Our February 16th Alibi: Noir at the Bar Round-up!

  • Post by Molly O.

We had one of our most enjoyable Noir at the Bar events to date this past February 16th, both in terms of great stories and good company. We started off the evening with a set of murder ballads from Austin legend Jesse Sublett, then moved from there to a reading from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery, quickly followed by a toast in honor of Scott’s birthday.

Our next reading came from George Wier, who read a selection from his new vigilante noir, Errant KnightNext up, screenwriter and sportswriter John Schulian read from A Better Goodbyehis debut novel, a hard-boiled tale of down-and-out boxers in backstreets LA.

Schulian was followed by horror and mystery superstar Joe R. Lansdale, reading from his new Hap & Leonard novel, Honky Tonk Samurai, his East Texas accent matching the comical violence on the page perfectly.

Jesse Sublett finished out the night with a reading from his true crime history of the Overton Gang, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime That Rocked the Capitol

noir at the bar group photo
FROM LEFT: Authors John Schulian, Joe R. Lansdale, and George Wier, bookseller Molly Odintz, author and Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery, and author and musician Jesse Sublett

Thanks to everyone who was able to attend this wonderful event! Our next Noir at the Bar will take place May 12, and will feature authors Paul Charles, Les Edgerton, and Jesse Sublett, with one more to be added to the lineup.

More details to come closer to the date of the next Noir at the Bar event! 

MysteryPeople Q&A with Jesse Sublett

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The essential Jesse Sublett – writer, musician, and Austin institution – will be joining us again for tomorrow’s Noir At The Bar at Opal Devine’s, where he will read from his latest, 1960s Austin Gangsters, and perform some deliciously creepy murder ballads. Thanks to Jesse, John Schulian – sportswriter, screenwriter, and now, with his debut novel A Better Goodbyecrime writer – will be joining us as well. 

 Noir at the Bar starts at 7 PM at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field. This event is free and open to the public, and we will have copies of each author’s latest for sale at the event. Joe R. Lansdale, author of the Hap & Leonard series, and the best thing to come out of East Texas since Janis Joplin left Port Arthur, will be reading from his latest Hap & Leonard, Honky Tonk Samurai. Local author George Wier will also be joining us to read from and sign his latest novel, Errant Knight, set in downtown Austin.

We caught up with Jesse to see how things were going with his latest book, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime That Rocked the Capitol, his music, and life in general.

“My favorite expression is “It sure beats working.” That’s how I feel about music, writing, and art, even though a lot of labor is involved—suffering and frustration, too—but the love of doing it removes the sense of it being work. I’ve always said that criminal characters and musicians (and other artists) are alike in that they just can’t see themselves going the day job route.”

MysteryPeople Scott: 1960s Austin Gangsters was released last year, and interest in the novel is still going strong. What has the book brought to you after its release?

Jesse Sublett: It’s astonished me that a book published 11 months ago still has momentum and still brings people to me, telling me how much it means to them, that they just bought a copy for their dad, or they bought ten copies for the family. People keep bringing me new stories about the Austin crime and vice scene of the 1960s. I’ve been meeting retired cops, children of notorious gangsters and thugs, who are proud that their family members have been authenticated by my book.

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MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: HONKY TONK SAMURAI by Joe R. Lansdale



  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

When Joe Lansdale writes a Hap and Leonard novel, you know you’re in for a good time. The misadventures of the red neck liberal and his gay black Republican partner-in-crime supply a lot of laughs and action. With Honky Tonk Samurai, the boys are back and joined by all their rowdy friends.

By now in the series, Hap and Leonard are officially private eyes. Hap’s girlfriend, Brett, has bought the agency from their friend, Marvin Hanson, who is now chief of police. Their first case is for a salty old woman who wants to find her granddaughter. The clues quickly lead to a used car/prostitution/extortion ring. when the bad guys call on an inbred family of psycho-assassins to do their dirty work, the boys put out the call, rounding up their friends like good ol’ boy PI Jim Bob Luke, reporter Cason, the beautiful and highly skilled hitwoman Vanilla Ride, and Cason’s sociopath friend Booger, like the magnificent seven with fewer and weirder members.

For the fans of the series, it is like getting together with an old friend, especially the one that just got out of prison.

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2016 Preview: Back to Back Events!

  • Post by Molly Odintz

As we wait patiently for the wild mood swings of a Texas winter to die down, we’ve got plenty of events coming up to strike a mystery lover’s fancy – no matter the weather outside. Jeff Abbott ushered in our 2016 events this past Tuesday, speaking and signing his latest thriller, The First Order.

Coming up at the end of the month, Reed Farrel Coleman, a long-time favorite, comes to visit with two new books: Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins,  a Jesse Stone novel, and Where It Hurtsthe first in a new series and our Pick of the Month for January. He’ll be here to speak and sign his latest on Saturday, January 30th, at 5 PM.

Read More »

Crime Fiction Friday: “Play Date” by Mike McCrary


We’re very happy to have Mike McCrary, author of Remo Went Rogue joining us Tuesday, October 6th, for our Noir At The Bar at Opal Divine’s. He’ll be reading alongside Jesse Sublett, Stuart Neville, and Gabino Iglesias. Mike has a cinematic eye and ear as well as one twisted sense of humor. Here’s a bit of nastiness that appeared on Shotgun Honey.

“Play Date” by Mike McCrary

“Charlie smirks, “It’s a game.”

Trish gulps, wincing in pain as if she swallowed a wasp, “I don’t want to play.”

“You liked playing with me a few months ago. Different game, but you wanted to play then.”

Read the rest of the story.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Andrew Hilbert

Andrew Hilbert is a gonzo god of Austin publishing. A publisher and editor as well as writer, he’s drawn to society’s less pretty side. His dark satire punctures holes in consumer culture and looks at the loser as a work of art (even if it is sometimes absurdist art). His novella, Death Thing, looks at booby trapped cars, vigilantism, and the politics of ordering at McDonald’s. We caught up with the man to talk about it.

MysteryPeople Scott: How did the idea of Death Thing come about?

Andrew Hilbert: Someone hit me from behind when I lived in San Antonio. I waved it off because it looked like no big deal but the next day, when I opened the trunk, it wouldn’t shut. I had to jerryrig it to lock knowing full well that if I opened it again, I’d have to spend half an hour shutting it again. Then it struck me. If someone really wanted to ruin my day, they’d stuff a dead body in there and when I finally had the means to fix the damn trunk, I’d be thrown in jail. So that’s where it all started; The paranoid delusions of a man in San Antonio.

MPS: How did segmenting the story into three different points of view help you tell it?

AH: It originally was supposed to be three different stories taking place in the same universe. I wrote the second chapter first, but halfway through Gilbert’s story I realized I could connect everything on a continuous story line. Breaking everything up from there was just an exciting way to get multiple perspectives on some of the horrendous events of Death Thing but it was also fun to know that characters are dropping into other people’s story-lines with no knowledge of each other.

MPS: The story takes place in LaPalma, California. What made that the right setting?

AH: I grew up there and I know it as well as my reflection. It’s the typical suburb. It’s one square mile, relatively peaceful, and the cops spent their surplus on totally unnecessary assault rifles. Death Thing is just an illogical extreme of when these kinds of small town politics get out of hand.

MPS: You’re also an editor and publisher. How does that affect your writing?

AH: I don’t know that it does too much. I can spot the goofy stuff writers do much more easily when someone else does it than when I do it. But I’m trying to train myself.

MPS: You quote Bukowski at the begining. What about his writing do you hope to incorporate in yours?

AH: There’s a realism and conversational tone that Bukowski is a master at capturing. I hope that I can be a tenth as true as his writing is. But that poem is about how all the little things add up to make a person crazy. It’s never a big thing. It’s always a shoelace. Tiny, seemingly insignificant truths make the story.

MPS: You’ll be attending our July 22nd Noir At The Bar. How much should an author drink before a reading?

AH: As many free drinks they’re allotted by the host. So how many is that, Scott?

Come by Noir at the Bar at Opal Divine’s on Wednesday, July 22nd at 7 PM for readings from CJ Howell, Brad Parks, Jesse Sublett, and Andrew Hilbert. Copies of each author’s latest will be on sale at Opal Divine’s for signing purposes after the speaking portion finishes up.

Noir At The Bar with Andrew Hilbert, Jesse Sublett, CJ Howell, and Brad Parks Happening This Wednesday


This Wednesday’s Noir at the Bar should be a lot of laughs. Every guest author in attendance – Jesse Sublett, C.J. Howell, Brad Parks, and Andrew Hilbert – is known for the humor in their work. Their characters’ rough escapades provoke as much laughter as gunfire.

andrew hilbertAndrew Hilbert is the zen anarchist of Austin publishing. his own novella, Death Thing, starts with Gilbert, a white, middle-aged man fed up with his car being broken into, so he sets up a brutal booby-trap for the next thief to come along. Soon he’s on a bloody spiral involving a bizzarro cop, a vigilante organization, two slacker drug dealers, and fast food carnage. This book is wrong in all the right ways. Read a review from Dead End Follies. Death Thing will be available for sale at the event. You can also find copies on our shelves, or call to reserve a copy. 

cj howellCJ Howell’s novel, The Last Of The Smoking Bartenders, has been the book people have been telling their other avid reader friends about for the last year and a half. The story revolves around Tom, a man living off the grid, convinced he’s a government agent out to stop a terrorist attack on Hoover Dam. He treks across the modern West populated with disenfranchised Navajo and fringe dwellers, creating a path of havoc and arson in his wake. There is no other other novel to compare to it. The Last of the Smoking Bartenders will be available for sale at the event. You can also find copies on our shelves, or call to reserve a copy.

brad parksBrad Parks is a naturally funny man, so it is no surprise his series character Carter Ross often views the situations he is in from a humorous angle, even if they are dire. In his latest, The Fraud, Ross is juggling a series of carjackings tied to the country club set and the pregnancy of his girlfriend/managing editor. it is a great introduction to a fun series. The Fraud will be available for sale at the event. You can also find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

Jesse SublettWe will also have music and a reading from Jesse Sublett. His true crime book, 1960s Austin Gangsters, follows the Overton Gang, whose criminal deeds provided a lot of black humor. 1960s Austin Gangsters will be available for sale at the event. You can also find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

We’ll all be down at the Penn Field Opal Divine’s, 3601 Congress, at 7PM, Wednesday, July 22nd. All of the authors’ books will be available for sale at the event. Join us for a drink and more than a few laughs.

MysteryPeople Q&A with BRAD PARKS

The Fraud is Brad Parks’ latest mystery to feature Newark, NJ reporter Carter Ross. In The Fraud, Ross juggles piecing together a connection between two carjacking murders and managing his anxiety over his own impending fatherhood. Brad will be joining us for our Wednesday, July 22nd Noir at the Bar (starting at 7 PM at Opal Divine’s) and allowed us to do this little interrogation with him.

MysteryPeople: The Fraud deals with carjacking. What do most people not know about the crime?

Brad Parks: This delves into an issue dear to the hearts of New Jersey criminals: boosting cars. From the 70s through the 90s, Newark and Elizabeth swapped back and forth being the car theft capital of the nation. They practically taught hot-wiring in elementary school. (Note to potentially irate Newark and Elizabeth school officials: the previous sentence employs a literary device called “hyperbole.” Please don’t take it too seriously). Anyhow, automakers eventually wizened up and started making cars that are impossible to hotwire. This left modern-day car thieves with no choice but to forcibly take a car from its owner with the keys still in it. Thus, in the well-intentioned hope of deterring car theft, we’ve actually replaced a non-confrontational crime (grand theft auto) with one that is quite violence prone (carjacking). As I say in the book: it’s the law of unintended consequences, and in Newark it remains well enforced.

MP: The relationship between Carter and Tina is fun. What do you like exploring in it?

BP: I’ve always consciously tipped stereotypical conventions on their ear when dealing with those two: Carter is the one seeking a long-term committed arrangement, while Tina just wants booty calls. Obviously, now that she’s pregnant, things are getting a little more serious. But I think the thing I like is that while Carter may be the protagonist in this series, he’s not calling the shots in his love life. There’s no question who is the dog and who is the tail.

MP: Carter now has several interns to help him out. Is there one in particular that is really fun for you to write?

BP: Careful readers of the series will note that, other than Tommy Hernandez–the intern who has been Carter’s constant sidekick since the debut–the rest of the interns only get one book to shine before they’re ushered off the page. So in book two, Eyes of the Innocent, we got Sweet Thang. Book three, The Girl Next Door, was Lunky. And so on. Well, I was doing a library show in Cuyahoga County, Ohio a few years back, and as soon as I entered the room, a gentleman in back held up a poster that said, “BRING BACK SWEET THANG.” How could I refuse him? I promised him Sweet Thang, aka Lauren MacMillan, would make a return someday. And in The Fraud, she does. And, yes, I enjoy writing her very much.

MP: As a former reporter, what do you want to convey about the job?

BP: I’d like to think I bring some humanity to what can be a faceless occupation. Because they’re supposed to be unbiased and impartial and all that hokum, reporters often appear to be unfeeling about the news they print and indifferent to its consequences. Trust me, we’re anything but. Hopefully, Carter reminds readers that newspaper reporters bleed too.

MP: How has Carter changed since Faces Of The Gone?

BP: When the series began, Carter was this happy, go-lucky bachelor without a lot of responsibility beyond making sure his cat got fed once in a while. He enjoyed cracking wise and snickered at dick jokes. As THE FRAUD begins, he’s on the verge of fatherhood and, if he can ever wear Tina down, marriage. Those things have obviously raised the stakes in his life and made him more serious, more contemplative, more–dare I say it–mature. That said, I don’t think he’s ever going to stop snickering at dick jokes.

MP: You’ll be attending our July 22nd Noir At The Bar. How drunk are you planning to get before you read?

BP: I shouldn’t admit this, because it ruins my noir street cred. But I’m such a lightweight it typically only takes half a beer to ensure that I am feeling no pain. Let’s just say I won’t be signing up to be your designated driver, Scott.

MysteryPeople welcomes Brad Parks, along with Andrew Hilbert, CJ Howell and Jesse Sublett, to Opal Divine’s on Wednesday, July 22, at 7 PM for another great Noir at the Bar.  You can find copies of Parks’ latest novel, The Fraud, along with books from each author attending Noir at the Bar, on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Copies will also be available for purchase at Opal Divine’s during our Noir at the Bar event.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Jamie Kornegay

Jamie Kornegay is both an independent bookseller and a debut novelist (needless to say, my new hero). His novel, Soil, has earned a ton of praise since its release last month. The story is about a foiled young farmer, who discovers a body on his property when he is checking out flood damage. His discovery of the body sends him on a paranoid spiral, both comic and tragic. Jamie will be reading at our May 4th Noir At The Bar, which gets going at 7 PM at Opal Divine’s on South Congress. He was kind enough to answer some questions about his book, his setting and how being a bookseller helped him.

MysteryPeople: What drew you to the idea of farming and the earth as a major element in the story?

Jamie Kornegay: I’ve lived most of my life in a rural setting, so the land, for me, has always held intrinsic drama. It lives and changes. It’s your friend and your enemy. So the landscape was first in my mind. Then I conceived a story about a man who finds a dead body on his land, and, since I live in a heavily agricultural region of Mississippi, I made him a farmer. In order to know just a little of what I would be writing about, I planted a garden in my backyard. This was in the late 2000s, when organic farming was becoming a thing, thanks largely to people like Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, who came to my bookstore in 2009 and really got me fired up about growing a kitchen garden. And then I became obsessed, making compost and growing uncommon vegetables and reading about biointensive methods. The first chapter of Soil is the most autobiographical, where Jay develops his ideas about a progressive agriculture. And then he and I part ways, and he goes off the deep end.

MP: Jay is a character that you can easily laugh at and look down at, but you have us hold out hope and root for him. How did you approach him as a character?

JK: My initial image was a man not unlike Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, someone compelled to cover up a crime. In Jay’s case, he didn’t actually commit the crime, so I had to regress and uncover what kind of man would jeopardize everything he has to absolve himself of this crime, or at least the appearance of a crime. Turns out he was a man who had lost everything. And I studied this long and hard, trying to imagine what I would do if I was against the ropes like this so completely. Even given his reasoning, I would have called the police and reported the body. But that’s no fun, so I said, let’s see what would happen if he doesn’t call the police but attempts to solve this himself. It’s a story about self-sufficiency, so it made sense to me that he would do this. If a reader can’t see him or herself making that leap, then they must consider that a man bound up in nature like Jay will often take the more primal course.

MP: Obsession is a character many of the characters share. What drew you to that as a key element?

JK: It’s in tune with motivation, trying to understand who these people are. Any interesting person has a passion, a prevailing interest in something. What’s interesting to me about these characters is how they keep these obsessions to themselves, like secrets.

Little vices. Jay has many, among them marijuana, which only exacerbates his paranoia. For his wife, Sandy, it’s eating. For the deputy, Danny Shoals, it’s sex. These obsessions are their crutch, their way to escape the world and their troubles.

MP: This being your first book, did you draw from any influences?

JK: Certainly there are many influences. For this novel in particular, the primary influences were Dostoevsky and Patricia Highsmith for the dread and psychological intrigue. For the humor, it was Charles Portis and Barry Hannah, my writing teacher in college. For the intricacy of structure, the influences are as diverse as Faulkner and Tarantino. Those are the conscious influences, but there’s no telling what other writers and filmmakers are echoed in this book.

MP: How did working as a book seller influence your writing?

JK: All day I get to talk to readers about the books they love. So I was conscious of the reader as I wrote this — whether it be my wife, a bookstore employee, the loyal little old lady customer who I knew would buy my book, even if I warned her against it. I didn’t let this idea of them limit what I wrote, only to make me get to the point of the story and not belabor it with internal pontification and reams of exposition and long, digressive, paranoid rants. It was fun to try and balance the needs of the reader with honest artistic expression.

MP: Mississippi is like Texas, L.A., and New York City, in that each author has a different take on it. Describe your literary Mississippi.

JK: I think, also, that a writer’s take on a place will change with each story. You characterize Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha by taking into account his dozen-plus novels set there. Likewise, I’d hope that any stories I write set in Mississippi will reflect some different aspect of the place. But as for Soil, I see this version of Mississippi the way an outsider might experience it, without the strong sense of community that is so prevalent here. My version is almost a man against nature scenario, where Mississippi is a writhing jungle bent on destroying a man. It’s a place of easy rolling hills, verdant fields, and stoic rivers, but also tangled vines, dust-choked backroads, and swampy bottomland. A man is never really alone in this place, but he feels a thousand miles from everywhere. The book I’m working on now is also set in Mississippi, though it’s the Delta flats. This place is virtually empty of all but farmland, yet it’s bound by communities where people rely on one another. This state is a varied, layered, and complex place, and I hope to express that as diversely as I can.

Jamie Kornegay joins us for Noir at the Bar Monday, May 4, at 7 pm, at the Opal Divine’s on South Congress. Come join us for a night of booze, books and crime fiction. You can find copies of Soil via bookpeople.com. Copies will also be available for purchase at Noir at the Bar. 

Noir At The Bar on May 4: Jamie Kornegay, Bruce Rehburg, George Weir, & Jesse Sublett

So much of crime fiction is connected to setting. Chandler had LA, Ian Rankin is synonymous with Edinburgh, and you can’t think of James Lee Burke without picturing a steamy Louisiana bayou. Our May 4th Noir At The Bar has guests that will take take you to West Texas, Mississippi,and early Sixties Germany.

bruce rehburgBruce Rehburg’s debut novel, November’s Shadow, introduces Army CID cop Steve Bodowski, who must solve the 1963 murder of a child outside his Gietsburg base while dealing with his own checkered past. Rehburg uses his own overseas experience, depicting the clash of U.S. and European cultures and drawing attention to the Nazism fresh in every one’s memory, to create a moody procedural. This will be Bruce’s first reading, so cheer him on. You can find November’s Shadow on our shelves, at Noir at the Bar, and via bookpeople.com. Can’t make it to the event? Pre-order a signed copy!

george wierGeorge Wier, a Noir At The Bar regular, will be introducing a new character as well as a deeper shade to his writing. Murder In Elysium features FBI agent-turned-West-Texas-sheriff Shane Robeling. When Benjamin LeFren returns to town after Shane helps to overturn his murder conviction, Shane takes him on as a ranch hand to protect him from the half of the populace who still believe he did it. As the sheriff observes Ben’s behavior up close and a new murder occurs in town, the sheriff sets to wondering about his own actions and LeFren’s doubtful innocence. Wier’s understanding of small town Texas allows the noir tropes to grow out of his setting’s ground. You can find Murder In Elysium on our shelves, at Noir at the Bar, and via bookpeople.com. Can’t make it to the event? Pre-order a signed copy!

jamie kornegayJamie Kornegay is another debut author. His novel, Soil, follows a failed young Mississippi farmer’s spiral into paranoia and violence after he discovers a body on his flood damaged farm. Kornegay combines Faulker’s southern Gothic with Jim Thompson’s psycho-noir, then dips it into his own unique voice for a truly fresh read.You can find Soil on our shelves, at Noir at the Bar, and via bookpeople.com. Can’t make it to the event? Pre-order a signed copy!

jesse sublett as clark gableJesse Sublett will take us back to Austin, reading from his true crime book 1960s Austin Gangsters, a wild romp with the larger-than-life criminals of Austin in the 1960s. His book has already sold out of its initial printing, and is on its second printing now. He will also be kicking off the show with some of his murder ballads. You can find 1960s Austin Gangsters on our shelves, at Noir at the Bar, and via bookpeople.com. Can’t make it to the event? Pre-order a signed copy!

The authors will hang around to mingle and their books will be on sale to be autographed. Join us at 7PM, Monday The 4th, at Opal Divine’s on 3601 South Congress and get to say you met these rising stars back when.