Ever wonder what mystery authors read in their spare time? Colin Cotterill, who lives in Southeast Asia and is the author of the Laos-set mystery Six and a Half Deadly Sins, is here to tell us as we continue our celebration of all things mystery during Private Eye July! Who knew an author whose latest novel features severed fingers would enjoy a well-crafted children's book?
I have to confess, you’ve caught me at a fortuitous juncture with this request as I only ever find the time or the inclination to read when I’m traveling. My wife and I have spent the past month in the U.S. Lots of airports and sleepless flights and bad coffee. On the 30-hour return home from Seattle, I curled up with a nonfiction title: What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren. It’s as far from Dog Whisperer psychology as Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life is to a self-help manual. It promised to be a little dense, but it covered two of my favourite topics: dogs and death. In brief, Warren found herself with an unmanageable German shepherd pup, Solo. She asked around for training suggestions and was pointed in the direction of training her dog as a cadaver search canine. Now, I wouldn’t recommend the arduous program for your poodle unless you still wonder what happened to Auntie Irene who disappeared about the time Uncle Bert laid the concrete patio, but I’m sure you’ll be as fascinated as I was in following Solo on his journey from juvenile delinquent to superstar K9 sleuth.
I tend to cringe a little when people call my books ‘charming,’ but that’s mainly because I kill a lot of people in horrid ways and I don’t think that’s a particularly charming trait. But the New York Times’ assessment of R. P. Harris’ middle-grade reader Tua and the Elephant was right on the mark. It is, indeed, charming. I should first disclose that I know R. P. Harris, and he forced me to take his book on the road with me. I reminded him that I was neither 12 years old nor particularly interested in elephants, but, as he said, the book is set in my one-time home of Chiang Mai. It was peppered with clever observations of Thai life, and I do believe I reverted to my early teens after reading it in one sitting. With illustrations by popular artist Taeeun Yoo, it’s the type of book you look for when you despair at the sleaze and vulgarity drowning your kids these days.
I’m always chuffed to be in a place I’m reading about. We were in San Francisco when I started The Halls of Power by William C. Gordon. His crime novels are set in the ‘60s but many of the sites were still recognizable even though the bars, like a lot of local food and drink establishments in the city have been forced to shut down due to the soaring rents. For those of you who want a dose of nostalgia for the San Francisco your parents knew, you couldn’t do much better than Gordon. He was a crime lawyer back then so a lot of the cases in the books are ones he was involved in. The Halls of Power looks at the role influential people play in subverting justice, so perhaps not everything’s changed.
Thank you, Colin! See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
It’s Private Eye July at BookPage! All month long, we’re celebrating the sinister side of fiction with the year’s best mysteries and thrillers. Look for the Private Eye July magnifying glass for a daily dose of murder, espionage and all those creepy neighbors with even creepier secrets.
It's not too late to reach for a mystery or high-stakes thriller in honor of Private Eye July!
If you're still looking for the right book, then this unnerving mystery with maximum stranger danger is a perfect choice.
In Amanda Kyle Williams' newest Keye Street mystery, Don't Talk to Strangers, the Atlanta private eye finds herself taking on a case outside of her comfort zone in the deep woods of Whisper, Georgia.
A killer abducts and keeps young girls captive for months, or even years before taking their bodies to the same location, and Street is determined to track the culprit before he can strike again. Trouble is, the locals are putting up a lot of resistance to her cause. Is everyone in town a potential enemy or suspect? Can Street find the culprit on her own without becoming a target herself?
Watch the extra-creepy trailer below:
What do you think, readers?
British author Stephen Lloyd Jones is making waves with his debut novel, The String Diaries.
Our reviewer, Elizabeth Davis, hails Jones for his winning combination of "a refreshing villain and a thrilling narrative laced with the Gothic: a woman being chased by a tyrannical male of supernatural ability in uninhabited places."
Amidst a literary landscape filled to the brim with zombies, vampires and werewolves, Jones offers an incredibly haunting new menace inspired by Hungarian folklore: The hosszú életek, or "long lived" ones, can take on the appearance and mannerisms of any person at any time.
When Hannah Wilde discovers that the women in her family have been plagued by a particularly twisted hosszú életek named Jakab with an intense romantic obsession, she must rely on her ancestor's string-bound diaries for guidance and survival.
When Jakab takes on the appearances of those she loves most, will Hannah be able to make the right decision? And if it comes down to it, will she be able to run?
Watch the trailer below and prepare your nerves for this engrossing read:
What do you think? Interested in picking up a copy?
Does the phrase "Amish murder mystery" cause you to scratch your head in confusion?
Fans of Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder series know exactly how thrilling this unlikely combination can be: Set in the heart of Ohio's Amish country in the town of Painters Mill, the sixth installment unfolds with the story of a brutal crime in 1976. Now, the Hochstetler farm is abandoned, and only one member of the family is left alive in Painters Mill.
When chief Burkholder is called to investigate an apparent suicide in a dilapidated barn, the death toll begins to climb quickly, and mounting evidence may have ties to the unsolved Hochstetler case.
Chief Burkholder tries to keep her famously level head amidst claims of malicious ghosts from the victims, and her domestic tranquility has vanished: state agent Tomasetti is unable to provide much comfort as he's distracted by one of his wife's killers roaming free.
The Dead Will Tell is featured in our July Meet the Author feature, and you can find it on shelves today!
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think, readers?
Looking for an especially meaty thriller to dive into this summer? Terry Hayes may have just the novel for you with I Am Pilgrim; weighing in at 640 pages, Hayes offers up a page-turner with plenty of muscle. A retired intelligence officer for a U.S. organization far more secret than the CIA, known simply as Pilgrim, has penned a game-changing textbook on criminal investigation that has brought police investigation miles ahead of where it once was. But there's a problem—a particularly ruthless someone seems to have read it a bit too well, and may have committed the perfect unsolvable murder.
Humble, yet tough-as-nails homicide detective Ben Bradley tracks Pilgrim down in the streets of Paris to beg for his help in the investigation, and soon the action takes off at a breathtaking pace. From Moscow to the United Kingdom, from Saudi Arabia to the dusty streets of Afghanistan and back home to the U.S., the manhunt for a brilliant terrorist known as "the Saracen" tests everything Pilgrim has learned in the field.
For almost a decade I was a member of our country's most secret intelligence organization, working so deep in shadow that only a handful of people even knew of our existence. The agency's task was to police our country's intelligence community, to act as the covert world's internal affairs department. To that extent, you might say, we were a throwback to the Middle Ages. We were the ratcatchers.
Although the number of people employed by the twenty-six publicly acknowledge–and eight unnamed—US intelligence organizations is classified, it is reasonable to say that over one hundred thousand people came within our orbit. A population that size meant the crimes we investigated ran the gamut-from treason to corruption, murder to rape, drug dealing to theft. The only difference was that some of the perpetrators were the best and brightest of the world.
The group entrusted with this elite and highly classified mission was established by Jack Kennedy in the early months of his administration. After a particularly lurid scandal at the CIA—the details of which still remain secret—he apparently decided members of the intelligence community were as subject to human frailty as the population in general. More so probably.
What are you reading this week?
We're kicking off Private Eye July, a whole month devoted to the best new mysteries and thrillers, with a trailer for our Top Pick in Mystery, Saints of New York!
Like your mysteries chock full of decades-spanning Mob drama, crooked cops and flawed heroes, all with a true crime angle? Then step right up, because British author Ellory has the novel for you.
Frank Parrish is a stubborn (and often self-destructive) NYPD homicide detective living in the shadow of his father's legacy. The weight of a botched hostage negotiation weighs heavily on Frank, and his mandated psychotherapy sessions soon open a dialogue about his father and the Saints of New York—cops who helped the Mob during the '60s and '70s. Soon, Frank's attention is called to the murder investigation of a teenage girl, and common threads are uncovered between past and present crimes.
Watch the gritty (and quite bloody) trailer below.
What do you think, readers? Interested? Read our Q&A with R.J. Ellory for more on Saints of New York.
The Rosatis thought they were safe from the war hidden away in their ancient villa, until two soldiers walked into their lives. Twelve years later, the Rosatis are being targeted by a serial killer. Serafina Bettini begins investigating the case, but every step closer to an answer brings back her own hidden past. In a world that is trying to recover from the pain of war, Bohjalian expertly knots the threads of his characters, creating a story of love and revenge.
Chris Bohjalian, New York Times best-selling author of The Sandcastle Girls, delivers another mysterious novel, this one set in the beautiful hills of Tuscany. Our reviewer calls The Light in the Ruins "a brilliant blend of historical fiction and a chilling serial killer story."
Be sure to read the full review here and check out the trailer below from Knopf Doubleday for more:
Will you read The Light in the Ruins? What other mysteries have you read during Private Eye July?