IF YOU LIKE JOE R LANSDALE…

When the term “Texas writer” comes up it’s hard not to think of Joe R. Lansdale. His voice, humor, and knack for entertaining make him one-of-a-kind, but here are some that come close for that Lansdale fan you may be holiday shopping for.

Tim Bryant – A former student of Joe’s, Tim Bryant has turned his unique voice toward his series character private detective Alvin “Dutch” Curridge, whose beat is postwar Fort Worth, brought alive by its music and people (First Book- Dutch Curridge). He also has a couple of great westerns featuring John Wilkie Liquorish a psychopath who becomes a hero in The Flashman vein. Bryant has colorful characters to spare and one hell of a voice.

Frank Bill – Much like Joe Lansdale, Frank Bill uses the vernacular of his region, Southern Indiana, as a part of his tales of crime and violence. His short story collection, Crimes in Southern Indiana, and Donnybrook, a novel of several ne’er do wells on their journey to an illegal fight competition, not to mention it’s apocalyptic sequel The Savage, which will unsettle you in the best way.

Ralph Dennis- Dennis created the Hardman series in the seventies. Its lead, Jim Hardman, was a disgraced ex-cop working the mean streets of Atlanta as an unlicensed PI with his more able-bodied back up, ex-NFL player Hump Evans. Gritty and blue collar with great banter between the two men, this series served as an influence on Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard.

IF YOU LIKE MEGAN ABBOTT…

First, if you don’t see a doctor. If there is any complaint about this author of exquisitely dark fiction that puts noir in a female perspective it’s that she doesn’t have as high an output as her contemporaries. If you need something to read between books or getting a gift for that Megan Abbott fan, here are some like minded authors doing some great things with the genre.

What Remains of Me: A Novel Cover ImageAllison Gaylin- Few cut into the dark side of family and “ideal” society like Allison Gaylin. her plotting is both complex and clean with stories that often don’t truly reveal themselves and their characters until the final paragraph. Either her Hollywood thriller, What Remains Of Me, or her look at crime and community in the social media age, If I Die Tonight, this reader will take you down some dark emotional paths, having you enjoy it all the way.

 

 

Big Woods Cover ImageMay Cobb- Consider her the Pine Curtain Megan Abbott using the East Texas setting to provide the gothic mood for Big Woods, her debut novel dealing with a young girl looking for her sister in her small town during the eighties scare of satanic cults. She builds incredible tension in her relationship between point of view and setting.

 

 

I Bring Sorrow: And Other Stories of Transgression Cover ImagePatricia Abbott- Yes, she is related. Megan’s mother proves she shares the gift of dark mood and compromised characters. Her gifts as a short story author an be found in the collection I Bring Sorrow: And Other Stories Of Transgression and she is also an accomplished novelist with her books Concrete Angel and Shot In Detroit

IF YOU LIKE CRAIG JOHNSON

With holiday shopping in full gear, we thought it would be helpful to give a few reading or buying suggestions with books that share commonalities with some favorite authors. We’re starting with our store favorite Craig Johnson, whose Sheriff Longmire series mixes action, mystery, the western, and humor for a rustic, character driven thrillers like The Cold Dish and his latest The Depth Of Winter. Fans of his should enjoy these authors-

C.M. Wendleboe- A protege of Craig’s who put decades of law enforcement experience out west before he picked up the pen, C.M. Wendelboe mixes believable humor as he looks at different western societies. His series characters include Lakota FBI agent Manny Tanno (Death Along The Spirit Road) and  Arn Anderson, a private eye out of Cheyenne (Hunting The The Five Point Killer), as well as a cool western hero, Tucker Ashley (Backed To The Wall).

Terry Shames – Terry Shames’ retired police chief, Samuel Craddock, often gets called back to duty in his town of Jarret Creek Texas, since his replacement also doubles as the town drunk. Much like Johnson’s Longmire, Shames looks at the relationship between the lawman and the town he protects. The first book in the series is A Killing At Cotton Hill. Louise Penny fans would also enjoy these novels.

Adrian McKinty- You may wonder what the author of a sheriff in Wyoming has in common with an Irish crime writer who writes about The Troubles in Ireland. McKinty approaches his books featuring Sean Duffy, a Catholic police detective in Thatcher era Belfast, with similar attitude and humor. While bleaker, his Ireland is as rich and full of as many colorful characters as Johnson’s Wyoming. The first book is The Cold, Cold Ground.

 

If You Like Louise Penny….

Many of you have already heard of Louise Penny’s impending visit to our fair city – this event’s going to be so big, we’re hosting her outside of our store and over at the Central Texas Presbyterian Church. Tickets are now SOLD OUT thanks to our wonderful mystery community. 

For those looking to get their Louise Penny fix another way, here are a few more atmospheric series, some Francophone and some Canadian, to please the Louise Penny fan who’s all caught up with Inspector Gamache.

9780143109457Fred Vargas’ Commissaire Adamsberg series

Fred Vargas writes the Commissaire Adamsberg series, set in provincial France in a small town that both mimics and parodies the political fractures of the nation. She came to writing from archeology and history, and like Margaret Atwood, her fascination with the plague, mythology, medieval history, and ancient fears has translated into brilliant modern fiction. You can find copies of Fred Vargas’ works on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

9780307454690Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police series

Walker is known for his Bruno, Chief of Police series, wherein Bruno must tackle crimes both petty and perverse while engaging in more politicking than he can stand. He takes plenty of breaks to consume the provincial delicacies of his small French town and meditate on Francophone culture. Fans of Louise Penny will enjoy the quirky cast of characters that populate Bruno’s little fiefdom. You can find copies of Martin Walker’s works on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

the unquiet deadAusma Zehanat Khan’s Community Policing series

For those looking to keep up with the best in Canadian crime fiction, try Ausma Zehanat Khan’s community policing series featuring Detective Esa Khattack and his partner Rachel Getty. The two tackle crime solving in an empathetic, very Canadian way – no swashbuckling, just skillful crime-solving respectful of civil rights and minority communities. This series should please those who appreciate Louise Penny’s series for both its conscientious morality and Canadian settting. You can find copies of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s works on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

 

If you like Don Winslow’s THE FORCE…

Don Winslow’s epic cop novel The Force is one of the must-reads of the summer. If you’ve gotten caught up in intricate tales of police plagued by moral ambiguity we suggest these three books on three different continents.

9781250081537Doing The Devil’s Work by Bill Loehfelm

The third in Loehfelm’s Maureen Coughlin series has the newly minted NOPD patrol woman dealing with gangs, white supremacists, and her corrupt fellow officers, all connected to one New Orleans. Loehfelm shows the difficulty in navigating through a corrupt police force and staying clean yourself. You can find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781609452759The Night Of The Panthers by Piergiorgio Pulixi

The head of an Italian police that also works for one mafia family cuts a deal with an ambitious government agent to stop a war between the families right when his men kill an officer when breaking one of their own out of a police van, forcing him to play every dangerous end against the middle. You can find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

9780374265519Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

American crime fiction sometimes seemed defined by intentionality – cops are either effective or corrupt, but certainly never incompetent. Not so in Japanese crime fiction, or at least, in this sprawling Ellroy-esque take-down of a vast police conspiracy designed to cover up a single, stupid mistake. After a botched kidnapping rescue resulting in the death of the victim, a department’s urge to prove professional competency plus the need to save face lead to a cover-up that goes all the way up to the top. Years later, a cop transferred to media relations puts aside his former departmental loyalties to continue the kidnapping investigation and discover the shocking truth behind the initial investigation. You can find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like Daphne Du Maurier…

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

daphne-du-maurierDaphne du Maurier was best known for her perennially best-selling gothic romance Rebecca, adapted to the screen by Alfred Hitchcock, who also based his film “The Birds” on a short story of Du Maurier’s. Like Patricia Highsmith, many of us today come to du Maurier’s work through film, astonished to discover how fresh and compelling her stories are today. She might not have assigned her fiction to the mystery category, but her gothic settings and destructive relationships fit right in with our current obsession with domestic suspense. The works below are united by their gothic sensibilities, disturbing romances, and dramatic settings. While each has a sense of the mysterious, the novels below acknowledge that what truly haunts us is within us.

9781616205621Security by Gina Wohlsdorf

For those who like their crime fiction cinematic, try Security by Gina Wohlsdorf. Told from the perspectives of a hotel’s security cameras the night before opening as the staff are hunted down by nihilistic killers, Security is perfect for those who who like their settings creepy and luxurious. Named Manderlay, the luxury resort that becomes a killing field in Security deliberately evokes the haunted mansion of Rebecca, and as in  Rebecca, the estate is as much of a character in the novel as any person. You can find copies of Security on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781681990286Collected Millar: Legendary Novels of Suspense: The Stranger in My Grave by Margaret Millar

Margaret Millar’s The Stranger in My Grave, included in Collected Millar: Legendary Novels of Suspense, the second volume of Syndicate Books’ release of Margaret Millar’s collected worksis the perfect California twist on Southern Gothic. Daisy Harker dreams again and again of her own grave, the date marked four years earlier. When she meets a private detective while bailing her father out of jail, she hires him to reconstruct the date on the tombstone – December 2nd, 1955 – in her life and the lives of those around her, leading to shocking revelations of hypocrisy from Daisy’s closest companions. You can find copies of Collected Millar: Legendary Novels of Suspense on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781101984994The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis, has a gothic setting worthy of any Du Maurier tale. Set in New York City’s famed Barbizon Hotel (in its heyday a residence for glamorous models and secretaries) the novel begins with a journalist’s decision to research the history of her creepy abode, and discover the story behind her neighbor’s unexplained scar and shut-in lifestyle. Flashback sequences to the 1950s describe the professional and sensual awakening of a young secretary just arrived in the big city, caught in a love triangle with a jazz singing maid at the Barbizon and an army vet chef at the local jazz club. Perfect for those who like their romances realistic and their mansions mysterious… You can find copies of The Dollhouse on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like The Girl on the Train…

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

There are plenty of sharp-eyed, sober Miss Marples just waiting to witness a crime, but isn’t it rather more realistic to assume a boozy halo to the recollections of many a looker-on? Do we trust our own memories, or have they been warped by those who wish us harm? Unreliable narrators, disturbing domestic scenes, and the burden of witnessing are the hallmarks of Paula Hawkins’ runaway bestseller The Girl on the Train, and all are front and center in the books described below.

9781101982358The Girl Before by Rena Olson

When the feds break into her home, arrest her husband, and take her daughters from her care, Clara Lawson has no idea why – after all, she’s always tried to follow the rules, even the strict and rather disturbing regulations that marred her childhood in what she thinks was a loving home. Through flashbacks and interrogation sequences, the reader and Clara together discover her memories, and the people she once called her family, cannot be trusted… You can find copies of The Girl Before on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781501132933The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I’ll admit it – I’m a huge fan of locked-room mysteries, whether they be set on a country estate, on a moving train, or as in the case of Ruth Ware’s gripping second thriller, on a luxury cruise ship’s maiden voyage. A travel journalist joins a host of other travel professionals to celebrate a miniature Titanic’s first cruise around the fjords. When she witnesses a woman’s fall off the side of the ship, she alerts the other passengers, yet the ship’s owner is more interested in questioning her sobriety than tracking down a missing woman, especially one never on the passenger manifest to begin with. You can find copies of The Woman in Cabin 10 on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

Blow-Up: And Other Stories by Julio Cortazar 9780394728810

Cortazar’s novel of a fashion photographer who may have accidentally photographed a murder was the basis for Antonioni’s emblematic 1960s film adaptation of the same name, and through comedic lineage, the fashion photographer scenes in the first Austin Powers film. Those who enjoyed the self-doubting witness of The Girl on The Train should enjoy the photographer’s agonizing over the maybe-murderous contents of his camera. You can find copies of Blow-Up: and Other Stories on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like Tana French…

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

French has a reputation across the world for designing cases that bring her protagonists’ darkest desires into play, and creating murder victims that psychologically mirror (and sometimes physically, as in The Likeness) the detectives working on the case. Her latest, The Trespasser, features a model-thin corpse, a bunch of good ole’ boy detectives, and Antoinette Conway, odd woman out at the police station, driven to solve the case by the mocking challenges of her peers, plus the usual Tana French resonance between the case and Conway’s past. Here are three stories that exploit unstable identities, distorted reflections, and the weight of the past to comment upon the anxieties of our times.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz9781451686630

In Lisa Lutz’s latest, The Passenger, two women on the run meet in a bar in Austin, form an alliance, and switch identities, hoping to outwit their pursuers. Lutz has created a fascinating meditation on the changeable nature of identity – but her slow reveals and tense travel sequences keep The Passenger moving at highway speed. You can find copies of The Passenger on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9780143108573Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

Flynn Berry’s debut, Under the Harrow, takes the reader to a remote village, where city girl Nora has just arrived to visit her sister Rachel, only to find the sister and her guard dog murdered. An attack by a slasher marred her sister’s teenage years, and police have in mind a recently released convict for both crimes, yet Nora suspects the village, and its secrets, may have more to do with Rachel’s death. Like Tana French, Flynn Berry weaves past and present together for their themes – not their coincidences. You can find copies of Under the Harrow on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9780765336378Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

In Rachel Howzell Hall’s L.A.-set debut, Land of Shadows, Eloise “Lou” Martin is a homicide detective with a porsche, but she won’t let herself forget that she comes from a poor neighborhood in South Central La and her porsche showed up as a “sorry, baby” gift from her cheating, game-designer husband. When a cheerleader is found murdered at a controversial construction site, real estate moguls clash with neighborhood leaders as the investigation stalls construction. Martin is out to get justice for the young woman, whose murder reminds her of her sister’s disappearance 20 years before, and she’s out to get a little justice for the neighborhood too. Personal vengeance mixes with housing policy to create a complex, multifaceted tale of murder, investigation and consequences. You can find copies of Land of Shadows on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like James Lee Burke…

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery


James Lee Burke
has helped draw general fiction fans over to the genre with his rich literary prose and complex heroes like Dave Robicheaux. If you’re shopping for a fan who has read everything of his or are a fan yourself, here are books by three authors who share Burke’s style or approach to writing.

bayou trilogyThe Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell

Woodrell has a wonderful sense of place and prose as these three collected novels featuring Rene Shade, a police detective in a corrupt bayou parish with family that have a foot on the other side of the law. Poetic writing with vivid spots of sudden violence. You can find copies of The Bayou Trilogy on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781453247136Coyote Wind by Peter Bowen

Montana cattle inspector, sometime deputy, part Metise Indian, and champion fiddle player Gabriel DuPre in a character with an indelible voice. In his first appearance has him looking into discovered wreckage of a thirty year old plane crash that holds a headless and handless corpse that leads to his own family secrets. A great look at culture on the fringes. You can find copies of Coyote Wind on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

last good kissThe Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

As far as I’m concerned the greatest private eye novel there is. Vietnam veteran, bartender, and sometime detective C.W. Shugrue travels with modern west with an alcoholic writer in search of a missing daughter and possibly a vanishing America. What Hunter S. Thompson did in journalism and Pekinpah did in film, Crumley did in crime fiction.You can find copies of The Last Good Kiss on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like Michael Connelly…

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Michael Connelly is the current king of the police procedural. His dogged and damaged Detective Harry Bosch is a character we not only root for, but care for. Here are books with several protagonists in that mold.

9780399167263Out Of The Blues by Trudy Nan Boyce

Boyce, a former Atlanta police officer herself, has her newly minted APD detective Sarah Alt, aka Salt, catch a cold case of a blues musician’s murder. She ends up unraveling a part of the city’s shadow history where race, religion, politics, and music all meet. A great example of a protagonist interacting with her environment.  You can find copies of Out of the Blues on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781455527410The Abbey by Chris Culver

Ash Rashad, a Muslim cop in Indianapolis, learns the body of his niece was found in a rich man’s apartment and written off as an overdose. Compromising his job and faith, his investigation leads to many of the city’s power players and one mysterious club. An intriguing hero melded with a great plot. You can find copies of The Abbey on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

9780399173035Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

The first in what I hope will be a long series featuring Gus Murphy, a former Suffolk County cop licking the wounds life gave him as he works as a courtesy van driver for a hotel. When asked by a petty criminal he used to arrest to look into the murder of his son, not only has to put his life on the line, he is confronted with who he has become. Looking forward to where this character is going. You can find copies of Where It Hurts on our shelves and via bookpeople.com