Celebrate International Crime Fiction Month with MysteryPeople!

  • Post by Molly

June is International Crime Fiction Month, brought into being by some of our favorite publishers to celebrate their incredible international fiction offerings. SoHo Press, Europa Editions, Melville House, and Akashic each have their own imprint for world crime lit, and their catalogs are a great place to start when seeking a murderous armchair vacation. SoHo is in the midst of celebrating their 25th anniversary, so check out our in-store display for some of our favorites from their international crime fiction catalogue. You can also find the first in many of SoHo’s series available for 9.99 as part of their “Passport to Crime Fiction” imprint, so now’s the time to try out some new series!

How does MysteryPeople plan to honor the diverse array of crime fiction from around the world and available at our fingertips? By geeking out about our favorite world crime fiction all month long!

All three MysteryPeople book clubs will discuss novels from international crime writers in June. The 7% Solution Book Club brings in the new month with their discussion of the classic Scandinavian procedural The Laughing Policemanby Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, on Monday, June 6th, at 7 PM. The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club delves into Heda Margolius-Kovàly’s lyrical Eastern Bloc murder mystery, Innocence; or, Murder on Fleet Street, on Monday, June 20th, at 1 PM. The Hard Word Book Club finishes out the month with an exploration of Piergiorgio Pulixi’s Italian crime fiction masterpiece, Night of the Pantherson Wednesday, June 29th, at 7 PM. As always, book club picks are 10% off in-store!

Hopeton Hay Mark Pryor Meg Gardiner jpg
From left: Hopeton Hay, Mark Pryor and Janice Hamrick 

But wait – there’s more! On Sunday, June 12th, at 2 PM, stop by the store for a panel discussion with critics, booksellers and authors, including Mark Pryor, Hopeton Hay,  and Janice Hamrick, on the international crime fiction they love. We’ll feature our favorite international crime fiction on our blog before and after the panel, and those who attend the panel should find themselves pleasantly inundated in give-aways. Monday, June 13th, at 7 PM, MysteryPeople kicks off our Double Feature summer film series with a screening of the classic gothic noir, Rebecca, followed by a discussion of Daphne du Maurier’s novel versus Hitchcock’s adaption.

Our author events for June represent well the glocal [global + local] purview of MysteryPeople. To wrap up our May Texas Writers’ Month celebration, on June 10th, we bring you two stunning literary voices of the southwest, C.J. Howell and J. Todd Scott, visiting with their new books Hundred Mile View and The Far EmptyThen we move into a proper authorial celebration of International Crime Fiction Month with a visit from Flynn Berry, who dwells in England but has visited our fair state before as an attendee of the prestigious Michelin Writing Institute. She’ll be speaking and signing her Cornish-set debut, Under the Harrow, on Saturday, June 18th, at 6 PM.

A week later, we’ll get a perfect representation of the glocal on Thursday, June 23rd, at 7 PM, with visits from two masters of the PI genre, Cara Black and Lisa Sandlin. Cara Black is the author of the perfectly feminist and oh-so-fashionable Aimee Leduc series, set in Paris. Her most recent, Murder on the Quai, goes back in time to the end of the Cold War for thrilling tale of recovered Nazi gold that should delight newcomers to the series and long-term fans alike, although fans especially will appreciate how Black fills in the details for many of the series’ greatest questions (and some of its smaller ones, such as from where Aimee acquired her bichon frise). She’ll be joined by Texas writer Lisa Sandlin, who’s debut Beaumont-set PI novel, The Do-Rightcame out last year to great acclaim. Those who appreciate a vivid setting and a kick-ass heroine should enjoy the evening thoroughly.

Our Favorite MysteryPeople Moments

mysterypeople panel
From the left, Scott Montgomery, Jesse Sublett, Hopeton Hay, Meg Gardiner, Mark Pryor, Janice Hamrick, and Molly Odintz.
  • Introduction by Scott Montgomery

This past weekend, MysteryPeople celebrated our fifth anniversary, with a panel discussion featuring local authors Mark Pryor, Jesse Sublett, Meg Gardiner, and Janice Hamrick, and local critic Hopeton Hay. Molly and I moderated the discussion. Afterwards, we all enjoyed celebratory cake, beverages, and most importantly, trivia with giveaways.

After our anniversary party on Saturday wrapped up, we decided to share some of our favorite event moments throughout the history of MysteryPeople. Below, we’ve shared our favorite memories of the fantastic authors who came through and the fun times we’ve had with them during and after our events. Molly and myself picked six standout moments each. As you will learn, Craig Johnson in particular has gotten to be an important part of our store.

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The MysteryPeople Top 100 Crime and Suspense Novels, Revealed At Last

Today, MysteryPeople celebrates its fifth anniversary with a panel discussion, party, and the official unveiling of the MysteryPeople Top 100 Crime and Suspense novels. Meg Gardiner, Jesse Sublett, Janice Hamrick, Mark Pryor, and reviewer and radio host Hopeton Hay join bookseller Molly Odintz and Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery for a discussion of “Our Life in Crime.” Come by the store at 3 PM for the discussion and stay for the party afterwards!

The MysteryPeople Top 100 Crime & Suspense Novels

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Countdown to the MysteryPeople Top 100: Janice Hamrick’s Top 20 Mysteries

MysteryPeople’s fifth anniversary is coming up, and we’ve decided to celebrate with top lists from many of our favorite authors, critics, and of course, booksellers. We’ll be posting each individual list on the blog leading up to November 7th, when we’ll unveil the full list of MysteryPeople’s Top 100 Crime and Suspense Novels. Last Monday, we profiled Craig Johnson’s top 21, and today, we have local author Janice Hamrick’s very different top 20 list.

Janice’s series features Austin high school teacher Jocelyn Shore. Her list is great for people interested in mysteries that lean toward the traditional or humorous, plus a sprinkle of the macabre. Janice will be joining us on November 7th for a panel discussion on Our Life In Crime, starting at 3PM. Following the discussion, we’ll ease right into our 5th anniversary party, with trivia, giveaways, cake, and beverages.

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Texas Characters – What More Could a Writer Want? Guest Post from Janice Hamrick for Texas Mystery Writers Month

May is Texas Mystery Writers Month, and we’re celebrating with guest posts from Texas authors all month long. Up next, we have one of our favorite Austin mystery writers, Janice Hamrick, whose novels, like her personality, sparkle with dry wit and charming details. We couldn’t celebrate Texas Mystery Writers Month without her.

Texas Characters – What More Could a Writer Want?

Guest Post from Janice Hamrick

Texas is a goldmine of inspiration for writers. Need a setting? Take your pick – coastal fishing village, desert ghost town, hill country honky tonk, or sophisticated metropolis. Need some background? Try crooked politics, ranching dynasties, wild west outlawry, heroic revolution, or high tech scandal. Need characters?  Ah, now that’s where Texas really excels. No people anywhere else on the face of the planet are quite like Texans.

Now don’t get me wrong. Other places have their characters. I’m currently living in Edinburgh, and trust me, you can’t swing a cat on the Royal Mile without taking out someone playing the bagpipes or telling the chilling story of one of the many ghosts who linger in the dark narrow closes of Old Town. But it’s a different kind of character.

“Need characters?  Ah, now that’s where Texas really excels. No people anywhere else on the face of the planet are quite like Texans…”

Texans are as varied as the state itself. Heroes, villains, sneaks, nerds, even ordinary teachers forced to confront a stone cold killer – they are all there, and all just a little extraordinary simply because they are Texan. Something about the grandeur of Texas permeates the atmosphere, makes everyone stand up just a little straighter, live just a little larger, be just a little bit more than they would be in any other location. Spend five minutes talking to the woman serving pie at the Texas Pie Company in Kyle or a minute and a half with the ranch hand holding your horse at Rancho Cortez in Bandera and you have enough inspiration to spark a dozen novels. The very best Texans are open, friendly, and direct – boy, are they direct. But at least they never leave you wondering how they feel about a topic, and if they’ve been Texan for longer than six months, they are proud both of their past and their present (and the more different that is from anything ‘up north,’ the better).

There aren’t many places that inspire such fervent devotion, not many states that people so proudly claim as part of their identity. “I’m a Texan,” is a statement that always draws nods of understanding, even as far away as Europe. I recently met a student from Norway, and in response to my accent, he ventured, “You are from one of the two countries in North America, are you not? I don’t dare guess which.”

I smiled and said, “Yes, I’m from Texas.”

His face lit up, and he said, “Ah, I should have said one of the three countries in North America.”

Damn straight.

You can find Janice Hamrick’s novels on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Look out for more great guest posts for Texas Mystery Writers Month. MysteryPeople is also holding a workshop with three Texas authors, including George Wier, Les Edgerton, and Reavis Wortham, this Saturday, May 23rd, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Come for part or all of the day! The workshop is free and open to the public.

Murder in the Afternoon Book Club Discussing DEATH ON TOUR, by Janice Hamrick

For this month’s Murder In The Afternoon Book Club, meeting Tuesday, November 18th, at 2 pm, we get to discuss the book with the author. Janice Hamrick is one of our favorite writers. Her series featuring Austin high school teacher Jocelyn Shore consistently entertains us with light, humorous mysteries. Hamrick’s novels avoid being cute with with a truthful look at human nature and a bit of an edge. We’ll be reading the first book in the series, Death On Tour.

Death On Tour introduces us to Jocelyn and her extroverted (to put it mildly) cousin, Kyla, as they take a vacation on a discount tour to Egypt. When a member of the group falls to her death from a pyramid, Jocelyn is swept up in a plot involving an old necklace, a new love, and murder. The book has the plot of a mystery, the pace of a thriller, and the style and approach of a good romantic comedy.

The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club will meet on Tuesday, November 18th, at 2 pm on BookPeople’s third floor. Janice will be joining us through conference call and you’ll find her as funny and as entertaining as her books. Come for the discussion, stay for the laughs.

The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club meets the third Tuesday of each month at 2 pm. Please join us Tuesday, November 18th, as we discuss Death on Tour, by Janice Hamrick and, for this special occasion, with Janice Hamrick. Copies are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. All book clubs are free and open to the public, and book club members receive 10% off of their purchase of their monthly book club title.

Three New Series For Fans of Janet Evanovich

Do you have a Janet Evanovich fan who’s already bought Takedown Twenty for herself? Worry not. Here are three feisty, funny female characters who are just as entertaining as Stephanie Plum.

Lisa Lutz’s Izzy Spellman
First Book in the Series: The Spellman Files
Latest Book in the Series: The Last Word

Izzy is a professional, if somewhat disorganized, private investigator, in one of the most dysfunctional family firms that’s ever existed. When the Spellman’s aren’t doing surveillance for a client, they spy on each other. Lutz uses the idea of a detective firm to give a satiric yet brutally honest look at relationships and family.


Sophie Littlefield’s Stella Hardesty
First Book in the Series: Bad Day For Sorry
Latest Book in the Series: Bad Day for Mercy

On probation after killing her abusive husband with a monkey wrench, Stella has gone into the business of helping women get back at the bad men in her life. Sometimes the work has her running afoul of her sometime boyfriend, Goat, the local sheriff. She also has to juggle her friend and daughter in this series that offers a realistic take on Midwest.


Janice Hamrick’s Jocelyn Shore
First Book in the Series: Death On Tour
Latest Book in the Series: Death Rides Again

Jocelyn is a newly divorced Austin school teacher dealing with the men and dead bodies in her life. Janice Hamrick delves into human naure and behavior while delivering a well plotted and entertaining read.

MysteryPeople’s Top 5 Texas Mysteries of 2013

1. The Thicket by Joe Lansdale

A mix of Southern Gothic, crime, and western with that distinctive Lansdale voice. A young man journeys with the son of slaves, a whore, and a dwarf bounty hunter seeking justice and his abducted sister in turn-of-the-last-century Texas. A grand yarn told in high style.


2.  The Right Side Of Wrong by Reavis Wortham

A group of Texas lawmen have to contend with the new drug business and the violence it brings to their part of the state in the early ’60s, causing them to cross lines both geographic and moral. Great sense of time and place with one hell of a climactic gun battle.


death rides again3. Death Rides Again by Janice Hamrick

Jocelyn Shore visits the small town where she grew up for a Thanksgiving family reunion to find her cousin, Ruby June, missing and Ruby June’s husband murdered. Janice Hamrick’s light, funny mystery takes on some heavy ideas about family, relationships, and modern small towns.


4. These Mortal Remains by Milton T. Burton

If Chandler ended up in east Texas, he may have written something like this tale of a small town sheriff dealing with race, politics, and three murders. An involved plot, pitch perfect tone, and rich voice make this one engaging novel.


5. Long Fall From Heaven by Milton T Burton and George Weir

To solve the murder of their friend, two private security men in 1980s Galveston have to also uncover a string of murders that happened on the island during World War II. Filled with dark secrets and Lone Star history, both authors blend their styles to create an involving and moody thriller.

MP Review: DEATH RIDES AGAIN by Janice Hamrick

Death Rides Again by Janice Hamrick


Janice Hamrick’s understanding of human behavior and emotion brings a depth and weight to a subgenre of mystery often referred to as “light.” Her Austin high school teacher protagonist Jocelyn Shore, a realist who would like to be a romantic with a sense of justice and protective love of her own, is willing to get her hands dirty to find the killer. In her latest, Death Rides Again, Hamrick makes murder a family affair. A great opening sentence that sets up plot, tone, and her heroine’s voice:

“The day Eddy Cranny got himself murdered started out bad and went downhill from there…especially for Eddy.”

We first meet Eddy when he’s being threatened with a shotgun by Jocelyn’s uncle Kel. Jocelyn and her cousin Kyla, who often serves as her Watson, have traveled to their hometown of Sandcreek, Texas for a Thanksgiving family reunion. Needless to say, we soon find out they aren’t the Brady Bunch as Jocelyn intercedes the shotgun incident after Kel discovers Eddy has been beating on his girlfriend Ruby June; Jocelyn’s cousin and Kel’s daughter. After the situation is diffused, they discover that Ruby June is gone.

Jocelyn and Kyla’s search for for their cousin takes them around Sand Creek, skillfully rendered by Hamrick in its decorative limbo between Thanksgiving and Christmas, introducing us to its citizens and suspects outside the family. After the search proves fruitless, they return to the ranch where Collin, Jocelyn’s cop boyfriend (or possible boyfriend, which is dealt with in a subplot) is waiting. Later that night, they discover Eddie’s body in his pickup.

The mystery involves corruption, horse racing, drug cartels, and even lions, tigers, and bears. Most of all, it explores family dynamics. As an author introducing so many characters, Hamrick understands the use of stereotypes, as well as how we do this to our own family members, then quickly begins to shade them with dimension. Much of the humor involves how little doubt Jocelyn has in her family being involved with blackmail and murder. Hamrick also looks at the tribalism of family. Jocelyn may refer to half her clan as “rabid hillbillies hopped up on Judge Judy and reruns of CSI”, but nobody else better insult or mess with them.

Death Rides Again shows Janice Hamrick’s skill as an author. Her style serves her characters and story without heavy author flourishes. Being naturally unique, hers is an effortless voice (the kind that much effort and talent are poured into) that easily moves from humorous, romantic, suspenseful, and poignant, because it is so human. It’s a voice I look forward to hearing again.


MysteryPeople Q&A with Janice Hamrick

Janice Hamrick’s series featuring Jocelyn Shore (or her “Death” series, as you might call it), is a breath of fresh air. It borrows elements from several subgenres and plants them in the traditional mystery form. In her latest, Death Rides Again, the Austin high school teacher is back in her small Texas hometown, dealing with her family and their relationships as much as she does with murder. If that sounds too “cozy” or soft, there’s gun play, drug cartels, and a great action climax with a lion (trust me, it works). Janice was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, Texas, and family. For the record, she is the only only author I know who redacts her own swear words.

death rides again
MYSTERYPEOPLE: Death Rides Again is your most Texas book. As a transplant, what makes living in the Lone Star state a unique experience?

JANICE HAMRICK: I LOVE Texas. Living here is a constant reminder of the American experience and the character and strength of the people that settled the West. I can’t drive five minutes outside the city without wondering how the heck people traveled even half an hour through such harsh country, let alone for weeks on end. The land itself is completely unforgiving. The creeks are dry ninety-five percent of the time; the other five percent they’re flash flooding. The plants are designed to kill you – if they aren’t poisonous, they’re covered in thorns. The animals are worse. Fire ants, snakes, coyotes, hawks – we’ve got ‘em all. We’re actually warned not to leave small dogs outside because they can be scooped up by birds of prey. (I have a little dog, but she’s chunky enough that it would take a pterodactyl to lift her, and the last time I checked even Texas doesn’t have those.) The best thing is that Texans seem to take it all in stride.

MP: What makes it a great state to write about?

JH: Everything’s bigger (and better) in Texas! For one thing, Texans have a real sense of state pride and identity. I travel a great deal, and no matter where I go, everyone “knows” Texas. I think a lot of Europeans secretly believe that we still ride horses and carry guns – an impression I would never try to correct, because on a certain level it just seems right. For writers, Texas is less a setting and more of a character in its own right. Who wouldn’t love writing about it?

MP: One thing I loved about the book is while Jocelyn’s love for her family is evident, she can believe many of them are capable of blackmail and murder. What did you want to explore with family dynamics in this book?

JH: Family dynamics are always rich fodder for a writer. I think most of us deeply believe that we ourselves are completely normal, while other people (especially family members) are bat-sh** crazy. Family members are simply the crazies we can’t avoid, especially around the holidays. Jocelyn is a lot of fun because she has a pretty realistic opinion of people in general and of her relatives in particular. The fact that she believes some family members are capable of blackmail and murder doesn’t in any way lessen her love and probably actually increases her respect for them.

MP: Every time I start to give Jocelyn’s cousin, Kyla, the benefit of the doubt, she does something extremely self centered or puts Jocelyn in an uncomfortable situation. What does the relationship between the two of them provide for you?

JH: Although they’re cousins, Kyla and Jocelyn are closer than most sisters, and they have a certain amount of sibling rivalry going on most of the time. You’ve heard the old joke about an older brother protecting the younger one from a bully and saying “No one beats up my brother…except me.” Kyla is a lot like that.  She loves Jocelyn, but she’s not above poking the bear, whether for her own amusement or because she thinks Jocelyn needs a sharp nudge. For Jocelyn, Kyla is the fun, adventurous, flamboyant soul that she’d like to be, if she had the nerve and the complete lack of social filters. For a writer, that kind of complex relationship provides infinite possibilities.

MP: While you get categorized as a  “cozy” or “light” mystery author, your books have enough gunfire, beatings, corruption, and drug cartels to keep a hard boiled fan like myself engaged. How would you describe the series?

JH: I think of the books as traditional mysteries with a dash of humor and romance, and I think they are a little edgier than the typical “cozy” mystery. I’m actually happy they don’t easily fit into a category, because I’d like readers to consider the stories and characters individually and not start with a lot of preconceived ideas. Of course, it bites me in the…well, you know what…when a reader gets upset by something they weren’t expecting.

MP: What makeS Jocelyn a character worth returning to for you?

JH: I love Jocelyn’s blend of optimism and realism. She has a lot of insight into the people around her, and she is perfectly able to see the darker side of their characters and motivations, but at the same time she honestly likes most of them. Even for people she actually does distrust or dislike, she is still able to feel some empathy or understanding. Her ability to take the good with the bad is the key to all her relationships as well as to much of the humor in the book.  I also really like the way in which she was feeling pretty fragile and damaged after her divorce (in Death on Tour), but has slowly started regaining her sense of confidence and strength without ever turning bitter.

If you have your own questions for Janice, she’ll be here at BookPeople, this Wednesday, June 19th at 7pm signing and discussing Death Rides Again. Join us!