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We’re Living for These Novels About Women Kicking Ass and Taking Names


 

I tend to seek out mystery novels with detectives who are, let’s say… probably not your grandmother’s detectives. Give me edgy. Give me interesting. Give me women kicking ass and taking names. If there’s a novel us a unique female detective—whether she has a badge or she’s an amateur—I am 99.9% likely to binge-read it in one sitting. Then I spend my non-reading time trying to get other people to read it so we can talk about it. Here are four awesome novels about women kicking ass and taking names.

 

Charlotte Holmes in:

Luz in:

Sarie Holland in:

Tess Hardy in:


 

The Joy of Dredd

The post below comes to us from Duane Swierczynski, author of Fun and Games, Hell and Gone, and the forthcoming Point and Shoot. He’s also the writer of IDW’s new Judge Dredd series, the first issue of which drops this week.

I discovered 2000 A.D. and the world of Judge Dredd at the tender age of 15 through a somewhat unlikely source: a bootleg Commodore 64 game. The rules were simple: steer a pixelated Dredd through a digital Mega-City One and pretty much shoot everything in sight. Jonesing for more, I realized that Dredd was based on a UK comic . . . and at the time, super-tough to find here in the U.S. Add yet another frustration to my nerdy teenaged life.

Over the next 25 years, however, I snapped up all the Dredd stories that I could, savoring them like exotic treats smuggled through customs. Slowly, the future dystopia featured in Dredd snapped into place for me, and I realized that the writers and artists over at 2000 A.D. were showing us America through a twisted funhouse mirror. In short: Judge Joe Dredd is a one-man judge, jury and executioner . . . on a motorcycle. You jaywalk in front of him? Dredd will sentence you on the spot, and then next thing you know, you’ll be staring at the ceiling of a cramped iso-cube. Steal something? Kill somebody? Try to kill a judge? Well, may Dredd have mercy on your soul. (Spoiler alert: He won’t.) The stories were full of the same kind of ultra-violent satire that I’d loved in Paul Verheoven’s RoboCop. And you can’t tell me the writers of Robo weren’t tipping their helmets to Dredd, who debuted more than a decade earlier.

When IDW announced an American version a while back, I was over the moon—never even thinking that I would be approached to write this new version. Needless to say, this is the opportunity of lifetime, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The 15-year-old in me may never recover.

IDW editor Chris Ryall and I talked about this series covering untold tales from the earlier days of Dredd’s career—though rest assured, this ain’t Lil’ Joe Dredd. He’s no rookie; he’s been serving up justice on the mean streets of Mega-City One for quite some time. Thanks to the Judge Dredd Complete Case File that the sick folks at 2000 A.D. have been publishing, I’ve had the chance to go back and read the early Dredd stories and see what I missed—namely, a lot of giddy, high-octane mayhem. I mean that in the best possible way.

When I was pitching Chris, I told him that I’d like IDW’s Dredd to feel like a transgressive sci-fi black comedy police procedural—like Law & Order, if say, Jerry Orbach were a violent inflexible fascist. Someone who readers can’t help but root for, since he’s up against overwhelming odds in a city gone insane.

So in this first issue (see handy preview below!) I though it was important to introduce readers (both longtime Dredd fans as well as newbies) to the two main characters: Dredd, and the city itself. But beyond that, I see Dredd is also the perfect vehicle for telling every type of crime story imaginable, and the possibilities are exciting as hell, especially when you factor in future tech. I’m finding inspiration in the the lawless “Dillinger” days of the early 1930s, when emerging technology inspired both cops and bandits to elevate their games. When the bandits started using race cars for getaways, the cops responded with faster pursuit vehicles; shotguns were met with machine guns; organized criminal gangs were met with wiretapping and most wanted lists. With Dredd, I’m asking myself: what kind of games will cops (that is, judges) and robbers be playing 100 years in the future? I hope you’ll have fun with the answers in future issues.

Exclusive Preview: Birds of Prey #14

Birds of Prey #14 coverSomeone at DC Comics loves us. The reason I know this is that they’ve offered us a first look at Birds of Prey #14, which was written by Duane Swierczynski. You’ve read about Swierczynski before on this site as the author of the Charlie Hardie series: Fun & Games and Hell & Gone are available now in gorgeous paperbacks, with Point & Shoot arriving next year.

In issue 14, we follow the Birds of Prey as they continue their mission to Japan to track down a precious sword, while simultaneously combating a time bomb set to detonate one thousand feet below sea level. Start reading the issue below—we’ve got the first five pages—and pick up Birds of Prey #14 when it drops November 21st.

For more information about this series, visit the DC Comics website.

Click on images to enlarge

Birds of Prey #14 page 1

Birds of Prey #14 page 2

Birds of Prey #14 page 3

Birds of Prey #14 page 4

Birds of Prey #14 page 5

The Lineup: Weekly Links

Contrasted ConfinementWe made it out to Bouchercon last weekend to see Duane Swierczynski’s FUN AND GAMES win the Shamus for Best Paperback Original PI Novel–congrats, Duane! All the more reason to look forward to April of next year, when POINT AND SHOOT, the final in the now accolade-winning Hardie trilogy, hits bookstores… The Rap Sheet has a great write-up of the festivities if you were unable to attend. Here’s looking forward to next year’s event in Albany!

Michael Robotham embarked on a US tour straight from the convention and can be seen this Friday at Seattle Mystery Bookshop and on Saturday at Scottsdale, Arizona’s Poisoned Pen.

While Robotham’s been on tour, SAY YOU’RE SORRY has been raking in rave reviews from the likes of Kirkus, John Valeri at Examiner.com, Publishers Weekly, P.G. Koch of the Houston Chronicle. More to come!

Don’t let all the great news about SAY YOU’RE SORRY distract from the fact that THE HOUSE OF SILK is now out in paperback. Some guests posts from Horowitz here and here from our initial hardcover publication. “An intricate and rewarding mystery in the finest Victorian tradition” (Vanity Fair)–what’s not to like?

Asbury Park Press reviewed Mischa Hiller’s SHAKE OFF, and the Washington Post reviewed Chase Novak’s BREED, calling it “the best American horror novel since Scott Smith’s The Ruins.”

Speaking of BREED, don’t miss Chase Novak in discussion with Barry Lyga, Daniel Kraus, Jonathan Maberry and more at the New York Comic-Con this Saturday. Austin Grossman will be at the Con earlier that night, talking about his forthcoming novel YOU with Evan Narcisse of Kotaku.

Looks like someone on the set of NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE, co-created by our own Derek Haas, intercepted the shipment of a certain thriller from our warehouse…

That’s it for now. See you all next week!

Did we missing something sweet? Share it in the comments! We’re always open to suggestions for next week’s post! Get in touch at mulhollandbooks@hbgusa.com or DM us on Twitter.

A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Ed Brubaker: Part I

Suffering from post-Comic Con withdrawal? Get your fix with the below conversation between award-winning writer Ed Brubaker, author of CRIMINAL, SLEEPER and INCOGNITO, among many others, and Duane Swierczynski, originally appearing to celebrate the publication of FUN & GAMES. Hardie endures!

Ed Brubaker: So, Duane – FUN & GAMES, am I right in saying this is your first non-Philadelphia book? (Not counting any co-writing) Did you leave your hometown behind in life and fiction?

Duane Swierczynski: You’re right — this is my first book set in a place other than Philly. I still live in Philadelphia (for the time being), and my fictional heart still lives here, too. But I do cop to a little bit literary wanderlust. The idea for FUN & GAMES, grew out of repeated visits to the Hollywood Hills over the years, and even though I tried (at one point) to set it closer to home, it refused to work anywhere but L.A.
Ed, how important is “place” in your work? You’ve created this brilliant fictional location in CRIMINAL‘s “Center City,” but was that on purpose? Why not, say, Chicago, or Seattle, or NYC?

EB: I think with CRIMINAL, it was to make it like the city in Walter Hill’s The Driver, or to use Chandler’s Bay City and Macdonald’s Santa Teresa as location names. Also, I was a Navy brat, so I don’t have that hometown thing a lot of writers have. I lived in DC (or right across the bridge in Arlington) in the summer of 1979, so I get Pelecanos’ views of it from the little I experienced at age 12, but I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to a lot of crime writers I love is the way their books inhabit a city, in a way I never could, as the always traveling outsider.

Continue reading “A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Ed Brubaker: Part I”

The Lineup: Weekly Links

Police lineupThe Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society REALLY loves Lawrence Block! But don’t take our word for it—check the photos! Unless you’re at work, that is… If you are, you can’t say say we didn’t warn you …

Detectives Beyond Borders has a nice discussion of nicknames inspired by a passage from Eoin Colfer’s noir debut PLUGGED, with a few good ones in the comments. Best crime fiction nicknames thread? Anyone?

Patrick Melton, one of the writers behind the SAW franchise and a co-author of BLACK LIGHT, has an in-depth interview up at Dread Central about the book and upcoming film projects. Check it out!

You know what’s cool? Noir cowboys.

And in other Mulholland news, Hell and Gone received a starred PW review, spot-on reviews of A SINGLE SHOT and BLACK LIGHT are up at Shakefire.com, raves for BLACK LIGHT are in from Dreadful Tales and Anything Horror,  and did you see this review of THE WRECKAGE from the Williamsburg Regional Library’s Blogging for a Good Book?

Did we missing something sweet? Share it in the comments! We’re always open to suggestions for next week’s post! Get in touch at mulhollandbooks@hbgusa.com or DM us on Twitter.

The Lineup: Wednesday links

Police lineupA whole lotta awesome went up this week to celebrate the publication of George Pelecanos’s THE CUT. George Pelecanos’s Book Notes post at Large Hearted Boy is sure to get a few tunes stuck in your head.

Speaking of music and George, check George’s Tour Music Playlist on Spotify!

USA Today‘s interview with George, with video, is most definitely worth a look-see.

Tom Rob Smith’s interview on NPR‘s Crime in the City rules.

At The Rap Sheet, Linda L. Richard’s reflections on the postmodern mystery as defined by Ted Gioia’s new site is sure to get you thinking decontructively.

In a really nice Central Crime Zone piece, Ruth Jordan reflects on her Baltimore hike with Laura Lippman on the pub date of her newest THE MOST DANGEROUS THING.

Also this week, the New York Times Books Review‘s Marilyn Stasio loved Mark Billingham’s Bloodline, and so did Blood of the MuseMonsters And Critics calls Matthew F. Jones’ A Single Shot “absolutely authentic” and “excellent,” and Spinetingler is nuts for Duane Swierczynski’s Fun and Games.

And check out this awesome trailer for THE DOUBLE starring Richard Gere and Topher Grace, co-written and -produced by Mulholland author Derek Haas!


Did we missing something sweet? Share it in the comments!

We’re always open to suggestions for next week’s post! Get in touch at mulhollandbooks@hbgusa.com or DM us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mulhollandbooks).

A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Josh Bazell: Part II

In our ongoing celebration of the publication of Fun & Games we matched Duane Swierczynski up with Josh Bazell, author of the acclaimed novel Beat the Reaper. When we last saw our heroes (see Part I), Duane had asked Josh how far he had gotten with his plan to become a comic book artist.

JB: Not far. When I was about ten I realized I didn’t have the talent.  All I had was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which in retrospect was useless.  But until them my goal in life was to go to the Joe Kubert School, because it ran advertisements in comic books. It may be the saddest story ever told that’s not about a Boston terrier. What was your first idea of yourself as a writer?

DS: As a kid, I was inspired by comic books. I’d try to draw comic strips, but I realized at a young age that I wasn’t good at drawing. So instead, I remember cutting up an old Iron Man comic and using the art to make my own story. New captions, new dialogue. I knew I couldn’t draw for shit, but I could use someone else’s art to make my own story. I guess I was that kind of kid, who grew that interest in writing. Since I couldn’t draw, I decided that maybe a short story would be fun. I’m very inspired by comics, but also by movies, I caught the storytelling bug early. I’m not even sure I was aware of it, but it’s what I was doing.

JB: Was this your first job?

DS: Well, my VERY first job was, I was a keyboard player in a bar band when I was ten. My dad’s bar band, a wedding band. So my first paying job was playing Doors cover songs in dive bars in Philadelphia.

JB: Can you play the keyboard intro to “Light my Fire?”

DS: I can still do that! It took hours to learn, but it was worth it. It impresses the chicks.

JB: That’s badass!

DS: My dad actually made me spend a whole afternoon learning the organ solo for “In-A-GaddaDa-Vida”. Playing it over and over again. So, actually, I’m a frustrated musician too. You talk about wanting to do one art and sliding back into something else. I wanted to be a famous musician or a rockstar and I don’t have a good singing voice and I’m not very good at playing. So, I knew I couldn’t do it professionally. So, I fell back on writing.

JB: Do you still do it for fun?

Continue reading “A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Josh Bazell: Part II”

A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Josh Bazell: Part I

In our ongoing celebration of the publication of Fun & Games we matched Duane Swierczynski up with Josh Bazell, author of the acclaimed novel Beat the Reaper. Josh called Fun & Games “Insanely Entertaining.” Here is Part I of the result of their conversation which touches on entertainment, series material, Aquaman and Die Hard.

Josh Bazell: Duane. Fun & Games. Awesome book. I think that when they first gave it to me to blurb, I said something about it continuing your experiment, as I saw it, as to how far you can push the entertainment value of a novel. I don’t know how you feel about public discussion of technical stuff. But what I’m curious about, as a writer, is how conscious of that are you? How much of your career is about coming up with a book that is a perfectly pure action novel?

Duane Swiercynski: Good question! I mostly try not to bore people. That’s my goal. Get them turning pages no matter what.

JB: That’s actually my philosophy also. It’s probably the #1 thing I think about as a writer.

DS: I feel like, if I’m bored writing it, I should cut it or move on quickly. I also really focus on voice as a writer. That greases the skids for people and keeps things going. I’ve done both, but I want to ask you if you plot in advance or outline, or just explore the plot and figure it out as you go?

JB: I am an obsessive outliner. Of the Harry Wittington school, that I would rather build a house without a blue print than write a novel without an outline. I find in my own work that I have plenty of room to be creative on the page without having to worry about whether the scene is going to end up where I want it to. That said, there are people who I respect, Thomas Perry and Elmore Leonard come to mind, who say that they don’t outline and that outlining would remove a lot of the fun they have. On the other hand, both of those people have developed plotting techniques that make it easier to plot on the fly, like Thomas Perry when he uses a cat-and-mouse format. And both of those guys have been in this game for long enough that they are clearly doing a good amount of planning subconsciously that a lot of us are doing on paper. I don’t really know how to do it without outlining. But it has occurred to me to try.

DS: What you say rings true. When I do plot, with guideposts to leave enough room to have fun on the page. And you can always change the guideposts. You’re not locked into it. But I do like having a plan.

JB: You always can change the goalposts and you always have to. So, Charlie Hardie is a series character and you do a masterful job of leaving some things unexplained in the book. I wondered if this had something to do, possibly, with your work in comic books.  The book succeeds as a book, at the same time that it feels like it is going to succeed in a larger series. The issues that are left hanging are not even things you realize until you’ve thought about the book for a while. You clearly have an idea of where this series is going.

Continue reading “A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Josh Bazell: Part I”