Wednesday, July 17, 2019


More sad news today: Howard Engel: R.I.P.

From Quill & Quire:

Howard Engel, the author of the beloved Benny Cooperman series of mysteries, has died at the age of 88. Engel’s death, from pneumonia, was confirmed by his longtime agent, Beverly Slopen.

Born in 1931 in the Ontario city of St. Catharines, Engel worked as a producer at the CBC before publishing the first of the Cooperman mysteries, The Suicide Murders, in 1980. “No crime fiction novel had ever been set in Canada with a Canadian hero before Howard did it,” wrote Cynthia Good in 2010 on the occasion of his being presented the Jewish Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. East of Suez, the 14th Cooperman mystery, was published in 2008. Engel’s final novel, the historical fiction City of Fallen Angels, appeared in 2014.

In addition to his Cooperman mysteries, Engel also wrote fiction and non-fiction, including a memoir, The Man Who Forgot How to Read, detailing his experience suffering alexia sine agraphia, a neurological condition that robbed him of the ability to read while retaining the ability to write.

Engel was the recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award and the Derrick Murdoch Award, and was the first crime writer to receive the Writers’ Trust of Canada Matt Cohen Award. In 2007, he was invested into the Order of Canada. He was also the recipient of the Grand Master Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, an organization he founded.

Andrea Camilleri: R.I.P.

Italian author Andrea Camilleri, author of the Inspector Montalbano novels, died on Wednesday at the age of 93.

Camilleri spent much of his life working as a theater director, screenwriter and teacher, only becoming a successful and highly prolific writer from his late 60s.

He wrote more than 100 novels. His Montalbano novels have regularly topped Italian best-seller lists, been translated into 32 languages, and are the basis for a popular TV series aired by Rai and sold worldwide.

He published his first book when he was 53, but it made little impact and he subsequently gave up writing for many years, only producing the first Montalbano novel, The Shape of Water, in 1994, when he was almost 70.

The 26th novel in the series, The Cook of Alcyon, hit bookstores at the end of May. Camilleri said in 2006 he had prepared a final installment chronicling the death of his detective hero which was locked in his publisher’s safe.

The popularity of both the chain-smoking Camilleri and his food-loving alter ego Montalbano soared after Rai started adapting the adventures of the Sicilian detective in 1999, subsequently selling the series worldwide.

The Montalbano novels are set in the fictional town of Vigata, which closely resembles Camilleri’s hometown of Porto Empedocle — a port in southern Sicily. Sicilian life and cooking infuses the mysteries, as does local dialect.

The television series has fuelled a tourism renaissance on the island, with Italians and foreigners alike regularly flocking to the small and picturesque towns of Ragusa, Scicli and Modica where the fictional Montalbano conducted his investigations.

A one-time member of the Communist Party, Camilleri was an outspoken critic of both former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the current deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, who heads the anti-immigrant League party.

In one of the last Montalbano television adaptations, broadcast in Italy in February, the detective delivers a pro-migrant message, jumping into the sea to recover the body of a drowned asylum seeker.

Read Mark Lawson's tribute here.


The World Mystery Convention, Bouchercon, today announced that Jenn and Don Longmuir are the recipients of the 2019 David Thompson Memorial Special Service Award.  Congrats, Jenn & Don! Well deserved!

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. The 50th Anniversary event will take place October 31-November 3, 2019 in Dallas.

The David Thompson Award will be presented during the opening ceremonies on October 31. The David Thompson Memorial Special Service Award is given by the Bouchercon Board to honor the memory and contributions to the crime fiction community of David Thompson, a beloved Houston bookseller who passed away in 2010. Recipients are recognized for their "extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the crime fiction field."

The Longmuirs have been fixtures in the crime fiction community for more than a quarter-century. The couple owns and runs Scene of the Crime Books in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and they have been book room organizers, book sellers and attendees at mystery conventions across North America. Don also served on the Bouchercon Board for five years.

Jenn and Don are beloved by readers and acclaimed authors alike. Louise Penny, author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, said: "I've known Don and Jenn from when they had their store in Oakville, Ontario, a hundred years ago. Visiting them at the store, and certainly at their stand at conventions, is a highlight. Their mammoth hugs, and those smiles? Resistance is futile! Two more supportive, passionate champions of crime writing would be hard to find. And two nicer people, the real measure, impossible to find."

Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of Trust Me, the forthcoming The Murder List, and Bouchercon 2018 Guest of Honor, said: "They are always ready with a smile, a brilliant book suggestion, and a word of encouragement. The authentic and genuine passion Don and Jenn share for books, and the book business, and for the entire writing community is an absolute Inspiration. In moments of celebration and adversity alike, Don and Jenn—with their obvious delight in each other and pride for their beloved family—exemplify what we all wish to be: devoted, determined, unendingly good-natured, and committed to good writing and good books."

Jenn Longmuir commented: "The book community has been such a supportive group. The fans, the authors, the show organizers and the booksellers are all committed to helping each other and take a vested interest in one another's success."

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