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


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!