The Poisoned Pen is sending May out with a bang. Check out all of these events for the rest of the month. Then, check the Webstore for books by your favorite authors. https://store.poisonedpen.com/
Linwood Barclay & The Lie Maker
Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, and author Linwood Barclay talked about Canadian authors for a while as they kicked off the recent author event. Barclay appeared to talk about his latest book, The Lie Maker. You can order copies of The Lie Maker through the Webstore. https://bit.ly/3oi7aVA
Here’s the description of The Like Maker.
In this twisty, fast-paced thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Find You First and Take Your Breath Away, a man desperately tries to track down his father—who was taken into witness protection years ago—before his enemies can get to him.
Your dad’s not a good person. Your dad killed people, son.
These are some of the last words Jack Givins’ father spoke to him before he was whisked away by witness protection, leaving Jack and his mother to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives as best they could.
Years later, Jack is a grown man with problems of his own. He’s a talented but struggling author, barely scraping by on the royalties from his moderately successful first book. So when the U.S. Marshals approach him with a lucrative opportunity, he’s in no position to turn them down. They’re recruiting writers like Jack to create false histories for people in witness protection—people like Jack’s father.
The coincidence is astonishing to Jack at first, but he soon realizes this may be a chance to find his dad. Only there’s one problem—Jack’s father hasn’t made contact with his handlers recently, and they have no idea where he is. He could be in serious danger, and Jack may be the only one who can find him.
But how will he find a man he’s never truly known? A man who has done terrible things in his lifetime and made some deadly enemies in the process—enemies who wouldn’t think twice about using his own son against him.
Linwood Barclay is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty previous novels, and two thrillers for children. His books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. He wrote the screenplay adaptation for his novel Never Saw it Coming and his book The Accident has been made into a TV series in France. His novel No Time for Goodbye was a global bestseller. A native of Connecticut, he now lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha.
This is a fascinating discussion with Linwood Barclay. Enjoy!
Michelle Gagnon, Killing Me
While Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, welcomed viewers to the virtual event, it was author Naomi Hirahara who acted as guest host for Michelle Gagnon. Signed copies of Gagnon’s new thriller, Killing Me, are available through the Webstore. https://bit.ly/3BGxE68
Here’s the summary of Killing Me.
A LibraryReads Pick
Utterly original and wildly entertaining, Killing Me is a laugh-loud-loud thriller with a protagonist whose life is a total mess.
She escaped a serial killer. Then things got weird.
Amber Jamison can’t believe she’s about to become the latest victim of a serial killer. She’s savvy and street smart, so when she gets pushed into, of all things, a white windowless van, she is more angry than afraid. Things get even weirder when she’s miraculously saved by a mysterious woman . . . who promptly disappears. Who was she? And why is she hunting serial killers?
You’d think escaping one psychopath would be enough, but Amber’s problems are just beginning. Her close call has law enforcement circling a past she’s tried to outrun. She’s forced to flee across the country, ending up at a seedy motel in Las Vegas with a noir-obsessed manager and a sex worker as her unlikely companions . . . and danger right behind. She’s landed in the cross hairs of the world’s most prolific killer, caught up in a deadly game that’s been going on for years. To survive, she is forced to dust off her old playbook and partner with someone she can’t trust. The odds are against her, but sometimes you just have to roll the dice.
Michelle Gagnon writes thrillers for teens and adults. A former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, freelance journalist, personal trainer, and model, she’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She lives in Los Angeles with her family and way too many dogs.
Enjoy the conversation with Michelle Gagnon and Naomi Hirahara.
J.C. Cervantes’ Hot Book of the Week
J.C. Cervantes recently appeared at The Poisoned Pen to discuss her Hot Book of the Week, The Enchanted Hacienda. Guest host Alexandra Bracken interviewed Cervantes. You can order a signed copy of The Enchanted Hacienda through the Webstore. https://bit.ly/3oaPVFJ
Here’s the description of The Enchanted Hacienda.
From the New York Times bestselling author, J.C. Cervantes, THE ENCHANTED HACIENDA introduces us to the magical Estrada family.
“This is a contemporary coming-of-age story, with a sprinkling of magic, that’s one of my most anticipated reads of the year.” —Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author, in Elle Magazine
“The warmth and humor of The Enchanted Hacienda immediately cast a spell over me.”
—Katy Hays, New York Times bestselling author of The Cloisters
When Harlow Estrada is abruptly fired from her dream job and her boyfriend proves to be a jerk, her world turns upside down. She flees New York City to the one place she can always call home—the enchanted Hacienda Estrada.
The Estrada family farm in Mexico houses an abundance of charmed flowers cultivated by Harlow’s mother, sisters, aunt, and cousins. By harnessing the magic in these flowers, they can heal hearts, erase memories, interpret dreams—but not Harlow. So when her mother and aunt give her a special task involving the family’s magic, she panics. How can she rise to the occasion when she is magicless? But maybe it’s not magic she’s missing, but belief in herself. When she finally embraces her unique gifts and opens her heart to a handsome stranger, she discovers she’s far more powerful than she imagined.
With unforeseen twists, romance, and a heavy sprinkle of magic, The Enchanted Hacienda is a captivating coming-of-age debut exploring identity, unconditional family love, and uncovering the magic within us all.
J.C. Cervantes is a New York Times bestselling author of books for children and young adults. Her books have appeared on national lists, including the American Booksellers Association New Voices, Barnes and Noble’s Best Young Reader Books, as well as Amazon’s Best Books of the Month. She has earned multiple awards and recognitions, most recently the 2021 New Mexico Land of Enchantment Readers’ Choice Award.
Enjoy J.C. Cervantes conversation with Alex Bracken.
An Interview with Warren Easley
Formerly a research scientist and international business executive, award-winning author Warren C. Easley lives in Oregon where he writes fiction, tutors GED students, fly fishes, and skis. Easley is the author of the Cal Claxton Oregon Mysteries. He received a Kay Snow National Award for fiction in 2012 and was named the Northwest’s Up and Coming Author in 2017, both honors bestowed by Willamette Writers. His fifth book, Blood for Wine, was shortlisted for a Nero Award.
Recently, Michael Barson interviewed Easley for http://Bookreporter.com. They discussed Easley’s career, and his latest Cal Claxton novel, Fatal Flaw. You can order copies of Fatal Flaw through the Webstore. https://tinyurl.com/4ycke5hd
Thank you, Michael, for sharing the interview with readers here.
Interview: May 11, 2023
When greed runs rampant, murder can’t be far behind. That’s the intriguing tagline of Warren C. Easley’s ninth Cal Claxton mystery, FATAL FLAW, which finds the small-town lawyer up against two killers — a ruthless murderer and a deadly virus. In this interview conducted by Michael Barson, Senior Publicity Executive at Melville House, Easley talks about the difference between writing this book and the eight previous installments, the writers whose novels inspired him to try his own hand at a mystery series, and his plans for Cal in book 10.
Question: FATAL FLAW is your ninth Cal Claxton novel. When you wrote MATTERS OF DOUBT back in 2013, did you ever imagine you’d eventually have nine of them under your belt? What was your original goal?
Warren C. Easley: I always envisioned a series, but I didn’t dream I would have nine books a decade later! My original goal was to get MATTERS OF DOUBT published, period. I had two other manuscripts squirreled away, and Poisoned Pen Press wanted three books initially. When I re-read the other two, I realized they needed to be completely rewritten. I’d grown as a writer!
Q: The Oregon setting of the Cal Claxton mysteries is much less common than such widely utilized settings as Los Angeles, New York and Miami, to name just a few. Was there an Oregon series forerunner whose books helped inspire you to try writing your own?
WCE: It wasn’t an Oregon series, actually. It was James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux novels that inspired me! They’re fast-paced, character-driven mysteries, but what I was most drawn to was his wonderful evocation of the Gulf coast setting. I wanted to feature Oregon the same way in my books — the beauty of the place and the remarkable people who live here.
Q: Now looking back on MATTERS OF DOUBT, with the benefit of having written eight subsequent novels, what is the main lesson you learned that you wish you had known when writing that first book?
WCE: I’ve learned so many writing lessons in the course of this series, most of them painful! The one that stands out is to trust the process — to know that if I keep writing, the story will evolve. I don’t outline my books. Instead, I start with an initial concept and small cluster of characters, and then I allow the story to evolve organically. If I’m lucky, I can see a couple of chapters ahead, so the process can be stress-inducing. But it works for me!
Q: With the threat of COVID-19 fueling the plot of FATAL FLAW, you’ve expanded the parameters of the story beyond those Cal has dealt with in most of your previous novels. How did it feel to exercise your brain muscles from your previous career as a scientist?
WCE: It was fun injecting a little science into Cal’s life, and it was serendipitous, too. I was browsing the internet — not researching — when I ran across an article touting a spectroscopic technique for detecting coronaviruses very rapidly. Since I was a spectroscopist in a previous life, this caught my eye, and the timing was right because I was in the middle of deciding the course of book nine. I got to thinking about what a test like that could be worth as the pandemic closed in, and how the quest to own such an invention could lead to murder and mayhem. I was off to the races after that!
Q: Before you became a published author, who were the writers whose books inspired you to try your own hand at creating a mystery series?
WCE: As I mentioned above, James Lee Burke gave me a sense of what a character-driven series with a strong sense of place could be. But I was also strongly influenced by several other writers. Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series inspired me to make Cal Claxton an everyman, a character people can root for. Michael Connelly’s Bosch novels showed me how a complex plot can evolve with pace and clarity, and Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski was a character with grit and determination, qualities I wanted Cal to exhibit. Elmore Leonard showed the importance of authentic dialogue, and how to use that dialogue to keep the story moving.
Q: A lot of crime and mystery novelists over the years have created a second protagonist to alternate with their original one — Robert B. Parker, James Lee Burke, C. J. Box and John Sandford all come to mind. Have you ever pondered the idea of creating a new protagonist and juggling two series in alternate years?
WCE: So far, the concept for the next Cal book seems to come very quickly and demand to be told. And that was the case for book 10 (which is half-finished), in which Cal goes back to his roots in L.A. and discovers that when he left in the aftermath of his wife’s suicide, not all was as it seemed. I’m really excited about this book. But after I finish it, who knows?
Marc Cameron & Breakneck
Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, recently welcomed Marc Cameron back to the bookstore for a virtual event. Cameron’s latest Arliss Cutter novel, Breakneck, is available through the Webstore. https://tinyurl.com/rvr52n86
Here’s the description of Breakneck.
“Cameron’s novels hook you from the first line, cement your eyes to the page, and grip your heart in a vice. I can’t think of another writer whose work I admire more.” —William Kent Krueger
“Looking for authentic action, suspense, drama, and mystery? Look no further than U.S. Marshals Service veteran Marc Cameron whose thrillers capture the visceral nature of life in the trenches as only one who has lived it truly can.” —Jack Carr
A train ride through the austere beauty of Alaska’s icy wilderness becomes a harrowing fight for survival at the Gateway to the Arctic in the thrilling new Arliss Cutter adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of TOM CLANCY POWER AND EMPIRE.
Off the northeast coast of Russia, the captain and crew of a small crabbing vessel are brutally murdered by members of Bratva, the Russian mafia—their bodies stuffed into crab pots and thrown overboard. The killers scuttle the vessel off the coast of Alaska and slip ashore.
In Washington, DC, Supreme Court Justice Charlotte Morehouse prepares for a trip to Alaska, unaware that a killer is waiting to take his revenge—by livestreaming her death to the world.
In Anchorage, Alaska, Deputy US Marshals Arliss Cutter and Lola Teariki are assigned to security detail at a judicial conference in Fairbanks. Lola is tasked with guarding Justice Townsend’s teenaged daughter while Cutter provides counter-surveillance. It’s a simple, routine assignment—until the mother and daughter decide to explore the Alaskan wilderness on the famous Glacier Discovery train. Hiding onboard are the Chechen terrorists, who launch a surprise attack. While they seize control of the engine, Cutter manages to escape with Justice Townsend by jumping off the moving train—and into the unforgiving wilderness.
With no supplies and no connection to the outside world, Cutter and the judge must cross a treacherous terrain to stay alive. Two of the terrorists are close behind. The others are on the train with the judge’s daughter—and they plan to execute her on camera. With so many lives at stake, Cutter knows there are only two options left: catch the train and kill them all . . . or all will be killed.
“Cameron’s books are riveting page-turners.” —Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“One hell of a book. Sharply drawn characters, intense action scenes, and a captivating narrative result in a white-knuckle thrill ride.” —Simon Gervais, former RCMP counterterrorism officer and bestselling author of The Last Protector
“Great action in a colorful setting. This is fun!” —Kirkus STARRED Review
Marc Cameron is a former U.S. Marshal and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of the Arliss Cutter novels, the Jericho Quinn series, and the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan Sr. books, starting with Power and Empire. A Texas native who now lives in Alaska, his law enforcement career spanned over three decades, beginning as a uniformed police officer, mounted (horse patrol) officer, and detective before accepting a position with the United States Marshals Service. In that role he served as a Deputy, Fugitive Task Force Commander, Supervisory Deputy, Senior Inspector, and Chief. His assignments have taken him from rural Alaska to Manhattan, from Canada to Mexico and points in between. A second-degree black belt in jujitsu, he often teaches defensive tactics to other law enforcement agencies and civilian groups. Cameron presently lives in Alaska with his wife and his BMW motorcycle. Visit him online at MarcCameronBooks.com.
Enjoy Marc Cameron’s conversation with Barbara Peters.
An Interview with Dave Barry
Although Dave Barry already appeared at The Poisoned Pen, it’s always fun to read an interview with the funny storyteller. Before the interview, you can find signed copies of Swamp Story in the Webstore. https://bit.ly/3popQmN
Here’s Michael Barson’s interview with Dave Barry from http://Bookreporter.com.
Interview: May 11, 2023
Dave Barry is the author of more bestsellers than you can count on two hands, including LESSONS FROM LUCY, DAVE BARRY’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO GUYS, DAVE BARRY TURNS 40 and DAVE BARRY IS NOT MAKING THIS UP. SWAMP STORY, his latest Florida caper, is full of oddballs and more twists and turns than a snake slithering away from a gator. Michael Barson, Senior Publicity Executive at Melville House, was one of Barry’s publicists at G.P. Putnam’s Sons from 1996 to 2014, so he was thrilled to have an opportunity to catch up with him. In this interview, Barry explains why Florida has been the subject of so many comic novels over the past three decades, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of collaborating with other authors, and gives his two cents on the current state of the book industry.
Question: SWAMP STORY is — rather amazingly — your 16th novel. I well remember the excitement when your first one, BIG TROUBLE, was published in September 1999. What do you know now as a novelist that you’d like to share with that 1999 neophyte?
Dave Barry: BIG TROUBLE got made into a major motion picture pretty quickly (by Hollywood standards) after the book came out. If I could travel back from 2023 and talk to the 1999 me, I think the main thing I’d say is, “Don’t expect that movie thing to ever happen again.”
If I had additional time, I would remind the 1999 me that gum care is very important.
Q: What IS it about Florida that has lent itself to so many richly comic novels over the past 30 years? Not just your own work, but also the books by Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey and Tom Cooper. It’s a virtual cottage industry, the likes of which no other state can claim. Or as you put it, “Best. State. Ever.”
DB: Florida is an unending cavalcade of weirdness. There are many reasons — the heat, the humidity, the tourists, the constant influx of new residents, the drugs, the abundance of large scaly carnivorous wildlife. It’s just a sweltering stew. It’s great for novelists. As Carl Hiaasen says, you don’t need an imagination. You just need a subscription to the newspaper.
Q: With nearly 40 years of being a published author under your belt, you’ve experienced so many changes in the book industry. What has been the biggest improvement in it since the ’80s? And what change to the industry do you rue the most?
DB: I honestly can’t think of any major improvements. The process is still basically the same: You write a book; you hope somebody publishes it; you hope people buy it. I think most of the major changes have been negative — fewer publishers, and an emphasis on publishing blockbusters, so that newer authors have a tougher time getting through the door. And independent bookstores, which are the soul of the book world, have had a tough time battling the chains and, of course, Amazon.
Q: You’ve collaborated with several authors over the years, with Ridley Pearson leading the way with eight of your YA fantasy novels starring Peter Pan. Do you find it easier or more difficult to share the creative duties with another writer?
DB: It’s both easier and harder. It’s easier because you have somebody to talk ideas over with, and somebody to share the writing. It can be harder when you disagree over what to do next; you and your collaborator HAVE to be good friends, so you can work out differences without rancor. I’ve been really lucky in that the guys I’ve collaborated with — Ridley Pearson, Alan Zweibel and Adam Mansbach — are both talented and reasonable. Except for Mansbach.
Q: If SWAMP STORY is made into a film, the way BIG TROUBLE was, which character do you feel you’re best suited to portray? Be honest.
DB: Definitely Phil. Like me, he’s old, he comes from the newspaper world, and he’s a dad. He’s also deeply flawed, unlike me. I’m basically perfect.
Q: When is the updated edition of DAVE BARRY TURNS 40 due to appear?
DB: No sooner than 50 years after my death.
Q: Why isn’t Bobby Vinton’s 1964 hit “Clinging Vine” given a full chapter in DAVE BARRY’S BOOK OF BAD SONGS?
DB: It is! To hear it, you have to play Chapter Six backward. (There’s also a tribute to Yoko.)
Here’s the description of Swamp Story.
Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times bestselling author and actual Florida ManDave Barry returns with a Florida caper full of oddballs and more twists and turns than a snake slithering away from a gator.
Jesse Braddock is trapped in a tiny cabin deep in the Everglades with her infant daughter and her ex-boyfriend, a wannabe reality TV star who turned out to be a lot prettier on the outside than on the inside. Broke and desperate for a way out, Jesse stumbles across a long-lost treasure, which could solve all her problems—if she can figure out how to keep it. The problem is, some very bad men are also looking for the treasure, and they know Jesse has it.
Meanwhile, Ken Bortle of Bortle Brothers Bait and Beer has hatched a scheme to lure tourists to his failing store by making viral videos of the “Everglades Melon Monster.” The Monster is in fact an unemployed alcoholic newspaperman named Phil wearing a Dora the Explorer costume head. Incredibly, this plan actually works, inspiring a horde of TikTokers to swarm into the swamp in search of the monster at the same time villains are on the hunt for Jesse’s treasure. Amid this mayhem, a presidential hopeful arrives in the Everglades to start his campaign. Needless to say, it does not go as planned. In fact, nothing in this story goes as planned. This is, after all, Florida.
Dave Barry is the author of more bestsellers than you can count on two hands, including Lessons from Lucy, Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys, Dave Barry Turns Forty, and Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up. A wildly popular syndicated columnist best known for his booger jokes, Barry won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He lives in Miami.
Midmonth BookNotes – May 2023
In the Midmonth BookNotes you’ll read about the latest in romance, women’s fiction and more, handpicked by John Charles of our staff!
Joe Ide discusses Fixit
Barbara Peters and Patrick Millikin from The Poisoned Pen recently welcomed Joe Ide to the bookstore. Joe Ide’s sixth IQ novel is Fixit. There are signed copies of Fixit available through the Webstore. https://bit.ly/3O01mdO
Here’s the summary of Fixit, although, if you watch the video, Ide provides the background for the story.
In the latest installment in Joe Ide’s “superb” series (Washington Post), the relentless, hard-bitten PI, Isaiah Quintabe, is faced with a nightmarish scenario when the love of his life is kidnapped by a maniacal hitman who bears a grudge against him.
Danger has always followed IQ, a reality he’s keenly aware of as he’s laid up in a hospital bed, recovering from injuries sustained in his last case. Isaiah cannot help himself from being the hero, and any misery he’s suffered as a result—wounds from a knife fight, gnawing paranoia—he’s suffered alone. Yet as IQ recovers, five hundred miles from East Long Beach, he’s unaware that Grace has been abducted by his sworn enemy, the professional hitman Skip Hanson. Skip is savage and psychotic, determined to punish Isaiah for sending him to prison and destroying his life. Now, Isaiah and his sometimes partner, ex-hustler Juanell Dodson, must track scant clues through L.A.’s perilous landscape as Grace’s predicament grows more uncertain.
A complication arises in the form of Winnie Hando, a homicide detective with something to prove. Stubborn and effective, Winnie sees Isaiah’s efforts as an obstruction to the investigation and a possible embarrassment: an unlicensed PI can’t be seen doing the department’s job better than the department. Winnie tries to stop Isaiah while pursuing the case herself, their struggles clashing and slowing their progress. As the desperate hunt winds on, Isaiah fears that even if he can bring Grace home alive, things between them will never be the same. This latest series installment is an explosive collision of drug dealers, thieves, maniacs, shotguns, vicious dogs, stampeding horses, and Ide’s signature energy, grit, and profundity.
Joe Ide grew up in South Central Los Angeles and currently lives in Santa Monica, California. His IQ series has won the Anthony, Shamus and Macavity Awards, and been nominated for the Edgar, Barry, CWA New Blood Dagger and Strand Book Critics Awards. The IQ books are currently in development as an original TV series.
Enjoy the conversation with Joe Ide at The Poisoned Pen.
Ashley Weaver, Playing It Safe
Ashley Weaver really isn’t “playing it safe”. That’s the title of her third Electra McDonnell mystery. Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, welcomed Ashley for a virtual event. You can order copies of Playing It Safe through the Webstore. https://bit.ly/3BjIAX9
Here’s the description of Playing It Safe.
The third in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, Playing It Safe is a delightful World War II mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and wit.
“Ellie is a smart and gutsy new heroine.” —Ann Lee Huber
As the Blitz continues to ravage London, Ellie McDonnell—formerly a safecracking thief, but currently determined to stay on the straight and narrow to help her country—is approached by British Intelligence officer Major Ramsey with a new assignment. She is to travel under an assumed identity to the port city of Sunderland and there await further instructions. In his usual infuriating way, the Major has left her task as vague and mysterious as possible.
Ellie, ever-ready to aid her country, heads north, her safecracking tools in tow. But before she can rendezvous with the major, she witnesses an unnatural death. A man falls dead in the street in front of her, with a note clutched in his hand. Ellie’s instincts tell her that the man’s death is connected in some way to her mission.
Soon, Ellie and the major are locked in a battle of wits and a race against time with an unknown and deadly adversary, and a case that leads them to a possible Nazi counterfeiting operation. With bombs dropping on the city and a would-be assassin shadowing their every move, it will take all of Ellie’s resourcefulness and Major Ramsey’s fortitude to unmask the spymaster and avert disastrous consequences—for England and for their own lives.
ASHLEY WEAVER is the Technical Services Coordinator at the Allen Parish Libraries in Oberlin, Louisiana. Weaver has worked in libraries since she was 14; she was a page and then a clerk before obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State University. She is the author of Murder at the Brightwell, Death Wears a Mask, and A Most Novel Revenge. Weaver lives in Oakdale, Louisiana.
Enjoy Ashley Weaver’s conversation with Barbara Peters.