MysteryPeople Review: WAIT FOR SIGNS by Craig Johnson

wait for signs twelve longmire stories

Wait For Signs by Craig Johnson
2015 will mark ten years for Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series. It’s fitting as we approach the holidays and this anniversary that fans can now get Wait For Signs, a collection of all the short stories Craig has written about the Wyoming sheriff. It fills in the history of the character, catching him at quieter times between all the murders, escaped convicts, and conspiracies. In these stories, the reader learns that Walt’s life is still not totally quiet.

Much of the collection is composed from the annual stories Craig sends to his newsletter subscribers around Christmas, but they deal with more than just the holidays. “Thankstaking” allows Walt’s Cheyenne buddy Henry Standing Bear not only an opportunity to save the day, but the chance to voice his opinion on a certain November celebration. One of the Christmas stories takes place before the series, at one of the lowest points in Longmire’s life, when he is mistaken for the son of God. On New Year’s Eve, he and previous Sheriff Luican Connally solve a crime both old and new at The Durant Home For Assisted Living. Even the Jewish New Year is used for suspenseful and humorous effect. Johnson avoids the schmaltzy trappings of many holiday stories, making them appropriate to read at any time of the year.

There are also other pieces of short work. The very first Longmire story, “Old Indian Trick,” puts the myth of the criminal mastermind to rest. Two e-book specials “Divorce Horse” and “The Messenger” are available in mass print for the first time. “The Messenger”, a comedy of manners, errors, and situation involving Walt, Henry, foul mouthed deputy Victoria Morretti, a bear, and an owl trapped in a Port-A-Potty, is worth the price of the book alone. There is also a new story “Petunia, The Bandit Queen” that tackles domestic discord, Wyoming history, and sheep.

The collection gives a clearer picture of Walt, seeing him more in his day-to-day life. In many of the Christmas stories we get a deeper understanding the effect that losing his wife Martha had on him and how he got through it. Two stories that seem to happen back to back, one with a hitchhiker, the other with a marine, reminds us that Walt’s main goal is to heal, even though he avoids opportunities to find his own peace. We also see more of his connection to spirituality than he typically admits to.

Without the need to deliver the tropes of a mystery, we see Johnson’s strength’s as a writer on full display. Without a grim murder, his use of humor is able to flourish. We also get to fully appreciate his gift for misdirection that we associate with how he takes our attention away from who done it. Here he often shows how it helps provide theme and internal conflict without being heavy handed.

Wait For Signs gives us an extra glimpse at one of the best mystery heroes of this new century. We get a better understanding of his strengths, flaws, and what sustains him. All in all, we get the hope that old fashioned virtue can trump even the most modern problems. Boy Howdy.

Wait For Signs by Craig Johnson is now available on our shelves and via

New Releases in MysteryPeople: August 6th 2013

The English Girl by Daniel Silva

Seven days

One girl

No second chances

Madeline Hart is a rising star in Britain’s governing party: beautiful, intelligent, driven by an impoverished childhood to succeed. But she is also a woman with a dark secret: she is the lover of Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster. Somehow, her kidnappers have learned of the affair, and they intend to make the British leader pay dearly for his sins. Fearful of a scandal that will destroy his career, Lancaster decides to handle the matter privately rather than involve the British police. It is a risky gambit, not only for the prime minister but also for the operative who will conduct the search.

You have seven days, or the girl dies.

Enter Gabriel Allon–master assassin, art restorer and spy–who is no stranger to dangerous assignments or political intrigue. With the clock ticking, Gabriel embarks on a desperate attempt to bring Madeline home safely. His mission takes him from the criminal underworld of Marseilles to an isolated valley in the mountains of Provence to the stately if faded corridors of power in London–and, finally, to a pulse-pounding climax in Moscow, a city of violence and spies where there is a long list of men who wish Gabriel dead.

From the novel’s opening pages until the shocking ending when the true motives behind Madeline’s disappearance are revealed, The English Girl will hold readers spellbound. It is a timely reminder that, in today’s world, money often matters more than ideology. And it proves once again why Daniel Silva has been called his generation’s finest writer of suspense and foreign intrigue.

Death’s Door by James R. Benn

Lieutenant Billy Boyle could have used a rest after his last case, but when his girlfriend, Diana Seaton, a British spy, goes missing in the Vatican, where she was working undercover, he insists on being assigned to a murder investigation there so he can try to help her.

An American monsignor is found murdered at the foot of Death’s Door, one of the five entrances to Saint Peter’s Basilica. Wild Bill Donovan, head of the OSS, wants the killing investigated. The fact that the Vatican is neutral territory in German-occupied Rome is only one of the obstacles Billy must overcome. First is a harrowing journey, smuggled into Rome while avoiding the Gestapo and Allied bombs. Then he must navigate Vatican politics and personalities—some are pro-Allied, others pro-Nazi, and the rest steadfastly neutral—to learn the truth about the murdered monsignor. But that’s not his only concern; just a short walk from the Vatican border is the infamous Regina Coeli prison, where Diana is being held. Can he dare a rescue, or will a failed attempt alert the Germans to his mission and risk an open violation of Vatican neutrality?

Mistress by James Patterson and David Ellis

James Patterson’s scariest, sexiest stand-alone thriller since The Quickie.
Ben isn’t like most people. Unable to control his racing thoughts, he’s a man consumed by his obsessions: movies, motorcycles, presidential trivia-and Diana Hotchkiss, a beautiful woman Ben knows he can never have.

When Diana is found dead outside her apartment, Ben’s infatuation drives him on a hunt to find out what happened to the love of his life.

Ben soon discovers that the woman he pined for was hiding a shocking double life. And now someone is out to stop Ben from uncovering the truth about Diana’s illicit affairs.

In his most heart-pumping thriller yet, James Patterson plunges us into the depths of a mind tortured by paranoia and obsession, on an action-packed chase through a world of danger and deceit.

Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

A gripping novel full of suspense and pathos that Dennis Lehane calls an “electrifying, tomahawk missile of a thriller.”

Patrick Cusimano’s life can’t get much worse. His father is in jail, he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store, and his brother’s girlfriend, Caro, has pushed their friendship to an uncomfortable new level.  On top of all that, he can’t shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing Patrick to his breaking point.

Meanwhile, Layla’s little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school.  She’s become a prime target for her cruel classmates, and not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents. Layla’s bad-girl rep casts a shadow too heavy for Verna to bear alone, so she falls in with her sister’s tribe of outcasts. But their world is far darker than she ever imagined…

Unless Patrick, Layla, Caro, and Verna can forge their own twisted paths to peace—with themselves, with each other—then they’re stuck on a dangerous collision course where the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Kelly Braffet has written a novel of unnerving powerdarkly compelling, compulsively addictive, and shockingly honest

New Releases in MysteryPeople: July 30th 2013

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

Stunningly dark, hugely intelligent and thoroughly addictive, Ghostman announces the arrival of an exciting and highly distinctive novelist.

When a casino robbery in Atlantic City goes horribly awry, the man who orchestrated it is obliged to call in a favor from someone who’s occasionally called Jack. While it’s doubtful that anyone knows his actual name or anything at all about his true identity, or even if he’s still alive, he’s in his mid-thirties and lives completely off the grid, a criminal’s criminal who does entirely as he pleases and is almost impossible to get in touch with. But within hours a private jet is flying this exceptionally experienced fixer and cleaner-upper from Seattle to New Jersey and right into a spectacular mess: one heister dead in the parking lot, another winged but on the run, the shooter a complete mystery, the $1.2 million in freshly printed bills god knows where and the FBI already waiting for Jack at the airport, to be joined shortly by other extremely interested and elusive parties. He has only forty-eight hours until the twice-stolen cash literally explodes, taking with it the wider, byzantine ambitions behind the theft. To contend with all this will require every gram of his skill, ingenuity and self-protective instincts, especially when offense and defense soon become meaningless terms. And as he maneuvers these exceedingly slippery slopes, he relives the botched bank robbery in Kuala Lumpur five years earlier that has now landed him this unwanted new assignment.

From its riveting opening pages, Ghostman effortlessly pulls the reader into Jack’s refined and peculiar world—and the sophisticated shadowboxing grows ever more intense as he moves, hour by hour, toward a  constantly reimprovised solution. With a quicksilver plot, gripping prose and masterly expertise, Roger Hobbs has given us a novel that will immediately place him in the company of our most esteemed crime writers.

The Highway by C.J. Box

When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them again. The girls—and their car—simply vanish.  Former police investigator Cody Hoyt has just lost his job and has fallen off the wagon after a long stretch of sobriety.  Convinced by his son and his former rookie partner, Cassie Dewell, he begins the drive south to the girls’ last known location.  As Cody makes his way to the lonely stretch of Montana highway where they went missing, Cassie discovers that Gracie and Danielle Sullivan aren’t the first girls who have disappeared in this area.  This majestic landscape is the hunting ground for a killer whose viciousness is outmatched only by his intelligence.  And he might not be working alone.  Time is running out for Gracie and Danielle…Can Cassie overcome her doubts and lack of experience and use her innate skill?  Can Cody Hoyt battle his own demons and find this killer before another victim vanishes on the highway?

Death Angel by Linda Fairstein

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Central Park, the clock begins ticking for Assistant DA Alex Cooper and Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace to find the killer who has breached this haven in the middle of New York City. Is the body found in the lake, under the unseeing gaze of the Bethesda angel, the first victim of a deranged psychopath, or is the case connected to other missing girls and women in years past whose remains have never been found? Just as the trio gets their first lead, the investigation is almost derailed when Mike and Alex become embroiled in a scandal.

As Alex attempts to fight the accusations leveled against her and Mike, she follows clues that range from the park’s most buried — literally — secrets all the way to the majestic Dakota, which has experienced its own share of tragedies. When another young woman is attacked in the park, a new question arises: is this enormous urban park a sanctuary—as it seems to the thousands of New Yorkers and tourists who fill it every day—or is it a hunting ground for a killer with a twisted mind?

Once again, Linda Fairstein will thrill both longtime fans and new readers with an explosive page-turner filled with a shocking realism that only she can deliver.

The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd

London, 1850. Charles Maddox had been an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary “thief taker,” a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.

On Charles’s latest case, he’ll need all the assistance he can get.

To his shock, Charles has been approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to—discreetly—find and stop whoever is responsible.

But what starts as a simple, open-and-shut case swiftly escalates into something bigger and much darker. As he cascades toward a collision with an unspeakable truth, Charles can only be aided so far by Maddox. The old man shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named.

Intricately plotted and intellectually ambitious, The Solitary House is an ingenious novel that does more than spin an enthralling tale: It plumbs the mysteries of the human mind.

Chris’ Top 5 Books of 2013 (so far)

2013 has been a great year for crime fiction, and the year isn’t over yet. Below are my 5 favorite books of the year thus far.

The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

The 6th novel in the stellar Harry Hole series may have taken its sweet time getting to American bookstores, but it was well worth the wait. Falling in line between The Devil’s Star and The Snowman, The Redeemer is a story about a hitman (know only as The Little Redeemer) who accidentally takes out the wrong target. Dedicated to completing his mission, he suffers the pains of being a stranger in a strange land while Harry and the Oslo PD are hot on his trail.

The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson

Boo and Junior are not your average private investigators, as a matter of fact they’re not private investigators at all, but when a girl goes missing they are her only hope of rescue. Todd Robinson knocks it out of the park and into the stratosphere with his mixture of hard boiled action, wit, humor, and just a dash of tenderness. The Hard Bounce is required reading.

Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis is best know for his critically acclaimed comic book work, but he is also a ridiculously talented novelist. In Gun Machine, his second novel, Ellis takes the tried-and-true police procedural formula and turns it upside down. When a shootout in an apartment building leaves Detective John Tallow without a partner he doesn’t think his day can get any worse, but then the police stumble upon an apartment literally filled with guns. Now it’s up to Tallow to find a killer who’s been stalking the streets of New York City for over two decades.

The Eye of God by James Rollins

James Rollins writes badass adventure novels in the vein of Doc Savage and Indiana Jones, and his Sigma Force series has quickly become the go-to for many fans of the genre, myself included. Imagine if Ian Flemming wrote an Indiana Jones story and get the idea. Rollins stories are a rollercoaster ride filled with exotic locations, Bond-style villains, and more action then you think you can handle. Pick up The Eye of God and see what all the fuss is about.

Skinner by Charlie Huston

Charlie Huston’s clever prose, interesting characters, and Tarantino-esque dialogue have made him a rising star in the world of crime fiction. In his latest novel we meet Skinner, a CIA operative with a history of brutal efficiency, who will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of his assets. One part Le Carre style spy thriller with a dose of William Gibson’s cyber-philosophy, Skinner is an exciting and terrifying look into the potential future of our world.

Crime Fiction Friday: TIM BRYANT

Tim Bryant is an author who came to our attention through Texas writer Joe R.  Lansdale. Like Joe, he has a unique voice that fits with his characters, especially when it comes to postwar Fort Worth P.I. Dutch Curridge. Tim was kind enough to write an original Dutch story for our Crime Fiction Friday.


Bullet and Bell

by Tim Bryant

I always said my three favorite sounds in the whole world were Lester Young’s saxophone, Lefty Frizzell’s singing and Ruthie Nell Porter saying anything but goodbye. So when Harold “Money” Johnson was playing with Cozy Cole at the Rose Room and took a stray bullet to the bell of his trumpet, mid solo, I took it personal. If word got out that the Rose Room had become a health hazard, Lester wouldn’t book the place again. I couldn’t have that.

The bullet that brought Money’s solo to an abrupt end was, in fact, the third to fly, and it’s a wonder none of them left a body on the dance floor. It seemed, at first, that the culprit managed to miss anything and everything, not counting the poster-covered clapboard wall behind the bandstand and Money’s horn. However, after the crowd moved out into the parking lot and started to disperse, my partner Slant Face Sanders discovered a smeared pool of blood, almost black against the oak floor.

“Look at this, Dutch,” he said.

The night manager, a guy named Hank Porter, came over and pushed the tip of his umbrella around in it, an umbrella he’d already used to usher a few slow moving patrons out into the cool October air.

“Don’t tell me someone was hit.”

I bent down and looked. The blood was fresh. There was a footprint through it, but that might have been anyone. Looked like a worker’s boot.

“Maybe not enough to kill anybody, Hank,” I said, “but I doubt it’s a dancing injury.”

Money Johnson was sitting in a metal chair just inside the kitchen area. Cozy Cole was standing over him, holding the damaged horn under the light.

“Will you looky here?”

Money didn’t even make a motion to look, but a couple of the other guys gathered around, and I followed. Cole was pointing at a half-inch crack in the bell.

“Didn’t punch through, Mon,” he said. “You got yourself a genuine Liberty Bell.”

“Yeah, ain’t hardly playable now,” said one of the other guys, I think the alto sax.

Something caught my eye, and I asked to take a look at it. Cole looked at Hank and Hank nodded, so he handed it to me with both hands outstretched, like he was expecting me to try to play it. It was lighter than I expected. I held the horn down in front of me and carefully turned it. I pointed at a place just inside the bell.

“Small caliber bullet,” I said. “Hit right here and deflected.”

“Mon, you lucky you didn’t suck the damn thing up,” Cole said.

Money shook his head and took a drink from a glass of scotch that had just been sat in front of him by the barkeep.

“Look at this,” I said, and held the trumpet, bell up, toward him. “Not your blood, is it?”

There was an almost unnoticeable stain under the bell. You had to be looking for it to see it.

“I don’t think so,” Money said, and looked at his hands. There was a cut on the small finger of his left hand where the horn had been ripped out of his hand, but it seemed highly remote that his finger had time or opportunity to make any contact with the inside of the horn.

“I’d say your bullet passed through somebody before it hit your trumpet,” I said. “Slowed it down just enough to not do any major damage.”

Money shook his head.

“I’m sorry, sir, but it did plenty of damage. Horn ain’t worth shit like this.”

I handed it back to him.

“I’m talking about damage to you.”

The bullet had passed clean through somebody on the dance floor, which explained the blood, and then had crossed over the stage, right past Cozy Cole, taking out the trumpet and, no doubt, lodging in the interior wall to the right side of the stage. I sent the barkeep to hunt it down.

I walked out to check the parking lot and surrounding streets. Any car left after the show that didn’t belong to the band or staff very possibly belonged to the injured party. I knew it was likely he wouldn’t feel up to driving. Of course, if he had friends who helped him leave the scene, it was also possible that he’d given the keys to one of them. Still, it was something to go on.

It was the first time I’d had a chance to talk with Slant.

“We’ve gotta keep this under control,” I said.

He didn’t have to ask why. Or how.

“You better solve it before it hits the papers then,” he said.

That way, they get the beginning and end of the story at the same time. Case closed. Story over.

“If we can get the story to Ruthie Nell, we can get her to downplay it,” I said.

Ruthie Nell Porter was our connection at the Fort Worth Press. On most nights, she would have also been my partner at the Rose Room, but she was working on deadlines for the Sunday edition. The Press was the little kid on the block, always fighting to grab headlines from the big boys over at the Star-Telegram. Ruthie was also the girl after my own heart, even if she didn’t know it.

The only cars on the street that we couldn’t account for was a cream-colored milk truck pulling away from a house on Commerce and a black ’51 Mercury Monterey parked in front of Ward’s Drugs. Neither held my interest. I wrote down the tags on the Monterey, just in case I needed to run them later, and we headed back to the club feeling less than hopeful.

As we crossed Houston and headed toward Ninth Street, I kicked at a rock and thought I saw a blood spill on the sidewalk. Paint. I booted the rock out into the street and watched a city bus drive over it.

“He could’ve taken a bus,” Slant said.

“The victim could’ve been a she,” I said. “There were just as many women out on the floor.”

Had somebody shown up and found his girl dancing with somebody else? Three shots, the first two going into the wall and the third hitting a target suggested that maybe the killer had shot wildly, finally found his target and then made a hasty exit.

“Or the gunman could’ve been a girl,” I said. “Gunwoman.”

“We could check the hospitals,” Slant said.

There were two Negro hospitals serving Fort Worth, and there was little chance that either one would release information to two white guys showing up in the middle of the night, no matter how many badges I flashed. Only white people they were used to seeing were men sneaking in for treatment of syphilis. I didn’t syphilis, and I didn’t have my badge, on account of it being out of date.

I wasn’t sure what else we could do.

“News like this gets out, Prez’ll never book Fort Worth again,” I said.

I found another rock in my path, kicked it extra hard and listened to it ricochet off a metal storefront sign and echo down the empty street.


Hank Porter was standing in the Rose Room parking lot, swinging a flashlight like he was bringing an airplane down Houston Street. Back on the southeast end of the lot, following away from the loading doors until it disappeared ten feet away, was a trail of congealed blood.

“They either disappeared into thin air right about here or somebody picked them up,” he said, pointing to where the blood ended.

“They left by the loading exit,” Slant said.

“Means they probably got out ahead of the crowd,” I said.

I looked around. Most of the spaces around us were still occupied.

“These all employees?”

Hank looked around and nodded.

“They all still here?”

I could see him counting with his eyes. He nodded again.

“You guys are off the clock,” he said. “That means you can go the hell home.”

He looked around at the handful of workers trying their best not to look like they were listening.

“Who’s missing?” I said.

I was looking at the barkeep. He seemed surprised. He wiped his forehead with his towel and glanced around.

“Nobody I guess.”

“Claudia’s missing.”

I turned and saw one of the waitresses standing in the exit.

“Claudia?” I said.

“Claudia Franklin,” Hank said. “I don’t think there’s any way Claudia could be the guilty party, Dutch.”

I didn’t disagree.

“She married?” I said.

“No, but she’s courting somebody,” the waitress said.

“There’s your guilty party, Hank,” I said.

I wasn’t always so sure of myself, but I had a strong hunch.

“Aron is seeing Claudia.”

One of the club bouncers stepped up to me and grimaced. He was a good foot taller than me and outweighed me by eighty pounds. Looked like a wrestler.

“Who would Aron be?” I said.

Hank stepped between us like a referee in a boxing ring.

“Dutch, this is Raymond,” he said. “Aron is his big brother.”

Slant Face tried to suppress a laugh.

“She got an old beau?” I said. “Someone who might be sore that she’s taken up with the big brother?”

Someone who knew a gun would be his only decent shot, if he could manage to get a decent shot off.

“Darrell Ray Fletcher,” said the waitress. “He’s caused trouble before.”

We find Darrell Ray Fletcher, I figured we found the finger that pulled the trigger. With Slant Face along for support, I didn’t foresee any problem shaking a confession out of him. No one knew exactly where he was from, but the waitress was pretty sure he lived on Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania’s trouble, Dutch,” Porter said. “You want, I can send Raymond with you.”

I said Pennsylvania Avenue was nothing of the sort. Any high-falutin resident along that area of town— called the Gold Coast for its collection of nice homes, even if there was no coast within three hundred miles— would be even less enthusiastic about appearing in the crime section of the Press than the bums down on Ninth Street. Raymond the bouncer would have come in handy, but I didn’t think I needed him. Slant and I had walked halfway back to my car, a green 1932 Austin Chummy, when I had a sudden thought.

“Go on ahead,” I told him. “Meet you at the Chummy. I forgot one thing.”

I walked back across the empty lot and up to the exit door, which was now pulled to, with just a beam of light falling out across the dark, landing inches from the place where the last bit of blood had been spilled. I stuck my head back into the club and found the waitress pulling her overcoat on and grabbing her purse.

“One more question, ma’am,” I said. “This Fletcher fella. He wouldn’t happen to work for Meadow Gold, would he?”

She cocked her head and smiled.

“You’re pretty good, Mr. Curridge. His father’s the dairy manager there.”

My three favorite sounds might have been Lester Young’s sax, Lefty Frizzell’s singing, and Ruthie Nell’s laugh, but right behind those was the sweet sound of success. I didn’t get paid a dime for solving the shooting at The Rose Room in October of 1952, but remembering that the Meadow Gold milk truck didn’t run at night was good for a free front row table when The Lester Young Trio played the Rose Room in early December of that year. That was worth everything plus tax.

As Lester leaned into his sax and began chasing notes around and around “Almost Like Being in Love,” a little waitress I’d never seen before came by and left a Jack Daniels and Dr Pepper and a gin sour on the table.

“Mr. Porter says it’s on the house.”

Jack and Dr Pepper. My drink of choice. I thanked her.

“So you’re a cop,” she said.

“I don’t work for nobody but myself,” I said.

“Oh,” she said. “The newspaper said you was the law.”

“Course, I’m the law,” I said. Sheriff, private eye, bouncer at The Rose Room. We’re all cops if you’re trying to get away with something.

Ruthie Nell picked up her glass, stirred and clinked it against mine. She looked incredible that evening, and the band was absolutely breath-taking. Or maybe it was the other way around. I took a long draw on my drink and let it all go to my head.

New Releases in MysteryPeople: July 23rd 2013

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay (paperback release)

Thomas Kilbride is a map-obsessed schizophrenic so affected that he rarely leaves the self-imposed bastion of his bedroom. But with a computer program called, he travels the world while never so much as stepping out the door. He pores over and memorizes the streets of the world. He examines every address, as well as the people who are frozen in time on his computer screen. Then he sees something that anyone else might have stumbled upon–but has not–in a street view of downtown New York City: an image in a window. An image that looks like a woman being murdered.

Thomas’s brother, Ray, takes care of him, cooking for him, dealing with the outside world on his behalf, and listening to his intricate and increasingly paranoid theories. When Thomas tells Ray what he has seen, Ray humors him with a half-hearted investigation. But Ray soon realizes he and his brother have stumbled onto a deadly conspiracy. And now they are in the cross hairs.

Fallout by Garry Disher

Australian jewel thief Wyatt has a bounty of stolen jewels and a yacht, but nothing can stop him from returning to his life of crime. He drugs his lover, police officer Liz Redding, and escapes into the night only to discover the gems he lifted are fakes. With his luck and his resources rapidly running out, Wyatt begrudgingly joins forces with Raymond, his estranged nephew and an established criminal himself, to lift some expensive artwork.

It should be an easy job—the gallery is under construction and Wyatt has performed similar heists before. But it isn’t long before things go south, leaving Wyatt with some tough choices. Will the young and eager Raymond prove to be a worthy pupil or is he nothing but dead weight? For Wyatt, putting faith in other people has never been as tempting… or as dangerous.

The Homecoming by Carsten Stroud

From its explosive opening to its eerie climax, The Homecoming is a page-turning, labyrinthine thrill ride that returns to Niceville . . . where evil lives far longer than men do.

When two plane crashes set off a spellbinding chain reaction of murder, inadvertent kidnapping, corporate corruption, and financial double-dealing, it’s not enough that Niceville detective Nick Kavanaugh (ex–Special Forces) has to investigate. He and his wife, family lawyer Kate, have also just taken in brutally orphaned Rainey Teague. Something bothers Nick about Rainey—and it isn’t just that the woman in charge of attendance at Rainey’s prep school has disappeared. In fact, people have long been disappearing from seemingly placid Niceville, including, most disturbingly, Kate’s father. Using his files, Kate and Nick start to unearth Niceville’s blood stained history, but something (or is it Nothing?) stands in their way.

Once again, Carsten Stroud gives us unforgettable characters, including Coker, the steely, amoral police sniper, and Harvill Endicott, an urbanely manipulative psychopath, not to mention Warren Smoles, the most conniving lawyer you will ever meet. Stroud’s unique storytelling gifts bring us into a world where protecting your family from the unknown becomes almost impossible but essential for survival.

Anything is possible in The Homecoming. 

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman received the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original–along with plenty of glowing reviews.

Now Detective Hank Palace returns in Countdown City, the second volume of the Last Policeman trilogy. There are just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank’s days of solving crimes are over…until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.

Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.

Countdown City presents another fascinating mystery set on brink of an apocalypse–and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond “whodunit.” What do we as human beings owe to one another? And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around you?

MP Review: The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

If you’ve ever engaged me in a conversation about crime fiction, you know my feelings about Jo Nesbo and his Harry Hole novels. I am an unabashed champion of this series, and for good reason. My high praise for this series has a lot to do with Nesbo’s writing style and attention to detail. Often times crime fiction is plagued by the stereotype of being low-brow or kitschy, but those stereotypes ignore the deeply rooted themes carried by crime fiction. Themes like love, loss, the fear of death, and the stark realities of the world we live in are ones every reader can relate to, and authors like Jo Nesbo tackle them with grace and poise.

First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room; it’s been more than a little frustrating to be a Nesbo fan in America. The seemingly random publishing schedule for the Harry Hole novels have forced readers to experience the series out of chronological order; some of us like to read a series in order! The Redeemer is the sixth Harry Hole novel, falling in line between The Devil’s Star and The Snowman, which means fans of the series will need to wrack their brains trying to remember what took place way back when. Honestly, it’s not that hard to recall the past exploits of ne’er-do-well detective Harry Hole and Nesbo (as always) does a great job of reminding his readers without going into full on review mode. Okay, now that we’ve talked about how annoying reading series books out of order is, we can move on to the task at hand.

In The Redeemer we are taken back to the early days of Harry Hole; before the effects of age and substance abuse really started to catch up with him. The story begins with Harry having the unfortunate task of informing a family that their son, a heroin addict, has committed suicide. In typical Nesbo style, the books beginning functions as a launchpad for the events to come. The main plot line is about an assassin who has traveled to Oslo to complete a contract. Things go badly when the assassin, codenamed The Little Redeemer, discovers that the target he has eliminated is actually the brother of the intended target.

If you’ve read the other books in this series and think The Redeemer is worth skipping, you are dead wrong. This novel fills in a lot of the gaps left after The Devil’s Star and Nemesis, and is a must read if just for the sake of continuity. If the gap-filling aspect of The Redeemer isn’t enough to entice you then maybe the fact that this is also a fantastic mystery will do the trick. It has all the hallmarks of a great thriller; atmosphere, intriguing characters, plot twists aplenty, and Harry Hole’s reckless detective style.

The Redeemer also contains a lot of my favorite aspect of Nesbo’s books; a lot of time is devoted to the perspective of the antagonist. As the novels comes to a close you truly understand the motivations of each and every character, and that’s something that many crime writers choose not to do. If there’s one thing Nesbo does well it’s giving readers a holistic view of the story. All the pieces fall into place, and all of your questions are given a satisfying answer.

If you’re already a fan of this series, picking up The Redeemer should be a no-brainer. If you’ve never read a Jo Nesbo book, it’s probably not a great idea to start with The Redeemer, but luckily Vintage Books has just published the first Harry Hole novel, The Bat, as a paperback original. So run, don’t walk, to your local bookstore and get cracking on what is arguably the best detective series currently available.

New Releases in MysteryPeople: July 9th 2013

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

The first Harry Hole novel is finally available in America!

Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case.  Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case.  Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.

The Last Word by Lisa Lutz

The sixth installment of the critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling, Edgar- and Macavity-nominated and Alex Award-winning series by Lisa Lutz, finds our intrepid heroine of the series, Isabel Spellman, PI, at a crossroads. Izzy is used to being followed, extorted, and questioned—all occupational hazards of working at her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Her little sister, Rae, once tailed Izzy for weeks on end to discover the identity of Izzy’s boyfriend. Her mother, Olivia, once blackmailed Izzy with photo­graphic evidence of Prom Night 1994. It seemed that Spellman vigilance would dis­sipate after Izzy was fired for breaching client confidentiality, but then Izzy avenged her dismissal by staging a hostile takeover of the company. She should have known better than to think she could put such she­nanigans behind her.

In The Last Word, Izzy’s troubles are just beginning. After her takeover of Spellman Investigations, her employees are the fur­thest thing from collegial…and Izzy finds herself struggling to pay the bills. But when she is accused of embezzling from a former client, the ridiculously wealthy Mr. Slayter, the stakes become immense. If Izzy gets indicted, she could lose her PI license and the Spellman family’s livelihood, not to mention her own freedom. Is this the end of Izzy Spellman, PI?

The Last Word is, hands down, the most powerful book in the bestselling, award-nominated Spellman series.

Nemesis by Bill Pronzini

Young, newly rich Verity Daniels claims to be receiving threatening demands for money from a mysterious caller. When Jake Runyon agrees to investigate, it seems a relatively simple matter to expose the extortionist by setting a trap for him.

The case, however, is nowhere near as clear-cut as it first appears.  And Verity Daniels is nowhere near the helpless victim she pretends to be. A series of surprise revelations culminates in Runyon being falsely accused of a crime that never happened, and he and his employers then become the targets of a vicious legal vendetta. A sudden act of violence turns the case upside down, leading to a much more serious charge against Jake.

With the help of partner Tamara Corbin, Nameless (known as Bill to his associates) puts aside the difficult personal issue that has kept him sidelined at home and works to clear both Runyon’s and the agency’s good names. The task requires untangling Verity Daniels’s bizarre past and present relationships, and before Bill succeeds, he must overcome a deadly threat to his own safety. Nemesis continues author Bill Pronzini’s acclaimed Nameless Detective Series.

The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler

Flora Hansen calls herself a medium and makes a living by pretending to commune with the dead. But after a gruesome murder at a rural home for wayward girls, Hansen begins to suffer visions that are all too real. She calls the police, claiming to have seen a ghost, but only one detective puts aside his skepticism long enough to listen: Joona Linna.

Linna has spent more time at the scene of the crime than any other detective would. The case seems obvious on the face of it: One of the girls at the home escaped in the middle of the night, leaving behind a bloody bed with a hammer under the pillow. But why does Hansen insist that the murder instrument was a stone, not a hammer? And what’s the story behind the dark red grain of sand, almost like a splinter from a ruby, stuck beneath the dead girl’s fingernail? As Linna refuses to accept easy answers, his search leads him into darker, more violent territory, and finally to a shocking confrontation with a figure from his past.

Just as Lars Kepler’s The Hypnotist and The Nightmare did, The Fire Witness has spent months at number one on the Swedish bestseller lists. As the newspaper Dagens Nyheter put it, you start the thriller “on the subway home, keep reading at the dinner table, and then don’t stop until well into the wee hours.” Kepler writes with the force of Stieg Larsson and the plotting of Jo Nesbø. The Fire Witness is an unflinching page-turner, sure to join the ranks of its predecessors as an international sensation.

The Last Whisper in the Dark by Tom Piccirilli

In the follow-up to Tom Piccirilli’s acclaimed novel The Last Kind Words, prodigal thief Terrier Rand has come home to the family that has lawbreaking in its blood. With generations of Rands keeping secrets from the outside world—not to mention from one  another—Terry is sure of one thing: He owes it to the woman he loved and lost to make sure her husband stays alive.

Kimmy’s husband, Terry’s old friend Chub, hasn’t been seen since he supplied a getaway car for a heist that went wrong. When Terry investigates the ominous disappearance, he discovers that Chub was involved with a strange, violent gang of heavy hitters—guys who don’t take kindly to Terry asking questions. But before Terry can find his friend, a curvaceous divorcée takes him for a walk on the wild side, estranged relatives pull him into their horror movie empire, his sister Dale sets her sights on Hollywood after scoring a hit viral video, and his own uncle recruits Terry to rip off his partner.

In a world of larceny, grift, and fraud, no amount of loyalty—to friends, wives, or lovers—can compete with the Rand family drama. Terry just wants to bring Chub home to his wife and child. Instead, he’s dodging mobsters, moguls, and murderers . . . and the truth about one crime of his own.
The Last Whisper in the Dark takes readers on a wild, rollicking ride with an eclectic crowd of fascinating characters—from a well-mannered killer who drives needles into his victims’ brains to a young gangster struggling to live up to his father’s expectations. Bonds of honor, bonds of blood, and betrayals of both make this the most powerful read yet from the heralded Tom Piccirilli.


Reavis Wortham’s debut, The Rock Hole drew comparisons to Harper Lee and Joe R. Lansdale. In his third book, The Right Side Of Wrong, he moves into the territory of Cormac McCarthy. The books have grown darker and the characters confront more ambiguous themes, which amps up the atmosphere and fun.

The book starts with Center Springs, TX constable, Cody Parker driving in a freak snow storm to answer a domestic disturbance call and getting shot off the road. Left for dead, Parker is saved by Tom Bell, an elderly man who has taken up residence in Center Springs. Ned, Cody’s uncle who is a semi-retired constable asks for the help of John Washington, the black deputy in nearby Paris, Texas, to look into the crime. The investigation leads to two murdered moonshiners. As the investigation continues Ned’s niece and nephew, Top and Pepper, start up a friendship with their mysterious new neighbor, Mr. Bell, which is a concern to Ned.

Like McCarthy, Wortham deals with the idea of borders with this novel; things escalates when any of the characters cross into Oklahoma or Mexico. The theme fits well in the series, which looks at the 60s effect on a small Texas town that has changed little over the years. The Beach Boys and Johnny Rivers are pushing Hank Williams and Johnny Rodgers off the radio and the drug racket is moving in on the moonshine trade. Like its title suggests, The Right Side of Wrong looks at the lines crossed when good men have to do bad things; something that culminates in a bloodbath near the end. For Wortham’s characters, you don’t cross those borders and come back the same, if you come back at all.

Reavis Wortham’s talent as a writer lies in his ability to bring light into this dark story, giving us a full human experience. Much of this is done by employing humor (something lacking in much of McCarthy’s work). This seems to be the main reason to have Top and Pepper, especially with the chapters told through Top’s perspective. Wortham is able able to bring everything down to character; there is a conversation between Ned and Tom Bell that holds as much tension as the gunfights.

The Right Side Of Wrong is so involved with its time and place, it transcends it. In the the first two books we watched the citizens of Center Springs confront changing times, but now we see they are beginning to change themselves. I’m curious to see what lines they’ll cross in the future.

Reavis Wortham will be at BookPeople, discussing and signing The Right Side Of Wrong, July 22nd for our Lone Star Mystery Panel that also includes George Wier and Tim Bryant.