Andrew E. Kaufman, shares an overview of his book, Twisted, in a 15 second video.
Andrew E. Kaufman, shares an overview of his book, Twisted, in a 15 second video.
Max Allan Collins, New York Times bestselling author of Supreme Justice, discusses his journey from reading classic detective fiction to becoming a bestselling author.
Christopher Rice, author of The Vines, reviews Suzanne Munshower's new mystery Younger.
Suzanne Munshower's novel YOUNGER doesn't just blend genres. It defies their restrictions, and in the process it delivers an unvarnished depiction of our culture's punishing treatment of women who've had the temerity to age past forty-five. Older heroines like Anna Wallingham, the veteran PR pro at the center of YOUNGER, are no strangers to popular fiction. Constantly in danger of being edged out by younger, prettier models in most areas of their lives, they're often depicted through a series of lonely nights spent wondering what might have been with former, lost loves if certain words hadn't been said in anger. But these characters usually come to us by way of saucy romantic comedies, where sarcastic humor acts a lubricant when the unpleasant truths about aging become too hard to swallow dry. Or they're featured in romance novels in which a happily-ever-after is guaranteed from the outset, and the book's packaging makes this comfortably clear. Or they're relegated to the category of "wise matron" in both of those genres, largely unconcerned with the day to day flow of their own settled lifestyles, working tirelessly to marry off their daughters or younger sisters while occasionally making sport of their obviously advancing years.YOUNGER is neither a romantic comedy nor a romance, although it's laced with effective strains of the later genre. Mystery and thriller are the words that come closest to describing it, but the heroine isn't rushing to stop a doomsday clock or rescue her kidnapped children. She's rushing to save herself, first from a youth-obsessed L.A. culture that pathologizes wisdom and turns life experience into a liability, then from a diabolical plot to avert the aging process itself.
When we first meet her, experienced fifty something publicist Anna Wallingham has just been fired. Worse, she's been fired for doing a good job. It doesn't matter that her latest client is more than happy with her work. For years Anna's industry has been beauty and now she's reached that age where the products sold by her former employer only seem to turn the clock back a year at most – except for one. With her career prospects in the toilet, and with scant emotional support from her social network made of other women suffering the myriad stresses of growing older in the city that sells idealized youth to the world, Anna decides to accept a shady offer from one of the executives of the company that just fired her – to become a test subject for a new and possibly revolutionary line of cosmetics with the power to return her looks to those of a woman decades younger. If this description has you braced for a sadistic techno-thriller, in which an angsting heroine is ceaselessly tortured with needles and scalpels and ultimately humiliated and broken across a series of examining tables, rest assured, YOUNGER is not that book. Rather, it unfolds with the kind of gradual, dread-inducing subtlety that marked classic paranoid Hollywood thrillers of the 1970's. Indeed, YOUNGER is at it's most creepily effective when Anna willingly assumes an identity that's been provided for her by a powerful series of shadowy multimillionaires whose motives are anything but clear, hastily cutting herself off from everything she knows in her rush to achieve what might be a miracle cure for laugh-lines, wrinkles and liver spots. But by not letting her novel spiral out into theatrics or action-driven spectacle, Suzanne Munshower creates a tight, tense canvas on which her characters can continue to probe, discuss and engage the topics that give the novel it's unsettling center. In short, YOUNGER is an intriguing buffet of unexpected literary combinations, a suspenseful but controlled exploration of aging, a topic with the potential to make some of us cringe worse than we would at the sight of blood.
A.L. Herbert shares a delicious recipe and discusses the inspiration for his book Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles.
I remember the first time I went to Sylvia’s Restaurant in New York and the collective “wow” that came from all of us at the table when a piping hot basket of cornbread arrived and in front of us. The delight continued as we were presented with cornmeal dusted fried catfish, smothered pork chops, and Southern fried chicken and grits. Luckily, as a Washington, D.C. local I can make regular visits to places like Eatonville and Georgia Brown’s who also serve delicious soul food, or as Georgia Brown’s calls it, “Low-Country Cuisine.” These restaurants, among others, inspired Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles. While writing the book I tapped into my experiences at soul food and comfort food eateries and combined them with my history of growing up in Southern Maryland (Prince George’s County and Charles County). There stuffed ham and crab cakes are serious business…and my grandmother made a habit of not only cooking bacon for breakfast, but using the leftover grease to fry whatever was on the menu for lunch and dinner.
I’m pleased to share my heroine, Halia Watkins’s corn bread recipe. Halia says as she reminisces about the first time she tried it, “It had a taste that danced on my tongue…a sweet yet salty flavor with a texture somewhere between bread and cake.”
You’ll find this recipe and others (including Halia’s Sweet Corn Casserole and Celia’s Banana Pudding Cake) throughout the book between Halia and her fast talking cousin, Wavonne’s comedy of errors as they try to solve the murder of Halia’s business partner.
Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author of The Stranger, shares how he became an author and why he continues to write.
Jennifer Jaynes, USA Today bestselling author of Ugly Your Thing, discusses why we're so captivated by today's anti-hero.
They send adrenaline coursing through our veins, tempt us to stay up way past our bedtime to consume just one more episode…one more chapter. We Google, Facebook, and live-tweet, ad nauseum, their latest escapades. We cheer them on as they charge ahead, doing whatever it takes to reach their goals.
Today they’re more popular than ever, leading some to call this the era of the anti-hero.
What Exactly Is An Anti-Hero?
While a more traditional hero is mostly morally sound, possessing primarily good qualities or personality traits, the anti-hero has more bad then good. In other words, he is flawed. Sometimes to the extreme.
Not bound by strict moral codes, anti-heroes destroy stereotypes, blurring the lines of right and wrong, often acting in ways that we find shocking, even repelling, to reach their end.
Anti-heroes come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life. Anti-Heroes are everywhere from screen to books, some favorites include:
Walter White. The “everyman” schoolteacher of AMC’s Breaking Bad. Walter is a dying man who wants desperately to ensure his family is provided for once he’s dead. To accomplish this, he cooks methamphetamine for public consumption.
Dexter Morgan. The lead character of Showtime’s Dexter series. Dexter is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department who moonlights as a serial killer, slaying other murderers to help rid the world of evil.
Nancy Botwin. The lead character of HBO’s Weeds. Nancy is a recently widowed mother who sells marijuana to support her children.
Batman. The beloved DC Comics superhero and alter ego of Bruce Wayne. Batman often stoops to ruthless acts of violence in the name of fighting corruption in Gotham City.
Other great examples include Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly’s crime novels), Jack Reacher (Lee Child’s thrillers) and Jack Bauer (FOX Television series, 24).
While noble of purpose and intent, these characters take morally ambiguous actions born from the philosophical perspective that "the end justifies the means."
Why Are We So Drawn to Anti-Heroes?
So what’s so captivating about the good family man gone bad, the killer who justifies his murderous ways, the superhero who resorts to acts of unspeakable violence in the name of fighting corruption? After all, these characters are incredibly imperfect and make bad decisions, yet we want them to win.
The answer is simple: They’re relatable.
These very same imperfections and bad decisions make our anti-heroes feel real to us. The fact that they are not always strong and courageous, that they’re often physically weak, frightened, insecure, rebellious, and that they sometimes make terrible choices intrigues us. They are rife with human frailty, and we find that endearing.
We also identify with the anti-hero’s moral motivations. After all, like Batman’s Gotham, our world is filled with irredeemable corruption. Whether we live in downtown Los Angeles or rural Texas, we flip on the local evening news and tales of murder and mayhem instantly fill our screen—along with reports of unconscionable dealings involving our country’s major corporations, as well as our own political and religious leaders.
What’s more, much like Dexter Morgan, we see the killers, the thieves, and other bad guys continually slipping through the often ineffective nets of justice. And much like Walter White, many “nice guys” find themselves falling victim to circumstance, trapped in a system that seems to reward the bad and punish the good.
We love that our anti-heroes have the courage to say what we are afraid to say, to take action where we are frozen with fear. They are what we cannot be and they do what we won’t do.
They allow us to escape for a few hours, living and escaping vicariously through them. Then, when the episode or chapter ends, we happily switch off our television or Kindle, rise from the couch, and return to our safe, comfortable lives with our morality firmly intact.
We need not fear any physical, emotional, spiritual, or legal repercussions because we were simply consuming fiction, a very powerful, deliciously satisfying form of escapism—and we were just along for the thrill of the ride.
Simon Wood, best-selling author of The One That Got Away, discuses why he loves Audiobooks - and shares his favorites.
Duty. Honor. Country. The words are chiseled on the walls surrounding the hallowed grounds of the West Point Military Academy and engraved on the rings and the hearts of every one of its graduates, including author Brian Haig. In The Night Crew, Haig’s protagonist, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Drummond – son of a West Point graduate, former Special Forces, current JAG lawyer and recalcitrant smart-ass, encounters the most challenging moral and ethical dilemmas of his career – having to choose between those words, and what they stand for.
With the memories of a his last case, a court martial in Korea and the bullet that nearly killed him all too fresh, Drummond is pulled back into another “legal and emotional tar pit and public relations tinderbox.” He is assigned to defend one of the Al-Basari prison guards charged with the sexual degradation of Iraqi prisoners and the murder of one of the notorious prison’s highest ranking inmates. Drummond is, understandably, unwilling to take the assignment. For one, it means working again with Katherine Carlson, his nemesis since their days at Georgetown Law and co-counsel in the Korean court martial. But Carlson has already anticipated Drummond’s reluctance and unilaterally had him reassigned from his new position with the CIA to her defense team. Carlson and Drummond mix as well as gasoline and fire. In fact, they are so profoundly different - they might just be perfect together. It gets worse. Drummond’s client is either a dim-witted pigeon the Government is offering up to be a sacrificial lamb, or a depraved and skilled liar who might just be guilty of murder. Key witnesses in the chain of command are either conveniently disappearing or washing their hands and memories of Al-Basari, Katherine reveals long held feelings for Drummond and, just to add more kindling to the fire, someone is killing the lawyers assigned to defend the prison guard defendants and Drummond and Carlson are next on the hit list.
The Night Crew is, first and foremost a thriller. The turns are hair-raising and the twists are edge of the seat thrilling that kept me up late reading. The dynamics of Drummond’s and Carlson’s relationship is at times maddening and at times heart breaking. Drummond is ever cynical, irreverent, combative and dogged, and his quips are laugh out loud funny. The novel asks poignant and contemporary questions – how far should a country go to win a war? How many legal foundations upon which the American judicial system is built should be sacrificed to potentially save soldiers’ lives? When, if ever, should human dignity be ignored?
But beyond all that, as with every Brian Haig thriller, the plot is much deeper than the reader is led to believe, and much more personal for Sean Drummond. As he tries to do a job he didn’t ask for and doesn’t want, Drummond not only risks his life but his own moral and ethical code. Can he fulfill his duty as a lawyer to his client and his duty as a soldier to his country? Can he protect his personal honor and still hold dear to his love of his country? Should he hold onto Katherine because he loves her, or let her go for the same reason? It is this personal struggle that engrosses the reader, and draws us into West Point’s storied history as well as the black mark that was Al-Basari. I closed the book with as many questions as Haig skillfully left to haunt Sean Drummond, and hoping that I’m never forced to make the same difficult choices.
I want a sense of urgency in every scene I write: a frantic motorcycle chase, a fight against overwhelming odds, a friend in peril, a nation under the gun, or a ticking bomb on an aircraft. Over nearly thirty years hunting violent criminals, my partners and I felt that urgency countless times—to capture our fugitive before he hurt someone else.
Day Zero opens with the venerable Emiko Miyagi, Quinn’s teacher and friend, in Pakistan, surrounded by men who want to kill her as she searches for the man who can link the President of the United States to a terrorist cell. Jericho Quinn is in a remote Eskimo village in Alaska, healing from his last fight in Japan. He’s still a fugitive, framed for murder by the corrupt administration that will stop at nothing to rid itself of any political opposition. No one associated with Quinn is safe and he realizes the only way to protect his seven-year-old daughter is to get her out of the country on a massive Airbus A-380 bound for Russia. Planning to take care of two problems at once, the administration dispatches a group of Hui Chinese terrorists to detonate a bomb on board the aircraft—hoping to blow Quinn and six hundred others out of the sky, while pushing the United States into war. Following Quinn is his ex-wife, Ronnie Garcia, Deputy U.S. Marshal Gus Bowen, and of course, Gunny Jacques Thibodaux.
Day Zero takes readers from Pakistan, to a remote villages in Alaska (where I’ve spent many wonderful weeks with my Yup’ik friends), to Byzantine the hallways of Washington, D.C. (where I’ve spent many not so wonderful weeks), to secret prisons run by corrupt men, and from 37,000 feet to the frigid waters of the Bering Sea.
I’ve seen my share of evil men and violent conflict, and I hope these experiences inform my novels. A reader once told me she read my books through splayed fingers, afraid of what she might find on the next page. Frankly, that’s what I’m going for. If I’ve done my job correctly, each of Jericho’s adventures is a ticking clock or a countdown toward a final explosive ending…in Day Zero, I mean that literally.