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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Feb Fatales: a Full Crime Fiction Schedule this February

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

Glancing at our list of upcoming events, our newsletter, or BookPeople’s February events schedule, you may have noticed we’ve booked quite a few visitors to please the crime fiction crowd. Here’s the low-down on what’s happening when, all in one place.

On Friday, February 10th, at 7 PM, we welcome two MysteryPeople favorites! Fresh from his Edgar nomination for Where it Hurts, Reed Farrel Coleman joins us with his second Gus Murphy book, What It Breaksanother lyrical tale of Long Island misery, while Robert Knott, two volumes in to his transition from actor to Rennaissance Man, joins us with his fourth continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Hitch & Cole seriesRevelation

Wednesday, February 15th brings a 7 PM visit from K. J. Howe, director of Thrillerfest, and here to speak and sign her debut, The Freedom Brokera tale of kidnapping, privilege and intrigue. On Thursday, February 16th, at 7 PM (the very next evening) come by the store for a return visit from Scottish superstar Ian Rankin, here with his new Inspector Remus novelRather Be The DevilThen that same week, on Saturday, Feburary 18th, at 3 PM come by the store for Sarah Pinborough, presenting her latest work, Behind Her Eyes. We can’t tell you much about this one – we don’t want to ruin the insanely mind-blowing ending.

Then Tuesday, February 21st, at 7 PM, MysteryPeople welcomes a visit from Alexandra Burt, here with her latest crime novel and our MysteryPeople Pick of the Month, The Good Daughterset in Aurora, Texas. Burt’s previous crime novel, Remember Miahas been a national bestseller and we’re happy to say that The Good Daughter is just as compelling a tale! Two days later, on Thursday, February 23rd, at 7 PM, we welcome legendary Texas writer Joe R. Lansdale in conversation with rising Texas star Kathleen Kent. Lansdale joins us to speak and sign his new Hap & Leonard novel, Rusty Puppy, while Kent joins us with her latest work, The Dimefollowing a tough city cop’s trials and tribulations after she moves down to Dallas from the Big Apple.

The fun doesn’t end in February – on March 5th, come by the store to meet the King of Florida Capers, Tim Dorsey, here to speak and sign his latest, Clownfish Blues.  In April, we’re joined by MysteryPeople favorite Phillip Kerr, here to speak and sign his latest Bernie Gunther novel, Prussian BlueWe’ll announce plenty more March and April events coming up, so keep an eye on BookPeople’s events calendar, MysteryPeople’s upcoming events page, or sign up for our MysteryPeople newsletter to be the first to know!

Our February 16th Alibi: Noir at the Bar Round-up!

  • Post by Molly O.

We had one of our most enjoyable Noir at the Bar events to date this past February 16th, both in terms of great stories and good company. We started off the evening with a set of murder ballads from Austin legend Jesse Sublett, then moved from there to a reading from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery, quickly followed by a toast in honor of Scott’s birthday.

Our next reading came from George Wier, who read a selection from his new vigilante noir, Errant KnightNext up, screenwriter and sportswriter John Schulian read from A Better Goodbyehis debut novel, a hard-boiled tale of down-and-out boxers in backstreets LA.

Schulian was followed by horror and mystery superstar Joe R. Lansdale, reading from his new Hap & Leonard novel, Honky Tonk Samurai, his East Texas accent matching the comical violence on the page perfectly.

Jesse Sublett finished out the night with a reading from his true crime history of the Overton Gang, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime That Rocked the Capitol

noir at the bar group photo
FROM LEFT: Authors John Schulian, Joe R. Lansdale, and George Wier, bookseller Molly Odintz, author and Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery, and author and musician Jesse Sublett

Thanks to everyone who was able to attend this wonderful event! Our next Noir at the Bar will take place May 12, and will feature authors Paul Charles, Les Edgerton, and Jesse Sublett, with one more to be added to the lineup.

More details to come closer to the date of the next Noir at the Bar event! 

MysteryPeople Favorites In the Media

Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard Now Have Their Own TV Show!

We were happy to have one of our best Noir At The Bar events to date a couple weeks back. Joe R. Lansdale read from his latest book, Honky Tonk Samurai, featuring his East Texas ne’er-do-well buddies, Hap & Leonard, and we celebrated the release of a new collection of Hap & Leonard stories, hot off the press. His first book in the series, Savage Season, will be part of a six episode run with an impressive line-up of talent, including Christina Hendricks, Michael Kenneth Williams and James Purfoy. The first episode airs this Wednesday, March 2nd, at 9PM Central on the Sundance Channel. Here’s the teaser trailer, below!

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Photo courtesy of Sundance

Watch the Hap & Leonard Trailer

Congratulations to our friend, Joe, and if a new novel and a TV show aren’t enough to satisfy your need to read about the exploits of the boys, a collection of all the short stories and novellas, aptly titled Hap & Leonard, has just been released.


Why All the Mystery Novels with Girl in the Title? Megan Abbott and Sarah Weinman Explain the Phenomena to NPR

Recently, NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed two of our favorite figures in the mystery world: author and literary critic Megan Abbott,  and editor and author Sarah Weinman. In the interview, they discuss the role of women in crime fiction as readers, writers, and characters, and work to solve the mystery of all those thrillers with “girl” in the title. It is a fascinating talk – you can read the highlights, or listen to the full discussion. You’ll also find a list of recommended recent reads from Abbott and Weinman.

Click Here for Interview Highlights or to Listen to the Full Interview

Sarah Weinman is the editor of the two volume Library of America collection, Women Crime Writers Of The 40s and 50s, a must for crime fiction fans. Volumes are available together or individually. The collection comes with a brilliant set of essays on each classic work, which you can find online. Look for Megan Abbott’s latest novel, You Will Know Me, out this summer.

Get to Know a Series: Joe R. Lansdale and the Origins of Hap and Leonard

Joe R. Lansdale will be reading from his latest and signing selections from his substantial oevre at MysteryPeople’s upcoming Noir at the Bar event. Noir at the Bar meets at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field and gets started at 7 PM. Lansdale’s latest novel, Honky Tonk Samuraiis our MysteryPeople pick of the month for February. In honor of this momentous occasion, here’s a look back at the origins of Hap and Leonard…

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Joe Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard series is going strong and only getting stronger. Not only is there a new novel, Honky Tonk Samurai, there will soon be a collection of the short stories and novellas, a TV show debuting on the Sundance Channel March 2nd, and even a graphic novel. The lethal East Texas ex-hippie Hap and his even more formidable gay, black, Republican friend and partner-in-crime Leonard have entertained readers for a quarter of a century. The Lone Ranger & Tonto, Batman & Robin, and Wyatt Earp & Doc Holiday have nothing on them.

“The wildness and menacing nature of Lansdale’s villains plays to the core theme of the books: friendship. Hap and Leonard have a bond that neither danger nor darkness can break. It transcends race, politics, and sexuality. One reason the books have continued is that they tap into the reader’s wish for a friendship that can endure anything, especially time.”

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Joe R. Lansdale

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Honky Tonk Samurai heralds the return of Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard and all their friends. The redneck liberal and his gay, black, Republican buddy are now private eyes with a case involving used cars, prostitutes, bikers, and a clan of inbred psycho-assassins.

Joe will be reading from his latest and signing his substantial oeuvre at our Noir At The Bar on February 16th. Noir at the Bar meets at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field and starts at 7 PM. Joe R. Lansdale will be joined by authors George Wier, Jesse Sublett, and John Schulian.  Joe was kind enough to take a few questions from us.

MysteryPeople Scott: Other than the upcoming show on Sundance, what made you think this was a good time to return to Hap & Leonard?

Joe R. Lansdale: Hap and Leonard have been dormant for four years and it was time. The show encouraged the move, but was itching to do it anyway. Tachyon Press also has a short story and novella collection coming out titled Hap and Leonard. A graphic novel of Savage Season is in the works.

MPS: This book felt like old home week, practically every character we’ve gotten to know through the series makes and an appearance and you even pull characters from your other books, like Booger. What prompted you to catch up with everybody?

JRL: I felt since it had been awhile it was time to get the gang together. A kind of reunion novel. I wanted to define some of the characters in the Hap and Leonard universe and see how they interacted.

MPS: Like any good series that has been around awhile, you’re starting to deal with Hap and Leonard’s mortality. What have you enjoyed exploring about that?

JRL: It’s merely what we all think about as we age, but frankly that has always been a theme. I don’t age my characters as fast as I age. Leaving them about 50, but mortality is something I’ve been aware since a young age. It’s awareness is part of my drive.

MPS: This book, especially near the end when Hap and Leonard round up their allies that had a western feel to it. That’s been a genre you’ve be drawing from or down right diving into. What is it about that genre that you like to work with as a writer?

JRL: I grew up with western movies and tales about the old west, but read few westerns until I was in my twenties. I took to them like a duck to water. I think my finest two books are Westerns. The Thicket and Paradise Sky.

MPS: After all these years, what makes Hap and Leonard always worth coming back to?

JRL: I think of them as holidays, but they are also my favorites of all the characters I’ve created. They are so much me and my background, Hap in particular.

You can find copies of Honky Tonk Samurai on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Come by Opal Divine’s at Penn Field on Tuesday, February 16th for an evening of booze, books, murder ballads from Jesse Sublett, and readings from Joe R. Lansdale, John Schulian, George Wier, and Jesse Sublett. The event starts at 7 PM. 

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: HONKY TONK SAMURAI by Joe R. Lansdale

 

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  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

When Joe Lansdale writes a Hap and Leonard novel, you know you’re in for a good time. The misadventures of the red neck liberal and his gay black Republican partner-in-crime supply a lot of laughs and action. With Honky Tonk Samurai, the boys are back and joined by all their rowdy friends.

By now in the series, Hap and Leonard are officially private eyes. Hap’s girlfriend, Brett, has bought the agency from their friend, Marvin Hanson, who is now chief of police. Their first case is for a salty old woman who wants to find her granddaughter. The clues quickly lead to a used car/prostitution/extortion ring. when the bad guys call on an inbred family of psycho-assassins to do their dirty work, the boys put out the call, rounding up their friends like good ol’ boy PI Jim Bob Luke, reporter Cason, the beautiful and highly skilled hitwoman Vanilla Ride, and Cason’s sociopath friend Booger, like the magnificent seven with fewer and weirder members.

For the fans of the series, it is like getting together with an old friend, especially the one that just got out of prison.

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