Fiction Review

Lefty Award Nominations

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On Monday, January 13, Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare announced the Lefty Award Nominations for 2020. Check the Web Store for the nominated books. Congratulations to all of the nominees, with a special shout-out to Wendall Thomas whose Drowned Under is from Poisoned Pen Press.

Here are the nominations, as announced.


Left Coast Crime 2020, “Murder’s a Beach,” will be presenting four Lefty Awards at the 30th annual LCC convention, to be held in San Diego in March: humorous, historical, debut, and best. The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 14, at the Marriot Mission Valley in San Diego. The award nominees have been selected by this and last years’ convention registrants.LCC is delighted to announce the 2020 Lefty nominees for books published in 2019. Congratulations to all!

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel:
Fatal Cajun Festival, by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane)
Murder from Scratch, by Leslie Karst (Crooked Lane)
The Subject of Malice, by Cynthia Kuhn (Henery Press)
Scot & Soda, by Catriona McPherson (Midnight Ink)
Drowned Under, by Wendall Thomas (Poisoned Pen Press)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (for books set before 1970):
Murder Knocks Twice, by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
The Pearl Dagger, by L.A. Chandlar (Kensington)
A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
The Body in Griffith Park, by Jennifer Kincheloe (Seventh Street)
The Satapur Moonstone, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel:
The Ninja Daughter, by Tori Eldridge (Agora)
Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton)
One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House)
Three-Fifths, by John Vercher (Agora)
Murderabilia, by Carl Vonderau (Midnight Ink)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories):
Your House Will Pay, by Steph Cha (Ecco)
Borrowed Time, by Tracy Clark (Kensington)
Lost Tomorrows, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview)
They All Fall Down, by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge)
Heaven, My Home, by Attica Locke (Mulholland)

The Left Coast Crime Convention is an annual event sponsored by mystery fans, both readers and authors. Held in the western half of North America, LCC’s intent is to host an event where readers, authors, critics, librarians, publishers, and other fans can gather in convivial surroundings to pursue their mutual interests. Lefty Awards have been given since 1996.The 30th annual Left Coast Crime Convention will take place in San Diego, California, March 12–15, 2020. This year’s Guests of Honor are authors Rachel Howzell Hall and T. Jefferson Parker. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is the Fan Guest of Honor, and author Matt Coyle will serve as Toastmaster.

Jennifer Roberson, In Conversation

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Patrick King was the host when Jennifer Roberson, author of Life and Limb, recently appeared at The Poisoned Pen. Life and Limb is the first in Roberson’s new Blood and Bone modern western fantasy series. You can order signed copies of it through the Web Store.

Here’s the summary of Life and Limb.

A biker and a cowboy must stop the apocalypse in the first book of the Blood and Bone modern western fantasy series.

His voice was rich, a much loved baritone, as he handed his seven-year-old grandson a gun. 

“It’s time we had a talk, you and I. You won’t remember it, but you need to know it, and one day, when it’s time, I’ll call it up in you. You’ll know who you are, and what you’re intended to do. You’ll be a soldier, boy. Sealed to it. Life and limb, blood and bone. Not a soldier like others are, for it’s not the kind of war most people fight on earth. But because we’re not ‘most people,’ you and I, it will be far more important. The fate of the world will hinge upon it.”

Now no longer that wide-eyed child, Gabe is fresh out of prison, a leather-clad biker answering Grandaddy’s peremptory summons to, of all places, a cowboy bar in Northern Arizona. He is about to find out just how different he is from “most people”—and to meet the stranger with whom he will be sealed: life and limb, blood and bone, conscripted to fight an unholy war unlike any other. 

For the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. 

When he does.

And Gabe, thrown into the unlikely company of a country-music-loving rodeo cowboy from West Texas, an ancient Celtic goddess of war, an African Orisha who sings volcanoes awake, a Chinese goddess of mercy, Nephilim, and Grigori, finds himself fighting a battle he was bred for, but wants no part of.


Here’s the conversation between Jennifer Roberson and Patrick King.

Sulari Gentill on The Traditional Mystery

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Sulari Gentill is the author of the Rowland Sinclair mysteries published by Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press. The seventh one, Give the Devil His Due, was just released. The series is set in Australia in the 1930s. You can order copies of Gentill’s books through the Web Store.

Sulari has written several posts and been interviewed here in the past. She lives in Australia, where she and her family and their home have been caught up in the wildfires. Her descriptions of Australia here on the blog have been loving, and just beautiful. I urge you to search her name, and go back and read those pieces.

Right now, you can read an article she wrote for CrimeReads. It’s called “Reviving the Traditional Mystery for a 21st Century Audience”, and you can find it here.

You can read about Sulari Gentill’s own traditional mystery, Give the Devil His Due, right here.

For fans of Rhys Bowen, Kerry Greenwood and Jacqueline Winspear comes an adventure-packed romp that threads 1934 Sydney’s upper class and its seedy underworld.

Wealthy Rowland Sinclair, an artist with leftist friends and a free-wheeling lifestyle, reluctantly agrees to a charity race. He’ll drive his beloved yellow Mercedes on the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed. His teammates are a young Errol Flynn and the well-known driver Joan Richmond. It’s all good fun. But then people start to die…

The body of a journalist covering the race is found murdered in a House of Horrors. An English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations dies in a Maroubra crash. Reporters stalk Rowly for dirt while bookmakers are after an edge. When someone takes a shot at him—it could be anyone. Then the police arrest one of Rowly’s housemates for murder.

Winner of the 2018 Ned Kelly Award for Best Mystery.

Other Rowland Sinclair Mysteries:
A Few Right Thinking Men
A Decline in Prophets
Miles off Course
Paving the New Road
A Murder Unmentioned
Gentlemen Formerly Dressed

Brad Taylor, In Conversation

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International politics. Crime. The military. If those subjects interest you, you may already be familiar with Brad Taylor’s books. The Poisoned Pen, and bookstore owner, Barbara Peters, recently welcomed him and hosted the book launch for Hunter Killer, the latest Pike Logan novel. You can order Taylor’s books, including signed copies of Hunter Killer, through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of Hunter Killer.

Pike Logan tracks highly-trained Russian assassins to Brazil in this blistering, action-packed thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former Special Forces Officer Brad Taylor.

Pike Logan and the Taskforce were once the apex predators, an unrivaled hunting machine that decimated those out to harm the United States, but they may have met their match. While Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill prepare to join their team on a counter-terrorist mission in the triple frontier—the lawless tri-border region where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet—they are targeted in Charleston, South Carolina. A vicious explosion kills a friend, and the perpetrators have set it up to look like an accident. While the authorities believe this was not foul play, Pike knows the attack was meant for him.

When he loses contact with the team in South America, Pike is convinced he and the Taskforce are under assault. His men are the closest thing to family that Pike has, which means he will do anything, even ignore direct orders to stand down, to find them. Pike and Jennifer head to Brazil to investigate their disappearance and run headlong into a crew of Russian assassins. Within days they are entangled in a byzantine scheme involving Brazilian politics and a cut-throat battle for control of offshore oil fields.

Forged in combat, the Russians are the equal of anything the Taskforce has encountered before, but they make a mistake in attacking Pike’s team, because Pike has a couple of elite Israeli assassins of his own. And Pike will stop at nothing to protect his family.


You can also see this fascinating conversation here.

Tarryn Fisher, In Conversation

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Tarryn Fisher, author of The Wives, was recently at The Poisoned Pen, in conversation with Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore. You can learn quite a bit about the author as the two discuss Fisher’s popular Instagram account, and her background in South Africa, where she lived until she was thirteen. And, they tried not to give away any spoilers as they discussed her new book. You can order signed copies of The Wives through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of The Wives.

New York Times bestselling author Tarryn Fisher delivers a pulse-pounding, fast-paced suspense novel that will leave you breathless. A thriller you won’t be able to put down!

“You’ll have whiplash until the very end.”—New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married. 

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read. 

You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why. 

“Nail-biting, heart-clenchingly good.”—New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Torre

“[A] lightning-fast plot.”—Kirkus

“Suspense fans will be rewarded.”—Publishers Weekly

“Some sharp twists.”—Booklist


Now, you can eavesdrop on that conversation.

Dana Stabenow, at The Pen

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Dana Stabenow, author of the current Hot Book of the Week at The Poisoned Pen, will sign copies of No Fixed Line on Saturday, January 11 at 2 PM. No Fixed Line is the current PI Kate Shugak mystery. Copies of Stabenow’s books, including signed copies of No Fixed Line, are available through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of the current Kate Shugak book.

It is New Year’s Eve, nearly six weeks into an off-and-on blizzard that has locked Alaska down, effectively cutting it off from the outside world. But now there are reports of a plane down in the Quilak mountains. With the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board—responsible for investigating aviation incidents) unable to reach the crash site, ex-Trooper Jim Chopin is pulled out of retirement to try to identify the aircraft, collect the corpses, and determine why no flight has been reported missing. But Jim discovers survivors: two children who don’t speak a word of English. Meanwhile, PI Kate Shugak receives an unexpected and unwelcome accusation from beyond the grave, a charge that could change the face of the Park forever.

Buying a "NYTimes" Bestseller

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It seems to happen more with nonfiction than fiction, but there are ways to buy a place on The New York Times BestSeller List. No, no one pays the newspaper to get on the list. But, the newspaper’s list is so valuable to sales and prestige, that people (with money) do what they can to get on the list.

Check out Sarah Nicolas’ piece in BookRiot, “A History of Buying Books onto the Bestseller List.”