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Mystery & Thrillers

Behind the Scenes with Author Alan Russell

Alan Russell, best-selling author of Guardians of the Night, talks to us about why he features canine companions in his work - and how he ensures he gets the relationships right.

 

A Detective's Best Friend: Animals in Mysteries & Thrillers

FurryFriends._V332029823_[1]Our editors, authors, and friends have put together a list of their favorite books featuring furry companions.

Guy Ritchie’s film Snatch is a funny, fast, often upsetting yet endearing look at semi-organized crime in farcical modern London. One of the most memorable scenes comes when Sol and Vinny reveal that the stolen diamond, which Avi is after, has been eaten by the dog.  Moments before this discovery, we witnessed Bullet Tooth Tony, at Avi’s request, strangle and shoot 5 people to get at the diamond.  His reaction when asked to finally kill the dog and retrieve the stone is an abrupt face on his established ruthless character.

Avi: Look in the dog.
Bullet Tooth Tony: What do you mean "look in the dog?"
Avi: I mean open him up.
Bullet Tooth Tony: It's not as if it's a tin of baked beans! What do you mean "open him up"?

After all this bloodshed and violence, why does Bullet Tooth Tony hesitate when it comes to just killing the dog? The answer to this question is all at once complex and so simple: because people can be awful but dogs (and often cats) are always man’s best friend. 

Crime fiction has a long history of dog and cat relationships, from faithful companions to crime fighters themselves. The innocent (sometimes fluffy) nature of animals juxtaposed against the grit of crime fighting is a beloved theme for mystery and thriller writers

We asked our editors, some authors, and friends for their favorite M&T book featuring furry companions. Here are the top answers:

  • Suspect by Robert Crais -LAPD cop Scott James and his new partner, a German Shepard named Maggie, are struggling thru PTSD together while investigating the death of Scott’s previous partner Stephanie.  Typically animal mysteries are more on the cozy side but Crais’ hardboilid dog is an amazing addition to the genre.
  • The Cat Who… Mystery Series by Lilian Jackson Braun- No list of animal mysteries could possibly be complete without these.   Jim Qwilleran is a reporter who solves crimes with his two Siamese cats. At times silly but always entertaining, The Cat Who… series has been a life-long favorite of many responders.
  • Peril for Your Thoughts by Kari Lee Townsend- Kalli is an amateur sleuth with OCD and a very particular cat. Enter Nik, a loud, fun-loving detective with a big messy St. Bernard. They team up to solve a murder, and maybe –after much antagonism- the sparks will fly, but only if they and their fuzzy friends can also find a way to get along. 
  • Burning Man by Alan Russell- LAPD cop Michael Gideon and his police dog partner Sirius became reluctant celebrities after capturing a notorious serial killer in the midst of an inferno. When a teenager is found crucified in a city park, Gideon and Sirius are handed the bizarre case. Their special man-and-dog partnership makes them uniquely qualified to solve the most bizarre crimes in LA.
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- Not a dog, not a cat, but an animal crime none the less.  We won’t say much more except to say even this bizarre, deeply creepy murder can’t fool the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.

 

Behind The Scenes with Author Robert Dugoni

Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author of My Sister's Grave, talks to us about some real life killers that fooled everyone and how they horrify, fascinate and inspire him.

 

Guest Post by Liliana Hart Author of the J.J. Graves Mysteries

51qUSWKK5YL._UX250_[1]Liliana Hart, New York Times bestselling author of the J.J. Graves Mysteries, discusses the series and her writing process.

Down and Dirty is the fourth book in my J.J. Graves mystery series, set in the fictional town of Bloody Mary, Virginia. It’s both the easiest series I have to write and the hardest. That’s a contradictory statement, right? When J.J. Graves appeared in my head—an ER doctor turned mortician and coroner—she came with a whole lot of baggage. I didn’t always understand where she was coming from, but I found out very quickly that J.J. and I had more in common than just our looks.  

The core of J.J. Graves morphed into the darker side of my personality—the side only those closest to me get to see. J.J. is sarcastic and smart, she’s got real world problems—like debt and a family she’s not quite sure she fits in with—and she wants to find love and be loved in return. I wanted to make her relatable and give her issues—whether her own issues or those of the people closest to her—that don’t always make people comfortable, but have to be dealt with nonetheless.

So when I say it’s both the easiest and hardest series to write, it’s because putting her on the page comes as naturally as breathing, but tackling some of those issues isn’t always easy for me or her either one.

One of my favorite parts of writing this series is the research I get to do. I’ve observed an autopsy, gotten to embalm someone, done numerous ride-alongs with different police departments, shot various guns, listened to countless hours of cop stories, and I’ve met the real Jack Lawson in person (Jack is the Sheriff and J.J.’s love interest in the series). I’ve observed the personalities of cops and how they interact with each other and civilians, and I’ve taken what I’ve learned and written them as true to life as I possibly can.

I never know what the next story in this series will be, who the killer is, or what’s going to happen to throw a wrench into the life J.J. is trying to build. I like to be as surprised as my readers when I’m writing. But I do know it’s a joy to sit down at the keyboard every morning with J.J. and Jack. It’s also pure torture.

Books We Love with Reed Farrel Coleman and Daniel Judson

In case you need a few new recommendations, Kindle Most Wanted asked some of our favorite authors, Reed Farrel Coleman and Daniel Judson, to share the books they love.

 

In the Authors Mind | Every Hero Should Have...

Every author should have...find out how some of your favorite authors answered Kindle Most Wanted's latest fill in the blank question.

 

Guest Post by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Authors of "Wicked Ways"

WickedWaysLisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, New York Times bestselling authors of “Wicked Ways,” discuss the book and give us their top binge worthy series.

Nancy Bush:  Fans have been clamoring for Wicked Ways, the fourth book in the Colony Series which we write together. What do you think makes the series so popular?

Lisa Jackson:  The  Colony Series is just fun. There’s a lot of mystery, a bit of romance and a hint of paranormal running through all the stories. Each of the heroines in the books has a special gift, and a bit of some kind of ESP which is a blessing as well as a curse. These gifts help her find love, solve mysteries and get into a whole lot of trouble. Come on, who doesn’t love a story about a secretive cult?

NB:  In Wicked Ways, the action moves from the Oregon coast to Southern California. Do you think the series still retains its creep factor?

LJ:  Oh, yes. Even though the setting is different, the climate changes from the foggy forests of coastal Oregon, the mood is still creepy. There’s a mystery to be solved and explanations needed for the unexplained. Wicked Ways is definitely another thrill ride.

NB:  You’ve written a number of series: The New Orleans series with Bentz and Montoya, the Montana series with Pescoli and Alvarez, and the Savannah series with Gillette and Reed. There’s also the Colony series that we write together, and we’ve got a second Wyoming ranch story coming out after last year’s Sinister which you and I wrote with our friend, Rosalind Noonan. Sheesh. How do you keep them all straight?

LJ:  I have help, of course. Not only do you and another person read the books, but my editor knows them inside out as I’ve worked with him for a couple of decades. There are also my cheat sheets, actually character/place/event rosters that keep me on the straight and narrow. These rosters actually refer to book and page number so I can reread passages if I’m a little muddy. It’s complicated, but it’s fun!

NB: Do you prefer writing series books or stand-alone novels?

LJ:  I like is to mix it up a bit. I love the familiar characters and settings of my series. I, like my readers, want to know what’s next for my heroes and heroines. Right now, I’m working on Never Die Alone, the next in the Detectives Montoya/Bentz New Orleans series; it’s great to catch up with the guys. I like to pepper in a stand-alone novels now and again so I can meet new characters, create new back stories, and visit new places. It keeps the  creative juices flowing.  (Always a good thing for a writer!)

NB:  Wicked Ways was a lot of fun to put together. What do you think?  Will the series go to book five?

LJ:   That’s a good question.  We’re thinking of taking a break from the series, at least for a while. As you know, we’ve got a couple of ideas percolating that require a new setting and characters, but I never say never because I’ve learned the hard way it’s a bad idea.

 

Nancy Bush's favorite “binge-worthy” series/books are…

  1. Sue Grafton’s “alphabet series” is one my favorites. I love a good whodunit. I’ve read C Is For Corpse multiple times. 
  2. I’ve torn through all of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice books several times as well as watched the HBO series even though I neve thought I was a big  fan of fantasy. Turns out, he’s made me a believer.
  3. Of course I love my sister’s books, and I have a tendency to think my favorite series is the one which I’ve most recently read! With that in mind, I’m looking forward to the book she’s writing now, Never Die Alone, the next installment in the New Orleans series with Bentz and Montoya, due out next summer.  

 

Lisa Jackson's favorite “binge-worthy” series/books are…

  1. I’m a big fan of Michael Connelly so I’ve kept up with Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller of The Lincoln Lawyer fame.
  2. My editor introduced me to books by Linwood Barclay, and although they aren’t exactly a series, a lot of them are set in the same fictitious town of Promise Falls, where familiar characters pop-up into different books.
  3. I’ve also read a lot of Kathy Reichs and her Temperance Brennan series, I love forensic investigations.
  4. It goes without saying I read Nancy Bush. I love the “Nowhere” series! The fact some of the characters connect to our Wicked/Colony series doesn’t hurt a bit.

 

Guest Post by Iris Johansen, Author of "The Perfect Witness"

IrisJohansenIris Johansen, New York Times bestselling author of "The Perfect Witness," shares with us her top five favorite mystery and thriller reads.

KILLER by Jonathan Kellerman.  For psychological suspense, you can't go wrong with Kellerman's Alex Delaware, a brilliant psychologist who frequently consults with the Los Angeles Police Department.  In "Killer", a bitter child custody battle between two sisters escalates in a most lethal and surprising way.

DIRTY MARTINI by J.A. Konrath. Chicago police detective Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels will keep you laughing even as you navigate the twists and turns of her homicide  investigations.

"Dirty Martini" finds her on the trail of a psychopath who's poisoning the city's food supply.

BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE by Lee Child.  I'm a huge fan of Child's Jack Reacher series, which follows the adventures of a former military police officer who now lives off the grid, drifting from town to town.  He's tough as nails, but appealingly sympathetic.  In this book he squares off against a killer who is targeting members of his former elite military unit.

THE COVE by Catherine Coulter.  It seems like everyone now reads the Catherine Coulter's riveting FBI series, but this is where it all began.  Sally Brainerd is hiding from her father's killers in a small Oregon town, but when FBI agent James Quinlan arrived to try and bring her in, sparks fly and people start dropping dead.  Romantic Suspense at its best.

BEYOND BELIEF by Roy Johansen.  You didn't think I'd leave my son off this list, did you?  Roy was an Edgar Award-winning mystery writer long before we started writing the Kendra Michaels books together. BEYOND BELIEF introduces paranormal debunker Joe Bailey, a police detective (and former magician) who exposes phony spiritualists and fortune tellers. But he begins to question his skeptical beliefs when he investigates a murder caused by possibly-supernatural means.

 

 

 

 

Kindle Most Wanted Icons | Stephen King

Best-selling authors Aric Davis and Marcus Sakey, discuss why Stephen King is an iconic mystery, thriller and suspense writer in a Kindle Most Wanted interview with Reed Farrel Coleman.

 

 

 

International Crime Reads

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It’s that time of the year  when fall begins to transition from crisp to biting, and all I want to do is curl up with a warm drink and book. Inevitably the chill in the air and shortened days lead me to fantasies of anywhere but in Seattle, and stories other than my own.  To help us all prepare for the sudden urge to read thrilling tales set in far off lands, our editors have compiled a list of some of their recommendations for great international crime fiction.

 

UK:

Old Gold, Birmingham England:  Can’t get enough of the Netflix hit crime drama “Peaky Blinders”?  Old Gold puts you in the exact same world of British organized crime, only 100 years later.  For all of us who love gritty and suspenseful British PIs. 

The Fifth Knight, Medieval England: To escape a lifetime of poverty, mercenary Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to one final, lucrative job: help King Henry II’s knights seize the traitor Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Changing place and time is such satisfying escapism, and this book nails it!

Scandinavia:

The Adversary, Amsterdam: Former DOJ cybercrimes prosecutor Chris Bruen walks into a dark apartment in Amsterdam and discovers the hacker he has been hunting, Black Vector, is dead.  Framed for the murder and transporting terrifying computer virus, Bruen must stay ahead of the FBI and CIA in a race across Europe.

Faceless Killers, Sweden: It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander must discover the truth before the mysterious crime acts as the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

Various Islands:

Circle of Bones, the Caribbean: Sex, adventure, sun, archeology, shipwrecks, mystery, and intrigue?  If you really want to escape the monotony of the season, check out this breathless nautical thriller that spans decades to imagine a fascinating answer to the real-life mystery of the vanished French sub Surcouf.

Pago Pago Tango, American Samoa:  There is something claustrophobic  about crimes on remote small i islands.  No one is a stranger and secrets are widely known, but never discussed.  Detective Sergeant Apelu Soifua finds himself in a tangled trail between cultures, dead bodies, hidden codes, and a string of lies on his hunt for the ugly truth behind a series of crimes buried at the heart of paradise.

Europe:

Rain Girl, Germany: Veteran homicide detective Franza Oberwieser prefers her job in the winter. Summer is for growing, not for dying. So when the body of a beautiful young woman is found on the autobahn, dressed in a glittering party dress and bathed in June rain, Franza is determined to give her justice.

The Scribe, Medieval Spain: A fugitive in the wilderness, beautiful young Theresa is forced to rely on her bravery, her uncommon education, and the compassion of strangers. When she encounters Alcuin of York, a wise and influential monk with close ties to Charlemagne, she sets off on an adventure that will change her life – and history.

Central and South America:

Blood Makes Noise, Argentina:  Sixteen years after CIA agent Michael Suslov’s failed mission to transport the corpse of Eva Peron to a new hiding place in the wake of her husband's fall from power, the Argentine military needs his help to bring her remains back home.  Heart-pounding and thought provoking, this mix of history and fiction helped us cope with our Seattle Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Ready To Kill, Nicaragua: When a mysterious note referencing a top-secret US operation is tossed over the wall of the embassy in Nicaragua, Nathan comes out of retirement to face down his own demons of his past lurking in the jungle, and to square off with a ruthless killer who learned from the best: Nathan himself.

Because We Are, Haiti: Set in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake and following ten-year-old orphan Libète and Jak as they seek justice in an unjust world.  When a local woman and child are found dead and no one seems to care, they find themselves plunged into a dangerous, far-reaching plot that will change life irrevocably and threaten everything they holds dear.

Dove Season, Mexico Borderlands:  Drinking a lot and hanging around in the desert, what could possibly go wrong?  Apparently a lot of things, but just to get you started: dead bodies, bar fights, tussles with Mexican organized crime, and fart jokes.  If you are looking for the hilarious ride of your life to distract you from your turkey-induced food-coma, this one will keep you awake!