Mystery Scene Magazine

At the Scene, August 2011                        Solving the mystery of what to read next!
In this Issue
Greetings from Kate
Lisa Unger on the Dark Side
5 International Thrillers
Jason Starr's The Pack
MS Weekly Book Giveaway
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August Greetings

Lisa Unger on 3 Doors to the Dark Side, 5 Foreign Film Thrillers, Jason Starr's The Pack, and Mystery Scene's Weekly Summer Book Giveaway.  


Summer #120 is on newsstands now and available for purchase at our website.


Hi everyone,


Summer is sure speeding along! But that's okay because we have lots to look forward to this autumn, including Bouchercon 2011 in St. Louis, Sept. 15-18. This convention may travel from city to city each year but it's always a homecoming for mystery fans as they greet friends, talk books, meet writers, shop, and attend a myriad of events.


And Brian and I are thrilled to be this year's Fan Guests of Honor. To celebrate, we hope you'll come see the


Mystery Scene Panel on Friday, Sept. 16th at 2:30 p.m. Along with Oline Cogdill, Bill Crider, Dick Lochte, and Art Taylor, we'll be discussing reviewing, trends in publishing, and great books, film and TV shows. This is a well-read, enthusiastic and opinionated bunch so I think you'll be entertained!  


May the rest of your summer be cool, relaxed and full of wonderful books. See you in September!



Kate Stine



Kate Stine 
Mystery Scene publishers Brian Skupin and Kate Stine are Fan Guests of Honor at the 2011 Bouchercon.
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William Kent Krueger, Northwest Angle 
Lisa Unger on 3 Doors to the Darkside
Truman Capote, Daphne Du Maurier, Mary Shelley  

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca

Like most writers, I have always been an avid reader. And my tastes in fiction, like my imagination, always tended toward darkness. But in my early attempts as a writer, I didn't explore the places that mesmerized me. My suburban, middle-class life was not especially dark. On my literary journey, three books acted as portals, offering me a passage into the dark side of human nature - not just as a reader but as a writer.


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

I love Truman Capote for his gorgeous prose and clear-eyed insight into the sad, frail human heart. Stunningly different from his novellas and short stories, In Cold Blood is a searing and disturbing account of the brutal murder of a Kansas family, as well as an unflinching psychological profile of their killers. Reading In Cold Blood, I was in turn fascinated, revolted and inspired. I knew after reading it that writing about crime was synonymous with writing about the human condition, and that it could be done with breathless beauty.


Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

I read Rebecca and was swept away by the powerful voice, the gut-wrenching suspense and the dark, twisted love story at its center. I was transported into the narrator's gothic world, could visualize each room of Manderley, and see the awful Mrs. Danvers lurking in dim hallways. There was something gripping about a very ordinary girl being drawn into a nightmare (a theme I find again and again in my own work.)  I've been addicted to thrillers with big themes and living, breathing characters - as a reader and as a writer - ever since.


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Shelley) was just 18 years old in 1816 when she wrote Frankenstein. She and Percy Bysshe Shelley visited Lord Byron and spent a dreary summer trapped indoors by winter caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora. (Imagine!) She wrote in the preface of the 1831 edition, "How I, then a young girl, came to think of and then dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?"  How indeed? This rich, gothic tale, was so human and so sad, so violent and frightening. I understood in reading it that I wasn't the first girl less intrigued by roses than by thorns.


I am fascinated by human nature and by motivations, by the idea of actions and consequences, and how people behave in extreme circumstances.   Each of these books explore that territory in unique and gripping ways, and each of them offered me permission to open the creaking door and step inside.



Lisa Unger's Darkness, My Old Friend

Lisa Unger's latest
book is Darkness, My Old Friend (Crown, August 2011).

"Writers on Reading" is a special ongoing Mystery Scene series available as a first look exclusive to our newsletter subscribers. 
Mystery Scene Hangman  



R. L. Stine and James Rollins at ThrillerFest 2011

2011 Thrillermaster R.L. Stine (left) being interviewed by James Rollins at the 2011 ThrillerFest.


"I killed off so many teenagers. I kept

killing 'em and killing 'em off and I wondered,

'Why am I enjoying this so much?'

And then I realized, I had one at home." 



- R.L. Stine speaking about his Young Adult series Fear Street

at ThrillerFest VI in New York City, July 8, 2011.



5 International Thrillers
MS recommends favorites from foreign directors

The Secret in Their Eyes

Summer is the season of big Hollywood action thrillers, but for an interesting change of pace MS recommends flicks from around the globe. Read the full article and watch clips at


High and Low (Japan, 1963)

Dir: Akira Kurosawa


Le Samourai (France, 1967)
Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville  


Insomnia (Norway, 1997)

Dir: Erick Skjoldbjaerg

Run Lola Run (Germany, 1998)
Dir: Tom Tykwer

The Secret in Their Eyes 
(Argentina, 2009)
Dir: Juan Jose Campanella

Read the full article and watch clips at


The Dog Days of Summer
A howling good thriller from Jason Starr

Jason Starr, The PackThe Pack 

by Jason Starr 

Ace, June 2011, $25.95 


Jason Starr smoothly combines downsizing, economic woes, and marital problems to make The Pack an allegory of modern times and not just a tale about werewolves roaming the New York City streets. Despite its roots in urban fantasy, Starr keeps the realism intact in the debut of his first series. 


Simon Burns goes to work one day expecting a promotion in his job as an account manager at a Midtown Manhattan ad agency. Simon hopes the promotion-and the extra money that comes with it-will allow his wife, Alison, to cut back her work hours and get their marriage back on track. Instead of a promotion, though, Simon is fired on the spot. While he is looking for a new job, Alison convinces Simon to be a stay-at-home dad to three-year-old Jeremy. It' s a role he' s not well suited for until he takes Jeremy to a playground where he meets three other fathers - Michael, Charlie, and Ramon - who are there with their children. The children love playing with each other and Simon finds his time around this trio makes him feel better about himself. But after a guys' night out, Simon has a nightmare about murdering a man and wakes up to find he is naked in the woods of New Jersey. Soon Simon is having dark visions that coincide with his heightened sense of taste, smell and hearing. Simon begins to believe the trio has an agenda beyond friendship. 


Starr skillfully shapes Simon as a man adrift in his life - he needs validation for his life and to forget his humiliation over being fired. His need for friendship and belonging play on his insecurities, making him susceptible to his newfound friends' influence. Starr takes Simon from a person who lacks passion to a man of action. The Pack moves briskly through the streets of Manhattan to the warehouses of Brooklyn. A slam-bang confrontation in which Simon faces off against the pack is edge-of-the-seat reading, though the final scene is oddly anticlimactic. This series debut show great potential, I'll be looking for Simon's next outing. - Oline H. Cogdill



Missed Our Summer Reviewers Recommends?
Read earlier recommendations from the MS contributors and reviewers here.


Post a Readers Recommend to the MS Facebook Wall and Win a Free Book
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Mystery Scene is giving away a free book to one Facebook follower a week for the rest of the summer, now through September 22, 2011!

To be entered just post on your own favorite read to the MS Wall and you'll be entered to win a free book. We'll choose one recommendation each week and send the winner a return recommendation based on what they've written.

So tell us what you're reading!

To enter, simply  Post a Readers Recommend on the MS Facebook Wall. We'll choose one winning recommendation each week now through September 22, 2011.

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