Monday, November 29, 2021


This is such sad news. Not a lot of details yet, but Edgar nominated author Gordon McAlpine has  passed away at the age of 62. Way too young. McAlpine was such a wonderful talented quirky writer. He wrote as Gordon McAlpine and Owen Fitzstephen. Some of my favorite novels of his: Woman with a Blue Pencil, The Big Man's Daughter, and Hammett Unwritten. He also wrote a trilogy of middle grade novels, The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe, as well as short fiction in journals and anthologies. McAlpine taught at Chapman University in Orange, California, for many years.

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

Irish Book Awards 2021

Catherine Ryan Howard's 56 Days (Atlantic/Corvus) has won the An Post Irish Book Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year. It's a great thriller, a real page turner that enfolds over 56 days during the pandemic. Don't miss it!

Other Nominees: 

All Her Fault, by Andrea Mara (Transworld)

April in Spain, by John Banville (Faber and Faber)

The Dark Room, by Sam Blake (Atlantic/Corvus)

The Devil’s Advocate, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)

The Killing Kind, by Jane Casey (Harper Fiction)

HT: TheRapSheet

Sunday, November 28, 2021

CHANUKAH MYSTERIES // Hanukah Crime Fiction

Chanukah (no matter how you spell it - Hanukah, Hanukkah). The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah starts tonight and lasts for eight days, so you have plenty of time to read all these books! Let me know if I've missed any mysteries. This is an updated list.

Hanukkah Mystery Novels 
A Crafty Christmas by Molly Cox Bryan
Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle (mostly about Christmas but Hanukah is mentioned)
Beautiful Lie the Dead by Barbara Fradkin
Strength to Stand by Sheyna Galyan
Festival of Deaths by Jane Haddam
Hanukkah Gelt by T. Lee Harris
Out of the Frying Pan into the Choir by Sharon Kahn
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
Murder at the Minyan by Shlumat E. Kustanowitz
The Body in the Sleigh by Katherine Hall Page (mostly about Christmas but Hanukah is mentioned)
Dog Have Mercy by Neil Plakcy
Chanukah Guilt by Ilene Schneider
The Tattooed Rabbi by Marvin J. Wolf
Mom Lights a Candle by James Yaffe

Children's Hanukah Mysteries
Rabbi Rocketpower and the Mystery of the Missing Menorahs - A Hanukkah Humdinger! by Rabbi Susan Abramson and Aaron Dvorkin and Ariel DiOrio
Too Many Latkes: A Chanukah Mystery by Sonia Zylberberg
The Mohel from Mars by Miri Ariel
The Case of the Disappearing Chanukah Candles by Ellen Roteman
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket.

Mystery Short Stories
"Mom Lights a Candle" by James Yaffe, appeared in Mystery: The Best of 2002, ed. by Jon L. Breen.
"Hanukah" by Morris Hershman in Cat Crimes for the Holidays, ed. by Martin Greenberg, Edward Gorman and Larry Segriff
"The Worse Noel" by Barb Goffman in The Gift of Murder, ed. by John M. Floyd
"Death on the List" by B.K. Stevens (AHMM, January 1999)
For more info on Jewish short story mysteries, check out Steven Steinbock who blogs on Criminal Brief, the Mystery Short Story Web Log Project.
"Navidad" by Elizabeth Zelvin, EQMM, January 2011
"No Candles for Antiochus" by Barry Ergang
Murder is no Mitzvah: Short Stories about Jewish Occasions, edited by Abigail Browning
The Latke in the Library & Other Mystery Stories for Chanukah by Libi Astaire

Mystery Anthologies
The Melancholy Menorah (Jewish Regency Mystery Stories Book 4), Libi Astaire
The Latke in the Library and Other Mystery Stories for Chanukah, Libi Astaire
36 Candles: Chassidic Tales for Chanukah, Libi Astaire
Murder is No Mitzvah: Short Mysteries About Jewish Occasions, Abigail Browning
Jewish Noir, Edited by Kenneth Wishnia

Mystery Games
Children's software mystery game: Who Stole Hanukkah? offered in five languages: English, Hebrew, Russian, French and Spanish
Other Games for Children: The Case of the Stolen Menorah: An Enlightening Hanukkah Mystery

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


This Retro Thanksgiving Advertisement for Camel Cigarettes does not have a chocolate recipe, although it mentions chocolate layer cake, but I couldn't help but post it because it shows how far we've come--and where we've been.

"Thanksgiving Dinner.. and then the peaceful feeling that comes from good digestion and smoking Camels. ... For Digestion's Sake--Smoke Camels."

One of the "authorities" in this ad is a Food Editor

Hope you don't have a cigarette after your Thanksgiving Dinner.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

CANDICE RENOIR, SEASON 3 premieres on AcornTV

Candice Renoir, Season 3 on Acorn TV. I really like this show, and I'm glad to see that AcornTV is finally airing another season of this great French TV production. There are 9 seasons, so hopefully we'll see more in the near future.  Season 3 premieres December 27.

After 10 years abroad, Candice Renoir is back in France and back on the case as a police commandant, using her skills honed as a divorced mom to solve complex cases. You can watch Seasons 1 and 2 now on AcornTV.  If you haven't seen it, be sure and add it to your queue/

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Cartoon of the Day: Why We Almost Didn't Have Cats

 Happy Caturday!


Happy Thanksgiving. Glad to see that 2021 will soon be behind us.. Thanksgiving will be a very small event for me, and probably for you, as well, due to the continuing covid issues, 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

Dianne Ascroft Thanksgiving and Theft
Deb Baker Murder Talks Turkey
S.H. Baker The Colonel's Tale
Mignon Ballard, Miss Dimple Disappears
Sandra Balzo Hit and Run

Kate Bell, Kathleen Suzette Thankfully Dead
Bob Berger The Risk of Fortune
William Bernhardt, Editor, Natural Suspect
Kate Borden Death of a Turkey

Amy Boyles Southern Magic Thanksgiving
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
Jillian Chance The Fall of the Sharp Sisters

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

Leena Clover Turkeys and Thanksgiving
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: 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

Robert Davis Stuffed
Vicki Delany (aka Eva Gates) Silent Night, Deadly Night

Jana Deleon Cajun Fried Felony

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

Lauren Elliott To the Tome of Murder

Alex Erickson Death by Hot Apple Cider
Janet Evanovich Thanksgiving (technically a romance)*
Nancy Fairbanks Turkey Flambe
Christy Fifield Murder Ties the Knot

Maureen Fisher Deadly Thanksgiving 
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

Gin Jones & Elizabeth Ashby Deadly Thanksgiving Sampler

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

Wendy Meadows Turkey, Pies and Alibis

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

J.A. Whiting Sweet Thanksgiving

Rachel Wood Gobble, Gobble Murder
Angela Zeman The Witch and the Borscht Pearl

For the Younger Set:

Thanksgiving Thief: Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew

Ron Roy and John Steven Gurney: November Night

Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, Mitchell Sharmat Nate the Great Talks Turkey

Let me know if I've forgotten any titles!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Cartoon of the Day: The Plot Twist


CLEA SIMON: Tattoos and the Limits of Research 

She rubs her thumb over the F clef on her wrist. A reminder, faded now, of what she had. The cost … 

Gal Raver, my protagonist, has a tattoo of an F clef on the inside of her wrist. It’s an old tattoo, faded blue, but whenever she sees it, it reminds her of one of her former bandmates – as it is supposed to. Those memories are a part of who she is – and they’re key to the mysteries at the heart of Hold Me Down. This new, dark book centers on a murder of one of Gal’s old colleagues and the question of why the accused, another old friend, is refusing to defend himself from the charges. To get to the heart of that, and maybe save her old friend, Gal has to delve into her own checkered past, to look back on the life she led as a wild-child rock and roller and the damage she inflicted along the way. 

To write this dark psychological suspense, I – like Gal – had to re-immerse myself in the Boston rock scene of decades past. An era when women like my bassist protagonist were making music, and their own way, in a male-dominated world in part by proving themselves as tough as the men around them. 

So many of my friends back then were getting tattoos, an act that was still a little transgressive for a woman. J. got a Celtic braid as a bracelet – something she could hide with a watch when she went to visit her mother. K. originally intended to get a small goldfish on her shoulder, but the artist she went to create a gorgeous design that covered her shoulder blade. Before long, skin art became common. But for a few years there, ink defined a certain crew of rockers, so I knew Gal would have some. 

She’s certainly not alone. While researching Hold Me Down, I reached out to multiple sources. Musicians for the most part. Critics (like I was) and fanzine writers who had documented the scene and club personnel, from bookers and managers, the folks at the soundboard and behind the bar. And, of course, the fans who had made up the beating heart of the nocturnal world. I remembered a lot, and these conversations sparked more memories, and I also used a lot of what these people shared with me, even as I shaped it to work with my story, and with Gal’s. To make it, like the music, Gal’s own. 

I also wanted to get the legalities right – especially once Walter, Gal’s friend, is arrested. For that, I reached out to my old roommate, Susan, now a law school dean. She put me in touch with a professor who specialized in this aspect of criminal law, and who could talk me through the steps from arraignment to trial and who let me try out various possibilities along the way. 

Professor Elizabeth Jones of the Western State College of Law even read a full draft of the book, once it was done, for which I am truly grateful. But her one critique, of a passage halfway through, surprised me. 

“An F clef,” she’d said, drawing one on his pad to make sure he understood. “Here.” 

“You sure?” His brows had gone up when she’d turned her arm over, revealing the soft, pale flesh of her wrist. “It’ll hurt.” “Good,” she’d said. 

“I have tattoos,” she told me. “And what that tattoo artist says to her? That would never happen.” 

“Not even when it’s on the underside of her wrist?” I may not have skin art, but I know how sensitive that area is. 

“Doesn’t matter.” 

I thought about this for a while. Liz had given me great information, solid feedback on the legal aspects of the book. And then I remembered what she didn’t yet know – that this was Gal’s story, and that what we learn of Gal’s memories may not always reflect what happened. Instead, the stories she shares show us who she was and who she became. Where, in other words, it hurts. 


A former journalist, Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of three nonfiction books and 29 mysteries. including the new psychological suspense HOLD ME DOWN. While most of these (like A Cat on the Case) are cat “cozies” or amateur sleuth, she also writes darker crime fiction, like the rock and roll mystery World Enough, named a “must read” by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Her new psychological suspense Hold Me Down (Polis Books) returns to the music world, with themes of PTSD and recovery, as well as love in all its forms. She can be reached at, on Twitter @Clea_Simon and on Instagram @cleasimon_author 


Monday, November 15, 2021

THE POWER OF THE DOG: Netflix Western with Benedict Cumberbatch

Coming December 1 on Netflix: The Power of the Dog

In his first on-screen role in a Netflix Original, Benedict Cumberbatch will star in the screenplay adaptation of The Power of the Dog. Other cast members: Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee. The feature will drop on December 1 on Netflix.

The Power of the Dog is an upcoming Netflix Original drama based on the screenplay written by director Jane Campion. Campion’s screenplay is an adaptation of the 1967 novel of the same name by novelist Thomas Savage. From the Chicago Sun Times "Tthis is a dark Western contrasting beautiful scenery with ugly behavior."

Set in 1925, this production captures Montana at a crossroads in 1925.

Cartoon of the Day: Math Problem for Writers


Sunday, November 14, 2021


Agatha Raisin News! Agatha Raisin will have a season 4 consisting of 4 episodes. There will be a new episode in 2021, along with three more in 2022. All will be on AcornTV.

Like the third season, season 4 will adapt four of the late M.C. Beaton's novels in four 90-minute episodes.

  • “Kissing Christmas Goodbye” – With business booming for Agatha Raisin's Detective Agency, she’s in need of a well-earned break. With Christmas just around the corner, it looks like the perfect opportunity to relax. However, when she receives a letter from an old lady begging for protection, Agatha can’t help but spring into action.
  • “Love, Lies and Liquor” – James has finally returned to Carsley and promised to whisk Agatha away on holiday where she can help him write his next novel. Agatha’s dreams of the French Riviera quickly fade when she finds herself in Snoth-on-Sea, a seaside resort whose glory days are far behind it. When a hotel guest is found murdered, it’s up to Agatha to prove who the killer is.
  • “A Spoonful of Poison” – The competition to be crowned winner of the Carsley Jam-Off has always been fierce, but when the prize jam is poisoned leading to the death of a judge, things may finally have gone a step too far. Determined to bring the killer to justice, Agatha resolves to restore the
  • competition’s name.
  • “There Goes The Bride” – Agatha reluctantly promises to support James by attending his wedding. However, when a body is found during the morning of the big day, it’s up to Agatha and the gang to come to the rescue.

The TV adaptations are very different from the books, so even though some fans say the “feel” isn't quite the same in the new books, it seems likely the latest TV series will still feel pretty similar to previous TV adaptations.

Friday, November 12, 2021


More sad news. Caroline Medora Roe died suddenly on November 7 at the age of 84. Well known to the mystery world as both Medora Sale and Caroline Roe, she received her PhD in Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. She published 7 mystery novels under the name Medora Sale, and 8 mysteries under the name Caroline Roe. She was awarded the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis First Novel award in 1985 for Murder on the Run. An Antidote for Avarice won the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original Mystery Novel in 1999. She was president of both Crime Writers of Canada (1989-90) and Sisters in Crime (1998-99). My sympathy goes out to her family and friends. She will be missed.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Madame Blanc Mysteries: Acorn TV starts November 15

The Madame Blanc Mysteries: Acorn TV starts November 15. Weekly episodes every Monday, with two on November 15, followed by one a week. Antiques, Mysteries, and France: What a great combination! (Show is actually filmed in Malta)

Antiques dealer Jean White (Sally Lindsay) is nearly bankrupt after her husband’s sudden death, and so she heads to their one last asset: a cottage in antiques hub Sainte Victoire, France. There, Jean begins investigating his death, aided by sympathetic taxi driver Dom (Steve Edge). She soon finds the colorful locals have a treasure trove of other mysteries for her to assess, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day), is November 11. 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'." It 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 several 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.

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 a few more Vietnam War Veterans Mysteries:  

Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone, Quarry by Max Allan Collins, Dragonfish by Vu Tran, The Given World by Marian Palaia, The Sympathizer by Viet Than Nguyen, First Blood by David Morrell, Dog Day Afternoon by Vern E. Smith; The Man Who Won the Medal of Honor by Len Giovannitti; Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien; Operation Burning Candle by Blyden Jackson; The Odd Angry Shot by William Nagle.

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 our country. Thank you.

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Shetland Series 6 Premieres today on BritBox

Shetland, the series, based on the best-selling books by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, follows Detective Jimmy Perez and his team as they investigate crimes within the close-knit community on the titular Scottish archipelago.

The new season on BritBox is not an adaptation but an original story written by David Kane (Stonemouth, The Field of Blood). It finds Perez grieving a death in his family while he, DS Alison “Tosh” MacIntosh (Alison O’Donnell, Holby City), and DC Sandy Wilson (Steven Robertson, The Bay) investigate the murder of a prominent Shetland local. This killing causes shock waves through the community, and because the victim was so well-known and connected to so many people on Shetland — including those who might have had a motive for murdering the person — our detective trio have a lot of potential suspects.

In addition to the lead cast, actors reprising their roles in the new season of Shetland include Erin Armstrong (Rillington Place) as Cassie Perez, Lewis Howden (Taggart) as Sgt. Billy McCabe, Conor McCarry (The Loch) as PC Alex Grant, Neve McIntosh (Traces) as Kate Kilmuir, and Julia Brown (World on Fire) as Molly Kilmuir.

Shetland: Season 6 premieres in the US on Tuesday, November 9, exclusively on BritBox. New episodes will debut weekly through December 14.

Monday, November 8, 2021

"...a mingled yarn, good and ill together..." Guest Post by Cathy Ace


…a mingled yarn, good and ill together… 

(Source: All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 4, Scene 3, William Shakespeare

In The Corpse with the Granite Heart, the eleventh Cait Morgan Mystery (November 5th 2021, Four Tails Publishing Ltd.), Cait Morgan and her husband Bud Anderson are visiting London, England, for some pre-Christmas cheer, and to meet the new fiancée of their friend, John Silver. But – because this is a classic, closed-circle, mystery – things don’t go quite according to plan. Indeed, within hours of their arrival they’re not only grappling with the idea that they’re off to a dinner party to “celebrate” the life of a recently deceased Shakespeare aficionado, but they’re also confronted with a tragic, and puzzling, death. 

This book’s given me the chance to take Cait to her old stamping ground of London, and to force her to face some ghosts from her past. Being a bright woman, she expected as much, but – as is always the way for Cait, who’s not as judgmental about herself as she is about others – she hadn’t foreseen how very many ghosts there were, nor how they might pool their resources against her. 

Cait Morgan was “born” within a collection of short stories (in Murder Keeps No Calendar) and developed in a novella (in Murder Knows No Season), but most readers first met her in The Corpse with the Silver Tongue, the first novel in her own series, published in March 2012. That’s almost ten years ago (where did all that time go?) but – for Cait – the books she appears in have covered only about three and a half years of her life, so she’s just turned 50, whereas…well, let’s just say this author is no longer in her 50s, but had fun while she was, eh!? 

When I created her, Cait was about my age, and a professor of criminal psychology at a university in Vancouver that was a synthesis of the two universities in Vancouver where I was/had been teaching. Like me, she is short, overweight (damn those wretched Body Mass Index thingies!) and a bit bossy. I also gave her a Welsh birth and upbringing – like me – though she’d migrated to Canada by the time we met her. Who also did that, aged forty? Yep, me. So, yes, Cait’s a lot like me, and each of the books about her adventures have taken her to places where I’ve either lived, or worked. So, as you read the books, you’re also taking my life-journey with me. Possibly never moreso than in this book. It’s taken me a long time to face up to my ghosts – and I decided Cait could help me out. 

I lived in London for eighteen years, and miss many aspects of it to this day…for example, I sent Cait and Bud along to my favourite galleries to see some of the paintings with which I built a deep relationship over the years, which was great fun. I hope you like them. Also, writing this book has given me the chance to conjure old haunts of mine that no longer exist, share feelings I’ve experienced when realizing that change means memories are all we have of people and places, as well as creating new, absolutely fictional situations that gave me an opportunity to examine the nature of toxic, and – of course – deadly human relationships. 

I hope you enjoy all the Shakespearean quotes as chapter titles (yes, there’s a list of sources at the end of the book!), and maybe you’ll even spot the fact that I pinched the Great Bard’s classic five-act structure for this sweeping tragedy, which follows the House of Asimov as it teeters, and falls. With the highest body-count of any of the Cait Morgan Mysteries (to date), there’s also a Shakespearean swagger to the scale of the overall tale. 

If that sounds like your cup of tea – with a spoonful of Shakespearean allusions you’ll have fun spotting (I hope) throughout to sweeten the pot – then this could be the book for you to curl up with on a chilly evening, as you plan your seasonal decorating. 

Those who knew me during my “London years” might have a few surprises, but – if you didn’t know me back then – this book might give you an insight into some of the “mingled yarn” that was my life in those times.


Cathy Ace is the author of the traditional Cait Morgan Mysteries, the cozy WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, and the psychological suspense novel The Wrong Boy, Cathy was born and raised in Wales, but now lives in Canada. A Bony Blithe, IPPY, and IBA award winner, she’s also been shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award. Her Cait Morgan Mysteries, and The Wrong Boy, have been optioned for TV, and she’s currently working on editing the script (which, no, she didn’t write…not her skill set!) for the movie of The Corpse with the Silver Tongue

The Corpse with the Granite Heart is published on November 5th 2021 by Four Tails Publishing Ltd. ISBN paperback: 978-1-990550-00-3 ISBN digital: 978-1-9992230-9-0 


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Friday, November 5, 2021


Remember, remember! 
The fifth of November 

Another holiday, another list! We may not celebrate Guy Fawkes Night here in the U.S., but this popular U.K. holiday is celebrated in several countries around the world and appears in many crime fiction novels.

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, is an annual celebration, primarily in Great Britain, traditionally and usually held on the evening of November 5.  Festivities are centered on the use of fireworks and the lighting of bonfires.

Historically, the celebrations mark the anniversary of the failed Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605. Guy Fawkes Night originates from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and replace him with a Catholic head of state. The survival of the king was first celebrated on 5 November 1605, after Guy Fawkes, left in charge of the gunpowder placed underneath the House of Lords, was discovered and arrested.

Traditionally, an effigy (or "guy") representing Fawkes is ritually burnt on the bonfire. In the weeks before bonfire night, children traditionally displayed the "guy" and requested a "penny for the guy" in order to raise funds with which to buy fireworks. This practice has diminished greatly, perhaps because it has been seen as begging, and also because children are not allowed to buy fireworks. In addition there are concerns that children might misuse the money. And another reason might be that Halloween is becoming more popular and replacing Guy Fawkes Night in many British communities.

In Britain, there are several foods that are traditionally consumed on Bonfire Night:
Bangers and mash
Black treacle goods such as bonfire toffee
Toffee apples
Baked potatoes which are wrapped in aluminium foil and cooked in the bonfire or its embers
Black peas with vinegar
Potato pie with pickled red cabbage

Check out for an easy recipe for Guy Fawkes Night Chocolate Sparklers

Guy Fawkes Night Crime Fiction

The Wrong Boy by Cathy Ace (January 2019)
Murder on  Bonfire Night by Margaret Addison
Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie
The Powder Treason by Michael Dax
Gunpowder Plot by Carola Dunn
Bryant & May and the Burning Man by Christopher Fowler
V is for Vendetta by Alan Moore
A Demon in My View by Ruth Rendell
The Desperate Remedy: Henry Gresham and the Gunpowder Plot by Martin Stephen
The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons
A Fearsome Doubt by Charles Todd 
The Mystery of Mr. Mock (aka The Corpse with the Floating Foot) by R.A. J Walling

Any titles missing? Let me know, so I can add to the list.

Cartoon of the Day: The Many Faces of the Novel


Thursday, November 4, 2021

2021 PETRONA AWARD for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year

Winner of 2021 Petrona Award announced – a first win for Historical Crime

The winner of the 2021 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year:

TO COOK A BEAR by Mikael Niemi, translated from the Swedish by Deborah Bragan-Turner and published by MacLehose Press.

As well as a trophy, Mikael Niemi receives a pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2022. Mikael Niemi and Deborah Bragan-Turner will also receive a cash prize.

The judges’ statement on TO COOK A BEAR:

The judges adored TO COOK A BEAR, a historical crime novel set in northernmost Sweden in 1852, and were unanimous in our decision to select it as the Petrona Award winner for 2021. We were particularly impressed with the novel’s use of historical detail, its fascinating reimagining of a figure from history, the sense of location and atmosphere, the rumination on religion versus the natural world, and the depiction of early forensics. TO COOK A BEAR’s superb characterisation of the main protagonists Læstadius and Jussi, which is tinged with sadness yet hope, also allows the author to explore the issues of literacy and class with sensitivity and compassion. The beautiful translation by Deborah Bragan-Turner lets the novel shine for English-language readers around the world.

TO COOK A BEAR is the first historical crime novel to win the Petrona Award.

Comments from the winning author, translator and publisher:

Mikael Niemi (author):

I am very proud and happy to have received the Petrona Award and would like to thank my editor, Katharina Bielenberg, my translator Deborah Bragan-Turner, and my agency, Hedlund Literary Agency, who have made it possible for this novel to reach British readers. This happy news has brightened the growing winter darkness here in the very north of Scandinavia. I am sending my warmest thanks to all my British readers. 

Deborah Bragan-Turner (translator):

I am absolutely thrilled and very honoured to receive the Petrona Award. It’s a great privilege to be in the company of such accomplished authors and translators on the shortlist. Many congratulations to you all. Thank you to MacLehose Press for your support and editorial advice, and to the panel of judges for your championing of and enthusiasm for Scandinavian fiction in translation. And of course thank you most of all, Mikael Niemi, for bringing the story of Jussi and the pastor to us in TO COOK A BEAR, an inspired novel and a joy to translate.

The 2021 Petrona Award Shortlist:

A NECESSARY DEATH by Anne Holt, tr. Anne Bruce (Corvus; Norway)

DEATH DESERVED by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, tr. Anne Bruce (Orenda Books; Norway)

THE SECRET LIFE OF MR. ROOS by Håkan Nesser, tr. Sarah Death (Mantle; Sweden)

TO COOK A BEAR by Mikael Niemi, tr. Deborah Bragan-Turner (MacLehose Press; Sweden)

THE SEVEN DOORS by Agnes Ravatn, tr. Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books; Norway

GALLOWS ROCK by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland)


This is the ninth year of the Petrona Award. Previous winners of the Petrona Award are Liza Marklund for LAST WILL, translated by Neil Smith, LINDA, AS IN THE LINDA MURDER by Leif G.W. Persson, also translated by Neil Smith, THE SILENCE OF THE SEA by Yrsa Sigurđardóttir, translated by Victoria Cribb, THE CAVEMAN by Jørn Lier Horst, translated by Anne Bruce, WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett, QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles, THE KATHARINA CODE by Jørn Lier Horst, translated by Anne Bruce and LITTLE SIBERIA by Antti Tuomainen, translated by David Hackston.