Crime Fiction Friday:”The Black Bird Heist” by Jesse Sublett

Thanks to everyone who came out to Noir at the Bar on Tuesday night and helped make the night something truly special. The following piece, read by Jesse Sublett as the last reading of the night, is a good example of the astounding creativity that has an opportunity to make its way into the world through our MysteryPeople programming. Thanks to Jesse for sharing this original short piece, “The Black Bird Heist,” with us for this week’s Crime Fiction Friday. It stars Austin’s favorite bird – the grackle.

You can find signed copies of Jesse’s latest on our shelves and via Our next Noir at the Bar won’t be till Texas Book Fest weekend – keep an eye on our blog for more details!

Photo shared from KUT Website, Photographer: Nathan Bernier

The Black Bird Heist

by Jesse Sublett

Three birds on a wire

Middle bird says

I’m nervous.


He’s the New Bird.


Bird on the Right says

It’s simple. Stick to the plan

We rush the bank & say

We’re grackles! Nobody move!


Bird on the Left says

Two minutes to go

everybody set?

Right: Locked & loaded.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Rick Ollerman

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Rick Ollerman will be joining us for our Noir At The Bar tonight at Threadgill’s South. Rick has a voice that has one foot in the modern and one in paperback classic. His latest, Mad Dog Barked, introduces us to PI Scott Porter who becomes the caretaker of a first edition of Murder In The Rue Morgue that draws all kind of disaster. We caught up with Rick to talk about the book and his writing.

MysteryPeople Scott: Mad Dog Barked is such a distinctive title. Did it come before or after finishing the book?

Rick Ollerman: It’s actually part of a line from a Jack Kerouac poem. I’d just started writing Mad Dog Barked and I knew the sort of character Scott Porter was going to be. When I read that poem, that particular line stood out, not just for being such an interesting phrase but for all the sort of meanings and complexities that reflected what I wanted to do with Porter. Was Porter a “mad dog” making noise? Was he driven to behave in a certain way? The title actually helped me shape the character and in the past, my titles have always been determined after the books had been written. This was more fun.

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MysteryPeople Spy Fiction Pick: THE UNFORTUNATE ENGLISHMAN by John Lawton

John Lawton is internationally known for his masterful historical spy novels, and joins us this evening, September 20th, at 7 PM for our Noir at the Bar at Threadgill’s, an evening of readings from our favorite authors while drinking some favorite brews. John Lawton will be joined by fellow Brit Zoe Sharp and Americans Rick Ollerman, Mike McCrary and Jesse Sublett.

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

9780802123992Spy fiction, while excellent in the hands of those who’ve lived the secretive professions they explore in their tales of espionage, can benefit from the same hindsight (and declassified documents) that bring clarity to the history books. I appreciate the authenticity brought to spy fiction by those with personal espionage experience, yet I feel just as impressed with those who bring this shadow world to life through research and creating powerful characters.

Such is the case with John Lawton, whose gritty espionage thrillers perfectly evoke Cold War politics and carry on the legacy of the early spy fiction masters. First known for his Frederick Troy novels, a historical series set during WWII, Lawton has written several acclaimed stand-alones. He is now two books in to his new Joe Wilderness series, which unlike his previous series, features a working class character comfortable on both sides of the law (and both sides of the Berlin Wall).

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Mike McCrary

Mike McCrary is an author that neither ceases to entertain and surprise. His latest, Genuinely Dangerousis about a failed writer-director who decides to restart his career by embedding himself with a gang of bank robbers. It is a wild ride of sex, violence, and dark humor. He will be reading a piece of it at our Noir At The Bar on Tuesday, September 20th. Noir at the Bar takes place at Threadgill’s South and begins at 7 PM, Tuesday September 20th. We caught up with him to ask him a few questions.

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

MysteryPeople Scott: Genuinely Dangerous delivers a lot of vitriol at the movie business. What did you want to get across to the reader about it?

Mike McCrary: I don’t think there are too many people out there that think that the movie business is a kind and / or sane industry. With that said, I also think sometimes people only hear about the successes or see the finished, polished product after someone has spent years of getting their brains bashed in by the biz. Failure is far more common than success and even when someone has some success, failure is always five minutes away. Having experienced some of those things, what I really wanted was to take all that and use it as the backdrop for a character. The book isn’t really about the movie biz, per se, but it is the thing that ignites the insanity of the story and drives the main character to do the things he does. It’s his failure after his success that won’t let him go. The failure of his second movie sucks away his Hollywood life and itís his desire to get it all back that causes him to take the risks he does.

That, and it’s damn good fun to watch out-of-control characters act on bad ideas.

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Adding Mystery to the Story: Guest Post from Rick Ollerman

Rick Ollerman will be one of our authors at our upcoming Noir At The Bar, an event celebrating the magical mixture of author readings and brews. Noir at the Bar takes place at Threadgill’s South and begins at 7 PM, Tuesday September 20th. Ollerman will be joined by Jesse Sublett, John Lawton, and Zoe Sharp. We’ll have giveaways galore for those who attend – come by Threadgill’s South, Tuesday, September 20th, at 7 PM!


NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES: Advice and Opinions On Two Forms of Writing

by Rick Ollerman

A friend of mine recently asked me about a problem she’s having writing a novel. She writes mostly short stories and I write mostly novels and while she says she has the ending “set” and a solid beginning, she’s struggling with what comes between. Endings aside, she wanted to know if I ever struggled with the last two thirds of a novel.

The short answer is no, I don’t, but that’s because the process of writing a novel is different than writing a short story. A short story should be something that you can hold in your head in its entirety. You can’t do that with a novel, it’s just too damned big.

When I write a short story I need to know the point I want to make before I begin. I need to know what I’m writing to, what the thing is I want to say. It could be the expression of a mood or an emotion, the consequence of an action, or the classic twist the reader shouldn’t see coming. In the case of a forthcoming anthology based on the music of The Replacements (Waiting To Be Forgotten, 2016?), the point was derived from one of their songs.

This is not so for a novel. When I begin a new book-length project I start with a concept that usually comes from asking “what if” or “how come” sorts of questions. Those answers give me the characters. Put them together and I can write the opening. When people ask the seemingly eternal but silly question about what’s more important, characters or plot, there’s no real answer because both are needed to write a good book. In fact, I’d offer the formula “characters + plot + setting = good book,” assuming of course that the book is well written in the first place.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Zoë Sharp

Zoë Sharp will be one of our authors at our upcoming Noir At The Bar, an event celebrating the magical mixture of author readings and brews. Noir at the Bar takes place at Threadgill’s South and begins at 7 PM, Tuesday September 20th. Her latest book features Kelly Jacks, a former Crime Scene Investigator turned crime scene cleaner after being framed for murder. Meike Alana caught up with her for this interview bout her latest, The Blood Whisperer.


Meike Alana: At one point, a character tells Kelly Jacks that she may not have a dick but she certainly has balls (a great line, by the way). Can you tell us a little bit about how you developed a character as complex as Kelly?

Zoë Sharp: Well, I’ve written eleven novels in the Charlie Fox series, but there are other stories I want to tell that wouldn’t be a good fit in Charlie’s world.

The idea for The Blood Whisperer came about because I was intrigued by the idea of writing a series of standalones⎯which sounds like a contradiction, I know. They would be individual stories, with different main protagonists, but all strong female characters who were, for whatever reason, slightly on the wrong side of the law. So, where the first reaction of a ‘normal’ person when confronted with the kind of danger Kelly faces would be to go to the police, for her that isn’t an option. She has to rely on her instincts to keep her alive.

Kelly very much evolved as I wrote the book, which is how I like to develop characters. I know some people write complicated biographies before they begin, but until a person walks onto the page for the first time, they haven’t really taken shape for me. Her interest in free-climbing, for instance, began as a method of escaping from the four walls of her home, a way of finding an additional sense of freedom having endured being in prison, but it quickly became an integral part of the story.

“The idea for The Blood Whisperer came about because I was intrigued by the idea of writing a series of standalones⎯which sounds like a contradiction, I know. They would be individual stories, with different main protagonists, but all strong female characters who were, for whatever reason, slightly on the wrong side of the law.”


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MysteryPeople Review: THE BLOOD WHISPERER by Zoë Sharp

Zoë Sharp will be reading at our next Noir at the Bar event. Noir at the Bar meets at Threadgills South off of Riverside, and starts at 7 PM. Sharp will be joined by John Lawton, Rick Ollerman, Mike McCrary and Jesse Sublett. Copies of each author’s latest will be available for sale at the event. Below, you’ll find a review of The Blood Whisperer,  Sharp’s latest book to make its way across the pond.

Post by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

9781631940828Zoë Sharp may be known for her Charlie Fox series, but her latest stand-alone, The Blood Whisperer, is killer. At one time, Kelly Jacks worked in law enforcement as one of the best CSI’s in the business.  Nicknamed “The Blood Whisperer” for her seeming ability to coax the most incriminating details out of every crime scene, she had only to read the evidence carefully to find the truth—the evidence never lied.  So when she wakes up next to a mutilated body with a bloody knife in her hand, she knows she’s been framed and trusts that the evidence will clear her.  But this time the evidence lets her down—she is convicted and serves a 6-year prison term for manslaughter.

Now she is free and working as a crime scene cleaner.  In her former life she spent 10 years as the first on the scene, ready to investigate the evidence and uncover the circumstances of the crime.  Now she is the last one in, charged with erasing all evidence that a crime even took place.  It’s not a bad life and she’s making a go at returning to a sense of normalcy.

Until the day she notices something amiss at the site of an apparent suicide.  Something about the blood spatter pattern suggests that the victim may have had some help in pulling the trigger.  Kelly alerts her boss, Ray McCarron, of her suspicions but he tells her to move forward with the cleanup.  The next day Ray is beaten to within an inch of his life.

Kelly doesn’t think the two events are connected at first.  But when she wakes up next to the mutilated body of her coworker Tyrone, with a bloody knife in her hands, she realizes that she’s been set up again.  This time, she doesn’t trust law enforcement to clear her name and goes on the run to find the real killer herself.  And she uses some special skills she picked up in prison to take no prisoners.

Zoë Sharp is the author of the Charlie Fox series, which includes 10 novels, a short-story collection, and a novella.  In Kelly Jacks, Sharp has created another kick-ass female character with an intriguing background.  In this stand-alone novel (that one desperately hopes may become the first in a new series), Sharp has crafted a complex, twisting plot including Russian gangsters and the elite world of thoroughbred horse racing.  As the suspense mounts and the body count rises, the reader is left to race breathlessly to the last page.

Noir at the Bar meets at Threadgills South off of Riverside, and starts at 7 PM. Sharp will be joined by John Lawton, Rick Ollerman, Mike McCrary and Jesse Sublett. Copies of each author’s latest will be available for sale at the event. Find out more about Noir at the Bar! 

Noir at the Bar Gets Continental


Noir At the Bar will be back in action Tuesday, September 20th at Threadgill’s South. Along with local author, musician and man-about-town Jesse Sublett, we have two authors from outside the state and one from Britain. This could be the closest we come to being classy.

From Left: Zoe Sharp, John Lawton, Rick Ollerman, & Jesse Sublett

Rick Ollerman hails from Florida, where his latest book, Mad Dog Barked, takes place. Rick has his feet firmly planted in the hard boiled tradition to tell his two fisted tales. Mad Dog Barked gives us hard drinking and harder living private detective Scott Porter, who becomes the caretaker of a first edition copy of Poe’s “The Murders In The Rue Morgue” that draws the attention of old school gangsters and several other nefarious types.

Our first author from across the pond is Zoe Sharp. She is best known for her series character, Charlie Fox, who is often described as the female Jack Reacher. Her latest is a standalone, Blood Whisperer that deals with a wrongfully-imprisoned-crime-scene-investigator-turned-crime-scene-cleaner who is framed for murder. Zoe doesn’t tour the States often so catch her while you can.

John Lawton is an American who writes about Britain. The Unfortunate Englishman is his second book to feature Joe Wilderness, an agent for MI6 (or so we think, it’s a little complex). Come out and see why he is a MysteryPeople customer favorite.

We will have each author’s latest for sale at the event, as well as some from our own stash to give away. Jesse Sublett will be providing music as well as reading from 1960’s Austin Gangsters, a history of the Overton Gang and one of the best true crime explorations of Austin out there. Join us at Threadgill’s on Riverside, Sept 20th, at 7PM, and keep a good thing going.

Noir at the Bar takes place at Threadgill’s South (off of Riverside.) Our next Noir at the Bar is Tuesday, September 20th, at 7 PM. Recent books by each author will be available for purchase at the signing. We’ll be giving out books left and right, so come prepared for wonderful readings and some free reads! 

MysteryPeople Review: ROUGH TRADE by Todd Robinson

Todd Robinson joins us for our next Noir at the Bar event, coming up Tuesday, September 20th, at 7 PM at Threadgill’s off of Riverside. Noir at the Bar features readings from several authors at a cozy locale – come grab a brew and enjoy the show! We’ll be giving away some of our favorite titles of the year. Todd will be joined by authors Zoe Sharpe, John Lawton, Rick Ollerman, and Jesse Sublett, with a musical contribution from Mr. Sublett to kick things off. 

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

97819438180061Rough Trade is Todd Robinson’s second book to feature Boo and Junior, two Boston bouncers working at a bar called “The Cellar” with a penchant for for trouble. We’ve had almost four years to wait for this one after the debut of Hard Bounce. Todd has made the wait pay off.

Boo and Junior are asked by their co-worker, Ginny, to throw a scare into Byron, her abusive ex. They smack him around and put him in a trunk. When Byron is found dead with Junior’s cell phone, he becomes the main suspect. It’s up to Boo and their small but tight circle of friends to clear his name.

This is classic hard boiled fused with modern themes. Robinson gives us a plot involving a mysterious saxophone case, Irish mobsters, fun and funny dialogue, and a lot of punching. The book is also an intriguing look at homosexuality and our responses to it. The novel starts with the two bouncers trying to stop some skinheads from beating up two men they found making out. Robinson follows through on the theme with an exploration of  Junior’s hang ups. He jettisons political correctness to get to the heart and emotions of the matter.

The book never stops entertaining as it deals with these issues. Boo’s narration is engaging and often humorous, cracking the fourth wall. Rough Trade delivers the sex, violence, grittiness, and male friendship one would expect in a book like this with a theme that both clashes and connects with its genre roots. I look forward to the next misadventures of these knuckleheads.

You can find copies of Rough Trade on our shelves and via

Crime Fiction Friday: “Cleaning Solution” by Andrew Hilbert



  • Selected and Introduced by Scott Montgomery

One of the many reasons to come to our upcoming Noir At the Bar at Threadgill’s, happening Monday, July 25th, at 7 PM, is for us to introduce our Noir at the Bar crowd to Andrew Hilbert, who has won local acclaim not only as a writer but reader of his work. He mixes genres in a wonderful, weird, tapestry that may be offensive to some. He is also a skilled craftsman with a strong sense of cadence and rhythm that you can see in his latest novella, Bangface And the Gloryhole, and this short story that appeared in Horror Novel Reviews.

“Cleaning Solution” by Andrew Hilbert

“It’s a miracle.” I sprayed the solution on the lady’s doorknob and scrubbed it until it was shining, brand new looking, and clean. “With nothing more than a paper towel and some elbow grease. It’s so easy,” I said, “a dog could do it.”

“Dog’s don’t have hands,” the lady said. She rolled her eyes. “My mom’s not home. We use Windex. And we probably don’t care if our doorknobs are as reflective as mirrors.” She slammed the door.

It was hot. The sun beat down on my bald head so hard I could feel it peeling.

“Johnny!” I yelled. My partner, Johnny, came scurrying out of the bushes and stubbed his cigarette on a parked black Mercedes. “It doesn’t work without a sidekick. Good door-to-door salesmanship requires a one-two punch. A good cop and a better cop.”

“Sorry, boss,” he said. “I just needed a break.”

His teeth were black and rotted behind his smile. He was probably 18 years old, wore clothes two sizes too big, and a backwards black cap.

Read the rest of the story.