Monday, October 31, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: The Injustice of October 31st

From Rhymes with Orange:

Michael Masliah: R.I.P.

Many of you who have attended Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime will remember long time fan and librarian Michael Masliah. He attended most Bouchercons and LCC Conventions since the 80s, always with a program book in hand. He would have each program book signed by everyone in the book, and that included me. I was initially surprised when he asked me to sign, as I am not an author. But he always made me feel special. Michael was Fan Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime in Denver in 2008.

Several times over the years we talked about his unique family history, as well as his vocation and avocation as a Librarian, with a specialty in Judaica. He was a a mystery collector, Sherlockian, and list maker. He ran a Mystery Book Club at the Culver City Library in Los Angeles where he worked until his retirement in 2014.

Michael graduated from LAUSD in 1964 and entered UCLA in 1964 but dropped out in 1966. He worked in his family's business and as an independent book scout and started selling used books at local swap meets. He reentered UCLA in 1975 earning a BA in 1977 and an MLS in 1979. He started working for the County of Los Angeles Public Library system in January 1981. He developed a special Judaica collection for the County Library System that was housed at Culver City Library. He also created and was constantly adding to a list of Jewish Mysteries. He worked with several mystery historians on bibliographies. Michael was a member of several Sherlock Holmes scion societies and worked on Sherlockon II and Holmes West. He passed away on October 16.

I don't have much information about his death. If you have any information, I'd appreciate a note or a post. Thanks.

This was posted on the Culver City Julian Dixon Library Facebook page.

We are sorry to announce the passing of long time Culver City Julian Dixon Librarian Michael Masliah, who retired from the County in 2014. During his 18 year tenure at the Culver City Library, Masliah's career had many highlights, but his favorite responsibilities included his time as the facilitator of the library’s popular Mystery Book Club and his oversight of the library’s Judaica Resource Center during the 1990s and early 2000s. He served as Director of the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hammett Prize Winner

The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers announced that The Do-Right, by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press), has won the organization's annual HAMMETT PRIZE for a work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing.

The winning title was chosen by a group of three distinguished outside judges: Peter Eckersall, author of Performativity and Event in 1960s Japan: City, Body, Memory and Professor in Theatre at CUNY Graduate Center; Gina Pollock, owner of BR Books in Lancaster, PA; and author Luanne Rice whose most recent novel is The Secret Language of Sisters. The judges selected from among five finalists nominated from the hundreds of crime books published in 2015. These five titles were selected by the organization's nominations committee headed by Michael Bowen.   

Other books nominated for the 2015 HAMMETT PRIZE:

The Stranger, by Harlan Coben (Dutton)
Sorrow Lake: A March and Walker Crime Novel, by Michael J. McCann (Plaid Raccoon Press);
The Whites: A Novel, by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt (Henry Holt)
The Organ Broker: A Novel, by Stu Strumwasser (Arcade Publishing)

Ms. Sandlin was awarded a bronze trophy, designed by West Coast sculptor, Peter Boiger.  
The award ceremony took place in Philadelphia, on October 29, during the NoirCon 2016 conference.

Cartoon of the Day: Exotic Dancers at Halloween Parties

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Cat Halloween

Happy Caturday!

T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award 2016

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA):
Noah Hawley has won the 2016 T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award for Before the Fall (Grand Central Publishing).

Other nominated novels:
Orphan X, by Gregg Hurwitz (Minotaur)
The Promise, by Robert Crais (Putnam).

The Parker Award recognizes excellence in books that reflect Southern California culture or lifestyle, with authors/illustrators living within the SCIBA region. The mystery award is named after T. Jefferson Parker, a life-long resident of Southern California and Edgar Award-winning author. This year’s winners were named during the SCIBA Trade Show in Los Angeles, October 21-22.

Hat Tip: The Gumshoe Site

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Halloween Costume

From the always wonderful Rhymes with Orange. Happy Halloween!

Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2016

The shortlist for the Crime Fiction Award Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards were announced. See all the category shortlists HERE.
Crime Fiction Award
Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard (Corvus)
Little Bones – Sam Blake (Bonnier Zaffre)
Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)
The Constant Soldier – William Ryan (Mantle)
The Drowning Child – Alex Barclay (HarperCollins)
The Trespasser – Tana French (Hachette Ireland)

HT: The Rap Sheet

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: The Plot Thickens

Bloody Cocktails & Deadly Wine! Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!! Bloody Cocktails and Deadly Wine!


Chateau Du Vampire Wines Bordeaux Style Cabernet Blend (Vampire Vineyards – Paso Robles, California): blend of cabernet sauvignon (60%) with cabernet franc (30%), and 10% malbec to finish it off.

Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon (Vampire vineyards – Paso Robles, California): Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from several small-berry clones of this traditional Bordeaux varietal, grown in the Paso Robles region of California’s Central Coast.

Dracula Wines: Zinfandel and Syrah (originally the grapes for this wine were grown on the Transylvanian plateau, now they're made from California grapes).

Trueblood Napa Valley Syrah: This wine will "bruise your soul" with its palate crushing cherry, plum smoke and spice.

Ghost Block: 100% cabernet from Rock Cairn Vineyard in Oakville, next to Yountville's Pioneer Cemetery.

Twisted Oak 2011 River of Skulls in Calaveras County. Limited production vineyard mouvedre (red wine grape). Label has a bright red skull. English translation of calaveras is "skulls."

Ghostly White Chardonnay and Bone Dry Red Cabernet Sauvignon. Elk Creek Vineyards in Kentucky

Poizin from Armida Winery in Healdsburg is a 'wine to die for..". This Zinfandel sold in little wooden coffins

Big Red Monster  Red wine made from Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah.

Spellbound 2012 Merlot. Full Moon on the label. 

Ravenswood 2013 Besieged Red Blend. Ravens on the label.

Michael David 2012 Freakshow Cab.

Other Wines, Beers and Ales: Witches Brew, Evil (upside down and backwards label), Sinister Hand, Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad, Zeller Schwarz Katz.

Want to give the personal touch to your Halloween wines? Add ghoulish labels or rebottle in cool jars with apothecary labels from Pottery Barn (or make them yourself). For a great article, go to Spooky Halloween Bottle & Glass Labels.


And what about an awesome cocktail? Make Nick and Nora proud! They always loved a good party. Throw in some rubber spiders or eyeballs as garnish. Want to make your own Halloween Cocktail Garnish--some eyeballs and fingersClick HERE.

Blood Bath
1 Part Tequila Silver
1 Part Strawberry Liqueur

Shake with ice, and strain into shot glass.

Blood Test
1 Part Tequila Reposado
1 Part Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into shot glass

Blood Shot
1 part Iceberg Vodka
1 part peach schnapps
1 part Jagermeister
1 part cranberry juice

Chill all ingredients. Combine in shaker with ice. Strain into shot glass. shoot!

2 oz VeeV Acai Spirit
1 oz acai juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
Top with fresh champagne
lime wedge for garnish

Combine VeeV, Acai juice and fresh lime with fresh ice in a cocktail shaker and shake.
Strain into chilled martini glass and top with champagne.
Serve with fresh lime wedge.

Blood and Sand
3/4 ounce Scotch
3/4 ounce cherry liqueur
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce orange juice
1 thin strip orange zest

In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the liquids. Strain into martini glass, then garnish with the strip of zest. (recipe from Bank Cafe & Bar in Napa)

Corpse Reviver
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Lillet (blanc)
1 ounce triple sec
Juice of half a lemon
5 drops of absinthe
1 thin slice orange

In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the liquids. Strain into martini glass, then garnish with the orange slice.
(Recipe from Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco)

Vampire Blood Punch
4 cups cranberry raspberry juice (or cranberry juice cocktail)
2 cups natural pineapple juice (100% juice)
2 cups raspberry-flavored seltzer water
wormy ice cubes (optional)

Mix all ingredients together, and pour into large, decorative punch bowl.
Serve punch with wormy ice cubes, if desired

Corzo Bite
1-1/2 parts Corzo Silver Tequila
1/2 parts Campari
1 part fresh blood orange juice
1/4 parts blood (aka home-made grenadine) **
2 parts Jarritos Tamarindo Soda

Build all ingredients into highball glass filled with ice. Add “blood” at the end.
Garnish: Blood orange wheel and strawberry syrup

** Home-made grenadine: Add equal parts white sugar and POM pomegranate juice together and dissolve sugar over high on stove-top

Midori Eye-Tini (from Rob Husted of Florida)
1-1⁄4 parts Midori Melon liqueur
3⁄4 parts SKYY Infusions Citrus
1⁄2 part Finest Call Agave Syrup
2 parts of Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale
2 parts Finest Call Sweet & Sour Mix
3 Orange Wedges
2 Fresh Ripped Basil Leaves
Strawberry Sundae Syrup

In shaker glass combine Midori Melon liqueur, SKYY infusions Citrus, Finest Call Agave Syrup, 3 Orange Wedges and 2 Fresh Ripped Basil Leaves.
Muddle ingredients together. Add ice and Finest Call Sweet & Sour Mix.
Shake for 10 seconds.
Add Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale and roll drink back and forth between your mixing tin and shaker glass.
Strain into a chilled martini glass drizzled with Strawberry Sundae Syrup to give an effect of a bloodshot eye.

Garnish: Chilled red seedless grape at bottom of glass (to look like an eyeball) and bruised basil leaf floated on top of cocktail for aroma.

Black Martini
The Black Martini replaces vermouth with either blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur.
3 1/2 oz gin or vodka
1/2 oz blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur
lemon twist or black olive for garnish or gold flakes

Pour the ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously.
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist or black olive or sprinkle in gold flakes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bulwer-Lytton Awards 2016

I can't believe I neglected to post the Bulwer-Lytton Awards. They're always such fun, especially for readers. Following: The Overall Winner and the winners and runners-up in the Crime/Detective Category.

Conceived to honor the memory of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton and to encourage unpublished authors who do not have the time to actually write entire books, the contest challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Bulwer was selected as patron of the competition because he opened his novel "Paul Clifford" (1830) with the immortal words, "It was a dark and stormy night." Lytton’s sentence actually parodied the line and went on to make a real sentence of it, but he did originate the line "The pen is mightier than the sword," and the expression "the great unwashed." His best known work, one on the book shelves of many of our great-grandparents, is The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), an historical novel that has been adapted for film multiple times.

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
 --Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)


Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her.

--William "Barry" Brockett, Tallahassee, FL

Brockett is a 55-year-old building contractor who has specialized in additions, home makeovers, and bathroom/kitchen remodels for about twenty years. His particular enjoyment is reading, with true crime and the "hardboiled" genre being his favorites, hence his winning entry. 

Winner, Crime/Detective:
  • #She walked toward me with her high heels clacking like an out-of-balance ceiling fan set on low, smiling as though about to spit pus from a dental abscess, and I knew right away that she was going to leave me feeling like I had used a wood rasp to cure my hemorrhoids. — Charles Caldwell, Leesville, LA
Dishonorable Mentions, Crime/Detective:
  • “We got a stiff on the sidewalk all bled out; a stiff on a tugboat tied up with enough cement to build the Hoover Dam; Louie Miller empties out his bank account and falls off the face of the planet; Jenny Diver, Sukey Tawdry, Lotte Lenya, and Lucy Brown all get death threats . . . I got no goddamned proof, but five’ll get ya ten that Macky’s back in town.”  — William Lattanzio, Boyertown, PA
  • Detective Hammer Logan III woke with a start, images of the bizarre bayou murder still fresh in his mind’s eye—a dame in trouble, body covered with bloody toothprints and saliva—but as sleep lifted, the grizzled detective remembered that he was a dog and the dame a coyote, so he spun on the bed three times and slept the rest of the day. — Jacob Smith, Dallas, TX
  • As he gazed at Ming's lifeless body draped over the sushi bar, chopsticks protruding from his back, Det. Herc Lue Perrot came to the sobering realization that tonight, there had been a murder at the Orient Express. — Andrew Caruso, Akron, OH

Cartoon of the Day: Hello Again Kitty

Happy Halloween!

When Tomatoes Were Blamed for Witchcraft and Werewolves

From Atlas Obscura comes this fascinating article: When Tomatoes Were Blamed for Witchcraft and Werewoves. Perfect for Halloween!

No other vegetable has been as maligned as the tomato (and it is a vegetable, by order of the United States Supreme Court). We call tomatoes killers. We call them rotten. We call them ugly. We call them sad. To find the reason why, you have to go back to the 1500s, when the humble fruit first reached European shores (and it is a fruit, by scientific consensus). Through no fault of its own, the tomato stepped into the middle of a continent-wide witchcraft panic, and a scientific community in tumult.

Between 1300 and 1650, thousands of Europeans (mostly women) were executed for practicing witchcraft, in a church-and-government-sanctioned mass hysteria academics call the "witch craze." Women were burned, drowned, hanged, and crushed after trials in both secular and religious courts; and lynched by vigilante mobs. By the most conservative estimate, Dr. Ronald Hutton's count of execution records, between 35,184 and 63,850 witches were killed through official channels—at least 17,000 in Germany alone. Sociologist Nachman Ben-Yehuda estimates the combined death toll could have been as high as 500,000. It was a massive, concerted, prolonged crusade.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Crime Scene

A Series that Rose from the Bread: Ann Myers

With the Day of the Dead coming up shortly, I asked Ann Myers for an essay about her Santa Fe Café Mysteries. Perfect timing for the launch, also, of her third book in the series. The first book in the series, Bread of the Dead (2015), introduced café chef and reluctant amateur sleuth, Rita Lafitte. Rita and her friends stir up more trouble in Cinco de Mayhem (March 2016) and Feliz Navidead (October 25, 2016). Ann lives with her husband and extra-large house cat in southern Colorado, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, and cozy mysteries. Facebook: Website:

Ann Myers:
A Series that Rose from the Bread

I’ll confess, for someone who’s written three holiday books, I lag on the festive curve. I tend to hide from Halloween. I rarely get Christmas cards out on time (if at all). And though I have endless intentions for seasonal crafts and décor, the days get away from me. When I do get decorations up, I like them so much I don’t take them down. Yes, I’m that person. I’ve had paper snowflakes on my windows and blue solar Christmas lights on my front porch since last winter. But hey, it’s getting chilly again so I’m okay, maybe even momentarily ahead.

However, there’s one holiday activity I don’t let drop: baking. I adore holiday baking, especially desserts and breads, which is partly how Bread of the Dead was born. The first book in the Santa Fe Café Mysteries takes its name from pan de muerto, a rich brioche-like bread flavored with orange and anise seed. It’s delicious and can be shaped like a skull and crossbones, which is just plain fun to watch rise in your oven.

The sweet, buttery bread plays a key culinary role in tempting the ancestors to return during Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This Mexican holiday has ancient roots in the Aztec festival of the dead that coincided with the fall harvest. Over time the holiday was blended with the Catholic traditions of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2).

On these days, souls of the departed are said to return to earth. Families welcome their deceased loved ones with altars featuring festive foods, flowers, and photographs and favorite items of the deceased. Other traditions include cleaning gravesites and holding graveside feasts and vigils. In the U.S., the holiday is probably most known for its skeleton art and images. Such imagery puts a lighthearted spin on death, prompting us not only to remember those who’ve passed on but also to enjoy our fleeting time on earth.

In Bread of the Dead, Rita Lafitte, a chef at Tres Amigas Café in Santa Fe, is busy decorating sugar skulls and taste-testing pan de muerto for an upcoming Day of the Dead baking contest. Life is sweet until her friendly landlord, Victor, is found dead next door. Although the police deem Victor’s death a suicide, Rita knows something is amiss. To uncover the truth, she teams up with her octogenarian boss Flori, the town’s most celebrated snoop.

The sleuths return in Cinco de Mayhem to tackle a food-cart bully and a murder that has Flori’s daughter taking the heat. From the dead man’s disgruntled former employees to a shady health inspector, the suspect list grows long. Rita scrambles to find the killer, while also worrying that her impending dinner date will fall as flat as her practice round of Cinco de Mayo-themed green chile and cheese soufflés

In Feliz Navidead, Christmas brings treats such as bizcochitos, New Mexico’s official state cookie, and Rita’s Midwestern mom, in town for a visit. Rita hopes to charm her Santa Fe-skeptic mother with twinkling farolito lights and fun activities like watching her teenage daughter perform in the Christmas pageant. What she doesn’t plan for is murder. Although Rita initially vows to stay clear of the case, she discovers her daughter and others could be in danger. With Flori’s help, Rita strives to salvage her mother’s vacation, unmask a murderer, and stop the festive season from turning even more fatal.

Rita is a whole lot braver than me and a much better multi-tasker too. But like me, she doesn’t always get her decorations up and her soufflés sometimes flop. She’s always ready to bake, share, and eat holiday treats, though. Oh, and in case we don’t get those holiday cards out, happy holidays everyone!

Monday, October 24, 2016

What Happens When You Enter the Witness Protection Program?

Thought I'd share this very interesting article and review about Witseec: Inside the Witness Protection Program.

Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program is a rare insider's account of the Witness Protection Program, and the book begins with this story of Gerald Shur’s unsuccessful attempt to charge Sonny Franzese with extortion.
Gerald Shur was struggling to convince his witness to testify. The year was 1961, and Shur, an attorney focused on organized crime at the Department of Justice, was talking to the owner of a New York trucking company who claimed that Johnny “Sonny” Franzese demanded half the profits of his business. Franzese’s men had vandalized his trucks and beaten him unconscious with baseball bats until he complied, and now the owner hoped that Shur could offer him a way out. But when Shur suggested testifying against Franzese, the witness responded, “Testify?”

He had good reason to be incredulous. For Franzese, a member of one of the “Five Families” of the New York mafia, extorting a small business owner represented low-level crime. An associate wearing a wire would later record Franzese discussing the best way to commit murder: he would cover his fingertips with nail polish, wear a hairnet, and dismember the body so that he could run it through the garbage disposal. 

Shur suggested that the owner “did not really have a choice.” Only by testifying could he protect his business. But the owner did have a choice, and not crossing a high-ranking mafia member seemed the wiser course. 

While frustrated, Shur could understand the decision. His own father, a worker in the garment industry and a trade group leader, had learned to accept the mob’s presence; several gangsters attended Shur’s bar mitzvah. Shur’s office also contained gruesome photos of some of the 25 government informants killed over the past five years. 

As Shur and his colleagues drove away after failing to gain the business owner’s cooperation, Shur said, “There’s got to be a way to get witnesses to testify against the mob.” Another agent replied, “Would you?”

Cartoon of the Day: Anger Management

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Ghost Hunters

A New Yorker State of Mind by Larry Karp

Larry Karp passed away a few days ago. Larry wrote several articles for the Mystery Readers Journal, including the following article for Mystery Readers New York City Mysteries I which appeared this Spring. It was a pleasure knowing Larry and reading his books. Rest in Peace.

Larry Karp practiced perinatal medicine (high-risk pregnancy care), and wrote three nonfiction books and newspaper and magazine articles for 25 years. In 1995, he left medical work to begin a second career, writing mystery novels. The backgrounds and settings of Larry's mysteries reflect many of his interests, including musical antiques, ragtime music, and medical-ethical issues.

Larry Karp:
A New Yorker State of Mind 

When I walked away from a thirty-year career in medicine to write mystery novels full-time, I knew there was one background I did not want to use - the one everybody told me I should use. "You could write great thrillers like (fill in your favorite medical thriller writer).

But I'd had more than enough medicine for a good long while, and I did not want to write thrillers. During my medical years, my diversion was collecting and restoring antique music boxes, and I set myself to using that experience to write a mystery story full of envy, conniving, theft, and murders.

Problem was, I set the story in Seattle, my home for the prior quarter-century. Outdoor activities and computers were and still are big there, but the antique-collecting community in the Emerald City was small and all too well behaved. My story went nowhere. But I had grown up in New York...all right, not exactly in New York.

But I'd always thought of myself as a New Yorker. From the time I was a pre-teen through my pubertal years (Not to worry; this was the 1950s), I regularly got on a bus in Paterson, New Jersey, where there was nothing - heck, radio station WPAT played only twangy music that made my teeth ache, but WQXR in New York played Beethoven! Just a short ride into The City, and I was free to spend the day as I pleased. Take the D train to Harlem and watch my New York Giants - with Willie Mays! - demolish the hated Dodgers. Visit the dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History. Go further uptown and say hello to Mr. Grant in his tomb. Go downtown to what's now called SoHo, and get lost among the teeming crowds of immigrants; munch a mile-long hot dog from a pushcart gently glid-ing by... Wander through Times Square, scuzzily fascinating as it was in those days. Saturday matinee-time in the Theater District; be riveted by Paul Muni in Inherit the Wind. Maybe best of all, meander through Greenwich Village, ears and eyes open to the max, spying on the singular people I'd see and hear there. I'll never forget the summer day I stood at the door of one of the big clubs, listening to a Black pianist practicing at the piano, and he invited me inside, asked if I liked jazz, and when I told him I liked his jazz, he played me a private half-hour interpretive concert.

So there was what I needed for my story: a wide, brilliant canvas. Models for characters who'd be both energetic and more than just a little different. A huge community of antique music machine collectors, appreciators, dealers, pickers. Such as the late Mr. Murtogh Guinness, yes of that family, whose collection was so extensive and eye-popping that he had bought two classic New York brownstones and knocked out the wall between them to properly display his treasures.

My amateur detective was Dr. Thomas Purdue, neurologist and the hardest-core music box aficionado. My deal with myself was that neither the author nor the reader would ever see the inside of Thomas' office. I transplanted him to New York, and he hit the ground running.

I'd not thought about writing a series, but The Music Box Murders and Thomas Purdue got pretty nice reviews, so I went on to do Scamming the Birdman, a New York caper a la Donald Westlake. The LA Times reviewer opined that I had not quite achieved my goal, but that "the ending was worthy and then some of Westlake." Good enough. Third book: The Midnight Special, another story that could only have happened in the crazy, bustling New York antiques scene.

Then, I got a big bite from the Historical Bug, and my other five mysteries have taken me to new places. Four have transported me out of New York, but one, The King of Ragtime, was in fact set there, in 1916. It was a kick to go back in time to get the setting and background right for Scott Joplin's home turf some thirty years before I'd ever laid eyes on it.

Will I set any more stories in my para-hometown? When it comes to predicting what's going to come out of my head and onto a computer screen, I've learned to not even try to predict.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Larry Karp: R.I.P.

Sad News. Larry Karp, the author of many music mysteries passed away on October 21. I was privileged to know Larry for many years. He wrote several articles for Mystery Readers Journal, including "A Wide Canvas" for the New York City I issue of MRJ this year and "Books and Music, Music and Books for the Music Mysteries issue. I loved his enthusiasm, his love of mysteries, his music boxes, his knowledge of music, and his way with words. He will be missed.

From the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime Website:

Although Larry lived in the Seattle [Washington] area for much of his life, he grew up in [Paterson] New Jersey, as one might have guessed from the slight accent he retained. He began his career as a physician, specializing in high-risk and complicated pregnancies. He founded the Prenatal Diagnostic Center at the University of Washington as well as the Department of Perinatal Medicine at Swedish Medical Center. Residents of the Family Practice Programs at both Swedish and Providence hospitals voted him Teacher of the Year.

For years, Larry wrote articles for medical journals as well as three non-fiction works, two of which dealt with medicine and one that explored his passion for antique music boxes.

When Larry retired from medicine in 1995 he plunged into writing the mystery novels he loved, producing both standalones and two series; the Music-Box Mysteries and a trilogy of Ragtime mysteries. They are not only beautifully written, but meticulously researched. To the delight of many, he also authored a children’s book dedicated to his grandson Simon and illustrated by his friend Vic Hugo. 
Seymour’s First Clarinet Concerto exemplifies Larry’s versatility as a writer. He recently completed a historical biography of Brun Campbell (Brun Campbell: The Original Ragtime Kid) and the book dearest to his heart—a mystery co-authored with his son Casey Karp. The Ragtime Traveler will be available in April 2017.
HT: The Rap Sheet 

Cartoon of the Day: English Mystery 2.0

Epitaphs of Famous People

I always stop at cemeteries. I find graveyards so interesting... especially the epitaphs on the gravestones. I have lots of books filled with epitaphs, but here are a few that popped up yesterday on Neatorama.

Edgar Allan Poe: “Quoth the raven, nevermore.”

Jayne Mansfield: “We live to love you more each day.”

Robert Frost: “I had a lover's quarrel with the world.”

Mel Blanc: “That's all folks.”

Jack Lemmon: “Jack Lemmon in.”

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Cat Yoga

The Great Myth of Naturalistic Dialogue: Guest post by Gwen Parrott

Gwen Parrott has published several Welsh language crime novels and her first to be published in English. Dead White (Wyndham Media Ltd)) can now be found on Kindle. Set in the bitter winter of 1947 in a remote village in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, it features the newly arrived local school teacher, Della Arthur, who is caught in a snowstorm and makes a terrible discovery in a seemingly abandoned farmhouse. The second in the Della Arthur series will appear next year. As a professional translator, Gwen is in the unusual position of being able to translate her own novels and you can find out more about her at


I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there really is no such thing as dialogue that truly reflects the spoken word. Making dialogue sound ‘natural’ is as much part of the craft of writing as structuring a plot or creating a convincing character. In fact, there is nothing ‘natural’ about it. It’s an illusion.

I learned this the hard way, firstly by writing plays for stage and radio, and secondly by transcribing videos and audio tapes. I found that when I read my stage and radio dialogue out loud, I couldn’t actually say it. It felt as if I was deliberately writing tongue-twisters, although it all looked fine on the page. This vague realisation that writing words that are meant to be read requires a different mind-set to writing words that are meant to be said only crystallized when, some years later, in my other job as a translator, I spent long hours transcribing audio tapes.

That wasn’t just an eye-opener, it was an ear-opener as well. Quite apart from feeling that I was being paid to eavesdrop, it was possibly the single most valuable thing I’ve done in terms of honing how I write dialogue. So as not to miss a single word, I had to listen over and over to how people actually speak, and frankly, it was disturbing. Honestly, people talk such a load of old rubbish. How anybody follows the thread of a conversation is a mystery. We start sentences that we don’t finish, we interrupt one another, we ‘um’ and we ‘ah’ constantly throughout, we make up words, we insert irrelevant non-sequiturs and veer off at a tangent. In all my transcriptions, the only people who made any sense on paper were those who knew that their words would be transcribed, because it was a regular part of their job. Oddly, the noticeable thing about their speech was that it sounded as if they were reading from a script, because they spoke in such unnaturally complete, measured sentences.

All writers struggle to make the spoken word easy on the reader’s eye, while retaining the flavour of speech. This is further complicated by the need to ensure that what a character says reflects their personality, education and background. They all need an unique, recognisable ‘voice’. The one advantage of a novel is that you can reinforce this by using a character’s inner voice within the narrative, which comments and analyses, but they still have to speak at some point. There are devices which help – using a phrase rather than a whole sentence, making dialogue snappier by leaving out ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ for a few lines, and suggesting interruption by very occasionally letting a character say half a sentence, before someone else butts in. Yet, whatever devices we use, it will be in the knowledge that we are basically trying to reconcile two polar opposites – spoken and written words.

It’s all smoke and mirrors, as I said.

Cartoon of the Day: Facebook

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Texting Bee

HT: BV Lawson

Oakland's Laurel Book Store Seeks Business Partner

"Who Wants to Own a Book Store?" was the headline for the annual State of the Store address from owner Luan Stauss, owner of Laurel Book Store in Oakland, Calif., which is celebrating its "second anniversary in downtown and our 15th in Oakland."

Luan Stauss at Laurel Book Store:

"People love the store, and the most frequent question I get from customers in this age of e-books and mega-vendors is 'are you doing alright?' That's a complicated question to answer."

After a detailed response, she observed that the "numbers show that the store is on the right track and we have a wonderful, stable staff.... The potential for growth is great. And I am looking for a business partner to help take Laurel Book Store into the future--someone with ideas and the energy to make ideas reality. I hear so often 'I'd love to own a book store...' and wonder whether anyone is serious. I've been the sole owner of this wonderful store for 15 years and I am ready to have someone join me to make it even more amazing--to take it to the next level. If you're interested, please contact me directly....

"What I want more than anything is to have a successful, sustainable, growing book store serving Oakland and beyond. I want to continue hearing people say 'I'm glad you're here,' which is a powerful drug in one's work life. And I want to keep putting books into the hands of readers, and working with authors, teachers, librarians, and readers to build community together. Who's with me? And more important, what book can I get you today?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Halloween Crime Fiction: A List

Happy Halloween! Halloween so lends itself to crime fiction! Here's my updated 2016 list of Halloween Mysteries. Let me know if I've missed any titles. I'd like to have this list as complete as possible. Boo!!


Behind Chocolate Bars by Kathie Aarons
The Root of All Evil by Ellery Adams
Green Water Ghost by Glynn Marsh Alam
Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert 
Antiques Maul by Barbara Allan
In Charm's Way by Madelyn Alt
Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews
A Roux of Revenge by Connie Archer
Far to Go by May Louise Aswell
Killing Time by Amy Beth Arkaway
Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun, Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming by Kathleen Bacus 
Trick or Treachery: A Murder She Wrote Mystery by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher
The Ghost and Mrs Fletcher by Donald Bain, Renee Paley-Bain, & "Jessica Fletcher"
Punked by the Pumpkin by Constance Barker
In the Spirit of Murder by Laura Belgrave 
The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin
Spackled and Spooked by Jennie Bentley 
Watchdog by Laurien Berenson
The Ginseng Conspiracy by Susan Bernhardt
A Haunting is Brewing by Juliet Blackwell
Ghost of a Potion by Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber)
Under an English Heaven by Alice K. Boatwright
Witches of Floxglove Corners by Dorothy Bodoin 
Night of the Living Thread by Janet Bolin

Death of a Trickster by Kate Borden 
Post-Mortem Effects by Thomas Boyle
A Graveyard for Lunatics, The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Rebel without a Cake by Jacklyn Brady
The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Hunt Ball, The Litter of the Law by Rita Mae Brown
Death on All Hallowe'en by Leo Bruce
Halloween by Leslie Burgess
Death Goes Shopping by Jessica Burton
Wycliffe and the Scapegoat by W.J. Burley
Death Goes Shopping by Jessica Burton
Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Ann Campbell
The Wizard of La-La Land by R. Wright Campbell
The Charm Stone by Lillian Stewart Carl
The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr
The Halloween Murders by John Newton Chance 
Death with an Ocean View by Nora Charles 
Frill Kill, Tragic Magic, Photo Finished, Bedeviled Eggs The Jasmine Moon Murder, Fiber and Brimstone, Bedeviled Eggs, Frill Kill, Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs
Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Haunted Hair Nights by Nancy J. Cohen
PoisonBuried Punch by Lyndsey Cole

A Holiday Sampler by Christine E. Collier
Lost Souls by Michael Collins
A Gala Event by Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell)

Not in My Backyard by Susan Rogers Cooper
Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman
Deadly Magic by Elisabeth Crabtree
A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford
Newly Crimsoned Reliquary by Donna Fletcher Crow
Silver Scream, Bantam of the Opera, The Alpine Uproar by Mary Daheim
Halloween Hijinks, Pumpkins in Paradise, Haunted Hamlet, Legend of Tabby Hallow, Ghostly Graveyard, Costume Catastrope, Count Catula by Kathi Daley
The Dracula Murders by Philip Daniels
The Diva Haunts the House, The Ghost and Mrs Mewer by Krista Davis
Fatal Undertaking by Mark de Castrique
Farmcall Fatality by Abby Deuel
Throw Darts at a Cheesecake by Denise Dietz
Trick or Treat, The Halloween Murder by Doris Miles Disney
A Map of the Dark by John Dixon
Ghostly Murders by P. C. Doherty
Died to Match by Deborah Donnelly
Cat with an Emerald Eye by Carole Nelson Douglas
Cupcakes, Bats, and Scare-dy Cats by Pamela DuMond
Not Exactly a Brahmin by Susan Dunlap 
Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones by Kaitlyn Dunnett 
A Ghost to Die For by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox
Be Careful What You Witch For by Dawn Eastman

The Bowl of Night by Rosemary Edghill 
The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards
Death by Pumpkin Spice by Alex Erickson
Door of Death by John Esteven 
The Witchfinder by Loren D. Estleman 
Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich 
Dead Ends by Anne C. Fallon 
Sympathy For The Devil by Jerrilyn Farmer
Dead in the Pumpkin Patch by Connie Feddersen 
It's Your Party Die if You Want To by Vickie Fee

Blackwork, Hanging by a Thread, Blackwork by Monica Ferris
Scary Stuff by Sharon Fiffer
The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Honora Finkelstein 
Trick or Treachery by "Jessica Fletcher" and Donald Bain
The Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Halloween Murder, Foul Play at the Fair, Trick or Deceit by Shelley Freydont
Broke by Kaye George
Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber
Trick or Treat by Leslie Glaister
Mommy and the Murder by Nancy Gladstone
Haunted by Jeanne Glidewell 
Blood & Broomsticks by Jean G. Goodhind (aka J.G. Goodhind)

A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling
The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein (YA)
Monster in Miniature by Margaret Grace  
Hell for the Holidays by Chris Gravenstein 
Nail Biter by Sarah Graves 
Deadly Harvest by Heather Graham 
Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood 
Halloween by Ben Greer 
The Snafued Snatch by Jackie Griffey 
Quoth the Raven, Skeleton Key by Jane Haddam
Hallowed Bones, Bone to Be Wild by Carolyn Haines
Muffin but Murder by Victoria Hamilton
Delicious Mischief by Marianne Harden

Southern Ghost, Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart 
Sweet Poison by Ellen Hart
Hide in the Dark by Frances Noyes Hart 
Revenge of the Cootie Girls by Sparkle Hayter
Town in a Pumpkin Bash by B.B. Haywood
The Fallen Man, The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman 
Death of a Pumpkin Carver by Lee Hollis
The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes  
Murder on the Ghost Walk by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter 
Already Dead by Charlie Huston
Long Time No See by Susan Isaacs
Murder on Old Main Street, Dirty Tricks, Dying Wishes by Judith K. Ivie
The Pumpkin Thief, The Great Pumpkin Caper by Melanie Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Murder Among Us by Jonnie Jacobs
A Murder Made in Stitches by Pamela James
The Devil's Cat, Cat's Eye, Cat's Cradle, The Devil's Kiss, The Devil's Heart, The Devil's Touch by William W. Johnstone  
The Violet Hour by Daniel Judson
Muffins & Murder by Heather Justesen
A Charming Voodoo by Tonya Kappes
The Sacrifice by Karin Kaufman
Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
Wed and Buried, The Skeleton Haunts a House by Toni L.P. Kelner
Verse of the Vampyre by Diana Killian
Pumpkin Roll by Josi S. Kilpack 
The Animal Hour by Andrew Klavan 
Paws for Murder by Annie Knox
Murder in the Neighborhood by Janis Lane

Ghastly Glass by Joyce and Jim Lavene 
The Stitching Hour by Amanda Lee (aka Gayle Trent)

Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine 
Death Knocks Twice by James H. Lilley
The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan (aka Miranda Bliss & Casey Daniels)
Pumpkin Pied by Karen MacInerney

Poisoned by Elaine Macko 
Halloween Flight 77 by Debbie Madison 
Baby Doll Games by Margaret Maron
Satan's Silence by Alex Matthews 
Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery by Ed McBain 
Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McKevett
Death on All Hallows by Allen Campbell McLean
A Sparrow Falls Holiday by Donna McLean
Witch of the Palo Duro by Mardi Oakley Medawar  
Trick or Treat Murder, Wicked Witch Murder, Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier 
Dancing Floor, Prince of Darkness by Barbara Michaels
Monster in Miniature by Camille Minichino 
The Violet Hour by Richard Montanari
A Biscuit, a Casket by Liz Mugavero
Send in the Crows by Julie Mulhern
Bread of the Dead by Ann Myers

Dead End by Helen R. Myers
Nightmare in Shining Armor by Tamar Myers 
Hatchet Job by J.E. Neighbors
What Doesn't Kill Here by Carla Norton
Retribution by Patrick J. O'Brien
Deadly Places by Terry Odell

Halloween House by Ed Okonowicz
The Body in the Moonlight by Katherine Hall Page 
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry
The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry
Flight of a Witch by Ellis Peters 
Twilight by Nancy Pickard
Pumpkin Spice Murder by Summer Prescott

Murder at Witches Bluff by Silver Ravenwolf
Poltergeist by Kat Richardson 
Death Notice by Todd Ritter 
Spook Night by David Robbins 
A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts
Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts
Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder by Sara Rosett
Scared Stiff by Annelise Ryan
Death of Halloween by Kim Sauke
Mighty Old Bones by Mary Saums 
Murder Ole! by Corinne Holt Sawyer
Tracking Magic by Maria E. Schneider
The Tenor Wore Tapshoes by Mark Schweizer
Phantoms Can be Murder by Connie Shelton
A Killer Maize by Paige Shelton
Dance of the Scarecrows by Ray Sipherd
The Sterling Inheritance by Michael Siverling
The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Susan Smily
Recipe for Murder by Janet Elaine Smith

Town Haunts by Cathy Spencer
Carbs and Cadavers by J.B. Stanley
In the Blink of an Eye, Halloween Party by Wendy Corsi Staub
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Ripping Abigail by Barbara Sullivan
Murder of a Royal Pain by Denise Swanson
Mourning Shift by Kathleen Taylor
Halloween Homicide by Lee Thayer
Inked Up by Terri Thayer
Charlie's Web by L.L. Thrasher
Gods of the Nowhere by James Tipper
Death in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope
A Dash of Murder by Teresa Trent
Strange Brew by Kathy Hogan Trochek
Masking for Trouble by Diane Vallere
Pineapple Mystery Box by Amy Vansant
I Will Fear No Evil by Debbie Viguié
Dangling by a Threat by Lea Wait
How to Party with a Killer Vampire by Penny Warner
Murder by the Slice, Trick or Deadly Treat by Livia J. Washburn 
Five-Minute Halloween Mysteries by Ken Weber
The Scarecrow Murders by Mary V. Welk
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner  
Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells
Ghoul of My Dreams by Richard F. West 
All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams
Mayhem, Marriage, and Murderous Mystery Manuscripts by J.L. Wilson
A Stitch to Die For by Lois Winston
Killer See, Killer Do by Jonathan Wolfe
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien

And here's a list of Halloween Mystery Short Story anthologies:

Homicidal Holidays: Fourteen Tales of Murder and Merriment, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, & Marcia Talley
Deadly Treats: Halloween Tales of Mystery, Magic and Mayhem, Edited by Anne Frasier 
Trick and Treats edited by Joe Gores & Bill Pronzini
Asking for the Moon (includes "Pascoe's Ghost" and "Dalziel's Ghost") by Reginald Hill
Murder for Halloween by Cynthia Manson
The Haunted Hour, edited by Cynthia Manson & Constance Scarborough
Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense, edited by Michele Slung & Roland Hartman.
Mystery for Halloween (an anthology), edited by Donald Westlake
Halloween Horrors, edited by Alan Ryan
All Hallows' Evil, edited by Sarah E. Glenn
Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman and Marcia Talley
Halloween Thirteen-a Collection of Mysteriously Macabre Tales, by Bobbi Chukran
Happy Homicides 4: Falling into Crime, edited by Joanna Campbell Slan et al.

And, Halloween stories, reviews, and articles on the special Halloween posts at Kings River Life.

Cartoon of the Day: Kitten School

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Apostrophe

Can Authors Do Too Much Research? Guest Post by Jean Heller

Jean Heller’s news career included serving as an investigative and projects reporter and editor for The Associated Press in New York City and Washington, D.C., The Cox Newspapers and New York Newsday in Washington, D.C. and the St. Petersburg Times in Washington, D.C. and Florida.  Jean has won multiple awards, including the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. Her novels include the Deuce Mora series (The Someday File and The Hunting Ground) and the stand-alone thrillers Handyman and Maximum Impact.


The simple answer to this question is no. Whether we’re writing about simple or complex subjects, we always have to assume that some reader, somewhere, will notice if we get even one small fact wrong.

An extremely famous thriller writer, now dead, was known to be careless with his facts. He once described field-stripping of a weapon and made major mistakes. He once described a car chase through Lucerne, Switzerland, which, had it happened as he described, would have run along the bottom of Lake Lucerne. While these errors didn’t appear to impact his sales, they could impact yours.

On the other hand, a wonderful mystery writer named Walter Satterthwait, writing a novel about two Pinkerton agents solving crimes in the early part of the 20th century, once spent a full week researching what red wine made in France would have been served with a cassoulet in a Parisian restaurant in the 1920s. I suggested to him, “Who would know if you got it wrong?” His response, “Someone would.”

While the simple answer about doing too much research is “no, you can’t do too much,” the more complex and helpful response is, “no, you can’t do too much, but . . .”

You cannot know too much about your subject. But you can throw too much of that knowledge into your book. Doing so risks boring readers who might not share your passion for canning rutabagas, or farming catfish, or discovering the names of more than 400 varieties and sizes of crushed rock.

I had this problem initially with my first novel, Maximum Impact, published by St. Martin’s Press way back in 1993. I am a licensed pilot. And Maximum Impact is a mystery about an airliner crash and the cover-up that followed. Because it was the 90s, and because I’m a woman, I felt I had to prove I knew the technical aspects of my subject. I embarked on some diversions longer than a flight from Chicago to Copenhagen. As a result the first draft of the manuscript was 900 pages long, more than twice what it should have been.

There were a lot of things my editor suggested cutting. First and foremost were lengthy descriptions of technical stuff (“technical stuff” is a formal aviation term) that didn’t advance the story and about which few people would care. Thus trimmed, the second draft was much more manageable.

Still, at an early book signing, one male reader confirmed my worst fears. “Why,” he asked me, “did you write a man’s book?” I didn’t get angry. The problem was his, not mine. And I knew that even back when the manuscript was 900 pages long, the extra technical stuff didn’t justify that length and probably wouldn’t have answered the reader’s question.

I am currently working on a plan to reissue the book next year. My principal task now is to go through the story looking for sentences and paragraphs I left in the first time and shouldn’t have. Maximum Impact got great reviews when it was published. It will be an even better book the second time.

I bring this up now because I have a new book, The Hunting Ground, for which I had to learn an enormous amount about the grim subject of human trafficking. Most of what I learned isn’t in the story. I left it out because it was too painful to force on readers who would buy the book hoping to be entertained. It was all good information for me to have because it imbued the writing with an air of authenticity. But it wasn’t necessary to create the mystery at the heart of the story: whodunit and why?

Those questions are, after all, are the critical ones.