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

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Shotgun Blast from the Past: QUARRY by Max Allan Collins

  • Post by Scott Montgomery

Max Allan Collins’ hitman Quarry is a character who is more popular now than he has been since his debut over forty years ago. A few decades after the series ended and later developed a cult following, Hard Case Crime asked him to do one more book, The Last Quarry. That lead to at least five more books, a film, and a Cinemax series to appear in the fall. This has urged Hard Case Crime to bring the five original books back into print, starting with the first, simply titled Quarry.

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MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: EASY DEATH

easy death

Hard Case Crime gives us a fun hard boiled entry for the holidays with Daniel Boyd’s Easy Death. Set in 1951, the book is written in the style from that era. It feels like you picked it off the spinner rack at a drug store instead the shelf of a modern bookstore. However, he weaves in a modern sensibility to keep today’s reader engaged.

The set-up is simple.  Two World War Two vets, Eddie and Walter, are ordered by the local crime boss to rob an armored car the week before Christmas in the middle of a blizzard. They get the money, but the crime and getaway are far from perfectly executed. With cops, criminals, and even a park ranger after Eddie,Walter, and the loot, the ensuing results are endlessly entertaining.

Boyd has definitely read his share of Gold Medal releases, famed in the fifties for their pulp paperbacks. There’s plenty of quality tough guy dialogue that never becomes anachronistic. It is tightly written, jumping back and forth with time and character (reminiscent of Lionel White’s Clean Break, later adapted into Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing) yet easy to follow. The plot naturally careens at times, with a pace that keeps it in check, especially when the threads rush into one another.

That said, Boyd refuses to make this a simple exercises in copying old influences. Though these guys talk tough and some actually are, he makes them utterly human. As the story progresses so does the humor as each character finds themselves in over their head. Instead of yielding to existential oblivion, each carries a reckless hope that, in the end, gets a few of them through. In short, Easy Death is It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with a lot more gunfire. There’s even a subtle self awareness, mainly with the use of Christmas songs.

Daniel Boyd and Easy Death are a perfect fit in Hard Case Crime. It is Robert Mitchum in black and white filtered through post-modern Tarantino (someone even loses an ear) without being overly self aware. This is a voice I look forward to hearing more from.


Copies of Easy Death are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

Mystery People Review: BRAINQUAKE, by Samuel Fuller

brainquake

Review by Scott

Writer-director Samuel Fuller was a filmmaker from the fifties and sixties whose work still seems fresh, modern, and bold. His grab-you-by-the-throat intensity of style influenced the likes of Goddard, Scorsese, and Tarantino. What some may not know is that he wrote novels from the 1930s up until the the time of his death in 1997. Hard Case Crime gives us a look into this side of his talent by bringing us Brainquake, a Fuller novel that has just been published in the US and in English for the first time.

Fuller’s belief, “If the first scene doesn’t give you a hard-on then throw the goddamn thing away,” is applied to the first line of the novel: “Sixty seconds before the baby shot its father, leaves fell lazily in Central Park.” The murdered father is a mobster. Before the baby and mother are killed, Paul Pope, underworld bagman, saves them. Paul suffers from mental seizures which he refers to as “brainquakes,” where his mind spins into pink tinted images accompanied by piercing flute music. It is easy to picture Fuller’s avant garde camera cut loose during these passages. Paul falls for the mob widow, who he refers to as “ivory face”, setting up a series of events that ripple through the New York crime syndicate that employs him. The mob puts Father Flannigan, a contract killer who dresses like a priest and crucifies his targets, on to Paul as Flannigan’s next target.

Brainquake has the feel of a Sam Fuller film. The detailed life of a bagman is reminiscent of the attention brought to the lifestyle of the pickpocket Richard Widmark played in Pick Up On South Street. It portrays New York City with gritty realism mixed with pulp stylization. The dialogue blasts out  like gunshots and his tabloid inspired prose has the punchy feel of his editing. The emotions are raw and heightened. Everything is heightened, yet retains the truth in its main characters.

Brainquake is full on Fuller. Those who have seen his interviews can hear his boisterous cigar stained voice in the writing. It is uncompromising, wild, tough, and goes right at you, giving a fresh perspective on a great, often under appreciated artist, while delivering a slam-bang read.


Copies of Brainquake are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

3 Picks for May

 

 

The Three by Sarah Lotz

There’s been a lot of buzz around this story of three children who survive four simultaneous plane crashes. Sarah Lotz takes a unique approach to the suspense thriller, looking at religion, media, and fear in the modern world. This could be one of the most talked about books of the summer.

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

The wait for a Greg Iles book is over. His Penn Cage character is now town mayor, but when a local nurse is murdered and his father becomes a suspect, Cage becomes determined to prove his father’s innocence. Penn’s quest for the truth sends him deep into his father’s past, where a sexually charged secret lies waiting to tear their family apart. A comeback for the king of the Southern-set thriller.

Borderline by Lawrence Block

Our friends at Hard Case Crime have unearthed another Block tale. This one deals with the collision of several scheming and desperate characters in a sleazy town between El Paso and Juárez. The book also contains some short stories that appeared in classic magazines like Manhunt. Another work from one of our most acclaimed and highly decorated living mystery writers.

MysteryPeople Review: SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT by Max Allan Collins

Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins

Review by Chris Mattix

If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for comic books. I grew up reading comics and, as such, they hold a very special place in my heart. When powerhouse publisher Hard Case Crime sent me a copy of the latest Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, Target Lancer novel I was pretty stoked, and then I read the description. Hot damn! This book is about comics!

Seduction of the Innocent is a Private Eye novel set during the 1950s witch hunt aimed at comic books and their questionable content. That’s right folks, those floppy little books most people think are just for kids were at one point considered a very real threat to the safety of America’s youth. Collins novel, while borrowing from the actual events of that time, is a fictionalized version–so don’t go quoting it as fact. The novel’s protagonist, Jack Starr, works as an investigator for Starr Syndication, a company who syndicates comic strips to newspapers. When a pop-psychologist is found dead after accusing Starr’s company of warping young minds, Jack finds himself in the midst of a crisis where everyone seems guilty and no one cares about the departed doctor.

Seduction of the Innocent is classic Collins. It’s punchy, funny, and fast-paced. It’s the kind of book you can’t help but finish in one sitting, and that’s what makes it so satisfying. Collins really hits the pulpy nail on the head. His characters are perfectly drawn, the violence is outlandish and nail biting, and the atmosphere is spot-on. The story takes place in New York City and Collins goes to great lengths to transport his readers there; using cross streets, landmarks, and cafes, Collins does the equivalent of dragging that little dude from the side of google maps and drops you right into the streets of old New York.

If you are a fan of comic books, PI stories, or just want a fun little mystery to spend an afternoon with, then you need to grab a copy of Seduction of the Innocent. It takes off like a rocket from the very first page and will having you grinning ear-to-ear until its clever conclusion. I really can’t say enough good things about Collins’ work here (and everywhere else for that matter). Get this book, grab an ice-cold coke (preferably in a bottle), and enjoy the hell out of Seduction of the Innocent.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Ariel S. Winter

~post & Q&A by Chris M.

One of the perks of working for a store like BookPeople (aside from tons and tons of free books) is getting the opportunity to talk to the authors we love about their work. Recently I was given the honor of interviewing Ariel S. Winter, the author of one of 2012’s best mystery novels, The Twenty-Year Death. Keep reading to see what he had to say about his writing process, crime fiction, and his future plans.


MYSTERYPEOPLE: I’m sure people have been asking you this constantly, but what made you decide to write The Twenty-Year Death in the style of three master crime writers?

AW: The seed that became The Twenty-Year Death started as a novella in a larger novel. In that novel, the frame narrative was about an introspective reader reading through stacks of books. As he read, the book he was reading was presented in full, and the first of those books I wrote was Malniveau Prison a Georges Simenon pastiche. So in the context of that book, it was supposed to be as if the main character was actually reading Simenon. Once I abandoned that book, I wanted to do something with Malniveau Prison, so I started by expanding it into a full length book on its own. But at the same time, I began to ask myself what a mystery series would look like if a character other than the detective travelled from book to book. There are many ways to approach that idea, but since I had a Simenon on hand, I followed through with the thought, what would happen if one of Simenon’s characters wound up in a Chandler novel? Then in a Thompson novel?

MP: You do such an admirable job emulating the masters, was there one style that you enjoyed writing over the others?

AW: The challenge of writing in another author’s voice while still making it your own is fun regardless of which author you’re working on, so I wouldn’t say I preferred one to another. Chandler was probably the most intimidating.

MP: I’ll be honest, Shem is kind of an asshole throughout the book, but in the end I found myself rooting for him. Do you think he truly got what he deserved, or did he get off easy?

AW: He definitely didn’t get off easy. No matter how boorish, alcoholic, and womanizing you are, nobody really deserves what Shem goes through at the end. I feel sorry for him, but I know I’m in the minority. He had flaws that he allowed to control him, and they dragged him down emotionally, personally, and professionally. Nowadays, he would have ended up on a mood stabilizer and so much of his pain would have been avoided.

MP: The novel is quite broad in scope; did you have a difficult time getting started?

AW: It helped that I had a third of it written before I decided on the final structure. When you have a full book sitting there, it takes some of the pressure off, because, if this new plan falls through (as the first one did), you still have this good book sitting there (like the first time). Once I did decide on writing the second two books, I remember knowing it was ambitious, but never doubting I could do it. My biggest concern was whether or not the through characters’ story would feel like its own book that justified the whole conceit. I still worry about that sometimes.

MP: The Twenty-Year Death is out via Hard Case Crime. How does it feel to be working with such a classic publisher?

AW: When I was writing the book, I knew it should be a Hard Case book. I told my agent right up front that Hard Case was the place for it. No one else could have edited it as well as Charles Ardai, and no one else could have gotten it the attention it has received. Stephen King blurb? I wouldn’t have that somewhere else. Hard Case has done their all, and I couldn’t be happier.

MP: This might seem like an obvious question, but I have to ask; what’s your next move as a writer?

AW: I’m rewriting an older novel about a family coming together for the eldest daughter’s engagement party only six weeks after the parents have announced their divorce. It isn’t a mystery, but that doesn’t mean I’m done writing mysteries. It just means a mystery isn’t the next thing I’ll be doing. As you may know, I also released a children’s picture book this year called One of a Kind, and I have several other picture book scripts that I’m hoping to sell in the near future as well.

Many thanks to Ariel S. Winter and his publicist for taking the time to do this interview. Be sure to grab a copy of The Twenty-Year Death at Book People!