Oct 30, 2011

Black Friday and the srewing of retail employees

Black Friday is the a horrible day, the day after Thanksgiving when Americans go crazy and shop like the Apocalypse is coming. Shoppers on this day are traditionally cheap and rude, I know, I worked a number of them and I've watched people shop on this day. Shoppers in large stores seem to be getting ruder as it is already, on this day they lose their minds. Just look at these assholes in the picture.

I love the holidays, and I love getting gifts. I also really love giving gifts and shopping for them. As a result I am one of those taking part in the annual shopping frenzy. But I do so during normal hours.

Over the last few years the stores are opening earlier and staying open later. The latest is now Thanksgiving night at midnight stores will open their doors to people rushing out to get bargains.
And to the people making these decisions I say shame on you. You are effectively destroying a family holiday for your employees. To be at work at midnight is outrageous. The people working these hours have to go to bed early and forgo the holiday normally spent with their family. And with times the way they are, who is going to make a stink about it and risk losing their job?

Among the stores opening at midnight are, Kohls Department store, Macy’s and Target among others. Employees will be getting out of bed at 10 or 11 pm Thanksgiving night to go to work and wait on people who line up at these stores. The corporations behind this justify it by saying that they open early because people show up to shop. You know what? If you wait until 7:00 am, they will wait until then to shop, greedy bastards.

And if you are one of the weirdos getting up early to shop at these places and perpetuating this problem, shame on you as well. People who work retail work hard and have to put up with a lot of crap. They deserve to have family holidays too. By being one of the people showing up when the doors open you are part of the problem.

My answer to this for 2011 is that I will not be partaking in this mistreatment of employees and I will be boycotting stores that open at ridiculous hours. I’ll shop local at locally owned stores that keep more human hours where the people deciding the hours are actually working the hours along side employees.

Oct 5, 2011

today in history

In the minute to minute world that owes much of the immediate release of information to Steve Jobs, it is right and just that the news is flooding all aspects of print, televised and social media. There was a magic to the man who believed in cohesive design with functionality. A genius who introduced the world to products that many of us cannot live without, I often wonder if from time to time he didn't see a down side as well. I could not live without my I-pod, but radio has become poorer for it. I covet an I-pad but to add the additional wi-fi charges to the desk top wi-fi, the two cell phones and the land line we continue to have, seems quite silly. Still, just two weeks ago I was at the apple store, looking at the Mac Air, the Apple TV, and the aforementioned I pad. The merchandise was flying off the shelves, the customer service was, as always, amazing. A son of counter culture who's death is stealing the news cycle from the happenings on Wall Street, a look at justice served with definite caste bias, and an upcoming election that may very well kill the middle class... the history of Pixar just doesn't seem quite as important to me. Even if the end of Toy Story Three made everyone cry. And yet in the end there's that first product, the Mac. How many brilliant books have been written with this machine. How many troglodytes have managed to find a way to just type it and keep going? Returning to parts of the free flow and tightening them up to say things that others should be reading?

I pity the folks so tied to their phones they text during concerts rather than watch them, I pity everyone under the age of twenty who talk to their friends perhaps once a week but text at them when they are in the same room. For in this age of instant communication, it seems we are losing the ability to communicate in meaningful ways.

So "Stay hungry, stay foolish" and make the world a better place. Steve Jobs was a one of a kind genius. Known to 1/2 the planet and yet a private person. Let's use the tools he's given us to make our dreams happen.

Sep 25, 2011

Bouchercon St. Louis

Bouchercon, that mad beast that cannot really be described to those who weren't there. Does one even try?

Quite simply, Bouchercon is a mystery lover's OZ minus the wicked witch. Four days of walking down paths you've never trod before and enjoying food,wine, coffee, dancing,singing, bowling and conversation with friends you may have never even met. If you had pulled back the curtain this year you'd have found Jon Jordan and a staff of volunteers who made every little thing work as seamlessly as possible.

From our very first exploratory trip, the committee knew that St. Louis would be a great place to have a Bouchercon. It was up to us to lay the groundwork. We had no doubt that everyone would be able to make their own fun.

That the Guest of Honors made everyone welcome was a given. There is not a better group of writers in our community.

Here's to Cleveland!!

Aug 30, 2011

Crimespree issue 43 ready to ship

Crimespree Magazine issue 43

Editorial by Jon Jordan
Hanging with Ayo
A Slice of Mystery with Avery Aames
The Perils of Writing a History Mystery with Tony Hays
COVER STORY: Get Closer to Sara Gran w/ Scott Phillips
Sunset Boulevard by Sara Gran
Behind the Books with Lisa Unger
Crime & Idiocy by Jen4 Jordan
FICTION: Old Friends by Anthony R . Pezzula
Morphing Into Mystery by Martin Shepard
The Long and the Short of It Darrel Janes Interviewed by Alan Orloff
In the Court of Public Opinion by Denise Hamilton
FICTION: The People I Help Out by Kenneth Nicols
NEW CONTRIBUTER Mystery Town with Linda Brown
Reed Farrel Coleman
Craig’s Joint by Craig McDonald
5 Favorite Films with Dan Krokos
5 Favorite Films with Todd Ritter
Dialogue with Declan Burke featuring Dennis Lehane
The Towering Non Inferno by Douglas Lindsay
FICTION: Rain Dog by Thomas Pluck
DVD Reviews and Eye on Hollywood with Jeremy Lynch
Buzz Bin and book reviews
Cooking with Crimespree  by Avery Aames

This one is heading out the door on Wednesday the 31.
Need to renew?

Aug 29, 2011

bouchercon redux

Mrs, Crimespree has sent off mail today. She has composed a to-do list that Lewis and Clark themselves would be proud of. She realizes this is the last time she has for a truly chatty blog before Bouchercon 2011. Indulge me folks, for this is yet another how much do I love my life post.

I love my life a lot. Last week on Monday, at the Laura Lippman Pizza party there was a lot of synergy for me. Laura introduced me to someone I’ve “known” for two decades. Jacquelynn Bost Morris is not a name you all will be familiar with, but Jackie from the AOL Hardboiled board certainly is a name known to some. Jackie with Kathy Bartlett made a world for me. A world where I could reach out and talk to writers I admired, share their experiences. Somewhere along the blurred lines these folks began to share mine. Charlaine Harris made me laugh out loud again when my family had given up. Sara Paretsky made me question why one death could be so hard. Val McDermid showed me life’s possibilities. Then Bob Crais told me to go to Bouchercon (rather emphatically), you know, my good friend from the innernets. Sexiest author alive that year too (we gave him hell).

The mystery community has always been inclusive. The inclusion is why Bouchercon started, a group of Anthony Boucher’s friends decided they needed to celebrate this genre he loved so much. Anthony, I have to tell you, you’d be proud sir as would your widow. Thanks to a wonderful group of volunteers over these 4 decades, your name may be mispronounced but it is never forgotten.

So, I was “The Girl Who Went to Bouchercon”. I met Val McDermid. I met Ian Rankin. I met George Pelecanos. I met Dennis Lehane. I smoked with Lee Child and M.J. Lake. C.J. Songer was an all-star that year. I met Otto Penzler and Steve Stillwell. I met Richard Katz and the gang from Sleuths of Bakerstreet. I met Kate Flora and a guy named Jon Jordan.

I’ve reached out over the years and have met Robert Randisi as a result (thanks Bob). I’ve met new writers and writers back on the scene; One of my favorite moments ever is with Gayle Lynds, another with Michael Koryta. An interview with Sean Chercover in ’08 left me giddy.

I’ve come a long way, always fan first. The most important person in my life outside of my husband may well be Judy Bobalik. Judy is the bomb, y’all. If you come to Bouchercon 2011 without meeting her, you’ve made a mistake. For like “Jackie” of the hard-boiled board she has the passion to make this a community. She is what Anthony Boucher thought this place in fiction and community is all about.

Now, I go to Bouchercon with an expectation to meet friends I never have and celebrate with friends I love. Some will be there this year. Some will be missing. Elaine, Barbara, David. I also know I’ll have a hug with Alafair & Hillary, finally meet Erin and by Joseph, that laptop is ours Duane Swierczsynki!

Aug 25, 2011

An Afternoon in Brigadoon

On Tuesday afternoon a 5.8 earthquake hit the city of Baltimore. I happened to be in Baltimore but I didn’t feel it. In fact, I think the author Laura Lippman and I may have been the only two people in Maryland to not feel it. As the lady in Louise’s Bakery said, “Well, you were in a car, you wouldn’t feel it in a moving car.”

Why were we in a car? The cookies at the bakery were a factor. A beautiful day was the other. The day was so lovely the thought of going to a gym to get on a machine for cardio was uninspiring. Ms. Lippman offered an alternative. Would I like to hike her childhood neighborhood with her instead?

Laura has been one of my strongest fitness inspirations for a decade now. The last two years I’ve even been paying attention. A hike with one of my facebook cheerleaders on a beautiful day in a part of Bal’mor I didn’t know? (Yeah) We set out on a nice path; my tour included parts of Woodlawn, the babbling stream & the pond above (where Laura learned to skate), The Crimea Estate, a set of steps that led to a trail, a trail that had an incline that kicked my ass by the way. The house Ms. Lippman grew up in and the elementary school she had attended were part of our hike. The highlight was the beautiful and out of time Dickeysville. An old mill town surrounded by Leakin Park, it has a sense of isolation and promise. There’s a peace in this community. A feeling that the world can be anything you’d like it to be.

Somewhere after the incline that kicked my ass and before the playground ….

My perspective of the afternoon shifted. I was still walking with my friend Laura, but everything became slightly surreal. It was launch day for Laura Lippman’s newest novel , THE MOST DANGEROUS THING and I was on a walking tour of the novel’s inspiration. A community the writer said later that evening, “I’ve been circling for years in the books, and finally got there.” I looked at my host and admitted to her there would probably never be a bigger fan moment for me. She laughed and retorted, “Well, I won’t be doing it for anyone else today.”

I have a lot of joy in my life. I have family, I have friends, I have reading and I have a group of authors I admire and have had the opportunity to spend time with. Tuesday afternoon they all melded into one. I understand why Laura thinks of Dickeysville as Brigadoon. There was an instant on Tuesday when it became mine.

Saturday Jon and I left Milwaukee to visit with friends in Baltimore. Saturday Crimespree Magazine went to Baltimore to attend the Laura Lippman Pizza Party celebrating the release of her novel, THE MOST DANGEROUS THING. The magazine was also present at the Tuesday night launch for the book. Ruth and Jon took their friend Laura out to dinner afterwards. It’s a wonderful life (giggle,giggle,giggle).

For more on the Baltimore trip and reviews of the book THE MOST DANGEROUS THING, see the print edition of Crimespree.

Aug 18, 2011


Thank you Smallville. I wasn't sure how I would react to your end. Being able to see and yes, preview the last episodes months before viewing could have been a bad thing. Years ago a friend declared, "Smallville will end when Clark becomes Superman and Lex becomes Lex Luther. The finale gave us that and so much more.

How happy am I that Chloe had a happy ending and Tess has become a hero? Thank you writers for not putting every guest star ever in the church for the wedding scene.

That's the thing about Smallville, whether you watched the TV series with Steve Reeves, saw the Christopher Reeves movies, or simply have read the Comics over the years ... Smallville is accessible, in the way few television shows are. It tells a story we've all known from the beginning. It entertains and at times has exceptional writing. Tom Welling take a bow. You were born to play this character. the finale episode is isolated and yet true to a story arc as only a comic can be. I will not spoil it here. I simply hale the series in its entirety. For every misstep and overwrought scene there is a "pencil line" that brings us back to the legend of Superman.http://youtu.be/QHPHT5SbAEM

The last season featured "the darkness" and even affects some of our heroes. It's almost an anti-the watchmen. There's history in a series this long and some are rescued. Some fall. Destiny is pure in a comic world and you guys have pulled it off. Thank You for making me understand just how pure my concept of Superman is. Thank you for letting me follow the story of Clark Kent, his family and his friends. I'll miss you and have no idea what I'll do Labor Day weekend from now on. Maybe the U.S. Open ????

Aug 7, 2011

Duane Swierczynski : Serial Thriller

Serialization – Publication in serial form.

When I was a little girl in Burlington Vt. I was introduced to Buck Rodgers on our black and white T.V. The 60s version Batman could be heard every afternoon, “Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel.” The summer between 7th and 8th grade I sat in a movie theater and with millions of others read the words, “Long Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far away.” The Star Wars movies and George Lucas have defined “serial” for three generations now.

Certain forms of “publication” have used this format for a very long time. Both Dickens and Doyle were serialized in Magazines. I remember reading Agatha Christie in my Grandmother’s Ladies Home Journal. Play Boy was the first glimpse we had of many talented authors. There’s panache and a history to the very idea. There’s Star Wars.

In the last decade of the last century Stephen King released GREEN MILE through every outlet that ever sold a book. I was all in. It was a glorious experiment. Green Mile was a great but not all together successful work of Serialization. It’s a fine work and King talked frankly about the Death Penalty, mortality and morality within the parameters of the form. I wasn’t sharing my views at the water cooler though. I think mainly we were just waiting to figure out the deal with the mouse. No one peels back a story better than King but like many I didn’t get over the King part of it all.

A few years back, when the NYT had a better budget they serialized works by some of my favorite writers including Ian Rankin and Laura Lippman. Great stories and bound together, really good books. Waiting in the wings with a story of his own was a young writer by the name of Duane Swierczynski. The Times concept didn’t pan out as they’d hoped and EXPIRATION DATE was released as a novel. A fan of the book, I wondered how would this experience have been, waiting week to week to see what would happen next?

Swierczynski is younger than me. Star Wars has always been a part of his life. He’s a true scholar of not just popular fiction but pop culture. All of it. Movies? I suspect he can quote dialog from just about any movie, ever. Music? Try to stump him.

When Little, Brown & Company announced a new imprint called Mulholland Books in 2010 they released a mission statement.

“The goal of Little, Brown’s Mulholland Books is simple: to publish books you can’t stop reading. Whatever their form—crime novels, thrillers, police procedurals, spy stories, even supernatural suspense—the promise of a Mulholland Book is that you’ll read it leaning forward, hungry for the next word. With a focus on online community building, internet marketing and authentic connections between authors, readers and publisher, Mulholland Books will be at the center of a web of suspense.”

Duane Swierczynski is just one of the terrific writers published under this imprint.His is a special story.
FUN &GAMES was released earlier this year. A good book demands you read it. FUN & GAMES left me frothing for the next book. In the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers ….

The story of a man with a past and a young actress thrown together… The author pulled out all stops creating an Entertainment for the reader that had me buzzing like nothing in any form since those words scrolled down the movie screen. My expectations for the sequel to FUN & GAMES was so high I quite wondered if HELL & GONE would be able to further enamor me or if it would be a Phantom Menace in book form.

I am so very happy to report that in the middle of a too busy week I opened this book and once again dove into Swierczynski’s world with abandon. The author accelerated in FUN & GAMES . He floors it in HELL & GONE. Charlie Hardie and the Accident People are destined to entertain for a long time to come. Swiercyski’s series defines serialization for the book world like Lucas has for the movies. Now, where the hell is book three?

Jul 21, 2011

Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris made headlines last week with the news that book thirteen is it. Sookie and the rest of her cast of characters from The Southern Vampire Series are wrapping up their story lines. The news spread like wild fire throughout both the internet and print press. It was mainly met with sadness. I’m excited. I cannot wait to see what one of my favorite writers has rattling around in that magnificent mind and what group of characters she’s going to introduce us to next. I’m also intrigued. What is her end game? Who will Sookie choose? Or will she just Walk away?

A strange thing happens when a favorite book series hits the TV. It’s even a little stranger when Alan Ball is backing the production. The two and a half seasons of the TV show True Blood have been glorious. Ball has certainly hit upon a lot of the themes Charlaine drives home in the books. If you read this series first as opposed to watching you’re dealing with an altered time-line. It’s all well and good, but different. Looking at sales numbers for the novels, I have to believe that most of the viewers have caught up to the readers. I cannot help but think they’re nodding their heads and thinking to themselves, “I know why she’s special, it’s in her blood.”Those of us who read the books all remember the betrayal and the joy, washing over us all at once. Whether you read first or watched first there is something very special here. A traditional setting, a small town girl with a great heart who believes, sincerely, that all are created equal and have the right to live a happy life. A young woman goes above and beyond to make her world a better place. Sookie makes mistakes, but not many. The most memorable scene from the books is yet to hit your T.V. In this scene Charlaine Harris manages to encompass Sookie’s humanity, heroism and horror with such compassion for where we are as a world today it will break your heart. I hope Ball captures that scene.

Charlaine Harris has afforded me many memorable scenes over the years. I started with Aurora Teagarden. Charlaine’s small town librarian who ends up married to a man of the world. I’m not even sure how I got there. Was it a blurb on the back? Was it a recommendation from a friend? I don’t remember but I do remember I immediately read a Lily Bard. Shakespeare’s Landing came to me at a time in my life where I’d lost control of my own environment. Here was a young woman who’d lived through something much worse than anything I’d ever been through, and was reclaiming her life. Lily did this in the gentle confines of a traditional mystery flooded with contemporary pathos. Even while I was absorbed in the mystery, I was taking strength from this fictional heroine.

Meanwhile Aurora had a list of titles for me. Classic mysteries that I’d never heard of. Reading I began to tackle. I often wonder if I ever would have read Tey or Allingham if not for Harris and Teagarden. I often think I owe Charlaine a lot of effusive thank-yous for this alone. And then she made me laugh. LOL in a way I’d not done in two years. DEAD OVER HEELS was the book. The opening scene has perhaps the most unique body discovery of all time. It’s so entirely ridiculous I couldn’t help myself. I learned a lesson about my reading habits that day. I am a reader who escapes into a book. I’ll never be able to truly deconstruct any novel no matter how many times I read it. That’s okay, I can live with that. It means I’ll always have something I want to read.

Over the years I’ve gotten to know this wonderful belle with a beautiful brain. Charlaine is the southern woman with a story of her own. I’ve seen her give back to fellow scribes. I’ve seen her giggle with fans over any number of things. She’s given me a recipe for Sweet Tea. I’ve been able to share her work with a number of people who don’t read much and discuss how very good and subtle this work is with folks who read a lot.

How I’ve enjoyed her ascent from low mid-list to the upper echelons of sales. 1,000,000 downloads anyone?
How about every book being in print? I remember a night almost three years ago. I was on the phone passing along information to a friend. “Ruth, have you seen the bestseller list?” “No I’m really swamped with Bouchercon but I know you hit # 1.” “No, look at the list, you have to see it.” Through sheer happenstance a fan got to share a moment with one of her favorite authors. A moment that doesn’t come very often. We giggled. A lot.

So I’ll miss Sookie. Sure I will. But baby I cannot wait to see what Charlaine Harris has up her sleeve for us next. I know it will be special.

Jul 20, 2011

I Am a Cult - Guest blog by Colin Cotterill

Exposed brickwork is all the rage in Surrey. My Uncle John has an entire bathroom that looks like it was carted over directly from Berlin. But I get the feeling the naked bricks here at the Zuela Guesthouse in Luang Nam Tha, Laos, are more a homage to the cost of plastering. My room’s like a cell. No fridge. No TV. No modern arty pictures of men on buffalos. No closet safe. No closet. No feeling in my limbs after a night on the compressed bread mattress. Outside, the rains are crashing down on the banana plants and the roads are flowing red with mud. The power goes off half-a-dozen times a day. But, believe this if you will… they’ve got Wi Fi. Not even the Hilton gives away the internet for nothing. I just finished a tour of twelve cities in the ‘civilized’ side of the planet and not once did I get free wireless. But here in the hills of the north I can sit at my wonky desk and surf the world. I love this country.

How can I not have extreme feelings for a place that made me what I am today? A cult. Yes, I did spell that correctly. It’s written there in black and white on my laptop. ‘Colin Cotterill is one of the most highly regarded "cult favorite" crime writers today’. One of my two fans sent me the link. I was overwhelmed. I was elated. I didn’t know what it meant. I looked it up. Was I really a quasi-religion? I don’t think so. That only left definition 2.

a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : the object of such devotion

So that was it. Like the hula-hoop and the slinky, I was a fad. The people in the next room at the Zuela obviously did not realize that I was the object of devotion or I wouldn’t have had to bang on the bricks with my flip flop last night to get them to shut up. And how would this cult following change me? Obviously not financially, because I believe devotees of a cult are generally reluctant to stick their hands in their pockets in fear that it might spoil me. Commercial success is the death knell for cults like me. And how did it come about, this cultdom? Just ten years ago I was staying in guest houses like this because it was all I could afford. Now I’m here on research. I can wash off the red street mud in a four-star hotel when I get back to Thailand. How did I begin along this path?
(cue harp music played by a tall slim woman with long dark hair and glasses)
It all started in 2000 when I wrote the first of my Lao books, The Coroner’s Lunch. I guess I knew then I wouldn’t be jabbing my nib into the mainstream artery of crime fiction. In fact, I didn’t even consider myself a crime writer. I thought I was just writing stories. (Eight of them last count). Only moderate and playful gratuitous violence. Absolutely no obscenity unless you’re really easily offended. Just a bunch of nice quirky characters doing quirky things. Comparable to other writers only with regard to the exotic location. . I hadn’t set out to make depressed people write rude things about me on Amazon or be disgraced by my books. I wanted my readers to have fun. Colin the Entertainer, that’s what I was.
 I argued myself blue in the face that I wasn’t a crime writer and what happened? They handed me a Crime Writer’s Association Dagger award. You try to argue you’re not a crime writer once that’s happened. So I guess, subconsciously, all the while I was pulling away from the norm. I didn’t want to be in someone else’s genre. I wanted a genre all my own. I briefly considered vampire whodunits. Toyed with Noir fairy stories. But I’m not the serious type. If I weren’t so painfully shy and didn’t need several hours to be spontaneous, I would have been a stand-up comedian. So my new series, my truly cult adventure, would have to be funny.

Four years ago I moved to the south of Thailand to a quiet fishing village on the Gulf. Monkeys collected coconuts. Jelly fish bobbed. Dogs scratched. Some might have considered it boring. I found it utterly charming. There was so little crime that the local jail didn’t even have a lock-up. So what better premise to launch a cult series than to turn this peaceful haven of innocent squid fishing into the hub of sin and iniquity of the Eastern Seaboard? I needed characters who were not clich├ęs nor Thai stereotypes. What better way to achieve that than to take those same stereotypes and turn them upside down? What happens when the beautiful Thai transsexual ages twenty years? What happens to the traffic cop who refuses to take bribes? What happens to the body builder who is a cowardly lion? The tough female investigative journalist who has no crime to report? The organized matriarch whose mind is slowly being turned by dementia? Throw a few mysteries into this mix and a dollop of the ridiculous and what do you have? Killed at the Whim of a Hat, and its follow up, Granddad, There’s a Head on the Beach.

I don’t mind being a cult. In fact I’m quite proud about it. What would I do with all that money, anyway? And look where it’s got me. I’m at the wonky desk at the Zuela reading emails from the organizers of September’s Bouchercon to which I am being sent as the token overseas fad. I’m being emailed reviews from German magazines and south African newspapers. My British publisher is hounding me for a new book. My Swedish translator tells me that ‘wanker’ isn’t in the dictionary. All this and I am a mere cult. You wait and see what happens when I get the Nobel.

 Colin's new book is KILLED AT THE WHIM OF A HAT and is on sale now!

He is also one of the guests of honor at Bouchercon in St. Louis

Want to be entered to win a copy of the new book?
shoot an email to

We'll be sending out at least two!

Jul 14, 2011


A funny thing happened at Casa Crimespree when we watched the THORNE mini-series. I fell in love with Mark Billingham's character Tom Thorne all over again. So great to see him back at the beginning of this journey, before the support system and Thorne himself were battered, beaten, left for dead. It was a wake up call to all Billingham has managed to do in the eight books that have been published in the U.S.
Today number nine officially hits bookshops and on-line vendors throughout the U.S.A. BLOODLINE is a remarkable book. A twisty, terrible ride into the mind of two killers and the man looking at the cases they're involved in. What happens when the children of a Serial Killer's victims begin to die? From the epilogue at the very beginning of the book you'll know the stakes are high.
Did I turn you off with the words "serial killer"? Don't let it be so.
For this is a book about choices and history. The characters both heroic and cowardly. The puzzle is truly remarkable. Bloodlines is the kind of book you lose yourself in until you're done..
Once again I've got to go back to the mini-series. When you love an author's work from the beginning you often lose prespective of everything he has managed to accomplish. In Billingham's case he has dealt effectively and compassionately with Alzheimer's, Gay rights, the Iraq War, the socio-economic system, inner-office politics, homelessness. And you forget because you are so caught up in the character of Thorne. Simply one of the best Police to ever grace the page. His books are big. Think McDermid, Robinson, Rankin if you like Brit. Think Harry Bosch and Cork O'Connor if you're a fan of American police procedural.
Back to the mini series though. In watching the TV adaptation I found flaws. All faithful readers do. What I saw was eye opening. Tom Thorne is an over the top every man cop with layers and baggage. He is Jimmy Smit's Simone from NYPD Blues. He is Timothy Olyphant in Justified. He is Rudy Carazzo from the 57th Precinct series. He is Lucas Davenport without the cash. He is Harry Bosch with all the bad political savy.
Mark Billingham and Tom Thorne are the best of reads. There's a depth of character and plot written with the pacing of an airport best seller. It's time to join the party. Out today from Mulholland Books don't miss BLOODLINE.

Jun 22, 2011

Three Crime Fiction writers - 1 character- THE PUNISHER Volume 6

In the last few years a number of our favorite crime fiction writing dudes have been branching out into comics.
One book that a number of them have worked on is THE PUNISHER from marvel comics.

They have collected the various issues all into one lovely and large hardcover edition THE PUNISHER VOLUME 6.  (Amazon has it at a wonderfully affordable price of $24.26)

Hurwitz, Gischler and Sweirczynski aside from having hard to spell names each have a different take on the character and they were able to inject their own writing sensibilities into the runs they did on the comic.

Hurwitz does a tale that is similar to the actual Juarez Murders, set in Mexico the Punisher stands up for the little guys and gets some payback for people who can't on their own

Victor Gischler take ol' Frank Castle down the the Bayou in a twisted Punisher version of Deliverance. Good Ol' boys getting their asses handed to them in a swamp, FUN STUFF!

And Duane Does a wonderful race the clock story which bring Frank to Duane's stomping grounds in Philadelphia.Another classic crime fiction spin to a Punisher tale.

If you dig crime fiction and or/dig the Punisher you need this book.

Go get yourself some Here!

Jun 3, 2011

Michael Koryta , THE RIDGE & More

I'm not afraid of the dark
When the sun goes down
And the dreams grow teeth
And the beasts come out
Cast their long shadows
Every time that they start
I'll be right here with you
I'm not afraid of the dark
Josh Ritter

Michael Koyta’s strength as a story teller is well known. From TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE to THE CYPRESS HOUSE his words have spoken to the readers with a distinct voice that continues to whisper at you long after the book is done.THE RIDGE is a journey into the impossible made real by one of today’s best writers.

“What would you prefer, Murder or Suicide?” A challenging question uttered to Chief Deputy Kevin Kimble by Wyatt French .

“It will be very important to keep the light on after I’m gone.” Wyatt’s words for reporter Roy Darmus.

As one Sentinel closes for good another is about to become necessary in Sawyer County. There’s something happening out at Blade Ridge. The stakes are high. The past and the future stalking the present like a lion upon his prey.

Wyatt French lives on the edge of town. For years he’s been the town eccentric; living in a lighthouse in the middle of the woods, drinking by day and holing up in his abode by night. When Roy arrives at Wyatt’s to check up on him, the lights are about to go out and the narrative to begin in earnest.

Koryta pulls you into a story that will unlock a deeper part of your imagination with every page. This writer’s well known sense of place is finely honed. Blade Ridge is a little slice of Kentucky. A failed mining hub of the 19th century that has become a sleepy hollow of the 21st, Blade Ridge is pulsing with an evil that is timeless. Wyatt’s closest neighbor is a big cat rescue center. Audrey Clark and her team rescue abused cats, feed them and give them a life.
Photographs and memories aren’t all that Wyatt leaves behind. Kimble, Darmus and Clark will have to solve the puzzle of the Ridge soon. It’s a matter of life & death.
Koryta’s abilities as a writer have grown since that first book. THE RIDGE is a brilliant piece of craftsmanship that will captivate both crime fiction and horror readers. THE RIDGE is a place as real as King’s Derry, as singular as Jackson’s Haunted House and a puzzle as honed as McDermid’s A GRAVE TATTOO.
Read it & keep the light on..

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I'm in fact quite fond of the author's entire body of work. He recently said to Alafair Burke in a q&a that he really hoped all of his readers would enjoy the novel but he knew he was writing a different kind of book. That it was important to continue to evolve as a writer. You done good Michael.

I was fortunate to be introduced to Michael Koryta at a convention in 2003. He was attending because his "first" novel, TONIGHT I SAID GOOD-BYE had won the coveted St. Martin's/PWA First Novel contest. A wonderful mix of a PI partnership, an introduction to side characters we'd come to love and a case guaranteed to break the heart, TONIGHT I SAID GOOD-BYE also had a glimpse of the Koryta we'd see in later books. On a deserted beach three people fight for their lives. The scene is vivid, the chill from the ocean feels real and the backdrop of a deserted amusement park adds to the eeriness. The bullets fly.

So yes I'm a fan. I would declare myself to be a protective fan even. When Koryta took a year off from the Joe Pritchard/Lincoln Perry series to write his first stand-a-lone I was a little leery. ENVY THE NIGHT set my mind forever at rest. A story about fathers and their children, sins of the past catching up to the now, ENVY THE NIGHT was not only a great read, it was so structurally sound my high school English teacher would have loved this book for the symbolism and themes. she'd have found passages of "succinct character development".

In 2009 at the Indy Bouchercon we found out that Michael was going to release his next three books in One calendar year. Write every day. Koryta is a firm believer in this mantra. Three books in one year?

SO COLD THE RIVER, winner of the LA Times Best Mystery of the Year contest last year blew me away. The story of a film maker shortchanged by temper and his chance to get back not only his career but his wife stepped into the world of the unknown. The base of the story steps into the past, to a time when the Rockefellers vacationed in West Baden and everyone drank the water. The Pluto Water. The book has had a remarkable staying power with me. Just last month when the horror of Joplin hit, I could not help but think to myself, "They needed Annie.". If you've read the novel you'll understand. If you haven't put it on your reading list.

CYPRESS HOUSE arrived just a few months ago it seems. Set in Florida during the great depression. It is the story of a man who sees death coming, the boy he's taken under his wing and a woman with a whole lot of trouble on her hands. As good as I believe SO COLD THE RIVER to be, CYPRESS HOUSE is probably better. The atmosphere surrounding the novel is like the low pressure front before a hurricane and you are about to be blown away. It is a book so visually exciting that I'm entirely jazzed by the news from Hollywood that Christopher Columbus and 1492 films has acquired the rights to interpret the book for the screen. Koryta has given them a storyboard as clear as any graphic novel but with atmosphere only a seasoned veteran with talent to spare could possibly manage.

It's been quite a year for Koryta. It's been an even better year for his readers.

Jun 2, 2011


Marcus Sakey. Not too many years ago this author took a leap of faith and sat down to write his first novel , THE BLADE ITSELF. One of the last decade's most well received debuts, Sakey immediately found a place on the shelves of Crime Fiction fans. Well crafted thriller plots set with the back-drop of his hometown, Chicago and the soul of the traditional mystery have quickly expanded this writer's fan base.

This weekend he'll be debuting his new novel at Printer's Row in Chicago. If you're in the area and don't have plans stop by the main stage and pick up a copy. There's a rumor he's buying the beer. Do you live elsewhere? Put this book on your list.

None other than Lee Child declares Marcus Sakey to be one of the "New Voices quickly becoming an old favorite." Michael Connelly declares the book to be, " A tight, intuitive and terriffic read"

With a drop date of June 9, Sakey is about to expand his audience. THE TWO DEATHS OF DANIEL HAYES opens on a beach in Maine. Our Protagonist doesn't remember why he's there or who he is. He's naked and close to freezing. The first clues to his identity are a car and a gun.

Inexplicably drawn to L.A. ,the man heads to California with the police on his tail. The trouble is just beginning. Who is this man with no memory? Will he have a chance to answer the question of why he was on that beach to begin with before he loses his freedom?

Sakey parses out snippets of this story as bits of memory return to his hero's past. It is a story of one man and an all to public personal life. The story of a marriage that reached for the stars. Did it crash to earth? Are we reading into the mind of a killer or the heart of a victim?

Every note of cadence in this novel is hard rock, the sound that reverberates to the reader drawn out like a Slash solo. There is no good place to stop for a breath during this read. That is a testament to story.

On a cold day in January I sat down to Sakey's latest, THE TWO DEATHS OF DANIEL HAYES and I had a moment. This is a young writer who owns his words, every one of them. Kudos Mr. Sakey, your dream has arrived and readers everywhere will be better for it.

For the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting some of this summer's books. I need to begin with a disclaimer. The books I'll be talking about are books that I have enjoyed, books that have made me marvel at the author's talent. The wonder of Crimespree is that there really are too many books in the sense that I haven't read nearly everything I intend to read this summer. Forgive me if I come late to the party on a few. I also have a huge advantage over the average reader in that I am gifted of many books. My book budget is nicely supplemented by kind hearted publishers who hope to gain exposure for their product in our Magazine. So once again, I'll suggest that anyone who read's this blog or any "best of"list use it as a guideline and not an absolute. A trip to a well stocked bookstore, just you and the flap copy is always the best way to find the perfect fit between you and a book.

May 20, 2011

2011 MWA University Schedule - Registration is Open

MWA LogoHoriz

We are pleased to announce additions to our 2011 MWA University Schedule - Registration is now open.

For details about MWA University, visit this link

MWA University - Waukesha, Wisconsin - Friday, June 17, 2011

University of Wisconsin Waukesha
Northview Hall – Room N133 – Main Level
1500 N University Dr
Waukesha, WI 53188

Class/Instructor:  After the Idea - Jess Lourey
                            Dramatic Structure & Plot - Hallie Ephron
                            Setting & Description - John Galligan
                            Character & Dialogue - Megan Abbott
                            Writing as Re-Writing - Reed Farrel Coleman
                            The Writing Life - Hank Phillippi Ryan

Campus Map:  www.waukesha.uwc.edu/About-UWW/Directions-Maps.aspx
We have arranged for a discount at the Marriott Milwaukee West - $95/per night.  Reservations must be made via the link below.  The heavily discounted rate will only be available until June 6, 2011:

Registration Form

MWA University - New York - Saturday, August 13, 2011

Location: Fordham University School of Law
McNally Auditorium – Atrium Level
140 W 62nd St (between Columbus & Amsterdam Avenues)
New York, NY 10023

Class/Instructor:  After the Idea - Jess Lourey
                            Dramatic Structure & Plot - Hallie Ephron
                            Setting & Description - Daniel Stashower
                            Character & Dialogue - Cordelia Frances Biddle
                            Writing as Re-Writing - Reed Farrel Coleman
                            The Writing Life - Hank Phillippi Ryan

Map of Area:  http://tinyurl.com/6f2d3t2

Registration Form

MWA University - St. Louis - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 (the day before Bouchercon begins)

Location:  Holiday Inn Select – Downtown St. Louis
Washington & Broadway Rooms
811 N 9th St
St. Louis, MO 63101

Class/Instructor:  After the Idea - Jess Lourey
                            Dramatic Structure & Plot - Hallie Ephron
                            Setting & Description - John Desjarlais
                            Character & Dialogue - Vicki Stiefel
                            Writing as Re-Writing - Reed Farrel Coleman
                            The Writing Life - Hank Phillippi Ryan

Map of Area:  http://tinyurl.com/3b79f3m

Registration Form

MWA University - New Orleans - Saturday, October 1, 2011

Location:  Hotel Monteleone
Vieux Carre Room
214 Royal St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Class/Instructor:  After the Idea - Jess Lourey
                            Dramatic Structure & Plot - Hallie Ephron
                            Setting & Description - David Morrell
                            Character & Dialogue - Julie Smith
                            Writing as Re-Writing - Reed Farrel Coleman
                            The Writing Life - Hank Phillippi Ryan

Map of Area:  http://tinyurl.com/64tcoxr 

We have arranged for a rate of $159/per night at the hotel (includes a continental breakfast).  The rate will cover the following date range:  September 29 - October 2, 2011.  Reservations must be made by September 23, 2011.  Reservation link to hotel will be available soon.

Registration Form

May 4, 2011

The Boxer by Sean Monaghan

Due to a production error, the short story in the latest issue got cut off. We are posting it here so you can read the WHOLE story.

The Boxer By Sean Monaghan

Tony bounced on his toes, grazed knuckles still in front of his bruised eyes.  Rodriguez lay on the mat.  The referee grabbed Tony's hand, holding it aloft.  Tony hadn't even heard the count.
There were some muttered cheers, but Tony just went to the corner and let Perry damp him down.
"Mr Armitage is here," Perry said.
Tony glanced around, saw Armitage and Drexler.
"You did good tonight," Armitage said.
"Fifteen hundred," Tony said.  A few more fights and he'd be clear.
"You do win quite often,” Armitage said as they walked to the locker room.
"I guess,” Tony said.
"I’d pay you well to take a fall."
"You’ve told me that before."
Armitage laughed.  "Yes I have.  Well then, how would you like to resolve your situation, tonight?"
"I don't understand."
"Repay the debt.  In full."
"He shouldn't fight any more," Perry said.  "Not tonight."
Armitage waved his cigar.  "No, not fighting.  Another little job for me."
Tony nodded.
He got cleaned up and Drexler drove them out of the city, down towards the Cape.  A small town Tony had never visited.  Since fleeing Oregon, he'd hardly been out of central Boston.  Drexler parked the Limo in front of one of the clapboard villas on a street filled with similar colonials.
Armitage put out his cigar.  "Two houses along," he said, handing Tony a key and a small flashlight.  "Number thirteen sixty eight."
Tony took the things.
"This requires discretion," Armitage said.  "Can I count on you for that?"
"I gave her some expensive jewelry and I want it back."
"You can't ask her?"
"Ah, Tony, there's my problem.  She ended our relationship, fearing for her child and marriage, I suspect."
"Couldn't you-"
"Tony, this is a delicate situation.  The jewels are in her top drawer.  The dresser is obvious, her room - their room - is the second door past the top of the stairs.  You'll be in and out in a couple of moments."
"I don't know, Mr Armitage."  Breaking and entering sounded risky.
"A few minutes.  They aren't home.  You understand why I can't go in."
"I ..."
"And your debt will be erased."
Tony nodded.  Wiping eighty thousand was taking a long time.  For a while the fights had barely made interest.  Now he was getting close, but the sense of ending it buoyed him.  He looked at the key.  "Front door?"
Armitage nodded.  "Dresser drawer.  Second door.  Top of the stairs.  No one home."
"None.  It’s a quiet, sleepy town.  See you in a few minutes."
Tony stepped out onto the sidewalk and went along to the house.  There was a twin seat swing on the front porch, beside an aluminum table with an empty coffee cup.  The key turned in the lock.
Tony went across the threshold, clicked the flashlight on.  Stairs with a rodded mat.  On the wall there were photos of scuba divers and fish and whales.  A toddler in a bathing suit running across sand.
He jogged up the stairs, went to the second door.  There were more photos, but Tony didn't look.  He darted the flashlight around the room.  Closet, bedside tables with lamps, rumpled bed, dresser.  He hauled the drawer out, wondering how Armitage knew exactly where the jewels were.
Rifling through smalls Tony didn't find anything.  Growling he emptied the drawer onto the floor, shining the flashlight through the woman's underwear.  Nothing.
Something wasn't right.
Tony opened the next drawer.  Socks.
A toilet flushed in the en suite.
Tony yanked out the drawer and tipped it over.  Something clunked to the floor amongst the spilling socks.  The jewels.  Reaching to pick them up, he felt a pistol.
The light flicked on and someone screamed.
Tony put the gun up on the dresser and backed away from her.  The jewels weren't here anyway.  Armitage had been wrong.
The woman hurled a book at him, then the bedside lamp.
"Hey," Tony said.  "I'm just collecting the jewels."
"Get out," she was holding up a pillow as if ready to smack him.
Her eyes flicked to the gun and Tony almost picked it up again.  "Sorry," he said.  "I didn't mean any trouble."  He would have to keep on with the fighting to clear the debt.  He had a feeling that Armitage wasn't going to make it easy for him.
Wide-eyed, the woman clutched the pillow.
"Mom," someone called out from the hallway, and a light glowed on behind Tony.
"Go back to bed honey," the woman said.
Tony saw that she was shaking.  He could tell why Armitage had taken up with her, full blond hair, light eyes, trim figure.  She looked at the gun again and he knew he couldn't leave it behind.
As he reached out, another hand slipped over the pistol.  Tony looked up to see Armitage.  "Hello Tony," he said.  "No jewels?  Oh well.  Hello Claire."
Armitage had gloves on.  Tony knew his own prints were on the gun.
The woman's face narrowed to a scowl.
"Where is it, Claire?"
Tony realized that Armitage hadn't known where the jewels were, but must have known about the gun.
"Spent," the woman said.  "You knew it would be spent."
Someone raced along the hallway and crashed into Armitage.  He staggered.  Twisting, he fired.  The sound made Tony jerk.  The woman screamed again.  A girl, perhaps fifteen, collapsed to the floor.  Blood blackened the carpet under her in a growing stain.
"Daphne."  The woman dove, shoving Tony aside.  She scooped the dying girl up, clutching her close.  "Bastard, you bastard."
"Claire," Armitage said softly.  "You know how this works.  I own you."
"I made a mistake.  My husband will be-"
Armitage shot her in the shoulder.  She fell back, the girl's body sprawling.  "Your husband is lucky he's not home.  But I will, eventually, be collecting from him."
The woman's face shifted from agony to sadness and then Armitage gave her a kill shot. 
"What the hell?" Tony said.      
Armitage removed the clip and clicked the bullets out into his palm, replaced the empty clip, then tossed the gun at Tony.  He caught it reflexively.
Armitage pocketed the bullets and turned to the stairs.  "Your debt is cleared," he said.  "You're free to go."  He glanced over his shoulder.  "But I have a feeling that your problems are just beginning."
Tony looked at the two bodies.  A set-up.
He jumped at Armitage, already halfway down the stairs.  Armitage buckled under him and they tumbled to the front door, the gun clattering away.
"Idiot," Armitage said, clutching a bleeding cheek.
Tony punched him.
Drexler appeared at the doorway.  "What the ...?"  He bent for the gun.
Tony jumped up, but Drexler was fast, had the gun in his hand, leveled at Tony.
"I'm being set up," Tony said.  He realized that Drexler had gloves, but hanging from his pocket, not on his hands.  Drexler was part of the set-up, but now his prints would be on the gun too.
Drexler tipped his hand and glanced at the empty gun.  He knew, Tony realized, from the weight.
Tony sprang and knocked Drexler down across the steps.  Armitage's man was tough, but no match for Tony's fists.
Tony stood up.  Sirens in the distance.
Armitage had lawyers.  No matter what Tony said, Armitage would walk, find himself another drudge boy, find someone else to take those falls.
And Tony would be in jail.  He wasn't going back there.  Ever.
Taking the keys from Drexler, Tony dragged Armitage over to the car.  He tossed the boss in the front seat, then sat behind the wheel.
It wasn’t going to work.
Tony leapt back out of the car, ran to Drexler and wiped the gun down.  He took the gloves and stuffed the gun into Drexler’s belt.
Back in the car, Tony edged into the access alley and crept across a few streets, letting the cops pass.  Once he felt clear, he fled to the freeway, then on across the bridge to the Cape.  Near Provincetown he found a seaward beach access.  He crossed the packed sand and stopped close to the water.
Armitage was still groggy, not quite conscious.  Tony climbed out and hauled him into the driver seat.  Then he went around behind the car and began pushing.  With the slope and the backwash he got it down.  Waves broke over the hood as the car drifted off, settling, then sinking.
Tony walked back across the beach, feeling light.  Whatever happened the debt was clear.  No more fighting, no more trying to avoid Drexler.  He watched the waves for a few moments, then turned to the dunes.  He had a long walk back home.  Wherever that was.