Scott’s Top Ten of 2016 (Make it a dozen. Okay, fifteen or sixteen.)

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

This was a great year for crime fiction. Established authors experimented with new ideas or pushed what they were doing further. People with great debuts in 2015 proved it wasn’t just beginners luck this year. 2016’s new releases were so good, it was difficult to narrow them down, so I put a few together and made it a dozen.

97803991730351. Anything and All Things Reed Farrel Coleman

This year Coleman started a new character, ex-Suffolk-County-cop-turned-sorta-PI Gus Murphy (Where It Hurts), ended the series featuring dwarf detective Gulliver Down (Love & Fear), and delivered a Game Change in the life of Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone (Debt To Pay.) All of it was executed with a poet’s choice of words, haunting emotions, and believable leads in a struggle to find who they are and what matters to them. He also had brilliant short stories in the anthologies Crime Plus Music and Unloaded. It wouldn’t surprise me if Reed made out some moving grocery lists as well.

97803995743202. The Second Life Of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton

Possibly one of the best crafted crime novels in a decade. Nick Mason finishes a twenty-year stretch in five due to a criminal kingpin who runs his empire from the inside. Upon Mason’s release the kingpin’s lawyer hands him a cell phone that is the condition of his release – he must answer the phone at any time and do whatever he is told on the other end. Everything Hamilton sets up in the first few chapters falls beautifully into place by the end.

97803162310773. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

This dark, morally complex tale looks at ambition and the dynamics of family support for their gymnastics prodigy daughter as the family and community react to a murder that occurs in their sporting community. Abbott further pushes the boundaries of noir.

97805254269434. An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson

Sheriff Walt Longmire, Henry Standing Bear, and Deputy Vic Moretti find themselves having to solve a mystery in a town overrun by a motorcycle rally. Guns, outlaw bikers, federal agents and a woman from Henry’s past all play a part in unraveling the final mystery. Johnson strips down the cast to his most essential characters for one of the most entertaining books in the series.

97800623698575. What Remains Of Me by Alison Gaylin

A multi-layered psychological Hollywood thriller, in which a present-day murder of an actor is tied to the past murder of a director, and the same woman gets blamed for both. Gaylin’s character development beautifully dovetails with a plot that is never revealed until the final sentence. Beautiful, stunning work.

97803991739506. The Innocents by Ace Atkins

The latest and angriest of The Quinn Colson novels has our country boy hero and Sheriff Lillie Virgil solving a torturous murder of a former cheerleader, dealing with the worst aspects of Southern small town society. A book that enrages as it entertains.

97803079612737. Dr. Knox by Peter Spiegelman

Spiegelman introduces us to his new series character, a doctor who keeps his Skid Row clinic afloat by making “house calls” with his mercenary pal to the rich, famous, and criminal, who don’t need anything reported on medical records. A very interesting, complex hero, and an interesting look at L.A.

97812500099688. Murder At The 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane

In Murder at the 42nd Street Library, Con Lehane introduces us to another great new character, Raymond Ambler, Curator of the Crime Fiction Collection for the New York Public Library and amateur sleuth. A satisfying mystery with a lived-in, warm look at friendship and a worker’s look at New York.

97819438181749.City of Rose & South Village by Rob Hart

The seconds and third installments following unlicensed private eye Ash McKenna takes him to two very different places, tracking down a stripper’s daughter in Portland and a solving a murder on his friend’s Georgia commune, charting a progression of a broken man putting the pieces of himself together. Plot and character meld seamlessly into this compelling tale of a lone hero who feels he can not be a part of the society he helps.

978076537485110. Night Work by David C Taylor

This follow up to veteran screenwriter David C. Taylor’s debut, Night Life, has police detective Michael Cassidy protecting Castro during his famous New York visit. Taylor makes the city and period a living, vibrant thing coming off the page.

11. Shot In Detroit by Patricia Abbott9781940610825

This story about a photographer who gets obsessed with a project involving young black men challenges us at every turn about race, class, and art and crime fiction itself. It is a book where the author complements the reader by assuming you are as intelligent and open to difficult topics as she is.

978098913299212. Genuinely Dangerous by Mike McCrary and Kiss The Devil Goodnight by Jonathan Woods

Two dark wild rides through a pulp hell that is pure Heaven for crime fiction fans. if Barry Gifford was still running Black Lizard he would have signed these guys up.

I Could Fit Five Bodies in the Trunk of My Sedan: MysteryPeople Q&A with Patrick Millikin

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The Highway Kind is a collection of short crime fiction, dealing with cars, driving, and the road. It features crime and general fiction and even a singer/songwriter. Authors include the likes of Joe Lansdale, Ace Atkins, and Michael Connelly. We talked to to the editor Patrick Millikan about cars and crime.

MysteryPeople Scott: How did the idea of The Highway Kind come about?

Patrick Millikan: My original thought was that it would be cool to have an anthology of crime stories in which each author chose a particular car and wrote a story about it. The cars would be prominently featured. I was surprised that there hadn’t been (at least to my knowledge) a collection like it. Over time the idea morphed into something, at least in my opinion, much more interesting. As I mention in the preface, when I commissioned the stories I left the guidelines pretty open – the pieces would simply be about “cars, driving and the road.” As the stories started to come in I was surprised and intrigued by how personal, almost confessional, many of them were.

Read More »

Bouchercon Recap: Part 1

– Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

book-haul-scott

New Orleans is a city known for sin, drinking, and corruption; a perfect place for the 2016 Bouchercon where hundreds of crime novelists, publishers, and fans meet. I’ve been going solo to these things, but this time I was joined by my fellow MysteryPeople, newly named Director Of Suspense Molly Odintz and and MysteryPeople Blogger Meike Alana to divide and and conquer. That said, I was still exhausted after I was done.

Even the panels were more rollicking than usual. When Moderator Laura Lippman spoke on behalf of Megan Abbott on their “Real Housewives” discussion, panelist Greg Herren called up Megan to see if Laura was right. for the record, she was. On a panel on vigilante justice in crime fiction Stuart Neville questioned the authors who talked about the need for a vigilante hero, by saying it is a fascist trope. A panel on the use of violence got interesting when Taylor Stevens, author of The Informationist, talked about the need for it in her writings. “Our characters are gladiators in the arena and our readers want to see them get bloodied.”

Read More »

MysteryPeople Review: LAST FAIR DEAL GONE DOWN by Ace Atkins and Marco Finnegan

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780983693710Lately, many crime novelists have been crossing over into comics. Denise Mina did a run on Hellblazer, and there are new graphic novel versions of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. Greg Hurwitz, Jason Starr and Megan Abbott have contributed to The Punisher’s legend. Duane Swierzcynski and Victor Gischler have made second careers out of comics. The latest author to make the leap into the medium is Ace Atkins with the adaption of his short story, Last Fair Deal gone Down.

The graphic novel features Ace’s first series character, blues historian Nick Travers. His world gets rocked when Fats, one of his favorite sax players, is murdered. Nick hits the Big Easy back alleys looking for those responsible.

Atkins and artist Marco Finnegan completely compliment each other. Ace keeps the story tight and sparse, allowing the visuals to do much of the talking. It makes me want to see him do more work in comics. Finnegan has a knack for catching the right expression on a character, dialing down the dramatic moments, so they never veer into melodrama. The simple black and white inks and poetic hardboiled writing create the mood and even music for the story.

At the end of Last Fair Deal Gone Down, we are told to look out for an adaptation of Ace’s first Nick Travers novel, Crossroad Blues. I already am. Both artist and author are neither afraid of their emotions or influences. Last Fair Deal Gone Down is a fresh look at an old character.

You can find copies of Last Fair Deal Gone Down on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Come by BookPeople this upcoming Saturday, July 16th, at 3 PM, for an event with Ace Atkins, speaking and signing his latest addition to his critically acclaimed Quinn Colson series, The Innocents. 

MysteryPeople Q&A with Ace Atkins

  • Interview and Introduction by MysteryPeople Contributor Scott Butki

Ace Atkins, in his Mississippi-set Quinn Colson series, has written an amazing series full of fascinating well-developed characters dealing with creative plotlines. Too often book series focus too much on character at the expense of an interesting plot, or are guilty of the opposite; in possession of a good plot but thinly developed characters.

I’ve been praising this series for several years and I marvel that, with his new book, The Innocents, Atkins has upped his game even further. For The Innocents, the sixth in the series, he has made some significant changes: namely, Quinn isn’t sheriff for this novel and there’s a disturbing image at the heart of the book.

If writing this series was all Atkins did that’d be enough for many. But Atkins was also tapped, in 2011, by the Robert Parker estate to continue the Spenser series. He’s done a great job and I count his Spenser books as better than Parker’s late period books. As long as Ace keeps cranking out books, for both good series, I’m going to keep reading him and I urge you do to the same.

Ace kindly agreed to an interview about his latest novel and his ever-growing body of work. He’ll be joining us at BookPeople this upcoming Saturday, July 16th, at 3 PM, to speak and sign his latest Quinn Colson novel, The Innocents

Scott Butki: Which came first with this book, the plot, the new characters and/or the striking image of a girl walking while on fire? And where DID that girl-walking-while-on-fire come from?

Ace Atkins: The image of the girl for sure. A similar crime happened here in north Mississippi in 2014. While this is in no way the telling of the Jessica Chambers story, the horrific crime certainly was the starting point for the book. For a long while, even while I was writing the novel, it seemed her murder would remain unsolved. Thankfully someone has now been charged with her killing and awaiting trial.

Read More »

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: THE INNOCENTS by Ace Atkins

9780399173950– Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Ace Atkins’ latest Quinn Colson novel, The Innocents, burns with anger even as it delivers the fun dialogue and bad ass action you expect. At first, I thought the title was ironic, since just about every character is guilty of something. Atkins has focused on an issue of Southern culture, race, religion, politics, in each book. Here he covers everything and has a bone to pick with all topics included, even football.

The book picks up roughly a year after Quinn being kicked out as sheriff in The Redeemers. He returns home from training Afghani security forces policing techniques. He takes a new job as deputy under the new sheriff, his friend, Lillie Virgil.

Read More »

Three Picks for May

9780735220898The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

This novella featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire is as much ghost story as mystery. Walt and buddy Henry Standing Bear help out a Highway Patrolman who is receiving “officer needs assistance” calls from a trooper who died over thirty years ago. Johnson takes a unique riff on his entertaining series. The Highwayman comes out May 17th. Pre-order now!

9780399170850


Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn by Ace Atkins

Boston private eye Spenser is back and up against an uncommon enemy. Looking into the fire of a church, he closes on a group of arsonists with a mysterious agenda. Once again, Atkins delivers everything you expect from Robert B Parker’s hero. You can find copies of Slow Burn on our shelves and  via bookpeople.com

9780802313607


St. Ernan’s Blues by Paul Charles

Irish Inspector Starrett and his colleagues must solve a murder with the most unusual suspects, priests in an Abbey where they have all been moved to for causing problems with The Church. A fun take on the classic whodunnit. You can meet Paul Charles with the authors who make up Miles Arceneux on May 11th. You can find copies of St. Ernan’s Blues on our shelves and via bookpeople.comFind out more about this event