Sunday, April 21, 2024

EARTH DAY: Environmental/Ecological Mysteries


Earth Day: Climate change, environmental issues, and how we can save our planet. A few years ago I started posting a list of environmental/ecological mysteries. The list has grown. Crime fiction is an excellent way to make readers aware of issues.

Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 36:1) focuses on Environmental Mysteries. This issue is available as a PDF download and hardcopy. Take a look at the Table of Contents and order here. 

For Earth Day 2023, I updated my Earth Day/Environmental Mysteries list. There are many more authors, and certainly more books by many of the authors on the list. As always, I welcome additions of your favorites. I took a few liberties on the list, too, but I think they all fall under the umbrella of environmental/ecological mysteries. Scroll down for a second list that deals exclusively with Drowned Towns aka Reservoir Noir.

Be kind to the Earth. It's the only one we have!

ENVIRONMENTAL/ECOLOGICAL MYSTERIES

Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang
P.D. Abbey's H2Glo
Liz Adair's Snakewater Affair
Glyyn Marsh Alam's Cold Water Corpse; Bilge Water Bones

Grace Alexander's Hegemon 
Lou Allin's Northern Winters Are Murder; Blackflies Are Murder: Memories Are Murder
Roberto Ampuero's El aleman de Atacama (only in German)

Christine Andreae's A Small Target
Suzanne Arruda's Stalking Ivory
Sarah Andrews' Em Hansen Mystery series
Lindsay Arthur's The Litigators
Anna Ashwood-Collins' Deadly Resolution; Red Roses for a Dead Trucker
Sandi Ault's Wild Inferno; Wild Indigo; Wild Penance; Wild Sorrow
Shannon Baker's Tainted Mountain; Broken Trust; Tattered Legacy; Skies of Fire
J. G. Ballard's Rushing to Paradise
Michael Barbour's The Kenai Catastrophe; Blue Water, Blue Island
Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat; Ill Wind; Borderline; and others
Lee Barwood's A Dream of Drowned Hollow?
Pamela Beason's Sam Westin wildlife biologist series
Matt Bell's Appleseed

Robert P. Bennett's Blind Traveler's Blues
William Bernhardt's Silent Justice
David Riley Bertsch's Death Canyon
Donald J Bingle's GreensWord
Michael Black's A Killing Frost 
Jennifer Blake's Shameless
Claire Booth's Another Man's Ground
C J Box's Winterkill; Open Season; Below Zero; Savage Run; Out of Range; Trophy Hunt; Free Fire; In Plain Sight; Dark Sky
Lisa Brackmann's Hour of the Rat
Alex Brett's Dead Water Creek
Lisa Brideau's Drift; Amid Rage; Drink to Every Beast
Tobias S. Buckell's Artic Rising
Joe Burcat's Drink to Every Beast
James Lee Burke's Creole Belle
Rex Burns' Endangered Species
Steve Burrow's A Siege of Bitterns
David Butler Full Curl; No Place for Wolverines; In Rhino We Trust
Chester Campbell's The Surest Poison
Christine Carbo The Wild Inside, Mortal Fall, The Weight of Night, A Sharp Solitude
Ann Cleeves' Another Man's Poison; Wild Fire; Blue Lightning; The Crow Trap
Eileen Charbonneau's Waltzing in Ragtime

Rajat Chaudhuri: The Butterfly Effect
Margaret Coel's The Dream Stalker
Anna Ashwood Collins's Metamorphis for Murder; Deadly Resolutions
Kathleen Concannon's A Deadly Bluff
Shawn Connors' Chain Reaction
Robin Cook's Fever
Dawn Corrigan's Mitigating Circumstances
Peter Corris's Deep Water
Donna Cousin's Landscape
Michael Crichton's State of Fear
James Crumley's Dancing Bear
Rich Curtin's Final Arrangements; Deadly Games
Christine D'Avanzo Cold Blood, Hot Sea; Devil Sea; Secrets Haunt the Lobsters' Sea; Glass Eels, Shattered Sea
Cecil Dawkins' Rare Earth
Janet Dawson's Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean

Mark de Castrique's Fatal Scores
Barbara Delinsky's Looking for Peyton Place
Lionel Derrick's Death Ray Terror
William Deverell's April Fool
Karen Dionne's Boiling Point; Freezing Point; The Marsh King's Daughter, The Wicked Sister
Paul Doiron's The Poacher's Son; Trespasser; Bad Little Falls; The Bone Orchard; One Last Lie, Almost Midnight, Dead by Dawn, and others
David Michael Donovan's Evil Down in the Alley
Mark Douglas-Home's The Sea Detective
Rubin Douglas' The Wise Pelican: From the Cradle to the Grave
Jack Du Brul's Vulcan's Forge; River of Ruin; and others
Robert Dugoni & Joseph Hilldorfer's Cyanide Canary
Toni Dwiggins' Badwater; Quicksilver
Kerstin Ekman's Blackwater
Aaron J Elkins' The Dark Place; Unnatural Selection
Howard Engel's Dead and Buried
Kathleen Ernst's High Stakes in a Great Lake
Eric C. Evans' Endangered

Nicholas Evans' The Divide
Nancy Fairbanks's Acid Bath; Hunting Game; and others
Kate Fellowes' Thunder in the Night
Cher Fischer's Falling into Green
Bill Fitzhugh's Pest Control; The Exterminators
Michael J. Fitzgerald's The Fracking War
Mary Flodin's The Death of the Gecko
G M Ford's Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?
Clare Francis's The Killing Winds (Requiem)
Jamie Freveletti's Dead Asleep 
Sara Hoskinson Frommer's Death Climbs a Tree

Abby Geni's The Lightkeepers
Jean Craighead George's The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Limbo; Who Really Killed Cock Robin?; The Case of the Missing Cutthroats; The Fire Bug Connection (young readers)
Matthew Glass's Ultimatum
Kenneth Goddard's Double Blind; Prey; Wildfire
Chris Goff's A Rant of Ravens; Death of a Songbird; A Nest in the Ashes
Jean Craighead George's The Case of the Missing Cutthroats

Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon's Greenwar
Alexander M. Grace's Hegemon
Scott Graham's Mountain Rampage, Yellowstone Standoff; Mesa Verde Victim
Robert O. Greer's The Devil's Hatband
John Grisham's The Pelican Brief; The Appeal; The Litigators; Gray Mountain
Beth Groundwater's Deadly Currents; Wicked Eddies
Elizabeth Gunn's Eleven Little Piggies
Jean Hager's Ravenmocker
William Hagard's The Vendettists
James W. Hall's Bones of Coral
Patricia Hall's The Poison Pool
Joseph Hall's Nightwork
Karen Hall's Unreasonable Risk, Through Dark Spaces

A.M. Halvorssen's The Dirty Network
Matt Hammond's Milkshake
Vinnie Hansen's Fruit of the Devil 
Jane Harper's The Dry; The Lost Man
Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action
Alice Henderson's A Solitude of Wolverines, A Blizzard of Polar Bears, and more.
Sue Henry's Termination Dust
Robert Herring's McCampbell's War
Joseph Heywood's Blue Wolf in Green Fire, Ice Hunter, Chasing a Blond Moon; Buckular Dystrophy; Bad Optics
Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip; Stormy Weather; Sick Puppy; Strip Tease; Scat; Star Island

Anne Hillerman's Song of the Lion
Tony Hillerman's The Blessing Way
Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady
John Hockenberry's A River out of Eden
Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow
John Holt's Hunted
Dave Hugelschaffer's Day into Night, One Careless Moment
Judy Hughes' The Snowmobile Kidnapping
Mary Ellen Hughes's A Taste of Death
R.J. Jacobs's Always the First to Die

Dana Andrew Jennings' Lonesome Standard Time
Liz Jensen's The Rapture
Craig Johnson's Hell is Empty; Dry Bones
Sylvia Kelso's The Solitaire Ghost; The Time Seam
Emily Kimelman's Unleashed
Thomas King's Cold Skies
M.T. Kingsley's With Malicious Intent

Henry Kisor's Hang Fire
Linda Kistler's Cause for Concern
Lisa Kleinholz's Dancing with Mr. D. 
Bill Knox's The Scavengers, Devilweed, and others in the Webb Carrick series
Dean Koontz's Icebound
William Kent Krueger's "Cork O'Connor" series, including Manitou Canyon, Sulfur Springs
Janice Law's Infected Be the Air

P.J. Lazos' Oil and Water
Leena Lehtolainen's Fatat Headwind
Stephen Legault's The Cardinal Divide, The Glacier Gallows, The Vanishing Track, The Darkening Archipelago
Donna Leon's Death in a Strange Country; About Face; Earthly Remains; Acqua Alta
David Liss' The Ethical Assassin
Sam Llewellyn's Deadeye
Charles & Lidia LoPinto's Countdown in Alaska; Nukes
Robert Lopresti's Greenfellas
Jim Lynch's The Highest Tide
John D MacDonald's Barrier Island (and other titles)
Ross Macdonald's Sleeping Beauty
Jassy Mackenzie's The Fallen
Larry Maness' A Once a Perfect Place
Elizabeth Manz's Wasted Space
John Marsden's A Killing Frost
Margaret Maron's High Country Fall, Shooting at Loons, Up Jumps the Devil, Hard Row
John Martel's Partners
Steve Martini's Critical Mass

Jean Matthews' Bet Your Bones
Keith McCafferty's The Royal Wulff Murders; Dead Man's Fance; A Death in Eden; The Bangtail Ghost; Buffalo Jump Blues
Charlotte McConaghy's Once There Were Wolves
M.J. McGrath's The Boy in the Snow
John McGoran's Drift; Deadout; Dust Up
Karin McQuillan's Deadly Safari; Cheetah Chase; Elephant's Graveyard
Mindy Meija's Leave No Trace
Anne Metikosh's Undercurrent 
Deon Meyer's Blood Safari, Thirteen Hours; Fever
Shannon Michaud's Still Water
Penny Mickelbury's What Could Be More Than Dead? 
Susan Cummins Miller's Chasm
Kirk Mitchell's High Desert Malice; Deep Valley Malice
Laura J. Mixon & Steven Gould's Greenwar

Margaret Mizushima's Killing Trail; Stalking Ground
Skye Kathleen Moody's Blue Poppy; and other Venus Diamond mysteries
C. George Muller's Echoes in the Blue
Marcia Muller's Cape Perdido
Sandy Neill's Deadly Turn; Deadly Trespass

Judith Newton's Oink
Michael Norman's Skeleton Picnic; On Deadly Ground
Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie
Michael Palmer's Fatal
Sara Paretsky's Blood Shot
Brad Parks' The Player
T. Jefferson's Parker's Pacific Beat

James Patterson's Zoo

Ridley Pearson's Killer View
Louise Penny's A Better Man

Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried
Carl Posey's Bushmaster Fall
David Poyer's As the Wolf Loves Winter, Winter in the Heart
Katherine Prairie's Thirst
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Reliquary
Kwei Quartey's Murder at Cape Three Points; Gold of our Fathers
Peter Ralph's Dirty Fracking Business

Ben Rehder's Bum Steer; Holy Moly; Hog Heaven; Fat Crazy, and more
Bob Reiss's Purgatory Road
Ruth Rendell's Road Rage 
Geoffrey Robert's The Alo Release
Carolyn Rose's An Uncertain Refuge
Leonard Rosen's The Tenth Witness
Simon Rosser's Tipping Point

Rebecca Rothenberg's The Shy Tulip Murders; The Bulrush Murder
Patricia Rushford's Red Sky in the Mourning
Alan Russell's The Forest Prime Evil 
Kirk Russell's Shell Games
Nick Russell's Big Lake Blizzard

Louis Sachar's Fuzzy Mud
Brenda Seabrook's The Dragon That Slurped the Green Slime Swamp (Children's)
Frank Sch├Ątzing's The Swarm
L.J. Seller's Crimes of Memory
Paige Shelton's Cold Wind
Patricia Skalka's Death Stalks Door County

Barry Siegel's Actual Innocence
Sheila Simonson's An Old Chaos 
Jessica Speart's Bird Brained, Blue Twilight, Gator Aide, Tortoise Soup
Dana Stabenow's A Cold Day for Murder, A Deeper Sleep, A Fine and Bitter Snow, Midnight Come Again, A Taint in the Blood, and many others
John Stanley's The Woman Who Married a Bear, The Curious Eat Themselves, 
Neal Stephenson's Zodiac
Mark Stevens' Buried by the Roan; Antler Dust; Lake of Fire 
David Sundstrand's Shadow of the Raven
William Tapply's Cutter's Run
Peter Temple's The Broken Shore

Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Petals of Blood
Craig Thomas's A Wild Justice
Olga Tokarczuk's Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Antti Tuomainen's The Healer
Judith Van Gleson's "Neil Hamel" series, including The Wolf Path & Parrot Blues
David Rains Wallace's The Turquoise Dragon
Lee Wallingford's Clear-Cut Murder; Cold Tracks
Joseph Wambaugh's Finnegan's Week
Sterling Watson's Deadly Sweet
Betty Webb's Desert Wind; The Anteater of Death 
Randy Wayne White's White Captiva
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt

K.J.A. Wishnia's The Glass Factory; 23 Shades of Black; Red House Soft Money
Qiu Xialolong's Don't Cry, Tai Lake
Brooks Birdwell Yeager's Chilly Winds
John Yunker's The Tourist Trail; Where Oceans Hide Their Dead
Greg Zeigler's Rare as Earth; Some Say Fire; The Straw That Broke


Reservoir Noir

Crime Fiction that deals with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons--a sad addition to the environmental crime fiction list.


Mabel Esther Allan: Pendron Under the Water  (YA)
Stephen Bacon's Murmured in Dreams; "The Summer of Bradbury" in Terror Tales of Yorkshire, edited by Paul Finch 
Andrea Barrett: The Forms of Water
John Blackburn: Bury Him Darkly
Scott Carson's The Chill
Matthew J. Costello's Beneath Still Waters (horror)

Alan Dipper's Drowning Day
Eileen Dunlop's Valley of the Deer (YA)

Lee Harris's The Christening Day Murder
Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height
Donald James' Walking the Shadows

James D. Landis' The Taking (Artist of the Beautiful)
Jane Langton's Emily Dickenson is Dead
Tim Lebbon's "The Flow" in Terror Tales of Wales, ed. by Paul Finch

Julia Wallis Martin's A Likeness in Stone
Sharyn McCrumb's Zombies of the Gene Pool
Michael Miano's The Dead of Summer
Nicholas Olde's "The Monstrous Laugh" in The Incredible Adventures of Rowland Hern

Ron Rash's One Foot in Eden
Rick Riordan's The Devil Went Down to Austin
Peter Robinson's In a Dry Season
Lisa See's Dragon Bones
Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls (YA)

Paul Somers' Broken Jigsaw
Julia Spencer-Fleming's Out of the Deep I Cry
Jonathan Thomas's The Color Over Occum

John Milliken Thompson's The Reservoir Reservoir 13
Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes
John Morgan Wilson's Rhapsody in Blood
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt
Stuart Woods's Under the Lake

*** 

Non-Fiction about Drowned Towns

Thomas Conuel: Quabbin: The accidental Wilderness
James L. Douthat: Cherokee Reservoir Grave Removals by T.V.A.
David and Joan Hay: Mardale, The Drowned Village: Being a Lakeland Journey into Yesterday
Allen Holt: Watergrove: A History of the Valley and Its Drowned Village
David Howarth: The Shadow of the Dam
Elizabeth Peirce: Quabbin Valley: People and Places
Joyce Hunsinger Pogany: Austintown
Les Ross, Editor: Before the Lake: Memories of the Chew Valley


Let me know any other author/titles that should be included. Make a comment below.


Saturday, April 20, 2024

SISTER BONIFACE, SEASON 3


Sister Boniface, Season 3 will premiere on BritBox on April 24 with two episodes. Then one episode a week for 8 episodes total. Be sure and watch the Christmas Special that dropped in December.  It's considered part of Season 3, so 9 episodes (but 8 regular ones). Sister Boniface is a spin-off of the Father Brown series. Check out the first two seasons of this British cozy featuring a crime-solving, Vespa-driving nun who solves crimes in this cozy British mystery series.  



Thursday, April 18, 2024

PASSOVER CRIME FICTION //PASSOVER MYSTERIES

Passover
starts Monday night and lasts for eight days. That should give you plenty of time to read these mysteries set during the holiday. This is an updated list, but, as always, let me know any missing titles/authors.

Passover Crime Fiction

Passover by Aphrodite Anagnost
Conspirators by Michael Andre Bernstein
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks   
The Passover Commando by Irving R. Cohen
The Passover Protocols by Ellen Frankel
The Passover Murder by Lee Harris 
All Other Nights by Dara Horn
Never Nosh a Matzo Ball by Sharon Kahn
Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home by Harry Kemelman 
The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
The Empty Hours by Ed McBain
The Wolf and the Lamb by Frederick Ramsay
The Samaritans' Secret by Matt Beynon Rees
Mrs Kaplan and the Matzo Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger
Unleavened Dead by Ilene Schneider
The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield 
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra

Poisoned Passover: Book 2 Torah Mystery Series by Susan Van Dusen
The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie (on my Easter list, too!)
The Big Nap by Ayelet Waldman 

Passover by Frances Williams
The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia
Passover by Jeff Yocum

Passover Short Stories in the following collections:

Dying for Chametz & Other Mystery Stories for Passover by Libby Astaire
Criminal Kabbalah, edited by Laurie R. King
Murder Is No Mitzvah, edited by Abigail Browning
Mystery Midrash, edited by Rabbi Lawrence Raphael
Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishing
***
"Catching Elijah" by Jeri Westerson

There are several Children's and YA Passover Mysteries including:

Sherlock Mendelson and the Missing Afikomen by David Shawn Klein, Illustrated by Bridge Starr Taylor
Jodie's Passover Adventure by Anna Levine
Shira Detective: Chametz Detective by Galia Sabbag, Illustrated by Erin Taylor

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

Check out Molly Odintz's 10 Reasons Why Passover is the Noirest Holiday on CrimeReads.

Celebrating the holiday? Check out DyingforChocolate.com for Chocolate Passover Recipes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

GRANCHESTER, Season 9


MASTERPIECE
has announced that 
Grantchester, Season 9 will premiere on Sunday, June 16 at 9/8c on PBS. The new season is set in 1961 and sees the departure of Rev. Will Davenport (Tom Brittany) and the arrival of Rev. Alphy Kotteram (Rishi Nair). 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

When Characters Struggle to Uphold Their Core Values: Guest Post by Verlin Darrow

If characters don’t act in congruence with how they generally try to live, there needs be a good reason or they’ll cease to be believable. An upright citizen can’t suddenly decide to rob a convenience store. The killer in a murder mystery has to either be a major creep or someone with a compelling motive or backstory that pulls anomalous behavior out of them. I find it wholly unsatisfying for the solution to a mystery to embody a less than fully explained, out of character act. 

All of this is central to the success of many mysteries, including my just released latest—The Not Quite Enlightened Sleuth. As the name implies, Ivy attempts to live true to her Buddhist precepts as she returns to California from Sri Lanka and navigates a complex plot entailing multiple murders, a bi-polar sister and her dysfunctional family, as well as a budding romance. Sometimes Ivy fails to muster kindness or compassion. Sometimes she’s motivated by her personal agenda. Of course, these are components of the universal human condition, but Ivy, as a former Buddhist nun, expects more of herself. 

Without inner conflict, often concerning morals, priorities, and beliefs, characters lack depth and it’s harder for readers to identify with them. We all struggle to implement our best selves, or at least reach our pragmatic goals. Characters need to do so, too, or they remain nothing more than a character in a book. We need them to come alive so readers will care about what happens to them and keep turning pages to find out. 

Another important element, of course is change/transformation. The protagonist needs to undergo a process that leads somewhere, both externally—solving a mystery, for example—and internally—learning, growing, or perhaps graduating into a better life situation. Without implied or explicit attention to values, it’s hard to demonstrate that the protagonist is a somewhat different person on the last page than they were on the first. Once again, this is designed to mirror real people’s experience. Who could participate in all that Ivy encounters, for example, and remain the same? In her case, Ivy’s administration of Buddhist precepts becomes much more flexible and she learns how to integrate back into an unfamiliar world after so many years in a cloistered environment. 

Personally, I’m very much a seat of the pants writer, which helps me plot creatively, but can impede what I’m recommending here. When a bit of dialogue fits the flow—feels right—it may or may not be congruent with a character’s current values. It’s certainly possible to do this in small quantities. After all, who can behave consistently about anything? But if I let my process take over and ignore the rest, I have to do a lot of rewriting. 

Another challenging element in an attempt to portray values—showing, not telling— is when you’ve stretched to create a protagonist quite different than you. Perhaps you’re an attorney in Ohio trying to write an Agatha Christie-style drawing room mystery. Perhaps you’re working on a police procedural with no experience in law enforcement. 

In The Not Quite Enlightened Sleuth, I create a first person female narrator when I am a man. I took this approach for several reasons. One, I wanted a challenge to keep me motivated so I would finish my manuscript. Numerous other projects fizzled out when I lost interest for various reasons. Two, I’m a psychotherapist, and I’ve worked with thousands of women, almost all of whom shared their thoughts, feeling, and problems quite candidly. I know more than most men about the psyches of women. And lastly, I thought it would provide an interesting contrast to have a truly gentle, kind protagonist dealing with violent people. Who could fit the bill better than a Buddhist nun? 

I also needed to know exactly what Ivy’s values were and how her return to the secular world might challenge them. I’ve experienced something similar, so this element didn’t need as much work. 

Forty years ago, I became a gung-ho spiritual seeker as a remedy for my depression and my inability to be in direct contact with the world. That led to my forming a small spiritual community with an older friend serving as the leader. When I realized he was both wise andsomewhat delusional, I graduated myself and everyone else back into the world. Then I faced what Ivy faces. It’s jarring and easy to feel lost while trying to reintegrate into mainstream culture. If I’d had murders in my family, I definitely wouldn’t have coped as well as Ivy. Her spiritual background is stronger—more durable in the face of adversity. 

At any rate, those are my thoughts on this subject. To be honest, I’m exploring this for the first time in order to produce a guest blog, so you may have better or different ideas about this. I hope I’ve at least catalyzed you to take a look at characters’ values and their roles in novels, especially mysteries. 

*** 

A mid-sized independent press published Verlin Darrow’s Blood and Wisdom, Coattail Karma, Prodigy Quest, Murder For Liar, and The Not Quite Enlightened Detective. Two of these were were runners-up in major book award contests. Also, several short stories of his were included in anthologies. Verlin lives in the woods near Monterey Bay and his psychotherapist wife diagnoses him as needed. Visit Verlin Darrow online at: www.verlindarrow.com