Requiem for a Home

Two weeks ago I got the word that all small-press writers dread: My publisher, Five Star, is dropping my entire category of mystery books. Thinking of what Five Star Mysteries has meant to me is like opening a scrapbook found in an abandoned house. There’s a page for my first published book, Josh Whoever. I see a picture of the look on Five Star’s legendary editor Deni Dietz’s face when she said, “I like that title.” First nice thing any industry big ever said about a book of mine. Another picture of me opening a UPS box to find books with my name on them for the first time, understanding at that moment how Pinocchio felt when he realized he was a real live boy. First time I admitted to myself how much I had wanted it. Book signings. Royalty checks (checks!).

And the thrill of being associated with and appreciated by remarkable people: Deni Dietz, Gordon Aalborg and Tiffany Shofield. I sent Tiffany several bottles of wine for all the help she was on Josh. She deserved even more.

Breakfast at Killer Nashville with my publisher and friend, Deni. Email arguments with Gordon. Two more books.

And my little book of memories is only one in a whole library. Five Star Mysteries has been the mother and the home for many of us.

Now, no more.

I’m not entirely sure it’s a bad thing. I may be at a point in my career (a word they gave to me) where I want to do more. Maybe write something that’s not a mystery. Maybe write more stories. I’ve dabbled with a couple of self-publishing projects, and enjoyed them. I’ve done a collection project called Eight Mystery Writers You Should be Reading Now, and found the experience of working with some exceptional writers to be one of the most satisfying times of my life. Maybe I’ll do more things like that.

Maybe, maybe. They say that everything that dies, dies so that something beautiful can be born. So I truly look forward to something new and wondrous that I can already feel pushing itself to life and pushing me to a fuller life.

But I will always miss my original home. Farewell, Five Star.


Eight Mystery Writers You Should be Reading Now


Mystery readers are always on the prowl for something new (other than dead bodies and serial killers.) We’ve got what you didn’t know you were looking for. Hank Phillipi Ryan called EIGHT MYSTERY WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING NOW  “an easy way to find that next unputdownable read.” We’ve got stories and sample chapters from eight up-and-coming writers with a pile of awards and a bigger pile of great stories, each from very distinctive sub-genres: a crime-solving horse trainer and a couple of dark hard-boiled detectives, kick-ass funny Florida weird and a dark atmospheric Irish mystery about a matchmaker.

Here’s our menu:

Lisa Alber–Mystery with a smattering of psychological suspense and tons of atmosphere. Beautifully written, complex stories set in the Irish countryside. Reminiscent of Erin Hart, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Susan Hill. Rosebud Award and Pushcart Prize Nominee.


Kathleen Cosgrove –Florida weird with a middle-aged woman returning home. Kick-ass funny.


Michael Guillebeau–Broken war hero has to navigate the oddballs and save the girl to get back to the bar he’s been hiding in. Reminiscent of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen. Silver Falchion Finalist, and Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month.


Chris Knopf–Hardboiled in the Hamptons. Ex-boxer Sam Acquillo is a noir descendent of Travis McGee and Spencer, and one of my favorite characters. Nero award winner.


Jessie Bishop Powell—Cozy noir mysteries that embrace the genre’s extremes. In The Marriage at the Rue Morgue, police suspect an orangutan of murder. Primatologists Noel Rue and Lance Lakeland have to save the ape and still find time to get married. Sounds light, but Powell’s stuff is as intense as it is funny.


Larissa Reinhart—If you like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, you need to read Reinhart’s Cherry Tucker. A damaged artist with twice the depth, twice the funny of Plum and set in small-town Georgia. I dare you to put this down. Daphne du Maurier Finalist 


Jaden Terrell—Hardboiled hero with a soft heart. Nashville PI Jared McKean has enough emotional issues to carry a book by himself, and then Terrell throws him into big issues like human trafficking. Shamus Award Finalist.


Lisa Wysocky—Multiple awards for Lisa’s books about a horse trainer with a smart horse who helps her solve crimes. One of the and loving use of animals in mystery. Winner of American Horse Publication Awards, and the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.


We invite you to come in and and take a bite for yourself. If you find something you like, our chefs will be happy to give you a full meal.

And we all deliver.

If I Had Won…

I didn’t win the Silver Falchion at Killer Nashville. Which was fine, because just being one of seven finalists out of 120 entrants was incredible.

Here’s the only bad thing: If I’d won, I wanted to say this in thanks:

“…and I’d like to thank one woman in two parts. The fictional part of her is the character Marci, who had a tiny part in my book JOSH WHOEVER. But Marci wouldn’t leave the stage, took over and made the book so much better. Kind of like the real part of the character, my wife Pat Leary Guillebeau, who took over my life and made it so much better. Thanks, Pat. Because of you, every book of mine will have a strong, sexy, funny girl at its heart. And the book, and my life, will be better for it.”

I could just tell Pat this, but where’s the fun in that?

Arrested with the Killers

So I’m at Killer Nashville along with 500 other mystery fans and writers, including big names like Hank Phillipi Ryan and William Kent Kreuger. I’m running to lunch, look at the traffic, see an opening, make my dash and Bam! I’m across. Double bam, when the cop gives me a ticket for jaywalking. I love it. Arrested at Killer Nashville.

Who was the doubter who said I couldn’t get arrested as a mystery writer? HA! Showed you. And, yes, I am going to say it again: My book JOSH WHOEVER is a finalist for the Silver Falchion award for Best First Novel: Literary Suspense up here.

(The small cricket on my shoulder insists on this disclaimer. I didn’t get arrested. But I did get a dirty look. And people ask where mystery writers get their ideas.)

My First Time…Mystery: The First Time I Loved Mystery

By Michael Guillebeau (Author of JOSH WHOEVER, SHARK’S TOOTH and A STUDY IN DETAIL)

 Growing up, I was the kid in the corner with a book while the other kids played. I read everything—literary books (J.D. Salinger and Ibsen), history and science, and sci-fi (Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov). But no mysteries. No interest in reading puzzles disguised as books.

And then one day someone dropped a book on my desk and said, “This one’s really good. It’s about a detective who lives on a houseboat.”

Continue reading

Flawed and Fabulous, for Mystery Writers

This obviously wasn’t written for mystery/crime writers. After all, we spend all of our time writing about killings and people who punish killings.

But mysteries–more than any other genre–are stories of the flawed and fabulous, rising again to be gorgeously human. Mystery writers who forget this, even for a page, are in danger of writing something unworthy of our genre.

Thanks to Malisa McClure, Yoqi Extraordinaire, for this quote.