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


Upcoming Literary Salon in Berkeley, CA

When: Sunday, August 25, 3:00 p.m.

Who: Naomi Hirahara

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.

Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara writes about the lives of the Nisei and Kibei (Americans of Japanese descent), many of whom lived through the catastrophe of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or were detained in interment camps in the United States during World War II. Stories of the Nisei (Japanese Americans born in the United States) and Kibei (Japanese Americans born in the United States who later removed to Japan) incorporate members of Hirahara's own family: her "father, Isamu … [was] born in California, but was taken to Hiroshima, Japan, as an infant. He was only miles away from the epicenter of the atomic-bombing in 1945, yet survived." Naomi's mother, Mayumi, or 'May,' was born in Hiroshima and lost her father in the blast."

Hirahara is known to a broader audience through her mystery fiction: novels featuring a septuagenarian Nisei gardener named Mas Arai. As in her nonfiction, Hirahara uses elements drawn from both her personal his

tory and her research. "Mas is inspired by my father," she told Hartlaub, "who also happens to be a gardener and an atomic-bomb survivor." Arai has become popular among readers and critics alike, and the author has featured him as an unlikely sleuth in a series of stories that, as with her nonfiction, help reveal the inner workings of Japanese-American society to readers. She also writes the Officer Ellie Rush series.

Iced in Paradise: a Leilani Santiago Hawai'i Mystery is her latest mystery: Leilani Santiago is back in her birthplace, the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, to help keep afloat the family business, a shave ice shack. When she goes to work one morning, she stumbles across a dead body, a young pro surfer who was being coached by her estranged father. As her father soon becomes the No. 1 murder suspect, Leilani must find the real killer and somehow safeguard her ill mother, little sisters, and grandmother while also preserving a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend in Seattle. (Prospect Park Books)

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

How to Write a Four-Footed Sidekick (and other Trade Secrets): Guest post by David Handler


I decided to end my Edgar Award-winning crime series about the novelist turned celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu, in 1997 after eight books. When I did it I was absolutely, totally certain I would never return to them again. As it turns out, I was absolutely, totally wrong. In 2017, Hoagy and Lulu came roaring back into print after a brief 20-year hiatus in THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, returned last year with THE MAN WHO COULDN’T MISS (which has just been named a finalist for the Nero Award), and are now back again with their newest adventure, THE MAN IN THE WHITE LINEN SUIT, which takes place in the high stakes, cut-throat world of New York publishing. It’s a world that I know a bit about. More than I care to, actually. I hate to disillusion you but it can be quite deadly.

I had ended the Hoagy series back in 1997 because I felt that the arrival of the Internet and 24-hour cable news had rendered Hoagy’s specialty -- celebrity memoirs chock full of closely guarded, long suppressed secrets -- utterly obsolete. I can still vividly remember the famous 1985 press conference when a gaunt, haggard Rock Hudson announced to the world that he was dying of AIDs. Rock Hudson had been a major, major Hollywood star for 30 years and yet NO ONE in America knew he was gay. Everyone in Hollywood knew. Everyone in the Hollywood press corps knew. But the film-going public didn’t. They kept secrets in those days. There were gatekeepers. With the arrival of the Internet, the gates were flung open.

And so, I decided, Hoagy and Lulu were history.

And if you’re wondering how I’ve gotten around the arrival of the Internet in these newest books the solution was shockingly simple. I can’t take credit for it because it was my editor’s idea, not mine: They’re period novels. THE MAN IN THE WHITE LINEN SUIT takes place just after Labor Day weekend in 1993.

I wasn’t exactly idle while Hoagy and Lulu were on hiatus. I wrote eleven novels in my Berger-Mitry series, which is set in the small, historic New England coastal village of Dorset that bears a striking resemblance to my own small, historic New England coastal village of Old Lyme. I wrote two novels about Benji Golden, the pint-sized 26-year-old New York City private eye who specializes in finding runaway teens.

I also answered hundreds of e-mails from devoted Hoagy fans who were desperate to know when I was bringing Hoagy back.

Okay, I just lied.

Almost none of those devoted fans wanted to know when I was bringing Hoagy back. They wanted to know when I was bringing Lulu back. Hoagy’s name was almost never mentioned. Practically every e-mail began with the sentence: “I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss Lulu.”

Not Hoagy, the first major new literary voice of the 1980s, with his dapper wardrobe, razor-sharp wit and keen observations. Nope. It was breath-challenged Lulu whom they missed. Lulu, she who dines on 9Lives mackerel for cats. Lulu, whose favorite snack is anchovies, which she prefers straight out of the refrigerator because the oil clings to them better when they’re cold.

I’d always been aware that Lulu was an important element of the Hoagy series. In fact, my first editor, Kate Miciak of Bantam Books, told me flat out back in 1988 that she would never have made me an offer if it hadn’t been for Lulu. Yet I was still genuinely shocked that it wasn’t my handsome, gifted, brilliant hero whom my fans missed most. It was his basset hound, who has a gazillion allergies, snores, hogs the bed, is incredibly stubborn and can really be quite impossible to live with. But after a few years of feeling quite grumpy about the whole thing I decided to embrace it as a compliment. After all, I did create Lulu. And if she connected with readers so strongly then this meant that I’d managed to stumble upon something truly significant about the secret to writing an animal sidekick.

I don’t share this secret very often. So, to you aspiring authors out there, I suggest you get out your notebooks because here it is:

I don’t write Lulu as if she’s a dog.

In fact, I don’t think of her as if she’s a dog at all. I think of her as a full-fledged person who doesn’t talk but happens to possess special powers that Hoagy doesn’t. Her sense of smell, for one. Did you know that basset hounds are the second highest-ranked scent hounds in the dog world? Only bloodhounds have keener noses. That makes her a very useful partner to have around, especially because she’s allergic to a number of perfumes such as Calvin Klein’s Obsession. So if a murder took place in a hotel room last night and Lulu walks in and immediately starts sneezing that means someone who was wearing Obsession was in that room last night. She also has a scent hound’s unerring sense of direction. Never gets lost, which I can’t say is true of Hoagy. She can hear things that Hoagy can’t hear. Plus she possesses that special instinct that all dogs possess. If she likes someone then that means they’re okay. If she takes an instant aversion to someone then that means they’re not.

Hoagy knows well enough to respect her instincts. And he knows well enough to treat her she’s like a person, not a dog. That’s something he and I learned together. He is, after all, an extension of me. And, deep down inside, I’m pleased that fans are fonder of Lulu than they are of Hoagy. I take it as a real compliment to my skills as a writer.

Okay, I just lied again. I’m not pleased at all. I’m jealous as hell. Just don’t tell anyone, okay? They’ll think I’m small-minded.

David Handler has written eleven novels about the witty and dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu, including the Edgar- and American Mystery Award-winning The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald. His other series include the Berger/Mitry franchise and two novels featuring private eye Benji Golden. David was a member of the original writing staff that created the Emmy Award-winning sitcom Kate and Allie, and has continued to write extensively for television and films on both coasts. He lives in a 200-year-old carriage house in Old Lyme, Connecticut. His latest novel is The Man in the White Linen Suit.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

HALLIE EPHRON: Lit Salon 8/21

Upcoming Literary Salon in Berkeley, CA

When: Wednesday, August 21, 7:00 p.m.

Who: Hallie Ephron

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.

Hallie Ephron

HALLIE EPHRON ( is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven suspense novels that reviewers call “deliciously creepy” and “Hitchcockian.” Her books are rooted in reality, and it’s no coincidence that her new novel, Careful What You Wish For, is about a professional organizer married to a man who can’t pass a yard sale without stopping.

She is a five-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel (Writers Digest Books) was an Edgar Award finalist. For twelve years she wrote an award-winning crime-fiction book review column for the Boston Globe. Her Never Tell a Lie was made into a Lifetime movie. A popular speaker and writing teacher, Hallie lives near Boston with her husband.

To RSVP, send an email to janet @ mysteryreaders (dot) org


Upcoming Literary Salons: Mark your Calendar

August 25: Naomi Hirahara, 3 p.m. Berkeley
September 18: Mark Coggins & Reece Hirsch

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Crown returns November 17

If you're like me, you're anxiously awaiting the return of The Crown. This season the role of Queen Elizabeth II will be played by Olivia Colman! What a treat. Mark your calendars for November 17.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Friday, August 9, 2019

Lea Wait: R.I.P.

Such sad news. Lea Wait: R.I.P.

Lea Wait's daughter Ali Cia posted today.
It is with great sadness we let you know of the passing of our mom, Lea Wait today. She is very loved and was surrounded by her daughters, in the comfort of her own home. We will let you know about the details of her celebration of life as soon as we secure them. We ask that you please be respectful of our family’s privacy during this very difficult time, as we grieve the loss of our mother. Thank you, to everyone, for the outpouring of support and prayers.

Lea Wait was a best-selling author and speaker who wrote the Mainely Needlepoint Mysteries series, the Shadows Antique Print mysteries, and the Maine Murder Mystery series. She also wrote children's historical novels. Even though she was ill, she finished a new book in March, Thread and Buried (published May 1) and published Justice and Mercy, her first historical mystery. She went to Malice in the Spring and managed to attend Maine Crime Wave in June.

Lea Wait grew up in Maine and New Jersey, majored in drama and English at Chatham College (now University) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned her MA and DWD in American Civilization at New York University. While raising the four daughters she adopted as a single parent, Wait worked in public relations and strategic planning for AT&T. She was married to artist Bob Thomas, and has written about their life together in her Living and Writing on the Coast of Maine.

I met Lea several times at Malice. She was always gracious and sharing and supportive. She wrote articles for the Mystery Readers Journal, a post for Mystery Fanfare: Cape Cod and other June Weddings, and we corresponded over the years. She was brave and active to the end. Read her July 5 post on Maine Crime Writers: "My Crazy Health Update"
Pancreatic cancer is the worst. Rest in Peace, Lea.

Cartoon of the Day: The Prisoner

Monday, August 5, 2019

DAVID AWARD WINNER: Deadly Ink Mystery Conference

Deadly Ink Mystery Conference announced the David Award Winner for the best mystery published in 2018. Winners were announced this past weekend at the Deadly Ink Mystery Conference.


Also Nominated:
DIED IN THE WOOL by Peggy Ehrhart
MISTY TREASURE by Linda Rawlins
SECOND STORY MAN by Charles Salzberg
FERAL ATTRACTION by Eileen Watkins

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award Shortlist


The winner of the prize, which rewards ‘compelling storytelling with brilliant characterization and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realized’ will be announced at the bookshop on Monday 16th September. The prize, which is judged by Goldsboro Books founder and MD David Headley and his team at the bookshop, sees the winner awarded £2,000 and a beautiful, handmade, engraved glass bell.

2019 Glass Bell Shortlist 

Snap by Belinda Bauer (Transworld)
Our House by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)
The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (Little, Brown)
VOX by Christina Dalcher (HQ)
Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg- Jephcott (Cornerstone)
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Bonnier Zaffre)


HT: The Rap Sheet

Thursday, August 1, 2019

2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award

Sisters in Crime (SinC) announced the 2019 winner of the annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award: Jessica Martinez of Orcutt, CA, whose novel-in-progress features Teia Santiago, a police detective whose father-in-law blackmails her into kidnapping a textile manufacturing heiress—who also happens to be her sister-in-law.

In a joint statement, judges Cheryl Head, Mia P. Manansala, and Tonya Spratt-Williams said, “Ms. Martinez has great potential as a fresh new voice within the crime fiction community and capably displays a proficiency with humor. Her submission introduced the committee to a fun and witty protagonist and left the committee looking forward to her completed novel.”

The award, which honors the memory of pioneering African-American crime fiction author Eleanor Taylor Bland with a $2,000 grant to an emerging writer of color, was created in 2014 to support SinC’s vision statement that the organization should serve as the voice for excellence and diversity in crime writing. The grant is intended to support the recipient in such developmental and research activities as workshops, seminars, conferences and retreats, online courses, and other opportunities required for completion of their debut crime fiction work. Past recipients include Maria Kelson (2014), Vera H-C Chan (2015), Stephane Dunn (2016), Jessica Ellis Laine (2017) and Mia P. Manansala (2018).

“I was so excited to learn that I had received the 2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Award from Sisters in Crime,” said Martinez. “It feels great for someone to recognize my work as having potential. This award is affirmation for me to continue writing and to finish fleshing out this specific story of mine.”

Eleanor Taylor Bland (1944-2010) paved the way for fresh voices in crime fiction by showcasing complex characters that had previously been peripheral to or simply missing from the genre. Dead Time (1992), the first in her series of novels, introduced African-American police detective Marti MacAlister, an enduring and beloved heroine who overturned stereotypes that had been perpetuated in much of American popular culture. Bland also published several works of short crime fiction and edited the 2004 collection, Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors.

Sisters in Crime (SinC) was founded in 1986 to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. Today, the organization boasts 3,600 members and 50 chapters worldwide and its initiatives also include other scholarships, grants for academic research into the roles of women and underserved voices in crime fiction; cash awards to libraries and bookstores; and surveys and monitoring projects which determine visibility and representation of women and diverse voices in the genre and across the marketplace.

Mystery Down Under: Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 35:2)

Mystery Readers Journal: Mystery Down Under (Volume 35:2: Summer 2019) is available now as a PDF and hardcopy. US/Canada hardcopy subscriber copies have been mailed. PDF subscribers have been sent a link for downloading. Overseas issues will be mailed shortly. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue.

This issue is so timely, as the Ngaio Marsh Award Nominees (New Zealand) and Ned Kelly Award Longlist have just been announced.

Lots of great books for your TBR pile.

Mystery Down Under 
Volume 35, No. 2      Summer 2019

Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.


  • The Thing About Eyeball-Paul … by Finn Bell
  • Tasmanian Gothic Convict Breaks the Chains by Carmel Bird
  • Terror Australis  — Great Stories, Plus Kangaroos! by Aoife Clifford
  • Down-Under Death Traps  — Criminal Inspiration in the Antipodes by Alan Carter
  • Just a Small-Town Girl by Nikki Crutchley
  • On a Whim by Sulari Gentill
  • Finally Exploring My Dark Side Down Under! by Lisa de Nikolits
  • The First Novel by Robert Gott
  • A Little Too Close: Writing Turbulent Wake by Paul E Hardisty
  • On Phryne Fisher by Kerry Greenwood
  • Finding Common Themes by David Kilner
  • Murder in New Zealand by Sara Johnson
  • Consultant Turns to Crime by Mark McGinn
  • I Still Call Australia Home by Jennifer Lane
  • A Beautiful Place for a Murder by Trish McCormack
  • Mastering the Craft by Thomas Ryan
  • Real Crime to Crime Fiction: An Aussie Ex-Cop Turned Crime Novelist by A.B. Patterson
  • God in a Swivel Chair by Jock Serong
  • New Zealand’s Lovely Darkness by Nalini Singh
  • Kiwi Crime  — Our New New Zealand Reality by Vanda Symon
  • A Nice Place To Do Crime by Peter Temple
  • From Classical Music to a Deaf Detective by Emma Viskic
  • The Convict Streak by Dave Warner
  • Murder in Retrospect: Reviews by Tuhin Giri, Vinnie Hansen, L.J. Roberts, Susan C. Shea, and Craig Sisterson
  • The Children’s Hour: Mystery Down Under by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Mysteries Down Under by Marvin Lachman
  • Crime Seen: Six Feet Down Under by Kate Derie
  • Real Crime Down Under by Cathy Pickens
  • Murder, Past Tense: Patricia Carlon, Woman of Mystery by Sue Feder
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph