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Re: "Ransom Notes"New Blog by PaulH

  Mysteries


The best mysteries introduce me to an unfamiliar world where I wander happily, a wide-eyed, thirsty stranger, drinking it all in


An Unthymely Death and Other Gardening Mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert: Book Cover

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Byline 

The Goliath Bone 

The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume 2 

The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume 1 

Hard Feelings 

Tough Luck 

Twisted City 

Lights Out 

Follower 

Fake I.D. 


 

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The Wisdom of Tony Hillerman

I was fortunate enough to win a short story award that was named after him. He'd written seventeen books in his series when I met him, was a New York Times best-selling fixture, and had won every award you can imagine.



The Shape Shifter (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #18)  Skeleton Man (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #17)  Sinister Pig (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #16)  Wailing Wind (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #15)  Hunting Badger (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #14)  First Eagle (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #13)  Fallen Man (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #12)  Sacred Clowns (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #11)  Coyote Waits (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #10)  Talking God (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #9)  Thief of Time (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #8)  Skinwalkers (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #7)  Ghostway (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #6)  Dark Wind (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #5)  People of Darkness (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #4)  Listening Woman (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #3)  Dance Hall of the Dead (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #2)  The Blessing Way (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #1)  The Dark Horse (Walt Longmire Series #5)  Another Man's Moccasins (Walt Longmire Series #4)  Kindness Goes Unpunished (Walt Longmire Series #3) 

Death without Company (Walt Longmire Series #2) 

 

 

 

 


 

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[ Edited ]


I will be forever grateful to my mother and Josephine Tey for the nudge that started me down the road that led to Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell. 

Reading The Daughter of Time was my epiphany.  In that moment, I realized you could do anything in crime fiction, so long as a) there was a mystery, and b) by the end of the book that mystery was solved.  The Daughter of Timestarted me down the road that led to Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell, and I will be forever grateful to my mother and Josephine Tey for the nudge.

 

Are you a Josephine Tey fan?

 

 

Editor's Note: Dana Stabenow, a New York Times bestseller and Edgar Award winner, is the author of sixteen Kate Shugak mysteries and four Liam Campbell mysteries.




An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey Mysteries Series) 

A Shilling for Candles (An Inspector Alan Grant Mystery)  To Love and Be Wise (An Inspector Alan Grant Mystery)  The Franchise Affair (An Inspector Alan Grant Mystery)  A Shilling for Candles (An Inspector Alan Grant Mystery)  The Singing Sands (An Inspector Alan Grant Mystery)  Miss Pym Disposes                
The Man in the Queue (An Inspector Alan Grant Mystery)  Brat Farrar  The Daughter of Time (An Inspector Alan Grant Mystery)  Whisper to the Blood (Kate Shugak Series #16)  A Deeper Sleep (Kate Shugak Series #15)  A Taint in the Blood (Kate Shugak Series #14)  A Grave Denied (Kate Shugak Series #13)  A Fine and Bitter Snow (Kate Shugak Series #12)  The Singing of the Dead (Kate Shugak Series #11)  The Singing of the Dead (Kate Shugak Series #11)  Midnight Come Again (Kate Shugak Series #10)  Hunter's Moon (Kate Shugak Series #9)  Killing Grounds (Kate Shugak Series #8)  Breakup (Kate Shugak Series #7)  Blood Will Tell (Kate Shugak Series #6)  Play with Fire (Kate Shugak Series #5)  A Cold-Blooded Business (Kate Shugak Series #4)  Dead in the Water (Kate Shugak Series #3)  So Sure of Death (Liam Campbell Series #2)  Alaska Women Writers 

 

 

 

 

A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Series #1) 

 

 

IF YOU LIKE JOSEPHINE TEY, YOU MIGHT ENJOY THIS BOOK BY NICOLA UPSON, TOO: 

 

 

An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey Mysteries Series)

 

 

 

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Bury Me Deep

 

Burrowing My Way into Ellroy's Dark Places

Ellroy showed me how big life is, even in fiction, even in crime fiction -- especially in crime fiction, where hearts can be laid bare shamelessly, openly.

 

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Ransom-Notes/Burrowing-My-Way-into-Ellroy-s-Dark-Places/ba-p/...

 

There's a danger to influence. There are times when I won't let myself peruse that shelf in my book case, as much as The Big Nowhere and My Dark Places call to me. But Ellroy's virtuosity, his heft -- it's all his own, and in the end, I know my writing is my own too. Still, every time I open one of his books, part of me hopes a little of that shimmer will rub off on me. Just a little.

 

Have you succumbed to Ellroy's dark places?

 

 

Editor's Note: Megan Abbott is the Edgar Award-winning author of Queenpin. Her latest book, Bury Me Deep

 

 

 



 

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Don't forget to check the new posts at Ransom Notes! I'll have to post the links when I get back home. I'm still out of town and my computer is working really slow right now.

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Mysteries and Moral Questions


In writing crime fiction, what gets me moving, every time, is a question. Moral, ethical, philosophical, it doesn't matter, so long as I want to explore it. 


Excerpt from the post:

For example, in THE AMATEURS, my latest, there are two: What happens if your best friends become your worst enemies?  And, which is worth more --- the lives of a handful of people you love or many you don't know?

 

That kind of questioning is at the heart of compelling crime fiction.  We read this genre less to find out who killed so-and-so, and more to ask ourselves whether murder can be justified.  Less to find out who is behind the conspiracy, and more to consider the seductive impact of power on character.  Less to find out if Manhattan is incinerated and more to consider the seeds of rage and revenge. 

 

And as long as writers keep asking questions, we're happy to put on a pot of coffee and stay up all night.

 

So, after you pick up the twenty, do you ask the woman if it's hers or slide it in your pocket?

 

 

Editor's Note: Marcus Sakey is the bestselling author of four novels.  His latest, The Amateurs, was called "genius" by the Chicago Tribune




Blade Itself 

At the City's Edge 

Good People 

Blade Itself 

 




 

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Things Are Not Always What They Seem


One of my favorite crime stories of all time is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I don't think it is generally considered to be a part of the genre, but to my mind it has all the elements of a classic crime story.

Excerpt:

I am not very interested in the technical aspects of crime stories, the plots and plotpoints or elaborate police procedures.  I like to stick with the characters I much as I can and the murderer as a victim of his own cruel destiny.  I don't like much violence either, and with very few exceptions, you don't find much of it in my books. 

 

The most difficult book I have ever written was Silence of the Grave because it was about domestic violence, and in order to get the point across I had to make it real and uncomfortable for the reader. But I had no fun writing it.  In that book the murderer, the most innocent of all the characters, is only doing what he thinks is his duty when there is no way out.  No more.  No less.  Much like poor George in Of Mice and Men.

 

What are some other "classics" that fit the crime genre?

 

 

Editor's Note: Arnaldur Indridason is the author of the Reykjavík Murder Mysteries. His latest novel, Arctic Chill has been hailed as "a beautifully layered mystery notable for its breadth and depth."


Arctic Chill (Reykjavik Thriller Series #5) 

The Draining Lake (Reykjavik Thriller Series #4) 

Voices (Reykjavik Thriller Series #3) 

Silence of the Grave (Reykjavik Thriller Series #2) 

Jar City (Reykjavik Thriller Series #1) 

 

 

 

Of Mice and Men

 

 

 

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[ Edited ]

Hounding the Pavement Steeped in Mystery

 

Concocting and carrying out a mystery is, to say the least, a daunting task. Mystery readers are tough. Besides being clever, they're never afraid to tell you where you went wrong.

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Ransom-Notes/Steeped-in-Mystery/bc-p/419347#M269

 

Excerpt:

 

Luck was with me when I came up with my characters. I'd always loved dogs, owned three, and imagined them talking to me each day. Give them good food, a comfortable bed, and a belly rub every once in a while and they're loyal and loving. They will never let you down.    

 

Best of all, I had the perfect dog to star in my series. My own boy, Rudy, a Yorkie mix I'd raised from a pup who slept next to me each night, guarded my office while I wrote, and listened to every word I spoke as if it was sacred. Though he and I said good-bye almost nine months ago, he will live on in my future novels. Why he left my life will always be a mystery, but what he gave me when we were together will always be my joy.

 

 

Editor's Note: Judi McCoy is the author of the Dog Walker Mystery series

 

 

Heir of the Dog

 

 

 

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The guest blog at Ransom Notes today is our former featured author LISA UNGER!

 

Doorways to the Dark Side


I am often asked why I chose to write about crime, why I tend to explore dark themes, and the uglier side of human nature.


Excerpt:

I am often asked why I chose to write about crime, why I tend to explore dark themes, and the uglier side of human nature.  But I didn't choose that, any more than I chose to be a writer in the first place.   I have been drawn to these things as long as I can remember, first as a reader and now as a writer.  I am fascinated by human nature and by motivations, by the idea of actions and consequences, and how people act in extreme circumstances.   Each of these books explore that territory in unique and gripping ways, and each of them offered me permission to open the creaking door and step inside.

 

What books have opened the door to the "Dark Side" for you?

 

 

Editor's Note: Lisa Unger is the bestselling author of the Ridley Jones books. Her latest novel, Die For You


 

 

 

Die for You 

Black Out

 

Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones Series #2)

 

 

 

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Touchstones & Tea Shop Mysteries


Mysteries have to thrill, chill, and carry readers away for a few brief shivering moments -- or hours.

Excerpt:

A couple of quotes, scrawled in longhand, hang on my computer.  My favorite one is from Tom Hanks in the movie, A League of Their Own.  It goes: "It's supposed to be hard.  If it wasn't hard everybody would be doing it.  It's the hard that makes it great."

 

Where do I get my ideas?  Everywhere.  In the air I breathe, the magazines, books, and newspapers I read, the daily events in this crazy, wildly spinning world.  Where do I get my drive and inspiration?  From the touchstones bestowed on me by friends, family, and some very dear readers.

 

What inspires you?

 

Editor's Note: Laura Childs is the author of the bestselling Tea Shop MysteriesScrapbook Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries.

 

(Laura Childs has written a LOT of books - I've posted links to a random selection of her titles.)



Shades of Earl Grey (Tea Shop Series #3)  Gunpowder Green (Tea Shop Series #2)  Oolong Dead (Tea Shop Series #10)  Death by Darjeeling (Tea Shop Series #1)  English Breakfast Murder (Tea Shop Series #4)  Silver Needle Murder (Tea Shop Series #9)  Death Swatch (Scrapbooking Series #6)  Tragic Magic (Scrapbooking Series #7)  Eggs Benedict Arnold (Cackleberry Club Series #2) 

 

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Literature's Dark Horses


I gravitate toward the underdogs of literature, even toward supporting characters like Cletus Purcell in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series.

Excerpt:
I remember reading Pat Conroy's novel in the early spring of 1981, just like it was yesterday. I was fresh out of college, a kid from Charleston starving as a banker in New York City, who lived for wild weekends. I picked up the novel one Saturday afternoon and lost myself in Conroy's world of friendship and betrayal inside a Southern military academy. Again, Pat Conroy is not a classic "mystery writer." But there's plenty of mystery as Will McLean, a hero and an underdog, battles the secretive group known as "the Ten."

 

 

That Saturday, I read through dinner and into the evening. I lost all track of time and place. Immersed in another world, I forgot it was the weekend -- my time to prowl. That is, I forget until the phone rang at 10 p.m. The events that followed -- a chance meeting with a rogue billionaire, the greatest ice cream sundae of all time, and the 4:00 a.m. end to my night across town with no money and one shoe -- those are vignettes that will find their way into my future novels.

 

Who are your favorite underdogs?

 

 

Editor's Note: Norb Vonnegut is a former financial advisor. His debut novel, Top Producer, was released in September.

 



Top Producer  Swan Peak (Dave Robicheaux Series #17)  Swan Peak (Dave Robicheaux Series #17) 

 

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Confessions of a Failed Sci-Fi Author

Unfortunately, my first novel read like the unwanted offspring of Robert Heinlein and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Excerpt:

My mystery collection takes up two large bookcases, the top of the parlour credenza, and most of the floor space around my bed. It comprises everything from Golden Age classics to advance copies of books that won't be out until next year. Yes, I still love to read science fiction. It just isn't the field I was meant to plow.

 

On the other hand...genre blending is all the rage. I wonder if I could interest my agent in Murder on the Space Station?

 

Are you a fan of blended genres? Which ones?

 

 

Editor's Note: Julia Spencer-Fleming is the multiple award winning author of the Claire Fergussun novels. She lives in a 190-year-old farmhouse outside of Portland, Maine, with three children, two dogs, and one husband.




One Was a Soldier (Clare Fergusson Series #7)  I Shall Not Want (Clare Fergusson Series #6)  All Mortal Flesh (Clare Fergusson Series #5)  To Darkness and to Death (Clare Fergusson Series #4)  Out of the Deep I Cry (Clare Fergusson Series #3)  A Fountain Filled with Blood (Clare Fergusson Series #2)  In the Bleak Midwinter (Clare Fergusson Series #1)  Sand Sharks (Deborah Knott Series #15)  Bootlegger's Daughter (Deborah Knott Series #1)  The Price of Malice (Joe Gunther Series #20) 

 

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Brooding Horizons & Savage Human Hearts


James Lee Burke writes with blazing passion and a command of language, creating vivid settings and compelling characters

When I read a Burke novel, I'm acutely aware of the skill he brings to the page. He sets a high standard. One I'll spend my writing life attempting to achieve.

 

What's your favorite James Lee Burke novel?

 

 

Editor's Note: Carolyn Haines is the ward winning author of seventeen novels, including nine titles in the Sara Booth Delaney series.

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Ransom-Notes/Brooding-Horizons-amp-Savage-Human-Hearts/bc-p/4...



In the Moon of Red Ponies (Billy Bob Holland Series #4) 

Bitterroot (Billy Bob Holland Series #3)

 

Heartwood (Billy Bob Holland Series #2)

 

Cimarron Rose (Billy Bob Holland Series #1)

 

In the Moon of Red Ponies (Billy Bob Holland Series #4)

 

Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3)

 

Heaven's Prisoners (Dave Robicheaux Series #2)

 

The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux Series #1)

 

Greedy Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #9)

 

Wishbones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #8)

 

Ham Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #7)

 

Bones to Pick (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #6)

 

Hallowed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #5)

 

Crossed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #4)

 

Splintered Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #3)

 

Buried Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #2)

 

 

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 Why Great Books Are A Mystery...


You can take the author out of the mystery, but you can't take the mystery out of the author!
Excerpt:

Even as I venture into other genres I find that you can take the author out of the mystery, but you can't take the mystery out of the author!  I've just begun a children's middle-grade adventure that I absolutely love writing, and there are puzzles, within enigmas within mysteries in that series.  It's gobs of fun!

 

For me, it's all about turning a devotion of reading great mysteries into a passion for writing them.  It's the process of discovery and revelation that is so inspiring and fascinating to me.  I suppose that I just firmly believe that really good books tell a great story, but great books tell a really good mystery.

 

Do you prefer multiple mysteries in one book or is one enough?

 

 

Editor's Note: Victoria Laurie is the bestselling author of both The Ghost Hunter and Psychic Eye series.

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Ransom-Notes/Why-Great-Books-Are-A-Mystery/ba-p/424174



Doom with a View (Psychic Eye Series #7)  Death Perception (Psychic Eye Series #6)  Crime Seen (Psychic Eye Series #5)  Killer Insight (Psychic Eye Series #4)  A Vision of Murder (Psychic Eye Series #3)  Better Read Than Dead (Psychic Eye Series #2)  Ghouls Gone Wild (Ghost Hunter Mystery Series #4)  Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun (Ghost Hunter Mystery Series #3)  Demons Are a Ghoul's Best Friend (Ghost Hunter Mystery Series #2)  What's a Ghoul to Do? (Ghost Hunter Mystery Series #1)