Mark Pryor to Visit the Murder in the Afternoon Book Club

  • Post by Scott M.


On Monday December 19th, at 1 PM on BookPeople’s 3rd floor, The Murder In The Afternoon Book Club is celebrating the holidays with one of our favorite authors. Mark Pryor has steadily made a name for himself with his hero Hugo Marston, head of security for the U.S. Embassy in Paris. He’ll be joining us to discuss the first book in the series, The Bookseller.

The story starts with one of Hugo’s main loves, books. When approaching the bookstall of Max, a dealer he does business with, he spots the old man being shoved into a car that speeds off. Out of his jurisdiction and with the help of a beautiful Parisian journalist, Claudia Roux, and his loose-cannon buddy with the CIA, Tom Green, Hugo is off to save Max. His search leads him to a shadowy world involving books, drugs, and secrets from the Second World War.

Mark is incredibly fun to talk to, so it should be a great discussion. We will be meeting at 1PM, Monday, December 19th on the third floor. The Bookseller is 10% off to those who attend.Since this is a holiday party as well as book discussion, everybody is asked to bring some kind of treat.

You can find copies of The Bookseller on our shelves and via The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club will meet to discuss The Bookseller with special guest Mark Pryor on Monday, December 19th, at 1 PM

If You Like Myron Bolitar & Win….

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780525955108Recently, Harlan Coben delivered a new Myron Bolitar novel, Home, after what seemed like a long wait. One of the keys to the success of this series is his relationship with his rich and lethal buddy, Win. If you like great banter with a sketchy sidekick who always has the hero’s back, here are three other crime fiction bromances I’d suggest. You can find copies of Coben’s latest on our shelves and via Signed copies available!

Hugo Marston & Tom Green

Created by Mark Pryor

the booksellerFirst Book Together: The Bookseller

Hugo Marston, the square-jawed head of security at the American Embassy in Paris, has a sense of morality that could put a boy scout to shame. For morally ambiguous tasks, he often relies on a friend from his FBI days, Tom Green. Tom works with the CIA, has no filter and will drink anything in a bottle and chase anyone in a skirt. Anybody who has a dealt with a self destructive, yet entertaining friend will recognize these two.

Spenser and Hawk

Created by Robert Parker

9780440171973First Book Together: Promised Land

Hired gun Hawk was brought in by the bad guys during the fourth book in Robert B. Parker’s series to take on white knight PI Spenser. and ended up as the textbook detective-sidekick relationship. Whether written by creator Parker or torch carrier Ace Atkins, these books show how this kind relationship is done.

Easy Rawlins & Mouse

Created by Walter Mosley

devil in a blue dressFirst Book Together: Devil In A Blue Dress

Takes the peaceful-hero-violent-sidekick relationship to a higher, more complex level. While the sociopath buddy often allows the crime fiction hero’s hands to be clean with the results obtained, Easy is all too aware of his complicity in bringing Mouse into his dangerous games. It also shows how society and racism can push two unlikely people together.

Mark Pryor in the New York Times!

Mark Pryor is one of our favorite authors, local or otherwise (although he does just so happen to be local), and writes the Hugo Marston novels, starting with The Bookseller, and most recently, the prequel The Button Man. Although Pryor works as a prosecutor in town, giving him plenty of material for crime fiction, he sets his novels in the American embassy in Paris, and his novels are perfect for the armchair traveler.

Pryor was recently the subject of an AP article that landed in the New York Times with MysteryPeople weighing in on our good friend. You can congratulate Mark on the 24th when he joins us here at the store to interview Jamie Mason about her latest book, Monday’s Lie. Click here to read the full New York Times article.

Mark Pryor joins us to interview Jamie Mason about her latest, Monday’s Lie, on Tuesday, February 24, at 7 pm on BookPeople’s second floor. You can find copies of Pryor’s and Mason’s oeuvre on our shelves and via

If you like Harlan Coben…

Harlan Coben’s popularity is no surprise. His standalone thrillers have “what if” plots that Hitchcock would have killed for and his series featuring Myron Bolitar has some of the best buddy banter in mysteries today between the hero and his wealthy and lethal sidekick Win. If you’re shopping for a Coben fan, who has devoured all his books, here are some suggestions for a perfect gift.


One Minute Gone1. One Minute Gone by Davis Hansard

Single father Porter hall gets three calls in succession – two about his soon-to be ex wife and one about a lunch date with his girlfriend. When the girlfriend misses the lunch date and goes missing all together, Porter’s search links the three calls to some serious movers and shakers using him as a sacrificial pawn. Moving in both pace and emotion with an everyman hero you can’t help but root for.

the bookseller2. The Bookseller by Mark Pryor

if you like the buddy antics of Bolitar and Win, then you’ll dig the relationship  of square-jawed hero Hugo Marston, Chief Of Security for our embassy in Paris, and his hard drinking, skirt chasing, CIA pal Tom Green who has no verbal filter whatsoever. The two are out of their jurisdiction as they try to find a kidnapped bookseller, thrust into a plot involving drug cartels and France’s past sins. Some of the best banter around.

ben rehder gone the next3.Gone The Next by Ben Rehder

A meeting of the two best parts of Coben. Legal videographer Roy Ballard catches a glimpse of who he thinks might be a recently missing girl. The fact that he lost his own daughter to an abduction doesn’t make him a believable witness to the Austin PD. Obsessed with finding the girl and possibly easing his own guilt, he uses his own skill set and finds help from his partner, sexy smart-ass Mia. Their relationship keeps the story humorous, while the plotting keeps it harrowing.

Copies of the above listed books can be found on our shelves and via

MysteryPeople Review: THE BUTTON MAN, by Mark Pryor



-Post by Molly

Mark Pryor grew up in England, moved to Texas, and now works as an assistant district attorney in Austin. He is also the author of the Hugo Marston series, and has just released a fourth book in the series. Mark Pryor will join us this Saturday, September 13, at 3pm, to speak and sign his latest release, The Button Man.

Mark Pryor has just released The Button Man, a prequel to his Hugo Marston series. What’s the twist? This one is set in London, not Paris, and Marston has just begun his new career as head of US Embassy security. At the sleepy embassy, he spends much of his time researching Jack the Ripper and trying to link the serial killer with other, American serial killers, in particular the Servant Girl Annihilator of late 19th century Austin.

One night, while on the historical prowl for evidence in a graveyard, Hugo comes across a more recent corpse – a dead woman, hung by the neck, face covered in a white shroud. The corpse turns out to be an American starlet. The starlet’s husband, also an actor, is in jail for killing a farmer while driving drunk. If there was not enough scandal already, the actor, upon release, won’t stay put in the American embassy and Marston must cooperate with British police to find the rogue American before he, too, pops up dead in a graveyard. Marston’s search leads him to a mysterious manor in the countryside used for secretive and rather salacious purposes, and he must get aid from a mysterious young woman with a strange name and a double life.

As Marston continues to search for the American actor, he gains many an opportunity to ruminate over the current state of affairs in society, including such topics as England’s lack of a death penalty, the possibility of redemption for criminals that have served their time, and the extreme susceptibility to exposure and blackmail of those members of society who lead taboo lives. In general, however, Marston pursues his target with vigor, leading to quite a few thrilling chase sequences as Marston grows closer to the truth. Pryor carefully structures the narrative to include just as much conversation as action, and every scene obeys the old writing adage to either move the plot forward or aid in character development.

The stunning English scenery, like the Parisian backdrops of Marston’s previous adventures, shines throughout the book, and Pryor has a particular gift in bringing the spookiness of the old country to an American audience. Pryor makes good use of cemeteries, manor houses, tiny English villages, and even Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum to impeccably meld place and setting. His portrayal of England – sunk under the weight of history – almost makes me glad to be an American, although many of the historical issues with which British characters in the story grapple are still very much part of the American present. Fans of the series will find that despite the difference in setting, Pryor’s latest fits in perfectly with the rest of the Hugo Marston novels, and I look forward to many more Marston stories to come.

You can find all the Hugo Marston books – The Bookseller, The Crypt Thief, The Blood Promise, and The Button Man, on our shelves now and via Mark Pryor will read from and sign his new novel Saturday, September 13, at 3 pm, on BookPeople’s second floor. All BookPeople events are free and open to the public.


January Pick of the Month: THE BLOOD PROMISE

With his first two novels, Mark Pryor established himself as one of the best thriller writers out there. His head of US embassy security, Hugo Marston, has become one of the most engaging good guys out there. With his latest, The Blood Promise, he ups the ante and the emotion.

Hugo is assigned the task of protecting a senator visiting a country chalet to broker a treaty with the French. When the senator believes someone has broken into his room, the story takes on an Agatha Christie, house-full-of-suspects vibe. Soon it turns into a race across France and gets very personal when one of Hugo’s colleagues is in jeopardy.

Pryor proves you can have fully realized characters and still have a fast moving plot. Any of his supporting characters, Inspector Garcia, CIA buddy Tom Green and his journalist girlfriend, Claudia, all could be the protagonists in their own books. Pryor fleshes them out through behavior and dialogue, never pausing as we get to know them.

A perfect example is his latest character, Camille Lerens, who could possibly be one of the first transgender detectives in a major role. The brilliance in his depiction is that Pryor makes so little of it. Everything we need to know about Leren’s orientation is dealt with through her interrogations of Hugo and his allies. Her dealings with the womanizing Tom Green are truly memorable.

The Blood Promise shows Pryor’s growth as a writer. He’s upped the emotion and and character complexity with a style that calls little attention to itself. You don’t see the writing, just a hero and his friends you can’t wait to see again.


The Blood Promise will be on our shelves at BookPeople January 14. You can pre-order a signed copy via Mark Pryor reads from and signs The Blood Promise at BookPeople on Friday, January 17 at 7pm

Why Paris?

~Guest Post by Mark Pryor, author of The Bookseller

I’m often asked, “Why Paris?” Or, “Paris because you’ve lived there?”  Or even, “Paris, well that’s not very original.  Why not Helsinki or Constantinople?”

All fair questions, but all with multiple answers.

Some of the reasons I chose Paris are sentimental although, for the record, I have never lived there.  But I was in Paris with my wife when the initial idea for The Bookseller came to me, wandering the streets and sampling its cafes like a good tourist.  Prior to writing the book, I’d visited Paris maybe ten times and loved it since the first. It was clear to me that if I can’t be there in person, then why not travel there in my books?  Seems like a decent compromise to me.

Other reasons are practical: the idea that came to me involved bouquinistes, and I don’t know of any other city that has them.  I suppose I could have traveling bouquinistes but . . . actually, you’ve just given me an idea for a story. The main practical reason, though,  is that I know Paris and I do adhere to the maxim, write what you know,  at least to some degree.  (Perhaps I’d tweak it a little to say, Write what you know, or what you can properly research.)

Anyway, once made the decision had definite implications for The Bookseller and, of course, for the other books in the Hugo Marston series.

First, the choice of Paris opened a door for me.  When I picked a distinctly Parisian bookseller I was then allowed (required, really) to invent a history for him.  Hugo had to look into his background and that, in turn, unlocked the door to history, let me scroll back in time to World War Two and play with some issues that interested me, have always interested me: how we chose which side we’re on in the midst of conflict, how we decide to put what’s right (or wrong) up against immediate concerns like life, love, and family.  I suppose I could have examined those issues elsewhere but the French resistance and the German presence in France during that period have always had a powerful force in books and films, and (perhaps more importantly) in my imagination.

Paris’s history in WW2 also gives me something a lot of other cities don’t: a physical beauty that was left untouched by bombs and the hideous ogres of 1960s and ’70s architecture.  In other words, it’s a wonderful city for Hugo and me to walk around and for us to describe to the reader.  And while it’s a huge place, of course, its major attractions are almost all within walking distance of each other.  Hugo, or any character in the books, can so easily stroll down a wide boulevard or disappear into a narrow side street to find adventure.  In Washington DC he’d be sitting on the metro, which is no fun for a man of action.

Paris is also a place of moods.  This is so true of the main artery that divides the city in two, the River Seine.  Sometimes soft and rolling, sometimes churning and angry… the weather dictates some of those moods but the many beautiful bridges that span the Seine give me a chance to use it like a mirror, have Hugo or others stop like every other Parisian and tourist to stare into the water and have it reflect back their own moods and emotions.  You know how it is, when we’re at the beach on a summer’s day the ocean is the place we came from, a place teeming with life, a playground.  But at night, when the wind is up and dark clouds are rolling overhead, it’s the most dangerous thing in the world, an unforgiving beast waiting to swallow the unwary.  So it is with the historic River Seine, a character in the books to some degree, and an unpredictable one at that.

Paris also offers predictability: a wealth of pleasures open to my characters.  Street-side cafes where Hugo can sit and watch the world go by, the sordid delights of Pigalle for Tom’s more basic instincts, and restaurants galore where they can meet up and talk.  And always tourists, who may be fun for Hugo to watch and his best friend Tom to complain about, but I have to admit they are even more fun to kill off when needs must.

One of the aspects of Paris I have yet to take advantage of (but I will now that I have the green light from my editor) is its central location in Europe.  From Paris’s many train stations Hugo can zip down to Madrid or Rome, be in London in a couple of hours, or take a short flight to Moscow.  And of course, wherever Hugo goes I have to go there first, to scope it out for him.  I’m the advance party and that’s always an adventure for me.

One of the nice things people have said about The Bookseller is that it gives the reader a sense of Paris.  Even a couple of people who didn’t like the story said so.  That’s a huge compliment and one I hope to earn for future books because so many have written about Paris, made it their setting.  But I truly believe the city is so rich, has so much to offer, that a thousand writers much better than me could continue to explore the place and never run out of wonder.

As for Helsinki, well, those Scandinavians are doing pretty well without my help.

As for the other suggestion, well, as everyone knows it’s Istanbul not Constantinople.  And believe me, from Paris Hugo can get there any time he pleases: the three-day train ride takes him through Germany, Austria and into Romania, places steeped with history and the potential for trouble.  Especially if Tom’s on the train with him.


MARK PRYOR is an assistant district attorney with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, in Austin, Texas. He is the creator of the true-crime blog DAConfidential. He has appeared on CBS News’s “48 Hours” and Discovery Channel’s “Discovery ID: Cold Blood.” This is his first mystery novel.

A Night with The Bookseller

It was an honor to host Mark Pryor last week for the launch of his debut novel, The Bookseller, and not just because he gave me a a signed copy of the book wrapped in official crime scene tape. Mark, an Austin ADA who was brought up in England, has kicked off what looks to be an engaging series in the vein of the Jack Reacher novels with his character Hugo Marston, the head of security for the American embassy in Paris.

Over eighty people showed up to the event, including famed author David Lindsey. When Pryor was searching for authors’ brains to pick about writing, Mr. Lindsey invited him out for coffee. (For all you Lindsey fans, he told me he’s at work on something new.)

Mark said he wouldn’t do a reading. “The character I created was a Texan and you don’t want to hear my British accent doing him, especially when he speaks French.”

He did volunteer to answer the question most writers hate – where does he get his ideas? His answer, with no irony, was “On vacation.”

He said The Bookseller came about from wandering through Parisian bookstalls. There were books of all kind, some worth nothing, some priceless. When the idea came to him of a book containing something hidden that a group of people were looking for, he and his wife searched the city for paper and pen. They spent over three hours in a cafe jotting down ideas.

The vacation paid off. The Bookseller a is fast paced adventure that uses plot, setting, and character to create one engaging tale. Mark will have another Hugo Marston book out by the summer. We look forward to having him here again.

MysteryPeople Review: THE BOOKSELLER

Mark Pryor gives us a fresh take on the action-thriller with his debut, The Bookseller. He delivers stalwart hero Hugo Marston, the US embassy’s head of security in Paris, and gives him a good number of guns and bad guys to face. He also gives Hugo a great sidekick, a number of characters in a moral grey area, and tosses him into a situation where old crimes meet new in The City Of Lights.

Besides being a man of action, Hugo is also a bibliophile; something that leads him into his first adventure. On visiting Max, the elderly operator of a bookstall, he witnesses the man being forced into a car. Out of his jurisdiction, Hugo’s search for Max takes him through every social strata in Paris, encountering drug smugglers, and a sexy journalist. The plot becomes more layered when Hugo discovers Max was a Nazi hunter who specializes in collaborators.

Pryor does a wonderful job of giving us the thriller standards with a hero to root for and a twisting, page turning plot with a breezy writing style while also bringing new life into the genre. Much of this comes from Tom Green, Hugo’s semi-retired CIA friend. Tom serves as a reactionary counterpoint to Hugo. With the banter and loyalty between the two, Pryor introduces a fun buddy element to a genre filled with lone wolves. The use of Paris is also important. It comes off more as a character than a backdrop for set pieces. Pryor views it as a place still healing from its occupation wounds. If that isn’t enough, he also gives us an interesting and unique glimpse of the book world with it’s different stores, sellers, and collectors.

The Bookseller is one of those ideal weekend reads. It’s tight and flows with a wonderful steady pace and contains some good guys you like to spend time with. It also gives us a sense of place and history as well as morality – black, white, and gray – that we carry with us after the last page. I can’t wait to see what else Mark Pryor has in store with Hugo Marston.

MysteryPeople welcomes Mark Pryor to BookPeople to speak about & sign The Bookseller on Friday, October 12 at 7pm.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor is a debut author who is as fascinating as his hero Hugo Marston, head of security for America’s Paris embassy. Raised in England with an American mother, Pryor works as a prosecutor in Austin Texas (he’ll publish a true crime book about one of his cases next year.) His novel, The Bookseller, deals with rare books, drug cartels, and the French history of collaborating with the Nazis. It’s also a fun buddy adventure. Mark was kind enough to answer some of our questions about himself and his book.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: One of the the things that make this a unique thriller is your lead’s job as head of security for the American Embassy in Paris. How did you choose that occupation?

MARK PRYOR: It was mostly a matter of practicality.  I needed Hugo to have a job that gave him access to police resources to solve crimes, and to a group of fellow Americans so that I didn’t have to make him speak in French the whole time.  The Embassy was a good choice because it provides those to him, and also allows him to travel, which I plan to have Hugo do in future novels.  Additionally, it lets him meet (and guard/save/investigate) all manner of interesting if shady dignitaries, which will also be a feature of upcoming books.  As well as the practical side, I think it’s an interesting and somewhat secretive role, so I have a little bit of discretion or leeway with how I have him act, what I make him do.  At least until the State Dept. comes knocking.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: Part of the mystery is tied to French citizens who collaborated with the Nazis. What drew you to that?

MARK PRYOR: As an Englishman, the Second World War was a large part of my consciousness growing up, I think Americans would be surprised how powerful its effect on the national psyche remains.  Additionally, I have always been fascinated by the impossible moral choices people sometimes face.  The Second World War provides so many examples of that, from the grand scale (do we use an atom bomb?) to the individual dilemmas that tortured the souls of ordinary citizens.  On the micro level these decisions usually came down to self-preservation v. doing the ‘right’ thing, and I’m well aware how mind-numbingly tough those choices were for people.  So I wanted to explore that issue and take it a step further by showing how these difficult choices didn’t just affect those making them (or those being betrayed) but how the effects lingered on and touched the lives those people’s children.  Two important characters, Max and Claudia, both suffer as a result of horrendous decisions made by other people and they deal with their suffering very differently but in neither case, I think, can we make absolute value judgments about their reactions.  But I would love for people to read about these dilemmas, think about them and wonder what they might do in that situation.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: The Paris setting is very evocative. Does it come more from experience or research?

MARK PRYOR: Thank you, one of my goals with the book was to bring a sense of Paris to the reader.  I have been there many times and my mother lives in the Pyrenees mountains, in the south west of France, where Hugo visits on his quest for answers.  Online research is so easy to do these days, with mapping tools and the internet generally but I think to effectively portray a place like Paris you have to spend time there.  In fact, The Bookseller was conceived in Paris and I began writing it in a cafe there.  I’m headed back in December to do some digging around for my third Hugo novel and, as you might imagine, I don’t view the necessity of in-person research as a hardship, not one little bit!

MYSTERYPEOPLE: One of the other standouts in a thriller like this is the fun buddy relationship that Hugo has with his CIA buddy, Tom Green. Besides back up and resources, what else do you think Green does for him as a character?

MARK PRYOR: Thank you for picking up on that because I absolutely love dreaming up and writing the scenes with Tom in them.  In fact, I see him as a release for Hugo, and for me as a writer.  Hugo is old-fashioned, he might cuss now and again but he’s pretty stoic and you never quite know what he’s thinking.  Tom, on the other hand, will shoot from the lip every time.  That makes him an enormously fun character to write because being with him is like being with my best two or three friends after a martini or two.  But he’s also a great foil for me and Hugo professionally – in most crime fiction, you have to push the boundaries of an investigation, take a chance here and there.  Hugo can’t do that very often but Tom can, and once Tom kicks that secret door open, well, Hugo might as well follow him through.  But Tom also allows Hugo to show his softer side because they don’t just go busting doors down together, they are true friends.  You’ll see that in the second and third books, when the pair find it necessary to look out for each other outside of the job.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: What makes Hugo a character worth following for you as a writer?

MARK PRYOR: I would like to think he has some depth.  Of all the characters in The Bookseller he may be the most decent, honest, and likeable but I also think he’s the hardest one to get to know.  He’s reserved and watchful, and his private life is just that.  As a writer, this let’s me develop him over the series in almost the same way I develop a plot, dropping in clues as to his personality here and there, showing him in different situations and exposing his strengths and weaknesses.  I’m into the third book now and am working on showing a side of him that will even surprise Hugo himself, at least a little bit.  I like the idea that my readers will be intrigued by him and want to get to know him, and will be rewarded by a more gradual revealing of his character in the same way you get to know a real person.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: It appears from the book you’re a bibliophile. Do you have any prize books in your collection?

MARK PRYOR: Very observant.  This is something I have always wanted to do, and still plan to.  As of right now, I don’t have a collection but I’m drawn like a moth to a flame when I stand in front of old books and one day I hope to have a library of them.  Part of the problem is knowing where to start but the other part of the problem is having kids who are equally fascinated by books and crayons… but one day!

MysteryPeople welcome Mark Pryor to BookPeople to speak about & sign The Bookseller on Friday, October 12 at 7pm. The event is free and open to the public. To order a signed copy of the book, visit or call 512-472-5050.