Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mystery Bytes: More Crime Fiction TV News

Scriptwriter Andrew Davies is adapting the Quirke crime novels, written by John Banville under the pen name of Benjamin Black, which are set in 1950s Dublin.

Gabriel Byrne will play Quirke, an alcoholic pathologist with a complicated private life. Davies, who has also written film scripts including for Bridget Jones’s Diary, said he often turned down offers to adapt books.

This will be a BBC adaptation.

Source: Telegraph UK

Minnesota Book Awards

Finalists for the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards have been announced honoring books written by a Minnesota-based author and published during 2011 … and while there is separate no "mystery" category, all four finalists in Genre Fiction are mysteries. The Minnesota Book Awards, organized by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, doesn’t include a separate category for crime and mystery fiction. The four “Genre Fiction” nominees, though, are mysteries:

The Bone House by Brian Freeman (Minotaur)
Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger (Atria)
Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley (Harper)
Big Wheat by Richard A. Thompson (Poisoned Pen Press)

Winners will be announced during the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 14, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Saint Paul.

Hat Tip: Omnimystery News

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mystery Bytes: Mystery Film & TV News

TV & Movie News

AYELET WALDMAN Applebaum pilot
TV: CBS greenlighted a pilot episode of Applebaum, based on Ayelet Waldman's Mommy-Track Mysteries series. Deadline.com reported that Christopher Columbus will direct a script by Waldman, Jennifer Levin and Sherri Cooper.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Banned in India
Indian censors have banned David Fincher's movie adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. The film was scheduled for a February 10 release, but the country's Central Board of Film Certification insisted that several scenes be cut and the director refused.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the "scenes in question include two lovemaking scenes between the film's principal female lead Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig); a lesbian scene featuring Lisbeth and a woman she meets at a bar; a scene where Lisbeth is raped and tortured. In a follow-up scene, she tortures her tormentor as a video of her being assaulted plays in the background."

Sony Pictures India said the "Censor Board has adjudged the film unsuitable for public viewing in its unaltered form and, while we are committed to maintaining and protecting the vision of the director, we will, as always, respect the guidelines set by the Board."

(above info from ShelfAwareness.com)

Shirley MacLaine to play Lady Grantham's Mother in Series 3 of Downton Abbey.
Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine is joining the cast of Downton Abbey as the mother of Elizabeth McGovern’s American-born Lady Grantham. According to The Daily Beast, MacLaine will appear during the international phenom’s third season, which begins production next month (just as Season 2 winds down on PBS.)

Read more, HERE.

Left Coast Crime Award Nominations

Left Coast Crime 2012, "Mining for Murder," announced the four awards - 23rd annual LCC convention in Sacramento, California. The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 31, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. The nomination period has just concluded, and LCC is delighted to announce the nominees for books published in 2011:

The Lefty has been awarded for the best humorous mystery novel since 1996. This year's nominees are:

Donna Andrews, The Real Macaw (Minotaur)
Rita Lakin, Getting Old Can Kill You (Dell)
Jess Lourey, October Fest (Midnight Ink)
Kris Neri, Magical Alienation (Red Coyote Press)
Cindy Sample, Dying for a Dance (L & L Dreamspell)
John Vorhaus, The Albuquerque Turkey (Crown)

The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award, first awarded in 2004, is given to mystery novels covering events before 1960. This year's nominees are:

Rhys Bowen, Naughty in Nice (Berkley Prime Crime)
Rebecca Cantrell, A Game of Lies (Forge)
Ann Parker, Mercury's Rise (Poisoned Pen Press)
Priscilla Royal, A Killing Season (Poisoned Pen Press)
Jeri Westerson, Troubled Bones (Minotaur)
Jacqueline Winspear, A Lesson in Secrets (Harper)

The Golden Nugget is a special award given to the best mystery set in California, in recognition of the location of this year's convention. The nominees are:

Jan Burke, Disturbance (Simon & Schuster)
Michael Connelly, The Drop (Little, Brown)
Janet Dawson, Bit Player (Perseverance Press)
Sue Grafton, V is for Vengeance (Putnam)
Kelli Stanley, City of Secrets (Minotaur)

Eureka! is a special award this year for the best first mystery novel. The nominees are:

Sally Carpenter, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (Oak Tree Press)
Darrell James, Nazareth Child (Midnight Ink)
Tammy Kaehler, Dead Man's Switch (Poisoned Pen Press)
Rochelle Staab, Who Do, Voodoo? (Berkley Prime Crime)

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. Usually 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 23rd annual Left Coast Crime Convention will take place in Sacramento, California, March 29–April 1, 2012. The convention's theme is Mining for Murder, harkening back to the Gold Rush days. This year's Guests of Honor are John Lescroart and Jacqueline Winspear. James Rollins is a Special Guest, and Noemi Levine is the Fan Guest of Honor. Author Harley Jane Kozak will serve as Toastmaster.

Go Here to Register

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Discovery Mystery Award

Poisoned Pen Press Announces the First Annual Discover Mystery Award: This Spring, Poisoned Pen Press will award a $1000 cash prize and publishing contract to the winner of the inaugural Discover Mystery Award.

This is a first book contest specifically for unpublished writers trying to break into the mystery genre, the Discover Mystery Award will include a $1000 cash prize, the Discover Mystery title, and a publishing contract from Poisoned Pen Press. The Discover Mystery Award is now open for submissions. Entries must be received by 11:59 PM Pacific on April 30, 2012, and the Discover Mystery Award will be presented on May 31, 2012.

For the first time in its history, Poisoned Pen Press is opening their submissions to previously unpublished writers through the Discover Mystery Awards Program. Writers now have the opportunity to submit their manuscripts to Poisoned Pen Press without the need for a query letter—or the worry of having a manuscript rejected outright.

Writers unpublished within the mystery genre are invited to submit their original mystery fiction manuscripts of between 60,000 and 90,000 words. A $20 entry fee applies for all submissions. For full details, eligibility requirements, and manuscript submission instructions, visit: www.poisonedpenpress.com/contest

Entries submitted for the Discover Mystery Award will be judged by members of the Poisoned Pen Press editorial staff, along with celebrity guest judge, Edgar® Award-winning novelist Dana Stabenow.

Jessica Tribble, Publisher at Poisoned Pen Press, stated, “At Poisoned Pen Press, we take our mission to discover mystery very seriously and pride ourselves on finding great new voices in the world of mystery fiction. We are looking for fresh, new voices and created the Discover Mystery Award as a means of giving unpublished mystery writers an open invitation to submit their manuscripts to Poisoned Pen Press. We would like to encourage writers to pull out that manuscript they’ve had hidden in their desks, dust off the keyboard, and finish that mystery, or finally do something about that novel idea that has been bouncing around in their heads. We can’t wait to see what we’ll discover.”

In addition to the grand prizes, Poisoned Pen Press will also provide support in publicizing the winning work, and sharing information with prominent booksellers. However, should no entry meet the standards of the editorial team, Poisoned Pen Press reserves the right not to declare a winner, or to offer the cash prize without publication.

Bloody Scotland: September 14-16, 2012

I mentioned BloodyScotland when I first heard about this new crime fiction festival a few months ago. Val McDermid was here the other day, and she's going to be there, and she was talking it up. Val is reason enough, but the plethora of Scottish crime writers is intriguing.

Ian Rankin says, “Scottish crime writing continues to fire on all cylinders, and talented new voices keep appearing. Bloody Scotland is a long overdue celebration of Scotland’s favourite genre,one of its most successful cultural exports – and a chance to hear some of the most interesting international writers too.”

BloodyScotland: September 14-16, 2012 

Bloody Scotland is an innovative festival which will showcase Scottish crime writing and place it in an international context. We will shortly be announcing a stellar cast of leading crime writers.

Stirling is the natural location for a major new festival, with easy access from the cities and also nearby Falkirk, Linlithgow, and Perth. Bloody Scotland seeks to build on the existing strengths of Stirling’s own successful Off the Page festival… and forge something new.

Contact: info@bloodyscotland.com

Thanks to  Rhian Davies for the update

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love is Murder Conference: Chicago

The 13th Love is Murder Conference returns to Chicago next month, February 3-5 at the Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare Hotel.

This Midwest mystery conference includes three days of panel discussions, beginning with "Til the Last Perp Walks" -- presentations by 13 forensic experts in crime scene investigation, computer fraud, money laundering, guns and weapons, poisons, the "blood splatter guy" and more.

Featured authors at the conference: Donald Bain (author of the Murder She Wrote and Coffee, Tea or Me? series), Julie James (A Lot Like Love, Something About You), David Morrell (The Naked Edge, The Shimmer), and Hank Phillippi Ryan (The Other Woman, Drive Time and the Charlotte McNally series); and Local Featured Author Julie Hyzy (the Alex St. James, White House Chef and Manor House series). Featured authors are on hand throughout the weekend to chat with conference attendees, sign books and answer questions.

Other events: book signings; Pitch-A-Palooza with NYC- and Chicago-based agents, editors and publishers; Master Writing Classes presented by featured authors; writing tracks presented by the Midwest Writers Association; the Lovey Awards; Saturday afternoon tea party; booksellers and exhibitors; entertainment by Those Were The Days radio players, the Mystery Shop and Mixed Company Troupe; networking with authors and hundreds of fellow mystery readers and fans from the U.S. and overseas; and the annual snowball fight.

Visit the Love is Murder #13 website (www.loveismurder.net) for more information and/or to register for the conference; or, email registrar Terri Stone at tvmstone@yahoo.com.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Dilys Award Nominees


Faithful Place, Tana French (Penguin)
Wicked Autumn, G.M. Malliet (Minotaur)
Tag Man, Archer Mayor (Minotaur)
A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Ghost Hero, S.J. Rozan (Minotaur)

The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association (IMBA) is pleased to announce this year's nominees for the Dilys Winn award, given annually to the mystery titles of the year which the member booksellers most enjoyed selling. The Dilys Award is named in honor of Dilys Winn, the founder of the first specialty bookstore of mystery books in the United States. The award will be presented at Left Coast Crime in March.

The IMBA is comprised of a network of individually owned retail bookstores across North America, devoted to the sale of mystery books. The IMBA has won several awards for THE 100 FAVORITE MYSTERIES OF THE CENTURY and THEY DIED IN VAIN, published by Crum Creek Press/Drood Review Books. For more information on the IMBA and the Dilys awards, including past nominees and winners, visit www.mysterybooksellers.com.

Congratulations to all!

Hat Tip: SJ Rozan

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Val McDermid:

The following article by Val McDermid appeared in the latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal: Shrinks and Other Mental Health Professionals (Volume 27:4). This issue is available as a PDF or hardcopy. Val McDermid will be at a Literary Salon in Berkeley, CA tomorrow, January 26.

Val McDermid is the author of 24 bestselling novels. She has won virtually every mystery award, including the Crime Writers Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding Achievement in the Field of Crime Writing, as well as the Pioneer Award from the Lambda Literary Awards.

Val McDermid: Method and Madness

The Mermaids Singing, the book that introduces my clinical psychologist and criminal pro-filer Dr Tony Hill, is unique in my experience as a writer. For the one and only time, the plot dropped into my head fully formed. The shape of the story, the nature of the criminal, the cruces of the plot and the occupation of the detec-tive; they were all there from the very beginning. It was a great gift, but it brought its own set of problems.

I’d been intrigued by the idea of using a pro-filer in a novel ever since I’d read Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon. But the most rudimentary research had revealed that, as in so many areas, in the UK we do it differently from the US. Unlike the FBI, who train their own officers in the famous Behavioral Science unit at Quantico, we Brits have traditionally used practising clinical psychologists to consult with detectives. Right there, I knew I had a built-in area of dramatic tension; cops never like outsiders coming into the heart of their investigation.

Which was all well and good, but I still had no real idea how it worked in practice. No other British crime writer had written about this relationship, so I couldn’t crib anyone else’s research. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t imagine for a moment that Greater Manchester Police—notorious back then for their hostility to the media—would blithely hand over the details of whoever they worked with. I was stumped.

And then one evening I turned on the local news programme on TV halfway through a item about a clinical psychologist who worked with the police on offender profiling. Hastily I scribbled down his name and where he worked. If he’d talked to the TV, he might just talk to me.

Next day, I called the secure mental hospital where he worked and asked to speak to him. To my surprise, I was put straight through. I hadn’t expected that, and I suspect my explanation for why I was calling him was a pretty stumbling affair. When he finally understood what I was asking, he said, ‘How do I know you’re not a nutter?’

It was a good question. I suggested sending him a couple of my published novels so he could decide for himself. He agreed. I sent the books off and heard nothing for a few weeks. Then he called me and said, ‘I read your books. So did my wife. We don’t think you’re a nutter.’ And he agreed to meet for lunch.

We ended up in an Indian restaurant in Southport, a genteel seaside town on the Irish Sea, where conversation does not generally run to serial homicide. Over our set lunch, he gave me a brief outline of his professional life, touching on the kind of patients he dealt with in the hospital and the types of crime he helped the police with. The more he talked, the more excitement I had to disguise. I could see so much potential in what he was telling me, it was hard not to jump up and down.

The second time we met, he took me inside the secure mental hospital where he worked and showed me a couple of live cases he was working on. He took me through every step of his proc-ess, starting with the crime scene photos and ending with his report. He explained painstakingly how he arrived at the conclusions he delivered to the police. By the end of the afternoon, I had Tony Hill’s method. And that has remained at the heart of what Tony does ever since.

I had the method, but I didn’t have the man. When I started The Mermaids Singing, I intended it to be a standalone, so when I started thinking about the character who would be at the heart of this book, it was tempered by what I needed him to be capable of for the sake of this particular story. So, for example, his impotence was not intended as anything more than a plot point that I needed to make sense of his interaction with another key character. I knew that he was someone who struggled with the normal building blocks of social intercourse too; the clue is in the title of the book, which comes from TS Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock.” The narrator of the poem is a man who yearns to be part of the world of love and affection, but he feels like he’s trapped behind a glass wall, unable to connect. My central idea was that both Tony and the killer should share this perspective; that they had much in common, but that at some crucial point, they had diverged in terms of the direction taken.
More than that, Tony had to be someone the reader cares about. I gave him a potentially lethal dose of empathy, a self-deprecating insight into his own foibles, and the capacity to love Carol Jordan. He’s an oddball, but his personality con-nects sufficiently with the rest of us for him to be an oddball for whom we feel affection rather than irritation.

Seven books in, I am still developing the seeds I sowed in that first novel. We have discovered his monstrous mother, the person who first saved him from bleakness, and the man who sired him. We’ve followed him to the edge of hell and back again. And what underpins it all is his understanding of the way people work. I’ve got no formal education in psychology, but I was a journalist for years and observed people in all sorts of situations. Really, the Tony Hill method is an extrapolation from that observation, salted by common sense and spiced with bits and pieces of knowledge I’ve picked up along the way. And I’ll be writing Tony Hill for as long as I can find fresh and interesting things to say about human beings.

Hard to see how that could ever stop.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Margaret Lawrence (aka M.K. Lorens): R.I.P

Sorry to hear  at The Rap Sheet via The Gumshoe Site that Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony awards finalist Margaret Lawrence (aka Lorrain “Margaret” Keilstrup, aka M.K. Lorens) died on January 15 at her home in Fremont, Nebraska. She was 66.

Gumshoe editor Jiro Kimura writes:

Ex-playwright Margaret Keilstrup started writing, under the M. K. Lorens pseudonym, the mystery novels featuring Winston Marlowe Sherman, mystery-writing Shakespeare professor, beginning with Sweet Narcissus (Bantam, 1990) and ending with Sorrowheart (Doubleday, 1993). After the fifth and last Sherman novel, she wrote three midwife Hannah Trevor historical novels, starting with Hearts and Bones (Avon, 1996) and ending with The Burning Bride (Avon, 1998) under the Margaret Lawrence name. ... Her last novel was Roanoke (Random House, 2009).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shrinks & Other Mental Healthcare Professionals: Mystery Readers Journal

The latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 27:4): Shrinks & Other Mental Health Professionals in Mysteries has just been published. If you're already a subscriber to Mystery Readers Journal for '11 or '12, you will receive hardcopy in the mail within two weeks. If you subscribe via PDF, you should have received an email with download instructions. Contributor copies will go out in about two weeks.

Subscribe to Mystery Readers Journal for '12. 

Shrinks and Other Mental Health Professionals in Mysteries
Volume 27, No. 4, Winter 2011-12
Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.


  • Murder, with Shrinks by Donna Andrews
  • My Muse by Sandra Levy Ceren
  • Hand Holding and Knee-Rubbing by Jacqueline Corcoran
  • Kinky Shrinks by Carole Nelson Douglas
  • Another Kind of Detective by Michael Dymmoch
  • When a Character Needs a Shrink... by Hallie Ephron
  • The Perfect Fix by Barbara Fradkin
  • Forensic Psychiatry: Shrinking the Dead by Meg Gardiner
  • The Doctor Is In by Roberta Isleib, aka Lucy Burdette
  • When Frasier Meets Murder She Wrote by Mary Kennedy
  • The Paths Not Taken by Shirley Kennett
  • Cop Docs: The First Responder's First Responder by Ellen Kirschman
  • On Getting the Right Counselor by J.J. Lamb and Bette Golden Lamb
  • The Psychiatrist's Wife by Sujata Massey
  • Method and Madness by Val McDermid
  • Mythbuster by Daniel Palmer
  • Railway Spine and Hysteria: Convenient Mental "Failings" of the 19th Century by Ann Parker
  • The Therapist as Hero by Dennis Palumbo
  • Putting the Psycho in Psychotherapist by Sandra Parshall
  • Walking Through a Killer's Mind by Michael Robotham
  • Exploring the Scarred Psyche by Mark Schorr
  • My Counselor, My Characters, and Me by Del Staecker
  • School Psychologist, Writer, and People Watcher by Denise Swanson
  • Shrink To Fit by Rochelle Staab
  • Case Notes of a Recovering Clinical Psychologist by Stephen White
  • My iPhone Quacks: A Modern Shrink in Murder Mystery Land by Marilyn Wooley
  • Imperfect Shrinks: Writing a Character Who Has More Flaws Than I Do by Elizabeth Zelvin
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, L.J. Roberts
  • Children's Hour: Kids Need Shrinks, Too by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: It's All in the Mind by Marvin Lachman
  • True Crime: The Interior View by Cathy Pickens
  • Crime Seen: Criminal Insight by Kate Derie
  • From the Editor's Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hammett Prize Nominees

The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers is pleased to announce 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:           

James Lee Burke, Feast Day of Fools: A Novel  (Simon & Schuster)
Sara Gran, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Michael Ondaatje, The Cat's Table (McClelland & Stewart/Canada; Knopf/US)
Thomas Perry, The Informant (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/An Otto Penzler Book)
James Sallis, The Killer is Dying: A Novel (Walker & Company)

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 Deen Kogan and included Jedediah Berry, Vicki Delany, Lorenzo Carcaterra, and Thomas Laird.
The winner will be chosen by three outside judges: Kevin Connolly, Canadian poet and editor; Eileen Hutton, founder of Brilliance Audio; and Paula J. Massood, author of Black City Cinema: African American Urban Experiences in  Film. 

The organization will name the HAMMETT PRIZE  winner, during the Bloody Words Conference, in Toronto, June 1-3. The winner will receive a bronze trophy, designed by sculptor Peter Boiger.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chinese New Year Crime Fiction: Gung Hay Fat Choy

恭賀發財 Gung Hay Fat Choy! This is the Year of the Dragon. Chinese New Year begins Monday, January 23.

Living in San Francisco, the City of Dragons, I've put together Chinese New Year's Mystery Lists for the past few years! Not an easy task. This year I've added some titles (scroll down) that take place in China, not necessarily during the New Year. As always, I welcome any titles.

Kelli Stanley, author of City of Dragons, guest post on Chinese New Year.

Year of the Dog by Henry Chang 

Year of the Dragon by Robert Daley 
Neon Dragon by John Dobbyn
 Dim Sum Dead by Jerrilyn Farmer 
The Skull Cage Key by Michael Marriott
The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan
City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley
The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee by Robert Van Gulik (7th Century china) "New Year's Eve in Lan-Fang"

Short story by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer: "The Lady Fish Mystery", EQMM, September/October 1996.

The Nancy Drew Notebooks: The Chinese New Year Mystery by Carolyn Keene

A good reference book for contemporary crime fiction in China: Chinese Justice, the Fiction: Law and Literature in Modern China by Jeffrey C. Kinkley (Stanford University Press)

Not specifically about Chinese New Year, here's a short list of authors/mysteries that are set in China:
Ralph Arnote, Hong Kong, China
Biggers, Earl Derr, Charlie Chan: The House Without a Key, The Chinese Parrot, Behind the Curtain, The Black Camel, Keeper of the Keys
Lisa Brackmann, Rock Paper Tiger
Stephen Coonts, Hong Kong
Charles Cumming, Typhoon
Xiaolong Qiu, Death of a Red Heroine (and other titles)
Howard Goldblatt, Playing for Thrills
Jim Michael Hansen, Bad Laws
S.G. Kiner, The Hong Kong Connection
Diane Wei Liang, The Eye of Jade
Paul French, Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
John L. Mariotti, The Chinese Conspiracy
Peter May, The Firemaker
Lisa See, Flower Net
Deborah Shlian, Rabbit in the Moon
Eric Stone, Shanghaied
Nury Vittachi, The Feng Shui Detective

Yin-Lien C. Chin, The "Stone Lion" and Other Chinese Detective Stories

Also I'll have more recipes on my other blog, Dying for Chocolate, for a Chocolate Chinese New Year.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Noir City X: Trailer and Poster

NOIR CITY X: January 20-29, 2012, The Castro, San Francisco, CA
Movies, Stars, Tours, Nightclub and Noir!!

From the Noir City Website:

To commemorate its 10th anniversary, the NOIR CITY Film Festival returns to the source. This year's poster was created in the San Francisco apartment where Dashiell Hammett, between 1927-29, wrote Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, and The Maltese Falcon, in an inspired burst of creativity that forever changed the course of American literature and laid the groundwork for film noir.

Ms. NOIR CITY 2012, Helena Bianca Stoddard, portrays The Maltese Falcon's delectable but duplicitous Brigid O'Shaughnessy, in a variation on the scene that Hollywood's Production Code demanded be cut from all film versions of the book. When one of the ten $1000 bills he's been paid to locate the Black Bird goes missing, Sam Spade demands that Brigid undress to prove she's hasn't stolen the money. "I've got to know what happened to that bill and I'm not going to be held up by anybody's maidenly modesty."

Hammett's actual apartment, located at 891 Post Street, is clearly the model for Spade's digs in the novel. It was for many years the home of NOIR CITY announcer William P. Arney, who carried the torch until local author and impresario Robert Mailer Anderson took over the lease. Under Anderson's stewardship, and the creative hand of designer Leonardo, Hammett's digs have been restored and preserved down to the last detail: Murphy bed, original fixtures, and all. When the fog rolls in off the ocean, and shadows streak across the ceiling, you can almost hear Sam Spade snarl, "I don't care who loves who—I'm not going to play the sap for you."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

MWA Edgar Award Nominations

Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce on the 203rd anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, its Nominees for the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non- fiction and television published or produced in 2011. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 66th Gala Banquet, April 26, 2012 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

The Ranger by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 
Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press) 
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Minotaur Books) 
1222 by Anne Holt (Simon & Schuster - Scribner) 
Field Gray by Philip Kerr (Penguin Group USA - G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Marion Wood Books)

Red on Red by Edward Conlon (Random House Publishing Group – Spiegel & Grau) 
Last to Fold by David Duffy (Thomas Dunne Books) 
All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen (The Permanent Press) 
Bent Road by Lori Roy (Penguin Group USA - Dutton) 
Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett (Hachette Book Group – Orbit Books) 
The Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle (Felony & Mayhem Press) 
The Dog Sox by Russell Hill (Pleasure Boat Studio – Caravel Mystery Books) 
Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper Paperbacks) 
Vienna Twilight by Frank Tallis (Random House Trade Paperbacks)

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins (Crown Publishing) 
The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T.J. English 
(HarperCollins – William Morrow) 
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Random House - Doubleday) 
Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender by Steve Miller (Penguin Group USA - Berkley)
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter by Mark Seal (Penguin Group USA - Viking)

The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of our Time by Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer & John-Henri Holmberg (St. Martin’s Griffin) 
 Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making by John Curran (HarperCollins)
On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press) Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film by Philippa Gates (SUNY Press) Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds and Marnie by Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick (University of Illinois Press)

"Marley’s Revolution" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by John C. Boland (Dell Magazines) "Tomorrow’s Dead" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Dean (Dell Magazines) 
"The Adakian Eagle” – Down These Strange Streets by Bradley Denton 
(Penguin Group USA – Ace Books) 
"Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" – Down These Strange Streets by Diana Gabaldon (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books) 
"The Case of Death and Honey" – A Study in Sherlock by Neil Gaiman (Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Books) 
“The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Peter Turnbull (Dell Magazines)

Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet Books) 
It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) 
Vanished by Sheela Chari (Disney Book Group – Disney Hyperion) 
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press) 
The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey (Egmont USA)

Shelter by Harlan Coben (Penguin Young Readers Group – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Penguin Young Readers Group – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 
The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (Random House Children’s Books – Knopf BFYR) The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines 
(Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Roaring Creek Press)
Kill You Last by Todd Strasser (Egmont USA)

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club by Jeffrey Hatcher 
(Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix, AZ) 
The Game’s Afoot by Ken Ludwig (Cleveland Playhouse, Cleveland, OH)

“Innocence” – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS Productions)
“The Life Inside” – Justified, Teleplay by Benjamin Cavell
(FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television) 
“Part 1” – Whitechapel, Teleplay by Ben Court & Caroline Ip (BBC America)
“Pilot” – Homeland, Teleplay by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff (Showtime) “Mask” – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Speed Weed (Wolf Films/Universal Media Studios)

"A Good Man of Business" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
by David Ingram (Dell Magazines)

Martha Grimes

M is for Mystery Bookstore, San Mateo, CA 
Molly Weston, Meritorious Mysteries

Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post/Hearst Media News Group

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 25, 2012)
Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books) 
Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) 
Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick (Minotaur Books) 
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown Publishing Group) 
Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Val McDermid Literary Salon, January 26, Berkeley

Join Mystery Readers International NorCal for an afternoon Literary Salon with UK Gold Dagger Award winner Val McDermid.

Thursday, January 26, 2 p.m., Berkeley, CA
Space is limited. RSVP for Directions (make a comment below with email address and I'll send them)

Val McDermid is one of my favorite authors, a terrific speaker and a good friend. She has written over 20 crime novels, resulting in several international awards and the television series, The Wire in the Blood.  Some of the Awards: CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger, Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year, Pioneer Award (Lambda Literary Awards) Los Angeles Times Book Prize, New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the Anthony Award, Macavity Award, and Dilys Award. She was also a finalist for the Edgar Award. Her latest novel is The Retribution. Val McDermid splits her time between South Manchester and Northumberland.

Read this interview with Val McDermid that appeared on Mystery Fanfare about Place of Execution.

Val McDermid: Place of Execution Interview 

Be sure and RSVP for this event!

Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Novel Prize) 2012

The Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Novel) awards for 2012 have been announced.

The winner of the German-language crime novel is Wer das Schweigen bricht by Mechtild Borrmann. Runners Up:
Süden by Friedrich Ani
Zeugin der Toten by Elisabeth Herrmann

The winner of the international crime novel is Truth  (Warheit) by Peter Temple.
Runners up (a Tie):
Savages (Zeit des Zorns) by Don Winslow
Started Early, Took My Dog (Das vergessene Kind) by Kate Atkinson.

Hat Tip: Omnimysterynews

Monday, January 16, 2012

Janet LaPierre: How Much Blood on the Page?

Today I welcome mystery author Janet LaPierre with a guest post on recent crime fiction. This post originally appeared on Get It Write, the Perseverance Press Authors' Blog, December 26, 2011. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Janet LaPierre was born in Iowa, educated in Arizona, and settled in Berkeley, CA, to marry, raise two daughters, and read novels, mostly mystery novels. She is the author of ten published mystery novels and nine short stories, and has been nominated for the Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus Awards. 
   LaPierre’s novels are set not in Berkeley but in northern California’s far-away, sparsely-populated places like the fog-bound Mendocino coast and the fictional town of Port Silva, based on the real Fort Bragg; or the forested mountains of Trinity County and the actual town of Weaverville.
   The LaPierre novels came to be called the Port Silva Mysteries. Crimes in these stories are not “organized,” but deeply personal, and maintaining the peace in the small towns and the surrounding areas is the work not just of police officers and sheriff’s deputies, but of watchful and sometimes organized citizens. 

Janet LaPierre: How Much Blood on the Page?

Mine was a family of readers, and my mother’s term for the books that made up quite a lot of our casual reading was “murder mysteries.” Today those novels are more often called simply mysteries, or detective novels or cozies or suspense or thrillers; but the fact is that virtually all involve a murder, or two, or six. Walk into a big library or bookstore and ask for the mystery section, and you will find shelf after shelf of books in which someone (or some group of someones) is killing (or planning to kill) someone else.

Clearly the U.S. reading public has had a longstanding interest in crime and crime fiction. From Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to Ian Rankin and John Harvey and P. D. James, from Tony Hillerman, Scott Turow, Sue Grafton and Michael Connelly and on to straight writers like Kate Atkinson and John Banville who double in crime novels, the reader can expect suspense, and danger, and sometimes bloody murder. But she will also find also good, complex stories and characters and often fine writing. These books not only entertain us, they inspire the writers among us who are not yet household names to keep working.

But now we have also the Scandinavians. They arrived here quietly a number of years ago with the Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö series from Sweden, which was chilly but good, with some humor as well as suspense. The Laughing Policemen won an Edgar Best Novel award in 1971, and was made into a movie. Sjöwall and Wahlöö, a married couple, produced ten books in this Martin Beck series, which ended when Per Wahlöö died in 1975. I’d read all of them, with great pleasure.

The works of the writers who followed Sjöwall and Wahlöö much later, like Henning Mankell and Håkan Nesser–and probably Jo Nesbø, whom I have not yet read—are grim, and meant to be. The Washington Times says of Woman With a Birthmark, “Nesser has written a fascinating study in the psychology of personal suffering.” Oh, good. And in Mankell’s The Fifth Woman, Swedish Inspector Kurt Wallander is working on two murders, that of a man impaled on sharpened bamboo poles in a ditch and the other of a man strangled and tied to a tree. These deaths are linked somehow to the murder of four nuns and an unidentified fifth woman in an African convent.

Although I didn’t love these books, I can say that they were well-written and suspenseful. The current block-buster from Sweden, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is indeed suspenseful, in fact terrifying, but not well-written nor particularly well-constructed. It does, however, have a fascinating main character, the girl named Lisbeth Salander; reviews of both the Swedish and the new American movie of the story make that clear. Those reviews don’t say much about the truly awful multi-victim crimes, committed over a long period of years and still on-going, that Salander and the writer who employs her investigate. And I don’t intend to say anything about them, either; some of you may not have read the book and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.

I have the second book in the series, but for some reason have not gotten around to reading it yet. In fact, I’m a bit troubled by a sense that the mind-set of these books could become more prevalent in the mystery field. A very good friend of mine, a constant reader of all kinds of mysteries, recently picked up a new novel by a writer whose three earlier books she had enjoyed, and set it quickly aside as too nasty. Subsequently I ran into serious trouble with two new mysteries, one by a Brit and the other by a pair of Finns. Both these books dealt with the new-to-me subject of baby-farming, which involves a midwife’s being well paid to deliver the baby of an unmarried woman who doesn’t want her baby, but is assured by the midwife that a good home will be found for the child. In the story set in early twentieth-century Britain, the baby was most often simply killed and the body disposed of. In the present-time story, the new baby was indeed adopted, but a later sibling born to the now-married woman is stolen in brutal fashion for reasons that become clear only much later. I couldn’t finish the first of the pair, but I did gingerly flip through the second to find out whether my uncomfortable suspicion was true. It was.

And here’s a cheerful postscript to this screed. Turns out that P.D. James has a new book out, a book based on her favorite Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know just what kind of story she’ll make with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, but I doubt that it will be grim or bloody. I can hardly wait to find out.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Library Montage Video

Libraries have played a part in many movies, cartoons and other media. Enjoy.

Hat Tip: Carol Thomas

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reginald Hill: R.I.P.

This is such sad news. Reginald Hill, one of my favorite mystery writers and a lovely man, died at the age of only 75. Hill was the creator of the Yorkshire detective series featuring Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe, as well as the Joe Sixsmith series and numerous stand-alones.  Read an interview with Reginald Hill that appeared on Mystery Fanfare here. I am so saddened by this loss of this wonderful author.

Read Tributes in Shots Magazine

Obituary from The Guardian: 
Hill charted the ups and downs of his two contrasting sleuths in more than 20 novels published over four decades after his debut, A Clubbable Woman (1970) alongside a substantial body of other crime fiction and thrillers. He won the Crime Writers Association's Golden Dagger in 1990 for Bones and Silence, and the Diamond Dagger for the series as a whole in 1995.

Writer Ian Rankin, who won the Diamond Dagger himself in 2005, paid tribute to Hill's great good humour, the intelligence of his writing and the generous advice he gave to young authors.

"I didn't read crime fiction until I was in my 20s," Rankin said. "Hill was one of the first British writers I read. His plotting was elegant and his characters were larger than life – once you read about Andy Dalziel he's never forgotten. I daresay there are shadings of him in my Inspector Rebus – they're both bolshie and maverick and they don't look after themselves."

According to Rankin, Hill was seen as a "traditional crime writer, but with a modern sensibility".

"He had a lot of fun with his characters," he added, "there was even a story where he sent Dalziel into space. But he allowed the real world to be part of his stories, letting his characters age in real time."

Telegraph Obit: 

Hill called himself a crime novelist, but his work owed nothing to the hard-boiled tradition of the genre. His approach was cerebral, his plots labyrinthine, his characterisations sharply etched, and his dialogue richly laced with humour. His novels bristle with shrewd perceptions and whimsical wit.
It was this capricious streak, combined with Hill’s unflinching treatment of crime’s darker side, that marked him out as a distinctive writer. Read More Here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cartoon of the Day: Mystery Party

Love this comic from Rhymes with Orange. Planning a Murder Mystery Event? Contact Murder on the Menu. It won't be like this one. Auditor Parties are actually really fun!

San Francisco Film Noir Festival

This year's San Francisco Film Noir Festival Celebrates Dashiell Hammett.  Photo is of Eddie Muller, the Czar of Noir, in Dashiell Hammett's SF apartment.

Read this article from the SF Chronicle on the Festival and Eddie Muller. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weegee: Murder is My Business Exhibit

Of particular interest to crime readers, authors, and photography fans is an upcoming exhibit in New York: Weegee: Murder is My Business Exhibit at the International Center of Photography.

The International Center of Photography says about the exhibit:

For an intense decade between 1935 and 1946, Weegee (1899–1968) was one of the most relentlessly inventive figures in American photography. His graphically dramatic and often lurid photographs of New York crimes and news events set the standard for what has become known as tabloid journalism. 

Freelancing for a variety of New York newspapers and photo agencies, and later working as a stringer for the short-lived liberal daily PM (1940–48), Weegee established a way of combining photographs and texts that was distinctly different from that promoted by other picture magazines, such as LIFE. 

Utilizing other distribution venues, Weegee also wrote extensively (including his autobiographical Naked City, published in 1945) and organized his own exhibitions at the Photo League. This exhibition draws upon on the extensive Weegee Archive at ICP and includes environmental recreations of Weegee's apartment and exhibitions. The exhibition is organized by ICP Chief Curator Brian Wallis.

January 20 – September 2, Daily (10am–6pm) 
International Center of Photography, 1133 6th Ave, New York, NY

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2011 Indie Lit Awards Mystery Short List

The Short Lists for the 2011 Independent Literary Awards. The awards are given in several genres. Hat Tip: Elizabeth A. White, Musings of an All Purpose Monkey who was a voting member of the “Mystery” panel. Other voting members: Jen Forbus (Jen's Book Thoughts), Lesa Holstine (Lesa's Book Critiques), Tina (Director) (Reader for Life), Wendy (Musings of a Bookish Kitty)

2011 Indie Lit Awards Mystery Short List:

Missing Daughter, Shattered Family by Liz Strange (MLR Press)
The Cut by George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur/LIttle, Brown)
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (St. Martin’s Press)
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey (Dutton)
Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)

The Short Lists have also been announced for the Biography/ Memoir, Fiction, Non-Fiction, GLBTQ, Poetry, and Speculative Fiction genres as well. You can read more about the Independent Literary Awards and see all the Short List nominees on the Indie Lit Awards website.

Hat Tip: Elizabeth A. White, Musings of an All Purpose Monkey

Josef Skvorecky: R.I.P.

From the International Association of Crime Writers (IACW) comes the news that crime writer and publisher Josef Skvorecky died on January 3, in Toronto. He was 87.

Josef Skvorecky was a Czech émigré writer who moved to Canada in 1969, where he taught for many years at the University of Toronto. With his wife, Zdena Salivarova,  he ran 68 Publishers, which published banned Czech works. The imprint became an important mouthpiece for dissident writers, such as Václav Havel, Milan Kundera, and Ludvík Vaculík, among many others. For providing this critical literary outlet, the president of post-Communist Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel, later awarded the couple the Order of the White Lion in 1990. Skvorecky's fiction deals with several themes: the horrors of totalitarianism and repression, the expatriate experience, and the miracle of jazz.

Most of Skvorecky’s novels are available in English: The Cowards, Miss Silver's Past, The Republic of Whores, The Miracle Game, The Swell Season, The Engineer of Human Souls, The Bride of Texas, Dvorak in Love, The Tenor Saxophonist's Story, Two Murders in My Double Life, An Inexplicable Story or The Narrative of Questus Firmus Siculus. Short stories: When Eve Was Naked. Short Novels: The Bass Saxophone and Emöke.

He wrote four detective novels featuring Lieutenant Boruvka of the Prague Homicide Bureau: The Mournful Demeanor of Lieutenant Boruvka, Sins for Father Knox, The End of Lieutenant Boruvka and The Return of Lieutenant Boruvka.

His best known novel was The Engineer of Human Souls, which won the Governor-General’s Award in Canada. He also won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1980. In 1990, he won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada for "Humbug," in The End of Lieutenant Boruvka. In addition,  his numerous literary awards include the Canadian Governor General's Award for English Language Fiction (1984), the Czech Republic State Prize for Literature (1999) and the Prize of the Comenius Pangea Foundation “For Improvement of Human Affairs” (2001) which he received with the Polish film director Andrzej Wajda. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1982. He was also awarded the Order of the White Lion by the President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel, in 1990.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cats on Classic Book Covers from Abe Books

Beth Carswell and the very clever people over at Abe Books have 'catified' the classics with imagined book covers and titles! Cats and books go together, albeit not in these original books.  Be sure and go to Abe Books to see all the covers.  Here's a sampling.

Lord of the Fleas

A group of adolescent fleas are stranded on a lush, furry tabby with no adult fleas, and the ever-present threat of a well-aimed claw. Eventually, despite plentiful blood and space, the stress of the situation becomes too great, and they turn on one another and sharpen a cat-hair at both ends.
The Real Deal: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Girl with the Kitten Tattoo
A kitten vanishes in Sweden, and none of the townsfolk are talking. What's the matter - cat got your tongue? Only Lisbeth Salander, super-sleuth and cat-fancier, can follow a trail this cold. What follows can only be described as a deadly game of cat and mouse.
The Real Deal: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Catsino Royale
007 declares war on Le Chat, French calico and paymaster of the Soviet euthanasia organization CAT-B-GONE. The battle begins with a fifty-million-franc game of bat-the-mousie, gains momentum during Bond's fiery love affair with a sensuous Persian, and escalates.
The Real Deal: Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Be sure to see the rest of the covers at AbeBooks.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Forgotten Books: Mystery Book Group Winter 2012

The Mystery Readers International, NorCal Mystery Book Group has been meeting weekly on Tuesday nights in Berkeley (CA) for over 30 years. Since we've read so many books during that time--at least a book a week--this session we'll be revisiting some books and authors we've come across in the past. So this session, we'll be reading "Forgotten Books". Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. Please comment if you plan to attend...or  comment if you'd like to 'read and discuss' along with us.

Forgotten Books Winter  2012 
Mystery Readers Book Group Berkeley

January 10    The Killings at Badger’s Drift – Caroline Graham

January 17    Many Deadly Returns - Patricia Moyes

January 24:   Rogue Male - Geoffrey Household

January 31   The Murder of Miranda - Margaret Millar

February 7    The Family Vault by Charlotte MacLeod

Feburary 14   Brighton Rock - Graham Greene

February 21   Ruth Rendell: A Judgement in Stone

February 28   Savage Season - Joe R. Lansdale

March 6        The Hollow Man (The Three Coffins) - John Dickson Carr

March 13     Outsider in Amsterdam - Janwillem van de Wetering

March 20     Speak for the Dead - Margaret Yorke

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Double Sided Binocular Flask

I always like things that are other than they seem. This pair of binoculars is really a double sided flask. Each eye piece opens to provide access to a separate compartment. A good solution to bringing drinks to the Ballgame. Of course if you're a thriller reader, you've probably come up with many other possibilities.

Available at several sources on the Internet, ranging from $19.95 to $47.99

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ronald Searle: R.I.P.

UK Artist, St Trinian's Creator Ronald Searle Dies at 91

From the NYT: British cartoonist Ronald Searle, best known for his spiky drawings of the tearaway pupils of the fictional girls school St Trinian's, died in southern France.

Searle, whose anarchic St Trinian's characters spawned a series of movie adaptations, died on December 30 at a hospital near his home in Draguignan, in France's south-eastern Var region.
His spindly schoolgirl creations, which first appeared in 1941, hit the big screen in 1954 as "The Belles of St Trinian's," with Alastair Sim starring in drag as headmistress Millicent Fritton.

Searle was also known for his comic illustrations in a series of 1950s satires on British private school education, written by author Geoffrey Willans, including "Down with Skool" and "How to be Topp."

The books featured the thoughts of schoolboy Nigel Molesworth, and his advice on how to survive the trials of term-time at the crumbling St. Custard's, ruled over by terrifying headmaster Grimes, head boy Grabber and the school dog.

Searle's cartoons also appeared in magazines and newspapers, including Britain's Punch and The New Yorker.

His work was recognized internationally, and he won a number of awards from America's National Cartoonists Society. In France, where he lived since 1961, he was awarded the country's prestigious Legion d'Honneur.

Read the rest of the obituary in the NYT HERE.

Read the Guardian obituary Here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Masterpiece: Downton Abbey, Season 2

So many wonderful PBS shows on Masterpiece for 2012, starting Sunday night with Downton Abbey, Season 2. I was lucky enough to screen episodes 1-6 this past weekend. What a great way to greet the New Year, don't you think? Downton Abbey will air on your local PBS station, Sundays, starting January 8 and go through February 19.

I enjoyed Downton Abbey's first season, but I found the second season even better, if that's possible. O.K., Downton Abbey revisits many themes we've watched before: the Great War, Upstairs/downstairs relationships, the Spanish Flu, change. It's a soap opera, but such a beautiful and well written soap opera with terrific actors and great cinematography that I only lamented the end to the season. As I said, the acting is superb, the costumes fabulous, the cinematography outstanding. This is classic MASTERPIECE as well as Masterpiece Classic!

The second season of Downton Abbey starts several years after Series One ended. It's about love, intrigue and the trauma of war both in the trenches and back at the estate. And, change is definitely afoot. Add to that a bit of mystery, intrigue and romance. Several new characters fill out the cast with a new beau for Lady Mary and a fiance for Matthew. Below stairs Mr Bates continues his relationship with Anna and tries to deal with Mrs Bates, his wife. Thomas is off to war and much more. The Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith is one of the best character in my opinion. She has so much to say on so many matters. Above and below stairs there's lots of intrigue. 

Returning cast includes Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Siobhan Finneran and many more. Downton Abbey, produced by Carnival Films and copproducted by MASTERPIECE, won 6 Emmys, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movies, plus awards for Supporting Actress Dame Maggie Smith, Writer Julian Fellowes and nominations for Direction, Cinematography, and Costumes.

If you weren't one of the thirteen million MASTERPIECE viewers who watched the first season, you can watch episodes online at PBS HERE. Be sure to tune in Sunday night for Downton Abbey or set your DVR or watch next week on PBS, streaming. Don't miss it!