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Mystery & Thrillers

James Hankins: My Book in 15 Seconds

Caitlin can't quite remember the past--yet can't seem to forget it to save her life? Learn more about The Prettiest One by James Hankins.



Robert Dugoni: My Book in 15 Seconds

Can a cold case lead detective Crosswhite to an active killer? Learn more about Her Final Breath from best-selling author Robert Dugoni.



Big City Detectives | New Orleans

NewOrleans._V292951164_[1]For the month of September we have been crisscrossing the nation, visiting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle talking about the uniqueness of Crime Fiction from each of these places, and learning about the fictional detectives who work those streets.

New Orleans, a city famous for its night life and rich Creole culture.  

The vibrant music scene, delicious fusion food, and beautifully ornate French and Spanish architecture draw people to NOLA by the hundreds of thousands every year.  The Big Easy knows how to throw a party; Mardi Gras is probably one of the most famous festivities in the world.  There is a constant, vivid sense that everyone in New Orleans lives their life with easy energy.

Juxtaposed again this vibrant life is the constant reminder of death.  New Orleans is rightfully famed for  ornate graveyards, vampires, day of the dead celebrations, moody swamps, mysterious voodoo traditions, and gothic themes. 

We think it’s this fascination and comfort with all things dark and otherworldly, coming as it does from a  city so apt to embrace life, that tugs at the imaginations of so many writers and creates a spectacular backdrop for detective novels. 

Here are our editor’s favorite New Orleans-area detectives:

  • James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux: Former New Orleans cop Robicheaux is known for his laissez-faire attitude towards following the letter of the law while solving crime in New Iberia, Louisiana. Robicheaux continually crosses the line between seeking justice and battling his own demons, and we love him for it.
  • Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse: A human amongst vampires, Stackhouse lives a dual life as psychic waitress by day and paranormal crime PI by night.  She’s funny and brave, the stories are sexy and smart, and even the most stalwart of traditional detective readers will find something to love in these books.
  • Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt: Claire DeWitt believes she is the world’s greatest PI. Once a teen detective in Brooklyn, Claire has deep roots in New Orleans, where she was mentored by the brilliant detective Constance Darling. DeWitt solves crimes in post-Katrina NOLA, battling the city’s demons right along with her own. 
  • James Sallis’ Lew Griffin: The Big Easy’s patron saint of hopeless missing children cases, Griffin is a professor, poet, novelist, and PI who navigates the underbelly of the French Quarter and the mean streets of Central New Orleans in his ongoing hunt to find the missing and save the lost.    

Big City Detectives | Seattle

Seattle._V310998842._UX300_[1]For the month of September we have been crisscrossing the nation, visiting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle talking about the uniqueness of Crime Fiction from each of these places, and learning about the fictional detectives who work those streets.


Most Seattleites will agree that while Seattle is a wonderful world-class city in its own right, one of the best parts of  living here is the access to the magnificent outdoors.  Surrounded by mountains, rain forest, and water (and water and more water), the city is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream just a short drive from some of the most breathtaking mountain hikes in the world, surfing, kayaking, camping, skiing, and any number of other activities. 

From the lush greenery of the Cascade and Olympic mountains to the forests of evergreens, the Emerald City has earned its moniker. While many think of Seattle’s wonderful activities, let’s face it, most people immediately think of the weather – dark,  gray, and rainy – or its location – isolated, distant, and remote. The truth is that Seattle is all these things.  Maybe it’s this dark remoteness, or the thick forest and quiet moving rivers, or isolated sheds in the mountains that stir the imaginations of a few real monsters.  From Ted Bundy to Gary Ridgway, some of the most notorious serial killers in our nation's history committed their crimes in the Northwest. 

Some of the best fiction written about Seattle and surrounding areas features a darker perspective. Perhaps it’s the history of heinous crime, or maybe it’s just the sinister possibilities lurking in the remote outdoors backing right up to residents’ s yards.  Over the years Seattle crime fiction and detectives featured on the page and screen have become notorious in their own right.

Here are a few of our editors’ favorite Seattle area detectives:

  • Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Dale Cooper: Based in Seattle, FBI agent Cooper travels to the fictional Washington state town of Twin Peaks in the classic cult show of the same name.  Who killed Laura Palmer?  This question haunts his often bizarre dreams as a deranged serial killer hunts in the tiny town. 
  • G.M Ford’s Leo Waterman:  Some of the best detectives are the ones with that tough, grumpy shell just waiting to be cracked open to reveal the sweet heart-of-gold center.  Leo is just this kind of detective, at times brutal, but always smart and funny, and his cases run the gamut from dangerous thrills to thoughtful issues.  His first case even deals with environmental politics, and if that’s not “Seattle crime” what is?  
  • Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite: On the road to being married and settling down to a quiet life, Tracy’s life takes an abrupt left turn when her sister is brutally murdered.   In that moment her life changes forever. Tracy joins the Seattle PD and makes her life about the pursuit of justice.  As a homicide detective she does just that in a series of cold cases and current serial killers, never forgetting the victims and their anxious families
  • JA Jance’s JP Beaumont: Jonas Piedmont Beaumont is not your average detective – not with his unlimited bank account and red Porsche. Despite having enough money to spend the rest of his life on permanent vacation, Beau continues to work because putting away the bad guy and seeking justice for the good are what give his life meaning.
  • Veena Sud’s Det. Sarah Linden: It really doesn’t rain that hard in Seattle, but that aside the recent television series The Killing is a satisfying bite of life here, complete with layered clothing and house boats.  When Rosie Larsen is found on Linden’s last day on the job before moving to California, she can’t let go.   Driven to find the truth, her struggle to keep her son on track while managing her growing paranoia and possible madness set the stage for a crime solver who is both so human and impossible. 


Big City Detectives | Chicago

Chicago._V310632722._UX300_[1]For the month of September we have been crisscrossing the nation, visiting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle talking about the uniqueness of Crime Fiction from each of these places, and learning about the fictional detectives who work those streets.

Chicago, The Windy City.  

Named year after year in numerous travel publication lists of best cities to visit, it is easily one of the most spectacular places in the world.  There is something special about exploring the neighborhoods, having a meal in one of the numerous world-class and cozy local restaurants, catching a game, and studying the famed architecture, that feels so authentic and specific.  Chicago is like no place else in the world. 

Here in the office a quick game of word association revealed that most of our editors skipped over words usually synonymous with present-day Chicagoland, and moved straight to the 1920’s Gangster Era.  And can they be blamed? After all, when asked to “name one gangster” the most common reply is Chicago’s own Al Capone.  For better or worse, this time in American history is scorched into the generational knowledge of all American’s and teases or imagination even today. 

Perhaps it’s this history of well executed crime, or maybe it’s just our love of trench coats and hats (necessary for life in Chicagoland) but there is something enduring about detectives from Chi-town. Here are some of our editor’s favorites, from across eras in history:

  • Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy: Although not specifically  named as Chicago,  that “unnamed Midwest town” is Chicago enough for us.  One of the best and earliest examples of police procedurals, the endlessly satisfying Tracy stories made his gadgets, toughness, brains, and no nonsense attitude benchmarks for the genre.
  • Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski: It doesn’t get much more Chicago  than growing up under the shadow of the old steel mills on the South Side. Warshawsi’s father was a cop; her mother a refugee from Italy.  Restless, athletic, and full of energy, after a brief stint as a Public Defender she decided to be a PI and thus our love affair with this talented investigator began. 
  • Sean Chercover’s Ray Dudgeon:  A former journalist, Dudgeon is committed to the truth and hates corruption.  Like many before him, his honesty ultimately brings him into conflict with those who operate outside his moral code.  The man knows how to dig and ask questions, and isn’t that what we need the most in a good detective?
  • Max Allan Collin’s Nate Heller: The first book in Collins’ famed Heller series, True Detective, follows Heller in 1939 Chicago as he is forced to quit being a cop because of the constant corruption.   He takes on his first case working for….wait for it….Al Capone.  An ex-cop trying to do good while technically working for the mob? That’s the Chicago that keeps us turning the pages.    

Big City Detectives | Los Angeles

Police._V312132955_[1]For the month of September we will be crisscrossing the nation, visiting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle talking about the uniqueness of Crime Fiction from each of these places, and learning about the fictional detectives who work those streets.  

Los Angeles

The City of Angels and its environs has long been synonymous with the glamour and excitement of the film industry, and with it remarkable rags to riches tales.  The appeal isn’t just fame:  the weather, the beach, the money, and unique opportunities to leave the past behind at the edge of the Pacific Ocean attract people from all over the world longing for their chance at new lives. 

The ambitious and the dreamers flock to Southern California and mingle with locals to form a community truly like no other.  And perhaps it is this unique blend of transplants and natives, the mix of dirty streets and beautiful beaches, or the high percentage of captivatingly famous people that grabs us, but LA Crime Fiction has an appeal all its own. 

Here are our editor’s picks of captivating crime solvers from Southern California:

  • Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone: from A IS FOR ALIBI to the simply titled X, Grafton is winding down her PI series based in the fictional SoCal beach town of Santa Teresa. An ex-cop, Kinsey has tacked everything from petty crimes to serial killers. We love how tough, quick-witted, charming, and ambitious she is.  Start this series now, there are only 2 letters left!
  • Robert Ellis’ Detective Matt Jones: On his first night working Homicide in LA, Matt Jones is called to investigate a particularly violent murder case: a man has been gunned down in a parking lot off Hollywood Boulevard, as he investigates he uncovers deep-seated corruption and a cover up with far reaching consequences. 
  • Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch: LA cop, maverick, jazz lover: Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch has captivated readers from his first appearance in THE BLACK ECHO.  Patrolling the streets of the City of Angels, hunting down killers, and seeking justice for all victims, Bosch’s adventures shine a light on the dark corners of Hollywood and beyond. The twentieth Harry Bosch novel, THE CROSSING, will publish this fall.
  • James Ellroy’s Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Boxers turned Warrants Squad cops in post-World War II LA, “Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice” are caught up in one of the biggest manhunts of the century in Ellroy’s masterpiece THE BLACK DAHLIA, the first book in his classic LA Quartet. Obsessed with finding the murderer of the beautiful young woman known as the Black Dahlia, Bleichert and Blanchard’s search takes them to some very dark places.



Blake Crouch: My Book in 15 Seconds

In 1893, every man, woman, and child in a remote gold-mining town disappeared and not a single bone was ever found. Find out more about Abandon by best selling author Blake Crouch in a 15 second video.




Editor Picks: Favorite Legal Thrillers

LegalThrillers._V312765471_[1]There is something uniquely satisfying about stories of daunting foes being taken down by the little guy.  From David and Goliath to Erin Brockovich, these tales are everywhere across every kind of media and format. 

Our editors agree that these kinds of stories can be especially gripping when tied back to our own sense of freedom and justice.  The law being manipulated to thwart the proper balance of fairness, robbing the innocent of their freedom, allowing the real criminals to go free, or causing financial ruin -all in with the courts approval- strikes close to home in a way that is more daunting then other threats.  After all, what happens when the law, our very benchmark for right and wrong, is incorrect? 

Our editors compiled a list of their favorite legal thrillers, where justice is sought despite insurmountable odds.


  1. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow: Released in 1987, this book is considered by some to be the first true Legal Thriller.  It tells the story of Rusty Sabich, a married prosecuting attorney whose affair with a colleague comes back to haunt him after she is brutally raped and murdered. Sabich's professional and personal lives begin to mingle painfully when he becomes the accused.
  2. The Professor, by Robert Bailey: A devastating trucking accident in Henshaw, Alabama, leaves a young family dead. Rick Drake, a fledgling lawyer just out of law school, takes the case against the freight carrier and soon begins to uncover the truth behind the tragedy that is buried in a tangled web of arson, bribery, and greed.
  3. The Rainmaker, by John Grisham: Just out of law school and already in over his head, Rudy Baylor takes on an insurance claim for a family whose son’s treatable disease goes ignored.  Up against a heavyweight corporate defense team, the case that started small is exploding into a thunderous million-dollar war of nerves, skill and outright violence--a fight that could cost one young lawyer his life.
  4. Bum Rap, by Paul Levine: Successfully combining series heroes Jake Lassiter (State vs. Lassiter) and Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord (Solomon vs. Lord) in a single case that showcases the three attorneys’ very different styles and strengths. When Solomon is found with a body, and the weapon used to kill him, Lord and Lassiter must work together to find the true culprit.
  5. Con Law, by Mark Gimenez: John Bookman -professor, ladies’ man, and constitutional law expert- spends his summers seeking justice for underdogs and the wrongly accused all across the country.  This time he is called on to address the controversial issue of fracking and how the money, and power involved affects the people of small town Marfa, Texas.



Exclusive Audio Excerpt: "Banquo's Son" by T. K. Roxborogh

T. K. Roxborogh shares an exclusive audio excerpt from her newest book Banquo's Son.


T.R. Regan's Thank You

TR Ragan’s best-selling, and our editor’s favorite, Lizzy Gardner Series is coming to an end with Evil Never Dies, available now.  Over the course of the five books readers have seen Lizzy go from being held captive by a serial killer, to hard hitting Private Investigator, to justice-wielding Vigilante.  Now that the series is coming to a close TR has a special message for her many fans.


 Catch up on the series, or learn more here