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Forthcoming First Novel Wins Extraordinary Raves

Published on 2 April, 2012

Authored by Titan Books

A unique first novel by former bookseller and sometime literary detective Ariel S. Winter is earning extraordinary advance praise, announced Charles Ardai, editor of the award-winning Hard Case Crime imprint, which will publish THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH on August 7.  A dozen esteemed authors including Stephen King, Peter Straub, Alice Sebold, James Frey, John Banville, Stephen Dixon, and David Morrell have come out in enthusiastic support of this young Baltimore writer’s debut novel.  (See their full quotes at the end of this release.)

“I’ve never seen such an outpouring of acclaim for a new writer from authors of such prominence,” said Ardai.  “When you read the book, you understand why.  It really is a tremendous achievement, a work like no other I’ve read.”

THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH tells the story of a writer and his wife whose lives are torn apart by violence and calamity – but tells it in the form of three separate, complete novels, each set in a different decade (1931, 1941, 1951) and each written in a style inspired by a different giant of the mystery genre: Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson.  Although each of the three novels is self-contained, featuring its own detectives, plot, and resolution, the three are woven together into a larger meta-narrative through the presence of characters who reappear in all three books, moving from background figures in the first to take on more prominent roles in the second and fully occupy the harsh glare of the spotlight in the third. 

“Not content with writing one first novel like ordinary mortals,” commented James Frey, “Ariel Winter has written three – and in the style of some of the most famous crime writers of all time for good measure. It's a virtuoso act of literary recreation that's both astonishingly faithful and wildly, audaciously original.”

In addition to his years as a bookseller for The Corner Bookstore in New York City and Borders in Baltimore, Winter is also the author of the blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie, devoted to the rediscovery of long-forgotten children’s books written by literary icons such as John Updike, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein.  His writing has appeared in The Urbanite and on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and in 2008 he won the Free Press “Who Can Save Us Now?” short story contest.  He also has a children’s picture book – One of a Kind (Aladdin) – coming out this year.

THE TWENTY-YEAR DEATH will be published simultaneously in hardcover and e-book editions, with a cover painting in the classic pulp style by Charles Pyle.  Hollywood star Rose McGowan (Grindhouse, The Black Dahlia, Charmed) posed for the cover in the role of the book’s femme fatale.


“Bold, innovative, and thrilling – The Twenty-Year Death crackles with suspense and will keep you up late.”

                        -- Stephen King


“Not content with writing one first novel like ordinary mortals, Ariel Winter has written three – and in the style of some of the most famous crime writers of all time for good measure. It's a virtuoso act of literary recreation that's both astonishingly faithful and wildly, audaciously original. One hell of a debut.”

                        -- James Frey


The Twenty-Year Death is a bravura debut, ingenious and assured, and a fitting tribute to the trio of illustrious ghosts who are looking – with indulgence, surely – over Ariel Winter’s shoulder.”

                        -- John Banville


The Twenty-Year Death is an absolute astonishment. Ariel S. Winter manages to channel three iconic crime writers and pull off a riveting story of a two-decade ruination in which it is the things not said that somehow have the loudest echoes.”

                        -- Peter Straub


“As an old-school fan of Georges Simenon, I read MALNIVEAU PRISON with awe and delight.”

                        -- Alice Sebold on Book 1 of The Twenty-Year Death


“Expertly summoning the most sinuous strains of Chandler, THE FALLING STAR sinks you into its dark, sleek world.”

                        -- Megan Abbott on Book 2 of The Twenty-Year Death


“If I didn't know better, I'd swear that Hard Case had unearthed a long-lost Jim Thompson novel. POLICE AT THE FUNERAL is one of those great, boozy, violent nightmares that (I used to think) only Thompson himself could conjure.”

                        -- Duane Swierczynski on Book 3 of The Twenty-Year Death


“Pitch perfect. A tour de force of story, structure and style. This is why I read.”

                        -- Brian Azzarello


“If ever there was a born writer, Mr. Winter is one…Mr. Winter's work is sharp, smart, original, intensely interesting and ingenious.”

                        -- Stephen Dixon


“A tour de force, or rather three different, ingeniously interwoven, tours de force.  An exciting book that will make many commuters miss their stop.”

                        -- Richard Vinen


The Twenty-Year Death is an exceptionally ambitious, inventive crime novel that echoes three classic authors while extending the idea of what a crime novel can do. The scope and versatility are breathtaking. Bravo to Ariel S. Winter and Hard Case Crime.”

                        -- David Morrell


“As distinguished a first-novel in the noir fiction genre as any I know of.  Indeed, it is three novels in one, and each is in its own way a tour de force.  If this is the level of excellence that Winter can achieve at the very start of his career, then his future in this genre is unlimited.”

                        -- John T. Irwin