The Rap Sheet

Looking for
“Pierce's Picks”?

You can now find it on the award-winning blog, The Rap Sheet. Click here to see J. Kingston Pierce’s latest recommendations of crime, mystery, and thriller novels. Older picks can be found here.


The Rap Sheet


Want your Web site listed in January Magazine’s Author Links?


The Rap Sheet

Rake by Scott Phillips

Rake is a gem of a noir tucked into a snug coffin with the lid firmly secured by a tidy little noose.

Best Crime Fiction of 2013

We’ve checked the stacks and come up with an incredible list of the best books of 2013.


Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

Fans of Scottish police sleuth John Rebus will be delighted to learn that he’s once again front and center in Ian Rankin’s brand-new novel, Saints of the Shadow Bible.

i n t e r v i e w s

r e v i e w s

Author Snapshot: Gyles Brandreth
A snapshot of Gyles Brandreth who talks about his most recent book, Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile

Author Snapshot: Clea Simon
A snapshot of Clea Simon who talks about her most recent book, Probable Claws.

Natasha Cooper author of A Poisoned Mind
The international bestseller talks about her professional background, her interest in today’s economic uncertainties and what it is she finds so fascinating about the complex world of laws and lawsuits.

Natasha Cooper author of A Poisoned Mind

Inger Ash Wolfe author of The Calling
When The Calling debuted early in 2008, some reviewers reacted with anger: just who was this mystery author whose identity was being kept such a big secret? January contributor Ali Karim gets no closer to an answer, but reveals some interesting tidbits along the way.

Inger Ash Wolfe

Sean Chercover author of Trigger City
Two rich and compelling novels of crime have earned him a growing audience and a list of glowing reviews.

Mark Billingham author of In the Dark
Mark Billingham hits it big with his first standalone, but swears his Tom Thorne series isn’t dead

Mark Billingham

Larry Beinhart author of Salvation Boulevard
The author of Wag the Dog delivers another stunning novel in Salvation Boulevard. It is an important book: it deals with topics that are important -- questions of faith and freedom and systems of belief -- yet it never fails to entertain.

Shannon Burke author of Black Flies
The author candidly discusses the dozen years he spent on his road to publication; a road that was studded with disappointment and near misses.

Kelli Stanley author of Nox Dormienda
The debut author and classics scholar clues us into her newly minted sub-genre: Roman Noir.

Kelli Stanley

John McFetridge author of Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
McFetridge is one of a new breed of Canadian crime fictionists, building neo noir that seems touched by both the humor and self-consciousness of life north of the 48th.

Dan Vyleta author of Pavel & I
Vyleta calls Pavel & I “a broken sort of love story,” but it’s so much more, as well. If you like classic cold war thrillers with a tough, literary edge, Pavel & I is one you’ll not want to miss.

Barbara Fister author of In the Wind
Barbara Fister’s novels are smart, sophisticated and deeply concerned with the larger world. In many ways, all of those words -- smart, sophisticated, concerned -- describe the Madison-born and Minnesota-based author perfectly.

Sandra Ruttan author of What Burns Within
Titian hair. A deceptively sweet smile. Arms akimbo. Mystery writer and journalist Sandra Ruttan manages these disparate things easily, seemingly without contradiction.

Sandra Ruttan

See the complete listing of authors of crime fiction January Magazine has interviewed  -->


Drama, Skullduggery and Disaster at Sea
At the 100th anniversary of the loss of the mighty Titanic, it seems a good time to look at the novels written over the last few decades that use that White Star Liner’s tragedy as their setting or jumping-off point.

The Arresting Fiction of Ed McBain
For half a century, the man known variously as Ed McBain and Evan Hunter gave us some of the best and most innovative crime stories available. With a final farewell to this giant of the genre scheduled in New York City, January Magazine presents a trio of stories in tribute to his talent and his tendency to inspire.

The Arresting Fiction of Ed McBain

Dashiell Hammett A 75th-Anniversary Tribute
This author's third and now best-known novel, The Maltese Falcon, was published in book form on Valentine's Day, 1930, changing both Hammett's life and American detective fiction. We celebrate with a look back at his career and influences; a review of the new collection, Vintage Hammett; and praise from dozens of modern crime writers.

Dashiell Hammett A 75th-Anniversary Tribute

Strangers on Terrain by George J. Demko
Twenty-first-century Packards, fictitious big-city locations, blatantly distorted politics -- foreign mystery writers who set their stories in America are often as guilty of committing crimes against fact as their characters are of causing larceny and murder.

See our complete listing of crime fiction features  -->

Long Gone Man by Phyllis Smallman
Long Gone Man marks the launch of a new series in which the lead character is a quirky and vulnerable, yet likable character.

Miss Montreal by Howard Shrier
With three cracking good novels already under his belt, Canadian author Howard Shrier has delivered a fourth that will not disappoint his many fans.

Too Many Cooks and Champagne for One by Rex Stout
Too Many Cooks is set at a spa in the American South, where some of the greatest chefs in the world have gathered. Wolfe, who is notorious for not wanting to leave his New York brownstone, has been invited as the keynote speaker.

Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina
The third Alex Morrow novel is the bleak narrative of a policing system that values paper-pushing administration over the efforts of front-line officers on streets dominated by savvy criminals who know how to exploit the policing system to shape public perceptions.

The Midwife’s Tale by Sam Thomas and Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent
Reflecting changes in society, mystery writers have expanded their venues from the days when books cast female protagonists as teachers or nurses. Now, it seems, the sky is the limit.

The Bones and the Book by Jane Isenberg
It’s not unusual for a historical mystery to be set within a contemporary one. But in The Bones and the Book, Jane Isenberg puts a twist on this configuration.

Beach Strip by John Lawrence Reynolds
Although there is no shortage of women authors whose protagonists are male, the reverse is seldom true.

Lehrter Station by David Downing
A classic cat-and-mouse game -- except it’s no game. David Downing’s latest novel, Lehrter Station, chronicles days full of promise, punctuated by nights full of peril, in a nation emerging from war and pulled in many directions at once.

Skeleton Picnic by Michael Norman
Pot hunting, the age-old business of digging up Native American pottery to collect or sell, is at the center of Skeleton Picnic, the second book in Michael Norman’s series featuring a law-enforcement ranger with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management working in the Southwest.

Broken Harbor by Tana French
Broken Harbor is crime writer Tana French’s compelling tale about the horrific multiple-murder of a family in rural Ireland. But if gore is not your thing, don’t be put off: the crime has already occurred by the story’s opening, and Broken Harbor is very much a police procedural married to a classic whodunnit.

Breakdown by Sara Paretsky
Chicago-based crime writer Sara Paretsky has long dominated the contemporary hard-boiled private-eye genre with fast-paced tales featuring her indefatigable, often headstrong sleuth, V.I. Warshawski.

The Gilded Shroud and The Deadly Portent by Elizabeth Bailey
The Gilded Shroud and its sequel, The Deadly Portent, are well-plotted and quite engaging, filled with, but not overwhelmed by, interesting period details.

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
By the time he died in January 2012, British crime writer Reginald Hill had earned legions of fans worldwide for his engaging novels (and long-running TV series) featuring two improbably paired police detectives. The Woodcutter is something else again.

Death Plays Poker by Robin Spano
You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can’t necessarily take the trailer park out of the girl. That’s the subtext of Robin Spano’s second Clare Vengel novel, Death Plays Poker.

Following Polly by Karen Bergreen
Usually stories about stalkers are too creepy, not the sort of thing you want on a bedside table. But this tale of Alice Teakle, a shy and rather forgettable woman who loses her dead-end job in a Manhattan booking agency, is a different kettle of fish.

Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet
Malliet deftly juggles all of her characters, making Nether Monkslip both real and a fantasyland. The murder plot here is quite devious and the motive quite evil, which grounds the story.

Spycatcher/Spartan by Matthew Dunn
Don’t let different names fool you: it’s Spycatcher in the U.S. and Spartan in the U.K. but wherever it is (and whatever you call it) our reviewer thinks it’s well worth your time.

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott makes glass sculptures filled with blood. Her new book, The End of Everything, is no exception.

The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
Typically, murder mysteries don’t reveal the killer until the end. So when the killer in the new thriller The Hypnotist is revealed early on, you sort of think, Well, this book isn’t about what I thought it was.

Hotel No Tell by Daphne Uviller
It’s great to have Zephyr back in Hotel No Tell; we can always use another good mystery laced with smart-ass New York humor.

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz & David Hayward
Though Lisa Lutz has consistently charmed readers with her Spellman series, January’s reviewer thinks that Lutz’s new book, Heads You Lose, pushes the envelope in a less successful way.

Innocent Monster by Reed Farrel Coleman
Retired New York cop, sometime private eye and reluctant wine merchant Moe Prager returns in author Reed Farrel Coleman’s latest novel, Innocent Monster.

Dead Man’s Chest by Kerry Greenwood
Phryne Fisher is back with her faithful maid and companion, Dot Williams, her two adopted daughters, Ruth and Jane, and her dog, Molly, and they’re staying in a borrowed holiday home.

The Columbo Collection by William Link
Lieutenant Columbo with a cell phone? Finding one of television’s most popular fictional sleuths still on the ball and on the job in the 21st century -- 39 years after he first questioned suspects on The NBC Mystery Movie -- can seem a bit disorienting.

Following the Detectives edited by Maxim Jakubowski
During the summer of 2009, British editor and former bookstore proprietor Maxim Jakubowski asked 11 authors to contribute to a volume of 21 essays about cities and other places in the world that are closely associated with famous fictional sleuths.

The Reversal by Michael Connelly
The Reversal is arguably Connelly’s finest novel yet. It demonstrates both the author’s smoothness of writing and his confidence in depicting both courtroom drama and police procedures.

Faithful Place by Tana French
Faithful Place is Irish author Tana French’s third novel (following 2007’s In the Woods and 2008’s The Likeness), and certainly her best one yet.

The Body and the Blood by Michael Lister
Florida writer Michael Lister returns in his new novel to the life of troubled prison chaplain John Jordan.

The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley
Though our reviewer figures author Gruley is a stronger writer than he was at the time of his debut novel, Starvation Lake, somehow The Hanging Tree doesn’t quite deliver.

Moscow Sting by Alex Dryden
In his new release, the sequel to 2009’s Red to Black -- Alex Dryden picks up the story of Anna Resnikov, once the youngest female colonel in the KGB, who defected to the West out of love for Finn, a British MI6 operative who has since been murdered.

See previous crime fiction reviews  -->