- 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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2015 has been an eclectic year for crime novels. Below, you’ll find historical fiction, reissues, domestic suspense, sophisticated city thrillers, and coincidentally, several books detailing the nightmarish and inescapable legacy of high school. Whether you are looking for dark and dense or light and playful, there’s a book on this list guaranteed to tickle your fancy.
1. In a Lonely Place by Dorothy Hughes
Hughes’ tale of an homme fatale turns the sexualized imagery of crime novels on its head, and like much of the genre, once again reminds us how to find the eroticism in death, and the violence in sex. In a Lonely Place, after decades out of print, is now available as part of the Library of America’s collection Women Crime Writers of the 40s & 50s.
2. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
In Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh takes us on the tour of small town life in mid-century America. Eileen, a repressed juvenile prison administrator stuck taking care of her drunk father in their filthy house, is fearful and disgusted by virtually every bodily function or urge. When a glamorous new coworker joins the prison staff as the new juvenile therapist, the two form an intense bond, liberating each from the confines of their historical context.
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- Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
If there was a common thread through the best books of 2015, it was ambition. Authors stretched themselves by taking on large subjects or writing something much different, or taking their series characters down a different path. All of these authors raised the bar for themselves and leaped over it.
1. Hollow Man by Mark Pryor
Pryor’s smart use of point of view puts us in the head of Dominic – Austin prosecutor, musician, and sociopath – who gets involved with a robbery and to continue to tap into his darker nature when things go bad. One of the freshest and best neo-noirs to come down the pike.
2. The Cartel by Don Winslow
Winslow’s sequel to The Power Of The Dog reignites the blood feud between DEA agent Art Keller and cartel head Adán Barrera in epic fashion to show the disastrous effect of the war on drugs in Mexico. A book that both enrages and entertains.Read More »
On September 30th, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s second floor, we will be hosting Mark Pryor, author of the popular Hugo Marston series and, more recently, the standalone novel Hollow Man, our September Pick Of The Month. Hollow Man differs greatly from his Paris-set Hugo Marston series, following an Austin prosecutor and musician who is also a sociopath. Here is a quick discussion we had with Mark about writing such a different book than we’re used to from him.
MysteryPeople Scott: Hollow Man is completely different from the Hugo books. Were you deliberately wanting to write something different and darker or simply following an idea that popped into your head?
Mark Pryor: I would say the latter, except that it didn’t so much “pop” as germinate and gestate. Elements of the story had been rolling around in my head for a couple of years but it wasn’t until I was told about a real-life Ambrosio Silva-type character that the whole novel began to take shape. In fact, originally, the girl in the green dress was to be the protagonist, not Dominic. I suppose in some ways she remained the driving force but unlike most of my books, this one was very much a slow cook.
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This September’s Pick Of The Month is Hollow Man by Mark Pryor. The book uses his background as a prosecutor to draw a portrait of a sociopath defense attorney. He drew inspiration for his novel from his short story “A Change of Clothes,” posted on A Twist Of Noir back in 2009. You can find copies of Hollow Man on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Pryor joins us at BookPeople on Wednesday, September 30, to speak and sign his latest.
“She was the first one in days, maybe weeks, who didn’t stink. Who didn’t shuffle or cower, or prowl through the metal door like an angry dog.
She was the first one in days, weeks, who made me stand up straight and pay attention to the paperwork.
One by one, the deputy brought them out, made them stand on the black line in front of the judge, and two feet to my right. The deputy would give me a nod if they were compliant, raise an eyebrow if he expected a fight. Very few of them fight.
One by one, the judge lets them plead guilty, asking me, the state’s prosecutor, to detail the plea agreement. This one gets probation, this one gets jail. And this one, the stinking fat man who likes little kids, he gets ten years in prison and then ten years of probation. Yeah, I’m looking at you, fat man, what the fuck are you gonna do about it?
But when the deputy brought her out, he just looked at me, our secret code abandoned. Hardly surprising, it’s not like we had a signal for hot chicks. Never needed one…”
Read the rest of the story.
We chose Mark Pryor’s new stand-alone, Hollow Man, for our September Pick Of The Month. Hollow Man is a different kettle of fish from his Paris-based Hugo Marston series – in his latest, Pryor follows a sociopath through a heist gone wrong in Austin. Mark’s books may be entertaining, but what’s even more entertaining? This trailer featuring his children as they fall under the spell of his novels! Here he shows the effect such a dark book could (emphasis on could) have on his family.
Mark Pryor joins us to speak and sign his latest on Wednesday, September 30, at 7 PM. You can find copies of Hollow Man on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
– Post by MysteryPeople Scott
“So right there, at the edge of a moonlit field in the wrong part of town, with a gun for comfort and a mystery unfolding before me, my involvement had ceased to be a choice.”
That line from Mark Pryor’s standalone, Hollow Man, convinced me he can write noir. He goes down a mean street that even his series hero, Hugo Marston, would take the long way round. Pryor’s most recent is one of the freshest and most chilling noirs since Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.
The book is narrated by Dominic, an English transplant in Austin, working as a prosecutor in Austin during the day, spending his nights as a singer-songwriter in the local clubs. He is also a sociopath. He tells us not to worry, he rarely acts on his impulses. We then see what happens when he does.
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