Saturday, April 30, 2011

Agatha Awards 2011: Malice Domestic

What a wonderful evening at Malice! More when I get back to the Bay Area.... but the news you're waiting for....

Agatha Awards
The Agatha Awards are given for materials first published in the United States by a living author during the calendar year 2010 (January 1-December 31), either in hardcover, as a paperback original, or e-published by an e-publishing firm. They were presented tonight at Malice Domestic.

Best Novel:
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Best First Novel:
The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames

Best Non-fiction:
Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: 50 Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran

Best Short Story:
"So Much in Common" by Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - Sept./Oct. 2010

Best Children's/Young Adult:
The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith

Congratulations to all!

May Day Mysteries: Crime Fiction

"What potent blood hath modest May."- Ralph W. Emerson

For the past few years, I've posted a list of May Day Mysteries, and I'm updating the entries here. I love May Day with its Morris Dancing and the Maypole, all dating back to more pagan Celtic times. And, although May may seem idyllic with its flowers and showers, it can actually be murderous! Later this month, I will also have an updated list of Mother's Day mysteries which, of course, takes place in May.

I've expanded the list this year to include a few other May mysteries, not just May Day Mysteries. Let me know if I've forgotten any titles. Be sure and check out the Morris Dancing Mysteries at the end of the list.


Five Days in May by Paul Eiseman
30 Days in May by Wayne Hancock
Five Days in May by Christopher Hartpence
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel
May Day by Jess Lourey
May Might Mean Murder by Bill McGrath 
May Day in Magadan by Anthony Olcott
The Merry Month of May by Elvi Rhodes
A Hot Day in May by Julian Jay Savarin
The May Day Murders by Scott Wittenburg

For over 30 years at dawn on May Day, Berkeley Morris Dancing takes place at Inspiration Point in Tilden Park. The Berkeley Morris Dancers will also perform at the University of California Botanical Garden (12 noon) May 1. Check for Morris Dancing in your area.

Morris Dancing Mysteries

Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh
Dead Men's Morris by Gladys Mitchell 
The Death-Cap Dancers by Gladys Mitchell

I met someone at Malice yesterday who has Morris Dancing in her mystery. Can't seem to find the title, so any help would be great. I'll go through my voluminous amount of postcards and bookmarks. I know I made a note.

Arthur Ellis Award Nominees: Crime Writers of Canada

Crime Writers of Canada 2011 Arthur Ellis Awards Nominees

Best Novel:
Slow Recoil, by C.B. Forrest (RendezVous Crime)
In Plain Sight, by Mike Knowles (ECW Press)
The Extinction Club, by Jeffrey Moore (Penguin Group)
Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny (Little, Brown UK)
A Criminal to Remember, by Michael Van Rooy (Turnstone Press)

Best Short Story:
 “So Much in Common,” by Mary Jane Maffini (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
“In It Up to My Neck,” by Jas R. Petrin (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
“The Big Touch,” by Jordan McPeek (ThugLit)
“The Piper's Door,” by James Powell (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
“The Bust,” by William Deverall (from Whodunnit: Sun Media’s Canadian Crime Fiction Showcase)

Best Non-Fiction:
On the Farm, by Stevie Cameron (Knopf Canada)
Our Man in Tehran, by Robert Wright (HarperCollins)
Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery of Tom Thomson and the Woman Who Loved Him, by Roy MacGregor (Random House)

Best Juvenile/Young Adult:
Borderline, by Allan Stratton (HarperCollins)
The Worst Thing She Ever Did, by Alice Kuipers (HarperCollins)
Pluto’s Ghost, by Sharee Fitch (Doubleday Canada)
Victim Rights, by Norah McClintock (Red Deer Press)
The Vinyl Princess, by Yvonne Prinz (HarperCollins)

Best Crime Writing in French:
Cinq secondes, by Jacques Savoie (Libre Expression)
Dans le quartier des agités, by Jacques Côté (Alire)
Vanités, by Johanne Seymour (Libre Expression)
La société des pères meurtriers, by Michel Châteauneuf (Vents D’ouest)
Quand la mort s’invite à la première, by Bernard Gilbert
(Québec Amérique)

Best First Novel:
The Damage Done, by Hilary Davidson (Tom Doherty Associates)
The Debba, by Avner Mandleman (Other Press)
The Penalty Killing, by Michael McKinley (McClelland & Stewart)
The Parabolist, by Nicholas Ruddock (Doubleday)
Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin’s Press)

Unhanged Arthur (Best Unpublished First Crime Novel):
Better Off Dead, by John Jeneroux
Uncoiled, by Kevin Thornton
When the Bow Breaks, by Jayne Barnard

Winners will be announced June 2 during the Bloody Words Convention in Victoria, British Columbia.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards: 2011

Mystery Writers of America 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010.

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity
by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press – Bison Original)

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendevouz with American History by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton)

"The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)

The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)

The Psychic by Sam Bobrick (Falcon Theatre – Burbank, CA)

“Episode 1” - Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD: "Skyler Hobbs and the Rabbit Man" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Evan Lewis (Dell Magazines)

GRAND MASTER: Sara Paretsky

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, Forest Park, Illinois
Once Upon A Crime Bookstore, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Congratulations to all!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Audie Award Nominees 2011

And, for those of you who 'read' your books with your ears, here's the list of Audie Award Nominees from the Audio Publishers Association. These awards recognize the best in audiobooks. The winners will be announced at the Audies Gala on May 24, 2011in New York City.

Awards are given out in many categories. These are the nominees for excellence in narration, direction, engineering, mix and abridgment (when applicable) of an unabridged or abridged mystery or thriller/suspense audiobook. Narrator(s) and publisher in parentheses. Thanks to Omnimystery News for this information. For the complete list of nominees, go HERE.

Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt (Grover Gardner, Listen & Live Audio)
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (Katherine Kellgren,
Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré (Robin Sachs, Penguin)
The Dead Room by Chris Mooney (Regina Reagan, Isis Publishing)
The Reversal by Michael Connelly (Peter Giles, Hachette Audio)
This Body of Death by Elizabeth George (John Lee, HarperCollins)

Dead Aim by Thomas Perry (Michael Kramer, Tantor Media)
Interface by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George (Oliver Wyman,
The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds (Kate Reading, Blackstone Audio)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (Reg Keeland, Random House Audio)
Vengeance by A. J. Scudiere (Kristoffer Tabori, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Don Leslie, Griffyn Ink)

Robert B. Parker News: Ace Atkins will continue Spenser series

Deadline reports: Spenser and Jesse Stone are on the job once more. Robert B. Parker's estate announced that Michael Brandman will write the first Stone novel under the title Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues. The novel will be published September 13. Brandman was co-writer and producer of CBS's Stone movies featuring Tom Selleck, as well as producer of three Spenser novel adaptations for A&E.

Ace Atkins, whose novels include White Shadow, Infamous and Wicked City, will write the first new Spenser novel, to be released in the spring of 2012. Sixkill, Parker's final Spenser novel, will be released by Putnam in May.

Hat Tip: Shelf Awareness

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crunch Time Cookies: Diane Mott Davidson

Maybe this belongs on my DyingforChocolate blog, but I couldn't help but post it here. My worlds of Mystery and Chocolate seem to collide often!

Diane Mott Davidson has been called the "Julia Child of Mysteries" and indeed she is one of the first mystery writers to put recipes in her books. One of my first memories of Diane Mott Davidson was meeting her at Malice Domestic where she was handing out samples of her chocolate chip cookies in the bathroom. Setting aside, they were terrific. Over the years, Diane has written over 14 Goldie catering novels. Her latest is Crunch Time, and the main recipe is "to die for".

Here's a video of Diane talking about the book. The recipe from Diane Mott Davidson is on the HarperCollins author website. And, yes, it's delicious!

Davidson is on tour, so check your local bookstore to see if she's coming to a location near you! Enjoy the video! I did!

Crunch Time Cookies
by Diane Mott Davidson

1 cup pecan halves
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup softened cream cheese
1 cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups rolled oats
8 ounces (1½ cups) semisweet chocolate chips
4 ounces (2/3 cup) toffee bits (Heath toffee bits or “Bits o’ Brickle”)

In a wide frying pan, sauté the pecans over low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the nuts begin to change color, and emit a nutty scent. Turn the nuts out onto paper towels and allow them to cool, then chop them roughly and set aside.

Sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until the mixture is very creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat very well, until the mixture is creamy and uniform. Add the granulated sugar and again beat very well, until you have a uniform, creamy mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Using a large wooden spoon, stir in the dry mixture just until combined. Then stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and toffee bits, blending only until thoroughly mixed.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until completely chilled, three hours or overnight.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, take the bowl out of the refrigerator and allow the batter to warm slightly while the oven is preheating.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place silicone mats on two cookie sheets.

Measure the batter out by tablespoonfuls, two inches apart. Place no more than a dozen cookies on each sheet. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 9–11 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are very brown and the centers are no longer soft.

When you remove a cookie sheet from the oven, place it on a cooling rack for 2 minutes, so the cookies can set up. Then use a pancake flipper to remove the cookies to cooling racks, and allow to cool completely. Store in airtight containers or in zipped freezer bags. These cookies freeze well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ned Kelly Award Nominations 2011

2011 Ned Kelly Award Nominations (Australian Crime Writers): Longlist

Best First Fiction
Diamond Eyes AA Bell
Undercover Keith Bulfin
Prime Cut Alan Carter
While I Have Perdo John Chesterman
Who Killed Dave? Linda Cockburn
The Pericles Commission Gary Corby
Mosquito Creek Robert Engwerds
Beyond Fear Jaye Ford
Beautiful Malice Rebecca James
The Old School PM Newton
Five Parts Dead Tim Pegler
Line of Sight David Whish-Wilson

Best Fiction
The Ghost Of Waterloo Robin Adair
Follow The Money Peter Corris
Sharp Turn Marianne Delacourt
The Maya Codex Adrian d'Hage
Death Mask Kathryn Fox
Watch The World Burn Leah Giarrantano
Dead Man's Chest Kerry Greenwood
Violent Exposure Katherine Howell
Gunshot Road Adrian Hyland
Fall Girl Toni Jordan
Silk Chaser Peter Klein
The Genesis Flaw L.A. Larkin
Naked Cruelty Colleen McCullough
Diggers Rest Hotel Geoff McGeachin
Let The Dead Lie Malla Nunn
How The Dead See David Owen
Red Ice James Phelan
Thrill City Leigh Redhead
Mice Gordon Reece
Hot Rock Dreaming Martin Roth
The Half-Child Angela Savage
The Neon Lady of Towitta Patricia Summerling
Bereft Chris Womersley
Shattered Sky Helene Young

Best True Crime
They Shot Phar Lap, Didn't They? Geoff Armstrong & Peter Thompson
The Job Charlie Bezzina with Ben Collins
Enforcer Caesar & Donna Campbell
Murder No More Colleen Egan
Sin Bin John Elias
City of Evil Sean Fewster
Badlands Liam Houlihan
Abandoned Geesche Jacobsen
Inside Story Peter Lloyd
McVillain The Man Who Got Away David McMillan
Shot Gun and Standover James Morton & Russell Robinson
Bank Robbery For Beginners Anthony Prince
King of Thieves Adam Shand
Mr Asia Jim Sheperd
Honeymoon Dive Lindsay Simpson & Jennifer Cooke
Snitch Jimmy Thomson
Bumper Larry Writer

The SD Harvey Short Story

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cool Mystery Related Beds

Love this Police Box Bed. Do we need to live in the U.K.? I know Oakland doesn't have police... let alone police boxes.

And what every child wants: A Book Bed. Sheets are the pages and pillows are the bookmarks. And, the pages turn!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Paaskekrim: Norwegian Crime for Easter

Paaskekrim Repost with additions

One of the biggest mysteries to me at Easter is Norway's Paaskekrim (Easter Crime), but it's pretty cool for crime fiction! Holy Thursday through Easter Monday is a public holiday in Norway, but it's also a time when just about everyone in Norway reads crime novels. Bookstore displays are full of detective novels, television and radio stations run crime serials and newspapers publish special literary supplements.

This is a very peculiar national activity. Publishers actually churn out series of books known as "Easter-Thrillers" or Påskekrimmen, and dates of publication are moved to Spring and released at this time when the sale of mysteries goes up 50%. TV stations, radio and newspapers follow suit by running detective series based on the works of famous crime novelists such as Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Simenon and Ruth Rendell.

But why does Norway choose Easter to delve into crime solving? According to one widely accepted theory, the tradition began in 1923 as the result of a marketing coup. Advertisements that resembled news items were published on the front pages of several newspapers, shocking readers who failed to grasp that it was a publicity stunt.

This idea spread like wildfire among other publishing houses, and the crime novel became one of the few forms of entertainment available during the Easter break. Cafes, restaurants and movie theatres were closed during Easter, which was supposed to be a time of introspection and repentance. There was no radio, and of course no television either. But everyone could read, and so the Easter crime novel was born. 

Norwegian crime writers

Karin Fossum
Jo Nesbo 

Kjersti Scheen
Gunnar Staalesen
Jon Michelet
Anne Holt

Kjell Ola Dahl
Pernille Rygg
K.O. Dahl

The Scandinavian issue of Mystery Readers Journal is still available (both has hardcopy and .pdf) and has over 92 pages of reviews, articles and Author! Author! essays, many by and about Norwegian crime writers.

Great websites about Norwegian crime writers

Scandinavian Crime Fiction
Scandinavian Books
International Noir Fiction
Detectives without Borders
Euro Crime

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Fragrance: Paper Passion

This may not be the first essence of books on the market, but it's certainly going to be marketed by the most powerful name in fashion. Will it smell like an iPad? A kindle? moldy library books? new books? Well, time will tell.

Designer Karl Lagerfeld, creative director at Chanel and Fendi, as well as his own label, has announced a new fragrance called Paper Passion which will smell like books!  The perfume will come packaged in a hollowed-out hardcover book. Lagerfeld is a voracious reader.

Other Book-Inspired Fragrances:
Library Paperback by Demeter Fragrance
In the Library Water Perfume by CB I Hate Perfume
Library Collection: Opus II by Amouage

Hat tip: Lynn Perednia

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Mysteries 2011: Environmental Crime Fiction

Earth Day: April 22, 2011. Time for an updated Earth Day/Environmental Mysteries List. It's by no means complete. There are many more authors, and certainly more books by many of the authors on the list. This year's I've added a short list of Reservoir Noir at the end. As always, I welcome additions. I took a few liberties on the list, too, but I think they all fall under the umbrella of environmental mysteries.

Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang
Liz Adair's Snakewater Affair
Grace Alexander's Hegemon
Suzanne Arruda's Stalking Ivory
Lindsay Arthur's The Litigators
Sandi Ault's Wild Inferno
Michael Barbour's The Kenai Catastrophe and Blue Water, Blue Island
Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat, Ill Wind and others
Lee Barwood's A Dream of Drowned Hollow?
William Bernhardt's Silent Justice
Donald J Bingle's GreensWord
Michael Black's A Killing Frost
C J Box's Winterkill, Open Season, Below Zero, Savage Run, Out of Range, Trophy Hunt, Free Fire, In Plain Sight
Robin Cook's Fever
Donna Cousins' Landscape
Rex Burns' Endangered Species
Michael Crichton's State of Fear
James Crumley's Dancing Bear
Janet Dawson's Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean
Barbara Delinsky's Looking for Peyton Place
William Deverell's April Fool
David Michael Donovan's Evil Down in the Alley
Rubin Douglas' The Wise Pelican: From the Cradle to the Grave
Aaron J Elkins' The Dark Place
Howard Engle's Dead and Buried
Eric Evans' Endangered
G M Ford's Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?
Clare Francis's The Killing Winds (Requiem)
Matthew Glass' Ultimatum
Ken Goddard's Double Blind, Prey, Wildfire
Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon's Greenwar
Robert O Greer's The Devil's Hatband
John Grisham's The Pelican Brief, The Appeal
Jean Hager's Ravenmocker
William Hagard's The Vendettists
James W. Hall's Bones of Coral
Patricia Hall's The Poison Pool
Joseph Hall's Nightwork
Joseph Heywood's Blue Wolf in Green Fire, Ice Hunter, Chasing a Blond Moon
Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip, Stormy Weather, Sick Puppy, Strip Tease
John Hockenberry's A River out of Eden
Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow
John Holt's Hunted
Mary Ellen Hughes' A Taste of Death
Dana Andrew Jennings' Lonesome Standard Time
Linda Kistler's Cause for Concern
Janice Law's Infected be the Air
Donna Leon's Death in a Strange Country, About Face
David Liss' The Ethical Assassin
Sam Llewellyn's Deadeye
John D MacDonald's Barrier Island (and other titles)
Larry Maness' Once a Perfect Place
Elizabeth Manz's Wasted Space
John Martel's Partners
Steve Martini's Critical Mass
Deon Meyer's Blood Safari
Skye Kathleen Moody's Blue Poppy
Marcia Muller's Cape Perdido
Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie
Michael Palmer's Fatal
Sarah Paretsky's Blood Shot
T. Jefferson's Parker's Pacific Beat
Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried
Carl Posey's Bushmaster Fall
David Poyer's As the Wolf Loves Winter, Winter in the Heart
Ruth Rendell's Road Rage
Rebecca Rothenberg's The Shy Tulip Murders
Patricia Rushford's Red Sky in the Mourning
Kirk Russell's Shell Games
Frank Schätzing's The Swarm
Barry Siegel's Actual Innocence
Sheila Simonson's An Old Chaos 
Jessica Speart's Bird Brained
Dana Stabenow's A Cold Day for Murder, A Deeper Sleep, A Fine and Bitter Snow, Midnight Come Again, A Taint in the Blood, and many others.
Neal Stephenson's Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller
David Sundstrand's Shadow of the Raven
William Tapply's Cutter's Run
Peter Temple's The Broken Shore
David Rains Wallace's The Turquoise Dragon
Lee Wallingford's Clear-Cut Murder
Joseph Wambaugh's Finnegan's Week
Sterling Watson's Deadly Sweet
Randy Wayne's White Captiva
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt
K.J.A. Wishnia's The Glass Factory

New this year is the following list of Reservoir Noir. Thanks to I think these books that deal with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons is a sad but welcome addition to the environmental crime fiction list.

Alan Dipper's Drowning Day
Eileen Dunlop's Valley of the Deer (YA)
Lee Harris's Christening Day Murder
Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height
Donald James' Walking the Shadows
James D. Landis' The Talking (Artist of the Beautiful)
Jane Langton's Emily Dickenson is Dead
Julia Wallis Martin's A Likeness in Stone
Sharyn McCrumb's Zombies of the Gene Pool
Michael Miano's The Dead of Summer
Ron Rash's One Foot in Eden
Rick Riordan's The Devil Went Down to Austin
Peter Robinson's In a Dry Season
Lisa See's Dragon Bones
Paul Somers' Broken Jigsaw
Julia Spencer-Fleming's Out of the Deep I Cry
Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes
John Morgan Wilson's Rhapsody in Blood
Stuart Woods' Under the Lake

Let me know if I've forgotten any titles.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Peter Lovesey's Peter Diamond Bath TV series?

The Bath Chronicle reports:  
Production companies are being wooed in a campaign to persuade them to turn a series of detective novels set in Bath into a TV series. Tourism bosses are hoping that author Peter Lovesey's Bath detective Peter Diamond might follow in the footsteps of Oxford's Inspector Morse. Mr Lovesey will be in Bath next week to launch his latest novel Stagestruck, which is set at the Theatre Royal, and to reveal more details about the hopes of a TV series.

Marketing body Future Bath Plus has taken out an option on the series, which means it has first refusal on negotiating with production companies to get the filming off the ground. It is working with Bath-based director Giles Foster, who has been involved with series such as Foyle's War and The Four Seasons, which was shot in the city a few years ago.

Although the plans are still in the early stages, Mr Lovesey, the author of 11 books about Det Supt Diamond who is based at Manvers Street police station, said he was hopeful that a series would go ahead. Lovesey said: "If it happens then of course I would be over the moon, really thrilled.
"With all these things, we don't believe it will really happen until they actually start the filming. There have been a few disappointments all the way along, where things have seemed like they will happen, but this time it does seem to be looking promising. "They are putting a proposal together and it is looking good to me. I will be thrilled if it comes to something this time."


Hat Tip: Soho Press

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

David Hewson: Guest Post & Book Giveaway

Today I welcome David Hewson, author of the award winning Nic Costa series.

Book Giveaway: David's publishers have kindly offered 2 signed copies of The Fallen Angel. In order to win, just leave a comment about David's books or this guest post. Winners (randomly chosen) will be announced on Mystery Fanfare on April 23. Be sure and check back to see if you've won. At that time, I'll need your email and snail mail address.

4/24: Book Winners: Beth Groundwater & Sal T. Make sure I have your snail-mail address, and I'll send you the signed copies. :-)

David Hewson has written several novels featuring Detective Nic Costa, beginning with A Season for the Dead. Interestingly, his debut novel, Shanghai Thunder, was published by Robert Hale, in the U.K., in 1986, but most copies were sent to libraries, and it is not recognized in subsequent publications. His second book, Semana Santa, set in Spain during Holy Week, was made into a movie starring Mira Sorvino, and won the W H Smith Fresh Talent prize for one of the best first novels of 1996. David has also written a number of standalone novels, including Lucifer's Shadow and The Promised Land and wrote the second chapter of the audio serial novel The Chopin Manuscript started by Jeffery Deaver, with Lee Child and 13 other co-writers, for the audiobook site He is a weekly columnist for the Sunday Times. The Fallen Angel will be released in the U.S. on April 26.

Where The Fallen Angel came from

All writers of fiction are liars at heart. The better we lie, the more convincing the fiction. One handy way to make your lies more persuasive is to mix them up with the truth. Then those fortunate suckers who carry the label ‘readers’ have to struggle to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. With any luck they give up and just get swallowed whole by the story.
Damn. I just gave away a secret.

I love writing stories set in Rome because there’s so much amazing truth there it always prompts me to come up with a bunch of lies bold enough and wild enough to share the same space in the reader’s mind. And because it’s Rome the evidence for that truth, even if it’s centuries, even millennia old, still lies there between the cracks in the cobble stones, the patina of the ages, dust for an ancient audit trail.

Take this astonishing tale. At the end of the sixteenth century the aristocrat Francesco Cenci lorded it over his noble family, mostly from a grim, foreboding palace in the heart of what is now the Roman ghetto. Francesco, everyone agrees, is a monster. A violent bully, always in arguments with his family and his neighbours. But he’s also a lord of Rome, scion of a family that traces its lineage back a millennium and a half to imperial times. He can get away with anything he likes in these bleak times.

One day Francesco takes his family to his distant country castle. A little while later he’s found dead outside the window of his bedroom. It looks as if he’s fallen from the window, but the locals are suspicious. They know how much he was hated, how many enemies he has.
The Vatican’s investigators arrived and immediately suspect, from the head wounds he’s sustained, he was murdered then dumped from the window. They look at his family and take them to Rome for interrogation.

Interrogation means torture, of course. The strappado, hands tied behind your back, jerked up and down, often till your shoulders are dislocated. They do this to Francesco’s wife and she says nothing. To his beautiful young daughter who remains silent. Then to his son who cracks, and confesses to a plot involving the whole family to murder Francesco for his brutality, the worst of which was repeated sexual abuse of Beatrice, that innocent-looking daughter.

The Cenci are patricides then, but aristocratic patricides. Ordinary citizens who murder, and do a lot less in the fifteenth century, go to the scaffold immediately. The rich ones usually get off with a smack on the wrist. Not now, though. For reasons still unclear the Pope demands the ultimate, public punishment of Francesco’s murderers. The son is brutally tortured as he’s taken in a tumbril along the Tiber, then bludgeoned to death with a mallet on a platform by the bridge to the Castel Sant’Angelo. The mother is beheaded, and young Beatrice too, much to the outrage of the population of Rome who have turned out in their thousands to demand forgiveness for this most innocent of criminals.

Nothing doing… she bravely walks in silence to the block, and her remains are then carried by the multitude to an anonymous grave in the beautiful little church of Montorio.

The story doesn’t end there, though. A painting emerges, one you can still see on the walls of the Barberini gallery. Supposedly it was painted by Guido Reni the night before Beatrice’s death. It shows a beautiful, virginal young girl, innocent and brave. That painting entrances the English poet Shelley who writes a play about Beatrice. Her story catches the imagination of writers and artists across the world, from Alexandre Dumas to Stendhal, Moravia and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Beatrice becomes a cause celebre. Her ghost is reputed to haunt the bridge over the Tiber where she died each night on the anniversary of her death, September 11. A memorial service still takes place in the family church, by Francesco’s palazzo, now an apartment and office block, each year on the same day.

This is Rome, you see. History isn’t a discrete part of the past, an exhibit behind glass in a museum. It’s a part of the present, always there ready to whisper in your ear.

When I decided to use Beatrice’s story as the starting point for THE FALLEN ANGEL, the ninth Costa mystery, I set out to retrace Beatrice’s steps during those final months in Rome. The book features a young English girl, Mina Gabriel, obsessed with Beatrice’s story, not least because her own father has died in a very similar fashion, falling from a window not far from the Palazzo Cenci.
Mina takes Nic Costa on a private tour of Beatrice’s Rome, one that mirrors my own travels as I worked on the background to this book. It begins, of course, in the Barberini with that extraordinary portrait on the wall. After that it’s not hard to find where she was tortured, where she was kept in a cell. The exact place of her death is easy to locate too, now crossed by thousands of unknowing tourists every day as they walk the pedestrian route to the Vatican. After that you can tread the steps of her bier all the way up to Montorio, the peaceful little church behind Trastevere where Napoleon’s soldiers, conscious of her remains, dug up her body and played football with her skull before scattering her bones across the Roman hillside where, eighteen hundred years before, Saint Peter was supposedly crucified.

And finally I found the black museum of the Italian Justice Ministry. There, in a glass case, was a long executioner’s sword. The exact blade, historians believe, that took the life of this beautiful young girl.
See what I mean about history being alive? It always is in Rome. But history’s made of dubious material too at times, and the more I delved into Beatrice’s tale the more I began to be reminded of that old saw from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance… When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Because the Beatrice we know, that virginal teenager on the wall, is a legend. We may not know the full truth of her story, but we know enough to understand that, while deeply tragic, it probably wasn’t as straightforward as Shelley and his followers would have us believe.

But that’s a story for the book, not here. THE FALLEN ANGEL is, like the tale of Beatrice Cenci, a very Roman story, one that scarcely moves outside a small area of the centro storico in the ghetto where she lived and, one warm August day in 1598, died beneath the executioner’s blade. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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 expanded from last year, but, as always, I welcome any additions. I've also added some Good Friday mysteries, rounding out the upcoming weekend.

Antiques Bizarre by Barbara Allan
Aunt Dimity: Detective by Nancy Atherton
Death and the Easter Bunny by Linda Berry
Easter Weekend by David Bottoms
The Last Enemy by Grace Brophy
Papa la-Bas by John Dickson Carr
Do You Promise Not To Tell? by Mary Jane Clark
Little Easter by Reed Farrel Coleman
Last Easter by Caroline Conklin
Murder on Good Friday by Sara Conway
Holy Terrors by Mary R. Daheim
The House of Death by Paul Doherty
Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans
Deadly Sin by P.J. Grady
Precious Blood by Jane Haddam
The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris 
Semana Santa by David Hewson
Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy
Easter Murders by Bryant Jackson & Edward Meadows
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Do Not Exceed the Stated Dose (short stories) by Peter Lovesey
Some Like It Lethal by Nancy Martin
Prey on Patmos by Jeffrey Siger
And Four To Go aka The Easter Parade by Rex Stout
Midnight at the Camposanto by Mari Ulmer
The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie

Short Story: "The Man on the Cross" by Bill Crider from the collection Thou Shalt Not Kill, edited by Anne Perry.

Looking for Easter Chocolate to eat while reading? Stop by my other Blog, for some great Chocolate Easter Recipes and Reviews.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Rug

O.K. once again this 'book' item is made of discarded books, but maybe the library was recycling them anyway. I'd like to think that... well, really, I'd like to think the library keeps all of its books, but I know that's not so. So here you have it... a rug made of books... well, a floorcovering made of books.

Apartment Therapy

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reading during the Blitz

Cara Black shared this photo of London during the Blitz.
What were people doing? Reading!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Passover Mysteries: Crime Fiction

With the Jewish holiday of Passover just around the corner (starts sundown April 18 this year), I thought I'd update my Passover Crime Fiction list. Since it's such a short list, I suggest you check out HERE, HERE, and HERE for this year's Chocolate Passover Recipes.

Passover Crime Fiction

Conspirators by Michael Andre Bernstein 
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks 
The Passover Murder by Lee Harris 
All Other Nights by Dara Horn
Never Nosh a Matzo Ball by Sharon Kahn
Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home by Harry Kemelman 
The Samaritans' Secret by Matt Beynon Rees 
The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield 
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra
The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie (on my Easter list, too!)
The Big Nap by Ayelet Waldman 
The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia

Thursday, April 14, 2011

International Thriller Writers Award Nominees

The International Thriller Writers (ITW) nominees for its 2011 Thriller Awards

Best Hardcover Novel:
• The Reversal, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
• Edge, by Jeffery Deaver (Simon & Schuster)
• The Burying Place, by Brian Freeman (Minatour)
• Skin, by Mo Hayder (Grove)
• Bad Blood, by John Sanford (Putnam)

Best Paperback Original:
• Down Among the Dead Men, by Robert Gregory Browne (St. Martin’s)
• You Can’t Stop Me, by Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens (Pinnacle)
• The Cold Room, by J.T. Ellison (Mira)
• Torn Apart, by Shane Gericke (Pinnacle)
• The Venice Conspiracy, by John Trace (Hachette Digital)

Best First Novel:
• The Things That Keep Us Here, by Carla Buckley (Random House)
• The Poacher’s Son, by Paul Doiron (Minatour)
• The Insider, by Reece Hirsch (Berkley)
• Drink the Tea, by Thomas Kaufman (Minatour)
• Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin’s)

Best Short Story:
• “Second Wind,” by Mike Carey (from The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology, edited by Christopher Golden; St. Martin's)
• “Blue on Black,” by Michael Connelly (The Strand Magazine)
• “The God for Vengeance Cry,” by Richard Helms (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
• “Madeeda,” by Harley Jane Kozak (from Crimes By Midnight, edited by Charlaine Harris; Berkley)
• “Chasing the Dragon,” by Nicolas Kaufman (ChiZine Magazine)
• “Long Time Dead,” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (The Strand Magazine)

Winners will be announced at ThrillerFest VI, to be held at New York City’s Grand Hyatt Hotel from July 6 to 9.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Castle Poker Scene: Crime Writers

Castle Poker Scene.  Mystery Writers
Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane

Hat Tip: Judy Bobalik

CWA Dagger in the Library

This week is National Library Week, so it's particularly fitting that the The Crime Writers Association announced the longlist for the CWA Dagger in the Library.

SJ Bolton (Bantam Press, Transworld)
William Brodrick (Little, Brown)
RJ Ellory (Orion)
Jason Goodwin (Faber & Faber)
Elly Griffths (Quercus)
Sophie Hannah (Hodder & Stoughton)
John Harvey (Willian Heinemann)
Mo Hayder (Bantam, Transworld)
Susan Hill (Vintage)
Graham Hurley (Orion)
Peter James (Macmillan)
Philip Kerr (Quercus)
Phil Rickman (Quercus)
CJ Sansom (Macmillan)
Andrew Taylor (Penguin)
LC Tyler (Macmillan)

The CWA Dagger in the Library is sponsored by The Random House Group. Authors are nominated by UK libraries and Readers’ Groups and judged by a panel of librarians, all of whom work with the public. The Dagger is awarded to an author for a body of work, rather than a single title. As well as the Dagger, the winning author receives a cheque for £1500. Groups nominating the winning author will be entered into a draw for £300 to be spent on books.

The shortlist will be announced at Crimefest on May 20. The winner will be announced, along with other Daggers, during the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, on the evening of July 22.

Hat Tip: The Rap Sheet

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jason Goodwin Literary Salon Berkeley April 21

Join Mystery Readers NorCal (Berkeley, CA) at 7 p.m. on April 21, as we welcome back Edgar Award winning UK Jason GoodwinJason Goodwin is the bestselling author of The Janissary Tree, The Snake Stone, and The Bellini Card, the first three books in his series of novels featuring Yashim. Goodwin studied Byzantine history at Cambridge and is the author of Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire, among other award-winning nonfiction. He is on a US tour for the fourth in the series, An Evil Eye.

Please RSVP for directions by email or by posting a comment.

In the first three previous novels, Jason Goodwin has taken us on stylish, suspenseful, and vibrant excursions into its exotic territory. Now, in An Evil Eye, the mystery of Istanbul runs deeper than ever before. It’s 1839, and the admiral of the Ottoman fleet has defected to the Egyptians. It’s up to the intrepid Investigator Yashim to uncover the man’s motives. Of course, Fevzi Ahmet is no stranger to Yashim—it was Fevzi who taught the investigator his craft years ago. He’s the only man whom Yashim has ever truly feared: ruthless, cruel, and unswervingly loyal to the sultan. So what could have led Yashim’s former mentor to betray the Ottoman Empire?

Yashim’s search draws him into the sultan’s seraglio, a well-appointed world with an undercurrent of fear, ambition, and deep-seated superstition. When the women of the sultan’s orchestra begin inexplicably to grow ill and die, Yashim discovers that the admiral’s defection may be rooted somewhere in the torturous strictures of the sultan’s harem.

Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times: “Mr. Goodwin uses rich historical detail to elevate the books in this series . . . far above the realm of everyday sleuthing.”

Join Mystery Readers Thursday night, April 21, as Jason Goodwin talks about the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul and writing.

Location: Berkeley, CA Please email or comment to RSVP

Cool Idea of the Day: Roald Dahl on Cereal Boxes

I'm Janet, and I love to read! As a child we were not allowed to read at the breakfast table, but that didn't keep me from reading the cereal box. Now, Puffin has struck a deal to promote reading on cereal boxes. Excerpts from Roald Dahl's books will appear on millions of cereal boxes during the next few weeks, to help encourage British children to read.

Although this is the first time literary stories have appeared, cereal box copy has often included 'stories' and contests which usually included reading several special boxes to solve the mystery and win a prize... ah, the mystery connection! There were also special boxes with books inside (Nabisco Shredded Wheat), but that's another story!

The Telegraph reported that the promotion resulted from a deal struck among Puffin, Dahl's estate and the supermarket chain Asda. Excerpts from The Witches, The Twits, The BFG, Danny: The Champion of the World and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be printed on the back of the supermarket's own-brand children's cereals.

"The great thing about a cereal box, is that it potentially is reaching millions of households that just don't read any literature outside of school," said Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin's children books. "There could be an enormous number of children discovering Roald Dahl for the first time, bleary eyed over the breakfast table."

Dow added, "There is a real awareness in the publishing world that there is an increasingly tight competition for children's time, especially from digital activities such as games consoles, as they grow up. And combine that with anxieties about school budgets being cut and libraries closing and we need to find different ways to get books in front of children, especially children growing up in households that don't read."

Hat Tip:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Avery Ames: Guest Post & Book Contest

Today I welcome Avery Aames with a unique post. Not only does Avery tells us about her Cheese Shop Mystery Series, but she gives a recipe with photos...and she's offering three copies of her latest novel, Lost and Fondue to commenters. To win a copy, just comment on why you would like to read the book. Winners (random numbers) will be announced on this post on April 13. Be sure and stop back to see if you've won. 

4/13: WINNERS are Gram, Fricka & Janet Bolin. Please email me with your snail-mail address, so Avery can send you a copy of Lost and Fondue. Thanks for commenting!

Avery Aames is the author of A Cheese Shop Mystery series. The first, The Long Quiche Goodbye, is a national bestseller. Avery is an Agatha Award nominee for “Best First Novel.” Avery blogs at Mystery Lovers Kitchen - a blog for foodies who love mysteries. And some of her characters show up on the Killer Characters blog,  You can pre-order LOST AND FONDUE HERE.

AVERY AMES: “I’m melting…”

I love fondue. Don’t you? And guess what? It’s National Fondue Day. That’s right. According to a number of Internet sites, every April 11 is National Fondue Day. Who came up with the idea of a day to celebrate cheese fondue? Well, I’m not exactly sure. I couldn’t dredge up a name after extensive research. It might have been a cheese company that originated the idea. Who cares, right? Fondue has been around for a while. There are references in Homer’s The Iliad about a dish prepared with wine, goat cheese and flour. But the Swiss made it popular. The dish came into being centuries ago as a result of food preservation. Breads and cheeses made in the summer and fall needed to last through the winter. The bread turned hard; the cheese turned hard. But the cheese, when heated and mixed with wine, turned into a thick sauce. The bread, which was so hard it required an axe to chop it, [I’ve had bread like that in my breadbox, haven’t you?] became soft if dipped in the warm cheese. Yum!

What’s not to love about fondue? It’s romantic, it’s easy, it’s delish. It’s usually made up of two or more cheeses, heated in a caqualon, or communal pot.

So why am I so obsessed with fondue? Because my next book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series is called LOST AND FONDUE. In the story, Charlotte’s friend Meredith decides to throw a fund-raiser to create a liberal arts college. Meredith asks Charlotte to provide cheese and fondue for the event, and Charlotte is excited until she learns the location for the fund-raiser—a long-abandoned winery that is rumored to hold not only buried bodies but buried treasure. Charlotte’s joie de vivre deflates like a bad soufflé. Her fears are realized when an art student is found dead in the wine cellar, and Meredith’s niece is the main suspect. Fondue is a mainstay of the novel. Charlotte shares a few recipes. She serves different fondue tastings at The Cheese Shop. And fondue actually plays a part in solving the mystery.

In honor of the release of the book, I’m sharing a new fondue recipe with you today. It’s something I created by combining a couple of normal cheeses with Doux de Montagne fondue. Doux de Montagne cheese is a pale light cheese with teensy little holes and a fruity, buttery flavor. It’s one of my favorites.

For Fondue:
2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped yellow onions

1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Half ‘n Half 

8 ounces Doux de Montagne cheese (may substitute with cream cheese)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (packed) grated Gruyère cheese

For potatoes:
1 pound new potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Wooden skewers


For Potatoes:
Combine 6 cups water and salt in large saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are just tender when pierced with skewer, about 6 -12 minutes. Drain. Cut potatoes in half or quarters (bite-sized). Transfer potatoes to bowl. Add olive oil and parsley; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Potatoes may be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover refrigerate. [Reheat potatoes in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.]
For Fondue:
Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add Half ‘n Half and grated cheeses. Whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. [If it feels too thick, add a little regular milk to thin.]
Place potatoes on platter. Spear each with skewer. Serve with warm fondue.

Click this link to print a recipe card. Just so you know, I have created a how-to-make fondue movie on my website and on youtube. Feel free to share it.

Also, if you’re interested, I’m running a launch contest on my website. Check out the “rules.” You’ll also find a sneak preview of chapter one and my new book trailer.

What’s your favorite fondue? Or where did you first taste fondue? Or if you’ve never tasted it, who would be the one celebrity you’d like to taste fondue with?

Three commenters today will win signed copies of LOST AND FONDUE. Remember to provide your email. You can put it in the post and separate by extra spaces to avoid spammers.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reimagining Favorite Albums as Book Covers

I love this slide show in which rock albums are reimagined as book covers. This article appeared in Mother Jones. When you go through the Slide Show, take note that many of the 'covers' are cast as classic crime fiction.

"What if your favorite rock album was a book? Christophe Gowans was wondering the same thing. "I got to thinking, well, what would those records look like if they actually were books, if the name of the album was actually the title of a novel or reference book?" Gowans, a graphic designer who lives in London, did just that, reimagining everything from Air to Zeppelin as something you might find on your shelf or in a used bookstore. After creating the covers, he digitally ages them—"I know my way round a retouch or two"—to look as well-loved as the LP sleeves and CD booklets that accompany their musical originals."

Read the article and see the Slide Show here (Mother Jones)

The Lineup Blog Tour: Gerald So, Guest Blogger

Crime Fiction is rife for poetry, and the editors and poets of the latest issue of The Lineup: Poems on Crime prove that point. The poems in this collection are sharp, tough and pithy. Good poetry is. Today I welcome Gerald So as guest blogger.

Gerald So and his 'partners in crime' are on a Blog Tour to publicize the Fourth Annual issue of The Lineup: Poems on Crime, edited by Gerald So, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sarah Cortez and R. Narvaez.  Read what Kevin Burton Smith wrote  about this Collection. There's nothing like a poetic review of poetry!  Gerald has asked members of the crime-fiction community to post about The Lineup each day in April, National Poetry Month in the United States (and Canada). Read the other stops with comments, interviews and analysis. Here's the full month's schedule.

Gerald So is best known as fiction editor for The Thrilling Detective Web Site (2001-'09). He also served as president of The Short Mystery Fiction Society (2008-'10).  Since 2008, he has co-edited THE LINEUP: POEMS ON CRIME, whose fourth annual issue went on sale April 1. 

The idea for THE LINEUP came to me in 2007 from A.E. Roman, author of the Chico Santana P.I. series (CHINATOWN ANGEL, THE SUPERMAN PROJECT). Knowing of my poetry and my work as fiction editor for The Thrilling Detective Web Site, Roman asked if I had ever thought of putting together an anthology of crime-themed poetry. I told him I hadn't, but would explore the idea.

I e-mailed a handful of people I thought had the right sensibilities and book design know-how. Patrick Shawn Bagley, Richie Narvaez, and Anthony Rainone responded. A year earlier, Anthony had had an article published in MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE--"Raven in a Trenchcoat: Hardboiled and Noir Poetry"--in which he traced criminal undertones from classic to postmodern poetry, featuring Patrick and me, among current poets. Richie I knew from his Web site, Asinine Poetry, but I had also accepted a P.I. story of his, "El Bohemio", for Thrilling Detective.

I invited the four of them to co-edit with me, but Roman had no time to read submissions, so Patrick, Richie, Anthony, and I shaped the concept from there. The first annual LINEUP, published in July 2008, was by-invitation-only. We've accepted unsolicited poetry since Issue 2, and have published on April 1--the start of National Poetry Month--since Issue 3. Patrick and Anthony have stepped down to write their novels, but two of THE LINEUP's earliest contributors--Sarah Cortez and Reed Farrel Coleman--have come aboard.

THE LINEUP has featured new and previously published poetry by David Corbett, Ken Bruen, Sophie Hannah, John Harvey, Manuel Ramos, and Stephen Jay Schwartz, to name a few. As of Issue 5, which opened to submissions March 1, we accept only unpublished work. We hope this encourages poets and writers who discover--as I have--there are some moments, some images, poetry captures much better than prose.

THE LINEUP is currently carried by Murder By The Book in Houston, Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, and The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. Buy online HERE

Thanks again, Janet, for inviting me to guest-blog.

Gerald So

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Strand Magazine Critics Awards Nominees

The Strand Magazine announced its nominees for the 2010 Strand Magazine Critics Awards

Best Novel:
The Reversal by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company)
Faithful Place by Tana French (Viking)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (Knopf)
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (William Morrow)
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)

Best First Novel
Blacklands by Belinda Bauer (Simon and Schuster)
Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann (Soho Press)
The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (Twelve)
Snow Angels by James Thompson (Putnam)

"The panel chose a fantastic list of books this year," said Andrew F. Gulli, the managing editor of The Strand. "It's always nice to see some books that you felt were great, but somehow fell under the radar of a lot of people get the recognition they deserve."

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 6, 2011, in New York City.

Agatha Christie

Love this photo of Agatha Christie. It's on my desk, and I have no idea where it came from... but I love it!

Sidney Lumet: R.I.P.

Sidney Lumet, a director who preferred the streets of New York to the back lots of Hollywood and whose stories of conscience — “12 Angry Men,” “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “The Verdict,” “Network” — became modern American film classics, died Saturday morning at his home in Manhattan. He was 86.

In his first film, “12 Angry Men” (1957), he took his cameras into a jury room where the pressure mounted as one tenacious and courageous juror (Henry Fonda) slowly convinced the others that the individual on trial for murder was in fact innocent.

Read the NYT Obit Here.

When Harry Met Sally 2: LOL!

When Harry Met Sally 2 with Billy Crystal & Helen Mirren. Click on the Second Video. LOL!!!

Funny or Die Featured Videos from Funny or Die

Hat Tip: Janet Appel/Kirsten Saxton

Friday, April 8, 2011

Craig Thomas: R.I.P.

Author David Craig Owen Thomas known as Craig Thomas, a Welsh author of thrillers, most notably the "Mitchell Gant" series, has died at the age of 69 after a recent illness from pneumonia following a short battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Fans regard the Cardiff-born author as the inventor of the Techno-Thriller genre which includes his book, Firefox, made into a Hollywood blockbuster. The 1982 movie starred Clint Eastwood as the US fighter pilot and spy Mitchell Gant, a character in a series of Thomas's books. Firefox Down the sequel to Firefox was dedicated to Clint Eastwood.

Thomas wrote 17 novels between 1976 and 1998. Aside from writing techno-thrillers Thomas also wrote books relating to philosophy the most recent being a two-volume book on the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.

The BBC obituary can be found here and the Western Mail obituary here.

Hat Tip: Ayo Onatade,

Bookshelf Apartment

Now this is an apartment after my own heart! Saw this on, my favorite site for odd utilitarian items. I think I can fill all of these bookshelves and still have stacks of books on the floor.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Russell Hill: Guest Blog

Today I welcome Russell Hill, twice nominated Edgar Award author. I have read all his novels, and I've loved them all. Each is unique in style and subject matter. The Dog Sox, his latest, may or may not be a mystery, but it's a terrific read. You decide about the mystery part. Because I enjoyed it so much (and I'm not a baseball fan), I asked Russell if he would write a guest post about how he came to write The Dog Sox. Enjoy!

Russell Hill is the author of two Edgar nominated novels, has been translated into French, German, Spanish and Polish. He has two novels currently under film option. He has lived long enough in California to consider himself a native, is married, has three children and six grandchildren. His latest novel is titled, The Dog Sox, published by Caravel Books, an imprint of Pleasure Boat Studio, A Literary Press in New York.


Fifty years ago I watched the Oroville Otters play baseball in a ballpark that had some grass, a lot of dirt, and a big gold dredge working in the darkness beyond left field. Years later I watched the Palladini Humboldt Crabs play in a sparkling little ballpark in Arcata where a home run over the left field fence landed in the middle of highway 101. They were semi-pro teams, which meant that some of the players hoped to get to the big leagues, or at least to double-A ball, and others simply played because they loved baseball. It was different from the Big Leagues. It was exciting, filled with mistakes and silliness and guys trying so hard to make a play they risked everything.

After I finished The Lord God Bird, and went to New York to the Edgars and didn’t win, I thought to myself, what can I set fire to next? And somehow, The Dog Sox came to mind.

I spent the next six months inventing a semi-pro team in California’s Central Valley. I had, for years, driven through Knight’s Landing, and one of the chapters in the book is true: I did see a dog get run over by a farm truck one afternoon, and it stuck with me, burned into my memory.

I love dogs, had my first one when I was nine, and had to leave Pam in Illinois when we moved West. She was a cocker spaniel with a brain the size of a walnut who would play with us in the vacant lot next door in the snow, and then whine when she came inside, ice frozen between her toes. I would have to lie on the floor and pick out the ice and rub her with a towel. That’s about all I remember about her. Years later, when my children were small, we got a dog named Sasha, a schnauzer-poodle mix who was sweet and ran in circles. She got run over by a car and her replacement was a schnauzer named Quincy, who thought he was a big dog. He ended up as my dog because he bit groomers and eventually ended up unraveling, his hips coming apart, his eyesight and hearing fading. I have no dog now, but I want a dog like the one Ray Adams had in The Dog Sox. He gave the semi-pro baseball team to Ava Belle, a beautiful San Francisco lawyer, and I was off to the races.

I had gone to San Francisco Giants games with Dan Goltz, who grew up with a Jewish immigrant grandfather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Dan became my model for Dutch Goltz, the manager of the Dog Sox. And once I found Billy Collins, the freak 19-year-old submarine pitcher, I knew I had a story. I’m not sure where he came from. It wasn’t a mystery, like The Lord God Bird or Robbie’s Wife before that, both Edgar nominees. But it had crime in it: an arson, a plot to murder Billy Collins’ father, a midnight swim by Ava that nearly killed her, and the Mexican brother of girl that Billy falls in love with who threatens to do major damage to Billy’s vital parts if he touches the sister. The story has the same elements of a good mystery: waiting for something to happen that could be devastating to a main character, ferreting out the answer to a life threatening problem. It had moments from my own life: a cabin in the Sierras turned into a motel in Knight’s Landing, places in San Francisco, and memories of my father, who was a finish carpenter.

Otis Bickford, the middle relief pitcher was loosely based on a teacher I shared a classroom with at Tamalpais High School. He had pitched in a European league and he was tall and good-looking and eventually ended up teaching school, although he spent a summer in the only season of the Israel Baseball League where he was the league’s best pitcher. He wrote a book about his experiences, just as Otis Bickford wrote a book about the Dog Sox, and it comes out this May under a University of Nebraska imprint.

I filled the book with scenes that I knew--the Central Valley, the rice fields and the egrets that pick their way along the edges, and the Sacramento River flowing heavily through Knight’s Landing.

John Osborne, who wrote The Paper Chase, sat next to me one night years ago in our house during dinner. The power had gone out and the neighborhood had gathered, bringing their food to our house because we had a gas stove that worked during a blackout, and a dozen oil lamps, some of which we had bought during a year abroad in England. We talked about writing and he said that he felt a story needed to be “grounded.” You could not believe in the characters unless you could believe in where they lived. That their surroundings defined them.

I have spent a good deal of time following that advice. In Robbie’s Wife I used the English landscape where we lived in Dorset to define what happens. And in The Lord God Bird, the swampy forests of northern Louisiana became characters in the novel. The darkness and mystery of those swamps shaped what would happen to the two teenagers who were trapped in a growing maelstrom of danger.

So, The Dog Sox grew out of Knight’s Landing, even though the town has no team and no ballpark. But in my head there was a team on hot summer nights, mosquitoes humming in the neighboring rice fields; it became a real team, with real players and real fans, and the burritos served at the ballpark tasted real to me.

This is a different story for me. Otis Bickford gives Ava Belle a copy of Bob Feller’s Strikeout Story. When I was ten years old, I went to Sunday School where the teacher told us that if we memorized a psalm, she would give us a book. I had only a minimal interest in psalms, but I wanted a copy of that book. Feller was 17 years old when he was signed by the Cleveland Indians. He grew up in Van Meter, Iowa where his father, a farmer, leveled a corn field to make a baseball diamond where his son learned to throw a baseball at more than a hundred miles an hour. So I learned a psalm, recited it, and she was true to her word. I still have that book. It’s the one Otis Bickford gives to Ava Belle in The Dog Sox.

Russell Hill will be reading from and discussing his latest novel at the following Bay Area locations: 
M is for Mystery, San Mateo: April 16, 2 pm
Green Apple Books, San Francisco: April 21, 7 pm
The Book Depot, Mill Valley, April 28, 7 pm