20140930_204847 tracey landau rob brunet maplewood noir


AMBER LOVE 30-SEP-2014 I was happy to have an event an hour driving distance that I could get to where I could see THOMAS PLUCK, ROB BRUNET, and TRACEY LANDAU talk about their mystery novels. I actually got dressed and left my house. Shocking, I know. I even got mistaken for Literary Lush which isn’t a bad thing. She’s swell and we drunks needs to stick together.

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I’ll start by saying that [words] is one of the most beautiful book stores I’ve ever seen. It has a well-lit space with giant windows at the store front welcoming in the pedestrians of their charming Main Street, USA shopping area. I found free parking in a lot around the corner and drooled as I walked up the sidewalk passed several restaurants that smelled amazing. Inside [words] there were plenty of shoppers. I haven’t seen a book store that busy in a very long time and this was a random Tuesday evening. Shoppers milled around eagerly picking up books. One was even on the floor reading peacefully in a nook. There was a fabulous children’s area with seating too. The noir writers were downstairs, perhaps because they’re weird and scary and have been known to shrivel up around happy people.

I wondered if there would be a cement floor and a single dusty lightbulb on a string giving an eerie glow to authors talking about murder. Nope. Dead wrong. The downstairs was carpeted and gorgeous. Bright lights. Rows of chairs covered with the bookmarks and business cards of the speakers. The areas of the walls that didn’t have books, had big professionally made poster boards of author announcements. The three novelists were seated in plush brown upholstered chairs in a cozy staged area. Behind them, a large wooden fireplace mantle was unobtrusively standing in a corner. The “main stage” backdrop was a wall painted a soothing chocolate brown with the [words] logo in massive faux rubber stamp style diagonally across it.


I managed to be creeping down the stairs while my friend Tommy Pluck was beginning his reading of chapter one from his novel, BLADE OF DISHONOR. Pluck gave a solid reading from his story about a particularly valuable sword that is possibly in the wrong hands. He’s an inspiring writer and easy to get along with. You should look him up on Twitter and check out his metro area events like Noir at the Bar.


Next was the novelist so young I immediately felt like crap for not being published and under contract at my age. TRACEY LANDAU said she comes from a creative family of screenwriters and some were there in the audience. Her father is pretty fascinating as the found of Murder to Go mystery parties back in the 1980s. The family business also hosted mystery cruises. Landau gave me even more guilt when she said she wrote her novel QUEEN OF DIAMONDS on the back of receipts while working retail. She reminded me of another friend’s successful daughter, RACHEL TAFOYA who was worked at the Doylestown Bookstore while writing her first novel in her early 20’s. Landau created a protagonist suffering from schizophrenia and her time-jumping abrupt setting shifts were meant to reflect that. She had great presence while speaking, nearly taking on an audio book actor quality to the reading.


Last was ROB BRUNET who was more comfortable reading two sections of his book STINKING RICH than he was as the assigned moderator. Pluck took over the moderating duties seamlessly. Brunet is a Canadian and a crime fiction writer. Naturally, none of us could believe Canada has any crime and it’s clearly a sign of his strong imagination and writing skills. He created characters who aren’t very bright but they’re willing to do some dark things to get the marijuana business moving along. Brunet is touring around America for the fall season so you may get lucky and find him in your neck of the woods.



If you enjoy the laughs and banter of crime writers, Pluck is in charge of the NYC Noir at the Bar. If you’re in Los Angeles, look up Stephen Blackmoore. They’re fun folks to know. I wish I could be there this Sunday but a) I hate going into New York City; b) I’m not really a night person and driving after midnight is no fun; c) this weekend is Superhero Weekend at Comic Fusion so I’ll be peeling out of my spandex and hanging up my utility belt by Sunday evening.


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