Thursday, July 30, 2020


From Deadline:

AMC streamer Acorn TV has unveiled its second original in the space of a week, boarding the crime drama Cannes Confidential.

Penned by Midsomer Murders and Van der Valk writer Chris Murray, the eight-part series is a romantic procedural that blends comedy, mystery and crime detection with a heart-warming love story — all against the backdrop of the Cote d’Azur.

Deadline first revealed that Murray — who has also written for Acorn series Agatha Raisin — was working on the project through Dramacorp, the Stockholm-based production company founded by Patrick Nebout, part of Jan Mojto’s Beta Film. Maria Ward (Agatha Raisin) is co-writing the series. Acorn Media Enterprises is co-producing.

Acorn is billing Cannes Confidential as the first English-language procedural drama to be produced and set on the Cote d’Azur since the 1970s action-adventure comedy The Persuaders, starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis. Production will begin in Cannes in early 2021.

“With its engaging, blue sky script and beautiful setting, Cannes Confidential is the kind of program the world could use right now and is sure to entertain Acorn TV subscribers worldwide,” said Catherine Mackin, managing director of Acorn Media Enterprises.

Dramacorp COO Nebout added: “Chris Murray has a genius for creating deeply loved and witty characters and stories that run and run. The setting of Cannes Confidential is upbeat, colourful and spectacular, the wittiness is there, yet Chris and Maria are developing multi-layered main characters and strong emotional arcs, taking the procedural genre into a more elevated and romantic direction.”
Nebout executive produces alongside Henrik Jansson-Schweizer. The series will premiere on Acorn TV in North America, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK next year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

BOURNE AGAIN: Stepping into the Shoes of an Icon: Guest Post by Brian Freeman

BOURNE AGAIN: Stepping into the Shoes of an Icon

I first read Robert Ludlum’s THE BOURNE IDENTITY when it was released in 1980. That was forty years ago. I was seventeen years old.

Since then, Jason Bourne’s reputation as an iconic thriller hero has only grown – through three bestsellers by Ludlum, a continuation after Ludlum’s death with eleven more books by Eric Van Lustbader, and a wildly successful movie franchise featuring Matt Damon. (Bonus points as a Bourne aficionado if you also remember the 1988 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith.)

So when Putnam Books and the Ludlum estate asked me to bring back Jason Bourne in an all-new re-boot of the series, I knew I had big shoes to fill. I also had to keep a lot of different audiences happy: devotees of Ludlum and his original novels, Eric’s many fans, and the millions of Matt Damon movie lovers. They all had very different ideas of who Bourne is.

My goal was to bring Bourne into the modern era (after 40 years, a Vietnam backstory wouldn’t really work today!) and re-introduce this character in a way that keeps all of his essence as a hero, but gives the series a fresh new start. So THE BOURNE EVOLUTION functions as a stand-alone; you can read this book without having read any of the earlier Bourne books or seen any of the movies. However, my hope is that existing fans of Ludlum and Bourne (and Matt Damon, too!) will also immediately recognize the character they’ve known and loved for years.

In planning the next iteration of Jason Bourne, I started with one question: What is it about Bourne that has made him such an iconic figure in the thriller world? Why has he endured all these years?

Ironically, I think part of Bourne’s appeal is that he’s not a super-hero, not in the Jack Reacher or Mitch Rapp sense. Because of his lost memory, he’s fractured, constantly questioning himself and dealing with uncertainty over his own identity. Is he a killer? Is he a moral man? Can he trust himself? That inner dialogue is a part of Bourne’s day-to-day life, and it’s part of what humanizes him for readers.

Because of that struggle, Bourne’s instinct is to be a loner. The movie versions play up this side of his personality, as most of his fight is simply a desire to be left alone. In Ludlum’s books, Bourne pushes people away because of his fears over who he is. And yet, at heart, his relationships (especially with his lover and then wife Marie St. Jacques) define Bourne and help him rise above his past. He thinks he needs to be alone, but that’s not really what he wants.

So in THE BOURNE EVOLUTION, I was trying to get back to the roots of Jason Bourne in all of his moral and emotional complexity. This book isolates Bourne by making him the target of a manhunt as the suspect in a political assassination. As he looks for a way to escape from this maze, he must embrace the help of a journalist named Abbey Laurent, for whom Bourne feels a deep (but reluctant) attraction. Like Marie St. Jacques, Abbey recognizes that Bourne is something far deeper than a killer, even if that’s all that Bourne sees in himself.

Taking a page from most of the Ludlum books, THE BOURNE EVOLUTION also places Bourne at the center of a far-reaching conspiracy. In this case, the threat is grounded in “ripped from the headlines” data hacking and social media manipulation. In many ways, the current era is the perfect time to re-imagine Bourne, because Ludlum’s plots emerged out of the 1970s as a product of Vietnam and Watergate, when conspiracy theories and distrust in government ran rampant. Sound familiar? The story of THE BOURNE EVOLUTION will feel classically “Ludlum” because of the eerie similarities in the times – and yet it should also feel as if you’re reading today’s newspaper.

As for fans of THE BOURNE IDENTITY, you’ll find fun little echoes of the original novel in this re-boot. Some are “big picture” tributes – Marie St. Jacques from the first Bourne novel was a Canadian economist; Abbey Laurent is a Canadian journalist – but other references are just tiny tips of the hat to the Ludlum classic. One of the main characters in THE BOURNE IDENTITY, for example, is a French general named Villiers. In THE BOURNE EVOLUTION, Bourne and Abbey follow a suspect in the conspiracy to a New York wine bar named – you guessed it – Villiers.

So this July, I hope you’ll welcome Jason Bourne back to the thriller world. For me, it was a real honor (and an exciting creative challenge) to step into the shoes of an author, book, and character I’ve loved since I was a kid.

Brian Freeman ( is a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty psychological thrillers. His novel SPILLED BLOOD won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the ITW Thriller Awards. His first Jason Bourne book for the Robert Ludlum estate, THE BOURNE EVOLUTION, was published on July 28.

Cartoon of the Day: Coming Soon! Classic Novels with Added Positivity

From Tom Gauld:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Masterpiece on PBS Fall Season: Van der Valk, Flesh and Blood, Roadkill

MASTERPIECE on PBS has announced its Fall 2020 season that includes Roadkill, a political drama scripted by David Hare and starring Hugh Laurie; Flesh and Blood, a dark and comedic thriller with Imelda Staunton and Francesca Annis, and Van der Valk, a remake of a popular British crime series set in Amsterdam starring Marc Warren as the title character.

September 13 at 9/8c: VAN DER VALK
Van der Valk kicks off the season with Marc Warren (The Good Wife) as detective Piet Van der Valk in a new three-part adaptation. Amsterdam is more dangerous than ever as Piet tracks murderers in the realms of politics, mysticism, and fashion.

Watch a Trailer for Van der Valk:


October 4 at 9/8c: FLESH AND BLOOD Lust, greed, wrath, envy, and pride are just some of the deadly sins that plague a seemingly happy family in a juicy mystery about the perils of late-life romance in Flesh and Blood, airing in four cliffhanging episodes. Described by the Telegraph (UK) as “a delicious game of Guess Who,” Flesh and Blood stars Imelda Staunton (recently cast as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown), Francesca Annis (Cranford) and Steven Rea (The Stranger).

November 1 at 9/8c: ROADKILL Hugh Laurie (House, The Night Manager) stars as a scheming politician in a taut drama scripted by two-time Academy Award®- nominee David Hare (The Hours, The Reader) in Roadkill, airing on MASTERPIECE in four episodes. Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders) plays the devious Prime Minister.

The Importance of Place: Guest Post by Larry Maness

Larry Maness:
The Importance of Place

Over the years, my wife, Marianne, and I have traveled in Italy from Turin in the north to Salerno in the south staying anywhere from a few days to 6 months in cities and towns like Rome, Florence, Siena, Modena, Bologna, Venice and the tiny hilltop town of Civezza where I based my fifth novel, The Last Perdoux.

An 800-year-old village along what is known as the Italian Riveria, Civezza was built on top of the eastern edge of the Maritime Apennines halfway between Genoa and Nice. With its expansive view of the Medeterrian, early settlers built four, stone, lookout towers, two at each end of the village, to spot any invading ships. Now, with a population of only 348 mostly elderly and self-sufficient Italians, the towers are gone, and the view is terraced olive trees and small vineyards with a narrow tarmac road carrying the twice-daily bus from Porto Maurizio through dangerous hairpin turns.

A dot on a map, Civezza appears unremarkable. Having spent nearly four months there drafting The Last Perdoux, I say it was one of the most fascinating experiences in my Italian travels.

Like many small Italian villages, Civezza provides few draws for tourists. At the lower end of the village sits Chiesa San Marco Evangelista, the Catholic church first built in the 1400s, then refurbished in the 1700s. The church bells rang every half-hour, twenty-four hours a day. I will never forget the ringing bells and the waw-waw-waw of the Porto bus signaling its climb up the mountain.

From the church, via Dante, the village’s steep and narrow cobble-stone main street, angles up past attached ochre-colored houses, past a small but functional alimentari where pasta and canned goods were always available as well as the occasional dressed rabbit and chicken. A fountain in the middle of a small piazza with a few outside chairs marks the local café where village elders—including Giuseppe, our next door neighbor who sold us his own olive oil and wine-gather for coffee, cigarettes, and talk.

Fresh vegetables required a bus ride down the mountain to the farmer’s market in Porto Maurizio where many shops, newsstands, and trattorias could be found. In distance it wasn’t far, but the bus didn’t always run on time, or when it did, it didn’t always run back to Civezza. Mechanical failure or bus driver strikes often left us shoppers scrambling for a ride up the mountain, carrying bags of long-stemmed artichokes, kale, and local cheeses before they spoiled in the heat. Other than trips to the market, we had little use for a car and never rented one. Besides, via Dante was too narrow for the smallest Italian car to pass. Even motorcycles were risky as the house front doors, our rental included, opened directly onto the narrow street.

We knew much of village life before we signed the lease as our landlady was the friend of one of Marianne’s Cambridge acquaintances. As such, one conversation led to another, and before long we were looking at pictures of a lovely apartment overlooking the Medeterrian with fig, lemon, and orange trees growing in the backyard garden. It was the perfect setting for the novel I had been researching. I was eager to move in and get started writing.

A combination of research and firsthand experiences have shaped my four previously novels. To help me capture the seafaring elements of Nantucket’s history, I drafted Nantucket Revenge, my first Jake Eaton mystery, while living on a boat for three months in Nantucket Harbor. For Strangler, my third Jake Eaton novel based on the Boston Strangler case, I sought out all of the Boston area crime scenes where Albert DeSalvo supposedly strangled his 11 victims. (Strangler makes the case that DeSalvo was not the Boston Strangler and later DNA testing proved me right.) For my new novel, The Last Perdoux, I wanted to absorb as much of what living in a small Italian village was like, so that I could write about it with confidence.

In fiction, an author can set his plot in motion most anywhere. The best settings, however, are intriguing for the reader and authentic. I knew I wanted to write a novel that had its genesis in World War II with the Nazi art plunder in France and Italy. I also knew that I did not want to tell a war story or a story about the sins of the German army. I wanted to tell a more personal, human story using the Nazi looting as background. I wanted to tell a small story in a small setting, focusing on the theft of one painting, a stolen Rembrandt in the possession of a ruthless Italian art collector sought out by Theo R. Perdoux whose goal is to return the painting to his family’s collection.

The painting, of course, is discovered hanging in Corso, the name of the novel’s fictional village. Why a priceless painting hangs in a small hilltop town is part of the mystery as is the family relationship between the German officer who looted the painting from the Perdouxs in the first place. The art collector, the looter, and the last Perdoux all meet in Corso to battle for the prize. Here is Theo describing his first look at Corso: “A stone stairway led up to via Dante at such a steep angle that I was breathing hard halfway to the top. I stopped to catch my breath beside a small backyard garden filled with lemon, orange, and fig trees. Giant hedges of pungent rosemary-nearly four feet tall—flanked the stairs. Had I not been on a mission, I would have stopped to drink in the simple beauty of this small piece of heaven.”

The real Civezza is not heaven, but it was the perfect place to set The Last Perdoux.


Larry Maness is the author of the Jake Eaton mystery series, which is being reprinted by Speaking Volumes Publishing starting April, 2020. His new novel, The Last Perdoux, will be published by SVP this fall.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Judging Me by My Covers by Allison Montclair

Allison Montclair: 
Judging Me by My Covers 

Writing a book is a solitary process. Publishing one is anything but. The stages of editing, copy-editing, proof-reading, and so forth are all laborious, necessary, and tedious to recount. However, there is that glorious moment where you open up your e-mail to see [Tympani roll! Fanfares!] the cover art.

Be honest — when you think of a book that you’ve loved, the memory includes the cover. A good one will make you pause in your rambling through the aisles, pinging your subconscious before you even have taken the rational series of mental steps that culminate in your reaching out to pluck this book from amongst the hundreds to read the flap copy [flap copywriting! Another unheralded art!]

A good cover artist will tell a story in a single image, one that will give a sense of what lies ahead for the lucky reader while not giving too much away. It’s something I cannot do, despite having artists in the family. That particular gene was not passed along, but my lack of talent in that area makes me appreciate even more those who do it well.

Now, does the fact that the book-making process is handled by people better qualified than the author mean that the author has no input into it? It depends on the relationship between the author and her editor. The editor is the one who makes the final decision approving the design of the book which is, after all, a part of the marketing process. There are authors who do understand marketing [I am certainly not one of them], and there are authors who may have sufficient clout to muscle in on these decisions [see previous comment in brackets, plus I am not a muscling-in sort of person]. In my case, I am very fortunate to have a good working relationship and friendship with my editor.

So when I first received the proposed cover for The Right Sort of Man, I cautiously ventured a couple of comments, both involving the dress of the two characters depicted — a woman in the foreground holding a small note pad either watching or following a male figure in the distance. These comments were passed on to the artist, Mick Wiggins, and he graciously incorporated them into the final version.

The result is one of the most glorious covers I have ever seen. The colour scheme, with a background palette of oranges and yellows, is simply breathtaking. The positioning of the two characters shows tension and mystery, and there is the wonderful little detail of a bloody knife used to cross the ’t’ in the word ‘Right’ in the lettering of the title. This last is subtly done, more likely to hook the subconscious than to register at first glance, but hook it, it will.

When the second book, A Royal Affair, was in the production stages, I asked if the same artist would be doing the next cover. I was told, to my initial disappointment, that he would not be. But don’t worry, my editor reassured me, the new artist was very good. In fact, he had been responsible for the posters for Lincoln Center Theater.


James McMullan. The James McMullan would be doing the cover for my book.

You have to understand — I am a theater geek. I’ve been going to theater in New York for decades, and there are two artists whose work, displayed in subway platforms, bus stops, and billboards, has been synonymous with that world. One is Paul Brooks Davis, whose posters for the New York Shakespeare Festival include the iconic portrait of Raul Julia in “Threepenny Opera.” The other is James McMullan.

McMullan’s theater work started with the poster for Trevor Griffiths’ play “Comedians,” which introduced Jonathan Pryce to the world. I saw it. His relationship with Lincoln Center Theater began with John Guare’s “The House of Blue Leaves.” Saw that too!

In fact, I cannot even tell you how many shows I have seen for which McMullan did the posters. And now he was doing my book cover!

I felt unworthy.

There is a wonderful Vanity Fair profile of McMullan which you can find at What leapt out in particular was the description of his technique, particularly that he works with vintage watercolour paper, last manufactured in 1955. “His precious stockpile is now down to 80 sheets. (‘It’s a race to the finish—whoever goes first, me or the paper.’)”

I don’t know if he uses that for his book covers as well, but the end result both echoed the work of Wiggins on the first book while giving it his own stamp. A Royal Affair concerns Sparks and Bainbridge’s investigation into a rumour about Prince Philip, who is courting Princess Elizabeth in 1946. Once again, a woman in the foreground is gazing into the distance, only this time at a young couple in a romantic embrace. Look closely, and you’ll see the details of his naval uniform, the cap in his left hand.

I cannot tell you how fortunate I feel to have Mr. McMullan illustrating my efforts. And he has done it again. I just saw the first draft of the proposed cover for Book Three, A Rogue’s Company. I am satisfied. Actually, I am ecstatic!

And I can only hope that you find that the books are as good as their covers.


ALLISON MONTCLAIR grew up devouring hand-me-down Agatha Christie paperbacks and James Bond movies. As a result of this deplorable upbringing, Montclair became addicted to tales of crime, intrigue, and espionage. She now spends her spare time poking through the corners, nooks, and crannies of history, searching for the odd mysterious bits and transforming them into novels of her own. She is the author of The Right Sort of Man and A Royal Affair.

Read The Saturday Reader's Review of "The Right Sort of Man" by Allison Montclair here.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

My Characters Talk to Me: Guest Post by Abby Collette

Abby Collette:
My Characters Talk To Me 

I’m a pantser!

Everyone has a writing style. Mine though isn’t prearranged, which is actually quite opposite of how I do everything else. Some writers are plotters. They scope out most, if not all of the story before they even get started. Beginning to end. Outlines. Notecards. They’re very organized when it comes to how their story will be constructed. And it’s true, detailed outlines do help to keep the story on track. It’s helpful for some to follow a road map, usually intended and often much needed, to help keep the writer from going off on a tangent.

But not me.

Some writers write by the "seat of their pants." They’re called pantsers.

That’s me.

When I was growing up my mother always said, “there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place.” I kind of live like that. I like to have everything organized—a drawer for this, a cabinet for that. But my writing process is completely different. I write on napkins and receipts when ideas pop into my head (and I tell you, it’s no easy feat trying to keep up with those scraps of paper). That’s not to say I don’t outline some, usually just to organize my thoughts, so I do keep a notebook, but it isn’t always very helpful. I’ve been told it looks like the diary of a mad woman. I write up the side of the page, across it on an angle, some sentences in all caps, some with circles around words and asterisks next to them. And once my writing has gone cold, I’m not even sure what I’ve written. It looks like chicken scratch. So mostly, I just basically wing it.

My writing process is a mess. And that’s probably not a good thing seeing that I write mysteries. (When people ask advice on writing and are interested in my writing process, how I can churn out a book in less than a month, I warn that my process is not one to follow!)

Cozy mysteries, the kind of stories I tell, where readers like to follow the clues to see if they can solve the whodunit right along with the amateur sleuth, must have organization to it—some logic. And while there's not graphic violence, readers do like a touch of drama to the story—yes, they still crave a page-turner. Logic and a story that will keep a reader turning pages is not something anyone can do willy-nilly. It’s easy, when you don’t have a plan, to get bogged down in unnecessary and irrelevant details and lose track of plot points, forgetting to add the clues that your readers crave (and what will make your story believable) and be unable to provide tension and edginess needed to keep that story moving.

The plot of any story is just a series of scenes deliberately put together. The scenes, no matter the genre, are filled with drama and conflict that the writer weaves their characters through. And then those scenes, strung together, build up the anxiety and anticipation that will pull your reader down the rabbit hole, keeping them up all night to finish reading your story.

Having no plan ahead of time can make arranging those scenes hard, making it easier to get stuck, making the writer either have to revise or restart their story.

But not me.

For me, I like the freedom in being able to take my story in any direction I want as I write. Writing by the seat of my pants gives me they flexibility for my imagination to take flight with every word, every scene, every chapter. And it gives me the opportunity to let my characters talk to me. Often characters and situations enter my writing without me ever knowing ahead of time that they were going to be there. Without being stuck to a pre-set plan, if I don’t like the way the plot is going or how characters feel, think or act, things can change. My story and the characters in it can evolve all on their own.

Recently, I was working on one of the subsequent books in my new series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery, (the first book, A Deadly Inside Scoop, is out now), and I decided I needed a subplot. I thought of including it as I neared the end of the book and so I just dropped it in there. But I knew I’d have to go back and make reference to it near the beginning so it wouldn’t appear to have been thrown in at the last minute (although it was). After doing that, I realized that I needed to expand on that subplot a little more. But as I did that, a new character popped up on the page. I never saw him coming! But Win, my main character, was so enamored with him when she found him at the front door of her ice cream shop, Crewse Creamery. Butterflies. Blushing. Befuddled. (Believe me once I introduced the character, I had no idea she was going to react that way!) That totally surprised me because I’d never seen her get so flustered. Win’s reaction took everything, for that new character, in a different direction from that point on.

I wholeheartedly agree with Terry Pratchett’s quote about writing characters. He says, in part, when writing your characters all you need do is “wind them up, put them down, and simply write down what they do, say or think.”

My stories are murder mysteries so of course there’s a body to be found in all of them. But, in my books, the characters (who drive the story) drive themselves, and there is no way I can know what they are going to do to solve the murder beforehand. When writing a story all I can do is hope that my characters can figure it out because most times I have no clue.


Abby Collette loves a good mystery. She was born and raised in Cleveland, and it’s a mystery even to her why she hasn’t yet moved to a warmer place. Along with the Ice Cream Parlor mysteries, she is the author of the Logan Dickerson Mysteries, the southern cozy mystery series featuring a second-generation archaeologist and a nonagenarian who is always digging up trouble. She is also the author of the Romaine Wilder Mysteries, set in East Texas, which pairs a medical examiner and her feisty auntie who owns a funeral home and is always ready to solve a whodunit. Abby spends her time writing, facilitating writing workshops at local libraries and spending time with her grandchildren, each of whom are her favorite.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Dogs & Masks

I have no idea where I found this, but I think it's priceless! Just had to share. Thanks to the human photographer and his/her dog subject. Don't miss the poster in the background!



A Dream of Death
Connie Berry

The White Heron
Carl and Jane Bock

The Mammoth Murders
Iris Chacon

Blood Moon Rising
Richard Conrath

John DeDakis
Lovely Digits
Jeanine Englert

The Marsh Mallows
Henry Hack

Murder at the Candlelight Vigil
Karen McCarthy

Murder Creek
Jane Suen

The Deadliest Thief
June Trop

Red Specter
Brian Andrews and
Jeffrey Wilson

All Hollow
Simeon Courtie

Deadly Obsession
Shirley B. Garrett

The Gryphon Heist
James R. Hannibal

Low Country Blood
Sue Hinkin 
Hyperion's Fracture
Thomas Kelso

Leslie McCauley

The Secret Child
Caroline Mitchell

The Silent Victim
Dana Perry

Downhill Fast
Dana J. Summers

Fade to the Edge
Kathryn J. Bain

Below the Fold
R.G. Belsky

Murder on the Third Try
K.P. Gresham

Queen’s Gambit
Bradley Harper

The Strange Disappearance
of Rose Stone

J.E. Irvin
Revenge in Barcelona
Kathryn Lane

The Daughter of Death
Dianne McCartney

VIPER, A Jessica James Mystery
Kelly Oliver

Downhill Fast
Dana J. Summers

The Scions of Atlantis
Claudia Turner

Action or Adventure

Westfarrow Island
Paul A. Barra
The Measure of Ella
Toni Bird Jones
Dangerous Conditions
Jenna Kernan
The Best Lousy Choice
Jim Nesbitt
Angel in the Fog
Tj Turner


Two Bites Too Many
Debra H. Goldstein
A Sip Before Dying
Gemma Halliday
Bad Pick
Linda Lovely
The Fog Ladies
Susan McCormick
Twisted Plots
Bonita McCoy

Procedural or P.I.

Russian Mojito
Carmen Amato
Mark Bergin

The Things That Are Different
Peter W.J. Hayes

Paid in Spades
Richard Helms

The Dead of Summer
Jean Rabe

Juvenile or Y.A.

Daughter Undisclosed
Susan K. Flach

Speak No Evil
Liana Gardner

The Clockwork Dragon
James R. Hannibal

Kassy O'Roarke, Cub Reporter
Kelly Oliver

This Dark and Bloody Ground
Lori Roberts

Short Story Anthology
or Collection

Couch Detective
James Glass
Words on Water
Harpeth River Writers
A Midnight Clear
Lindy Ryan

Last Call
Manning Wolf & Laura Oles
The Muse of Wallace Rose
Bill Woods

Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror

The Line Between
Tosca Lee
A Single Light
Tosca Lee
To the Bones
Valerie Nieman
Moon Deeds
Palmer Pickering
Dreamed It
Maggie Toussaint

DAVITT AWARDS SHORTLISTS: Sisters in Crime Australia

Sisters in Crime Australia announced the shortlist for the Davitt Awards, named for Ellen Davitt (1812-1879), Australia’s first crime novelist, who wrote Australia's first mystery novel, Force and Fraud (1865).

Adult Crime Novels
Bruny, Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin)
Eight Lives, Susan Hurley (Affirm Press) Debut
Life Before, Carmel Reilly (Allen & Unwin) Debut
Present Tense, Natalie Conyer (Clan Destine Press) Debut
The Scholar, Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Australia)
Six Minutes, Petronella McGovern (Allen & Unwin) Debut
The Trespassers, Meg Mundell (University of Queensland Press) Debut

Young Adult Crime Novels
All That Impossible Space, Anna Morgan (Lothian Children’s Books, a Hachette Australia imprint) Debut
Four Dead Queens, Astrid Scholte (Allen & Unwin) Debut
When the Ground is Hard, Malla Nunn (Allen & Unwin)

Children’s Crime Novels
The Girl in the Mirror, Jenny Blackford (Eagle Books, an imprint of Christmas Press) Debut
The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Lucerne, Katrina Nannestad (The Girl, the Dog and the Writer #3, ABC Books, a HarperCollins Australia imprint)
Jinxed!: The curious curse of Cora Bell, Rebecca McRitchie (Jinxed #1, HarperCollins Australia)
Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery, Renée Treml (Allen & Unwin) Debut

Non-fiction Crime Books
Banking Bad: Whistleblowers. Corporate cover-ups. One journalist’s fight for the truth, Adele Ferguson
(ABC Books, ABC Books, a HarperCollins Australia imprint) Debut
Fallen: The inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell, Lucie Morris-Marr (Allen & Unwin) Debut
Fixed It: Violence and the representation of women in the media, Jane Gilmore (Viking, an imprint
of Penguin Random House Australia)
See What You Made Me Do: Power, control and domestic abuse, Jess Hill (Black Inc.) Debut
Troll Hunting: Inside the world of online hate and its human fallout, Ginger Gorman (Hardie Grant
Books) Debut

Debut crime books
Banking Bad: Whistleblowers. Corporate cover-ups. One journalist’s fight for the truth, Adele Ferguson (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Australia)
Bee and the Orange Tree, The, Melissa Ashley (Affirm Press)
Drover’s Wife, The, Leah Purcell (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia)
Eight Lives, Susan Hurley (Affirm Press)
Four Dead Queens, Astrid Scholte (Allen & Unwin)
Life Before, Carmel Reilly (Allen & Unwin)
Present Tense, Natalie Conyer (Clan Destine Press)
Six Minutes, Petronella McGovern (Allen & Unwin)
Troll Hunting: Inside the world of online hate and its human fallout, Ginger Gorman (Hardie Grant Books)

The Davitt Award ceremony will be conducted by Zoom this year. A new trophy is being designed to mark the 20th anniversary of the awards.

 HT: The Rap Sheet

Thursday, July 23, 2020

2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Belfast born Adrian McKinty has been awarded the UK’s most prestigious accolade in crime writing, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, for his best-selling thriller, The Chain, that sees parents forced to abduct children to save the lives of their own.

The Chain was chosen by public vote and the prize judges.

From Fictionophile:

What Adrian McKinty says about his win:
“I am gobsmacked and delighted to win this award. Two years ago, I had given up on writing altogether and was working in a bar and driving an uber, and so to go from that to this is just amazing. People think that you write a book and it will be an immediate bestseller. For twelve books, my experience was quite the opposite, but then I started this one. It was deliberately high concept, deliberately different to everything else I had written – and I was still convinced it wouldn’t go anywhere… but now look at this. It has been completely life changing.”

2020 marks the 16th year of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. The prize was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction and is open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2019 to 30 April 2020. The award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

POPCORN READING: Guest post by Barbara Nickless

Barbara Nickless:
Popcorn Reading

My mother, an English Literature teacher, had a weakness for what she called “popcorn books.” These were books she felt had little value other than to entertain. But what pleasure they gave her! She raced through the likes of Helen MacInnes, Dick Francis, Irwin Shaw, and Ken Follet. (And I would argue that many of these books serve as more than mere entertainments.) She also consumed a steady diet of what she called “important” books by authors like Alexander Solzhenitsyn and William Styron.

Like any good mother guarding her child’s well-being, my mom kept me on a strict regimen of classics like Old Yeller and The Yearling, later followed by Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, and Victor Hugo. I suppose she considered these the literary equivalent of eating my vegetables, although I found them far more palatable than the broccoli on my plate.

To show how deeply I’d fallen under my mother’s influence, here’s a case in point. When it came time for my middle-school advanced English class to vote for what book we wanted to read, I nominated Thomas Hardy’s Tess of d’Urbervilles. The other eight votes went to The Godfather. I was truly a nerd’s nerd.

My fall into my own popcorn reading happened overnight. It was the summer before I started high school, and my mom had stumbled upon the novels of Peter Benchley. The saltiest, most buttery of popcorn! She had a copy of Benchley’s first novel, Jaws, on her nightstand. I was given strict orders not to read it. She deemed it (correctly, it turns out) as inappropriate for my tender mind and likely to induce nightmares.

If you’re unfamiliar with the cover of the book, go take a look. My mom’s edition included not only the shark and the naked woman, but the words “#1 Superthriller. A Novel of Relentless Terror.”

Now ask yourself how any teenager could not pick up this book.

Every day, when my mom left the house, I slipped into her bedroom. I perched on the edge of her neatly made bed, ready to replace the book and disappear into my room should she return unexpectedly. How deliciously vivid was Benchley’s world of a Long Island resort town terrorized by a monster of the deep. How the pages flew beneath my fingers, my heart pounding over who would fall next into the great shark’s maw. My terror was heightened by the illicitness of what I was doing.

Thus began a lifetime of conflict. Not between my mother and me. But over my own reading lists. What books would share my holidays? Would I spend the long summer months reading War and Peace and Vanity Fair? Or bury my nose in Arthur C. Clark, Larry Niven, and Anne McCaffery? Even as I started an undergraduate degree in literature and felt a sense of accomplishment working my way through James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, I took a break every day at lunch by hiding a copy of A. Merritt’s The Metal Monster or its ilk inside the pages.

At some point, the inner turmoil faded away. I came to value each book for what it offered. The truth is, what we now call beach reading is a vital element in the literary canon. All books entertain. And all books help. After we lost our home in a wildfire, I mentally flew south every night, to the Amazon rainforest via Anne Patchett’s State of Wonder. After a devastating death in the family, I stayed a little closer to home, slipping across the border each night to follow a mother and her son in American Dirt. In between I delighted in mystery novels, tales of espionage, and more than a few books of speculative fiction.

After my mom passed away and it came time to sort through her library, I reveled in her eclectic choices. From Ian Fleming to Norman Mailer to Homer, my mother read—and loved—them all.

That was the greatest gift she gave me.


Barbara Nickless is the author of the award-winning Sydney Parnell crime novels featuring a railway cop and her K9 partner. About the series, Jeffery Deaver promises “you'll fall in love with one of the best characters in thriller fiction.” The series has been optioned for television. Barbara’s essays and short stories have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Criminal Element, Penguin Random House, and other markets. She also teaches creative writing to veterans at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Barbara is often in the Rocky Mountains where she loves to hike, cave, and drink single malt Scotch—although usually not at the same time. You can find her—and her reading list—at

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

MAGPIE MURDERS to be broadcast in US by PBS Masterpiece

From Deadline:

PBS Masterpiece is set to broadcast murder mystery Magpie Murders, a six-part drama series based on Anthony Horowitz’s bestselling novel. An air date has not been announced.

Adapted by Horowitz for television, Magpie Murders revolves around the character Susan Ryeland, an editor who is given an unfinished manuscript of author Alan Conway’s latest novel, but has little idea it will change her life.

The series is produced by Jill Green and Eleventh Hour Films.

Lauded as “a magnificent piece of crime fiction” and “an ingenious novel within a novel” by the Sunday Times (London), Magpie Murders topped multiple best-seller lists including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and appeared on the year-end Best Books lists of NPR, USA Today and others. Its international awards include the prestigious Macavity Award for Best Novel.

Anthony Horowitz is a master mystery writer, and Magpie Murders is a beautiful and complex work,” said Masterpiece executive producer Susanne Simpson. “Our Masterpiece audience will truly enjoy this intriguing story of a mystery within a mystery.”

Magpie Murders is my most successful novel and it wasn’t easy to adapt. But I think the result is a completely original drama that will delight and beguile audiences in equal measure,” said Horowitz.
Magpie Murders is streaming in the UK exclusively on BritBox UK.

“This is an extraordinary and distinctive drama,” added Green. “I don’t think there’s ever been a crime show like it with a strong female lead treading the line between reality and fiction a as she fights to uncover the truth.”

Magpie Murders is an Eleventh Hour Films production for Masterpiece and BritBox UK and distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Television.

Masterpiece is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston.

Cartoon of the Day: Mask

Monday, July 20, 2020

Virtual Harrogate International Festival: July 23-26:

This weekend you can stream Harrogate (Theakston Old Peculier Crime) Festival for Free:

From Harrogate:

This weekend we bring you the #HIFWeekender. As we can't welcome you to the Festival this summer, we're bringing a taste of the Festival to you, with our free, online, long weekend of brand new events.

With over 40 events including household names, experts, and international performers across crime, salon, music, literature, DJ sets, history & family events, this is a fantastic programme to bring the thrill of live events to you this weekend.

Discover your Festival programme here: