“The Queen of Patpong” and “Judgment and Wrath” by William Morrow

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There big fall event for fans of mysteries, detective novels and gritty thrillers Bouchercon By The Bay is coming to San Francisco this October. With daily panels, speakers and interviews there are literally dozens of opportunities to learn more about your favorite authors and characters.

At Bouchercon you can meet superstars like Lee Child (creator of Jack Reacher), Joe Finder (the best selling Nick Heller novels including Vanished), David Hewson (the Nic Costa’s series and more), and talk with charming newcomers like Matt Hilton (see review below),

The event opens with movie night, Wed October 13, and closes with the Anthony Awards brunch on Sunday morning the 17th. My bet for the hot ticket? Lee Child’s Reacher Creature party Friday night.


Registration $195

Day Pass $75

If you’ve ever wonder what it is like to be a writer, Bouchercon is a great place to find out.  On his website and in his newsletter, Timothy Hallinan, author of the Poke Rafferty thrillers, gives readers an inside look at the kind of things you will hear.

Here’s my favorite example.

“Novelists almost never write the book they set out to write.  With all the energy they possess, they tell their characters what to do, aiming for those big plot reversals or that unforgettable climax that seemed so sure fire when the idea for the book first came to them.

And guess what?  Something better comes along.  A character says, “I want to go over there,” and 50 pages later the writer finds him/herself off the map.  Control freaks will try to force the geography, but those of us who have been there before usually take our hands off the wheel and let the characters drive.  The richest territory is sometimes the farthest off the map.

As I accumulate years, I realize that I should be writing my life more like I write my books.  Sure, there are goals and to-do lists, but I’m learning that sticking out my chin and marching forward is the surest way to invite an uppercut.  I’m coming to think that the best strategy is to develop what skills I can, decide on my goals, and improvise.”

This approach to fiction works beautifully in his newest book, “The Queen of Patpong” (William Morrow $24.99 312 pages, www.timothyhallinan.com).

A few quick hits.

  • Learn will more about Thailand and Thai people than you could from any tour book. And have fun doing it.


  • Gritty, sad, but with an overlay of hope and love.
  • All the excitement of touring Patpong. None of the risk.

In “Queen,” Hallinan enchantingly captures the life of a Bangkok bar girl. You get everything from seedy sex and dismal poverty to the innocent and sometimes cynical search for love. His writing shows us that striving for love, hope and family isn’t limited by blood, culture, wealth, religion or anything else. Its universal … From the poorest Bangkok bar girl to the richest most desirable people in the world, all we really want is love, family and acceptance.

Queen is “Enlightening, Educational and Hugely Entertaining.”

“Judgment and Wrath” by Matt Hilton (William Morrow, $24.99, 340pages, www.matthiltonbooks.com).

OK. Enough about the seedy international sex. Let’s move on to Grit-Lit’s favorite theme –lone tough guys who fight the good fight and win against long odds. Hilton’s Joe Hunter is one of our new favorites. Former military man turned problem solver, Hunter has moved to Florida searching for a new, quieter life.

And while he may want to fade into the warm sun, you can hear Grit-Lit fans in the background screaming, “No! No! No Joe! You’re too good. We need you. We want you. Fight some more!”

Thankfully Hunter does, taking on Dantalion a cruelly complex contract killer. A villain that Ian Fleming would have been proud to have penned.

Hilton and Hallinan have worked hard to create exciting, entertaining stores. Spending your hard earned cash on them would be a vote of respect. A vote they’ve earned.

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