Friday, July 31, 2015


The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal will focus on Crime Fiction set in Scotland. How timely is this announcement of the shortlist of nominees for the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year award (formerly known as the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year) by the Bloody Scotland convention, to be held in Stirling September 11 - 13:

Paths of the Dead by Lin Anderson (Pan)
DM for Murder by Matt Bendoris (Contraband)
Dead Girl Walking by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
Thin Air by Ann Cleeves (Macmillan)
The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell (Quercus)
Death Is a Welcome Guest by Louise Welsh (John Murray)

The winner will be declared Saturday, September 12, as part of the Bloody Scotland festival program. This year’s prize recipient will receive £1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones bookshops.

HT: The Rap Sheet

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 Davitt Awards Shortlist: Sisters in Crime Australia

The Davitt Awards (named in honor of Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) who wrote Australia's first mystery novel, Force and Fraud in 1865) are presented annually by Sisters in Crime Australia. The awards are presented for Australian crime fiction, by women, for both adults and young adults.

  • Honey Brown, Through the Cracks
  • Ilsa Evans, Forbidden Fruits: A Nell Forrest mystery
  • Sulari Gentill, A Murder Unmentioned
  • Annie Hauxwell, A Morbid Habit
  • Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies
  • Malla Nunn, Present Darkness
  • Christine Bongers, Intruder (Woolshed Press – a Random House imprint)
  • Rebecca Lim, The Astrologer’s Daughter (Text Publishing)
  • Ellie Marney, Every Word (Allen & Unwin)
  • Pamela Rushby, The Ratcatcher’s Daughter (HarperCollins Australia)
  • Lollie Barr, The Adventures of Stunt Boy and His Amazing Wonder Dog Blindfold (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Eileen O’Hely, Kitten Kaboodle Mission 1: The Catier Emerald (Walker Books)
  • Judith Rossell, Withering-by-Sea (HarperCollins Australia)
  • R A Spratt, Friday Barnes: Big Trouble (Random House)
  • Jen Storer, Truly Tan #4: Freaked! (ABC Books – a HarperCollins Australia imprint)
  • Megan Norris, Love You to Death: A story of sex, betrayal and murder gone wrong (The Five Mile Press)
  • Caroline Overington, Last Woman Hanged (HarperCollins Australia)
  • Virginia Peters, Have You Seen Simone? The story of an unsolved murder (Nero)
  • Julie Szego, The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama (Wild Dingo Press)
  • Lollie Barr, The Adventures of Stunt Boy and His Amazing Wonder Dog Blindfold (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Candice Fox, Hades (Random House)
  • Anna George, What Came Before (Penguin Books Australia)
  • Rebecca Jessen, Gap (University of Queensland Press)
  • Christine Bongers, Intruder (Woolshed Press – a Random House imprint)
  • Virginia Peters, Have You Seen Simone? The story of an unsolved murder (Nero)
  • Pamela Rushby, The Ratcatcher’s Daughter (HarperCollins Australia)
  • Sandi Wallace, Tell Me Why (Clan Destine Press) Debut
  • Julie Szego, The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama (Wild Dingo Press)

How to Shake Someone Who's Tailing You

Interesting article on How to Shake Someone Who's Tailing you--on foot, on buses, in cars.. What do you think? Has this happened to you? What did you do?

And How to Tell when Someone is Following you and How to Get away safely:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Unofficial Patricia Cornwell Companion: Reviewed by Jane Mattisson Ekstam

Beahm, George. The Unofficial Patricia Cornwell Companion (St Martin’s Minotaur, 2002) 
Reviewed by Jane Mattisson Ekstam

George Beahm, author of four companion-style books – on Michael Jordan, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and censorship – has made his unofficial companion on Patricia Cornwell his last companion-style book. Why choose Patricia Cornwell, one might ask?

Beahm provides the answer in his introduction: Cornwell has kept a low profile, no book-length books had been published on her work at the time of publication (2002), and because she values privacy, restricting interviews with the media. Beahm explains why he chose to write an ‘unofficial’ rather than an official companion. It gives the author freedom, he argues, because you are not beholden to the subject. He was able to disregard the personal and professional jealousies of other writers and acquaintances and focus on highlighting the reasons for Cornwell’s extraordinary success, providing an excellent balance between what readers would like to know, while safeguarding Cornwell’s privacy.

Cornwell’s protagonist, Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, represents, argues Beahm, Cornwell’s personal credo: ‘Enlightenment. Justice. Do no harm. Fight the fight. Leave the world better than you found it’. It is this motto that has earned both Scarpetta and Cornwell their legions of fans. And it is this that distinguishes Cornwell from other bestselling authors: Scarpetta lives out the motto to the full and as a consequence possesses a ‘sense of humanity that . . . is lacking in her fictional counterparts who seem in comparison to be mere cogs in the storytelling machinery’ (222). What Scarpetta does in the fictional world, Cornwell lives out in the real world, an excellent example, arguing Beahm, being Cornwell’s generous funding to the Forensics Institute.

The Unofficial Patricia Cornwell Companion is divided into three sections: The facts: A look at the life of Patrician Cornwell’; The fiction: A look at the works of Patricia Cornwell’; and ‘What’s next for Patricia Cornwell and Kay Scarpetta’. Three comprehensive appendices contain fascinating material on the technical aspects of Kay Scarpetta’s world; visiting Virginia, Kay Scarpetta’s home ground; and a guide to collecting Patricia Cornwell respectively. An informative chronology of Patricia Cornwell’s life up to 2003 is also provided. The companion also contains numerous interviews and articles about Cornwell’s work, several rare photographs of Cornwell and her world, and a discussion of each title up to Jack the Ripper, Case Closed (2002).

Beahm’s study is particularly illuminating on the relationship between Cornwell and her body of work. Of special interest in this regard, argues Beahm, is Cornwell’s non-fictional Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham (1997), which is a revised version of A Time for Remembering, the Ruth Bell Graham Story (1983). Beahm concludes that the positive influence of Ruth Bell Graham on Patricia Cornwell ‘cannot be overstated’ (78). Cornwell herself acknowledged that ‘If any single person in this world made a difference in my life, she did’ (USA Today, ‘Make a Difference Day’). Beahm concludes that ‘the story of Ruth Bell Graham’s life is every bit as inspirational as her husband’s, and its telling is done by Cornwell with genuine admiration, giving Ruth Bell Graham the recognition she so richly deserves’ (79).

Since the publication of The Unofficial Patricia Cornwell Companion in 2002, a new companion has been released: Glen L. Feole and Don Lasseter’s The Complete Patricia Cornwell Companion (Berkley Publishing, 2005). While Feole and Lasseter’s companion is more comprehensive, particularly with regard to the technical aspects of Kay Scarpetta’s work, it does not address as clearly or thoroughly the relationship between Cornwell and her body of work. And as with all companions, neither Beahm’s nor Feole and Lasseter’s is completely up-to-date. Patricia Cornwell’s website announces, for example, that a new Scarpetta novel, Dust, has been released this year (see Readers are advised to consult Cornwell’s website, which is very comprehensive and contains a short but informative video on Dust.

Beahm’s The Unofficial Patricia Cornwell Companion lives up to its promise to provide fascinating details about Cornwell’s life and work but without encroaching on her privacy. It is a ‘must read’ for all Cornwell fans who wish to go beyond the works themselves. It is also a useful reference tool, with its glossary of forensic terminology, character guides, interviews and articles. Above all, it takes a revealing look at a reclusive author, showing how real life and fiction come together to produce one of the most popular mystery series today.

Jane Mattisson Ekstam is an Associate Professor of English, Kristianstad University, Sweden. Jane has contributed to several issues of Mystery Readers Journal.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ann Rule: R.I.P.

Sad news. Ann Rule, True Crime Writer, R.I.P.

From the Seattle Times:

True-crime writer Ann Rule, who wrote more than 30 books, including a profile of her former co-worker, serial killer Ted Bundy, has died at age 83.

Scott Thompson, a spokesman for CHI Franciscan Health, said Rule died at Highline Medical Center at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Rule’s daughter, Leslie Rule, said on Facebook that her mother had many health issues, including congestive heart failure.

“My mom died peacefully last night,” Leslie Rule wrote. “She got to see all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

Ann Rule’s first book, The Stranger Beside Me, profiled Bundy, whom she got to know while sharing the late shift at a Seattle suicide hotline. She has said she had a contract to write about an unknown serial killer before her co-worker was charged with the crimes.

Rule, who went to work briefly at the Seattle Police Department when she was 21, began writing for magazines like “True Detective” in 1969. A biography on her author website says she has published more than 1,400 articles, mostly on criminal cases.

Rule said she was fascinated by killers’ lives, going back to their childhood to find clues about why they did what they did.

After attending numerous workshops on crime topics from DNA to arson, local law enforcement, the FBI and the Justice Department started turning to Rule for her expertise on serial murders.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Sherlock Holmes stories to raise money to restore Conan Doyle's Home

60 authors will contribute to the anthology and all royalties will go towards renovating Undershaw, the former home of Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle.

From Radio Times:

Sixty of the world’s leading Sherlock Holmes authors have come together to create the largest ever anthology of new stories about the Baker Street detective. The royalties from the project are to go towards the restoration of Undershaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former home which will become a school for children with learning disabilities.

Undershaw is where Conan Doyle wrote many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories and where he brought Holmes back to life after having killed him off at the famous Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. The building fell into disrepair in 2009 when developers tried to carve up the house but were blocked by a determined group of Sherlock Holmes fans who fought the planning all the way to the high court. The group – supported by their patron, Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss – won an injunction in the high court. The developer appealed but that was quashed in 2012.

Read more here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Don Winslow's The Cartel coming to the Big Screen!

Yesterday, I hosted the always entertaining and brilliant raconteur Don Winslow at a Literary Salon at my home in Berkeley. What a terrific event! The event was also fueled by the news that Don had just sold screen rights for The Cartel to Fox with Ridley Scott directing! Shane Salerno will be writing the script! How cool is that!

From Deadline:

Fueled by Ridley Scott’s commitment to direct, Fox won an auction for screen rights to The Cartel, the new Don Winslow drug epic that settles the score between DEA agent Art Keller and Mexican drug kingpin Adan Berrera, a battle that began with Winslow’s 2006 novel The Power of the Dog. The studio is already moving fast to capitalize on all the money it has spent, courting Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of Keller, and this one looks promising.

Winslow and his partner in the deal, Story Factory’s Shane Salerno (who’ll write the script), chose Fox over several intriguing options, because of Scott. The filmmaker covered the drug terrain with the Cormac McCarthy-scripted The Counselor, and as riveting as that movie was, its bleak premise and harsh drug violence limited its gross. This one is potentially more commercial in a sprawling crime epic Godfather kind of way.

Read more here. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

E.L. Doctorow: R.I.P.

E. L. Doctorow, a leading figure in contemporary American letters whose popular, critically admired and award-winning novels — including “Ragtime,” “Billy Bathgate” and “The March” — situated fictional characters in recognizable historical contexts, among identifiable historical figures and often within unconventional narrative forms, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 84 and lived in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, N.Y.

The cause was complications from lung cancer, his son, Richard, said.

The author of a dozen novels, three volumes of short fiction and a stage drama, as well as essays and commentary on literature and politics, Mr. Doctorow was widely lauded for the originality, versatility and audacity of his imagination.

Subtly subversive in his fiction — less so in his left-wing political writing — he consistently upended expectations with a cocktail of fiction and fact, remixed in book after book; with clever and substantive manipulations of popular genres like the Western and the detective story; and with his myriad storytelling strategies. Deploying, in different books, the unreliable narrator, the stream-of-consciousness narrator, the omniscient narrator and multiple narrators, Mr. Doctorow was one of contemporary fiction’s most restless experimenters.

Read the rest of the NYT Obituary HERE


E. L. DOCTOROW’S works of fiction include Homer & Langley, The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, the Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction and the presidentially-conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was short listed for the Man Booker International Prize honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN Saul Bellow Award given to an author whose “scale of achievement over a sustained career places him in the highest rank of American Literature.”
In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On Writing: What Happens Next? by Clea Simon

Today I welcome Clea Simon. This post is very timely, as I recented moderated a panel on Plotters vs Pantsers (a very odd term, indeed) at Kepler's Mystery and Thriller Saturday. If you're a writer--or a reader-- you'll love this article on What Happen's Next?

Clea Simon is the author of several mystery series, including the Theda Krakow Mystery series, the Dulcie Schwartz feline series, and the Pru Marlowe pet noir series. She also publishes short stories and appears with regularity in several magazines. She has published three non-fiction books dealing with topics ranging from mentally ill siblings to the connection between women and cats. The recipient of multiple honors, including the Cat Writers Associations Presidents Award, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and their cat.

Clea Simon:
What Happen's Next? 

Readers often ask how we mystery writers plot. During panel discussions, this usually leads to a chat about “pantsers” vs. “plotters,” those who let the writing guide us as opposed to those who outline what will happen before the writing starts. But I don’t know if these readers are really asking about our process, per se. Whether they too are writers or are simply fans, reading for pleasure, I think they want to know something more basic. They want to know how we figure out what happens next. I wish I could give them an answer.

Sometimes, it’s easy. When a mystery is based on a real-life crime that case can provide at least a bit of path. My new mystery, Code Grey, is the ninth in my feline-filled academic series for Severn House. Because my protagonist is a graduate student writing her dissertation on 18th Century books, I try to keep up on what’s happening in rare books – and the case of the Girolamini library in Naples, Italy, did give me some ideas (though I won’t say which ones!).

More often, it’s not that simple. Even when there’s a solid spark to kick off the book, the questions begin early. Usually, I’ll start with an idea or a scene in mind. A troubled former scholar is found unconscious deep in an excavation, with a rare book tucked into his coat. He’s assumed to be homeless, only the book is in good condition – and it has been missing for thirty years. Where has it been? Who found him? Was anyone watching? Why does he have that book? Did he steal it or save it? And will he ever wake to tell us?

In short, what happens next?

To answer these questions, we ask ourselves the same questions readers do. And in the best cases, we – like our readers – let the story unfold for us. I know other writers have spoken about this, but I will say it again: Sometimes, the best times, the story tells us where it wants to go. I might write a scene in which Dulcie jumps down to help the scholar, but then I’ll stop. Dulcie will feel sympathy, for sure, but she’s not a jump-into-a-pit type. She’s an academic, a bookish girl who is not athletically inclined. And so I delete that passage and have her going for help … only on the way, she meets someone. Or hears something… or ….

Before I know it, the story has taken off on its own direction (and, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about that poor scholar. We’ll get him out of that hole somehow). By being true to my character, by letting Dulcie be Dulcie, the story takes on a life of its own. A life that, I hope, will be more realistic to my readers – will feel less manipulated, despite the odd ghost or benign feline spirit that haunts this particular series.

For the record, I’m a “pantser.” I rarely know exactly what will happen with my stories as I begin them. This means I have to do a lot more revision after the first draft is done. After all, the character who ends up being the murderer might seem like a nice guy in the first five chapters, but there ought to be some hint that he’s not, right? My books are somewhere along the cozy-traditional-amateur sleuth continuum, and part of my deal with my readers is that my books should function like a puzzle – a riddle they, too, can unravel if they read carefully. I’m not going to surprise anyone with an identical twin villain or a last-minute newcomer responsible for all the mayhem.

But I’ve spoken with enough of my colleagues to know that this kind of serendipity is not unique to pantsers. In fact, I’ve heard more than one plotter laughingly talk about crafting a detailed outline … and then throwing it out the window when a character refuses to go along with the program. Because ultimately we mystery authors are not concerned simply with producing the manuscript, despite the deadlines and waiting publishers. We don’t simply want to get the story written. We, too, want to know what happens next.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Kemelman Capers! Open Road Integrated Media bringing back Rabbi Small

Great news via Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries. All of Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small mysteries will be available again in e-book format. Open Road Integrated Media will be bringing them out on Tuesday, July 21 for the Amazon Kindle and for other formats. This series was unique at the time in the realm of "religious mysteries." Rabbi David Small solved mysteries of crime and life using pilpul! If you haven't discovered these books, you're in for a treat. And, if you haven't read them in awhile, I can attest that they are worth a reread.

From Open Road Integrated Media:
Harry Kemelman (1908-1996) was best known for his popular rabbinical mystery series featuring the amateur sleuth Rabbi David Small. Kemelman wrote twelve novels in the series, the first of which, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. This book was also adapted as an NBC made-for-TV movie, and the Rabbi Small Mysteries were the inspiration for the NBC television show Lanigan's Rabbi. Kemelman's novels garnered praise for their unique combination of mystery and Judaism, and with Rabbi Small, the author created a protagonist who played a part-time detective with wit and charm. Kemelman also wrote a series of short stories about Nicky Welt, a college professor who used logic to solve crimes, which were published in a collection entitled The Nine Mile Walk. Aside from being an award-winning novelist, Kemelman, originally from Boston, was also an English professor.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Tonight at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, the inaugural Dead Good Reader Award winners were announced. Presented by Mark Lawson, Val McDermid, Lee Child, and the Dead Good Team, each winner received a magnifying glass trophy. Congratulations to all!

The Dead Good Recommends Award for Most Recommended Book Winner:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Transworld)

The Lee Child Award for Best Loner or Detective Winner:
Vera Stanhope, Ann Cleeves (Pan Macmillan)

The Val McDermid Award for Fiendish Forensics Winner:
Time of Death by Mark Billingham (Sphere)

The Reichenbach Falls Award for Most Epic Ending Winner:
The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid (Sphere)

The Dr Lecter Award for Scariest Villain Winner:
You are Dead by Peter James (Macmillan)

The Patricia Highsmith Award for Most Exotic Location Winner:
Amsterdam, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die by Marnie Riches (Maze)

Mystery Bookstore for Sale! Once Upon a Crime

Want to own a Mystery Bookstore? Here's your chance!

Once Upon a Crime, the small but famous independent mystery bookstore in Minneapolis, is for sale!

From the St Paul Pioneer Press:

Pat Frovarp and Gary Shulze, who have owned the store at 604 W. 26th St. for 13 years as of Aug. 1, said they made this difficult decision because "We're not getting any younger," and Shulze is undergoing cancer treatments.

"Regardless, we knew the day was coming soon when someone else should own Once Upon a Crime," Shulze said Monday. "The store continues to thrive and we hope there is someone out there who will eagerly take the reins."

Once Upon a Crime, which has only 800 square feet of sales space, carries new mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction as well as rare, used and hard-to-get volumes.

Frovarp, 75, and Shulze, 66, were life partners when they bought OUC, where Frovarp interned for almost four years with previous owner Steve Stilwell. They were married at the store in 2007.

Once Upon a Crime was voted Favorite Mystery Bookstore in the Country by Crimespree magazine and in 2011 the couple received the Mystery Writers of America's highest honor, the Raven Award, for outstanding contributions to the genre. 

Read more from the St Paul Pioneer Press here! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

2015 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. This award was created to celebrate the best in British and Irish crime writing. Novels must have been published between May 2014 and April 2015.

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary (Headline)

A special presentation was made to Sara Paretsky - the winner of the sixth Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

John Patrick Lang: A Noir Perspective

Today I welcome my friend John Patrick Lang. John Patrick Lang is the creator of The Jackson “Doc” Holiday series published by Coffeetownpress. His first novel The Big Bitch is being released August 1, 2015 and the second in the series A Hot Shot for Moochie will be released in the spring of 2016.

John Patrick Lang: A Noir Perspective

A telling result of spending one’s formative years as a lit major is that you end up revering so-called “high art” and looking down your nose at popular culture. Until approximately twenty five years ago, I had never read a mystery, a western, any sci-fi or (please!) a romance. My idea of appropriate reading material was The Parable of the Grand Inquisitor, The Iceman Cometh, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, The Plague and anything and everything by Faulkner and Bellow. My girlfriend at the time gave me a copy of The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler, and I recall asking her what could possibly motivate me to read “such stuff.” She said that if I did, perhaps I wouldn’t be such a snob. All I knew about Raymond Chandler was what an American Lit professor of mine had said: “Raymond Chandler is trash. But he’s good trash.”

Like anyone who enjoys good prose it was hard for me not to be impressed. Quickly I fell under the spell of Chandler, and soon I gave up the classics and started an inclusive if haphazard study of hardboiled/noir crime fiction. In the intervening years, I have read and studied about four dozen authors from Carroll John Daly to James Sallis. They have been almost all male and with the exception of Jean-Claude Izzo, William McIlvanney and Ken Bruen, all American. I also began a study of the top ten or twelve critics and authorities on hardboiled/noir finally deciding that my two favorite books in this field were Which Way Did He Go? by Edward Margolies (1982) and The American Roman Noir by William Marling (1995).

Along the way of my haphazard studies, the author of two of my favorite novels, They Shoot Horses Don’t They and Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye, Horace McCoy, became one of my favorite authors, While Chandler was a darling of the English literati of the fifties, McCoy was championed by the French intellectuals of the 40s. He was admired by Gide, Malraux, and Sartre, and in fact, Simone de Beauvoir called They Shoot Horses Don’t They “The first American existential novel.” While it’s hard not to be struck by the ability of the French for overstatement these two novels are both emblematic of the Black Mask school. So it was bothersome to me when at Bouchercon some years ago I attended a panel discussion on the crime novel as literature. There were four people on the panel: two lit professors, a novelist who had published twenty five novels, and a gentleman who had been an editor of Argosy, Manhunter and what I refer to as “the barbershop magazines of my youth.” When I sought the panel’s opinion on McCoy neither the professors nor the novelist knew who he was. The editor spoke up, “Horace McCoy. Now there was a good writer.” When I was half way through my first draft of The Big Bitch, I hired an independent editor, Ralph Scott, who helped me immensely. After I found a publisher and the novel was complete I sent him an advanced reading copy. Ralph called and said, “This is great, John, you are going to be known as the new Horace McCoy.” I said, “By whom, Ralph? Nobody knows who the old Horace McCoy is.”

To paraphrase Prufrock, “I am not Horace McCoy nor was meant to be.” When my publisher asked me for a blurb about why I chose the form I did for The Big Bitch for our press release I wrote: “I was attracted to the noir genre because of its capacity to convey social and cultural perceptions, indict the false values of the American Dream, create existential allegory, and ultimately turn pulp into parable.” When I wrote that I certainly had McCoy and a number of Black Mask writers in mind. The writers who were the pioneers who built the pillars and the paradigms upon which the hardboiled novel rests today. As for today, how do I feel about Raymond Chandler? Despite his treatment of plot as an annoying afterthought I think he is as much a genius as his masters: Fitzgerald and Flaubert. I believe he casts the longest shadow of any crime writer in America or in the world and still is a gateway writer for the reader to discover a great idiom of expression. An idiom where for me the line between high art and popular culture has become blurred, and where if I am still a snob I have become a different type of snob.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bastille Day: Mysteries set in France

Celebrate Bastille Day with a copy of  Mystery Readers Journal: Mysteries Set in France (Volume 28:1)! Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.



  • A Brief Panorama of Early French Crime Fiction by Jean-Marc Lofficier
  • Sex and the Country: Some Thoughts on Pierre Magnan by Peter Rozovsky
  • An Interview with Sîan Reynolds by Peter Rozovsky
  • My Affair With the Birthplace of Crime Fiction by Bernadette Bean
  • Tale of Two Dominiques by Cary Watson
  • The Father of the Detective Story: Emile Gaboriau by Nina Cooper
  • Passion, Bloodshed, Desire, and Death by Susanne Alleyn
  • How I Got Into My Life of Crime French Style by Cara Black
  • Honest! I Was in Paris Working Very Hard! by Rick Blechta
  • Having a Nice Time? by Rhys Bowen
  • Inspector Aliette Nouvelle by John Brooke
  • The French Adventure of a Full-time Lawyer and Part-time Fool by Alan Gordon
  • Escape From Paris by Carolyn Hart
  • Maggie MacGowen Goes to France by Wendy Hornsby
  • France on Berlin Time by J. Robert Janes
  • Experiencing Provence by M.L. Longworth
  • Writing a French Police Series by Adrian Magson
  • France, the Write Country by Peter May
  • Travel + Fiction: You Want to Go There by Lise McClendon
  • Hemingway's Paris Remains 'A Moveable Feast' by Craig McDonald
  • Inspired by the "Where" by Tom Mitcheltree
  • It's All About Me? by Sharan Newman
  • Drinking Tea From a Bowl: Getting France Right by D-L Nelson
  • Mysteries Set in France: Vive la Différence! by Katherine Hall Page
  • Provence—To Die For by Renée Paley-Bain
  • Mick Jagger, Kirs Royales, and Paris by P.J. Parrish
  • Paris Shadows by M.J. Rose
  • Diplomatic Mystery by William S. Shepard
  • Alpine Beach: My French Connection by Susan Steggall
  • She Lost Her Head in La Belle France by Nancy Means Wright
  • Crossword: The French Connection by Verna Suit
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, L.J. Roberts, Alana White, Marlyn Beebe
  • Children's Hour: Where's Madeleine? by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Glimpses of France by Marvin Lachman
  • The Art of French Crime by Cathy Pickens
  • Crime Seen: Le Crime Vu by Kate Derie
  • Mysteries Set in France by British Authors by Philip Scowcroft
  • From the Editor's Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Monday, July 13, 2015

Don Winslow Literary Salon: July 23, 2 p.m., Berkeley

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for an afternoon Literary Salon in Berkeley, CA, on Thursday, July 23, at 2 p.m. with the return of Author Don Winslow. Space is extremely limited. Please RSVP to attend for address.

New York Times bestselling author and Raymond Chandler award recipient Don Winslow has written seventeen novels, including The Kings of Cool, Savages, The Winter of Frankie Machine and the highly acclaimed epic The Power of the Dog.

The Sequel to The Power of the Dog, The Cartel,  just came out and hit the NYT bestseller list. It's absolutely amazing!!! 

And, talk about timely. Read Don Winslow's article on El Chapo's Escape in today's CNN.

Read an Interview with Don about The Cartel in Time here.


Don Winslow, the son of a sailor and a librarian, grew up with a love of books and storytelling in a small coastal Rhode Island town. He left at age seventeen to study journalism at the University of Nebraska, where he earned a degree in African Studies. While in college, he traveled to southern Africa, sparking a lifelong involvement with that continent.

Winslow’s travels took him to California, Idaho, and Montana before he moved to New York City to become a writer, making his living as a movie theater manager and later a private investigator in Times Square – ‘before Mickey Mouse took it over’. He left to get a master’s degree in Military History. Winslow was supposed to go into the Foreign Service, but instead joined a friend’s safari firm in Kenya, leading photographic safaris there as well as hiking trips in the mountains of southwestern China, and directing Shakespeare on summer programs in Oxford.

While bouncing back and forth between Asia, Africa, Europe and America, Winslow wrote his first novel, A Cool Breeze On The Underground, which was nominated for an Edgar Award.
Now with a wife and young son, Winslow went back to investigative work, mostly in California, where he and his family lived in hotels for almost three years as he worked cases and became a trial consultant. A film and publishing deal for his novel The Death and Life of Bobby Z allowed Winslow to be full-time writer and settle in his beloved southern California, the setting for many of his books.

Winslow then branched out into television and film, his work attracting the attention of filmmakers and actors such as Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio. With his friend Shane Salerno, Winslow wrote a television series, UC Undercover, and he and Salerno later wrote the screen adaptation of Winslow’s novel, Savages, filmed by Oliver Stone. Winslow and Salerno currently have several film projects in process.

In addition to his novels, Winslow has published fourteen short stories in anthologies and magazines such as Esquire, The LA Times Magazine and Playboy. He has written columns for The Huffington Post as well a number of foreign newspapers.


The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers Awards announced the Ninth Annual Scribe Award Winners  - 2015 (for works written in 2014).

Acknowledging excellence in this very competitive field, IAMTW's Scribe Awards honor licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in other formats and cross all genres.

Homeland: Saul’s Game by Andrew Kaplan

Pathfinder: The Redemption Engine by James Sutter
Fringe: Sins of the Father by Christa Faust

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Alex Irvine

Battletech: The Nellus Academy Incident by Jennifer Brozak

Mike Hammer: It's in the Book by Max Collins and Mickey Spillane

Doctor Who: Iterations of I by John Dorney

See all the nominees HERE.

HT: Lee Goldberg

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Thriller Awards

The 2015 Thriller Awards was announced at ThrillerFest last night in New York.

Best Hardcover Novel:
The Fever, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown)

Best First Novel:
The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh (Spiegel & Grau)

Best Paperback Original Novel:
Moonlight Weeps, by Vincent Zandri (Down & Out)

Best Short Story:
“The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky,” by Tim L. Williams (EQMM, September/October 2014)

Best Young Adult Novel:
Nearly Gone, by Elle Cosimano (Kathy Dawson)

Best e-Book Original Novel:
Hard Fall, by C.J. Lyons (Legacy)

Tom Piccirilli: R.I.P.

Sad news. Tom Piccirilli, author of  over 30 novels and novellas including The Cold Spot, The Dead Spot, Coffin Blues, The Last Kind Words, and What Make Your Die, passed away yesterday at the age of 50.  Many of you who have followed his Facebook page know that he was battling brain cancer this past year.

“Over the last twenty years, Piccirilli has written in virtually every genre with the exception of hard sci-fi, but in the last decade, his voice has come to full maturity within crime fiction,” fellow writer Keith Rawson wrote in Lit Reactor, introducing his 2013 interview with Piccirilli. “His dark, at times poetic novels of lowlifes existing in the shadows of American life have consistently ranked as the very best being written in the genre.” Wikipedia adds that Piccirilli “was a two-time winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for ‘Best Paperback Original’ (2008, 2010). He is a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. He was also a finalist for the 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Award given by the Mystery Writers of America, a final nominee for the Fantasy Award, and he won the first Bram Stoker Award given in the category of ‘Best Poetry Collection.’”

On Piccirilli’s Facebook page, his wife, Michelle, wrote “He was the love of my life, an amazing writer, and the best person I have ever known.”

My heart goes out to Michelle, his family, and his friends at this sad time.

HT: The Rap Sheet

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sherlock: A First Look at the Sherlock Special

Here's an exclusive scene from the forthcoming Sherlock Special, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Una Stubbs. Coming Soon to MASTERPIECE PBS (we hope!). The special is a throwback to Sherlock in tweeds, meersham pipe, and deerstalker. The clip was unveiled yesterday at ComicCon.

And, an FYI, Series 4 has not begun-neither writing nor filming. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Maltese Falcon Prize

The  2015 Maltese Falcon Prize went to Roger Hobbs for his debut novel Ghost Man (2013). The Maltese Falcon Prize is awarded by Japan's crime-fiction Maltese Falcon Society to "the best hard-boiled/private eye novel published in Japan in the previous year."

HT: The Rap Sheet

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Strand Magazine Critics Awards

2014 Strand Magazine Critics Awards: “recognizing excellence in the field of mystery fiction.” These were presented tonight.

Best Novel:
The Fever, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown)
After I’m Gone, by Laura Lippman (Morrow)

Best First Novel:
Dear Daughter, by Elizabeth Little (Viking)

HT: Sarah Weinman

Cartoon of the Day:

HT: Eva Volin

Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery: July 26

Candace Cameron Bure is back on the case as a librarian investigating small town murders in “Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery,” a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Original World Premiere Sunday, July 26 (9pm ET/PT, 8C).

“Real Murders” is the second movie in the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries “Aurora Teagarden” Mystery Movie franchise, which is based on the books by author Charlaine Harris.  Along with Bure, five-time Golden Globe® nominee Marilu Henner headlines an ensemble cast that includes Lexa Doig, Bruce Dawson, Robin Dunne, Peter Benson, and Miranda Frigon.

“This exciting adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ book will have loyal Aurora Teagarden fans and new viewers alike on the edges of their seats,” said Michelle Vicary, Executive Vice President of Programming & Publicity, Crown Media Family Networks.  “The incredible talent in this film – lead by Crown Media Family darling Candace Cameron Bure and award-winning actress Marilu Henner – has transformed another Harris page turner into a must-watch television event.”

A mystery hits close to home for Aurora Teagarden (Bure) when a member of the Real Murders Club she presides over is found dead. Aurora realizes the crime mirrors a case discussed by the club and fears that one of her members could either be the next target or even the murderer!  Much to the chagrin of her protective mother, Aida (Henner), Aurora investigates this murder and the killing spree that follows with the help of visiting mystery writer – and love interest – Robin Daniels (Dunne).  Aurora must use her sleuthing skills to solve the mystery before she, herself, is targeted for real murder.

Martin Wood directs from a teleplay by Teena Booth, based on the book by Charlaine Harris.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ngaio Marsh Award Shortlist

Five outstanding novels full of mystery and intrigue have been announced as the shortlist for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, which will be presented at a WORD Christchurch event in late September.

I was thrilled to be part of the judging process. I feel thankful to have had the opportunity to read books that don't always make their way to the States. The sheer diversity of the books on the longlist made this an arduous but enjoyable task for me and for all the judges. Thank you, Craig, for all the work you do for this important award.

“The five books on this year’s shortlist are a superb showcase of New Zealand writing talent,” says Judging Convenor Craig Sisterson. “A few years ago it was common to question the quality of crime writing in this country, but these authors clearly demonstrate that our tales and our writers stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best in the world. The shortlist contains a diverse range of styles and stories, but each book melds page-turning entertainment with an undercurrent of deeper issues that go the very heart of our communities and society.”

After much deliberation, the international judging panel has selected the following five finalists:

FIVE MINUTES ALONE by Paul Cleave (Penguin NZ)
THE PETTICOAT MEN by Barbara Ewing (Head of Zeus)
SWIMMING IN THE DARK by Paddy Richardson (Upstart Press)
THE CHILDREN’S POND by Tina Shaw (Pointer Press)
FALLOUT by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press)

The judges praised Cleave’s FIVE MINUTES ALONE as “gritty and thoroughly absorbing”, a “one-sitting” novel that “evokes complex feelings regarding retribution and morality”. Ewing’s THE PETTICOAT MEN is “an immaculately researched” take on a real-life 1870s event that is “spirited, full of strong characters” and “a joy to read”. The panel hailed SWIMMING IN THE DARK as “an elegantly delivered, disturbing, and ultimately very human tale” that showcased Richardson’s talent for “damaged characters and tackling grey areas”. Tina Shaw authors a “mesmerising” character study in THE CHILDREN’S POND, using deft and spare language to craft a tale with a sublime sense of both place and menace that is “a delight to read”. Paul Thomas’s FALLOUT is “compelling and character-rich”, a “superb continuation” of the Ihaka series; “excellent writing... funny, but also serious.”

The Ngaio Marsh Award is made annually for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident. This year’s winner will receive the Ngaio Marsh Award trophy, a set of Dame Ngaio’s novels courtesy of her publisher HarperCollins, and a cash prize provided by WORD Christchurch.

The Award’s namesake, Dame Ngaio Marsh, was a Christchurch mystery writer and theatre director renowned worldwide as one of the four “Queens of Crime” of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. More than thirty years after her death her books remain in print and beloved by many generations of readers. The Ngaio Marsh Award was established in 2010 with the blessing of Dame Ngaio’s closest living relative, John Dacres-Manning.

For more information on the Ngaio Marsh Award, go to or email, or to contact the Judging Convenor directly:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fourth of July Mysteries//Fourth of July Crime Fiction

The Fourth of July (Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays, maybe because I was born in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation. If you've been to my house you know I collect patriotic embroideries and pottery. I'm big on Red, White, & Blue!

Fourth of July is at the center of this updated list of Fourth of July Crime Fiction. Even if you're not celebrating Independence Day, you can celebrate this (updated) great group of mysteries! Something for everyone's taste!

Fourth of July Mysteries

The Fourth of July Wake by Harold Adams
Murder on Parade by Donald Bain (as Jessica Fletcher) 
Hair of the Dog by Laurien Berenson 
The Cat Who Went Underground by Lilian Jackson Braun
Dead on the 4th of July by Meg Chittenden
Someone to Watch Over Me by Jill Churchill
Independence Day by Anne-Marie Clark
Twanged by Carol Higgins Clark
Oh Say Can You Fudge by Nancy Coco
BlackBuried Pie by Lyndsey Cole
A Catered Fourth of July by Isis Crawford
Red, White, and Blue Murder
by Bill Crider
Dead on the Fourth of July by R. E. Derouin
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Independence Slay by Shelley Freydont
Tool & Die, Triple Witch by Sarah Graves
Act Of Darkness by Jane Haddam
Yankee Doodle Dead; Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart
Past Imperfect by Kathleen Hills
Exit Wounds by J. A. Jance
The Fourth of July by J.D. Kincaid
A Timely Vision by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Die Like a Hero by Clyde Linsley
Knee High by the Fourth of July by Jess Lourey
Star Spangled Murder by Leslie Meier
Iron Ties by Ann Parker
4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
King Suckerman by George P. Pelecanos
Can't Never Tell by Cathy Pickens
Death by Deep Dish Pie by Sharon Short
Killing Grounds by Dana Stabenow
Independence Day Plague by Carla Lee Suson
And Four to Go ("Fourth of July Picnic") by Rex Stout  
Some Welcome Home by Sharon Wildwind
Star Spangled Murder by Valerie Wolzien

Short Story:
Rex Stout's "Fourth of July Picnic" in Century of Great Suspense Stories, Edited by Jeff Deaver
S. Furlong-Bolliger's "Booneville Retribution: 4th of July Mystery Short Story" in Kings River Life.

Children’s Mysteries
Fireworks at the FBI (Capital Mysteries Series #6) by Ron Roy, Timothy Bush (Illustrator)
Murder On The Fourth of July by Carolyn Keene
The Philly Fake by David E. Kelly

True Crime:  
Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Betrayal, and Hate Crime in America by David A. Neiwert

As always, I welcome additions and comments.

Have a great holiday!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Vintage Fourth of July Fireworks Postcards

Happy Fourth of July! Fireworks have been a part of Independence Day celebrations for centuries. Fireworks, though, can be dangerous, especially for children. That's why I found these vintage postcards so odd. Today this would be considered "child endangerment." I've added some new postcards. Happy Independence Day!