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Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed

An Arts and Literature podcast
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Authors of hard-boiled, pulp, mystery, and suspense reveal secrets about their fiction, and the writing life. All interviews are conducted by Clute and Edwards, creators of the popular podcast "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir." More info at


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Recent Episodes

Episode 28: Michael Connelly Revealed
THE BRASS VERDICT, the nineteenth novel from #1 New York Times Bestselling author Michael Connelly, gives definitive proof that Connelly is the most gifted crime writer since Raymond Chandler. Those with a debt to Chandler typically lack either the research skills, the knowledge of Los Angeles, or the soul for the job. Connelly has it all. Utilizing his skills as a former journalist, he not only nails the facts of legal and police business, he captures the complex psychology of his characters. Defense lawyer Mickey Haller and detective Harry Bosch are not pure heroes, they are men: they are not lovable, but they are competent and often admirable. To paraphrase Chandler, they have a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to them by right, because it belongs to the world they live in. It is above all in this melding of characters and setting that Connelly excels. Los Angeles is not a scenic backdrop, it is the master force that shapes all else, and we could not imagine Haller or Bosch being a part of any other world. But what is most remarkable about THE BRASS VERDICT is the way Connelly is able to recompose these sonorous echoes of Chandler into his own composition, settle them into his own score—with this world. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed" at
Episode 27: Scott Phillips Revealed
It is hard to imagine a sequel that is any more tightly intertwined with, or distinct from, its predecessor than Scott Phillips's 2002 THE WALKAWAY. His 2000 debut novel THE ICE HARVEST was a tight tale of one day in the tragicomic life of small-time Wichita mobster Charlie Arglist. THE WALKAWAY is an ambitious prequel-sequel to that bestseller, a complex narrative that alternates between first and third person points of view, and three different time frames. It opens in the immediate aftermath of the fateful accident that ended the first book, then traces the life of Gunther Fahnstiel, from his morally ambiguous young adulthood the prepared him for that fateful accident, to his current advanced age as he tries to remember how he became the man he is—and how he might still profit by it. If the first novel was the portrait of a man in his boudoir, THE WALKAWAY is like one of those vast tapestries you see on castle walls: caught in the weft and warp of fragile memory are entire genealogies of morally deficiently but somehow noble middle-America hoodlums. It is the Comédie humaine of Kansas, and establishes Phillips as a writer of vast talent and ambition who refuses to write the same type of story twice. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed" at
Episode 26: George Pelecanos Revealed
THE TURNAROUND, George Pelecanos's fifteenth novel, is the work of a mature writer at the top of his game. It is a thoughtful examination of one event that permanently alters the lives of six young men—three black, three white. The story is both as straightforward and as complex as the characters it involves, and pulls the reader in through their palpable suffering. By creating such intimacy with this ensemble cast, Pelecanos is able to explore some of the most pressing issues facing America today—race, class, and the foreign war that districts us from these domestic battles—with depth and nuance, and without any trace of artificiality or authorial tampering. A less experienced or less gifted writer would have been tempted, in handling such material, to deliver a message, and so would have ruined a story that is infinitely more rich because it stays focused on the people it involves. Pelecanos reveals how his youthful aspirations to be a filmmaker, his experience writing for HBO's THE WIRE, and his work on the Derek Strange and Terry Quinn books all prepared him to write this understated masterpiece that is THE TURNAROUND. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed at
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Podcast Details
Jul 15th, 2006
Latest Episode
Jun 3rd, 2011
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
39 minutes

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