Fiction Review

T. Jefferson Parker, in Conversation

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Patrick Millikin from The Poisoned Pen warns there are only a few signed copies left of T. Jefferson Parker’s latest book, Then She Vanished. So, you’ll want to order soon through the Web Store.

Then She Vanished is the fourth book in the Roland Ford series, the latest by the three-time Edgar Award-winner. Millikin and Parker talk about the author’s books and California. Enjoy the conversation here.

If you skip the video, here’s the summary of Then She Vanished.

What if the client who’s hired you can’t be trusted…and the woman you’re looking for doesn’t want to be found? With Then She Vanished, three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times-bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker delivers a new and pulse-pounding thriller.

Private Investigator Roland Ford has taken a job for a fellow Marine and a rising politician, Dalton Strait. Strait is contending with unexplained bombings of government buildings in his district…but that is not why he hired Ford. Strait’s wife, Natalie, has gone missing, leaving behind a cryptic plea for help. Strait has made many enemies during his time in politics–including some of his own family members–all of whom could be looking for revenge. But as Ford digs into the details of a troubled marriage, Natalie’s disappearance becomes more and more complicated.

Meanwhile, the bombings in the city intensify, with a mysterious group known only as the Chaos Committee claiming responsibility. Ford soon learns that the seemingly random attacks may be connected to the case he’s on–and suddenly, his hunt for a missing woman might decide the fate of an entire city.

Small Town Mysteries & Poppy Gee

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I’m from a small town, a town of 7,000. One of my classmates was murdered when I was in high school. Over forty years later, the town has not forgotten, nor have they forgotten the killer, a graduate of that same school. Author Poppy Gee is right. She wrote an article called “Small Town Mysteries From the US, Canada and Australia” for She says “the murkiest of secrets often became casual common knowledge” in small towns. You can find her article here.

Gee discusses ten mysteries set in small towns. You’ll probably recognize the titles of Jane Harper’s The Dry and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen. But, her article might lead you to some books you haven’t yet read. Check the Web Store for the titles.

And, check the Web Store for Poppy Gee’s own new book, Vanishing Falls.

One of CrimeReads Most Anticipated Books of the Year!

“This literary thriller paints as vivid a landscape as any book coming out this summer…Gee creates a lush, tantalizing world that readers will want to travel into deeper and deeper.”—CrimeReads

Celia Lily is rich, beautiful, and admired. She’s also missing. And the search for the glamorous socialite is about to expose all the dark, dirty secrets of Vanishing Falls…

Deep within the lush Tasmanian rainforest is the remote town of Vanishing Falls, a place with a storied past. The town’s showpiece, built in the 1800s, is its Calendar House—currently occupied by Jack Lily, a prominent art collector and landowner; his wife, Celia; and their four daughters. The elaborate, eccentrically designed mansion houses one masterpiece and 52 rooms—and Celia Lily isn’t in any of them. She has vanished without a trace.…

Joelle Smithton knows that a few folks in Vanishing Falls believe that she’s simple-minded. It’s true that Joelle’s brain works a little differently—a legacy of shocking childhood trauma. But Joelle sees far more than most people realize, and remembers details that others cast away. For instance, she knows that Celia’s husband, Jack, has connections to unsavory local characters whom he’s desperate to keep hidden. He’s not the only one in town with something to conceal. Even Joelle’s own husband, Brian, a butcher, is acting suspiciously. While the police flounder, unable to find Celia, Joelle is gradually parsing the truth from the gossip she hears and from the simple gestures and statements that can unwittingly reveal so much.  

Just as the water from the falls disappears into the ground, gushing away through subterranean creeks, the secrets in Vanishing Falls are pulsing through the town, about to converge. And when they do, Joelle must summon the courage to reveal what really happened to Celia, even if it means exposing her own past…


Poppy Gee was born in Launceston, Tasmania, in 1977. She spends every summer with her family at their shack in the Bay of Fires. She has worked as a journalist, editor and book reviewer and currently teaches journalism and creative writing. Poppy lives in Queensland, Australia, with her husband and two children.

Mark Billingham in Conversation with Lee Child

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If you haven’t read Mark Billingham’s DI Tom Thorne novels, you can start with Cry Baby, Billingham’s twentieth book. It’s a prequel to the rest of the series, so it’s the perfect place to start. It’s also The Poisoned Pen’s International Crime Novel of the Month. You can order a copy of it through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of Cry Baby.

The latest thriller from internationally bestselling author Mark Billingham takes us back to the origins of Tom Thorne.

In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage.

A prequel to Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead—which the Times voted “one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade”—this compelling novel highlights the case that shaped the career of one of British crime fiction’s most iconic characters.


Lee Child, the author of the Reacher books, needs no introduction. Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, turns this conversation over to Lee Child. He’s been reading Billingham’s books for twenty years, so he’s ready to talk about them.

Catherine Coulter, in Conversation

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New York Times bestselling author, Catherine Coulter, was recently the online guest for an author event at The Poisoned Pen. Her 24th FBI thriller, Deadlock, has just been released. You can order copies of her books, including a signed copy of Deadlock, through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of Deadlock.

This exhilarating FBI thriller by #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter finds Savich and Sherlock confronting two baffling mysteries.

A young wife is forced to confront a decades-old deadly secret when a medium connects her to her dead grandfather.

A vicious psychopath wants ultimate revenge against Savich, but first, she wants to destroy what he loves most—his family.

A series of three red boxes are delivered personally to Savich at the Hoover Building, each one containing puzzle pieces of a town only FBI agent Pippa Cinelli recognizes. Savich sends in Cinelli to investigate undercover but someone knows who she is.

Savich and Sherlock are up to their eyebrows in danger, but can they figure out the red box puzzle and the young wife’s secret before it’s too late?


Here’s Catherine Coulter in conversation with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen.

Karen Dionne, in Conversation

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Some authors are just better interviews than others, and Karen Dionne does an excellent job in her conversation with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen. Dionne, the author of The Marsh King’s Daughter, now has released her second novel, The Wicked Sister. Both books, standalones, but sharing a similar setting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, are available through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of Dionne’s The Wicked Sister.

She thought she’d buried her past. But what if it’s been hunting her this whole time?

From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Marsh King’s Daughter comes a startling novel of psychological suspense as two generations of sisters try to unravel their tangled relationships between nature and nurture, guilt and betrayal, love and evil.

You have been cut off from society for fifteen years, shut away in a mental hospital in self-imposed exile as punishment for the terrible thing you did when you were a child.

But what if nothing about your past is as it seems?

And if you didn’t accidentally shoot and kill your mother, then whoever did is still out there. Waiting for you.

For a decade and a half, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, tortured by gaps in her memory and the certainty that she is responsible for her parents’ deaths. But when she learns new details about their murders, Rachel returns, in a quest for answers, to the place where she once felt safest: her family’s sprawling log cabin in the remote forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns–as her mother did years earlier–that home can be a place of unspeakable evil, and that the bond she shares with her sister might be the most poisonous of all.


You can watch Karen Dionne’s author event here.

Rhys Bowen, in Conversation

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If you’re a fan of Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness books, or of Daphne Du Mauier’s Rebecca, you’ll want to watch the virtual launch for Bowen’s The Last Mrs. Summers. Rhys Bowen and Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, talk about both books. You can order copies of Bowen’s books, including The Last Mrs. Summers, through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of The Last Mrs. Summers.

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is just back from her honeymoon with dashing Darcy O’Mara when a friend in need pulls her into a twisted Gothic tale of betrayal, deception and, most definitely, murder. . . .

I am a bit at loose ends at the moment. My cook, Queenie, is making my new role as mistress of Eynsleigh something akin to constant torture as Darcy is off on another one of his top secret jaunts. And Grandad is busy helping wayward youths avoid lives of crime. So when my dearest friend, Belinda, inherits an old cottage in Cornwall and begs me to go with her to inspect the property, I jump at the chance.

After a heart-stopping journey in Belinda’s beast of a motorcar, we arrive at the creaky old cottage called White Sails and quickly realize that it is completely uninhabitable. Just when I’m starting to wonder if I would have been better off trying to get Queenie to cook a roast that hasn’t been burnt beyond all recognition, we meet Rose Summers, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent time in Cornwall. Rose invites us to stay at Trewoma Hall, the lovely estate now owned by her husband, Tony.

Belinda confesses that she never liked Rose and had a fling with Tony years ago, so staying with them is far from ideal but beggars can’t be choosers as they say. Trewoma is not the idyllic house Belinda remembers. There’s something claustrophobic and foreboding about the place. Matters aren’t helped by the oppressively efficient housekeeper Mrs. Mannering or by the fact that Tony seems to want to rekindle whatever he and Belinda once had right under his wife’s nose.

Our increasingly awkward visit soon turns deadly when a member of the household is found murdered and all clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. I soon learn that some long buried secrets have come back to haunt those in residence at Trewoma Hall and I’ll need to sift through the ruins of their past so Belinda doesn’t lose her chance at freedom in the present. . . .


I’m sure you’ll enjoy the conversation.

Christopher Reich at The Poisoned Pen

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You saw that right. Christopher Reich actually went to The Poisoned Pen, signed copies of his book, The Palace, and spoke in person with Barbara Peters, the owner of the bookstore. The Palace, the third book featuring Simon Riske, is the current Hot Book of the Week. You can order copies of Reich’s books, including signed copies of The Palace, through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of The Palace.

In his greatest challenge yet, international spy Simon Riske must face a ring of ruthless masterminds and foil a plot with global implications as he becomes the world’s most wanted man.

Life is good for Rafael de Bourbon. The forty-year-old Spaniard recently married to a wealthy English beauty, and is days away from opening a luxury boutique hotel off the southern coast of Thailand. But when the Royal Thai Police storm the hotel and arrest him for blackmail and extortion, “Rafa” is thrown into Bangkok’s most notorious jail. In desperation, he reaches out to the one man who can prove his innocence.

Simon Riske, ex-con and now “private spy,” owes Rafa his life. Once he and De Bourbon were the closest of friends, until a woman came between them. Riske rushes to Bangkok to secure his friend’s release and overnight, finds himself caught up in a web of intrigue larger and more dangerous than he could imagine. In hours, it is Riske who finds himself the wanted man.

On the run in a foreign country, pursued by powerful unseen forces who will stop at nothing until he is killed, Riske must stay alive long enough to uncover the truth behind an international conspiracy that threatens to wreak carnage across the glittering capitals of Europe. From Bangkok to Singapore and ultimately to Cannes, Riske enlists the help of a daring investigative reporter, a rogue Mossad agent, and his own band of home-grown specialists, to thwart the cabal behind the plot, only to learn its very origins are frighteningly close to his past.

Frighteningly timely, diabolically clever, and ever so stylish, The Palace is Christopher Reich’s sharpest and most exciting book yet.


Enjoy the conversation with Christopher Reich.

August’s Virtual Events

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These virtual events at the Poisoned Pen’s Facebook page are just for the first half of August. There are some terrific authors listed here, so you’ll want to watch events, if you can, and pre-order their books through the Web Store. But, watch the store’s homepage or Facebook page. You never know when an event will change or an exciting one will be added. And, if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pre-order James Lee Burke’s fortieth book, A Private Cathedral. Reserve your signed copy now.

Mary Robinette Kowal
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Fiona Davis/ Kate Quinn
Robert Pobi
Mark Billingham
T Jefferson Parker
Ricciardi/ Goldman
James Lee Burke

Alice Feeney, in Conversation

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You might not have heard the British author Alice Feeney talk about her books. His & Hers is the new book. But, Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, takes the opportunity to ask Feeney about her earlier books. Feeney’s His & Hers is the British Crime Club pick of the month, but it’s available through the Web Store, as are her other books.

Here’s the summary of His & Hers.

“Stunning. Addictive. This book should not be missed!” —Samantha Downing
“Deliciously dark…will have readers tearing through the pages.” —Mary Kubica
“Gives Gone Girl a run for its money…I couldn’t stop reading.” —Christina Dalcher
There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation.

Someone isn’t telling the truth, and some secrets are worth killing to keep.

His & Hers is a twisty, smart, psychological thriller. A gripping tale of suspense, told by expertly-drawn narrators that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

“For the ultimate rollercoaster reading experience this year, look no further than His & Hers by Alice Feeney.” —Woman & Home


You can listen and watch the entire conversation with Alice Feeney. (Turn up the volume. She’s soft-spoken.)

Jenn McKinlay, in Conversation

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This is a conversation I had to share. I always enjoy spending time with Jenn McKinlay, and I think you’ll enjoy her conversation with Barbara Peters, the owner of The Poisoned Pen. McKinlay is the author of the new book Paris is Always a Good Idea. If you order a copy of her book, you can spend time in Ireland, Paris, and Tuscany. You can find it in the Web Store.

Here’s Paris is Always a Good Idea.

One of Popsugar’s Best New Books for Summer 2020

A thirty-year-old woman retraces her gap year through Ireland, France, and Italy to find love—and herself—in this hilarious and heartfelt novel.

It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong postcollege European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most successful moneymaker is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her year abroad. Inspired to retrace her steps—to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy—Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago can help her find it again. 

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.


I hope you enjoy Jenn’s conversation with Barbara Peters.