Noir is to Literature what the Blues is to Music: MysteryPeople Q&A with Bill Loehfelm

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

In The Devil’s Muse, Bill Loehfelm puts his New Orleans patrol woman Maureen Coughlin into a mystery that takes place over one long night when a shooter cuts loose during the Mardi Gras parade. A great take on the procedural, The Devil’s Muse has a strong sense of immediacy and presents an insider’s look at New Orleans.

Bill will be returning to BookPeople for our New Voices In Noir Panel, this upcoming Wednesday, July 26th, at 7 PM, but we were able to get some questions to Bill before the event. He’ll be joined by Rob Hart and Jordan Harper for the panel discussion. 

MysteryPeople Scott: I know you said you were wary about doing a story set around Mardi Gras since it’s a cliched backdrop for authors to use when writing about new Orleans. What did you see as the in to making the story fresh?

Bill Loehfelm: A couple of years ago, a friend and I were discussing writing about New Orleans, talking about avoiding clichés and the postcard version of New Orleans that we’re constantly selling. I told him I had a list of rules, of things I’d never write about, and one of them was Mardi Gras. But instead of agreeing with me, he challenged me, pointed out I had a lot of experience as a waiter and a bartender, a lot of inside experience with Mardi Gras that others didn’t have. That comment put the idea in my head of a Mardi Gras story told from the inside out, a story from the point of view of someone inside the infrastructure of the holiday. It gave me a fresh take on the subject.

When the opportunity for a Maureen Coughlin one-off came, it seemed to perfect time to take up that challenge.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Bill Loehfelm

Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Let The Devil Out is Bill Loehfelm’s fourth book featuring Maureen Coughlin, once a cocktail waitress with addiction issues, now a new patrolwoman in New Orleans. The militia group she dealt with in Doing The Devil’s Work returns, with Maureen reluctant to work with the FBI, but ready to take the militia group on. We caught up with Bill to ask him a few questions.

MysteryPeople Scott:  Once again you put Maureen through the ringer with the events from previous books also taking a toll on her. What did you want to explore about her this time?

Bill Loehfelm: I felt it was time for her face down some of the psychological and emotional things she’s been turning away from since she moved the New Orleans. She’s done a geographic cure for the trauma she endured in New York (in The Devil She Knows), and she’s made significant changes in her life, but there’s darkness and rage in her that she’s never faced, and those emotions have started leaking out of her in bad ways. I wanted this book to present a real moment of truth for her. She’s started down the path toward corruption and self-destruction in the last two books, toward letting the evil in others rule her life, and she needs to make some crucial choices.

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Noir at the Bar on February 16, with Trey Barker, Bill Loehfelm, Lou Berney, & Jesse Sublett

Post by Scott M.

On Monday, February 16th, starting at 7 pm at Opal Divine’s, we are back for our first Austin Noir At The Bar for 2015. We have a range of talented authors who will be reading from their hard boiled work. Let Jesse Sublett’s murder ballads put you in the mood, endure my reading (indulge me, the 16th is my birthday), then hold on.

trey barkerTrey R. Barker is a Texas native, now working in Illinois law enforcement whenever he isn’t writing high octane noir. His books, examples including Exit Blood and Death Is Not Forever, are greasy, 200 MPH, high body count hard boiled. Also an accomplished horror writer, he borrows from that genre to give a fever dream edge to his crime fiction.

20080813_Loehfelm_Bill Loehfelm migrated to New Orleans from Staten Island. He uses the backdrop of his adopted city for his series featuring Maureen Coughlin, who moves from cocaine-using cocktail waitress to policewoman. His latest novel is Doing The Devil’s Work The books are atmospheric with a street view of police life, corruption, and racial divides. Picture The Wire and Treme blended together.

lou berneyLou Berney is best known for his funny but edgy books, Gutshot Straight and Whiplash River, featuring nice guy wheelman Shake Bouchon. He gets more serious with his latest, our MysteryPeople Pick Of The Month, The Long And Faraway Gone. The book combines two stories, a PI-style investigation and a thriller, that run parallel to each other. As the story begins, a detective gets a case that forces him to come back to his childhood home, where he survived a horrific robbery in his teens. It is an ambitious novel that never loses its pace while delving into deep themes.

jesse sublettJesse Sublett will cap off the night with a reading from his latest, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime that Rocked The Capital, a true crime tale of the Overton Gang, one of our town’s more colorful robbers and vice lords. You can then purchase a book and mingle with the authors. Release date March 9 – pre-order now.


The party starts at 7PM at the Opal Divine’s at 3601 South Congress. Books from each author will be available for purchase to be signed at the event. Booze. Books. Crime Fiction.