Fiction Review

Andrew Gross, In Conversation

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Andrew Gross recently appeared at the Poisoned Pen, on book tour for Button Man. Gross, who worked in the garment industry for years, based the book on his own family history, although it’s fiction. Jeff Ayers, in The Washington Post, referred to Button Man as “another outstanding and engrossing read”. The review is here – You can order Gross’ books, including a signed copy of Button Man, through the Web Store.

Button Man

Here’s the summary of Button Man.

Following up The One Man and The Saboteur, Gross’s next historical thriller brings to life the drama of the birth of organized crime in 1930s New York City from the tale of one family.

After a string of New York Times bestselling suburban thrillers, Andrew Gross has reinvented himself as a writer of historical thrillers. In his latest novel, Button Man, he delivers a stirring story of a Jewish family brought together in the dawn of the women’s garment business and torn apart by the birth of organized crime in New York City in the 1930s.

Morris, Sol, and Harry Rabishevsky grew up poor and rough in a tiny flat on the Lower East Side, until the death of their father thrust them into having to fend for themselves and support their large family. Morris, the youngest, dropped out of school at twelve years old and apprenticed himself to a garment cutter in a clothing factory; Sol headed to accounting school; but Harry, scarred by a family tragedy, fell in with a gang of thugs as a teenager. Morris steadily climbs through the ranks at the factory until at twenty-one he finally goes out on his own, convincing Sol to come work with him. But Harry can’t be lured away from the glamour, the power, and the money that come from his association with Louis Buchalter, whom Morris has battled with since his youth and who has risen to become the most ruthless mobster in New York. And when Buchalter sets his sights on the unions that staff the garment makers’ factories, a fatal showdown is inevitable, pitting brother against brother.

This new novel is equal parts historical thriller, rich with the detail of a vibrant New York City in the 1920s and 1930s, and family saga, based on Andrew Gross’s own family story and on the history of the era, complete with appearances by real-life characters like mobsters Louis Lepke and Dutch Schultz and special prosecutor Thomas Dewey, and cements Gross’s reputation as today’s most atmospheric and original historical thriller writer.


If you’re interested in hearing Gross talk about Button Man, check out the event. Patrick Millikin from the Poisoned Pen recently discussed the book with Andrew Gross.


Joanne Fluke, In Conversation

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Joanne Fluke’s numerous fans have been waiting for the twenty-third book in the Hannah Swensen mystery series. Christmas Cake Murder takes readers back to the early years, before Hannah had even opened her bakery, The Cookie Jar. You can order signed copies of Christmas Cake Murder, and copies of Fluke’s other books, through the Web Store.

Christmas Cake Murder

Here’s the description of Christmas Cake Murder.

It’s Christmas many years ago, and topping young Hannah Swensen’s wish list is becoming the go-to baker in Lake Eden, Minnesota. But as Hannah finds out, revisiting holiday memories can be
murder . . .
With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic December hustle and bustle in Lake Eden—especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. But instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, she instantly becomes enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks and the tale of a woman escaping danger on the streets of New York. Hannah’s surprised by Essie’s secret talent for penning crime fiction. She’s even more surprised when the story turns real. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another Yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake . . .


What’s even better than reading about Christmas Cake Murder? How about watching the event online as Patrick King from The Poisoned Pen interviews Joanne Fluke?

Carl Hiaasen, Entertainer

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Carl Hiaasen’s new book is a juvenile book. Squirm might be designed for readers 8 to 12, but that doesn’t mean adults won’t appreciate the humor. Or, maybe you’ll want to pick up a new book for the child in your life. You can order Squirm and other books by Hiaasen through the Web Store.


Hiaasen says he writes to entertain. When you read the description of Squirm, you can see what he means.

Newbery Honor-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen–beloved for his modern classics like Hoot and Chomp–delivers a wildly entertaining novel involving snakes, grizzlies, a missing dad, a menacing drone, and more!

Some facts about Billy Dickens:
*  He once saw a biker swerve across the road in order to run over a snake.
*  Later, that motorcycle somehow ended up at the bottom of a canal.
*  Billy isn’t the type to let things go.

Some facts about Billy’s family:
*  They’ve lived in six different Florida towns because Billy’s mom insists on getting a house near a bald eagle nest.
*  Billy’s dad left when he was four and is a total mystery.
*  Billy has just found his dad’s address–in Montana.

This summer, Billy will fly across the country, hike a mountain, float a river, dodge a grizzly bear, shoot down a spy drone, save a neighbor’s cat, save an endangered panther, and then try to save his own father.

Carl Hiaasen tells a wickedly funny, slightly twisted tale about families, figuring out what’s really important, and knowing when (and when not) to let things go.


Better yet, thanks to Penguin Random House, you can “Meet the Author”, and hear Carl Hiaasen talk about writing.


Paula Munier’s Favorite Canines in Mysteries

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Paula Munier, author of A Borrowing of Bones, was at the Poisoned Pen earlier this month. Her mystery introduces two K-9 heroes. In a recent article for, Munier discusses her favorite mysteries featuring dogs.

You’ll recognize authors who appear at the Poisoned Pen, including Margaret Mizushima. Mizushima herself will be at the Poisoned Pen on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 2-4 PM. She’s part of a multi-author event. Going Mizushima is Scott Graham, Roger Johns, and C.C. Harrison. Check out the link to the event.


Once you read Munier’s article, or see the list of authors who will appear at the Poisoned Pen on Saturday, you can order any of the titles through the Web Store.

Kyle Mills & Foretelling the Future

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Kyle Mills, author of the latest Mitch Rapp novel, Vince Flynn’s Red War, appears at the Poisoned Pen on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 PM. He’ll be in conversation with Jack Carr. You can order a signed copy of Red War through the Web Store.

Red War

What’s this about predictions of the future? Mills recently wrote a piece for CrimeReads called, “A Thriller Writer is Always Looking for the Next Big Threat.” You can find it here.

What is Red War about? Here’s the description.

The #1 New York Times bestselling series returns with Mitch Rapp racing to prevent Russia’s gravely ill leader from starting a full-scale war with NATO.

“Mills is the only writer capable of filling the enormous void left by Vince Flynn.”—The Real Book Spy

When Russian president Maxim Krupin discovers that he has inoperable brain cancer, he’s determined to cling to power. His first task is to kill or imprison any of his countrymen who can threaten him. Soon, though, his illness becomes serious enough to require a more dramatic diversion—war with the West.

Upon learning of Krupin’s condition, CIA director Irene Kennedy understands that the US is facing an opponent who has nothing to lose. The only way to avoid a confrontation that could leave millions dead is to send Mitch Rapp to Russia under impossibly dangerous orders. With the Kremlin’s entire security apparatus hunting him, he must find and kill a man many have deemed the most powerful in the world.

Success means averting a war that could consume all of Europe. But if his mission is discovered, Rapp will plunge Russia and America into a conflict that neither will survive.

“In the world of black-ops thrillers, Mitch Rapp continues to be among the best of the best” (Booklist, starred review).

Hot Book of the Week – The Real Lolita

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Sarah Weinman’s The Real Lolita is the Hot Book of the Week at The Poisoned Pen. Weinman will be at the bookstore on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 PM to discuss and sign the book. The Real Lolita is subtitled “The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World.” If you can’t make it to the event on Thursday, you can order a signed copy through the Web Store.

Real Lolita

Here’s the description of The Real Lolita.

The Real Lolita is a tour de force of literary detective work. Not only does it shed new light on the terrifying true saga that influenced Nabokov’s masterpiece, it restores the forgotten victim to our consciousness.” —David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time. And yet, very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.

Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner’s full story for the very first time. Drawing upon extensive investigations, legal documents, public records, and interviews with remaining relatives, Sarah Weinman uncovers how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita.

Sally Horner’s story echoes the stories of countless girls and women who never had the chance to speak for themselves. By diving deeper in the publication history of Lolita and restoring Sally to her rightful place in the lore of the novel’s creation, The Real Lolita casts a new light on the dark inspiration for a modern classic.

Crime Books of the Fall

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Sara Weinman. Kyle Mills, Sara Gran. Amy Stewart. Lou Berney. John Sandford. What do all of these authors have in common? They are all authors with a new book that appears on‘s list of “The Most Anticipated Crime Books of the Year”, the 75 books that close out the year. Best of all, those authors are all either closing out the month of September at the Poisoned Pen, or kicking off October. In fact, October’s full calendar looks like it was taken right from CrimeReads’ list.

So, check out Poisoned Pen’s calendar of upcoming author appearances.  Read the list of anticipated books on CrimeReads’ site. Then, come back to the Web Store. If you can’t come to an event with one of your favorite authors, you can order a signed copy through the Web Store.

You’ll want to know what’s happening at the Poisoned Pen this fall.