MysteryPeople Review: THE RED PARTS: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A TRIAL by Maggie Nelson

  • Review by Molly Odintz

9781555977368Maggie Nelson, author of Bluets and The Argonauts, is one of the most original voices writing today, and one whose work provides us with a crucial perspective on the intersection of modern thought and experience. Maggie Nelson’s latest book, The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trialis difficult to define – part true crime, part memoir, part critical analysis, and part courtroom drama, this book serves as a multidimensional platform for Maggie Nelson to recount the fallout from her aunt’s murder in 1969, the trial of her murderer decades later, and society’s obsession with the deaths of young, attractive white women.

The Red Parts is not Nelson’s first work to explore her aunt’s story. In 2004, Nelson had already finished a book of poetry called Jane: A Murder, exploring her aunt’s life, death, and unsolved murder, when her aunt’s case was reopened with the addition of new DNA evidence. Police had previously thought Jane to be a victim of a serial killer, yet had never conclusively proven this, and new DNA evidence linked Jane’s murder to an entirely different suspect. The Red Parts follows Maggie Nelson and her mother through the trial, as they have a chance to come to terms with the past, and finally learn the full story behind Jane’s murder.

Maggie Nelson destroys the boundaries between personal and political, fact and memory, creation and critique, ivory tower and public forum, and for this book, dead and alive.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Rob Hart


  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Rob Hart’s first novel, New Yorked, made my list of Top Debuts of 2015. His follow-up to New YorkedCity Of Rose, finds his hero, Ash McKenna, adjusting to a new city, Portland, as he helps a stripper find her abducted daughter. Like New Yorked, it’s quirky and tough, yet even richer in pathos. Rob recently took some questions from us about the book.

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

MysteryPeople Scott: Usually in a PI novel, the detective is one with his city. In City Of Rose, you make him new to the area. What was the reason to drop him in an area he was just getting acclimated to?

Rob Hart: Ash has that classic New Yorker attitude, that his city is the greatest and that somehow makes him smarter and better than everyone else. I wanted to dissuade him of that notion, so it meant sending him into unfamiliar territory. It also keeps it interesting for me—putting him someplace new was a big challenge, and changed how I approached the research, but it was a lot of fun, too.

“Ash has that classic New Yorker attitude, that his city is the greatest and that somehow makes him smarter and better than everyone else. I wanted to dissuade him of that notion, so it meant sending him into unfamiliar territory…”

MPS: How did you choose Portland?

RH: I really like Portland. It’s a little goofy, but it’s also a lot of fun and has a very distinct personality. The strip clubs in particular have a very unique dynamic, in that they all serve food, and the crowd is usually pretty mixed between men and women—going to a strip club in Portland is like going to a bowling alley most places. All that together meant there were a lot of fun storytelling opportunities.

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Hard Word Book Club to Discuss: AS THE CROW FLIES by Craig Johnson

97801431232932– Post by Scott M. 

Coming up on Wednesday, April 27th, at 7 PM, our April Hard Word Book Club has one of our favorite authors joining in the discussion. Craig Johnson has kept us entertained throughout his series featuring Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire. We’ll be reading his eighth novel, As The Crow Flies.

The book takes place mostly on the Cheyenne Reservation. Walt and and his Cheyenne friend Henry are there to help for Walt’s daughter Cady’s wedding when they witness a woman plunging to her death. With different law enforcement in the mix, the new tribal chief ask for his help in homicide. he reluctantly takes on the case while trying to focus on his daughter.

As The Crow Flies will give us much to discuss with its issues of fatherhood, bureaucracy, and life on the reservation. Craig will be calling in to join us us to guide us through. We will be meeting on BookPeople’s third floor, Wednesday, April 27th. The book is 10% off for those planning to attend.

You can find copies of As The Crow Flies on our shelves and via The Hard Word Book Club meets the last Wednesday of each month at 7 PM and discusses exclusively noir and hard-boiled works. 

Crime Fiction Friday: “Thoroughly Murdered Millie” by April Kelly



  • Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

With graduation nearing, this Shotgun Honey story of death in a dorm room at an exclusive girl’s school seemed fitting. April Kelly shows a deft voice for her protagonist a biting sense of humor.

“Thoroughly Murdered Millie” by April Kelly

“The girl had been shot, stabbed, poisoned and garroted, so the M.E. was not so much searching for cause of death as placing the wealth of possibilities in chronological order…”

Read the rest of the story.

Shotgun Blast from the Past: THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE by Don Winslow and COTTON COMES TO HARLEM by Chester Himes

Today we bring you a special double Shotgun Blast from the Past, profiling two classic hardboiled crime novels – The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow, first published in 2006, and Cotton Comes to Harlem, by Chester Himes, first published in 1965. 

The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow

9780307277664Frank Machianno is an upstanding member of the community on the San Diego pier. To those who can remember far back, like Dave White, the cop buddy he surfs with, he was Frankie Machine, an enforcer during the Mafia’s last heyday. Through a very bad day for Frankie that reflects on a violent life, Don Winslow shows how you can’t put that past past behind you, in his character driven mob novel The Winter Of Frankie Machine.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Michael Robotham

In Close Your Eyes, Michael Robotham’s latest in his Joe O’Loughlin series, the psychologist seeks a killer on the loose, deals with some family drama, and finds a former student, billing himself as “The Mindhunter,” in his way. Along with help from friend and former Scotland Yard inspector Ruiz he dives into a dark crime that is also most human. We caught up with Mr. Robotham to talk about the book, his characters, and crime both fictional and real.

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

MysteryPeople Scott: Close Your Eyes presents some big life changes for Joe O’Loughlin. Was that your intention going in?

Michael Robotham: You’ll get no spoilers from me but I never begin a book knowing where the story is going, or might end. I begin with a premise – in this case the murder of a mother and daughter in a farmhouse – and let the story unfold. It’s a very organic way of writing but also very exciting. There are days I come in from my office (The Cabana of Cruelty) and say to my wife, ‘You would not believe what just happened!’ If I’m surprised, hopefully readers will be.

As for Joe O’Loughlin, I wanted Close Your Eyes to be as much about his family and his love for his estranged wife as it is about solving a terrible crime.

“…with all of my villains, I try to show that they are not simply born evil (few people ever are) but they are product of their upbringing and environment, as well as their genes. Society gets the monsters it deserves.”

MPS: What drew you to use Milo as a foil for Joe?

MR: In the past I’ve come across psychologists and profilers, who are like ambulance-chasing lawyers, looking for any opportunity to further their careers. The difference with Joe O’Loughlin is that he doesn’t charge for his advice and cares deeply about the victims. It’s not some intellectual parlour game for him – lives are at stake.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Jessica Knoll


Jessica Knoll comes to BookPeople this upcoming Saturday, April 16th, at 3 PM, to speak and sign her critically acclaimed and bestselling debut, Luckiest Girl Alivesoon to be made into a feature film. 

Luckiest Girl Alive follows Ani FaNelli, high-powered magazine writer, engaged to a blue-blood and about as put together as one woman can be. Behind the veneer, Ani is traumatized by a dark past, and a documentary being made about a mysterious incident during her high school days might help her heal – or it might bring her carefully constructed facade tumbling down. 

Luckiest Girl Alive is full of twists, turns, social critique, and a complex approach to female identity and the politics of reinvention – in short, I can’t recommend this book enough! We asked Jessica a few questions via email before her visit to the store. 

“In adolescence, Ani is made to feel worthless, and so many go out of their way to silence her voice—doctors, teachers, and her own mother. As an adult, Ani believes that if she can achieve success in her professional and personal lives, that she will finally command respect. It’s about being seen and believed and heard after years of being told to sit down and shut up.”


  • Interview by bookseller and blogger Molly Odintz

Molly Odintz: Luckiest Girl Alive, without giving anything away, made me think of Inception a bit while reading it – as the book progresses, the reader descends to deeper and deeper levels of Ani’s past pain and trauma, almost as if we are peeling the layers off of Ani. How did you come up with your structure?

Jessica Knoll:  It was really an organic process. I wrote the book in chronological order, exactly as the reader experiences it. The toggling between the past and present was an organic structure that just made sense as I was writing it.

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