Happy holidays from the Muse

All our best for the holidays, readers! Have a wonderful time with friends and family.
Here’s what’s happening with the Thalians at the end of the year. 

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Sparkle Hayter

Sparkle’s Robin Hudson mystery series has been re-released in digital by Open Road Media. Sexy, irreverent, outspoken, and newly single, Robin Hudson is a TV news reporter living with her cat in New York City’s East Village and occasionally moonlighting as a sleuth. Life in the big city isn’t always easy, and Robin keeps finding herself tangled up in outrageous crimes perpetrated by outlandish characters. Run-ins with mobsters, S&M enthusiasts, and licentious chimpanzees are all in a day’s work for Robin Hudson as she steadily moves up the professional ladder in television journalism and in and out of love with a wide variety of cute guys. The first novel in this smart and uproarious mystery series, What’s a Girl Gotta Do?, was awarded the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for best first novel and the series won Britain’s Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective.

Sparkle Hayter has been a journalist for CNN and other news organizations, a stringer in Afghanistan, a producer in Bollywood, a stand-up comic in New York, a caretaker for an elderly parent in Canada, and a novelist of seven books. She currently lives in Canada with her rescued Nepali street dog, Alice, and is working on a new book.  Amazon       Barnes & Noble      Mysterious Galaxy

Gary Phillips

Birthed full-blown in the comics mini-series, Angeltown, L.A. private eye Nate Hollis makes the jump to prose in six new short stories in Hollis, P.I. New York Times bestseller Juliet Blackwell, acclaimed young crime writer Aaron Philip Clark, new pulp luminaries Bobby Nash and Derrick Ferguson join Hollis’ creator Gary Phillips in penning these tales.  As Kevin Burton Smith in Mystery Scene said of the character, “Slick as spit, big-shouldered Hollis walks the walk and talks the talk…”  In tradepaper and e-book from Pro Se Productions — http://tinyurl.com/kycvqqz

J.D. Rhoades

J.D. Rhoades’s first three Jack Keller books are being re-issued in e-book format and are available for Pre-order at Amazon. His first new hardcover in six years (and the fourth Keller book) DEVILS AND DUST is also available for pre-order.

Lise McClendon

New this week is Lise McClendon’s Bennett Sisters series novella, fresh out for the holidays. ‘Give Him the Ooh-la-la’ is the third installment in the series, after last summer’s ‘The Girl in the Empty Dress.’  Fun, food, wine, fraud, and Frenchmen feature in this book set in New York City. Look out for the drag queen and more as Merle Bennett juggles her French policeman, family holiday drama, and more than a bit of wine intrigue.

Amazon       Barnes & Noble

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Summer reading anyone?

So what are you reading this summer?

Got something new on your Kindle or Nook or iPad? Time to load up for vacation, trips, and lying around in the hammock. Here’s what the T-PAC crowd has written recently, plus some tantalizing new stuff coming out soon.

BP_FC_low_resBLACK PULP, co-edited and contributed to by Gary Phillips, is out now.  It’s an anthology of original stories featuring black characters in leading roles in retro stories running the genre gamut.  Black Pulp is rip-roaring fun offering exciting tales of derring-do from larger-than-life heroes and heroines; aviators in sky battles, lords of the jungle, criminal masterminds, pirates battling slavers and the walking dead, gadget-wielding soldiers-of-fortune saving the world to mysterious mystics.  Available in ebook and print-on-demand, and here’s a riveting review on Los Angeles Review of Books

“Literature for the masses kindled the imagination and used our reading skills so that we could regale ourselves in the cold chambers of alienation and poverty. We could become Doc Savage or The Shadow, Conan the Barbarian or the brooding King Kull and make a difference in a world definitely gone wrong.”–Walter Mosley from his introduction.

 

Redemption, by Kate Flora

Kate Flora’s Redemption takes us to Portland, Maine, but not to the postcard Maine, or to the action-packed world of police procedurals where handsome big city detectives eat, sleep (with sexy broads,) drink, get beat up (occasionally, and with little bruising), and solve complicated high powered crimes that save the world from catastrophe. No, Kate Flora’s detective, Joe Burgess, is a regular guy. He wishes he could take more showers and get more sleep. He argues with his girlfriend and she moves out. He’s not always happy with his fellow police. And the murder he’s trying to solve in REDEMPION is that of an alcoholic Vietnam vet who has PTSD and supports himself by collecting bottles in the streets of Portland. Flora takes us inside Joe’s world and shows us the underside of Vacationland. It’s not pretty. But it’s real, and Joe is real. Justice ain’t easy. Reading REDEMPTION, I wanted to believe that Joe Burgess wasn’t fictional. Because if I’m ever in trouble, he’s the guy I’d want on my side. In the meantime, I’ll take more books about him from Kate Flora. — Amazon reviewer

Louise’s Gamble, by Sarah R. Shaber

“Shaber brews a delightful mix of feminine wiles (long before women’s liberation) and real-life history that will keep readers turning the pages.”–Publishers Weekly
“Shaber plunges readers into the life of a widow, a working woman in the middle of the war-time shortages and secrets.The suspense and details of life in 1942 all add up to a fascinating story.”-Lesa’s Book Reviews
“This is the second in a series set in Washington, DC during WWII.  Shaber has created a wonderful cast of characters, and the descriptions of 1940s life, including shopping, dining at the Mayflower Hotel, working at the OSS, and living at a boarding house make for a wonderfully entertaining read.”–Historical Novel Society

Angel Among Us, by Katy Munger

Munger follows Angel of Darkness (2012) with another installment in the adventures of Kevin Fahey, the Dead Detective, who continues his postmortem roaming in a small Delaware town, seeking redemption for his past misdeeds. His latest effort involves the disappearance of Arcelia Gallagher. The beloved, pregnant preschool teacher’s distraught husband doesn’t know that his wife has a violent past. The illegal-immigrant community in the town may know why she is missing, but its members are too afraid to speak up. The police investigation keeps officers returning to the local Catholic church and to Delmonte House, a recently restored mansion. The search will keep readers in suspense as officers look for Arcelia, and Fahey stalks the mansion’s halls. Will the police locate Arcelia and will she be alive? Readers who enjoy Mary Stanton’s Beaufort & Company novels will like this series as well, but it will also appeal to procedural fans who can accept the paranormal angle. –Barbara Bibel, BOOKLIST

BROKEN-SHIELD-HI-RESBroken Shield, by J.D. Rhoades

Chief Deputy Tim Buckthorn and his beloved hometown of Pine Lake thought they’d seen the last of FBI agent Tony Wolf. But when evidence of a kidnapping literally falls from the sky, Wolf returns to assist in the search for an abducted young girl. Buckthorn, Wolf, and brilliant FBI prodigy Leila Dushane race against the clock to piece the clues together. When the evil they find follows them home, Pine Lake once again suffers terrible tragedy at the hands of violent and lawless men. Tim Buckthorn, who’s lived his life as a sworn officer of the law, will have to cross every line he ever knew on a quest to protect the people and the place he loves.

“A blistering follow-up to BREAKING COVER. The prose is fast and smart, the pace frantic and the characters driven, dangerous and yet full of heart. BROKEN SHIELD reaffirms JD Rhoades’ position as the king of redneck noir.” -Zoë Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox crime thriller series

Deus ex Machina, by Sparkle Hayter

Two short stories. In Deus ex Machina, a starving writer splurges on a cab ride after missing the last Metro, and ends up on an unexpected journey. In Diary of Sue Peaner, things get a little too real for a reality show contestant.

Open Season on Lawyers, by Taffy Cannon

“Somebody was killing the sleazy lawyers of Los Angeles. In the beginning, hardly anyone even noticed,” begins Taffy Cannon’s (Guns and Roses) sharply clever Open Season on Lawyers. LAPD homicide detective Joanna Davis pursues a murderer whose vengeance takes strange parallels to the lawyers’ perceived crimes (a lawyer who defended a caterer against charges of food poisoning later dies of it, for example); readers just might be torn between wanting her to catch him and wanting him to get away. — Publishers Weekly. This classic from Taffy Cannon is now available for Kindle.

        Coming soon!

plan x mockup 12Rory Tate (also known as Lise McClendon) has a new thriller coming out in early June. PLAN X tells the intriguing story of police officer Cody Byrne, charged with finding the next-of-kin for a professor of Shakespeare injured in a lab explosion. What should be a simple task leads to ancient manuscripts that may or may not be truly Shakespearean and secrets someone is trying very hard to keep.
PLAN X is both thrilling and sophisticated. In a serpentine story that races from small-town Montana to the vaulted halls of Windsor Castle, nothing is as it seems, including the works of the great Shakespeare himself. Former military and current police officer Cody Byrne is unforgettable–a heroine you want to root for. I love this book! –New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author J. Carson Black

A thrilling police procedural as (Iraqi war veteran turned) police officer Cody Byrne investigates the death of a Montana professor who may have been hiding one of the biggest secrets in academia—or perpetuating one of the biggest frauds—one that could scandalize the royal family of Great Britain. An entertaining read!     –Robin Burcell, award-winning author of THE BLACK LIST

Crime Fiction Is People!

by J.D. Rhoades

Back when I was in college (UNC-Chapel Hill), I took some classes in the creative writing curriculum. At the time, I was writing short stories in the genres I loved: science fiction and mystery. My professor was rather sniffy about genre fiction. Mystery, he claimed, was a lesser form of writing because it relied on puzzles and on “tricking” the reader. But he reserved his special scorn for science fiction. Sci-fi, he claimed, could not be real literature, depending as it did on gimmicks and deus ex machina. But, I protested, what about Kurt Vonnegut? What are Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat’s Cradle if not science fiction? He just smiled indulgently and told me that Vonnegut wasn’t really a science fiction writer, he just used the conventions of the genre in literary fiction.

I could have strangled the man. Some days, I’m amazed that I didn’t.

It’s an old and irritating prejudice: genre fiction can’t possibly be real literature. If it’s good enough to be real literature, it’s not genre fiction. I was pondering this recently while reading a book lent to me by a friend, Tim O’Brien’s 1994 novel In the Lake of the Woods.

By any measure, this is a mystery story: Kathy Wade, the wife of failed Senatorial candidate John Wade, has disappeared from the cabin where the couple went to regroup after the collapse of the campaign. Did he kill her? Did she run off? Did she die by accident? As the story unfolds, the crimes of Wade’s past come to light. It’s a riveting book, gripping from the first page to the last. It’s brilliantly and evocatively written. And, as I said, clearly a mystery, or, to be even more accurate, crime fiction. Yet in none of the reviews or accolades I’ve read for this book is it referred to as such. That, I suppose, would make it less literary. Less serious.

As Nero Wolfe would say, Pfui.

Another book I’ve read and loved recently is Laura Lippman’s The Most Dangerous Thing, which I got for Christmas.

Like In the Lake of the Woods, The Most Dangerous Thing deals with the repercussions of an old crime that casts a long and blighted shadow down through the lives of five childhood friends. It’s a fantastic book, filled with complicated and realistic (and seriously screwed up) characters. The prose is simply stunning. I’d put this book up against any so-called ‘literary’ fiction you’d care to name.

Laura, bless her, is unapologetic about calling her books crime fiction. And yet, inevitably, some reviewer has to come along and claim that her work, or some other other work of crime fiction, or sf, or romance “transcends genre”, because it’s well-written, as if being good disqualifies it from being genre.

These works don’t transcend genre; they show us how good the genre can be. They do that because the authors realize that, at their heart, these are stories not about crimes, but about the people affected by them. It’s not the mystery that pulls us in, it’s the people. It’s not the mysteries that bring us back to series characters like Casey Jones, Robin Hudson, Simon Shaw, et. al.; it’s the characters themselves, and often the supporting cast.

Don’t get me wrong, plot is important. But plot alone without characters you care about is…well, it’s exactly the sort of crap that my professor looked down on. And characters without plot…well, it’s exactly the sort of crap that all to often passes for literary fiction these days.

Tell us, if you would, about some books you’ve read that weren’t called mysteries—but should have been. Or some books that you think, in the words of critic Oline Cogdill, don’t “transcend” the genre, but instead elevate it.

Happy new electronic year!

Got a new Nook or Kindle? Lots of folks are jumping on the e-book bandwagon and as authors we are all thrilled to get more folks reading fiction, whether ours or somebody else’s. Several of us here at Thalia Press Authors Co-op have free or specially priced e-books right now. Go forth and load up those e-readers!

Gary Phillips is offering up up a free holiday story for everyone — The Kwanzaa Initiative at FourStory.

Sparkle Hayter has the first book in her very funny Robin Hudson series,  available in many formats for free at Smashwords.com

Katy Munger is offering many of her mysteries for free for Amazon Prime members. Her Casey Jones mysteries are a kick-ass ride. Check them out!

Rory Tate (that’s Lise McClendon) is also offering up her new thriller Jump Cut for free to Amazon Prime members who can borrow books for Kindle.

And don’t forget DEAD OF WINTER, the short story anthology for your Kindle and Nook. Chilling stories from bestselling mystery writers for only $4.99.

Subscribe to the blog to find out about future promotions and free e-books.