Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hallopaloozza Scavenger Hunt

A Halloween Blog Scavenger Hunt

25 Blog Stops
Follow the Clues
Solve the Mystery
Win Great Prizes

Mystery Fanfare is Stop #21. You'll want to read all the Clues on all the Participating Blogs in Order to Solve A Halloween Ball Mystery. And, you'll win great prizes for solving the mystery...and other prizes along the way. I'll be giving away a year's subscription to the Mystery Readers Journal. Leave a comment on Mystery Fanfare's Hallopalooza page during Hallopalooza to be in the running for that prize. Solve the Mystery, and you have a chance for even more prizes. Be sure and read each blog, scroll back, get the flavor of the blog, and then read all the clues!

If you're entering Hallopalooza here at Mystery Fanfare for the first time, you'll want to go back and start at The Stilletto Gang. If you're here for Clue #21, read on:

Mystery Fanfare – post 21

"So who killed Carla?" Milla leaned back in her bubble bath and closed her eyes. She only had a few more hours to solve the mystery or she wasn't going to get paid. G. Winston Howard had hired her to discover the killer before the weekend was over.

She reached out her hand and fumbled for the box of chocolates, sitting on the tiled area bordering her jetted tub. Placing one delicate morsel in her mouth, she let the sweetness flow over her tongue.

Why does anyone commit murder?

She ticked off the reasons: love, money, power, rage …

What else? Despite Steven McCall's hint of an affair between G. Winston Howard and Carla Jordan, she hadn't found any evidence of it. The only emotion that seemed to be associated with Carla was anger. She hadn't found anyone who liked the woman. So love probably wasn't the motive.

Milla picked up another chocolate, holding it as she considered the options. It had to be the old stand bys – money and power. Rage was probably just a bonus – nobody was mourning the late Carla Jordan. Who needed money? Who wanted power? Who did Carla threaten to expose?

The chocolate melted on her fingers. She tossed the gooey candy back in the box just as her cell phone rang. Startled she grabbed the side of the tub, her fingers leaving marks. Ignoring the phone she looked at her hand, her scratched fingers, like Carla's, leaving a message.

Next Clue Location - Poe's Deadly Daughters

Val McDermid: Place of Execution Interview

Val McDermid, the author of 23 crime novels, is one of the U.K.'s greatest Crime Writers. Her latest Dr. Tony Hill and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan novel, Fever of the Bone, is now out in the U.K. The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan Series has been adapted for TV as the Wire in the Blood Series. Her stand-alone novel, Place of Execution, will be shown in the U.S. on PBS, November 1 and November 8. Juliet Stevenson stars in the production, and just won a CWA Actress Dagger for her performance. Also starring are Lee Ingleby and Greg Wise who give hauntingly strong performances.

Place of Execution is a terrific production on so many levels, and one that will reverberate within you long after you've finished watching. Part of that is due to the excellent cast, and part of it is due to the brilliant novel by Val McDermid on which it's based. Told in two overlapping and interlocking plots, Place of Execution takes place in both the present day, as well as 1963 rural England with two different investigators exploring the disappearance of a 13 year old girl who vanished without a trace on a winter afternoon in 1963. This is not Miss Marple's English village. Place of Execution is a first rate thriller about the choices we make in our lives, the events that shape us and the hold of obsession over us. Don't miss it.

I caught up with Val to ask her a few questions about the production of Place of Execution.

Janet Rudolph: Your books have been adapted for TV before, is the adaptation of Place of Execution different from the previous adaptations?

Val McDermid: The main difference came from the split time frame in the original book. It meant that we had to have two actors for several of the key roles. And of course we had to get the period details spot-on because enough people have accurate memories of the 1960s to get on our case if we got it wrong!

JR: How do you feel about the adaptation of Place of Execution? (casting, etc?)

VM: Because I’d worked with the production company, Coastal Productions, on Wire in the Blood, I knew from the get-go that I was in safe hands. They’ve always shown respect for my work and the executive producer, Sandra Jobling, has such high production values that I wasn’t at all anxious going into the process. I felt even more reassured when she signed Patrick Harbinson to do the screenplay. Patrick is a British writer but he’s based in Hollywood and has written, directed and produced on several key US TV shows so he’s well-versed in how screen narrative works. Patrick adapted The Mermaids Singing for WITB and he’d written other episodes and he’s always served my work well.
Coastal always involve me in the process, so I was privy to casting discussions. But I was thrilled when we got our dream cast of Juliet Stevenson and Greg Wise. Lee Ingleby was more of an unknown quantity to me, but his performance as the young George Bennett is mesmerising. Juliet Stevenson just won the Best Actress Dagger for her performance, so you can see I’m not alone in loving what they did with the book! It is, I think, a terrific piece of work.

JR: Did you have any input into the screenplay?

VM: I saw every draft and my comments were always welcomed by the script editor. Some of them were acted on, some were not. That’s how it goes and you just have to be relaxed about it.

JR: Were you on set?
VM: I was there on the first day of filming and also at a couple of the period locations. I like to show my face and give the cast and crew my seal of approval. (I like to imagine they care...) But the glamour of filming wears thin very quickly.

JR: Anything strike you as particularly terrific, different or odd in the film adaptation?

VM: I think Patrick’s decision to make Catherine Heathcote a documentary film-maker rather than a journalist was inspired. It made everything about the storytelling visual, which is what good TV needs. And he found an extra twist in the story which I think intensified it for TV in a way that works better in that medium. It would have been too much in the book, but I think it works here.

JR: If you could change anything about the production, what would you change?

VM: It’s honestly impossible for me to think of anything. Well, maybe slightly warmer weather for the outdoor filming! The first day, we had to drive through a blizzard to get to the set.

JR: Any new plans in the works for a film or TV film production of any of your other books?

VM: There has been a French TV adaptation of The Distant Echo which I haven’t seen yet. And there are other things in development but not at a point where I can talk about them.

JR: Have you seen an increase in sales since your books have been filmed for TV?

VM: Definitely. It’s been a very symbiotic relationship – because of my existing success in foreign markets, Coastal have sold their adaptations in countries they wouldn’t normally expect. And then when the TV show appears, my sales rise.

JR: Do you see a difference between The Wire in the Blood series and this latest TV adaptation of Place of Execution?

VM: In terms of tone and style, yes. But not in terms of quality.

JR: Were you involved in Wire in the Blood and in what ways?

VM: Much the same – I was involved in pre-production conversations about directors, actors and writers. And I saw script at every draft. I have very intense discussions with the executive producer Sandra Jobling and Robson Green, the actor who plays Tony Hill. We talk about story and character and how they are going to develop certain things. There’s a good crossover too – one of Carol’s team, Paula, started out on the screen and is now a returning character in the books. The actress is very pleased about that!

And a few more questions to Val McDermid about her writing.

JR: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

VM: Ever since it dawned on me that the books in the library didn’t just appear by magic and that telling stories was a proper job that was what I wanted to do.

JR: What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?

VM: I try to make every book better – or at least different – from the ones that have gone before. Sometimes I wish I could be a little easier on myself. But where would be the fun in that?

JR: What has been your biggest challenge as a person?

VM: Overcoming my natural propensity towards procrastination.

JR: How has your Scottish background shaped or influenced you as a writer?

VM: Hugely. I grew up in the Kingdom of Fife, an area that has always had a very distinct identity. Politically radical, socially conservative. The first ever Communist MP was elected from a Fife constituency. I grew up in a working class mining community in a household where it was recognised that the way to a better life was through education. So I was always encouraged to make the most of my talents but also given the absolute bedrock knowledge that I was as good as anyone else. My father was passionate about the poetry of Robert Burns and he embraced his egalitarianism and passed it on to me.
The Scots are a nation driven by contradictions -- the strict Presbyterian tradition versus the wild Gaelic heritage, meritocracy versus knowing your place, love of the homeland versus the need to go out and change the world. And we have a black sense of humour. All of this is a big part of the reason why I am the way I am.

JR: So you've finally written a football story. I know you've wanted to do this for a long time. Are you a big "football' fan?

VM: Yes. My love of the beautiful game is in my blood. My father would probably have been a professional footballer had he not fallen victim to TB as a young man, and he went on to be a successful talent scout for our local club, Raith Rovers. A few years ago, I was brought on board a rescue mission to save the club, orchestrated by Gordon Brown, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer and President of the Supporters’ Club. Now I’m a major sponsor – this season, we inaugurated the McDermid Stand at the club, in honour of my father’s achievements. And of course, as a nice bit of advertising for my books! My publisher, Little, Brown, also sponsors pitchside advertising boards. I like to get to games when I can and thanks to my iPhone, I can always keep up with match results wherever I am. We’re having a great season this year – we’ve been promoted to the Scottish 1st Division and we’re holding our own.

JR: Which do you prefer to write: stand-alones or series books? Can you say something about the strengths and weaknesses of both, from the writer's perspective?

VM: I enjoy both equally, though I would enjoy the series books less if I didn’t have the diversion of the standalones.
Each form has its own challenges. With a series novel, you carry the baggage of the past. Your core characters limit your storytelling possibilities by the nature of their capabilities and limitations and you have to find a way for them to deal with what you last did to them then move them forward emotionally and/or professionally.
With a standalone, your narrative imagination runs free as far as the story is concerned, because you can tailor credible characters to fit. Of course, once you start to deal with the characters, the same rules of capabilities and limitations start to weigh in and both forms grow closer the further into the process you get.

JR: What's your working day like? How do you manage to juggle family life with the pressures imposed on the bestselling author?

VM: My working day depends on how close I am to deadline. When the finishing line grows close I start around nine in the morning and often don’t finish till one or two in the morning. I only stop to eat and sleep and watch some box-set TV such as The West Wing or Homicide: Life on the Streets. In that phase, I will generally write something between 5,000 and 7,500 words a day. The most I ever wrote in a day was 11,500 words. I had to stop because my hands hurt.
Mostly it’s much less intense. I tailor my work commitments around my family as far as possible. I share custody of my son with my ex and I try very hard not to miss out on the time I have with him. It’s important to keep connected to the people you love, to stay grounded in the real world rather than the one you invent and control!

JR: Which of your books is your favorite and why?

VM: The Mermaids Singing. It was so different from anything I’d ever written before. Its success gave me a fundamental confidence that whatever story was clamouring in my head, I’d find a way to tell it.

JR: Do women write about violence in a different way than men?

VM: I believe so. It’s hard to generalise but I think it works something like this. When women write about violence against women, it will almost inevitably be more terrifying because women grow up knowing that to be female is to be at risk of attack. We write about violence from the inside, from the perspective of the victim. Men, on the other hand, do not grow up with the notion of themselves as potential victims so when they write about it, it’s from the outside.

JR: Has success changed Val McDermid?

VM: In some ways, inevitably. But not, I hope, in any of the ways that matter. I still buy things from the ‘reduced for a quick sale’ section in the supermarket...

JR: Is there a question I didn't ask that you wish I had. Just the question, not necessarily the answer.

VM: ‘Why in heaven’s name did you think that all-terrain quadbiking in the Scottish Highlands was an appropriate holiday pursuit for a fat 54-year-old???’ She said, nursing the bruised ribs and butt and skinned knees...

To read more interviews with Val McDermid, go HERE. To read Ian Rankin's At Home Online interview with Val McDermid, go to the Mystery Readers Journal website.

Place of Execution is available to watch online from November 2 through December 8, 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Mysteries: A List

Mystery Readers Journal has done several theme issues, including one this past year on Crime for the Holidays. My favorite holiday is Halloween, and I have a very long list of mysteries set during Halloween. No surprise! I don't really have enough room to list them all, but thought I'd list a few to get you through the day. This is an updated list from last year.

Green Water Ghost by Glynn Marsh Alam
Witches Bane
by Susan Wittig Albert
Antiques Maul by Barbara Allan
The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin
Death of a Trickster by Kate Borden
Post-Mortem Effects by Thomas Boyle
A Graveyard for Lunatics by Ray Bradbury
The Cat Who.. Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Hunt Ball by Rita Mae Brown
Death on All Hallowe'en by Leo Bruce
Wycliffe and the Scapegoat by W.J. Burley
The Wizard of La-La Land by R. Wright Campbell
Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Ghostly Murders by P. C. Doherty
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Ann Campbell
Frill Kill by Laura Childs
Not in My Backyard by Susan Rogers Cooper
A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford
Silver Scream by Mary Daheim
A Map of the Dark by John Dixon
Died to Match by Deborah Donnelly
Cat with an Emerald Eye by Carole Nelson Douglas
Sympathy For The Devil by Jerrilyn Farmer
Blackwork by Monica Ferris
Halloween Murder by Shelley Freydort
A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling
Trick or Treat by Leslie Glaister
A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling
Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood
Quoth the Raven by Jane Haddam
Revenge of the Cootie Girls by Sparkle Hayter
The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman
Long Time No See by Susan Isaacs
Murder Among Us by Jonnie Jacobs
Ghastly Glass by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery by Ed McBain
Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McEvett
Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier
Nightmare in Shining Armor by Tamar Myers
Halloween House by Ed Okonowicz
The Body in the Moonlight by Katherine Hall Page
Twilight by Nancy Pickard
Murder at Witches Bluff by Silver Ravenwolf
A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts
Murder Ole! by Corinne Holt Sawyer
Dance of the Scarecrows by Ray Sipherd
Murder of a Royal Pain by Denise Swanson
Mourning Shift by Kathleen Taylor
Inked Up by Terri Thayer
Charlie's Web by L.L. Thrasher
Strange Brew by Kathy Hogan Trochek
The Scarecrow Murders by Mary Welk
Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells
All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien

Short story mavens don't worry: Here's a list of Halloween Mystery Short Stories:
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

Not enough? Get out your Edgar Allen Poe and reread "The Telltale Heart". Not quite Halloween, but in the spirit are any number of horror books or Vampire Books including Les Klinger's Annotated Dracula.


Virtual Mystery Convention

Because of prior commitments, I wasn't able to join Poisoned Pen Press' Webcon, the first live mystery convention, this past Saturday, October 24.

I've heard so many positive comments from so many 'attendees.' Sounds like a good and informative time was had by all.

To read more about the ups and downs of this virtual convention, go to The Rap Sheet where Mary Reed, one of the event's organizers, tells her 'side of the story.' First time out is always a learning experience, and I look forward to joining this group next time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Libations

Lots of fun Halloween libations to drink while reading your favorite Halloween Mysteries:


Chateau Du Vampire Bordeaux Style Cabernet Blend (Vampire Vineyards – Paso Robles, California): blend of cabernet sauvignon (60%) with cabernet franc (30%), and 10% malbec to finish it off.

Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon (Vampire vineyards – Paso Robles, California): Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from several small-berry clones of this traditional Bordeaux varietal, grown in the Paso Robles region of California’s Central Coast.

Dracula wines: Zinfandel and Syrah (originally the grapes for this wine were grown on the Transylvanian plateau, now they're made from California grapes.

Trueblood Napa Valley Syrah: This wine will "bruise your soul" with its palate crushing cherry, plum smoke and spice.

Ghost Block: 100% cabernet from Rock Cairn Vineyard in Oakville, next to Yountville's Pioneer Cemetery.

River of Skulls from Twisted Oak Winery in Calaveras County. Limited production vineyard mouvedre (red wine grape). Label has a bright red skull. English translation of calveras is "skulls."

Ghostly White Chardonnay and Bone Dry Red Cabernet Sauvignon. Elk Creek Vineyards in Kentucky

Poizin from Armida Winery in Healdsburg is a 'wine to die for..". This Zinfandel sold in little wooden coffins

Big Monster from NV. Red wine made from Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah. Great label (horror movie poster)

For more fun Deadly Wines, go to Celebrate Wine. Other labels include Leelanau Cellars Witches Brew, Evil (upside down and backwards label), Owen Roe Sinister Hand, Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad, Zeller Schwarz Katz.

Want to give the personal touch to your Halloween wines? Add ghoulish labels or rebottle in cool jars with apothecary labels from Pottery Barn (or do them yourself). For a great article, go to Spooky Halloween Bottle & Glass Labels.

Don't forget some bloody toasts!

Other libations

How to Create a Fog Effect for Your Halloween Punch from
Dry Ice turns an ordinary party punch into a spooky Halloween brew.
Start with 2 punch bowls of different sizes. The smaller bowl will hold the actual punch while the larger bowl will hold the smaller bowl and the dry ice.
With tongs or gloved hands (dry ice can freeze your skin), place chunks of dry ice in the bigger container. Place the smaller bowl on top of the dry ice.

There is no need to add extra ice to the punch as the dry ice will cool the punch nicely.
Just before serving, pour some hot water over the dry ice. Continue to add hot water and dry ice as needed.

Be very careful when using dry ice! Handle only with tongs or heavy gloves!
Do NOT put the dry ice directly in the punch or touch it with bare skin. It Will Burn! Dry Ice should also NOT be ingested.

Black Martini

One of the best cocktails for Halloween is the Black Martini that replaces vermouth with either blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur, so that it will have a black color.

3 1/2 oz gin or vodka
1/2 oz blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur
lemon twist or black olive for garnish or gold flakes

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist or black olive or sprinkle in gold flakes, like the image above.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Halloween Haunts and Tombstone Tours

More Halloween Haunts and Tombstone Tours. I love to visit cemeteries on my travels. The dead tell us so much about the living, and so much about the history of the place where they found their eternal rest. Many cemeteries have beautiful gardens, architecture, monuments and most of all serenity. Every city has some kind of old, historic and beautiful cemetery, so be sure and check into it before you go or while you're there.

My favorite local cemetery is Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA which also has the fabulous Arts & Crafts Julia Morgan Chapel of the Chimes. The grounds of Mountain View Cemetery are beautiful, and its famous for its incredible display of tulips throughout the cemetery in March (not Halloween). The Cemetery was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed New York's Central Park, Capitol Grounds in Washington DC, Stanford University and Yosemite Park. It's also the resting place of famous movers and shakers of the Western Landscape including Charles Crocker, Julia Morgan, Henry J. Kaiser, Frank Norris, Bernard Maybeck and Thomas Hill.

New Orleans: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Founded in 1789, just outside the French Quarter, this is possibly the best cemetery in the U.S. All of the cemeteries together make-up an incredible City of the Dead since the above ground tombs look like houses. The Greek Revival tomb of Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo queen, is in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Bring beads, flowers, candles, and trinkets to leave there. Be sure and take a tour. It's not safe wandering on your own. Other New Orleans cemeteries: Lake Lawn Cemetery (Garden District) and Lafayette Cemetery. For more on New Orleans Cemeteries, go HERE.

New York: Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery dates back to 1838. 560,000 permanent residents include Boss Tweed, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Leonard Bernstein. Great views, landscaping, art, architecture and history. There's also a colony of green monk parakeets. I'm not the only person who visits cemeteries: by 1860 Green-Wood was attracting 500,000 visitors a year, rivaling Niagara Falls as the country's greatest tourist attraction.

Cleveland: Lake View Cemetery has the James A. Garfield Monument honoring the U.S. President who was assassinated in 1881. There's a 180 foot tower, marble statue and mosaics of his life and death, with a view of the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie from the upper balcony of the monument. Famous Memorials: 65 ft. obelisk marking John D. Rockefeller's grave, and a monument to Eliot Ness. The interior of the must-see Wade Chapel was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his studio. Opened in 1869, it was modeled after garden cemeteries of England and France.

Los Angeles: So many stars to 'see.' Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. Marilyn Monroe, Burt Lancaster, Natlaie Wood, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin, Frank Zappa, Truman Capote. Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills: Lucille Ball, Bette Davis Liberace, Stan Laurel, Gene Autry. Forest Lawn Glendale: Michael Jackson. Check out: Where the Stars are Buried. Hollywood Forever: Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks.

Paris. Pere Lachaise I've written about Pere Lachaise before, mainly because it's one of my favorite places to visit in Paris. With over 118 acres and close to several metro stops, I love to visit the graves of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein, and Jim Morrison. This cemetery was the model for all rural cemeteries built in the U.S. from 1831 on.

Cambridge, MA. Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Founded in 1831, it was the first large-scaled designed landscape open to the public. MA. Buckminster Fuller, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, B.F. Skinner. Winslow Homer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Bernard Malamud.

Boston: The Old Granary Burying Ground. Est. in 1660. Graves of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams,

Venice. San Michele. Located on an island, nicknamed, "isle of the dead." There are no living people there which makes it a quiet retreat when visiting Venice. Lovely landscaping with tall cypress trees with lots of headstones in a bit of a jumble. Ezra Pound, Igor Stravinsky.

Prague: Old Jewish Cemetery. Another cemetery that I've been to and written about before. From the 15th century. All the gravestones slant in different directions.

Buenos Aires: La Recoleta Cemetery. Incredible crypts. Lots of feral cats. Presidents, sports figures, authors. And, of course, its most famous denizen: Eva Peron. Elegant and quiet place.

One can't list Famous Cemeteries for Halloween without mentioning the Memorial Grave of Edgar Allan Poe, the Father of the Mystery Story, in Baltimore, MD. I finally got there last year when Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention) was held in Baltimore.

Surf the web for some great walking tours of these and other cemeteries and special events on Halloween and Day of the Dead.

Did I mention I was mugged in Havana's Columbus Cemetery on the Day of the Dead? Be careful out there. The residents may be harmless, but the living are lethal.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween Non-Fiction

Halloween Non-Fiction

Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration Of Fun, Food, And Frolics From Halloweens Past by Diane C. Arkins
Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne
Sundays with Vlad: From Pennsylvania to Transylvania, One Man’s Quest to Live in the World of the Undead by Paul Bibeau
October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween edited by Richard Chizmar and Robert Moorish
The Pagan Book of Halloween by Gerina Dunwich
Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock
The True History of Halloween by Kurt LeRoy
The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year by Jean Markale
The Halloween Handbook by Ed Morrow
The Halloween Encyclopedia by Lisa Morton
The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula by Eric Nuzum
Halloween: Customs, Recipes & Spells by Silver RavenWolf
Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night by Nicholas Rogers
Death Makes a Holiday by David J. Skal

If you're wondering, I will still have my Halloween Mystery List! I'll blog soon.

Halloween: Creepy Places to Visit

Thanks to Bill Crider for a link to this Creepy site of Horror,, just in time for Halloween.

This entry lists books and movies every horror fan should look at, own, or add to the library. Emphasis here is on horror. Read the entire post for more info and well done reviews of the books and movies.

Here's a sampling of Creepy Places to Visit

Creepy Crawls: A Horror Fiend's Travel Guide by Leon Marcelo
Ghostly Ruins: Amreica's Forgotten Architecture by Harry Skrdla
Shadows Over New England by David & Scott Goudsward
The Weird State series (I own Weird California, of course, but I saw Weird Indiana at the airport last week after Bouchercon)
Sir Simon Marsden: The Haunted Realm, A Ghosthunter's Journal, etc.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More CWA Awards

Interesting that CWA (Crime Writers Association) spaces out its awards over several months.

CWA Gold Dagger: William Brodrick for A Whispered Name

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: John Hart for The Last Child

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger:
Johan Theorin for Echoes from The Dead.

The evening, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, was hosted by comedian Alan Davies. The culmination of a six-week season of ITV3 crime and drama programming, the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009 will be televised on ITV3 on Tuesday, 27th October at 9pm.

For the Best Information on All the Awards, go to THE RAP SHEET.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sophie Hannah at A Great Good Place for Books

I know there are a lot of booksignings coming up, but I thought I'd alert you to one tomorrow (October 21) at a wonderful independent bookstore with a great mystery section: A Great Good Place For Books in Montclair Village (Oakland, CA).

Sophie Hannah, author of The Wrong Mother and Little Face, will read from her new book at 7 p.m. October 21. This past Sunday, I saw Sophie in Indianapolis at Bouchercon, and I can assure you she's a good speaker and a great reader...not to mention a talented writer and poet.

Sophie Hannah is a crime fiction writer and poet. Her psychological thrillers Little Face, Hurting Distance and The Point of Rescue have sold in the UK, and are also published or about to be published in America (not all available in the U.S.), Portugal, Spain, Norway, Turkey, Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Croatia, Italy, Germany, France, Holland, Bulgaria and Romania, with several more foreign rights deals under negotiation.

Sophie’s fifth collection of poetry, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 TS Eliot Award, and in 2004 she won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets.

From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. She is thirty-six and lives in West Yorkshire with her husband and two children.

A Great Good Place for Books
6120 LaSalle Avenue
Oakland, California 94611

Monday, October 19, 2009

31 Places Around the World to Go for Halloween: Real and Creepy

Julie Blakley on BootsnAllTravel has a great article on 31 Places to Go for Halloween. These are really spooky places all over the world. I'm a big cemetery go-er, so I'm glad to be able to add these places to my 'must-see' list. It would be great to go on Halloween, as you'll read, but you can 'enjoy' these places all year round!

Read the entire article. I loved it!

1. Mummy Museum, Guanajuato, Mexico
2. St. Michan’s Church, Dublin, Ireland
3. Catacombs of Paris, France (Been there)
4. Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic (Been there, sad, as well as creepy knowing what became of this community)
5. San Bernardino Ossuary, Milan, Italy
6. Bhangarh, India (been there)
7. Dia de los Muertos Celebration, Oaxaca, Mexico (on my Bucket List)
8. Sedlec Ossuary, near Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
9. Feng-Du “Ghost City,” China
10. Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France (my favorite place in Paris)
11. Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle), Romania
12. Fremantle Prison, Australia
13. Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh, Scotland
14. Rose Great Hall House, Montego Bay, Jamaica
15. La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
16. Manchac Swamp, Louisiana, United States
17. Haunted Well of Himeji Castle, Japan
18. Ballygally Castle, Ireland
19. Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, Australia
20. Capuchin Crypt, Rome, Italy (Been there/loved it!)
21. Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England
The famous Brown Lady photo
The famous Brown Lady photo
22. The Chase Vault at Christ Church, Barbados
23. The Hellfire Tunnels and Caves, West Wycombe, England
24. Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa
25. Old Changi Hospital, Singapore
26. Salem, Massachusetts, United States
27. Ossuary in Hallstatt, Austria
28. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, United States ( I was there before The Shining!)
29. Valley of the Kings, Egypt
30. New Orleans, Louisiana, United States (especially the above ground cemeteries)*
31. Bell Witch Cave, Tennessee, United States

So much to see... all about the Dead...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shamus Awards

The Private Eye Writers of America present the Shamus Awards every year at the PWA dinner during Bouchercon. This years emotions were running wild in anticipation... o.k. some people were nervous. So without further ado, the winners of the Shamus Awards are:

Best Hardcover: Empty Ever After by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House Books)

Best First P.I. Novel: In the Heat by Ian Vasquez (St. Martin’s Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original: Snow Blind by Lori Armstrong (Medallion)

Best Short Story: “Family Values” by Mitch Alderman (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine [AHMM], June 2008)

PWA/St. Martin’s Best First Private Eye Novel contest (for an unpublished first P.I. novel): Michael Ayoob for Shots on Goal.

The Hammer Award for Best Character: Lawrence Block’s series private eye, Matthew Scudder.

The Eye (Lifetime Achievement) Award: Robert J. Randisi, author and PWA founder.

For the full list of nominees, go here.

Anthony Awards: Bouchercon 2009

The final Awards during this fabulous Bouchercon convention in Indianapolis were presented this afternoon at the beautiful Hilbert Circle Theatre by Toastmaster S.J. Rozan. Stand up comedy must be her other profession. This was one of the funniest presentations I can remember.

Anthony Awards

Best Novel: The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)

Best First Novel: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)

Best Paperback Original: State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy (Berkley)

Best Short Story: “A Sleep Not Unlike Death” by Sean Chercover (from Hardcore Hardboiled, edited by Todd Robinson; Kensington Publishing)

Best Critical Non-fiction Work: Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography by Jeffrey Marks (McFarland & Company)

Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein (Random House)

Best Cover Art: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo designed by Peter Mendelsund and written by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)

Special Services Award: Jon and Ruth Jordan

For the complete list of the nominees, see The Rap Sheet. You're also going to enjoy their Eye on Bouchercon reports.

Photo credit: Novelist and Rap Sheet contributor Mark Coggins. See his Flickr Photostream here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Mystery Awards

There were lots of mystery awards given out at Bouchercon last night, besides Mystery Readers International's Macavity Awards. For the first time, the Derringer Awards were part of the ceremonies. Jim Doherty, one of the original members of Mystery Readers International presented.

The Derringer Awards

Best Flash Story (up to 1,000 words): tie--“No Flowers for Stacey,” by Ruth McCarty (Deadfall: Crime Stories by New England Writers; Level Best Books); and “No Place Like Home,” by Dee Stuart (Mysterical-E)

Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words):“The Cost of Doing Business,” by Michael Penncavage (published in ThugLit)

Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words):“The Quick Brown Fox,” by Robert S. Levinson (published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)

Best Novelette (8,001 to 17,500 words):“Too Wise,” by O’Neil De Noux (published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

2009 Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for Lifetime Achievement: Clark Howard

Jon Jordan of Crimespree presented the CrimeSpree Awards:


Favorite Book of 2008: Trigger City, by Sean Chercover (Morrow)

Best Book in an Ongoing Series: Chasing Darkness , by Robert Crais (Simon & Schuster)

Favorite Comics Writer: Brian Azzarello

Favorite Original Paperback: Money Shot , by Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime)

Favorite Mystery Bookstore: Once Upon a Crime, Minneapolis

And the Jack Reacher Award went to William Kent Krueger

George Easter then presented the

Barry Awards

Best Novel: The Draining Lake, by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur)

Best First Novel: Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central)

Best British Novel: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (MacLehose/Quercus)

Best Paperback Original: State of the Onion, by Julie Hyzy (Berkley)

Best Thriller: The Deceived, by Brett Battles (Delacorte)

Best Short Story: “The Drought,” by James O. Born (from The Blue Religion, edited by Michael Connelly; Little, Brown)

Don Sandstrom Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mystery Fandom: Art Scott

A fun night was had by all. Lots of celebrating later in the Bar.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Macavity Awards

I just presented the Macavity Awards for mystery works published in 2008. I'm in Indianapolis for Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. Great turn out for the Awards--and a wonderful line-up of nominees.

And, the winners are:

Best Mystery Novel: Where Memories Lie by Deborah Crombie (Wm. Morrow)

Best First Mystery: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)

Best Nonfiction/Critical: African American Mystery Writers: A Historical & Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey (McFarland)

Best Mystery Short Story: "The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron (Wolfsbane & Mistletoe, ed. by Harris & Kelner, Penguin)

Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery: A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)

Congratulations to all!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Interview with the Interviewer: David Cole

David Cole has been conducting great interviews with Cool Canadian Crime Writers on this Blog for several months now, and I thought it was time that I interview David. I think some of what makes David Cole such a great guy and good writer shines through in his answers. For the rest, you'll need to meet him in person. I'm so happy to call David my friend.

Janet Rudolph: The first question I have to ask is why did you choose to interview Canadian authors?

David Cole: I don’t have a simple answer, but the friendships I’ve made and maintained with many Canadians is a major factor. And their mystery conference, Bloody Words, is another huge plus. Bloody Words is like the best of smaller American cons; Left Coast Crime and Mayhem in the Midlands come to mind. Smaller conferences, intimate sessions, great bar and restaurant group discussions. This is not to say that I don’t have many US mystery author and fan friends; somehow, being in Canada seems more . . . I’m groping for a word here, perhaps . . . civilized. This is in no way to suggest that US and international writers aren’t civilized; but somehow large US mystery conferences like Bouchercon tend more toward rewarding recognized authors.

A huge caveat here - please do not read this as though I’m disregarding or disrespecting in any way the vast majority of US authors and fans I’ve met in the past twelve years. What I say about Canadians most definitely applies to others; I’m only speaking of my friendships and influences of the past ten years and trying to figure out why I do, indeed, enjoy Canadian authors so much.

While some Canadian authors are as adept as writing about violence as US and international authors, Canadian authors place a stronger emphasis on character. Yes, there’s a crime, usually a murder and often by poison (seemingly archaic, as though we’re back in Agatha Christie days), and then the book seriously probes character of both protagonists and location (village to city).

At the last Bloody Words conference, I startled my audience by listing all the ways I’d slaughtered people in my books and the conversation somewhat inevitably shifted to the overarching seriousness of US crime, violence, drugs, and vigilante/loner cops. (I love Michael Connelly, but really, Bosch’s character has major aspects of a vigilante/loner, despite working in a major US police force.) It’s as though US law enforcement and political organizations are inefficient, incapable and unimpressive in their jobs. Just reflect a bit on how corruption works so well in US mysteries. How many authors aren’t, shall we say, kind to such major institutions as the FBI?

Finally, I must mention how really outgoing Canadian authors are, especially when it comes to helping beginning writers. (Read the recent tributes about the wonderful and very popular Lyn Hamilton; she was enormously giving in advice and encouragement.)

JR: You’re a member of CWC, but you live in the U.S. Tell us something about CWC and why you’re a member and the extent of your membership?

DC: I live only three hours from Ottawa, four from Toronto or Montreal. Ottawa is dear to my heart. Their mystery writer’s group, Capital Crime Writers, is astonishing in size, ambition, talent and just plain excitement. (Other writing genres, eg. romance, also have big groups here. By contrast, Syracuse - where I live most of the year, has many well known writers but no central writer’s organization.) Through the past seven years I’ve become great friends with more than a dozen Ottawa mystery writers, including Barbara Fradkin, Mary Jane Maffini, Tom Curran, Alex Brett, Linda Wiken (who runs a wonderful bookstore Prime Time Crime), oh I’m leaving out so many names here.

I first joined CWC (Crime Writers of Canada) because of these wonderful people, but quickly grew to enjoy the near constant stream of CWC emails about book signings all over Canada, author news, all kinds of semi-weekly and up-to-date professional information that I’m just not accustomed to getting from other groups.

JR: Are you a member of any other professional writing groups?

DC: MWA, Sisters in Crime, and until recently Private Eye Writers of America (I stopped only because I’m no longer interested in writing PI books).

JR: Why do you set your mysteries in Southern Arizona? Do you consider yourself a regional author?

DC: I love the desert, I love southern Arizona. But most of all, this region so vividly represents major aspects of US crime and politics. It’s not just the starkness of the desert itself, it’s the border between Mexico and the US, a border which - despite government claims of “fences” and security against drugs/immigrants - is immensely porous. Drugs of all kinds stream over the border, up along a major highway through Tucson, into Phoenix, and then around the US.

Illegal immigrants, or undocumented workers, brings out the worst in many people, but also the best in others who provide free water stations in the merciless desert.

Native Americans also play a large factor in why I write about this area. My first book, Butterfly Lost, tells in part the antagonism between Hopi and Navajo, which I expanded to border issues with my succeeding books.

JR: Why do you choose to write in the first person with a female protagonist?
DC: Ah, damn good question, and I don’t have a simple answer. When writing Butterfly Lost, I waffled between first and third person, male and female major characters. Ultimately, I find women more interesting as people than men, and I was hugely influenced by Carol Gilligan’s classic study In A Different Voice posed a simple question to young men and women. A wife lies dying, needing a special drug to live. The husband finds a drugstore that carries the life-giving potion, but has neither the required prescription or money to get it. What does he do?

To simplify Gilligan’s answer (my apologies), men generally say they’d rob the drugstore, while women would return home to talk over the problem with friends and family. From this (again, apologies for simplifying the explanation), Gilligan created the gender constructs of ladder and web. Men sought solutions in the hierarchy of climbing to a specific and desired result. Women wove a web of relationships, seeking guidance and hopefully the best answer.

Once I settled on my character as Laura Winslow, not Larry Winslow, I wrote at high speed.

JR: The Laura Winslow mysteries seem to also represent a different subgenre from Thriller to whodunit to classical mystery. Did you set about to this on purpose?

DC: Now that’s an interesting observation. Alas, it most probably represents my mind creating myriad plots and subplots, with corresponding characters and solutions. As I recently skimmed through my books, I discovered that my approach to my latest novel has changed significantly: plots are more straightforward, still politically charged but not so many threads to weave into a book. I think in my earlier books I tried too hard to “solve” too many unsolvable political problems, with a resulting distraction that didn’t keep the plot moving in a straight line.

In my defense, I’d have to also say that I’m enormously right-brained, at times highly visual and even symbolically complex to the point of knowing my own mind in a left-brain, linear sense. My biggest help/support from friends and fans has been to help me focus on less symbolically and metaphorically flooded imagery and, at times, whole chapters.

Also, I’ve hardly a simple, positive answer to criminal and political problems; my tendency was to at least bring them up with scattered suggestions on resolution. I think this question/answer is probably as much out to sea as what I’m trying to explain.

JR: Your books deal with different tribes of Native Americans. Why and in what ways are you involved with Native Americans?

DC: I’m co-creator and contributor to, an online database dealing with native peoples of the world. NativeWeb started fifteen years ago as a Native American website, quickly expanding to First Nations peoples of Canada and then to ethnic/native groups in Central and South America. Avoiding politics, NativeWeb was selected by NEH as one of their original 21 top Humanities sites on the internet. Alas, with Google’s popularity, specialized websites aren’t much needed any more.

JR: You’re a Renaissance man. You were in the theatre world for 20 years. Tell us about that and has your involvement in theatre influenced your writing? Did you always want to be a writer?

DC: Since I was seven, I think, which was during World War II (yeah, I’m that old). I wrote a story about US and Japanese fighter pilots, and I vividly recall being embarrassed when my dad found the story and asked me what the Japanese pilot “got it in the guts.” Several years later, I submitted my first ever short story to Boy’s Life, thereupon beginning decades of rejection slips.

My ex-wife, a Broadway actress, got me seriously interested in writing plays. My biggest success turned out to be street theatre against the Viet Nam war, staged around the San Francisco Bay Area.

JR: Has your intense personal interest in politics entered into your writing?
DC: 100%. All life is political.

JR: You began writing mystery novels at 61. Why so late and why mysteries?

DC: Notwithstanding earlier years at short stories and plays, never really fruitful, I began writing mystery novels because I have Post Polio Syndrome. (Some 30+ years after the original disease, nearly all polio patients have to readjust their bodies because of an as-yet unknown decrease in muscle ability.) Simply put, I had to figure out what I could do for life satisfaction, and of course enjoyment, in later years when my physical abilities slowly weakened. I tried several serious plays after moving to New York, but a friend and Off-Broadway dramaturg said not quite gently to me, this ain’t a play. So go write a movie or a book.

At that time, in the late ‘80s, mysteries were really hot sellers. I wanted to write political novels but was told I’d never get an agent. So “mysteries” became fortune cookies I’d wrap around political themes. If the reader wanted to ignore the politics and just read the book, ok with me.

JR: It’s been 4 years since publishing your seventh book, Falling Down. Any plans for another Laura Winslow?

DC: Very little., a short story featuring Laura, will be published next year in Indian Country Noir, Akashic books. She may come back as a minor character in another book,.

JR: What other fiction are you writing now?

DC: Ransom My Soul, a thriller in progress, features a male detective in the Tucson Police Force who’s also a two-time Iraq war Marine veteran. The novel deals with the methamphetamine pandemic in Arizona, as well as crises in real estate and private banking that lead to major criminal activities

JR: You’ve begun a non-fiction project about women in law enforcement. Tell us about the project. How are you researching it? What’s the focus? Anything unique come across your desk or email since you began this project?

DC: This is a long term project with a working title The Blue Ceiling. Over the years, I’ve come to know many women in all branches of law enforcement: city, state, and federal. A year ago I was stunned to learn about deep gender bias in many law enforcement organizations. I did a study of “cop” books and discovered that 90% of them either deal with men or, more dramatically, just “cops” while never mentioning gender differences. For example, pregnancy is a key issue that is still not entirely protected at all levels from federal down to city. This forces many women not to publicly announce their pregnancies until later months; once they announce, they’re often shoved off to some peripheral duty, if not openly dismissed.

So far I’ve gathered preliminary stories from nearly two dozen women, many of them friends, ranging from detective to assistant police chief to federal prosecutors. I’m currently setting up securing software systems so women can blog, discuss, and otherwise share experiences without fear of being discovered. Lest you think they’re paranoid about the security, talk it over privately with a law enforcement woman you know well. This is all ways around a non-profit, long-range project; I’ve no real idea where it’s going in the early stages.

JR: Why do you strongly believe there's a seismic shift from print to e-books/e-pub.

DC: I don’t think it’s anywhere near “seismic” yet, but the e-universe is abuzz. A distinguished Harvard librarian wrote recently there are roughly four historical phases of writing (and by extension, libraries): the onset of written texts; the introduction of a “codex,” that is, a “book” with separately numbered pages; the printing press and the means of mass and mechanical book distribution; the Internet.

Clearly, we’re in that fourth stage. But nobody truly knows where we’re going. Nothing is yet shaking out. Fads like Facebook and Twitter appeal for a while then lose favor. Where I most understand the dimensions of this “shift” is the blog “comment” asked for by most online news sources; anybody, that is, any person, can create a login name and then write any kind of comment. At its worst, this open grasping for comment from readers produces intensely political nonsense, often in scathing language.

Newspapers and magazines always feature “letters to the editor.“ My worst imagined scenario is that one day I’ll open The New York Times to discover that the entire newspaper, front to back, consists of blogged/emailed "letters.” Print and TV news is already shifting this way.

Look around, kids. Print newspapers disappear every month; publisher’s print books are down again in a recent study; e-readers like Kindle appeal to many readers who despite their love of print books (ah, the smell of a new book, that delicious tiny crack of a spine) already have a few thousand books on hand with no storage space left. Libraries are understaffed, underfunded, and unable to provide reference assistance that competes with Google and hundreds of online specialized databases. As a published author, I have real concerns about some aspects of Google’s stated goal of digitizing nearly every book out there once it becomes unavailable or the copyright expires.

Self-publishing, or vanity press, used to be the last refuge of authors with a book and no publisher. Overwhelmingly, these books didn’t much reflect literary talent. Now, I regularly hear stories of truly inexpensively published or POD books, quite often of quality.

JR: Are there any writers who have influenced you in your writing and in your life?

DC: Oh god, we have no space for that. Two examples. My favorite book is One Hundred Years of Solitude. If I’m allowed only two contemporary mystery authors on that hypothetical desert island, I’d treasure T. Jefferson Parker, especially his Merci Rayborn trilogy. In a single paragraph, James Lee Burke can describe a person or place as well as any living writer.

JR: Where did you learn to dance?

DC: Ah. The one true regret of life after my polio years. Stricken at 17, I was dancing before I could really walk; of course in those days we hung on to our partners. I would so dearly love to boogie; occasionally I weep with the certain knowledge it’s beyond me forever.

JR: Nothing is beyond you, David, and I've seen you boogie!

JR: Any question I didn’t ask that you’d like to answer? Just the answer. Keep us guessing!

DC: In order, one two three. Petra (in Jordan); Northern Thailand; Galapagos Islands.

Mysteries Set at Conventions

As I get ready for Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention) that will take place in Indianapolis this week, I thought a short list of Mysteries Set during Conventions would be appros pro. Hoping nothing like the events that happen is these books will take place in Indianapolis.

We'll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews
Murder at the ABA by Isaac Asimov
Bell, Book and Scandal by Jill Churchill
The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman
Kill Your Darlings by Max Allan Collins
The Maltese Manuscript by Joanne Dobson
The Anglo-Irish Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Beaned in Boston: Murder at a Finance Convention by Gail. E. Farrelly
Don't Blame the Snake by Tony Fennelly
Crewel Yule by Monica Ferris
Bury the Bishop by Kate Gallison
Mr. Monk in Outer Space by Lee Goldberg
The Christie Caper by Carolyn G. Hart
Living Proof by John Harvey
A Conventional Corpse by Joan Hess
Murder at the MLA by DJH Jones
Which Big Giver Stole the Chopped Liver? by Sharon Kahn
Masquerade by William X. Kienzle
Emily Dickinson is Dead by Jane Langton
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet
Killer Market by Margaret Maron
Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb
Die for Love by Elizabeth Peters
The Edith Wharton Murders by Lev Raphael
Kingdom of Lies by Lee Wood

SS: "Murder at Sleuthfest" by Barb Goffman in Chesapeake Crimes II.

One of my favorite movies (not a mystery) set during a convention is Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen and Tony Shalhoub. This takes place during a Fan Convention for a TV Show, Galaxy Quest. Incredibly funny.

My list is incomplete, I'm sure, and I welcome additions (and deletions)!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Stuart Kaminsky: R.I.P.

Stuart Kaminsky, a former Grandmaster of the Mystery Writers of America and author of many mystery series and stand-alone novels, died today at the age of 75.

His daughter, Tasha Kaminsky, wrote the following note on Facebook today:

I'm posting with great sadness. My father passed away peacefully October 9, 2009. My mother, Enid Perll, and I, encourage you to donate to a charity of your choice in his name. He also strongly supported the United Negro College Fund, Hospice Care, Congregation Shaare Zedek (St. Louis, Mo) and Congregation Temple Beth Shalom (Sarasota, Fl). I will be checking his facebook consistently for months to come and answering questions to the best of my ability. Thank you for your well wishes and prayers.

I am so saddened by this that I will need some time to gather my thoughts. I'll post more tomorrow about his life and work.

Read more at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

Book Club Truths

I've been in the same mystery book club for more years than many of you have been around. We meet every Tuesday night from September through June. We meet at my home, so it's easy for me to get there every Tuesday. Most of the members have been in the group for years, too, but we always find new people. We have our own rules, and sometime soon I'll elucidate. Every book club is different. I love mine.

I follow The Inkwell Bookstore Blog because it has great postings, lots of links to other bookish blogs and "Inkwellian" links. Today on The Inkwell Bookstore Blog "Your second (maybe third?) choice for Daily Book News, Reviews, Praise & Slander" there was a list of 7 Basic, Bilious Book Club Truths. Thought people might find this amusing or spot on. Feel free to add comments.

1. He who talks first never read the book.

2. No matter how long you give your members to read the book, 99% will finish it on book club night.

3. You want zero members to drop out? Provide free food. You want to attract new members? Provide free booze.

4. At the first meeting, make it a rule: We are not here to point out minor editing errors. Save that sh*t for your OCD self-help group.

5. Relying on the 'Book Club Questions' at the back of a book is like using fortune cookie quotes for dinner conversation -- dull and uninspired.

6. If an established author visits, one member will inevitably tell them what they could've/should've done differently with the book. This same member will later try to pimp their manuscript.

7. Last but not least, book clubs are like any other club -- they need some sort of leadership. If your members disagree, make the next book club pick Lord of the Flies...and bring a pig's head to the meeting.

The 'club books not seals' tee is available HERE.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ken Bruen wins Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière 2009

I'm a faithful reader of Peter Rozovsky's Detectives Beyond Borders: A Forum for International Crime Fiction (and you should be, too), and I'm really glad because I might have missed this.

Ken Bruen has won the Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière 2009 for La main droite du diable, the French translation of his novel Priest. I thought Priest was one of the best books I read last year, and I have Ken to thank for sending me a personal copy. I got to read it before it hit the states. Read Peter Rozovsky's review of Priest.

The Grand Prix de Littérature Policière is a French literary prize founded in 1948 by author and literary critic Maurice-Bernard Endrèbe. It is the most prestigious award for crime and detective fiction in France. Two prizes are awarded annually to the best French novel and to the best international crime novel published in that year.

Check out the list of previous winners here.

Congratulations, Ken!!!

Peter Rozovsky will be moderating a panel at Bouchercon (World Mystery Convention) in Indianapolis next week on Thursday morning. LOST IN TRANSLATION? Translators and writers discuss the challenges of translating the crime novel with Steven T. Murray, Tiina Nunnally, Robert Pepin, & Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The Criminalist: Sarah Weinman

In case you haven't seen the news, Sarah Weinman, blogger at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind has a new column, The Criminalist, for the Barnes & Noble Review. She says the column is "to talk about new books that I love and hope others will love as well, and to shine a light on unjustly neglected books and authors from the past. My focus will always be crime, but it might not always be fiction, nor always for adults, nor books entirely in prose."

Her first column starts with a review of Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, first published in 1978. She says that it's the first piece in an unofficial series on crime fiction published in the 70s which she sees as a decade of transition.

Sarah Weinman also writes "Dark Passages", a monthly online crime fiction column for the Los Angeles Times.

I'm looking forward to the new column.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thirty Second Annual Black Orchid Banquet

The Nero Wolfe Literary Society presents the Thirty Second Annual Black Orchid Banquet
and Nero Award for the Best American Mystery

December 4, 5, & 6, 2008

The packed schedule will include a Friday night book discussion/media viewing, Saturday's Assembly and Black Orchid Banquet, and a Sunday brunch.

Weekend events will begin on Friday evening, December 4, at 6:30 p.m. Book Discussion accompanied by viewing of a televised version of PRISONER'S BASE (1952). Moderator will be the Werowance Emeritus, Jonathan Levine. This event will take place in a private room at historic Pete's Tavern at the corner of Irving Place and E. 18th Street in Manhattan. Price includes buffet dinner and limited drinks.

Saturday, December 5, at 2:00 p.m. is the afternoon Assembly with a varied array of speakers on Wolfe-related themes, including Ira Matetsky's discussion of the recent discovery of several Wolfe stories with different endings in the books from those in the original magazine versions. Even if you think you've read the entire Corpus, you will hear some paragraphs of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe that you have never read before! The Assembly will be held at the Hotel Jolly Madison Towers, Madison Avenue and E. 38th Street.

Saturday evening starting at 6:30 p.m. and 7:15, the Thirty-Second annual Black Orchid Banquet, also at the Hotel Jolly Madison Towers, will feature:

Cocktail "hour" with cash bar stating at 6:30 p.m. (For those looking to relax between the Assembly and the Banquet, a comfortable bar/lounge is located in the hotel lobby.)
Banquet starting at 7:15 p.m., based upon recipes inspired by The Nero Wolfe Cookbook and the Corpus
Keynote Speech by a well-known fan of the Nero Wolfe novels
Presentation of this year's Nero Award for best American mystery. Nero Award winner is planning to attend in person to accept his or her award
The inevitable quizzes and toasts, including some based on our theme this year, the 75th anniversary of the first Nero Wolfe novel, FER-DE-LANCE (1934)

Sunday Brunch on December 6 will begin at 12:00 noon. Festivities include audio-visual screenings of various Nero Wolfe related items including rare interviews/ footage with Rex Stout and his sister, noted gardener, Ruth Stout. Like the book discussion, the brunch will take place in a private room at Pete's Tavern, Irving Place at 18th Street.

For more information and registration, go to:

The 2009 Nero Wolfe Award Finalists
The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross (Harper Collins)
The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller (MIRA)
The Fault Tree by Louise Ure (Minotaur Books)