Mulholland Books http://www.mulhollandbooks.com You never know what's coming around the curve Tue, 18 Aug 2015 21:41:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Kermit Roosevelt on America’s History of Illegal Detention http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/08/18/kermit-roosevelt-on-americas-history-of-illegal-detention/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/08/18/kermit-roosevelt-on-americas-history-of-illegal-detention/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 18:35:47 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3263 The post Kermit Roosevelt on America’s History of Illegal Detention appeared first on Mulholland Books.

We look to the past to understand the present. In 2007, when newspapers highlighted the illegal detentions at Guantanamo and the extent of federal authority in wartime, author Kermit Roosevelt thought back to World War II—specifically, the internment of Japanese-Americans on American soil. This dark period of our country’s history informs Allegiance, Roosevelt’s sophisticated legal thriller, […]

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Allegiance by Kermit RooseveltWe look to the past to understand the present. In 2007, when newspapers highlighted the illegal detentions at Guantanamo and the extent of federal authority in wartime, author Kermit Roosevelt thought back to World War II—specifically, the internment of Japanese-Americans on American soil. This dark period of our country’s history informs Allegiance, Roosevelt’s sophisticated legal thriller, which lands in bookstore on August 25th. How could our government have supported illegal detentions not once, but twice? Read on for Roosevelt’s take.

In 2007, two years after the publication of my first novel (In the Shadow of the Law), my editor said to me that he wanted my next one to be set in the Supreme Court. I told him I wasn’t sure I could do it. I’d love to write about the Court, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was revealing secrets from my time working there. (I clerked for Justice Souter in 1999-2000, and he’s a very private person.) My editor said, “No problem! Set it ten years in the future when there are nine new Justices.”

That also seemed like an unpromising idea to me, because it would require me to invent nine new Justices and predict the pressing legal issues of a decade hence. I told my wife about the dilemma, and she had a simple answer: set it in the past.

And that seemed like a great idea. No one would think I was writing about the current Court, and instead of inventing nine new Justices I could just research them—something my day job as a law professor has made me quite familiar with. Also, of course, setting the novel in the past would let me scan the whole history of the Court for an era and a set of cases with relevance to the present day. So I started looking…

What I was thinking about in 2007 was the response to 9/11, and more particularly the Guantanamo detentions. I had just recently received a call from a tax lawyer (more on that later) asking me to serve as a constitutional law consultant on a Guantanamo case, and I’d accepted. So I wanted to write something about what we do in times of national insecurity.

The parallels, at a high level of generality, were obvious. There was a shocking attack, striking us in a way we didn’t think possible. There was a President expanding the power of the federal government, asserting he could do whatever was necessary to protect the nation. There were Supreme Court cases about the limits of governmental authority in wartime.

So I thought that mostly what I would be doing was taking these broad parallels and layering current concerns onto a roughly similar history. And I did some of that. I have Supreme Court Justices and other government figures as significant characters in the book. Much of their dialogue is true to life—I read biographies, autobiographies, diaries, and correspondence—but some of it is taken from recent events. “We should look forward, not back.” “We shouldn’t criminalize policy differences or condemn actions taken in good faith to protect the nation.” “You have to remember what it was like then.” “We feared another attack.” Those are contemporary lines about the CIA torture program, but they fit very easily into the mouths of people discussing the detention of Japanese-Americans. (That program, which uprooted over 100,000 mostly birthright citizens, ended up being a large part of Allegiance.)

What surprised me as I went deeper into the research and writing, though, was how precise the parallels were. Immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, a government lawyer named Karl Bendetsen spent several sleepless days writing memos about what the government could do in response, including the removal and detention program—just as John Yoo, in the Office of Legal Counsel, spent the days after 9/11 writing memos analyzing Guantanamo detention and interrogation techniques. When President Bush issued an executive order creating military tribunals to try terrorism suspects (which the Supreme Court would eventually hold unconstitutional), he copied, word for word, an executive order from Franklin Roosevelt creating a military tribunal to try eight Nazi saboteurs who had come ashore from submarines on the East Coast in the summer of 1942. When Roosevelt gave those saboteurs military lawyers to defend them before that tribunal, he gave them tax experts, thinking, no doubt, that tax lawyers would be unsuited to courtroom defense. And when the Bush administration began planning for the trials of terrorism suspects, it again took a page from FDR’s playbook. It activated tax lawyer reservists to serve as defense counsel—that’s why the call I fielded in 2007 came from a tax lawyer. (A side note: both the Roosevelt and the Bush administrations seem to have underestimated the defense lawyers, who proved both capable and devoted to their task.)

There was also, in both cases, a substantial amount of dissent within the government—internal opposition to Guantanamo detention and torture, in the post-9/11 world, and opposition to the removal and detention program in World War II. Relatedly, there were struggles over the litigation of Supreme Court cases—and in both cases, questionable conduct by the government in making its case to the Court. In 1944, government lawyers presented to the Court claims of disloyal behavior by Japanese-Americans—signal lights to Japanese submarines and shore-to-ship radio transmissions—that they knew were false. In 2004, when the government argued that no judicial supervision of the detention of terrorism suspects was needed, Justice Ginsburg asked a question about the possibility of abuse: “Suppose the executive says, mild torture, we think, will help get this information. Some systems do that to get information.” Assistant Solicitor General Paul Clement responded promptly. “Our executive doesn’t.”

The parallels are interesting in their own right, but the big question is why they exist. Why do we do similar things over and over again? That’s what I was trying to explore in the novel. I tried to get at those questions by telling the story of someone who starts out very trusting—an insider, someone who has nothing to fear from the government and can’t imagine it would do wrong—and comes to doubt everything he’s assumed. My hero, my narrator, is a guy from Philadelphia named Cash Harrison. He’s in law school when Pearl Harbor is attacked; he wants to join up, but he fails the physical. Then he gets a chance to clerk for Justice Hugo Black on the Supreme Court, and he goes to Washington. He’s clerking during one of the Japanese American internment cases, and then when his clerkship ends he stays in DC and works for the Justice Department. That’s in order to unravel a mystery, which is my non-factual thriller plot. (My legal plot is on the whole scrupulously historically accurate.) He ends up representing the government and defending the detention program before the Supreme Court. And he starts having doubts about what he’s doing.

The developmental process I was trying to show there was in part the process of disillusionment with the government, which is something I went through myself in the years after 9/11. But perhaps more importantly, it’s the growth of empathy: the expansion of the set of people who are considered worth caring about, the people who count. FDR’s Attorney General Francis Biddle used the phrase “the compass of sympathy”—he said, “My mother raised me to be gallant, which to her meant protecting one’s people. I hope to have enlarged the compass of my sympathy.” (I liked that phrase so much I considered it as the title for the novel, but eventually Allegiance won out.) The growth of empathy is important because what goes wrong in times of national insecurity is a failure of empathy, a failure to count people’s interests equally. With respect to the internment, the government’s position was that most of the detainees were doubtless loyal. But some might not be, and it was impossible to sort the loyal from the disloyal, so it was reasonable to send them all away. That was a hardship for the loyal people, but it was worth it.

It was worth it, that is, in terms of balancing the burden on the innocents against the benefit to America in terms of increasing the security of the West Coast. Now, one problem with that calculus was that it overestimated the benefit—there really wasn’t a problem of disloyalty, so the security gain was illusory. But there was also a problem in underestimating the burden—or rather, discounting it because they didn’t care about the Japanese American population, these people who seemed so different. Had we been talking about Italian-Americans, or German-Americans, the balancing would have come out differently, as of course it did: there was no mass detention of those populations.

Put this way, the internment decision has the form of a basic moral dilemma: when is it okay to hurt some people to help others? Rereading Allegiance recently, I saw that one thing I was doing was running that question over and over in different situations. It has different answers in different circumstances, and it’s not always clear what’s the right one. But one thing is constant: you get it wrong if you don’t care about the people you’re hurting.

Kermit Roosevelt is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a former Supreme Court clerk. His first novel, In the Shadow of the Law, was a national campus bestseller, won the Philadelphia Athenaeum Literary Award, and was selected as a Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year. He is the great-great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.

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An Excerpt from Crooked by Austin Grossman http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/07/28/excerpt-crooked-austin-grossman-nixon/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/07/28/excerpt-crooked-austin-grossman-nixon/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:23:44 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3258 The post An Excerpt from Crooked by Austin Grossman appeared first on Mulholland Books.

With the publication of his new novel, Crooked, Austin Grossman gives Richard Nixon the chance to finally set the record straight about his presidency, the Cold War, Watergate, and even our starry-eyed notions about the Founding Fathers. This dazzling confession has been called “captivating” by Entertainment Weekly and “a cantering hodgepodge of American history, black […]

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Crooked by Austin GrossmanWith the publication of his new novel, Crooked, Austin Grossman gives Richard Nixon the chance to finally set the record straight about his presidency, the Cold War, Watergate, and even our starry-eyed notions about the Founding Fathers. This dazzling confession has been called “captivating” by Entertainment Weekly and “a cantering hodgepodge of American history, black magic and political satire” by the Washington Post. Below is a snippet from Crooked in which Grossman sets us straight about our country’s origin story.

Everyone thinks of the Enlightenment as the end of superstition, the breakdown of religion and magic and the beginning of a new and rational order. The United States is the standard-bearer of that order, a nation founded not on superstitions about bloodlines and myths of swords in stones but on sound civic principles and contracts rationally entered into.

Everyone is wrong. The dawn of modernity wasn’t the end of enchantment, only the beginning of a new and more terrible one. The Plymouth elders made a bargain and brought forth nothing less than a new American sorcery, the casting of a vast invisible spell great enough to bind the darkness of the New World. The settlers lived, and prospered, and over time their work was given the name by which we now know it—the Constitution, the thing that opened the way for the master enchanters of the nineteenth century, Lincoln and Whitman, and for the obscene magical forces that would one day push us all the way to the Pacific.

The Pilgrims’ bargain bought them a continent, and we were the inheritors of a contract bound into our land and our nation and infused again and again into the flesh of its principal executive, the president of the United States.

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An Excerpt from White Crocodile by K. T. Medina http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/06/30/an-excerpt-from-white-crocodile-by-k-t-medina/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/06/30/an-excerpt-from-white-crocodile-by-k-t-medina/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:04:37 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3246 The post An Excerpt from White Crocodile by K. T. Medina appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Tess Hardy thought she had put Luke, her violent ex-husband, firmly in her past. Then he calls from Cambodia, where he is working as a mine-clearer, and there’s something in his voice she hasn’t heard before: Fear. Two weeks later, he’s dead. Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Battambang to solve the mystery […]

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White Crocodile by K.T. MedinaTess Hardy thought she had put Luke, her violent ex-husband, firmly in her past. Then he calls from Cambodia, where he is working as a mine-clearer, and there’s something in his voice she hasn’t heard before: Fear. Two weeks later, he’s dead. Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Battambang to solve the mystery of Luke’s sudden death, but what she discovers there is an entire network of secrecy, terror, and lies. Below is the scene in which Tess learns about the White Crocodile.

The sign was a square of painted wood nailed to a post at the edge of the minefield, hanging crooked, as if it had been hurriedly tacked up. The stick figure of a reptile daubed on a black background. Needle-sharp teeth, a splash for an eye.

Tess realised that her hands were tattooing a rhythm against her thighs. Curling them into fists, she jammed them into her pockets. There was something written in Khmer beneath the drawing. She couldn’t read it. But she knew what the thing meant.

‘White Crocodile minefield.’ A Khmer in mine-clearance fatigues was standing watching her, his flat brown face expressionless. ‘You heard about the White Crocodile?’

Tess shook her head, and thought back six months to an English spring morning: trailing a hand along the sleek lines of a young man’s coffin.

‘No.’ She was surprised at how steady her voice was. ‘What’s the White Crocodile?’

The Khmer slotted some betel nut into his mouth, his saliva reddening as he chewed. ‘It come to Cambodia at time of important change. Present at birth of Cambodia. When Khmer Rouge took country, White Crocodile seen. This minefield.’ He gestured towards the red-and-white warning tape. ‘When this minefield found, White Crocodile here.’ He stared past her, out across the spoiled fields. ‘Seen here.’

‘So it represents fate, does it? Is that what people in Cambodia think?’

The mine clearer levelled his gaze at hers; he hadn’t understood.

‘Fate,’ she repeated. ‘Something that is meant to be. Something that you can’t change whatever you do.’

‘Bhat.’ Sudden understanding lent a gleam to his dark eyes. ‘Fate. The White Crocodile is fate.’

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Joe Lansdale on How He Came to Write Paradise Sky http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/06/15/joe-lansdale-origins-paradise-sky/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/06/15/joe-lansdale-origins-paradise-sky/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 13:58:02 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3089 The post Joe Lansdale on How He Came to Write Paradise Sky appeared first on Mulholland Books.

In the late 1970’s, I became intrigued with nonfiction material I read about black cowboys and soldiers in the Old West. I was surprised to find that their contribution to the West was much larger than I had been led to believe by general history books, Western novels, and films over the years. The reason […]

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Paradise Sky by Joe R. LansdaleIn the late 1970’s, I became intrigued with nonfiction material I read about black cowboys and soldiers in the Old West. I was surprised to find that their contribution to the West was much larger than I had been led to believe by general history books, Western novels, and films over the years. The reason for this is painful but real: Racism had hidden their contribution. The information was there, and in abundance, but it hadn’t been properly mined. A full quarter or more of the cowboys in the Old West had been black or of color. You didn’t see this in Westerns. Blacks were always maids and cooks in novels and film, if they were represented at all.

Most of the material about their lives and times in the West, was nonfiction. John Ford had touched on it in a safe way in his film Sergeant Rutledge. Still, on the posters the main star was Jeffery Hunter, not the black actor, Woody Strode, who played the title character. There were a few novels about blacks in the West, but I didn’t encounter any that were epic. I was thinking of writing one in the vein of Wild Times by Brian Garfield, Little Big Man by Thomas Berger, The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie, Jr., or The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor. I wanted to write about the real black experience in the West, and at the same time, make it larger than life. I had also read an autobiography about Western life by a black cowboy named Nat Love. Nat Love’s experiences were no doubt influenced by the dime novels of his era, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt, but his story was epic, and it was clear he knew his business when it came to being a cowboy. He knew the world of his time, and was able to express it in such a way as to put you there. It was the kind of book I wanted to write. Better yet, it was a book by an actual black cowboy. He was doing the same thing that many white Westerners had done. He was “stretching the blanket,” as they used to say, taking kernels of truth and turning them into a kind of hybrid product that housed both reality and dadburn lies. He claimed to have acquired the nickname Deadwood Dick due to a shooting match he won in old Deadwood, and he also claimed the dime novels about Deadwood Dick, the Black Rider of the Plains, were based on him. No doubt they were not, but this was a kind of wish fulfillment for Nat, so he took his life and welded it to the Wild West tale. Unlike so many dime novel heroes, Nat’s adventures seemed real.

Ned BuntlineThis inspired me more than any of the books I read about the black experience. I had the real material in hand, but I loved the way Nat told a story. I wanted my novel to be almost mythic. I was eleven years old when I first read the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, and I had already devoured all the Greek myths. That grand sweep, the epic adventures of gods and heroes, hit me hard. I think for years I was trying to find a novel-length outlet for a story about the black experience in the West that could be mythic, or legendary, and when I was in my late twenties the idea of tying it to a realistic background was the way I decided I wanted to go. More real than myth, and instead of Greek-style mythology, I chose the voice of the frontiersman, as it was expressed by Nat Love and in dime novels. I read a large number of the Buffalo Bill novels by Ned Buntline, and those by other authors about Jesse James, and other frontier heroes. I read Davy Crockett’s fictionalized biography (and boy was it), and that had a terrific impact on the way I wanted to tell a story. I decided I was going to write a novel titled The True Life Adventures of Deadwood Dick (still my preferred title).

I was all set. But my publisher at the time was not. I pitched the idea, but didn’t get the response I wanted. It seemed if I wanted to write a short novel about a black cowboy or soldier, I was in, but I knew it would be on bookstore shelves about as long as it takes a bald man to comb his hair. I wanted to write an epic, and I was hoping it would actually be promoted a bit, and that it would have an opportunity to get the proper attention. But I was told a novel about the black experience wouldn’t have readers. I was offended. I knew that what they meant was that whites didn’t want to read about black heroes, especially Western heroes, because the audience for Western novels were mostly white men, and that there weren’t enough black readers to care. I begged to differ and felt that either way, the novel should be written, and that the accomplishments of blacks in the West could be revealed, and that I could write a tale that was also fun and exciting in the same way Nat’s story had excited me.

The book was dead.

Black Hat Jack by Joe LansdaleTime went on, and then some more time went on, and I was yet to write my dream project. I feared I might never do it, and that the emotional window that allowed me to look out at the story and feel its presence, if not its form, might close. It had happened before. A few more years went by, and I decided I could at least write short stories about Nat Love, for I had borrowed the name of the writer who had so inspired me. I wrote two short stories about the character, and both were well received. I then pitched the book to my relatively new publisher, Mulholland, and my editor, Josh Kendall, jumped all over it. He didn’t hesitate, and once he said go, I was off to the races. I was a little worried that after so much time, I might have lost my feel for the character I had in mind, or the kind of story I wanted to tell, but soon I found I was writing quite rapidly. I wrote the first half of the novel in six weeks in Italy, most of it in an apartment in Rome. What a strange place to be writing a novel about the black experience in the Old West. I would write in the mornings, as I do at home, and then we would explore parts of Rome we hadn’t seen and visit friends we had made over the years. By the time I got home, I was starting to fade a bit, and a slight touch of panic set in. On a driving trip from East Texas to Santa Fe to visit George R.R. Martin and his very cool theater, the Jean Cocteau, I began writing a Nat Love novella. I wanted it to take place at Adobe Walls, where two famous battles between whites and Native Americans had taken place. I put Nat into that adventure, and my wife and I stopped off at the real Adobe Walls, and I tried to absorb how it must have been. A handful of Buffalo Hunters hidden behind walls of adobe with Quanah Parker, chief of the Comanche, outside, leading a horde of brave Comanche, Cheyenne, and Kiowa against them. I finished the novel by the time we had finished our visit with George and the showing of Christmas with the Dead at his theater—a film based on my short story of the same title, scripted by my son, directed by Lee Lankford, with music partly written by my daughter. Talk about a really nice time. The movie. George. And that novella, which became Black Hat Jack.

By the time I got home, I was cooking. I finished the second half of the novel quickly. It didn’t actually fit within the timeline of the Adobe Walls story, but Black Hat Jack and the trip to Adobe Walls and Santa Fe was like a dose of adrenaline. I briskly finished the novel, my longest to date. It was done, and I was overwhelmed by a feeling of accomplishment. A story that had been with me over thirty years, or at least the general idea, had finally been completed. Afterward, though I continued to work, I felt as if I had been dragged behind a truck wrapped in barbed wire. It took me over six months to really regain my normal energy. I completed projects during this time, but I was close to being depleted physically and emotionally. The story had been hidden so long, and so deep in my subconscious, I felt as if my shadow had been torn out of me. It had been one of the greatest and most satisfying experiences of my life. I felt a kind of vindication. I had done it. I had wanted to do it for a long time, but now, I had actually done it.

So Paradise Sky (in my mind forever titled The True Life Adventures of Deadwood Dick) is loose on the world. May it go out there and multiply in copies, and may the readers have as good a time reading it as I had writing it.

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Six Historical Murders That Would Make for Great Crime Fiction http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/05/28/best-true-crime-books/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/05/28/best-true-crime-books/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 00:34:47 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3222 The post Six Historical Murders That Would Make for Great Crime Fiction appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Thriller writers are always looking for inspiration, and what better source of crime than the annals of history? Author Andrea Maria Schenkel knows this better than most. Her new novel, Ice Cold, revisits a terrible crime that took place in 1930s Munich. Below, she does aspiring writers a favor by recounting six real-life murders that […]

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Thriller writers are always looking for inspiration, and what better source of crime than the annals of history? Author Andrea Maria Schenkel knows this better than most. Her new novel, Ice Cold, revisits a terrible crime that took place in 1930s Munich. Below, she does aspiring writers a favor by recounting six real-life murders that could inspire the best true crime books.

Wano De Grier Walsh

Wano De Grier Walsh and her husband, Edward DeWitt Walsh, were hosting a dinner party in Montclair, New Jersey in November 1903 when Mrs. Walsh suddenly reported feeling ill. Her husband carried her upstairs, and shortly after he returned, the sound of a handgun rang through the house. The guests and Mr. Walsh ran upstairs to find Mrs. Walsh dead—shot through the heart. While ruled a suicide, her death is surrounded by mystery. The New York Times reported that she had been “in excellent spirits all through the dinner and was quite the life of the little gathering.” Moreover, her death was not reported to police until two hours after the gunshot was heard.

ArnoldRothsteinArnold Rothstein

Rothstein was the mastermind behind the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal in which several players from the heavily favored Chicago White Sox took money from gamblers to intentionally throw games in the World Series. Nine years later, Rothstein was shot and mortally wounded at the Park Central Hotel in Manhattan. On his deathbed, he refused to identify his killer. A Rothstein-like character briefly appears in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” but a book-length fictional look at this early 20th-century gambler would undoubtedly be a grand slam.

MichaelStuhlbargThere is an eponymous character on the popular television show “Boardwalk Empire” nicknamed “The Big Bankroll”—based on the real Rothstein and played by Michael Stuhlbarg.

 

An engraving of James A. Garfield's assassination, published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

An engraving of James A. Garfield’s assassination, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

President James Garfield

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln has long been of interest to fiction and non-fiction writers alike. But the killing of the United States’s 20th president, James Garfield, offers ample material for a crime novel. The Ohio native, who served less than a year, was shot in early July of 1861 in the presence of his secretary of war—and Lincoln’s son—Robert Todd Lincoln. Garfield died two and a half months later, most likely due to poor medical treatment, and only after inventor Alexander Graham Bell worked feverishly to devise a metal detector in a futile attempt to locate the bullet.

 

Left: 1968 newspaper article about “Bible John” victim Patricia Docker. Right: Artist’s rendering of “Bible John”

Left: 1968 newspaper article about “Bible John” victim Patricia Docker. Right: Artist’s rendering of “Bible John”

“Bible John”

In the late 1960s, three women were murdered after spending the evening in Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom. The sister of one of the victims reported that a man seen with her sibling called himself “John” and quoted from the Bible, thus earning his nickname. As with Jack the Ripper in the 19th century, many have claimed the identity of “Bible John,” but the killings have never been solved.

 

Christa Lehmann

Christa Lehmann in court (Corbis)

Christa Lehmann in court (Corbis)

In the 1950s in southwestern Germany, Lehmann’s husband, who suffered from stomach ulcers, and father, who suffered from heart failure, appeared to die of natural causes about a year apart. The following year a friend of Lehmann’s died after ingesting liqueur-filled chocolate-covered mushrooms that Lehmann had brought home. When police discovered that the treat had been laced with poison, they exhumed the bodies of Lehmann’s spouse and father—whose bodies showed traces of the exact same toxic material. Given the police’s tardy discovery of these crimes, one wonders: whom else did Lehmann know, and did she kill them, too?

Hugo Betthauer and Otto Rothstock

HugoBetthauerWhat happens when a writer of numerous detective novels becomes the victim? Such was the fate of Hugo Betthauer, who was murdered in Vienna by a member of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in 1925. The motives of the killer, Otto Rothstock, remain unclear. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, three years earlier Betthauer penned “The City without Jews,” a satirical—but prophetic—look at anti-Semitism in the 1920s.

 

Andrea Maria Schenkel lives with her family near Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany. On publication in Germany, her first novel, The Murder Farm, won the German Crime Prize as well as the Friedrich-Glauser Prize. Her second novel, Ice Cold, will be published on June 2nd.

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An Excerpt from Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/05/26/an-excerpt-from-written-in-the-blood-by-stephen-lloyd-jones/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/05/26/an-excerpt-from-written-in-the-blood-by-stephen-lloyd-jones/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 19:57:54 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3221 The post An Excerpt from Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones appeared first on Mulholland Books.

You may remember Leah Wilde, the daughter of Hannah and Nate, from Stephen Lloyd Jones’s debut novel, The String Diaries. If you don’t, no matter—all you need to know is that Leah’s tribe of supernaturally long-lived people is dying out, and she won’t stand for it. In a desperate bid against extinction, Leah brings together […]

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Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd JonesYou may remember Leah Wilde, the daughter of Hannah and Nate, from Stephen Lloyd Jones’s debut novel, The String Diaries. If you don’t, no matter—all you need to know is that Leah’s tribe of supernaturally long-lived people is dying out, and she won’t stand for it. In a desperate bid against extinction, Leah brings together long-standing enemies, but her heroic actions have marked her as the most hunted young woman in the world. In the passage below from Written in the Blood, Leah learns more about the forces that threaten her.

Oxford, England

Leah Wilde arrived in Oxford, squeezing her hired Mercedes into a tight parking space outside a terraced row of town houses a few minutes’ walk from Balliol College.

It had been raining back in London, but the clouds had receded as she drove west, and now a red sun set fires blazing across the limestone façades of the buildings.

Professor Emeritus Patrick Beckett lived in a converted first-floor apartment in one of the Victorian houses along the terrace. Leah found his name beneath a bell and rang it. Moments later a device on the door clacked and its lock released. She let herself into a hallway that probably hadn’t seen a fresh coat of paint in thirty years.

An uneven floor of red and white tile was home to a collection of strangled umbrellas and a console table overflowing with curling telephone directories. To the left a staircase, covered by a frayed grey carpet, rose at a steep angle. Bolted to the wall beside it hung a newly installed stairlift, its red vinyl seat and smooth metal track a jarring counterpoint to the rest of the decor. Leah followed the stairs up and to the right, where she encountered a yellowing front door.

‘It’s open!’ The voice – high-pitched and wavering, hallmark of the very old – was the most cheerful Leah had heard in weeks. ‘I’m in the snug! Second door on the right! If you see a sheepish-looking cat out there you can throttle him for me. Wretched thing just peed on my foot.’

Leah pushed open the door into a hallway so piled with books that she had to shuffle through it sideways to avoid knocking over any of the stacks. It felt both incredibly claustrophobic and wonderfully homely all at once, although the smell, a cocktail of moth balls, cooked porridge oats, rancid cat litter and old books, made her nose wrinkle. A ginger cat stalked towards her, tail held high and eyes averted, as if offended by the accusation it had just endured.

She found the door to the snug, opened it, and from within heard a stack of papers collapse and fan out across the floor.

‘Don’t worry about that!’ cried the voice. ‘Come in, come in!’

Leah slid around the door, which had wedged itself rigid over the toppled pile, and entered the strangest little room she had ever seen. Precariously balanced stacks of reading material rose like papery stalagmites from the carpet. Old maps hung from the walls, along with a collection of what looked like English Civil War weaponry. A rusting unicycle leaned in one corner, next to a set of dust-caked juggling balls and skittles. A black and white television perched on a table, an old VHS player balanced on top. The mantelpiece held a Gurkha knife, a Newton’s cradle, a sepia photograph of a fierce-looking woman and a row of Japanese puzzle boxes.

Patrick Beckett sat in an easy chair by the window, his feet propped up on a cowhide pouffe. Despite the ramshackle state of his apartment, the old professor was dressed smartly, in tweed blazer and open-necked shirt. In fact, Leah noted, the only element of his attire that seemed incongruous was the pair of bright pink leg warmers covering his trousers from ankle to knee.

Beckett looked painfully thin, but she did not believe age had done that to him. From what her grandfather had told her of the man, the professor had always displayed a bird-like intensity, mind flitting from subject to subject, body as restless as his thoughts. On the way here, she had calculated that he must be in his late eighties by now; she wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at him.

Beckett followed the direction of her gaze, appearing to notice his woollen accoutrements for the first time. His mouth fell open. ‘Ah. Aha! Probably looks a bit daft, come to think of it. But they’re just the ticket. Better than throwing away money on gas, wouldn’t you say? These old buildings, the heat just escapes through the walls. Sorry about the mess. If I’d known you were coming, I would have tidied up a bit.’

He raised eyebrows like two glorious white hamsters clinging to his forehead. ‘Actually, I did know you were coming. It’s Leah, isn’t it? Leah Wilde, that’s right. My word, I can see Charles in your face as clear as Jupiter.’ Beckett frowned, scratched his head. ‘You’re a good deal prettier, I should add – nothing masculine about you at all, that’s not what I meant. I’m very pleased to meet you. Can I ask, did you happen to bring along . . .’

Grinning, Leah unzipped her bag, pulling out the supplies he had requested over the phone. ‘One pork pie,’ she said. ‘Yes, I checked, and the pastry’s crisp, not soft, just as you specified. One bottle of HP sauce. Four cans of Courage bitter.’

Beckett’s eyes shone. ‘Fine work, Leah. Tremendous. Look, I’d get up, but if you wouldn’t mind.’

‘Where’s your kitchen?’

‘Right, yes. Back through there on the left, you’ll see it. And I hate to ask, but when you pop the pie on a plate, could you quarter it? Help yourself to anything you find in the fridge. I think there’s some milk somewhere. Check the date on it first.’

By the time Leah had cut up Beckett’s pie, poured a beer and made herself a cup of tea using the milk she had brought rather than the carton of what resembled cottage cheese lurking inside his fridge, dusk had surrendered to night.

Beckett wasn’t exaggerating about the house. When the wind blew, a draught whispered through his apartment, lifting the curtains she had closed against the darkness. At his urging, she lit a single plate on the gas fire and switched on a lamp in one corner. Sinking into a sofa thick with cat hair, Leah warmed her hands around her mug of tea as Beckett busied himself with pie and beer.

‘So,’ he said, spraying crumbs into his lap, ‘Now that you’re here, maybe you can help solve a mystery that’s been puzzling me for the better part of thirty years.’

‘If I can.’

‘All those years Charles and I were friends, good friends at that, and then one day . . . just gone. Completely disappeared. His wife, too. And his daughter – your mother, I mean. I always thought, for years and years, that he’d get in touch. But I never saw him again, never heard from him. Police couldn’t work out what happened. Or if they did, they certainly never told me.’ The old academic looked up. ‘Is he dead?’

‘Patrick, I’m afraid my grandfather passed away fifteen years ago.’

Beckett put his pie down on his plate and bowed his head. When, after perhaps a minute, he raised it once more, she saw that his eyes were wet with tears.

That he could display such grief at the news of her grandfather’s passing – someone he had not seen in decades – moved her so unexpectedly that she felt a fierce wash of love for him.

‘I suppose I should have expected it,’ Beckett said. ‘But how dreadfully sad, all the same. Your grandfather was an extraordinary man; cantankerous at times, but extraordinary nevertheless. The world’s lost a rare intellect in Charles Meredith. Still, fifteen years ago, you say? It doesn’t explain why he left, or where he lived out his remaining years.’

‘No, it doesn’t. But I doubt you’d believe the answer if I told you.’

‘Ha! You’d be surprised what a man of eighty-seven will believe, given half the chance.’

‘Maybe that’s true. I’m afraid I still can’t tell you, though. Not yet.’

He stared at her, his filmy eyes almost as colourless as rainwater. ‘But you do want something from me, don’t you? That’s why you’re here.’

‘I wanted to meet you, Patrick. My grandfather always talked about you, and there are very few people left who have memories of him. But you’re right – there was something else. You and Charles, you shared a passion for mythology. Folk tales.’

Beckett raised a cautioning finger. ‘The terms aren’t interchangeable.’

‘But you know what I mean.’

He peered at her. ‘Go on.’

‘Years ago, you shared a particular passion, an enthusiasm for an obscure piece of Hungarian mythology, centred around a race of people called the—’

‘Hosszú életek,’ the old man breathed, and when his eyes drifted from her face and stared into the fire, a smile tugged at his lips.

Leah shivered. ‘You remember.’

‘How could I forget? Your grandfather came to me about them, well, it must have been almost fifty years ago. Ha! I don’t remember what got him started, but he asked my advice and I pointed him in the direction of a few sources – stories and the like – that I’d collected during my travels. Then, of course, all those years later, he published that paper on them. By gods, it was the most incredible thing. It read more like a history than anything else.’ He brushed crumbs from the sleeve of his blazer. ‘Still gives me goosebumps to think of it.’

‘Once something snared his interest, it consumed him until he mastered it.’

‘Indeed it did.’ Beckett took a long draught from his beer, and settled lower in his chair. ‘I suppose, deep down, I always knew that he’d passed on, but I’m so sorry to hear you confirm it.’

For a while, neither of them spoke, listening to the wind as it twisted through Oxford’s streets.

‘I’m interested in another story,’ Leah said. ‘This one perhaps even older.’

‘My mind isn’t what it was. But if I can help, I most assuredly will.’

‘It’s a related story, I think, which is why I thought of you. Another myth; or folktale, perhaps. The name I’ve heard used is lélek tolvajok.’

‘Ah . . .’ Beckett’s eyes closed and his breath spooled out. He was silent for so long that Leah began to think he had drifted off, but then he sat up straight in his chair. ‘The tolvajok. You’re quite right, of course. An even older race, judging from the sources that remain.’

‘But originating from the same part of the world?’

‘Indeed.’ His eyes were bright again, alert. ‘You can trace the roots of both back to that area of Central Europe we call the Carpathian Basin – or sometimes the Pannonian Basin. Of course, the Pannonian really only refers to the area of lowland that remained after the old Pannonian Sea drained out of the Iron Gates. But for our purposes, there’s no need to retreat five million years to the Pliocene period.’

‘Let’s not.’

The professor nodded, carrying on as if he hadn’t heard her. ‘The tolvajok may be ancient, but they’re not millions of years old. No modern complex life-form can claim a residency that long. By complex, I don’t mean in structure. Yes, certain species of jellyfish have been with us for half a billion years or more. And just look at the coelacanth, thought to have been extinct since the end of the Cretaceous. That is, until a fisherman caught one in his nets off the coast of South Africa. I’m talking about complex in terms of brain structure, although again that’s a misnomer, considering what we’re discussing. But I’m getting distracted. Where was I?’

‘The tolvajok. And their origins.’

Beckett lurched forward, licking his lips. ‘Of course I was. Damned mind is going. I’ve been trying those Sudoku puzzles, you know. Waste of time. Anyway, we should start, as always, with the etymology. Lélek tolvajok is a Hungarian term. It translates, I believe, into something along the lines of spirit thief, or perhaps thieves, in the plural. But it’s not the most common name for them, I must say. I’m pretty sure the Slavic alternatives are more prevalent. The Czechs called them the zloděj těl. The Ukrainian term is xmapi. In the older languages, the direct translations often describe a virus, an infection of the mind.’

‘An infection?’

‘Yes, although that’s not a very helpful description. An infection doesn’t suggest sentience.’

Leah felt the skin on her scalp contracting. ‘A sentient infection?’

‘Of the mind, indeed,’ Beckett continued. ‘Or so the stories go. You might be surprised to learn that the tolvajok are the precursor to many of the world’s darker folktales and superstitions. Vampirism, lycanthropy . . . you name it; before the birth of those relatively modern-day creations – throughout the Pannonian Basin at least – you had the tolvajok. A living entity, which, exactly like any other parasite, required a physical host in which to live.’

‘But you’re saying . . .’ She frowned. ‘In contrast to other parasites, this one had no body of its own?’

‘Correct. We’re talking about an awareness; pure consciousness, if you like. If it helps, think of our interpretation of the soul. Do you believe you have a soul? Whether you do or you don’t, it’s a device that features regularly in mythology. The only difference, here, is that whereas we generally consider our souls tethered to a single body during our physical existence, the tolvajok have no such restrictions. They simply need a host. And when one host starts to die, they go on to take another.’

‘But how could something like that exist?’

Beckett shrugged. ‘You’re talking to a retired philologist, not a scientist. It’s the creation and distribution of the myth that interests me. But since you ask, let me ask you. What, after all, do we really know of consciousness? Historically, it’s been more the preserve of philosophy than science.’

‘What else can you tell me?’

‘Lots, probably. If I could remember any of it. I think I wrote a paper on them once. Should be around here, somewhere. You’re welcome to take it if you wish.’ Beckett broke off, and seemed to see the chaos of his snug clearly for the first time. He scratched his head. ‘Well, maybe not. Let me see what else I recall. Ah, yes. There’s a quite detailed passage about the tolvajok in Gesta Hungarorum. And there’s also a Latin text – can’t think of its name – held by the Charles University in Prague. It describes them quite extensively. Other than that, the references are fairly obscure.’ Beckett’s eyes flicked over to her and he grinned. ‘One thing I can tell you is that you have a blessedly slim chance of ever encountering one. Supposedly the lélek tolvajok died out some time after the hosszú életek cull.’

‘Why was that?’

‘Because the tolvajok were dependent on them.’

‘How so?’

‘Well, the texts diversify somewhat on the exact reasoning but, generally speaking, when the tolvaj seized a host, the effect on the victim’s physical body – as well as mind – was enormous. The longer the union, the more exacting the toll. Imagine an engine constantly running above its limit. The body uses up all its reserves, ages incredibly fast, and when the tolvaj moves on, what it leaves behind is effectively waste material.’

‘I don’t see the link to the hosszú életek.’

‘All parasites harm their hosts in some way or other,’ he told her. ‘But the ideal relationship, if you can call any of this ideal, occurs when the parasite avoids killing its host, or at least avoids it for as long as possible. A body that ages incredibly fast is of limited use to anyone, so for the tolvajok, a person blessed with greater longevity—’

‘Such as a hosszú élet . . .’

Beckett nodded. ‘Exactly. They represent a far more compelling solution. Even so, as far as I remember it, a tolvaj needed to seize a hosszú élet at an early enough age if it were to take full advantage of the longevity on offer. Take one too late, and their body aged just as quickly as a simavér host. Perhaps it’s something to do with the way the brain matures. Anyway, when the hosszú életek went into decline, it’s said the tolvajok died out.’

Leah frowned. ‘Or they were forced to become less fastidious in their choice of host.’

‘Possibly, although according to the literature, the seizing of a new host was thought to cost the tolvajok dearly, too. Ultimately, if they switched too often they’d simply . . .’ He opened his fingers, scattering imaginary dust. ‘Drift away.’

The old academic paused, and then he glanced down at the veins mapping the backs of his hands, as if his words had led him, suddenly, to consider his own mortality. Outside, another gust of wind sent a tremor through the curtains. Leah thought of the dark landscape beyond the glass; of all those lives being lived unaware of the threats that walked among them.

‘There was a fragment I came across once,’ Beckett said, rousing himself. ‘A very old text, late fourteenth century. Forty years or so after the Black Death swept through Europe. The original had been lost – this was a fifteenth-century copy, transcribed by a monk living in some monastery in northern Italy.

‘For most of its length it narrates the day-to-day investigations of a party of witch-hunters linked to the Dominican Order, which is of interest, anyway, considering this was a few hundred years before the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum. According to the fragment, one day the group’s inquisitor led them to an old ruin where, unwittingly, they stumbled across a nest of incredibly old lélek tolvajok. Roused from sleep, the tolvajok fell upon them, seizing new hosts from the party’s members. The inquisitor was the only one who managed to get away.’

Leah felt her stomach tighten as she listened to Beckett’s voice.

‘The explanation,’ he continued, ‘was that when times were tough – after an epidemic of plague and so forth – the tolvajok went into hibernation, drastically reducing the toll inflicted on their hosts, until new donors could be found.’

Beckett raised his eyebrows. ‘When I said earlier they probably all died out around the time of the cull, maybe I was being premature. Perhaps a few are out there still. Hibernating. Waiting for the right time to wake up and claim their inheritance.’

‘How do you kill them?’ she asked.

‘I have no idea.’

Her tea had begun to cool. She took a sip. ‘Thank you, Patrick. You’ve been incredibly helpful.’

‘I’ve enjoyed it immensely. You really do look a lot like Charles, you know. There is one other thing.’

‘Yes?’

He hesitated, a faint pinkish tinge appearing on his cheeks. His eyes fell to his lap before they found her face once more. ‘It’ll sound like a question from a senile old man.’

‘Try me.’

‘OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.’

She smiled encouragingly.

Beckett licked his lips. ‘Did he find them? Charles, I mean?’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘I can’t believe I’m asking you this. But . . . the hosszú életek. Is that why he disappeared? Did he find them?’

Rocked by what Beckett had asked, Leah considered him. There was no way she should reveal the truth. It was dangerous not just for her. She heard the clock ticking on the mantelpiece, and wondered how many years the academic had left, sitting here alone surrounded by his old texts, his myths and his cats.

dAbandoning her usual caution, she said, ‘He did better than that, Professor. He married one.’

Beckett’s chest swelled. A moment later his mouth dropped open. ‘But that means . . . if you’re his granddaughter, that means . . .’

‘Yes.’ She nodded. ‘It means you’re talking to one.’

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An Excerpt from The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/04/28/an-excerpt-from-the-doll-maker-by-richard-montanari/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/04/28/an-excerpt-from-the-doll-maker-by-richard-montanari/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:24:21 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3202 The post An Excerpt from The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are back to take on Richard Montanari’s most frightening creations yet: the debonair Mr. Marseille and Anabelle. Mr. Marseille and Anabelle have a macabre mission, one that belies their refined appearance. Below is their first appearance in Montanari’s new novel, The Doll Maker, which is on sale today. Chapter […]

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The post An Excerpt from The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari appeared first on Mulholland Books.

The Doll Maker by Richard MontanariDetectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are back to take on Richard Montanari’s most frightening creations yet: the debonair Mr. Marseille and Anabelle. Mr. Marseille and Anabelle have a macabre mission, one that belies their refined appearance. Below is their first appearance in Montanari’s new novel, The Doll Maker, which is on sale today.

Chapter 1

At just after six a.m., as every other day, Mr Marseille and I opened our eyes, dark lashes counterweighted to the light.

It was mid-November, and although the frost had not yet touched the windows—this usually comes to our eaves in late December—there was a mist on the glass that gave the early morning light a delicate quality, as if we were looking at the world through a Lalique figurine.

Before we dressed for the day we drew our names in the condensation on the windowpane, the double l in Mr Marseille’s name and the double l in mine slanting toward one another like tiny Doric columns, as has been our monogram for as long as we both could remember.

* * *

We followed the group of girls at a discreet distance. They had attended a showing of a film at the Franklin Institute, and were now boarding a bus to take them back to their school.

Mr Marseille had thought of making our invitation on Winter Street, but decided against it. Too many busybodies to ruin our surprise.

At just after noon the bus pulled over near the corner of Sixteenth and Locust. The teenage girls—about a dozen in number, all dressed alike in their school uniforms—disembarked. They lingered on the corner, chatting about everything and nothing, as girls of an age will do.

After a short time, a few cars showed up; a number of the girls drove off in backseats, carpooled by one mother or another.

The girl who would be our guest walked a few blocks south with another of her classmates, a tall, lanky girl wearing a magenta cardigan, in the style of a fisherman’s knit.

We drove a few blocks ahead of them, parked in an alley, then marched briskly around the block, coming up behind the girls. Girls at this age often dawdle, and this was good for us. We caught them in short order.

When the tall girl finally said goodbye, on the corner of Sixteenth and Spruce, Mr Marseille and I walked up behind our soon-to-be guest, waiting for the signal to cross the street.

Eventually the girl looked over.

‘Hello,’ Mr Marseille said.

The girl glanced at me, then at Mr Marseille. Sensing no threat, perhaps because she saw us as a couple—a couple of an age not significantly greater than her own—she returned the greeting.

‘Hi,’ she said.

While we waited for the light to change, Mr Marseille unbuttoned his coat, struck a pose, offering the well-turned peak lapel of his suit jacket. The hem was a pick stitch, and finely finished. I know this because I am the seamstress who fitted him.

‘Wow,’ the girl added. ‘I like your suit. A lot.’

Mr Marseille’s eyes lighted. In addition to being sartorially fastidious, he was terribly vain, and always available for a compliment.

‘What a lovely thing to say,’ he said. ‘How very kind of you.’

The girl, perhaps not knowing the correct response, said nothing. She stole a glance at the Walk signal. It still showed a hand.

‘My name is Marseille,’ he said. ‘This is my dearest heart, Anabelle.’

Mr Marseille extended his hand. The girl blushed, offered her own.

‘I’m Nicole.’

Mr Marseille leaned forward, as was his manner, and gently kissed the back of the girl’s fingers. Many think the custom is to kiss the back of a lady’s hand—on the side just opposite the palm—but this is not proper.

A gentleman knows.

Nicole reddened even more deeply.

When she glanced at me I made the slightest curtsy. Ladies do not shake hands with ladies.

At this moment the light changed. Mr Marseille let go of the girl’s hand and, in a courtly fashion, offered her safe passage across the lane.

I followed.

We continued down the street in silence until we came to the mouth of the alley; the alley in which we parked our car.

Mr Marseille held up a hand. He and I stopped walking.

‘I have a confession to make,’ he said.

The girl, appearing to be fully at ease with these two polite and interesting characters, stopped as well. She looked intrigued by Mr Marseille’s statement.

‘A confession?’

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Our meeting was not by accident today. We’re here to invite you to tea.’

The girl looked at me for a moment, then back at Mr Marseille.

‘You want to invite me to tea?’

‘Yes.’

‘I don’t know what you mean,’ she said.

Mr Marseille smiled. He had a pretty smile, brilliantly white, almost feminine in its deceits. It was the kind of smile that turned strangers into cohorts in all manner of petty crime, the kind of smile that puts at ease both the very young and the very old. I’ve yet to meet a young woman who could resist its charm.

‘Every day, about four o’clock, we have tea,’ Mr Marseille said. ‘It is quite the haphazard affair on most days, but every so often we have a special tea—a thé dansant, if you’ll allow—one to which we invite all our friends, and always someone new. Someone we hope will become a new friend. Won’t you say you’ll join us?’

The young woman looked confused. But still she was gracious. This is the sign of a good upbringing. Both Mr Marseille and I believe courtesy and good manners are paramount to getting along in the world these days. It is what lingers with people after you take your leave, like the quality of your soap, or the polish of your shoes.

‘Look,’ the young lady began. ‘I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else. But thanks anyway.’ She glanced at her watch, then back at Mr Marseille. ‘I’m afraid I have a ton of homework.’

With a lightning fast move Mr Marseille took the girl by both wrists, and spun her into the alleyway. Mr Marseille is quite the athlete, you see. I once saw him catch a common housefly in midair, then throw it into a hot skillet, where we witnessed its life vanish into an ampersand of silver smoke.

As he seized the girl I watched her eyes. They flew open to their widest: counterweights on a precious Bru. I noticed then, for the first time, that her irises had scattered about them tiny
flecks of gold.

This would be a challenge for me, for it was my duty—and my passion—to re-create such things.

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An Excerpt from When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/04/21/an-excerpt-from-when-we-were-animals-by-joshua-gaylord/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/04/21/an-excerpt-from-when-we-were-animals-by-joshua-gaylord/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 13:36:35 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3194 The post An Excerpt from When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord appeared first on Mulholland Books.

When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown, where at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path. […]

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When We Were Animals by Joshua GaylordWhen Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown, where at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path. When We Were Animals is Lumen’s confessional, and below is an excerpt from the haunting and beautiful novel, which goes on sale today.

Do you want to know who I am?

Do you want to know what I do?

I live next door to you with my husband and my child.

I have done such things as would shame the devil, yet I keep my front yard tidy, the trash bins lined up neatly on trash day.

I attend the meetings of the PTA. I offer to bake cookies.

At night, after everyone is asleep, I creep downstairs to the kitchen table and write down my memories. They are the stories I tell myself when I can’t sleep. Like fairy tales—or the mythos
of a lost culture.

I was an excellent student.

I am an excellent member of the community. I never spit, and I always put my waste in the proper receptacles.

Do you know what else I do?

I sometimes walk out into the night. I walk down the middle of the deserted street. Our neighborhood is always silent at this hour—we comprise wholesome families. I feel the chill, as I did not as a girl. Maybe as you get older you grow into new kinds of dis-ease. Maybe death is the ultimate discomfort.

I walk to the park, which is deserted except for four teenagers who scurry away when they see me. The air they leave behind smells of marijuana. On the ground is an empty plastic bag and a box of matches with the name of a bar on it and an illustration of a woman sitting inside a massive martini glass.

The playground equipment is still and skeletal, unhinged as it is at this time of night from the fuss of child life, illuminated by what we used to call a Pheasant Moon.

I am alone. I am in love with my husband and my boy, but I am still alone.

Sometimes you want a hand over your mouth—you want to be hushed. Other times you just want to burn till there’s nothing left.

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Start Reading Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/03/24/start-reading-inspector-of-the-dead-by-david-morrell/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/03/24/start-reading-inspector-of-the-dead-by-david-morrell/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:37:09 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3168 The post Start Reading Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Thomas De Quincey is a real person. He really was addicted to opium, and in 1821, he really did scandalize all of England with his first-person account of addiction, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. He really was the first to advance the idea of a subconscious (70 years before Freud), and he really was an […]

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Inspector of the Dead by David MorrellThomas De Quincey is a real person. He really was addicted to opium, and in 1821, he really did scandalize all of England with his first-person account of addiction, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. He really was the first to advance the idea of a subconscious (70 years before Freud), and he really was an expert in murder, publishing a masterful report of the Ratcliff Highways killings of 1811 called “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” But in David Morrell’s hands, Thomas De Quincey becomes the insightful, provocative hero of a bestselling historical thriller series. In 2013, Mulholland Books published Murder as a Fine Art. Today, we publish the sensational sequel, Inspector of the Dead. Read the shocking first chapter—in which we meet a vengeful killer—below.

CHAPTER ONE: THE KILLING ZONE

London, 1855

Except for excursions to a theater or a gentlemen’s club, most respectable inhabitants of the largest city on earth took care to be at home before the sun finished setting, which on this cold Saturday evening, the third of February, occurred at six minutes to five.

That time—synchronized with the clock at the Royal Greenwich Observatory—was displayed on a silver pocket watch that an expensively dressed, obviously distinguished gentleman examined beneath a hissing gas lamp. As harsh experiences had taught him, appearance meant everything. The vilest thoughts might lurk within someone, but the external semblance of respectability was all that mattered. For fifteen years now, he couldn’t recall a time when rage had not consumed him, but he had never allowed anyone to suspect, enjoying the surprise of those upon whom he unleashed his fury.

Tonight, he stood at Constitution Hill and stared across the street toward the murky walls of Buckingham Palace. Lights glowed faintly behind curtains there. Given that the British government had collapsed four days earlier because of its shocking mismanagement of the Crimean War, Queen Victoria was no doubt engaged in urgent meetings with her Privy Council. A shadow passing at one of the windows might belong to her or perhaps to her husband, Prince Albert. The gentleman wasn’t certain which of them he hated more.

Approaching footsteps made him turn. A constable appeared, his helmet silhouetted against the fog. As the patrolman focused his lantern on the quality of clothing before him, the gentleman made himself look calm. His top hat, overcoat, and trousers were the finest. His beard—a disguise—would have attracted notice years earlier but was now fashionable. Even his black walking stick with its polished silver knob was the height of fashion.

“Good evening, sir. If you don’t mind me saying, don’t linger,” the constable warned. “It doesn’t do to be out alone in the dark, even in this neighborhood.”

“Thank you, constable. I’ll hurry along.”

From his hiding place, the young man at last heard a target approaching. He’d almost given up, knowing that there was little chance that someone of means would venture alone onto this fogbound street but knowing also that the fog was his only protection from the constable who passed here every twenty minutes.

Deciding that the footsteps didn’t have the heavy, menacing impact that the constable’s did, the young man prepared for the most desperate act of his life. He’d endured typhoons and fevers on three voyages back and forth from England to the Orient on a British East India Company ship, but they were nothing compared to what he now risked, the penalty for which was hanging. As his stomach growled from hunger, he prayed that its sound wouldn’t betray him.

The footsteps came closer, a top hat coming into view. Despite his weakness, the young man stepped from behind a tree in Green Park. He gripped the wrought-iron fence, vaulted it, and landed in front of a gentleman whose dark beard was visible in the shrouded glow from a nearby street lamp.

The young man gestured with a club. “No need to draw you a picture, I presume, mate. Give me your purse, or it’ll go nasty for you.”

The gentleman studied his dirty, torn sailor’s clothes.

“I said, your purse, mate,” the young man ordered, listening for the sounds of the returning constable. “Be quick. I won’t warn you again.”

“The light isn’t the best, but perhaps you can see my eyes. Look at them carefully.”

“What I’ll do is close them for you if you don’t give me your purse.”

“Do you see fear in them?”

“I will after this.”

The young man lunged, swinging his club.

With astonishing speed, the gentleman pivoted sideways and struck with his cane, jolting the young man’s wrist, knocking the club from it. With a second blow, he whacked the side of the young man’s head, dropping him to the ground.

“Stay down unless you wish more of the same,” the gentleman advised.

Suppressing a groan, the young man clutched his throbbing head.

“Before confronting someone, always look in his eyes. Determine if his resolve is greater than yours. Your age, please.”

The polite tone so surprised the young man that he found himself answering, “Eighteen.”

“What is your name?”

The young man hesitated, shivering from the cold.

“Say it. Your first name will be sufficient. It won’t incriminate you.”

“Ronnie.”

“You mean ‘Ronald.’ If you wish to improve yourself, always use your formal name. Say it.”

“Ronald.”

“Despite the pain of my blows, you had the character not to cry out and alert the constable. Character deserves a reward. How long has it been since you’ve eaten, Ronald?”

“Two days.”

“Your fast has now ended.”

The gentleman dropped five coins onto the path. The faint glow from the nearby street lamp made it difficult for Ronald to identify them. Expecting pennies, he felt astonished when he discovered not pennies or even shillings but gold sovereigns. He stared at them in shock. One gold sovereign was more than most people earned in a week of hard labor, and here were five of them.

“Would you like to receive even more sovereigns, Ronald?”

He clawed at the coins. “Yes.”

“Twenty-five Garner Street in Wapping.” The address was in the blighted East End, as far from the majesty of Green Park as could be imagined. “Repeat it.”

“Twenty-five Garner Street in Wapping.”

“Be there at four tomorrow afternoon. Buy warm clothes. Nothing extravagant, nothing to draw attention. You are about to join a great cause, Ronald. But if you tell anyone about Twenty-five Garner Street, to use your expression it’ll go nasty for you. Let’s see if you do indeed have character or if you throw away the greatest opportunity you will ever receive.”

Heavy footsteps approached.

“The constable. Go,” the bearded gentleman warned. “Don’t disappoint me, Ronald.”

His stomach growling more painfully, astonished by his luck, Ronald clutched his five precious sovereigns and raced into the fog.

* * *

As the gentleman continued up Constitution Hill, his watch now showed eight minutes past five. The watches of his associates—also synchronized with the Greenwich Royal Observatory—would display the same time. Everything remained on schedule.

At Piccadilly, he turned right toward one of London’s most respectable districts: Mayfair. He had waited what seemed an eternity for what he was about to enjoy. He had suffered unimaginably to prepare for it. Despite his fierce emotions, he kept a measured pace, determined not to blunt his satisfaction by hurrying.

Even in the fog, he had no trouble finding his way. This was a route that he had followed many times in his memory. It was the same rouoppote that he had taken fifteen years earlier when, as a desperate boy, he had raced to the right along Piccadilly, then to the left along Half Moon Street, then left again onto Curzon Street, this way and that, begging.

“Please, sir, I need your help!”

“Get away from me, you filthy vermin!”

The echoes of that hateful time reverberated in his memory as he came to the street known as Chesterfield Hill. He paused where a gas lamp showed an iron railing beyond which five stone steps led up to an oak door. The knocker had the shape of a heraldic lion’s head.

The steps were freshly scrubbed. Noting a boot scraper built into the railing, he applied his soles to it so that he wouldn’t leave evidence. He clutched his walking stick, opened the gate, and climbed the steps. The impact of the knocker echoed within the house.

He heard someone on the opposite side of the door. For a moment, his anticipation made it seem that the world outside the fog no longer existed, that he was in a closet of the universe, that time had stopped. As a hand freed a bolt and the door opened, he readied his cane with its silver knob.

A butler looked puzzled. “His Lordship isn’t expecting visitors.”

The gentleman struck with all his might, impacting the man’s head, knocking him onto a marbled floor. Heartbeat thundering with satisfaction, he entered and shut the door. A few quick steps took him into a spacious hall.

A maid paused at the bottom of an ornate staircase, frowning, obviously puzzled about why the butler hadn’t accompanied the visitor. In a rage, the gentleman swung the cane, feeling its knob crack the maid’s skull. With a dying moan, she collapsed to the floor.

Without the disguise of his beard, the gentleman had been to this house on several occasions. He knew its layout and would need little time to eliminate the remaining servants. Then his satisfaction could begin as he devoted his attention to their masters. Clutching his cane, he proceeded with his great work.

Memories needed to be prodded.

Punishment needed to be inflicted.

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Lev AC Rosen on Future Noir http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/03/19/lev-ac-rosen-on-future-noir/ http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2015/03/19/lev-ac-rosen-on-future-noir/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 20:41:15 +0000 http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/?p=3160 The post Lev AC Rosen on Future Noir appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Lev AC Rosen’s new novel, Depth (published by Regan Arts), is a classic hardboiled mystery set in a future radically transformed by environmental catastrophe. Here, Lev explains how he hit upon that combination. The Big Sleep is my favorite noir movie—of course, it has to be the 1946 version, which has more Bacall and Bogart […]

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The post Lev AC Rosen on Future Noir appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Depth_Main_ImageLev AC Rosen’s new novel, Depth (published by Regan Arts), is a classic hardboiled mystery set in a future radically transformed by environmental catastrophe. Here, Lev explains how he hit upon that combination.

The Big Sleep is my favorite noir movie—of course, it has to be the 1946 version, which has more Bacall and Bogart scenes than the original version from the year before—that wasn’t actually released until much later. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of them: Laura, Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, The Blue Dahlia… maybe I love all of them. But The Big Sleep is my favorite.

A lot of people don’t understand why I’d be so into a movie that, frankly, makes very little sense, even less sense than the first cut. (Supposedly, not even Raymond Chandler was sure who killed the chauffeur.) But it makes perfect sense to me—it’s the style. The Big Sleep is dripping in noir style that you just don’t see anymore. The glamour of Lauren Bacall coming down the steps at night in her dressing gown, the gruesomeness of her sister’s disorder, the dirtiness of all the (unnamed, because of the Hayes Code) crimes Philip Marlowe uncovers—drugs, sexual coercion, abuse, blackmail. The scenes between Bogart and Bacall are fantastic—the telephone scene, or the moment in his office when he tells her to go ahead and scratch, or the talk about her sister, or my favorite, the horseracing conversation. Nothing really captures, for me, the feel of noir like that movie.

So when I set out to write my own hardboiled noir detective fiction, I knew I wanted that feel. I thought about writing something period, but it felt too familiar. I tried writing it in the present day, but it didn’t have the glamour or the grit I wanted. So I did something that I’ve been told was either a brilliant idea or a very bad one: I set my story in the future. I imagined a world where the ice caps have melted and all that’s left of New York City is the tops of buildings, with worn bridges and decommissioned boats floating between them. A city of flotsam.

This was a world where my detective, Simone Pierce, who I tried to write as a female Bogie, could have hard-boiled conversations with the cops and her clients. Where a body could just vanish by being rolled into the water, where crime could flourish and justice was a wisp you would try to snatch out of the air (and probably miss). This was a world, in short, that felt noir.

I know, I know, I know. “You got scifi in my noir!” “You got noir in my scifi!” Now no one will want to eat it. I heard that (well, maybe not exactly that, but some variation on it) over and over, along with the “no one will know how to sell this because these are two different types of readers” refrain from various publicity departments, though ultimately I did find an editor and publisher who found the world of Depth as enthralling as I did. I didn’t do market research when I created this world. But I knew the feeling of the thing I wanted to write and I found my way of getting there. And I ended up with my lone detective in a ruined world, trying to keep everything as together as it can be. It might be less then traditional, but I do genuinely look at Depth as a noir that just happens to take place at the end of the world. Because the end of the world is where I found my noir voice.

Lev-by-Rachel-ShaneLev AC Rosen is the author of the critically acclaimed All Men of Genius and the middle grade novel Woundabout. He received his BA from Oberlin College and his MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Lev is originally from lower Manhattan, and now lives in even lower Manhattan, right at the edge of the water, with his husband and a very small cat. You can find him online at LevACRosen.com.

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