Stephen Mack Jones: Lives Laid Away

This book came out around the time we closed the store and I didn’t read it at the time, being deep into comfort re-reading of Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth.  However I thought the first book, August Snow, was wonderful and a great and much needed injection of diversity and vitality to the private eye genre.  This second book is even better, more intense and focused.  I recently interviewed Stephen who mentioned Robert B. Parker as an influence, and I can sure see it in this tight, funny, fast moving story. read more

S.J. Rozan: Paper Son

Eight long years and a change of publisher later, Lydia Chin and her partner Bill Smith have returned. They have been missed! Rozan’s series is one of the best private eye series around, with the fresh take of shifting narrators between books. One book will be Lydia’s, one Bill’s. This one is Lydia’s. She’s summoned to Mississippi to get a never met cousin out of jail for murdering his father.

First of all, what? Mississippi? What’s hard core New Yorker Lydia doing in the Mississippi Delta, and who knew she had cousins there, much less that Chinese grocery stores are/were a fact of life in small Mississippi towns. Lydia’s scary (and entertaining mother) is sure her cousin Jefferson cannot be guilty, because he’s family. read more

Author Interview: S.J. Rozan

S.J. Rozan

SJ Rozan is the author of the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith books. Unusual in fiction, the series switches narrators from book to book, giving Rozan’s long running private eye series not only a unique hook but a fresh take on each story she tells. Set mainly in New York, the new and long awaited installment in this series is set in Mississippi. Despite the radical change in setting, it’s still very much a Lydia and Bill story, and readers should expect a very welcome return to Lydia and Bill’s world. Paper Son is out July 2 and can be pre-ordered on the website. read more

Maureen Jennings: Heat Wave

This book is available on April 30, 2019.

The prolific Maureen Jennings begins a new series with Heat Wave, set in 1936 Toronto, which is experiencing a particularly brutal heat wave.  The main character is young Charlotte Frayne, a fledgling private eye who works for the usually unflappable Thaddeus Gilmore.  When she arrives at work the day the book opens, though, Mr. Gilmore has received a particularly nasty piece of hate mail, and he hurries off.

When he’s away, several things happen.  One of them is that owner of the nearby Paradise Café comes by and asks Gilmore and associates to look into some theft going on at his restaurant. The other is a call from Mr. Gilmore, informing Charlotte that his wife has been taken to the hospital, the victim of some type of attack. read more

Start at the very beginning

An overview of First in Series books: find them for sale in our online store.

We’re offering these first in series titles for a couple reasons – one, some are hard to find and mystery readers like to read a series in order!  And secondly, while many of you may be familiar with these series, you may have only read the later books.  These are all incredible starts to great characters and stories.  Reading through all of them will give you a great overview of contemporary mystery fiction, in all its many threads – private eye, police, cozy, British procedural, historical.  Setting has proven to be key for the modern mystery as has a broader array of character types, ranging from Tony Hillerman’s iconic Joe Leaphorn to James Lee Burke’s P.I. Dave Robichaux to Laura Lippman’s kick-ass Tess Monaghan to Dorthy Gilman’s sweet old lady CIA agent Mrs. Pollifax.  If you had walked in to our store, we would have recommended these titles to you depending on your interest.  One of our all time bestsellers was Deborah Crombie’s spectacular debut, A Share in Death.  We hope you’ll dig in!  Here’s a list, and you can find them for sale on the online store page. read more

Loren D. Estleman: Black and White Ball

Deep into a now 80 book and counting career, and 27 in to his iconic Amos Walker series, what is Loren Estleman going to come up with that might be new? You might be surprised. In this novel Walker crosses paths with one of Estleman’s other characters, Peter Macklin, who hires Walker to look after his ex-wife. She’s being stalked by his son, Roger, who has gone into the family business – contract killing.

Dividing the segments of the novel into “Me” (Walker), “Him” (Macklin), as well as “Her” (the ex-wife) and “Them” (various, but often Roger) has injected a fresh energy into this novel. As always, Estleman writes tight – this book clocks in at 240 pages – and also as always, his prose and expression are absolute treasures. Reading an Estleman novel is almost like eating a too rich slice of chocolate cake – you have to read slowly, because if you don’t you won’t be able to savor the prose and the witty sleight of hand that comprises Estleman’s dialogue. People in an Estleman novel speak like you wish you could and maybe the way you would if you had a long time to come up with the perfect turn of phrase. Alas, I think there are few human brains that actually operate on that elevated scale, but it’s certainly a delight to encounter it in print. read more

Ingrid Thoft: Loyalty

I have heard the buzz about Ingrid Thoft for awhile now and finally got around to picking up this first novel in her series, and boy, is the hype justified. The central character, a female P.I. who works for the family law firm, bears some similarity to the kick-ass Kalinda on The Good Wife, one of my all time favorite TV characters. Josefina “Fina” Ludlow also has a passing resemblance to Spenser, and as this series is set in Boston, that seems only right. The family law firm is run with an iron fist by her father Carl and staffed by her high powered brothers. While Fina found the law wasn’t for her, she found investigative work was. It’s very much put to the test in this first outing. She runs a business “separate” from the family law firm, but they bring her most of her clients. read more

Stephen Mack Jones: August Snow

As I started this book I have to admit I was a tad suspicious – the author is a poet and a playwright, not always the recipe for creating a down and dirty private eye novel. But as I read this novel set in Detroit’s Mexicantown and featuring half African American, half Mexican ex-cop August Snow, I found instead that the book fitted neatly in with work by Loren Estleman and Steve Hamilton, being a refreshingly straightforward, if gritty, private eye novel and making no bones about it.

Like David Housewright’s Minnesota P.I. Mackenzie, who has a ton of money at his disposal, so does August Snow, who won a settlement against the Detroit Police Department and is using the money in his own way to recreate the warm Mexicantown neighborhood he fondly remembers from his childhood. He’s been on the run – more or less – for a year and is back home, settling into his life in Detroit, when he gets a call from an old client, one who helped cause much of the ruckus that got him on the outs with the Detroit cops. Reluctantly, he makes the trek across town to the woman’s Grosse Pointe mansion to see what he can help her with. read more

William Kent Krueger: Manitou Canyon

manitoucanyon-200This is a long awaited return for Krueger’s beloved Cork O’Connor. Two years between books is really too long for the rabid fan, of which there are many (I live with two of them). One of the things Krueger has done really beautifully with this series is to paint a long portrait of a family – when we first meet Cork, in Iron Lake (1998), he and his wife Jo are separated. They get back together and then Jo is killed in Heaven’s Keep (2009), literally about half way through this long, now 15 novel series. read more

Michael Harvey: The Governor’s Wife

governorswifeThis is a welcome return of Michael Harvey’s now virtually classic Michael Kelly series. Kelly is a Chicago P.I. who reads classical literature to relax (he loves Ovid) and the series is a lean, mean private eye juggernaut that takes no prisoners. There are very few actual private eyes left on the landscape—the remaining P.I.’s are often reluctant like Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight, though there are a few holdouts: Loren D. Estelman, Sue Grafton, and Sara Paretsky. All of those series are aging honorably, but the Kelly series is still in full bloom. read more