Friday, September 21, 2018

LIAM MCILVANNEY wins Scottish Crime Book of the Year

From the BBC:

Writer Liam McIlvanney has won the 2018 McIlvanney Prize for the crime book of the year at the Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling. 

His book, The Quaker, was described by judges as the standout winner of this year's competition. The prize was renamed two years ago in memory of Liam's father and author, William McIlvanney. Last year's winner was Denise Mina for her book, The Long Drop. 

Among the judges for this year's competition was comedian and television presenter Susan Calman. She said: "The Quaker is one of those novels that, as soon as I finished it, I looked forward to reading it again. "Not only did I love the evocative recreation of Glasgow, but the characters created were refreshing and surprising. It was such a pleasure to read." 

Previous recipients of the prize have included Chris Brookmyre with Black Widow in 2016, Craig Russell with The Ghosts of Altona in 2015 and Peter May with Entry Island in 2014.

2018 WILBUR SMITH ADVENTURE WRITING PRIZE

I enjoyed meeting Abir Mukherjee at Bouchercon and love his books, and here's a piece of exciting news! Congratulations, Abir.

From the Bookseller:

Abir Mukherjee has won the 2018 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize (£15,000) with his second novel, A Necessary Evil (Vintage). The historical crime tale, set in India in 1920, sees Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the assassination of a Maharajah's son.

Niso Smith, founder of The Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation, which makes the awards, described the book as "an exciting example of how adventure writing can transport you to a different time and place, teach you something new, and truly allow you to lose yourself in a story."

Mukherjee said of his win: “I’m thrilled to have been awarded the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. It’s an honour for me to have had my work selected from a shortlist of such wonderful and talented authors. The Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation do so much to support young writers and further the promotion of literacy around the world, and I hope to work closely with the Foundation to help further these goals and advance adventure writing as a genre.”

HT: Erin Mitchell

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore for Sale

Terry Gilman and Maryelizabeth Yturralde, longtime owners of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, Calif., have put the 25-year-old store up for sale.

In an e-mail to customers announcing their decision, they emphasized that "there is no threat of store closure. Indeed, we anticipate just the opposite: new growth, new business, and new opportunities within our industry."

Gilman, who is managing partner, and Yturralde, who is bookseller/publicity manager/event coordinator, said that they are ready to "pass the torch to a new owner, someone who can write the next chapter of Mysterious Galaxy's story." They noted that the "key ingredients that will contribute to the success of a new owner are all in place," including loyal customers, a knowledgeable and well-trained staff, and a "beautiful environment that appeals to customers of all ages." The pair also said they would stay on-hand to help the new owner or owners through the transition.

Both Gilman and Yturralde plan to focus on their other main venture, Creating Conversations, an events business and bookstore in Redondo Beach that brings books and authors to community and corporate venues. Gilman and Yturralde have been very involved in the industry and served various organizations, including the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association: Gilman is a past president; Yturralde is the current president.

The two are looking for "someone who is passionate about Mysterious Galaxy, who genuinely loves our community, and who understands what it takes to operate a retail business." Inquiries can be sent to Terry Gilman at terry@mystgalaxy.com.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: The Audit


My Kind of Case: Guest Post by Jeanne Winer

JEANNE WINER: 
My Kind of Case 

Lee Isaacs, Esq., the central character in my latest mystery, Her Kind of Case, isn’t unlike myself. She, like me, is a strong, feminist who’s a criminal defense attorney—a field heavily dominated by men—in Boulder, Colorado. In the book, she and I tackle the twin issues of homophobia and religious intolerance, as well as the inevitable onslaught of aging, while handling the heaviest of responsibilities—the lifetime fate of a troubled young man who’s confessed to a particularly nasty murder. During my own 35-year career as a criminal defense attorney, I represented thousands of clients, including those accused of kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, drug offenses, and murder. When I was much younger than Lee, I also represented a teenage boy accused of helping a group of skinheads kick a man to death. I didn’t end up trying the case like Lee, but I did my best for him and kept him out of adult prison, which was a great result. I think I saved his life.

My political activism from a young age led me to become a criminal defense attorney. When I was sixteen, I attended a ban the bomb rally in downtown Boston. After that, I became active in the anti-war movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the LGBTQ movement. I came out as a lesbian in my early twenties. I loved defending people, saving them in any way I could. I was honored to be one of the two lead trial attorneys in Romer v. Evans, a landmark civil rights case that paved the way for the Obergefell decision in 2015, which legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

When I started writing Her Kind of Case, I wanted to describe the feeling of taking on a high-profile murder case where the evidence seemed initially insurmountable, but then persevering until reaching the best possible result. I wanted to tell a story where the reader would see how much work, and how much strategic thinking, are required. Most books about lawyers don’t describe the emotional toll it takes to defend someone whose life is in your hands. And the books aren’t funny, even though criminal defense attorneys have an extremely well-developed, black sense of humor. Without it, they’d burn out in a few years.

I also wanted the book to be realistic and borrowed liberally from my own experiences. For instance, the scene in which Lee accidentally spills water all over her colleague’s legal research during a critical motions hearing actually happened to me. A criminal defense lawyer grows a thick skin after a thousand or so of these mortifying incidents.

Much like Lee, I’m also a martial artist with a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do; it was the great love of my life. I practiced nearly every day except for when I was injured, which was a regular occurrence because I loved to spar and didn’t care if my opponents were ten inches taller, sixty pounds heavier, or twenty years younger. Nowadays, my body is inclined to the gentler art of Tai Chi, but when I was practicing karate and still lawyering I felt the two were complementary—each taught me how to be better at the other. The speed, skill, experience, courage, and creativity that Lee possesses as a martial artist are, in my opinion, what also make her an exceptional attorney.

By design, Her Kind of Case depicts a woman’s experience in the criminal defense profession. Women are just as savvy as men when it comes to lawyering, and we might have a leg up when it comes to connecting with our clients and getting them to trust us. In every criminal case I took, I always tried to find something about my client that I could relate to, something we might have in common. The goal was always to get my client to trust me enough to take my advice, even if it meant agreeing to go to prison for a very long time.

Throughout Her Kind of Case, Lee is also concerned about turning 60. Toward the end of my career, I often felt like her. I had a lot of pride in my work and couldn’t stand the idea of not being as good as I was at my peak. I often wondered about the optimal time to quit. Luckily, as soon as I noticed that the party was winding down, I didn’t linger; I grabbed my coat, thanked my hosts, and left.

No good criminal defense attorney can do it by herself, though. I had a number of wonderful colleagues who kept me going: mentors who taught me, lawyers who inspired me, coworkers and investigators who helped me cope with an active caseload of more than a hundred felonies. For the last twenty years of private practice, I had a fabulous law partner, Curtis Ramsay, who shared my worldview and had a great dark sense of humor, which made practicing law less lonely. I also had, at different times, two longtime investigators, Eli Klein and Patti Mazal, who worked with me on my most serious cases.

As for my writing process, plotting a novel involves prolonged walks on the mesa outside my casita in Taos, New Mexico, and along the hiking trails of my longtime residence in Boulder, Colorado, where I tell myself a new story every day and think it’s the one I want to write. I usually end up scrapping it the next day, and then continue to walk for weeks until one morning I wake up and think, “Yes! That’s the story!” Once I start writing, of course, the story changes, but I have to think I have the whole story before I start because otherwise I’m too scared. When the writing gods are looking favorably upon me, I write five days a week for about five or six hours, editing constantly instead of just writing a first draft. It’s a long tedious process, but I’m unwilling to consider a different way. And I think it pays off in the end.
***
Jeanne Winer was a Colorado-based criminal defense attorney who quit lawyering for writing after 35 years. Her first novel, The Furthest City Light, won the Golden Crown Literary award for best debut fiction, and Her Kind of Case, her second novel, has earned starred reviews from Kirkus, Library Journal, and Booklist. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

This is definitely Barclay!



Mystery Readers Make Tough Jurors--for prosecutors: Guest Post by Tom Siegel

Tom Siegel:
Mystery Readers Make Tough Jurors--for prosecutors

Before writing my debut novel, The Astronaut’s Son (Woodhall Press), I was a litigator for twenty years, spending eight of them as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York. No surprise, then, that my book involves a son, Jonathan Stein, conducting what amounts to a cold-case investigation of his father’s mysterious death. He chases leads, reviews documents and interviews (and cross-examines) witnesses—all in pursuit of truth and justice. Exactly what I did when investigating mafia murders. If I’ve gotten the book right, you’ll be kept guessing until the very end. This, of course, is the last thing I wanted as a prosecutor. I wanted my opening statement to leave jurors convinced that there was only one possible outcome, that the evidence would only reinforce what I had promised and that their deliberations would be easy. No prosecutor ever wants suspense or surprise. She wants anti-climax from day one.

Whenever called upon to conduct voir dire, the process of jury selection, I kept careful watch for both the lovers of TV crime dramas, like CSI or Law & Order, and for you, dear readers, the consumers of Marple, Holmes, Warshawski, Poirot and so many other fictional sleuths. Those addicted to the pretzel twists and hairpin turns of knotty plots present a unique challenge to the side with the burden of proof. It’s not because you might sharply scrutinize the quality of evidence, studying documents and listening acutely to witnesses. And it’s not because you would hold the government to its burden of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” It’s because most trials, from your point of view, would be an impossible let-down. It’s because you’ve been conditioned by years spent rifling through riveting pages during sleepless nights, rainy Sundays and cross-country flights to expect titillation and obfuscation, to expect the shock of a drawing-room denouement or the gasps of a courtroom confession. Until that moment of high drama, the story must be equivocal, the truth occult. It could be Colonel Mustard, or Professor Plum, or some anonymous scullery maid or vagabond farm hand. The case can’t possibly be solved on page one, or even page two hundred. All must rest in doubt until the final chapter. That word—doubt—still sends shivers down my lawyerly spine. You can begin to understand why I was afraid of you. I feared that you would, albeit unconsciously, impose the template of your passion on what looks like a familiar enough literary setting, the courtroom. I could imagine your reactions to the typical criminal trial. “There’s got to be more to it.” “It can’t be that easy.” “There has to be some puzzle to solve.”

Whenever I had one (or more) of your ilk in the jury box, I went to great lengths to distinguish the fictive universe from the mean streets of New York City. “There’s no mystery here,” was a line oft-repeated in my closing arguments. “Follow the judge’s legal instructions, of course, but remember that trials you’ve seen on TV or read about in books have to hold audiences in suspense to please advertisers and publishers (and readers).” It was all part of my theme of inevitability—everything seen and heard leads to only one conclusion. No doubt. Defense lawyers, on the other hand, love the mystery, embracing (and sometimes creating) contradiction, fog and speculation. They love it so much, in fact, that they don’t ever want it to be resolved. Who done it? Who knows? My plea, on the other hand, was to resist all flights of fancy. I stumped for boring, feet-on-the-ground rationality. You might love drama—who doesn’t—but don’t look for it in deliberations. Just the facts, as Joe Friday would say. Just like I promised.

I hope, however, that as a novelist, I’ve been a very, very bad prosecutor.

***
Tom Seigel has served as both Deputy Chief and Chief of the Justice Department’s Brooklyn Organized Crime Strike Force, prosecuting members and associates of La Cosa Nostra. After twenty years as a litigator, Tom earned an MFA in fiction writing. THE ASTRONAUT’S SON is his debut novel.

Cartoon of the Day: The Judge


Monday, September 17, 2018

Mystery Readers Journal Call for Articles: Murder in the Far East


CALL FOR ARTICLES: Murder in the Far East

The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 34:3) will focus on mysteries that take place in the Far East.

We're looking for Reviews, Articles, and Author! Author! essays.

Reviews: 50-250 words
Articles: 250-1000 words
Author! Author! essays: 500-1500 words. Author essays are first person, about yourself, your books, and the 'Far East' connection. Think of it as chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe about your work and your Asian/Far East connection. Add title and 2-3 sentence bio/tagline.

Deadline: October 10.
Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor. janet @ mysteryreaders . org

Please forward this request to anyone you think should be included.

SUBSCRIBE TO MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL
2018: Gardening Mysteries; Murder in the Far East; Spies & Special Agents; Crime Fiction in the American South )
Many Back Issues of Mystery Readers Journal are available as single copies in Hardcopy or PDF. 

Call for Articles for 2018 (Volume 34):
Murder in the Far East; Crime Fiction in the American South;
2019: Murder Down Under.

Have titles, articles or suggestions for these upcoming issues? Want to write an Author! Author! essay? email Janet Rudolph  ( janet @ mysteryreaders . org )


 

FORENSIC ART WITH ROBIN BURCELL: September 22

Forensic Art: Join Mystery Writers of America, NorCal chapter, for a lunch event on Saturday, September 22, in Sacramento with Robin Burcell.

NYT bestselling author Robin Burcell spent nearly thirty years in law enforcement before retiring to write fiction full time. She is an FBI Academy-trained forensic artist whose drawings have been used to solve a number of crimes, including homicides, bank robberies and hate crimes. Her skills have helped multiple Central Valley law enforcement entities, including the FBI. She has worked with live witnesses, and with the dead, sometimes having to set up shop in a morgue to draw the corpses for identification purposes after they have been found in a state beyond recognition (hence the term forensic artist). Robin will speak about what it takes to do this unique and specialized job and talk about some of the real cases in which forensic art has played a role.
Pay at the door—$25 non-members, $15 NorCal members.

Location: Echo & Rig Steak & Butcher Shop, Sacramento

REGISTER HERE.

LISA BRACKMANN & DAVID CORBETT LITERARY SALON 9/26

Join Mystery Readers NorCal in Berkeley for an evening with award winning mystery authors Lisa Brackmann & David Corbett

When: Wednesday, September 26, 7 p.m.
Where: RSVP for venue address (Berkeley, CA)
This is a free evening, but YOU MUST RSVP to attend. Address sent with acceptance.
RSVP: janet @ mysteryreaders.org

LISA BRACKMANN
Lisa Brackmann has worked as an executive at a major motion picture studio, an issues researcher in a presidential campaign, and was the singer/songwriter/bassist in an LA rock band. Her debut novel, Rock Paper Tiger, set on the fringes of the Chinese art world, made several "Best of 2010" lists, including Amazon's Top 100 Novels and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers, and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best First Novel. Her second novel, Getaway, won the Los Angeles Book Festival Grand Prize and was nominated for the T. Jefferson Parker SCIBA award. Hour of the Rat, #2 in the Ellie McEnroe series, was short-listed for Left Coast's World Mystery award, as was Ellie #3, Dragon Day (and was a Seattle Times Top 10 Mystery Pic). Lisa lives in San Diego with a couple of cats, far too many books, and a bass ukulele.  

Black Swan Rising
Sarah Price who wants a career in politics. But she has a secret past that won’t stay past, threatening her job on a San Diego congressman’s reelection campaign. Casey Cheng wants a story. An ambitious local television reporter, Casey needs to get her career back on track after being seriously injured in a mass shooting. When she investigates the man who nearly killed her, she finds a connection to a group of online harassers called #TrueMen–and realizes her shooter may not be the only killer they have inspired. Casey’s investigation and Sarah’s secret put them both in the crosshairs of a hate group that targets anyone they’ve deemed to be against their cause, including Sarah’s boss, the congressman. Now Sarah and Casey have a choice to make–do they hide? Or do they fight back?

DAVID CORBETT
David Corbett worked for the San Francisco private investigation firm of Palladino & Sutherland, and played a significant part in a number of high-profile criminal and civil litigations, Ballantine purchased David's first novel, The Devil's Redhead. Widely praised, it was nominated for both the Anthony and Barry Awards for Best First Novel of 2002. His follow-up, Done for a Dime, was named a New York Times Notable Book, and was nominated for the Macavity Award for Best Novel of 2003. He followed up with 2007's Blood of Paradise and was selected one of the Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers of 2007 by The Washington Post. His fourth novel, Do They Know I'm Running?, arrived in bookstores on March 1, 2010. He's also penned numerous articles and stories—one of which, "It Can Happen," from San Francisco Noir, was nominated for the Macavity Award for Best Short Story of 2005, and another, "Pretty Little Parasite" from Phoenix Noir, was included in Best American Mystery Stories 2009. He also contributed chapters to The Chopin Manuscript and The Copper Bracelet, serial audio thrillers that now have been combined in a single hard cover version titled Watchlist. He continues to reside in Northern California.

The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday 
The most notorious love letters in American history—supposedly destroyed a century ago—mysteriously reappear, and become the coveted prize in a fierce battle for possession that brings back to life the lawless world evoked in the letters themselves. Lisa Balamaro is an ambitious arts lawyer with a secret crush on her most intriguing client: former rodeo rider and reformed art forger, Tuck Mercer. In his newfound role as expert in Old West artifacts, Tuck gains possession of the supposedly destroyed correspondence between Doc Holliday and his cousin and childhood sweetheart, Mattie—who would become Sister Mary Melanie of the Sisters of Mercy.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

Over the years, I've read just about every novel and story, play, and reference book on the Grande Dame of Crime Fiction. I've taught classes on Agatha Christie at UCB, Santa Cruz, St. Mary's College, as well as focused on Agatha Christie in my mystery book group. 

Agatha Christie visited the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden and was particularly taken by the Peruvian Lily. Poisonous? Yes. In honor of that long-ago visit, I organized a poison tour of the UC Botanical Garden with a very knowledgeable guide for my book group.

For Agatha Christie's Centennial, I attended the CWA (Crime Writers UK) conference in Torquay which included an Agatha Christie Centennial Celebration Banquet. Everyone was there, and by that, I mean all my favorite British crime writers and several of the actors who portrayed Christie's characters over the years. David Suchet sat at the next table. I saw Joan Hickson in the Ladies Room. During that same trip, I went with CWA to visit Greenway. This was long before it opened to the public. The family was in residence at the time, and either they forgot that a group of mystery writers was stopping by or they didn’t care, as the house was in a bit of disarray after what must have been Sunday lunch. It was a very lovely (and intimate) tour of the house.

When I returned to the States that year, I was on the organizing committee of the U.S. Agatha Christie Centennial. There were reading challenges, library talks, courses, and lectures, and I even wrote an 'Agatha-Christie inspired' interactive mystery event. It was great fun!

And here's a real treat: A Video of a 1955 interview with Agatha Christie from the BBC Archives in which Agatha Christie talks about her lack of formal education and how boredom during childhood led her to write The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She outlines her working methods, Miss Marple, Herculte Poirot, and discusses why it is much easier to write plays than novels. 

Raise a glass today to the Queen of Crime!
 

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

Happy Caturday!

MYSTERY BYTES: News and Views around the Internet

I often post individual news items when I see them, but thought I might do a round-up every now and again. Here are several news items and articles that peeked my fancy.

11 MYSTERY NOVELS THAT DON'T START WITH A DEAD GIRL by Charlotte Ahlin in Bustle. 
Readers love dead girls. I mean you, specifically, dear reader, may have no particular preference about the gender or age of any said human remains. But when it comes to murder mysteries and heroic motivations, people love a good dead girl.

CAMPUS NOVELS AND SCHOOL MYSTERIES by Lisa Levy on CrimeReads:
10 Campus Crime Novels, Mysteries, and Thrillers

AGATHA CHRISTIE SHAPED HOW THE WORLD SEES BRITAIN by Chritine Ro in BBC Culture.
The mystery writer is the world’s best-selling novelist and most translated author – so what are non-Brits learning about English people and culture through her stories?

REVENGE NOVELS: BEST READ COLD by Jo Jakeman on CrimeReads
10 Crime Novels Featuring Satisfying Comeuppance, Bloody Vengeance, and Ice-Cold Revenge

DASHIELL HAMMETT'S STRANGE CAREER by Anne Diebel in The Paris Review.
In a 1929 interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dashiell Hammett described his first attempts at “breadwinning.”

WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER RECCOMENDS 10 COMPELLING MYSTERY SERIES on Off the Shelf. 
Whenever I recommend a favorite mystery series to another reader, I always advise starting at the beginning. While all good authors improve over time, that initial offering can be so pivotal to a full understanding and appreciation of the development of character and sense of place in later works.

THE NIGHT GERTRUDE STINE MET DASHIELL HAMMETT by Nathan Ward on CrimeReads
Gertrude Stein's Unlikely Obsession with Detective Fiction

6 CRIMINALLY UNDER-APPRECIATED CRIME COMEDIES by Howard Michael Gould on CrimeReads.
A Hollywood Insider Rounds up 6 Films Ready for a Re-Watch
*** 

And, in case you missed this news item:

Novelist who wrote about ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ charged with murdering her husband.
Nancy Crampton Brophy seemed to have a knack for writing about the murder of spouses. The Portland, Ore.-based romance novelist wrote books about relationships that were “wrong” but “never felt so right,” often featuring bare-chested men on the cover. In “The Wrong Cop,” she wrote about a woman who “spent every day of her marriage fantasizing about killing” her husband.

Friday, September 14, 2018

SHAMUS AWARD WINNERS 2018

Meant to post this last week, but in the Whirl that was Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, I forgot to click on my post. Congrats to all!

Shamus Award Winners: Private Eye Writers of America
For works published in 2017.
Winners were announced at the PWA Banquet at Bouchercon.

Best Private Eye Novel 
The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker

Also Nominated:
Dark Water by Parker Bilal
Blood Truth by Matt Coyle
Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
Monument Road by Michael Wiley

Best First Private Eye Novel 
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

Also Nominated:
Under Water by Casey Barrett
A Negro and an Ofay by Danny Gardner
Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman
August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones

Best Original Private Eye Paperback
Lights Out Summer by Rich Zahradnik

Also nominated:

Play a Cold Hand by Terence Faherty
The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan
Dames Fight Harder by M. Ruth Myers
The Painted Gun by Bradley Spinelli

Best P.I. Short Story
“Rosalie Marx is Missing,” by Robert S. Levinson, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, May/June

Also Nominated:
Eric Beetner, “Out of Business,” in Down & Out, The Magazine Vol 1/ Issue 1, edited by Rick Ollerman
Reed Farrel Coleman, “Breakage,” in Down & Out, The Magazine Vol 1/ Issue 1, edited by Rick Ollerman
Brendan Dubois, “Random,” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb
Paul D. Marks, “Windward,” in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks


Cartoon of the Day: Cats



Thursday, September 13, 2018

MYSTERY WRITING INTENSIVE: Sisters in Crime Workshop

Join Sisters in Crime NorCal for a MYSTERY WRITING INTENSIVE
October 6: 9-5   Daly City, CA


Members of SistersinCrime NorCal and MWANorCAl: $75; Non-Members: $95

Learn More Here

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Book Club


WHY WE LOVE TO READ (AND WRITE) MYSTERIES: Guest Post by P.J. Tracy

P.J. Tracy (Traci Lambrecht):
WHY WE LOVE TO READ (AND WRITE) MYSTERIES

Crime fiction is firmly entrenched in our culture and in our hearts. We can’t get enough of the nail-biting and heart palpitations, the challenge of the hunt for a killer, the thrill of late nights trying to work out the solution before the cops do. Pleasure doesn’t demand analysis, but being inquisitive often results in needless deliberation, so I couldn’t help but ask myself why. What is it about a good mystery we love so much?

At first, the answer seemed obvious: who doesn’t want to decipher a puzzle? Whether you’re reading a mystery novel, doing the Sunday crossword puzzle, or trying to figure out why your dog or cat is eating grass, you are responding to a biological imperative to solve problems. It’s a genetically hard-wired skill that has kept our species successful and thriving for a couple hundred thousand years. The Pleistocene forests and plains were filled with intrepid investigators who deduced that spears and knives would come in handy for hunting, and they solved the mystery of Uncle Urg’s sudden death after eating a pretty mushroom he’d foraged.

But thinking further on the question, I looked at the genre more closely as it relates to human nature and realized there is another important component responsible for the enduring popularity of mysteries: secrets. Large or small, everybody has them, and our inherent voyeurism yearns to read about somebody else’s. As a writer, I think it’s intuitive to incorporate them into your work.

This explained to me why secrets have always been a set piece in the Monkeewrench series, not just within the plot, but within the characters themselves. The eponymous crew of computer geniuses have very dark pasts, an abundance of secrets, and with each book, another one or two is revealed, providing a depth of opportunity to explore not just a plot, but the human psyche and its evolution.

This is a big part of how the Monkeewrench gang became who they are – at the point of their conception, the only prerequisite was developing a set of characters you’d want to meet at a cocktail party. And who do you want to meet at a party? The people who pique your curiosity because you can’t quite figure them out; people who are a mystery you want to solve because you can’t help it.

The Guilty Dead, the ninth and latest installment in the series, is absolutely laden with secrets. When I began writing the novel, the foundation was a powerful family dynasty plagued with recent tragedy – the suicide of the patriarch on the one-year anniversary of his son’s overdose. Pretty straightforward, until you learn the father didn’t commit suicide after all, he’d been murdered. Why? Because of secrets, of course. Deep, dark, shocking family ones you’ll have to delve into their pasts to discover. And they’re much more compelling than unfortunate Uncle Urg’s food poisoning.

Did all my silly mental gymnastics result in any significant conclusion? Not really, but I am now more certain than ever that mysteries won’t be going out of style any time soon.

***

This article was written by Traci Lambrecht. PJ Tracy was the pseudonym of mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, winners of the Anthony, Barry, Gumshoe, and Minnesota Book Awards. Their eight novels, MONKEEWRENCH, LIVE BAIT, DEAD RUN, SNOW BLIND, SHOOT TO THRILL, OFF THE GRID,  THE SIXTH IDEA, and NOTHING STAYS BURIED have become national and international bestsellers. THE GUILTY DEAD, the ninth installment of the Monkeewrench series, has just released in the US and the UK.

Traci Lambrecht spent most of her childhood riding and showing horses. She graduated with a Russian Studies major from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she also studied voice. Her aspirations of becoming a spy were dashed when the Cold War ended, so she began writing to finance her annoying habits of travel and singing in rock bands. Much to her mother’s relief, she finally realized that the written word was her true calling. Together, they had a long, prolific career writing together in many genres until PJ’s passing in December 2016.   Traci continues to write like a maniac, with PJ’s spirit sitting on her shoulder, cracking wise.
 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BBC adapting Nicholas Blake's The Beast Must Die

Adapted from Deadline:

The BBC is adapting the Nigel Strangeways novel The Beast Must Die written by Nicholas Blake, the nom de plume of poet Cecil Day-Lewis, that was first published in 1938.

The BBC adaptation is being written by Gaby Chiappe, who wrote the  Gemma Arterton feature film Their Finest and has written on a number of British crime dramas including ITV’s The Level and Vera as well as BBC’s Shetland. It is being set up as a series, likely to be five or six episodes, and is set to be exec produced by Nathaniel Parker, the actor known the lead role in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

The series could turn into a long-running franchise for the BBC as Blake/Day Lewis wrote 16 books featuring the detective.

The Beast Must Die has been adapted for the big screen a number of times over the years including in 1969 as an Italian thriller directed by Claude Chabrol and in 1952 as an Argentine thriller directed by Roman Vinoly Barreto.

HT: BV Lawson's In Reference to Murder & J. Kingston Pierce's The RapSheet

Crime Fiction during the Days of Awe: Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, began Sunday night. The Days of Awe are the days between the beginning of the New Year and Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. That a murder would take place on Yom Kippur (or during the Days of Awe) runs counter to Jewish belief. Let's hope murders only take place in fiction!

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

Mysteries set during the Days of Awe

Three Weeks in October by Yael Dayan
The Day of Atonement by Breck England
Days of Atonement by Michael Gregorio
The Yom Kippur Murder by Lee Harris
A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn
Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
The Day of Atonement by David Liss
A Possibility of Violence by D.A. Mishani
Nights of Awe by Harri Nykanen
Devil Among Us by Jack Winnick

Short Stories:  

Murder is no Mitzvah: Short Mysteries about Jewish Occasions
Mystery Midrash: An Anthology of Jewish Mystery & Detective Fiction, edited by Lawrence W. Raphael
Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishia
"The Lord is my Shamus" by Barb Goffman

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

Saturday, September 8, 2018

ANTHONY AWARD WINNERS 2018

ANTHONY AWARD WINNERS

The Anthony Awards are given at each annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention with the winners selected by attendees. Bouchercon is the World Mystery Convention. This year Bouchercon is taking place in St Petersburg, Florida, September 9-12, 2018. Winners were announced this evening. Congratulations to all!

ANTHONY AWARD WINNERS

BEST NOVEL 
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

BEST FIRST NOVEL 
Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day

BILL CRIDER AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL IN A SERIES 
Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton

BEST SHORT STORY 
My Side of the Matter by Hilary Davidson from Killing Malmon

BEST ANTHOLOGY
The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, Gary Phillips, editor

BEST CRITICAL/NON-FICTION BOOK
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

BEST ONLINE CONTENT 
Jungle Red Writers

***

About the Anthony Awards: The Anthony Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), well-known writer and critic from the New York Times, who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. Anthony Award Categories. Everyone who attends Bouchercon 2018 is eligible to vote on the Anthony Awards. Voting takes place at the convention. Yet another good reason to register now! The nominees in each of the eight categories are:

About Bouchercon: Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, is an annual convention where readers, writers, fans, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and other lovers of crime fiction gather for a 4-day weekend of education, entertainment, and fun! It is the world’s premiere event bringing together all parts of the mystery and crime fiction community, and is pronounced [bough’·chur·con].
   

Friday, September 7, 2018

BARRY AWARD WINNERS 2018

2018 BARRY AWARD WINNERSDeadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine announced the Barry Award Winners tonight at the Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies. Congratulations to all!

Best Novel 

THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, Karen Dionne (Putnam)

Best First Novel 

THE DRY, Jane Harper (Flatiron)

Best Paperback Original 

THE DEEP DARK DESCENDING, Allen Eskens (Seventh Street)

Best Thriller 

UNSUB, Meg Gardiner (Dutton)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

MACAVITY AWARD WINNERS 2018


The Macavity Award Winners 2018

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journaland friends of MRI. The winners were announced at opening ceremonies tonight at Bouchercon in St Petersburg, FL. Congratulations to all.

Best Mystery Novel
Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz (Harper)

Best First Mystery Novel
The Lost Ones, by Sheena Kamal (Wm. Morrow)

Best Mystery-Related Nonfiction
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, by Martin Edwards (Poisoned Pen/British Library)

Best Mystery Short Story
“Windward,” by Paul D. Marks, in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea (Down & Out Books)

Sue Feder Memorial Award: Best Historical Mystery
In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union Publishing)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

McIlvanney Prize Shortlist: Scottish Crime Book of the Year


2018 McIlvanney Prize Shortlist: Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The winner will be announced on September 21 at the opening gala at the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling at Bloody Scotland.

Forty-one years ago, William McIlvanney rocked the British literary world with Laidlaw, a gritty and socially conscious crime novel that brought Glasgow to life more vividly than anything before. This year’s longlistees for the McIlvanney Prize demonstrate how modern Scottish crime writing has flourished from those seeds. From debutants to authors with more than 20 books, spy thrillers to long-running detective series, nineteenth-century mysteries to futuristic space station noir, there’s an amazing range of talent on show. – Craig Sisterson, chair of the 2018 judges  

2018 McIlvanney Prize Shortlist

Lin Anderson, Follow the Dead (Macmillan)
Chris Brookmyre, Places in the Darkness (Little, Brown)
Charles Cumming, The Man Between (Harper Collins)
Liam McIlvanney, The Quaker (Harper Collins)

Monday, September 3, 2018

LABOR DAY & LABOR UNIONS IN CRIME FICTION

Another holiday, another list! Labor Day!

I'm only aware of a few mysteries set during the Labor Day Holiday: Lee Harris's Labor Day Murder, Sharyn McCrumb's Highland Laddie Gone,  Sandra Balzo's Running on Empty, and Mary Jane Maffini's The Devil's in the Details (Labour Day Weekend-Canada). There's also the short story "Labor Day" by R.T. Lawton in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Labor Unions, on the other hand, are rife with settings and situations for crime fiction. This is an UPDATED Crime Fiction list involving Labor Unions. Please let me know any books that are missing from this list.

LABOR UNION CRIME FICTION

The Knife Behind You by James Benet (Department Store Union Organizer)
For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen (Garment Workers Union)
White Hot by Sandra Brown (Labor Dispute)
Big Boned by Meg Cabot (Graduate Student Union)
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain (Insurance)
All Men Fear Me by Donis Casey (IWW)
Cactus Blood by Lucha Corpi (Farm Workers' Union)
Airframe by Michael Crichton (Union Trouble)
Red Herring by Jonothan Cullinane (Waterfront Strike)- coming out this Fall
The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (Union Group called the Scowrers)
Third Strike by Philip Craig and William Tapply (Steamship Authority Strike)
October Heat by Gordon DeMarco (1934 San Francisco General Strike-Longshoremen)
Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Scowrers)
The Bramble Bush (aka Worse than Murder) by David Duncan (San Francisco General Strike)
American Tabloid by James Ellroy (Teamsters)
LA Quartet by James Ellroy (Movie Unions)
A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett (Coal Mines)
The Peripheral Son by Dorien Gray
Dead Reckoning by Patricia Hall (Union Strike)
The Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett (IWW organizer & Copper Workers; Strike Breaking)
A More Perfect Union by J.A. Jance (Iron Workers' Union)
As Dead As it Gets by Cady Kalian (Creative Artists' Union)
The Longer the Thread by Emma Lathen (Garment Workers)

Death at the Old Hotel by Con Lehane (Hotel Workers' Union)
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (Police Union)
Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon (Unsafe environmental pollution in Venetian glass factories effecting workers)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Long Shoremen's Union)
Deadly Dues by Lulu Malone (Actors' Union)
Stiff by Shane Maloney (Meat Packing)
Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti  (Union rep in Cathode-ray Tube industry)
Champawat by Lia Matera A Novella in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Labor Unions & the Clash between Anarchists & Democrats)
Organize or Die by Laura McClure (Union organizing)
Conferences are Murder by Val McDermid (Journalists' Union)
Death at Pullman by Frances McNamara (American Railway Union)
The Viewless Winds by Murray Morgan (Murder of a Labor Leader's wife)
A Red Death by Walter Mosley (Aircraft Manufacturer and Labor Union organizer)
Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely (Domestic Workers)
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky
Mr Campion's Fault by Mike Ripley (Mineworkers)
Death and Blintzes by Dorothy and Sidney Rosen (Garment Workers Union)
A Bitter Feast by S. J. Rozan (Restaurant Workers' Union)
Some Cuts Never Heal by Timothy Sheard (Shop Steward)
Judas Incorporated by "Kurt Steel" (Rudolf Kagey) (Pro-Union)
The Big Both Ways by John Straley (Lumber)
The Labor Union Murder aka Fourth of July Picnic by Rex Stout (novella)
Absolute Rage by Robert K. Tanenbaum (Coal Miners' Union)
Fallout by Paul Thomas
The Porkchoppers, Yellow Dog Contract by Ross Thomas (Politics & Unions)
Killy by Donald Westlake (Manufacturing Union)

Have a great Labor Day Holiday!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

VOLUNTEER AT THE LEFT COAST CRIME TABLE during BOUCHERCON

Going to Bouchercon next week? LEFT COAST CRIME STILL NEEDS VOLUNTEERS FOR THE LCC TABLE AT BOUCHERCON IN ST. PETERSBURG, starting Thursday, September 6. 

If you plan on attending Bouchercon, consider working the LCC table. The LCC Table is a great place to meet authors and fans, as well as make new friends. Are you a writer? Volunteer and let your fans know to stop by and meet you and sign books! If you love Left Coast Crime as much as I do, you're the right person to spread the word. I'm coordinating table assignments. A two-hour shift is ideal, but let me know whatever you can do. One hour works, too! janet@mysteryreaders.org

Be sure and send me your email or cellphone (text) with your preferred times. Not sure? Let me know when you get to Bcon, if you're available..Ideally it would be great to sign-up in advance. janet@mysteryreaders.org

I'm not sure where the table will be yet, but you'll find us. If not, ask our friends at the CrimeFest table. Come prepared to chat with wonderful people. Tell them how special Left Coast Crime is! 2019 in Vancouver, Canada, and 2020 in San Diego! Beautiful places, great people, terrific convention!

Here's the tentative schedule!

Thursday, September 6: 
9-11: Catherine Lea
11-1
1-3: Wendall Thomas
3-5: John Mullen

Friday, September 7:
9-11 Don & Jenn Longmuir
11-1
1-3  Catriona McPherson
3-5: Laura Benedict; Cathy Ace

Saturday, September 8: 
9-11: Lesa Holstine
11-1 Terry Shames
1-3
3-5

Sunday, September 9: 9-11  (MAYBE)

 ***
Left Coast Crime: 

Are you signed up for LCC 2019? Vancouver, Canada. March 28-31, 2019 http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2019/

Left Coast Crime: 2020: San Diego, CA. March 12-15, 2020
http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2020/

NGAIO MARSH AWARD WINNERS 2018

The 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards were presented last night in Christchurch, New Zealand. The Ngaio Marsh Award represents the very best in Kiwi Crime.

Best Crime Novel
Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

Best First Novel
All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)

From the Organizer:

Backcountry mystery outshone big city crime at WORD Christchurch Festival on Saturday evening as Alan Carter and Jennifer Lane were named the winners of the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards. Both authors' winning books involve deadly deeds set against small towns and rural landscapes. Carter scooped the Best Novel prize for MARLBOROUGH MAN (Fremantle Press), a thrilling tale centred on an ex-undercover agent from England trying to resettle into a quieter life far distanced from his dangerous past; now a country cop patrolling the seemingly idyllic valleys and waterways of the Top of the South. 

“A terrific, full-throated crime thriller that puts the freshest of spins on the cop-with-a-past trope,” said the judges. “Carter is a first-class wordsmith with a particular talent for authentic dialogue. The novel’s setting wholly embraces the people and action, and the overall effect is powerful and persuasive.” 

Lane is an experienced short story writer, published by magazines and journals on both sides of the Tasman, who won a New Zealand Book Month prize in 2007. Her debut novel ALL OUR SECRETS (Rosa Mira Books) grew out of one of her short stories, evolving over more than a decade of work. Gracie is a bullied adolescent from a troubled family in the fictional Australian town of Coongahoola. When the town’s famed ‘River Children’ start vanishing, Gracie knows what no-one else does: who is responsible. 

“A very assured debut sitting somewhere between something aimed at older teen readers and something very readable for adults, ALL OUR SECRETS is strongly voiced, has a great sense of place, wonderfully drawn characters, and an excellent plot,” said the judging panel. “It's an absolute gem.” 

The Anzac spirit is alive and well with this year’s winners, noted Ngaios founder Craig Sisterson, as both Carter and Lane spent significant chunks of their lives in Australia before choosing to make New Zealand their home. Carter, originally from the north of England, won a Ned Kelly Award for his debut crime novel in 2011, before crossing the Tasman to live on a farm in a valley in Marlborough in recent years. 

 “It has been another remarkable year for New Zealand crime and mystery writing,” said Sisterson. “We had a record number of entries, a big influx of exciting new voices, and the welcome return of some of our great crime storytellers from the 1990s and early 2000s, including Stella Duffy and Edmund Bohan.” 

Carter won a Ngaios trophy, special edition of a Dame Ngaio book, and a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of WORD Christchurch. Lane won a trophy, book, and a cash prize from the Ngaio Marsh Awards. 

“Decades ago a remarkable woman from Christchurch was renowned globally as one of the biggest names in the books world,” said Sisterson. “So it’s only fitting that awards in Dame Ngaio’s name are now showcasing just how world-class many of our modern-day Kiwi writers are too.” 

For more information about the Ngaio Marsh Awards, contact the Judging Convenor: craigsisterson@hotmail.com or ngaiomarshaward@gmail.com

***
Craig Sisterson, organizer of the Ngaio Marsh Award, is a lapsed Lawyer, and major Crime Fiction Fan and Writer who writes for magazines and newspapers in several countries. He also blogs at Crime Watch.




Galician Wineries, Agatha Christie, and Toxic Families: Guest post by Dolores Redondo

Dolores Redondo:
Galician Wineries, Agatha Christie, and Toxic Families: 
The Influences on All This I Will Give to You

The story I tell in All This I Will Give to You had been lingering in my mind for ages, long before I wrote The Invisible Guardian, the first book in the Baztán Trilogy. This might happen to every writer out there: you constantly live between two passions, the book you’re currently writing, and the next one, the one that knocks tirelessly until you open the door and welcome it in. Often you haven’t even finished the previous novel, but still feel anxious to get to the next one. I guess that might have to do with one’s own writing method: for those writers who have the whole story in their minds, the act of writing is secondary. It doesn’t take as much energy as creating it in your mind does. So as soon as I finished the trilogy, I went to Ribeira Sacra to immerse myself in the landscape of what would become All This I Will Give to You.

Landscape is very important to me and always plays a huge part in my novels. I chose Ribeira Sacra because I fell in love with the place. My sister had been living there, and when I first visited her, I started to envision a book set there, with its dramatic countryside and tumultuous weather. In my novels, somehow landscape becomes a character unto itself, adding an extra layer to the whole story by enhancing how the characters respond to their surroundings.

Ribeira Sacra is special for many reasons. It’s a very historical place, full of Romanic art. It’s also very spiritual, which you can sense as soon as you arrive. There are also many castles, palaces, and mansions owned by the nobility. And the people of Ribeira Sacra are unique—they’ve been preserving a way of winemaking that dates back 2000 years, working their own land with incredible pride and often great sacrifice.

All This I Will Give to You is a book with many facets. It’s a crime novel that I consider to be my personal homage to Agatha Christie, who has influenced me greatly. I even have an “Agatha Christie-style” coat I wear occasionally. I feel that there are many links between my novel and her books. Toxic families, the way the powerful family in my book related to the maids and the servers they have around the house, the huge houses they live in and take care of, the massive fireplaces, the care they take of their gardens, their ownership of the land, etc. I have never visited Torquay, Christie’s birthplace, but it’s on my bucket list.

My novel is also about the control that the nobility and the Catholic church still maintain in 21st century Spain. It’s about the secrets we keep, that you don’t know everything about anyone, not even the person who has been your spouse for many years. And it’s about prejudice, which I explored in different ways. My protagonist Manuel is judged for being gay, for being married, and for being a snobbish writer who seems out of touch with reality. Yet he has his own prejudices against his husband Álvaro’s rich family.

And finally, at the heart of the book is the unexpected friendship of the three men—a gay writer, a priest, and a retired policeman—that develops against the backdrop of greed, power and prejudice. It’s easy to judge too quickly, but often we discover that we have much more in common than what sets us apart.

All This I Will Give to You addresses some dark and disturbing issues, but I hope that readers will take away a message of optimism and hope, and also see it as a story that celebrates love, loyalty, and friendship.

###

Bestselling author Dolores Redondo was the recipient of the 2016 Premio Planeta—one of Spain’s most distinguished literary awards—for her literary crime novel, All This I Will Give to You, which is published in twenty languages to date and will be released in English for the first time by Amazon Crossing on September 1, 2018. Visit her website at www.doloresredondo.com/en