CrimeReads: 10 New Books Coming Out This Week ‹ CrimeReads. https://crimereads.com/10-new-books-coming-out-this-week-february-21-2022/
CrimeReads: 10 New Books Coming Out This Week ‹ CrimeReads. https://crimereads.com/10-new-books-coming-out-this-week-february-14-2022/
In David Bell’s newest mystery, “Kill All Your Darlings,” Connor Nye’s life is rapidly deteriorating. Indeed, the college professor, who is still mourning the death of his wife and son five years earlier, knows he might not make tenure unless he publishes something quick. Lost in grief, it’s an impossible task.
But fate seems to toss him a life line. Madeline, one of his best students, disappeared suddenly two years ago after spending the night drinking and chatting with Connor and other students at a local bar. Connor doesn’t remember much about how the night ended; he was too inebriated. But he does remember Madeline’s manuscript, an amazingly written thriller about a murder.
When Madeline doesn’t reappear and it seems more likely that Connor may lose his job, he submits her work as his own. It seems safe enough. No one has heard from her in two years, she didn’t use a computer to write her manuscript, and he is the only one with a copy.
After celebrating the book’s publication at a get-together where he’s showered with praise, and believing that his life is finally back on track, Connor arrives home to find he has an uninvited guest.
Madeline has returned and she wants Connor to pay for stealing her manuscript. He doesn’t have the money she wants; it’s already gone to pay bills.
To make matters worse, Madeline isn’t the only unexpected visitor at the Nye home.
A police detective arrives the next morning as Connor is on his way to class. She questions Connor about his book and how the descriptions of the murder match exactly with the facts police have been withholding. Now, Connor not only risks losing his job and his reputation, he also appears to be a suspect in an unsolved murder. He grapples with whether to tell the truth or not, and decides not to.
“The cover-up is always worse than crime,” says David Bell, a professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he directs the MFA program. “Politicians never learn that — a lot of people don’t.”
The phrase “kill all your darlings” most likely originated with Nobel Prize Laureate William Faulkner, who said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Or in other words, kill any characters, even the ones you love, that don’t move the story forward. The characters that do remain in Bell’s book include a licentious department head who preys on young, vulnerable female students. It’s a subject that Bell also explores in his book.
“Since the Me Too movement, though we’ve become aware of all these situations, it still happens,” he said, noting that what the existing power structures will do to keep these situations quiet is for the school’s sake not the students’.
David Bell virtual event
What: Parnassus Books will host author David Bell for a discussion of his book “Kill All Your Darlings,” with May Cobb, author of “The Hunting Wives.”
How to join in: Visit Parnassus Books Facebook page: www.facebook.com/parnassusbooks1/ and click on the Events page.
Cost: The event is free.
FYI: After the live talk has ended, a video will be archived on the Parnassus Books Facebook page under Videos and available for watching.
Seduced by the lifestyle of the family she’s photographing, celebrity photographer Delta Dawn immediately sets about immersing herself into their life, volunteering to babysit. She soon has access to the house—drinking their wine, bathing in their tub, becoming good friends with Amelia and sending out seductive vibes to Fritz.
If Delta Dawn, an elite New York society photographer, doesn’t see beauty she creates it as well as her own version of reality. A whiz with photo editing tools, she can create the scenes she wants to convey. A scowling child. No problem, she can turn that into an adoring smile. A cold and aloof family. There are ways to manipulate the bodies in the pictures she takes to bring them closer together, soften their stiffness, and turn them into a lovely and loving family to be envied.
But that envy overtakes Dawn in The Photographer, Mary Dixie Carter’s mystery-thriller when she is hired to do a photo shoot of successful architects Amelia and Fritz Straub and their 11-year-old daughter, Natalie. A catty observer, Dawn quickly sums up situations—and others—quickly. Amelia, she quickly notes when they first meet, despite being striking with a magnetic personality isn’t as pretty as she is. Her breasts aren’t as large, nor is her waist as small, and she’s at least ten years older. Dawn immediately prices Amelia’s Montcler coat as costing more than $2000. Then there’s Amelia’s handsome husband with his amazing green eyes. And let’s not forget their wonderful house.
Seduced by what she sees, Dawn immediately sets about immersing herself into their life, volunteering to babysit. She soon has access to the house—drinking their wine, bathing in their tub, becoming good friends with Amelia and sending out seductive vibes to Fritz.
“Several years back, I hired a photographer to take pictures of my two children,” Carter wrote in answer to questions I emailed to her. “The pictures came back, and they were beautiful, but my children’s eyes in the photos were cobalt blue, not their actual color. ‘I want my children’s eyes to be their real color,’ I said. She responded: ‘There is no real color.’ That sentence stuck with me. I started to think about the psychology behind that idea: There’s no real color, there’s no real anything. Delta Dawn doesn’t feel restricted to the reality of the situation. She alters an image to make it what she needs it to be.”
This is the first book for Carter, who graduated from Harvard with honors and previously worked as an actress. Though she says she’s not a good photographer, she took classes in both photography and photo editing while writing the book.
“I learned enough so that I understand some of the basic concepts,” she says. “I did a good deal of research on photo editing and the various ways in which one can alter pictures of people.”
When it came to her characters, Carter let them evolve as she wrote including Dawn.
“I didn’t want her to edit herself,” she says. I wanted her to go as far as possible.”
There goes the neighborhood.
Set in a town on Long Island not unlike the one where she grew up. Sarah Langan’s Good Neighbors, an Amazon Best of February Pick, is formatted like a sociological study exploring a crime that happened in the past.
“My roots are in horror and I thought about making this a slasher book,” says Langan, who projects normalcy despite having written award winning horror novels. “But that seemed too simplistic for a book about our culture and themes like mob mentality.”
But the foreboding of horror books is prevalent here as we watch the neighbors on Maple Street turn on the Wildes, the newest family on the block.
It all begins with the falling out between two moms—beautiful, compliant and overwhelmed Gertie Wilde, an abused child grown into a beauty queen who is married to a once-almost famous rock and roller named Arlo. Their two kids have issues too. Julia’s vocabulary is profane but even more oddly, their son seems to believe he’s a robot. That’s quite a contrast with Rhea, an ultra-successful academic who seems to have the perfect everything—job, husband, and family that seems typical of all the families in the neighborhood.
The Wildes want to fit in but if there’s an unwritten rule book about how to act and what to say, they don’t have a copy and their differences set them apart from everyone else. But beyond that, climate change is wreaking havoc adding its own sinister atmosphere to Maple Street when a huge toxic sinkhole opens up in the neighborhood’s green space. But this is no ordinary gap in the ground. Instead it’s an ever growing malevolent force taking over the neighborhood. Evil, it first sucks up a family dog and then Rhea’s daughter who gets too close.
“Most horror writers are gentle people who are outraged at how people are treated and what is going on in the world,” says Langan.
For Langan, that outrage in Good Neighbors focuses on climate change and the toxicity of neighborhoods that occurs when people treat those who are different unkindly.
Log on to Reddit on Saturday August 22nd at 4:30 p.m. for “Ask Me Anything with True Crime Authors,” featuring four best selling authors who will be answering your questions live!
Submit your question about writing, work, real-life crimes, cover-ups, covert operations, all-time favorite snacks, and anything in between and read through responses as the authors write them!
Registrants will receive a direct link to the Ask Me Anything hosted on Reddit.com; in order to ask a question, please note you will need access to a free Reddit account.
This text-only event will be hosted on a specific Reddit page. You can access this event by clicking the orange “GO TO ONLINE EVENT PAGE” button in your Eventbrite email confirmation or by following the direct link that will be shared via email about 10 minutes before scheduled start time.
Visit BookYourSummerLive.com for more information!
Maureen Callahan, author of American Predator, is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New York, Spin, and the New York Post, where she is currently critic-at-large. She lives in New York.
Amaryllis Fox, author of Life Undercover, had a CIA career in the field and now covers current events and offered analysis for CNN, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and other global news outlets. She speaks at events and universities around the world on the topic of peacemaking. She is the co-host of History Channel’s series American Ripper and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.
Dr. Lee Mellor Ph.D. is a criminologist, lecturer, musician, and the author of seven books on crime including Behind the Horror. He received his doctorate from Montreal’s Concordia University after specializing in abnormal homicide and sex crimes. As the chair of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases’ academic committee, he has consulted with police on cold cases in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, and London, Ontario. He resides in Ontario, Canada.
Ariel Sabar, is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He is the author of My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He also authored Veritas: A Harvard Professor, A Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.
An isolated island, two unsolved murders two decades apart, and a megalomaniacal director are all part of the job for Marissa Dahl, a talented film director who finds herself in the middle of it all.
In Pretty as a Picture, Elizabeth Little’s latest thriller, film director Marissa Dahl accepts a job to work on an isolated island off the coast of Delaware with the notoriously erratic director Tony Rees. When she arrives on the set, Dahl doesn’t know much about her new job except that the movie is about a woman who was murdered there two decades ago. But there’s more going on besides a megalomaniacal director and an old unsolved murder. Rees wants the movie to convey, in graphic detail, the woman’s death; numerous scandals are about to erupt and before long, another woman is found dead. Will she be next, Marissa wonders?
Extremely talented Marissa, who has high functioning-like autistic social interactions, is befriended by two completed wired-in teenaged girls when she goes in search of peanut butter. The girls are convinced that there’s more to the local murder than meets the eye. Teaming up they work to solve the mystery.
Little knows Hollywood. Her husband had many miserable years there working in the business (he’s now getting a degree in social worker) and she’s met her share of outrageous and egotistical directors. That in part is why she wrote this, her second mystery.
“With Pretty as a Picture, I had known for a couple of months that I wanted to write something about the film business—I live in Los Angeles and am married to an ex-filmmaker, so it was a subject that was very close at hand,” says Little. “I tried writing a few chapters, working out some of the plot lines, but nothing really took root until I realized that my main character was a film editor who was far more comfortable in the company of her favorite movies than in that of real-life people. I wish I could say that inspiration struck suddenly—or even efficiently—but I think I just had to write my way into the realization.”
Little describes herself as writing in a highly immersive first-person perspective.
“I want my readers to be in both the heads and the bodies of my narrators, to really feel what they’re feeling,” she says. “And in order to do this, I work really hard to put myself into a place, mentally, where I’m able to credibly conjure up the physical and emotional sensations of my narrators. I don’t just put myself in their shoes, in other words—I put myself in their muscle and sinew and skin. It’s a little extreme at times, to be honest, and I wonder at times if I’m Daniel Day Lewissing it—when I finish a day of work, it can really feel like I’m finally coming up for air. It’s probably far too pretentious an approach for a thriller writer, but it seems, so far, to be working for me.”
Little may not like Hollywood, but she does like Marissa.
“She’s particularly dear to me because she’s so deeply uncool and sweet and weird,” she says. “She’s vulnerable and awkward and loyal and hilarious and annoying and really, really good at her job. I love her. I hope readers love her, too.”
Poor Patty Watts. She did everything she could for her daughter Rose Gold who was confined to a wheelchair, allergic to everything and struggled with an unbelievable number of health issues beginning at birth. Patty couldn’t work because she devoted herself to her daughter’s care. Luckily neighbors were kind, holding fundraisers and helping Patty anyway they could. She was described as a supermom.
Only she wasn’t. Instead, she was constantly feeding Rose Gold ipecac, making her vomit and manipulating doctors like getting one to put the two-year-old girl on a feeding tube and then not giving her the amount of food she needed. All this was to ensure that Rose Gold would remain gravely ill. When she was discovered, Patty went from a hero to prison, where she spent five years for aggravated child abuse. Rose Gold, in the meantime, had a child and learned to live on her own. Then Patty was released from prison and needed a place to live. Would Rose take her in? And what would happen when she did?
Wrobel was intrigued by stories told by her best friend, a school psychologist, about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP).
“The mother-daughter bond is supposed to be sacred,” says Wrobel, in a phone call from England where she has lived for the last few years. “But that’s not the case in MSBP, a mental health disorder where a caregiver fakes or induces illness in the person they’re taking care of. The more research I did on the subject, the more fascinated and appalled I became. In most cases, the perpetrators are mothers acting out of a need for attention or love from authority figures within the medical community.”
Wanting to get into the head of both the victim and the perpetrator, Wrobel tells the story of mother and daughter from both points of view. Patty, it seems, has developed such an impenetrable armor, she’s unable to see the evil she’s done. Rose Gold, tougher now, wants to pay back those who have done her harm. But, as they say, it’s complicated.
After staying up late reading The Other Mrs. by Chicago author Mary Kubica, I have a word of advice for women out there. If you’re husband’s sister commits suicide and her home on a remote island off the coast of Maine is yours if you agree to live there and take care of her defiant teen-aged daughter, just say no.
But unfortunately, Sadie, a Chicago physician didn’t do that. Instead, after a brief lapse in consciousness where she walked out of an operating room and was later found on the edge of a roof, she and her husband Will—a charming and handsome man with an eye for ladies—take the offer. Sadie was about to lose her job and her license and besides, she’s just found out that Will was having an affair. So the couple pack up their children and move into Alice’s home. It’s the kind of place where doors squeak at night, the wind howls outside and the frayed rope Alice used to hang herself still swings from the rafter in the attic. Then, things take even more sinister of a turn when Morgan, a nearby neighbor is found murdered in her home.
Obviously, the move was a bad choice and to make it worse, Sadie, working as a doctor in a clinic, still finds herself losing track of time and what she is doing. Add to that, she also worries about Will, a stay-at-home dad for their two sons, and his friendships with pretty mothers whose children play with theirs. If he cheated once, will he do so again, she wonders. Even worse, though Sadie never met Morgan, an elderly couple claim they saw her tear out a chunk of her hair during a fight in the days before her murder.
This is Kubica’s sixth novel and her last five have made the New York Times and USA Today best seller list.
“I love to work under the surface with people—there really is so much we don’t know about people,” says Kubica, a former high school history teacher who starts with a premise for her plots and then let’s her writing—and her characters—take her along for a ride so to speak. “My characters really drive what I write. I can start off in one direction and then the book can go a different way.”
Kubica seems to live a normal life. That is until after her teenaged children go to school, then spends her days in this dark, psychologically twisted world of sublevels and secrets. Two of her favorite authors are Megan Abbott and Paula Hawkins who also write about women in peril who are often unreliable narrators—causing readers to wonder if they can believe their stories. It all adds to the suspense. But readers should understand, Kubica is often just as surprised as they are.
“I have no idea what to expect,” she says. “But it’s fun.”
Never one to hide her feelings, Lisbeth Salander is angry and back for vengeance in the sixth novel of the series that started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Abused by both her mobster father as well as the psychiatrist treating her, Lisbeth is an avenging angel of sorts—determined to punish evil and the powerful people who prey on others. Her doppelganger is her own twin sister Camilla.
“The sisters chose different sides,” says author David Lagercrantz, discussing the plot of The Girl Who Lived Twice in a phone call from Stockholm, Sweden where he lives. “Camilla chose the strength—her father and Lisbeth chose taking care of the weak—protecting her mother from her father’s violence. The sisters are bitter enemies, and this is their final battle.”
Though social skills aren’t one of Salander’s strong suits—she likely falls on the autism spectrum, she does have the ability to hack through the fire walls of almost any computer system. Add to that her martial arts abilities and photographic memory and she makes a worthy adversary of her equally brilliant but pathological sister.
Lagercrantz, who is embarking on a two month worldwide tour, took over writing the Salander series after the death of Steig Larsson, author of the original three novels.
“I was scared to death to death when they asked me to do this,” says Lagercrantz, noting he was smuggled into a side door of the publishing house to avoid speculation he was being selected to write the best selling thrillers. “It was a suicidal mission in many ways to agree to do it because people loved his books so much. But it’s been fantastic.”
Like Larsson, Lagercrantz’s Salander novels are complex, leading Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, the crusading journalist who befriended her, into a dark world of scheming crooks, billionaires and corrupt politicians. The latter includes the Minister of Defense, the only survivor of a Mount Everest climbing expedition who may be involved in the murder of a homeless Nepalese Sherpa.
Lagercrantz says The Girl Who Lived Twice will be his final book in the series.
“They’d like me to write ten or more, but I want to move on to my own fiction,” he says. “It was a bittersweet decision.”
In an intriguing aside, Lagercrantz lives in the same neighborhood as the fictional Blomkvist and Salander.
“When I’m walking, I sometime wonder if I’ll run into them,” he says.
What would he say if he did?
“That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?” he says.