impression, then subvert that with their backstory, so that you cared about them, no matter how unsavory they turned out to be. The tone in those past sections, then, had to be more serious, but still had to somehow dovetail with the rest of the book. Was the hardest part for me. But I just heard those parts differently in my head.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Ian Rankin

  • Interview by Scott Butki

Ian Rankin brings three investigators – Rebus, Clark, and Fox – back together for his latest novel, Even Dogs In The Wild. Ian Rankin joins us at BookPeople Sunday, January 31st, at 3 PM to speak and sign his latest. Regular contributor to the MysteryPeople blog Scott Butki interviewed Rankin about his latest novel, writing the iconic Rebus, and his writer friends. 


Scott Butki: How did you come up with this story?

Ian Rankin: Someone in a bar told me the story of a drug dealer who supposedly hid a large stash of dope and money in some woods outside his village. When he died of natural causes, the villagers went on a treasure hunt. That gave me the notion of the treasure hunt, which I turned into a story involving gangsters on the trail of something stolen from them. Then one night an image came into my head of someone pointing a gun at another person. The gunman is in the garden of a house and it is night and the intended victim can’t see them. I wondered: who is the gunman, who the victim, why is this happening and what will the intended victim do about it? I had the beginning of my novel.

SB: I saw on the Internet where you mentioned, before the title was made public, that the title of your next book was also the name of a catchy song. Were you surprised to then have fans trying to guess the song title?

IR: It was part of the fun, letting fans know the book would be named after a song and then seeing if any of them could guess what it might be. (Nobody did, but then it is a pretty obscure song.)

“I feel sorry for fans who make the pilgrimage to the Oxford Bar in Edinburgh, seeking Rebus out and finding only his creator seated at the bar. I’m a bit of a let down – not as dark, brooding, complex or dangerous as Rebus!”

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman

Our January Pick Of The Month, Where It Hurts, is another exquisite detective novel from Reed Farrel Coleman, delivering a detective as compelling as his plot with Coleman’s latest creation, Gus Murphy. Gus is a former cop hanging by a thread after the death of his son. When the son of a criminal Gus had previously arrested is murdered, the situation sucks Murphy back into the maelstrom of a cop’s life and causes him to reevaluate his life. Reed was kind enough to talk about characters new and old, and writing in general. He joins us Saturday, January 30th, at 5 PM to speak and sign his lates.t 

MysteryPeople Scott: What drew you to create a character like Gus Murphy for a series?

Reed Farrel Coleman: Gus is one of those rare characters that appeared in my head at the same moment as the plot and setting. I don’t think I could separate Gus from the narrative from the setting. That is always an encouraging sign for me as a writer. When I feel the protagonist is of the place and of the story, it gives me a big advantage when setting out on a new project. I am always suspect of novels when I don’t feel the protagonist is of the setting. Sure, it’s interesting to put your protagonist in an unfamiliar setting to see how he or she reacts, but I never want to feel like you could plug protagonist A into setting X, Y or Z and have it work together. The rare exception, a character like Reacher, sort of brings his own personal setting along with him.

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Edgar Nominations Announced!

 

mwaThe nominations for the 2016 Edgar Awards were announced last week. This seemed to be the year where great minds think alike – many of the nominees made in on to our best of 2015 lists, put together by Scott and Molly. 

We want to congratulate old friends and new favorites, including Duane Swierczynski, nominated for his novel Canary, David C. Taylor, for Night LifeMichael Robotham, for Life or DeathMegan Abbott, for her short story “The Little Men,” Philip Kerr, for The Lady From Zagreb, Lou Berney, for The Long and Faraway GoneLori Rader Day, for Little Pretty Things, David Joy, for Where All Light Tends To GoGordon McAlpine, for The Woman with the Blue Pencil, Jessica Knoll, for Luckiest Girl Alive, and Adrian McKinty, for Gun Street Girl.

Congratulations all the others who made it. Best of luck to everyone and have a great time in New York.

Click here for the full list of Edgar Nominees.

Crime Fiction Friday: “Morning Rounds” by Andrew Jetarski

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With the ongoing national debate over gun control, we’ve decided to bring you a topical Crime fiction Friday. Andrew Jetarski had this story of one night in a hotel published in Out Of The Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive.  This story has a great first paragraph that, like Chekhov’s gun, pays off at the end.


“Morning Rounds” by Andrew Jetarski


“Hattie Lovett fingered the safety on the .22 she kept under the check-in desk when she saw the man approaching in the gray pre-dawn light outside the glass doors of the Topeka EEZ-On Inn. Unruly blondish hair sticking out of a ball cap, sweatpants and T-shirt, slight paunch. Something about him put her on edge. He was juggling a grande coffee in each hand, trying to elbow the lobby doors open. The electric eye triggered and they slid apart…”

Read the rest of the story.

Hung Up On Romancing: Josh Stallings Remembers David Bowie

Josh Stallings’ latest work, Young Americansis a heist novel with a 70s glam-rock backdrop, set in San Francisco. Every character, much like the author, worships David Bowie. When Bowie passed away, we asked Josh if he would write a piece about his idol and in a few days he gave us this brilliant beautiful work.

“Hung Up On Romancing” by Josh Stallings

I am twelve and my big sister Lisa gives me David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Lisa is the escape artist. She slipped the gravity of our chaotic, mad planet of a family and crash landed in Los Angeles. Violent red hair cut in a jagged bob, purple skirt, feather boa, walking cool down Hollywood Boulevard. Mythic.

I am thirteen and listening to Bowie’s Aladdin Sane. It is dirty and sexy and dangerous. In “Cracked Actor” Bowie sings of trading oral favors for fame. I hope my mother doesn’t hear this. The hippy Quaker activist woman who birthed me would panic at this casual pansexual Bacchanal. I’ll take your Erica Jong Fear of Flying zipper-less free love and raise you glitter rock’s anthem to lustful androgyny.

Bowie made it cool to be smart. Cool to love words. He was also a flag I flew to find others of my tribe. A litmus test for lifetime friendships. We might argue Rod Stewart vs Todd Rundgren, or Mott the Hoople vs Kinks, but no one questioned David Bowie’s place in our constellations. He was our north star. Our way home through the murky seas of hormones and high school.

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