Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
One of the best anthologies from 2016, a year of great anthologies, wasMississippi Noir. The stories included in the collection took a hard, if sometimes romantic, look at the underbelly of the state and many of the people who live on its fringes. Many of the writers included, like Megan Abbott and William Boyle, dig in to the psychology and circumstance behind characters’ emotions.
We caught up with the editor, lauded author Tom Franklin, to talk about putting together this noteworthy anthology, released as part of the Akashic Noir series, wherein each volume focuses on crime stories set in a different unique locale.
MysteryPeople Scott: My guess is that you got half your authors by stopping by Oxford’s City Grocery bar. How close am I and how did you go about gathering the rest?
Tom Franklin: Well, it happens that I know a lot of writers; and a lot of them live in Oxford; and we do love the City Grocery! So your guess is correct. But I also reached out to writers I don’t know personally. I reached out to writers I’d met on the road. I reached out to the big names, John Grisham (didn’t have a story at present), Greg Illes (working on his trilogy), Thomas Harris (no answer). I reached out to a couple of writers who never responded. Also, not wanting to rely only on my own devices, I asked the publisher to help me find contributors. Johnny Temple at Akashic found writers and we used some of their stories. Mississippi is just so chock-full of great writers that, in the end, we had more stories than we would use for the anthology. In the interest of fairness, I send the publisher all the stories we’d got together, gathered, and asked that he choose. And he did. He chose, almost entirely, what I’d have chosen.
Since the MysteryPeople crew will be in New Orleans next week at Bouchercon, we thought this week’s tale should be set there too. Luckily, we happened on one of our favorite writers, George Masters, who writes with a no-nonsense attitude that is compelling. From Akashics’ Monday’s Are Murder Section, he shows why the city is a perfect setting for crime.
Thirty-five minutes before kickoff, my brother Pat got a phone call at the Superdome from his wife Trudy.
Trudy was alone in the back of her antique store on Magazine. Pat walked in, and the bell on the door tinkled.
“What’s the problem?”
Trudy dropped a manila envelope on the counter. “Our daughter, the fucking movie star. No pun intended, and no, you don’t want to see it. Came in this morning’s mail. I want to kill somebody, and I’m not sure who.”’
Akashic Books recently released Mississippi Noir, edited by Tom Franklin, a great addition to their Noir series. The volume features established talent like Ace Atkins and Megan Abbott and talented up and comers like William Boyle. To get us amped for the collection, Akashic posted this great story set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Julie Smith on their Mondays Are Murder Site.
“You’re lyin’!” Forest said. “Not The Dutch Treat, please, Jesus. Anything but that!”
“AKA Spawn of Satan.”
They were at the Gulfport Shaggy’s, about to celebrate a decent haul on a pot deal with a late-morning bloody and there stood The Treat, looking less Dutch than usual, a little more redneck, talking to some senior stoner with ass-length white hair in a sectioned-off ponytail…’
After almost a decade, The Monkeewrench crew is back! Here, they put their skills to use with a mystery that goes back to the cold war. The mother-daughter team of P.J. Tracy are masters of mixing humor and vivid characters into their suspense. The Sixth Idea comes out today! You can find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Finally Akashic looks to the city with the highest U.S. crime rate. Scott Phillips has assembled a talented group to explore the race, class, and social divisions of this decaying city, providing levity with some dark comic relief. St. Louis Noir comes out today! You can find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Robinson’s follow-up to Hard Bounce has his bouncers Boo and Junior pinned for the murder of a man they playing a hand in beating up. Using a touch of humor and humanity, Todd Robinson proves he is one of the masters of modern tough-guy fiction. Rough Trade comes out August 9th.Pre-order today!
Our latest link to a story from Akashic’s ‘Mondays Are Murder’ Series in honor of International Crime Fiction Month takes us to Russia with a Muslim cleric as the lead. It is a great piece of suspense as well as a quirky meditation on religion.
‘A knock on the door interrupted Imam Galim’s late night tea. Resting in his apartment attached to the Qolşärif mosque—the largest mosque not only in Tatarstan’s capital, but all of Russia—he was watching the moon rise over the Kazanka River and the nearby Blagoveshchensk Cathedral.
The stranger at his door had the pale face of a fugitive. “The Russian goons are after me, Imam,” he blurted out, clutching a large duffel bag to his chest, as if holding his most precious possessions thrown together minutes before he left home. “Please hide me!”’
June is International Crime Fiction Month, brought into being by some of our favorite publishers to celebrate their incredible international fiction offerings. SoHo Press, Europa Editions, Melville House, and Akashic each have their own imprint for world crime lit, and their catalogs are a great place to start when seeking a murderous armchair vacation. SoHo is in the midst of celebrating their 25th anniversary, so check out our in-store display for some of our favorites from their international crime fiction catalogue. You can also find the first in many of SoHo’s series available for 9.99 as part of their “Passport to Crime Fiction” imprint, so now’s the time to try out some new series!
How does MysteryPeople plan to honor the diverse array of crime fiction from around the world and available at our fingertips? By geeking out about our favorite world crime fiction all month long!
But wait – there’s more! On Sunday, June 12th, at 2 PM, stop by the store for a panel discussion with critics, booksellers and authors, including Mark Pryor, Hopeton Hay, and Janice Hamrick, on the international crime fiction they love. We’ll feature our favorite international crime fiction on our blog before and after the panel, and those who attend the panel should find themselves pleasantly inundated in give-aways. Monday, June 13th, at 7 PM, MysteryPeople kicks off our Double Feature summer film series with a screening of the classic gothic noir, Rebecca, followed by a discussion of Daphne du Maurier’s novel versus Hitchcock’s adaption.
C. J. Howell
J. Todd Scott
Our author events for June represent well the glocal [global + local] purview of MysteryPeople. To wrap up our May Texas Writers’ Month celebration, on June 10th, we bring you two stunning literary voices of the southwest, C.J. Howell and J. Todd Scott, visiting with their new books Hundred Mile Viewand The Far Empty. Then we move into a proper authorial celebration of International Crime Fiction Month with a visit from Flynn Berry, who dwells in England but has visited our fair state before as an attendee of the prestigious Michelin Writing Institute. She’ll be speaking and signing her Cornish-set debut, Under the Harrow, on Saturday, June 18th, at 6 PM.
A week later, we’ll get a perfect representation of the glocal on Thursday, June 23rd, at 7 PM, with visits from two masters of the PI genre, Cara Black and Lisa Sandlin. Cara Black is the author of the perfectly feminist and oh-so-fashionable Aimee Leduc series, set in Paris. Her most recent, Murder on the Quai, goes back in time to the end of the Cold War for thrilling tale of recovered Nazi gold that should delight newcomers to the series and long-term fans alike, although fans especially will appreciate how Black fills in the details for many of the series’ greatest questions (and some of its smaller ones, such as from where Aimee acquired her bichon frise). She’ll be joined by Texas writer Lisa Sandlin, who’s debut Beaumont-set PI novel, The Do-Right, came out last year to great acclaim. Those who appreciate a vivid setting and a kick-ass heroine should enjoy the evening thoroughly.
Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Lately it seems that Britain and hard boiled fiction go together. I don’t know if it’s the grey, rainy weather or the bad-ass working class accents, but British writers sure make it work. Here is a rising voice from across the pond, Tom Leins, who I discovered as part of Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series. If you like his brand of English nastiness, you can find more of it at his website, Things To Do In Devon when You’re Dead.
“The grave is waist-deep when the cramps start. I feel them spasm up my arms and across my shoulders as the shovel slams into rock-solid earth. This far down, it is packed hard, like concrete.
I glance over my shoulder at the ravaged-looking figure in the wheelchair. Maxwell Grinley has the glum look of a man who has outlived most of his vices and desires. The only thing he wants now is to see me dead. I don’t blame him—I was the one who put him in the chair.
He starts to cough noisily and greedily sucks oxygen into his ruined lungs from the cylinder balanced across his legs.