<i>Secrecy World</i>: Excerpt Secrecy World: Excerpt Jake Bernstein An inside look at the world revealed by the Panama Papers. <i>Hunter Killer</i>: Excerpt Hunter Killer: Excerpt David Poyer World War with China explodes in this new military thriller. Review: <i>The Best American Mystery Stories 2017</i> Review: The Best American Mystery Stories 2017 David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review! <i>Blood Business</i>: Excerpt Blood Business: Excerpt Joshua Viola and Mario Acevedo An anthology of noir tales and crime stories from this world and beyond.
From The Blog
November 23, 2017
The X-Files Fanfic: The Stories Are Out There
Joanna Schaffhausen
November 23, 2017
Thanksgiving—America’s Deadliest Holiday
Philip Jett
November 17, 2017
Man Flees Police, Hides Under the Covers, Claims He's "Just Sleeping"
Adam Wagner
November 16, 2017
Back to J. D. Robb's Future
Janet Webb
November 16, 2017
Writing the Private Detective vs. the Police Detective
T.R. Ragan
Showing posts by: John Valeri click to see John Valeri's profile
Wed
Nov 15 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Jessica Keener, Author of Strangers in Budapest

Jessica Keener is the author of the bestselling novel Night Swim and a collection of award-winning short stories, Women in Bed. She has also contributed to O, the Oprah Magazine, Redbook, the Boston Globe, and Agni, among other publications. Ms. Keener earned her B.A. in English from Brown University and later received a master’s degree in creative writing (fiction); she has taught English literature and writing at Brown University, Boston University, the University of Miami, and GrubStreet. Her most recent novel, Strangers in Budapest, draws upon the experience of living in that city in the early 1990s. Ms. Keener now makes her home in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The author graciously entertained questions on topics including how fact informs fiction, the diversity of mystery novels, why the juxtaposition of past and present resonates, how short stories and full-length works are both similar and different, and what of craft can be learned vs. what is intrinsic. She also shares a glimpse of what comes next. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
Nov 14 2017 2:00pm

Review: Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson

Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson is the third book in the Greenhouse Mystery series.

Wendy Tyson has a background in law and psychology, which lends itself nicely to her endeavors as a crime fiction novelist. Having formerly worked as a therapist, she now balances writing and her responsibilities as an attorney with her passion for organic gardening and sustainable living—another pursuit that informs her creative output. In addition to the four-book (and growing) Allison Campbell series and a standalone novel, The Seduction of Miriam Cross, she also pens the bestselling Greenhouse Mystery series featuring lawyer-turned-farmer (sound familiar?) protagonist, Megan Sawyer.

The third book in the Greenhouse series, Seeds of Revenge, finds Megan—who left her life as a lawyer in Chicago behind to care for her grandmother and oversee the family’s organic farm and its cozy store and restaurant in Winsome, Pennsylvania—trying to drum up year-round business with the onset of winter. It’s on a snowy drive home from Philadelphia—where she’d been pitching fresh produce to restaurateurs—that she encounters a young woman stranded by the side of the road. Megan offers her a ride and is happy to learn that her unexpected passenger, Rebecca (“Becca”) Fox, is the niece of aptly named Merry Chance, one of Winsome’s most well-known, civic-minded, and seasonally spirited residents—as evidenced by her house, which also reflects the radiance of her heart:

[Read John Valeri's review of Seeds of Revenge...]

Fri
Nov 10 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Wendy Tyson, Author of Seeds of Revenge

Wendy Tyson is the author of the bestselling Greenhouse Mystery series featuring former lawyer-turned-farmer Megan Sawyer, which includes the titles A Muddied Murder and Bitter Harvest; the third entry, Seeds of Revenge (available November 14, 2017), is set against the backdrop of the holiday season. Ms. Tyson also writes the Allison Campbell Mystery series and penned a standalone novel, The Seduction of Miriam Cross.

A mainstay in the crime fiction community, she serves as a columnist for The Thrill Begins and is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, which are both International Thriller Writer Organization (ITW) online magazines. Also a lawyer and former therapist, Ms. Tyson now lives on a micro-farm with her family, the experience of which largely informs her fiction.

Recently, the author warmly welcomed questions pertaining to the inherent drama of the holidays, the evolution of her creative canvas, the similarities between gardening and writing, the influence of her former careers on her current endeavors, and the promise of what comes next. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
Nov 7 2017 1:00pm

Review: Every Breath You Take by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

Every Breath You Take by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke follows television producer’s Laurie Moran investigation of the unsolved Met Gala murder—in which a wealthy widow was pushed to her death from the famous museum’s rooftop.

America’s “Queen of Suspense,” Mary Higgins Clark, has been a mainstay in reader’s hearts and on bestsellers lists since making her crime fiction debut with Where Are the Children? in 1975. Since then, she’s written 36 suspense novels, four collections of short stories, two children’s books, and a memoir. She also collaborated with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, on five holiday-themed capers. More recently, she’s teamed up with fellow New York Times bestselling author Alafair Burke for the Under Suspicion novels—the first of which, I’ve Got You Under My Skin (2014), was a solo effort from Clark before the series was officially launched; subsequent titles include The Cinderella Murder (2014), All Dressed in White (2015), and The Sleeping Beauty Killer (2016).

The dynamic duo returns with Every Breath You Take. Once again, readers find television producer Laurie Moran on the hunt for a cold case fitting of her hit show’s intriguing premise: to revisit unsolved crimes on camera by reuniting those who fall under the umbrella of suspicion. Much to her annoyance, the program’s new host, Ryan Nichols, pitches an idea that catches their boss’s attention: the death of a wealthy widow, Virginia Wakeling, who may have been pushed from the roof of New York City’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art during their annual Met Gala three years ago.

[Read John Valeri's review of Every Breath You Take...]

Mon
Nov 6 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with Linda Fairstein, Author of Digging For Trouble

Linda Fairstein is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Alexandra Cooper novels, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages; the nineteenth in that series, Deadfall, was published in July. Last year, she launched her Devlin Quick Mystery series for children with Into the Lion’s Den, which spotlighted the New York Public Library as a backdrop. The follow-up, Digging For Trouble (available November 7, 2017), brings her young sleuth to Montana in addition to New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. Ms. Fairstein previously worked in the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades. She makes her home there and on Martha’s Vineyard.

Recently, the author indulged a direct examination of her craft, with topics including the joys of researching/writing about real-life attractions, the challenges of appealing to a young audience, Nancy Drew’s enduring popularity, and what comes next for both of her crime-solving protagonists.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mon
Nov 6 2017 12:00pm

Review: Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub

Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub is the third book in the Lily Dale Mysteries series (available November 7, 2017).

New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is a veritable powerhouse. With more than 80 novels to her name (and a few aliases), she has proved reliable among genres including psychological suspense, young adult, chick lit, romance, horror, and media tie-in. One of her most recent endeavors is a cozy mystery series set in the real-life spiritual community of Lily Dale, New York; she previously mined this territory for a four-book YA saga as well as an adult novel, In the Blink of an Eye (2002). Her newest, Dead of Winter, follows Nine Lives (2015) and Something Buried, Something Blue (2016).

Mid-December: Recent widow Bella Jordan has her hands full. In addition to being a single parent to her six-year-old son, Max, she’s responsible for overseeing Valley View Manor—the inn that became their unlikely sanctuary following a fated encounter with a pregnant tabby, Chance the Cat, that led them to Lily Dale. With Christmas looming and finances tight, she’s taken on additional projects around the home to earn some extra money in hopes of giving Max a memorable holiday. It’s while caulking the new kitchen backsplash that Bella hears a chilling scream from the area Cassadaga Lake; looking out the window to investigate, she sees something—somebody—on the water. Little does Bella know that she, too, has been seen.

[Read John Valeri's review of Dead of Winter...]

Thu
Nov 2 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Todd Merer, Author of The Extraditionist

Todd Merer is the debut author of The Extraditionist. In his thirty years as a criminal attorney, he specialized in the defense of high-ranking cartel chiefs extradited to the United States. Merer gained acquittals in more than 150 trials, and his high-profile cases have been featured in the New York TimesTime magazine, and on 60 Minutes. A “proud son of Brooklyn,” he divides his time between New York City and ports of call along the old Spanish Main, where he is at work on his second novel.

Recently, the author kindly allowed for a debriefing session in which he discussed embellishing fact for fiction, finding parts of himself in clients and characters, balancing entertainment with education, and bringing the story’s backdrop to life.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
Oct 31 2017 3:00pm

Q&A with David Freed, Author of The Kill Circle

David Freed is the author of the critically acclaimed Cordell Logan mystery series. An instrument-rated pilot, contributing editor at Air & Space Smithsonian magazine, and a former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Los Angeles Times, he has also worked extensively within the United States intelligence community. His newest, The Kill Circle (available October 31, 2017), is the sixth entry in his oeuvre. Freed splits his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Fort Collins, Colorado, where he is an adjunct professor of journalism at Colorado State University.

Recently, the author generously made time in his schedule to answer questions pertaining to the evolution of his series and protagonist, intrigue in the JFK assassination, the dynamics of romantic suspense, and the similarities between piloting and writing.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Tue
Oct 31 2017 11:00am

Review: Buzz Killer by Tom Straw

Buzz Killer by Tom Straw is the first in a prospective new series featuring NYC Public Defender Macie Wild and Gunnar Cody, an ex-detective dismissed from the NYPD’s elite surveillance unit.

Tom Straw made his fiction debut with 2007’s standalone mystery, The Trigger Episode, and then appeared to have dropped off the literary landscape. It’s only recently become common knowledge that he subsequently wrote seven books under the pseudonym Richard Castle (tie-ins with the popular primetime crime dramedy, Castle), all of which were New York Times bestsellers. Now, Straw—also a veteran writer and producer for television—reasserts his own identity with Buzz Killer, the first title in a prospective new series.

As the story opens, readers are introduced to ambitious New York City Public Defender Macie Wild, who remains loyal to the call of duty despite more profitable prospects. Here, we find her reacquainted with repeat client Jackson Hall—who the tabloids have dubbed the “Buzz Killer” in reference to a previous string of breaking-and-entering incidents in which he would ring random apartments and then hit the vacant ones. This time, Jackson is up on a murder charge for allegedly having offed his partner in crime, Rúben Pinto. Though willing to cop to some B&E offenses, he is adamant about his innocence in the hit—and Macie believes him.

[Read John Valeri's review of Buzz Killer...]

Mon
Oct 30 2017 4:25pm

Donald Bain: A Personal Remembrance

Donald Bain loomed large in my life—and not just because he stood tall.

The first time we met was in 2009 at the inaugural Murder 203: Connecticut’s Mystery Festival (now defunct). But I’d been reading him voraciously since the age of 12 when I discovered his byline on the very first Murder, She Wrote novel from Berkley, Manhattans & Murder, in December of 1994. That book, and the next few, augmented my obsession with the television show. When Angela Lansbury & Co. signed off the air in 1996, they became something more important: an ongoing connection to those beloved characters and their quaint, if homicidal, coastal town of Cabot Cove, Maine.

I read each new title—twice per year, every year—for the next decade and a half. (Still do.)

[Read John Valeri's touching remembrance of Donald Bain...]

Mon
Oct 30 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Linwood Barclay, Author of Parting Shot

Linwood Barclay is the critically acclaimed New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of 16 novels. These include the four-book Zack Walker series, the recent Promise Falls trilogy (Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three), and the 2009 Arthur Ellis Award-winning title, Too Close to Home. His newest, Parting Shot (available October 31, 2017), is a standalone thriller that revisits both the backdrop of Promise Falls and Private Investigator Cal Weaver. A former newspaper journalist for The Toronto Star, the American-born Barclay makes his home in Oakville, Ontario.

Recently, the author generously took time to answer questions pertaining to his craft—writing standalone vs. series novels, balancing multiple storylines and dual protagonists, and creating believable plot twists, among other topics. He also teased the “Hitchcockian” tale that comes next…

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Fri
Oct 27 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Kate White, Author of Even If It Kills Her

Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of the Bailey Weggins series as well as the standalone psychological suspense titles The Secrets You Keep, The Wrong Man, Eyes on You, Hush, and The Sixes. The former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, she has also written several popular career books for women; these include I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, Create the Career You Deserve, and Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do. Additionally, Ms. White served as editor for the Anthony- and Agatha Award-nominated The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Her newest, Even If It Kills Her (available October 31, 2017), is the seventh book to feature crime journalist Bailey Weggins.

Recently, the author enthusiastically entertained questions pertaining to the joys of writing both series and standalone novels, balancing backstory, creating a realistic sense of danger, organic character development, and exploring the complexities of modern media.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Thu
Oct 26 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Tom Straw, Author of Buzz Killer

Tom Straw published his first mystery, The Trigger Episode, in 2007 and then authored seven crime novels under the pseudonym Richard Castle—all of which were New York Times bestsellers. An Emmy and Writer’s Guild of America nominee, Straw also wrote for and produced television shows, including Night Court, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Dave’s World, Grace Under Fire, Cosby, Whoopi, and Nurse Jackie. For the first time since his fiction debut, he reclaims his own name with Buzz Killer (available October 31, 2017)—the inaugural title in a prospective new series featuring New York City Public Defender Macie Wild and ex-detective Gunnar Cody.

Recently, the author generously took time from his creative endeavors to indulge curiosities pertaining to retiring his nom de plume, using relationship dynamics to promote character development, staying ahead of technological advancements, and capturing a realistic sense of time and place. He also teases what comes next. 

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Thu
Oct 26 2017 11:00am

Review: The Kill Circle by David Freed

The Kill Circle by David Freed is the sixth offering in the Cordell Logan series, a fast-paced thriller that is brimming with action and humor (available October 31, 2017).

There’s something to be said for writing what you know. David Freed, an instrument-rated pilot who has also worked extensively in the United States intelligence community, uses insider intel to inform the characters and circumstances that propel his Cordell Logan mysteries. Further, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, screenwriter, and teacher—all disciplines that are evident in the breadth of his fiction.

The Kill Circle—the series’ sixth entry—finds Cordell Logan contentedly retired from his former life as an assassin for the government. Now, he is residing in posh Rancho Bonita, California, where he inhabits a garage apartment with his non-sociable cat, Kiddiot, keeps company with his elderly dynamo of a landlady, Mrs. Schmulowitz, and operates a small civilian flight school nearby. Despite his training and former occupation, Logan is an aspiring Buddhist; still, certain personality types and proclivities—such as the uncivilized brute he encounters in Chapter Two—give him pause:

[Read John Valeri's review of The Kill Circle...]

Fri
Oct 20 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Killer Who Hated Soup by Bill A. Brier

The Killer Who Hated Soup by Bill A. Brier is the first book in the new Killer Who Hated series, featuring amateur photographer/sleuth Bucky Ontario and his adventures in the fictional town of Defiance, OK (available October 21, 2017).

Bill A. Brier has a list of credentials that lend themselves to storytelling: he grew up in California, attended Hollywood High School, and worked in the movie business for more than 25 years in roles that included cameraman, film editor, and general manager. He also served in the U.S. Air Force as a combat cameraman and earned a master’s degree in psychology. Eight years ago, Brier switched from reading scripts to writing mysteries; his first, The Devil Orders Takeout, was published last April. Now, he’s back with The Killer Who Hated Soup—the inaugural title in a projected new series set in the fictional town of Defiance, Oklahoma, in the 1950s.

As the story opens, readers are introduced to 21-year-old dynamo Bucky Ontario, an amateur photographer with an impressive front hair curl who left his Louisiana home two years ago in pursuit of greater ambitions. Following the close-your-eyes-and-point method of decision making, he boarded a bus to Defiance, OK—one of Time magazine’s picks as the next great boomtown—and hasn’t looked back. After all, Defiance—much like Bucky himself—is laden with potential, and the potential for prosperity, while maintaining a down-home charm: 

[Read John Valeri's review of The Killer Who Hated Soup...]

Mon
Oct 16 2017 11:00am

Review: Killing Season by Faye Kellerman

Killing Season by Faye Kellerman is an electrifying novel of suspense in which a young man'’s investigation into his sister'’s death draws him into the path of a sadistic serial killer (available October 17, 2017).

For more than two decades, award-winning New York Times bestselling author Faye Kellerman—wife of novelist and occasional collaborator Jonathan Kellerman—has been captivating readers with her sophisticated brand of suspense. Perhaps best known for her long-running Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus saga, she has also delved into non-series titles, YA, and short stories. Her newest, Killing Season, is a standalone thriller that was first released serially as a three-part e-book and is now available in its entirety as a paperback.

Four years ago, 15-year-old Ellen Vicksburg went missing in the quiet town of River Remez, New Mexico. Her younger brother, Ben (more commonly known as “Vicks”), now 17, discovered her body in a carefully dug grave by the river’s edge exactly one year later and has been obsessed with catching her killer ever since.

[Read John Valeri's review of Killing Season...]

Thu
Oct 5 2017 11:00am

Review: What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong is the third book in the John Dies at the End series.

Take a visual tour of What the Hell Did I Just Read with GIFnotes!

David Wong—the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, executive editor of the popular comedy site Cracked.com—burst onto the literary scene with John Dies at the End (2007). A surprise indie blockbuster that was later reissued by a mainstream publisher, the title was also adapted for film by Don Coscarelli and is largely considered to be a cult classic. A sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders, followed in 2012, as did an award-winning standalone novel, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (2015). Now, after much anticipation, the author returns with What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror—the third book in his informally named John Dies at the End series.

As the story opens, readers are reacquainted with David (“Dave,” aka the author)—best friend of the notorious John—who shares an apartment over a sex toy shop in an unnamed Midwest town with his girlfriend, Amy. Dave is frequently inundated with unsolicited packages from those who are familiar with the trio’s otherworldly exploits in eradicating evil and wish to rid themselves of their “weird bullshit”; in fact, he frequently sleepwalks only to find himself among these collectibles in his storage (“junk”) room the next morning. Despite a shared reputation for being hilariously inept in paranormal endeavors, Dave possesses a sharp self-awareness that results in the pop culture savvy that punctuates his storytelling:

[Read John Valeri's review of What the Hell Did I Just Read...]

Tue
Oct 3 2017 11:00am

Review: The Witches’ Tree by M. C. Beaton

The Witches Tree by M. C. BeatonThe Witches' Tree by M. C. Beaton is the 28th book in the Agatha Raisin series.

Take a visual tour of The Witches' Tree with GIFnotes!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of cantankerous British crime buster Agatha Raisin, who has transcended on-the-page fame to achieve small-screen infamy in recent years. To commemorate the occasion, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author M. C. Beaton—heralded as the “Queen of Crime” (The Globe and Mail)—returns to her venerable series with the release of its 28th entry, The Witches’ Tree.

Befitting of her stature, Agatha Raisin—a retired PR agent-turned-private detective—makes a fashionably late appearance (otherwise known as “Chapter 2”). Instead, readers are first introduced to aging ambassador Sir Edward Chumble and his much younger (and far less diplomatic) wife, Tiffany. The two are hosting a dinner party at their home in the Cotswolds that gathers together a small-yet-eclectic group of friends and acquaintances, including the new vicar from the nearby parish of St. Edmund. After all, inviting the vicar seems the thing to do, if reading about life in such quaint surroundings has taught them anything. But good intentions be damned, the night is fraught with tension, making The Witches’ Tree’s opening reference to another indomitable Agatha all the more appropriate:

[Read John Valeri's review of The Witches' Tree...]

Tue
Sep 26 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Joe R. Lansdale, Author of Paradise Sky

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of nearly four dozen novels, two of which were selected as New York Times Notable Books. His popular Hap and Leonard series has been adapted into a Sundance TV show and is now in its third season. Heralded as a “master storyteller” (Examiner.com), Mr. Lansdale has received the British Fantasy Award, an Edgar Award, and the Grinzane Cavour Prize, as well as ten Bram Stoker Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association. He makes his home in Nacogdoches, Texas. His most recent release, Paradise Sky (available in paperback September 26, 2017), is a historical western that melds fact with fiction; the title received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal.

Recently, the author entertained questions about the responsibility of reimagining a life, revisionist history, the universal experience of self-discovery, the potency of setting, and capturing authentic voice. He also teased what’s to come…

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mon
Sep 25 2017 3:30pm

Q&A with Liz Mugavero, Author of Purring Around the Christmas Tree

Liz Mugavero is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series, which debuted with Kneading to Die (2013)—an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel; A Biscuit, A Casket, The Icing on the Corpse, Murder Most Finicky, and Custom Baked Murder followed. She recently launched a new Cat Café cozy series with Cat About Town, written under the pseudonym Cate Conte.

A corporate communications and animal lover, Ms. Mugavero has also worked in journalism, PR, and communications. Her short stories have been published in the UK and Australia, and her essays have appeared in the national publications Skirt! and Sassee Magazine for Women. Mugavero’s newest, Purring Around the Christmas Tree (available September 26, 2017) is the sixth title in her saga featuring Kristan “Stan” Connor and the people and pets that populate fictional Frog’s Ledge.

Recently, the author generously indulged curiosities about the growth of her series, using the holiday season as a backdrop for suspense, her passion for animals, and writing under an assumed identity, among other topics of cyber chat.

[Read the full Q&A below!]