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.

If you like Longmire…

We are getting ready for our favorite sheriff to come to town. Craig Johnson will be here at BookPeople on Tuesday, September 13th at 7 PM to sign and discuss An Obvious Fact, his latest novel to feature Sheriff Walt Longmire, our Pick Of the Month for September. Craig’s visit just so happens to coincide with the book’s release date, so be one of the first to get a copy and one of the first to get it signed! You can find more information about the event and pre-order signed, personalized copies here. If you can’t get enough Longmire, and you’d like to hang out with similar lawmen, we though of these fine gentlemen.

Gabriel Du Pré (creator Peter Bowen)9781497676589

This Montana cattle inspector (or “cow ass inspector” as he refers to his profession) is not only a good investigator, but a champion fiddle player as well. His Métis French-Indian background gives him a unique perspective on Montana culture.

First appearance: Bitter Creek by Peter Bowen

Manny Tanno (creator C.M. Wendelboe)9780425240021

An FBI agent sent back to the place he couldn’t wait to leave, South Dakota’s Lakota Reservation. Along with murder, he has to deal with his old high school rival, now the tribal police chief; his brother, a native rights activist and sometimes suspect; and his old flame. A very human and often humorous look at life on the rez.

First appearance: Death Along the Spirit Road by C. M. Wendelboe

9780393350784Officer Henry Farrell (creator Tom Bouman)

Another fiddle playing lawman, this time in rural Pennsylvania. His jurisdiction and authority can sometimes be questionable, but the violence brought into his town by the meth trade isn’t. Picture a younger Walt Longmire dropped into Daniel Woodrell’s world.

Only appearance (so far): Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman

500,000 Bikers and one Sheriff: MysteryPeople Q&A with Craig Johnson

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Our Pick Of The Month is Crag Johnson’s latest, An Obvious Fact, one of the best to date in his sheriff Walt Longmire series. The Wyoming sheriff, his Cheyenne buddy, and his foul mouthed deputy (and sometimes love interest) from Philly have to solve a mystery during The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in a small town with connections to a woman from Henry’s past.

Craig will be with us on Tuesday, September 13th, at 7 PM, the same day as the book’s release, so come by BookPeople for a chance to be one of the first to get a signed copy! To get everyone excited for Craig’s visit, we got in a few questions in early to one of our favorite authors.

MysteryPeople Scott: I saw this book as your acoustic set, stripping the series down to its three main characters and solving the mystery with little of the drama that has been building in the series. Was this an intentional shift?

Craig Johnson: Well, I try and do something different with each book and I think the stripping down was a result of that, but the drama in the characters lives is always going to be subjugated by the action and pace of the plot. Strangely enough, this may be the funniest and best- paced novel I’ve written–I wish I knew why.

MPS: There is a lot of focus on Walt and Henry’s friendship. What do they provide each other, aside from back up?

CJ: It’s the backbone of the series ever since The Cold Dish when I had to have two individuals who represented their different cultures. I think the bond and most important the easy banter between the two characters is what I enjoy the most. This was a departure in the sense that we learn a little more about Henry’s personal past and that provides a few conflicts between the two men, but even with all the hurdles they face, there’s a camaraderie and a true friendship that never fails.

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MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: AN OBVIOUS FACT by Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his new Longmire mystery, An Obvious Fact, on Tuesday, September 13th, at 7 PMAn Obvious Fact comes out the same day as the event, so come on by for a chance to be one of the first to get the book signed. Click here to pre-order a copy! Can’t make it to the event? We’ll get it signed for you – just let us know!

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780525426943At times we can take a fine series for granted to the point of detriment. We continue to read the adventures of our favorite character with great enjoyment, but less appreciation. However, when the series is written by an author who knows what he or she is doing, we get a title that reminds us why we got hooked on our hero in the first place. Such is the case with An Obvious Fact, the twelfth book featuring Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire.

The book is the literary version of an acoustic set, stripping the series down to his three essential characters. Walt and and his Cheyenne buddy Henry Standing Bear go up to Hullett, a town near Devil’s Tower hosting a motorcycle climb, in which Henry is participating. The climb has been organized as part of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, bringing 50,000 bikers to a town of 400. The book captures the feeling of purgatory these towns assume to non-bikers during the rally. The two are asked to help out an investigation of a young biker gang member who may have been run off the road and put into a coma. Before long, we learn that he is the son of Lola, an old flame Henry named his famous Thunderbird after. With help from Walt’s under-sheriff, Victoria “Vic” Moretti, they find themselves in a mystery involving motorcycle gangs, illegal weapons, and star crossed lovers.

Taking Walt, Henry, and Vic outside Absoroka County and dropping them in the middle of another jurisdiction breathes fresh life into these characters. They are able to get away from the events that have been building up around them since the novel Serpent’s Tooth and focus on the crime at hand, with little interference of trouble in the past and future. The mystery reveals much about Henry and, in turn, his friendship with Walt. There is a great passage between the two as they argue why each takes crazy risks. The focus on the here and now allows Johnson a faster face and more of his trademark humor than in the previous couple of novels.

There is also time for Johnson to reflect on the mystery genre itself. The title comes from the Sherlock Holmes story “The Speckled Band”: “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” We get to hear several quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuth, since Henry has brought along Les Klinger’s annotated collection, needling Walt at who the better detective is. There is an insightful monologue Walt has where he explains to Vic what kind of detective he is compared to Sherlock. Johnson uses the device of the Sherlock Holmes books to be self aware and entertaining in a way that does not take you out of the story.

By giving Walt, Henry, and Vic a mini-vacation, An Obvious Fact, does the same for readers of the series. I can can tell that Craig Johnson is building the next few books into an epic tale of moral dilemmas, putting our sheriff up against a foe like no other. I’m looking forward to that, yet I was happy he could find time for Walt to simply relax with his friend, lover, some bikers, a bunch of guns, and a few bodies.

An Obvious Fact comes out Tuesday, September 13th, just in time for Craig’s visit to BookPeople. Pre-order now!

MysteryPeople Q&A with Craig Johnson


Craig Johnson’s latest Walt Longmire novella, The Highwayman, has the author dipping into the ghost story genre. Walt and Henry are asked to help out a state trooper who is getting radio calls from a fellow statie who died over forty years before. Craig was kind enough to talk to about the book and the supernatural.

MysteryPeople Scott: What made you want to tackle a ghost story?

CJ: I’ve always loved the Charles Dickens short story The Signalman, a little, thirteen-pager he wrote about a train wreck north of London. It’s an interesting piece, and I’ve always wondered how you would update it in the face of modern technology. Well, I was talking to a Highway Patrol buddy of mine, and we were discussing one of our favorite places in the state–the Wind River Scenic Byway– and he told me that because of the two thousand foot granite cliffs on the sides of the canyon, radio frequency didn’t work and how the old-timers used to refer to it as no-man’s land… Hence, The Highwayman.

“I’ve always loved the Charles Dickens short story The Signalman, a little, thirteen-pager he wrote about a train wreck north of London. It’s an interesting piece, and I’ve always wondered how you would update it in the face of modern technology.”

MPS: What did you learn about the form while writing it?

CJ: I’ve flirted with the form before, but this was a full-blown, straight-ahead ghost story, and I knew I was going to have to walk the tightrope on this one. I think the genre is best served when you don’t get too heavy-handed and try and stay in the margins of what’s possible and what’s not. I was interested in the method of legend making and seeing if I could construct a worthy adversary for Walt and Henry who might not be there at all.

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