Fiction Review

The Washington Post’s 10 Best Thrillers & Mysteries of 2017

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The Washington Post recently announced their “10 best thrillers and mysteries of 2017”. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these.


Check out the Web Store for copies of the books.

If you’re looking for gifts for yourself or a crime fiction fan, The Poisoned Pen still has signed copies of some of the books.

Stephen Coonts & Barrett Tillman @ The Poisoned Pen

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Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, recently hosted authors Stephen Coonts and Barrett Tillman. Signed copies of Coonts’ The Armageddon File and Tillman’s On Wave and Wing are available through the Web Store.

Stephen Coonts event 2
Left to right – Barbara Peters, Stephen Coonts, Barrett Tillman



Stephen Coonts event 1
Stephen Coonts signing
Stephen Coonts event - Barrett Tillman
Barrett Tillman signing

David Baldacci’s End Game – Hot Book of the Week

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David Baldacci’s latest novel, End Game, is the Hot Book of the Week at The Poisoned Pen. There are signed copies available through the Web Store.

End Game

Here’s the description of the new book.

#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci returns with his most breathtaking thriller yet…

Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They’re the ones the government calls in when the utmost secrecy is required to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man.

But now, Blue Man is missing.

Last seen in rural Colorado, Blue Man had taken a rare vacation to go fly fishing in his hometown when he disappeared off the grid. With no communications since, the team can’t help but fear the worst.

Sent to investigate, Robie and Reel arrive in the small town of Grand to discover that it has its own share of problems. A stagnant local economy and a woefully understaffed police force have made this small community a magnet for crime, drugs, and a growing number of militant fringe groups.

But lying in wait in Grand is an even more insidious and sweeping threat, one that may shake the very foundations of America. And when Robie and Reel find themselves up against an adversary with superior firepower and a home-court advantage, they’ll be lucky if they make it out alive, with or without Blue Man . . .


“Robie and Reel are complex characters, and anything they do is a pleasure to follow…Baldacci knows how to get readers to turn the pages.” —Associated Press

Shopping Sunday @ The Poisoned Pen

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What do authors do when they’re in town for an event at The Poisoned Pen, and they have free time? Well, authors Laurie King and Ellen Crosby went shopping at the Desert Botanical Gardens with bookstore owner Barbara Peters. Actually, they were at the Chocolate and Chili Festival there.

Laurie King, Ellen Crosby & Barbara Peters
Left to right – Laurie King, Ellen Crosby, Barbara Peters

Check out those bags that Laurie and Barbara are carrying.

This Sunday is Shopping Sunday – not just for books but for cookies and other delicious treats from ace local baker DavidHe will have samples to taste and bags to buy.
You noticed the bags Laurie King and Barbara were carrying – the contents were by David! Barbara is hooked on the Butter Peca/Tart Cherry biscotti but that’s just one of the exciting flavors and cookies he offers. There are gluten-free treats too.
It’s an extra treat for our 7 Author Holiday Party starting at 2:00 PM Sunday. And there will be other food for nibbles as well.

Lee Child – On Dialogue and Research

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Lee Child’s current Jack Reacher novel, The Midnight Line,  has been receiving very good reviews, including Janet Maslin’s “A Gentler Jack Reacher Emerges in Lee Child’s Latest Novel” in “Books of the Times” in The New York Times. There are signed copies of The Midnight Line available through the Web Store.

Midnight Line

Now, Lee Child addresses the topic of dialogue and research in his writing. You can watch the short clip on YouTube.

Lee Child Views


Martin Edwards’ Reflections

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Fans of Poisoned Pen Press and British Library Crime Classics will recognize Martin Edwards as an author and editor. He won an Edgar Award in 2016, as well as the Agatha, Macavity, and H.R.F. Keating Awards for The Golden Age of Murder. This year, he brought us The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. You can check the Web Store, and find many of his books.

But, Martin Edwards wasn’t always so successful. He recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of his blog, “Do You Write Under Your Own Name?”,

Edwards was kind enough to adapt his reflective anniversary post for us. Thank you, Martin.

Martin 2017 1

After ten years of blogging, it’s a good moment to reflect. Actually, the ten-year anniversary was a few weeks ago, but life has been too hectic to allow many moments of reflection. When I started my blog “Do You Write Under Your Own Name?”- the first post was on 13 October 2007 – my prime aim was to share my enthusiasm for crime writing. As part of this, I wanted to give  to anyone who was an interested an insight into the joys and frustrations of the professional life of a mid-list crime writer, someone who had been around for quite a long time, without becoming remotely famous. Hence the blog’s title. I’ve often been asked if I write under my name, and it’s a polite way of making it clear that the person asking the question has never heard of me.

In 2007, I had no idea of what the future held for me as a writer, but I did tell the story of my first TV option, and the fact that the dizzying excitement  ultimately faded when it became clear that the show would never be made. Ten years on, I’ve had half a dozen TV options, covering the Harry Devlin series, the Lake District series, and even The Golden Age of Murder, but still none of the scripts has actually made it on to the screen. It’s frustrating (though option fees are definitely a consolation), but it’s a common situation, and the only sensible reaction is to be philosophical. You can’t be lucky all the time. And overall, I’ve been extraordinarily lucky.

If you’d told me ten years ago what would happen in my writing life over the next decade, I’d have suspected a cruel hoax. Back then, I wasn’t even a member of the Detection Club, let alone its President, archivist, and author of The Golden Age of Murder. And I was nowhere near joining the committee of the CWA – my day job made it impossible – let alone becoming its Chair. I’d never won a literary award, and now I’ve picked up a totally unexpected number here and in the US, as well as various shortlistings. I’d never even set foot in the British Library, whereas in the past year I’ve been interviewed there by Mark Lawson, conducted a week-end master class there, plotted a murder mystery for their pop-up shop, and compiled my tenth BL anthology, as well as publishing The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books and clocking up more than 40 intros to the Classic Crime series.

The past three years, in particular, have been amazing, and it’s hard to figure out exactly what has made the difference. Some of it must be down to the fact that, although I’m still a practising lawyer, I now spend much less time on the law, and much of the energy I devoted to the day job (and endless commuting) is now directed towards writing-related activities. I’ve found, as many writers found before me, that there are all sorts of fascinating opportunities out there

Since I returned to the UK from the Toronto Bouchercon last month, I’ve taken part in literary festivals in Lancaster and in Dalton-in-Furness (the ancient capital of Furness might just feature in the next Lake District Mystery!) and given library talks in York, Beeston, and West Bridgford and a bookshop talk in Bramhall. I’ve  hosted the CWA Daggers Awards and the Detection Club’s main annual dinner, survived a CWA board meeting without provoking my admirable colleagues to launch a coup d’etat, enjoyed an excellent lunch with the CWA’s Northern Chapter, and given a talk in London to a marvellous group of American crime fans, as well as signing a pile of copies of the CWA anthology Mystery Tour at Goldsboro Books and piles of other books in Foyles and Waterstones. It’s been a mad whirl of activity, but hugely enjoyable.

And I hope that if there are any writers, or would-be writers, reading this who are struggling with confidence at present, my story may offer them a bit of encouragement. Despite all the pitfalls, it’s a privilege to live a writer’s life, and I hate to see talented authors become so discouraged that they give up, something that happens far too often.

Martin Edwards and Ann Cleeves
Martin Edwards and Ann Cleeves

Writing is, as I said at the Dagger awards, a tough game, and setbacks are many. I’m still very, very far from being a Big Name among authors. But surely the point about writing is to try to make the most of your skills and your opportunities, and hope that an occasional lucky break will compensate for all the knock-backs, however numerous the latter. Above all, the key is to have a good time, no matter how many well-meaning people keep wanting to know if you write under your own name!


Be Merry at The Poisoned Pen

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Be Merry

I don’t know that I’ve ever repeated an event twice in a week, but The Poisoned Pen’s Holiday Party is worth publicizing twice. Yesterday, Barbara Peters sent out her newsletter with a little more information about the Holiday Party. Here’s Barbara’s note and invitation to all of you.

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 19 2:00 PM Holiday Party
Hosted by Donis Casey and Barbara
Food by John Charles
The authors will discuss their books in three groups with food sampling breaks in between
Rhys Bowen signs The Ghost of Christmas Past (St Martins $24.99) Molly Murphy
Kate Carlisle signs Eaves of Destruction (Berkley $7.99) Fixer-Upper Mystery
Timothy Hallinan signs Fool’s River (Soho $26.95), Bangkok’s Poke Rafferty, and Fields Where They Lay ($15.95), Junior Bender Christmas romp
Carolyn G. Hart signs Ghost on the Case (Penguin $26)
Jenn McKinlay signs Death in the Stacks (Berkley $25) Library Lover’s Mystery
Daryl Gerber Wood signs A Deadly Eclair (Crooked Lane $26.99) A French Bistro Mystery