Anne Hillerman @ The Poisoned Pen

Were you a fan of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn & Chee novels? If so, I hope you’ve discovered Anne Hillerman’s novels featuring Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito. She’s on book tour for Song of the Lion.

Song of the Lion

Here’s the summary of the latest book.

A deadly bombing takes Navajo Tribal cops Bernadette Manuelito, Jim Chee, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, back into the past to find a vengeful killer in this riveting Southwestern mystery from the bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock with Wings.

When a car bomb kills a young man in the Shiprock High School parking lot, Officer Bernadette Manuelito discovers that the intended victim was a mediator for a multi-million-dollar development planned at the Grand Canyon.

But what seems like an act of ecoterrorism turns out to be something far more nefarious and complex. Piecing together the clues, Bernadette and her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, uncover a scheme to disrupt the negotiations and inflame tensions between the Hopi and Dine tribes.

Retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn has seen just about everything in his long career. As the tribal police’s investigation unfolds, he begins to suspect that the bombing may be linked to a cold case he handled years ago. As he, Bernadette, and Chee carefully pull away the layers behind the crime, they make a disturbing discovery: a meticulous and very patient killer with a long-simmering plan of revenge.

Writing with a clarity and grace that is all her own, Anne Hillerman depicts the beauty and mystery of Navajo Country and the rituals, myths, and customs of its people in a mystery that builds on and complements the beloved, bestselling mysteries of her acclaimed father, Tony Hillerman.


Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, interviewed Anne Hillerman for the program. We have several photos.

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Anne Hillerman with Patrick Millikin in the back room as she signs books.
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Entering the store for the event.
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Anne Hillerman and Barbara Peters

If you would like to feel as if you were at the program, you can watch it on Livestream.

And, don’t forget. Anne Hillerman did sign copies of Song of the Lion, so we have signed copies available through the Web Store.

Philip Kerr @ The Poisoned Pen

Did you miss Philip Kerr’s appearance at The Poisoned Pen? He’s at the end of his book tour for Prussian Blue.

Philip Kerr's Prussian Blue

Here’s the description of the book.

From New York Times““bestselling author Philip Kerr, the much-anticipated return of Bernie Gunther, our compromised former Berlin bull and unwilling SS officer. With his cover blown, he is waiting for the next move in the cat-and-mouse game that, even a decade after Germany’s defeat, continues to shadow his life.
The French Riviera, 1956: The invitation to dinner was not unexpected, though neither was it welcome. Erich Mielke, deputy head of the East German Stasi, has turned up in Nice, and he’s not on holiday. An old and dangerous adversary, Mielke is calling in a debt. He intends that Bernie go to London and, with the vial of Thallium he now pushes across the table, poison a female agent they both have had dealings with.

But chance intervenes in the form of Friedrich Korsch, an old Kripo comrade now working for Stasi and probably there to make sure Bernie gets the job done. Bernie bolts for the German border. Traveling by night, holed up during the day, Bernie has plenty of down time to recall the last time Korsch and he worked together.

It was the summer of 1939: At Hitler’s mountaintop retreat in Obersalzberg, the body of a low-level bureaucrat has been found murdered. Bernie and Korsch are selected to run the case. They have one week to solve the murder—Hitler is due back then to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. Lucky Bernie: it’s his reward for being Kripo’s best homicide detective. He knows what a box he’s in: millions have been spent to secure Obersalzberg. It would be a disaster if Hitler were to discover a shocking murder had been committed on the terrace of his own home. But the mountaintop is home to an elite Nazi community. It would be an even bigger disaster for Bernie if one of them was the murderer.

1939 and 1956: two different eras, seventeen years apart. And yet, not really apart, as the stunning climax will show when the two converge explosively.


If you missed the event, you might want to watch it on Livestream.

Or, you can check out the photos.

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The interview – Philip Kerr and Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen

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Book signing

We have signed copies of Prussian Blue in the Web Store.

Steve Berry @ The Poisoned Pen

Steve Berry is on tour for his fifteenth book, The Lost Order.

Lost Order

Here’s the description from the Web Store.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history. It amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found.

Now, 160 years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights of the Golden Circle want that lost treasure-one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it.

Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is deeper than he ever imagined. At the center is the Smithsonian Institution-linked to the knights, its treasure, and Malone himself through an ancestor, a Confederate spy named Angus “Cotton” Adams, whose story holds the key to everything. Complicating matters are the political ambitions of a reckless Speaker of the House and the bitter widow of a United States Senator, who are planning radical changes to the country. And while Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt face the past, ex-president Danny Daniels and Stephanie Nelle confront a new and unexpected challenge, a threat that may cost one of them their life.

From the backrooms of the Smithsonian to the deepest woods in Arkansas, and finally up into the mountains of New Mexico, The Lost Order is a perilous adventure into our country’s dark past, and a potentially darker future.


The discussion Berry had with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, covered everything from Berry’s first book, The Amber Room, to his reason for changing the setting of his books.

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Steve Berry and Barbara Peters

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The signing line for The Lost Order

As fascinating as the program sounds, you might want to pretend you were there and watch it on Livestream.

Then, you can order a signed copy through the Web Store.

Sulari Gentill’s Australia

Tell me about the country that’s the setting for your books. I asked Sulari Gentill to talk about Australia because she had one of the most beautiful descriptions in an interview I did here. Gentill’s mysteries are set in the 1930s in Australia, and they feature wealthy Bohemian Rowland Sinclair. Her next book, Miles off Course, will be released in June. Thank you, Sulari.

Miles Off Course

The Snowy Mountains ““ Rowland Sinclair’s sojourn in the Australian high country

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The Hydro Majestic Hotel – where Miles off Course opens, and from the luxury of which I drag Rowland Sinclair to the Snowy Mountains.

Miles off Course was the third Rowland Sinclair Mystery to be released.  Rowland and I had, by time I began to write it, already come to know each other rather well.  We’d fought injustice and Fascism together through two books, I’d answered hundreds of questions about him in the press and at literary festivals and we’d talked often about his world, his time and the people he encountered.  We both knew we’d be working together for a long time yet and we were, as author and protagonist, firm friends.  It is probably not surprising then that, in this third book, I wished to bring him home to my neck of the woods, to meet the family, so to speak.  And so, Miles off Course is set in Snowy Mountains where I live.  
The Snowy has long had a place in Australian legend and folklore.  The High Country is where the great Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers begin— as trickles and streams of snow melt which gather into mighty movements of water on reaching the plains. This country is woven into the stories and traditions of our indigenous nations, the custodians of the Bogong plains and the lands around it.  They traversed these mountains for 60 000 years before the first white man, and it has become our custom to seek welcome by an elder and to acknowledge the traditional owners past and present when conducting any business on their country.

But the Snowy is also iconic in Australia’s short non-indigenous history, and in its literature.   Bush poets like AB (Banjo) Paterson wrote of it in verse:

…And down by Kosciusko, where the pine clad ridges raise

Their torn and rugged battlements on high,

Where the air is clear as crystal and the white stars fairly blaze

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky.

And where around the Overflow the reedbeds sweep and sway

To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,

The man from Snowy River is a household word to-day

And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

– The Man from Snowy River (AB Paterson)

Australian stockmen have been taking cattle to Snow Leases to fatten on the sweet alpine grasses, for generations.  The cattle would be driven up in the spring and back again before the beginning of winter.  In this way Australia’s harsh dry summer in which feed often became scarce, was mitigated.   The stockmen would remain in the mountains with the stock, for months, living off the land and whatever supplies they took with them.  They built rough huts some of which still stand today.  They caught and broke brumbies, kept an eye on stock, and enjoyed the glorious freedom of the ranges.  And of course they drank at the Rules Point Hotel on Long Plain.

The guesthouse was a rustic construction, with a high pitched roof of corrugated iron. A wide verandah surrounded the main wing, around which were clustered smaller structures including a well, stables and, of course, the amenities. Rowland glanced at the last dubiously. He’d become accustomed to plumbing.

A round yard had been erected close to the guesthouse, with a rough bush fence which straddled the trees. There were a few horses within the yard. Several stockmen perched on the fence, and followed the yellow Mercedes with slow, hat-shadowed eyes.

““ Miles off Course


My son, Atticus, by the fireplace in one of the Coolamine mountain huts…. pretending to read Miles off Course.

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Coolamine huts

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Mrs Harris who ran the Rules Point Guesthouse

I was, to be honest, initially unsure how Rowland Sinclair, in his beautifully tailored three piece suits, would adapt to the wilderness of the High County.  And I was more than a little alarmed that he intended to drive his 1927 Mercedes S Class on the unsealed mountain roads, but it seems both the people and the motorcars of the 1930s were particularly rugged.

They stopped to water the horses at one of the small streams which networked the plain. Their canteens did not yet require refilling as the day’s chill had kept thirst at bay. Many of the streams were just trickles, narrow enough to jump. Occasionally it was necessary to walk the horses through the cold water.

“Rowly, look!” Edna pointed excitedly. A lone young stallion appeared on the plain ahead. The muted sunlight glistened on its glossy black coat as it lifted its head, alert but unafraid. It studied them for a moment before turning and heading on, picking its way in a jagged line across the ground.

Moran pulled up his horse. “Bog.” He pointed. “The brumbies know how to get through it, but we’ll have to ride round. Could lose a horse if we get stuck.” He turned his mount west and motioned them to follow. The detour took them on a wide berth around the boggy ground. They picked up the fence line again and rode along it to the gate and, in doing so, rejoined the trail.

““ Miles off Course

High country


Hiking in the High Country

When Rowland and his companions venture into this region, it’s autumn.  The early settlers of these mountains planted oaks and ashes and lines of poplars in the towns bringing blazes of seasonal colour, but outside the boundaries of European settlement the native vegetation is evergreen, towering white-barked snow gums, gnarled and twisted by the extremes of temperature; Candlebark gums whose peeling bark provides an abundant and flammable tinder; and native bracken fern, lush and green in the undergrowth.  Higher there are few trees, and massive rocks stacked in strange precarious formations are remnants of a time when the snowline was lower.  The vagary of weather in the mountains is always unpredictable.  Storms build and break and pass with startling speed and intensity.

When the billy had boiled he swung it in a circle to settle the leaves and set it off the fire. “Give it a couple of minutes to cool.”

Rowland looked critically at the sky. It had turned a greenish grey. “We might not have a couple of minutes, Harry.” The clouds had gathered with extraordinary speed.

Simpson glanced up and nodded. “You’re not wrong, Rowly.” He frowned. “Try and drink some tea.” He wrapped the empty hessian bag around the billy and handed it to Edna. “We’re about to get wet.”

The rain, when it started, was an inundation. There was no introductory drizzle, just an immediate downpour. It seemed to fall in icy, almost horizontal, sheets, making it difficult to see. Very quickly the ground became slippery and they were soaked. Rowland pulled Edna to him as they stumbled after Simpson.

Despite its ferocity, the deluge did not expend quickly. The rain became hail and the landscape was soon netted with rivulets and streams.

They ploughed on through the mud, trusting that Simpson knew where he was going.

– Miles off Course

The High Country was gold country. All over these mountains there are races and digs built out of roughly hewn timber and hope.  Cemeteries on the slopes are a reminder that gold-fever was a multicultural contagion with Chinese graves lying beside German and British.  Dwellings dug into the hills mark the settlements of the Cornish who also came in search of riches in the ground.

My son, Edmund, exploring old gold mine at Adelong Falls.


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The original Kiandra cemetery ““ where old graves mark the lives of Chinese and German immigrants among the Australian born.

For over a century people have flocked to the limestone caves at Yarrangobilly, and guesthouses have catered to holiday-makers and sightseers.  The most elegant of these was Caves House which still operates today.  In the 1930s is was truly an island of civilization in the wilderness.

Caves House sprawled into the side of the mountain, a grand vestige of Federation civility against the rugged country that loomed around it. The limestone caves that attracted holidaymakers and honeymooners to the area were just a short stroll away, as were a myriad of mountain streams which offered the gentlemanly sport of fly-fishing to the well-to-do occupants of the guesthouse.

– Miles off Course

I have always used real historical figures in my novels and Miles off Course is no exception.  Amongst the most colourful is August Eichorn who once travelled these mountains selling his cure all potion (which is still available today).  A snake oil salesman in the truest sense, Eichorn would demonstrate the efficacy of his tincture by inviting all comers to bring snakes which he would allow to bite him before applying Eichorn’s Snakebite and Bloodpoisoining Cure.

The bar fell into a confused hush as Milton stared at the poised serpent.

“Don’t move,” Clyde warned.

There was a click as someone cocked a shotgun from atop the bar.

“For God’s sake…” Milton started.

“Don’t shoot! She’s one of mine.” A man stepped towards Milton. He was tall, his limbs long. A smart brown suit was tailored to his lean frame. The waistcoat was hung with a number of gleaming medallions, which jangled when he moved. His beard was grey and untamed, and seemed to have accumulated all manner of twigs and leaves. He held up a hand for quiet, and spoke to Milton “Just relax, son.”

Milton didn’t look exactly relaxed, but he didn’t move.

The man squatted, sweeping his hand slowly from side to side. The snake’s head followed, its glittering eyes caught by the movement. The bar remained hushed, expectant, mesmerized.

Milton cursed and rolled as the old man sprang and snatched the snake by the tail, holding it at arm’s length. The reptile writhed uselessly, harmless now.

– Miles off Course

Laurie Keenan

Rowland Sinclair also encounters Laurie Keenan in the mountains.  Now Laurie is not an historical figure in the strictest sense.  He was my neighbour, and was as he appears in the Miles off Course: irascible, irrepressible, bossy, good-hearted and wickedly-humoured.  Laurie had lived here all his life, and there are Keenans in all the towns hereabouts.  He took Michael (my husband) and I under his wing when we first moved here, convinced that we were “city slickers who had no idea what we were doing”.  He was right in a lot of ways.  In time, he taught my boys to use chainsaws and split wood, and how to swear, but never when ladies were present.  He told them tales of his life, some taller than others.  He took them out collecting firewood for the elderly and the frail, and insisted on calling Atticus, my youngest son, “Little Laurie”.  He passed away last year, but before he died he appointed his nephew to check in on us, to make sure we had wood in winter and had remembered to clean the chimney.  Because someone had to keep an eye on us.  Laurie typified the people of the mountains, sometimes rough, usually blunt, occasionally improper and truly kind.

Clyde introduced Rowland to Laurence Keenan, who managed the Long Plain Homestead. Keenan was an elderly gentleman who had a reputation for being willing to do anything for a price. He was a wily negotiator whose voice was none too quiet. He sized up the cut of both Rowland Sinclair and his suit, and decided the young man was not in need of a discount for the horses he wished to hire. Rowland was not concerned about the cost, but Clyde felt the need to intervene on principle. Aside from the issue of compensation, Keenan was unhappy with their plans to take Edna with them.

“The High Country is no place for women,” he warned. “The huts ain’t no gentrified country inn… all right for a bloke but it’s not somewhere I’d be takin’ my young lady! How’s a pretty lass like this going to be sleepin’ in a swag… in a camp full of men… it’s just not right… not proper.”

– Miles off Course

For me a sense of place is primarily about a sense of people and so Laurie just had to be a part of a book set in the High Country.  As much as I love this place, its landscapes, its weather, its history, I confess I love its people more.


And, I love Sulari Gentill’s descriptions of her Australia. You can pre-order a copy of Miles off Course through the Web Store.

Steve Berry Appearing at The Poisoned Pen

Steve Berry

You can order a signed copy of Steve Berry’s The Lost Order through the Web Store.

Curious? Here’s the summary.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history. It amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found.

Now, 160 years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights of the Golden Circle want that lost treasure-one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it.

Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is deeper than he ever imagined. At the center is the Smithsonian Institution-linked to the knights, its treasure, and Malone himself through an ancestor, a Confederate spy named Angus “Cotton” Adams, whose story holds the key to everything. Complicating matters are the political ambitions of a reckless Speaker of the House and the bitter widow of a United States Senator, who are planning radical changes to the country. And while Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt face the past, ex-president Danny Daniels and Stephanie Nelle confront a new and unexpected challenge, a threat that may cost one of them their life.

From the backrooms of the Smithsonian to the deepest woods in Arkansas, and finally up into the mountains of New Mexico,  The Lost Order is a perilous adventure into our country’s dark past, and a potentially darker future.

Lisa See @ The Poisoned Pen

If you didn’t join the audience at The Poisoned Pen when Lisa See appeared here, you missed her discussion about her latest book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.

Tea Girl

Here’s the summary of the book, as it appears in the Web Store.

A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.


You might have missed the program, but you can still see the pictures.

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Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, listening to Lisa See
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Lisa See

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An attentive audience
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The signing line

Even better, you can watch the event via Livestream.

And, of course we have signed copies of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane in the Web Store.

Russia in Mysteries & Thrillers

Eric Norton’s article in the March 27 issue of Publishers Weekly is a timely topic. It’s called “From Russia with Love?: Mysteries and Thrillers 2017”.    Watch for books such as Joseph Kanon’s Defectors (June), and a reprint of Ted Allbeury’s The Twentieth Day of January.

Kanon is scheduled to appear at The Poisoned Pen in June. And, here’s the summary of Allbeury’s book, originally published in the U.K. in 1981.

It’s 1980 and the Cold War continues to rage. Seemingly out of nowhere, wealthy businessman Logan Powell has become President-elect and is only weeks away from assuming the most powerful position in the world on the twentieth day of January. Across the Atlantic, veteran British intelligence agent James MacKay uncovers shocking evidence that suggests something might be terribly wrong with the election. With the help of a reluctant CIA, MacKay sets out on a dangerous and daring mission to discover if the unthinkable has occurred: is President-elect Powell actually a puppet of the Soviet Union?
Written by the bestselling author of The Crossing and Pay Any Price, this remarkably plausible thriller offers a heady mix of political intrigue and intense suspense — with the very future of America and the free world hanging in the balance.

Looking for other books that deal with Russia. Check the Web Store if you’re looking for a particular author or title.  And, if you don’t know exactly what you want to read, talk to the staff at The Poisoned Pen.

Hot Book of the Week – Peter Heller’s Celine

Do you recognize Peter Heller’s name? He’s the author of The Dog Stars and The Painter. His new book, Celine, is The Poisoned Pen’s Hot Book of the Week.


Here’s the description from the Web Store.

From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense–the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. Inspired by the life of Heller’s own remarkable mother, a chic and iconoclastic private eye, Celine is a deeply personal novel, a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmarks, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.

We have signed copies of Celine. They’re available through the Web Store.

Rhys Bowen’s In Farleigh Field

If you haven’t read Rhys Bowen’s historical standalone, In Farleigh Field, we can give you a hint.

In Farleigh Field

“A family torn apart by war. A traitor in their midst. Watch the official book trailer for In Farleigh Field, New York Times bestseller Rhys Bowen’s riveting saga of love, deceit, and family bonds. ”

Check out the trailer on YouTube.

Did it catch your attention? You can buy a signed copy through the Web Store.


Cara Black and April in Paris

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I recently asked several authors to talk about the country they write about in their books.  When I think “April in Paris”, I immediately think of Cara Black and her Aimée Leduc Investigations. Cara took the time to write a post.

Almost spring time in Paris and time for crime. Daffodils are popping up and that goes for crime fiction. Especially in April, which rides the coattails of the Paris March book fair celebrated as Salon du Livres, the annual uber Paris book publication party of hundreds of French books. Some ancient decree or Ministry directive decided that once a year the French publishers will birth their product to inundate the market for the rest of the year. So in April, you’ll find readers, the French love books, on the buses, the Metro in the parks buried in a book. I really noticed in Paris how so many people read on public transport and in the park.

Speaking of crime fiction, my detective Aimée Leduc, these days with a baby, only has time to read Parent how-to books while her partner René Friant, who is an ardent bibliophile loves Agatha Christie. I’ve had fun with this in the series and the interplay between them – he loves literary fiction and thrillers and she’s always teasing him about that. In Murder in Saint Germain, Aimée’s next investigation, it’s a plot point because René likens surveillance to a Georges Perec novel – nothing happens – and I can’t reveal how, but it stimulates a discovery.

Cara Black's Paris

In the series, we’ve seen a few years pass and the seasons change. That’s one thing I love about writing books set in Paris – there are four seasons. I live in San Francisco where we have one season – fog. But life in the City of Light is very much dictated by the seasons; the seasonal produce in the markets, the holidays and of course, fashion.  Paris Fashion week, the bi-annual clothing sales – again dictated by the government – the way you know winter’s arrived when the fountains are drained so they don’t freeze, the Paris plage in summer when the city makes a sandy beach on the Seine’s river banks and you can buy glacé ice cream.

April in Paris isn’t like the song, says Aimée Leduc in Murder in Belleville, my second book in the Paris investigation series. Mais non, I can hear a bus driver on the #29 driving through the Marais his tires splashing over the puddles and gusts of wind, it’s liquid sunshine.

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Thank you, Cara!

Cara Black will be back at The Poisoned Pen on June 7 for the release of the next Aimée Leduc book, Murder in Saint-Germain. In the meantime, you can find her other books through the Web Store.

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Cara Black and Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen