Fiction Review

Craig Johnson on the Depth of Winter Tour

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Craig Johnson is currently on tour for his latest Longmire book, Depth of Winter. In fact, he’s supposed to be in North Carolina tomorrow, but Hurricane Florence changed his plans. However, his event for Poisoned Pen was filmed for YouTube, and you can watch it, whether you missed him in Phoenix, or you’re going to miss him in North Carolina. You can also order a signed copy of Depth of Winter through the Web Store.

Depth of Winter

Before you watch the video, here’s a short summary of Depth of Winter.

The new novel in Craig Johnson’s beloved New York Times bestselling Longmire series.

Welcome to Walt Longmire’s worst nightmare. In Craig Johnson’s latest mystery, Depth of Winter, an international hit man and the head of one of the most vicious drug cartels in Mexico has kidnapped Walt’s beloved daughter, Cady, to auction her off to his worst enemies, of which there are many. The American government is of limited help and the Mexican one even less. Walt heads into the one-hundred-and-ten degree heat of the Northern Mexican desert alone, one man against an army.


Now, check out Poisoned Pen bookstore owner Barbara Peters’ interview with Craig Johnson.

Triple Play with John Straley

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John Straley

Did you know John Straley was writer laureate for the state of Alaska from 2006 to 2008? I found out all kinds of things at Poisoned Pen’s recent conference. You can find Straley’s books, including signed copies of his most recent Cecil Younger mystery, Baby’s First Felony, in the Web Store.

Baby's First Felony

Straley agreed to answer three questions for Triple Play.

Favorite three crime novels read this year.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

Favorite crime fiction author, as of today.

Walter Mosley

What’s in the pipeline for you right now?

I’ve submitted a book for the Cold Storage Alaska series. Then, there will be another Cecil Younger book. It will start when he’s in jail.


John Straley’s website is

Caz Frear, In the Hot Seat

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Caz Frear

I heard several people at Bouchercon talking about Caz Frear’s new thriller, Sweet Little Lies. It’s a debut procedural, and I wanted to take the time to introduce you to the author. Caz Frear will be at the Poisoned Pen on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 2 PM. If you can’t make it there, you can still order a signed copy through the Web Store. (It’s always fun to be in at the start of a new series or a new author’s career.)

Sweet Little Lies

I hope you enjoy the interview when I put Caz Frear In the Hot Seat.

Caz, would you introduce yourself to readers?  

Hi, I’m Caz, and I’m the author of Sweet Little Lies, the first of a series of crime novels featuring Detective Constable Cat Kinsella.  I live in Coventry, which is right in the centre of England, however I lived in London for fourteen years and still think of myself as an exiled Londoner!

Tell us about Cat Kinsella.  

Cat is a young DC with the Metropolitan Police.  She’s had quite a dysfunctional upbringing – her father is very much on the fringes of the criminal world and most of Cat’s baggage stems from her suspicion that he had something to do with the disappearance of a teenage girl many years ago.  In terms of personality, she’s an ‘everywoman’ – not your average crime-fighting superhero. Cat gets things wrong, she uses food and alcohol as emotional crutches and she can be quite self-deprecating. In short, she’s not that different from a lot of us!  I really wanted Cat to be someone readers could to relate to, at least in some way.

Tell us about Sweet Little Lies, without spoilers.

Sweet Little Lies tells the story of DC Cat Kinsella who believes that her father may be involved in both the murder she’s currently investigating and the disappearance of a teenager from the west coast of Ireland in 1998.  It’s very much a police procedural at heart however it has strong domestic/family noir overtones as Cat struggles to balance her professional responsibilities with her personal allegiances.

Would you tell us about your publishing journey? Every author’s experience is different.

My experience was quite unusual as I won a ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition in the UK which meant that everything happened a lot quicker than the standard publishing journey.  I initially entered the competition back in March 2016 (entrants had to submit a synopsis and their first 10,000 words) and then in June 2016, I found out I’d made the shortlist of eight.  I had until Dec 2016 to finish my novel before the winner was announced in January 2017 – ME! After some frantic editing and promotion, Sweet Little Lies hit the shelves in June 2017 and it’s been a whirlwind ever since!  Harper bought the US rights last year (which brings me to this blog!) and it’s also been translated into several other languages.  Oh yes, and the TV production company who made Downton Abbey have optioned the book. Basically, the past 18 months have been a complete blast!

What has been the most exciting moment of your career as an author?

There has been so many but the one that stands out is hearing that Lynda La Plante loved my book and wanted to give a cover quote.  I’ve been in absolute awe of LLP since I first watched Prime Suspect in my early teens and I’ve read/watched everything she’s ever written.  She rarely gives quotes too which made it even more special and I cried for about an hour afterwards. I just couldn’t get my head around it!  It was like Aretha Franklin telling me I had a great voice or Serena Williams complimenting my back-hand ☺ It blew my mind.

Would you tell us about your next book?  

Book 2 (yes we’re still calling it ‘Book 2’) has the same group of detectives investigating a brand new crime, however the events of Sweet Little Lies are still casting their shadow over Cat’s personal and professional life.  The main investigation focuses on the murder of a young woman and the suspect who claims his wife is framing him.  Who is telling the truth – the husband or the wife? Or is it even that simple?

You moved back to Coventry, England. Where do you take visitors when you want to show off your hometown?

Great question!  Coventry was recently named UK City of Culture 2022 so the city is busy preparing itself for an influx of visitors in 3-4 years’ time.  It’s been so amazing to see all the great arts projects in development, the run-down buildings being renovated etc. It’s honestly going to revolutionize the city!  But for now, the first place I’d head for is Coventry Cathedral – we actually have an Old Cathedral and a New Cathedral. The OC was bombed during the Second World War but the basic structure still stands, right next door to the very modern-looking NC.   After that, I’d take visitors to the Music Museum – Coventry is the home of 2-Tone (a blend of ska and punk) and the museum pays homage to that movement as well as other musical Coventrians! The Herbert Art Gallery would be my next stop and then I’d round off the day with a stroll around the grounds of Coombe Abbey before having a glass of champagne in the exquisite hotel bar!  

Of course, just 20 miles away, there’s also Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace and resting place of  William Shakespeare!

What authors influenced you?

Tana French and Lynda La Plante – who actually make an odd duo as they’re markedly different writers.  LLP really is the queen of plotting and pace, in my opinion. She’s a master storyteller and I treat her novels like textbooks.  Tana French, on the other hand, is my go-to author for stunning prose and razor-sharp characterisation. She was also the first author who taught me that you don’t exactly have to like a character to root for them.  I absolutely adore the wry humour she injects into her books.

What did you read as a child or teen that made you want to write a novel?  

I’m not sure if I was thinking about writing a novel as far back my teens but I started reading my mum’s Agatha Christie and Ruth Rendell books at quite an early age – I was definitely a dark child!   Ruth Rendell, in particular, stayed with me and I often refer back to her novels when I’m thinking about how to build subtle suspense.

Name an author or book that you wish had received more attention.

There’s a UK author called Chris Whitaker who has written two crime novels, Tall Oaks and All the Wicked Girls – both set in fictional small US towns.  Tall Oaks won the prestigious Crime Writer’s Association New Blood Dagger Award and ATWG is an equally great read, however neither has quite created the huge fuss that Chris and his exquisite writing deserve.  Here’s hoping that Book 3 will be his break-through!

Thank you, Caz.


Caz Frear grew up in Coventry, England and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel.  After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, a shop assistant, a retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter. When she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches on the TV or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.  Follow her on Twitter at @CazziF.

Here’s the summary of Sweet Little Lies.

In this gripping debut procedural, a young London policewoman must probe dark secrets buried deep in her own family’s past to solve a murder and a long-ago disappearance.

Your father is a liar. But is he a killer?
Even liars tell the truth . . . sometimes.

Twenty-six-year-old Cat Kinsella overcame a troubled childhood to become a Detective Constable with the Metropolitan Police Force, but she’s never been able to banish these ghosts. When she’s called to the scene of a murder in Islington, not far from the pub her estranged father still runs, she discovers that Alice Lapaine, a young housewife who didn’t get out much, has been found strangled.

Cat and her team immediately suspect Alice’s husband, until she receives a mysterious phone call that links the victim to Maryanne Doyle, a teenage girl who went missing in Ireland eighteen years earlier. The call raises uneasy memories for Cat—her family met Maryanne while on holiday, right before she vanished. Though she was only a child, Cat knew that her charming but dissolute father wasn’t telling the truth when he denied knowing anything about Maryanne or her disappearance. Did her father do something to the teenage girl all those years ago? Could he have harmed Alice now? And how can you trust a liar even if he might be telling the truth?

Determined to close the two cases, Cat rushes headlong into the investigation, crossing ethical lines and trampling professional codes. But in looking into the past, she might not like what she finds. . . .

Award Winners @ Bouchercon

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Thanks to Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare,, we have the list of the Barry, Macavity Awards and Anthony Awards, given out at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. Don’t forget to look for the titles in the Web Store.

The Barry Awards are presented by Deadly Pleasures Magazine. Here are the winners.

Best Novel
THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, Karen Dionne (Putnam)

Best First Novel
THE DRY, Jane Harper (Flatiron)

Best Paperback Original
THE DEEP DARK DESCENDING, Allen Eskens (Seventh Street)

Best Thriller
UNSUB, Meg Gardiner (Dutton)


The Macavity Awards are voted on by members of Mystery Readers International, and readers and friends of Rudolph’s own Mystery Readers’ Journal. Here are the Macavity Award winners.

Best Mystery Novel
Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz (Harper)

Best First Mystery Novel
The Lost Ones, by Sheena Kamal (Wm. Morrow)

Best Mystery-Related Nonfiction
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, by Martin Edwards (Poisoned Pen/British Library)

Best Mystery Short Story
“Windward,” by Paul D. Marks, in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea (Down & Out Books)

Sue Feder Memorial Award: Best Historical Mystery
In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union Publishing)


Janet Rudolph’s blog says, “The Anthony Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), well-known writer and critic from the New York Times, who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. Anthony Award Categories.”

Here are this year’s winners of the Anthony Awards.


Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day

Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton

My Side of the Matter by Hilary Davidson from Killing Malmon

The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, Gary Phillips, editor

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Jungle Red Writers

Triple Play with Betty Webb

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Betty Webb is the author of the dark Lena Jones mysteries and the mysteries with a lighter side, the Gunn Zoo mysteries. You can order books from either series through the Web Store.  And, hopefully, in a year or two, we might have a new series from her. You’ll have to read Betty’s answers, though, to find that hint.

Betty’s questions were a little different because she didn’t want to talk about favorite books or authors because she’s a reviewer.

What are your three favorite crime fiction movies?

“The Postman Always Rings Twice”


“The Silence of the Lambs”

Name an under-appreciated crime fiction author.

Kate Atkinson isn’t appreciated as she should be in the U.S.

What’s in the pipeline for you?

Desert Redemption, the tenth and last Lena Jones is scheduled for a March release. Everything will be tied up and resolved. The next series is set in Paris.


Check out Betty Webb’s website at

Triple Play with Mary Anna Evans

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Mary Anna Evans said her hat is an Oklahoma fascinator. That makes sense because she’s an Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at the University of Oklahoma. She wore this for the fascinator contest at the recent Poisoned Pen conference. It was held during the Agatha Christie tea. Evans has a grant and a fellowship to study Agatha Christie’s work, so she talked about Christie during the tea. That also explains some of her answers to my questions.

Three favorite crime novels read this year?

Agatha Christie’s autobiography covering archaeology and history – Come Tell Me How You Live

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None

Doris Casey’s first mystery, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming

Favorite crime fiction author?

Agatha Christie

What’s in the pipeline for you right now?

I’m writing a book called Catacombs. It’s set in Oklahoma City, and it involves the bombing and a cold case. It takes place in and above an underground community. Immigrant Chinese lived underground in the early 20th century. It was in response to oppression.

Mary Anna Evans is the author of the Faye Longchamp mysteries, featuring a mixed race archaeologist. Her website is The Faye Longchamp mysteries can be ordered through the Web Store.


Triple Play with Tim Hallinan

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I bribed Tim Hallinan with a book so he would answer questions at Poisoned Pen’s Conference, but I think he would have been willing to answer them anyways. (Thanks, Tim!) The author of the Poke Rafferty novels set in Thailand, and the books featuring the burglar Junior Bender said there’s so much good stuff out there that it’s hard to pick favorites. I asked him anyways.

Favorite crime novels read this year?

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

The Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames

Out on the Rim by Ross Thomas (with its dodgy characters)

Favorite author, as of today?

It sounds like a cliche, but it’s Raymond Chandler, always Chandler.

What’s next in the pipeline for you?

Nighttown, the latest Junior Bender (Release date Nov. 6). The darkest house in the world is a mansion that will be demolished in 48 hours. The woman who owned it hated the light and covered all the windows with paper bags. The term light is used throughout the Bible, and even the opening sentence is “Let there be light.” Darkness is what’s left over, and that term is only used 38 times. As a burglar, the light pisses Junior off, but there’s too much darkness in this house even for Junior.


You can pre-order a signed copy of Hallinan’s Nighttown, or order his other books through the Web Store.

Tim Hallinan’s website is