If you like Tana French…

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

French has a reputation across the world for designing cases that bring her protagonists’ darkest desires into play, and creating murder victims that psychologically mirror (and sometimes physically, as in The Likeness) the detectives working on the case. Her latest, The Trespasser, features a model-thin corpse, a bunch of good ole’ boy detectives, and Antoinette Conway, odd woman out at the police station, driven to solve the case by the mocking challenges of her peers, plus the usual Tana French resonance between the case and Conway’s past. Here are three stories that exploit unstable identities, distorted reflections, and the weight of the past to comment upon the anxieties of our times.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz9781451686630

In Lisa Lutz’s latest, The Passenger, two women on the run meet in a bar in Austin, form an alliance, and switch identities, hoping to outwit their pursuers. Lutz has created a fascinating meditation on the changeable nature of identity – but her slow reveals and tense travel sequences keep The Passenger moving at highway speed. You can find copies of The Passenger on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9780143108573Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

Flynn Berry’s debut, Under the Harrow, takes the reader to a remote village, where city girl Nora has just arrived to visit her sister Rachel, only to find the sister and her guard dog murdered. An attack by a slasher marred her sister’s teenage years, and police have in mind a recently released convict for both crimes, yet Nora suspects the village, and its secrets, may have more to do with Rachel’s death. Like Tana French, Flynn Berry weaves past and present together for their themes – not their coincidences. You can find copies of Under the Harrow on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9780765336378Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

In Rachel Howzell Hall’s L.A.-set debut, Land of Shadows, Eloise “Lou” Martin is a homicide detective with a porsche, but she won’t let herself forget that she comes from a poor neighborhood in South Central La and her porsche showed up as a “sorry, baby” gift from her cheating, game-designer husband. When a cheerleader is found murdered at a controversial construction site, real estate moguls clash with neighborhood leaders as the investigation stalls construction. Martin is out to get justice for the young woman, whose murder reminds her of her sister’s disappearance 20 years before, and she’s out to get a little justice for the neighborhood too. Personal vengeance mixes with housing policy to create a complex, multifaceted tale of murder, investigation and consequences. You can find copies of Land of Shadows on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like James Lee Burke…

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery


James Lee Burke
has helped draw general fiction fans over to the genre with his rich literary prose and complex heroes like Dave Robicheaux. If you’re shopping for a fan who has read everything of his or are a fan yourself, here are books by three authors who share Burke’s style or approach to writing.

bayou trilogyThe Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell

Woodrell has a wonderful sense of place and prose as these three collected novels featuring Rene Shade, a police detective in a corrupt bayou parish with family that have a foot on the other side of the law. Poetic writing with vivid spots of sudden violence. You can find copies of The Bayou Trilogy on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9781453247136Coyote Wind by Peter Bowen

Montana cattle inspector, sometime deputy, part Metise Indian, and champion fiddle player Gabriel DuPre in a character with an indelible voice. In his first appearance has him looking into discovered wreckage of a thirty year old plane crash that holds a headless and handless corpse that leads to his own family secrets. A great look at culture on the fringes. You can find copies of Coyote Wind on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

last good kissThe Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

As far as I’m concerned the greatest private eye novel there is. Vietnam veteran, bartender, and sometime detective C.W. Shugrue travels with modern west with an alcoholic writer in search of a missing daughter and possibly a vanishing America. What Hunter S. Thompson did in journalism and Pekinpah did in film, Crumley did in crime fiction.You can find copies of The Last Good Kiss on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you liked THE CARTEL, by Don Winslow…

  • Recommendations from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

the cartelOne of the biggest books this year was Don Winslow’s The Cartel, a dark, violent, yet human look at the drug war and its effect on Mexico. For more crime fiction covering Mexico, past and present, I suggest these books.


9780615916545Federales by Chris Irvin

This novella about a former Mexican agent protecting a mayor who has taken on the cartels is the solemn and moving chamber piece to The Cartel‘s symphony. Both use the actual politician, Maria Gorriesta Santos, as a template for a major character. You can find copies of Federales on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


9781489561541Quick by Billy Kring

If The Cartel didn’t give you enough grim violence on the border this one will. The Quick has one of the scariest villains I’ve read in the past few years and I read a lot of books with scary dudes. You can find copies of Quick on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


9780805091298The Return by Michael Gruber

When a book editor gets a mysterious diagnosis, he fills a van full of guns, grabs his loose canon buddy from Vietnam, and heads south of the border to settle some scores. A rich prose style and engaging characters give us a look at life and death in Old Mexico. You can find copies of The Return on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like John le Carré…

  • Recommendations from bookseller and mystery blogger Molly Odintz

I’ve always enjoyed tales of espionage, whether they be the glamorous exploits of international men of mystery, the paranoid ramblings of an everyman caught as a pawn between spies, or the delicate and devastating critiques of washed-up bureaucrats tired of destroying nations from their armchairs.

The latter two categories, in particular, drew me to the work of John le Carré. Along with Graham Greene, in such classic works as The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana, le Carré’s clear analysis of the Cold War, bitter condemnation of corrupt and uncaring nations, and compassionate insight into its unwilling victims have hugely influenced portrayals of the Cold War since the early 1960s.

Le Carré’s work since the fall of the Berlin Wall has shifted to a critique of unregulated capitalism and its devastating environmental and health effects. Meanwhile,  declassified documents on both sides of the pond and access to Soviet sources have led to a flowering of historical scholarship covering topics which, at the start of le Carré’s time, found a home only fiction. Below, you’ll find recommendations (both fiction and non-fiction) for the fan of le Carré’s work. 
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If you like Gillian Flynn…

– Recommendations from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
9781940610382Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott
This book follows the crimes and misdemeanors of a mother and daughter, centered around when mom talks her thirteen year old in taking a murder rap for her. This debut does for mother-daughter relationships what Gone Girl did for marriage. You can find copies of Concrete Angel on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

9780425278406Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

With the help of her psychiatrist, a woman tries to find her missing child, even though she has no proof or memory of when her child was taken. Burt mixes vivid characters, a strong sense of pace, and the perfect amount of biting satire to make this a one of a kind. You can find signed copies of Remember Mia on our shelves and via bookpeople.com
The roots of Flynn and her contemporaries. This book gives us eight authors who truly deserve their due in helping create the domestic suspense sub genre. An entertaining eye-opener. Accompanying essays online allow the crime writing enthusiast to explore the history and themes of suspense writing through the decades. You can find copies of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s: A Library of America Boxed Set on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

If you like Ross Macdonald…

We have our eyes on Ross Macdonald’s 100th birthday, this upcoming December 13th. If you are a fan of his or holiday shopping for someone who is, here are three books that might entertain a Macdonald fan.


9781440553974Hose Monkey by Reed Farrel Coleman

When it comes to exploring human sin and emotion like Macdonald, no one comes closer than Reed Farrel Coleman. In this look at at two marginalized men, an ex-cop and the detective that shut down his career, Coleman takes a murder mystery into the darkness of the human heart and provides a look at post- 9-11 New York life with grit and poetry. You can find copies of Hose Monkey on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 


9780312938994A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Grafton takes Macdonald’s mantel of looking at California society and its vivid characters from top to bottom. She even uses the same fictional name, Santa Teresa, as her fictional stand in for Santa Barbara where her PI, Kinsey Malone, operates. You can find copies of A is for Alibi on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


9781400033591Black Maps by Peter Spiegelman

While he has a more upfront back story, John March shares the lonely knight errant quality of Lew Archer. His Wall Street stomping ground also shows the relationship between place and perpetrator that Macdonald often cited. You can find copies of Black Maps on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

If you like Megan Abbott…

  • Post by Molly Odintz

Megan Abbott is one of the most versatile and creative crime novelists writing today. Her first four novels, Die a Little, The Song is You, Queenpin and Bury Me Deep use historical settings and noir style to explore female narratives – in particular, the tension between female community and competition.

Her next three novels continue to explore these themes in a modern setting with young adult characters. The End of Everything, Dare Me and The Fever all tackle the the murky waters of adolescence, with characters trapped in the space between victim, perpetrator and witness. Abbott’s novels are mature, daring, intelligent and unique. If you love her work as much as we do, here are a few recommendations we think you’ll enjoy!

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MysteryPeople Review: CONCRETE ANGEL by Patricia Abbott

concrete angels

Many of us in the crime fiction community have been looking forward to a novel from Patricia Abbott. Her short work has appeared in anthologies and various short story sites for the past several years. It reads like a throwback to the domestic suspense writers of the fifties like Margaret Millar but with a modern psychology. She proves to be able to apply this in a long format with her debut novel, Concrete Angel.

Abbott kicks things off with the line, “When I was twelve, my mother shot a soda-pop salesman she’d known less than eight hours…”

The first four chapters take place during the mid-Seventies. Eve convinces her young daughter, Christine, to take the rap for the murder of a soda-pop salesman, and the two convince the law and others of their story. We then go back to Eve’s life, starting with her upbringing by two simple Christian parents, who were somewhat removed. Eve exhibits manic behavior but remains undiagnosed. She is bent on hoarding, and that soon leads to stealing. We see how she meets Christine’s father, a well-to-do printing magnate; we see their marriage, Christine’s birth, and the crime that leads to their divorce. After separating from her husband, Eve turns to new economic strategies, bringing men home for one-night stands and then cleaning out their wallets in the morning.

The book is told from Christine’s point of view. This includes events that occur before she is born, where Abbott shows her agility with voice. Christine describes events through a prism, relating what little she knows about her mother. It allows us to follow Eve, a character most of us would have trouble being around for ten minutes in real life. It also takes us into the relationship of the two, hinged on a daughter’s desire for attention from a mother who can rarely take the spotlight away from herself. A relationship that comes to a head when Eve has another child and becomes involved with a potentially dangerous man.

The writing always keeps us involved. We’re grabbed with the inciting incident, then given the history that lead to it and how it created our narrator. Christine is a believable character forged by unbelievable circumstances, confused by her situation and struggling to discover herself and find love, but smart enough to handle the most trying of circumstances. Like James M. Cain, Abbott shows how a crime at first bonds its perpetrators. then corrodes that union.

Concrete Angel is the most dynamic mother-daughter relationship since Mildred Pierce. It is told with a style and point of view rarely seen in a debut. Patricia Abbott confirms what many of us already knew about her talent. Here’s hoping many more will find out soon.

You can find copies of Concrete Angel on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

If you like Craig Johnson…

Craig Johnson is one of our closest friends. For close to ten years, he’s given us mysteries full of humor, humanity, and western flavor with his Wyoming lawman Sheriff Walt Longmire. While you’re waiting for the next for the next book, here are three other writers in the same vein you might enjoy.


death along the spirit road1. Death Along The Spirit Road by C.M. Wendelboe

FBI agent Manny Tanno is forced to go back to the Lakota Reservation where he grew up to look into a murder after his brother is named prime suspect. To make things worse, his high school rival has become the tribal police chief. Much like Craig, Wendelboe gives his American Indian characters humor and humanity.


a killing at cotton hill2. A Killing At Cotton Hill by Terry Shames

Retired chief of police, Samuel Craddock, is brought back onto service in his Central Texas town when a woman he grew up with is murdered. A great look at aging and community.

 


windigo island3. Windigo Island by William Kent Kruger

The latest Cork O’Connor novel has the former Michigan sheriff turned PI looking for a missing Ojibwa girl from the Bad Bluff reservation tied to a legendary creature. Craig and Kent are often compared to each other due to their rich characters and feel for setting.


Also, you still have time to sign up for Craig’s newsletter and get his latest Walt holiday story sent to you on Christmas Eve. Here’s the link….

If you like Gillian Flynn…

Gillian Flynn’s psychological thrillers have made her one of the most popular writers in recent years, proving there can be a wide audience for dark subject matter and characters that don’t have to be “likable.” If you are a fan of Gone Girl and her other books, here are some other authors that share her sensibilities.


end of everything1. The End Of Everything by Megan Abbott

When a girl goes missing in an Eighties Detroit suburb, her friend tries to find out what happened and, in the process, uncovers the secrets of a community. Abbott has a brilliant understanding of how emotion informs mood and mines both brilliantly, finding a way to be both realistic and dreamlike.

after im gone2. After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

One of the best books of 2014. When a cold case detective looks into the murder of of a young woman, he also has to look into the ten-year-old disappearance of the man who once kept her as his mistress. The plot is revealed through the pasts of the wife, daughters, and victim he left behind. Lippman uses the mystery to look at family, faith, class, and feminism on very human terms.

the chill3. The Chill by Ross Macdonald

When it comes to family dysfunction in crime fiction, Ross Macdonald set the standard. In one of his best known titles, his PI Lew Archer’s search for a missing wife leads to sordid past histories, a few bodies, and a true look at human sin. This classic still carries one of the most disturbing reveals fifty years after it was published.

 


Copies of the above listed books can be found on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.