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Chapter 2 of The Wreckage

Next month we are publishing The Wreckage by Michael Robotham. Start reading the book that Booklist called (in a starred review), “Fine and ambitious with characters who are wonderfully human–smart, determined, decent, and flawed. Thoroughly compelling.”

Need to catch up? Read the Prologue and Chapter 1.

2

LONDON

Being measured for a new suit was not something Vincent Ruiz expected to happen until he was lying cold and stiff on an undertaker’s slab. And if that were the case, he didn’t suppose he’d care about an effeminate stranger nudging a tape measure against his balls. Maybe he’s weighing them. Every other measurement has been taken. Continue reading “Chapter 2 of The Wreckage”

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.)

Z.

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”

The Writing of A Drop of the Hard Stuff

An abbreviated version of the following essay appeared on Amazon’s Kindle Daily blog. We thought our dedicated readers might want a look at Block’s words in full. Enjoy!

I was afraid I might be done writing about Matthew Scudder.

I’d certainly spent enough years in his company.  From 1975’sThe Sins of the Fathers all the way to All the Flowers are Dying in 2005, I’d written sixteen Matthew Scudder novels, along with a handful of short stories.  And, because the fellow has aged in real time throughout the series, he’s now reached and passed the biblical high water mark of three score years and ten.  Even if you’re optimistic enough to argue that 72 is the new 71, the fellow’s still a little old to be leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

Now I should point out that this was not the first time I thought Scudder and I were done with each other.  In the fifth book, Eight Million Ways to Die (1982), the fellow confronted his alcoholism and, not without difficulty, chose sobriety.  That was all well and good for him, but I figured I’d written myself out of a job.  The man had undergone a catharsis, he’d confronted the central problem of his existence, so what was left to say about him?  His d’etre, you might say, had lost its raison, and I’d be well advised to go write about somebody else. Continue reading “The Writing of A Drop of the Hard Stuff”

First Lines

Typewriter 5We’re all about page turning here at Mulholland Books and one of the things that really gets you reading is a fabulous first line. We’ve compiled a few that we like, but this is just a starting point. Really, we want to know YOUR favorite first lines. Please contribute your pick in the comments! We might even have Mulholland tote bags for those who particularly surprise us.

“Death is my beat.” –The Poet by Michael Connelly

“Clouds like gusted shadows of the dead moved past the Lenten moon, drifting west toward Jersey. Louie saw them.” –Cut Numbers by Nick Tosches

“I never knew her in life.” –The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

“The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Roll-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.” –The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

“Jack Reacher ordered espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china, and before it arrived he saw a man’s life change forever.” –The Hard Way by Lee Child

“Fuck you.” –Savages by Don Winslow

“Garfield Potter sat low behind the wheel of an idling Caprice, his thumb stroking the rubber grip of the Colt revolver loosely fitted between his legs.” –Hell to Pay by George Pelecanos

“Her stomach clutched at the sight of the water tower hovering above the still, bare trees, a spaceship come to earth.” –What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

“You’re no angel, you know how this stuff comes to happen: Friday is payday and it’s been a grand day sogged by a slow ugly rain and you seek company in your gloom, and since you’re fresh to West Table, Mo., with a new hand at the dog-food factory, your choices for company are narrow but you find some finally in a trailer court on East Main, and the coed circle of bums gathered there spot you a beer, then a jug of Tequila starts to rotate and the rain keeps comin’ down with a miserable bluesy beat and there’s two girls millin’ about that probably can be had but they seem to like certain things and crank is one of those certain things, and a fistful of party straws tumble from a woven handbag somebody brung, the crank gets cut into lines, and the next time you notice the time it’s three or four Sunday mornin’ and you ain’t slept since Thursday night and one of the girl voices, the one you want most and ain’t had yet though her teeth are the size of shoe-peg corn and look like maybe they’d taste sort of sour, suggests something to do, ‘cause with crank you just want something, anything, to do, and this cajoling voice suggests we all rob this certain house on this certain street in that rich area where folks can afford to wallow in their vices and likely have a bunch of recreational dope stashed around the mansion and goin’ to waste since an article in The Scroll said the rich people whisked off to France or some such on a noteworthy vacation.” –Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell

“When a fresh-faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell.” –The Hunter by Richard Stark

Keep the list going! Contribute in the comments.

Chapter 1 of The Wreckage

Next month we are publishing The Wreckage by Michael Robotham. Start reading the book that Booklist called (in a starred review), “Fine and ambitious with characters who are wonderfully human–smart, determined, decent, and flawed. Thoroughly compelling.”

Have you killed?”

“Many times.”

“Were you scared?”

“No.”

“Never?”

“It’s not hard to take a life when a life has been taken from you. It is not about embracing revenge or nurturing hatred. And forget about taking an eye for an eye. Equality is for the weak and stupid. It’s about pulling the trigger… simple as that. One finger, one movement…”

“Who was the first?”

“A schoolgirl.”

“Why?”

“I can’t remember, but I’ve never forgotten the warmth of the day, the blinding glare, the dust on the leaves of the apricot trees. It was apricot season. In that final instant everything slows down—the cars, the buses, voices on the street. Everything goes quiet and all you hear is your own heartbeat, the blood squeezing through smaller and smaller channels. There is no other moment like it.”

“Why do they call you the Courier?”

“I deliver messages.”

“You kill people?”

“People kill every day. Nurses push needles. Surgeons stop hearts. Butchers slay beasts. You’re doing something good here. You and the others are going to be famous. You are going to create a day that will live forever, a date that doesn’t need an explanation. History made. History changed. These things begin somewhere. They begin with an idea. They begin with faith.”

“Why me?”

“The others will also be tested.”

“Are you going to film it?”

“Yes. Here is the gun. It won’t bite you. This is the safety. Pull back the slide and the bullet enters the chamber.”

“Nobody will see my face?”

“No. Now walk through the door. He’s waiting. Seated. He will hear you coming. He will beg. Don’t listen to his words. Press the barrel to the back of his head and pull off the hood. Make him look at the camera’s red light: the drop of electrified blood.”

“Should I say something? A prayer.”

“It’s not what you say—it’s what you do.”

1

BAGHDAD

The most important lesson Luca Terracini ever learned about being a foreign correspondent was to tell a story through the eyes of someone else. The second most important lesson was how to make spaghetti marinara with a can of tuna and a packet of ramen noodles.

There were others, of course, most of them to do with staying alive in a war zone: Do not make an appointment to see anyone you do not trust absolutely. Do not go out before checking whether any suspicious vehicles are loitering outside. Do not assume that a place that was safe yesterday will be safe today.

These security measures were followed by all western reporters in Baghdad, but Luca had added a few of his own over the years—advice that came down to possessing three vital tools for survival: a natural cowardice; several US hundred-dollar bills sewn into his trouser cuffs; and a well-developed sense of the absurd.

The first call to prayer is sounding. Sunrise. Luca had been woken by the racket of washing machines, TV sets and air conditioners coming to life simultaneously. The government can only provide electricity during certain hours, which means the appliances trigger at random times, day or night, creating a strange symphony of music and metal.

Continue reading “Chapter 1 of The Wreckage”

See the Woman

The following story is included in L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories, a collaboration between Rockstar Games and Mulholland Books. Today also marks the publication date of Block’s novel A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, which Time Magazine says “reads like it’s been jolted by factory-fresh defibrillator pads.”

Red light’s on, so I guess that thing’s recording. This whole project you’ve got, this oral history, I’ll confess I didn’t see the point of it. You running a tape recorder while an old man runs his mouth.

But it stirs things up, doesn’t it? The other day—Wednesday, it must have been—all I did was talk for an hour or two, and then I went home and lay down for a nap and slept for fifteen hours. I’m an old man, I got up every three hours to pee, but then I went back to bed and fell right back asleep again. And dreams! Can’t recall the last time I dreamed so much.

And then I got up, and my memory was coming up with stuff I never thought of in years. Years! All the way back to when I was a boy growing up in Oklahoma. You know, before the dust, before my old man lost the farm and brought us here. Memories of nothing much. Walking down a farm road watching a garter snake wriggling along in a tractor rut. And me, kicking a tin can while I’m walking, just watching the snake, just kicking the can. Del Monte peaches, that’s what the can was. Why’d anybody remember that?

Mostly, though, what I kept going over in my mind was something that happened in my first year on the force. If it’s all the same to you, that’s what I’ll talk about today.

Now, you know I wasn’t but sixteen when the Japs bombed Pearl, and like just about everybody else I was down there the next morning looking to get into it.

They sent me home when I told them my age, so I waited two days and went back, and wouldn’t you know the same sergeant was behind the desk. This time I told him I was eighteen, and either he didn’t remember me from before or he didn’t give a damn, and they took me.

I went through basic and shipped out to England, and from there to North Africa, and what happened was they cut me out of the infantry and made an MP out of me. But I don’t want to get sidetracked here and tell war stories. I came through it fine and wound up back here in Los Angeles, and I’d been military police for better than three years, so after a few months of beer and girls I went down and applied to join the LAPD.

Now, what they would do then, and they probably still do it, is when they were done training you they’d partner you up with an older guy. You were partners, you’d ride around together, take turns driving, all of that, but he’s the guy with the experience, so he’s more or less in charge. He’s showing you the ropes and it’s something you can’t get from a book or in a classroom.

They put me in a car with Lew Hagner. Now, I’d heard of him, because he had a big part in the Zoot Suit Riots in ‘43, and there were plenty of Mexicans who’d have liked to see him dead. And after I was home but before I joined up with the department, there was an incident where he got in a gunfight with three zoot-suiters or pachucos or whatever you want to call ‘em. Mexicans, anyway. He got a scratch, treated and released at Valley General, and they were all dead on arrival. One of them, the wounds were in the back, and the press made some noise about that, but most people wanted to give him a medal.

Lew was fifteen years older’n me, and I was, what, twenty-two at the time? An old twenty-two, the way everybody’s older after a war, but still. Plus my old man died while I was overseas, and a fifteen-year age difference, plus he’s there to show me the ropes; well, I’m not about to say he was like a father to me, but you might say I looked up to him.

Anyway, we’re two guys in a car. And it’s good, and I’m learning things you don’t learn any other way. All the feel of the streets, and what might be trouble and what’s not. What you had to enforce and what you could let slide. When you had to go by the book, when you didn’t even have to open it.

How else are you gonna learn that sort of thing?

Continue reading “See the Woman”

Chapter 2 of A Drop of the Hard Stuff

Continue reading A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF which hits bookstores on May 12th. Missed the Prologue? or Chapter 1? Read them first.

II

WE SAT ACROSS from each other in a booth in a diner on Twenty-third Street. He took his coffee with a lot of cream and sugar. Mine was black. The only thing I ever put in it was bourbon, and I didn’t do that anymore.

He remarked again on my having recognized him, and I said it worked both ways, he’d recognized me. “Well, you said your name,” he said. “When you gave your day count. You’ll be coming up on ninety pretty soon.”

Ninety days is a sort of probationary period. When you’ve been clean and dry for ninety days, you’re allowed to tell your story at a meeting, and to hold various group offices and service positions. And you can stop raising your hand and telling the world how many days you’ve got.

He’d been sober sixteen months. “That year,” he said. “I had a year the last day of September. I never thought I’d make that year.”

“They say it’s tough right before an anniversary.”

“Oh, it wasn’t any more difficult then. But, see, I more or less took it for granted that a year of sobriety was an impossible accomplishment. That nobody stayed sober that long. Now my sponsor’s sober almost six years, and there’s enough people in my home group with ten, fifteen, twenty years, and it’s not like I pegged them as liars. I just thought I was a different kind of animal, and for me it had to be impossible. Did your old man drink?”

“That was the other secret of his success.”

“Mine too. In fact he died of it. It was just a couple of years ago, and what gets me is he died alone. His liver went on him. My ma was gone already, she had cancer, so he was alone in the world, and I couldn’t be at his bedside where I belonged because I was upstate. So he died in a bed all by himself. Man, that’s gonna be one tough amends to make, you know?”

Continue reading “Chapter 2 of A Drop of the Hard Stuff”

Chapter 1 of A Drop of the Hard Stuff

Continue reading A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF which hits bookstores on May 12th. Missed the Prologue? Start reading here.

I

I COULDN’T TELL YOU the first time I saw Jack Ellery, but it would have to have been during the couple of years I spent in the Bronx. We were a class apart at the same grammar school, so I’d have seen him in the halls or outside at recess, or playing stickball or stoopball after school let out. We got to know each other well enough to call each other by our last names, in the curious manner of boys. If you’d asked me then about Jack Ellery, I’d have said he was all right, and I suppose he’d have said the same about me. But that’s as much as either of us would have been likely to say, because that’s as well as we knew each other.

Then my father’s business tailed off and he closed the store and we moved, and I didn’t see Jack Ellery again for more than twenty years. I thought he looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him right away. I don’t know whether he would have recognized me, because he didn’t get to see me. I was looking at him through one-way glass.

This would have been in 1970 or ’71. I’d had my gold shield for a couple of years, and I was a detective assigned to the Sixth Precinct in Greenwich Village when the prewar building on Charles Street still served as the station house. It wasn’t long after that they moved us to new quarters on West Tenth, and some enterprising fellow bought our old house and turned it into a co-op or condo, and tipped his hat to history by calling it Le Gendarme.

Years later, when One Police Plaza went up, they did essentially the same thing with the old police headquarters on Centre Street.

Continue reading “Chapter 1 of A Drop of the Hard Stuff”

Mulholland Books and Rockstar Games

We’re thrilled to announce that we will be publishing, in conjunction with Rockstar Games, a series of short stories some of which are based on characters and cases from the world of L.A. Noire, Rockstar’s forthcoming new video game. “L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories” will be available for digital download on June 6, 2011 through all major eBook retailers.

Authors with stories in the anthology include such renowned writers as Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose, Jonathan Santlofer, Duane Swierczynski and Andrew Vachss. 1940s Hollywood, murder, deception and mystery take center stage as readers reintroduce themselves to characters seen in L.A. Noire. Explore the lives of actresses desperate for the Hollywood spotlight; heroes turned defeated men; and classic Noir villains. Readers will come across not only familiar faces, but familiar cases from the game that take on a new spin to tell the tales of emotionally torn protagonists, depraved schemers and their ill-fated victims.

Read Megan Abbot’s story “The Girl” on Rockstargames.com.

Read the full press release here.

Preorder from BN.com | iTunes | Amazon

Chapter 3 of Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Keep reading GUILT BY ASSOCIATION by Marcia Clark, which is on sale now. If you missed the Prologue, Chapter 1 or Chapter 2, catch up here.

3

Lieutenant Hales pulled up to the Biltmore, guided me out of the car, and walked me to the front entrance. Through the fog of denial and disbelief, the shocked features of Angel, the doorman, floated before me.

“Rachel, what’s wrong?” he asked as he opened the door and took the elbow Hales wasn’t holding.

“She’s had a tough night,” Hales said tersely.

“I’ll take it from here,” Angel said proprietarily, with an accusatory glance at the lieutenant.

I didn’t have the energy or the sentience to explain that it was nothing the lieutenant had done. I remained mute as Angel led me inside and steered me toward the elevator.

He managed to get me to my room, and I meant to thank him, though I’m not sure the words made it out of my mouth. All I know is that the moment the door closed behind him, I pulled out the bottle of Russian Standard Platinum vodka someone had given me a while ago and poured myself a triple shot.

I looked at the television. Was the story being aired yet? I decided I didn’t want to know. And I couldn’t bring myself to call Toni. Talking about it would make it real. Right now, all I wanted was oblivion. I tossed down my drink, then poured myself another and didn’t stop pouring until I passed out cold.

Continue reading “Chapter 3 of Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark”