Thursday, February 26, 2009

Agatha Awards announced

Malice Domestic has announced the nominees for the 2009 Agatha Awards (for traditional mysteries). Winners will be chosen by attendees at the Malice Domestic 21 convention (May 1-3), and will be announced Saturday, May 2. Click here for more information.

Best Novel
Six Geese A-Slaying, by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
A Royal Pain, by Rhys Bowen (Penguin Group)
The Cruelest Month, by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Buckingham Palace Gardens, by Anne Perry (Random House)
I Shall Not Want, by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur Books)

Best First Novel
Through a Glass, Deadly, by Sarah Atwell (Berkley Trade)
The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, by Krista Davis (Penguin Group)
Pushing Up Daisies, by Rosemary Harris (Minotaur Books)
Death of a Cozy Writer, by G.M. Malliet (Midnight Ink)
Paper, Scissors, Death, by Joanna Campbell Slan (Midnight Ink)

Best Non-fiction
African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study, by Frankie Y. Bailey (McFarland & Co.)
How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, by Kathy Lynn Emerson (Perseverance Press)
Anthony Boucher, A Bibliography, by Jeff Marks (McFarland & Co.)
Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories, by Dr. Harry Lee Poe (Metro Books)
The Suspicions of Mr. Whitcher, by Kate Summerscale (Walker)

Best Short Story
“The Night Things Changed,” by Dana Cameron (from Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner; Ace)
“Killing Time,” by Jane Cleland (Alfred Hitchock Mystery Magazine, November 2008)
“Dangerous Crossin,” by Carla Coupe (from Chesapeake Crimes 3, edited by Donna Andrews and Marcia Talley; Wildside Press)
“Skull and Cross Examination,” by Toni L.P. Kelner (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], February 2008)
“A Nice Old Guy,” by Nancy Pickard (EQMM, August 2008)

Best Children’s/Young Adult
Into the Dark, by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins)
A Thief in the Theater, by Sarah Masters Buckey (American Girl)
The Crossroads, by Chris Grabenstein (Random House
Children’s Books)
The Great Circus Train Robbery, by Nancy Means Wright
(Hilliard and Harris)

Congratulations to all the Nominees!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday Mysteries

Yes, Ash Wednesday follows Mardi Gras, so no surprise that I have another list! I've taken a bit more leeway on these titles. Comments welcome.

Ash Wednesday by Ralph McInerny
Playing for the Ashes by Elizabeth George
The Apostate’s Tale by Margaret Frazer
Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood
Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Guilt by John Lescroart

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras Mysteries

Today is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. How could I not do a list? Mardi Gras/Carnivale, whatever you call it, it's the perfect time and place for Murder!

The Big Uneasy-Terror Strikes Mardi Gras by Murray C. Fincher
The Mardi Gras Murders by Bristow C. Manning
The Mardi Gras Murders by Ricardo S. Dubois
No Mardi Gras for the Dead by John Donaldson
Mardi Gras Mamo by Greg Herren
Mardi Gras Murders: A Novel by Phillip Scott
Death Visits Mardi Gras by J.J. Boortz
Mardi Gras Eyes by Phyllis Morris
The Mardi Gras Mystery by Carolyn Keene
Murder Comes to Mardi Gras by Laura Childs
Carnaval Capers by Jody Ford
Venetian Mask by Mickey Friedman
A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly
Mardi Gras Madness: Tales of Terror and Mayhem in New Orleans Edited by Russell Davis and Martin Harry Greenberg

Monday, February 23, 2009

Murder at the Academy Awards

Just a tip of the hat to last night's Academy Awards, the perfect place for Murder.

Murder at the Academy Awards by Joan Rivers and Jerilyn Farmer
Oscar Season by Mary McNamara
Murder at the Academy Awards by Joe Hyams
Best Murder on the Year by Jon P. Bloch
Best Actress by John Kane

Jack Webb, R.I.P.

The Rap Sheet brings us news today via Bill Crider's Pop Culture Blog that novelist John Alfred “Jack” Webb (not the same Jack Webb who brought us Dragnet) has died at age 92. January 13, 1916 - February 12, 2008. He also wrote as John Farr. During the 1950s and ’60s, Webb wrote mysteries featuring the crime-solving pair of Father Joseph Shanley and Sammy Golden. Father Shanley was a Catholic priest in Southern California. Golden was a Jewish detective-sergeant working with what was apparently the Los Angeles Police Department’s Homicide Division. Among Webb’s titles: The Big Sin (1952), The Damned Lovely (1954), The Brass Halo (1957), and One for My Dame (1961). Jim Doherty wrote an article on Jack Webb for one of the early issues of Religious Mysteries of Mystery Readers Journal.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Laurie R. King: Fifteen Weeks of Bees

Laurie R. King alerted me (and her many fans) that it's been 15 years since The Beekeeper's Apprentice was published. This April, The Language of Bees will come out, the ninth in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. To celebrate the pair of bee-books, she's declaring it: Fifteen Weeks of Bees that started on February 1 and will end on May 22, 2009: the 150th birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

The Laurie R. King web site will coordinate a wide range of special events, including:
• Free downloads of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice from Picador Press
• A cooperative fundraiser with Heifer International ( to benefit
Heifer’s international beehive project
• Weekly posts from 109 year-old Mary Russell on her MySpace blog
• A limited-edition broadside—short story and woodcut—with Lavendier Press
• Special events for book groups and libraries: discussion packets, video chats,
and library-only contests, in celebration of National Library Week in April
• Laurie’s reflections on writing The Language of Bees in her blog, Mutterings
• A blog tour—guest blogs by Laurie on a variety of Bees-related topics
• A new Mary Russell Language of Bees t-shirt
• Weekly contests and drawings including Youtube, Goodreads, Facebook, fan
fiction projects, and contributions to Laurie’s next Russell and Holmes novel
• Mary Russell—Twittering!
• Related discussions on Laurie’s Virtual Book Club
• Library events with Les Klinger (The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes) on
Arthur Conan Doyle
• And finally, an exciting new project called “Russellscape,” on
the Laurie R. King website.

Have a look at everything, and BEE Smart. Read Laurie R. King's mysteries!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nora Roberts opens a Romantic Inn

Thanks to The Rap Sheet for news on Nora Roberts new Literary-Lovers Inn.
Nora Roberts, best selling romance and suspense author, has opened the Inn BoonsBoro. She has named the rooms of her hotel after married detectives. Roberts says of the Nick and Nora room, "It's a comfortable room that blends sleek art deco and fussy Hollywood glamour," she says, "which strikes me as very Nick and Nora Charles." The room's smoky walls, chocolate ceiling, crystal light fixtures and mirrored night stands, she says, would ensure "they'd be very comfortable and happy here."

The Charleses are one of seven fictional couples who inspired the Inn's decor and romantic atmosphere. Read more. There's also a video of the Inn on the site. Roberts's husband owns the nearby Tattered Cover Bookshop, one room of which is devoted to Roberts' novels. Can't imagine they all fit in one room!

When I was in Ann Arbor a few years ago for a mystery symposium, I stayed at a small B&B that had different rooms dedicated to different mystery genre. I stayed in the Mystery Room, of course.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Charles Darwin 200 years

I was so involved with Lincoln's birthday and Valentine's Day this year on both of my Blogs (Mystery Fanfare and Dying for Chocolate) that I completely forgot to comment on the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. Luckily, BV Lawson has a great post "The Evolution of a Mystery" on her Blog "In Reference to Murder." Lawson highlights the date with a great list of scientists in mysteries with protagonists who are naturalists, zoologists, biologists, botanists or geologists. More to add to the TBR shelf!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Mysteries

Here's another holiday mystery list for one of my favorite holidays, Valentine's Day. Enjoy! Eat lots of chocolate!

Valentine's Day Mysteries

Love Lies Bleeding by Susan Wittig Albert
The Broken Hearts Club by Ethan Black
Claws and Effect by Rita Mae Brown
How To Murder The Man Of Your Dreams by Dorothy Cannell
Red Roses for a Dead Trucker by Anna Ashwood Collins
A Catered Valentine's Day by Isis Crawford
Hard Feelings by Barbara D’Amato
A Catered Valentine’s Day by Diane Mott Davidson
Love With The Proper Killer by Rose Deshaw
The Saint Valentine's Day Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich
Happy Valentine’s Day by Michelle Fitzpatrick
The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming
St. Valentine's Night by Andrew M. Greeley
Caveman's Valentine by George Dawes Green
Bleeding Hearts by Jane Haddam
The Valentine's Day Murder by Lee Harris
Deadly Valentine by Carolyn G. Hart
Sugar and Spite by G.A. McKevett
The Valentine Victim by Dougal McLeish
Valentine Murder by Leslie Meier
Love You to Death by Grant Michaels
Cat Playing Cupid by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
The Body in the Attic by Katherine Hall Page
A Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell
Valentine by Tom Savage
Murder of a Pink Elephant by Denise Swanson
Daughter Of The Stars by Phyllis A. Whitney

Short Stories
Crimes of Passion with stories by Nancy Means, B.J. Daniels, Jonathan Harrington and Maggie Right Price
My Heart Cries Out for You by Bill Crider
Valentine's Day Is Killing Me edited by Leslie Esdaile, Mary Janice Davidson, Susanna Carr
Crimes of the Heart edited by Carolyn G. Hart
Valentine’s Day: Women Against Men-Stories of Revenge edited by Alice Thomas Editor

Still have time to spare, take a look at my Chocolate Blog, Dying for Chocolate, for recipes, chocolate news and more. Chocolate is the gift of choice on Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Leighton Gage in Berkeley

Join Mystery Readers International for an At Home in Berkeley for Leighton Gage, author of the Inspector Mario Silva Series crime novels based in Brazil. Gage is the author of Buried Strangers and Blood of the Wicked. Dying Gasp, the third book in the series will be published in January 2010. Read the interview conducted by Guy Savage on MostlyFiction.

When: February 18, 2009, 7 p.m.

Where: Janet Rudolph's home, Berkeley, CA

RSVP for directions

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lisa Lutz and Ona Russell Mystery Readers At Home

Last night several dedicated mystery readers weathered the storm (o.k., it was rain and hail, not snow, but this was California), to meet with two terrific mystery authors Ona Russell and Lisa Lutz. Ona regaled us with her personal history, as well as her interest in historical research. Edgar award nominated Lisa Lutz talked about humor, booksignings, and more personal reactions to fame and glory. The set up at Mystery Readers International At Homes consists of short intros by the authors followed by questions and dialogue. Ona Russell and Lisa Lutz had not met before, but they were soon engaged in dialogue over the book publishing business, why they write, reactions to their work, book signings and independent mystery stores.

Russell sets her history mysteries against different historical 'dilemmas' in 1920s America. The first in the series, O'Brien's desk, is set in Toledo, OH, and deals with corruption, sexual promiscuity and bigotry vs. the high ideals of Progressive reformers. The germ for this story was when Russell found a scrapbook of news stories and letters that her husband's mother had kept on her father. Judge O'Brien O'Donnell was caught between these two forces. The second in the series, The Natural Selection, involves the Scopes "monkey" trial. One point that Russell stressed at the At Home is how fiction can bring history alive. She certainly does that in her books. Her next book will be set in Los Angeles and deal with the stock market, and we all know how that ended up. The historical dilemmas she chose seem to mirror the contemporary period.

Lisa Lutz' books are not written in the traditional mystery genre mold--no dead body on the first page. They are more concerned with the people who try to solve mysteries. The Spellmans are a dysfunctional family of private investigators. The Spellman Files, The Curse of the Spellmans, and the new one coming next month, Revenge of the Spellmans, are filled with humor, as this family interacts with each other, as well as clients and crooks. At 28, Isabel Spellman, the protagonist, has not quite grown up, and her life has been filled with "romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism." Lutz reiterated that the books are not autobiographical despite the fact that her mother asks that question at every booksigning she attends. Lutz's books are filled with laugh out loud lines and situations. Humor is such a difficult thing to write. It can't be forced. It has to come from the characters and their circumstances. Lutz succeeds in transferring her humor to the printed page, no mean feat. A tip of the hat to the Edgar committee for including a humorous mystery among their nominees. After a long stint at screenwriting (read Lutz's Confessions of a Hollywood sellout on Salon) and several other odd jobs (we all know screenwriting is odd but so were some of the others), she's found her true calling, for now, as a novelist. The fact that they're mysteries is a bonus for readers. The Curse of the Spellmans, originally written as a screenplay, has been optioned, and luckily, for her, she isn't working on the script. She's delighted with the people who are, and more power to them. Lutz told us there will be four Spellman books. After that? Well, we'll see. A new series? A totally different type of book? Whatever she decides, I'm sure it will be unique! Lutz's booktour.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abraham Lincoln, Mystery Writer

Abraham Lincoln's birthday is February 12, and even though we no longer celebrate his birth as an independent holiday, I thought I'd say a few words in today's Blog about him. Honest Abe is well known for many things, but for Mystery Fanfare, most important is the fact that Abraham Lincoln wrote a mystery. Lincoln was a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, and Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" was first published around the time that Lincoln was defending the Trailor Brothers in 1841. He based his story "The Trailor Murder Mystery" on this case. It wasn't uncommon then for lawyers to write true crime articles which were popular with the public--and not considered a breach of etiquette. What is unusual is that Lincoln chose to write fiction based on this case. "A Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder" (the original title) first appeared on the front page of the Quincy Whig on April 15, 1846 and was described, as "A murder mystery by Abraham Lincoln." The story was reprinted as "The Trailor Murder Mystery" in 1952 in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Read the story.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lisa Lutz, Ona Russell, Gillian Roberts (Judy Greber)

Just a reminder that there will be Three At Homes, intimate literary salons, in Berkeley, CA this month.

February 11: 7 p.m. Lisa Lutz, Gillian Roberts (Judy Greber), and Ona Russell.

February 18: 7 p.m. Leighton Gage

February 26: 3 p.m. Peter Robinson

Where? My house in Berkeley. RSVP for Directions.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Reservoir Noir! Drowned Towns in Mysteries

I'm sitting here on a rainy day in Northern California thinking about drowned towns. We're entering a third year of drought, and even though it's raining now, I don't think it will make up for the deficit of so many dry years. A few years ago a reservoir nearby was so low that a small airplane was seen above the waterline. It turned out to be a small aircraft containing the pilot that had disappeared many years ago. Most of the Drowned Towns I've read about in mysteries were from intentional flooding or damming.

I’m fascinated by the number of mysteries that concern Drowned Towns. I knew about the Peter Robinson’s In a Dry Season and Reginald Hill’s On Beulah Height because I read them both fairly close together. Being a list maker I was thrilled to find the site Library Book Lists. The Listmaker at Book Lists defines the list as "Mysteries and other fiction with a featured element of intentional submerging, inundating, and flooding of towns, villages, cities, and other places as a consequence of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood management, and job creation. "

The list is entitled Reservoir Noir, the term from Peter Robinson. Below are the titles, but click on Reservoir Noir for dates and synopses. As always, I welcome additional titles.

Drowning Day by Alan Dipper
Valley of the Deer by Eileen Dunlop (YA)
Christening Day Murder by Lee Harris
On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill
The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason
Walking the Shadows by Donald James
The Taking by James D. Landis
Emily Dickinson is Dead by Jane Langton
A Likeness in Stone by Julia Wallis Martin
Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb
The Dead of Summer by Michael Miano
One Foot in Eden: A Novel by Ron Rash
The Devil Went Down to Austin by Rick Riordan
In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson
Dragon Bones by Lisa See
Broken Jigsaw by Paul Somers
Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Drowned Hopes by Donald Westlake
Rahpsody in Blood by John Morgan Wilson
Under the Lake by Stuart Woods

You'll find Other Drowned Town Fiction on Library Book Lists, as well as Non-Fiction about Drowned Towns and a list of Real Drowned Towns.

Don't think I'll do an issue of Mystery Readers Journal on Drowned Towns, but it's a great theme!

MYSTERY: PBS announces new line-up

2009 Season of MASTERPIECE Mystery!

I always look forward to the new Mystery! series on PBS (U.S.), and this year brings an exciting new series.

Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh: May 10, 17, 31, is a
Kenneth Branagh stars as complex detective Kurt Wallander, based on the books by best-selling Swedish author Henning Mankell. Branagh, a longtime fan of the novels, is a co-producing partner of the adaptations filmed in rarely seen locations in southern Sweden.
Euro Crime has a BBC interview of Kenneth Branagh and Henning Mankell about the series. For a review of the series, check out Material Witness. For a review of Who is Kurt Wallander? BBC4 Documentary, go to: It's a Crime (Or a Mystery...)

Six by Christie
Poirot: (2 episodes): June 21 and 28
Titles to come when they're finalized. This is especially exciting as David Suchet reprises his role as suave Hercule Poirot in two new episodes.
Suchet's varied roles have included financier Augustus Melmotte in Masterpiece's The Way We Live Now and Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII. He was recently seen in the feature film The Bank Job.

Miss Marple (4 episodes) July 5, 12, 19, and 26
One of Agatha Christie's signature characters returns to the schedule, with Julia McKenzie taking over the role of spinster sleuth Miss Marple in three new episodes. McKenzie is familiar to Masterpiece fans for her recent performance in Cranford as Mrs. Forrester, the sprightly widow devoted to her cow.

Inspector Lewis, Series II: September 6, 13, 20, and 27
Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately, The English Patient), sidekick to Inspector Morse, is back in four new episodes. Now well outside Morse's shadow, Lewis has a younger sidekick of his own, the ambitious Hathaway (Laurence Fox, Gosford Park)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hawaiian Mysteries

Right about now, you're thinking, "I'd rather be in Hawaii." Well, Left Coast Crime, one of the premiere mystery conventions, will be held on the Big Island, March 7-12, 2009 at the Marriott Waikoloa, and it's not too late to register. Airfares are low, and the hotel rates are great! Guests of Honor: Barry Eisler and Rhys Bowen. Toastmaster: Lee Goldberg, Ghost of Honor: Earl Derr Biggers. Here's a list of other authors and fans registered. This will be an unconventional convention with panels, interviews, Luau, a performance of House without a Key (adapted by Hal Glatzer), Desserts to Die for, Awards Brunch, trips and tours and so much more.

I always like to read mysteries set in the place I'm going to visit, so to get ready for this trip I've consulted the LCC website for a great list of mysteries set in Hawaii. For another list and "all things Hawaiian," go to Hawaian Eye: Mark Troy on Crime Fiction.

Say Aloha to Murder!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Mysteries

What a great game! Twists and turns throughout, supporting characters, good setting, action. Mystery Readers Journal's final issue in 2009 will focus on Sports Mysteries. In preparation for this issue, and with a salute to yesterday's Super Bowl, I went in search of Super Bowl Mysteries. Additions welcome.

Cover-Up: Mystery at the Super Bowl by John Feinstein (2007)
Reviewed by Lesa Holstine at Lesa's Book Critiques, January 22, 2008
Murder at the Super Bowl by Fran Tarkenton and Herb Resnicow (1988)

Any others?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Val McDermid in Bay Area

Val McDermid, mystery author par excellence, will be in the San Francisco Bay Area in February. If you haven't heard Val speak before and you're in the area, you'll want to put at least one of these dates on your calendar. Val's latest book is A Darker Domain (HarperCollins), and it's fabulous! This is McDermid's 25th mystery, and it's her most autobiographical to date. To hear Val talk about the book, go here.

Update: Val McDermid, was the guest Blogger on Off the Page, Oline Codgill's Blog, at the Sun Sentinal, January 31.

February 18, 2009: San Francisco, CA, Books Inc., Opera Plaza — 7:00 PM
601 Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94102
*Co-sponsored by the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library

February 19, 2009: San Mateo, CA, San Mateo Public Library, Belmont Branch, 7:00 PM
1110 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont, CA 94002
ADiscussion between Val McDermid and Laurie King
Books sold by M is for Mystery

February 20, 2009: Corte Madera, CA, Book Passage, 7:00 PM, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925