It’s no mystery that readers love whodunits, and this year’s Texas Book Festival has a variety of events to showcase the mystery and crime genres. If you love blood, crime scenes, shady characters and yellow police tape, be sure to see these authors.
SATURDAY, OCT. 26
At 10 a.m., Joyce Maynard will discuss her new novel, After Her, in Capitol Extension Room E2.012. After her father fails to crack the case of the “Sunset Strangler”—a serial killer who leaves the bodies of his female victims on a mountain in Northern California—protagonist Rachel uses herself as bait in an attempt to catch the killer, but instead ruins her father’s career and changes the lives of everyone around her. Thirty years later, Rachel tries again to catch the Strangler, but ends up discovering a transformative family secret.
Barnes & Noble’s “Discover Great New Writers” presentation, in the Lone Star Tent at 10 a.m., features Justin St. Germain, whose latest is a memoir titled Son of a Gun. When his mother is murdered by her fifth husband when Justin is 21, his life is split into Before and After. Years later, unanswered questions about his mother’s life and the horrific crime take St. Germain back to confront the people of his past.
At 1 p.m., join Kathleen Kent and Joe R. Lansdale in Capitol Extension Room E2.012 for a panel titled “Wild Wild West.” Kent’s latest novel, The Outcasts (see the Observer‘s review here), combines the suspense of a classic murder mystery with the enduring romance of a love story. After escaping the Texas Gulf Coast brothel where she’d been imprisoned, Lucinda Carter embarks on a journey to Middle Bayou to meet her lover. Meanwhile, Nate Cannon, a young Texas policeman, hunts for a ruthless killer named McGill. The Outcasts is a portrait of a woman determined to make a new life for herself. Lansdale recently published The Thicket, a potboiler in which protagonist Jack enlists a ragtag band of bounty hunters to chase the bandits who killed his grandfather and kidnapped his sister.
At 1:30 p.m., make your way to The Sanctuary at First United Methodist Church (1201 Lavaca, enter from Lavaca St.) for “Mediums: Stories in Print and in Picture.” This panel features Jeff Lindsay, whose character Dexter Morgan now has a life of his own on Showtime’s hit series Dexter. In Lindsay’s latest novel featuring the vigilante killer, actor Robert Chase becomes fixated on Dexter while researching a role. Joining Lindsay will be George Pelecanos, who’s been called America’s greatest living crime writer. In his new book, The Double, a woman turns to detective Spero Lucas to help her recover a painting stolen by her ex-boyfriend. After landing the case, Lucas has to decide how far he’s willing to go to get what he wants—and what kind of man he wants to be.
At 1:45 p.m., join Justin St. Germain and David Berg for “Violence in the Family” in Capitol Extension Room E2.030. Both authors will be discussing their memoirs, both of which focus on brutal murders within their families.
At “On the Fringe,” which takes place at 2:30 p.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.030, hear Neal Pollack discuss Open Your Heart, his second Matt Bolster detective novel. After solving the mystery of guru Ajoy Chatterjee’s untimely demise, Bolster begins to see growing attendance in his Los Angeles yoga classes. In this satire of “sex-drenched yoga culture,” Pollack explores the intersection of loving enlightenment and the darker side of human nature.
At 2:45 p.m., join the discussion in Capitol Extension Room E2.028 with “Texas Mystery Writers,” featuring George Wier and Julia Heaberlin. Wier, an East Texas native currently living and writing in Austin, will discuss his latest novel, Long Fall from Heaven, in which a pair of former cops sets out to solve a string of grisly murders in Galveston—a locale whose ins and outs Wier knows like few others. Heaberlin’s latest is Lie Still, a suspense novel built around a stalking case in fictional Clairmont, Texas.
SUNDAY, OCT. 27
Start your day at 11:45 a.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.016 with Anne Hillerman, who continues her late father Tony’s Leaphorn and Chee mystery series with Spider Woman’s Daughter, in which a skillful detective in Navajo country digs up new details on a cold case.
Young readers will be lining up to see Lemony Snicket at 12:15 p.m. in the Capitol’s House Chamber, where the mysterious author will discuss his latest “All the Wrong Questions” book, When Did You See Her Last? In this new offering, apprentice Lemony Snicket must solve the case of the missing Cleo Knight, but with an incompetent mentor and a neverending web of mystery, can Snicket find the girl? Or is that, once again, the wrong question?
Join Jean-Christophe Valtat in Capitol Extension Room E2.030 for “The Known Unknown” at 1:30 p.m. Valtat’s latest novel is Luminous Chaos: A Novel, the second book in the author’s steampunk adventure series The Mysteries of New Venice, hailed by The Guardian as a “magnificent achievement.” Luminous Chaos tells the story of Lillian Lake and Gabriel D’Allier’s brief travel through time, from 1907 New Venice to 1895 Paris. After arriving in the past, the duo is thrust into an exciting murder-mystery adventure steeped in anarchism and Parisian history.
Cap the day with “Border Fiction” at 3 p.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.012, featuring Adam Mansbach and Michael Glasscock. In Glasscock’s Utopia, Texas, grumpy husband and game warden Monty Kilpatrick finds himself in a war with drug lord Juan Diaz in his quiet South Texas town. Mansbach’s latest is The Dead Run, in which young girls start disappearing and bodies begin to surface on either side of the Mexican-American border. Meanwhile, an American who finds himself in a Mexican prison must deliver a box to a cult leader … a box containing the beating heart of a virgin.