- Introduced by Molly Odintz
This week’s Crime Fiction Friday, “Elevator Pitch,” is a wicked gem from Matthew Hockey, just published as part of Out of the Gutter Magazine’s Flash Fiction Offensive series. Hockey twists the traditional elevator pitch to take on the concerns of the underworld. This story’s business proposition is rather more compelling than your average offer…
“My pitch? Sure. Why not? I’ve got a few minutes. Imagine the scene. Guy walks into a specialist pet store on third. He browses for a few minutes, just kinda walking around out of the rain. Owner said he could tell he wasn’t gonna buy anything but it’s good for business having somebody inside, brings other customers in. Suddenly this guy stops, drops his target shopping bag and stands stiff. He reaches into a cage. Scoops up a bird. Careful to keep its wings tucked against its body so it doesn’t hurt itself. Owner tells him ‘Hey, put that back. Bird is very sensitive.’ The guy’s not even listening. He’s all hunched over, cooing in the bird’s ear. Real low. Whispering. Nobody knows what he’s saying. Whatever it was it was between him and the bird. Then… chomp! Bites its head off. Cleaner than a carnival geek. Reaches into another cage. Chomp. Another head—”
Read the rest of the story.
Libby Fischer Hellmann’s latest novel is Jump Cut. She left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Thirteen novels and twenty short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery writing community and has even won a few. More at http://libbyhellmann.com.
- Guest Post from author Libby Fischer Hellmann
Get Smart About Smart Phones
Smartphones are the go-to communication tool for pretty much everyone in the Western world these days. They’re powering the developing world too, letting more and more people access the web, make calls and send texts. All this communication creates a massive and complex information and data network. And opportunities for hackers – except, possibly, for iPhones, as Apple claims. In Jump Cut, the first Ellie Foreman thriller in ten years, Ellie finds herself under surveillance and needs to protect her communications, especially those on her smartphone. So I did some research on smartphones and how vulnerable they really are.
“In Jump Cut, the first Ellie Foreman thriller in ten years, Ellie finds herself under surveillance and needs to protect her communications, especially those on her smartphone. So I did some research on smartphones and how vulnerable they really are.”
Not Quite Smart Enough
Smart phones were originally developed without privacy or security, and they’re no good at protecting our personal communications. All the activity on smart phones can be watched and documented by governments and commercial interests, which we have little control over. They can even expose us to new surveillance risks like location tracking.
Read More »
- Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
A good series shows more and more focus with each book. The nuances of the lead characters show patterns and changes as a subtle arc becomes apparent and the themes more vibrant as the light of each facet bounces off the other. Following a strong series character is like watching a skilled artist work on a mosaic, each story is a step toward a bigger picture. Timothy Hallinan’s King Maybe reminded me of this, showing what I often think as a collection of light-hearted caper novels has a lot more going on.
For those unfamiliar with Junior, he is a Los Angeles burglar who at times is forced to be an ad-hoc private eye for other criminals. As often in the books, King Maybe opens up with Junior in the middle of a job. This one involves lifting a rare stamp out of the home of a mobster, something that becomes more complicated when the man and his henchmen come back early. The outcome of the situation leads from one burglary job to another as well as a murder. It all swirls around a movie mogul known as “King Maybe” for the way he dangles the hope of a green light without ever committing to a project. To mention anymore would give away the entertaining twists and turns Junior is put through.
Read More »
Melissa Ginsburg comes to BookPeople this upcoming Saturday, April 30th, at 3 PM, to speak and sign her Houston-set debut, Sunset City, our MysteryPeople Pick of the Month for April. We asked Melissa a few questions via email before her visit to the store.
“I do think Houston can be alienating…the way the city is organized, people move from one air-conditioned space to another, traveling by car, without the happy accidents that can occur when you’re a pedestrian in a city. So if you opt out of that—get out in the heat, on foot, be in the in-between spaces—you can really get away with a lot. No one is going to notice you. It’s perfect for crimes!”
- Interview by bookseller and blogger Molly Odintz
Molly Odintz: Houston is as much a character in your book as a setting. The atmosphere of alienation inspired by the endless driving and urban sprawl mirrors the city of Los Angeles as a noir setting. What inspiration did you take from your Houston setting?
Melissa Ginsburg: I do think Houston can be alienating—I certainly felt alienated when I was growing up there. The way the city is organized, people move from one air-conditioned space to another, traveling by car, without the happy accidents that can occur when you’re a pedestrian in a city. So if you opt out of that—get out in the heat, on foot, be in the in-between spaces—you can really get away with a lot. No one is going to notice you. It’s perfect for crimes!
Houston still has space in between everything, you can still go unnoticed there, you can get lost, you can hide. That anonymity works on a larger level, too, with the city as a whole. I think of Houston as a very anonymous place. People don’t think about it much if they haven’t lived there or spent time there. It’s not a part of the American imagination like New York or LA or Chicago, even though it is nearly as big as Chicago.
All of this might be changing now, though. It’s a cooler, more interesting city than it was even 10 years ago. In many ways the Houston of Sunset City is the Houston of my childhood in the 80s and 90s. It’s fictionalized.
Read More »
Event Staffer Meike Alana reviews Robin Yocum’s new novel, A Brilliant Death.
Robin Yocum’s new novel, A Brilliant Death, explores the fallout from family secrets too long kept in a small town. For almost two decades, the tale of Amanda Baron’s death in a night-time boating accident has been town legend in Brilliant, Ohio. Presumably, the boat on which she and her mysterious lover were trysting was struck by a coal barge; the boat was destroyed and the bodies of Amanda and her lover were never recovered.
Her son Travis was an infant when his mother died. Now in high school, Travis yearns to know more about the mother he doesn’t remember. His father, town bully “Big Frank” Baron, removed all traces of his late wife from their home and refuses to speak her name. So Travis enlists the help of his best friend Mitch Malone (our narrator) and launches “Project Amanda” to learn the details about his mother’s life and death.
Read More »
- Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Lately it seems that Britain and hard boiled fiction go together. I don’t know if it’s the grey, rainy weather or the bad-ass working class accents, but British writers sure make it work. Here is a rising voice from across the pond, Tom Leins, who I discovered as part of Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series. If you like his brand of English nastiness, you can find more of it at his website, Things To Do In Devon when You’re Dead.
“The grave is waist-deep when the cramps start. I feel them spasm up my arms and across my shoulders as the shovel slams into rock-solid earth. This far down, it is packed hard, like concrete.
I glance over my shoulder at the ravaged-looking figure in the wheelchair. Maxwell Grinley has the glum look of a man who has outlived most of his vices and desires. The only thing he wants now is to see me dead. I don’t blame him—I was the one who put him in the chair.
He starts to cough noisily and greedily sucks oxygen into his ruined lungs from the cylinder balanced across his legs.
That is on me, too…”
Read the rest of the story.
– Review by Molly Odintz
A drian McKinty’s latest, Rain Dogs, is a strong continuation of his Sean Duffy series. As Rain Dogs opens, Muhammad Ali makes a peace visit to Northern Ireland, and Duffy gets assigned to Ali’s security detail. Those readers not used to seeing Sean Duffy in any state other than abject misery will enjoy this brief respite. Ali’s visit to Northern Ireland heralds Rain Dogs complex context – paramilitaries, civil rights activists, spies, and economists all compete to transform Northern Ireland, blasted by the mid-eighties into a blank palate on which to play international games and stage social and economic experiments.
While Duffy enjoys his escort duties to the max, even securing a framed photograph of his place next to the great boxer in Ali’s security entourage, his next assignment is less fun. Duffy gets called to a hotel room to find the missing wallet of a Finnish diplomat evaluating Northern Ireland’s potential for electronics manufacturing. While Duffy quickly settles on the delegation’s clearly connected interns as the merry pranksters who’ve stolen the wallet, he suspects the delegates of a more sinister agenda to their visit.
Read More »