Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Hindsight

EDGAR AWARD NOMINATIONS: Mystery Writers of America

Mystery Writers of America announced the Nominees for the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2019. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 74th Gala Banquet, April 30, 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.


Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The River by Peter Heller (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Books)
Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)


My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Penguin Random House - Berkley)
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Farrar Straus and Giroux)
The Good Detective by John McMahon (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Three-Fifths by John Vercher (Polis Books – Agora Books)
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Penguin Random House – Random House)


Dread of Winter by Susan Alice Bickford (Kensington Publishing)
Freedom Road by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Blood Relations by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Mariner Books)
February’s Son by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)
The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)
The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press)


The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott (Penguin Random House - Crown)
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Penguin Random House - Viking)
Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan (Counterpoint Press)
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin (Counterpoint Press)


Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of Collins Crime Club by John Curran (Collins Crime Club)
Medieval Crime Fiction: A Critical Overview by Anne McKendry (McFarland)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle 
Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Hachette Book Group – Basic Books)


“Turistas," from Paque Tu Lo Sepas by Hector Acosta (Down & Out Books)
“One of These Nights," from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)
“The Passenger," from Sydney Noir by Kirsten Tranter (Akashic Books)
“Home at Last," from Die Behind the Wheel: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Steely Dan by Sam Wiebe (Down & Out Books)
“Brother’s Keeper," from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Dave Zeltserman (Dell Magazine)


The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Whispers by Greg Howard (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books – Paula Wiseman Books)


Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Killing November by Adriana Mather (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Penguin Young Readers - Kokila)
The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (Bloomsbury Publishing)


“Season 5, Episode 3” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Season 5, Episode 4” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Dublin Murders, Teleplay by Sarah Phelps (STARZ)
“Episode 1” – Manhunt, Teleplay by Ed Whitmore (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – The Wisting, Teleplay by Katherine Valen Zeiner & Trygve Allister Diesen (Sundance Now)


“There’s a Riot Goin’ On," from Milwaukee Noir by Derrick Harriell (Akashic Books)
* * * * * *

The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Harlequin – Graydon House)
Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)
Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley (Kensington Publishing)
The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)
* * * * * *

Shamed by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books)
Borrowed Time by Tracy Clark ( Kensington Publishing)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington Publishing)
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Alchemist’s Illusion by Gigi Pandian (Midnight Ink)
Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon (Cincos Puntos Press)

The Edgar Awards, or “Edgars,” as they are commonly known, are named after MWA’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses some 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents.

Mystery Writers of America would like to emphasize our commitment to diversity and fairness in the judging of the Edgar Awards. Judges are selected from every region of the country, from every sub-category of our genre, and from every demographic to ensure fairness and impartiality.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

AGATHA NOMINEES: Malice Domestic

Malice Domestic announced the 2019 Agatha Award Nominees. Winners will be announced at Malice Domestic 32 (May 1-3)

Best Contemporary Novel
Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
Fair Game by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
A Better Man by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Murder List by Hank Philippi Ryan (Forge)

Best First Mystery Novel
A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House, a division of Harlequin)
Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins (Minotaur)
When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano (Encircle Publications)
Staging for Murder by Grace Topping (Henery Press)

Best Historical Mystery 
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen (Penquin)
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
The Pearl Dagger by L. A. Chandlar (Kensington)
Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan (Winter Goose Publishing)

Best Nonfiction
Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)
Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles by Julia Bricklin (Lyons Press)
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)

Best Children/Young Adult
Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak (Disney Hyperion)
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen MacManus (Delacorte Press)
The Last Crystal by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Press)
Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)
by Robin Stevens (Puffin)
Jada Sly, Artist and Spy by Sherri Winston (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Best Short Story
"Grist for the Mill" by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
"Alex’s Choice" by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
"The Blue Ribbon" by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
"The Last Word" by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
"Better Days" by Art Taylor in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Dogs: Guest post by Thriller Writer Joseph Finder


A couple of years ago the serial autobiographer Karl Ove Knausgaard asked, in The New Yorker, “Has a single good author ever owned a dog?” No offense, Karl, but that question, to borrow a Chris Evans line from the movie “Knives Out,” was stupid with two o’s. The internet bristles with rejoinders — oh yeah? how about Anton Chekhov’s dachshunds? Or Faulkner’s Jack Russell terriers? Or Virginia Woolf and her beloved cocker spaniel, Pinka? Woolf even wrote a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, Flush. Emily Brontë’s dog Keeper was so grief-stricken after Brontë’s death that he howled outside her bedroom door for weeks. An early draft of Of Mice and Men was shredded and eaten by John Steinbeck’s setter puppy, Toby. (“Two months of work, gone,” he lamented.) There’s a great picture of Edith Wharton posing with a Chihuahua perched on each shoulder. Anyway I could go on, and on, at the risk of burning out my Google machine.

My point is that right now I am dogless.

This is a sad state of affairs that I hope to remedy soon. A dogless life is lived in black and white.

Until her death a couple of years ago I was owned by Mia, a Golden Retriever. We adopted her from The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey, which trains dogs — Goldens and Labs and German Shepherds, mostly — as guide dogs for the blind. Some dogs, failing to meet the school’s high standards, are given away for adoption. After some three years on the waiting list, we got a sudden phone call one day: a “gorgeous” two-year-old Golden Retriever named Mia was available. We had twenty four hours to say yes or no.

Understand, we knew nothing about this dog. But she was a Golden, and Goldens tend to be easy-going. She’d also gone through years of training, so we figured she’d be trainable. Mia had already worked with some blind people. She’d flunked out of dog-training school in her senior year, but it was for a good reason: she was too “friendly.” How could you go wrong with a dog that flunked out of training for being too friendly?

So we said yes, and drove down to Morristown to meet this dog whom we’d accepted sight unseen. But first we had to be interviewed, to make sure we were fit adoptive parents. From the next room we could hear frantic canine whining and squealing, accompanied by some kind of crashing sound.

“That’s Mia,” said the woman, Judy, who was interviewing us. She sounded almost apologetic. Once we’d passed, Judy went to get Mia from the room across the hall.

A moment later there was a blurred motion—a dog came flying through the air into our room—and a cloud of fur floating in the air, and the dog came at me like a guided missile. She knocked me to the floor and proceeded to lick my face, to smother me with kisses.

We’d been expecting a docile, obedient, sober-sided canine and what we got instead was a rebel. Boisterous and affectionate and loving beyond belief, but not a conformist. It took us a while to come to the realization that Mia was in fact clever. She’d escaped a life of servitude. Seeing-eye dogs have to be on duty nearly all the time, doing their wonderful work for the blind. Mia wasn’t having any of that. Let other dogs be dutiful and submissive; Mia just wanted to have fun.

Once we got her home and my wife was eating her lunch, a burger, Mia dove through the air to nab it — but taking only the bun and ignoring the burger, which fell on the floor. She turned out to have a particular affinity for French bread, particularly sourdough. If you left a sourdough baguette on the kitchen counter, Mia would somehow find a way to scramble up there. Goldens are famously food-motivated, but Mia took it to another level. She was an outlaw with a jones for bread. If she saw some, she snagged it. She couldn’t resist. We had to hide our bread in high, inaccessible places.

One day she stole an enormous bar of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s that my dad had left on the counter, not imagining my dog could easily get up there. We had to make her drink peroxide, in order to make her vomit up the dangerous stomachful. Chocolate can be deadly to certain breeds of dogs, including Goldens.

Make no mistake, she was no blond bimbo. She knew plenty of commands and even obeyed them when she felt like it. As she grew older and her face whitened, she calmed down, mellowed a bit. But she remained adamantly puppyish.

Once I tried bringing her to my office, a few blocks away from our apartment. Writing is a solitary business, and I was maybe envisioning her curled at my feet under my desk, sighing contentedly as I finished a chapter. I’m actually not sure what I had in mind.

But Mia had other ideas. When she wasn’t asking to go out, she just wanted to play. She’d bring me a tennis ball. She’d nudge me. She’d grunt. She constantly wanted attention. She made it impossible to focus. She was not good for productivity. She wasn’t a work dog, but she had other, deeper talents. If you were sad or stressed, she’d come sit beside you and sometimes even pat you with her paw.

Sometimes, when I’m on deadline, I find myself getting up at four in the morning to write. Mia quickly figured this out. So she started waking me up at right around four every morning — I mean, within five minutes either side of four. I have no idea how she did it, but after making sure I got up, she returned to her bed and went back to sleep and didn’t ask for food until it was light outside. She was a reliable canine alarm clock.

Somehow Mia was so tuned into me that she knew when I was returning home from work. Ten minutes before I arrived, she’d start whining, pacing. I could hear her throwing herself at the front door as I approached.

One morning when she was nearly fourteen, she wouldn’t get up. After a few hours of this, we took her to the animal emergency room. They told us she had cancer, that she’d bled internally so much that she lacked the energy to stand. We put her through an arduous and expensive surgery, but the tumors came right back. We made the agonizing decision to put her down, rather than let her die in pain, feeling, our vet said, like she was drowning.

The terrible time came, and we surrounded Mia. My wife was the one who held her, and in the last few seconds of her life, Mia reached out to my sobbing wife and patted her hand with a consoling paw.

No dog can ever replace Mia, I know that, but the author needs his dog. We’re on the waiting list for another dropout.

JOSEPH FINDER is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen previous novels, including Judgment, The Switch, Guilty Minds, The Fixer, and Suspicion. Finder's international bestseller Killer Instinct won the International Thriller Writers' Thriller Award for Best Novel of 2006. Other bestselling titles include Paranoia and High Crimes, which both became major motion pictures. In his new thriller, House on Fire, private investigator Nick Heller is hired to infiltrate a powerful family whose wealth and reputation hide something far more sinister.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Magic of Cats: Guest post by Clea Simon

Happy Caturday! Today we have a wonderful 'cat' post from mystery Author Clea Simon!

The Magic of Cats

It took me 26 books, but I’m finally back where I started – exploring the magic of cats. Because, yes, my new cozy An Incantation of Cats, draws on the premise I established last year, with A Spell of Murder, that is, that my human protagonist might want to be a witch but it is really her three felines that have the supernatural powers. But as I launch Incantation into the world (and dig in to start book three in the “Witch Cats of Cambridge” series, tentatively titled A Felony of Felines), I find myself once more exploring the lore and legends that have surrounded cats for millennia.

Long ago, and in another world, I was a journalist. I wrote nonfiction books on serious subjects, like mental health and family dysfunction. But when a friend – a non-cat person, I should note – suggested I turn my research and writing chops toward felines, the idea immediately clicked. Yes, I wanted to write about cats. At that point, I had cohabited with Cyrus, an elegant long-haired gray gentleman, for several years, and I knew that many of my friends and colleagues had similar close relationships with their pets. But being a journalist, I wanted to dig a bit. And so I did, researching the various roles felines have played as gods and goddesses (from the Middle East’s Inanna and Bastet to the Americas, where the Olmecs worshipped a half-jaguar deity). I also found numerous incidents of felines being power adjacent – partnering with deities (usually women) in mystical ways. The Norse goddess Freya, for example, rides a chariot drawn by black cats, a precursor to our more modern concept of the witch and her (flying) familiar.

As I did my research, the rationale for such linkages became clear. Cats, with their excellent night vision, were believed to be capable of seeing in the dark, while their flexibility made them appear to be able to shape shift and fly, if not actually confound death. Their fecundity and apparent ease producing litters of multiple kittens made them exemplars for childbirth. Add in their beauty and sensuality – that fur, that grace – and it’s no wonder that cats became linked with the magics, the mysteries, of women. Birth, death, the ability to see beyond this world … well, the resulting book, The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Death kind of wrote itself.

In that book, I wove real-life stories, including that of me and Cyrus, in with the mythology. But while acknowledging the symbolism, I kept the present-day accounts grounded in the everyday. We love these beasts as they are, I wanted to say. And that’s fine. But in the years since, I’ve found myself observing my cats – Musetta, after Cyrus, and now Thisbe – with growing wonder. How did she just appear like that? Could he have really known how I was feeling?

Once I started to ask myself what other powers do these truly wonderful animals might have, I was hooked – and I came up with three cats – “weird sisters” – who each have their own supernatural power. And, to me, this makes perfect sense. I’ve either become more fanciful, or … could it be? Maybe that’s the secret of cat magic. Once they draw you in, they refuse to let you go.

Clea Simon is the author of An Incantation of Cats and 25 other mysteries, most involving cats. A former journalist, she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband Jon and their marvelous tortie Thisbe. She can be reached at  

Monday, January 13, 2020


Left Coast Crime 2020, “Murder’s a Beach,” will be presenting four Lefty Awards at the 30th annual LCC convention, to be held in San Diego in March: humorous, historical, debut, and best. The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 14, at the Marriot Mission Valley in San Diego. The award nominees have been selected by this and last years’ convention registrants.
LCC is delighted to announce the 2020 Lefty nominees for books published in 2019. Congratulations to all!
Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. The nominees are:
Ellen Byron, Fatal Cajun Festival (Crooked Lane Books)
Leslie Karst, Murder from Scratch (Crooked Lane Books)
Cynthia Kuhn, The Subject of Malice (Henery Press)
Catriona McPherson, Scot & Soda (Midnight Ink)
Wendall Thomas, Drowned Under (Poisoned Pen Press)
Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel for books set before 1970. The nominees are:
L.A. Chandlar, The Pearl Dagger (Kensington Books)
Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (Kensington Books)
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Body in Griffith Park (Seventh Street Books)
Sujata Massey, The Satapur Moonstone (Soho Crime)
Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel. The nominees are:
Tori Eldridge, The Ninja Daughter (Agora Books)
Angie Kim, Miracle Creek (Sarah Crichton Books)
Tara Laskowski, One Night Gone (Graydon House)
John Vercher, Three-Fifths (Agora Books)
Carl Vonderau, Murderabilia (Midnight Ink)
Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories). The nominees are:
Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay (Ecco)
Tracy Clark, Borrowed Time (Kensington Books)
Matt Coyle, Lost Tomorrows (Oceanview Publishing)
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down (Forge Books)
Attica Locke, Heaven, My Home (Mulholland Books)
The Left Coast Crime Convention is an annual event sponsored by mystery fans, both readers and authors. Held in the western half of North America, LCC’s intent is to host an event where readers, authors, critics, librarians, publishers, and other fans can gather in convivial surroundings to pursue their mutual interests. Lefty Awards have been given since 1996.
The 30th annual Left Coast Crime Convention will take place in San Diego, California, March 
12–15, 2020. This year’s Guests of Honor are authors Rachel Howzell Hall and T. Jefferson Parker. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is the Fan Guest of Honor, and author Matt Coyle will serve as Toastmaster.
Left Coast Crime is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation holding annual mystery conventions in the West. Each LCC convention raises money to support a local literary organization and is staffed entirely by volunteers.
For more information on Left Coast Crime 2020, please visit

Trilogies: Guest Post by Peter Robinson


Publishers are wary of promoting trilogies until they are finished for two reasons: first, the author might never finish the third book, and second, people might be put off buying books two and three unless they have read book one. I tried to get around that problem by having each book include a mystery of its own, which takes up the majority of the space, as well as an ongoing story to be told in stages throughout the three books. You can certainly read Many Rivers to Cross without first reading Careless Love, as it was relatively easy to recap what had already happened in the ongoing story.

The process is really not much different from reading a series in general. People often ask me if they should start with the first book, or dive in anywhere. I usually suggest the latter, but I also know that some people just have to start with the first one. And they know who they are! But really, you can start anywhere in the series, or in the trilogy. Your reading experience might be slightly different if you’ve read previous books and know more of the background, but it wouldn’t be better or worse.

At the time I started writing Many Rivers to Cross, there was a great deal in the UK news about ‘county lines,’ a new method of drug distribution. The dealers in big cities send sub-dealers—often young children—back and forth between smaller outlying towns and villages, where they use the home of a drug addict or vulnerable person as a base. The ‘county line’ is a dedicated mobile phone line, through which people in the villages can place orders, which are then delivered. It’s kind of like the Amazon Prime of selling drugs. Naturally, it’s a dangerous business, with its own turf wars, and it seemed to me ripe territory for development into crime fiction. The young victim in the book is a Syrian refugee who, unable to find his British relatives after a horrendous journey across Europe, drifted from homelessness into the world of county lines. His murder is the crime that Detective Superintendent Alan Banks, DI Annie Cabbot and the team investigate in Many Rivers to Cross. The title is taken from the well-known song, of course. There are many versions, but I prefer the one by Jimmy Cliff.

The ongoing story—told across three novels—involves a beautiful young woman called Zelda, who was kidnapped outside the orphanage in Moldova she was leaving at the age of eighteen and sold into sex slavery. She has escaped from this life and is living with Annie Cabbot’s artist father, who has moved up to Yorkshire. Zelda is a super-recogniser—she never forgets a face—and is using her talent to help the police identify sex-traffickers from surveillance photographs and videos. In her work, Zelda comes across a photograph of an old enemy of Banks’s—a man called Phil Keane, who tried to kill him by setting fire to his house, with Banks inside, in Playing with Fire—and she offers to help Banks and Annie track him down. Unknown to Banks, however, she also has her own agenda, which involves eliminating some of the people who abused her over the years.

And don’t worry, I’m already into the third and final book, which is called Not Dark Yet (Bob Dylan, this time), which should bring all the loose ends together and, I hope, provide a satisfying resolution for everyone.


Peter Robinson is the author of the Inspector Banks series. The 26th novel in this series proves that Peter Robinson is the “master of the procedural.” Many Rivers to Cross features Detective Alan Banks and his team investigating a murder with possible racial undertones. The book takes a look at some of our most pressing issues of today including hate crimes, sex trafficking and sexual assault as Banks and his team investigate these heinous murders in the town of Eastvale.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

John le Carré wins Olof Palme Prize and donates the $100,000 to Charity

 Here's some good news!

From LitHub:

John le Carré, perhaps history’s greatest spy novelist, is the latest recipient of the $100,000 Olof Palme Prize, an award given for “an outstanding achievement in any of the areas of anti-racism, human rights, international understanding, peace and common security.”

In their citation, the prize organizers praised le Carré “for his engaging and humanistic opinion-making in literary form regarding the freedom of the individual and the fundamental issues of mankind,” and called his career “an extraordinary contribution to the necessary fight for freedom, democracy and social justice.”
Le Carré—whose has penned some of the most iconic works of spy fiction of the last half-century, including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and The Night Manager—usually steers clear of the awards circuit and even turned down a Man Booker International Prize nomination in 2011, saying that while he was “enormously flattered,” he did not compete for literary prizes. On this occasion, however, le Carré has made an exception, while also stating that he will donate the sizable winnings to the international humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières.  (Doctors without Borders)

The Olof Palme Prize itself honors the spirit of Swedish prime minister and revolutionary reformist Palme, who was gunned down on on a Stockholm street while walking back from the cinema with his wife in 1986.

Ross Thomas's Briarpatch coming to TV!

Ross Thomas's Briarpatch is coming to USA Network on February 6! 

Briarpatch follows Allegra Dill (Dawson), a dogged investigator returning to her border-town Texas home after her sister is murdered. What begins as a search for a killer turns into an all-consuming fight to bring her corrupt hometown to its knees. The season celebrates the beloved genres represented by Ross Thomas’ book -- a stylish blend of crime and pulp fiction -- while updating his sense of fun, danger and place for a new generation.
The season also stars Jay R. Ferguson (Mad Men, The Romanoffs), Brian Geraghty (Chicago P.D., Ray Donovan), and Edi Gathegi (StartUp). The first season will shoot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Friday, January 10, 2020

VERA Season 10 coming to BritBox !!!

News on Vera: Season 10 begins will premiere exclusively on BritBox on January 21st, with new episodes dropping not too long, after they initially air in the UK.

The tenth series will be made up of four self-contained mysteries inspired by Ann Cleeves's best-selling Vera Stanhope novels.

Of the new series, Brenda Blethyn said: “Vera is said to be the longest running ITV drama series with a female lead. Who would have thought somebody as shambolic as Vera, looking like she does, would have such an appeal? It’s great.”

Along with Brenda Blethyn in the lead, Kenny Doughty returns as DS Aiden Healy, DCI Stanhope's loyal and dedicated partner.

Other members of the team include Jon Morrison as DC Kenny Lockhart, Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards, Ibinabo Jack as DC Jacqueline Williams and Paul Kaye as Pathologist Dr. Malcolm Donahue.


Read Ann Cleeves's Vera Stanhope novels:

The Crow Trap (1999)
Telling Tales (2005)
Hidden Depths (2007)
Silent Voices (2011)
The Glass Room (2012)
Harbour Street (2014)
The Moth Catcher (2015)
The Seagull (2017)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Who Wrote the Book of Love?


Mystery Readers Journal: Private Eyes II (Volume 35:4: Winter 2019/20) is available as a PDF and hardcopy. Subscriber copies will be available later this week. PDF Contributor Copies will go out today. This is the second installment of this theme. Private Eyes I is still available. Thanks to everyone who contributed to these issues. 

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

  • Mr. Daly, Mr. Hammett and a Paternity Test by Kevin Burton Smith
  • Solving Life Itself: Why We Still Love Robert B. Parker’s PIs by Jodi Compton
  • A 30-Minute Dose of Gumshoe by M.A. Monnin
  • Pushing the Private Eye Envelope by Jonathan Woods
  • San Francisco’s Finest—Candy Matson, Yukon 2-8209 by Jack French
  • Hard-Boiled Halley by Jim Doherty
  • The Private Eye as Cold-Warrior: Hammer vs. the Hammer and Sickle by J. L. Abramo
  • Best Places to Buy Burner Phones by Rona Bell
  • Natalie McMasters: A PI for the New Millennium by Thomas A. Burns, Jr.
  • Private Eyes: Past and Present by Grant Bywaters
  • My PIs, Me by Reed Farrel Coleman
  • The Danger of Mixing Truth and Fiction by Robin Donovan
  • The Scariest Detective by Alison Gaylin
  • The Accidental Crime Novelist by Howard Michael Gould
  • Obsessed with Writing by Joe Ide
  • How Weird Is My Private Eye? by Susan Kuchinskas
  • Today or Yesterday’s Private Eye? by Jerry Kennealy
  • Why Go Down Those Mean Streets? by Dana King
  • Why I Love PI Novels by D.P. Lyle
  • Knights in Tarnished Armor by Paul D. Marks
  • TV PIs Aren’t Real—You Know That, Right? by Steve Pease
  • I’m Baaaack! A Return to My First Love by Robert J. Randisi
  • Magic Eye by Janet Roger
  • Discovering A Columbus Private Eye by Andrew Welsh-Huggins
  • iPrivateEye by John Shepphird
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, John Dwaine McKenna, L.J. Roberts
  • The Private Dicks’ Decalogue by Jim Doherty
  • The Children’s Hour: Private Eyes by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • Real Private Eyes by Cathy Pickens
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Monday, January 6, 2020

Call for Articles: Environmental & Wildlife Mysteries


The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 36:1) will focus on mysteries featuring Environmental & Wildlife Mysteries.

We're looking for Reviews, Articles, and Author! Author! essays.

Reviews: 50-250 words; Articles: 250-1000 words; Author! Author! essays: 500-1500 words.

Author essays are first person, about yourself, your books, and your unique 'Wildlife and/or Environmental' connection. Think of it as chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe about your work and your  Environmental/Wildlife connection. Add title and 2-3 sentence bio/tagline.

Deadline: February 1, 2020

Here's a link to Mystery Readers Journal. Past themed issues.

Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor. janet @

Please forward this request to anyone you think should be included.

Cartoon of the Day: Sherlock Holmes


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Earl Staggs: R.I.P.

Sad News. Earl Staggs: R.I.P. 

Earl Staggs passed away yesterday. Staggs earned a long list of Five Star reviews for his novels Memory of a Murder and Justified Action and twice received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine, as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, is a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars.

Read Kaye Wilkinson Barley's beautiful tribute here.

Cartoon of the Day: Sparking Joy!

Happy Caturday!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs on the Bed

The Challenges of Character: Guest Post by Alex Marwood

Alex Marwood:
The Challenges of Character

One of the joys of the crime genre, and one of the reasons I think it’s one of the greatest places for discussing the human condition, is the huge freedom it contains. Ten years ago, I was another sort of writer, straddling “chick lit” (oh, how I hate that phrase) and literary writing, and the pressure, in those genres, to present protagonists with whom the reader would identify was immense. In theory, of course, one wants one’s readers to recognise themselves – or the broader human condition, at least – in the characters one writes, but the practice often forces one into a deadened pedestrianism, afraid of giving offence to those
who regard minor character flaws as major sins.

The glory of the crime genre is that even our heroes, our central protags, are allowed great gaping chasms of failing, limitation, of prejudice and stupidity – for the Crime genre is as much concerned with how things go wrong as with how they can be put right. Our world is one where terrible outcomes are as much the product of human weakness as they are some Manichean narrative of Good vs Evil. Sometimes reviewers complain that my books contain no role models or people they personally like, and though that makes me a little sad (the way I’d be sad if you didn’t like my children), I think I’d be far more upset if they complained that they were bores. To me, the psychology of failure, of bad decision-making and false assumptions, will always be more interesting than the honestly-all-looks-a-bit-the-same of the blandly virtuous.

But then, there’s the downside. For if you’re writing about failed and flawed and even wicked human beings, that also means you are choosing to live with them. Because that is literally what writers do: we live at close quarters with our characters. To write these imaginary individuals, I have to inhabit their psyches, delving further and deeper into them until I understand what drives them, and I have to learn to treat them with sympathy, with kindness. And the people a reader spends 10, 20 hours with live with me, their progenitor, for a couple of years as I wrestle their story from the grey and learn to forgive them their failings.

I mean, seriously – you didn’t identify with anyone? Try being me. These imaginary friends (and enemies, and villains) may be entirely the product of my own florid imagination, but to work on the page, they really do need to start walking and talking and making their own decisions, and that can make for uncomfortable companionship.

Some of them are frankly horrible – but still I have to learn who they are rather than walking away as I would in real life. Some of my central protagonists – Mila, or Cher and Vesta in The Killer Next Door – I have loved dearly. Mila, who’s complicated and flawed, and has many unattractive characteristics, was quite easy, for me; I enjoyed her company. We had situations and family dynamics very much in common, right down to the not-so-well suppressed internal rage and tendency to self-sabotage. Both Cher and Vesta, plucky and brave in an unhospitable world, always made me feel protective however frustrating they were, and I had to get to the end of that book simply to make sure that they would be okay.

Romy, though – the central character of my new novel, The Poison Garden – now, there was a challenge. She fascinated me more than any other character I’ve written and, I think, drove me to the edge of insanity from time to time. Raised in a cult and, though her belief in her leaders has been destroyed, still a slave to the beliefs that that cult has planted in her, I found her both the most frightening and yet the most pitiable character I’ve had to live with in my years of writing. And, as in many ways we are diametrical opposites – I’m a contrarian to a degree that is in itself a character flaw as well as a strength, and which has certainly made me unpopular from time to time – the challenge of learning how it felt to be her was immense. People tend to think of cult members as emotionally deadened, invested only in their beliefs, and discovering the overwhelming emotions Romy also kept buried deep inside was a surprise, and a disturbing one. But that’s what happens if you stop and listen, a habit that’s woefully little practised in our current febrile political atmosphere. We need to stop and listen. Stopping and listening doesn’t mean you have to agree. But if you want to go beyond simple, destructive narratives of Good and Bad, of in groups and out groups and Us and Them, you have to listen, because only by listening will you see the other’s point of view and understand their humanity.

And this is one of the things I love the most about the writing process: that characterisation makes you more empathetic. Writers are selfish, self-obsessed, driven people; we have to be because honestly there are literally a million easier ways of making a living. And yet, if we’re doing our jobs as well as we can, we are at the same time forced to understand people who don't think like us – to root, despite it all, for their survival, their resolutions. It’s a strange dichotomy in the writerly personality, but I think ultimately a healthy urge, for without it we’d simply be self-obsessed and part of the problem. I started out disliking Romy, wondering why I had ever chosen to write someone whose thinking was so two-dimensional and goals so unchanging. After wrestling with her for a couple of years, and seeing her do some truly terrible things, I think I love and pity her more than anyone else I’ve ever imagined.

Alex Marwood won an Edgar for her first mystery novel, The Wicked Girls, and a Macavity for her second, The Killer Next Door. Her new novel, The Poison Garden, which follows what happens to the survivors of a cult suicide, will be published January 14, 2020. She lives in London, England and mostly works in bed.