Stephen Usery interviews authors of mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction.

Jayne Anne Phillips is best known as a respected writer of literary fiction, having won the Sue Kaufman Prize and and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and she's been a finalist or shortlisted for other prestigious awards such as the Orange Prize and the National Book Award. 2013 brings us her fifth novel, Quiet Dell. It is based on a true crime; back in the early 1930s, an unsavory Bluebeard type conned women via lonely-hearts matrimony services and killed them and stole their money. Quiet Dell focuses on one of his last victims, Chicago-area widow Asta Eicher and her three children, including the precocious Annabel. Emily Thornhill, a reporter from Chicago, travels to West Virginia for the subsequent trial to help bring the killer to justice and to make sense of the incomprehensible actions of the killer.

Direct download: Case045-JayneAnnePhillips.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:05pm EDT

I recently spoke with George Pelecanos. He is known for his high quality work as a novelist, as well as writing for some of the most-respected television shows around like The Wire and Treme. He's written over 20 novels including the Nick Stefanos series, The Night Gardener, The D.C. Quartet, and 2011 brought us The Cut, the first novel in the Spero Lucas series. Little, Brown has recently released the second book, The Double.

In June, Amazon announced the winners of its annual Breakthrough Novel Awards. Journalist and formerly self-published novelist Jo Chumas won the mystery and suspense category with her historical thriller, The Hidden. It's the story of a young widow named Aimee in Egypt in 1940. WWII is on the verge of spilling into the land of the Nile. She receives a journal written by her mother, whom she never knew, from her life in 1919 during similarly turbulent times in Cairo. Conspiracy, secrets, and danger are all afoot in this prize-winning novel.

Direct download: CASE044-PELECANOS-CHUMAS.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 11:19am EDT

We’ve got a double header this time around. Up first, I recently spoke with Edgar Award winner Tom Franklin and Pushcart Prize winner Beth Ann Fennelly. Tommy and Beth Ann are married and both teach at the University of Mississippi, where she is his boss as the chair of the creative writing program.

Beth Ann is a prize winning poet and essayist, and Tom's literary novels full of crime and violence have brought him much acclaim, including the CWA Golden Dagger for Crooked Letter Crooked Letter. They decided to team up for the new novel, The Tilted World, a story of orphans, moonshiners and revenuers set against the backdrop of America's greatest natural disaster, the Mississippi River flood of 1927.

Up next, if you've seen the documentary Cocaine Cowboys about the Colombian drug trade in America in the 70s and 80s, the name Griselda Blanco may send shivers down your spine. She was one of the cruelest of an already mean lot to come to the States and make piles of cash while selling piles of blow. Blanco was murdered last year in her native Colombia. 

Jennie Erin Smith is an American journalist, who published the highly entertaining book, The Stolen World; A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skullduggery. She researched Blanco's life and death, turning up a lot of never printed before information for the original feature piece: Cocaine Cowgirl: The Outrageous Life and Mysterious Death of Griselda Blanco,The Godmother of Medellin.

Direct download: CASE043-FRANKLIN-FENNELLY.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:55pm EDT

This episode of Mysterypod is a bit different, as the true crime book in question, Murder in Mississippi, isn't available in the USA yet. However, I'm a huge fan of Australian author John Safran's (not to be confused with American novelist Jonathan Safran Foer)radio and television work, and the murder in question took place in Mississippi, just a couple hundred miles down the road from my current home in Memphis.

Richard Barrett was a notorious white supremacist from Rankin county, Mississippi who was murdered in 2010. The previous year, John Safran had interviewed and pranked him for his television mini-series John Safran's Race Relations on ABC1 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation television). Hearing of Barrett's death, allegedly at the hands of a young African-American man named Vincent McGee, Safran came to Mississippi to research what he thought would be a rather straight-forward story of a black man killing a virulent racist. What he found was a lot of contradictions in each of the men's lives.

We talk about Safran's growing up as a secular Jew in Australia, his satirical documentaries, and paint the broadest of strokes about his insightful and often funny book dealing with the lives and a death which were way more complex than outsiders could even imagine.

You can listen to his current radio program here:
Sunday Night Safran

And here is his recent radio mini-series interviewing true crime writers:
John Safran's True Crime

The book Trailer for Murder in Mississippi:

John Safran's Murder in Mississippi from PenguinAustralia on Vimeo.

An excellent sketch from John Safran Vs. God where he acts an atheist missionary in Salt Lake City, Utah:

Direct download: CASE42-JOHNSAFRAN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:22am EDT

John Dufresne is a Guggenheim fellow, playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. His first two novels, Louisiana Power and Light and Love Warps the Mind a Little were named New York Times notable books of the year. He's now trying his hand at crime fiction with No Regrets, Coyote, the story of middle-aged therapist Wylie Melville who gets caught up in in a tough situation when he's called into consult on a murder case on Christmas Eve down in south Florida.

Direct download: Case041-JohnDufresne.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:55am EDT

Marcus Sakey writes books. Marcus Sakey wins awards. Marcus Sakey hosts a TV show. Is Marcus Sakey part of the one percent?

Marcus Sakey's new novel,  Brilliance,  is set in alternate current-day America where for the past 33 years extraordinarily gifted children have been born and have grown into adults who have talents which make MENSA members seem like Jersey Shore cast members, Bolshoi dancers like Gerald Ford, and Jim Brown like Tina Brown. Once percent of children are so talented that it scares the other ninety-nine percent, and America has employed men like Nick Cooper to ensure that the best of us doesn't dominate the rest of us, and then the crap hits Dyson fan. (OK, that really didn't work since Dyson fans don't have blades, but then again, I'm not in the one percent, so what do you want from me?)

Direct download: CASE040-MARCUS_SAKEY.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

photo by David Hayward,
who co-wrote Heads You Lose with Lisa.
He's funny, too... for a poet.

This has been a long time coming. I've been reading Lisa Lutz's Spellman series since it started in 2007 with The Spellman Files. They started off as an odd but warm family of private eyes, but as the series has progressed, the characters have deepened with complexity and a melancholy streak which defines them as humans and not just authorial puppets. The Last Word looks at Izzy Spellman's nascent reign as head of Spellman Inc., and power has corrupted her already shaky soul. Revolt is brewing in the office and trouble is at hand in her major investor's venture capital firm.

 And Lisa is serious about wanting your money. Two Spellman-associated titles were also recently released, How to Negotiate Everything and Isabel Spellman's Guide to Etiquette.

Lisa losing her dignity:

Here's Dice Clay being meta, I think, maybe, I'm not sure...

Direct download: CASE039-LISA_LUTZ.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:38am EDT


Up first, I speak with Daniel Silva about his thirteenth Gabriel Allon novel, The English Girl. Gabriel Allon is a restorer high-end paintings and a high-end operative for a branch of the Israeli secret service known as The Office. Not every Allon novel is based on the Palestinian and Islamic threats to the Israeli state, and that is the case with The English Girl. Allon is called in to help the British government when a young politico goes missing while on vacation in the Mediterranean.

Up next is my chat with Michael Harvey. Michael Harvey is the co-creator and producer of the hit A&E television show Cold Case Files. He has earned a law degree. He's also an instructor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He also owns a bar in Chicago called The Hidden Shamrock. And to make you feel like a lazy bum, he also writes crime novels. He's published four starring the former Chicago cop and current PI Michael Kelly, and Knopf has recent published a standalone thriller which marries his love of journalism and criminal law in The Innocence Game.

Direct download: CASE038-SILVAHARVEY.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 10:52am EDT

David Berg is one of the most feared and respected trial attorneys in America. His brother Alan Berg was murdered in the spring of 1968. Charles Harrelson, the father of actor Woody Harrelson, was tried for the murder. David has recently published  Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of Murder in My Family which looks at David's tumultuous family history leading up to the time of Alan's death, and the effect it and the subsequent trial had on him and his family.

Direct download: CASE037-DAVID_BERG.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 2:19pm EDT

Scott Phillips is probably best known for his debut novel, The Ice Harvest, which was made into a film with John Cusak and Billy Bob Thornton. Following were The Walkaway, the western Cottonwood, the story collection Rum, Sodomy, and False Eyelashes, the sci-fi novel The Rut, and The Adjustment. Counterpoint has just released his novel Rake, the story of an American soap opera actor who gets in over his head when he tries to make a movie in Paris.

Direct download: Case036-Scott_Phillips.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 11:01am EDT

Ace Atkins has grown to be one of America's most successful crime fiction writers. He started off with a series about New Orleans private eye Nick Travers, and then wrote four critically-acclaimed novels based on true crimes. Now he's currently running two series. He was chosen by Robert B. Parker's estate to continue on the Spenser series and has hit the New York Times best seller list with the two he has written so far. He's released three book in his Quinn Colson series, featuring an Army Ranger who returns home to a small town in the hill country of north Mississippi to find the corruption there untenable. It began with The Ranger in 2011 followed by The Lost Ones, and both were finalists for the Edgar for best novel. Putnam has just released the third in the series, and it's entitled The Broken Places.


On February 2, 2013 famed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were murdered at a gun range in Texas. Accused of the crime is fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh. Anthony Swofford,former Marine Corps sniper, novelist and author of the memoir Jarhead, has written an essay entitled "Death of an American Sniper," which looks at Kyle's and Routh's lives and the facts around the murder as they are known to date. "Death of an American Sniper" is available as an e-book at, which offers digital quick reads from writers like Chuck Palahniuk, Margaret Atwood,and Richard Russo.

Direct download: CASE035-ACE_ATKINS.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 11:57am EDT

Charles Graeber is an award winning journalist and contributor to numerous publications including Wired,GQ, The New Yorker,Outside Magazine,Bloomberg Businessweek,and The New York Times.

His work has been honored with prizes including the Overseas Press Club award and the New York Press Club prize. He's had several National Magazine Award nominations, and his work has been selected for anthologies such as The Best American Crime Writing and The Best American Science Writing.

His first book, which is already a New York Times bestseller, The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness,and Murder is the true crime story of Charles Cullen, who may well be America's most prolific serial killer, and the business practices of several hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania which made his almost two decade long murder spree possible.

Direct download: Case034-Charles_Graeber.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:47am EDT

I'm going to have a lot of interviews coming up this month to make up for the trickle that has been so far this year. today Fiona Maazel, next week Charles Graeber, author of The Good Nurse, the true crime story of Charles Cullen who could be America's most prolific serial killer. There are also several interesting authors scheduled to stop by the studios of my other show Book Talk, and I'll be sharing these interviews with you. Assuming all things go well, Ace Atkins, Scott Phillips, and Michael Harvey will be coming at your ears over the next few weeks.

I first spoke with Fiona Maazel in 2008 about her debut novel, Last Last Chance which was the story of a drug-addicted young woman trying to get sober while the threat of a super-plague is causing the country to freak the hell out. Graywolf Press has recently released he second novel, Woke Up Lonely. Woke Up Lonely has all the hallmarks of a thriller. A man named Thurlow Dan leads a cult called The Helix which promises to take away the loneliness which seems endemic and epidemic to contemporary American life. His estranged wife Esme, a former CIA operative, is currently freelancing and spying on her  husband.  A botched recon mission has led Thurlow to keep the team hostage, as Federal and local law agencies begin a siege on his compound in Cincinnati. Oh yeah, North Korea also gets involved, and there's a miles-long criminal underground labyrinth beneath the Queen City. But the story is really about the damage we hold inside ourselves which prevents us from making connections with the people we care about. After the interview proper is over, stick around as Fiona and I talk about the Eurovision Song Contest and the appeal of Nigella Lawson. 

And for those very curious types: Denmark Eurovision 2013 winner.

Montenegro being awesome:

And the OMGWTF that was Romania:

Direct download: case-033-_fiona_maazel.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 1:27pm EDT

Sorry for the period of radio silence, victims and perpetrators. I'm going to try to get at least two interviews per month uploaded each month. I figured it was time for a little punishment to go with all our crimes. OK, maybe a lot of punishment. I drove over to Nashville and talked to Vanderbilt history professor Joel Harrington about his new book, The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century. Frantz Schmidt was the master executioner of Nuremberg in the late 1500s. His father was forced into the execution profession, and Frantz had little choice but follow, yet he worked tirelessly to restore the family's honor.

Direct download: CASE032-JOEL_HARRINGTON.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 2:51pm EDT

Here's my interview with Maureen Johnson about her new novel The Madness Underneath, the second book in the Shades of London series. Louisiana high-school student Rory Deveau is recovering from a run in with a killer who imitated the crimes of Jack the Ripper, and now she has to make some tough decisions while being pulled in different directions by family, friends, and government while attending boarding school in London.

Direct download: CASE031-MAUREEN_JOHNSON.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 2:52pm EDT

In this episode, I talk with Jenny Milchman about her debut novel, Cover of Snow.  It's the suspenseful story of Nora Hamilton, a home restoration contractor, who wakes up to find her world turned upside down. Her small town becomes difficult to navigate as the Adirondack Mountains snow piles up, and she doesn't know if she can trust anyone to tell her the truth. 

Direct download: CASE030-JENNY_MILCHMAN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 10:13am EDT

credit Jonathan Worth

Here's my interview with author Cory Doctorow about the sequel to his best-selling novel, Little Brother. The new book, Homeland, also a New York Times bestseller, picks up with Marcus Yallow, a teenage hacker who took on the Department of Homeland Security over their illegal tactics, as he tries to get his life straight and work for a congressional candidate. However, government operatives want revenge and some members of the hacking community think he isn't doing enough.We also talk about Creative Commons Licensing and the tragedy of Aaron Swartz's death.

Direct download: CASE029-CORY_DOCTOROW.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:50am EDT

Here's an interview with George Saunders about his new collection of short stories Tenth of December that I originally conducted for, the literature website for HumanitiesTennessee.  George Saunders isn't normally thought of as a crime fiction writer, but almost all of his stories have a crime, an act of violence, or another moral wrong at their centers. It's an interesting conversation with a man whose book was called "the best book you'll read this year" by The New York Times.

Direct download: CASE028-GEORGE_SAUNDERS.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 11:55am EDT

This week I'm going to kick off a run of three interviews with writers who mix in varying levels of science fiction into their work. In two weeks, I'll have an interview with George Saunders, who some say is currently the greatest writer of short stories in the world. His stories often have violence or a crime at the center of them and hints of science fiction weirdness at the edges. The New York Times recently called his new collection of stories, Tenth of December, "the best book you'll read this year."

In four weeks, I hope to have an interview with Cory Doctorow. Known for his crusading work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, he has a sequel to his hit novel Little Brother, coming out today. It's called Homeland, and it is set in a dystopian near future where a hacktivist is working against a repressive government in a thriller aimed at young and full-fledged adults. 

But for this episode of Mysterypod, I have a book that is also being released today, Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell. It's the story of a time traveler who gets together with different-aged versions of himself for a birthday party. The narrator for the story is the thirty-nine year-old self known as "The Suit", and he has to figure out how to stop his forty year-old self from being murdered at the party. 

Direct download: CASE027-SEAN_FERRELL.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Aric Davis lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has set his new novel there. Rough Men follows Will Daniels, a writer dragging himself out of the gutter, and the path he takes after his son Alex is killed. Complicating matters is the fact that his son had just robbed a bank and killed a customer. Justice for Will, in this case, is difficult to reconcile with his new, more legit life.

Direct download: Case026-AricDavis.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 12:07pm EDT

The Big Interrogation: Thomas Maltman's first novel, the Civil War-era set The Night Birds won an Alex Award, a Spur Award, and the Friends of American Writers Literary Award. His new novel, Little Wolves is set in a small Minnesota town at the end of summer in 1987. A high school boy walks into town and kills a sheriff and then himself. His father and his English teacher both search for understanding in a town that has hidden many ills over the years.

Direct download: Case025-ThomasMaltman.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:30am EDT

Day Twelve: Another tale of true crime for the last of the 12 Crimes of Christmas. Alex Heard reminds of us of one of America's highest profile rape trials that became an international story. The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South was an Edgar finalist for true crime book of the year  

Direct download: DAY_12_-_ALEX_HEARD.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Eleven: Here's brief interview with Charlaine Harris about Deadlocked, the 12th and penultimate Southern Vampire Mystery, a.k.a. The Sookie Stackhouse Books. The final book in the series, Dead Ever After, will be released in early May 2013.

Direct download: DAY_11_-_CHARLAINE_HARRIS.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:29am EDT

Day Ten: Eoin Colfer is best known for his Artemis Fowl series, but in 2011 he released his first grown up crime novel, Plugged. I got a chance to interview him at Bouchercon in St. Louis that year.

Direct download: DAY_10_-_EOIN_COLFER.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Nine: Here's my 2010 interview with Laura Lippman about her stand-alone novel, I'd Know You Anywhere. I truly think this is one of the best interviews I've ever been a part of. Please listen.

Direct download: DAY_9_-_LAURA_LIPPMAN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Eight: Here's a 2011 interview with Bill Loehfelm about the first book in his Maureen Coughlin series, The Devil She Knows.

Direct download: DAY_8_-_BILL_LOEHFELM.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Seven: I got a chance to interview Rita Mae Brown, one of the most popular mystery writers in American history. We talked about her then-recent Mrs. Murphy novel, Hiss of Death. And no, Sneakypie did not come with.

Direct download: DAY_7_-_RITA_MAE_BROWN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Six: Edgar-winner Tom Franklin is one of the most-respected writers of literary crime fiction in America. His third novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, was an Edgar finalist among many other honors. Race relations, friendships, and history converge into a story that will break your heart.

Direct download: DAY_6_-_TOM_FRANKLIN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Five: A full-length Tale of True Crime today! Hampton Sides is a native of Memphis and an award-winning writer of non-fiction. I interviewed him upon the release of Hellhound on His Trail, which chronicles the movements of James Earl Ray prior to his assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his flight from the country afterwards.

Direct download: DAY_5_-_HAMPTON_SIDES.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Four: A couple of years ago, Tess Gerritsen stopped by the studio to talk about the eighth installment of her best-selling Rizzoli and Isles series, Ice Cold.

Direct download: DAY_4_-_TESS_GERRITSEN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Three: Earlier this year, I interviewed Daniel Friedman about his debut novel, Don't Ever Get Old. Baruch "Buck" Schatz in an eighty-seven year-old retired homicide cop who gets dragged into a chase for Nazi gold. Damn, this book is funny.

Direct download: DAY_3-_DANIEL_FRIEDMAN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

The Second Crime of Christmas: I interviewed Heidi Julavits at the Arkansas Literary Festival in April earlier this year. She's the editor of The Believer, and her latest novel, The Vanishers, is guaranteed to screw with your head. It'll be out in paperback on January 8, 2013.

Direct download: DAY_2_-_HEIDI_JULAVITS.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

I'm taking a couple of weeks off from interviews, but Mysterypod listeners won't miss a thing. Over the course of the true Twelve Days of Christmas, I'll post an interview each day from my other show, Book Talk. For the first day, here's my interview from earlier this year with Patrick deWitt about his Gold Rush-era novel about a pair of hired killers known as The Sisters Brothers.

Direct download: DAY_1_-_PATRICK_DEWITT.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Rhys Bowen has enjoyed much success with her historical mysteries. Over the years, she's won a couple of Agatha and Macavity awards, among others, and has been nominated for everything else. Fans still miss her Constable Evans series, but have warmed to the Molly Murphy Series. However, we'll be starting the conversation off with the latest installment in The Royal Spyness series, starring Lady Georgiana Rannoch. The New York Times Best Seller, The Twelve Clues of Christmas finds Georgie heading to an estate in Devon for the Yuletide season and finding strange deaths aplenty.

The Bonus Interview is a chat with Santa Claus. No, not THE Kris Kringle, but the man known as the most-photographed Santa in America, Sal Lizard. Sal has been dressing up as the jolly elf for more than 20 years. We talk about his memoir Being Santa Claus: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas, which is available from Gotham Books.

Direct download: Case024-RhysBowen.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:50am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Leena Lehtolainen is one of the biggest crime fiction writers in her native Finland. Her Maria Kallio books have been turned into a television show and translated all over Europe. Finally, her books are being translated into English. The first in the series, My First Murder, was originally published back in 1993, but is brand new in paperback and it's available from Amazon Crossing.

Tale of True Crime: Katy Munger is the author of Angel Among Us which is the fourth in the Dead Detective series, and it's available from Severn House.

Bonus Interview: Here's an interview I did with Adam Johnson earlier this year about The Orphan Master's Son his first novel in way too many years. It follows Pak Jun Do, a North Korean orphan whose rise through the ranks in North Korea's power structure is fraught with kidnappings, killings, and prison camps.

Direct download: CASE023-LeenaLehtolainen.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 10:09am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Molly Caldwell Crosby worked for National Geographic Magazine before scoring a critical and commercial hit with he first book, The American Plague about the scourge of yellow fever. Her next book was Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains one of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries. I've only featured fiction in the Big Interrogation up until now, but Mysterypod listener Jared in Richmond, Virginia has told me how much he enjoys the Tales of True Crime segments, so here's a whole interrogation about a Tale of True Crime. Molly's newest book is The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace.    

Bonus Interview: I thought it would be nice to pair up Molly's interview with one I conducted with Jacqueline Winspear several years ago. Jacqueline's Maisie Dobbs series is set in England after the first World War, so it offers a nice follow up to the late Edwardian setting for The Great Pearl Heist. Jacqueline and I spoke about her fifth Maisie book, An Incomplete Revenge back in 2008. The ninth book in the series, An Elegy for Eddie, is new in paperback from Harper Perennial. 

Direct download: case022-MollyCaldwellCrosby.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:19pm EDT

THE BIG INTERROGATION: Katy Munger might be best known for her Casey Jones series, but she has a couple of other series, one starring Hubbert and Lil written under the name Gallagher Gray, and the other the Dead Detective series which she began under the name Chaz McGee. Severn House has just released the fourth installment of that series, entitled Angel Among Us, which was named one of Amazon's best suspense novels for November. Disembodied spirit and former incompetent, drunk cop Kevin Fahey tries to find a kidnapped woman before it's too late.

BONUS: I interviewed Jeff Crook this summer when his first Jackie Lyons novel, The Sleeping and the Dead, was released by Minotaur/St. Martin's. Not only does it have a supernatural setting, with the protagonist being a crime scene photographer who can see the dead, but it is set right around Thanksgiving, so I thought it be a great time to revisit it.

Direct download: Case021-KatyMunger.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Michael Kardos is the co-director on the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. His story collection One Last Good Time won the 2012 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction. His debut novel is The Three-Day Affair, published by Otto Penzler's The Mysterious Press. It's the story of three college friends and a golf weekend reunion that goes horribly wrong.

Direct download: Case019-MichaelKardos.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:36pm EDT

Jamie Freveletti is a lawyer turned award-winning novelist. Back in September, her offering for the Robert Ludlum estate, The Janus Reprisal, was published. Harper has just released the fourth novel in her series featuring chemist and adventurer Emma Caldridge, Dead Asleep, which is available now in paperback. 

Also on this week's show is an older interview I conducted with Molly Caldwell Crosby back in 2010 about her book Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries. It's about encephalitis lethargica, one of the possible causes of the sleeping sickness in Dead Asleep by Jamie Freveletti. Molly will be back on Mysterypod in a few weeks to talk about her brand new historical true crime story, The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace, which will be published on November 27 by Berkeley.

Direct download: CASE018-JAMIE_FREVELETTI.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT

The Big Interrogation: Mark Sullivan served in the Peace Corps, worked as a journalist, helped build roads in Montana, and is a thriller writer. His latest novel is Rogue; the first in a new series starring Robin Monarch. He's a thief turned CIA operative who starts to distrust his handler, which kicks off an international thrill ride.

Direct download: Case017-MarkSullivan.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:46pm EDT

The Big InterrogationJ. R. Moehringer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author. His 2005 memoir, The Tender Bar was a best seller and was named a NY Times Notable Book; he co-wrote Andre Agassi's memoir, Open, which has been praised as one of the greatest sports memoirs of all time. Hyperion has recently released his first novel, Sutton, which is a fictionalized telling of the life of America's greatest bank robber, Willie "The Actor" Sutton.
Tale of True Crime: Novelist and poet Julianna Baggott tells how a moment of witnessed violence became a scene in her novel, Pure, which is now available in paperback from Grand Central. The second installment of her dystopian trilogy, Fuse, will be published in February 2013.

Direct download: CASE016-JR_MOEHRINGER.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 4:59pm EDT

I interviewed Wiley Cash earlier this year for his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. He just won the Crime Writers Association's John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Congrats, Wiley! Enjoy the interview!

Direct download: WILEY_CASH_2012_WYPL_BOOK_TALK.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:52pm EDT

The Big Interrogation: Attica Locke. I was lucky enough to interview Attica back in 2009, when her first mystery, Black Water Rising, was released. It was nominated for many awards, the biggest being shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, which is the highest profile award in the world focusing on women writing in English. (Barbara Kingsolver won that year, and Hillary Mantel was a fellow shortlistee, so very impressive company, indeed.) 

2012 brings us her second mystery, The Cutting Season. It is set on a museum plantation down in Louisiana, where class and race conflict are part of the permanent collection. You can also listen to our interview for her book, Black Water Rising, by clicking here.
Tale of True Crime: Julie Cantrell is the former editor of the Southern Literary Review and the author of the NY Times bestselling coming-of-age novel, Into the Free.

Direct download: CASE015-ATTICA_LOCKE.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 1:15pm EDT

The Big Interrogation: Michael Wiley just received a Shamus for best hardcover p.i. novel at last week's Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland. I went to Bouchercon last year in St. Louis and interviewed Michael about his third Joe Kozmarski book, A Bad Night's Sleep, which just won the Shamus. During the interview, my microphone pre-amp started to die. About 15 minutes in, my channel starts to sound pretty rough, but Michael's sounds great all the way through. Because of the audio problems, I wasn't able to use the interview for Book Talk, but I thought it'd be a great time to resurrect it given his recent triumph. And here's my interview with him about his 2010 mystery, The Bad Kitty Lounge.

Tale of True Crime: Lawrence Norfolk is a journalist and award-winning novelist. His first novel in twelve years, John Saturnall's Feast, follows an orphan who becomes England's greatest chef during the period leading up to and including the English Civil War in the 17th century. You can hear my interview with him about John Saturnall's Feast on Book Talk.

Direct download: CASE014-MICHAEL_WILEY.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

For the big interrogation this week, we wade into the swamp that is southern gothic. Michael Morris's third novel, Man in the Blue Moon, offers up transgression, revenge, and a crooked preacher. Set in Florida's panhandle during the closing weeks of World War I, this is not the genteel south; this is a land full of drinkers, scheming bankers, and mysterious strangers.

Gregg Hurwitz gets a little too much local color at a Moscow bar in this week's tale of true crime. His latest novel is The Survivor, which is available from St. Martin's press.

And finally this week is a bit of my conversation with Tim Hallinan from our interview this past summer that didn't make it into the podcast. He recently published the e-book Making Story: Twenty-One Writers on How They Plot. It's available for Kindle from for 3.99, for free if you have an Amazon Prime account.

Direct download: case012-michael_morris.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 4:54pm EDT

Gregg Hurwitz is a man on fire. He just took over scripting the comic book series Batman:The Dark Knight. Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Lie to Me) and Gregg are teaming up to turn his U.S. Marshal Tim Rackley books into a series for TNT, and St. Martin's has just published his twelfth novel, The Survivor, about an Army vet who thinks he has nothing to lose when he gets caught in the middle of a bank robbery. 

Julia Keller offers up this week's Tale of True Crime. A Killing in the Hills, her first mystery starring West Virginia prosecutor Bell Elkins, is available from Minotaur.


 The team behind the late Los Angeles Times Magazine, Nancie Clare and Rip Georges, have decided to turn to a life of crime. Well, not quite, they're developing the first tablet magazine dedicated to thrillers, mysteries, and true crime, and it's called Noir. Currently in the process of raising funds, you can check out their Kickstarter page for more info on the project.

Direct download: Case011-Gregg_Hurwitz.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:05pm EDT

The Big Interrogation this week is with Blake Fontenay who was a newspaper reporter and columnist for more than 25 years, ten of them at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. John F. Blair has just published his debut, The Politics of Barbeque, a comic crime novel full of corruption, greed and slow-cooked meat. With the book set in Memphis and up to its hocks in barbeque, I couldn’t resist doing the interview in one of Memphis’ best known joints, The Bar-B-Q Shop on Madison Avenue, home of the best pulled pork sandwich in the world. Many thanks to Eric Vernon for letting us conduct the interview there. Blake will also be signing his novel at The Booksellers at Laurelwood on Tuesday, September 18 at 6:00 p.m.
Sean Chercover offers up a tale of true crime. He got into the p.i. business to help him with his writing, and he found out quickly that stories in real-life can have a different type of ending. His latest novel is The Trinity Game, a religious thriller where the Catholic Church, the U.S. Government, and organized crime get very nervous when a TV  preacher's prophecies actually start coming to pass. You can listen to our full interview on Case 005.

And a special best-seller interview this week with Kevin Powers. He joined the U.S. Army at seventeen and was a machine gunner in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. His debut novel, The Yellow Birds, follows an Iraq war veteran coming home and dealing with PTSD and survivor's guilt and weaves that story together with the events leading up to a horrific incident that changed his life forever.

Direct download: case010-blake_fontenay.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT

This week's big interrogation is with Andrew Cotto about his second novel, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery. Caesar is a young man in a rough section of Brooklyn in the early 1990s. He's just trying to cook good food and fix up his house when a beautiful stranger walks into his boss's restaurant and changes the neighborhood forever.

Courtney Miller Santo looks back at her great-grandparents who had too much felonious fun in San Francisco back in the day. Courtney's novel, The Roots of the Olive Tree, is about five generations of women who are being studied for a possible genetic link for longevity, and secrets and crimes are unearthed along the way.

Direct download: case009-andrew_cotto.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:33pm EDT

Megan Abbott is this week's Big Interrogation. Her new novel Dare Me looks at the dangerous world of competitive cheerleading, and in this world, acrobatic stunts aren't the only things that go bad. I've interviewed Megan twice before. Go here for our chat about The End of Everything and here about Bury Me Deep.

And in place of the regular feature segments this week, here's a sneak peek of my interview with New York Times best seller Peter Heller about his literary post-apocalyptic thriller, The Dog Stars, where almost everything has gone bad after a super-flu has decimated the world's population. The interview was conducted for my radio show Book Talk, but I'll give the Mysterypod faithful first crack at it.

Direct download: case008-megan_abbott_and_peter_heller.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 8:30pm EDT

Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Keller is this week's Big Interrogation. A Killing in the Hills is the first thriller in her Bell Elkins series, which takes place in rural West Virginia, as the small town of Acker's Gap is going to hell in a handbasket due to the illegal prescription pain pill trade and it's attendant violence.

Steve Usery takes the BaD tour from ABQ Trolley Company in Albuquerque, which lets riders check out many of the locations from the hit TV show, Breaking Bad. For more of Steve's pictures from the tour click here.

Direct download: case007-julia_keller-a_killing_in_the_hills.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 8:47pm EDT

This week's Big Interrogation is with award-winning playwright and novelist Jesse Kellerman about his new thriller Potboiler. We even talk a bit about guitars and bluegrass.

This week's Tale of True Crime comes from novelist Zoe Ferraris. You can hear our conversation about her novel Kingdom of Strangers on mysterpod case 002.
Film scholar and novelist Jake Hinkson reflects on the noir heart of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. You can read more of Jake's writing at

Direct download: case006-jesse_kellerman-potboiler.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

The Big Interrogation this week is with multi-award-winner Sean Chercover author of the The Trinity Game. Daniel Byrne, a priest/investigator for the Vatican's Devil's Advocate Office is sent to debunk the miraculous claims about an American televangelist, Tim Trinity, who happens to be Byrne's uncle.

Domingo Samudio, better known as Sam from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, shares stories of growing up rough in Texas and hard livin' women and a couple of poems seeking redemption.

Direct download: case005-sean_chercover-the_trinity_game.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

The Big Interrogation this week is with Lou Berney. His bio says that he is a accomplished liar, so who knows where this conversation falls off the truth train. He's written two comic crime novels starring too-nice-for-his-own-good wheelman Shake Bouchon, Gutshot Straight and Whiplash River.

Founder Clay Stafford will preview the upcoming Killer Nashville Conference, which takes place August 23-26, 2012 at the Hutton Hotel in Music City, U.S.A. Honored guests this year are C.J. Box, Heywood Gould, and Peter Straub.

And Steve talks with Richard Katz of Mystery One Bookstore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about what he's been reading and what new releases we can look forward to this August.

Direct download: mysterypod-case004-lou-berney.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

The big interrogation this week is with Zoe Ferraris who has written a trio of tremendous procedurals set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The newest of which is Kingdom of Strangers, published by Little, Brown.

Jeff Crook provides our Tale of True Crime this week. His mystery novel debut is The Sleeping and the Dead and is available from Minotaur/St. Martin's. Check back in a couple of weeks for our interview on my other show Book Talk.

Preston Lauterbauch looks at the mysterious death of R&B pioneer Johnny Ace. Check out his fabulous book, The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock'n'Roll, new in paperback from W.W. Norton. Lots of good rockin' tonight and true crime are guaranteed.
If you want more, listen to our interview from last year for Book Talk.

Direct download: mysterypod-case002-zoe_ferraris.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:36am EDT

The big interrogation this week is with Joseph Kanon (Los Alamos, The Good German) about his latest Cold War thriller, Istanbul Passage.

Natalie Bakopolous kicks off the "Tales of True Crime" segment with a story of her first paycheck gone wrong. Her novel The Green Shore is available from Simon and Schuster. She'll also be a guest on my other show Book Talk in a couple of weeks.

Jake Hinkson talks about the noir underpinnings of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. He novel Hell On Church Street was published by New Pulp Press.<

Direct download: mysterypod-case001-joseph_kanon.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 1:39pm EDT