After editing five crime anthologies, Rosemary Herbert joins the mystery-writing ranks with her first novel, Front Page Teaser (Down East Books).
Describe your book in one sentence.
Set in Boston, and following the adventures of a gutsy, underdog, tabloid newspaper reporter on the trail of a missing mom, Front Page Teaser: A Liz Higgins Mystery is not just a fast-paced puzzler, but a love song to the news reporting life.
What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
“Think tabloid.” My first editor at the Boston Herald told me this with a wink, because she did not mean to suggest that I write as if I were reporting for the National Enquirer. What she did mean was to cut to the chase, keep the pace lively, write with attitude and verve, and especially to get to the heart of the matter. When I was young, my creative writing teacher, Mr. Alfred Haulenbeek, told me to believe in myself and to “grow in the appreciation of fine language.” Put these pieces of advice together and you have a winning combination.
How would you earn a living if you weren't a writer?
As a librarian. I have worked as a reference librarian at Harvard University and as a children’s librarian in Maine. In fact, subplot in Front Page Teaser is drawn from my library experience. When my reporter-sleuth Liz Higgins asks librarians to reveal the reading habits of a missing woman, the librarians stand as bastions protecting the privacy of library patron circulation records. I added this to my book as a tribute to librarians and librarianship.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
Being nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing. I served as editor-in-chief for this volume.
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
Nancy Drew. I’m sure she would get us out of the desert island “scrape” with pluck and aplomb. Meanwhile, we could trade some clever sleuthing clues.
What are you reading now?
Tony Hillerman’s Landscapes (Harper) by his daughter, Anne Hillerman, with photographs by Don Strel. Because Tony Hillerman is not here to celebrate the recent paperback publication of our book A New Omnibus of Crime (Oxford University Press), I have been missing him. Anne’s book makes me feel closer to Tony and his work.
The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
Pamela Dorman • $26.95 • ISBN 9780670022403
On sale January 10, 2011
In this excerpt, Karen has just met and agreed to tutor the captivating Biba, sister to Rex, and they've gone to seal the deal in the university bar. Kelly sets the scene while maintaining suspense, never letting the reader forget that the book is moving toward a dark revelation:
"Can you buy a bottle of red, darling? A Merlot if they've got it," she said, and I wondered how someone whose voice and bag suggested an expensive education and a credit card could be too poor to afford student bar prices. "It's so much cheaper than by the glass, and we won't have to keep going to the bar." Red wine had always given me headaches, but I ordered it then, and because Biba and Rex drank little else, I trained myself to like it that summer. I have never had a sip of it since, though. For me, the bouquet of rich red wine is now indivisible from another smell, metallic and warm and meaty all at once, one that summons up a slideshow of frozen images in my mind like a series of photographs in a police incident room.
Here's one item we can guarantee will be found under many readers' trees this holiday season: a boxed set of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. Packaged in a slipcase, the three books include maps and beautifully designed endpapers. The set also includes On Stieg Larsson, a collection of essays about and correspondence with the author. Retail price is $99, and you can buy them on November 26.
Either of these on your gift list—or wish list!—this year?
For example: Patricia Cornwell will publish two more Kay Scarpetta novels with Putnam. The 18th book in the series, Port Mortuary, hits stores on November 30.
Any predictions on what'll happen to Scarpetta in future novels? Here's a (vague) hint: The Boston Herald reported on August 6 that Cornwell visited the New England Aquarium to do research for a novel. She "toured the marine animal rescue facilities and attended a seal-training session."
What with Lifetime's adaptations of At Risk and The Front and news that Angelina Jolie will play Scarpetta on the big screen, it's been a busy year for Patricia Cornwell.
Are you still into the series after all these books? Will you read Port Mortuary?
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Vince Flynn and Brian Haig, both known for their political thriller prowess, are joining forces for a new series featuring the members of a NYC-based anti-terror operation.
“I’ve been a fan of Brian’s writing since his first book Secret Sanction and I’m excited to join forces with him on a project so close to my heart,” Flynn says. Haig is a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and formerly worked as an assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
No word yet on when this project will hit bookshelves, but thriller fans should watch this space.
Is there something about the last name "Patterson" that gives you automatic thriller writer credentials? Maybe. According to audio columnist Sukey Howard, Richard North Patterson's courtroom scenes, "with their edgy retorts and rebuttals, showcase the immediacy and emotional force of a good audio performance." His latest book, In the Name of Honor, is her top audio pick for this month.
Read the full review here. Have you heard any good audiobooks lately?
Scottish novelist Ian Rankin has become one of the best-known English-language crime writers. Fans worldwide wondered what he'd be up to next after publishing his last Rebus novel, Exit Music, in 2008.
Rankin released a stand-alone, Doors Open [read our review], in 2010, but 2011's novel introduces a new hero that could be as compelling as Inspector Rebus himself. Do we smell a series?
From the catalog:
Nobody likes “The Complaints”—they’re the cops who investigate other cops. It’s a department known within the force as “The Dark Side,” and it’s where Malcolm Fox works. He’s a serious man with a father in a nursing home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship—frustrating problems which he cannot seem to do anything about. The reluctant Fox is given the case of Jamie Breck. He’s a dirty cop, but no one can prove it. As Fox takes on the assignment, he learns that there’s more to Breck than anyone thinks—dangerous knowledge, especially when a vicious murder takes place far too close to home. In The Complaints, Rankin tells an unstoppable story about evil, redemption, and who decides right from wrong.
British author John le Carré, who does spy suspense like few others, has a new book coming this fall—from a new publisher. His 22nd novel, Our Kind of Traitor, will be published by Viking on October 12.
Though not much is known about the new book yet, Viking describes it as "a fast-moving story that reveals the battles of the British Secret Service in addition to the brutal maneuvering of the international criminal world."
Le Carré is nearly 80, but like his compatriot P.D. James, his age hasn't affected the quality of his work, which continues to garner top-notch reviews and hit bestseller lists.
Related in BookPage: Review of le Carré's last thriller, A Most Wanted Man.
This just in: our galley copy of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which is being released in the U.S. on May 25.
I still think it was silly of Knopf to wait so long to release Hornet (why punish the first, and probably most loyal, fans of the series? not to mention, the below screen cap suggests there were more than a few sales lost to ebooks, the UK edition and illegal downloads) but it has made the release of the finale an anticipated event.
The girl on the guerney could live with a piece of lead in her hip and a piece of lead in her shoulder. But a piece of lead inside her brain was a trauma of a whole different magnitude. He was suddenly aware of the nurse saying something.
"Sorry, I wasn't listening."
"What do you mean?"
"It's Lisbeth Salander. The girl they've been hunting for the past few weeks, for the triple murder in Stockholm."
Jonasson looked again at the unconscious patient's face. He realized at once that the nurse was right. He and the whole of Sweden had seen Salander's passport photograph on billboards outside every newspaper kiosk for weeks. And now the murderer herself had been shot, which was surely poetic justice of a sort.
But that was not his concern. His job was to save his patient's life, irrespective of whether she was a triple murderer or a Nobel Prize winner. Or both.
Are you counting the days until May 25?
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
With a movie adaptation set to hit theaters in just a month, now felt like the right time to finally read Dennis Lehane's best-selling suspense novel, Shutter Island. Nothing creeps me out more than something set in a mental institution, and this novel was no exception. It's 1954, and Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner have been sent to an island insane asylum to find a missing patient. But when a storm sets in and the doctors start acting suspicious, Teddy begins to question his mission—and his sanity.
"Beyond the wall, that way"—he pointed past Ward B—"is the original commander's quarters. You probably saw it on the walk up. Cost a fortune to build at the time, and the commander was relieved of his duties when Uncle Sam got the bill. You should see the place."
"Who lives there now?" Teddy said.
"Dr. Cawley," McPherson said. "None of this would exist if it weren't for Dr. Cawley. And the warden. They created something really unique here."
They'd looped around the back of the compound, met more manacled gardeners and orderlies, many hoeing a dark loam against the rear wall. One of the gardeners, a middle-aged woman with wispy wheat hair gone almost bald on top, stared at Teddy as he passed, and then raised a single finger to her lips. Teddy noticed a dark red scar, thick as licorice, that ran across her throat.
Related in BookPage: our interview with Lehane for The Given Day.
After the jump, you can watch the trailer for Martin Scorcese's adaptation Shutter Island—like the novel, it's guaranteed to give you the creeps!