GIVEAWAY ALERT! Thanks to the generous folks at Mulholland Books, I have five copies of Chris Holm’s brand new paperback, Red Right Hand, up for grabs. To enter for your chance to win, simply leave a comment on this page before Friday evening, October 13th, at 11:59 PM EST. Recipients will be selected at random after that time. If you want to be super cool, please consider giving this blog a “follow” and then sharing it with your book loving friends.
Today, I’m cyber chatting with distinguished gent, Chris Holm.
Chris is the author of the Anthony Award-nominated thriller, Red Right Hand (Mulholland Books), out in paperback today. Named one of the Boston Globe’s Best Books of 2016, the title follows The Killing Kind (2015), which introduced hitman Michael Hendricks. That book—named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015, and Strand Magazine’s #1 Book of 2015—won the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Novel and was also nominated for a Barry, a Lefty, and a Macavity. Chris previously wrote the Collector trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy. He makes his home in Portland, Maine.
Praise for Red Right Hand:
“Explosive and timely . . . Holm expertly balances weighty issues of national security with more intimate personal losses, and makes it clear that the best stories happen in the gray area between good and evil.”―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This follow-up to the acclaimed The Killing Kind is a real thrill ride. Jeff Abbott fans and adrenaline fiction junkies will appreciate how vividly the shadowy world of military contractors comes to life in Holm’s skillful hands.”―Library Journal (starred review)
“This story fairly leaps from the blocks. . . . The Killing Kind earned a stack of plaudits, but Red Right Hand is the rare second entry in a series that actually rivals its predecessor.”―Kirkus Reviews
“The novel brims with nice turns on genre conventions. . . . Good story, good action, some startling turns of phrase.”―Booklist
From the publisher:
If the good guys can’t save you, call a bad guy.
When viral video of an explosive terrorist attack on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge reveals that a Federal witness long thought dead is still alive, the organization he’d agreed to testify against will stop at nothing to put him in the ground.
FBI Special Agent Charlie Thompson is determined to protect him, but her hands are tied; the FBI’s sole priority is catching the terrorists before they strike again. So Charlie calls the only person on the planet who can keep her witness safe: Michael Hendricks.
Once a covert operative for the US military, Hendricks makes his living hitting hitmen… or he did, until the very organization hunting Charlie’s witness–the Council–caught wind and targeted the people he loves. Teaming up with a young but determined tech whiz, Cameron, on the condition she leave him alone after the case, Hendricks reluctantly takes the job.
Of course, finding a man desperate to stay hidden is challenging enough without deadly competition, let alone when the competition’s shadowy corporate backer is tangled in the terrorist conspiracy playing out around them. And now Hendricks is determined to take the Council down, even if that means wading into the center of a terror plot whose perpetrators are not what they seem.
Now, Chris reveals a few pages from the book of his life …
John Valeri: As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?
Chris Holm: I guess I was a closet bibliophile in the literal sense; when I was little, I fashioned a secret reading nook in one corner of my closet where I could hide out and read by flashlight without being bothered. My bibliophilia, however, has always been loud and proud. I never went anywhere without a book. I haunted libraries, comic shops, and bookstores. I counted down the days until the book fair came to school.
JV: What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
MC: Anything and everything, honestly, but here are a few of my favorites: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, an Illustrated Classics edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories called Tales of Mystery and Terror, and anything Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, or Sherlock Holmes.
JV: What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?
CH: Recently, I’ve been working my way through this year’s Anthony Award nominees for Best Novel, which have been uniformly excellent. Right now, I’m reading Reed Farrel Coleman’s Where It Hurts. It’s at once soulful and thrilling, twisty and character-driven. In short, it reminds me why I fell in love with detective fiction in the first place.
JV: What one book do you always recommend when asked?
CH: Oh, god. I couldn’t possibly pick just one … but I’ll try to narrow it down to two: Megan Abbott’s Dare Me and Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone. Both are stunning, beautifully written novels that illustrate the emotional, literary, and artistic depth the mystery genre is capable of.
JV: Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?
CH: I suppose I’d recommend The Killing Kind, because it introduces my series character, Michael Hendricks, although my personal favorites are the second book in my now-out-of-print Collector trilogy, The Wrong Goodbye, and my second Hendricks novel, Red Right Hand. I guess I’m a sucker for second novels—maybe because once the premise is established, I feel as if I can really let loose and have some fun with it.
JV: Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?
CH: I think there’s a longstanding anti-cozy bias within certain factions of the mystery community, and it drives me bonkers. Everyone’s entitled to their taste, of course, but the fact is, there are some terrific cozies out there. Personally, I’d rather read the latest Donna Andrews or Barbara Ross than some paint-by-numbers serial killer novel. That shouldn’t be surprising, but I suspect it is.
JV: Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?
CH: Last year, Colson Whitehead gave the fiction keynote address at the Boston Book Festival, and I was on the panel just before. I was so intimidated by him, I would have avoided the green room after my panel if it weren’t for the fact that I had to return my microphone. I needn’t have been. He was a lovely guy, warm and funny, and he took the time to sign some books—including mine—before he went on stage to deliver one of the most powerful readings I’ve ever seen. Shortly after, the book he signed for me, The Underground Railroad, quite rightly won the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and pretty much everything else it was eligible for.
Like most authors, I consider myself a fan first, so that’s just one of my many weak-kneed author encounters. Others include Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Marcia Clark, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, David Morrell, Sara Paretsky, and George Pelecanos. I hope to one day add David Mitchell to that list.
JV: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?
CH: I don’t know if I’ll ever feel as though I’ve made it, but my career has certainly had its share of rewarding moments. The first time I held a copy of a book I wrote in my hands was pretty overwhelming, as was the first time I received fan mail, my first hardcover, and my first foreign edition. I was lucky enough to get a rave from the New York Times for The Killing Kind, and even luckier to have it hit while I was at a signing table beside the legendary David Morrell, who delighted in embarrassing me by reading it aloud to his many, many fans. And, of course, winning the Anthony Award for Best Novel was incredibly validating. That said, I still feel as if I’m just getting started in this business, in this craft, and I hope I never lose the hunger to keep pushing.
JV: What is your greatest literary ambition?
CH: Obviously, critical acclaim, bestsellerdom, and a lucrative movie franchise would all be nice, but truthfully, what I really want is nothing more or less than the continued freedom to make my living telling stories. It’s my dream job, and even on my worst writing day, I feel damn lucky to do it.
JV: Fill in the blank: John B. Valeri / Hartford Books Examiner is _____.
CH: … the sort of tireless champion that makes the mystery community so special, and the sort of passionate reader that makes writing worthwhile.
With thanks to Chris Holm for his generosity of time and thought and to Elora Weil, Publicity Assistant at Little, Brown and Company, for both facilitating this interview and providing giveaway copies of Red Right Hand.