“The best way I can describe the Four Corners neighborhood of Chicago is find a length of rebar, scratch a big cross into the concrete, set your feet solid in the quadrant you like best, lean back, and start shooting.”
Officer Bobby Vargas is hard-edged but idealistic, a Chicago cop who stands at the epicenter of a subterranean plot that will have horrific ramifications for both himself and the entire city. Twenty-five years earlier, a gruesome murder rocked the unforgiving streets of Four Corners. Now, suddenly, a dying Chicago paper is running a serial exposé on new evidence in that old case, threatening to implicate Bobby and his older brother, Ruben—a decorated, high-ranking detective and cop- prince of the streets. The smear campaign stirs up decades-old bad blood, leading the Vargas brothers down an increasingly twisted and terrifying path, where the sins of the past threaten to destroy what remains of the truth.
TREACEROUS: GRIFTERS, RUFFIANS AND KILLERS, the short stories of Gary Phillips, is a new collection from Perfect Crime Books that brings together for the first time the various tales of chicanery and odd goings on the veteran mystery writer has produced over the years. For instance in “The Thrill is Gone” (from SEX, LIES AND PRIVATE EYES), a hit man rescued from the agonies of Hell is a reluctant envoy sent back to Earth to dispatch evil for Heaven; in “Roger Crumbler Considers His Shave” (from LOS ANGELES NOIR), a mild-mannered middle-aged accountant on his birthday contemplates much more than having a second slice of cake; and in “Branded” (from FLESH AND BLOOD: EROTIC TALESS OF CRIME AND PASSION) a philandering husband wakes after a night of debauchery with a tattoo in a…rather uncomfortable location that will be hard to explain to his out-of-town wife.
Katherine Howell is an Australian ex-paramedic who uses that experience to excellent effect in her bestselling crime series featuring Sydney police detective Ella Marconi. She talked to The Big Thrill about her work.
Tell us about your latest book.
SILENT FEAR is the fifth book in the series, and it kicks off on a searing summer’s day when paramedic Holly Garland rushes to an emergency to find a man collapsed with a bullet wound in the back of his head, CPR being performed by two bystanders, and her long-estranged brother Seth watching it all unfold. Seth claims to be the dying man’s best friend, but Holly knows better than to believe anything he says and fears that his re-appearance will reveal the bleak secrets of her past—secrets which both her fiance Norris and her colleagues have no idea exist, and which if exposed could cause her to lose everything.
In Peter May’s new hardback original THE LEWIS MAN (Quercus, January 2012), an unidentified corpse is recovered from a peat bog and the only clue to its identity is a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald, now an elderly man suffering from dementia, has always claimed to be an only child. When Tormod’s family approaches Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.
THE LEWIS MAN is the follow-up to May’s international bestseller THE BLACKHOUSE, which the IRISH INDEPENDENT described as “a beautifully written, haunting and powerful examination of the darkness of men’s souls … An outstanding page-turning murder mystery.”
You might say T. Jefferson Parker (Jeff) has to be in the mood to write. That’s because he sees the starting place for each of his novels to be an “internal atmosphere” (or mood) he wants to explore. For his 19th novel, THE JAGUAR, he took captivity, fear, and helplessness, whose only antidotes according to Jeff are “the creation of art and serious good luck.”
And he continues, “I wanted a languid jungle, tropical heat and history, surprising flora and fauna. I wanted music in the face of narco-terror, the idea that Art is the Answer to Death. I wanted a long-in-the-tooth castle in this jungle, filled with mysteries and treasures and beauties and scary, scary people.”
By Don Helin
In his novel, STORM DAMAGE, Ed Kovacs unleashes a story so thrilling that New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry says, “Hard-edge, Frenetic. This tale is fluid, dark, and compelling. Ed Kovacs is a vivid addition to the thriller genre.”
Synopsis: In a city overwhelmed with murder and mayhem, the last homicide before a Category 5 hurricane wipes out New Orleans is quickly forgotten and remains unsolved. Until now.
A mixed-martial arts coach and bare-knuckled former cop investigates a curious missing persons/murder case. The cold trail quickly heats up, propelling him into a battle of wits and brawn with the deadliest killers operating in the apocalyptic, post-hurricane ruins of New Orleans.
Some of my favorite mystery novels star an investigator dragged into a case he originally had no interest in. That’s just what happens to investigative journalist Mick Murphy in STAIRWAY TO THE BOTTOM, the latest novel from Michael Haskins. And from there it gets weird.
The book opens with a hit man changing his mind about his decision to be in the witness protection program. He makes his escape on a Jet Ski. Russian agents left over from the Cold War believe the man on the run may also be an agent that fled with $20 million in diamonds just as the Berlin Wall was coming down. As it turns out, our hero Mick Murphy was the last person to see the hit man alive. When the Russians send an agent to Key West, Florida to interrogate Murphy, well, that’s when the adventure really takes off.
A VINE IN THE BLOOD, Leighton Gage’s fifth thriller due in December, is driven by the upcoming FIFA World Cup games to be held in Brazil and solving a kidnapping that will dramatically effect Brazil’s futebol team, an assumed favorite to win the games.
Gage’s four previous Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation thrillers have included travels through Brazil’s interior, mixed in with politics and corruption in the bigger cities like Sao Paulo, that trickle down to the police and government agencies in out-of-the-way locales. A VINE IN THE BLOOD focuses on Sao Paulo and its suburbs, allowing Gage to show readers one of Brazil’s largest cities with its traffic and roadway problems as well as its everyday citizens.
David Hodges is a former police superintendent with a wealth of experience at the sharp end of police work, which he draws upon in his four crime-fiction books. His most recent is FIRETRAP, a hardback published in October by Robert Hale Ltd. In it, Detective Constable Kate Hamblin narrowly escapes death when her police surveillance van is blown apart by an incendiary device. Accused of abandoning two colleagues who died in the explosion and suspended from duty, she embarks on a desperate mission to nail the killer herself. But she finds herself being stalked by the very man she is pursuing—a ruthless psychopath who is determined to silence his only witness.
“Write what you know” is advice familiar to every author. But what if you’re a writer with a wide range of life experiences, a writer knowledgeable about a lot of different things?
David J. Walker has been, at various times before becoming a fulltime writer, a parish priest, an investigator for the Chicago Police Department, and a lawyer. It’s no surprise, then, that people who do what Walker actually did in real life keep cropping up in his books.
“The lawyer and police jobs—I was in the unit of the Chicago P.D. that investigated charges of ‘excessive force’ against officers—were obviously helpful for a crime writer,” Walker said. “And the parish priest gig? When I began I really didn’t contemplate writing about priests, but as it turns out they have kept popping up, even when I don’t expect them to. I look on my ‘past lives’ as part of my own well of experience, and when I drop the bucket down it’s not surprising that I would frequently draw up lawyers and priests and cops.”
1930s Hollywood. Discredited LAPD detective Chris Blanchard is hired by MGM Studios mogul Louis B. Mayer and stumbles into a murder. His hunt for the killer uncovers a blackmail scheme by the Nazi-infested German American Bund that could result in the deaths of thousands. More bodies fall and hidden truths emerge as Blanchard battles his way through life-threatening twists that lead to dead ends, near-disasters and deals that convert enemies to partners-in-crime.
By Derek Gunn
ANTHONY LARK has a list of names—Terry Dawtrey, Sutton Bell, Henry Kormoran. To his eyes, the names glow red on the page. The men on the list have little in common except that seventeen years ago they were involved in a notorious bank robbery. Now Lark is hunting them, and he won’t stop until every one of them is dead.
This is the second novel from Harry Dolan featuring his mystery magazine editor, and sometimes detective, David Loogan. I must admit I missed his first novel, Bad Things Happen and I’m sorry I did. The writing draws you in immediately and the characters hold you tightly. The pace is fast throughout and the plotting is tight. I finished this in two sittings, and at over 400 pages that was a major investment in time, especially when I have a lot on this week. The story begins with the narrator, Loogan, and is told in the first person and then switches between other character point-of-views so that we get to see what is happening outside of the influence of the main character.
New York City homicide detective Stan Green has seen better days. As his family life threatens to disintegrate and his work partner is seriously injured, he is assigned to the most shocking case of his career—a strange and remarkably violent murder. Stan must look into the crime alone. He finds just one witness, a neurologically disabled recluse who sees images of the perpetrator and others as demonic hallucinations. As more murders occur, and he drifts further from his family, Stan’s suspicion and rage escalate. Soon he realizes that the murders fall into the pattern of a serial killer—and starts to believe that his witness is not at all insane, but terrifyingly perceptive.
By George Ebey
I recently caught up with author Jeremy Brown whose new novel, Suckerpunch, takes place in the tough-as-nails world of MMA heavyweight fighting.
No head butts, groin strikes, or eye gouges—MMA heavyweight Woodshed Wallace thinks they’re taking all the fun out of fighting. He also thinks he’s beaten his criminal past, but the past fights dirty. Woody’s stuck on no-name cards fighting for gas money when Banzai Eddie Takanori—president of MMA’s largest organization—offers him a last minute fight against a highly favored poster boy. By the time Woody realizes he’s a pawn in a high stakes game between psychopaths, he and those he loves are in way too deep. Good thing he can take a punch. And give a few back.
By Ethan Cross
Lee Child proclaimed David Levien to be a “must-read thriller writer,” and David’s work has been described as “Violent and compelling, with the flavour of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, this is American thriller writing at its rocket-fuelled, roller-coaster best.” David has written three books featuring retired detective, Frank Behr, but he is also well known for his screenplay and directorial work on such popular Hollywood productions as Ocean’s Thirteen, Rounders, Knockaround Guys, Walking Tall, and Runaway Jury.
In the newest book in the series, 13 Million Dollar Pop, Frank Behr is on an executive protection detail for Bernard “Bernie Cool” Kolodnik, a hard-driving real estate mogul on the verge of making a move into big-time Indiana politics, when it all goes wrong in a chaotic burst of automatic weapons fire.
It has been twelve years since Jimmy set foot in the desert border town of his youth. But as his father’s cancer spreads, Jimmy returns to share what little time they have left. He never expected to be sent into the Mexicali underworld in search of a hooker named Yolanda. With the help of an erratic-at-best childhood friend and too much beer, Jimmy stumbles among the violent, the exploited and the corrupted on the Calexico/Mexicali border.
The search that follows forces Jimmy to confront family secrets and question everything he held to be true about his father.
by Nate Kenyon
As Amanda Kyle Williams will freely admit, struggling writers do a lot of things to pay the bills while waiting for their big break. According to her website, Williams has been a freelance journalist, house painter, a property manager, a sales rep, a commercial embroiderer, a courier, a VP of manufacturing at a North Georgia textile mill, and owned Latch Key Pets, a pet sitting and dog walking business. She also worked with a PI firm in Atlanta on surveillance operations, and became a court-appointed process server.
But everything changed for her when Bantam bought the rights to the first three books in her new Keye Street series. The Big Thrill sat down with Williams recently to learn more.
By Andy Straka
In Chuck Hustmyre’s fast-paced new thriller A KILLER LIKE ME New Orleans homicide detective Sean Murphy and his partner Juan Gaudet track a ritualistic serial killer calling himself the Lamb of God.
Still-reeling a year after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, city officials want the murders kept quiet. With yet another hurricane lurking in the gulf, Murphy does his best to try to get inside the madman’s head and guess his next move. But the Lamb of God is already one step ahead of him. Before Sean knows it, the killer has learned his own secret—a secret that could send Sean to prison. The Lamb of God sees in Sean a worthy adversary . . . maybe even one of a like mind.
In the late eighties and nineties, the legal thriller was King, and many hoped that the financial thriller would become just as big. However, as the nineties progressed, this didn’t happen. In fact, the legal thriller began to wane in popularity.
Michael Ridpath, author of Where The Shadows Lie, is undoubtedly a brave writer. Having previously written eight successful financial thrillers, he took a risky decision to switch genres. In part, this was a personal decision, but it was also a decidedly commercial one.
Ridpath’s writing had improved with each novel, yet, he found himself wanting to move beyond the narrow world of finance, which he knew intimately, stretch himself further, and explore the wider world. With sales of his financial thrillers slowly declining, he spent time thinking about what he could do next. After his research, he came to the conclusion that he wanted to write a series of crime novels, rather than the stand-alone thrillers he had become known for. He was going to write about an unusual detective, and a foreign land.
By J. N. Duncan
I’d like to welcome crime writer, Jarkko Sipila, whose crime fiction story, Helsinki Homicide: Nothing But The Truth, comes out this August, from Ice Cold Crime. Mr. Sipila is part of the growing wave of Scandanavian crime fiction writers getting published in the U.S., and I’d like to give him a warm welcome here at ITW. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his interesting journey to getting published here in the U.S. and about his new release.
Here is a short synopsis for Nothing But The Truth:
A young cocaine dealer is gunned down at the door of his apartment on the outskirts of downtown Helsinki, Finland. Detective Lieutenant Kari Takamäki and his homicide team find the trigger man but need the help of a witness to try to figure who was working behind the scenes. The witness is torn between her principles and her desire to keep her family safe. How much should an ordinary citizen sacrifice for the benefit of society as a whole?
By Don Lafferty
When bestselling author John Lutz isn’t writing he’s…well, according to Lutz, he’s always writing.
“Being a writer is like being a cop; you’re always one, even off duty,” explains Lutz.
It’s no surprise that Lutz should frame his choice of vocation in the cop analogy; he’s been living with cops, private eyes, and all manner of bad guys running around in his head for his whole adult life, and doing his best to get their stories out of his head and into one of his more than forty novels and two hundred plus short stories.
His latest book, SERIAL, is the sixth in the Frank Quinn series of suspense thrillers, and finds Quinn and his team of brilliant law-enforcement misfits on the trail of yet another serial killer, this time in New York City.
The stories feature the same two characters: Crip and Henrietta, some of the same bad guys, good guys and, as in a novel, the characters develop over time. Neil Smith of Plots With Guns says the pair “are a hoot – a pierced-punk babe with an attitude and a paraplegic private eye make a winning team. Other characters include Alvin, Henrietta’s racist boyfriend who we first meet while he is doing time at Pelican Bay; Ralph and Patsy, two massive Presa Canario fighting dogs that eat nothing but raw steak and an occasional human ear; Allison, a vet who extracts a bullet from Patsy and becomes Crip’s lover; Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones of the Mafia.
In the middle of a withering heat wave, the murder of a top NFL cornerback draft pick in a house owned by developer Kent Kramer presents a puzzle for his best friend and Prosperity, NC, police chief Judd Wheeler. First, while the athlete was murdered naked in the kitchen, there are bloodstained bills in the pocket of his pants upstairs. Second, the stains aren’t from the player, but rather link to a second murder that took place in Morgan, the Bliss County seat, days earlier.
To solve the puzzle, Wheeler deals with a paroled sex offender, con games perpetrated by an itinerant tent preacher with a dark secret, a burgeoning motorcycle gang war, a phantom suspect who is always just beyond his grasp. In the small town of Prosperity, NC, it seems that nothing ever comes to a good end in the month of the Thunder Moon.
An ex-New Orleans vice cop fights to prove his innocence after being framed for a robbery and murder at the Mafia-owned brothel and casino where he works.
Now a motion picture from Lionsgate, starring Dave Bautista, Amy Smart, Dominic Purcell, and Danny Trejo.
Watch the HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN movie trailer.
“A gritty, action-packed read.” –Edgar Award winner Julie Smith
“Chuck Hustmyre writes with a gritty realism that makes turning each page an act of bravery — you never know what gut wrenching danger lurks in the forthcoming paragraphs! This guy can do no wrong when it comes to suspense thrillers, and House of the Rising Sun proves it.” –Edgar Award winner Burl Barer
“Hustmyre brings to life the dark underworld of The Big Easy reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles. Detective fiction doesn’t get any better than this!” –Gary C. King, author of RAGE and AN ALMOST PERFECT MURDER
“House of the Rising Sun is a great ride. Grab this book and head down to the wrong side of New Orleans. You won’t regret it.” –Criminal Profiler Pat Brown, author of THE PROFILER: MY LIFE HUNTING SERIAL KILLERS AND PSYCHOPATHS
“The hard-boiled tale, the disgraced ex-vice cop, the bloody, filthy underworld of the New Orleans French Quarter. This is classic gritty crime fiction.” –Matthew Randazzo V, author of MR. NEW ORLEANS: THE LIFE OF A BIG EASY UNDERWORLD LEGEND
“House of the Rising sun is lean, mean, and nasty. Hustmyre’s spare, hardboiled prose instantly grabs hold and takes you on a great ride. A book for those who like their thrillers grim and dirty.” –Simon Read, author of WAR OF WORDS: A TRUE TALE OF NEWSPRINT AND MURDER
Chuck Hustmyre wrote the screenplay for the new Lionsgate movie HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN, which he adapted from his own novel. He also wrote the new novel A KILLER LIKE ME and the true crime books KILLER WITH A BADGE and UNSPEAKABLE VIOLENCE.
To learn more about Chuck Hustmyre, please visit his website.
Helping out at a church fete, antiques dealer Lina Townend comes across a tatty snuff-box, which seems to be valuable enough for someone to try to snatch from under her nose. Then the would-be thief attacks Griff, her dear mentor and business partner, frames Lina for a crime she didn’t commit, and killls an old friend – and maybe other people too. Because the police officer in charge of the case can’t give it her full attention, Lina reluctantly seeks help from a former boyfriend, now married with a baby. When her father, the alcoholic Lord Elham gets involved too, things coud easily descend into chaos and tragedy.
Critically acclaimed author Ken Mercer follows up his best selling Slow Fire with another suspenseful tour de force, East on Sunset. The book features the return of narcotics detective Will Magowan, now retired from law enforcement and starting over with his estranged wife.
Magowan is a vulnerable man not prone to sharing his feelings, but a good man nonetheless with all the makings of a hero, according to Mercer.
“You’d like him once you got to know him,” Mercer says, “but he’s a little hard to get to know. If you invited him to a party, I don’t know that he’d show up. Once you get to know him, he’s a great person to have in your corner, because he’s loyal and stands up for what he believes is right–even when it costs him personally.”
Maureen Coughlin, a New York City cocktail waitress, sees something she shouldn’t involving a co-worker and a local politician. When her co-worker turns up dead the next morning, Maureen goes on the run through the seedy underbelly of Staten Island, to protect herself and her mother.
Neil S. Plakcy offers a tightly-plotted police procedural mystery in his latest novel, MAHU BLOOD. But what sets this 6th outing in the Mahu series apart from all the others is that he also serves up an emotionally charged thriller about family values in Hawaii.
In MAHU BLOOD, openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka must learn who killed Aunty Edith Kapana at a Hawaiian nationalism rally. The death sets off competition between several groups for control of the millions of dollars at stake in reparations for the US takeover of Hawaii in 1893. One of the groups competing for the chance to lead a sovereign Hawaii bases its claim on the familial descent of its leader.
by Virna DePaul
A DANGEROUS CHAIN OF EVENTS…
Fall From Grace by Wayne Arthurson marks the debut of Leo Desroches, one of the most unusual amateur detectives ever to appear in Canada or points south. This fast-paced, enthralling mystery is the story of a man who had everything, lost it all, and is trying to get it back.
Journalist Leo Desroches doesn’t look like a native, but his mother was Cree, and he understands the problems of indigenous Canadians of the First Nations. When he’s assigned to cover the murder of a young native prostitute, it’s just one more story…until the cop in charge lets him view the corpse, something the Edmonton police never do.