Introducing “Crime Candy” by Jen Marshall (see give-away at bottom)

Stephen King’s semi-regular column in Entertainment Weekly, “The Pop of King,” is something I look forward to. He’s funny, irreverent, and at the same time deeply serious about his entertainment. Doesn’t matter if he’s talking movies, music, or books, he expects to be on the edge of his seat, lost in the moment, and up all night. Me too. For crime fiction, anyway. And yet sometimes a crime novel of that caliber seems harder to find than a butterfly in January. Flat dialogue, couldn’t-care-less plots, and clichéd endings abound. Seriously, why does anyone think it’s a good idea to end a crime novel with an abandoned warehouse, a couple of guns, and a showdown between the hunter and the hunted anymore?

In his May 13 column Mr. King recommended seven summer reads. And while he’ll never convince me that Jodi Picoult is a supremely talented writer, I am interested in any crime novel that he thinks is terrific. After all, the man has had an original thought or hundred about dark deeds of every stripe. (Though this does not mean his picks are infallible—he was, in my opinion, abysmally wrong about The Garden of Last Days.) So I picked up Shattered by Michael Robotham two days ago. It more than meets the bar.

In fact, if you like top-shelf police procedurals at all, especially English ones, run to the bookstore and then cancel your appointments for the next twenty-four hours. Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is trying, with the help of one of the most excellently imagined Detective Inspectors to grace recent fiction—Veronica Cray, who wears men’s shoes and likes French knickers—to outsmart an equally well-written killer, the super-scary, grimly pathetic Gideon Tyler. Tyler is such a convincingly reasoned villain that Robotham will have you wondering if this story is actually fiction. He does say in an author’s note that the novel is inspired by true events in two different countries but not based on either. What??! I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to know the details on that. Send us a note and if you are interested too, we’ll ask the author about it and report back here. And more good news for readers – Robotham has a backlist. Few things make me happier than finishing a bang-up, truly great crime novel and discovering that the author has a backlist, preferably a long one.

Check out Robotham’s previous novel, The Night Ferry. It’s about a 29-year-old Detective named Alicia Barba investigating the suspicious death of Cate, her best friend from high school. They’ve been estranged for years when a pregnant Cate shows up unexpectedly at a party Alicia is attending, begging her for help because someone is trying to take her baby. Minutes later Cate is killed in what looks like a freak accident. A secret is revealed and the game is on. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. And the crime in it is particularly interesting, one possible in only a short window of our time—say roughly 1995-2005, give or take a few years. Those who avidly read the science pages as well as crime blotters will note that this crime would be much less likely to occur in 2009. If you’ve already read this entertaining novel and want to know exactly what I’m talking about, click here . Which side of the argument do you think Robotham is on? On another topic, I’m looking—as always!—to add to my pile of thrilling reads. The first five people to post and let me know what your current favorite crime novel is and why will get a free copy of The Night Ferry.

Jen Marshall is a crime fiction fan and publicist at Vintage and Anchor Books. Her blog posts are called CrimeCandy because having access to a room full of Vintage Crime / Black Lizard titles is truly like being a kid in a candy store. An amazing perk that never, ever loses its shine.

14 thoughts on “Introducing “Crime Candy” by Jen Marshall (see give-away at bottom)

  1. My current favorite crime novel is The Girl with The Dragon tattoo!
    I enjoy the aspect of the crime that goes unsolved for many years and then the crime is reinvestigated from a fresh perspective. This is what begins the search into the disappearance of Harriet, the fab niece a rich and powerful man . All the relatives are suspect and a total outsider is hired under the guise of writing a family history. Lots of twists &turns on the plot, a bit of romance and a bizarre and wonderful character named Lisbeth Sanders,hacker & loner steals the show ….. It’s the first in a trilogy. I had to keep turning the pages!

    • Thanks for commenting, Suzanne! Send us ( your mailing address and we’ll post a copy of THE NIGHT FERRY your way!

    • Suzanne — I am totally obsessed with Stieg Larsson’s trilogy. In fact, the next one (book 2) THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, is actually better than THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. I know, doesn’t seem possible because book one was so freaking good!!! But book two is hands down one of the best crime novels I have ever read. Maybe parts of Denise Mina’s Garnet Hill trilogy are better, maybe not. I finished it and wanted to learn Swedish yesterday so I could be reading the next one already. My sources in Sweden say book 3 is not as good as book 2 but I get that. Not sure how book 2 can be topped. And if book 3 is “only” as good as book 1, well, I’ll survive. Hopefully we’ll have galleys this fall. I can’t wait. Did you send in your address so you can get a copy of THE NIGHT FERRY? Please do! We’re at

      Thanks for your comment! Keep the mystery recs coming. I hate thinking there is a Mina or Stieg out there that I’m just not reading!!!


  2. It’s so hard to pick one, but I’m currently re-reading Careless in Red by Elizabeth George. I sped through it when it first came out because it was a library fast read. This time around I’m taking it leisurely, sharing Lynley’s grief and marveling as always at George’s ability at characterization.

    Crime Candy looks like it’s going to be a great feature here.

    • Hmmm…I’ve always wondered about Elizabeth George. She’s been recommended to me before. But I couldn’t decide if she was a P.D. James type (and I adore P.D. James) or the sort of English quasi-cozy writer who serves up tea and cunning kitties in equal measure to the crime. Which book should I begin with? With James, you can just dip in and enjoy the hell out of Inspector Dalgliesh (who, naturally, is as hot as he is good at cracking the case) but not all series are like that. You too need to send in your address to to get your book!


  3. This Crime Candy is tasty! Jen, I loved The Garden of Last Days. The reviewers kept throwing out the spoilers and giving away the 9/11 subplot but I didn’t care. I loved it. I interviewed Andre Dubus III when it came out in paper a couple of weeks ago. What a thoughtful and articulate man he is. What can I say? And I never agree with Michiko…

    My fave crime fiction at the moment? I just finished Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child. Now I understand why that book just entered the New York Times fiction list at #1. Wow! A bit violent, yes, but Lee Child knows how to draw you in and his dark warrior Jack Reacher is one serious crime fighter. I finished it during a raging thunderstorm and that was quite appropriate.

    I’ll plug Crime Candy on my blog.

    • Well I know where to find you, Vick! THE NIGHT FERRY is on the way. Plus any other goodies you want from us. Just let me know.

      Maybe if I approached THE GARDEN OF LAST DAYS as “just” a literary novel rather that something that Stephen King himself promised would scare the bejesus out of me, I would have loved it. Dubus III is a fantastically talented writer. Not to mention a totally stand-up guy. Really one of the kindest, most generous authors I’ve ever had the honor of working with. But I still wasn’t afraid of the terrorist.

      I have to get my hands on GONE TOMORROW after that rec. Sounds addictive.

  4. Any of the Carol O’Connell’s books would be my suggestions. She has written two stand alones (“Judas Child” and her most recent “Bone by Bone”). Her Kathy Mallory series starts with “Mallory’s Oracle.” Mallory, as the police detective prefers to be called, is unlike most women sleuths. She is a loner with a mysterious background which does unfold through out successive volumes. I always look jump at the chance to read an O’Connell mystery.

  5. Loved Child 44. Everytime I thought I knew where the story was heading, a slight twist was introduced. Brief taste of life in Stalinist Russia and some of the horrors the people lived (or should I say survived). Depressing and uplifting at the same time.

    • I want to read Child 44 too! I like hearing that the twists were effective. That’s very hard to pull off. I tip my hat to any writer who can do it. I can’t stop trying to figure it out from page one, can you? Send us your address —–and we’ll send a book.


  6. My perfect summer read at the moment is “Chasin’ the WInd” by Michael Haskins. Set in Key West,“Mad Mick” Murphy, a journalist, is faced with the corrupt politics and pathos that can only be found in the Southernmost City of the United States. It is Michael’s first novel and I think he hit a home run. I live in Key West and many of the colorful characters he paints, I suspect, are actual people living here. Of course, this is a work of fiction. Now, in the interest of total disclosure, Michael is a great friend of mine. However, that aside Chasin’ The Wind is truly a fun ride, although I can’t do it justice here. You should really pick it up.

    • I will look at this, if only because I’ve been mired in the U.K. for a looong time (and happily so–why are the Brits etc so good at crime?! Whatever. I’m glad they are.). But just yesterday I said to myself that I needed to read some American crime writers to change things up a bit. And Key West could be an excellent place to start.


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