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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.

Daredevil: An Excerpt

THE DEVIL IS REBORN. RENEWED. RESURRECTED. With new enemies, new friends … and that same old “grinnin’ in the face of hell” attitude, the Man Without Fear is back in action and leading with his face! Mark Waid (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, IRREDEEMABLE, RUSE) joins neo-legendary artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin for a new spin on Daredevil that will leave you gasping for air. Having turned his world upside over the past several years, Matt Murdock realizes that justice may not be blind to his past and villains may not be the only ones looking for answers. Bring it on. if Matt Murdock could see what he was doing … he’d be terrified. COLLECTING: DAREDEVIL (2011) 1-6

Continue reading “Daredevil: An Excerpt”

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”

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, 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 or DM us on Twitter.

The Lineup: Wednesday links

Police lineup Janet Rudolph offers a comprehensive list of Labor Union-related mysteries for your post-Labor Day reading.

Crimespace fan? You might want to check out the ongoing discussion about crime novels that have pushed the envelope into literary territory. Don’t be afraid to chime in!

The Millions has a post earlier from Kim Wright about nearly the exact opposite–literary writers who have turned to genre fiction.

Speaking of The Millions, here’s Michael Bourne’s review of George Pelecanos’s THE CUT in case you missed it last Wednesday.

A new international trailer for DRIVE, based on the James Sallis novel, is up with new content. Plenty more where that came from.

In Mulholland Books news, THE MULHOLLAND BOOKS APP HAS ARRIVED! Download it for free now.

And in some of the great reviews of Mulholland books this week, Thomas Mullen’s THE REVISIONISTS received a starred Library Journal review, Jedediah Ayres has high praise for Matthew F. Jones’s A SINGLE SHOT in the B&N Ransom Notes blog, and a blogger crosses genres to find out A SINGLE SHOT is of her favorites of the year.

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 or DM us on Twitter.

Black Lens: Part XXVII

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 8Part 9Part 10Part 11,Part 12, Part 13Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19 Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, and Part 26.





How the Wolf knew Jimmy Page is worthy of a whole serendipitous tome. The infamous Led Zep manager, would –be thug-bruiser-coke –walking blitzkrieg, was related to one of the Wolf’s wives.

Page was still part time living in The great Beast’s lair, Aleaister Crowley’s rapidly crumbling home.

The Wolf, adrenalized on the coming Ransom gig, literally turned up on Jimmy’s doorstep. The Zep front man was still in thrall to all kinds of alchemy and the Wolf had brought along a new kid on the block, no less a 1st edition of



Rob. Beausoleil.

A surfer dude out of Oakland, claiming to be the Ransom insider’s son. Continue reading “Black Lens: Part XXVII”

Start Reading Triple Crossing by Sebastian Rotella

On August 10th, we’ll be publishing TRIPLE CROSSING by celebrated journalist and investigative reporter Sebastian Rotella. Start reading the novel Michael Connelly calls “one of the most accomplished first novels I have ever read,” and which Booklist called “a strongly choreographed, authentically detailed, and sharply funny tale of cultural complexity and raging global criminality.”

Fog at the border.

Border Patrol Agent Valentine Pescatore urged the green Jeep Wrangler through the shroud of mist on the southbound road. Hungover and sleepy, he slurped on a mug of convenience-store Coke. Carbonation burned behind his eyes. He braked into a curve, trailing a comet of dust.  Jackrabbits scattered in his headlights.

Braking sent a twinge of pain through his ankle. He had blown up the ankle months earlier while chasing a hightop-wearing Tijuana speedster through a canyon. He had intended to snare the hood of the punk’s sweatshirt and jerk him to a neck-wrenching stop, confirming his status as the fastest trainee in his unit.

But instead Pescatore went down, sprawling pathetically, clutching the ankle with both hands.

Border Patrol agents gathered around him in the darkness. Tejano accents twanged. Cigarettes flared. A cowboy-hatted silhouette squatted as if contemplating a prisoner or a corpse.

Hell, muchacho, time to nominate you for a Einstein award.

Was that a female tonk you were chasing, Valentine? Playing hard to get, eh?

Hey, you’re not gonna catch them all. Slow down. Foot speed don’t impress us


The voices in his memory gave way to the dispatcher’s voice on the radio, asking his position. Pescatore increased speed, rolling through the blackness of a field toward the foothills of the Tijuana River Valley. With a guilty grimace, he pushed a CD into the dashboard player. Bass and cymbals blared: the song was a rap version of “Low Rider.”

Another night on the boulevard

Cruisin’ hard

And everybody’s low-ridin’

Continue reading “Start Reading Triple Crossing by Sebastian Rotella”

Cover Reveal: The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz

A few months ago, we revealed that Mulholland Books will be the US publisher of the first ever new Sherlock Holmes novel authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate. It will be written by Anthony Horowitz, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Alex Rider series and the award-winning writer of PBS’s Foyle’s War and Collision, as well as many other film and television projects.

The book, entitled The House of Silk, will hit bookstores on November 1st, 2011. Today, we are thrilled to reveal the cover of the The House of Silk for the first time ever, here on  We can’t wait for you to read this fantastic novel in November. For regular updates about The House of Silk, become a fan on Facebook.

Learn more about the book in this video where Anthony Horowitz reads from The House of Silk.