Thursday, July 9, 2020

SCIASCIA: the Best Italian Mystery Writer You've Never Heard Of: Guest post by Vito Racanelli

The latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal focuses on Mysteries set in Italy. Vito Racanelli wrote two important articles for this issue, but unfortunately his essay about Leonardo Sciascia was omitted from the print and PDF versions. My fault. Apologies to Vito. I will be posting the article on the website, but here it is for you to read now. Check out Mystery Readers Journal: Italian Mysteries (36:2) for more information on Italian Mysteries.

SCIASCIA: the Best Italian Mystery Writer You've Never Heard Of

I fell in love with Leonardo Sciascia’s novels rather late in my reading life. Only in the last couple of years have I become acquainted with the contours of his dark Sicilian landscapes, a venal sin given I lived in Italy for several years. How did I miss this writer for so long?

There are many 20th century Italian novelists who are known internationally, Ferrante more lately, but also Moravia, Morante, Eco, Calvino, and Ginzburg. In Italy, Sciascia is recognized among the greats, with more than one Nobel nomination. Outside his native land, however, he is not. I’m not certain why this is, but perhaps it comes from being seen as a regional (Sicilian) writer of mysteries. Then some of his best works are slim, often less than 200 pages, about murder mainly, and hardly the introspective, moody doorstoppers that win prizes.

In reality, Sciascia (1921-1989) is a superb writer, a master of dialogue and silences, and one that critics have compared to Stendhal for his deft and haunting recreation of place, Sicily in his case. Like a painter that uses few strokes, his novels and stories manage to capture the island and its deep fatalism. He was born in Racalmuto, Sicily, just as Fascism was about to emerge, and as the brigands of old had already been replaced by their children, the Mafia.

Corruption of the state and society infiltrates his work, from feckless police investigations of murders to the inability of the people—cowed by fear—to act morally. Sciascia’s books do have lead characters that want to do the right thing, fervently and often at risk of their lives. It’s just that they don’t succeed, that they never will succeed, and that they are lucky to be still breathing in the closing pages. His detectives’ efforts are doomed to be deflected purposely by people in whose interest he operates.

Indeed, they are complicit. As The Day of the Owl, (Sciascia’s first novel, 1961) opens, a man is shot in the piazza in broad daylight, witnessed by several bus passengers and the local fritter seller. All melt away before the police arrive. Later the police question him about the shots: “ ‘Why?’ ” the fritter-seller answers, “…astonished and inquisitive, “ ‘has there been a shooting?’ ” It’s horrifying but his response is completely understood by all the characters, including the police.

Sciascia does this all in what seems simple crime fiction and a mystery, where the silences are as important as the prose. When questions are asked, answers sometimes are given or not, and sometimes there’s just a turn of the face, a movement of the hands. Who kills whom isn’t directly revealed, and yet the reader can know for the clues are there, in a cigar butt on the ground, for example, in To Each His Own, a favorite of mine, along with The Day of the Owl, and Equal Danger.

In Sciascia’s mysteries, rationality and the enlightenment fail to make more than a slight nick against a long Sicilian history of mistrust and deception, born of an island conquered by all and ruled by none, where civic action was left for centuries to an idle, despoiled Bourbon aristocracy, brigands and finally the mafia. The writer’s strained affection for the island comes through even as his is a critical judgement of a damaged and dysfunctional society. Many of his novels could easily be set in any small town in “il Mezzogiorno,” like the one my own parents abandoned. The poorer parts remain places of superstition, where dreams and nightmares mean much more than Freud could ever have imagined. These places all share the same benighted history.

Perhaps what I love most about Sciascia is that he doesn’t give readers the satisfaction of a crime solved or that somehow good won out. Indeed, he’s been called a pioneer of the “anti-detective” novel, where “order restored” is rejected. The bad aren’t found out, they aren’t punished. In fact, they go on doing all the terrible things they’ve been doing with implacable impunity. The people shrug their shoulders at evil, knowing it cannot be banished.

Although rationality fails in Sciascia’s world, there is a strange beauty to his detectives’ passionate fight against futility and resignation. His characters don’t brood. Instead, they go about their business as best as they can. In one scene in The Day of the Owl, the investigator, Captain Belled, a northerner sent from Parma to investigate a murder, questions mafia boss and suspect Don Arena. In a tarantella of wits, they discuss history, philosophy, the Catholic Church, sin, death, compassion and delusion. Arena is implicated but is never charged.

Belled faces a closed society in Sicily where Arena is simply the blunt and dangerous tip of a violent and mendacious organization whose tendrils go through local mayors and policeman across the strait of Messina all the way to ministers in Rome. The regular folk can do nothing but submit.

In Sciascia, the Mafia typically remains in the background, but its power coils thickly around the political and business machinery. I find the Ragana’ character, who appears only briefly in To Each His Own, as one of the most frightening organized crime characters I have ever encountered in ink. It’s not that he says much, waves a gun or even threatens. He is drawn simply, with a cheap cigar in his mouth, and a brazen look on his face of absolute confidence that he will not pay for his sins in this life. It’s as if he says, “If you are trying to find the killer, look no further.”

Sciascia, a prophet about the scourge of the Mafia, was once quoted as saying; “At a certain point in life, hope isn’t the last thing that dies, but death is the last hope.” Darker than that is hard to get. He might be the best Italian “mystery” writer you’ve never heard of. His novels just happen to include unsolved murder. But then that’s life, isn’t it.
Vito Racanelli is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer whose thriller, The Man in Milan, will be published by Polis Books this month. His short stories have been broadcast on the BBC’s Story Time as well as performed at Liar’s League NYC. He was formerly the AP-Dow Jones bureau chief for Italy.

Cartoon of the Day: Customer Service Department

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Mystery Readers International

Mystery Readers Journal is its 36th year of production. What an achievement. Thanks to everyone who has contributed over the years. Mystery Readers Journal is a thematic quarterly with reviews, articles, and author essays. Most of our back issues are available as PDF downloads or hardcopy. I thought I'd post a list of most of the back issues. Be sure and click to see the table of contents and sample articles from each issue.

Mystery Readers Journal Index

Follow the links to find the Table of Contents and sample articles from selected issues. To purchase back issues and subscribe to the Journal, visit the subscription page.


Volume 36, No. 1: Environmental Mysteries
Volume 36, No. 2: Italian Mysteries

Mystery in the American South


Volume 35, No. 1: Mystery in the American South II
Volume 35, No. 2: Mystery Down Under
Volume 35, No. 3: Private Eyes I
Volume 35, No. 4: Private Eyes II


Volume 34, No. 1: Gardening Mysteries (2018)
Volume 34, No. 2: Spies and Secret Agents
Volume 34, No. 3: Mystery in Asia
Volume 34, No. 4: Mystery in the American South I

Midwestern Mysteries 


Volume 33, No. 1: Midwestern Mysteries
Volume 33, No. 2: Murder in Wartime
Volume 33, No. 3: Big City Cops I
Volume 33, No. 4: Big City Cops II


Volume 32, No. 1: New York City Mysteries I
Volume 32, No. 2: New York City Mysteries II
Volume 32, No. 3: Small Town Cops I
Volume 32, No. 4: Small Town Cops II

Culinary Crime 2 


Volume 31, No. 1: Culinary Crime I
Volume 31, No. 2: Culinary Crime II
Volume 31, No. 3: Scottish Mysteries
Volume 31, No. 4: Forensic Mysteries


Volume 30, No. 1: Canadian Mysteries
Volume 30, No. 2: Extreme Weather Mysteries
Volume 30, No. 3: Bibliomysteries
Volume 30, No. 4: Scandinavian Mysteries

Chicago Mysteries 


Volume 29, No. 1: Environmental Mysteries
Volume 29, No. 2: Chicago Mysteries
Volume 29, No. 3: Murder in Transit
Volume 29, No. 4: Medical Mysteries


Volume 28, No. 1: Mysteries Set in France
Volume 28, No. 2: Legal Mysteries I
Volume 28, No. 3: Legal Mysteries II
Volume 28, No. 4: Florida Mysteries

Shrinks and Other Mental Health Professionals 


Volume 27, No. 1: London Mysteries I
Volume 27, No. 2: London Mysteries II
Volume 27, No. 3: Animal Mysteries
Volume 27, No. 4: Shrinks and Other Mental Health Professionals


Volume 26, No. 1: African Mysteries
Volume 26, No. 2: Paranormal Mysteries
Volume 26, No. 3: Island Mysteries
Volume 26, No. 4: Hobbies, Crafts & Special Interests

Los Angeles Mysteries I 


Volume 25, No. 1: Crime for the Holidays
Volume 25, No. 2: Los Angeles Mysteries I
Volume 25, No. 3: Los Angeles Mysteries II
Volume 25, No. 4: Sports Mysteries


Volume 24, No. 1: History Mysteries II
Volume 24, No. 2: Irish Mysteries
Volume 24, No. 3: San Francisco Mysteries I
Volume 24, No. 4: San Francisco Mysteries II

The Ethnic Detective I 


Volume 23, No. 1: The Ethnic Detective, Part I
Volume 23, No. 2: The Ethnic Detective, Part II
Volume 23, No. 3: Scandinavian Mysteries
Volume 23, No. 4: History Mysteries I


Volume 22, No. 1: Mysteries Set in Italy (Secondo)
Volume 22, No. 2: Murder in the Far East
Volume 22, No. 3: Academic Mysteries 101 (available only as a PDF)
Volume 22, No. 4: Academic Mysteries 202 (available only as a PDF)

Art Mysteries II 


Volume 21, No. 1: Art Mysteries I
Volume 21, No. 2: Art Mysteries II (available only as a PDF)
Volume 21, No. 3: Bibliomysteries (available only as a PDF)
Volume 21, No. 4: Mysteries Set in Italy (Primo)


Volume 20, No. 1: Religious Mysteries, Part 1
Volume 20, No. 2: Religious Mysteries, Part 2
Volume 20, No. 3: Gardening Mysteries (available only as a PDF)
Volume 20, No. 4: Murder Down Under

Music and Mysteries II 


Volume 19, No. 1: Mysteries South of the Mason-Dixon Line, Part II
Volume 19, No. 2: Music and Mysteries: Overture
Volume 19, No. 3: Music and Mysteries: Finale
Volume 19, No. 4: Cool Canadian Crime (available only as a PDF)


Volume 18, No. 1: Pacific Northwest Mysteries
Volume 18, No. 2: Culinary Crime: First Course (available only as a PDF)
Volume 18, No. 3: Culinary Crime: Second Seating (available only as a PDF)
Volume 18, No. 4: Mysteries South of the Mason-Dixon Line, Part I

New England Mysteries 


Volume 17, No. 1: New England Mysteries (unavailable)
Volume 17, No. 2: Partners in Crime I
Volume 17, No. 3: Partners in Crime II
Volume 17, No. 4: Oxbridge (unavailable)


Volume 16, No. 1: Legal Mysteries
Volume 16, No. 2: Mysteries Set in France
Volume 16, No. 3: The Senior Sleuth
Volume 16, No. 4: Southwestern Mysteries

Cross-Genre Mysteries 


Volume 15, No. 1: Cross-Genre Mysteries
Volume 15, No. 2: Chicago Mysteries
Volume 15, No. 3: The Short Mystery
Volume 15, No. 4: Florida Mysteries


Volume 14, No. 1: The Big Apple: New York Mysteries II
Volume 14, No. 2: The Ethnic Detective Part I (unavailable)
Volume 14, No. 3: The Ethnic Detective Part II (unavailable)
Volume 14, No. 4: Animal Mysteries

Murder In Transit 


Volume 13, No. 1: Medical Mysteries
Volume 13, No. 2: Mysterious Wilderness
Volume 13, No. 3: Murder in Transit
Volume 13, No. 4: The Big Apple: New York Mysteries I


Volume 12, No. 1: Technological Mysteries (unavailable)
Volume 12, No. 2: New Orleans Mysteries
Volume 12, No. 3: Sports Mysteries
Volume 12, No. 4: Academic Mysteries
Volume 11, No. 1: Suburban Mysteries
Volume 11, No. 2: San Francisco Mysteries
Volume 11, No. 3: Regional British Mysteries I (unavailable)
Volume 11, No. 4: Regional British Mysteries II (unavailable)

Monday, July 6, 2020


CrimeFest AWARDS! Congrats to all! Be sure to scroll down for the fabulous Awards Ceremony Video. Well done!

The 2020 CRIMEFEST Awards were due to be presented at a Gala Dinner during the convention at the Bristol Mercure Grand Hotel this June. In light of Covid-19, the winners were announced online and on social media.

Specsavers Crime Fiction Debut Award
Laura Shepherd-Robinson for Blood & Sugar (Mantle)

Audible Sounds of Crime Award
Lee Child for Blue Moon, read by Jeff Harding (Penguin Random House Audio)

eDunnit Award
Holly Watt for To The Lions (Raven Books)

H.R.F. Keating Award
John Curran for The Hooded Gunman (HarperCollins Crime Club)

Last Laugh Award
Helen FitzGerald for Worst Case Scenario (Orenda Books)

Best Crime Novel for Children Award (ages 8-12):
Thomas Taylor for Malamander (Walker Books)

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults Award (ages 12-16):
Kathryn Evans for Beauty Sleep (Usborne Publishing)


Jiro Kimura of The Gumshoe Site tells us that Walter Mosley has won the 2020 Falcon Award from The Maltese Falcon Society Japan for Down the River Unto the Sea for the best hardboiled/private eye novel published in Japan in the previous year.

Down the River, was published in the United Sates in 2018.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs


The Fourth of July (Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays, maybe because I was born in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation. If you've been to my house you know I collect patriotic embroideries and pottery. I'm big on Red, White, & Blue!

Fourth of July is the focus of this updated list of Fourth of July Crime Fiction. Even if you're not celebrating Independence Day, you can celebrate this great group of mysteries! Something for everyone's taste!

And don't miss my Summertime Mysteries List, Summer Sleuthing: Lazy, Hazy, Murderous Days of Summer! Have a great Independence Day!

Fourth of July Mysteries

The Fourth of July Wake by Harold Adams
Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon
Murder on Parade by Donald Bain (as Jessica Fletcher) 
Home of the Brave by Donna Ball  
Hair of the Dog by Laurien Berenson 
Murder by Fireworks by Susan Bernhardt
Jealousy Filled Donuts by Ginger Bolton
Plot Boiler by Ali Brandon 
The Cat Who Went Underground by Lilian Jackson Braun
Rockets' Red Glare by Lynn Cahoon
The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up by JoAnna Carl
Dead on the 4th of July by Meg Chittenden
Independence Day by Anne-Marie Clark
Twanged by Carol Higgins Clark
Oh Say Can You Fudge by Nancy Coco
BlackBuried Pie by Lyndsey Cole
Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle
The Carousel of Death by Elisabeth Crabtree
A Catered Fourth of July by Isis Crawford
Red, White, and Blue Murder
by Bill Crider
Firework Fiasco; Fireworks in Paradise by Kathi Daley
Guilty as Charred by Devon Delaney
Blood Red, White and Blue by Kathleen Delaney
Dead on the Fourth of July by R. E. Derouin
Four Dog's Sake by Lia Farrell
Blackberry Burial by Sharon Farrow
One Fete in the Grave by Vickie Fee
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Independence Slay by Shelley Freydont
Booneville Retribution by S. Furlong-Bollinger
Mistaken Identity by Patricia Gligor
Katelyn's Killer by John Gordon
Tool & Die, Triple Witch; Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves
Act Of Darkness by Jane Haddam
Bowled Over by Victoria Hamilton
Yankee Doodle Dead; Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart
Past Imperfect by Kathleen Hills
Death of a Cookbook Author by Lee Hollis
The Falls: Fourth of July by George Jackson
Exit Wounds by J. A. Jance
The Fourth of July by J.D. Kincaid
A Timely Vision; A Watery Death by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Silence of the Jams by Gayle Leeson
Die Like a Hero by Clyde Linsley
Knee High by the Fourth of July by Jess Lourey
Death on Nantucket by Francine Mathews
Left Hanging by Patricia McLinn
Star Spangled Murder by Leslie Meier
Cold Hard News by Maureen Milliken
Manic in Christmas River; Mayhem in Christmas River; Mutts & Murder by Meg Muldoon
Bats and Bones Karen Musser Nortman
A Fifth for the 4th of July by Doug Olsen and Julie Gollan
Foal Play by Kathryn O'Sullivan 
Iron Ties by Ann Parker
4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
The Body in the Birches by Katherine Hall Page
4th of July by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
King Suckerman by George P. Pelecanos
Can't Never Tell by Cathy Pickens
Firecrackered by Patricia Rockwell
Death by Deep Dish Pie by Sharon Short
The Dam Committee by Earl H. Smith
Killing Grounds by Dana Stabenow
And Four to Go ("Fourth of July Picnic") by Rex Stout
Independence Day Plague by Carla Lee Suson
Doggone Dead by Teresa Trent
Prepped for the Kill by A.E. H. Veenman
The 4th of July Can Be MURDER! by Dianne Warth Vereen
Thread and Gone by Lea Wait
Some Welcome Home by Sharon Wildwind
Star Spangled Murder by Valerie Wolzien
Embarking on Murder by Sue Owens Wright

Short Stories:
Rex Stout's "Fourth of July Picnic" in Century of Great Suspense Stories, Edited by Jeff Deaver
S. Furlong-Bolliger's "Booneville Retribution: 4th of July Mystery Short Story" in Kings River Life.
A Sparrow Falls Fourth of July in A Sparrow Falls Holiday by Donna McLean

Children’s Mysteries
Fireworks at the FBI (Capital Mysteries Series #6) by Ron Roy, Timothy Bush (Illustrator)
Murder On The Fourth of July by Carolyn Keene
The Philly Fake by David E. Kelly
Calendar Mysteries: July Jitters by Ron Roy and John Steven Gurney
The Case of the July 4th Jinx by Lewis B. Montgomery and Amy Wummer

True Crime:  
Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Betrayal, and Hate Crime in America by David A. Neiwert

As always, I welcome additions and comments.

Have a great holiday!!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

HOME SWEET HOMES: Guest Post by Riley Sager


I never intended to write a book about people moving into a house while I was also moving into a house. I’m not a Method writer. I don’t need to experience what my characters experience in order to write about them. But that’s what happened, quite by accident.

The book, incidentally, came first. I got the idea for Home Before Dark in November 2018 and, after writing a proposal, got the go-ahead from my editor and agent that December. The plan was to write a book about a woman named Maggie who, as a child, lived in an allegedly haunted house that her family fled after only 20 days—and ordeal that became the subject of her father’s bestselling horror memoir. When she inherits the house after his death, a dubious Maggie returns to learn the real reason her family left, only to discover her father’s book might not be a fictitious as she thought. And I would be telling both sides of the story—Maggie’s return and the full text of her father’s book.

Not in the plan was leaving the rented townhouse where my husband and I had lived for 14 years. But after an early morning incident involving a burst pipe, a collapsed ceiling and me spending half a day in the emergency room, it became clear—the place we called home was literally falling apart.

We needed to leave.


And since we’d been thinking about buying for the better part of a year, it seemed like a sign to start house hunting. Which is how I ended up writing a book about a haunted house while moving into a house that, although not haunted, had its own set of problems.

Now here’s the thing: Writing a book is hard. Writing two books in one, in different time periods with different narrators, is hard. Buying, renovating and moving into a house is hard. Doing all of that at the same time is more than hard. It’s insane. And exhausting. And became a Herculean effort that, I swear, almost broke me.

When I wasn’t writing, I was dealing with mortgage paperwork—it turns out lenders really like to scrutinize the finances of self-employed authors—and packing and cleaning and unpacking and cleaning some more and buying furniture and putting up wallpaper and painting. And painting. And painting. And painting. Then it would be back to writing, when all my frustrations would subconsciously creep onto the page.

And yet, it worked. The book is better for it. If the narrators seem frazzled at times, it’s because I was frazzled. If they seem like they’re about to collapse under the weight of their real estate decisions, it’s because I was doing exactly that. And if it feels authentic when one exasperated character in the book says, “F— this house” it’s because I had said it.

Multiple times.

And I meant it each and every time.

The house we bought wasn’t a fixer-upper—not on the surface at least. We knew it had a few issues and needed some work. A renovation of the master bath. Substantial work in a room that was to become my office. Opening up a wall between the sitting room and living room to make it a connected space. All of that was done by a team of contractors who all but lived there for a month. It wasn’t until the contractors left and we moved in that the real problems began, starting with bats.

Oh, yes. Bats. In our attic. And in the crawl space right off the walk-in closet connected to the master bedroom. Bats that, because of their protected status under New Jersey law, couldn’t be roused or relocated between May 1 and August 1.

We moved in the first week of May.

You can do the math.

Luckily, the bats didn’t bother us, and they were driven out the first week of August. Not so lucky is that those doing the bat relocation pointed out that we needed a new roof. The roofers doing that pointed out that we needed new skylights. We ended up also needing a new fridge. And a new washer and dryer. And a new oven. And new toilets, one of which decided to stop flushing literally the day we closed on the house. Faced with so much unexpected work, we felt duped and foolish and angry and ready to run.

It all went into the book. I tortured the fictional owners of that made-up house with every problem I could throw at them. Intrusive wildlife and wiring problems and ceilings literally falling around their ears. Then I brought in some ghosts, superstitiously hoping that putting it on the page first would prevent it from happening in real life. The plot may be a product of my imagination, but the sentiment behind it is real, and the result is a work of fiction that’s autobiographical in spirit.

Almost a year has passed since then, and things have settled down. The house is nice. We now love it. The book is also nice. I love that, too. And while I’m not yet at the point where I can look back and laugh about it, I do feel proud that I was able to complete both projects at the same time. In my mind, they’re now inseparable. My real house and my fictional one. Built together.

Now that the house is done, it’s time to tackle the landscaping, which was neglected altogether the first year of our residence. There are trees to remove, flowers to plant and weeds to pull. So many weeds. Fat, prickly ones that seem to burst out of the ground and grow six inches overnight. It turns out, I also need to finish another book soon. So, if a year or two from now, you see a book with my name on it about a homeowner dealing with demon weeds, well, don’t be surprised.

Home Before Dark is the fourth thriller from Riley Sager, the pseudonym of an author who lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Riley's first novel, Final Girls, was a national and international bestseller that has been published in more than two dozen countries and won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel. Sager's subsequent novels, The Last Time I Lied and Lock Every Door, were New York Times bestsellers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Canadian Mysteries: Mystery Readers Journal

Happy Canada Day! To celebrate download a copy of Mystery Readers Journal: Canadian Mysteries (30:1): Spring 2014.

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


  • Murder, Eh? by Lou Allin
  • Becoming Canadian by Cathy Ace
  • Setting Out From Saskatoon by Anthony Bidulka
  • Land of Ice and Snow, Smoggy Steeltown, and the Italian Mob! Or, how to write mob comedies… by Melodie Campbell
  • Mysteries in the Canadian North by Brenda Chapman
  • An Insider’s Take by Miriam Clavir
  • A Quiet Courage by Peter Clement
  • Writing Canadian Cops by Vicki Delany
  • Sleeping With an Elephant by Ruth Donald
  • Research Made Fun With Vancouver’s Police Dogs by Elizabeth Elwood
  • Mystery Is in the Mind by A.R. Grobbo
  • Exploring the Canadian Wilds with Meg Harris by R.J. Harlick
  • France on Berlin Time, Part II: The Canadian Connection by J. Robert Janes
  • Canadian From Coast to Coast by Amber Harvey
  • The Canadian Conundrum by Tim Heald
  • Left Coast Noir by Dietrich Kalteis
  • The Canadian Mystery Writer’s Wardrobe by Linda Kupecek
  • Ordinary People, Like You and Me, Interrupted by Murder by J. A. Menzies
  • Thoughts About Killing the Canadian Way by John Moss
  • Canadianese by Louise Penny
  • The Canadian Who Came in From the Cold (But Just for a Short Time) by Steve Shrott
  • The Inferiority Complex of a Canadian Mystery Author by Cathy Spencer
  • From Rangers to Red Serge by Kay Stewart
  • Canadian as Maple Murder Pie by Robin Timmerman
  • APOK? by Mike Walton
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Madeleine Harris-Callway, Lesa Holstine, Gay Toltl Kinman, L.J. Roberts, Lou Allin, Margaret Blair
  • Children’s Hour: Canada by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Canadian Capers by Marv Lachman
  • Crime Seen: North of the Border by Kate Derie
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet Rudolph

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


The Ngaio Marsh Awards have celebrated the best New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing since 2010.

The Longlist for this year’s Best Novel prize is: 

• SHADOW OF A DOUBT by SL Beaumont (Paperback Writers Publishing)
• TRUST ME, I'M DEAD by Sherryl Clark (Verve Books)
• WHATEVER IT TAKES by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
• ONE SINGLE THING by Tina Clough (Lightpool Publishing)
• GIRL FROM THE TREE HOUSE by Gudrun Frerichs
• AUE by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press)
• THE NANCYS by RWR McDonald (Allen & Unwin)
• HIDE by SJ Morgan (MidnightSun Publishing)
• IN THE CLEARING by JP Pomare (Hachette)
• THE WILD CARD by Renee (Cuba Press)
• A MADNESS OF SUNSHINE by Nalini Singh (Hachette)

The longlist is currently being considered by a judging panel of crime, thriller, and suspense writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The finalists for both this Best Novel category and Best First Novel will be announced later this year.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November.

Saturday, June 27, 2020


Summertime, and the living is easy. Or is it? So many mysteries taking place during Summer are filled with murder and mayhem -- on the Beach, at the Lake, and in the City! What follows is a list of Summer Crime Fiction that exudes the heat and accompanying crime of Summertime. I've omitted most Fourth of July and Labor Day Mysteries from this list, but I'll be updating those lists later this Summer. As always I invite you to add any titles I've missed. This is far from a definitive list, but it's updated since last year.

Summertime Mysteries 

Foxglove Summer by Ban Aaronovitch
The Corpse with the Garnet Face by Cathy Ace
A Cat on a Beach Blanket by Lydia Adamson
A Deadly Cliche; Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams
Moon Water Madness by Glynn Marsh Alam
A Tangled June by Neil Albert
Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander
Gone Gull by Donna Andrews
Sunset Beach; High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
Tiger's Eve by Barbara Annino
Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea by Nancy Atherton
Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon
Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker
Gold Medal Threat by Michael Balkind (Kids: 7-15)
A Midsummer Night's Killing by Trevor Barnes
Milwaukee Summers Can Be Deadly by Kathleen Anne Barrett
Hot Murder by Lorraine Bartlett
Love, Lies and Liquor by M.C. Beaton
Summertime News by Dick Belsky
Pups, Pilots and Peril by Cindy Bell
The Summer School Mystery by Josephine Bell
Jaws by Peter Benchley (maybe not quite a mystery, but a good read, especially at the Beach)
Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Murder by Fireworks by Susan Bernhardt
A Death in Summer by Benjamin Black
Another Man's Ground by Claire Booth
The Down East Murders by J.S. Borthwick
Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen
Deadly Readings by Laura Bradford
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Pot Boiler by Ali Brandon
The Cat Who Saw Stars, The Cat Who Went Up the Creek by Lilian Jackson Braun
Chill of Summer by Carol Brennan
Death by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge
Devils Island by Carl Brookins
Killer in Crinolines; Braking for Bodies by Duffy Brown
Tall Tail by Rita Mae Brown
Scrappy Summer by Mollie Cox Bryan
Magic and Macaroons by Bailey Cates
Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien
Twanged; Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark
Footprints in the Sand by Mary Jane Clark
Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark
Thin Air by Ann Cleeves
Dead and Berried by Peg Cochran
All You Need is Fudge, To Fudge or not to Fudge by Nancy Coco
BlackBuried Pie by Lyndsey Cole
Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
Death on a Summer Night by Matthew Costello
Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle
A Shoot on Martha's Vineyard by Philip Craig
The Trouble with a Hot Summer by Camilla Crespi
Never Say Pie by Carol Culver
Barkley's Treasure, Bikinis in Paradise; Beach Blanket Barbie; Camp Carter; Maui Madness; Bikinis in Paradise by Kathi Daley
The Alpine Recluse; The Alpine Zen; Clam Wake; Dune to Death by Mary Daheim
The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss by Krista Davis
A Summer in the Twenties by Peter Dickinson
The Gold Coast, Plum Island by Nelson DeMille
Dead & Buried by Leighann Dobbs
Kilt at the Highland Games by Kaitlyn Dunnett
Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein
Four Dog's Sake by Lia Farrell
Blackberry Burial, Dying for Strawberries; Killed on Blueberry Hill by Sharon Farrow
One Fete in the Grave by Vickie Fee
Murder Sends a Postcard by Christy Fifield
The Angel of Knowlton Park by Kate Flora
Lord James Harrington and the Summer Mystery by Lynn Florkiewicz
Apple Turnover Murder, Blackberry Pie Murder, Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Beneath the Skin by Nicci French
A Dish Best Served Cold by Rosie Genova
Murder Makes Waves by Anne George
The Caleb Cove Mystery Series  (3 in the series) by Mahrie Reid Glab
Summertime, All the Cats are Bored by Philippe Georget
The Cats that Watched the Woods by Karen Anne Golden
A Fatal Fleece, Angora Alibi: Murder at Lambswool Farm by Sally Goldenbaum
Sunflower Street by Pamela Grandstaff
Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake; Knockdown by Sarah Graves
Sound Proof by Barbara Gregorich
Bowled Over by Victoria Hamilton
Dead Days of Summer; Dead Man's Island by Carolyn Hart
Town in a Lobster Stew; Town in a Strawberry Swirl by B.B. Haywood
A Stitch in Crime by Betty Hechtman
Tilling the Truth by Julia Henry
The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara
Death of a Cookbook Author; Death of a Lobster Lover by Lee Hollis
Cracked to Death by Cheryl Holton
Beach Bags and Burglaries by Dorothy Howell
Murder at Wrightsville Beach by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter
Magic Hour by Susan Isaacs
Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James
One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian
A Summer for Dying by Jamie Katz
The Foxglove Killings by Tara Kelly (YA)
Rainy Day Women by Kay Kendell
Murder in the Past Tense by E.E. Kennedy
Death and a Pot of Chowder by Cornelia Kidd
Banana Split by Josi S. Kilpack
Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
A Timely Vision; A Watery Death by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Midsummer Malice by M.D. Lake
Dark Nantucket Noon by Jane Langton
The Bottoms by Joe Lansdale
You Only Witch Once by Amanda M. Lee
Death of a Bacherlorette by Laura Levine
A Tale of Two Biddies by Kylie Logan
Murder on the Ile Sordou by M.L. Longworth
August Moon, June Bug by Jess Lourey
Nun But the Brave by Alice Loweecey
A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn
Berried to the Hilt, Death Runs Adrift; Claws for Alarm; Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerny
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet
Grave Heritage by Blanche Day Manos
Swimming Alone by Nina Mansfield (YA)
Death in a Mood Indigo by Francine Mathews
Murder at Beechwood by Alyssa Maxwell
Till Death Do Us Bark by Judi McCoy
Killer Honeymoon by G.A. McKevitt
Left Hanging by Patricia McLinn
Tippy Toe Murder by Leslie Meier
Murder Most Finicky by Liz Mugavero
Bats and Bones; Peete and Repeat, The Lady of the Lake, To Cache a Killer by Karen Nortman
Murder at Kildare Mensa by Clare O'Beara
Foal Play; Murder on the Hoof by Kathryn O'Sullivan
The Body in the Lighthouse; The Body in the Birches; The Body in the Wake by Katherine Hall Page
Murder at the Seaside Hotel by Sonia Paris
Mercury's Rise by Ann Parker
The Heat of the Moon by Sandra Parshall
Paws in the Action; A Timely Murder by Max Parrott
Mrs. Bundle's Dog Days of Summer: A Case of Artful Arson by Allison Cesario Paton
The Summer House by James Patterson
Summer of the Dragon by Elizabeth Peters
5 Dan Marlowe/Hampton Beach, NH mysteries by Jed Power
Murder at Honeysuckle Hotel by Rose Pressey
Cat of Many Tails by Ellery Queen
Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart
In the Dead of the Summer; How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Gillian Roberts
Calamity@the Carwash by Sharon Rose
Mint Juleps, Mayhem, and Murder; Milkshakes, Mermaids and Murder by Sara Rosett
Boiled Over, Clammed Up by Barbara Ross
Murder in the Dining Room by Betty Rowlands
Field of Prey by John Sandford 
Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom
Hang My Head & Cry by Elena Santangelo
Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait
Purl Up and Die by Maggie Sefton
Vacations Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton
Bushel Full of Murder, If Onions Could Spring Leeks by Paige Shelton
Summer in the Woods by Steven K. Smith
Pick Your Poison; The Cat, The Vagabond and The Victim by Leann Sweeney
Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd
Deception in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope
Trouble in the Tarot by Kari Lee Townsend
Rooted in Deceit by Wendy Tyson
Board Stiff by Elaine Viets
Shadows of a Down East Summer; Thread and Gone by Lea Wait
The Great Chili Kill-Off; Killer Crab Cakes by Livia J. Washburn
A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan Wilsey
Trail of Secrets by Laura Wolfe (YA)
An Old Faithful Murder, Remodelled to Death; Death in a Beach Chair by Valerie Wolzien
Orchid Beach by Stuart Woods
Sins of a Shaker Summer by Deborah Woodworth
Summer Will End by Dorian Yeager
Heart of Stone by James Ziskin

Any titles you'd like to add?

Thursday, June 25, 2020


PRIVATE EYE WRITERS OF AMERICA SHAMUS AWARD WINNERS 2020 for works published in 2019. Congratulations to all!

Best Original Private Eye Paperback 

Behind the Wall of Sleep by James DF Hannah / author

Best Private Eye Short Story 

“Sac-A-Lait Man” by O’Neil De Noux in EQMM Sept/Oct

 Best Private Eye Novel 

Lost Tomorrows by Matt Coyle / Oceanview

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

ITALIAN MYSTERIES: Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 36:2)

Mystery Readers Journal: Italian Mysteries (Volume 36: 2, Summer 2020) is available as a PDF and hardcopy. Subscriber copies should arrive this week. PDF Contributor Copies will go out tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue. 

Be safe! Be well!

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

  • Italy—The Mystery Setting by Robert J. Stern
  • Donna Leon by Jack Erickson
  • “It’s the System, Not the People”: Conor Fitzgerald’s Alec Blume Series by David Clark
  • Food—A Critical Element in the Inspector Montalbano Mysteries by Joan Leotta
  • Italy’s (In)Famous Son by Lisa Black
  • An Introduction to Gang Life: Tuscany, c.1940 by Jay A. Gertzman
  • Place, Food, Language and Sleaze: Setting in Italian Mysteries by Elizabeth Immirzi
  • Music and Murder, Italian-style by Paul Adam
  • “You See But You Do Not Observe” by Rona Bell
  • Community Policing in Italy by Grace Brophy
  • Of Operas and Artichokes by Shelley Costa / Stephanie Cole
  • The Little Drummer by Sandrone Dazieri
  • Italy: Land of Beauty, Mystery, and Inspiration by Rich DiSilvio
  • Working in Italy by David Hewson
  • An Italian Parking Ticket by Russell Hill
  • The Lightning Bolt by Jack Erickson
  • In the Beginning (and Ending)… Italy by Joseph LeValley
  • The Italian Art Job by Larry Mild
  • Bella Italia by Arthur Kerns
  • Sicilian Murder by Alec Peche
  • One Writer’s Origins (with Apologies to Ms. Welty) by Vito Racanelli
  • Boat Memories by Sebastian Rotella
  • The Diavolo in the Details by David P. Wagner
  • Turn to Stone: Quarantined in Florence with Ellie Stone by James W. Ziskin
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, Lexa M. Mack, D.R. Ransdell, L.J. Roberts, Lucinda Surber, Nicola Trwst
  • In Short: Italian Short Stories by Marvin Lachman
  • The Children’s Hour: Mysteries Set in Italy by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • Just the Facts: A New Patron Saint for Cops? by Jim Doherty
  • Real Italy Mysteries by Cathy Pickens
  • Crime Seen: Guido and Salvo, the Two Commissari by Kate Derie
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph


Denise Mina, Ian Rankin, Richard Osman and Karen Robinson announce the shortlist for the Bloody Scotland Debut Book of the Year and the longlist for the McIlvanney Prize which awards the Scottish Crime Book of the Year. Bloody Scotland was cancelled due to the coronavirus, but the winners will be announced in the Fall. Congratulations to all the nominees! Great reading!

 Find out more at

Sunday, June 21, 2020

FATHER'S DAY: Father's Day Mysteries; Fathers & Daughters; Fathers & Sons

Just an FYI, this is a repost. For some reason, probably because of the timelessness of being Sheltered in Place, I posted this Father's Day Crime Fiction article in May.. So here it is again on Father's Day. I guess the books are not timely, really, you can read them any time..or give them to Dad today as ebooks!

My own father was the ultimate reader. His idea of a good vacation was sitting in a chair reading a good mystery. It didn't mattered where he was, the book took him miles away.

Even now after he's been gone for many years, I find myself finishing a book and saying to myself, "I have to send this to Dad. He'll love it." It always makes me sad to remember I can't. My father engendered my love of mysteries through his collection of mystery novels and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines. I like to think he's up there somewhere in a chair surrounded by books and reading a good mystery.

Here's to you, Dad, on Father's Day!

The following are updated lists! As always let me know any titles that you think should be included.


Father’s Day by John Calvin Batchelor
Father’s Day by Rudolph Engelman
Father's Day: A Detective Joe Guerry Story by Tippie Rosemarie Fulton
Father’s Day Keith Gilman 
Dear Old Dead by Jane Haddam
The Father’s Day Murder by Lee Harris
Day of Reckoning by Kathy Herman
Dead Water by Victoria Houston
Father’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier
On Father's Day by Megan Norris
Father’s Day by Alan Trustman

Murder for Father, edited by Martin Greenberg (short stories)
"Father's Day" by Patti Abbott --short story at Spinetingler
Collateral Damage: A Do Some Damage Collection  e-book of Father's Day themed short stories.
"Where's Your Daddy?" by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Let me know if I missed any titles.

And a very short list of Crime Fiction that focuses on Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Daughters. Have a favorite Father / Son Father/Daughter Mystery? Post below in comments.


Carriage Trade by Stephen Birmingham
His Father's Son by Tony Black
Her Father's Secret by Sara Blaedel
The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
Secret Father by James Carroll
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
Hot Plastic by Peter Craig
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne 
The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron
Lars and Little Olduvai by Keith Spencer Felton
Unsub by Meg Gardner   
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
King of Lies by John Hart
Damage by Josephine Hart
The Good Father by Noah Hawley
1922 by Stephen King
A Perfect Spy by John LeCarre 
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh 
The Son by Jo Nesbo
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Roman Hat Mystery; other novels by Ellery Queen (Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay)
Paperback Original by Will Rhode
The Senior Sleuths: Dead in Bed by Marcia Rosen
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
The Father by Anton Swenson

Saturday, June 20, 2020


The Shirley Jackson Awards  are given"in recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, The Shirley Jackson Awards, Inc. has been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantasy." The following are the nominees. The final awards will be given sometime in the future. 


The Book of X by Sarah Rose Etter (Two Dollar Radio)
Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand (Little, Brown and Co)
Goodnight Stranger by Miciah Bay Gault (Park Row Books)
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Gollancz-UK/Flatiron Books-US)
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
Tinfoil Butterfly by Rachel Eve Moulton (MCD x FSG Originals)

Into Bones Like Oil by Kaaron Warren (Meerkat Press)
Late Returns by Joe Hill (Full Throttle)
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht (
Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma (
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Gallery/Saga Press)

Black Bequeathments by Simon Strantzas (Dim Shores)
The Couvade by Joanna Koch (Demain Publishing)
Deeper, Darker Things” by Steve Dillon (Deeper, Darker Things and Other Oddities)
Luminous Body by Brooke Warra (Dim Shores)
Pwdre Ser by Kurt Fawver (Dim Shores)
Taproot” by M. R. Carey (Ten-Word Tragedies)

How to Become a Witch-Queen” by Theodora Goss (Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery)
Kali_Na” by Indrapramit Das (The Mythic Dream)
The Truth About Josh Enloe” by Nick Straatmann (Parhelion)
The Well” by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell (issue 55.1 of The Southern Review)
Whistle, My Lad, and I Will Come” by Gina Ochsner (The Pink Issue of Fairy Tale Review)

Collision: Stories by J. S. Breukelaar (Meerkat Press, LLC)
Every Human Love: Stories by Joanna Pearson (Acre Books)
Homesick by Nino Cipri (Dzanc Books)
Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell (Riverhead Books)
Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)
Wounds by Nathan Ballingrud (Saga Press)

Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Storiesedited by Ellen Datlow (Saga Press)
The Mythic Dream, edited by Navah Wolfe and Dominik Parisien (Saga Press)
The Twisted Book of Shadowsedited by Christopher Golden & James A. Moore (Twisted Publishing)
The Unquiet Dreamer: A Tribute to Harlan Ellisonedited by Preston Grassmann (PS Publishing)
Wonderland: An Anthology of Works Inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandedited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane (Titan Books)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Carlos Ruiz Zafón: R.I.P.

Such sad news. Carlos Ruiz Zafón died today at the age of 55. He was one of my favorite writers. Way too young. Such a talented man.

Here's the article from The Guardian.  Zafon was frequently described as the most-read Spanish author since Cervantes. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

The novelist, who was frequently described as the most-read Spanish author since Cervantes, died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles, his publisher Planeta announced. According to Spanish language reports, Ruiz Zafón had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2018.

Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, tweeted: “We have lost one of the world’s most read and most admired Spanish writers. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a key novelist of our epoch, made a significant contribution to modern literature.”

Calling him “one of the best contemporary novelists”, Planeta quoted from his most famous book, The Shadow of the Wind, a literary thriller about a library of obscure titles: “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.” His English-language publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson said it was “deeply saddened to hear of Carlos’ passing”.

The author of eight novels that also include The Angel’s Game and The Labyrinth of the Spirits, Ruiz Zafón’s books sold more than 38m copies worldwide, were translated into more than 40 languages, and won him multiple awards. .

Born in Barcelona, Ruiz Zafón worked in advertising before he made his debut as an author in 1993 with young adult novel The Prince of Mist. In 2001, he published The Shadow of the Wind, which followed a boy called Daniel who is taken to the Cemetery of Lost Books in Barcelona and becomes fascinated by the author Julian Carax and the shadowy figure trying to eradicate every last copy of Carax’s books. The novel was translated into English by Lucia Graves in 2004, and became an international hit. “If you thought the true gothic novel died with the 19th century, this will change your mind,” said Stephen King in a review. “Shadow is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendour and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots.”

Ruiz Zafón, who moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s, and divided his time between Spain and the US, has said that while he had written “pretty successful” young adult novels for 10 years, with The Shadow of the Wind he “wanted to create something very special”.