Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: MISERY BAY by Steve Hamilton

MISERY BAY by Steve Hamilton (2012)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Following the acclaim for, and award-winning success of, his standalone thriller starring a mute safe-cracker, The Lock Artist, US crime writer Steve Hamilton brings back to the page his troubled hero, ex-cop Alex McKnight, for the first time in several years.

McKnight, a former city cop from Detroit still haunted by his own bloodstained past, finds himself investigating the hanging suicide of a young University student in the frozen wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – prodded by the most unlikely person to ask for his help; his old nemesis, the local police chief. What seems like a simple quest to find some answers for a grieving father turns into something far darker and more complicated when the body count begins to rise. Just how are a series of suicides and murders linked? Are the suicides what they seem, or is something more sinister at work?

Hamilton shows a nice touch for evoking a sense of the freezing expanses of the Upper Peninsula. Misery Bay starts with a slow burn, but then builds into a gripping tale that intrigues as much with its characters, especially McKnight, as the events and twists that power the storyline and keep you turning the page.

Other reviews of MISERY BAY:

Have you read any of the Alex McKnight books? Which others would you recommend for me to read?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9mm: An interview with Garry Disher

One of the things that stuck out like a sore thumb, when looking back over the 9mm series thusfar a couple of months ago (when it was at 72 instalments) was that I'd been a little light on Australian crime writers - one out of 72 (okay, "a little light" is an understatement). As I was living in Australia for a bit this year, and became more exposed to Australian crime writing, both at the Sydney Writers Festival and beyond, I'm looking to rectify that moving forwards.

Thank you to those who've suggested authors they'd love to see included in the 9mm series as it moves forward. Along with Giles Blunt, who was featured in August, another highly requested crime writer was Australian Garry Disher, an award-winning and prolific author who has written almost 50 books across the crime, literary, history, children's and young adult genres. He has also written short stories and writing handbooks. For keen crime readers, Disher is best known for his Wyatt novels, as well as his Challis and Destry series. His crime novels are published in several countries and languages, have won awards in Australia and Europe, and been listed as a "Best Book of the Year" by Kirkus Reviews. After 13 novels across his two series since 1991, last year he published the standalone BITTER WASH ROAD to rave reviews.

But for now, Garry Disher becomes the 86th author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM: An interview with Garry Disher

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
I’ve long enjoyed and admired John Sandford’s Prey novels featuring Lucas Davenport—but more for the sneaky plotting than the character of Davenport.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
I don’t remember my childhood books, but by the age of 10 I’d outgrown them, and there were no Young Adult novels in those days, so I went straight to adult novels, and enjoyed (without always understanding them) the James Bond thrillers, the war novel The Cruel Sea and some British ‘kitchen-sink’ realist novels like Room at the Top.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles? 
Before embarking on the Wyatt crime novels I’d published history textbooks, two novels, two story collections and dozens of short stories in literary magazines.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I like to watch crap American crime shows on TV (although these days much TV crime drama is first rate), read, watch films and walk on the beach.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Apparently there exists an informal tourist trail that tracks down the Mornington Peninsula locations I employ in my Challis and Destry novels – such that I get comments like, ‘You know that nature reserve in Snapshot, well, I can’t find it’ and I have to reply that I’m writing fiction. So maybe people could look for what is real and what is imagined when they visit the place.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I’d be the generally overlooked but watchful guy at the edges of the main action, so maybe a character actor rather than a star.

7. Of your writings, published and unpublished, which is your favourite, and why?
My novel, THE SUNKEN ROAD, which sank without trace in Australia but was nominated for the Booker Prize by my English publisher.  It’s a ‘literary’ rather than genre novel, and takes risks with format and structure.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a online or physical bookseller’s shelf?
I probably celebrated with wine and a pizza with my girlfriend – I honestly don’t remember.  I always knew I’d be published, so it wasn’t overwhelming.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I once attended a festival with the children’s/Young Adult novelist Gary Crew. Someone (an adult) presented me with one of his books to sign, and I didn’t let on but scribbled in it, "...from the other Garry".


Thank you Garry. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch.

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You can read more about Garry Disher and his books here:


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Have you read Disher's Wyatt novels, or his other crime novels? Are you a fan of Australian crime writing?

Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Shamus Award finalists

The Private Eye Writers of America announced the finalists for its 2014 Shamus Awards. Winners will be named during a banquet at Bouchercon in Long Beach, California, on Friday, 14 November 2014.

Best Hardcover PI Novel:
• Little Elvises, by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime)
• The Mojito Coast, by Richard Helms (Five Star)
• W Is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton (Marian Wood/Putnam)
• The Good Cop, by Brad Parks (Minotaur)
• Nemesis, by Bill Pronzini (Forge)

Best First PI Novel:
• A Good Death, by Christopher R. Cox (Minotaur)
• Montana, by Gwen Florio (Permanent Press)
• Blood Orange, by Karen Keskinen (Minotaur)
• Bear Is Broken, by Lachlan Smith (Mysterious Press)
• Loyalty, by Ingrid Thoft (Putnam)

Best Original Paperback PI Novel:
• Seduction of the Innocent, by Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime)
• Into the Dark, by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins)
• Purgatory Key, by Darrell James (Midnight Ink)
• Heart of Ice, by P.J. Parrish (Pocket)
• The Honky Tonk Big Hoss Boogie, by Robert J. Randisi (Perfect Crime)

Best PI Short Story:
• “So Long, Chief,” by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane (The Strand Magazine, February-May 2013)
• “The Ace I,” by Jack Fredrickson (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], June 2013)
• “What We Do,” by Mick Herron (EQMM, September-October 2013)
• “Extra Fries,” by Michael Z. Lewin (EQMM, May 2013)
• “The Lethal Leeteg,” by Hayford Peirce (EQMM, August 2013)

Best Indie PI Novel:
• Murder Take Three, by April Kelly and Marsha Lyons (Flight Risk)
• A Small Sacrifice, by Dana King (Amazon Digital)
• No Pat Hands, by J.J. Lamb (Two Black Sheep)
• State vs. Lassiter, by Paul Levine (CreateSpace)
• Don’t Dare a Dame, by M. Ruth Myers (Tuesday House)

Hat tip to J Kingston Pierce at The Rap Sheet

Saturday, September 27, 2014

And the winner is...

A couple of months ago, we kickstarted a giveaway competition in relation to the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. Anyone who 'liked' the Award's Facebook page went into the draw to win a personally autographed copy of whichever of the books ended up winning this year's award.

Liam McIlvanney's WHERE THE DEAD MEN GO was named as the winner of the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award at the Christchurch Writers Festival on 30 August, and subsequently a random draw was made from everyone who had liked the Facebook page.

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the signed copy of the award-winning crime novel was Liz Andrews of Auckland, New Zealand. Liz was kind enough to send through a photo of the signed book, which she received from Liam McIlvanney earlier this month.

It's a terrific thriller Liz, and we all hope you enjoy the great read.

Keep an eye out for more giveaways in future, of great Kiwi crime novels and more. And if you haven't already 'liked' the Ngaio Marsh Award Facebook page, it'd be terrific if you did. Click here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

9mm: An interview with JA Jance

One of my favourite things about being a keen reader is discovering new-to-me authors who have written many books that I haven't tried yet, opening up a whole world of possibilities in terms of future reading enjoyment. There are so many good and great crime writers out there, I know I'm never going to get to even a large chunk of them, but it sure is enjoyable to try the ones we do.

One of the ways I try to continually expand my crime fiction palette is by grabbing books by local authors from places I travel (or authors who set their books in that place). Given I am a bit of a vagabond soul at heart and in practice, and love to travel, this has opened me up to many new authors over the past few years, from reading Jason Goodwin's THE JANISSARY TREE while touring Turkey to Bernard Schlink's SELF'S MURDER while spending Christmas in Cologne to PC Doherty's THE ANUBIS SLAYINGS while working my way up the Nile in Egypt to Johan Smits' PHNOM PENH EXPRESS while wandering Cambodia (tip of the iceberg). This habit of mine continued while in the United States and Canada last year, so while I was enjoying the delights of Washington State, I picked up a book by JA Jance. Since she had a detective series set in Seattle, was born in South Dakota, and grew up in Arizona (and I was travelling through all three states for various reasons), it seemed a good choice!

JA Jance debuted in 1985 with UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, which introduced Seattle detective JP Beaumont. That series has grown to 22 books over the years, alongside Jance's other popular series starring Arizona country sheriff Joanna Brady (that began with DESERT HEAT in 1993 and now numbers 17 books). A prolific storyteller, JA Jance moved past the 50 published books mark this year. She splits her time between Seattle and her home state of Arizona, and her two most popular main characters actually meet in her crossover novel PARTNERS IN CRIME.

You can read more about JA Jance's wonderful books, and the author herself - including one of the most open and honest bio pages I've read on an official author website, detailing her life struggles and how they've played a part in her successful writing career - at her website here.

But for now, JA Jance becomes the 85th author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM: AN INTERVIEW WITH JA JANCE

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective? 
Jack Reacher.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why? 
Smokey, the Crow. I was in first grade, and the book belonged to one of my older sisters.  The story was about some kids adopting an injured crow.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles? 
I wrote a volume of poetry--After the Fire, which is still in print, by the way.  It's poetry I wrote while my first husband was dying of alcoholism, and while I was trying to find my way out of that relationship.  Doing a poetry reading of that book a year after it was published is how I met my second husband.  I also wrote a 1,200 page thinly fictionalized true crime book about crossing paths with a serial killer in Tucson in the early 70s. That book, called By Reason of Insanity, was never published and rightly so.  Since I was denied entrance into a creative writing program in college because I was a "girl," writing that unpublished book was my on the job training in the world of writing.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise? 
Stay at home with my husband, kids, grandkids, and our rescued dachshund, Bella.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider? 
They should go to Bisbee, Arizona, walk up and down Tombstone Canyon, and figure out why the high school's colors are red and gray.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you? 
Helen Mirren


7. Of your writings, published and unpublished, which is your favourite, and why? 
Second Watch, a Beaumont book that features a schoolmate of mine from Bisbee, a guy named Doug Davis.  Doug died in Vietnam at age 22, forty-eight years ago today (August 2, 1966).  But through the magic of fiction, he comes to life so the world can know about him and about Bonnie Abney, the girl he left behind.

[Ed Note: I interviewed JA Jance on 2 August this year, but with the rapid reloading of 9mm, I have a large backlog of terrific interviews, so I'm spacing them out a week at a time over several months]

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a online or physical bookseller’s shelf?
I called my kids' school principal and asked him to have them come to the office so I could give them the news.  My daughter, who was never in trouble, came right away.  My son, however, was another story.  As he came down the hall, the principal heard him bellowing, "Whatever it is, I didn't do it!"

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival? 
I was doing a grocery store reopening event.  The publicity for the event amounted to my sales rep putting brochures on the windshields of the cars in the parking lot.  I had barely taken my seat when a young man came waltzing up to me, waving the brochure.  "Are you the woman who writes murder mysteries?" he asked.  I told him yes, and he continued.  "I've just been acquitted of murdering seven people.  Do you want to write my book?"


HOW DO YOU SPELL" NO, THANK YOU!!!!"


Thank you JA Jance. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch

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You can read more about JA Jance and her books here:


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Have you read JA Jance?