Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cartoon of the Day

I've posted this cartoon before, but sadly today it seems so much more timely.

Scandinavian Crime Thrillers Today

Scandinavian Crime Thrillers Today

Lectures at several San Francisco libraries help put perspective on modern Sweden - through today's popular crime thrillers. Many Swedish Americans find fun and enriching ways to live their heritage in America, but some of those activities — folk dancing, embroidery, cooking heirloom recipes — may actually harken back to the Sweden of 150 years ago when their ancestors came to America. The Sweden of today is a modern, diverse and urban place that can be a challenge for Swedish Americans to connect with as the land of their forefathers. Swedish crime novels have a way of helping facilitate that connection. Crime thrillers enable readers to learn about the real lives of Scandinavian people today and are a fun and exciting introduction to literature and the humanities.

When Maj Sjöwall and Pär Wahlöö started writing 50 years ago, they began presenting a picture of their country and its people through crime novels. Sjöwall and Wahlöö presented a critique of the Swedish welfare state and highlighted the struggles of the poor and neglected. They also offered a vivid sense of place — the beautiful countryside, the Göta Canal, the picturesque buildings and streets of Stockholm. These novels have enjoyed huge public success.

Dr. Jim Kaplan, professor emeritus at Minnesota State University Moorhead, has read and studied them and will present a discussion of these Scandinavian crime novels that are enjoying world-wide popularity.

Kaplan’s library lectures will feature Jar City by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason, Occupied by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, with film clips from internationally recognized main characters Lisbeth Salander, Kurt Wallander and Harry Hole.

Discussion participants may bring a brown bag supper.
The programs are free and open to the public on:
Feb. 1, 2017 at 6 p.m. at San Francisco Main Library
Feb. 2, 2017 at 7 p.m. at San Francisco Public Library, Merced Branch
Feb. 3, 2017 at 12 p.m. at Woodside Public Library

See http://www.nordstjernan.com/calendar for more information

HT: Sue Trowbridge

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: How to Submit Your Spy Novel for Publication

From the Amazing Tom Gauld!

Genre Fiction of California: Special Exhibit

The Bancroft Library at the 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair special exhibit on:

Genre Fiction of California

February 10-12, 2017 at the Oakland Marriott City Center

The Bancroft Library has a long history of collecting the literary fiction of California, including mystery and detective fiction, fantasy and science fiction, and western fiction. This special exhibit will highlight California authors’ notable contributions in genre fiction and will emphasize recent donations to the library by featuring materials from the extensive collection of influential author, critic, and literary mentor Anthony Boucher, first editions by early members of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, selections by MWA Grand Masters Ross Macdonald, Margaret Millar, Marcia Muller, and Bill Pronzini, and more.

The exhibit is open during all hours of the Fair:
Friday, February 10: 3pm-8pm
Saturday, February 11: 11am-7pm
Sunday, February 12: 11am-5pm

Come meet Randal Brandt, Bancroft Curator of the California Detective Fiction Collection on Saturday, February 11, from 1:30-4:00pm.

The world’s largest antiquarian book fair returns to the Oakland Marriott City Center in downtown Oakland, February 10-12, 2017. The three-day event, sponsored by Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, features Thousands of Rare Books and Manuscripts; Special Seminars and Events; Hundreds of Booksellers From Around the World.

For more information and to purchase tickets see https://www.cabookfair.com/visit.php

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Barbara Hale: R.I.P.

Barbara Hale who played Della Street on Perry Mason: R.I.P.

From The Washington Post

Barbara Hale, a wavy-haired model and Hollywood leading lady of the 1940s and 1950s who warbled with Frank Sinatra in his first big film role and had a long television career as the devoted secretary Della Street to Raymond Burr’s tireless defense lawyer Perry Mason, died Jan. 26 at her home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. She was 94.

Although Ms. Hale had a flourishing career in movies — often in wholesome roles opposite stars such as James Stewart, James Cagney and Robert Mitchum — she found her big-screen career overshadowed by her work on CBS’s “Perry Mason.” The series aired from 1957 to 1966, making it one of the longest-airing courtroom shows in history, and Ms. Hale earned an Emmy Award for her role as Street.

Two decades later, she reprised her role in more than two dozen made-for-TV movies for NBC. Mason, who solved murder mysteries with his savvy as a cross-examiner, is the creation of novelist Erle Stanley Gardner. There had been many Mason iterations: a low-budget movie series in the 1930s with titles such as “The Case of the Lucky Legs” and “The Case of the Curious Bride” and then as a radio show on CBS from 1943 to 1955, with a rotating cast of Masons and Streets.

The television series was propelled by the chemistry among its top cast: Burr as the brilliant courtroom tactician, William Hopper as the private investigator who helps Mason pull off his legal victories in down-to-the-wire dramatics, and Hale as the glamorous and unflappable secretary who gamely stays late at the office every day. The perpetually stymied adversary was the district attorney played by William Talman. 

Ms. Hale, who won a 1959 Emmy for best supporting actress in a dramatic series, stayed with the show until it folded. Burr once called her “a remarkably intuitive actress. She has an instinct for doing exactly the right thing when it is needed.” The actor, who cultivated orchids in his spare time, named one after her.

John Hurt: R.I.P.


Actor Sir John Hurt, who appeared in over 200 films and TV shows, died Friday at the age of 77. The actor revealed in 2015 that he was battling pancreatic cancer.

The actor's 60-year career earned him two Oscar nominations and played such memorable roles as the wand maker Ollivander in three of the Harry Potter films, the deformed Joseph Merrick in "The Elephant Man," Winston Smith in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (1984) based on the George Orwell book, the Dragon in the "Merlin" TV series, Professor Broom in the "Hellboy" films, and the War Doctor in "Doctor Who," just to name a few. Hurt also voiced characters in such well-known animated features as "The Lord of the Rings" and "Watership Down."

In Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller "Alien" (1979), Hurt plays a character named Kane whose stomach explodes with an alien he unknowingly became a host to in one of the most graphic, and memorable scenes in the movie. He would repeat a similar scene in Mel Brooks's 1987 film "Spaceballs."

Cartoon of the Day: Irony

Friday, January 27, 2017

Chinese New Year Crime Fiction

恭賀發財 Gung Hay Fat Choy! This is the Year of the Rooster. Chinese Lunar New Year.

I've put together Chinese New Year Mystery Lists for the past few years, as well as some titles (scroll down) that take place in China and Taiwan, not necessarily during the New Year. As always, I welcome any additions.


Year of the Dog, Red Jade by Henry Chang 

Year of the Dragon by Robert Daley 
Neon Dragon by John Dobbyn
Dim Sum Dead by Jerrilyn Farmer 
The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen
Chop Suey by Ty Hutchison

The Skull Cage Key by Michael Marriott
The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan
City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley
The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee by Robert Van Gulik (7th Century China) "New Year's Eve in Lan-Fang"

Short story by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer: "The Lady Fish Mystery", EQMM, September/October 1996.

The Nancy Drew Notebooks: The Chinese New Year Mystery by Carolyn Keene
The New Year Dragon Dilemma by Ron Roy

A good reference book for contemporary crime fiction in China: Chinese Justice, the Fiction: Law and Literature in Modern China by Jeffrey C. Kinkley (Stanford University Press)

Not specifically about Chinese New Year, here's a short list of mysteries set in China and Taiwan:

Ralph Arnote, Hong Kong, China
Biggers, Earl Derr, Charlie Chan: The House Without a Key, The Chinese Parrot, Behind the Curtain, The Black Camel, Keeper of the Keys
Lisa Brackmann, Rock Paper Tiger, Hour of the Ram
Adam Brookes, Night Heron
Koonchung Chan, The Fat Years 
Henry Chang, Chinatown Beat, Year of the Dog, Red Jade
Yin-Lien C. Chin, The "Stone Lion" and Other Chinese Detective Stories
Stephen Coonts, Hong Kong
Charles Cumming, Typhoon
Franklin M. Davis, Jr., Secret: Hong Kong
Chris Emmett, Hong Kong Policeman
Paul French, Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
Jim Michael Hansen, Bad Laws
Chan Ho-Kei, The Borrowed, The Locked Room of Bluebeard, The Man Who Sold the World, 13.67
Mara Hvistendahl, And The City Swallowed Them
Carolyn Keene, The Mystery of the Fire Dragon (Nancy Drew #38). Yes, Nancy goes to Hong Kong!
He Jiahong, The Madwoman
S.G. Kiner, The Hong Kong Connection
D.L. Kung, The End of May Road
Diane Wei Liang, The Eye of Jade
Ed Lin, Ghost Month
John L. Mariotti, The Chinese Conspiracy
Paul Mason, Rare Earth
Peter May, The Firemaker, The Killing Room, Chinese Whispers
Nicole Mones, A Cup of Light
Xiaolong Qiu, Death of a Red Heroine, A Loyal Character Dancer, When Red is Black, A Case of Two Cities, Red Mandarin Dress, The Mao Case, Don't Cry, Tai Lake; Enigma of China, Shanghai Redemption
Catherine Sampson, The Pool of Unease
Lisa See, Flower Net, Dragon Bones, The Interior
Deborah Shlian, Rabbit in the Moon
Wang Shuo, Playing for Thrills
Robert Stewart, The Last Bowl of Tea
Eric Stone, Shanghaied
Nury Vittachi, The Feng Shui Detective
A.Yi, A Perfect Crime
Christopher West, Death of a Blue Lantern
Zhi Wen, Salvation at Knife's Edge
Kate Whitehead, Hong Kong Murders
Don Winslow, Shibumi (o.k., only part of the action is in China, but I love this novel!)
David Wise, Tiger Trap
Chen Xiaoquing, Sherlock in Shanghai
Qiu Xiaolong, Death of a Red Heroine

Here's a wonderful blog on Writing in China by Bertrand Mialaret (in French) http://www.mychinesebooks.com/

Also I'll be posting recipes on my other blog, Dying for Chocolate, for a Chocolate Chinese New Year... 5-Spice Chinese Truffles.

Cartoon of the Day: Short Story

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Agatha Nominated Short Stories: Links to read them!

Thanks to Art Taylor for the links to the Agatha Nominated Short Stories. This will give you a chance to read them all before voting. Not going to Malice? Read these stories anyway. They're great! Interested in the other Agatha categories and nominees? Go Here.

Agatha Short Story Nominees:

"Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story" by Gretchen Archer (Henery Press): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LZ2N59J?pldnSite=1 (not free yet, I'll keep you posted)

"The Best-Laid Plans" by Barb Goffman in Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional (Wildside Press): http://www.barbgoffman.com/The_Best_Laid_Plans.html (free)

"The Mayor and the Midwife" by Edith Maxwell in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 (Down & Out Books): https://edithmaxwell.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/the-mayor-and-the-midwife.pdf

"The Last Blue Glass" by B.k. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine: http://www.bkstevensmysteries.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/LastBlueGlass.pdf  (free)

"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press): http://www.arttaylorwriter.com/books/6715-2/  (free)

Cartoon of the Day: The Crime Scene

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Cat-Match.com

Love this!

HT: Jayna Monroe

Agatha Award Nominees

2016 Agatha Nominees. Congratulations to all of the nominees. The Agatha Awards will be presented on April 29, 2017, at the Malice Banquet. Winners in each category will be decided via onsite ballot by the attendees of Malice Domestic 29.

Best Contemporary Novel
Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson (Midnight Ink)
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Fogged Inn by Barbara Ross (Kensington)
Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)

Best Historical Novel
Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao (Berkley)
Get Me to the Grave on Time by D.E. Ireland (Grainger Press)
Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)
Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

Best First Novel
Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper (Minotaur)
Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon (Henery Press)
The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn (Henery Press)
Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann (Midnight Ink)
Design for Dying by Renee Patrick (Forge Books)

Best Nonfiction
Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats by Jane K. Cleland (Writer's Digest Books)
A Good Man with a Dog: A Game Warden's 25 Years in the Maine Woods by Roger Guay with Kate Clark Flora (Skyhorse Publishing)
Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Margaret Kinsman (McFarland Books)

Best Short Story
"Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story" by Gretchen Archer (Henery Press)
"The Best-Laid Plans" by Barb Goffman in Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional (Wildside Press)
"The Mayor and the Midwife" by Edith Maxwell in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 (Down & Out Books)
"The Last Blue Glass" by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press)

Best Children/Young Adult
Trapped: A Mei-hua Adventure by P.A. DeVoe (Drum Tower Press)
Spy Ski School by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster)
Tag, You're Dead by J C Lane (Poisoned Pen Press)
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos (Balzer & Bray)
The Secret of the Puzzle Box: The Code Busters Club by Penny Warner (Darby Creek)

John Lescroart Literary Salon: February 2 in Berkeley (CA)

Mark your calendars for Thursday, February 2, 7 p.m.!
LITERARY SALON with New York Times Bestselling author JOHN LESCROAT.

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for a LITERARY SALON in Berkeley (CA) with JOHN LESCROAT.

Open to All, but you must RSVP to attend. Space Limited. Address given when you RSVP. Leave a comment below with email address.


John Lescroart

John Lescroart is the New York Times Bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, available online and in bookstores. He has written twenty novels in the San Francisco based Dismas Hardy/Abe Glitsky series, and three in the Wyatt Hunt series. FATAL is a stand-alone novel. Libraries Unlimited has included him in its publication "The 100 Most Popular Thriller and Suspense Authors." His books have been translated into twenty-two languages in more than seventy-five countries, and his short stories appear in many anthologies.

John Lescroart will be discussing his latest thriller, FATAL, an explosive story of infidelity, danger, and moral ambiguity which excite and satisfy both his current and new fans.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Evidence

Research Trip: guest post by Chris Pavone

CHRIS PAVONE is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Accident and The Expats, and winner of the Edgar and Anthony Awards for best first novel. He was a book editor for nearly two decades and lives in New York City with his family. With The Travelers (Broadway Books, January 10, 2017), which has been acquired for film by DreamWorks and is now in paperback, Pavone has crafted a jet-setting, fast paced thriller that transports readers from the beaches of Saint-Jean-de-Luz and the bustle of Barcelona to the isolation of northern Iceland—all beautiful places that are hiding a darker story of surveillance, lies, and espionage. 


I realize that it sounds a bit like bullshit: “I’d like to go to Mexico. For research.” It’s a frigid midwinter day in New York City, and what I’m telling my wife is that I want to fly someplace warm, by myself, to quote-unquote work. This certainly seems like a flimsy excuse for an indulgent vacation.

There are all sorts of ways to travel: on the cheap or in the lap of luxury, for business or pleasure, adventure or enlightenment, seeking art or food, activity or relaxation, for a day or a week or a month, for a year and a half. I’ve done all, with every sort of companion and their combinations—parents and grandparents, wife and children, in-laws and colleagues, friends and strangers, all by my lonesome.

I think every style of travel presents a different opportunity, enriching in a different way. For me, traveling solo is the least fun version, the most demanding. But it’s also the most rewarding for my current purposes. Removed from my daily routine, from all the people who inhabit my life, from repeat experiences, this forces me not merely to see the world in a different way, but also to become someone a little bit different myself, at least temporarily, at least in my imagination. More cosmopolitan, perhaps, or maybe more provincial. Richer, or poorer. Bolder, or more timid. More exciting, maybe more dangerous, sexier; it’s the rare hotel room that doesn’t make me think of sex, part and parcel of an overall sense of possibility, of adventure.

Wherever I’m traveling, I can’t help but wonder this: Could I live here? What would I do here? Who would I be?

Nine years ago, I found myself wandering the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg contemplating exactly these questions, but this time in the concrete, not the abstract: my wife had just started a job in the Grand Duchy. I was forty years old, and except for college I’d only ever lived in New York City; never even considered anywhere else. I’d spent nearly all my adult life working as a book editor, surrounded by a rotating cast of similar characters.

But now suddenly I was a stay-at-home parent to twin four-year-old boys, living in an unfamiliar little city. I cooked and I cleaned, I planned our travels, I attempted to integrate myself into a community of utter strangers. I was an expat trailing spouse.

Nothing in this life was familiar. I didn’t know how to do anything I needed to do—speak French, take care of children, make new friends, fill my days in satisfying ways without a job. I had grown very comfortable, very competent, being the me who lived in New York among friends and family and a lifetime’s worth of accrued local competence. Now I was incompetent.

I realized that I needed to become someone different. Friendlier, more outgoing, more accepting; a more disciplined housekeeper, a more patient parent, a more supportive husband.

I also had to find a new career, and I needed to pursue it in a more self-motivating fashion. I started writing a novel, a story about someone who moves to Luxembourg, doesn’t know how to do anything—speak French, take care of kids, make friends, fill days in satisfying ways. That protagonist is a very different version of me: she’s a woman, I’m a man; she’s an ex-spy, I’m an ex-editor; she occasionally kills people, I never do. But I invented her as an alternative me, living a life very similar to mine.

That Luxembourg adventure came to an end, and we returned to a variation on our old life in New York. But I’d learned some important things about myself. I could become someone different enough to live a different life. I could become a full-time parent, and like it. I could imagine myself as someone else, and turn that someone into the protagonist of a novel. I could write a novel, all the way to the finish.

But sometimes I have a hard time doing it sitting here in New York, surrounded by everything that’s familiar, everything that’s the same old me I’ve always known. Here in New York, the thing I see mostly clearly is me in New York. And that’s not what I want to write about.

So I get on a plane.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Closing Statement

Ann Cleeves to receive CWA Diamond Dagger

Ann Cleeves to receive CWA Diamond Dagger. 

Congratulations, Ann!!!

The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) announces that Ann Cleeves is to receive the CWA Diamond Dagger, the highest honor in British crime writing. The Dagger award recognizes authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre.

Martin Edwards, Chair of the CWA, said: "Ann Cleeves is internationally renowned as the author of the series on which the very popular TV programmes Vera and Shetland are based. But long before her television success, she worked hard writing hugely enjoyable crime novels and short stories. As well as publishing thirty books, she has been a passionate and effective advocate for libraries, while her generosity towards fellow crime writers as well as readers means that this news is sure to be widely welcomed."

Ann Cleeves said: "It’s a huge honour to be recognized by my peers, the crime-writers whose books, friendship and support I’ve enjoyed for more than thirty years. I am privileged to have had such a happy career and I will always be grateful for the support of booksellers and forever indebted to the passion and expertise of librarians, without whom I wouldn’t still be writing today."

Ann has written 30 novels and is translated into as many languages. Before her writing career took off, Ann worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard. In 2015, Ann chaired the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, during which Vera was voted the UK’s favorite fictional detective. Also in 2015, Thin Air was nominated for the Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and Ann was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library award. In 2006, Cleeves’ novel, Raven Black, was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger) for Best Crime Novel, and in 2012, she was inducted into the CWA Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame. As well as fiction, Ann has written a non-fiction title about Shetland and, in November 2015, she hosted the inaugural Shetland Noir festival on the Shetland Islands.

In 2016 Ann was named Queen of Village Noir, which she loved, while The Guardian named her as ‘the best living evoker of landscape’. Ann holds a remarkable record: she is the only living author to have two major drama series on TV.

Ann Cleeves will be presented with the CWA Diamond Dagger at the CWA’s Dagger Awards ceremony in London on 26 October. The CWA Diamond Dagger is selected from nominations provided by CWA members. Nominees have to meet two essential criteria: first, their careers must be marked by sustained excellence, and second, they must have made a significant contribution to crime writing published in the English language. It’s clear that Ann Cleeves meets these criteria in style.

Bookstore Sign of the Day: Alternative Facts

 Bookstore Sign of the Day:

The Bookloft in Great Barrington, MA:

"Now offering... 'Alternative facts!!!' located in our fiction section."

HT: Shelf Awareness

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

I've posted this before, but I always think of my own cats when I see this!

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe, born January 19, 1809... this gravestone notwithstanding..

And for those Poe-aholics out there comes this wonderful post from Matthew Mercier at the Tor website.    

10 Weird Things about Edgar Allan Poe.  Check out the info on all 10, ending with #1-his love of cats.

So raise a glass of Absinthe.. Nevermore..

MWA Edgar Awards Nominees

Mystery Writers of America announces the Nominees for the 2017 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2016. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 71st Gala Banquet, April 27, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City. Congratulations to all!

The Ex by Alafair Burke (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper)
Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books)
Dodgers by Bill Beverly (Crown Publishing Group)
IQ by Joe Ide (Little, Brown & Company – Mulholland Books)
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Dancing with the Tiger by Lili Wright (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Lost Girls by Heather Young (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott (Polis Books)
Come Twilight by Tyler Dilts (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
The 7th Canon by Robert Dugoni (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

Morgue: A Life in Death by Dr. Vincent DiMaio & Ron Franscell (St. Martin’s Press)
The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder: The Unsolved Murder That Shocked Victorian England by Paul Thomas Murphy (Pegasus Books)                      
While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness by Eli Sanders (Penguin Random House – Viking Books)
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale (Penguin Random House – Penguin Press)

Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd (Penguin Random House – Nan A. Talese)
Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime: Works and Authors of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden Since 1967 by Mitzi M. Brunsdale (McFarland & Company)
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (W.W. Norton - Liveright)
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula by David J. Skal (W.W. Norton - Liveright)

"Oxford Girl" – Mississippi Noir by Megan Abbott (Akashic Books)
"A Paler Shade of Death" – St. Louis Noir by Laura Benedict (Akashic Books)
"Autumn at the Automat” – In Sunlight or in Shadow by Lawrence Block (Pegasus Books)
"The Music Room" – In Sunlight or in Shadow  by Stephen King (Pegasus Books)
"The Crawl Space” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Joyce Carol Oates (Dell Magazines)

Summerlost by Ally Condie (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton BFYR)
OCDaniel by Wesley King (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
The Bad Kid by Sarah Lariviere by  (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand  (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Framed! by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger (Simon & Schuster – Simon Pulse)
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Henry Holt BFYR)
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Soho Press – Soho Teen)
Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor (Penguin Random House – Penguin Young Readers – Dial Books)

"Episode 1 – From the Ashes of Tragedy" – The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Teleplay by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (FX Network)
"The Abominable Bride" - Sherlock, Teleplay by Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat (Hartswood Films/Masterpiece)
"Episode 1 – Dark Road" - Vera, Teleplay by Martha Hillier (Acorn TV)
"A Blade of Grass" – Penny Dreadful, Teleplay by John Logan (Showtime)
 "Return 0" - Person of Interest, Teleplay by Jonathan Nolan & Denise The (CBS/Warner Brothers)
“The Bicameral Mind” – Westworld, Teleplay by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (HBO/Warner Bros. Television)

"The Truth of the Moment" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine  by E. Gabriel Flores (Dell Magazines)

Max Allan Collins
Ellen Hart

Dru Ann Love

Neil Nyren

* * * * * *

The Other Sister by Dianne Dixon (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Landmark)
Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink)
Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Tor/Forge Books – Forge Books)
Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Writer

International Mysteries Literary Salon January 26: Jeffrey Siger, Cara Black, Lisa Alber

Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 26, 7 p.m.!

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for a LITERARY SALON in Berkeley (CA) with Jeff Siger (Greece), Cara Black (Paris), and Lisa Alber (Ireland).
Open to All, but you must RSVP to attend. Space Limited. Address given when you RSVP.
Make a comment below with your email.

Jeffrey Siger (Greece)

Jeffrey Siger, born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, practiced law at a major Wall Street law firm and, while there, served as Special Counsel to the citizens group responsible for reporting on New York City's prison conditions. He left Wall Street to establish his own New York City law firm and continued as one of its name partners. He now lives and writes full-time in Mykonos, his adopted home of 30+ years.

Santorini Caesars is the eighth novel in his internationally best-selling and award nominated Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series, following up on Devil in Delphi, Sons of Sparta, Mykonos After Midnight, Target: Tinos, Prey on Patmos, Assassins of Athens, and Murder in Mykonos.

Cara Black (Paris)

Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 14 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Cara has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture—and invitations to be the Guest of Honor at conferences such as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime.

With more than 400,000 books in print, the Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.

Lisa Alber (Ireland)

Lisa Alber is the author of the County Clare mystery series, which has been described as atmospheric, complex, and with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The first novel, "Kilmoon," was a Rosebud Award finalist for best debut novel. The second novel, "Whispers in the Mist," is now available. Lisa is busy writing the third (and fourth!) novels in the series.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Winery


Lefty Award Nominees

The Lefty awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 18, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Congratulations to all the Nominees!

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. This year’s nominees are:
  • Donna Andrews, Die Like an Eagle (Minotaur Books)
  • Ellen Byron, Body on the Bayou (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Timothy Hallinan, Fields Where They Lay (Soho Crime)
  • Heather Haven, The CEO Came DOA (Wives of Bath Press)
  • Johnny Shaw, Floodgate (Thomas & Mercer)
  • Diane Vallere, A Disguise To Die For (Berkley Prime Crime)
Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial) for books covering events before 1960. This year’s nominees are:
  • Rhys Bowen, Crowned and Dangerous (Berkley Prime Crime)
  • Susanna Calkins, A Death Along the River Fleet (Minotaur Books)
  • Laurie R. King, The Murder of Mary Russell (Bantam Books)
  • Catriona McPherson, The Reek of Red Herrings (Minotaur Books)
  • Ann Parker, What Gold Buys (Poisoned Pen Press)
Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel. The nominees are:
  • Sarah M. Chen, Cleaning Up Finn (All Due Respect Books)
  • Marla Cooper, Terror in Taffeta (Minotaur Books)
  • Alexia Gordon, Murder in G Major (Henery Press)
  • Nadine Nettmann, Decanting a Murder (Midnight Ink)
  • Renee Patrick, Design for Dying (Forge)
Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories). The nominees are:
  • Matt Coyle, Dark Fissures (Oceanview Publishing)
  • Gigi Pandian, Michelangelo’s Ghost (Henery Press)
  • Louise Penny, A Great Reckoning (Minotaur Books)
  • Terry Shames, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake (Seventh Street Books)
  • James W. Ziskin, Heart of Stone (Seventh Street Books)
The Left Coast Crime Convention is an annual event sponsored by mystery fans, both readers and authors. Usually held in the western half of North America, LCC’s intent is to host an event where readers, authors, critics, librarians, publishers, and other fans can gather in convivial surroundings to pursue their mutual interests. Lefty Awards have been given since 1996.

The 27th annual Left Coast Crime Convention will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 16–19, 2017. Faye Kellerman and Jonathan Kellerman will be honored with Left Coast Crime Lifetime Achievement Awards. This year’s Guests of Honor are authors Dana Stabenow (American Guest of Honor) and Colin Cotterill (International Guest of Honor). Author Laurie R. King will serve as Toastmaster. 

The Glass Key Award: Ane Riel

For some reason I didn't see any notification of the winner of The Glass Key Award (The Scandinavian Crime Society Award), so I asked my friend Sue Trowbridge to do a search, since she's fluent in Swedish. Thanks, Sue! Harpiks is not yet translated into English.

Danish author Ane Riel gets 25th Glass Key 

August 8, 2016

The Scandinavian Crime Society (SKS) is pleased to announce that the Society Grand Prize, The Glass Key 2016 is awarded to the Danish author Ane Riel for Harpiks. Harpiks is no typical crime novel, but both a nasty and poignant portrayal of young Liv's upbringing. She begins her story: "It was dark in the white room, where my father killed my grandmother."

 Harpiks has in its homeland been awarded the Danish Crime Academy Harald Mogensen Prize for best Danish thriller.

Additional information about the author can be found at http://www.aneriel.dk/presse.

The Glass Key was awarded for the 25th time. The first recipient was Henning Mankell, who won the award for Faceless Killers, the start of his blockbuster series about Ystad commissioner Kurt Wallander. Altogether, Sweden has won 8 Glass Keys, Denmark and Norway 7 each, Iceland and Finland 2 each.

Other nominees for this anniversary year were: Kati Hiekkapeito: Suojattomat (in en. The Defenseless.") FI Yrsa Sigurðadottír: DNA. ICE Kjell Ola Dahl: Kureren. NO. Anders de la Motte: Ultimatum. SE

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Jury

What's Corn Got to Do with It? How Food Can Define a Mystery's Worldview

Today I welcome Judith Newton, professor emerita at U.C. Davis in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. Judy is at work on the second in the Emily Addams Food for Thought Series. Oink. A Food for Thought Mystery will be published April 18, 2017 with She Writes Press. It is available for preorder here. http://amzn.to/2dgLWkW 

Read more about her at judithnewton.com and https://www.facebook.com/TastingHomeComingOfAgeInTheKitchen/ 
Judy is the author of five books of non fiction. Her memoir, Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen, came out in 2013 with She Writes Press and won twelve independent press awards. 

Judith Newton:
What’s Corn Got to Do with It?
How Food Can Define a Mystery’s Worldview 

At the beginning of Oink. A Food for Thought Mystery, Emily Addams, foodie professor of women’s studies at Arbor State—a land grant university in Northern California— finds herself an unlikely suspect in the poisoning of Peter Elliott, professor of plant biology and a hot shot developer of a new genetically modified corn. How did her corn bread (unmistakable for its goat cheese and caramelized onions) end up in his hand as he lay on the smelly muck of a pig’s pen? Emily must figure out how before the police close in on her.

As she comes under suspicion, Emily and her comrades in women’s and ethnic studies are fighting the administration’s attempt to defund their programs and run Arbor State more like a corporation than a place of higher learning. Her efforts to save her own skin and to protect the campus community she loves come together as Emily and her colleagues launch their own investigation to find out who really slipped the professor a piece of cornbread spiked with pesticide. It is this community—fueled by tasty food—that successfully resists the newly corporate culture, saves the women’s and ethnic studies programs, and helps Emily solve the mystery. Not incidentally, the novel comes with eighteen recipes for dishes made from corn.

Why corn? You might ask. Why not, say, chocolate? While chocolate has an honored place across the globe, corn is more of a staple. In many cultures corn or maize is also associated with life, fertility, and rebirth and, in a novel that emphasizes the importance of caring community in the face of growing self-interest, competition, and greed (oink, oink!), the recurring presence of corn serves to emphasize human connection.

In Oink, for example Emily bonds with her ten-year-old daughter, Polly, by cooking polenta with tomato concasse in a kitchen that soon begins to smell of baking corn and melting cheese. Emily’s female colleagues fall, quite naturally, into talking about food and, given the poisoning, about corn bread in particular. Isobel Fuentes-Rivera of Native American Studies tries to console Emily: 

“Remember, we don’t know yet that it was your corn bread. Lots of people make corn bread. I make it with blue cornmeal or with cranberries. The Iroquois boiled theirs.” 

Food talk also breaks the tension between women who are strangers to each other. When two female police officers turn up at Emily’s house to question her about the poisoning, the women fall into a conversation about their family’s corn bread. Recipes for black southern cornbread and for cornbread with jalapeños are included in the book. It makes sense, then, that Emily’s community (faculty from women’s and ethnic studies) eat something made of corn almost every time they meet: spicy enchiladas with corn tortillas, crunchy homemade corn chips, sweet corn pudding.

In keeping with the global importance of corn and with the multicultural nature of Emily’s community, the recipes for corn-based dishes which follow each chapter come from European American, African American, Asian American, Native American, and Latina/o food traditions. 

Providing recipes to the readers seemed a way of extending what are intended to be food-based communal experiences beyond the act of reading.

Since pigs eat corn as well, corn also becomes an emblem of connection between the human and the animal worlds. When Emily first learns about the cornbread in Peter’s hand, she hopes against hope that it is not really corn bread but something else yellow. “Wait, pigs ate corn too. Had his hand been full of feed for hogs?” In Oink, corn also suggests the interconnection of humans and plants and, indeed, the whole natural world. Helena White, Emily’s fashion studies colleague, has corn silk hair. The scientist Tess Ryan reminds Emily of “a young and vigorous stalk of corn.” Didn’t Michael Pollan tell us that corn adapted itself to humans and vice versa? Feeling connected to nature can re-enforce the value of human community.

Although corn most often evokes positive connection in Oink, it can be turned to bad ends. Peter Elliott is secretly working for Syndicon, a giant biotechnology corporation, to produce a genetically engineered corn for pigs. Syndicon’s interest lies only in making a profit, and it comes after Peter when he threatens to go public with the fact that his insect and pesticide resistant feed is not sitting well with actual hogs. Scientists like Tess, in contrast, work on genetically engineered food with the goal of ending world hunger. Corn can be what you make it.

Sometimes, of course, you can’t control the effects of your good intentions either—even with corn. Emily brings her famous corn bread to a Native American studies reception the evening before Peter is found comatose in the hog yard, and soon everyone at the reception is under suspicion for attempted murder. Emily had always thought of sharing food as a way of bringing people together across their differences. Now, the whole meaning of her gift may have been turned on its head. “Had any baking project ever gone so wrong?” Efforts at connecting don’t always work.

Despite evil intentions and life’s nasty surprises, corn is mainly tied to good relationship, and, at the end of Oink, as Emily makes corn pudding for her community’s celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos, she reflects once more on the way corn ties her to different cultures and to other beings throughout the ages. “I wasn’t grinding corn as millions of women before me had done—thank God for the food processor. But this labor of planning the dish, gathering the ingredients, mixing the batter, baking—all the while anticipating the pleasure of those I would feed—linked me to women throughout the ages. And also to men.”

El Dia de los Muertos is a day that reminds us of our own mortality while also comforting us with the richness and pleasures of community, and this raises an implicit question. Given human frailties and mortality and the empowering nature of community in our facing them, do we want to spend our days in the rabid pursuit of profit and self-interest or do we want to strive for more communal ways of being?

Friday, January 13, 2017

William Peter Blatty: R.I.P.

Deadline reports that Writer and filmmaker William Peter Blatty, author of the famed 1971 novel The Exorcist that he helped turn into one of the most iconic supernatural horror films of all time, died Thursday at the age of 89. A screenwriter and author, Blatty eventually wrote and directed The Exorcist II and 1980’s The Ninth Configuration starring Stacey Keach, also based on his novel.
He won the Oscar in 1973 for his screenplay, based on his own book, the Exorcist.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Line-Up

Victoria on PBS Masterpiece January 15

Do you love The Crown? Are you a fan of the royal family? Do you love historical period dramas? Then you'll really enjoy Victoria about Queen Victoria that premieres this Sunday night, January 15, on Masterpiece PBS.

Victoria: In 1837, a diminutive, neglected teenager is crowned Queen Victoria, navigates the scandal, corruption, and political intrigues of the Court, and soon rises to become the most powerful woman in the world. 

Victoria stars Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) as Queen Victoria that follows the drama of the candid, spirited monarch who was perhaps the first woman to seem to have it all. Following Victoria from the time she becomes Queen through her passionate courtship and marriage to Prince Albert, the lavish premiere season of Victoria dramatizes the romance and reign of the girl behind the famous monarch.  

In addition to Jenna Coleman, the ensemble includes Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle, Zen, The Pillars of the Earth) as Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister and intimate friend and Tom Hughes (Page Eight, Dancing on the Edge) as her husband Prince Albert.

There are 7 episodes (the first viewing is two parts), and I binged. I was lucky to see the season in advance. Great holiday viewing. There will be a second season. This ITV production has been a huge success in the U.K., as I'm sure it will be here in the U.S.  I'm so glad they've begun filming the second season because this first season ended somewhat abruptly. Still if you're a fan of the monarchy, you'll enjoy all the pomp and circumstance, plus great acting and costuming!

Once you've watched this series, or perhaps in advance, you might want to view the 2001 historical TV serial Victoria & Albert, starring Victoria Hamilton, Jonathan Firth, James Callis, Peter Ustinov, Dianna Rigg, and more of your favorite British actors.

Still can't get enough period drama? Check out the following shows streaming on Netflix and Hulu.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Introverts Anonymous

Can you relate? Cartoon of the Day: Introverts Anonymous

Miss Fisher Con: May 4-7, 2017

Here's a new convention that looks to be quite fun: Miss Fisher Con. Don't have all the details, but I'll add to this post when I do. Thanks to Bill Gottfried for forwarding the info.

Miss Fisher Con: Las Vegas, NV, Vdara Hotel: May 4-7, 2017.

Miss Fisher Con is your chance to immerse yourself in all things Miss Fisher and meet friends from around the world (fans coming from Norway and Canada!). Plus, Travis McMahon who plays Albert Bert Johnson will be there).

Miss Fisher Con includes:
Discussion Sessions
Costume Contest
Scavenger Hunt
And More!
Registration is between $150 – $195

This event is produced by the volunteer organization: Adventuresses’ Club of the Americas. Link for information and to register: https://goo.gl/forms/ibrbWWrWmRDcThSA3

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: No Comment

Cartoon of the Day: No Comment
HT: Susan Blatt

Anne Trager: Dummies Guide to French Mysteries and Thrillers

Anne Trager, the genius behind Le French Book, sent me Dummies Guide to French Mysteries and Thrillers: Wine, Food... and Good Books. I knew my readers would want a copy, too, so I asked for a guest post and link. Be sure and scroll down for your free e-copy. To start off, here's a bit about Anne Trager.
Anne Trager:

First of all, I’d like to tell you more about Le French Book. To borrow from the Small-Press Lineup mugshot that appeared in Booklist: I am Anne Trager, aka The Translator, infamous trafficker of French mysteries and thrillers in English. Among my accomplices are co-conspirator Fabrice Neuman, aka The French Connection; Amy “Red-line” Richards, translation editor sometimes known as The Slasher; and Jeroen “Bleeding in the Gutter” ten Berge, cover artist. Known associates include translators Sally Pane, Sophie Weiner, Julie Rose, Simon John, and Jeffrey Zuckerman.

Le French Book is my very own crime of passion. I am known to be obsessed with mysteries and thrillers and have a weakness for France. I grew up between Ohio and the southwest of the US, and as far back as I can remember I dreamed about traveling overseas. Maybe it’s because my parents were linguists, or maybe it’s because they spelled my first names à la française: Anne, with an e, and Valerie, with ie. As a teenager, I dreamed about going to France, read Gourmet Magazine religiously, and experimented with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I ended up studying French and going to Paris as soon as I could. There I trained as a chef before starting my translation and editorial career there. Now I guess you understand why I’m so fond of the Winemaker Detective series.

Jumping ahead, in 2012, I woke up one morning, compelled to drop everything and bring my vices—an obsession with crime fiction equal to my love of France—home by translating mysteries and thrillers by French writers. Think serial killer in Paris, deceit and treachery in vineyards, rolling countryside filled with hidden secrets. Think also wine-sipping freelance spies based in the French capital, and intrigue straight out of World War II, along with much more: noir, cozies, police procedurals, detective stories, suspense, espionage, action, and adventure.

The operation started off digital-first, but from the beginning, we wanted to expand to other formats, and now we have widespread print distribution and a number of titles in audiobook format.

And here's a free gift: 
FYI: it will take 48 hours to receive this. Check your inbox.

A Dummies Guide to French Mysteries and Thrillers

France—the name itself evokes the good life, with food, wine, lovely countryside, and a huge network of independent booksellers and readers who love mysteries and thrillers. Did you know that one out of four books sold in France is a mystery or thriller, one out of five books published is a mystery or thriller, and a quarter of the bestsellers are mysteries or thrillers? It’s no cliché, the French do love their noir, along with a whole spectrum of other kinds of crime fiction.

What exactly is a French thriller or a French mystery? Is a French mystery different than an American one? Does it necessarily have dark humor? A je ne sais quoi in the plot twists? 

Click Here to get the full essay

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Accidental Suicide

From Bizarro. Cartoon of the Day: Accidental Suicide

The Code Busters Club: Guest Post by Penny Warner

Agatha Award winning author Penny Warner has written over 60 books on subjects ranging from cooking to parenting guides to children's activities.  Her first mystery series featuring Connor Westphal, a deaf reporter in the California Gold Country, won a Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, and was nominated for an Agatha and an Anthony Award. Her other mystery series features event planner, Presley Parker, and is set in the San Francisco Bay Area. As Penny Pike she writes the Food Truck/Food Festival Series. Her non-fiction book, THE OFFICIAL NANCY DREW HANDBOOK, was nominated for an Agatha Award. You'll read more below about her middle-grad mystery series: Code Busters. Penny writes a column for the local newspaper on family life in the Valley, creates fund-raising murder mystery events for libraries across the country, and teaches child development at Diablo Valley College.


Like many women, I grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Nancy was a role model to many of us because she had the freedom, courage, and spirit to do things we couldn’t. I learned a lot from reading about her adventures—how to survive quicksand, how to send messages via carrier pigeon, how to write “SOS” with lipstick (backwards) when you’re bound and gagged and left for dead in an attic.

I also discovered my love of codes from reading Nancy Drew. I learned sign language, Morse Code, and many other code that Nancy used to track down evil villains and solve puzzling mysteries. After writing dozens of activity books for kids, and two mystery series for adults, I wanted to write a series that combined both. That’s when I came up with the idea to write THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, a mystery for middle-grade kids (seven to twelve years) featuring codes in every chapter for young readers to crack.

I created four ethnically diverse kids—two boys and two girls—so reader appeal would be wide. Then I set the first mystery—SECRET OF THE SKELETON KEY—at a “haunted house” in Berkeley, where a strange old recluse called “Skeleton Man” lived. When the Code Busters see odd stick figures the old man has drawn on his dirty window pane, they realize he’s trying to send them a message.

The code turns out to be drawings representing Semaphore code, and soon the Code Busters are involved in a mystery that includes wild cats, crazy sculptures, and hidden treasure… Naturally the kids have to solve a number of codes before they can solve the puzzle. And the reader solves them right along with the Code Busters! The book was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.

The second book in the series, THE HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE, is set on Alcatraz—the perfect place for a mystery! The Code Busters discover a message written by a former prisoner Diamond Dave, alluding to stolen diamonds. Their hunt for the missing loot leads them on a chase through the University of California campus to the haunted Claremont Hotel—and right into danger! This one won the Agatha Award.

The third book, MYSTERY OF THE PIRATE’S TREASURE, features the California Missions and the state’s lone pirate, also nominated for an Agatha Award and an Anthony Award. Book #4, THE MUMMY’S CURSE, is set at an Egyptian Museum and offers puzzles about artifacts, antiquities, and of course, mummies. Another winner of the Agatha Award! Book #5, HUNT FOR THE MISSING SPY, takes place at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, (get out the disguises), and Book #6, SECRET OF THE PUZZLE BOX, showcases Angel Island and features the Immigration Station, the west coast Ellis Island.

Each book includes new and old codes, so that readers can practice their code-cracking skills while learning new ways of sending secret messages. I do a lot of speaking at schools, where I give out “secret packages” filled with code cards readers can use with the book or with their friends to create their own Top Secret messages. Readers can also join The Code Busters Club (www.codebustersclub.com) and receive a code-busting kit that includes a dossier, Top Secret stickers a Caesar Cipher, and an invisible ink pen—for free!

To my surprise, the series is popular in Japan—they’re up to book #9!—and I had the opportunity to meet my fans there last year. I can’t wait to go back but I really need to brush up on my Japanese!

So if you’re a fan of Nancy Drew—or the Hardy Boys—try your hand at cracking codes and solving mysteries, right along with the Code Busters!