Saturday, September 21, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: Questions for the Author

From the so observant Tom Gauld:

Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize Winners

The Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival (September 20-22, 2019) announced the winners of the McIlvanney Prizes. 

McIlvanney Prize

A Treachery of Spies, by Manda Scott (Transworld)

McIlvanney Debut Prize

 All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew (Hodder)

These annual awards recognize “excellence in Scottish crime writing,” are named in honor of William McIlvanney, author of the novel Laidlaw.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: Second Opinion

COPPER AND GOLDIE: 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i: Guest post by Rosemary & Larry Mild

I see you’ve just opened a copy of Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i. Now, my dear reader, sit back and fasten your seat belt. Just imagine you’re being transported across the Pacific Ocean to the most isolated place on earth, the Hawaiian islands. To some it is called paradise, to others it is a former kingdom—rich in local culture, and yet to others, it is the melting pot of the Pacific. But like the rest of the U.S., the fiftieth state has its dark side too, a fertile place that unveils mystery and suspense fodder for writers like coauthors Rosemary and Larry Mild who now call Hawaii their home.

You find yourself on the island of Oahu, walking along the sidewalks of Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. A cab pulls up to the curb—a classic yellow Checker Cab, and the driver is a smiling, handsome Hawaiian. You slide into the back seat and discover there’s another smiling face staring right back at you: a beautiful golden retriever harnessed in the shotgun seat right alongside the broad-shouldered man up front.

“What’s her name?” you ask.

“Goldie,” he replies. Goldie turns her head and gives you her best doggie grin. You can hear her tail thumping against the vinyl seat back.

“Where to?” the driver asks.

You tell him you want to see the sights of Oahu, and he tells you his Circle Island price. You agree, and he whisks you down Kalakaua Avenue to its end. Skirting the base of Diamond Head, the cab heads for the main highway, past Koko Head Crater toward Blow Hole, a natural water spout on the east end. Then it’s up the Pali highway to the Pali cliffs lookout for a panorama of the island’s windward side. On to the Valley of the Temples, through the pineapple and cane fields, to the leeward side again to Pearl Harbor and Punch Bowl—the National Cemetery of the Pacific and its mosaic panels depicting the wars in the Pacific.

At some point in the trip you become curious and ask him how he came to be a cabbie. He tells you his name is Sam Nahoe, and he used to be one of Honolulu’s Finest, a homicide detective in the Honolulu Police Department (HPD).

“Used to be?” you question.

“Yeah, I took one in the spine, so now I’m medically retired. Driving a taxi is about all I can do these days. I walk with Cane and Able, no, not the biblical spellings.” He points to two canes tied to the dashboard. “It even ended my marriage. I only get to see my little girl, Peggy, every Sunday.”

“How old is Peggy?” you ask.

“She’s thirteen now, but she was only nine when I got shot. Our separation was hard on her. She’s pretty clever—takes after her mom, Kianah—the spittin’ image of my ex-wife too.”

“I can see in the rear-view mirror that you light up when you talk about your family. Is there any chance you’ll get back together?"

“There’s always a chance, but not any time soon. We’re on good terms—now. Nothing like the nasty times I created when I first learned of my forced retirement. There was no living with me.“Did you grow up in Hawaii?

“Sure did,” he replies. “We had some rough times growing up. My sister and brother and I had to go to live with our grandparents until I was old enough to earn a living for myself.”

“What happened to your parents?”

“That’s kind of personal,” he replies.

“Sorry! Are your siblings still in the islands?

“No, they’ve both passed.”

 “Is that a PI license I see on your dashboard?”

“Had to get it after Goldie and I ran into some tough situations a while back.”

“Tough situations?” you repeat.

“You know, bank robbers, kidnappers, burglars, vengeful wives, killers, and the like. There are thirteen complete and satisfying mysteries I could tell you about, but I won’t spoil them for you just now. And Goldie here helped me solve them. I trained her to do all sorts of tricks to catch those lowlifes.”

“How do you manage to chase crooks when you have to use those canes to get around?”

“That’s where Goldie comes in handy. Mostly, I use my head to figure things out. And I still have some excellent connections at HPD headquarters.”

Arriving at your final destination, you lean over Goldie to settle with Sam and get a surprise lick on your left cheek. As you stand back and watch the cab disappear into infinity, you can still see the palm trees sway in the salty breeze. Suddenly you realize the only way you’re going to learn more is to read the book about your newfound friends. 

ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD are cheerful partners in coauthoring mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Larry conjures up plots and writes first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents. They are active members of Sisters in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; Hawaii Fiction Writers; and the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Their popular Hawaii novel, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also, the Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i. 

Visit them at

Sunday, September 15, 2019


Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

Over the years, I've read just about every novel and story, play, and reference book on the Grande Dame of Crime Fiction. I've taught classes on Agatha Christie at UCB, Santa Cruz, St. Mary's College, as well as focused on Agatha Christie in my mystery book group. 

Agatha Christie visited the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden and was particularly taken by the Peruvian Lily. Poisonous? Yes. In honor of that long-ago visit, I organized a poison tour at the UC Botanical Garden with a very knowledgeable guide for my book group.

For Agatha Christie's Centennial, I attended the CWA (Crime Writers UK) conference in Torquay which included an Agatha Christie Centennial Celebration Banquet. Everyone was there, and by that, I mean all my favorite British crime writers and several of the actors who portrayed Christie's characters over the years. David Suchet sat at the next table. I saw Joan Hickson in the Ladies Room. During that same trip, I went with CWA to visit Greenway. This was long before it opened to the public. The family was in residence at the time, and either they forgot that a group of mystery writers was stopping by or they didn’t care, as the house was in a bit of disarray after what must have been Sunday lunch. It was a very lovely (and intimate) tour of the house.

When I returned to the States that year, I was on the organizing committee of the U.S. Agatha Christie Centennial. There were reading challenges, library talks, courses, and lectures, and I even wrote an 'Agatha-Christie inspired' interactive mystery event. It was great fun!

And here's a real treat: A Video of a 1955 interview with Agatha Christie from the BBC Archives in which Agatha Christie talks about her lack of formal education and how boredom during childhood led her to write The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She outlines her working methods, Miss Marple, Herculte Poirot, and discusses why it is much easier to write plays than novels. 

Raise a glass today to Agatha Chrisite, the Queen of Crime!

Saturday, September 14, 2019


The Ngaio Marsh Awards celebrate the best of New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing. “It’s been a really remarkable year for our international judging panels across all three categories,” says awards founder Craig Sisterson. Congratulations to all, and a special congrats to Craig for organizing these awards!

Best Novel:
THIS MORTAL BOY by Fiona Kidman (Penguin)

Best First Novel: 
CALL ME EVIE by JP Pomare (Hachette)

Best Non-Fiction 

For more information on any or all of this year’s winners or the Ngaio Marsh Awards in general, please contact founder and judging convenor Craig Sisterson,

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Upcoming Literary Salon in Berkeley, CA

When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 7 p.m.

Who: Mark Coggins & Reece Hirsch

Where: RSVP for venue address (Berkeley, CA)

This is a free event, but YOU MUST RSVP to attend.
Space is limited. Venue address sent with acceptance.
Please make a comment below with your email address.

Mark Coggins

Born in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, Mark Coggins earned two degrees and a Phi Beta Kappa Key from Stanford University. He has worked for a number of Silicon Valley computer and venture capital firms, including Netscape Communications and Hewlett Packard Company.

While at Stanford, he studied creative writing with Tobias Wolff and Ron Hansen and wrote the first story featuring his series character August Riordan in a class taught by Hansen. This story, “There’s No Such Thing as Private Eyes,” was later published in The New Black Mask, vol. 4, Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich.

His books have been nominated for the Shamus and the Barry crime fiction awards and have been selected for best of the year lists compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Detroit Free Press and, among others.

Runoff and The Big Wake-Up won the Next Generation Indie Book Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) respectively, both in the crime fiction category. The Immortal Game was optioned for a film. His latest mystery, The Dead Beat Scroll, has just been published.

Coggins has published short fiction in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the anthology Masters of Technique, as well as nonfiction in View Camera and Distributed Object Computing magazines.

He is also a photographer. Images of his have been shown in galleries across the United States and Europe, including exhibitions jurored by acclaimed photographers and curators Amy Arbus, Elizabeth Avedon, Judy Dater, Henry Horenstein and Michael Kenna. He has won multiple awards, participated in solo and small group shows, and he has published a monograph entitled The Space Between.


Reece Hirsch is the author of four thrillers that draw upon his background as a privacy attorney. His first book, The Insider, was a finalist for the 2011 International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. His next three books, The Adversary, Intrusion, and Surveillance, all feature former Department of Justice cybercrimes prosecutor Chris Bruen. His thriller Black Nowhere was just published.

Hirsch is a partner in the San Francisco office of an international law firm and cochair of its privacy and cybersecurity practice. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation (

Reece earned his law degree from the University of Southern California and a B.S. degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Prior to law school, Reece worked as a journalist in Atlanta for several years, including a stint as an assistant editor of a business magazine. He also edited and published an arts and entertainment magazine in Atlanta.

To RSVP,  make a comment below with email address or send DM.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Through the Past, Darkly: Guest Post by William Shaw

Play With Fire is set in London in 1969, the era when everyone used typewriters and carbon paper. It was written on a Mac.

I like to think about that difference sometimes between then and now. I imagine a room full of beat-hardened constables from London’s Metropolitan Police one-finger typing, fight-scabbed hands angrily stabbing the keys, one at a time.

Back then, the Metropolitan Police force of the late sixties was staffed with men from a totally different era; it was a force that was institutionally corrupt and contained more than a few officers who thought nothing of fabricating evidence to convict whoever they assumed was guilty. This was a force in which the newly formed Drug Squad would later be discovered to be selling drugs they’d confiscated back to drug dealers. As for procedure, in those days there was almost no forensic evidence gathered at a crime scene beyond finger prints. Officers would happily trample mob-handed all over the evidence.

Play With Fire is also set in an era 20 years before the demise of the Soviet Union, which nobody could ever imagine collapsing back then. It seemed monolithic; unstoppable.

The book features a real-life spy exchange that happened that year - members of the infamous Communist Portland Spy Ring were exchanged for an unfortunate British lecturer who had been caught in Russia with anti-Soviet leaflets. The KGB spy ring, who were connected to the Rosenbergs in New York, worked with short wave radio and microdots to pass on secrets about British nuclear submarines. The Cold War was very present in London around that time; it was just one of the facts of life along with red phone boxes, thruppeny bits and double-decker buses.

On one level it feels like 1969 was such a long time ago. And yet, the book also opens at the Rolling Stones Hyde Park concert of that year, when Mick Jagger recited Shelly and released thousands of white butterflies into the air as a memorial for ex-Rolling Stone Brian Jones.

Jones had died in a swimming pool only a few days later and the mystery surrounding the 27-year-old guitarist’s death is part of my story too. Was he deliberately killed, or was it just what happens to young people if they take too many drugs, drink too much and then decide to swim on their own?

On the set list that day in Hyde Park were songs like Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Satisfaction, Honky Tonk Women and Sympathy For The Devil, songs you can still hear any day on the radio, songs that still sound as alive and modern and abrasive as they did fifty years ago. In amongst that old world was the soundtrack for our new one, shiny, new and outrageously arrogant.

That’s what I enjoyed, writing this book and the others in this series so much. In some senses 1969 was such a long time ago, and yet in others it was a year that was still very present in our lives. There was a war going on in 1969, and it wasn’t just in Vietnam. The clunky old certainties of the post-war world were doing battle with blaring, cocky individualism of the rock generation; and that makes for a great backdrop for any crime story.


William Shaw is an award-winning music journalist and the author of several non-fiction books including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood. Prior to becoming a crime writer, he worked at the post-punk magazine ZigZag and a journalist for The Observer, The New York Times, Wired, Arena, and The Face. His latest novel Play With Fire is a gripping police thriller set in the ever-intriguing world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Think Prime Suspect 1973 meets a throwback episode of Law and Order: SVU set in the ’60s!

Friday, September 6, 2019

NED KELLY AWARDS: Australian Crime Writers Association

The Australian Crime Writers Association announced the winners for the 2019 Ned Kelly Awards.

2019 Best Fiction
The Lost Man by Jane Harper

2019 Best True Crime
Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

2019 Best First Fiction
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Ann Cleeves' The Long Call TV News!

From Deadline:

Silverprint Pictures is set to adapt Ann Cleeves' new mystery The Long Call for television. The producer has optioned the book which is the first in Cleeves’ new Two Rivers series.

Silverprint previously adapted Cleeves’ Shetland, which has run for five seasons on the BBC, and Brenda Blethyn-fronted Vera, which was recently renewed for a tenth season on ITV.

The book, which is published by Pan Macmillan (Minotaur Books in the U.S.) was just released today. It's set in North Devon, where the author spent her teenage years. It follows the reserved and complex Detective Inspector Matthew Venn, as well as an ensemble of characters, evoking the stark beauty of the North Devon coastline, and a community where murder and intrigue bubble just beneath the surface.

The opening of The Long Call has Detective Matthew Venn standing outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. When he left the strict, evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family, too. But a call to investigate a murdered body found on the beach nearby soon brings Matthew back to the people and places of his past. What he discovers there will force Matthew’s new life into a collision course with the world he thought he’d left behind.

I loved the book. It's such a wonderful addition to Cleeves' oeuvre. Totally gripping! Can't wait to see it on screen.

Cartoon of the Day: Books

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction

Megan Abbott and Sarah St. Vincent are the recipients of the 2019 Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction. The prizes will be presented October 10, 2019, at Louisiana Humanities Center, 938 Lafayette St., in New Orleans.

The Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans established the Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction in 2012 for women writers to honor the memory of Diana Pinckley (1952-2012), a longtime crime fiction columnist for The New Orleans Times-Picayune, and her passion for mysteries. Pinckley was a founding member of the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans, as well as a civic activist, who gave her time and energy to local and national causes. The Prizes are administered by WNBA-NO, the New Orleans chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, which is composed of writers, librarians, publishers, and booklovers, and was founded in 2011. The national WNBA was founded in 1917.


Hiding in Plain Sight: The Inspiration for A Girl Named Anna 

It was the mid-2010s, and women kept being found in basements. At least that was what it seemed like to me, not in a basement, but in the middle of Central London, on my daily commute.

There was Jaycee Duggard, kidnapped, aged eleven, by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. There was Elisabeth Fritzl, help captive by her own father in a concealed area of her own home. There were the multiple abductions performed by Ariel Castro. In Germany, there was Natascha Kampusch, kept prisoner in a secret cellar for 8 years. And, not so much in a basement but nonetheless abducted and kept hidden in striking distance of her own family, there was Elizabeth Smart, stolen through her bedroom window by a drifter and religious fanatic her gentle Mormon family had given work to.

I read their stories: these brave, courageous women who had been through terrible ordeals and lived to tell their tale: and I tried to imagine what it must have been like for them; the daily horror, the claustrophobia, the never-knowing if they were going to be free; and I couldn’t even come close to contemplating it.

But their experiences resonated with me, and I was struck by two very distinct facts:

Firstly, these women were all taken by men (albeit sometimes aided by women), and they all seemed to have a sexual motivation to them.

Secondly, they all remembered being taken; they emphatically knew who they were.

And I thought: what if that wasn’t the case?

In A Girl Named Anna, Anna Montgomery is a sweet and somewhat naïve young woman living with her strictly religious mother in the heart of North Florida. We meet her waking up to celebrate her eighteenth birthday; everything is calm, the mood is serene. And then her world is shattered when she sneaks away to a theme park she is forbidden to visit and has a shocking revelation that makes her doubt her true identity.

I often say that the book is not a ‘who done it’ but a ‘why done it,’ as the reader will know (this isn’t a spoiler alert, I promise!), that Anna’s mother, ‘Mamma,’ is at the heart of the mystery.

With Mamma, I wanted to explore was what would motivate a woman to abduct a child: reasons that I would like to think are complex and conflicting, that give Mamma more light and shade to her (and perhaps even more compassion) than the villains of these other true-life cases.

For Anna, the search for truth is also the search for identity, and again this creates a tricky push-and-pull: she has only known one life; she has only known and loved one mother, however complicated that love might be; how will she cope when all of that is cast asunder?

As a reader, you are sitting on Anna’s shoulder as she makes these discoveries – you have the benefit of dramatic irony, knowing the truth before she does, and at times that makes you want to shout at her, shake her, tell her, ‘stop being so stupid!’But I hope this also makes you sympathize with her. I hope you will see that the journey she goes through is not easy, and that just because she knows the truth, it doesn’t mean she wants to accept it.

Anna may not be surrounded by the same physical walls as the girls who inspired her, but sometimes emotional walls can be as thick as concrete.

Lizzy Barber studied English at Cambridge University. Having previously dabbled in acting and film development, she has spent the last ten years as head of marketing for a restaurant group. Her first novel, A Girl Named Anna, won the Daily Mail and Random House First Novel Prize 2017. She lives in London with her husband, a food writer. 

CWA Inaugural Dagger for Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year Nominees

The new prestigious CWA Dagger for Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year will be presented annunally. The Crime Writers Association is one of the UK’s most prominent organizations for the promotion of crime writing, founded in 1953 by John Creasey. Publishers and specific imprints were nominated by a representative group of leading book reviewers, booksellers, festival organisers, bloggers, literary agents and journalists.


Faber and Faber
Harper Fiction (HarperCollins)
HQ (HarperCollins)
No Exit Press (Oldcastle Books)
Orenda Books
Pushkin Vertigo (Pushkin)
Raven (Bloomsbury)

The winners of all the 2019 Dagger Awards will be announced in London, on October 24.

HT: TheRapSheet

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


Sisters in Crime Australia announced the winners of the 2019 Davitt Awards, named for Ellen Davitt (1812-1879), Australia’s first crime novelist, who wrote Australia's first mystery novel, Force and Fraud (1865).

Best Adult Crime Novel:
The Ruin, by Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Australia)
Best Young Adult Crime Novel:
Small Spaces, by Sarah Epstein (Walker Books)
Best Children’s Crime Novel:
Wakestone Hall, by Judith Rossell (ABC Books)
Best Non-fiction Crime Book:
The Arsonist, by Chloe Hooper (Penguin Random House)
Best Debut Novel:
Eggshell Skull, by Bri Lee (Allen & Unwin)
Readers’ Choice:
The Lost Man, by Jane Harper (Pan Macmillan Australia)

HT: The Gumshoe Site & The Rap Sheet

Saturday, August 31, 2019

LABOR DAY CRIME FICTION: Labor Union Mysteries

Another holiday, another list! Labor Day!

I'm only aware of a few mysteries set during the Labor Day Holiday: Lee Harris's Labor Day Murder, Sharyn McCrumb's Highland Laddie Gone,  Sandra Balzo's Running on Empty, and Mary Jane Maffini's The Devil's in the Details (Labour Day Weekend-Canada). There's also the short story "Labor Day" by R.T. Lawton in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Labor Unions, on the other hand, are rife with settings and situations for crime fiction. This is an UPDATED Crime Fiction list involving Labor Unions with links to two great articles. Please let me know any books that are missing from this list.


The Knife Behind You by James Benet (Department Store Union Organizer)
For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen (Garment Workers Union)
White Hot by Sandra Brown (Labor Dispute)
Big Boned by Meg Cabot (Graduate Student Union)
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain (Insurance)
All Men Fear Me by Donis Casey (IWW)
Cactus Blood by Lucha Corpi (Farm Workers' Union)
Airframe by Michael Crichton (Union Trouble)
Red Herring by Jonothan Cullinane (Waterfront Strike)- coming out this Fall
The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (Union Group called the Scowrers)
Third Strike by Philip Craig and William Tapply (Steamship Authority Strike)
October Heat by Gordon DeMarco (1934 San Francisco General Strike-Longshoremen)
Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Scowrers)
The Bramble Bush (aka Worse than Murder) by David Duncan (San Francisco General Strike)
American Tabloid by James Ellroy (Teamsters)
LA Quartet by James Ellroy (Movie Unions)
A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett (Coal Mines)
The Peripheral Son by Dorien Gray
Dead Reckoning by Patricia Hall (Union Strike)
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett (IWW organizer & Copper Workers; Strike Breaking)
A More Perfect Union by J.A. Jance (Iron Workers' Union)
As Dead As it Gets by Cady Kalian (Creative Artists' Union)
The Longer the Thread by Emma Lathen (Garment Workers)
Death at the Old Hotel by Con Lehane (Hotel Workers' Union)
Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon (not a union exactly but unsafe working conditions and pollution in the Venetian glass industry)
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (Police Union)
Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon (Unsafe environmental pollution in Venetian glass factories effecting workers)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Long Shoremen's Union)
Deadly Dues by Lulu Malone (Actors' Union)
Stiff by Shane Maloney (Meat Packing)
Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti  (Union rep in Cathode-ray Tube industry)
Champawat by Lia Matera A Novella in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Labor Unions & the Clash between Anarchists & Democrats)
Organize or Die by Laura McClure (Union organizing)
Conferences are Murder by Val McDermid (Journalists' Union) 
Death at Pullman by Frances McNamara (American Railway Union)
The Viewless Winds by Murray Morgan (Murder of a Labor Leader's wife)
A Red Death by Walter Mosley (Aircraft Manufacturer and Labor Union organizer)
Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely (Domestic Workers)
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky
Mr Campion's Fault by Mike Ripley (Mineworkers)
Death and Blintzes by Dorothy and Sidney Rosen (Garment Workers Union)
A Bitter Feast by S. J. Rozan (Restaurant Workers' Union)
Some Cuts Never Heal by Timothy Sheard (Shop Steward)
Judas Incorporated by "Kurt Steel" (Rudolf Kagey) (Pro-Union)
The Big Both Ways by John Straley (Lumber)
The Labor Union Murder aka Fourth of July Picnic by Rex Stout (novella)
Absolute Rage by Robert K. Tanenbaum (Coal Miners' Union)
Fallout by Paul Thomas
The Porkchoppers, Yellow Dog Contract by Ross Thomas (Politics & Unions)
Killy by Donald Westlake (Manufacturing Union)

For further reading:

The Strange Connection Between Detective Fiction and Union Busting by Erica Eisen

Radical Noir: 26 Activist Crime Novels by Molly Odintz

Have a great Labor Day Holiday!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: Books



Book of the Year
Baron Birtcher Fistful of Rain

Action Adventure
Baron Birtcher Fistful of Rain

Phyllis Gobbell Treachery in Tuscany

Julianne Lynch Beneath the Lighthouse

Bradley Harper A Knife in the Fog

Gretchen Rose Dancing with the Devil

Bruce Robert Coffin Beyond the Truth

Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror
Maggie Toussaint Confound It

Short Stories
Carmen Amato The Artist

D.E. Funk Silent Rage

Thriller (tie)
Michael Niemann Illegal Holdings
Charley Pearson Scourge

Joyce Carol Oates was honored as this year's recipient of the John Seigenthaler Legends Award, bestowed upon "an individual within the publishing industry who has championed First Amendment Rights to ensure that all opinions are given a voice, has exemplified mentorship and example to authors, supporting the new voices of tomorrow, and/or has written an influential canon of work that will continue to influence authors for many years to come."

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs

EARL DERR BIGGER's 135th Birthday

Yesterday was Earl Derr Biggers 135th Birthday, and it's not too late to celebrate. Lou Armagno posts on The Postman on Holiday blog 10 ways to celebrate Earl Derr Biggers' birthday. The Postman on Holiday is "A place to explore all things surrounding Detective Charlie Chan, his creator Earl Derr Biggers, and their connection with Hawaii, Cleveland, and mystery fiction."

1. Read Biggers’ first successful novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate (1913). Earl Derr Biggers had many other successes as both a playwright and author, most prominent his first novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate, a mystery set in a mountain lodge in the dead of winter.

Read more here. 

Happy Birthday, Earl!

Monday, August 26, 2019

T. Jefferson Parker Award Finalists

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA) T. Jefferson Parker Award Finalists in Mystery. Winners will be announced at SCIBA’s annual trade show, September 27-28 in San Gabriel, CA.

The Feral Detective, by Jonathan Lethem 
The Good Detective, by John McMahon 
The Border, by Don Winslow 

HT: TheRapSheet

Sunday, August 25, 2019


Just a heads up for Fall. AcornTV has some great new shows.

September TBD
DOC MARTIN, Series 9 (Exclusive U.S. and Canadian Premiere)
*A new episode will premiere weekly on Acorn TV the day after it premieres on ITV in the UK
One of the most popular UK series worldwide returns with eight new episodes. BAFTA winner Martin Clunes (Manhunt, Arthur & George, Men Behaving Badly) returns in his uproarious lead performance as a tactless, self-centered, and uptight doctor in the charming town of Portwenn, where he clashes with the village's quirky inhabitants. Co-starring Caroline Catz (Murder in Suburbia) (8 EPS, 2019)

Monday, September 16
TAKEN DOWN, Series 1 (Exclusive U.S. and Canadian Premiere)
In Dublin, a young Nigerian girl, Esme Lukasa, is found dead at a bus stop opening an investigation into her violent death. This leads Inspector Jen Rooney (Lynn Rafferty, Love/Hate) and her team of investigating detectives to a Direct Provision Centre for asylum-seekers. It is soon discovered that another girl from the center has disappeared. The police enter a murky underworld of slumlords and traffickers to find out who killed Esme and rescue the missing girl before she suffers a horrific fate. Also starring Brian Gleeson (Phantom Thread, Logan Lucky). (6 EPS, 2018)

Monday, September 30
BACK HOME (Exclusive U.S. Premiere, Foreign-Language, La Strada Di Casa)
This is the story of a second chance that life offers to Fausto Morra (Alessio Boni), a family man who owns and runs a large farm near Turin. Fausto, involved in a car accident, fell into a coma. When he wakes five years later, he discovers that everything has changed: his wife is now in a relationship with his best friend, his children have grown up and his business is on the verge of bankruptcy. He also discovers that there are shady aspects to his life that he can’t remember at all, but if he wants his life back he has to fight to recover his memory and come to terms with his past, only then he will start to find his road… back home. Co-starring Lucrezia Lante della Rovere and Sergio Rubini. (12 EPS, 2017, Italy)

Monday, October 28, 2019
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE HAUNTED HOUSE (third series premiere, Acorn TV Original)
This Halloween-themed special is the third series premiere of the popular Acorn TV Original mystery series starring Emmy®-nominated actress Ashley Jensen (Catastrophe, Extras, Ugly Betty) and based on MC Beaton’s best-selling novels. The series follows Raisin, a London PR whizz turned amateur sleuth, who becomes entangled in mischief, mayhem, and murder when she opts for early retirement in a small village in the Cotswolds. Drawn into various mysteries, Agatha attempts to solve the crimes… often in rather unorthodox and amusing ways. In Series 3, Agatha Raisin is on the verge of a new era; reconciled with James Lacey and launching her own detective agency. However, when the agency fails to attract any clients, James suggests they investigate a legendary haunted house as the perfect opportunity to drum up business. No one was expecting their first case to be quite so spooky.

Monday, November 11, 2019
GOOD KARMA HOSPITAL – SERIES 3 (U.S. Exclusive, on Acorn TV)
In the third season of this humorous and heartbreaking medical drama, this hospital located in a colorful coastal town in southern India is busy as ever, with several big new arrivals causing a stir. The team faces their most shocking case yet when one of their own nursing team survives a violent attack. Dr Ruby Walker faces a tricky dilemma over where her home lies – with her new found Indian family, or at the bustling hospital? It’s made all the more difficult by her simmering relationship with Dr Gabriel Varma.  Series three also introduces us to a visiting Brit, Ted Dalrymple, an older man on a mission to find a love from his past. The series goes to darker places than ever before, but it is through the bonds of family and friendship – rekindled and strengthened over the series – that the team weather their biggest challenges yet. The series’ cast includes Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones), Amanda Redman (New Tricks), and Neil Morrissey (Striking Out, The Night Manager).

Friday, August 23, 2019

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS: Guest post by Sara Lövestam

Advice for aspiring writers 

Decide ahead of time the kind of author you want to be. Once you’ve been published, your books will define you as an author. Don’t write a romantic comedy if you ever want to be considered a heavy-duty literary author, and don’t write a novel about relationships if you are aiming for an audience of mystery readers.

No, actually, forget all that. Write what you feel in your soul that you want to write. It’s not your fault that the market wants to place writers in boxes. You are not personally responsible for how literature is regarded.

Write the very best work you are capable of producing. Don't settle for less than perfection.

No, actually, write whatever makes you develop as a writer. You can explore a style, theme or genre without the requirement that you be ready to do so. You will never be ready. Never be ready.

Be ready if you feel ready and want to be ready. Indulge in your readiness if you want to.

Write a first draft quickly, to get the story out, and then spend a hundred times longer editing it. It is in the editing that the magic happens. All first drafts are bad.

But they don't have to be. You could be someone who already has your idea ready, and in your writing process, put all of your energy into getting the draft right from the very beginning. You could be someone who writes five sentences in one day and then spends zero hours editing them afterwards.

You could be someone who writes chapters without knowing what order you’ll put them in, or someone who can’t possibly write a chapter unless the previous one has already been completed.

You can bring forth your story and let it come into being with your words, or come up with your story in your head and then carefully put it into words. You can do something in between.

Care about your story, your wording, your rhythm, your vision and your language, but in the order and pace that suits you. Nothing is finer. Nothing is fine. It's just your way.

Always write an outline. Never write an outline. Write an outline if it helps you. Treat your outline as a living document. Embellish your outline until it becomes a novel. Write your outline as a series of bullet points. Follow your outline. Abandon your outline. Change your outline. Your outline can also be part of your creative process. Write your outline from the heart. Do not write a outline unless you find it helpful.

Write what you know. Do not cross the stream in search of water. Your own story, background and context are interesting enough, and only you have the lived experience to describe them.

Write what you don’t know. Your gaze can be sharper when it comes from the outside. You can see details in the lives of others that they themselves miss; you can notice things in a foreign setting that are invisible to the native.

Write what you want to know. Your own curiosity has to take the lead, and often, we are interested in things we don’t already know about, things that are new and feel exciting. Write about what tickles your fancy, write about something you’d like to know more about, make yourself an expert through your writing. But if you want to be published and appreciated by those who already know what you want to know, do your research and go directly to the source.

Think of your reader, so she will feel secure with the premise of your book. She should feel wise and enlightened, seduced and unstoppable. Keep in mind that you and she do not know the same things, and don’t leave any gaps which will perplex her. Write so she won’t be able to stop reading. Remember that she’s not inside your head; polish your text to pave her way.

No, actually, don't write in order to be read. Write for yourself. Trust your own taste and write what you want to read. Otherwise, who else will do it? Appreciate your own voice for what it is, be true to your own expression. The most important thing about what you write is that it’s yours. The world does not need more clones.

Create a niche or familiarize yourself with an existing niche —that’s how you will reach readers. Readers will want to know what to expect from your next book. Readers only want to invest in a book if they believe it is worth it, and the greater uncertainty around what you have created, the fewer books they will buy.

No, actually, ignore the market. It is your writing, your life and your creativity. You are not responsible for what readers think they will be getting, and this industry is too unforgiving for you to enter it and then not write precisely what you want.

Write what you want to write.

Write what you do not want to write. Something that hurts you can light your prose on fire. Your writing can become larger than life when you enrich it by baring your soul.

Write. The best books are the ones that are finished. Becoming an author requires one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. You can trigger creativity by sitting in your chair and staring at the page until something happens. Don’t distract yourself with anything else. Just write.

Don’t write. Do something else for a while. Your book will be written in your subconscious as you wash dishes, go for walks, socialize or play games on your phone. Don’t be afraid of boredom. Rest is the cradle of creativity.

Take your writing seriously. Give it space; set aside time to write. Give your writing the same respect you would give your exercise routine, your job, or your relationships. Buy a special pen, fix up a special space in which to write, or tell a friend that you are writing.

Don't take your writing so seriously. If you’re not satisfied with something, you can always write about it. Don't compare yourself to others. Tease out your own style. Experiment. Don’t be ashamed of anything you have written. Each word is another step along the path to progress you would not otherwise have made.

Listen to others who are further along than you are. Borrow the techniques, perspectives and approaches of established writers you admire. Look what they've done, listen to what they say about writing. Read blogs featuring established authors’ writing tips.

Screw established writers' writing tips.

Sara Lövestam is a Swedish novelist, born in 1980, and living in Stockholm. Lövestam worked for many years as a Swedish teacher for immigrants and says a lot of her inspiration comes from her students. She writes in many genres — historical novels, Y/A, crime — but her books all deal with deeply human struggles, such as challenging perspectives, dealing with alienation, and being true to oneself. The Truth Behind the Lie, originally published in Sweden, earned her the Crime Fiction Academy award for Best Crime Debut, as well as crime fiction awards in France and the Netherlands

Thanks to Sue Trowbridge for translating this article from Swedish.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Returning to Marketville: A Fool's Journey - Guest post by Judy Penz Sheluk

Judy Penz Sheluk:
Returning to Marketville: A Fool’s Journey

It was spring 2015. I was sitting in the lobby of my lawyer’s office with my husband, Mike, waiting to update our wills. As the minutes ticked by into an hour—our lawyer had been delayed in court—I got to thinking, “what if I was here to inherit, and what if that inheritance came with strings attached, and what if…” I grabbed my pen and notebook from my purse and began writing the first chapter of Skeletons in the Attic while Mike flipped through back issues of Bicycling magazine. In fact, the opening scenes of the book are directly culled from my experience that afternoon. What I didn’t know then was that it would also be the beginning of my bestselling Marketville Mystery series. All I knew was that I had a 36-year-old protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable and that she’d inherited a house in Marketville from her late father under the proviso that she move into the house to find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. Because I’m a complete pantser, I let Callie, and her investigation, tell the story. It wasn’t until I got to The End that I knew I had to write book two.

Knowing I had to write book two and actually writing it turned out to be two different things. As I toyed with various plots and premises, my mother, Anneliese Penz, became progressively ill. I found myself mostly staring at a blank screen or driving to see her in Niagara Falls, a two-plus hour drive from my house. And then, on Sept. 21, 2016, a month after the release of Skeletons in the Attic, she passed away peacefully in her sleep. I take comfort in knowing it was the last book she was able to read, but more than that, she’d left behind a train case filled with until-then never seen by me “secrets.” In that case were, among other things, her immigration papers from England into Canada, a copy of her ticket on the TSS Canberra from Southampton, England to Quebec City, Que., in July 1952, and her passport.

Within days I began writing about Callie’s latest adventure: opening Past & Present Investigations to utilize the skills she’d acquired in Skeletons in the Attic. Her first client? A woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in Toronto in 1956.

The premise for book 3 in the series was inspired by an article in my community newspaper, about a 23-year-old man who had left home fifteen years before to “find himself.” No one had seen or heard from him since. I couldn’t begin to imagine what the family might be going through. I began researching missing persons, including searching the Ontario Missing Adults website, Shocked and saddened by the statistics (in 2017, 78,000+ adults were reported to the RCMP as missing in Canada. And while the majority of cases were solved within a few days, far too many remained unsolved), I knew I had to have Callie search for a missing adult, and while a fictional case, I also know the research had to be spot on so as not to disrespect anyone who had been in a situation such as this. Thankfully, the founder/owner of Ontario’s Missing Adults, Lusia Dion, went above and beyond to help me, even going so far as to be a beta reader for A Fool’s Journey.

Will there be a book 4 Marketville? I’m still waiting for the next “sign,” but if past experience is any indicator, I’ll be ready when it comes. In the meantime, here’s a bit about A Fool’s Journey:

In March 2000, twenty-year old Brandon Colbeck left home to find himself on a self-proclaimed “fool’s journey.” No one—not friends or family—have seen or heard from him since, until a phone call from a man claiming to be Brandon brings everything back to the forefront. Calamity (Callie) Barnstable and her team at Past & Present Investigations have been hired to find out what happened to Brandon, and, if still alive, where he might be. As Callie follows a trail of buried secrets and decades-old deceptions only one thing is certain: whatever the outcome, there is no such thing as closure.  

A Fool’s Journey, book 3 in Judy’s Marketville Mystery series, was released on August 21 in trade paperback at all the usual suspects, and on Kindle. Amazon Barnes & Noble 

Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mystery and Marketville Mystery series. Her short stories can be found in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, which she also edited. Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors. Find at