Thursday, May 31, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Court

BE FAIR TO YOUR MURDERER: Guest Post by Mike Nemeth

Mike Nemeth
Be Fair to Your Murderer

As authors we can be forgiven if, when crafting the ultimate mystery, we focus on plot points, reversals, hidden clues, red herrings and amazing detective techniques and forget that our antagonist/murderer is a flesh-and-bones human being. Too often we create a relatable protagonist in the hopes of building a series of stories around the character, only to shortchange the protagonist’s opponents. To be a respected protagonist, she must have worthy opponents with skills to overcome and motivations that are believable.

We’ve all read the stories in which the only excuse for the murder is that the killer is a psychopath or sociopath driven by mental illness to commit crimes we don’t understand. Although we may be fascinated by the detective work and happy the psychotic killer will pay for her crimes, these stories leave us as limp as day-old salad. TV programs are littered with these cardboard cutout enemies of justice because there isn’t enough time to develop the antagonist’s character. Two-hour-long movies run into the same character development challenges and rely upon our interest in the super heroic protagonist to make the story worth watching. But, an 80,000-word mystery novel can do better. Engrossing antagonists give us a reason to read stories instead of watching them.

I’ve adopted the dictum that there are no evil people, only evil acts committed by perfectly ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The ad line for my novel Defiled (2017, Morgan James Fiction) was: “Don’t look for the monster under your bed; the monster may be in your bed.” Yes, murders are committed by the criminally insane, but those unfortunate people make weak antagonists in mystery novels. Better to leave them for the writers of horror stories.

The perpetrator in my novel, The Undiscovered Country (2018, Morgan James Fiction), is completely sane and motivated to murder by a twisted but understandable logic. The motive to murder, while not necessary for a legal conviction, is necessary for the development of the antagonist’s character. It is also necessary if readers are to believe the story. Starting with motive, we can create a character with a “legend” (spy speak) that would lead to the believable motive. Thanks to Nelson DeMille, we have a handy list of murder motivations he detailed in his novel, The General’s Daughter. They are: profit, revenge, jealousy, to conceal a crime, to avoid humiliation or disgrace, and homicidal mania, i.e. mental illness. With the exception of the last one, these motives provide the building blocks for a character and a set of triggering circumstances around which to craft a mystery story.

What remains is to supply the antagonist with tools and skills to make the story an (almost) fair fight against the protagonist. Like the murder motive, the antagonist’s skills must be born of that legend or backstory that makes the antagonist come to life. The hard work is creating that backstory. Once it is in place, the fun of plotting the mystery becomes more rewarding for author and reader.

My guiding principle is: Be fair to the murderer. Make her a robust character with understandable flaws, believable intentions and a touch of appealing humanity. Then, find her and convict her!

MIKE NEMETH is a novelist, blogger, former AAU basketball coach and retired information technology executive. The Undiscovered Country is the sequel to Defiled, a crime fiction thriller, which became a bestselling book on Amazon. Mike’s other works include 128 Billion to 1, a nonfiction examination of March Madness, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. Mike lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Angie, and their rescue dog, Sophie.

KING RIVER LIFE'S NEW ADVENTURE: Guest Post by Lorie Lewis Ham

King River's Life's New Adventure

Kings River Life Magazine celebrated its 8th anniversary on May 29 of this year and what a journey it has been! We have expanded above and beyond what I ever would have imagined as far as what we cover, and the fact that our readership now is all over the world. In the beginning it was only local articles, but that changed quickly. Now half of each issue is filled with mystery fun-book reviews and giveaways, mystery short stories, TV reviews, author interviews and more! We also cover animal rescues, theatre, food, travel and more. You can still find us at, but we have also added a brand new blog, KRL News & Reviews at

2018 brings something brand new to Kings River Life -- a mystery podcast! The podcast, entitled Mysteryrat's Maze Mystery Podcast (after the name of our mystery section) will post its first episode on June 5! It features a mystery short story written by mystery author Nancy Cole Silverman. Each will be read by local actors from the Fresno area where we are based. We will be posting at least one episode a month featuring mystery short stories, and some mystery novel first chapters! Already lined up are short stories by Dennis Palumbo, Joan Leotta, Lesley A. Diehl, and Neil Plakcy. Some of the authors who have sent us first chapters are Nancy West, Kathleen Kaska, and Jeri Westerson (we will have the first chapter from her brand new Crispin Guest book that comes out in August).

I first got the idea to start a podcast early in 2017, but even now it is still growing and evolving. It has taken a lot of work and planning but I am very excited about this new adventure and I hope all our listeners will be too! Podcasts have become very popular and they are a great new thing to listen to on your commute, or just on your phone or computer at home. My hope is to provide a combination of an audio book feel, with almost more of an old mystery drama feel as the actors do act out the stories. My ultimate goal is to possibly produce a full on mystery drama in another year or two with a group of actors, sounds effects and all.

For the writers out there interested in submitting a short story or chapter for consideration-right now we are mostly looking for around 2000 words but that may continue to change so don't be afraid to ask if you have something shorter or longer. We are open to cozy and more traditional mysteries, and maybe a bit of noir as well. We are not interested in anything too graphic though as far as language and sexual content. You can send your submissions to krlmagazine@gmail[dot]com. Reprints are okay, and for chapters make certain you have the okay of your publisher.

You can find our podcast at and hopefully by now on iTunes (if you don't find it there yet keep checking). If you would like to sign up for our monthly podcast newsletter you can do so here: Our plan with the newsletter is to not only keep you up to date on each episode but we also hope to have some special contests only for our newsletter, an overview of what has gone up in KRL the past month, and possibly over time some extra content.

So I hope you all join us on this new and exciting journey! And as our announcer says at the end of each podcast, we wish you a life full of mystery!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Feline Support Center

Lise McClendon Literary Salon: June 6

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for an evening Literary Salon in Berkeley (CA) with mystery author Lise McClendon.

When: Wednesday, June 6, 1 p.m. (note the early time)

Where: Berkeley. RSVP by making comment below with your email
Lise McClendon is the author of five books in the Bennett Sisters mystery series. The series begins with Blackbird Fly; the latest is The Frenchman. That novel spawned a bonus novella ‘written by’ the main character, Merle Bennett, a gothic mystery called Odette and the Great Fear. The next installment releases this summer. She wrote two mystery series, the Alix Thorssen and Dorie Lennox mysteries set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and World War II-era Kansas City (The Bluejay Shaman; One O’clock Jump). She also writes stand-alones as Rory Tate. Jump Cut is a romantic thriller set in Seattle; PLAN X is a Shakespearean thriller featuring a Montana policewoman.

Her short story, Forked Tongue, is featured in the 2017 anthology, The Obama Inheritance, edited by Gary Phillips. In 2015 she released (as Thalia Filbert) the darkly comic culinary thriller she wrote with four other well-seasoned crime writers, Beat Slay Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge.

Traditionally published for many years, Lise now runs a small press with her fellow author, Katy Munger: Thalia Press. A former national board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in wilds of Montana near Yellowstone National Park and online at

Upcoming Literary Salons (more to come)

June 13: Terry Shames & James Ziskin
July 12: Cara Black
September 26: Lisa Brackmann

Cartoon of the Day: Library Book

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Janet Dawson's Jeri Howard Anthology Free May 29-30

Janet Dawson announced the publication of an e-anthology featuring the first nine books in the Jeri Howard series. The ebook will be free on Amazon today Tuesday, May 29 and Wednesday, May 30! Head on over to this Amazon link on today and Wednesday, and get your copy!

Fans of hard-boiled women sleuths and detective novels with a twist will love P.I. Jeri Howard. If you like Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, T.R. Ragan, Laura Lippman, Sara Paretsky, and Alison Gaylin, this intelligent, action-packed anthology is a mega bargain!

A puzzling missing persons case--a wife who disappears with the grocery money--keeps winding backward, revealing brand new secrets as fast as ancient skeletons can fall out of closets.

The grisly murder of a sedate, widowed history professor, is written off as a random street crime until a woman turns up at his university, claiming to be his widow and demanding access to his "papers."

Out of loyalty to a former client, Jeri takes on a nasty divorce case. The soon-to-be ex-husband winds up with a bullet in his back, and the prime suspect is Jeri's client.

Jeri is looking to catch a respite from the PI life to relax and visit family in lovely Monterey on the California coast. Now, what's the worst thing that could happen on a PI's vacation? A dead body on the beach, most likely.

Is a Jane Doe uncovered at a construction site the body of her client's long-lost daughter Maureen? If so, what's become of Maureen's two-year-old daughter?

A UC Berkeley undergrad fears the worst when her shared house receives multiple threats from an unknown antagonizer.

A seventeen-year-old Jeri tracked down when she swiped her mother's credit card and took off for Paris is now a "person of interest" in a murder case--and, once again, in the wind.

Jeri's newest client was about to blow the whistle on a large food manufacturer just before he took a header out his fifth-floor apartment window--but he hadn't yet told her what it was about. Next step: Undercover in the corporate office.

Set in the fascinating and forbidden racetrack backside. Dawson's complex plot is a pleasure--one dead jockey, then two dead jockeys, three exotic poisons, and several possible payoffs.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

SHAMUS AWARD NOMINEES: Private Eye Writers of America

Shamus Award Nominees: Private Eye Writers of America
For works published in 2017.
Winners will be announced at the PWA Banquet at Bouchercon.  Congratulations to all!

Best Original Private Eye Paperback 
Play a Cold Hand by Terence Faherty
The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan
Dames Fight Harder by M. Ruth Myers
The Painted Gun by Bradley Spinelli
Lights Out Summer by Rich Zahradnik

Best First Private Eye Novel 
Under Water by Casey Barrett
A Negro and an Ofay by Danny Gardner
Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman
August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

Best P.I. Short Story
Eric Beetner, “Out of Business,” in Down & Out, The Magazine Vol 1/ Issue 1, edited by Rick Ollerman
Reed Farrel Coleman, “Breakage,” in Down & Out, The Magazine Vol 1/ Issue 1, edited by Rick Ollerman
Brendan Dubois, “Random,” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb
Robert S. Levinson, “Rosalie Marx is Missing,” in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, May/June
Paul D. Marks, “Windward,” in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks

Best Private Eye Novel 
Dark Water by Parker Bilal
Blood Truth by Matt Coyle
Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker
Monument Road by Michael Wiley

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Shortlist

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Shortlist. The prize was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction and is open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018.

2018 marks the 14th year of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. The winner will be announced at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, hosted in Harrogate each July. 

The shortlist of six titles was announced today. It will be followed by a six-week promotion in libraries and in WHSmith stores nationwide. The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on 19 July at the opening night of the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. They’ll receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier. The awards night will also feature the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.


Spook Street, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
Insidious Intent, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
The Long Drop, by Denise Mina (Harvill Secker)
A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
The Intrusions, by Stav Sherez (Faber and Faber)
Persons Unknown, by Susie Steiner (The Borough Press)


Hope you're having a good Memorial Day Weekend. Did you know that 53% of Americans will be barbecuing this weekend? Will you?

I posted my updated Memorial Day Crime Fiction list a few days ago, so I thought I'd update my Barbecue Mysteries list, too. So many ways one can murder someone at a barbecue, from the sauce to the skewers to the grill, not to mention the tiny wires on the barbecue brush (true crime!). Here's an updated short list of Barbecue Mysteries. Let me know if I've forgotten any titles!

The illustration on the right, a cover from a Donald Duck comic book, is a bit odd, don't you think? Had to post, though.

Barbecue Mysteries

Delicious and Suspicious, Hickory Smoked Homicide, Finger Lickin' Dead, Rubbed Out by Riley Adams  (Elizabeth Craig Spann) - The Memphis BBQ Mystery Series
Bad Move by Linwood Barclay
Murder, Basted and Barbecued by Constance Turner
Murder Well-Done by Claudia Bishop
Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron
Topped Chef by Lucy Burdette
Several of the recent Dan Rhodes books by Bill Crider
Murder at the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival by Gene Davis
The Grilling Season by Diane Mott Davidson
Memphis Ribs by Gerald Duff
Murder Can Singe Your Old Flame by Selma Eichler
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
The Politics of Barbecue by Blake Fontenay
Grilling the Subject by Daryl Wood Gerber
Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets by M.E. Harmon
Cotton Comes to Harlem by Chester Himes
The Big Barbecue by Dorothy B. Hughes
Close to Home by Cara Hunter
The Sheriff and..  (series) by D. R. Meredith
Hush My Mouth by Cathy Pickens
Say You're Sorry by Michael Robotham
The King is Dead by Sarah Shankman
Stiffs and Swine by J.B. Stanley
Revenge of the Barbecue Queens by Lou Jane Temple
Murder at the Barbecue by Liz Turner
Barbecue by A. E.H. Veenman
Death on a Platter by Elaine Viets

Short Stories: "Gored" by Bill Crider in Murder Most Delicious
Young Readers: The Barbecue Thief by Starike

Want a little chocolate on the barbie this weekend? 
Check out recipes on my other blog:

S'mores on the Grill  
Savory Chocolate Barbecue Sauces
Chocolate Ancho Chile Rub
Cocoa Spiced Salmon Rub 
Scharffen Berger Cacao Nib Rub for Tri Tip

Thursday, May 24, 2018


2018 Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing Shortlists

The Annual Arthur Ellis Awards by Crime Writers of Canada recognizes the best in mystery, crime, and suspense writing in fiction and non-fiction by Canadian writers. Winners were announced tonight at the Arthur Ellis Awards Gala in Toronto. Congratulations to all!

Sleeping in the Ground, by Peter Robinson, publisher McClelland & Stewart

BEST FIRST CRIME NOVEL sponsored by Rakuten Kobo

Full Curl, by Dave Butler, publisher Dundurn Press

BEST CRIME NOVELLA – The Lou Allin Memorial Award

How Lon Pruitt Was Found Murdered in an Open Field with No Footprints Around, by Mike Culpepper, published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, by Dell


The Outlier, by Catherine Astolfo, published in 13 Claws by Carrick Publishing


The Whisky King, by Trevor Cole, publisher HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.


Chase - Get Ready to Run, by Linwood Barclay, publisher Penguin Random House Puffin Canada


Les Tricoteuses, by Marie Saur, publisher Héliotrope Noir


Destruction in Paradise by Dianne Scott

The Crime Writers of Canada Grand Master Award for 2018 was presented to Gail Bowen
Gail Bowen is being recognized by Crime Writers of Canada for her long and illustrious career as a crime fiction author. She has almost 20 books in her long running Joanne Kilbourn series, several of which were either nominated for or received awards, including the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel in 1994, for A Colder Kind of Death. She has also written four Rapid Reads novellas and several plays. She is well established in Canada, highly respected in the writing community and much sought after by readers. She is frequently a guest at literary events. Several of her Joanne Kilbourn books were turned into a TV series.

About Crime Writers of Canada                            
Crime Writers of Canada was founded in 1982 as a professional organization designed to raise the profile of Canadian crime writers. Our members include authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and literary agents as well as many developing authors. 


Memorial Day aka Decoration Day is a day of remembrance of those men and women who who fell protecting us, of those who didn't come home. Many people go to cemeteries and memorials on the last Monday in May, and there's a tradition to fly the flag at half mast. Memorial Day in the U.S. is part of a three day holiday weekend. Many think of this weekend as the beginning of Summer, a time for Barbecues, the Beach, the Cabin, and S'mores.

But in memory of all who served their country and didn't come back, here's an updated list of Mysteries set during Memorial Day Weekend. Let me know if I've forgotten any titles. You may also want to check out my Veterans Day Mystery List.

Memorial Day Mysteries

Death is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons
Last Man Standing by David Baldacci
The Twenty Three by Linwood Barclay
Treble at the Jam Fest by Leslie Budewitz
The Decoration Memorial Day War by David H. Brown
Memorial Day by Sandra Thompson Brown and Duane Brown
Flowers for Bill O'Reilly: Memorial Day by Max Allan Collins
Absolute Certainty by Rose Connors
One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer Fleming (not technically Memorial day, but it fits the theme)
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
Memorial Day by Harry Shannon
Beside Still Waters by Debbie Viguie
Who Killed the Neanderthal by Cheryl Zelenka

Children's Mysteries:

Trixie Belden: The Mystery of the Memorial Day Fire by Kahryn Kenny
Sam's Top Secret Journal: Memorial Day by Sean Adelman, Siri Bardarson, Dianna Border & Andrea Hurst

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ROTORUA NOIR: New Zealand's First Crime Writing Festival

New Zealand's First Crime Writing Festival: Rotorua Noir

January 26th and 27th 2019 
THE SHAMBLES THEATRE, 2-8 Amohau Street, Rotorua, New Zealand

Rotorua Noir is the first crime writing festival to be held in New Zealand and will coincide with the tenth year of the prestigious Ngaio Marsh Award. It will bring together for the first time the cream of the New Zealand crime writing scene along with some serious talent from overseas. It is time to celebrate New Zealand crime writing and the people behind the books we all love so much.

The festival will be an outstanding opportunity for members of the public to meet their favorite authors and hear what goes on during the creative process that takes an idea from its inception to the page.

There will be over three days of creative writing workshops for aspiring authors, two days of panel discussions featuring crime writers from as far away as Scotland, Iceland and Finland as well as some fantastic one-on-one interviews. ​  There will be a short story competition for local writers to show us what they can do with the winner getting to read from their work at the festival.

And remember, it's Summer in January in New Zealand!

Read More Here.

Monday, May 21, 2018


The Longlist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel: The Ngaio Marsh Award represents the very best in Kiwi Crime.

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)
Baby by Annaleese Jochems (Vitoria University Press)
See You In September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
The Lost Taonga by Edmund Bohan (Lucano)
The Easter Make Believers by Finn Bell
The Only Secret Left To Keep by Katherine Hayton
Tess by Kirsten McDougall (Victoria University Press)
The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackell (Mary Egan Publishing)
A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

The finalists for both the Best Novel and Best First Novel categories will be announced in July. The finalists will be celebrated and the winners announced at WORD Christchurch (August 29-September 2). 

Craig Sisterson, organizer of the Ngaio Marsh Award, is a lapsed Lawyer, and major Crime Fiction Fan and Writer who writes for magazines and newspapers in several countries. He also blogs at Crime Watch.

WRITING RETREATS...and WRITING THE RETREAT: Guest post by Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards:
Writing Retreats…and Writing The Retreat 

Recently I spent a week at a writers’ retreat in the south of France to start work on my fifteenth novel. The previous fourteen, half a dozen of which were co-authored, were written at desks, dining room tables, in cafés, on trains or on the couch in my living room (sometimes while supervising my small children). I quite often have a dog gazing at me while I work, asking to be taken for a walk, or a cat trying to pad across the keyboard. So having the space and time to concentrate fully on my new book, in beautiful surroundings, while the lovely people who run the retreat prepared all the food and supplied refreshments, was a treat.

It also proved to be extremely productive. I wrote 21,000 words in five days, a personal record, and I came home to my desk – and children, dog and cats – having made a great start to my novel. It’s now four weeks later and I’ve just hit the 50,000 word mark. I’ve slowed down, partly because I had a new novel out, but also because of the aforementioned pets and kids.

There were a number of other writers at the retreat, including several who were just starting out, working on their first books. One question they kept asking us more experienced writers was ‘How do you plan your books? Do you know exactly what’s going to happen before you start?’ Each author gave a different answer – we all work differently – but as it’s one of the questions I get asked most (second only to ‘Have any of your books been made into movies?’) I thought it might be interesting to explain how I do it. I’m going to use the novel I just mentioned, The Retreat – coincidentally, set at a writers’retreat, with a missing child and various creepy goings on – as a case study.

The Retreat started with a vision: a couple were walking beside a lake on a winter’s day, with a young girl ahead of them. The girl vanishes into a copse and when her parents catch up, she’s gone. Her coat is floating in the water. But I knew that when the police searched the lake, no body would be found.

I spent some time thinking about what was happening in this scene and whether a novel could grow from it. I often have separate ideas floating about in my head and try to fit them together. I had long wanted to write something where an author was the central character, even though publishers usually tell us not to do it. Still, if it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s definitely good enough for me, and I thought a writer’s retreat would make a great setting for an atmospheric mystery.

I soon had enough of a basic idea to write a one-page outline to show my agent and publisher. This outline contained the set-up – young girl vanishes, apparently drowned, her mother opens a retreat and a writer helps her investigate – along with a couple of other scenes I’d imagined. By this point, the lake had turned into a river and the coat became a soft toy. And the rest of the outline was extremely vague. I had no idea where the girl was, what had happened to her or how my characters were going to find out. I didn’t know who else would be staying at the retreat, what spooky things were going to happen or even the precise setting. But I had enough to make a start, to get the main characters down on paper, and soon the retreat itself, the town and the woods that surrounded it, came into focus.

Photo: Mark Earthy
When I was four or five chapters in, I watched a documentary about urban legends. I don’t want to reveal what it was for fear of spoilers, but it sparked something in my mind and suddenly, in a flash, I knew what had happened to the little girl. I knew my theme; what I was trying to say with this story. It was an exciting moment.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I knew everything that was going to happen. Far from it. All the fine details of the plot still needed to be worked out. Characters had to be created. But this is the part I most enjoy: figuring it out as I go along. I wrote The Retreat fast, forcing myself to stay at my computer every day until I’d written 3000 words. I had some days off – because of life, kids, etc – and I never write weekends but the first draft was done in eight weeks.

After that I went to Australia for two weeks. I started reading through the book on the plane, making notes on my iPad (I have an Apple Pencil which allows me to scrawl on the document as if it were a printed document) and when I got home I fixed most of the problems, rewriting and editing, which took another six weeks. Some parts of the story only came to me during those edits. But four months after I’d started, the book was done and ready to go to my editor.

Some of my writer friends tell me I should plan my books before I start. They swear by five-act structures and index cards pinned to cork boards. But I can’t do that. I have to be there, in the heat of writing, seeing the world through my characters’ eyes before the story tells itself to me. And then I pass that story on to my readers who, so far, have made it my best-reviewed book. My process works for me and I’m not going to change it. I am, though, hoping to start each of my books while at a writer’s retreat. I can work with the chaos of my life swirling around me, but it’s even better when I don’t have to.

The Retreat is out now and available from Amazon 

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers and has topped the UK bestseller lists seven times, selling over 2 million books. His novels include Follow You Home and The Magpies. He lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, three children, two cats and a golden retriever.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


The 10th anniversary of CrimeFest this year is in full swing, and the CrimeFest Awards were just announced at the Banquet this evening in Bristol, England.  CrimeFest 'feted' close to 500 attendees, including more than 150 authors, agents, publishers and crime fans from across the globe, who participated in four days of over 60 speaking events and panel discussions. Thanks to Sue Trowbridge for sending me the winning list! Congratulations to all!


Best Unabridged Crime Audiobook:
J.P. Delaney, The Girl Before, (Quercus), read by Emilia Fox, Finty Williams & Lise Aagaard Knudsen

Michael Connelly, The Late Show (Orion)

Mick Herron, Spook Street (John Murray)

Mike Ripley, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (HarperCollins)

Helena Duggan, A Place Called Perfect (Usborne Publishing)

Patrice Lawrence, Indigo Donut (Hodder Children's Books)

Petrona Award Winner: Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year

The 018 Petrona Award for Best Translated Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year goes to:

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles (Simon & Schuster; Sweden)

The winning title was just announced at CrimeFest in Bristol. The winning author and the translator of the winning titles will both receive a cash prize and the winning author will receive a full pass and guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2019.

Runners Up:

What My Body Remembers, by Agnete Friis,
translated by Lindy Falk van Rooyen (Soho Press; Denmark)
After the Fire, by Henning Mankell,
translated by Marlaine Delargy (Vintage/Harvill Secker; Sweden)
The Darkest Day, by Håkan Nesser,
translated by Sarah Death (Pan Macmillan/Mantle; Sweden)
The White City, by Karolina Ramqvist,
translated by Saskia Vogel (Atlantic Books/Grove Press; Sweden)
The Man Who Died, by Antti Tuomainen,
translated by David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

HT: Sue Trowbridge

Cartoon of the Day: Two Kinds of People

Two Kinds of People. What kind are you?

CWA Dagger Longlists

The CWA (Crime Writers Association) Dagger Longlists were announced Friday night at CrimeFest. Congratulations to all! Lots of great reading!

CWA Gold Dagger: 
• Head Case, by Ross Armstrong (HQ)
• The Liar, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
• London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
• Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane (Little, Brown)
• Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (Faber and Faber)
• Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
• You Don’t Know Me, by Imran Mahmood (Michael Joseph)
• A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
• The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (Raven)
• Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:
• The Spy’s Daughter, by Adam Brookes (Sphere)
• The Switch, by Joseph Finder (Head of Zeus)
• London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
• If I Die Before I Wake, by Emily Koch (Harvill Secker)
• Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
• An Act of Silence, by Colette McBeth (Wildfire)
• A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
• Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips (Doubleday)
• The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor (Michael Joseph)
• The Force, by Don Winslow (HarperFiction)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: 
• Gravesend, by William Boyle (No Exit Press)
• IQ, by Joe Ide (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
• Soho Dead, by Greg Keen (Thomas & Mercer)
• Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka (Picador)
• Lola, by Melissa Scrivner Love (Point Blank)
• East of Hounslow, by Khurrum Rahman (HQ)
• Ravenhill, by John Steele (Silvertail)
• My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (Fourth Estate)
• The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (Raven)
• Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)

 CWA International Dagger: 
• Zen and the Art of Murder, by Oliver Bottini, translated by Jamie Bulloch (MacLehose Press)
• The Shadow District, by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker)
• Three Days and a Life, by Pierre Lemaitre, translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press)
• After the Fire, by Henning Mankell, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Harvill Secker)
• The Frozen Woman, by Jon Michelet, translated by Don Bartlett (No Exit Press)
• Offering to the Storm, by Dolores Redondo, translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garzía (HarperCollins)
• Three Minutes, by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström, translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel (Quercus/Riverrun)
• Snare, by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, translated by Quentin Bates (Orenda)
• The Accordionist, by Fred Vargas, translated by Sian Reynolds (Harvill Secker)
• Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello, translated by Alex Valente (Two Roads/John Murray) CWA

Historical Dagger: 
• A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
• Death in the Stars, by Frances Brody (Piatkus)
• Fire, by L.C. Tyler (Constable)
• Lightning Men, by Thomas Mullen (Little, Brown)
• Merlin at War, by Mark Ellis (London Wall)
• Money in the Morgue, by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy (HarperCollins)
• Nine Lessons, by Nicola Upson (Faber and Faber)
• Nucleus, by Rory Clements (Zaffre)
• Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
• The Mitford Murders, by Jessica Fellows (Sphere)

CWA Short Story Dagger: 
• “The Corpse on the Copse,” by Sharon Bolton (from Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #2: The Body, edited by Susan Opie; Killer Women)
• “The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle,” by Chris Brookmyre (from Bloody Scotland; Historic Environment Scotland)
• “Too Much Time,” by Lee Child (from No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories, by Lee Child; Bantam Press)
• “Second Son,” by Lee Child (from No Middle Name)
• “Authentic Carbon Steel Forged,” by Elizabeth Haynes (from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women, edited by Sophie Hannah; Head of Zeus)
• “Smoking Kills,” by Erin Kelly (from Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #2)
• “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit,” by Denise Mina (from Bloody Scotland)
• “Accounting for Murder,” by Christine Poulson (from Mystery Tour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories, edited by Martin Edwards; Orenda)
• “Faking a Murder,” by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child (from Match Up, edited by Lee Child; Sphere)
• “Trouble Is a Lonesome Town,” by Cathi Unsworth (from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women)

CWA Dagger in the Library: (Selected by nominations from libraries)
• Simon Beckett
• Martina Cole
• Martin Edwards
• Nicci French
• Sophie Hannah
• Simon Kernick
• Edward Marston
• Peter May
• Rebecca Tope

Shortlists in all of these categories will be announced in July. Winners will be announced during the CWA Dagger Awards dinner in London on Thursday, October 25.

HT: J. Kingston Pierce, The Rap Sheet

Friday, May 18, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Local Bookstore

From Pearls Before Swine...

HISTORY IS MYSTERY: Guest Post by Victoria Thompson


The twenty-first book in my Gaslight Mystery Series, Murder on Union Square, came out on May 1. When I started the series back in 1999, I never dreamed it would go on so long, and I have my faithful fans to thank for that. They apparently love revisiting turn-of-the-century New York as much as I do. Sometimes a fan will tell me how much they like the series and then add, “I don’t know why I like it so much. I hated history in school!”

Because didn’t we all hate history in school? Who enjoys memorizing dates and the names of kings and dry facts about wars and treaties and stuff? Nobody does, but don’t we all love a good, juicy piece of gossip? Learning about the Reformation sounds really dull until you know that King Henry VIII split England off from the Roman Catholic Church because he wanted to divorce his aging wife and marry his hot, young girlfriend!

I first became really interested in history when I was in Elementary School and picked up a book called Queen Elizabeth and the Spanish Armada at the school library. I probably chose it because of the picture of Queen Elizabeth on the cover and because it’s about a queen instead of a king. I probably also thought an Armada was some kind of a ball. Getting to the part about the Spanish Armada (which was a bunch of ships and not a ball at all and which fought the British navy in a battle I never really understood) took a long time, though. The author spent the first half of the book explaining Henry VIII and his six wives and how his many marriages eventually resulted in King Edward, Queen Mary and finally Elizabeth, a new religion and a war with Spain. Talk about gossip! This story is loaded with it, along with jealousy, betrayal, and several beheadings. I didn’t even mind the part about the naval battle. If this was history, I was hooked!

I have been hooked ever since. I still hate memorizing dates and battles and treaties, but I love learning the story behind the dates and battles and treaties. Those are stories about real people doing things real people do that have real consequences. Kings and Queens aren’t very different from the rest of us except that lots more people care if they lie or betray their values or are unfaithful to their spouses. And everyone loves hearing a story that makes them say, in astonishment, “I didn’t know that!”

So this is why I love writing historical fiction. Most people cringe when they hear the word research, but the research is the best part of my job. I admit I skim a lot of it. I’m still not interested in the dates or the battles, but I love finding that tidbit that makes me say, “I didn’t know that!” Because I figure if I didn’t know it, you probably didn’t either, and you’re going to be just as excited as I was to learn about it. So that’s what goes in my books—all the good, astonishing stuff we didn’t know because history class was too full of dates and stuff.

Murder on Union Square takes place in 1899. Frank and Sarah Malloy are trying to adopt the little girl Sarah rescued from a mission, but they run into a snag. They need permission from a man they have no reason to trust, and when he turns up dead, Frank finds himself accused of his murder. The victim was an actor, and I found out some very interesting things about the theater in turn of the century New York. I might have called this book Murder in Times Square, except Times Square didn’t yet exist in 1899. I might have called it Murder on Broadway, too, but Broadway wasn’t yet lined with theaters. Have you said, “I didn’t know that!” yet? I hope you’ll say it a lot as you read Murder on Union Square (which was the heart of the theater district in 1899—bet you didn’t know that!).

And I promise you won’t have to memorize a single date.


Victoria Thompson is the bestselling author of the Edgar ® and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series and the new Counterfeit Lady Series. Her latest books are Murder on Union Square and City of Lies, both from Berkley. She currently teaches in the Master’s Degree program for writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Finalists for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Finalists for the eighth annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction: The prize was authorized by the late Harper Lee, and established in 2011 by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction Finalists

Exposed, by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Press)
Proof, by C.E. Tobisman (Thomas & Mercer)
Testimony, by Scott Turow (Grand Central)

The award ceremony will take place on September 1 during the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

HT: J. Kingston Pierce, The Rap Sheet

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Writing


Four Authors Who Know their Place 

The popular adage has it that it is not the destination that is important, but the journey. A look at mystery novels, however, might suggest it’s the places through which that journey passes that make all the difference. Mystery writers know that to lose control of their characters can be catastrophic; interesting perhaps, but catastrophic nevertheless. The same is true of their plot; except in this case, it’s not even interesting, just, well, catastrophic. But settings are the one element of a mystery story a writer may allow a little free rein; to become undercoat or highlight, background or frame. Settings are where writers get to indulge themselves, too. And the best ones do.

In The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radliffe allows her settings to assume a central role. Through a chiaroscuro interplay of light and darkness descriptions emerge of classical landscapes with more moods than a troubled teenager. Omniscient and brooding, these settings are also laden with symbolism, tying the novel to contemporary theories of painting, transporting readers effortlessly between the worlds of literature and art.

Charles Dickens also revels in his settings, and again uses them to wonderful effect. Here, though, the goal is not to glide between disciplines, but to overwhelm the senses. A journey through a Dickensian city, be it Paris, London, or the fictional Cloisterham of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is to experience olfactory overload. The alleyways echo with street vendors’ calls, the gritty, coal-laden air settles on the skin, the sweetly rancid smell of rotting vegetables fills the nostrils. For Dickens, a setting is not merely a place to set a novel; it vies to become a character in its own right.

Both Radcliffe’s classical landscapes and Dickens’s Victorian cities would have been familiar to their readers, but setting in contemporary works often serves to introduce a reader to an unfamiliar world. But this doesn’t mean it can’t serve another purpose. Or several of them. In A Cold-Blooded Business, author Dana Stabenow describes Alaska’s North Slope in a few skilfully-crafted sentences that manage to cover six hundred square mile stretch of terrain, five thousand feet of geologic deposits and an overview of the local flora and fauna. Setting as geography, history and ecology, all in a couple of paragraphs. And then, there is the Gabarone of Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Here, the setting provides a gentle, lilting rhythm against which equally gentle dramas play out. The settings here are not developed in any great detail, but they seem to exist as they do in real life, hovering unnoticed in the background until a character make a specific point of visiting them; the balcony of the President Hotel, for example, where Mma Ramotswe sometimes takes her tea.

Each setting plays its part in a mystery, but there is for writers perhaps more freedom to explore the possibilities than with any other element of the story. Writers are often asked if they have advice for those new to the craft. Mine would be simple. Keep control of your characters, and even firmer control of your plot. But when it comes to your settings, be content to let them lead you where they will.

Steve Burrows is the author of The Birder Murder Mystery Series A SHIMMER OF HUMMINGBIRDS is the latest instalment, out in the US now. 

Audubon marks release of U.S. Birder Murder editions with prize giveaway.
The first four Birder Murders – with their edgy new covers – are now available in the U.S, and the Audubon Society is marking their arrival with a prize giveaway of five copies of A Shimmer of Hummingbirds,. To enter, just visit…/win-copy-murder-mystery….and follow the directions. The contest is open until May 21. Good luck.