PAST EVENT: Thursday, September 14, 2017, Chanhassen Public Library
P.J. Tracy is the pseudonym of mother-daughter writing duo Patricia (P.J.) and Traci Lambrecht, authors behind the internationally bestselling Monkeewrench mystery series. Set right here in the Twin Cities, the Monkeewrench novels center around a group of computer geniuses who split their time between software engineering and a much less prosaic pastime: helping authorities solve Minnesota’s seemingly unsolvable crimes. P.J. Tracy’s debut, Monkeewrench (2003), earned the Lambrechts the prestigious Anthony and Barry Awards for Best First Mystery Novel, as well as the 2014 Minnesota Book Award for Popular Fiction. Subsequent installments – Live Bait (2004), Dead Run (2005), Snow Blind (2006), Shoot to Thrill (2010), and Off the Grid (2012) – firmly established P.J. Tracy as a murder mystery mainstay. Their seventh, The Sixth Idea, will be released in paperback in June. Nothing Stays Buried, Traci Lambrechet’s newest Monkeewrench thriller – and the first since the passing of her mother P.J. in 2016 – was released in August.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
PAST EVENT: Tuesday, September 19, 2017, Stillwater Public Library
Only a handful of romance writers can boast a career as long or prolific as Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Over the past three decades, she has published nearly thirty books. Moreover, that corpus including five novels singled out as Favorite Book of the Year by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) – a distinction achieved by no other author to date. RWA inducted Phillips into its Romance Writers Hall of Fame in 2001, and she received the organization’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Phillips is perhaps best known to readers for her New York Times bestselling Chicago Stars series – a string of nine beloved books that, in the words of fellow writer Kristin Hannah, solidify her reputation as “the absolute queen of contemporary romance.” Her latest installment, #1 New York Times bestseller First Star I See Tonight, will be reissued in paperback in June. In it, dogged, novice detective Piper Dove is assigned to tail a star quarterback, and quickly finds the case to be anything but routine.
Lesley Nneka Arimah
PAST EVENT: Monday, October 2, 2017, Brookdale Library
Nigerian-American short fiction favorite Lesley Nneka Arimah made waves in April with the release of her long-awaited collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky. For months prior, publications as varied as Time, Elle, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and even Buzzfeed had lauded it as one of 2017’s most anticipated releases – and with good reason. Arimah’s debut features a dozen stories, several of which have already earned her an international following. These include the O. Henry Prize-winning, National Magazine Award-nominated “Glory,” about a doll woven from hair which comes to life, and “Light,” winner of the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Considered in its entirety, NPR calls What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky “electrifying and defiantly original… Arimah crafts stories that reward rereading, not because they’re unclear or confusing, but because it’s so tempting to revisit each exquisite sentence, each uniquely beautiful description.”
PAST EVENT: Monday, October 9, 2017, Highland Park Community Center
Scandinavian readers who have never visited the United States have come to know northern Minnesota intimately through the inspired work of Norwegian crime novelist Vidar Sundstøl. He is best known, both in his native country and abroad, for the Minnesota Trilogy: The Land of Dreams, Only the Dead, and The Ravens. The series, translated to English by Tiina Nunnally, centers around a U.S. Forest Service officer whose happy, unassuming life on Lake Superior is turned upside down by the grisly murder of a Norwegian tourist. The Land of Dreams won Sundstøl the Riverton Prize for Best Norwegian Crime Story in 2008; popular newspaper Dagbladet recently praised it as one of the twenty-five best Norwegian mystery novels of all time. Sundstøl’s newest novel, The Devil’s Wedding Ring, picks up with the mysterious death of an occult folklore researcher on Midsummer Eve. It is a story American fans have been craving: not only “taut with suspense, but steeped in Norwegian culture past and present” (University of Minnesota Press). Its English translation debuted in September.
PAST EVENT: Thursday, October 19, 2017, R.H. Stafford Library
Dave Page is one of the foremost scholars writing today on the life and legacy of Saint Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald. Among other credits, Page edited The Thoughtbook of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the future literary star’s boyhood journal. (Fitzgerald mined Minnesota characters and episodes from his ‘Thoughtbook’ when crafting a backdrop for his seminal The Great Gatsby, and in other stories.) Page also co-edited The St. Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (2004). His latest research endeavor, F. Scott Fitzgerald in Minnesota: The Writer and His Friends at Home, is a house-by-house guide to Summit Avenue and other areas of Saint Paul that Fitzgerald knew and loved. In this impressive opus – which weighs in at nearly two pounds – Page’s anecdotes are accompanied by hundreds of historical and contemporary photographs, and nearly 700 footnotes. Page has taught English and Fitzgerald courses at Inver Hills Community College, and currently serves on the board of the non-profit organization Fitzgerald in Saint Paul.
PAST EVENT: Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Rum River Library
Minnesota boasts its fair share of thriller novelists, but few are as prolific as David Housewright. Intrepid ex-cop Holland Taylor, Housewright’s original protagonist, first came to the attention of readers in his 1995 debut, Penance. It earned the author the 1996 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and put him in contention for that year’s Shamus Award (bestowed by the Private Eye Writers of America). Housewright’s follow-up, Practice to Deceive (1997), garnered him his first Minnesota Book Award. Jelly’s Gold (2010) and Curse of the Jade Lily (2013), two books in the fourteen-installment Rushmore “Mac” McKenzie series, earned him two more – putting him in a rare company. His latest, What the Dead Leave Behind, follows the Saint Paul private investigator as he takes on the case of an unsolved murder in New Brighton that – like so many of the Twin Cities area crimes Mac investigates – is more than it first seems. Not mincing words, Publishers Weekly warns readers that they will find What the Dead Leave Behind: “Nearly impossible to put down.” It hit shelves in June.
PAST EVENT: Wednesday, November 1, 2017, Roseville Public Library
Shawn Lawrence Otto is a science activist and two-time Minnesota Book Award winner. His nonfiction debut, Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America (2012), is a meticulously researched exposé on the growing anti-science movement – a book that “every voter in the country should read it,” according to MinnPost. Otto’s provocative 2016 follow-up, The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It, is “an essential work, a game changer, and probably the most important book you’ll read this year,” lauds ScienceBlogs™. Otto is a co-founder of Science Debate, a grassroots movement dedicated to ensuring that candidates for public office address hot-button science and technology issues. He is a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Salon, Scientific American, and other outlets. In addition to his advocacy work, Shawn Otto has penned a well-received novel, Sins of Our Fathers (2014), and wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film House of Sand and Fog.
Heather Ann Thompson
PAST EVENT: Tuesday, November 7, 2017, Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater
Acclaimed writer and prison reform advocate Heather Ann Thompson, PhD, is the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for History. Thompson won that high honor for Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and its Legacy – the first definitive account of our country’s largest and most notorious prison rebellion. In addition to the Pulitzer, the 2016 title also garnered Dr. Thompson the Bancroft Prize in American History and put her in the running for a National Book Award and the prestigious Los Angeles Book Prize. Furthermore, over a dozen publications – including The New York Times, Bloomberg, Newsweek, and Publishers Weekly – singled out Blood in the Water for their “Top 10 Books of the Year” lists. TriStar Pictures recently optioned Blood in the Water for adaptation into a feature film penned by Hollywood screenwriters Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel. Heather Ann Thompson is a native of Detroit and professor at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Her previous, book-length research projects include Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City.
PAST EVENT: Wednesday, November 8, 2017, Prior Lake Library
Lawyer-turned-novelist Allen Eskens burst onto the thrillers scene in 2014 with his “compulsively suspenseful” (Bookpage) mystery The Life We Bury. This literary debut won the former defense attorney the genre’s prestigious Barry Award, the Rosebud Award for Best First Novel – and put him in contention for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, and half a dozen others. The Life We Bury has since been published in sixteen languages and optioned for a feature film adaptation. Eskens’ follow-ups, The Guise of Another (2015) and The Heavens May Fall (2016), follow some of the same characters. The latter won the 2017 Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Eskens’ newest book, The Deep Dark Descending, debuts in October. It centers around homicide detective Max Rupert – a protagonist already known to Eskens fans – as the veteran cop struggles to balance his professional integrity with a desire for personal vengeance after the shocking revelation that the hit-and-run accident that killed his wife was no accident after all.
Edward Kelsey Moore
PAST EVENT: Tuesday, November 14, 2017, Rondo Community Library
Edward Kelsey Moore is the pen behind 2014’s breakout hit The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat. Moore’s debut follows three life-long friends – dubbed “The Supremes” while in high school – as they navigate four decades of life’s challenges. It garnered Moore a Best First Novel Award from the American Library Association – Black Caucus, among other high honors. The Supremes also boasted an impressive run on The New York Times Bestseller List, and has been optioned by Fox Searchlight Pictures for a motion picture. His anticipated follow-up, The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues, hit shelves in June. Odette, Clarice and Barbara Jean are back in this sequel adventure that BookPage lauds as “an uplifting read which tugs at readers’ heartstrings and elicits enthusiastic chuckles in equal measure… sure to satisfy fans while welcoming new ones to the fold with open arms.” In addition to his career as a novelist, Edward Kelsey Moore is also a nationally renowned cellist and accomplished music essayist.