Three Picks for August

 

  • Post by Scott Montgomery

August brings us new works from favorite authors, new explorations of old cities, and new variations on old themes for a set of books that do justice to the classics while forging their own path.

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The Sixth Idea by P.J. Tracy

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

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St. Louis Noir edited by Scott Phillips

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

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Rough Trade by Todd Robinson

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! 

Crime Fiction Friday: ‘The Life Saver’ by Lina Zeldovich

 

 

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  • Introduced by Scott M.

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.


“The Life Saver” by Lina Zeldovich

‘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!”’

Read the rest of the story.

Celebrate International Crime Fiction Month with MysteryPeople!

  • Post by Molly

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!

All three MysteryPeople book clubs will discuss novels from international crime writers in June. The 7% Solution Book Club brings in the new month with their discussion of the classic Scandinavian procedural The Laughing Policemanby Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, on Monday, June 6th, at 7 PM. The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club delves into Heda Margolius-Kovàly’s lyrical Eastern Bloc murder mystery, Innocence; or, Murder on Fleet Street, on Monday, June 20th, at 1 PM. The Hard Word Book Club finishes out the month with an exploration of Piergiorgio Pulixi’s Italian crime fiction masterpiece, Night of the Pantherson Wednesday, June 29th, at 7 PM. As always, book club picks are 10% off in-store!

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From left: Hopeton Hay, Mark Pryor and Janice Hamrick 

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.

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 View and The Far EmptyThen 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-Rightcame out last year to great acclaim. Those who appreciate a vivid setting and a kick-ass heroine should enjoy the evening thoroughly.

Crime Fiction Friday: “The Graveyard Shift” by Tom Leins

 

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  • 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 Graveyard Shift” by Tom Leins

“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.

That is on me, too…”

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.

Crime Fiction Friday: “Death at a Farmer’s Market” by Adam Rosen

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With this years Bouchercon ongoing in Raleigh, North Carolina, we thought it would be fun to put up this story, set in nearby Asheville, first published in Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder series. Rosen takes an innocuous setting and with a little slow burn and dark satire, creates a fun, cleanly written,mini-thriller.

“Death At A Farmers Market” by Adam Rosen

“How much is this?” the middle-aged man asked, irritated. He pointed a finger at a bunch of lacinato kale—fresh in, a chalk-marked sign indicated, from a farm outside Hickory. He had been waiting at the stand for five minutes, and was not about to wait a minute longer.

“Four-fifty,” said the man behind the table. He looked too old to still be farming, and he spoke softly. It was hard to hear him over the banjo playing nearby. The upright bass didn’t make it any easier. “That’s fresh in from Hick’ry.”

“That’s what the sign says!” replied the man as he stuffed two bunches into his tote. The WNCW logo covered the canvas bag in big blue letters that nobody could miss. “I usually do rainbow chard, but it’s disgusting this week. It looks like it’s from the SuperSaver.”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “In The Covered Bridge” by Hallie Price

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As the students head back to college, this tale from Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder series got our attention. Price has a wonderful gift of creating mood and emotion between the lines.

“In The Covered Bridge” by Hallie Price

“My life seemed great in college. I started on the college hockey team as a freshman, and my roommate was my best friend, Abby. My tuition was waived because my mom worked as a dorm janitor. She had introduced me to my fiancé, who lived in another dorm where she cleaned. My fiancé was good-looking and had money; his dad was a CEO.  Mom thought my fiancé was amazing, but I didn’t feel comfortable wearing the expensive jewelry and lingerie he bought me. After a while I wanted to call off the engagement, but didn’t because I didn’t want to deal with Mom’s disappointment.

Mom was vegan and ran every day. She was five foot ten, had long, shiny, naturally black hair, and breast implants. The college boys called her “the hot cleaning lady.” The men who went after her were carpenters and electricians, blue-collar types who worked with their hands. She wouldn’t go out with them.

My dad had never been in the picture…”

Read the rest of the story here.

Crime Fiction Friday: “The Vacation” by Dorothy Stone

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This story, posted on Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder site, caught our eye. It deals with a summer vacation gone wrong with a wonderful moody twist ending.

“The Vacation” by Dorothy Stone

“Everett, Washington

She knew she was not his first. The concrete room contained evidence of several that had been here before her: photos, locks of hair, single earrings, fingernails . . .

She had awoken here, groggy, alone, and not sure where she was or why she was here. Then it slowly started coming back.

She had parked in the strip mall near the convenience store on her way home from the supper shift at the diner in Everett. She had remembered she needed to pick up milk so she could have cereal and coffee in the morning before she left to meet her two best friends at Sea-Tac Airport to leave on their long-awaited vacation to Australia.

As she started to open the car door, a man crossed in front of her vehicle.  He was on crutches and had a cast on one foot. He was carrying two plastic grocery bags. One slipped from his hand, and items spilled to the pavement. She hurried to help him, and as she bent down to pick things up, she felt something sharp enter her shoulder. Blackness enveloped her almost immediately…”

Read the rest of the story here.

International Crime Fiction Friday, Part 1: SOUTH OF SARAJEVO by Fred F. Fleischer and FOUR HANDS: Chapter I by Paco Ignacio Taibo II


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MysteryPeople celebrates International Crime Fiction month all June long with Crime Fiction Fridays from international authors or with stories set outside the United States. 

– Post by Molly

In June, we celebrate International Crime Fiction Month, and perhaps now is the time to explore the many meanings of “international” when it comes to crime fiction. International crime fiction simply means fiction set in another country. Usually we apply this term to fiction written and originally published in another country. International Crime Fiction Month, in particular, is a collaboration of publishers, including Akashic, Europa Editions, Melville House, Grove Atlantic and Soho Press, to promote crime fiction in translation. The other primary connotation to international crime fiction is fiction which is set outside of the country where it is published and draws readers with a foreign setting.

These two crime fiction windows into other cultures and contexts – fiction by our countrymen set elsewhere, and fiction by authors from that elsewhere – may both fall under the umbrella of international crime fiction, but represent very different interactions between author and setting. When an author chooses a setting within her (their) own context, it serves as a method of total cultural immersion (for the duration of the novel), yet frequently a reader unfamiliar with the setting may miss out on small references and inside jokes – the untranslatable miasma.

When an author becomes adventurous and writes a tale set outside of his context, a reader gains from the extra level of explanation given by an author assuming his readers’ unfamiliarity with their subject or setting, but loses out on the natural feel of a setting the writer herself is immersed within. Additionally, tales by western authors with “exotic”settings carry the potential for revealing more about the deeply embedded prejudice of the author and their culture than about the stories’ setting.

“We risk, as readers, letting any unconscious bias we may have towards less familiar contexts continue to be held, unnoticed, until they are challenged; and the more we immerse ourselves in other cultures, places, and contexts, the more opportunity we may have to subvert our own bias.”

While I enjoy all internationally minded crime fiction, whether written in Marseilles, Dhaka, Singapore or in a motel across town, I try to balance my reading to include authors from other cultures, authors from my own culture who enjoy writing about other cultures, and a healthy number of authors who straddle many cultures. We risk, as readers, letting any unconscious bias we may have towards less familiar contexts continue to be held, unnoticed, until they are challenged; and the more we immerse ourselves in other cultures, places, and contexts, the more opportunity we may have to subvert our own bias.

With this in mind, I bring you the first installment of a month of Crime Fiction Fridays celebrating International Crime Fiction Month. Today, we bring you two pieces. The first, Fred F. Fleischer’s “South of Sarajevo,” I bring to you courtesy of Black Mask Magazine’s selection of classic detective tales from the 1920s and 30s, available here.  In this tale of horse thievery gone wrong, an old man recounts his betrayal and subsequent revenge in a folktale-style story that straddles the crime and adventure genres of fiction.

The story uses its Bosnian setting purely for entertainment, rather than social criticism or a lens into another culture, yet the author’s lyrical style seems to draw inspiration from Arabic and Persian writings, and interferes in interesting ways with Fleischer’s ability to stick to genre conventions. The conventions of genre and of imperialism clash in the story, making for a more subversive narrative than the original date of publication would have led one to believe.

We also bring you the first chapter of Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s literary noir masterpiece, Four Hands. Taibo’s novel ranges over much of Mexico’s turbulent history and contains a vast array of characters, including Leon Trotsky, exiled in Mexico City, working on a detective novel. Restless Books recently republished Four Hands and you can read the following excerpt on their website in full. You can find copies of Four Hands available as an e-book from Kobo

“South of Sarajevo” by Fred F. Fleischer

“It is an old saying, effendi: ‘When the Gipsy comes to the village, guard thy horses and thy women.’ This is not written in the Koran, but is a saying of the people of Bosnia and there is much truth in these words, as I shall tell thee.

I would rather smoke one of thy cigarets, effendi, one of those thou hast brought from Istamboul. There is good tobacco, Anatolian tobacco, in them and the smoke is blue. Those which I must buy from Stefanopoulos, the Greek, are bad. Since the war began, he has mixed tea and laurel leaves with cheap Drama tobacco. His cigarets are poor and so am I. But he is rich.

Ayee, effendi, give me one of thy cigarets and listen to this tale…”

Read the rest of the story.

Four Hands: Chapter One, by Paco Ignacio Taibo II

“July 19, 1923, around five-thirty in the afternoon, a man made his way across the international bridge that separated El Paso (Texas) from Juarez (Chihuahua). It was hot. Four carts transporting barbed wire into Mexico had filled the air with dust. From his office, the Mexican customs officer absently contemplated the skinny man, dressed in gray, wearing a black derby and carrying a shabby leather bag, who was approaching him. He didn’t find the man important in the least and went back to submerge himself in the book of poems by Ruben Dario that he was reading conscientiously. He was trying to memorize a poem so that he could recite it later, sprawled out on cushions with a French whore he frequented who liked such things.

The gawky man, who seemed to be walking on clouds of cotton, reached the Mexican customs officer’s desk and deposited his bag on the counter gently, as if not wanting to get mixed up in anyone’s life, perhaps not even his own. The customs officer lifted his head, filled with images of acanthus flowers and brilliantly feathered birds, and carefully observed the gringo. He recognized the face. Someone who crossed the border frequently? A merchant? No, that wasn’t it. An extremely pale face, ears wide apart, a mouth that begged a smile that never came, small flustered eyes. It all made you want to protect him, made you want to invite him to recite poetry in a duet with you…”

Read the rest of the story. 

Crime Fiction Friday: THE KILLING TYPE, by Maggie Estep

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With everybody dealing with the cold, we wanted to take you someplace warm this week. Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder (crime fiction posted every Monday, each piece set in a different locale and under 750 words) was the place to go. Maggie Estep’s “The Killing Time”, set in Cancun, takes us far away from winter cold. This author weaves a strong thread of humor through her writing, so you can laugh while you warm up.

“The Killing Time,” by Maggie Estep

The sun wasn’t thinking about rising yet. Neither was Lincoln, the guy I had come to Cancun with.

I’d really like to take you to Cancun, baby, he’d said two weeks earlier, on our third date.

I laughed.

“What’s funny about that?”

I pictured high-rise resort buildings choking coastline. Portly Americans choking resort buildings. Me choking Lincoln.

“Nothing,” I said.

Click here to read the full story.