Top 5 Texas Crime Novels of 2020

MysteryPeople’s Scott M. is back on the blog with a round-up of his five favorite crime reads of 2020 by authors based in Texas. Read on for more.

2020 was a great time for authors in our Lone Star home. They ranged in sub-genre, tone, and region, using Texas as a metaphor for America and life. Here are the five (maybe six) Texas crime novels that struck me most.

9780316479912_22712   9781616963231_80377
One of Texas’ finest landed a one two punch this year, a collection of stories involving the formative years of his series characters Hap & Leonard, and an East Texas-flavored tribute to James M. Cain starring a 1960s used car salesman with more than a few secrets that the author puts his own spin on. Reading both of these is like taking a master class in writing. Plus, he wrote a great female buddy novel, Jane Goes North.
All Things Left Wild by James Wade
On the border during the early twentieth century, two young horse thieves murder a a rancher’s son and are pursued by the father who is more poet than pistoleer in this look at nature, brutality, and male identity. This mix of crime novel and western haunts the reader like a fine murder ballad.
Hard Times by Les Edgerton
A tight, tough, and poignant novel of an abused wife who connects with a Black man on the run during the Depression. Edgerton finds the human grace in the bleak circumstances of his characters.
The Burn by Kathleen Kent
Dallas narcotics cop Betty Rhyzyk is back, having to break out of desk duty when informants pop up murdered all over the city. A tough hard-boiled cop thriller with one of contemporary crime fiction’s most complex lead characters.
Lineage Most Lethal by S.C. Perkins
This second book to feature Austin genealogist Lucy Lancaster provides something unique—a cozy espionage thriller—when a dying woman hands her a fountain pen. A great use of the state capitol, the nearby town of Wimberly, and the novel The Thirty-Nine Steps.

These titles and other mystery favorites are available online now at BookPeople. Curbside service by phone is available, too. Give us a ring at (512) 472 – 5050.

Scott M.’s 10 Best Crime Novels of 2020

MysteryPeople’s Scott Montgomery joins us on the blog just before year’s end to share the ten best—in his opinion—crime novels of 2020.

Crime fiction writers came through in a year where we needed them the most. They helped us escape and examine our times with some of their best writing. It was also a year of discovering either debut authors or ones that finally got the limelight they deserved. Here are my eleven favorites I was able to squeeze into a top ten. I could easily give ten more.

Next To Last Stand by Craig Johnson
In another year, I may have put one of the darker novels below in this spot, but if there was ever a time for smart comfort reading Craig Johnson rode in like The Lone Ranger with this funny and warm mystery that also delivers an engaging history lesson. Walt Longmire, Craig’s Northern Wyoming sheriff, becomes involved in the world of western art when it appears the famed Custer’s Last Fight painting, believed to have been lost in a fire, is actually still around with several shady characters out to find it. While entertaining, Johnson uses the tale to examine points of view in history, war, and the men who fight in them with a humanistic eye.
Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby & Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Both of these authors used their culture to infuse excitement into the traditional hard-boiled novel. Cosby gave a much needed Black voice to rural noir with his story of a former getaway driver pulled back into one last job to save his family and dignity. Weiden introduces us to Virgil Wounded Horse, a half-Lakota enforcer citizens hire on the Rosebud reservation to get justice, forced to hunt down the people who bring in heroin into the rez to clear his nephew. Both use the crime novel to examine family, race, and male identity.
The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
This book starts with the murder of two twelve-year old girls and gets bleaker as the working class mother of one of the girls seeks justice in her small town, coming up against the local police, her mother who she always feared of becoming, and her own dark past. Engel keeps the story tight and focused in her heroine, finding grace notes in the unlikeliest of places.
The Poison Flood by Jordan Farmer
A reclusive hunchback musician witnesses a murder during a chemical leak that plagues his Appalachian town, setting off several events that force him to face his life and make human connections. Farmer finds a sad humanity in all of his characters, creating one of the most poignant reads of the year.
City Of Margins by William Boyle
Boyle creates a literary mural with several people effected and entwined from a past murder in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Funny and tragic, Boyle creates a story of the inertia of a community told in a style somewhere between Scorsese and Altman.
The Less Dead by Denise Mina
A middle class doctor—adopted as a child—discovers her birth mother was a prostitute and victim of a serial murderer. As she uncovers her mother’s killer she also gets to know the woman she never knew. Mina’s latest masterpiece is one of class, society, and crime.
Lost River by J. Todd Scott
Scott creates an epic tale that takes place during one violent day in the life of a Kentucky lawman, DEA agent, and EMT. Scott, a practicing DEA agent, provides an intimate look at the opioid crisis.
Broken by Don Winslow
This collection of new novellas from one of crime fiction’s best range in mood, style, and sub-genre. He introduces us to new characters and revisits old ones, some we haven’t seen in a long time, linking them into a shared world that spins a little faster than our own.
Scott Phillips returns with a jaundiced, funny vengeance in this tale of California scheming with a down-and-out attorney devising an art fraud plan with a questionable group of characters, reminding us he mixes black humor, sex, crime, and scumbags like no other.
Line Of Sight by James Queally
My favorite private eye novel of the year introduced Russell Avery, a former reporter who used to uncover police corruption, now working as an investigator who specializes in clearing cops. When asked by a political activist to look into a questionable shooting of a drug dealer, his ideals and life get put on the line as he navigates a no man’s land between cops and criminals where even the closest to you are hard to trust. I hope this isn’t the last time we see Avery.

You can find the titles listed here online at BookPeople today.

Meike’s Top 10 Reads of 2020

Bookseller, former Events Host, and avid mystery reader Meike dishes on her ten favorite reads of the year. How does your stack compare?

2020 saw the (hopefully temporary) elimination of my role as an Event Host at BookPeople, but the folks over there were kind enough to ask me to weigh in on some of my favorite titles of the year. If there was any silver lining to this otherwise miserable year, it was the remarkable quality and diversity of the crime fiction titles that were released—and the extra free time allowed me to take full advantage by reading  more widely than I might have otherwise. Narrowing my favorites down to only 10 was a challenge—there are many more that deserve to be mentioned in any summary of the year’s best. Below are some highlights which I’ve listed in alphabetical order only because rating them in any other manner would be almost impossible.


And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

Private investigator Grayson Sykes is hired for her first big case at Rader Consulting—to find Isabel Lincoln, the missing wife of Dr. Ian O’Donnell. But Isabel seems to have left virtually no trace, so part of the mystery is whether her absence is intentional. While this is a cleverly-plotted PI procedural, Howzell Hall tackles issues ranging from race to domestic abuse to toxic masculinity to the lasting effects of childhood trauma—all of which to conspire to leave the reader solidly hooked into a compelling and eye-opening drama.


Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby

This will be on almost every top 10 list you see this year, and with good reason—it’s an adrenaline rush that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let up. Beauregard “Bug” Montage, like his father before him, was once one of the best getaway drivers in the South but he’s worked hard to leave that life behind. He wants to succeed where his own father failed–he loves his wife and kids deeply and desperately wants to make an honest living. More than anything he wants to give them the stable family life he himself missed out on. But the odds are stacked against people like Bug, and he just can’t resist that one more “can’t miss” opportunity—which of course does exactly that to spectacular effect. 


The Bright Lands by John Fram

I was living in a small Texas town when my sons’ football team won the state football championship, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this debut. Joel Whitley couldn’t get out of his home town of Bentley fast enough when his homosexuality was outed in a most humiliating way. But when he receives a troubling message from his younger brother Dylan, the star quarterback of Bentley’s high school football team, he reluctantly returns—only to have Dylan go missing a short time later. As he hunts for Dylan some long-buried secrets come to light—and some people will go to any lengths to make sure those secrets stay deeply buried. Framm nails the small town obsession with high school football but this is no Friday Night Lights—Friday Night Darkness might be more apt.


Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Newlyweds Sam and Annie leave NYC behind so that Sam can establish a therapy practice in his small upstate New York hometown. The practice is thriving—Sam’s a popular therapist, especially with his female clients—but Sam doesn’t realize that every word of his sessions can be heard in the room upstairs through a vent in his office ceiling. One day he leaves for work and doesn’t come home, and Annie is left wondering how well she really knows her husband. It’s tough to say more about this book without revealing spoilers, but there are some fantastic twists that absolutely blindsided me.


Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich

This is the third installment in Panowich’s Southern Noir trilogy set in the fictional North Georgia McFalls County. Ex-arson investigator Dane Kirby is pulled into an FBI investigation when a mutilated body is found in Jacksonville, Florida. The investigation circles around to a gambling ring run by some of the baddest Southern outlaws imaginable; Dane has a history with these men and must learn to come to terms with a tragedy that threatens to destroy him. It’s a dark and gritty tale filled with bad men, but balanced by complex female characters that give heart to the saga.


He Started It by Samantha Downing

Downing’s My Lovely Wife (about a married couple keeping things spicy by committing murder) made my list in 2019, and her sophomore effort does not disappoint. Siblings Beth, Portia, and Eddie haven’t seen each other in years but when their wealthy grandfather dies they are not only forced to reconnect—they’re required to reenact the road trip their grandfather took them on as kids. As if a long car ride with your siblings isn’t enough reason to commit murder, some long buried secrets come to light and confrontations ensue. (Personal note: I raised 3 kids and loved seeing someone explore the fraught emotions of adult sibling rivalry. I’m considering re-writing my will.)


Long Bright River by Liz Moore

This gritty and gripping police procedural illuminates multiple aspects of the opioid crisis and its wide-ranging effects. Michaela “Mickey” Fitzpatrick is a Philly beat cop patrolling the deteriorating Kensington neighborhood where she grew up, and where almost every resident’s life has been affected by the booming drug trade. When a series of murders rocks the neighborhood Mickey realizes that she hasn’t seen her younger sister Kacey in several weeks. Kacey has been living rough, turning tricks to support her addiction. Although the adult sisters are estranged, as children they were inseparable and Mickey has always felt responsible for Kacey. As she hunts for both Kacey and the killer, Mickey is forced to come to terms with the long tail of trauma both girls experienced as children.


The French Widow by Mark Pryor

As a bookseller, I absolutely love Pryor’s Hugo Marston series because I can recommend it to just about anyone looking for a good mystery. The series is set in Paris and features Hugo Marston, a cowboy-boot wearing Texan transplant who works as head of security for the American embassy—so lovers of espionage enjoy the international intrigue. The books have just the right amount of violence—they satisfy lovers of darker tales while not upsetting devotees of more cozy fiction. Although the main characters are the straight arrow Hugo and his freewheeling best friend Tom, they’re balanced by the sophisticated and independent Claudia—the kind of strong, complex female character that’s often under-represented crime fiction. And then there’s the setting–Pryor’s deep love of Paris is evident in his references to its beauty and history (not to mention the occasional glowing descriptions of its culinary offerings). Hugo’s latest challenge is to find out who attacked a young woman at a historic Paris chateau on the same night four valuable paintings are stolen while facing considerable media and police attention. Pryor’s books are best enjoyed with a café-au-lait and croissant at hand—you are welcome.


These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Five very different women who live in the West Adams neighborhood of South LA are connected by a serial killer—but this is their story, not his. Told in a kaleidoscope of overlapping viewpoints, this beautiful story shines a light on women who are frequently overlooked and examines why their stories often don’t seem to matter to everyone.


Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

I love reading about the history of indigenous people and I love reading crime fiction—so I was thrilled by this debut novel that both entertains and educates. (It was my pick for this year’s BookPeople Holiday Catalog.) Virgil Wounded Horse works as a kind of private enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation is South Dakota—when the tribal council and US law enforcement fail to prosecute crimes (often those committed against women and children) family members hire Virgil to exact his own unique type of punishment. (The book kicks off with a bang as Virgil beats the CRAP out of a rapist behind a bar!) His vigilantism takes a personal turn when his nephew becomes ensnared by the booming drug trade on the reservation. Wanbli Weiden is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation and brings an authenticity to the issues faced by his Native American characters. The fact that he’s such a talented storyteller results in one of the most exciting debuts of 2020.

You can find each title listed in-store and online at BookPeople.

Scott’s Top Ten (Eleven, Actually) Crime Fiction Books of 2020 So Far

Meike joined us on the blog earlier this week to discuss her ten favorite mystery reads of 2020 so far. Now it’s Scott M.’s turn to chime in. Read on to see what he’s been vibing with during this…unusual…year. It’s no mystery that books have been sustaining us all throughout this ordeal.

This year the halfway point list seems more important than ever. Many great books got lost when the pandemic hit. MysteryPeople was down, unable to crow about many of these fantastic reads. So here are the books that impressed me the most in the first six months of 2020.


1. The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

A waitress looks for answers and justice in her Ozark town after her twelve year-old daughter is murdered along with her friend. The deeper she goes, the more she becomes the woman she’s always feared being- her criminal mother. This rural noir packs one hell of a punch.



2. City Of Margins by William Boyle
This story looks at how a murder in the past effects several citizens who feel trapped in their Brooklyn life. Funny and heartbreaking, Boyle understands his characters like no other author.
3. Of Mice And Minestrone by Joe R. Lansdale
The author delivers a half dozen short stories that look at the formative years of his characters, Hap and Leonard. The stories run the gamut from fun genre romps, bittersweet nostalgia, and poignant character studies, showing some sides you haven’t seen from them.
4. Poison Flood by Jordan Farmer
A hunchback songrwriter is pulled out of his reclusive life during a storm that causes an enviromental disaster in his Appalcahian town from the chemical plant leak and leads to him witnessing a murder. Farmer hits to the emotional bone of his wounded characters.
5. Broken by Don Winslow
Winslow delivers five novellas that range from a fun cat and mouse  game between a cop and thief to a gritty story about a family of New Orleans police out for vengeance. He introduces us to new characters and revisits old favorites, proving in each piece the master storyteller he is.
6. The Burn by Kathleen Kent
Detective Betty Rhyzyk returns in this exciting police thriller. When informants are getting murdered and word on the street that several kilos have been stolen from the cartel, Betty has to escape from desk duty when the killings hit close to home with one of her fellow cops possibly involved.
7. That Left Turn At Albuquerque by Scott Phillips
A lawyer has to make up the money lost on a drug deal gone wrong through an art scam. His partner in crime, his wife, mistress, and an oddball forger all make this crime being far from perfect. Funny and profane with characters you love either despite or because of their lack of morality.
8. Lockdown edited by Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle & Both Sides edited by Gabino Igesias
These two anthologies, one dealing with a year-long pandemic and the other looking at the many angles of human migration, run the gamut of tone, style, and perspective. Some are funny, many horrifying, and all break down their subject to its most human elements.
9. Trouble Is What I Do by Walter Mosley
Mosley brings back New York PI Leonoid McGill as he tries to get a message from an old Black bluesman to his soon-to-be-wedded granddaughter. He has to use his street smarts and contacts to get past the woman’s rich and powerful father who wants to keep his mixed heritage a secret. A great, tight piece of pulp, packing social weight.
10.  Lost River by J. Todd Scott
Scott examines the human devastation of the opioid epidemic in this gritty, epic thriller of a one violent day that entwines a Kentucky lawman, DEA agent, and EMT. Some of the most vivid writing about the drug war since Don Winslow.

These titles and more are available to order from BookPeople today.

You can refer to this page to understand availability and find our more about curbside pickup service here.

Top Dozen Favorite Crime Novels Of The Last Decade

This last decade redefined crime fiction in many ways with just one book: Gone Girl. We saw the rise of domestic suspense, more awareness of female voices, and publishers worrying less about the characters being “likable”. Craig Johnson’s success ushered in a small wave of cowboy crime fiction. More small presses gave us  more unique and diverse voices. Streaming and cable channels even turned to our genre more, allowing us to influence another media. There was a lot a great work by a lot great authors. Here is what stuck with me.

1. Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer
After I finished this novel, I vowed to read it at least once every decade of my life, knowing I didn’t have the experience to fully appreciate what Benjamin Whitmer was doing. This story of a man who clears the debris after disasters whose perpetual mourning for his dead son drives him into criminal and violent situations is poignant as it is unflinching. The author gives a searing portrait of people on the edge and shows what happens when they are pushed.
2. Dare Me by Megan Abbott
No crime fiction author accomplished as much in this decade as Megan Abbott. This book about the power dynamics in a high school cheerleading squad and the murder tied to it is already on it’s way to being a classic. It serves as a fine example of the author’s talent for telling beautifully dark stories that delve into the extreme emotions involved in competition, ambition, and desire, especially from a female perspective.
3. The Long Drop by Denise Mina
This could possibly be the author’s masterpiece. She weaves the true events of one of Glasgolw’s most infamous murder trials in the fifties through a pub crawl from Hell with the man on trail and the husband and father of two of the victims. Mina’s look at the media, the dark  side of male nature, and the sins of both commission and omission won’t leave you soon.
4. Junkyard Dogs and Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson
These two books showed the range in this ongoing series about the most put upon sheriff in Wyoming that came into it’s full popularity and voice in these last ten years. Junkyard Dogs demonstrate Johnson’s humor in all it’s colors and tones as the sheriff gets embroiled in secrets and scandals between the town’s most prominent family and the one of the more notorious. Hell Is Empty gives us a relentless action thriller that makes you feel every bump and bruise Walt acquires while chasing down a cunning killer on a mountain.
9780670021826   9780670022779
5. The Ranger by Ace Atkins
This novel kicked off one of the best series of late featuring Quinn Colson, an army ranger who takes his fight to the homefront in standing up to the tide of corruption and crime in his Mississippi town. Atkins taps into his many loves from Faulkner, fifties crime fiction, seventies southern-set action films, and The Andy Griffith Show for a character that grows with more complexity in a modern small town setting that is far from simple itself.
6. Where It Hurts and What You Break by Reed Farrel Coleman
It’s a shame this series featuring Gus Drury, a former Long Island cop, still deep in the loss of his teenage son, who finds himself in cases both emotionally and physically harrowing, came to an abrupt halt. No one uses the private eye novel to examine the human condition at Coleman’s level and he was reaching new heights with Gus. Hopefully a savvy publisher will allow Gus’s literary life to continue.
9780425283271_28599   9780399173042_2590b
7. The Kings Of Cool by Don Winslow
This prequel to Savages not only looks at the early lives of Ben, Chon, and O, three friends bound in the marijuana business, but their parents as well, when the earlier generation found themselves together in the Southern California of the 1960s. Winslow not only gives us a great crime thriller but a meditation on two generations. One monologue from one of the parents almost completely explains how a generation who fought against one war in the jungle allowed another one in the desert to take their children.
8. Hollow Man by Mark Pryor
This underrated psycho-noir that follows the execution and fall out of a robbery planned by Dominic, an Austin prosecutor, musician, and sociopath is chilling in its mood and tone that never judges. After spending some time in this anti-hero’s mind, you might find Tom Ripley more warm and cuddly.
This heartbreaker of a debut novel about a young man caught between love and the loyalty to his criminal father’s way of life brought a brilliant new voice to the rural noir genre that the author has since built upon. I could have easily put his last book, The Line That Held Us, in this spot.
10. The Cartel by Don Winslow
Winslow’s sequel to The Power Of The Dog, which turned out to be the second in an unplanned trilogy, follows the war on drugs in the nineties and turn of the millennium as DEA agent Art Keller goes back to war with cartel head Adan Barrerra. Winslow finely and clearly weaves several subplots and characters, often based on true events and people, to give the reader an epic view of the war and it’s devastating effect on the Mexican people, informing both mind and heart.

These titles and other great thrillers are available for purchase in-store and online at BookPeople now.

Scott’s Ten (Okay, Twelve) Favorite Crime Novels Of 2019

It was hard to pair down my list for this year with great books this year. Books that would have been here on any other year and are sure to be on other people’s list had to be sacrificed, like Craig Johnson’s latest Walt Longmire, Land Of Wolves, Rob Hart’s great dystopian thriller The Warehouse, and David C. Taylor’s fifties cop turned political thriller Night Watch. Even with the elimination, I had to find a way to squeeze twelve into my top ten. All these books share a great storytelling skill that delivers the goods of their subgenre while also provoking thought or delivering a different perspective to the reader.

If you follow MysteryPeople, you need to read this. Boyle’s road trip of a retired porn star, a mob widow, and her granddaughter in a stolen 63′ Impala with a bag of mafia cash is often funny, at times terrifying, and always defying expectations. This book is much more than it’s great buddy premise as it looks at how we deal with life’s choices and the strength of female friendship. Once again, two actresses over fifty need to snap this property up.
Dry County by Jake Hinkson
Hinkson examines small town life and the many forms of faith as we follow a domino effect of crime, sin, and violence on the Easter weekend of 2016 when the local minister is blackmailed by one of his parishioners. Hinkson shows a true understanding of his characters and delivers my favorite last line in a book this year.
Trigger by David Swinson, Galway Girl by Ken Bruen, and Metropolis by Phillip Kerr
The beautiful swan songs of three of my favorite private detectives. Addict detective Frank Marr deals with his new found sobriety and develops a relationship with a new partner that has me hoping Swinson will return to him. Ken Bruen finds a grace note to leave his beleaguered Galway “finder” Jack Taylor and delivers one of the best endings of the year, and Phillip Kerr, knowing he was dying, summed up Bernie Gunther in a poignant fashion, by taking him back before any of the previous books, putting him on his first case as a homicide detective. If you have to say goodbye, these three authors show you how to do it.
9780316264259_86923     9780802147936_bb963     9780735218895_e554a
Conviction by Denise Mina
Mina delivers her most accessible book without compromising in this thriller about a dumped trophy wife traveling with a male anorexic former pop star to do a podcast  that will exonerate a man from her secret past. One of Mina’s funniest books, it never backs away from the messiness of her characters, creating an ode to the power of broken people.
End Of The Ocean by Matthew McBride
McBride fuses Graham Greene and Elmore Leonard together with his own unique voice as he looks at love and smuggling in Indonesia. His rich character study leads into a harrowing thriller that culminates it one heartbreaker of an ending.
End of the Ocean
The Border by Don Winslow
Winslow winds up DEA agent, now director, Art Keller’s involvement with the war on drugs, bringing the history to the present and our country’s sins on our doorstep. The author juggles several story lines and a dozen characters, keeping you involved, informed, and enraged.
Paper Son by S.J Rozan
New York private detectives Lydia Chin and Bill Smith return in a mystery that takes them to the Mississippi delta to clear Lydia’s cousin of a murder rap. Rozan delivers a well crafted detective tale while giving us a tour of the Chinese-American culture in the deep south.
The Book Artist by Mark Pryor
Pryor pushed his craft by telling two stories featuring his hero, Hugo Marston, head of security for the U.S. embassy in Paris. In one, Hugo has to clear his lover, Claudia, of murder and he has to deal with a killer from his friend Tom Green’s and his FBI past. The author deftly pulls them off, using both stories to question love and friendship.
The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
When a new teacher at a second rate boarding school learns about the secret of “dark room” that diminishes the female students, she sets up a plot with some of the girls that lead to dire consequences. Lutz’s deft use of humor and her examination of gender politics creates a perfect thriller for our times that may become timeless.
Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin
A podcaster looks into the thrill killing couple responsible for his mother’s death and opens up a string of violence when he learns one of them could still be alive. Gaylin creates a thrilling novel, delving into media, family, and perception.

Look for these thrilling reads and more when you shop with us in-store and online!

Five Favorite Debut Novels of 2019

With a lot of the heavy hitters knocking out some of their best this year, it was great to see some newcomers announce their presence. Here are the five favorite debuts of MysteryPeople.

Three-Fifths by John Vercher
This book dives into race like no other with a young man hiding his racial identity and dealing with witnessing his Aryan Brotherhood friend beat a black man into a coma. Vercher creates true, lived in characters on the hard luck side of life, struggling with the traps and divisions they’ve created for themselves.
Ain’t Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellet
A funny gritty rural crime novel about family, land, and Dr. Pepper with a former sheriff seeking redemption by solving the murder of the local pig hunter. Ellet precisely captures country life and people in their wit, dark impulses, and community.
The Girl In The Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A nanny with secrets uncovers those for the family she works, putting her charge and herself in danger. Dimberg creates strong and unique moods from intimate human behavior and putting evil out in the harsh sunlight of her Arizona setting.
Murderabilia by Carl Vandernau
The son of an infamous serial killer is framed for murder by a mysterious adversary. To clear his name, he must deal in the grotesque world of people to buy and sell art by famous murderers and face his father. A tight, well developed thriller with an ending both poignant and unsettling.
Murderabilia Cover with quote
Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins
Austin genealogist Lucy Lancaster becomes involved in a murder and assassination plot when she discovers the ancestor of one senatorial candidate may have murdered the other’s ancestor. Perkins creates a great amateur sleuth, using her skills and city to great effect.

You can find these great mystery titles in-store (along with other thrilling reads) or shop with us online!

MysteryPeople’s Five Favorite Texas Crime Novels of 2019

It’s that time we start making our lists of favorites. This year had several great novels about crime in Texas. They ranged in subgenres and authors, capturing different flavors of Texas. Once again, our authors proved, like the state’s music, there’s something special about Lone Star crime fiction. All of these are either sequels or part of a book series, proving you can’t keep a good Texan down.

1. The Lost Are The Last To Die by Larry Sweazy
Larry brought back Sonny Burton, the Texas Ranger who lost his arm with a shoot out with Bonnie and Clyde, from his novel A Thousand Falling Crows. Tasked with hunting down an escaped convict he has a history with, he finds himself facing his limits and violence in his life. Sweazy paints a vivid portrait of two men and how they have both dealt with their brutal world.
2. Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke
Another return of a Texas ranger, this time it’s Darren Matthews. The black lawman is assigned to find the missing son of an imprisoned Aryan Brotherhood leader, taking him to a town that celebrates antebellum life. Locke takes a precise examination of race, history, and point of view in the Trump era.
3. This Side Of Night by J. Todd Scott
Sheriff Chris Cherry faces both his first election and a cartel across the border in his latest gritty adventure for him and his deputies. Scott infuses the feel of an epic western into his crime novel through human and honorable heroes, hard ass bad men, and a mix of history and legend. All that and the writing’s just damn good.
Small town Chief Of Police Samuel Craddock takes on a personal case when his close friend Loretta goes missing. Shames builds a suspenseful plot with the right amount of humor and rich character development as she dissects Texas town life.
5. The Elephant Of Surprise by Joe R. Lansdale
Lansdale throws his boys Hap And Leonard into a relentless series of fights and chases when they rescue an albino Asian America woman with her tongue partially cut in half, all with a large storm coming down. Lansdale pares the series down to its basics, delivering a perfect punch of pulp.


You can find these tiles and many more of our mystery favorites in-store and online at BookPeople!


2019 is proving to be a great year for crime fiction. Authors are stretching themselves in creative ways. Nobody’s timid. I’ve already read three books over five hundred pages. There was also great work in a range of subgenres. I couldn’t just pick the usual ten in what I see as the standouts from January to June .

A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself Cover Image1. A Friend Is A Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle

One of the freshest pieces of crime fiction to come around for a while. Also one of the funniest, with a mob widow and an ex-porn star on the road to Florida in a stolen classic Impala with a bunch of mob cash and several unsavory men on their trail. Every character is fully drawn out, and the relationship between these two ladies who find each other is complex and nuanced.


Metropolis (A Bernie Gunther Novel #14) Cover Image2. Metropolis by Philip Kerr

A beautiful swan song for the late Kerr and his character Bernie Gunther. Ironically, he delivers a fitting ending by taking him back to his beginning on his first homicide as a KRIPO detective, hunting a killer of prostitutes and homeless vets. It puts him in touch with many of Berlin’s artists of the time and provides heartbreaking foreshadowing of things to come.


Conviction Cover Image3. Conviction by Denise Mina

Mina delivers a suspenseful and often humorous thriller with wonderful touches of humanity in a tale of a dumped trophy wife with a secret past and a male anorexic former pop star out to solve an old murder through podcast. A great example of an author delivering a more accessible novel without compromise.



The Border: A Novel (Power of the Dog #3) Cover Image4. The Border by Don Winslow

Winslow puts an end to his Drug Wars epic with one big literary exclamation point. Populated by characters who live in a world where the choices are between bad or worse, no matter what side of the law you operate, this book serves as a great argument for legalization.



Trigger (Frank Marr #3) Cover Image5. Trigger by David Swinson

Swinson wraps up his trilogy with drug addict PI Frank Marr, with Frank trying to clear his former police partner of a bad shooting. Full of human and thematic ambiguity that defines a great detective novel. Here’s hoping Frank Marr can pick up another case now and then.



This Storm: A novel Cover Image6. This Storm by James Ellroy

The second installment of Ellroy’s World War Two L.A. quartet explores the allure of fascism as it continues to follow the investigations, crimes, and sins of his LAPD members and the women drawn to them. A huge, big picture kind of book that gives a wild ride through a Hollywood Hell.


End of the Ocean Cover Image7. End Of The Ocean by Matthew McBride

Elmore Leonard meets Graham Greene in this tale of an American licking his divorce wounds in Bali, who becomes involved in smuggling to be with the island woman he fell in love with. Use of finely drawn players, an intriguing setting, humorous dialogue, and harrowing suspense create a character driven thriller that probes the idea of love.


The Book Artist (Hugo Marston #8) Cover Image8. The Book Artist by Mark Pryor

Pryor’s latest Hugo Marston novel, has the head of our Paris embassy’s security trying to clear girlfriend Claudia of murder and teaming up with buddy Tom Green to put an end to a ghost from their past. A well crafted, cleanly written mystery and thriller that also looks into the complications of relationships.



A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary: A Samuel Craddock Mystery (Samuel Craddock Mysteries) Cover Image9. A Risky Undertaking For Loretta Singletary by Terry Shame

Police Chief Samuel Craddock tries to find his missing pal Loretta, taking him into the world of computer dating. Shames’s knowledge of small town life and her characters help create a believable, suspenseful, and at times humorous mystery.



Night Watch Cover Image10. Night Watch by David C. Taylor

Fifties New York cop Michael Cassidy returns, catching a homicide that leads to the CIA, former Nazis, and a tenacious assassin. Once again, Taylor brings time and place to vibrant life.




Murder Once Removed (Ancestry Detective #1) Cover Image11. Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins

An Austin genealogist gets involved in politics and murder when she discovers the ancestor of a senate candidate possibly murdered the relative of his opponent in the past. The beginning of a light mystery series that shows richness, humor, and promise.



The Elephant of Surprise (Hap and Leonard) Cover Image12. Elephant Of Surprise by Joe Lansdale

In this stripped down and relentless Hap and Leonard yarn, the boys try to protect a young albino Chinese American woman from an ever growing number of killers during one of the biggest storms in East Texas. The actions and banter are non stop as Joe gives us pure pulp pleasure.

Scott Montgomery’s Top 10 Crime Novels Of 2018

Emotion was the consistent thing that made crime fiction great in 2018: whether the lead was a hard boiled detective or Brooklyn woman looking for redemption, the lead lived in the suburbs of New York State or Ancient Rome, each author mined what they were going through with their bruised hearts speaking to ours. Here are the ten I thought spoke the most clearly.

The Man Who Came Uptown Cover ImageThe Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos

A truly humane hard boiled tale of a man fresh out of jail, blackmailed into going back to his life of crime, who finds solace in a job well done, books, and the prison librarian who turned him on to reading. Pelecanos aims for the quieter moments in this story to deliver real people and emotions.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Another piece of beautiful, dark prose poetry from the queenpin of noir set in the world of science a tale that female competition, friendship, and the burden of secrets. Abbott continues to push the genre in new directions without ever clipping off its roots.

The Lonely Witness by William Boyle

A former party girl who has retreated into a more enclosed life finds herself returning to her ways of the night when she witnesses a murder. A gritty crime novel that explores society, mind, and heart with eloquence and pathos.

Depth Of Winter by Craig Johnson

Sheriff Walt Longmire searches for his kidnapped daughter in Narco Mexico and a final confrontation with his nemesis Tomas Bidarte. Johnson proves he can retain the humanity of his hero, even when placed in the most inhumane of situations.

The Line (A Sergeants Sueño and Bascom Novel #13) Cover ImageThe Line by Martin Limon

Limon starts out with the best opening of the year with Army CID investigators Sueno and Bascome examining a murder victim on the demarcation bridge with North Korean and U.S. armies pointing rifles at each other, then unravels a mystery that examines the plight of women in both Korean and military society. This series has hit its stride with no evidence of faltering.

The Line That Held Us by David Joy

Joy gives us a rural noir set up of a poacher who has his friend help him bury the town tough’s brother he accidentally shot and sets us on an intimate tale of friendship, adulthood, and grace. Best introduction of an antagonist (who may be the protagonist) this year.

In The Galway Silence by Ken Bruen

Bruen somehow finds an even more harrowing rabbit hole for his Jack Taylor to go down, facing off against a killer who calls himself Silence out to take the remains of his shattered life. A crime thriller of style, wit, and madness that perfectly reflects our times.

What You Want to See: A Roxane Weary Novel Cover ImageWhat You want To See by Kristine Lepionka

In the second Roxane Weary novel, the Ohio PI tries to clear her client for murder and dives first into a real estate scam where the con artists have no problem with killing to cover their tracks. Lepionka brings all the goods for a great private eye read.

If I Die Tonight by Allison Gaylin

Gaylin weaves through the dark side of suburbia and social media in this thriller concerning a teen killed while supposedly saving a former teen pop star from a car jacking. Through a jigsaw puzzle of several perspectives, the reader puts together a narrative that questions how we interact with one another today.

Throne Of Caesar by Steven Saylor

Gordianus The Finder is confronted with another historical crime while dealing with the assassination of the emperor during The Ides Of March. An entertaining blend of well researched history that brings time and place alive and skillfully drawn characters (both historical and fictional) that does the same for the emotions.