Molly’s Top Ten (actually, 11) of the Year (So Far)

  • Post by bookseller and blogger Molly Odintz

97816162056211. Security by Gina Wohlsdorf

Gina Wohlsdorf’s debut thriller, Security, is a perfect mixture of romance, action, and surveillance, told from the multiple perspectives of a hotel’s security cameras just before its grand opening. The hotel, named Manderley Luxury Resort, is the modern-day mixture of many of fiction’s creepiest mansions and resorts.  Security follows two men, the Killer and the Thinker, as they carve their way through the hotel’s staff. Are they psychotic serial killers? Are they trained mercenaries? Is it personal? All these questions may not even matter to the reader once they become fully immersed in the queasy voyeurism of narration-by-camera and watch the novel’s two heroes, hotel manager Tessa and her foster brother Brian, rekindle their childhood romance as they fight for their lives. The novel concludes with a stunning chase sequence and a host of shocking reveals, and the end is strangely emotionally affecting.

97816121950012. The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

 This one is part fairy tale, part abduction narrative. When a young girl in a red coat goes missing from a fairground, her mother suspects the worst, worried her fey-like child might never return. Hammer continues the tale from the dual perspectives of mother and daughter as they face their own challenges in their quest to reunite. Unexpected and haunting, with gorgeous prose and fascinating characters!

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Scott’s Top Ten Mysteries of 2016 (So Far)

97803991730351. Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

Coleman gives us a new character, ex-cop Gus Murphy, in a mystery involving old school mobsters, questionable cops, and a confrontation with loss and despair. After this hard-boiled story with heart, I can’t wait to see where this wounded hero is going. Signed copies available!


2. The Second Life Of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton9780399574320

One of the best crafted crime novels I’ve read in some time, featuring a small time hood whose early prison release has him forced to do the bidding of criminal kingpin. Everything Hamilton sets up with his sharp premise falls perfectly into place by the end.

97800623698573. What Remains Of Me by Allison Gaylin

A layered Hollywood thriller with the murder of a movie star tied to the woman found guilty for shooting his director buddy when she was a teenager. Gaylin dives into celebrity crime, tapping into dark social psychology.

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MysteryPeople Review: THE SECOND GIRL by David Swinson

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780316264174The wounded private eye has become a way for writers to give emotional weight to their crime fiction. Since Lawrence Block introduced us to Matt Scudder, detectives have been chasing their own own demons as well as their suspects. In his debut The Second Girl David Swinson gives us Frank Marr, junkie detective.

Marr feeds his habit by robbing drug dens. When he busts into one, he finds an abducted girl. Becoming a local hero with a secret, he is hired to find another girl who may have been taken by the same criminals. Marr hits the D.C. streets, searching for the girl and a fix.

Swinson portrays Marr as a anti-hero on a heroes’ quest. He works to manage his habit, instead of kicking it, resigned to being a junkie. Swinson avoids giving Marr a tragic background to manufacture sympathy. Sympathy is developed through the fight of who he is.

The Second Girl gives us a gritty streetwise detective story with a believably flawed detective. I’m looking forward to more books in the series and to seeing how Frank continues to deal with his addiction. The Second Girl already has me caring about him.

You can find copies of The Second Girl on our shelves and via

MysteryPeople Q&A with Translator Alison Anderson

Back in January, I enjoyed Alison Anderson’s excellent literary translation of French author Hélène Grémillon’s psychological thriller  The Case of Lisandra P.a stirring exploration of Argentina in the 1980s. The novel is told from the perspective of a therapist and his patients, many of whom grapple with the traumatic legacy of Argentina’s CIA-backed dictatorship. Gremillon uses an inventive mixture of recorded therapy sessions, police interrogations, and first person perspective, layering multiple perspectives to slowly round out the murder plot. The therapist, accused of murder after his wife’s fatal plunge from a high window, enlists one of his patients to assist in his own investigation into the murder.

Alison Anderson has translated numerous works of literary fiction, including the bestselling novel Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry. She has also written her own works of fiction, including most recently  The Summer Guesta historical re imagining of a young Chekhov, the novel he might have written, and the work’s unintended consequences. In honor of International Crime Fiction Month, and as part of our blog’s support for fiction in translation and the professionals who make that happen, I asked  Alison if I could send along a few questions. She was kind enough to let us interview her on about her work on The Case of Lisandra P. and about translation in general. 


Interview with a Translator: Alison Anderson on Hélène Grémillon’s The Case of Lisandra P. 

Molly Odintz: The Case of Lisandra P. has an Argentinean setting, yet a French author – does it feel different to translate a book that takes place where the author lives, versus a setting somewhat foreign to the author?

Alison Anderson: This did feel somewhat unusual; I couldn’t say that I could “hear the Spanish” behind the French – I don’t even know if Hélène speaks Spanish (and I don’t) – but I do remember one passage where I had to contact a French-speaking Argentinian friend to untangle what might be the best translation in English for a tricky cultural issue.

What is great about translating mysteries and crime novels is the suspense: I don’t read the whole book first anymore, as I used to, before translating; this keeps the language fresh, and above all the suspense keeps me going and I look forward to my daily “installment” of work. So certainly work-wise mysteries may be my favorite genre!

MO: How did you come to translate The Case of Lisandra P.?

AA: I had translated Hélène’s previous book, The Confidant, for the same publisher, and they contacted me regarding this new one.

MO: The Case of Lisandra P. has a number of character perspectives with unique voices – did any pose a challenge to translate? Which character’s perspective most interested you?

AA: I would say they were each challenging in their own way—to keep their specific voices, to convey their character just through dialogue and the briefest of descriptions (Hélène uses very little description). I felt the most sympathy for Eva Maria, and tended to get quite impatient with Vittorio and even Lisandra herself, but I suspect this is somewhat intentional on the author’s part.

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Crime Fiction Friday: ‘The Life Saver’ by Lina Zeldovich




  • Introduced by Scott M.

Our latest link to a story from Akashic’s ‘Mondays Are Murder’ Series in honor of International Crime Fiction Month takes us to Russia with a Muslim cleric as the lead. It is a great piece of suspense as well as a quirky meditation on religion.

“The Life Saver” by Lina Zeldovich

‘A knock on the door interrupted Imam Galim’s late night tea. Resting in his apartment attached to the Qolşärif mosque—the largest mosque not only in Tatarstan’s capital, but all of Russia—he was watching the moon rise over the Kazanka River and the nearby Blagoveshchensk Cathedral.

The stranger at his door had the pale face of a fugitive. “The Russian goons are after me, Imam,” he blurted out, clutching a large duffel bag to his chest, as if holding his most precious possessions thrown together minutes before he left home. “Please hide me!”’

Read the rest of the story.

MysteryPeople Double Feature: THE GLASS KEY

The MysteryPeople Noir Double Feature Series, where we screen a film adaptation of a classic roman noir and discuss the film and book, continues this upcoming Monday, June 27th, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s 3rd floor. The screening is free and open to the public! You can find more information about the film series here. 

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The Glass Key is often cited as Dashiell Hammett’s most personal novel. It is a complex mystery with men trying to retain their honor in a dishonorable life. The themes are layered and the morality ambiguous. Even its faithful film adaptation, starring Alan Ladd, still never quite captures the book.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Laura Lippman

  • Interview and Introduction by MysteryPeople Contributor Scott Butki


With her latest, Wilde LakeLaura Lippman has written another fascinating stand-alone novel that, as usual, has a higher level of quality and character examination then most writers. What others in her field can pull off from time to time, Lippman does consistently.

Wilde Lake recounts the story of a family in suburban Maryland with more skeletons than even a walk-in closet could fit. Lippman’s latest is narrated from the perspective of a recently widowed prosecutor who returns to her home town. As she works to prosecute the suspected murderer of a local woman, she begins to suspect more to the story. Flashbacks to her childhood intermingle with her new case for an intense look at power, privilege, and pain.

Lippman crossed my radar early, during my time as a mystery-book-loving newspaper reporter in Hagerstown, Md., not less than 90 minutes from Baltimore. Lippman had been a reporter at the Baltimore Sun but had left to start a detective series about Tess Monaghan, a former reporter for a newspaper that sounded suspiciously like the Sun, but was instead called the Beacon-Light. Lippman was also a reporter, earlier in her career, at the now-defunct San Antonio Light, which she speaks about in the interview.

“I really love Texas. ..I wasn’t made to live there permanently — I really don’t like hot weather — and I’m not a Texan. But I get Texas and I like it and I get very impatient with people who buy into lazy stereotypes about it.”

As she wrote great book after great book I became an increasingly admiring fan of Lippman and her series. While her Tess Monaghan series is great, it’s her stand-alone novels that are more popular – she’s been on the New York Times Bestseller Lists with them – and have received, deservedly, even more critical acclaim.

While Lippman was living in Baltimore and writing about a former reporter living in Baltimore, her future husband, David Simon, also a former Baltimore Sun reporter, captured Baltmore in another way, in The Wire, one of the best television series ever made. My interviews with her would occasionally include me asking questions about which television series better captured the city: The Wire or Homicide (of which Simon was also a significant part.) It’s not unusual for interviewers to ask Lippman questions about Simon. I mention this partly to explain her last answer in the interview, which puts an interesting spin on folks like me asking her questions about his work.

While her Tess Monaghan series is great, it’s her stand-alone novels that are more popular – she’s been on the New York Times Bestseller Lists with them – and have received, deservedly, even more critical acclaim.

Her new book, Wilde Lake, is no different – she takes a clever plot, adds fascinating characters and comes up with a great book that will leave you thinking about it well after you have finished reading it.

It’s hard to know where collections begin. The first robot wasn’t technically a robot, but a found-art assemblage called “Little Red Riding Hood.” Then I just kept finding robots. I’m trying to keep it under control and succeeding, more or less.”

Scott Butki: Did this novel start with an idea or question? If so, what was it?

Laura Lippman: It started with an idea — how would the events of To Kill a Mockingbird change if they played out in a self-consciously progressive suburb in the 1970s.

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