By Andrew Zack
Lori Armstrong knows what it means to be cold. As in bone-achingly cold. You see, she lives in western South Dakota—the “modern West” she calls it—just like her main character, Mercy Gunderson, the “star” of her latest novel, MERCILESS. What’s really neat about Mercy is that she’s former military, and a sniper at that! (Down boys! She’s a fictional character.) And what’s need about Armstrong is that she’s not just writing about a cool character, but she’s also writing well about a cool character, as evidenced by her 2010 Shamus Award for Best Hardcover Novel. Here’s the pitch on MERCILESS.
Newly minted agent Mercy Gunderson is back and ready for action— unfortunately, she’s stuck doing paperwork in an overheated government office building. But she gets more than she bargained for when she’s thrown into her first FBI murder case, working with the tribal police on the Eagle River Reservation, where the victim is the teenage niece of the recently elected tribal president. When another gruesome killing occurs during the early stages of the investigation, Mercy and fellow FBI agent Shay Turnbull are at odds about whether the crimes are connected.
The idea of “humorous noir” is so rife with contradiction that it’s difficult to know what to make of an author who attaches that label to some of his work. But after talking with Vincent Zandri, author of MURDER BY MOONLIGHT, his latest release in the Dick Moonlight series, “humorous noir” starts to make sense.
Moonlight is a cop-turned-private detective who spends an inordinate amount of time making bad decisions in his personal and professional lives and getting into all sorts of trouble. That happens to a lot of us, but Moonlight’s got a pretty good excuse for his shortcomings, a fragment of a .22 caliber hollow point bullet lodged against the cerebral cortex in his brain. The injury affects his memory and compromises his ability to make rational decisions, and, for good measure, keeps him at death’s door.
A near-fatal brain injury that almost guarantees one disaster after another for the detective accounts for the “noir” part of the equation.
Readers pick up a thriller novel when they feel the urge to explore the dark, sordid depths of human behavior and psychology. Thriller novels allow readers to venture – vicariously – into the dangerous corners of the world and face the most nefarious of villains, all while remaining in the comfort and safety of their favorite reading chair. Given the ominous and bone-chilling nature of thrillers, it might seem there would be no place for humor in these novels. Yet, touches of humor can make a nail-biting read all the more engrossing.
An old proverb says “it is always darkest before the dawn.” Similarly, a dark scene can be even more terrifying when contrasted against an adjacent scene at the other end of the spectrum – light. The movie ZOMBIELAND used this technique perfectly, by juxtaposing light, funny scenes in which one of the main characters is on a quest for the last Twinkie with violent action scenes in which the group of survivors is pursued by undead intent on eating their flesh.
By Jeremy Burns
A new year is upon us, and so too is a new literary talent in debut author Lynne Raimondo. Her thriller, DANTE’S WOOD, is set to launch later this month, and Lynne was gracious enough to give BIG THRILL readers a sneak preview into the mind of a rising star.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Staten Island, New York, attended college and law school at New York University, and had a twenty-five year career as a lawyer before retiring to write full-time. I live in Evanston, Illinois with my husband, another lawyer. We have three grown children and two truculent cats.
Tell us about your debut thriller, DANTE’S WOOD.
I can’t really come up with a better description than my publisher’s, so here it is:
A troubled psychiatrist turns investigator when his young patient confesses to murder.
Psychiatrist Mark Angelotti knows that genes don’t lie. Or do they?
Back at work after a devastating illness, Mark believes he has put his past behind him when he is asked to examine Charlie Dickerson, a mentally handicapped teenager whose wealthy mother insists he is a victim of sexual abuse. Mark diagnoses a different reason for Charlie’s ills, but his prescription turns deadly when a teacher is murdered and Charlie confesses to the police.
By J.N. Duncan
I would like to welcome Tace Baker (the pen name of author Edith Maxwell), the author of SPEAKING OF MURDER. In the nine-to-five world, she is a technical writer, mother, and transplanted, fourth-generation Californian living in an antique house north of Boston, with her beau and three cats. Let’s get right to the good stuff.
Give us a twitter style (140 character) blurb for SPEAKING OF MURDER.
Quaker linguistics prof with ear for accents tracks down suspicious chairwoman, heroin ring, to find star student’s killer.
Clearly, your background in linguistics, in video editing, and your involvement with the Society of Friends informed your choice of character and story for this novel. This is a fascinating choice for a mystery. Why the interest in using this particular topic within the genre?
I am well acquainted with the world of academia and with the field of linguistics, and I’ve been a Quaker for several decades. Being a linguistics professor informs Lauren Rousseau’s character – she’s smart, she’s lived overseas, she loves languages and dialects. She’s also a Quaker and brings that sensibility into how she proceeds when in danger. Nobody else had written about that kind of character as far as I know. And then her boyfriend’s job as a video forensics expert let me use a really cool software application that police departments employ to help solve the murder.
By Jeff Ayers
In Mike Befeler’s fourth mystery, CRUISING IN YOUR EIGHTIES IS MURDER his octogenarian hero Paul Jacobson becomes involved in a series of crimes while struggling with the problems of his short-term memory loss. He must deal with mayhem, missing people and murder and use all his geezer resources to solve a case of international intrigue.
Mike talked to The Big Thrill about discovering his love of writing later in life, plus his “geezer-lit” books.
What sparked the writing bug?
I started writing late in life at the age of 56. I was sitting in my easy chair in the living room one evening, thinking over things I had really enjoyed over my life, which included painting and writing–creative activities. That evening I made the decision that I wanted to pursue fiction writing as something I could retire into. I negotiated with my boss to work three days a week and took two semesters of fiction writing at the University of Colorado (I had learned that if you’re 55 or older, you can audit any class at CU with the instructor’s permission). That jump-started my writing.
Sydni Simone: A secret avenger delivering justice to those the system has failed – for a price. Her cover is as a gallery assistant to her boss and former lover, Oscar. When his partner is arrested for murder Sydni intervenes, uncovering a massive insurance fraud scheme that the principals will kill to protect. Sydney must reveal her secret identity to protect Oscar. Together they bring down the bad guys and finally resolve their own relationship.
R.F. Sharp recently took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his debut novel.
Your mystery, NO REGRETS, NO REMORSE, was your first novel in print. What was your path to publication?
I had already published two non-fiction books. Consumer guides on divorce and trusts. But publishing non-fiction gives you no credit when trying to publish fiction. I was unpublished as far as the agents and editors were concerned. So I followed the recommended procedure. After writing and rewriting until I felt the manuscript was ready, I read all the books and articles on what to do next. Getting a literary agent was the standard advice. So I ordered the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS by Chuck Sambuchino and Jeff Herman’s GUIDE TO PUBLISHERS AND AGENTS. The advice from both came down to writing a terrific query letter and sending it to agents who represented work in your genre.
By Andy Straka
Timothy Hallinan’s comedic PI novel CRASHED launches what may well be one of the most exciting new private eye series to come along in years. Already optioned for television and film, CRASHED introduces Junior Bender, “the favorite burglar-turned-private-investigator of Hollywood crooks.”
Since he first started breaking into houses when he was fourteen years old, Junior’s never once been caught by the law. In CRASHED he is blackmailed by Trey Annunziato, one of the most powerful crime bosses in LA, into acting as a private investigator on the set of Trey’s porn movie venture, which someone keeps sabotaging. The star Trey has lined up to do all that’s unwholesome on camera is Thistle Downing, America’s beloved child star, who now lives alone in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable. Her starring role will be the scandalous fall-from-grace gossip of rubber-neckers across the country. Junior knows what that he should do—get Thistle out and find her help—but doing the right thing will land him on the wrong side of LA’s scariest mob boss. With the help of his precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Rina, and his criminal sidekick, Louie the Lost (an ex-getaway driver), Junior has to figure out a miracle solution.
CRASHED is Hallinan at his comedic best. Not that Hallinan is any stranger to success. A 2011 Edgar Nominee, Hallinan’s ten previous novels, all thrillers, have received high critical praise. In the 1990s he wrote six mysteries featuring the erudite private eye Simeon Grist, a series which made several Ten Best lists, including that of The Drood Review. Now regarded as a cult favorite, the other books in the series were widely and well reviewed, and several of them were optioned for motion pictures.
HAND FOR A HAND – DCI Andy Gilchrist is thrust into a murder investigation when a woman’s amputated hand is found in a golf course bunker, clutching a note addressed to him. The note contains only one word – MURDER. When other single-word clues are served up to Gilchrist with other body parts, he is forced to confront the ghosts of his past. With time running out, Gilchrist must solve the cryptic clues and find the murderer before the next victim, a woman whose life means more to him than his own, is served up to him piece by slaughtered piece.
By J. N. Duncan
Welcome to another ITW Q&A, this time with debut author, Anna Lee Huber, whose historical/mystery novel, THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE comes out next month at a store/site near you. Anna Lee Huber was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. She is a graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN, where she majored in Music and minored in Psychology. THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, the first book in the Lady Darby historical mystery series and will be released by Berkley Publishing on November 6th, 2012. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband and troublemaking tabby cat. When not hard at work on her next novel, she enjoys reading, singing, travel, and spending time with her family. Visit her website. And now on to the fun stuff!
By Mary Leo
Last year, Agatha Award-winning author G. M. Malliet charmed mystery lovers, cozy fans, and Agatha Christie devotees with WICKED AUTUMN, the first mystery featuring her captivating protagonist, Max Tudor, and the small English village of Nether Monkslip.
In A FATAL WINTER, Max—Anglican priest, former MI5 agent, and village heartthrob—investigates two deaths at Chedrow Castle. But his growing attraction to Awena Owen complicates his case, as does the recent arrival at Chedrow Castle of a raucous group of long-lost, greedy relatives, any one of whom has a motive for murder. With a cozy setting, intricate puzzles, and a handsome (non-celibate) priest doing the sleuthing, the books in this series are destined to become instant classics in the mystery world.
If you love an English village mystery, G.M. Malliet delivers. Charlaine Harris praised her work on NBC’s Today Show as being “fun, not too serious…a wonderful read.”
Private Investigator Dick Moonlight returns to chase down a cop gone bad in BLUE MOONLIGHT, the next installment of author Vincent Zandri’s clever and cunning Moonlight series.
Moonlight has hit some turbulence. Sure, his bar burned to the ground; his significant other, Lola, left him for another man; the private eye business is slow; and his evenings are now spent with his new pal, Jack Daniels. But this is real turbulence—in a plane, going down fast, and he’s waking up handcuffed to an FBI agent. How he got there is a little fuzzy, thanks to the sliver of a .22 caliber hollow-point bullet lodged in his brain.
Once on the ground, and after a few bumps and bruises, things become clearer and more dangerous. Thinking he’s been brought to FBI headquarters for drunk-dialing the IRS, Moonlight learns that he’s got some unfinished business: his last case, which had him up against Russian mobsters in search of a zip drive loaded with government secrets, isn’t exactly closed. The cop who was supposed to deliver the goods to the FBI went rogue, bringing along a crooked agent and Moonlight’s ex, and now he’s out to sell the hardware to the highest bidder. The FBI wants Moonlight’s help in tracking down the trio—all the way to Florence, Italy—and wooing Lola into handing over the zip drive. He’s just going to have to outwit, outrun, and outshoot the Russian thugs who have their own big plans for the zip drive, and for Moonlight.
By Cathy Clamp
Thefts . . . vandalism . . . murder. Toss in an overly curious reporter and a suspicious cop, then spice things up with a talented, clever woman and a psychic cat and you get the beginning of a great new series. Veteran mystery writer Carolyn Hart has created a terrific new series that readers are going to love. THE BIG THRILL sat down with the author, who has multiple AGATHA, ANTHONY and MACAVITY awards to her credit (along with a RIDLEY PEARSON AWARD for significant contribution to the mystery field!) to find out more about this great new series debut:
This is the first of a new series for you. For readers who may not have read your other books, how would you catagorize it?
WHAT THE CAT SAW is a suspense novel.
Tell us a little more about the book and characters.
After the death of her fiance in Afghanistan, Nela Farley feels an eerie connection when she looks into the eyes of a cat. She convinces herself she is simply avoiding painful memories, but one night she looks into the eyes of a cat and learns more than it is safe for her to know.
Each year the residents of Nether Haddon celebrate the village’s founding with performances by their sword dancers. But something new is added to the fancy footwork this year: a team member is murdered. While the CID team investigates, King Roper, a career criminal, has escaped from prison. Free and eager to settle the score for his capture, Roper tracks down the team, ready for revenge…
By Jamie Rush
Mark, how exciting it must be to see your first book come out! Congratulations! Even more, this is the first in a new mystery series. Tell us what this story is all about and what drove you to write it.
Exciting is an understatement, I’m thrilled to pieces. It’s something I’ve worked so hard for, and hoped so much for, that now it’s happening I can scarcely believe it!
Here’s a summary of the story (forgive me if I use my publisher’s summary): Max—an elderly Paris bookstall owner—is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper.
Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter.
By Jeremy Burns
Dogs, cats, and other pets are such a natural part of many of our lives that we often take them for granted. Sheila Boneham, an award-winning author and expert on domestic animals, gives readers a fresh take on Fido as she delves into the world of elite dog shows, pet antics, and, of course, murder most foul in her debut novel, DROP DEAD ON RECALL. I got to sit down with Sheila for this month’s THE BIG THRILL and ask her some questions about her new book.
Deborah Reed, who writes under the pen name Audrey Braun, has followed up her critically acclaimed debut novel A SMALL FORTUNE with FORTUNE’S DEADLY DESCENT, a mystery novel involving the same characters: Celia Hagen, her son Oliver, Benny, Celia’s lover Benicio (and, of course, the bad guys, who kidnap Benny from a train in this book).
Jessica Anya Blau (THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES) called the first book in this trilogy “a sexy, mysterious romp.” It was praised by Indiereader as “a polished page-turner.” The second book in the trilogy, FORTUNE’s DEADLY DESCENT, opens with Celia on a train with Benny, traveling through the French Provencal countryside. When Benny disappears, the plot shifts into high gear, with Celia to the rescue.
By Karen Harper
Karen Harper recently chatted with M.C. Grant (alias Grant McKenzie) about the release of his new thriller, ANGEL WITH A BULLET. It was great fun because the heroine is not really an angel, and the author is multi-talented in several genres.
Can you tell us a bit about ANGEL WITH A BULLET?
Wisecracking reporter Dixie Flynn thinks fast and talks even faster — it’s the only way to survive the San Francisco crime beat. When she’s assigned to look into the death of her former lover, artist Diego Chino, Dixie’s instincts tell her there’s more behind the apparent suicide than the police are letting on.
Dixie’s canvassing of the Bay Area art district reveals it to be a perfect picture of corruption, with a handsome art dealer and a reclusive patron in the foreground. After a romantic evening in Chinatown ends in a brush with death, Dixie is more determined than ever to expose the truth. But when a fire in her vicinity turns out to be more than just performance art, it’s clear the perpetrators would rather see Dixie dead than let her destroy their criminal masterpiece.
Just two days after Valentine’s, the assault on a friend gets the Nayak brothers started on a journey of their life… But who’s keeping a tab on their every move? And why are they being hunted?
Unscrambling the truth on their investigation trail leads them through catacombish underground tunnels, high-altitude caves, and scary carcass structures. It soon turns into a mystery far more than they could handle…
And just when the dots seem to get connected, the bad guys move in for the kill. Now, it’s a race against time to save a life, without a clue of where and how to begin.
Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house in search of treasure. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal…and gets a big surprise!
This children’s picture book is a suspenseful and imaginative story with a humorous twist.
By Gary Kriss
Sandra Parshall, whose new book, BLEEDING THROUGH (Poisoned Pen Press), will be released on September 4, is a living, breathing, royalty-collecting example of what can happen when you set aside the rote rules of writing and, instead, go with your gut.
Even if it’s painful.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt if you have a penchant for over-indulging in pecan pie. Well, actually, in Parshall’s case, it did hurt, but the pain led to gain. You see, a few years ago, Parshall—oh, hell, let her explain it.
Michael Haskins is the author of a series of Key West crime novels featuring colorful Mick Murphy, a journalist who can’t seem to keep his nose out of trouble. Haskins, a long time resident of Key West, brings an insiders view to his fast paced stories, always keeping the reader on edge, guessing until the final pages.
Here, Haskins answers a few questions about the writing process, his experiences with readers, and his upcoming Mick Murphy mystery – CAR WASH BLUES.
Beyond the jacket blurbs and reviews, what do you think readers will enjoy the most from CAR WASH BLUES?
If you’ve been to Key West you will recognize the streets, bars and marinas, as I try to stay true to the island and its culture and its characters.
In Carole Nelson Douglas’s CAT IN A WHITE TIE AND TAILS, hard-boiled feline PI Midnight Louie goes along as chaperone when PR whiz Temple Barr and her fiance, rising media star Matt Devine, head to Chicago so she can meet his family. Matt’s mother has a tragic past primed to rise and bite anybody in reach, even the ex-alley cat sleuth. When Louie is snatched and takes down the two local mobsters who did the deed, the catnapping’s surprising motive loops back to Vegas and a string of unsolved murders connected to magic…and ex-magician Max Kinsella, Temple’s former significant other.
MISTRESS OF MOURNING is a historical mystery set in early Tudor England. Two women, Queen Elizabeth of York, and merchant class Varina Westcott, fight to defeat the enemies of the precarious Tudor monarchy by uncovering the secrets of the dead. Who killed the Princes in the Tower and was Arthur, Prince of Wales, poisoned? Varina and royal assistant to the queen, Nicholas Sutton, travel into the Welsh wilderness to investigate.
A drive-by shooting, according to the police report. A random bullet fired on a foggy, pre-dawn morning. But…what did the prairie cowboy know that he wasn’t telling? And what about the eccentric cousin in the sprawling old B&B? What secrets were they keeping? Perhaps the answer lies behind a forbidden blue door in a Kansas City alley…
By Rick Reed
Jeffrey Siger was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He practiced law at a major Wall Street law firm before leaving to establish his own New York City firm where he continued as one of its name partners until giving it all up to write full-time among the people, life, and politics of his beloved Mykonos.
The Greek Press has called his work “prophetic,” and he was awarded the City of San Francisco’s Certificate of Honor, citing that his “acclaimed books have not only explored modern Greek society and its ancient roots but have inspired political change in Greece.”
His newest and fourth book in the Inspector Kaldis series, TARGET: TINOS will be released in June, 2012 as a hardback original. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY awarded it a starred review, calling it “superb…a winner.” The story begins in an isolated olive grove on the idyllic Aegean island of Tinos, revered by pilgrims around the world as the Lourdes of Greece, where the remains of two bodies charred beyond recognition are discovered chained together amid bits and pieces of an incinerated Greek flag. An enraged press screams out for justice for the unknown victims, until the dead are identified as gypsies and the story simply falls off the face of the earth.
By Ian Walkley
Sharon Linnea’s latest Movie Mystery series launches with THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, which weaves a mystery around the re-release of a movie, TRISTAN AND ISOLDE, one of those movies that defined a generation. Twenty years after its original run, as the studio plans a major re-release of the film, the actress who played Isolde realizes how many members of the cast and crew have died or disappeared. Can the killer be stopped before the reunion––or will the rest of the cast face a similar fate?
By J. H. Bográn
In GUILT TRIP, antique dealer Griff Tripp is preoccupied with a problem he won’t share with his partner and adoptive granddaughter Lina Townend. To cheer him up, she encourages him to join an amateur theatre group premiering the play CURTAIN CALL. Lina is pursued by a sinister businessman who won’t take no for an answer when she refuses to work for him. Then apparently innocent pranks at the theatre turn nasty, and Lina wonders if the play’s title might be a terrible omen…
By Don Helin
In Ines Eberl’s novel, HUNTER’S BLOOD, a young physician, Emma Canisius, takes over a practice in the Austrian mountains. It’s fall and the hunting season. One day, her landlord is found dead with a dagger in his chest and the head of a white chamois on his face. When Emma is attacked herself, she knows that she has to find the murderer before he gets to her.
Biography: Ines Eberl is an Austrian law historian and practicing lawyer as well as a crime author. She lives and works in Salzburg. Her first novel, SALZBURG DEATH DANCE, released in 2011, has met a great reception. Now she’s looking for a publisher for an English language edition. Richard Godwin gave her an interview at The Slaughterhouse. Her new novel, HUNTER’S BLOOD, is based on an old case.
By Cathy Clamp
Many people long for adventure in the outdoors. Camping, hiking, even fishing are how many people plan their vacations. But what to do when a seemingly innocuous sport like fly fishing turns deadly?
Beth Groundwater, author of the Claire Hanover Gift Baskets series (including the Agatha Award finalist A REAL BASKET CASE) first introduced Colorado river ranger Mandy Tanner in the 2011 debut DEADLY CURRENTS. In WICKED EDDIES, Mandy’s life grows even more difficult. She knew the Arkansas River could be a man-eater, but the rapids weren’t responsible for driving a hatchet into the neck of would-be competitor Howie Abbott―a secretive man who may have been cheating. While casting about for suspects, Mandy seeks clues from Abbott’s family members, including her best friend, bartender Cynthia Abbott. But when Cynthia becomes the prime suspect, Mandy realizes she’s wading into deeper, more hazardous waters than ever.