Sunday, November 29, 2020


Such sad news. Mystery author, Sue Henry, died at the age on 80, in Anchorage, Alaska, on November 20. Her books have given me much enjoyment over the years. I remember chatting with her at several conventions. She will be missed.

Sue Henrywent to the University of Washington, where she earned her degree in English in 1962. She served two years in the Peace Corps in Thailand. Returning to begin graduate studies in library science at the University of Washington, she met Paul K. Henry, whom she married in 1965. They had two boys: Bruce and Eric. Moving to Pasadena, Calif., in 1972, she worked at the Huntington Library. Divorced in 1974, she moved the boys to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1975.

In Fairbanks, her burgeoning love for the Alaska frontier and her passion for books collided. She drove the bookmobile for the Fairbanks Public Library over roads that only someone from Fairbanks during the pipeline construction could appreciate. Later moving to Juneau, she worked in the State Department of Education in Adult Education and dreamt of writing novels. She moved to Anchorage in 1984, and was the director of the Adult Learning Center at the University of Alaska. It was during this time that she wrote her first of 17 novels, Murder on the Iditarod Trail, which won the Macavity and Anthony Awards in 1992 and was adapted for TV as The Cold Heart of a Killer. She traveled extensively researching her novels and came to know and love the remotest corners of Alaska. She gave back to the writing community by teaching workshops all over the country. She has two series: Jessie Arnold, a dog sled race, and Sergeant Alex Jensen, a state trooper, in Anchorage. Her second series features Maxine "Maxie" McNabb, a 60-seomthing Alaskan widow, exploring the USA in her Winnebago with her faithful companion, miniature dachshund Stretch.

No funeral or memorial is planned. Donations can be made to the Peace Corps in memory of Sue Henry at

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Breaking News: Info from Shelf Awareness

Penguin Random House to Buy Simon & Schuster

Bertelsmann, owner of Penguin Random House, is buying Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS and will make it part of PRH, the company announced. The deal should close in the second half of next year, subject to the usual closing procedures as well as regulatory approval. The deal is reportedly for more than $2 billion. PRH is the largest trade book publisher in the world, and both it and S&S have substantial distribution operations.

ViacomCBS had put S&S up for sale in March, saying the publisher was "not a core asset." At the time, ViacomCBS was reportedly asking at least $1.2 billion for S&S. Bertelsmann publicly expressed interest in September; News Corp., owner of HarperCollins, was also interested in the company.

In a memo to staff, PRH CEO Markus Dohle said in part, "I have long admired the team at Simon & Schuster and the books they publish, and I am incredibly excited to welcome our new colleagues to Penguin Random House. Simon & Schuster's distinguished legacy of publishing notable authors, perennial bestsellers, and culture-shaping blockbusters is a natural complement to our publishing programs and catalogs around the world."

Referring to the merger of Penguin and Random House and other PRH acquisitions, he said, "As we have demonstrated, we can successfully unite company cultures and prestigious publishing teams while preserving each imprint's identity and independence. Simon & Schuster aligns completely with the creative and entrepreneurial culture that we nurture by providing editorial autonomy to our publishers, funding their pursuit of new stories, ideas, and voices, and maximizing reach for our authors. We recognize--and our success has demonstrated--that collaboration makes us all stronger, and by bringing Simon & Schuster onto our global platform, we will be able to connect their authors and books with even more readers."

Dohle also paid tribute to S&S leadership, saying, "I am looking forward to working with Simon & Schuster's Jonathan Karp and Dennis Eulau. Over the years, I have been very impressed with the publishing company they have created--together, of course, with their longtime CEO, the late Carolyn Reidy, and their extraordinary publishing colleagues."

For his part, Jonathan Karp, president and CEO of S&S, wrote to colleagues, in part, that he is "delighted" by the acquisition and noted a longtime connection between the publishers. "From our company's inception, there has been much cross-pollination between Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House. In fact, the founder of Random House, Bennett Cerf, met Max Schuster when they were both students at Columbia Journalism School. (Richard Simon was an undergraduate at Columbia University at the time.) They all shared an entrepreneurial approach to book publishing and founded their companies within years of each other. I learned these details from my personal copy of Bennett Cerf's memoir, At Random, which was given to me on my first day as a Random House employee. I spent 16 happy years at Random House [and] can personally attest to what a great work culture it is, and what a deep commitment the organization has to its employees and authors. From our first meeting with Markus Dohle and his team, it was clear that he wants to bring Simon & Schuster into the Bertelsmann family with the same thoughtful respect for our creative independence that accompanied the merger of Penguin and Random House--an integration that took years and was handled with exceptional professionalism."

He also observed: "Successful companies are dynamic and change can be galvanizing. In our 96-year history, Simon & Schuster has had seven owners. From these transformations we have adjusted to new management, welcomed other companies into our fold, and always emerged stronger, with an enduring commitment to excellence in book publishing. When we join Penguin Random House after closing, we can look forward to benefitting from exciting new relationships and opportunities that will enhance our ability to provide authors with the best possible publication they can receive."


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Short Story



PETRONA AWARD SHORTLIST: Six outstanding crime novels from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have been shortlisted for the 2020 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

THE COURIER by Kjell Ola Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway) 

INBORN by Thomas Enger, tr. Kari Dickson (Orenda Books; Norway) 

THE CABIN by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway) 

THE SILVER ROAD by Stina Jackson, tr. Susan Beard (Corvus; Sweden) 

THE ABSOLUTION by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland) 

LITTLE SIBERIA by Antti Tuomainen, tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland) 

The winning title, usually announced at the international crime fiction convention CrimeFest, will now be announced on Thursday 3 December 2020. The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a cash prize, and the winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2022. 

The Petrona Award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia, and published in the UK in the previous calendar year. 

The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his continued generous support of the Petrona Award. We would also like to thank Sarah Ward, who has now stood down from the judging panel, for her valuable contributions over many years. We wish her every success with her new Gothic thriller, The Quickening, published under the name Rhiannon Ward. We are delighted to have Jake Kerridge, The Daily Telegraph’s crime fiction critic, join the Petrona team as a guest judge for this year’s Award. 

The judges’ comments on the shortlist: 

There were 37 entries for the 2020 Petrona Award from six countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Sweden). The novels were translated by 24 translators and submitted by 21 publishers/imprints. There were 13 female and 24 male authors. 

This year’s Petrona Award shortlist sees Norway strongly represented with three novels; Finland, Iceland and Sweden each have one. The crime genres represented include the police procedural, historical crime, literary crime, comedy crime and thriller. 

The Petrona Award judges selected the shortlist from a rich field. The six novels stand out for their writing, characterisation, plotting, and overall quality. They are original and inventive, often pushing the boundaries of genre conventions, and tackle highly complex subjects such as legacies of the past, mental health issues and the effects of grief. Three of the shortlisted titles explore the subject of criminality from an adolescent perspective. 

We are extremely grateful to the six translators whose expertise and skill have allowed readers to access these gems of Scandinavian crime fiction, and to the publishers who continue to champion and support translated fiction. 

The judges’ comments on each of the shortlisted titles: 

THE COURIER by Kjell Ola Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway) 

Kjell Ola Dahl made his debut in 1993, and has since published seventeen novels, most notably those in the ‘Gunnarstranda and Frølich’ police procedural series. In 2000, he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix, and the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. In much the same way as Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason, Dahl explores the experience of the Second World War by moving away from the linear murder mystery to something far more searching and emotionally driven. The Courier is an intelligent and absorbing standalone that offers a perceptive and highly moving exploration of Scandinavian history. It traverses changing times and cultural norms, and traces the growing self-awareness of a truly memorable female protagonist

INBORN by Thomas Enger, tr. Kari Dickson (Orenda Books; Norway) 

Thomas Enger worked for many years for Norway’s first online newspaper, Nettavisen, and as an author is best-known for his five novels featuring the journalist-sleuth Henning Juul, one of which – Pierced – was shortlisted for the Petrona Award in 2013. He has also won prizes for his thrillers for young adults. Inborn, his first standalone novel to be translated into English, tells the story of a murder trial from the perspective of the seventeen-year-old defendant, and combines a gripping courtroom drama with a tender and intriguing portrait of Norwegian small-town life, and the secrets bubbling away beneath its surface. 

THE CABIN by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway) 

Having previously worked as a police officer, Jørn Lier Horst has established himself as one of the most successful Scandinavian authors of the last twenty years. Horst’s previous ‘William Wisting’ novel, The Katharina Code, won the 2019 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel, as well as the Nordic Noir Thriller of the Year in 2018. The Cabin sees Chief Inspector Wisting juggling the demands of two testing cases, leading him into the path of an old adversary and plunging him into the criminal underworld. Horst has once again produced an impeccably crafted police procedural with a deft control of pace and tension. 

THE SILVER ROAD by Stina Jackson, tr. Susan Beard (Corvus; Sweden) 

The Silver Road is Stina Jackson’s highly accomplished debut. It has achieved remarkable success, winning the 2018 Award for Best Swedish Crime Novel, the 2019 Glass Key Award, and the 2019 Swedish Book of the Year Award. Set in northern Sweden, where Jackson herself grew up, the novel explores the aftermath of teenager Lina’s disappearance, and her father Lelle’s quest to find her by driving the length of the Silver Road under the midnight sun. Three years on, young Meja arrives in town: her navigation of adolescence and first-time love will lead her and Lelle’s paths to cross. The Silver Road is a haunting depiction of grief, longing and obsession, with lots of heart and a tremendous sense of place. 

THE ABSOLUTION by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland) 

A full-time civil engineer as well as a prolific writer for both adults and children, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is one of Iceland’s best-selling and most garlanded crime novelists, and the winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for The Silence of the Sea. The Absolution is the third entry in her ‘Children’s House’ series, and features a very modern killer who targets teenagers with an MO involving Snapchat. This artfully plotted and thought-provoking book continues the series’ focus on the long-lasting impact of childhood trauma, with welcome light relief provided by the mismatched investigators, detective Huldar and child psychologist Freyja

LITTLE SIBERIA by Antti Tuomainen, tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland) 

Antti Tuomainen is a versatile crime writer, whose works draw on genres as varied as the dystopian thriller and comedy crime caper. His third novel, The Healer, won the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel in 2011 and he has been shortlisted for the Glass Key, Petrona and Last Laugh Awards, as well as the CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger. Little Siberia, set in an icy northern Finland, opens with a bang when a meteorite unexpectedly lands on a speeding car. Transferred to the local museum for safe keeping, the valuable object is guarded from thieves by local priest Joel, who is grappling with both a marital crisis and a crisis of faith. Absurdist black humour is expertly combined with a warm, perceptive exploration of what it means to be human.

Monday, November 23, 2020


Mystery Writers of America (MWA)
announced the recipients of its special awards. The board chose Charlaine Harris and Jeffery Deaver as the 2021 Grand Masters, and the 2020 Raven Award recipient is Malice Domestic.

“Mystery Writers of America is thrilled to honor Jeffery Deaver and Charlaine Harris as MWA’s 2021 Grand Masters,” said MWA President Meg Gardiner. “Over the course of decades, Deaver and Harris have gripped tens of millions of readers while broadening the reach of the genre with transformative books—notably, Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, and Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels—and while generously encouraging and supporting fellow writers and the reading public. We’re delighted to recognize their achievements.” MWA’s Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.

Jeffery Deaver has published more than forty novels since the early 1990’s, including two series besides the Lincoln Rhyme novels, numerous stand-alone and short story collections. On being notified of the honor, Deaver said, “When I was a (relatively) young writer new to this business of penning novels, many years ago, the first professional organization I joined was Mystery Writers of America. Signing on felt to me like coming home—being welcomed into a community of fellow authors willing to share their expertise and offer support in a profession that was largely, well, a ‘mystery’ to me. Besides, how could I not join? MWA was the real deal; for proof, one had only to look at those in the ranks of the Grand Masters: Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, James M. Cain . . . and so many others whose works populated my bookshelves. Yet it never once occurred to me, in all my years as a member and my two terms as president, that I might be invited into those very ranks. I wish to express by boundless gratitude to MWA for this honor, which stands, without question, as the highpoint of my career.”

Charlaine Harris has published 13 novels in the Southern Vampire series (adapted into the popular HBO series True Blood), which proved so popular that at one point her novels took half of the top ten slots on New York Times’ bestseller list. Her other series include the Aurora Teagarden novels, the Lily Bard (Shakespeare) books, the Midnight Texas trilogy (adapted for television) and numerous others, as well as several standalones. Harris said, “This is like winning the lottery and the Pulitzer Prize in one day. I am so honored and thrilled to join the ranks of revered writers who are Grand Masters. I thank the MWA Board from the bottom of my heart.” 

The Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. For 2021, Mystery Writers of America selected the Malice Domestic mystery conference, founded in 1989 and held every spring since. Malice Domestic focuses primarily on traditional mysteries, their authors and fans, and also presents the Agatha Awards, with six categories. “Who says Friday the 13th is an unlucky day?” said Verena Rose, currently chair of the Malice Domestic Board of Directors. “Certainly, not me. This morning I received a call from Greg Herren, Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, letting me know that Malice Domestic has been selected to receive the Raven Award in 2021. What an absolutely, amazing surprise and as the Chair, I can’t wait to give my fellow Board members the news. This is an honor we are beyond thrilled to receive.”

Sunday, November 22, 2020


What a year! I will be glad when 2020 is behind us. Thanksgiving will be a very small event for me, and probably for you, as well, due to the pandemic, but I do have to give thanks  -- for my family, my friends, and the wonderful mystery community.

So to celebrate, here is my updated list of Thanksgiving Crime Fiction. As always, please let me know if I've missed any titles.

I'm also posting daily recipes for Chocolate Thanksgiving desserts, sides, and main course (Chocolate Turkey Rub!) on

Thanksgiving Mysteries

Victoria Abbott The Wolfe Widow
Susan Wittig Albert Bittersweet
Laura Alden Foul Play at the PTA
Deb Baker Murder Talks Turkey
S.H. Baker The Colonel's Tale
Mignon Ballard, Miss Dimple Disappears
Sandra Balzo Hit and Run
Bob Berger The Risk of Fortune
William Bernhardt, Editor, Natural Suspect
Kate Borden Death of a Turkey
Ali Brandon Twice Told Tail

JJ Brass The Turkey Wore Satin
Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who Went into the Closet, The Cat Who Talked Turkey
Lizbie Brown Turkey Tracks
Carole Bugge Who Killed Mona Lisa?

Lucy Burdette A Deadly Feast
Lynn Cahoon A Very Mummy Holiday
Sammi Carter Goody Goody Gunshots

Lowell Cauffiel Dark Rage
Joelle Charbonneau Skating Under the Wire

George C. Chesbro Bleeding in the eye of a Brainstorm
Jennifer Chiaverini A Quilter's Holiday 
Laura Childs Scones & Bones 
Bobbi A. Chukran Short mystery stores in her Nameless, Texas series
Christine E. Collier A Holiday Sampler
Sheila Connolly A Killer Crop
Cleo Coyle Murder by Mocha
Isis Crawford A Catered Thanksgiving
Bill Crider with Willard Scott Murder under Blue Skies
Jessie Crockett Drizzled with Death
Amanda Cross A Trap for Fools
Barbara D'Amato Hard Tack, Hard Christmas
Mary Daheim Alpine Fury, Fowl Prey, The Alpine Vengeance
Kathi Daley Turkeys, Tuxes and Tabbies; The Trouble with Turkeys; The Thanksgiving Trip: The Inn at Holiday Bay (Pilgrim in the Parlor)
Jeanne Dams Sins Out of School
Claire Daniels Final Intuition
Evelyn David Murder Takes the Cake
Mary Janice Davidson Undead and Unfinished
Krista Davis The Diva Runs Out of Thyme
Vicki Delany (aka Eva Gates) Silent Night, Deadly Night

Wende and Harry Devlin Cranberry Thanksgiving
Michael Dibdin Thanksgiving
Joanne Dobson Raven and the Nightingale
Alice Duncan Thanksgiving Angels
Christine Duncan Safe House

Susan Dunlap No Footprints
Kaitlyn Dunnett Overkilt
Janet Evanovich Thanksgiving (technically a romance)*
Nancy Fairbanks Turkey Flambe
Christy Fifield Murder Ties the Knot 
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain Murder She Wrote: A Fatal Feast
Joanne Fluke Raspberry Danish Murder
Katherine V. Forrest The Beverly Malibu
Shelley Freydont Cold Turkey
Noreen Gilpatrick The Piano Man
Martin H. Greenberg (editor) Cat Crimes for the Holidays
Jane Haddam Feast of Murder
Janice Hamrick Death Rides Again
Susannah Hardy A Killer Kebab
Lee Harris The Thanksgiving Day Murder
Ellen Hart The Grave Soul
J. Alan Hartman, editor, The Killer Wore Cranberry, The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping; The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds; The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fourth Meal of Mayhem
Robin Hathaway The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call
Richard Hawke Speak of the Devil
Victoria Houston Dead Hot Shot
Dorothy Howell Fanny Packs and Foul Play
Linda Joffe Hull Black Thursday
Ellen Elizabeth Hunter Murder on the ICW
Melanie Jackson Death in a Turkey Town, Cornucopia
Sue Ann Jaffarian Cornucopia, Secondhand Stiff
J. A. Jance Shoot Don't Shoot
Madison Johns The Great Turkey Caper

Karin Kaufman At Death's Door
Alex Kava Black Friday

Marvin Kaye My Son, the Druggist
Faye Kellerman Serpent's Tooth
Harry Kemelman That Day the Rabbi Left Town
John Lescroat The Keeper
Clyde Linsley Death of a Mill Girl
Georgette Livingston Telltale Turkey Caper
M. Louisa Locke Pilfered Promises
Nial Magill Thanksgiving Murder in the Mountains
G.M. Malliet Wicked Autumn
Margaret Maron Up Jumps the Devil
Evan Marshall Stabbing Stefanie
K. L. McCluskey Three for Pumpkin Pie
Ralph McInerny Celt and Pepper
Leslie Meier Turkey Day Murder
Deborah Morgan The Marriage Casket
Meg Muldoon Roasted in Christmas River 
Joan Lowery Nixon The Thanksgiving Mystery (children's)
Carla Norton The Edge of Normal
Carol O'Connell Shell Game
Nancy J Parra Murder Gone A-Rye
Louise Penny Still Life
Cathy Pickens Southern Fried
Michael Poore Up Jumps the Devil 
Craig Rice The Thursday Turkey Murders
Ann Ripley Harvest of Murder
J.D. Robb Thankless in Death
Delia Rosen One Foot in the Gravy
M.L. Rowland Zero Degree Murder
Ilene Schneider Chanukah Guilt
Maria E. Schneider Executive Retention
Willard Scott and Bill Crider Murder under Blue Skies
Sarah R. Shaber Snipe Hunt
Sharon Gwyn Short, Hung Out to Die
Paullina Simons, Red Leaves

Page Sleuth Thanksgiving in Cherry Hills
Alexandra Sokoloff The Harrowing
Rex Stout Too Many Cooks
Denise Swanson Murder of a Barbie and Ken; Murder of a Botoxed Blonde

Kathleen Suzette Roast Turkey and a Murder
Marcia Talley Occasion of Revenge
Sharon Burch Toner Maggie's Brujo
Teresa Trent Burnout
Lisa Unger In the Blood
Jennifer Vanderbes Strangers at the Feast
Debbie Viguie I Shall Not Want
Auralee Wallace Haunted Hayride with Murder
Livia J. Washburn The Pumpkin Muffin Murder
Leslie Wheeler Murder at Plimoth Plantation
Angela Zeman The Witch and the Borscht Pearl

Let me know if I've forgotten any titles!

Sunday, November 15, 2020


Did you miss Bouchercon this year? Did you forget to sign up? Don't fret. Now you can watch the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Pre-recorded Sessions, and many of the Panels of this outstanding Virtual Convention on the Bouchercon YouTube Channel

According to the website, the committee is adding panels regularly, so be sure and check back.

Go here for the line-up.

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

Thursday, November 12, 2020

THE CROWN, Season 4, premieres on Netflix

 Here's a sneak peak of The Crown, premiering this weekend on Netflix. Can't wait!


Mary Anna Evans:

The Secret to a Great Mystery: Make Me Feel Something

When I think of my favorite mystery writers (Agatha Christie, Tony Hillerman, Donis Casey…) or my favorite mystery characters (Miss Marple, Joe Leaphorn, Alafair Tucker…), it’s not hard to put my finger on the reason why I enjoy those writers and those characters. While it’s a given that these are authors who craft tight, intelligent narratives, and Christie in particular is known for her puzzle plots, I think that they offer readers something more. I also think that this extra special “something” isn’t directly related to the plot at all. This may be a surprise to people who consider reading crime fiction to be a purely intellectual exercise focused on determining “whodunit,” but I somehow doubt that devoted crime fiction enthusiasts think of their favorite books in that limited way. 

For me, part of the delight in mystery novels comes from spending time with characters with whom I feel a connection. My favorite protagonists feel like friends to me. My favorite antagonists also strike an emotional chord. They are more than just crazed killers. They are realistic people who have chosen to do evil. I may not agree with their reasons, but those reasons make logical sense. Most importantly, the ideal antagonist’s actions make emotional sense. When they are unmasked and their crimes are revealed, I feel a sense of relief that justice has been served, but the real artists are those writers who are able to portray the criminal’s motivations so convincingly that I feel a twinge of regret that things have gone so badly for them. When I love a book, it is because its writer made me feel something. 

As a writing professor, I tell my students that if they take just one thing away from their time with me, it is the phrase “Make them feel something.” If they are so inclined, I suggest that they make a poster with just those four words and hang it over their computer. The relationship between a reader and a writer takes place over a long distance, but it is real. Sharing emotions with someone so far away, not to mention the many others who have also read the book, is satisfying. It makes us want to repeat the experience. When young readers encounter a book that makes them feel something, they become readers for life. 

Put a book in my hands that touches my emotions, and I’ll be back for more.


Mary Anna Evans is the author of the Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries, and she teaches fiction and nonfiction writing at the University of Oklahoma. Her crime fiction has received recognition including the Oklahoma Book Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and three Florida Book Awards bronze medals. Her shorter work has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, The Louisville Review, Dallas Morning News, and many others. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and she is a licensed professional engineer. Her latest release, Wrecked, was published by Sourcebooks in October 2020

Mary Anna’s favorite books by the authors featured in this post are:  

Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories by Agatha Christie 

Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman 

The Old Buzzard Had It Coming by Donis Casey

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Murder in Wartime: Mystery Readers Journal (33:2)

For Veterans Day, I thought I'd post a link to Mystery Readers Journal: Murder in Wartime. Check out the Table of Contents and links below. Great articles and reviews by and about your favorite authors. 110 pages! Thanks to everyone who contributed to make this such a terrific issue. Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.

MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL: Murder in Wartime (Volume 33:2)

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

  • World War II and the Golden Age Tradition by Kate Jackson
  • The Making of Heroes by Suzanne M. Arruda
  • It Never Happened by Mary Adler
  • On Edge by Albert Ashforth
  • Between Lost and Dead by Rona Bell
  • A Half Century Later, Vietnam Is Still a Mystery by R.G. Belsky
  • Harry Lime Was Wrong by James Benn
  • My Wartime Connection by Cara Black
  • The Secrets of Bletchley Park by Rhys Bowen
  • Passing On the Memory of Wars I Never Knew by William Broderick
  • Don’t Mention the War by Frances Brody
  • Why Care About a Murder in Wartime? by Rebecca Cantrell
  • The Green Corn Rebellion by Donis Casey
  • War Is Hell… but Hell Makes Good Mysteries by John A. Connell
  • Murder and Ancient War by Gary Corby
  • The Real and Recent Wars Behind My Fiction by Diana Deverell
  • Spoils of War by David Edgerley Gates
  • You Say Conflict, I Say War by Chris Goff
  • Mystery in The First World War by Dolores Gordon-Smith
  • Civil War Crime by Paul E. Hardisty
  • War Stories by Libby Hellmann
  • Body of Evidence by Graham Ison
  • Wartime in England by Maureen Jennings
  • The Mysteries of War by Kay Kendall
  • From Bomb Shelters to a B&B by Kate Kingsbury
  • Bombs and Short Legs by Joan Lock
  • Rough Cider in the Making by Peter Lovesey
  • If It’s War, It Can’t Be Murder? by Michael Niemann
  • Echoes of Vietnam by Neil Plakcy
  • When the Investigator Wears Boots by Ben Pastor
  • His Debts Were Settled At Last by Mary Reed
  • Murder in Wartime by Gavin Scott
  • The Time Traveler As Writer by Sarah R. Shaber
  • A Coin for the Hangman: The Home Front and the Returning Soldier by Ralph Spurrier
  • The Solitary Soldier by Kelli Stanley
  • Wartime in New York by Triss Stein
  • Writing About War by Charles Todd
  • It’s Not Our War: Writing a WWI-Era Mystery Series Set in New York by Radha Vatsal
  • Fading Away by Sharon Wildwind
  • Bloodshed Behind the Lines by Sally Wright
  • Fate, Facts, and War Stories by Ursula Wong
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Kristopher Zgorski, Craig Sisterson, L.J. Roberts, Sandie Herron, Kate Jackson, Kate Derie
  • Khaki Cops by Jim Doherty
  • True Crime in Wartime by Cathy Pickens
  • The Children’s Hour: War Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • Just the Facts: The Military Mutilator by Jim Doherty
  • Crime Scene: Murder in a Time of War by Kate Derie
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet Rudolph


Today is Veterans Day
, originally known as Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day). Veterans Day commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, that took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning — the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" 1918.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day November 11, 1919. The U.S.  Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. The 11th of November is"a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'." The name was later changed to Veteran's Day.

I love to read mysteries that reflect regions and holidays, so I'm reposting about Veterans Day with a few additions. Julia Spencer-Fleming's Once Was a Soldier,  Jacqueline Winspear, and Charles Todd's mystery series are at the top of my list of Veterans Day Mysteries. There's also the Joe Sandilands series by Barbara Cleverly. And Bulldog Drummond is a WWI veteran in the Sapper/H.C. McNeile books. Add to that Walter Mosley's WWII Vet Easy Rawlins. Don't miss Marcia Talley's All Things Undying in which Hannah Ives helps to locate the grave of a WWII serviceman. James Lee Burke is another great mystery author whose Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux is a Vietnam Veteran. And, of course, the Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers where the mystery turns on the poppy in the lapel. Be sure and add Gary Phillips' novella The Underbelly to your list. It features semi-homeless Vietnam vet Magrady.

BV Lawson's 2007 post of Veteran's Day Mysteries is great. No need to duplicate her efforts. Be sure and read her blog, as well as all the comments. Another fine list is In Remembrance Fiction in Times of War (not all mysteries) from the St. Charles Public Library. I also did a Memorial Day post here on Mystery Fanfare that covers some of the same territory Mysteries in Paradise about Remembrance Day is also a great resource.

You'll want to read J. Kingston's Pierce's recent article 9 Mysteries Set in the Immediate Aftermath of WWI on CrimeReads.

Wikipedia has an entry about Veterans Day Mysteries. Several hardboiled heroes have been war veterans. Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and many others from World War II, and John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee from the Korean War. "The frequent exposure to death and hardship often leads to a cynical and callous attitude as well as a character trait known today as post-traumatic stress characterizes many hardboiled protagonists."

And, for the young set, one of the first Veteran-related mysteries: Cherry Ames: Veterans' Nurse by Helen Wells.

Read a Veterans Day mystery today and remember the men and women who have served and are serving our country now. Thank you.

In Memory of Major Joseph Rudolph, M.D., WWII

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

A MURDER IS FOREVER: Guest Post by Rob Bates



Some of you may have seen Uncut Gems, the Adam Sandler movie set in the Diamond District. I haven’t—even though I’ve been writing about the diamond industry for different trade publications for over 25 years. Hey, I watch movies to relax, not to be reminded of my day job. Besides, I heard it’s a little intense. 

In October, I released my first mystery novel set in the Diamond District, A Murder is Forever. (The title is a play on “A Diamond is Forever,” the industry slogan that Advertising Age called the best of the 20th Century.) 

Unlike Uncut Gems, which portrayed the often-seedy street-level retailers on 47th Street, my book is about the more-genteel “upstairs” diamond wholesalers, who are responsible for most of the diamonds sold in America. While A Murder is Forever features plenty of intrigue, mystery, and suspense, it’s also a traditional cozy. Unlike Uncut Gems, it is not going for a record number of F-bombs. (In fact, it doesn’t contain any F-bombs at all. Sorry, F-bomb fans!) 

The book’s heroine, Mimi Rosen, is an unemployed journalist who goes to work for her father’s diamond company, though Mimi and her more-traditional father don’t really get along. There’s a murder, of course, over a $4 million pink diamond, and suddenly Mimi is forced in the role of amateur detective, learning about the diamond business—and her family—in the process. 

In many ways, the journey of Mimi (named after my late mother) parallels my own. My grandfather, Max, worked in the diamond business. When I graduated college, I needed a writing job, and saw a job in the newspaper for a diamond industry newsletter. (Yes, kids, once upon a time people read about jobs by finding them in the newspaper.) Like the book’s heroine, part of me felt I was going backwards by applying for the job. But at the time, writing positions were hard to come by, so off I went. 

In my interview, I told the publisher that I knew all about the business, having grown up around it. Which was kind of B.S.; my grandfather had died when I was a teenager, and I knew zero about it. My dad advised me to write in my thank you letter, let’s say Mazal on this deal. That will make more sense if you read the book. 

The publisher either liked that, or maybe he just pitied me. In any case, he hired me, and I’ve now been writing about the business for nearly three decades. 

I wanted this book to lift a curtain on a business that very few people know about, or understand. It features an interesting mix of ethnic groups, including Hasidic Jews and Indian Jains. It’s an industry where, even today, multi-million dollar deals are sealed on handshakes, without a contract or lawyer in sight. It’s not uncommon to go to someone’s office and see millions of diamonds piled up upon a table, like someone poured them out of a cereal box. 

It features some bad people (unfortunately), as well as some of the most decent, friendly, honest people I’ve ever met in my life. I wanted this book to reflect that. 

And while this book is a “cozy,” it’s a different type than usual. It’s not set in a small town, but in New York City, in a real location, in a real business. It’s very loosely based on some real events. 

But most of all, I wanted the book to be fun, and light-hearted, and full of the twists and turns that everyone loves in good mysteries—while at the same time showing what life is really like in one of America's most exotic, least understood, insular, most idiosyncratic, and sometimes dangerous industries. 

I know I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it. 


Rob Bates has been reading about the diamond industry for over 25 years.  He is currently the news director of JCK, the leading publication in the jewelry industry, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary. He has won 12 editorial awards, including the Jewelers of America Media Excellence award in 2016, and been quoted as an industry authority in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on National Public Radio. He is also a comedy writer and performer, whose work has appeared on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment,, and McSweeney's. He has also written for Time Out New York, New York Newsday, and He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son. You can see more about his book at

Thursday, November 5, 2020

CHARACTER GLIMPSES: Guest Post by Priscilla Paton

Priscilla Paton:


I was stranded in the Albany, New York, Airport when a beast confronted me, a wondrously large beast. One hundred pounds plus of black-and-white Newfoundland, otherwise known as a Landseer because this bi-colored dog was a favorite subject of Queen Victoria’s favorite painter, Edwin Landseer. Landseer’s “Lion” of 1824 portrays a friendly, beautiful black-and-white dog, and the one facing me had eyes that even in awful airport lighting were, to use a Victorian word, lambent. I believe her name was Florence, as in Florence Nightingale, a working dog whose work was therapy. My blood pressure dropped twenty points and I knew she had to appear in my next mystery. 

Whether canine or human, my characters can be inspired by a glimpse, an impression. A teenage girl whose haircut recalls Joan of Arc. A Black student pianist who laughed in shock when a master teacher commanded him to play against the muscle memory of a year to improve in under thirty seconds. The uplifting haircut and downturned mouth of a seventy-year-old woman. Such glimpses beget a fictional character (and my characters are fictional because it’s confining, not to mention of questionable judgment, to adhere to a real person). But the full identity has yet to evolve, and the big question has yet to be answered—how might that character be caught up in a murder? 

A character needs wardrobe, makeup, personality. Most of all a character needs an arc with a starting point, a crisis, and a resolution. You know this from The Sopranos, when Christopher is stymied by his screenplay and his direction in life because he can’t find the effing arc. 

When that effing arc eludes me, I turn to experts. Elizabeth George’s book Write Away demonstrates how she achieved depth-of-character in her Inspector Lynley series. David Corbett’s The Art of Character examines how desire moves a character through a story. Creating characters becomes tough when I have to think—and feel—the way through their worst moment and greatest pain. 

It is an ongoing challenge for writers to appropriately create characters of different social classes, races, genders, or nationalities. But it’s inevitable because communities and families (including my own) are increasingly diverse. Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward provides a starting point, and writers can consult with sensitivity and diversity readers. Listening to other voices is required, and traditional research helps. To prepare for writing Should Grace Fail, which deals with substance abuse, I read memoirs by the children of addicts and was stunned by their suffering and anger. 

Then there are characters who jump at you out of nowhere, leap full grown into your mind like Athena in the head of Zeus. My recurring detectives arrived that way. True, my initial concept of clever reserved Erik Jansson had him older and wiser; then I realized I wanted him to reach that point after multiple adventures, not begin there. He underwent a Benjamin Button reversion to become a more tender age. Erik remained reserved, so I needed someone to shake him up. That’s when Detective Deb Metzger barged in from another storyline I was considering to irk him and seize half the action for herself. Create characters and you’ll have to deal with relationships. Erik and Deb are stuck to each other like gum to a shoe, and it’s on me to see that they grow (or something) as individuals and as partners.

A final note on that airport encounter. I might have given a Newfie a one-sentence cameo in Should Grace Fail except for this: her handler, scarcely bigger than his dog, told me what she meant to PTSD vets and to traumatized children. (Another Landseer painting, Saved, depicts a dog that appears to pray over the child he rescued.) What struck me as the handler talked was that Florence meant everything to him. She had altered one life for the better—his. That was worth developing. 


Priscilla Paton
writes the Twin Cities Mystery series, set in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The first in the series, Where Privacy Dies, was a 2018 Forward Indies Finalist, and the next, Should Grace Fail, comes out in December 2020. Priscilla grew up on a dairy farm in Maine, a state of woods, lakes, and rivers. She now lives in Minnesota, another state of woods, lakes, and rivers, not far from urban Minneapolis and St. Paul. She received a B.A. from Bowdoin College, a Ph.D. in English Literature from Boston College, and was a college professor. She has previously published a children’s book, Howard and the Sitter Surprise, and a book on Robert Frost and Andrew Wyeth, Abandoned New England. She participates in community advocacy and literacy programs, takes photos of birds, and contemplates (fictional) murder.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

VITAL WRITING COMMUNITY: Guest post by Jessica Thompson

Jessica Thompson: 

Vital Writing Community

About a year and a half ago, my plan was to never tell anyone that I was writing, suffer silently for years, then hopefully get somewhere with my writing without having told anyone that I was throwing my hat into the ring. 

 I was in the writing closet. I was scared. Scared of the judgements from the people I knew, even if they were silent. Scared of the “A writer? Yeah right! Whatever-percent of writers never succeed” or the “What a pipe-dream! She’s not fill-in-the-blank enough. Remember that time she did or said something stupid 20 years ago?” or maybe the “She’s can’t be a writer, in my mind she’s still a silly teenager.” All those mostly well-meaning, knee-jerk reactions that I would probably also experience if someone told me they were moving to Hollywood to become an actor or running for president. 

Another obstacle was that I didn’t know anyone in publishing. There was no one to reach out to. I had no connections except a relative that’s a technical writer. 

I planned to not tell anyone until I had reached some kind of milestone, like being published, then arise unquestionably successful, thus squashing the immediate doubts of others. 

Turns out, that’s not realistic. You have to come out of the writing closet. 

You can’t rise out of a clamshell fully-formed, you have to be born as a naked, purple baby, then grow up. A lot of that growing up has to do with the writing community. 

But once you do open yourself up to the world of other writers, there is a wonderful and supportive online community of other insecure-but-trying-to-hide-it people who all want to help you. Partially because writers are readers and they want to read your content, partially because they want your help as well, and partially because people are mostly nice. 

Through this online, and in-person if you’re very lucky, writing community, you learn so much! There are classes, organizations, magazines, blogs, YouTube channels, and people on every social media platform producing helpful content that you can use to improve your craft or get to know the industry. Contests, anthologies, awards, and critique groups can help you find new and tailored ways to improve. But most of all, thousands of individuals to form connections with, learn from, and who want to become your friends. 

Even if you are an introvert and like it that way, it takes a village to bring a book into being. Even if you self-publish, you need to learn how. You’ll need to hire an editor, cover artist, or at least, please oh goodness, get some feedback from at least someone. But especially if you plan to traditionally publish, form those connections! Meet editors, agents, publishers, photographers, cover artists, etc. Even if you won’t hire them directly, wouldn’t you like to know how this stuff works when your publisher asks how you would like to proceed? 

So how? How do you meet these people and form those connections? There are a few ways, but all of them involve that same tactic that works for every social situation. Dive in! 

It doesn’t matter if you feel comfortable or if you feel like the equal of the people in the room. Just jump in anyway! 

Get on Twitter and call yourself a writer. Open an Instagram account and find something to say about a picture of a book. Go to some events and introduce yourself to some people. Sign up for a class. Comment on someone’s Facebook page about something you have in common. Lay that groundwork that could turn into a friendship if they reciprocate. 

I know, we became writers so we would not have to talk to people, so just cry and eat your feelings after you get home from making these new friends, because it’s important that you make those connections. 

It’s important for your own mental health, yes, but it’s also important for your book. If you can’t do it for the companionship or the kindness to other humans, do it for your book! Every friend is another reader. Every person who is roped into the creation of your book is another emotionally invested marketer. Every creator that is linked to you means new webs of connections and more markets for your book. It’s not cold to think of it that way, that’s what we are all really there for. 

So find those writing communities, make those connections, grow as a writer, and use them for your book, because it’s vital. For yourself, for the other writers, and for your books. 


When Jessica Thompson discovered mystery novels with recipes, she knew she had found her niche. Jessica is an avid home chef and is active in her local writing community, including being a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. She received a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University but has always enjoyed writing and reading mysteries. Jessica is originally from California, but now has adopted the Austin, Texas lifestyle with her husband and two children.

Sunday, November 1, 2020



The 2020 Ngaio Marsh Award winners were announced at a live event in Christchurch, New Zealand this weekend. 

Fresh voices came to the fore at WORD Christchurch Spring Festival on Saturday afternoon as Becky Manawatu and RWR McDonald were named the winners of the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards

Both winners were first-time novelists, and while their winning books were different in many ways, each was told in large part from the perspective of young children dealing with loss and violence in small-town New Zealand, each included a rich cast of diverse characters, and each expertly blended lighter moments with dark events in tense tales that could make readers gasp and laugh. 

Manawatu (Ngāi Tahu) scooped the Best Novel prize for AUĒ (Makaro Press), a novel infused with domestic violence and gang life, told from the perspectives of eight-year-old Arama, his teenage brother Tauriki, and young woman Jade. She’s the first debut author to win Best Novel since 2010. "A breath-taking expose of lives lived on the margins, and the fight for redemption and absolution,” said the judges. 

“Manawatu doesn’t use crime as a plot device but shows it woven into the fabric of her characters’ lives, defining them, sometimes destroying them, and serving as a perverse unifier.” 

RWR McDonald grew up on a sheep and deer farm in South Otago, and now lives in Melbourne with his two daughters and extended rainbow family. He won the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel for THE NANCYS (Allen & Unwin), an exuberant small-town murder mystery where eleven-year-old Tippy Chan teams with her visiting uncle and his boyfriend to solve the murder of her teacher. 

“Hilarious and inventive; the dynamic between the young protagonist and the adult characters is unusual and special,” said the judges. “A clever hat-tip to one of the most indelible female characters in the genre, and a story that blends crime and humour in unexpected ways.” 

It’s a little surreal to realise this is the tenth anniversary of the Ngaio Marsh Awards, said founder Craig Sisterson. The awards were established in 2010 to celebrate excellence in local crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing. Sisterson noted that the Ngaios were modelled somewhat on the Hammett Prize in North America, which has been won by the likes of Margaret Atwood and focuses on ‘literary excellence’ in novels entwined with crime, so isn’t restricted to detective novels or whodunnits. 

“We’ve been blessed to have some extraordinary books to consider and celebrate over the past decade, and this year has further added to the growing depth and diversity of local crime writing.” 

Becky Manawatu received a trophy and $1,000 courtesy of WORD Christchurch. McDonald won a trophy and cash prize from the Ngaio Marsh Awards. “We feel very fortunate to have been able to hold a real life event before a live audience to celebrate our finalists and winners this year,” said Sisterson. “Huge thanks to Rachael King and WORD Christchurch for all their hard work in such a challenging year, as well as for their ongoing support every year since we launched in 2010.”


What holiday could be more fitting to Mysteries than El Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead? You'll love this list. Be sure and check my updated Halloween Crime Fiction list for other mysteries that start on Halloween and include Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead Crime Fiction

Day of the Dead by Kristi Belcamino
Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan
The Day of the Dead by John Creed
Trick or Treason by Kathi Daley
Day of the Dead by Brenda Donelan
A Cemetery, a Cannibal, and the Day of the Dead by CC Dragon
The Day of the Dead by Nicci French
The Day of the Dead: the Autumn of Commissario Ricciardi by Maurizio de Giovanni
Days of the Dead by Barbara Hambly
Sugar Skull by Denise Hamilton
Dios De Los Muertos by Kent Harrington
The Wrong Goodbye by Chris Holm
Death Arts by Melanie Jackson
Day of the Dead by J.A. Jance
Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson
Devil's Kitchen by Clark Lohr
Weave Her Thread with Bones by Claudia Long
Day of the Dead by Manuel Luis Martinez
Bread of the Dead by Ann Myers
Oink by Judith Newton
Day of the Dead by Mark Roberts
The Day of the Dead by Bart Spicer
The Day of the Dead Mystery (The Boxcar Children Mysteries) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Any titles missing?