Sunday, July 31, 2022

McDonald & Dodds Season 3

I really enjoyed the first two seasons of McDonald & Dodds, starring Jason Watkins and Tala Gouveia as DS Dodds and DCI  Lauren McDonald, and I have been waiting impatiently for Season 3. Well, the wait is over.  McDonald & Dodds will air all three episodes of Season 3 in the U.S. on BritBox, starting on August 16, with an episode a week. (4 Episodes in the U.K, that include the final episode of Season 2 that did not air there previously).  Seasons 1 & 2 are still available on BritBox.

I really love this series for the mismatched detectives, the scenes of beautiful Bath, England, and the interesting cases and mystery, not to mention the fine acting. Lighter fare, certainly, but a welcome addition to UK mystery series.

No word on Series 4 at this time.

Friday, July 29, 2022


Beyond Paradise: Death in Paradise Spin-Off 

From Deadline:

The BBC and BritBox have commissioned a spin-off of BBC drama favorite Death in Paradisewith Kris Marshall’s DI Humphrey Goodman character making a return in the UK.

Marshall played the lead role in the show’s third-to-sixth season before being replaced by Ardal O’Hanlon and Beyond Paradise will spotlight his return to being a DI in his home nation. Beyond Paradise will be distributed internationally by BBC Studios and be available in all Britbox international markets outside of Australia.

Beyond Paradise will be on BBC1 in the UK and BritBox in the US in 2023. 

Humphrey was last seen finding love with Martha. Martha left Saint Marie, leaving Humphrey devastated. But Humphrey then returned to London and declared he'd move to be with her. And that appeared to be the end of the story. However, in Beyond Paradise we find the pair living together in rural Britain. Martha is now his fiancee and Humphrey is hoping for a quieter life. He has a new DI job, but surprise surprise his new hometown has a very high murder rate! 

Speaking to Digital Spy, Kris said that the show will be exactly what the fans will be hoping for, but that it will have its own "unique" feel. He explained that the show will: "follow on [from] Humphrey and Martha's storyline, from when he left Death in Paradise and Saint-Marie, and their rural life back in rural England, adding "Of course, being Humphrey, he's brilliant but you know... he's a slightly odd gentleman." 

He continued: "I can't really say much about what happens, but what it is about the scripts that I really love, Tony Jordan's done a beautiful job on the two or three scripts I've seen. It's exactly what you hope for in terms of if you're a fan of Death in Paradise. Obviously, it's not in the Caribbean, but it's in its own paradise. It's got its own new twist on it. "What's really lovely is everything about the new scripts are brand new, and yet they sort of remain... it's a juxtaposition really of having what you're used to and what we really love about Death in Paradise, but having a new spin on it. 

I think it's really unique and like a comfy blanket as well. I think it's going to be, I hope Death in Paradise fans are going to take to it straight away", he said. 

Various news sources report that many of the characters from Death in Paradise will make cameo appearances. I can't wait.

Thursday, July 28, 2022


Mystery Author Stuart Woods: R.I.P.

From the Washington Post:

Stuart Woods, an author of more than 90 novels, many featuring the character of lawyer-investigator Stone Barrington, has died. He was 84.

Woods passed away in his sleep on Friday, July 22, at his home in Litchfield County, Connecticut, his publicist, Katie Grinch, said Wednesday.

Woods, a graduate of the University of Georgia in his home state, moved to New York in 1960 to pursue a career in journalism. He ended up instead with a career in advertising and eventually moved to London and then to Galway, Ireland, where he discovered sailing.

His first book, Blue Water, Green Skipper, was a non-fiction account of his 1976 adventure competing in the the Observer Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race, which began in Plymouth, England, and ended in Newport, Rhode Island.

After W.W. Norton & Company acquired the American rights to the book, it also agreed to publish Woods’ first novel.

That book, 1981’s Chiefs, about three generations of lawmen and the murder of a teenager in a small southern town, won literary awards and was made into a CBS miniseries starring Charlton Heston, Danny Glover, Billy Dee Williams and John Goodman.

The book’s success launched Woods’ prolific career as a novelist that saw him write five books a year for G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Read more here

Cartoon of the Day: Writer's Life

Monday, July 25, 2022


The Macavity Award Nominees 2022
(for works published in 2021)

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends of MRI. The winners will be announced at opening ceremonies at the Minneapolis Bouchercon

Congratulations to all.

If you're a member of MRI, a subscriber to MRJ, or a friend of MRI, you will receive a ballot later this week, so get reading. Ballots will be due by August 15.





The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Co.) 


Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Flatiron Books) 


1979 by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly) 


Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks (World Noir)


We Begin at the End, Chris Whitaker (Henry Holt) 


Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)





Who is Maude Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown) 


Girl A, Abigail Dean (Viking)


Deer Season by Erin Flanagan (University of Nebraska Press)


Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley)


All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris (William Morrow)





“Lucky Thirteen,” by Tracy Clark (Midnight Hour, Crooked Lane Books)


“Sweeps Week,” by Richard Helms (EQMM, July/August 2021)


“Curious Incidents,” by Steve Hockensmith (EQMM, January/February 2021)


“The Road to Hana,” by R.T. Lawton (AHMM, May/June 2021)


“The White Star,” by G.M. Malliet (EQMM, July/August 2021)


“The Locked Room Library,” by Gigi Pandian (EQMM, July/August 2021)


Julius Katz and the Two Cousins,” by Dave Zeltserman (EQMM, July/August 2021) 



Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge (HarperCollins)


How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America edited by Lee Child with Laurie R. King (Scribner)


The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most 

Remarkable Escape in History by Margalit Fox (Random House)


The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene by Richard Greene (W.W. Norton) 


Tony Hillerman: A Life by James McGrath Morris (University of Oklahoma) 


The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science by John Tresch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 


The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White (W.W. Norton)




The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union)


Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime) 


The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam)


The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)


Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey) 


Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (William Morrow)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

Mick Herron’s Slough House (John Murray) won the 2022 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. It was  announced last night during the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England.

Also nominated were The Night Hawks, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus); True Crime Story, by Joseph Knox (Penguin); Daughters of Night, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Pan); Midnight at Malabar House, by Vaseem Khan (Hodder Paperbacks); and The Last Thing to Burn, by Will Dean (Hodder Paperbacks).

Michael Connelly was presented with the 2022 Theakston Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Authors and their Cats: Barbara Pym

Happy Caturday. Authors and their Cats: Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym is one of my favorite authors, one of those writers whose books I reread every few years. Many of the 'distressed gentlewomen' in her books have cats.

Read more about Barbara Pym here.

Friday, July 22, 2022

MAGPIE MURDERS: Air Date and Trailer!

At last there's a date for Magpie Murders, based on the Anthony Horowitz novel

Magpie Murders

A dead mystery author. An incomplete manuscript. Suspects galore. This juicy setup for Anthony Horowitz’s (Foyle’s War) bestselling novel, Magpie Murders, is coming to MASTERPIECE in an adaptation by Horowitz himself starring Academy Award®-nominee Lesley Manville (The CrownPhantom Thread). Magpie Murders airs in six spellbinding episodes, Sundays, October 16 – November 20, 2022 at 9/8c on PBS.

Magpie Murders: Program Description
A mystery author dies under suspicious circumstance, with his last book seemingly unfinished. This leaves two mysteries: What happened to him? And how does his latest potboiler end? Lesley Manville (The CrownPhantom Thread) stars as the author’s editor, Susan Ryeland, who assumes the role of detective in the case. Meanwhile, Tim McMullan (Patrick Melrose) plays the fictional sleuth in the incomplete novel, whose investigation parallels Susan’s. Based on Anthony Horowitz’s (Foyle’s War)  bestselling novel, the six-part series also stars Conleth Hill, Michael Maloney, Alexandros Logothetis, and Claire Rushbrook. “There is true satisfaction in watching the pieces of Horowitz’s puzzle click into place,” applauded The Telegraph (London). In addition, The Sunday Times (London) declared, “Yikes, this is excellent.”

Monday, July 18, 2022

ART OF POETRY LEADS TO MYSTERY: Guest Post by Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower: Art of Poetry Leads to Mystery

I’m a good writer, but a terrible poet. It’s true, I have taken countless writing courses over my schooling and even as an adult, and I always dreaded the poetry units. Even though I can write a beautiful line now and again, poetry is not my gift as a writer. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. In fact, the art of poetry has inspired several of my novels, and I know that it will have a huge impact on my career in the future. But it won’t be the poetry I write.

My appreciation of poetry all started with Emily Dickinson. I fell in love with Dickinson when I was a teenager sitting in my American Literature class. I guess as a day-dreamy fifteen-year-old, I was fascinated with her writing about nature, life, and death. She struck the right notes with me at the time and has stuck with me as my preferences for literature have changed over the years

Twenty years later, my first novel featuring Dickinson released. Crime and Poetry was the first book in the Magical Bookshop Mysteries. In the novel, the protagonist solves a murder that takes place in a small village near Niagara Falls, New York with the poems of Dickinson. It was my chance to share everything I knew of Dickinson after years of study but allowed me to remain within the safety of my wheelhouse as a writer, which is writing contemporary cozy mysteries. The cozy subgenre is my first love as a writer, and I will always write them, but after writing Crime and Poetry and the subsequent books in the series that used the works of other famous nineteenth century writers, such as Alcott, Poe, Whitman, and Thoreau, I had the itch to write something deeper about Dickinson. This desire eventually led to Because I Could Not Stop for Death, my first historical mystery that features Dickinson as the sleuth.

Going into the book, I knew a lot of Dickinson, but what I discovered was there was so much to learn. The biggest surprise for me was discovering that Dickinson traveled to Washington DC in 1855 to visit her father who was finishing his term in the House of Representatives. The fact was so contrary to the typical image of Dickinson, which was a woman in white bent over a desk writing day and night. I knew this historical event had to be a cornerstone of the plot.

I was a librarian for fifteen years, and being a librarian in this case was an advantage and a disadvantage. As an advantage, I knew how to research efficiently and effectively. I also knew that if I wasn’t able to find something I needed, another librarian somewhere most likely could. As a disadvantage, I knew that I would never been able to know and digest everything known about Emily Dickinson, and I would have to force myself to stop researching at a point and actually write the book. That does not come natural to a librarian. Every librarian will tell you that she had researched a reference question more than once long after the patron was gone.

However, I finally stopped the research and wrote the novel, and I’m thrilled with the final result. It was my hardest book to write and the one I’m most proud of. Because I Could Not Stop for Death releases on September 20th, and I think on that day my appreciation for poetry will come full circle. Even though I already knew at the age of fifteen that I wanted to be a mystery novelist, there was no way that girl sitting in the classroom could have imagined what an impact Emily Dickinson would have on her life.


Amanda Flower is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author of over forty mystery novels. Her novels have received starred reviews from Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Romantic Times, and she had been featured in USA Today, First for Women, and Woman’s World. In addition to being a writer, she was a librarian for fifteen years. Today, Flower and her husband own a farm and recording studio, and they live in Northeast Ohio with their adorable cats.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Authors & their Cats: Marge Piercy

Meredith Phillips suggested a post about author Marge Piercy for my Caturday feature: Authors and their Cats here on Mystery Fanfare. Great suggestion!

Here are a few photos of Marge Piercy with her Cats and some information on her memoir Sleeping with Cats. Just an FYI, the memoir is not all about cats. It's a wonderful read.

ABOUT SLEEPING WITH CATS: Marge Piercy, a writer who is highly praised as both a poet and a novelist, turns her gaze inward as she shares her thoughts on life and explores her development as a woman and writer. She pays tribute to the one loving constant that has offered her comfort and meaning even as the faces and events in her life have changed — her beloved cats.


THE CAT'S SONG by Marge Piercy

arge Piercy has written 17 novels including Gone To Soldiers; Braided Lives and The Longings of Women; the classics Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She and It; and most recently Sex Wars. Among her 19 volumes of poetry the most recently published include The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems 1980-2010, and Made in DetroitHer critically acclaimed memoir is Sleeping with Cats. 

Born in center city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan and Northwestern, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she is active in antiwar, feminist and environmental causes.A popular speaker on college campuses, she has been a featured writer on Bill Moyers’ PBS Specials, Prairie Home Companion, Fresh Air, the Today Show, and many radio programs nationwide including Air America and Oprah & Friends. Her poems are read frequently on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. Praised as one of the few American writers who are accomplished poets as well as novelists — Piercy is one of our country's best selling poets — she is also the master of many genres: historical novels, science fiction (He, She, and It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction in the United Kingdom), novels of social comment and contemporary entertainments. She has taught, lectured and/or performed her work at well over 400 universities around the world.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

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 12, 2022


J.L. Abramo: True Crime: Naviating Research Roadblocks

On January 30, 2003, an article in a daily newspaper caught my eye. The piece reported the arrest of a 69-year-old man at his home just miles from where I lived at the time in Columbia, South Carolina.

   Ten years earlier, in a box of used books purchased at a yard sale, I came across a book by a prison inmate—written while he awaited execution. 

   Those two discoveries stimulated my interest and imagination, and subsequent investigations have led me here. 

   Homeland Insecurity, on one hand, is the story of two men accused of taking the lives of three fellow human beings. 

   A fifteen-year-old schoolgirl in Mahwah, New Jersey.

   And two young police officers in El Segundo, California.

   Two killers born 8 days apart in 1934. 

   Two men who died 57 days apart in 2017. 

   Crimes committed 140 days apart in 1957. 

   At a time when Americans were beginning to feel less and less confident about the safety of their families. 

   One convicted murderer spent nearly fifteen years on death row at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton—where he continually professed his innocence. 

   The other perpetrator escaped identification for more than 45 years.

   At the same time, Homeland Insecurity is an account of the hits and misses of the law enforcement agencies and legal institutions which—over the course of nearly five decades—eventually stumbled upon justice. 

   Finally, it is a look at the post-World War II American experience leading up to the murders in 1957, and the profound changes to come after. 

   When Rock & Roll, rebels without a cause, and catchers in the rye burst upon the American scene. 

   When the fear of nuclear annihilation and real-life scary monsters crept into the national consciousness. 

   And when those three murders in 1957, and a growing sense of national insecurity, may have had mutual effect.

   In researching the murder of Victoria Zielinski in March of 1957, I ran into a number of roadblocks. My interest was originally stimulated by the 1968 book, Brief Against Deathwritten by eleventh-year death row inmate, Edgar Smith. The book described the crime, his arrest, arraignment, indictment, trial and conviction—posed questions about the jury’s guilty verdict—and gained Smith a powerful advocate, William F. Buckley Jr.

   Research on the crime and its immediate aftermath relied heavily on Smith’s accounts (taken with a grain of salt and held up to scrutiny by other sources)— media and police reports from the time of the murder—and on trial transcripts.

   It wasn’t until after Smith’s discharge from prison after nearly fifteen years that he wrote a follow-up book, Getting Out, describing subsequent events—and the many appeals to state and federal courts, and to the Supreme Court, which ultimately led to his freedom in 1972.  It took me quite some time to locate a copy of Getting Out, and much longer to learn of Smith’s fate after his release.


   I navigated around that roadblock by writing to William F. Buckley in 1995. Buckley graciously responded to my inquiry with a somewhat shocking update on Edgar Smith—he was back in prison, this time in California.



   It was another five years before, with the help of an attorney acquaintance in California, I discovered the whereabouts of Edgar Smith. I wrote him a letter in 2000. He kindly replied—but apologized for not agreeing to meet me for an interview.



   After numerous denied parole appeals, Edgar Smith passed away in 1917 at the age of 83—after spending all but four of his final 60 years behind prison walls.


J.L. Abramo is the Shamus Award-winning author of ten novels and numerous short stories. Homeland Insecurity is his first full-length work of nonfiction. For more on the author, please visit


Sunday, July 10, 2022


British Crime Writer Susie Steiner: R.I.P. 

From the NYT: 

Susie Steiner, the author of the critically acclaimed Manon Bradshaw detective novels, who was declared legally blind from a rare disease months before she sold her first book, died on July 2 in London. She was 51.

Her death, in a hospital, was caused by sepsis and a brain tumor, her husband, Tom Happold, said.

While Ms. Steiner’s run as a detective writer lasted only four years and three books, starting with Missing, Presumed in 2016, her impact was substantial, Sarah Ballard, her London-based agent, said. The book became a best seller in her native Britain and sold some 700,000 copies worldwide.

“Susie had an incredible instinct for people, both on the page and in person,” Ms. Ballard wrote in an email. “I’ve lost track of the number of jackets designed to look like hers, and the number of publishers, scouts and film companies who’ve used her name to describe a genre of writing they want: They mean literary crime, with a compelling plot, an elegance and wit in the writing, combined with a depth of perception about human nature which leaves you feeling deeply satisfied.”

Missing, Presumed was the first of three novels centered on Manon Bradshaw, a police detective in Cambridge “whose personal life was almost as much of a mess as the cases she was investigating, but who you couldn’t help rooting for and falling in love with,” Andrea Walker, who published the book in the United States for Random House, wrote in an email.

The New York Times Book Review listed the novel, which told the story of Manon’s search for a missing Cambridge postgraduate student, as an Editors’ Choice book. The Wall Street Journal anointed it one of the best mysteries of 2016.

Reviewing the book in The Times, Alida Becker praised Ms. Steiner’s nuanced portrayal of her lead character: “Manon is portrayed with an irresistible blend of sympathy and snark. By the time she hits bottom, professionally and privately, we’re entirely caught up in her story.”

When one online reviewer dismissed the book as a cross between Bridget Jones and Agatha Christie, Ms. Steiner took it as a compliment.“What if she has gone to a publisher with that as a pitch?” Mr. Happold asked. “How could it not have succeeded?