Five Songs that Inspired and Influenced Blessed ar...

I cannot imagine writing a novel that doesn’t have music mentioned in it. My debut mystery, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, also mentions the theme song for the Cops TV show, but that probably doesn’t count. I include music in my novels to not only set a mood, but, also, sometimes, to make a subtle statement. Here are my five songs in the order they appear in Blessed are the Dead. 1. UB40’s “Red, Red Wine” My character, Italian-American newspaper reporter Gabriella Giovanni has pushed back her own personal tragedy for years but in this book she’s going to have to confront that dark past. Driving home one night, she has the first premonition of this...

David Handler: 5 Favorite Films From My Youth

Hey, it’s not by accident that Mitch Berger, one of the heroes of my Berger-Mitry series, is a film critic. I spent immense chunks of my childhood sitting in the dark watching old movies on television exactly like Mitch did. “Everything I know in life I learned from the movies,” he tells Des Mitry when they first set eyes on each other in The Cold Blue Blood. That goes double for me. I also learned a huge amount about how to tell a story from watching movies, and those lessons have stayed with me my whole life. Even now, as I celebrate the publication of my 22nd novel, The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb, which is my tenth Berger-Mitry mystery, I’m...

Patrick Lee: Five Books That Changed My Life

THE STAND by Stephen King I first read The Stand in junior high, after it was re-released in its extended, uncut form. This book is like a master class in creating interesting characters, and experiencing a story through their various points of view. If we say a “speaking part” is any character whose eyes we see through, however briefly, there are dozens of distinct speaking parts in this book, and ten or more that are major roles. I’ve re-read the book a few times over the years, and it always reinforces what I only partly understood the first time I picked it up: that as a writer, you can use different characters in the...

MY TOP 5 TRUE CRIME BOOKS

ECHOES IN THE DARKNESS by Joseph Wambaugh. This story of a looking-for-love schoolteacher who falls for a co-worker with the gift of gab and little else was one of my first introductions to what true crime could be: fascinating, twisty, sad, tedious, sometime humorous, very, very real and all written by one of the most deft, sure hands ever. PROPHET OF DEATH by Pete Earley. I found this case of the self-proclaimed prophet who killed an utterly unsuspecting family of five of his own followers splashed across my local paper one snowy morning. In another few years I would be working at the Cleveland area coroner’s office which investigated the...

5 things that inspired WATCHING YOU

It was only after I finished writing WATCHING YOU that I thought about what might have inspired the story. I don’t plot my psychological thrillers in advance, so I didn’t know what was going to happen when I created the character of Marnie Logan. The hook was simply this: what if a woman had been stalked her entire life?   MARNIE When I came up with the name Marnie (short for Marnella) I wasn’t thinking about the classic Hitchock film of the same name or the 1961 novel by Winston Graham. I don’t remember seeing or reading either of them, but perhaps subconsciously they played a part. Both young women are extremely troubled, but rather...

5 New-Tech Items I Like

1. The iStun: In Once a Spy, which I wrote in 2008, a spy uses a million-volt stun gun that’s disguised as an iPhone. When the book was published in 2010, readers thought the device stretched credulity. Today not only are such devices available online for $35, they have 3.8 million volts. 2. Flying cars: Below, the innovative Audi Shark flying car, winner of the World Auto Design Contest. All it lacks is the technology to make it fly.    But the tech isn’t far off. In fact it’s been around almost as long as the non-flying car. Shown here is Jess Dixon’s Flying Automobile, from 1940 (flew fine, but didn’t...