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Tag: Thrillers (41-50 of 63)

Questions for Linda Fairstein

If it seems like crime novelist Linda Fairstein has intimate knowledge of the world she writes about, it’s because she lived it. For 30 years, Fairstein worked at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, serving as head of the sex crimes unit. Her Alex Cooper series is based on the time she spent there; its 12th volume, Hell Gate, out now and on the New York Times Bestseller List. She spoke with about the writing process, using New York City as a character and what it ‘s like being a Law & Order: SVU inspiration.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us a little bit about Hell Gate.
LINDA FAIRSTEIN: Alex Cooper is a young prosecutor, and has the job that I had for 30 years. I always try to take my reader into a world that explores some aspect of New York City’s history or current events. Two years ago, the idea for this was political scandals, [sparked by] two events. One was [former New York governor] Eliot Spitzer’s fall from grace. He had been a colleague of mine in the Manhattan D.A.’s office. I was just shocked because I knew him to be a brilliant lawyer and have a lovely family. Shortly after that happened, there was a New York City congressman from Staten Island named Vito Fossella. He had a wife and kids on Staten Island…and it turned out he had a child by his mistress in D.C. Before John Edwards, before Gov. Sanford, I thought about exploring political scandals and the duplicity of people we think have integrity and we’ve elected to public office and how it impacts things.

Your books are very New York centric — the city is like a character. How do you decide what parts of New York make it into the story?
Usually there’s a theme in the book. [Take] Lethal Legacy. I’ve always been fascinated by rare book collectors and rare maps, so I used the New York Public Library as the backdrop for it. It’s such a magnificent building rich with history and treasures. READ FULL STORY

'American Vampire' comic book: New twists on the vampire genre, with a little help from Stephen King

The first issue of American Vampire (Vertigo/DC) goes on sale today, and it’s something rather rare: a non-super-hero comic book that does something new with the vampire genre. Created by writer Scott Snyder and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, the debut introduces us to Skinner Sweet, a low-down, rattlesnake-mean vampire. Forget the neurasthenic, elegantly neurotic, aristo vamps of so much popular literature. Skinner is more like crossing Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul with a young, slim, undead Ronnie Van Zant from Lynyrd Skynyrd: a tough little cuss who wants to bite for the blood, for the class-revenge, and for the pleasure of it.

The book spans decades. Snyder is launching American Vampire with his own story, about a Roaring Twenties version of Skinner, on the shady outskirts of the movie industry. Very smart, knowledgeable stuff. And Snyder gets an assist, and a little extra publicity, by having enlisted Stephen King to write a Skinner origin-story: A lean, mean cowboy Skinner in the Old West. As I’ve written before, one of the best ways King uses his popularity is to draw attention to the work of other writers and artists he admires, so his generosity here is matched by his cool storytelling.

It’s good to know that American Vampire will take its unique character and skip him across many different decades; the story possibilities are abundant. Add Rafael Albuquerque’s excellent art, which mixes shadowy action with bright sunlight and sketchy characters, and you’ve got one promising new series.

Poetry you need to read: Robert Polito's 'Hollywood & God' and Amy Gerstler's 'Dearest Creature'

hollywood-and-god_lRobert Polito is the editor of the exciting new collection of Manny Farber movie criticism, Farber On Film. But Polito is also an important poet. He’s not, however, self-important: his recent collection Hollywood & God (University of Chicago Press), is frequently like a series of scenes in a thriller, and you, not the poet, discover all the clues. His mysteries can be comic-profound ones.

For example, in the poem “What A Friend,” “your Aunt Barbara” is driving home one night. Her car gets a flat tire. It’s raining. She has a spare but no jack. No one will stop to help her. That is, no one except…

“That’s when Jesus showed up/He lifted up the back of the car, and she changed the tire.”

The poem concludes: “Imagine/Jesus Christ traipsing around like that, helping people get home.”

Polito makes poetry out of pop-culture in a way that deepens, not cheapens, either the poem or the pop. Elvis Presley, the Edgar G. Ulmer thriller Detour, and Dunkin Donuts all put in appearances in poems whose lines snake across the page, wrapping themselves around rhythms that surprise and hypnotize. READ FULL STORY

Stephen King reads from 'Under the Dome': An EW exclusive!

Fans of Stephen King who can’t wait for his new novel Under The Dome — which goes on sale Nov. 10 (pre-order it here) — are in for a treat. Shelf Life has an exclusive video of King reading a passage from the 1,072-page book (below).

King began the epic thriller — the tale of what happens in Chester’s Mill, Maine, when an invisible force-field claps down over the town — over 30 years ago, in 1976. He put it down and picked it up several times over the years, but it was only in 2007 that he was truly able to get a handle on it. “I work seven days a week,” he told us, explaining how he delivered such a massive manuscript in such a relatively short period of time.

You can read a 4,000-word excerpt of Under The Dome in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands today. Also, visit the official Under the Dome site.

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Stephen King's 'Under the Dome': Exclusive trailer!

We’re delighted to bring you an exclusive sneak peek at the trailer for Stephen King’s long-awaited epic novel Under The Dome, which goes on sale Nov. 10 (you can pre-order it here). More than 30 years in the writing, this sprawling, 1072-page supernatural thriller brings to life the town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, the day that an invisible force-field seals it off from the rest of the world. “Every time I went back and picked it up again, science had changed,” says King (who is a regular contributor to EW), noting that he asked good friend Russ Dorr to spearhead the book’s research, nailing down details about everything from cell phone technology to portable generators.

Want more? You can read an exclusive 4,000-word excerpt of Under The Dome in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, which goes on sale tomorrow. Also, come back tomorrow for another Shelf Life exclusive: a video clip of King reading a passage from the book. In the meantime, check out the official Under the Dome site here.

[ewbrightcove “29888952001”, “45378803001”, “400”, “400”]

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The return of Dan Brown: An interview with the author of 'The Lost Symbol'

Everybody has an opinion about Dan Brown. Some love the 45-year-old best-selling author of The Da Vinci Code and have already snapped up their copy of The Lost Symbol, which went on sale Sept. 15. Others suggest that he represents all that is bland and over-processed in publishing today. When I met with Brown, I found him pleasant and likable, even comfortably dorky. Here’s some of what he had to say (you can read the complete profile in this week’s EW).

You published two novels to little fanfare before The Da Vinci Code. At what point did you realize your days of obscurity were over?

I was out in Portland on book tour when I got news that it was debuting at #1. And I was all alone. I don’t even remember if I had a cellphone. I walked into the hotel where I was staying and the front desk said “Mr. Brown, we have a fax for you.” And it was just a huge number one. (wiping tears from his eyes) I still have that fax. It’s in a scrapbook.

With all the hoopla surrounding the publication of The Lost Symbol, do you miss that sensation of being newly discovered?

Now there’s enormous anticipation, enormous expectation. If the book weren’t good I’d be terrified. There’s so many critics who complain that I’m not William Shakespeare or William Faulkner or whoever it is. That’s exactly the point. They’re right. I write books in a very specific and intentional way, blending fact and fiction, writing in a very modern, efficient style that just serves the story. Some people understand what I’m doing and other people should just go read somebody else.


Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol' breaks first-day records

Dan Brown’s latest historical/conspiratorial/symbological mystery had a stellar first day, selling more than one million copies in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Amazon and Barnes & Noble reported that The Lost Symbol broke their records for first-day sales of an adult fiction book. “Adult,” in this case, being shorthand for “not Harry Potter.”

The e-book edition also posted big sales, and is currently the top seller for the Amazon Kindle.

Suzanne Herz of Knopf Doubleday says that this kind of fervent response was absolutely what the publisher expected. “There is no comparison,” she said, between The Lost Symbol‘s success and the early sales of Brown’s other novels. Anticipating massive demand, the publisher had to go back to press immediately prior to release in order to print an additional 600,000 copies (bringing the total number to 5.6 million).

According to Carolyn Brown, spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble, the book exploded past previous first-day records. “No other adult fiction title even comes close.”  And what’s more, it may be spurring readers to buy other titles, too. “It is early, but so far we have seen a lift in sales of books about Freemasonry and secret societies, followed closely by those about early Christianity (Gnostic Gospels).  We think interest in these genres will continue to be strong as the topics appeal to Brown’s core audience,” said Patricia Bostelman, vice president of marketing for Barnes & Noble, Inc.  “As people read more from The Lost Symbol, we expect that the more esoteric titles and books about hermetics, noetics, quantum physics should start to gather momentum.  And  anything about the hidden mysteries and history of Washington are sure to see a pop as well.”

Brown’s sequel to his massively successful 2003 hit, The Da Vinci Code, a cultural symbol in its own right, finds his popular protagonist Robert Langdon back in the United States, returned from his two-book European vacation, and faced with another series of cryptic clues and shadowy goings-on. Fans are clearly excited at the prospect of another go-round with their favorite (likely by default) Harvard symbologist. Like one of Brown’s beloved ambigrams, whether read backwards or forwards, this spells major success for the author.

EW review: Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol'

6a00d8341bf6c153ef011570de1436970c-800wiDan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code has spawned a raft of imitators, most of which pale in comparison; the latest, The Lost Symbol, is by Brown himself. Once again, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to the scene of a gruesome attack, joins forces with an attractive and erudite love interest, and speeds around a world capital chasing clues, solving puzzles, and risking his life while dropping cocktail parties’ worth of scholarly minutiae. Even the setting, though new, will be familiar to most readers: Washington, D.C.

This time, Langdon is lured to the Capitol to save his mentor, Peter Solomon, a prominent member of the Freemasons who’s been kidnapped by a cryptic, heavily tattooed, Homer-reading psycho calling himself Mal’akh — a vicious fellow even less plausible than the albino monk in The Da Vinci Code. Our hero is also in possession of an ancient Masonic artifact whose clues lead him on a treasure hunt to various D.C. tourist spots as he searches for a secret long hidden by the brotherhood.

That secret, of course, is one giant MacGuffin — though Brown is the rare thriller writer who seems to lavish as much attention on the object that sets his plot in motion as he does on the action itself. But for thriller fans, it’s the chase that really matters. Especially since the secrets of Freemasonry just aren’t as compelling as, say, a controversial theory about Mary Magdalene and Jesus.

Luckily, Langdon remains a terrific hero, a bookish intellectual who’s cool in a crisis and quick on his feet, like Ken Jennings with a shot of adrenaline. The codes are intriguing, the settings present often-seen locales in a fresh light, and Brown mostly manages to keep the pages turning — except when one of his know-it-all characters decides to brake the action for another superfluous, if occasionally interesting, historical digression. (Did you know there’s a carving of Darth Vader on the National Cathedral?) Even after the book’s climactic showdown, you must slog through another 50-plus pages of exposition that Brown couldn’t cram into the main narrative. Sometimes it seems that authors, like their villains, don’t know when to leave well enough alone. C+

Dan Brown speaks: The first interview about 'Da Vinci Code' sequel 'The Lost Symbol'

Fans have held their breath for six years for Dan Brown’s follow-up to his blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code, which sold an astounding 80 million copies worldwide. The wait finally ends at midnight tonight when readers can finally get their hands on The Lost Symbol, which follows Harvard’s Robert Langdon as he become enmeshed in a mystery involving the history of the Freemasons in Washington, D.C. Why such a long wait? In a rare interview appearing in this week’s issue, Brown tells Entertainment Weekly that during his long absence from the public eye, he made himself a promise. “I will not write a lame follow-up. It could take me 20 years. But I will never turn in a book that I’m not happy with. Four years ago, I wasn’t happy with the book. Five years ago, I wasn’t happy with the book.” Finally, amidst a flurry of articles trumpeting the 45-year-old author as the white knight come to resuscitate a wheezing publishing industry, he felt ready to return. “And if the book weren’t good,” he says confidently, “I’d be terrified.”

Brown makes it clear he didn’t spent that last six years procrastinating. “I write seven days a week, starting at 4 o’clock in the morning, including Christmas,” he says. “I worked on this book at 4 in the morning in my hotel room while I was living in London and going to court. I’ve probably written 10 novels worth of pages to write The Lost Symbol.” The first review, from the New York Times, has already hit the Internet — and it’s a rave.

Brown, however, knows not all critics are in love with his work, something he learned the hard way. “The Da Vinci Code had the audacity to park at No. 1 for a little bit too long,” he says. “And it became very en vogue just to trash my books.”

First review of Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol'

6a00d8341bf6c153ef011570de1436970c-800wiThe New York Times’ Janet Maslin has posted a glowing review of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which goes on sale Tuesday. “Too many popular authors (Thomas Harris) have followed huge hits (The Silence of the Lambs) with terrible embarrassments (Hannibal),” writes Maslin. “Mr. Brown hasn’t done that. Instead, he’s bringing sexy back a genre that had been left for dead.” According to Maslin, the new book is replete with plot tricks and twists, codes, secrets, and explorations into ancient philosophies and the occult.

SPOILER ALERT! Maslin says that Brown’s hero, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, has been lured to Washington, D.C., to give a speech on behalf of his old mentor Peter Solomon at the Capitol—only to find Solomon’s severed hand atop the Capitol Crypt. The mystery/treasure hunt that ensues does, as has been rumored, prominently feature the Freemasons. Only they do not occupy the villain role that Opus Dei played in The Da Vinci Code. According to Maslin, the villain this time out is a sinister psycho named Mal’akh.

Observant types will remember that back in 2003 Maslin also had the first review of The Da Vinci Code — and it was a rave as well. “Not since the advent of Harry Potter has an author so flagrantly delighted in leading readers on a breathless chase and coaxing them through hoops,” she wrote. Brown later admitted that “people called and said, ‘Is Janet Maslin your mother, because she never says stuff like that?’”

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