I received the news this morning that Len Moffatt, Sherlockian, Mystery and Science Fiction Fan extraordinaire, passed away this morning. I knew he had been sick, but I never imagined he wouldn't make it.
Len and his wife June were involved in the very first Bouchercon. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have this huge gathering of fans and writers every year. They chaired Bouchercon in Los Angeles in 1972, Culver City in 1976 and Pasadena in 1991. They were Fan Guests of Honor in San Francisco in 1985.
Len didn't attend Bouchercon in San Francisco this year, but Len and June were awarded the Don Sandstrom Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mystery Fanfdom. The last time I saw Len was at Left Coast Crime in March where we managed to have a very nice chat.
My sympathy goes out to June, the family, and the mystery community.
This year Suspense Magazine breaks down their Best of List by genre. Winners in each catagory are as follows:
Cozy A Nose for Justice by Rita Mae Brown (Ballantine Books) If Walls Could Talk: A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery by Juliet Blackwell (Signet) A House to Die For by Vicki Doudera (Midnight Ink)
Romantic Suspense Original Sin by Allison Brennan (Ballantine Books) White Heat by Brenda Novak (Mira) Blood Vines by Erica Spindler (St. Martin's Press)
Dark Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Taken by Midnight by Lara Adrian (Dell) Pray for Dawn by Jocelynn Drake (Eos) Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland (St. Martin's Griffin)
Historical Fiction The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds (St. Martin's Press) Stone's Fall by Iain Pears (Spiegel & Grau) The Moses Expedition by Juan Gomez-Jurado (Atria Books)
Anthology The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2010 by Paula Guran (Prime Books) Crimes by Moonlight - Mysteries from the Dark Side by Charlaine Harris & Others (Berkley Hardcover) First Thrills: High-Octane Stories from the Hottest Thriller Authors by Lee Child (Forge Books: June 2010)
Legal Thrillers Law of Attraction: A Novel by Allison Leotta (Touchstone) Innocent by Scott Turow (Grand Central Publishing) Beyond Justice by Joshua Graham (Dawn Treader Press)
Medical Thrillers Shedrow by Dean DeLuke (Grey Swan Press) The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer (St. Martin's Press) The Six-Liter Club by Harry Kraus (Howard Books)
Political Thrillers The Overton Window by Glenn Beck (Threshold Editions) The Silent Places by James Patrick Hunt (Minotaur Books) Foreign Influence by Brad Thor (Atria Books)
True Crime A Twisted Faith: A Minister's Obsession and the Murder That Destroyed a Church by Gregg Olsen (St. Martin's Press) Presumed Dead: A True Life Murder Mystery by Henry Lee (Berkley) In the Still of the Night: The Strange Dead of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother's Unceasing Quest for the Truth by Ann Rule (Free Press)
Debut The Cold Kiss by John Rector (Forge Books) Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin's Press) The Things that Keep us Here by Carla Buckley (Delacorte Press: February 2010)
Horror Ancestor by Scott Sigler (Crown) The Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff(St. Martin's Press) Autumn by David Moody (St. Martin's Griffin)
Thriller/Suspense Velocity by Alan Jacobson (Vanguard Press) The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker (Center Street) Broken by Karin Slaughter (Delacorte Press) Torn Apart by Shane Gericke (Pinnacle) The Bishop by Steven James (Revell)
Suspense Magazine is a monthly publication and also produces a bi-weekly radio show at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine
La Bòbila reports the Spanish Crime Fiction Awards in 2010. The Pepe Carvalho Award to the Spanish writer Andreu Martín is not included here, the award ceremony will take place in 2011.
Premio L'H Confidencial 2010, premio internacional de novela negra: Caminos cruzados, Erlantz Gamboa (Roca)
Premio Pepe Carvalho: Ian Rankin
IV Premio internacional de novela negra "Ciudad de Carmona": La Frontera Sur, José Luis Muñoz (Almuzara)
III Premi Crims de Tinta: Negres tempestes, Teresa Solana (La Magrana)
Premi Ferran Canyameres de Novel•la: Detalls culinaris, de Josep Torrent (Pagès)
Premios Brigada 21
Best novel written in Spanish (Catalan): Emulsió de ferro, Sebastià Jovani (La Magrana)
Best novel translated to Spanish (Catalan): La dona de verd, Arnaldur Indridason (La Magrana)
Best first novel: Tarde, mal y nunca, Carlos Zanón (Saymon)
Best novel in Spanish (Castilian): La playa de los ahogados, Domingo Villar (Siruela)
Best novel translated to Spanish (Castilian): El poder del perro, Don Winslow (Mondadori)
Florenci Clavé Award to the best book cover: Trago amargo, F.G. Haggenbeck (Roca)
Premio Dashiell Hammett: Ciudad Santa, Guillermo Orsi (Almuzara)
XII Premio Francisco García Pavón: Frío de muerte, Manuel Nonídez (Rey Lear)
VIII Premio Novelpol: El poder del perro, Don Winslow (Mondadori)
XIV Premio Ciudad de Getafe de Novela Negra: No hay perro que viva tanto, Francisco Balbuena (Edaf)
Premio internacional de novela negra RBA 2010: Live Wire, Harlan Coben (RBA)
Here's a list after my own heart: The Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the US.. The first one is of my own Library, the Berkeley Public Library, a fabulous art decor building. Read the article and see the photos at Flavorwire.
1. Berkeley Public Library, Designed by James Plachek
2. The Central Library of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Designed by Marcel Breuer
3. Harold Washington Library, Chicago, Illinois. Designed by Hammond, Beeby and Babka
4. Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Designed by César Pelli
5. The Richard Riordan Central Library, Los Angeles, California. Designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue
6. The McKim Building of the Boston Public Library. Designed by McKim, Mead, and White
7. New York Public Library. Designed by Carrère and Hastings
8. Parkway Central Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Renovation design by Moshe Safdie and Associates (this was my childhood library, and I loved the original building. still there-attached)
9. Salt Lake City Public Library. Designed by Moshe Safdie and Associates and VCBO Architecture
10. Seattle Central Library. Designed by Rem Koolhaas of OMA and and Joshua Prince-Ramus of REX
Kershner dircted the 1980 sci-fi epic Empire Strikes Back also directed Sean Connery as James Bond in “Never Say Never Again” (1983) and Peter Weller in “Robocop II” (1990), died at home after a long illness. He passed away today at 87.
Born in Philadelphia in 1923, Kershner trained as a musician and in photography before starting making documentaries and then feature films.
His last directing job was in 1993 on the Seaquest DSV TV show.
Enlightening interviews with the Colorado Film School in which he discusses making of Star Wars Strikes Back:
The Swedish Crime Writers' Academy (Svenska Deckarakademin) announced that Leif G.W. Persson won the prize for Best Swedish Crime Fiction Novel 2010.
According to Peter on the Nordic Book Blog: Persson won the prize for his novel Den döende detektiven (The Dying Detective). This is the third time Leif GW Persson has won this prestigious prize. He also won it in 1982 and 2003. Håkan Nesser is the only other Swedish crime fiction author that has won the prize three times. Unfortunately, only one of Persson’s books has so far been translated into English: Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End.
Leif GW Persson is a professor of criminology and an excellent writer. His main character is Lars Martin Johansson – known among his colleagues as “the man who can see around corners”.
From that unique blog at the Criminal Justice Degrees Guide website comes a post on the 10 Riveting Films Based on Real Life Crimes. For true-crime buffs, this list is a must. The disclaimer on the site is that these films aren't the only ones that quality, just the best. I tend to agree. Be sure and go HERE to see all the film clips. Not for the Queasy. 1. Bonnie and Clyde: Arthur Penn’s 1967 classic about Depression-era bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
2. In Cold Blood: Truman Capote’s legendary book about a murdered family in Kansas was a pioneering work of true-crime journalism, and the resulting film adaptation was just as powerful.
3. Dog Day Afternoon: In August 1972, John Wojtowicz and Sal Naturile held up a Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn, took some hostages, and were eventually taken down by police.
4. Goodfellas: Martin Scorsese’s mythic gangster film is easily one of the best ever to be based on real events. Drawn from crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi’s Wiseguy, the film recounts the story of Henry Hill, a player in the New York mafia who gave evidence against his fellow gangsters and entered the Witness Protection Program.
5. Donnie Brasco: FBI agent Joseph Pistone spent six years undercover infiltrating organized crime families in New York using the alias Donnie Brasco.
6. Catch Me If You Can: Time for a mental health break: Steven Spielberg’s film is about a criminal, but it’s also far more light-hearted than the rest on this list, thanks to the nature of the crimes.
7. Monster: Aileen Wuornos was a prostitute and serial killer who killed seven johns in Florida between 1989 and 1990, claiming they’d been attempted to rape her. Female serial killers are a rare occurrence.
8. Alpha Dog: Based on the life and times of Jesse James Hollywood (real name!), Alpha Dog follows a young drug dealer named Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) who kidnaps the younger brother of a rival and eventually has the boy murdered.
9. Zodiac: Another sadly overlooked film, David Fincher’s 2007 masterpiece Zodiac is a harrowing examination of the Zodiac serial killer and the way his mythos gripped the nation and sent investigators into often obsessive tailspins.
10. M: Fritz Lang’s first sound film, 1931′s M is considered one of the best films of the black-and-white era.
Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise alerted her readers to this great Library comic strip that book readers will certainly appreciate. Be sure and go to the Unshelved site and scroll backwards and forward to see all the strips. LOL!
Here's a treat for Thanksgiving! Barb Goffman guest blogs about the holiday...or is it a holiday? Thanks, Barb, for stopping by!
Barb Goffman is a short-story mystery author whose work tends to focus on families. Twice nominated for the Agatha Award, Barb is a member of the national board of Sisters in Crime, is a co-coordinating editor of Chesapeake Crimes: They Had It Comin’, and is program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention. She lives in Virginia.
Be Thankful You Don’t Have These Families by Barb Goffman
Ahh, Thanksgiving. A wonderful time of year when family gets together. You hug and bond and share happy memories.
At least that’s what the Hallmark Channel movies want you to think. But, c’mon, you know the truth. Every family has one member that everyone else just can’t stand. The brother who chews with his mouth open. On purpose. The cousin who won’t stop talking. The aunt who snoops around the house and then tells everyone what she found. Yep, after a few hours of wonderful family togetherness, you just might want to kill someone.
And that’s why mystery writers love Thanksgiving so much. The essence of a good story is conflict. And nothing provides more conflict than family.
Take my character, Dotty, from my newest short story “Biscuits, Carats, and Gravy.” She’s a grandmother who loves Thanksgiving. The whole family comes to her home, and she gets to show off her gorgeous crystal, her perfect decorations, and her Martha Stewart-like dishes. So far so good. But then throw into the mix a twenty-year-old airhead intent on marrying into the family—and on getting her hands on Dotty’s deceased mother’s engagement ring—and now you have conflict.
Will Dotty let the airhead get her way? Are you kidding? Dotty comes up with a plan to save the ring involving cunning, deception, and some horrible, horrible gravy. Things start out okay, but sometimes the best laid plans ... well, you know.
I had a story published last year, “The Worst Noel,” in The Gift of Murder anthology, that started at Thanksgiving and ended at Christmas. In between was a holiday season filled with so much family-togetherness that my main character, Gwen, was pushed right over the edge. When a narcissistic mother clearly loves one sister more the other, you shouldn’t be surprised when the less-favored daughter decides to seek a little personal justice, should you?
Dotty and Gwen aren’t the only devious character running around these days. The anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry, where “Biscuits, Carats, and Gravy” appears, is comprised of nine Thanksgiving stories, each with memorable characters. Mobsters. Felons. Even turkeys and spuds. Each story is funny, and each one involves a Thanksgiving food, which is perfect, because the only thing better than mysteries with conflict are mysteries with conflict and good hearty laughs.
The Killer Wore Cranberry has been released as an e-book by the publisher, Untreed Reads. You can buy it from all the online bookstores to download onto your e-reader. Don’t have an e-reader? No worries. You can also download the book as a PDF onto your computer. And since we’re talking about a food-related anthology, it’s fitting that if you don’t want to buy the whole book, you can instead buy each of the stories individually, a la carte.
So when you’re on your last nerve this week, with the children screaming and the pots overflowing, and you’re about to beat your husband with your turkey baster, stop, download, and relax. I promise, in the few minutes it takes to read one of these short stories, you’ll regain your sanity and your smile. And then you’ll be ready to spend time with your family. Well, as ready as you can be.
Thanksgiving. I have a lot to give thanks for: my family, my friends, my health, and the wonderful mystery community. I'm having Thanksgiving at my home this year, and I must report that my family is as dysfunctional as most in the U.S., but we haven't stooped to murder! That can't be said for the families in the following updated list of Thanksgiving Mysteries. As the saying goes, "Families are like Fudge, sweet with a few nuts thrown in."
And, if you're cooking the turkey or baking the pies, be sure to check out Mystery Lovers' Kitchen for Thanksgiving recipes and cooking techniques from Mystery Writing Cooks Avery Aames, Julie Hyzy, Jenn McKinlay, Riley Adams, Cleo Coyle, & Krista Davis.
S.H. Baker The Colonel's Tale
Bob Berger The Risk of Fortune
William Bernhardt Natural Suspect
Kate Borden Death of a Turkey
Carole Bugge Who Killed Mona Lisa?
Sammi Carter Goody Goody Gunshots
Christine E. Collier A Holiday Sampler
Sheila Connolly A Killer Crop
Isis Crawford A Catered Thanksgiving
Bill Crider w/Willard Scott Murder under Blue Skies
Amanda Cross Trap for Fools
Barbara D'Amato Hard Tack
Mary Daheim AlpineFury and Fowl Prey
Jeanne Dams Sins Out of School
Claire Daniels Final Intuition
Evelyn David Murder Takes the Cake
Krista Davis The Diva Runs Out of Thyme
Michael Dibdin Thanksgiving
Joanne Dobson Raven and the Nightingale
Christine Duncan Safe House
Janet Evanovich Thanksgiving (technically a romance)*
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain A Fatal Feast (Murder She Wrote)
Katherine V. Forrest The Beverly Malibu
Noreen Gilpatrick The Piano Man
Martin H. Greenberg (editor) Cat Crimes for the Holidays
Jane Haddam Feast of Murder
Lee Harris The Thanksgiving Day Murder
J. Alan Hartman, editor, The Killer Wore Cranberry
Robin Hathaway The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call
Richard Hawke Speak of the Devil
Victoria Houston Dead Hot Shot
Ellen Elizabeth Hunter Murder on the ICW
Melanie Jackson Death in a Turkey Town
J. A. Jance Shoot Don't Shoot
Faye Kellerman Serpent's Tooth
Harry Kemelman That Day the Rabbi Left Town
Clyde Linsley Death of a Mill Girl
Georgette Livingston Telltale Turkey Caper
Nial Magill Thanksgiving Murder in the Mountains
Margaret Maron Up Jumps the Devil
Evan Marshall Stabbing Stefanie
Ralph McInerny Celt and Pepper
Leslie Meier Turkey Day Murder
Deborah Morgan The Marriage Casket
Louise Penny Still Life
Cathy Pickens Southern Fried
Ann Ripley Harvest of Murder
Willard Scott w/Bill Crider Murder under Blue Skies
Sarah R. Shaber Snipe Hunt
Denise Swanson Murder of a Barbie and Ken, Murder of a Botoxed Blonde
Marcia Talley Occasion of Revenge
Jennifer Vanderbes Strangers at the Feast
Livia J. Washburn The Pumpkin Muffin Murder
Leslie Wheeler Murder at Plimoth Plantation
Angela Zeman The Witch and the Borscht Pearl
Sara Paretsky has been named the 2011 Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Sara Paretsky will be presented with her award at The Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28, 2011.
Two exceptional mystery bookstores will be honored with the 2011 Raven Award. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Once Upon a Crime, in Minneapolis, MN, and Centuries & Sleuths in Chicago, IL, will receive recognition for their contribution to the mystery community.
Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore was named one of the Ten Best Bookstores in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune. Many customers have tagged the owner, Augie Alesky, as the coolest bookseller in Chicago. "I have always wanted a Raven. The mystery community is such a great place,” Alesky said upon hearing the news.
Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore owners Pat Frovarp and Gary Schulze read, review, promote, and hand-sell mysteries, from small presses and new authors to the biggest best- sellers. Pat was thrilled to hear about the Raven Award, "What a wonderful, wonderful honor!" she said.
I welcome once again Randal S. Brandtas Guest blogger. Randal S. Brandt is a librarian at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and the creator of two critically-acclaimed websites: Golden Gate Mysteries, an annotated bibliography of crime fiction set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and A David Dodge Companion, chronicling the life and works of mystery/thriller writer David Dodge (1910-1974). He has recently written the introductions to new editions of Dodge’s Death and Taxes (July, 2010) and To Catch a Thief (October, 2010). Thanks, Randal!
Return of the Cat by Randal S. Brandt
In 1951, a novel called TO CATCH A THIEF, still in galley form, landed on the desk of film director Alfred Hitchcock. The story had everything in it that Hitchcock was looking for in a film: mystery, suspense, romance, glamour, and—best of all—an exotic setting in the South of France. The French Riviera had long been one of Hitch’s favorite vacation spots, and he bought the film rights to the novel in December 1951, a month before the book appeared in hardcover in January 1952.
TO CATCH A THIEF was written by well-traveled author David Dodge and tells the story of American expatriate John Robie, a retired acrobat-turned-jewel-thief (known in the newspapers as “Le Chat”) living peacefully and quietly in a villa in the South of France. Robie had been arrested before World War II and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. But, during the occupation of France, the German army foolishly set the prisoners free. The prisoners promptly went into the maquis, the French underground, and used their skills and talents against the Nazis. After liberation, in gratitude for their “service,” the French government gave the prisoners provisional paroles—paroles that could be revoked at the first suspicion that they had returned to their old ways. Robie’s provisional liberty is threatened when a copy-cat thief starts working in the Riviera. Determined to avoid his prison sentence, Robie goes undercover to catch the thief himself. During the course of his investigation, he makes the acquaintance of the wealthy, bejeweled Mrs. Stevens—an irresistible target for the new Cat—and her beautiful, aloof daughter Francie (who wears no jewelry, herself), a London insurance man, and a pretty young French girl named Danielle.
So far, that sounds a lot like the Hitchcock film, right?
Even a casual student of Hitchcock knows that the director freely adapted his source material to reflect his personal vision for the film treatment. TO CATCH A THIEF, released by Paramount Pictures in 1955 with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in the starring roles, is no exception. Several years after the film was released, Dodge observed: “All that survived in the end were the title, the names of some of the characters and the copyright, which was mine.” It was a little more than that. Several plot points and locations are lifted directly from the novel. But the changes are indeed numerous and significant. Key characters in the novel are either radically altered or dropped altogether. When Robie goes undercover in the book, he employs a disguise that would have made the casting of the svelte Cary Grant in the role extravagant. And, it is certainly not giving anything away to reveal that Dodge’s Francie is a brunette, not a cool Hitchcock blonde like Grace Kelly.
But, while the film version has been readily available to viewers for a number of years on home video, TO CATCH A THIEF, the novel, has been virtually out of reach to most readers. No doubt spurred by the rumors that Hitchcock was interested in it, initial sales of the hardcover edition were brisk enough that the novel caught the attention of Reader’s Digest, which issued a condensed version later that same year. A Dell paperback edition appeared in 1953—with a cover illustration of a beautiful, bikini-clad blonde that looks suspiciously like Miss Kelly. And that, as far as U.S. publication is concerned, is basically it. In England, a hardcover appeared in 1953, followed by a green-and-white Penguin paperback in 1955. A British book club edition was published in the 1970’s and a trade paperback surfaced in 1988. In the last twenty years, copies of any of these versions of the novel in the used book trade have steadily climbed in price, effectively eluding the hands of all but the most serious collectors.
Fortunately, this problem has now been solved with a new edition of the novel published by Bruin Books. Issued as part of the Bruin Crimeworks line, TO CATCH A THIEF is now available in the United States for the first time in over fifty years and fans of Alfred Hitchcock and David Dodge alike will at last be able to take a long look at the book that inspired one of the iconic films of the twentieth century.
Postscript: A brand new adaptation of the novel is coming soon! On January 8, 2011, TO CATCH A THIEF, dramatized by Jean Buchanan (who contributed the afterword to the Bruin Books edition), will be presented on BBC Radio 4 as part of the Saturday Play series.
Don't you wish you could read more than one book at the same time?
These self-portrait photos are by Manu Pombrol who digitally modifies his photographs in Adobe Photoshop. They're all amazing. See more at Toxel.com (one of my favorite sites for odd but interesting photos and news).
WORDHARVEST Writers Workshops and Thomas Dunne Books/ Minotaur Books announced today that Liberty, Indiana resident Tricia Fields' novel The Territory has won in the fourth year of the Tony Hillerman Prize.
Tricia Fields was born in Hawaii but has spent most of her life in small town Indiana, where she lives in a log cabin on a farm with her husband and two daughters. Set in West Texas, The Territory captures the Southwest's inimitable landscape and the current border issues as they affect the regular people living in a remote town near the Rio Grande.
The Tony Hillerman Prize is awarded annually to the best unpublished mystery set in the Southwest written by a first-time author.
Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries, set on the Navajo reservation, were the first "regional" mysteries to become national bestsellers. Anne Hillerman, Tony Hillerman's daughter, launched the first Tony Hillerman Writers Conference: Focus on Mystery in 2004 through the business which she co-founded (with Jean Schaumberg), WORDHARVEST Writers Workshops. The conference highlights the art and craft of the mystery and features prominent published mystery writers.
Thomas Dunne Books and Minotaur Books are imprints of St. Martin's Press, which is a subsidiary of Macmillan.
So I blogged about unusual cemeteries the other day, and I thought the following post would be a nice companion: Headstones and Epitaphs. Of course, the entire range is great. I have over 20 books on epitaphs, as well as books on headstones and monuments. As I've mentioned before, my two favorite cemeteries are Pere la Chaise outside Paris and Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. London's Hightower Cemetery is great, too
With epitaphs you usually learn the person's name, date of birth, date of death, perhaps who they are survived by or whom they're buried with. On some headstones, the epitaphs tell a story about the individual, using poems and verses. Most headstones are simple, but then there are the others! These are the ones that make you say, "What! You're kidding me?" I like headstones that tell a story.
"Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102, The Good Die Young" East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia
"Here lies Johnny Yeast, Pardon me For not rising" Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery
"She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her" Margaret Daniels, Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia "Here lies an Atheist, All dressed up And no place to go" Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery
On a hanged sheep stealer: "Here lies the body of Thomas Kemp. Who lived by wool and died by hemp." Larne, Ireland
On a coroner who hung himself: "He lived And died By suicide"
On a waiter: "Here lies the body of Detlof Swenson. Waiter. God finally caught his eye. April 10, 1902"
On a watchmaker: "Here lies in horizontal position the outside case of Dear George Routleight, watchmaker, whose abilities in that line were an honor to his profession -- integrity was the mainspring, and prudence the regulator of all the actions of his life. Humane, generous, and liberal, his hand never stopped until he had relieved distress. So nicely regulated were all his movements that he never went wrong, except when set agoing by people who did not know his key; even then he was easily set right again. He had the art of disposing his time so well that the hours glided away in one continued round of pleasure and delight, till an unlucky moment put a period to his existence. He departed this life November 14, 1802, aged fifty-seven. Wound up in hopes of being taken in hand by his Maker and being thoroughly cleansed, repaired, and set agoing in the world to come." St Petrock's Church, Lyford, Devon, England "Tears cannot restore her -- therefore I weep" New Hampshire cemetery
On an adulterous husband: "Gone, but not forgiven" Atlanta, Georgia
"See You Soon" Tulocay Cemetery -- Napa, CA
"On vacation, hold mail" Tulocay Cemetery -- Napa, CA
In many cultures and religions, cemeteries (from the Greek koimeterion or Latin coemeterium, meaningsleeping place) are used for death ceremonies, burial, mourning, and memorial. Unusual or historical cemeteries have also become popular tourist attractions-- cemetery tourism, the ‘dark’ side of tourism, is a growing phenomenon around the world. I don't find this odd at all since people used to congregate in cemeteries on weekend afternoons for picnics.
Today's List of Top 10 Unusual Cemeteries is from Timeea Vinerean at Toptenz.
10. World’s First Public Pet Cemetery: Cimetiere Des Chiens. a cemetery for dogs and other domestic animals, is said to be the world’s oldest public pet cemetery. Asnières-sur-Seine, Paris, France. Opened in 1899. The most famous gravestone belongs to Rin Tin Tin, the legendary American dog that starred in various Hollywood movies.
9. Highway to Hell? Stull Cemetery. Located in Kansas, this cemetery has gained the reputation as one of the world’s most haunted cemeteries. There are so many legends, stories of witchcraft, ghosts and supernatural happenings surrounding it that even Pope John Paul II allegedly ordered his private jet not to fly over Stull while he was on the way to a public appearance in Colorado in 1995. The Pope considered Stull “unholy ground”.
8. Winchester Geese: Cross Bones Graveyard. Traditionally called the Single Women’s Graveyard, dates back to medieval times. It was the final resting place for prostitutes (locally known as the Winchester Geese) working in London’s legalized brothels. Tudor historian John Stow wrote in his 1603 Survey Of London: “These single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Woman’s churchyard, appointed for them far from the parish church.”
7. Natural Mummies from Mother Nature: La Chiesa dei Morti, The Church of the Dead, Urbania, Italy. Inside lies the Cemetery of the Mummies, which was built in 1833. Famous for its strange phenomenon of natural mummification. According to specialists, the process is caused by a particular mold that has absorbed moisture from the corpses leading to the complete desiccation of the bodies.
6. The Mafia Cemetery. Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery. In the 1990s, Yekaterinburg was known as ‘The crime capital of Russia.’ Many of the leaders of the Russian Mafia lived there and Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery was the final resting place for many of them. Very expensive tombs, black marble, precious stones, laser-engraved images and life-size granite gravestones are common here.
5. The World’s First Underwater Cemetery: Neptune Memorial Reef (aka the Atlantis Memorial Reef or the Atlantis Reef) World’s first underwater mausoleum for cremated remains and the world’s largest man-made reef. Opened in 2007, off the coast of Miami Beach.
4. The Merry Cemetery. Northern Romania. Merry Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Atypical design of the tombstones, which are painted by hand in vivid colors, such as red, blue, green, and yellow. Tombstones are big crosses sculpted from oak wood, engraved with funny epitaphs briefly describing the life or the circumstances in which these persons passed away.
3. How Do I Bury Thee, Let Me Count the Ways…The Bridge to Paradise, in the Xcaret Nature and Cultural Park, Mexico. Cemetery simulates a hill with seven levels representing the days of the week and 365 colorful tombs on the outside depicting the days of the year. Main entrance is a stairway with 52 steps that represent the weeks of the year. Each grave is different from the others in design and building materials. One might look like a replica of a famous cathedral, while the next one looks like a sofa or a bed with headboard and pillows.
2. Mysterious Hanging Coffins of China. Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province. Hanging coffins is an ancient funeral custom found only in Asia: there are hanging coffins in China, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Some coffins are cantilevered out on wooden stakes, while some lay on rock projections. Other coffins are simply placed in caves. The hanging coffins of the Bo people in Gongxian, Sichuan Province, the Guyue people of Dragon Tiger Mountain and the Guyue people of Wuyi Mountain are the most famous. The Wuyi Mountain coffins are the oldest; some are more than 3,750 years old.
1. Ancient Egyptian Burial Grounds. The Cemeteries of Giza and the Valley of the Kings. The Giza Plateau, the site of the mysterious Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and thousands of tombs. The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu or Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and biggest. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it houses the body of Pharaoh Khufu and was built with more than 2 million stones over a period of 20 years. The Valley of the Kings, a World Heritage Site, is known to contain more than 60 tombs and 120 chambers. It was the main burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom.
If you're not a subscriber, you can still enjoy some of the essays. The Journal is packed with reviews and articles, including the very special Author! Author! essays. Here's a sampling from those essays by Mystery Author Ann Cleeves. Ann Cleeves lives on the northeast coast of England with her ornithologist husband Tim. Her latest Shetland novel Blue Lightning is being published by Minotaur in the fall of 2010.
The Bleak and Beautiful Islands by Ann Cleeves
I first went to Shetland more than thirty years ago. I'd dropped out of university and was offered a temporary job as assistant cook in Fair Isle bird observatory. At that point I wasn't even sure where Fair Isle was, though I'd heard of the famous knitting; I thought vaguely it was one of the western isles. But Fair Isle, Britain's most remote inhabited island, is part of the Shetland group and that's as far north as you can get in the UK, closer to Bergen in Norway than London. Fair Isle is a long way from anywhere—13 hours overnight by boat from Aberdeen to Shetland mainland and then three hours by mail boat into the Isle.
So I arrived on a stormy spring afternoon to be assistant cook in the bird observatory on Fair Isle, knowing nothing about birds and not being able to cook! I was twenty years old and looking for adventure. That summer changed my life. I met my husband there. I had the space and the time to read more widely than ever before. And I learned to cook. The next year I went back—only this time I was in charge of the kitchen.
Fair Isle is about three and a half miles long and a mile and a half wide. It has a permanent population of about 50 people, an airstrip, a natural harbour and a hill covered with heather, where the aggressive skuas breed. The cliffs provide homes for puffins, kittiwakes and gannets. Because of its position it attracts rare birds from east and west. The people live in a scattering of croft houses in the south of the island and are warm and welcoming to incomers. I spent my time off in gossip and listening to stories. I learned to hand milk a cow, clip a sheep and even to knit—never did quite get the hang of the intricate steps of the dances though!
Shetland itself comprises half a dozen or so inhabited islands. Shetland mainland is 60 miles from top to toe and the archipelago has a population of more than 20,000. Check out the map on my website for more details and to see where the books are set. There's a town, Lerwick. Oil came to the community in the 1970s bringing affluence, work and foreigners. All this makes it an interesting place to explore, imaginatively and in reality.
Since that first trip, my husband and I have been regular visitors to the islands. We have very good friends there. But I didn't consider setting a book in the place until 2005 when we made a brief mid-winter visit. A very rare bird had turned up between Christmas and New Year and Tim was desperate to see it. We arrived to snow and ice. There are few trees in Shetland so the landscape was bleak and bare. Looking across the frozen fields we saw three ravens against the snow. I'm a crime writer and I thought if there were blood as well it would be like a scene from a fairy story: powerful, almost mythical. That was how Raven Black was born.
I'm very grateful to Shetland. I'd been published for twenty years before Raven Black, to reasonable reviews but very little commercial success. The book went on to win the CWA Gold Dagger, be short-listed for the Martin Beck Award in Sweden and to be translated into nearly twenty languages. It's been optioned for television and adapted for radio in the UK and Germany. Shetland obviously caught the readers' imagination, just as it had caught mine.
Quite soon I decided that I'd write a quartet set in Shetland. The islands lie so far to the north that the seasons vary dramatically. Winter and summer are very different. In winter it's dark for most of the day. In summer it's light almost all night. In June you can read a newspaper outside at midnight. The sun slides towards the horizon in a strange kind of dusk and then rises again. Shetlanders call this the simmer dim. The autumn equinox brings storms and early spring can be wet and gloomy.
Raven Black, the winter book, is bleak and dark; the summer book, White Nights, is more playful. It's about performance and pretence and things being not quite what they seem. A stranger appears at the party to open an exhibition by a local artist, but seems not to know who he is or why he's there. The story also features a brilliant young fiddle player: Shetland is famous for its wonderful folk music. The character is loosely based on Fair Islander Chris Stout of the band Fiddlers' Bid. I went to his parents' wedding when I was first on the Isle and now he and I perform at festivals and gigs together and he's called his most recent album White Nights...
Red Bones is set in the spring, a time of mist. The story is about digging into the past—literally in an archaeological dig of a mediaeval merchant's house, but psychologically too. It's about greed and envy, set on Whalsay, which is the wealthiest island because most of Shetland's deep sea fishing boats moor there.
There's a series detective who appears in each book. Jimmy Perez is a Fair Islander—his exotic name comes from his Spanish ancestry. There is a real Spanish armada shipwreck off the island and there were survivors. I wanted my character to be an outsider, but also to utterly belong. His family has been in the islands for five centuries but still he's viewed with suspicion.
Now I'm preparing for publication of the fourth book. In Blue Lightning I go back to Fair Isle, where my passion for Shetland all started. I found it a remarkably easy book to write, because the landscape of the island is fixed in my imagination. I've created a fictional field centre in the lighthouse at the north of the Isle and one of my characters is the cook there. The autumn gales mean that no planes or boats can reach the place, and when a body is found, Jimmy Perez, on holiday with his parents, has to work the case without any technical support.
Now that the quartet is complete, will I return to Shetland in my writing? Of course! There'll be a gap, because one of my Vera Stanhope novels has been adapted for television and it makes sense to concentrate on her for a while, but Shetland is a very special place. It's impossible to stay away.
The Galaxy Book Awards were held last night in London. Thanks to The Rap Sheet for reporting. There was no separate Crime and Thrillers category this year, but a number of books in the genre were nominated under other headings. None, sadly, won.
November 11 is Veteran's Day. Originally known as Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) November 11 commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning — the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" 1918.
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day as November 11, 1919. The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. The 11th of November is"a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'." It was later changed to Veteran's Day. Too many wars.
Given that I love to read mysteries that reflect regions and holidays, it's only natural that I planned to compile a list for Veteran's Day. Of course, Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd's mysteries were at the top of my list, but one of the most complete lists is BV Lawson's 2007 invaluable blog of Veteran's Day Mysteries. No need for me to duplicate her effort. Be sure and read her blog, as well as all the comments. Another fine list is In Remembrance Fiction in Times of War (not all mysteries) from the St. Charles Public Library. I also did a Memorial Day blog here on Mystery Fanfare.