If you like Ross Macdonald…

We have our eyes on Ross Macdonald’s 100th birthday, this upcoming December 13th. If you are a fan of his or holiday shopping for someone who is, here are three books that might entertain a Macdonald fan.


9781440553974Hose Monkey by Reed Farrel Coleman

When it comes to exploring human sin and emotion like Macdonald, no one comes closer than Reed Farrel Coleman. In this look at at two marginalized men, an ex-cop and the detective that shut down his career, Coleman takes a murder mystery into the darkness of the human heart and provides a look at post- 9-11 New York life with grit and poetry. You can find copies of Hose Monkey on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 


9780312938994A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Grafton takes Macdonald’s mantel of looking at California society and its vivid characters from top to bottom. She even uses the same fictional name, Santa Teresa, as her fictional stand in for Santa Barbara where her PI, Kinsey Malone, operates. You can find copies of A is for Alibi on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


9781400033591Black Maps by Peter Spiegelman

While he has a more upfront back story, John March shares the lonely knight errant quality of Lew Archer. His Wall Street stomping ground also shows the relationship between place and perpetrator that Macdonald often cited. You can find copies of Black Maps on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

MysteryPeople Review: X by Sue Grafton

xIn anticipation of Sue Grafton’s appearance here at BookPeople, here’s a review from bookseller Michael Stuart of Grafton’s latest alphabet mystery, X. Grafton comes to BookPeople to speak and sign her latest Monday, August 31st, at 7 PM. Find out more event details.

  • Post by Michael Stuart

It’s been a while since I checked in with Kinsey Millhone, the narrator of Sue Grafton’s “alphabet mysteries.” I’ve missed a few letters here and there But I’m glad I made the trip back to read Grafton’s latest mystery, simply titled X.

Although time moves a little slower in the fictional town of Santa Theresa, CA (it’s still the 1980s) the action doesn’t slow down. Kinsey is juggling several cases involving old secrets and hidden identities.

Read More »

Women’s History Month: Recommendations of Women (and Men) in Crime Fiction, From Women in Crime Fiction

-Post by Molly

March is Women’s History Month, so at the beginning of the month, I reached out to many of my favorite female authors writing in crime fiction today for some thoughts and recommendations. Jamie Mason, Meg Gardiner, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Megan Abbott, and Lori Rader-Day all sent replies along, posted earlier this month (Mason’s response posted separately), and now we bring you some of their amazing recommendations. Not all the authors listed below are currently in print (although some soon return to print), and this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the best crime writers today (a virtually impossible task). I’ve added quite a few of the following to my “to read” list. Enjoy!


monday's lieJamie Mason Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Josephine Tey
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Daphne du Maurier
  • Patricia Highsmith
  • Agatha Christie

Second Wave Authors:

  • Ruth Rendell
  • PD James
  • Patricia Cornwell
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Sue Grafton
  • Kathy Reichs

Contemporary Authors:

  • Gillian Flynn
  • Tana French
  • Laura Lippman
  • Megan Abbott
  • Tess Gerritsen
  • Kate Atkinson
  • Lisa Lutz
  • Mo Hayder
  • Sara Paretsky

phantom instinct

Meg Gardiner Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Agatha Christie
  • Mary Shelley (as innovator of suspense fiction)
  • Patricia Highsmith

the unquiet deadAusma Zehanat Khan Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Ngaio Marsh
  • Dorothy L. Sayers (and the Jill Paton Walsh continuation of the Wimsey/Vane series)

Contemporary Authors:

  • Deborah Crombie
  • Imogen Robertson
  • Charles Finch
  • Charles Todd
  • Alan Bradley
  • Louise Penny
  • Susan Hill
  • Ariana Franklin
  • Anna Dean
  • Martha Grimes
  • Morag Joss
  • C. S. Harris
  • Stephanie Barron
  • Laurie R. King
  • Laura Joh Rowland
  • Elizabeth George
  • Peter May (in particular, The Blackhouse)
  • the late, great Reginald Hill

feverMegan Abbott Recommends…

The following books are soon to appear in the Library of America’s collection Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s, edited by Sarah Weinman

  • Dorothy B. Hughes’s In A Lonely Place
  • Vera Caspary’s Laura
  • Elizabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall
  • Margaret Millar’s Beast In View

the black hourLori Rader-Day Recommends…

Classic Authors:

  • Lois Duncan
  • Agatha Christie
  • Mary Higgins Clark

Contemporary Authors:

  • Tana French
  • Catriona McPherson
  • Denise Mina
  • Clare O’Donohue
  • Sara Gran
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Alan Bradley
  • James Ziskin

No Boys Here: Women and Crime Fiction, Guest Post by Jamie Mason

I reached out to several of my favorite female crime novelists at the beginning of March, hoping to get a few thoughts on the work of female authors in the detective genre and the representation of female characters. I was extremely gratified to get immediate responses from several wonderful authors. Check back on Thursday for some additional thoughts, and to (belatedly) kick off MysteryPeople’s March ode to women in crime fiction, I bring you a guest post from a recent visitor to the store.

Jamie Mason is the author of Three Graves Full and Monday’s Lie, and writes intense and atmospheric detective novels brimming with psychological insights. She stopped by the store in February for a signing – you can find signed copies of her latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com – and I was privileged to review her latest novel for the blog. MysteryPeople also got a chance to interview her about her debut novel.

– Molly


– Post by Jamie Mason

I came into my reading life, or more specifically into my interest in crime fiction, when the idea of crime fiction as the province of male authors was nearing its end. Of course, there were plenty of female authors in the foundations: Josephine Tey and Dorothy Sayers and Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith and Agatha Christie, just to list a few. There has always been Agatha Christie.

There have always been women crime writers, but by the time my own my reading turned to crime as one of its staple foods in the early nineteen-nineties, finding female crime novelists wasn’t much of a thought for me. The wave of Ruth Rendell and PD James, Patricia Cornwell, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, and Kathy Reichs was the one I rode out, never wondering if the Captains wore skirts. And isn’t that nice?

I read both men and women crime writers (in fact, I read both male and female writers across any number of genres) but if I take a longer view, you can see the rise of women crime writers over these last three decades. If you regard To Kill A Mockingbird as crime fiction, you can say that the very best in crime writing is floated on the kite strings of double x chromosomes. There are plenty of examples.

“The very best in crime writing is floated on the kite strings of double x chromosomes…”

But I think one of the best things about crime fiction, especially now, is the egalitarian feel of the results. Good crime fiction is good crime fiction. And there’s so much good crime fiction out there just now. Men buy Gillian Flynn and Laura Lippman (as well they should.) Tana French’s readers come in all plumbing. Megan Abbott is brilliant. So are Tess Gerritsen, Kate Atkinson, Lisa Lutz, Mo Hayder, and Sara Paretsky. And these are only the names that come quickly to me. We are Legion.

It’s still important now, for the time being, that we make a point of women in crime fiction, a point of women in very many  slots and chutes of achievement, really. But I have hopes that the horizon where gender is no longer an important distinction is a little closer in the crime writing world than it is elsewhere.  The future of crime fiction might very well be a small-but-illustrative map of a place where we won’t need initials or neutral pseudonyms to play coy with our genders – a place where good work speaks for itself.

23 Letters In, Grafton Still Makes Creative Choices

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Sue Grafton has consistently churned out clever, engaging books. That is no easy feat when you’re more than 20 books into a series. Her latest book, W Is For Wasted, is no exception. I read it this past weekend and loved it.

With many popular authors, their first few books are great and fascinating, but then once they’re established, they fall into a formula and their editors take a nap. Fortunately, there are authors like Grafton out there who demonstrate how to be a bestselling author while still making creative choices.

Grafton, for those unlucky enough to have not heard of her, is famous for her alphabet novels. The series started in 1982 with A is for Alibi, followed by B is for Burglar, and so on. Now that she has made it all the way to W, some fans, including me, speculate about what will happen after she hits Z. Will she start the alphabet again? Or maybe do it backwards?

The books always feature private detective Kinsey Millhone and there are some other recurring characters including her adorable neighbor, Henry. But for the most part, each book is a completely separate adventure. Some are slower paced with no huge surprises, but there are others with lots of twists. W is for Wasted has some definite twists and turns. There are a few predictable ones, but others will catch you off guard.

It is not immediately clear what the “wasted” of the title is alluding to. If I explained it, I’d ruin the story. So, I’ll just let you know it’s fun getting there. The cast of characters in this book includes the eccentric and, of course, those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. In this book there are two main plot lines, and even I wasn’t able to predict how all the individual stories would connect until right before it became clear in the book.

You can get a sample of the book at this link. The link takes you to the prologue of the book where Grafton starts Kinsey down the road of the two major plot lines. Two people have died. One was an eccentric, scheming private eye she didn’t admire, Pete Wolinsky; The second is a homeless man whose full name isn’t learned until about halfway through the book. A piece of paper is found on this man with Kinsey’s name and phone number. You eventually learn what led to Pete and the homeless man’s death. Feel free to make your guesses but odds are you will be wrong.

Grafton makes some interesting choices in this book. She takes on topical issues. For example, what happens to a man accused and convicted of a horrible crime when he is exonerated years later? How will his kids (now adults) receive him? But the most interesting parts to me (without revealing spoilers) are Kinsey’s interactions with three friends of the dead homeless man. She takes on the issue of how the homeless are treated in our society today. Don’t worry, there’s no preaching or political propaganda here. Rather, Grafton lets the characters make the arguments. It is no easy task to write a mystery that avoids getting bogged down when it also decides to take on serious, societal topics. But, Grafton pulls it off with apparent ease.

Maureen Corrigan, of NPR’s program Fresh Air, says of the series, “Makes me wish there were more than twenty six letters at her disposal.”

Patrick Anderson of the Washington Post wrote, “Grafton’s [alphabet] novels are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.”

I couldn’t agree more. If you’re a fan of Grafton’s alphabet books, then you can’t go wrong with W is for Wasted.

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Signed copies of W is for Wasted is available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com (while supplies last).