Crime Fiction Friday: “Heritage” by Eric Arneson

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  • Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Eric Arneson uses two crime fiction tropes for this fun, tight story with a great voice, the ordinary guy who takes a dangerous chance and that mysterious briefcase. Another great piece from Shotgun Honey.


“Heritage” by Eric Arneson

“It was my last night on the job.

Don’t worry, kid. This ain’t some cliche workplace violence violence story. I like it there. Made a lot of friends, did some stuff I’m proud of. I still miss the place, but it was the right time to retire…”

Read the rest of the story.

The Hard Word Book Club Takes on Machine Gun Kelly

Author Ace Atkins to call in during the Hard Word Book Club’s upcoming discussion of his novel Infamous 

9780425239018This month’s Hard Word Book Club selection, Infamous by Ace Atkins, is both historical and humorous. Infamous was the last of Ace Atkin’s quartet of books incorporating true crimes (Hopefully we’ll see more). It chronicles the exploits of robber and kidnapper George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Mainly, Infamous tells the story of the woman behind the man. Far from a mastermind, Kelly was goaded into a life of crime by his wife Kathryn. When the kidnapping of an oilman gets complicated and a former Texas Ranger closes in, his skills and marriage are put to the test.

Ace Atkins will be calling in to the group to talk about the work and his research. We will be meeting on BookPeople’s third floor, Wednesday, February 24th, at 7PM.


The Hard Word Book Club meets the last Wednesday of each month and discusses noir and hard-boiled crime fiction. Selections for the book club are 10% off at the registers. You can find copies of Infamous on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

MysteryPeople Q&A with Larry Sweazy

Larry Sweazy’s A Thousand Falling Crows is a fantastic Depression-era crime novel. Sonny Burton, a Texas Ranger who recently lost an arm in pursuit of Bonnie and Clyde, goes on the search for a man’s missing daughter. His investigation leads him to another group of robbers and to a killer who dumps his victims’ bodies in the Texas fields. The book has both a moody and an authentic feel. We caught up with Mr. Sweazy to take a few questions from us.

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

MysteryPeople Scott: Both the character of Sonny and the story are unique. Which came first?

Larry Sweazy: Sonny, no question. Characters always seem to come first to me. I knew a few things about Sonny from the beginning (his real name is Lester). I knew he was at the end of his career and that his father had been a Texas Ranger, too. Sonny had a perspective of history, could remember his father talking vividly about going after outlaws like King Fisher and John Wesley Hardin on horseback, while Sonny was rooted in the Twentieth Century, going after Bonnie and Clyde in a 1932 Ford. I also knew that Sonny was a World War I veteran and suffered from the Thousand Yard Stare (our version of PSTD). He was also a widower with a difficult relationship with his only son, who is also a Texas Ranger, but for seemingly different reasons. The story came out of research for another project I was working on and I stumbled across an article about Bonnie and Clyde coming out of the Ritz movie theater in Wellington, Texas. There was a chase, a shootout, and a flaming car crash where Bonnie was hurt, but they escape. The timing was right and l knew that I could insert my fictional character into that historical situation and go from there.

“I want the historical novels I write to be accessible, relatable, and an emotional journey as well as a physical one. That’s what I try for every time I sit down to write.”

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Texas Monthly Profiles Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale joins us tomorrow for Noir at the Bar, starting at 7 PM at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field.

The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Lansdale’s latest will be available for sale at the event. Lansdale is joined by Jesse Sublett, John Schulian, and George Wier. 

After decades of writing across genres and gathering a dedicated fan base, Joe R. Lansdale finally getting the success he’s deserved for the past three decades, including an upcoming TV adaptation of his Hap and Leonard novels. Eric Benson,writing for Texas Monthly, profiled Lansdale in this fantastic article, “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Click the link below to read all about Lansdale, his oevre, and his town (Nacodoches). My favorite bit of information: Lansdale is most popular in Italy, where according to the article, his humor translates well. Thank you, Eric Benson and Texas Monthly, for a great article on a truly great Texas writer!

Read Texas Monthly’s Profile of Lansdale.

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Joe R. Lansdale and Family: Photography by Leann Mueller for Texas Monthly

MysteryPeople Q&A with Jesse Sublett

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The essential Jesse Sublett – writer, musician, and Austin institution – will be joining us again for tomorrow’s Noir At The Bar at Opal Devine’s, where he will read from his latest, 1960s Austin Gangsters, and perform some deliciously creepy murder ballads. Thanks to Jesse, John Schulian – sportswriter, screenwriter, and now, with his debut novel A Better Goodbyecrime writer – will be joining us as well. 

 Noir at the Bar starts at 7 PM at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field. This event is free and open to the public, and we will have copies of each author’s latest for sale at the event. Joe R. Lansdale, author of the Hap & Leonard series, and the best thing to come out of East Texas since Janis Joplin left Port Arthur, will be reading from his latest Hap & Leonard, Honky Tonk Samurai. Local author George Wier will also be joining us to read from and sign his latest novel, Errant Knight, set in downtown Austin.

We caught up with Jesse to see how things were going with his latest book, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime That Rocked the Capitol, his music, and life in general.

“My favorite expression is “It sure beats working.” That’s how I feel about music, writing, and art, even though a lot of labor is involved—suffering and frustration, too—but the love of doing it removes the sense of it being work. I’ve always said that criminal characters and musicians (and other artists) are alike in that they just can’t see themselves going the day job route.”

MysteryPeople Scott: 1960s Austin Gangsters was released last year, and interest in the novel is still going strong. What has the book brought to you after its release?

Jesse Sublett: It’s astonished me that a book published 11 months ago still has momentum and still brings people to me, telling me how much it means to them, that they just bought a copy for their dad, or they bought ten copies for the family. People keep bringing me new stories about the Austin crime and vice scene of the 1960s. I’ve been meeting retired cops, children of notorious gangsters and thugs, who are proud that their family members have been authenticated by my book.

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Murder in the Afternoon Book Club to Discuss: DARE ME by Megan Abbott

dare meThe Murder In The Afternoon Book Club meeting time has changed! We will now meet on the third Monday of each month at 1 pm on BookPeople’s third floor.

Join us Monday, February 15, at 1 PM on BookPeople’s third floor, for a discussion of Dare Me, by Megan Abbott, who will join us via phone call during the discussion. You can find copies of Dare Me on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

  • Review by Bookseller Molly Odintz

Megan Abbott started off studying noir fiction, and moved over to writing her own, creating several historical crime novels so true to their period, they could have been written in the forties. Next, she took a turn to the contemporary, addressing the same themes of power, competition, sexuality, and obsession showcased by her early novels, but re-contextualizing them for today’s young women. Her last three novels – Dare Me, The End of Everythingand The Fever – have all taken on the dangerous lives of teenage girls, and gone far beyond an after-school special in tackling the real and present dangers and thrills of modern womanhood.

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An Extra-Special Noir at the Bar with Joe R. Lansdale

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott  Montgomery

For the second year in a row, I’m celebrating my birthday with a Noir At The Bar. We have a line up of locals, a Los Angelino, and the legendary Joe R. Lansdale, with music as always by Jesse Sublett. I may get into the act and read myself, but I’m going first. No way am I following these guys.

George Weir is one of our local authors, best known for his Bill Travis series. His latest book, Errant Knight, is something completely different. It involves a disgraced cop framed for murder. To stay in Austin to hunt down the real killers, he takes the guise of a costumed vigilante, The White Knight. George has a lot of fun with downtown Austin and comic book mythos.

John Schulian dives deep into his own town with A Better Goodbye. The book looks at the hangers on in the City of Angels, including a former boxer, the massage parlor worker he is hired to protect, the has-been actor they work for, and his criminal friend as they head for a violent confrontation. The result is a moody, poetic, and moving character-driven L.A. Noir.

If John brings you down a little, we have Joe R. Lansdale to pick you back up. Joe is back with his heroes Hap and Leonard in his latest continuation of the series, Honky Tonk Samurai. This time the boys are up against a used car and prostitution ring and a tribe of inbred psycho-assassins. It’s always an experience to experience Joe.

Jesse Sublett will wrap up the night by reading from 1960s Austin Gangsters, his true crime book about the Overton Gang. Then, feel free to mingle with the writers and get a book signed. We will only have their current titles, so feel free to run by BookPeople to grab their earlier wok if you want it autographed. Join us starting at 7pm on Tuesday, February 16th, at the 3601 South Congress Opal Divine’s. If anybody wants to buy me a birthday drink, my choice is Jack and Dr. Pepper.

Come by Opal Divine’s at Penn Field on Tuesday, February 16th for an evening of booze, books, murder ballads from Jesse Sublett, and readings from Joe R. Lansdale, John Schulian, George Wier, and Jesse Sublett. The event starts at 7 PM.