Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recycled Crime Scene Tape Dress

Love this Crime Scene Gown that's perfect for the Red Carpet.. Created by artist and environmental educator Nancy Judd of Recycle Runway. She creates couture fashion from trash as an innovative way to provide education about conservation.

 Read a blog post about the making of this dress HERE.

Too Fancy for your taste? Check out Nancy Judd's Caution Tape Dress..

Saturday, September 29, 2012

GUN VASES is one of my favorite sites for things I want but definitely do not need. If you know me, I need nothing, but I have a lot of wants. This vase comes from SUCK UK. Besides unique items for pets, they also sell items for people.

This ceramic vase available for $42 features three pistols at the hold a lovely arrangement of flowers. Inspired by iconic images from the peace marches of the 1960s, when protesters would stick a single flower in the barrels of soldiers' guns. Make love—not war!

 Also available as a Wall Vase --Sconce Vase, but with only one gun! $22.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Richard Lupoff: Writing Backwards

Today I welcome Richard A. Lupoff, writer emeritus, of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction. Read a summary bibliography HERE.  

Dick Lupoff (born February 21, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York) is a science fiction and mystery author, who has also written humor, satire, non-fiction and reviews. In addition to his two dozen novels and more than 40 short stories, he has also edited science-fantasy anthologies. Dick is also an expert on the writing of Edgar Rice Burroughs and  H. P. Lovecraft. Don't miss his Hobart Lindsey/Marvia Plum mystery series. Following Dick tells Mystery Fanfare more about his writing process and history and his new mystery Rookie Blues (Dark Sun Press). Thanks, Dick, for stopping by.

Richard A. Lupoff: 

 Imagine a row of six small wooden chairs on a stage, facing an audience of a couple of hundred kids ranging from five or so, up through high school age. It was a summer camp, and this was part of the evening’s entertainment.

There were seven-year-old campers sitting in those chairs and they were divided into teams. Chairs one, three, and five were Green. Chairs two, four, and six were Gray.

A counselor read the first few paragraphs of a spooky story aloud. The six kids were then allowed two minutes apiece to continue the story. A panel of judges would award points to each team, depending on how well each contestant did at extemporaneous storytelling. A poor job would receive no points, a fair job would receive one point, a good job would receive two points. The three scores for each team would be added up to determine the winner.

There was probably a prize for the winning team, but I don’t remember what it was. Probably something on the order of a Tootsie Roll or a comic book.

I can still remember my feeling of terror as the contest began. I was a painfully shy child and I had no experience in extemporaneous storytelling. But I listened carefully as the counselor read the set-up paragraphs and as the other contestants continued the story. When my turn came I just took a deep breath and did my best, and hoped that I wouldn’t get a zero for my team.

The six contestants presented their parts of the story, the judges conferred, and the emcee-counselor announced which campers received a one and which received a two. Nobody got a zero. Then came my name, and the emcee said that because one camper had done an outstanding job, the judges had decided to award him three points.

Yes! I had scored a three-pointer.

The judges probably didn’t intend to choose a career for me, but the fact is that they did.

Segue a decade or so into the future, and I’m loafing my way through high school, ignoring chemistry and trigonometry and teaching myself to be a writer. I edited the school paper, worked as a sports reporter, operated a clandestine and totally illegal business ghost-writing book reports for my customers (twenty-five cents a page), turned out a few short stories and started a novel that I got about a page and a half into before quitting. And I read literary theory.

I came across the statement, attributed to Poe, that mystery stories were written backwards. That was a real head-scratcher. I thought Poe meant that he’d written “The Gold Bug” this way:

“?tell shall who—dozen a required it perhaps; pit the in busy were coadjutors his while , sufficient were mattock a with blows of couple a Perhaps”

It took me an embarrassingly long time to understand that “writing backwards” was a sort of metaphor. Poe’s idea was that the author knew the solution to the mystery before he wrote his story. With this solution in mind, the author would actually plan backwards (not literally write backwards) toward the beginning of the story, planting clues along the way so as to make the solution of the mystery inevitable.

Well, a few more decades slide past. I’ve already established a career for myself as a science fiction writer, packed that one in, started over writing mysteries, and scored a few credits in my new field. British anthologist Mike Ashley asks me for an original story for a book of historical mysteries. Well, I am not much of an historian, and would probably have Julius Caesar assassinated with a Tommy gun if I tried to write such a story, but I’m old enough and have a good enough memory to recall much of the 1940s, so I write a story set in August, 1946. Mike is delighted with it and I am happy to cash his check.

My protagonist is an ex-cop, recently discharged from the US Army after serving in World War Two, and I find that once the story is written I can’t keep this guy out of my mind. I want to know more about him. So the next time I’m asked for a story, I bring back Nick Train—that’s his name—and set the action earlier in the same year. I learned a little more about Nick, but I was not satisfied.

So I wrote another story, digging back into his past, and set it in 1942, while he’s taking Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia—just as I would a dozen years later. Now I know more, now I understand more, but still I am unsatisfied. So I start what I believe will be the last Nick Train short story. It’s set in 1938. Nick is a high school grad, an unsuccessful boxer—as I would eventually be—and becomes a rookie cop, mainly because he’s bored and broke and it’s a job.

Now I’m generally a committed outliner when I write stories, and when I write mysteries I “write backwards” the same way Poe did. But this story, I believe, is going to be pretty short and pretty easy to write so I skip over the outlining task and just start to write. I figure the story is going to be about 4,000 words in length.

A few nights later my Beloved Spouse asks me, over the sautéed eggplant, how the story is coming along. I tell her it’s coming along just fine but it will probably be a little longer than I’d anticipated. More like 5,000 words. Maybe 5,500.

A few nights later my Beloved Spouse asks me, over the chicken fricassee, how the story is coming along. I tell her it’s coming along just fine but it will probably be a little longer than I’d anticipated. More like 7,500 words. Maybe 8,000.

A few nights later my Beloved Spouse asks me, over the linguini and mushroom sauce, how the story is coming along. I tell her that it’s coming along just fine but that, well, I guess it’s a novelette. Gonna run maybe 12,000 words.

And so it goes. Once I’ve left 20,000 words behind me and there’s no end in sight, I finally admit that, Okay, you win, it’s a novel. And it is a novel. It’s called Rookie Blues.

For about thirty years, until his tragic demise, my friend Bill Reinka read all my novels and many of my short stories and commented on them. He was most intrigued by their structure. He always found it astonishing that I brought in so many characters and themes and made them all fit together and come out even at the end. No holes. No loose ends. Everything neat and tidy.

The answer is, it’s no secret, it’s just a matter of following Poe’s dictum and writing the story backwards. I knew the way it had to end. I just had to work back toward the beginning and plant my clues.

But I had no outline for Rookie Blues!

The thing just grew organically, and when I was stuck for a turn of plot I moved from Baltimore to Los Angeles, and followed Raymond Chandler’s dictum: “If you don’t know what happens next, just bring somebody through the door with a gun in his hand!”

Somehow the book got done, and it’s now in print from a fine new East Coast publisher called Dark Sun Press. The three Nick Train short stories are also included, as a kind of bonus to the reader.

Rookie Blues feels different to me than anything else I’ve ever written. Instead of the tight structure of, for instance, my Lindsey and Plum novels or my Chase and Delacroix novelettes, it has a kind of quirky, organic structure to it.

The world isn’t neatly and efficiently organized. Things happen unexpectedly. Events take weird and unanticipated turns. As Hammett said, a beam falls and it misses you by a couple of inches and you realize how fragile is your tenure on this planet, and instead of going back to your desk after lunch you change your whole life.

So far, nobody has complained about the loose structure of Rookie Blues. Early reviews and reader comments have been unanimously favorable. It’s getting close to time for me to start another novel and I’m wondering whether to take my lead from Poe—or from Chandler.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur Crime Fiction

The Kol Nidre service tonight marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. That a murder would take place on Yom Kippur  (or during the past 8 Days of Awe)  runs opposite to Jewish belief. Let's hope any murders only take place in fiction!

Here's a short list of Mysteries that take place during the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur. As always, I welcome any additions to this list.

Three Weeks in October by Yael Dayan
Days of Atonement by Michael Gregorio
Yom Kippur Murder by Lee Harris
Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
Nights of Awe by Harri Nykanen

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where to Eat in Aix: Outside of Aix: Guest post by M.L. Longworth

Today I welcome back M.L. Longworth, author of the Verlaque  & Bonnel mystery series. Her latest, Murder in the Rue Dumas, takes place in a small university in the idyllic town of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. This charming series continues with a dumbfounding murder that nearly stumps the handsome chief magistrate of Aix, Antoine Verlaque.  I love this series. Who doesn't love Provence? There is so much wining and dining in this novel, that I'm pleased that M.L. Longworth who lives near Aix chose to share some of her favorite dining spots in Aix for the theme of this guest post.

Read a previous guest post that appeared on Mystery Fanfare by M.L. Longworth about her life and writing in Aix.

**Book Giveaway: Murder in the Rue Dumas. Make a comment below. Be sure and leave your email address. ***

M.L. Longworth
Where to Eat in Aix: Outside of Aix 

Aix-en-Provence has golden stone buildings, medieval winding streets, dozens of ancient fountains, and beautiful people. But it doesn't have good restaurants. Is it because the beautiful people don't care about good food? Or is it because Aix has always been a big tourist and student town, so local chefs have never had to make an effort at filling their restaurants?

So when we go out to eat in Aix, it's usually outside of the city's walls. One of the first landmarks you'll see when coming towards Aix is Mont Saint-Victoire, Cézanne's obsession: he painted over 100 images of the white craggy mountain. At the foot of the mountain is the charming Provençal village of Puyloubier, home to one of our favorite restaurants, Les Sarments. Chef Jean-Sébastien Gentil has worked in Paris and London and his food reflects his training: sophisticated, refined, and cooked and presented with imagination. I don't care for the interior, but the courtyard is lovely.

It's also best to dine outside at La Table de Ventabren, west of Aix. This Michelin one-star restaurant is located in old Ventabren, a medieval perched village (lower Ventabren is a bedroom community of Aix). From the terrace, which is elegantly furnished, the views south reach almost to the sea. There are two prix-fixe menus, at 41 and 50 euros, which change weekly. When you're on the terrace on a warm summer's evening, it's heaven.

North of Aix is a winery and sculpture park, Château La Coste, the passion of an Irish billionaire and his sister. We never liked La Coste's wines until the Irishman took over; he modernized the chai, went organic, and hired Matthieu Cosse as chief winemaker. Cosse's Pentes Douces red wine is fantastic. And now for the grounds: imagine you could hire any Pritzker winning architect--Jean Nouvel or Frank Gehry, and then commission famous sculptors--Richard Serra, Andy Goldsworthy--to create works of art for your grounds, well, that's what this brother and sister did. I think that the two-hour walk through the grounds is one of the best things Aix has going for it. And I've never eaten in their chic restaurant, so can't say if it's good. But when you're having lunch in a Tadao Ando building, who cares?
4 rue Qui Monte
13114 Puyloubier 04 42 66 31 58
1 rue Cézanne
13122 Ventabren
04 42 28 79 33
2750 Route de la Cride
13610 Le Puy Ste-Réparade
04 42 61 92 90

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vintage Typewriter USB Keyboard

This is way too funny, but it's real! 

This vintage typewriter has been modified to function as a USB Keyboard intended for PC, Mac, or iPad! It's a totally functional computer keyboard! This USB Typewriter can type all words, numerals, and punctuation marks. It also incorporates shift, space, and return carriage. Many non-standard keys, such as F1-F12, esc, ctrl are accessible with a unique toggle key. You can use it as the major computer keyboard, or shut off your monitor altogether and type on paper while saving your work to disk. Also good as a keyboard dock for your iPad.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Skull Jiggers or Planters

Country Living Magazine suggests an innovative use for these skull jiggers from Fill them with soil and sedum, and plant a small succulent. Of course, you can always use them for their original purpose--fill with whiskey and drink!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Burberry Metallic Trench Coats

Burberry presented a full spectrum of color in their Metallic Trench Coats for the Spring 2013 collection. Perfect for the well dressed detective!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Megan Abbott Movie News

Megan Abbott's Dare Me has been optioned by Fox 2000.

Producer: Karen Rosenfelt (The Devil Wears Prada).

Congratulations, Megan!

Life Time Achievement: Elmore Leonard

The National Book Foundation will bestow its Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (DCAL) on novelist Elmore Leonard. Award ceremony November 14 at the 2012 National Book Awards.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Upstairs Downstairs, Season 2

Just a heads up that Upstairs Downstairs, Season 2, Masterpiece! on PBS, will start on October 7. Of course we have another episode of Wallander before this.

In 1938, war is about to topple a way of life. But not quite yet.
Upstairs Downstairs Season 2: On MASTERPIECE Classic
Sundays, Oct. 7 - Nov. 11, 2012, 9-10pm ET on PBS

The intrigues of life, love, and international politics come to a boil at 165 Eaton Place in a thrilling panorama of English society on the eve of World War II. Keeley Hawes (Wives and Daughters), Ed Stoppard (Brideshead Revisited), and Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) return in Season 2 of the Emmy®-nominated continuation of the 1970s classic. Guest stars include Alex Kingston (ER) and Emilia Fox (Rebecca).

Upstairs Downstairs Season 2 will be available to view online at beginning the day after broadcast, for a limited time.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie: John Curran Guest Post

Today is Agatha Christie's birthday, so I invited John Curran, award winning Christie expert and archivist to guest post. John's new book Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making just came out 9/11/12 from William Morrow.

John Curran/AGATHA CHRISTIE: MURDER IN THE MAKING (William Morrow): John Curran examines the unpublished notebooks of the world’s bestselling author to discover more about the techniques she used to entertain generations of readers. He shows how more than 20 of her novels draw on personal materials and letters. And he rounds out the study with a look at the last notebook and uses his knowledge of Christie to speculate about the book she had in mind, based on the notes for an unwritten final story. 

John Curran:

As you read this I will be attending the Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay. Every year throughout the week that includes her birthday – 15th September – fans from all over the world gather to celebrate the life and work of the Queen of Crime in her birthplace on the beautiful Devon coast in south-west England. She spent her idyllic childhood here in Barton Road, where a plaque commemorates the fact, and lived here in the house, sadly demolished, called Ashfield until her marriage in 1914. She spent her honeymoon in The Grand Hotel, which now has an Agatha Christie suite, beside Torquay railway station and, of course, in 1938 she bought Greenway House just outside the town.

During the week you can get the train, just like Hercule Poirot in The ABC Murders (1935), to Churston, scene of the ‘C’ murder and walk to Greenway House. Or, less energetically, you can take the steam-train and alight at the newly opened Greenway Halt station and walk a shorter distance. Fans can follow the geography of Five Little Pigs (1943), possibly sitting on the rampart in the Battery where Elsa Green posed for the doomed Amyas Crale; and visit the boathouse where the body of Marlene Tucker is found in Dead Man’s Folly (1956). And for completeness you can cross the river Dart by the ferry at the end of Greenway Road, mentioned in the opening sentence of Ordeal by Innocence (1958): ‘It was dusk when he came to the ferry.’ In the house itself you will see the dinner-gong (‘Dead Man’s Mirror’) and visit the drawing-room where Poirot took afternoon tea in Dead Man’s Folly before leaving by the French-window near the magnolia tree (‘Magnolia Blossom’). You can see the revolving bookcase – in fact, you can see two of them – that played such a vital role in Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (1975), the Harelquin figures that inspired The Mysterious Mr. Quin and visit Poirot’s bedroom (actually Agatha’s) during the course of Dead Man’s Folly. In the grounds and garden you can admire the tennis-court which offered a clue during Mrs. Oliver’s Murder Hunt and see the gate-lodge, scene of the final poignant encounter at the close of that novel.

Further afield in Torquay readers can take tea, while admiring the spectacular panorama of Torbay, on the terrace of the Imperial Hotel, where Nick Buckley met Hercule Poirot in the opening pages of Peril at End House (1932) and where, later, Miss Marple stayed with her friend Dolly Bantry during The Body in the Library (1942) and, where, at the end of her career, the elderly detective from St. Mary Mead explained the ramifications of Sleeping Murder (1976). Although the house itself is no longer standing, it is still possible to walk along the headland to the site of ‘End House’. And while no-one nowadays roller-skates on the pier as Agatha did as a young woman it is still possible to stroll along it and follow it up by a visit to the nearby Pavilion where, after a Wagner concert Archie Christie asked Agatha Miller to marry him. Nearby is the only official bust of Agatha Christie on public display, unveiled by her daughter in her mother’s centenary year, 1990, and now appearing in photo albums of Christie fans all over the world. A short walk further along the seafront will bring you to the Princess Theatre, where this year Murder on the Nile will be playing, and where an unobtrusive Agatha Christie sometimes crept into a seat during the run of one of her plays.

After a short climb you can attend, as part of this year’s Festival, a Service of Thanksgiving in the church where Agatha was baptised. Slightly further afield you can visit the church where Agatha regularly worshipped and to which she donated the Miss Marple short story ‘Sanctuary’ to pay for the magnificent stained-glass window behind the altar.. About an hour’s drive away is the stunningly situated Burgh Island whose geography exactly matches that of the island and Jolly Roger Hotel in Evil under the Sun (1941) and where Agatha was a frequent visitor. The tennis–court that supplied some alibis, the bathing beach where the suspects swam and the terrace from which Hercule Poirot watched them, as well as Pixy’s Cove, are all still almost exactly as Agatha described them. If you time your visit properly you can walk from the mainland across the sands, as did Linda in the book, for lunch in the art-deco hotel and return afterwards by the sea-tractor back.

Although she lived for most of each year in Wallingford in Oxfordshire, the town where she was born celebrates its most famous daughter throughout the year but most especially during this week in September. She may have spent only her summer months and holiday periods in Greenway House but the house itself, the grounds and surrounding county attest to the importance of Torquay and Devon to her.


JR: To celebrate Dame Agatha's birthday today, you might also want to pick up: AGATHA CHRISTIE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (William Morrow): In a new edition of the 1977 edition originally published in the U.S. by Dodd, Mead, and Company.  Agatha Christie sheds light on her past including her childhood in Victorian England, her volunteer work during World War II, her rise to success, her working habits, the inspiration for her most famous characters―Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple—and the places and people that influenced her.  The trade paperback edition includes 24 pages of photographs in black and white and in color, a special code to download newly discovered voice recordings of Agatha Christie dictating parts of this very book. Finally, there’s an introduction by Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie’s grandson, explaining how he found the tapes used to make the recordings.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jamie Freveletti: Writing for a Legend

Today I welcome thriller writer Jamie Freveletti with a guest post on writing the Robert Ludlum Covert Ones series.

WRITING FOR A LEGEND: Frightening, Engrossing and Fascinating 

My contribution to Robert Ludlum’s Covert One series THE JANUS REPRISAL launched on September 11th, and Mystery Readers asked me to write a post about how it all came about and what it’s like to write for a legendary author like Ludlum. I can tell you, without reservation that it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my writing career so far and one that I hadn’t expected to be offered.

For those who don’t know me, I write a thriller series featuring Emma Caldridge, a chemist and ultramarathon runner who travels the world looking for unique plants and chemicals. The books in my series are: Running From The Devil, Running Dark and The Ninth Day. Emma is a bit like a female Macgyver who’s not afraid to pick up a rocket propelled grenade when she has to, and the books are high concept, with an international plot, a lot of action, and a hero, all of which is not unlike a lot of Ludlum’s novels.

While the Estate of Robert Ludlum’s process hasn’t been revealed to me, I imagine that the representatives must have read my thriller series and liked it. During the time that I was under consideration I already had two books out in print. Running From The Devil and Running Dark. Running From The Devil won two awards; The International Thriller Writers’ award for Best First Novel, and the Barry award, and was nominated for a Macavity award (thanks all!). It was after I accepted the ITW award that I was told that I was in the running to write for Ludlum and the offer was extended after the Barry award.

I remember distinctly the moment that I sat in the hotel bar at the Bouchercon conference in San Francisco discussing writing the next in the series. I tried to act cool, but inside I was thinking constantly about the Ludlum novels that I’d read. Would I be able to come close to his fast paced and engrossing writing style? Was I crazy to accept? And if I did accept and wrote the book, would the fans embrace me?

I accepted, they told me a little bit about the group of characters that Ludlum created as Covert One, and I went upstairs to my room and, unable to wind down, I decided to write something. Amazingly, what I wrote that day survived all of my and my editors’ cuts to become the first Chapter.

The main protagonist, Jon Smith, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and a microbiologist with USAMRIID (United States Army Medical Research Institute on Infectious Diseases- a real place) and a stand up guy who’s smart and unafraid. I knew I wanted him in trouble from the moment he opens his eyes and he is. He’s in a hotel that’s under attack by terrorists. Here’s the first line:

Lieutenant Colonel Jon Smith opened his eyes to see a shadowy figure standing at the foot of his hotel room bed pointing a gun at him.

I can only hope I captured some of Ludlum’s fast pace and intricate plots. I also hope that you like novel. It will have a special place on my bookshelf for years to come! 


Jamie Freveletti is a trial attorney, martial artist, and runner. She has crewed for an elite ultra-marathon runner at 50 mile, 100 mile, and twenty-four hour races across the country, and holds a black belt in aikido, a Japanese martial art. After law school she lived in Geneva, Switzerland while obtaining a diploma in International Studies. Back in Chicago, she represented clients in areas ranging from class actions for mass salmonella poisoning to securities fraud. Her debut thriller, Running from the Devil, was chosen as a “Notable Book” by the Independent Booksellers of America, awarded "Best First Novel" by the International Thriller Writers, awarded a Barry Award for "Best First Novel" by Deadly Pleasures Magazine, and nominated for a Macavity Award for "Best First Mystery" by Mystery Readers International and "Favorite First Novel of 2009" by Crimespree Magazine. It has been translated into three languages and was an international bestseller.

Her second novel, Running Dark, released in June, 2010, hit both the Chicagoland and South Florida bestseller lists and won a Lovey award for Best Novel 2010.

The third novel in her series, The Ninth Day released in September, 2011 and was chosen as one of the "Best Thrillers of 2011" by Suspense Magazine.

In January, 2011, she was tapped by the Estate of Robert Ludlum to write the next in the Covert One series. That novel, The Janus Reprisal, was just released on September 11, 2012. The fourth in her series, Dead Asleep will be released on October 30, 2012.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lee Child Desk Police Officer Cameo

Last week I posted this still from the new Jack Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise. I love that Lee Child, creator and writer par excellence, of the Jack Reacher mysteries, has a cameo in the film as a desk cop. Very cool, Lee, especially since you're 'seated'.. no competition with Tom. You're the real height of Reacher, but I won't go there.

Anyway, it turned out that it was not the 'official' release date for the photo still, even though it was posted in various places on the internet. So I took it down. Today is the official date, so for those who missed it, here it is again. And, for those who already saw it, enjoy the Official Movie Trailer for Reacher below.

Cartoon of the Day II: Dogs

Couldn't help but post this second cartoon today.....

Cartoon of the Day: Books & Movies

From cartoonist David Sipress, The New Yorker:

Hat Tip: Mystery author April Smith

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Les Roberts: Cleveland Rocks!

With Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, meeting in Cleveland this year, I thought I'd ask Les Roberts for a guest post.  Les Roberts is the author of 16 mystery novels featuring Cleveland detective Milan Jacovich, as well as 11 other books of fiction.

Les Roberts is the past president of both the Private Eye Writers of America and the American Crime Writers League. He came to mystery writing after a 24-year career in Hollywood. Les has been a professional actor, a singer, a jazz musician, and a teacher. In 2003 he received the Sherwood Anderson Literary Award. A native of Chicago, he now lives in Northeast Ohio and is a film and literary critic. Roberts’s newest book, Whiskey Island is available at, and other online retailers, in both print and eBook editions. Les Roberts blogs at:

**Win a copy of Whiskey Island by leaving a comment below. 2 winners will be chosen. Be sure and leave your email address (encrypted, if you'd like: john at mac dot com)**

The Supporting Cast

When I was five years old and living in a high-rise Chicago apartment building, the manager was very imposing.---tall, good-looking, piercingly deep voice, and always wore bow ties.  By the time I was ten, I learned he wasn't omnipotent, but only a loud-talking phony-baloney jerk.  So when I was creating Bert Loftus, the major supporting character in my newest novel Whiskey Island, this man kept appearing in my imagination, insisting I base a character on him.  Similarly, the greedy landlords in the novel, Jeff and Vicki Ogrin (known not very affectionately as The Ogres), are based, both on appearance and personality, on my lady love's grotesque and obnoxious next-door neighbors.

If I were to thumb through my other 25 novels (and no, I do NOT sit around and re-read them all day long), I would recognize all of the supporting characters, some vital to the plot and some taking up no more than a paragraph, as people I know, people I've met, people I've seen on the street or in a restaurant.  I don't base them on movie actors, which is bizarre and lazy, and I don't make them up out of whole cloth.  Everything we mystery authors put on paper, even fantasy, horror, imagination or sci-fi, comes from something, somewhere, or someone we have experienced. The hired gangster in Whiskey Island, whom I nicknamed "Hatchet-nose," in my mind is just like my memory of a guy in my high school.  Nice guy he was---but even at sixteen years of age he looked like a serial killer.

I've never met Thomas Harris, and I'm fairly certain he never personally became acquainted with an insane cannibal.  But I'd bet the farm that somewhere in his life he knew a brilliant and totally loony genius, and the memory of that genius, under his skilled fingers, fleshed out and made a world-famous fictional villain of Hannibal Lecter.

So think of all those in your life, past or present, who made a lasting impression on you in some way---how they looked, how they talked, how they walked, the clothes they wore.  Let those memories fill you, simmer in your head, allow you (since you're writing fiction) to tinker with them until they're exactly the way you want them to be---and voila!  You're just about ready to write a book!

Now all you need is a plot.....

Read a sample from Whiskey Island

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BOURBON STREET BOOKS: HarperCollins Publishers

HarperCollins has launched Bourbon Street Books, a new line of paperback mysteries.

BOURBON STREET BOOKS will publish all types of mysteries and will feature paperback originals, reprints, backlist titles, and reissued classics. The launch will begin with two paperback originals: The Hollow Man, a debut by British author Oliver Harris, and Blood Line, the 7th book in the Anna Travis series by international bestselling author Lynda La Plante, both publishing on October 23rd.

Bourbon Street Books will also bring back into print Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey with Harriet Vane series for the launch on October 16th, including Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Busman’s Honeymoon, and Gaudy Night.   Nick Drake’s Egypt: The Book of Chaos will release as a trade paperback in December under this new line.

For the winter 2013 season, Bourbon Street Books will be reissuing four Mary Kay Andrews novels — Happy Never After, Homemade Sin, To Live and Die in Dixie, Every Crooked Nanny ― all of which were originally written under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck, and will now be published under Mary Kay Andrews for the first time in March. Nicola Upson’s next entry in her Josephine Tey series, Fear in the Sunlight, will be published in April.  The new book in Michael Stanley’s acclaimed Detective Kubu series, and a spy thriller called The Geneva Option by debut author Adam LeBor will publish under this new line in the summer 2013 season.

Janet Dawson & Gigi Pandian: September 19 Literary Salon

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for an evening Literary Salon on September 19 at 7 p.m. in Berkeley with Bay Area Mystery Writers Janet Dawson and Gigi Pandian.

Janet Dawson 

Janet Dawson has written ten novels featuring Oakland private investigator Jeri Howard. Her first, Kindred Crimes, won the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America contest for best first private eye novel. It was nominated in the best first category for three mystery awards, the Shamus, the Macavity and the Anthony. Other Jeri Howard books include Till The Old Men Die, Take A Number, Don't Turn Your Back On The Ocean, Nobody's Child, A Credible Threat, Witness to Evil, Where The Bodies Are Buried and A Killing at the Track. A book of ten short stories, Scam and Eggs, was published in 2002. A new Jeri Howard novel, Bit Player, published by Perseverance Press in April 2011, was nominated for a Golden Nugget Award for the best mystery set in California. Her stand-alone suspense novel What You Wish For will be published by Perseverance in September 2012.

In the past, Dawson was a newspaper reporter in Colorado, and her stint as a U.S. Navy journalist took her to Guam and Florida. As an officer in the Navy, she was stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area. After leaving the Navy, Dawson worked in the legal field. She is now on the staff of the Physical Biosciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and resides in Alameda, California.

Read a Guest Post by Janet Dawson

Gigi Pandian

Gigi Pandian is a mystery writer, photographer, and graphic designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the child of two cultural anthropologists, one from the southern tip of India, the other from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She graduated from Pitzer College and went on to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Bath in England. Before completing her PhD, she realized she was much better suited to writing about the fictional adventures of academics than being one herself. She left academia for art school, and began writing the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. The first book in the series, Artifact, was released August 28, 2012.

Pandian was awarded the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant for Artifact. The grant is given out every year at the Malice Domestic mystery convention to foster the next generation of traditional mystery writers.

A month after her 36th birthday, Gigi was diagnosed with breast cancer. To get through her treatments, she decided to throw herself into her mystery writing. She’s happy to report that she’s doing well. Life is still uncertain, though, so she plans to have a lot of fun in life as she travels the world with her husband, camera, and notebook for writing mysteries.

Read Gigi's Guest Post HERE.

Please RSVP for more information and location.  Potluck Sweets & Savories.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Books

I live in the San Francisco Bay area on top of a hill in a very foggy area. Needless to say, mildew is the enemy of someone like me who collects books. And, that's not even mentioning the 11,000 or so books stored in Bodega Bay... The Bay part is the tip off in both cases. Lots of humidity, in this case in terms of fog.

This article on's Blog is particularly relevant to my library, not because of new mildew but mostly for the books I buy at flea markets and used bookstores. In the past, I've put books in the freezer if I suspected mildew, but this article more to say and great directions for removing mold and mildew.

Remember, mold and mildew live off of organic material (leather, wood, paper, cloth) and over time their presence can weaken the structure of the book, stain the cover and pages, and prompt negative effects in your health, especially for folks with allergies or asthma. It is important to identify the active growth of mold and mildew and remove it before it spreads through your entire library!

How to Identify Mold and Mildew (from

Mold: Mold is a type of fungus that can and will grow on anything, as long as it can find a food source and the appropriate humidity for its development. It can develop in patches of threads, thick spider-webs or fuzzy spots, and it appears most often on natural, porous surfaces such as cotton, linen, silk, wool, leather, and paper. It reproduces by sending out clouds of spores, hence it’s ability to “leap” from book to book.
You probably have mold growth on your book if you observe any of the following problems:
  • the presence of fuzzy growth, in just about any color you can imagine
  • stringy, white filaments stretching across porous surfaces
  • evidence of past water damage
  • strange spots or stains
Mildew: Mold is often accompanied by mildew. While they share some similarities, they are not the same kind of fungus. However, any moldy or otherwise soiled surface can provide a nutritive source for mildew, and beyond that it requires the prime temperature and humidity level to make it appear and spread like wildfire.
You probably have mildew growth on your book if you observe any of the following problems:
  • “Old book smell” – that ubiquitous scent is often caused by mildew, even after it is removed
  • a thin haze, a patch of spots, or a powdery flaking layer, normally white, black, or grey on the surface of the book or paper
If you identify mold or mildew on any of your books, magazines, or paper ephemera, remove them from your collection immediately!

Go here for the remedies.

Hat Tip to Bill Gottfried for this link to's Blog.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Treasure Hunting with Gigi Pandian

Gigi Pandian is a mystery writer, photographer, and graphic designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the child of two cultural anthropologists, one from the southern tip of India, the other from Albuquerque, New Mexico. After being dragged around the world during her childhood, she tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program in favor of art school. But adventurous academic characters wouldn’t stay out of her head. Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series. Gigi was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant for her debut mystery novel, Artifact, which was released August 28, 2012.

Gigi Pandian will appear at a Mystery Readers Literary Salon with Janet Dawson on September 19


One of the reasons I love Janet’s Mystery Fanfare blog is that her posts short and sweet – a combination of intriguing photos with interesting tidbits she knows mystery lovers will appreciate. So when Janet asked me to contribute a post here, I thought I’d give you some background about my debut mystery novel, Artifact, in a style appropriate to this blog – through photos.

In Artifact, the first book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series that came out August 28th, historian Jaya Jones travels from San Francisco to London to the Highlands of Scotland, piecing together the secrets of a lost Indian treasure hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj.

I wanted to write a mystery that combined a puzzle plot of a traditional mystery with a treasure hunt adventure. I know treasure hunts are traditionally considered a guy genre, but why let guys have all the fun?

I’ve loved treasure hunts since I was a kid, and I never outgrew that fascination. I got a taste for treasure hunts firsthand when I tagged along with my anthropologist parents on their research trips. Dunnottar Castle in Scotland inspired the setting of Artifact.

Dunnottar Castle was once used as a hiding place for the Scottish Crown Jewels. How can you look at this view and *not* want to write a mystery involving a treasure that takes place along the dangerous cliffs of the Highlands of Scotland?

Traveling in India, I was overwhelmed by the living histories of so many different cultures. I’m more familiar with Scotland, but I knew I wanted to weave Indian history into the story, so I created historian Jaya Jones, whose historical expertise is the British East India Company.

I spent years having fun scribbling story ideas in notebooks, and I might never have gotten my act together to finish the novel had it not been for the Malice Domestic Grants Committee. They saw potential in the book and awarded me a William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant. I used the grant to travel to the UK to finish doing research for the novel at the British Library in London.

Suspense Magazine says “If Indiana Jones had a sister, it would definitely be historian Jaya Jones,” and I hope other readers will agree.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Malice Domestic Grants for Unpublished Writers

The William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program 2012 call for submissions from Unpublished Writers. Submissions will be accepted between September 15th through November 15th, 2012 only.

The William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers is designed to foster quality Malice Domestic literature and to help the next generation of Malice Domestic authors get their first works published. For submission guidelines as well as a complete list of previous grant winners, please visit:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

San Francisco in TV & Movies: A Personal Post by Tony Piazza

Today I welcome Tony Piazza, Central Coast mystery writer, film historian, presenter, and a veteran storyteller well-known for his passion about writing and movies.
Piazza is the author of two mystery novels, Anything Short of Murder and The Curse of the Crimson Dragon, (Dog Ear Publishing-available through Amazon). Piazza’s new book, Bullitt Points, (SansTree), provides behind-the-scenes look at the making of the classic Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt” and the involvement of the Piazza family in the production. Piazza worked regularly as an extra and stand-in on multiple Hollywood movies and television shows shot in San Francisco during the 1970′s, including “Towering Inferno,” “High Anxiety,” “Magnum Force,” and “Streets of San Francisco.” His inventory of stories reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood from that era: Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Darren McGavin, Paul Newman, Karl Malden, Michael Douglas, Raymond Burr, Walter Matthau, Fred Astaire, Robert Vaughn and Leslie Nielsen.  


The San Francisco Bay Area has played host to a number of motion picture and television production companies over the years. Why? A cinematographer once told me that San Francisco with its numerous hills and magnificent views of the bay made it the second most photographed city in the world, with Rome being awarded the first. I would like to add being a former citizen, both born and raised there, that San Francisco, with its Barbary Coast history, dark foreboding alleys, and fog shrouded streets was chosen by production companies because it provided the perfect backdrop for their films dealing in crime, detection, and mystery. A few motion pictures that come to mind--D.O.A, Dark Passage, The Lady from Shanghai, The House on Telegraph Hill, and most notably The Maltese Falcon. Author Dashiell Hammett had his roots in the city, and even though Nick Charles’s first case for The Thin Man takes place in New York, its movie sequel landed the detective, wife Nora, and dog Asta with relatives in the bay area. Television also viewed San Francisco as a prime candidate for their crime series; San Francisco Beat a.k.a. The Lineup and Sam Benedict being two early examples.

I was extremely fortunate as a youth and young adult to share in this history. My father was a San Francisco police officer who was assigned back in 1959 to act as liaison to visiting film companies. He provided security, crowd and traffic control, technical advice-- in essence anything that involved the logistics of assisting with their film production. He worked closely with directors searching out locations and with stunt coordinators orchestrating car chases. This assignment gave my mother and me under-the-rope access to these productions and the unique opportunity to meet stars, directors, and technicians. He did this for seventeen years, and in the process made a name for himself. I eventually became directly involved in the 1970s, working as an extra, stand-in, and bit actor. I signed with the largest of the modeling/casting agents,the Brebner Agency, and was given opportunities to work on such shows as Magnum Force, The Streets of San Francisco, and The Enforcer, and becoming friends with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Karl Malden and Michael Douglas. It was quite a surreal experience for a man in his early twenties. When I sat in theaters, or watched television I saw myself up on the screen opposite these great ones. Even today, when I sit down and pop a DVD of Streets into my player I’m not just watching a show, but reliving memories. It’s like viewing home movies.

My first recollection of being on a film location was in the late fifties. I was taken by my mother to Candlestick Park to visit my dad on the set of Experiment in Terror. The film starred Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, and Ross Martin. Somehow during our visit we ended up being an extra in the audience at the ballpark under the direction of Blake Edwards. What a thrill, but I didn’t really understand that then. As an inquisitive four year old, I was just confused why we were cheering for a ball team that wasn’t there. As time passed, however, I did become more cognizant of events around me, and totally appreciative of the opportunities that my dad’s associations brought me. I got to meet my heartthrob Ann Margaret filming Once a Thief, visit with the very cool Steve McQueen at San Francisco General Hospital on location for Bullitt, joke around with Raymond Burr and the cast of Ironside, and nearly bought the car that Dirty Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) drove in the film of that same name. And although I was too young when the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock filmed Vertigo, I did see him later on the set of his last film, Family Plot. Marching down the center aisle of Grace Cathedral on his way to his director chair, Hitch red faced, and huffing and puffing reminded me of an Archbishop on his way to conduct mass. Later, when I became part of the crew of The Streets of San Francisco (initially as a stand-in for Michael Douglas and then Richard Hatch) I was able to live out my childhood fantasies, by playing cops and robbers right up there on the screen. Not too many young men can say that.

For many years, I’d share these stories to a select few- family, friends, and co-workers, and dusted off my photograph album occasionally for those who might be interested. But, as time went by and gray hairs started sprouting on my head, I started thinking about leaving a legacy. With no children to relate my stories to,  I was afraid that there wouldn’t be anyone left to pass on the unique history that my family was a part of. It was at that moment in my life and in this mindset that I discovered the Turner Classic Movie site, and was introduced to blogging. Presented here was a new venue to tell my stories to interested individuals- and fascinated they were. Quite frankly I was surprised by the response and amazed at the audience which I quickly developed. I had to shake my head, and tell myself that I really had fans, and not just of local friends, but members that stretched around the globe! We’ve all heard the phrase, “be careful what you wish for,” that certainly applied here, for now I was expected by my audience to supply regular postings. To fill in-between the stories of my experiences-- for ones’ memory can be limited at times, I decided to see how my audience would accept my attempts at writing fiction. My first book, Anything Short of Murder, a hardboiled detective thriller set in the Hollywood (land) of the 1930s was the result, and became an instant hit amongst the TCM audience. It was their e-mails and messages that convinced me to publish the story from its serialized form into a complete novel. Now some three books later, and working on a fourth, all this has become history. In addition, as a writer I’ve branched off to form my own author’s site where at last count I share some sixty-one posts of my film and television experiences. This year I also published a memoir in e-book length, Bullitt Points, the story of my meeting Steve McQueen and a personal account on the making of Bullitt. This experience brought me full circle, for all the proceeds from the purchase of the book goes to McQueen’s charity, The Boys Republic, and that allowed me to once again enter the celebrity circle and meet Steve’s son, Chad McQueen.

Reflecting back over the last couple of years I find it amazing how much I’ve accomplished in my writing career. I don’t take credit for it. For what success I’ve had, had more to do with the blessed opportunities given me, and the blood, sweat, and long, tiring devotion that my dad had put into his work. I’m just a storyteller relating his own special tale. My only regret is that my dad isn't here to share in the joy that the telling and sharing of these stories has brought me.

Every writer has his or her story to tell. It’s a journey that doesn’t start with fingers on a keyboard, but with the first breath taken in life. Experiences to me as a writer are as bricks to a mason. I use them to build stories that I hope will leave a lasting impression on my reader’s minds.

For more celebrity posts by Tony Piazza go to:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock

I'm not sure where I saw this photo.. it's been in the past few weeks. For some reason I saved it to my desktop... so here it is to share... I love it.

Definitely a different Hitch than we're used to...

Famous Writers Favorite Foods

I love writing, reading and food. No surprise if you follow my blogs. So I was thrilled to come upon this site today.

Here's a link to Writer Food from A to Z on The Awl.  What a fun annotated post. Be sure and check out all the 'letters' starting with

A is for Apples (Charles Dickens)

and ending with

Z is for Zingers (Dorothy Parker)

Don't miss L is for Loaves (Emily Dickinson). She was a passionate baker. ..Here's a link to one of her original recipes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sally Fellows: R.I.P.

Sally Fellows, fan, reader, reviewer, and friend, passed away last night--peacefully in her sleep. She was a great supporter of everyone and everything in the mystery community. I'll miss chatting with her at Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime, as well as online in the various mystery groups.

Here's a photo of Sally from the Minnesota Crime Wave website.  I hope they don't mind my using it here. It's such a great picture of her.

R.I.P., Sally.

Brazen Art Thefts

We all know that many mysteries are 'stolen' from the headlines. I've posted stories of art thefts that find their ways into mysteries--location, type of art, method of stealing, local and international police investigations, museums, private collections and more. Mystery Readers Journal has had several issues devoted to Art Crime Fiction, too. Art Mysteries I. Art Mysteries II. posted 9 of the Most Brazen Art Thefts today. Some you'll know. Some you'll want to read more about... maybe for your next novel?

Mona Lisa Hidden Inside Coat

On August 21, 1911 guards opened the doors to the Louvre in France to find the iconic portrait gone. The museum was closed for a week and an international investigation began, turning up nothing. Even Picasso and Appolinaire were questioned. Two years later, a man calling himself “Leonardo” contacted an Italian art dealer, saying he had the Mona Lisa. A trap was set, and the thief was apprehended. It turned out his real name was Vincenzo Peruggia, who used to work at the Louvre. According to Peruggia, the theft was somewhat of an impulse – the room in which the painting was hung was temporarily empty because a guard had taken a smoke break; he grabbed the Mona Lisa, discarded its frame in a stairway, and walked out of the museum with it under his coat. Peruggia claimed his motive was not money: he wanted to see Da Vinci's masterpiece returned to Italy, where he felt it belonged. Even though he was sentenced to two years for his crime, he became a hero to Italia

Retired Briton Stole Goya in Protest over TV fees (photo)

In 1961, a pensioner named Kempton Bunton was upset with the British Government. Not only did they make retired people pay a license to watch television, but he felt they squandered money to buy a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Goya. (Wellington was considered a national hero, and a rich American had bought the painting, planning to take it to the US.) So he devised a scheme to make his point. He chatted up the Guards at the British National Museum and found out the sophisticated alarms they used to protect the art were often switched off in the morning during cleaning. Thinking quickly, he stepped into the loo and jimmied open the window. The next morning about 6am, the 252-pound man came in through the bathroom window, pulled down the Goya, and slipped back out with the precious painting. He sent several ransom notes, demanding a fund of 140,000 British Pounds be set up in a trust fund to pay elderly people's licenses. But the police thought it was a hoax. Finally, in 1965 he sent a letter to the Daily Mirror telling them the whereabouts of the painting and turned himself in to Scotland Yard. At the trial, Bunton used an obscure British law to defend himself, saying that they were required to acquit him of the theft if they believed he intended to eventually return it. He was, however, found guilty of stealing the frame, which was never recovered, and sentenced to three months in prison

Read about the other Art Thefts HERE.

Stolen Dali Put in Shopping Bag, Mailed Back to Gallery
Stephane Breitwieser Stole Hundreds of Artworks, Mother Destroyed Them
Thieves Use Car Bombs as Diversionary Tactic to Steal Artworks
Zurich Heist: 4 Masteroworks Stolen in 3 Minutes
Munch's The Scream Stolen Twice
Monet, Sisley & Brueghels Stolen at Gunpoint in Broad Daylight
Last Judgement Stolen in 1473 by Pirates

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ngaio Marsh Award 2012: Best Crime Novel

A BOOK that tells the gripping story behind a critically acclaimed television character’s fall from grace has scooped New Zealand’s crime writing award for 2012. Wellington-based novelist and screenwriter Neil Cross was announced as the winner of the prestigious Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, for his “unflinching, brutal, and brilliant” book Luther: The Calling, at the conclusion of the lively Great New Zealand Crime Debate event at the Christchurch Writers Festival on Saturday, 1 September.

“DCI John Luther, wonderfully played onscreen in the BBC series by Idris Elba, is one of the most compelling characters to hit television screens in recent memory, but Neil Cross adds even more layers and intrigue to the hulking, volatile policeman in Luther: The Calling,” said Judging Convenor Craig Sisterson. “While screen adaptations from popular books are relatively common, the reverse is rare – usually for good reason. Luther: The Calling, however, is a magnificent tale, tautly written yet lyrical, a prequel that hurls readers onto a dark and traumatic rollercoaster that reveals how Luther found himself standing on a precipice at the beginning of the TV show’s first season.”

It was a tough decision for the international judging panel, given the high quality of the finalists and the wider longlist, said Sisterson. “New Zealand authors have produced some truly world class crime, mystery, and thriller novels in the past year. Crime writing certainly seems to be experiencing something of a renaissance here, as readers, publishers, critics, and others begin to realise and appreciate the quality crime writers we have on these shores.”

 It was a case of third time’s the charm for Cross, the British-born writer who writes his novels, as well as a variety of projects for British and American film and television, from his suburban Wellington home. Previously a finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award in both 2010 and 2011, he finally got his hands on the distinctive Gina Ferguson-designed and sculpted trophy, which depicts Dame Ngaio’s visage on an open book, following Saturday night’s event.

The judging panel, consisting of crime fiction experts - authors, publishers, reviewers, and event organisers - from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and New Zealand, said Luther: The Calling was “outstanding” and “a stand-out novel”. One international judge didn’t think a prequel could possibly stand on its own, but “was very pleasantly surprised”, noting Cross’s “writing, plotting, and voice” was so strong that “he could write a fresh, new book” based on a well-known TV character. Luther: The Calling is “a superbly crafted, brilliant stand-alone novel”, said another judge. Cross creates “such real, credible characters, a complex plot, with brilliant dialogue,” noted another.

The Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, established in 2010, is named for Dame Ngaio Marsh, who is renowned worldwide as one of the four Queens of Crime of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Dame Ngaio published 32 novels featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn between 1934 and her death in 1982. With sales in the millions, and her books still in print to this day, Dame Ngaio is one of New Zealand’s most successful authors in history. Dame Ngaio’s closest living relative, John Dacres-Manning, gave his blessing for a New Zealand crime writing award to be named in her honour, saying that “I know Dame Ngaio would be so proud … to know that her name is associated with the award”.

In addition to the handcrafted trophy, Cross wins a full set of Dame Ngaio’s novels, courtesy of HarperCollins, and a check for $1,000 from the Christchurch Writers Festival Trust.