Behind TRBS Blog #4: Mysteries, 2024 Coverage Plans, & Podcast Stuff

Remember when I said I was going to write a blog post every week or so? Yeah, that’s my bad. But, to be fair, I’ve been busy.

Like, really busy.

If you’re new to the blog portion of The Real Book Spy, I write these in first person and tend to ramble on a bit. So, you’ve been warned. For the first-timers, my name is Ryan, and I’m the book spy. Yep, that’s me! However, many of you know that I’m also the author of the Matthew Redd thriller series. Fields of Fire and Lethal Range are both available everywhere books are sold. My third book, Out For Blood, comes out on June 4th and is currently available for pre-order.

Side note: If you’re thinking about pre-ordering it, I would encourage you to pre-order the hardcover version. Doesn’t matter where you get it, FYI. Because wherever you get it, as long as you get the hardcover, it’ll arrive signed by me and have my holiday novella, Redd Christmas, printed in the back.

By the way, I don’t know if you’ve ever signed thousands of books before, but in order to sign every copy of Out For Blood, my publisher sent me what’s called “end sheets” to autograph. Those sheets will then be added to the pages as they print the hardcover editions and bind them. Boy, that was intimidating, receiving boxes of sheets to sign. I honestly thought it would take me about 2-3 days to knock out. And it would have too, but I badly miscalculated one thing . . . twice.


As it turns out, signing that many pages requires a lot of Sharpies. I had seven in a very specific shade of blue. It’s not your basic blue, but rather a shade that matched parts of the cover really well. I bought them online, figured seven was enough, and couldn’t have been more wrong. So, I paused signing them, wanting to make sure every signature looked good. At the first sign the Sharpie was beginning to fade, I tossed it. Grabbed a new one. But there was like a week or so until the new, second batch of Sharpies, arrived. You might see where see where this is going . . .

I went through the next pack of markers and still had like 200 end sheets to sign. Sigh.

I had to pause again, waiting for the next delivery of Sharpies, then knocked ’em out and sent them back, making sure they arrived safely to my publisher before my deadline was up. So, mission accomplished.

Looking back at it, maybe it was a good thing I didn’t sign them all in 2-3 days. I’m pretty sure my hand would have looked like Chandler Bing’s in Friends when he played his arcade for days to set the Pac-Man high score. I have a whole new appreciation for that scene now, though.

Boy, I bet you’re glad you read all of that, huh? Ha! I’m 500 words in, and I’ve not touched on a single thing in my headline.

Crushing it, Ryan.

Okay, before I get to 2024 coverage, let me offer this update on my own writing since people have asked. Word is officially out that I’ve signed on to take over Ted Bell’s Alex Hawke  New York Times bestselling series. Ted, who passed away just over a year ago, was a dear friend and mentor to me. It’s such an honor to continue his legacy, and currently, I’m about 75% done with my first Hawke book, TED BELL MONARCH, which will come out sometime next spring. I’m really happy with how the book is shaping up. It’s essentially a love letter to Ted, his fans, and Hawke himself. I can’t for readers to get their hands on it and tell me what they think.

At the same time, though, I miss my own characters. And this next Redd book is a story I’ve wanted to tell for about fifteen years. Back then, I actually started a draft of a manuscript that starred a former CIA operator named Aaron Decker. Well, if you’ve read Lethal Range, then you know Decker was introduced late in that book. That was very much by design because he plays a prominent role in Out For Blood and Book Five. I am really excited to tear into that book, and I already have the story in my mind. Writing it is going to be a blast.

We’re not 750 words in, and I still haven’t gotten to anything I planned to write. If you’re still reading along at this point, even I’m surprised. I owe you one.

Okay, now onto 2024 coverage . . .

You might have noticed in January that Book Spy output ramped up in a big way. We published just under 60 articles in total, including a bunch of reviews, interviews, Reading Guides, lists, and book announcements. People who thought I scaled back in 2023, nope. The Book Spy is close to turning 10, and I was hellbent on making this the biggest year we’ve ever had. That’s a tall order, too, because you have all been so crazy supportive. We’ve cleared two million unique impressions per year since 2018. But this year, I’m aiming higher. Like, maybe three million. Why not? I still believe the appetite for thrillers is there, and I love connecting with readers who share a passion and love of good stories. Plus, the genre is stacked with talent right now, so there’s a lot to cover.

That said, don’t be surprised when you see a lot more coverage of mysteries and cozies this year. I’ve always been a fan of locked-door mysteries and whodunits. I love the red herrings, clues, twists, and the big reveal at the end. I hope to write a mystery one day, but for now, I’m expanding coverage to include more titles under that category, and already, it’s proven fruitful. Last week, we ran an article called “20 Modern Whodunts to Read if You Love Golden Age Mysteries.” That list blew up after catching fire on Flipboard, Substack, Google, and elsewhere, and is already one of our most-viewed articles on TRBS. It’s incredible, really. It helped contribute to a staggering total of impressions for January, where we cleared over 285,000 views. (Not for nothing, but that puts us ahead of my lofty goal and on pace for 3.5M impressions in 2024.) That was our strongest single month since 2019, and I am so incredibly thankful for each and every person who stopped by TRBS and supported us.

To that end, another way we’re expanding this year is on Twitch, where I am (this week, in fact), launching a podcast called The Run On alongside my adult daughter, Brynn, who co-hosts with me. We just had author Nick Petrie come on, and that was a blast. Just this month, we’ve got Brad Taylor and Mark Greany lined up, by the way, along with some others.

One thing I’ve been asked a lot is: why Twitch?

People seem to wonder why I’m not doing this on YouTube or another platform. And that’s fair, but my honest answer is that there’s very little competition on Twitch. Being the only thriller writer/critic on Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, gives me space to carve out my own niche there, and I think we’re really hitting our stride now. Brynn and I have really good chemistry, and Twitch, by way of featuring our interviews on their homepage, has been supportive. My interview with Jack Carr has already tallied over 115,000 views. That’s a lot. Obviously.

The other reason, though, is that Twitch is primarily made up of a younger audience because the platform was built around gaming. I really mean this when I say it . . . we HAVE to get this younger generation reading. Seriously. The data on who is buying books and reading them is borderline scary, and I’ve taken the initiative to prioritize reaching out to younger people (mainly those in their early 20s) to help introduce them to thrillers and mysteries. Now, I won’t stop catering to our existing audience here on the website, but it’s critical we do things that can convert non-readers, too, and that’s why I have a Discord server and why I’m on Twitch. We’ll see if it works, but I’m committed and in this for the long haul. In fact, our numbers on Twitch are so good (Brad Thor’s interview cleared 92k views, T.J. Newman’s cleared 65k, etc.) that my agent and I are having talks about finding sponsors and a production company to help The Run On takeoff in 2024. So stay tuned because there’s a lot in the works behind the scenes.

If you’ve never seen one of my interviews on Twitch, I would direct you to the one I just did with Nick Petrie. No, we are not talking about books the whole time. The idea here is to bring authors and have fun. Help them show a new side to their readers and make a good impression on non-readers who might buy their books after seeing and hearing them for the first time. That’s what’s so cool about it! Everyone who reads knows who Jack Carr is, right? But you come on Twitch, and they don’t know him. Sure, they might have seen The Terminal List on Amazon Prime, but tons of them had no clue that the show was based on a book series.

The format of these interviews is loose, for sure. We swap stories, laugh a lot, and then I ask them “Would You Rather” questions we pull from the internet. Again, I’d encourage you to watch the interview with Nick Petrie because we had a lot of fun shooting that. He’s hilarious.

If you want to watch live or go back and watch past interviews, you can find my Twitch channel here. You don’t have to create an account. But please do! It’s free, takes five minutes, and then you can comment and ask questions during the interviews, which are interactive with our growing community. So give it a try, and we’ll catch you at the next one.

Until the next blog post . . .

Happy reading!



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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