Watching the Detectives: Favorites of Matt Coyle and Billy Kring

81enf2yoldl._sy500_On Saturday, January 11th, 2PM we will be hosting Watching The Detectives: A Discussion Of Private Fiction on Bookpeople’s Third Floor.

We will have six experts in the genre, whether authors, historians, booksellers, or combination. I asked each one to list three of their favorite detectives in books and at least one in film or TV. Today we will be sharing the favorites of Billy Kring and Matt Coyle, who write about West Coast detectives. Billy uses L.A. as the stomping ground for Ronnie, struggling actor who pays the the bills as a detective. Matt uses San Diego for his haunted Rick Cahill, but took him to Santa Barbra in his latest, Lost Tomorrows, facing his past. Both also seem to share a love for the ultimate L.A. detective film, Chinatown.

Lost Tomorrows (2019) author, Matt Coyle

Matt Coyle

Detective #1: Philip Marlowe. A PI that lived by his own code. The touchstone (from several Raymond Chandler novels and stories).

Detective #2: Lew Archer. The melancholy detective who knew that family secrets are the darkest (from Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer series).

Detective #3: Easy Rawlins. The P.I. without a paper badge (from Walter Mosely’s Easy Rawlins series).

Detective #4: Elvis Cole. The World’s Greatest Smart-Ass Detective (From Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole & Joe Pike series).

For my big screen PI’s:

Jake Gittes (from 1974’s Chinatown). Tried to do the right thing in a city full of wrong.

Jim Rockford (from TV’s The Rockford Files). Could lead with his chin and get up off the floor.


Hunter’s Moon (2017) author, Billy Kring

Billy Kring

Detective #1: Spenser. Because his stories are so well written, and the dialogue is second (barely) only to Elmore Leonard. Plus, of course, his returning cast of characters! (From Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels)

Detective #2: Elvis Cole. Best plotting in the modern PI writer’s world. Great characters, and a sidekick (Joe Pike) who is a great compliment to Elvis, similar to Hawk with Spenser. (From Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole & Joe Pike novels).

Detective #3: Travis McGee. Iconic. A thoughtful protagonist who is an unlicensed PI, who can respond with deadly resolve when the need arises. His partner, Meyer, is a reflective sounding board for Travis and helps the reader follow the internal dialogues with a lot of entertainment. The books are slightly dated (takes place in the 60s and 70s), but still outstanding, with terrific prose. (From John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee novels)

My movie PI, JJ Jake Gittes, in Chinatown. This Oscar-winning film has Jack Nicholson as Gittes, and he shines as an ordinary investigator involved in an extraordinary series of events. So many layers in this well-written script! This is one of those “gotta see” type films.

Catch Coyle and Kring this Saturday, January 11th at 2PM where they’ll be joined by an assortment of mystery writers and editors to discuss PI fiction in a conversation moderated by BookPeople’s own Scott M. Join the fun on the third floor. 

An Interview with Jay Brandon

from-the-grave-cover-2_origJay Brandon introduced us to Edward Hall, a once hot shot Houston lawyer, now disbarred, in his legal thriller Against the Law.
He has come back for a second time, in From The Grave, with a chance to practice again. The only problem is that he knows he has to lose the kidnapping case he’s asked to take, since the victim was the D.A.’s sister and the more he works, the more he believes his client to be innocent.
Jay will be at BookPeople at BookPeople January 10th at 7PM to discuss and sign From The Grave and was kind enough to take the stand.

Scott Montgomery: Had you planned to go back to Edward Hall after Against The Law?

Jay Brandon: I had no plans for Against the Law to be anything but a stand-alone.  It didn’t even seem like the beginning of a series, because the premise was Edward Hall was disbarred from the practice of law.  Essentially he’s pretending to be a lawyer again, because his sister needs him. But that book was successful enough that the publisher wanted a sequel.  I realized since Edward did well in that first book he might get a chance to come back to practicing law

SM: How did the premise of being asked to “lose” a case come about?
JB: For a suspense/mystery novel to be good, you have to put as much pressure on the main character as possible.  Character develops under pressure. Edward could probably only begin his comeback as a criminal defense lawyer with the blessing of the District Attorney, who was not his friend in the first book.  So I gave her a motivation to agree: the victim of the kidnapping is the D.A.’s sister, and Edward is asked to defend the man she’s accused. So the D.A. has to remove her and her office from the case, but she still wants as much control over it as possible.  She and Edward both know he needs to keep her happy to have any chance of getting his law license back. Plus this development gave me the opportunity to have a special prosecutor character, who adds interest herself.
SM: The case takes Hall into Houston society. What did you want to explore in that culture?
JB: In the first novel Edward and his sister came from a wealthy, prominent Houston family, just because I’d never set anything in that world before, and also because it made Edward’s fall from grace even worse.  This time, because the victim and her husband are also from that society, I needed to explore that a little, which was fun. I created more of a past for Edward, including an old friend who knows all the gossip.  I knew a little about that society from having lived in Houston at one point and from going back for book events, sometimes in people’s homes. I decided really to explore Houston in this novel, setting locations all over the place.  My agent, who’s from Boston, said it made Houston seem interesting to her for the first time.
SM: Do you think there is anything unique to practicing law in Houston or Texas in general?
JB: There are unique aspects to practicing law in every county.  Houston certainly has its own particular aspects. Size, for one thing.  It’s far and away the most populous county in Texas, so it has the most courts, judges, and lawyers.  There are intricacies to practicing in a place that big, in a Criminal Justice Center that’s more than twenty stories tall.  But it’s the characters who make any story interesting. Edward has a past and knows other people’s histories too.
SM: There is a great reveal at the end of the novel. Were you aware of it before you started writing?
JB: Usually I have a book plotted out well enough before I start writing that I know what’s going to happen at the end.  This time, though, the big reveal at the end didn’t come to me until I was at least two-thirds of the way through writing the novel.  As more and more about the characters and the story revealed themselves to me, I had the revelation. Ironically, I found that subconsciously I had already laid the groundwork for it.
SM: Do you have future plans for Edward Hall?
JB: Yes, the publisher has asked me for another book and I’ve sent them a proposal.  I met my editor at this year’s Bouchercon in Dallas, told him the idea, and he likes it.  This one involves high school, which is all I’ll say. Another fraught world I’ve never explored in writing.

Jay Brandon’s From the Grave is available for purchase in-store and online now. And don’t miss your chance to see Brandon when he stops by BookPeople this Friday, January 10th at 7PM where he’ll read from, discuss, and sign From the Grave.

3 Picks for January

MysteryPeople’s Crime Fiction Coordinator, Scott M., kicks your year off the right way: with three new releases that are sure to get your heart bumpin’. Read on for more on these top picks.

The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge
This book introduces us to a heroine I hope to follow for a long time. Lily Wong learned the skills of a ninja to avenge her sister and now uses them to help women in trouble with bad men. Eldrige grounds the pulp aspects of the book into something believable and human, giving us a fun mix of paperback action and Raymond Chandler with a feminist twist.
From The Grave by Jay Brandon
Edward Hall gets a chance to be reinstated as an attorney as .long as he takes a kidnapping case he is expected to lose since the victim is the D.A.’s sister. The only problem is he soon  realizes his client could be innocent and the case is linked to another crime. Brandon gets the details and culture of the court down to fascinating details. Jay Brandon will be signing and discussing From The Grave Friday, January 10th, 7PM at BookPeople.
The Wild One by Nick Petrie
Peter Ash, the former marine suffering from PTSD in Petrie’s series, travels to Reykjavik to locate a boy believed to be kidnapped by his father, discovering a government plot and several people out to kill him. Petrie mixes up a solid formula thriller that examines the nature of violence while it dishes a lot of it out.

These titles are available for purchase and pre-order from BookPeople now!

MysteryPeople’s January Pick of the Month: Hi-Five by Joe Ide

9780316509534_a2c98For the past few years, I had been meaning to read one of Joe Ide’s I.Q. novels. Friends and writers I admire have been raving about this series that follows Isaiah “I.Q.” Quintabe, a young, black man who services his East Long Beach area as an unlicensed detective with Sherlock-level skills. When I got the opportunity to read his latest, Hi Five, I became hooked.
The book gives us a great premise that immediately puts I.Q. in a tight spot. Angus Burns, a white supremacist gun dealer, comes to him. His daughter Christiana is the main suspect in the murder of his right hand man. I.Q. has to clear her name or Angus will break the hands of his violinist girlfriend, Stella. Christiana witnessed the killing, but suffers from multiple personality disorder. I.Q. must bring out each of them and piece together what each of them saw. If that’s not enough, we also have a power struggle in the illegal arms centered around a modern Gatling gun.
As great as the plot is, it’s the human elements that pull you into the book. Ide’s East Long Beach community is as rich and holds as many many human beings with heart as Craig Johnson’s Absaroka County and Louis Penny’s Three Pines, with I.Q. as it’s protector, who sees it as something worth protecting. His friendships and relationships have both a messiness and deep emotion to them that make them feel real and flow instead ofmerlin_143890122_2a338504-b9ea-4f1a-bb84-c01d462e9faf-jumbo

remaining static. This is very much with his buddy Cahill who knows I.Q. needs to have someone watching his back even though he doesn’t always understand where he’s going. The danger he puts Stella in has I.Q. wondering if he should be with her. It’s a relationship that gets further tested when his old flame returns.

Ide put me in tune with this world and these people so well, I felt like I had read all the previous books. That said, I look forward to reading the others. Hi Five is one of those fine genre novels that work on so many different levels. Most of all, it has beautifully rendered people dealing with their place in life and connection to others, something you need to be smarter than I.Q. to figure out.

About the author: Joe Ide grew up in South Central Los Angeles, where his favorite books were the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories. He held a variety of different jobs — including Hollywood screenwriter — before writing IQ, his debut novel, which went on to win the Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus awards. Joe lives in Santa Monica, CA.
You can pre-order Hi-Five now and catch up on the IQ series now by ordering online or shopping with us in-store.