Monday, January 31, 2011

Crime Express Imprint

Five Leaves announces the re-launch of its Crime Express imprint in April 2011 with the release of four tales of crime and suspense.  David Belbin, series editor, presents three new novellas by authors Danuta Reah (who  also writes as Carla Banks), Charlie Williams and Ray Banks. The re-launch also includes a reprint of Stephen Booth's popular novella Claws, which sold out in its 2007 Crime Express edition.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Parnell Hall: Constructing Crossword Puzzles (Mystery Readers Journal)

This Author! Author! essay by Parnell Hall appears in the Mystery Readers Journal: Hobbies, Crafts & Special Interests (Volume 26:4). To order this issue, go HERE and scroll down. Available as hardcopy or .pdf

Parnell Hall is the author of the Puzzle Lady crossword puzzle mysteries, the Stanley Hastings private eye novels, and the Steve Winslow courtroom dramas. His music video of the 2010 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, "The Sunday Morning, 7th Puzzle, Fear of 4th Place Blues," can be seen on YouTube, along with several of his music videos about mystery writing.

Constructing Crossword Puzzles by Parnell Hall

When I set out to write the Puzzle Lady crossword puzzle mysteries, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just thought having a crossword puzzle connected to a mystery would be a neat hook that might get the book published and perhaps even read.

So I created Cora Felton, a little old lady with a nationally syndicated crossword puzzle column, who solves crime on the side. I also made her a total fraud. Cora is the Milli Vanilli of the crossword puzzle community, whose smiling face adorns the column, but whose niece, Sherry Carter, actually writes it.

This, of course, results in the Superman syndrome—Cora Felton has a secret identity she has to protect. This is a huge problem for her, since crime seems to flourish in the small town of Bakerhaven, Connecticut, particularly crimes involving crossword puzzles, and the chief of police is always asking her to solve them. Cora not only hates crosswords, she couldn't solve one with a gun to her head.

I am not much better. When I set out to write the series, I hadn't done a crossword in twenty years, and I wasn't good then. I started doing the New York Times daily puzzles, just for practice. If you've never done them, watch out, they suck you in. Monday's puzzle is very easy. Tuesday's is a little harder, Wednesday's is harder than that, and by Saturday the clues are so hard they might as well be in Sanskrit.

I practiced hard, got a little more proficient, and entered the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, the national competition held each year in Stamford, Connecticut. I didn't know what to expect, but the first puzzle was pretty easy, I was just flying through it, and I felt pretty good. I got about halfway done and I looked up and the room was empty! Everyone had finished and left. Out of 254 contestants I came in 250th, just ahead of the four people who failed to turn in a paper.

I wrote a song about my experiences, entitled "The Sunday Morning, 7th Puzzle, Fear of 4th Place Blues." I don't actually have those blues, by the way. In this year's competition, for instance, for me to have made the finals, 574 people would have to have done very poorly on the last puzzle.

But I met Will Shortz, the New York Times crossword editor, who runs the tournament. He read my first book, A Clue for the Puzzle Lady, and gave me a wonderful blurb for the cover: "Fresh, funny, and ingeniously devised, it kept me guessing right down to the end, just like a good crossword!"

Of course, he wasn't reviewing my puzzle.

In the early books I constructed the puzzles myself. This was a mistake. Constructing a puzzle took me almost as long as writing the book. Plus I got things wrong. When A Clue for the Puzzle Lady came out, National Champion Ellen Ripstein emailed me to point out errors in the puzzle. For instance, the clue "Tipped to show respect," for the answer, "Hat," in addition to not being very good, was also incorrect. The phrase did not describe a noun. To yield the word, "Hat," the clue would have to be, "It's tipped to show respect."

Since then, Ellen Ripstein has edited all the puzzles in my books, catching the errors before they go to press.

I also got someone to construct the crosswords. For the first few books I foolishly hung onto the notion I had to do them myself. I figured since the crosswords had to contain clues to the murders, there was no way I could program someone else to do that.

That all changed with And a Puzzle to Die On, in which the Puzzle Lady has a birthday (she's not saying which one), and Harvey Beerbaum, a genuine cruciverbalist, who was always causing Cora aggravation though his mistaken idea that she actually liked crossword puzzles, persuades several famous New York Times constructors to shower her with crossword puzzle birthday cards. That didn't please Cora any, but it was a huge relief for me.

After that, I left the constructing to the experts. Frequent New York Times constructor Manny Nosowsky, famous for his diabolically ingenious puzzles with barely any black squares in them, offered to construct puzzles for me. I just had to figure out a way to let him do it. The solution was, I would write the theme entries, the long answers I needed the puzzles to contain, and Manny would construct the puzzles around them. The theme entry was usually a four-line poem. Since crosswords are symmetrical, the first and fourth lines had to be the same number of letters, as did the second and third. In Dead Man's Puzzle, for instance, Manny embeds the poem:

By this gun
I am cursed
But I never
Came first

In this case, Manny assumes the identity of the victim, constructing the dead man's last puzzle. In Stalking the Puzzle Lady, Manny constructed puzzles for the killer. He's also done puzzles for the Puzzle Lady column. And he loves to throw in tricks. I can say, "Give me some poker terms," and he'll scatter a half-a-dozen throughout the puzzle, and I can have Cora notice that and realize it's a clue.

Manny even constructed a puzzle that could be changed into another puzzle. For the book You Have the Right To Remain Puzzled, Cora gets roped into creating a puzzle for a young housewife to help break the news to her husband that she dented the car. Sherry, who's just been proposed to by young reporter Aaron Grant, and is way too distracted to construct anything, takes a puzzle "My Apology" by Benny Southstreet from a book, and changes the last line of the sarcastic poem, from:

My apology I'll
Not prolong
I'm so sorry
You were wrong


If I went wrong

Which would have worked perfectly, if Benny Southsteet hadn't sued the Puzzle Lady for plagiarism and then gotten murdered, making her the prime suspect.

But that's okay.

That's the type of puzzle I can deal with.

Just so long as I don't have to construct crosswords.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ariana Franklin: R.I.P.

Sad news.

The BBC reports that Ariana Franklin, author of the historical mystery Mistress of the Art of Death, has died at the age of 77.  Franklin won the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger for Mistress of the Art of Death from the CWA. She also wrote The Serpent's Tale, Grave Goods and The Murderous Possession in this series.

Under the name Diana Norman she wrote several historical novels.

She has been seriously ill and spent time in the hospital. Very sad.

Reading Flash Mob

Gotta Keep Reading- Ocoee Middle School

Hat Tip: Crimespree Cats

The Mystery of Edwin Drood: BBC Drama

BBC News reported that Gwyneth Hughes completed Dickens's unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, giving the work a new ending for the BBC Four drama that will be screened later this year.

Dickens died in 1870 before completing the story. He gave his biographer John Forster a brief outline of the tale. The adaptation "forms part of a season of programs on TV and radio to celebrate the printed word for the BBC's Year Of Books," BBC News wrote.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oozing Anatomically Correct Cake Hearts

O.K, you know I post odd things. This anatomically correct cake is Perfect for Valentine's Day.

Oozing Anatomically Correct Cake-Hearts

Baker Lily Vanilli is selling these oozing, anatomically correct cake-hearts for Valentine's Day. They're a little larger than a cupcake, made of red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting and blackcurrant and cherry "blood". They come in a clear box tied with a pink or red ribbon.

£7 plus delivery, which includes a charitable donation: 20% of the sale of every 'bleeding heart' goes to Trekstock: the music and fashion charity that raises awareness and support for young people with cancer.

Available exclusively through, or email Orders must be placed by February 12. (No U.S. delivery)

Hat Tip: Becky at ChefReinvented

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

POE, a crime procedural

ABC will be producing a one-hour drama pilot titled POE. 

"POE is a crime procedural that follows Edgar Allan Poe as the world's first detective, using unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries in 19th-century Boston." Chris Hollier penned the script and will serve as supervising producer, with Dan Lin as executive producer. Warner Bros. and Lin Pictures are behind the project.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

PW's Top 10 Spring Mysteries & Thrillers

Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Spring Mysteries & Thrillers

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell. Knopf, March..
The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming. St. Martin's, March.
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higshino. Minotaur, February.
The Informationist by Taylor Stevens. Crown, March.
Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark. Mulholland, April.
Red on Red by Edward Conlon. Spiegal & Grau, April.
The Night Season by Chelsea Cain. Minotaur, March.
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown, April.
The Fire of the Gods by I.J. Parker. Severn, March.
Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. Minotaur, July.

(although technically the Cotterill is a Summer publication!)

Read the rest of the lists (other subjects) and comments by Peter Cannon on the mystery/thriller category (scroll down) HERE.

Hammett Prize Nominees

The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers announced the nominees for their annual HAMMETT PRIZE for a work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author.

The nominees:

Jonathan Eig, Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster (Simon & Schuster)
Tom Franklin, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel (William Morrow)
T. Jefferson Parker, Iron River (Dutton)
Olen Steinhauer, The Nearest Exit (St. Martin's/Minotaur)

A reading committee of IACW/NA members selected the nominees, based on recommendations from other members and the publishing community. The committee was headed by Jillian Abbott and included J. Madison Davis, Robert Knightly, Annette Meyers, and Ann Romeo.

The winner will be chosen by three outside judges: David Savran (Distinguished Professor of Theatre, CUNY Graduate Center), author of Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New
Middle Class; Bonnie Scherr, owner of Baltimore's Ivy Book Shop; and Robin Whitten, Editor of AudioFile.

The organization will name the HAMMETT PRIZE winner on September 20, in Atlantic City, during the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) Fall Conference. The winner will receive a bronze trophy, designed by California sculptor Peter Boiger.

CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award: Lindsey Davis

Crime Writers Association (UK) just announced that the Diamond Dagger was awarded to Lindsey Davis!

The award from the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA), which is sponsored by Cartier, honors outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing.The award, the 26th time the Dagger has been presented, will be presented by Cartier UK’s Executive Chairman Arnaud Bamberger at a date and venue yet to be arranged.

Hat Tip: Shots: The Crime & Thriller Ezine

Dilys Award Nominees

The nominees for the Dilys Award, given by the Independent Mystery Booksellers to the book booksellers most enjoyed selling:
THE LOCK ARTIST, Steve Hamilton
BURY YOUR DEAD, Louise Penny
ONCE A SPY, Keith Thomson
SAVAGES, by Don Winslow.

The winner will be announced in March at Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe

Hat Tip: Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookshop, Ann Arbor

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Left Coast Crime 2011 Award Nominations

Left Coast Crime 2011 — AKA "The Big Chile" — will give four awards at its 22nd annual convention to be held this year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 26th, 2011, at the historic La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza. The nomination period has just concluded. Nominees for works published in 2010:

The Lefty has been awarded for the best humorous mystery novel since 1996. This year’s nominees, in alphabetical order, are:

           1. Donna Andrews, Stork Raving Mad (Minotaur Books)
           2. Laura DiSilverio, Swift Justice (Minotaur Books/Thomas Dunne Books)
           3. Donna Moore, Old Dogs (Busted Flush Press)
           4. Kris Neri, Revenge for Old Times' Sake (Cherokee McGhee)
           5. J. Michael Orenduff, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein (Oak Tree Press)

The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award, first awarded in 2004, is given for mystery novels covering events before 1950. This year’s nominees are:

           1. Rebecca Cantrell, A Night of Long Knives (Forge Books)
           2. Robert Kresge, Murder for Greenhorns (ABQ Press)
           3. Kelli Stanley, City of Dragons (Minotaur Books)
           4. Jeri Westerson, The Demon’s Parchment (Minotaur Books)
           5. Jacqueline Winspear, The Mapping of Love and Death (HarperCollins)

The Hillerman Sky Award is a special award given this year, in honor of the convention’s New Mexico location, to the mystery that best captures the landscape of the Southwest:

           1. Sandi Ault, Wild Penance (Berkley Hardcover)
           2. Christine Barber, The Bone Fire (Minotaur Books)
           3. Margaret Coel, The Spider's Web (Berkley Hardcover)
           4. Deborah J Ledford, Snare (Second Wind Publishing)

The Watson is another special award given this year to the mystery novel with the best sidekick. The nominees are:

           1. Sandi Ault, Wild Penance (Berkley Hardcover)
           2. Rachel Brady, Dead Lift (Poisoned Pen Press)
           3. Chris Grabenstein, Rolling Thunder (Pegasus)
           4. Craig Johnson, Junkyard Dogs (Viking)
           5. Spencer Quinn, To Fetch a Thief (Atria)

The Left Coast Crime Convention is an annual event sponsored by fans of mystery literature, for fans of mystery literature, including both readers and authors. Held in the western half of North America, LCC’s intent is to provide an event where mystery fans can gather in convivial surroundings to pursue their mutual interests.

The 22nd annual Left Coast Crime Convention will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 24-27, 2011. The convention’s theme, The Big Chile, highlights the essence that powers the food that fuels mystery fans living in and visiting New Mexico and the Southwest, as well as many of the fictional characters in books set in this part of the country. Noted author Martin Cruz Smith will be recognized for his Lifetime Achievement. Author Guests of Honor are Margaret Coel and Steven Havill. Marv Lachman is this year's Fan Guest of Honor, and author Steve Brewer is Toastmaster. The Big Chile "ghosts of honor" — who wrote important novels set in Northern New Mexico and the Southwest — are Dorothy B. Hughes (1904-1993) and Frances Crane (1896-1981).

Thanks to Lucinda Surber & Stan Ulrich, LCC 2011 Awards Committee Co-Chairs, for sending the news! Congratulations to all!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mystery Readers Journal (Vol 26:4): Hobbies, Crafts & Special Interests

Mystery Readers Journal (Vol 26:4): Hobbies, Crafts & Special Interests has just been published. Author essays by Susan Wittig Albert, Laura Childs, Parnell Hall, Karen Olson and many more. This issue is available as a .pdf or Hardcopy. To order as a .pdf, go here. Also available as Hardcopy. Go here and scroll down.

Mystery Readers Journal is a review quarterly magazine with reviews, articles and author essays. Each issue focuses on a different theme. To SUBSCRIBE for calendar year 2011 of Mystery Readers Journal that will include two issues of London Mysteries, Animal Mysteries, and Shrinks and Mental Health Professionals, go HERE.

Table of Contents: Mystery Readers Journal,  Hobbies, Crafts & Special Interests

  • Camp Follower for the Weekend by Suzanne Adair
  • A Bead of Roses by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Buzz Miller and Black Thumb Gardening by Gale Borger
  • Confessions from the Craft-Free Zone by Kate Carlisle
  • Murder and Mayhem for Fun and Profit! by Dianne Castell
  • A Scrapbook Full of Clues by Laura Childs
  • Brewing Up Murder by Cleo Coyle
  • Pretty Things by Monica Ferris
  • A Warm and Cozy Place by Sally Goldenbaum
  • Shall I Kill Today or Quilt Today? by Barbara Graham
  • Crafting a Gift Basket Is Like Solving a Mystery by Beth Groundwater
  • Nick Madrid's Hobby: Astanga Vinyasa Yoga by Peter Guttridge
  • Constructing Crossword Puzzles by Parnell Hall
  • It's Not All Cakes and Quilts by Karen Harper
  • Who Knew Crochet Would Be a Killer Hobby? by Betty Hechtman
  • Collectors Anonymous by Linda Kupecek
  • Creating the Crafty Sleuth by Mary Ellen Hughes
  • Pets As Hobbies... Or Not? by Linda O. Johnston
  • Modern Mysteries Feature Colonial Home Crafts by Cricket McRae
  • Writing from Life by Annette Mahon
  • Is It Real or Is It a Dollhouse? by Camille Minichino
  • If Quilts Could Kill by Clare O'Donohue
  • When the Ink Flows: Writing What I Don't Know by Karen Olson
  • Quilted Memories by Barbara Sullivan
  • There She Is by Jane Tesh
  • Crossword: It's a Puzzle by Verna Suit
  • My Creative Life by Joanna Campbell Slan
  • Writing About and Collecting Dollhouse Miniatures by Christine Verstraete
  • How a Quilter Became a Writer by Terri Thayer
  • My Mathematical Hobby by Jerry Weinberg
  • A Special Interest in Murder by Anne White
  • Tales from a 19th-Century Childhood by Lea Wait
  • The Solution Is in the Cards by Tina Whittle
  • Why Murder Happens in the Pottery Studio by Gayle Wigglesworth
  • Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers by Lois Winston
  • Matryoshka Dolls Inspire a "Nested" Mystery by Joyce Yarrow
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, L.J Roberts
  • The Scrapbook of Memoirs by Jen Forbus
  • True Crime: A Special Interest in Murder by Cathy Pickens
  • Children's Hour: Hobbies, Crafts and Special Interests by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • Mystery Seen: Detectives with Hobbies by Kate Derie
  • In Short: Interesting Hobbies by Marvin Lachman
  • From the Editor's Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Chair

Talk about being organized. I can get behind this Bibliochase book-chair! Always a book at your fingertips. O.K. the iPad or Kindle might do that, too, but I love the idea of being surrounded by books (ok, again, I already am surrounded, but they're in stacks)...organized books, the smell of books. Cool!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mystery Bytes: Ken Bruen's Black Lens

The serialization of Ken Bruen's Black Lens begins today on the Mulholland books Website.  One chapter a week! Art by mystery author and artist and bon vivant Jonathan Santlofer.  Fabulous.

Ken Bruen has been a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards, and has won a Macavity Award, a Barry Award, and two Shamus Awards for the Jack Taylor series. He lives in Galway, Ireland. Learn more at

Edgar Nominees 2011: Mystery Writers of America

Mystery Writers of America Nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 65th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

Caught by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Faithful Place by Tana French (Penguin Group USA - Viking)
The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)
The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
The Serialist: A Novel by David Gordon (Simon & Schuster)
Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Snow Angels by James Thompson (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)
The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn (Henry Holt)
Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski (Minotaur Books)
Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis (Random House Trade Paperbacks)
Ten Little Herrings by L.C. Tyler (Felony & Mayhem Press)

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity
by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press – Bison Original)
The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in Jim Crow South by Alex Heard (HarperCollins)
Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Hellhound on his Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the International Hunt for his Assassin by Hampton Sides (Random House - Doubleday)
The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr (Alfred A. Knopf)

The Wire: Truth Be Told by Rafael Alvarez (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)
Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran (HarperCollins)
Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle and David A. Crowder (Wiley)
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendevouz with American History by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton)
Thrillers: 100 Must Reads edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner (Oceanview Publishing)

"The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)
"The Plot" – First Thrills by Jeffery Deaver (Tom Doherty – Forge Books)
"A Good Safe Place” – Thin Ice by Judith Green (Level Best Books)
"Monsieur Alice is Absent" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
by Stephen Ross (Dell Magazines)
"The Creative Writing Murders" – Dark End of the Street by Edmund White (Bloomsbury)

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)
The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee (Feiwel & Friends)
Griff Carver: Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill)
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf)
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)
The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)
Dust City by Robert Paul Weston (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill)

The Psychic by Sam Bobrick (Falcon Theatre – Burbank, CA)
The Tangled Skirt by Steve Braunstein (New Jersey Repertory Company)
The Fall of the House by Robert Ford (Alabama Shakespeare Festival)

“Episode 1” - Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)
“Episode 4” – Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)
“Full Measure” – Breaking Bad, Teleplay by Vince Gilligan (AMC/Sony)
“No Mas” – Breaking Bad, Teleplay by Vince Gilligan (AMC/Sony)
“The Next One’s Gonna Go In Your Throat” – Damages, Teleplay by Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler & Daniel Zelman (FX Networks)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD: "Skyler Hobbs and the Rabbit Man" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Evan Lewis (Dell Magazines)

GRAND MASTER: Sara Paretsky

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, Forest Park, Illinois
Once Upon A Crime Bookstore, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wild Penance by Sandi Ault (Penguin Group – Berkley Prime Crime)
Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)
Down River by Karen Harper (MIRA Books)
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Live to Tell by Wendy Corsi Staub (HarperCollins - Avon)

Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mystery Bytes: Characters continue with different Authors

I was just discussing authors writing other authors series 'in the style of' with my friend Pattie Tierney. She had several authors in mind.. authors whose series she loved. So here's some news for you Pattie. These may not be the characters you want, but these three authors are taking a turn at writing in the style of well-known mystery authors. Well maybe not all three. Time will tell about Eva's publication of the Fourth Stieg Larrson novel given how Stieg Larrson estate is tied up in knots.

According to The, Orion plans to publish a new full-length Sherlock Holmes novel, written by author Anthony Horowitz, after he was selected by the Conan Doyle Estate. Further details about the title, to be published in September, are still to be revealed.

It is the first time the Conan Doyle Estate has given its approval for a new Holmes novel.

Horowitz said: "I fell in love with the Sherlock Holmes stories when I was 16 and I've read them many times since. I simply couldn't resist this opportunity to write a brand new adventure for this iconic figure and my aim is to produce a first rate mystery for a modern audience while remaining
absolutely true to the spirit of the original."

Horowitz is the creator and writer of Foyle's War. Good credentials, but probably not for the die-hard Sherlockians.


According to the MI6 Website, Jeffery Deaver will be writing the next James Bond novel, Carte Blanche. It will come out from Hodder & Stoughton in the UK and Simon & Schuster in the US. Part of the novel will be set in Dubai.

READ MORE HERE.  And, on Jeffery Deaver's site HERE.

Eva Gabrielsson, the longtime partner of the Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson, says in a new memoir that she wants to secure the rights to complete Mr. Larsson’s fourth novel in the “Millennium” series, which he was writing when he died suddenly in 2004.

According to Agence France-Presse, which obtained a copy of the memoir, scheduled for publication in France, Norway and Sweden next week, Ms. Gabrielsson says that she and Mr. Larsson “often wrote together.” “It is not my intention to recount here the plot of the fourth volume,” she writes in the memoir. “On the other hand, I want to say that Lisbeth little by little frees herself from her ghosts and her enemies.”


10 Impressive Heists that Shocked the World

What 10 Impressive Heists Shocked the World? The Criminal Justice Degrees Blog often has some great crime-related lists, and today they answer that question. A good heist takes complicated planning and execution. As the site mentions, one needs to have guts and brains to pull it off. So here are 10 impressive heists that shocked the world.

1. DB Copper Hijacking. The only unsolved US aircraft highjacking took place on November 24, 1971, on a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle. Cooper gave a note to a flight attendant saying he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded $200,000 in unmarked bills and two sets of parachutes. This was delivered upon arrival to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The plane then flew to Reno, but not long after takeoff, Cooper jumped out of the plane, vanishing and leaving behind two of the four parachutes,  his tie and mother of pearl tie clip. Despite an extensive manhunt, he was never found. A portion of the ransom: $5,880 in dollar bills — was recovered on the banks of the Columbia River in 1980. The true whereabouts and identity of Cooper remain unknown despite several men being suspected and others coming forward through the years. The Subject of DB Cooper pops up at Bouchercon conventions.

2. Schiphol Airport Truck Hijacking. The Schiphol Airport truck hijacking on February 25, 2005 came with an estimated loot of $118 million in uncut diamonds. The thieves, using a stolen KLM truck, KLM uniforms and guns, drove up to the truck that was carrying the stones — which was en route to a plane bound for Antwerp — forced the drivers onto the ground face-first, jumped in and took off. None of the trucks’ cargo has been recovered, nor have any of the thieves been caught.

3. Antwerp Diamond Center Heist. The Antwerp Diamond Center was the target of thieves on February 16, 2003, when 123 of 160 vaults were plundered and more than $100 million in gems were stolen. No one knew about the massive breach in security until the next day, when workers stumbled upon the ransacked area, which was littered with gold, money, cut and uncut diamonds and jewels. After DNA was taken from the vault and a half-eaten sandwich found in a bag dumped by the thieves alongside a road, the heist was traced to a group of thieves named The School of Turin — one member was a diamond merchant who worked in the Diamond Center and had seen the vaults several times before. Even though law enforcement found the culprits, they have yet to recover the diamonds.

4. Harry Winston Heist. On December 4, 2008, more than $100 million in jewelry was stolen from the Paris branch of Harry Winston, one of the world’s most famous jewelers. Four armed men — three  disguised as women with long hair and winter scarves — stormed into the store and left with bags full of diamonds, rubies and emeralds. In June of 2009, 25 people were arrested in connection with the heist and some jewelry was recovered. Good news for Harry Winston, which had another robbery just 14 months earlier when $20 million in jewelry was stolen.

5. ABN Amro Bank Heist: In early March of 2007, Carlos Hector Flomenbaum managed to steal $28 million in diamonds from the ABN Amro Bank in Antwerp. The heist was a year in the making for Flomenbaum, who charmed employees and ultimately won their trust, as he was given a special key to access his diamonds when he pleased. Almost four years later, authorities still haven’t uncovered his true identity nor have the diamonds been recovered.

6. Central Bank of Iraq Heist: The largest bank heist of all-time was orchestrated by one of the world’s biggest criminals. During the lead -up to the US invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein ordered for approximately $1 billion to be taken from the Central Bank of Iraq and given to his son Qusay, who would oversee the loading of three large trucks. According to Saddam, the action was taken "to protect this money from American aggression." About $650 million was later found by US troops in the walls of Saddam’s palace. Some people might not consider this a heist since Saddam was in power at the time.

7. Dar Es Salaam Bank Heist: Post-Saddam Iraq was the setting of another massive bank heist, though the almost $300 million in US dollars taken was only a fraction of what Saddam 'stole' four years earlier. Employees discovered three of their colleagues, who happened to be guards, were missing and had left the front door open.

8. Mona Lisa Heist:  On August 21, 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia , a custodian at the Louvre in Paris, stole the Mona Lisa. He did it by hiding in the closet during closing time, eventually walking out with the painting hidden beneath his coat. The Italian immigrant later claimed that he had taken it for patriotic reasons in an effort to ensure Leonardo’s painting was put on display in his homeland, but he was caught when he tried to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The painting was displayed throughout the country before it was returned to France in 1913, and Peruggia was lauded by Italians for his supposed deed.

9. Gardner Heist: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has a collection of 2,500 works of art, but it’s best known for the heist of 1990. Early on March 18th after the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities were winding down, thieves dressed as police officers handcuffed two security guards and walked out with thirteen works of art worth more than $500 million — the largest art theft in American history. Included were Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Johannes Vermeer’s The Concert. More than 20 years later, the frames still hang empty in the museum, and the thieves have not been caught, though some have hypothesized that gangster Whitey Bulger or a faction of the IRA were behind it.

10. Stardust Heist:  Bill Brennan heisted from the Stardust Resort and Casino in September of 1992. The then-cashier at the casino loaded up a backpack and left unchecked during his lunch break and never returned. He did it alone, it wasn’t elaborately planned, and to this day, nobody knows his whereabouts. Considering the suffocating security presence at most casinos and the elaborately schemed heists that have failed in the past, Brennan, though a bad guy, deserves a bit of credit. Oceans Eleven is based on this heist.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coca Cola Library Ad

One of the weirdest ads: This Coca Cola Ad takes place in a Library.

Hat Tip: Huffington Post

Mystery Bytes: News

According to Inside TV, Robert Wagner will be playing the voice of Charlie  in an ABC production of Charlie's Angels. He will be replacing the late John Forsythe. When asked if he'll continue to use a speakerphone to communicate with the angels, he said, "I would imagine it will probably be quite different because the technology is quite different. I would imagine it would be on cell phones wherever these gals are." Though Wagner hasn't seen any scripts yet, he adds, "I could be tweeting them, I could be doing a lot of things with them, you know."

Hallie Ephron's Never Tell a Lie has been made into a Lifetime TV Movie as And Baby Will Fall that will air on 1/23 at 8 EST. Her new suspense novel, Come and Find Me, will be out on March 11 from William Morrow.

According to Andrew F. Gulli, Managing Editor of The Strand Magazine, an unpublished Dashiell Hammett story will appear in Strand Magazine. "So I Shot Him," a 19-page crime thriller written by Hammett will appear in the winter/spring issue of Strand Magazine. Gulli found the undated story, and 14 others by Hammett while looking through archives at the University of Texas in Austin. The Strand, a quarterly based in Birmingham, Mich., has recently published little known works by Graham Greene, Mark Twain and Agatha Christie.

For those of you in the Twitterverse, BV Lawson has put together an extensive list of Mystery Authors and related Mystery Folks on Twitter.  Go HERE.

January Magazine says that talks are under way over a TV detective series set in Bath during Jane Austen's time. 8 one hour episodes have been written and will be filmed next year in Bath. The Regency Detective has been created by Bath-based scriptwriters David Lassman and Terence James and is billed as showing the darker side of the period. It will be set in the period between 1800 and 1805 when Austen lived in the city, and the writer may make a cameo appearance in an episode. It will be directed by Giles Foster, whose previous credits includes Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, the award-winning Hotel Du Lac and Four Seasons. The series revolves around ex-Bow Street Runner Jack Swann, who moves from London to Bath and each week confronts the city’s villains. Read more HERE.

Doug Levin explores the relationship between Academics and Hardboiled Detective Fiction with Megan Abbott, Ken Wishnia and Bill Crider. Great article on the Mulholland Book Blog.

By now, you've probably heard the sad news that the Mystery Bookstore Los Angeles will close at the end of the month. The Rap Sheet has put together a list of several tributes to the store. “The Mystery Bookstore Will Close,” by Carolyn Kellogg (Los Angeles Times); “The Mystery Bookstore to Close,” by Wendy Werris (Publishers Weekly); “Losing a Legend,” by Eric Beetner; “Some Mystery Bookstore Memories,” by Lee Goldberg (A Writer’s Life); “Somebody Kick the Fat Lady Back in Her Dressing Room,” by Stephen Blackmoore (L.A. Noir); “Grim-Lit Serial Killer Strikes Again in Westwood!” by Denise Hamilton (L.A. Observed).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Erin Kelly: Guest Blogger

Today I welcome Erin Kelly, author of the critically acclaimed novel The Poison Tree.

Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998.She has written for newspapers including the The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.

Erin Kelly:

‘By the end of that summer, two of them would die.’

The Poison Tree is a detective story without a policeman, a murder mystery that opens without a body. It’s set in London, in the summer of 1997 when Karen, the narrator, was a naïve student waiting for something to happen. She finds her adventure in the form of Biba Capel, a decadent drama student who lives in a crumbling mansion on the edge of the city with her brother Rex. Karen is drawn into their world of parties, drugs and sex. When an outsider joins the group, threatening her friendship with Biba, she takes refuge in a relationship with Rex. The more she finds out about their family history of tragedy and abandonment, the harder it becomes for her to leave.

The novel opens with Karen, now a brittle, nervous mother, picking Rex up from prison ten years later. We know that he has served life for two murders, but not who was killed. The bulk of the narration is in extended flashback. As the story progresses, it is gradually revealed what happened in the past – but the present day narrative has tensions of its own and it also becomes apparent that the future too is full of secrets, lies and threats.

I can’t remember when the idea for the novel first came to me. I knew that I wanted to write a mystery, but I also wanted to include elements of coming-of-age, Gothic and even romance. I knew that I wanted to write about a certain kind of person – on the cusp of adulthood, passionate, ripe for adventure but not responsible enough to handle the consequences. My favourite books deal with these themes, including The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Likeness by Tana French and The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman. All of the above feature students, as does my novel. I wanted to write about middle-class kids, because the very rich and the very poor already have their lives mapped out for them.

Sense of place is very important to me, perhaps the most important factor of all. I wanted to write about London as it’s my home, and there were so many unknown factors in writing my first novel I wanted to be sure that location, at least, was authentically and authoritatively described. For a long time I had a vague cast of people getting up to no good in a flat in central London, but it didn’t work: the location was too central, not isolated enough. So I switched the action to Highgate, a wealthy, leafy, atmospheric neighbourhood in the north of the city where I lived for a few years. It’s bordered by a huge heath, a famous Victorian cemetery and an imposing viaduct known to the locals as Suicide Bridge. As soon as I housed them in a claustrophobic, tumbledown house on the edge of a wood, the characters snapped into sharp focus.

Deluxe Librarian Action Figure

If you're a collector of Action Figures or a fan of Librarians, you've probably seen the Original Librarian Action Figure based on real-life Seattle Librarian Nancy Pearl. On that Figure, you press the button on the button on her back and her arm will move with amazing "shushing action!" It comes with a tiny plastic book and a stack of random literature. The enclosed card features a brief history of libraries on the back as well as a realistic check-out card in a classic library sleeve along with two bookmarks and a Nancy Pearl trading card! 

Now there's the Deluxe Librarian Action Figure! This Deluxe Edition is a 5'' tall, hard vinyl figure dressed in a 'stylish' burgundy outfit and comes in a library diorama with a reference desk, computer, book cart, multiple book stacks and some loose books, including a tiny plastic replica of Nancy Pearl's book, Book Lust 2.

$12.95 at Archie McPhee

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Joe Gores: R.I.P.

Joe Gores: R.I.P.

Joe Gores passed away Monday, 50 years to the day after Dashiell Hammett died.  His Memorial Mass will be held Friday, January 21 at 11:30, St. Sebastian Catholic Church, Greenbrae, CA.
I really admired Joe Gores, a prolific writer of the old school. I met him on several occasions at MWA chapter meetings, the Stockton Mystery Conference and other mystery gatherings. He was a fabulous raconteur.

Joe Gores was a three-time winner of the Edgar Award, won the Maltese Falcon Award (Japan's highest award in the mystery field), and was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America.

Gores worked as a logger, a carnie, a teacher at a boys' school in Kenya, and for twelve years, as a detective. Gores' novels and stories about detective agency Daniel Kearney Associates (KDA) were based on his own experiences as a San Francisco private eye.

Gores also wrote scripts for Kojak, Columbo, Magnum P.I., Mike Hammer, Remington Steele, and other television series. Francis Ford Coppola produced a movie based on Gores' novel Hammett. Gores wrote Spade & Archer, the authorized prequel to The Maltese Falcon.

Kelli Stanley posted on the MWA NorCal newsgroup that Joe Gores passed away. I'll expand this post as more information becomes available. My heart goes out to the family at this time.

Read Mark Coggins' wonderful post about Joe Gores at the Rap Sheet

Other Tributes:
Bill Pronzini / Steve Lewis
Ed Gorman
Nicolas Pillai

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mystery Bookstore LA closing January 31

! Mystery Bookstore LA will be closing on January 31. @mysterybooks So many authors are scheduled for the upcoming months. How can this be? Linda and Bobby, you've done so much for the mystery community!

 Owners Kirk Pasich and Pamela Woods sent out this email this morning.

We simply cannot compete with the Amazons of the world and the impact of the economy. We love the bookstore and mysteries and the relationships we've formed with authors and publishers and agents and publicists. But, we do have retirement to think about (not in the near future!), and family and, well, all of those things that require money. So, it is with considerable sadness that we announce that The Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles, will--after many years (and as apparently the last-standing bookstore in Westwood, other than UCLA's student store)--be closing

Monday, January 10, 2011


The 2011 YALSA Alex Awards are given by the Young Adult Library Services Association.

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year's publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002.

Here are the winners,. They include mystery, suspense, magical realism, adventure & memoir.

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson, published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York
Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray, published by Hyperion
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, published by Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni, published by Amy Einhorn Books, an imprint of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of the Penguin Group
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton, published by Thomas Dunne Books for Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., New York
The Radleys by Matt Haig, published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel by Alden Bell, published by Holt Paperbacks, a division of Henry Holt and Company, LLC (ISBN 9780805092431)
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue, published by Little, Brown and Company a division of Hatchette Book Group, Inc.
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel by Helen Grant, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, division of Random House, Inc., New York

For the full Alex Award Nominations List, go HERE.

Ruth Cavin, Editor: R.I.P.

Ruth Cavin, veteran book editor,  died early Sunday morning at the age of 92. She was still holding down a full time position as an editor with the Thomas Dunne Books imprint at St. Martin’s at her death.

Cavin was the unofficial "First Lady of Mysteries." "Ruth Cavin has been soul mother to mystery writers for years," said Sue Grafton,  in a 2001 interview. "Her support has been invaluable and she's held in the highest regard." At one time, Cavin was editor to Laurie R. King, Charles Todd, Steve Hamilton and many others.


Mike Shatzkin's wonderful Tribute HERE.
Sarah Weinman's tribute HERE.
Bill Crider's Tribute HERE.
The Rap Sheet HERE.
Julia Spencer-Fleming HERE.

I'll update with other tributes as they come in.

ALA Top Genre Fiction Titles

The American Library Association announced its Top Genre Fiction Titles named to 2011 RUSA Reading List (Reference and User Services Association), The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres: adrenaline (including suspense, thriller and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction. The 2011 winners are:
“The Nearest Exit” by Olen Steinhauer, Minotaur Books
“The Quiet American” by Graham Greene
“The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” by John Le Carré
“Night Soldiers” by Alan Furst
Short List:
“Caught” by Harlan Coben, E. P. Dutton
“Crashers” by Dana Haynes, Minotaur
“Deep Shadow” by Randy Wayne White, Putnam Pub. Group
“They’re Watching” by Gregg Hurwitz, St. Martin’s
Historical Fiction
“The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer, Alfred A. Knopf
In this sweeping yet intimate portrait of a Hungarian Jewish family in Europe, two lovers become enmeshed in the turmoil of the Holocaust. With gorgeous prose and an exquisite evocation of Paris and Budapest, Orringer writes movingly of their strength and the bittersweet power of hope and love.
“Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis De Bernieres
“The Piano Teacher” by Janice Y. K. Lee
“A Thread of Grace” by Mary Doria Russell
Short List:
“A Battle Won” by S. Thomas Russell, Putnam
“A Fierce Radiance” by Lauren Belfer, HarperCollins
“The Golden Mean” by Annabel Lyon, Alfred A. Knopf
“The Rebellion of Jane Clarke” by Sally Gunning, Morrow
“The Dead Path” by Stephen M. Irwin, Doubleday
Guilt-ridden Nicholas Close retreats to his family home in Australia after the tragic death of his wife, only to encounter an ancient malevolence lurking in the nearby woods. Childhood nightmares and fairytale motifs combine in this emotionally powerful tale of implacable evil. Arachnophobes beware!
“It” by Stephen King
“Faerie Tale: A Novel of Terror and Fantasy” by Raymond Feist
“Dark Hollow” by Brian Keene
Short List:
“The Caretaker of Lorne Field” by David Zeltserman, Overlook
“The Frenzy Way” by Gregory Lamberson, Medallion Press
“Horns” by Joe Hill, William Morrow
“So Cold the River” by Michael Koryta, Little Brown
“Bury Your Dead” by Louise Penny, Minotaur
Troubled by past mistakes, Chief Inspector Gamache, in his sixth outing, retreats to snowy and insular Quebec City, where he becomes embroiled in intertwining investigations both old and new. Penny expertly delivers a layered story that is haunting, moody, and exquisitely drawn.
“A Test of Wills” by Charles Todd
“Haunted Ground” by Erin Hart
“In the Bleak Midwinter”by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Short List:
“Faithful Place” by Tana French, Viking
“The Taken” by Inger Ash Wolfe, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
“Think of a Number” by John Verdon, Crown
“Vermilion Drift” by William Kent Krueger, Simon & Schuster
“A Matter of Class” by Mary Balogh, Vanguard Press
A lady is ruined. A merchant’s son is trapped. Class differences loom large in this charming and playful take on the arranged marriage. Balogh’s Regency gem, where nothing is quite as it seems, is filled with affection and wit. 
“Faro’s Daughter” by Georgette Heyer
“In for a Penny” by Rose Lerner
“The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn
Short List:
“Barely a Lady” by Eileen Dreyer, Hachette (Forever)
“The Forbidden Rose” by Joanna Bourne, Berkley
“The Iron Duke” by Meljean Brook, Berkley
“Something About You” by Julie James, Berkley Sensation
For the rest of the list, go HERE.

Mystery Bytes: Upcoming Movies & TV

The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz, opens  Friday, January 14. Based on the 1930s radio program, the film follows the son of a recently deceased media mogul and his clever sidekick Cato as they battle the Los Angeles criminal underworld. An official prelude to the film, The Green Hornet: Parallel Lives (Dynamite Entertainment, $19.99, 9781606901489/1606901486), is now available.

Television: Premiere Dates for Game of Thrones & Mildred Pierce

HBO has set premiere dates for a pair of book-to-screen adaptations. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire, will debut April 17. The initial episode of Mildred Pierce, adapted from the novel by James M. Cain, will air March 27.

Hat Tip: Self Awareness

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Noir City Film Festival: January 21-30

The San Francisco Noir City Festival returns for its 9th year to the Castro Theatre, January 21-January 30. Twenty-four Fantastic Films in 10 days! Presented by the Film Noir Festival and taking place at the historic Castro Theatre.

Theme this year? "Who's Crazy Now?" There's a lineup of 24 films of madness, ranging from the legendary Gaslight and A Double Life to obscure rarieties, all presented as originally intended in 35 mm celluloid. Among the 24 films will be movies directed by George Cukor, Samuel Fuller, Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann and Otto Preminger, among others.  Humphrey Bogart will be at his most malevolent in “The Two Mrs. Carrolls” (1947).  Marilyn Monroe will be seen in arguably her best work, “Don’t Bother To Knock” (1952). The Czar of Noir Eddie Muller will be the host of this amazing film festival! Noir City 9 will have surprises for festival moviegoers, with special guest appearances, among other events.

For programming, go HERE.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Today would have been Elvis Presley's 75th Birthday!

Jailhouse Rock seems fitting for this blog!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cartoon of the Day: Willy 'n Ethel

From Willy 'n Ethel

Hat Tip: Bill Crider

Cartoon of the Day: The Other Coast

The Other Coast by Adrian Raeside

Hat Tip To Janet Appel

Now Playing on BBC Radio 4: To Catch a Thief

From Randal Brandt:

Now Playing on BBC Radio 4…
To Catch a Thief, the 1952 novel by American author David Dodge (1910-1974) that inspired the classic film by Alfred Hitchcock, has been adapted as a radio play by Oxford writer and literary detective Jean Buchanan. The novel tells the story of retired jewel thief John Robie, living quietly in a villa in the South of France. His peace is shattered and his liberty threatened when a copycat burglar begins operating in the area. Robie, who is free on a provisional parole granted for his service in the French Resistance during World War II, is the prime suspect. To prove his innocence, Robie determines to catch the thief himself. But his plans change when Francie Stevens, the daughter of one of the rich American tourists who is an irresistible target for the thief, catches him instead. Going back to Dodge’s original story, this 60-minute adaptation is markedly different from the more familiar cinematic version that starred Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. It is available online from January 8-15, 2011 on BBC Radio 4.
An accompanying program, “In Search of the Villa Noel Fleuri,” which documents Jean Buchanan’s quest to locate the small villa on the Côte d’Azur where Dodge and his family lived while he wrote the novel, is also available on BBC Radio 4. Jean is assisted in her hunt by Randal Brandt, creator of A David Dodge Companion, and Dirk Dominick, an expert in “To Catch a Thief” film locations.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Save Your Life: Safety Tips Written by a Cop

Updated 1/7/11: According to Snopes, some of these are not the best advice. Here's a link to those updates. Best of all, be careful!

Mystery Author Lisa Cotoggio (A Spirit of Evil) sent Ways to Save Your Life (written by a cop). I found this list a good reminder of how to deal in 'emergency and possibly deadly' situations. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world! Although it's geared toward women, it's safe to say this list of precautions is good for all.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you.... Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy.. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their chequebook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS!) The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU G ET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE..

If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
A.) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat.
B.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
C.) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side... If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!

8. Women: Do not try to be sympathetic: It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked 'for help' into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

9. Another Safety Point: Someone heard a crying baby on her porch, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird.. The police told her 'Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door..' The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, 'We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.' He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby.. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night.

10. Water scam! If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on all your outside taps full ball so that you will go out to investigate and then attack.

Stay alert, keep safe, and look out for your neighbours!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Deadly Mugs and Tea Cups

I love unique crime related items. Here are a few coffee and tea mugs that I originally saw on one of my favorite sites: Of course, one thing led to another, and I found myself finding others. Enjoy!

Ceramic Mug with  Heavyweight Gun Shaped Handle

Gotta love the Brass Knuckles!
And for those of us who love a cuppa and need a place for the bag!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Anne Francis: R.I.P.

Actress Anne Francis,  the love interest in the 1950s science-fiction classic "Forbidden Planet" and later sexy private eye in "Honey West" on TV, has died at age 80.

In "Honey West," (1965 to 1966), Francis' private detective was a female James Bond, sexy, stylish and as good with martial arts as she was with a gun. She was nominated for an Emmy for the role, which lasted 30 episodes. In an interview, Francis said, "The character made young women think there was more they could reach for. It encouraged a lot of people."

Among her other films: "Bad Day at Black Rock" with Tracy and Robert Ryan, "Rogue Cop" with Taylor, "The Rack" with Newman, "A Lion Is in the Streets" with James Cagney, and "Hook, Line and Sinker" opposite Jerry Lewis.

When her movie career declined, Francis became active in television, appearing in dozens of series, including "Mission Impossible," ''The Virginian,"  ''Ironside," ''Gunsmoke," ''The Twilight Zone," ''Charlie's Angels,"  and "Nash Bridges."

International Mysteries: Winter Book Group in Berkeley

Each winter our Mystery Readers International NorCal bookgroup discusses International Mysteries ... mysteries set in other countries. Our group meets every Tuesday night and has done so for over 30 years. Obviously we've read a lot of books. Since few of us actually travel during the cold winter months, it's the perfect time to 'visit' new countries, new authors, new mysteries... or to rediscover them.

You're welcome to join us in Berkeley, CA or post comments about the books. If you would like to join us physically, let me know, and I'll send the address. We meet every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. I believe we're the oldest continuous mystery reading group in the Bay Area, and certainly the oldest that continues to meet every week!

About selection of the books: I try to choose books we haven't discussed before as a group, are readily available  in the library or through bookstores or online,  and that I think will make for a good discussion. That doesn't mean that I think everyone will like the books. That's what makes for exciting discussions. I also like to choose at least two books that are new or whose authors are new to most people in the group. If you think we're missing an important crime fiction novel, it might be because we've already read and discussed it. Nevertheless, feel free to post a comment. Some of the books on this list are written by residents of the countries in which the books are set, some are in translation, and some are written by people who live and write in a totally different place. Even if you can't join us, read along. It's a good list.

Be sure and check back on the reading list. Things often change at the first meeting!

Winter 2011 International Mysteries

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away

January 11   S.J. Rozan’s Shanghai Moon (China)

January 18   Adrian Hyland’s Moonlight Downs (Australia)

January 25   Zoe Ferraris’s City of Veils (Saudi Arabia)

February 1   Claudia Pineiro’s Thursday Night Widows (Argentina)

February 8   Deon Meyer’s Thirteen Hours (South Africa)

February 15 Jo Nesbo’s The Redbreast (Norway)

February 22 Fred Vargas’s The Chalk Circle Man (France)

March 1      Martin Limon's The Wandering Ghost (Korea)

March 8     Vanda Symon's Containment (New Zealand)

March 15    Donna Leon’s Friends in High Places (Italy)

Mystery Readers Journal has had several issues devoted to crime fiction in other countries. 2 issues of Mysteries set Italy, Mysteries set in France, Mysteries set in ScandinaviaMysteries set in Ireland, Murder in the Far East, Mysteries set in Africa, Murder Down Under and so many more.

Each issue contains a section entitled Author! Author! in which authors contribute essays about their writing and region. Most issues are available either as hardcopy of .pdf download. This year we'll be having two issues devoted to London crime fiction! That should be fun!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Odd True Crime Stories 2010

2010 is the Year that Was. Here are two odd stories of relevance to mystery readers and writers, proving that Truth is Stranger than Fiction.


A Polish man living in Germany went about his business for about five years without noticing he had been shot in the head because he was drunk when it happened. Doctors found a .22 caliber bullet in the back of his head after the 35-year-old went to have what he thought was a cyst removed.
Presented with the 5.6mm projectile, the man recalled he had received a blow to the head around midnight at a New Year's party "in 2004 or 2005," but had forgotten about it because he had been "very drunk," a police spokesman said. "He told us he remembered having a sore head, but that he wasn't really one for going to the doctor," the spokesman said.

The wound later healed around the bullet and it was not until the man decided to have the lump examined due to recurring pains that the discovery was made.

Police said they were not treating the incident as suspicious as the bullet might have got lodged in the man's head when a reveler fired a gun in celebration. "It may have been a shot fired up in the air which entered his head on the way down," the spokesman said.


Deputies investigating a possible break-in at an Oregon rock museum were surprised when they stumbled upon a man concealed on the ground by a moss-like camouflage outfit. The hidden suspect cried out when a search dog bit him before daylight hours Thursday in a wooded area outside the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.

Police identified the man, dubbed "Moss Man" as 36-year-old Gregory Liascos of Portland, and arrested him on burglary and criminal mischief charges.

Sheriff's officials say nothing was stolen from the museum, a popular tourist attraction just west of Portland that is home to gemstones, minerals, fossils and meteorites. But they allege Liascos had secretly cut a hole in one of the building's walls days earlier and was trying to get in.

A caretaker noticed the large hole in a bathroom wall earlier in the week. Detectives were notified and installed security devices at the museum, which went off early Thursday.  Deputies who responded searched the grounds, finding a bike and a backpack.

"The K9 tracked to a wooded area and was very interested in a particular piece of ground about a half a mile away from the building," Thompson said in a release. "The dog then bit the ground that in turn cried out in pain."

The officer then realized there was a man hiding at his feet, dressed in a "ghillie" suit, Thompson said. A ghillie suit is a head-to-toe camouflage outfit used by military snipers to blend in with vegetation.

Sounds like he had rocks in his head!

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