Two for the Road: CRIME + MUSIC, edited by Jim Fusilli, & THE HIGHWAY KIND, edited by Patrick Millikin

  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

There is something very visceral about cars and music. Cruising down a lost highway, playing a rock n’ roll station or classic country tape, conjures up emotional possibilities that anything could happen – possibly something dangerous. Two recent anthologies, Crime + Music and The Highway Kind explore the power each have on the human psyche.

Crime + Music, edited by crime novelist and Wall Street Journal rock critic Jim Fusilli, contains twenty-one stories, a fee previously published, dealing with various ways tunes interacts with either the performer or fan. Many show how a song is a haunting bridge to a dark period, such as Alison Gaylin’s meditation of vengeance on The Sunset Strip, “All Ages.” A few probe the struggle between artist and the music biz. Reed Farrel Coleman uses that theme in “Look At Me/Don’t Look At Me” with an aging pop star making a stand reminiscent of Robert Ryan’s boxer in The Set Up. Former DJ, Bill Fitzhugh does a satiric take in “Played To Death” with a serial killer targeting music programmers. Each story in this collection delivers sharp emotion, much like a song.

The Highway Kind, edited by bookseller and gear head Patrick Milliken, features everything from Model Ts to muscle cars. Like music, cars transport us to a not-too-distant-past, as in George Pelecanos’ look at brotherly love and neighborhood history, “The Triple Black Cuda.” The road proves trans-formative, as in Wallace Stroby’s “Night Run,”  in which a salesman’s cat and mouse game with a biker on the Florida interstate becomes a mini-Mad Max-style road fight. “Runs Good” by Kelly Braffet proves how just the act of purchasing a car changes you. Some like Joe R. Lansdale and Ace Atkins find humorous misadventure in car travel.

Both Crime Plus Music and The Highway Kind remind us how those things we create also create us, reflecting us. They have the power to transform as well as transport us. Read both of these books and you might not want to flip off that guy with punk rock blaring from the speakers of his Dodge as he’s cutting you off.

You can find copies of Crime Plus Music and The Highway Kind on our shelves and via 

I Could Fit Five Bodies in the Trunk of My Sedan: MysteryPeople Q&A with Patrick Millikin

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The Highway Kind is a collection of short crime fiction, dealing with cars, driving, and the road. It features crime and general fiction and even a singer/songwriter. Authors include the likes of Joe Lansdale, Ace Atkins, and Michael Connelly. We talked to to the editor Patrick Millikan about cars and crime.

MysteryPeople Scott: How did the idea of The Highway Kind come about?

Patrick Millikan: My original thought was that it would be cool to have an anthology of crime stories in which each author chose a particular car and wrote a story about it. The cars would be prominently featured. I was surprised that there hadn’t been (at least to my knowledge) a collection like it. Over time the idea morphed into something, at least in my opinion, much more interesting. As I mention in the preface, when I commissioned the stories I left the guidelines pretty open – the pieces would simply be about “cars, driving and the road.” As the stories started to come in I was surprised and intrigued by how personal, almost confessional, many of them were.

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Bouchercon Recap: Part 1

– Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery


New Orleans is a city known for sin, drinking, and corruption; a perfect place for the 2016 Bouchercon where hundreds of crime novelists, publishers, and fans meet. I’ve been going solo to these things, but this time I was joined by my fellow MysteryPeople, newly named Director Of Suspense Molly Odintz and and MysteryPeople Blogger Meike Alana to divide and and conquer. That said, I was still exhausted after I was done.

Even the panels were more rollicking than usual. When Moderator Laura Lippman spoke on behalf of Megan Abbott on their “Real Housewives” discussion, panelist Greg Herren called up Megan to see if Laura was right. for the record, she was. On a panel on vigilante justice in crime fiction Stuart Neville questioned the authors who talked about the need for a vigilante hero, by saying it is a fascist trope. A panel on the use of violence got interesting when Taylor Stevens, author of The Informationist, talked about the need for it in her writings. “Our characters are gladiators in the arena and our readers want to see them get bloodied.”

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