Thursday, April 30, 2020



Minotaur Books and the Mystery Writers of America announced today the winner of their First Crime Novel Competition for 2020. Kelley Ragland, Vice President, Associate Publisher for Minotaur Books, made the announcement following the MWA’s naming of their Edgar® Award winners.

The competition winner is Rebecca Roque, a nurse working in Arizona. Her winning novel, tentatively titled Till Human Voices Wake Us, will be published in 2021. The books opens when Alice, the best friend of 17-year-old Silencia “Cia” Lucero, is found dead from a supposed suicide. But Cia knows three things must be true: Alice is dead, Alice could not have killed herself, and Alice, a budding journalist, must have found something. Cia is determined to solve the mystery Alice left behind, no matter who gets in her way. Silence might be her name, but it’s never been her style.

Ragland said of the winning entry, “We’re thrilled to have selected Rebecca Roque and her novel Till Human Voices Wake Us as this year’s competition winner. With a remarkable voice and a diverse cast, the book is an engaging mystery about the life of a town as well as the life of one teenage girl. And when we found out that Rebecca is also a nurse currently working on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, we were even more honored to be able to work with this amazing writer on her debut novel.”

Roque sold her first book at age five to her mother for some red Skittles and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her resume includes an intensive care unit at a busy metropolitan hospital, a juvenile detention center, a comic book shop, and several craft beer bars. She is constantly inspired by the lived stories of people from all walks of life, and believes in the power of tattoos and stories to bring down walls between people. Rebecca was raised in the Midwest, but has made her grown-up home in Phoenix, Arizona.

The First Crime Novel Competition provides a previously unpublished writer an opportunity to launch his or her career with the Minotaur Books imprint. The winner will receive a one-book, $10,000 contract.


About Mystery Writers of America: Mystery Writers of America (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. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.

About Minotaur Books: Minotaur Books is an imprint of St. Martin’s Press that launched in 1999, publishing 130 hardcover crime fiction titles annually. Minotaur Books grew out of a fifty-year tradition of publishing quality crime fiction at St. Martin’s Press, and has published several award-winning and best-selling titles.


Mystery Writers of America announced the Winners of the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards today via Twitter. The Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2019.  I'll post the acceptance speeches in another email. Great fun this morning! Congratulations to all! 

Check out the acceptance speeches on the MWA YouTube Channel. Since we're all Sheltered-in-Place, it's the next best thing to being there!

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Farrar Straus and Giroux)


The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)


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)


Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)

“One of These Nights," from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)


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)


“Season 5, Episode 4” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)


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

* * * * * *


The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
* * * * * *

Borrowed Time by Tracy Clark ( Kensington Publishing)


THE RAVEN AWARD recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing: LEFT COAST CRIME

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD honors 'outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry: KELLEY RAGLAND.


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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Maj Sjöwall: R.I.P.

Another sad day: Maj Sjöwall passed away today at the age of 84 after a prolonged illness. She was known as the Queen of Crime in Sweden. Sjöwall was an author and translator, best known for the collaborative work with her partner Per Wahlöö on a series of ten novels about the exploits of Martin Beck, a police detective in Stockholm. They also wrote novels separately.

In 1971, the fourth of the Beck books, The Laughing Policeman (a translation of Den skrattande polisen, originally published in 1968) won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Novel and was adapted into the film The Laughing Policeman starring Walter Matthau.

Maj Swowall in conversation with Lee Child at Crimefest

Article about Maj Sjowall in The Observer. 

Roseanna (1965) [1967] 
The Man Who Went Up in Smoke [1969] 
The Man on the Balcony [1968] 
The Laughing Policeman [1970] 
    1971 Edgar Award for Best Mystery 
    Finalist 1971 Gold Dagger Award 
The Fire Engine That Disappeared [1970] 
Murder at the Savoy [1971] 
The Abominable Man [1972] 
The Locked Room [1973] 
Cop Killer [1975] 
The Terrorists [1976]

Cartoon of the Day: Shelter in Place

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Karen Harper: R.I.P.

More sad news this week. Lesa Holstine noted the death of Karen Harper, author of over 70 novels: romantic suspense, historicals, and mysteries, including The South Shores Series, The Cold Creek Trilogythe Maplecreek Amish Trilogy, and many, many more.  Her latest mystery that just became available today: Deep in the Alaskan Woods. Her British historicals  (The Queen's Secret comes out in May),  are wonderful, too, and it would be a tribute to Karen to start reading any and all of her novels. Karen Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. According to author Connie Campbell Berry, Karen died recently of cancer.

Karen was a frequent contributor to the Mystery Readers Journal with author essays appearing in the Midwestern Mysteries issue (Spring 2017), New York City II, Gardening Mysteries; Art Mysteries II; History Mysteries II, and several more. She will be missed.

My sympathy goes out to her family, friends, and fans at this sad time.

SAYING GOODBYE: Guest Post by Timothy Hallinan


The world is full of lists of things that people are likely to regard as stressful experiences, a seemingly endless cornucopia of potential discomfort that rages from ingrown toenails and hangovers all the way through bereavement. Writers — or, at least, most of the writers I know — look upon the events on these lists as a kind of nascent material, something they might be able to fictionalize for a book, at least until they bang their real-life heads and/or hearts up against one of them. (Even when the real thing opens its dark wings and hovers above them, many writers are mentally taking notes.) After we've survived a couple of these life-changers, we start to look at those lists with a new and wary kind of interest, as though life's bummers are the bad songs on a limited playlist: sooner or later, whatever we do, they're going to pop up. These potential bereavements acquire a new weight and solidity and we begin, consciously or not, to measure ourselves against them, getting ready for the inevitable.

And then, bang, along comes one we haven't even dreamed of. In my case, it is a kind of bereavement, the bereavement of saying goodbye to characters I've lived with for years, who have become as real to me and as close to me as the people I say hi to most mornings. It's a family, although not a conventional one, and I'm just now realizing that emotionally I have been a member of it for more than a decade. I could say I created them, but our relationship seems to have changed me as much as it did them.

A long time ago when the world was young—in 2006, in fact—I decided to open a book called A Nail Through the Heart with a scene in which the protagonist, an American travel writer, holds his adopted daughter’s hand as they follow his wife down a Bangkok sidewalk, shopping for groceries.

I knew that this homey domestic tableau wasn’t the most electrifying opening in thriller history, but I wanted to say on the very first page that this was not a novel about Bangkok in which beautiful young Asian women threw themselves incessantly and inexplicably at uninteresting Caucasian men. My line of thought was something like man + wife + daughter + groceries = family.

The word family did the trick. Since I don’t know how to plot in advance, I barely knew who these people were, but the moment I realized they were a family, the primary aspects of their relationships revealed themselves to me, even though I hadn't yet discovered any of the details. I thought that it might be interesting to drop a normal—if intercultural and self-assembled—family, who are trying to establish and preserve relationships along traditional lines, into the world capital of instant gratification —Bangkok. It felt to me like the family might serve as a friendly campfire in a world of cold neon.

Most writers, I am convinced, make decisions on the fly because a notion feels right at the moment, and then they are forced to live with that decision for the rest of the book.

Or, in this case, nine books. Miaow, the street child whom Poke Rafferty and his Thai wife, Rose, adopted, was, on that opening page, little more than a prop to make readers think, “Look, a family man,” but she ultimately became (much to my surprise), the heart of the entire series.

The claim she staked in the series’ narrative line (and in my affection) was a total, and not always welcome, surprise. I had never written a child before and I’ve never fathered any in real life, and there were times when the challenge of getting her onto the page kept me up at night. But somehow, she always knew what to do, even when I didn’t have a clue. Especially when I didn’t have a clue. I’m going to miss her. Hell, I’ll miss all of them.

Writing is similar to theater in that characters—both major and minor—are like actors: some stick to the script; some rewrite their parts on the fly; some fight their way downstage center and demand more lines; and some just want to hide in the wings.

When a series grows, those wings get crowded as characters from earlier books begin to congregate there, waving their hands and whispering to each other, hoping to be called back into action. Some made it and some didn’t. I had good relationships, if that doesn’t sound too schizophrenic, with most of them, and the ones who refused to rise to the occasion were simply omitted from the following books or, in a pinch, got killed. Fortunately for writers, literary characters (unlike actors) don’t have unions.

When I finished STREET MUSIC, I realized that I had answered the last remaining big question about Rafferty, Rose, Miaow, and the members of their extended literary family. I felt vaguely morose at the time, wondering where I could let them take me next time out; I always feel like I follow the characters from place to place, from crisis to resolution. To put it into dance terms, they lead and I follow. So where would we go next?

The answer, which took me months to discover, was nowhere, at least for now. I had long thought I'd close the door on them when Miaow, at the age of 18 or 19, got her own apartment, almost certainly looking for a career as an actress, leaving Poke and Rose to wander disconsolately through the little apartment that had always seem so cramped but suddenly feels bigger than Versailles.

But here we are, in the final days, figuratively speaking. In writing, as in life, I never seem to know when the end will come. I think about my inky little family several times a day, and my melancholy at leaving them is offset partially by the realization that I can move on to write other places, other times, other characters. There are a hundred potential characters in my head, and I feel like they've realized that their time may have come, so they're jostling for position, clearing their throats, and advancing snippets of where they might like to take me.

And that's exciting, but for the moment, I feel — I can think of no more accurate word — bereaved.

* * *
Timothy Hallinan's STREET MUSIC, the final Poke Rafferty Bangkok thriller, has just been released by Soho Crime.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: ZoomBombing

Thanks to Kay Kendall for alerting me to this fabulous and timely cartoon from Scott Metzger. My own golden retriever Reign has been ZoomBombing a lot lately!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

FACE MASK, a True Story: Guest Post by Gay Toltl Kinman

FACE MASK  (a true story)

We went grocery shopping when we received our surgical masks. It’s the consistency of a cardboard egg carton. (Am sure the surgical mask or the egg carton company would be happy to supply instructions on how to make one.) It rode up on my nose, pushing my glasses up. Finally got that arranged. The left lens of my glasses fogged up and stayed that way. No amount of wiping helped.

In the market, at the yogurt deli section, there was a cone on the floor saying Wet Floor. The smell of the cleaning fluid was strong, making me cough. I moved away, coughing—not a good idea when you are wearing a tight mask. Plus it’s the first sign of you-know-what. I did get apprehensive looks from the few people in the aisles who soon vanished.

I pulled the mask down—and it jabbed into my windpipe causing another coughing bout. It took me a few minutes to recuperate.

I pulled the mask up and poked around in the frozen food section. I started to feel faint. I realized it was the breathing in of my own carbon dioxide. I pulled the mask away again but the elastic was so tight that I couldn’t get it up on my face. I didn’t want to damage my windpipe any further. By pulling it off, my glasses went flying. Hard to find your glasses when you can’t see.

Finally got those back on, adjusted the mask, but had to lift it up every few minutes when I was about to faint.

The moral of the story is—(fill in the blank).

Gay Toltl Kinman has nine award nominations for her writing; several short stories in American and English magazines and anthologies; twelve children’s books and stories; a Y.A.Gothic novel; nine adult mysteries; and six collections of short stories. Several of her short plays were produced—now in a collection of twenty plays The Play’s the Thing; many articles in professional journals and newspapers; several Travel Diaries; and has coedited two non-fiction books. Kinman has library and law degrees.

Cartoon of the Day: Feline Support Center Shelter-in-Place Version

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Quarantine Life

Thanks to Chantelle Aimee Osman for alerting me to this cartoon! I know this is ME! Is it you?


2019 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Awards

First Place: “The Duellist” by David Dean
Second Place: “Fadeout on Bunker Hill" by Paul D. Marks
Third Place: “The Duchy by Doug Allyn tied with "Whiteout" by G. M. Malliet
Fourth Place: “Snow Boy" by David Dean
Fifth Place: “The Girls in the Fourth Row" by Doug Allyn
Sixth Place: " Heat" by Trey Dowell tied with "Better Days by Art Taylor
Seventh Place:"Wishing Tree" by Michael Bracken tied with "Sac-a-lait Man" by O'Neil De Noux
Eighth Place: “The Cripplegate Apprehension" by Richard Helms
Ninth Place: “The Retirement Plan" by Stacy Woodson
Tenth Place: “Fiction Addiction" by Christine Poulson

 Hat Tip: The Rap Sheet

Friday, April 24, 2020

UPCOMING TV streaming and 30 days FREE on AcornTV

I love AcornTV...who doesn't love great British TV? But AcornTV is much more than that. And now get 30 DAYS FREE FOR NEW AND PAST SUBSCRIBERS.

To help tide viewers over during this difficult time, Acorn TV is offering an extended 30-day free trial (formerly 7 days) for new and former subscribers– Click on and type in FREE30 in the promo code section.

ACORN TV COMES HOME TO THE UK. For the first time, Acorn TV will be available in the UK starting Wednesday, April 29. Among the highlights include the UK Premiere of Emmy-nominated British series Queens of Mystery and a compelling catalogue of recent and classic series including Foyle’s War, Keeping Faith and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.


***BALTHAZAR: As a forensic pathologist in Paris, Raphaël Balthazar (Tomer Sisley, Philharmonia) can make the dead speak like no one else. He solves the city's most disturbing crimes with no-nonsense chief inspector Hélène Bach (Hélène de Fougerolles, Le Secret d’Elise,) who, in Season 2, helps him reopen the one case that still haunts him: his wife’s murder. Catch all 10 episodes now of brand-new Series 2.

***THE SCHOUWENDAM 12 - Decades ago, two teenagers disappeared from the Dutch village of Schouwendam without a trace. When an unknown man suddenly appears in town with no memories but a clear resemblance to one of the teens, it forces the residents to confront the mysteries of the past in this riveting Dutch language drama.

Highlights from Acorn TV’s upcoming COLLECTIONS:

LINE OF DUTY: In this long-running BBC hit drama, follow the complicated, twisty investigations of London’s AC-12 anti-police corruption unit, with a stellar cast ensemble of Adrian Dunbar (Blood), Martin Compston (The Nest) and Vicky McClure (This Is England), along with season-long guest stars Lennie James, Stephen Graham, Thandie Newton and more. Stream the complete series on Acorn TV, including 2019’s highly-rated season 5 which is available in the U.S. exclusively on Acorn TV.

JACK IRISH: Emmy® winner Guy Pearce (Memento) reprises his iconic role as Jack Irish, a former criminal lawyer with a penchant for getting dragged into unsavory situations.

THE HOUR: Set in the 1950s, this Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated BBC drama delves into the high-stakes world of TV news, starring Ben Whishaw (Spectre), Romola Garai (Emma), and Dominic West (The Affair).

MY LIFE IS MURDER: Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Parks and Recreation) stars in this contemporary Australian detective drama as retired cop Alexa Crowe.


Ali Karim alerted me today to this sad news. Sheila Quigley: R.I.P.

From ChronicleLive:

Author Sheila Quigley, one of Britain's best loved crime writers, died suddenly. Ms Quigley, 72, was taken to hospital with complications arising from a toe infection but her shocked family were told her condition had deteriorated rapidly.

Ms Quigley lived opposite a field which became the fictional location of the council housing estate in her "Seahills" series of books. She was voted number seven in WH Smith’s Best Crime Authors of All Time. Her fictional lead detective, the no nonsense DI Lorraine Hunt, was voted No.10 in the book retailer’s top fictional detectives poll. 

Sheila Quigley became a national news story when Random House acquired her first novel, Run For Home, with major coverage throughout the press and television. A documentary about Sheila and the making of Run for Home was broadcast on BBC1.
Novels set in the fictional estate of Seahills in Houghton-le-Spring in the City of Sunderland.
  • Run for Home (2004)
  • Bad Moon Rising (2005)
  • Living on a Prayer (2006)
  • Every Breath You Take (2007)
  • Hungry Eyes (short story) (2008)
  • Black Betty (short story) (2009)
  • The Road to Hell (2009)
  • Stand By Me (2011)
In September 2010, Sheila published the first of a trilogy of novels, featuring the new lead character of DI Mike Yorke and his sidekick Smiler, a psychic street kid.
  • Thorn in My Side (2010)
  • Nowhere Man (2011)
  • The Final Countdown (2012)

What I did on my Spring Break: Guest Post by Claudia Long

Claudia H. Long:
What I did on my Spring Break

For my unplanned three-month Spring Break I peeled the paint off the bannister. Seriously, every time I go by the bannister that runs next to and down the stairs in my house I stop and peel the paint a bit with my thumbnail. Sometimes I got a nice long piece, and I wave it triumphantly, and other times little chips come off that I try to distinguish from chips of my nail.

My adult son, who’s sheltering with us, having come to visit before the orders hit, has joined the peeling brigade and has added sports-like competitive rules: no using implements to start a peel, all peels must be tallied in piles…I’ve added that all peels and chips must be swept up and tossed before one of the three dogs sheltering with us (he brought his flatulent, ancient dog on the visit) eats them.

I have the advantage of ambidexterity.

All this is to relieve the anxious tedium of the quarantine, of course. I am far away from the rest of the extended family in New York, one of whom suffered with the virus, another of whom died just as the pandemic began. I’m unable to visit my much-nearer very-pregnant daughter who is single-handedly caring for her toddler while her husband works multiple shifts as a firefighter paramedic. I’m watching my work-from-home dwindle along with my toilet paper stack. And so I find solace in the mindless activity on the stairs.

I need an escape from the horrors of the news: the death counts, reminiscent of body counts during the Vietnam War; the political folly; the heartless cruelties of the powerful; the endless compassion of many; the failure of compassion of the few; the judgments of the self-righteous; the smugness of the secure; the intemperateness of the insecure; the pain of the threatened. I am useless to others, “saving lives by staying home” seems so lame. There are days that I drown in the fear that we will give up too soon. And days when I fear that this will never end.

But I can go in either direction, at any given time.

We have it so much better than so many. We live in the safety and rationality of California. We shut down early, we are spread out in an area that keeps us easily social-distancing, we have more than enough food, there’s light, good weather, electricity, clean water, green hills, birds, flowers, plenty of love. And I have a long stairway with a bannister that ten years ago, during the last recession, I failed to sand sufficiently, and painted with latex paint over an old oil-based undercoat. In this shelter-in-place, the latex has finally given up its hold, and has offered itself to me as consolation for my malaise.

My pile of paint peels is growing. It’s spring, and summer is coming. We can do this. The advantage of ambidexterity is not to be underestimated.
Claudia Long is the author of Nine Tenths of the Law (Kasva Press, 2020) Josefina's Sin (Atria/ Simon & Schuster) The Duel for Consuelo (Five Directions Press) The Harlot's Pen (Devine Destinies) Chains of Silver (Five Directions Press) Follow her on
Nine Tenths of the Law was just released on Kindle and will release in paperback on May 7. In 1939, a beautiful enameled heirloom menorah was looted by the Nazis, grabbed from the hands of its young Jewish owner. Too beautiful to kill, Aurora herself was singled out by the SS for "special duties." Eighty years later, Aurora's daughters Zara and Lilly discover the family menorah in a New York museum. Haunted by their mother's buried memories, the sisters scheme to get it back--but their quest takes a dangerous turn when the menorah disappears, leaving a train of murder and mayhem behind it. Aurora's memories, it turns out, are very much alive...and now her secrets can bind the sisters together or tear them apart.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


This is such sad news. Mystery author Sheila Connolly passed away on April 20 in her beloved Ireland. I knew her for many years, meeting at Bouchercon and Malice, reading her books, and I always looked forward to her posts about her Irish cottage ... the physical changes she made to the cottage (septic tank, gutters, foundation, etc), the sheep she watched, her neighbors who were of great assistance and sometimes quirky, her garden (a rose arbor), and the furniture and appliances (and installation) that she made to make her cottage comfortable. I appreciated that she took all of us along on that journey. Moving to Ireland was her dream.

Sheila Connolly was the author of numerous novels and short stories: The County Cork Mysteries (8 novels and a novella), The Orchard Mysteries (12 novels), The Victorian Village Mysteries (1), The Relatively Dead Series (6), The Museum Mysteries (7) and two stand alones: Reunion with Death and Once She Knew. Her latest book, Fatal Roots, was published by Crooked Lane Books in January.

Sheila wrote numerous short stories that appeared in her own collections, as well as other anthologies. Her Irish mysteries were so entertaining, and I was looking forward to her essay for Mystery Readers Journal's Irish mysteries issue this year. I was a big fan of the Museum Mysteries, of course, and her easy and engaging style in all her books, plus how much I learned about different places and trades and ideas was so satisfying. She was a blog member of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen where she contributed recipes and posts. Shealso  contributed to several issues of Mystery Readers Journal. Sheila was always charming and friendly, a very special writer, person, and friend. She will be missed.

My prayers and sympathy go out to her family, friends, and fans. So sad.

Cartoon of the Day: Memoir



Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, first appeared in Paul Levine’s To Speak for the Dead in 1990. Thirty years later, Lassiter is still navigating the shark-infested waters of the justice system. In Cheater’s Game, a heartbroken Lassiter must defend his brilliant nephew Kip who’s charged as an imposter, taking entrance exams for students in the true-to-life college admissions scandal.

Paul: I thought you retired, but here you are, back in the courtroom.

Jake: Don’t blame me, Scribbler. I hung up my briefcase after Bum Deal, but you put me to work again.

Paul: Admit it, Jake. You missed the combat of a criminal trial.

Jake: That’s your fantasy, Desk Jockey. Mine is to snooze in a hammock, drink tequila, and feed the peacocks.

Paul: You came back because your nephew Kip got in trouble. The boy you raised as your own son. That had to be painful.

Jake: I thought I’d taught Kip ethics and values, but I failed. I let him down. “You release your child into the world, like launching a toy sailboat in a pond. Except the world is not a placid pond. More often, it is a raging sea, and life a perfect storm. You cannot prepare the child because your own personal crises, traumas and failures are just that, your own. Your child, as you will belatedly learn, is not you.” - Jake Lassiter in Cheater’s Game

Paul: There’s a lot of blame to go around in the college scandal.

Jake: I don’t understand it. Why would parents cheat to get their kids into so-called elite universities? Don’t they realize they’re saying, “You can’t make it on your own? And your only honors will be summa cum fraud.” “In a society without shame, where faking it is making it and deceit trumps virtue, integrity is for losers and cheaters win. Fairness? Forget about it! A meritocracy? In your dreams! Earn your diploma? Why bother, when you can buy it?” - Jake Lassiter in Cheater’s Game

Paul: Yet, you plead your nephew “not guilty” and defend him in federal court when you know he took students’ SAT exams for big bucks?

Jake: All these years, Scribbler, and you’re still clueless about the justice system. My job is to force the government to prove its case.

Paul: Speaking of “years,” you were 40 in “To Speak for the Dead.” Thirty years later, you’re 60. How does that work?

Jake: Being fictional helps. Say, how are things at the Old Writers’ Home?

Paul: Forget about me. How’s your health? Your headaches, your memory problems.

Jake: You’re the punk who gave me chronic traumatic encephalopathy. I didn’t think you could even spell it.

Paul: Sorry about all those concussions at Penn State and with the Miami Dolphins. But it did bring you together with Dr. Melissa Gold, renowned neuropathologist. And...your fiancée.

Jake: About time you gave me a grown-up relationship, after all those femme fatales and floozies.

Paul: News flash, Lassiter. Nobody says “floozies” anymore.

Jake: News flash, Word Boy. You’re the ventriloquist. But it’s true that I’m in love with my doctor and she’s come up with experimental treatments that might help hundreds of other former players with C.T.E.

Paul: Would your brain injury have anything to do with your bizarre conduct during Kip’s trial?

Jake: You mean my hearing voices and lapsing into a George Carlin routine in the judge’s chambers?

Paul: Judge Speidel said you were flirting with contempt.

Jake: Flirting, hell! I took her all the way.

Paul: Judge Speidel seemed miffed that you didn’t give him due respect.

Jake: Federal judges! So damned high and mighty. “Federal judges are phantoms who inhabit marble palaces, hidden from prying eyes and cameras. They sit on thrones and are served by a retinue of clerks, assistants, deputies, and, for all I know, court jesters.” - Jake Lassiter in Cheater’s Game

Paul: Face it, Jake. Your closing argument was unethical.

Jake: I’m not bad. You just write me that way.

Paul: You basically asked for “jury nullification.” Acquit my client even though he did everything the government charged him with.

Jake: I prefer to call it a “Texas verdict.”

Paul: Meaning?

Jake: “Not guilty, but don’t do it again.”

Paul: And what was the jury’s verdict? Jake: I’d tell you if I could remember. But you’re the one who gave me memory problems, you multisyllabic babbler!

Paul: I’m not the one who told you to use your helmet as a battering ram.

Jake: You put me on the kickoff team, the suicide squad! What did you think would happen?

Paul: So, what now? You gonna retire again or smash down the doors to the courthouse and try another case?

Jake: Not up to me, is it, Svengali?

Paul: Now that you mention it, there’s a case I just heard about that’s right up your alley.

Jake: Great. You know what I always say?

Paul: Of course, I do. Jake: “I want a cause that’s just, a client I like, and a check that doesn’t bounce. Two out of three, and I’m ahead of the game.” So, I’ll see you around, Scribbler.

Cheater’s Game is available in paperback, ebook, and audio. For more information, visit Paul Levine’s Website or his Amazon Author Page. Paul  Levine worked as a newspaper reporter, a law professor, and a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. Obviously, he cannot hold a job. Paul claims that writing fiction comes naturally: he told whoppers for many years in his legal briefs. His books have been translated into 23 languages, none of which he can read.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Earth Day Environmental Mysteries 2020

Earth Day! Today the world considers climate change, environmental issues, and how we can save our planet. Living in Berkeley, this is a daily concern, and it should be with everyone everywhere. A few years ago I started posting a list of environmental/ecological mysteries. The list has grown. Crime fiction is an excellent way to make readers aware of issues.

Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 36:1) focuses on Environmental Mysteries. This issue is available as a PDF download and hardcopy. Take a look at the Table of Contents and order here. 

For Earth Day 2020, I updated Earth Day/Environmental Mysteries list. There are many more authors, and certainly more books by many of the authors on the list. As always, I welcome additions. I took a few liberties on the list, too, but I think they all fall under the umbrella of environmental mysteries. Scroll down for a second list that deals exclusively with Drowned Towns aka Reservoir Noir.

Be kind to the Earth. It's the only one we have.


Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang' Hayduke Lives!
P.D. Abbey's H2Glo
Liz Adair's Snakewater Affair
Glyyn Marsh Alam's Cold Water Corpse; Bilge Water Bones
Grace Alexander's Hegemon 
Lou Allin's Northern Winters Are Murder; Blackflies Are Murder: Memories Are Murder
Suzanne Arruda's Stalking Ivory
Sarah Andrews' Em Hansen Mystery series
Lindsay Arthur's The Litigators
Anna Ashwood-Collins' Deadly Resolution; Red Roses for a Dead Trucker
Sandi Ault's Wild Inferno; Wild Indigo; Wild Penance; Wild Sorrow
Shannon Baker's Tainted Mountain; Broken Trust; Tattered Legacy; Skies of Fire
J. G. Ballard's Rushing to Paradise
Michael Barbour's The Kenai Catastrophe; Blue Water, Blue Island
Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat; Ill Wind; Borderline; and others
Lee Barwood's A Dream of Drowned Hollow?
Pamela Beason's Sam Westin wildlife biologist series
Robert P. Bennett's Blind Traveler's Blues
William Bernhardt's Silent Justice
Donald J Bingle's GreensWord
Michael Black's A Killing Frost 
Jennifer Blake's Shameless
Claire Booth's Another Man's Ground
C J Box's Winterkill; Open Season; Below Zero; Savage Run; Out of Range; Trophy Hunt; Free Fire; In Plain Sight
Lisa Brackmann's Hour of the Rat
Alex Brett's Dead Water Creek
Tobias S. Buckell's Artic Rising
James Lee Burke's Creole Belle
Rex Burns' Endangered Species
David Butler Full Curl; No Place for Wolverines; In Rhino We Trust
Chester Campbell's The Surest Poison
Christine Carbo The Wild Inside, Mortal Fall, The Weight of Night, A Sharp Solitude
Ann Cleeves' Another Man's Poison; Wild Fire
Eileen Charbonneau's Waltzing in Ragtime
Anna Ashwood Collins's Metamorphis for Murder; Deadly Resolutions
Robin Cook's Fever
Dawn Corrigan's Mitigating Circumstances
Peter Corris's Deep Water
Donna Cousin's Landscape
Michael Crichton's State of Fear
James Crumley's Dancing Bear 
Christine D'Avanzo Cold Blood, Hot Sea; Devil Sea; Secrets Haunt the Lobsters' Sea; Glass Eels, Shattered Sea
Janet Dawson's Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean
Barbara Delinsky's Looking for Peyton Place
Lionel Derrick's Death Ray Terror
William Deverell's April Fool
Karen Dionne's Boiling Point; Freezing Point
Paul Doiron's The Poacher's Son; Trespasser; Bad Little Falls; The Bone Orchard and others
David Michael Donovan's Evil Down in the Alley
Mark Douglas-Home's The Sea Detective
Rubin Douglas' The Wise Pelican: From the Cradle to the Grave
Jack Du Brul's Vulcan's Forge; River of Ruin; and others
Robert Dugoni & Joseph Hilldorfer's Cyanide Canary
Toni Dwiggins' Badwater; Quicksilver
Kerstin Ekman's Blackwater
Aaron J Elkins' The Dark Place; Unnatural Selection
Howard Engel's Dead and Buried
Kathleen Ernst's High Stakes in a Great Lake
Eric C. Evans' Endangered
Nancy Fairbanks's Acid Bath; Hunting Game; and others
Kate Fellowes' Thunder in the Night
Cher Fischer's Falling into Green
Bill Fitzhugh's Pest Control; The Exterminators
Mary Flodin's The Death of the Gecko
G M Ford's Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?
Clare Francis's The Killing Winds (Requiem)
Jamie Freveletti's Dead Asleep 
Sara Hoskinson Frommer's Death Climbs a Tree
Jean Craighead George's The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Limbo; Who Really Killed Cock Robin?; The Case of the Missing Cutthroats (young readers)
Matthew Glass's Ultimatum
Kenneth Goddard's Double Blind; Prey; Wildfire
Chris Goff's A Rant of Ravens; Death of a Songbird; A Nest in the Ashes
Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon's Greenwar
Alexander M. Grace's Hegemon
Scott Graham's Mountain Rampage, Yellowstone Standoff; Mesa Verde Victim
Robert O. Greer's The Devil's Hatband
John Grisham's The Pelican Brief; The Appeal; The Litigators
Beth Groundwater's Deadly Currents; Wicked Eddies
Elizabeth Gunn's Eleven Little Piggies
Jean Hager's Ravenmocker
William Hagard's The Vendettists
James W. Hall's Bones of Coral
Patricia Hall's The Poison Pool
Joseph Hall's Nightwork
Karen Hall's Unreasonable Risk, Through Dark Spaces
Matt Hammond's Milkshake
Vinnie Hansen's Fruit of the Devil 
Jane Harper's The Dry; The Lost Man
Sue Henry's Termination Dust
Robert Herring's McCampbell's War
Joseph Heywood's Blue Wolf in Green Fire, Ice Hunter, Chasing a Blond Moon
Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip; Stormy Weather; Sick Puppy; Strip Tease; Scat; Star Island
Tony Hillerman's The Blessing Way
Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady
John Hockenberry's A River out of Eden
Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow
John Holt's Hunted
Dave Hugelschaffer's Day into Night, One Careless Moment
Judy Hughes' The Snowmobile Kidnapping
Mary Ellen Hughes' A Taste of Death
Dana Andrew Jennings' Lonesome Standard Time
Craig Johnson's Hell is Empty
Sylvia Kelso's The Solitaire Ghost; The Time Seam
Emily Kimelman's Unleashed
M.T. Kingsley's With Malicious Intent
Linda Kistler's Cause for Concern
Lisa Kleinholz's Dancing with Mr. D. 
Bill Knox's The Scavengers, Devilweed, and others in the Webb Carrick series
Dean Koontz's Icebound
William Kent Krueger's "Cork O'Connor" series
Janice Law's Infected Be the Air
Leena Lehtolainen's Fatat Headwind
Stephen Legault's The Cardinal Divide, The Glacier Gallows, The Vanishing Track, The Darkening Archipelago
Donna Leon's Death in a Strange Country; About Face; Earthly Remains; Acqua Alta
David Liss' The Ethical Assassin
Sam Llewellyn's Deadeye
Charles & Lidia LoPinto's Countdown in Alaska; Nukes
Robert Lopresti's Greenfellas
Jim Lynch's The Highest Tide
John D MacDonald's Barrier Island (and other titles)
Ross Macdonald's Sleeping Beauty
Jassy Mackenzie's The Fallen
Larry Maness' A Once a Perfect Place
Elizabeth Manz's Wasted Space
John Marsden's A Killing Frost
Margaret Maron's High Country Fall, Shooting at Loons, Up Jumps the Devil, Hard Row
John Martel's Partners
Steve Martini's Critical Mass
Keith McCafferty's The Royal Wulff Murders, Dead man's Fance; A Death in Eden
John McGoran's Drift, Deadout, Dust Up
Karin McQuillan's Deadly Safari, Cheetah Chase, Elephant's Graveyard
Anne Metikosh's Undercurrent 
Deon Meyer's Blood Safari, Thirteen Hours
Shanon Michaud's Still Water
Penny Mickelbury's What Could Be More Than Dead?
Kirk Mitchell's High Desert Malice, Deep Valley Malice
Laura J. Mixon & Steven Gould's Greenwar
Skye Kathleen Moody's Blue Poppy, and other Venus Diamond mysteries
C. George Muller's Echoes in the Blue
Marcia Muller's Cape Perdido
Judith Newton's Oink
Michael Norman's Skeleton Picnic; On Deadly Ground
Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie
Michael Palmer's Fatal
Sara Paretsky's Blood Shot
Brad Parks' The Player
T. Jefferson's Parker's Pacific Beat
Louise Penny's A Better Man
Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried
Carl Posey's Bushmaster Fall
David Poyer's As the Wolf Loves Winter, Winter in the Heart
Katherine Prairie's Thirst
Kwei Quartey's Murder at Cape Three Points; Gold of our Fathers
Peter Ralph's Dirty Fracking Business
Bob Reiss's Purgatory Road
Ruth Rendell's Road Rage 
Geoffrey Robert's The Alo Release
Carolyn Rose's An Uncertain Refuge
Leonard Rosen's The Tenth Witness
Rebecca Rothenberg's The Shy Tulip Murders; The Bulrush Murder
Patricia Rushford's Red Sky in the Mourning
Alan Russell's The Forest Prime Evil 
Kirk Russell's Shell Games
Nick Russell's Big Lake Blizzard
Brenda Seabrook's The Dragon That Slurped the Green Slime Swamp (Children's)
Frank Schätzing's The Swarm
L.J. Seller's Crimes of Memory
Barry Siegel's Actual Innocence
Sheila Simonson's An Old Chaos 
Jessica Speart's Bird Brained, Blue Twilight, Gator Aide, Tortoise Soup
Dana Stabenow's A Cold Day for Murder, A Deeper Sleep, A Fine and Bitter Snow, Midnight Come Again, A Taint in the Blood, and many others
John Stanley's The Woman Who Married a Bear, The Curious Eat Themselves, 
Neal Stephenson's Zodiac
Mark Stevens' Buried by the Roan; Antler Dust; Lake of Fire 
David Sundstrand's Shadow of the Raven
William Tapply's Cutter's Run
Peter Temple's The Broken Shore
Craig Thomas's A Wild Justice
Antti Tuomainen's The Healer
Judith Van Gleson's "Neil Hamel" series
David Rains Wallace's The Turquoise Dragon
Lee Wallingford's Clear-Cut Murder
Joseph Wambaugh's Finnegan's Week
Sterling Watson's Deadly Sweet
Betty Webb's Desert Wind; The Anteater of Death 
Randy Wayne White's White Captiva
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt
K.J.A. Wishnia's The Glass Factory; 23 Shades of Black; Red House Soft Money
John Yunker's The Tourist Trail; Where Oceans Hide Their Dead
Greg Zeigler's Rare as Earth; Some Say Fire; The Straw That Broke

Reservoir Noir
Crime Fiction that deals with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons--a sad addition to the environmental crime fiction list.

Scott Carson's The Chill
Alan Dipper's Drowning Day
Eileen Dunlop's Valley of the Deer (YA)
Lee Harris's Christening Day Murder
Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height
Donald James' Walking the Shadows
James D. Landis' The Talking (Artist of the Beautiful)
Jane Langton's Emily Dickenson is Dead
Julia Wallis Martin's A Likeness in Stone
Sharyn McCrumb's Zombies of the Gene Pool
Michael Miano's The Dead of Summer
Ron Rash's One Foot in Eden
Rick Riordan's The Devil Went Down to Austin
Peter Robinson's In a Dry Season
Lisa See's Dragon Bones
Paul Somers' Broken Jigsaw
Julia Spencer-Fleming's Out of the Deep I Cry
John Milliken Thompson's The Reservoir Reservoir 13
Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes
John Morgan Wilson's Rhapsody in Blood
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt
Stuart Woods's Under the Lake

Let me know any other titles that should be included.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Crime Writers of Canada is pleased to announce the shortlists for the 2020 Arthur Ellis Awards.

Best Crime Novel sponsored by Rakuten Kobo with a $1000 prize 
Michael Christie, Greenwood, MacClelland & Stewart
Ian Hamilton, Fate, House of Anansi Press
Nicole Lundrigan, Hideaway, Penguin Random House Canada
Marissa Stapley, The Last Resort, Simon & Schuster Canada
Loreth Anne White, In the Dark, Montlake Romance

The Angela Harrison Memorial Award for Best Crime First Novel sponsored by Maureen Jennings with a $500 prize 
Philip Elliott, Nobody Move, Into the Void Press
Denis Coupal, Blindshot, Linda Leith Publishing
Nicole Bross, Past Presence, Literary Wanderlust

Best Crime Novella sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $200 prize 
Wayne Arthurson, The Red Chesterfield, University of Calgary Press
Barbara Fradkin, Blood Ties, Orca Book Publishers
Brenda Chapman, Too Close to Home, Grass Roots Press
Melodie Campbell, The Goddaughter Does Vegas, Orca Book Publishers
Devon Shepherd, The Woman in Apartment 615, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

Best Crime Short Story sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $300 prize
Y.S. Lee, In Plain Sight, Life is Short and Then You Die, Macmillan Publishers
Peter Sellers, Closing Doors, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Zandra Renwick, The Dead Man's Dog, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

Best French Crime Book 
Louis Carmain, Les offrandes, VLB Éditeur
Andrée Michaud, Tempêtes, Éditions Québec Amériques
Martin Michaud, Ghetto X, Libre Expression
Guillaume Morrissette, Le tribunal de la rue Quirion, Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur
Félix Ravenelle-Arcouette, Le cercle de cendres, Héliotrope

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book sponsored by Shaftesbury with a $500 prize 
Liam O'Donnell & Mike Dean, Tank & Fizz: The Case of the Tentacle Terror, Orca Book Publishers
Jo Treggiari, The Grey Sisters, Penguin Teen
Tom Ryan, Keep This to Yourself, Albert Whitman & Company
David A. Robertson, Ghosts, HighWater Press

Best Nonfiction Crime Book 
Katie Daubs, The Missing Millionaire: The True Story of Ambrose Small and the City Obsessed with Finding Him, MacClelland & Stewart
Kevin Donovan, The Billionaire Murders, Penguin Random House
Debra Komar, The Court of Better Fiction, Dundurn Press
Vanessa Brown, The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice, ECW Press
Charlotte Gray, Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

The Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished Crime Manuscript sponsored by Dundurn Press with a $500 prize 
B.L. Smith, Bert Mintenko and the Serious Business
K.P. Bartlett, Henry's Bomb Max Folsom, One Bad Day After Another
Liz Rachel Walker, The Dieppe Letters
Pam Barnsley, The River Cage

The Crime Writers of Canada is pleased to announce its 2020 Grand Master Awards. 
The Grand Master Award is presented biennially to recognize a Canadian crime writer with a substantial body of work who has garnered national and international recognition. This year, the Grand Master Award is presented to Peter Robinson.

Cartoon of the Day: Sanitizer

Monday, April 20, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Oh, the Places You'll Stay!

From Scott Metzger:

Getting it Right: Guest Post by Allison Brennan


My first book was published in January of 2006 … over 14 years ago. Sometimes I feel like I’m still a new author, fumbling along, uncertain if the writing gig is going to stick. (Okay, more than sometimes!)

Recently, I wrote a blog about research — mostly the fun things, like going to the morgue and viewing an autopsy. Participating in SWAT training drills with the FBI. Going on a private tour of Quantico which was extremely helpful when writing the early Lucy Kincaid books. Going on ride-alongs. I still have more than 50 research books on forensics, law enforcement procedures, criminal psychology, and more … but now I have a huge list of professionals I can call for information to help make my stories as realistic as possible. Cops, doctors, nurses, firefighters, FBI agents, and more.

It’s amazing that I have so many resources, and these people definitely help make my stories better. I can send any public information officer an email and say, “I’m a New York Times bestselling author and I have a question for a book.”

It wasn’t always like that.

When I first started writing, I worked in the California State Legislature. I had no books published, no website to point to, and this was before Facebook. I had friends with different areas of expertise to help me, and a few friends who were cops. I had books to look up details I needed. But for the most part, I made everything up. I took my limited knowledge and used my imagination to write The Prey, which was my fifth completed manuscript. I sold it in March of 2004 and started on the second book of a three book contract called The Hunt.

I wrote the book, thinking I knew everything. (Don’t laugh!) One of the main plot points was that the killer would target college girls at gas stations — he would wait until they went into the station (to buy food, to pay, to use the facilities) then he would put “something” in their gas tank so that 3-5 miles down the road, their car would break down in a secluded area, making it easier for him to grab his victim.

I figured I would look up what to put in the gas tank later … but by the time the book was done I’d forgotten I didn’t have that detail. Now I had a deadline … I needed the answer!

I asked my husband, who’s pretty good with cars, but he wasn’t certain there was anything you could put in a full tank. He said sugar could destroy an engine (something about tanks and war, I don’t remember) but the fuel tank would have to be near empty. So I started calling mechanics listed in the yellow pages.

Imagine this. “Hi, my name is Allison Brennan. I’m a writer working on a book and my bad guy puts something in his victim’s gas tanks in order to force the car to break down a few miles after they fill up with gas. What could he use?”

The first two mechanics hung up on me. What did they think, I planned to kill my husband? One said, “I don’t know, maybe sugar.” Which my husband already explained wouldn’t work on a full tank.

I was embarrassed and desperate. The book was done — I couldn’t change this plot point because the entire story was dependent on it. My first book hadn’t even come out yet, and I didn’t want to tell my editor I needed more time … a lot more time! … to come up with a completely different premise that I would then have to thread through the entire book …

That weekend, we went to our niece’s baptism. My brother-in-law Kevin had been hugely helpful with research for The Hunt — he’s a wildlife biologist and the bad guy was a wildlife biologist. Kevin’s the one who helped me come up with a physical clue that helped the police figure out who the killer was, based on soil in specific areas of the country. (He also loves the fact that I modeled a serial killer after him … LOL.) Anyway, because Kevin already knew the story, I shared with him my frustration about the gas tanks. He said, “Oh, John over there? He’s a mechanic. I’ll introduce you.”

I explained my story to John, and my need to put something in a full tank of gas to force the car to break down a few miles later. John said, “Molasses.”

Didn’t even have to think about it.

I asked why (because my characters would have to explain this!)

He said something like this: “You really just want to clog the fuel filter, so you need something heavier than gasoline. Sugar would work because it doesn’t dissolve in gas, but only over a long period of time. But molasses is heavier and would be pulled into the fuel filter which would clog it because it’s heavier than sugar and also doesn’t dissolve in gasoline. The car would run rough, definitely make some unusual sounds. It might not break down right away, but most people would pull over because it wouldn’t drive right. And yeah, it would take a couple miles before they would notice anything.”

I wanted to kiss him. (I didn’t.)

Now that I’m a New York Times bestselling author most strangers are happy to talk to me. I can point to 38 books and a nice website to prove that I’m not trying to kill my spouse, that the reason I want to know how to disable a car is truly for fiction.

Allison Brennan believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison is now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. Reviewers have called her “a master of suspense” and RT Book Reviews said her books are “mesmerizing” and “complex.” She’s been nominated for multiple awards, including the Thriller, RWA’s Best Romantic Suspense (five times), and twice won the Daphne du Maurier award. She currently writes two series—the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan thrillers and the Maxine Revere cold case mysteries.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

WRITING IN A TIME OF COVID 19: Guest Post by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Nancy Lynn Jarvis:
Writing in a Time of Covid 19

I’m a big fan of the late writer Gabriel Garcia Márquez, but I never imagined when I was reading Love in the Time of Cholera or A Hundred Years of Solitude how his titles would seem so appropriate for us in 2020. This Covid19 thing has put us in the middle of a mess, hasn’t it?

When we were first told to shelter at home, it didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I live alone in a mountain home and feel safe nestled there. I didn’t mind that I couldn’t interact with friends and family first-hand for a while because, like all writers, I have characters in my head talking to me, sharing who they are and what they’re doing, and keeping me company. I imagined that I could use my solitude to write.

The only thing is, I couldn’t. I’m not prone to writer’s block so that wasn’t my problem. I simply couldn’t focus. I’m not what you’d call a disciplined writer with a routine and daily page requirement, but even so, since 2008 when my first Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery came out, I have produced a total of seven books in that series, written Mags and the AARP Gang, a stand-alone coming of age (if that’s possible for characters in their eighties) comedy, written a little inside baseball book called The Truth About Hosting Airbnb, something I do―did before the virus hit―coordinated submissions from one-hundred-twenty-eight cozy mystery writers for a cookbook, and herded seventeen cats―I mean writers―who submitted short stories for an anthology. I also put out the first book in a new series, PIP Inc. Mysteries.

I can write. I can produce. I’ve done it. The only time I couldn’t was after my husband died and being in mourning stopped me from concentrating. As I stared at a computer screen, frustrated because new words didn’t flow, it seemed like my loss of focus now couldn’t be like mourning the loss of someone I loved. What I discovered is that mourning then and what was happening to me now were exactly the same thing and that I was affected in the same way.

Shock hit first. I stared at the calendar marking the passing of time, reminding myself that I had made it through another day. Grief and tears came next and regularly as the death toll rose and stories of heroic medical personnel catching the disease broke my heart. I experienced anger. How dare this be happening. Why weren’t better decisions made? How could this disease be winning? The almost overwhelming desire to awake from the nightmare and get back to normal followed, and finally, so did acceptance that life would never be normal again.

Of course life will be good again. We will adapt to our new reality. We will be able to hug one another and do the simple things we enjoy. We will come out of mourning for life as we knew it and for those we have we lost. Those born into this new world won’t divide their lives into before and after.

I’m moving through mourning this time, too, like I did after my husband’s death, and can write once more. I’m making real progress on the second book in the PIP Inc. Mysteries series which I started before this new world when I didn’t know how apt its title, The Funeral Murder, might be.

Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor for twenty-five years but was having so much fun writing that she let her license lapse in May of 2013. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz. Nancy's work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. 

In the course of writing seven books in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series, Nancy took some detours. She wrote Mags and the AARP Gang, a novel Nancy thinks was channeled through her by an eighty-three-year-old woman with a story to tell, and a little insider's book The Truth About Hosting Airbnb. She also edited Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes, and most recently, Santa Cruz Weird, a short story anthology with contributions from seventeen Santa Cruz writers.

Saturday, April 18, 2020


I know this won't have the 'authenticity' of the original Perry Mason series with Raymond Burr, but I'm looking forward to watching this production with Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason. I do love courtroom drama, but this may not be that. It promises to be much more Noir.

This HBO series is set to debut on June 21 and will star Matthew Rhys. Time period: 1931 Los Angeles -- the time of the Great Depression, but also including an LA oil boom, the Olympic Games, and the growing film industry.

Can't wait until June? Catch up on the original series. Available on several different streaming services and YouTube. 

Here's the Trailer for the new Series.

Cartoon of the Day: Walkies

Thanks to Carol Fairweather for sending this.

Friday, April 17, 2020


The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Winners were just announced. The literary awards continue to champion new voices and celebrate the highest quality of writing from authors at all stages of their careers.

2019 Book Prizes Winners
  • Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: Namwali Serpell, “The Old Drift: A Novel,” Hogarth
  • Biography: George Packer, “Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century,” Knopf
  • Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose: Emily Bernard, “Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine,” Knopf
  • Current Interest: Emily Bazelon, “Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration,” Random House
  • Fiction: Ben Lerner, “The Topeka School: A Novel,” Farrar, Straus, Giroux
  • Graphic Novel/Comics: Eleanor Davis, “The Hard Tomorrow,” Drawn & Quarterly
  • History: Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South,” Yale University Press
  • Mystery/Thriller: Steph Cha, “Your House Will Pay: A Novel,” Ecco
  • Poetry: Ilya Kaminsky, “Deaf Republic: Poems,” Graywolf Press
  • Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction: Marlon James, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” (The Dark Star Trilogy Book 1), Riverhead
  • Science & Technology: Maria Popova, “Figuring,” Knopf
  • Young Adult Literature: Malla Nunn, “When the Ground is Hard,” G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
The Book Prizes recognized outstanding literary works in 12 categories, including the new Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction. Walter Mosley was honored with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, and WriteGirl received the Innovator’s Award for its contributions to the community, promoting literacy and creativity to empower girls.

The Book Prizes awards ceremony is traditionally part of the Festival of Books weekend, but the springtime events were cancelled in light of public health concerns related to the coronavirus. The Festival of Books was rescheduled to Oct. 3-4 at USC. Festival of Books news and updates are available on the event website, Facebook page and Twitter feed (#bookfest).


Rubem Fonseca, Brazilian writer, passed away on April 15, at the age of 94. He was one of my favorite authors.

From A Crime is Afoot: 

Fonseca was born 11 May 1925 in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, but he lived most of his life in Rio de Janeiro. In 1952, he started his career as a low-level cop and, later became a police commissioner, one of the highest ranks in the civil police of Brazil. Following the steps of American novelist Thomas Pynchon, a close friend of Fonseca, he refused to give interviews and felt strongly about maintaining his privacy.His stories are dark and gritty, filled with violence and sexual content, and usually set in an urban environment. He claimed a writer should have the courage to show what most people are afraid to say. Authors from the rising generation of Brazilian writers, such as Patrícia Melo or Luiz Ruffato, have stated that Fonseca’s writing has influenced their work.

He started his career by writing short stories, considered by some critics as his strongest literary creations. His first popular novel was A Grande Arte (High Art), but Agosto is usually considered his best work. In 2003, he won the Camões Prize, considered to be the most important award in the Portuguese language. In 2012 he became the first recipient of Chile’s Manuel Rojas Ibero-American Narrative Award. He died in Rio de Janeiro in 15 April 2020 at the age of 94 just 26 days before his 95th birthday.

From CinemaTropical
Throughout his professional career, Fonseca had a close relationship to cinema, as several of his short stories and novels where adapted to film and to television, and also working as a screenwriter. His first screenplay was for the 1971 film Lúcia McCartney, Uma Garota de Programa directed by David Neves and based on Fonseca’s 1967 short stories “Lúcia McCartney” and “O caso de F.A." The film starred Adriana Prieto in the leading role as a prostitute obsessed with the Beatles.
In 1974 he wrote the screenplay for the film Relatório de Um Homem Casado directed by Flávio Tambellini and based on his short story “Relatório de Carlos." The film tells the story of a married lawyer who gets romantically involved with one of his clients. Yet the relationship turns into an obsession, and the female lover realizing she'll never manage to separate him from his wife, decides to run away with another man.
A year later Fonseca worked on the screenplay of A Extorsão, also directed by Tambellini. The crime thriller follows a couple as they get blackmailed in a compromising situation, but as they refuse to play the game, their daughter gets kidnapped.
After a long hiatus, Fonseca returned to cinema writing the screenplay of Stelinha in 1990. Starring Estér Góes and directed by Miguel Faria Jr. the drama tells the story of a young rock singer who meets his childhood heroine, a famous singer who is now wallowing in alcohol and sex. The film was the winner of the Best Screenplay Award at the Gramado Film Festival, along with other numerous awards including for Best Film Best Director and Best Actress.
In 1991, filmmaker Walter Salles (Central Station. The Motorcycle Diaries) made his directorial debut with Fonseca’s acclaimed novel High Art, adapted to the big screen by the writer himself and Matthew Chapman. Released in the U.S. by Miramax Films as Exposure, the film starred American actor Peter Coyote, with Tchéky Karyo, Amanda Pays, Raul Cortez, Giulia Gam and Paulo José, among others. Set in Rio de Janeiro, the thriller follows an American photographer that becomes involved in the world of "knife culture" when he sets out to find the killer of one of his models. Janet Maslin her New York Times review of the film described it as “moody” and “ambitious.”
His novel Agosto, about the suicide of President Getúlio Vargas, was produced as a miniseries by the Globo network in 1993, and directed by Jorge Furtado, Giba Assis Brasil, Paulo José, Denise Saraceni and José Henrique Fonseca, son of the writer.