MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: WHERE IT HURTS by Reed Farrel Coleman

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  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Reed Farrel Coleman has a knack for getting under his leads. They are men stumbling to find who they are after life has knocked out the identity they chose for themselves. We now get to start a new journey with the latest Coleman creation, Gus Murphy, in Where It Hurts.

Gus is a former Suffolk County cop, whose job and marriage have crumbled away after the death of his son. He works as a courtesy van driver for a fading hotel. A criminal he had arrested comes to him for a favor. His own son has been murdered and the police seem to have written it off. With the help of his former priest and an immigrant co-worker, Gus delves into a tangled web of drugs, remnants of the mafia, and city corruption.

Gus lives and travels in a world of decay…Coleman uses his lyrical prose style to eloquently express the working class bars and dreary houses.

Gus lives and travels in a world of decay. Whether the the hotel he works for or the mobsters he’s up against, everything is past its glory days if it ever had them. Coleman uses his lyrical prose style to eloquently express the working class bars and dreary houses. He uses these settings to briefly and beautifully reflect Gus’s emotional state, since Gus can not completely articulate it himself.

Where It Hurts puts us on an emotionally rocky road with Gus Murphy. The path may be dark but a light can be seen. There is not just hope for his character, but for humanity as well.

Reed Farrel Coleman will be speaking and signing his latest Saturday, January 30th at  5 PM. Where It Hurts hits the shelves January 26th. You can pre-order a signed copy via bookpeople.com. Coleman additionally joins us with his latest continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone Novels, The Devil Wins. All MysteryPeople events are free and open to the public. 

Click here for further event details, or to pre-order a signed copy of the book. 

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: HIS RIGHT HAND by Mette Ivie Harrison

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  • Reviewed by Molly Odintz

Mette Ivie Harrison, Mormon, mother, and mystery novelist, burst onto the crime scene in January 2015 with her thoughtful and intense crime fiction debut, The Bishop’s WifeThe novel explores the power, privilege, and pitfalls of LDS womanhood.

Harrison’s protagonist, Linda Wallheim, a married mother of four living in Utah, aids her husband Kurt in providing religious guidance and comfort to her community. Her husband relies on Linda to reach out to those women in their congregation in need. When one of their number disappears, suspects include much of their insular community, and Linda goes on the hunt for the missing woman.

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MysteryPeople Q&A: Scott Butki Interviews Robert Crais

  • Review by Scott Butki

With The Promise, Robert Crais has taken on a difficult challenge. The Promise combines two sets of characters from separate books and puts them all in a new book. I think we have all read books where authors have tried something like this and it just didn’t work. Well, good news – this one works! Crais takes K9 handler Scott James and his dog Maggie and brings them together with smartass private eye Elvis Cole and his business partner Joe Pike.

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MysteryPeople Review: THE WRATH OF FURIES by Steven Saylor

Steven Saylor, Austinite and author of the Gordianus the Finder historical detective novels, joins us at BookPeople to speak and sign his latest, Wrath of the Furieson Tuesday, November 3rd, at 7 PM

  • Post by Molly

wrath of the furiesSteven Saylor has thrilled us for years with the adventures of Gordianus the Finder, a private detective in ancient Rome. By the power gifted to him by the historical fiction genre, Gordianus, along with his former slave/later wife Bethesda, manages to meet most important figures and be at the center of most historical events in the transition from republic to dictatorship, serving as a cheeky guide to wonders and pitfalls of the ancient world. Saylor’s wrapped up his Roma Sub Rosa series, in which Gordianus first appears, and has recently embarked on a new series, Ancient World, exploring the world of Gordianus’ youth and focusing more on events across the Mediterranean.

In Seven Wonders, Gordianus and his tutor travel to each of the seven wonders of the ancient world, parting ways, at the end of the novel, in Egypt. Wrath of the Furies takes up where Seven Wonders leaves off, in the great city of Alexandria. Gordianus, young and in love with his Egyptian slave Bethesda, recklessly risks all to travel to the midst of a war zone to rescue an old friend. He encounters treachery, obstacles, and intrigue along the way, as he races to stop the anti-Roman crusader King Mithridates, who has come up with a plan to slaughter every Roman citizen within his conquered territory.

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MysteryPeople Review: THE GUISE OF ANOTHER by Allen Eskens

  • Reviewed by Scott Montgomery, Crime Fiction Coordinator

L ast year, Allen Eskens received much praise and an Edgar nomination for his debut novel, The Life We Bury. He showed a talent for providing rich character development within a classic page turner. In his follow-up, The Guise Of Another, he uses that skill for a different kind of book, even though he brings back a couple of familiar folks.

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MysteryPeople Review: A SONG OF SHADOWS by John Connolly

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Reviewed by MysteryPeople Scott

T here is a saying that goes “There are victims of the Holocaust who are yet to be born.” A social sin that large creates an evil that doesn’t go away with a simple surrender. John Connolly explores this idea with his latest Charlie Parker thriller, A Song Of Shadows.

Charlie is staying in the small Maine town of Boreas, healing his body from wounds sustained in the previous Wolf In Winter. A body of a Florida man washes up on the beach and the murder appears to threaten his neighbor Ruth Winter and her young daughter, even though Ruth at first denies any connection. Charlie knows malevolent intent when he feels it, so he steps in with allies Angel and Louis and even his nemesis, The Collector. It is all connected to Nazi war criminals, their sympathizers and hunters, and a special concentration camp.

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MysteryPeople Review: THE WHITE VAN, by Patrick Hoffman

the white vanThe White Van, Patrick Hoffman‘s debut novel, is hard to define in subgenre. It shares the pace and plotting skill of a Jeff Abbott or Meg Gardiner thiller, but has a grittier style. Both heroes and villains in Hoffman’s masterful work would feel comfortable in the worlds of James Crumley or Andrew Vachss. One thing is certain, this is one effective book.

In the first chapter we’re introduced to Emily, a somewhat functioning drug user in San Fransisco. Her addiction leads her to follow a man to his hotel for a hit. The drug she takes knocks her out. When she awakes, others are in the room.

We feel Hoffman’s skill immediately, through a series of lucid moments Emily has between black outs. Hoffman keeps us in suspense; we are as off balance as the character. Her captors attempt to manipulate Emily into partaking in an identity theft scheme in return for a cut.  It’s too late when she learns it is a bank robbery and she’s been framed to be the suspect. With money in her hand,having come to her senses, Emily takes off.

We then meet Leo, a cop with more than questionable ethics. After his behavior gets him and his partner into a jam that only a lot of cash can solve, he hears of the robbery and Emily’s description. Now she has the honest cops, the outlaws, and the corrupt cops all after her.

Hoffman could have titled the book ‘desperation.’ Every character is in over their head. When we learn the circumstances of the people who set up Emily, we even feel for them a little. If the definition of ‘noir’ is one bad decision leading to a series of other decisions that are even worse, then The White Van is the epitome of noir. For Hoffman, a fast pace isn’t a goal for turning pages but a way to immerse us in the relentless situation his characters are in.

Like the rest of the novel, the ending has a unique feel. We take inventory of the people we’ve gotten to know through their trying and violent time. We are not sure if we have changed our minds about them, but we feel a deeper connection. Like Elmore Leonard, we have gotten to know Patrick Hoffman’s shady characters. Through these people we get the chance to see a shadow San Fransisco; one which rubs up against the work-a-day one. Will Patrick Hoffman’s next novel take the same approach on an international level? Wherever he wants to take the reader, I’m ready to go.


Copies of The White Van are available on BookPeople’s shelves and via bookpeople.com.

MysteryPeople Presents Shotgun Blast from the Past: GET CARTER, by Ted Lewis

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Ted LewisGet Carter, originally known as Jack’s Trip Back, was a turning point in British crime fiction. At the time of its publication, the U.S. was known for the tough, hard boiled style, while English crime  was associated with the more genteel drawing room side of the genre that Agatha Christie made popular. Lewis put a shotgun in Jack Carter’s hand, blowing away the Venetian vases and the stereotype.

To call Jack Carter an anti-hero is putting it mildly. Both calculating and reckless, violence is often a convenient tool for him and he makes the Mad Men guys look like feminists. Carter works as an enforcer for a London syndicate run by Gerald and Les Fletcher. He is also involved with Audrey, Gerald’s wife, who he plans to run away with, along with a chunk of the Fletcher Brothers money. He is somewhat of an English cousin to Richard Stark‘s Parker, with less distance from the reader.

In Get Carter, Jack goes back to his home in middle England, to attend the funeral of his brother Frank. Frank died in a drunk driving accident, though he wasn’t known to be a heavy drinker. This puts Carter on the road to answers and revenge, running up against the town fixer who is connected to the Fletcher Brothers.

The book gives a bleak look at England. The pretty countryside, associated with those English cozies, is populated and polluted with smokestacks. Most of the denizens of the town are rough, ugly, and seem to have a touch of inbreeding to them. It’s no wonder Carter would do anything, including crime, to get out. Yet we see how it is a part of him. Much like Hammett and Cain, Lewis used the hard boiled novel to make subtle social commentary on his country. Despite his many dark qualities, we follow Jack Carter because of his willingness to be his own man in both the criminal and British class system.

Get Carter proved that while the U.S. may have invented hard boiled crime, they didn’t have a patent on it. One can’t help but wonder how this book hit British readers in the late Sixties. A new publisher, Syndicate Books, has released Get Carter, following it with the two others in the Carter trilogy, Jack Carter’s Law and Jack Carter And The Mafia Pigeon. I can’t wait to spend more time in Jack Carter’s world.


Get Carter is available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

 

MysteryPeople Review: ROSE GOLD, by Walter Mosley

On Wednesday, October 22, at 7 pm, BookPeople is proud to host the eminent and prolific novelist, Walter Mosley. Mr. Mosley has been writing for almost a quarter century and has published books in a variety of genres. He is the recipient of PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award and is one of the most respected and dynamic writers in America today. He will be joining us to speak and sign his latest Ezekial Rawlins novel, Rose Gold.


Post by Molly

Walter Mosley wrote his first Easy Rawlins detective novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, nearly a quarter century ago. Despite taking breaks from the series to write numerous other novels (including sci-fi stories, general fiction, and other crime series), he has just released Rose Gold, his thirteenth novel to star the character of Easy Rawlins. One of the most enjoyable aspects of reading the series has been following Easy Rawlins through three decades of American upheaval. Mosley set the first book in the series in the 1940s, and twelve books later, Ezekial Rawlins has made it to the smack-dab middle of the sixties. Mosley’s last novel in the series, Little Green, followed Easy as he dove head-first in the Summer of Love trying to hunt down a wayward teenager. His next novel starts immediately after Little Green left off.

Rose Gold, loosely based on the story of Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, continues Rawlin’s journey through the chaos of mid-century America. At the start of the novel, Easy is in the midst of moving houses when a corrupt cop with a hidden agenda tracks him down and offers him some mortgage money fast. Easy reluctantly agrees to find a wealthy debutante, Rosemary Goldsmith, kidnapped out of her dorm room and held hostage by a group of wannabe revolutionaries.  The debutante’s father, a high-profile arms dealer, hires Rawlins to infiltrate the radical black power community, but Easy soon figures out this is easier said than done. His first step is to find the revolutionary group’s leader, a black nationalist ex-boxer named Uhuru Nolicé, and he quickly figures out that the police are searching for Uhuru much more assiduously than for Rosemary, and with much worse intentions.

As Easy continues the search for Rosemary, he takes the time to fix a few problems for his friends and family on the side, and throughout the novel, the reader finds frequent reminders that Easy Rawlins is happiest when defined by his relationship with his community. Walter Mosley, in the character of Easy Rawlins, has created not only an ass-kicking private eye, but also an ideal role model. One of the great pleasures of reading a novel starring Easy Rawlins is witnessing the actions of a character both likable and moral – a rare protagonist in the detective-novel world.

In the murky world of 1960s revolutionary politics, lines quickly blur between kidnapper and kidnapped, victim and perpetrator, and revolutionary and poser. Mosely’s characters use 1960s radicalism as a way to try on new identities and act out personal vendettas, and the radicals that Easy meets have a difficult time distinguishing the difference between performance and belief. Mosley does an excellent job of both portraying a society in motion and showing the parts that remain static. In particular, Mosley draws attention to police abuse towards young black men in a story that, stripped of its revolutionary framework, could be seen in a newspaper today. Both timely and timeless, Rose Gold provides an excellent addition to the canon of Mosley and a new modern classic for our shelves.


Please join us on October 22 for a visit from Walter Mosley, who will be speaking and signing his latest Easy Rawlins novel, Rose Gold. Copies are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. All BookPeople events are free and open to the public. The signing for this event will be ticketed.

MysteryPeople Review: THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, by David Liss

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Post by Molly

David Liss left his dissertation on 18th century British literature to write historical detective novels full-time, and after enjoying many of his novels, I firmly believe he made the right choice. His first novel, A Conspiracy of Paper, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and he has now written eight novels, almost all of which are firmly immersed in an eighteenth century world. Liss has recently published his first novel since 2011’s The Twelfth Enchantment, and his new book, The Day of Atonement, makes for a perfect Jewish New Year read.

While Benjamin Weaver, the thief-taker hero of many of Liss’ books, makes a cameo appearance, The Day of Atonement is a stand-alone novel. The plot follows Sebastian Foxx, born Sebastião Raposa, raised and trained by Benjamin Weaver. Ten years before, at a tender age, Sebastian was forced to flee Lisbon after the arrest of his converso parents by the Portuguese Inquisition. After years of anger, a new commitment to practicing Judaism, and not much resolution of his childhood traumas, Foxx decides to return to Portugal and find his revenge. Sebastian aims to not only avenge himself against his family’s betrayer, but also to target a priest of the Inquisition, and possibly reconnect with his lost lady love. Upon his arrival in Lisbon, Sebastian quickly becomes tied in the fortunes of those around him and builds a group of allies to aid him in his quest. As the novel continues, Foxx finds himself embroiled in complex schemes and facing much more than a simple quest as he weighs his own goals against the safety of those around him.

Liss’ enthusiasm for the time period is present in every corner of this novel. He carefully constructs the world of eighteenth-century Portugal in a way that brings the Lisbon setting alive while also firmly grounding the reader in the novel’s historical context. A small brushing-up on the Portuguese Inquisition may be in order (I scanned the Wikipedia page), but the plot is as engaging as the historical context is detailed, and readers at all levels of interest in the time period will find Day of Atonement to be just as satisfying as the rest of David Liss’s oeuvre.

While I was reading The Day of Atonement, I couldn’t figure out if the book was more of a Jewish version of The Count of Monte Cristo or a Inquisition pastiche of Europa, Europa mixed in with Inglourious Bastards, but whichever of these comparisons you choose to appreciate more, know this: David Liss can write some seriously ass-kicking Jewish characters. Despite the book’s title, The Day of Atonement may be a bit too enjoyable to read on Yom Kippur itself. I recommend reading it the day after.


Copies of The Day of Atonement are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.