Get your crime, here!

The world of mystery writing is a deep and winding one, with one author leading you to the next and genres spilling into one another.

It’s easy to find one author you love and go from there, but how do you discover brand new authors, unique and varied in their style?

The QuebeCrime Festival offers an opportunity to hear authors read from and discuss their work. This year’s event is happening from October 25-27 — submerse yourself and emerge with a list of new writers, genres and a gang of other mystery-loving readers.

While you’re there, be sure to check out Brad Smith, Robert Pobi and John Connolly — event details, below.


Living the Double Life: to Work and to Write

Saturday, October 27
3:30 PM EST

Anglophone Reading and Book Signing
Friday, October 26

8:30PM EST

Living the Double Life: to Work and to Write
Saturday, October 27


Anglophone Reading and Book Signing
Friday, October 25

Anglophone Panel and Book Signing
Books to Die for: What do Writers Read?
Saturday, October 27

The Placebo Effect

What would you do if you had the gift of being able to detect whether or not people were telling the truth? Would you use it to your advantage or would you keep your secret hidden? What if your secret power was potentially causing harm to those you loved?

These are the issues faced by Decker Roberts in David Rotenberg’s new novel The Placebo Effect, first in The Junction Chronicles series.

Here’s a little bit more about the book…

Decker Roberts has the dangerous gift of detecting the truth. For years this talent has proven to be a lucrative sideline to his acting teaching. Only his closest friends know, and he keeps his identity secret from the companies that pay him to tell them if the people they are planning to hire are truthful.

But Decker’s carefully compartmentalized life suddenly starts to fall apart. His house burns down, his credit cards are cancelled, his bank loan is called and his studio is condemned. He realizes that he must have heard something in one of his ‘truth telling’ sessions that someone didn’t want him to know.

Decker has to go on the run and figure out what he’s being targeted. There’s also a government agent hunting him who seems to know absolutely everything about Decker Roberts’ identities, real and false–and other people of “his kind.”

How will Decker find out which truth is endangering his life? Who betrayed him and revealed all his secrets? Decker needs to find answers quickly, before knowing the truth turns from a gift into a deadly curse.

The topic of synaesthesia is dealt with in this book. It is something I’d heard of but never really understood until now. It lends a very interesting, very real quality to some of the more fantastical things that happen.

In addition to being an author, David Rotenberg is also a director and acting teacher and is the Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Professional Actors Lab. The roster of his students reads like a who’s who in ranks of Canadian actors, including Scott Speedman, Rachel McAdams, James McGowan, Polly Shannon, David Hirsh, Jonas Chernick and Shawn Doyle. You will notice the theme of acting and acting methods also feature prominently in the novel.

Here are what people are saying about The Placebo Effect

“I think it’s fantastic. Right, taut, lean, exciting, thrilling, really.” -Jurgen Gothe, CBC host & newspaper columnist

“…great storytelling, juicy characters, and a wonderful theatricality.” -Marc Routh, Broadway producer

“Kept me on my toes and awaiting the next turn of events.” – Erin Karpluk, actress and star of “Being Erica”

You can visit for more info about the author, his other books, and to read an excerpt. There’s also a reading group guide available here.

We are hosting a blogger tour for David and The Placebo Effect starting January 16th. Check out the following blogs on their corresponding dates for exclusive Q&A’s with the author and reviews.

Canadian Authors-Jan 16

Mysteries and More-Jan 18

BookBound-Jan 20

Workaday Reads-Jan 25

Beyond Books-Jan 27

Wicked Little Pixie-Jan 30

Wagging the Fox-Feb 1

The Crazy Bookworm-Feb 3

Serendipitous Readings-Feb 6

Purple Jelly Bean Chair Reviews-Feb 7

The Placebo Effect is in stores February 7th.

Ten Reasons Why Books Make the Best Gifts (well, after puppies and private islands)

1)      Because other than those sparkly pencils and key chains with peoples’ names on them, books are one of the best gifts that you can find a uniquely suited one for every person on your list

2)      Because you don’t need to poke holes in the box so the book can breathe

3)      Because they are easier to wrap than a football or bicycle

4)      Because you can do all of your shopping in one spot

5)      Because you don’t have to feed them, plug them in, or put batteries in them

6)      Because “They have whole worlds inside them, and it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” –Neil Gaiman

7)      Because you can even find one for the person who has everything

8)      Because they never come in the wrong colour, size or style

9)      Because they don’t need to be assembled

10)   Because it shows the recipient that you took the time to think about who they are and what they are interested in

So what’s the trick? Picking the right book. Luckily for you, I have some suggestions for everyone on your holiday gift list.

For the Hockey Lover

Double Overtime

Double Overtime by Stephen Cole

Full of fun facts, crazy yet true stories, and chalk full pictures, this book is for every hockey fan of every team (even if you the gift-buyer don’t know anything about hockey!)

For the (New) Baker

 Baking with the Cake Boss

Baking with the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro

Buddy, from TLC’s smash hit Cake Boss, is back with another book. For the novice baker, this book starts with the basics of baking – the simple yet noble sugar cookie – and advances to fantastically intricate themed cakes for home-baking pros.  This is one gift that both the recipient and the giver are bound to benefit from!

For the Extraordinary Women in Your Life

 The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Strong, brave, resourceful, sensuous, caring, and giving – these are just some of the used words to describe the women of The Dovekeepers. A masterpiece that was five years in the making, the author of Practical Magic tells the beautiful and harrowing tale of four Jewish women in 70 C.E. Masada, Israel.

For Lovers of  iAnything

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs – the man who changed the world, whether we like it or not. Walter Isaacson’s biography, the only authorized biography of the Apple co-founder and innovator, tells the story of this intense personality whose drive for perfection can be seen in every one of his products and serves as a rollercoaster tale of ambition, obsessions, compulsion, creativity and innovation.

For Your Daughter, Niece or Little Sister

Dork Diaries Box Set

Dork Diaries Box Set by Rachel Renee Russell

This super popular series chronicles the oh-so-fabulous life of Nikki Maxwell as she navigates the halls of middle school, mean girls, BFF drama and first crushes. These spunky, funny, and relatable books are perfect for tween girl readers (and best of all, they are PG-rated so you don’t have to worry about your 11-year old niece reading vampire/immortal love scenes!).

For Almost Anyone (really, who doesn’t read Stephen King?)


11/22/63 by Stephen King

The incredible Stephen King is back in a brand new way. In 11/22/63, King tells the ultimate “What If?” story. What if you could go back in time and change history? King’s suspenseful and riveting tale of time travel to one of America’s most epic periods in history will have readers on the edge of their seats until the last page is turned.

The New YA Must-Have

 Clockwork Prince

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

With so many YA vampire/werewolf/warlock/immortal, etc, etc, etc books out there, it’s hard for the discerning gift-giver to know which one to choose for the teen on their list. Well look no further – Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series left young women begging for another adventure to go on, bad-boy to drool over, and smart, brave girl to read about, and with the second of the Infernal Devices series, Clare delivers.

For the 20-something Student

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides)

 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by Matthew Inman

Perfect for the quirky-humored, google-searching  20-something, 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) offers up 4 Reasons to Carry a Shovel at All Times, 6 Types of Crappy Hugs, 8 Ways to Tell if Your Loved One Plans to Eat You, 17 Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat, and 20 Things Worth Knowing About Beer.

Literary Non-Fiction

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean

If you can’t get someone a puppy for Christmas, get this book instead. Rin Tin Tin has been getting rave reviews and for good reason. Whether you love dogs, old Hollywood, the entrepreneurs behind entertainment, biographies, history, or just a wonderfully written story, Rin Tin Tin delivers.

For the Book Club Lover

The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Witchcraft, royalty, betrayal and passion, The Lady of the Rivers delivers it all. This book, to be enjoyed in front of a fireplace and with a cup of tea, is sure to keep your favorite aunt, sister or friend company this holiday season.

Brain Food

Grand Pursuit

Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar

In this epic yet readable narrative modern economics, Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind, tells the of how activist thinkers like Marx, Sydney Fisher, Irving Fisher, and Milton Friedman transformed not just the Western world, but the entire planet.

The New Children’s Classic

The Man in the Moon

 The Man in the Moon by William Joyce

“Meet the very first guardian of childhood, MiM, the Man in the Moon.” A beautiful and tender story of love, adventure, and enchantment, The Man in the Moon, will capture hearts both young and old.

Red means run, son…

Have you heard Neil Young’s Powderfinger? If not, give it a listen. The song and, in particular, the line “red means run, son, numbers add up to nothin’…” was Brad Smith’s inspiration for the title of the first book in his country noir mystery series (releasing January 2012). The foreboding tone of the line soon coalesces into a strong and pulsing plot. Virgil Cain, a hard working farmer (attractive in a Paul Newman-sort-of-way and always ready to help a friend, or a horse) is accused of murder when a man to whom he is negatively connected is discovered with a golf club skewered into his chest.

Virgil’s need to prove his innocence and his country-boy practicality leads him to escape from the court house where he’s being held and flee towards evidentiary support. The scene in which he escapes is a good one, humorous in its simplicity. The image below is of the author, Brad Smith. He is peering into the prison yard behind a court house upon which he based this scene. You’ll have to read the book, for the details on this one.

As a small-town girl, this novel appeals to me on many levels. I will happily read about a man hiding himself amongst hay and sneaking back onto his farm to water his horses. I also find much beauty and truth in the solidarity of small-town friendships, which Brad clearly writes from experience. If you’re a fan of Neil Young and Hank Williams, if you like crime fiction with a darker edge, like works by Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane or James Lee Burke, then I think you’ll like this one.

A few of us went down to Brad’s farmhouse in the country, near the north shore of Lake Erie, to film a trailer for Red Means Run under the direction of  a very cool and talented filmmaker. Just wait until you see it.

Here are some behind-the-scenes shots:

The Crew:

The getaway car:

 Brad defining “country noir”:

FQ (photographer) defining “country noir”:

Publisher’s Weekly says of Red Means Run, “Smith (Busted Flush) eschews pyrotechnics in favor of character in this assured crime novel, the first in a new series set in upstate New York.”

Check out the final product

Film by Adam Vollick.

Find Brad Smith on Facebook and visit his website at

Cottage reading at its best

Everyone knows the type of book I’m about to describe. The kind that propels you forward, the kind that you skip lunch to continue reading, the kind that once you’ve finished it in the wee hours of the morning you’re a little wary to turn out all the lights.

If you haven’t already heard of award-winning author William Kent Krueger and his Cork O’Connor novels then read on. 

William Kent Krueger

Krueger’s critically acclaimed mystery series featuring private detective Cork O’Connor is nail-biting suspense at its best. Set in the a natural landscape, Krueger has a gift for transporting the reader directly into the wilderness he describes. The suspense he creates builds slowly and propels you forward, while the emotional qualities of the characters lend credibility to the story. In fact many of the locations he describes sound so much like cottage country you’d think he was talking about Muskoka!

I just finished reading an advance copy of Krueger’s upcoming novel  Northwest Angle. The Northwest Angle is a geographic anomaly. A small triangle of American territory completely isolated from the rest of Minnesota, cut off from the United States by sixty miles of Canadian wilderness and the vast, mysterious waters of Lake of the Woods. This remote area is the location Cork O’Connor has chosen for a houseboat vacation with his family. When a violent gale sweeps unexpectedly across the lake, stranding him and his daughter Jenny on a devastated island, Cork discovers that the wind has ushered in a force far darker and more deadly than any storm.


We gave some of our loyal readers the chance to review Northwest Angle and here’s what they had to say:

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger.  I found the book to be easy to read and hard to put down.  Each time I picked up the book I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to see what would happen next.” –Paula, Winnipeg, MB

“I had not read any of this author’s works before and I must say that I am very happy to have been introduced to his work.  Not only did I thoroughly enjoy this novel, I was impressed with his inclusion of language and Native American culture.  Being Native American myself, I felt that I learned a lot from Mr. Krueger. I have read novels in the past of Native American fiction, but as a reader, I was able to insert myself into the feeling of the storyline and looked forward each evening to relaxing with Northwest Angle.  Mr. Krueger is excellent at keeping the reader’s full attention!”
–Sandra, Beaconsfield, QC

“I just finished reading the advance reader’s copy of Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger. It is the first of his novels that I have read and it definitely will not be the last. This book was filled with suspense from the beginning and did not let up until the end. It had everything that I like in a book – suspense, drama, mystery, love. It was a great read and hard for me to put it down.” –Audrey, Halifax, N.S.

So pick up a copy, stretch out on a dock chair and dive in….just don’t forget to lock the cottage door at night!

William Kent Krueger discusses the inspiration behind Northwest Angle

Check out Krueger’s website for more info about his other novels

Northwest Angle is available in stores August 30th.

More titles available in the Cork O’Connor series, click for info