Thursday, April 30, 2009

May Mysteries: A List of Mysteries Set in May

"What potent blood hath modest May."- Ralph W. Emerson

I used to love May Day and the Maypole and Morris Dancing and all the other pagan rituals we practiced at school. The end of the month brought daisy chain making. Very idyllic time, May, but it can also be quite murderous, as the following books prove.

Five Days in May by Christopher Hartpence
30 Days in May by Wayne Hancock
The May Day Murders by Scott Wittenburg
A Hot Day in May by Julian Jay Savarin
May Day in Magadan by Anthony Olcott
May Day by Jess Lourey
China Bayles' Book of Days by Susan Wittig Albert * -not a mystery, but a book I enjoy, written by a mystery writer.

For over 30 years at dawn on May Day, Berkeley Morris Dancing takes place at Inspiration Point in Tilden Park. Dawn is 5:20, so get there earlier. Here's a link to other May Day Morris dancing in and around the Bay. Can't make it? Read my favorite Morris Dancer Mysteries: Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh

Glass Key 2009 Nominees

This seems to be Awards week. I'm eagerly awaiting the news of the Edgar winners (tonight), but in the meantime, I thought I'd post the nominees for the Glass Key 2009 that will be handed over to the winner at Nordic House in Reykjavik. The Glass Key has been awarded by the SKS/CWS since 1992.

The Glass-key ceremony will be part of the international conference The Nordic Crime Wave which will be integrated into the double AGMs of AIEP and SKS.

Denmark: The Danish crime academy awarded the Harald Morgensen Award for best Danish Crime/Suspense novel to Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis for Drengen i kufferten (The Boy in the Suitcase)
Finland: The Finnish Whodunnit Society, nominated Marko Kilpi for Jäätyneitä ruusuja, (Frozen Roses)
Iceland: The Icelandic Crime Syndicate presents Arnaldur Indridason for Haroskafi (Hypothermia). (this would be Arnaldur's Third Glass Key if he wins)*
Norway: This year's winner of Riverton-klubbens (The Riverton Club's) prize (Den Gyldne Revolver) is Vidar Sundstol for Drommenes Land (Land of Dreams)
Sweden: Svenska Deckarakademin (Swedish Crime Novel Academy) nominated Johan Theorin's Nattfak (Night Blizzard)

To read more about the nominees, plots and authors, go to SKS

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Janet LaPierre/Nadia Gordon May 6

Join Mystery Readers International NorCal East Bay chapter for an At Home, an intimate afternoon event with Janet LaPierre and Nadia Gordon, in Berkeley, CA, Wednesday, May 6, 2:30. RSVP. for directions.

Janet LaPierre, author of the Port Silva mysteries, has a new stand-alone, Run a Crooked Mile (Perseverance Press). The new mystery set in the inland mountainous area of Trinity County and the real town of Weaverville, CA, has a strong amateur sleuth and a host of fully drawn characters including Tank, a yellow lab. The mystery is fast-paced with lots of plot twists. LaPierre is the author Family Business, Death Duties, Keepers, Baby Mine, Old Enemies, The Cruel Mother and Children's Games,Grandmother's House, and Unquiet Grave, as well as short stories. She lives in Berkeley, CA.

Nadia Gordon is the author of the Sunny McCoskey Napa Valley mystery series, including Sharpshooter, Death by the Glass, Murder Alfresco, and, new this month, Lethal Vintage, all published by Chronicle Books. Gordon's culinary mystery novels have been called "jolly, high-calorie pleasure" by the Chicago Tribune, "highly enjoyable" by the Washington Post, and "rapturous" by the Los Angeles Times. Writing under her real name, Julianne Balmain, she is the author of numerous books on sex, travel, and generally having a good time, including the Kama Sutra Deck: 50 Ways to Love Your Lover. Her web TV telenovela, Acts of Love & Sex, can be seen at She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yrsa Sigurdardottir's Iceland-My Soul to Take

I've always been interested in Iceland having landed there on one of those cheap flights to Europe decades ago. We had a problem with the plane (Iceland was a touchdown point -my final destination was Italy), and I got to spend several hours and do a very tiny bit of touring. It wasn't enough. What a stark but beautiful landscape.

Later I read the gripping thrillers of award winning author Arnaldur Indridason. His terse writing and ingenious plotting has made him one of my favorites. I was lucky to have Arnaldur on my Around the World panel at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, this past year, and it was wonderful to see his personal humor during the panel. Inspector Erlendur, himself, is quite brooding.

I've also read Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir's novels. My Soul to Take is the latest in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. This time Thora takes on a hotelier on the West Coast of Iceland as a client. Yrsa Sigurdardottir really conveys her country and its unique culture and stark landscape in her books. I haven't read this latest in the series, but I'm moving it to the top of my TBR.

I was so glad to get an email today from HarperCollins with a link to a terrific video in which Yrsa tours her native Iceland and introduces My Soul to Take. The scenery is breathtaking. Yrsa should market this to the Icelandic tourist bureau.

Yrsa wrote an article entitled " A Depressing Lack of Crime" for the Scandinavian issue of Mystery Readers Journal in 2007. The article isn't available on the web, but the issue is. If you're interested in Scandinavia, you'll want to get a copy. No pressure. The motto of Mystery Readers Journal is "enriching the lives of mystery readers."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Royal Woody Typewriter

O.K. this is for serious sentimental noir writers. Oxymoron? The Book Oven blog today features The Royal Woody. Isn't this beautiful? Don't you want one? I do.

The Royal Typewriter Company was founded in 1904 by E.B Hess in Hartford, CT. The company is now owned by Olivetti, but it still markets Royal, Adler-Royal and Olivetti machines, as well as things like PDAs. Weird. Website.

The Virtual Typewriter Museum writes that being a dominant brand in the early 20th century, "The Royal is not the most exciting machine in the world. But it wasn't intended to be exciting or revolutionary. The Royal was intended to be a sturdy work horse." My mother still had her Royal typewriter, and I used it when I was growing up. Yes, Virginia, there was a machine before computers that writers actually typed manuscripts on. Mistakes took longer to correct.

Anyway, my mother's typewriter was not a Royal Woody. The Royal Woody was circa 1932. Isn't it stunning?

Top 10 Irish Mysteries

Brian McGilloway chose his top 10 modern Irish crime novels for the Guardian last week. I meant to post it when I saw it, but I was reminded of this list again when perusing Detectives Without Borders, one of my favorite blogs.

Brian McGilloway is the author of the Inspector Devlin series. His first novel, Borderlands, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger. It was followed by Gallows Lane and Bleed a River Deep. Brian had an article in the Irish issue of Mystery Readers Journal entitled "Patrolling the Border."

Here are the top 10, but be sure to go to the original site for insights and more.
1. The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes
2. The Guards by Ken Bruen
3. Mystery Man by Bateman
4. Darkhouse by Alex Barclay
5. The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan
6. The Big O by Declan Burke
7. Dad I Well May Be by Adrian McKinty
8. Undertow by Arlene Hunt
9. The Anglo-Irish Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards
10. In the Woods by Tana French

Glad to see there are a few I haven't read on the list. Always like to 'improve' my TBR.

Mystery Readers Journal had a great issue on Irish Mysteries last year. Here's a link to the table of contents. Many Author! Author! essays by your favorite Irish writers. Not all articles are online, but the issue is still available.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

L..A. Times Book Awards

"In a scaled-down awards ceremony on the fifth floor of the L.A. Times building, the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were awarded last night with as much enthusiasm and humor as any of the more grandly produced affairs of recent years.

Leading for humor was Terry Pratchett, who accepted his prize for young adult novel by video. The tape showed Pratchett leaning back in a chair, books to one side and a stiff, somewhat cranky cat on the other." Read the rest of this article and all the winners and nominees here.

Michael Koryta was the winner of the mystery/thriller prize for Envy the Night. He said he'd been nervous about the possibility of having to speak before the crowd, but as he arrived he "had the opportunity to meet a lifetime hero, James Ellroy -- and now you all don't seem so scary."

Read the Michael Koryta interview at Mystery Readers International At Home Online.

Mystery/Thriller nominees:
Colin Harrison, The Finder
Simon Lewis, Bad Traffic: An Inspector Jian Novel
Nina Revoyr, The Age of Dreaming
Tom Rob Smith, Child 44

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Mystery Picks

Friday Picks: Something for Everyone.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Delacorte). A CWA debut dagger winner, this book captured my heart. You'll be transported back to childhood and a time when things seemed safe, but don't be fooled, this is a very dark novel. The mystery is first rate, as is Bradley's turn of phrase. The novel begins in the summer of 1950 in the sleepy village of Bishop's Lacy. Flavia de Luce, the 11 year old heroine/detective with a penchant for poisons is a welcome addition to the world of mysteries. This book has it all: a country house, stamps, poison, terrific pacing, brilliant quirky characters, dark atmosphere, humor, and lots of twists and turns. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is wickedly brilliant. It's the first of the Buckshaw Chronicles, and I can hardly wait for the next.

Ravens (Grand Central Publishing) by George Dawes Green. After a wait of 14 years, Edgar Award winner George Dawes Green, has produced another excellent psychological thriller. Green is the author of the award winning Cave Man's Valentine and The Juror (both made into films), and I believe this is a real contender for another film. Friends Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko pull up at a convenience store off I-95 in Georgia to fix a leaky tire on their way to Florida where they're going to get away from their dull Ohio tech-support jobs. At the service station, Shaw learns that a local family has won $318,000,000 in the state lottery. He then beings a ferocious scheme to squeeze the family for half of their prize money. Shaw's power over the family and the way he manipulates and drives terror into their hearts will keep you reading into the night. What I particularly liked about Ravens was that although it's dark, Green manages to infuse humor throughout, dark humor, but humor, all the same. From the first page you'll be swept up on a journey through the lives and thoughts of incredibly well developed and somewhat deprived odd characters. It's a 'creepy' novel, but I couldn't put it down. ( July 2009)*

Killer Cuts by Elaine Viets (New American Library). This is in the Dead End Jobs series. In Killer Cuts, Helen has taken another dead-end job to support herself and stay under the radar, this time at a high-end hair salon. She is an assistant and gofer to Miguel Angel, a Cuban celebrity stylist, who runs a salon where a haircut can cost as much as a car payment. The novel starts with the wedding of Kingman King Oden, a wealthy gossip blogger and cable TV show host. When he is murdered at his own wedding, things get hairy, All the usual suspects are in this Dead End job series, and Helen's own life and series development is intertwined skillfully. Fun, fast paced, good mystery and surprising resolution.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Canada Book Day/Arthur Ellis Awards

Today is Canada Book Day, a day to read Canadian Mysteries, and there are author signings, launches and readings in cities all over Canada.

Of interest to Mystery Readers everywhere is the 2009 Arthur Ellis Award Shortlist that was announced today by the Crime Writers of Canada.

Nominees for Best Novel:

  • Linwood Barclay, Too Close to Home (Bantam)
  • Maureen Jennings, The K Handshape (Dundurn)
  • James W. Nichol, Transgression (MacArthur & Company)
  • Louise Penny, The Murder Stone (MacArthur & Company)
  • Michael E. Rose, The Tsunami File (MacArthur & Company)

Nominees for Best First Novel:

  • Nadine Doolittle, Iced Under (Bayeux Arts/Gondolier).
  • John C. Goodman, Talking to Wendigo (Turnstone).
  • April Lindgren, Headline: Murder (Second Story Press).
  • Howard Shrier, Buffalo Jump (Vintage Canada).
  • Phyllis Smallman, Margarita Nights (McArthur & Company).

Nominees for Best Juvenile Novel:

  • Vicki Grant, Res Judicata (Orca).
  • Susan Juby, Getting the Girl (HarperCollins).
  • Elizabeth MacLeod, Royal Murder (Annick Press).
  • Norah McClintock, Dead Silence (Scholastic Canada).
  • Sharon E. McKay, War Brothers (Penguin Canada).

Nominees for Best Crime Writing in French:

  • Jacques Côté, Le Chemin des brumes (Alire).
  • Maxime Houde, Le Poids des illusions (Alire).
  • Andre Jacques, La Tendresse du serpent (Québec Amerique).
  • Sylvain Meunier, L'Homme qui détestait le golf (La courte échelle).
  • Antoine Yaccarini, Meurtre au Soleil (VLB éditeur).

Nominees for Best Short Story category:

  • Pasha Malla, "Filmsong" in Toronto Noir (Akashic Books).
  • James Powell, "Clay Pillows" in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (June 2008).
  • Peter Robinson, "Walking the Dog" in Toronto Noir (Akashic Books).
  • Amelia Symington, "An Ill Wind" in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Sept./Oct. 2008).
  • Kris Wood, "Thinking Inside the Box" in Going Out with a Bang (RendezVous Crime).

Nominees for Non-fiction:

  • Daphne Bramham, The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada's Polygamous Mormon Sect (Vintage Canada/RHC).
  • Sharon Butala, The Girl in Saskatoon: A Meditation on Friendship, Memory and Murder (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins).
  • Alex Caine, Befriend and Betray: Infiltrating the Hells Angels, Bandidos and Other Criminal Brotherhoods (Vintage Canada/RHC).
  • Michael Calce & Craig Silverman, Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It's Still Broken (Penguin Canada).
  • Kerry Pither, Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror (Penguin Canada).

Nominees for Best Unpublished Novel:

  • Pam Barnsley, This Cage of Bones.
  • Gloria Ferris, Cheat the Hangman.
  • Stephen Maher, Salvage.
  • Douglas A. Moles, Louder.
  • Kevin Thornton, Condemned.

Winners in all categories will be announced at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on June 4.

Shakespearean Mysteries

Happy Birthday, Will! There are so many Shakespearean themed mysteries that I thought today would be an apt day to make a list! This is not a complete list in any way. The first group of mysteries focuses on the Bard Himself. Then I've listed short story collections, and the third group contains mysteries in which Shakespearean plays are being performed or plays come to light or otherwise Shakespeare related. The Mystery Readers Journal has had an issue focusing on Theatrical mysteries and there were several other mysteries mentioned there. It's out of print and not on computer, so I'll need to find a copy to ferret out other titles. In 2010 we will have another issue that focuses on Theatre.

Gooden, Philip. Mask of Night, Aims for Oblivion, An Honorable Murder, Sleep of Death
Hawke, Simon. The Slaying of the Shrew, The Merchant of Vengeance, Much Ado about Murder, A Mystery of Errors
Hodgson, Ken. The Man who Killed Shakespeare
Kellerman, Faye. The Quality of Mercy
Peterson, Audrey. Murder in Stratford: As Told by Anne Hathaway Shakespeare
Tourney, Leonard. Time’s Fool: A Mystery of Shakespeare

SS: Shakespearean Whodunnits by William Shakespeare, edited by Mike Ashley
SS: Shakespearean Detectives: Murder and Mysteries Based on Shakepeare’s Life and Plays edited by Mike Ashley
SS Much Ado About Murder edited by Anne Perry

Carrell, Jennifer Lee. The Shakespeare Secret, Interred with Their Bones.
Collard, Teresa. Murder at the Royal Shakespeare
Day, Barry. Sherlock Holmes and the Shakespeare Globe Murder
Goodman, Carol. The Sonnet Lover
Marsh, Ngaio. Various titles. (sorry to be so vague...but she's such a wonderful Golden Age writer, one should read them all, even if they're not all about Shakespeare or his plays).
Millner, Cork. To Be or Not to Be Shakespeare
Paulits, John. The Shakespeare Murders
Rubenfeld, Jed. The Interpretation of Murder

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More Earth Day Books

Thanks to for this great list of "Books to Make Your Blood Run Green!" Add these to the Earth Day Mystery list here on Mystery Fanfare.
Celebrate Earth Day, April 22, with these eco-thrillers!

April Fool by William Deverell
Read the first chapter:

The Laughing Falcon by William Deverell
More Info:

The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling
Read the first Chapter:

Primal Threat by Earl Emerson
Read the first Chapter:

Skinny Dip by Carl Haissan
Read the first Chapter:

Black Ice by Matt Dickinson
More Info:

Mutant by Peter Clement
Read the first chapter:

The Source by Michael Cordy
More Info:

Bram Stoker Awards

The Horror Writers Association has announced the nominees for the 2008 Bram Stoker Awards

Superior Achievement in a Novel
COFFIN COUNTY by Gary Braunbeck (Leisure Books)
THE REACH by Nate Kenyon (Leisure Books)
DUMA KEY by Stephen King (Scribner)
JOHNNY GRUESOME by Gregory Lamberson (Bad Moon Books/Medallion Press)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
MIDNIGHT ON MOURN STREET by Christopher Conlon (Earthling Publications)
THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti (Dark Hart Press)
MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin (Delirium Books)
THE SUICIDE COLLECTORS by David Oppegaard (St. Martin's Press)
FROZEN BLOOD by Joel A. Sutherland (Lachesis Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL by Adam-Troy Castro (Creeping Hemlock Press)
MIRANDA by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
REDEMPTION ROADSHOW by Weston Ochse (Burning Effigy Press)
THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
PETRIFIED by Scott Edelman (Desolate Souls)
THE LOST by Sarah Langan (Cemetery Dance Publications)
THE DUDE WHO COLLECTED LOVECRAFT by Nick Mamatas, and Tim Pratt (Chizine)
EVIDENCE OF LOVE IN A CASE OF ABANDONMENT by M. Rickert (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
TURTLE by Lee Thomas (Doorways)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)
HORROR LIBRARY, VOL. 3 edited by R. J. Cavender (Cutting Block Press)
BENEATH THE SURFACE edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)
UNSPEAKABLE HORROR edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder (Dark Scribe Press)

Superior Achievement in a Collection
THE NUMBER 121 TO PENNSYLVANIA by Kealan Patrick Burke (Cemetery Dance Publications)
MAMA'S BOY and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel (Apex Publications)
JUST AFTER SUNSET by Stephen King (Scribner)
GLEEFULLY MACABRE TALES by Jeff Strand (Delirium Books)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction
CHEAP SCARES by Gregory Lamberson (McFarland)
ZOMBIE CSU by Jonathan Maberry (Citadel Press)
A HALLOWE'EN ANTHOLOGY by Lisa Morton (McFarland)
THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR by Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley (HarperCollins)

Superior Achievement in Poetry
THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTION by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press)
THE PHANTOM WORLD by Gary William Crawford (Sam's Dot Publishing)
VIRGIN OF THE APOCALYPSE by Corrine De Winter (Sam's Dot Publishing)
ATTACK OF THE TWO-HEADED POETRY MONSTER by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty (Skullvines Press)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Orchids, rainforests, mystery and Earth Day

Yesterday Marty Appel invited me over to share some new orchid repotting techniques he had learned at the orchid show last month. I took some of my root-bound orchids, mulch and pots, as this was to be a practical demonstration.

As we began the procedure of hacking away at the roots (yes, hacking with a knife cleaned with a blowtorch), I couldn’t get the memory of rainforests and the quest for rare orchids out of my mind. I’ve always been fascinated with orchids. When I was growing up, Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter, was my favorite comic strip. I wanted to be just like Brenda – the intrepid reporter traveling the globe in search of the story. Brenda Starr, the liberated, career-action reporter, was my role model. Of course, my fantasy included a romantic Brazilian mystery man like Basil St. John who was always searching for the rare black orchid. Dale Messick’s original Brenda Starr comic strip that I followed in the Philadelphia Bulletin was full of romance, mystery, and exotic black orchids.

So splitting my orchids yesterday was actually a sojourn into my past. I’m sure it was because of my very close ‘personal’ ties with Brenda Starr that I represented Brazil in the model U.N. when I was in high school, and much later I chose Brazil for a Fulbright. I even managed to go up the Amazon into Basil’s rainforest, and although I did see a lot of orchids, none were black—and Basil was nowhere to be found.

So mystery and orchids and rainforests and Earth Day. I’m a big list-maker, and Orchids play an important part in mystery fiction starting with Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and his love of orchids. Black Orchids is one of my favorite titles. Other orchid mystery titles (fiction and non-fiction and a few out of the normal mystery realm) include:

Death in the Orchid Garden by Ann Ripley
The Cranefly Orchid Murders by Cynthia Riggs
Death at the Spring Plant Sale by Ann Ripley
Deadly Slipper, The Orchid Shroud, Death in the Dordogne by Michelle Wan. Read a great article by Michelle Wan on orchids and mystery.
The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.
The Cloud Garden by Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder
Death of an Orchid Lover by Nathan Walpow
Black Orchid by Dave McKean
The Emerald Cathedral R.H. Jones
Spirit in the Rainforest by Eric Wilson.

What Is A Black Orchid? Does the Black Orchid really exist? Where is the Black Orchid found? These questions and others have fascinated orchid enthusiasts for centuries, and orchid growers have been trying to grow this magical, mysterious black colored orchid for ages, too, but this still seems to be a mythical plant. All the hard work by hybridization specialists has been in vain and the search for the Black Orchid continues. I grow a lot of varieties of orchids, but none are black. I guess I’ll just continue my personal search through mystery fiction, and sometimes while on holiday in tropical rainforests.

So there you have it. Orchids for Earth Day. Save the Rainforests!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Earth Day Mysteries

In 1992, Mystery Readers Journal published an issue focusing on Environmental Mysteries. Here we are more than 15 years later, and there have been so many more mysteries written focusing on ecology, environment and more. I like to think that these mysteries make an impact on the reader. Day by day, little by little, we can make a difference. So I've put together an unannotated list of mysteries for Earth Day. It's not complete, so if I left off one of your favorites, let me know.

And if you want to eat some Earth-Friendly Chocolate while you're reading, check out my chocolate blog DyingforChocolate. Enjoy!

Abbey, Edward: Hayduke Lives!, The Monkey Wrench
Ashwood-Collins, Anna: Deadly Resolution

Ault, Sandi: Wild Indigo, Wild Inferno, Wild Sorrow
Ayres, E.C: Hour of the Manatee, Eye of the Gator, Night of the Panther. Lair of the Lizard
Ballard, J
.G: Rushing to Paradise.
Barr, Nevada: Track of the Cat, A Superior Death, Ill Wind, Firestorm, Endangered Species, Blind Descent, Liberty Falling, Deep South, Blood Lure, Hunting Season, Flashback, High Country, Hard Truth
Winter Study, Borderline
Bingle, Donald J: GreensWord
Blake, Jennifer: Shameless
Box, C.J: Open Season, Savage Run, Winterkill, Trophy Hunt, Out of Range, In Plain Sight, Free Fire, Blood Trail

Burns, Rex: Endangered Species.
Charbonneau, Eileen: Waltzing in Ragtime
Cleeves, Ann: Another Man's Poison
Derrick, Lionel: Death Ray Terror
Elkins, Aaron: The Dark Place
Ford, Gerald M.: Who In Hell is Wanda Fuca?
Francis, Claire: A Killing Wind

Glass, Matthew: Ultimatum
Greer, Robert O: The Devil's Hatband
ng, Robert: McCampbell's War
Heywood, Joseph: Ice Hunter, Blue Wolf in Green Fire, Chasing a Blond Moon, Running Dark, Strike Dog
Hiaasen, Carl: most of the books.
Hoag, Tami: Lucky's Lady

Hockenberry, John: A River Out of Eden
Holt, John: Hunted
Hughes, Judy: The Snowmobile Kidnapping
Hughes, Mary Ellen: A Taste of Death
Irvine, Ian: The Last Albatross
Kilpatrick, Nancy & Michael: Eternal City

Liss, David: The Ethical Assassin
MacDonald, John D: Barrier Island
McAuley, Paul: White Devils
Moody, Skye Kathleen: Habitat, Wildcrafters, Blue Poppy, Rain Dance, K Falls, Medusa, The Good Diamond
Nunn, Kem: Tijuana Straits
O'Brien, Dan: Brendan Prairie
Poyer, David: The Dead of Winter, Winter in the Heart, As the Wolf Loves Winter, Thunder on the Mountain
Rehder, Ben: Buck Fever, Bone Dry, Flat Crazy, Guilt Trip, Gun Shy, Holy Moly
Rothenberg, Rebecca: The Shy Tulip Murders
Russell, Alan: The Forest Prime Evil
Russell, Kirk: Shell Games, Night Game, Dead Game
Schatzing, Frank: The Swarm
Smith, James Robert: The Flock
Smith, Wilbur: Elephant Song, Hungry as the Sea
Speart, Jessica: Gator Aide, Tortoise Soup, Bird Brained, Border Prey, Black Delta Night, A Killing Season, Coastal Disturbance, Blue Twilight, Restless Waters, Unsafe Harbor
Stephenson, Neal: Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller
Sundstrand, David: Shadow of the Raven, Shadows of Death
Wallingford, Lee: Clear-Cut Murder, Cold Tracks
Wells, Ken: Crawfish Mountain
White, Randy Wayne: Sanibel Flats, The Heat Islands, The Man Who Invented Florida, Captive, North of Havana, The Mangrove Coast, Ten Thousand Islands, Shark River, Twelve Mile Limit, Everglades, Tampa Burn, Dead of Night, Dark Light, Hunter's Moon, Black Widow, Dead Silence

For other holiday mysteries, check out the latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal: Crime for the Holidays or look back in past blogs on Mystery Fanfare.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mystery Writers in the Bay Area

Lots of upcoming mystery signings and talks in the San Francisco Bay Area. This may not be a complete list, but it's very exciting.

Alexander McCall Smith:
April 25, M is for Mystery. Time TBA (signing only)
April 26: Books Inc, 301 Castro St, Mountain View, 12 noon

Donna Leon:
April 28, City Arts & Lectures, check for time, San Francisco
April 28, M is for Mystery, signing only, TBA

Cara Black:
April 18, Belmont Library, 2 p.m. Belmont, CA
April 19, Books Inc, Mountain View, 10 a.m.
April 30, Mechanics Institute, San Francisco, 6 p.m.

Louise Ure: April 18, Belmont Library, Belmont, 2 p.m.
April 19, Book Passage, Corte Madera, 4 p.m.
April 21, Books Inc, San Francisco, 7:30 p.m.

Anthony Eglin:
April 21, Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, Sonoma, 7:30 p.m.

Gary Phillips:
April 30, The Green Arcade, San Francisco, 7 p.m

Robert Dugoni:
April 20, M is for Mystery, San Mateo, 7 p.m.

Laurie King:
April 28, M is for Mystery, San Mateo, (signing only) Time: TBA

Coming into town in May. Watch for dates, places, and times:
Iain Pears, Jane Cleland, Greg Rucka, George Pelecanos, Seth Harwood, Rebecca Cantrell

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Death and Taxes

I started to write something on Death and Taxes yesterday since Tax Day is April 15 in the U.S. That makes it sort of a holiday and holidays are my thing. But I really didn't come up with much. Maybe the whole taxman thing is just too depressing.

J. Kingston Pierce to the rescue. Check out his April 15 blog on The Rap Sheet, "Dying for a Refund" The mystery he reviews is Death and Taxes by David Dodge (1910-1974), a onetime certified public accountant. The book is set in San Francisco, so that's another bonus for me.

Thanks, Jeff!

Don't miss Crime for the Holidays, volume 25:1, Mystery Readers Journal.

Good News: Atkinson

When will there be Good News? Now! Mike Ripley of Shots Magazine reports that Kate Atkinson is working on her fourth Jackson Brodie novel--the follow-up to When Will There be Good News? She's planning a fifth crime novel as "an 'homage' to Agatha Christie" with a cast of characters trapped in a country house hotel. I, for one, can't wait.

I meant to post this when I saw it on Mike Ripley's eZine, but a Tip of the Hat to BV Lawson of In Reference to Murder for the reminder. Don't miss In Reference to Murder!

And, FYI: When Will There Be Good News won the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year at the British Book Awards.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mystery Readers Journal: 25th year

Mystery Readers Journal enters its 25th year! What a time to celebrate!

Crime for the Holidays is the first issue for 2009. Other themed issues this year will include Los Angeles Mysteries I, Los Angeles Mysteries II, and Sports Mysteries. It's not too late to subscribe for the year. Individual issues will be available as they are published.

Crime for the Holidays (Volume 25:1) is a fabulous issue with over 70 pages of reviews, articles, columns and Author! Author! essays. Holidays include Halloween, New Year's, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, and lots of other U.S. and non-U.S. holidays. This issue will be mailed this week and should reach subscribers by next Monday.

Authors who wrote for this issue include Carolyn Hart, Kerry Greenwood, Carola Dunn, Katherine Hall Page, Neil Pakcy, Peter Lovesey and many others. Check out the Table of Contents in the Crime for the Holidays issue.

Thanks to Kate Derie, Associate Editor, and all the contributors and supporters of Mystery Readers Journal over the past 25 years!.

Mystery Readers Journal is a quarterly thematic mystery review in hardcopy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Murder 203

A new mystery festival slipped through my radar, and it's going to take place this weekend. There's still time to sign up. Murder 203: Connecticut's Mystery Festival (named for CT area code 203) will take place April 18 and 19 at the Easton and Westport Libraries for mystery fans and writers. Panel discussions, book signings, writing tips, raffle and auction, Cocktails and Crime Saturday evening event. Guest of Honor: Linda Fairstein. Some of the other authors scheduled to attend Reed Farrel Coleman, Jason Starr, Jeffrey Cohen, Jane Cleland, Chris Grabenstein, Kate Flora. There are many more. And, the price is right! $75 includes 3 meals and party. All proceeds go to the libraries. 90 minutes from NYC.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Crime Novels

Easter is Sunday, so you'd better start reading, even if you don't live in Norway. Here's a list of some great novels set during Eastertime.

Ship Of Danger by Mabel Esther Allan
Aunt Dimity: Detective by Nancy Atherton
Death and the Easter Bunny by Linda Berry
Easter Weekend by David Bottoms
Papa la-Bas by John Dickson Carr
Do You Promise Not To Tell? by Mary Jane Clark
Little Easter by Reed Farrel Coleman
Last Easter by Caroline Conklin
Holy Terrors by Mary R. Daheim
The House of Death by Paul Doherty
Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans
Deadly Sin by PJ Grady
Gallery of Horror, edited by Charles L. Grant
Precious Blood by Jane Haddam
The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris
Some Like It Lethal by Nancy Martin
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Do Not Exceed the Stated Dose (short stories) by Peter Lovesey
And Four To Go (aka The Easter Parade) by Rex Stout
Midnight at the Camposanto by Mari Ulmer

And, some egg books: The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

Still need chocolate suggestions for Easter? Check out my other blog, DyingforChocolate.

Have a good holiday!

Paaskekrim: Norwegian Crime for Easter

One of the biggest mysteries for me at Easter is Norway's Paaskekrim (Easter Crime). From Holy Thursday through Easter Monday is a public holiday in Norway, and it's also a time when just about everyone in Norway reads crime novels. Bookstore displays are full of detective novels, television and radio stations run crime serials and newspapers publish special literary supplements, all catering to Norwegians’ thirst for thrills.

This is a very peculiar national activity. Publishers actually churn out series of books known as "Easter-Thrillers" or Påskekrimmen, and dates of publication are moved to Spring and released at this time when the sale of mysteries goes up 50%. TV stations, radio and newspapers follow suit by running detective series based on the works of famous crime novelists such as Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Simenon and Ruth Rendell.

But why does Norway, where bloodbaths are rare, choose Easter to delve into crime solving? According to one widely accepted theory, the tradition began in 1923 as the result of a marketing coup. Advertisements that resembled news items were published on the front pages of several newspapers, shocking readers who failed to grasp that it was a publicity stunt.

The initiative spread like wildfire among other publishing houses, and the crime novel became one of the few forms of entertainment available during the Easter break. Cafes, restaurants and movie theatres were closed during Easter, which was supposed to be a time of introspection and repentance. There was no radio, and of course no television either. But everyone could read, and so the Easter crime novel was born, and with it came a bevy of renowned crime authors, including Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum, Anne Holt and Jon Michelet.

The tradition lives on. The crime novel is just part of the holidays.

A few Norwegian crime writers:
Karin Fossum
Jo Nesbo
Kjersti Scheen
Gunnar Staalesen
Jon Michelet
Anne Holt
Kjell Ola Dahl

The Scandinavian issue of Mystery Readers Journal is still available and has over 92 pages of reviews, articles and author! author! essays, many by and about Norwegian crime writers.

Two great websites to bookmark with occasional blogs on Norwegian crime writers:
Detectives without Borders
Euro Crime

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passover Mysteries

Another holiday, another list. This one is short, so supplement this list with some wonderful Passover chocolate. I've put together several Passover chocolate treats to make or buy on my DyingforChocolate blog. Don't miss my flourless chocolate cake recipe. It'll take about a half hour to make and bake. No mystery there. It's sinfully delicious. Have a good holiday.

The Passover Murder by Lee Harris
The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield

Love to have more books to add to this list. Feel free to comment.

The next issue of the Mystery Readers Journal will focus on Crime for the Holidays (Volume 25:1).This issue is at the printer and should be out in about a week. I'll be posting the table of contents on the Mystery Readers International website in the next few days.

Crimefest Awards Shortlists Announced

Adrian Muller, co-chair of CrimeFest, sent the shortlists for the Sounds of Crime Awards and the Last Laugh Awards. For more info on CrimeFest, go to or visit the Website.
Sounds Of Crime Awards

The Sounds of Crime Awards are sponsored by Audible UK, the Internet's leading premium spoken audio source.

The awards are for the best abridged and unabridged crime audiobooks first published in 2008 in both printed and digital formats, and available for download from the Audible UK website. The award goes to both the author and the reader of the winning entry.

Nominees for Best Abridged Crime Audiobook:
- Mark Billingham for In the Dark. Reader: Adjoa Andoh. (Hachette Digital)
- Harlan Coben for Hold Tight. Reader: Tim Machin. (Orion)
- Sue Grafton for T is for Trespass. Reader: Lorelei King. (Macmillan)
- Stieg Larsson for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Reader: Martin Wenner. (Quercus)
- Val McDermid for A Darker Domain. Reader: Valerie Gogan. (HarperCollins)
- Ian Rankin for Doors Open. Reader: James McPherson. (Orion)

Nominees for Best Unabridged Crime Audiobook:
- Kate Atkinson for When Will There Be Good News? Reader: Steven Crossley. (BBC Audiobooks)
- Harlan Coben for Hold Tight. Reader: Richard Ferrone. (Whole Story Audio Books)
- Tess Gerritsen for The Bone Garden. Reader, Lorelei King. (BBC Audiobooks)
- Declan Hughes for The Dying Breed. Reader: Stanley Townsend. (Isis Publishing Ltd)
- Alexander McCall Smith for The Miracle at Speedy Motors. Reader: Adjoa Andoh. (Isis Publishing Ltd)
- RD Wingfield for A Killing Frost. Reader: Stephen Thorne. (Isis Publishing Ltd)

Audible UK customers and CRIMEFEST delegates will vote for the winning titles which will be announced at the Gala Dinner on the 16th of May at the Marriott Royal Hotel, Bristol. The winners receive a commemorative award provided by Bristol Blue Glass.

One Audible customer or CRIMEFEST delegate who votes for the winning titles will be randomly selected and receive an iPod and all 12 shortlisted titles.

The Last Laugh Award
The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel published in the British Isles in 2008. Goldsboro Books, Britain’s book collector’s bookseller, is providing a £1,000 cash prize for the winner.

Last Laugh Award nominees:
- Gilbert Adair for And Then There Was No One (Faber & Faber)
- Christopher Brookmyre for A Snowball in Hell (Little, Brown)
- Colin Cotterill for Anarchy and Old Dogs (Quercus)
- Christopher Fowler for The Victoria Vanishes (Transworld/Doubleday)
- Mike Ripley for Angels Unaware (Allison & Busby)
- Donald Westlake for Don't Ask (Quercus)

CRIMEFEST delegates will vote for the winning title which will be announced at the Gala Dinner on the 16th of May at the Marriott Royal Hotel, Bristol. In addition to the £1,000 cash prize the winner receives a commemorative award provided by Bristol Blue Glass.

CrimeFest: May 14-17, 2009. Bristol, UK. Guests of Honor: Michael Connelly, Simon Brett, Hakan Nesser, Andrew Taylor. Toastmistress: Meg Gardiner. For the full list of attending authors, go here. Great pre- and post- trips. Book Room, writer workshops and more. Fans and readers and authors welcome.

Monday, April 6, 2009

2 Posthumous Crichton Novels

The NYT reports that HarperCollins will be bringing out two posthumous novels by the late Michael Crichton author of best selling technological thrillers such as The Adromeda Strain and Juraissic Park. Pirate Latitudes was discovered by his assistant in Crichton's computer files and features a pirate named Hunter and the governor of Jamaica and their plan to raid a Spanish treasure galleon. The second novel, a technological thriller was only a third of the way through and the publisher will work with Lynn Nesbit, Crichton's agent, and his estate to select a co-writer to finish the book, working from Crichton's notes. Read more.

Friday, April 3, 2009

100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You've Never Heard Of

I came across this site 100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You've Never Heard Of (obviously grammar isn't one of them) on today, and I must say I found it informative and amusing. There truly are 100 useful sites, but I'm only listing the first 30--of more interest, perhaps, to the average mystery reader. Feel free to read the entire site and go to all links. Nice to expand one's knowledge.

Dictionaries and More

When you need a quick definition or want more specialized results that display synonyms, rhyming words and slang, turn to this list.

  1. OneLook: This no-frills online dictionary lets you look up basic definitions, related words, phrases and more. You can even customize your experience with different searches.
  2. RhymeZone: Type in a word to find rhyming words, synonyms, definitions, Shakespeare references and more.
  3. Strange and Unusual References: Head to this site to look up all-vowel words, magic words, magic archetypes, how to identify unicorns and other odd material.
  4. This online translator can find words in Dutch, Afrikaans, Russian, Portugese, Swedish, Japanese, Hungarian and more.
  5. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: Search through topics like technology, American history, literature in English, proverbs and more to become a more "active citizen in our multicultural democracy."
  6. Word Spy: Search for a specific word to bring up funny quotations and a definition, or you can browse categories and sub categories like aging and death, hacking and hackers, entrepreneurs, jargon and buzzwords, art and design, drugs, euphemisms, sleeping or cell phones.
  7. Slang Site: Look up Web words, slang and even made up but often used words here.
  8. Behind the Names: Find out the history of your name or search names by categories like English, Spanish, mythology, Biblical names, African and more.
  9. Directory of Occupational Titles: If you’ve ever wanted to know the official name of your job, look it up here.
  10. Glossary of Real Estate Abbreviations, Terms and Phrases: Get through your next home signing by doing some extra research on this site.

Teacher References

Teaching guides like these will help you double-check facts, look for relevant quotes, find different careers in education, and get ideas for lesson plans.

  1. Twain Quotations A to Z: Inspire (or confuse) your students by throwing out a Mark Twain quote every once in a while. You can search by subject matter.
  2. Math Glossary: Look up words and concepts like abacus, Thales’ theorem, obtuse triangle and a lot more in this special site.
  3. Biology Website References for Students and Teachers: Learn about evolution, cell chemistry, anatomy and genetics from this list of reference sites.
  4. Children’s Literature Web Guide: Look for award-winning children’s books, readers’ theatre sites, stories published online and more on this site.
  5. Charles Dickens Gad’s Hill Place: Use this quote page to search by topic, title, or phrase, or pull from The Daily Dose of Dickens book.
  6. Encyclopedia Mythica: Search for text, quotes and history of mythology, folklore and religon. Categories include Greek people, Celtic mythology and Roman mythology.
  7. American Memory: The Library of Congress’ American culture and history reference site features topics like environment and conservation, immigration, women’s history, Presidents, religion, maps, literature, African American history and others.
  8. ASL Browser: Look up American Sign Language signs here.
  9. Ditto: Search the web for all kinds of beautiful images on this site.
  10. Learning and Performance Glossary: From accelerated learning to guidance package to meta skills, this glossary is full of education terms for teachers.

Librarian References

Librarians will benefit from these great reference sites, some of which were designed just for or by librarians.

  1. A Glossary of the Humanities: Click on a letter to look up words, phrases and concepts that use references from Foucault, Burke, Frye and others as definitions.
  2. Library of Congress Online Catalogs: We’re pretty sure most librarians have heard of this site, but it’s seriously one of the best reference sites on the Web.
  3. Historical Text Archives: This site boasts nearly 687 articles and 70 books about history, especially American history.
  4. KidsClick!: This educational search engine was created by librarians and is organized by topics like society and government, machines and transportation, health and family, facts and reference, and a lot more.
  5. Library Spot: This great reference site has links to encyclopedias, Top 10 lists, business references, public libraries and a LOT more.

Just for Fun

Search for unique profanity, sex terms and ridiculously long words here.

  1. The Dialectizer: Paste a URL into the box and select a dialect like Redneck, Cockney or Elmer Fudd to have the whole site translated.
  2. The Devil’s Dictionary: This adapted version of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary contains words like brute, gallows, damn, wrath, and X.
  3. Sexual Dictionary: Look up quotes for "doin’ the wild thing" here, as well as other slang terms for sex.
  4. Grandiloquent Dictionary: Impress your friends by using huge words you found here.
  5. Roger’s Profanisaurus: Have fun looking up profane words at "the ultimate swearing dictionary."

Sadly More Obits

The Gumshoe Site (reviews, notices and other mystery-related news) is in its 14th Year on the Web. Jiro Kimura is the brains behind the outfit. Jiro is a long-time supporter of the Mystery Readers Journal.

Hat Tip to The Gumshoe Site for the following Obits.

Michael Cox: author of M.R. James: An Informal Portrait (Oxford University Press, 1983), co-editor of The Oxford Book of Victorian Detective Stories (1992), The Oxford Book of Spy Stories (1997). Crime Novels set in Victorian England: The Meaning of Night (2006) and The Glass of Time (2008). March 31.

Lawrence Payne: Played Detective Sexton Black on British TV (1967-1971). Three Crime novels featuring Chief Inspector Sam Birkett. Nose on My Face (1961/US Title: The First Body, 1964). British amateur sleuth John Tibbett in Spy for Sale (1969(. Mark Savage, British Private Eye in Take the Money and Run (1982) and co-partners with Sam Birkett in Dead for a Ducat (1985). March 27.

Gordon Philo. Secret Intelligence Service Using the Charles Forsyte name with his wife Vicky Galsworthy. Diplomatic Death (1961) and Double Death (1965) featuring Richard Left. Also authored The Decoding of Edwin Drood (1980) completing Charles Dickens' unfinished novel. March 19.

J.D.F.Jones. Three thrillers under the pseudonym David Jordan Nine Green (1973), Black Account (1975), Double Red (1981). Under his own name. The Buchan Papers (1996). March 16.

James Purdy. Author of Malcom (1959), Cabot Wright Begins (1964), Eustace Chisholm and the Works (1967), and Out With the Stars (1992). March 14.

Diana Raymond. Author of Incident on a Summer's Day (1974), Roundabout (1995), The Seat Family (1997). and completed by Pamela Frankau, Colonel Belssinton (1968). March 11.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carolyn Hart At Home/Interviewed by JoAnna Carl

Carolyn Hart was our guest at a real-time Mystery Readers International At Home Literary Salon many years ago. Since most of the readers of this Blog were not there, I asked JoAnna Carl aka Eve Sandstrom to interview Carolyn Hart for our continuing At Home Online series for the Mystery Readers website, posted here, too. An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the author of 19 Death on Demand novels that have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She has also written 7 Henrie O mysteries, 2 Bailey Ruth Raeburn "ghost" mysteries, and over 20 non-series books, plus multiple short stories. Hart is one of the founders of Sisters in Crime.

JoAnna: When we were in college, all of your fellow J-school students thought you'd be the next Margaret Bourke-White. Do you ever regret that you passed up becoming a top Washington correspondent or a foreign correspondent?

Carolyn: It is possible to have the best of all worlds when you write fiction. I too thought I would have a trench coat, notebook and pen and travel the world. Instead, I married, had a wonderful family and turned to fiction. When I created Henrietta O’ Dwyer Collins (Henrie O), she had the life I thought would be mine. Henrie O is taller, smarter and braver than I am and a successful foreign correspondent, but she reflects my attitudes and interests.

JoAnna: Why do you write mysteries anyway? What appeals to you about this literary form?

Carolyn: I write mysteries because we live in an unjust world. Mystery readers and writers long for a world where justice is served, goodness admired, and wrongs righted. We don‚t find that world in our everyday lives and that‚s why we revere mysteries, both reading and writing them.

JoAnna: Did you ever consider writing anything non-mysterious? Fantasy? Scifi? A combination there-of? Biography?

Carolyn: I was fascinated by the plight of the nurses trapped on Corregidor and wanted to write a non-fiction book about them. At that time, the diaries and papers were not available so I wrote Brave Hearts, a World War II book set in London and the Philippines.

JoAnna: You're recognized as an authority on Agatha Christie. What draws you to her work?

Carolyn: Her brilliance, charm, creativity, and insight.

JoAnna: What mystery novel influenced your development as a writer? Or can you point to one? Or was it a book of another type?

Carolyn: Christie‚s works and those of Mary Roberts, Rinehart, Phoebe Atwood Taylor, Mary Collins, and Josephine Tey. As for a particular novel, I will always be in awe of Christie's Ten Little Indians.

JoAnna: Mystery fans may not know what a great teacher you are. I've heard successful mystery writers say, "Oh, I'd never take a writing class." Did you yourself ever take a writing class?

Carolyn: No, but I have attended many writing conferences and always learned something new.

JoAnna: What should a potential student of mystery writing look for in a writing class?

Carolyn: A teacher who understands that styles and minds and attitudes and tastes differ. The teacher should offer insights into the creative process and offer criticism that judges a work against the objectives of the writer.

JoAnna: You had bunches of books published before you made a hit with the Death on Demand series. What encouraged you to hang in there?

Carolyn: I don’t think writers have a choice. They (and I) must write whether the work is accepted or rejected.

JoAnna: You've written three popular mystery series. What is the key to creating appealing, lasting series characters?

Carolyn: Respect. The writer must respect the characters and the readers.

JoAnna: Agents, editors, professors and other people who hand out advice on writing all urge the author to develop his or her "own voice." Then they say, "Voice is hard to define...." What's your take on this?

Carolyn: Every individual is unique. Each of us sees the world differently. A writer must relax and offer what they have and who they are without artifice.

JoAnna: Do you recognize recurring themes or ideas in your own books?

Carolyn: I almost always seem to write about the abuse of power in relationships or the overweening self aggrandizement that destroys relationships. The underlying theme is always a celebration of goodness. Goodness, decency and honor matter.

JoAnna: You were one of the founders of Sisters in Crime. Do you have any special memories you'd like to share about this organization's early days?

Carolyn: I think it was the spring of 1989, possibly it was 1988. I was in New York for Edgars and my editor told me there was going to be a gathering of women writers to talk about forming a new organization. She thought I might be interested in attending. The meeting was in Sandra Scoppetone's loft.

That was the first time I ever met Margaret Maron and Sue Dunlap. At one point, everyone was talking excitedly about what could be accomplished if women worked together. Sue Dunlap asked the people standing behind her to catch her. She toppled over backwards and they caught her and it was an illustration of how we had to trust each other and be willing to take chances. Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic and excited. The idea for SinC had first been suggested by Sara Paretsky at a Bouchercon breakfast with a few writers. This meeting in New York was to decide whether to form the group. the decisions was made and Sisters in Crime came into being in Sandra Scoppetone's loft.

I also remember walking into that room, filled with about seventeen women writers, and it was the first time I ever felt at home with a group.

We were amazed and touched by the generosity of our fellow writers and by the warmth of readers. Today the organization is more than three thousand strong here and around the world.

JoAnna: What are some of your personal likes and dislikes?

My favorite things:
Children's laughter.
Summer, sea, and sand.
The 1928 Episcopal Prayer Book.
Authors to reread: Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Constance and Gwenyth Little.
Car trips.
Having written.

Things I hate:

JoAnna: Do you have any predictions on the future of the mystery?

Carolyn: The mystery will always prosper. Readers seek goodness. They do not find goodness triumphant in the world as we know it. They will always find goodness triumphant in the mystery.

Agatha Christie and Alzheimer clues

The Ultimate Whodunit: Agatha Christie's mysteries may reveal Alzheimer's clues. "Agatha Christie’s whodunits have entertained the masses for close to a century. Now, in an unexpected plot twist, the British author’s life work itself is shedding light on one of medicine’s great mysteries—Alzheimer’s."

You'll want to read this article if you're interested in Christie and the result of aging and her novels. If you're a writer, you'll really want to read this, especially if you're concerned about generations to come analyzing your works not for their interest or merit, but for scientific studies into your psyche. The article is a real scientific computer study of linguistic patterns in older works of writers compared with their earlier works. Christie had 85 well plotted novels and plays written over 53 years, so she was a great subject for this research. Christie was never diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but the premise of the study/article is that Alzheimer's might have been responsible for her decline in her late 70s and what was said to be "muddled, meandering plots of her later novels." The author of the study cites Elephants Can Remember which was written when Christie was 81: it contained a 30 per cent drop in vocabulary compared to her writing at age 63, 18% more repeated phrases, and a nearly threefold increase in indefinite nouns.

Just a few questions come to my mind, how much time did she have to write ECR? What else was happening in her life? This was a series she worked on throughout her career with fewer novels about Oliver, rather than the huge numbers of Poirots and Marples. Aren't there other factors that we as readers, not scientists should taken into consideration. I know the study was about one specific thing --yes, I'm using the word thing--but Elephants Can Remember, an Ariadne Oliver novel, may not be the best choice.

I guess I really love Agatha Christie novels, and the study disturbed me.

A tip of the hat to Sue Trowbridge for this article.

More Mystery Awards and Nominees


St. Paul novelist Christopher Valen has been awarded The Garcia Prize for his debut mystery, White Tombs. An annual award presented in conjunction with the national Reader Views Book Awards, The Garcia Prize is awarded to the best fiction book of the year. White Tombs also won Best Mystery of the Year honors. White Tombs (Conquil Press, ISBN: 978-0980001723, $14.95, Mystery) introduces protagonist Detective John Santana.

Friends of Mystery, a non-profit literary/educational organization based in Portland, Oregon, has announced that this year's winner of the for the best mystery by a Pacific Northwest author is Executive Privilege by Phillip Margolin (HarperCollins), a legal thriller partly set in Oregon and involving the possibility that the President might be a serial killer.

Margolin, a Portland attorney and author, is an original member and longtime supporter of Friends of Mystery.


SHORT MYSTERY FICTION SOCIETY Announces the finalists for the 2009 Derringer Awards
BEST FLASH STORY (Up to 1,000 Words)
Black Pearls by James C. Clar
Incident in Itawamba by Gary Hoffman
No Flowers for Stacy by Ruth McCarty
No Place Like Home by Dee Stuart
This Bird has Flown by BV Lawson

BEST SHORT STORY (1,001-4,000 Words)
Independence Day by Allan Leverone
Regrets, I’ve Had a Few by Allan Leverone
Stalkers* by Lew Stowe
Taste for It by Sophie Littlefield
The Cost of Doing Business by Mike Penncavage
Wishing on Whores* by John Weagly
*tie score in the judging

BEST LONG STORY (4,001-8,000 Words)
Bonnie and Clyde Caper by O’Neil De Noux
Dead Even by Frank Zafiro
The Art of Avarice by Darrell James
The Big Score by Chris Holm
The Quick Brown Fox by Robert S. Levinson

BEST NOVELETTE (8,000-17,500 Words)
Haven’t Seen You Since the Funeral by Ernest B. Brown
Jack Best and the Line in the Sand by Steve Olley
Panic on Portage Path by Dick Stodghill
Too Wise by O’Neil De Noux
Vegetable Matters by Terry W. Ervin II

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools Mysteries

The first of April, some do say,
Is set apart for All Fools' Day.
But why the people call it so,
Nor I, nor they themselves do know.
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment.

Poor Robin's Almanac, 1790

April Fool's Day: San Francisco has a special St. Stupid's Day parade in which "fools" in various garb wander the streets in a very interactive parade. Being that I love holidays--any chance to celebrate, I did a little research on April Fool's Day Mysteries. It's a short list, but fun and full of foolishness and mystery.

April Fools’ Day Murder by Lee Harris
April Fool’s Day A Novel by Josip Novakovich (not quite a mystery but with mystery elements)
The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 3: The April Fool’s Day Adventure and The Strange Adventure of the Uneasy Easy Chair by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green.
April Fool Dead by Carolyn Hart
The April Fool by Robert J. Fields

Another bit of trivia: Berkeley, California, was incorporated on April Fools' Day, 1878. Why am I not surprised?

I was working on my DyingforChocolate blog and realized this entry for April Fool's Day belongs here in Mystery Fanfare.

The International Edible Book Festival is held annually around April 1. According to, the International Edible Book Festival is held on April 1st because "this is the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), famous for his book Physiologie du goût, a witty meditation on food. April fools' day is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the "books" are consumed on the day of the event." This is a global banquet, in which anyone can participate, and is shared by all on the internet and allows everyone to preserve and discover unique bookish nourishments.

The International Edible Book Festival is a creation of Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron. The late Hoffberg got the idea over a Thanksgiving turkey with book artists in 1999, and Béatrice created Books2Eat website where despite the distances everybody can enjoy worldwide creations. They contacted friends and colleagues, and their first event took place in 2000. Since then the festival continues as an annual sensation.

The University of Texas, Austin, has a great website about their Festival.

Check out the internet for a Festival at a library, university or bookstore near you.

For the "official" global locations of the Festival for 2009, go HERE.