Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dermot Mulroney is new Jim Rockford

The Ausiello Files yesterday broke the news that Dermot Mulroney will play Jim Rockford on NBC's Rockford Files remake. Mulroney is best known as Julia Roberts' pal in MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING and has also appeared in ZODIAC and YOUNG GUNS. This will be his first regular television gig.

Rockford Files was one of my favorite series, and I often watched it with my Dad.. and usually discussed episodes. The series ran from 1974 to 1980.

Hat Tip to: Crimespree Cinema. Read  CrimeSpree Cinema comments HERE.

It will be interesting to see how this production goes. James Garner was Jim Rockford!

Mystery Bytes: Spies and History

Mystery Bytes for February 27: Spies & History

Rupert Penry-Jones plays Richard Hannay in the “Masterpiece Classic” version of “The 39 Steps.” This new movie, shown in Britain in 2008 and making its PBS debut tomorrow night (2/28/10), goes back to John Buchan’s 1915 novel  and not the Hitchcock 1935 film. Richard Hannay, the accidental hero who foils a German plot on the eve of World War I, is once again a former British spy rather than the somewhat clueless Canadian that Robert Donat played for Hitchcock.

Read the New York Times review HERE. Don't forget that The 39 Steps will be coming to Broadway later this year. Totally different take on the novel. Read the UK Independent Review HERE.

Speaking of Spies, Frederick P. Hitz, former Inspector General of the CIA, rates the Spycraft of his Four Favorite Agents in today's Wall Street Journal.

Rudyard Kipling's Kim
James Bond
George Smiley
The Jackal

Read the article HERE.

In the same Saturday Weekend Journal of the Wall Street Journal, David Rifkin picks his Favorite 5 Historical Mystery Novels that are mixtures of the scholarly and the suspenseful.

Alexandria by Lindsey Davis
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
The Emperor's Pearl by Robert Van Gulik
Slayer of Gods by Lynda S. Robinson
The Fire Kimono by Laura Joh Rowland

Read the article HERE.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mystery Bytes: Mystery news, reviews, links: February 26

Mystery Bytes is an occasional summary of news, reviews and links for the Mystery Community.

If you're reading this blog, you know that Mysteries Still Matter; nevertheless, you'll want to read Julia Keller's article Why Mysteries Still Matter in the Chicago Tribune.  In the article, she reviews
several mysteries including Belinda Bauer's Blacklands.  She writes:

Because mysteries have always been among the most popular of literary genres, coming out in favor of them is about as courageous as, say, standing firmly and four-square on the side of ice cream. Who's going to argue with you? But these days, mysteries do more than ever. They don't simply entertain. They are the places in which we routinely deal with issues of class, race, ethnicity and religious belief, and with questions about authority and responsibility.

Read the entire article HERE.

NewsBiscuit: The news before it happens...has a brilliant satire on fictional detectives. Detective with no personal demons sues for unfair dismissal. If you're a Jane Austen fan, you'll want to read this. Police Vow Crackdown on Jane Austen "coquette" culture.
The British Library online has an incredible new UK Web Archive, offering permanent access to thousands of UK websites for future generations. Those would be websites ending in .uk. Read the article here.

The website Court Reporter has a post on 50 Best Blogs for Crime & Mystery Book Lovers. We're not on it, but that's o.k. Most of my friends are. I also found a few I haven't seen. Definitely check this out HERE.

Julia Buckley at Mysterious Musings interviews UK author John Harvey on the publication of his 100th novel, Far Cry.

Ed Thomas: R.I.P., the force behind the wonderful mystery bookstore Book Carnival in Orange County.

Henning Mankell talks with Nicholas Wroe at the Guardian about his latest novel, the Man from Beijing and his writing life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Maltese Omelette Radio Show: February 27

This really sounds like fun, and sadly I can't make it. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, be sure and put it on your calendar. Perhaps we can impose on these folks to do it again. Maybe at Bouchercon or Left Coast Crime or at A Literary Salon at my home.

Saturday, Feb. 27th, 2:00PM: "The Maltese Omelette" Radio Show and Mass Signing!
An old-time radio drama, written by Michael Kurland especially for today's audiences, "The Maltese Omelette" is an homage to Dashiell Hammett and Mother Goose, and falls into that popular genre known as "fairy tale noir."

The cast will include writers PETER BEAGLE, CARA BLACK, MICHAEL KURLAND, DICK LUPOFF, MARTA RANDALL, and LINDA ROBERTSON. (All but Peter and Cara have stories in Kurland's Sherlock Holmes: The American Years.)

Authors will sign their books at this event. M is for Mystery,
86 E. Third Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Masterpiece PBS Productions: Sherlock & Aurelio Zen Mysteries

Very Exciting News: 

MASTERPIECE on PBS and BBC Worldwide Sales and Distribution, Americas have announced a major co-production deal that includes a new production, with the BBC, of Upstairs Downstairs. Upstairs Downstairs will air in the U.S. in 2011 as part of MASTERPIECE 's 40th anniversary season on PBS.

The deal includes Sherlock, a 21st-century spin on Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes novels, and three Aurelio Zen mysteries, adapted from the best-selling novels by Michael Dibden set in Italy.

"I'm so proud of this particular group of programs," says MASTERPIECE executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "These three series say everything about what MASTERPIECE aims to be: iconic, rich with wonderful actors, witty, literate, and timeless. I can't wait to see them all."

"These three co-productions offer a new spin on well-known, treasured stories and we're thrilled to be working with MASTERPIECE to bring them to life," says Matt Forde, EVP Sales & Co-Productions, BBC Worldwide, Americas. "A valued, long-standing production partner, our past collaborations with MASTERPIECE produced a number of critically acclaimed, award-winning-series--a testament to the success of our partnership."

An enormous success worldwide, the original Upstairs Downstairs won seven Emmys® during its run on MASTERPIECE THEATRE in the mid-1970s--including Best Actress for Jean Marsh, who will reprise her role in the new three-part series as Rose, the parlor maid. Dame Eileen Atkins, the co-creator of the original program, will also star. Screenwriter Heidi Thomas (Cranford) is setting the new Upstairs Downstairs in the same house at 165 Eaton Place in 1936, during the period leading up to World War II.

The thrilling new Sherlock series is a fast-paced, witty take on the legendary crime drama, now set in present day London and starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, The Last Enemy) as the eponymous detective. Martin Freeman (The Office UK, Hot Fuzz) plays his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson, and Rupert Graves (God on Trial, The Forsyte Saga) is Inspector Lestrade. Co-created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Coupling, Jekyll) and Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Crooked House), the iconic details from Arthur Conan Doyle's original books remain: same address, same names--and somewhere out there, Moriarty is waiting.

Rufus Sewell (The Eleventh Hour, Middlemarch, John Adams) will star as Italian detective Aurelio Zen in three episodes based on the popular mysteries by Michael Dibden. The series is being shot on location in Italy by Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind the acclaimed Wallander television series.

Upstairs Downstairs is a BBC/MASTERPIECE co-production; Sherlock is a Hartswood Films (Jekyll, Coupling) and MASTERPIECE co-production; Aurelio Zen is produced by Left Bank Pictures for the BBC in association with RTI (Mediaset Group), MASTERPIECE and ZDF with additional funding from BBC Worldwide, Ingenious and Lipsync.

Monday, February 22, 2010

L.A. Times Mystery Book Prize Finalists

Sarah Weinman announced the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists today.

Here's the shortlist for the mystery/thriller category that Sarah Weinman judged along with Oline Cogdill and Dick Adler:

Megan Abbott, Bury Me Deep (Simon & Schuster)
David Ellis, The Hidden Man (Putnam)
Attica Locke, Black Water Rising (HarperCollins)
Val McDermid, A Darker Domain (HarperCollins)
Stuart Neville, The Ghosts of Belfast (SOHO Press)

Winner will be picked on April 23 as part of the Festival of Books.

To read the entire list, go HERE.

Peter Robinson: Banks adapted for TV

In case you missed the news, Peter Robinson's Aftermath (2001) is going to be adapted for British TV. Gary Dobbs talks with Peter Robinson about the Banks books, and his involvement (or lack of) in the the two-part TV Drama, and his next novel, Bad Boy (due in August). Peter talks on his website about the ITV production and his new novel.  Stephen Tompkinson has been cast as Inspector Banks. I think that's great casting.

Want to see Peter Robinson in the next few months? He'll be at Sleuthfest in Florida, February 26-28; Bloody Words in Toronto, May 28-30 and Paris for the Salon Du Livre on the weekend of March 27; Horsens, Denmark for the Annual Crime Festival on April 10.  Might also be doing the London Book Fair in April. Check with local bookstores during those times for signings.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Strand Magazine Critics Awards Nominees

The Strand Magazine has announced its nominees for the 2009 Strand Magazine Critics Awards. Recognizing excellence in the field of mystery fiction, the Critics Awards were judged by a select group of book critics and journalists, including Ron Charles (The Washington Post), Julia Keller (Chicago Tribune), Tom Nolan (Wall Street Journal) Paul Harris (The Guardian), and Hallie Ephron (The Boston Globe).

Best Novel:

Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company)
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston (Ballantine Books)
Life Sentences by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)
The Renegades by T. Jefferson Parker (Dutton)
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Riverhead Books)

Best First Novel

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (Little, Brown and Company)
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (Penguin Press)
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin Books)
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley (Touchstone)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Harper)

The Strand bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award to Elmore Leonard for his huge body of mystery and crime novels which have been translated into dozens of languages and are regulars on the New York Times best-seller lists.

The awards will be presented in the categories of Best Novel and Best First Novel at an invitation-only cocktail party, hosted by The Strand on July 7, 2010, in New York City.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Michael Connelly Luncheon at Left Coast Crime

The latest Newsletter for Left Coast Crime 20: Booked in L.A. March 11-14, 2010, has just added a new event:

Michael Connelly will host Lunch (courtesy of historic Cole’s Restaurant) at Angels Flight. If you've signed up for LCC, let the organizers know if you plan to attend the reception at Angel’s Flight. Angel’s Flight is the world’s shortest railroad – approximately 298 feet long. The reception will be at the top of Angel’s Flight, right outside the Omni, the convention hotel.

It's not too late to Register for Left Coast Crime. Also offering day passes. Spread the Word.

Mysteries set at Angel's Flight: Alice Duncan's Angel’s Flight and Lost Among the Angels. Read an interview with Alice Duncan on Meanderings and Muses.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Agatha Nominees: Malice Domestic

gatha Nominees.
Winners will be announced at Malice Domestic.

Best Novel

Swan for the Money, Donna Andrews, St. Martin’s Minotaur
Bookplate Special, Lorna Barrett, Berkley Prime Crime
Royal Flush, Rhys Bowen, Berkley Prime Crime
A Brutal Telling, Louise Penny, Minotaur Books
Air Time, Hank Phillippi Ryan, MIRA

Best First Novel

For Better For Murder, Lisa Bork, Midnight Ink
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley, Delacorte Press
Posed for Murder, Meredith Cole, St. Martin’s Minotaur
The Cold Light of Mourning, Elizabeth Duncan, St. Martin’s Press
In the Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff, Minotaur Books

Best Nonfiction

Duchess of Death, Richard Hack, Phoenix Books
Talking About Detective Fiction, P.D. James, Knopf
Blood on the Stage, 1925 – 1950, Amnon Kabatchnik, Scarecrow Press
Dame Agatha’s Shorts, Elena Santangelo, Bella Rosa Books
The Talented Miss Highsmith, Joan Schenkar, St. Martin’s Press

Best Short Story
“Femme Sole,” Dana Cameron, Boston Noir, Akashic Books
“Handbaskets, Drawers and Killer Cold,” Kaye George, Crooked
“The Worst Noel,” Barb Goffman, The Gift of Murder, Wolfmont Press
“On the House,” Hank Phillippi Ryan, Quarry, Level Best Books
“Death Will Trim Your Tree,” Elizabeth Zelvin, The Gift of Murder, Wolfmont Press
Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel

The Morgue and Me, John C. Ford, Viking Juvenile
The Hanging Hill, Chris Grabenstein, Random House
The Case of the Poisoned Pig, Lewis B. Montgomery, Kane Press
The Other Side of Blue, Valerie O. Patterson, Clarion Books
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, Nancy Springer, Philomel

Congratulations to all of the Agatha nominees!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras Mysteries

Today is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras/Carnivale, whatever you call it, it's the perfect time and place for Murder! I've expanded my list from last year, but I'm sure I've left out a few classics. Any Julie Smith or James Lee Burke mysteries set during Mardi Gras?

The Mardi Gras Mystery by Henry Bedford-Jones
Death Visits Mardi Gras by J.J. Boortz
Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown
Murder Comes to Mardi Gras, Death Swatch by Laura Childs
The Mardi Gras Murders by Ricardo S. Dubois
No Mardi Gras for the Dead by John Donaldson
Shelter from the Storm by Tony Dunbar
The Big Uneasy-Terror Strikes Mardi Gras by Murray C. Fincher
The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan
Carnaval Capers by Jody Ford
Venetian Mask by Mickey Friedman
A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly
Mardi Gras Mamo by Greg Herren
A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag
The Mardi Gras Mystery by Carolyn Keene
The Mardi Gras Murders by Bristow C. Manning
Mardi Gras Eyes by Phyllis Morris
Masques by Bill Pronzini
Mardi Gras Murders by Phillip Scott
New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith

Mardi Gras Madness: Tales of Terror and Mayhem in New Orleans Edited by Russell Davis and Martin Harry Greenberg

To celebrate Fat Tuesday, you might want to have some Chocolate Chip Pancakes or Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie or Chocolate "Cupped" Cakes with Coffee & Chicory.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Horse Racing Mysteries by John McEvoy

The latest issue of the Mystery Readers Journal focused on Sports Mysteries. John McEvoy wrote an essay on Horse Racing Mysteries that is can be read at our online addendum. I thought I should reprint it here on Mystery Fanfare for lovers of the sport, especially in light of Dick Francis's passing yesterday. John McEvoy is the author of four horse-racing thrillers, five non-fiction books, and a book of poetry. He and his wife Judy live in Evanston, Illinois.

John McEvoy:

One of the features of what my parents considered my misspent youth was learning about the sport of thoroughbred racing and how to bet on horses at a bookie joint in my hometown of Kenosha, Wis. A buddy and I would finish our baseball games in the summer league for teenagers, then sneak down the dark stairway of a downtown office building into a basement pool room/horse room known as “The Hole.” There, under the permissive eye and occasional guidance of the owner and his adult clientele, we gained valuable knowledge regarding odds, past performances, parlays, round robins, bad beats, how to lose with at least some semblance of grace, and how to win without gloating too irritatingly. You could bet as little as 50 cents. The proprietor, a one-time Major League baseball player, did not see himself contributing to delinquency by tolerating our youthful presence. Far from it. “You gotta water the seedlings,” he often said, “so they can grow into full-fledged suckers.”

I can’t look back at my educational background and find any experience more instructive, or with cheaper tuition.

A year or two later, when we had driver’s licenses, my buddy and I headed south on summer afternoons to Arlington Park in nearby Illinois. An epiphany occurred. We realized that there was nothing more exciting than seeing your picks perform in person. We were hooked for life on the sight of these beautiful competitions. The sport of racing had captured us.

As Dick Francis firmly established years ago, thoroughbred horse racing is replete with mystery possibilities. The tremendous commercial success of Francis’s efforts lured many writers into this field, both in the United States (William Murray, Kit Ehrman, Stephen Dobbins, etc.) and the United Kingdom (John Francome, Lyndon Stacey, etc).

Racing is fertile ground for fertile imaginations for many reasons. Perhaps major among them is the microcosm of the world that racing is, with its very wealthy owners and breeders at the top of the economic scale, its poorly paid track workers at the bottom, and a vast middle class striving for success. Competition can be ferocious. As the great racing columnist Joe Palmer put it, “The professional horseman is a thorough individualist. He has to be, for his hand is against every man, and every man’s hand is against him.”

That horses are athletes is obvious to anyone who has ever seen one in motion. What is less well known by the general public is the strength, superior reflexes, and courage brought to the sport by jockeys. They are the only professional group I know of that, when going about their work aboard these l,000 pound animals that speed along at 40 miles an hour, are followed by an ambulance. Every race. And for good reason. Since 1940, when these records began to be kept in the U. S., 150 jockeys have died as a result of racing accidents. The most recent was Mark Pace, killed in October, 2009 at Blue

Ribbon Downs in Oklahoma. The current list of “permanently disabled” jockeys, many wheelchair- bound, measures 55.

As to the riders’ athleticism: there was a study conducted many years ago by the renowned California physician Dr.Robert Kerlan. One August, Dr. Kerlan brought America’s leading jockey to the training camp of the Los Angeles Rams professional football team. Bill Shoemaker (a very good amateur boxer in his youth) measured 4”11 and weighed between 95 and 100 pounds as he had for most of his terrific career that saw him win an astounding 8,833 races. Shoemaker was an excellent golfer and tennis player as well. Kerlan put all the football players and Shoemaker through the same testing drills—for agility, strength, reaction time, sprints. His conclusion: little Bill was, pound for pound and inch for inch, the best athlete of them all. “Shoe,” as he was known, won the world’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, four times.

My involvement with the sport began in 1953. It was the young age of television. One of the media’s athletic stars was a horse named Native Dancer, who seemed to be on every other Saturday afternoon winning races. He won 19 of them, only losing the Kentucky Derby in a photo. He intrigued me.

After a few years in daily journalism, and three years teaching college English, I went to work for “Daily Racing Form,” known as the Bible of horse racing. That stint covered more than three decades. In 2000, I wrote a non-fiction book called “Great Horse Racing Mysteries.” It won a Benjamin Franklin Award. Three other non-fiction efforts followed. Then, in 2004, Poisoned Pen Press published my first racing crime novel, “Blind Switch;” which involved horses being killed for their insurance values. My second novel, “Riders Down,” has as its villain a brilliant sociopath and serial killer who fixed races; it won another Franklin Award. “Close Call” followed in 2008. In it an Irish bookmaker attempts to forcibly take control of a Chicago area racetrack. In April 2010 will come my fourth racing thriller “The Significant Seven” from Poisoned Pen.
“Great Horse Racing Mysteries—True Tales From the Track” covered a dozen cases. They included the mysterious death of the Australian “wonder horse” Phar Lap in northern California, the deadly shooting of her horse-owning husband by a wealthy Eastern woman, the bridge-jumping suicide of America’s leading trainer after he had saddled a winner, the still unexplained 1948 disappearance of a leading jockey and his friends from a fishing boat off the Florida Keys, the theft in Ireland of the equine national hero Shergar.

The plots in my novels are sometimes suggested by real incidents, others by incidents that could have been real, considering the elements of intrigue that permeate racing. Although there is far more provable chicanery in banking and the stock market than in this sport, racing has the reputation as a haven for shady characters. What major enterprise involving money does not? But racing, as a source of important revenue to states and municipalities, is stringently policed. Jockeys step on the scales under the eye of an official before and after each race to insure their mounts carry the assigned weight. Winning horses and losing favorites have their blood and/or urine tested by chemists for illegal drugs. This applies to every one of the thousands of the races conducted each year in this country.

Any enterprise featuring fierce competition, major money, and sometimes jealous rivals, contains possibilities for mystery fiction. Some of my fiction was suggested to me by real happenings. Most of it is the product of my imagination. And that’s the fun we have, we racing novelists.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dick Francis: R.I.P.

Dick Francis, famous for this horse-racing mystery novels, died at the age of 89.

I only met Mr. Francis once. I interviewed him for the first Sports issue of the Mystery Readers Journal and for the Oakland Tribune many years ago. As you may know, journalists often interview their subjects in their hotel rooms. Such was the case. Dick Francis had ordered lunch for us both. When it was delivered, the waiter said, and for you, Mrs. Francis? Dick quickly and strongly said, "She's not Mrs. Francis." Just setting the record straight. Wonder if the waiter was confused...or had he seen and heard it all?

Dick Francis wrote over 40 best-selling novels selling over 60 million copies during his career. He was also a champion jockey in the 1940s and 50s and the Queen Mother's jockey. He rode over 300 winners.

Francis first published his autobiography in 1957, and his first thriller, Dead Cert, followed five years later. Forfeit, in 1968, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and Whip Hand in 1979 the Golden Dagger Award of the Crime Writers Association. A television series, The Racing Game, was based on his story Odds Against. In 2000, Dick Francis became a CBE.

Francis's most recent works, Dead Heat and Silks, were co-authored by his son Felix.

Very sad. Another mystery author leaves the community.

Read the BBC Obit HERE.

Read Marilyn Stasio NYT obit HERE.

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Weapons

What to give the mystery reader for Valentine's Day? I suggested giving him/her several Mysteries with a Valentine's Day Setting tied up with a box of truffles. Not what you had in mind? How about Chocolate Weapons? Guns, bullets, grenades or handcuffs? Over the years in my Murder on the Menu business I've had various chocolatiers make special chocolate for my events. Now there's one stop shopping at:

The Chocolate Gun come in three varieties: chocolate, solid chocolate swirl and hollow milk chocolate: a pound of chocolate in each pistol. Chocolate Bullets come in mini-chocolate ammo cans. More interested in larger shells? Chocolate Weapons sells chocolate peanut butter filled 12 gauge shotgun shells.

More interested in Grenades. Don't worry. They're available, too.

Check out the Chocolate Ammo Story, HERE.

Have a fun, mysterious and chocolaty Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chinese New Year Mysteries

恭賀發財 Gung Hay Fat Choy! This is the Year of the Tiger. Chinese New Year starts February 14, Valentine's Day. For the Valentine's Day Mystery list, go HERE.

Living in San Francisco, the City that Knows How, I put together a special mystery list last year for Chinese New Year! It was not an easy task. Yes, there was 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.

This year I've added a few titles to the list.

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
Year of the Dragon by Robert Daley
The Skull Cage Key by Michael Marriott
City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley
The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan

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.

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 on 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.

But I digress. Must be because of the paucity of titles I've been able to come up with. The Chinatown Parade is next week not this Sunday, but I'll be there to see the parade of dragons and hear the firecrackers, or at least I hope that's what they are. Real shots often sound a lot like firecrackers, and this is a mystery Blog.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Best Crime Novels of the Decade

Thanks to mystery maven Carol Fairweather for bringing my attention to this list and the accompanying reviews and interviews. I know you'll find it very enlightening.

February 5: from the Times Online: Crime fiction experts Barry Forshaw and Laura Wilson

Select the key crime novels of the decade? A very difficult task, especially since there has been a particularly impressive stream of top-notch crime fiction in the past ten years, with — because of the new trend for crime in translation — more diversity of place and style than ever before.

We haven’t necessarily selected the most "important" novels — importance, we feel, is not, of itself, important. Good writing is, and good storytelling. We have included those books that we feel to be innovative, and individual as opposed to generic, and also books that are just bloody good examples of their type.

Here's their list, but definitely go to the article to see their runners-up and links to the authors and reviews. I was pleased and surprised to see I've read most of the titles. I think this list would be great for our next series of books in our weekly Tuesday night Mystery Bookgroup. Since we've already discussed a few of them, we can always substitute some of Laura and Barry's runners-up. Also, nice to see a link to Adrian Muller's CrimeFest in this article.

2000 Nineteen Seventy-Seven by David Peace
2001 Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
2002 Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
2003 The American Boy by Andrew Taylor
2004 The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow
2005 No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
2006 The Broken Shore by Peter Temple Peter Temple
2007 Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand by Fred Vargas
2008 Blood from Stone by Frances Fyfield
2009 Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

What novels would you choose?

Barry Forshaw’s books include The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction, Italian Cinema, British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia and a biography of Stieg Larsson, The Man Who Left Too Soon. He is vice-chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, edits Crime Time and features on the ITV Crime Thriller profiles. Laura Wilson is the author of nine crime novels, including The Lover (winner, Prix du Polar Europeen) and Sutton’s War (winner, Ellis Peters Award); her latest novel, An Empty Death, is published in May by Orion, and her tenth book, Austerity, will be published later in the year by Quercus.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mystery Bytes: News, reviews, and info for the Mystery Community

Mystery Bytes: An occasional round-up of News, Reviews and Info for the Mystery Community

Ever think about checking out your books from the local shanty on the frozen ice? Library Journal reports that there is a branch known as the Library Shanty on a frozen lake near Minneapolis. It was put up last weekend as part of the Art Shanty Project, an annual community of temporary shelters put up be artists for four winter weekends on Medicine Lake. The one-room Library Shanty, called the Medicine Lake Branch, is the brainchild of artist Lauren Herzak-Bauman and was brought to fruition by a team. The collection of books, cataloged via LibraryThing, can be checked out for use in the shanty itself or taken out if the patron is from another shanty. There are 300 books in the library and people keep bringing more. The library is open every weekend for 4 weekends. Read More HERE.

Too cold or too singular an activity? Publishers Weekly reported that The Bookworm in Omaha, NE, is hosting a fundraiser for Haiti relief that, hopefully, will also bring over-30-year-old bookloving singles together. A portion of the $10 entrance fee at The Bookworm’s “Speed Dating by the Book” will be donated to The Haitian Earthquake Relief Fund.

Participants are asked to bring their favorite book with them to “start the conversation going” during four-minute segments between pairs, before the men line up on one side, women on the other, for the question-and-answer part of the evening. The moderator will ask each participant such questions as “What is the favorite book your mother read to you?” or “What was your favorite read in high school?” Read the rest of the article HERE.
Joan Smith on The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell in the Times Online. Read the Review HERE.
The Daily News reported that Katherine Heigl will play Stephanie Plum in One for the Money. Read the article HERE. What do you think?
Ever want to go inside the home of James Patterson? Probably not, but if you did, James Patterson's Beach Home is Up for Sale for $14.9 million. He calls it his "little cottage." For more on this or to make a bid read more. HERE.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 Hammett Prize Nominations

The International Association of Crime Writers (IACW) has announced the 2010 Hammett Prize Nominations:

Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott(Simon & Schuster)
Devil's Garden by Ace Atkins (Putnam)
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (Penguin)
The Long Fall by Walter Mosley (Riverhead)
The Way Home by George Pelecanos (Little, Brown)

IACW/NA awards The Hammett Prize annually for literary excellence in the field of crime-writing, as reflected in a book published in the English language in the U.S. and/or Canada. The winner receives a "Thin Man" trophy, designed by sculptor Peter Boiger. Go HERE for more information on IACW & The Hammett Prize.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day Mysteries

Here's another holiday mystery list for one of my favorite holidays, Valentine's Day. I'm posting early, so you'll have plenty of time to get these titles. Be sure and check out my Blog: DyingforChocolate for lots of Chocolate reviews, recipes and gift ideas. Of course, you can always give a bundle of the following mysteries, add a red ribbon and some chocolate truffles and you're good to go!

Valentine's Day Mysteries

Love Lies Bleeding by Susan Wittig Albert
Death of a Valentine by M. C. Beaton
The Broken Hearts Club by Ethan Black
Claws and Effect by Rita Mae Brown
How To Murder The Man Of Your Dreams by Dorothy Cannell
Red Roses for a Dead Trucker by Anna Ashwood Collins
A Catered Valentine's Day by Isis Crawford
Hard Feelings by Barbara D’Amato
A Catered Valentine’s Day by Diane Mott Davidson
Love With The Proper Killer by Rose Deshaw
The Saint Valentine's Day Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich
Happy Valentine’s Day by Michelle Fitzpatrick
The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming
St. Valentine's Night by Andrew M. Greeley
Caveman's Valentine by George Dawes Green
Bleeding Hearts by Jane Haddam
The Valentine's Day Murder by Lee Harris
Deadly Valentine by Carolyn G. Hart
Sugar and Spite by G.A. McKevett
Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz
The Valentine Victim by Dougal McLeish
Valentine Murder by Leslie Meier
Love You to Death by Grant Michaels
Cat Playing Cupid by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
The Body in the Attic by Katherine Hall Page
A Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell
Valentine by Tom Savage
Murder of a Pink Elephant by Denise Swanson
Daughter Of The Stars by Phyllis A. Whitney

Short Stories
Crimes of Passion with stories by Nancy Means, B.J. Daniels, Jonathan Harrington and Maggie Right Price
My Heart Cries Out for You by Bill Crider
Valentine's Day Is Killing Me edited by Leslie Esdaile, Mary Janice Davidson, Susanna Carr
Crimes of the Heart edited by Carolyn G. Hart
Valentine’s Day: Women Against Men-Stories of Revenge edited by Alice Thomas Editor

Still have time to spare, take a look at my Chocolate Blog, Dying for Chocolate, for recipes, chocolate news and more. Chocolate is the gift of choice on Valentine's Day, but add a mystery!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hardback Cover Softens the Blow: MacBook Cover

I love objects that are really other objects, trompe l'oeil and all that. I just saw the perfect cover for the MacBook and MacBook Pro. I fear my MacAir won't fit. :-(

BookBook is a one-of-a-kind, hardback leather case designed exclusively for the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. Available in Black or Red, BookBook brings three levels of security to the MacBook. First, the hardback cover and spine provide solid protection. Second, the vintage book design disguises the MacBook for security. And third, it's so cool!! Perfect for us bookish folks.

All you need to do is slip your Mac inside the soft, padded interior, zip it closed, and your Mac is nestled between two tough, rigid leather hardback covers for a solid level of impact absorbing protection. The rigid spine serves as crush protection for an additional line of defense. And, no two are alike.

Each BookBook is hand crafted and distressed with dual zippers with leather pulls, that at first glance look like bookmarks. Along with its classic looks, BookBook was designed to use as a traditional sleeve or to work while connected via elastic corner clips. The dual zippers give the option to charge your MacBook while it stays inside BookBook. BookBook is the perfect disguise.

"One of the neatest features of BookBook is the stealthy security it delivers. Tucked inside BookBook, no one will ever see your MacBook, even when it’s right under their nose. Sitting on a coffee table, dorm room or desk, BookBook looks like a vintage piece of literature, not an expensive laptop. It’s a great disguise and a simple way to reduce the risk of your MacBook getting stolen."

Just a few thoughts. It's more of a large old notebook than an old mystery, since there doesn't seem to be a name on the spine? I need to do a bit more digging. In the meantime, check it out and let me know what you think.

To order this Bookish MacBook Cover, go HERE.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ian Carmichael: R.I.P.

British actor Ian Carmichael who starred as Lord Peter Wimsey on the BBC mystery series died yesterday at his home in the Esk Valley on the North York Moors. He was 89.

He made his name in films for the Boulting Brothers including Private's Progress (1956), Brothers in Law (1957) and I'm All Right Jack (1959). During the 1960s and 1970s, he was successful in parts where he was cast as a loveable buffoon.

On television, his role as Bertie Wooster in BBC drama series The World of Wooster was particularly popular with audiences. This was followed by another well-watched role as Lord Peter Wimsey in several of the BBC drama series based on the mystery novels by Dorothy L Sayers.

Ian Carmichael was awarded an OBE in 2003.

Read Obits HERE and HERE

Cartoon of the Day

My friend Janet Appel sent this around yesterday. It really hit home. What about for you?

The strip is called Flo & Friends by Jenny Campbell. She's got my number.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Left Coast Crime 2010: New Panels & Events

Have you put off registering for Left Coast Crime 20, March 11-14, 2010. Wait no more. Lots of new events and authors have registered, and you won't want to miss this! Day passes also available, so if you're local, you can come for the day.

Left Coast Crime 20 takes over the Omni Los Angeles Hotel March 11-14 to honor best-selling authors Lee Child and Jan Burke. Bill Fitzhugh serves as toastmaster and I am the Fan Guest of Honor. O.k, that's another reason I think you'll want to attend.

Dubbed “Booked in L.A.,” the annual convention kicks off with a special tour of California Forensic Science Institute to study DNA, blood analysis, fingerprinting and evidence handling. The weekend features author panels, the presentation of mystery awards, an auction, book signings, and unique outings to experience L.A.’s “noir” literary history. Proceeds from the auction benefit the Los Angeles Public Library Foundation’s Adult Literacy Program.

Programming highlights include a reception hosted by author Michael Connelly at Angels Flight, a panel featuring the entire family of mystery-writing Kellermans, book launches for Stephen Cannell, Naomi Hirahara, Denise Hamilton, editor of Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics, and Gary Phillips and T. Jefferson Parker, editors of Orange County Noir. Among the mystery all-stars scheduled to appear are Robert Crais, Laurie King, April Smith and William Link, producer of Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.

Over 200 authors will be in attendance as well as representatives from publishing companies. The event is open to the public, and day passes are available. For registration and additional information, go to at

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Literary Salon: Edgar Nominees Russell Hill & Sophie Littlefield

Mystery Readers International NorCal welcomes Edgar Nominees Russell Hill and Sophie Littlefield at a Literary Salon on Thursday, February 18. If you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area that night, please join us. 7 P.M. Berkeley, CA. email me to RSVP and Directions.

Russell Hill has published poetry, essays, short stories and novels. His novel, Robbie's Wife (Hard Case Crime) was shortlisted for the Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America. The recipient of a Fulbright Award, he spent a year in England as an English teacher. He taught high school students for more than 50 years. An avid fly fisherman, he has written for outdoor magazines and is the author The Search for Sheepheaven Trout, a book about a two-year quest for a nearly extinct trout. Other novels include The Edge of the Earth and Lucy Boomer (Ballantine Books). The Lord God Bird (Pleasure Boat Studios), his most recent novel, was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for 2009.

Read my review of The Lord God Bird HERE

Sophie Littlefield is the author of mystery novels, short stories and young adult fiction. Her debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry (St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books), has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Her short story, “A Taste for It”was a finalist for the 2009 Derringer Award. Littlefield has also contracted with Delacorte Press to write a young adult series. In addition to her fiction work, Sophie Littlefield co-wrote a book with William M. Wiecek about Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (2005)

Read Lesa Holstine's review of A Bad Day for Sorry at Lesa's Book Critiques.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sports Mysteries: Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 25:4)

The latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal: Sports Mysteries (Volume 25:4) is now available. If you're a U.S. subscriber you should have received your issue by now. If you're an international subscriber, I'm still waiting for copies, and I will mail them out myself this weekend. We weren't happy with the overseas airmail service that our printer was using. I'll send an email when they go out. Thanks for supporting Mystery Readers Journal. Special thanks to Kate Derie, Associate Editor.

Go here for links to some of the articles in this issue: SPORTS MYSTERIES
To receive a hardcopy or full .pdf of this issue, go HERE.

Table of Contents: Sports Mysteries:

The Turf and the Gridiron in Detective Fiction by Gary Garner
Adventure Crime-A Wild Niche in Sports Crime by Jessica Simon
Four Legged Champions by M.E. Kemp
Crossword: Win, Place, and Show by Verna Suit
The Mystery of Sports by Mark Segal

Where the Cameras Can't Follow by Deborah Atkinson
The Dark Side of Sports by Michael Balkind
Training To Write by Rachel Brady
How I Became a Ski Bum at Midlife by Wendy Clinch
How I Became a Biker by Julie Compton
Running the California Coast by Alan Cook
Why Golf? by John Corrigan
Sports and the Mystery of My Improbable Biceps by Diana Deverell
Dreams and Sports by Mary Cnnningham
Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn
The Wide World of Equine Sports by Kit Ehrman
Who Killed the American Baseball Dream? by Robert Elias
A Diehard Cub Fan by Robert Goldsborough
Show Me the Money: A Murderous Sports Connection by Robert Greer
Minnesota Games by Elizabeth Gunn
The Surfing Detective mystery series by Chip Hughes
How Bad Golf Changed My Life by Roberta Isleib
Murder in the Bullpen by N.J. Lindquist
Whowonit? by Peter Lovesey
From Sportswriting to Crimewriting by Brad Parks
Why Write About Sports? by Twist Phelan
Surfing and Detective Work by Neil Plakcy
Any Chance of a Game? by Edward Marston
Chariots and Curses and Crashes, Oh My by Mary Reed
When Sports History Is a Sports Mystery by Linda L. Richards
Bitsy, Baseball, and Life by Vonda Skelton
A Murderous Fastball and a Killer Curve by Eric Stone
A Puckhead Born Susan Swift
When Sports Are Pilikia by Mark Troy
Cold Winter Nights Can Be Murder by Anne White
Sports Mysteries and Me by Mark Zubro
Driven by Simon Wood

Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine
In Short: In Sport by Marvin Lachman
The Children's Hour: Sports Mysteries by Gay Totl Kinman
Letters to the Editor
From the Editor's Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ralph McInerny: R.I.P.

Ralph McInerny died Friday at the age of 80. He was a prominent Catholic Author, Professor, and, of course, the author of the Father Dowling Mystery Series. He was a professor of philosophy and the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Father McInerny wrote 29 Father Dowling mysteries starting with Her Death of Cold and ending with the latest Stained Glass (2009). He also wrote 10 mysteries as Monica Quill whose detective was Sister Mary Teresa. Under his own name he wrote 6 mysteries as Andrew Broom, 13 mysteries with the University of Notre Dame as the background and two books with Egidio Manfredi as the detective. He also wrote standalone novels and short stories. In addition, he edited three short mystery story anthologies. Father McInerny contributed to the first Mystery Readers Journal Religious Mysteries issue.

The funeral will take place today.