Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cartoon of the Day: Ancient Egyptian Crime Scene



Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and the Deanston Distillery announced the shortlist for the third annual Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The award, which recognizes excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1000 and nation-wide promotion in Waterstone’s, will be announced at a gala event on September 20 as part of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival.


Chris Brookmyre, Flesh Wounds
Neil Broadfoot, Falling Fast
Natalie Haynes, The Amber Fury
Peter May, Entry Island
Louise Welsh, A Lovely Way To Burn
Nicola White, In The Rosary Garden

HT: Karen Meek at EuroCrime

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Final Poirot Episodes only available on Acorn TV

Although two more episodes of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot starring David Suchet will be on PBS Masterpiece Mystery! tonight and next Sunday, (The Big Four and Dead Man's Folly), the final three episodes will only be available in August on Acorn TVThose episodes include Elephants Can Remember (Aug. 11) and Labours of Hercules (Aug. 18) and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case on Aug. 25.

Hercule Poirot: The Big Four tonight!

David Suchet returns as Hercule Poirot tonight on PBS Masterpiece Mystery! Episode: The Big Four.

The Big Four plunges Poirot into a world of global espionage, set against the backdrop of the impending WWII. The public is in a panic after the shocking death of a Russian chess grandmaster at the climax of a high-profile international Peace Party reception. With the help of old friends Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon, Poirot must make a dramatic move that only a chess champion could love, while navigating international figures and intrigues in order to identify the culprit. Adapted by Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), The Big Four reunites David Suchet with Hugh Fraser as sidekick Captain Hastings, Philip Jackson as Inspector Japp, and Pauline Moran as secretary Miss Lemon.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Winemaker Detective Series: 5 more titles!

Le French Book Mystery and Thriller publisher just signed on five more books in the Winemaker Detective Series of whodunits set in French wine country. Read an interview with the authors -- 'Partners in Crime' HERE.

The Winemaker Detective Series, by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, offers an immersion in French countryside and gourmet attitude, with two wine-loving amateur detectives. This cozy mysteries series will "whet the appetite of lovers of both Iron Chef and Murder, She Wrote."

Already a popular television series in France, the Winemaker Detective series is being translated into English by mystery and thriller publisher Le French Book, which just signed the rights for five more titles. With these new titles, the Winemaker Detective will travel to Montmartre, in Paris, Beaujolais, Alsace, Romanée-Conti (Burgundy) and all the way to Hungary's Tokay region.

Publisher Anne Trager says, "These are entertaining cozy mysteries full of wine lore and food loving zeal. As the series goes on, the two main characters grow, and their adventures continue, while readers get to vicariously explore more wine country. They are great fun."

Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a wine and food lover and the grandson of a winemaker.

Coauthor of the Winemaker Detective series, Noël Balen lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.

The first in the series, Treachery in Bordeaux, introduces the characters. This journey to Bordeaux takes readers behind the scenes of a grand cru wine estate that has fallen victim to sabotage. World-renowned winemaker Benjamin Cooker sets out to find out what happened and why. Who would want to target this esteemed vintner? Grand Cru Heist navigates from the Loire Valley to Bordeaux. In between a glass of Vouvray and a bottle of Saint-Émilion, the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and very peculiar heist. Who stole those bottles of grand cru classé? In Nightmare in Burgundy, the Winemaker Detective leaves his native Bordeaux for a dream wine-tasting trip in Burgundy, France's other key wine region. His stay turns into a troubling nightmare when he stumbles upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era. In Deadly Tasting, a serial killer stalks Bordeaux, signing his crimes with a strange ritual. To understand the wine-related symbolism, the local police call on the famous wine critic Benjamin Cooker. The investigation leads them to the dark hours of France’s history, as the mystery thickens among the once-peaceful vineyards of Pomerol.

Le French Book (http://www.lefrenchbook.com) is a New York-based publisher specialized in great reads from France, with a growing catalog of top contemporary mysteries and thrillers with a French touch.

Friday, July 25, 2014

International Latino Book Awards: Mystery

The International Latino Book Awards occurred on June 28th in Las Vegas as part of the American Library Association 2014 Conference. For all Categories and Winners, go HERE.

Best Novel - Mystery 

First Place: Te Espero en el Cielo, Blanca Irene Arbeláez; Book Press NY; Colombia

Second Place: Every Broken Trust, Linda Rodriguez; Minotaur Books; St. Martin’s Press; 

Honorable Mention:  Desperado: A Mile High Noir, Manuel Ramos; Arte Publico Press; USA & México

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Iceland Picks The Icepick Award

The organizers of  the Iceland Noir festival in Reykjavik (November 20-23) have announced thefinalists for the inaugural Icepick Award celebrating translated crime fiction. They are:
La Vérité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert [The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair] by Joël Dicker; Icelandic translation by Friðrik Rafnsson
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; Icelandic translation by
Bjarni Jónsson   
Panserhjerte [The Leopard] by Jo Nesbø; Icelandic translation by Bjarni Gunnarsson 
Människa utan hund [Man Without Dog] by Håkan Nesser; Icelandic translation by Ævar Örn Jósepsson 
Veljeni vartija [My Brother’s Keeper] by Antti Tuomainen; Icelandic translation by Sigurður Karlsson
The winner will be announced at Reykjavik’s Nordic House on November 22.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Ultimate Tequila Shooter!

Tommorrow July 24 is Tequila Day! This ultimate Tequila Shooter is pretty cool.. O.K. it's a gun, but it's Tequila! Tequila Hijos de Villa.

Want some chocolate with your Tequila to celebrate the day? Try these Tequila Brownies!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner: R.I.P.

James Garner, star of Maverick and Rockford Files, dies at 86.

Read the LA Times obituary here.

Watch Rockford Files Friends and Foul Play below.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Brother Cadfael Books to be released as eBooks

I really enjoyed the Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series, so I am very excited that this popular historical mystery series -- The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael -- will be released as eBooks for the first time on August 5, 2014.  This should introduce the series to a whole new generation of readers.

The first book, A Morbid Taste for Bones, was published in 1977. The series was adapted into a wonderful television show on PBS Mystery! with Derek Jacobi playing Cadfael. With terrific local setting and historical details, the Cadfael Series is an iconic  series that portrays life between AD 1120 and AD 1145, during a period of conflict for the British crown. 

Ellis Peters is regarded as the Queen of Historical Mystery Fiction, with the British Crime Writers' Association establishing their Ellis Peters Historical Award for the best historical crime novel of the year.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cartoon of the Day: Jury of English Majors

From Off the Mark!

Theakston's Old Peculier Top Crime Novel of the Year

Theakston's Old Peculier Top Crime Novel of the Year was awarded to Belinda Bauer for Rubbernecker (Bantam).

Here's a link to the shortlist

In addition, Lynda LaPlante was awarded Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Hat Tip: Erin Mitchell...on the ground at Harrogate!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mortuary named after Val McDermid

In case you missed this quirky news item: Val McDermid has had a mortuary named after her.

From The Guardian:

Scotland's murder mystery supremo Val McDermid has just discovered that she is to be given a rather more unusual accolade, after the University of Dundee said it would be christening its new morgue in her honour.

The Val McDermid Mortuary will also feature the Stuart MacBride Dissecting Room, after another of Scotland's top crime writers, and a collection of new submersion tanks named after the likes of Jeffery Deaver, Kathy Reichs and Harlan Coben. The unusual choice of names follows a campaign from the university to raise £1m to build a new morgue, which the crime authors backed, asking members of the public to vote for the writer for whom they would like the morgue to be named, and donate money. McDermid came in first.

Winner of the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger for fiction, its Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement and the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year award, among many other prizes, McDermid called her latest win "a very proud moment for me". "It is kind of weird though," she told the Guardian. "Nobody starts their career thinking 'one day I will have a mortuary named after me'. But it's absolutely up there with winning book prizes, even though it's a different kind of honour."

The author has known Professor Sue Black, who heads the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee, for years, often asking Black for help on the "grisly" technical details of murder when writing her novels, and said that when Black told her about the mortuary project, she felt it was a chance to "give something back to a community that is of tremendous value".

"All crime writers rely on the help of professionals like Sue to make sure we get the details right. Giving a bit of help back in return is the least we can do," said McDermid. "The work that's being done in this mortuary and the knowledge it will communicate means better life chances for all of us. For once, we crime writers have had a chance to put life ahead of death and I'm thrilled to have been part of it."

Black said she was "truly delighted" that the morgue would be named after McDermid, but that "Stuart [MacBride] has been so pivotal in our success that we have also now chosen to name the dissecting room after him". "All of our authors also now have a Thiel submersion tank that carries their name as our way of thanking them for the generosity of spirit," she added. The other writers taking part in the campaign were Lee Child, Jeff Lindsay, Tess Gerritsen, Peter James, Mark Billingham and Caro Ramsay. Child, said McDermid, "was the one writer they really didn't want to win, because it would have been the Child Mortuary. And Lee's said he wants his tank to be the Jack Reacher tank [after his most famous character], for reasons of taste."

MacBride, author of the Logan McRae thrillers, said the news of his dissecting room was a "really big honour". "As runner-up prizes go it's pretty damn special," said the novelist. "It's a really important project and every pound the public have donated is going to make a huge difference to the future of anatomy, forensic science, and medical training."

The new morgue - the Val McDermid Mortuary - will be the first in the country to use the Thiel method of embalming, which the university said "gives surgeons, dentists, scientists and researchers a more realistic method of testing techniques, practising procedures and developing new equipment and approaches".

Cartoon of the Day: Graphic Novel

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Extreme Weather Mysteries: Mystery Readers Journal

Mystery Readers Journal: Extreme Weather Mysteries (Volume 30, No. 2, Summer 2014) is now available!
Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.


  • A Hurricane in Paradise: Ruth Rendell's The Crocodile Bird by Barbara Fass Leavy
  • A Few Heat Strokes by Maggie Topkis
  • Freezing, Blowing, Zapping by Glynn Marsh Alam
  • Extreme Weather at the Bottom of the Thermometer by Richard Anderson
  • Starlight Tours by Wayne Arthurson
  • Wilderness + Heavy Rain = Extreme Danger by Pamela Beason
  • The Foggy Dew by Lillian Stewart Carl
  • Hell With the Lid Blown Off by Donis Casey
  • Weather + "What if?" = Stories with Atmosphere by Bobbi A. Chukran
  • A Weathered Orchard by Sheila Connolly
  • And Did Those Feet? by Judith Cutler
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night by Vicki Delany
  • Flood, Drought and Wind Pair with Murder to Make Mystery by Lesley A. Diehl
  • What It's Like to Visit an Active Volcano by Karen Dionne
  • Category Five by Philip Donlay
  • If the Avalanche Doesn't Kill You… by Toni Dwiggins
  • Bring on the Weather by Allen Eskens
  • Where Vultures Circle and Silence Is Found by Tricia Fields
  • Let It Come Down by Timothy Hallinan
  • Snow by Sara J. Henry
  • After the Flood by Greg Herren
  • Storms by Russell Hill
  • Extreme Yooper Weather by James M. Jackson
  • Perils of a Wyoming Winter by Robert Kresge
  • When the "Killer" Is a Hurricane by James Lilliefors
  • Hebrides by Peter May
  • It's a Dry Heat, Isn't It? by Annette Mahon
  • Hurricane Fran and Storm Track by Margaret Maron
  • This Durn Weather by Jeanne Matthews
  • Watering the Muse by Archer Mayor
  • Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Blizzard by Jenny Milchman
  • My Black Hat by Rosemary Mild
  • Blizzards Abound by Becky Michael
  • Coming on to Rain by Christine Poulson
  • No Escape from a Blizzard by Mar Preston
  • Letter From Prison by K.M. Rockwood
  • Extreme Weather—Catskill Mountains Style by Carolyn J. Rose
  • From a Purr to a Stour by Marsali Taylor
  • Storm at Put-in-Bay by Louise Titchener
  • How I Use Weather by Rebecca Tope
  • Man, It Pours by Robert Weibezahl
  • When Storms Come In… by Lea Wait
  • Deep South and Snowbound by Tina Whittle
  • Winter in Egypt's Western Desert by Betty Winkelman
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, Gay Toltl Kinman, L.J. Roberts
  • Crossword: A Killing Climate by Verna Suit
  • Children's Hour: Extreme Weather by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • From the Editor's Desk by

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ngaio Marsh Award Longlist

Craig Sisterston (Crime Watch) has announced the longlist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best New Zealand Crime Novel. On Saturday, 30 August, the fifth recipient of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel will be announced following the Great New Zealand Crime Debate event at the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival 2014.

The shortlist for the Ngaio Marsh Award will be announced in August. However, Craig thought it would be good to announce the 8 books on the longlist. They're all so good in so many very different ways.

So here is the official announcement of the eight longlisted titles for the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award:

  • THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton
  • JOE VICTIM by Paul Cleave
  • THE BECKONING ICE by Joan Druett
  • FREDERICK'S COAT by Alan Duff
  • MY BROTHER'S KEEPER by Donna Malane
  • WHERE DEAD MEN GO by Liam McIlvanney
  • CROSS FINGERS by Paddy Richardson
  • ONLY THE DEAD by Ben Sanders
You can find out more about the presentation event, along with the entire program for the upcoming WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival, here. You can follow the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel on Facebook by liking its page here

Bastille Day: Mysteries set in France

Celebrate Bastille Day with a copy of  Mystery Readers Journal: Mysteries Set in France (Volume 28:1)! Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.



  • A Brief Panorama of Early French Crime Fiction by Jean-Marc Lofficier
  • Sex and the Country: Some Thoughts on Pierre Magnan by Peter Rozovsky
  • An Interview with Sîan Reynolds by Peter Rozovsky
  • My Affair With the Birthplace of Crime Fiction by Bernadette Bean
  • Tale of Two Dominiques by Cary Watson
  • The Father of the Detective Story: Emile Gaboriau by Nina Cooper
  • Passion, Bloodshed, Desire, and Death by Susanne Alleyn
  • How I Got Into My Life of Crime French Style by Cara Black
  • Honest! I Was in Paris Working Very Hard! by Rick Blechta
  • Having a Nice Time? by Rhys Bowen
  • Inspector Aliette Nouvelle by John Brooke
  • The French Adventure of a Full-time Lawyer and Part-time Fool by Alan Gordon
  • Escape From Paris by Carolyn Hart
  • Maggie MacGowen Goes to France by Wendy Hornsby
  • France on Berlin Time by J. Robert Janes
  • Experiencing Provence by M.L. Longworth
  • Writing a French Police Series by Adrian Magson
  • France, the Write Country by Peter May
  • Travel + Fiction: You Want to Go There by Lise McClendon
  • Hemingway's Paris Remains 'A Moveable Feast' by Craig McDonald
  • Inspired by the "Where" by Tom Mitcheltree
  • It's All About Me? by Sharan Newman
  • Drinking Tea From a Bowl: Getting France Right by D-L Nelson
  • Mysteries Set in France: Vive la Différence! by Katherine Hall Page
  • Provence—To Die For by Renée Paley-Bain
  • Mick Jagger, Kirs Royales, and Paris by P.J. Parrish
  • Paris Shadows by M.J. Rose
  • Diplomatic Mystery by William S. Shepard
  • Alpine Beach: My French Connection by Susan Steggall
  • She Lost Her Head in La Belle France by Nancy Means Wright
  • Crossword: The French Connection by Verna Suit
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, L.J. Roberts, Alana White, Marlyn Beebe
  • Children's Hour: Where's Madeleine? by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Glimpses of France by Marvin Lachman
  • The Art of French Crime by Cathy Pickens
  • Crime Seen: Le Crime Vu by Kate Derie
  • Mysteries Set in France by British Authors by Philip Scowcroft
  • From the Editor's Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Shirley Jackson Awards

Winners for the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards. Awarded every year in recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson, the awards honor exceptional work in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and dark fantasy. The Shirley Jackson Awards were presented at Readercon 25
American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)

Burning Girls, Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com)

Cry Murder! In a Small Voice, Greer Gilman (Small Beer Press)

Winner: “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” Sam J. Miller (Nightmare Magazine, December 2013)  

Before and Afterlives, Christopher Barzak (Lethe Press) 
North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)

Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (Miskatonic River Press)

HT: Tor via The RapSheet

Saturday, July 12, 2014

ThrillerFest Awards

2014: ITW's (International Thriller Writers) 2014 Thriller Awards

Andrew Pyper – THE DEMONOLOGIST (Simon & Schuster)

Jason Matthews – RED SPARROW (Scribner)

Jennifer McMahon – THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND (William Morrow Paperbacks)

Twist Phelan – “Footprints in the Water” (Ellery Queen)

Cristin Terrill – ALL OUR YESTERDAYS (Disney-Hyperion)

Rebecca Cantrell – THE WORLD BENEATH (Rebecca Cantrell)

Congratulations to all.

Lou Allin: Murder, Eh?

I was so saddened to learn of the passing of Canadian Mystery author Lou Allin. Lou was funny and witty and generous in her support to the entire mystery community.  She will be missed. This article by Lou Allin appeared in the recent issue of Mystery Readers Journal: Canadian Mysteries.

Murder, Eh? 

North of the 49th, we “don’t get no respect.” Aside from legends like Louise Penny, Giles Blunt, and Linwood Barclay, most crime-writing Canucks fight an uphill battle, a maple-leaf mouse sleeping with a stars-and-stripes elephant.

Knowing this, why in the world in 1995 did I set my books in Northern Ontario? Easy answer. I lived there, and landscape defines the characters.

Blame my late start on Ohio, where I lived from age 3 to 32, the ho-hum urban settings of Cleveland and Columbus, then grad school in Athens and a dismal year in poverty-stricken Portsmouth. No inspiration. I was a bush woman-in-waiting.

Then in 1977 I moved to a natural paradise. Canadians would laugh at that description, because the Nickel Capital around Sudbury was notorious as one gigantic pollution pit. Over a century of ruthless logging, then the discovery of nickel, led to open-air smelting and acid rain. The area had a black-rock moonscape the size of Manhattan. Astronauts trained there.

Just before I arrived, the International Nickel Company (Mother INCO) built the Superstack. Whether it wafted the particulate clouds to North Bay or actually “scrubbed” them remains another mystery, but a thirty-year regreening campaign began in earnest. Business, government, and citizens trundling over that bleak core area the size of Manhattan spread “rye on the rocks,” grass seeds and nutrients along with hardy pines. Lake pH balances were restored, and the area turned green again.

Living forty-five minutes north on a glorious sixty-four-square-mile meteor crater lake with massive oaks and maples and wilderness, I had a different perspective, tramping personal footpaths for the next twenty years. Crown land extended from my cozy cottage for hundreds of kilometres in three directions. With no television, only skis, boots, snowshoes, snowmobiles, and canoes, I learned the landscape fast. I had to. Amoral nature took no prisoners.

I studied birds, beasts, flora and fauna, geology, history, and even bought topo maps for final tweaks. God forbid a stream or hill might be in the wrong place. If only a rail line ran to Thor Lake, so be it.

I judged the winter temperature by inhaling. Icy nostrils said -20C. Coughing meant -30C, and I even saw -45C….NOT including wind chill. The frozen lake was a motion picture, whether highlighting a wolf pack at dawn, or carrying a truck convoy in late March. Ice-hut villages puffing smoke and the rainbow of Northern Lights would have pleased Brueghel.

Tired of reading bad paperback mysteries every weekend, I wrote Northern Winters are Murder in 2000. That was followed by Blackflies are Murder, Bush Poodles are Murder (I got a pup), Murder, Eh?, and appropriately as I left, Memories are Murder. The themes were universal yet Canadian. Mining pollution, residential school abuse, bear hunting and marten trapping. They starred Belle Palmer, a realtor familiar with the outback.

My series was an ongoing love letter to a generous community which had embraced me. The local tourist board sold my books. I had a solid reader base at the college where I taught.

Then I moved to Vancouver Island. Time and place for a new series. Instead of my middle-aged realtor, getting old for life-threatening chases, I chose a young RMCP Sergeant in a small coastal detachment. When I arrived with fifty pages completed, I found out that she couldn’t be a sergeant because the staff was too small. Enter Corporal Holly Martin. Nor could she be officially a detective, but she could look at suspicious or cold cases.

Weary of are Murder titles and a frustrated English PhD, I chose lines from Victorian poems. Tennyson, Browning, and Rossetti:

And on the Surface Die 

She Felt No Pain 

Twilight is not Good for Maidens 

Coming up will be Honour Thy Parents (Clough) and Convergence of the Twain (Hardy).

Thirty-five years past her age, I’m getting used to young Holly, not as sure of herself as worldly-wise, tongue-in-cheek Belle Palmer. Holly lives with her professorial father, who teaches Popular Culture. Norman Martin has a border-collie rescue, a frugal Smart Car and is into dog agility like much of the island. Holly works aside an older woman corporal, a prickly but wise foil, and a young handsome Sikh officer rookie.

I relearned my landscape. 8C is not -40C. Any rare snow on the coast turns to rain. And damp? I’m colder here than in Sudbury, where I had an R 2000 house and long burning oak and maple instead of crummy fir which goes to bed at nine pm. Holly’s house is also only 2X4 instead of 2X6, even though it looks like a Greek villa. Once it had a banana plant, and horticulturists swear that lemons can be grown here.

There are no foxes on the island, nor skunks, nor moose, not even one chipmunk. But lots of deer, bear, elk (farther north), and cougars. Blue herons surf the kelp beds, and bald eagles whistle. River and sea otters run across roads, and barking sea lions camp on the beach, waking us at four a.m.

 But “my” trails are gone. The forest companies own or lease most of the land down south and are intent on fueling the Chinese and Japanese appetites. They’ve closed most mills, shipping raw logs. Loaded trucks pass me on this coastal road, sometimes one every FIVE minutes. When they overturn, it’s pick-up-sticks. At least the companies plant to erect a wind farm on the “Easter Island” hills they’ve despoiled. They are pairing with one of Canada’s greatest First Nations successes, the T’sou-ke tribe, totally solar-powered and a national inspiration.

 What’s new? Banana slugs in three varieties, few if any mosquitoes in the salt air. Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, hemlock, alder, and bigleaf maple have replaced the Boreal hardwoods. Fall’s palate is not as brilliant, but rhodos bloom in March and I see daffodils peeking up Feb. 8.

The land is a banquet with the richest selection of berries on the continent, due to the long growing season and rare frost. Salmonberries, salal, two huckleberry varieties, creeping blackberries, Himalayan blackberries, wild strawberries.

No poison ivy. But invasives like scotch broom, English ivy, and gorse, all brought by homesick Scottish founders. Huge cow parsnips and colourful yellow skunk cabbage begin the parade, followed by edible tubers from the blue camas and chocolate lily. Fungi like chanterelles accompany exotic candysticks and gnome plants.

The sea adds its bounty. Halibut and salmon, each creek marked as “our resource”. Clams, oysters, whelks, shrimp, and octopus. Some seaweed is edible, and the larger bull kelp is made into baskets. Add an abundance of deer and see why our First Nations ate better than most of their eastern relatives.

We’re bound not by distance but by water. Ferries are expensive, a driver and car paying $165 for a round trip to Vancouver. RVs? If you have to ask…. We can see our US neighbours across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, another living water portrait. Behind their shores loom the mighty Olympic Mountains with Little Egypt, a secretive pyramidal peak. The fog toys with us as mounds of whipped cream on one side roll to the other. And freighters, timber ships, oil tankers, and seasonal cruise ships ply the waters. So do the whales, which on a clear day I can see from my bedroom window.

It may rain eternally, but you can “go to the snow,” all twenty feet of it in the hinterland heights. I’ve snowshoed in June to see the avalanche lilies.

With this exotic atmosphere, we should be in the best-selling ranks like the Scandinavians. Take this Icelandic book selection:

“Before going downstairs he telephoned Sigurdur Oli and told him to go with Elinborg to Hafnarfjordur to take Gudlaugur's for questioning.”

You are NOT in Kananaskis anymore, Dorothy. If you think that’s hard to read, you should have heard me pronouncing those names even after consulting with a scholar in Reykjavik. Boiling smoked lamb for holidays. Crawfish Parties. Icelandic details keep the pages turning.

We are not the USA North. We have our own personality and our own plastic money and shiny bi-metal coins and motto: Peace, Order, and Good Government. Two out of three isn’t bad.

Let’s tell the world and use more multicultural names like Etienne, Pierre, Telesphore, Chirakumar, Jorma, Cholmondley, Colin, Siobhan, and Wilfred.

How about places like Dildo, Quispamsis, Ecum Secum, St. Louis de Ha Ha, Buzwah, Wawa, Pickle Lake, Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Climax, and Spuzzum?

Platter up our foods: poutine, cod tongue, jellied moose nose, scrunchins, candied salmon.

And while we might not have many handguns, what about bug spray, Bobex deer repellent, Inuit sculptures, and chainsaws?

There might even be a birchbark scroll with a Papal plot involving the Jesuits.

Canada is as criminous as any other country. We have to stop being so gol-darned polite about it.


Such sad news. Canadian mystery writer Lou Allin lost her battle with pancreatic cancer this week. She was 69.

Born in Toronto, Canada, Lou Allin grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where her film-booker father relocated. She received a PhD in English Renaissance Literature for her study of the murdered spy, Christopher Marlowe. With jobs scarce in the US, she returned to Canada, finding herself 250 miles north of Toronto in Sudbury, the Nickel Capital. At Cambrian College as a professor of English, she taught boring but occasionally useful courses to students of business and criminal justice.

With a cottage on a gigantic meteor-crater lake as her inspiration, she began her Belle Palmer series, featuring a realtor and her German shepherd, Freya: Northern Winters Are Murder, Blackflies Are Murder, Bush Poodles Are Murder, Murder, Eh? and Memories Are Murder.

Lou has retired to Canada’s Caribbean, Vancouver Island, and lives with Friday the mini-poodle and Zia and Zodie the border collies in Sooke BC, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca where the rain forest meets the sea and banana slugs frolic. Continued attacks on the forests by the timber companies have filled in where the mining industry in Northern Ontario left off. The environment is under siege across the country.

Her new series stars RCMP Corporal Holly Martin. And on the Surface Die begins with a drowning near the village of Fossil Bay. She Felt No Pain explores the death of a homeless man. Twilight is not Good for Maidens finds the island beaches stalked by a serial rapist and killer.

A Little Learning is a Murderous Thing, an academic mystery set in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, stars Professor Maddie Temple and Nikon, a GSD pup. Another standalone, Man Corn Murders, takes place in the red-rock country of Utah in the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. The cover art of native pictographs on a sunlit alcove wall won a Covey Award.

Lou’s interest in literacy causes won her a contract with Orca books for That Dog Won’t Hunt, a novella designed to appeal to adults who are reluctant readers. The main characters are a young drifter cowboy, a sixty-year-old alcoholic widow, a 1970 Mustang Mach One, and Bucky, an ancient golden retriever. The second entry, Contingency Plan, concerns a storybook romance that turns into a nightmare.

Lou contributed to the two most recent issues of Mystery Readers Journal: Canadian Mysteries and Extreme Weather. I will be posting those articles on Mystery Fanfare this weekend.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Strand Magazine Critics Awards

On Wednesday, July 9, the Strand Magazine Critics Awards were announced. Lauren Beukes won the Strand Critics Award for Best Novel for The Shining Girls (Mulholland Books). Roger Hobbs won the Best First Novel award for Ghostman (Knopf). And, R.L. Stine and Peter Lovesey were awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to the genre.

Cartoon of the Day: Writing

An old favorite

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Noirwich: A New Crime Writing Festival in Norwich

September 10-14, 2014 

A deadly new festival of crime writing is coming to No(i)rwich this September in an exciting collaboration of the Crime Writers' Association, the University of East Anglia, Waterstones and Writers' Centre Norwich.

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival celebrates the sharpest noir and crime writing over five days of author events, film screenings and writing workshops in Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature.


A Forgotten Mystery: The Life and Works of S.T. Haymon with Dr. John Curran Wednesday 10th September, 6pm, Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, free event.

New Voices, Old Places with Tom Benn, Eva Dolan and Oliver Harris Wednesday 10th September, 7.30pm, Waterstones Castle Street, £6 / £4 conc with £3 redeemable against the price of a book at the event and a free glass of wine.

The New Hercule Poirot Mystery with Sophie Hannah and Dr. John Curran Thursday 11th September, 8pm, Norwich Playhouse, £12/£10 conc

The Skeleton Road: An Evening with Val McDermid Friday 12th September, 8pm, Norwich Playhouse, £12/£10 conc

Celebrating the CWA Diamond Dagger with Simon Brett and John Harvey Saturday 13th September, 7.30pm, Waterstones, Norwich, £6/£4 concessions with £3 redeemable from Simon’s latest book at the event and a free glass of wine.

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival Presents Megan Abbott Sunday 14th September, 2.30pm, Norwich Cathedral Hostry, £6/£4 concessions with £3 redeemable off the price of the book at the event.

A Crime Thriller Workshop with Henry Sutton Saturday 13th September, 10am-1pm, Writers’ Centre Norwich, £40 or £60

A Detective Fiction Masterclass with Simon Brett Saturday 13th September, 2-5pm, Writers’ Centre Norwich, £40 or £60 with Henry Sutton Workshop

The Golden Age of Nordic Noir Saturday 13th September,10.30am-4.30pm, Cinema City Education Space, £40/£30 conc.

A day dedicated to the art of Nordic Noir. Trish Sheil, film academic, and Barry Forshaw, a leading expert on crime fiction and film, will help you to explore the all-pervading influence of the Scandinavian wave. Using short clips, iconic moments in film history and their personal knowledge, the tutors will guide you through the history of Noir, focussing on the Nordic classics and then exploring French crime film and television, and the blossoming of UK crime drama.

The Killer Inside Me: A Noirwich Frank’s Bar Film Screening Sunday 14th September 2014, 5pm, Free

For more information, go HERE.

HT: Karen Meek, EuroCrime

Ann Cleeves: Peaceful Shetland is a Perfect Place for Murder

Ann Cleeves: Peaceful Shetland is a Perfect Place for Murder. 

Listen to NPR's  A visit to Shetland with Ann Cleeves. This is part of the NPR Crime in the City series.


Author Ann Cleeves has been visiting the Shetland Islands since the early 1970s. She has set five crime novels here, with a sixth on the way. "I like the idea of long, low horizons, with secrets hidden underneath," she says.

Ann Cleeves, who sets her mysteries in Shetland, once asked a pathologist friend what the perfect murder would be. "He reckoned pushing somebody over a cliff," she says. "Because how would you know whether they'd fallen or just been pushed?"

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Crime Writer and Gun Control: Guest post by Matt Rees

Today I welcome award winning author Matt Rees. Matt Rees was born in Newport, Wales in 1967, and has lived in Jerusalem since 1996. As a journalist, Rees covered the Middle East for over a decade for the Scotsman, then Newsweek and from 2000 until 2006 as Time magazine's Jerusalem bureau chief.  His first book was a non-fiction account of Israeli and Palestinian society, Cain's Field. He published the first novel featuring Palestinian detective Omar Yussef, The Bethlehem Murders, in 2007, which won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger award. He blogs and podcasts at www.mattrees.net. Get a free ebook of his crime stories here

Matt Rees:
The Crime Writer and Gun Control

I’ve only fired a gun on a single occasion, though guns have frequently been pointed at me. In my writing, I’ve blown away many a bad guy and just as many good guys.

I write crime fiction. In crime fiction bad things happen. Often involving guns. It’s much like life. Except that it’s not.

Every time there’s a mass shooting, like Elliot Rodger’s murder of six people May 23, I go through the manuscript of my latest novel and take a long, hard look at myself. Most writers—like TV producers or movie directors—are quick to deny any connection between the violence that appears in their art and real violence. I don’t think of crime fiction readers as a particularly dangerous bunch, but still I’m not so glib.

Perhaps that’s because I’ve seen a lot of actual violence, as a war correspondent. I mentioned that people had pointed guns at me. Here’s a brief list: Hamas gunmen in Gaza, PLO militiamen in Hebron, Israeli soldiers all over the place (including one who pointed the barrel of his tank at me), Hizballah gunmen in southern Lebanon and Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, a mysterious Iraqi guy in Jordan, and a couple of people whose identities I still don’t know in Nablus, West Bank. You get the idea.

Winston Churchill wrote that “nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” I can vouch for that too. (Nablus again, where I found myself running through narrow casbah alleys to escape gunfire whose source I simply couldn’t see). It’s one reason why there’s violence in crime fiction. It isn’t only that bad guys use violence. Crime fiction also gives us a sense of the Churchillian buzz, as if the violence was directed at us and we were escaping it, like our novel’s hero.

Many of my experiences on the wrong end of a gun barrel came when I was a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine during the Palestinian intifada from 2000 to 2006. Afterwards, I wrote four crime novels about a Palestinian sleuth named Omar Yussef. I made sure that my hero was too aged and infirm to take the path of violence that attracted so many of his compatriots. I wanted him to face down the gunmen without the option of blowing him away. That’s far more inspiring.

I’ve thought hard about the way I write about guns, and I’ve examined other thriller writers’ approaches too. Certainly I think it’s possible for writers to glamorize violence and gunplay. A recent Brad Thor email newsletter included a “gear” link to a snazzy jacket in which you’re invited to carry your iPad, iPhone and handgun, as though a Glock were just another yuppie gadget. I'm prepared to accept that the photos of the "Alpha Jacket" may be tongue-in-cheek, but I very much doubt it.

I’m about as sympathetic to gun glamor as I am to techies who describe the screens of their Apple devices as “beautiful.” Like cellphones, guns are functional, not beautiful.

I decided not long ago I ought to know what that function feels like. I had never even fired a gun. I went to a basement range in Jerusalem and rented a range of weapons. It was truly fascinating to feel the difference between the popping reports of a 9 mm and the heavy kick of a Magnum, which actually hurt my thumb after cocking it a few times (poor baby.)

My trainer got very excited and decided to give me a treat. He clipped a Glock inside an Israeli Tabor conversion. My pistol was suddenly transformed into an assault weapon with a red laser sight. Hitting the center of the target with that gun was easier than typing this sentence. Wherever the red dot went, so did the bullet. Many times I had wandered through conflict zones, knowing that there were gunmen about and blithely figuring they wouldn’t shoot and if they did they’d probably miss. I started to imagine that red dot on my body and it made me more than a little queasy.

Now I’m working on a new series about a US agent. Unlike my Palestinian sleuth, this guy will be armed. The Isla Vista killings—and the many less-publicized school shootings since—remind me yet once more that I have to examine the ethical framework for everything my main characters does. After all, an actual government agent must answer for his conduct every time he draws his weapon. So should a fictional one.

I want to be sure that no reader will come away from my books with the idea that violence is just a lifestyle option, let alone a heroic one. Even in fiction.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Death Comes to Pemberley: PBS Masterpiece Mystery!

Death Comes to Pemberley, starring Matthew Rhys, Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Goode, and based on the book by P.D. James, premieres Sunday, October 26, 2014, 9pm ET on MASTERPIECE Mystery! on PBS.


Frank M. Robinson: R.I.P.

Frank M. Robinson, an active fan, editor, and author in both the science fiction and mystery communities, died On June 30, at the age of 87. He was also a pulp magazine scholar, well known for his books Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines and The Incredible Pulps: A Gallery of Fiction Magazine Art. He was co-author of The Glass Inferno. His mysteries include The Power, The Blow-Out, The Great Divide, Death of a Marionette, and The Donor.  Outside of genre fiction, he was an editor for Rogue and Playboy, as well as a speech writer for the late Harvey Milk.

Read David Hartwell's Tribute HERE.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July: Vintage Postcards - Children with Fireworks!

Happy Fourth of July! Fireworks have been a part of Independence Day celebrations for centuries. Fireworks, though, can be dangerous, especially for children. That's why I found these vintage postcards so odd. Today this would be considered "child endangerment." Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fourth of July Mysteries: Fourth of July Crime Fiction

The Fourth of July (Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays, maybe because I was born in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation. If you've been to my house you know I collect patriotic embroideries and pottery. I'm big on Red, White, & Blue!

Fourth of July is at the center of this updated list of Fourth of July Crime Fiction. Even if you're not celebrating Independence Day, you can celebrate this (updated) great group of mysteries! Something for everyone's taste!

Fourth of July Mysteries

The Fourth of July Wake by Harold Adams
Murder on Parade by Donald Bain (as Jessica Fletcher) 
Hair of the Dog by Laurien Berenson 
The Cat Who Went Underground by Lilian Jackson Braun
Dead on the 4th of July by Meg Chittenden
Someone to Watch Over Me by Jill Churchill
Independence Day by Anne-Marie Clark
Twanged by Carol Higgins Clark
A Catered Fourth of July by Isis Crawford
Red, White, and Blue Murder
by Bill Crider
Dead on the Fourth of July by R. E. Derouin
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Independence Slay by Shelley Freydont
Tool & Die, Triple Witch by Sarah Graves
Act Of Darkness by Jane Haddam
Yankee Doodle Dead; Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart
Past Imperfect by Kathleen Hills
Exit Wounds by J. A. Jance
The Fourth of July by J.D. Kincaid
A Timely Vision by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Die Like a Hero by Clyde Linsley
Knee High by the Fourth of July by Jess Lourey
Star Spangled Murder by Leslie Meier
Iron Ties by Ann Parker
4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
King Suckerman by George P. Pelecanos
Can't Never Tell by Cathy Pickens
Death by Deep Dish Pie by Sharon Short
Killing Grounds by Dana Stabenow
Independence Day Plague by Carla Lee Suson
And Four to Go ("Fourth of July Picnic") by Rex Stout  
Some Welcome Home by Sharon Wildwind
Star Spangled Murder by Valerie Wolzien

Short Story:
Rex Stout's "Fourth of July Picnic" in Century of Great Suspense Stories, Edited by Jeff Deaver

Children’s Mysteries
Fireworks at the FBI (Capital Mysteries Series #6) by Ron Roy, Timothy Bush (Illustrator)
Murder On The Fourth of July by Carolyn Keene

True Crime:  
Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Betrayal, and Hate Crime in America by David A. Neiwert

As always, I welcome additions and comments.

Have a great holiday!!

RAYMOND CHANDLER to get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Raymond Chandler, one of Los Angeles's greatest noir writers, will be getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015. Ray Bradbury, Dr. Seuss, Adela Rogers St. Johns and Ogden Nash are among the handful of authors who have stars on the Walk of Fame.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Criminal Mind: Guest Post by John Verdon

Today I welcome best selling mystery writer John Verdon. John Verdon's THINK OF A NUMBER was released in 2010 when he was 65. A retired advertising executive, he had been a long-time fan of classic detective stories and became fascinated by the form and the mechanics of constructing the hidden crime and gradually exposing it. He decided to try his hand and introduced readers to the character of retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney. THINK OF A NUMBER was followed by SHUT YOUR EYES TIGHT (2011) and LET THE DEVIL SLEEP (2012). PETER PAN MUST DIE, the fourth in the series, is just out!

John Verdon:

What is it?

Well, it all depends on who you ask.

A police officer might say it was a mind characterized by a persistent tendency to violate the law. A religious person might see it as a mind antagonistic to moral and ethical principles. A neurologist might point to the abnormalities in brain wiring that are often characteristic of pathological behaviors. A psychiatrist might highlight the diagnostic criteria for “antisocial personality disorder” -- particularly lawbreaking, lying, manipulation, aggressiveness, and lack of remorse -- that general disregard for the rights and safety of others that creates so much havoc in the world.

There’s no doubt that the vast literatures of medicine, psychology, criminology, and religion can provide rich and varied portraits of individuals whose behaviors are sick, maladaptive, predatory, or just plain evil.

What could I possibly add to all that expertise?

Perhaps just a small twist in perspective. As a crime-fiction writer, I create the hearts and minds of the characters who populate my books. The only way I know to create valid characters is to create them from the inside out. The behavior of my villains is just the outer layer. To make that behavior credible -- to provide it with the vital energy and support it needs -- I have to build an internal structure first.

The way I see it, law-breaking criminality is the tip of an iceberg whose hidden mass consists of a set of self-centered, self-justifying attitudes -- a set of beliefs and feelings that enable and encourage the destructive behaviors.

As a writer, I find it helpful -- for reasons I’ll explain in a moment -- to articulate these attitudes from a first-person perspective. For example: The source of happiness is getting what I want.

I want what I want, and I want it now. 

The cost to others be damned. 

If everyone did what I told them to do, we’d all be better off. 

 I see things exactly the way they are. 

Most people are greedy, selfish, and stupid. 

Everybody is out for themselves, everybody’s got an angle. 

Trust is for infants and idiots. 

The world is a bloody jungle. 

Eat or be eaten. 

Other people are the cause of all my problems. 

I know some people who deserve to die. 

I do what I have to do. 

Justice is a joke. 

You’re either a winner or a loser. 

The only feeling you have that matters is how you feel about me. 

You’re either with me or against me. 

I know best. 

I could go on with this list of beliefs, but I’m sure you get the point I’m trying to make. At the heart of “the criminal mind” -- at least as I portray it in my novels -- there is a profound self-centeredness, self-righteousness, and grandiosity.

 I expressed the dysfunctional attitudes above in the first person for a simple reason. Despite their insanity, the fact is I have entertained virtually all of them myself at one time or another, and expressing them strictly in the third person would create an impression of too great a distance between me and the underlying flaws of my fictional villains. And, in a more general way, it would suggest too distinct a difference between the criminal mind and the non-criminal mind.

In my novels the same attitudes that drive literal law-breaking of the most terrible kind by my bad guys occur at lower levels of toxicity in all my characters, including my good guys. These flawed attitudes, far from being the unique definers of villains, are presented as part of everyone’s common humanity. Vice and virtue seem to me to be relative positions on a long continuum, a continuum that exists in each of us.

When I think about the so-called criminal mind, I can’t help but see a bit of it in all of us, more than a bit of it in some of us, and probably the worst of it in those of us who claim to have none of it at all.