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From The Blog
March 19, 2018
Q&A with Christi Daugherty, Author of The Echo Killing
Christi Daugherty and Crime HQ
March 16, 2018
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Adam Wagner
March 13, 2018
Q&A with Sebastian Rotella, Author of Rip Crew
Sebastian Rotella and John Valeri
March 9, 2018
Murder and Mayhem in Chicago
Lori Rader-Day and Dana Kaye
March 9, 2018
Robbery with a Chance of Meatballs: Man Steals Meatballs & Gets Caught Red-Handed
Adam Wagner
Showing posts by: John Valeri click to see John Valeri's profile
Mar 13 2018 1:00pm

Q&A with Sebastian Rotella, Author of Rip Crew

Sebastian Rotella is the celebrated author of The Convert’s Song and Triple Crossing, which the New York Times Book Review named its favorite debut crime novel and action thriller of 2011; he also authored the non-fiction work, Twilight on the Line, which was a New York Times Notable Book. A senior reporter covering international security issues for ProPublica, Rotella previously spent 23 years at the Los Angeles Times, where he served as bureau chief in Paris and Buenos Aires and correspondent at the Mexican border. His accolades include a Peabody Award, Columbia University's Dart Award and Moors Cabot Prize for Latin American coverage, the German Marshall Fund's Weitz Prize for reporting in Europe, five Overseas Press Club Awards, and The Urbino Prize of Italy; Rotella is also an Emmy nominee and was a Pulitzer finalist for international reporting in 2006. His third novel, Rip Crew (available March 13, 2018), revisits protagonist Valentine Pescatore and recently earned a Starred Review from Kirkus.

Recently, the author entertained questions pertaining to the significance of titles, the evolution of characters and story arc, the importance of description and dialogue, the appeal of international intrigue, and the influence of fact on fiction; Rotella also teased a new direction for his next novel.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Mar 6 2018 5:00pm

Review: The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin

The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin is the first book in a new series of legal thrillers from the “master of heart-pounding suspense” (available March 6, 2018).

Lawyer-turned-novelist Philip Margolin has written more than 20 novels—many of which have been New York Times bestsellers—in a career that has spanned decades and drawn upon his longtime career as a criminal defense attorney whose trial experience encompassed a multitude of capital cases. His works have been adapted as television films and miniseries, and accolades have included both the Spotted Owl Award for Best Northwest Mystery (Executive Privilege) and the Willamette Writers’ 2009 Distinguished Northwest Writers Award as well as nominations for the Edgar Award and Oregon Book Award. Margolin’s newest, The Third Victim, marks his first title from Minotaur Books.

As the story opens, Caleb White—cousin of Hammond County Sheriff’s Office deputy Harry White—nearly runs down a young woman who stumbles out of the forest and into his path in the area of Oregon’s Whisper Lake. When he recovers from the shock of this near-miss and exits his vehicle, it’s to discover that she has duct tape secured to her wrists and ankles, a bloodied face and limbs, torn clothing, and other signs of physical trauma.

[Read John Valeri's review of The Third Victim...]

Mar 5 2018 1:00pm

Review: If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin is an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense in which a seemingly open-and-shut police case with a clear-cut hero and villain turns out to be anything but simple (available March 6, 2018).

USA Today and international bestselling author Alison Gaylin has been steadily on the rise since ditching facts for fiction with 2005’s Hide Your Eyes; nine books have followed. Her last standalone novel of psychological suspense, What Remains of Me (2016), won the RT Seal of Excellence; she’s also a recipient of the Shamus and RT Reviewers Choice Awards and has been nominated for the Edgar three times as well as the Anthony, ITW Thriller, and Strand Book Awards. Gaylin’s newest, If I Die Tonight, seems destined to continue that upward trajectory.

The story opens with a prologue presented in the form of a Facebook status update. Though posted on Jacqueline (“Jackie”) Merrick Reed’s page, the message is actually written by her eldest son, 17-year-old Wade—and he prefaces it with a dire prediction: “By the time you read this, I’ll be dead.”

[Read John Valeri's review of If I Die Tonight...]

Mar 1 2018 2:00pm

Review: Bone Music by Christopher Rice

Bone Music by Christopher Rice is the first book in the Burning Girl series, where Charlotte Rowe learns there’s more than one way to stoke the flames of revenge (available March 1, 2018).

Christopher Rice may share one of the literary world’s most recognizable and respected surnames thanks to his mother, Anne, but he’s carved out his own place among the luminaries since debuting with A Density of Souls (2000). Rice has notched four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award (and twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award), and launched an internet radio show, The Dinner Party Show with Christopher Rice & Eric Shaw Quinn; he also serves as head writer and executive producer of television’s The Vampire Chronicles. His work spans genres that include erotic romance, suspense/crime, and supernatural thrillers—and his newest, Bone Music, is yet another highly anticipated hybrid.

This title marks the first book in a new series and introduces readers to Charlotte Rowe (aka the “Burning Girl”). As a baby, Charlotte—born Trina Pierce—was abducted by her mother’s killers, serial predators Daniel and Abigail Banning, and raised in the woods. Rescued by authorities at the age of seven, she was then returned to her father only to be repeatedly exploited by him for financial gain. Books, movies, and public appearances followed, as did outcry over their capitalization on tragedy, false rumors of her own murderous tendencies, and the emergence of a stalker. Sickened by the entirety of it, she sued her father as a teenager and used her share of the profits to change her name and purchase an isolated property on the outskirts of Scarlet, Arizona.

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

Feb 27 2018 1:00pm

Q&A with John Hart, Author of The Hush

John Hart is a New York Times bestselling author who holds the distinction of being the only person to win the Edgar Award for Best Novel consecutively; his other accolades include the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. Hart’s books have been translated into 30 languages and are available in more than 70 countries with more than two million copies currently in print. His newest, The Hush (available February 27, 2018), is a sequel to 2009’s The Last Child. Booklist awarded the title a starred review and credited the author’s success to “a rare ability to combine the most propulsive of popular fiction with beguilingly rich characters.”

Recently, Mr. Hart graciously took the time to consider questions on topics such as revisiting beloved characters, writing beyond genre convention, and defying industry expectations of producing a book per year; he also teased what comes next.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Feb 22 2018 1:00pm

Review: All the Deadly Lies by Marian Lanouette

Homicide Detective Jake Carrington takes murder personally in All the Deadly Lies by Marian Lanouette, the first book in the Jake Carrington Thriller series (available February 27, 2018).

Amazon bestselling author Marian Lanouette arrived on the scene with her first Jake Carrington thriller, If I Fail, in 2012; a sequel, Burn in Hell, followed, as did several holiday-themed romances written under the pseudonym Merry Holly. The two initial series entries were recently acquired through Kensington’s Lyrical Press imprint and are being re-released with new cover art and titles as well as additional content.

All the Deadly Lies (formerly If I Fail) opens with a summons: “Sergeant, in my office, please.” Seldom is such an invocation cause for celebration, and Wilkesbury, Connecticut, Homicide Detective Jake Carrington’s face-to-face with his superior officer is no exception. Captain Shamus McGuire has the unfortunate distinction of alerting Jake to the fact that his younger sister’s killer, George Spaulding, is once again coming up for parole—and that this time, he’s requested a DNA test and samples from the crime scene prior to appearing before the board. Though 17 years have passed since the crime, Jake—who accompanied his father to identify Eva’s body—still suffers from survivor’s guilt and can feel his world begin to reel with the prospect of Spaulding’s release.

[Read John Valeri's review of All the Deadly Lies...]

Feb 6 2018 12:00pm

Review: Look for Me by Lisa Gardner

In Look for Me, #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner's latest twisty thrill ride, Detective D. D. Warren and Find Her's Flora Dane return in a race against the clock to either save a young girl's life ... or bring her to justice (available February 6, 2018).

Lisa Gardner has achieved another career milestone: the publication of her 20th crime novel. (She previously penned 13 romantic suspense titles under the pseudonym Alicia Scott.) In addition to reaching the pinnacle of the New York Times bestseller list, 22 million copies of her books are currently in print throughout 30 countries, and four were adapted as television movies. She also won the Best Hardcover Award from International Thriller Writers for The Neighbor and was a recipient of the organization’s Silver Bullet Award for her humanitarian work in 2017. The author’s latest, Look for Me, is the ninth title to feature Boston Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren, and it reunites her with survivor-turned-vigilante Flora Dane of Find Her (2016).

As the story opens, D. D.’s cell phones—work and personal—ring, interrupting what was supposed to be a blissful Saturday with her husband, Alex, and their five-year-old son. Instead of the anticipated apple picking and dog adoption, D. D. finds herself at the scene of a multiple homicide in Brighton where four people—two adults and two children—have been shot dead; their bodies indicate no sign of a struggle or attempted escape. The fifth member of the household, 16-year-old Roxanna (“Roxy”) Baez, has gone missing without a trace. But is her disappearance an indication of danger or guilt? Either way, the clock is ticking—and D. D. is determined to find her before more blood is spilled.

[Read John Valeri's review of Look for Me...]

Feb 2 2018 2:00pm

Review: Curses, Boiled Again! by Shari Randall

Curses, Boiled Again! by Shari Randall welcomes you to the seaside hamlet of Mystic Bay, where the fish is always fresh, the folks are ever-friendly, and murder is on a roll (available January 30, 2018).

Take a visual tour through Curses, Boiled Again! with GIFnotes!

First-time novelist Shari Randall may be new to crime fiction, but she’s no novice when it comes to books, having enjoyed a career as a librarian before turning her attention to writing. Her debut, Curses, Boiled Again!, is the inaugural title in her cozy Lobster Shack Mystery series—and she dutifully researched her topic by commencing a tour of such eateries throughout New England. (The ironic takeaway? She’s allergic to lobster.)

As the story opens, readers are introduced to Allie Larkin, who had been living her dream as a dancer with the New England Ballet Theater until a broken ankle felled her. To help pass the time until she’s fully recovered, Allie has moved in with her Aunt Gully—a recent widow who’s found new purpose in owning and operating the Lazy Mermaid, an up-and-coming lobster shack located in the fictitious coastal town of Mystic Bay, Connecticut. Despite being the proverbial new kid on the block, the Lazy Mermaid has already earned an enthusiastic following by virtue of its delectable dishes (and eccentric décor)—so much so that Aunt Gully has been invited to participate in the Best Lobster Roll competition.

[Read John Valeri's review of Curses, Boiled Again!...]

Feb 1 2018 1:00pm

Review: Vanished by Karen E. Olson

Vanished by Karen E. Olson is the fourth book in the Black Hat thriller series, which follows computer hacker Tina Adler, who heads to Paris, France, in search of the truth but discovers that someone is close on her trail (available February 1, 2018).

Connecticut’s Karen E. Olson made a name for herself among crime writers and readers by penning two critically acclaimed “cozy” series (notice the use of quotation marks there): the Annie Seymour and Tattoo Shop mysteries. Those books garnered accolades (the Sarah Anne Freed Memorial Award) and nominations (Shamus & Gumshoe) and allowed Olson—an editor and journalist by trade—to exit the newsroom before the industry imploded. In 2015, she charted new territory with Hidden—the first book in her Black Hat thriller series featuring Nicole Jones (aka Tina Adler), a computer hacker on the run.

Vanished—the fourth, and potentially final, book in that series—finds Tina living in relative obscurity in Charleston, South Carolina, where she’s working as an artist. There’s still a bounty on her head for having once bilked millions of dollars from mobster Tony DeMarco (among others of her father’s unsuspecting clients) with the assistance of an online accomplice known simply as “Tracker,” but distance from their shared hometown of Miami has fostered some sense of security. That is until one of her buyers, Madeline Whittier, recognizes her, necessitating yet another departure. 

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

Jan 16 2018 2:00pm

Q&A with Christopher Reich, Author of The Take

Christopher Reich is the New York Times bestselling author of thrillers including Numbered Account, Rules of Deception, Rules of Vengeance, Rules of Betrayal, and The Devil’s Banker. The Patriot’s Club won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel in 2006. Reich’s newest, The Take, marks the launch of a new series featuring Simon Riske, a spy who’s been likened to James Bond and Jack Reacher. Having traveled far and wide, the author now makes his home in Encinitas, California.

Recently, Mr. Reich entertained questions pertaining to the launch of his new series, creating a protagonist who’s at once familiar and original, drawing on fact to inform fiction, and bringing suspense alive through setting. He also teases what comes next for Simon Riske…

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jan 9 2018 2:00pm

Q&A with C. J. Tudor, Author of The Chalk Man

C. J. Tudor is the debut novelist of The Chalk Man (available January 9, 2018). Before becoming a full-time writer, she held a variety of jobs that included trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter, voiceover artist, and dog walker; in the early '90s, she was also a television presenter for the show Moviewatch, for which she interviewed legendary actors such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. Ms. Tudor—more commonly known as “Caz”—makes her home in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter.

Recently, the author put aside her works in progress to entertain questions pertaining to creative inspiration, balancing dual narratives, capturing a sense of nostalgia, and “earning” twist endings. She also teased what comes next…

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jan 8 2018 2:00pm

Q&A with Aimee Hix, Author of What Doesn’t Kill You

Aimee Hix is a former defense contractor turned mystery writer. Her debut novel, What Doesn’t Kill You (available January 8, 2018), introduces PI Willa Pennington and is set against the shady backdrop of Washington, D.C. It’s the first in a three-book deal with Midnight Ink. Ms. Hix spent two decades as a federal contractor before turning her attention to writing fiction full-time. She makes her home in Virginia.

Recently, the author graciously discussed topics including the appeal of crime fiction, how reading has influenced her writing, characteristics that she and her protagonist share (and don’t), the differences between cops and private investigators, why it’s important to be part of a community, and what comes next.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jan 2 2018 1:00pm

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis is the first book in the Searchers series—a race-against-time thriller where FBI Agent Elsa Myers may have to lose herself in order to save a missing girl.

The name Karen Ellis is new to the annals of crime fiction, but the powerhouse behind that pseudonym is one that discerning readers will recognize: Katia Lief. Lief is the internationally bestselling author of the four-book Karin Schaeffer series (among other works), the last of which, The Money Kill (2013), was nominated for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award. A teacher of fiction writing at The New School in Manhattan, she makes her debut as Ellis with A Map of the Dark.

As the story opens, readers are introduced to FBI Agent Elsa Myers of the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Unit (CARD). Though accustomed to professional crises, it’s a personal one that she’s reckoning with—her dad’s hospitalization due to a terminal cancer diagnosis—when her supervisor calls requesting her immediate assistance in the disappearance of 17-year-old Ruby Haverstock.

[Read John Valeri's review of A Map of the Dark...]

Dec 8 2017 4:00pm

Review: Strong to the Bone by Jon Land

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong takes on a gang of neo-Nazis in Strong to the Bone, an action-packed novel of the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series by Jon Land.

Jon Land is on the brink of mainstream superstardom, and his consistent excellence may just be the factor that tips the balance in his favor. He has written more than 40 novels in a celebrated career that has traversed genres and collaborators. These include the popular Blaine McCracken books as well as a critically acclaimed, award-winning series featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong; recent titles from the latter have earned the author distinctions, including the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense (Strong Rain Falling), the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery (Strong Light of Day), and the 2017 International Book Award for Best Action Thriller (Strong Cold Dead).

Land’s newest, Strong to the Bone—winner of the 2017 American Book Fest Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense and the ninth thriller to feature Caitlin Strong—finds his protagonist in an introspective state, confronting internal demons as well as the ones she’s accustomed to eradicating with the quick draw of her gun. What begins as a rare date night out with her beau, Cort Wesley Masters, quickly turns sour when the two stumble upon a raging brawl between college fraternities at a local barbecue joint. The report of a sexual assault in progress reaches Caitlin, and she commandeers a fire engine to part the rowdy crowd and rescue the victim. It’s not exactly standard protocol, but Caitlin’s never been much for rules or rank.

[Read John Valeri's review of Strong to the Bone...]

Nov 30 2017 1:00pm

Review: Tango Down by Chris Knopf

Tango Down by Chris Knopf is the eighth edition of the Sam Acquillo Mystery series, which disrupts the illusion that the Hamptons are safely immune from the struggles that inflame much of the world and examines how fear of the unknown ignites prejudice and hate, overturning norms of decency and principle.

Chris Knopf is the proverbial jack of all trades. In addition to being a novelist and co-publisher at The Permanent Press, he had a long and award-winning career in advertising and agency management as CEO of Mintz + Hoke. He’s also a house designer, cabinetmaker, sailor, and dog enthusiast—all traits that are shared with the protagonist of his illustrious eight-book Sam Acquillo Hamptons mystery series. Knopf’s work—which includes two other limited series and a standalone, Elysiana—has earned him distinctions that have included the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery (Head Wounds) and the Nero Award (Dead Anyway), as well as starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and Library Journal. His last effort, Back Lash (2016), was a finalist for the 2017 Connecticut Book Award.

[Read John Valeri's review of Tango Down...]

Nov 15 2017 3:00pm

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!]

Nov 14 2017 3:00pm

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...]

Nov 10 2017 4:00pm

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!]

Nov 7 2017 2:00pm

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...]

Nov 6 2017 4:00pm

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!]