Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Fool's Day Mysteries List & International Edible Book Festival

Tomorrow may be April Fool's Day, but it's no joke that there are several mysteries set at April Fool's! Let me know if I've forgotten any titles.

The first of April, some do say,
Is set apart for All Fools' Day.
But why the people call it so,
Nor I, nor they themselves do know.
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment.
--Poor Robin's Almanac, 1790

April Fool by William Deverell
The April Fool by Robert J. Fields
April Fool Dead by Carolyn G. Hart
April Fool's Day Murder by Lee Harris
A Remarkable Case of Burglary by H.R.F. Keating
April Fool's Day, A Novel by Josip Novakovich
The New Aventures of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 3: "The April Fool's Day Adventure" and "The Strange Adventure of the Uneasy Chair" by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green

Don't miss the results of the Edible Book Festival at the University of Texas (Austin) School of Information.  Or check out the International Edible Book Festival site: Books2Eat.

The International Edible Book Festival is held annually on April 1st. The following countries have held this festival: Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, United States of America, Russia and Hong Kong. Every year the list expands.

April 1st is the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), famous for his book Physiologie du goût, a witty meditation on food. April Fool's Day is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the "books" are consumed on the day of the event. This ephemeral global banquet, in which anyone can participate, is shared by all on the internet and allows everyone to preserve and discover unique bookish nourishments. This festival is a celebration of the ingestion of culture and a way to concretely share a book; it is also a deeper reflexion on our attachment to food and our cultural differences.

Everyone is invited, individually and collectively, to this world banquet where delicious, surprising bookish foods will be consumed.

If you search the web, you'll find many festivals, especially at libraries and library schools. Great Photos!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thriller Writers Award Nominees

2010 Thriller Awards Finalists announced by ITW (International Thriller Writers).
Congrats to all!

Best Hard Cover Novel:
VANISHED by Joseph Finder
LONG LOST by Harlan Coben
FEAR THE WORST by Linwood Barclay
THE NEIGHBOR by Lisa Gardner
THE RENEGADES by T. Jefferson Parker

Best Paperback Original:
SHADOW SEASON by Tom Piccirilli
URGE TO KILL by John Lutz
THE COLDEST MILE by Tom Piccirilli
NO MERCY by John Gilstrap

Best First Novel:
FRAGMENT by Warren Fahy
DEAD MEN'S DUST by Matt Hilton
DRACULA: THE UN-DEAD by Dacre Stoker
RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL by Jamie Freveletti

Best Short Story:
A STAB IN THE HEART by Twist Phelan
ICED by Harry Hunsicker
BOLDT'S BROKEN ANGEL by Ridley Pearson

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Crime Fiction: A List of Mysteries

Being a list-maker, it's no surprise that I have an Easter Crime Fiction list. This list has been greatly expanded from last year, but, as always, I welcome any additions.

Antiques Bizarre by Barbara Allan
Death and the Easter Bunny by Linda Berry
Easter Weekend by David Bottoms
The Last Enemy by Grace Brophy
Do You Promise Not To Tell? by Mary Jane Clark
Little Easter by Reed Farrel Coleman (I love Reed's books, and I must confess I haven't read this-yet. Not sure how much Easter is in it. Reed?)
Last Easter by Caroline Conklin
Holy Terrors by Mary R. Daheim
The House of Death by Paul Doherty
Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans
Precious Blood by Jane Haddam
The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Do Not Exceed the Stated Dose (short stories) by Peter Lovesey
And Four To Go aka The Easter Parade by Rex Stout

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Passover Mysteries

With the Jewish holiday of Passover just around the corner (starts sundown March 29 this year), I thought I'd update my Passover Mysteries list from 2009, but I have only one two new entries.

Since it's such a short list, I'm supplementing with a few Passover Chocolate Recipes.

Mystery Author Rabbi Ilene Schneider Guest Blogs Mystery and Passover Chocolate recipes on my other blog   Don't miss my flourless chocolate cake recipe. It'll take about a half hour to make and bake. No mystery there.  And last, a great recipe for Chocolate Matzo Brittle. Fabulous and easy.

Passover Mystery Novels 

The Passover Murder by Lee Harris
The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield
Never Nosh a Matzo Ball by Sharon Kahn
The Samaritans' Secret by Matt Beynon Rees
Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home by Harry Kemelman
The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia

Love to have more books to add to this list. Feel free to comment.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Peter May: Literary Salon in Berkeley

Peter May: Literary Salon in Berkeley (CA) Wednesday, April 7, 7 p.m.

Thriller Writer Leads a Double life

International thriller writer Peter May has been described as the Marlon Brando of the writing world. Just as Brando was famous for method acting, May is renowned for taking his research seriously and never writes about a subject or a place, unless he has experienced it personally.

This year, to satisfy his growing following of fans, May's U.S. publishers are taking the unprecedented step of releasing 3 brand new hardcover and 5 paperback editions of his China Thrillers and Enzo Files series along with his new standalone thriller Virtually Dead

Behind the Scenes with the Chinese Police

For his award-winning China Thrillers featuring a Beijing detective, and an American pathologist from Chicago, May managed to gain the trust of the Chinese police and got behind the scenes at their forensic science laboratories, pathology departments and morgues, even shadowing the work of Beijing homicide cops. The research paid off - a hit with critics and readers, his China Thrillers are a success around the world, winning May the prestigious French Prix Intramuros in 2007

From Michelin-Starred Kitchens to Sewers in France

May's critically-acclaimed Enzo Files series featuring a Scottish forensic scientist working on French cold cases has taken him from the heights of a 3-star Michelin chef's kitchen and the elite college where future presidents are groomed, to the depths of the French sewers and beyond. He explored a network of catacombs filled with skeletons, hundreds of feet under Paris in. When one story was set among French vineyards, he even took and passed a course in wine-tasting and was actually inducted as a "Chevalier" of French wine.

Leading a Second Life

His latest book, the standalone thriller, Virtually Dead involved his most in-depth research to date. May opened a private detective agency, and spent a year under another identity working on real cases and mastering surveillance techniques. Just one thing in it was in the online world of Second Life. The world was virtual but the people and their cases, were real, and May is proud of his 100% success rate.

May not only gained an insight into the life and work of a private detective, but discovered how important the online virtual world is to some of its residents.

"The cases bring you into very intimate contact with clients and their lives.  People fall in love, get married, and move across the real world to be closer to their 'virtual' partners.  These relationships become real in both worlds. And virtual infidelity hits people just as hard as in real life," says May. "The private detective is the only person with whom they can discuss their fears.  And sometimes the truth is the thing they fear the most.  I was unprepared for just how involved I would get.  Sometimes you feel you hold people's lives in your hands."

Peter May is the award-winning author of 15 novels including two series: The China Thrillers, and The Enzo Files, his standalone thriller Virtually Dead set in the online world of Second Life was published in January 2010.

Prior to concentrating on his novels, Peter established himself as one of Scotland's most prolific and popular television dramatists, garnering more that 1,000 credits in 15 years, he was responsible for the creation of several prime-time drama serials for the BBC and Independent television in the UK.

Born in Scotland, he now lives in France.  Frequent research trips; advisors at the top of their fields in criminology, pathology, genetics, politics, from around the world; and high-speed internet keep him well-connected from his isolated French farmhouse.

RSVP to attend this Literary Salon in Berkeley. Can't make it? Check out Peter's U.S. Tour.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Robert Culp: R.I. P.

Robert Culp, the star of I Spy, died today. He was 79.

I Spy aired from 1965 to 1968 and was a television milestone in more ways than one. Its combination of humor and adventure broke new ground, and it was the first integrated television show to feature a black actor (Bill Cosby) in a starring role.

Culp played Kelly Robinson, a spy whose cover was that of an ace tennis player. In real life, Culp actually was a top-notch tennis player who showed his skills in numerous celebrity tournaments. Cosby was fellow spy Alexander Scott, whose cover was that of Culp's trainer. The pair traveled the world in the service of the U.S. government.

Culp and Cosby also costarred in the 1972 movie Hickey and Boggs, which Culp also directed. This time they were hard-luck private detectives who encountered multiple deaths. Audiences who had enjoyed the lightheartedness of I Spy were disappointed, and the movie flopped at the box office.

After years of talking up the idea, they finally re-teamed in 1994 for a two-hour CBS movie, I Spy Returns.

I always liked Culp, in lots of roles including Bob & Carol &Ted &Alice. It was sad to hear that he died, and possibly of an accident. No foul play suspected, but he collapsed outside his Hollywood home and hit his head. He may have had a heart attack, but the head injury may have been the main factor. 

Read the NYT Obit HERE.
Read the LA Times Obit HERE.

Read Duane Swierczynski's post on Secret Dead Blog from March 18 about Hickey. Boggs. On The Big Screen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Partners in Crime: Eric Beetner & JB Kohl

Our Partners in Crime Series ( authors who collaborate) has been very informative. So far we've has Guest Blogs from Mark Zubro, Bill Crider, Charles Todd (Caroline & Charles), Mary Reed & Eric Mayer, Max Allan Collins, David Corbett, Michael Stanley, Jeffery Deaver, Reed Farrel Coleman, and Charlotte Elkins.  Today I welcome JB Kohl and Eric Beetner. Eric Guest Blogged on my Dying for Chocolate blog, so it's only fitting that he guest blog here, too.

JB Kohl and Eric Beetner are the co-authors of One Too Many Blows To The Head, which Megan Abbott (Queenpin, Bury Me Deep) said, "feels like a long-lost pulp you find in a favorite bookstore. A delicious mix of classic hardboiled grit and the heart-heavy world of film noir, it's a one-sitting read that sends you back to a lost time of fight halls, Chicago boys and last chances." They have enjoyed a successful collaboration despite never having met face to face or even speaking on the phone. JB Kohl is also the author of the novel The Deputy's Widow and Eric Beetner is author of numerous short stories. They are currently at work on the sequel to One Too Many Blows To The Head. More info on each can be found at and

Eric: Whenever I mention that JB Kohl and I have never met, despite having written a novel, One Too Many Blows To The Head, together, people are both fascinated and confused. How could we pull this off? How could we combine such a detailed creative process as writing a book without constant meetings and communication?

The short answer: it was easy.

We communicated quite frequently during the process. From that first email I received through the Film Noir Foundation website I manage asking to link our site to so readers of her first novel, The Deputy’s Widow, could get a flavor of the Noir-infused world she writes about to my sending off of a short story I’d written to the almost daily notes and correspondences during the actual writing process. We “talked” a lot but only electronically. It was a hell of a lot easier than the era we were writing, 1939 Kansas City, where a collaboration like this would have taken place over Western Union.

JB: I agree. It was easy.

Somewhere in all those e-mails it hit me that Eric and I think a lot alike. Our styles are different, but complementary, and I think we both understood that. It made working together appealing. I guess it never occurred to me to ask if it would actually work or if we could actually pull it off. We just wrote.

It started with an outline Eric sent to me detailing the story of boxing manager Ray Ward. I wove the story of down-and-out police detective Dean Fokoli into that outline. And then we got to work.

Eric: I'd say we had a solidly structured but loose outline. We knew exactly where we were going but I've said it before about collaborating - the best thing is getting to both write and read a book. Each time I got a new chapter in the inbox it was a surprise. I knew we were on to something good because I could respond as a reader for much of it and I was loving what I was reading.

A great thing about not knowing each other beyond cyberspace was the lack of pressure. If at any point it fell apart or we reached creative differences it would have been easy to walk away. I'm so glad we didn't and I'm happy to say it has carried over into our second book which we are in the middle of right now.

JB: I agree. I never felt like writing the book was something I had to do. It never felt like work; rather, it was something I looked forward to working on. Once the outline was done and we got down to work, we wrote in alternating chapters. I looked forward to each of Eric's chapters and following it up with one of my own.

During the process we gave each other notes: things like "this needs more action," or "if you feel like it, would you mind using this dialog?" -- that type of thing. And it was fun to get that kind of immediate feedback and input during the writing process.

I also really liked getting to write about Ray Ward. He's one hundred percent Eric's character, but I've had the opportunity to write about him from Fokoli's perspective. That's an incredibly interesting thing to do and I think it's easy to overlook how unusual something like that is. When I wrote those scenes I was nervous about getting any of it wrong . . . but it was so much fun to do. It was also really interesting to read scenes written by Eric about Fokoli or other overlapping characters.

Eric: Yes, the only part that was difficult at all was taking over the other character, even for a brief time. You just wanted to get it right.

I don't think collaborating is for everyone and I'm not even sure I could do it with anyone else but it has been a great experience for me and one that I know has made me a better writer. We each still write our own books too but you will hear a lot more from this partnership before we are through.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lambda Literary Award Nominees

Finalists were announced last week for the 22nd Lambda Literary Awards. For All Categories go HERE.

“In a year of challenge and change for writers and publishers – and for the Foundation – the hundreds of books submitted for nomination illustrate the continuing dynamism of our literature,” said Lambda Foundation Board President Katherine V. Forrest. “This year’s Lambda Literary Award Finalists and the quality of their work speak eloquently to the richness and range of our literature.”

Lesbian Mystery

Command of Silence, by Paulette Callen (Spinsters Ink)
Death of a Dying Man, by J.M. Redmann (Bold Strokes Books)
From Hell to Breakfast, by Joan Opyr (Blue Feather Books)
The Mirror and the Mask, by Ellen Hart (St. Martin’s/Minotaur)
Toasted, by Josie Gordon (Bella Books)

Gay Mystery

All Lost Things, by Josh Aterovis (P.D. Publishing)
The Killer of Orchids, by Ralph Ashworth (State Street Press)
Murder in the Garden District, by Greg Herren (Alyson Books)
Straight Lies, by Rob Byrnes (Kensington Books)
What We Remember, by Michael Thomas Ford (Kensington Books)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A. S. Fleischman: R.I.P.

From The Gumshoe Site via Bill Crider and the L.A. Times:

"A. S. Fleischman died on March 17 at his home in Santa Monica, California at the age of 90.  He was well known to children as Sid Fleischman, who won the Newbery Medal in 1987 for THE WHIPPING BOY.  THE 13TH FLOOR (Greenwillow, 1995) and THE MIDNIGHT HORSE (Greenwillow, 1990) were both nominated for an Edgar in the juvenile mystery category. As A. S. Fleischman, he wrote several adult mystery novels such as THE STRAW DONKEY CASE (Phoenix, 1948) and COUNTERSPY EXPRESS (Ace, 1954). LOOKING BEHIND YOU, LADY (1952), DANGER IN PARADISE (1953), MALAY WOMAN (1954) and THE VENETIAN BLONDE (1963, all four from Gold Medal) were recently re-issued from Stark House Press as double-books."

He was also a successful screenwriter whose credits included the screenplay for his novel Blood Alley.
The list of Fleischman's books include two biographies for young readers in recent years, Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini and The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West. Sir Charlie, a biography of Charlie Chaplin, will be published in June.

Read the L.A. Times Obituary HERE.

Read his Biography on his Website, HERE

The 13th Floor was one of my favorite and most memorable books growing up.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fess Parker: R.I.P.

Fess Parker who played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone died yesterday of natural causes. Parker who also starred in "Old Yeller"  owned the DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara and the Wine Country Inn & Spa in Los Olivos, CA, as well as the Fess Parker Winery. He was 85.

When I was growing up I bugged my parents for a Davy Crockett 'coonskin' hat. Never got one  because I was a "girl". Years later when I produced a teambuilding event at the DoubleTree in Santa Barbara, I received a basket of goodies, including a bottle of Fess Parker wine with a tiny faux fur Davy Crockett hat. I still have it.

Watch a video of The Ballad of Davy Crockett

Fess Parker --Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett--my heroes.

Mystery Bytes: News, Reviews, Interviews for the Mystery Community March

Mystery Bytes is an occasional round-up of news, reviews and interviews for the Mystery Community:

New Magazine: Thomas Przybilka, IACW/AIEP Vice President Western Europe and long-time subscriber to Mystery Readers Journal, tells us that there is a new crime-magazine started in Germany, based on the online-version of Alligatorpapiere. At present it is the one and only magazine in Germany dealing with crime literature: Alligatorpapiere - Magazin zur Kriminalliteratur. The editors Alfred Miersch (NordPark Verlag) and Thomas Przybilka (Bonner Krimi Archiv Sekundaerliteratur), together with contributors who are well-known in the German crime and mystery scene offer articles, reviews, criticism on German and international crime fiction, and German and international secondary sources covering crime literature. Cover of the first issue and table of contents: HERE. The magazine will be issued irregularly but three times a year.
CSI: The LA Times reports that people leave a bacterial trail that may be the next forensic clue. According to a study published online Monday from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, bacteria that live on a person's hands could one day accurately identify that individual. This could come in handy to track down a criminal who has worn gloves, removed prints and other personal physical evidence, or touched surfaces such as fabric on which a fingerprint wouldn't show up, the researchers said. Read the article HERE.
John Le Carre received the Sunday Times (London) Award for Literary Excellence. In this article he reveals the real-life figures who have inspired some of his fictional characters. Read the article HERE.
CBS Schedules the 6th Jesse Stone Film, No Remorse, for May 9. This character created by Robert B. Parker completed filming in November 2008. Tom Selleck plays Police Chief Jesse Stone. The first five films in the series are available on DVD from Mysteries on TV: Jesse Stone. The 7th in the series, Innocents Lost, was filmed in 2009.
Hat Tip: Mystery Book News
Baby, it's Cold Outside.... The Economist features an article on Scandinavian Crime Fiction: Inspector Norse: Why are Nordic detective novels so successful? Conclusion: three factors underpin the success of Nordic crime fiction: language, heroes and setting. Read the article HERE

Don't forget that Award winning Mystery Author Jo Nesbo will be at a Literary Salon at my home in Berkeley tomorrow (March 19: 2 p.m.). RSVP.  Next authors: Peter May (April 7: 7 p.m.), Erin Hart (April 23: 7 pm.), Elizabeth George: (May 3, 2 p.m.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Left Coast Crime Awards

Just back from Left Coast Crime: Booked in L.A., and although I have a lot to report...and will do that... thought I should post the Awards. For the entire list of nominees, go HERE.

LEFTY AWARD for Humorous Mystery: Getting Old is a Disaster by Rita Lakin

BRUCE ALEXANDER AWARD for Historical Mystery: A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

THE PANIK AWARD for LA Noir (awarded in honor of the late Paul Anik, Chair of LCC2010, given this year only): Death Was in the Picture by Linda Richards

3/21: I forgot to mention The Dilys Award (given out by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association to “the mystery title of the year which the member booksellers have most enjoyed selling”): The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley (Delacorte)

Congratulations to All!!!

Photo: Winners Rita Lakin & Rebecca Cantrell

Monday, March 15, 2010

St Patrick's Day Mysteries

I blogged a short list of St. Patrick's Day mysteries last year,  and I haven't come across any new titles. But, since it's a short list, I've added some other titles and authors. I welcome comments and additions.

Nelson Demille: Cathedral
Andrew Greeley: Irish Gold
Jane Haddam: A Great Day for the Deadly
Lyn Hamilton: The Celtic Riddle
Lee Harris: The St. Patrick's Day Murder
Jonathan Harrington: A Great Day for Dying
Wendi Lee: The Good Daughter
Dan Mahoney: Once in, Never Out
Leslie Meier: St. Patrick's Day Murder
Sister Carol Anne O’Marie: Death Takes Up A Collection
Ralph M. McInerny: Lack of the Irish
Janet Elaine Smith: In St. Patrick's Custody
Kathy Hogan Trochek: Irish Eyes
Noreen Wald: Death Never Takes a Holiday

Not necessarily set during  St. Patrick's Day is city-pick Dublin that was just published last week to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and Dublin becoming a UNESCO World City of Literature in 2010.
Pat Mullan, Ireland Chair of International Thriller Writers, says "I am very pleased (and honored) to be included in this selection of fifty Irish writers." The publisher, Oxygen Books, talks about city-pick Dublin: "A truly astonishing variety of writers evoke the myriad pleasures of this legendary writers' city, bringing Dubliners, famous, not so famous and famously fictional, to life.

Another great book to consider for the holiday is Dublin Noir, a fantastic collection of short stories edited by Ken Bruen and published by Akashic Books in the US and by Brandon in Ireland and the UK. 

You could also read any number of novels by Ken Bruen, Declan Burke or Declan Hughes on St. Patrick's Day. Raise a glass of Guinness for me.

And, if you want something chocolate to go along with your stout, have a look at my DyingforChocolate blog for some killer recipes including Guinness Stout Brownies.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Forensic Science Day: Left Coast Crime

I'm at Left Coast Crime: Booked in L.A.. I wasn't able to make the first day, Forensic Science Day, but Bill and Toby Gottfried were. Here's their Guest Blog on that fabulous daylong event:

Forensic Science Day: Booked in L.A.

Toby and I joined about 70 others on Wednesday March 10th, to participate in an all day, intense and brilliant series of lectures, discussions and tours at the California Forensic Science Institute in LA. This program was brought together by Jan Burke, President of The Crime Lab Project Inc, and we went along with many other fine authors including Meg Chittenden. This was one of the most enlightening series of lectures we have participated in during our 25 years of attending various Mystery conventions.

The program began with a discussion by Don Johnson of CSULA School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, entitled The Crime Scene (uncomfortable slides of a mass murder investigation), followed by Mel Cavanaugh on Questioned Documents (forgeries, etc) from the LASD Scientific Service Bureau. We were all given an opportunity to attempt to disguise our handwriting and to forge signatures of our sitting partners (and I failed).

Professor Myrna Raeder, Professor of Law, SW University of Law give a legal discussion on Forensic Science, including application of Frye and Daubert principles in accepting testimonies of expert opinions during trial presentations.

Following this we toured the relatively new facility and visited the shooting range (checking out ballistics of weapons associated with crimes), the PCR and DNA analysis labs, the narcotic storage rooms (we did not have clearance to enter here and just viewed the locked doors), the ballistic comparison labs and the entry points for evidence storage.

Allison Manfreda took us through a very thorough review of weapons and ammunition (how is a bullet different from a cartridge and what do calibers mean?). She is associated with the Firearms Analysis unit of the LAPD Scientific Investigations Division.

Lynne Herold, Senior Criminalist LASD Scientific Service Bureau/Trace section led us step by step through an actual recent crime investigation, showing once again uncomfortable and true slides, of a famous murder investigation (recent and I am sure known to all) and described the processes of obtaining and documenting evidence at the crime scene. She discussed smells, odors and contamination (to cut down smells, use regular Vaseline in your nostrils---not Vicks which might enhance odors, and use hair covering and shoe covering to prevent permeation of odors which might never readily disappear).

The last presentation was by Katherine Roberts, CSULA School of criminal Justice and Criminalistics, and was an in depth discussion of Nuclear and Mitochondrial DNA analysis as a means of identifying individuals who might be associated with a crime.

Jan ended by making a strong plead for assistance from those in attendance to support the Forensic Labs to help assure that determination of innocence and guilt was expedient and accurate and asked our assistance in adopting this lab or local community labs as a means of achieving these goals.

The attendees left with new respect for Forensic processes, and I assume that some of the materials presented will be seen in future mystery novels.
The lecturers handed out a 65 page reference guide which was well worth price of admission. Thanks to Jan and her fellow authors for their extraordinary efforts.

Toby and Bill Gottfried

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Partners in Crime: Max Allan Collins

Today I welcome Max Allan Collins as Guest Blogger on our Partners in Crime Series: Authors Who Write with Partners.

Max Allan Collins is one of the most prolific mystery authors. He's written novels, TV adaptations, graphic novels, plays, short stories  and so much more. He is the creator of Road to Perdition, Quarry, Nate Heller and much more. Read his biography HERE. Even if you think you know Max, you'll be surprised. He is known as "Mystery's Renaissance Man." Well deserved. He's collaborated on many projects. You'll love this Guest Blog.

COLLABORATION by Max Allan Collins

I sort of fell into collaboration, never expecting it to become such a big part of my writing life.

Way back in the late '80s, I talked my wife into plotting some "minute mysteries" for the MIKE MIST feature that appeared in the back of the MS. TREE comic book. I had run out of ideas. She did such a good job, I moved her up to doing rough drafts of the scripts. She took to that, and then -- when artist Terry Beatty was looking for a way to ease his workload -- I suggested she write short stories about the Mist character, doing the minute mysteries that way. She was was so adept at it, I was blown away. I remember saying, "Hey, this is good -- maybe too good...."

Marty Greenberg knew about Barb's MIST-ifying, and invited her to write a story about Tess Truehart, Dick Tracy's wife, in an anthology he and I were doing of original TRACY stories as a movie tie-in. She did such a great job, Marty started inviting her to write stories for his various anthologies, in particular the CAT CRIMES series. She did a fantastic job, and got great comments in reviews and from readers. I always read and edited these stories, with a fairly heavy hand (at Barb's request), and on one of them I said, "You've skipped a scene. This won't work jumping A to C, you need to write B, too." And Barb said, "Well, then, you write it." I said, "Okay, but if I write a big fat crucial scene, we share byline. That's the deal." "Done," she said.

After that we started actually collaborating on the occasional story, working out a plot together with Barb writing a first draft, skipping scenes now and then (action ones particularly) that she figured I would write better. "Why should I break my back on a scene you're going to rewrite, anyway?" she wondered. Good point.

This grew into extending the process into a thriller, REGENERATION, which was a paperback bestseller. We followed up with BOMBSHELL, a novel about Marilyn Monroe. This was sold to Five Star and was at one time one of their most successful books. We'd been noodling about doing a series about antiques, a mutual interest, and when my former Nathan Heller editor Michaela Hamilton (now at Kensington) wondered if I'd be interested in developing a cozy series for her, Barb and I stepped up to the plate.

The process remains the same: we plot together, Barb writes a draft, somewhat shorter than the word-length we need to hit, and I polish and expand. It's a fairly even collaboration but I would put Barb at around 60% to my 40%. Maybe 65% or even 70%; but I earn my half of the byline. We don't fight about anything. I consider her the lead writer, and defer to her wishes. It's a female point of view, and that makes it her call, once I've stated my case.

Except for not sleeping with him, my relationship with Matt Clemens is similar. We began doing short stories together a long time ago. The CSI novels were where we really got serious -- Matt came aboard as a researcher and co-plotter, and his contribution quickly grew to a similar format of our plotting them together (though the basic story idea has usually been mine) and then him writing a shortish first draft that I can expand to the proper, contracted-for length. Dialogue is a strong suit for me, and both Barb and Matt know that I will add a lot of that and rework much of what they've done. The difference, I would say, is that the ANTIQUES novels are Barb's voice, with me working in her voice on my contributions, whereas Matt and I seem to have a collaborative third voice. He and I have done 10 CSI novels (a number of which hit the USA TODAY bestseller list), 1 BONES, 3 DARK ANGELs, 3 CRIMINAL MINDS, plus he did major research and some co-plotting on my Patrick Culhane-bylined RED SKY AT MORNING. Now Matt finally gets cover credit on YOU CAN'T STOP ME, also from Kensington.

The Spillane novels are a different matter, though they are very much genuine collaborations. Each project has different challenges and the materials tend to differ from book to book, but generally what I am working from is about a 100 page fragment (double-spaced), plus plot and character notes. So the story is basically Mickey's, and I have a sizeable chunk of Spillane prose. In the forthcoming THE BIG BANG, I took those 100 or so pages and expanded them so that they would fill more than half of the novel, giving a genuine Spillane flavor to more than just the first four chapters. Because I am not just plopping Mickey's portion down and picking up from there -- rather, making myself part of the storytelling from page one -- that makes the eventual shift away from Mickey fairly seamless.

Working inside Mickey's draft -- expanding it, fleshing it out, inserting material, etc. -- is very standard collaborative approach, and doing the first half or more of the book in that fashion means that Mickey's DNA kind of grafts itself onto mine, so that (again) the final chapters read very much the same. This is one of the most rewarding projects of my career, and I cannot begin to describe what it means to me that Mickey -- the man who inspired me to become a professional storyteller -- entrusted me with the task of finishing his work.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stieg Larsson Biography by Barry Forshaw

A host of books on the late Stieg Larsson are being written - or have been written — but Barry Forshaw's The Man Who Left Too Soon: The Biography of Stieg Larsson will be first out of the gate in the UK, published in April by John Blake.

Barry Forshaw (who has written on Larsson for The Times, The Independent and The Express) has spoken to Larsson's confidants, family, various publishers, editors, translators, film people and many authors (Scandinavian and otherwise)  and has tried to ensure all the recent developments are included. The main emphasis, though, is on the books (with much analysis, plus an overview of Nordic crime fiction) and the whole Larsson phenomenon. And, he says, it's certainly no hagiography...

Read Barry Forshaw's review of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo in The Independent

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flea Market Mysteries

Today is the First Sunday of the month, and I'm off to to the Alameda Flea Market (officially known as the Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Faire). I'm a great flea market goer. Having been to Flea Markets all over the world, the Alameda Flea market remains one of my favorites. Can't be beat for a spectacular view of San Francisco, either. It's located on the old Base and literally runs right into the Bay. Sadly it's only once a month, and there's nothing worse than waking up to rain on a fleamarket Sunday.

I used to frequent the Marin Flea Market which really dates me since housing replaced that space in Sausalito many years ago. I always go to Portobello Road when in London, and I adore the Paris Flea Market. Not sure I'd call Portobello Road a flea market, but I've been there early on a Saturday morning when the stalls are set up. I love flea markets, estate sales, boot sales, garage sales and collectible shows (although they sometimes tend more to the antique), not that that's a bad thing. .. I also won't turn my nose up at a dumpster. Lots of treasures.

So it should come as no surprise that I enjoy reading mysteries with a flea market, boot sale, pickers or garage sale theme. Here's a short list. I welcome any other additions. And, flea markets are great places to find mysteries!

The Flea Market Mystery by Virginia Besaw Evansen
Savannah Blues, Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews
Killer Stuff, Dead Guy's Stuff, The Wrong Stuff, Buried Stuff by Sharon Fiffer
The Emma Chizzit Mysteries (several titles starting with Emma Chizzit and...) by Mary Bowen Hall
The Flea Market by Randal Adam
Tight as a Tick by Toni L.P. Kelner
Something to Kill For by Susan Holtzer
Double Dealer by Barbara Taylor McCafferty & Beverly Taylor Herald
Resolution by Denise Mina
Leave a Message for Willie by Marcia Mulle
Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn
The Unraveling of Violeta Bell by C.R. Corwin

Jonathan Gash is an antiques dealer, but he employs a wonderful picker, so I might include his books on this list. You'll want to pick them up. He and his sidekick do a lot of foraging at sales and in stalls looking for valuable antiques.

Anthony Oliver has another favorite antique themed series. My favorite is The Pew Group.

There is definitely a difference between Flea Markets and Antique Shops, but often the same characters inhabit both worlds. I'll have to put together another list of Antique Mysteries. Certainly Jane Cleland, Lea Wait, Tamar Myers, and many others will be on that list.

Mystery Readers Journal has had several issues focusing on Art & Antiques Mysteries. Have a look at the Tables of Contents: HERE and HERE.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Awards

ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE has just announced the winners of their Readers Choice Awards for the Best Stories of 2000

First place: Mike Herron's "Dolphin Junction" tied with Doug Allyn's "An Early Christmas"
Second place: Clark Howard's "White Wolves"
Third place: Dave Zeltserman's "Julius Katz"
Fourth place: Doug Allyn's "Famous Last Words"
Fifth place: Doug Allyn's "The Valhall Verdict"
Sixth place: Jack Fredrickson's "For the Jingle"
Seventh place: Janvillem van de Wetering's "The Bleeding Chair"
Eighth place: Lee Goldberg's "The Case of the Piss-Poor Gold"
Ninth place: Lou Manfredo's "Central Islin, USA"
Tenth place: Brian Muir's "Dummy"

Hat Tip to Lee Goldberg!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Murder at the Academy Awards: 2010

I love lists. Last year I published a short list of Mysteries set during the Academy Awards. Here's an updated list. You have until Sunday to read them.

Murder at the Academy Awards by Joan Rivers and Jerilyn Farmer
Oscar Season by Mary McNamara
Murder at the Academy Awards by Joe Hyams
Best Murder on the Year by Jon P. Bloch
Best Actress by John Kane
Jack Hightower by Will Vinton & Andrew Wiese
Screenscam by Michael Bowen

Am I missing any?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Crime Fiction Festivals in the UK

Oh to be in England... Lots of great crime fiction/mystery conventions and festivals this Spring in England

April 23-May 2: Hexham Book Festival. Hexham, Northumberland.
For the program, go HERE. Some of the crime writers on the program: P.D. James, Val McDermid, Laura Wilson, Ann Cleeves.

April 20-24: Sleuths: English Riviera Festival of Crime and Thriller Writing. Torquay.
Author participants: Simon Brett, Diane James, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight, M.C. Beaton, Mike Holgate, Ann Cleeves. Greenway House Sea & River Voyage, Theatre and more.

April 25: Murder at the Manor.
Hosted by the Chilworth Crime Convention. Martin Edwards, Meg Gardiner, Pauline Rowson, Rebbeca Tope. More info to come. Go here for location.

"The scene is set for a delightfully devious celebration of crime and thriller writing on the English Riviera, as some of the country's most scheming criminal minds descend on South Devon's beautiful bay. Over four days the festival will host talks from eminent authors, murder mystery plays and crime writing workshops, in the birthplace of the greatest selling crime writer of all time, Dame Agatha Christie."

May 20-23, 2010: CrimeFest, Bristol. "Where the Pen is Bloodier Than the Sword"
Guest Authors: Tonino Benacquista, Colin Dexter. Toastmaster: Gyles Brandreth. Other highlighted authors include M.C. Beaton & Ariana Franklin.  First organized in June 2008 by Myles Allfrey and Adrian Muller, CrimeFest has become one of the most popular dates in the crime fiction calendar. This fantastic  annual convention draws top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world and gives delegates the opportunity to celebrate the genre in an informal atmosphere
2010 Highlights include: Gala Dinner on Saturday, 22nd of May, Interviews with the featured Guest Authors and Toastmaster, Awards,  author panels and crime writing workshops. To register, go HERE.

June 14-20: CWA (Crime Writers Association) has put together a plan for their first National Crime Fiction Week. CWA members will take part in readings, discussions, readers’ group events and workshops all over the country. Murders in Libraries, Bodies in Bookshops and Strawberries and Crime at Village Fetes. For the full schedule, go HERE.  This will be updated, so check back.

Be sure and check with local bookstores and libraries for signings and talks throughout the Spring.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Partners in Crime: Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Continuing the Partner in Crime series here on Mystery Fanfare, today I welcome Mary Reed and Eric Mayer as Guest Bloggers. They chose to blog about writing together in a very unique way. Enjoy!

Mary Reed and Eric Mayer met, married, and began a life of fictional mayhem when their first short mystery story appeared in 1993. After publishing several stories in historical mystery anthologies and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, their first novel about John, Lord Chamberlain to Justinian I, appeared in l999. There followed Two For Joy, Three For A Letter, Four For A Boy, Five For Silver, Six For Gold, and Seven For A Secret, some of which won awards. In June 2003 the American Library Association's Booklist Magazine named the novels as one of its four Best Little Known Series. Eight For Eternity will appear in April 2010.

From Mary Reed & Eric Mayer:

To present information in a different way it is written (more or less) in rhyme and describes our work method. This may be summed up as the outline is tossed back and forth, individual chapters or scenes written by A or B are constructed, anything A or B feel strongly about where B or A do not is kept in the plot, each chapter or scene being polished by the other author, and sometimes polished again as needed.

BLOG FOR PARTNERS IN CRIME  with apologies to Messrs Gilbert & Sullivan

We're co-authors of ratiocinative fiction
Inventing plots full of character friction
Scattering clues for the villain's conviction
Co-writers of mysteries!

We begin by inventing a devious plot line
Some elements are his and some are mine
Our method is to mix them and then refine
This foundation of mysteries!

We've long since agreed its champion will decide
If something stays in the plot that the other derides
When working together there's no room for pride
In co-writers of mysteries!

One will draft a scene or a chapter and then
The other polishes it once, and if need be again,
Savagely wielding the editorial pen
On the draft of the mystery!

Research is necessary before we start to write
Toiling at the task through the hours of the night
At least midnight oil sheds a pretty sort of light!
On writers of mysteries!

Some collaborative authors' language singes
We advise colleagues fit strong door hinges
Since a slamming exit often impinges
On the writing of mysteries!

Our individual writings differ in ways distinct
But the blended text reveals no obvious links
Though Mary tends to ramble while Eric's more succinct
Just as well for the mysteries!

We're scriveners who, when the manuscript's done,
Send it to the press and say "Wasn't that fun?"
And then start on researching for another one
A co-authored mystery!!

Mystery Bytes: News, Book Structures, Florals & Agatha Christie

Occasionally I come across some odd book buildings, libraries, book bookshelves, book stairs, etc. Here are a few new ones:

Architecture is knowledge, history, research and trend. This is literally evident in Book Cell, an octagonal building made entirely from books that was installed in the Modern Art Center in Lisboa. Slovakian artist Matej Kren built an octagonal framework, filled it with books and removed it, leaving a symmetrical, enclosed room of stacked literature.

Book Cell was originally installed for six months in 2006, but the piece still resonates today. The books used for the piece were borrowed from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation onsite at the Modern Art Center and returned to its collection after use, making it a very site-specific, almost personal piece, and reinforcing the idea that you don’t have to use something crazy, new and disposable to make powerful art.

For other Book Buildings on this blog, go HERE and HERE. I've had others, too.

On Feb. 5, the Arlington Garden Club and the Friends of the Robbins Library teamed up for a fundraising event called Books in Bloom. More than 225 guests enjoyed the 20 floral displays — 15 created by Garden Club members and five created by local florists — that interpreted books in a unique way — through flowers.
And here's a real Agatha Christie Mystery

Jewels belonging to mystery author Agatha Christie have been discovered in a battered trunk bought for £100. They probably belonged to Agatha Christie's mother, and the diamond ring and buckle pin are described by her in her diaries. The trunk bears her mother's initials, and she may have placed them in the trunk or they were there from her mother and forgotten about. 
Read the entire story HEREHat tip to Sarah Weinman

Monday, March 1, 2010

Jo Nesbø wins Palle Rosenkrantz Prize: Berkeley Lit Salon: March 19

Jo Nesbø's novel The Leopard has won the Palle Rosenkrantz Prisen (Prize) by the Danish Crime Academy (Det danske Kriminalakademi) for the year's Best Crime Novel. The prize is named after Palle Rosenkrantz (1867-1941), who is viewed as the first Danish crime fiction author (Mordet i Vestermarie, published 1902). Jo Nesbø is Norwegian.

The list of previous winners includes, among others, John Le Carre, P.D.James, Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter, Peter Robinson, Hakan Nesser, Karin Alvtegen, Don Winslow, Leif Davidsen, Peter Hoeg, Gunnar Staalesen, Donna Leon, Ian Rankin and Reginald Hill.

Palle Rosenkrantz Prisen is a prize awarded annually for the best crime fiction novel published in Danish. The prize is awarded by the Danish Crime Academy (Det danske Kriminalakademi).

The Leopard has not been released in English yet.

Jo Nesbø has eight acclaimed crime novels featuring Detective Harry Hole. He has received numerous awards in Norway and won the hearts of critics, booksellers and readers.

Jo Nesbø will be touring in the U.S. this month, and Mystery Readers NorCal will host him at an afternoon Literary Salon on March 19 at 2 p.m, in Berkeley, CA. His latest book in the U.S. is Nemesis. Please email me for directions.

Watch an English interview with Jo Nesbø about The Leopard, HERE.

Hat Tip to Crime Scraps and The Rap Sheet.