Sunday, October 25, 2020

BLOODY SCOTLAND: Catch up on the panels

I loved attending Bloody Scotland on my computer this year. Yes, I would rather have been there, but I probably wouldn't have been able to attend. I try to limit my conventions and conferences. Thanks so much to everyone involved in Bloody Scotland for making it available to all of us! If you missed it, you can still catch up on the panels. They're posted online here, but only for another week:

All the panels were great. Here are individual links to some I really enjoyed (but I enjoyed them all.

Peter May and Ann Cleeves

Steve Cavanagh, Simon Mayo and Adrian McKinty

Lin Anderson, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Attica Locke, Shamini Flint & J. Pomare

Val McDemid & Lee Child

Ian Rankin & Lawrence Block: Criminal Masterminds

Thursday, October 22, 2020


CWA (Crime Writers Association - UK) Daggers Awards 2020. Winners were announced today at a wonderful Zoom Awards Ceremony hosted by Barry Forshaw. So glad I got to attend.


Martin Edwards


Michael Robotham: Good Girl, Bad Girl (Sphere)


Lou Berney: November Road (Harper Fiction)


Trevor Wood: The Man on the Street (Quercus Fiction)


Abir Mukherjee: Death in the East (Harvill Secker)


Hannelore Cayre: The Godmother, translated by Stephanie Smee (Old Street Publishing)


Lauren Henderson: #Me Too in Invisible Blood, edited by Maxim Jakubowski (Titan Books)


Casey Cep: Furious Hours (William Heinemann)


Christopher Brookmyre


Josephine Moulds: Revolution Never Lies


Orenda Books


Sad news. Richard Lupoff, science fiction writer, mystery author, radio celebrity, non-fiction writer, and friend, passed away October 20 at the age of 85. I'm still reeling from the news, but I'll update this post shortly.

Richaard Lupoff's Detective Fiction
  • The Comic Book Killer (1988)
  • The Classic Car Killer (1992)
  • The Bessie Blue Killer (1994)
  • The Sepia Siren Killer (1994)
  • The Cover Girl Killer (1995)
  • The Silver Chariot Killer (1996)
  • The Radio Red Killer (1997)
  • One Murder at a Time (associated short fiction) (2001)
  • The Emerald Cat Killer (2012)
  • Rookie Blues (one-off) (2012)
  • Killer's Dozen: Thirteen Mystery Tales

Read Richard Lupoff's post on Mystery Fanfare.

From Locus:

Richard Allen Lupoff was born February 21, 1935 in New York. He met Pat on a blind date in 1957, and they were married the following year. The Lupoffs were active in comics and SF fandom starting in the 1960s, hosting meetings of the (Second) Futurian Society in Manhattan and helping to found the Fanoclasts. Before becoming a full-time writer in 1970 he worked in the computer industry, including for IBM. The Lupoffs soon settled in Northern California.

A series of Lupoff’s articles on comics from Xero became the basis for essay collection All in Color for a Dime (1970, co-edited with Don Thompson). The Best of Xero, with Pat Lupoff, appeared in 2004 and was a finalist for the Best Related Book Hugo Award.

Lupoff’s debut novel was SF adventure One Million Centuries (1967). He published numerous novels in the ‘70s, including Sacred Locomotive Flies (1971), Nebula Award finalist Sword of the Demon (1977), The Triune Man (1976), The Crack in the Sky (1976; as Fool’s Hill, 1978), Sandworld (1976), Lisa Kane (1976), and Space War Blues (1978), the latter expanding his Nebula Award-nominated story “With the Bentfin Boomer Boys on Little Old New Alabama” from Again, Dangerous Visions (1972). Into the Aether (1974) was adapted as comic The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle and His Incredible Aether Flyer with Steve Stiles for Heavy Metal in 1980, collected in 1991.

In the ‘80s he wrote the Twin Planet series, Circumpolar! (1984) and Countersolar! (1987) terms. The Sun’s End series had Sun’s End (1984) and Galaxy’s End (1988). Standalones include alternate history Lovecraft’s Book (1985) and SF The Forever City (1987). An early version of Lovecraft’s Book, long thought lost, was discovered and published as Marblehead in 2007.

A master of pastiche, Lupoff wrote a series of short parodies of other SF writer under the name Ova Hamlet, collected as The Oval Hamlet Papers (1975). Notable stories include Hugo Award finalist “After the Dreamtime” (1974) and Hugo and Nebula Award nominee “Sail the Tide of Mourning” (1975). His time-loop story “12:01 PM” (1973) became short film 12:01 PM (1990) and TV movie 12:01 (1993). Some of his stories were collected in Before… 12.01… And After (1996), Claremont Tales (2001), Claremont Tales II (2001), Terrors (2005), Visions (2009; expanded 2012), Dreams (2011; expanded 2012), Dreamer’s Dozen (2015), and The Doom that Came to Dunwich (2017).

Lupoff was an expert on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, helping to bring his work back into print in the ‘60s and writing about him extensively. He also wrote Buck Rogers tie-ins under the name Addison E. Steele. He contributed novels to Philip José Farmer’s shared world project The Dungeon and to Daniel Pinkwater’s Melvinge of the Metaverse series. His non-fiction includes The Reader’s Guide to Barsoom and Amtor (1963), Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure (1965), Barsoom: Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Martian Vision (1976), essay collection Writer at Large (1998), autobiographies Writer, Volume 1 (2014) and Writer, Volume 2 (2014), Where Memory Hides: A Writer’s Life (2016), Writer, Volume Three (2016), and Writer, Volume Four (2020).

He edited numerous collections and anthologies, including The Comic-Book Book (1973, with Don Thompson, expanded 1998), What If? #1: Stories that Should Have Won the Hugo (1980) and two additional volumes in 1981, and The Two-Timers (1981, with Fender Tucker). He co-hosted literary-focused radio show Probabilities in Berkeley CA from 1977 to 1995, when it was renamed Cover to Cover; he left the show in 2001.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

IT'S WHAT YOU DO before THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE: Guest Post by Randy Overbeck

Dr. Randy Overbeck:


At a recent book talk, an aspiring writer asked if it’s true that authors simply sit down at their computer and type away, inventing incredible new worlds and the next best seller. While this image might be inspirational, it doesn’t square very well with reality. For me, the truth is that before I ever put pen to paper—or type words on a white screen—I have to tackle a whole host of tasks. I’m not talking about the old pantser or plotter debate; that an issue for a whole other post. I’m talking about research, preparation, and organization. 

When I chose to write my new series, the Haunted Shores Mysteries, I deliberately set the bar quite high on research expectations. Since each book is set in a different resort location, that means I needed to learn what it was like to live (and die) in each of the settings. I needed to research the lingo and dialect, the customs and traditions, the foods and favorite drinks for each place. I needed to learn the geography of each, on land and sometimes on water. 

My next set of challenges came with the timeframe for my narratives. My protagonist’s journey begins in 1998, more than twenty years in the past. This means I needed to research different aspects of life at the time of my tales. What music was popular and when, what did the fashions of the day look like, what particular slang was hip, what were the major news stories of the day. In addition, since I’m setting my stories in actual towns, I needed to be certain which stores and restaurants were operating then. 

A third set of research demands involve particular details of the narratives. For example, in my first series entry, Blood on the Chesapeake, an important element of the story involves sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. Even though I’ve taken several “cruises” on the Bay, I’m certainly no sailor and had to learn a great deal of particulars about sailing, including a whole separate language. In my second installment, Crimson at Cape May, my protagonist takes a job coaching a summer football camp. Though I’ve coached some sports, I’ve never coached football and certainly never ran a summer camp. So I had to get expert help to provide the credible details for this part of the story. Also, both novels included essential details about health issues, i.e, falls, poisonings, hypothermia, and I sought expert medical help to get these right. 

I had to collect data, review old newspapers, consult experts and go native—most of this before I wrote the first line of each novel. I never want to rain on an aspiring writer’s parade—we all need our inspiration—but the truth about being an author is much more complicated, demanding and messy than the heroic image of the guy with a laptop in his room. 

Still, I tell new writers, it is all worth it in the end.  


Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, writer and speaker who has earned recognition in the Midwest and beyond. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.  

The first entry in his Haunted Shores Mystery series, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE, was published last year by the Wild Rose Press and earned rave reviews and even picked up two national awards. The second installment in the series, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, was released this summer and it quickly garnered two ★★★★★ reviews and a national award, the Gold Award from Literary Titan.

Monday, October 19, 2020


Sad news. Jill Paton Walsh  died yesterday. Paton Walsh was an English novelist and children's writer, best known to readers of this blog for her Peter Wimsey–Harriet Vane mysteries that completed and continued the work of Dorothy L. Sayers.

From Wikipedia:

In 1996, Paton Walsh received the CBE for services to literature and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1998 she won the Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association, for A Chance Child as the best children's book published twenty years earlier that did not win a major award. 

In an essay on realism in children's literature, Walsh stated that realism (like fantasy) is also metaphorical, and that she would like the relationship between the reader and her characters Bill and Julie to be as metaphorical as that between "dragons and the reader's greed or courage". 


Knowledge of Angels (1993), a medieval philosophical novel, that she published herself was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize. Other adult novels include: Farewell, Great King (1972), Lapsing (1986), about Catholic university students, A School for Lovers (1989), reworking of the plot of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, The Serpentine Cave (1997), based on a lifeboat disaster in St Ives, A Desert in Bohemia (2000), which follows a group of characters in England and in an imaginary Eastern European country through the years between World War II and 1989.


Imogen Quy 

Paton Walsh wrote four detective stories featuring part-time college nurse Imogen Quy, set in fictional St. Agatha's College, University of Cambridge: The Wyndham Case (1993) A Piece of Justice (1995) Debts of Dishonour (2006) The Bad Quarto (2007) 

Lord Peter Wimsey 

In 1998, she completed Dorothy L. Sayers's unfinished Lord Peter Wimsey–Harriet Vane novel, Thrones, Dominations. In 2002, she followed this up with another Lord Peter novel, A Presumption of Death. In 2010, she published a third, The Attenbury Emeralds.[8] Her last addition to the series, The Late Scholar, was published in 2013 in the UK, and January 2014 in the U.S.

 In addition she wrote over 30 children's books.

Saturday, October 17, 2020


Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, announced the nominees for its prestigious Anthony Awards tonight at the first Virtual Bouchercon. Bouchercon 2020: Sacramento.

2020 Anthony Award Awards

The Murder List, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House)

The Alchemist’s Illusion, by Gigi Pandian (Midnight Ink)

The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)

“The Red Zone,” by Alex Segura (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons (Wildside Press)

Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry, by Jen Conley (Down & Out Books)

Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that holds an annual convention attended by readers, writers, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and other lovers of crime fiction. Its annual Anthony Awards are named for writer and book critic Anthony Boucher and are one of crime fiction’s most prestigious and coveted awards.

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine announced the Barry Award Winners of this year’s Barry Awards during the Virtual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.

Best Mystery/Crime Novel 

THE LOST MAN, Jane Harper (Flatiron)

Best First Mystery/Crime Novel

THE CHESTNUT MAN, Soren Sveistrup (Harper)

Best Paperback Original Mystery/Crime Novel

MISSING DAUGHTER, Rick Mofina (Mira)

Best Thriller

THE CHAIN, Adrian McKinty (Mulholland)

Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade

SUSPECT, Robert Crais (Putnam)

Friday, October 16, 2020


The Macavity Award Winners 2020
(for works published in 2019)

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends of MRI. The winners were announced at opening ceremonies at Virtual Bouchercon 2020 Sacramento. Congratulations to all.

Best Mystery Novel  

The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Mulholland)

Best First Mystery

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House)

Best Mystery Short Story 

“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (EQMM, May/June 2019)

Best Mystery Nonfiction/Critical

Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Vintage) 

For all the Nominees: Go Here

Thursday, October 15, 2020

2020 NED KELLY AWARDS: Australian Crime Writers Association

The Australian Crime Writers Association announced the winners of the 2020 Ned Kelly Awards, aka the Neddies.

Best Crime Fiction:
The Wife and the Widow, by Christian White (Affirm Press)

Also nominated: Death of a Typographer, by Nick Gadd (Australian Scholarly Publishing); The Strangers We Know, by Pip Drysdale (Simon & Schuster); The Scholar, by Dervla McTiernan (Harlequin); Rivers of Salt, by Dave Warner (Fremantle Press); and True West, by David Whish-Wilson (Fremantle Press)

Best Debut Crime Fiction:
Present Tense, by Natalie Conyer (Clan Destine Press)

Also nominated: Eight Lives, by Susan Hurley (Affirm Press); Where the Truth Lies, by Karina Kilmore (Simon & Schuster); The Nancys, by R.W.R. McDonald (Allen & Unwin); Six Minutes, by Petronella McGovern (Allen & Unwin); and Lapse, by Sarah Thornton (Text)

Best True Crime:
Bowraville, by Dan Box (Penguin Random House)

Also nominated: Dead Man Walking: The Murky World of Michael McGurk and Ron Medich, by Kate McClymont (Penguin Random House); Shark Arm, by Phillip Rooper and Kevin Meagher (Allen & Unwin); and Snakes and Ladders, by Angela Williams (Affirm Press)

Best International Crime Fiction:
The Chain, by Adrian McKinty (Hachette)

Also nominated: Cruel Acts, by Jane Casey (HarperCollins); The Night Fire, by Michael Connelly (Allen & Unwin); and The Last Widow, by Karin Slaughter (HarperCollins)

HT: The Gumshoe Site and The Rapsheet

Wednesday, October 14, 2020


MWA NorCal 
Mystery Week (Virtual!) 
October 24-30, 2020 
Seven nights, 40+ writers, something for every reader—and writer! 
All online

October 24, 7 PM: “Stayin’ Alive: How to stay creative while the city’s breaking and everybody’s shaking” — Camille Minichino (M), Rhys Bowen, Ann Parker, Margaret Dumas, J.J. Lamb | Register here 

October 25, 7 PM: “Crime Through Time: Writing the Historical Mystery” — Janet Rudolph (M), Jacqueline Winspear, Janet Dawson, Priscilla Royal, Hal Glatzer | Register here 

October 26, 7 PM: “Where? How? Settings & Research in a Mystery” — Laurie Sheehan (M), Catriona McPherson, John Billheimer, Gigi Pandian, Michael Nava | Register here 

October 27, 7 PM: “Where’s My Hero? Finding Characters Who Work for You” — Claire Johnson (M), David Corbett, Camille Minichino, Ann Parker, Janice Peacock | Register here 

October 28, 7 PM: “Dangerous Ideas: Does Genre Fiction Matter?” — Randal Brandt (M), Faye Snowden, Rae James, Laurie King, Owen Hill | Register Here.

October 29, 7 PM: “A Highly Suitable Job for a Woman: The Female Sleuth in Mystery Fiction” — Heather Haven (M), Cara Black, S. A. Lelchuk, Daisy Bateman, Robin Burcell | Register here 

October 30, 7 PM: “A Bit of This, a Lot of That: Mixing Up Genre” — Laurie R. King (M), Maya Bohnhoff, Stephen Hockensmith, Nick Mamatas, Margaret Lucke | Register Here

Saturday, October 10, 2020

CREATE: Guest post by Cathy Pickens

Cathy Pickens: 


How can a writer of crime fact and fiction presume to talk about creativity, much less write a book about it? 

CREATE! started as my attempt to figure out what we mean by “creative” and how I could be more so. 

Creativity is a word loaded with magic. Combining my crime writing life with years of research and teaching law in a graduate school of business, I realized creativity isn’t a random gift. It’s a process. And we can all master it. We can all take what we have and what we enjoy and … create! 

Say “creativity” aloud in a group and you’ll get strong reactions. Some lean in, excited to explore. Others lean back and wave their hands frantically to ward off anything that might expose or embarrass them. But the simple truth is, we’re all creative. We just don’t all know it. Or we haven’t developed it. 

Even among those who know they are creative, doubts creep in. Am I creative enough? Often enough? 

But most of us—especially now—want to engage in something creative, make something, learn something, distract ourselves, find meaning, have fun. 

The CREATE process is five steps: 

Capture (using a creative notebook), 

Ramble (exploring new experiences, stepping into the unknown, starting as a beginner), 

Engage (narrowing your focus and gathering the necessary skills and materials for a project), 

Act (setting to work on a particular project, the “just do it” phase), 

Tweak (seeking feedback, critique, or expert advice, after you craft and polish as best you can), and 

Expand (moving to another, bigger project or carrying what you’ve learned into another part of your life). 

What surprised me, watching workshop attendees over the years, has been the unexpected benefits. They wrote poetry for the first time, stood and presented their work in front of people even though they were scared, submitted a painting to a juried exhibit, wrote a novel. One man sewed a dress for his little daughter—she was delighted that it twirled when she spun around. 

One woman used her notebook to jot down family stories; she doesn’t know what she’ll do with them, but it’s given her a reason to really listen to her mother and her aunts and her own children. 

At a residential rehab facility, most of the women in the CREATE sessions had never written poetry. Neither had the inmates in the Mecklenburg County Jail. They were all reluctant to try and all were terrified of standing up and reading something they’d written. But what they created took my breath away. 

The Dove’s Nest ladies (as they call themselves) write about dark times and redemption, fried catfish and fireflies and dancing in the bed of a pickup truck to Waylon Jennings on the radio. One inner-city young man wrote “Rookie Year,” a chapbook of poetry about his first year in prison. The analysis of his poems by students at an alternative school in the Appalachian Mountains amazed their teachers. Creativity reminds us who we are, where we came from. 

Creativity builds bridges between people and between what we once were and what we hope to be. 

We’re all creative, each in our own way. Accept it, even if you don’t quite believe it. What better time to find out what that means for each of us than now? Creativity is born in chaos – and, as artist Paul Cézanne observed, we live in a rainbow of chaos. Why not enjoy it?


The first in Cathy Pickens’ Southern Fried mystery series won St. Martin’s Best New Traditional Mystery Award. She’s now exploring historic true crime cases for History Press, with stories of the serial killer who broke the rules, the man who created Bigfoot, and some famous female serial poisoners, in Charlotte True Crime Stories and True Crime Stories of Eastern North Carolina (coming Sept. 28, 2020). CREATE! Developing Your Creative Process (ICSC Press) captures her popular creativity workshops in book form.

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

Happy Caturday!

Friday, October 9, 2020

THE UNMASKING and the Locked-Room Mystery


The Unmasking and the Locked-Room Mystery 

Characters, all with motives––a secret affair, a lust for revenge of an old slight, a desire to inherit large sums––are confined together in a remote setting. One by one each person is mysteriously killed. How was someone able to enter the space where the crime occurred, murder his or her victim, and exit without seemingly leaving a clue? From popular examples such as Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None to the recent movie Knives Out, the formula of the locked-room mystery has had staying power for decades. 

I play with the conventions of the locked-room mystery in my new novel The Unmasking. Three close friends, Bettina, Miriam, and Fiona, journey from Austin, Texas to Silver City, New Mexico to attend a women’s festival where they and others perform famous women from history. Each of the characters’ presentations reveals aspects of her era that resonate in our own today: Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for US president in 1872, raised issues of class and misogyny that pervaded the election of 2016. In her writing, Gertrude Stein explored lesbian sexuality and her long union with Alice B. Toklas. Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf wrote brilliantly about the constraints of women’s lives. The three stay in a secluded lodge, Oso Grande, in the Gila Wilderness of southwest New Mexico along with the lodge’s staff and four other participants of the event. Their university dean, Alec Martin, has just died in a one-car crash after it comes to light that he’s been embezzling funds. 

The three women suspect murder, particularly when it is revealed that his widow, Barbara, has inherited millions of dollars upon his death. But how might the crash have been orchestrated? 

The reader knows early on who will die––the novel is less of a “whodunnit” than a “how-and-why-dunnit.” In the process of discovery, the form of the mystery novel itself is unraveled and put back together: random clues, the increasing isolation in the country, the friction between the faces the characters show in the novel’s present vs. the lives they play in history, the ongoing excavation of assignations and loyalties all add to the layers of action. The actual locked room inside the lodge, a small storage room with no windows, holds something utterly unexpected when it is opened. 

Over the course of the novel, the lodge itself becomes an extension of the locked room. It serves as an incubator for motives and desires, including love and revenge. For example, Barbara becomes lovers with Jane, the festival’s Gertrude Stein whose career was negatively impacted by Alec Martin. In history, Gertrude Stein and the arts patron Mabel Dodge Luhan (whom Barbara portrays) were attracted to each other but kept apart by Stein’s lover Alice B. Toklas. Accidents begin to happen around the performances and one of the performers disappears. The police arrive to investigate the disappearance making the festival itself a psychological locked room, keeping the participants together until answers are found. A small shed on the grounds, another locked room, holds clues that are key to the final crisis of the novel. 

Miriam, in her keynote on the locked-room mystery, puzzles through the murder of Alec Martin that on the surface seemed like an accident yet which was carefully orchestrated: “I ask you to contemplate a mind facile and arrogant enough to predict that an act of premeditated violence would appear, one hundred times out of one hundred, as just a bad break. Casual, unfortunate, just one of life’s little surprises. Like a slip on a slick staircase, or a skid in the shower, or a burst vessel in the brain, it was something that could happen to anyone. At any time. But Alec’s death would not have happened at any time. Just at one: on a Friday morning, at rush hour, in the one mile drive from the victim’s home to his neighborhood grocery. Call it designer’s delight. Call it devil’s play. Call it the perfect crime.” 


Lynn C. Miller is the author and coauthor of several books, including The Unmasking: A Novel and The Day after Death: A Novel. She has performed a number of solo performance pieces and plays about Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Katherine Anne Porter, and Victoria Woodhull.

Thursday, October 8, 2020


Set in Stratford-Upon-Avon, this fun cozy series Shakespeare & Hathaway features Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton) and Luella Shakespeare (Jo Joyner) as private eyes. Series 3 premieres on BritBox this month. In season 3, Lu has passed her P.I. exams and Frank has tidied himself up.