BEN REHDER INTERVIEW

A Tooth For A Tooth is Ben Rehder’s latest novel to feature Roy Ballard, a legal videographer operating in Austin with his partner and now fiancé Mia. Roy takes a job to prove fraud in what may be an insurance scam, but finds darker crimes when people start shooting at him. It’s hard to say  more about the book without giving away surprises, but both Ben and I tried our best in this interview. Take a look and join us Sunday at 2pm when Ben is here with Reavis Z. Wortham and Billy Kring to talk about their books.

MysteryPeople Scott: I felt A Tooth For a Tooth was one of your more complex mysteries, yet it made crystal clear sense in the unraveling. Did you have it all plotted out before you started?

A Tooth for a Tooth Cover ImageBen Rehder: I’ve always started my novels with just an idea and a few characters, but not an outline, so I’m largely making it up as I go along. The good news is, that leads to a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. Glad it made sense in the end!

MPS: I notice that Roy seems more likely to have a gun ready and possibly less trusting. Have past jobs made him more jaded or just more aware?

BR: He’s always had a gun accessible, but it’s probably on his mind more in recent books. I think he has more to lose, and more to protect, now that he’s in a relationship with Mia. He doesn’t want some goon to come along and screw that up! Both of them have had to deal with violent people on several occasions, and now more than ever, Roy wants to be prepared for whatever might come along.

MPS: While he deals with her over the phone, Mia isn’t physically there with Roy at the beginning of the book. Was there a particular reason for that decision?

BR: I wanted Roy to be on his own for a period as he dealt with some personal issues and grappled with some poor decisions he’d made in the past. Some of these involved Mia, and some would certainly impact their relationship.

MPS: Did it present any challenge?

Image result for ben rehderBR: Not particularly, no, and it gave Roy time to put more thought into one particular challenge than he otherwise might have. Hate to be cryptic, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers.

MPS: While you deliver a first rate detective plot, you take time to deal with Roy and Mia’s relationship, and have chapters that deal with the repercussions of the plot, like a wonderful exchange with a neighbor complaining about the shootout. Do you feel these moments are as essential to the story as the plot?

BR: Absolutely. If you build a character well, readers are interested in all aspects of their lives. You also want your reader to understand that your protagonist is human and has moments of self-doubt, like everyone else. Roy struggles with that sort of thing more than he would ever let on. For instance, he doesn’t want to be the guy endangering his neighbors, but at the same time, he’s irritated that the neighbor is making him think about such things.

MPS: Even in your more satirical books, when someone is shot, the act is rarely dismissed. Do you feel an author has a certain responsibility when portraying violence?

BR: To a degree, yes, but less so when the violence is obviously used for farcical or comic effect. It also depends on the context. If I wrote a series in which violence was frequently presented as the solution to most of my protagonist’s problems, I’d feel uncomfortable with that. If one of my characters is tempted to commit violence in a serious scene, I want him or her to struggle with it, before, during, and after. That’s how most people with a conscience would handle it in real life.

A (Partial) Atlas of Texas Crime Fiction

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

A hard land with a difficult history, Texas has always lent itself well to crime fiction. From the crime fiction greats who helped define the genre to those writers shaping the landscape of crime fiction today, Texas has a long tradition of social critiques and sendoffs of hypocrisy (the hallmarks of Texas crime fiction, in my opinion) delivered via murder mystery. Tales of Texas history may gaslight their audiences into believing in the state as a land of triumph, but we crime fiction readers know the dark, murderous truth about the land we call home….

Below, you’ll find an incomplete (of necessity) guide to Texas crime fiction, brought to y’all in honor of Texas Mystery Writers Month (that is, May). Emphasis is placed on well-known classic writers and the wide array of new crime fiction released in the past few years. We know we’re leaving out quite a few of the Texas mystery writer greats, and many of the good one-off novels. Some have gone out of print; others have simply dropped off our radar as we find new voices to champion.

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Meat Salesmen and Wiggle Picks: MysteryPeople Q&A with Ben Rehder

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Ben Rehder’s latest Blanco County novel, Point Taken, has his hero John Marlin playing straight man in a murder involving arrowheads, one scary meat salesman, and the redneck Abbott and Costello, Red and Billy Don, now flush with cash.

Ben will be joining Jonathan Woods and Lance Hawvermale for what is bound to be a fun discussion on Sunday, November 20th, at 5 PM. We got to him a little earlier to ask him these questions.

MysteryPeople Scott: While still very funny, this book came off a little darker than some of the other Blanco books I’ve read. Was that intended?

Ben Rehder: No, I didn’t intend that, and you’re actually the first person to make that comment. But I can see it. In hindsight, I have no problem with it being darker, and for a deeper explanation why, see the next answer…

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Three Picks for January

  • Picks from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

If I Had A Nickel by Ben Rehder9781519132475

Legal videographers and sometime investigators Roy Ballard and Mia Madison are back, hunting down a valuable stash of hobo nickels belonging to a millionaire who died in an interesting way. Rehder blends humor, detective fiction, Austin color, and the lives of his heroes into one entertaining cocktail.  You can find copies of If I Had A Nickel on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9780385350037


Shaker by Scott Frank

A hitman gets mistaken for a hero when he guns down some muggers during LAs biggest earthquake. This debut from acclaimed writer/director Scott Frank drops some truly hard boiled personalities into this satire of LA life. You can meet Scott Frank with authors Terry Shames and Josh Stallings at 7 PM, February 1st. You can find copies of Shaker on our shelves starting January 26th, or pre-order now via bookpeople.com


9781783294459Cut Me In by Ed McBain

Hard Case Crime plucks another one from obscurity. This early, by-gone novel from one of crime fiction’s grand masters has a publishing agent out to find his partner’s killer, in possession of a valuable stolen contract. It’s Mad Men meets Mickey Spillane. You can find copies of Cut Me In on our shelves starting January 12th, or anytime via bookpeople.com

MysteryPeople Q&A with Ben Rehder

  • Interview by MysteryPeople Scott

We’re happy to have Ben Rehder joining us for our Lone Star Mystery authors panel September 28th. In Bum Steer, Rehder’s latest novel to feature John Marlin of Blanco County, Marlin solves the mystery behind two dead bodies: a man and a steer.  We caught up with him to talk about the book and the real and fictional Blanco County.


MysteryPeople Scott: You often use news items or current events for your Blanco County books. Did a real life event inspire Bum Steer?

Ben Rehder: Not any single event, but cattle rustling in general had been in my head for a while. I think some people are surprised to learn that rustling still takes place, but it does, and there are special rangers who investigate those thefts, along with theft of farm and ranch equipment. Imagine trying to steal a thousand-pound animal that doesn’t want to cooperate. That was the germ of the idea that grew into Bum Steer.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Bill Crider

  • Interviewed by MysteryPeople Scott

Bill Crider is the epitome of the Texas journeyman writer. He has written in almost every genre and subgenre, his mysteries about Clearview sheriff Dan Rhodes being his best known. In his latest, Between The Living And The Dead, Dan Rhodes confronts murder, meth, and a possible ghost. Bill took a few questions from us about the Dan Rhodes novels and his career.

Bill Crider joins us Monday, September 28th, at 7 PM here at BookPeople for a Lone Star Crime panel. He’ll be speaking and signing his latest novel alongside Reavis Z. Wortham and Ben Rehder. You can find copies of Between The Living And The Dead on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


MysteryPeople Scott: What prompted you to use ghost hunters as a major part of the mystery?

Bill Crider: I’ve always wanted to write a haunted-house story, but I never came up with the right start for it. Then one day in the Walmart parking lot here in Alvin, Texas, I saw a ghost-hunters’ van, and I knew I had my hook. I had a character who’d be a perfect ghost hunter, so I gave him the job, threw in a murder, and had my haunted-house book.

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Special Crime Fiction Sunday: “Chocolate Moose” by Bill and Judy Crider

We are happy to have Texas genre writer extraordinaire Bill Crider joining us for an evening of Lone Star Crime with Reavis Wortham and Ben Rehder. They’ll be here at the store on Monday, September 28th, at 7 PM. Bill will be reading from his latest Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Between The Living & The Dead. If you are not familiar with his Clearwater, Texas lawman here’s a taste from the Anthony Award winning short story he wrote with his wife. It even has a chicken fried steak recipe. Can you get more Texas?

“Chocolate Moose” by Bill and Judy Crider

“Sheriff Dan Rhodes didn’t go to the Round-Up Restaurant often, but not because the food wasn’t good. He didn’t go because the food was too good.

The portable sign out front told the story with black letters on a white background: ABSOLUTELY NO CHICKEN FISH OR VEGETARIAN DISHES CAN BE FOUND ON OUR MENU!

What could be found were huge chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes smothered in cream gravy; big, soft rolls served with real butter; cooked-to-order T-bones marbled with fat on a plate beside a gigantic baked potato slathered with real butter, sour cream, and bacon bits; hamburger steaks with grilled onions piled high, along with a mound of french-fries or, if you preferred, hand-cut and battered onion rings. And, for dessert, there was a choice of peach or cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream on top. If you didn’t like cobbler, there was chocolate pie, with the best, the richest, the sweetest filling that Rhodes had ever tasted under its inch-thick meringue.

In other words, the Round-Up served good, solid food that stuck to your ribs, put a smile on your face, and, according to many leading physicians, filled your coronary arteries with substances whose effect on your health it was better not to think about. Which was why Rhodes rarely ate there.  His wife, Ivy, had him on a low-fat regimen that was taking inches off his waistline and, she claimed, adding years to his life. As Rhodes pulled the county car into the Round-Up’s black-topped parking lot, he wished, in spite of the risk to his longevity, that he were going there to have a big slice of chocolate pie, or, failing that, maybe one of those baked potatoes.  But he wasn’t. He was going to see about a man who’d been killed by a moose.


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Ben Rehder, Author of STAG PARTY, Starts Off A Month of Guest Posts for Texas Mystery Month


With  May being Texas Mystery Month, several authors from our home state will be doing guest posts about writing in Lone Star country. Our first is Ben Rehder, author of the satirical Blanco County crime novels. His latest novel is Stag Party.

Being a Texas author means I get to use my state as a backdrop for my novels. In essence, I can be a tour guide for my readers, figuratively showing them around to some of Texas’s coolest spots, as well as some of my personal favorites. Here are some of the places I’ve mentioned in my novels, in no particular order. A couple of these are gone now, but their memories will linger with locals for years.

Rosie’s Tamale House (Village of Bee Cave)
The Friendly Bar (Johnson City)
Cadillac Ranch (near Amarillo)
Hula Hut (Lake Austin)
Enchanted Rock State Park (near Fredericksburg)
Armadillo World Headquarters (Austin)
The Pier (Lake Austin)
Ronnie’s BBQ (Johnson City)
McBride’s Guns (Austin)
The Crystal Chandlier, pre-fame venue for George Strait (New Braunfels)
The Riverwalk (San Antonio)
Pedernales Falls State Park (Blanco County)
Soap Creek Saloon (Austin)
Barton Springs Pool (Austin)
Hamilton Pool (west of Austin)
Disch-Falk Field, home of Texas Longhorns baseball (Austin)
Cities along the Mexican border (Laredo, Del Rio, Piedras Negras, Acuna, etc.)
Whittington’s Jerky (Johnson City)
McDade Watermelon Festival (McDade)
The Sausage Capital of Texas (Elgin)
Selah Ranch (Blanco County)
The Barber Shop (Dripping Springs)
Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, 1973 (Dripping Springs)
Nutty Brown Cafe (Cedar Valley)
Blanco State Park (Blanco)
Red Bud Isle (Westlake Hills)
Russo’s Restaurant (Marble Falls)
Blanco Bowling Club Cafe (Blanco)
Port Aransas (Gulf Coast)

Keep an eye out for guest posts from Texas Mystery Writers all this month as MysteryPeople celebrates May: Texas Mystery Month. Sisters in Crime has a full roster of events planned for this month – check out their calendar here.

If you like Harlan Coben…

Harlan Coben’s popularity is no surprise. His standalone thrillers have “what if” plots that Hitchcock would have killed for and his series featuring Myron Bolitar has some of the best buddy banter in mysteries today between the hero and his wealthy and lethal sidekick Win. If you’re shopping for a Coben fan, who has devoured all his books, here are some suggestions for a perfect gift.


 

One Minute Gone1. One Minute Gone by Davis Hansard

Single father Porter hall gets three calls in succession – two about his soon-to be ex wife and one about a lunch date with his girlfriend. When the girlfriend misses the lunch date and goes missing all together, Porter’s search links the three calls to some serious movers and shakers using him as a sacrificial pawn. Moving in both pace and emotion with an everyman hero you can’t help but root for.

the bookseller2. The Bookseller by Mark Pryor

if you like the buddy antics of Bolitar and Win, then you’ll dig the relationship  of square-jawed hero Hugo Marston, Chief Of Security for our embassy in Paris, and his hard drinking, skirt chasing, CIA pal Tom Green who has no verbal filter whatsoever. The two are out of their jurisdiction as they try to find a kidnapped bookseller, thrust into a plot involving drug cartels and France’s past sins. Some of the best banter around.

ben rehder gone the next3.Gone The Next by Ben Rehder

A meeting of the two best parts of Coben. Legal videographer Roy Ballard catches a glimpse of who he thinks might be a recently missing girl. The fact that he lost his own daughter to an abduction doesn’t make him a believable witness to the Austin PD. Obsessed with finding the girl and possibly easing his own guilt, he uses his own skill set and finds help from his partner, sexy smart-ass Mia. Their relationship keeps the story humorous, while the plotting keeps it harrowing.


Copies of the above listed books can be found on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.