Saturday, December 16, 2017

On Gender and Jedi

Fair warning: beyond here be spoilers (not to mention deep-dive Star Wars nerdery). If you haven't seen The Last Jedi yet, you may want to navigate away.

I'm serious. If you keep reading, you will be spoiled.

This is your final warning. From here on out, it's all spoilers, all the time.

Monday, December 04, 2017

UNPUTDOWNABLE: The Art and Craft of Writing Gripping Scenes

Would you like to sharpen up your scenes and learn how to keep your readers turning pages? Then join me at USM's Glickman Library in Portland, Maine on Saturday, February 24, 2018, and I'll tell you everything I know.

I'm putting on this five-hour workshop in collaboration with the fine folks at Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, an organization I enthusiastically endorse. It's open to members and nonmembers alike, but either way, registration is required. Click through for details. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Appearance: Noir at the Bar, 11/19

Mainers! The latest installment of Noir at the Bar Portland is this Sunday, November 19 at Bull Feeney's. The event runs from 3:00 to 5:00 PM and admission is free. Jen Blood, Brenda Buchanan, Richard Cass, Bruce Robert Coffin, Kate Cone, Vaughn Hardacker, Maureen Milliken, Sandra Neily, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Brendan Rielly, and yours truly will all be reading. Kelly's Books to Go will be on hand if you wanna bring a little something home. (Books make lovely gifts.) I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

BLOOD BUSINESS is Now Available!

Yesterday, I had elections on the brain, so I failed to celebrate a bit of book news: Hex Publishers' latest anthology, BLOOD BUSINESS, is now available!

BLOOD BUSINESS, edited by Mario Acevedo and Joshua Viola, is actually two anthologies in one—each featuring its own cover. (The image I've included here is the back cover, because, well, my name's on it.) All of the stories are gritty crime tales, but half of them take place in the real world, while the other half contain supernatural elements. My story, "The Group Home," is the latter.

No matter your preference, the lineup—which includes Paul Goat Allen, Betsy Dornbusch, Jason Heller, Stephen Graham Jones, Mark Stevens, and Alyssa Wong, to name but a few—can't be beat. I'm honored to be counted among them. Grab a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Hex Publishers today!

Wicked Baked

New England Crime Bake is this weekend! I confess, it snuck up on me this year (hence the lateness of this post), but I'm delighted to be taking part. If you, too, plan on chilling in Woburn* this weekend, here's where you'll find me:

MASTERS OF SUSPENSE: The Key Elements of Suspense
Lisa Gardner, Chris Holm, Gayle Lynds, and Joseph Finder (m)
Saturday, November 11
9:00 to 9:50 AM

First Page Roundtable
Saturday, November 11
1:45 to 3:00 PM

As ever, if you see me around, please feel free to say hello. The full (and I do mean full, because it is action-packed) schedule can be found here.

*Fun game for people who live outside of New England: try pronouncing Woburn. No, I'm sorry, you're incorrect.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Haunting Hour

As I mentioned in my fall roundup, Dustin Tucker, who starred in the irreverent Portland Stage production of Sherlock Holmes' "The Hound of the Baskervilles" that I attended last year, is adapting my short story "The Well" for the stage as part of his Haunting Hour series.

The Haunting Hour runs from October 25th to November 4th, and also features work from Tess Gerritsen, John Cariani, and many more. Bob Keyes wrote a fantastic article about it for Maine Today.

If you're interested in attending, you can get tickets here. I'll be on hand for the Saturday, October 28th performance, if you'd like to say hello or get a book signed. I'll have a few books on sale for the duration of the run, but please feel free to bring your own copies on the 28th if you'd like. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

RED RIGHT HAND is Now Available in Paperback!

It's official: RED RIGHT HAND is out in paperback! To celebrate, I swung by John Valeri's blog for a chat... and if you leave a comment on the interview, you can win one of five free copies! What're you waiting for? Get clicking, and good luck!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

RED RIGHT HAND Paperback Cover Reveal!

What do you do when the cover of your hardback's damn near perfect? You don't mess with it too much, that's what. RED RIGHT HAND's paperback cover keeps the indelible image of the original, but it's brighter, punchier, and more dynamic. It comes out October 10th. Look for it wherever finer books are sold.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Stalker's Guide to Finding Chris at B'con 2017

At long last, Bouchercon 2017 is nearly upon us. From where I'm sitting, it looks to be a great one. For one thing, RED RIGHT HAND is up for the Anthony Award for Best Novel (and comes out in paperback the Tuesday before). For another, I've never been to Toronto, so I'm really looking forward to exploring (read: eating and drinking my way around) the city. And last, but certainly not least, it's been way too long since I got the chance to hang with my tribe.

Provided the Canadian authorities allow me to cross the border, here's where an enterprising stalker* might find me:

Friday, October 13**

Beautiful Brutality? Violence in Mysteries
w/Joe Clifford, E.C. Diskin, Amy Stuart, Sara Jayne Townsend, and Thomas Pluck (m)
8:30 to 9:30 AM
Sheraton C
(signing to follow)

Saturday, October 14

Best Novel: Meet Your Best Novel Anthony Nominees
w/Megan Abbott, Reed Farrel Coleman, Laura Lippman, Louise Penny, and Hank Phillippi Ryan (m)
10:00 to 11:00 AM
Grand Centre
(signing to follow)

Sunday, October 15

2017 Anthony Awards
11:45 AM to 1:00 PM
Grand Centre
(signing to follow)

And, as ever, I'm always*** happy to chat or sign books, so if you spot me and you'd like to introduce yourself, please feel free. See you in Toronto!

*Seriously, though, if you're stalking me, you should really set your sights a little higher
**Ooh, spooky
***Restrooms excluded****
****Unless you promise to vote for RED RIGHT HAND for the Anthony Award for Best Novel, at which point I'll happily engage in a brief, sink-side conversation*****
*****But for god's sake, wash your hands

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Appearance: Cold River Radio Show, 9/10

Man, that's one heck of a lineup.
New Englanders! If you're as big a fan of old-fashioned variety shows as I am, I hope you'll join me Sunday, September 10th, at 7PM in Intervale, New Hampshire for the Cold River Radio Show! It promises to be an amazing night of story and song. (Don't worry; I'm not providing any of the song.) Click through for more information, or to purchase tickets.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Busy Season

I feel as if I say this every year, but dang is this fall shaping up to be a busy one. Here's a brief (and doubtless incomplete) rundown of what I'll be up to in the coming weeks. (Yes, I know fall doesn't technically start until the 22nd, but I had to put on long pants yesterday, so as far as I'm concerned, it's already here.)


Sunday, September 10th,  at 7PM, I'll be appearing on the Cold River Radio Show, an old-fashioned variety program that records live before a studio audience in Intervale, New Hampshire's Theater in the Wood. It promises to be a tremendous evening, full of story and song. Click through for more information.

On September 24th, my little sister's getting married. You probably can't come, but I'm very happy for her, so it seemed worth mentioning.

From October 12th to 15th, I'll be in Toronto for Bouchercon, where RED RIGHT HAND is up for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Novel. I'll also be on a couple panels, about which I'll post in greater detail as the time nears, since this update is threatening to be way too long already.

And from November 10th to 12th, you'll find me at New England Crime Bake, where I'll also be on a panel. Again, details to follow as we get closer to the event.


The University of Chicago Press' reprint of Richard Stark's BREAKOUT, to which I contributed a foreword, comes out September 5th. The last three books in the series come out the 5th as well, at which point the entire series will be in print for the first time. Fellow Parker fans, rejoice!

RED RIGHT HAND comes out in paperback on October 10th. It's got a snazzy new cover I'll be releasing soon, so stay tuned.

I've got a creepy short story called "The Group Home" in Hex Publisher's BLOOD BUSINESS anthology, which comes out November 7th. BLOOD BUSINESS is a collection of dark, gritty crime stories, half of which feature paranormal elements. I'll leave you to discover which half my story belongs to.


Dustin Tucker, who starred in Portland Stage's irreverent production of Sherlock Holmes' "The Hound of the Baskervilles," is adapting my short story "The Well" for the stage as part his The Haunting Hour series. The event runs from October 25th to November 4th, and also features work from Tess Gerritsen, John Cariani, and many more. If you manage to snag tickets to the showing on the 28th, you might just see me there!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Ain't they pretty?
Donald Westlake is one of my literary idols. His Parker books—written under the pen name Richard Stark—comprise, in my opinion, the finest crime series ever written.

The series (twenty-four books strong) kicked off in 1962 with THE HUNTER and concluded with DIRTY MONEY, which was published shortly before Westlake's death in 2008. Thanks in part to a twenty-three year hiatus between 1974's BUTCHER'S MOON and 1997's COMEBACK, the series has never been in print in its entirety... but that's about to change.

The University of Chicago Press began reissuing the series in 2008, with forewords from such crime fiction luminaries as Charles Ardai, Lawrence Block, and Dennis Lehane. Next Tuesday, September 5th, they're releasing the last four books in the series. NOBODY RUNS FOREVER and ASK THE PARROT feature forewords by Duane Swierczynski. Laura Lippman penned the foreword for DIRTY MONEY.

BREAKOUT includes a foreword by, um, me.

I can't tell you what an honor it is to be a footnote in this series. I hope I did it (and the late, great Donald Westlake) justice, because its influence on my work can't be overstated. Many thanks to Maggie Hivnor-Labarbera and everybody at The University of Chicago Press, both for the opportunity and for ensuring that a whole new crop of readers will have the opportunity to fall in love with the Parker books like I did.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Appearance: The Mystery in Gerritsen's Garden, 7/29

Would you like to spend a sunny summer Saturday in Maine's gorgeous midcoast region hobnobbing with some of the finest authors on the planet? I'm talking about such award-winning, bestselling scribes as Tess Gerritsen, Gayle Lynds, Douglas Preston, and Richard Russo, to name but a few. (For what it's worth, I'll be there too, along with my lovely and talented wife.)

What if I told you that Tess was hosting this shindig in her own stunning seaside garden?

Of course you'd like to come. Who wouldn't?

This once-in-a-lifetime event, which benefits the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (a terrific organization I'm delighted to support), takes place Saturday, July 29, and tickets are still available. Click through for more information (including a complete list of attending authors). I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

RED RIGHT HAND Nominated For An Anthony!

I'm delighted to report that RED RIGHT HAND is nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Novel! Thanks to all who included it on their ballots, and congratulations to my fellow nominees. I'm honored to be in such terrific company.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

A Tasty Treat

I spent a lot of my teenage years working in kitchens, from fast food to fine dining, so I'm delighted that Wayne Allen Brenner of the Austin Chronicle included a passage of mine in his roundup of good food-based prose from fiction. Click through to give it—as well as terrific entries from the likes of Joe Ide, Kirsten Bakis, and Charlie Huston—a read... but maybe have a snack on hand when you do.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Numbers Game

Once upon a time, I was a scientist. A molecular biologist, to be exact. No, really. I wore a lab coat and everything. Trust me, it was very impressive. (Editor’s note: it wasn’t.)

Like many scientists, I’m more than passingly acquainted with statistics. I’m not saying I’m a wiz or anything, but I know enough to get by. When you spend half your time generating data and the other half analyzing it, a little number crunching is unavoidable.

The funny thing about numbers is, people take them as gospel, when in fact they can be manipulated in all sorts of ways—and for all sorts of reasons.

Eighteen months ago, the media went nuts over a World Health Organization report that classified bacon as a carcinogen. The statistic they latched onto was that eating bacon made you 18% likelier to develop colorectal cancer. Pretty terrifying, right?

Not really. See, your baseline risk of developing colorectal cancer is roughly 5%. 18% of 5% is 0.9%. So in reality, eating bacon raises your risk of colorectal cancer by less than one percent. (By comparison, a recent European study indicated that smoking increases the likelihood of contracting lung cancer from 0.2% to 24.4% for men, and from 0.4% to 18.5% for women.)

But wait! There’s more! The WHO's numbers were predicated upon consuming two slices of bacon a day. That’s 730 slices per year. If you eat 730 slices of bacon every year, colorectal cancer is probably the least of your concerns (but hey, I can’t blame you, because bacon).

It’s possible the media genuinely didn’t understand the data, but I suspect they didn’t care to. BACON CAUSES CANCER is a sexy headline, destined to go viral, because nothing’s clickbait-ier than scaring the shit out of people. Besides, everybody knows that bacon’s bad for you, so there’s no harm in encouraging people to eat a little less of it… right?

Maybe, although I’d argue responsible reportage is an end in itself. And sometimes, misleading statistics are used for more nefarious purposes than simply generating clicks.

Last November, after a robust debate, Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana. The vote was fairly close, but the result was upheld after a recount challenge.

Yesterday, the Portland Press Herald ran an op-ed piece by Scott M. Gagnon, the head of the anti-legalization group No On 1. In it, Gagnon claimed that “half of Maine voters voted No on Question 1. The majority of municipalities in Maine had a majority of voters vote No on Question 1.”

The first of those assertions is incorrect. The second, while technically correct, is dangerously misleading.

Wrong though it is, I’m inclined to give Gagnon a pass on that first one. 50.26% of Mainers who voted cast their ballots for legalization; 49.74% voted against. While I’d point out that 49.74% is less than half (a conclusion borne out by the fact that recreational marijuana is now legal in Maine), I’ll concede we’re splitting hairs.

His second assertion is where I have a problem. “The majority of municipalities in Maine had a majority of voters vote No.” Quite the rhetorical loop-de-loop, isn’t it? And it sure sounds impressive. Like most Mainers agree. Like the municipalities that supported legalization were crazy outliers, easily discounted.

The problem is, those crazy outliers are the most populous municipalities in the state. Otherwise known as cities. Maine is reportedly one of the whitest states in the union (as of 2007, only Vermont is whiter). You wanna guess where most of our minorities live?

Just kidding. This post trucks in facts, not guesswork. According to a 2014 report, 70% of Maine’s minorities live in four of sixteen counties, which also happen to contain Maine’s ten largest municipalities, and twenty-two of its largest twenty-five. (You can see how those municipalities voted on marijuana legalization here.)

You might wonder why that matters. According to a 2013 ACLU report, "Blacks are twice as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in Maine, despite the fact that they use marijuana at the same rates.” In York County (one of the four mentioned above), that number jumps to five times as likely, which is higher than the national average. So, by discounting or diminishing the urban vote, you’re effectively ignoring the people most likely to be affected by the ballot measure.

Simply put, Gagnon’s argument is misleading at best, and racist at worst. I’m not suggesting that Gagnon himself is racist; I don’t know the man, although we interacted on Twitter when I brought my concerns about his claims to his attention. For what it’s worth, I believe he’s sincere in his convictions, and working in what he thinks are Maine’s best interests. But by deemphasizing urban voters, he’s discounting the opinions of Maine’s minorities (not to mention the majority of Mainers) and cultivating an ugly us-against-them mentality that pits rural Mainers against those of us who live in (what, in Maine, passes for) cities. (I say what passes for because I live in one of 'em, and my house has dirt roads on either side.)

Maybe Gagnon never intended to deemphasize the urban vote. Maybe he was simply trying to cast his campaign’s narrow loss in a more favorable light. But this issue is larger than one op-ed piece in one newspaper. You need only to watch John Oliver’s recent segment on gerrymandering or read up on why a vote for president in Wyoming carries as much weight as four in New York to realize this bias is as endemic as it is insidious.

So what’s the solution? I don’t know. But questioning dubious claims—and learning to recognize when we’re being manipulated—seems like a good start.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Appearance: Noir at the Bar, 4/2

Noir at the Bar is exactly what it sounds like. A bunch of crime writers reading their darkest, funniest, and/or punchiest stuff in a dimly lit room that smells vaguely of beer.

Looser and more freewheeling than a bookstore reading (have I mentioned there's beer?), it also happens to be a worldwide phenomenon. You don't have to take my word for it. Keith Rawson assembled an oral history of the event for LitReactor a few years back. Jen Conley wrote a terrific piece about it for the Los Angeles Review of Books. And just this week, the first Noir at the Bar Australia took place in Melbourne.

I've participated in Noir at the Bars (Noirs at the Bar?) in locales as far flung as Boston and Long Beach. This Sunday, April 2nd, I'm delighted to be reading at one in my adopted hometown of Portland, Maine, alongside some of the finest crime writers New England has to offer.

Wanna come? We'll be at Bull Feeney's at 375 Fore Street from 3PM to 5PM. Admission's free. Kelly's Books to Go will be on hand if you feel like taking something home with you. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Plattsburgh's Press-Republican Reviews RED RIGHT HAND

Thomas Grant Bruso, book reviewer for the Plattsburgh-based Press-Republican, had this to say about RED RIGHT HAND in today's issue:
"A high-octane, fast-moving read... The writing is taut, teasing and terrific, and the mind-blowing plotlines will keep readers engaged, turning pages as fast as the affairs unfold."
Thanks, Thomas! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm always delighted to get reviews from Upstate New York publications, since that's where I grew up*. Believe you me, readers, it doesn't get much more upstate than Plattsburgh.

*According to city-folk, at least. The people I grew up with are way likelier to say "Central New York."

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Maine Crime Wave 2017

New Englanders: On Saturday, April 22, join me, Tess Gerritsen, Gayle Lynds, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, and many more at Maine Crime Wave!

I'll be participating in a couple panel discussions (including one on querying that features agent Ann Collette) and leading a craft session on writing gripping scenes. The lovely and talented Katrina Niidas Holm (who, okay, I'm married to, but who also happens to review for Kirkus Reviews, Mystery Scene Magazine, and Publishers Weekly) will be moderating a discussion between Tess Gerritsen and her agent, Meg Ruley. And interested attendees will get the opportunity to read aloud two minutes of their own work! (I would've killed for an experience like that when I was starting out. And, as far as you know, did.)

That's a whole lot of awesome for one day. Don't miss out. Register now!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Casting the Pod

Not long ago, I chatted with Harry Marks for his Covered podcast. Today, that episode went live. Click through to give it a listen!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Give a Little, Get a Little

Fair warning: This is a political post. If you enjoy my writing but have no interest in engaging with me on that level, kindly navigate away.

If you're still reading because you're not yet sure which way I lean politically, take a moment to peruse my Twitter feed. If you and I aren't ideologically aligned, kindly navigate away, and feel free to direct any all-caps rants about how you plan to return, throw out, or burn my books to idontcare[at]nofucksgiven[dot]com.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Scene of the Crime

On Monday, January 30th, Portland Stage is doing something pretty cool: they're putting on staged readings of works from several local crime writers. The folks they've invited to participate are a talented bunch. Gerry Boyle. Brenda Buchanan. Paul Doiron. Julia Spencer-Fleming. And, uh, yours truly.

They asked us each for several excerpts from our novels that might play well on stage. I couldn't resist sending along a couple short stories too. I thought it'd be a kick to see one performed in its entirety. Apparently, the fine folks at Portland Stage agreed, because in addition to killer excerpts from Gerry, Brenda, Paul, and Julia, they'll be tackling my darkly comic short "Eight Pounds," which first appeared in Thuglit in '09.

The event is open to the public and pay-what-you-can (I understand $10 is pretty standard). A complimentary wine and beer reception kicks off at 6:30PM. Performances begin at 7:00PM. If you'd like more details, you can check out the event page here. Hope to see you there!

EDITED TO ADD: Bob Keyes was kind enough to write a piece highlighting this event for Maine Today. You can read it here.