katie

Katie McKee is a Senior Publicity Manager at Putnam. She started at Putnam in 2004 and has worked in the publicity department for almost 11 years. In her spare time, she loves traveling with her family, watching The Walking Dead, and reading to her daughter, Peyton.

 

 

strangler

The Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter

The Strangler Vine has shades of Heart of Darkness with a splash of Conan Doyle and it is one of my favorite debuts of the season.  Set in the wilds of 19th-century colonial India at the height of the East India Company’s rule, this historical mystery introduces an unforgettable investigative pair. William Avery is a young soldier with few prospects except rotting away in India. Jeremiah Blake is a genius political agent gone native who can’t resist the challenge of an unresolved mystery. This unlikely duo is thrown together to track down an author who has gone missing in the untamed wilds of India. I won’t reveal much more, but you end the novel wanting to read everything you can on the East India Company and the mysterious Thuggee cult. And what’s even better is that we haven’t seen the end of Avery and Blake!

 
fatal

The Fatal Flame, by Lyndsay Faye

When you pick up a novel by Lyndsay Faye, prepare yourself for time travel. With her last two books (The Gods of Gotham and Seven for a Secret) and her latest, The Fatal Flame, you are literally transported to 1840’s New York City. Through her meticulous research, Faye blends real-life historical figures and details into her fictional canvas. The Fatal Flame once again features “copper star” Timothy Wilde, a one-man force of righteousness in a city rife with corruption. Faye is a masterful storyteller and if you love historical mysteries, this is the book to pick up.

 

 

gathering

Gathering Prey, by John Sandford

Gathering Prey is the 25th novel in John Sandford’s beloved “Prey” series. This thriller takes Lucas Davenport and his adopted daughter Letty into the unknown world of “Travelers:” a group that moves from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes. But now somebody is killing them. Gathering Prey has everything: Sandford’s trademark humor, action, and fantastic writing. But he has something extra in mind for this latest Prey installment – something no one will expect.

 

 

 

sunshine

My Sunshine Away, by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away is one of the most buzzed about debuts of the season (and for good reason). The novel has garnered amazing pre-publication praise from a few fans you might know: Kathryn Stockett, Anne Rice, Tom Franklin, Matthew Thomas, and the list goes on. My Sunshine Away tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in love with fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson, the girl across the street. But after Lindy is attacked one night while riding her bike home from track practice and no arrests are made, innocence is suddenly lost from her, him, and everyone along Piney Creek Road in their affluent section of Baton Rouge. Walsh’s writing is mesmerizing and the descriptions of his hometown of Baton Rouge create an incredible backdrop for this gripping debut.

 

theranger

The Ranger, by Ace Atkins

It’s hard to sum up Ace Atkins’ Quinn Colson series in a few lines because these books offer up so much. If you’re looking for a series that’s gritty and action-packed, yet reads more like a literary novel than crime fiction, look no further. Atkins has created such an intriguing and appealing hero in Quinn Colson, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq who returns to rural Mississippi to fight corruption on his home turf. And if you don’t believe me, the reviews speak for themselves: Marilyn Stasio wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “Ace Atkins’ killing honesty sets a new standard for Southern crime novels.” The Ranger is the first installment in this remarkable series.

 

 

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Meredith Dros

Executive Managing Editor/Publishing Manager: I am responsible for coordinating the editorial, production, copyediting, art, and design processes for seven imprints here at Penguin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

godsofgotham

The Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsay Faye

Set in 1845 as new York City is forming its first police force, this is a detective story that has been compared (with good reason) to The Alienist. The story and the writing are that good.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

yardThe Yard, by Alex Grecian

It is the late 1880s in the newly formed Scotland Yard in London. A group of homicide detectives dubbed “The Murder Squad” must solve a bizarre string of crimes, where the latest target is one of their own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

girlonthetrain

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

Stop what you are doing and read this book. Do it now. This is such an exciting, twisty, must-get-to-the next-page-to-see-what-happens novel. It starts with Rachel, who sees something terrible one day on her daily train commute. I’m not going to tell you anything else; you’ll see why.

 

 

 

 

 

brokenharbor

Broken Harbor, by Tana French

Everyone has their own favorite Tana French novel, and this is mine. The setting is a half-finished development in the suburbs of Dublin left abandoned in the global economic crisis where a family is found murdered, and what looks like it should be an open-and-shut case turns out to be way more complicated.

 

 

 

 

 

littlestranger

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is on fire right now with her wonderful novel, The Paying Guests. I would invite you to take a stab at The Little Stranger. It is one of the creepiest, most mysterious books I have ever read.

 

 

 

 

 

rulesofprey

Rules of Prey by John Sandford

I love John Sandford. In 2015, we will publish his 25th “Prey” novel, so I decided to go back and read the first one in the series where we first meet Minneapolis detective who plays by his own rules, Lucas Davenport. Rules of Prey is so scary because we get our hero’s point of view as well as the killer’s. Sleep with the lights on after reading this one.

 

 

 

 

 

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tomcolgan

Tom Colgan is an Executive Editor at Berkley Books. When he’s not reading for pay, he’s reading for play, and when he’s not doing that he’s sleeping. If your threshold for nonsense is high you can follow him on twitter @tomcolgan14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

lesserdeadThe Lesser Dead, by Christopher Buehlman

I’m probably stretching the definition of suspense to include this one, but I’ve been in love with Chris Buehlman’s writing since reading his first novel, Those Across the River. Like that book, The Lesser Dead, is a story of horror set against a historical backdrop. Since the setting here is 1970’s New York City, it’s the first historical novel set in an era of which I have first hand knowledge. Although, at the time the worst thing I had to deal with was the subway not vampires.

 

 

 

 

nightofwhite

Night of the White Buffalo, by Margaret Coel

Margaret Coel has written 18 mysteries about Jesuit priest John O’Malley and Arapaho attorney, Vicky Holden set against the backdrop of Wyoming’s Wind River reservation. The writing is so enthralling, the descriptions of the area so evocative and the characters so intriguing that several years ago when my family was planning a trip to the west I confessed to Margaret, “I started thinking about visiting my friends on the Wind River reservation only to realize, I don’t know anyone there.” I guess there is a (small) downside to writing this good.

 

 

 

suspect

Suspect, by Robert Crais

The rules force me to pick one book per author so I’ll go with the latest from Robert Crais, but, really, you should read all of them (even the non-Penguin ones). He’s a master of suspense who never fails to deliver memorable characters and intense action.

What makes SUSPECT stand out from his other titles is that this time around his protagonist isn’t human. Maggie is a German Shepherd who lost her handler to an IED in Iraq and has been sent home with PTSD. Now with the LAPD, she’s labeled as unmanageable until she meets Scott James, an officer who was wounded in an attack that killed his partner. Now both he and Maggie are looking for a second chance, but they may be getting too close some very dangerous men. Dogs don’t have nine lives.

 

devil'sworkshopThe Devil’s Workshop, by Alex Grecian

As a former history major, I’m a big fan of historical thrillers, and, boy, they don’t come any better than Alex Grecian’s Murder Squad books. Set in Victorian-era Britain, these are tales of the early days of Scotland Yard and the fledgling science of criminal investigation. The first book, THE YARD, was great, but you could just feel the author building steam as he moved through the series. In THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP a group of gentlemen vigilantes stage a prison break in order to get their hands on some particularly heinous criminals. However, things go badly wrong and instead of justice they get terror when they unexpectedly free the greatest evil Britain has ever seen, Jack the Ripper himself.

 

 

bookclubbedBook Clubbed, by Lorna Barrett

I can’t let you go without recommending a couple of good cozy mysteries. First up is BOOK CLUBBED by Lorna Barrett. Stoneham, New Hampshire is heaven for any bibliophile. It’s a booktown, a quaint village that has revitalized its tourism industry by turning empty storefronts over to used bookstores. People come from all over to browse, buy and eat at the various restaurants. Oh how I wish it was real!

It certainly feels like a visit to a familiar place when you are reading one of the charming Booktown mysteries from Lorna Barrett. Over the course of eight books, she’s introduced us to the quirky inhabitants of Stoneham which for all its appeal is murder on its residents. BOOK CLUBBED centers on something I’ve never come across before, murder by bookcase.

 

scorchedScorched Eggs, by Laura Childs

When it comes to cozies, you have to think of Laura Childs. She’s the author of not one, not two, but three bestselling cozy mystery series. Scorched Eggs is the sixth in her Cackleberry Club series. The small Midwestern town of Kindred is the home of the club, a combination café, bookstore, knitting shop and quilting supply store. That’s a lot to pack into one series, but Laura is adept at creating charming characters and placing them in jeopardy while keeping the story rollicking along.

 

 

 

 

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cmoHeadshot

Caitlin O’Shaughnessy is an Associate Editor at Viking and works with Clare Ferraro. She acquires and edits commercial fiction, nonfiction and illustrated books, including Sarah Lazarovic’s A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, which was recently featured on the Today Show.

 

 

 

 

unbecomingUnbecoming, by Rebecca Scherm

This mesmerizing psychological suspense novel follows an irresistible femme fatale from small-town Tennessee to the glamorous art worlds and seedy underbellies of New York and Paris. The perfect follow-up for anyone who’s ready to move on from Gone Girl.

 

 

 

 

 

poser

The Poser, by Jacob Rubin

When Allison Lorentzen first brought The Poser to our editorial meeting I read a good chunk of this submission and  loved it. Now that it’s finished and is coming out in March 2015, I can’t wait to reread it and see how its evolved through the writing and editing process. The main character, Giovanni Bernini, is able to imitate anyone he encounters and becomes famous for his talents.  Rubin is a great writer with a long career ahead of him and his debut novel  is one to look out for.

 

 

 

secretplace

The Secret Place, by Tana French

This isn’t technically literary fiction but The Secret Place is the kind of book that’s so well-written you stay up all night to finish it. This is Tana’s fifth book (Viking also published In The Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, and Broken Harbor) and I think it’s her best one yet. She captures the dialogue of teenage girls and their text-filled romances in an uncanny way and it’s like a smart, literary version of spending a Saturday afternoon watching Mean Girls.

 

 

 

inventionThe Invention of Exile, by Vanessa Manko

This is a Brooklyn writer who lives up to the hype – Vanessa Manko’s heartrending novel about immigrant struggles in the early 1900s is hard to put down. Incredibly well written and  based on Vanessa’s own family history, it’s a great read and equally good to pass along to a mom or aunt.

 

 

 

 

 

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Katie Grinch

Katie Grinch is an Assistant Director of Publicity at Putnam.  She’s been with the company for 10 years (11 if you count her college internship).  She has a passion for pop culture, world travel and her cat named Wanda.

 

 

 

 

 

thestolenones

The Stolen Ones, by Owen Laukkanen

Owen Laukkanen is an amazing writer who always grabs me with his nuanced ability to take ordinary, everyday people and make them the center of terrifying actions.  This is the fourth thriller starring Kirk Stevens and his partner in the new joint BCA-FBI violent crime task force Carla Windermere.   Together, they find themselves on the trail of a massive international kidnapping and prostitution operation. Before they are done, they will have travelled over half the country, from Montana and Nevada, to New York and New Jersey, and come face to face not only with the most vicious man either of them have ever encountered––but two of the most courageous women that readers will find themselves truly rooting for.

 

girl on the train

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

Reminiscent of one of my favorite movies, Rear Window, this is a British gem of a psychological thriller that I want everyone to read, so we can talk about and all the twists and turns at the water cooler.   Told from the point of view of three different characters – Rachel really strikes a note as the unreliable narrator battling her demons.  She becomes entangled in the disappearance of a local woman she observes every day from the train window.  Her interest in the case reaches the point where you question why she’s so invested and if she knows more than meets the eye.  The mystery that unravels kept me reading nonstop.

 

 

strangler

The Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter

A brilliant historical thriller set in Calcutta in 1837 written by established historian and biographer MJ Carter. The British East India Company rules India, or most of it. Its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing on an expedition to track down the Thugs, the murderous sect of native Kali-worshippers who strangle innocent travelers by the roadside. William Avery, a young soldier joins forces with a secret political agent gone native become and the unlikely duo is drawn deeper into this mystery and the dark heart of colonial India.  Not only a captivating read, but I learned so much about the time, place and the mysterious Thugs.

 

 

forsaken

The Forsaken by Ace Atkins

Atkins demonstrates why his Quinn Colson series has met with such popular and critical success, and why Michael Connelly has called him “one of the best crime writers at work today.”  Since the start, all of Ace Atkins’ novels have had roots in a true story.   The plot has ties to a 1975 cold case in Statesville, North Carolina. Two young girls were abducted, one survived to tell the story and in the wake of the horrific crime, another murder occurred.

 

 

 

lost key

The Lost Key, by Catherine Coulter and JT Ellison

I was so excited when Putnam started doing a second series (A Brit in the FBI) with Catherine Coulter and she has found the perfect partner in crime with JT Ellison.  This is an electrifying an international manhunt that begins when freshly-minted FBI Agent Nicholas Drummond, barely out of his Quantico training, and his partner are investigating a stabbing on Wall Street. Their investigation, however, yields more questions than answers and a plot twist that dates back to WWI.  This series is pure fun and excitement that should draw in fans of Coulter as well as new readers.

 

 

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Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Last week, in celebration of Halloween, Penguin Teen asked the people of twitter to share their own spooky Halloween stories in 140 characters or less, using the hashtag #TwitterGhostStory. The results were spook-tacular and a lot of fun! Check out some of our favorite Twitter Ghost Stories!

Some made us scared to look in the mirror…

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Others made us scared to sleep alone…

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And a few made us not want to go home…

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Some rhymed…

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….and some were just too real.

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Our authors even got into the spirit with a few spooky tales of their own. 

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Some left us wanting more…

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… but then came the scariest of all!

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Happy Halloween!

Share your own Ghost Story below…if you dare.


carries

Carrie Swetonic is the Director of Marketing for Dutton.  When not reading on creating killer marketing campaigns, she can be found rangling her toddler, her dog, or both, or sharing the latest picture of either.

 

 

 

 

untilshecomeshomeUntil She Comes Home, by Lori Roy

Until She Comes Home is a haunting suspense novel in which a pair of seemingly unrelated murders shatters a 1950s Detroit neighborhood.  I love a novel that transports me to another era and one that makes me feel entwined in the lives of the characters and this book did just that with its beautiful writing.  Plus, it had me guessing until the very end.  Lori Roy is a very clever writer and she just gets better and better with every book. Look out for LET ME DIE IN HER FOOTSTEPS, coming June 2015!

 

 

 

suspicionSuspicion, by Joseph Finder

Joseph Finder has a real talent for telling intriguing and original stories centered on an ordinary character who gets wrapped up in extraordinary circumstances—while managing to stay completely believable throughout.  SUSPICION is one of those novels where you continuously ask yourself “what would you do?”  When Danny Goodman, desperate to keep his daughter in the school she loves, accepts a tuition loan from Thomas Galvin, the wealthy father of his daughter’s best friend, his life changes forever. Just who is Thomas Galvin and how in over his head has Danny become?  As in many great suspense novels, the truth is more complicated than it seems.  The tension steadily builds throughout this novel and it’s especially impossible to put the book down during any of the incredible scenes between Danny and Thomas.

To say Elizabeth George excels at character development is a huge understatement.  This was the first Elizabeth George novel I ever read.  A long book, and yet every page is absorbing. Not a standard mystery, this is a more a story of the secrets and lies within a highly dysfunctional family.  The plot is multilayered and the writing is thoughtful and elegant.  This book has made me an Elizabeth George fan.

 

 

 

 

likeness

The Likeness, by Tana French

This novel has it all:  Gorgeous writing, memorable and very interesting characters, psychological thrills, and edge-of-your-seat suspense.   It had me riveted from beginning to end and made every new book from her a definite must-read for me.  She’s every bit as good as they say. Her latest, THE SECRET PLACE, is next on my nightstand.

 

 

 

 

keeperThe Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The flawed, darkly funny protagonist– disgraced police detective Carl Morck will draw you in. Add to that a fascinating cold case and a quirky, mysterious sidekick and you’ve got one incredibly entertaining book.   I love how the characters become even more interesting as the series evolves as more is revealed about them. Simply an excellent book and the start of an excellent series

 

 

 

 

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Staff Picks Pic

Meaghan Wagner is an Assistant Editor and has been with Penguin since 2010. She is definitely the MVP of the Penguin Random House Downtown softball team, despite rumors you might have heard to the contrary.

 

 

 

 

 

wherelight

Where All Light Tends to Go, by David Joy

Admittedly this is more of a story that has crime and thrills in it, rather than your more traditional thriller, but since it is hands down the upcoming title I am most excited to see coming up, I must include it. David Joy so beautifully etches out the internal struggle between family loyalty and the personal hope for something better against the evocatively etched backdrop of the North Carolina meth trade.

 

 

 

 

naked

Naked in Death, by J.D. Robb

So this whole series really could go in here, but I figure it’s best to start at the beginning. This is the first series I obsessively collected – starting with the first 10 at a library book sale in 8th grade. I immediately fell in love with tough-as-nails Eve Dallas (and even contemplated getting a copycat tattoo of her famous rose) and her bad-boy Roarke. Robb (the alias for Nora Roberts) has a way of keeping every case fresh and fun and I look forward to the new book’s release *every* year.

 

 

 

doubleplay

Double Play, by Robert B. Parker

Double Play has everything about a classic Parker- snappy, clever dialogue, great characters, villains you love to hate, intricate mystery – but set around baseball and, of all people, Jackie Robinson.  The plot crackles and seeing Jackie fictionalized is endless fun for a baseball fan like me. With great flashback interludes, it one of the best-written Parker novels I’ve ever read (and that, my friends, is saying something).

 

 

 

 

loyalty

Loyalty, by Ingrid Thoft

This book has a special place in my heart – it was the first one I recommended Putnam acquire that we actually bought. After years mired in submission after submission, getting acquainted with Thoft’s tough-but-tender P.I. Fina Ludlow and her unbelievably dysfunctional family was a breath of fresh air. The second book in the series – Identity- came out this summer and the third will follow in 2015. Keep a lookout for Fina!

 

 

 

 

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Credit: Gabriel Lehner

Lyndsay Faye

At BEA I sat down with Lyndsay Faye, author Seven for a Secret, newly released in paperback. Voted one of The Wall Street Journal’s Ten Best Mysteries of the Year!

 

How do you get in the writing mood? Do you have a certain place that you go, do you have music that you like to listen to?

That’s a cool question, never been asked that question before. How do I get into the writing mood? I get into the writing mood by reading authors I admire. You know maybe I’m going to be reading it for ten minutes, maybe I’m going to be reading it for twenty minutes, and I am going to be sort of just absorbing awesome styles and brilliant techniques and ridiculously cool characterizations as I read them. And then if I’m lucky I’ll manage to make myself stop and actually sit down and write something. So you know, I’ll pick up – it’s easiest to make yourself stop and do it a little bit more piecemeal with poetry. So you know I’ll read Richard Siken poetry, I’ll read T.S. Elliot for a minute, because I like to use very strong metaphors and I like to use vivid language, and so often reading a couple poems for a few minutes before I start writing is nice, because I can read a phrase that I think has great imagery and I can just sort of get into the feeling that way. So that’s what I often do to get in the writing mood.

 

Would you say poetry is your genre of choice then?

I think any artist who uses poetic language and I mean any medium literally. So for instance like one day I might be listening to The National, uh you know, some song off High Violet, like I’ll listen to Lemon World three times and that is beautiful poetry. You know if you write the lyric ‘lay me on a table, put flowers in my mouth, and we can say that we invented a summer love and torture party’ that is poetry at the same time that I would also like to sit down and read ‘let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table’ from T.S. Elliot. Or I might you know pick up Raymond Chandler and read a few passages from The Big Sleep or something along those lines. So yeah, any medium, any genre, just as long as the language is really rich. I like a big slab of chocolate cake in language form right before I start writing.

 

That is a great image! (laughs) Oh I’m going to steal that one. Don’t worry I’ll always credit you.

No you can take it, you can take it. I always do eat that slice of chocolate cake and you know it could be lyrics it could be poetry it could be prose but, you know just as long as it’s really rich language I always read that first. And sometimes I have it open in tabs on the internet, like I’ll have a poem open in a tab and if I get to a place where I just want to bang my face against the keyboard until my nose goes flat (laughs) then I’ll read the poem for a second and it feels better.

 

What is your most unexpected or strangest hobby or talent?

Wow, um, I am the only person I know who can put vibrato in a kazoo. I am a really amazing kazoo player. I have a pretty strong vibrato anyway and I was trained in musical theater, but I can take a kazoo and I can, you know, actually put that vocal spin in it. And um, if you’d ever like to hear me play Amazing Grace on the kazoo, I can do that for you. I’d be willing to do that but I don’t have my kazoo with me. It’s in my other pants right now. The other thing I could do for you, that’s a strange talent of mine I can demonstrate right now. (Puts tongue all the way in her nose) So if you can get your tongue all the way into your nose that is like, not something everyone can do. I can pick my nose with my tongue and I can put vibrato in a kazoo. Two things, two things that I can do that are not perhaps expected.

 

That was excellent! Thank you for sharing that one. So going back to writing… How did you get started as a writer?

I got started as a writer because I had been an actor for a really long time, and I’d been obsessed with the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries since I was ten. And I was working in a restaurant, as you do when you’re a writer. And I picked up a book that was one of many, many, many incarnations of Sherlock Holmes trying to solve the Jack the Ripper murders, there’s countless versions of this. But I picked it up at the Barnes and Noble across the street from the restaurant I was working at, just you know on my lunch break. And I was reading it and I am so obsessed with Sherlock Holmes that every little thing that was wrong with it stood out to me. And you know, it’s actually really well written and I’m not faulting the author at all, the author had clearly done a lot of research etcetera but I’m reading it and I’m like ‘this is just not how I would do it’. There’s a tendency when writing fiction involving Sherlock Holmes particularly, that you’re going to throw in – well and also Jack the Ripper – There’s this tendency to throw in, they’re like ‘And then were going to do also vampires and Satanists, and they live in an interconnected series of underground caves in Transylvania and uh space aliens actually are the ones who infected their minds’ so like they throw everything but the kitchen sink at it. So my problem with that was that what I wanted to be reading was Sherlock Holmes solving the Jack the Ripper murders written by Caleb Carr, essentially. With forensic evidence that was true to the actual events with, you know, a certain amount of historical verisimilitude when it comes to the absolute abject poverty these women were living in in Whitechapel. And I thought it was a little bit of a disservice to the Sherlock Holmes character and to the women who actually were subjected to these horrific crimes that everything but the kitchen sink was being thrown at the narrative. I thought ‘why shouldn’t it be frightening enough that a serial killer is stalking the streets of London and no one knows who this is and at any moment you could be brutally murder and then eviscerated’? I figured that was scary enough, and so I wanted to do one without all the bells and whistles and supernatural etcetera. In an act of enormous hubris I sat down and I actually started writing it which was crazy, I’ve never taken a creative writing class before, I was an English major but it was all analytical type stuff. And then after getting a little ways into it I kind of put it down for a minute because you know you don’t realize that you can actually write a book until you finish writing an entire book, it’s an enormous enterprise. And then the restaurant I was working at was knocked down with bulldozers because they sold it to create an apple store. So then I was on six months of unemployment, and I said ‘you know what you’re probably going to get one shot at finishing this, so just tell yourself six months of unemployment is enough time to write a novel’. And since I’d already done all the research, I’d finished my research into the ripper killings, it was enough time. And I finished it, while I was, you know, out of work. And after that everything got crazy because I didn’t ever think it was ever going anywhere, I thought maybe a Sherlockian small press would maybe, I don’t know, do an e-book of it or something along those lines. I was blown away when I got an agent, and I was even more blown away when I sold it to Simon and Schuster. So that was how I got into and it was all very gratuitous but it was crazy. And I often think to myself ‘why are people letting me do this for a living’ like ‘this is not a regular job’ but that’s how it works.

 

So that was for your first book, and how did you then make the transition to your second?

Yeah that was a can of worms. I have a few lost novels between Dust and Shadow and The Gods of Gotham. And I still work on them and I still love the concepts, but I didn’t know what I was doing, is the problem. Because if you’re writing a Sherlock Holmes pastiche you have a lot of template laid out for you. You already have the characters and they’re already beloved characters so there’s a certain shorthand you can enter into. You’re not introducing a new character and trying to involve the reader in their lives and make the reader feel affection for this person, they already feel affections for Sherlock Holmes or they wouldn’t have the damn book in the first place. So additionally with the Ripper murders, what you have is a series of extremely specific crimes that I wanted to represent as accurately as possible. So I essentially had a historical outline written for me. And that was great too, but that doesn’t actually teach you how to write a book. So I wrote a few more books, wrong. And then I decided to become a long-haul truck driver, and my husband said ‘no, you should probably not be a long-haul truck driver’. And I was like ‘what about ice fishing?’ And he was like ‘no, that’s probably not a good idea either’. I just didn’t want to go back – acting had burned me out a little bit and I didn’t want to go back to the restaurant work. And then I sat down and I said OK here’s one more try, one more try, I want to write – and here’s the difference between those books that didn’t work and the one that did – I was trying to write – this is going to sound ridiculous – I was trying to write a literary book. I was trying to write a book that had literary value and artistic merit and had all these sorts of exciting moments and historical significance etcetera. And I wanted to do all of those things, but what I wasn’t sitting down and writing – I wasn’t putting my guts on the page. I was trying to be artistic about it, I was trying to say like you know ‘this is an artful sentence, there you go’. Writing artful sentences is bullshit. What I needed to do was take all of my feelings of you know, like, social injustice and failure, what I myself was doing, and dissatisfaction with the world of politics in general, and all of the things I was actually feeling. And I needed to put my own guts on the page and thats was what I was not doing. Because I was being timid and I thought that professionalism was, you know, being intellectually rigorous, but I was in fact just being cowardly about taking my own feelings and just, you know, like finger painting with them in words. So in The Gods of Gotham I said ‘fuck it’, Timothy Wild has just lost everything. He is a dude who walks around with his heart absolutely on his sleeve. And I know all sorts of men who are very sensitive kittens so that was not a problem to write. And he’s in love with a girl who doesn’t love him back, and he has a terrible relationship with his only sibling. And I just piled things on and on and on because I was very frustrated at the time. And Tim is a ridiculous little angst kitten, but he is way more a reflection of my actual, you know, like, style and self etcetera, and I figured at a certain point I am just going to actually be risky and put myself out there, and see if anybody wants to read that. And bizarrely it turns out they do (laughs). So um, me being artistic is not as effective as me being honest, and I didn’t know that, because no one had ever taught me how to write a book before. So I had to practice.

If you were to, in one sentence, describe why you think reading is important, what would you say?

I think that you should read so – If we don’t read how can we possibly understand each other. And, you know, if that’s the one sentence, great, if we don’t read how could we possibly understand each other. But I would add to that how could we possibly understand ourselves if we’re not reading, because reading is such a touchstone for people. It enlightens us not only in the sense of ‘Oh that’s how that life felt’ that someone else has written. But the perfect metaphor that captures exactly how you were feeling and you didn’t really know, and it was this sort of just amorphous miasma of ‘ughh, I feel like this this, but I don’t know how to say it’. Naming things is very powerful, and I think that putting concrete words onto emotions, onto experiences, onto settings onto times of day, you know, like, nailing those down and saying that – there’s this beautiful sentence at the beginning of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler right, that still boggles my mind. The phrase he inserts into the sentence is ‘with the sun not shining’ and this is in Los Angeles, ‘with the sun not shining’ doesn’t mean the same thing as that it was cloudy, it’s like this haze right, and so you know from reading that, OK it was this sort of day, and I can picture it. And I think you can do the same thing with people’s feelings, people’s, you know, struggles and their inner turmoil if you put the words together in a row the right way and I think that everyone should read because otherwise we’re just going to keep blindly bumping into walls.

And then just to finish up with one fun question, what is your guilty pleasure at the moment? Whether it be movies or books or food.

I don’t have guilty pleasures. I mean I don’t think people should have guilty pleasures, like – that is a fun question – But I think that people should have pleasures, you know, we’re such puritans (laughs) like we’re such puritans, screw that I mean go eat a pickle straight out of the pickle jar, like go read some fan fiction, go, you know, watch Godzilla. Do what you do man (laughs). Go for it, die your hair blue, whatever. I mean the older I get the more I feel like guilty pleasures are standing in the way of forward progress (laughs). If I were to come up with one, I guess, I am obsessed with Star Trek the Next Generation. But it’s not guilty. I just got into that. I watch star trek when I’m sad, and when I’m happy, and when I’m bored, and all the time in between. I don’t know whenever I try to think of something that’s a guilty pleasure, it’s like ‘well yeah I mean yes I really love cheesy 80’s pop music’ but I think everybody does, you know, it’s like guilty pleasures are the same as pleasure pleasures they just mean that you aren’t owning it.

LyndsayFaye_SevenforaSecret

From Edgar-nominated author Lyndsay Faye comes the next book in what Gillian Flynn calls “a brilliant new mystery series.”

 

Start Reading an Excerpt of Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye!


Michael

Michael Barson has worked in the Putnam Publicity department since April 1994, and has worked in book publicity since 1984. He has a PhD in American Culture from BGSU, and now lives in Glen Ridge NJ with his wife, their big dog, and three bedrooms formerly occupied by sons. His hobbies include beer, pickup basketball, old crime movies, and more beer.

 

 

 

 

shots fired

Shots Fired, by C.J. Box

Stories from Joe Pickett Country, by C.J. Box – This new collection of ten crime stories set in the west—mostly in C.J. Box’s native Wyoming—is a real treat for fans of the Joe Pickett series, which Putnam has published from the start (OPEN SEASON came out in 2001). Three of the stories feature Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, one stars Joe’s renegade friend, the very lethal Nate Romanowski, and the othersix feature stand-alone characters and situations. Several of the non-Joe stories are truly excellent, my favorite being “Pronghorns of the Third Reich.” C.J. Box has had seven consecutive national bestsellers, and it would be great if SHOTS FIRED made it eight in a row.

 

robert

Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot, by Reed Farrel Coleman

A Jesse Stone Novel, by Reed Farrel Coleman – when Robert B. Parker died in January of 2010, it was a huge loss for the world of crime fiction, and for Putnam books as well, which Parker had called his home since the late ‘80s. Beginning in 2012, Ace Atkins took over the primary Parker series, starring Boston P.I. Spenser, with positive results. But now Reed Coleman has done an equally fine job of making the Jesse Stone character his own in his first turn on that series, BLIND SPOT, which pubs on September 9. In fact, the story is much more detailed and layered than many of Parker’s own Jesse Stone  tales, and I expect the critics to take note of this when the reviews start arriving in September. An impressive debut by Coleman, who has won many mystery awards over the course of his 20-year career.

field of prey

Field of Prey, by John Sandford

Over the course of more than twenty of the hard-boiled PREY thrillers by John Sandford, Minneapolis detective/investigator Lucas Davenport has faced off against every sort of criminal, from an armed robbery team to a female hit-woman. But my favorite villains in the PREY series are the serial killers, and Lucas has matched wits with some doozies. FIELD OF PREY is one of those. Of the earlier books, I remember MIND PREY being especially creepy. Sandford is just a great writer, in addition to being a #1 bestseller for Putnam, where the PREY series began in 1989. But you do have to be able to handle the violence quotient in these—Sandford isn’t kidding around.

 

a man without breath

A Man Without Breath, by Philip Kerr

The Bernie Gunther series, which Putnam publishes in hardcover, has been described as plunking down private eye Philip Marlowe in Nazi Germany instead of 1940s Los Angeles. That does give you the flavor of these extremely well-crafted historical thrillers. Penguin Books has nine of these Philip Kerr titles in their backlist, and they range from really good to unbelievably great. Philip Kerr is simply one of today’s very best crime writers—in the top five, for my money. (Even if I do get these for free.)

 

 

 

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