Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Smell of Old Books

I love the smell of old books, so I loved this article "Where Does the Smell of Old Books Come from?" on IFLScience.com

Old books have a distinctive smell that can make any booklover’s heart melt. Matija Strlic of University College London described it to The Telegraph as “a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness, this unmistakable smell is as much a part of the book as its contents.

The secret to the scent is within the hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that make up the book’s paper pages, ink, and adhesive. Over time, the VOCs break down, releasing the chemicals into the air that are picked up by our noses. New books also have a trademark aroma, but it isn’t quite as developed as their older counterparts. Additionally, different materials used in manufacturing the book will alter the VOC profile.

Read the rest of the Article here.

HT: Aaron Macholl-Stanley and Michael Halpren (You guys know what I like!)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Map Back Monday: Helen McCloy's Through a Glass, Darkly

For today's Map Back Monday I chose Helen McCloy's Through a Glass, Darkly. A classic! We read this in my book group many years ago. I used to collect Helen McCloy's and give them to my psychiatrist father. Helen McCloy (1904-1994) was an American mystery writer, creator of the psychiatrist detective Basil Willing. Read more HERE.

 Dell Map Backs were produced in the 1940s and 50s.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 Shamus Award Nominees

The Private Eye Writers of America announced the finalists for its 2014 Shamus Awards. Winners will be named during a banquet at Bouchercon in Long Beach, California, on Friday, November 14.

Best Hardcover P.I. Novel:
Little Elvises, by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime)
The Mojito Coast, by Richard Helms (Five Star)
W Is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton (Marian Wood/Putnam)
The Good Cop, by Brad Parks (Minotaur)
Nemesis, by Bill Pronzini (Forge)

Best First P.I. Novel:
A Good Death, by Christopher R. Cox (Minotaur)
Montana, by Gwen Florio (Permanent Press)
Blood Orange, by Karen Keskinen (Minotaur)
Bear Is Broken, by Lachlan Smith (Mysterious Press)
Loyalty, by Ingrid Thoft (Putnam)

Best Original Paperback P.I. Novel:
Seduction of the Innocent, by Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime)
Into the Dark, by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins)
Purgatory Key, by Darrell James (Midnight Ink)
Heart of Ice, by P.J. Parrish (Pocket)
The Honky Tonk Big Hoss Boogie, by Robert J. Randisi (Perfect Crime)

Best P.I. Short Story:
“So Long, Chief,” by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane (The Strand Magazine, February-May 2013)
“The Ace I,” by Jack Fredrickson (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], June 2013)
“What We Do,” by Mick Herron (EQMM, September-October 2013)
“Extra Fries,” by Michael Z. Lewin (EQMM, May 2013)
“The Lethal Leeteg,” by Hayford Peirce (EQMM, August 2013)

Best Indie P.I. Novel:
Murder Take Three, by April Kelly and Marsha Lyons (Flight Risk)
A Small Sacrifice, by Dana King (Amazon Digital)
No Pat Hands, by J.J. Lamb (Two Black Sheep)
State vs. Lassiter, by Paul Levine (CreateSpace)
Don’t Dare a Dame, by M. Ruth Myers (Tuesday House)
HT: The Rap Sheet

Friday, September 26, 2014

John F. Dobbyn: In Praise of Silence in Mystery/Thriller Writing

Today I welcome mystery author John F. Dobbyn. Born and raised in Boston, John F. Dobbyn is a graduate of Harvard College and Boston College Law School. Prior to entering law school, Dobbyn served in the Air Force as a radio and radar director of aircraft in the Air Defense Command. After practicing law for several years as a trial lawyer, he obtained a Master of Law degree from Harvard Law School and subsequently accepted a position as Professor of Law at Villanova Law School. Dobbyn is the author of  Neon Dragon, Black Diamond,  Frame-Up, and Deadly Diamonds, as well as numerous short stories.

John F. Dobbyn:
In Praise of Silence in Mystery/Thriller Writing 

One of the most overlooked weapons in the arsenal of mystery/thriller writers is not what we say, but what we hold back. Silence can be not only golden – it can be 24 carat. Just as in a well-planned garden, the spaces left open contribute as much to the over-all design as the spaces planted, the same is even more true in a medium that breathes and thrives on suspense and tension.

The most crucial element for kidnapping and holding the reader by the nervous system is character. It has been my experience that when an otherwise interesting character is over-defined with all of the imaginative spaces filled in, the effect is minimal. On the other hand, if the writer draws the character with the minimum necessary brush strokes to give the reader an outline of the essentials, and then allows the reader to let his/her own imagination fill in the remaining blanks, the writer has invited the reader into an active partnership in formulating a flesh and blood character, and that partnership between reader and writer will bond the reader to the story far more deeply.

For example, I have four mystery/legal-thriller novels in the Michael Knight/Lex Devlin series published by Oceanview Publications. Nowhere in those four - nor in the fifth in the works – will you find a description of what Michael looks like other than his height and his age. And yet I’m fortunate in having readers say they love the character. I’m sure that each of their “Michael”s looks far different from mine and from each other’s, but that’s the trick. They are each forming an attachment to their own work of invention – even though I get the credit.

The same is true of action in the plot. While I don’t mind vivid violence in the writings of others, it’s not my style. Violence occurs in my novels, but it occurs in the minds of the readers, not in my words. Here’s an example. In the latest novel, “Deadly Diamonds” about the market for the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone, there is a scene in which Michael pairs with a former IRA fighter, Sean Burke. They approach a bar in South Boston. There are six Irish mafia hoods in the bar. Michael needs to talk with one of them. Sean tells Michael to stand outside while he cleans out the unnecessary five.

This is going to be a violent scene with blood and bone breaks in the mix. I won’t, however, spread the gory details on the page. Instead, I stationed Michael, who tells the story in first person, outside the bar. He only describes the sounds he hears coming from the bar after Sean goes in to clean house. The sounds are not bloody or gory, but they let the reader fill in what’s going on inside in his/her own contributing imagination. They wind up thinking they’ve witnessed a fight –and they have, but only in their imagination, not spelled out in crimson on the page. I find that that kind of co-imagining by the reader and writer is much more effective in pulling the reader one hundred percent into the story.

That same kind of silence and painting by spare brush strokes can work for the writer in having the reader understand the setting. In the middle of a tense flow of dialogue and action from chapter to chapter, there is nothing I appreciate LESS than a lengthy poetic flight into pastoral description, no matter how impressive the prose. Leave that work to silence, aided by the bare bones of description. The reader will get the point without a suspension of suspense, so to speak.

All in all, I firmly believe that when the art is mastered, the use of silence can be as effective as any weapon in the hands of the writer. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Crime Fiction during the Days of Awe

The Jewish calendar is lunar, and Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday night. The Days of Awe are the days between the beginning of the New Year and Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. That a murder would take place on Yom Kippur (or during the Days of Awe)  runs opposite to Jewish belief. Let's hope murders only take place in fiction!

Here's a short updated list of Mysteries that take place on Rosh Hashana, the Days of Awe and/or Yom Kippur. As always, I welcome any additions to this list.

Three Weeks in October by Yael Dayan
Days of Atonement by Michael Gregorio
Yom Kippur Murder by Lee Harris
A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn
Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
The Day of Atonement by David Liss
Nights of Awe by Harri Nykanen

Short Stories:  
Murder is no Mitzvah: Short Mysteries about Jewish Occasions
Mystery Midrash: An Anthology of Jewish Mystery & Detective Fiction, Edited by Lawrence W. Raphael

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year!

California Crime Writers Conference 2015

California Crime Writers Conference 2015: June 6 & 7, 2015
DoubleTree Inn, Culver City, CA

Key Note Speakers: Charlaine Harris and Anne Perry

Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and SoCal Mystery Writers of America welcome both members and non-members to the 2015 California Crime Writers Conference. A weekend of outstanding workshops geared to the needs of both emerging and established mystery writers. Attendees will enjoy tracks on forensics, craft, industry, and marketing, along with other mystery-themed activities. A manuscript critique is available as an add-on option.

CCWC offers four tracks of curriculum for the mystery writer: forensics, craft, industry, and marketing. Each track features eight panels and/or workshops. Attendees can attend any combination of sessions. 

Register now for this weekend of outstanding workshops geared to the needs of both emerging and established mystery writers. Attendees will enjoy tracks on forensics, craft, industry, and marketing, along with other mystery-themed activities. A manuscript critique is available as an add-on option. 

Register Here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Joseph McNamara: R.I.P.

Joseph D. McNamara, a former San Jose police chief who gained national attention for his progressive views on community policing, drugs and gun control, died in his sleep early Friday at his Monterey home of pancreatic cancer. He was 79.

Joe McNamara, who started his career as a Harlem beat cop in New York City and earned a doctorate from Harvard University, served as San Jose's police chief from 1976 until retiring in 1991.  Before coming to San Jose, he served as Kansas City's police chief. He worked as a research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution from 1991 until his death, and wrote five novels dubbed cop noir.

His books include: The First Directive, Fatal Command, The Blue Mirage, Code 211 Blue, Love and Death in Silicon Valley

Mystery Readers NorCal was privileged to host Joe McNamara at a special Literary Salon for the publication of The First Directive.

Read SF Chronicle Obit here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Deanston Scottish Crime Novel of the Year

Hats Off to Peter May, winner of the Deanston Scottish Crime Novel of the Year for Entry Island was announced tonight at Bloody Scotland in Edinburgh!

How exciting for Peter, Janice, and all Peter's readers and fans! Here's a photo from the Literary Salon for Peter last week at my home in Berkeley! Peter May gets around. Read him now!

Cartoon of the Day: Thesaurus

Friday, September 19, 2014

Frédérique Molay on Rewriting Challenges

Award-winning novelist Frédérique Molay, author of the Paris Homicide mystery series, discusses the challenges of rewriting. Crossing the Line (Le French Book, translated by Anne Trager) will be out  on September 23. In it, Chief of Police Nico Sirsky returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound. He’s in love and rearing to go. His first day back has him overseeing a jewel heist sting and taking on an odd investigation. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil?

Frédérique Molay:
Challenges: Rewriting

Imagining a plot and writing the story are just the first steps of writing a mystery novel. After that comes rewriting. This is a crucial phase and it requires patience, perseverance and rigorous attention to detail.

It could take months. Don’t get discouraged. You need to go over your work several times. Think of yourself as a goldsmith.

- Look for inconsistencies, odd sentences, and involuntary repetitions.

- Fill out the story where it needs it.

- Chop it where there’s too much. Then chop it again.

- Have someone close to you who can give you kind words of encouragement.

- Work with a tough editor.

- Listen to what both have to say, but don’t be hurt by it.

- Know how not to listen to what both have to say.

At times you’ll feel like even your inner Zen master can’t keep control over your emotions, but in the end, your story will be better for it. The French essayist Alain (Emile Chartier) said, “Writing is an art full of encounters. The simplest letter supposes choosing from thousands of words, most of which have nothing to do with what you want to say.”

Writing a novel is like bringing a child into this world. You keep it inside for months on end, and it can put you in a feverish state, as the writing is looking for a way out. The French poet Alain Bosquet wrote: “Writing is a deliverance which, sentence after sentence, word after word becomes a form of slavery.”

And once the story is born, it takes on a life of its own. It is a strange feeling, full of emotion, and worth all the effort you put into it.

After the huge success The 7th Woman met in France, Frédérique Molay left her career in politics to dedicate her life to writing and raising her three children. She now has five books to her name, including three in the Chief Inspector Nico Sirsky series.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Read an eBook Day

Today is the first Read an eBook Day! Be a part of the festivities by checking out your favorite eBook from the library, sharing your reading stories, entering to win prizes or just simply setting aside some time to read.

Share your eReading experience on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #eBookDay and be entered to win a tablet or device!

What are you reading?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lucy Worsley's A Very British Murder: The Story of a National Obsession

Worsley, Lucy. A Very British Murder
Reviewed by Jane Mattisson Ekstam

A Very British Murder: The Story of a National Obsession (BBC Books, 2013) explores two important issues relating to Britain’s obsession with murder: When did the British start taking a ghoulish pleasure in violent death? And what does this tell us about British people? Touching on real-life murders and the history of crime, it demonstrates how the British have enjoyed and consumed the idea of murder since the beginning of the nineteenth century. It also explains why writing about murder has proved so profitable. 

Published by the BBC, A Very British Murder is a complement to Lucy Worsley’s BBC Four television series (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ftzlq) of the same name. While crime novels have generally been regarded as trash, they are, as Worsley argues, the genre which taught working-class people how to enjoy reading. It was what they wanted to read and is the very essence of guilty pleasure. Nothing has changed, claims Worsley: for the last 200 years, murder has been the topic to which readers from all backgrounds turn both for comfort and pleasure. 

One of the most intriguing chapters is ‘The Bermondsey Horror’, a true story which ended in 1849 with an old-fashioned hanging in public. The murder, occurring at the same time as a cholera epidemic that claimed the lives of 10,000 Londoners, is the story of a sordid death involving a love triangle in Bermondsey in south London. Frederick and Maria Manning were a husband and wife team. Frederick had a rival in the form of Maria’s ex-lover, Joseph O’Connor. O’Connor was a frequent visitor at the Mannings’ home. Passions ran high on occasions and on the fateful evening of 9 August, the Mannings shot O’Connor and bashed him 17 times on the head with a crowbar. The couple buried his body in quicklime in the hope that it would decompose quickly and then buried it near beneath the slabs near their kitchen fireplace. The body was later identified by means of O’Connor’s false teeth. It seems that the Mannings were, as Worsely points out, rather inept criminals. 

Immediately after the murder, the couple split up. The story of their capture and trial was covered by the press, The Times alone running no fewer than 72 stories on the murder and trial. Maria was cold throughout the trial, her lack of emotion causing scorn among the general public. She was regarded as the more shocking of the two accused due to her lack of morals. Her husband’s barrister summarised Maria’s behaviour as follows: ‘History teaches us that the female is capable of reaching higher in point of virtue than the male, but that when once she gives way to vice, she sinks far lower than our sex’ (117-8). A crowd of 30,000, including Charles Dickens, attended the joint execution. As Worsley explains, ‘Going to a public hanging had many of the same qualities as a trip to a tragedy at the theatre. There were the crowds, the food- and drink-sellers, and better seats for those rich enough to afford them’ (118). Dickens, for example, hired a room especially for the occasions, invited friends and organised refreshments. 

As Worsley reminds us, the last public hanging in Britain took place in 1868; capital punishment, however, continued, taking on new forms – behind the walls of prisons. This was, as Worsley underlines, a vital precondition for the classic detective story to emerge: ‘Detective fiction, unlike melodrama, or “Penny Blood” fiction, didn’t care about retribution. Its concern was more the solution of crime’ (124), argues Worsley. 

A Very British Murder demonstrates that the story of crime in Britain is associated primarily with city living despite its earlier occupation with small country villages. Crime fiction tells us most about our age, and this is why as early as 1939, novelists understood that ‘If he wishes to study the manner of our age . . . a historian of the future will probably turn, not to blue books and statistics, but to detective stories’ C.H.B. Kitchin, in Worsley, 294). Worsley’s study is highly readable, written with empathy, and also scholarly. The annotated bibliography and numerous illustrations enable the reader to understand how crime was turned into art. At the same time, A Very British Crime is a riveting investigation into the British soul by an historian, who is equally at home with television and books. A captivating history of one of Britain’s most enduring and enjoyable pastimes, A Very British Crime is an invaluable aid to anyone wishing to understand why crime fiction continues to fascinate British people and what this tells us about their psyche.

Jane Mattisson Ekstam is an Associate Professor of English at Kristianstad University, Sweden. She specialises in nineteenth-century British literature, American and Canadian fiction and detective fiction. She is currently writing about detective fiction set in the 1920s and 1930s.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Masterpiece: Miss Marple returns

This Sunday, Julia McKenzie returns as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple on Masterpiece. Note the times.

Miss Marple: "A Caribbean Mystery" – Sunday, September 21st at 8pm ET on PBS

Miss Marple: "Greenshaw's Folly" – Sunday, September 21st at 9:30pm ET on PBS

Miss Marple: "Endless Night" – Sunday, September 28 at 9pm ET on PBS

A Caribbean Mystery: 

While staying at a lavish tropical island hotel, Miss Marple investigates the
 sudden death of a fellow guest. With the help of a curmudgeonly business tycoon, Miss Marple unravels a web of deceit, murder and "dark magic," leaving her to consider every one of the hotel's guests as a suspect. Sir Antony Sher (God on Trial) guest stars.

Filmed on location in South Africa and based on Christie's 1964 novel, A Caribbean Mystery was adapted by comedian, author and actor Charlie Higson, who has a cameo as the unassuming American ornithologist James Bond. Also starring are MyAnna Buring (Downton Abbey), Pippa Bennett Warner (Case Histories), and Charity Wakefield (Any Human Heart).

Cartoon of the Day: Take-Your-Cat-to-Work-Day

I work at home, so it's always Take-Your-Cat-to-Work-Day!

HT: Laura-Kate Rurka

Monday, September 15, 2014

Map Back Monday: Jack Iams' Girl Meets Body

Map Back Monday, another 'racy' cover...and fabulous Dell Map Back. Girl Meets Body (1947) by Jack Iams. "A Dead Peeping Tom Surprises a September Morning Bride"

Jack Iams was a journalist, novelist and editor. Girl Meets Body-- Piers, War Brides, and more!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bouchercon Program is on the Website!

I love that the Bouchercon panel schedule is now up on the website.  I can decide on which panels I want to attend in advance! So many choices..hard decisions to make. I'm actually on a few panels, so I know where I'll be at those times. Still doesn't make it easy.

Bouchercon, in case you're new to this blog or the mystery community, is the international mystery convention. There will be over 2500 attendees including fans, readers, authors, publishers, editors and other mystery/crime fiction folks! 4 days of panels, special events, awards, and more! What a party!

Bouchercon travels, and this year it will be held in Long Beach, CA, November 13-16!

Here's a link to the PDF of the panel programming

See you there!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Partners in Crime: Two Heads are Better, D.E. Ireland

Today I have a new entry into the Partners in Crime series on Mystery Fanfare. Two award-winning authors, Meg Mims and Sharon Pisacreta, have teamed up as D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins mystery series for St. Martin’s Minotaur. Their first book, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly, is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Meg and Sharon are sharing how they collaborate – and that two heads are indeed better than one. 


First off, we are long-time critique partners and college friends. We decided long ago to find a project to collaborate on together, but marriage, children and life put that on hold until one day, when Meg was driving to visit Sharon…

“I’d popped the My Fair Lady soundtrack CD into the car’s slot, singing along since it’s one of my favorite movies. And then, I was hit with “What if…?” BINGO! Once I arrived at Sharon’s house on Michigan’s west coast, I mentioned the idea – and we both thought it was the perfect premise.”

What followed was a ton of research. Although My Fair Lady served as inspiration for the series, we used George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion as our working model. Fortunately, the play was in the public domain.. Those familiar with both My Fair Lady and Pygmalion know they differ somewhat. But Shaw later added scenes such as the climactic one at the ball in a later reworked edition of the play, along with plenty of appendices for us to trawl. Of course, we had a head start on bringing to life the beloved characters of Eliza, Higgins, Pickering, Mrs. Pearce, the Eynsford Hill family, and Henry’s mother Mrs. Higgins. We did have to create backstories for each character including birthdays, education, siblings, parents, etc.

Then we started to consider the post-Edwardian world of Pygmalion. This involved intense research of the era, including famous figures, events, fashion, and even foods. We read the play many times, as well as anything Shaw had ever written about his characters. At this point, we chose to take some artistic license since our future plans for these characters may differ from how Shaw imagined them.

When it came time to plot the first book, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly, we did not have to look any further than Shaw’s play. In a later revised edition, the playwright included the famous scene at the ball where Eliza must pass herself off as a duchess to the Hungarian phonetics specialist. The Hungarian boasts to Henry Higgins that he makes his clients pay for more than just speech lessons. Perfect. Here was a character who dealt in blackmail, and blackmailers are often murdered by one of their victims.

We also decided that Eliza should make good on her threat in the play’s final act to teach phonetics. Having her become the blackmailing Hungarian’s assistant worked into the set-up nicely. But who was the murderer? That called for a bevy of suspects, each with their own compelling stories. As with all mystery plotting, this was followed by alibis, red herrings, clues, etc.

Once we had a polished finished manuscript, it was absolutely loverly to snag an agent who offered representation three hours after submitting a query, and who sold the two-book proposal to St. Martin’s in three weeks! Our second Eliza and Higgins pairing, Move Your Blooming Corpse, will be out in 2015.

Since we’re both research hounds, we split topics to save time. We’re also spelling and grammar sticklers, and work together on checking, double-checking and then triple-checking throughout our manuscripts. At the very end, we do a “read-aloud” marathon via telephone before submitting the final manuscript to our editor. This takes days, and it is fortunate we have been friends so long, otherwise we might never get through the process without drawing blood.

Indeed this literary partnership works because Meg and Sharon’s friendship began decades ago in college. “Even more important,” Sharon says, “is that we have been each other’s critique partners for twenty years while we worked on novels we wrote separately. After such a long period of time, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses , along with understanding the other partner’s writing voice.”

Unlike some writing duos, both Meg and Sharon are involved every step of the way when writing these books. This includes plotting, first drafts, and as many revisions as necessary. Also, both must agree and approve literally every word that goes into the final manuscript. So while it is comforting to have a partner to commiserate with when the plot becomes challenging, or promotional efforts threaten to become overwhelming, it is not easy. And while two heads can be better than one, it is not for the faint of heart. But if you and a writing colleague have enough patience – and a sense of humor – you may want to consider a collaboration in your writing future.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New MA in Crime Fiction at University of East Anglia

From The Bookseller:

The University of East Anglia is adding a Masters in Crime Fiction to its Creative Writing program, which will launch in September 2015.

The new Masters will address the genre from a critical, theoretical and historical perspective as well incorporating a large Creative Writing component. Publisher Little, Brown will be supporting the course by sponsoring a £3,000 award for one student and also reading the manuscripts each student will produce by the end of the course, providing feedback and links to publishing opportunities.

It will be a low-residency course, with students attending three short residential periods a year over the two-year program. These residential periods will introduce students to key industry professionals, including literary agents and publishers, and major writers in the genre, who will run masterclasses. Ongoing creative and critical projects, presentations and interactions will continue between visits to the UEA.

The MA will also be launching with at least one full fees bursary, provided by UEA’s Centre for Creative and Performing Arts.

Read more here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Map Back Monday! A.A. Fair's Fools Die on Friday

It's Map Back Monday, but today's Dell Map Back is A.A. Fair's Fools Die on Friday. A.A. Fair is the pseudonym that Erle Stanley Gardner used for his Cool and Lam series (Bertha Cool and Donald Lam). This is #11 in that series, and was first published in 1947.  Read a review by Francis M. Nevins that appeared in Mystery*File.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


NED KELLY AWARDS: Australian Crime Writers Association.

Candice Fox, HADES
Emma Viskic, WEB DESIGN

Even More CWA Dagger Award Shortlists Announced!

So since the other day, even more CWA (Crime Writers Association-UK) Dagger Award Shortlists have been announced. Here's the Round-Up! HT: The Rap Sheet. Winners will be announced at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards ceremony on October 24.

The Film Dagger:
• Cold in July
• Dom Hemingway
• Filth
• Prisoners
• Starred Up

The TV Dagger:
• Happy Valley
• Line of Duty, Series 2
• Sherlock, Series 3
• The Bletchley Circle, Series 2
• The Honourable Woman

The International TV Dagger:
• Fargo, Season 1
• Inspector Montalbano, Series 9
• Orange Is the New Black, Season 2
• The Bridge, Series 2
• True Detective, Season 1

The Best Actor Dagger:
• Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock
• Shaun Evans for Endeavour
• Martin Freeman for Fargo and Sherlock
• Matthew McConaughey for True Detective
• Steve Pemberton for Happy Valley

The Best Actress Dagger:
• Brenda Blethyn for Vera
• Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Honourable Woman
• Keeley Hawes for Line of Duty
• Sarah Lancashire for Happy Valley
• Anna Maxwell Martin for Death Comes to Pemberley and
The Bletchley Circle

The Best Supporting Actor Dagger:
• Mark Gatiss for Sherlock
• David Leon for Vera
• James Norton for Happy Valley
• Mandy Patinkin for Homeland
• Billy Bob Thornton for Fargo

The Best Supporting Actress Dagger:
• Amanda Abbington for Sherlock
• Vicky McClure for Line of Duty
• Helen McCrory for Peaky Blinders
• Gina McKee for By Any Means
• Michelle Monaghan for True Detective

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Left Coast Crime Crimelandia News!


This in from Chairs L.J. Sellers and Bill Cameron: Left Coast Crime, Crimelandia, Portland, OR.

Ridley Pearson will not be able to attend. He discovered a conflicting engagement that he couldn’t get out of. The good news is that sweet and talented Tim Hallinan will join us as Guest of Honor. Tim is the Edgar, Lefty, Shamus, and Macavity-nominated author of sixteen published novels, including six Bangkok-set thrillers about an American travel writer, Poke Rafferty, four comic mysteries starring Los Angeles burglar, Junior Bender, who moonlights as a private eye for crooks, and six cult-status private-eye novels featuring L.A. private detective Simeon Grist.

Tim will have an in-depth interview about how he manages to live in two places and write three diverse and incredible series. Tim also plans to auction off a name in his next novel, so this is your chance to be one of the wacky characters Junior runs into.

Chelsea Cain is our Portland-based Guest of Honor. Her thrillers, described by The New York Times as “steamy and perverse,” have been published in over 30 languages, recommended on “The Today Show,” appeared in episodes of HBO’s “True Blood” and ABC’s “Castle,” named among Stephen King’s top ten favorite books of the year, and included in NPR’s list of the top 100 thrillers ever written. According to Booklist, “Popular entertainment just doesn’t get much better than this.” We can’t wait to hear what she has to say about developing such chilling characters.

You’ll also get to hear from our Toastmaster, the charming Gar Anthony Haywood. Gar is the Shamus and Anthony award-winning author of twelve crime novels and numerous short stories. He has written six mysteries featuring African-American private investigator Aaron Gunner; two starring Joe and Dottie Loudermilk, retiree crime-solvers and Airstream-owning parents to five grown Children From Hell; and four standalone thrillers. Gar has also written for both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and for such television shows as New York Undercover and The District.

But the convention has even more to offer. We have a lot of terrific side trips planned—including an FBI hostage-rescue workshop and a stroll through the Shanghai Tunnels. The side trips will soon be listed on the website for signup. In addition, we’re hosting a new feature in which readers can sign up for lunches with authors.

Our thanks to those who have registered early to join us for this great convention. Not sure if you have registered for Crimelandia? Check our Attendee list.

Not registered yet? $175 rate is good through the end of December.
Registration page to sign up to join us in Portland in March 2015.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More CWA Dagger Shortlists

Shortlists for three more CWA (British Crime Writers' Association) Daggers:

CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger Best Crime Novel of the Year:
The First Rule of Survival, by Paul Mendelson (Constable)
How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny (Sphere/Little Brown)
Keep Your Friends Close, by Paula Daly (Bantam/Transworld)
This Dark Road to Mercy, by Wiley Cash (Doubleday/Transworld)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger:
The Axeman’s Jazz, by Ray Celestin (Mantle)
The Devil in the Marshalsea, by Antonia Hodgson
(Hodder & Stoughton)
The Silent Wife, by A.S.A Harrison (Headline)
The Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter (Penguin Fig Tree)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:
Apple Tree Yard, by Louise Doughty (Faber and Faber)
An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris (Random House)
I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes (Transworld)
Natchez Burning, by Greg Iles (Harper Collins)

Winners will be announced October 24 during the annual ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards ceremony.

HT: The Rap Sheet

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Peter May Literary Salon: September 10

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for an evening with award winning Crime Writer Peter May, Wednesday, September 10, in Berkeley, CA. 7 p.m. Send a DM or make a comment with your email below if you'd like to attend.

Peter May is the author of the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland; the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell; the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France; and several standalone books, the latest of which is Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK).

May has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer. One of Scotland's most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.

Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.

After being turned down by all the major UK publishers, the first of the The Lewis Trilogy - The Blackhouse - was published in France as L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux where it was hailed as "a masterpiece" by the French national newspaper L'Humanité. His novels have a large following in France. The trilogy has won several French literature awards, including one of the world's largest adjudicated readers awards, the Prix Cezam.

The Blackhouse was published in English by Quercus (a relatively young publishing house which did not exist when the book was first presented to British publishers). The Blackhouse went on to become an international best seller, and was shortlisted for both Barry Award and Macavity Award when it was published in the USA. The Blackhouse won the US Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel at Bouchercon in Albany NY, in 2013.

The Lewis Man has just been published in the U.S.

Peter May on The Blackhouse


Where Stories Come From: Guest Post by Russell Hill

Today I welcome back Russell Hill, a three-time Edgar nominee. His new Novel, Tom Hall, due in early 2015 from Pleasure Boat Studio (New York) takes place in 1945 in the tuberculosis sanitariums of New Mexico and Los Angeles. The 12-year-old protagonist endlessly rides the electric streetcars of Los Angeles in search of meaning in a life turned upside down by a terminal disease.

"Where do your stories come from?," readers ask.

And my answer is always vague, incomplete, and unsatisfying. Some readers insist that I must use my own life as a basis for stories, but often my characters murder or commit unspeakable violence, so that can’t be the answer.

Our house is on a hill that used to suffer power outages in the winter. A storm came, and the lights went out. We learned to call together our neighbors and gather food that would perish in refrigerators that were without power. My wife and I had gathered, over the years, a number of oil lanterns, so they assembled at our table, the house lit with the soft light of the lanterns and my gas kitchen stove, unfazed by the power outage, warmed the food.

John Osborn, the writer who wrote a best seller about his first year as a doctor, and then began to write other television scripts lived just up the hill from us.

I remember one night, his wife turning to me and saying, “Whatever you say, John will remember it. And chances are it will become part of the dialogue in one of his stories.”

Annie Lamont told me that she keeps three by five cards on which she jots down bits of speech she hears on the bus or at a church gathering. The cards become a file for pieces of stories.

A neighbor died recently of cancer. He had cancer of the colon and they took out part of his colon and gave him chemo-therapy, a hideous treatment that left him debilitated, engulfed in an overstuffed chair while I brought him his morning papers and we had coffee and talked and sometimes I made an omelette, but mostly we talked because he had no appetite for food. And then, suddenly, the cancer was in his brain, at the back of his head, spidering down into the cortex, and he wasted away, grew faint of voice, and we talked of old things, memories of the North Fork of the Yuba River where he had spent his teenage years. He measured his words as if each was in a teaspoon, tipping each word carefully into the conversation. Measured. Separated by pauses while he filled the teaspoon again. He kept his wood stove burning, and the heat radiated, filling the room.

I remembered my great uncle in his eighties, wearing a wool cardigan sweater on a warm day, a fire in the fireplace. I wanted to throw open the doors but he said, “I’m cold. I’m cold all the time.” and once he said that it was this cold in the trenches. And wet. And there were lice. It was the only time I heard him talk about the Great War.

Now Gary sat, his frail body buried in the overstuffed chair, a blanket over his legs, the wood stove glowing. Earlier I stood at the chop saw on his patio, cutting wood blocks for the stove. He found them at Fairfax Lumber, a pile of discarded timbers, each block two or three feet long, six by eight inches, end cuts from some construction job, and he brought them home in his truck. In the grey morning, I cut each one in half or thirds on the chop saw, the blade spinning, and I was careful, remembering Frost’s poem “Out! Out!” where a boy loses a hand when they are cutting wood in the Vermont fall.

When I came up the path that morning, the stones were slick. There was rain, the first wet morning in months. That night I got out of bed to stand on the deck in the rain, feel the drops on my head and shoulders. The rain would stir the steelhead, and they would move upstream, and the following weekend when I stood on the edge of the Trinity River perhaps there would be a fish that took my fly. Or perhaps not.

Perhaps I would stand among the rocks and cast and cast again, and the river would pulse in front of me, empty, the same pulse that throbbed in my chest and was less positive in Gary Teply’s chest. He was, like his river in the late summer, slowing, the eddies curling among the rocks, and there would be no winter storm that would fill him, make him spill over into another year.

My memory of the North Fork of the Yuba was different from his. I pictured a small cabin overlooking the river and small trout in a tiny creek that tumbled into the river. I could see breakfast on the table at the window and hear the rush of the Yuba all night long.

Gary repeated his story about the coyote. He had told it so many times that I had come to feel that it was my story, too.

On his last day, he lay, mouth open, asleep, and when I came to his bedside and grasped his thin leg beneath the blanket, he opened his eyes.

“It’s Russell,” I said, but there was no hint of recognition in those eyes. “No coyote this morning,” I said. His eyes closed. His head had not moved.

A coyote came up the stairs to his house one morning as he sat in the kitchen. It came into the greenhouse that he had fashioned from old shower doors, scavenged at the San Rafael dump years before. The greenhouse was filled with orchids and geraniums and grasses. The coyote stood at the door to the kitchen, looking in at Gary. It was, Gary said, mid-morning. Ordinarily the coyotes were only sounds in the darkness of early morning, trills and yips from the ridge at the top of Toyon, sometimes eerie howls. But this was a bright mid-morning. It came up Gary’s path and climbed the steps to his greenhouse and carefully stepped inside to pause and look at him, sitting in his kitchen with his coffee and newspaper.

Gary told the story again the previous morning, his body sunken into the over-stuffed chair, his measured words soft so that I had to lean forward to hear. I looked out at the greenhouse, the red tiled floor and the profusion of plants and I could see the coyote, ragged and dog-like, looking in at Gary, who was not frail and sunken in his big chair, but sat upright on the couch in the kitchen next to the huge fireplace he had built years before.

And he told about the great blue heron that came down into his yard, threading its way through the trees to stand at the edge of the pond he had made. A spring came into his lot at the top, and he had channeled it into three ponds that cascaded down toward Oak Road, each one made of chunks of concrete cemented together. Goldfish swam in those ponds, eating the mosquito larvae, and the heron came to feast on the goldfish. I had never seen the heron, but as Gary told his story again, I felt that I was there and that it was becoming my story.

So some of the stories in my head are borrowed. I have appropriated them, much the same way that street people with shopping carts latch onto old aluminum cans or cast off clothing found at the curb. I am no longer sure which stories are mine and which are stories that I have heard and taken as my own experience, stories that are now part of who I am. I wrote a story about coming across the carcass of a bear that had been killed by a train in the Feather River Canyon. It was, in fact, not my discovery. It was a story that my oldest son had told to me. He had come across the remains of the bear on an early morning fishing trip, crossing the narrow railroad bridge that spanned the Feather River and when I told that story, I had come to think of it as my discovery. I had found the smoking remains of the bear and could hear the long whistle of the engine and what had happened to the bear had become part of me. I could see the remains of the bear underneath the bridge, and I stepped carefully around it and the river rushed below me ,and I could see the bear in the darkness of early morning on the railroad bridge and the on-coming train. The headlight flashed, turning in circles and the long wail of the diesel horn sounded, and I could see the engineer in the cab and the bear rising up, unable to turn and run. Unable to do anything but face the oncoming engine, and then there was the impact and that was what I wrote, as if I had been there, watching. And it was my story, not Geoffrey’s, not the bear’s story or the engineer’s story. It was mine.

I am haunted by stories.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Map Back Monday: She Shall Have Murder

Today is Map Back Monday. Today's Dell Map Back is She Shall Have Murder by Delano Ames  (1948). This is the first in the Dagobert Brown and Jane Hamish series. This one is set in London, so the London map is so appropriate!

Cartoon of the Day: Labor Day