Blogs at Amazon

Mystery & Thrillers

Crime Fiction | From Britain with Love

Why do Americans have such an ongoing love affair with British crime friction?  We asked our editors what they thought,  and they all agreed that much of it rests in the country’s rich history—years of war, intrigue, politics, weapons, romance, and epic settings to escape into, British crime fiction offers something for every reader to enjoy. 

To find out more about historical British crime we recently traveled to London and sat down with a few authors.  They told us about their books (in 15 seconds) and described the historical settings of their books.  Check out the videos to learn more:

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive Excerpt: "What Lies Behind"

WhatLiesBehindNew York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison shares an excerpt from the latest book in the Dr. Samantha Owens series, What Lies Behind. Available now on Kindle and in paperback.

Download WHAT LIES BEHIND Excerpt

Sean Chercover: My Book in 15 Second

Sean Chercover, best-selling author of The Game Trilogy shares an overview of his books "The Trinity Game" and "The Devil's Game" in two 15 second videos. 
 

 

 

 

See Sean Chercover author of the Devil's Game on tour with John Rector author of Rutherless.

MILWAUKEE

Mystery One Bookstore

Monday, June 22, 2015 7 p.m.

2109 N. Prospect Ave, Milwaukee WI

 

CHICAGO

Open Book Store

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 6 p.m.

651 W. Lake, Chicago IL

My Book in 15 Seconds: Authors From Around the World

Can international authors Alice Quinn, Jutta Profijt and Martin Jensen get you hooked on their books in 15 seconds or less? Watch now to find out!

 

 

Learn more about the titles featured.

Guest Blog Post by Stephen Hunter, Author of "I, Ripper"

51-4VYaQP9L[1]New York Times bestselling author Stephen Hunter sets the stage for a different kind of killer in I, Ripper.

Despite all of the “American sniper” obsession which has been the core of my career, there's always been a strain of Anglophilia in my books, of which I, Ripper is the ultimate and final expression.

For more than 20 years, I've made a pretty good living chronicling the adventures of an American alpha family in the arroyos, back canyons, scrub hilltops, and dry gulch alleys of a place called gun country where it was always high noon, and whichever Swagger was in play found himself outnumbered and outgunned, but never out fought.

I have neither complaints nor regrets. But at the same time, there was another man inside, squirming to get out. I was never 100 percent gunman. A certain part of me, long suppressed in the years of the Swagger odyssey was of a different sort. Where the Swaggers were stoic, this man talked too much, in a tone of high irony, and found it all amusing. His mots were not only bon but stinging. His mind naturally offered riposte, repartee, quips and puns. He was as English as I am—and any Swagger has been—American.

I’ve finally given him center stage in I, Ripper, set in high empire times, 1888, London, and specifically its seedy fleshpot called Whitechapel. This phantasmagoria of lust, crime, want, deceit and odd nobility I fill with English voices, manners and madnesses—Jack's among them. I'm crazy about this stuff. I squeeze in a nice custard of Englishness to bring it to life, the smells, the sights, the hats (God, what hats!), and most particularly the beautiful clothes.

For me, it begins with the magical stuff called tweed. The Scots of the New Hebrides islands originally wove this stout wool as a way of keeping the dampness and the thorns out of their highlander’s duty day. But their invention shed its practicality to become pure design, and soon the fabric acquired amazing fusions of color and texture and offered complexity more intricate than anything the Enigma engine dreamed up. Fortunately it was a code that didn’t need to be solved, merely displayed. Thus a style was born. So part of my Brit thing was pure tweed love—the sports coats and suits in the rough texture of the fall, all lit from within by glints of ochre and umber and twilight with random slubs of sunlight in the murk of green or brown. Where Swagger favors denim and chambray, I myself am a tweed man, through and through.

And that tweed speaks a different language than the American hero’s, and thus demands a different actor. Our fellows proclaim their crudeness of expression and lust for action by adapting poses that seem like the coil of a panther about to spring. On the contrary, a certain kind of Brit, caped in tweed, cosseted in chilled irony, finds a languor that is pure feline for comfort.

He’s almost effeminate, with his legs crossed thigh to calf instead of ankle to knee, the delicate way he holds his English Oval pinched between fingers, the alabaster nobility of his porcelain temples, the vaguely amused look on his face as he sends out little viper-strikes of dry humor that devastate whatever bloated target lies dead ahead. God, what style. God what self-possession, what self-confidence, what self-belief! He fears nothing except the vulgar. 

But then, I suppose these English chaps of my imagination—cool as a Pimm’s cup—have never truly existed, any more than any Swagger. They're rhapsodies in tweed.

And that is why I had to write them.

If You Like This You Should Try This

Authors compare their newest books to other titles and television shows.  

 

 

Learn more about the titles featured.

 

John Rector: My Books in 15 Seconds

Gripping and intense, this novel is a twisted thrill ride from bestselling author John Rector. Learn more about Ruthless in a 15 second video.

 

Guest Blog Post by Charles Rosenberg, Author of "Paris Ransom"

51KAZUzFrYL[3]Author Charles Rosenberg has been a partner in several law firms including a large international firm and is currently a partner at a three-lawyer firm.  Rosenberg’s love of the law and a good thriller can be seen in his new international legal thriller, Paris Ransom. We asked Rosenberg to shed some legal insight on differences in international law, and what to keep in mind when making a trek oversees.       

A friend of mine was recently detained at Heathrow airport in England for carrying pepper spray. And, no, she wasn’t trying to board a plane with it. Instead, realizing that it was in her purse, she was in the process of disposing of it in a trash can specially marked for aerosols. Which is when she was nabbed by the airport police. It turns out that possessing pepper spray in England is illegal. In fact, it’s a felony.  Really?  Yes, really.

She was surprised (and I was surprised to hear about it) because pepper spray is lawful in most states in the U.S. and is often recommended for self-defense.

It all worked out in the end, though. After keeping her for over an hour  security officials let her go because she persuaded them that she really didn’t know that pepper spray was illegal in England (which she didn’t).  But don’t risk trying to take it into England, even if it’s packed away in your luggage. If it’s found, there’s a high chance you won’t be able to persuade anyone of your lack of knowledge ), and you’ll go directly to jail (without passing GO or collecting $200).

                My friend’s experience made me wonder: What other unknown laws could I easily get caught in overseas.

                Not surprisingly, it’s mostly about guns. Most of the guns you can buy in the U.S. are illegal in England. For example, if you can obtain a gun permit to own a pistol, it will only be for a so-called long-barreled sport pistol. How long? One that’s at least two feet long overall with a barrel that’s a minimum of a foot. Hard to conceal in your boot, eh?

                There are a lot of other weapons import restrictions, too, many having to do with knives—no switchblades, gravity knives, knives that lock when unfolded (pocket knives with non-locking blades of 3 inches or less are okay) or fixed knives of any kind. My favorite blade restriction, though, is the ban on the importation of any samurai sword over 14 inches long.

Perhaps more interesting, if you do get prosecuted for trying to bring a weapon into the country, you’ll be in for a lot of surprises (beside the fact that the lawyers and judges wear wigs and gowns). When you go to trial, the following things are likely to surprise you:

  • Since you’re a foreigner, with a built-in incentive to flee, you are unlikely to  get bail.
  • You won’t get to sit next to your lawyer (barrister) at counsel table during the trial. Instead, you’ll be sequestered in the “dock.” In modern English courts, that’s a small, locked, glassed-in room at the back or side of the courtroom. The glass panels have small gaps between them, so you can talk to your barrister or pass notes. Very inconvenient though.
  • There are no challenges to jurors except in special cases: the juror knows your mother, for example, or was a witness to the crime. Jury selection takes about 30 minutes—twelve jurors picked at random from a pool of 20.
  • As in the United States, you can decide not to testify in your own defense. But unlike in the U.S., where the judge and prosecutor can’t comment to the jury about your failure to testify, over there, they can. A prosecutor can say something like: “Mr. Smith decided to assert his right to silence and not testify, which he had every right to do. But had he testified, I would have liked to ask him this, this and this. The answers would have been very interesting, don’t you think?”
  • At the end of the trial, the judge not only instructs the jury on what the law is (as they do in the U.S.), but also sums up the facts for the jury (which judges certainly do not do here).
  • Unanimous verdicts aren’t needed. Ten to two will do to convict you. And sentences of 15 years are not unusual.

To avoid those kinds of procedural surprises, leave your favorite samurai sword at home.

Charles Rosenberg‘s new release,  Paris Ransom, is available now on Kindle and in paperback . He notes that samurai swords are apparently okay in France.

 

Guest Blog Post by Charles Veley, Author of "The Last Moriarty"

515+cUbfZhL[1]Charles Veley, author The Last Moriarty, shares how he re-imagined Doyle's Sherlock in his new book.

About two years ago I was mid-way through writing The Last Moriarty when I had some misgivings. Oh, it was great fun living my first hours every morning in the London of Sherlock Holmes, where it’s always 1895, more or less, the world is bright with promise of new discoveries, and the game’s always afoot. I loved my imaginary travels at Sherlock’s side with Watson, on high adventures that could save the Empire. And I knew the first rule of writing is to write what you love and never mind the consequences. Who cares if your book never gets published - the writing itself is its own reward!

But, dang. If I was going to finish a book, and show it to the public, I still wanted reassurance that someone (other than my wife – who’s highly literate but, thank goodness, hardly impartial) would actually want to read it. I knew Sherlock was already in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most portrayed movie character of all time. He’s also the hero of more than a hundred spin-offs from the original tales that people can buy today, right now, with one-click shopping. Writing fun aside, I thought, maybe I ought to spend my time with a project where the field wasn’t so crowded?

So I asked a good friend, a Hollywood screenwriter, to take a look at what I’d written. His response inspired me to keep going. He began it with, “I wondered what kind of original idea drove you to take this on.”

His words made me realize that I hadn’t just been living in 1895 London for the sheer fun of it. There really was something driving me – I had thought of a new idea and I somehow just had to explore the consequences. As in, “If that happened, what then? And then, and then, and then?” What I needed to do was to understand that I was being driven, and then tell my worrying other self to forget the crowded field and just get on with following the story where it led me.

Where did my new idea come from? It started from sheer curiosity. I had wondered about Sherlock’s past -- his pre-Watson days. I also wondered why he had such an affinity for the violin and if he had taken lessons. Having played a violin myself, and not very well, I thought the learning process probably hadn’t been easy for him. I also wondered why Watson repeatedly described Holmes as a cold, impersonal, calculating intellect. I wondered if Watson might be protesting too much. And I wondered what might have happened to Colonel James Moriarty, brother of the late Professor Moriarty, who Watson refers to in the opening paragraphs of The Empty House .

These musings all brought me to an imaginary event in Holmes’s university days, right before he decided to pursue a career of detection. In TLM that part of his past comes back, not just to haunt him but to change his life. Now Sherlock must do more than solve a difficult mystery and defeat some very, very bad guys. He now must also look inward.

My friend had some kind and encouraging things to say about this new idea, which spurred me to get to the finish line. Since then a number of readers of the completed book have had similarly kind words. Quite a few readers have even asked for more, which is the happiest outcome I could ever have imagined.

So I’m glad I kept on re-imagining Conan Doyle’s classic hero. As a bonus, these days in my first hours every morning, I’m with Holmes and Watson again. Lucy James, a character from TLM , has joined us. It’s now 1896, and we’re in Holmes’s London, or in Dover, near the famous white cliffs, or in Bad Homburg, the spa town in Germany made fashionable by Prince Edward, the playboy son of Queen Victoria and uncle of that imperious troublemaker, Kaiser Wilhelm.

Oh, yes, the game is most definitely still afoot.

Guest Post by Daniel Palmer, Author of "Trauma"

61RiEcrRcYL[1]Daniel Palmer, best-selling author of Trauma, shares his top five favorite suspense novels and why there so great.

 

Let’s face it—most of us (if not all) are dealing with some form of information overload. Our phones can execute millions of calculations a second. Smart televisions make picture-in-picture technology seem like a cute parlor trick. Even our watches can send updates from CNN along with our heart rate.

One downside to all this whiz-bang gadgetry is how technology and its many distractions have altered our working memory by zapping our attention. When we count on a computer to remember something for us, we tend not to remember it for ourselves.

Some experiences, however, do seem to avoid this techie mind trap. Some things get lodged so deep in the crevices of our gray matter we can’t forget them even if we tried.

When it comes to picking five suspense novels to share, I went for books whose stories I had no trouble recalling despite all the information I’ve crammed into my overwhelmed noggin. In no way is this quick list comprehensive of the best of the best. The omission of Stieg Larsson, Tess Gerritsen, Joe Finder, Lee Child, Karen Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, Harlan Coben, Patricia Highsmith, John Grisham, Katherine Neville, a bunch of others — heck even my own father, Michael Palmer — has to do only with the constraints of this assignment.

That said, here are five top-notch suspense novels whose stories have stuck with me through the years and whose level of craft is unquestionable.

Dean Koontz’s Watchers

Ask me to pen an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that must include a golden retriever named Einstein (who can play Scrabble), and I don’t think you’d be thrilled with the results. Thank goodness we have Dean Koontz! Good (capital G) and Evil (capital E) are on full display in this cautionary tale of genetic engineering gone wrong. Koontz can craft a sentence with the best of them, but the action jets, thanks to his crisp and economical prose. When I first read Watchers as a teen, The Outsider character thrilled (or scared) me no end. It was, however, the slow reveal of Einstein’s exceptional gifts and the bond between man and dog that made this remarkable book an endearing and suspenseful read.

Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs

The serial killer aspect of Harris's masterpiece is truly frightening, but it's the psychological warfare between Starling and Lecter that makes this novel a classic. The relationship surpasses the plot, or the plot is there to serve the relationship. Clarice is both pupil and teacher, and it's through her the book's core message comes clear. The monsters to fear most are the ones lurking in our minds. Like Clarice, we strive to solve problems, to prove ourselves, but all we truly want is for the lambs to stop screaming in our heads.

Ken Follett’s Eye of The Needle

The stakes here are inarguably high: the true-life deception of the Allies’ “Operation Fortitude” might decide the fate of the war. The hunt for the master German spy, Henry Faber (aka The Needle), who carries proof of the American plan, escapes pedestrian spy thriller territory thanks to its unlikely heroine. I can’t help but wonder if someone bet Follett he could not write a novel in which a lonely housewife wins the war. Lucy Rose was not only a compelling heroine; she was an utterly believable one. If Follett did make that bet, he won it handily.

Stephen King’s The Stand

Read the news today, and it’s easy to take a gloomy outlook. King felt a similar sense of doom when, in the mid-1970s, he penned his Lord of the Rings-like epic on an American landscape. We love archetypes, perhaps for the same reason we’re addicted to those dang Buzzfeed quizzes; in them, we hope to catch a glimpse of our better selves. When scrubbed of what defines us (our possessions, our jobs, etc.), what’s left is our character. King’s masterwork makes it easy to imagine that we too could be as bold, as brave, as amazing as the archetypical heroes who face the ultimate evil in humanity’s final stand.

Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October

When you start a book with a Russian sub being chased by the Russian fleet, you know you’re in for a thrill ride. Clancy is deft at conveying the claustrophobic feeling of life below sea level. What makes the book something truly special is how he blends an explanation of gadgetry with a plot as propulsive as any torpedo. It reads like non-fiction, which in some ways is the highest praise one can bestow on any fiction writer.

 

Charles Rosenberg, best-selling author of “Paris Ransom,” discusses law aboard and what to leave at home.