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Showing posts by: kristen lepionka click to see kristen lepionka's profile
Jun 13 2017 9:00am

Kristen Lepionka Excerpt: The Last Place You Look

kristen lepionka

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka is a gripping debut and the first book in the new Roxane Weary series (available June 13, 2017).

Nobody knows what happened to Sarah Cook. The beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton—black and from the wrong side of the tracks—was convicted of the murders and is now on death row. Though he’s maintained his innocence all along, the clock is running out. His execution is only weeks away when his devoted sister insists she spied Sarah at an area gas station. Willing to try anything, she hires PI Roxane Weary to look at the case and see if she can locate Sarah.

Brad might be in a bad way, but private investigator Roxane Weary isn’t doing so hot herself. Still reeling from the recent death of her cop father in the line of duty, her main way of dealing with her grief has been working as little and drinking as much as possible. But Roxane finds herself drawn into the story of Sarah's vanishing act, especially when she links the disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl.

The stakes get higher as Roxane discovers that the two girls may not be the only beautiful blonde teenagers who’ve turned up missing or dead. As her investigation gets darker and darker, Roxane will have to risk everything to find the truth. Lives depend on her cracking this case—hers included.

[Read an excerpt from The Last Place You Look...]

May 18 2017 2:00pm

The QUILTBAG Detective: Queer Characters in Crime Fiction

Read Kristen Lepionka's quick-hits list of the top depictions of queer identities in crime fiction, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of her upcoming debut novel, The Last Place You Look!

The Quiltbag Detective sounds like a great title for a cozy series, right? QUILTBAG is actually an acronym*—a catchy, inclusive one gaining popularity for the LGBTQ+ set. Crime fiction actually has a long history of homophobic language in its pages, but despite that—or maybe in spite of it—queer detective characters have been around for some time, able to navigate spaces that straight characters can’t and provide insights that straight characters don’t see. 

From the over-the-top camp of Lou Rand’s The Gay Detective (1961, also published as Rough Trade)—widely regarded as the first American gay detective character, whose sexual orientation is cloaked in not-so-subtle innuendo and sarcasm—to the 16 Lambda finalists for gay and lesbian mystery last year, there are plenty of writers with compelling depictions of queer identities in crime fiction. Here’s a brief primer on some of the high notes. (A number of these are out of print at the moment, so polish up your library card or your magnifying glass for a used bookstore treasure hunt.)

[See the full list below!]

Apr 28 2017 2:00pm

Ladies’ Night: Book and Cocktail Pairings for a Night In

A drink order says a lot about a person—that’s maybe why there are approximately a zillion online quizzes promising to reveal the secret of our personalities based on our drink of choice. And in mystery novels, a character’s favorite drink is equally as telling. A fun way to get into a protagonist’s head is to match her drink for drink while you’re reading about her exploits. Here are some standout female characters in classic and contemporary mystery fiction and what they are drinking throughout the novels they star in. 

(Note: a good whisk(e)y goes with any mystery novel, in my opinion.)

[Get a few recipes below and party with your favorite female characters!]

Mar 16 2017 2:00pm

Research Ride-Along

Research is possibly my favorite part of the writing process. It delays the hard part—the writing words part—indefinitely. (Note to editor: that is a joke.) But also, I want to get it right, especially when it comes to police work.

We’ve all encountered stories where the police work is glossed over so heavily it’s distracting, like on one of those TV detective squads with a giant, wall-sized computer screen that solves their cases for them—The Crime-O-Matic, I call this—or far-fetched gaps in procedure or plausibility that distract from the plot. Creative license is good, and necessary, but realistic details are essential for fully developed characters, settings, and situations.

That’s what led me to the Columbus Police’s Civilian Ride-Along Program. I’d already Googled my heart out regarding police procedure, and now I just wanted to see how it worked, hear how cops talked to each other. You can’t exactly Google, “What does a squad room smell like?” or “Does the ladies’ room of the police impound lot have toilet paper?” But, I can answer both of those after my experience. (Answers, respectively: pizza and coffee; no.)

[Read more about her Kristen Lepionka's police ride-along...]

Feb 14 2017 2:30pm

Ladies First: Groundbreaking Women in Crime Fiction

Any mystery lover knows how significant Agatha Christie is to the crime-fiction genre. But she wasn’t the only woman on the scene—nor the first. Women crime writers have always been influential in the world of mysteries, and here are a few who may be less familiar to even a dedicated reader.

If you were investigating the case of the modern crime novel—scouring its pages for prints, swabbing carefully to get a read on its DNA—you might expect the trail of its origins to lead back to the usual suspects: Dupin and Holmes, Poirot and Marple, Spenser and Sam Spade. But this literary genealogy is incomplete without the inclusion of the women (many of them not named Agatha Christie) who helped shape the genre but haven't commanded lasting literary attention. Inspect the list below to find any number of overlooked gems that deserve a second look. 

[Read about crime fiction's women author pioneers!]

Jan 18 2017 2:00pm

A Driving Tour of Midwestern Mysteries

With so many mysteries set in big cities, Kristen Lepionka spreads the love to the Midwest, outlining some of the best mysteries in the region! Read her exclusive guest post, and make sure to sign in and comment for a chance to win her debut novel, The Last Place You Look!

To a detective character from a big city like New York or Los Angeles, the Midwest might look like one big flyover zone. But to plenty of mystery writers (myself included), the Midwest looks like home—and a good setting for a crime novel. We have plenty of cynicism to counteract that apple-cheeked, earnest idea of Midwestern values, and wild imaginations besides. Here is a selection of mysteries set in each of the ten states that officially comprise the Midwest, at least according to the census bureau. The geographic region, that is, not the mysteries. I don’t know if the census bureau likes mysteries, but I hope they do.

[Take the tour!]