Tag Archives: Joseph Finder

Guilty Minds… wheels within wheels

guiltyBestselling author Joseph Finder gave us all another great summer read with Guilty Minds.  Private investigator Nick Heller – known to many Finder fans since 2010, when he made his debut in Vanished – is very good at what he does.  That’s why he’s only a little suspicious when he is contacted by Washington legend Gideon Parnell with an assignment so delicate, and so righteous, that he can’t resist.  He has just 48 hours to ferret out the truth, or the chief justice of the Supreme Court will be falsely revealed to have spent tens of thousands of dollars of dirty money on “dates” with a call girl.  Justice Jeremiah Clafin is as true blue as a boy scout, and the Gawker-esque website will be thrilled to drag him down.

Of course Heller takes the job, and he makes short work of debunking much of the story… poking holes in the evidence and rounding up the call girl in question.  But the bigger question is, why?  The website bit on a juicy story, the reporter with great instincts is mad as hell she was fooled, and a shadowy security firm of ex-cops seems to be somehow involved.  The plot is foiled in record time.  But what could Clafin have done to earn this animus?

And that’s where the wheels within wheels begin to turn, as Heller and reporter Mandy Seeger team up.  When a key witness is murdered, the stakes are raised.  Only when viewed through a new perspective does the question cui bono – who benefits? – reveal the culprit.  As always in a Finder novel, the plot is well-paced, the bad guys and the good guys well-drawn, and the danger feels real but not too dark.  Seeds are sown for a future Heller book, as not all the bad guys are called to justice.  All in all, Guilty Minds is an excellent choice for a lazy afternoon on the back porch swing.




Evil lives at Bouchercon

Two of my three Friday Bouchercon panels featured evil, and I couldn’t have been happier.  Keeping to my commitment of three panels a day, evil was supplemented  with writing, a blog post, and even a visit to the fitness center (yay, me!).

First panel up, Evil Going On, was a hit.  Does evil truly exist?  Panelists were divided and the conversation was hot.  The moderator was the very erudite Reed Farrel Coleman, with panelists including John Connolly, Thomas H. Cook, Peter James, Laura Lippman, and Daniel Woodrell.  I was jazzed for the topic and also for hearing so many of my favorites.  Some key thoughts:

  1. There are two schools of thought about evil: nature (person is born irretrievably flawed and does evil things) vs. nurture (bad things done to child twist him, now he does evil things).
  2. The motivation for evil is often selfishness.  Rationalization plays its part.
  3. There is a trend today toward complicated protagonists, who may do wrong in order to achieve justice.
  4. Addressing the evil of man in a book is one thing – addressing it in real life, when there is risk and danger, is another.

The “evil” trend continued with the Dark Angel panel, where Chris Holm, Bill Cameron, Blake Crouch, Leighton Gage, Theresa Schwegel and Michael Wiley discussed morally challenged heroes.   Ideas generated:

  1. Noir heroes tend to be morally challenged.
  2. A corrupt setting leads to a hero who has to bend the rules but still seeks justice.
  3. Heroes can be moral in one way – the good cop – and immoral in another way – having an affair.
  4. Immoral?  Amoral?  Or moral ambiguity?  Discuss.

The final panel of the day was perhaps the least directly instructive – no notes on ideas of things to do – but the most fun.  It was moderated by the witty and endearing Joseph Finder with a panel of articulate and passionate women, including Laurie R. King, Laura Lippman, Val McDermid and S.J. Rozan.

Absolutely the most fun hour I’ve spent at Bouchercon, and included anecdotes related to a smack-down between Val and Ian Rankin, Laura Lippman’s husband’s work on the TV show Treme, S.J. Rozan’s dream basketball team, and Laurie King’s endeavor to let Holmes age, but never die.  Photo here is Val McDermid, who is fun and witty, and everything she says sounds even better because of her rich Scottish accent.  I looked for a photo of her wearing devil/angel garb.  No go.

I got to ask the question “What new authors are you reading now that you would recommend?”  Here’s the list.  Go buy some books.

  1. Gillian Flynn
  2. Megan Abbott
  3. Lisa Lutz
  4. Sarah Grand
  5. Lindsay Faye
  6. M.J. McGrath
  7. Stuart Neville
  8. Taylor Stevens
  9. Nathan Larson