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From The Blog
January 18, 2018
Crime Fiction Hall of Fame: David Goodis
Brian Greene
January 16, 2018
Q&A with Christopher Reich, Author of The Take
Christopher Reich and John Valeri
January 12, 2018
Man Steals Tank, Crashes through Store Window, Steals Bottle of Wine
Adam Wagner
January 9, 2018
Q&A with C. J. Tudor, Author of The Chalk Man
C. J. Tudor and John Valeri
January 8, 2018
Q&A with Aimee Hix, Author of What Doesn’t Kill You
Aimee Hix and John Valeri
Showing posts by: John Valeri click to see John Valeri's profile
Jan 16 2018 1:00pm

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 1:00pm

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 1:00pm

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 12:00pm

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 3:00pm

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 12:00pm

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 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!]

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...]

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!]

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...]

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!]

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...]

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!]

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!]

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...]

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...]

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!]

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!]

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!]

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...]