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The Lineup: Weekly Links

Contrasted ConfinementWILD THING, Josh Bazell’s sequel to the breakout hit BEAT THE REAPER is in bookstores now. Check out reviews from  The Daily Beast, which proclaims the book “comes with the funniest footnotes and appendix (no kidding) ever written,” the National Post, which calls the book “a welcome return…with a grim and funny plot filled with a whole mess o’ violence, double-crossings, drug abuse, flamboyant lies and sexual tension.” Bazell also received a rave review in The Washington Post, which says: “Bazell’s mix of violent lunacy and social commentary should appeal to fans of Carl Hiassen…WILD THING doesn’t so much end as explode.” And don’t miss the blog reviews from the likes of BookHounds, Rhapsody in Books, The Review Broads, The IE Mommy, and more.

As for George Pelecanos’s WHAT IT WAS, The Washington Times ran a wonderful feature on Pelecanos’ career and his title of “DC’s Own.” The Philadelphia Inquirer runs a rave review for the novel,  writing that “Be warned! Don’t start at 10pm if you want to get any sleep…The writing is noir: spark, dark, and evocative of time and place…more than marvelous.”

Don Mann, author of INSIDE SEAL TEAM SIX and Mulholland Books’ forthcoming HUNT THE WOLF, was recently quoted in Newsweek’s front page story on the Navy SEALs, on the importance of training for the operators that have impressed President Obama with their precision and professionalism.

The TV spot for Max Payne 3, presented by our friends at Rockstar Games, has been running prominently on different channels in the past week. Check it out below:

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

Fact, Meet Fiction: On the Writing of Shake Off

One of the pleasures of writing and reading fiction – and thrillers lend themselves to this rather well – is the weaving of fact and fiction. And a fact I happily weaved into the fictional world of Shake Off was that one of the few American fiction writers you could buy in English in the 1980s Soviet Union was Dashiell Hammett. This is not integral to the plot of the book, nor is it a particularly startling revelation, but it illustrates a mindset: the Soviets allowed Hammett to be sold in a Moscow bookshop because he was a communist (the Hollywood chapter of the Communist Party was founded in his house), although his flaky allegiance to the party might not have impressed them.

Another, perhaps less well-known fact, was that at the same time, although you could not buy John Le Carré novels in a Moscow bookshop, they were required reading by KGB trainees to get an insight into British Intelligence and its workings. I have a pleasing image of a Russian translator working away on his secret Le Carré translations. It must have been a coveted job: enjoying banned fiction under the legitimate cover of doing it for the good of the party.

The WalkBack to Hammett, though, and why I’m pleased to get a reference to a writer of hard-boiled detective fiction into a spy novel. When I left Beirut to return to London in early 1983 I had trouble adjusting to ‘normal’ life, with its distinct lack of air-raids, roadblocks and – Northern Ireland aside – sectarian killing. The world I had returned to was, to be honest, boring compared to the one I had left. It did, on the other hand, put the latter into unflattering perspective. To escape this cognitive dissonance I took refuge in books. I devoured everything I came across, high-brow, low-brow, I didn’t really care, as long as it was well and unpretentiously written. If it spoke to me in some way then I read it. After ploughing through some Russians (Dostoyevsky yes, Tolstoy no) I turned to the Americans, happening upon a rich vein of crime fiction. I tapped it relentlessly. Starting with Raymond Chandler, I moved to Hammett, Jim Thompson and Ross Macdonald – and more recently to George Pelecanos, Lawrence Block, James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard. Perhaps what attracted me to these stories, apart from the pure escapism, was the inherent struggle to right wrongs. A struggle of flawed (read human) characters amongst which the (often but not always) lone detective (i.e. the reader) attempts to mete out some sort of rough justice – a justice frequently absent in real life. I don’t want to overdo the analysis, but the attraction for me then was clear, and it is no exaggeration to say that these books helped me through a difficult time of adjustment. It is also fair to say that a lot of this early reading rubbed off in terms of developing a no-nonsense writing style. Continue reading “Fact, Meet Fiction: On the Writing of Shake Off”

The Lineup: Weekly Links

Contrasted ConfinementDuane Swierczynski’s FUN AND GAMES has been nominated for a Barry Award for Best Paperback Original! Go Duane!

Papers like the New York Times have been covering the shopping of Amanda Knox’s book proposal. What do you think?

George Pelecanos’s WHAT IT WAS continues to receive great reviews–don’t miss coverage from the New York Times Book Review, which called the novel “great and breathless,” and USA Today, which selected the “rip-roaring introduction to Derek Strange” as a weekend pick. And at Spinetingler, Gloria Feit agrees.

With Michael Robotham’s BLEED FOR ME soon on its way to bookstores, great blog reviews have begun popping up–don’t miss the ones at Caite’s Day at the Beach and Bestsellers World.

And Donato Carrisi’s THE WHISPERER received another great blogger review from Martha’s Bookshelf!

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

Want to be a literary rock star? Live like a boy scout. A conversation with George Pelecanos.

The below guest post originally appeared on Allison Leotta’s site and is reprinted with the permission of the author.

George Pelecanos is an author at the top of his game. When he’s not writing bestselling crime novels, he’s creating some of America’s finest TV dramas: shows like “The Wire” and “Treme.”Stephen King called him “perhaps America’s greatest living crime writer”; Esquire anointed him “the poet laureate of D.C. crime fiction”; Dennis Lehane said, “The guy’s a national treasure.” In short, George Pelecanos is a literary rock star. So how can a new writer capture a little bit of that magic?

George’s answer surprised me.

I recently sat down with him for lunch, and that question was at the top of my mind. My debut legal thriller, “Law of Attraction,” got positive reviews and some nice buzz – but no one’s calling me “a national treasure.” I’ve read George’s earliest books, written before he was nationally treasured himself. They showcase considerable raw talent, but they’re unrefined and inconsistent. Like the evolution of cell phone technology, George’s writing has developed from an interesting conversation piece to a body of work so smart and sophisticated, it makes you shake your head with wonder. I wanted to know: how do I make that happen to my own writing? Will I need a more apps and better ringtones, or just some writing seminars?

None of the above, George answered. To be a good writer, be a good person.

That’s not exactly what he said – more on the specifics below – but that’s what it boiled down to.

It wasn’t the advice I expected from this author. If you’ve read his novels, you know George Pelecanos creates worlds that are dark, testosterone charged, and dangerous. “King Suckerman” opens with a disgruntled employee using a shotgun to blow a hole through his boss. In “The Sweet Forever,” one man proves his love for another by brutally murdering a rival. “Drama City” features a female probation officer who’s straight-laced by day and driven to risky one-night stands by night. George’s novels are full of violence and retribution, the grimmest side of humanity, and plenty of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll.

But his advice on how to create these worlds is akin to what a thoughtful father might advise his daughter on the larger question of how to live her life. The melding of these dark worlds with more wholesome introspection may be what makes his novels so finely textured and morally complex.

Here’s George Pelecanos’ advice for becoming a great writer: Continue reading “Want to be a literary rock star? Live like a boy scout. A conversation with George Pelecanos.”

Infamous One Percenters from Pop Culture

Pretty MoneyFrom Ebenezer Scrooge to Arthur Jensen in Network, here are some of the most famous one percent characters from books and movies. Alan Glynn’s new thriller is Bloodland.

(This post initially appeared at The Daily Beast and is reprinted here with the permission of the author.)

They used to be called robber barons. Now we call them one percenters. They’re the preposterously rich, and they got that way by casually crushing the hopes and dreams of the little guy. For each one of them, there are 99 of us, but that doesn’t matter—because they have all the moolah and they control everything.

They first showed up in the middle of the nineteenth century. Different from royals and aristocrats, these were canny businessmen who amassed great fortunes during the rapid industrialization that transformed the modern world. Their methods were often questionable, even downright immoral. But once the money started spewing forth no one could stop it. Nor, at the time, could anyone imagine where it would lead.

And from the very beginning, the men responsible—figures such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Gould, Morgan—have had serious problems in the PR department. Despite their arguably titanic achievements, these fellows have always been seen, and portrayed, as voracious and malign. Jay Gould was “the Mephistopheles of Wall Street”. In McClure’smagazine, Ida Tarbell dubbed Rockefeller “the oldest man in the world—a living mummy.” Economist and writer Matthew Josephson published his scathing and influential study The Robber Barons in 1934. Two years later, the figure of Rich Uncle Pennybags made his first appearance (on the Chance and Community Chest cards in the U.S. edition of the gameMonopoly), and that seemed to clinch it. This image of the greedy capitalist—top hat, cane, monocle, mustache—was most likely inspired by Gilded Age top dog J. P. Morgan, and has been an enduring one, with a fresh incarnation showing up as recently as a few months ago on the cover of The New Yorkermagazine. Here the greedy capitalist is seen protesting in the streets, Occcupy-style, and holding up a placard that says “Keep Things Precisely As They Are.” Continue reading “Infamous One Percenters from Pop Culture”

The Lineup: Weekly Links

Contrasted ConfinementDonato Carrisi’s THE WHISPERER received  a starred review from Library Journal that calls the novel:Exquisite.Readers will be enthralled.” Congrats, Donato! And don’t miss excellent blogger reviews of THE WHISPERER from HorrorTalk and The Mystery Reader, too.

The Washington Post reviewed WHAT IT WAS, calling it part of a body of work that amounts to “a profound meditation on good and evil in this city, mostly in parts of it that many of us pass through often but never really see.” Right on.

And hey, George did a bang-up job of a Reddit AMA appearance last week.

Michael Robotham’s novels have been receiving high praise from book bloggers recently. Check out this review of SHATTER from The Blog of Litwits and this review of BLEED FOR ME from Thinking About Books.

Duane Swierczynski’s HELL AND GONE also received a rave review from The Literate Kitty.

Some pretty good stuff out there this weekend if you’re in the mood to visit the theaters:

Some other good stuff coming up:

The first full-length trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man is out:

And we rather liked this post-apocalyptic Super Bowl commercial–did you?

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

Start reading A Drop of the Hard Stuff

Missed out on the“totally gripping….Great American Crime Novel” (Time) the first time around? Now’s your chance! A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF is now available in paperback. An excerpt from the novel follows:


“I’ve often wondered,” Mick Ballou said, ” how it would all have gone if I’d taken a different turn.”

We were at Grogan’s Open House, the Hell’s Kitchen saloon he’s owned and operated for years. The gentrification of the neighborhood has had its effect on Grogan’s, although the bar hasn’t changed much inside or out. But the local hard cases have mostly died or moved on, and the crowd these days is a gentler and more refined bunch. There’s Guinness on draft, and a good selection of single-malt Scotches and other premium whiskeys. But it’s the joint’s raffish reputation that draws them. They get to point out the bullet holes in the walls, and tell stories about the notorious past of the bar’s owner. Some of the stories are true.

They were all gone now. The barman had closed up, and the chairs were on top of the tables so they’d be out of the way when the kid came in at daybreak to sweep up and mop the floor. The door was locked, and all the lights out but the leaded-glass fixture over the table where we sat with our Waterford tumblers. There was whiskey in Mick’s, club soda in mine. Continue reading “Start reading A Drop of the Hard Stuff”

In the Beginning

Lettres de LouThe below guest post initially appeared at Murder is Everywhere and is reprinted below with the kind permission of the author.

One of the nicest things about having a website is that people write me letters.  My personal website, although it’s got the usual self-serving promotional nonsense on it, is largely taken up by a section called FINISH YOUR NOVEL, in which I try to tell people some of the things I’ve learned through years of failing and trying again.

So a lot of my mail comes from aspiring writers.  A few days back I got a long letter from a 16-year-old high school girl, who pretty much made my jaw drop. Among other things, she said:

” . . . I recently started developing my latest idea for a novel. With my previous ideas, I had never fully explored the idea and ended up letting it sit until I found myself saying “When am I going to start that novel again?” Of course, when that would occur I ended up spitting out a few more random bursts of ideas and that was that. The cycle repeated itself.

“So now I’m to the point where I feel idle in my life – I’m going nowhere and have no general direction I want to go in. It’s quite annoying, actually. A high school junior striving for success to take her into unknown territory – her future. But despite the stresses of getting into a good college and everything that may entail, I find myself coming back to the yearning to write a book. Often I ask myself,  “So when are you going to actually sit down and write?”

She says that in her other artistic endeavors, “What takes me the longest is starting the piece. Staring at a blank canvas is a lot like staring at a blank sheet of paper, in my opinion. I’m at peace while working, but starting is insanely difficult, especially when I don’t have direction.”

So, okay, she’s extraordinary, and I should probably be asking her for advice rather than giving it to her.  But she asked.  And here’s part of what I wrote back: Continue reading “In the Beginning”

Start reading Thomas Mullen’s THE REVISIONISTS

Galleys of Thomas Mullen’s incredible, genre-defying new novel THE REVISIONISTS are being given away at BEA first-thing tomorrow morning! Couldn’t make it out to BEA this year? Just don’t think you’ll hit the floor in time? Fret not! Start reading Mullen’s book right here on the Mulholland website–and the first twenty comments about it will receive a galley in the mail! (US and CA only, please.)


A trio of bulbous black SUVs passes sleekly by, gliding through their world like seals. The city shines liquidly off their tinted windows, the yellow lights from the towers and the white lights from the street and the red lights they ignore as they cruise through the intersection with a honk and a flash of their own beams. People on the sidewalk barely give them a glance.

I cross the street, which is empty in their wake. Most of the National Press Building’s lights are still on, as reporters for outlets across the globe type away to beat their deadlines. Editors are waiting in Tokyo, the masses are curious in Mumbai, the public has a right to know in London. The sheer volume of information being churned out of that building is unfathomable to me, the weight of it, and also the waste. As if people needed it. Continue reading “Start reading Thomas Mullen’s THE REVISIONISTS”

Black Lens: Part XII

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11.


Sundance was wonderful, the starlet’s flocked round him.

Back of his mind was the niggling thought,


But fuck ‘em.

He was a


Redford even said hello.

Chugging Tequila’s, listening to The White Stripes, he figured

‘Top of the freaking world Ma.’

Continue reading “Black Lens: Part XII”