Fiction Review

Sandra Brown in Conversation

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Did you miss Sandra Brown’s recent appearance at The Poisoned Pen? She was on book tour for her 71st New York Times Bestseller, Outfox. You can still order signed copies through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of Outfox.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown combines heart-stopping suspense and forbidden passion in this psychological thriller about an FBI agent’s hunt for a ruthless conman turned serial killer

FBI agent Drex Easton is relentlessly driven by a single goal: to outmaneuver the conman once known as Weston Graham. Over the past thirty years, Weston has assumed many names and countless disguises, enabling him to lure eight wealthy women out of their fortunes before they disappeared without a trace, their families left without answers and the authorities without clues. The only common trait among the victims: a new man in their life who also vanished, leaving behind no evidence of his existence . . . except for one signature custom.

Drex is convinced that these women have been murdered, and that the man he knows as Weston Graham is the sociopath responsible. But each time Drex gets close to catching him, Weston trades one persona for another and disappears again. Now, for the first time in their long game of cat and mouse, Drex has a suspect in sight.

Attractive and charming, Jasper Ford is recently married to a successful businesswoman many years his junior, Talia Shafer. Drex insinuates himself into their lives, posing as a new neighbor and setting up surveillance on their house. The closer he gets to the couple, the more convinced he becomes that Jasper is the clever, merciless predator he’s sought–and that his own attraction to Talia threatens to compromise his purpose and integrity.

This is Drex’s one chance to outfox his cunning nemesis before he murders again and eludes justice forever. But first he must determine if the desirable Talia is a heartless accomplice . . . or the next victim.


While I said you could still order signed copies, you can also still pretend you were at the event. Here’s the video of Sandra Brown in conversation with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen.

Detectives in Recent Crime Novels

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There are several reasons to share the link to Liberty Hardy’s recent article for Book Riot. Let’s start with the list itself, “10 of the Best Detectives from Recent Crime Novels”, When Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, gives it a stamp of approval, saying ‘Excellent list”, you’ll want to pay attention. In fact, you just might want to look those books up in the Web Store.

The other reason deals with the sponsored book for this article. Sourcebooks is the sponsor. They’re also the publisher for Billy Jensen’s Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders.

As mentioned the other day on the blog,, Jensen will be at the Pen on Saturday, August 24, joining Hank Phillippi Ryan for a special ticketed event. Check the web link above for the information, or call The Poisoned Pen at 480-947-2974 for information about buying tickets.

Here’s what the recent article says about Chase Darkness with Me.

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common—they didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there. But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy got fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself. Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true-crime narrative unlike any you’ve read before.

Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

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Congratulations to Rhys Bowen, whose thirteenth Royal Spyness mystery, Love and Death Among the Cheetahs, appears at #15 on the new USA Today Best-Selling Books list. Bowen recently appeared at The Poisoned Pen, and there are signed copies of her latest book available through the Web Store.

You may have missed the event at The Poisoned Pen, but you can still listen to Rhys Bowen talk with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, on the store’s Podcast. It’s a little over twenty minutes long. Here’s a link to the Podcast page.

Love and Death Among the Cheetahs is summarized here.

Georgie and Darcy are finally on their honeymoon in Kenya’s Happy Valley, but murder crashes the party in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling series.

I was so excited when Darcy announced out of the blue that we were flying to Kenya for our extended honeymoon. Now that we are here, I suspect he has actually been sent to fulfill another secret mission. I am trying very hard not to pick a fight about it, because after all, we are in paradise! Darcy finally confides that there have been robberies in London and Paris. It seems the thief was a member of the aristocracy and may have fled to Kenya. Since we are staying in the Happy Valley—the center of upper-class English life—we are well positioned to hunt for clues and ferret out possible suspects.

Now that I am a sophisticated married woman, I am doing my best to sound like one. But crikey! These aristocrats are a thoroughly loathsome sort enjoying a completely decadent lifestyle filled with wild parties and rampant infidelity. And one of the leading lights in the community, Lord Cheriton, has the nerve to make a play for me. While I am on my honeymoon! Of course, I put an end to that right off. 

When he is found bloodied and lifeless along a lonely stretch of road, it appears he fell victim to a lion. But it seems that the Happy Valley community wants to close the case a bit too quickly. Darcy and I soon discover that there is much more than a simple robbery and an animal attack to contend with here in Kenya. Nearly everyone has a motive to want Lord Cheriton dead and some will go to great lengths to silence anyone who asks too many questions. The hunt is on! I just hope I can survive my honeymoon long enough to catch a killer. . . .

Billy Jensen & Hank Phillippi Ryan – Ticketed Event

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It’s never too early to highlight a ticketed event at The Poisoned Pen because seats are limited. Billy Jensen, author of Chase Darkness with Me, and Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of The Murder List, will appear at the Pen on Saturday, August 24 at 2 PM.

$28 Ticket includes one copy of Chase Darkness With Me or The Murder List (purchaser’s choice).

Seating is general admission. No reserved seating. Ticket holders will be admitted into the venue starting at 1pm. Program begins at 2pm and will last for approximately one hour, followed by the book signing at 3pm.

Can’t make it? Order your signed copies through the Web Store.

Here’s the link with program and ticket information.


Here’s information about Jensen’s Chase Darkness with Me.

***With an exclusive behind-the-scenes conversation between Billy Jensen and retired detective Paul Holes on the Golden State Killer, their favorite cold cases, and more***

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common—they didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there.

But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.

You’ll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You’ll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle McNamara’s pursuit of the Golden State Killer and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown Four. And Billy gives you the tools—and the rules—to help solve murders yourself.

Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true-crime narrative unlike any you’ve read before.


Here’s the summary of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Murder List.

“An exhilarating thrill ride that keeps you turning pages.. Ryan deftly delivers a denouement as shocking as it is satisfying.”–Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You

Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future. 

Problem is–she’s wrong. 

And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival. 

The Murder List is a new standalone suspense novel in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and B. A. Paris from award-winning author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Dead Good Reader Awards

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Winners were announced for the 2019 Dead Good Reader Awards during the recent Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. This year’s winning titles are:

Best Amateur Detective: The Suspect by Fiona Barton
Most Gripping Courtroom Drama: Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
Best Revenge Thriller: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Book You Can’t Put Down: Skin Deep by Liz Nugent
Most Elusive Villain: Last of the Magpies by Mark Edwards
Most Recommended Book: The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

Congratulations to all of the winners. Don’t forget to check the Web Store for the books.

In this case, you’ll also want to check The Poisoned Pen’s calendar. Steve Cavanagh, author of Thirteen, will be at the Pen on Thursday, August 22 at 7 PM. Signed copies of Thirteen are available through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of Thirteen.

Thirteen is the legal thriller Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and Ruth Ware are raving about and readers can’t put down.

“Outstanding – an intriguing premise, a tense, gripping build-up, and a spectacular climax. This guy is the real deal. Trust me.” —Lee Child

“A dead bang BEAST of a book that expertly combines Cavanagh’s authority on the law with an absolutely great thrill ride. Books this ingenious don’t come along very often.” —Michael Connelly

It’s the murder trial of the century. And Joshua Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house – and to be sure the wrong man goes down for the crime. Because this time, the killer isn’t on trial. He’s on the jury.

But there’s someone on his tail. Former-conman-turned-criminal-defense-attorney Eddie Flynn doesn’t believe that his movie-star client killed two people. He suspects that the real killer is closer than they think – but who would guess just how close? 

“A brilliant, twisty, ingeniously constructed puzzle of a book. Steve Cavanagh pulls off an enviable premise with panache.” —Ruth Ware

Hot Book of the Week – Inland

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The Poisoned Pen picks a novel set in Arizona as the current Hot Book of the Week. Inland is by Tea Obreht, bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife. There are signed copies of Inland available through the Web Store.

Here’s the review of Inland from The New York Times.

Then, read Ron Charles’ review of Inland in The Washington Post. I think you’ll find it intriguing. Now, are you ready to order a signed copy of the book?

Here’s the summary of Inland.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife returns with “a bracingly epic and imaginatively mythic journey across the American West” (Entertainment Weekly).

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.

Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Lurie’s death-defying trek at last intersects with Nora’s plight is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.

Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely—and unforgettably—her own.

Advance praise for Inland

“This is no boilerplate Louis L’Amour yarn—there are ghosts, camels and other fantastical elements.”Newsday (Best Summer Books 2019)

“The long-anticipated second novel from Téa Obreht transports readers to the Wild West through the juxtaposed stories of a frontierswoman whose husband and sons have gone missing, and of an outlaw on the run.”Bustle

“Magnificent . . . brings to mind similar effects in, say, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude or Toni Morrison’s Beloved.”The Times Literary Supplement

“Obreht masterfully intertwines [Nora’s and Lurie’s] seemingly unconnected stories with the rich prose, nods to history, and elements of magical realism she’s known for.”Real Simple

“It will enchant lovers of lyrical prose and the mythical American West.”Harper’s Bazaar


Robert Pobi’s City of Windows – Another View

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Robert Pobi’s City of Windows was this past week’s Hot Book of the Week. You can still order a copy through the Web Store, of course.

However, there are several ways to summarize the book. Adam Wagner is a regular contributor to CriminalElement, where he posts GIFNotes, a summary of upcoming and current books, using a visual guide. You can find his summary of City of Windows on that site.

Or, you can read the straightforward summary of City of Windows here.

City of Windows is moving, breathtaking—a great entertainment.” —The Wall Street Journal 

“A tough, wise, knowing narrative voice, a great plot, a great setting, and even better characters — I loved this.” —Lee Child, New York Timesbestselling author

In the tradition of Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme and David Baldacci’s Amos Decker, Robert Pobi’s City of Windows introduces Lucas Page, a brilliant, reluctant investigator, matching wits with a skilled, invisible killer

During the worst blizzard in memory, an FBI agent in a moving SUV in New York City is killed by a nearly impossible sniper shot. Unable to pinpoint where the shot came from, as the storm rapidly wipes out evidence, the agent-in-charge Brett Kehoe turns to the one man who might be able to help them—former FBI agent Lucas Page.

Page, a university professor and bestselling author, left the FBI years ago after a tragic event robbed him of a leg, an arm, an eye, and the willingness to continue. But he has an amazing ability to read a crime scene, figure out angles and trajectories in his head, and he might be the only one to be able to find the sniper’s nest. With a new wife and family, Lucas Page has no interest in helping the FBI—except for the fact that the victim was his former partner.

Agreeing to help for his partner’s sake, Page finds himself hunting a killer with an unknown agenda and amazing sniper skills in the worst of conditions. And his partner’s murder is only the first in a series of meticulously planned murders carried out with all-but-impossible sniper shots. The only thing connecting the deaths is that the victims are all with law enforcement—that is until Page’s own family becomes a target.

To identify and hunt down this ruthless, seemingly unstoppable killer, Page must discover what hidden past connects the victims before he himself loses all that is dear to him.