The Late Show

Michael Connelly could simply continue rotating novels between his two popular series – Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer – and remain one of the most popular authors working today. But instead Connelly chose to introduce a new character in THE LATE SHOW, his latest novel. And if this debut is any indication, Detective Renee Ballard can easily became the third major player in Connelly’s arsenal.

Renee Ballard, a former crime journalist, joined the LAPD several years ago and quickly rose to the rank of police detective. Then she filed a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor. But when her fellow officers failed to support her complaint Ballard was demoted to working the midnight shift in Hollywood – known internally as “The Late Show.”

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Virgin Cay / A Night Out

When you think of crime fiction based near the Florida coast, you obviously think of John D. MacDonald. But Basil Heatter, a news commentator and author, was also active during MacDonald’s early career, and portrayed a much more foreboding side to these seafaring locations. Now two of Heatter’s crime novels, VIRGIN CAY and A NIGHT OUT, are available again as part of Stark House’s Mystery Classics series, and demonstrate not only Heatter’s familiarity with the southeastern seacoast, but also his skills with plot construction and characters.

Gus Robinson’s boat is sinking as VIRGIN CAY opens. Robinson struggles to the shore, where he meets Clare. She offers him shelter as well as her bed. Then Clare offers Robinson a chance to earn enough money to buy a new boat and regain his beloved freedom. All he has to do is kill the one person who stands in the way of Clare and a huge inheritance. But then Robinson meets his intended victim and faces an unexpected choice.

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The Force

Don Winslow’s latest, THE FORCE, again demonstrates Winslow’s masterful ability to present unsettling, contemporary issues through the eyes of complex and remarkable characters. Here, however, our sympathy for the protagonist is challenged like never before. Yet our understanding is never disputed. And it is this clash of emotions – among the many other striking elements — that makes THE FORCE one of the most compelling and memorable crime novels you are ever likely to read.

Denny Malone heads the NYPD’s Manhattan North Special Task Force, an elite unit renown for its ability to wage war on gangs, drugs, and guns. On the street they are known as “Da Force” and not above using the popular “Star Wars” reference. And recently Malone’s Task Force scored the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history.

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Jimi After Dark

Crime author Stephen Mertz’s latest novel, JIMI AFTER DARK, continues his use of popular and influential musicians as the backdrop to a story of murder and mystery – a trend he began with his 2011 novel, HANK AND MUDDY. This time, as the title reveals, the musician is the iconic Jimi Hendrix.

The setting is the early 1970s. Although at the height of his popularity, a few lackluster performances have placed Jimi Hendrix’s career in jeopardy. A music festival he was to headline is canceled. Suddenly desperate for money, Jimi retreats to London – the city where he first found fame with his psychedelic blues guitar playing – and gets tangled up with loan sharks.

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The Soak

Is it possible for a criminal protagonist to be long past his prime yet captivating enough to hold our interest? The author of the HOW TO SUCCEED IN EVIL series, Patrick E. McLean, succeeds in this challenge with his foray into crime fiction, THE SOAK.

Hobbs, the novel’s lead character, knows he’s not a young man anymore. But working large-scale heists is the only life he knows. So as much as he’d like to quite, when he learns about a Florida armored truck transporting huge amounts of cash Hobbs finds himself once more planning and carrying out another theft.

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Lucky

LUCKY is the fifth novel of Henry Chang’s series featuring Jack Yu, the Chinese-American NYPD detective whose beat is mostly Chinatown. But just as the Chinese culture is felt in areas other than this self-enclosed neighborhood, the locations of Chang’s crime series often covers many other areas of New York City. Still the most painful conflicts occur within Detective Yu’s tortured soul.

Jack Yu and Tat Louie grew up together on the mean streets of New York’s Chinatown. They shared similar dreams as trouble-prone youths. But as adults their lives took two distinctly different paths. Jack Yu joined the NYPD, eventually working his way to becoming a Police Detective. Tat became “Lucky” Louie, a notorious Chinatown gang leader whose dealings in drugs, gambling, and prostitution earned him a reputation throughout the entire city.

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Sleep With the Devil / Wake Up to Murder / Joy House

Day Keene (1903–1969) may not have “invented” noir but he and his contemporary authors (which included Jim Thompson and David Goodis), churning out crime and mystery fiction during the heydays of Fawcett Gold Medal and Lion Book paperback originals, laid the foundations for what is today known and revered as noir.

Now, thanks to this trio of Keene crime novels from the 1950s republished under Stark House Press’s Crime Classics banner, we get to experience noir in the making.

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The Snatchers / Clean Break

Crime fiction fans are probably more familiar with the many movie adaptations of Lionel White’s novels than with the novels themselves. Now, thanks to Stark House Press’s Crime Classics series, we can read THE SNATCHERS, White’s first novel, as well as CLEAN BREAK, the basis of Stanley Kubrick’s THE KILLING.

Cal Dent, in THE SNATCHERS (1953), leads a team of outlaws that have set up what they are certain is the prefect crime – a kidnapping that is sure to bring them half a million dollars ransom. But things start to go wrong as Dent’s team and the kidnapped victims hide out in a vacation rental in Land’s End and wait for the payoff.

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Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade

BLOOD AND LEMONADE, the latest collection of stories about Hap Collins and Leonard Pine – Lansdale’s odd but irresistible duo of East Texas crime-fighters – is a companion to both the Sundance TV series (which recently began its second season with an adaptation of MUCHO MOJO) and the previous story collection, HAP AND LEONARD, published last year. But two noticeable differences distinguish this latest collection.

For one, the stories trace the earliest days of the partnership; all the way back to when Hap first met Leonard in high school. Also, as Lansdale notes in his Afterword, this is more of a “mosaic novel” than the earlier collection. That is, the stories convey the life and theme of its characters with new passages (or this this case entire stories) added for necessary transitions – much like what Ray Bradbury did with THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

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Rusty Puppy

RUSTY PUPPY, Joe R. Lansdale’s 10th Hap and Leonard novel, is another rough-and-tumble romp as the two unlikely friends and partners investigate the murder of a young black man and get caught up in a web of corruption and the lingering racism of their East Texas home.

Not long after being released from the hospital, where he was recovering from a near-fatal stab wound, Hap Collins, a self-proclaimed white-trash rebel, is approached by a black woman who lives across the street form the office were Hap works as a private investigator. The woman hires Hap and his partner, Leonard Pine, a gay, black Republican Vietnam vet, to find who killed her teenage son. Hap asks if the woman has consulted the local police – only to discover that the woman is certain the police are the ones who killed her son.

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