Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper: R.I.P.

Dennis Hopper died today at the age of 74.

Hopper, who directed and starred in "Easy Rider", one of the most important films of the counter-culture generation, had a career resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s playing alcoholics and  psychopaths in films including "Hoosiers," "Blue Velvet" and "Speed." He was diagnosed last year with cancer.

Hopper was an innovative director, photographer, sculptor, artist and great actor. He'll be missed.

Read Adam Bernstein's Obit in the Washington Post HERE.

Memorial Day Mysteries

Memorial Day is Monday, and there are a few mysteries that are set during Memorial Day. This holiday has become part of a three day holiday weekend. Many think of this weekend as the beginning of Summer, a time for barbecues (Barbecue Mysteries), the beach, the cabin in the mountains, but the true meaning of Memorial Day aka Decoration Day is a day of remembrance of those who fell to protect us, those who didn't come home.
Many people go to cemeteries and memorials on the last Monday in May. There is a tradition to fly the flag at half mast and wear poppies, although since that's a WWI observance, not sure if it still happens.

Memorial Day Mysteries

Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
The Decoration Memorial Day War by David H. Brown
Memorial Day by Harry Shannon

I also found a collection of short stories on the Internet. I'm not familiar with the writers, but I read a few of the stories, and some were quite good. The Memorial Day Mystery short stories on the web.

One more for the young set: The Mystery of the Memorial Day Fire by Kathryn Kenny, a Trixie Belden mystery.

Have a good holiday. Be safe and Remember.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lambda Literary Awards in Mystery 2010

The Lambda Literary Awards were announced May 27 at the School of Visual Arts Theater in New York.

Winners in Mystery Fiction:

Best Lesbian Mystery: Death of a Dying Man by J.M. Redmann (Bold Strokes Books)
Other Nominees:
Command of Silence, by Paulette Callen (Spinsters Ink)
From Hell to Breakfast, by Joan Opyr (Blue Feather Books)
The Mirror and the Mask, by Ellen Hart (St. Martin’s/Minotaur)
Toasted, by Josie Gordon (Bella Books)

Best Gay Mystery: What We Remember by Michael Thomas Ford (Kensington Books)
Other Nominees:
All Lost Things, by Josh Aterovis (P.D. Publishing)
Killer of Orchids, by Ralph Ashworth (State Street Press)
Murder in the Garden District, by Greg Herren (Alyson Books)
Straight Lies, by Rob Byrnes (Kensington Books)

For all the nominees and winners in every category, go HERE.

Arthur Ellis Awards 2010: Crime Writers of Canada

Crime Writers of Canada announced the winners of its 2010 Arthur Ellis Awards.

Best Crime Novel: High Chicago by Howard Shrier (Vintage Canada/Random House)

Best First Crime Novel: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Doubleday Canada)

Best French Language Crime Novel: Le mort du chemin des Arsène by Jean Lemieux (La courte échelle)

Best Juvenile Crime Novel: Haunted by Barbara Hayworth Attard (HarperCollins)

Best Crime Non-fiction: Murder Without Borders by Terry Gould (Random House of Canada)

Best Crime Short Story: “Prisoner in Paradise” by Dennis Richard Murphy (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM])

Best Unpublished First Crime Novel (The Unhanged Arthur): Corpse Flower by Gloria Ferris

Peter Robinson was given the Derrick Murdoch Award, “Crime Writers of Canada’s Presidential prize for outstanding contributions to crime writing.” Robinson said that it was “a great honor” to be given that commendation, adding: “So many fine people connected with Canadian crime writing over the years have been given it, and I’m honored to be in such august company. But if it gives anyone the least idea that it’s the culmination of anything, forget it! I’m not packing it in yet.”

Thanks to The Rap Sheet for Peter Robinson's comments.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Prison Dining: Fortezza Medicea Restaurant

Looking for a unique dining experience? Book early for dinner at Fortezza Medicea Restaurant in Volterra, Italy (near Pisa). This restaurant is located inside a prison and staffed almost entirely by inmates.

Dinner is served inside the deconsecrated chapel set behind the 60 ft. high walls watch towers, searchlights and security cameras. The Fortezza Medicea is 500 years old. Cutlery is plastic, in case you were worried.

Signature Dish: Gnocchi with fava bean purée. What? You expected something else?

The long wait is further intensified, in that every diner must be screened by Rome's Ministry of Justice.

Fortezza Medicea Restaurant
Via del Castello

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Barbecue Mysteries

Today on my Chocolate blog,, I posted a recipe for Chocolate Barbecue Sauce. Got me thinking about all the ways one could murder someone at a barbecue, from the sauce to the skewers to the grill. So I've put together a shortlist of Barbecue Mysteries. Let me know if I've forgotten any!

Barbecue Mysteries

Delicious and Suspicious by Riley Adams
Several of the recent Dan Rhodes books by Bill Crider
Murder at the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival by Gene Davis
Finger Lickin' Fifteens by Janet Evanovich
The King is Dead by Sarah Shankman
Stiffs and Swine by J.B. Stanley
Revenge of the Barbecue Queens by Lou Jane Temple

Short Stories: "Gored" by Bill Crider in Murder Most Delicious

Want a little more chocolate on the barbecue? Check out my recipe for S'mores on the Grill and Banana Boats.

Monday, May 24, 2010

25 Best True Crime Books

Todd Jensen blogs at He provides career information and advice for people considering becoming a forensic scientist. There are listings of schools and interesting articles about the field of forensic science. I'm a sucker for lists, so I was happy to find Todd's site.

For the mystery reader, his annotated list of 25 Best True Crime Books is a must.  Here's the list, but be sure and read the entire blog for annotations and film clips.

Any books you think are missing? Leave a comment.

1. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)
2. Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (1974)
3. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon (1991)
4. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, Erik Larson (2003)
5. Crime and Science: The New Frontier in Criminology, Jurgen Thorwald (1967)
6. Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire, Mark Bowden (2000)
7. Wiseguy, Nicholas Pileggi (1986)
8. Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia, Joseph D. Pistone (1987)
9. Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster, Harold Schechter (1998)
10. Blind Eye: The Terrifying Story of a Doctor Who Got Away With Murder, James B. Stewart (2000)
11. Finders Keepers: The True Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million, Mark Bowden (2002)
12. A Rip in Heaven: A Memoir of Murder and Its Aftermath, Jeanine Cummins (2004)
13. The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule (1980)
14. Lethal Intent, Sue Russell (2002)
15. Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders, Terry Sullivan and Peter T. Maiken (2000)
16. The Lives and Times of Bonnie & Clyde, E.R. Milner (1996)
17. Dead Man Walking, Helen Prejean (1993)
18. Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, Bryan Burrough (2004)
19. Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox, Barbie Latza Nadeau (2010)
20. The Killing Season: A Summer Inside an LAPD Homicide Division, Miles Corwin (1997)
21. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Kate Summerscale (2008)
22. And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank, Steve Oney (2003)
23. Confessions of Son of Sam, David Abrahamsen (1985)
24. Cries Unheard: Why Children Kill — The Story of Mary Bell, Gitta Sereny (1999)
25. Blood and Money, Thomas Thompson (2001)

Check out the whole article! Add more titles under comments.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

CrimeFest Awards

CrimeFest (Bristol, England) announced Awards yesterday:

Last Laugh Award (“for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2009):
Winner: The Day of the Jack Russell, by Colin Bateman (Headline)

Also nominated: Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell (William Heinemann); The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris, by Chris Ewan (Long Barn Books); Bone Idle, by Suzette Hill (Constable & Robinson); From Aberystwyth with Love, by Malcolm Pryce (Bloomsbury); and Ten Little Herrings, by Len Tyler (Macmillan)

Sounds of Crime Award (“for the best abridged and unabridged crime audiobooks first published in the UK in 2009 in both printed and digital formats, and available for download from the Audible UK Website”): Winner, Best Abridged Crime Audiobook: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson (translated by Reg Keeland; abridged by Isabel Morgan; read by Martin Wenner; Quercus)

Also nominated: The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown (abridged by Karen DiMattia; read by Paul Michael; Orion); Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child (abridged by Carolanne Lyme; read by Kerry Shale; Random House); Dead Tomorrow, by Peter James (abridged by Kati Nicholl; read by William Gaminara; Pan Macmillan); The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson (translated by Reg Keeland; abridged by Isabel Morgan; read by Martin Wenner; Quercus); and The Complaints, by Ian Rankin for (abridged by Kati Nicholl; read by James Macpherson; Orion)

Winner, Best Unabridged Crime Audiobook: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson (translated by Reg Keeland; read by Saul Reichlin; Whole Story Audio Books)

Also nominated: The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown (read by Paul Michael; Whole Story Audio Books); The Scarecrow, by Michael Connelly (read by Peter Giles; Orion); Dead Tomorrow, by Peter James (read by David Bauckham; Whole Story Audio Books); The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson (translated by Reg Keeland; read by Saul Reichlin; Whole Story Audio Books); and The Complaints, by Ian Rankin (read by Peter Forbes; Whole Story Audio Books)

e-Dunnit Award (“for the best crime fiction e-book first published in the UK in 2009”): 
Winner: Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell (Random House)

Also nominated: The Charlemagne Pursuit, by Steve Berry (Hodder & Stoughton); Contract with God, by Juan Gomez-Jurado (Orion); Crowner Royal, by Bernard Knight (Simon & Schuster); and The Alchemy of Murder, Carol McCleary (Hodder & Stoughton) 

Thanks to Ali Karim at The Rap Sheet and Bill Gottfried for the information.

Friday, May 21, 2010

CWA Dagger Shortlist Announced

The Crime Writers’ Association  announced the shortlists for a number of this year’s Daggers - the prestigious awards that celebrate the very best in crime and thriller writing. The CWA Dagger Awards are the longest established literary awards in the UK and are internationally recognised as a mark of excellence and achievement.

These shortlists were announced at Crimefest in Bristol. The winners will be announced at an event staged on Friday, 23 July 2010, 6 – 7.30pm, at the The Crown Hotel, Harrogate during the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

For crime, thriller, suspense or spy fiction novels which have been translated into English from their original language. Prize money £1000 for the author and £500 for the translator. The shortlisted books are:

Badfellas by Tonino Benacquista, translated by Emily Read (Bitter Lemon Press)
August Heat by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Picador)
Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason, translated by Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland (MacLehose Press)
Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer, translated by K.L. Seegers (Hodder and Stoughton)
The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Doubleday)

Any non-fiction work on a real-life crime theme or a closely-related subject by an author of any nationality, as long as the book was first published in the UK in English between June 1, 2008 and May 31, 2010. Prize money £2000. The shortlisted books are:

David Cesarani: Major Farran’s Hat (Heinemann)
David R. Dow: Killing Time (Heinemann)
Ruth Dudley Edwards: Aftermath: The Omagh Bombing & the Families’ Pursuit of Justice (Harvill Secker)
Jeff Guinn: Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde (Simon & Schuster)
Alex McBride: Defending the Guilty (Penguin/Viking)
Douglas Preston, with Mario Spezi: The Monster of Florence (Virgin/Random House)

Sponsored by The Random House Group. Nominated and judged by librarians and awarded to an author for a body of work, not one single title. Prize money £1,500. The shortlisted authors are:

Simon Beckett (Bantam)
R J Ellory (Orion)
Ariana Franklin (Random House)
Mo Hayder (Bantam)
Denise Mina (Transworld)
Chris Simms (Orion)

Any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment. Prize money £500. The shortlisted stories are:

A Calculated Risk by Sean Chercover from Thriller 2 (Mira) edited by Clive Cussler
The Weapon by Jeffrey Deaver from Thriller 2 (Mira) edited by Clive Cussler
Can You Help Me Out There by Robert Ferrigno from Thriller 2 (Mira) edited by Clive Cussler
Boldt's Broken Angel by Ridley Pearson from Thriller 2 (Mira) edited by Clive Cussler
Like a Virgin by Peter Robinson from The Price of Love (Hodder and Stoughton)
Killing Time by Jon Land from Thriller 2 (Mira) edited by Clive Cussler
Protecting the Innocent by Simon Wood from Thriller 2 (Mira) edited by Clive Cussler

Sponsored by Orion. The Debut Dagger is a new-writing competition open to anyone writing in the English language who has not yet had a novel published commercially. First prize is £500 plus two free tickets to the prestigious CWA Dagger Awards and night’s stay for two in a top London hotel. The shortlisted stories are:

All the Precious Things Jan Napiorkowski (UK)
A Murder in Mumbles Rick DeMille (USA)
A Place of Dying Patrick Eden (UK)
Case No 1 Sandra Graham (Australia)
Chinese Whispers Alan Carter (Australia)
In the Lion’s Throat Bob Marriott (New Zealand)
Legacy Rebecca Brodie (UK)
Lockdown Danielle Ramsay (UK)
Pretty Preeti Stephanie Light (India)
Safe Harbour Rosemary McCracken (Canada)
The Beggar’s Opera Peggy Blair (Canada)
The Chameleon Factor Kathleen Stewart (Australia)

Parnell Hall: Signing in Walden Books

About a month ago I posted Parnell Hall's YouTube Kill'em, a wonderful 'collage' of music and film.

Here's a companion piece by Parnell... Signing in Waldenbooks. Thanks, Parnell.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Found: Hitler's Book of Looted Art; Nazi Art Mysteries, a List

I've been fascinated with art mysteries for years, especially those that deal with the looting, hiding, and misappropriating of European masterpieces by the Nazis. I've read so many mysteries that deal with this subject, many, or perhaps I should say most, of them based on fact.

Not all the artwork stolen by the Nazis was recovered, and during the occupation many things went awry. It was a tumultuous time, a scary time. Today I came across an article about the discovery in Ohio of one of the photo albums detailing plans for a Nazi super museum containing thousands of stolen artworks. The album was taken by a GI as a war trophy. This album and the other volumes could unravel the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of many of the lost masterpieces.

Hitler, an art school reject, was obsessed with his art collection and was planning a museum to rival the great museums in Germany. It was to be built in his hometown of Linz in Austria where he was going to display all the looted art in his Fuhrermuseum. Every Christmas and birthday, Hitler was presented with an album collection cataloguing looted Nazi art that he planned to install there.

Read the Entire Article HERE and  a 2009 article on the Real-Time Detective/Collector Robert Edsel  HERE. (See Non-fiction below for his book on the topic)

You might want to check out, an information database that also lists publications, news, conferences and events, as well as an object database (not just art looted by the Nazi).

And Art Theft: The Art & Crime Gazette is a great website for mystery authors and reader.

An Incomplete List of Crime Fiction that focuses on Nazi Art Theft. Be sure and check back, as I will be updating this list.

Edwin Alexander: Theft of the Master
Evelyn Anthony: The Poellenberg Inheritance
Jeffrey Archer: A Matter of Honor
Steve Berry: The Amber Room
Douglas Boyd: The Fiddler and the Ferret
Barbara Taylor Bradford: A Sudden Change of Heart 
Evelyn Breckman: The Evil of Time
T. David Bunn: The Amber Room
Lillian Stewart Carl: Garden of Thorns
Eric Christopherson & Brad Schoenfeld: Frame-Up
David Adams Cleveland: With a Gemlike Flame
Franklin Coen: The Plunderers
Robertson Davies: What's Bred in the Bone
J. Madison Davis: The Van Gogh Conspiracy
Debra Dean: The Madonnas of Leningrad
Maurice Dekobra: The Golden Eyed Venus
Aaron Elkins: A Deceptive Clarity, Loot, Turncoat
Linda Fairstein: Cold Hit
Dan Fesperman: Lie in the Dark
Timothy Findley: Famous Last Words
Martin Fine: The Lost Stradivarius
Alexander Fullerton: The Aphrodite Cargo
Jonathan Gash: The Ten Word Game 
Harris Greene: Canceled Accounts
Jonathan Harris: Seizing Amber
Robert Harris: Fatherland
April Henry: Circles of Confusion
Philip Hook:  Stonebreakers, The Island of the Dead, Soldier in the Wheatfield, An Innocent Eye
A. E. Hotchner: The Man Who Lived at the Ritz
Sara Houghteling: Pictures at an Exhibition
Richard Hugo:  Last Judgment
Russell James:  Painting in the Dark
J. Robert Janes: Mannequin
Edward I. Koch and Wendy Corsi Staub: The Senator Must Die
Rochelle Krich: Blood Money
Roberto Kusminsky: Counsel of the Wicked
Jane Langton: The Thief of Venice
Donna Leon: Wilful Behavior 
Robert S. Levinson:  Hot Paint 
Paul Lindsay: The Fuhrer's Reserve: A Novel of the FBI
Elizabeth Lowell: Amber Beach
Gayle Lynds:  Mosaic
Helen Macinnes:  Pray For a Brave Hear
Adrian Matthews: The Apothecary's House
Frank McDonald: Provenance
Earl Merkel: Dirty Fire
Howard Norman: The Museum Guard
Neil Olson: The Icon
S.K. Palumbo: Spoils 
Patrick Parker: Treasures of the Fourth Reich
Iain Pears: The Last Judgment
Lewis Perdue:  Daughter of God
Elizabeth Peters: Trojan Gold
J.C. Pollock:  Goering's List
Joe Poyer: The Balkan Assignment
Michael Pye: The Pieces from Berlin
Piers Paul Read: Patriot in Berlin
Robert L. Rodin:  Articles of Fait
Luis Sepulveda: The Name of a Bullfighter
Daniel Silva: The English Assassin
Loren Singer:  Making Good
Doublas Skeggs: The Estuary Pilgrim
Taylor Smith: Deadly Grace
Louis P. Solomon & Linda K. Jenkins: The Third Legacy
Neal Stephenson: Cryptonomicon
Wade Stevenson and Barbara Teel: The Salzdorf Wellspring
H. B. Terrell:  The Chrysalis
Janwillem van de Wetering: The Butterfly Hunter
Susan Vreeland:  Girl in Hyacinth Blue
Irving Wallace: The Seventh Secret
Sylvia Maultash Warsh: To Die In Spring
Clarissa Watson: Runaway
Zerries, A. J.: The Lost Van Gogh

Robert M. Edsel: The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Hector Feliciano: The Lost Museum:The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art

Hitler's Museum: The Secret History of Art Theft During WWII
Rape of Europa Collector's Edition

As always, I welcome additions. Please leave a comment.

Check out Library Booklist for Annotations of many of these titles.

Ghostbusters Called in: Case of Libraries' Disappearing Funds

Saw this in the Guardian today. New York's Public libraries are facing the worst budget cuts in history. What you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

"With proposed funding cuts of almost US$37m (£26m), which officials predict would force the closure of 10 libraries, reduce opening hours at remaining branches and mean the loss of 736 members of staff, campaigners are asking concerned supporters to write to their elected officials about the cuts and to donate to the cause. The latest step in the campaign to raise awareness about the budget cuts, however, was a little more dramatic.

Readers in the New York Public Library's 100-year-old reading room were startled to see three "ghosts" settle down among them. This was an echo of the 1984 film's opening moments, in which the library features. The re-enactment was created by Improv Everywhere, whom the firm the library asked to stage a "mission" on its property "to remind people of how great the NYPL is" and to publicise its Don't Close the Book campaign. And all with no slime involved."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Partners in Crime: Hailey Lind Guest Blogger

Partners in Crime: Authors who Collaborate. I'm happy to continue this series here on Mystery Fanfare. Today I welcome Hailey Lind, the writing duo of Julie Goodson-Lawes and Carolyn J. Lawes, as guest bloggers. Their blog today was a collaborative effort!

Be sure and check out other guest blog Partner in Crime writing partners: So far we've had Guest Blogs from Mark Zubro, Bill Crider, Charles Todd (Caroline & Charles), Mary Reed & Eric Mayer, Max Allan Collins, David Corbett, Michael Stanley, Jeffery Deaver, Reed Farrel Coleman, and Charlotte Elkins, and Eric Beetner & JB Kohl.

Julie Goodson-Lawes is a muralist and portrait painter who has run her own faux finishing and design business in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than a decade. She now writes paranormal mystery series under the name Juliet Blackwell. Carolyn J. Lawes is Associate Professor of History at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she specializes in American women’s history. Feint of Art, the first in The Art Lover’s Mystery Series, was nominated for the Agatha for Best First Novel. Arsenic and Old Paint, the fourth in the series, is due out from Perseverance Press in September, 2010.

Hailey Lind:

“Where she sees mauve, I see taupe.”

That should have been my answer when my sister and I, who collaborate on the Art Lover’s Mystery Series, were first asked that now-familiar question: how do you two make your writing partnership work?

It wasn’t my answer then, because I don’t think that fast on my feet. But it will be from now on.

The whole thing started on a dare. For years we had passed novels back and forth to one another, often accompanied with the flippant phrase: “It was good, but we could do better.” One day I decided to actually try it: I wrote the first chapter of a novel featuring a faux-finisher who used to be an art forger. I showed it to my sister, who promptly brought out her red pen and “re-wrote” it. When I read the manuscript with her changes, I loved it. We started plotting the whole story, and kept writing. Thus our collaboration was born more as a fun sister project than with serious thoughts of eventual publication.

To be sure, there are practical issues to overcome in order to create a successful writing partnership. Living 3,000 miles from your writing partner could have posed a problem. Thanks to modern technology, though, that’s been the least of our challenges. The miracle of the Internet makes it possible for us to send chapters back and forth in the blink of an eye and with the ease of a mouse click. Free-on-the-weekends cell phone minutes enable hours-long conversations about what to do when, for example, our ex-art-forger protagonist, Annie Kincaid, fell for a character we’d intended to be a villain. (That woman is impossible to control! And the novels have been all the better for it…)

But though the mechanics of our collaboration are 21st-century, the substance of it is as old as the ages: she sees mauve where I see taupe. We have enough in common to draw us together without being so similar that we see the world as one.

We’re sisters, and we’ve always been close. Our upbringing and education created a strong foundation, and we share an ironic sense of humor. We “get” each other. But as individuals we’re different enough—in our tastes and life choices—that we don’t compete, we complement. It is this balance of similar-yet-not-the-same that has made our collaboration so fruitful, and so much fun to be a part of.

Where one has a gift for quirky characters and plot twists (how does she do it?), the other has a knack for banter and exposition. She sketches out scenes and characters and sends the story to me as a document attached to an email. I download the document, expand upon it, and return it to her. She revises and edits, and sends it to me, and so on, back and forth, until we’re both satisfied. When we encounter difficulties—for example, the story took a twist in chapter four that we must now incorporate into the earlier chapters, which inevitably means jettisoning some material and rewriting so threads don’t get lost—we set aside time on the weekend, break out the cell phones, and talk it through. In the process, our words and phrases and sentences blend and meld until I can’t remember who wrote what. Because I didn’t write it, and she didn’t write it. We wrote it.

But it is the emotional tie, which runs like a ribbon of steel through our every interaction, that built the foundation of trust and goodwill any partnership must have to be productive and to endure. It’s not simply because we’re sisters: shared DNA doesn’t dictate a happy relationship. What our sibling bond did do, in our case, was give us a jump start on navigating the give-and-take involved in working closely with another person. When I fumble the ball—as I have and no doubt will in the future—she picks it up and runs with it. When she’s frustrated and mad as hell and just can’t face another blank page, she punts to me and it’s my turn to sprint for the goal. It doesn’t matter which of us gets there first because we both win. You don’t need to be sisters to collaborate, but you do need to be friends.

Still, there is an undeniable sweetness to having a sister who is also your friend and writing partner.

Even if she does see mauve when it’s clearly taupe.

Hailey Lind is the pseudonym for two sisters, one an artist and the other an historian.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brunetti's Cookbook: Chocolate Cake, Torta de cioccolato

I first posted this review and recipe on, and this morning I received an e-postcard from Carlo Vennarucci host at asking if I had seen the cookbook. I quickly realized that not everyone who reads Mystery Fanfare also reads my chocolate blog: So here's the review with recipe for Chocolate Cake aka Torta de cioccolato.

Brunetti's Cookbook: Chocolate Cake-Torta di cioccolato

Who wouldn't want to have a meal in Commissario Guido Brunetti's Venice? Venice is one of those magical cities where East meets West, where every restaurant has its specialities--a wonderful place for foodies, bakers and chefs, and multi-course Brunetti lunches.

I'm a big fan of Donna Leon's  Commissario Brunetti mystery series. Each novel is filled with the color, the smells, the landscape, the crime and corruption, the families and, of course, the foods of Venice. Now, we have Brunetti's Cookbook: Recipes by Roberta Pianaro with Culinary Stories by Donna Leon (Atlantic Monthly Press) with anecdotes, recipes and beautifully drawn illustrations! There are also excerpts from the novels and original essays by Donna Leon on food and life in Venice, the perfect addition to this wonderful cookbook.

Since I collect mystery, literary, and other tie-in cookbooks, I am thrilled to add Brunetti's Cookbook to the shelf, and I think you will be, too.

Brunetti's Cookbook brings to life fabulous Venetian meals. Roberta (Biba) Pianaro, who has always lived in Venice,  a talented cook, and best friend of Donna Leon, presents over 90 mouth-watering recipes. Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over 25 years and has feasted at Pianaro's table many times over the years. This fabulous cookbook is illustrated by Tatjana Hauptmann. Just so you know,  this cookbook was vetted by both Pianaro and Leon. Leon is quoted on the Italian-Mysteries site as saying, "We ate our way through these recipes last year--believe they are legit.."

Interesting that the UK Edition is called A Taste of Venice: At Table with Brunetti, Culinary Stories by Donna Leon, Recipes by Roberta Pianaro.

Since this is a Chocolate Blog, I immediately checked the index for chocolate recipes. Didn't really expect to find one among the mouth-watering recipes for antipasti, primi piatti, verdure, pesci e frutti de mare and carne, but under the dolci section, is a recipe for Chocolate Cake or Torta di cioccolato.

Chocolate Cake: Torta di cioccolato

7 oz. unsweetened dark chocolate
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup and 1 tbsp sugar
4 medium eggs, separated
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
buter and flour for the baking tin

In a small non-stick pan melt the chocolate with the butter and 4 tbsp of water over low heat, stirring occasionally, making sure the chocolate doesn't burn. Pour the chocolate into a bowl and mix thoroughly with the sugar and egg yolks. Blend in the flour, cornstarch and baking powder. Pour into a springform cake tin measuring 10 inches in diameter and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.
This is a cake that can be filled with cream or jam!

"Mangia, mangia, ti fa bene."

Thanks to Elizabeth Foxwell, here's a link to a BBC radio interview with Donna Leon about this cookbook!

The lovely photo of Donna and Biba was taken by Carlo Vennarucci when he and his wife Lyn had morning coffee with them this past week.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Your Name in a Book: Be careful what you wish for

One of the most popular auction items at mystery conventions is 'your name' in a book by your favorite author. after bidding lots of money for this 'honor', you can only hope that the character with your name is a law abiding citizen..or not, depending on your preferences. Often you have no say in the matter, and your named character turns out to be a prostitute or a  two-bit criminal. Sometimes you can talk with the author to ensure that your character is 'acceptable' to you.  Whatever the outcome, you've paid your money, and you take your chances. Using real names of people (fans/readers/friends) in books or stories as an in-joke is called Tuckerization. I've been tuckerized several times. I haven't paid, but my writer friends have used my name in their books as an in-joke, and luckily always in a good way, and always with a very minor character. Thanks, friends.

But what about an author using a name of a friend or acquaintance either wittingly or not in a book? Doesn't every novel have an "any resemblance" disclaimer?  Obviously Brendan Cody, doesn't see it that way or maybe he didn't read it at the beginning of the book. He has taken Thriller Writer Alexandra Sokoloff to court. He claims she defamed him in her 2009 thriller, The Unseen, creating a character with his name and description, who has "violent, sexually predatory and abusive" tendencies. They met at a writer's conference in 2007, and he claims they became friends, and that he shared things about himself. Sexually predatory and abusive things? Good Luck, Alex, this seems like a frivolous suit. Hope you win.

Read the article here at the Courthouse News Service.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mystery Bytes: Mystery news, reviews, links: May 14

Mystery Bytes: Catching up on Mystery News

Saturday, May 15: Bay Area Women of Mystery at the Oakland  (CA) Main Library. Seven mystery writers will be discussing their craft at the Oakland Public Library, 125 - 14th St, Oakland, 2-4. Free.  Rhys Bowen, Diana Chambers, Lucha Corpi, Susan Dunlap, Priscilla Royal, Susan Sherrell and Kelli Stanley. For more information, go HERE.

I Still Wake Up Dreaming: Noir Film Festival runs May 14 through May 27. Roxie Theater, 3117 - 16th St, San Francisco.  Saturday, May 15: "99 River Street" "Shield for Murder." Festival consists of mainly new and new looking 35 mm prints. Read Mick LaSalle's article HERE.

The Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival  is now in full swing, but you still have time to catch a few films. Camelot Theatre, Palm Springs May 13 through 16. Great films and great guests make this a don't-miss event. Guests this year include actors Ernest Borgnine, June Lockhart, Ann Robinson and Tommy Cook. Julie Garfield, daughter of the late great John Garfield, will also be on hand to speak at the screening of her father's last film, John Berry's He Ran All the Way (1951).

Rockford Files Now Dead at NBC.  The classic PI series, which only a month ago appeared as a sure thing this pilot season with  House creator David Shore as writer and Steve Carell as producer, has been canceled. First signs of trouble came in the casting stage when it took a long time to cast the lead played by James Garner on the original series. Feedback from the audition of Dermot Mulroney, who has strong improv background, was great, and the pilot, which co-starred Alan Tudyk and Beau Bridges, went underway with Michael Watkins at the helm. Nevertheless, it's out for now.

Librarians take note: Rolling Stone Keith Richards wanted to become a Librarian? O.K. he took a road less traveled by. He's actually an avid bookworm and takes great pride in developing libraries inside his homes in Sussex and Connecticut. Read the article from the Mail, HERE.

The Plot Thickens As the Drinks Clink. Although this article doesn't deal with Mystery films, it would be a heck of a great dissertation thesis! Just planting the seed. Read the NYT article on Pairing a DVD and a Drink. Here.

Where do you put your gun when you go for a run? Thunderwear has the answer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cigarette Machines Refurbished as Book Dispensing Machines

Hamburg-based publisher Automatenverlag is hoping that locals won’t be able to kick the habit of buying books on the go once they start.

The publisher has refurbished and repurposed old cigarette machines for the purpose of selling books, focusing on the neighborhood surrounding the University of Hamburg.

The books — all original texts by Hamburg authors, ranging from graphic novels to poetry to a travel guide for professional women — will each cost four euros. As reported in the Boersenblatt, the titles will also be available for purchase online.

Ned Kelly Award Nominations Longlist

Nominations: Ned Kelly Awards 2010: Crime Writers Association of Australia

Best first fiction
Kaaron Warren, Slights best fiction
Maria Quinnn, The Gene Thieves
Karen Taylor, Hostage
Rhonda Roberts, Gladiatrix
Antoinette Eklund, Steel River
Stephen M Irwin, The Dead Path
Mark Dapin, King of the Cross
Marianne Delacourt, Sharp Shooter
Andrew Croome, Document Z
Bruce Mutard, The Silence
Justine Larbalestier, Liar
Colin McLaren, ON The Run
Brett Hoffman, The Contract
Adair Robin, Death & the Running Patterer
Emma Boling, Riding High

Best Fiction
Andy Semple, Eden Prime
Lenny Bartulin, The Black Russian
Barry Ward, The Nelson Conspiracy
Alex Palmer, Labyrinth of Drowning
Tara Moss, Siren
Wendy James, Why She Loves Him
Wendy James, Where Have You Been?
Peter Temple, Truth
Garry Disher, Wyatt
Garry Disher, Blood Moon
Michael Robotham,  Bleed For Me
Philip McLaren, Murder In Utopia
Fiona McIntosh, Beautiful Death
David Owen, No Weather For a Burial
Steven Lang, 88 Lines about 44 Women
Bruce Pascoe, Bloke
Barry Maitland, Dark Mirror
Kerry Greenwood, Forbidden Fruit
Peter Corris, Torn Apart
Catherine Jinks, The Reformed Vampire Support Group
Sydney Bauer, Trust of the Matter
Kathryn Fox, Blood Born
Katherine Howell, Cold Justice

Best True crime
Peter Doyle, Crooks Like Us
Robert Wainwright & Paola Totaro, Born or Bred?
Tony Reeves, Getting away With Murder
Tony Reeves, Two Political Murders
Paula Hunt, Outlaw Son: The Story of Ned Kelly
Jack Marx, Australian Tragic
Kathy Marks, Pitcairn Paradise Lost
Esther McKay, Forensic investigator
John Kerr, Hit Men
Clive Small & Tom Gilling, Blood Money
Robert M. Kaplan, Medical Murder
Adrian Tame, Deadlier Than The Male
Mick Gatto & Tom Noble, I, Mick Gatto
Colin McLaren, Infiltration
Victorian Ombudsman, George Brouwer, Investigations into the Alleged
Improper Conduct of Councillors at Brimbank City Council

Hat Tip: Kerrie Smith: Mysteries in Paradise

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fun Mystery Author Contests: Cupcakes, Happily Ever After

I came across two contests offered by Mystery Authors this week that are both a bit whimical and fun, so I thought I'd post them here.

Karin Slaughter has set up a Cupcake Contest! and, yes, it belongs here, probably as well as on Here's the Deal. Karin Slaughter, author of Broken, and lover of The Whimsical Bakehouse and all things cake has set up a Cupcake Contest. You can follow instructions or create cupcakes in the Style of Slaughter or come up with something completely on your own. All details HERE.

With June just around the corner and thoughts of marriage on your mind--you, your daughter, your mother?, Elaine Viets has initiated the Elaine Viets Happily Ever After Contest. Besides being a bestselling mystery author, she is also an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. She will marry a couple anywhere within the continental United States to celebrate a very special literary occasion: The publication of Half-Price Homicide, her ninth Dead-End Job mystery.

After nine books and many adventures, Helen and Phil begin their new life together in this novel. They have a romantic beach wedding. Helen and Phil are married by a minister in Universal Life Church. This wedding starts a new chapter for both of them.

Whether you want a romantic wedding by the sea, a mountain meadow, a luxurious garden, a grand hotel or a private home, Elaine will be honored to marry you. Because true love defies labels, she will marry either a traditional bride and groom or a same-sex couples.

RSVP your entry to Elaine Viets’ Happily Ever After contest: Email to:

(1) Your names

(2) The proposed date and time of your wedding

(3) The location. Name or type of place (private home, park, hotel), Street address, State and ZIP

Entries must be emailed by midnight, June 1, to

The winning couple will be chosen by the Elaine Viets advertising team.

PLEASE NOTE: You will have to work out a mutually agreeable date if she has a previously scheduled event.
She will travel to the wedding at her expense within the continental USA. She has been a minister in good standing with the Universal Life Church since 1976.

The engaged couple or their representatives agree to provide lodgings for her, as well as meals, transportation to and from the airport and the ceremony, if needed. Her hotel room must be booked in advance of the wedding, if the wedding takes place outside the Fort Lauderdale area.

The couple must be of legal age to marry and either single or divorced. If one or both parties are divorced, you will be asked to produce your divorce decree(s) and all necessary identification.

Both parties must mutually consent to Elaine Viets as their minister.

Same sex weddings are legal only in the states that permit them, but she will still perform the ceremony.

Visit Elaine Viets' website for more information. Contest ends June 1, 2010

Human Bones Used to Make Art

This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I had to post one photo and a link to Francois Robert's powerful artworks made out of real human bones. The Chicago artist's aim is to remind people about the consequences of violence.

To see a slide-show of more of his work, go HERE.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Frank Frazetta, Illustrator: R.I.P.

Frank Frazetta, illustrator of comic books, movie posters and paperback book covers whose visions of musclebound men fighting with swords and axes to defend scantily dressed women helped define fantasy heroes like Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, died Monday in Fort Myers, Fla. He was 82.

Mystery, adventure, and fantasy readers will remember his book covers, where his signature images were of  fierce, hard-bodied heroes and bosomy damsels in distress. “Paperback publishers have been known to buy one of his paintings for use as a cover, then commission a writer to turn out a novel to go with it,” The New York Times reported in 1977, the same year that a collection of his drawings, The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta, sold more than 300,000 copies.

Read the NYT Obit HERE.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nina King: R.I.P.

Nina King, Editor of The Washington Post's Book World section for more than a decade and often reviewed fiction and wrote about her far-flung travels, died May 6 at the Washington House, a nursing facility in Alexandria. A cousin, Nancy Dupree, said she died of complications from Parkinson's disease one day before her 69th birthday.

King was the Book World editor from 1988-1993. King introduced several features to the weekly review, including columns on poetry, the publishing industry and dispatches from other cities.

She was the co-author, with Robin Winks,  of the 1997 book Crimes of the Scene: A Mystery Novel Guide for the International Traveler, an Agatha Award nominee. She was a member of IACW and travelled to many of the international crime meetings including Cuba. I met her at Semana Negra in Spain, an AIEP meeting.

According to the Washington Post obituary, King helped solidify the reputation of D.C. crime novelist George Pelecanos, writing in 2001 that "the hard-boiled mystery writer that Washington lacked seems to have emerged from the shadows."
In 1995, she underwent experimental brain surgery for Parkinson's disease in Sweden. Her symptoms returned after a year, and in 1999, she stepped down as Book World editor to become a contributing editor.

She wrote in 1998, "I hope the reader will intuit that I indeed do have a life -- one in which Parkinson's is allowed only a secondary role. I politely request that I not be defined by my disease -- except in the metaphorical sense of the poet Alexander Pope when he wrote of 'this long disease my life.' "

Read the Washington Post Obit, HERE.

Nina King: R.I.P.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day Mysteries

With Mother's Day fast approaching, I thought I'd update my Mother's Day Mysteries list from last year. As always I welcome additions. This list focus on books about the holiday. If I listed all the mysteries and crime fiction with famous and infamous mothers, the list would be enormous.

Angel at Troublesome Creek by Mignon F. Ballard
How to Murder Your Mother-in-Law by Dorothy Cannell
Mother's Day Murder by Wensley Clarkson
Murder Can Upset Your Mother by Selma Eichler
Bon Bon Voyage by Nancy Fairbanks
Murder for Mother: Short Story collection, edited by Martin S. Greenberg
Murder Superior by Jane Haddam
The Mother’s Day Murder by Lee Harris
Mother’s Day by Patricia MacDonald
Mother's Day by Dennis McDougal
Mother’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier
Mom, Apple Pie &Murder: A collection of New Mysteries for Mother’s Day, edited by Nancy Pickard
Mother’s Day by Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla

Want to do something nice for your Mother on Mother's Day? Give her some great mysteries or... my other passion...chocolate. Check out my other blog DyingforChocolate for great recipes, thoughts, reviews and chocolate-related info.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Top 10 Greatest Science Fiction Detective Novels

Loved this list on the Top 10 Greatest Science Fiction Detective Novels of All Time! on io9. Read the entire article for more info.

"China Miéville's detective story The City And The City is well on its way to being the award-winningest novel of the year. But it's not the only great novel about science fiction/fantasy sleuths. Here are 10 other SF detective classics.

Speculative fiction and detective fiction have a lot in common — they're both about digging down to the truth of matters. Fictional scientists and explorers, like detectives, follow clues and act on hunches. The truth is enshrouded in an ocean of red herrings and false trails. Plus, a lot of great science fiction authors, like Ray Bradbury and Robert Silverberg, also wrote detective novels, for money or as a change of pace."

A Philosophical Investigation by Philip Kerr
The Retrieval Artist novels by Kristine Kathyrn Rusch
When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger
Tea from an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan
The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

Read the entire article HERE.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo Mysteries: Crime for the Holiday

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo! Read a mystery.

Last year I blogged about Cinco de Mayo Mysteries, and I don't really have many titles to add, so I thought I'd run the post again for those who missed it...or won't take the extra step to click. :-)

I've supplemented the list with Mexican mystery writers and books set in Mexico. Add to your reading pleasure today with a Mexican Chocolate Celebration. Check out my other Blog, Dying for Chocolate, for recipes and suggestions of great chocolate for Cinco de Mayo. Entrees, drinks and desserts.

The Cinco de Mayo Murder by Lee Harris
The Bane of Cinco de Mayo by Nathan S. Mitchell
The Cinco de Mayo Reckoning by Terry Money

Not meaning to be complete in any way, I put together a few titles by Mexican authors or mysteries set in Mexico or related to the Mexican experience in some way (but not to Cinco de Mayo).

Mexican Crime Writers:
Paco Ignacio Taibo II The Uncomfortable Dead (and numerous other novels) Read an interview with Paco.
Eduardo Monteverde
Juan Hernandez Luna

Hardboiled fiction on the Mexican-American frontier:
Gabriel Trujillo Munoz-known for his science fiction and literary criticism, also writes detective fiction.
Mesquite Road
Tijuana City Blues

Carlos Fuentes: Cabeza de la Hidra (The Hydra Head)
Joaquin Guerrero-Casaola, The Law of the Garrotte

Want to find out more about Mysteries in Mexico. Read G.J. Demko's Landscapes of Crime.

Lucha Corpi, Guest blogged on: La Bloga on Chicana Crime Fiction: Where to?
Mignon G. Eberhart. Wings of Fear takes place in Mexico City.

Read an essay by Jennifer Insley "Border criminals, border crime: hard-boiled fiction on the American Frontier in Confluencia: Revista Hispanica de Cultura y Literatura

Interested in Crime for the Holidays? Check out Mystery Readers Journal, Volume 25:1.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Student Spotlight: Sweeter than Fiction

Appeared on  Thedieline. Quite the appeal.

Megan Reddish, a recent graduate of Syracuse University's Communications Design program, sent in one of her Package Design Projects:
"Sweeter Than Fiction, Premium Ice Cream: Curling up with a good book will only get better when you’re spooning with a fantastic fusion of premium ice cream flavors. Indulge in the classics like you never have before. Literary aficionados will fall heads over heels for these witty packages."

Hat Tip to @readandbreathe on Twitter

2010 SMFS Derringer Award Winners

The Derringer Short Story Award Winners for 2010 were announced May 1 by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Best Flash Story (up to 1,000 words): “And Here’s to You, Mrs. Edwardson,” by Hamilton Waymire (Big Pulp, November 23, 2009)

Best Short Story (1,001-4,000 words): “’Twas the Night,” by Anita Page (in The Gift of Murder, edited by John M. Floyd; Wolfmont Press)

Best Long Story (4,001-8,000 words): “Famous Last Words,” by Doug Allyn (EQMM, November 2009)

Best Novelette (8,001-17, 500 words): “Julius Katz,” by Dave Zeltserman (EQMM, September/October 2009)

Author Lawrence Block is the 2010 recipient of the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement.

For the complete list of nominees, go HERE.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Agatha Awards 2010

What a week for awards. The Agatha Awards were presented last night at Malice Domestic.

Best Novel:
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Best First Novel:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Delacorte Press)

Best Non-fiction:
Dame Agatha’s Shorts by Elena Santangelo (Bella Rosa Books)

Best Short Story:
“On the House” by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Quarry (Level Best Books)

Best Children's/Young Adult:
The Hanging Hill by Chris Grabenstein (Random House)

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mary Higgins ClarkWilliam Link, TV script writer and author, was honored with the Poirot Award.

Congratulations to all!

To see all the nominees in each category, go HERE.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kentucky Derby Mysteries

Today is the 136th Kentucky Derby. Here's an updated list of Derby mysteries. Read a few horse-racing mysteries to set the mood of the day. Be sure and have some Derby Pie, too, it's filled with chocolate, bourbon and walnuts or pecans. Lots of different recipes on Dying for Chocolate.

Derby Rotten Scoundrels: A Silver Dagger Anthology, edited by Jeffrey Marks, is a great anthology that surrounds one of the United States' greatest sporting event--the Kentucky Derby. Danger, bourbon, horses, gambling, special events and deceit abound. Author bios.

Low Down and Derby, a collection of fast paced mystery stories set around the Kentucky Derby, by fifteen authors from the Ohio River Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Murder at the Races, a collection of Short Stories including "A Derby Horse", Edited by Peter Haining.

Kit Ehrman, who has written some great horse mysteries featuring Steven Cline, wrote Triple Cross that takes place during the Derby. Here's a link to Kit's blog where she tells how and why she wrote a Derby novel. Great photos of the Kentucky Derby and the surrounding buildings and special events,  too.

Read a Dick Francis mystery today, but only "The Gift" is set at the Kentucky Derby. It is in the collection Field of Thirteen. "The Gift" first appeared as "A Day of Wine and Roses" in Sports Illustrated, 1973.

And there once was a thorough-bred named Mystery Novel. He did not win the Kentucky Derby.