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.