Fiction Review

Ben Winters: Meet the Author – Tuesday July 22nd 7PM

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author photo by Mallory Talty 


Ben H. Winters is the author of seven novels, including most recently Countdown City (Quirk), an NPR Best Book of 2013 and the winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. Countdown City is the sequel to The Last Policeman, which was the recipient of the 2012 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America; it was also named one of the Best Books of 2012 by and Slate. World of Trouble, the third in the Last Policeman Trilogy, comes out in July of 2014.


Ben’s other books Literally Disturbed (Price Stern Sloan), a book of scary poems for kids; the New York Times bestselling parody novel Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (Quirk) and a novel for young readers, The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman (HarperCollins), which was a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2011 as well as an Edgar Nominee in the juvenile category. In the summer of 2014 he will publish the final book in the Last Policeman trilogy.


Ben has also written extensively for the theater, and was a 2009-2010 Fellow of the Dramatists Guild; his plays for young audiences include The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere A (Tooth) Fairy Tale and Uncle Pirate, and his plays for not-young audiences include the 2008 Off-Broadway musical Slut and the “jukebox musical” Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, which is produced frequently across the country and around the world.  Ben’s journalism has appeared in The Chicago Reader, The Nation, In These Times, USA Today, the Huffington Post, and lots of other places.


Ben grew up in suburban Maryland, went to college at Washington University in St. Louis, and has subsequently lived in six different cities—seven if you count Brooklyn twice for two different times. Presently he lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife Diana, a law professor, and their three children.

Familiar faces, places fill Kahn’s latest thriller

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May 29, 2014 FACE VALUE by Michael Kahn will be available starting Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014. 260 pages, Poisoned Pen Press.

Familiar faces, places fill Kahn’s latest thriller



By: Lora Wegman

May 29, 2014


What puts a chill up your spine? Murder? Financial deception? Toiling at a big law firm?

If it’s all three, you’ll likely enjoy “Face Value,” St. Louis attorney Michael Kahn’s latest legal thriller.

Kahn, of counsel at Capes, Sokol, Goodman & Sarachan in St. Louis, has been writing the Rachel Gold mystery series for more than two decades. “Face Value” is the ninth installment. The title refers to the novel’s intriguing premise: What if you could catch a killer by reading facial expressions, down to the smallest tells?

The thing is, as this story sets out, there’s no apparent evidence that there even is a killer. A big-firm associate named Sari — a former law clerk for our protagonist Rachel — falls from the eighth floor of a downtown St. Louis parking garage, and her death is ruled a suicide. The mystery comes in after the memorial service, when a co-worker tells Rachel he believes Sari was murdered.

The co-worker, a mailroom employee named Stanley, isn’t relying on mere instinct. Stanley has Asperger’s, and while socially challenged, he’s a genius who has taught himself to read emotions by analyzing minute facial expressions. He’s convinced Sari wasn’t depressed, just agitated, and wouldn’t have jumped.

Rachel, Stanley and others embark on a quiet investigation to figure out who at the law firm has something to hide. This involves the creation of an elaborate video tribute to the victim, requiring recorded interviews of seemingly everyone at the firm so their reactions can be put under Stanley’s mental microscope.

The execution of this project gives Kahn the opportunity to paint some unflattering but amusing peripheral characters. Take for instance, the introduction of the unfortunately named Dick Neeler, a firm partner/marketing flack:

Neeler was, in short, the perfect tool for getting the law firm’s higher-ups to approve the Sari Bashir tribute video proposal. Better yet, he was sufficiently clueless to serve as the figurehead for the project without ever suspecting any ulterior motive.

“This is super,” Neeler said. “A beautiful homage to her and, frankly, a terrific opportunity for the firm. … This really hits a home run with our diversity goals, too. A tribute for an Arab associate. Like, wowie wow wow, eh?”

“She was an American citizen,” I said.

“Sure, but she was also Muslim. Allah and all that nutty stuff. It works.”

The whole video tribute thing feels a little far-fetched — surely this would require a prohibitive amount of money and effort — but it’s a convenient plot device that lets the story get on with the face analyzing.

This story is less of a thriller than a personality assessment exercise. There are few scenes that are truly tense or harrowing, although the story builds to its climax in typical mystery-novel fashion and doesn’t disappoint.

We don’t get much of the recently widowed Rachel’s personal life in this installment. There are a few scenes of her interacting with her young son and her mother, but Kahn seems to forgo deeper character development in favor of keeping the mystery plot moving. This makes for a quickly paced story but not much in the way of emotional connection.

Missourians, especially attorneys, should enjoy Kahn’s depictions of places and people, and anyone who’s spent time in St. Louis will appreciate the use of real-life settings — Washington University, Soldiers’ Memorial, the Women’s Exchange, and the Bellerive and St. Louis country clubs, to name just a few.

If you haven’t read Kahn’s previous novels, it’s not a problem to jump into the series at this point. There are references to previous happenings — for instance, Rachel and longtime pal Benny reminisce about the bizarre case of Graham Marshall, which longtime readers will remember from the first book in the series — but those slide into the current story without need of background knowledge.


“Face Value” by Michael Kahn will be available starting Tuesday. 260 pages, Poisoned Pen Press.

Diana Gabaldon getting ready for June 10th

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3,000 copies later, THEY ARE ALL SIGNED. 


Joel Dicker at the Poisoned Pen, Thursday, June 12th, 2014 7:00 PM Interviewed By Christopher Reich

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Worldwide Acclaim for The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

“I haven’t had a suspense novel surprise me like this one in a long time. Joël Dicker is a bright new star of suspense, and he proves his serious chops with this utterly thrilling, delightfully twisted, continually shocking novel. I can’t wait to read what he writes next!” —Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fear Nothing“A dazzling thriller—stunningly original and brilliantly plotted, down to the very last twists. It’s a murder mystery, a literary puzzle, and a love story, all ingeniously woven into a masterly novel of suspense. Joël Dicker is an enormous talent, and this book is extraordinary.” —Linda Fairstein, New York Times bestselling author of Death Angel

“Talk about a web of treason and danger: This one unfolds with a relentless sense of urgency and pulse-pounding escapades, entertaining at every turn. Absolutely rousing.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The King’s Deception

“Planes, trains and automobiles: You’ll see people reading this book everywhere. An amazing debut and wonderful summer read from a writer to watch.” —Michael Harvey, bestselling author of The Chicago Way

“The great American crime novel . . . A breakneck thriller.” —Details

“Entertainingly pulled off . . . Enjoyable . . . It churns along at such a good clip and is rendered with such high emotion and apparent deep conviction that it’s easy to see why it was a bestseller in Europe. It’s likely to be one in this country, too.” —The Washington Post

“A wonderful, fun, and boisterous read, a book with an uncanny ability to both fascinate and amuse you. Twists and turns and oddball characters make this a rollicking bullet-train of a novel.” —, Best Book of the Month

“An ambitious, multilayered novel of suspense . . . This tale of fame, friendship, loyalty, and fiction versus reality moves at warp speed.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This sprawling, likable whodunit [is] obvious ballast for the summer’s beach totes. . . . Dicker keeps the prose simple and the pace snappy in a plot that winds up with more twists than a Twizzler. . . . [An] entertaining debut thriller.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Tantalizing . . . Compelling . . . There is a Twin Peaks–like fascination to the story of Nola Kellergan. . . . Readers are certain to be caught up in the ongoing drama of who killed Nola among the plethora of suspects.” —Booklist

“The cleverest, creepiest book you’ll read this year . . . The most talked-about French novel of the decade . . . Breathtakingly plotted . . . Addictively fast . . . It’s like Twin Peaks meets Atonement meets In Cold Blood. . . . The New England setting [is] immersively convincing. . . . Very few foreign-language novels make big waves in Anglophone countries, but this one seems genuinely likely to buck the trend.” —The Telegraph

“Spellbinding . . . a top-class literary thriller . . . It is maddeningly, deliciously impossible to guess the truth.” —The Times

“A phenomenon . . . A page-turner . . . Compulsively easy to read.” —The Observer

“With enough plot twists to fill a truck, it is a racy read. . . . Part master-and-disciple tale, part whodunnit, Mr. Dicker’s thriller is also a postmodern confabulation of timelines and stories, in the manner of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.” —The Economist

“[An] In Cold Blood–style investigation of a Twin Peaks–like town . . . A smart, immensely readable, impressively plotted page-turner [that] keeps the surprises coming right up to the closing pages. . . . An immersive, propulsive, continually wrongfooting twister of a tale, it should delight any reader who has felt bereft since finishing Gone Girl, or Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.” —Metro

“The tale is expertly told. . . . An accomplished thriller.” —The Independent

“Dicker has the first-rate crime novelist’s ability to lead his readers up the garden path. . . . An excellent story.” —Sunday Express

“[It] does well . . . what all good thrillers should: it twists and turns. . . . [It] has the pleasing spryness of one of Jessica Fletcher’s outings [in Murder, She Wrote]. . . . Just like a [Harlan] Coben novel, it’s very enjoyable.” —The Guardian

“A scintillating, page-turning debut . . . Expertly paced . . . tautly written . . . A powerful novel about passion, jealousy, family, redemption, friendship and love, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a Great American Novel—written by a European.” —The Bookseller

“Fabulous, clever stuff . . . This extraordinary thriller . . . grabs you, its characters so intriguingly flawed and pulsating that you simply can’t stop reading. . . . The real genius of this work is in its incredible construction, diving forwards and backwards with multiple storytellers.” —The Australian Women’s Weekly

“If you dip your toes into this major novel, you’re finished: you won’t be able to keep from sprinting through to the last page. You will be manipulated, thrown off course, flabbergasted and amazed by the many twists and turns, red herrings and sudden changes of direction in this exuberant story.” —Le Journal du Dimanche

“A funny, intelligent, breathtaking book within a book . . . There is a real joy in discovering this extraordinary novel.” Lire

“A master stroke . . . A crime novel with not one plot line but many, full of shifting rhythms, changes of course and multiple layers that, like a Russian doll, slot together beautifully . . . In maestro form, Dicker alternates periods and genres (police reports, interviews, excerpts from novels) and explores America in all its excesses—media, literary, religious—all the while questioning the role of the literary writer.” —L’Express

“The success story of the literary season . . . An American thriller reminiscent of the best work of Truman Capote.” Paris-Match

“Dizzying, like the best American thrillers . . . Rich in subplots and twists, moving backwards and forwards in time, containing books within books.”  Le Figaro

“After The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, the contemporary novel will no longer be the same. Verdict: summa cum laude. . . . A beautiful novel.” —Corriere della Sera

“Narrative talent is about making a work of art out of life. Dicker has got it.” —Vanity Fair

“A book within a book, a crime novel, a love story. Extraordinary.” —Cosmopolitan

“Brilliantly narrated.” —Stern

“A novel with all the ingredients of a global bestseller.” —Die Zeit

The Netherlands
“A story brimming with such intelligence and subtlety that you can only regret that it has to end. A novel that works on so many levels: a crime story, a love story, a comedy of manners, but equally an incisive critique of the art of the modern author.” —Elsevier

“A novel that calls to mind the journalistic investigations of Truman Capote, the murder plots of Donna Tartt and the romantic scandal of Nabakov’s Lolita.” —NRC NEXT

“Packed with action, psychological drama and . . . extraordinary suspense.” —NRC Handelsblad

“Captivating and enchanting . . . a true literary adventure.” —Algemeen Dagblad

“Wonderful dialogue, colorful characters, breathtaking twists and a plot that allows no pause for breath . . . Everything is perfectly woven together to create an irresistible story in which absolutely nothing is as it seems.” —Trouw

“Never have I felt so compelled to recommend a book this highly. . . . I was mesmerized and fascinated long after I had finished reading. . . . It has echoes of Twin Peaks and Death on the Staircase, John Grisham, Psycho, The Exorcist, and The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving.” —La Vanguardia

“This book will be celebrated and studied by future writers. It is a model thriller.” —El Periódico de Catalunya

“Masterful . . . The great thriller that everyone has been waiting for since the Millennium Trilogy of Stieg Larsson.” El Cultural de El Mundo

Tea and Conversation with Luanne Rice

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A captivating novel of enduring and unexpected love from New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice




Luanne Rice




Poisoned Pen Bookstore

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

2:00 PM

New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice returns this summer with an enchanting new novel, THE LEMON ORCHARD,which tells the unexpected love story of two people from different worlds who share an incredible bond (Penguin Books; On-sale: May 27, 2014; ISBN: 978-0-14-312556-3; $16.00).

It has been five years since Julia visited her aunt and uncle’s lemon orchard in Malibu and in that time Julia’s world has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. When Julia arrives to housesit, she finds their home and the grove are just as breathtaking as she remembered. A virtual hermit, Julia expects to pass her time in Malibu quietly, with her dog Bonnie as her sole companion, but before long, she finds herself powerfully drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard.

Roberto appreciates his job at the grove—it is good, steady work that allows him to support his father in California, as well as his extended family back in Mexico. He expertly tends the orchard but his obsession for his daughter who was lost during their crossing from Mexico preys upon his mind. Consumed by the weight of a terrible secret, Roberto finds a confidant in Julia—this small, pale woman with silver hair and arresting blue eyes—haunted by her own heartbreaking past.    

ABOUT THE AUTHOR   LUANNE RICE is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-one novels that have been translated into twenty-four languages.  The author of Little Night, The Silver Boat and Beach Girls, Rice’s books often center on love, family, nature and the sea.  Rice is an avid naturalist and bird-watcher and is involved with Georgetown University Law Center’s Domestic Violence Clinic.  Born in New Britain, Connecticut, Rice divides her time between New York City and Southern California.