Guest Post: Manning Wolfe on The Drama of the Law

The Drama of the Law: What’s the Origin of the Legal Thriller?

Guest Post from Manning Wolfe

Lawyer and writer Manning Wolfe was kind enough to contribute a piece to our blog on the early days of the legal thriller, plus plenty of recommendations of contemporary and classic legal thrillers. Her debut, Dollar Signsis a legal thriller set in Austin. Come by BookPeople on Tuesday, July 12th, at 7 PM, for an evening with Manning Wolfe, Martin Limón, and Billy Kring. 

Before I began writing legal thrillers, I asked myself why we love the law and what brought about our fascination with civil conflict stories and those involving people in trouble with authority. I went in search of the origins of the genre and found a rich history of chills and thrills.

What is a legal thriller?

John Grisham, the most well-known attorney writing in the genre says: “You throw an innocent person in there, get ‘em caught up in a conspiracy and you get ‘em out.” I think we must include a bit of education about the law and its procedures, possibly a courtroom scene, and that about sums up the legal thriller. The history behind the evolution would take a book or two to recount. Here are the highlights.

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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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3 Picks for July


MysteryPeople’s 3 Picks
for July

The three picks for July are all the fourth book in a series which you should know about. Each author has written their books in a way that anyone can dive in without reading the previous titles. With that said, chances are you’ll be going back for the other three.

Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan
(on our shelves 7/15!)

Burglar and ad-hoc private eye for criminals, Junior Bender is back. This time the case involves a missing list of criminals used to set up hits. When his mentor in crime, Herbie Mott, ends up dead, he’s out for vengeance, learning the secrets his old friend kept. Hallinan’s Junior Bender series is a perfect balance of hard boiled crime fiction
and laugh out loud humor.

Vengeance Is Mine by Reavis Wortham

The Lawmen of Central Springs, Texas get more than they bargained for when a hitman on the run from the Vegas mob settles in their town. This book weaves character, humor, and coming of age tale into an engrossing thriller with some kick ass shoot outs. Meet Reavis wortham at  August 6th with Tim Bryant and Ben Rehder for our Texas Mystery Night.

The Competition by Marcia Clark
(on our shelves 7/8!)

Special Prosecutor Rachel Knight looks into a tragic school shooting in the San Fernando Valley. As she looks closer, she learns the assumed perpetrators could in fact be the victims. Clark gives us a complex hero in Rachel Knight in a series that engages like no other.

Books for Fans of John Grisham

grisham

We all have at least one Grisham fan in our midst. And of course that fan has read ALL the Grisham books on the shelf (including his latest one, Sycamore Row). What’s a gift giver to do? Here are our recommendations for great books to give the Grisham fan on your list. 

breach of trustBreach Of Trust by David Ellis

Author David Ellis, a prosecutor in the Blagojevich impeachment, wrote this involving thriller of a prosecutor who gets a job in a corrupt Illinois governor’s office to find out about the death of his informant and his wife.

guilt by association

Guilt By Association by Marcia Clark  

Clark’s special prosecutor Rachel Knight takes on the case of a murdered colleague while looking into his sordid death in this engaging debut series that gives us an insider’s view of LA and its justice system. Clark was a prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office where she handled a number of cases, including the O. J. Simpson murder trial. This is the first in a series. Also check out books two and three, Guilt by Degrees and Killer Ambition

corrupt practices

Corrupt Practices by Robert Rotstein

Rotstein has received rave reviews for this book about a lawyer with stage freight who takes on a cult after he’s accused of embezzling millions.

 

Pro tip: Print this list and bring it down to BookPeople where we’ll be happy to pull the titles from our shelves for you. Our volunteers will be happy to gift wrap! (Or grab them via bookpeople.com

 

MysteryPeople Q&A with Marcia Clark: KILLER AMBITION

scott jesse marciaclark
Scott, Jesse Sublett & Marcia Clark at Noir in the Bar.

We were thrilled to have Marcia Clark as one of our guests for our L.A. themed Noir At The Bar last Saturday at Opal Divines (along with Josh Stallings, Timothy Hallinan, and Jesse Sublett). Her Rachel Knight series is a store favorite. It skillfully blends the legal thriller with police procedural. We talked with Marcia about her latest, Killer Ambition, what it’s like to try high profile cases, and some of her favorite current crime fiction.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: This is the first time you have Rachel trying a case in court. I had to fight myself from skipping ahead to find out the verdict. In a pop culture of Grisham books and Law & Order reruns, how did you go about making it fresh and give that tension?

MARCIA CLARK: What you don’t usually see in novels or on TV shows is an insider’s view of what it’s like to be on the inside of a media case. Having lived it, I was able to bring that experience to bear in showing what it’s like from the prosecutor’s point of view. Every trial is a daily roller coaster ride. No matter how much you prepare, every day presents surprises. You never know exactly how a witness will come across, or what minefield will present itself. And when it’s all televised, those moments are beamed straight into living rooms across the country.

I didn’t plan to write about handling a high profile trial. Simpson was a crazy circus, but that was a long time ago. Time to move on. But over the years since then, I was forced to acknowledge that criminal trials have become an established source of entertainment. The “genre” seems to be here to stay. So it seemed almost anachronistic not to write a story that spoke to that cultural reality.

MP: This case involves many in the Hollywood upper class. What’s the difference when questioning and prosecuting the elite?

MC: Their expectation of special treatment, and their ability to get it. The rich and powerful (not just in the industry in Hollywood, but in any field) have layers of assistants and lawyers whose job it is to shield them from “distractions.” Just getting an interview with a witness like that can be a nightmare, because it has to be scheduled way in advance to accommodate the calendars of not just the witnesses, but their lawyers and agents and PR people, etc.

And when the upper class person is a suspect – forget it, it’s crazy town. Every single move, no matter how routine – i.e. having the defendant fingerprinted at booking – engenders a battle royal. The lawyers want to make a good show of it, even if that show involves silly, useless arguments. And it’s not just because they’re being paid handsomely, it’s also because they know their potential future clients are watching.

MP: The trial is a media circus. As someone who has experienced those, what did you want to convey about prosecuting in the spotlight?

MC: So many things – among them the impact the media can have on public opinion, and the way the media can be used by people with their own agendas to manipulate the message. For example, in Killer Ambition, I show people slamming the prosecution to the press and picketing the courthouse in support of the defendant so they can curry favor with him because he’s a Hollywood power player. I also show how the publicity makes life tougher for the prosecutors in particular, because unlike the rich and famous, they don’t live behind gates or have a coterie of bodyguards and assistants to protect them from – if nothing else – overzealous reporters.

MP: The relationship and banter between Rachel and her police friend Bailey is great. Besides a smart professional partner, what else does she provide Rachel?

MC: Bailey is usually the voice of reason when Rachel’s single-minded focus leads her into reckless territory. As a result of Rachel’s childhood trauma, the quest for justice is more than a mission, it’s an intensely personal, all consuming obsession. One that sometimes causes her to overlook the danger in a situation. And Rachel has personal issues that can crop up to cause problems in her love life – as shown in Guilt by Degrees. S. Bailey, who came from a healthy family, doesn’t have those issues, so she tries to give Rachel a reality check. Sometimes she succeeds. Sometimes she doesn’t. When it comes to the emotional issues in a relationship, rationality can wind up stuffed into a back pocket. At least for the moment.

MP: I’ve noticed you like having some of your supporting characters, particularly those on the other side of the law, turn up again. As a writer, what do you enjoy about your outlaws?

MC: I love that you used the word “outlaws.” It’s perfect. It conveys the fact that they engage in, shall we say, extra-legal activities, but they’re not inherently bad people. Working for so many years as a criminal lawyer on both sides of the courtroom, I learned that some are just schlemiels, some don’t know how else to get by, and others are actually looking for a way out. I love showing that human side – the side you’d enjoy having a drink with. One of the recurring outlaws in my series is Luis Revelo, the head of a gang, who’s working on his MBA. He’ll probably wind up as CEO of some investment banking group. But until then, he still has a large family to support, so he’s still a shot caller for the Sylmar Sevens. This means he’s less than thrilled when Rachel calls on him for information. It’s not good for his “rep” to be seen with “the man.” Nevertheless, as shown in Guilt by Association, Luis owes Rachel. And Rachel never fails to remind him of it when she needs his help. So when Rachel calls, he picks up. Eventually.

MP: You’re also a really knowledgeable fan of crime fiction. Anybody you’ve been reading lately that you really like?

MC: I just finished The Double by George Pelecanos, which was excellent. I highly recommend it. I’m now reading Jeff Abbott’s latest, Downfall, and loving it.

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Signed copies of Killer Ambition are now available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. We ship all over the world.

L. A. Comes to Austin Noir at the Bar

los angeles

If noir had a capitol it would be Los Angeles. It’a town that draws people to it with dreams that glitter on the surface, supported by a history of corruption in it’s underside. It’s glamour and grit, romance and rotten humanity. This Saturday, July 20th at 7pm at Opal Divine’s (3601 S. Congress), we will be doing an L.A. themed Noir at the Bar with Marcia Clark (Killer Ambition), Timothy Hallinan (The Fame Thief), and Josh Stallings (All The Wild Children). To keep some local flavor, we’ll have author and musician Jesse Sublett (Grave Digger Blues) there to read and play some tunes. All of our L. A. authors show the range of dark deeds in their town and the stories those deeds inspire. It made us ask our crime author friends what their favorite L.A. crime books are.

It’s no surprise that Raymond Chandler, who put L.A. on the noir map, was the most popular.

“In 1987 I left my Austin music career Behind and moved to Los Angeles because of Raymond Chandler, aspiring to become something like the rock n’ roll Raymond Chandler,” Jesse Sublett told us. “I would love to list a dozen or so super cool obscure titles about LA here, but instead will go with the one that set my brain on fire, captured that city like lightning in a bottle and, like almost every sentence he wrote about it, still feels eerily true every time I’m there in that poisoned paradise: The Big Sleep.”

Chandler’s The Long Goodbye got the most mentions. Reed Farrel Coleman (Onion Street) describes the book as “Drunken writers, deadly blonds, friendship, betrayal, and murder set against the lights of the city of angels.”

“This book breaks the mold of previous Phillip Marlowe stories and carries the reader into the realm of mystical noir.” Explains Jon Steel (Angel City). “More than that, the book is literature disguised as ‘detective fiction.’ ”

Dare Me author Megan Abbott‘s choice the second Marlowe book, Farewell My Lovely. “Yes, the choice may seem too easy, too obvious, but that’s become the perennial LA of my imagination. Tracking Marlowe from downtown to the Santa Monica pier to every far corner, it’s LA at its most glamorous, its most haunted, its darkest.”

Bill Crider (Compound Murder) chose what I thought was his funniest. “The Little Sister has one of the all-time great rants about LA. Check it out.”

Chandler’s influence can be seen in a lot of favorite authors who came after him, as well:

Keith Rawson (editor of Crime Factory Midnight Shift): “L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy. Because there’s no crime writer who better describes the bad old glamorous days of Los Angeles better than Ellroy.”

James Grady (Mad Dogs): “Not one novel, but James Ellroy’s “L.A. Quartet” — The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, Big Nowhere, White Jazz. I’d say Chandler and Ross McDonald, too, but Ellroy’s savagery captures the monsters in the sunshine of L.A. as wonderfully as anyone else, including Nathaniel West.”

Reed Farrel Coleman:Die A Little by Megan Abbott. Fixers, fakers, femme fatales, drugs … A fresh kind of noir/hard-boiled with Megan’s unique voice.”

Tim Bryant (Southern Select): “After Dark, My Sweet by Jim Thompson. I love Thompson’s writing because he gets into the mind of the protagonist better than most. Therefore, he gets into the mind of the reader.”

Bill Crider: “Ross Macdonald’s The Chill: Lew Archer, Oedipal madness, the past smacking the present in the face, and a great climax.”

Tom Pitts (Piggyback) “Just to upset the apple cart, I’ll throw in Get Shorty. Can’t have LA without picking on Hollywood. And as a side note, I’m reading Point Doom by Dan Fante right now. It’s a good LA crime story. HeJohn Fante’s son. Ask the Dust’s John Fante, speaking of great books about Los Angeles.”

Thomas Pluck (editor of Protectors): “I’m a big fan of Robert Crais, and I like Elvis & Joe Pike too much to choose just one, so I’ll go with a standalone – The Two Minute Rule, which really stuck with me.”

Court Merrigan (Moondog Over The Mekong): “For me it’s The Grifters. My first & still favorite Thompson.”

Barry Graham (When It All Comes Down To Dust): “Larry Fondation has written about how few great contemporary novels depict LA. I would say the perfect exception to that is Bangers by Gary Phillips.”

Lynn Kostoff (Late Rain): “While not a novel, Richard Lange’s story collection Dead Boys does a fine job of capturing a lot of contemporary LA.”

And then there are our Noir At The Bar Performers:

Tim Hallinan: “There are so many great ones. For now, I’m going with Edward Wright’s Clea’s Moon. Set in 1949 or thereabouts, it follows a skip tracer who was once the star of a grade-z western serial before he was thrown in jail. I think Wright writes L.A, in the 40s/50s better than anyone else who didn’t actually write then.”

Jesse Sublett: “Another one about old LA that’s a little off the beaten track that captures the mist at night and the twisted glories is A Fast One by Paul Cain. I swear when I’m sitting in my friend’s back yard near Whitley Heights where the book starts, you can still feel it.”

Josh Stallings:Devil in a Blue Dress. Walter Mosley nails the hard side of LA, and the transient feeling that we all came from some place else and this was the last stop before hitting the sea. Yes Chandler, yes Elroy but also yes Mosley.

Marcia Clark:The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler, L.A. Confidential, by James Ellroy, and Blonde Faith, by Walter Mosley. I know they get mentioned by everyone, but there’s a reason for that. That said, I love Jim Thompson (especially The Grifters and After Dark My Sweet), but he never felt LA-specific.”
Come out this Saturday to Opal Divines and experience LA in Austin.

(A note to those attending. We will have the latest title of each writer on sale at the event, but a limited amount of room for their backlist. We have most of the titles on the shelves at BookPeople, so stop by there if you want a favorite signed.)

KILLER AMBITION: An Insider’s Look at a Prosecutor’s Job

Killer Ambition

With her Rachel Knight series, Marcia Clark gives us a fresh take on the legal thriller. The books work more as buddy procedurals than courtroom dramas, as the L.A. special prosecutor and her police pal Bailey Keller find the evidence to put the bad guys away. With her latest, Killer Ambition, Clark breathes new life into her own series.

The story starts with a dark prologue, then Rachel and Bailey are called to a kidnapping case. The victim is the daughter of a powerful director. The case hits Rachel hard. Her sister went missing when she was young. Clark captures the Hollywood life with it’s assistants and indulgences. Counselor and cop manipulate both as they manuever through the story’s well crafted plot twists and turns, meeting the girl’s friends and her father’s associates. The kidnapping leads to a double murder trial.

This is the first time Clark has had Rachel Knight try a case in court and she gives us a great insider’s look at a prosecutor’s job. Much is focused on the jury, both the selection and the connection a lawyer has with certain members. As someone who has known her share of high profile trials, she shows the stress of working in that spotlight. She shows how the media, the pundits, and politics all come into play. You know how many classic private eyes like Marlowe and Lew Archer once worked in the DA’s office? Clark gives you an idea of why they may have left.

I can’t get into much detail about the book without giving away it’s strong reveals and surprises. I can say that the story delivers a narrative tension that had me fighting the need to read ahead for the jury’s verdict. In Killer Ambition, Maria Clark presents further evidence that in the current crop of L.A. crime writers, she is one of the best.

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Marcia Clark will be read from Killer Ambition at our next Noir At The Bar this Saturday, July 20 at 7pm, at Opal Divine’s (3601 S. Congress). She’ll be joined by Timothy Hallinan, Josh Stallings and Jesse Sublett.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Marcia Clark

Last year Marcia Clark hit the crime fiction scene with her novel Guilt By Association. Introducing her series character Los Angeles special prosecutor Rachel Knight, it was more hard boiled procedural than legal thriller, and it was one of the fresher reads of 2011. MysteryPeople will welcome Marcia to sign and discuss her follow up, Guilt By Degrees, this Friday, April 20th at 7pm. I recently asked her a few questions about being a new writer, how she has adapted her former life into hr fictional one, and her love of jazz.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: What was more challenging for you, your first book or the follow up?

MARCIA CLARK: Though the second book was no walk in the park, I’d have to say the first book was the more challenging one. Setting up a series requires the creation of a set of characters and a world. And both the people and the world have to offer possibilities for stories and character development that are as limitless as possible, in the hope that you get to write a whole bunch of sequels. In order to do that, you have to think carefully about all your elements.

For example, I think it’s important to give each character a back story that can entertainingly – and believably – have impact on them in current time. In addition, I needed to decide how much of that back story to reveal in the first book. In Guilt by Association, I alluded to a traumatic event in Rachel’s life but didn’t delve into it. I did that for a couple of reasons: first of all, no normal person spills their whole life story the first time you meet them – you know the weirdo who corners you at a party and tells you about how they got dumped by their first boyfriend in junior high because they wouldn’t let him get to second base? That’s not the kind of person who can carry a series because who wants to hang out with a self-obsessed blabbermouth like that? Second of all, Rachel Knight is a private person who has a hard time sharing her feelings even with her best friends and the traumatic event in her childhood is a secret she’s kept from everyone.

She ultimately does reveal it in Guilt by Degrees, but only because circumstances force her to.

So those were some of the challenges in the creation of the book itself. But the most challenging thing about the first book was the devotion of time and energy with no clue as to whether it would ever see the light of day. At the time I wrote it, I was handling a full case load (I take court appointed criminal appeals cases) and I squeezed the book into what little down time I had. Between the book and my day job, I was working about 120 hours a week. I knew I was going to keep at it until I pushed the book into the best shape I could manage, but I also knew that I couldn’t keep up that work pace forever. This book was it: do or die. So…no pressure, right? Laughing.

This is the classic struggle with nearly all first time authors. What if, after all this time, all this hard work, no one likes it? You work alone, night after night, with no assurances that anyone besides your most long suffering friends will ever read it. At times, I felt as though I was kicking the stall in an abandoned barn. But what was worse, albeit of briefer duration, was the waiting period after I sent the book out for the first time. Let me tell you, sending that first book out was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

MP: Rachel’s police detective pal, Bailey, plays an even larger role in this book. One of the strongest elements in the book is their relationship. How did you design her as a foil for Rachel?

MC: I needed a counterpoint for Rachel. Someone who could be the voice of reason when Rachel’s impulsiveness or recklessness – or emotional baggage vis a vis her love life – got out of hand. But it also had to be someone who was similar enough to her in temperament and common interests that they’d believably wind up as best friends. My goal was to set up a dynamic that allowed for them to bond in both their work and personal lives, with a good mix of comedy and drama. It was very important to me that Rachel and company not only be great at what they do, but also know how to have a good time. And although they rank on each other whenever possible, underneath it all, they have a great deal of mutual respect and admiration for one another.

MP: Guilt By Degrees seems a bit more hard boiled with Aryan Brotherhood gangs and more action. Did you set out to write a tougher book?

MC: I really didn’t. The thing that drives me is the need to create a story that will keep my interest. Writing a book is a marathon, so the story has to be intriguing enough to make me want to stick with it.

The initial spark for Guilt by Degrees was the true story of the homeless man in New York who saw a woman being attacked on the street. He fought off her attacker, which allowed her to escape, but in the process, he got stabbed by the attacker. He lay dying on the sidewalk for hours as people stepped over his body. That story stuck in my heart. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I used that as my jumping off point.

MP: The police officers themselves have more influence and you show a range of personalities in the profession. What did you want to get across to readers about those in the profession?

MC: Really just that: to show the range of personalities in the police force and to explore the fact that there are good and bad, moral and amoral, people in every profession. Not all sociopaths are deranged serial killers…or Wall Street executives – kidding!

MP: You’re relatively new to crime  fiction. What did you discover about the form after you dove in?

MC: Freedom! The absolute joy of getting to set up my own case, create my own evidence, weave it all together and do it “My Way.” Laughing. Having spent so many years dealing with reality, it was very liberating not to have to deal with those limitations. Not that there aren’t limitations in fiction. We forgive a certain amount of literary license, but if an author pushes us too far outside the boundaries of believability, that we don’t forgive. It’s a fine line, as they say, and you risk losing your audience if you fall on the wrong side of it.

MP: On a panel, you said you missed the camaraderie of being a prosecutor. Have you found some with other crime writers?

MC: To an extent. But it can never be the same. You can share stories, discuss plot points, or commiserate over the hard work – because creating novels is unquestionably that – but you always wind up alone in front of your computer for hours, days, weeks, and months at at time. Writing is a solitary endeavor.

MP: You’ve given Rachel your love of jazz. What three albums would you suggest that would turn people on to the form?

MC: Oh no! Lists of favorites always make me go cross-eyed. The minute I choose, I smack my forehead and say: “wait, what about…?” But okay, here goes: “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis, “Takin’ Off,” or “Headhunters” by Herbie Hancock, that leaves me with only one more? But…there’s still Mingus, Jobim and Getz, Coltrane, Sonny Rollins…AARRGGGH! How to choose? I guess, in an effort to collect as many as possible, “Jazz at Massey Hall,” with Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Charlie Mingus, and ‘Charlie Chan.’

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Join us at BookPeople this Friday, April 20 7pm when we welcome Marcia Clark in person!

Meeting Marcia Clark – Yes, THE Marcia Clark

Last year I had the opportunity to meet Marcia Clark when I was asked to interview her for the Texas Book Festival. I had not read her debut, Guilt By Association, at that point even though it earned great reviews and many of my friends liked it. When I did, I ended up finding both the book and the author a very pleasant surprise.

I’m not always attracted to legal thrillers, but I discovered Guilt By Association to be much more than that. It has many of the conventions, following Rachel Knight, a driven special prosecutor with a dark past, through the inner workings and politics of the L. A. courts as she looks into the suspicious death of a colleague while taking over his last case that could be tied to his death. What sets it apart is Rachel’s actual job. As a special prosecutor, she starts a case at the scene of the crime, gathering as much evidence as she can. It gives her books more of a procedural element as Rachel works with the police, particularly her close friend Detective Bailey Keller. A fan of Conelly or Craise should be able to enjoy these books as a L. A. crime novel.

I also found out that Marcia is completely different from the person I had seen on TV. Most of us know her from her days as a prosecutor on the OJ Simpson trial and now as a CNN legal expert, giving her take on Casey Anthony and the Trayvon Martin shooting. None of these are subjects that demonstrate one’s lighter side. When I met her, we were at ease with each other immediately. She’s warm and charming with no pretense. She’s always looking for a reason to laugh or trying to get one out of you. Her interaction with the audience at the Book Festival was great, treating them all like old friends.

Her latest book, Guilt By Degrees, is a slightly grittier book than Association. Rachel takes on the possible murder of a homeless man, leading her through Skid Row, Beverly Hills, and even an Aryan Brotherhood compound. It’s not long before she discovers the crime could be linked to the death of a police officer. Bailey has a larger role this time, creating a great female buddy dynamic not often seen in the genre.

We will be getting copies of Guilt By Degrees early so that we have them in time for Marcia Clark’s reading and signing on Friday, April 20th, at 7PM. I hope you’ll come out and take advantage of this opportunity to meet a rising star in crime fiction. Take it from me, you won’t be disappointed.

Three Books to Read Right Now

The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen

One of the most hyped books this year and it deserves all of it. A kidnapping thriller tied to today’s times. Laukkanen keeps the pages flying yet always keeps you tied to the characters.

Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

This debut by LA Special Prosecutor Marcia Clark surprised everybody with its strong pacing and character. Now out in paperback, this legal mystery owes as much to Robert Crais and Harlan Coben as it does to Grisham. Marcia will be here April 20th with her follow up, Guilt By Degrees.

The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks

The latest from store favorite Parks featuring his put-upon Jersey reporter Carter Ross. This time a colleague’s murder might be tied to Carter’s paper. Few balance hard boiled and humor as well as Parks.