Wednesday, July 28, 2021


The Australian Crime Writers Association (ACWA)
announced the shortlist for the 2021 Ned Kelly Awards. Congratulations to all!

Best Crime Fiction

  • Consolation (Garry Disher, Text)
  • Gathering Dark (Candice Fox, Penguin)
  • A Testament of Character (Sulari Gentill, Pantera)
  • The Survivors (Jane Harper, Pan)
  • The Good Turn (Dervla McTiernan, HarperCollins)
  • Tell Me Lies (J P Pomare, Hachette)
  • When She Was Good (Michael Robotham, Hachette)
  • White Throat (Sarah Thornton, Text)

Best Debut Crime Fiction

  • The Good Mother (Rae Cairns, Bandrui Publishing)
  • The Second Son (Lorraine Peck, Text)
  • The Bluffs (Kyle Perry, PRH)
  • The Night Whistler (Greg Woodlands, Text)

Best True Crime

  • The Husband Poisoner (Tanya Bretherton, Hachette)
  • Stalking Claremont: Inside the hunt for a serial killer (Bret Christian, HarperCollins)
  • Public Enemies (Mark Dapin, A&U)
  • Hazelwood (Tom Doig, Viking)
  • Witness (Louise Milligan, Hachette)

 Best International Cime Fiction

  • The Guest List  (Lucy Foley, HarperCollins)
  • The Secrets of Strangers (Charity Norman, A&U)
  • Take Me Apart (Sara Sligar, Text)
  • We Begin at the End (Chris Whittaker, A&U)
  • Broken (Don Winslow, HarperCollins).

Established in 1995, the Ned Kelly Awards are Australia’s oldest, most prestigious awards honoring crime fiction and true crime writing.

For more information about the 2021 shortlists, go to the ACWA website.

Mo Hayder: R.I.P.

Sad news. Crime writer Mo Hayder (Clare Dunkel) died from motor neurone disease on July 27, at the age of 59. Mo Hayder's jobs included filmmaker, Tokyo nightclub hostess, and English language teacher in Asia. She was also the author of Birdman; The Treatment; The Devil of Nanking, winner of the Elle Magazine crime fiction prize; Pig Island, shortlisted for the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel; Ritual, shortlisted both for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award and for the coveted Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award; Skin; and Gone; as well as the winner of the 2011 Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library award for outstanding body of work.

From The Bookseller:

“It is with much sadness that we announce that Clare Dunkel died yesterday morning,” her publisher Century announced on 28th July. “Clare was diagnosed with motor neurone disease on 22nd December. She fought valiantly, but the disease progressed at an alarming rate. She leaves behind a husband and daughter.” The 59-year-old lived in England's West Country and was a full-time writer.

The news comes four months after it was announced she was turning her attention from crime fiction to speculative thrillers with a switch from long-time publisher Bantam Press to Century. “Most recently, Clare had started a brand new series in a new genre, which she was very excited about,” Century said. “Writing as Theo Clare, The Book of Sand will be published posthumously by Century in early 2022. It is set in an alternate universe where nothing is quite as it seems.” 

Dunkel had said of the book: “It has taken me four years to finish it… I am so happy to be writing fiction set in an entirely imaginative universe of my own creation.” 

Writing as Mo Hayder, Dunkel published 10 novels with Transworld's Bantam Press over the past 21 years. Her fifth novel, Ritual, was nominated for the Barry Award for Best Crime 2009 and was voted Best Book of 2008 by Publishers Weekly. Gone, her seventh novel, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and her novel Wolf was nnominated for Best Novel in the 2015 Edgar Awards and is currently being adapted for the BBC. In 2011 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library award for an outstanding body of work. 

Altogether she has sold 1.2 million books in the UK for £6.17m through Nielsen BookScan; her UK bestseller is Gone, which has sold 143,580 copies in paperback since 2010.

Read more Here:




Monday, July 26, 2021

Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award Winners 2021

The Private Eye Writers of America announced the Shamus Award Winners for 2021. (For works published in 2020). Congratulations to all!

Best Original Private Eye Paperback

Brittle Karma by Richard Helms / Black Arch Books

Best Private Eye Short Story 

“Mustang Sally” by John M. Floyd in Black Cat Mystery Magazine

 Best Private Eye Novel

Blind Vigil by Matt Coyle / Oceanview

Best First Private Eye Novel

The Missing American by Kwei Quartey / Soho

The Eye, the PWA Life Achievement Award, was given to Michael Z. Lewin

Saturday, July 24, 2021


The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 was announced last night during opening ceremonies at Theakston Old Peculier Writing Festival being held in Harrogate, England. Chris Whitaker won for We Begin at the End (Zaffre). The win also includes 3000 Pounds and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain's last coopere. 

In addition, Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham were names as recipients of the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award for 2021, and 2020

HT: The Rap Sheet

Friday, July 23, 2021


Bouchercon 2021 will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 25-29. 

Here's an update from Bouchercon 2021 on COVID: 

To All Bouchercon Attendees!

We are incredibly excited to be bringing Bouchercon 2021 to New Orleans. Our team will be waiting to help make this one of the most memorable and enjoyable Bouchercon’s you have ever attended.  If this is your first Bouchercon, we want to make sure you will have such a wonderful time, you will come back year after year.

We know everyone is very concerned about the rising Covid Delta Variant. We want to assure you that we are following the State, the City and the Hotel guidelines during the convention. The Mayor of New Orleans has sent out an advisory that everyone should mask indoors again for now, or at least until the numbers of the Variant go down. 

The Marriott is very excited about us being there in August. As you know, this has hit tourism extremely hard everywhere. The hotel will help us with social distancing, We will do everything within our power to make this as safe a convention as possible. Everyone’s health is a great concern to us.

There will be exceptional panels and great special events. Laura Lippman and Dennis Lehane are attending, and A. Martinez, who played Jacob Nighthorse in the Longmire Series, will be chatting with Craig Johnson, creator of the series and our American Guest of Honor.

The Marriott has huge ballrooms and we will have plenty of space to social distance. We also plan to have “I am vaccinated” stickers (You will have to show your vaccination card to receive one) for people to wear to show they have been fully vaccinated. Even though this is going to be voluntary, authors and readers are great people, and we are hoping that each and everyone one of us will want to make our friends feel relieved and make an effort to wear one.

The following link will take you to the newest advisory from the New Orleans Mayor.

See you soon in NOLA for the next great Bouchercon!!!!

Mike Bursaw
Heather Graham
Connie Perry
Co-chairs Bouchercon 2021, New Orleans

Cartoon of the Day: Gophers

 This could be my backyard!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cartoon of the Day: The Purchase

Reign still doesn't need this purchase. She has no problem jumping up on the bed and standing up to counter-surf. Of course, she's a big dog, a golden retriever. No Dogs on the Bed! Ha!

William F. Nolan: R.I.P.

William F. Nolan, author, screenwriter, artist, and fan, passed away on July 15 at the age of 93. Perhaps best known for co-writing Logan's Run with the late George Clayton John, William F. Nolan wrote hundreds of stories in the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and crime fiction genres.

As a noted pulp historian, he was a recognized authority on Black Mask, Dashiell Hammett, and "Max Brand" (Frederick Faust). Nolan has edited six collections of Faust tales, has written Max Brand: Western Giant, and was the author of the biography King of the Pulps: The Man Who Was Max Brand. Nolan's historical anthology, The Black Mask Boys, is the key work on the legendary magazine - and he's written three books on Dashiell Hammett, plus several pieces on the early pulp fiction of his longtime pal, Ray Bradbury.

He received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to Dark Fantasy. Nolan lived in Vancouver, Washington, in an apartment "full of books, pulp magazines, and stuffed animals."

Obituary in Rolling Stone

Read an obituary in File 770: Mike Glyer's News of SF Fandom.

Monday, July 19, 2021



The International Association of Crime Writers, North America announced the 2020 Hammett Prize Winner. The Hammett Prize is given for literary Excellence in Crime Writing

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy

Set in western North Carolina in the area of the Cherokee reservation, the novel tells the story of an elderly father’s attempt to rescue his son from the plague of addiction that has afflicted so much of rural America. Fierce and tough, the novel shows powerful and tender emotions corrupted and made explosive. Yet it is more than a thriller, casting a cold eye on the difficult social situation, while (as one of the judges observed) giving the reader moments of brilliant writing on almost every page. 


Murder In Old Bombay by Nev March (Minotaur) Based on a true story, in 1892 a soldier recovering from wounds investigates a murder. 

The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Minotaur) A New York detective revisits the disappearance of her cousin in Ireland two decades ago. 

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black (Soho) In World War II, a young female sniper is sent to Paris to assassinate the Führer. 

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy (Putnam) A father in Appalachia confronts the opioid epidemic in an attempt to rescue his son. 

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco) Vigilante Virgil Wounded Horse investigates the spread of heroin on the reservation. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

2021 AGATHA AWARD WINNERS: More Than Malice!

The 2021 MALICE DOMESTIC AGATHA AWARDS WINNERS were announced tonight at More Than Malice, the Virtual Malice Domestic Festival this year.

Best Contemporary Novel

All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best Historical Novel 

The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen (Berkeley)

Best First Novel

Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington)

Best Short Story 

"Dear Emily Etiquette" by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Sep/Oct)

Best Non-Fiction

Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)

Best Children's/YA

Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richard Narvaez (Piñata Books) 

Congratulations to all of the winners! 

The Agatha Awards were presented during MORE THAN MALICE, an online virtual crime festival this weekend. All the panels and special events have been recorded and will be available to registered participants for a few weeks. You can still register to view the great panels!

Register Now for MORE THAN MALICE

TRYING SOMETHING NEW WITH SOMETHING OLD: Guest Post by Kathy Lynn Emerson aka Kaitlyn Dunnett

Kathy Lynn Emerson (aka Kaitlyn Dunnett):

Trying Something New With Something Old

I never seriously considered self-publishing until Covid-19 hit. Suddenly, as a person in her seventies, I had to face the fact that I was in the "high risk" category. That made me think about the body of work I'd leave behind if I was one of the victims of the pandemic. Not the sixty-three (sixty-four with Murder, She Edited in August) traditionally published books under various names in several genres. They're out there if anyone wants to read them and, thanks to the e-book revolution, are likely to stay available after I'm gone. No, my concern was for the other novels I've written over the course of a forty-year career, the ones no one but me seemed to love, the ones editors, even those who liked my writing, didn't think were commercial enough to be worth publishing.

There were also two nonfiction projects I hoped would survive me. One was the biography I wrote of my grandfather way back in 1980. Using his diaries and memoirs and writing on a manual typewriter, I put together The Life of a Plodder (his title) and made Xerox copies for family members. I also sent one to the local historical society, since Grampa's story included a lot of local history (and local gossip) from the 1880s to the 1960s. After computers replaced typewriters and webpages became part of every professional writer's life, I revised and updated this manuscript and made it available online, but it wasn't until 2020 that it occurred to me that an e-book would be a better way to make sure the contents stay available for any local history buffs or genealogists who might be interested. 

The Life of a Plodder would probably have been my only self-published book if I hadn't discovered how easy the process of producing e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks has become. By the end of 2020, I'd also self-published six books I wrote for children ages eight to twelve (four reissues and two originals) and my A Who's Who of Tudor Women, the other nonfiction project. This behemoth is only available as an e-book because in a print edition it would be nearly 1800 pages in length. Like The Life of a Plodder, that material was originally online at one of my websites, growing larger every time I researched a new historical mystery and discovered more potential entries among the real Englishwomen of the sixteenth century. 

By the time those books had been launched into the world, my immediate demise was looking much less likely. I hadn't done much by way of promotion, since my focus had been on revising, proofing, and formatting. I soon discovered that getting the word out is easier said than done, especially when I'm not someone who is particularly good at tooting my own horn. That's when serendipity came into play. 

For nearly ten years, I've blogged twice a week at In Blog #250, I broached the idea of collecting some of them into a book. It didn't take much encouragement from readers to convince me that I should go ahead with that plan, and before long I'd selected 115 blogs and started sorting them into subject areas. I didn't have far to look for a title. I used the same one I attached to my very first Maine Crime Writers post: I Kill People for a Living. The subtitle is A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries. The blogs, with editing (my own and that done by a professional editor) are now essays. 

As I had for the other self-published books, I hired a cover designer, although I provided the photographs he used. The result preserves more of my work for posterity (that legacy thing again) but it also helps with self-promotion. You see, many of the essays relate to writing, often using my own books as examples. With luck, people who read them will be inspired to delve into my backlist. 

Or they can just enjoy my take on such diverse topics as oddities in my home state of Maine, climbing my family tree, strange fan mail, technophobia, and (of course) living with cats. 


Kathy Lynn Emerson won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. As Kaitlyn Dunnett, she writes the "Deadly Edits" cozy mystery series (Murder, She Edited). Her websites are and

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

MYSTERIES SET IN FRANCE: Mystery Readers Journal: Bastille Day!

Celebrate Bastille Day with a copy of  Mystery Readers Journal: Mysteries Set in France (Volume 28:1)! Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.



  • A Brief Panorama of Early French Crime Fiction by Jean-Marc Lofficier
  • Sex and the Country: Some Thoughts on Pierre Magnan by Peter Rozovsky
  • An Interview with Sîan Reynolds by Peter Rozovsky
  • My Affair With the Birthplace of Crime Fiction by Bernadette Bean
  • Tale of Two Dominiques by Cary Watson
  • The Father of the Detective Story: Emile Gaboriau by Nina Cooper
  • Passion, Bloodshed, Desire, and Death by Susanne Alleyn
  • How I Got Into My Life of Crime French Style by Cara Black
  • Honest! I Was in Paris Working Very Hard! by Rick Blechta
  • Having a Nice Time? by Rhys Bowen
  • Inspector Aliette Nouvelle by John Brooke
  • The French Adventure of a Full-time Lawyer and Part-time Fool by Alan Gordon
  • Escape From Paris by Carolyn Hart
  • Maggie MacGowen Goes to France by Wendy Hornsby
  • France on Berlin Time by J. Robert Janes
  • Experiencing Provence by M.L. Longworth
  • Writing a French Police Series by Adrian Magson
  • France, the Write Country by Peter May
  • Travel + Fiction: You Want to Go There by Lise McClendon
  • Hemingway's Paris Remains 'A Moveable Feast' by Craig McDonald
  • Inspired by the "Where" by Tom Mitcheltree
  • It's All About Me? by Sharan Newman
  • Drinking Tea From a Bowl: Getting France Right by D-L Nelson
  • Mysteries Set in France: Vive la Différence! by Katherine Hall Page
  • Provence—To Die For by Renée Paley-Bain
  • Mick Jagger, Kirs Royales, and Paris by P.J. Parrish
  • Paris Shadows by M.J. Rose
  • Diplomatic Mystery by William S. Shepard
  • Alpine Beach: My French Connection by Susan Steggall
  • She Lost Her Head in La Belle France by Nancy Means Wright
  • Crossword: The French Connection by Verna Suit
  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, L.J. Roberts, Alana White, Marlyn Beebe
  • Children's Hour: Where's Madeleine? by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Glimpses of France by Marvin Lachman
  • The Art of French Crime by Cathy Pickens
  • Crime Seen: Le Crime Vu by Kate Derie
  • Mysteries Set in France by British Authors by Philip Scowcroft
  • From the Editor's Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Tuesday, July 13, 2021


Lots of great shows coming up on PBS Masterpiece Mystery! Here's a preview. Check your local station for times, but if you have PBS Passport, you can binge watch them all. Of course, you'll need to wait until the first episode of each series goes up, but that's still great! Happy Viewing.

Get a glimpse at the new seasons of Mystery! Favorites like Grantchester, Unforgotten, and Baptiste, plus the newest series Guilt, all coming in 2021. 


Saturday, July 10, 2021

ITW Thriller Award Winners 2021

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2021 International Thriller Writers Awards:

Best Hardcover: Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby  (Flatiron Books)

Best First Novel: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco)

Best Original Paperback: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs (Thomas & Mercer)

Best Short Story: "Rent Due" by Alan Orloff in Mickey Finn 21st Century Noir (Down & Out Books)

Best Young Adult Novel: Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos (Kids Can Press)

Best E-Book Original Novel: A Killing Game by Jeff Buick (Novel Words)


HISTORICAL MYSTERIES II: Mystery Readers Journal (37:2)

Mystery Readers Journal: Historical Mysteries II
(Volume 37:2// Summer 2021) is now available as PDF and hardcopy. If you're a PDF subscriber, you should have received download instructions. Hard copy subscription copies should arrive soon. PDF Contributor Copies will go out tomorrow. Don't forget, Historical Mysteries I (37:1) is still available. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue.

Historical Mysteries II

Volume 37, No. 2, Summer 2021

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


  • Joe Gores’ Dashiell Hammett by Catherine Accardi
  • Ireland in the 1930s and 40s in Michael Russell’s Stefan Gillespie Novels by David Clark
  • History, Mystery & the Female Protagonist by Vinnie Hansen
  • Megan Abbott and the Evolution of Noir by Sean Day
  • Epochal or Historical? It’s Still a Mystery! by Chiara Giacobbe
  • Music Defines a Decade by Sandra Murphy


  • Not Another 1920s Mystery by Saffron Amatti
  • The Primary Reasons I Like Primary Sources by Anne Louise Bannon
  • Keeping it Real: The Challenge of Writing a Strong Historical Heroine by Mally Becker
  • The Case of the Missing River-Map by J. F. Benedetto
  • Who’s Hiding In That Ancient House? by Cordelia Frances Biddle
  • Mysteries Set in Places with History by Suzanne J. Bratcher
  • Keeping it Fresh: Writing a Long Running Historical Series by Emily Brightwell
  • Searching for the Roots of History by Rebecca Cantrell
  • Hands, Hearts and History by Charles Colley
  • “And Put a Crime in It…” by Ruth Downie
  • Excavations of Violence: Why History Makes the Best Mystery by Mariah Fredericks
  • Should I Tinker with the Facts? by Jim Fusilli
  • The Art and Madness of Writing Historical Mystery Novels by Harald Gilbers
  • Pirates Make Unreliable Witnesses by Steve Goble
  • “Historical Fiction” Is an Oxymoron by Hal Glatzer
  • Writing the Stories I Love to Read by Anna Lee Huber
  • Travelling Through Time with Sherlock Holmes by Robert J. Harris
  • The Mystery Inside “The Baptism” by Gerald Everett Jones
  • A Lady and a Swordsman by Kathleen Marple Kalb
  • History as a Red Herring by Ron Katz
  • It’s Not My Fault I Write Historical Mysteries by Ken Kuhlken
  • Hunting Hitler in Hollywood by Susan Elia MacNeal
  • My Family Secret: An Eyewitness to India’s Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 by Nev March
  • What’s Really Inside the Carnival in Not Like Us by Darrin McGraw and Robert McGraw
  • Imagining History: Writing Death on the Homefront by Frances McNamara
  • Accidental Chronicler by Catriona McPherson
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mystery by Timothy Miller
  • Writing What You Don’t Know But Can Research by Sandra Murphy
  • San Francisco’s Cliff House: The History (and the Mystery) by Ann Parker
  • The Art of Creating an Historical Heroine by Andrea Penrose
  • A Talking Snake and Other Mysteries by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
  • Two Authors in Search of Ideas by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • Haunted by History by Erika Robuck
  • The Responsibilities of Historical Fiction by Kelli Stanley
  • The Thousand Piece Puzzle by Susan Tornga
  • Recreating the Past by Sylvia Maultash Warsh
  • Closer Than You Think by Clare Whitfield
  • An Unlikely Home to Criminal Debuts by Gabriel Valjan
  • Helen of Troy—Just Another Pretty Face? by N. S. Wikarski
  • The Past Isn’t Dead, It Isn’t Even Past by Kenneth Wishnia
  • From True Crime to Historical Mystery by W.A. Winter


  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Benjamin L. Clark, Lesa Holstine, Peter Handel, Amy Renshaw, L.J. Roberts, Lucinda Surber
  • Children’s Hour: Historical Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • Crime Seen: History Mystery Around the World by Kate Derie
  • Real History Mysteries by Cathy Pickens
  • In Short: History Mystery by Marv Lachman
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph


SUBSCRIBE to Mysteries Readers Journal for 2021

Themes in 2021: History Mysteries 1; History Mysteries 2; Texas; Cold Cases. 

Call for articles: We're looking for reviews, articles, and Author! author! essays. Review: 50-150 words, articles, 500-1000 words. Author Essays: 500-1000 words, first person, upclose and personal about yourself, your books, and the "theme" connection. Deadline for Texas: July 20, 2021.  

Send queries to Janet Rudolph: janet @ mysteryreaders . org

Friday, July 9, 2021

Last Call for Articles: Texas Mysteries: Mystery Readers Journal: Articles, Reviews, Author Essays

Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 37: 3)

The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal will focus on Texas Mysteries. We're looking for Reviews, Articles, and Author! Author! essays.

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

Author Author! Essays are first person, about yourself, your books, and your unique take on "Texas Mysteries." Think of it as chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe (or on Zoom) about your work and your 'Historical Mystery' connection. Add a title and 2-3 sentence bio/tagline.

Deadline: July 20, 2021

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

Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor. janet @

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

Subscribe to Mystery Readers Journal. Themes in 2021 (Volume 37): History Mysteries 1; History Mysteries 2; Texas; and Cold Cases.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

STRANGE BEGINNINGS: Or my Week in Another World: Guest Post by Kathryn Casey

Kathryn Casey: 
Strange Beginnings: Or my week in another world  

I was surrounded by children of all sizes. The couch overflowed with girls in prairie dresses, the chairs were crowded with boys in slacks and long-sleeved shirts, and a group of the youngest girls sat cross-legged at my feet. Despite it being a searing summer day, they wore pants under their dresses. They all eyed me as if I were an alien who’d landed my flying saucer in their living room. 

As the children listened in, I talked to their parents, until one girl, a little blond bundle of perhaps five, stood. She sidled up next to me, then ran a soft hand over my bare arm, again and again. A few of the other youngsters joined her, touching my arms as well, and I looked at the first girl’s mother, questioning. 

“She’s never seen a grown woman’s arms uncovered before,” the woman explained. “We believe short sleeves aren’t modest, so we keep our limbs covered.” 

I’d been in Hildale, Utah, for a few days at that point, and I would end up staying a week, working on a magazine article. The subject was an adoption. The family I’d dropped in on was attempting to adopt six children. What made the case newsworthy was that they were polygamists, a husband and two wives. 

That dusty mountain town felt like the edge of the world. It was one of a handful of such fundamentalist Mormon towns where residents lived by “The Divine Principle,” or plural marriage. Along with the children, those in the room included their father, Vaughn Fischer, and his two surviving wives. Over the course of my time in Hildale, I interviewed dozens of townsfolk, some who crowed about the joy they found in their lifestyles, and others who described oppression at the hands of the sect’s prophet and the peril of living in a town where every aspect of life was overseen and judged by those in power. 

That experience imprinted on me, and I never forgot it. 

It’s not unusual for writers to draw from past experiences when writing fiction. In my case, I spent twenty-some years as a crime writer working for magazines. That career took me inside prison walls, to death row, into the homes of victims’ and killers’ families, into morgues, crime labs, and detective bureaus. I’ve sat through more trials than I care to remember.

In 2008, I centered my first series on a fictional Texas Ranger, Sarah Armstrong. Why? Because I’ve known rangers. I count some as friends. When I decided to write a second series, what came to mind was that eerie week in Hildale, and the folks I met there. What a great setting, I decided. Although it was in the center of the U.S., it was truly a world set apart. 

That was the beginning of the Clara Jefferies mystery series. 

My main character, Clara, is an apostate, who’s fled the fictional mountain town of Alber, moved to Dallas, and become a detective. In the first book, The Fallen Girls, she returns reluctantly, for only one reason: to find a missing sister. 

The story, of course, isn’t real, or are any of the characters, but there was much I remembered from that week in Hildale that provided fodder. For instance, townsfolk had told me about the close relationship between local police and those in power within the sect. The prophet and those in the church hierarchy, they said, called all the shots, and few dared to cross them. 

From this rich soil, I pulled smaller details, like the stilted way the inhabitants spoke, as if they belonged to a long-past era. The subtle and sometimes not so subtle realities of such a world, where one man could have many wives and woman had little control, not even being allowed to choose who they would marry. 

Since I made that decision and birthed Alber as the setting, the time has flown. The Fallen Girls came out in June 2020, followed by Her Final Prayer last October. The reviews have been amazing, and I get so many emails from folks who say they’re as fascinated by my fictional world as I was so long ago on my trip into the mountains. Book three, The Blessed Bones, debuted in March 2021. 

I’m not surprised that readers find Alber interesting. There are, after all, places and experiences that stay with us throughout our lives. Ones that imprint and refuse to leave. 

For me, one such place is that town in Utah. I close my eyes, and I feel the blistering summer sun beating down on my back, smell the red dust clouding around my shoes as I walk, feel the touch of that young girl’s hand skimming my bare arm, and I remember the curve of her smile as she looked at me in wonder. 

Kathryn Casey | 
Facebook Kathryn Casey
(@KathrynCasey) / Twitter

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Maltese Falcon Award: Japan

Thanks to The Gum Shoe site for this news: The Maltese Falcon Society of Japan announced that C.J. Box is the winner of the 2021 Maltese Falcon Award for Breaking Point (Putnam, 2013) as the best hardboiled/private eye novel published in Japan in the previous year.  C.J. Box will receive a wood-crafted Falcon statuette.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

VINTAGE POSTCARDS: Fourth of July Children with Fireworks!!

Happy Fourth of July! Fireworks have been a part of Independence Day celebrations for more than 200 years. Fireworks, though, can be dangerous, especially for children. That's why I find these Vintage Postcards so odd. Today this would be considered "child endangerment." Have a safe Fourth of July!

Friday, July 2, 2021

Cartoon of the Day: Book Club

CWA Dagger Award Winners 2021

The results are in. Crime Writers Association (UK) announced the Dagger Award winners last night. Congratulations to all!

Gold Dagger: We Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker (Zaffre)

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: When She Was Good, by Michael Robotham (Sphere)

John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: The Creak on the Stairs, by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (Orenda)

Sapere Books Historical Dagger: Midnight at Malabar House, by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)

ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-fiction: Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind, by Sue Black (Doubleday)

Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger: The Disaster Tourist, by Yun Ko-eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler (Serpent’s Tail)

Short Story Dagger: “Monsters,” by Clare Mackintosh (from First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books, edited by David Headley and Daniel Gedeon; The Dome Press)

Dagger in the Library (“for a body of work by an established crime writer that has long been popular with borrowers from libraries”): Peter May

Publishers’ Dagger (“awarded annually to the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year”): Head of Zeus

CWA Debut Dagger (for as-yet-unpublished novels): Deception, by Hannah Redding. Highly commended: Underwater, by Fiona McPhillips

Martina Cole received the 2021 Diamond Dagger award for lifetime achievement.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Fourth of July Mysteries/ July 4th Crime Fiction

The Fourth of July (Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays, maybe because I was born in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation.

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

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

As always, let me know if I've missed any titles. This is an updated list.

Fourth of July Mysteries

The Fourth of July Wake by Harold Adams
Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon
Murder on Parade by Donald Bain (as Jessica Fletcher) 
Home of the Brave by Donna Ball

Bomb Pop Threat by Christy Barritt 
Hair of the Dog by Laurien Berenson 
Murder by Fireworks by Susan Bernhardt
Jealousy Filled Donuts by Ginger Bolton
Plot Boiler by Ali Brandon 
The Cat Who Went Underground by Lilian Jackson Braun
Rockets' Red Glare by Lynn Cahoon
The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up by JoAnna Carl

Gone with the Whisker by Laurie Cass
Dead on the 4th of July by Meg Chittenden

Someone to Watch Over Me by Jill Churchill
Independence Day by Anne-Marie Clark
Twanged by Carol Higgins Clark
Oh Say Can You Fudge by Nancy Coco
BlackBuried Pie by Lyndsey Cole
Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle
The Carousel of Death by Elisabeth Crabtree
A Catered Fourth of July by Isis Crawford
Red, White, and Blue Murder
by Bill Crider
Firework Fiasco; Fireworks in Paradise by Kathi Daley

Framed and Frosted by Kim Davis
Guilty as Charred by Devon Delaney
Blood Red, White and Blue by Kathleen Delaney
Dead on the Fourth of July by R. E. Derouin
Four Dog's Sake by Lia Farrell
Blackberry Burial by Sharon Farrow
One Fete in the Grave by Vickie Fee
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Independence Slay by Shelley Freydont
Booneville Retribution by S. Furlong-Bollinger
Mistaken Identity by Patricia Gligor
Katelyn's Killer by John Gordon
Tool & Die, Triple Witch; Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves
Act Of Darkness by Jane Haddam
Bowled Over by Victoria Hamilton
Yankee Doodle Dead; Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart
Past Imperfect by Kathleen Hills
Death of a Cookbook Author by Lee Hollis

The Ghost Who Lied by Bobbie Holmes
The Falls: Fourth of July by George Jackson
Exit Wounds by J. A. Jance
The Fourth of July by J.D. Kincaid

A Star-Spangled Mayfair by Kassandra Lamb
A Timely Vision; A Watery Death by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Silence of the Jams by Gayle Leeson
Die Like a Hero by Clyde Linsley
Knee High by the Fourth of July by Jess Lourey

Dahlias and Death by London Lovett
Death on Nantucket by Francine Mathews
Left Hanging by Patricia McLinn
Star Spangled Murder by Leslie Meier
Cold Hard News by Maureen Milliken

Flag Cake Felonies by Addison Moore
Manic in Christmas River; Mayhem in Christmas River; Mutts & Murder by Meg Muldoon
Bats and Bones Karen Musser Nortman
A Fifth for the 4th of July by Doug Olsen and Julie Gollan
Foal Play by Kathryn O'Sullivan 
Iron Ties by Ann Parker
4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
The Body in the Birches by Katherine Hall Page
4th of July by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
King Suckerman by George P. Pelecanos
Can't Never Tell by Cathy Pickens

Three Woofs for the Dead, White and Plus by Laura Quinn

Dead, White, and Blue by Amy M. Reade

Spilling the Spice by Sheri Richey
Firecrackered by Patricia Rockwell
Death by Deep Dish Pie by Sharon Short
The Dam Committee by Earl H. Smith
Killing Grounds by Dana Stabenow
And Four to Go ("Fourth of July Picnic") by Rex Stout
Independence Day Plague by Carla Lee Suson
Doggone Dead by Teresa Trent
Prepped for the Kill by A.E. H. Veenman
The 4th of July Can Be MURDER! by Dianne Warth Vereen
Thread and Gone by Lea Wait

A Medium's 4th of July by Chariss K. Walker and Marty Parker
Independence Day Murder by Linnea West

Some Welcome Home by Sharon Wildwind

Mrs. Morris and the Sorceress by Traci Wilton
Star Spangled Murder by Valerie Wolzien
Embarking on Murder by Sue Owens Wright

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

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

The Fourth of July Fiasco by Jim McNeal
The Case of the July 4th Jinx by Lewis B. Montgomery and Amy Wummer

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

As always, I welcome additions and comments.

Have a great holiday!!