Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Murder at the Super Bowl & Other Football Crime Fiction

Lots of real crime surrounding the Super Bowl: drugs, money, egos, etc. Fodder for the crime writer. So in 'honor' of Sunday's Super Bowl Game, I've updated my short lists of Super Bowl and other Football Mysteries. This is in no way a definitive list--just some football crime fiction for you to enjoy in case you're not watching the Super Bowl! As always, I welcome additions!

If you're interested in other Sports Mysteries and essays on Football Mysteries, Mystery Readers Journal has had several Sports Mysteries issues. The last Sports Mysteries Issue of MRJ was Volume 25:4 (Winter 2009-2010). Available in Hardcopy and .pdf download

Super Bowl Mysteries

The Hidden Key by George Harmon Coxe
Super-Dude by John Craig
Cover-Up: Mystery at the Super Bowl by John Feinstein (YA)
Black Sunday by Thomas Harris
Paydirt by Paul Levine
The Last Super Bowl by Robin Moore & David Harper
4th and Fixed by Reggie Rivers
Murder at the Super Bowl by Fran Tarkenton and Herb Resnicow
Life's Work by Jonathan Valin
Killerbowl by Gary K. Wolf
Other Football Mysteries (not British Football, of which there are many titles)

The Professor by Robert Bailey
Rough and Tumble by Mark Bavaro
Pass Judgment by Jerry Brewer
Sweeper by Steve Bruce 
Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben
Coliseum by Barney Cohen
Et Tu Brady by Joseph Collum
Day of the Ram by William Campbell Gault
Murder at Cleaver Stadium by Douglas Lee Gibboney
Quarterback Trap by Dallas Gorham
Double Reverse; Ruffians by Tim Green
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
Bleeding Maize and Blue by Susan Holtzer
Crown of All Virtues by Reece Kepler
The Prophet by Michael Koryta
Two-Minute Warning by George LaFountaine
Bump and Run by Mike Lupica
The Draft by Wil Mara
Dead Ball Foul by Kayla McGrady
A Cardinal Offense by Ralph McInerny
Parker's Blood by William Miller
The Jook by Gary Phillips
Winter and Night by S. J. Rozan
Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt
Marked Man; Red Card by Mel Stein
A Touch of Death by Charles Williams

Short Stories:  The Mighty Johns edited by Otto Penzler

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (winner of the 2011 Edgar for Best Fact Crime)

Monday, January 29, 2018


MALICE DOMESTIC announces the 2017 Agatha Nominations. Award ceremonies will be held at Malice Domestic on April 29, 2018 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel, Bethesda, MD. Congratulations to all!

Best Contemporary Novel 
Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook (Crooked Lane Books)
A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
No Way Home: A Zoe Chambers Mystery by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Take Out by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)
Glass Houses: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Best Historical Novel 
In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union Publishing)
Murder in an English Village: A Beryl and Edwina Mystery by Jessica Ellicott (Kensington)
Called to Justice: A Quaker Midwife Mystery by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
The Paris Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam)
Dangerous to Know: A Lillian Frost and Edith Head Novel by Renee Patrick (Forge)

Best First Novel 
Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery by Micki Browning (Alibi-Random House)
The Plot is Murder: Mystery Bookshop by V.M. Burns (Kensington)
Hollywood Homicide: A Detective by Day Mystery by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
Daughters of Bad Men by Laura Oles (Red Adept Publishing)
Protocol: A Maggie O'Malley Mystery by Kathleen Valenti (Henery Press)

Best Nonfiction 
From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström (Mysterious Press)
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards (Poisoned Pen Press)
American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse (Liveright Publishing Corp.)
Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction by Jess Lourey (Conari Press) Manderley
Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin’s Press)

Best Short Story 
Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer (Henery Press)
“Whose Wine is it Anyway” by Barb Goffman in 50 Shades of Cabernet (Koehler Books)
“The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place” by Debra Goldstein in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017)
“The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn” by Gigi Pandian (Henery Press)
“A Necessary Ingredient” by Art Taylor in Cost to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Seat (Down & Out Books)

Best Children’s/Young Adult 
City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino (Polis Books)
Sydney Mackenzie Knocks 'Em Dead by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)
The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson (HarperCollins)
Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson (Scholastic Press)
The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley (Scholastic Press)

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Partners in Crime: Marriage Can Be Murder: Guest post by Robert Ryan

Today, I revive our Partners in Crime Feature here on Mystery Fanfare and welcome Robert Ryan, half of the writing partnership known as R.J. Bailey. Safe from Harm has been nominated for a BARRY Award. Writing with a partner can be tricky, and Robert Ryan shares info today on how he and Deborah Ryan have gone about it. Robert Ryan was born in Liverpool. He was a travel journalist on The Sunday Times until his first novel, Underdogs (set in Seattle), was published, when he left to become a freelance author and journalist. Since then he has published twenty novels, including two co-written with his wife Deborah as R J Bailey. His first produced screenplay, Hurricane, about Polish pilots in the Battle of Britain, is scheduled for release in 2019. 


Robert Ryan:
Marriage Can Be Murder

Double acts are notoriously fractious. Writing books is famously difficult. Marriage is obviously a weighty, tricky undertaking. Who on earth would combine these three things by writing a novel with their wife or husband? Well, we would. We are hardly the first, I know, but it took some serious soul-searching before we agreed that Robert and Deborah Ryan should join forces to become R J Bailey.

First of all, some background. The idea was initially mooted by Deborah when I was writing the final book in my quartet about Dr Watson (yes, that one) working at a medic in World War One, as Arthur Conan Doyle had suggested he would in His Last Bow. The novel, The Sign of Fear, was set in London during the air raids carried out by German Gotha bombers. It was research-heavy because I had to juggle the historical context and era-appropriate medicine for Watson to practice with making sure not to upset the legion of Sherlock Holmes fans. I might have mentioned this in passing once. Maybe twice. Either way, Deborah suggested that for the next book I should write a contemporary novel, something I hadn’t done for quite a time. “You wouldn’t have to spend so much time in libraries then.”

I mulled this over. Crime and thrillers are my area. Does the world really need another damaged detective? Or a hard-drinking PI? A serial killer? Deborah came up with the solution. She found an ad online that began:

“We are looking for an experienced Female CPO/PPO/Driver OR an experienced Driver with a knowledge of security for our clients in Westminster. (The candidate gender restriction is due to cultural reasons.) You will be driving the new Rolls Royce Ghost and MUST have previous experience driving luxury cars.”

A female Close or Personal Protection Officer? (They don’t like the word “bodyguard”.) Had there been one in fiction? Well, yes, but not many and none I could find set in the UK. And London was the centre for female bodyguards, due to the large influx of Middle Eastern families in the summer who don’t want their wives and children to be supervised by a man.

While I did a polish on Sign of Fear, Deborah set about creating a backstory for Samantha Wylde, as we named our embryonic PPO. Most of those in the security industry (“The Circuit”, as they call it) have police or army background, so she made Sam a battlefield medic who had done time in Iraq. She was a single mother, because her husband had been shot and killed by assailants unknown. Her daughter would be thirteen/fourteen and a bit of a handful (we had one of those ourselves, although she is now studying neuroscience at college). There would also be a first husband, the father of the child, who would be trying to get access/custody. Best girlfriends were sketched in (a fellow PPO and a journalist friend of her late husband) and a love interest (who lives on one of London’s canals, an aspect of the city we really enjoy).

Then we went to Dublin, to interview Lisa Baldwin, a friendly female PPO, who shared the highs and lows of the job as well as some funny and not-so-funny incidents with clients. By that time two months had passed and I felt we were ready to go. Enough with the research.

So, we sat down at opposite desks in the same office and typed out various sections of the story. But we couldn’t get the styles to meld. We soon realised that the novel had to be written as first person female. And by one person. Eventually we decided I would write and Deborah would edit each chapter as it came along and suggest re-writes, scenarios, plot points as well as giving me make-up and underwear tips. And the odd wisecrack.

There was one chapter, though, where I passed over a virtually blank page. It said: This is a sex scene. There is only one in the book. Make it a good ‘un.

Because although I felt comfortable describing Sam running, shooting, arguing with her daughter and fighting with Russian mobsters, I wasn’t sure I was ready to get into (or claim to understand) the female psyche for sex.

Anyway, it worked (the book I mean; readers will have to judge for themselves about Deborah’s sex scene). The book – Safe From Harm - was sold on a “partial” (i.e. we had only written half of it) and when Simon & Schuster road tested those pages around the office and asked if the author was a man or a woman, about 70% of people were sure the writer was female.

We repeated the process with the sequel, Nobody Gets Hurt, which came out this month, and have just completed the first draft of Winner Kills All for 2019 release. All three have been optioned by a well-known TV production company in the UK. Will there be a fourth? We’re still married, so there could be. But first, I have an idea for a historical spy novel, narrated by a man. It might be back to the libraries for a while. At least I won’t have to worry about make-up.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: The Line-Up


SleuthFest 2018 Writers Conference: March 1-4, 2018, Boca Raton, Florida, hosted by Mystery Writers of America’s Florida Chapter.

SleuthFest is an intensive four-day conference featuring writing workshops, social events, and pitch sessions. SleuthFest includes four tracks of workshops, presentations, and panels on the craft of writing, business, traditional and self-publishing, marketing, and forensics. In addition, top literary agents and editors will be available to hear pitches from aspiring writers, offer troubleshooting sessions, and manuscript critiques.

SleuthFest also features the annual Freddie Awards for Writing Excellence and the SleuthFest Author Auction, where attendees can bid on such once-in-a-lifetime experiences as one-on-one sessions, critiques, and character naming opportunities featuring the conference’s guests of honor, agents, and editors.

SleuthFest 2018 features an incredible line-up of guests and events: Keynote Speaker Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zone, The Dark Tide, and WWII novels, The One Man and The Saboteur, will present “History as a Thriller Backdrop”, a presentation about how to best use which elements of history to immerse the reader in the story and his Keynote talk, 'Career Transitions-Meeting the Challenge of Change.” Renowned forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., will lead a workshop on 'Integrating Forensic Research Into Fiction'; a presentation on 'Talking to Serial Killers’, and an additional presentation, 'A Discussion and Demonstration of Hypnosis - How to Use Hypnosis As A Tool For Your Sleuth', with certified hypnotist, Glenn Miller.

Additionally, SleuthFest 2018 features an outstanding lineup of Award-Winning Guest Authors delivering not-be-missed presentations: including: Hallie Ephron: 'The Grand Finale - Writing the Final Climax' and 'You're Giving Me the Creeps - Getting the Right Amount of Creep Factor'; Hank Phillippi Ryan: 'Write a Mystery or Thriller in an Hour' and 'Starting With Wow - The Crucial First Chapter'; Kristy Montee (PJ Parrish): 'Let Them Breathe - How to Pace Your Novel' and 'Villainous Thoughts - Getting Into the Head of Your Antagonist'; and James R. Benn: 'Show Me - Learn About Show Vs. Tell' and 'Stranger in a Strange Land - How to Write the Unfamiliar.'

SleuthFest affords writers a unique opportunity to connect with industry insiders, writers, and publishing professionals.

To Register: Space is limited. SleuthFest conference attendees who book a hotel room at the Embassy Suites, Boca Raton, before January 28, 2018 will receive a discounted group hotel rate of $185/night plus tax.

For more information please contact SleuthFest 2018 Co-Chairs Victoria Landis 561-716-3481 or Michael Joy

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Flexible Truth of Saving Grace: Guest Post by Simon Wood

USA TODAY bestselling author, Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He's a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot, an endurance cyclist, an animal rescuer, and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and six cats. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, Deceptive Practices and the Aidy Westlake series. His thriller THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY is in development to be a movie. His latest book is SAVING GRACE. Curious people can learn more at


I hadn't intended to put my heroes, Scott Fleetwood and Tom Sheils, through the fictional wringer for a second time but something cropped up.

When I start a book, I don’t build it around a character or plotline. I’m premise driven. More often than not, that premise is a real world one. TERMINATED was built around the issue of workplace violence. ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN explored corruption in the life insurance industry. It was survivor guilt for THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. And for my latest book, SAVING GRACE, it was the manipulation of the free press.

Now before you go rolling your eyes, it’s not what you think. This has nothing to do with the current fake news claims. I’ve been looking into this issue for a quite some time. The tough thing about writing a book is it takes a long time from concept to final product. Who knew an election cycle would muck things up for me?

My interest dates back ten years when there was a kidnapping of a child in Portugal. Planted stories and media manipulation marred the investigation, which hasn’t been solved even today. The more insidious side to this story was that people profited monetarily from the incident. My writer’s radar became attuned to the issue and I came across more instances of abuse from within and outside the media. I’m sure you’re aware of some instances.

The subject was too enticing to ignore. If I was going to turn to the world of media and evil shenanigans, there were two characters I could turn to—reporter Scott Fleetwood and special agent Tom Sheils of the FBI. They were protagonists of a fan favorite, PAYING THE PIPER. I’d put these guys through hell in PIPER, and it’s that notoriety that gets exploited in SAVING GRACE.

No longer a reporter, Scott Fleetwood is still recovering from the aftermath of tangling with the notorious kidnapper, the Piper, when a new foe emerges from the shadows. The Shepherd announces to the San Francisco Independent that he has snatched a young girl from a vacationing family. The Shepherd has two demands for the safe return of the girl—a cash ransom and for Scott to act as his intermediary between the family and himself. The kidnapping brings in Special Agent Tom Sheils and his team to work the case and watch over Scott. The Shepherd promises the girl’s safety as long as Scott follows the rules of his game. Forced to trail the kidnapper’s twisting lead—and haunted by a previous victim he failed to save—Scott is desperate to keep the past from making a brutal comeback.

Each of the Shepherd’s demands are played out on the world’s stage for everyone to see with Scott as the star of a perverse reality show. As the stakes get upped, Scott realizes he’s a pawn of a much larger scheme.

I won't say how the media is being manipulated in SAVING GRACE. For that you’ll have to read the book. And when you have, come talk to me and I’ll tell you about the facts behind some of the lies. You can learn more about the book here:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bill Moody: R.I.P.

More sad news. Bill Moody, 76, musician and mystery author, passed away on January 14. I haven't seen a formal obituary yet, but saw this on his Facebook page, a post by Piro Patten:

We lost Bill Yesterday. He was late for a gig and the musicians went looking for him. Great way to go. I hope musicians are looking for me when my time comes. WE love you Bill and that wonderful lilting swing that propelled the music so well.

I knew Bill for many years, both as a musician and mystery author. We worked together on several events (the drummer side of his life), and I hosted him at Literary Salons and saw him at several mystery events, most recently at Noir at the Bar. Bill and his group played at Bcon Monterey several years ago. He lived in Sonoma in a converted train car. How cool is that! But that was Bill. I will miss him.

Bill Moody was a mystery author and professional jazz drummer. He was the author of the Evan Horne Mystery series: The Man In Red Square, Czechmate: The Spy Who Played Jazz, Fade to Blue, Shades of Blue, Looking for Chet Baker, Bird Lives! and other novels, as well as a short story collection, Mood Swings.

From his website:
Bill Moody was born in Webb City, Missouri and grew up in Santa Monica, California. A professional jazz drummer, Bill played and/or recorded with Jr. Mance, Maynard Ferguson, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, and Lou Rawls. He lived in Las Vegas for many years as a musician on the Las Vegas Strip, hosted a weekly radio show at KUNV-FM, and taught in the UNLV English Department. He lived in northern California, where he taught creative writing at Sonoma State University, and was active in the Bay Area jazz scene with the Terry Henry Trio and Dick Conte's trio and quartet.

"The connection between playing jazz and writing crime fiction is a strong one for me. A jazz musician begins with the framework or the song — the chords, the structure, the form — but during a solo, he doesn't know what he's going to play or how until he reaches that part of the song. Writing crime fiction for me is a similar process. Working from the basic structure of the crime novel, I then improvise on a premise or motif, if you will, and I'm a fervent advocate of the 'what if' game during the writing process."
-Bill Moody

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin: R.I.P.

Very sad news. I was privileged to meet Ursula K.  Le Guin several times and was even on a panel with her. Sharing the stage with her was awe inspiring and scary. I'm sure I was incoherent. Ursula K. Le Guin was one of my heroes. She accomplished so much.

From the NYT:

Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.
Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several, including “The Left Hand of Darkness” — set on a planet where the customary gender distinctions do not apply — have been in print for almost 50 years. The critic Harold Bloom lauded Ms. Le Guin as “a superbly imaginative creator and major stylist” who “has raised fantasy into high literature for our time.”

In addition to more than 20 novels, she was the author of a dozen books of poetry, more than 100 short stories (collected in multiple volumes), seven collections of essays, 13 books for children and five volumes of translation, including the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu and selected poems by the Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral. She also wrote a guide for writers.
Read More Here

From Locus Magazine:

Le Guin was a towering figure in the field, famed for her fiction and non-fiction alike, with a career in SF that spanned more than 50 years. She was a Hugo Award nominee 23 times and won five, and won six Nebula Awards, with 18 nominations. Other major awards included the World Fantasy Award for life achievement, the Eaton Award for life achievement, and the Pilgrim Award for lifetime contribution to SF and fantasy scholarship. Several of her works have been collected in editions from the prestigious Library of America.

Le Guin began publishing SF in 1962, and wrote numerous major novels of adult and YA SF and fantasy, including The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Lathe of Heaven (1971), The Dispossessed (1974), A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), Orsinian Tales (1976), Always Coming Home (1985), Gifts (2004), and Lavinia (2008). Le Guin was equally adept as a short fiction writer, with countless influential and iconic stories, among them “Vaster than Empires and More Slow” (1971), “The Word for World is Forest” (1972), “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1974), “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight” (1987), “The Matter of Seggri” (1994), and “A Woman’s Liberation” (1995). 

Her fiction collections were numerous and celebrated, among them The Wind’s Twelve Quarters (1975), Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences (1987), A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (1994), Unlocking the Air (1996), The Birthday of the World and Other Stories (2002), Changing Planes (2003), two volumes of The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, and The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin (2016). She also wrote for children, including the Catwings series, and numerous other pictures books, along with poetry, and plays.

Le Guin was unparralled as a critic, SF scholar, thinker, and social commentator. Important works of non-fiction include From Elfland to Poughkeepsie (1973), The Language of the Night (1979), Always Coming Home (1987), Dancing at the End of the World (1989), Steering the Craft (1998), The Wave in the Mind (2004), Words are My Matter (2016), and No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters (2017). She also edited anthologies.

Read More Here

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Barry Award Nominations


Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine announced the Barry Award Nominees. Winners will be announced September 6, 2018 at the St. Petersburg Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies. Congratulations to all!

Best Novel 

THE LATE SHOW, Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, Karen Dionne (Putnam)
EXIT STRATEGY, Steve Hamilton (Putnam)
THE FORCE, Don Winslow (Morrow)
PRUSSIAN BLUE, Philip Kerr (A Marian Wood Book)
MAGPIE MURDERS, Anthony Horowitz (Harper)

Best First Novel 

THE DRY, Jane Harper (Flatiron)
SHE RIDES SHOTGUN, Jordan Harper (Ecco)
THE LOST ONES, Sheena Kamal (Morrow)
THE IRREGULAR, H. P. Lyle (Quercus)
A RISING MAN, Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus)
MY ABSOLUTE DARLING, Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead)

Best Paperback Original 

SAFE FROM HARM, R. J. Bailey (Simon & Schuster UK)
THE DEEP DARK DESCENDING, Allen Eskens (Seventh Street)
HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE, Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
THE DAY I DIED, Lori Rader-Day (Morrow)
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, Kristi Belcamino (CreateSpace)
SUPER CON, James Swain (Thomas & Mercer)

Best Thriller 

GUNMETAL GRAY, Mark Greaney (Berkley)
SPOOK STREET, Mick Herron (Soho)
THE FREEDOM BROKER, K. J. Howe (Quercus)
THE OLD MAN, Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)
UNSUB, Meg Gardiner (Dutton)
TRAP THE DEVIL,  Ben Coes (St. Martin’s)

Brothers and Sisters: What Makes Us Love Them or Loathe Them?: Guest Post by Jane Corry

Jane Corry is the author of the bestselling My Husband's Wife, and Blood Sisters, to be published in the U.S this Spring by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. She has spent time as the writer-in-residence of a high-security prison for men--an experience that helped inspire My Husband's Wife, her bestselling debut thriller. Blood Sisters is her second thriller.


Sibling rivalry is one of those academic-sounding phrases that hides a multitude of sins. But if you've grown up with a brother or sister who is constantly vying for attention and will stop at nothing to get ahead in the parental approval stakes, you'll know how painful this can be.

When I told my little sister (seven years younger and three inches taller) that my new book was going to be called Blood Sisters, she flashed me a suspicious look. “I hope it's not about me!”

It's not. But I couldn't have written it without her. Only siblings know what it's really like to go through life with that extraordinary mix of love, distrust, vulnerability, anger, hate and loyalty.

The funny thing is that these qualities are often mirrored in each other. “Don't be so patronizing,” my sister said to me the other day. What? She's the one who's patronizing me. Isn't she?

When we were growing up, we had little in common, partly because of the age difference. (Rather like my characters in Blood Sisters.) But when our mother died in her fifties, we became closer. Even now, thirty years in, whenever my sister and I have a fall-out, we make up because we know Mummy would want that. Sometimes this means “eating humble pie,” as we English call it. In other words, swallowing our pride.

“There's no way I'm doing that,” declared a friend who fell out with her sister over an inheritance dispute ten years ago and hasn't spoken to her sister since. Apparently money is one of the most common reasons for sibling estrangement, along with arguments over caring for elderly parents and dislike of each other's partners.

Another friend whose parents are both dead has a long-running “friendly feud” with her brother over a much-coveted, valuable collection of silver cigar boxes that was left to both of them. The two are friendly enough to have each other's door keys in case of emergency, however, as soon as one goes away on holiday, the other lets him/herself in to reclaim the boxes. This leads to a heated dispute on the absentee's return. It also caused extreme embarrassment recently for the brother's house-sitter who hadn't been forewarned!

But it's the siblings who grow up without knowing each other who really intrigue me. What a delicious mystery! I particularly love stories about brothers and sisters , separated at birth, who end up living on the same street or working in the same place without knowing. If you put this in a plot, the editor might say it was too much of a coincidence, yet it does happen.

Once, as a journalist, I interviewed a brother and sister who, without knowing they were related, fell in love. The truth only came out when they introduced each other to the rest of the family shortly before the wedding. “We're not giving each other up,” they declared. Although the marriage didn't go ahead, they slipped away quietly and lived a life of seclusion where no one else knew their history. (My interview retained their anonymity.)

But it made me wonder. Why is it that some siblings are as close as gloves while others loathe each other? I recently wrote a piece for a British newspaper on this and interviewed various psychologists. “Often it comes down to parental attitudes,” said one. “Some parents consciously or unconsciously favor one child. This naturally leads to resentment and superiority.”

However, there are also lots of us who try hard to be “fair” to our offspring. Even though my three are grown, they still love to play the Who do you love best game. My answer is that I love them all the same. And it's true--at least in terms of quantity--but I also love them each for different reasons. And there lies another mystery. How is it that siblings can be so different in terms of temperament and looks when they share the same parent? Or do they? Nature has a wicked habit of outing the mysterious truth even without a DNA test!

Then again, my sister and I used to look nothing like each other when we were young. My mother used to call us Snow White (me) and Rose Red (her). I resemble my father and my sister, my mother. Yet as the years have gone by, I find my sister when I glance in the mirror. I'm still blonde and she's still dark but I catch her “look” in my own facial features. Is it possible that it was always there but that I'd chosen to ignore it? Another mystery...

The girls in my new novel Blood Sisters are all connected. Vanessa, Kitty and Alison are bound by ties which cannot easily be dissolved. You won't know the connection immediately--that's part of the mystery. But I promise you one thing: there are plenty of sibling secrets inside...


Friday, January 19, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Muse

Edgar Award Nominations: Mystery Writers of America

Mystery Writers of America announces the Nominees for the 2018 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2017. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 72nd Gala Banquet, April 26, 2018 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

The Dime by Kathleen Kent (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Books)
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (Penguin Random House – The Dial Press)
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (HarperCollins – Ecco)
Dark Chapter by Winnie M. Li (Polis Books)
Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love (Penguin Random House – Crown)
Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy (Macmillan – Flatiron Books)
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (Random House)

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Ragged Lake by Ron Corbett (ECW Press)
Black Fall by Andrew Mayne (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper Paperbacks)
The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Landmark)
Penance by Kanae Minato (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong (Text Publishing)


Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Penguin Random House – Doubleday)
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse (W.W. Norton & Company – Liveright)
The Man From the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill and Rachel McCarthy James (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case that Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca (St. Martin’s Press)
From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women who Created an Icon by Mattias Bostrom (Grove/Atlantic – The Mysterious Press)
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin’s Press)
Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall by Curtis Evans (McFarland Publishing)
Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson (W.W. Norton & Company)
Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes by Michael Sims (Bloomsbury USA)

“Spring Break” – New Haven Noir by John Crowley (Akashic Books)
“Hard to Get” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Jeffery Deaver (Dell Magazines)
“Ace in the Hole” – Montana Noir by Eric Heidle (Akashic Books)
“A Moment of Clarity at the Waffle House” – Atlanta Noir by Kenji Jasper (Akashic Books)
“Chin Yong-Yun Stays at Home” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by S.J. Rozan (Dell Magazines)


Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
Vanished! By James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
The Assassin’s Curse by Kevin Sands (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
NewsPrints by Ru Xu (Scholastic – Graphix)
The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Feiwel & Friends)
Grit by Gillian French (HarperCollins Publishers – HarperTeen)
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster)
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster – Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (HarperCollins Publishers – Balzer + Bray)


“Episode 1” – The Loch, Teleplay by Stephen Brady (Acorn TV)
“Something Happened” – Law and Order: SVU, Teleplay by Michael Chernuchin (NBC Universal/Wolf Entertainment)
“Somebody to Love” – Fargo, Teleplay by Noah Hawley (FX Networks/MGM)
“Gently and the New Age” – George Gently, Teleplay by Robert Murphy (Acorn TV)
“The Blanket Mire” – Vera, Teleplay by Paul Matthew Thompson & Martha Hillier (Acorn TV)

"The Queen of Secrets" - New Haven Noir by Lisa D. Gray (Akashic Books)


Jane Langton
William Link
Peter Lovesey

Kristopher Zgorski, BOLO Books
The Raven Bookstore, Lawrence Kansas
Robert Pépin
* * * * * *

The Vineyard Victims by Ellen Crosby (Minotaur)
You’ll Never Know Dear by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow Paperbacks)
Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink)
The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins – William Morrow Paperbacks)