Legal Thrillers

Outside the Lines by Sheila Lowe

Sad young woman and a rain dropsBy Sheila Lowe

In the sixth book of the Forensic Handwriting mysteries, what should have been a routine afternoon on the witness stand for handwriting expert Claudia Rose turns into a shocking assault that leaves her traumatized. Then her getaway to the UK lands her in trouble with the FBI and New Scotland Yard—Detective Joel Jovanic’s homicide case has followed Claudia to London where she finds herself unexpectedly allied with the chief suspect.

I’m not a good traveler. More to the point, I’m a hermit who is happiest home alone behind my computer keyboard. But last year, when I learned that my younger son was getting married in Germany, of course I had to leave my hermitude and make the trip. Ben, who was a rock star, had met Tuba, a stunning (inside and out) Turkish-German woman and decided to settle down. Or, as he put it, “trade in his leather pants for a polo shirt.”

Coincidentally, I’d received an invitation to lecture two days after the wedding at a meeting of the British Institute of Graphologists. I’ve lived in the US for most of my life, but I’m British-born and consider England home (my many political posts on Facebook notwithstanding, I still carry a green card). I decided to set some of my book there and happily accepted. Thus, the wedding trip became a research trip, too (not to mention a tax write-off.)

Set in the ancient town of Bad Homburg, the wedding could not have been more perfect. Maybe it was the influence of the five-hundred year-old homes and the castle, but even my ex-husband and I got along for four whole days, a record. I’d flown to Germany with my older son, Erik, and his girlfriend. They stayed on, while I made the one-hour flight from Frankfurt to London—my very first solo trip overseas. This hermit was inordinately pleased with herself.

At Heathrow, I boarded the Express train to Paddington, where I discovered that the hotel room I had booked at the meeting venue was the size of a walk-in closet. The headboard and footboard of the twin bed touched each side wall and the bathroom could have worked in a cruise ship cabin (a small one.) But when I woke on Sunday morning in that tiny bed, childhood memories flooding over me, I couldn’t stop grinning and saying, “I’m in London!”
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Killer Look by Linda Fairstein

Murder in New York’s Garment District

killer lookBy Dawn Ius

Each of Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper crime novels is set in an iconic part of New York —from the opera house to Lincoln Center, and all points inbetween.

In KILLER LOOK, Fairstein’s 18th book in the bestselling series, she tackles the Garment District with a thrilling exploration of the city’s famous fashion industry. But this is no clichéd catwalk drama or model in distress story. Instead, Fairstein goes behind the scenes to uncover the dark underbelly of the industry’s business core.

“One of the challenges was to not write about the runway model as a victim,” she says. “That’s been done, and overdone. But the Garment District has been on my mind for a long time, in part fueled by my own love of fashion.”

A lunch meeting with an industry insider solidified the story, confirming that not only was there motive for murder in the fashion business, but the beauty industry as a whole is reputed to be one of the most cut throat. As Fairstein learned, fortunes are spent outsourcing cheap labor for what is now a four-trillion-dollar industry.

“That’s trillion with a T,” she says. “When I read that, it was a real wake-up call.”

But motive was only part of the equation. After writing 17 previous Alex Cooper thrillers, Fairstein had fictionally murdered people in every which way possible. Tapping into the knowledge of an old police friend she met during her 30 years as a lawyer in New York’s prosecutor’s office, Fairstein was fortunate to score a relatively new method of death.

“I did a lot of research on creating the perfect suicide,” she says, which is of course, how KILLER LOOK starts.

The novel also begins with Fairstein’s beloved protagonist at her most vulnerable. After the traumatic events of the previous book, Devil’s Bridge, “Coop” must now cope with having been the victim of a horrifying kidnapping. Perpetually drunk and deeply depressed, Cooper is far from on top of her game, forcing Fairstein to humanize her in a way that was nearly too painful to write.
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Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee

love her madly-9781501112157_lgBy Vivian Rhodes

LOVE HER MADLY, the debut novel by author, M. Elizabeth Lee, is more than a thriller—it examines the demands inherent in meaningful relationships and just how much one is willing to sacrifice for the sake of true friendship.

Glo, Cyn, and Raj are college students whose lives become entwined through the love they feel for one another. At first, their unorthodox relationship seems to work, but when Cyn disappears while on a trip to Costa Rica, things get complicated.

This month, I chatted with Lee to get the scoop on what inspired this thrilling debut, and what readers can expect from her next.

What inspired you to write LOVE HER MADLY?

The seed of the novel came to me when I was backpacking in Costa Rica with my husband. We had this long day of terrible travel luck, trying to get from one distant town to another with buses that were late or didn’t arrive at all, leaving us scrambling to find our way down the coast.  Sixteen hours or so of bumpy bus rides and sweltering waiting rooms provided a lot of time to daydream, and somewhere between the second ferry trip and the hour-long slog uphill to our hostel, the idea of a romantic rivalry, where one friend goes missing and the other is left to explain, had taken root.

Were any, or at least one, of the main characters in LOVE HER MADLY based on someone you know?

I didn’t model any of the characters after anyone I’ve known. They are pure inventions who began as little more than the bud of an idea; Glo the “good girl”, Cyn, the “wild one,” who burst to life in my imagination as the story gradually took shape. I don’t know where exactly they came from, but their personalities seemed fully formed. It was my job to put them on the page, and I immediately knew when I had taken a false step, almost like they were standing behind me shaking their heads. The intense friendship between Glo and Cyn is the beating heart of the novel, so it was immensely important that they ring true. Female friendships are so monumental, yet the lasting effects of losing a close friend are seldom explored as thoroughly as the consequences of a romantic breakup. LOVE HER MADLY aims to show how this type of loss can really change a person and the way they see the world.
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Fatal Odds by John F. Dobbyn

fatal oddsBy Austin Camacho

Some legal thrillers trap the reader in a courtroom, but the heroic attorneys in FATAL ODDS face international intrigue when they are dropped into the middle of a three-way gang war.

A jockey involved in a fixed race is charged with murder. Michael Knight and Lex Devlin catch the case, soon finding themselves caught in the crossfire between the Italian mafia and two Puerto Rican crime gangs. The setup offers a wealth of storylines, but the book itself is driven by the characters, starting with the main protagonist, Michael Knight, who was a prosecutor and assistant U.S. attorney in Boston before becoming an associate with a private law firm. All of which makes him uniquely suited to the cauldron of trouble in FATAL ODDS.

“I wanted him to have two ethnic backgrounds,” says author John F. Dobbyn.   “Irish on his father’s side and Puerto Rican on his mother’s side, so that he could blend into either community with fluency, as he has in each of the five novels so far.”

Michael is certainly a hero, but he’s not fearless, he’s not a weapons expert or even a hand-to-hand combat master. He may not see himself as heroic but his clients might disagree.

“His commitment to his criminal defense clients is without limitation or reservation,” Dobbyn says. “His word is absolute and unbreakable. That means that if he has to ride into hell, or walk into a bikers’ bar or the den of a mafia boss, or have a power lunch of the powerful and connected, in the client’s interest, it is not heroic. It is just keeping his commitment. Keeping his word.”

The gangs Michael faces are involved in the smuggling of endangered species. This illicit trade has become the second most profitable criminal activity in the world yet, like most of us, Dobbyn was unaware of this—until he noticed an internet article about it.

“I was overwhelmed by the depth of cruelty in which over ninety percent of the animals captured die in the transporting,” he says. “The suffering of the animals is matched only by the increasing enormity of the profits now funding every other criminal act, from drug dealing to human trafficking, by nearly every major international organized crime gang and terrorist organization in the world. And most amazing of all—I had never heard of any of it.”
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The Four Night Run by William Lashner

four night runBy Jonathan Stone and William Lashner

For this issue of The Big Thrill, Bill Lashner and I interviewed each other. It was a particular thrill for me, because Bill is coming off his recent Edgar nomination for Best Novel for The Barkeep. We each have a new novel just out, just a week apart. His book, THE FOUR-NIGHT RUN, features J. D. Scrbacek, a defense attorney who prides himself on the vigorous and nimble defense of even the most reviled clients.

My new novel, TWO FOR THE SHOW, is a twisting and twisted tale told by Chas, a detective who works exclusively—and practically invisibly—for Wallace the Amazing, a Las Vegas mentalist. I was very interested in learning more about Lashner’s gutsy and witty protagonist. Fortunately, Bill seemed equally interested in learning about my characters. Our conversation follows.

William Lashner: So the thing I really admired about your novel is the way Wallace pretty much stayed off stage the whole time, and yet was pulling every string.  He hovered over the book like a God, and was really a thrilling character, but we never really saw him in a scene, except for one glimpse he gives to Chas before running away.  Was it hard to keep him up there in the stratosphere?

Jonathan Stone: Well, it’s Chas’s book.  The whole thing is told through his point of view.  And Chas has Wallace up on a pedestal.  In fact, the reader only really sees Wallace on stage—just like the rest of the world sees him.  I like him set off, separate, apart, a little more godlike than a man, as you say—so I’m glad that worked for you.

WL: It absolutely did.  If I could have slipped myself anywhere into the story to peek at what was happening, it would have been in the jungle when he became a sort of shaman.

JS: Yeah, I’d like to see him there too!  So let me ask you a little about Scrbacek.  One of the running gags of your novel is that every time Scrbacek is asked about his ethnic origin, he gives a different answer.  And all his different answers, or most of them, are believable.  It’s very funny, but it’s got a deeper point—throughout the book, he’s trying to understand who he really is, what his values are, trying to get back to and rediscover his own real identity and worth.  Could you talk a little about that?

WL: Scrbacek is lost, and the book is very much a machine for him to find himself again.  Although, I will say, that his smart alecky remarks about his heritage are also just a way for him to quip.  I’m never above putting in a joke just because.  One of the models for the book was Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, where Marley is forced to confront the ghosts of his past, present, and future to figure out what kind of man he wants to be.  Scrbacek goes through that same sort of ordeal, and it isn’t pretty.
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Two For The Show by Jonathan Stone

two for the showBy Jonathan Stone and William Lashner

For this issue of The Big Thrill, Bill Lashner and I interviewed each other. It was a particular thrill for me, because Bill is coming off his recent Edgar nomination for Best Novel for The Barkeep. We each have a new novel just out, just a week apart. His book, THE FOUR-NIGHT RUN, features J. D. Scrbacek, a defense attorney who prides himself on the vigorous and nimble defense of even the most reviled clients.

My new novel, TWO FOR THE SHOW, is a twisting and twisted tale told by Chas, a detective who works exclusively—and practically invisibly—for Wallace the Amazing, a Las Vegas mentalist. I was very interested in learning more about Lashner’s gutsy and witty protagonist. Fortunately, Bill seemed equally interested in learning about my characters. Our conversation follows.

William Lashner: So the thing I really admired about your novel is the way Wallace pretty much stayed off stage the whole time, and yet was pulling every string. He hovered over the book like a God, and was really a thrilling character, but we never really saw him in a scene, except for one glimpse he gives to Chas before running away. Was it hard to keep him up there in the stratosphere?

Jonathan Stone: Well, it’s Chas’s book. The whole thing is told through his point of view. And Chas has Wallace up on a pedestal. In fact, the reader only really sees Wallace on stage—just like the rest of the world sees him. I like him set off, separate, apart, a little more godlike than a man, as you say—so I’m glad that worked for you.

WL: It absolutely did. If I could have slipped myself anywhere into the story to peek at what was happening, it would have been in the jungle when he became a sort of shaman.

JS: Yeah, I’d like to see him there too! So let me ask you a little about Scrbacek. One of the running gags of your novel is that every time Scrbacek is asked about his ethnic origin, he gives a different answer. And all his different answers, or most of them, are believable. It’s very funny, but it’s got a deeper point—throughout the book, he’s trying to understand who he really is, what his values are, trying to get back to and rediscover his own real identity and worth. Could you talk a little about that?

WL: Scrbacek is lost, and the book is very much a machine for him to find himself again. Although, I will say, that his smart alecky remarks about his heritage are also just a way for him to quip. I’m never above putting in a joke just because. One of the models for the book was Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, where Marley is forced to confront the ghosts of his past, present, and future to figure out what kind of man he wants to be. Scrbacek goes through that same sort of ordeal, and it isn’t pretty.
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Body and Bone by L.S. Hawker

bodyandboneABy Renee James

L.S. Hawker broke into the thriller world with The Drowning Game, which is an ITW Best First Novel nominee and a USA Today bestseller. Now, she has released BODY AND BONE, the powerful story of Nessa Donati, a late-night radio show hostess. She has a three-year-old son who doesn’t speak, a soon-to-be-former spouse who is a chronic substance abuser, and an Internet troll who evolves from an ugly pest to a threat to her safety.

Ms. Hawker is an avid music aficionado whose own music library includes more than 160,000 songs. She provides thematic playlists for her books on her website.

We interviewed her by email.

Your heroine in BODY AND BONE does a graveyard-shift radio show. Your description of the tiny studio and the conflict with the producer has the heft of reality about it—what research went into this part of the book?

I pulled the graveyard shift at the one major-market station I worked for. It had just switched to an automated system, so I got to babysit a computer from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. overnight—no board or voice work. The general manager was a lunatic who forbade me from doing anything but literally staring at the machine for eight hours—even reading. He caught me one night editing the public affairs show in the production studio during my shift and screamed at me as if I’d abandoned my guard post on the Berlin Wall.

Nessa’s radio studio is modeled on a small-market midwestern station where I worked, but the producer isn’t based on anyone who worked there—he’s an amalgam of hipster types that I’ve butted heads with through the years.
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The Four-Night Run by William Lashner

four night run coverBy Rick Reed

William Lashner served as a prosecutor for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., until he became a full-time thriller writer. This New York Times bestselling writer is the author of the Victor Carl series, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and such standalones as The Barkeep, which was shortlisted for an Edgar Award.

His skills as a lawyer shine through in his new standalone novel. THE FOUR-NIGHT RUN features criminal lawyer J. D. Scrbacek.  He has just won the biggest trial of his career when an explosion cuts the celebration short. Was the bomb meant for him? Was it meant for his mobster client?  No one in this seaside casino town knows for sure, but the smart money is on Scrbacek.

Scrbacek flees into a part of town known as Crapstown. Here he is forced to argue for his life before a jury of the forgotten and damned who have taken up residence in the underbelly of the city. The question becomes whether Scrbacek is lawyer enough to save his own skin. The answer to that question lies somewhere in his past, or possibly his sordid present.

What was your first experience with being a published writer?  How did that experience influence your future writing?

The first time I stepped into my new editor’s office, she began telling me a story of a woman whose novel the editor liked but who refused to make changes and so the editor passed on the book and when it came out, it flopped.  The editor spent a while telling the story, as if it was just something offhand she was talking about, but then she proceeded to tell me about the hole in my book that she had just bought. I got the message.

Maybe as a result, I have always been open and grateful for any editorial critiques.  The whole goal of the rewrite—and I love rewriting—is to make the book as good as possible, and my editors are always partners in the process, not adversaries.
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The Deepest Wound by Rick Reed

deepest woundBy Rick Reed

Rick Reed’s recent release, THE DEEPEST WOUND, is the third in a series of police procedural thrillers. He introduced Detective Jack Murphy and his partner, Detective Liddell Blsnchard, aka/Bigfoot, initially with The Cruelest Cut. The series continued with The Coldest Fear and now Reed has taken us even deeper into the belly of the serial-killer beast with THE DEEPEST WOUND.

Reed, a retired Detective Sergeant with the Evansville, Indiana Police Department, refers to himself as the “accidental author.” His writing career began when he captured confessed serial killer Joseph Weldon Brown. Along with distinguished writer, Stephen Walker, he co-authored the true crime book, Blood Trail, published by Kensington Books in 2005. Blood Trail is the true account of Brown’s murders.

Reed caught the writing bug and turned his attention to writing fiction. He states, “You can kill people, maim people, destroy lives, get married, get divorced, and no real person is injured. In true crime, someone is always injured, hence the story.”

In 2009 he convinced Kensington Books to read a fiction manuscript. Thus begun the Detective Jack Murphy series.

In THE DEEPEST WOUND Reed takes you backstage in the political arena of the criminal justice system, from the workings of the police department and prosecutors office to the news media where it is said, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

The story begins in Evansville, Indiana, when a couple is illegally dumping an old mattress and finds body parts outside of the local trash dump. It’s a weekend. Detectives Jack Murphy and Liddell Blanchard are attending an engagement party for Jack’s ex-wife. She is marrying the Chief Deputy Prosecutor, which gives Jack two reasons to hate the man. First, because he is taking away any chance Jack might have of reconciling his marriage. Second, the man is an attorney. Jack doesn’t like attorneys as a rule. But then Jack and Liddell are called to the crime scene.
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The Device Trial by Tom Breen

Device Trial cover.inddBy Renee James

New York City attorney Tom Breen’s second courtroom thriller, THE DEVICE TRIAL, will be released by Pegasus Books in early June. In this cliff-hanger, New York attorney Brian Bradford faces off against a large medical corporation and its sociopathic CEO in a dangerous battle of wills. Like his debut novel, The Complaint, Breen’s new release draws on his intimate knowledge of judicial proceedings to deliver a story rich in realism and complex characters.  His unique touches include presenting trial testimony in the format of an actual trial transcript.

We interviewed Tom Breen about his new work.

What was the first thriller you ever read, and what about it made it memorable?

To Kill A Mockingbird.  You might question my assessment of that book as a thriller. While the outcome of the criminal trial had little doubt, the reader was nonetheless spell-bound as Atticus attempted to expose the truth of what occurred between Mayella and Tom. The post-trial ramifications of Atticus’ trial questions continued the suspense even after the guilty verdict was announced.

The book was also memorable because it was one of the few novels that provided actual trial testimony of witnesses during direct and cross examination, with courtroom comments by attorneys and the judge. It provided me with the idea to create my own replication of an actual trial and deposition. I attempted to enhance the realism by bringing the reader inside the courtroom through trial testimony in a question and answer format that mimics an actual trial transcript, along with the Judge’s on the record comments and rulings. I may be the first to attempt this in a novel, beginning with The Complaint and then THE DEVICE TRIAL.

Your lead character in THE DEVICE TRIAL fights against an amoral insurance company, but he doesn’t always stay inside the law himself. What are you trying to achieve here?

Brian sees his role as doing what’s necessary to bring justice to his honorable cause. When faced with resistance, he pushes back regardless of the rules. Because his adversary operates outside the law, Brian believes he must follow suit to succeed.  I wouldn’t teach this to a law school class, but hopefully it increases the entertainment value of the story.
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Mortal Fall by Christine Carbo

Mortal Fall Cover ArtBy George Ebey

Christine Carbo brings us her second thriller set in the Glacier National Park.  In this story, a wildlife biologist’s body is found at the base of a ravine, prompting rookie investigator Monty Harris to take on the case.  He’ll soon learn that the truth is buried in the gorgeously terrifying wilderness surrounding him.  And the wilderness does not give up its secrets easily.

The Big Thrill recently caught up with Carbo to learn more.

What first drew you to writing stories involving mystery and suspense?

I didn’t begin to dabble with writing until I was in college—a short story or two and a little poetry. After college, while teaching English and Linguistics at the community college in my hometown in northwest Montana, I wrote two non-genre novels that I simply put aside. Then, in my early thirties, I became a single mom, continued to teach as an adjunct instructor, but also supplemented my income by doing technical writing. Creative writing took a back seat for some time because I was focused on lesson plans, grading essays and working on technical documents late into the night after my little boy went to bed. Eventually, I took up Pilates as a hobby, began teaching it and opened a studio and quit technical writing. I found myself with much more flexibility—no pun intended—to return to what I now understand is my true passion: writing fiction.

Once I decided to return to novel writing, I chose the world of crime because I love reading crime fiction, especially those steeped in a strong sense of place: Denise Mina’s Glascow; Elizabeth George’s mysterious English countryside; Tana French’s Dublin; Dennis Lehane’s Boston, John Connelly’s Los Angeles… the list goes on. At first I thought, I just live in Montana with no sexy, dynamic, bustling cities around me. How was I supposed to write what I knew so that it was credible, but still interesting? Then it dawned on me that I lived only a half hour from a place that people from all over the nation and the world come to visit. And that place— Glacier National Park—is not only stunning, it’s haunting at times. Plus, some of the local areas around Glacier are economically depressed and tend to have their share of crime.

Automatically, when I began to think of Glacier, the awe and fear-inspiring grizzly came to mind, and I began to ponder what would happen if my main character had issues with bears at the very park he needed to conduct an investigation in. Hence, my first book, The Wild Inside, is as much about whether the protagonist will find some emotional peace as it is about who committed the crime. My second book, MORTAL FALL, featuring a secondary character from the first book, also takes place in Glacier. The park, in essence, remains a strong secondary character.
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Mission Hill by Pamela Wechsler

mission hillBy Ken Isaacson

Pam Wechsler spent more than 15 years working as a prosecutor at the local, state, and federal levels. She’s served as an Assistant District Attorney and Assistant Attorney general in Boston, and she was a trial attorney for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She’s investigated and prosecuted a wide variety of crimes, including murder, witness intimidation, sexual assault, drug trafficking, stock market manipulation, and political corruption.

About 10 years ago, Wechsler moved to Los Angeles to work as a legal consultant and writer for network television shows. Her credits include Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: Trial by Jury, Conviction, and Canterbury’s Law.

It’s no surprise then that Wechsler’s debut novel, MISSION HILL, features Abby Endicott, chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, where she investigates and prosecutes the city’s most dangerous killers. A graduate of the elite Winsor School, Harvard College, and Harvard Law, the prosecutor’s office is not the prestigious job that would have been expected of her. She’s been known to change into an evening gown amid bodies in the morgue. She loves her job and is committed to it, refusing all pressure to quit from her upper-crust parents or threats from the city’s most ruthless killers. But among Abby’s many secrets is her longtime affair with fellow prosecutor Tim Mooney, a married father of one.

One night, Abby is awakened very late by a phone call from her favorite detective, who reports that there has been a horrific murder but is vague about the specifics. When she arrives at the crime scene and discovers the identity of the victim, Abby knows that terror and tragedy are only beginning.

In MISSION HILL, Wechsler delivers a gripping and very human portrayal of a woman who will stop at nothing to find the truth, even if it challenges everything she believes about justice.

She kindly agreed to answer some questions for The Big Thrill.
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Ross Macdonald: Three Novels of the Early 1960s by Tom Nolan (editor)

Revelatory Stories from a Master of Crime Fiction

Ross Macdonald 2By Nancy Bilyeau

In spring 1959 the California newspapers were full of stories about a young woman’s disappearance. Linda Millar, a 19-year-old honor student, vanished from the University of California Davis campus. For more than a week, her distraught Santa Barbara parents, Kenneth and Margaret, tried to find her, hiring a private detective and asking the media to publish stories on the search. Linda read a written appeal from her father in one newspaper and telephoned home. She had been wandering through Northern California and Reno, Nevada. “She just wasn’t herself,” said a private detective.

The problems of Linda Millar ran deep. Three years earlier, driving drunk, she hit three pedestrians and killed one, a 13-year-old boy; she was on probation and under psychiatric care when she disappeared from college. After her father drove to Reno to reunite her with her family, Linda was hospitalized for emotional stress.

Leap forward to the early 1960s: Three novels in the Lew Archer detective series hit the stores: The Zebra Striped Hearse, The Chill and The Far Side of the Dollar. They were meticulously constructed mysteries, with spare yet eloquent prose and haunting Southern California atmosphere. And the plots of all three books revolved around the disappearance of a young woman or a young man, or the breach between a father and daughter. The author: Ross Macdonald, the pen name of Kenneth Millar. The author of 18 Lew Archer novels, Macdonald is today considered the third in the “holy trinity” of American crime fiction icons, with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Macdonald’s writing style has influenced writers from Sue Grafton to Michael Connelly.

Author and critic Tom Nolan selected these three books for the collection, published by the Library of America. “He was a brilliant writer in so many ways and these three are first-rate books representing a golden period.” (Macdonald aficianados debate whether The Chill or The Galton Case is his best book.) The connection between the personal traumas of Kenneth Millar and the professional work of Ross Macdonald is anything but news to Nolan. He wrote an acclaimed 2008 biography of Macdonald revealing the at-times unhappy life (an impoverished, fatherless Canadian childhood, a difficult marriage) of the deeply private writer, who had been known to make it a condition of press interviews that his daughter not be mentioned. He died of Alzheimer’s disease in 1983.
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Blood Defense by Marcia Clark

Writing From a Unique Perspective on Crime

blood defenseBy Dawn Ius

As millions of TV viewers settled in to watch history repeat itself, Marcia Clark considered hiding out somewhere for a few weeks to escape reliving yet another portrayal, another chilling perspective on the trial of the century, The People V. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, produced by Ryan Murphy.

For the former prosecutor-turned bestselling author, re-witnessing the trial, even disguised as an at-arms-length bystander, made her miserable. In the end, curiosity won out.

“I wanted to see what they did, how they showed it, whether they got it right,” she says. “I was very glad to see that they did get it right to a great extent, at least when it came to the big issues. And the performances were stellar.”

Especially the work of actor Sarah Paulson, who Clark describes as “simply brilliant.”

“She was so good, her ability to show how I was feeling inside throughout the trial was so spot on . . . it was painful to watch.”

Indeed, Paulson’s compelling portrayal has once again cast Clark—and O.J. Simpson—into the spotlight, perhaps for better or worse.

“I think it’s good that the case has sparked some serious discussions about important issues. I just hope people will remember that these discussions come at a terrible cost,” she says. “Whenever people speak of the case, I hope they will remember that the reason they’re having that discussion is because Ron and Nicole were tragically murdered.”

Even years after leaving the L.A. District Attorney’s Office in pursuit of a new passion, this is still the Marcia Clark that resonates with people. A  prosecutor that fought passionately, diligently, and tirelessly for justice against unsurpassable odds. But since 2011, Clark has been making a new name for herself writing thrillers that have earned her a loyal—and growing—fan base, not to mention well-deserved praise from masters of the genre.
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Gone Again by James Grippando

Gone AgainBy James W. Ziskin

James Grippando has been thrilling fans since his debut Jack Swyteck novel, The Pardon, in 1994. His twenty-fourth book. GONE AGAIN, is out March 1, and it’s an emotionally complex powerhouse of a story. Jack Swyteck is back, older and wiser than he was all those years ago. He’s returned to his old stomping grounds, the Freedom Institute, and is instantly drawn into a death row case that presents both conflicts of conscience and a race against the clock. GONE AGAIN breaks the stereotypes associated with missing-teen stories. This is an original, a classic.

I got the chance to discuss Grippando’s latest with him and snuck in a few other questions about his writing as well.

GONE AGAIN is the eleventh in this addictive series. How do you keep Jack fresh?

I introduced readers to Jack in The Pardon as an ideological and somewhat naïve twenty-seven year old lawyer whose love life could have filled an entire volume of “Cupid’s Rules of Love and War—Idiot’s Edition.” In other words, there was a lot of room for Jack to grow. He and his second wife are expecting their first child in GONE AGAIN, and he’s taking on the kind of cases that you would expect an accomplished criminal defense lawyer to handle. Readers have loved watching him “grow up,” and there’s more to come.

GONE AGAIN explores the fallout of a harrowing adoption horror story. Sashi Burgette, the teenaged girl at the center of GONE AGAIN, bears deep, emotional scars that her adoptive parents are ill-equipped to handle. Best intentions aren’t enough to spare the family devastating pain and suffering. Can you tell us about reactive attachment disorder or RAD, the syndrome that afflicts Sashi?

RAD is a mental disorder that is usually caused by severe neglect or abuse early in life. The most serious cases are orphaned children from war-torn countries. Their false belief that they are incapable of being loved continues through adolescence and into adulthood. It was a challenge to develop a character like Sashi, because RAD children are the complete opposite of what you expect of children. If a parent tried to hug her, child with RAD would typically reject physical contact even from those closest to her. As they get older, they might develop all the attributes you’d expect in a teenage runaway. Jack makes this point better than I can when questioning a doctor on the witness stand in GONE AGAIN:

“Dr. Pollard, as the expert witness in this case, can you tell us whether a RAD child would likely feel any remorse about running away from home?”

“The brain of a RAD child is not really programmed to feel remorse.”

“And if she did run away, would she find herself pining away for mom and dad?”

The doctor shook his head. “Not likely.”
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The Body In The Landscape by Larissa Reinhart

THE BODY IN THE LANDSCAPE frontBy Karen Harper

I think all writers are interesting in different ways, but Larissa Reinhart amazes me. She may be a southern Georgia girl but she lives in and loves Japan. Go figure—and go figure on getting her next book if you want sassy characters and humor. I was glad to e-meet her.

What is THE BODY IN THE LANDSCAPE about?

The novel is the fifth Cherry Tucker mystery. Cherry’s a struggling portrait painter from small town Halo, Georgia. Her sassy spitfire reputation has her in trouble back home, so when invited to paint the winning portrait for Big Rack Lodge’s Hogzilla hunt contest, it seems like a paid vacation. While landscape painting she discovers the body of local ne’er-do-well and, of course, embroils herself in hunting for the killer. Which is not the brightest of ideas when surrounded by hunters. Just sayin’.

Where does your Cherry Tucker series, of which this is a part, fit in the category of “cozy mysteries”?  Is there a range of cozies or sub-genres within?

I think it depends on where you’re looking. For example on the big sites—like Amazon—the Cherry Tucker Mysteries are listed under Amateur Sleuth, Humor, and Cozies, with a subgenera of Crafts and Hobbies (as opposed to Culinary or Animals).

In some conferences I’ve attended, we’ve discussed a new genre for cozies, the “modern cozy” which calls for more action, stronger language, and more sexual situations than traditional cozies. The Cherry Tuckers definitely have a strong romantic component, but I’m aware of my audience in terms of language and sex (I always say the books get a PG-13 rating). However, I try to drive scenes with action and dialogue rather than the slower pacing of traditional cozies.
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Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline

When High-Octane Thriller Meets Family Drama

CorruptedBy A. J. Colucci

Pick up any major newspaper, anywhere in the country, and you’ll find gross miscarriages of justice. Those stories are what drive New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, who believes that the law should work for everyone, not just a few, that sometimes criminals go free and the innocent get put away, and the rules are constantly evolving. And that’s what drives her Rosato & DiNunzio series, featuring an all-female law firm. Fans won’t be disappointed with the latest book in the series, CORRUPTED. It’s filled with suspense, intrigue, and courtroom drama, along with a good dose of the wit and humor that’s a Scottoline hallmark. The lawyer-turned-author has sold 30 million books in 35 countries by shining the light on injustice, at the same time capturing the hearts and minds of readers with sympathetic, believable characters.

In CORRUPTED, attorney Bennie Rosato is taking on a case that brings her back to a painful event in her life. Thirteen years ago she represented Jason Leftavick, a twelve-year-old boy who was sent to a juvenile detention center after fighting a class bully. Bennie couldn’t free Jason, and to this day it’s the case that haunts her. Today, Bennie only rarely represents those accused of murder, but when Jason is indicted for killing the same bully he fought with as a kid, she sees no choice but to take on the case as his attorney. She doesn’t know whether or not to believe his claims of innocence, but she knows she owes him for past failures–of the law, of the juvenile justice system, and of herself.

Scottoline’s books have landed on every major bestseller list. She’s received an Edgar Award, the Fun, Fearless, Fiction Award by Cosmopolitan magazine and was named a PW Innovator by Publisher’s Weekly. She has taught a course she developed, “Justice and Fiction” at The University of Pennsylvania Law School, and also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Chick Wit,” which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman’s perspective.

Lisa took time from her hectic schedule to share her thoughts on her latest book, tips on writing and how flaws in our legal system inspired so many of her novels.
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International Thrills: An Interview with Simon Toyne

   From French Citadels to the Arizona Desert

Searcher hcBy J. F. Penn

Simon Toyne is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Sanctus trilogy, a genre-stretching, end-of-days epic involving ancient history, modern technology, religious conspiracy, and rollercoaster-quick storytelling. Often described as the British Dan Brown, Toyne has written books that to date have been translated into 28 languages and published in 50 countries.

USA Today bestselling thriller author J. F.Penn interviewed Simon for The Big Thrill. You can watch the video discussion here or read the transcript below.

First of all, just give us an overview of THE SEARCHER so that people have a sense of what it’s about.

Solomon Creed is a man on an epic journey of redemption. He arrives at the beginning of this first book, clueless as to how he’s got there, walking down the middle of an Arizona Road towards a town called Redemption. Behind him is a burning plane and he’s got emergency vehicles screaming towards him.

He knows nothing about himself at all. All he has is this sensation that he is there to save a particular man, whose name he knows. But as the police cars pull up and they start to check him over, he mentions this guy and says, “I think I’m here to save him.” And the Chief of Police says, “We buried him this morning.” So that’s how the book kicks off, and the central mystery is how do you save a man who is already dead?

I’ve read the Sanctus trilogy, which I absolutely loved. That series featured the town of Ruin and now you have Redemption. How important is sense of place to your writing and tell us a bit more about Redemption?

Sense of place is hugely important for me because environment forges character. So if you don’t have a sense of the environment, then you are missing a lot of tricks, really, as regards character and setting. With Ruin, it was kind of accidental. I really tried to find a place that would fit the story and I just couldn’t find one. There was nothing that quite worked and I felt really bad about taking a real place and taking too many liberties with it to try to make it fit my story.
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The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

GatesofEvangeline-BusinessCard-frontFrom a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined. A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, THE GATES OF EVANGELINE is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.
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The Orion Mask by Greg Herren

orionHeath Brandon’s mother died when he was barely three years old. His father never spoke about her, or her family. So when her family reaches out to him after his father’s death, Heath decides to make the trip to Louisiana to get to know the only family he has left.

But he soon learns that there was a lot more to his mother’s death than he ever knew…and the beautiful old mansion on the Mississippi River has many secrets, secrets someone would kill to protect.

And the key to everything that happened when he was a child just might be hidden in his own memory…

*****

Greg Herren is the award-winning author of over thirty novels. He lives in New Orleans with his partner of twenty years.

To learn more about Greg, please visit his website.

 

 

Elisha Rex by E. C. Ambrose

elisha rexBy E. C. Ambrose

On the surface, my work doesn’t have much in common with contemporary medical novels. Today’s thrillers with medical themes often involve highly educated professionals—doctors, nurses, surgeons—while I’m invested in a peasant from the 14th century, whose medical education includes bleeding patients to balance their humors, the belief that water spreads disease, and the use of human anatomical charts based on pig dissections.

My adventure-based historical fantasy series, the Dark Apostle, which continues July 2 with ELISHA REX, began with reading far too many books about medieval medicine, until the facts and the anecdotes exploded into the idea for a story. My research began with a single title: Devils, Drugs, and Doctors by Howard W. Haggard, M. D. I have the Pocket Book edition of 1940, the fifteenth printing of a work that first came out in 1929.

This is a rambling and engaging popular volume which follows the history of medicine through a variety of approaches, none of which involve footnotes or a bibliography. It frames this history through the window of childbirth, a common biological event, yet one fraught with risk for both mother and child. I wouldn’t recommend this book as a sole reference, but as a source of inspiration for medical fiction, it’s a treasure trove. It doesn’t shy away from lurid tales and speculations, but includes lots of quotes from historical sources, including illustrations and broadsheets from the past. It is, in short, just the sort of work that gets a writer curious, then excited, to learn more.

Mid-way through reading Devils, Drugs, and Doctors, I had an idea for a character, a barber-surgeon, during a problematic childbirth. This is when the true research began. I drilled into Haggard’s text, searching for other references, finding more books, and running my interlibrary loan librarian a bit ragged in my quest for knowledge. It also led me to Kalamazoo, to the International Medieval Congress, an annual gathering of medieval scholars, and a great place to pick up ideas and research materials.
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Bum Rap by Paul Levine

bum rapThe Big Thrill sat down with Paul Levine to discuss BUM RAP, his new legal thriller (Thomas & Mercer July 1). “BUM RAP brings together the protagonists from Levine’s series: Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, and Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, squabbling Miami law partners. In a starred review, Booklist calls the novel, “an irresistible Florida crime romp.”

Paul, has it really been twenty-five years since Jake Lassiter burst onto the crime fiction scene with your first novel, To Speak for the Dead?  

Is that a polite way of saying Jake’s old…or that I am?

Only that the Lassiter novels are one of the longest running series in contemporary crime fiction. To what do you attribute their longevity?

Maybe because readers grow attached to characters and want to know what becomes of them after the caper ends. Think of the long careers of Lew Archer and Travis McGee or Kinsey Millhone and Stephanie Plum. And I haven’t even mentioned Sherlock Holmes. In Lassiter’s case, I like to think that his values are timeless.

“I have old habits, old friends and old values. I don’t tweet or blog or order pizza with arugula on top. I don’t have a life coach or an aroma therapist, and I sure as hell don’t do Pilates. I’m so un-hip that I could soon become trendy, like skinny ties and pants that stop at the ankles.”—Jake Lassiter

In BUM RAP, Lassiter defends Steve Solomon, who’s accused of killing a Russian club owner on South Beach. Pretty quickly, Lassiter begins to doubt his client’s story. Did that frequently happen to you as a lawyer?

I always assumed my clients were guilty. It saved time.
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Losing Faith by Adam Mitzner

losing faithBy Eyre Price

With his latest legal thriller, LOSING FAITH, just released, I had the great pleasure of putting litigator-turned-best-selling novelist, Adam Mitzner, under my own cross-examination. What followed was an engaging conversation about the incriminating content of rap lyrics, writing dos and don’ts, the relative value of Coldplay, and the future (?) of Batman.

First, the expected question: How has your practice of law influenced your writing?

There’s an economy in my writing that I think is a direct result of truly learning to write through preparing legal briefs that not only often have a page limit, but in preparing a brief in which you’re very mindful that if the judge gets bored, he won’t read the rest of it. Also, I began my legal practice at a large law firm where I was tasked with writing the first draft, and then my work was revised by more senior people. That was a better writing class than I could have ever imagined because I got to see how my finished product, which I always thought was pretty good, could be made so much better.

And the follow-up, (from a fellow litigator) how has your career as a novelist impacted your practice of law?

I don’t think my writing has added much to how I conduct my day-to-day legal practice. I normally don’t even tell my clients that I moonlight as a novelist. But, it has made me much happier in my day job, that’s for sure.

The reality of the judicial system is often very different from what’s portrayed in print. What sort of concessions and accommodations do you make in writing about litigation?

I try my very best not to deviate in my books from what would actually happen in litigation. I understand that goes on all the time in fiction, but as a practicing lawyer, it makes me crazy when I’m reading a book or watching television and the judge allows in hearsay evidence. The one accommodation I made was in A Conflict of Interest. That book was told in the first person, and so I needed to have my protagonist, Alex Miller, watch the trial even though he was called as a witness, which normally (although not always) is prohibited. As you can see, I still feel bad about it, but I don’t think I’ve made another legal mistake since.
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Black Scorpion by Jon Land

Black Scorpion by Jon LandBy Austin Camacho

What can one man do against a huge criminal organization bent on world domination? Jon Land shows us in BLACK SCORPION: THE TYRANT REBORN, and thriller fans will love getting the answer.

The man in question is Michael Tiranno, whose cunning and ruthlessness in business earned him the nickname “The Tyrant.” Land introduced him in The Seven Sins. In that novel, Tiranno saved Las Vegas from a terrorist attack. This impressive character fully deserved to return in an even bigger adventure.

“You’d find him captivating, fascinating, charismatic, engaging, and a bit brash,” Land says. “The Tyrant inside him only emerges when he, someone close to him, or someone vulnerable, is harmed or threatened. The question, of course, then becomes which is the real Michael Tiranno.”

Tiranno gives us a clue to that in BLACK SCORPION when asked why he helps a family that just lost their house to foreclosure. He says, “Because I know what it’s like to lose a home.” But as Land points out, Tiranno’s motivations are more complex than that.

“I think Michael’s entire life, the core of his very existence, is about replacing what he lost the day as a young boy he witnessed the murder of his parents,” Land says. “But he can never get it, not really, which leads to him being a constantly restless soul moving on from one quest to another.”
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The Missing Piece by Kevin Egan

The Missing Piece by Kevin EganBy Rick Reed

When you read THE MISSING PIECE, I want you to imagine that you are Gary Martin, a court officer assigned to the New York County Courthouse. You are part of a security team in a civil trial with legal representatives from Croatia and Hungary vying for the ownership of the Salvus Treasure, a $70 million dollar hoard of ancient Roman silver. Suddenly, gunmen burst into the courtroom, shoot you, and flee with one piece of the treasure, a silver urn. A mistrial is declared, but that is not the end of the case.

Much changes over the next three years. As a result of the shooting you are in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. A new judge has inherited the case, and the trial resumes in a different courtroom. What has not changed is that you are still convinced that the thieves hid the missing urn in the courthouse. Is it still there? Will the thieves return to claim it?

Kevin Egan is the author of six previous novels, including Midnight, a Kirkus Best Book of 2013. He works in the iconic New York County Courthouse, which serves as the setting and inspiration for THE MISSING PIECE. His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Rosebud, and The Westchester Review. He graduated with a B.A. in English from Cornell University.

THE MISSING PIECE is Kevin Egan’s seventh novel and as this thriller plays out he will give his readers an inside view of the legal system, as well as the extralegal system, at play in New York City’s courtrooms.
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The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

defenceBy Ken Isaacson

debut-authorSteve Cavanagh’s debut novel, THE DEFENCE, features con-artist-turned-top-defense-attorney Eddie Flynn. One advance reviewer has told us to imagine The Verdict’s Frank Galvin crossed with The Firm’s Mitch McDeere, and you’d get something like Eddie Flynn. This is enough to hook me, and I’m looking forward to the book’s release later this month.

The plotline for THE DEFENCE is taut: It’s been over a year since Eddie Flynn last set foot in a courtroom. That was for the trial that cost him his career and his family, and Eddie has vowed never to practice law again. But when Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, blackmails Eddie into defending him in a murder trial, Eddie has no choice but to comply. The Russians have kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter Amy and her life is on the line.

With all eyes on this high-profile case, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and unparalleled skills in the courtroom to defend his client and ensure Amy’s safety. Finally forced to confront the demons from his past and come to terms with the case that all but broke him, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible? And with the clock ticking, will he be able to call on his contacts from the old days in order to double cross the Russians and get his daughter back?

Cavanagh has kindly agreed to answer some questions.
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Africa Scene: An Interview with Priscilla Holmes

nowiseeyouBy Joanne Hichens

Priscilla Holmes is a Cape Town–based writer of many sorts of fiction, most recently a crime fiction novel. Set in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, NOW I SEE YOU is a modern-day thriller with dark undertones.  It contains love and jealousy, human cruelty and sexual obsession, as well as humor and pathos.  Part detective-story, part-elegy for a lost culture, it highlights the enormous changes that have happened, especially for young women in the years since the first democratic elections in South Africa. Thabisa Tswane (the feisty protagonist) is caught between two cultures. NOW I SEE YOU thrusts her into a powerful plot and some dark and dangerous situations.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve always been a writer. As a kid I wrote stories for all my friends and family, wrote plays at school satirizing the teachers (nearly got expelled!), and I’m a passionate reader. I worked most of my working life as a communications consultant in Australia, UK, and Hong Kong, and when I came to Johannesburg from Sydney to marry the man of my dreams (and yes, it has worked out!), I started my own training and communications business. We retired to Cape Town seven years ago and I started a writing group—The Write Girls—that has gone from strength to strength. We’ve collaborated on two novels that have been a great success. In 2004, I published a teenage novel The Children of Mer. And now, of course, I’m thrilled about the publication of NOW I SEE YOU.

NOW I SEE YOU has a deft, light touch. I think Alexander McCall Smith should make space for your fabulous Detective Inspector Thabisa Tswane! How do you feel about that?

Well, what a compliment!  However, my book is a much darker, rougher version of his books. We are promoting it as a “thriller” but it really is so much more, with the descriptions of rural life, the violent crimes, and the constant fight for Thabisa between her past and present.
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One To Go by Mike Pace

One To Go by Mike Pace Mike Pace’s new thriller, ONE TO GO, is a deft mix of sub-genres—legal and political with a dash of the supernatural. The story follows a young Washington lawyer, Tom Booker. While driving across Memorial Bridge, Tom, distracted while texting, causes an accident with a minivan carrying five young girls, including his own seven-year-old daughter. The force of the collision flips the van up on two wheels, but just as the vehicle’s about to fall into the Potomac River killing all on board time freezes for everyone and everything—except Tom. He exits his car to see his daughter through the van window, frozen in time, but can do nothing to save her. Chad and Brit, a young couple who appear to have just stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad, approach. They offer Tom a Faustian deal, a “rewind” where time would spin back to just before the collision, allowing Tom to avoid the accident—no one would die. The price for this deal? In a “soul exchange” Tom has to agree to kill five random strangers instead. He quickly agrees, anything to save his daughter.

Later Tom laughs at the hallucination he experienced and pays it no mind. Preppy demons from Hell? Ridiculous. Then his sister in law, the driver of the van dies, bludgeoned to death by her husband. Chad and Brit appear on Tom’s cell phone screen, smile and say, “One down, four to go.”

My God, the bridge incident was real.

Tom has never held, much less fired, a gun in his life. He’s lived a middle-class existence in a middle-class neighborhood. Now to save his daughter he must turn into a serial killer and commit a murder every two weeks or the girls in the van will die.
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Cane and Abe by James Grippando

Cane and Abe Cover (from Amazon)By Robert Rotstein

Abe Beckham, the protagonist of best-selling author James Grippando’s compelling new novel, CANE AND ABE, has remained a star prosecutor in the Miami State Attorney’s Office despite the untimely death of his first wife, Samantha. His new wife, Angelina, has helped him through the loss. Yet, Angelina can’t help feeling that their marriage is not what they’d hoped for because Abe still loves Samantha too much.

Then things go terribly wrong. The FBI has been tracking a killer in South Florida known as “Cutter,” whose brutal methods hark back to Florida’s dark past, when machete-wielding men cut sugarcane by hand in the blazing sun. A woman’s mutilated body is discovered dumped in the Everglades. When Angelina goes missing, Abe becomes a suspect. Was Abe responsible for Angelina’s disappearance because of his lingering love for Samantha, or because of a new woman? In the course of answering these questions, CANE AND ABE explores love, death, loyalty, and the dark side of humanity.

At the beginning of CANE AND ABE, you recount an incident that occurred in 1941, when on the promise of steady employment, African American men were led into virtual slavery by the big sugar companies, forced to cut sugarcane by hand at unconscionable wages. How does this past injustice inform your novel?

That backstory is based on the actual indictment of U.S. Sugar by the Department of Justice in 1941, but I didn’t include it CANE AND ABE simply to paint the sugar industry as a villain. CANE AND ABE is not a story about “Big Sugar.” It’s a psychological thriller that’s driven by the breakdown of trust between a husband and wife. Abe Beckham is white, and he fell in love with Samantha Vine, a black woman whose father was one of those enslaved sugar workers. Abe made promises to Samantha and her family before she died, including the promise to look after Samantha’s bipolar brother. Keeping those promises has consequences for his new marriage. Putting the backstory about Big Sugar upfront—which involved lies and broken promises on a massive scale—establishes a powerful backdrop against which Abe struggles to keep his promises.
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Deadline For Murder by Linda Y. Atkins

DEADLINE -LAtkins-LGBy Wendy Tyson

DEADLINE FOR MURDER, the new novel by Linda Y. Atkins, is the fourth book in the Hilary Adams Mystery Series. In this latest installment, attorney Hilary Adams returns to the defense side of the law and her new client, a crime columnist for the local newspaper, is accused of double homicide. Fast-paced and tightly written, DEADLINE FOR MURDER is a thrilling glimpse into the Louisville legal system.

As a practicing attorney and former prosecutor, Linda Y. Atkins knows her subject. She brings a fresh perspective and a strong dose of realism to her legal thrillers. Recently, THE BIG THRILL had the chance to catch up with Linda.

Hilary Adams is a criminal defense attorney—a job that often demands quick wits, a strong stomach, and the ability to deal with ambiguity. What inspired you to write legal thrillers?

I began writing in the late 1990’s after defending a woman accused of murdering three of her own family members. Before I became involved in her case, however, she had already been tried and convicted once, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. On re-trial, the prosecution decided to again seek the death penalty. When my law firm was approached about her case, we knew that representing her would be an uphill battle, but since my husband and I were both death qualified lawyers (meaning we were authorized to represent defendants facing the death penalty as a possible punishment) we accepted the case pro bono. What followed was my first introduction to rural Appalachia, and being from “the big city,” as Louisville was described by the local residents in that area, I found the experience both harrowing and hard to shake. So, after it was all over, as a sort of cathartic exercise, I wrote a true crime novel about the struggles we had encountered in events that turned out to be truly stranger than fiction. Though I believed the case and the people involved would provide for riveting reading, unfortunately, the manuscript got no further than the back of a file cabinet in my office. But by that time, I had been bitten hard by the writing bug and decided to try my hand at fiction. And, on a whim one day, while waiting outside a courtroom for a hearing to begin, I started jotting down some thoughts on a legal pad and the main character—criminal defense attorney Hilary Adams—came into being. But even though I draw upon my experiences as an attorney, all of my work is fiction—none of my cases, clients, or fellow lawyers are even remotely re-constructed in my novels.
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