For our April Hard Word Book Club we will be reading from one of the masters of rural crime fiction. Daniel Woodrell is one of those authors other authors revere. Best known for Winter’s Bone, he chronicles the marginalized in his Ozark home area. We will be reading his first book to do this, Give Us A Kiss.
The book follows Doyle Redmond, a ne’er do well writer, leaving his California wife in her Volvo. As a favor to his folks, he goes down. He goes to his home town of West Table, Missouri, to convince his brother Smoke to turn himself in to Kansas City law enforcement. Instead, Doyle finds his own trouble, when a marijuana deal from Smoke’s “money garden” goes wrong and Doyle reignites a blood feud with The Dollys, a family of hardcore criminals.
This is Woodrell at his most entertaining. The book is laid back and funny with sudden pops of violence that build suspense into the story the further it goes as it looks at family, history, and literature itself. This should be one of our more fun discussions. We will be meeting on BookPeople’s third floor, Wednesday, April 25th, at 7PM. The book is 10% off to those planning to attend.
In May we will be discussing a book by one of Daniel Woodrell’s mentors and friends, James Crumley’s The Final Country.
Our April meeting of the Murder In The Afternoon will be a special one. We will have bestselling author Meg Gardiner in person to discuss her book Unsub. Be ready to steel yourself before reading.
Unsub is a serial killer novel that delivers what you want from the sub-genre with fresh twists. The Prophet, who terrorized the Bay Area, resurfaces after twenty years. The FBI tap narcotics cop Caitlin Hendrix to get information from her father, Mack, the detective who came closest to catching the killer and lost his sanity in the process.
There is a lot to discuss, the real Zodiac who inspired the character, starting a series, and researching the material. Meg has a gift for explaining the process, making her a perfect live guest. So meet us all on BookPeople’s third floor April 16th at 1PM. The book is 10% off for those planning to attend.
For March, our Murder In The Afternoon book club will celebrate the month that marks the hundredth year of hard boiled writer Mickey Spillane’s birth. With the creation of tough guy detective Mike Hammer, Spillane launched the paperback boom that gave us a new generation of great genre writers. We will be discussing his fourth Hammer book, One Lonely Night.
The story begins with Mike walking along the bridge on a rainy night after a judge has read him the riot act about his tactics. A woman runs toward him chased by a gunman. He shoots the man down, but frightens the woman so much, she jumps off the bridge. Out of a mix of guilt and blood lust, he tracks down those responsible in a back alley trail of thus, politicians, and (this being the fifties) communists.
There will be a lot to talk about with One Lonely Night – how Spillane reacted to his critics, Hammer’s relationship with violence, and genre fiction in the age of The Red Scare. We will also be showing a documentary — Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane, directed by friend and fellow writer Max Allan Collins featuring authors like Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky, and Walter Mosley. We will be meeting in BookPeople’s Third Floor at 1PM, Monday the 19th. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Volume 2 that contains One Lonely Night is 10% off to those who plan to attend.
For more Spillane, the Hard Word Book Club will be discussing The Girl Hunters on the night of March 28th at 7PM, along with viewing the film version starring Spillane as Mike Hammer.
Our December Murder In The Afternoon Book Club discussion of Mark Pryor’s The Crypt Thief will be special in two ways. With it being our holiday discussion, we’ll be bringing treats to share. Also, Mark will be joining us in person.
The Crypt Thief is the second book to to feature Hugo Marston, head of security for our embassy in Paris. When the son of a senator is murdered at the Pare Lachaise cemetery along with the theft of some the bones from a famed dancer at the Moulin Rouge, Hugo is asked to investigate. Obvious clues lead to terrorism, but Hugo suspects something else.
The Crypt Thief is one of the creepiest books in the series with one of the best villains. it will give us a lot to talk to Mark about. We will be meeting Monday, December 18th, 1PM on the 3rd floor. Books are 10% off to those planning to attend.
For November, The Hard Word Book Club discusses a book by one of the
greats at a transitional moment in his career. Elmore Leonard’s Forty
Lashes Less One was the last western he did before starting crime
fiction. Containing many elements in those future books and taking
place in less than wide open spaces, this can be viewed as him taking
The two protagonists are Chiricahua Apache Raymond San Carlos and
Harold Jackson, a black former soldier, sentenced to life in Yuma
Prison. To put Jackson in his place, the king of the cons, Frank
Shelby, tricks him into a fight with with San Carlos. Raymond and
Harold bond when tossed into the hole and become the pet
rehabilitation project for a the new warden, who is also a minister.
When the inmates need to be moved to a new prison, Shelby plans a
breakout and Raymond and Harold plot revenge.
Forty Lashes Less One is funny, tough, and very unique. It provides
much to talk about with how the characters view race and religion. It
is also provides great examples to talk about crossing genres and
Elmore Leonard. We will be having our discussion on Wednesday, November
29th, 7PM on BookPeople’s third floor. The books are 10% off to those
planning to attend.
Author Ace Atkins to call in during the Hard Word Book Club’s upcoming discussion of his novel Infamous
This month’s Hard Word Book Club selection, Infamous by Ace Atkins, is both historical and humorous. Infamous was the last of Ace Atkin’s quartet of books incorporating true crimes (Hopefully we’ll see more). It chronicles the exploits of robber and kidnapper George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
Mainly, Infamous tells the story of the woman behind the man. Far from a mastermind, Kelly was goaded into a life of crime by his wife Kathryn. When the kidnapping of an oilman gets complicated and a former Texas Ranger closes in, his skills and marriage are put to the test.
Ace Atkins will be calling in to the group to talk about the work and his research. We will be meeting on BookPeople’s third floor, Wednesday, February 24th, at 7PM.
The Hard Word Book Club meets the last Wednesday of each month and discusses noir and hard-boiled crime fiction. Selections for the book club are 10% off at the registers. You can find copies of Infamous on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.