Friday, August 29, 2008

Tuesday Mystery Readers Group List of Books

Mystery Readers International's East Bay mystery group has been meeting for over 35 years. Hard to believe! We meet every Tuesday night at my home in Berkeley. Sometimes we have a group of books with a theme (Music mysteries, Italian Mysteries, food mysteries, award winners), and sometimes we read just recent good books.

For the Fall group, I've put together a group of well written books that because of an ongoing theme that some will find disturbing will make for good discussion. Interesting that so many news mysteries have the same theme. I've tried to break up that theme with a variety of lighter or different themed books.

September 9 Ariana Franklin's The Mistress of the Art of Death
September 23 Tana French's In the Woods
September 30 Sally Wright's Pursuit and Persuasion
October 7 Jennifer McMahon's Island of Lost Girls
October 14 Laura Lippman's What the Dead Knows
October 21 Martin Suter's A Deal with the Devil
October 28 Lisa Lutz' The Spellman files
November 4 John Hart's The King of Lies
November 11 Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness

Group is open to everyone. Let me know if you'd like to join us.

Around the World in 80 Sleuths

In relationship to my panel at Bouchercon in Baltimore, Round the World with Janet and Friends, you'll want to check out this article in the Independent entitled Around the world in 80 Sleuths. This is one of the best lists I've seen. It's not all inclusive (one mystery per country or city), but 80! Great choices, too. I found several mysteries, new to me. My TBR list keeps growing. This list will also keep Mystery Readers Journal themes going for a long time to come.

By the way, the entire program for Bouchercon has just come out. Programming starts at 8:30, October 9 and runs through Sunday, October 12 at 1:30. There's 5 track paneling, so making choices will be very, very hard. Guess that's the price we fans pay. Too much of a good thing?

Mystery Author Sally Wright in Berkeley

Many of our local Bay Area readers and writers were lucky enough to attend a fascinating evening with Sally Wright, author of the Ben Reese mysteries. What a terrific evening. Not only did Wright talk about her series featuring a university archivist and ex-WWII scout, but she talked about her research. Sally Wright, a Renaissance woman, has written music, poetry, academic articles and fiction. Clearly not all research takes place in the library, she regaled us with stories of hawking. One of the Ben Reese books involves hawking, and Sally Wright went to Scotland where she went into the field with different types of hawks--and ferrets.

Sally Wright takes the academic mystery to a whole new level. Her books, set in the 1960s, are 'historical' as well as academic. Writing a series so close in time to Ben's military service keeps them topical and relevant in techniques and situations. Sally Wright told us she s
tarted writing the Ben Reese books after she badgered an archivist she knew into telling her what he'd done in the war. The contrast between what that was, and what he did when she knew him, made her want to create a fictional character with those internal contrasts.

Watches Of The Night is book 5 in the Ben Reese series (published by Severn House Publishers in hardback in the UK in March 2008 and in the US in June 2008). Code of Silence, book 6, is a 1957 prequel to the series, to be published by Severn House Publishers in hardback in 2008. Read an excerpt.

Sally Wright has created an original niche in themed mystery fiction. Add to that some great writing, and I can only advise you to go out and read the entire series. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mystery Readers Journal: Around the World in a Magazine

Writing about my Bouchercon panel yesterday, I thought about all the issues of Mystery Readers Journal that were set in other countries. Mystery Readers Journal is a quarterly themed hardcopy magazine, and all reviews and articles focus on the special theme.

I especially enjoy the Author! Author! section of MRJ. Mystery authors write about themselves, their books, and why they chose the theme of the issue to incorporate into their novels. MRJ is like a convention in a magazine. The last issue, Irish Mysteries, showed many sides of Irish mystery writing from noir to cozy . We've also had issues on France, Italy (2 issues), Scandinavia, the Far East, Pacific Northwest, Oxford, Canada, New England and the South (2 issues). Coming up MRJ will have issues on San Francisco, Africa, and Los Angeles. All this in addition to themes such as Art Mysteries, Theatrical Mysteries, Sports Mysteries, History Mysteries, etc.

Mystery Readers Journal is in its 24th year. Subscribe to MRJ

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bouchercon Panel

Just got my Bouchercon panel assignment, and it's terrific. Many of you know that I love mysteries set in other places. As Emily Dickinson wrote, "There is no frigate like a book/ To take us lands away." My panel aptly titled Been Around the World: Travel the globe with Janet and friends will do just that on Saturday October 11, 2008 at the World Mystery Convention in Baltimore, MD.

My panelists include Charles Benoit (India, Thailand, Egypt), Jason Goodwin (Turkey), Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland) and Michael Stanley (Africa). I can't think of a better group of mystery authors. Not only will we travel the globe together, but we'll also go back in history for some of the discussion.

So join me, as we travel the globe on October 11 in Baltimore. O.K. here's the bad news. This panel will start at 8:30 a.m., EDT. That's 5:30 am. PDT for me! If you're coming to Bouchercon, hope you'll join us. If not, I'm bound to write about it. Any questions you'd like me to ask this distinguished list of authors, let me know.