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Guest Blogger: Michael Connelly

The Gods of GuiltDefense attorney Mickey Haller returns with a haunting case in the gripping new thriller from best-selling author Michael Connelly.

In my new novel, The Gods of Guilt, the Lincoln lawyer Mickey Haller likens the practice of law to juggling chain saws: It can be dangerous, especially if you catch it by the wrong end. I think writing a novel is the same way. There are many pitfalls. You have to be careful and steady with your juggling. Still, every book is a challenge in its own way, and those challenges are set by the juggler himself. So there is no use complaining about it. If you want to take the easy route, then juggle marshmallows.
When I wrote The Gods of Guilt, I think I went with chainsaws. I gave myself a challenge that probably nobody would notice but myself. I just wanted to see if I could pull it off.

First of all, I wanted the book to function as an entertaining legal thriller with lots of intrigue, courtroom drama, and subterfuge. I wanted a few surprises too, including the death of a secondary character that the reader wouldn’t see coming. None of that was really secret in terms of the structure of the book. They were needed ingredients and difficult enough to juggle and keep in the air. The secret agenda I added was with regard to two of the main characters. While functioning as a fast-moving thriller, the book’s true center revolves around the relationship between Mickey Haller and his 16-year-old daughter, Hayley. I wanted that strained relationship to be the engine that drives Mickey’s choices and desires through the book. The book is, after all, called The Gods of Guilt. I wanted Mickey to be operating from a standpoint of seeking redemption in his daughter’s eyes, and if he succeeded, then he would save the relationship that means so much to him and ease the guilt that weighs him down as the story begins.

But here’s the catch—or, I should say, the challenge. I did not want Mickey and Hayley to have a single exchange of dialogue in the book, let alone meet face-to-face. I thought this was necessary, at least in the first half of the book, to underscore how deep the rift was between this father and daughter and how difficult it would be to bridge the gap. I wanted Mickey’s efforts to reach out and to explain his actions to be unrequited. I wanted his phone calls to go unanswered, his texts unreturned. When the centerpiece trial got underway, I wanted Mickey to turn from the defense table to look for his daughter in the public gallery, only to see she was not there.

I hope you pay attention to this as you read my novel. I know there is one scene where Mickey watches his daughter from afar, and another off the page where Hayley visits without Mickey really knowing it—you’ll understand what that means if you read the book. You’ll then be able to decide if the challenge was successfully met, and if it was the right choice. Can the father-daughter relationship be the true center of the book if the two principles never talk to one another on the page? You be the judge.

— Michael Connelly

Guest Blogger: Stuart Nadler, author of "Wise Men"

Wise MenStuart Nadler is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship. Recently, he was the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic.

Wise Men began for me with just one image: a man walking after his father in downtown Washington, D.C. This was a few years ago now. I was living outside Boston then, in a house high on the series of hills north of the city. I’d just finished my first book, a collection of stories called The Book of Life, and I’d been looking for something new, some new idea or spark or situation. The beginning of any piece of fiction is always a series of questions. I had no concept of who these people were, only that the father, as he was then, had no desire to speak to his son, and that the son, knowing this would probably be the case, kept on following him regardless. What was it that had come between them? What sin or transgression? Why were they in Washington? Already, from the start, I knew that both of them were wealthy. Where had their money come from? At one point, before he leaves, the father dictates a letter to a bartender nearby, telling his son that he doesn’t want to see him anymore, and that if he ever encountered him like this again, not to follow him. I wrote this scene in one pass. Looking back on it now, it’s interesting to see what stayed and what went, and how these first sketches of my characters compare to who they ended up becoming. Hilly Wise, my eventual main character, has some of the same determined stubbornness that he ended up possessing. And although I’d eventually swap his father Arthur out of this scene, from the start I suspected that there was a difficult dynamic between them, evidence of a strained, shared history.

I don’t remember whether I thought I had a novel then, or whether it took a few more days to convince myself to keep plugging away with these characters. What I do know is that this particular scene remained as the first chapter to Wise Men for over six months, and in those six months, I answered those first questions, and found new ones to ask. Eventually, the whole of the story emerged this way, as a process of answering and asking. Discovering what had happened between Arthur and Hilly enabled me to find the plot of this book, and it led to me the ending, which I wrote early, following a long-held hunch of mine that it’s far easier to write a compelling story when you know where it’s headed. Finally, when nearly the whole manuscript was finished, I wrote what is now the first chapter of the book––the story of Arthur Wise’s money and his fame. It’s interesting now to think about it, but one of the last choices I made was to move that first scene I wrote from the beginning to its place a few dozen pages from the end. By then, I’d written a half dozen drafts, and another hundred or so pages of scenes that I cut or abandoned. But this scene––that first idea––this stayed.

--Stuart Nadler

10 Best Kindle Books of October, 2012

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Our editors' picks this month include mothers and sons, terrorists on the run, novels ranging from heartwarming to bone-chilling, and more great choices for every reader as the days get shorter and crisper.

Introducing our selections for the Best Books of October:

 

 The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

 

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher--The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan

The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden

The Finish--The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

 

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

 

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

 

The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story by Joan Wickersham

The News from Spain--Seven Variations on a Love Story by Joan Wickersham

Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town by Bryan Mealer

Muck City--Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town by Bryan Mealer

 

Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

  Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

 

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Holmes

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Holmes

October's Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less

For great books at a low price, browse this month's 100 Kindle books for $3.99 or less, a diverse offering available all month. These deals expire on October 31, 2012. Here's a selection of our favorites from October's great collection:

 

Literature & Fiction 

When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories by Molly Ringwald, $3.99

When It Happens to You--A Novel in Stories by Molly Ringwald

General Nonfiction 

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, $2.99

  All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Kids & Teens 

The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick, $1.99

  The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

Mysteries & Thrillers

77 Days in September by Ray Gorham, $1.99

  77 Days in September by Ray Gorham

Romance

Wild Montana Sky (The Montana Sky Series) by Debra Holland, $1.99

  Wild Montana Sky (The Montana Sky Series) by Debra Holland

Science Fiction & Fantasy 

American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (Enhanced Edition) by Neil Gaiman, $3.99

American Gods--The Tenth Anniversary Edition (Enhanced Edition) by Neil Gaiman

Biography & Memoir 

The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio J. Mendez, $0.99

The Master of Disguise--My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio J. Mendez

Top 10 Kindle Books of September

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Our editors' picks this month include the real Count of Monte Cristo, new fiction by Junot Diaz and Zadie Smith, a riveting take on data-based forecasting (truly!), and more great choices for every reader as we balance on the cusp of fall.

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't by Nate Silver

Signal

 

 


 

 

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Mortality

 

 


 

 

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

This is

 

 


 

 

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

Black Count

 

 


 

 

Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

Sutton

 

 


 

 

Every Day by David Levithan

Every day

 

 


 

 

500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars by Kurt Eichenwald

500

 

 


 

 

My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays by Davy Rothbart

My heart

 

 


 

 

NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith

NW

 

 

 

 

 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

100 year old man

 

 


One Big Deal for a Limited Time

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The Big Deal is back. More than 500 Kindle books are now available for as low as $0.99, including literature, nonfiction, thrillers, romance, cookbooks, books for kids and teens, and more. Shop for yourself, or give Kindle books--delivered when you want--to anyone with an e-mail address. (No Kindle required. Books can be read on Kindle or one of our free reading apps.) But hurry--these deals expire on August 23.

The Big Deal's diverse range of categories includes:

Literature & Fiction as Low as $0.99

Literature and Fiction as Low as $0.99

 

 

 

  

 

Romance as Low as $0.99

The Big Deal--Romance as Low as $0.99

 

Nonfiction Books as Low as $0.99

Nonfiction Books as Low as $0.99

 

 

 

 

 

Biographies & Memoirs as Low as $0.99

 Biographies and Memoirs as Low as $0.99

 

 

 

 

 

Teen Books for $2.99 or Less

The Big Deal--Teen Books for $2.99 or Less

 

 

 

 

Children's Books, $2.99 or Less

The Big Deal Children's Books, $2.99 or Less

 

 

 

 

 

Health, Mind & Body Books: $3.99 or Less

Health, Mind & Body Books $3.99 or Less


Top 10 Kindle Books for August

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This month's editors' picks include cheerleaders, double agents, and a trio of marvelous debuts, as well as more new choices for every reader in the dog days of summer.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between OceansWhen a childless couple in an isolated Australian lighthouse discovers an infant on the beach, the choices they make have a profound impact on their lives, hearts, and souls.

 

 

 

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

The Dog StarsHig survived the flu that killed most everyone else. Now this solitary pilot must follow his instincts to survive in a world where nature--not human connection--is the only real solace.

 

 

 

Double Cross by Ben Macintyre

Double CrossThe story of D-Day has been told from the point of view of soldiers, tacticians, and generals. Now a master of nonfiction offers a new take on this epic event: How did a band of oddball spies pull off the greatest double cross in history?

 

 

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Dare MeAward-winning novelist Megan Abbott explores the dark side of the all-American girl in this taut, suspenseful tale of a head cheerleader knocked unceremoniously off her throne.

 

 

 

When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

When It Happens to YouThis smart, moving series of eight interlinked stories captures the rupture of a marriage, the onset of an affair, and the eminently breakable bonds between loved ones.

 

 

 

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

Winter JournalAt nearly 64, one of our greatest modern writers is feeling his age. As he chronicles shifts in his body, mind, and passions, Auster paints a vivid, intensely personal portrait of what it means to experience the passage of time.

 

 

The Double Game by Dan Fesperman

The Double GameIn Dan Fesperman's sensational new thriller, a failed writer turned PR man finds himself on the trail of a fellow novelist who once hinted at a side career in Cold War espionage.

 

 

 

Dreamland by David K. Randall

DreamlandJournalist David K. Randall's unexpected foray into sleepwalking inspired this thoughtful, entertaining exploration of what happens to us when we slumber.

 

 

 

We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen

We SinnersTwo flawed parents, nine quirky kids, and one extreme sect of evangelical Lutheranism--what could possibly go wrong in this debut story of an exceptional family?

 

 

 

City of Women by David R. Gillham

City of WomenIn World War II-era Berlin, most men have joined the fight. One woman left behind faces desperate choices, finding new lovers and friends as she makes an attempt at salvation.

 

Top 10 Kindle Books for July

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This month's editors' picks include astronauts and cyclists and violinists (oh my!), as well as more new fiction and nonfiction for every summertime reader:

 Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia NetzerIn this singularly powerful love story that balances between two worlds, an astronaut on a perilous mission tries to save his fraying marriage to his soul mate.

 

 

 

The Long Walk by Brian Castner

The Long Walk by Brian CastnerBrian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East. When he came home, he fell apart. This is his unflinching account of the toll war exacts on those who fight.

 

 

 

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessPicking up where her sensational debut left off, the second volume in Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy transports you to a land of alchemy, time travel, and magical

 

 

 

The Absolutist by John Boyne

The Absolutist by John BoyneSet in the trenches of World War I, this wrenching tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal explores the deep connections--and rifts--that form during times of trial.

 

 

 

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters

The Last Policeman by Ben WintersWhy bother solving crimes during the countdown to the apocalypse? Detective Hank Palace may be the only one left who cares, but he refuses to let anybody get away with murder.

 

 

 

Office Girl by Joe Meno

Office Girl by Joe MenoOn the cusp of the 21st century, two frustrated artists find each other. Their chemistry warms a brutal winter, sparks creativity, and gives them hope--for a few minutes, anyway.

 

 

 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceHarold Fry, recently retired, decides one morning to walk across England. Along the way, he redefines his own strength, his failings, and what it means to truly remember.

 

 

 

Gold by Chris Cleave

Gold by Chris CleaveCyclists Kate and Zoe met at 19 in a national training program. Now 32, they're facing their biggest race. Each wants to win gold--and each has more than a medal to lose.

 

 

 

Broken Harbor by Tana French

Broken Harbor by Tana FrenchIn her mesmerizing fourth novel about the Dublin murder squad, best-selling author Tana French delivers her signature blend of police procedural and psychological thriller.

 

 

 

The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean

The Violinist's Thumb by Sam KeanSam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table in "The Disappearing Spoon." Now he turns his scientific storyteller's eye to DNA, the tiny building blocks that map our talents, our physicalities, and our future.

July's Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less

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It's the middle of summer, and July's selection of 100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less promises to help you make the most of the season. Here are some of our favorites:

 

Literature & Fiction 

Night of Knives by Ian C. EsslemontNight of Knives by Ian C. Esslemont, $2.99

The small island of Malaz is a sleepy backwater port, expect when the Shadow Moon appears. It's an occasion that brings forth demon hounds and other, darker things.

 

 

History and Biographies & Memoirs 

Born on the Fourth of July by Ron KovicBorn on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic, $2.99

Kovic's best-selling anti-war story features a new introduction that puts his powerful and moving Vietnam War experience in a contemporary context.

 

 

Mysteries & Thrillers 

Box Nine by Jack O'ConnellBox Nine by Jack O'Connell, $1.99

Gritty narcotics detective Leonore Thomas, with a few addictions of her own, wages war against a deadly new stimulant that induces giddiness, confidence, and sexual euphoria—with a side effect of murderous rage

 

Romance 

The Frog Prince by Elle LothlorienThe Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien, $1.99

Sex researcher Leigh discovers the handsome “someone” at her great aunt’s wake is Prince Roman Habsburg von Lorraine of Austria. What will she do with this European noble living in self-imposed exile in Denver, Colorado?

 

Kids & Teens 

Garbage Pail Kids by Art SpiegelmanGarbage Pail Kids by Art Spiegelman, $3.99

Garbage Pail Kids - a series of collectible stickers produced by Topps in the 1980s - combined spectacular artwork and over-the-top satire. This collection includes 206 rare and hard-to-find images.

 

General Nonfiction 

Lives of the Trees by Diana WellsLives of the Trees by Diana Wells, $1.99

Diana Wells has a remarkable ability to dig up curious and the captivating facts and stories about our deep-rooted relationship with trees, reminding us of just how innately bound we are to these protectors of our planet.

 

Self-Help 

We Are All Weird by Seth GodinWe Are All Weird by Seth Godin, $2.99

This book is a refreshing celebration of choice and recognizing that everyone deserves the dignity and respect that comes from being heard.

 

 

Cooking/Home & Travel 

Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas VolgerVeggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger, $2.24

Whether you already subsist on veggie burgers or just enjoy them occasionally, Volger's cookbook is the one you'll use over and over again.

 

Be sure to browse July's entire selection of 100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less to discover great fiction and nonfiction titles catering to all tastes.

 

Note: Deals expire on the last day of each month. Individual books may have additional territory restrictions, and not all deals are available in all territories.

Renowned Author and Editor Otto Penzler's Top Mysteries for July

Based in New York City, Otto Penzler knows a thing or two about good mysteries. In addition to being a mystery-fiction editor and author, Penzler is also the proprietor of New York's legendary The Mysterious Bookshop. Here are his top mystery picks for the summer:

 Undiscovered Gems

 Brides of Blood by Joseph KoenigEdgar Award nominee Joseph Koenig is best known for delivering intimate portraits of crime and its aftereffects. Brides of Blood was critically lauded for its portrayal of Islam in the early 1990s and the author’s careful attention to detail. Koenig spent two years researching before writing about a conspiracy behind a young woman’s seemingly random murder. An under-read literary thriller!

 

Black Samurai-Book One-by Marc OldenMarc Olden is perhaps best known for Black Samurai, the book that inspired the Blaxploitation film of the same title. His Narc series follows the cases assigned to special narcotics agent John Bolt, who tackles the world’s biggest and most violent drug cartels. This gritty series follows dark twists and shocking turns.

 

 

Historical Mysteries

 Bellringer-A St-Cyr and Kohler Mystery by J. Robert JanesJ. Robert Janes’s historical mystery series featuring detectives St-Cyr and Kohler, two sleuths from opposite sides of the Second World War, is now available for Kindle readers. The brand new Bellringer, the 13th novel in the series, is set in the beautiful resort town of Vittel, which has been turned into an internment camp for American and British women who failed to leave France before the Nazi Occupation: a great book for readers who love well-researched and detail-rich novels.

Mysteries to Make You Laugh Out Loud

The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald-A Stewart Hoag Mystery by David HandlerThe Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald is David Handler’s novel about celebrity ghostwriter and sometime detective Stewart Hoag. Digging into the culture of celebrity books, shady publishers, and unscrupulous agents, this Edgar Award–winning mystery will keep you cheering for the underdog. 

 

 

The Witch and the Borscht Pearl-A Mrs. Risk Mystery by Angela ZemanThe Witch and the Borscht Pearl, by Angela Zeman, tells the story of Mrs. Risk, who takes a young widow, Rachel Elias, under her wing and teaches her how to be a detective—skills that come in handy when the famous Borscht pearl necklace goes missing. A great novel filled with quirky characters and surprises!