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A WRITER PREPARES by Lawrence Block

Prolific author and anthology editor Lawrence Block began A Writer Prepares as a memoir of his early years in publishing, from ages fifteen to twenty-eight, 1953 to 1966. He wrote about half the book in 1994, but shelved it until early 2020. Publishing it himself today, his eighty-third birthday, Block considers his early career from two perspectives roughly twenty-five years apart. Having earned creative writing degrees in college, I'm a fan not only of Block's fiction but also his capacity for insight into what he's written and his ability to communicate it, to teach. Though A Writer Prepares covers wide and multiple stretches of time, it's told in the same down-to-earth, conversational tone as his popular writing manuals and again shows his knack for hooking readers. I particularly appreciate A Writer Prepares after the pandemic year we've had, during which no doubt we've all pondered mortality, and on which Block also spontaneously touches. Happy bi
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Ace Atkins's tenth Spenser continuation, fiftieth in the regular series, is due out November 23, 2021. The synopsis at the Penguin Randon House website sees our hero hired to investigate threats against a progressive Boston congresswoman (apparently based on New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). I look forward to another topical read that lets Spenser weigh in on the issues of the day. Also of interest to Atkins fans, he was recently interviewed by Arkansas author, former quarterback and coach Eli Cranor for CrimeReads . To keep up with all my book coverage, follow me on Twitter @g_so .

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In Lupica's third Sunny Randall continuation, to be published May 4, Sunny's best friend Spike turns to her when hedge fund manager Alex Drysdale takes ownership of Spike's restaurant through a predatory loan agreement. At the same time, Sunny's cop friend Lee Farrell turns to her when his college student niece Emily is beaten. Some novelists may understandably avoid the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lupica includes it to good effect as the reason Spike needed a loan from Drysdale despite warning signs. The author does also take some license, setting the novel in the near future we hope for, when masks are no longer needed. Book design by Katy Riegel Robert B. Parker's Payback is a twisty tale of Sunny following Drysdale's money, as usual calling on competing flames Irish mobster ex-husband Richie Burke and Paradise police chief Jesse Stone and other connections across Parker's—and now Lupica's—body of work. Thanks again to Putnam Books' K


Ace Atkins' ninth Spenser continuation novel was originally scheduled to be published November 17, but printing and distribution issues have delayed it to January 12, 2021. Fortunately, Putnam Books ' publicist Nicole Biton sent me an advance ebook to review. Book design by Katy Riegel Mattie Sullivan, introduced as the young client in Atkins' 2012 first Spenser ( Robert B. Parker's Lullaby ), returns as a 22-year-old apprentice, taking the case of 15-year-old Chloe Turner, molested by a much older man at Boston's posh Blackstone gentlemen's club. Mattie's investigation leads to hedge fund billionaire Peter Steiner, his British socialite companion Patricia "Poppy" Palmer, and their perverse, private pleasure island in the Bahamas. Steiner and Palmer are inspired by notorious sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and his companion Ghislane Maxwell. Atkins has Mattie drive the investigation knowing she would better empathize with the couple's victims

Ace Atkins' 9th Spenser continuation rescheduled to January 12, 2021

Printing and distribution issues have delayed publication of Robert B. Parker's Someone to Watch Over Me , originally set for November 17, 2020. Introduced as a young client in Atkins' 2012 first Spenser novel ( Robert B. Parker's Lullaby ), Mattie Sullivan has since started college and an apprenticeship with Spenser. Backed by Spenser and Hawk, Mattie investigates the assault of fifteen-year-old Chloe Turner by a much older man at a private club, leading to a sex trafficking ring linked to an eccentric billionaire. More details from Penguin Random House's website.


In Lupica's first Jesse Stone continuation, on sale September 8. the police chief of Paradise, MA recognizes the drowned body of a shooting victim as a fellow member of Alcoholics Anonymous he'd met shortly before. Tracing the man's last movements leads to the home of Paradise's powerful Cain family. As the small police force continues to investigate, Jesse is shot at, Molly Crane's home is invaded, and Suitcase Simpson receives a mail bomb. Book design: Nancy Resnick As daunting as it is to try and follow the late Parker, Robert B. Parker's Fool's Paradise also follows Reed Farrel Coleman's well-received continuation run, Coleman changing publishers. With Parker cred from two Sunny Randall followups, Lupica similarly evokes the creator's style here, continues Coleman's recent storylines, reunites Jesse with Sunny, and knowledgeably updates characters from the subplot of Parker's fourth Stone novel, Stone Cold , the basis of the movie that