Archive for February, 2010

“An understated crime fiction gem . . . a wildly thought-provoking whodunit,” is how the Chicago Tribune termed Barbara Fister’s first Chicago-based crime novel featuring ex-cop and current PI Anni Koskinen. That work, In the Wind, finds Anni herself the object of an FBI investigation when she unwittingly helps a fugitive escape.

Fister locates her work in Chicago and takes the challenge of writing that oft-used locale seriously, as evidenced by a Publishers Weekly contributor who wrote of In the Wind: “The Windy City already has plenty of fictional PIs, but they’ll have to make room for the gutsy and appealing Anni Koskinen.”

Fister, dubbed the “heir apparent to Sara Paretsky,”  followed up this successful first Anni Koskinen mystery with a second, Through the Cracks, out this May. Here the indefatigable PI takes on a serial rapist in a story that Publishers Weekly called a  “gritty mystery [that is] well above the norm.” The same reviewer thought that Anni Koskinen’s “empathy with both cops and victims as well as her fierce, brittle independence make her easy to root for.”

Barbara, thanks for taking the time to drop by Scene of the Crime and sharing some thoughts on location in your fiction. (more…)

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Today Scene of the Crime welcomes veteran mystery writer Cara Black, author of the popular Aimée Leduc series, set in contemporary Paris. Black knows her setting and relishes taking the reader into the insider’s Paris, as noted by a reviewer for the New York Times who wrote, “If the cobblestones of the old Marais district of Paris could only talk, they might tell a tale as haunting as the one Cara Black spins.” Of Cara’s spirited protagonist, a Publishers Weekly contributor observed, “Aimée makes an engaging protagonist, vulnerable beneath her vintage chic clothing and sharp-witted exterior.”

Black began her series in 1998 with Murder in the Marais, and since that time has been working her ways steadily through the districts of Paris, setting each new novel in a different part of the city. However, the idea for the series had been percolating since 1984 when she was inspired by the Marais district before it was gentrified. A decade later the idea for the first novel came to her as she was walking around the city at night. Along with the story came the image of her tattooed, spike-haired female detective. Cara’s tenth Aimée Leduc novel, Murder in the Palais Royal, is out next month.

Cara, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with Scene of the Crime and talk about Paris. (more…)

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Today’s guest needs little introduction to the legion of fans he has around the world. The author of the popular Berlin-based Bernhard Gunther series, Philip Kerr has also written stand-alone bestsellers, including A Philosophical Investigation, Dead Meat, The Grid, Esau, A Five-Year Plan, The Second Angel, The Shot, Dark Matter, and Hitler’s Peace. Critics often refer to Kerr as a thinking-person’s thriller writer; writing as P.B. Kerr he also publishes an immensely popular fantasy series for young readers, “The Children of the Lamp.”

Today, however, we will focus on Kerr’s Gunther novels, most of which are set in Berlin shortly before, during, and after World War II. Bernie Gunther is an ex-police officer turned private investigator. The first three in the series, March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem, were published between 1989 and 1991, and later gathered in the omnibus volume, Berlin Noir. Kerr busied himself with other novels for fifteen years before returning to the Bernie Gunther books in 2006 with The One from the Other, followed by A Quiet Flame, and If the Dead Rise Not (scheduled for U.S. publication in March). Typical of the critical praise the series has garnered is a Publishers Weekly notice commenting that Kerr smoothly integrates a noir crime plot with an authentic historical background.”

Philip, it is a great pleasure to have you with us on Scene of the Crime to discuss your Berlin novels. (more…)

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Vicki Delany brings us closer to home, vis-à-vis setting, for our next Scene of the Crime interview. A well-known Canadian writer, Delany sets her contemporary Smith and Winter series in British Columbia. But she also has a historical mystery series set in the Yukon Territory of 1898. For this interview, Delany concentrates on her contemporary mystery series, about which a Publishers Weekly reviewer  wote, [Delany] uses a bare-bones style, without literary flash, to achieve artistry as sturdy and restrained as a Shaker chair. Warmth and menace, past and present, are nicely balanced, with a denouement that’s equally plausible and startling.”

Vicki was good enough to take time out from her series writing and her stand-along suspense novels set in Ontario to answer a few questions about the importance of place in her writing. (more…)

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Rebecca Cantrell is the award-winning author of the Hannah Vogel series, set in 1930s Berlin. Cantrell’s Hannah is a crime reporter who, in the series opener, A Trace of Smoke, investigates the murder of her own brother, a cross-dressing cabaret star.

An investigation of the seamy underside of Weimar Berlin, this debut was hailed as “haunting…evocative, compassionate and compelling,” by a Kirkus Reviews critic, and “unforgettable” by a Publishers Weekly reviewer. The second novel in the series, A Night of Long Knives, out in May 2010, continues Hannah’s adventures.

Becky was good enough to put down some of her thoughts about 1930s Berlin for this Scene of the Crime interview. (more…)

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