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.

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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
3:30PM

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Anglophone Reading and Book Signing
Friday, October 25
8:30PM

Anglophone Panel and Book Signing
Books to Die for: What do Writers Read?
Saturday, October 27
10:30AM

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Bryan Prince Bookseller

The independent bookstore is a cultural and community hub – authors are introduced, works read aloud to an audience and ideas are shared.

Each month, we will be featuring an independent bookstore from across Canada, proving what a special role these shops play in fostering authors, community and a love of reading. For October, we are featuring Bryan Prince Bookseller in Hamilton, Ontario. We got to speak with the lovely co-owners Kerry and Tracey. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

  1. Tell us a little bit about the history of Bryan Prince Booksellers
    Bryan Prince Bookseller was established in 1989 by Bryan Prince who had been partner, for many years, in the Dundas bookstore Chapman & Prince. The store has always maintained a strong community focus, participating in countless events, fundraisers and programs in the greater Hamilton area.

    Tracey Higgins joined the staff as a bookseller in 1990 and Kerry Cranston began her bookselling career in 1994. In 2011 Bryan Prince retired from bookselling and sold the store to Kerry & Tracey, who do their utmost to continue the traditions of the store while adapting to current trends and technology.
  2. What made you want to open a bookstore?
    We love books in all their manifestations. We believe that literacy, creativity and a critical mind are so important in developing a thoughtful, engaged citizenry. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, we are exposing our minds to new ideas and new ways of communication those ideas – we can’t think of many more satisfying careers than fostering and encouraging that process.
  3. What do you like best about your career in books?
    The most satisfying part of being a bookseller is connecting a reader with their new favourite author, or the perfect book to suit their needs.
  4. What does the book-buying public understand least about independent bookstores?
    Most of our customers understand how difficult it can be for independent booksellers to compete with huge corporations and online retailers who are able to greatly discount books. It is very comforting to know that so many of our customers are very loyal to independents and understand the importance of our existence to ensure diversity and local community in the marketplace.
  5. What is the hardest part about being a bookstore owner in 2012?
    The hardest part of being a bookseller right now is the uncertainty of so many things that are completely outside our control: technology trends, the state of the economy and how that effects the average person; fuel & transportation costs, etc.
  6. What types of books does your store stock and/or specialize in?
    Bryan Prince Bookseller is a general bookstore, stocking fiction, nonfiction and children’s books. We have a very good special order service and have recently started to stock French titles.
  7. What are some of your favorite titles? Titles coming out this year?
    Tracey: I have the lost generation classic and am enamoured of the beautiful editions of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. In terms of new books coming our this year, I adored the debut mystery by Deryn Collier, Confined Space, and throughly enjoyed Jian Ghomeshi’s memoir, 1982. I am also very excited to read (when the time presents itself, Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton.)
  8. What are you reading right now?
    Tracey: Right now I’m reading the Booker longlisted novel, Garden of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng and the new Massey lecture by Neil Turok, The Universe Within.
  9. What is your most current best seller? Classic?
    Our current bestseller is Joseph Anton, by Salman Rushdie. In terms of a classic bestseller, it would be a toss-up between Ernest Hemingway and Jane Austen.
  10. What have been some of your favorite (or most memorable) author events?
    One of our most memorable author events was the evening with Robertson Davies and Shyam Selvadurai. It was Shyam’s first reading and Robertson Davies was so kind and gracious with both Shyam Selvadurai and the booksellers from the store. That evening resonated with Tracey every time she rereads one of Robertson Davies’ novels. Aside from that one, the Harry Potter midnight parties were great. They entailed a ridiculous amount of planning and preparation, but worth is all when we saw the hordes of enthusiastic children.
  11. Any strange, wild or crazy-but-true stories?
    It’s an unusual day when we don’t have anyone ask a strange question that has nothing to do with bookselling. One of the more difficult conversations I’ve had, though, was trying to convince a customer that the complete Oxford English Dictionary was not available on audio cassette.
  12. What book are you, or will you, hand-sell with a vengeance?
    This fall there is a wealth of great books to recommend. As the weather cools off, though, mystery lovers are on the hunt for something new & exciting. This fall I will be handselling Confined Space, by Deryn Collier & Crow’s Landing, by Brad Smith.
  13. Is there anything else you would like to tell our blog readers?
    There are lots of things we want people to know about booksellers, but there is one opinion that we encounter that we find disturbing. There seems to be an impression that booksellers are ignoring developments in technology, that we are passionate about books because we aren’t facing up to the future, or somehow defying the inevitable. We are all for reading. We wish everyone would read voraciously in whatever medium best suits their needs. But we also believe that physical books and digital books will find their balance and that we’ll get past this almost desperate frenzy to eliminate every alternative to the digital world.

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 BradSmithBooks.com.