Red Star Falling – Hot Book of the Week

Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, welcomed Steve Berry and Grant Underwood for a virtual event. Their new book, Red Star Falling, is the current Hot Book of the Week at the bookstore. You can order signed copies through the Webstore.

Here’s the description of Red Star Falling.

From New York Times bestselling authors Steve Berry and Grant Blackwood comes an action-packed adventure: in the waning days of the Cold War, Luke Daniels embarks on a quest in search of the legendary library of Ivan the Terrible—the unlikely key to ending a looming threat orbiting two hundred miles above the earth. 

Wrapping up his latest assignment for the Magellan Billet, Luke Daniels receives a surprise visit from the head of a former-CIA operation named Sommerhaus — a failed attempt to assemble an espionage network within the Ukraine on the eve of the Russian invasion.  Sommerhaus ranks high on Luke’s list of painful regrets for it was during this mission that his friend, CIA case officer John Vince, was captured by Russian operatives and supposedly executed.  But Luke is provided some shocking news.  Vince is alive, in failing health, locked behind the walls of Russia’s brutal Solovetsky Island prison, and has a critical message he’ll give to no one but Luke.  Needing no further convincing Luke vows to bring Vince home.  

However, just as he manages to extract his friend from prison Vince tragically dies and his final words are rambling and incoherent.  Just bits and pieces.  But enough to plunge Luke into a hunt for something lost since the 15th century.  The legendary library of the first Tsar of All Russia, Ivan the Terrible.  

Within that priceless collection of rare manuscripts is the key to unraveling a modern-day cipher and stopping a secret Soviet satellite program that still exists.  But Luke is not the only one on the trail.  Others, both inside and out of Russia, want the library for a totally different reason — to re-start the Red Star program and finally unleash its destructive potential.  Luke’s mission is clear.  Find the lost library, solve the puzzle, and prevent Red Star falling.

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of eighteen Cotton Malone novels, five stand-alone thrillers, and several works of short fiction. He has more than twenty-six million books in print, translated into forty-one languages. With his wife, Elizabeth, he is the founder of History Matters, an organization dedicated to historical preservation. He serves as an emeritus member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board and was a founding member of International Thriller Writers, formerly serving as its co?president.
Grant Blackwood is the New York Times bestselling author of the Briggs Tanner series, (The End of EnemiesThe Wall of Night, and An Echo of War); the co-author of the Fargo Adventure Series (Spartan GoldLost Empire, and The Kingdom) with Clive Cussler; co-author of The Kill Switch with James Rollins; and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Dead or Alive, with Tom Clancy.  A U. S. Navy veteran, Grant spent three years aboard a guided missile frigate as an Operations Specialist and a Pilot Rescue Swimmer. Grant lives in Colorado, where he is working on his own standalone series starring a new hero.

Enjoy the conversation with Steve Berry and Grant Blackwood.

Rob Hart discusses Assassins Anonymous

Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, and Patrick Millikin welcomed Rob Hart to the bookstore. Hart is the author of Assassins Anonymous, so they started by talking about crime novels that centered around the bad guys – thieves, hit men, robbers. Enjoy the discussion, and then you can order a signed copy of Hart’s Assassins Anonymous in the Webstore.

Here’s the summary of Assassins Anonymous.

“The best kind of thriller. . . . Suspenseful, sentimental, and ultimately redemptive, Assassins Anonymous is a can’t-miss novel.” — S. A. Cosby,  author of All the Sinners Bleed

In this clever, surprising, page-turner, the world’s most lethal assassin gives up the violent life only to find himself under siege by mysterious assailants. It’s a kill-or-be-killed situation, but the first option is off the table. What’s a reformed hit man to do?

Mark was the most dangerous killer-for-hire in the world. But after learning the hard way that his life’s work made him more monster than man, he left all of that behind, and joined a twelve-step group for reformed killers.

When Mark is viciously attacked by an unknown assailant, he is forced on the run. From New York to Singapore to London, he chases after clues while dodging attacks and trying to solve the puzzle of who’s after him. All without killing anyone. Or getting killed himself. For an assassin, Mark learns, nonviolence is a real hassle.

Rob Hart is the author of The Paradox HotelThe Warehouse, and the Ash McKenna crime series, and the co-author of Scott Free with James Patterson. He’s worked as a book publisher, a reporter, a political communications director, and a commissioner for the city of New York. Hart lives on Staten Island.

Enjoy the discussion with Rob Hart.

Randy Wayne White discusses One Deadly Eye

Randy Wayne White recently appeared at The Poisoned Pen to talk about his latest Doc Ford novel, One Deadly Eye. White complimented Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore, calling her “The First Lady of Independent Bookstores”. Then, he proceeded to talk about the reasons he and his wife stayed on Sanibel Island during the hurricane of 2022. He showed slides of the island, and talked about hurricanes, saying the most recent hurricane was the inspiration for his latest book, One Deadly Eye. You can order signed copies of the book through the Webstore.

Here’s the description of One Deadly Eye.

From New York Times bestselling author Randy Wayne White, after the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida’s Gulf Coast in a century, Doc Ford must stop a gang of thievesand worseduring the twelve hours of chaos that follow the passing of a storm’s eye.

A Russian diplomat disappears while Doc is tagging great white sharks in South Africa, and members of a criminal brotherhood, Bratva, don’t think it’s a coincidence. They track the biologist to Dinkin’s Bay Marina on the west coast of Florida, where Brotherhood mercenaries have already deployed, prepared to pillage and kill in the wake of an approaching hurricane.

No one, however, is prepared for a cataclysmic event that will forever change the island and leaves Doc to deal with escapees from Russia’s most dangerous prison, including a serial killer—the Vulture Monk—who has a taste for blood. His only ally is an enigmatic British inventor whose decision to ride out the storm might have more to do with revenge than protecting a priceless art collection.

Doc has a lot at stake—the lives of his fiancée, Hannah Smith, and their son, plus the fate of his hipster pal, Tomlinson, whose sailboat has disappeared in the Gulf of Mexico. The greatest threat of all, though, is a force that cannot be escaped—a Category Five hurricane that, minute by minute, melds sins of the past with Florida’s precarious future.

Randy Wayne White is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Doc Ford series. In 2011, White was named a Florida Literary Legend by the Florida Heritage Society. A fishing and nature enthusiast, he has also written extensively for National Geographic AdventureMen’s JournalPlayboy and Men’s Health. He lives on Sanibel Island, Florida, where he was a light-tackle fishing guide for many years, and spends much of his free time windsurfing, playing baseball and hanging out at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. Sharks Incorporated is his middle grade series, including Fins and Stingers.

Enjoy the discussion, and a few of the slides.

Alex Finlay discusses If Something Happens to Me

Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, welcomed Alex Finlay to the bookstore. They’ve talked for a virtual event, but this was Finlay’s first actual appearance at the bookstore. The conversation didn’t dwell on his new book, If Something Happens to Me because they didn’t want spoilers. There are signed copies of the book in the Webstore.

Here’s the description of If Something Happens to Me.

From “one of the genre’s most exciting voices” (E! News) comes one of the year’s most-anticipated thrillers.

For the past five years, Ryan Richardson has relived that terrible night. The car door ripping open. The crushing blow to the head. The hands yanking him from the vehicle. His girlfriend Ali’s piercing scream as she is taken.

With no trace of Ali or the car, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Ryan. But with no proof and a good lawyer, he’s never charged, though that doesn’t matter to the podcasters and internet trolls. Now, Ryan has changed his last name, and entered law school. He’s put his past behind him.

Until, on a summer trip abroad to Italy with his law-school classmates, Ryan gets a call from his father: Ali’s car has finally been found, submerged in a lake in his hometown. Inside are two dead men and a cryptic note with five words written on the envelope in Ali’s handwriting: If something happens to me…

Then, halfway around the world, the unthinkable happens: Ryan sees the man who has haunted his dreams since that night.

As Ryan races from the rolling hills of Tuscany, to a rural village in the UK, to the glittering streets of Paris in search of the truth, he has no idea that his salvation may lie with a young sheriff’s deputy in Kansas working her first case, and a mobster in Philadelphia who’s experienced tragedy of his own.

In classic Alex Finlay form, If Something Happens to Me is told by several distinct, compelling characters whose paths intersect, detonating into a story of twist after pulse-pounding twist. The novel cements Finlay as one of the leading thriller writers today.

ALEX FINLAY is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including the 2021 breakout Every Last Fear and the 2022 Goodreads Choice Nominee for Best Mystery & Thriller The Night Shift. His work regularly appears on best-of-the-year lists and has been translated into twenty-two languages, and all of his novels have been optioned for film or television. Every Last Fear is in development for a major limited series. Alex lives in Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

Enjoy the conversation with Alex Finlay.

James Lee Burke discusses Clete

Patrick Millikin from The Poisoned Pen has been a James Lee Burke for years. When Burke appeared for The Pen, Millikin wanted to talk about Clete, but also Burke’s Edgar Award-winning novel, Flags on the Bayou as well. There are signed copies of Burke’s Clete available in the Webstore.

Here’s the description of Clete.

In the latest installment in his famous Detective Dave Robicheaux series, New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke brings Dave’s partner and friend Clete Purcel to the forefront for the first time as Clete and Dave attempt to stop ruthless smugglers of a dangerous new drug

Clete Purcel – private investigator, ex-member of the New Orleans Police Department, and war veteran with a hard shell and just a few soft spots – is Dave Robicheaux’s longtime friend and partner in detective work. But he has a troubled past. When Clete leaves his car at the local car wash, only to return to find it ransacked by a group of thugs tied to the drug trade from Mexican cartels to Louisiana, it feels personal – his grandniece died of a fentanyl overdose, and his fists curl when he thinks of the dealers who sold it.

Just as Clete starts to trail the culprits, Clara Bow, a woman with a dark past hires Clete as a detective to investigate her scheming, slippery ex-husband, and a string of brutal deaths all link back to a heavily tattooed man who seems to lurk around every corner. Clete is experiencing shockingly lifelike hallucinations and questioning Clara’s ulterior motives when he and Dave start to hear rumors of a dangerous substance with potentially catastrophic effects. The thugs who destroyed his car might have been pawns in a scheme far darker than they could’ve imagined.

Gripping, violent, yet interlaced with Clete’s humor and consistent drive to protect those he loves, Clete brings a fresh perspective to a truly iconic series. James Lee Burke proves yet again that he is the “heavyweight champ” and “great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed” (Michael Connelly). 

James Lee Burke is a New York Times bestselling author, two-time winner of the Edgar Award, winner of the CWA Gold Dagger and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, and the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts in Fiction. He has authored forty novels and two short story collections. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

Enjoy the conversation with James Lee Burke.

Kate Khavari’s A Botanist’s Guide to Society and Secrets

Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, talked with Kate Khavari about all the different elements in A Botanist’s Guide to Society and Secrets, book three in her Saffron Everleigh series. There are signed copies available in the Webstore.

Here’s the summary of A Botanist’s Guide to Society and Secrets.

Brilliant botanist Saffron Everleigh is ready for her next thrilling adventure in the newest installment of Kate Khavari’s mesmerizing historical mystery series.

“A cleverly plotted puzzle” (Ashley Weaver) in the vein of Opium and Absinthe, this is perfect for fans of Rhys Bowen and Sujata Massey.

London, 1923. Returning from Paris, botanical researcher Saffron Everleigh finds that her former love interest Alexander Ashton’s brother, Adrian, is being investigated for murder. A Russian scientist working for the English government has been poisoned, and expired in Adrian’s train compartment. Alexander asks Saffron to put in a good word for Adrian with Inspector Green. Despite her unresolved feelings for Alexander, Saffron begins to unravel mysteries surrounding the dead scientist.

As if a murder case weren’t enough, her best friend Elizabeth’s war-hero brother, Nick, arrives in town and takes an immediate interest in Saffron. Saffron learns Alexander has been keeping secrets from her, including a connection to Nick, who Saffron and Elizabeth begin to suspect is more than he seems.

When another scientist is found dead, Saffron agrees to go undercover at the government laboratory. Risking her career and her safety, she learns there are many more interested parties and dangerous secrets to uncover than she’d realized. But some secrets, Saffron will find, are better left undiscovered.

Kate Khavari is the author of fiction ranging from historical mysteries to high fantasy epics. She has her parents to thank for her fascination for historical mysteries, as she spent the majority of her childhood memorizing Sherlock Holmes’s and Poirot’s greatest quips. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas with her husband and children and a lovely garden that contains absolutely no poisonous plants.

Enjoy the conversation with Kate Khavari.

Brett Battles discusses Stuart Woods’ Smolder

Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, recently welcomed Brett Battles to The Poisoned Pen for a live event. They talked about Battles’ debut novel, The Cleaner, as well as his new book, Stuart Woods’ Smolder. You can order signed copies of that book through the Webstore.

Here’s the description of Stuart Woods’ Smolder.

In this latest adrenaline-fueled adventure in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Stone Barrington faces his most vindictive threat yet.

Finally enjoying some downtime in Santa Fe, Stone Barrington agrees to attend an art exhibit with a dear friend. There, he encounters an intriguing woman who is on the trail of a ring of art thieves. Always one to please, Stone offers his help.

From Santa Fe to Los Angeles, it quickly becomes clear that her investigation has links to Stone—particularly to rare Matilda Stone art, his mother’s paintings. And when old grudges come to light, Stone is forced to reckon with a familiar enemy. Stone must act fast before whoever is out to get him finally closes in on him . . . for good.

Stuart Woods was the author of more than ninety novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington series. A native of Georgia and an avid sailor and pilot, he began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. Woods passed away in 2022.

Brett Battles is the New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, including the Jonathan Quinn, Rewinder, Project Eden, and Night Man Chronicles series. Three-time Barry Award nominee, his novel The Deceived won the award for Best Thriller in 2009.

Maggie Hope’s Final Bow

First, Jacqueline Winspear appeared at The Poisoned Pen with her final book in the Maisie Dobbs series. Now, Susan Elia MacNeal appeared with her final Maggie Hope mystery, The Last Hope. There are signed copies of The Last Hope available in the Webstore.

Here’s the description of The Last Hope.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • All will be revealed in this no-holds-barred finale of the Edgar Award–nominated Maggie Hope series as the intrepid spy teams up with fashion designer—and possible double agent—Coco Chanel to bring down the physicist behind Nazi Germany’s nuclear program.

“Intrepid Maggie Hope’s high-stakes mission is fraught with danger and moral questions. . . . A heartfelt story.”—Cara Black, New York Times bestselling author of Three Hours in Paris

Maggie Hope has come a long way since she was Mr. Churchill’s secretary. In the face of tremendous danger, she’s learned espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance. But things are different now that she has so much to lose, including the possibility of a family with John Sterling, the man who’s long held her heart.

British Intelligence has ordered Maggie to assassinate Werner Heisenberg, the physicist who may deliver a world-ending fission bomb for Germany. She’s shaken. An assassination is unlike anything she has ever done. How can the Allies even be sure Nazi Germany has a bomb? Determined to gather more information, Maggie travels to Madrid, where Heisenberg is visiting for a lecture.

At the same time, couturier Coco Chanel, a spy in her own right with ambiguous loyalties, has requested a mysterious meeting with the British ambassador in Madrid—and has requested Maggie join them. As the two play a dangerous game of cat and mouse, Maggie tries to get a better understanding of Heisenberg, but is faced with betrayal and a threat more terrifying than losing her own life.

Maggie desperately wants to find her happily-ever-after, but as the war reaches a fever pitch, the stakes keep rising. Now, more than ever, the choices she makes will reverberate around the globe, touching everyone she loves—with fateful implications for the future of the free world.

Susan Elia MacNeal is the New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope mysteries and Mother Daughter Traitor Spy. MacNeal won the Barry Award and has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Agatha, Left Coast Crime, Dilys, and ITW Thriller awards. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.

Enjoy the conversation with Susan Elia MacNeal as she talks about the Maggie Hope series.

Elizabeth Goddard discusses Hidden in the Night

Although Elizabeth Goddard’s Hidden in the Night is not yet in the bookstore, according to John Charles, you can pre-order it. Check the Webstore for the link.

Here’s the description of Hidden in the Night.

At the behest of her ailing mother, former FBI special agent turned rare-book collector Ivy Elliott arrives in Alaska to secure an unpublished Jack London manuscript kept secreted away for decades. But when she arrives, she learns the manuscript is gone–taken by the granddaughter of the woman who possessed it. Ivy sets off in pursuit, not just to save the manuscript but to save the vulnerable girl, who was previously trafficked and has no idea what she’s getting herself into.
Joining forces with Alaska State Trooper Nolan Long, Ivy must battle a blizzard, sabotage, and the worst of an Alaskan winter as the search goes on. But every answer they find only raises more questions–and the danger to their lives and to the missing girl may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Don’t miss this breathtaking race for truth set amid the glorious–and deadly–Glacier Bay from USA Today bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard.

Elizabeth Goddard is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than 60 novels, including Cold Light of Day, Shadows at Dusk, and Hidden in the Night,as well asthe Rocky Mountain Courage and Uncommon Justice series. Her books have sold nearly 1.5 million copies. She is a Christy, Carol, and Reader’s Choice Award winner and a Daphne du Maurier Award and HOLT Medallion finalist. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry. Learn more at

Enjoy the conversation with Elizabeth Goddard.

Ellen Byron and Marjorie McCown in Discussion

John Charles recently welcomed two mystery authors with connections to Hollywood. Ellen Byron kicks off a new series with A Very Woodsy Murder. Marjorie McCown’s second Hollywood mystery is Star Struck. You can order copies of both books through the Webstore.

Here’s the description of Byron’s A Very Woodsy Murder.

From Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron, a hilarious new series featuring a sitcom writer who has checked out of the familiar comforts in Studio City and checked in to the quaint village of Foundgold to run a motel. Running a rustic getaway in the woods sure beats LA traffic—until murder ruins the peace and quiet . . .

Down-on-her-luck sitcom writer Dee Stern is flipping the script. Twice divorced and wasting her talents on an obnoxious kids’ show, the lifelong Angeleno embraces the urge to jump in her car and keep driving. It’s a road trip with no destination—until she pulls into a mid-century motel filled with cobwebs and retro charm. Nestled in the shadow of a national park, it’s a time capsule of a place that, like her, could use some work. So, in the most impulsive move of her life, Dee teams up with best friend, Jeff Cornetta—who happens to be her first ex-husband—to transform the aging ranch into the Golden Motel-of-the-Mountains, a hiker’s oasis on the edge of the wilderness . . .

But Dee and Jeff soon realize there couldn’t be two people more unprepared for the hospitality business. There’s also the panic-inducing reality of prowling bears and a general store as the only shopping spot for miles. Living and working in the middle of nowhere takes some getting used to—especially when a disrespectful guest ends up murdered! Now, with the motel duo topping the suspect list, Dee must steer clear of a meddling park ranger, face her past in show biz, and determine if the killer is a local or tourist. Because as she quickly finds out, there are many things worse than a one-star review.

Ellen Byron is the Agatha and Lefty Award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of the Golden Motel Mysteries, the Vintage Cookbook series, and the Cajun Country Mysteries, as well as the Catering Hall Mysteries written under the name Maria DiRico. She is also an award-winning playwright and non-award-winning writer of TV hits like WingsJust Shoot Me, and The Fairly OddParents, but considers her most impressive achievement working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. A native New Yorker, Ellen is a graduate of Tulane University and lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and a rotating crew of rescue pups. Visit her at

Here’s the summary of McCown’s Star Struck.

Perfect for fans of Elle Cosimano and Kellye Garrett, in this second Hollywood mystery, film costumer Joey Jessop discovers that Hollywood buries its secrets deep when a superstar’s assistant turns up dead.

Costumer Joey Jessop is working on a movie set in 1930s Hollywood and starring two of the world’s biggest stars. The male lead is also a dedicated social activist, and the female lead, Gillian Best, is known for her lifestyle brand. After a hit-and-run near the set, Joey realizes that the car involved belongs to Gillian, and she begins to wonder if the actress has more to hide than her Botox appointments.

Her suspicions deepen when Gillian’s personal assistant, Rita, vows to get revenge for Gillian replacing her and is found dead shortly after. Gillian quickly labels Rita’s death a suicide, and the police seem to agree–but Joey isn’t so sure.

With the police standing aside, it’s up to Joey to dig up the truth—but Hollywood stars know how to keep their secrets close, and a woman like Gillian Best won’t take kindly to someone sniffing around her affairs. Joey is certain that Gillian has something to hide–and she’s determined to find out what.

Marjorie McCown has spent her entire professional life in the story-telling business, though she started out on the visual side of the craft. She spent more than twenty-five years in Hollywood working as a key member of the costume design teams for a string of successful movies that includes Forrest GumpApollo 13The FirmA Bronx TaleWag the DogThe AviatorHairsprayAngels and DemonsThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. McCown has a BA in theater from the University of Virginia and an AAS in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Southern California.

Enjoy the conversation with Ellen Byron and Marjorie McCown.