Scott’s Top Ten of 2016 (Make it a dozen. Okay, fifteen or sixteen.)

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

This was a great year for crime fiction. Established authors experimented with new ideas or pushed what they were doing further. People with great debuts in 2015 proved it wasn’t just beginners luck this year. 2016’s new releases were so good, it was difficult to narrow them down, so I put a few together and made it a dozen.

97803991730351. Anything and All Things Reed Farrel Coleman

This year Coleman started a new character, ex-Suffolk-County-cop-turned-sorta-PI Gus Murphy (Where It Hurts), ended the series featuring dwarf detective Gulliver Down (Love & Fear), and delivered a Game Change in the life of Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone (Debt To Pay.) All of it was executed with a poet’s choice of words, haunting emotions, and believable leads in a struggle to find who they are and what matters to them. He also had brilliant short stories in the anthologies Crime Plus Music and Unloaded. It wouldn’t surprise me if Reed made out some moving grocery lists as well.

97803995743202. The Second Life Of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton

Possibly one of the best crafted crime novels in a decade. Nick Mason finishes a twenty-year stretch in five due to a criminal kingpin who runs his empire from the inside. Upon Mason’s release the kingpin’s lawyer hands him a cell phone that is the condition of his release – he must answer the phone at any time and do whatever he is told on the other end. Everything Hamilton sets up in the first few chapters falls beautifully into place by the end.

97803162310773. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

This dark, morally complex tale looks at ambition and the dynamics of family support for their gymnastics prodigy daughter as the family and community react to a murder that occurs in their sporting community. Abbott further pushes the boundaries of noir.

97805254269434. An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson

Sheriff Walt Longmire, Henry Standing Bear, and Deputy Vic Moretti find themselves having to solve a mystery in a town overrun by a motorcycle rally. Guns, outlaw bikers, federal agents and a woman from Henry’s past all play a part in unraveling the final mystery. Johnson strips down the cast to his most essential characters for one of the most entertaining books in the series.

97800623698575. What Remains Of Me by Alison Gaylin

A multi-layered psychological Hollywood thriller, in which a present-day murder of an actor is tied to the past murder of a director, and the same woman gets blamed for both. Gaylin’s character development beautifully dovetails with a plot that is never revealed until the final sentence. Beautiful, stunning work.

97803991739506. The Innocents by Ace Atkins

The latest and angriest of The Quinn Colson novels has our country boy hero and Sheriff Lillie Virgil solving a torturous murder of a former cheerleader, dealing with the worst aspects of Southern small town society. A book that enrages as it entertains.

97803079612737. Dr. Knox by Peter Spiegelman

Spiegelman introduces us to his new series character, a doctor who keeps his Skid Row clinic afloat by making “house calls” with his mercenary pal to the rich, famous, and criminal, who don’t need anything reported on medical records. A very interesting, complex hero, and an interesting look at L.A.

97812500099688. Murder At The 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane

In Murder at the 42nd Street Library, Con Lehane introduces us to another great new character, Raymond Ambler, Curator of the Crime Fiction Collection for the New York Public Library and amateur sleuth. A satisfying mystery with a lived-in, warm look at friendship and a worker’s look at New York.

97819438181749.City of Rose & South Village by Rob Hart

The seconds and third installments following unlicensed private eye Ash McKenna takes him to two very different places, tracking down a stripper’s daughter in Portland and a solving a murder on his friend’s Georgia commune, charting a progression of a broken man putting the pieces of himself together. Plot and character meld seamlessly into this compelling tale of a lone hero who feels he can not be a part of the society he helps.

978076537485110. Night Work by David C Taylor

This follow up to veteran screenwriter David C. Taylor’s debut, Night Life, has police detective Michael Cassidy protecting Castro during his famous New York visit. Taylor makes the city and period a living, vibrant thing coming off the page.

11. Shot In Detroit by Patricia Abbott9781940610825

This story about a photographer who gets obsessed with a project involving young black men challenges us at every turn about race, class, and art and crime fiction itself. It is a book where the author complements the reader by assuming you are as intelligent and open to difficult topics as she is.

978098913299212. Genuinely Dangerous by Mike McCrary and Kiss The Devil Goodnight by Jonathan Woods

Two dark wild rides through a pulp hell that is pure Heaven for crime fiction fans. if Barry Gifford was still running Black Lizard he would have signed these guys up.

Crime Fiction Friday: “The Writer’s End” by Jonathan Woods

Jonathan Woods comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest romp, Kiss the Devil Good Night, on Sunday, November 20, at 5 PM. He’ll be joined by Ben Rehder and Lance Hawvermale. Thanks to Jonathan for sending along a crazy crime fiction Friday to get us all psyched for the event, and thanks to Dahlia for her beautiful, bloody illustrations!


The Writer’s End: A Key West Story

By Jonathan Woods

Illustrated by Dahlia Woods

Sitting on the porch of a white frame house dating from the 19th Century in Old Town Key West, the writer writes. He wears white cotton shorts, his pale linen shirt unbuttoned. With one hand he accidentally brushes back his thinning apricot-colored hair.

Read More »

Bad Boys and Tough Cookies: MysteryPeople Q&A with Jonathan Woods

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The term “normal” or “boring” will never describe Jonathan Woods’ writing. Fusing beat sensibility to crime fiction, his gonzo noir is kinky, absurd, and allows you to have a lot of fun rolling around in the dirt with him. This is no more reflected than in his latest, Kiss The Devil Goodnight. Bill Derringer, college dropout and war vet, goes for revenge against Aunt Ida, a femme fatale of operatic proportions, who set him up to take a five year stretch for a gun show robbery and took his wife.

We talked to Jonathan about the book, writing, and badass women. Joined by Lance Hawvermale and Ben Rehder, Jonathan Woods comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest on Sunday, November 20th, at 5 PM

Scott Montgomery: As a writer, what makes Bill Derringer a good protagonist?

Jonathan Woods: I think of Bill Derringer as part of a long line of bad boy antiheroes from Tom Jones and Barry Lyndon to Sebastian Dangerfield in Donleavy’s The Ginger Man and Charles Highway in Martin Amis’ The Rachel Papers, to Sailor Ripley in Barry Gifford’s Wild at Heart and Ray Midge in Charles Portis’ The Dog of the South. In Bill Derringer I wanted to create an antihero who was crazed, hallucinatory, hardboiled and profane but, at the same time, sympathetic. I hope I have achieved that.

Read More »

Three Picks for November

Her Nightly Embrace by Adi Tantimedh9781501130571

Ravi Chandra Singh is a new a rookie operative for Golden Sentinels Investigation Firm’s London office. We follow him on several cases as he falls in love, works off part of the debt from his sister’s wedding, sees gods, and learns more about the people he works with and for.

Her Nightly Embrace comes out today! You can find copies on our shelves or via


Kiss The Devil Good Night by Jonathan Woods

After being imprisoned for a gun show robbery gone wrong, Bill Derringer hunts down his double crossing accomplices – his wife, Edie, and the woman known as Aunt Ida, who previously ran off together. His road to revenge is a weird, violent ride involving wild women, Mexican drug cartels, and William Burroughs’s briefcase.

You can meet Jonathan Woods, along with Ben Rehder and Lance Hawvermale, on Sunday, November 20th, at 5PM. Jonathan Woods’ latest comes out Tuesday, November 15th.

Fields Where They Lay by Timothy Hallinan

One of the most entertaining burglars, Junior Bender, returns for a Christmas story. This time he has to find crooks ripping off a mob-tied mall in the San Fernando Valley. Expect a lot of laughs and some gunfire.

You can find copies of Fields Where They Lay on our shelves and via

Top Five Short Story Collections of 2014

2014 has been an excellent year for short story collections, and whether you have a taste for themed compilations or single author explorations of the short story form, we have a short story collection for you! Here’s our top five of the year, plus an honorable mention from 2013 that we just couldn’t leave off the list.

wait for signs twelve longmire stories1. Wait For Signs by Craig Johnson

These stories give us a look at Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire between his cases. Whether dealing with a questionable hitch hiker, robbery at The Red Pony bar and grill, or an owl trapped in a Porta-Potty, we learn that his down time is both eventful and often funny.


2. Trouble In The Heartland edited by Joe Cliffordtrouble in the heartland

Forty stories inspired by Bruce Springsteen titles. Full of midnight roads, last shots, heartache, and hard boiled love, this collection gives off the vibe of a great concept album.


phone call from hell3. Phone Call From Hell by Jonathan Woods

From the wonderful warped imagination of Jonathan Woods, the second installment of twisted satiric tales. From an out-of-control swingers party to a man getting a phone call from Charles Manson, Woods proves he is the mad scientist of short fiction.


shots fired4. Shots Fired by C.J. Box

All of Box’s short work collected through the years, including many stories featuring his game warden, Joe Pickett. Standout tales feature a group of immigrants dumped in Yellowstone and two old mountain men trying to put up with one another during a harsh winter.

prison noir5. Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates

These tales of incarceration from different prisons around the country, most written by current or former inmates, deliver a cold hard hit to the bones. You won’t take freedom for granted after reading these stories.


GlennGray_TheLittleBoyInsideSpecial Mention – The Little Boy Inside & Other Stories by Glenn Gray

It came out last year, but I was finally able to read it in 2014 and it’s too damn good to be omitted from this list. Gray mixes crime, horror, and sci-fi in these stories where the thing a person can trust the least is his own body. Both well crafted and outrageous.


All of the books listed above are available on our shelves and via Look out for more top lists later in December!



MysteryPeople Q&A: Jonathan Woods talks New Pulp Press

jonathan woods

New Pulp, one of our favorite publishers, and source of such modern classics as Hard Bite and Frank Sinatra In A Blender will soon have a new operator. NewPulp author Jonathan Woods has bought the publisher and will be running it with Shirrel Rhoades. We caught up with Jonathan to ask him about his plans for the imprint.

MP: What possessed you to be a partner in New Pulp?

JW: The devil made me do it.

Seriously, Jon Bassoff did a wonderful thing in creating and nurturing New Pulp Press for eight years into a prize-winning, genre bending small press. But he wanted to focus more on his writing. Plus he has a full-time day job as a teacher. So the opportunity was there. Being a student of the literary life, I’ve read about some of the great small presses. The Olympia Press in Paris that published Lolita, Tropic of Cancer, Donleavy’s The Ginger Man and one of the great noir novels, Alexander Trocchi’s Young Adam. The Hogarth Press founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. And the original Black Lizard Books from Creative Arts Book Company in Berkeley, founded by the inimitable Barry Gifford. So I thought, why not! Something to keep me out of the bars at night.

MP: Where do you hope to take the imprint?

JW: I want to continue to publish fine and edgy crime fiction by writers new and old. Names you may have heard of and new voices. We’re already working hard on the list for 2015 and we’ve got some great books in the line up.

Thriller Award-winning and Edgar-nominated short story writer Tim L. Williams has given us a book of creepy noir tales called Skull Fragments set in the quiet towns and haunted back roads of the coal mining country of western Kentucky.

Lynn Kostoff, author of the noir classics A Choice of Nightmares and Late Rain, has provided another dark and sinister tale. This one, entitled Words to Die For, involves a fixer for a public relations company who sells his soul to protect his clients.

A new writer publishing under the pseudonym Rowdy Yates (and who is an editor at Bull) brings us a tale of gangsters on a quest, called Bring Me the Head of Yorkie Goodman.

Mark Rapacz (author of numerous short stories and the novel City Kaiju) has penned a tale of murder and mayhem, with the tentative title of The Foreigners (or Waeguk in Korean), about American expats and Korean gangsters up to no good in beautiful downtown Seoul, South Korea.

And, oh yeah, yours truly has a new novel coming called Kiss the Devil Good Night about…,well, it’s about Bill and Aunt Ida and revenge and Mexican drug lords and William Burroughs’ lost suitcase.

This is just the beginning.

MP: Can you tell us about your partner in the endeavor, Shirrel Rhoades?

JW: Shirrel has had a long and varied career in publishing including a stint as Fiction Editor for the Saturday Evening Post and EVP and Publisher of Marvel Comics. A year or so ago he started an ebook publishing venture based in Key West, Florida called Absolutely Amazing eBooks. AAeB publishes a broad spectrum of books, from mysteries to pulp classics to adventure and science fiction. Shirrel brings to the table marketing and technical know-how that I don’t have. I will be responsible for the editorial side of New Pulp Press and for building and maintaining relationships with authors, bookstores and reviewers.

MP: Will you still be writing for the imprint as well?

JW: New Pulp Press has been good to me, publishing my three books: the award-winning Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem, my police procedural A Death in Mexico, which you, Scott, were kind enough to name one of the five best debut crime novels of 2012 and which Booklist recently compared to Orson Welles’ A Touch of Evil, and my new collection of noir tales, Phone Call from Hell. So, yes, I m going to remain with New Pulp Press. When you’re on a roll…

MP: How will Jon Bassoff still be involved?

JW: Jon is absolutely committed to this transition being seamless and a perfect ten. For a year after the turnover he will continue to be associated with New Pulp in an advisory role as Editor Emeritus. I’m lucky to have his wealth of experience to call on when I get in a tight spot.

MP: What do you think will be the most fun about running your own publishing company?

JW: Cutting the first movie deal for one of our books.

Cops, Teachers & Swingers: Austin’s Next Noir at the Bar

One of the reasons we put together our Noir At The Bar series is to introduce Austin to crime fiction writers who are not getting the attention they deserve. On Monday, July 7th at Opal Divine’s, we hope to put some top tier talent on your radar with our latest Noir at the Bar. Whether you like police action, hard boiled mystery, or dark, strange stories, we’ll have an author you need to know.

Dan O’Shea writes a cop novel like no other. In the latest book in his series featuring detective John Lynch, Greed, a soldier of fortune brings blood diamonds into Chicago to sell, putting Lynch in the middle of drug cartels, terrorist cells, government agencies, a spoiled actor who puts out a mob contract, and a lot of bullets. O’Shea gives us an intense shoot-out and chase finale that lasts for a hundred pages. Dan’s John Lynch books have a great mix of literary plotting and scope, with a cinematic pace and attitude.

Tim O’Mara’s character is Raymond Donne, an ex-cop who now works as a teacher in a Brooklyn school. The last novel, Crooked Numbers, had Ray looking into the murder of his former student, which involved family, class, and an unusual crime. O’Mara plays with moods and tone like an expert jazz musician.

For something completely different, we have Jonathan Woods. His first short story collection, Bad JuJu, was like a bunch of wonderful experiments brought to life by a mad noir scientist. His new collection, Phone Call From Hell, has crime, kinky sex, barbecue, and an appearance by Charles Manson. As wild and strange as his tales are, there is a skilled level of loose craftsmanship that’s to be admired. One of the stories, “Swingers Anonymous” is being turned into a film.

So come out to Opal Divine’s at 360 South Congress on Monday, July 7th at 7PM to meet these authors. Austin musician and author Jesse Sublett will provide both a music and a reading. Books by the authors will be available for sale. Grab a drink, hold on to your fedora, and prepare to be blown away by a new wave of crime fiction.

Crime Fiction Friday: A BAD DAY FOR BARBECUE by Jonathan Woods

crime scene
We can’t wait to have our friend Jonathan Woods back at our Noir At The Bar On July 7th, reading from his latest collection of short stories A Phone Call From Hell. His gonzo noir tales of crime, murder, and kinky sex remind us how part of genre writing’s joy is subverting convention. Here he does it in a tale originally published in Akashic’s Monday’s Are Murder feature.

“A BAD DAY FOR BARBECUE” by Jonathan Woods

“Jiao Lee, the first female owner of Golden BBQ, stood in the restaurant’s doorway. She watched the morning traffic on Hollywood Road in the heart of Hong Kong Central. Massive apartment blocks rose up the slope of Victoria Peak like giant Lego sculptures. Rain clouds of a winter cold front roiled above.

Mostly antique shops and galleries inhabited Hollywood Road, with an occasional sly, upscale restaurant or bar here and there. As the landlords hiked the rents, the galleries were moving away. Life was ever changeable, thought Jiao.

Golden BBQ had been at its location for five generations, offering succulent, mouth-watering barbecue to its clientele. In the window, a suckling pig, a dozen pressed ducks and a brace of geese—favored for their fatty flesh—hung from metal hooks…”


Click here to read the full story.

Murder Ballads, Snake Handling, Dog Bites – Noir at the Bar is a Big Success

Last week we launched the Austin version of Noir At The Bar. A night of crime readings, much like poetry in a coffee house, done at a local watering hole had proven to be a success in Philadelphia, St. Louis and L.A., so we decided to do our own spin on it. Opal Divine’s hosted our motley band of authors and we drew a great crowd that made us want to do it again. (Thanks to Peter Farris for the awesome pictures from the night.)

Since we  are in Austin, we started with some music. Alt country singer/songwriter Chris Hoyt got us in the mood with three songs. Then writer, singer, songwriter, and former Skunks member, Jesse Sublett, performed a murder ballad.

Chris Hoyt

Barry Graham was up first, reading from his latest, When It All Comes own To Dust. The book deals with a predator just released from prison and his now adult victim. Barry chose a passage of their first confrontation that also describes the Phoenix, Arizona setting that is practically another character in the book. He then went into a passage from What Do You Think Of Your Blue Eyed Boy that was funny and dark, with a bite like one from the dog featured in the story.

Barry Graham

Jonathan Woods was next with a sexy part of his debut novel, A Death In Mexico. If you are a fan of John Burdette, Derek Raymond, or George Simenon, pick up this book. Woods’ Inspector Hector Diaz is a great mix of vice and virtue. he closed his set with What The F*** Was That? a comic horror tale that will have you picking your nose.

Jonathan Woods

Next up was Peter Farris, who read from the MysteryPeople Pick Of The Month, Last Call For The Living. This punchy Southern hard boiled is a must-read. Peter’s reenactment of a sermon from a snake handling preacher that happens before an already infamous shoot out probably had the Opal Divine’s customers downstairs wondering what the heck was going on (we sure enjoyed it).

Peter Farris

Jesse Sublett finished off the evening with a chapter from soon to be post-apocalyptic PI tale, Grave Digger Blues that he read to prerecorded music. The chapter, titled The Last Detective At The End Of The World, had everything – tough talk, violence, wise cracks, and a giant Marilyn Monroe. A perfect note to end on.

Jesse Sublett

The attendees mingled and drank with the writers and had their books signed.  It was a fun gathering of individuals and of voices that were individual. Friends were made, readers were discovered, and plots hatched. Looking forward to doing it again.

Get to Know Jonathan Woods

Jonathan Woods will be one of the authors featured at Austin’s Noir at the Bar, held at Opal Divine’s on June 7.

Of all the crime fiction writers I hang out with, Jonathan Woods is the one I’m most likely to get into trouble with. We’ve lurked San Fransisco streets for a hidden party, he was on on my infamous Sex, Violence, and Bad Language Bouchercon panel, and we’ve found ourselves at a bar many times with Jonathan saying quotable things I can’t always quote in public. When we decided to do Noir At The Bar here in Austin, he was the first person I thought of inviting.  With two published books, Jonathan Woods has proven to be a fearless author who’s writing skill is only matched its audacity.

Jonathan started writing at the age of sixty, giving up a successful law career to do so. Much of his early work was in online magazines like Plots With Guns. He developed a style that was sharp, tight, many times funny, often outrageous, and always unique.

New Pulp Press collected many of his stories with some new work in Bad JuJu. The mix of gonzo pulp with touches of weird horror hit many of us crime fiction aficionados like a shot of Patron. Stories ranged from those about sexy, hard boiled heroines, a jab at the superhero genre, to a haunting erotic ghost story. No Way Jose, a standout that caps off the anthology, is a wild, violent, hilarious series of events that culminate skillfully and swiftly. The writing is intelligent, fast, fun, and has no fear. Jonathan once described his writing as lowering  a bucket into his brain. “….and this is what I pull up.”

God knows what that man dreams at night.

Being known for his short work, I wondered how Jonathan would handle the demands of his first novel, A Death In Mexico. He more than delivers with Inspector Diaz, a rumpled police detective whose cynicism has overwhelmed but not conquered his romanticism. He frequently indulges his vices, has interesting conversations with the local priest, and is quite dogged on a case. In a city where the cartels control everything, for Diaz justice is more personal than institutional.

Diaz’s investigation concerns an American art model. Many of the suspects are U.S. expats and painters, all with their personal depravity. Diaz finds himself brushing up against them and the cartels, jumping across the border, getting roughed up, doing some of his own roughing up, getting involved in some insane car chases, flirting with his partner, and delivering many a sharp observation. I rooted for his triumph, not only because I was personally connected, but because I wanted to read about him again.

Jonathan Woods has quickly become an author to be respected. A couple of years ago, we both had a great meal with booksellers and authors after one of Murder By The Book’s famed noir nights. As we walked back to our cars, Jonathan put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Much better than being a lawyer.”

Speaking as a friend and a fan, I glad he made the change, too.

Jonathan Woods, along with Peter Farris, Barry Graham, and Jesse Sublett, will read from his work at Austin’s Noir at the Bar, held at Opal Divine’s on Thursday, June 7, 7p.