Crime Fiction

A Way With Murder by R.J. Jagger

In a throwback to the era of Mike Hammer and Shell Scott, Denver private investigator Bryson Wilde lives in an edgy 1950s world where the women are dangerous, cigarettes dangle from ruby-red lips and the nights are hotter than whiskey-soaked jazz.

So when a curvy young blonde who thinks she may be the target of a killer walks in one morning and asks for his help, he’s not the kind to say no just because things might get a little dicey.

What he foresees is a dangerous but straightforward hunt. What he doesn’t foresee is that he will be swept into a deadly vortex of unimaginable scope where nothing is as it seems and time is running out.
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A Bad Day for Mercy by Sophie Littlefield

By George Ebey

If you haven’t met Stella Hardesty yet, now is the perfect time.  Stella is the tough and tenacious subject of a stunning new series of crime mysteries by author Sophie Littlefield.

And book four, A BAD DAY FOR MERCY, just may prove to be her toughest case yet.

This time out, a call from Stella’s little sister brings the news that Stella’s step-nephew, Chip, has been threatened with serious bodily harm if he doesn’t settle his unpaid gambling debts. So Stella makes the drive to Chip’s home in Wisconsin, only to walk in on a wee-hours dismemberment. Chip and his girlfriend, Natalya, insist the man was left, already dead, on their porch. Suspicious but compelled to help family, Stella tracks down other suspects, including the deceased’s business partner, a purveyor of black-market Botox, and a jilted violist. Matters are complicated by the unexpected arrival of BJ Broderson, who has picked the worst possible time to pursue his amorous intentions toward Stella. Meanwhile, thoughts of Sheriff “Goat” Jones make her blush and wonder where, and with whom, Stella will spend her fifty-first birthday.
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Hell or High Water by Joy Castro

Street-tough Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, gets assigned to a story about the hundreds of sex offenders who went off the grid during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation. At the same time, a tourist who looks eerily like Nola is abducted from the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past and is confronted with the question: In the aftermath of devastation, who is responsible for rebuilding what’s been broken?
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Between The Lines with Linda Fairstein by Julie Kramer

By Julie Kramer

New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein is back with NIGHT WATCH, her fourteenth thriller starring sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper. Fairstein has certainly lived her research, spending a career as a New York prosecutor before becoming a crime novelist. She remains a leading legal expert on sex crimes and domestic violence.

Her latest tale of suspense features a wealthy financier charged with attacking a hotel maid – a ripped from the headlines premise. As an added treat, readers get an inside look at the ruthless business of gourmet dining.  Booklist gave NIGHT WATCH a starred review, calling it “a real winner from a legal thriller master.”

Here in THE BIG THRILL, Fairstein discusses the difficulty of finishing NIGHT WATCH after the death of her husband, what scares her most about changes in the publishing industry, and her take on the 50 SHADES OF GREY phenomenon.
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Ransom River by Meg Gardiner

By Grant McKenzie

RANSOM RIVER is an atmospheric thriller about a complex and flawed heroine, a murder trial, and the long-unsolved mystery it exposes. Rory Mackenzie is a juror on a high-profile murder case in her hometown of Ransom River, California. It’s a place she vowed never to visit again, and her return dredges up troubling memories from the childhood she spent as an outsider. But in the wake of a desperate attack on the courthouse, Rory realizes that exposing these dark skeletons has connected her to an old case that was never solved, and bringing the truth to light just might destroy her.
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In Her Blood by Annie Hauxwell

By Michael Haskins

Annie Hauxwell was born in Hackney and immigrated with her family to Australia when she was a teenager. She abandoned the area of medical negligence law in England and security and investigation law for a telecommunication company in Australia to work as an investigator, and now combines this with writing. She lives in Castlemaine, a small country town in Victoria, and travels to London frequently. She is published by Penguin Australia and in the UK by Random House.
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The Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli

Fat Burglar Blues
by Tom Piccirilli (originally appeared in The Big Click)

So I’m thinking of robbing my next door neighbor’s house.  He’s a cop.

By his own admission he’s a terrible shot.  And he’s a jolly cop, with a little paunch and a beaming sweet-guy smile.  He’s Officer Norman Rockwell who gets cats out of trees.  Not an intimidating fucker with a cop mustache and ashen eyes who you know just loves to beat the shit out of cuffed prisoners with telephone books.  Combined yellow and white pages, not just those little DEX directories.

He reads comic books, like me.  Still subscribes to them even though I can’t afford to anymore.  I’m envious.  I burn with jealousy and greed.  He smiles and talks about series titles I can no longer follow.  The Avengers, X-Men, Daredevil, Batman.  It makes me nostalgic.  It makes me think of a time when my father used to read to me.  It drives me bugshit.  A lot of things do these days.
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Blackwattle Creek by Geoffrey McGeachin

It’s September 1957 and Melbourne police detective Charlie Berlin, former bomber pilot and ex-POW, has wangled himself a week off.

But there’s no rest for Charlie, a decent but damaged man still troubled by his wartimes experiences, when a just widowed friend of his wife asks a favour and he’s dropped into something a hell of a lot bigger than he bargained for.

A local funeral parlour has been burying bodies with parts missing and when a Hungarian émigré hearse driver points Berlin in the right direction for some answers it quickly becomes obvious anyone asking the wrong questions is in real danger.
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A Dark and Broken Heart by R.J. Ellory

By Dawn Ius

A DARK AND BROKEN HEART, like Shakespeare on meth, makes BAD LIEUTENANT look like a kindergarten teacher. You have been warned.

Like each of R.J. Ellory’s books, A DARK AND BROKEN HEART is not part of a series. It’s a stand-alone, where a new environment, a new atmosphere, and new cast of characters must differ from each of his previous nine novels.

Yet, strangely, Ellory admits his newest release is kind of an inadvertent sequel to one of his most popular titles, SAINTS OF NEW YORK.

“SAINTS was a book about a man who appeared to be a disaster. His life was a horror, a real car crash, and yet beneath all of this he was a decent, good-hearted man, just trying to do the best that he could in a terrible, terrible situation,” he says. “A DARK AND BROKEN HEART is a modern Shakespearean tragedy, and deals with the opposite kind of character, a man who appears to be the very best, but beneath the façade he is a nightmare.”
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Sherlock Holmes And The Dead Boer At Scotney Castle by Tim Symonds

Never before had Holmes and Watson come up against a brotherhood like the Kipling League. Dedicated to their Patron Rudyard Kipling, the Poet of Empire, the League’s sole allegiance was to England’s civilising mission. Its members would allow nothing to get in their way.

Tim Symonds’ new novel SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEAD BOER AT SCOTNEY CASTLE  will be published March 19 by MX Publishing, known for their Sherlock Holmes’ authors.

Holmes and Watson take the train to address the mysterious Kipling League at Crick’s End, a Jacobean mansion in deepest Sussex. A body is found in a wagon pond at nearby Scotney Castle – but why the wagon pond and not the moat? And why unclad? What is the meaning of the pair of shiny dark glasses clutched in one hand? And that hatband – could it really be from the skin of a yellow and brown spiny snake?
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False Front by Diane Fanning

In the fifth book in the series, Lieutenant Lucinda Pierce encounters a death that at first appears to be suicide. In another city, Special Agent Jake Lovett pays little attention to a man who seems to be a conspiracy nut—until he’s found dead. As they pursue their separate investigations, the two cases merge into one bigger crime.

When Homicide Investigator Lucinda Pierce finds Candace Eagleton hanging from a rail in her home, a thick rope knotted around her, she vows to catch her killer. A note exposes Candace’s marriage to wealthy husband Frank as a sham, making him Lucinda’s prime suspect.
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Zero Break: A Mahu Investigation by Neil S. Plakcy

If you’ve watched the popular TV series MODERN FAMILY, you already know that gay parenting has become mainstream. Gay men and lesbians are adopting kids and fathering kids in cooperative arrangements, and all kinds of literature from children’s books to literary fiction follows the trend. I chose to take a different angle on the issue in my newest Mahu Investigation, ZERO BREAK.

I was sitting at dinner with a group of other writers when I heard the following story. A gay man of my acquaintance had donated sperm to a lesbian couple, and one of the women had become pregnant twice, and given birth each time to a boy. The gay dad became a part of the family, visiting the boys regularly and developing a relationship with them.
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The Devil’s Bones by Larry D. Sweazy

When a drought reveals a child-size skeleton, the marshal of Dukaine, Indiana is certain the bones belong to an eight year old boy who disappeared nineteen years earlier. When the the marshal is shot, the investigation falls on a young deputy who quickly becomes a suspect, leaving him little time to prove himself innocent, and find out if the boy is really dead, or has returned to town for revenge.
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Start Shooting by Charlie Newton

“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.
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Treacherous: Grifters, Ruffians and Killers by Gary Phillips

By Michael Haskins

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.

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Silent Fear by Katherine Howell

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.
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The Lewis Man by Peter May

By David Raterman

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.”
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The Jaguar by T. Jefferson Parker

By Terry DiDomenico

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.”
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Stairway to the Bottom by Michael Haskins

By Austin Camacho

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.
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Storm Damage by Ed Kovacs

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.
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A Vine in the Blood by Leighton Gage

By Michael Haskins

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.

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Firetrap by David Hodges

By David Raterman

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.
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The Towman’s Daughters by David J. Walker

By Milton C. Toby

“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.”
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A Rhumba In Waltz Time by Robert S. Levinson

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.
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Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan

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.
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A Killer’s Essence by Dave Zeltserman

By L. Dean Murphy

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.
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Suckerpunch by Jeremy Brown

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.
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13 Million Dollar Pop by David Levien

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.
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Dove Season: A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco by Johnny Shaw

A dying man might ask for anything: forgiveness, a compassionate ear, a cold glass of water. Jimmy Veeder’s father asked him for a Mexican prostitute.

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.
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The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

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.
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