Monday, January 29, 2018

No Sex or Gory Violence, Please

Organizers of the Malice Domestic conference, which is set to take place this year in Bethesda, Maryland, from April 27 to 29, have announced their nominees for the 2017 Agatha Awards. According to press materials, “The Agatha Awards honor the ‘traditional mystery.’ That is to say, books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie as well as others.” Below are the six categories of contenders.

Best Contemporary Novel:
Death Overdue, by Allison Brook (Crooked Lane)
A Cajun Christmas Killing, by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane)
No Way Home, by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Take Out, by Margaret Maron (Grand Central)
Glass Houses, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best Historical Novel:
In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union)
Murder in an English Village, by Jessica Ellicott (Kensington)
Called to Justice, by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
The Paris Spy, by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam)
Dangerous to Know, by Renee Patrick (Forge)

Best First Novel:
Adrift, Micki Browning (Alibi)
The Plot Is Murder, by V.M. Burns (Kensington)
Hollywood Homicide, by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
Daughters of Bad Men, by Laura Oles (Red Adept)
Protocol, by Kathleen Valenti (Henery Press)

Best Non-fiction:
From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon, by Mattias Boström (Mysterious Press)
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, by Martin Edwards
(Poisoned Pen Press)
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land,
by Monica Hesse (Liveright)
Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction, by Jess Lourey (Conari Press)
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier, by
Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin’s Press)

Best Short Story:
Double Deck the Halls, by Gretchen Archer (Henery Press e-book)
“Whose Wine Is it Anyway” by Barb Goffman (from 50 Shades of Cabernet; Koehler)
“The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place,” by Debra Goldstein (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May/June 2017)
The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn, by Gigi Pandian
(Henery Press e-book)
“A Necessary Ingredient,” by Art Taylor (from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks; Down & Out)

Best Children’s/Young Adult:
City of Angels, by Kristi Belcamino (Polis)
Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ’Em Dead, by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)
The World’s Greatest Detective, by Caroline Carlson (HarperCollins)
Audacity Jones Steals the Show, by Kirby Larson (Scholastic Press)
The Harlem Charade, by Natasha Tarpley (Scholastic Press)

Winners are set to be declared on Saturday, April 28.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

READ MORE:Agatha and Other Awards,” by Martin Edwards (‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’).

Here We Go Again

As hard as this may be to believe, ABC-TV has greenlighted a pilot film for a reboot of the 1974-1975 crime drama Get Christie Love!, which starred Teresa Graves as a (literally) kick-ass Los Angeles undercover cop. According to Deadline Hollywood, this not-quite-remake will star Canadian-American actress Kylie Bunbury.
The new Get Christie Love (no ! in the title), written by [executive producer Courtney] Kemp, is an action-packed, music-driven drama that centers on Christie Love (Bunbury), an African-American female CIA agent who leads an elite ops unit. She transforms into whomever she needs to be to get the job done, especially when it’s down to the wire and the stakes are life and death. The high-adrenaline missions of the series are anchored by an emotional mystery about Christie’s first love—unearthing the truth about this relationship will be the biggest mission impossible of her life.
Adding further to 2018’s reboot fever, In Reference to Murder blogger B.V. Lawson notes that “CBS also ordered pilots for the Magnum P.I. and Cagney & Lacey reboots. The original Tom Selleck Magnum series ran from 1980 to 1988, while Tyne Daly and Sharon Glass’ female-fronted police procedural was on the air from 1982 to 1988.”

READ MORE:New Magnum P.I. & Lacey Likely to Be Diverse as Broadcast Networks Eye Most Inclusive Pilot Leads Ever,” by Nellie Andreeva (Deadline Hollywood).

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Book You Have to Read:
“Hollywood and LeVine,” by Andrew Bergman

(Editor’s note: This is the 154th installment in The Rap Sheet’s continuing series about great but forgotten books.)

By Steven Nester
Private investigator Jack LeVine possesses the “wise and forgiving heart of a Talmudic sage,” but he’s no antiquated milquetoast. Screenwriter/director Andrew Bergman’s trench coat-clad retro-noir novel Hollywood and LeVine (1975), the second book in a trilogy, avoids caricature and cliché, giving its story the power to intrigue the most demanding readers of noir; yet its locale, its place in history, along with its plot circumstances and stage dressing, will satisfy anyone who craves the invigorating company of a slap-some-sense-into-you, old-school shamus.

For a while at least, the end of World War II seemed like a great time to be in the P.I. business. New York City’s LeVine has been making bank checking up on how the wives of GIs returning from the battlefields amused themselves while their husbands were off protecting democratic values. However, as quickly as the soldiers came home and the party started, those vets “combed the confetti from their hair … and commenced to brood.” Peacetime inflation set in, and with the champagne ceasing to flow, a deep sense of paranoia descended slowly upon the land.

By early 1947, Jack LeVine is finally down to his last dollar. It’s then that he is approached in his Manhattan office by an old friend, Walter Adrian. The pair had been fellow travelers two decades before at the City College of New York, a hotbed of leftist thinking ever since the days of Sacco and Vanzetti. The practical LeVine had eventually cooled toward “Uncle Joe” Stalin and his brutality, got his gumshoe license, and chosen to save civilization one worried or confused client at a time. Meanwhile, Adrian has become a successful (if never Oscar-winning) screenwriter, spreading hope for a better world through popular culture. Shortly after they reunite, Adrian invites LeVine out to Los Angeles for a visit—and a paycheck.

Yet when LeVine arrives in Southern California, he discovers Adrian and his Hollywood clique running scared.

Remember, the United States’ early postwar years brought not only a turn away from political isolationism and the kickoff of the nation’s “baby boom,” but also the birth of the Cold War and the concurrent fear campaign remembered as McCarthyism. Led by a self-promoting U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, that last effort made the federal government complicit in a witch hunt for homegrown communists and “red” spies—real and imaginary—wherever they might exist. McCarthy’s dubious investigation focused principally on government employees, college educators, and labor union activists, as well as members of the entertainment industry, especially those living and working in Tinseltown. McCarthy and his nationalist-crusader cohorts sought to “blacklist” anyone at the major film studios who they’d convinced themselves were “communist sympathizers,” thus undermining those people’s careers.

It’s against this backdrop that Walter Adrian draws Levine west. Adrian suspects that Warner Bros., the studio for which he’s worked since 1938, is giving him the cold shoulder. His contract is up for renegotiation and he is being offered considerably less money than was included in his previous agreement. What’s more, a theatrical play he’s written is attracting exactly zero interest from producers, and he is concerned that he’s being followed. Adrian declines to offer an explanation for his perceived fall from grace, but the balding, divorced, and Blatz-drinking LeVine is no chump. He figures Adrian is concealing crucial information, and he’s seasoned enough to realize that such secrecy may bring unfavorable results. “I didn’t think he was holding out on me for any malicious reason,” explains Levine. “That’s what bothered me: it’s the ones with good intentions who get pushed off the tops of buildings.”

When Adrian in fact ends up swinging from a rope on a deserted movie set, his death is labeled a suicide. LeVine doesn’t buy that explanation for a minute. More likely, Adrian was among the first to have felt the wrath of the anti-communist blacklist, and fell on his sword—or he might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. This being an era marked by secrets and betrayals, perhaps Adrian knew too much about something he wished he knew nothing about. To get to the truth, LeVine dives headfirst into Hollywood culture, and the discrepancies he finds can be ludicrous.

“If this was communism, it looked pretty good to me,” LeVine opines as he calls on the palatial homes of Adrian’s well-paid socialist pals. Nonetheless, the disdain studio managers exhibit toward writers—the bedrock of the movie business—is painful. Those wordsmiths are deemed disposable, a perception made clear to the P.I. when a talent agent “stuck a polished shoe up on his desk, careful to place the heel on a script.” Readers who’ve dug deeper into Hollywood history may recall a resounding put-down of screenwriters attributed to legendary studio chief Jack Warner, who allegedly called them “schmucks with typewriters.” Is it any wonder that Hollywood scripters of that time often felt like doormats in a B movie?

The case unfolds swiftly and engagingly. LeVine finds Adrian’s beautiful red-headed wife, Helen, to be a grieving yet very merry widow, but not somebody he considers capable of any foul play. In an obligatory confrontation, L.A. police warn LeVine to stay clear of their inquiries, which of course only intensifies his interest in them. Author Bergman, whose screenplay Tex X was the basis for Mel Brooks’ classic Western satire, Blazing Saddles (1974), possesses a sly sense of humor. He combines historical context with spot-on parody when, in this novel, he introduces a young Republican congressman from California named Richard Nixon. Eager to build a reputation, Nixon—in “a stern hand-on-the-Bible voice”—questions LeVine and Warners studio boss Johnny Parker on behalf of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), an investigative body of the U.S. House of Representatives that, just like McCarthy’s Senate council, was charged with rooting out subversives. Amid all of this, LeVine learns of the theory that Adrian was murdered to prevent him from naming fellow Communist Party members in the movie biz. That solution would give the matter closure, placing any resolution behind the impregnable “Iron Curtain.” However, patience and some solid snooping lead our man LeVine in a different direction.

The shamus spots cowboy actor Dale Carpenter rushing into Johnny Parker’s house. In the process, a scrap of newspaper falls from a folder in Carpenter’s hands, and this supplies LeVine with a critical first piece of the puzzle. He follows that clue to a small-time Colorado cop who has blackmailed his way into federal law enforcement and the Hollywood craft unions, and then to a man that cop arrested years ago for rape—someone who’s now a studio executive. When LeVine closes in on Adrian’s killer, the FBI agent who has been leaning on Parker to identify commies in the motion-picture industry suddenly accuses Helen Adrian of being a Soviet agent responsible for her spouse’s slaying. And as it becomes clear that Helen is slated for extermination as well, Bergman really pulls out the stops. He teams LeVine with Humphrey Bogart at a party where Helen is abducted. Bogart, a stand-up guy no matter what fiction he might appear in, aids LeVine in a middle-of-the-night car chase to rescue her from a certain death, and to flush out the guilty parties—even though some of them are bound to escape punishment in the end.

The palpable divisiveness of our political scene in 2017 might lead readers to feel a sense of relief that, as bad as some things are nowadays, at least they’re better than in the early postwar years, when fear and intolerance bred mob rule, censorship, and tyranny. Hollywood and LeVine reminds us of just how bad those old days could be. Putting the message ahead of the fictional narrative in this fashion may seem underhanded, unfair to unsuspecting and impressionable consumers. But altruism takes many forms. Percy Bysshe Shelley advised artists of their responsibilities, saying that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Temper this with Ernest Hemingway’s admonishment, that if “you want to send a message, call Western Union,” and perhaps a coexistence between fact and fiction can be reached. As a work of fiction, Hollywood and LeVine perfectly blends entertainment with edification.

READ MORE:Hello Dahlia!” by J. Kingston Pierce (January Magazine).

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Revue of Reviewers, 1-25-18

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Blues for Moody

From Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare blog:
More sad news. Bill Moody, 76, musician and mystery author, passed away on January 14. I haven’t seen a formal obituary yet, but saw this on his Facebook page, a post by Piro Patten:

“We lost Bill yesterday. He was late for a gig and the musicians went looking for him. Great way to go. I hope musicians are looking for me when my time comes. We love you, Bill, and that wonderful lilting swing that propelled the music so well.”
Moody was of course a professional jazz drummer and the author of seven mystery novels starring Evan Horne, a jazz pianist and sometime sleuth. The first of those was Solo Hand (1994), with the last being 2011’s Fade to Blue. In addition, he penned a couple of spy yarns: Czechmate (2012) and The Man in Red Square (2013). The New York Times once remarked that “Moody is a fluent writer with a good ear for dialogue, a deft and ingratiating descriptive touch, a talent for characterization and a genuine feel for the jazz world.”

I only had the chance to meet Bill Moody once or twice at Bouchercons, but I remember him as an excellent speaker and a pleasant conversationalist. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Barrying Kind

Another day, another set of 2018 prize contenders. This time we have the finalists, in four categories, for this year’s Barry Awards, to be presented by Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine.

Best Novel:
The Late Show, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne (Putnam)
Exit Strategy, by Steve Hamilton (Putnam)
The Force, by Don Winslow (Morrow)
Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr (Putnam)
Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz (Harper)

Best First Novel:
The Dry, by Jane Harper (Flatiron Press)
She Rides Shotgun, by Jordan Harper (Ecco)
The Lost Ones, by Sheena Kamal (Morrow)
The Irregular, by H.P. Lyle (Quercus)
A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus)
My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead)

Best Paperback Original:
Safe From Harm, by R.J. Bailey (Simon & Schuster UK)
The Deep Dark Descending, by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street)
Hollywood Homicide, by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
The Day I Died, by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow)
Blessed Are the Peacemakers, by Kristi Belcamino (CreateSpace)
Super Con, by James Swain (Thomas & Mercer)

Best Thriller:
Gunmetal Gray, by Mark Greaney (Berkley)
Spook Street, by Mick Herron (Soho)
The Freedom Broker, by K.J. Howe (Quercus)
The Old Man, by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)
Unsub, by Meg Gardiner (Dutton)
Trap the Devil, by Ben Coes (St. Martin’s Press)

Congratulations to all of the nominees! Winners are set to be announced on September 6, during the opening ceremonies at the 2018 Bouchercon convention in St. Petersburg, Florida.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

Face Value: Best Crime Covers, 2017

1st Place: Blackbird, by Michael Fiegel (Skyhorse).
Cover design by Erin Seward-Hiatt.

How fitting it is for our purposes here that the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover,” meaning one should avoid estimating the value of something or somebody based solely on appearances, traces its popularity in part back to a hard-boiled 1946 mystery novel by Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller. According to online sources, one of the earliest versions of this idiom is found in George Eliot’s 1860 tale, The Mill on the Floss, with a modification of it—“you can’t judge a book by its binding”—cited subsequently in a 1944 edition of the journal American Speech. Rolfe and Fuller’s aforementioned work of crime fiction, The Glass Room, which reportedly started out as a film project for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, contains yet another form of the cliché: “you can never tell a book by its cover.”

The more often this phrase featured in our sources of popular entertainment (the 1947 film The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, also made memorable use of that wisdom), the more embedded it became in our culture. Today, “never judge a book by its cover” is accepted as common sense. Yet The Rap Sheet’s recent effort to choose the Best Crime Fiction Cover of 2017 asked readers to throw off such advice, and judge which of 15 arresting book fronts they thought made the best use of photography, illustrations, and typography.

Those finalists combined in-house selections, several candidates showcased in design-oriented blogs over the 12 months, and suggestions from Rap Sheet fans. Earlier this month, everybody who wished to take part was invited to cast ballots electronically for one or more of the book fronts. With upwards of 900 votes having been registered, and the poll now ended, we can present the top five vote-getters in this post—see above and below.

2nd Place: G-Man, by Stephen Hunter (Putnam). Cover illustration
by Lorin Michki. Jacket design by Ben Denzer.

3rd Place: Follow Me Down, by Sherri Smith (Forge).
Jacket design by Daniela Medina.

4th Place: Mister Memory, by Marcus Sedgwick (Pegasus).
Cover illustration by Simón Prades.

5th Place: The Fall of Lisa Bellow, by Susan Perabo (Simon & Schuster). Jacket design by Alison Forner.

If you wish to learn the total number of votes received by each cover in contention this year, simply click here. And thanks once more to everyone who took part in this process.

READ MORE:The Best Book Covers of 2017,” by Matt Dorfman (The New York Times); “Notable Covers of 2017,” by Dan Wagstaff; “The Best Book Covers of 2017,” by Jessica Doyle (AbeBooks).

Rather Late to the Party

We seem to have almost run the course, as far “best crime fiction of 2017” picks go. Two late entries are author, blogger, and editor Andrew Nette’s choices for the German culture website, CulturMag (at least his are in English—others must be translated), and Euro Crime contributor Mark Bailey’s “Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2017,” which is described as the penultimate entry in that blog’s series.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Edgars Have Their Day

Today, on the 209th anniversary of author Edgar Allan Poe’s birth in Boston, Massachusetts, the Mystery Writers of America has announced its nominees for the 2018 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, “honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2017.” The full list of winners will be declared during a banquet in New York City on April 26. Congratulations to all of the nominees.

Best Novel:
The Dime, by Kathleen Kent (Mulholland)
Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr (Putnam)
Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Mulholland)
A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus)
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, by Hannah Tinti (Dial Press)

Best First Novel by an American Author:
She Rides Shotgun, by Jordan Harper (Ecco)
Dark Chapter, by Winnie M. Li (Polis)
Lola, by Melissa Scrivner Love (Crown)
Tornado Weather, by Deborah E. Kennedy (Flatiron)
Idaho, by Emily Ruskovich (Random House)

Best Paperback Original:
In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen (Thomas & Mercer)
Ragged Lake, by Ron Corbett (ECW Press)
Black Fall, by Andrew Mayne (Harper)
The Unseeing, by Anna Mazzola (Sourcebooks Landmark)
Penance, by Kanae Minato (Mulholland)
The Rules of Backyard Cricket, by Jock Serong (Text)

Best Fact Crime:
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the
Birth of the FBI
, by David Grann (Doubleday)
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple,
by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land,
by Monica Hesse (Liveright)
The Man From the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery, by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James (Scribner)
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation, by Brad Ricca (St. Martin’s Press)

Best Critical/Biographical:
From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon, by Mattias Bostrom (Mysterious Press)
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier, by Tatiana
de Rosnay (St. Martin’s Press)
Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall, by Curtis Evans (McFarland)
Chester B. Himes: A Biography, by Lawrence P. Jackson (Norton)
Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes,
by Michael Sims (Bloomsbury USA)

Best Short Story:
• “Spring Break,” by John Crowley (from New Haven Noir,
edited by Amy Bloom; Akashic)
• “Hard to Get,” by Jeffery Deaver (Ellery Queen Mystery
, July/August 2017)
• “Ace in the Hole,” by Eric Heidle (from Montana Noir,
edited by James Grady and Keir Graff; Akashic)
• “A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House,” by Kenji Jasper
(from Atlanta Noir, edited by Tayari Jones; Akashic)
• “Chin Yong-Yun Stays at Home,” by S.J. Rozan (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January/February 2017)

Best Juvenile:
Audacity Jones Steals the Show, by Kirby Larson (Scholastic Press)
Vanished! by James Ponti (Aladdin)
The Assassin’s Curse, by Kevin Sands (Aladdin)
First Class Murder, by Robin Stevens (Simon & Schuster)
NewsPrints, by Ru Xu (Graphix)

Best Young Adult:
The Cruelty, by Scott Bergstrom (Feiwel & Friends)
Grit, by Gillian French (HarperTeen)
The Impossible Fortress, by Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster)
Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum)
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)

Best Television Episode Teleplay:
• “Episode 1,” Loch Ness, teleplay by Stephen Brady (Acorn TV)
• “Something Happened,” Law & Order: SVU, teleplay by Michael Chernuchin (NBC Universal/Wolf Entertainment)
• “Somebody to Love,” Fargo, teleplay by Noah Hawley
(FX Networks/MGM)
• “Gently and the New Age,” George Gently, teleplay by Robert
Murphy (Acorn TV)
• “The Blanket Mire,” Vera, teleplay by Paul Matthew Thompson
and Martha Hillier (Acorn TV)

The Simon & Schuster/Mary Higgins Clark Award:
The Vineyard Victims, by Ellen Crosby (Minotaur)
You’ll Never Know, Dear, by Hallie Ephron (Morrow)
The Widow’s House, by Carol Goodman (Morrow)
Uncorking a Lie, by Nadine Nettmann (Midnight Ink)
The Day I Died, by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow)

In addition, authors Jane Langton, William Link, and Peter Lovesey have been selected to receive the 2018 Grand Master Awards; Kristopher Zgorski of BOLO Books as well as The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas, will be honored with Raven Awards; Robert Pépin has been named as this year’s recipient of the Ellery Queen Award; and “The Queen of Secrets,” by Lisa D. Gray (from New Haven Noir; Akashic) will be given the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Revue of Reviewers, 1-17-18

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.

A Monk in the City of Angels

Here’s an interesting item from In Reference to Murder:
Former Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim's production company 3AD is creating First Rule of Ten, a show based on a mystery novel series by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay. The story follows a young monk [Tenzing Norbu], who after years spent struggling with the teachings of his Tibetan monastery, leaves to find his identity in the unlikeliest of places—Los Angeles. There, he’s forced to reconcile the differences between the Buddhist teachings he’s grown up with and the new fast-paced lifestyle filled with temptations. His path to self-discovery becomes further complicated when he witnesses a brutal crime and becomes inextricably entwined in its investigation.
Learn more about Tenzing (“Ten”) Norbu by clicking here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Reading Year: Changing the Criteria

During the final two years of my tenure with Kirkus Reviews, I composed—in addition to “favorite crime novels of the year” lists—posts that looked back on my annual reading as measured by somewhat different criteria. (Look for said pieces here and here.) I found those exercises so satisfying, that I have decided to continue them in The Rap Sheet. Yes, I know, it’s the middle of January, but like so many other people, I am not yet done thinking about the books I enjoyed in 2017.

Last year was an unusual reading period for me in several ways. First off, I didn’t have to consume as many crime novels as had been elemental to my diet while writing a fortnightly column for the Kirkus Web site; I filled in part of that extra time by re-reading a number of books—something I haven’t done nearly enough of over the last decade. Secondly, I rediscovered an appetite for science fiction that I hadn’t felt in many years, which led me to pull down from my shelves such books as James Blish’s A Case of Conscience (1958) and Larry Niven’s Ringworld series. Finally, I decided I was overdue for an introduction to a dozen or so once-notable mainstream wordsmiths whose fiction I had, either through foolishness or negligence, never deigned to try before. This last desire resulted in my reading a pair of prizes from John O’Hara’s oeuvre—Appointment in Samarra (1934) and BUtterfield 8 (1935)—and procuring rather creased old paperback editions of early novels by Irwin Shaw, an author I’d only ever known before from short stories published (and republished) in Esquire magazine.

Some of the categories I have chosen for the broader assessment, below, of my 2017 reading experiences are new or modified from those I have employed in the past. However, my intent remains the same as always: to evaluate my last 12 months of crime-fiction reading through criteria I think can be as worthwhile and revealing as picking my “favorite” books (which I did here and here).

Some of 2017’s Most Promising Debut Novels: Let’s begin with Leo W. Banks’ Double Wide (Brash), which imagined an ex-star baseball pitcher, brought down by a cocaine arrest, who’s now managing a middle-of-nowhere Arizona trailer park and winds up playing sleuth after the apparently violent death of his former catcher. When I was asked to blurb Banks’ yarn, this is what I wrote:
It’s tough not to appreciate a madcap crime novel that incorporates drug smuggling, homicide, baseball, Shakespeare, and wayward body parts into its tumbling plot. Especially when the story also boasts keen and comical observations on life, a roadrunner pace, and a hardy but humane protagonist. Double Wide is single-minded entertainment of a subversively literary sort. More, please! – J. Kingston Pierce, The Rap Sheet
Also particularly impressive: Jane Harper’s Australian farm-country whodunit, The Dry (Flatiron), which I named as one of my favorite novels of last year; Guy Bolton’s 1939-set The Pictures (Oneworld), about Detective Jonathan Craine, the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief “fixer” for the billion-dollar Hollywood film business, who’s tasked—just five months after helping to cover up the suicide of his actress wife—to oversee the investigation of a prominent movie producer alleged to have “hanged himself in his study and left no note”; Abir Mukherjee’s A Rising Man (Pegasus), a lushly atmospheric work focusing on a Scotland Yard detective, newly settled in Calcutta, India, in 1919, who’s assigned to solve the case of a white government official left dead in a sewer with a message in his mouth that warns the subcontinent’s British rulers to vamoose, or else; She Rides Shotgun (Ecco), Jordan Harper’s tightly wound, largely character-driven thriller about a freshly liberated felon determined to protect his 11-year-old daughter from homicidal Aryan gangsters, even if it means turning her into a pint-size Bonnie Parker; H.B. Lyle’s The Irregular (Quercus), an Edwardian tale starring an ex-soldier and onetime street urchin cohort of Sherlock Holmes, who plays secret agent in order to track down a friend’s killer; and M.L. Rio’s If We Were Villains (Flatiron)—another 2017 favorite—which gives us a septet of Shakespeare-obsessed college theater students, both drawn together and driven apart by a tragedy among their number.

Writers Whose Work I Had Ignored for Too Long: There are now so many authors contributing to this genre, it’s impossible to stay current with every single one. Until last year, for instance, I had never read a book by Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Harry Dolan. This, despite the fact that he’d penned three critically praised novelsBad Things Happen (2009), Very Bad Men (2011), and The Last Dead Girl (2014)—about David Loogan, a crime magazine editor with a violent past. For some unknown reason, none of those attracted my interest. But then in November of last year, Dolan came out with a standalone titled The Man in the Crooked Hat (Putnam), and it hit my desk at a time when I was between books. I decided to give it a shot—and boy, am I happy I did. The story builds around a Detroit ex-cop, Jack Pellum, who’s now halfheartedly working as a private eye in the same city, devoting most of his attention to solving the murder of his wife 18 months before. His only clue? A composite sketch of a man in a fedora. Pellum’s father and friends are convinced his quest is quixotic. But suddenly a local writer commits suicide, leaving behind an odd note that reads, “There’s a killer, and he wears a crooked hat,” and Pellum thinks this might just be the break he needs. The Man in the Crooked Hat is a slow-boiling sort of whodunit, straightforwardly told for the most part, but boasting carefully textured characters and a thoroughly satisfying ending. I’ll definitely be going back soon to read Dolan’s previous novels, and will keep a better radar fix on him in the future. Three other authors whose fiction I finally got around to “discovering” in 2017: William Shaw, who earned praise with a quartet of 1960s-set London police mysteries (most recently Sympathy for the Devil), but who I didn’t try out until last year’s The Birdwatcher (Mulholland); Attica Locke, whose fourth novel, a small-town puzzler titled Bluebird, Bluebird (Mulholland), made me kick myself for not paying attention to her before now (see Stephen Miller’s review here); and Harry Kemelman (1908-1996), the New England writer best remembered for his dozen books about crime-solving Rabbi David Small, whose first entry in that series, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, I didn’t pick up until last year—more than five decades after its original publication in 1964.

Favorite Almost-But-Not-Quite James Bond novel: Forever and a Death, by Donald E. Westlake (Hard Case Crime).

Crossovers That Left Me Hungry for More: During my teenage years, I (like many boys of that age) was a big reader of science fiction, especially books by Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov, and James Blish. This was before my introduction to crime fiction, however. Once I started tackling tales by Ross Macdonald, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and scores of their literary successors, there was no turning back. But as I mentioned earlier, last year I gave in to an urge to re-read Niven’s Ringworld series, and that led me to pick up a couple of SF/crime crossover works: Andy Weir’s Artemis (Crown), about theft and conspiracy on Earth’s moon; and Chris Brookmyre’s Places in the Darkness (Orbit), a particularly complex yarn having to do with the initiatory homicide on an Earth-orbiting space station. The subgenre of science-fiction mysteries has a well-established history, going back to Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man (1953) and Isaac Asimov’s The Caves of Steel (1954), and continuing up through Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), James P. Hogan’s Inherit the Stars (1977), and of course, David Brin’s Kiln People (2002). Too frequently, though, such works are reviewed as SF and concurrently ignored by crime-fiction enthusiasts. Perhaps with big-name wordsmiths such as Brookmyre and Weir contributing, this field will gain wider prominence.

Non-fiction Books Worth Adding to Your Library: A couple of years back, I was contacted by Australian novelist, editor, and blogger Andrew Nette, who proposed that I put together an essay for a book about “pulp and popular fiction influenced by the radical movements of the 1960s and 1970s.” This, he explained, would be the sequel to a volume he was already co-editing with fellow Melburnian Iain McIntyre “about youth subculture and pulp fiction.” Well, that latter work reached stores in December, titled Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980 (PM Press); and while it doesn’t solely have to do with crime fiction, a number of people who have been prominent in this genre over the years are well represented in its pages, including Thomas B. Dewey, John D. MacDonald, and Ed McBain. Furthermore, this oversize paperback is elegantly illustrated with myriad book covers that were once seen on store spinner racks and in the bottom drawers of readers with appetites for racier fiction. It’s a browser’s delight, for sure. Now I look forward to receiving Nette’s sequel, Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1956 to 1980, which will include my essay and is set to be published by PM Press in late 2018. I just hope my name is spelled correctly in the finished product; a preview on the last page of Girl Gangs credits me as “J. Kingston Smith.” Another excellent addition to your shelves would be The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (Poisoned Pen Press), editor Martin Edwards’ primer on significant crime and mystery novels published during the opening half of the 20th century. He devotes at least a couple of pages to each book, many of which I have not read—yet. And don’t forget about Barry Forshaw’s American Noir (Oldcastle/Pocket Essentials), a brief but authoritative survey of U.S. crime fiction in the early 21st century.

Favorite New Crime-Fiction Periodical: Down & Out: The Magazine. Not just because I am a columnist for that handsome quarterly, but because editor Rick Ollerman has recruited a lot of terrific talent to fill out his pages. Issue 1 (July 2017) featured a brand-new Reed Farrel Coleman tale starring New York private eye Moe Prager, plus submissions by Eric Beetner, Michael A. Black, Jen Conley, and Terrence McCauley. Issue 2 gave us what may be Bill Crider’s final abbreviated outing for Sheriff Dan Rhodes, as well as fiction from Ben Boulden, Lissa Marie Redmond, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, and others. Each issue also presents one story from a classic crime writer—Frederick Nebel first, and most recently Carroll John Daly. I look forward to seeing what Ollerman can produce of this mag in the long run.

Most Welcome Short-Story Collections: As I recall, my introduction to Dashiell Hammett’s many stories about a “short, squat, middle-aged manhunter” known only as the Continental Op came during one summer afternoon in my early 20s, when—needing a modicum of human contact—I strolled from my apartment near downtown Portland, Oregon, to the historic Multnomah County Central Library, settled into a big padded chair in its first-floor Fiction Room, and cracked open a paperback copy of the Steven Marcus-edited, 1975 volume titled simply The Continental Op. I now have a different edition of that book decorating my office shelves, together with the 1966 Op collection, The Big Knockover, edited by Lillian Hellman. Yet I felt compelled last year to also purchase The Big Book of the Continental Op (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard), edited by Richard Layman and Hammett’s granddaughter, Julie M. Rivett. And I’m glad I did. This doorstop of a paperback features all 28 Op yarns, including several early specimens that Black Mask magazine published under Hammett’s “Peter Collinson” pseudonym. Found here, too, are the original serialized versions of Red Harvest and The Dain Curse, the only two Continental Op novels. I’d forgotten what a damn snappy and oft-humorous writer Hammett was from the very start, and how invaluable his background as a Pinkerton detective was in lending his Op outings texture and authenticity most of his contemporaries couldn’t equal. A wonderful release! Two other anthologies I enjoyed in 2017: The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, edited by Gary Phillips (Three Rooms Press); and The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers (Soho Crime).

Books from 2017 That Are Still in My To-Be-Read Pile: Beau Death, by Peter Lovesey (Soho Crime); A Christmas Railway Mystery, by Edward Marston (Allison and Busby); Crime Song, by David Swinson (Mulholland); The Lost Ones, by Sheena Kamal (Morrow); Night Market, by Daniel Pembrey (Oldcastle); The Saboteur, by Andrew Gross (Minotaur); and Sleeping in the Ground, by Peter Robinson (Morrow).

Keeping Up with Crider

As regular readers of this page know, 76-year-old Texas author-blogger Bill Crider is currently undergoing home hospice care for prostate cancer. His family and friends have kindly been providing health updates on Bill’s Facebook page, including this one from his younger brother, Cox Robert “Bob” Crider, which is dated January 7, 2017:
Bill is still with us. He is still taking liquid nutrition by mouth. We have trained in-home health aides who are here 7 hours a day, and family members all the time, so he is getting good care. He still enjoys conversations but does not read, watch TV, or do Facebook anymore—but we try to keep him tuned in on what's going on.

When he was placed in Hospice Care, the doctor told him he had about 4 to 8 weeks left. That was 6 weeks ago. … I think he is gonna beat that 8 weeks for sure. But he is ready to go now because he “does not want to be any trouble to anyone.” Yep, that's my bro!
And this message, also from his brother, dated January 13:
Bill continues to weaken some each day, but is still with us and systems still working.
One message I found particularly interesting had to do with Crider’s fiction writing. I’d feared that 2017’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Dead, to Begin With (Minotaur), would be the last novel we’d see from this fine writer. But I am glad to learn I was mistaken. This update, again from Bob Crider, was posted on January 12:
Bill is fretting that his last book will not be on the market before he passes from this world. He sent it to his agent back in October. He has me checking Amazon every day to see if it is available yet.

I think it will arrive on the market the same day he departs. The title of the book is
That Scoundrel Death. There is some irony in that …
Finally, if you would like to send Bill Crider a message of thanks or hope, his Facebook page now provides the appropriate postal address: Bill Crider, 1606 S. Hill St., Alvin, TX 77511.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Put Your Bets Down on Reno Prizes

With a couple of months still to go before the opening of Left Coast Crime 2018 in Reno, Nevada (March 22-25), organizers of that convention have announced the nominees for this year’s four Lefty Awards. These prizes will be handed out during a banquet on Saturday, March 24, at the Nugget Casino Resort in Reno/Sparks, Nevada.

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel:
Gone Gull, by Donna Andrews (Minotaur)
A Cajun Christmas Killing, by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane)
Dying on the Vine, by Marla Cooper (Minotaur)
The Art of Vanishing, by Cynthia Kuhn (Henery Press)
Dying for a Diamond, by Cindy Sample (Cindy Sample)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial), for books covering events before 1960:
In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union)
The Woman in the Camphor Trunk, by Jennifer Kincheloe
(Seventh Street)
Dangerous to Know, by Renee Patrick (Forge)
The Proud Sinner, by Priscilla Royal (Poisoned Pen Press)
Season of Blood, by Jeri Westerson (Severn House)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel:
A Short Time to Die, by Susan Alice Bickford (Kensington)
Hollywood Homicide, by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
Lost Luggage, by Wendall Thomas (Poisoned Pen Press)
A Head in Cambodia, by Nancy Tingley (Swallow Press)
Protocol, by Kathleen Valenti (Henery Press)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories):
Blood Truth, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview)
Sulphur Springs, by William Kent Krueger (Atria)
Glass Houses, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock, by Terry Shames
(Seventh Street)
Cast the First Stone, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)

The Guests of Honor at Left Coast Crime 2018 will be authors Naomi Hirahara and William Kent Krueger. Todd Borg, author of the Tahoe Mysteries, will serve as Toastmaster, with Mark Twain (aka actor McAvoy Layne) expected to hold forth as “Ghost of Honor.”

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Starter Set

Having somehow survived 2017, with all of its governmental incompetence, infantile Twitter rants, discomfiting threats of nuclear warfare, and erosion of both social norms and international alliances, we’re now charging full steam ahead into 2018. There are no assurances that the world will be any less rocky and frightening this year than it was last, but at least we will have lots of excellent reading material to keep us entertained—no matter what happens.

Just the next three months, for instance, will bring us what’s billed as “the final completed novel” by Mickey Spillane (The Last Stand); a new Hebrides-set thriller from Peter May (I’ll Keep You Safe); Rory Clements’ latest World War II-era spy yarn (Nucleus); Jane Harper’s Force of Nature, her sequel to the award-winning The Dry; what may be the opening installment in a new Walter Mosley detective series (Down the River Unto the Sea); the long-awaited fourth novel from Night Dogs author Kent Anderson (Green Sun); a work of psychological suspense from Laura Lippman (Sunburn); a 1920s-set novel of the Windy City underworld by playwright David Mamet (Chicago); the return of early 20th-century Viennese psychiatrist Max Liebermann (in Frank Tallis’ Mephisto Waltz); a high-tension yarn pairing two of Loren D. Estleman’s series protagonists, private eye Amos Walker and hit man Peter Macklin (Black and White Ball); the return of 1940s San Francisco gumshoe Miranda Corbie (in Kelli Stanley’s City of Sharks); the 50th anniversary edition of Colonel Sun, “the first James Bond novel published after the death of Ian Fleming in 1964”; Stella Duffy’s completion of an Inspector Roderick Alleyn mystery (Money in the Morgue), begun in the 1940s by Ngaio Marsh; and J. Todd Scott’s High White Sun, the sequel to 2016’s The Far Empty. On top of those, we can also look forward to fresh fiction from, among many others, Ragnar Jónasson, Jacqueline Winspear, Robert Goddard, Alison Gaylin, Joe R. Lansdale, Camilla Lackberg, Brad Parks, Charles Todd, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Bill Pronzini, Eva Dolan, Gerald Seymour, Mari Hannah, Robert Harris, and Ann Cleeves.

I know, I know: This abundance of literary riches is almost too much to take in at a single sitting. Below you will find almost 400 crime, mystery, and thriller works due out on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean between now and the end of March. (Believe it or not, this is not a complete rundown of what will soon become available, but instead a critic’s choice selection.) The list is based on recommendations from genre authorities such as Sarah Weinman and Shots’ Ayo Onatade, and Web sites ranging from Crime Fiction Lover and Bookbub Blog to Euro Crime and The Bloodstained Bookshelf. I think there’s something here for everyone, whether you favor hard-boiled crime tales, less brash whodunits, or double-cross-filled espionage thrillers. There are even a few crime fiction/science fiction crossovers, and some non-fiction releases—identified here with asterisks (*)—that should appeal to The Rap Sheet’s astute and curious readership.

An Aegean April, by Jeffrey Siger (Poisoned Pen Press)
Anatomy of a Scandal, by Sarah Vaughan (Atria/Emily Bestler)
Babylon Berlin, by Volker Kutscher (Picador)
Bad Samaritan, by Dana King (Down & Out)
Beneath the Darkest Sky, by Jason Overstreet (Dafina)
Beneath the Mountain, by Luca D’Andrea (Harper)
Best Friends Forever, by Margot Hunt (Mira)
The Black Painting, by Neil Olson (Hanover Square)
Blood Sisters, by Jane Corry (Pamela Dorman)
The Bloody Spur, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Kensington)
The Bomb Maker, by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)
The Burial Society, by Nina Sadowsky (Ballantine)
The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor (Crown)
Crash, by Keith Houghton (Thomas & Mercer)
Crazy Rhythm, by T.W. Emory (Coffeetown Press)
Cutting Edge, by Ward Larsen (Forge)
Darkness, Sing Me a Song, by David Housewright (Minotaur)
Death Below Stairs, by Jennifer Ashley (Berkley)
The Devil’s Claw, by Lara Dearman (Crooked Lane)
The Devil’s Song, by Lauren Stahl
(Kaylie Jones)
Dominic, by Mark Pryor (Seventh Street)
Don’t Look for Me, by Mason Cross (Pegasus)
The English Wife, by Lauren Willig
(St. Martin’s Press)
False Witness, by Andrew Grant (Ballantine)
Frankenstein in Baghdad, by Ahmed Saadawi (Penguin)
Free from All Danger, by Chris Nickson (Severn House)
The Girlfriend, by Michelle Frances (Kensington)
Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway (Knopf)
The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, by Alan Bradley (Delacorte)
Grist Mill Road, by Christopher J. Yates (Picador)
A Gruesome Discovery, by Cora Harrison (Severn House)
Hellbent, by Gregg Hurwitz (Minotaur)
Hidden Depths, by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
The Honorable Traitors, by John Lutz (Pinnacle)
The Hostess with the Ghostess, by E.J. Cooperman (Crooked Lane)
If You Knew Her, by Emily Elgar (Harper)
I Know My Name, by C.J. Cooke (Grand Central)
Into the Black Nowhere, by Meg Gardiner (Dutton)
The Island, by M.J. Trow (Crème de la Crime)
The Job of the Wasp, by Colin Winnette (Soft Skull Press)
Just Between Us, by Rebecca Drake (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Justice by the Pound, by Ivan Weinberg (Curtis Brown)
Keep Her Safe, by K.A. Tucker (Atria)
Killer Choice, by Tom Hunt (Berkley)
The Liar in the Library, by Simon Brett (Crème de la Crime)
Lies That Comfort and Betray, by Rosemary Simpson (Kensington)
Light It Up, by Nick Petrie (Putnam)
The Linking Rings, by John Gaspard (Henery Press)
The Long Arm of the Law, edited by Martin Edwards (Poisoned
Pen Press)
The Long Deception, by Mary McCluskey (Little A)
Lullaby Road, by James Anderson (Crown)
Maigret Goes to School, by Georges Simenon (Penguin)
Many a Twist, by Sheila Connolly (Crooked Lane)
A Map of the Dark, by Karen Ellis (Mulholland)
Marshal and the Moonshiner, by C.M. Wendelboe (Five Star)
May, by Marietta Miles (Down & Out)
A Merciful Secret, by Kendra Elliot (Montlake)
The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and
Dale C. Andrews (Wildside Press)
The Mitford Murders. by Jessica Fellowes (Minotaur)
Mood Indigo, by Ed Ifkovic (Poisoned Pen Press)
A Mortal Likeness, by Laura Joh Rowland (Crooked Lane)
Munich, by Robert Harris (Knopf)
Murder Has a Motive, by Francis Duncan (Sourcebooks Landmark)
Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland (Ballantine)
New York Station, by Lawrence Dudley (Blackstone)
Night Driver, by Ronald Colby (Rare Bird)
The Night Market, by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Night Trade, by Barry Eisler (Thomas & Mercer)
No Second Chances, by Don Bruns (Severn House)
The Other Side of Everything, by Lauren Doyle Owens (Touchstone)
Paving the New Road, by Sulari Gentill (Poisoned Pen Press)
The Perfect Nanny, by Leila Slimani (Penguin)
Perish, by Lisa Black (Kensington)
The Perpetual Summer, by Adam Walker Phillips (Prospect Park)
Plague Pits & River Bones, by Karen
Charlton (Thomas & Mercer)
The Pope of Palm Beach, by Tim
Dorsey (Morrow)
Punishment, by Scott J. Holliday
(Thomas & Mercer)
The Pyramid of Mud, by Andrea
Camilleri (Penguin)
A Reckoning in the Back Country, by Terry Shames (Seventh Street)
The River Below, by Bonnie Hearn Hill (Severn House)
Robicheaux, by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
Saving Grace, by Simon Wood (Thomas & Mercer)
Season of Blood, by Jeri Westerson (Severn House)
Seven-Sided Spy, by Hannah Carmack (Ninestar Press)
The Silent Room, by Mari Hannah (Minotaur)
Strangers, by Ursula Archer and Arno Strobel (Minotaur)
The Suffering of Strangers, by Caro Ramsey (Severn House)
Sunday Silence, by Nicci French (Morrow)
The Take, by Christopher Reich (Mulholland)
This Is What Happened, by Mick Herron (Soho Crime)
Touchfeather, by Jimmy Sangster (Brash)
Traitor, by Jonathan de Shalit (Atria/Emily Bestler)
A Treacherous Curse, by Deanna Raybourn (Berkley)
Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson (Katherine Tegen)
Twist of Faith, by Ellen J. Green (Thomas & Mercer)
Two Girls Down, by Louisa Luna (Doubleday)
Vanishing Girls, by Lisa Regan (Bookouture)
The Voice Inside, by Brian Freeman (Thomas & Mercer)
Walking the Bones, by Randall Silvis (Sourcebooks Landmark)
Walk in the Fire, by Steph Post (Polis)
The Widows of Malabar Hill, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Wife, by Alafair Burke (Harper)
The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
(St. Martin’s Press)
The Winter Station, by Jody Shields (Little, Brown)
The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn (Morrow)
Worst Fear, by Matt Hilton (Severn House)
Zack, by Mons Kallentoft (Atria/Emily Bestler)

Bloody January, by Alan Parks (Canongate)
City Without Stars, by Tim Baker (Faber and Faber)
The Confession, by Jo Spain (Quercus)
A Damned Serious Business, by Gerald Seymour (Hodder & Stoughton)
Dark Pines, by Will Dean (Point Blank)
Deep Blue Trouble, by Steph Broadribb (Orenda)
Earth Storm, by Mons Kallentoft (Hodder & Stoughton)
Eighteen Below, by Stefan Ahnhem (Head of Zeus)
Eye for an Eye, by Kerry Wilkinson (Pan)
Fakes and Lies, by Jane A. Adams (Severn House)
Fear, by Dirk Kurbjuweit (Orion)
The Feed, by Nick Clark Windo (Headline)
Final Target, by E.V. Seymour (Killer Reads)
The Fountain in the Forest, by Tony White (Faber and Faber)
The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney (Quercus)
Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka (Picador)
The Girl Who Ran, by Nikki Owen (HQ)
The Great Darkness, by Jim Kelly (Allison & Busby)
The Guilty Wife, by Elle Croft (Orion)
Hell Bay, by Kate Rhodes (Simon & Schuster)
Human Face, by Aline Templeton
(Allison & Busby)
Hydra, by Matt Wesolowski (Orenda)
I Did It for Us, by Alison Bruce (Constable)
If I Die Before I Wake, by Emily Koch (Harvill Secker)
I’ll Keep You Safe, by Peter May (Riverrun)
Killer Intent, by Tony Kent
(Elliott & Thompson)
The Killing Site, by Caro Peacock
(Severn House)
Know Me Now, by C.J. Carver (Zaffre)
Life of Crime, by Kimberley Chambers (HarperCollins)
The Long Silence, by Gerald O’Donovan (Severn House)
Man on Ice, by Humphrey Hawksley (Severn House)
Murder Lies Waiting, by Alanna Knight ( Allison & Busby)
Nucleus, by Rory Clements (Zaffre)
Once a Pilgrim, by James Deegan (HQ)
One Bad Turn, by Sinéad Crowley (Quercus)
Perfect Death, by Helen Fields (Avon)
The Perfect Neighbours, by Rachel Sergeant (Killer Reads)
The Photographer, by Craig Robertson (Simon & Schuster)
Restless Coffins, by M.P. Wright (Black and White)
Scorched Earth, by David Mark (Mulholland)
Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
This Is How It Ends, by Eva Dolan (Raven)
Traitor, by David Hingley (Allison & Busby)
Truly Evil, by Mark Hardie (Sphere)
Zen and the Art of Murder, by Oliver Bottini (MacLehose Press)

The Bad Daughter, by Joy Fielding (Ballantine)
Blind Eye, by Marcus Pelegrimas (Down & Out)
The Bookworm, by Mitch Silver (Pegasus)
Chicago, by David Mamet (Custom House)
A Cold Day in Hell, by Lissa Marie Redmond (Midnight Ink)
Culprits: The Heist Was Just the Beginning, edited by Richard J. Brewer and Gary Phillips (Polis)
Cut You Down, by Sam Wiebe (Quercus)
A Dangerous Crossing, by Ausma Zehanat Khan (Minotaur)
Dead Calm, by Annelise Ryan (Kensington)
Dead Man’s Badge, by Robert E. Dunn (Brash)
A Death in Live Oak, by James Grippando (Harper)
Death in the Stars, by Frances Brody (Minotaur)
Death of an Honest Man, by M.C. Beaton (Grand Central)
The Deceivers, by Alex Berenson (Putnam)
Deros, by John Vanek (Coffeetown Press)
Down the River Unto the Sea, by Walter Mosley (Mulholland)
Final Strike, by William S. Cohen (Forge)
The Fire Pit, by Chris Ould (Titan)
Force of Nature, by Jane Harper (Flatiron)
Forty Dead Men, by Donis Casey (Poisoned Pen Press)
The French Girl, by Lexie Elliott (Berkley)
From Away, by Phoef Sutton (Prospect Park)
Gallery of the Dead, by Chris Carter (Simon & Schuster)
The Gate Keeper, by Charles Todd (Morrow)
Girl Unknown, by Karen Perry (Henry Holt)
The Glass Forest, by Cynthia Swanson (Touchstone)
The God Game, by Jeffrey Round (Dundurn)
The Greek Wall, by Nicolas Verdan (Bitter Lemon Press)
Green Sun, by Kent Anderson (Mulholland)
Head Wounds, by Dennis Palumbo
(Poisoned Pen Press)
Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake (Hard Case Crime)
House Witness, by Mike Lawson
(Atlantic Monthly Press)
The Hush, by John Hart (St. Martin's Press)
The Imam of Tawi-Tawi, by Ian
Hamilton (Spiderline)
The Innocents, by David Putnam (Oceanview)
I Only Have Lies For You, by Robert J. Randisi (CreateSpace)
Justice Lost, by Scott Pratt (Thomas & Mercer)
The Kremlin’s Candidate, by Jason Matthews (Scribner)
The Legacy, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir (Minotaur)
The Liar’s Girl, by Catherine Ryan Howard (Blackstone)
The Listener, by Robert McCammon (Cemetery Dance)
Look for Her, by Emily Winslow (Morrow)
Look for Me, by Lisa Gardner (Dutton)
A Loyal Spy, by Simon Conway (Arcade)
Maigret and the Dead Girl, by Georges Simenon (Penguin)
The Man Upon the Stair, by Gary Inbinder (Pegasus)
Margaret Truman’s Allied in Danger, by Donald Bain (Forge)
Mephisto Waltz, by Frank Tallis (Pegasus)
Minced, Marinated, and Murdered, by Noël Balen and Vanessa
Barrot (Le French)
The Missing Hours, by Emma Kavanagh (Kensington)
Murder in Bloomsbury, by D.M. Quincy (Crooked Lane)
My Name Is Nathan Lucius, by Mark Winkler (Soho Crime)
The Neighborhood, by Mario Vargas Llosa (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
19 Souls, by J.D. Allen (Midnight Ink)
No One Can Know, by Lucy Kerr (Crooked Lane)
The One, by John Marrs (Hanover Square Press)
The Plea, by Steve Cavanagh (Flatiron)
Poison, by John Lescroart (Atria)
The Policeman’s Daughter, by Trudy Nan Boyce (Putnam)
Prague Noir, edited by Pavel Mandys (Akashic)
The Return of Kid Cooper, by Brad Smith (Arcade)
Shallow Grave, by Karen Harper (Mira)
Sirens, by Joseph Knox (Crown)
The Storm King, by Brendan Duffy (Ballantine)
Street Whispers: Stories, by Liam Sweeny (All Due Respect)
Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
This Fallen Prey, by Kelley Armstrong (Minotaur)
The Throne of Caesar, by Steven Saylor (Minotaur)
The Tuscan Child, by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union)
Ultimate Power, by Stephen Frey (Thomas & Mercer)
The Undertaker’s Daughter, by Sara Blaedel (Grand Central)
The Unforgotten, by Laura Powell (Gallery)
A Well-Timed Murder, by Tracee de Hahn (Minotaur)
A Whisper of Bones, by Ellen Hart (Minotaur)
Wild Justice, by Priscilla Royal (Poisoned Pen Press)
Winter Sisters, by Robin Oliveira (Viking)
The Woman in the Water, by Charles Finch (Minotaur)
The Wrong Sister, by T.E. Woods (Kensington)

Angel in the Shadows, by Walter Lucius (Michael Joseph)
Apostle Lodge, by Paul Mendelson (Constable)
Back Up, by Paul Colize (Point Blank)
Blue Night, by Simone Buchholz (Orenda)
The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Collector, by Fiona Cummins (Macmillan)
Cut Off, by Mark Billingham (Sphere)
The Dark Angel, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
A Darker State, by David Young (Zaffre)
Dead Men Whistling, by Graham Masterton (Head of Zeus)
Everything Is Lies, by Helen Callaghan (Penguin)
A False Report, by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong (Hutchinson)
The Gathering Dark, by James Oswald (Michael Joseph)
The Girl in the Woods, by Camilla Lackberg (HarperCollins)
Gravesend, by William Boyle (No Exit Press)
Gringa, by Joe Thomas (Arcadia)
Head Case, by Ross Armstrong (HQ)
In the Pines: 5 Murder Ballads, by Erik Kriek (Canongate)
In Strangers’ Houses, by Elizabeth Mundy (Constable)
Killed, by Thomas Enger (Orenda)
Like Lions, by Brian Panowich (Head of Zeus)
Little Liar, by Clare Boyd (Bookouture)
The Mechanical Devil, by Kate Ellis (Piatkus)
The Memory Chamber, by Holly Cave (Quercus)
Name of the Dog, by Élmer Mendoza (MacLehose Press)
Nobody Gets Hurt, by R.J. Bailey
(Simon & Schuster UK)
The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders,
by Saul David (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Reluctant Assassin, by Fiona Buckley (Creme de la Crime)
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (Raven)
Seventeen, by Hideo Yokoyama (Riverrun)
This is Where I Say Goodbye, by James Craig (Constable)

The Affliction, by Beth Gutcheon (Morrow)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life, by Laura Thompson (Pegasus)*
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Bad Cops, by Nick Oldham (Severn House)
The Bags of Tricks Affair, by Bill Pronzini (Forge)
Barbed Wire Heart, by Tess Sharpe (Grand Central)
The Bishop’s Pawn, by Steve Berry (Minotaur)
Black and White Ball, by Loren D. Estleman (Forge)
Bone Music, by Christopher Rice (Thomas & Mercer)
The Broken Girls, by Simone St. James (Berkley)
Caribbean Rim, by Randy Wayne White (Putnam)
City of Sharks, by Kelli Stanley (Minotaur)
Closer Than You Know, by Brad Parks (Dutton)
Close to Home, by Cara Hunter (Penguin)
The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum (St. Martin’s Press)
Colonel Sun, by Kingsley Amis (Pegasus)
Crimson Lake, by Candice Fox (Forge)
Dangerous Boys, by Greg F. Gifune (Down & Out)
Dayfall, by Michael David Ares (Tor)
The Day She Disappeared, by Christobel Kent (Sarah Crichton)
Deadly Recall, by T.R. Ragan (Thomas & Mercer)
Death at the Durbar, by Arjun Raj Gaind (Poisoned Pen Press)
Death Comes in Through the Kitchen, by Teresa Dovalpage
(Soho Crime)
Death of an Unsung Hero, by Tessa Arlen (Minotaur)
The Devil and the River, by R.J. Ellory (Overlook Press)
Devil’s Wolf, by Paul Doherty (Headline)
A Different Kind of Evil, by Andrew Wilson (Washington Square Press)
The Disappeared, by C.J. Box (Putnam)
Dodging and Burning, by John Copenhaver (Pegasus)
The Echo Killing, by Christi Daugherty (Minotaur)
The Escape Artist, by Brad Meltzer (Grand Central)
Exacting Justice, by T.G. Wolff (Down & Out)
Exhibit Alexandra, by Natasha Bell (Crown)
Fade to Black, by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur)
The Family Next Door, by Sally Hepworth (St. Martin’s Press)
The Fighter, by Michael Farris Smith (Little, Brown)
The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday)
Foreign Bodies, edited by Martin Edwards (Poisoned Pen Press)
A Funeral in Mantova, by David P. Wagner (Poisoned Pen Press)
Glimpse, by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Press)
A Guide for Murdered Children, by Sarah Sparrow (Blue Rider Press)
High White Sun, by J. Todd Scott (Putnam)
Hiroshima Boy, by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park)
Holmes Entangled, by Gordon McAlpine (Seventh Street)
Holy Ceremony, by Harri Nykänen (Bitter Lemon Press)
The Hunger, by Alma Katsu (Putnam)
I Bring Sorrow & Other Stories of Transgression, by Patricia Abbott (Polis)
If I Die Tonight, by Alison Gaylin (Morrow)
I’ll Keep You Safe, by Peter May (Quercus)
The Innocent Wife, by Amy Lloyd
(Hanover Square)
I Was Anastasia, by Ariel
Lawhon (Doubleday)
Jackrabbit Smile, by Joe R.
Lansdale (Mulholland)
The Kremlin Conspiracy, by Joel C. Rosenberg (Tyndale House)
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, by Nova Jacobs (Touchstone)
Last Ferry Home, by Kent Harrington (Polis)
The Last Stand, by Mickey Spillane (Hard Case Crime)
Let Me Lie, by Clare Mackintosh (Berkley)
Looking Glass, by Andrew Mayne (Thomas & Mercer)
The Longest Silence, by Debra Webb (Mira)
Lock 13, by Peter Helton (Severn House)
Lost Creed, by Alex Kava (Prairie Wind)
Maigret and the Minister, by Georges Simenon (Penguin)
Memento Mori, by Ruth Downie (Bloomsbury USA)
Mind of a Killer, by Simon Beaufort (Severn House)
Murder at Half Moon Gate, by Andrea Penrose (Kensington)
The Nightingale Murder, by Leena Lehtolainen (AmazonCrossing)
Not That I Could Tell, by Jessica Strawser (St. Martin’s Press)
The Other Mother, by Carol Goodman (Morrow)
The Punishment She Deserves, by Elizabeth George (Viking)
The Purloined Puzzle, by Parnell Hall (Minotaur)
Rainbirds, by Clarissa Goenawan (Soho Press)
Rip Crew, by Sebastian Rotella (Mulholland)
The Sandman, by Lars Kepler (Knopf)
Santa Fe Mourning, by Amanda Allen (Crooked Lane)
Searcher of the Dead, by Nancy Herriman (Crooked Lane)
Second Story Man, by Charles Salzberg (Down & Out)
The Silent Companions, by Laura Purcell (Penguin)
Silent Victim, by Caroline Mitchell (Thomas & Mercer)
Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney (Flatiron)
The Sons: Made in Sweden, Part II, by Anton Svensson (Quercus)
The Stakes, by Ben Sanders (Minotaur)
Such Dark Things, by Courtney Evan Tate (Mira)
Tangerine, by Christine Mangan (Ecco)
The Temptation of Forgiveness, by Donna Leon (Atlantic
Monthly Press)
The Terminal List, by Jack Carr (Atria/Emily Bestler)
They All Fall Down, by Tammy Cohen (Pegasus)
The Third Victim, by Phillip Margolin (Minotaur)
To Die But Once, by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper)
White Rose, Black Forest, by Eoin Dempsey (Lake Union)
The Wild Inside, by Jamey Bradbury (Morrow)
Worth Killing For, by Jane Haseldine (Kensington)

Acts of Vanishing, by Fredrik T. Olsson (Sphere)
The Bone Keeper, by Luca Veste (Simon & Schuster)
Bring Me Back, by B.A. Paris (HQ)
Bryant & May: Hall of Mirrors, by Christopher Fowler (Doubleday)
Class Murder, by Leigh Russell (No Exit Press)
Come and Find Me, by Sarah Hilary (Headline)
Damnation, by Peter Beck (Point Blank)
The Darkness, by Ragnar Jónasson (Michael Joseph)
The Devil’s Dice, by Roz Watkins (HQ)
End Game, by Matt Johnson (Orenda)
Girl on Fire, by Tony Parsons (Century)
Hangman, by Daniel Cole (Trapeze)
The Last Hour, by Harry Sidebottom (Zaffre)
The Long Forgotten, by David Whitehouse (Picador)
The Lost, by Mari Hannah (Orion)
Money in the Morgue, by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy
(Collins Crime Club)
Murder at the Bayswater Bicycle Club, by Linda Stratmann
(History Press)
Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin (Mantle)
Only the Dead Can Tell, by Alex Gray (Sphere)
Panic Room, by Robert Goddard (Bantam Press)
The Parentations, by Kate Mayfield (Point Blank)
The Perfect Girlfriend, by Karen Hamilton (Wildfire)
The Shadow Killer, by Arnaldur Indridason (Harvill Secker)
The Smiling Man, by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)
Splinter in the Blood, by Ashley Dyer (Corsair)
29 Seconds, by T.M. Logan (Zaffre)
Two Little Girls, by Kate Medina (HarperCollins)
The Western Wind, by Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape)
We Were the Salt of the Sea, by Roxanne Bouchard (Orenda)
While You Sleep, by Stephanie Merritt (HarperCollins)

As usual, if you think I have somehow neglected to mention any new releases of particular significance, please drop me a line in the Comments section at the bottom of this post.