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Three Subgenres in Crime Fiction: Three New Novels

Subgenres in Crime Fiction – something for every reader!

One Military Thriller, One Historical Mystery, and One Suspense Thriller

There are a lot of subgenres in crime fiction. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll love discovering these debut authors and their brand new releases! I’m thrilled to introduce Al Pessin, Erica Ruth Neubauer, and Richard Santos.

The Author

Subgenre: Thriller Writer
Al Pessin

Al Pessin is an award-winning journalist, author and playwright.  Al was a journalist for the Voice of America for 39 years, including correspondent postings in Hong Kong, Islamabad, Beijing, Jerusalem and London.

He was a member of the White House press corps in the 1990s, making frequent trips with President Clinton. From 2006-11, Al covered the Pentagon, traveling with Secretaries Rumsfeld and Gates, and senior military officers, including numerous trips to the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones.

Al covered democracy movements on Manila’s EDSA Boulevard, Kyiv’s Independence Square and Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, among many other assignments.

He was expelled from China after the Tiananmen Massacre for “illegal news gathering” and “fomenting counter-revolutionary rebellion.”

Among other honors, that year he won a Gold Medal at the International Radio Festivals of New York and the Communicator of the Year Award from the National Association of Government Communicators.

Al has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Politico,, DefenseOne and several other publications. He is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild. Al lives in Delray Beach, FL with his wife Audrey and their precocious Labrador Rory.

To learn more about Al, click on his name or photo or any of the following links: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

The Book: Subgenre: Military Thriller

Subgenre in Crime Fiction
Military Thriller

Sandblast takes you inside a Taliban camp with undercover American soldier Faraz Abdallah, who is trying to find and stop the terrorist mastermind before an attack expected to be more devastating than 9-11.

As Faraz swirls into the vortex of radical Islam and is forced to become a terrorist, his boss at the Pentagon, Bridget Davenport, a woman with West Point and two combat tours behind her, has to fight the top brass and even the president to keep Faraz alive and keep his mission on track.

With the attack imminent and Faraz exposed, they find that in today’s wars any success comes at enormous cost, and no victory is absolute.

To buy the book, click on the following links: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

The Interview

Describe your publishing journey:

I had been thinking about Sandblast for ten years by the time I sat down to write it in August of 2015.

I worked with editor Lourdes Venard at Comma Sense Editing, made use of my many journalist, military and writer friends as beta-readers, and finished a solid draft in about a year.

I found an agent at a large New York agency fairly quickly, and worked with her for another year on further drafts. In the end, I severed that relationship when she decided not to do some things she had said she would.

My second query and pitch effort led me to several more interested agents and publishers. It came to fruition after about another year, I’m very pleased to say, when editor Michaela Hamilton offered me a three-book contract with Kensington Publishing.

By the time Sandblast is published, it will have been four years, seven months since I first put finger to keyboard. By then, I will have also finished the first sequel, Blowback, and I’ll be well into writing Book Three in the series, which we’ve dubbed the Task Force Epsilon thrillers.

The subgenre of Military Thrillers require either real world experience or extensive research.

 What inspired you to write this novel?

One day in the mid 2000s, I was walking through the pentagon-shaped courtyard in the middle of the Pentagon, when I came upon hundreds of people sitting in rows of white folding chairs at a ceremony. One person in the middle of each cluster of people was wearing a U.S. military uniform.

I soon realized that the civilians with them were members of their families. Each group had its own ethnic look, and many of them were in traditional clothes – silk dresses from Thailand and China, colorful outfits from African countries, white Barong Tagalog shirts from the Philippines, and many others.

The service-members themselves also wore different-colored uniforms – navy white, air force blue, army green, marine corps khaki, coast guard blue – each with their unique style of hat.

At that moment, a senior official on the stage asked the military members to stand and raise their right hands. Some held bibles or other holy books in their left hands. Their families literally looked up at them, the sun shining on their faces, as they recited the oath to become United States citizens.

You may not know that non-citizens can serve in the U.S. military, as long as they are legal residents. These people had made a commitment to serve their new country in a way that most native-born Americans don’t. And now, after meeting all the requirements, they were becoming citizens, in some cases years after joining the military.

As you can imagine, it was a very emotional moment for the service-members, their families and the rest of us bystanders. I resolved then to write something that would in some way honor their service. That led to the creation of my main character, Afghan-American soldier Faraz Abdallah.

I also wanted to include a character to honor the many wonderful military and civilian women I had met in the national security community. During that same period, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden was in full swing.

So, the three things came together in my mind to form the basic plot of Sandblast. It took me ten years to actually sit down and start to write it, but I never forgot the original inspirations.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the third book in the Task Force Epsilon series. It’s been an interesting process to go from novice to self-doubting sophomore to relatively-speaking journeyman novelist, all in a few years.

When I speak at seminars, I tell the students the most important four words I will say to them are, “Take a professional approach.”

That means learning the craft, participating in critique groups, subscribing to magazines, blogs and websites, attending conferences, entering contests, hiring editors and taking a serious approach to querying and pitching.

It seemed like it took forever, but my journey was reasonable compared to some others. ‘Taking a professional approach’ is what got me across the finish line.

Wow! So much going on for you. Congratulations on your debut novel and all the books yet to come. I look forward to hearing about your journey!

The Author

Erica Ruth Neubauer

Erica Ruth Neubauer spent eleven years in the military, nearly two as a Maryland police officer and one as a high school English teacher before finding her way as a writer.

She has been a reviewer of mysteries and crime fiction for publications such as Publishers Weekly and Mystery Scene Magazine for several years, and she’s a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Erica Ruth lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband.

To learn more about Erica, click on her name, photo, or any of the following links: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Book: Subgenre: Historical Mystery

Subgenre in Crime Fiction
Historical Mystery

“A thrilling new series!”
—Victoria Thompson, national bestselling author of Murder on Union Square

It’s 1926, and Jane Wunderly is an American widow traveling with her wealthy aunt to Egypt.

She is accused of the murder of an unpleasant young flapper and finds that she needs to uncover everyone’s secrets to clear her own name.

To buy the book, click on any of the following links: IndieBound, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

The Interview

Describe your publishing journey:

Murder at the Mena House is my first manuscript. I wrote a really rough first draft and then put it away for a few months before pulling it back out and working on it again.

I had a few friends in the mystery community take a look and give me some advice, and then I worked on re-writes for quite a few months before I hired a freelance editor to work with me on it.

Once she thought I was ready, I sent it out to agents. I collected a fair share of rejections before a friend reached out to one of the agents I really wanted to work with—he knew her from conferences and mentioned that I had queried her.

That agent had me re-submit my query—which had been lost in the shuffle—and I ended up signing with her. She sent out my novel and I got picked up in the first round of submissions by Kensington.

“My dad raised me on Masterpiece Mystery and all the old Agatha Christie movies and shows.”

What inspired you to write this novel?

My dad raised me on Masterpiece Mystery and all the old Agatha Christie movies and shows.

Somewhere I picked up very romantic ideas about Egypt in the 1920’s, and had been wanting to read something set there—in a grand hotel with slow turning fans overhead and everyone is dressed in fabulous clothing but are all suspects in a murder.

I was sitting with my best friend on the porch one afternoon reading Ashley Weaver’s Murder at the Brightwell and it struck me that I wanted to write something similar to that, but set in that 1920’s Egyptian setting. So I did.

What are you working on now?

I am actually working on the third in the series right now. The second book is set in an English manor house, and this third book is set on a transatlantic cruise. Same characters, new locations.

The subgenre of historical mysteries requires a different kind of research than the contemporary mystery. Not just the nuts and bolts of  crimes and investigations, but the everyday experiences of a specific time period. In this case, it also required an understanding of another country and culture.

The Writer

Suspense Thriller
Richard Santos
  • Richard Z. Santos is a writer and high school teacher living in Austin. His debut novel, Trust Me, will be released by Arte Público Press on 3/31/2020.He is a Board Member of the National Book Critics Circle and served as a non-fiction judge for the 2019 Kirkus Prize. ​He is also an Associate Editor for American Short Fiction. Click on the “My Work” page for links to many essays, stories, poems, reviews, and profiles.

    Before becoming a writer and teacher, Richard lived in Washington, DC and worked for some of the nation’s top campaigns, political consulting firms, and labor unions.

    Richard has an MFA from Texas State University and has taught at Texas State, Georgetown University, and The University of the District of Columbia.

To learn more about Richard, click his name, photo or the following links: Facebook , Instagram, and Twitter,

The Book: Subgenre: Suspense Thriller

Subgenre in Crime Fiction
Suspense Thriller

Trust Me is a story about drug dealing, corruption, and land rights in Santa Fe.

A development group has bought land from a Native American pueblo in order to build Santa Fe’s first modern airport, but a skeleton is found on the construction site which grinds everything to a halt.

Charles O’Connell, a washed up east coast politico who almost followed his previous candidate to prison, gets a job offer out of nowhere and heads to Santa Fe to work on public relations for the airport project.

He quickly realizes he’s in way over his head and has to decide if it’s worth finally making some money, even if there’s more than a few risks.

At the same time, Gabe Luna loses his job on the airport site and double crosses a dangerous friend to get the money he needs to reconnect with his estranged teenage son.

To buy the book, click on any of the following links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

The Interview

Describe your publishing journey:

My publishing journey has been long and winding!

I wrote and rewrote this novel several times but still couldn’t get any traction with it. After I received my 50th agent rejection, I put it away.

But then Arte Público Press won the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award and I saw they have open submissions.

I decided to give it one more shot and sent it their way. A month later they told me they wanted the book and here we are!

Richard’s Suspense Thriller also falls into the subgenres of literary fiction and Hispanic American Literature

What inspired you to write this novel?

This book was inspired by my time working in politics and my connection to Santa Fe.

I used to work in Washington, DC and took a campaign job in New Mexico.

My mother’s family is from New Mexico and I knew the state well but I had never lived there.

Spending a year in Santa Fe really opened my eyes to the complexities and contradictions of the state and I knew I wanted to write a book featuring these themes.

What are you working on now?

I have a complete draft of a second novel called Every Family Is A Conspiracy Theory. It’s set about two weeks after a massive societal upheaval has caused society to grind to a halt and basically reboot.

Kind of weird timing I realize now!

The two main characters are a brother and sister whose mother went missing just before the upheaval and are realizing no one is interested in looking for their mother with so much chaos happening around them.

As they learn more about their mother they realize how little they knew about her.

They all sound fascinating! Thanks for spending time with us today and congratulations on your debuts!

Header photo by Anhur on Pixabay. Click the link here for more information.

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.

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