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Publishers Weekly Raves about ‘Enjoyable’ and ‘Fun’ Mystery, “The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O’Keeffe”

Orenduff_PotThiefOKeeffeAs readers of this blog may recall from earlier posts, I represent J. Michael Orenduff, author of the POT THIEF mystery series, which in 2009 became an indie- and self-publishing success. In 2013, we licensed the six-book series to Open Road Integrated Media for new ebook and trade paperback editions, and Open Road began publishing the books—The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein, The Pot Thief Who Studied EscoffierThe Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid—in 2014. The seventh book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O’Keeffe, will be published in January 2016, and in recent weeks we’ve been receiving blurbs for the new book, and today we got the first advance review, a strong, selling notice from Publishers Weekly, pasted in below.

One of the endorsements came from Anne Hillerman—daughter of the late mystery master Tony Hillerman, a personal favorite—who’s renewed the bestsellerdom of her father with new novels featuring Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito, and longtime series characters Lt Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee in Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock With Wings. Hillerman said this about the latest POT THIEF book:

“The newest installment in J. Michael Orenduff’s smartly funny series is filled with wild situations, clever word play, and a good helping of fast-paced action. I loved every twist and turn.”

Here’s that Publishers Weekly review:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as we have a final cover I’ll post it here. Congrats to the author and Open Road on the excellent review. This link connects to Open Road’s ordering page for the books.

J. Michael Orenduff’s POT THIEF Mysteries on Sale Today from Open Road

J. Michael OrenduffReaders of this blog may recall that I’ve posted about author J. Michael Orenduff (l.), whom I represent as his literary agent. He’s written the delightful POT THIEF mystery series, which were an indie- and self-publishing success beginning in 2009. Last year I licensed the six-book series to Open Road Integrated Media for new ebook and paperback editions. I’m happy to post today that the new POT THIEF editions have just gone on sale from Open Road, whose site leads to all the major ebook and brick & mortar booksellers, such as  OverdriveGooglePlay; Indiebound and Amazon.

As a devoted mystery reader myself, I adored these books when I first read them in 2011. They’re set in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, featuring dealer in Native America pottery Hubie Schutz and his sidekick in sleuthing, wise-cracking Susannah Inchaustigui, a descendant of one of the region’s old-line Basque ranching families. They meet most afternoons at Hermanas Tortilleria, to sip margaritas and discuss their latest puzzler. After years running Undercover Books, a bookstore where I sold lots of mysteries, and as an editor publishing mysteries, I am especially excited that the many readers of Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries, also set in the American Southwest, will now also be able to discover the POT THIEF books. In their earlier editions the POT THIEF books won numerous awards and raves from mystery readers, including Anne Hillerman, the late mystery master’s daughter who’s recently revived the bestsellerdom of her father’s series with her own book, Spider Woman’s Daughter, featuring Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito. Hillerman said this about the sixth POT THIEF book:

“I inhaled this book. Witty, well-crafted and filled with unexpected plot turns, The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid will delight J. Michael Orenduff’s many fans—and win him new ones.”

If you haven’t yet heard of Open Road, please note they have more than 3000 active titles, including five books by my longtime author Ruth Gruber, as well as titles by dozens of important authors such as William Styron, Rachel Carson, Andre Dubus, Sherman Alexie, and Mary Glickman, always in digital editions, and sometimes in print editions, too. They’ve been operating for about five years, innovating and growing along with the emerging ebook market. The company was profiled last year in a profile at paidcontent.org.

If I were still running a bookstore, I would urge all my mystery-loving customers to read the POT THIEF books. Please click here to see Open Road’s new covers with their uniform look.Enjoy!

#FridayReads, Jan 24–Barry Lancet’s Gripping Thriller “Japantown”


From 1992-97, when I worked for Kodansha America, the US division of the major Japanese publisher, I had many interesting and talented colleagues, some of whom worked in New York, and others at the home office in Tokyo. My colleagues included both Westerners and Japanese. I didn’t often meet the ones who worked in Japan, but would occasionally see their names on inter-office memos and catalog materials. Among this group was Les Pockell, a lithe and witty fellow who after many years with the company in Tokyo came back to New York, working for Warner Books, later called Grand Central. He was also an anthologist of poetry and story collections. Sadly, Les died in 2010 at age 68. A Japanese colleague working in New York those years was my boss, Minato Asakawa, whose idea it was to publish Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, the autobiography of two African-American sisters, Sadie and Elizabeth Delany, then both more than 100 years old. It became a huge bestseller in hardcover and paperback, and was adapted into a Broadway play. Under Asakawa, I had the opportunity to acquire and publish many terrific books, such as A Diary of the Century: Tales from American’s Greatest Diarist by Edward Robb Ellis, and his one-volume hsitory, The Epic of New York City. Together, Asakawa and I published the Kodansha Globe series, which in many ways anticipated the fine list published nowadays by the New York Review of Books Classics imprint. Kodansha Globe combined titles in cross-cultural studies, anthropology, natural history, adventure, narrative travel and belle lettres. By the time I left Kodansha in 1997 we had published more than ninety Globe titles, including the first paperback edition of Barack Obama’s first book Dreams From My Father.

Another Westerner in the Tokyo contingent, though one I never met face-to-face was editor Barry Lancet. Last year, I read in PublishersMarketplace.com that Barry was going to debut as an author, publishing his first novel, a thriller. I made a mental note of that good news, and before I could get in touch with Barry to renew our old acquaintanceship, a mutual friend in the book business, publicity professional Jeff Rutherford, put Barry in touch with me. We exchanged personal and professional news and I congratulated him on publication of his first book. I was pleased then when in December I got a copy of Japantown from his editor at Simon & Schuster. After working through a lot of reading that piled up during the holidays, I started Japantown this week, and am totally engrossed by it. Here’s a rundown with no plot points you wouldn’t pick up in the first quarter of the novel.

The book is at first set in San Francisco where protagonist Jim Brodie works as a dealer in Asian antiquities** at the same time maintaining connection with the private detective agency his late father founded and ran in Tokyo, with many local employees. In the wake of the death of the younger Brodie’s wife Mieko in a mysterious and unsolved fire, Brodie’s a single dad living with his grade school age daughter, Jenny. Combining his two areas of expertise, Brodie is the new go-to-guy when the San Francisco Police Department find itself investigating a grisly mass murder with Japanese victims and characteristics: A Japanese family of five has been gunned down after dark in a public park. At the scene, Brodie finds only one clue, a paper artifact emblazoned with the same written character (kanji in Japanese) as was found at the scene of his wife’s death. Brodie doesn’t realize, though the reader knows, that even as he surveys the scene of the brutal killing he and Renna are being surveilled with lenses and cameras by unknown agents. Though not knowing the extent of the surveillance he’s under, he senses someone’s watching him, at his gallery and even at home with Jenny. With the obscure kanji in hand, Brodie undertakes an investigative trip to Japan, first putting Jenny in to the protective embrace of a police safe house. Once in Japan, the malign forces behind the killings begin taking aim at Brodie and one of his most trusted colleagues, Noda.

All the past work week I was looking for more time to read Japantown, and I’m glad it’s now the weekend, with some uninterrupted time for reading. Lancet’s writing is vivid and economical and the plotting assured. If you want to learn more about Lancet and his background, including some very good advice for aspiring writers, I suggest you visit his website or follow him on twitter @BarryLancet. I’ll post more about his book later, but for now I want to say I recommend it highly.
WEDNESDAY JAN 29 UPDATE I finished Japantown the other day and it was great to the last page! A totally gripping international thriller. I’ll post more about it later. Best thing is, I believe Barry Lancet’s already working on Book II.

** Antiquities dealer is a profession I’m partial to in mysteries, like the POT THIEF series for which I’m the agent, with J. Michael Orenduff’s six books which went on sale this week from Open Road. In the POT THIEF books, set in an Albuquerque, main character Hubie Schuze is a dealer in Native American ceramics, and a capable ceramicist himself. The books are memorably titled:  The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras,The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy,The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein,The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier,The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid. As the titles suggest, Hubie’s reading and appreciation of classic texts by, and the venerable lives of scientists, writers, a chef and an outlaw, make for enjoyable mystery fiction.

#FridayReads, Oct 11–Ben Urwand’s “The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact w/Hitler” & Anne Hillerman’s “Spider Woman’s Daughter”

Collaboration#FridayReads, Oct 11–Ben Urwand’s The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler & Anne Hillerman’s Spider Woman’s Daughter, a new installment in the long-running Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee mystery series established by her late father, the mystery master Tony Hillerman.

Notwithstanding the controversy I’ve reported on earlier that’s greeted publication of The Collaboration, which I had made part of my #FridayReads a few weeks ago, I have been continuing to methodically read it, even while still reading fiction. It’s ironic about all the hubbub, because I am finding it so far, about 80 pages in, an unsensational, moderately engrossing and well-documented account.

The narrative opens by examining “All Quiet on the Western Front,” the 1930 WWI drama released by Universal Pictures that to German officials, dangerously advocated pacifism while also showing cowardice and dishonorable conduct by their troops. The government, two years before Hitler was to win power, viewed it as a threat to to the nation, and sought to have whole passages of the film cut, scenes changed, and dialogue rewritten.  They threatened to remove it from all German screens, and to make it harder for other American pictures to be exhibited in Germany.

After this key opening example, the book becomes a chronicle of the willing cooperation of some American film industry executives–who along with a number of American functionaries and bureaucrats, and at least one Jewish communal organization, the Los Angeles branch of the Anti-Defamation League–worked to suppress American-made movies being produced about contemporary Germany.  Some of this suppression was triggered by German trade officials who after the Great War’s ignominy zealously attacked films from foreign countries that seemed to hyper-sensitive German governments (even preceding Nazi rule) prejudicial against their country and “damaging to their reputation abroad,” or potentially “demoralizing to morale” at home, as they put it, as with “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Hitler was an enthusiast of cinema and theatrical performances of all kinds, as earlier shown in a book I edited and published,  Ibsen and Hitler: The Playwright, the Plagiarist, and the Plot for the  Third Reich. Once Hitler was in power, with hyper-awareness of both the positive and the damaging  effects of propaganda, he focused his regime on how messages might be spread by movies. With that, the Nazis began even more aggressively lobbying foreign filmmakers to alter the scripts of movies in production, or edit and recut ones already being exhibited on German screens.

For a rundown of the controversy surrounding the book and the overheated things some of its critics have said about it, please see my recent post, Questioning the Critical Reaction to Ben Urwand’s “The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact w/Hitler”Collaboration blurbs

A Second #FridayReads, Spider Woman’s Daughter, Anne Hillerman’s new Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Mystery Novel

While reading The Collaboration, I am intercutting it with Anne Hillerman’s Spider Woman’s Daughter. I’ve read and loved the Leaphorn and Chee series for years, and made his 1982 book Dark Wind one of my #FridayReads last year.Hillerman paperbacks

Tony died in 2008. About the revival of the series, Anne has written, “When I emerged from the worst of my grief after Dad’s death, I realized that I was also mourning the end of his mystery series. I missed those detectives [Leaphorn and Chee], and I especially regretted that Bernadette Manuelito would never get a book that put her in the spotlight. And then I thought: I could try writing Bernie’s book myself. . . .In addition to Tony Hillerman’s Landscape, I had written several other books, so I knew part of the challenge that faced me. I jotted down some ideas as a rough outline and got to work.”

I’m loving her new book. The protagonist, Bernadette, is a young police officer in Navajo Country, married to Jim Chee, who learned how to be a cop under the tutelage of Joe Leaphorn, wise man of the tribal police force. She witnesses a startling assault on a fellow cop in the book’s opening chapters, which forces her to the sidelines of an important investigation. Despite her chief’s order to drop any involvement with the case, she continues trying to riddle it out, even while Chee and her fellow officers pursue every lead. Bernie’s unauthorized efforts take her all across the dramatic landscape of Navajo Country, speaking with people who may help her understand what’s really going on. Just as in Tony’s books, the sense of place and people is indelible.

Coincidentally, over the summer, working as literary agent for author J. Michael Orenduff, I licensed his 6-book POT THIEF mystery series to Open Road Integrated Media who will publish them in ebook and print editions in January 2014. The books are are set in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, and feature dealer in Native American pottery Hubie Schutz. They’re titled The Pot Thief Who Studied PythagorasThe Pot Thief Who Studied PtolemyThe Pot Thief Who Studied EinsteinThe Pot Thief Who Studied EscoffierThe Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid.  When not digging in the desert for ancient pots, or crafting copies of artifacts with his own hands, Hubie’s usually absorbed in reading a classic text. In their earlier editions, the POT THIEF books won numerous awards and raves from mystery readers, including this one from Anne Hillerman herself: “I inhaled this book. Witty, well-crafted and filled with unexpected plot turns, The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid will delight J. Michael Orenduff’s many fans—and win him new ones.”

It’s a small world out there for mystery writers and readers and I’m really excited that Anne Hillerman’s brought back her father’s great characters, and that fans of the Leaphorn and Chee books will soon be able to discover and enjoy the POT THIEF mysteries.Anne HillermanAnne Hillerman back cover

 

The POT THIEF Mystery Series–Licensed to Open Road Integrated Media

I’m happy to announce that as literary agent for author J. Michael Orenduff, in conjunction with the Silver Bitela Agency, my company Philip Turner Book Productions recently licensed the six-book POT THIEF mystery series to Open Road Integrated Media, a major player in digital publishing. The books, previously self-published by Mr. Orenduff, are The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier, The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid. They will all be published by Open Road in print and digital editions beginning in 2014.

As a devoted mystery reader myself, I adore the POT THIEF books and have earlier written about them here. They are set in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, featuring dealer in Native America pottery Hubie Schutz and his sidekick in sleuthing, wise-cracking Susannah Inchaustigui, a descendant of one of the region’s old-line Basque ranching families. They meet most afternoons at Hermanas Tortilleria, to sip margaritas and discuss their latest puzzler. After years running Undercover Books, a bookstore where I sold lots of mysteries, and as an editor publishing mysteries, I know the mystery market well and am particularly excited that the many readers of Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries, also set in the American Southwest, will now also be able to discover the POT THIEF books. In their earlier editions, the POT THIEF books won numerous awards and raves from mystery readers, including this one from Anne Hillerman, the late mystery master’s daughter: “I inhaled this book. Witty, well-crafted and filled with unexpected plot turns, The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid will delight J. Michael Orenduff’s many fans—and win him new ones.”

If you haven’t yet heard of Open Road, I suggest you visit their website. They have more than 3000 active titles, including five books by my longtime author Ruth Gruber, as well as titles by dozens of important authors such as William Styron, Rachel Carson, Andre Dubus, and Mary Glickman, always in digital editions, and sometimes in print editions, too. They’ve been operating for three years, innovating and growing along with the emerging ebook market. The company was recently profiled in an excellent piece via this link at paidcontent.org. 

I’m delighted for my author J. Michael Orenduff and also very pleased to be working with Ed Silver and Babz Bitela of the Silver Bitela Agency, who are representing the POT THIEF brand for film and TV rights. In fact, they are already sharing with producers an excellent screenplay based on the series, written by previously credited screenwriter, Robert C. Powers.  Announcements of the deal I made with Open Road have appeared in Publishers Weekly and in PublishersMarketplace.com, both of which mention the Silver Bitela Agency (these may only be available by subscription so I’ve made screenshots of both to be sure they can be read by GGB readers). Happy I could share this great news the same week as Book Expo America (BEA), the book industry’s annual convention, taking place at NYC’s Javits Center May 30-June 1. Please click here to see deal coverage from the two book industry outlets.