Fiction Review

Matthew Hart’s Hot Title & Ice

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Matthew Hart’s Hot Book of the Week at The Poisoned Pen is Ice Angel. The author of this Alex Turner thriller will be appearing virtually for the bookstore tonight, Thursday, Sept. 9 at 5 PM PDT, 8 PM EDT. Signed copies of the book are available in the Web Store now.

Do you want some of the background of the book before the event? Check out Hart’s article, “Matthew Hart recounts the diamond-studded story that inspired his thriller, “Ice Angels” at The Zoomer Book Club,

Here’s the summary of the book.

In this explosive sequel to The Russian Pink, Alex and Lily are thrust into a murderous cat-and-mouse across the Arctic diamond fields, dodging Chinese assassins while at the same time struggling with the personal betrayals that torment their passionate affair.  

Alex Turner and his treacherous lover, the Russian diamond thief Slav Lily, are back on the hunt. An American prospector is murdered in the great diamond field of northern Canada—a magical landscape of pristine lakes and granite ridges and scarlet vegetation.

The U.S. government fears that the Chinese billionaire twins who suddenly control the dead prospector’s company are seeking a toehold for their government in this vital northern region.

As we race across the globe with Alex and Lily, Hart keeps a heart-bounding pace with lethal plane chases across the diamond-rich Barrens and a battle between the scheming twins and Mitzi Angel, the murdered prospector’s daughter.  All the while, The Ice Angel delves into the dark realpolitik of America’s strategy while untangling the Byzantine motives that drive the diamond trade.

In this explosive sequel to the breakout The Russian Pink, Alex and Lily must struggle with the rivalry, and sometimes the deceit, that wraps their love in its coils.  

Matthew Hart is the award-winning author of the book Diamond: The History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair, was translated into six languages and made into a four-hour dramatic miniseries starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Judy Davis and the book Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal, which was adapted into a National Geographic TV special. He has travelled from the Arctic to Angola in pursuit of diamond stories, which inspired his first thriller, The Russian Pink, also available from Pegasus Books. He lives in New York City.

Ian Rankin’s Tribute to William McIlvanney

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In some ways, the prequel to the Laidlaw series, The Dark Remains, is Ian Rankin’s tribute to William McIlvanney. At the request of McIlvanney’s widow, Ian Rankin completed the manuscript that McIlvanney never had the chance to finish. But, there’s so much more to the story. Rankin tells that story in “McIlvanney and Me: Ian Rankin Remembers the Man Who Created Tartan Noir”, an article you can read at CrimeReads. Here’s the link.

And, here’s the link to the Web Store if you would like to order a copy of The Dark Remains.

Check out the description of The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin.

In this scorching prequel, New York Times best-selling author Ian Rankin and Scottish crime-writing legend William McIlvanney join forces for the first ever case of DC Jack Laidlaw, Glasgow’s original gritty detective.

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong kind of people. When his body is found in an alley behind a pub that is known to be under the protective wing of a local crime boss, the fragile equilibrium that has been keeping Glasgow relatively safe for months is shattered. Besides a distraught family and any number of powerful friends, Carter has left behind his fair share of enemies. So who is responsible for his death?

DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks Carter’s death up to the usual rivalries, but Laidlaw knows it can’t be that simple. As two Glasgow gangs go to war, he needs to find Carter’s killer before the whole city explodes.

William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction. When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case. Ian Rankin has finished what McIlvanney started. Here, in The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw’s relentless quest for truth.

“Fantastic—like witnessing Scottish noir’s Big Bang creation in the company of its greatest living exponent… Like Maradona and Messi playing in the same team.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first novel The Flood was published in 1986, while his first Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, was published in 1987. The Rebus series is now translated into twenty-two languages and the books are bestsellers on several continents. Ian has received an OBE for services to literature. He is also the winner of an Edgar Award and the recipient of a Gold Dagger for fiction and the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.

Richard Osman & The Thursday Murder Club

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If you enjoyed Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club, you might want to check out Alex Clark’s interview with him in The Guardian. The title? ‘Richard Osman: “No one’s born a crime writer. I write crime because I read it.”‘ It’s an excellent article about the author whose second book, The Man Who Died Twice, is due out at the end of September. You can pre-order a signed copy of Osman’s forthcoming book through the Web Store.

If you missed Osman’s first bestseller, here’s the summar of The Thursday Murder Club. (And, I agree with the fans who think Helen Mirren would be perfect for Elizabeth in the movie.)

New York Times bestseller!

“Witty, endearing and greatly entertaining.” —Wall Street Journal

“Don’t trust anyone, including the four septuagenarian sleuths in Osman’s own laugh-out-loud whodunit.” —Parade

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to…

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves the Thursday Murder Club.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

Or, if you’re waiting for The Man Who Died Twice, check out the description.

The second gripping novel in the New York Times bestselling Thursday Murder Club series, the first of which Kate Atkinson called “A little beacon of pleasure in the midst of the gloom. . . SUCH FUN!”

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim—the Thursday Murder Club—are still riding high off their recent real-life murder case and are looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet at Cooper’s Chase, their posh retirement village.

But they are out of luck.

An unexpected visitor—an old pal of Elizabeth’s (or perhaps more than just a pal?)—arrives, desperate for her help. He has been accused of stealing diamonds worth millions from the wrong men and he’s seriously on the lam.

Then, as night follows day, the first body is found. But not the last. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim are up against a ruthless murderer who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can our four friends catch the killer before the killer catches them?  And if they find the diamonds, too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?  You should never put anything beyond the Thursday Murder Club.

Richard Osman is back with everyone’s favorite mystery-solving quartet, and the second installment of The Thursday Murder Club series is just as clever and warm as the first—an unputdownable, laugh-out-loud pleasure of a read.

Richard Osman is an author, producer, and television presenter. His first novel, The Thursday Murder Club, was a #1 million-copy international bestseller. Critics have already described The Man Who Died Twice as “his second novel.” He lives in London.

Podcast – Michelle Richmond & The Wonder Test

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Barbara Peters, the owner of The Poisoned Pen, recently hosted Michelle Richmond, author of The Wonder Test. Signed copies of the book are available through the Web Store.

The podcast of the event is available to listen to now.

Here’s the description of The Wonder Test.

New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond introduces a tough and spirited new protagonist, FBI Agent Lina Connerly, in this exhilarating race to save Silicon Valley teens from their own parents’ ambition and greed. 

Escaping New York City and the espionage case that made her question everything, recently widowed FBI Agent Lina Connerly returns home to sell the house she has inherited in tony Greenfield, California. With her teenage son Rory, Lina hopes to reassemble her life, reevaluate her career, and find a clear way forward. Adrift and battling insomnia, she discovers that her father’s sleepy hometown has been transformed into a Silicon Valley suburb on steroids, obsessed with an annual exam called The Wonder Test.

When students at her son’s high school go missing, reappearing under mysterious circumstances on abandoned beaches, Lina must summon her strength and her investigative instincts, pushing her own ethical boundaries to the limits in order to solve the crimes. Meanwhile, an old espionage case called Red Vine keeps calling her back into the fold. While Lina struggles to balance her new role as a single mother and the complex counterintelligence puzzles she is so adept at solving, Greenfield’s shadowy dangers creep closer to her own home.

A searing view of a culture that puts the well-being of children at risk for advancement and prestige, and a captivating story of the lengths a mother will go for her son.

MICHELLE RICHMOND is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels and story collections, including The Marriage Pact, Golden State, The Year of Fog, and Hum. She received the Truman Capote Prize for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Short Story. Her books have been published in thirty languages. She lives with her husband and son in Northern California.

Catherine Ryan Howard & 56 Days

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Catherine Ryan Howard appeared for her virtual event from Ireland. She’s the author of 56 Days. Signed copies of her book are available through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of Howard’s novel, 56 Days.

No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.


Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.


When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who—and what—he really is.


Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?

Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland. Her debut thriller, Distress Signals, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller and was short-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger and the Irish Crime Novel of the Year. Her second novel, The Liar’s Girl, was a finalist for the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Novel. Her most recent novel, The Nothing Man, was a #1 bestseller in her native Ireland. She lives in Dublin.

Enjoy the discussion between Catherine Ryan Howard and Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen’s owner.

Virtual Events to Kick Off September

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Just think. This listing of virtual events from The Poisoned Pen only runs through September 10. You can find more events under Calendar on the Poisoned Pen’s homepage. Pick your favorite authors. Discover a new one. Then, check the Web Store for their latest book.

Here’s what’s coming up in the next week.

Joanne Schaffhausen
Michelle Richmond
Stuart Neville
Lisa Jewell
Lupica / Coben
Timothy Schaffert
Alice Feeney
Dervla McTiernan
Matthew Hart
Amanda Jayatissa

Johnny Shaw Discusses The Southland

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Johnny Shaw was in Croatia, but he was able to talk about The Southland from there. Shaw’s The Southland is now out in paperback. Gary Phillips was guest host for the virtual event, but Patrick Millikin, The Poisoned Pen’s noir expert, introduced both authors. You can order Shaw’s book through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of The Southland.

THE SOUTHLAND tells the story of three unauthorized Mexican immigrants living in Los Angeles: Luz works multiple jobs to provide for herself and her teenage son Eliseo. Nadia, a former journalist with PTSD, fled Mexico and tries to stay hidden from the dangerous men that she exposed in Sinaloa. Ostelinda works as a laborer in a garment factory, having been deceived by coyotes and imprisoned in the same building since her arrival. Their lives intersect through terrifying circumstance that clarify and contrast the horrors of existence. When Eliseo goes missing, Luz is lost. She doesn’t trust the authorities to help. One wrong move could get her deported. Luz has no option but to investigate her son’s disappearance on her own. Engaging Nadia and her roommate, they navigate an increasingly hostile American environment in an effort to reunite Luz’s small family. When Luz and Nadia uncover a link to the people that run the garment factory, the two women become determined to save more than just Luz’s son. THE SOUTHLAND is a crime story, but more than that, it’s a story of America and the dangers that migrants face when being forced to live in the shadows.

Johnny Shaw was born and raised on the Calexico/Mexicali border in the stifling heat of the California desert. He is the author of six novels including the Jimmy Veeder Fiasco border novels: DOVE SEASON, PLASTER CITY, and IMPERIAL VALLEY. Johnny has been nominated for the Anthony Award three times, winning for Best Paperback Original in 2013 for the comedic adventure novel BIG MARIA. He has been shortlisted for a number of awards and has won the Spotted Owl Award twice. His short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Plots with Guns, Crime Factory, Shotgun Honey, and numerous anthologies. He was the Grand Marshal of the Holtville Carrot Festival Parade in 2016, which means nothing to you, but everything to him. You can find Johnny on Twitter at @BloodandTacos.

Enjoy the conversation between Johnny Shaw and Gary Phillips, along with Patrick Millikin.

Jonathan Santlofer & The Last Mona Lisa

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Art thefts and forgeries. It’s a fascinating topic in connection with Jonathan Santlofer’s latest novel, The Last Mona Lisa. Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, hosted Santlofer for a virtual event. Of course, they discussed Florence, clothing, and art. If you’re interested in the book, you’ll want to watch the virtual event. There are signed copies available through the Web Store.

Here’s the description of The Last Mona Lisa.


“Unstoppable what-happens-next momentum.”—Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“A deliciously tense read.”—Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author

From award-winning crime writer and celebrated artist Jonathan Santlofer comes an enthralling tale about the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, the forgeries that appeared in its wake, and the present-day underbelly of the art world.

August, 1911: The Mona Lisa is stolen by Vincent Peruggia. Exactly what happens in the two years before its recovery is a mystery. Many replicas of the Mona Lisa exist, and more than one historian has wondered if the painting now returned to the Louvre is a fake, switched in 1911.

Present day: Art professor Luke Perrone digs for the truth behind his most famous ancestor: Peruggia. His search attracts an Interpol detective with something to prove and an unfamiliar but curiously helpful woman. Soon, Luke tumbles deep into the world of art and forgery, a land of obsession and danger.

The Last Mona Lisa is a suspenseful and seductive tale, perfect for fans of the Netflix documentaries This Is A Robbery and Made You Look and readers obsessed with the world of art heists and forgeries.

JONATHAN SANTLOFER is a writer and artist. His debut novel, THE DEATH ARTIST, was an international bestseller and his novel, ANATOMY OF FEAR, won the Nero Award for best crime novel of 2009. Jonathan created the Crime Fiction Academy as The Center for Fiction. As an artist, Jonathan has made replications of famous paintings for more than 20 years.

Here’s the virtual event featuring Jonathan Santlofer.

The Anthony Awards

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The Anthony Awards are presented annually at Bouchercon, the mystery convention. Both the Anthony Awards and Bouchercon are named for Anthony Boucher, critic and author. This year Bouchercon in New Orleans was canceled due to the pandemic, so the awards were presented virtually. Here are the winners and nominees. Check the Web Store for copies of the books.

Thanks to The Rap Sheet for the listing.

And the winners of the 2021 Anthonys are …

Best Hardcover Novel:
Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)

Also nominated: What You Don’t See, by Tracy Clark (Kensington); Little Secrets, by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur); And Now She’s Gone, by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge); The First to Lie, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

Best First Novel: Winter Counts, by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco)

Also nominated: Derailed, by Mary Keliikoa (Camel Press); Murder in Old Bombay, by Nev March (Minotaur); Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington); and The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman)

Best Paperback Original/E-Book/Audiobook Original Novel:
Unspeakable Things, by Jess Lourey (Thomas & Mercer)

Also nominated: The Fate of a Flapper, by Susanna Calkins (Griffin); When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole (Morrow); The Lucky One, by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow); and Dirty Old Town, by Gabriel Valjan
(Level Best)

Best Short Story:
“90 Miles,” by Alex Segura (from Both Sides: Stories from the Border, edited by Gabino Iglesias; Agora)

Also nominated: “Dear Emily Etiquette,” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October); “The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74,” by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January/February); “Elysian Fields,” by Gabriel Valjan (from California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology, edited by Art Taylor; Wildside Press); and “The Twenty-Five Year Engagement,” by James W. Ziskin (from In League with Sherlock Holmes, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger; Pegasus Crime)

Best Juvenile/Young Adult:
Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, by Richie Narvaez (Piñata)

Also nominated: Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young Readers); Premeditated Myrtle, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers); From the Desk of Zoe Washington, by Janae Marks (Katherine Tegen); Star Wars Poe: Dameron: Free Fall, by Alex Segura (Disney Lucasfilm Press)

Best Critical or Non-fiction Work:
Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession, edited by Sarah Weinman (Ecco)

Also nominated: Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy, by Leslie Brody (Seal Press); American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI, by Kate Winkler Dawson (Putnam); Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club, edited by Martin Edwards (Collins Crime Club); The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia, by Emma Copley Eisenberg (Hachette); Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock, by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)

Best Anthology or Collection:
Shattering Glass: A Nasty Woman Press Anthology, edited by Heather Graham (Nasty Woman Press)

Also nominated: Both Sides: Stories from the Border, edited by Gabino
Iglesias (Agora); Noiryorican, by Richie Narvaez (Down & Out); The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, edited by Josh Pachter (Untreed Reads); California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology, edited by Art Taylor (Wildside Press); and Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic, edited by Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle (Polis)

David Thompson Memorial Special Service Award:
Janet Rudolph, blogger and editor of Mystery Readers Journal

Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Connelly

Congratulations to all the winners and nomiees!

Caroline Todd, RIP

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Yesterday, Charles Todd announced his mother’s death. Caroline Todd was the other part of the team that wrote the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford books under the name Charles Todd. Here was Charles Todd’s Facebook announcement.

“It is with a heavy heart that I along with my sister Linda and Caroline’s sister Martha must tell you we lost Caroline this morning 8-27-21 at 10 am. She passed peacefully and was with Linda at the end. Caroline left the world a better place and was immensely happy to have met and gotten to know so many readers, authors and booksellers. She was to the very end a class act. More information will follow. I am delighted we have completed A Game of Fear featuring Ian Rutledge and the next in the Bess Crawford. Caroline will always be alive in the hearts of all she touched. Everyone’s notes have been greatly appreciated. Charles”

Caroline and Charles Todd were friends of The Poisoned Pen. There are several videos you can find on YouTube that feature the authors at the bookstore. Here are links to their most recent events with their books.

A year ago, Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore had a conversation with Caroline Todd.

I only met Caroline Todd once at a tea for librarians at Bouchercon in Raleigh. She was so kind, and interested in everyone. She asked questions of everyone at the table. She was a mentor to Deborah Crombie, who appeared at that tea with the Todds. Caroline Todd’s death is a great loss to her family. It’s also a loss to the mystery community. May she rest in peace.

Charles and Caroline Todd