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From The Blog
July 25, 2017
Is it Crime Fiction or Science Fiction?
Adam Christopher
July 25, 2017
My Favorite Crime Novels and Movies
T. Jefferson Parker
July 24, 2017
Q&A with Richard Lange, Author of The Smack
Richard Lange and John Valeri
July 22, 2017
The Gothic Origins of the Contemporary Crime Thriller
Chuck Caruso
July 22, 2017
Ramming McDonald’s, Demanding Drugs, Wire Chewer, and More!
Crime HQ
Showing posts by: John Valeri click to see John Valeri's profile
Jul 24 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Richard Lange, Author of The Smack

Richard Lange is a novelist and short story writer. His full-length fiction credits include This Wicked World and Angel Baby; his story collections are titled Dead Boys and Sweet Nothing. Mr. Lange is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the International Association of Crime Writers' Hammett Prize, and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His newest, The Smack (available now), is published by Mulholland Books and has earned praise from both critics and contemporaries.

The Los Angeles-based author recently answered some questions about creative inspiration, unsympathetic characters, telling details, and boundary pushing, among other topics of discussion.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jul 21 2017 2:00pm

Review: Deadfall by Linda Fairstein

Hunting a killer within New York’s urban jungle becomes the biggest case of Alexandra Cooper’s career in New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein’s latest riveting thriller, Deadfall.

Perennial bestseller Linda Fairstein returns with Deadfall—the 19th book to feature series protagonist Alexandra “Alex” Cooper. Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades before stepping away to write crime fiction full-time, Fairstein is considered the nation’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her books are grounded in an authenticity of time and place that is nearly unrivaled among contemporaries.

Deadfall opens in the immediate aftermath of a shocking crime: a drive-by shooting outside New York City’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art that leaves District Attorney Paul Battaglia dead in Alex Cooper’s arms. Despite her intimate familiarity with violence—including having prosecuted the most heinous of cases and surviving a recent kidnapping that left her traumatized (2015’s Devil’s Bridge)—Alex can barely fathom the reality of what she’s witnessed:

[Read John Valeri's review of Deadfall...]

Jul 18 2017 1:00pm

Q&A with Marcus Sakey, Author of Afterlife

Markus Sakey is a novelist and screenwriter whose books have sold more than a million copies and been translated into dozens of languages. His titles include The Blade Itself, Good People (which was adapted for film and starred James Franco and Kate Hudson), and the Brilliance Trilogy: Brilliance, A Better World, and Written in Fire. Mr. Sakey’s newest, Afterlife (available July 18, 2017), is a standalone thriller that’s already been optioned for film by Imagine Entertainment with the author attached to write the screenplay.

Recently, the Chicago-based author generously made time to answer questions about creative inspiration, the importance of setting, genre classification, and the challenges of turning a full-length novel into a screenplay, among other topics.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jun 27 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with William Shaw, Author of The Birdwatcher

William Shaw is a novelist and award-winning pop culture journalist. He has regularly written for the UK’s Observer and Independent as well as the New York Times. Mr. Shaw’s books include the series titles She’s Leaving Home, The Kings of London, and A Song for the Brokenhearted. His newest, The Birdwatcher (available June 27, 2017), is a standalone published by Mulholland Books.

Recently, the Sussex, England-based author generously indulged a few curiosities about branching out from series books, creating complex characters, learning the nuances of birdwatching, and the differences between British and American crime novels, among other topics.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jun 23 2017 3:00pm

Review: Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer is the 6th book in the Liz Talbot Mystery series (available June 27, 2017).

Southern scribe Susan M. Boyer revisits her USA Today bestselling series with Lowcountry Bonfire—the sixth mystery to feature PI Liz Talbot. Earlier titles have won the author an abundance of accolades (including the coveted Agatha Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and nominations along with an enthusiastic readership. This newest delivers on the sass and smarts they’ve come to expect.

“Let it burn.” With these prophetic words, Tammy Sue Lyerly lights a match and sets fire to her cheating husband’s 1969 Mustang convertible, which she’s loaded up with his clothing, in the middle of their driveway. It’s the kind of spectacle that draws the neighbors’ attention (not to mention the volunteer firemen’s), so there’s a curious crowd on hand when the car’s trunk is popped open, revealing local mechanic Zeke Lyerly’s stiff, awkwardly splayed body inside. It's something a scorned wife would be expected to answer for, except Tammy barely manages to let out a blood-curdling scream before passing out cold.

[Read John Valeri's review of Lowcountry Bonfire...]

Jun 12 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Switch by Joseph Finder

The Switch by Joseph Finder is a timely, electrifying new thriller where a simple mix up throws one innocent man into the crosshairs of sinister government secrets and ruthless political ambitions (available June 13, 2017).

Joseph Finder is the New York Times-bestselling author of 14 novels. Killer Instinct won the International Thriller Writer’s Award for Best Novel of 2006, and two others, Paranoia and High Crimes, were adapted as feature films. His newest, The Switch, is a standalone thriller that has “ripped from the headlines” appeal.

As the story opens, readers meet frenzied businessman Michael Tanner—“Tanner” to his nearest and dearest—as he struggles through airport security at L.A.X. to make his departure flight home to Boston. Caught off guard by an unexpected delay, he hastily grabs a MacBook after being cleared only to later discover that the laptop isn’t his. When Tanner gains access to the device in hopes of identifying its rightful owner, he realizes that it belongs to US Senator Susan Robbins—and that the classified documents contained within pertain to a highly controversial and secretive governmental program. It’s an entirely innocent mistake, but one that has far-reaching consequences.

[Read John Valeri's review of The Switch...]

Jun 8 2017 1:00pm

Review: Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin

Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin is the 5th book in the Ellie Stone Mysteries series.

Edgar-, Anthony-, Barry-, and Lefty-nominated author James W. Ziskin infuses his fiction with the types of factual flourishes that breed an unmistakable sense of authenticity. A linguist by training, he had bicoastal career experiences in print and photo journalism and film production before settling in Seattle and making a name for himself in crime fiction. Ziskin’s newest, Cast the First Stone, is the fifth in his critically acclaimed Ellie Stone Mysteries series. 

February 1962: “Girl reporter” Ellie Stone lands a plum assignment when she’s asked to profile rising star Tony Eberle for the New Holland Republic. Eberle, who got his start in local theater, has just been cast in his first feature Hollywood film, and the newspaper’s publisher wants to showcase their hometown boy made good. Despite a premonition of disaster that’s sidelined her rival, Ellie departs New York for Tinseltown the next day and enjoys an uneventful flight. But when she arrives at the studio for her big interview, Ellie discovers that Eberle is nowhere to be found—and that his job, too, has vanished.

[Read John Valeri's review of Cast the First Stone...]

Jun 6 2017 11:00am

Review: DIS MEM BER by Joyce Carol Oates

DIS MEM BER: and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates is a meticulously crafted, deeply disquieting collection of seven short stories centered on girls and women confronting the danger around them and the danger hidden inside their turbulent selves.

To say that Joyce Carol Oates is prolific would be an understatement. In addition to novels, literary criticism, memoirs, and poetry, she has delved into the macabre for a myriad of short stories—many of which have been collected throughout the years. These compendiums include: The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror, Jack of Spades, and The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares, which won the 2011 Bram Stoker Award for Short Horror Fiction. Her newest, DIS MEM BER: and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense gathers together seven works published between 2015 and 2017.

The collection opens with the titillating title story, which is narrated by Jill—an 11-year-old girl who develops a habit of sneaking off with Rowan Billiet in his sky-blue Chevy. Rowan is an ambiguous relation who has inclinations that Jill-y doesn’t quite understand but leave her feeling strangely exhilarated. Their joyriding comes to an unceremonious end on the night that Jill fails to coax two schoolgirls into the car and is dumped on the side of the road during a rainstorm. Though she’ll never see him again, Rowan’s name soon becomes synonymous with unspeakable crimes.

[Read John Valeri's review of DIS MEM BER...]

Jun 2 2017 1:00pm

Review: You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron

You'll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron is an addictive novel of psychological suspense about three generations of women haunted by a little girl’s disappearance and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to the truth (available June 6, 2017).

New York Times-bestselling author Hallie Ephron comes from an impressive lineage of writers, but the mystery genre remains hers alone. A four-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, she first co-authored a five-book series with Donald Davidoff under the pen name G. H. Ephron before going solo with 2009’s Never Tell a Lie. Three female-driven standalone novels followed. Her fifth, You’ll Never Know, Dear, sticks to that formula while showcasing yet another progression of her storytelling abilities. 

The book takes place in a present that has largely been shaped by the past. Forty years ago, four-year-old Janey Woodham went missing while under the watch of her older sister, Lissie. Gone, too, went a porcelain doll that was made in her likeness. Every year since that fateful day, the girls’ mother, Miss Sorrell, has placed an ad in the local paper with a picture of the doll and the offer of a $5000 cash prize for its return. After decades of silence, the doll resurfaces—and with it, the hope that Janey, too, may finally come home.

[Read John Valeri's review of You'll Never Know, Dear...]

Jun 1 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Jordan Harper, Author of She Rides Shotgun

Jordan Harper has been a music journalist and film critic. Born and educated in Missouri, he now lives in Los Angeles and continues to work as a screenwriter. Harper’s debut novel, She Rides Shotgun (available June 6, 2017), is published by Ecco and marks the culmination of a childhood dream. The book has been optioned for film by Parkes+MacDonald Productions; Harper is writing the script. He previously released a short story collection, Love and Other Wounds.

Recently, the author kindly made time to indulge curiosities about crafting his opus, violence in art, creative inspiration, and what comes next, among other topics.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

May 30 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Sarah Lotz, Author of The White Road

Sarah Lotz is a novelist and screenwriter who carries a self-professed affection for the dark side. Her books include The Three and Day Four—both of which Stephen King heartily endorsed. Lotz’s newest, The White Road (available May 30, 2017), is published by Mulholland Books and has earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The author, who drew upon her knowledge of extreme sports to amplify that work, lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Recently, Ms. Lotz generously made time to reflect on the varied elements that enhance her “genre-bending” stories.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

May 8 2017 3:00pm

Review: Silent Rain by Karin Salvalaggio

Silent Rain by Karin SalvalaggioSilent Rain by Karin Salvalaggio is the 4th book in the Macy Greeley Mystery series (available May 9, 2017).

London-based, American-bred Karin Salvalaggio returns with her fourth crime novel, Silent Rain, which reunites series protagonist Macy Greeley, a Montana police detective, and survivor Grace Adams (now going by the surname Larson) for the first time since the author’s 2014 debut, Bone Dust White.  

Silent Rain opens on Halloween night. Grace, dressed up like Stephen King’s Carrie—post prom horror show (though nobody recognizes her)—is commemorating the occasion with friends at the K-Bar’s annual themed costume party. While she finds herself battling a throng of overzealous Elvis lookalikes with wandering hands, it’s the reappearance of her stalker—just the most recent in an endless string of mostly harmless gawkers who have discovered her identity—that impels her to make a hasty getaway under cover of darkness. Emboldened by booze and bravado, Grace stumbles through the suburban streets of Bolton, eventually blacking out on somebody’s lawn. An hour later, her stupor is shattered by the sound of sirens piercing the quiet.

[Read John Valeri's review of Silent Rain...]

May 2 2017 11:00am

Review: Walking on My Grave by Carolyn Hart

Walking on My Grave by Carolyn Hart is the 26th and final Death on Demand Mystery, where bookseller Annie Darling learns murder and money go hand in hand.

New York Times-bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Carolyn Hart returns with Walking on My Grave—the 26th and final entry in her beloved, critically acclaimed Death on Demand series.

Annie Darling, owner of Broward’s Rock’s Death on Demand mystery bookshop, has a challenge on her hands for the quiet months of winter: preparing three chapbooks written by her trio of crime-solving cohorts—novelist Emma Clyde, do-gooder Henny Brawley, and mother-in-law Laurel Darling Roethke—for printing. The welcome solitude of that project is broken when fellow islander Ves Roundtree pays Annie an unexpected visit and confides that she’s the victim of an attempted murder made to appear as if an accident. Despite a moment of hesitancy, fiercely loyal and justice-minded Annie pledges allegiance to her aggrieved friend.   

[Read John Valeri's review of Walking on My Grave...]

Apr 25 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with John Rector, Author of The Ridge

John Rector is a Wall Street Journal and internationally bestselling author. His novels include Ruthless, Out of the Black, Already Gone, The Cold Kiss, and The Grove. Mr. Rector’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and is collected in The Walls Around Us; his novella, Lost Things, earned him the International Thriller Award. Mr. Rector’s latest, The Ridge (available April 25, 2017), is published by Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s Mystery/Thriller/Suspense imprint. 

Recently, the author generously made time to answer questions about creative inspiration, genre classification, setting serving story, and the inevitable influence of the outside world on fiction. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Apr 20 2017 3:00pm

Review: Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan is the 5th book in the Jane Ryland series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel.

The dynamic Hank Phillippi Ryan is no stranger to accolades. Her crime novels have earned 5 Agatha Awards as well as the Anthony, Daphne du Maurier, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark honors; her most recent, 2016’s Say No More, is a nominee for this year’s prize given in grandmaster Clark’s name. Further, the author—who is also the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate—has won 33 Emmys and 13 Edward R. Murrow Awards for her groundbreaking exposes. Not surprisingly, professional pedigree has largely informed her fiction.

Say No More is Ryan’s 5th novel to feature 30-something reporter Jane Ryland, who has largely redeemed herself in the eyes of the public following the humiliation of being fired for refusing to give up a source. This story opens as Jane and her producer, Fiola, witness a hit-and-run car accident on an early Monday morning in Boston—a seemingly insignificant event that later proves to be anything but. Meanwhile, Jane’s (somewhat undercover) boyfriend, homicide detective Jake Brogan, is called to the scene of a suspicious drowning in an uppity, tight-lipped community known as the Reserve. The victim, Avery Morgan, was a Hollywood screenwriter guest teaching at the equally secretive Adams Bay College.

[Read John Valeri's review of Say No More...]

Apr 11 2017 11:00am

Q&A with Harry Hunsicker, Author of The Devil’s Country

Harry Hunsicker is a 4th-generation native of Dallas and former executive vice-president of the Mystery Writers of America. A Shamus and Thriller Award nominee, he has also had a short story (“West of Nowhere”) selected for inclusion in the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 after initial publication in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Mr. Hunsicker has written two series, one featuring Dallas PI Lee Henry Oswald and the other disgraced ex-cop Jon Cantrell. The Devil’s Country (available April 11, 2017) is his 7th novel.

Recently, Mr. Hunsicker took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his inspiration for creating a new character and canvas, the importance of setting, and the ingenuity of his publisher, Thomas & Mercer.

[Read the full Q&A below...]

Apr 5 2017 12:00pm

Review: Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton

Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton is the 2nd book in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series.

Last year, nationally bestselling author Paige Shelton debuted a new mystery series set in Scotland featuring Kansas-born Delaney Nichols. A recent transplant to the area, Delaney found employment at The Cracked Spine—a modest-yet-magical bookstore specializing in rare manuscripts and housing an eclectic assortment of historical artifacts—and also discovered a surprising knack for solving whodunits. 

In Of Books and Bagpipes, Delaney embraces a new adventure of sorts when her boss, Edwin MacAlister, dispatches her to Castle Doune to retrieve an old comic book (Oor Wullie) from a man who pledges to be dressed as famed Scottish knight William Wallace. But when Delaney arrives, accompanied by her proudly protective landlord and frequent chauffeur, Elias, they stumble upon the reenactor’s dead body, cause unknown. Delaney quickly alerts the authorities but neglects to share with them the purpose of her visit, or the fact that she found Oor Wullie—which she instinctively secretes in her coat—hidden within a nook of the castle’s wall.

[Read John Valeri's review of Of Books and Bagpipes...]

Apr 1 2017 12:00pm

Q&A with Karen E. Olson, Author of Betrayed

Karen E. Olson is the author of Betrayed (available April 1, 2017)—the 3rd book in her critically acclaimed Black Hat Thriller series.

Recently, Ms. Olson generously agreed to answer some questions about creative inspiration and process.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mar 28 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Laura Caldwell & Leslie S. Klinger, Co-Editors of Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger are co-editors of Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted (available March 28, 2017), which pairs genre luminaries such as Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, Jan Burke, and S. J. Rozan with exonerated inmates to illuminate the realities of wrongful conviction.

Recently, Ms. Caldwell and Mr. Klinger generously agreed to answer some questions about their collaborative process and the intent behind Anatomy of Innocence.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mar 27 2017 2:00pm

Review: Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub is the 3rd and final book in the Mundy's Landing Trilogy (available March 28, 2017).

“We shall never tell.” This cryptic phrase, discovered in a centuries-old letter, is the driving force that propels Emerson Mundy on a decisive search for truth in Bone White, the final book in New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub’s Mundy’s Landing Trilogy. Consumed by grief over her father’s death and looking to escape the attention of an overzealous boyfriend, Emerson skips town to travel cross-country from California to Mundy’s Landing, New York. There, she hopes to reclaim her ancestral heritage—but soon finds that the family name is a burden to bear.

Mundy’s Landing—a seemingly idyllic Hudson River Valley town—has a dark past that continually haunts its present. Despite the recent resolution of the infamous Sleeping Beauty Murders (see 2016’s Mary Higgins Clark Award-nominated Blue Moon), there’s another skeleton in the village’s proverbial closet: a cannibalization scandal that sent founding colonists James and Elizabeth Mundy to the gallows, leaving their three children—and future generations—to protect the family’s carefully safeguarded secrets. But when aged town historian Aurora “Ora” Abrams proffers a long-hidden disembodied skull for forensic analysis—the results of which harken back to that fateful winter of 1666, when starvation plagued the settlement—she inadvertently sets in motion yet another series of sordid affairs.

[Read John Valeri's review of Bone White...]