If you like Ross Macdonald…

We have our eyes on Ross Macdonald’s 100th birthday, this upcoming December 13th. If you are a fan of his or holiday shopping for someone who is, here are three books that might entertain a Macdonald fan.

9781440553974Hose Monkey by Reed Farrel Coleman

When it comes to exploring human sin and emotion like Macdonald, no one comes closer than Reed Farrel Coleman. In this look at at two marginalized men, an ex-cop and the detective that shut down his career, Coleman takes a murder mystery into the darkness of the human heart and provides a look at post- 9-11 New York life with grit and poetry. You can find copies of Hose Monkey on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

9780312938994A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Grafton takes Macdonald’s mantel of looking at California society and its vivid characters from top to bottom. She even uses the same fictional name, Santa Teresa, as her fictional stand in for Santa Barbara where her PI, Kinsey Malone, operates. You can find copies of A is for Alibi on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781400033591Black Maps by Peter Spiegelman

While he has a more upfront back story, John March shares the lonely knight errant quality of Lew Archer. His Wall Street stomping ground also shows the relationship between place and perpetrator that Macdonald often cited. You can find copies of Black Maps on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

Scene of the Crime: Peter Spiegelman & Wall Street

Today we begin a new monthly series, Scene Of The Crime, where authors discuss the locations they write about. Peter Spiegelman’s PI John March works cases involving Wall Street. Spiegelman, who worked as a software designer for many Wall Street businesses, also edited one of the best Akashic anthologies, Wall Street Noir, proving the reach of the street.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: What makes Wall Street a place to return to for your fiction?

PETER SPIEGELMAN: I worked on and around Wall Street for twenty-plus years, and I have friends and family who still work there, so it’s a place I know well. It’s also a place where wrongdoing has often been a part of the landscape—which makes it fertile ground for crime fiction.

MP: What makes it a unique location for you?

PS: From my first day there, it was apparent to me that Wall Street is quite a noir-ish place. Though the trappings are different, a trading floor has more than a few things in common with a casino or a racetrack. You can find compulsive risk-takers there, and people who measure their own self-worth by their latest gains or losses. There is arrogance, desperation, self-deception and self-destruction at work, along with short fuses and big egos, so it makes a great laboratory for anyone interested in how people behave under pressure—what they will and won’t do, where they draw (or don’t draw) the line.

MP: How does it inform your hero?

PS: Wall Street is a world John March knows intimately (he’s the black sheep son of a family of investment bankers)—a world he grew up in, but that he ultimately turned his back on. Now he’s an “outside insider” – someone who knows about the skeletons in the closet, and where the bodies are buried. He maintains a reflexive skepticism about Wall Street, isn’t intimidated or awestruck by big money, and isn’t misled by nonsense wrapped in jargon.

MP: What is the biggest misconception about the place?

PS: From the long, sad history of crime on Wall Street, it’s easy to believe that the industry is made up exclusively of Gordon Gekkos or Bernie Madoffs or seedy boiler-room types pushing sub-prime mortgages, or slicker Ivy League types pushing toxic derivatives. But that’s far from the whole story. The vast majority of people employed there are hardworking folks who are not paid extravagant sums, and who are no less honest than people in any other industry.

MP: What did you enjoy most about working there?

PS: I had a chance to do some interesting, very challenging work there, and to do it with some very smart people. But the best part, by far, of working on Wall Street was meeting my wife there.

Peter will be calling into our Hard Word Book Club September 26th at 7pm, for our discussion of his first John March book, Black Maps.

Join a Conversation with Peter Spiegelman

Here at BookPeople on Wednesday Sept, 26th, at 7pm, the Hard Word Book Club will be discussing one of the best modern private eye novels out there, Peter Spiegelman’s Black Maps. It is a book both unique in setting and tone, introducing us to Spiegelman’s series character John March.

March turned his back on his family of Wall Street financiers to become a deputy sheriff in upstate New York. After his life is shattered with the murder of his wife, he moves back to the city. While trying to put his life back together, he hires himself out as an investigator. Because of his family connections, most of the jobs involve the life he left behind.

In Black Maps, March is hired by a self-made investment  banker, Rick Pierro, who is being blackmailed. As John John tries to find the blackmailer, he discovers Pierro may be involved in something more criminal and personal than he thought.

Peter Spiegelman brings two pieces of his background together that make the book and the rest of the John March series a distinguished read. Peter used to work as a software designer for several Wall Street firms and said he encountered many people as dark and reckless as anything from a Jim Thompson novel. He conveys these people with nuance and shading, taking them beyond cardboard Gordon Geckos. His background as a poet produces a different rhythm and flow from the usual Chandler approach to prose. The word choice  is clean and can cut right to the emotion without over-emoting.

We’re honored to have Peter Spiegelman call in to our discussion on Wednesday, September 26th as we examine this novel that holds a unique place in the genre. Hard Word Book Club is free to attend, no registration necessary. Just show up.