Author Janet LaPierre passed away peacefully early this morning. She suffered a stroke two weeks ago, and although everyone hoped she would recover, it was not meant to be. She was my best friend. The sadness and shock is still with me, but Pierre asked that I make her passing public.
I first met Janet LaPierre almost 40 years ago when she responded to an ad in the local Berkeley paper about a mystery ‘class’ I was teaching at my home in the Berkeley flats. She joined the group and was a regular weekly attendee for over 10 years.
In spite of the age difference, we quickly became fast friends as we often enjoyed wine and chatted after “group”. She was writing a mystery, and I got to share in the joy and launch of the publication of her first book, Unquiet Grave (1987), and all the others that followed: Children’s Games (1989), The Cruel Mother (1990), Grandmother’s House (1991), Old Enemies (1993). These were the Early Port Silva Mysteries. Port Silva, a character in itself, was a fictitious town, modeled loosely on Ft Bragg on the Mendocino (CA) Coast…with the addition of a University. The later Port Silva mysteries include Baby Mine (1999), Keepers (2001), Death Duties (2004), and Family Business (2006). What is so unique in these books, besides the characters and setting—well, because of really, is that the Port Silva mysteries feature different residents taking center stage as detective, heroine, hero, or another role. Meg Halloran (school teacher sleuth), Vince Gutierrez (Chief of Police), Patience and Verity Mackellar (private investigative team) and other characters populate the books, making large or small appearances or none at all. Run a Crooked Mile (2009) introduced a new location and characters—the small town of Weaverville in Trinity County (CA). Janet spent a lot of time in both Ft Bragg and Weaverville doing research, as well as enjoying the landscape, reading, and walking with the dogs. There were also numerous short stories in different anthologies and magazines. Unquiet Grave was a Finalist for the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. Old Enemies was a finalist for the Macavity and Anthony Awards for Best Novel. Keepers was a Finalist for the Shamus Award for Best Paperback.
During our early friendship, we went to writers’ conferences and mystery conventions, frequently rooming together, often taking trips to conferences in other states or areas.
Over the years Janet LaPierre and I attended each other’s family affairs - weddings and funerals, dinners, and parties. We met for lunch frequently, and over wine, we shared stories about our families, dogs, writing, and books. Mostly books. We traded books and titles. I could always depend on her for recommendations, and she from me. We shared similar tastes in literature—mysteries and beyond the genre. Even now, I have a stack of books set aside for her.
As I mentioned, food played an important role in our 40-year relationship. Crab season in the Bay Area was toasted with champagne and her husband Pierre’s crab cakes—a yearly ritual. We also gathered in Bodega Bay with dogs and fish and chips and walks on the beach. We celebrated Fourth of July together for many years. I used to have a large Independence Day party with over 200 people—family, friends and mystery folks, and although we provided chicken and burgers, Pierre always brought ribs. Janet was never a lover of big crowds, but she always came, even if she didn’t stay for long. I discontinued the party about 10 years ago, but Janet and Pierre always joined us for a small Independence Day celebration since then. So even with only 4-6 people in attendance, Pierre brought ribs! Enough to feed an army. Thanks, Pierre. There was always good conversation about politics and books.
Over the past 13 years, Janet and I developed another ritual. Instead of going out for lunch, we had lunch in my garden. Roast beef sandwiches from Andronico’s, chardonnay, and chocolate. Living in California, this was an all year event. And, we discussed family and friends and books and, lately, health. The things that old and aging friends talk about.
We didn’t always agree and as in any 40-year relationship, there were ups and downs, but there was always a special bond. She was always there for me, and I for her. Without reservation. Janet La Pierre was my best friend. I will miss her and our times together. I plan to reread her novels over the holidays. She’s left a wonderful legacy and a hole in my heart.
Sad news, indeed. Author P.D. James died peacefully at her home in Oxford this morning. She was 94. Obituary below. Watch a recent interview with P.D. James (April 2014).
From The Guardian:
Her debut novel, Cover Her Face (1962), was snapped up by the first
publisher to set eyes on the manuscript, launching a career that
advanced in parallel with that of her fictional police officer, Chief
Inspector Dalgliesh. As he found himself promoted to superintendent and
then to commander, so James accumulated a host of awards including the Crime Writers’ Association’s
Diamond Dagger and the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster award.
Many of the Dalgliesh novels were subsequently filmed for television,
with Roy Marsden taking the role of the investigator. James also won a good number of public honours, eventually finding
herself elevated to the House of Lords in 1991, where she sat with the
Conservatives. Born in 1920, James left school at 16 to follow her father into a
career in the Inland Revenue. She married Ernest White at 21 and moved
to London, giving birth to two daughters as German bombers pounded the
British capital. Her husband returned from the war with mental health
problems, leaving James to provide for her young family by working in
hospital administration. With her daughters at boarding school and her
husband in hospital, evenings become devoted to writing. It had always been her “intention” to become a writer, and she began writing about a detective partly as an apprenticeship for writing “serious” novels, as she explained to the Paris Review in 1994.
James had always loved crime novels, was unwilling to explore the
“traumatic experiences” of her own life in fiction and was well aware it
would be easier to find a publisher for a detective story. But the
genre also appealed to her taste for order.
“I like structured fiction, with a beginning, a middle, and an end,”
she said. “I like a novel to have narrative drive, pace, resolution,
which a detective novel has.” Published in 1962, Cover Her Face opens “exactly three months before
the killing”, with a country-house dinner party which becomes, “in
retrospect, a ritual gathering under one roof of victim and suspects, a
staged preliminary to murder”. The new parlourmaid announces her
engagement to the manor house’s eldest son at the village fete and is
strangled the following night, a mystery resolved by the refined
poet-detective Dalgliesh. “I gave him the qualities I admire,” James explained in 2001, “because I hoped he might be an enduring character and that being so, I must actually like him.”Read more HERE.
Jǿrn Lier Horst, former Norwegian police investigator, has won the 2014 Martin Beck Award for The Hunting Dogs (Sandstone Press), his third English-translated police procedural starring William Wisting.
The Martin Beck Award is presented annually by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy (Svenska Deckarakademin) for the best crime novel in translation. Last year, The Hunting Dogs won the Glass Key Award from the Crime Writers of Scandinavia.
Anthony Eglin's Lawrence Kingston Mysteries are hybridized for those with 'a touch of nature in their souls.' They're short on blood and gore but long on suspense and intrigue. If you know me, you know I love anything with roses, and Anthony Eglin's mysteries don't disappoint--they weave together my two passions. Other novels in the series: The Blue Rose, The Lost Gardens, The Water Lily Cross, Garden of Secrets Past. Can't wait to read The Alcatraz Rose.
Anthony Eglin: The Alcatraz Rose
At last, my sixth Lawrence Kingston, English mystery novel “The Alcatraz Rose” is being released in mid November.
The story took longer to write than my previous books because of the complex plot: three separate stories, taking place on two continents, over a span of sixty years. For the first time, Kingston leaves his beloved London, England, for a brief trip to San Francisco and notorious Alcatraz Island (Synopsis at end of post). Unlike most of the other stories, this one took many weeks to research, so, while it is classic mystery fiction, descriptions of historical places and events are authentic and accurate.
This book is different in another way, too. After ten years with publisher, St. Martin’s Press, I decided to make a break and publish “The Alcatraz Rose” myself. While it was a bittersweet parting, it allows me the freedom to publicize the book in any fashion that I see fit.
As a result, I am producing a video trailer, making a presence on Facebook and exploring other ways of letting readers know about my books.
As for my next project, I’m taking a short break to get back in the garden, spend the Holidays with family and friend . . . all the time thinking about what Kingston might be up to next year.
No sooner than a thirteen-year-old child begs Lawrence Kingston to reinvestigate her mother’s disappearance—a case still unsolved for eight years—the redoubtable botanist, professor, and sleuth receives news that an English rose, extinct for half a century, has been discovered growing on Alcatraz island, 5,000 miles from its former home.
As Kingston searches for clues to both mysteries he uncovers the murder of an elderly reclusive gentleman whom he suspects of having firsthand knowledge of the rose. Hampered by a fog of duplicity and lies, his investigation nevertheless leads him to a shocking discovery, the last thing he would ever suspect: a link to one of Britain’s most notorious crimes from the distant past.
The Alcatraz Rose is a multi-layered adventure that starts with an innocent cry for help, but turns into a treacherous roller coaster ride that ends with lives hanging in the balance—including Lawrence Kingston’s.
Thanksgiving. I have a lot to
give thanks for -- my family, my friends, and the wonderful
mystery community. Once again we'll be going to my sister's home for a multi-generational Thanksgiving --ages 6 months to 94! My family is as dysfunctional as most, but we don't stoop to murder! That can't be said for the
families in the followingupdated list ofThanksgiving Mysteries. As the saying goes, "Families are like Fudge, sweet with a few Nuts thrown in." As always, please let me know about any titles I've missed.
Victoria Abbott The WolfeWidow
Laura Alden, Foul Play at the PTA
Deb Baker Murder Talks Turkey
S.H. Baker The Colonel's Tale
Mignon Ballard, Miss Dimple Disappears
Bob Berger The Risk of Fortune
William Bernhardt, Editor, Natural Suspect
Kate Borden Death of a Turkey
Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who Went into the Closet
Lizbie Brown Turkey Tracks
Carole Bugge Who Killed Mona Lisa?
Sammi Carter Goody Goody Gunshots
Joelle Charbonneau Skating Under the Wire
Jennifer Chiaverini A Quilter's Holiday
Christine E. Collier A Holiday Sampler
Sheila Connolly A Killer Crop
Isis Crawford A Catered Thanksgiving
Bill Crider w/Willard Scott Murder under Blue Skies
Jessie Crocket Drizzled with Death
Amanda Cross A Trap for Fools
Barbara D'Amato Hard Tack, Hard Christmas
Mary Daheim AlpineFury, Fowl Prey
Jeanne Dams Sins Out of School
Claire Daniels Final Intuition
Evelyn David Murder Takes the Cake
MaryJanice Davidson Undead and Unfinished
Krista Davis The Diva Runs Out of Thyme
Michael Dibdin Thanksgiving
Joanne Dobson Raven and the Nightingale
Christine Duncan Safe House
Janet Evanovich Thanksgiving (technically a romance)*
Nancy Fairbanks Turkey Flambe
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain Murder She Wrote: A Fatal Feast
Katherine V. Forrest The Beverly Malibu
Noreen Gilpatrick The Piano Man
Martin H. Greenberg (editor) Cat Crimes for the Holidays
Jane Haddam Feast of Murder
Janice Hamrick Death Rides Again
Lee Harris The Thanksgiving Day Murder
J. Alan Hartman, editor, The Killer Wore Cranberry, The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping; The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds; The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fourth Meal of Mayhem
Robin Hathaway The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call
Richard Hawke Speak of the Devil
Victoria Houston Dead Hot Shot
Ellen Elizabeth Hunter Murder on the ICW
Melanie Jackson Death in a Turkey Town, Cornucopia
J. A. Jance Shoot Don't Shoot
Alex Kava Black Friday
Faye Kellerman Serpent's Tooth
Harry Kemelman That Day the Rabbi Left Town
Clyde Linsley Death of a Mill Girl
Georgette Livingston Telltale Turkey Caper
Nial Magill Thanksgiving Murder in the Mountains
G.M. Malliet Wicked Autumn
Margaret Maron Up Jumps the Devil
Evan Marshall Stabbing Stefanie
Ralph McInerny Celt and Pepper
Leslie Meier Turkey Day Murder
Deborah Morgan The Marriage Casket
Carla Norton The Edge of Normal
Carol O'Connell Shell Game
Nancy J Parra Murder Gone A-Rye
Louise Penny Still Life
Cathy Pickens Southern Fried
Michael Poore Up Jumps the Devil
Ann Ripley Harvest of Murder
J.D. Robb Thankless in Death
Delia Rosen One Foot in the Gravy
Willard Scott and Bill Crider Murder under Blue Skies
Sarah R. Shaber Snipe Hunt
Sharon Gwyn Short, Hung Out to Die
Paullina Simons, Red Leaves
Alex Sokoloff The Harrowing
Rex Stout Too Many Cooks
Denise Swanson Murder of a Barbie and Ken, Murder of a Botoxed Blonde
Marcia Talley Occasion of Revenge
Lisa Unger In the Blood
Jennifer Vanderbes Strangers at the Feast
Debbie Viguie I Shall Not Want
Livia J. Washburn The Pumpkin Muffin Murder
Leslie Wheeler Murder at Plimoth Plantation
Angela Zeman The Witch and the Borscht Pearl
David Khara is the author of the Consortium Thriller series, which offer a roller-coaster ride that dips into the history of World War II, rushing back to present day with a loop-to-loop of action and humor. The Bleiberg Project was an instant success when it was first released, and The Shiro Project just came out in paperback, published by mystery and thriller publisher Le French Book. The third book in the series, The Morgenstern Project is scheduled for release in English spring 2015.
DAVID KHARA: Writing Tips: The Importance of Reading Out Loud
I often talk about writing techniques with my fellow authors, and it seems I have a particularity they find surprising: I read my novels out load during the last round of corrections. And I don’t do that alone. Actually three of us sit around the table. I do the reading, while my two companions read on paper.
This phase might be the most important of all. This is where you spot the last mistakes, letters, and words that are missing. But even more important, this where you know if the text is smooth or not.
Smoothness is essential when it comes to the Consortium Thriller series. There are a lot of different characters, a lot of action and many flashbacks. Hence, I adapt my writing to the story, and not the opposite. That is the reason why depending on the character, the time or the place, my writing is different. But this is not my point. My point is, since the novels are quite complex, it is of the utmost importance that the reader have a smooth, enjoyable read.
During this phase, words become notes, text becomes music. Also I take a step backward from the book and turn myself into a reader, sometimes discovering aspects of the novel I wasn’t fully aware of since, from time to time, I kind of drift off while I’m creating. It is a pretty fun experience indeed.
Since I cannot read more than 4 hours in a row, it usually takes me from four to five days to go through the whole novel. And by the end of the exercise, I am almost unable to speak. But isn’t writing all about dedication?
I don’t know many writers who go through the reading out loud phase, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone, and especially to beginning writers.
The latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal: Bibliomysteries (Volume 30:3) is now available as a PDF. We will have hardcopy out shortly to subscribers and available to others. What a great issue! Thanks to all the contributors.
At the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Wordharvest and Thomas Dunne Books/ Minotaur Books announced that John Fortunato's DARK RESERVATIONS has won the 2014 Tony Hillerman Prize for best debut crime fiction novel set in the Southwest. The prize comes with a publishing contract with St. Martin's Press and $10,000.
John Fortunato was a Captain in the U.S. Army, Military Intelligence, who served at the Pentagon during the early part of the Global War on Terrorism. He is now a Special Agent with the FBI and has earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hall University. A native of Philadelphia, he currently lives in Michigan with his wife and three daughters.
Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries, set on the Navajo reservation, were the first "regional" mysteries to become national bestsellers. His work has been praised by reviewers and the Navajo Nation for its ability to combine Navajo traditions and beliefs with a well-told mystery story. Hillerman's writing reflects his appreciation for the natural wonders and stark beauty of the American Southwest and its people, particularly the Navajo. His books have been translated into many languages and frequently make the New York Times bestseller list. At age 83, Hillerman passed away on October 26, 2008.
In 2013, Leaphorn and Chee returned in SPIDER WOMAN'S DAUGHTER by Anne Hillerman, Tony Hillerman's daughter. In 2004, she launched the first Tony Hillerman Writers Conference: Focus on Mystery through Wordharvest, the business which she co-founded with Jean Schaumberg. The conference highlights the craft and business of writing, featuring presentations by prominent published authors. In 2010 conference organizers broadened the focus to include general fiction and nonfiction.
Seymour Shubin died on November 2 of complications from a fall. He was 93.
Shubin was the author of fifteen novels, as well as articles, short
stories, and poetry. The Captain was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe
Award for best Novel and was the subject of an
essay in 100 Great Detectives. Anyone's My
Name has been used as a text in
university criminology courses. His short stories appeared in
a wide range of publications, ranging from
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine to Story and Potpourri,
where one of his stories won the best-of-year award. A collection of
sixteen of Shubin's tales were collected in Lonely No More, which was
released in 2012. Other stories have been anthologized, and one of
Shubin's stories, "The Cry of a Violin", was broadcast twice on the
BBC. His one nonfiction book was a commissioned biography of John
B. Amos, the late founder of the insurance giant, AFLAC.
was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA and is a graduate of Temple
University. His writings and papers are archived at the Temple University Libraries.
Going to Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention? You'll want to download the Bouchercon App that will give you everything you need to know straight from you phone or other mobile device. I love that I will be able to check my phone to find out where I need to be when and who will be there!
ThisFree Bcon app is a complete digital guide to Bouchercon. You'll have
access to every event, panel, and speaker detail, as well as local area
information, including interactive maps, hotels, and restaurants.
can easily browse interactive panel schedules, check out author bios,
plan your own personalized event schedule, and create to-do lists with
alarms, and never miss another panel or author signing! Monitor the
in-app Twitter feed to keep up with what’s happening around you. Post to
Facebook or Tweet from within the app. See who else is attending and
connect with them using contact cards.
Today is National Bookstore Day. Let's face it, if you're reading this blog, you probably can't walk by a bookstore without going in. Visiting a new city? Do you check out all the bookstores in town before you go or when you arrive? Dwindling number of bookstores where you live? Does that mean more frequent trips to your local? If this is a good portrayal of you, then I know you'll want to celebrate today's holiday!
Here's the question: How many books will you buy today?
MI5 agent Worricker returns this Sunday and next (November 9 and 16) with Turks & Caicos and Salting the Battlefield (parts 2 and 3 of the Worricker Trilogy):
Page Eight (shown in 2011), Turks & Caicos, and Salting the Battlefield
form The Worricker Trilogy—three gripping films that follow the
exploits of the intensely private and scrupulous Worricker—from MI5
headquarters in London to exile on a Caribbean island to life on the run
with his former lover and fellow agent Margot Tyrrell (Helena Bonham
Carter). A spy who prefers the black-and-white certainties of the Cold
War, Worricker (Bill Nighy) finds himself increasingly out of his
element as the distinction between ally and enemy dissolves into the
amorphous alliances of the 21st century.
Writer-director David Hare has done it again. The all-star cast includes Oscar winner Christopher Walken, and Oscar® nominees Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, and Judy Davis. Also starring are Rupert Graves, Saskia Reeves, and Ewen Bremner.
Although it would be good to view Page Eight, it's not essential. I did find Page Eight on Netflix.
The Crimelandia Team will be selling registrations for LCC 2015 at the LCC table in the Book Room at Bouchercon Long Beach. If you will be attending, drop by and say hello, or even better, email Co-Chair L.J. Sellers and volunteer to help at the table. Information about LCC 2016 in Phoenix and LCC 2017 in Honolulu will also be available.
The Crimelandia registration fee is $175 through December 31, 2014, and then will increase to $195. Registration fee includes Welcome Reception, two Breakfasts, the Awards Banquet, and access to all panels and programming.
Today I welcome back thriller writer Keith Raffel. Keith Raffel is a Silicon
Valley entrepreneur, former counsel to the U.S. Senate, and killer
thriller writer. He's the author of Smasher, Drop by Drop, A Fine and Dangerous Season, and, just launched, Temple Mount. Read more Here. And, he's such
a nice guy! :-)
Keith Raffel: I Write Female Characters, My Daughter Rolls her Eyes!
When my 18-year-old daughter heard that I’d finished a new novel, she gave me the eye-roll that any parent with a teenager knows so well.
“What?” I asked.
“Here we go again,” she sighed. “Another book with a woman who’s underestimated by all the men and shows them up in the end.”
Bull’s-eye. I had no response. She had me pegged.
There’s no faster way to make a cantankerous author like me a feminist than to give him three daughters. The surprise in my books when a woman can shoot straighter or think better than the guys is no surprise to my girls. For them female equality is assumed, female superiority likely.
In my first book, Dot Dead, the protagonist Nate Michaels goes out for a run with Rowena Goldberg, who’s been helping him with his enquiries. He’s a good runner, and he gallantly offers to let her set the pace. At the end of the run, she’s not breathing hard. He is.
Once back in my foyer, I asked, “You’re a runner?”
“How do you mean?”
“Okay. I’ll ask it this way. What was the last race you ran?”
‘The San Diego Marathon.”
“How’d you do?”
“About a dozen runners finished ahead of me.”
“A dozen women beat you?”
“No. Just one woman. The rest were men.”
In a review of Dot Dead, mystery writer Lora Roberts gave me this back-handed compliment: “The characters are well-drawn, even the women, which can be a problem for a first-time male writer.” Credit Carolyn Keene here. At age 12, after I read all the available Hardy Boy books, I switched to the adventures of Nancy Drew, the prototype for female pluckiness for so many in my generation.
The protagonist of Drop By Drop, Sam Rockman, is a Stanford professor who has come to Washington to work on the Senate Intelligence Committee in the wake of a terrorist incident. Bad luck for him, he finds himself working for the minority and forced to cooperate with his counterpart on the majority side, Cecilia Plant. She swears, he doesn’t. She can handle guns, he can’t. She knows martial arts, he’s a runner. Here they are at their first meeting:
“We need to get the motherfuckers who did that.” She didn’t snarl as she cursed. She spoke in soft tones, as if to minimize the attention that would come unbidden to a foul-mouthed, red-headed woman with a seventy-five inch span between the tips of her heels and the crown of her head.
When Sam and Cecilia are in peril, his brains help, but her knowledge of the martial art Krav Maga helps even more. Remember the scene in High Noon when the Quaker Grace Kelly has to fire a gun to save Gary Cooper? In Drop By Drop I wrote a similar scene but with the sexes reversed.
In my latest thriller, Temple Mount, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Alex Kalman finds himself in the midst of terrorist incident on the streets of Jerusalem. His intentions are good, but they outrun his abilities. He’s saved by the archeology professor he’s been working with. Here’s how their conversation goes after the event (with her speaking first):
“Listen. What were you doing? He was trying to kill you.”
“And lots more people.”
“The other people were smarter than you. Next time, if you’re unarmed, do what they did. Run away from the person trying to kill you, not toward him.”
“Where’d you get a gun?”
“From my pants pocket. I always have one with me. I’m a major in the Israeli Defense Forces Reserve.”
Yes, I know my books all have a Hitchcockian flavor – they’re about a regular guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Like Cary Grant in North by Northwest or James Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much, they are in good shape, smart, and successful, just not prepared by their quotidian American lives to deal with the ruthless enemies who find them in the way.
Ed Kaufman, the Edgar-Award-winning, late, lamented proprietor of the M is for Mystery Bookstore, used to tease me by saying I wrote romances. And in a sense I do. All those characters, Nate Michaels, Sam Rockman, and Alex Kalman, are smart and brave, admirable in many ways. But they are also incomplete, lost, down on life. The tough women they meet not only save their lives, they bring meaning to them.
So I guess my daughter should keep rolling her eyes. She is right. I’m guilty. I do love writing those strong, capable women underestimated by the guys, both good and bad. And I have no intention of stopping.
NoirCon took places this past weekend in Philadelphia.
Bronwen Hruska, Publisher at Soho Press received the Jay and Deen Kogan Award for Constant Excellence in the Field. "In recognition of her tireless dedication to the advancement of crime/mystery fiction as publisher of Soho Press."
Fuminori Nakamura of Tokyo, Japan,
received the David Goodis Award for excellence in writing.
The Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, received the Anne Friedberg Award for his contribution to noir education and preservation.
An old tram car was transformed into a lively color mobile library
and a promotional tool for Jiří Mahen Library in Brno, Czech Republic. The
Library Tram travels every day on a 70 km route, teaching not only
about library services, but, most importantly, about benefits of digital
Visitors can scan QR codes with their mobile phones to
access library’s website, search the catalog, and download free samples
of selected ebooks.
This innovative mobile library 2.0 project is
called “Library in the Tram – Tram to the Library” and was awarded first
place in the 12th IFLA International Marketing Award 2014.