Fiction Review

Robert Dugoni & Writer’s Block

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Robert Dugoni is a favorite at The Poisoned Pen. There are a number of his books, including signed copies of some, available through the Web Store. You can already pre-order his April thriller, The Eighth Sister.

Check out the description of The Eighth Sister.

A pulse-pounding thriller of espionage, spy games, and treachery by theNew York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series.

Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.


And, then, you can watch Robert Dugoni in action as he defeats “Writer’s Block”. See where a bestselling author finds inspiration.

W.E.B. Griffin, A Tribute

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William E. Butterworth III, known to readers as W.E.B. Griffin, died last week. Michael Barson, publicist for Poisoned Pen Press, was a publicist for Putnam, Butterworth’s publisher, and knew him. Today, he offers a tribute to the man and the author.

I am bidding farewell to one of my favorite authors from my Putnam years—William E. Butterworth III, who passed away February 12 at age 89. He was known at feeding time as Bill, and among us chickens as “Three”. But millions of readers knew him best as WEB Griffin—the W.E.B. drawn from the initials of his real name.

Bill Butterworth wrote multiple best-selling series, but the one that first secured his name on the hardcover bestseller fiction lists was the superb WWII saga of the Marines known as The Corps. He also wrote successful series about the Philadelphia police force, another about the pre-CIA O.S.S., one involving WWII espionage, and another about the history of Special Forces. Several of those began as paperback originals and were published first by Berkley, Putnam’s paperback arm. Earlier in his career he wrote the paperback series based on the M.A.S.H. movie and TV series. He also wrote in numerous other genres under a wide variety of pseudonyms.

But it was Bill’s military fiction that eventually would make him a favorite second only to Clancy in the 80s and 90s—and then in the 00’s he started new series involving counter-intelligence and terrorism. Bill’s fans followed him wherever he went, but I did receive many phone calls over the years from morose veterans who couldn’t believe that the Corps series had been discontinued to give Bill more time to work on the contemporary Presidential Agent series. That one was a huge success but those vets still missed The Corps dearly.

In the course of my 21 years working on the publicity for his books, many of which Bill wrote in collaboration with his talented son Bill Butterworth IV (aka “Four”), Putnam succeeded in getting him to the number one spot on the national bestseller lists with the Presidential Agent series. That was a real thrill, both for Bill and for me.

A veteran of the Korean war, Bill III had politics diametrically opposed to my own, but he never busted my chops about my Lefty ways. He seemed to enjoy our excursions during his book tours through D.C, Florida and Texas. I enjoyed those trips too, even when I was driving him and Bill IV across Alligator Alley from Naples to Ft. Lauderdale, with Three’s beloved stogies burning non-stop all the way across the state. I also learned that Bill was a true wine maven. Those wines I sometime sampled, but I passed on the cigars.

Bill Butterworth IV, Bill Butterworth III, and author James O. Born

Bill was such a great storyteller, and it was such fun to introduce him to Tom Clancy for the first time, whose publicist I also was at the time. (And it was very cool that the author photograph used on his books during the Oughts was taken by Clancy himself!) 

It was also rewarding to see how those in the military venerated Bill. They knew he had told their combat stories as vividly as anyone ever had, no matter the timeframe or the setting.

I also liked how Bill was the only author I’ve had in 35 years who addressed me only as BARSON! whenever there was something to discuss, which usually involved his travel preparations in transporting him from Argentina, where he lived a good portion of the year, to the States, where he had a home in his beloved Fairhope, Alabama. He was a New Jersey boy by birth, but after being stationed in the South while in the military, something clicked, and there Bill would remain for portions of the next sixty-odd years.

And now, at long last, he is gone. You will be missed by millions of readers, Bill—not the least by me. But some shoes just aren’t meant to be filled. And yours are one such pair.


If you’re looking for books by W E B Griffin, please check the Web Store.

You can read Griffin’s obituary in The New York Times.

Hot Book of the Week – The Line Between

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Author Tosca Lee will be at The Poisoned Pen on Thursday, February 21 at 7 PM. Her latest thriller, The Line Between, is the current Hot Book of the Week. You can order Lee’s books, including a signed copy of The Line Between, through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of The Line Between.

n this frighteningly believable thriller from New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee, an extinct disease re-emerges from the melting Alaskan permafrost to cause madness in its victims. For recent apocalyptic cult escapee Wynter Roth, it’s the end she’d always been told was coming.

When Wynter Roth is turned out of New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.

As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.

Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter herself.

Filled with action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, The Line Between is a high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness.

Thrillers and Humor?

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You might never look at thrillers in the same way again after reading or listening to Lee Goldberg talk about his latest book, Killer Thriller. He pokes fun at cliches in thrillers and at Hollywood in that book. You can order Goldberg’s books through the Web Store, including a signed copy of Killer Thriller.

Now, you can also watch Goldberg discuss his ideas with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen.

Australian TV’s New Ms Fisher

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I’m sure you’re familiar with Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries. The books, set in 1920s Melbourne, and published in the U.S. by Poisoned Pen Press, were made into the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries for television. The books are available through the Web Store.

The television series and the 1920s time period and clothing were so popular in Australia that there was even a costume display tied into it. Now, with a jump forward to 1964, there’s a new series, Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries. You can read all about it in Gemma Nisbet’s article for The West Australian.

News from Preston & Child

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Do you subscribe to the newsletter put out by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child? You really should. The current one has news of a forthcoming short story they will send to newsletter subscribers. Here’s where you can subscribe to the Pendergast File newsletter.

There are a couple other pieces of news you might want to know about.

–If you’re looking for an early Father’s Day present, or a unique birthday present, there are still a few hundred double-autographed, first-edition copies of VERSES FOR THE DEAD available from the Poisoned Pen Bookstore. You can get one here.

Here’s the other news. The book jacket isn’t available to see yet, but here’s the information about a new series and forthcoming book.

–Finally, we are pleased to announce the launching of a new series of novels, starring our recurring characters Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson! The first book in the series, entitled OLD BONES, will be published August 27. Nora is directing the archaeological excavation of an old Donner Party encampment in the Sierras of California—a site where horrific cannibalism occurred. At the same time, rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson is looking into a bizarre grave-robbing and murder in New Mexico. The two women soon cross paths—and their solo investigations quickly morph into one terrifying ordeal. (Those of you who aren’t familiar with the tragic and gruesome story of the Donner Party can read about it here.)

James and Margaret Reed, survivors of the Donner Party.


Andrew Grant’s “Invisible” Hero

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Who would be the best character to be an invisible hero in a thriller? Andrew Grant had a wonderful idea for his latest book, Invisible. He recently discussed that book and overlooked people with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen. You can buy copies of Grant’s books from the Web Store, including a signed copy of Invisible.

Here’s the summary of Invisible.

An Army veteran and intelligence agent goes undercover as a janitor at a federal courthouse to pursue his own brand of justice in a thriller that’s part John Grisham, part Robert Crais.

“Propulsive and engaging from the very first page.”—C. J. Box, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Joe Pickett series

As a young man, Paul McGrath rebelled against his pacifist father by becoming a standout Army recruit and the star of his military intelligence unit. But lingering regrets about their relationship make him return home, only to find his father dead, seemingly murdered. When the case ends in a mistrial—after a key piece of evidence disappears—something doesn’t smell right to McGrath. So he puts his arsenal of skills to work to find out just how corrupt the legal system is. And to keep digging, he gets a job at the courthouse. But not as a lawyer or a clerk. . . .

Now McGrath is a janitor. The perfect cover, it gives him security clearance and access to the entire building. No one notices him, but he notices everyone. He notices when witnesses suddenly change their stories. When jury members reverse their votes during deliberation. When armies of corporate attorneys grind down their small-time adversaries with endless tactical shenanigans. While McGrath knows that nothing he discovers can undo his past wrongs or save his father, he finds his new calling brings him something else: the chance to right current wrongs and save others. And by doing so—just maybe—to redeem himself . . . if the powerful and corrupt don’t kill him first.

Praise for Invisible

“The masterful Andrew Grant outdoes himself with this deliciously twisty, magnetic thriller. Fiercely redemptive, with its clever, profoundly moving, and altogether captivating David and Goliath hook, Invisible is a winner.”—Sara Blaedel, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Forgotten Girls

“[A] superior thriller . . . Grant capably combines a riveting plot and depth of character. His best outing to date, this standalone marks Grant as a rising genre star.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Another solid and entertaining thriller.”Kirkus Reviews

“Paul McGrath is not just a janitor—he’s a terrific new hero in what promises to be a fantastic and original series by Grant. Paul may be invisible . . . but his results are not in this intense mystery thriller that will leave you wanting more. In a word? Awesome.”—Allison Brennan, New York Times bestselling author of Too Far Gone’


Don’t you want to listen to Andrew Grant discuss his character and the book? You can watch the event here.