Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ripper Street

Every show's cancellation hits the people who love it, and every show has a core group of people who love it lots. But the wider dismay over the BBC's cancellation of Victorian-era police drama Ripper Street, shown in the US on BBC America, seems to have an unusual edge to it.

I'm not a fan. By which I don't mean that I have a low opinion of it, simply that I don't follow the show. And if anything I ought to welcome its cancellation, because with Ripper Street and Copper out of the way, development execs are willing to look seriously at the Becker books again.

But it's worrying that once again the BBC has killed a series that it claims to be proud of, citing a fall in viewing figures as the reason. For an advertising-driven broadcaster viewing figures are crucial because their business is one of selling eyeballs to advertisers. The viewer is not the client, but the product. The programmes are bait, to draw a crowd and serve it up to the client's sales force. In the UK, regulation imposed a quality threshold on commercial television from the very beginning. With relaxed regulation you get Babestation.

The BBC isn't a commercial network. With its one-off yearly license fee funding, the BBC's model is more like that of a cable company - and it's the biggest bargain of its kind in the business, whatever the bottom half of the internet may say. Sky charges you more, produces less, and still shows you ads.

Subscription-funded companies like HBO or Showtime don't have to worry about the figures for any one programme. Their brand image is defined by the quality of some of their least-watched product. Hence The Sopranos, Deadwood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad - bar-raisers for an entire industry. AMC's Mad Men made its debut to less than a million viewers. The episode average never rose above three million, but it was deemed worthy of six seasons.

The BBC's there for all of us in the UK. Because of the compulsory license fee, we're all subscribers. Yet the BBC chooses to ape ITV's methods and compete for ratings in time slots, as if courting imaginary ad buyers. Which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't then use those ratings as the measure of a programme's worth, when simply moving the material around the schedule can have a drastic effect on its numbers.

(I speak here as someone who once saw his big-budget one-off BBC drama scheduled against live football on ITV, Manchester United v AC Milan. They knew what the outcome would be and didn't even bother making any trails for the show.)

I've heard it suggested that the real reason for Ripper Street's cancellation is that it's too 'blokeish' for some executives' tastes, and the numbers only provide a handy excuse. So presumably the blokes will now go off and watch The Paradise instead. Or maybe Mr Selfridge.

That's about a bloke, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This week on CrimeCityCentral's podcast---More Than a Scam

This week on CrimeCityCentral's podcast is Dave Zeltserman's twisty More Than a Scam. This story was received honorable mention in the 2002 Best American Mystery Stories, and might be the first crime story about those ubiquitous Nigerian email scams.

The story's introduction starts at the 12 minute mark.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some of our favorite noir films


Max Allan Collins: Kiss Me Deadly

Vicki Hendricks: Body Heat

Joel Goldman: LA Confidential

Bill Crider: The Maltese Falcon

Naomi Hirahara: The Crimson Kimono

Ed Gorman: Cape Fear

Paul Levine: The Killers

Libby Hellmann: Double Indemnity

Harry Shannon: Fargo

Dave Zeltserman: The Third Man

Other favorites from Top Suspense: Gun Crazy, Out of the Past, Touch of Evil, Angel Heart, Night of the Hunter and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Let's hear your favorites!



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Long Ride Back


Readers who stumble onto Ed Gorman's writing soon find their pulse quickening with excitement as they discover that he's one of the best mystery, horror and Western writers working today. Here's what a few critics are saying about Ed's exceptional Western collection, The Long Ride Back & Other Western Stories:

"This being my first exposure to Gorman, I loved every second of it. Expecting a typical Western, I was blown away by how he turns the genre on its ear like some of the Western writing of Elmore Leonard." Bruce Grossman, Bookgasm

"Simply one of the best western writers of our time." Rocky Mountain News

"Ed Gorman's western stories are anything but ordinary. They often take take place in lonely, tragic, mythical landscapes." Goodreads

"Donald E. Westlake (to whom Ghost Town is dedicated) pointed out similarities to the Westerns of Will Charles (crime author Charles Willeford writing under a pseudonym) Willeford and Gorman approached their material in the same way, namely that criminals are the same no matter what time period they're living in. That's Western noir. What Gorman is doing with the Western may not be new, but it's still a fresh approach that hasn't been done to death. He did not create the concept of Western noir, but he gave it a name, and he is certainly the best at it." Somebody Dies

THE LONG RIDE BACK AND OTHER WESTERN STORIES is the biggest collection of Ed Gorman's critically acclaimed, award-winning Western fiction ever published. This massive trade paperback brings together the complete contents of the three e-book Gorman collections published by the Western Fictioneers Library: DEAD MAN'S GUN, A DISGRACE TO THE BADGE, and ENEMIES. Nineteen short stories and novellas and two essays add up to more than 100,000 words from one of the finest writers of our time. This indispensable collection is available only from the Western Fictioneers Library.

Also available for the Kindle are these celebrated Gorman Western novels :

Death Ground
Wolf Moon 
Guild

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mind-bending short story MIND PRISON


From Shamus Award-winning author, Dave Zeltserman, comes this mind-bending mix of science fiction and noir. A renowned scientist, Dr. Graham Winston, is developing an ingenious and, some might say, horrifying technology that will revolutionize prison. He's close to a breakthrough, except that he finds himself distracted by his beautiful mistress... and thoughts of murder.

"MIND PRISON is a dandy tale of hubris and horror that both Philip K. Dick and O. Henry would heartily endorse." Lee Goldberg, author of THE HEIST and THE WALK

"MIND PRISON is a mix of science fiction and noir as diverting as it is surprising." Max Allan Collins, author of ROAD TO PERDITION

"A taut, dark, searing science fiction story filled with noir atmospherics--greed, sexual betrayal, murder--that evokes the best of Philip K. Dick's grim near future." Ed Gorman, author of CAGE OF NIGHT and FLASHPOINT

"MIND PRISON features a novel and Orwellian solution to the problem of overcrowding in American prisons." Publishers Weekly

MIND PRISON is available now for $0.99.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Frontlist Feature: State Vs. Lassiter by Paul Levine

Top Suspense member Paul Levine was one step ahead of Shakespeare when the bard suggested we should “First, Kill All The Lawyers.” An attorney himself, Paul wisely stopped practicing—except in his writing. In fact, that’s one of the titles in his as-funny-as-Carl Hiassen legal thrillers, the Solomon and Lord series.

Now, though, Paul has released a new entry in his other award-winning series featuring lawyer Jake Lassiter. In this thriller, life is great for Jake at the start. His law practice is booming...He’s crazy about the new woman in his life... His one-time delinquent nephew Kip is getting A’s in school...What can go wrong?

How about a charge of first degree murder?


When money goes missing from client trust accounts, Jake confronts his banker, Pamela Baylins, who also happens to be his lover. She accuses Jake of skimming client funds; he accuses her of dipping into the till. She threatens to report him to the Florida Bar and the State Attorney and within hours is killed.
 All the evidence points to Jake, who is charged with murder.

The premise, Paul says, was simple. “I wanted to put Jake Lassiter in his tightest spot yet.  And what could be more precarious than being charged with first degree murder?  For a lawyer who’s used to representing other people, sitting in the defendant’s chair is a new and frightening experience.”

And, according to readers, Paul has another winner. Following is praise for the book and the series.

PRAISE FOR “STATE vs. LASSITER”

Blend the wit of Carl Hiaasen with the dialogue of Elmore Leonard and throw in John Grishams courtroom skills, and you have ‘State vs. Lassiter.’” – Amazon.com

Lassiter stands tall like Jack Reacher, Travis McGee or Spenser.  Levine’s only problem he isn’t prolific enough.  I want more Lassiter!” –Amazon Vine Voice review

PRAISE FOR THE JAKE LASSITER SERIES

“Mystery writing at its very, very best.”–Larry King, USA TODAY

“Irreverent, genuinely clever, great fun.” – New York Times Book Review

“Twice as good as Turow and Grisham and four times the fun.” – Armchair Detective

“Jake Lassiter has a lot more charisma than Perry Mason ever did.” – Miami Herald

Btw, Paul has won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber prizes. He also wrote more than 20 episodes of the CBS military drama “JAG.”

Don’t miss State vs. Lassiter.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Horror Then and Now

The October issue of the Readers Advisory newsletter pairs classic horror novels with recommended modern read-alikes.

For Frankenstein:

"The novel Frankenstein was so scary that it frightened its own author. Though Dr. Frankenstein and his monstrous creation are pillars of popular culture, the original text is often overlooked. This is a shame: Shelley’s imaginative tale of terror Is a literary masterpiece, blending adrenaline and thrills with thought-provoking questions about what it means to be human.

In Shelley's classic novel, Dr. Frankenstein's creation is a monster, albeit a sympathetic one. In Zeltserman's campy retelling, the real monster is the doctor himself, aided by his co-conspirator, the Marquis de Sade. Frankenstein's patchwork science experiment is the hero, and his perspective on events will delight anyone familiar with the original material, provided they can handle the depraved scenes of horror."

 Click here to read the article for more classic horror novels and recommended read-alikes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Frontlist Feature: Blood Hina by Naomi Hirahara

Top Suspense member Naomi Hirahara won an Edgar for Best Paperback Original for Snakeskin Shamisen, the third novel in her “reluctant” detective Mas Arai series, but that honor is only one of many in her literary career, which you can read more about here. The fourth entry in her series, BLOOD HINA, has just been released as a trade paperback and ebook. 

Here’s the description: 
Mas Arai’s best friend Haruo is getting married, and he has grudgingly agreed to serve as best man. But when an ancient Japanese doll display of Haruo’s fiancée goes missing, the wedding is called off with fingers pointed at Haruo. To solve the mystery to save Haruo’s life, Mas must untangle a web of secrecy, heart-breaking memories, and murder.
Naomi wrote the book, she says, because she “wanted to explore a number of topics.  The most important one was love for the widowed and divorced in their twilight years.  What does love the second time around look like in the circle of my older, crotchety Japanese gardener?  In terms of setting, I wanted to take full advantage of a nonfiction book I had written on the history of the Southern California Flower Market in downtown Los Angeles.  What I discovered was a tight-knit, nocturnal community that sold flowers underground while the rest of the world was sleeping.  The contrast between the fragrant smell of the flowers versus the realities of industrial downtown L.A. is striking and rife with stories, especially crime-based ones.  Last of all, I wanted to explore how people struggle with their addictions – gambling, substance abuse, and so on.  This is such a reality for people of all walks of life, including those in Mas Arai’s world.”
Those goals have clearly resonated in BLOOD HINA, as praise continues to pour in from review magazines as well as authors who know the Asian community in the U.S.
“Edgar-winner Hirahara once again provides a sensitive insider’s view of the Japanese- American subculture in her fourth Mas Arai mystery.”—Publishers Weekly

“Written with heart and depth, and starring an Everyman for our time.” Kirkus Reviews

“Mas Arai is a true original and one of my favorite characters in crime fiction. I love spending time in his world and I’m thrilled that he’s back—and at the top of his grumpy game.” —S.J. Rozan, Edgar-winning author of The Shanghai Moon

"Naomi Hirahara has done it again! It's wonderful to see reluctant detective Mas Arai back in action." —Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Naomi is one of the West Coast's most respected authors, and hers is a series you don’t want to miss. You can find BLOOD HINA at Amazon, Nook, and Kobo.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

FRONTLIST FEATURES: Hungry 4: Rise of the Triad by Harry Shannon & Steven Booth

Best-selling Top Suspense member Harry Shannon is one of the most versatile member of our group. He writes horror (i.e. Zombie), sci-fi, dystopian, and mystery fiction. Plus, he’s a well-known musician (and his teen daughter Paige is already taking after her father). So when Harry has a new book out, it’s a reason to celebrate.

Harry’s newest is TheHungry 4: Rise of the Triad. It’s part of the Sheriff Penny Miller Series, but it’s also a new twist for Penny and Harry. Here’s the description:

Small town Sheriff Penny Miller and her outlaw friend Scratch somehow managed to survive a nuclear blast in Nevada and then a brutal attack on their peaceful lodge in Colorado. They head for Los Angeles, looking for a fresh start. The citizens of Southern California remain blissfully ignorant of the coming war. They believe the zombies are simply an urban legend.

When they find themselves in a suspiciously run Malibu rehab facility, Miller can't relax. She knows the gore is about to hit the fan. Miller can sense when zombies are near. And they’re almost always near.

When all hell breaks loose, Miller and Scratch must endure deadly experiments, resist an ongoing government conspiracy, and battle another horde of ravenous zombies.

And that’s just for starters.


The Hungry series began with a short story called Jailbreak, Harry says, which was created for a charity anthology about zombies. “I asked Steven W. Booth, who was just beginning to write, if he wanted to collaborate. The story went up free on Amazon and got downloaded tens of thousands of times, so we wrote a novel called The Hungry. Best selling zombie author Joe McKinney contributed the introduction. Those sales were also great and launched an entire series. Sheriff Penny Miller of Flat Rock, Nevada is one hell of a lot of fun to write. She has a sailor's mouth, but a heart of solid gold. Her novels feature lots of black humor, action and gore. Collaborating at this length is rather new to me, but I really enjoy it, so The Hungry 5 is already in the works, You don't have to read these in order, by the way, but it helps.”

Rise of the Triad is already getting fabulous reviews, including these from prominent reviewers and authors:

"Zombie thrillers loaded with sexiness and smarts." -Jonathan Maberry, NYT Best Selling Author of Extinction Machine

"Like getting a bag of Halloween candy after a six month fast." -Frank Errington, Horrible Book Reviews

"Not just wall to wall action, but balls to the wall intense." -Steve Hockensmith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

"I loved it from the first line." -Joe McKinney, author of Dead Cit



The Top Suspense Group is proud to count Harry Shannon as one of our members. You definitely need to check out The Hungry 4.

Monday, September 16, 2013

FRONTLIST FEATURES: What Doesn't Kill Her by Max Allan Collins



Of all the members of Top Suspense, Max Allan Collins has to be the most prolific. (Just take a look at this). He’s ALWAYS got a new book coming out— frankly, the rest of us envy his productivity, but that’s another story.  So it’s not surprising that Max has a new novel coming out September 17.

WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER tells the story of Jordan Rivera, who was an ordinary kid with an ordinary family – until a vicious killer took it all away from her, sparing her and leaving her broken. The murders destroyed something inside Jordan and she spent ten long, silent years in an institution. Catching a glimpse of a news report about another ordinary family slain, Jordan breaks her silence. Now she’s out, and she molds herself—body and mind—into an instrument of justice.  While a young detective pursues the case on his own, Jordan teams up with members of her Victims Support Group, people like her, damaged by violent crime. They have their own stories of pain, heartache, and vengeance denied. With their help, Jordan will track down the killer before he can ravage any more lives. Her own life depends on it.

When we asked Max why this story, here’s what he said: “For my first novel with Thomas & Mercer, I wanted to step away from the historical and private eye genres I’m best known for, and do a straight thriller. I also wanted to get away from the procedural nature of the CSI, CRIMINAL MINDS and BONES novels that Matt Clemens and I have done featuring super-star forensics teams, including our own J.C. Harrow novels. The notion fascinated me of real people, members of a Victims of Violent Crimes support group, teaming up to use their own various everyday skills to track down a killer. Also, I’d been toying with doing an American variation on the strong damaged female protagonist of GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and this seemed a perfect opportunity.”

Reviewers agree.

"What Doesn't Kill Her is a kick-ass thrill ride from page one. This is the American answer to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." – John Gilstrap, author of High Treason and Damage Control


 “Another winner from a fine writer.”  Not the Baseball Pitcher

"Collins weaves a compelling story with strong characters: Jordan, several members of her victims support group, and Mark Pryor, a high school crush recently made detective who pursues the case on his own time. Jordan is torn between her desire to destroy the killer on her own and identifying with the other victims, accepting their help. There are lots of interesting twists to keep the story moving briskly." Karen Musser Nortman"


You can find WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER at Amazon in ebook and print. Audio too. And while you’re at it, check out a couple of other works in the pipeline: EARLY CRIMES (Perfect Crime), which collects three early pieces by Max -- a short story, a novella, and a previously unpublished novel. And ASK NOT, a new Nate Heller thriller, the third in his JFK trilogy, will be out in October. It deals with the statistics-defying number of witness deaths that followed the assassination.

See? Prolific. And Amazing. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

FRONTLIST FEATURES: MONSTER by Dave Zeltserman



Dave Zeltserman’s Monster cleverly and chillingly reanimates a classic tale. Friedrich Hoffman, the so-called monster, recounts how he was falsely accused of killing his fiancée, tortured and killed for his crime, and awoke on the lab table of Victor Frankenstein a man with all manner of gruesome plans. We see inside Friedrich's mind as he embarks on a single-minded quest for vengeance; but at what cost to the remnants of his humanity? Intense and gothic, Monster depicts nineteenth-century Europe in a blaze of depravity, excess and supernatural terrors, in an ingenious tribute to one of literature's greatest works.


We asked Dave why he wrote the book:

Sometimes an idea will pop into your head that just won't leave you alone. That's what happened to me when I had the idea of writing a retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein where everything a dying Victor Frankenstein told Captain Walton aboard the icebound ship was a lie to protect his reputation, and the monster now gets to tell the real story. A year later this idea continued to nag at me, and after another year and reading about thirty books for research this idea had turned into a story that I wanted to write. In my version, Victor Frankenstein would be in league with the Marquis de Sade to bring hell to earth, and the monster would be remain a tragic, albeit heroic, figure. Thematically the book would be about the corrosive quality of vengeance, as well as a repudiation of de Sade's central theme of man being only a base animal. While I knew there were many readers who consider Shelley's great novel a sacred tome and would look at any retelling as blasphemy, at this point this was a novel that was burning too deeply inside and was one I had to write.


Although Monster was released earlier this year, it continues to garner places on Must-Read Horror Lists, including:

One of Booklist Magazine's best 10 horror novels of the past 12 months

Picked as one of the books of the year by NPR Boston (WBUR)

And reviews have been nothing less than raves:

"An impressive achievement: He manages the difficult trick of creating a voice that sounds authentically like Shelley's while remaining entirely lucid to the contemporary reader ... You don't get much more gothic bang for your buck --Los Angeles Times

"This reworking of Frankenstein is chilling and captivating!...A tale of justice, true love, and ultimate forgiveness, this gruesome novel is perfect for fans of Stephen King and similar horror stories." ForeWord Magazine, Pick of the Week

As stated above, the hardcover and ebook versions of Monster have already been released. The French version came out over the summer, and the paperback version will be out in early 2014.


If you’re a horror aficianado, Monster is for you!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Top Horror Novels


Booklist Magazine has announced their Top 10 Horror Novels of the past 12 Months:

Apocalypse Cow. By Michael Logan
Ash. By James Herber
Babayaga. By Toby Barlow
Hitchers. By Will McIntosh
Little Star. By John Ajvide Lindqvist
Monster: A Novel of Frankenstein. By Dave Zeltserman
NOS4A2. By Joe Hill
The Ocean at the End of the Lane. By Neil Gaiman
Red Moon. By Benjamin Percy
Zoo. By James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge


The American Library Association also recently came up with this list of best bets for Horror:

Joe Hill.Heart-shaped Box.
Michael Koryta.The Ridge.
Adam Nevill.Last Days.
Dave Zeltserman.The Caretaker of Lorne Field

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FRONTLIST FEATURES: THE HEIST by Lee Goldman and Janet Evanovich

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all summer, you’ve probably heard about Top Suspenser Lee Goldberg’s collaboration with superstar author Janet Evanovich. Together they created a new crime series featuring a female FBI agent and a male crook, and it’s been sitting on top of the charts ever since it came out June 18.

But, in the unlikely event you haven’t heard about it:.

FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare is known for her fierce dedication and discipline on the job, chasing down the world’s most wanted criminals and putting them behind bars. Her boss thinks she is tenacious and ambitious; her friends think she is tough, stubborn, and maybe even a bit obsessed. And while Kate has made quite a name for herself for the past five years the only name she’s cared about is Nicolas Fox—an international crook she wants in more ways than one.               Audacious, handsome, and dangerously charming, Nicolas Fox is a natural con man, notorious for running elaborate scams on very high-profile people. At first he did it for the money. Now he does it for the thrill. He knows that the FBI has been hot on his trail—particularly Kate O’Hare, who has been watching his every move. For Nick, there’s no greater rush than being pursued by a beautiful woman . . . even one who aims to lock him up. But just when it seems that Nicolas Fox has been captured for good, he pulls off his greatest con of all: He convinces the FBI to offer him a job, working side by side with Special Agent Kate O’Hare. Problem is, teaming up to stop a corrupt investment banker who’s hiding on a private island in Indonesia is going to test O’Hare’s patience and Fox’s skill. Not to mention the skills of their ragtag team made up of flamboyant actors, wanted wheelmen, and Kate’s dad. High-speed chases, pirates, and Toblerone bars are all in a day’s work . . . if O’Hare and Fox don’t kill each other first.

Lee and Janet teamed up because as Lee says, “we are old friends and we set out to write the kind of book we love to read... pure escapist adventure, exotic locales, punchy banter, and lots of sexual tension. We hope the fun we had writing it comes across on the page!”

It obviously has. Praise has poured in, including this:

The Heist is the perfect title to carry on a trip to the beach. The laugh out loud humor that readers expect from Evanovich is in full force, and Goldberg’s crafty and elaborate writing is prominent. . . . Everyone will be eager for the next book in the series.”—Associated Press

“The action is fast-paced and the writing is first-rate, making The Heist an excellent choice for vacation reading.”—Huntington News

'Non-stop laughs with plenty of high jinks' -- USA Today

 'A laugh-out-loud page-turner' -- Heat 'Pithy, witty and fast-paced' -- The Sunday Times

Btw, there are 285 5-star reviews on Amazon. Do yourself a favor and check it out! It’s available everywhere, and on Amazon, right here. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Flashpoint by Ed Gorman


"A cynical view of the electoral fourth mystery featuring political consultant Dev Conrad...Everyone has secrets, and Conrad has to unravel enough of them to find a killer and salvage a candidate." 
Publishers Weekly

“The Dev Conrad mysteries showcase Gorman’s gifts for creating realistic characters and plotting suspenseful stories.”
Booklist


From Gravetapping: FLASHPOINT by Ed Gorman


Flashpoint is the fourth novel to feature Dev Conrad. Conrad is a former Army Intelligence operative, and current political consultant. He has a cynical political view. The only thing he likes less than politicians are political consultants, but he loves the game. This time Dev is in Illinois where a client is accused of murder. Not so much by the police, at least not publicly, but definitely by the news media. Or, as Dev Conrad puts it—

“Sex. A senator. A murder. An international orgasm.”

The novel opens with Dev Conrad driving from his Chicago office to Senator Logan’s rural upstate cabin. The senator telephoned Dev with some unidentified trouble, and Conrad, in a state of confusion and dread, is on his way to help. The trouble is a beautiful women lying dead in a pool of her own blood on the porch of Senator Logan’s cabin. The senator has a history with the woman. She was seen at several of his campaign events in recent weeks, and the senator admits to everything but sleeping with her.

The election is a few weeks away, and the story captures the 24 hour cable news cycle, and one of the networks is aligning Senator Logan with the devil. Conrad quickly retains Ben Zuckerman, a top-notch Chicago criminal lawyer, but Logan is holding something back. Conrad doesn’t know what, or why, Logan isn’t forthcoming, but he is certain Logan didn’t kill the woman.

The cast of characters includes Senator Logan’s strong daughter, delicate wife, and manipulative brother. A less than ethical operative from the other side, a beautiful local attorney, a detective, and a somewhat disconcerting federal investigator. It is a dark story, almost cynical, without Mr. Gorman’s usual wary hope. It casts the political system in a stark, and corrupt light. Dev Conrad compares current elected pols with the openly corrupt senators of the late 1800s, which were referred to by the industry each represented rather than their respective home states.

The mystery is top-notch. The murderer isn’t revealed until the final pages, and I was genuinely surprised, but Flashpoint is more than a mystery. It is social commentary on the state of the current American political environment from popular sentiment to its elected officials. It takes a whack at the news media, specifically the cable news networks, and the hatred and misinformation disseminated by certain fringe elements, which have garnered mainstream credentials in recent years.

Flashpoint is a serious and stark novel; however it is told with a wry sense of humor. There are a handful of lines, which made me laugh aloud, and more than a few places where I smiled. Not to mention it isn’t every novel that can make mention of Thomas Eagleton, communists, George W. Bush, conspiracy, and The Manchurian Candidate without devolving into something less than it is. And what it is, is a very fine novel, but be warned Dev Conrad’s cynicism is catching.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Frontlist Features: HAVANA LOST by Libby Hellmann

Libby Hellmann used to get jealous when she was a little girl in the 1950s and her parents flew down to Havana to gamble. She begged them to take her along. They didn’t, and in 2012 she finally go to go with her own daughter. The result of her trip was HAVANA LOST, the third in her so-called Revolution Trilogy.

Here’s more about the book:

On the eve of the Cuban Revolution, headstrong 18-year-old Francesca Pacelli flees from her ruthless Mafia-boss father in Havana to the arms of her lover, a rebel fighting with Fidel Castro. Her father, desperate to send her to safety in the US, resorts to torture and blackmail as he searches the island for her.

So begins the first part of a spellbinding saga that spans three generations of the same family. Decades later the Pacelli family is lured back to Cuba by the promise of untold riches. But pursuing those riches brings danger as well as opportunity, and ultimately, Francesca must confront the lethal consequences of her choices. From the troubled streets of Havana to the mean streets of Chicago, HAVANA LOST reveals the true cost of chasing power instead of love.

HAVANA LOST is award-winning author Libby Fischer Hellmann’s tenth novel and third thriller that explores how strife and revolution affect the human spirit. HAVANA LOST is a testament to Hellmann’s gift for authentic historical detail as well as her talent for writing compulsively readable thrillers.

Here's what people are saying about it:

Hellmann is already an icon of the Chicago mystery scene. In HAVANA LOST she heads in a bold new direction and masterfully evokes a Cuba past and present in a heartrending tale..."
Sean Chercover, author of THE TRINITY GAME

“Hellmann offers readers a literary tour de force… a story lush with details of another place and time and lovers whose stars are tragically crossed. The writing in this thriller will take your breath away."
William Kent Krueger, author of ORDINARY GRACE and the Cork O’Connor series

"An engrossing tale of love, betrayal and revenge that spans three generations of remarkable women. Hellmann beautifully captures the scents sounds and feel of Cuba before and after the revolution."
—Zoë Sharp, author of the best-selling Charlie Fox crime thriller series

“Libby Hellmann is a master at crafting an engrossing read. HAVANA LOST is exceptional; the novel intrigues you from the get-go and keeps you turning pages 'til the last.”—Heather Graham, NY Times Best-selling author of the KREWE OF HUNTER series


“After Fidel took over and Cuba turned Communist,” Libby says, “the island was suddenly off limits to most Americans. “Because of that, Cuba seemed more mysterious and exotic. Then, of course, came the Bay of Pigs, then the Cuban Missile Crisis, which made Cuba even more impenetrable.” Libby also recalled one of the Godfather films where Al Pacino (Michael Corleone) and Lee Strasberg (Meyer Lansky) are on a Havana rooftop discussing how they’re going to own the island. Shortly after that, Michael sees a rebel willing to die in order to overthrow Batista. "That clinched it. All I needed was a strong fascinating female character to base the story around, and I found her in Mafia princess Frankie Pacelli. The rest, as they say, is history.”


The book, which has over 15 reviews on Goodreads, is out today, August 16. You can find it in print at all the usual suspects, in audio here, and in ebook at Amazon. For more information, including a "Glossi" digital magazine about Cuba, she invites you to her website.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Frontlist Features: COMPOUND MURDER by Bill Crider

Most of the Time at Top Suspense we tell you about our backlist, so those of you who don’t know us have a chance to get acquainted with us at your leisure. But we’re also releasing new novels every year, so today kicks off a look at our new suspense novels -- what publishers call our "frontlist" -- that our members have published over the past year. And it turns out that two of us will be releasing new books this week!


First up is Bill Crider, who’s often called the  master of the genre, and his 20th Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery comes out today, August 13. If you don’t know Dan Rhodes you should. Here's more about the book:


Before classes start one morning, the body of English instructor Earl Wellington is found outside the building of the community college. Wellington was clearly involved in a struggle with someone and has died as a result. Sheriff Dan Rhodes pursues and arrests Ike Terrell, a student who was fleeing the campus. Ike's father is Able Terrell, a survivalist who has withdrawn from society and lives in a gated compound.  He’s not happy that his son has chosen to attend the college, and he's even less happy with the arrest.

Rhodes discovers that Wellington and Ike had had a confrontation over a paper that Wellington insisted Ike plagiarized. Wellington also had had a confrontation with the dean and was generally disliked by the students. As the number of suspects increases, it’s up to Rhodes to solve the murder while also dealing with an amusing but frustrating staff, a professor who wants to be a cop, and all the other normal occurrences that can wreak havoc in a small town.

Here’s what Bill himself says about Sheriff Dan Rhodes and his exploits:

"Compound Murder is the 20th book in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series.  I wrote it because over the years I've come to enjoy visiting the sheriff and his friends.  Every book is another little piece of the chronicle of Blacklin County, Texas, that I've been working on since the mid-1980s.  It's fun to tell a story over a period of time and show how the town and the people have changed.  Or not changed.  Some people say they get tired of writing a series over time, and Conan Doyle famously tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes so he wouldn't have to write about him anymore.  I don't feel that way at all.  I still have some more stories to tell about Rhodes and the kind of crimes that might not shake the world but that can shake a small town right down to its foundations."

Compound Murder, which comes out today, August 13, has,a s usual, already garnered praise from many quarters, including the following:
"Rhodes, often embarrassingly compared to fictional sheriff Sage Barton, successfully emulates that action hero in the clever and satisfying resolution." Publishers Weekly.
"The latest in the [Sheriff Dan Rhodes] series, Compound Murder: A Dan Rhodes Mystery keeps this fine series rolling along well and is very much worth your time." Kevin Tipple, Blogger News Network
"Every time I see "a Dan Rhodes Mystery" on the cover, I know I'm in for a good time . . . Dan keeps the peace in and around Clearview, Texas with a supporting cast as outrageous as that in Sheriff Andy Taylor's Mayberry. Y'all have fun, now, ya hear?" Meritorious Mysteries.

Compound Murder is available at all the usual suspects in every conceivable format, but here are links to Amazon, our preferred vendor.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ed Gorman interviewed

Over on The Rap Sheet, J Kingston Pierce conducts an excellent long interview with Ed Gorman:
Gorman’s efforts have not gone unrecognized. As I mention in today’s Kirkus column, he has at various times received the Shamus Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Spur Award, and The Eye, the lifetime achievement award given out by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA). But his influence doesn’t stop there. Together with author Robert J. Randisi, in 1985 he created Mystery Scene magazine, for which he still pens a regular column, “Gormania.” From 2008 to 2009 he served as president of the PWA. And he’s been a frequently enthusiastic supporter (occasionally through his blog) of efforts by other wordsmiths looking to break into the fiction-writing game or win greater recognition for their talents.

“Ed Gorman’s talent as a writer is matched only by his generosity to other writers,” Randisi told me in a recent e-note. “Indeed, he’s a true Renaissance man because he has also been columnist, reviewer, and publisher in this business. But I’ve also been privileged over the years to have Ed as a friend, and perhaps that is where he has been the most invaluable.”
Click here to read the complete interview.

Monday, July 15, 2013

London Between the Wars: Of Crimes and Costermongers

Paul Levine interviews New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Winspear  on his Pulp Friction Podcast here.  Jackie sets her "Maisie Dobbs" crime fiction series in the 1920's and 30's in London.  If you don't know what a "costermonger" is, this is the place to find out!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Science Thriller

As someone whose stories have often turned on an element of science - imagined science in the early days, real science later on - I was recently in Dublin for a panel discussion hosted by Trinity College as part of the European Science TV and New Media Festival. It wasn't a debate, as such; everybody brought something different to the panel and we ranged from the coaching of actors to achieve authenticity, to the dangers of embracing bad science for popular appeal, to the wider use of media to communicate real and urgent science issues in accessible ways.

Along the way I referred to a document that I'd written for private circulation back in March 2009, when we were waiting to hear if CBS were going to pick up Eleventh Hour for a second season. Our figures were good but the omens weren't, as we'd only been given a partial order for extra episodes instead of the full 'back nine' to complete the first season.

This was a memo that I'd written at the request of the Bruckheimer people, spitballing a future direction for the show and reflecting on why our science thrillers could hold a unique place alongside the forensics and the procedurals elsewhere on the network. Having mentioned it in Dublin, I said that I'd put it online when I got home. So if you were there, here it is.

And even if you weren't, here it is anyway. It's a gathering of thoughts resulting from my experience on the ITV show, where I had little control and my commitment to scientific probity was considered unhelpful, and from the US episodes which represent some of the most satisfying work I've ever done.

The whole thing runs just over four pages and the PDF is here.

Here's an extract:
Villains and Guest Characters

At the beginning of my career I wrote a miniseries called Chimera, a variant on the Frankenstein story with a cold-hearted scientist as its villain. It made some waves, and through various debates and public events brought me into contact with a lot of real-world science professionals. I found that these scientists were, almost without exception, sharp, cultured, funny, and great late-night company. They were well-read, they listened to opera, they played musical instruments. Future Nobel prizewinner Paul Nurse was a motorbike nut (and was the guy who first encouraged me to dream up a real-science drama). Biologist Jack Cohen advised sf writers on alien-building. All were genuinely excited to be doing the work they did.

As much as these real scientists shaped my picture of Hood, they also shaped my attitude to science villains. The ruthless, 'playing God' stereotype, arguing that harm can be justified in the name of progress, is a cartoon. Science's villains are the same recognisably human people as those regular scientists. But they become villains through regular human flaws, not by Nazi logic. They sell out, or screw up. They can bend the truth to suit their paymasters or the policymakers, and call it 'being realistic'. They can be reckless, they can underestimate danger, they can lie to cover their mistakes, they can take desperate measures to cover their lies. But science's villains are characterised by their human failings, not by single-minded immoral intent.

And often they won't even be scientists, but people who co-opt science to their own purposes. CEOs, charlatans, toxic waste dumpers, politicians, lobbyists, thieves, counterfeiters, scammers, conspiracy theorists, drug lords, mobsters. People like the real-life international hustler and would-be breakthrough human cloner who provided the model for the bad guy in my very first story.
The memo was never intended for public circulation but I reckon enough time's probably passed by now.

You may find it a useful snapshot of a discussion in the show-making process. Just bear in mind that we didn't get the pickup!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On the air tomorrow

Dave Zeltserman will be talking with Pam Stack on Authors on the Air about his award-winning mysteries and his acclaimed crime and horror novels this Wednesday at 2 pm EST. Stop by if you have the chance!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Joel Goldman dispenses wise and witty writing and publishing tips on "Pulp Friction with Paul Levine."  Listen here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sizzling Summer Sale


Our Summer Sale starts today! Check out our featured crime and mystery ebooks on sale now for $1.99.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

STRAWBERRY YELLOW is today's Nook Daily Find


Strawberry Yellow, the latest Mas Arai mystery by Edgar Award-winning author, Naomi Hirahara, is today's Barnes & Nobles Nook Find! And it's on sale for only $1.99!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Pulp Friction with Paul Levine" to Interview Lee Goldberg Sunday Night

Two Top Suspensers will be on the air Sunday June 9 LIVE at 8 p.m. Eastern.  Lee Goldberg is the first guest on "Pulp Friction with Paul Levine."  Expect Lee to talk about his new soon-to-be-megahit "The Heist," written with Janet Evanovich.  Also, Lee will answer the longstanding question as to whether the "Most Interesting Man in the World" commercial is modeled after him.


Check out and join in the podcast.  Preview and Link here. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Let Top Suspense help you find your next kindle book to borrow free!

In our never ending battle at Top Suspense to help suspense, mystery, thriller and horror readers find the best ebooks, we've come up with a very cool new feature to help Amazon Prime customers find their next great kindle books to borrow free.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Con is On!

Here's the national TV advertisement for THE HEIST, the new novel by Top Suspense author Lee Goldberg and internationally bestselling author Janet Evanovich.