My partner in crime, Charlie Cale, are considered the mystery guys. With inventory managers Raul Chapa and Allison Laubach; buyer, Elizabeth Jordan; and floor manager and all-around papa bear Bryan Sansone, we’ve turned our section into Austin’s defacto mystery bookstore with more niche books genre aficionados can discover. There’s The Dark Alley display dedicated to hardboiled noir (my favorite), and two book clubs The 7% Solution (general mystery) and The Hard Word, dedicated to the tough stuff. This summer we’ll have authors like Craig Johnson, C.J. Box, Megan Abbott, Joe R. Lansdale, and Karen Slaughter, making in store appearances.
BFP: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Outside the genre, Elmer Kelton is probably my favorite western writer and is much more than that and I’m blown away by Richard Matheson’s craftsmanship and subtle depth in no matter what he wrote.
SM: The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, and Round Midnight, a film about American jazz musicians in 1958 Paris, and most of whatever Clint Eastwood is associated with, especially The Outlaw Josey Wales. As far as crime films go, Chinatown, Murder My Sweet, Heat, L.A. Confidential, Asphalt Jungle, and anything directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, or starring Robert Mitchum or Charles McGraw, a guy that sounded as tough as he looked. Basically, if anything wasn’t put on film after 1980, I’d survive.
TV would be Veronica Mars, The Wire, The Rockford Files, and even though it hurts my “guy cred," Gilmore Girls (the dialogue's great and Lauren Graham’s hot... that’s the story I’m sticking with).
SM: My perfect crime novel delivers all of the standards in the genre presented in a fresh way with strong mood and dialogue, a look into social or human conditions with no pat answers, and a strong emotional pull. I think I just described every Dennis Lehane novel.
SM: I believe in giving an author all the time he needs to deliver the best book, since I have hundreds of books to read in my to-read pile with more coming in. That said, I wish there were more James Crumley books.
SM: Crumley. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him a couple of years before his passing. By then, he was the aged lion who just wanted to hold court at whatever bar and entertain and be entertained by those around him. He had little tolerance for B.S. and sycophants. It was always comfortable to be around him, but it was always an adventure. You’d think about this character you’d hang out with, then read one of his books and be floored by a single sentence. What Hunter Thompson did with journalism and Peckinpah did with film, he did with the PI novel. Hopefully that’s what he’ll be remembered for, the books.
SM: Jeff Shelby’s Killer Swell and Wicked Break about part time PI and full-time surfer, Noah Braddock. They move at a furious pace, with great action and humor, so fast you don’t notice the depth of the them. L.J. (Livia) Washburn’s Lucas Hallam series, that deals with a former cowboy and Pinkerton agent, that works as PI between stuntman gigs in Twenties Hollywood.
The one that bothers me the most are the three John Van Horn novels written by Edward Wright. They concern a blackballed B-movie cowboy in the postwar L.A., who works as a collector for a casino owned by the actor who played his Indian sidekick. They are rich in lines like “the air was mixed with dust and regret” and strong humor, humanity, and style. The first book, Clea’s Moon, was as good as it gets, then each following books doubled in quality. It should be considered a considered a cultural crime that the last book, Red Sky Lament, that deals with the McCarthy era and draws modern parallels, is not in print in the U.S. Luckily he has a UK publisher for this series.
SM: James Ellroy’s third book in the “tabloid trilogy”, the U.S. debut of Jason Starr’s Fake I.D. [out this month from Hard Case Crime!], and Swierzcynski’s Breakneck that he said was about, infidelity, car chases, and the end of the world. Two of my favorites, Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen will have a book out this fall. What intrigues me even more about it (Tower) is that Allan Guthrie’s the editor. That’s having the craziest person run the asylum.
SM: Clyde W. Ford has two books, The Long Mile and Deuces Wild, about a former New York cop and ex-con that works for a branch of Homeland Security. Ford uses his expertise in world mythology, tying it to hardboiled fiction and the modern world, dealing with a human hero caught between warring powerbrokers and story tellers as he tries to connect with his estranged son. If that’s not enough, he writes a hell of an action scene.