Monday, September 30, 2019


The new conference Capital Crime announced their award winners. 

Best Crime Novel of the Year:
Ian Rankin's In a House of Lies

Best Mystery:
Ian Rankin's In a House of Lies

Best Thriller:
Mick Herron's London Rules

Best Debut Novel:
Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer

Best e-Book:
C.L. Taylor's Sleep

Independent Voice:
Will Dean's Red Snow

Best Audiobook:
Stuart Turton's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Read by Jot Davies

Best Television Show:
Killing Eve

Best Feature Film:
Black Klansman

And, the shortlists:

HT: Erin Mitchell

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Crime Fiction set during the Days of Awe: Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, begins tonight. The Days of Awe are the days between the beginning of the New Year and Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. That a murder would take place on Yom Kippur (or during the Days of Awe) runs counter to Jewish belief. Let's hope murders only take place in fiction!

Here's a short list of Mysteries that take place on Rosh Hashana, the Days of Awe, and/or Yom Kippur. As always, I welcome any additions to this list.

Mysteries set during the Days of Awe

Three Weeks in October by Yael Dayan
The Day of Atonement by Breck England
Days of Atonement by Michael Gregorio
The Yom Kippur Murder by Lee Harris
A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn
Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
The Day of Atonement by David Liss
A Possibility of Violence by D.A. Mishani
Nights of Awe by Harri Nykanen
Devil Among Us by Jack Winnick

Short Stories:  

Murder is no Mitzvah: Short Mysteries about Jewish Occasions
Mystery Midrash: An Anthology of Jewish Mystery & Detective Fiction, edited by Lawrence W. Raphael
Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishia
"The Lord is my Shamus" by Barb Goffman

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

2019 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Shortlist

The Center for Fiction announced that debut novels by Chia-Chia Lin, Julia Phillips, Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Ocean Vuong, Joe Wilkins, Lauren Wilkinson, and De’Shawn Charles Winslow are shortlisted for the 2019 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize! The finalists will read from their books and celebrate their achievement with the wider literary community at their First Novel Fête on December 9, 2019, to be held at our downtown Brooklyn location. The following evening, they will present the award to the winner at the Center’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City.


The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Knopf)
Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad (Riverhead Books)
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press)
Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins (Little, Brown and Company)
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Random House) 
In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (Bloomsbury)

The First Novel Prize, launched in 2006, was created as part of the literary nonprofit’s central mission to promote the art of storytelling and help further the careers of new writers. This annual prize carries a $10,000 cash award. Each of the other shortlisted authors will receive a $1,000 award.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Death in Focus: The Start of Something New: Guest Post by Anne Perry

Death in Focus: The Start of Something New

I have just started to write a new series. There are only so many days in a year, so why undertake something so risky by abandoning the old and trusted characters, settings and general format? For adventure, to leave the familiar before I grow tired of them, and so do others. For the fun of creating new characters with new relationships, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. And even more appealing to me: to address other and different issues, perhaps even more relevant to today.

Where do I begin? With a subject I have wanted to address for about 9 years and has become more immediate through the time between. Setting? One that has fascinated me for a long time: the 1930s. Place? England and Western Europe. Situation? The rise of Hitler and Nazism. The issue? How did this happen then, and can it and will it happen again? How much are we responsible for what we see and do nothing about?

But of course it needs a specific plot, and that was far more difficult. I struggled with it for quite a long time. It must move swiftly and every change must be believable, all the way to a climax that satisfies. I made more than one false start. But I learned, went back and began again. Finally, I found the plot that was international in one thread and completely personal in another. And believable, because on the international level it actually happened.

Next, I needed characters. I always had the main ones: a young woman who had disgraced herself by falling in love inappropriately with someone who betrayed her. Who hasn’t done something like that? A thread that drew her inexorably into the plot, her danger, her resolve, and ultimately the courage and the intelligence to play the winning hand.

Then I needed to make her personal, not just a collection of characteristics. Absolutely vital, she must have passion, vulnerability, humor, and something that made her unique. And you have to identify with her sufficiently to like her. I never know whether I have got that or not. How much of myself do I put into her?

There must be other characters too of course. For a start there must be an individual villain whose point of view is understandable and believable. Weak villains ruin a story, like trying to run a race with a wooden leg. I changed him several times.

I gave my heroine a background and a family drawn in bits and pieces from my own family, with all their idiosyncrasies and crosscurrents of emotion. Consequently I loved and understood them all, or felt as if I did. They were all changed, of course, set back in time, altered in occupation. But the idiosyncrasies remained, the humour, the care. It was great fun and I think it worked. Settings! What a dream exclamation this is, where I can indulge all sorts of daydreams. I can use some of the most beautiful places. So I began in Amalfi, on the Italian coast a little ways south of Naples. You can visit any time of year. I chose May because of the world events, one of which was a turning point in my story.

From Amalfi, I moved by train. I love the 1930s trains, especially the Orient Express. But rather than the full journey, I only went from Naples to Rome and Milan, then most of the way to Paris. Anybody taking a trip on one of those gorgeous trains would mingle with glamorous and dangerous people, dressed in chic 1930s clothes, at a time when the world was still haunted by the terrible losses of World War I, and yet still dancing to fabulous music along the razor's edge between light and darkness, inching closer towards World War II.

Crisis number one. Train stations in the night. Violence and danger.

Crisis number two. Tragedy and an unexpected diversion to Berlin. As a writer, I wonder what big scenes I can place there. Which has a bigger impact: masses of people questioning a huge event or a pivotal change of direction? I think the latter. It’s equally important to have characters who grip the imagination with terror, admiration, love, grief…anything that changes the stakes and brings the reader major fear and even gut wrenching horror, because we know the terror and the violence that is to come.

Horror means different things to different people. One thing that has always haunted me is madness. I don't mean purely mental distress, but the realization that someone is unreachable by any sort of reason, pity, or other humanity. People you thought were basically more or less like you, but who you discovered that you have no meeting point whatsoever. Those people are more frightening than animals for the primary reason that you think they are human until you look in their eyes, and there is nothing looking back at you.

If you are going to frighten other people, first frighten yourself. I think of how the war ended and how it still haunts all of our imaginations.

I created a series of mounting tensions, physical danger, and a climax which resolves the whole story—I hope. I left a few threads that tie this book to the next one in the series, featuring the same characters that my heroine loves, fears, laughs with, and grieves for. Did I succeed? I don't know yet, but it stretched every writing muscle I have. I have written the second, and i'm thinking about the details of the third.

Did I enjoy it? Oh yes! I feel excited, renewed, and highly nervous, but not for a moment do I regret it. The possibilities are immense.

New York Times bestseller Anne Perry sheds light on the writer’s process as she dives into a brand new series featuring her first, most fearless heroine, Elena Standish.

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