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Personal note from John Verdon to BOTP members

61 HOURS by Lee Child

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June 29, 2010

Personal note from John Verdon to BOTP members

Since you’re a member of this book club, I guess it’s a form of preaching to the choir to tell you that mystery-thrillers can have real substance — and that your fondness for them suggests that you have a lively mind and a strong moral compass.

    I believe that living and growing are about discovery — moving from our original view of something, through a process of conflict and enlightenment, to a clearer view. It’s about figuring out what’s really going on, separating truth from illusion. It’s about what good detectives do in the stories I like the best.

    Great mystery-thrillers are ultimately about real life. They’re about us. They are illuminating exaggerations of the learning we engage in every day. I’ve always felt that the most satisfying stories are those that mirror life’s dangers and tragedies clearly — the foolish risks, the collisions, the frightening unknowns, the hidden evils — and provide sound resolutions.

    Reviewers have described Think of a Number as a nail-biting thriller, an exciting police procedural, a poignant examination of a marriage in trouble. I see it as the story of a smart and troubled good guy locked in a struggle with a smart and troubled bad guy.

    The hero is an intense homicide detective whose attachment to the game creates all the excitement, all the rewards, and most of the problems in his life. He’s a genius when it comes to dealing with maniacs and murderers, but a disaster when it comes to dealing with his wife and son — a fantastic cop shackled by his own ineptitude as a husband and father. I think that sort of central character helps the book become many things to many people.

    I’ve been asked how much of my main character, Dave Gurney, is based on my own history and personality. After all, we were both born in the Bronx and both graduated from Fordham College. We both had high-pressure careers in the city, and we both moved to a remote rural area completely different from what we were accustomed to. And I’ll admit that some of Dave’s thoughts and feelings parallel some of my own. However, he definitely has concerns, talents, and perspectives that are different from mine. I mean, he’s a homicide detective! He has the steeliness, the confrontational abilities for that. He has the stomach, the toughness for it.

    I think I understand Dave Gurney well enough to write about him, but I could never do what he does. I’ve also been blessed with a life far less fraught with trouble and tragedy than his, lighter and brighter in so many ways. My wife and I have been given so many gifts — our life together, the good fortune to live in a beautiful place, lots of laughter, our children, our grandchildren.

    I hope you enjoy Think of a Number — and that all the mysteries you encounter in your own life have satisfying solutions.



Think of a Number by John Verdon - Book Trailer


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April 30, 2010

61 HOURS by Lee Child

The countdown has begun. Get ready for the most exciting 61 hours of your life. #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child’s latest thriller is a ticking time bomb of suspense that builds electric tension on every page.

Sixty-one hours. Not a minute to spare.

Here are the facts:

The hero: “Jack Reacher is the coolest continuing series character now on offer.”
—Stephen King

The situation: A tour bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.

Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed—but so is the woman whose life he’ll risk his own to save.

The opening: “Five minutes to three in the afternoon. Exactly sixty-one hours before it happened.”

What others have said: “Child really is that good at heroic suspense writing.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer



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April 7, 2010

Raffi Yessayan on the Challenges of Writing a Sequel

When I sold my first novel, Eight in the Box, I was excited for about five minutes before I realized I had just signed a two book deal, which meant I had to write a second novel. Between work, marriage, homeownership and life in general, the first book had taken me eight years to write. That was before edits.
There was no pressure when I wrote Eight in the Box. I wrote chapters as they came to me and fit them into my story. I always knew how the book would begin and how it would end, but I pretty much learned the rest of the story along the way. In essence, I moved at my own leisurely pace.

I didn’t have the same luxury of time in writing Two in the Hat. I had an agent and an editor in New York asking me for updates and looking for the finished product. A finished product they had paid me to write. As the deadline approached, I hadn’t written a single scene yet; I had notes (pages and pages of notes) written on yellow legal paper, sticky notes in my car, napkins, the back side of my business cards, whatever I had handy when I got an idea for book two. But they were just notes. Even with established characters, there was no chance of making that one year deadline.

And I was right.

If I was going to make my extended deadline (six extra months!), I needed to be more efficient in my writing. Some time earlier, I had seen Lee Child and Joseph Finder at the New England Crime Bake writers’ conference arguing the issue: to outline or not to outline. I had also heard Andrew Gross advocate for the importance of outlining in writing his novels. I was desperate, so I decided to give outlining a try.

I started writing Two in the Hat with a chapter-by-chapter outline, plotting out the whole novel. First I mapped out the beginning and the ending (which, just as for book one, I already knew). Then I started filling in the rest of the story. Within a few weeks I had more than a hundred chapters mapped out, the entire novel from beginning to end.

Yet, even with an outline, I ran into a larger problem. I learned that the biggest issue with writing a sequel is in striking the proper balance between the interests of new readers as opposed to those of loyal readers who have come back for more. I didn’t want to bore return readers by reintroducing every character (the ones who were still alive anyway) or by rehashing every event that had occurred in Eight in the Box. On the other hand, I didn’t want new readers to be confused about certain characters’ motivations that were shaped by past events.

This, I was to discover, was a recurring problem throughout the process of writing a sequel. Ultimately, I decided to write Two in the Hat as if it were a stand-alone novel. I would simply assume that the reader knew everything that had happened in Eight in the Box. Then, during the editing process, my agent, editor and writers’ group read the book with an eye toward any place where information needed to be added to prevent confusion for new readers. It turned out that very little needed to be added. The story flowed nicely.

I learned the value of outlining and that every novel, even a sequel or a book in a series, needs to stand on its own. If the book is well-written, with strong characters and a good story, then it will hopefully entertain every reader.

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April 5, 2010

Free Chapters from 2 IN THE HAT by Raffi Yessayan

Mixing edgy psychological suspense, hard-boiled realism, and staccato bursts of pulse-quickening action, Raffi Yessayan’s chilling and twisty thrillers will leave you gasping. And 2 IN THE HAT makes another slam-dunk winning case for Yessayan.

Here are the facts:

The hero: Homicide detective Angel Alves

The situation: Memories of the infamous Blood Bath killer still loom large in Boston. So when a pair of students turn up bizarrely slain, Angel Alves fears that another serial killer is stalking the city. Alves and his ex-partner Wayne Mooney must set out to stop grim history from repeating itself. But as they’ll quickly learn, matching wits with a twisted mind is a dangerous game.

The opening:
“George Wheeler felt around with his right foot until he found solid ground. He swung his left foot out of the minivan and tried to stand. It was impossible without the use of his hands, and they were tied behind his back.”

What others have said: “A terrific down-and-dirty crime novel that reeks of street authenticity. I loved it.”
—Dennis Lehane


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March 19, 2010

WATCH THE TRAILER FOR DECEPTION

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March 18, 2010

Free Chapters from DECEPTION by Jonathan Kellerman

Masterly storytelling and expert insight into the darkest of human compulsions make #1 New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels as compelling as they are addictive. And just when you think he has taken his spellbinding tales of mystery and psychological suspense to the limit, with Deception he takes a bold leap into terrifying and uncharted new territory.

Here are the facts:

The hero: Alex Delaware, a post-modern detective of sorts, who relies on his psychological prowess to get to root of his cases.

The situation: Her name is Elise Freeman, and her chilling cry for help—to whoever may be listening—comes too late to save her. On a DVD found near her lifeless body, the emotionally and physically battered woman chronicles a year-and-a-half-long ordeal of monstrous abuse at the hands of three sadistic tormentors.

The opening:
“The woman had haunted eyes. Pale, drooping at the outer edges, they stared into the unseen camera with an odd combination of defiance and defeat”

What others have said: “Kellerman really knows how to keep those pages turning.”
New York Times Book Review


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March 2, 2010

Free Chapters from NEVER LOOK AWAY by Linwood Barclay

In this tense, mesmerizing thriller by Linwood Barclay, critically acclaimed author of Fear the Worst and Too Close to Home, a man’s life unravels around him when the unthinkable strikes.

Here are the facts:

The hero: David Harwood, a small-town reporter in need of a break. A dedicated husband and father.

The situation: A warm summer Saturday. An amusement park. David Harwood is glad to be spending some quality time with his wife, Jan, and their four-year-old son. But what begins as a pleasant family outing turns into a nightmare after an inexplicable disappearance. A frantic search only leads to an even more shocking and harrowing turn of events.

A small sampling:
You can’t get the cuff over his hand?”
How many times do I have to tell you? I’m gonna have to cut it off.”
I thought you said it would take forever to cut the cuff.”
I’m not talking about the cuff.”

What others have said: “If you like Harlan Coben, you’ll love Linwood Barclay.”
—Peter Robinson, author of All the Colors of Darkness


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January 20, 2010

Free Chapters from BLOOD TIES by Kay Hooper

New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper takes us to the outer reaches of fear in her latest thriller, as the Special Crimes Unit finds itself targeted by a monster intent on destroying both Noah Bishop and his people.

Here are the facts:

The situation: It starts with an unspeakable series of grisly murders across three states, a trail of blood leading, finally, to the small Tennessee town of Serenade. There, two more brutal killings lure the Special Crimes Unit into what may be the ultimate trap.

A small sampling: “Hollis nearly jumped out of her skin. She looked up and was angrily aware of the crack in her voice when she demanded, ‘Where the hell did you come from?’”

What others have said: “Kay Hooper keeps me guessing until the very end.”
—Linda Howard

Read an excerpt:

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November 20, 2009

Watch a video with Al Roker

Become a fan of Al Roker on Facebook!
Follow Al on Twitter

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November 20, 2009

WATCH THE TRAILER FOR BREATHLESS

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