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  1. Caroline and son. Courtesy of the Clifton family. What is our relationship to history? Do we belong to it, or is it ours? Are we in it? Does it run through us, spilling out like water, or blood? I think the answers to those questions, at least in America, depend upon who you are—or rather, on who you’ve been taught to believe that you are. If the history you descend from has been mapped, adapted, mythologized, reenacted, and broadcast as though it is the central defining story of a continent, perhaps you can be forgiven (up to a point) for having succumbed to a collective distortion. But wh
  2. Like all of my mob-drama-obsessed brethren, I anxiously awaited The Sopranos prequel, Many Saints of Newark, which aired on HBO on October 1. Not for the blood or the body count but for what has elevated the mob canon of books, film and television since Mario Puzo published his novel The Godfather in 1969: Family. Sopranos creator David Chase became transfixed with the Corleones while studying for his master’s degree in film at Stanford. “I was just ready for that book,” he would tell Stanford magazine of Mario Puzo’s Biblical novel. Decades later, battle-scarred from toiling on TV shows li
  3. You may be thinking, lately, “what’s with all the horror content on CrimeReads? This is a crime fiction site!” And yet, like obscenity, genre fiction struggles to mold itself to any particular definitions, instead resting on the principal of “I know it when I see it.” I organized a roundtable discussion with some of the many horror fiction writers crossing over into thriller territory (to be posted next week) and many of the respondents described horror not as a genre, but as a feeling. And as well they might, for horror seems particularly difficult to *ahem* nail down. The following list is c
  4. The punk rock scene I came up in never had much in common with an English village. But the nocturnal world of basement clubs and backstage passes has long proved rich territory for crime writers examining themes of community, creativity, and fame. As I’ve turned from my usual cat cozies to psychological suspense, the mix of inspiration, ambition, alcohol, and passion that fuels this gut-level music has proved irresistible. And while there are wonderful mysteries set in the various musical universes, from the famed La Fenice opera house (Donna Leon, Death at La Fenice) to the brothels of Storyv
  5. As a voracious reader since age seven (Nancy Drew), bookstores call me as if magnetized. There’s something magical about rows of crisp colorful bindings and the scent of fresh ink. Used bookshops are especially intriguing, often offering bargains and rarities. On lazy Sunday afternoons years ago, my parents used to load us into the station wagon and drive to a magnificent used bookstore in Hallowell, Maine. The building was old and quaint, with peeling paint and creaky wood floors. Books were piled in the window. Stacked on the floor. Crammed into cases. I still remember my held breath when
  6. Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter. Welty, ca. 1962, Wikimedia Commons This week at The Paris Review, we’re waiting for the bus and descending into the subway. Read on for Eudora Welty’s Art of Fiction interview, Gish Jen’s short story “Amaryllis,” and Frank O’Hara’s poem “Corresponding Foreignly,” paired with a portfolio of photographs by G. M. B. Akash. If you en
  7. The Victorian era is, for what seem like obvious reasons, defined by the life span of the British Queen Victoria, which dates from her birth in 1837 and ends with her expiration in 1901. Those early years, when she was an infant and then a toddler and then an adolescent (although it may be difficult to envision her as such) did not actually produce much in the way of what we recognize as “Victorian fiction,” which developed later in her life—and beyond. Indeed, much Edwardian fiction, if we read it without being aware of publication dates, has precisely the tone and attitude of the works prod
  8. If you’re anything like me, the books that tend to stick with you are the ones that simply blow your mind. The ones that take you away from reality and make you think about everything in a completely new way. My personal favorites are the ones where I can’t decide if I would really love the tech or speculative situation to be real, or if I’m super thankful that it’s not. Speculative fiction is a broad category of fiction, which includes any genre that has elements that do not exist in reality—we’re talking sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, etc. It’s these “what if” scenarios that my mind tends to
  9. A few years ago, when I decided to move from my city apartment into an old small house in the woods, everyone thought I was crazy. And actually, maybe I was, because the forest and I are not always best friends, to be honest. During the day, I love the surroundings – the peace, the specialness . Then again, some nights I cannot sleep: animals scream, the wind rushes through the trees, everything creaks. This is when my brain starts to develop dark visions and strange fears. So what else should I do but write thrillers? And is it a coincidence that so far all of my books are at least partially
  10. At the conclusion of the seven Quirke novels, starting with Christine Falls and concluding with Even the Dead, it seemed as though Benjamin Black, aka John Banville—(and more later about the name game he’s adeptly played) had achieved a perfect narrative arc. Over the series, we learned how Quirke had become the misanthropic misfit he is and how the repressive Catholic Church’s control of Dublin in the 1950s permeated all aspects of an often depressing, yet occasionally vibrant life. Quirke, a pathologist who seldom actually practices his trade, cannot help but involve himself in any number o
  11. In her monthly column The Moon in Full, Nina MacLaughlin illuminates humanity’s long-standing lunar fascination. Each installment is published in advance of the full moon. The Wild Hunt of Odin, by Peter Nicolai Arbo, Nasjonalmuseet Summer is dead. The last flames of its cremation heat the leaves across New England where I live. The rest of the fire-stained leaves will fall, ashy on the forest floors, ashy on the sidewalks. This is how ghosts speak, the sound of ashy leaves blown by wind or shuffled by feet, and October is when they speak the loudest. Ghosts are white in the imagination, pal
  12. The following photographs are taken from the archives of Lester Sloan, who was a photojournalist for Newsweek, where he documented the 1967 uprising in Detroit, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, and the O. J. Simpson trial, from the late sixties until the mid-nineties. The captions are transcribed conversations between Lester and his daughter, the writer Aisha Sabatini Sloan. They have been edited for concision. They are offered here in the spirit of an eavesdropped conversation. While this is a work of nonfiction, the stories relayed here are recollections, prone to
  13. Another week, another batch of books for your TBR pile. Happy reading, folks. * Anthony Horowitz, A Line to Kill (Harper) “Bestseller Horowitz’s superior third mystery features former detective inspector Daniel Hawthorne and a fictionalized Horowitz (after 2019’s The Sentence Is Death)in an effortless blend of humor and fair play.” Publishers Weekly Otto Penzler (ed), The Big Book Victorian Mysteries (Vintage / Black Lizard) “This doorstop volume will provide hours of pleasure reading for fans of traditional mystery fiction.” Publishers Weekly Vannessa Veselka, Zazen (Vinta
  14. It’s one of the oldest tropes in pulp: After a few rounds of plastic surgery that leave them unrecognizable, a protagonist returns incognito to their old haunts, often on a mission of righteous revenge. Not only is it a primal bit of wish fulfillment (who hasn’t wanted to completely chuck their old identity, especially after a hard week?), but it’s given directors and writers the perfect tool to plunge into the heart of noir’s biggest themes, from identity to the pain of finally letting things go. You can’t discuss plastic surgery and noir without mentioning “Dark Passage” (1947), starring Hu
  15. What’s a better time of year for a cozy mystery than Halloween? There are cats and witches and long, dark nights around the hearth, drinking mulled cider and telling ghost stories. It seems like All Hallows’ Eve is second only to the December holidays as a popular time of year for amateur sleuths to track down the ghastly murderers who disrupt their communities. If you haven’t yet bobbed for books in the Halloween cozy barrel, here are a few to get you started during the days and nights ahead. Killer Takeout: A Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdette Being a seasonal resident of Key
  16. While I probably shouldn’t let you know exactly what happens in my novel In the Land of Dead Horses, I can tell you where and why the action occurs. Much of it takes place in the desolate region shared by western Texas and northern Mexico, and why it happens involves old conflicts between Spaniard and Indian, Mexican and Anglo—clashes that, more times than we might care to admit, have led to violence on both sides of the border. Fact is, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico is rooted in crime. Texas’s declaration of independence from Mexico in 1835 was itself considered illegal—sediti
  17. Welcome to the CrimeReads Streaming Guide, where we spotlight a very specific category of crime movies we think you should be watching right now. ___________________________________ It’s October! The season of woolen garments, fun-sized candy, and scary movies. But this is a crime website, so rather than tell you about a bunch of straight-up scary movies to stream this month, I’m going to suggest a bunch of scary movies that are NOT horror movies! Yes that’s right… no supernatural hoopla here, folks. Just some good, old-fashioned villains whose behavior does not tip the scales towards slashe
  18. As readers of thrillers and suspense, we love the feeling of adrenaline pumping as we sleuth our way through clues left strategically for us by the authors. While we constantly crave these page-turning mysteries and action-packed plots that keep us guessing until the final pages, more and more authors have started turning to unique formats and structure to help them stand out among the masses. Not only does a unique format in a thriller give a breath of fresh air to readers in the genre who see a lot of similar tropes, but it’s also a fascinating and strategic tool for how those delicate bread
  19. As a licensed private investigator, I’ve followed people for days without them noticing me. But I wasn’t driving a red Ferrari with personalized plates—that would get me noticed in the first block. Can you imagine seeing a car like that behind you as you go to the bank, then the post office, then the mall? My surveillance vehicle can’t have anything distinctive about it, and it certainly can’t be a bright red car that cost over a hundred grand. Magnum PI was a popular TV show, and you’re allowed to love it; but even before I became a PI, I couldn’t watch it. It just wasn’t realistic to me. An
  20. Oh, we live in troubled times, don’t we? I could list all the things wrong with the world, but why bother? All you have to do is turn on the TV, or scroll through social media, or simply walk down the street and you’ll likely be inundated with the many terrible crises we’re all facing. Who needs more of that? No, instead of reminding you of what’s wrong with the world, I’d like to offer you an escape. An escape to a world that seems much like our own but with a few key differences. It’s a world where you can expect to be handled gently. Where you can snap your fingers or wiggle your nose and l
  21. Consider the moment you wake from a nap into disorientation so pure, the first thing you see when you open your eyes—a lamp, a windowsill—is distorted and unfamiliar. You glitch. Draw a blank. Imagine a distillation of this perception as an elusive high. I’d argue that the kind of fiction that bottles up this feeling and pours it down your throat is more terrifying than any haunted house, vengeful ghost, or Little Kid Who Sees Things. That’s not to say that the time-honored elements of horror can’t be used to great and satisfying effect, or reconfigured into something wholly fresh. I’m not o
  22. Added to “Gen X Soft Club” Are.na channel by Evan Collins. I love this time of year. It takes a little while to adjust to the shorter days, but soon I settle into and relish the long dark hours. Some evenings I turn out the lamps, except for the dim reddish one, lie on the sofa, and listen to terrifying music. I love to feel my heart pound, my stomach drop, my blood move backward. I remember as a child encasing my head in my dad’s enormous leather headphones and listening to his Hawkwind, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, and Captain Beefheart records in the dark. The padded headphones were a helmet and
  23. Shawn “S.A.” Cosby is a writer who needs no introduction. He’s everywhere. His latest novel, Razorblade Tears, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Before that, Blacktop Wasteland garnered nearly every accolade imaginable: Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner, New York Times Notable Book, NPR’s Best Books of 2020, and more. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the chance to sit down and talk “shop” with such a successful author. A dude from the South. Gloucester, Virginia to be exact. I was so excited, I logged into our Zoom meeting ten minutes early. Over an hour later, I was still w
  24. One of the most common questions novelists are asked is, where do you get your ideas? For me, and for many writers of historical fiction, inspiration is all around us. It’s on the sidewalks we traverse, the streets we drive, anytime we look outside our windows. That house was built from a 1911 Sears Roebuck catalogue; that bodega used to be a mob hangout in the 1920s; these cobblestones were laid since the 1840s. One small nugget of knowledge about how things used to be can spark an idea, which grows into a story, which can be spun into a novel. Novelists mine all kinds of sources, and I don
  25. When The Best American Mystery Stories series began in 1997, I was eleven years old and an eager consumer of the criminal and the macabre. I’m glad I spent my childhood without the Internet for many reasons, but one of them is that I didn’t have access to Wikipedia’s list of serial killers by number of victims. Instead, I savored whatever I could get from my closed universe of resources: reading materials chosen by elementary school teachers and my easily scandalized Korean immigrant mother. I treasured my mass-market collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories, and over twenty years later, I rememb
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