Thursday, January 29, 2009

San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics

San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics, edited by Peter Maravelis, is the latest in Akashic Book's award winning Noir Series. This volume contains classic reprints from Ambrose Bierce, Frank Norris, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammett, Bill Pronzini, Joe Gores, Don Herron, Janet Dawson and many more. Living in the Bay Area, I was waiting for this second volume of San Francisco Noir. Don't miss it, and while you're at it, pick up San Francisco Noir which contains brand new stories from some of your favorite mystery authors.

Peter Maravelis, a native San Franciscan, programs the events calendar at City Lights Bookstore and was also editor of the first volume of San Francisco Noir.

To launch this new volume in the Bay Area, several booksignings/readings have been scheduled with Editor Peter Maravelis introducing different contributors.

February 14: San Francisco. Ha Ha Room, 875 Geary. 8 p.m. Contributors: Robert Mailer Anderon, Craig Clevenger, David Corbett, Don Herron, Jim Nisbet, John Shirley, Domenic Stansberry and more!

February 19: San Francisco. Noon., Stacey's Books, 581 Market. Contributors: Janet Dawson, Bill Pronzini, and Marcia Muller.

Feburary 24: Berkeley, 7:30 p.m., Moe's Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave: Contributors, Janet Dawson, David Corbett, Oscar Penaranda, and John Shirley.

February 28, Petaluma. 7 pm. Copperfield's Books., 140 Kentucky St.: Janet Dawson, Oscar Penaranda, David Corbett.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jar City on DVD

Thanks to Karen Meek of Euro Crime, I learned that Jar City, the film made from Arnaldur Indridason's fantastic crime novel, is now out on DVD. But can you find it? And will it play on your DVD player? Euro Crime mentions that it's out of stock at I didn't find it in the U.S..

Interested in Scandinavian Crime Fiction? The Guardian had a great article last week. Scandinavian Crime is hot! Now that's an oxymoron at this time of the year. The article says that we should expect more authors to be translated in the near future. No big surprise to those of us who enjoy well written, well plotted crime novels.

For an excellent list of Scandinavian authors who have been translated into English, go here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mystery Authors in Berkeley

At Homes. Mystery Readers International often hosts literary salons for visiting and local mystery authors. February looks to be a busy month. At Homes are open to fans, readers and authors. They are held at my home in the Berkeley/Oakland (CA) hills. Space is limited, so please RSVP. I will send you confirmation and directions.

Here's the line-up for some sensational At Homes!

February 11: Lisa Lutz, Gillian Roberts (Judy Greber), and Ona Russell. 7 p.m.
February 18: Leighton Gage 7 p.m
February 26: Peter Robinson 3 p.m. (not the earlier time)*

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chinese New Year Mysteries

恭賀發財 Gung Ho Fat Choy! This is the Year of the Ox.
I love holiday mysteries, as you probably know if you've been following this Blog. Living in San Francisco, the City that Knows How, I thought I'd put together a special mystery list for Chinese New Year! This wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Yes, there's the Nancy Drew, The Chinese New Year Mystery that's part of the Nancy Drew Notebooks ( by Carolyn Keene and Jan Naimo Jones), but I was looking for adult mysteries.

So here's what I've come up with. I'd love to find out which ones I'm missing.

Year of the Dog by Henry Chang
The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee by
Robert Van Gulik (7th Century china) "New Year's Eve in Lan-Fang"
Dim Sum Dead by Jerrilyn Farmer
Neon Dragon by John Dobbyn

And, a short story by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer: "The Lady Fish Mystery", EQMM, September/October 1996.
I seem to remember a mystery by William Marshall (Yellowthread Street mysteries) set during Chinese New Year, but I may be mistaken. Surely I've missed a title by S. J. Rozan?

This was a challenge. During my search I discovered some information about typical foods for Chinese New Year. Did you know that carp is a typical main course o
n New Year's Eve? Carp symbolizes a profitable year ahead. Now carp reminds me of another holiday completely, and one of my favorite holiday books, not a mystery, is The Carp in the Bathtub by Barbara Cohen, illustrated by Joan Halpern. Yes, gefilte fish is made from carp. Speaking of food, here's a great article from Salon on "The Carp in the Bathtub" by Alan Deutschman for all you foodies out there.

But I digress. Must be because of the paucity of titles I've been able to come up with. So, I'm off to
Chinatown where I can see the parade of dragons and hear the firecrackers, or at least I hope that's what they are. Let's face it, real shots often sound a lot like firecrackers, and this is a mystery Blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The U.S. President and Detective Fiction: Hail to the Chief

A new day is dawning, and I thought it would be a great time to put together a list of mysteries that feature U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates. This list is far from complete, so I welcome any additions.

Assassination Attempts:
Pursuit by James Stewart Thayer
Watchdogs by John Weisman
American Quartet by Warren Adler
Primary Target by Marilyn Wallace
Primary Target by Max Allan Collins
The Kidnapping of the President by Charles Templeton
Campaign Train (Murder Rides the Campaign Train) by The Gordons

The Kidnapping of the President by Charles Templeton
Line of Succession by Brian Garfield
Oath of Office by Steven J. Kirsch
We are Holding the President Hostage by Warren Adler

Presidential Disappearances:

The President Vanishes by Rex Stout
Missing! by Michael Avallone
The President's Plan is Missing by Robert J. Serling

Fixing the Election:
President Fu Manch by Sax Rohmer
The Big Fix by Roger L. Simon
The Ceiling of Hell by Warren Murphy
Atropos by William DeAndrea
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
The 13th Directorate by Barry Chubin
The Red President by Martin Gross
The Trojan Hearse by Richard S. Prather

Presidential Crisis:
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II
Vanished by Fletcher Knebel

The President as Detective:
Bully by Mark Schorr

The JFK Plot:
Too many to list, but...
Executive Action by Mark Lane, Donald Freed and Stephen Jaffe
The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry
Mongoose, RIP by William F. Buckley

Presidential Families:
Murder and the First Lady (and other novels) By Elliot Roosevelt (featuring Eleanor Roosevelt)
Murder in the White House (and other novels) by Margaret Truman (fictional White House daughter)
They've Shot the President's Daughter by Edward Stewart
Deadly Aims by Ron L. Gerard

An Anthology:
Mr President, Private Eye, edited by Martin H. Greenberg. Different historical presidents in the role of sleuth

Thanks to Jim Doherty who wrote a great article on Presidential mysteries in the Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 6:3-1990) O.P.

At Home with Reginald Hill

AT Home online is a feature of the Mystery Readers International website. Our latest At Home is with mystery author Reginald Hill, one of my favorite writers. His ability to write a unique and entertaining novel each time never fails to delight me.

Reginald Hill's Yorkshire police procedurals feature the blunt but intuitively brilliant Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and the more reserved Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, along with a cast of fully-imagined characters which expands satisfactorily with each new case. Some of the books in the series include: Dead Heads, A Clubbable Woman, On Beulah Height, Death Comes for the Fat Man.

Reginald Hill has received Britain's most coveted mystery writers award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement, as well as the Golden Dagger Award for the Dalziel/Pascoe series. He also writes another mystery series featuring Joe Sixsmith and pens thrillers under the name Patrick Ruell.

JR: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and how did you break the distressing news to your family?

RH: Age about 9, I discovered that people actually got paid for making up the stories I loved to read and I thought at that moment, that’s the job for me! After all, I’d been making up stories for years and telling them to my kid brother, and I never got a damn penny from him. Still haven’t.

I don’t think I mentioned it to my family at that stage. And by the time I “grew up” it was just such a part of my career plan that I probably assumed everyone knew about it.

JR: You have two very different series, and you also have stand-alone mysteries. Do you have a preference?

RH: I love the two series, D&P because they provide me with a ready made web of relationships and back stories on which I can build something really complex, Joe S because he provided me with a single voice focus which is often just what I need after a year in the toils of the latest D&P novel! But I should hate to have written nothing but series books. The pleasure of starting completely from scratch is great and I intend to keep on enjoying it.

JR: What are the attractions of writing series novels? The problems?

RH: I’ve touched on some of the pleasures in my previous answer. For me what makes a good series is familiarity without repetition. I hope I’ve never written the same story twice, though it’s perfectly possible to have a hugely successful series by just repeating the same formula over and over again. And no, I won’t name names! It’s a great trick if you can pull it off.

JR: What do you enjoy most about writing -- other than the great reviews, fabulous fans and gazillions of dollars (pounds)?

RH: The feeling that I am the captain of my soul, I am the master of my fate; in other words, you don’t have a boss checking your time-sheet and noting how long you take on toilet breaks. What about your publisher? you may ask. Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I have never had any pressure from that source. My main UK editor never hassles me and is quite happy to let me fill in the delivery date section of my contracts with times so far in the future, I shall probably be dead! If this makes me sound like a control freak, my defence is that it’s only myself I’m controlling. And when I finally feel able to hint at a delivery date, I pride myself on never missing it.

Of course the cheering crowds that gather whenever I appear in public, the column acres devoted to my genius in all the more serious journals, and the huge pantechnicons commissioned to bring the royalties to my door, do brighten the odd dull moment….

JR: When you first came up with Dalziel, you probably had no idea that you would write so many books about him. Had you known, is there anything about him you would have made different right from the start? Is so, what and why?

RH: Even if I had, he probably would have been exactly the same. In that very first book he was meant to be a foil to young Peter Pascoe, but when I glance back at it now, I am amazed how already on his first appearance he is assuming control!

JR: You often develop minor characters in your books, such as Sergeant Wield and Ellie Pascoe, how important do you think they are to sustaining your books?

RH: Hugely important because if they don’t develop, how can D&P develop? I hate it in novels, or in life, when function take the place of character. People are more than their jobs. See them once and we may see them as their function, but see them again and you start seeing the man or woman behind the façade. If you don’t you’re not dealing with people but automata.

JR: Why did you choose the surname Dalziel for your hero, a name that most readers have no idea how to pronounce?

RH: It is the name of a university friend from way back, the first guy I knew whose name was pronounced differently from the way it was spelled. He was – still is – a highly civilised, socialised, and cultured being, so naturally when in the first book I created a fat, flatulent, slob of a cop, I thought it would be rather amusing to give him my smooth friend’s name. Of course I’d no idea that nearly four decades later, Fat Andy would still be going strong!

JR: Why did you decide to start another series about Joe Sixsmith a black private eye? Can you answer this in terms of private eye and ethnic detective?

RH: The explanation has less to do with artistic creativity than artistic economy. A long long time ago I wrote a tv play which was successful enough to get me a commission to write another. I obliged with a comedy about a lathe operator who, having been made redundant (this was happening a lot in the early seventies; even more now, of course) uses his severance payment to set up as PI. I got paid for it, but the rotten devils never got round to putting it on. So when I was looking for an idea for a short story a few years later, I suddenly thought, that was a pretty decent plot I invented for that play of mine, seems a shame to let it gather dust forever, so I resurrected it and it got published as the first Joe Sixsmith story, Bring Back the Cat. I found Joe a very attractive character to write about, did a couple more shorts, and when it was suggested to me that maybe Joe could carry a full length novel, I thought, why not? Joe is a very English PI. I don’t think the traditional American model travels well. Joe doesn’t get into fights if he can find a quick exit, he doesn’t carry a gun, he doesn’t leave a trail of exhausted molls in his manly wake, he’s not even particularly good at the basic detective arts, but he knows right from wrong, has lots of good friends, and above all is blessed with serendipity.

Oh, and he’s black, but not in any heavy, social statement, self-defining kind of way. An ethnic detective? What’s one of them when it’s at home, man? I can hear him say.

JR: Has writing for you become easier or more difficult as the years progress?

RH: In many ways, more difficult. When I started, I could usually only see a couple of ways in which I could tell any story. But as I learned my art, I began to find more and more alternatives – and also to realise that in each case, there was only one way that was right, and I had to find it if I wanted to get to sleep at night. If asked forty years ago how I’d be wring my books now, I’d probably have said I hoped I’d type Chapter One than carry on right through for 100,000 words till I typed The End, with no need for alteration, addition, or excision. It hasn’t worked out that way! I revise more and I take longer than I did in those joyful salad days. Also, let’s admit it, I quite enjoy making life difficult for myself.

JR: Are you happy with the BBC screen adaptation of your Dalziel and Pascoe series? Were you consulted on who should play the parts of Dalziel and Pascoe?

RH: I thought some of the early episodes based on my actual books were excellent. They got some fine script writers and first rate directors on the job. Since they ran out of books (no way a novelist can keep up with the voracious appetite of a successful tv series!) and started working on their own story lines, the series has taken on a life of its own and exists in one of those parallel universes where much is familiar but everything is different! I have no problem with this; nor, I’m glad to say do most of my readers. I was always resolved that the tail was never going to wag the dog, and it hasn’t. But I’ve been eternally grateful to know that the tail is vigorously wagging and helping me and mine to put butter on our bread, and sometimes a bit of jam beside!

JR: What do you think has changed in crime fiction in the past fifteen years of so? In your work? In other's work?

RH: Things don’t change, they move in cycles. The wheel is constantly reinvented but it’s still a bloody wheel. A bit too bloody for my taste in some of the modern serial killer sagas! But the serial killer has been around for nearly a century now. Agatha has any number of them. I suppose that every age gets the crime fiction it deserves, but as basic human nature hasn’t altered much since we crawled out of the slime, it’s all a matter of custom, taste, and fashion. My own work has, I hope, matured in form, but in the end it’s all about good slugging it out with evil, both externally and internally.

JR: Your latest novel in the Dalziel/Pascoe series has been released in the U.S. with a different title than in the U.K. It's called The Price of Butcher's Meat. The British title, A Cure for All Diseases, is taken from a passage in Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne: "We all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure for all diseases." This is quoted in the front of the British edition and is very apt, considering that the novel takes place in the seaside town, Sandytown, that styles itself as a haven for those seeking conventional and alternative treatments for whatever ails them. There's quite a controversy going on about the U.S. Title. Did you have any say in the alternate title? What do you think about it? Why was it changed?

RH: My American publishers have changed both of the last two D&P titles. (Death Comes For The Fat Man appeared in the UK as The Death of Dalziel.) The argument in both cases was the American readers would have difficulty with my original titles. In the first case because they don’t know who Dalziel is or can’t pronounce his name anyway, in the second because they may be unfamiliar with the works of Sir Thomas Browne. I had no such concerns in either case. Indeed I felt the argument was certainly patronising and bordered on being offensive! But, let me repeat, this is what American sales “experts” were saying about their own people, so if you feel patronised or offended, they’re the ones you should write to! Why did I go along with them? Because they claim to be expert, and because I’ve always felt if you have a dog, you don’t bark yourself! On reflection, I think I was wrong, and from now on I’m going to be barking.

The Butcher’s meat quotation does have the attraction that it actually comes from Sanditon and I have to admit that when I was looking for a title as I wrote the book, it was the only real possibility I found in the Austen text. But when I ran it past my agent and English editor, they both threw up their hands in horror and suggested I should keep on looking. I then came up with A Cure for all Diseases which felt from the start as if it belonged to the book. The Price of Butcher’s Meat, I decided, wasn’t a bad title, but for a rather different kind of book. However, when my US publisher expressed reservations about A Cure… and learned that The Price of… had been an alternative, they jumped for joy and said it would really suit their market. In Canada however they said, no way, we want to stick with A CURE…

I’m entertained to hear there is controversy. But I hope nobody comes to blows!

JR: Do you have any wild and crazy hobbies or interests that would surprise your readers?

RH: Sciamimicry.

JR: Your house is on fire, you can save only two books: one by yourself, one by another author? Which would you choose?

RH: Mine; the one I’m working on stupid! Someone else’s; probably my first edition of Beddoe’s Death’s Jest Book.

JR: What are you working on now? The page or chapter? How does it fit into the vision for your book?

RH: My latest D&P which is now at the copy-edit stage. It’s called “Midnight Fugue” – everywhere!

JR: Question you wished I'd asked but didn't? Just the question. You don't have to give the answer unless you feel like it.

RH: “Can you make it to Stockholm this year to pick up the Nobel Prize for literature?”

Saturday, January 17, 2009

16 Random Things About Me

I've been tagged by J. Kingston Pierce of The Rap Sheet! This is part of a new meme (yes, it's a noun, look it up) which was born on Facebook. Here's the gist:

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 16 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 16 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

The rules say that I'm supposed to tag 16 people, but I'm tagging only four bloggers, Louise Ure (Murderati), Bill Crider (Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine), Declan Burke (Crime Always Pays), and Karen Meek (Euro Crime). I've asked them to participate, and I'll update you when they do... if they do. It's a bit of an ego-centric exercise, but a lot of fun.

So here goes. 16 Random Things about me:

1. I have two golden retrievers, Busby Berkeley and Topper. I’m a big fan of 30s movies. Actually I’m a big fan of movies and TV. I used to have a cat named Dashiell Hammett who lived to be 21. Now I have a cat named Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty). Nothing mysterious there. She’s a Siamese rescue.

2. I used to work with juvenile offenders and adolescent parents in the inner city. On the one hand it was a rewarding job since I taught “Human Survival Skills” such as filling out a welfare app, WICKS app, etc. On the other hand every Monday morning there was always one of the kids or one of their relatives or friends who had been shot over the weekend. I went to a lot of funerals. Murder in real life. 10 years in the trenches.

3. I once taught a class on Women in Science Fiction, although my heart belonged to mysteries. I knew I’d get a good sign up. The next class, though, was Women of Mystery, and it’s history from there. The mystery courses developed into Mystery Readers International, and our own local mystery group has been meeting for over 30 years—every Tuesday night.

4. The Mystery Readers Journal grew out of my participation on a Bouchercon committee. I did the publicity newsletter. Cut and paste. Those were the days.

5. I love to garden, and I have over 120 rose bushes on my property. It’s double-fenced to protect the garden from the deer.

6. I have a home in Bodega Bay, site of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. There really are an incredible number of birds there, including flocks of the infamous wild turkeys, as well as rare migrating birds. It’s a sleepy little town on the coast and not much different from when The Birds was made, except I’ve never been attacked by the birds.

7. I once drank Southern Comfort backstage with Janice Joplin at a concert.

8. I came to Berkeley for graduate school, and I never left. My mother used to say I was married to Berkeley, and I guess I am, Frank notwithstanding. Maybe I’m a bigamist, but Berkeley was my first love. It’s beautiful, politically diverse, full of bookstores. What’s not to love?

9. I’m a morning person, and I can get a good three hours in before most people wake up.

10. I’m a tea drinker, probably because my grandmother who lived with us when I was growing up was a tea drinker. She spent 10 years in London where she was married. I take my tea with milk and honey.

11. My favorite writers are usually the ones I’m reading right now, so that would include Peter Lovesey, Reginald Hill, Val McDermid and Peter Robinson. Of course, tomorrow that might all change. I did see a Philip Kerr and a Garcia-Roza and an M.C. Beaton peak out from the TBR pile. What a mix! I’m eclectic in my reading.

12. I have a Ph.D. in religion and literature, specializing in religious mystery fiction. Luckily there wasn’t as much out there at the time. I had a framed copy of an Albert Einstein letter that read, “I shall not become a PhD” hanging above my desk. Didn’t take his advice although it took years to finish. I guess I just got tired of being introduced as ABD. All but dumb? I’ve never really used it for anything, so don’t call me Doctor! Dr. Rudolph was my father.

13. When I was young, I thought I’d be a painter and live in a garret in Paris. Maybe in my next life.

14. I love my Macintosh. I’ve always been an Apple person, and I dedicated my dissertation to my Dad (a big mystery reader), Mystery Readers International and my Mac. I made a cake in the shape of my Macintosh 512 for my PhD party. Couldn’t have done it without my MAC.

15. I’m a TV junkie. I love sitcoms. I love TIVO! I can balance my love of the written word with TV and films. It’s not always easy, but it fulfills my senses.

16. I used to travel a lot, and I have had Fulbrights to India and Brazil. I now travel through books—there is no frigate like a book to take you miles away, and it's even more fun when it's a mystery.

Friday, January 16, 2009

John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, R.I.P

Another sad day in the mystery world. Sir John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, died today at the age of 85 afer a long illness. Sir John also adapted ITV's lavish 11-part serial Brideshead Revisted, one of my favorites. He was a barrister and a dramatist for several decades and appeared for the defence in the infamous Lady Chatterly's Lover obscenity trial in the 1960s. For a longer obit, go to BBC News and a February 16, 2008 story John Mortimer: on fighting ill health.

Mystery Writers of America announces Edgar Nominees

Mystery Writers of America just announced its Nominees for the 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television and film published or produced in 2008. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 63rd Gala Banquet, April 30, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Felony & Mayhem Press)
Blue Heaven by C.J. Box (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Night Following by Morag Joss (Random House – Delacorte Press)
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)

The Kind One by Tom Epperson (Five Star, div of Cengage)
Sweetsmoke by David Fuller (Hyperion)
The Foreigner by Francie Lin (Picador)
Calumet City by Charlie Newton (Simon & Schuster - Touchstone)
A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock (Random House - Doubleday)

The Prince of Bagram by Alex Carr (Random House Trade)
Money Shot by Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime)
Enemy Combatant by Ed Gaffney (Random House - Dell)
China Lake by Meg Gardiner (New American Library – Obsidian Mysteries)
The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli (Random House - Bantam)

For The Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz (HarperCollins)
American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century by Howard Blum (Crown Publishers)
Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It To The Revolution by T.J. English (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Hans van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez (Harcourt)
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale (Walker & Company)

African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey (McFarland & Company)
Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories by Leonard Cassuto (Columbia University Press)
Scene of the Crime: The Importance of Place in Crime and Mystery Fiction by David Geherin (McFarland & Company)
The Rise of True Crime by Jean Murley (Greenwood Publishing – Praeger)
Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories by Dr. Harry Lee Poe (Sterling Publishing – Metro Books)

"A Sleep Not Unlike Death" - Hardcore Hardboiled by Sean Chercover (Kensington Publishing)
"Skin and Bones" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by David Edgerley Gates (Dell Magazines)
"Scratch of a Woman" - Hardly Knew Her by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
"La Vie en Rose" - Paris Noir by Dominique Mainard (Akashic Books
"Skinhead Central" - The Blue Religion by T. Jefferson Parker (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)

The Postcard by Tony Abbott (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Enigma: A Magical Mystery by Graeme Base (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff (Random House Children's Books – Wendy Lamb Books)
The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow by Riford McKenzie (Marshall Cavendish Children's Books)
Cemetary Street by Brenda Seabrooke (Holiday House)

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (Random House Children's Books – David Fickling Books)
The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo (Harry N. Abrams Books – Amulet Books)
Paper Towns by John Green (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton Children's Books)
Getting the Girl by Susan Juby (HarperCollins Children's Books - HarperTeen)
Torn to Pieces by Margo McDonnell (Random House Children's Books – Delacorte Books for Young Readers)


The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza (Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, based on the story by Robert Lewis Stevenson (Arizona Theatre Company)
Cell by Judy Klass (International Mystery Writers' Festival)

"Streetwise" – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Paul Grellong (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
"Prayer of the Bone" – Wire in the Blood, Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (BBC America)
"Signature" – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Judith McCreary (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
"You May Now Kill the Bride" – CSI: Miami, Teleplay by Barry O'Brien (CBS)
"Burn Card" – Law & Order, Teleplay by David Wilcox (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)

The Bank Job, Screenplay by Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (Lionsgate)
Burn After Reading, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Focus Features)
In Bruges, Screenplay by Martin McDonagh (Focus Features)
Tell No One, Screenplay by Guillaume Canet, based on the book by Harlan Coben (Music Box Films)
Transsiberian, Screenplay by Brad Anderson & Will Conroy (First Look International)

"Buckner's Error" - Queens Noir by Joseph Guglielmelli (Akashic Books)

James Lee Burke
Sue Grafton

Edgar Allan Poe Society, Baltimore, Maryland
Poe House, Baltimore, Maryland

Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Killer's Wife by Bill Floyd (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer (Random House - Doubleday)
A Song for You by Betsy Thornton (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Fault Tree by Louise Ure (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gladys Mitchell Mysteries Reissued

Just had news that Minnow Press (UK) is reissuing the classic detective novels of Gladys Mitchell. The Worsted Viper is the latest out from Minnow Press. Others in the series: Printer's Error and Brazen Tongue. I'm a big fan of Gladys Mitchell, a Golden Age writer of crime fiction. I don't think her books are dated; rather, they evoke a by-gone era. Good plotting, strong characters and suspense.

Several other publishers are bringing back the books of Gladys Mitchell. Look for When Last I died (1941), Tom Brown's Body (1949), and The Saltmarsh Murders (1932) coming from Vintage Press in April 2009. The Longer Bodies (1930) will be out from Rue Morgue Press.

For more information on Gladys Mitchell, go to The Stone House, a Gladys Mitchell Tribute site. Rue Morgue also has a wonderful essay on their site about Gladys Mitchell.

Holiday Mysteries: Call for Articles

The next issue of the Mystery Readers Journal will focus on Crime for the Holidays. This includes any holiday: Thanksgiving, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Passover, you name it. If you have a book or story set during a holiday or in which a holiday is a major theme, consider writing an Author! Author! essay for MRJ. 500-2500 words, first person, upclose and personal about yourself, your books and the holiday connection. Think of it as chatting with friends, readers and other writers in the cafe or bar. Be sure and add a 2-3 sentence bio/tagline and snail-mail address. Deadline is February 15.

I'm also looking for articles, reviews, and names and emails of authors you think should be included.

Mystery Readers Journal is in its 25th year. It's a hard-copy quarterly, with a web presence, as well. To see sample articles from past issues, go to:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Top Ten Stupid Things Cops Do in Books

Robin Burcell, mystery author, artist and former cop, was a guest at The Kill Zone
last week. Her topic: Top Ten Stupid Things Cops Do in Books. Readers and writers will find this very useful. We all want the cop stuff to be right, but so often it isn't. Love to hear your comments. Robin's latest mystery is Face of A Killer.

Robin Burcell will be at Left Coast Crime 2009 in Hawaii with a special presentation on March 9. You won't want to miss it. Haven't signed up for Hawaii yet? Don't wait. Programming is just about complete, so if you want to be on a panel, sign up now. Airfares to Hawaii have come down drastically. Join readers and writers and industry professionals at the Unconventional Conventional. Say Aloha to Murder.

History Mysteries Between the Wars

Sarah Weinman of Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind fame has a great article in the Barnes & Noble Review today. Death Between the Wars: Historical Mysteries Part IV is the final installment of a four-part series on history mysteries. She mentions Charles Todd, Jacqueline Winspear, Rennie Airth and many other of my favorite mystery authors.

I just finished Charles Todd's latest in the Ian Rutledge Series (11) A Matter of Justice. Another solid entry in this terrific series. Charles Todd is the pseudonym of a mother and son writing team. I was lucky enough to sit between the two at the Harper Collins dinner at Bouchercon in October. What a treat. There's a great 'interview' with Ian Rutledge, the main character/detective in the novels on the Charles Todd Website. For more on how this duo writes together and how they research historical details, go to: J.Kingston Pierce's interview in January Magazine and an interview on the HarperCollins website.

Fiction Reading on the Rise: Good news

At last there's some good news. The National Endowment for the Arts Report Found Fiction Reading on the Rise. Yahoo! Of course, if you read ONE book a year that counts as reading. But reading is reading, and hopefully this study and the attention it's getting will send some kind of message to publishers. Hope springs eternal.

On the subject of reading, Mystery Readers International and Mystery Fanfare has a listing of mystery reading groups all over the world. Check to see if your group is listed, and if not, let me know, and I'll add it. Authors enjoy talking to book clubs, and I know many use our listing to let groups know when they'll be in their area. Send name, contact, location, and time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Top Mysteries Read in 2008

Kerri Smith of Mysteries in Paradise ran a great campaign of top books read in 2008. Unlike other surveys, the books didn't have to have been written in 2008. Over 40 crime fiction readers participated including me. See the results at Mysteries in Paradise.
Top Books:
7 - SHATTER by Michael Robotham
6 - WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS? by Kate Atkinson
5 - THE COLD DISH by Craig Johnson
4 - NO TIME FOR GOODBYE by Linwood Barclay
3 - A SLIP OF THE KNIFE by Denise Mina
3 - BLACK SECONDS by Karin Fossum
3 - CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Check out the rest of the entries at Mysteries in Paradise. Great links to other blogs, info, and more!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Police Procedurals 2008: Hawaii 5-0 Award

Left Coast Crime 2009 (March 7-12) will feature three awards. The Lefty (Humorous Mystery), The Bruce Alexander Historical Award and the Hawaii 5-0 (Police procedural). Kate Derie and David Cole proposed the Hawaii 5-0 as a special award this year only, so it's not surprising that Kate Derie of Cluelass fame put together a Fabulous List of Police Procedurals that came out in 2008. I love lists, and this is a terrific one! Thanks, Kate. Great reading for everyone.

Anyone (not just LCC registrants) can nominate a book for the Hawaii 5-0 award. Nominations are due by January 15 and should be sent to: The ballot will be out shortly thereafter.

Airfares are coming down, and now's the time to join Left Coast Crime 2009 on the Big Island of Hawaii! 80 degrees in March. Great programming, interviews, luau, 15 minutes under the palms, a play, and so much more. Rhys Bowen and Barry Eisler, Guests of Honor. Lee Goldberg, Toastmaster. Say Aloha to Murder!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

I rarely come across a book that I finish in two sittings. Dog On It by Spencer Quinn is one of those books. I had an ARC that came highly recommended, but for some reason it was buried in my TBR stack. I'm so glad I dug it out. This is a book for mystery lovers, and especially for mystery and dog lovers. The book is narrated by Chet, a dog who didn't quit complete his police training. "I'd been the best leaper in K-9 class, which had led to all the trouble in a way I couldn't remember exactly, although blood was involved". Bernie, a low-key P.I. is his person/partner. Let me tell you right now, though, that this is not a cute cozy novel. Chet is a wonderful narrator who assists his partner, but not in a super-hero way. The mystery is good, the writing is superb, and Chet is a dog after my own heart. He's easily distracted in a doggy way by smells, words, and phrases. He has a hard-boiled voice and is prone to mischief.. well he's a dog, after all. Both Chet and Bernie are flawed in a way that we love our hard-boiled heroes.

The mystery itself is quite good with all the clues and plotting right on. This book will make you think and laugh. I'm looking forward to the further adventures of Chet and Bernie. Coming from Atria Books (Simon and Schuster) in February 2009.

What a great way to start the year!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Likes and Dislikes in Crime Fiction/Mystery Reads in 2008

I came across an interesting blog today-new to me. The January 2 entry was on Likes and Dislikes in Crime Fiction: 6 of the Best and 6 of the Worse. Have a look and let me know what you think. The topics: Originality, Suspense, Character, Intelligence, Humor, Learning Something New are all things we've discussed in our own mystery group. Those are the six things the blogger of It's a Crime likes. The dislikes: Hype, misleading blurbs, the Rubbish Synopsis, Over-use of research, The gorefest, the Do Lesigans write the most horrific crime fiction? debate. (new to me, but apparently a topic in the UK). This original list was found here. Crime Scraps won Barbara of Scandinavian Crime Fiction's award for Critical Perspicacity.

Mysteries in Paradise has a fun list thing going. What were your top 2008 mystery reads. The books don't need to have been published in 2008. Some great lists. Deadline to add your list to these lists is January 4. Check out Kerrie's Blog. Lots of great books to add to your TBR pile.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mystery Readers News

Just a reminder that the local Mystery Readers International bookgroup (East Bay) will be reconvening next Tuesday, January 6, in Berkeley. Everyone welcome--even if you're just passing through San Francisco. List of Books for Book Group starting with K.C. Constantine's The Man Who Like Slow Tomatoes.

At Homes (Literary Salons): In addition to our regular Tuesday night book group, we host visiting authors. Coming up: Peter Robinson, Ona Russell, Judy Greber (Gillian Roberts), Leighton Gage--all in February.

March: Left Coast Crime on the Big Island of Hawaii, 7-12, 2009. Check out Toby's Blog: Say Aloha to Murder for tips on what to bring, where to go, car rentals, restaurants, etc.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Donald E. Westlake, R.I.P

What a sad ending to a sad year. Donald E. Westlake, Award wining mystery novelist and prolific writer, died New Year's Eve at the age of 75. For the full New York Times article, go here. Donald Westlake was an MWA Grand Master, won three Edgar Awards and an Academy Award nomination for screenplay writing.

I was lucky enough to spend time with him in Cuba with the International Association of Crime Writers several years ago. He was a funny and gentle man.

His books are terrific. Some make you laugh, some put you on the edge of your seat. He had the ability to write in different voices and styles.

75! Way too young.

His next novel, Get Real, is scheduled to be released in April 2009.

Sarah Weinman has a wonderful blog today with links to Westlake Tributes, articles and interviews. Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.