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Update: Denise Mina Will Be Writing the Remaining Two Graphic Novels in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy

Mar 20, 2013 in Graphic Novels

When we last checked in with Denise Mina, she had just finished working on Vertigo’s graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In a recent conversation, she revealed that she’s already working on the next two books featuring Lisbeth Salander:

Will you be working on the rest of the Millennium Trilogy graphic novels?

Denise Mina: Yes! I’m writing the rest of them too! I’m halfway through the script for The Girl Who Played With Fire and moving on to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I’m loving it. It’s great to be writing comics again and with an adaptation I can worry more about the visuals and less about the narrative arc. The books are so dense it’s a matter of cutting back and cutting back. The second part of Dragon Tattoo will be out soon.

Hooray for us! And while you’re waiting for those volumes to drop from Vertigo, we can’t recommend Mina’s Gods and Beasts enough. Check out the opening pages for yourself.

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What Is a Mystery?

Mar 18, 2013 in Guest Posts, Writing

fascination*Every once in awhile, when my (ahem) amazing job comes up in conversation, someone will ask me, if not: “What is a mystery?” outright, another question along similar lines. Could be someone curious how the category has evolved in the years since Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Dupin and Hercule Poirot. Or it could be an avid reader just discovering a love of suspense, yet finding themselves somewhat flummoxed by all the subcategorization—with police procedurals, cozies, psychological thrillers, and so many more, the permutations can at times seem endless.

So what is a mystery? I’m sure for Mulholland Books readers, the answer comes easy. A mystery involves a crime, and centers around the investigations of a protagonist who endeavors to bring justice to its perpetrators. We often refer to this as the “solution” to the mystery, despite the fact that the crime most commonly depicted—murder—is irrevocable and, thus, unsolvable. (See: Detective Ramone’s penultimate speech in Pelecanos’s The Night Gardener.)

The other, slightly more slippery version of this prompt: What’s the difference between a mystery and a thriller?

Conversationally, readers often use the terms interchangeably to discuss any novel that engages the tropes of the crime fiction genre, or operates within the suspense paradigm. But the terms aren’t actually as exchangeable as we make them out to be. The answer has a lot to do with Hitchcock’s famous speech on the art of creating suspense—the bomb under the table, a very neat example from a master storyteller and a useful example for also highlighting the differences in the genres:

We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”

Hitchcock’s version of events is a classic thriller premise—a crime is about to be committed, one which readers have been alerted to. But begin this story fifteen minutes later, just as the bomb explodes, and you have yourself a crime and mystery—the identity of the perpetrator—in need of a solving.  It’s all in the timing—start in one place, and you have a novel centered around anticipation, a thriller. Start later and you’ll find yourself in classic mystery territory.

Does this mean a mystery can’t be suspenseful? Certainly not—the path to each mystery’s solution is often littered with mid-novel scenes just like the thriller premise that Hitchcock describes, in which our protagonist’s life has been placed in danger and the survival, or successful unveiling of the truth itself, has been placed in suspense. Which is where the term mystery/thriller comes in handy, and why the two categories have become more and more confused in the past few years. Many of our most successful crime novelists have become masters at blending the categories so that suspense is as much the name of the game as the investigation at hand.

Take, say, Lee Child’s Reacher series. Most if not all of his novels are actually mysteries, despite Child’s reputation as one of our best thriller writers around. The Affair finds Reacher wrapped up in an unsolved murder case that will change the course of his life—and readers don’t discover the identity of the murderer until the novel’s climactic scenes. The Hard Way finds Reacher in New York City, investigating the kidnapping of a wealthy paramilitary figure’s wife–and we as readers won’t find out why or how she was taken until very late in the game. We often talk about these stories as thrillers, and quite understandably—they both certainly thrill—but given the unsolved crimes at their center, both are actually mysteries, strictly speaking. If Reacher were just a six-and-a-half-foot-tall, gorilla-faced guy who happens to be an ace in a fight, would readers really care for him in quite the same way? I doubt it—he’d still be in Carter Crossing, Mississippi, interviewing murder suspects, having never quite resolved the events of The Affair in the first place!

All of which begs the question, Mulholland Books reader: How do you prefer your bombs? Still ticking? Or already gone off?

Wes Miller is Mulholland Books’ Associate Editor and Marketing Associate. If Mulholland were a crime novel instead of an imprint that publishes them, Wes would be its PI—the stalwart presence resolving its issues, making sure at the end of the day, justice gets served and good prevails—at least until tomorrow comes. Reach him through the Mulholland Books twitter account (@mulhollandbooks), on Tumblr (mulhollandbooks.tumblr.com) or right here on the Mulholland Books website.

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Start Reading Beauty by Brian D’Amato

Mar 13, 2013 in Excerpts, Mulholland Authors

This year’s Mulholland Classic, BEAUTY by Brian D’Amato, was hailed by Dean Koontz as “absolutely irresistible,” proclaimed by Peter Straub a “breathtaking” novel “bristling and humming with intelligence,” and acclaimed in the Chicago Sun-Times as “superb” when first published nearly twenty years ago.

Read on for a sneak peek at the novel’s first chapters–and don’t miss the D’Amato-penned illustrations and reading group guide exclusive to our edition, now back in bookstores everywhere!

1

An egg floated in the void. It rotated on its vertical axis as the blackness behind it gradated toward a dark ultramarine purple. It moved closer, in microscopic increments. Its surface was absolutely pure, smoother than any real egg and scaleless in its non-space. Rose-colored light fell on it from a source apparently somewhere between the egg and the implied observer, and the light pooled one-third of the way down the surface in a spot that suggested its texture was, perhaps, slightly more glossy than that of a real egg.

Then an irregularity seemed to appear in the lower center of the oval. At first it was so slight, it might have been imaginary: a faint depression, with perhaps a slight bunching-out above and below. The depression and swellings grew, becoming more distinct with agonizing slowness. It was an order of motion that animals or machines never approach, the slowness of plants, or of crystals forming in solutions. Above the irregularity, two more slight indentations, identical round concavities in the pristine surface, manifested themselves with the same intense deliberation. They were symmetrically aligned along the vertical axis. As they worked their way into the surface of the egg, the light highlighted over and under them and shadows began to form, first soft like airbrush marks, then soft only on top and hard-edged on their lower sides.

Suddenly the egg passed over the threshold of abstraction, the invisible barrier that separates a geometric form from the most basic figurative paradigm.

It was a face.

The eyes and mouth became more distinct. The outlines of cheekbones and the hollows under them began to alter the silhouette of the egg itself. A nose began to protrude ever so slightly, and tiny indentations under it developed into near-nostrils. Buds sprouted that would eventually be ears. A peach color began to spread beneath the surface like an Icelandic dawn. Now the eyes had a hairless eyebrow ridge and closed lids not quite separated from the flesh beneath them. The lips were still fused, but they were lips, complete with hollows at the corners and the depression beneath the nose. The wings of the nostrils extruded slightly. The forehead broadened. It was a face, but not a human face. It was a face from some idealized realm beyond death and life, ageless and silent and beautiful. It was still embryonic, and more like mathematics than flesh. But it was becoming an entity.

I typed out halt f9 on the keyboard. There was no perceptible change, but somehow you could tell the growth had stopped. And I’d stopped it before it had left the land of the undead for the land of the (at least in appearance) living.

I punched in a few coordinates and moved the mouse-cursor over the face, up to the command line at the top of the screen. I clicked it on wire frame, and instantly a small screen appeared on the lower left of the image, blocking out part of the face but showing it again, schematically, with triangular facets etched in orange lines against dark blue. I moved the cursor down to the region of the eyes and began to program.

After eighteen minutes, I clicked off the wire-frame screen and typed resume image generate on the command line. The egg disintegrated itself, then reappeared a few seconds later, slightly closer. Very, very slowly, the eyelids began to rise. A mirrorlike surface appeared under them, a strange, cold, wet-looking lavender substance. Then the circle of the iris came into view, emerald green against the lavender, with magenta and golden facets shifting under the green like the spicules in Mexican fire opals. And then, as the lids passed the halfway point, the pupils should have come into view. But there were no pupils. The eyes were fully open and the face looked straight at me with the blind, soulless, malevolent blank stare of a demon.

I looked back for what seemed like a long time. I heard a scratching sound at my left wrist and recoiled from the desk, hitting my head against the wall. A coil of paper was extruding itself from my fax machine. I peeled it off and read it:

have you turned your ringer off?

don’t forget, penny penn appointment 2:00

I’ll be there in 45 mins. david.

I allowed myself to look back at the screen for a few minutes. I rotated the head through 360 degrees, thinking about the profile and the three-quarter views. The Face was becoming a thing of awesome beauty, I thought, unless I was just flattering myself. I didn’t think I was, though. I wondered whether I’d ever really get the chance to implement it. I typed save and shut down the computer and got up. My back cracked a bit. I’d been sitting down for quite a while.

Somewhere in the microscopic binary code of sixty-four megabytes of memory, the demon slept with open eyes. The ghost in my machine. Continue reading ›

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Sample Our List with These Discounted eBooks

Mar 12, 2013 in Books

We try to keep our readers posted whenever our books go on sale, because we know you all are voracious readers, and everyone likes to save a few dollars. This week offers such a bonanza of discounted eBooks that we’re pulling all of them together into a single post. Here is your shopping list:

Slip & Fall by Nick Santora
Faced with a struggling practice, a pregnant wife, and a sister in trouble, Robert Principe realizes the white-collar world isn’t as easy as he thought. He needs money. Fast.

“A gripping thriller….Santora’s characters will ensnare readers.” —Vince Flynn

Buy the eBook for $2.99: iBookstore | Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Sony

SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Wolf by Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

Navy SEAL Team Six commando Don Mann infuses his debut military thriller with the real-life details only a true insider can reveal. And when you’re done with Hunt the Wolf, dive straight into the sequel, Hunt the Scorpion, which is just on sale.

Buy the eBook for $2.99: iBookstore | Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Sony

The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
Zed is an agent from the future. A time when the world’s problems have been solved. No hunger. No war. No despair…

The Revisionists is a fast-paced literary thriller that recalls dystopian classics such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, from the award-winning author of The Last Town on Earth.

Buy the eBook for $2.99: iBookstore | Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Sony

Triple Crossing by Sebastian Rotella
Valentine Pescatore, a volatile rookie Border Patrol agent, is trying to survive the trenches of The Line in San Diego. He gets in trouble and finds himself recruited as an informant by Isabel Puente, a beautiful U.S. agent investigating a powerful Mexican crime family.

Buy the eBook for $3.99: iBookstore | Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Sony

Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark


Harrowing, smart, and riotously entertaining, Guilt by Degrees is a thrilling ride through the world of LA courts with the unforgettable Rachel Knight. And who better to pilot that ride than Marcia Clark, the former prosecutor for the State of California, County of Los Angeles?

Buy the eBook for $5.99: iBookstore | Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Sony

The Assassin Trilogy by Derek Haas

A collection of three suspense novels by Derek Haas, the novelist and co-screenwriter of Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma and The Double. The Assassin Trilogy includes The Silver Bear, Columbus, and Dark Men, which all feature a hit man who quickly made a name for himself as one of the best in his profession.

Buy them all for $2.99! This is probably the best deal going: iBookstore | Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Sony

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Ar-Go Accept Your Oscar

Mar 07, 2013 in Film

Take a look at the contenders for the 2012 Oscar race and it’s clear fans of suspense had much to be thankful for in 2012. With ZERO DARK THIRTY, DJANGO UNCHAINED and ARGO all serious contenders for the top honor, and with DJANGO UNCHAINED and ARGO taking home many of the top awards, the accolades have been anything but scarce this year for high-quality thrillers.

I saw all three of the above, enjoyed them all immensely, and so found myself wondering: what precisely made ARGO the best film of the year, in the face of such fierce competition?

It bears pointing out here the absurdity of even trying to pick a single top film, given that every movie ever made attempts a singular endeavor—to tell a fresh story, as efficiently as possible, one that appeals to the film’s unique target viewership. (You could hardly expect the fans of DJANGO UNCHAINED overlap significantly with, say, everyone who went to see Pixar’s BRAVE.) If each film is unique, and uniquely attempts to thrill, delight, edify, and move a different group of theatergoers, what is the Academy even crowning with Best Picture?

You might argue that limiting the scope to the suspense fiction narrows things down enough to make singling out a single film more feasible. And yet. The three films nominated are each standouts in their particular subgenre, and their goals could hardly be considered the same. Each shows a different selection of the range of work suspense films perform. From the pleasure of witnessing the documentation of thrilling real(ish) events in ZERO DARK THIRTY, to being bombarded by tongue-in-cheek violence until your jaw pops open in DJANGO UNCHAINED, to the appreciation of faithfully reconstructed period details and quality performances in ARGO—even calling these films a variation on a unifying theme is a stretch.

So then, what does ARGO manage that ZERO DARK THIRTY and DJANGO UNCHAINED do not? If anything (and this can be considered both a good and bad thing, depending on your preference), ARGO seems the most conventional of the three nominees. Its heroes seem unremittingly good. Though the subject matter is fresh, the telling relies on a few tried-and-tested tricks. If (spoiler alert) an airport escape plot depends on someone picking up when the phone rings, we all know they won’t be there until the very last second—and the bad guys will end up chasing the plane down the tarmac.

And that may be the answer in a nutshell. Despite its plethora of double-dealing and deep cover, there’s very little truly subversive about ARGO—no rich ambiguity to divide politicians and inspire multiple, competing interpretations as ZERO DARK THIRTY has, or outsized version of our uncomfortable past that Tarantino forces his audience to confront in DJANGO UNCHAINED. Don’t get me wrong—ARGO is a great film. I ate it up like popcorn. But it may also be a case study in the way least controversy conquers all.

All that said, though, I will confess to being an avid Tarantino fan who’s still bitter about Pulp Fiction’s many snubs at the 1994 Oscars. Maybe I should just Argo f&*$ myself.

Wes Miller is Mulholland Books’ Associate Editor and Marketing Associate. If Mulholland were a crime novel instead of an imprint that publishes them, Wes would be its PI—the stalwart presence resolving its issues, making sure at the end of the day, justice gets served and good prevails—at least until tomorrow comes. Reach him through the Mulholland Books twitter account (@mulhollandbooks), on Tumblr (mulhollandbooks.tumblr.com) or right here on the Mulholland Books website.

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Start Reading The Cuckoo’s Calling

Mar 05, 2013 in Excerpts, Mulholland Authors

On April 30th, Mulholland Books published The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. This mystery had Library Journal raving, “A grand beach read . . . Laden with plenty of twists and distractions, The Cuckoo’s Calling ensures that readers will be puzzled and totally engrossed for quite a spell.” BookPage called it a page-turner and welcomed Galbraith as “a singular new voice to the genre of crime fiction.

Read the first two chapters below!

1

Though Robin Ellacott’s twenty-five years of life had seen their moments of drama and incident, she had never before woken up in the certain knowledge that she would remember the coming day for as long as she lived.

Shortly after midnight, her long-term boyfriend, Matthew, had proposed to her under the statue of Eros in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. In the giddy relief following her acceptance, he confessed that he had been planning to pop the question in the Thai restaurant where they just had eaten dinner, but that he had reckoned without the silent couple beside them, who had eavesdropped on their entire conversation. He had therefore suggested a walk through the darkening streets, in spite of Robin’s protests that they both needed to be up early, and finally inspiration had seized him, and he had led her, bewildered, to the steps of the statue. There, flinging discretion to the chilly wind (in a most un-Matthew-like way), he had proposed, on one knee, in front of three down-and-outs huddled on the steps, sharing what looked like a bottle of meths.

It had been, in Robin’s view, the most perfect proposal, ever, in the history of matrimony. He had even had a ring in his pocket, which she was now wearing; a sapphire with two diamonds, it fitted perfectly, and all the way into town she kept staring at it on her hand as it rested on her lap. She and Matthew had a story to tell now, a funny family story, the kind you told your children, in which his planning (she loved that he had planned it) went awry, and turned into something spontaneous. She loved the tramps, and the moon, and Matthew, panicky and flustered, on one knee; she loved Eros, and dirty old Piccadilly, and the black cab they had taken home to Clapham. She was, in fact, not far off loving the whole of London, which she had not so far warmed to, during the month she had lived there. Even the pale and pugnacious commuters squashed into the Tube carriage around her were gilded by the radiance of the ring, and as she emerged into the chilly March daylight at Tottenham Court Road underground station, she stroked the underside of the platinum band with her thumb, and experienced an explosion of happiness at the thought that she might buy some bridal magazines at lunchtime. Continue reading ›

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Find Your Next Thrilling Book Club Book

Feb 27, 2013 in Books

We want to make selecting your next book club book a little easier by sharing with you our Mulholland Book Club collection on Scribd. In this collection, you’ll find reading group guides for our paperbacks and exclusive Q&As with the author. Our hope is that this extra material removes some of the mystery (pun apologetically intended) around how to inspire your best book club conversation yet.

Currently in the collection are guides for Dan Simmon’s The Crook Factory, Joe R. Lansdale’s Edge of Dark Water, and Brian D’Amato’s Beauty. Bookmark us on Scribd to stay current on our book club books!

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The Lineup: Weekly Links, Hit Me Edition

Feb 25, 2013 in Weekly links

Contrasted ConfinementLawrence Block’s instant New York Times bestseller HIT ME has only been out for a handful of weeks, but the coverage has been extensive–perhaps in part because it very well may be Larry last novel ever.

Lawrence Block discusses the future of his career and his latest book in a profile for the New York Daily News. Don’t miss it.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel raves if HIT ME is Block’s “then it’s a fine finale for a writer who never stopped growing, and who allowed some of his series characters the same privilege of changing.”

Book Reporter says, “HIT ME does not disappoint. For his legion of fans, Block is working at the height of his powers … [a] true noir for our times. Do not miss this great read.”

“It’s a mark of Block’s storytelling skill that he can make lengthy philatelic interludes as fascinating as cloaks and daggers … It’d be a shame to hear no more from one of the most entertaining and unusual characters in the history of crime fiction, now that he’s back on the job,” says The Times-Picayune.

The Globe and Mail calls HIT ME “one of his best books ever…The plot is as tight as Jessica Simpson’s Spandex. Welcome back, Mr. Block.”

The Associated Press review, picked up widely in the Washington Post and much moresays, “In the hands of a lesser writer, the philately passages would be insufferable, but Block makes them interesting in their own right as well a window into the soul of a hit man who can dispatch innocent bystanders without remorse but won’t cheat on his wife and insists on being scrupulously honest.”

Marilyn Stasio raved in the New York Times Book Review‘s crime column, “Despite claiming he’s retired, Lawrence Block can’t seem to resist taking a few swigs from the poisoned cup … Aside from their ingenious methodology, what makes these amuse-bouches so delectable are the moral dilemmas Block throws up to deflect his philosophical anti­hero from a given task.” A review in The Columbus Dispatch concludes, “Block plays like a master on the consciences of his readers, raising moral dilemmas and then whisking them off behind a diverting bit of dialogue or drama.”

So what are you waiting for? Go pick up your copy now!

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Fact and Fiction in Hunt the Scorpion

Feb 19, 2013 in Books, Fiction, Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Writing

On sale today is Hunt the Scorpion, the second installment in Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo’s SEAL Team Six series, which follows the trail of nuclear weapon components from a ship commandeered by Somali pirates through Libya and into a hornet’s nest of local police forces, terrorists, and the Iranian Revolutionary Corps.

The book’s depiction of post-Gaddafi Libya reads like it came out of this morning’s newspaper, which got me thinking: how much of Hunt the Scorpion is based in fact? Sure, it’s a rip-roaring, action-packed thriller, but Don Mann is a former Navy SEAL, and Ralph Pezzullo has written a previous novel with a CIA operative. Maybe there’s more fact to this fiction than I realized.

Fortunately, my curiosity did not go unslaked for long. Pezzullo kindly responded to my searching questions about Hunt the Scorpion‘s plot:

Yes, a good deal of the ops in the book actually happened. Most Americans probably aren’t aware that we’ve been fighting a clandestine war with Iran. Basically, they’re trying to develop nuclear weapons, and we’re determined to stop them. Iran runs this nasty little organization called the Quds Force, which is part of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and reports directly to Supreme Leader—in other words, the religious leaders of  the country. The role of the Quds Force is exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution. It operates as highly-trained paramilitary unit and has been involved in bombings and assassinations in countries like Iraq, India, Bulgaria, Lebanon, and Thailand.

I keep my ear to the CIA-ops war ground, so to speak, and hear things. One of the most alarming things I’ve heard recently is about the efforts by al-Qaeda and the Quds Force to exploit the chaos in Libya following the overthrow of Gaddafi and get their hands on chemical weapons and nuclear material that had been developed while Gaddafi was in power.

Don and I discussed this and agreed that these events would make a great backdrop for Hunt the Scorpion. I can’t tell you exactly how much of it is true. I always do a lot of research. In this case it involved speaking to a number of people who have been to Libya recently and are familiar with what happened there after the fall of Gaddafi.

There you have it: enjoy Hunt the Scorpion for its nonstop thrills—and the SEALs are a lot of fun to be around!—and appreciate it as an unclassified primer in classified foreign policy.

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Where to Find Your Next Favorite Books Online

Feb 15, 2013 in Books

Since Bookish launched earlier this month, I’ve been playing around with its recommendation engine—can an algorithm for books online really pit itself against a recommendation from a friend?

I’ve been pleased with the results! For the past three books Mulholland has published, Bookish’s recommendations are spot-on. Check them out and click on each image to visit the live recommendation on Bookish:

Gun Machine on Bookish

Hit Me on Bookish

Seal Team Six: Hunt the Scorpion on Bookish

Does this mean it’s time to seal off the front door, toss your phone, and put all your faith in the internet hive mind? Of course not—but there are worse ways to spend your time than by riffling through books online.

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