Stuff & Nonsense 077: no body, no crime

On novels, Taylor Swift as neo-noir, Best-Ofs, and more

I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving in this Year of Chaos. I also hope that you and yours are safe and healthy as we head into what will surely be a rough winter.

In the “good news” category, I’ve officially sent off my novel, Secret Identity, to my editor, and that feels like a big deal? It’s certainly the book I’m most proud of, even at this early stage, and I can’t wait for you to read it. Hitting this point got me to thinking a bit about the big picture, and it felt nice to zoom out and realize that this crazy idea I had about 15 years ago, that I would try to write a book like those mysteries I loved, seems to have panned out? Maybe?

Secret Identity will be my seventh novel in about as many years, and my sixth mystery. It’s a standalone, which I’ve never done, and blends together a lot of things I’m passionate about - mysteries, comic books, metafiction, New York, Miami - into something I hope people will enjoy. I feel like going too far into the weeds on it now will jinx it, so I’ll leave it at that. But I do hope you’ll keep an eye out for when it’s formally unveiled by the fine folks at Flatiron Books.

Speaking of, I’m auctioning off the chance to have a character named after you in the book, as part of the Mystery Loves Georgia fundraiser to help flip the Senate blue. It ends later today, so donate if you can.

IN OTHER NEWS

This came in the mail and wow, it’s real! Thank you to Bouchercon 2020, and to the readers.

Also, the wonderful people at my hometown paper, Miami New Times, have listed me as “Best Local Boy Made Good,” via their annual 2020 Best of Miami issue - which is insane, heart-warming, and probably one of the factors in getting me to think about this whole wild journey. Really humbled and grateful!

This essay I wrote for TIDAL a while back, about the delectable neo-noir elements of Taylor Swift, feels all the more relevant today, don’t you think? Illustration by Shawn McGuan. Also, I enjoyed this Macca/Taylor convo a lot.

Since we’re in Best-Of season, and since I’m not judging any awards and don’t have a 2021 mystery/crime novel, here are my favorites in the genre for the year, with some exceptions because genre is a construct, etc. Feel free to buy them all and get your holiday shopping done early!

THESE WOMEN, Ivy Pochoda

BLACKTOP WASTELAND, S.A. Cosby

CITY OF MARGINS, William Boyle

DEAD LAND, Sara Paretsky

TROUBLE IS WHAT I DO, Walter Mosley

AND NOW SHE’S GONE, Rachel Howzell Hall

A SONG FOR THE DARK TIMES, Ian Rankin

LITTLE SECRETS, Jennifer Hillier

THE LAW OF INNOCENCE, Michael Connelly

CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45, Lisa Unger

PRETTY AS A PICTURE, Elizabeth Little

NEVER ASK ME, Jeff Abbott

THEY’RE GONE, E.A. Barres

WINTER COUNTS, David Heska Wanbli Weiden

HOME BEFORE DARK, Riley Sager

MEXICAN GOTHIC, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

AFTERLAND, Lauren Beukes

UNSPEAKABLE THINGS, Jess Lourey

FOR THE BEST, Vanessa Lillie

THE LUCKY ONE, Lori Rader-Day

THE ART OF VIOLENCE, SJ Rozan

My SPIDER’S WEB column at 13th Dimension continues, recapping my reread of all things Spider-Man, with the last two installments covering Peter Parker and MJ’s wedding and the classic Kraven’s Last Hunt story. But let’s face it - nothing can top this comic book panel:

I did an interview for the writing podcast, The Story Blender, that you might enjoy listening to.

I wish I could tease some artwork, because my inbox is bursting with cool things, but most of it is under wraps. But…Well, what the hell? Here’s a page by the incomparable David Hahn, from a project we’re working on:

More on what it is soon.

SOME LINKS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Sarah Weinman’s fantastic look at the short, tragic life of Linda Millar, daughter of crime writers Ross Macdonald and Margaret Millar, is unsettling and meticulously reported.

Cover reveals: Laura Lippman’s latest, Dream Girl, will have a jaw-droppingly great cover to accompany what’s sure to be wonderful prose. Rachel Howzell Hall also debuted a stunning cover for her next novel, These Toxic Things. Two books you definitely want to pre-order.

I will forever be a The Godfather III apologist, and I’m excited to check out Francis Ford Coppola’s remix, spotlighted by David Itzkoff in the Times.

An interesting development for Zodiac/true crime obsessives.

I just finished Sam Wasson’s complicated and spectacular look at the movie Chinatown and it really stuck with me. I even did a Deep-Dive episode with Crime Writers On…’s Toby Ball and a great panel of experts (coming soon!). Worth checking out - it presents a fairly unvarnished look at the problematic men behind the movie.

That’s all! Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday!