Jeff Mannix   

Jeff Mannix is the owner and operator of Santa Rita Ranch and Santa Rita Press in Durango, CO. Jeff has been writing performance art and book reviews, as well as feature articles, for more than 20 years. Murder Ink, now in the Durango Telegraph online, has been his column for the past 3 years.

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Stolen Things: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524744908
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton - August 20th, 2019

 Jeffrey Mannix - 10/03/2019

It’s always exciting to come across a debut novelist with a quality book to show for all the anxiety and waves of incredulity that go into such an audacious act of actually writing a book. Writing a book – especially a book of fiction that depends on making up a long story with believable characters and a beginning, middle and end – is at once cathartic and terrifying. Like the standup comic “whose monstrous ego is matched only by the abject conviction that he stinks,” writing for others has the specter of always being a step away from ignominious failure. And the freshman novelist must be rhapsodized if she can illuminate a path through a dark sky that was a moment before nothing. MORE...

Throw Me to the Wolves Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620401514
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - April 23rd, 2019

Today I’d like to introduce a book of crime fiction that really has no equal and that blindsided me into a literary-induced coma from sunset to sunrise. Throw Me to the Wolves, by Patrick McGuinness, was released last April and circulated down my stack of forthcoming releases because of its hideous cover and the books already queued for reading. Serious readers like myself are loathe to admit that a book’s dust-cover has any influence on us (it’s even cliche? that you can’t tell a book by its cover), but with a gun at our temple, we’d all admit that we have chosen and avoided books because of their covers. So, in my process of screening new books to bring real artistry to “Murder Ink,” I picked up Throw Me to the Wolves to give it the compulsory dozen pages before it followed its cover onto my donation pile with the other books that don’t live up to the hype. MORE...

The Bird Boys Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947627130
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Cinco Puntos Press - August 20th, 2019

We’re back with another world-beater from heroic Cinco Puntos Press, the varicolored storefront publisher in the Five Points (Cinco Puntos) section of El Paso. Husband and wife Bobby and Lee Byrd have been publishing literature there since 1985 – 130 books, about 15 a year. MORE...

The Chain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316531269
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - July 9th, 2019

Adrian McKinty is one of those rare writers who creates characters and dreams up stories that are consistently real and sizzling. He was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles, and the viciousness of those times informs his noir procedurals. MORE...

Those People Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451489142
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - June 11th, 2019

Great Britain’s celebrated crime fiction writer Louise Candlish specializes in claustrophobia. Not the fear of small places, but the fear of being trapped in your own mind with circumstances squeezing relentlessly until you’re going to explode or kill somebody. MORE...

Girl Gone Missing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947627116
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Cinco Puntos Press - June 18th, 2019

We’ll be under the radar with today’s “Murder Ink” book. But I’m counting on loyal readers to delight in finding the undiscovered treasure all adventurers know is waiting in plain sight, where few find themselves or are too snow-blind to see. MORE...

Cemetery Road: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062824615
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - March 5th, 2019

It’s going to cost you five cents a page to read Greg Iles’ 590-page cloth-bound Cemetery Road, released a month ago today. But when you figure it costs 27 cents a cigarette, five bucks for a rolled joint and $6 for a glass of wine, a nickel a page for Iles’ big-screen doorstop will be a bargain if you’re looking for some time off from the bewildering state of world affairs. Cemetery Road is a luscious story built by a writer who knows how to use the English language. MORE...

Article 353: A Novel Cover Image
By Tanguy Viel, William Rodarmor (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781590519332
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press - March 12th, 2019

“Even the laughing terns perched on the sharp ridges of the few distant rocks jutting above the horizon seemed to think that what had just happened was normal, I mean a guy falling into cold water and trying to swim fully dressed, gasping and yelling to me for help ... I could already sense that even the seagulls, looking as white and cold as nurses because they never blink, even the seagulls approved.” MORE...

Trigger (Frank Marr #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316264259
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mulholland Books - February 12th, 2019

I’ve got a real sleeper for you in this month’s “Murder Ink.” If you’ve become an aficionado of what can arguably be called “literary” crime fiction – the fare offered exclusively in “Murder Ink” columns – Trigger, David Swinson’s new book to be released by Mulholland Books on Feb. 12, will be below your standards, at least for the first 50 pages or so. After which it will be like straightening out the cut lines and nibbling the rest of the lemon merengue pie at three o’clock in the morning. MORE...

The Burglar Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802129000
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mysterious Press - January 8th, 2019

Thomas Perry’s new fiction, The Burglar, will be released next Tues., Jan. 8, and you should stop reading right now and call Maria’s Bookshop to hold a copy or get on the list at the library. Do it now, before you have to wait three months to read one of the most exciting books for which you will skip meals, showers, sex and call in sick to finish reading. MORE...

Pulse: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062443038
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - October 23rd, 2018

The publicity release that came with my advance reader copy opened with “(Harvey) dares to take the traditional crime novel into the realm of the supernatural.” That’s all I needed to hear before putting the book onto a pile someday going to a rest home. I don’t do supernatural, and I apologize for feeling that way to those who adore the ilk. But, I am certain that with proper guidance and a slug or puff of suspension-of-disbelief, I would adore the immersion in time and space, as I did once upon a time for sci fi. MORE...

The Ruin: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143133124
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - July 3rd, 2018

There’s nothing yelling to be heard in November crime fiction, and that gives me a chance to feature a few titles that should have been called to your attention these past few months but were eclipsed by other exceptional books. It’s always chancy for even the best of writers to come up with another book worthy of their reputation. Joe Ide, for instance, blew us all away with his debut IQ back in March 2017 but then did a face plant trying to keep with his next two hurry-up books, Righteous and Wrecked, the latter released a few
weeks ago. MORE...

November Road: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062663849
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - October 9th, 2018

Every once in a while, I get a hold of something that’s beyond compare, something so nearly perfect that the French in their fastidiousness for language have a word for it: nonpareil. There is such a book being released by William Morrow on Oct. 9. And as we’re nearing the end of the year, I have to say that November Road, by Lou Berney, will be among the few “Murder Ink” books vying for my “Book of the Year” pick. (Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke comes right to mind, as does IQ by Joe Ide).

Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone was heralded as the best crime novel of 2015, with the Edgar, Macavity, Anthony and Barry awards. November Road will match those accolades, no doubt, and quite possibly be the crowning performance transcending the crime fiction genre into mainstream literary fiction and prove once and for all that mysteries cannot just be relegated blithely to the unwashed. MORE...

Under a Dark Sky: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062560308
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - August 7th, 2018

Under a Dark Sky is what the sloganeers refer to as a “locked-room” murder mystery. It’s the type made famous by Agatha Christie, Anne Holt, Peter Lovesey, most of the French noir writers, and even Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes. The setting is inescapable for any number of characters, a murder occurs, and after frightened disbelief, everybody is suspect. A locked-room mystery is a puzzle, and with every puzzle, one false or imprecise clue is unforgivable and ruinous of the entire effort. It’s a risky venture and takes great confidence to attempt a locked-room mystery. Most mystery writers borrow some of the claustrophobic elements to create suspense, but few can make a locked-room mystery more engaging than tedious and predictable. And ultimately, most are boring. MORE...

A Stone's Throw: An Ellie Stone Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9781633884199
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Seventh Street Books - June 5th, 2018

In celebration of a horse called Justify and a 52-year-old jockey who were only the 13th pair since 1919 to win all three jewels of the Triple Crown, “Murder Ink” this month will feature another crafty longshot, A Stone’s Throw by veteran author James W. Ziskin.

This isn’t the first we’ve seen of a Ziskin entry in the “Murder Ink” stables. I’ve reviewed most of Ziskin’s six other Ellie Stone mysteries over the years.

As with Robin Yocum who was extolled in June’s “Murder Ink,” Ziskin is a top midlist author who writes flawlessly plotted narratives with Kodachrome-vivid characters at a length that doesn’t elicit a gasp. I especially look forward to the next Ziskin mystery because of his love for language – we both have an unhealthy adoration for the perfect sentence – and Ziskin nails it time after time. And, more germane to the reader, he has created a most charming character in the small-town newspaper reporter Ellie Stone. Percipient, wily, single and attractive, she is dedicated to uncovering the truth. She likes her scotch and admirers, and is manipulative and terrific. MORE...

A Perfect Shot Cover Image
ISBN: 9781633884175
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Seventh Street Books - April 17th, 2018

“Murder Ink” has had a remarkable history of picking the meteoric mysteries – the advance reader copies sent to book reviewers months before publication – but most of the good reading comes from the midlist novels in between. These are the bench players, with all the skills to make the big leagues, and the go-to position players who hold the team together and, on occasion, show a talent worthy of celebrity. Robin Yocum is such a midlist author of very finely crafted crime fiction for Seventh Street Books in Amherst, N.Y., one of the top crime fiction publishers with perhaps the best midlist in the business. Yocum’s A Brilliant Death was an Edgar Award finalist in 2017, and he has a host of notable mentions from various publications and organizations in his native Ohio. There he was a crime and investigative reporter for the Columbus Dispatch for a decade before opening his own public relations firm in his hometown of Westerville, Ohio. He’s not schmoozing the literati crowd in New York or working the cadre of literary agents for better position and bigger advances. He’s home in Ohio working a day job and writing at night and on the weekends, and apologizing for being a part-time husband and father. But he’s producing excellent work, and A Perfect Shot is yet another gem of a story well told. MORE...

The Shadow District: A Thriller (The Flovent and Thorson Thrillers #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250138170
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - May 1st, 2018

It’s been many years ago now that a friend at New York Review of Books challenged my snobbish dismissal of crime fiction as only worthy of simpletons and sent me Jar City by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason.

Besides never missing new releases by the great living novelists like Richard Ford, Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy, JM Cotzee, etc., I have read nothing but crime fiction since 2006, always ferreting out the wheat from the chaff, finding true literature in the genre, and delighting at seeing truly fine novelists discover and try their hand at this plot-driven convention. MORE...

Waking Lions Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316395410
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - February 27th, 2018

We’ve all come across a precious object or an unforgettable sight or a love or feeling that calls up genuine awe and gets stored in our chest of valuables never to be forgotten or besmirched or stolen. And we’ve all read books, or perhaps only one book, that we’ll never forget and that may have even shaped a big or tiny piece of who we’ve become. I have at least a few dozen books that have left such impressions upon me, with some prying out the writer when I was young and others reaching into unrealized passions.

Now comes another magnificent book that will never be forgotten and has in one swoop reenergized in me the fascination of the written word and my dedication to the magic of language. Waking Lions by Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen has set her country abuzz and has been awarded Israeli’s top Sapir Prize for best debut fiction, the Wingate Literary Prize, and has been translated and soaked up in 14 languages, appearing in English only a month ago. MORE...

In a Lonely Place Cover Image
By Dorothy B. Hughes, Megan Abbott (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781681371474
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: NYRB Classics - August 15th, 2017

We need to slow this down a wee bit before we blow pistons through the block with the high octane “Murder Ink” fuel of the past six months. You’ve been reading the latest and the best in crime fiction: James Lee Burke’s crafty Robicheaux; Tom Perry’s amazing The Bomb Maker; Jenny Rogneby’s delightfully surprising Leona; Attica Locke’s new heights with Bluebird, Bluebird; Richard Lange’s crafty The Smack; and Denise Mina’s way-out-there The Long Drop. So put away the blood pressure meds for March and treat yourself to two books reissued by the publishing arm of the New York Review of Books – the world’s leading literary periodical. Feel your pulse slow, your mind clear and your pride swell with the knowledge that you are reading what attracted many great modern novelists and discerning readers such as yourself to noir fiction in the first place.  MORE...


Robicheaux: A Novel (Dave Robicheaux ) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501176845
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - January 2nd, 2018

The big news in fiction publishing for 2018 is the Simon & Schuster January release of a new book by America’s best known and unarguably most skilled crime fiction writer, James Lee Burke. His new book, Robicheaux, is a long-awaited return to the atmospheric New Iberia/New Orleans domain of all things that lie then bite or sting to kill. MORE...



The Bomb Maker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802127488
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mysterious Press - January 2nd, 2018

Every critic reviewing crime fiction this month will likely fall prey to the massive publicity blitz for A.J. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window. The publicity department of William Morrow/HarperCollins boasts that The Woman in the Window is the most widely acquired debut novel of all time prior to publication. It has been sold in 38 territories around the world (that’s a lot of strange languages), with Oscar winner Scott Rudin pre-empting the film rights for Fox and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts contracted to do the movie script. MORE...

Leona: The Die Is Cast: A Leona Lindberg Thriller Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590518823
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Other Press - August 1st, 2017

Leona: The Die is Cast by Jenny Rogneby is one terrific book, so why haven’t we heard more about it? Released in August 2017, Leona is the debut novel from Swedish author Jenny Rogneby. Born in Ethiopia, she was adopted when she was a year old to a couple in the northern reaches of Sweden. Published by off-the-grid, avant-garde Other Press in New York City, it is the first in a three-book deal, Leona should garner an award or two from the mystery writers’ guilds. I will even go so far as to say it can absolutely take its place alongside Gone Girl, Girl on the Train and even any of Steig Larsson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo triad. MORE...

My Sister's Bones: A Novel of Suspense Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062661968
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - July 11th, 2017

My Sister’s Bones is foremost and fiercely a suspense drama that can run with the big dogs. Ellwood isn’t teaching or focusing on the forensics or haranguing over unrecognized or under-served PTSD casualties. Instead, she populates a drama with caricatures of damaged people with hollow cores and fragile crusts that pull on the reader to stay up way past bedtime.

She delves into what crazy meant before it lost its meaning as a wisecrack. MORE...


Bluebird, Bluebird (A Highway 59 Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316363273
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - August 28th, 2018

Fall brings a rush of new book releases for some peculiar reason. I’m bleary-eyed separating the wheat from the chaff, and if I were limited to bringing only one book to you it would be Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke and from eagle-eyed Mulholland Books. But in this column, I feel it necessary to point out a few other stunning new releases and sacrifice my fun cobbling together remarkable wordsmithing. A novel is more or less a year in the making, and by unfortunate coincidence Bluebird, Blue-bird arrives now to memorialize the omnipresent prejudices we’ve been so disconcertedly witnessing over that period of time. The book follows black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, a former law student following an uncle into the elite, primarily white law enforcement agency. Ignobly assigned to his  East Texas Highway 59 off ramp hometown of Lark to investigate the murders of a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman, we have a slow drip of gasoline pooling. If you know the South, you know how much trouble can heat up when a six-point star on a khaki shirt covering a black torso shows up in a rural fiefdom. But as poignant as this story is, it’s Locke’s elegiac writing and her characters that make this book unforgettable, even beautiful. Locke’s feelings of being black are so fervent it makes Bluebird, Bluebird a work of literature that will make you cry and read slowly to delay the ending. MORE...

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