Scott’s Top Ten of 2016 (Make it a dozen. Okay, fifteen or sixteen.)

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

This was a great year for crime fiction. Established authors experimented with new ideas or pushed what they were doing further. People with great debuts in 2015 proved it wasn’t just beginners luck this year. 2016’s new releases were so good, it was difficult to narrow them down, so I put a few together and made it a dozen.

97803991730351. Anything and All Things Reed Farrel Coleman

This year Coleman started a new character, ex-Suffolk-County-cop-turned-sorta-PI Gus Murphy (Where It Hurts), ended the series featuring dwarf detective Gulliver Down (Love & Fear), and delivered a Game Change in the life of Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone (Debt To Pay.) All of it was executed with a poet’s choice of words, haunting emotions, and believable leads in a struggle to find who they are and what matters to them. He also had brilliant short stories in the anthologies Crime Plus Music and Unloaded. It wouldn’t surprise me if Reed made out some moving grocery lists as well.

97803995743202. The Second Life Of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton

Possibly one of the best crafted crime novels in a decade. Nick Mason finishes a twenty-year stretch in five due to a criminal kingpin who runs his empire from the inside. Upon Mason’s release the kingpin’s lawyer hands him a cell phone that is the condition of his release – he must answer the phone at any time and do whatever he is told on the other end. Everything Hamilton sets up in the first few chapters falls beautifully into place by the end.

97803162310773. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

This dark, morally complex tale looks at ambition and the dynamics of family support for their gymnastics prodigy daughter as the family and community react to a murder that occurs in their sporting community. Abbott further pushes the boundaries of noir.

97805254269434. An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson

Sheriff Walt Longmire, Henry Standing Bear, and Deputy Vic Moretti find themselves having to solve a mystery in a town overrun by a motorcycle rally. Guns, outlaw bikers, federal agents and a woman from Henry’s past all play a part in unraveling the final mystery. Johnson strips down the cast to his most essential characters for one of the most entertaining books in the series.

97800623698575. What Remains Of Me by Alison Gaylin

A multi-layered psychological Hollywood thriller, in which a present-day murder of an actor is tied to the past murder of a director, and the same woman gets blamed for both. Gaylin’s character development beautifully dovetails with a plot that is never revealed until the final sentence. Beautiful, stunning work.

97803991739506. The Innocents by Ace Atkins

The latest and angriest of The Quinn Colson novels has our country boy hero and Sheriff Lillie Virgil solving a torturous murder of a former cheerleader, dealing with the worst aspects of Southern small town society. A book that enrages as it entertains.

97803079612737. Dr. Knox by Peter Spiegelman

Spiegelman introduces us to his new series character, a doctor who keeps his Skid Row clinic afloat by making “house calls” with his mercenary pal to the rich, famous, and criminal, who don’t need anything reported on medical records. A very interesting, complex hero, and an interesting look at L.A.

97812500099688. Murder At The 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane

In Murder at the 42nd Street Library, Con Lehane introduces us to another great new character, Raymond Ambler, Curator of the Crime Fiction Collection for the New York Public Library and amateur sleuth. A satisfying mystery with a lived-in, warm look at friendship and a worker’s look at New York.

97819438181749.City of Rose & South Village by Rob Hart

The seconds and third installments following unlicensed private eye Ash McKenna takes him to two very different places, tracking down a stripper’s daughter in Portland and a solving a murder on his friend’s Georgia commune, charting a progression of a broken man putting the pieces of himself together. Plot and character meld seamlessly into this compelling tale of a lone hero who feels he can not be a part of the society he helps.

978076537485110. Night Work by David C Taylor

This follow up to veteran screenwriter David C. Taylor’s debut, Night Life, has police detective Michael Cassidy protecting Castro during his famous New York visit. Taylor makes the city and period a living, vibrant thing coming off the page.

11. Shot In Detroit by Patricia Abbott9781940610825

This story about a photographer who gets obsessed with a project involving young black men challenges us at every turn about race, class, and art and crime fiction itself. It is a book where the author complements the reader by assuming you are as intelligent and open to difficult topics as she is.

978098913299212. Genuinely Dangerous by Mike McCrary and Kiss The Devil Goodnight by Jonathan Woods

Two dark wild rides through a pulp hell that is pure Heaven for crime fiction fans. if Barry Gifford was still running Black Lizard he would have signed these guys up.

Murder in the Afternoon Book Club Enjoys the Night Life

Murder in the Afternoon Book Club to Discuss: Night Life by David C. Taylor

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

NIGHT LIFEFor October, our Murder In the Afternoon book club goes back to the not so fabulous Fifties with the Edgar nominated Night Life. It it the first in the Michael Cassidy series. We’re happy to announce the author, David C. Taylor, will be calling into the discussion.

Michael Cassidy works as a police detective n New York, even though he has a well off background. His father made himself a Broadway mogul and his brother works for the fledgling broadcaster ABC. When Michael catches the murder of a chorus boy, the investigation leads him through a red scare world of the mob, FBI, CIA, and Russian agents with appearances by the likes of Roy Cohn and gangster Frank Costello.

Night Life‘s hero, place and period gives us a lot to talk about and Mr. Taylor knows the period well. We will be meeting on BookPeople’s third floor at 1PM, Monday, October 17th. Copies of Night Life are 10% off in-store for those who attend.

You can find copies of Night Life on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club meets the third Monday of each month at 1 PM. Our upcoming meeting to discuss Night Life is next Monday, October 17th, at 1 PM on Bookpeople’s 3rd floor. Author David C. Taylor will be calling in to the discussion. 

Scott’s Top Ten Mysteries of 2016 (So Far)

97803991730351. Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

Coleman gives us a new character, ex-cop Gus Murphy, in a mystery involving old school mobsters, questionable cops, and a confrontation with loss and despair. After this hard-boiled story with heart, I can’t wait to see where this wounded hero is going. Signed copies available!

 


2. The Second Life Of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton9780399574320

One of the best crafted crime novels I’ve read in some time, featuring a small time hood whose early prison release has him forced to do the bidding of criminal kingpin. Everything Hamilton sets up with his sharp premise falls perfectly into place by the end.


97800623698573. What Remains Of Me by Allison Gaylin

A layered Hollywood thriller with the murder of a movie star tied to the woman found guilty for shooting his director buddy when she was a teenager. Gaylin dives into celebrity crime, tapping into dark social psychology.

Read More »

April is for Mystery Lovers: Tons of Upcoming Events!

As we all enjoy the brief Texas spring, come take shelter from the pollen counts and enjoy our full roster of mystery events coming up in April here at the store. On April 2nd, Philip Kerr started off our April events with a blast, speaking and signing his latest continuation of his Bernie Gunther series, The Other Side of SilenceIf you missed the event, signed copies of his latest, as well as many of the previous volumes in the series, are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

This past Sunday, April 10th, at 2 PM, Laurie R. King, author of the beloved Russell and Holmes series, as well as the fantastic Kate Martinelli series, joined us to speak and sign her latest installment in her Mary Russell series, The Murder of Mary Russell. While I’ve been reading the Mary Russell novels for many years, King’s newest addition to the series, delving deep into Mrs. Hudson’s backstory, might be my favorite in the series to date!

For those who missed this event, library enthusiasts will be pleased to note that in support of Austin Public Library, 5% of sales of all Laurie R. King titles sold in store on Sunday April 10th and 5 % of sales of The Murder of Mary Russell the week of April 5th (ending April 12th) will be donated to the library. Come by today or tomorrow, grab a copy of King’s latest, and support Austin Public Library. Signed copies available!

Just one day after Laurie R. King’s visit, Stuart Woods and David C. Taylor will be speaking and signing their latest novels, Family Jewels and Night Work, respectively, today, Monday, April 11th, at 7 PM. This event is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Stuart Woods on his large oeuvre of bestselling thrillers, while getting to know David C. Taylor, an up-and-coming crime novelist who started out in the film biz.

Next up, Jessica Knoll, author of the stunning debut, Luckiest Girl Alive, comes to speak and sign this amazing novel on Saturday, April 16th, at 3 PM. Knoll has worked as senior editor at Cosmopolitan. She draws on both life and fiction for her debut, an intense look at high school trauma and its lingering effects, even for those who manage to reinvent themselves in adulthood.

2016-04-1620pf20book20pfestival20authors20pftv

On Sunday, April 17th, Scott and Molly will reprise our panel discussion on how we compiled our MysteryPeople Top 100 Crime and Suspense Novels at the first ever Pflugerville Book Pfestival, happening Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th at the Pflugerville Library. The festival is sponsored by KAZI Austin, 88.7 FM, and put together by Hopeton Hay, host of Kazi Book Review with Hopeton Hay. Thanks to Hopeton and KAZI for putting this festival together and bringing the MysteryPeople Top 100 list out into world.

Then on Monday, April 18th, at 1 PM, the Murder in the Afternoon Book Club will discuss The Professionalsby Owen Laukkanen, with a call-in from the author. The Hard Word Book Club, meeting Wednesday, April 27th, at 7 PM, also has a special guest calling in to the discussion – Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, will call in to discuss his novel As The Crow Flies

Finally, we’ll finish out the month with a visit from Melissa Ginsburg on Saturday, April 30th at 3 PM. Ginsburg’s Houston-set debut, Sunset City, follows a barista on the hunt for her best friend’s murderer. Sunset City is our April Pick of the Month, and we’re glad to celebrate a powerful new voice in Texas crime fiction.

Three Picks for April

Night Work by David C Taylor9780765374851

Taylor’s follow up to his Edgar nominated debut, Night Life, has New York policeman Michael Cassidy guarding Castro during his trip to New York, protecting Castro from Cuban nationalists, the mob, and our government.  Taylor’s latest is an involving historical thriller, rich in mood and character. Meet David C. Taylor, along with Stuart Woods, at our New York State of Crime discussion – tonight, April 11th, at 7 PMYou can find copies of Night Work on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9780316267946


Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham

Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is back with a new case. Not only does he have to find the killer of a mother and daughter that could be connected to several more brutal killings, but has to contend with a fame-hungry former student who calls himself “The Mind Hunter”. One of the most fully realized heroes in current crime fiction.You can find copies of Close Your Eyes on our shelves starting tomorrow, or order via bookpeople.com

9781250009968


Murder At The 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane

Con Lehane returns with a new character – Raymond Ambler, curator of his library’s mystery collection. Helping his cop friend solve a homicide that happened at his place of work, he travels the shadier side of the publishing world, rife with intrigue and suspects. Lehane gives a great citizen’s view of New York. You can find copies of Murder at the 42nd Street Library on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

MysteryPeople Q&A with Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods joins us at BookPeople Monday, April 11, at 7 PM, to speak and sign his latest Stone Barrington novel, Family Jewels. He will be joined by David C. Taylor, speaking and signing his second Michael Cassiddy novel, Night Work.

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

In Stuart Wood’s latest Stone Barrington novel, Family Jewels, the attorney/fixer gets involved with a lovely divorcée, a dead hooker, and a choker with a colorful history, all moving toward a suspenseful sting as the novel’s climax. We caught up with Mr. Woods to talk about the book, the stone, and to get some writing advice.

MysteryPeople Scott: The McGuffin of the title is a choker with a history tied to the Nazis. Is this part of your fiction based in fact?

Stuart Woods: Yes it is. They made a movie about the painting it’s seen in, The Woman In Gold. The painting found its way to the rightful owner, but the choker was still lost. That gave me a set up for the plot.

MPS: The book has many different aspects – mystery, thriller, and sting. Was there a particular part you enjoyed working with?

SW: I like giving the reader these variations. It allows me to play with things. I enjoyed the mystery element regarding the choker, because it was an actual unsolved mystery that allowed me to go wherever I want.

MPS: How did the creation of Stone Barrington come about?

SW: For New York Dead, I had this idea of a woman falling from a great height, whose night gown billows and acts as a parachute as she plummets into the dirt. I needed a witness for the event and came up with Stone.

MPS: What made him a character worth returning to?

SW: It was a while before I returned to him. Four or five books later, I wrote Dirt and needed a protagonist who had many of Stone’s qualities, so I decided to use a character I already had, fully formed.

MPS: As someone who has spent over three decades as a working author, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

SW: Write something. Some people forget to do that in their aspirations.


Stuart Woods joins us at BookPeople Monday, April 11, at 7 PM, to speak and sign his latest Stone Barrington novelFamily JewelsHe will be joined by David C. Taylor, speaking and signing his second novel, Night WorkYou can find copies of Woods’ latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. All BookPeople events are free and open to the public. 

MysteryPeople Q&A with David C. Taylor

David C. Taylor joins us at BookPeople Monday, April 11, at 7 PM, to speak and sign his second novel, Night Work. He joins Stuart Woods, speaking and signing his latest Stone Barrington novel, Family Jewels

Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery


MysteryPeople Scott: What was the biggest difference between working on your first book, Night Life, and the follow up?

David C. Taylor: In Night Life I was going back to prose for the first time in years, and I had to shed some of the habits one picks up writing for movies and TV where you describe the scene in only the most rudimentary way, because you know that the production designer, the director, the director of photography, and all the other team members who make a movie are going to decide what everything looks like. In prose you have to build your world from the ground up. But more than that, in Night Life everything was discovery. I had to find out for the first time who my characters were, how they behaved, what they thought, their weaknesses and strengths, how they saw the world and what that world looked like, and all of that was new to me, because I had never met these people before.

In Night Work I had become more comfortable with the latitude prose allows the writer. In movie writing you try to get into a scene as late as possible, and out of a scene as early as possible, and you are restricted to telling your story in about 110 pages. You want to be disciplined in prose, but you do have more room to continue a scene, to add information, to be somewhat more discursive. And I already knew things about Cassidy and Orso and Ribera and Dylan and about Cassidy’s family, so now I could build on what I knew and try to discover things about them that I did not yet know.

MPS: What drew you to use Castro’s visit to New York as a main part of the plot?

DCT: I was looking for another historical moment on the cusp of change. Night Life takes place just as Senator Joseph McCarthy was about to lose his power. In Night Work it was Castro’s first visit to New York in 1959 when he had not yet assumed the formal leadership of Cuba. He was invited, not by our government, but by an association of newspaper editors. The Cold War was at its height. The fear of Communism was very strong in the country, but Castro had not yet embraced Communism. His brother, Raoul, had, as had Che Guevara, but Fidel was still claiming to be a socialist. However, the political climate in America at that time was “if you’re not for us, you’re against us,” and there were forces in the country who had already decided that Castro was an enemy: the Mafia, because he was taking over their casinos in Cuba, American business interests, because he had nationalized the telephone company, and they thought that was the beginning of the end of U.S. business power in Cuba, and the U.S. Government which was wary of a communist nation 90 miles from Miami. The intersection of those disparate interests with the shared goal of getting rid of Castro seemed to me the perfect petri dish in which to hatch a plot.

“Living in New York was a rush. Everything moved fast. The noise was constant. You went to sleep listening to the traffic below like the sound of a river. You woke to sirens and the rasp of the brakes on a bus. The smell of the city was ever present. Even now, years later, when I go back to New York, I pick up its rhythms very quickly. I find that I am walking faster, ignoring traffic lights, slipping through the crowds without bumping people.”

MPS: Castro is one of those characters both iconic and enigmatic. How did you approach him as a writer?

DCT: As a writer, one hopes to take the icon and make him human. There was enough available research to understand him, at least a little bit, as he was then, a relatively young man, newly triumphant, and not yetbeaten down by the burden he took on, and not yet a symbol rather than a human being. There was a wonderful, true moment during his trip when he was at the Bronx Zoo and he reached into the tiger’s cage and patted the tiger on head. It is a moment like that that reveals the man. As to the enigma, I do not know if I successfully penetrated that, but you have to remember that the Castro of 1959 did not yet carry all the mythology that has accrued to him in the last fifty some years. He was not yet a historic figure. He was a young man on the cutting edge of history, living in his present, but we view him from a distance caused by all that has happened since then. I was trying to show him as he was before his history happened, and, of course, he was not the primary character in the story, so I was able to sketch him rather than give him in detail.

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Edgar Nominations Announced!

 

mwaThe nominations for the 2016 Edgar Awards were announced last week. This seemed to be the year where great minds think alike – many of the nominees made in on to our best of 2015 lists, put together by Scott and Molly. 

We want to congratulate old friends and new favorites, including Duane Swierczynski, nominated for his novel Canary, David C. Taylor, for Night LifeMichael Robotham, for Life or DeathMegan Abbott, for her short story “The Little Men,” Philip Kerr, for The Lady From Zagreb, Lou Berney, for The Long and Faraway GoneLori Rader Day, for Little Pretty Things, David Joy, for Where All Light Tends To GoGordon McAlpine, for The Woman with the Blue Pencil, Jessica Knoll, for Luckiest Girl Alive, and Adrian McKinty, for Gun Street Girl.

Congratulations all the others who made it. Best of luck to everyone and have a great time in New York.

Click here for the full list of Edgar Nominees.

Scott’s Top 10 Debuts of 2015

– List compiled by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Usually I only pick five novels in this category, but this was such a great year for new voices, the list needed to be expanded. I even had to cheat a little and allowed two to tie for the top.

978039917277997803991739671. Where All Light tends To Go by David Joy & Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

Both these authors proved there is still a lot of life in rural noir. Writing with the skill and emotion of seasoned pros, they bring the mountains of South Carolina and Georgia to vivid, poignant, and painful life with their tales of fate, family, and violence.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with David C. Taylor, Author of NIGHT LIFE


David C Taylor has been writing for film, TV, and theater since the seventies. He has written for classic shows like The Rockford Files and scripted several movies including the fun Tom Selleck caper flick, Lassiter (a personal favorite) and the rock comedy Get Crazy. His debut novel, Night Life, is a look into New York City of the Fifties. One almost hears the theme from the Burt Lancaster film Sweet Smell Of Success as we follow Michael Cassidy, a cop with a unique background, whose case puts him in the middle of the red scare and up against real life villain Roy Cohn. It is a book rich in story and character that never loses itself in the period and atmosphere it evokes. I recently talked talked to Mr. Taylor about his book and the period it tackled.


MysteryPeople: Michael Cassidy is an intriguing character who can move in many directions and has an interesting history. How did he come about?

David C. Taylor: It is difficult to know exactly how a character is born. If you have been watching people’s behavior and storing up incident for as long as I have, I think there are characters alive inside you, and when you begin to tap them, they grow naturally as you demand more and more of them. I did grow up with a father who worked in the New York theater world, so that was available to me. And I did not want to write a run of the mill character whose background would lead naturally to the police department. I wanted him to be a bit of an outsider in all the worlds he passes through.

MP: What drew you to Fifties New York as a setting?

DCT: New York in the Fifties was the New York I grew up in. It was a city that did not really change until the late Sixties, by which time I was in my twenties, and youth is the time in our lives when many memories become indelible. I wanted to write about that city, which I loved, without limiting the story by making it about a boy.

MP: You also use the world of theater, that you have experience with. What did you want to get across about the people in that life?

DCT: The Fifties was a glorious era for those who lived in the mainstream of American life, but not such a glorious era for those who were marginalized by color, or sexuality, or politics. Theater people, then and now, are tolerant of those on the margins, those who do not swim in the main stream, and that was the world Cassidy grew up in, the world that shaped him.

MP:The book has several real life characters like Roy Cohn and mobster Frank Costello. How do you approach historical characters in historical fiction?

DCT: I always thought that Roy Cohn was one of the great villains of America’s 20th Century. He was one of those people whose public stance was that he was trying to protect America from its enemies. He used to say that “God Bless America” was is favorite song, but he spent most of his life and energy trying to hijack the system for his own benefit. I have read a great deal about him, and I tried be true to who he was. Frank Costello is there in part because I wanted Tom Cassidy to have a criminal enterprise in his background, which is often part of the American story, and I wanted Cassidy to have access to that part of New York life that works in the shadows. I have, of course, created relationships between Costello and the Cassidy family that are fiction. The use of real life characters from the past allows the writer to examine the tendency of power to corrupt without the partisan passions that writing about contemporary characters ignites. And, you cannot libel a dead man.

MP:You’ve mainly wrote for film, television, and stage. What did you you enjoy the most about writing a novel?

DCT: Film, TV, and stage are collaborative media. The script is a blueprint to which others add insight in the hopes, sometimes realized, of improving the work. The theater belongs more to the writer than movies or TV, but novels allow the writer the luxury of succeeding or failing on his own merits. You write what you want, and though there is an editorial process that can have an influence on the finished product, the writer has the last word, which, after years of writing for movies and TV, I find very satisfying.

MP: After researching and writing about the McCarthy era, do you see it a the kind of history that can repeat itself?

DCT: It does repeat itself, and in some ways is repeating itself now. If the population can be scared enough, it tends to willingly give up some of its guaranteed liberties in hopes that the government will use its expanded power to protect its citizens. This was true when McCarthy was finding a Communist under every bed, and seems to be rising again when we are told that there is a terrorist around every corner. We are now facing intrusive surveillance by agencies like the NSA, and the growing militarization of our police forces.


You can find copies of Night Life on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.