crime

“What She Knew” by Gilly Macmillan

Book Cover - What She Knew

 

 

 

In “What She Knew,” Rachel Finch hesitates, but finally gives her son, Ben, permission to run ahead of her to the swings in a park they have been to many times before. She doesn’t want to be seen as an over protective mother. But when she reaches the swings, he isn’t there and is nowhere to be found.

 

A sense of sorrow envelops the reader at the beginning of “What She Knew,” as Rachel shares the story from her point of view – what could she have done better/differently/instead of, during those minutes leading up to and after Ben’s disappearance? Her story is heart wrenching as she explores her own actions and reactions in the face of enormously challenging circumstances.

 

Macmillan spares no one, however, and the other stakeholders – the father, the new wife, the investigators – all take turns at center stage, examining their own guilt and excuses as the 8-day search continues. There is plenty of ‘would have, should have’ to pass around when fingers are pointed and accusations fly. People try to help her cope for a while, but Rachel pushes them away in despair, certain that they cannot truly understand. And, of course, they can’t.

 

Is Rachel or some other trusted adult at fault? People even remotely involved with the child are questioned, then questioned again. The detective work is painstakingly difficult; the media attention excruciating and sometimes misplaced and vicious.

 

Do we, the readers, remember every detail about every person, bush, swing, and shrub that we pass on our daily walks in the park? Unless we are in the middle of some kind of memory training game, probably not. And, yet that’s exactly what Rachel is asked to do. Every second, every step, every motive, must be accounted for.

 

“What She Knew” is an astonishing page-turner, and by seeing the reactions to the crime through the major players involved, Macmillan gets us, the readers, highly invested. I found myself defending the parents, then faulting the parents, defending the detectives and faulting the system as the kidnapping details were explained and suspects revisited.

 

Macmillan has written fully fleshed out characters, with emotionally believable reactions and dialogue, with devastating twists and turns. Who did it and why? Were the right people investigated/punished? ‘Is the investigative process itself, flawed?’ may be a question that haunts you long after the last page of “What She Knew” is read.

 

Although the action in “What She Knew” takes place in England (where the book is called “Burnt Paper Sky”) the themes are sadly universal and missing children remain a terrible part of our culture. Check out NamUs.gov and the UK missing children’s sites for more information. Read “How long has your daughter been missing?” for related details about missing persons.

 

Please visit www.gillymacmillan.com  for news about Macmillan and her other work. “What She Knew” is an international bestseller and her latest book, “The Perfect Girl,” was published in the USA in September, 2016.

 

 

 

Author Profile: Craig Allen Johnson

 

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The Walt Longmire character that Craig Allen Johnson has brought to life both in award-winning books and on TV, has come to personify the modern Western law man – rough, tough, and ready for whatever the bad guys can throw at him.

 

Somehow, I had not realized that the show was based on Johnson’s books until the first season was half over. Books? Well, I ran right out – really – and bought the books that my local store had in stock. I started with Cold Dish and was forever hooked.

 

I watched the Longmire series on A&E until somebody in the network offices lost their collective minds and cancelled the show because the demographic didn’t fit their model of the future. Say what? A successful show that millions of people watch, that is making your corporation money and you don’t like the people who are doing the watching? Hmph.

 

Well, we fans are not a dumb bunch and we mounted a social media campaign for another network to pick up the show. Netflix and the Johnson people were able to come to an agreement and the fans collectively smiled. It has been reported that the Netflix association may come to an end after Season 6, but we still have the fabulous bestselling books – with more to come.

 

Craig Johnson was born in West Virginia, but wound up in Wyoming some years after a visit while delivering horses. He built the 2,000+ square foot log cabin in which he and his wife, Judy, now live. Ucross, Wyoming is sparsely populated – a mere 25 inhabitants – and is the source for Johnson’s twitter handle: @ucrosspop25.    

 

What makes Sheriff Walt Longmire so immediately likable? Middle-aged, experienced at his job, widower of a woman he loved more than life itself, an attorney daughter of whom he is so very proud, and a Cheyenne best friend/sidekick whom he has known since childhood. Longmire mostly follows the rules, but when justice is in question, the rules are sometimes open to interpretation.

 

The stories are full of wonderful dialogue, intriguing mysteries, life and death situations, and a core set of characters with whom you’d like to spend as much time as possible. Johnson’s obvious love of the wide-open spaces of Wyoming spills onto the pages when the landscape becomes a character, as suddenly dangerous as any killer could be or as mesmerizing as a beautiful painting.

 

The books have been credited as having one of the best depictions of Native American/White Man interactions in the world of fiction – they certainly ring true in the reading. Johnson’s ranch is right next to a Cheyenne reservation, and through the years he has come to respect the challenges that Native Americans have faced and continue to face. His books explore the cultural differences and celebrate the traditions in thoughtful and meaningful ways, often including those themes in the mysteries.

 

When not writing the Longmire series, consulting on the TV show, or working his ranch, Johnson travels around the country (and to France) with Judy, doing book tours. I met him in Raleigh, NC at Quail Ridge Books. He’s charming and as funny in person as you would hope him to be after having read the books.

 

A great showman who delivers a great read.  :-)

 

Take a look at the reviews of:

 

"The Cold Dish"
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  here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                 "Kindness Goes Unpunished"

Book Cover - Kindness Goes Unpunished

                                                here

 

                                                                             "Dry Bones"

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                                                           here

 

 

 

 

Check out www.craigallenjohnson.com, where you will find details about his upcoming tours, the online fan store with lots of Longmire goodies, and photos of the cast of Longmire.

 

 

*Photo of Craig Allen Johnson taken by Patti Phillips at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

 

 

Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year 2016

 

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The Scotland Crime Book of the Year Award is given at Bloody Scotland, a premier conference for crime writers. The winner receives 1,000 pounds and the book is promoted for a year at Waterstone’s, a major book chain in the UK. This year The McIlvanney Prize was awarded on September 9th. This year’s long list, chosen by an independent panel of readers, is below, with the four finalists noted with ‘*’. The winner at Bloody Scotland was chosen by a librarian, a journalist and a newspaper editor. Click on the book title to find out more about the book.

 

The winner is indicated in red.

 

*Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

The Special Dead – Lin Anderson

* The Jump – Doug Johnstone

A Fine House in Trinity – Lesley Kelly

In the Cold Dark Ground – Stuart MacBride

*Splinter the Silence – Val McDermid

The Damage Done – James Oswald

Even Dogs in the Wild – Ian Rankin

Open Wounds – Douglas Skelton

*Beloved Poison – E. S. Thomson 

 

Congratulations to the McIlvanney winner and all the nominees at Bloody Scotland!  :-)

 

 

 

 

The Hammett Prize – 2016

 

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The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch) awarded the HAMMETT PRIZE for a 2015 work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author, on October 29, 2016. The winner received the famous ‘Thin Man’ bronze trophy, and bragging rights.  :-)

The winner is indicated in red.

Congratulations to Ms. Sandlin and all the nominees:

The Stranger, by Harlan Coben
Sorrow Lake: A March and Walker Crime Novel, by Michael J. McCann
The Whites: A Novel, by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt
The Do-Right, by Lisa Sandlin
The Organ Broker: A Novel, by Stu Strumwasser

 

Past winners include:

2014: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

 

2013: Angel Baby by Richard Lange


2012: Oregon Hill by Howard Owen

 

2011: The Killer is Dying by James Sallis

 

2010: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer
 

2009: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
 

2008: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

 

2007: The Outlander by Gil Adamson

 

2006: The Prisoner of Guantánamo by Dan Fesperman

 

2005: Alibi by Joseph Kanon

 

Have you read any of the 2015 nominated books? Or the Hammett Prize winners from previous years? Now’s your chance.  :-)

 


 

“The Dangerous Edge of Things” by Tina Whittle

 

Book Cover - The Dangerous Edge of Things

Tai Randolph, the heroine up to her Georgia neck in trouble in Tina Whittle’s debut novel, “The Dangerous Edge of Things,” has just inherited the family’s gun shop in Atlanta. She’s only been in town a week when she finds a body in a car parked across the street from her brother’s house. But, her gun shop co-owner brother is on his way to the Bahamas, she may be in danger, a detective has her in his sights as a suspect, and a hunky private security agent may be the only person keeping her from harm. Not that she can’t take care of herself.

 

Tai Randolph is a great character, with just enough sass, savvy intelligence, and fierce independence to keep us reading and chuckling while Whittle develops the intriguing plot. The brother is covering up a LOT, but why? The security guy has an assignment tied to the murder, but how? The detective seems to know more than he’s telling. And why is everyone trying to keep Tai out of the loop? She has no intention of staying away from the action and manages to stay a step ahead of her protectors until they give up and include her in the plans. After all, she has her name to clear and a Confederate gun shop to open.

 

Whittle has written some worthy supporting characters with quirks that never get in the way of the story, while adding texture and depth to the subplots. The field security agent, Trey Seaver, is easy on the eyes, but has a few important flaws. Rico, a close friend, is a whiz at the techy stuff. Detective Garrity is nicely nuanced and believable, as is the rest of the cast. The storyline kept me engrossed until the surprising end – a terrific debut.

 

I was so impressed after finishing “The Dangerous Edge of Things” that I chose book #3, “Blood, Ash & Bone,” as my next read.
 

Book Cover - Blood Ash & Bone

“Blood, Ash & Bone” returns Tai to her former hometown, Savannah, in search of a Civil War era Bible, that if it really exists, may have gone missing from General Sherman’s effects. Lots of people are after this Bible, including her scumbag ex-boyfriend and the gal who may have stolen it from him. Did I mention that the gal used to be Tai’s best friend and that she ran off with the scumbag? No more besties, for sure.
 

Happily, Armani wearing Trey, best pal Rico, and Detective Dan Garrity are back and Whittle has done a superb job of supplying Tai with a blend of their expertise that helps her at just the right moments. Tai’s brother, an industrial psychologist in “The Dangerous Edge of Things,” has returned as well, and other relatives new to the series, are Southern gems.

 

Assorted other characters have no interest in being nice to Tai – their collective eyes are on the big, Confederate prize. Will multi-faceted Tai get out of this in one piece? Will she be able to overcome her dead Uncle Dexter’s shortcomings as a record-keeper when it’s time for the ATF audit of the gun shop? With the KKK, big money, ghosts from Tai’s past, Civil War collectors, and much more in the mix, this is one page-turning treat.

 

Tina has written five books in the series, the most recent being “Reckoning and Ruin.” Start with “The Dangerous Edge of Things” and read them all.

 

For more information about Tina Whittle, the Tai Randolph series and her other work, please visit www.tinawhittle.com

 

 

 

“The Heist” by Daniel Silva

 

Book Cover - The Heist by Daniel Silva

Israeli top spy/art restorer, Gabriel Allon, would rather be working on a major art restoration in Italy, but a blackmailing member of the Italian Art Squad is able to tear him away from his project with a threat. In “The Heist,” a corrupt British spy who had been selling stolen artwork to an anonymous art collector winds up dead and a famous painting has gone missing. Enter Gabriel with his special expertise. In order to get an art dealer friend and associate cleared of suspicion for dealing in stolen goods, Gabriel must agree to do the impossible.

 

A plan is devised to lure the real thief (and murderer) into the open in order to find and recover a masterpiece that has been missing for decades – Caravaggio's Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence. But, Allon, next in line for the job as the head of Mossad, has friends and enemies in high places and it will be tricky to keep all the parties, himself included, alive and focused on the end game.

 

As we expect in Silva’s riveting series, the stakes in Gabriel’s personal and professional lives are higher than ever. In “The Heist,” Gabriel bends the laws of more than one country, enlists the assistance of men that specialize in assassination and special ops, and adds an additional layer of danger in order to help a survivor of a brutal attack years before in Syria. Returning characters create continuity for the series and keep the pages turning in true Silva fashion.

 

Silvia's books give the reader a look at the world of politics and spies from an Israeli understanding, but we are always presented with multiple views of each of the conflicts addressed. “The Heist” is no different. This is a serious novel that tackles the Syrian turmoil, the effect of a country at war with itself, and its place within the context of the larger Middle East complexity.

 

As Gabriel is called upon to help his old friend, he is torn between duty to country and the price he has paid for it over the years. The excitement of the caper unfolds on the pages, but there is also a more cerebral feel to "The Heist " – perhaps a nod to an aging Allon looking back over his life and taking stock. The action is less physical than in the previous book, “The English Girl,” as we are enmeshed in the worlds of art restoration, high finance, bank transfers, and politics, but there is plenty of action nonetheless.

 

“The Heist” is the fourteenth title in the sixteen book (so far) Gabriel Allon series.

 

Please visit www.danielsilvabooks.com for more information about Daniel Silva and his work.

 

The Hammett Prize – 2015

 

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The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch) awarded the HAMMETT PRIZE for a 2014 work of excellence in crime writing by a US or Canadian author, at the beginning of October.  The prize was the “Thin Man” trophy, and of course, bragging rights.  :-)

Congratulations to all the nominees:           
       
Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke

Smoke River by Krista Foss

Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King  was awarded the prize.

Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall


 

Past winners include:

 

2013: Angel Baby by Richard Lange

2012: Oregon Hill by Howard Owen

2011: The Killer is Dying by James Sallis

2010: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

2009: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

2008: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

2007: The Outlander by Gil Adamson

2006: The Prisoner of Guantánamo by Dan Fesperman

2005: Alibi by Joseph Kanon

2004: Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan

 

Have you read any of this year’s nominees or the past winners? Let us know in the comments below.