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From The Blog
September 26, 2017
Q&A with Joe R. Lansdale, Author of Paradise Sky
Joe R. Lansdale and John Valeri
September 25, 2017
Q&A with Liz Mugavero, Author of Purring Around the Christmas Tree
Liz Mugavero and John Valeri
September 22, 2017
Drunk Man Calls 911 for Lift Home
Teddy Pierson
September 22, 2017
Video: M. C. Beaton Discusses The Witches' Tree
M. C. Beaton
September 21, 2017
Adventures in Research, Part III: Killing Pace
Douglas Schofield
Showing posts by: John Valeri click to see John Valeri's profile
Sep 26 2017 3:00pm

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!]

Sep 25 2017 4:30pm

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!]

Sep 15 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Names of Dead Girls by Eric Rickstad

The Names of Dead Girls by Eric Rickstad builds relentlessly on its spellbinding premise, luring readers into its dark and macabre mystery, right to its shocking end.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Eric Rickstad has made a name for himself with his critically acclaimed Canaan Crime series of psychological thrillers set in remote northern Vermont. In his newest, The Names of Dead Girls, he revisits characters from those earlier books to deliver a story that draws on the past but is firmly rooted in the present.  

As The Names of Dead Girls opens, readers are introduced to college student Rachel Rath. Rachel is the daughter of former detective Frank Rath (Silent Girls), who gave up his badge to pursue justice as a private investigator. What she doesn’t know, but will soon find out, is that Frank—whom she’s ably assisted in his inquiries—is actually her uncle (at least biologically speaking) and that her parents died a horrific death at the hands of murderer and serial rapist Ned Preacher. Preacher, who worked the system to his benefit and is now out of prison, professes to have found God. But Rachel feels his eyes on her, and they burn as if carrying the heat of hellfire:

[Read John Valeri's review of The Names of Dead Girls...]

Sep 14 2017 1:00pm

Review: Enigma by Catherine Coulter

Enigma by Catherine Coulter is the 21st book in the FBI Thriller series, where Agents Savich and Sherlock are presented with two baffling mysteries and must work with Agent Cam Wittier (Insidious) and New York-based former Special Forces agent Jack Cabot in a race against the clock to catch an international criminal and solve the enigma of the man called John Doe.

Catherine Coulter is the powerhouse author of more than 80 novels, 75 of which have been New York Times bestsellers. She began writing historical/Regency romances—and occasionally revisits those roots—before adding suspense to her arsenal with the publication of The Cove (1996), which launched her popular FBI Thriller series that currently boasts 21 titles. Additionally, Coulter co-authors a four-book (and growing) saga with JT Ellison.

The newest addition to the FBI Thriller series is Enigma, which features Agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock, who are married and have a young child together. As the story opens, Savich has been called to a Georgetown home where he encounters a seemingly psychotic man (henceforth referred to as “John Doe”) who has taken 27-year-old expectant mother Kara Moody hostage and is spouting off irrationally (“I know they’re coming and they’ll take you. You’ve got to come away with me before it’s too late!”). Savich is able to neutralize the situation but not without a few unintended consequences: the perp is rendered unconscious (later slipping into a coma), the mother-to-be goes into labor, and local authorities view the agent’s actions as an infringement on their turf.

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

Sep 7 2017 12:00pm

Review: Close to Home by Robert Dugoni

Close to Home by Robert Dugoni is the fifth book in the Tracy Crosswhite series, where the Seattle homicide detective is thrown headlong into the path of a killer conspiracy.

Robert Dugoni revisits Seattle Homicide Detective Tracy Crosswhite in Close to Home, the fifth book in his critically acclaimed #1 Kindle and Wall Street Journal bestselling series. Also the New York Times bestselling author of the David Sloane novels and the non-fiction title The Cyanide Canary, Dugoni has been the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for fiction and a two-time nominee for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction; further, his books have been nominated for the Edgar Award and twice the International Thriller Award.

In the opening pages of Close to Home, readers meet spirited 12-year-old D’Andre Miller, hustling home from the rec center to beat his 9 o’clock curfew, the treasure that is his leather basketball tucked protectively in the crook of his arm. Still flying high from the three-pointer he sunk to win his team the game and the Lil Wayne track flowing through his earbuds, he is impervious to the March night’s frigid temperature—but not the vehicle that runs him down and sends his prized ball into a gutter. It’s over in an instant, the promise of a young life snuffed out before realization can even dawn, and yet D’Andre’s tragic death will have far-reaching consequences.

[Read John Valeri's review of Close to Home...]

Aug 29 2017 12:00pm

Review: Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Glass Houses by Louise Penny is the 13th book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, which shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience—a court that supersedes all others (available August 29, 2017).

Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny returns with Glass Houses—the highly anticipated 13th book in her award-winning, convention-defying Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. The resident of a small village south of Montreal, Penny—who received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian literature earlier this year—is a six-time Agatha Award winner and has also received a CWA dagger; her last Gamache book, A Great Reckoning (2016), was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Once again, she is on the cusp of literary transcendence.

Darkness has come to Three Pines. On a cold November day, the tranquility of a lazy morning is shattered when a mysterious cloaked figure—later revealed to be a “cobrador,” or debt collector—descends on the village center and refuses to leave. While this entity makes no overt threat, its sinister intent is palpable, sparking outrage and suspicion among the community. Despite his own unease, Armand Gamache is loath to take action; after all, no laws have been broken. Still, the threat of death lingers in the air:

[Read John Valeri's review of Glass Houses...]

Aug 24 2017 1:00pm

Review: Snap Judgment by Marcia Clark

Snap Judgment by Marcia Clark is the third installment in the Samantha Brinkman series, where the attorney’s investigation into a family’s deadly secrets is compromised by a threat from her past (available August 29, 2017).

Though the world at large knows Marcia Clark from her days as a prosecutor—she famously headed the ill-fated criminal case against O.J. Simpson back in the mid-90s, capping a distinguished career in the elite Special Trials Unit of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office—genre readers have come to recognize her as a fresh, fierce voice in crime fiction. While her first series paid homage to that lineage, her newest literary endeavor, the Samantha (“Sam”) Brinkman novels, is written from the other side of counsel table. Though this may come as a surprise to some, Clark began her tenure as a defense attorney and currently represents the indigent on appeal—meaning these particular books draw upon the entirety of her legal background.

[Read John Valeri's review of Snap Judgment...]

Aug 15 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Kelley Armstrong, Author of Rituals

Kelley Armstrong is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of more than 30 novels. These include the 13-book urban fantasy Otherworld saga and the recent Casey Butler books (City of the Lost, A Darkness Absolute) as well as a YA standalone, Missing. Her newest, Rituals (available August 15, 2017), is the fifth and final entry in her popular Cainsville series, also comprised of Omens, Visions, Deceptions, and Betrayals. Ms. Armstrong makes her home in southwestern Ontario, where she writes from her locked basement dungeon.

Recently, the author generously entertained questions about crafting satisfying conclusions, balancing creative ambitions with reader expectations, and maintaining a sense of realism in her supernatural storytelling, among other curiosities.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Aug 14 2017 3:00pm

Review: I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen

I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen is the 12th Rizzoli & Isles novel, where the pair pursues a shadowy psychopath keeping secrets and taking lives (available August 15, 2017).

After seven seasons on the small screen, Rizzoli & Isles bid farewell to its loyal audience nearly a year ago. Fortunately, Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles pre-existed their celluloid counterparts, and New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen has no plans to retire them from the page. The dynamic duo returns in I Know a Secret—the first series entry since 2014’s Die Again and 12th overall.

It’s winter in Boston when Rizzoli and Isles are summoned to the home of indie horror movie producer Cassandra Coyle, who’s been found dead in her bed. Despite the lack of blood or any obvious cause of death, it’s clearly a case of murder: the 26-year-old’s eyes have been removed (postmortem) and placed in the palm of her hand. Is this the work of a sadistic killer acting out his own scary movie, they wonder, or is there some other meaning to the perverse imagery? The discovery of a second corpse, also felled in a symbolic fashion, suggests that their perpetrator is making a statement—and that there are more names on his/her hit list.

[Read John Valeri's review of I Know a Secret...]

Aug 11 2017 1:00pm

Review: Reckless by Allison Brennan

Reckless by Allison Brennan is a Lucy Kincaid novella that takes place after the events of the fifth book in the series, Stalked, which sees a romantic camping trip devolve into a search for a missing boy.

In addition to the popular series novels that feature Lucy Kincaid as both a leading lady and a peripheral character, New York Times bestseller Allison Brennan has revisited her in a few shorter works. Reckless (2013) is a novella that takes place after the events of the full-length novel, Stalked (2012), though its story stands alone.

Reckless finds FBI trainee Lucy Kincaid—who made it her mission to join the academy after surviving a sexual assault and attempted murder (2007’s Fear No Evil)—and private investigator Sean Rogan settling into the woods for a spontaneous weekend getaway. Lucy hasn’t been camping since her month-older nephew and childhood best friend, Justin, was killed eighteen years ago. Still, she’s looking forward to some rare alone time with boyfriend—an oft intended refuge from the darkness of their work that is inevitably interrupted by the murderous mayhem that punctuates Brennan’s books.

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

Aug 4 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter is a searing, spellbinding blend of cold-case thriller and psychological suspense (available August 8, 2017).

In 2015, New York Times and internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter threw a real-life plot twist at readers when she departed from her beloved William Trent series to offer her first standalone, Pretty Girls. After returning to her roots with last year’s police procedural, The Kept Woman, Slaughter is once again defying expectation with The Good Daughter.

March 16, 1989: Teenage sisters Charlotte (“Charlie”) and Samantha (“Sam”) Quinn—daughters of Pikeville, Georgia’s controversial defense attorney Rusty Quinn—are the victims of a brutal if hastily executed attack. Their mother, Gamma, is shot before their eyes and left to bleed out on the kitchen floor. Sam is also gunned down and left for dead, though she miraculously survives a bullet to the brain. Charlie escapes through the woods, seemingly unscathed (at least physically), and finds sanctuary at a neighbor’s home. It’s the beginning of a waking nightmare that will torment them for decades to come.

[Read John Valeri's review of The Good Daughter...]

Aug 4 2017 1:00pm

Review: Kiss Me, Kill Me by Allison Brennan

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Allison Brennan is the second book in the Lucy Kincaid series, where Lucy's search for a missing girl intersects with an ongoing investigation of a serial killer in NYC.

New York Times bestseller Allison Brennan has often defied convention throughout her celebrated career. Case in point: Lucy Kincaid, a periphery character from the author’s oeuvre who was later resurrected as a leading lady. Lucy was first seen in the final book of Brennan’s No Evil Trilogy, Fear No Evil (2007), where she narrowly escaped an imprisonment that was intended to end in her murder, broadcast live on webcam for an eager at-home audience.

Kiss Me, Kill Me is the second novel to feature Lucy Kincaid as a central protagonist, following Love Me to Death (2010). As the story opens, readers find Lucy anxiously awaiting word as to whether or not she’s been accepted into the FBI Academy. Meanwhile, her boyfriend of six weeks, security expert Sean Rogan—business partner of Lucy’s protective older brother, Patrick—has been drawn into the disappearance of high school senior Kirsten Benton, now missing for five days. Despite a history of brief runaways following her parents’ divorce and a relocation to Virginia, she has broken her pattern by failing to return home by Sunday evening and not making contact with her mother. Sean invites Lucy to assist in the investigation, given her unique abilities and understanding of the teenage mind.

[Read John Valeri's review of Kiss Me, Kill Me...]

Aug 2 2017 11:00am

Review: Cat About Town by Cate Conte

Cat About Town by Cate ConteCat About Town by Cate Conte is the first novel in a frisky new Cat Cafe Mystery series set in a small New England town, where an unlikely citizen is called in to solve the purrfect crime.

Take a visual tour of Cat About Town with GIFnotes!

Cat About Town is the first Cat Cafe Mystery in a planned series from Cate Conte, the pseudonym of cozy author Liz Mugavero, who writes the feline-friendly Pawsitively Organic books.

At the outset, readers are introduced to “cat whisperer” Madalyn (“Maddie”) James, who has returned from San Francisco where she co-owns and operates an organic juice bar to the East Coast for her grandmother’s final days and funeral service. Daybreak Island, just off the coast of Massachusetts, is the small town where she grew up and where her family still make their homes. Maddie is staying with her grandfather Leo—the town’s former chief of police—and is distressed to learn that Frank O’Malley, President of the Chamber of Commerce, wants Leo to sell his house so that a new business venture can capitalize on its prime location.

[Read John Valeri's review of Cat About Town...]

Aug 1 2017 2:30pm

Q&A with J. D. Trafford, Author of Little Boy Lost

J.D. Trafford is an award-winning novelist who has topped numerous Amazon bestseller lists. His debut, No Time to Run, was selected by IndieReader as a bestselling pick. Mr. Trafford graduated with honors from a top-twenty law school and has worked as a civil and criminal prosecutor, an associate at a large national law firm, and a nonprofit attorney; he’s handled issues of housing, education, and poverty in communities of color. His newest novel, Little Boy Lost (available August 1, 2017), is published by Thomas & Mercer.

Recently, Mr. Trafford entertained questions pertaining to standalone vs. series writing, crafting conflicted characters, the importance of setting, and the role of creative license, among other topics.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

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...]