Fiction Review

Don Winslow’s The Force

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Author Don Winslow will be at The Poisoned Pen on Monday, June 19 at 7 PM to discuss and sign his latest book, The Force.


Here’s the description from the Web Store.

The acclaimed, award-winning, bestselling author of The Cartel—voted one of the Best Books of the Year by more than sixty publications, including the New York Times—makes his William Morrow debut with a cinematic epic as explosive, powerful, and unforgettable as Mystic River and The Wire.

Recommended for summer reading by Amazon, Newsday, New York Times, Time Magazine, Miami Herald, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Edmond News, Rutland Herald, Seattle Times, AM New York, BookBub, and

Our ends know our beginnings, but the reverse isn’t true . . .

All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.

He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a, highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest, an elite special unit given unrestricted authority to wage war on gangs, drugs and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

Based on years of research inside the NYPD, this is the great cop novel of our time and a book only Don Winslow could write: a haunting and heartbreaking story of greed and violence, inequality and race, crime and injustice, retribution and redemption that reveals the seemingly insurmountable tensions between the police and the diverse citizens they serve. A searing portrait of a city and a courageous, heroic, and deeply flawed man who stands at the edge of its abyss, The Force is a masterpiece of urban living full of shocking and surprising twists, leavened by flashes of dark humor, a morally complex and utterly riveting dissection of modern American society and the controversial issues confronting and dividing us today.


Janet Maslin just reviewed The Force in the New York Times

If you can’t make it to The Poisoned Pen on Monday, you can still order a signed copy of The Force through the Web Store.  According to Patrick Millikin, the copies will come with “an exclusive behind-the-book essay that gives insight into the inspiration for writing The Force“.

Laurie R. King & Lockdown

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As Laurie R. King mentions at the beginning of the Livestream film, Lockdown is not a Mary Russell book.


Here’s the summary of the novel.

A community comes together when threatened by someone with a thirst for revenge in this stunningly intricate, tautly plotted novel of rich psychological suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell mysteries.

Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: A day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.

A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school’s reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day—bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald’s bright vision.

A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother’s history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns.

Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal.

But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an explosive confrontation.

Tense, poignant, and brilliantly paced, Laurie R. King’s novel charts compelling characters on a collision course—a chain of interactions that locks together hidden lives, troubling secrets, and the bravest impulses of the human heart.

Advance praise for Lockdown

“A riveting story of suspense and tragedy out of the most seemingly mundane ingredients: kids and adults preparing for a day at school. The violence doesn’t explode until we’re well into the book, but the lead-up to the explosion has the feel of a brewing storm: we know something is going to happen, even if we don’t know what it is. A fine thriller, as timely as it is gripping.”Booklist (starred review)


You can watch the entire discussion of the book via Livestream.

Or, you can just enjoy the photos.

Laurie R. King 1
Laurie R. King with The Poisoned Pen owner, Barbara Peters
Laurie R. King 2
Laurie R. King surprised by a celebratory cake

Laurie R King 3

Laurie R. King 4

Laurie R. King 5
Laurie R. King signing books

I’m sorry you can’t taste the cake. You can, however, get a signed copy of Lockdown through the Web Store.

The Todds and Hamish McLeod

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Unless you’re a librarian, you probably didn’t see the recent article by Don Crinklaw, “How Charles Todd Met Hamish McLeod: The Mother-Son Team Behind Inspector Ian Rutledge”.

The Todds

The article talks about the authors, Charles and Caroline Todd, as collaborators. It also talks about Hamish McLeod and his relationship to Ian Rutledge. The two made their first appearance in 1996 in A Test of Wills.

Test of Wills

Don’t hesitate to look for Charles Todd’s mysteries in the Web Store.

Joseph Kanon, Russia, and Libraries

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Joseph Kanon - photo Chad Griffith
Photo by Chad Griffith

Joseph Kanon, author of Defectors, will be at The Poisoned Pen on Thursday, June 15 at 7 PM. Of course, when discussing his new book, he’ll talk about Russia, and why his book is timely. Here’s an article from a recent Shelf Awareness, in which Kanon says “Russia is Back.”


Here’s the summary of the novel.

A USA TODAY “Must Read” Book
A New York Post “Must Read” Book

“Fascinating…[Kanon] is a master of the genre…[The] roller-coaster plot will keep you guessing until the final page.” —The Washington Post

From the bestselling author of Istanbul Passage and Leaving Berlin comes a riveting novel about two brothers bound by blood, divided by loyalty.

In 1949, Frank Weeks, fair-haired boy of the newly formed CIA, was exposed as a Communist spy and fled the country to vanish behind the Iron Curtain. Now, twelve years later, he has written his memoirs, a KGB- approved project almost certain to be an international bestseller, and has asked his brother Simon, a publisher, to come to Moscow to edit the manuscript. It’s a reunion Simon both dreads and longs for. The book is sure to be filled with mischief and misinformation; Frank’s motives suspect, the CIA hostile. But the chance to see Frank, his adored older brother, proves irresistible.

And at first Frank is still Frank—the same charm, the same jokes, the same bond of affection that transcends ideology. Then Simon begins to glimpse another Frank, still capable of treachery, still actively working for “the service.” He finds himself dragged into the middle of Frank’s new scheme, caught between the KGB and the CIA in a fatal cat and mouse game that only one of the brothers is likely to survive.

Defectors is the gripping story of one family torn apart by the divided loyalties of the Cold War, but it’s also a revealing look at the wider community of defectors, American and British, living a twilit Moscow existence, granted privileges but never trusted, spies who have escaped one prison only to find themselves trapped in another that is even more sinister. Filled with authentic period detail and moral ambiguity, Defectors takes us to the heart of a world of secrets, where no one can be trusted and murder is just collateral damage.


But, Kanon himself has been in the news lately. He wrote a piece for “Literary Hub” about his favorite writing spot. Here’s the link so you can discover Kanon’s beloved place.

If it all sounds intriguing, stop by the Web Store and order a signed copy of the book. Better yet, come by The Poisoned Pen on Thursday and meet Joseph Kanon.

Diana Gabaldon & Laurie R. King – Matchup

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Actually, Diana Gabaldon and Laurie R. King were not matched up in the recent collection edited by Lee Child.


They were matched up for a conversation sponsored by The Poisoned Pen. Diana Gabaldon is one of the featured authors in the book. Jamie Frasier and Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone were matched up in a story called “Past Prologue”. Here’s a summary of the book.

In this incredible follow-up to the New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller FaceOff, twenty-two of the world’s most popular thriller writers come together for an unforgettable anthology.

MatchUp takes the never-before-seen bestseller pairings of FaceOff and adds a delicious new twist: gender. Eleven of the world’s best female thriller writers from Diana Gabaldon to Charlaine Harris are paired with eleven of the world’s best male thriller writers, including John Sandford, C.J. Box, and Nelson DeMille. The stories are edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child and feature:

-Lee Coburn and Joe Pickett in “Honor & …” by Sandra Brown and C.J. Box
-Tony Hill and Roy Grace in “Footloose” by Val McDermid and Peter James
-Temperance Brennan and Jack Reacher in “Faking a Murderer” by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child
-Jamie Fraser and Cotton Malone in “Past Prologue” by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry
-Liz Sansborough and Rambo in “Rambo on Their Minds” by Gayle Lynds and David Morrell
-Jeffrey Tolliver and Joe Pritchard in “Short Story” by Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta
-Harper Connelly and Ty Hauck in “Dig Here” by Charlaine Harris and Andrew Gross
-Regan Pescoli and Lucas Davenport in “Deserves to be Dead” by Lisa Jackson and John Sandford
-Lucan Thorne and Lilliane in “Midnight Flame” by Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice
-Bennie Rosato and John Corey in “Getaway” by Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille
-Ali Reynolds and Bravo Shaw in “Taking the Veil” by J.A. Jance and Eric Van Lustbader


That’s an enticing book, isn’t it? You can order a signed copy through the Web Store.

Here are photos from the recent event.

Match-up 1
Left to right – Laurie R. King and Diana Gabaldon
Match-up 2
The audience listens to Barbara Peters’ introduction
Match-up 3
Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, with Laurie R. King
Match-up 4
Diana Gabaldon signing books
Match-up 5
Laurie R. King signing books

Stephen Hunter @ The Poisoned Pen

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Stephen Hunter, author of the Bob Lee Swagger books, was just at The Poisoned Pen to discuss and sign his latest book, G-Man.


While bookstore owner Barbara Peters introduced the program, Robert Anglen from the Arizona Republic actually interviewed him.

Stephen Hunter 1
Left to right – Robert Anglen, Stephen Hunter, Barbara Peters

After the program, he signed books

Stephen Hunter 2

Stephen Hunter 3

You can order a signed copy of G-Man through the Web Store.

Best of all, you can feel as if you were actually at the event by watching it on Livestream.

Charlaine Harris’ Midnight, Texas

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Are you ready for the new NBC series, “Midnight, Texas”? It’s based on Charlaine Harris’ series about that small town. The first book was Midnight Crossing.

Midnight Crossroad

Here’s the summary of that first book.


From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes the first novel in a series that takes place in a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).


“Midnight, Texas” premieres on July 24, but you can get a sneak peek at the series and the actors in a recent article by Carrie Bell.

And, of course, you can buy copies of Midnight Crossing and Charlaine Harris’ other books through the Web Store.