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How to Greet Strangers: A Mystery Paperback – February 15, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Thompson writes with confidence and authority capturing the rhythm, cadence, language, attitude and swagger of a positive gay male in the 21st century....keep your fingers crossed that Thompson brings Archer back for more adventures." --Drew Jackson, Edge Atlanta

"An intriguing story weaving in elements of mystery, spirituality, as well as black and gay issues... an excellent pick for fans of mysteries not afraid to walk a different path."--Midwest Book Review

"This book is so well crafted that I would stop reading so I could savor a sentence and admire the craft."--Angel Curtis, OutSmart

"...an important work to include in any fiction collection."--American Library Association, GBLTRT Newsletter, Summer 2013

"Readers will love Archer, the unapologetically black gay narrator of HOW TO GREET STRANGERS. His fierce, queeny asides add sparkle to this gritty thriller, which uses an Oakland-based Santeria cult as its backdrop. Thompson's knowledge of (and love for) Santeria comes shining through. Highly recommended."
Craig Laurence Gidney, author of Sea, Swallow Me

How to Greet Strangers is a Finalist for Best Gay Mystery, 2013. The Lambda Literary Awards ceremony takes place in New York City on June 4.

''How to Greet Strangers is equal parts spiritual odyssey and gripping detective story, a bold and vibrant work. Read it and fall into a world you will not easily forget.'' --Carolina de Robertis, author of The Invisible Mountain and Perla

''With Archer Barron, Joyce Thompson has introduced a truly new personality to the world of the murder mystery and this is no mean feat. What is even more remarkable is the world Archer Barron inhabits. Only a writer of Thompson's skill and imagination could do this justice and she puts the reader right in there alongside Archer. The book is filled with keen and pithy insights into the big existential questions: love, death, religion, and what Archer calls being a prisoner in the human zoo. Oh, and you will amazed when you find out who done it.'' --Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War

''How to Greet Strangers is suspenseful, spiritual, sexy, and satisfying. It's both a kick-ass mystery and a genuine story of love and the human heart. Thompson creates characters on the far edges of modern life and gives them such humanity that we feel deeply connected to them.'' --Scott Sparling, author of Wire to Wire

''A sophisticated murder mystery that explores identity issues and Santeria traditions.''--Kirkus Reviews

''...I could not put down this very unusual mystery and even grew to accept that spirits could manifest themselves into the believers' lives. Given my usual attitude towards the supernatural in a realistic novel, that is quite an accomplishment on the author's part. The novel is too complex, too nuanced to sum up in a few sentences.'' --Wayne Gunn for Lambda Literary

''With her beautifully imagined and breathtakingly original How to Greet Strangers, Joyce Thompson has single handedly rebooted the murder mystery. The prose sings, the story truly thrills, and the detective, Archer Barron, is a hero like no other (and I'm not just talking about the cross-dressing). This is one of those rare, delicious tales you'll want to both cherish and gulp down in one sitting.'' --Karen Karbo, author of Trespassers Welcome Here and How Georgia Became O Keeffe

About the Author

Joyce Thompson is the author of ten previous books, nine of them fictitious. She is owner and president of Launchismo, a marketing services company. Thompson lives in the Oakland flats, where the barrio meets the 'hood.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Lethe Press (February 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590212711
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590212714
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,423,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In 1994, Joyce Thompson took a leave of absence from her literary career to work on high tech's cutting edge. How to Greet Strangers, her sixth novel, marks her return to her first love, fiction.

She is the author of five previous novels, two collections of short stories and a memoir. Her work has been published in six languages and frequently optioned for film.

The only child of two lawyers, Thompson grew up in Seattle, headed east to attend Cornell University, then worked for publishers in New York and Boston. She co-founded Dark Horse and hosted the poetry readings at Boston's first First Night celebration. On returning west, she taught fiction writing in MFA and university extension programs, at writing conferences and in the public schools for more than ten years. Her former students are among the best writers publishing today.

She has been a Santera since 2002.
Contact Joyce through her Facebook Author page: Joyce Thompson Writer.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By blueways y collard greens on February 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
I never expected to read the book in 2.5 days but Archer would not let me have it any other way. He demanded that I pay attention and he intended to leave me on the edge of my bed, my chair and even not putting it down while taking bathroom breaks... yelling out loud and silently from out of no where at odd times of the day and throughout the book... "cono"!

Fierce, hot, creatively and magically written and woven together with layers and layers of stuff. his stuff, michaelas stuff, my stuff, other folks stuff, your stuff, generational stuff, unspoken stuff, our afraid, hurt and brave stuff and the worlds stuff. Tasty like a good bowl of red beans and rice, a good congris, a bountiful paella or candied bacon, you want more and Archer delivered the day! After I read it, I didnt expect to go into retreat mode...unsuspectingly needing to digest every turn, perspective and the complexity of it all. bravo!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Miller on February 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I’m not a big mystery reader—the last one I remember seeking out was Thompson’s Bones in the 90s. My sheer pleasure in reading How to Greet Strangers speaks to the book’s unusual achievement of straddling and defying genre conventions, not unlike iconoclastic protagonist Archer Barron himself. The mystery plotline is well-crafted and the book fast-paced, but the expansive, internally-driven characters make for depth and emotional impact that set the book apart. Following Archer on his amateur detective quest means snagging a front-row seat at a drag show, crossing East Bay class barriers, and falling in love with a painted, bass-lined, all-consuming faith, only to be shattered. Whatever you’ve read, you have not read a book like this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By I. E. Steele on February 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
The plot points that set up this book seem improbable, intimidating even, but in fact it's this very peculiar particularity of the main character and his story that will suck you in. Yes, you'll trip over some words you don't know, mostly coming from the Afro-Cuban religion at the heart of the book. These details, however, make Archer's world feel rich and deep, even if you don't always understand every bit of it: Strangers is more like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter than Moby Dick. Archer himself is so real, so engaging that you won't be able to help yourself for walking beside him--laughing, crying with him--for the length of the book. When you're done, you'll miss having him around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A.S. on March 21, 2013
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This is an amazing book. Archer Barron's voice grips you on the first page and doesn't let go. How to Greet Strangers is a beautifully written account of a fascinating character and his increasingly complex world. Joyce Thompson's writing is top-notch - Archer is an extraordinarily well-developed, nuanced character, and someone you'll want to know. Thompson's writing allows us to share in his struggles, ones that echo struggles deep within all of us - the greatness and devastation of love and loss, the careful balance of belonging and independence, the search for spiritual identity - themes which aren't always so accessible, and those that make Archer deeply appealing. The plot twists are thrilling, and will keep you engaged until the very last page, a page that comes too soon. I found myself trying to slow the pace of my reading so the book wouldn't end - this is a wonderfully original tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan,Susan on July 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I probably never would have picked this book but for the fact that it is written by my best friend in high school. I am glad I did. It is a well written and kwirky look into a world I never would have thought about. Archer Barron is a fascinating multi-faceted character who draws the reader into his world of drag, Santeria, and loneliness while working to untangle a series of deaths and murders. Here's hoping there will be a sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mama Reader on May 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a Mom of two young kids and a book has to really capture my attention, and this book truly did. I hid away to read it as often as possible!! The protagonist, Archer, is complex yet easily accessible-smart, vulnerable and passionate. His voice kept me engaged throughout this mystery that offered twists and turns I never imagined but which resonated with me. The line between the spirit world and reality blended beautifully. I hope we can hear more from Archer, as Joyce Thompson comes through with a fully realized character ready to take on his world in new ways. Yet in "How to Greet Strangers: A Mystery" it is Archer's past that propels this fascinating and transformative journey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Vandenbark on March 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I rarely read mysteries, and I would say that (1) this book is a terrific mystery, and mostly that (2) this is a terrific book. Archer Barron is a wonderfully developed character, as are several of the secondary characters. The writing is so, so good - I love Archer's voice, and he's entirely believable despite "being on the fringes" in so many ways. His spiritual struggle is quite convincing as well as painful, his intelligence is palpable, his sense of irony is delightful. The suspense of the book yanked me along insistently, so I'm sure I'll read the book again to savor the writing a bit more. One piece of advice - maybe don't finish it right before you go to sleep...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christina Iya Ochun on March 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How to Greet Strangers: A Mystery

You will immediately become engaged in Joyce Thompson's latest book of fiction "How to Greet Strangers: a Mystery". I could not put this book down! I found myself crack a smile. I cried. I even jolted out of bed, Kindle in one hand and death grip with other on sleeping husband. I know the ink has barely dried on this first edition, but "How to Greet Strangers" would also do well in Spanish and Portuguese editions. Hollywood needs to look at this for something fresh. I can see Archer or Darla on the Big Screen. When this happens, I know just the person to design the music for the soundtrack.
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