Guest Post: Libby Fischer Hellmann Talks Modern Surveillance

Libby Fischer Hellmann’s latest novel is Jump Cut. She left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Thirteen novels and twenty short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery writing community and has even won a few. More at http://libbyhellmann.com.

 

  • Guest Post from author Libby Fischer Hellmann 

Get Smart About Smart Phones

Smartphones are the go-to communication tool for pretty much everyone in the Western world these days. They’re powering the developing world too, letting more and more people access the web, make calls and send texts. All this communication creates a massive and complex information and data network. And opportunities for hackers – except, possibly, for iPhones, as Apple claims. In Jump Cut, the first Ellie Foreman thriller in ten years, Ellie finds herself under surveillance and needs to protect her communications, especially those on her smartphone. So I did some research on smartphones and how vulnerable they really are.

“In Jump Cut, the first Ellie Foreman thriller in ten years, Ellie finds herself under surveillance and needs to protect her communications, especially those on her smartphone. So I did some research on smartphones and how vulnerable they really are.”

Not Quite Smart Enough

Smart phones were originally developed without privacy or security, and they’re no good at protecting our personal communications. All the activity on smart phones can be watched and documented by governments and commercial interests, which we have little control over. They can even expose us to new surveillance risks like location tracking.

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Murder in the Afternoon Book Club to Discuss: DARE ME by Megan Abbott

dare meThe Murder In The Afternoon Book Club meeting time has changed! We will now meet on the third Monday of each month at 1 pm on BookPeople’s third floor.

Join us Monday, February 15, at 1 PM on BookPeople’s third floor, for a discussion of Dare Me, by Megan Abbott, who will join us via phone call during the discussion. You can find copies of Dare Me on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

  • Review by Bookseller Molly Odintz

Megan Abbott started off studying noir fiction, and moved over to writing her own, creating several historical crime novels so true to their period, they could have been written in the forties. Next, she took a turn to the contemporary, addressing the same themes of power, competition, sexuality, and obsession showcased by her early novels, but re-contextualizing them for today’s young women. Her last three novels – Dare Me, The End of Everythingand The Fever – have all taken on the dangerous lives of teenage girls, and gone far beyond an after-school special in tackling the real and present dangers and thrills of modern womanhood.

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Crime Fiction Friday: “The Loser” by George Wier

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George Weir will be joining us again for our Noir At The Bar February 16th, along with Jesse Sublett, John Schulian, and Joe R. Lansdale. Noir at the Bar meets at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field and starts at 7 PM. George will be promoting his latest, Errant Knight. At his first Noir At The Bar, he read this piece that was both dark and gross. For some reason we kept asking him back.

“The Loser” by George Wier

The Loser had the kind of face that made tougher guys want to use it as a punching bag, and his face bore the evidence that a series of such men had been unable to resist the temptation to do so in the past. His acne scars didn’t help matters, either.

He leaned with his backside against the chalk table and held an arm extended parallel with the plank floor of the place to grasp the cue stick held at perpendicular such that he could have been doing an audition for the part of Pharaoh in some local theater troupe, except for the fact ‘loser’ was practically written on his face. One corner of his mouth turned up to give him a know-it-all, sardonic, self-satisfied grin.

Erica saw him standing there like that, surveying the lay of the billiard balls before him, and was instantly drawn to him. That was Erica all over again ― always going for the losers.

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Crime Fiction Friday: “Killing The Quails” by Patrick Cooper

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Another new writer for the new year, Patrick Cooper, has already written pieces for Spinetingler and Out Of The Gutter. Here is a tight little piece from Shotgun Honey with a first sentence that hooks you and a last one that’s hard to forget.


“Killing The Quails” by Patrick Cooper


“I’ve killed Curtis Quail five times now. Six if you count the one at the flooded quarry. That was more of an accident. I meant to shoot him but he escaped down the edge of the quarry and wound up drowning. I got paid for that one, yeah, but in my heart I can’t really take credit for it. So five times. I’ve killed Curtis Quail five times…”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “The Stranger Outside The Shop” by Aaron Fox-Lerner

 

 

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It seemed appropriate to ring in the new year with a new writer. Aaron Fox-Lerner is building a name for himself with stories in Thuglit and Crime Factory. Here, in this short piece from Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder series, he gives us this slow-burn thriller with just a touch of the Twilight Zone.


“The Stranger Outside The Shop” by Aaron Fox-Lerner


“Right when I thought things were getting better, the stranger showed up. Every day, I could see him across the street, staring into the shop. And with the stranger came a series of incidents that grew increasingly serious…”

Read the rest of the story.

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: WHERE IT HURTS by Reed Farrel Coleman

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  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Reed Farrel Coleman has a knack for getting under his leads. They are men stumbling to find who they are after life has knocked out the identity they chose for themselves. We now get to start a new journey with the latest Coleman creation, Gus Murphy, in Where It Hurts.

Gus is a former Suffolk County cop, whose job and marriage have crumbled away after the death of his son. He works as a courtesy van driver for a fading hotel. A criminal he had arrested comes to him for a favor. His own son has been murdered and the police seem to have written it off. With the help of his former priest and an immigrant co-worker, Gus delves into a tangled web of drugs, remnants of the mafia, and city corruption.

Gus lives and travels in a world of decay…Coleman uses his lyrical prose style to eloquently express the working class bars and dreary houses.

Gus lives and travels in a world of decay. Whether the the hotel he works for or the mobsters he’s up against, everything is past its glory days if it ever had them. Coleman uses his lyrical prose style to eloquently express the working class bars and dreary houses. He uses these settings to briefly and beautifully reflect Gus’s emotional state, since Gus can not completely articulate it himself.

Where It Hurts puts us on an emotionally rocky road with Gus Murphy. The path may be dark but a light can be seen. There is not just hope for his character, but for humanity as well.

Reed Farrel Coleman will be speaking and signing his latest Saturday, January 30th at  5 PM. Where It Hurts hits the shelves January 26th. You can pre-order a signed copy via bookpeople.com. Coleman additionally joins us with his latest continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone Novels, The Devil Wins. All MysteryPeople events are free and open to the public. 

Click here for further event details, or to pre-order a signed copy of the book. 

MysteryPeople Q&A with Denise Mina

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Denise Mina’s latest Alex Morrow novel, intriguingly titled Blood, Salt, Water, is more of a ‘why done it’ than a ‘who done it.’ The detective inspector looks into what she initially suspects to be a mob killing, but the case proves both knottier in resolution and in morality when her investigation leads her to Helensburg, a small tourist town. Denise was kind enough to take enough to take some questions from us across the pond.

“It was a strange year, when I was writing this book. We had a referendum about whether Scotland wanted to leave the UK and become an independent country so EVERYTHING became about identity politics. It was like we all became teenagers again, the way teens are working out their identity obsessively and see everything as a statement about themselves. Even now, the Syrian War is discussed in terms of ‘what does this say about us’?”

MysteryPeople Scott:  Many of your novels are based on a true crime. Was this one?

Denise Mina: It was. Helensburgh is a beautiful town on the west coast of Scotland but there was a horrible house fire there and it turned out it was arson. The story that came out was that there had been a series of fires out there, caused by a gang of drugs dealers in the area. The town seemed to be waiting for permission to name the arsonist. Then there was a TV appeal featuring a reconstruction of the setting of the fire. A policeman played the part of the arsonist and the public were informed that CCTV was available. A lot of people called from the town, naming the same guy responsible, saying they recognised the guy in the film. I went to the court case when the guys were finally charged. It was bizarre.

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