What holiday could be more fitting to Mystery Fiction than El Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead?
Day of the Dead Crime Fiction
The Day of the Dead by John Creed The Day of the Dead: The Autumn of Commissario Ricciardi by Maurzio de Giovanni Days of the Dead by Barbara Hambly Sugar Skull by Denise Hamilton Dios De Los Muertos by Kent Harrington The Wrong Goodbye by Chris Holm Day of the Dead by J.A. Jance Devil's Kitchen by Clark Lohr Weave Her Thread with Bones by Claudia Long The Day of the Dead by Bart Spicer
Today I welcome back Michael Stanley. Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both are retired professors who have worked in academia and business.
Sears is a mathematician, specializing in geological remote sensing.
Trollip is an educational psychologist, specializing in the application of computers to
teaching and learning, and a pilot. They were both born in South Africa. They have been
on a number of flying safaris to Botswana and Zimbabwe, where it was always exciting to
buzz a dirt airstrip to shoo the elephants off. They have had many adventures on these
trips including tracking lions at night, fighting bush fires on the Savuti plains in
northern Botswana, being charged by an elephant, and having their plane’s door pop
open over the Kalahari, scattering navigation maps over the desert.. These trips
have fed their love both for the bush, and for Botswana. It was on one of these
trips that the idea surfaced for a novel set in Botswana. Their books include Deadly Harvest, Death of the Mantis, Goodluck Tinubu (A Deadly Trade) and A Carrion Death.
Michael and Stanley: A TASTE OF AFRICA: AKUkBUk
Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu is the main character of our detective series that is set in the land-locked country of Botswana in Southern Africa.
Kubu is a large man with a large appetite. His nickname “Kubu” means hippopotamus in the local language, so you get the general idea. He enjoys food and wine and is often found frequenting Gaborone’s eating establishments. If it comes to a choice of quantity or quality, Kubu always chooses quality – as long as the quantity is sufficient!
Kubu is so big that his wife, Joy, is always trying to put him on a diet. Kubu often eats the salad or whatever she gives him, then sneaks out for what he deems a real meal – hamburger, steak, or whatever. Usually with his favorite daytime drink, a steelworks, or a glass of wine, if he can afford it, in the evening.
The food in his hometown, Gaborone, is reasonably eclectic for a small city, with fine Portuguese and Brasilian fare, as well as delicious Botswana steaks. Of course, there is fast food, which Kubu disdains, and a variety of ordinary restaurants with normal fare.
Kubu is particularly fond of African food or, at least, food that has become known as African. One of his favorites is bobotie – a lightly-curried ground-lamb (or beef) casserole containing fruit, such as raisins, grated apple, or apricots. Its origins are from the Malayan slaves brought to Cape Town by the Dutch in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
Even if you do not normally like curries, you will enjoy this delicious dish.
2 pounds (900 gms) ground lamb or beef
1 slice bread
3 cups (700 mls) milk
1 medium yellow or white onion chopped
1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 gms) curry powder
1 tablespoon (15 gms) brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mls) salt
½ teaspoon (2.5 mls) ground pepper
¼ cup (60 mls) lemon juice
1 tart apple grated
1 cup (225 gms) seedless raisins
½ cup (125 gms) slivered almonds
Several bay leaves
• Put the bread into a bowl containing all the milk. Let stand.
• Lightly brown the meat in a skillet, breaking up any chunks. Transfer to a large container with a slotted spoon.
• Cook the onion in the remaining fat in the skillet until translucent. Don’t burn!
• Add the curry powder, salt, sugar, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture over the meat.
• Take the bread out of the milk and squeeze out the milk back into the bowl. Put the bread with the meat.
• Add raisins, almonds, apple, and 2 eggs to the meat. Combine. (If you use your hands to do this, it feels great and you can lick your fingers afterwards!)
• Pack the mixture into a casserole dish.
• Combine the remaining two eggs with the milk and pour over meat.
• Push a few bay leaves into the meat.
• Cook for 45 minutes at 300° F (150° C).
It is served over yellow rice – white rice with a touch of turmeric and a handful of raisins – with mango chutney on the side. Leftovers are great hot or cold. Kubu likes to put them in pita bread with sour cream or have them as a filling in an omelet. Yummy.
We have now pulled together a number of Kubu’s favourite recipes in a cookbook, titled A Taste of Africa. The idea for the cookbook and the name KUkBUk came from one of our readers, Vincent Moureau, in Belgium. We love the name, and thank him for coming up with such a wonderfully bad pun!
Now you can enjoy Kubu’s favorite food
Help alleviate the book famine in Africa
The KUkBUk is available at Createspace or at Amazon in the States and Europe. The price is about $5.00 depending where you are.
We will donate all proceeds to the wonderful Books for Africa charity (booksforafrica.org), based in St. Paul, MN. Last year alone, it sent over two million books and hundreds of computers to schools, universities, and libraries throughout Africa.
KUkBUks also make great stocking stuffers or little gifts to friends.
David Cole was a fine writer and a true friend. Over the years we met at Left Coast Crime, Bouchercon, Literary Salons, and in Berkeley. We had animated, meaningful, political and literary discussions. David called me "Curly". I will miss him.
Here's an article David wrote for the Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 15:4) with updates. "In his words..."
On the Borderline by David Cole
My first book, Butterfly Lost (HarperCollins, 2000), is a dark
mystery with a completely unexpected view of the contemporary American
Southwest. Laura Winslow, my central character, is a half-Hopi,
Ritalin-abusing computer hacker, living on the run while battling the
demons behind her own anxiety disorder. Laura inhabits social,
psychological, and geographic borderlands, and continually tries to
solve the ambiguities of Native/non-Native identity, the ties and
terrors of personal commitments, and the seedy backstreet life of the
US/Mexican border region.
My second book, The Killing Maze (Avon, February, 2001),
is set in Tucson and on the Tohono O'odham reservation, and deals with
large-scale insurance computer fraud involving native Americans. My
third book in this series, Stalking Moon (Avon, 2002), continues
my focus on political and cultural issues of Hopi and Tohono O'odham
tribes in Arizona. The main plot centers around the international and
illegal trafficking in women to the US (50,000 in 1999). My main themes
revolve around the culturally and politically difficult lives of people
of color (i.e., non-gringo) on either side of the US-Mexico border.
UPDATE:Scorpion Rain, my fourth book, is pretty much a straight-ahead thriller of kidnapping and revenge. Dragonfly Bonesreturns to Native American themes, particularly the issue of repatriation of native artifacts and bones. Shadow Play(due in July, 2004) deals with traditional Navajo issues, particularly the cultural problems caused by skinwalkers.
For six years I have worked for NativeWeb, Inc., a non-profit
corporation offering Internet services and information to Native and
Indigenous peoples of the world. I am one of the founding members of the
collective, and our website at www.nativeweb.org currently averages
about 6,000 visitors a day. NativeWeb was chosen as one of the top
twenty Humanities sites on the Internet by the National Endowment of the
Humanities (NEH) EDSitement website.
UPDATE: Now in my eleventh year with this non-profit - NativeWeb
draws approximately 7,000 daily visitors and now hosts websites for
nearly sixty non-profit websites, primarily from Central and South
My youthful isolation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula tends to
push me towards creating characters who are outsiders, caught between
enjoying their small town lives and wanting to be somewhere else. This
inevitably colors my writing, so that bright moments are set against a
darker side. Few boys I knew in high school liked the emotional
complexities of movies or literature or classical music, so I grew up
with girls, and in later years, women, as my best friends. This has
always influenced my preference for women as strong central characters.
I taught English in college and at an alternative high school,
and worked for many years as a technical writer and editor. A political
activist since the late 1960s, I founded a political theatre troupe in
California during the 1970s. At other times, I've worked in computer
support and website design, as a short order cook, patent engineer, and
lead guitarist and vocalist in a rock and roll band! I now live with my
wife and cats in Syracuse, am building a harpsichord.
UPDATE: The harpsichord project, alas, never ended, so I
sold all the parts. At one time we had six cats, we're now down to four.
My wife, Deborah Pellow, is a Cultural Anthropology professor at
Syracuse University, specializing in West Africa (Ghana), gender issues,
AIDS, and the various usages of public space. We also have a place in
the desert near Tucson, Arizona, where I spend eight to ten weeks a year
writing and researching.
UPDATE: Currently I'm working on the seventh Laura Winslow
mystery, a "cozy" set in the music/theatre world of Austin, Texas, and a
standalone set in New York City, Syracuse, and Ottawa. I am also
working on Jasper, Texas, a non-fiction book about hate crimes, wrapped
around a narrative of the heinous 1998 dragging-to-death murder of James
Byrd. This book will be published in spring, 2005, by the University of
Among contemporary mystery writers, two people stand out among
my favorite writers. T. Jefferson Parker and James Lee Burke. Jeff
Parker's Silent Joe set new standards for literary quality of
procedurals; his Merci Rayborn books are lessons to anyone who tackles
procedural thrillers. Jim Burke has been a major influence in terms of
his extraordinary descriptions of people and places. Burke puts more in a
single paragraph than other writers do in a page. David Lindsey's
earlier books taught me that I could write about dark characters and
political situations. Elizabeth George continually teaches me that
readers will thrive on well-written, yet intensely complicated
characters and plots. Tony Hillerman's love for the southwest, and for
Navajo culture, has always been important. And I've enjoyed watching
Michael Connelly's career take off big time with his carefully crafted,
straight-ahead plotting, and his many nuanced characters.
NOTE: More recent writers I've admired include: Ian Rankin - A Question of Blood is
maybe his best work, a great novel; John Harvey and Peter Robinson,
especially for their weaving of music throughout the stories; Henning
Mankell, extraordinary Swedish writer; Robert Wilson, who brings the
hardboiled PI to complex stories set in West Africa; and finally Eliot
Pattison, who brings a whole different milieu and talent to The Skull Mantra.
I should also add that I've always been influenced by the hyper-urgent,
somewhat neurotic yet fluid suspense writing of Elliston Trevor, as
Adam Hall, writing the Quiller novels. Nobody matches this writing for
sheer continuity of thrills from the very first page.
Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park was an important book for me.
When asked how long he'd lived in Russia, because he seemed to know
Moscow so well, Smith is reported to have said he'd never been there. It
was all research and rewriting. Whatever the truth of this comment, it
has been one of my lodestones. Know what you're writing about, polish it
as best you can. This is even more complicated and difficult for me,
since I am neither a woman nor a Native American, yet these are the
characters that most fascinate me.
My writing has always been politically motivated. Quite
frankly, I chose the mystery format because it was a good-selling
market, and I could wrap my politics around the plot. And in a very real
sense, mysteries are one of the last remaining genres where morality
plays a central role. I want "good" to triumph. As much as I admire
Elmore Leonard's talent, I often have difficulty separating the moral
centers of his characters who survive from those who don't.
What reader doesn't dream of sleeping in a Bookstore? Well, we readers do, anyway. A Bookstore-Themed Hostel is set to open in November in Tokyo.
According to Mental_floss: The interior of Book and Bed looks
like something out of a book lover's fantasy. Lining the shelves of the
hostel are hundreds of English and Japanese titles. Books are even hung
from the ceiling in a way that makes them appear as if they’re gliding
overhead. Guests can read on one of the hostel’s sofas piled with
pillows, or in their capsule-style sleeping quarters equipped with
personal reading lamps. Some beds are even located behind the actual
bookshelves, and guests can climb a ladder to access the second level.
While the books at this bookstore-themed hostel aren’t
for sale, guests are free to read to their hearts' content for the
duration of their stay. You can book your trip today for $32 to $50 a
Today I welcome Diana Renn, Diana Renn writes contemporary novels for young adults featuring globetrotting teens, international intrigue, and more than a dash of mystery. TOKYO HEIST, LATITUDE ZERO and BLUE VOYAGE are all published by Viking Children’s Books / Penguin Young Readers Group. She is also the Fiction Editor at YARN (Young Adult Review Network), an award-winning online magazine featuring short-form writing for teens.
Diana Renn: The Occupational Hazards of a Travel Mystery Writer
Like many people, I rarely take a true vacation anymore. It’s hard for most
of us to disconnect from our work, even in remote locations, despite our
best intentions. Yet arguably this problem is even more of an occupational
hazard for me. Here’s the thing. Even when I completely unplug from my
electronic devices, as a writer of travel mysteries I cannot escape my work.
I love travel, but writing thrillers set in other countries or ostensibly
relaxing venues has made a relaxing vacation impossible. I have
hyper-trained my mind to look for danger at every turn.
Early in the process of writing each book, one of the first things I
research is crime in the area about which I’m writing. I read the U.S.
Department of State website for information about each country in order to
understand the dominant types of crime, especially as they may impact
American travelers. I scour online newspapers to learn about foreign
citizens who have run into trouble abroad—partly to avoid a “ripped from the
headlines” story in my work, and partly to get ideas that I might cobble
together into a different kind of story. I memorize safety precautions in
travel guidebooks to the regions. I research criminal networks to learn how
they are organized, and I try to understand law enforcement and government
procedures, and what an American – especially one under age eighteen – might
do if she found herself in some kind of hot water. Finally, I study online
travel forums, from the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree to TripAdvisor, to learn
firsthand from real tourists what kinds of harrowing experiences folks have
encountered. (Poisoned from pesticides! Mugged and left for dead in a ditch!
Conned by a charming man posing as a tour guide!)
Inevitably, family vacations occur when I’m at some point in the process of
writing a book. I may look like I’m lounging in a pool chair, but I’m really
plotting out crimes and trying to get my sleuths in and out of some kind of
trouble. Sometimes I’m even writing notes.
Even when I’m not working out plot points, I’m definitely not relaxing. How
could I watch my child drift perilously close to the water jets in the pool
when I just read about how children have been sucked into pool drains – and
how resort officials in this country have covered up such incidents,
obscuring investigations? How could I not sit up straighter, with one hand
on the door handle, when the taxi driver is veering away from the mall and
into a dicey neighborhood?
I’m not only vigilant about the potential for crime, I’m constantly on the
lookout for new story ideas. My husband is pointing out the sunset over the
water, and I’m imagining how someone might get pushed off the dock, and why,
and by whom. My child points out the hot-looking car speeding down the
highway, and I’m wondering who’s driving the getaway vehicle, and what
they’re fleeing from. MY family hears a marching band; I hear the police
sirens. Other people might settle back in their seats for the long bus ride,
but I have one eye on the driver, wondering when he might swerve and plunge
into a ravine, taking a dark secret over a cliff and the rest of us right
along with him. I smell smoke somewhere – a barbecue? Or arson? And the
partying kids who keep us awake in the hallway of our hotel? Are those
shrieks of glee – or of horror?
Training my mind to the potential for crime and danger might not make me the
best traveling companion, but I hope it makes me a better writer.
Understanding dangers, recent crimes, and law enforcement procedures, before
I even begin writing, helps me to hone in on the type of crime and criminals
I want to write about. For my books, I try to pick a crime or criminal
elements that aren’t merely sensationalistic. For example, laced drinks in
Turkey can be a problem for tourists – especially the type of tourists who
might find themselves in a bar – and can lead to a certain kind of paranoia.
However, it doesn’t happen all the time, and for my teen characters in Blue
Voyage, who aren’t going to nightclubs and restaurants, being poisoned by a
drink is less of an overt concern. More likely, their brushes with criminals
would include theft or encounters with con artists.
I also try to connect the criminal element with some deeper issue that my
young sleuth is going to work through in the book. For Blue Voyage, I became
interested in smuggling networks and the issue of fraud since Zan herself is
preoccupied with the issue of authenticity. Not only must she locate and
identify an authentic artifact, she is trying to excavate her authentic self
after years of maintaining a certain kind of appearance.
I’ve come to accept that seeing danger everywhere is a necessary part of my
job. And I’m grateful that becoming so alert to danger hasn’t put me off of
far-flung vacations. (Although I have gradually become convinced that
purchasing trip insurance isn’t a bad idea). I’ll always want to travel, and
am already planning my next trip. Maybe I’ll see you on the beach, or a
plaza, or in the crowds at a museum. Maybe I’ll even save your life! Because
one thing I’m sure of is when you’re traveling, anything can happen.
Congratulations to Don Winslow for winning the T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award for The Cartel.
The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA) recognizes excellence in books that reflect Southern California culture or lifestyle, with authors/illustrators living within the SCIBA region.
The mystery award is named after T. Jefferson Parker, a life-long resident of Southern California and Edgar Award-winning author.
The Cartel was one of three finalists. The other finalists were: Marry, Kiss, Kill by Anne Flett-Giordano The Replacements by David Putnam
Happy Halloween! Here's my updated 2015 list of Halloween Mysteries. Let me know if I've missed any titles. I'd like to make this list as complete as possible. Boo!!
HALLOWEEN CRIME FICTION
Green Water Ghost by Glynn Marsh Alam Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert Antiques Maul by Barbara Allan In Charm's Way by Madelyn Alt Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews A Roux of Revenge by Connie Archer Far to Go by May Louise Aswell Killing Time by Amy Beth Arkaway Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun, Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming by Kathleen Bacus Trick or Treachery: A Murder She Wrote Mystery by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher Punked by the Pumpkin by Constance Barker In the Spirit of Murder by Laura Belgrave The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin Spackled and Spooked by Jennie Bentley Watchdog by Laurien Berenson The Ginseng Conspiracy by Susan Bernhardt A Haunting is Brewing by Juliet Blackwell Witches of Floxglove Corners by Dorothy Bodoin Death of a Trickster by Kate Borden Post-Mortem Effects by Thomas Boyle A Graveyard for Lunatics, The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury Rebel without a Cake by Jacklyn Brady The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun The Hunt Ball, The Litter of the Law by Rita Mae Brown Death on All Hallowe'en by Leo Bruce Halloween by Leslie Burgess Death Goes Shopping by Jessica Burton Wycliffe and the Scapegoat by W.J. Burley Death Goes Shopping by Jessica Burton Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Ann Campbell The Charm Stone by Lillian Stewart Carl The Wizard of La-La Land by R. Wright Campbell The Halloween Murders by John Newton Chance Death with an Ocean View by Nora Charles Frill Kill, Tragic Magic, Photo Finished, Bedeviled Eggs The Jasmine Moon Murder, Fiber and Brimstone, Bedeviled Eggs, Frill Kill, Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
A Holiday Sampler by Christine E. Collier Lost Souls by Michael Collins Not in My Backyard by Susan Rogers Cooper Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman Deadly Magic by Elisabeth Crabtree A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford Newly Crimsoned Reliquary by Donna Fletcher Crow Silver Scream, Bantam of the Opera, The Alpine Uproar by Mary Daheim Halloween Hijinks, Pumpkins in Paradise, Haunted Hamlet by Kathi Daley The Dracula Murders by Philip Daniels The Diva Haunts the House, The Ghost and Mrs Mewer by Krista Davis Fatal Undertaking by Mark de Castrique Throw Darts at a Cheesecake by Denise Dietz Trick or Treat, The Halloween Murder by Doris Miles Disney A Map of the Dark by John Dixon Ghostly Murders by P. C. Doherty Died to Match by Deborah Donnelly Cat with an Emerald Eye by Carole Nelson Douglas Farmcall Fatality by Abby Deuel Not Exactly a Brahmin by Susan Dunlap Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones by Kaitlyn Dunnett A Ghost to Die Forby Elizabeth Eagan-Cox The Bowl of Night by Rosemary Edghill The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards Door of Death by John Esteven The Witchfinder by Loren D. Estleman Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich Dead Ends by Anne C. Fallon Sympathy For The Devil by Jerrilyn Farmer Dead in the Pumpkin Patch by Connie Feddersen Blackwork, Hanging by a Thread, Blackwork by Monica Ferris Scary Stuff by Sharon Fiffer The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Honora Finkelstein Trick or Treachery by "Jessica Fletcher" and Donald Bain The Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke Halloween Murder, Foul Play at the Fair, Trick or Deceit by Shelley Freydont Broke by Kaye George Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber Trick or Treat by Leslie Glaister Mommy and the Murder by Nancy Gladstone Haunted by Jeanne Glidewell A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein (YA) Monster in Miniature by Margaret Grace Hell for the Holidays by Chris Gravenstein Nail Biter by Sarah Graves Deadly Harvest by Heather Graham Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood Halloween by Ben Greer The Snafued Snatch by Jackie Griffey Quoth the Raven, Skeleton Key by Jane Haddam Hallowed Bones by Carolyn Haines Southern Ghost, Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart Sweet Poison by Ellen Hart Hide in the Dark by Frances Noyes Hart Revenge of the Cootie Girls by Sparkle Hayter Town in a Pumpkin Bash by B.B. Haywood The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes Murder on the Ghost Walk by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter Already Dead by Charlie Huston Long Time No See by Susan Isaacs Murder on Old Main Street, Dirty Tricks by Judith K. Ivie The Pumpkin Thief, The Great Pumpkin Caper by Melanie Jackson Murder Among Us by Jonnie Jacobs A Murder Made in Stitches by Pamela James The Devil's Cat, Cat's Eye, Cat's Cradle by William W. Johnstone The Violet Hour by Daniel Judson Muffins & Murder by Heather Justesen Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman Wed and Buried, The Skeleton Haunts a House by Toni L.P. Kelner Verse of the Vampyre by Diana Killian Pumpkin Roll by Josi S. Kilpack The Animal Hour by Andrew Klavan Paws for Murder by Annie Knox Ghastly Glass by Joyce and Jim Lavene Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine Death Knocks Twice by James H. Lilley The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan Poisoned by Elaine Macko Halloween Flight 77 by Debbie Madison Satan's Silence by Alex Matthews Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery by Ed McBain Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McKevett Death on All Hallows by Allen Campbell McLean A Sparrow Falls Holiday by Donna McLean Witch of the Palo Duro by Mardi Oakley Medawar Trick or Treat Murder, Wicked Witch Murder, Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier Dancing Floor, Prince of Darkness by Barbara Michaels Monster in Miniature by Camille Minichino The Violet Hour by Richard Montanari A Biscuit, a Casket by Liz Mugavero Dead End by Helen R. Myers Nightmare in Shining Armor by Tamar Myers Hatchet Job by J.E. Neighbors Retribution by Patrick J. O'Brien Deadly Places by Terry Odell
Halloween House by Ed Okonowicz The Body in the Moonlight by Katherine Hall Page Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry Flight of a Witch by Ellis Peters Twilight by Nancy Pickard A Stitch to Die For by Anastasia Pollack
Murder at Witches Bluff by Silver Ravenwolf Poltergeist by Kat Richardson
Death Notice by Todd Ritter
Spook Night by David Robbins
A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts
Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts
Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder by Sara Rosett Scared Stiff by Annelise Ryan Death of Halloween by Kim Sauke Mighty Old Bones by Mary Saums Murder Ole! by Corinne Holt Sawyer Tracking Magic by Maria E. Schneider The Tenor Wore Tapshoes by Mark Schweizer Phantoms Can be Murder by Connie Shelton A Killer Maize by Paige Shelton Dance of the Scarecrows by Ray Sipherd The Sterling Inheritance by Michael Siverling The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Susan Smily Town Haunts by Cathy Spencer Ghost Story by Peter Straub Ripping Abigail by Barbara Sullivan Recipe for Murder by Janet Elaine Smith Carbs and Cadavers by J.B. Stanley In the Blink of an Eye, Halloween Party by Wendy Corsi Staub Murder of a Royal Pain by Denise Swanson Mourning Shift by Kathleen Taylor Halloween Homicide by Lee Thayer Inked Up by Terri Thayer Charlie's Web by L.L. Thrasher Gods of the Nowhere by James Tipper Death in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope A Dash of Murder by Teresa Trent Strange Brew by Kathy Hogan Trochek How to Party with a Killer Vampire by Penny Warner Murder by the Slice by Livia J. Washburn Five-Minute Halloween Mysteries by Ken Weber The Scarecrow Murders by Mary Welk Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells Ghoul of My Dreams by Richard F. West All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams Mayhem, Marriage, and Murderous Mystery Manuscripts by J.L. Wilson Killer See, Killer Do by Jonathan Wolfe All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien
And here's a list of Halloween Mystery Short Story anthologies:
Deadly Treats: Halloween Tales of Mystery, Magic and Mayhem, Edited by Anne Frasier Trick and Treats edited by Joe Gores & Bill Pronzini Asking for the Moon (includes "Pascoe's Ghost" and "Dalziel's Ghost") by Reginald Hill Murder for Halloween by Cynthia Manson The Haunted Hour, edited by Cynthia Manson & Constance Scarborough Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense, edited by Michele Slung & Roland Hartman. Mystery for Halloween (an anthology), edited by Donald Westlake Halloween Horrors, edited by Alan Ryan All Hallows' Evil, edited by Sarah E. Glenn Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman and Marcia Talley Halloween Thirteen-a Collection of Mysteriously Macabre Tales, by Bobbi Chukran
MASTERPIECE and PBS announced today that Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, a 90-minute special, will premiere Friday, January 1, 2016 on MASTERPIECE Mystery! on PBS at 9:00 p.m. ET, and simultaneously online at pbs.org/masterpiece. The special will have an encore broadcast on Sunday, January 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET. This is the first time that Sherlock has premiered in the US and the UK on the same day.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the modern retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic stories. But now our heroes find themselves in 1890s London. Beloved characters Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington), Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) also turn up at 221b Baker Street.
Today I welcome Sasscer Hill. Sasscer Hill has been involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for most of her life. Now that she’s turned to writing, her mystery and suspense thrillers have received multiple award nominations. She sets her stories against a background of big money, gambling, and horse racing.
Her first book in the "Nikki Latrelle" series, FULL MORTALITY, was nominated for both an Agatha and a Macavity Best First Book Award. The second book in her "Fia McKee" series won First Place in the Carrie McCray 2015 Competition for First Chapter of a Novel. The following article appears on an Aiken, S.C. website, and on the author's website. Reprinted with permission.
Back in 1994, I wrote a romantic suspense novel and landed a literary agent. I thought the rest would be a slam dunk! The agent sent it to major publishers. They rejected my novel, and, the agent dropped me. I was devastated.
Eventually, I started a mystery series, got a new agent, and by the time I wrote the second “Nikki Latrelle” novel, RACING FROM DEATH, it was 2005. Both books lingered at big publishing houses for many months before being rejected. More years crawled by.
I met the owner of a small press who offered to publish RACING FROM DEATH, but I wanted to wait for the big NY deal. While waiting, the stock market crashed. The Maryland racehorse market went down the drain right behind it, and so did my income.
February of 2010 was a terrible month. My longtime favorite author, Dick Francis died. I was diagnosed with lymphoma, and my horse farm was hit by the worst blizzard in the history of Maryland. Desperate, I asked the small press owner if he’d consider the first in the series, FULL MORTALITY. He read the manuscript during the blizzard and accepted it the next day. When my literary agent warned against a small press publication, saying NY publishers wouldn’t touch the rest of my series, we parted ways.
Miraculously, FULL MORTALITY was published in May of 2010, received rave reviews, and was nominated for both Agatha and Macavity Awards. Even better, my lymphoma treatment was successful.
The award nominations helped secure a better agent with a successful track record. But by the time I finished the third book in the “Nikki Latrelle” series, I knew my old agent was right. Big publishers weren’t interested in the latest in a series already in the hands of another publisher–unless it had humongous sales. A word to the wise: you are unlikely to get humongous sales with a small press.
My new agent told me to start a new series. So I did, creating “Fia McKee,” a thirty-two-year-old agent for the real life agency, the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. I drove up to Fair Hill, Maryland, in the winter of 2012, and interviewed the bureau’s President and Vice President. Then, I sold the farm that had been in my family for over two hundred years, my horses, and bought a house in Aiken. I finished the manuscript of FLAMINGO ROAD in 2014 and started the second in the “Fia McKee” series in October that year.
My agent began shopping for publishers in December of 2014. The next spring, an editor at St. Martins Minotaur showed interest, but had reservations about readers’ interest in a horse racing novel. I immediately went to work obtaining statistics on the surprisingly strong popularity of horse racing. Things like NBC’s unprecedented ten-year extension agreement to broadcast rights to the Breeders Cup weekend races as well as the eleven qualifying races that precede that two-day, all-star event. I noted how a recent ESPN poll showed horse racing is the most popular non-team sport, beating out tennis, boxing, and even NASCAR! I sent the report to my agent, who sent it to St. Martins.
Less than a week after this, the Carrie McCray committee awarded my in-progress novel, the second in the “Fia McKee” series, with “Best First-Chapter of a Novel.”
Amazingly, that same week, my small-press trilogy received a glorious endorsement from Steve Haskin, the senior Correspondent for the Blood-Horse, and a former national correspondent for the Daily Racing Form. The recipient of eighteen awards for excellence in turf writing, Haskin wrote,
“Sasscer, the honor comes in your accomplishments and talent, and you should take great pride in such a magnificent trifecta. Congratulations!!! Well done. Dick Francis lives!”
But the brightest star to align that week was a racehorse named American Pharoah. Deep in my heart, I’d believed if the colt could pull off the historical and momentous feat of winning the first Triple Crown in 37 years, it might nudge a publishing offer from St. Martins my way. White knuckled, I watched the final race at Belmont. When American Pharoah blasted around the track on the lead, rocketed down the stretch, pulling away from the Belmont field, I screamed, “My God, he’s going to win!”
Then he opened up and won by daylight! I burst into tears, turned to my husband, and said, “I think I’m going to get an offer.”
I could feel the bright star that is my love for horses rising over me. Pharoah’s race drew 22 million television viewers, and the subsequent radio, television, and social media attention was phenomenal. Within a week, American Pharoah appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and a day later, I received a two-book offer from St. Martins Minotaur.
Acorn TV presents the U.S. Premiere of the police thriller BLACK WORK. BAFTA Award winner Sheridan Smith (The C Word, Cilla, Mrs Biggs, and the upcoming The Huntsman) stars as a police woman drawn into investigating her detective husband’s murder. Matthew McNulty (The Paradise, Jamaica Inn) co-stars as a fellow police officer, while Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes) plays the chief police constable.
Acorn TV will debut the three-episode crime drama on consecutive Mondays beginning Monday, November 2, 2015.
Jo Gillespie (Sheridan Smith) is a policewoman whose detective husband (Kenny Doughty, Vera) is killed in the line of duty while working undercover on a case. Her coworkers expect her to stay out of the investigation, but when alarming information about her husband comes to light, Jo loses faith in her police family and sets out to find the killer herself. Along the way she learns of the many dark secrets surrounding her husband, his colleagues, and the criminals they were investigating, while also confronting the heartbreaking realities of her marriage.
Black Work (3 Episodes, each approx. 60 minutes)
Monday, November 2 – Episode 1 premieres on Acorn TV
Monday, November 9 – Episode 2 premieres on Acorn TV
Monday, November 16 – Episode 3 premieres on Acorn TV
Harriet Klausner, of Morrow, GA passed away on October 15, 2015.
(Obituary from Thomas L. Scroggs Funeral Directors)
Mrs. Klausner was a reviewer of books and a newspaper columnist. At one time she was the #1 ranked reviewer on Amazon.com. She was a former librarian with a master's degree in library science who was proficient in speed-reading.
She is survived by her husband, Stan Klausner; son, Eric Klausner (Nancy) of Jonesboro, brother, Larry Karpel (Sindee) of Ft. Myers, FL., numerous nieces and nephews.
There are so many areas in your house that you'll find to tuck in a few books. Although I have a lot of bookshelves, I also have a lot of piles. I don't have a second floor in my house, but if I did, this Bookshelf Staircase would be a must. I think I'd add a railing, however, for the dogs.
Join Mystery Readers NorCal for a Panel on Jewish Noir, Thursday, October 29, 7 p.m. Berkeley. Please RSVP (make a comment below with email) for address and to attend. Seating limited.
Join us for contemporary tales of crime and other dark deeds with Jewish Noir Editor, Kenneth Wishnia, and co-conspirators Summer Brenner, Michael J. Cooper, Steven Wishnia, Melanie Dante, Wendy Hornsby and Stephen Jay Schwartz.
Jewish Noir(PM Press) is a unique collection of new stories by Jewish
and non-Jewish literary and genre writers, including numerous
award-winning authors such as Marge Piercy, Harlan Ellison, S.J. Rozan,
Nancy Richler, Reed Farrel Coleman, Wendy Hornsby, Charles
Ardai, and Kenneth Wishnia.
The stories explore such issues as the
Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations,
anti-Semitism in the mid- and late-twentieth-century United States, and
the dark side of the Diaspora (the decline of revolutionary fervor, the
passing of generations, the Golden Ghetto, etc.). The stories in this
collection also include many “teachable moments” about the history of
prejudice, and the contradictions of ethnic identity and assimilation
into American society.
Stories include: “A Simkhe” (A Celebration), first published in Yiddish in the Forverts
in 1912 by one of the great unsung writers of that era, Yente
Serdatsky. This story depicts the disillusionment that sets in among a
group of Russian Jewish immigrant radicals after several years in the
United States. This is the story’s first appearance in English. “Trajectories,” Marge Piercy’s story of the divergent paths taken by
two young men from the slums of Cleveland and Detroit in a rapidly
changing post-World War II society. “Some You Lose,” Nancy Richler’s empathetic exploration of the
emotional and psychological challenges of trying to sum up a man’s life
in a eulogy. “Her Daughter’s Bat Mitzvah,” Rabbi Adam Fisher’s darkly comic
profanity-filled monologue in the tradition of Sholem Aleichem, the
writer best known as the source material for Fiddler on the Roof (minus the profanity, that is). “Flowers of Shanghai,” S.J. Rozan’s compelling tale of hope and
despair set in the European refugee community of Japanese-occupied
Shanghai during World War II. “Yahrzeit Candle,” Stephen Jay Schwartz’s take on the subtle horrors of the inevitable passing of time.
Such sad news. Mystery author Joyce Lavene, wife of Jim Lavene, passed away today. Joyce & Jim wrote so many series together: Pumpkin Patch Mysteries; Purple Door Detective Agency, Taxi for the Dead Paranomal Mysteries, Retired Witches Mysteries, Missing Pieces Mysteries, Renaissance Faire Mysteries, Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries, Sharyn Howard Mysteries. Writing as J.J. Cook they wrote the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries and Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries...and the list goes on. They have written more than 60 novels.
Joyce and Jim were married for 44 years. My heart and sympathy goes out to Jim, family, and friends at this very sad time.
Erin Mitchell, friend and advocate of the crime fiction community, has
been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. In other words, her heart is
just too big and too fragile. She's self-insured and the cost of her
care is mounting quickly. Funds donated here will offset her bills at
Brigham & Women's Hospital, and help pay for her to get insurance
coverage. Join us to make sure she gets the best care possible, and keep
her on our side for years to come.
I want these Edgar Allan Poe-Ka Dot socks. Not only do they have a cute pattern, but for each purchase of a pair, the company Out of Print will send a book to a community in need. This is a no-brainer for me. Edgar Allan Poe-Ka Dot print also comes on a tote and pouch.
Today I welcome Nancy Herriman. A resident of Ohio, Nancy Herriman left a career in Engineering to take
up the pen. She is seriously addicted to all things historical as well
as dark chocolate and good food, not necessarily in that order. No
Comfort for the Lost (NAL/Obsidian) was chosen as Library Journal’s
August Pick of the Month. Find more at
Nancy Herriman: A Short History of the Role of the Coroner
When I began work on my mystery series, which takes place in San Francisco and opens during the year 1867, I decided to include a coroner as one of the characters. It seemed necessary as well as fun; I admit I enjoy the gritty details of sleuthing. My two protagonists—Celia Davies, a nurse operating a women’s clinic, and Nicholas Greaves, a city police detective—work with the coroner as they attempt to find who killed one of Celia’s patients, a young Chinese woman whose body has been found in the bay. When he concludes that the girl did not drown, but was killed by a blow to the head before being tossed into the water, Nick and Celia obtain a vital clue that will lead them to the identity of the murderer.
But when did the role of ‘coroner’ begin and what were they meant to do? Those who’ve researched the origin of the position believe it started during the 12th century at the latest, but the precise timing is lost to history. What is known is that the position became official in England in 1194.
Historians claim that the name originates from their post as Officers of the Crown, and you will sometimes find them referred to as ‘crowners’ as a result. Primarily elected (although occasionally appointed), they had to be men of good standing and own sufficient land or possessions in the county they resided in and would serve. The job was meant to be held for life and was an unpaid position up to the time of the Tudors. Their duties, as initially conceived, could be summarized as follows: examine the body in sudden or suspicious deaths (the coroner was the only person allowed to do so), including suicides; perform the inquest, summoning a jury to gather information on the victim and assign a cause of death; identify the primary suspect, if the death was deemed to have been murder, and put forth an indictment for that person; and—most importantly, according to some historians—to assess the value of goods (chattel) owned by the suspect, confiscate and sell them once the felon was convicted, and send the monies to the king. One last round of taxes.
It was this system that arrived in the United States with English settlers in the 1600s, a key difference being that the position was of limited duration, usually only a few years. But nowhere was there a requirement that a coroner be a medical person or have any understanding of forensic medicine, even in the most primitive form. Given the taboos and restrictions against autopsies, and the consequent dim understanding of the interior workings of the human body, it’s unlikely that, even if they had been a physician, their knowledge would’ve been sufficiently thorough.
As it was, most coroner examinations consisted of little more than looking at the body. They might not even touch it! In the 1800s, as poisons became a more popular method of committing murder, the serious flaw in this situation was revealed—if the man responsible for examining the body had no clue how to tell a death caused by illness from a death caused by poison, how many murderers were getting away with their crimes?
The world of forensic medicine was undergoing a rapid change, however, as laws restricting autopsies for research purposes began to be rolled back. Although there had been a smattering of forensic medicine treatises published in Europe prior to this time, by the mid-1800s, an increasing number of books teaching post-mortem techniques were being being published. They covered topics such as how to establish time and cause of death, identifying infanticide, and featured lengthy sections on recognizing the effects of poisons. Furthermore, starting in 1860 in the United States, requirements arose requiring the participation of a physician in death investigations. In addition, the position of medical examiner, intended to be held by a doctor, was first established in Massachusetts in 1877. To this day, however, most states that utilize coroners do not require the person holding the office to have a medical degree.
During the time my book, No Comfort for the Lost, is set, San Francisco’s coroner happened to be a local physician, Dr. Stephen Harris. As a matter of fact, all of the coroners in the city since 1857 have been trained physicians. The job then came with a salary of $2500 per year, plus compensation for each inquest performed and for any chemical analysis conducted during an investigation, and an office. It did not, however, come with a morgue. Dr. Harris was forced to utilize space in the building of a local undertaker, Atkins Massey, who was so proud of hosting the coroner that he included the fact in the advertisement he placed in the City Directory. This situation would be resolved in 1868, when the legislature finally took up a bill to establish a morgue (a ‘death house’) in San Francisco. Sadly for Mr. Massey, perhaps.
As to whether or not Dr. Harris was actually good at his job, I haven’t been able to discern. However, in my books he is a competent assistant to the work Detective Greaves has to do, utilizing the latest in forensic medical knowledge. What he might have been able to uncover was limited, compared to what is possible these days—estimation of the date of death was rough, but naming the cause of death and the type of weapon used was reasonably possible. Linking the crime to the perpetrator, though, still relied upon asking questions and hoping for witnesses. Detailed collection and analysis of crime-scene data, a la CSI, was still decades in the future.
Just two of the resources used:
Gross, Charles. Select Cases from the Coroners' Rolls, A. D. 1265-1413: With a Brief Account of the History of the Office of Coroner. London: Quaritch, 1895.
Rao, Dinesh. “History of Medicolegal System”. Forensicpathologyonline. Dr. Dinesh Rao’s Forensic Pathology, 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.
So I was skimming the local real estate ads this morning and came across a home for sale listed as 'The Anthony Boucher House' Really? How many people in the market for a home in Berkeley at this price remember Anthony Boucher aka Tony White? Well, mystery folks, science fiction people, for sure. I'd been there several times in the past to pick up Phyllis White, his widow, to take her to meetings, and then again for Phyllis's memorial. I never met Tony. The house is located on a quiet street in South Berkeley, but just off Telegraph Avenue. Not a particularly tony neighborhood, but walking distance to campus. This has its pluses and a lot of minuses. So I went to the Internet to find out more about the house. Oh, did I mention that it's selling for $1,5000,000. The last time I was there, I did some washing up in the kitchen. Clearly the kitchen has been remodeled since then, and the garden looks charming.... but $1,500,000. Really? I'm sure they'll get it, home prices being what they are in the Bay Area. I just found it amusing that the realtors are marketing the property as The Anthony Bouchercon House! Ah...memories...
2643 Dana Street, Berkeley: The Anthony Boucher House: $1,500,000
Four bedrooms two baths with a bonus space (workshop/exercise room?) and half bath
From the Family to the Next Owner:
I love the traditional layout, large rooms and generous backyard, as well as the fact that our family has so much history here.
We’ve enjoyed many holidays and memorable
family events in this home. I especially love that my daughter is being
raised in the same home my Dad and Uncle grew up in and I lived in
while I attended UC Berkeley.
I also love that everything is nearby,
from the dentist to the grocery store and the park. The neighborhood
boasts a wide variety of dining options, ranging from cheap ethnic
“student eats” to lovely bistros and coffeehouses, as well as convenient
UC Berkeley, Downtown Berkeley and Elmwood shops, restaurants and theaters are all about a mile away.The bus line is just a block away.
A family history at 2643 Dana Street, Berkeley, CA
Four generations of my family have lived
in this home since 1947; my husband and I have lived here since 2002.
My grandparents were the original owners and my Dad and uncle lived here
through college at UC Berkeley. My grandmother lived here until her
passing in 2000. Her husband was William A.P. White, who worked under
the pen name Anthony Boucher, was an accomplished author, book and
magazine editor and critic, active from the 1940s to his death in 1968.
A.P., or “Tony” to his friends, was
influential as a mystery book editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and
New York Times. He was also an author, founder of the Magazine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction and co-writer of hundreds of scripts for
radio shows in the 1940s, including Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone
and Nigel Bruce. He wrote almost everything he ever produced here in
this house, using the master bedroom as his “study.” He also hosted
regular writers’ workshops in the living room, with notable mystery and
science fiction authors.
He was most beloved as an editor because
he took the time to mentor writers and was seminal in attempting to make
literary quality an important aspect of science fiction and mystery
writing. So much so, in fact, there is an annual convention of creators
and devotees of mystery and detective fiction named in his honor.
Called the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention or
“Bouchercon”, the event is held annually every fall.
My love for this house stretches back to
my childhood; I’ve always loved the look and feel of it. When my
grandmother passed away, my husband and I took on the challenge of
updating it so we could live here and keep the house in the family. We
have raised our daughter here, hosted numerous family gatherings and
celebrated many milestones. We hate to leave this beautiful house but
find it necessary as my husband’s career pulls us to Hawaii.
This is a wonderful neighborhood to raise
a family in, with great schools, lovely parks and every possible
amenity nearby. Hopefully, the new family will love how walkable this
area is, with great neighborhoods, restaurants and shops in every
Built in 1941, the house itself is well
built and has been lovingly updated from top to bottom. Please see list
of improvements for a full description of what’s been done to the home
and property. This is an ideal place for entertaining with a generous
backyard and lots of living space. We have loved every minute in this
house and hope the new owners will too.
The Berkeley Historical Plaque Project will be placing a plaque on the home.
Helen Anne Simpson, former owner and proprietor of Big Sleep Books in St. Louis, MO, passed away peacefully on October 16. She was 83. Helen was born and resided her entire life in St. Louis, MO. She is survived by her five children, Katherine (Clay) Bastian, Mary Caroline (Ray Hearn, deceased), Thomas, Edward (Rhonda), and Margaret (Leanne Demmel), and six grandchildren (Brittany and Lucille Simpson, Peter and Meredith Bastian, Cole and Jack Simpson).
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to The Foundation for Barnes Jewish Hospital (specify: Neurology, Stroke Research) or St Louis Habitat for Humanity.
Join Mystery Readers NorCal on Monday, October 26, at 7 p.m. in Berkeley for a Literary Salon with Craig Robertson & Alexandra Sokoloff. Comment below to RSVP & directions.
During noir author Craig Robertson's 20-year career with a
Scottish Sunday newspaper, he interviewed three recent
Prime Ministers; attended major stories including 9/11, Dunblane, the
Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann; been pilloried
on breakfast television, beaten Oprah Winfrey to a major scoop, been
among the first to interview Susan Boyle, spent time on Death Row in the
USA and dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India. Craig Robertson has written four novels set on the mean streets of Glasgow and one on the not-so-mean streets of Torshavn in the Faroe Islands.
His debut novel, RANDOM, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger and was a Sunday Times bestseller. COLD GRAVE reached #2 on Kindle.
Alexandra Sokoloff is the bestselling, Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker and
Anthony Award-nominated author of eleven supernatural, paranormal and
crime thrillers. The New York Times has called her "a daughter of Mary Shelley" and her books "Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre." As a screenwriter she has sold original suspense and horror scripts and
written novel adaptations for numerous Hollywood studios (Sony, Fox,
Disney, Miramax), for producers such as Michael Bay, David Heyman, Laura
Ziskin and Neal Moritz. She is also the workshop leader of the internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshops, based on her Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks and blog.
Alex and Craig split their time between Los Angeles and Scotland.
Eric Wright, Canadian Crime Writer, died on October 9 at the age of 86. Eric Wright was born in England but immigrated to Canada as a
young man and settled in Toronto. For a number of years he taught
English literature, and he wrote for television and magazines.
Eric Wright is known for his Inspector Charlie Salter detective novels. The first, The Night the Gods Smiled, won the John Creasey Award, the
Arthur Ellis Award, and the City of Toronto Book
Award. His third Charlie Salter Novel, Death in the Old Country, won the Arthur Ellis Award. The Joe Barley Mystery The Kidnapping of Rosie Dawn
also received the Arthur Ellis Award and the Barry Award and was nominated for an Edgar. In 1998, Eric received the Derrick Murdoch Award for lifetime contributions to Canadian crime writing. He was a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.
Besides the Inspector Charlie Salter Mystery series, Wright wrote the Lucy Trimble Brenner Mysteries,
the Mel Pickett Mysteries, and the Joe Barley Mysteries. His memoir Always Give a Penny to a Blind Man which covers most of Eric’s
life from when he was a child growing up poor in working-class London
through his immigration to Canada and the beginning of his attendance at
University, was nominated for a Charles-Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction. He also wrote two stand-alone novels, Moodie’s
Tale and Finding Home, the novella “Dempsey’s Lodge”, and a short story
Debbi Mack is the New York Times ebook bestselling author of the Sam
McRae mystery series. She’s also published one young adult novel,
Invisible Me, and Five Uneasy Pieces, a short story collection that
includes her Derringer Award–nominated story “The Right to Remain
Silent.” Her short stories have appeared in various other anthologies
and publications. Her most recently published short story is “Jasmine”,
appearing in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. Debbi is also a
screenwriter and aspiring indie filmmaker. A former attorney, Debbi has
also worked as a journalist, librarian, and freelance writer/researcher.
She enjoys walking, cats, travel, movies, music, and espresso.
Debbi Mack: The Crime Cafe: Why I Started a Podcast
Thanks, Janet, for the opportunity to post on your blog!
When Janet asked me if I’d like to write about The Crime Cafe, my new podcast, it forced me to think about why I’d decided to undertake such a project. I think it comes down to the idea that there are loads of great crime, suspense, and thriller authors, but not all of them are equally well known.
Many a time, I’ve talked to readers about my mystery series, and they ask me questions like these:
“Who are your favorite authors?”
“What kind of stories do you write?”
“Are your books anything like those of [insert famous author’s name here]?”
These questions are all posed for the same reason. To get a sense of how my writing compares to that of authors they know and probably like.
I recently had a conversation with a woman who enjoys mysteries. And when I mentioned Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, she knew their work. I love when that happens, because strangely enough, not all readers know their names.
This really does happen. There are actual book-loving readers who don’t know these authors. Despite the fact that they are occupying the stratosphere (as it were) of the publishing world.
In any case, when the woman asked what other crime fiction authors I’d recommend, it was difficult to reign it back to a manageable list. I could have spent a whole hour or two talking about the many great authors in the genre that I’ve enjoyed.
The truth is that well-known authors like John Grisham, Stephen King, and Lee Child are all great. As are Robert Crais, Walter Mosley, Sara Paretsky, and Sue Grafton.
But for every name on that list, I can give you plenty more crime writers who are also exemplary. They just aren’t as well known.
What I’ve seen over the course of my novel writing career are two significant phenomena: the meteoric rise of self-publishing and the fast-changing world of social media.
As a result, it’s become even harder for authors to gain recognition. However, the answer isn’t to compete with one another.
Way back when, I asked the late Jeremiah Healy to write an endorsement for my first novel. And he agreed to do so, on one condition. That when I was in a position to help other new or aspiring authors, I would lend assistance. I had no problem agreeing to that. The way I see it, other authors are my peers, not my competitors. There are plenty of readers to go around.
This is why I started The Crime Cafe. The whole point is to tell as many people as possible about the great crime, suspense, and thriller authors that win awards, get great reviews, and are held in high regard within the genre, yet manage to slip under the public’s radar. My thought was, “What better way to do this than with a podcast? Perhaps it will reach a few ears and help bring these authors to the fore.”
At the same time, I truly enjoy doing the podcasts. Every time I talk to a new author on The Crime Cafe, it’s like I’ve made a new friend. I learn so much from listening to their stories, and I try to keep the conversation from getting too pedantic or predictable.
I hope you’ll tune in to The Crime Cafe sometime soon. It’s a fun way to spend 20 minutes or so. And you’ll hear the real lowdown from some of the crime genre’s best authors.
You can find The Crime Cafe on iTunes and Google Play. You can also find it on my website, in audio and video form. That page also features my online store, where I carry Crime Cafe merchandise, bearing the distinctive logo. Not to mention the “buy button” for the joint story package comprised of work from all the authors I interview.