Fiction Review

Nick Petrie’s Suggestions for Books as Gifts

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Nick Petrie, author of the January release in the Peter Ash series, Tear It Down, recently sent a list of some of his suggestions of “Great Books for Gifts”. You can pre-order Tear It Down, and order Petrie’s gift suggestions through the Web Store.

Tear It Down hits the bookstores January 15, 2019!

Dear Reader,
My family spends as much time reading as breathing, so our holiday
season is filled with books.  If you  need some gift ideas, these are a few of my favorites this year. 
November Road, by Lou Berney.
A mob enforcer is on the run after the Kennedy assassination when he
meets a young woman with two daughters.  Trouble follows them all.  A
lovely portrait of love and a vanished America, this book is on a zillion
best-of-2018 lists, and for good reason.  Lou Berney is an award-winning writer and a lovely guy, too. 
How It Happened, by Michael Koryta.
Michael Koryta published his first novel before he graduated from
college.  He’s a super-talented writer with a great sense of character, and also for setting.  This book is set on the Maine coast, which really comes
alive in the telling.  The story is based on a disappearance that happened when Michael was a young reporter, and he never quite got it out of his
head – and you won’t get this one out of yours, either.
The High White Sun by J. Todd Scott. 
This is the second in an epic trilogy about the border country of Texas,
told from the point of view of a young Sheriff.  Scott is an active-duty
federal agent who knows his stuff, and has a bit of the poet in him, too.  I can’t wait for the 3rd in the series, coming in March.

I read a lot of crime fiction, of course, but I love memoir, too. If you’re
interested in real life, try these:
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant
Chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton.
My first jobs were in food.  I scooped ice cream, flipped pizzas, washed
dishes and cooked and served at multiple restaurants – all before the age of 20.  This wonderful memoir reminded me of all the things I loved and
hated about those jobs, but also shone new light on the work and a life
lived in kitchens.
Outlaw Platoon, by Sean Parnell.
Sean Parnell wrote this memoir about his time as a lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division, commanding a platoon in Afghanistan.  It’s exciting
and heart-wrenching and extremely well-written.  If you’re interested in
the visceral experience of war at ground level, Outlaw Platoon delivers.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan.
I’m not a surfer, but I’d like to be.  This memoir tells the tale of a life lived almost entirely for surfing, from a Hawaii childhood to life as a surf bum in Micronesia to surfing hurricane swells off Long Island.  I never
thought there was this much to know about surfing, or that it would be so damn interesting.  Or maybe I just identify with the level of obsession.

Now, the obligatory #ShamelessSelfPromotion.  I love to give and
receive books for holiday gifts, and I especially like to pre-order books
for my friends and family, to spread out the holiday season.  I write a
little note about the book and when it will arrive and tuck it into their stockings

When you pre-order Tear It Down, the book will land in your mailbox on January 15th.   And if you pre-order from any of the stores on my tour, whether in person or online, I’ll be happy to sign and personalize your
copy.  (Personalized copies make great gifts, too – although they won’t
arrive until after I’m in that town on tour.)
I hope you get to spend some time with friends and family at this festive time of year.  Please know that I’m thinking of you with immense
Nick Upcoming Events

My 2019 book tour starts January 14 at Boswell Books in Milwaukee.  I’d
love to see you there! Upcoming tour events are still being finalized, but
I’ll note them on Facebook and my Events page as they get locked in.
Reviews Publisher’s Weekly called my work “Propulsive…Petrie is a
master of orchestrating convincing mayhem.” 

New York Times-bestselling author Lee Child said, “Lots of characters get compared to my own Jack Reacher, but Petrie’s Peter Ash is the real deal.  The writing is terse and tense, full of wisdom and insight, and the plot is

If any of this grabs your interest, you can read more on my websiteMy
first novel, The Drifter, won the 2016 Thriller Award, the Wisconsin
Library Association’s 2016 Literary Award, and the Barry Award.  It was
also short-listed for the Edgar and Anthony Awards, as well as the
Hammett Prize.​My second novel, Burning Bright, was on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List, and a later EW review noted, “Petrie’s writing is
smooth, almost melodic, and he’s very, very good at ratcheting up 
stomach-churning tension.”In a review of Light it Up, Apple’s iBooks said, “With its crackling dialogue and jaw-dropping twists, Nick Petrie’s third
book about combat veteran Peter Ash — an exceptionally
franchise-worthy hero — is a gripping, action-packed thriller.”Thanks
again for a few minutes of your valuable time — I hope you enjoy my new book.  Find me on Facebook or Twitter and please let me know what you think!

Nick Petrie received his MFA in fiction from the University of Washington and won a Hopwood Award for short fiction while an undergraduate at
the University of Michigan. His work has been nominated for and won
multiple awards.  A husband and father, he has worked as a carpenter,
remodeling contractor, and building inspector. He lives in Milwaukee.

(There is one correction to Petrie’s list. J. Todd Scott’s The High White Sun is now scheduled for a June release.)

Clea Simon’s Favorite Books of 2018

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I recently asked authors to tell us their favorite holiday mystery, or write about their favorite books read during 2018. Clea Simon is the author of a number of mysteries, many of which feature cats. Her latest mystery is A Spell of Murder. You can find her books in the Web Store.

Clea Simon’s website is Today, she’s talking about her favorite readings of 2018. Check the Web Store for these titles.


Earthly Remains, Donna Leon: Leon has always been more about her characters and their moral dilemmas than any straightforward crime, and this installment goes even further in that direction. Taken out of the city he loves for a brief respite, Brunetti learns once again how to row and also to face issues of mortality and grief in a book that encompasses pollution, climate change, and the unforgivable.  Just a splendid book.

The Switch, Joseph Finder. Finder excels at everyman heroes – believable, relatable protagonists forced by unspeakable circumstances into doing the impossible. In“The Switch,” possibly his best book yet, seemingly identical laptops are switched at airport security. Who hasn’t thought about this? The rest, however, will defy whatever you’ve imagined. Just wonderful high-speed fun.

Hope Never Dies, Andrew Shaffer.  The premise is ridiculous: Joe Biden discovers that a long-time Amtrak conductor has been found dead, an apparent suicide. A map, with Biden’s home address marked, is found on the body. I picked this up for a lark, a bit of nostalgia for a time when the administration was run by good guys, and I found a well-written, well-plotted whodunit. Think of Biden as a kind of everyman gumshoe, with Obama popping in and out as he is Holmesian Svengali. Yes, really!

Honorable mention: Sue Grafton’s “Y is for Yesterday” and Attica Locke’s “Bluebird Bluebird”


Thank you, Clea!

Best of the West 2019

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Many readers may not associate The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Poisoned Pen Press, or Poisoned Pen authors with the West. You’d be wrong. Along with an essay about the state of Western writing and history, True West Magazine recently published their Best of the West 2019.

Congratulations are in order. Under the Best Fiction category, Poisoned Pen Press author Ann Parker won Best Mystery for A Dying Note: A Silver Rush Mystery.

Two books from Poisoned Pen Press were honored under 20th to 21st Century Western Mystery Fiction. Congratulations to Reavis Z. Wortham for Gold Dust: A Red River Mystery, and Steven F. Havill for Lies Come Easy.

Poisoned Pen Press was named Best Regional Publisher of Westerns, and The Poisoned Pen Bookstore was named Best Specialized Bookstore.

Check out the article in True West Magazine

Then, look for the authors’ books in the Web Store.

Hot Book of the Week – P.F. Chisholm’s A Suspicion of Silver

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A book from Poisoned Pen Press, P.F. Chisholm’s A Suspicion of Silver, is the current Hot Book of the Week. You can order a signed copy, or other books in the Sir Robert Carey series, through the Web Store.

Author Dana Stabenow says readers of A Suspicion of Silver are “In for a real treat”.  Here are Stabenow’s comments from her website.

“A wrong-side-of-the-blanket cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, perspicaciously able, perennially broke, persistently in love with the married Lady Elizabeth Widdrington, Sir Robert is fresh off saving James the VI/I’s life from a double assassination attempt. With the whole-hearted if covert backing of Sir Robert Cecil he is now tasked by James to catch and kill the would-be assassin, a thoroughly creepy serial killer, and along the way if he can figure out how the the German silver miners in Keswick are stiffing the queen out of her share of the take, so much the better. It doesn’t help matters that his surly Sergeant, Henry Dodd, is missing and presumed dead.

“Chisholm displays a masterful hand in drawing several plot lines from the previous novels to a resoundingly satisfying conclusion, and in setting a terrific hook on the last page. Mickey Spillane, who famously said “The last line sells the next book,” would have given her a standing ovation for this one. I have never loved Sir Robert more.”


Here’s part of a 5 Star review on Net Galley.

“In the previous episode in this excellent historical series, Sir Robert Carey had just foiled a heinous plot to kill King James of Scotland. Now he is in pursuit of the perpetrator who managed to escape over the border. It’s possible he has gone to ground in his home turf, a copper mine run by his family in England … This series gets better with each book and this is the best one so far, although it is definitely advisable to read them in order. Chisholm is so good at depicting the feel of a time and place and the historical details feel spot on, even when describing the operation of a 16th century copper mine and smelter.”


And, here’s what it says about A Suspicion of Silver on the Web Site. 

Edinburgh, 1593. The new year begins. 

Sir Robert Carey has just foiled a double plot against King James. He rides for Leith hunting the would-be assassin now identified as Joachim Hochstetter, also known as Jonathan Hepburn. Has he taken ship for the Continent, or ridden nearly 130 miles south and west into England? There at Keswick, his family, originally from Augsburg, runs a mining operation that pays a royalty to Queen Elizabeth in gold. It’s ruled by the widow Radagunda Hochstetter, his mother. 

Sir Robert’s other problem? His dour, difficult, and now treasonous henchman, Sergeant Henry Dodd, has disappeared somewhere on the snowy moors. Why can’t anyone find Dodd’s body? 

Before going after Hochstetter, Carey must escort Dodd’s widow back to her home at Gilsland. It’s a complex operation involving a cart, Widow Ridley and Skinabake Armstrong. That’s the man who sold Janet Dodd to Wee Colin, the Elliot headman, on her way to Edinburgh before Dodd disappeared. 

If Hochstetter goes to ground in Keswick, how far will the colony of German miners go to protect Radagunda’s favourite child? He may be an outlaw in Scotland, and King James certainly wants his head, but Carey has no official authorization to kill the man in England. 

Predictably, the Hochstetter family is politely obstructive. But something else is going on. What in the name of everything unholy is that well-known reiver, Wattie Graham of Netherby, doing so far over the border in peaceful Keswick? 

Sir Robert is tested to the utmost in chasing the traitor (underground), solving a murder, arranging a duel – and then his courtship of another man’s wife takes a deadly turn.

Jane Tesh & Death By Dragonfly

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Poisoned Pen Press author Jane Tesh recently did a Q&A with Michael Barson for Tesh’s Death by Dragonfly is the sixth in her Grace Street Mystery series. You can order it, as well as her other titles, through the Web Store.

You can read the interview here.

Here’s the summary of Death By Dragonfly.

Flamboyant actor Leo Pierson’s Art Nouveau treasures have been stolen, including a one-of-a-kind Lalique glass dragonfly he claims is cursed. David Randall, 302 Grace Street’s private eye, agrees to recover the valuables before he realizes murder has raised its ugly head in the Parkland art community. Samuel Gallant of the museum board is missing, until Randall and his landlord/consultant Camden find Gallant’s body stuffed in a museum closet. When another board member suffers a fatal accident and the art critic for the Parkland Herald is attacked, Randall suspects the stolen dragonfly is indeed cursed. He investigates Richard Mason, curator of the Little Gallery, whose artwork consists of ugly mechanical sculptures, and Nancy Piper, finance manager at the Parkland Art Museum. 

Meanwhile, Camden struggles against psychic visions he’s had since birth, taking pills to limit sudden intense visions. His wife, Ellin, fends off Matt Grabber, a television celebrity healer threatening to take over her Psychic Service Network and using his two large pythons to emphasize his bid. The pythons take a liking to Camden, upping his stress level, while he takes more pills hoping his visions – and the snakes – disappear. Kit, a new tenant at Grace Street, is a young rock star who is also psychic. As Camden becomes more addicted, Kit becomes an early warning system, alerting Randall to the next attack. 

Randall works to solve the murders, find the jeweled collection, help Cam, deter Grabber and his pythons, romance the young lovely Kary, and avoid stray curses. A spirit on the Other Side surprisingly requests his help, a spirit with ties to the stolen pieces of Art Nouveau.

Jonathan Lethem & The Feral Detective

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Jonathan Lethem appeared at The Poisoned Pen while on book tour for The Feral Detective. There are still signed copies of the book available through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of The Feral Detective.

Jonathan Lethem’s first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn

“One of America’s greatest storytellers.” —Washington Post

Phoebe Siegler first meets Charles Heist in a shabby trailer on the eastern edge of Los Angeles. She’s looking for her friend’s missing daughter, Arabella, and hires Heist to help. A laconic loner who keeps his pet opossum in a desk drawer, Heist intrigues the sarcastic and garrulous Phoebe. Reluctantly, he agrees to help. The unlikely pair navigate the enclaves of desert-dwelling vagabonds and find that Arabella is in serious trouble—caught in the middle of a violent standoff that only Heist, mysteriously, can end. Phoebe’s trip to the desert was always going to be strange, but it was never supposed to be dangerous. . . .

Jonathan Lethem’s first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn, The Feral Detective is a singular achievement by one of our greatest writers.


Patrick Millikin from The Poisoned Pen had the chance to interview Lethem. You can watch the interview here.

Reporters in Conversation – Connelly, Gruley & Anglen

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The Poisoned Pen recently hosted Michael Connelly and Bryan Gruley. Robert Anglen, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, led the conversation. Connelly’s latest book is Dark Sacred Night, while Gruley’s is Bleak Harbor. Signed copies of both books are available through the Web Store.

Now, would you like to see the event? You can watch it from YouTube.