NOT SUCH A TOUGH GUY PRIVATE EYE : INTERVIEW WITH MATT COYLE

Matt Coyle brings that classic trope of the tarnished knight/errant private eye to his Rick Cahill series. In the latest book Blood Truth, things get even more emotional than usual when an old flame hires him to follow her possibly cheating husband and he discovers an envelope full of cash and a safe deposit key in his father’s safe. One leads to the murder case that ruined his father, the other to a body in a car trunk. Before Matt joins us for a panel discussion on December 7th with Con Lehane and David Eric Tomlinson, he took some questions from us about the new book and the emotional journey of his hero.

41rq-ux6bul-_ux250_MysteryPeople Scott: What made this the book for Rick to go into his father’s past?

Matt Coyle: I’m not a great planner, so I can’t say this was always going to be the book that solved the mystery of Rick’s father. However, his father’s fall from grace has been a continuing thread, one of the dark clouds hanging Rick’s head since the first book Yesterday’s Echo. I go by my gut a lot and the father story felt right here. The writing and the emotion of Blood Truth was made all the more poignant when my father died suddenly three months before I began writing it. I’d already settled on the story before my he passed, but obviously, his passing made the book more personal than all the other books I’d written.

MPS: What does Moira provide for him other than a partner?

9781608092871MC: Moira is a PI like Rick, except better at it. I introduced her in the second book, Night Tremors. She was in a few scenes and in the next book, Dark Fissures, she had a very small part. I needed her for an early scene in Blood Truth and then she was supposed to go away. But she didn’t. She forced her way into the story and gave the book much more depth and meaning than it would otherwise have had.

Moira gives Rick balance. She looks at all sides while Rick may only see three. In Blood Truth, she is really the conscience of the book. But, her most important contribution to Rick is her friendship. Rick has an ex-girlfriend and an ex-partner, but he had no real friends until Moira showed up. She tries to keep Rick in line and gets angry with him, but she never fails him.

MPS: You really tap into that classic mood of a private eye novel. Who would you consider major influences in the genre?

MC: For me it all starts with Raymond Chandler. I read him as a kid. Of course, I loved the writing and the language, but what first grabbed me was Philip Marlowe. He lived by his own code. He did what he knew to be the right thing even when it pitted him against the police or more powerful entities. I’m a big fan of Ross Macdonald, too. Through Lew Archer, he examined all levels of society just by following clues. Contemporary private eye influences are Robert Crais and Walter Mosley.   

MPS: Besides familiarity, what makes La Jolla a strong setting for the series?

MC: In the first draft of what became my first book, I fictionalized La Jolla. My brother-in-law read it and told me people like reading about real places, so I went with the real town and just fictionalized the police force and a couple other things. Best advice I ever received. La Jolla is a little slice of coastal paradise and is known as a vacation destination around the world. Thus, it attracts a wide variety of people and a lot of wealth. But even wealthy people have problems. They just have money to try to cover them up. When I’m writing about La Jolla, I sometimes think of the opening scene from the movie Blue Velvet with the wide swath of a perfectly manicured lawn…and the dark beetles churning underground. Sometimes paradise is only skin deep.

MPS: The book moves along through many well crafted reveals and reversals that all have a natural feel. How much do you plan out a novel?

MC: Thank you. As mentioned above, I’m not much of a planner. I don’t outline. I start with character and try to find the right catalyst that will move the plot forward and also reveal character. I try to find a case that will force Rick to become emotionally invested. The story really builds around that. I try not to force the plot and let the reveals and plot twists flow up from my subconscious. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I try to let the story come to me instead of chasing it. Sometimes an idea will bubble up in a sentence and I’ll drop it in a scene and I don’t really know what it means. Sometimes it can lead to a whole new angle on the story and other times it’s nothing. I call that dropping anchors. Sometimes, I have to go back and pull up the anchors, but, more often, they stay and improve the story and lead me to the deeper meaning. I know, weird.

MPS: This book I felt Rick came to terms with a lot of the things he was dealing with in the previous books. Do you have a new direction planned for him?

MC: I wish I could tell you I have his whole character arc planned out, but I don’t. He will be carrying a little less baggage than before, but he’s not going to all of a sudden have his life together. Plus, in book five, the one I’m writing now, he’ll have to deal with something that flares up in Blood Truth. However, I do see his relationship with Moira growing and the potential for happiness somewhere down that dark lonely road.

 

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MYSTERY WITHIN PROPHECY: AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID ERIC TOMLINSON

David Eric Tomlinson’s The Midnight Man is a unique mystery that covers almost seventy-five years on Choctaw reservation and how a past crime haunts another. David will be joining us December 7th for a signing and discussion with Matt Coyle and Con Lehane. We caught up with him to discuss the book and how the culture he wrote about had an effect on the story.

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MysteryPeople Scott: The backdrop of the story is the Choctaw Nation. What did you want the reader to know about the people?

David Eric Tomlinson: The Choctaw were one of the first civilized tribes to embrace the English language and legal system, in an effort to fight the systematic oppression of the conquering Americans. They studied the treaties they’d signed, and began to argue the finer points of the language in court, often with success. This was a double-edged strategy, though, because by embracing English, some felt that the Choctaw culture and language were gradually being lost.

9781507201091I was also fascinated by the Choctaw tradition of storytelling. It involves manipulating point-of-view to frame a prophecy from some past moment in history. The prophecy then looks forward … from THEN, to NOW … and in this way, reconciles the past with the present. In many ways, this structure influenced what I was trying to do in The Midnight Man … I stepped back to the mid 1990s, and told a forward-looking prophecy to the Oklahoma City bombing.

MPS: How did you manage the multiple points of view?

DET: I spent about a year outlining this book, weaving the various characters into and around one another’s lives. In the end, I wound up rewriting it five times. Multiple storylines and characters were eliminated. But at heart, this is a very simple story: every character has an arc, and everyone eventually realizes they cannot achieve it on their own. To get there, each has to ask for help … and be willing to give it.
MPS: Another backdrop is the nineties, particularly during the O.J. trial. How did that period serve you?

DET: The 90s served as a mirror to today. Back then, we had a new form of communication (the Internet), a grassroots conservative wave sweeping across the country (the Republican revolution), the beginnings of reality TV (Court TV, which was constantly streaming the OJ Simpson trial), violent separatist militias (The Michigan Militia, Koresh’s group in Waco), and right-wing radio jockeys / politicians using language to demonize and label their opponents (Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich).

Consider where we are today. Over time, these forces have become even more divisive. Now we have Twitter and the Bundy Brothers, Make America Great Again and Fake News.

This novel tries to show that political language, by forcing people to choose one side of a wedge issue, inhibits actual communication. Real communication requires empathy, vulnerability, and understanding. It requires being open to changing your mind, or yourself … something all of these characters are struggling to do, some with more success than others.

MPS: What was the biggest thing you leaned about dealing with a time period many of the readers have lived through?

DET: I think the biggest struggle for me was in seeing, on the one hand, how far we MIGHT have come since then – in terms of integrating more diverse racial, sexual, or political views into mainstream American life – and in how short we’ve actually fallen of that promise. This last year has revealed just how powerful and entrenched racism and bigotry are in our politics and culture.

The past is a road map to the present moment. Looking back at the mid 1990s, you can see how we arrived at this uniquely frightening moment in American history. The seeds were all there.

MPS: Family is a major part of the story. What did you want to explore with it?

DET: Family serves as a metaphor for the opposite of this divisive political rhetoric swirling around us every day. Also as a metaphor for teamwork. For various reasons, there’s a lot of basketball in this book. And like a basketball team, there are 5 characters in the novel. Over time, each overcomes his own biases, regrets, and fears, and they help one another evolve into better versions of themselves. It’s a kind of post-racial family unit. This all happens during the course of a capital murder trail, and in the year preceding the tragedy of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. But I wanted to show that tragedy – on a personal level – doesn’t have to be inevitable. Hope is possible.

MPS: What can you tell us about what you’re working on next?

DET: Right now I’m on the second draft of a novel about an Army veteran who runs a suicide hotline for other vets. I guess you could call it literary suspense. It’s an important and very personal story, and I’m hoping to share more news about it soon!

 

Interview with James Dennis from Miles Arceneaux

Interview with James Dennis from Miles Arceneaux

The team that that makes us the pseudonym of Miles Arceneaux, James Dennis, John T. Davis, and Brent Douglas, are back with another novel following the Sweeterwater family on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hidden Sea. Here they go back to the character that started it all with Charlie Sweetwater after his nephew who has been shanghaied on a fishing boat, encountering Mexican narcos and sea faring pirates. All three will be joining David Hansard on the 17th. We pulled James aside to talk about the novel.

MysteryPeople Scott: This is the first book in the series to take place in the present. Did that affect the writing in any way?

James Dennis: I don’t think it necessarily had an impact on the writing. This book was pretty research intensive, because it takes place in so many different locations along the Mexican coast and Cuba. And even though it takes place only a couple of years ago, the echoes of the past (both the historical past and the Sweetwater family history) can be heard pretty loudly. I suppose we subscribe to the wonderful line from Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

MPS: Lot of the book is seen through the eyes of Augie, Charlie Sweetwater’s nephew. What did that character bring to the series?

JD: I think we were very conscious of the sense of telling a family’s saga, the way different generations approach a given situation. The question of what we inherit from our family and what we chose to discard is really quite fascinating. Augie is young, a bit naïve, and a bit reckless. In many ways, he reminds me of Charlie and Johnny Sweetwater as young men. That’s in contrast to his father, Raul, who has adopted a much more cautious and careful approach to life. So, in some sense, Augie offers us an assurance that the legacy of the Sweetwater family (a family whose motto is “hold my beer and watch this'”) will live on.

MPS: The setting is primarily at sea on boats. Did the constricted space create any narrative challenges?

JD: I don’t think so. Large sections of the earlier books also took place at sea. But it did lend itself to the sense of Augie’s confinement, and in a larger sense, the confinement associated with the scourge of human trafficking. There’s a sense in which Augie’s feeling of being trapped speaks to the repressive conditions of all those who are caught up in the web of the human slave trade.

MPS: What was it like writing a Charlie who was much older than when you introduced him in Thin Slice of Life?

JD: In one sense, character development is what we look for in every novel, but when you write a series, you have an opportunity to have that character mature (or not) over time. In Charlie, we get a chance to see what remains of his reckless youth, and what he’s decided to let go of. It was actually a lot of fun watching him struggle with some of the issues we will all have to face. And the answers Charlie comes up with don’t necessarily have much in common with the choices that we, individually, have made. But that’s fiction: Charlie has taken on a life of his own, and it’s been a great ride watching it.

MPS: There is a major reveal near the end of the book. Was that planned books ahead or when you started this one?

JD: I suspect the people who know us well would chuckle at that idea. I’m not sure we’re capable of that sort of forethought or methodical planning. It’s true, however, that “that particular story line” was intentionally left unresolved, and I think each of us at various times in the novels that followed Thin Slice of Life has wondered what might happen and played out various alternatives. It wasn’t until this book, however, that we could realistically revisit that story line, and we had to play with several alternatives until we found a way to resolve it.

MPS: What makes the Sweetwater family worth coming back to as writers?

JD: There are probably a lot of different answers to this question. The Sweetwater family has offered us a vehicle to address some of the historical events along the coast that we have found interesting through the years. They’ve also given us a chance to write about some of the characters we’ve known (and wish we had known) in that area. They have given us a chance to laugh, and make each other laugh, and to explore the complex dynamics of a larger-than-life family. Mostly, though, they’ve offered us a place and a way to tell some stories about the people and events we care about. For that, we’ll always be grateful.

 

Q&A With David Hansard about How the Dark Gets In

Dark History And Rodent Relations: A Discussion With David Hansard About How The Dark Gets In

How The Dark Gets In is the second novel featuring Porter Hall. This time the New Yorker with a western background goes back to his roots and the dark secrets of the past when a friend goes missing in Austin. David Hansard will be joining the three authors who make up Miles Arceneaux on November 18th at 6PM to sign and discuss their work, but we put David in a dimly lit room to interrogate him early.

MysteryPeople Scott: I thought this book had one of the best starts. How did you come to using a mouse to reintroduce Porter?

David Hansard: As the story opens Porter believes he’s going to die alone in the windowless, basement room of a New York police station and end up buried in an unmarked grave in Potter’s Field. When a mouse touches his fingers, he feels a kinship and some small comfort knowing there’s another creature in the same predicament. The initial scene, which is set in September, is a flash-forward from the bulk of the story that takes place in June in Texas. I start with it because it’s the point at which the stakes are highest for Porter. His peril creates tension and raises questions that—I hope—hover over the entire story.

Since the setup involves “kidnap by cop” and illegal incarceration, I spent a lot of effort trying to make those seem feasible. After all, how realistic is it that actual law enforcement officers would take someone off the street and illegally lock them up in a police station? A couple of months after I wrote the scene stranger-than-fiction reality conveniently intervened. It turned out our local El Paso County, Colorado sheriff had been doing that exact thing to his political enemies and others he wanted to shake down.

MPS: What made you want to dive into Porter Hall’s past with the second book?

DH: With any reasonably complex character there is a personal history that has made them who they are. We all know Chandler’s dictum that “the knight” should have no past and no future, at least not ones the reader knows, and should not exist outside his mission. That works for Phillip Marlow. It wouldn’t work for Porter Hall, who, unlike Marlow, is reluctant amateur PI. The events of his own life draw him into his adventures and misadventures. One of Porter’s defining attributes is infection with the “white knight” syndrome, his compulsion to rescue “damsels in distress.” The irony, which is not lost on him, is that the surest way for a damsel to end up in distress is by spending time with him. It’s the inciting event in One Minute Gone and repeats more than once in How the Dark Gets In. Being a “rescuer” is his nature, but it’s a trait that has also been exacerbated by the loss of his older sister when he was ten.

MPS: Family plays an important part in various ways through the story. What did you want to explore with it?

DH: Porter feels responsible for the death of his sister at the hands of a drunk driver more than thirty years ago because he created the situation that caused it. Only by returning to that period of his life can her death, and the way it has shaped and still controls him, be understood. That event underlies the dysfunction that destroyed his family and was responsible for, in his mind, the premature deaths of both of his parents. It has left him with guilt and loneliness he will never escape.

MPS: The story takes place across the the U.S. from New York to Austin and Porter’s Wyoming family home. Did that present more of a challenge or something less confining?

DH: How the Dark Gets In is a personal odyssey for Porter, spatially and temporally, from his present life in New York City to his life as a younger man in Texas and finally to his Wyoming childhood. Not only are these times and places not distinct to him, they are a continuum, an echo chamber in which events long past and those of the present overlap, concur, and talk over each other. The places, disparate as they are, mirror and mingle among themselves. What’s the Faulkner quote? “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” And where did I see it? Oh, right. On the back cover of the book.

MPS: Porter Hall is such a distinctive, yet fitting name for your character. How did you come up with it?

DH: After my mother read the first chapter of One Minute Gone, she said, “I can’t believe your main character is named Porter Hall. Did you realize my mother’s maiden name was Porter and your other grandmother’s maiden name was Hall?” Really, Mom? That truly is an amazing coincidence.

MPS: What has made him the ideal character for you to run with?

DH: I am in awe of writers like Martin Cruz Smith who have the imagination and intelligence to visit a place for a few days—Moscow, in Cruz’s case—and then create a rich, compelling, and viable narrative peopled with engaging and believable characters. Unfortunately, I’m neither smart enough nor creative enough to do that so I lean on a character who shares major portions of my own backstory and has similar tastes and interests. Porter and I even wear the same size boots. That’s s very convenient when we travel together because we can trade off footwear. And, by a really weird coincidence, his name happens to be the same as two of the surnames in my family tree.

Q&A with Eryk Pruitt

Eryk Pruitt’s What We Reckon is a greasy southern mess of violence, drugs, and religion centered around the relationship of con man Jack Jordan and Summer, a couple with a Honda, dreams, and a kilo of cocaine in a hollowed out King James Bible. It continues in the tradition of Pruitt’s wild southern noir. We caught up with the man to talk about the book, his characters, and the region he writes about.

MysteryPeople Scott: The core of What We Reckon is a lovers-on-the-run tale before it explodes into something bigger. What do you like about that sub genre of crime fiction?

Eryk Pruitt: I grew up in a small town with no ironclad guarantee that one day I would leave it. I’d sit out on the highway and dream up every possibility there was to dream about how to get out, and many of those possibilities involved something illegal. I think it was natural that I’d gravitate towards stories where someone chucks everything to throw caution to the wind and take off with somebody else. Stories like Agatite by Clay Reynolds or With by Donald Harington helped scratch that itch.

I think that everybody living on the grid believes they’d be better living off it. And most folks appreciate someone who could co-pilot, that might share their dark sensibilities, or at least enable them for a while. This is why the Bonnie and Clyde story still gets told. Life is full of moments where folks zigged, but wonder what may have happened if they zagged.

Image result for eryk pruittLately, these stories have best been told by Wiley Cash, in This Dark Road to Mercy; Jordan Harper with She Rides Shotgun; and Donald Ray Pollock’s masterpiece, The Heavenly Table. I can only hope my crack at a story within the sub-genre offers enough deviation to stray from what folks might ordinarily expect. Or at least, give them a laugh…

MPS: At times I felt there was touch of Flannery O’Connor to the book, the way religion plays a part. What did you want to explore in the South’s spiritual side?

EP: A long-standing trick I’ve learned since living in the South: when dealing with repairmen of any sort, always be sure to namedrop Jesus. Every time you toss out a “…if the good Lord permits it…” or “blessed be,” a hundred dollars drops off the estimate. It’s a brotherhood, with its own decoder rings and secret handshakes. You have to learn that language and speak it, then be ready for any and all opportunity.

In What We Reckon, every character shares a dark hole inside themselves, and search constantly for a way to fill it. I think this best describes the plight of the religious person. Some people have scratched prosperous livings off nursing that need. Televangelists, cult leaders, and con artists carrying a King James Bible with a kilo of cocaine have very few degrees of separation between them.

We’re no longer surprised by the hypocrisy of Robert Tilton, David Koresh, or the Catholic pederasty. Now it’s more fun to talk about how we call pull one over on the hypocrites, instead of the other way around.

MPS: I also thought of Jim Thompson in the sense that as over the top as the plot got, I always felt grounded with the characters. How do you think you pulled that off?

EP: I feel I ask a lot from the reader when I ask them to sympathize with my characters. I treat their empathy as a very precious commodity, because once I lose it, they will put down the book. There has to be something for them to identify with, to keep them going. Hopefully, they find something inside Jack Jordan or Summer Ashton that speaks to them, and once they’ve locked in on that…we gradually increase the temperature. We slowly close the door behind them.

Both Jack and Summer have started to slip. It’s probably been happening for a while, but the frays are starting to show at the edges. While we may not believe in the things that Summer is seeing with her own two eyes, we can fully empathize that she believes them, and that is what is important. Jack may not really be coming down with every disease in the world, but he’d be the last person to know that.

MPS: Your books are soaked in southern culture. What do you want to convey about the area you grew up and live in?

EP: I love the South. I think it’s a wild, spooky, haunted, terrible, beautiful place and I’d have a hard time enjoying myself anywhere else. It’s my understanding that most folks think of the South and Southerners as a pejorative, but not me. I’m not down with the old ways, but rather what the kids call #NewSouth. A pot that melts. An all-inclusive gumbo of cultural collisions that enjoy a six-month tomato season.

That being said, the South is also a product of that disturbing past and that conflict should continue to churn out good fiction for quite a while. Themes of race and religion have only deepened and it’s been interesting to see how they’ve been dealt with in the past in Southern crime canon by William Gay, Daniel Woodrell, and Ernest J. Gaines. Since those pages have yet to be turned, it will be interesting to see how the newer guys like Greg Barth, S.A. Cosby, and Marietta Miles deal with them.

MPS: Much of the book takes place in Texas. Do find that a different kind of south?

EP: It’s my opinion that East Texas is the strangest place on earth. It’s shares the same collision of cultures enjoyed by much of the South, but in East Texas, it’s done behind the shroud of a heavy, pine curtain. All it’s “crazy” has been kept in the shadows. It’s the reason Joe Lansdale will never run out of material.

I grew up in East Texas, and went to college there. I’d fall short in any attempt to properly describe it, so my best suggestion would be to watch Eric Hueber and Andy Cope’s film Rainbow’s End, or the Carl Crum thesis “East of West.” 

MPS: What makes unsavory characters so fun to write about?

EP: It’s a pressure release to let all those inner, unchecked desires off the leash. Maybe a million dirtbag options fly through our heads at any given fork in the road (maybe they don’t for some people…who knows?), but it’s nice to live through someone else’s mistakes.

Plus, it allows us the ability to vicariously exact revenge. Even if you don’t like the kinds of people that Jack Jordan or Summer Ashton have become, you might stick around to see them get their comeuppance. Chances are, you know someone just like them and, while you were never able to give them the what-for they so truly deserved, you won’t mind turning another page to watch someone else give it to them.

But of course, I don’t find them unsavory. I’ve fallen in love with them both and only root for them.

Eryk Pruitt will be on our panel discussion, Hard Boiled Fiction Past & Present, with Mike McCrary and Rick Ollerman, November 6th, 7PM

Q&A with Mike McCrary

In Steady Trouble, Mike McCrary introduces us to Steady Teddy, an Austin bartender, floating casino manager, part time pimp, and amusement park princess. She finds a way for life to get more interesting when an offer to inherit a art of a millionaires wealth puts her in the cross hairs of the man’s greedy and murderous family. Even by McCrary’s standards this book does not let up. We talked to Mike about the novel and the character at its center.

Mike McCrary will be joining Rick Ollerman and Eryk Pruitt for an event at BookPeople next Monday, November 6th, at 7pm. Hope to see you there! 

Image result for mike mccrary authorMysteryPeople Scott: The forward momentum of Steady Trouble is relentless. What do you attribute this to?

Mike McCrary: Thank you. It’s not by accident. I think it’s a constant fear that I have, a panic even, that I will not entertain the person reading the thing. I simply don’t want to bore people. Perhaps to a fault.

I don’t want anyone who picks up any of my books to not be entertained. I’m sure it’s happened, for one reason or another, but I guess I want to make sure I do as much as I can on my end to keep the pages burning along and for people have a good time.

I write with the intent to entertain. Not to wow them about how I can describe trees and shit.

MPS: How did the character of Teddy come about?

MM: I knew I wanted to do something a little different from my other stuff. I wanted a character who was damaged, but in a different way than the usual crime / thriller badass heroes.

Image result for mike mccrary authorShe’s not a raving alcoholic cop with a dead partner or disgraced hit man out to help the world be a better place. She’s was involved in a horrible attack during childhood that she doesn’t even remember because she suffered a head injury during the incident. Some characters might have taken that tragedy and folded up into a drug addict or turned it into an inspiration and become a lawyer or whatever, but this trauma molded Teddy into something different. Not a victim or a shining light of goodness, but something else.

She became a force of nature created in her own image. She’s carved out a strange life for herself, but all on her terms. I wanted readers to have sympathy for her but never pity her. That character setup also allows for a lot of great twists and turns because we’re learning about her as she learns about herself and a past that she didn’t know existed.    

MPS: Did writing a female lead make anything different?

MM: Not really.

I was very purposeful on how I created her. I didn’t take the story into places that I didn’t think I could do justice to. I also didn’t make it some male fantasy, sex tale with kinky shit on every other page. I made her a person who’d been through some tough stuff, but could handle it. I tried to think of strong women I’ve known, put them in that situation and tried to think about what they might do. It could have easily been a male lead, not to dump on my gender, but I thought Steady Teddy needed to be more than that.

MPS: Was there any challenge in writing for a lead of a different gender than yourself?

MM: Some, but the biggest challenges were from a technical side more than anything else.

Really it was just getting into the mindset of her each day before writing. It’s written in first person so I had to be aware of using words that associated myself with being female. After a few days it was pretty easy, perhaps more than I care to admit, but it wasn’t any different than taking on any other lead I’ve written. Once you get past the obvious stuff, you simply write the character. She’s a person involved in a situation, like any male character, and then you write to entertain. Not like I was typing things like, “Damn, my vagina is bothering me today.”

MPS: What draws you to protagonists who don’t follow the most virtuous path?

MM: More fun. More interesting. That’s probably the short answer.

I read somewhere that Superman is hard to pull off now because society today is too cynical to believe anyone is that pure and good. Maybe that’s true, maybe not, but I’ve always had a fascination with people that live and roam in the margins. We’re all a mess. We’ve all got our travels in the dark, some darker than others, so I think readers identify and like to explore characters that aren’t perfect or even vaguely close. The ones that are trying best they can, but keep falling short. That can’t get out of their own way. Much like all of us at times.

MPS: You are also doing your fourth Remo book. What can you tell us about it?

MM: Yeah, this will be the fourth and perhaps the last Remo for a while at least. It’s called Remo Went Off and will be out in November. I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out. I’m also very happy that I got to do the Remo series the way I wanted to. People have been very kind and seem to have great affection for the character despite the fact he’s pretty much an asshole.

If you enjoyed the other three then this one will not disappoint. There’s all the action, profanity, fun, jokes and insanity that I’ve had a blast writing. As I look at the four books as a set, it’s crazy to think the entire story only really takes place over a few days. Fun days for the readers, and the writer, but not so much for Remo.

Remo has been a fixture in my writing life, I owe the man a lot, and he’s been good to me. Despite what I’ve put him through.

Mike McCrary will be joining Rick Ollerman and Eryk Pruitt for an event at BookPeople next Monday, November 6th, at 7pm. Hope to see you there! 

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: ROBERT B. PARKER’S KICKBACK by Ace Atkins

kickback

By this point, everyone should know that Ace Atkins is the perfect caretaker for Spenser. He has captured Robert B. Parker’s Boston-based hero-for-hire in both attitude and action. Lately he appears to have taking a more relaxed approach, injecting his own sensibilities that mesh perfectly with Parker’s. His latest continuation of Spenser’s adventures, Kickback, continues to meld the two writing styles.

After her son has been incarcerated in a detention camp for a relatively harmless prank, a mother hires Spenser to look into it. Other boys with the same story have been sent by the same judge. Spenser follows the story to the town where the detention center is located, where he gets harassed by the local law. When he later learns of a connection to some mob types in Tampa, he takes along better protection than sunscreen: his streetwise ally Hawk.

Ace focuses on the detective side of Spenser’s skill-set; a side we don’t see often enough. Where in many of the books, he Spenser quickly learns the identity of the culprit, here, he has to piece together an answer from an entire system of corruption. He works his case methodically with smarts and wit, pushing his adversaries until they give him the information to lock a piece into place. It is refreshing to see him operate more as a classic private eye. If all of this sounds too cerebral, there are still plenty of gunfights.

Ace Atkins continues to deliver everything we want from a Spenser book and more. We get the action, banter with Hawk, and romance (that my hard boiled taste is starting to warm to) with Susan. Yet, instead of simply continuing Spenser’s adventures, Atkins is subtlety deepening aspects of the the character as an actual series writer does. I’m already looking forward to the next installment.


Robert B. Parker’s Kickback hits the shelves May 19th. Pre-order now! Ace Atkins comes to BookPeople this July – check out our events page closer to the date for more information!