Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

THE ZELIG PROBLEM: Guest Post by James R. Benn

JAMES R. BENN: The Zelig Problem

Remember Zelig, Woody Allen’s 1983 mockumentary film? Allen plays Leonard Zelig, a 1930s guy who just wants to fit in. Chameleon-like, he adopts the characteristics of people he meets. His skin color changes, his body size alters, and he easily adopts other people’s points of view. When he encounters Nazis, he becomes a brownshirt, and when he chats with an obese fellow, he instantly gains two hundred pounds. Zelig’s ability to mimic those around him brings him into contact with historical figures such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Lou Gehrig, Adolf Hitler, Al Capone, and many others. 

I often think of Leonard Zelig as I write the Billy Boyle mysteries, since Billy and Leonard share some similarities. Zelig, through his adaptability, has an easy time of it when it comes to meeting famous people. Billy, in his role as General Eisenhower’s special investigator, also finds himself close to important people as well as climactic events. He’s hobnobbed with the King of Norway, Winston Churchill, Pope Pius XII, Ernest Hemingway, Sterling Hayden, Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Audie Murphy, Kim Philby, and other heroes and villains of the Second World War.

Zelig was a film built around a protagonist who crept into the lives of famous people. That was his superpower. But it’s trickier in a historical mystery series in which the whole idea is to place the protagonist amid vital events and important people. Why?

Because, if you think about it, it doesn’t really add up, does it? How could Billy Boyle, over the course of a little more than two years, find himself at the center of so many chapters in the history of the Second World War? Even with the Supreme Commander deciding where to send him next, it strains credulity. 

That’s my challenge – to have the reader not think about it. Each plot point, whether it’s the IRA stealing weapons or a double murder at a Soviet airbase, must provide access, via a conceptual side door, to the events and people I want to explore and illuminate. When Billy Boyle journeyed to the South Pacific in The White Ghost, it was because I wanted to delve into the personality of Jack Kennedy at the time of his PT 109 experience. But I had to avoid the trap of coming across like some of my favorite books as a child.

Anyone remember the We Were There series, published during the 1950s? Over thirty titles featured the retelling of historical events through the eyes of children as primary characters. We Were There On The Oregon TrailWe Were There at the Battle of the Bulge, and so on. I loved those books, and perhaps the seed of the Billy Boyle series was planted there, but I can’t put him center stage the way those kids were.

It's important for Billy to act as the observer when it comes to historical characters. Even as he works his Zelig magic, he can’t be the primary mover of actual events. When he visits Jack Kennedy on Tulagi during a murder investigation, the future president is recovering from his shipwreck ordeal. During Billy’s search for a killer, the story of Kennedy, his crew, and the sinking of PT 109 is revealed. I could have had the murder take place before the PT boat disaster, and perhaps have ginned up some reason for Billy to be on board. But that’s too much Zelig. And it’s stealing the story from the characters who are all real people.

Some events are simply too huge to wrap a story around. The Normandy invasion was one. I’d tried to work out how D-Day could form the basis of a plot, but I gave up and had Billy literally fly over the invasion fleet on his way to a clandestine rendezvous behind the lines in Blue Madonna:


Below us, ships filled the Channel. To the far horizon, wakes churned the inky water as vessels of every size departed English ports and made for the French coastline. Moonlight rippled across the waves, shimmering slivers of silver in the night. I glanced at the luminous dial on my watch. Forty minutes past midnight. It was the sixth of June. 


The biggest challenge, in terms of keeping Billy from hogging center stage, came with the latest novel, From The Shadows. I’d long wanted to write about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit made of Nisei (Japanese American citizens) whose families were incarcerated in relocation camps due to racial hatred. 

I found my hook for the plot when I discovered how they were treated by a general in southern France. The Nisei were attached to a division whose commanding officer had gotten a battalion surrounded through his own ineptitude. He sent in the 442nd to rescue them, with little regard for their lives. They prevailed, but at a terrible cost.

Billy is in the area on a case. Two members of the French Resistance are serving as scouts with the trapped battalion. These two men are witnesses to the murder he’s investigating, and he’s there to bring them out safely. But he can only go so far:


There was no bayonet charge, no shouting, no grand gestures, just a wave of men swallowed by the forest, firing from the hip, killing Germans and being killed. I gripped my Thompson and took a step toward the struggle.

“No, Billy,” Kaz said, his hand on my shoulder. “This is not our fight. If we were to be killed, even if the scouts survive, we would have failed everyone.”

“You don’t have to go with me,” I said, my eyes on the Nisei disappearing into the smoke and dense woods.

“You know I would not let you go into that alone,” Kaz said.

I dropped back a foot. He was right. About it all. If I went, Kaz would be at my side. In my heart, I knew we weren’t here for a valiant last charge. Our job was to wait and salvage what we

could of our mission if the scouts were left alive.

And my heart also knew I’d never forget the moment I watched those men advance into hell’s open, gaping jaws.


            Exactly the right amount of Zelig.


James R. Benn is the Dilys, Barry, and Sue Feder Historical Mystery award nominated author of the Billy Boyle WWII mysteries and other novels. He lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and muse, Deborah Mandel.

Monday, August 29, 2022

The 2022 Ngaio Marsh Award Finalists for Best Novel and Best First Novel

The 2022 Ngaio Marsh Award Finalists for for Best Novel and Best First Novel  

The shortlists were determined by an international judging panel of crime and thriller writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.  

Best Novel Finalists

Best First Novel Finalists

The winners will be announced at a special event. More info to come.


For more information on the Ngaio Marsh Awards, please contact founder and judging convenor Craig Sisterson,  


MAP BACK MONDAYS: The Philadelphia Murder Story by Leslie Ford

Today,  I'm reviving my feature: Map Back Monday! I've been collecting the iconic Dell Map Backs for years. A few years ago, my siste-in-law sent me my late brother-in-law's collection. Stan always said he was going to send them to me, but never got around to it. Well, he was a collector like me, so I'm sure it was hard to part with any books. I sent him some of my dupes, so maybe they've come to roost. My weekly postings will be in no particular order. 

Dell Map Books were printed in the 1940s and 50s, and they were something really special! They were great paperbacks, not only for the books themselves, but for the sturdy laminated covers that also had maps of the scene of the crime on the back! How cool is that? Most of my Dell Map Backs are mysteries, but I think I saw a romance in Stan's collection, so I may post that cover at some time. This will be a discovery for me, as well.

So to begin my 2022 Map Back Mondays, here's the cover and map back from Leslie Ford's The Philadelphia Murder Story (January 1945). I'm from Philadelphia, so I'm drawn to anything Philly! The Map Back features lots of my haunts--well maybe not the Police Station. And the mystery is a bibliomystery, a favorite theme.


"The Death of an Author Upsets Society and The SatEvePost in "the Philadelphia Murder Story"  

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Cartoon of the Day: The Giving Cat

Authors & their Cats: Patricia Highsmith

 Happy Caturday!

Authors & their Cats: Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train, didn’t have a reputation that gave people the warm fuzzies, but her gruff personality seemed to soften around her cats. She seemed to prefer them to humans. “My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people,” Highsmith once said. Still, she always looked to her pet to tackle the day head-on. “When I get up in the morning, I first of all make the coffee and then I say to my cat, we’re going to have a great day,” the author told Naim Attallah in an interview.

Highsmith shared her life with many cats, including her chocolate point Siamese named Semyon (who loved to chase his tail), Sammy, Spider, Charlotte (who wouldn’t stop crying when Highsmith passed away), and an unnamed “brindle cat” she got for her birthday. Spider was eventually given to Scottish author Muriel Spark who said, “You could tell he had been a writer’s cat. He would sit by me, seriously, as I wrote, while all my other cats filtered away.”

Dogs never seemed to make it very far in a Highsmith novel, but cats always survived. Highsmith was also known to sketch her cats, despite spending most of her time with them curled around her typewriter. When asked what she always dreamt of having in life, Highsmith responded: “A charming two-story house, good martinis and a good dinner with French wine ... a wife, and books and a Siamese cat.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Mystery Readers Journal: Art Mysteries (38:3) Fall 2022

Mystery Readers Journal: Art Mysteries
(Volume 38:3// Summer 2022) is now available as PDF and Hardcopy.
This is the biggest issue we've ever published. It runs 116 pages. Two earlier issues of Art Mysteries are available as PDF downloads. Art Mysteries I (21:1: 2005) and Art Mysteries II (21:2: 2005). Order all three. 

Art MysteriesIf you're a PDF subscriber, you should have received download instructions (let me know if you didn't). Hard copy subscription copies should arrive by early next week. International subscribers will receive their issues within two weeks. PDF Contributor copies will go out this weekend. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this amazing issue.

Art Mysteries
Volume 38, No. 3, Fall 2022

Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.



  • Why I Write Art Mysteries by Jennifer S. Alderson
  • Art: A Criminal Passion by Ann Aptaker
  • When My Art Became Fiction by Anne Louise Bannon
  • Art Mysteries— from Nazi-Looted Art to Antiquities Trafficking by S.L. Beaumont
  • The Collector: Passion or Obsession? by Connie Berry
  • The Mystery of Real Desire by Rona Bell
  • Deepening the Mystery by Juliet Blackwell
  • The Sinister Attractions of the Art World? by Ruth Brandon
  • The Beauty of Holiness/The Holiness of Beauty by Kate Charles
  • The Fascination With Art & Art Mysteries by Rich DiSilvio
  • Folk and Outsider Art, and Scandal Mountain Mysteries by Trish Esden
  • The Power of Art by Laurie Fagen
  • My Love Affair with Vermeer by Susan Fleet
  • The Mystery of Art by Vinnie Hansen
  • A Deadly Art by Betty Hechtman
  • Inspiration from the Art Museum by Russell Hill
  • When Art Meets Crime by Stephanie Kane
  • The Mystery of the Misplaced Mona Lisa by Ron Katz
  • Art Will Have Its Way by J K Kennedy
  • Art and Crime Down Under by Katherine Kovacic
  • Light as a Sidekick by Kathryn Lasky
  • Telling the Stories I See (and the Joys of Research) by Joan Leotta
  • Small, Tender Art by Claudia Long
  • Art Appreciation—a Dangerous Business by Adrian Magson
  • Research in the Days of Covid by Peter May
  • Our Art Adventures by Rosemary and Larry Mild
  • Searching for Mona Lisa by Carson Morton
  • Write Like an Artist by Radine Trees Nehring
  • Art, Then Mysteries by KC Nelms
  • Why I Was Inspired to Write Art Heist Novels by Carol Orange
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Was My Co-Author by Mike Orenduff
  • My Writing Forays into the Art World by Dale T. Phillips
  • Ekphrastic Fiction by Neil S. Plakcy
  • Plotting a Killer Inside Job by Martha Reed
  • Mixed Media: Art, Crime, and Romance by Claudia Riess
  • What If You Found a Florida Highwayman Painting? by Laura Kelly Robb
  • Art Thrillers and Me: My Love/Hate Affair by Jonathan Santlofer
  • Samuel Craddock’s Art Collection by Terry Shames
  • When the Hammer Falls by Susan C. Shea
  • The World’s Biggest Art Heist by Nancy Cole Silverman
  • Ten Clues for Art and Writing by Sue Star
  • Art…Beauty…Poison by Nina Wachsman
  • Art Cops and Weeds by David Wagner
  • Walking and Talking: Bringing Art and Artists to Life by Alana White
  • Who Tried to Kill France’s First Painter? by Judy Willmore

  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Jay Gertzman, Aubrey Hamilton, Lesa Holstine, Joan Ramirez, Kathy Boone Reel, L.J. Roberts, Lucinda Surber, Benjamin L. Clark
  • Children’s Hour: Art Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Art and the Mystery by Marv Lachman
  • Real Art Crimes by Cathy Pickens
  • Crime Seen: Moving Pictures by Kate Derie
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fact or Fiction? A journalist’s background brings authenticity to All the Broken Girls: Guest Post by LINDA HURTADO BOND

LINDA HURTADO BOND: What’s fiction? What’s fact? How a journalist’s unique background brought authenticity to All the Broken Girls and her other novels

I started writing fiction in high school, long before I decided to become a journalist. Although I walked the halls of my school with a notebook and pencil in my hands, I wasn’t sure being an author was actually a job I could get once out of college. So, I decided to make journalism my major. I loved to write. I loved to learn interesting details of someone’s personal story. I loved to take a front seat to the action making history. And I loved the pressure of working under a deadline.  


My career as a journalist allowed me to travel to Cuba for the historic meeting of Pope John Paul II and Fidel Castro. While reporting the personal story of one Tampa family, I met my husband. The priest who led the group to Cuba later married us. I had a front seat to the last shuttle flight from Cape Canaveral. I reported about the hot scene of a race riot, had sand blasting my face during live shots in hurricanes, and I’ve flown an F-16 with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. Despite a thrilling and satisfying career reporting real stories, I never lost the desire to make more stories up and to give life to the characters that often started talking in my head. It was only natural that when I decided to get serious about writing fiction, I made my main characters reporters. I knew I could breathe authenticity into words and actions. I understand the logistics in a newsroom, the working relationships between reporters and photographers and, of course, the often-complicated relationship between employee and boss. I have worked with sources, broken stories, and tried to solve mysteries. So why not write about that


My first three books were romantic suspense stories. A reporter goes out on assignment, stumbles on an even bigger mystery, runs into obstacles, but eventually falls in love while solving the case. Think James Bond movies on the page. I enjoyed weaving together enemy-to-lovers romantic tropes with the action and gripping twists of a true thriller. I even managed to incorporate that F-16 flight with the Thunderbirds into my first novel, Alive at 5Cuba Undercover’s hero is modeled after my husband. My day job and night job often cross over


Then my publisher came to me and asked if I could write a true thriller, one featuring a strong, but flawed, female character and a diabolical, but not stereotypical, serial killer? I love a good challenge and immediately said yes. 


Thus began the journey of writing All the Broken Girls. I decided to focus on a Cuban American crime reporter named Mari Alvarez who is on a personal hunt for a killer who leaves a broken doll at every scene. She's about to become the killer's prey and she'll need more than the azabache charm her Abuela Bonita insists will protect her from evil. Rational homicide detective Tony Garcia needs more than a superstitious journalist's hunch there's a serial killer lying in wait in their West Tampa neighborhood. He needs proof. Working against the clock, Mari and Tony explore a hidden, Old World Cuban religion to break the case of all the broken girls.


Not only did I draw on my own experiences at crime scenes to write this book — which centers around clues dropped by a serial killer — but I also used my resources for research. For questions on law enforcement protocol and dialogue for my homicide detective, I reached out to the public information officer at the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. Carrie Horstman knew me as a local TV news anchor, and I believe that played a part in her being willing to read my book and look for what might be a factual error, like wearing a gun on your day off with or without the badge showing. Details like that are important because your readers may include members of law enforcement, and they’ll respect you if you took the time to get it right. 


I also solicited the help of a professor of religion at the University of South Florida. Tori Lockler helped me fact check specifics on Santeria. Raising a family in the Cuban American culture, I knew about prayers and saints and the black azabache charm mothers often wrapped around their baby’s wrist. But I needed to authenticate the details because I do not actually practice the religion myself. Being a journalist gave me credibility when I reached out to Ms. Lockler. 

I also think twenty-five years of fact checking my stories in the TV news world became a habit, and it’s now what I do as a fiction writer, whether it’s needed or not. I think that gives my writing an authenticity that my readers recognize. Because of that, it’s hard to tell sometimes where the facts and fiction divide. In fact, a reader once told me she believed everything in Alive at 5, except that scene where the main character flew in an F-16. How would I possibly be able to write about that? 



By day, Linda Hurtado Bond is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. By night, she’s an author of James Bond like adventures and heart-stopping thrillers. Linda met her husband Jorge on assignment in Cuba, twenty-some years later they've raised a doctor, a nurse, a pilot, a paramedic firefighter, and an aspiring psychologist. A breast cancer survivor, she’s active in the Tampa community raising money and awareness. When not working, she finds time for her passions, her husband Jorge, world travel, classic movies, and solving a good mystery. Visit Linda at 


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

VAN DER VALK, Season 2

Marc Warren reprises his role as Commissaris Piet Van der Valk in the second season of the Amsterdam-set police drama. Maimie McCoy (ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL), Luke Allen-Gale (THE BORGIAS), Elliot Barnes-Worrell (READY PLAYER ONE), Darrell D’Silva (ATLANTA) and Emma Fielding (BRIDGERTON) all return to their respective roles. 

VAN DER VALK, Season 2, airs in three parts on Sundays, September 25 through October 9 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE PBS. 

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs


Monday, August 22, 2022

Michael Malone: R.I.P.

Michael Malone, novelist, TV writer, and Edgar and Emmy winner, died on Friday, August 19, of pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

From Shelf Awareness Pro:

Many of his novels and short stories were set in South, particularly in North Carolina, where he was born and grew up. "Red Clay" won the 1997 Edgar for best short story. Malone was working on the fourth book in his Justin & Cuddy series when he died. Besides being involved in theater and teaching at several universities, Malone wrote for several soap operas, most notably as head writer for One Life to Live from 1991 to 1996. (He won a Writers Guild award and an Emmy in 1994, and was nominated for Emmys in other years.) One of his novels, The Killing Club, was "written" by a character on the show, then published under her and Malone's name.

Most of his books were published by Sourcebooks Landmark. Sourcebooks publisher and CEO Dominique Raccah said in part, "He is the New York Timesbestselling novelist of First Lady and Four Corners of the Sky, among many other beautiful books. He was an extraordinary Southern novelist, award winning mystery writer and celebrated television writer. Personally, of course, he was the first established novelist to believe in Sourcebooks and to allow us to publish him, changing our future forever. He was a warm, kind and generous (and very funny) human being, and well loved in our community. There's so much that one could write about his very big life. We will all miss him."

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

2022 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards

2022 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards. Winners were announced at Killer Nashville.
Thanks, Clay Stafford, for all you do!

Best Action Adventure 
The Pilate Scroll / M.B. Lewis 

Best Attendee Action Adventure 
Killers!: A Natalie McMasters Mystery / Thomas A. Burns, Jr. 

Best Comedy
Big Fat F@K Up/Lawrence Allan

Best Cozy
Suitable for Framing / Lori Roberts Herbst 

Best Attendee Cozy 
Murder in the Master – A Chesapeake Bay Mystery / Judy L Murray 

Best Historical 
After Alice Fell / Kim Taylor Blakemore 

Best Investigator 
Girl Missing / Kate Gable 
Best Attendee Investigator 
10 Days: A Dee Rommel Mystery / Jule Selbo 

Best Juvenile / YA 
Leisha’s Song / Lynn Slaughter 

Best Attendee Juvenile / YA 
Leisha’s Song / Lynn Slaughter 

Best Mystery 
An Ambush of Widows / Jeff Abbot 

Best Attending Mystery 
Bluff/ John De Dakis

Best Nonfiction  
The Home for Friendless Children / C.L. Olsen 

Best Sci-fi / Fantasy 
Tomb of the Queen / Joss Walker 

Best Short Story Collection / Anthology 
House of Crows / Lisa Unger 

Best Southern Gothic 
A Curse of Silver and Blood / Kimberly A Banks 
Best Attendee Southern Gothic
A Curse of Silver and Blood / Kimberly A Banks 

Best Supernatural 
Our Trespasses / Michael Cordell 

Best Suspense 
The Reunion / Kiersten Modglin 

Best Attendee Suspense  
The Next Wife / Kaira Rouda 

Best Thriller 
The General's Briefcase/ Ray Collins

Best Attendee Thriller 
Fallen Star: The Divine Devils Book 2 / R Weir

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Friday, August 19, 2022

FOOD, FUN, AND LITTLE OLD LADIES: Guest Post by Mary Beth Magee

Today is our second installment of Friday Foodies. Mary Beth Magee, author of the LOL4 mysteries and The Cypress Point Chronicles is stopping by with "Food, Fun, and Little Old Ladies." Authors: Want to stop by and join in the fun? Drop a comment below or send me an email. Happy Friday!


As a born-and-raised southerner, I know a little something about food. Mississippi country cooking on my father’s side, New Orleans Sicilian my mother’s side, and a huge cookbook addiction on top of it add up to make food a big deal in my world. At home, at church, at a community event – it doesn’t matter where or why. Food is simply an expression of love and caring. From sit-down Sunday family dinners to after-funeral luncheons and everything in between, we feed folks because we care. 

So naturally my novels feature food! The (LOL)4 Mysteries focus on three senior citizens in Cypress Point, Mississippi, a fictional Pearl River County town. The Bellini sisters–Mercy McKay and Hope Appleton—along with their best friend Susannah Bowles, get into all sorts of situations. They consider themselves “Little Old Ladies, Laughing Out Loud, Living Our Lives with Lots Of Love.” One of the things they love is cooking and feeding guests. Each book features a particular food item in the story and includes the recipe at the end of the book

I’m the sort of cook who starts with a recipe from someone else and then tweaks it to my own taste and that’s exactly what happens with the recipes in my novels. I get an idea for a food item in the plot and start cooking. Once I get the recipe the way I want it, I give it a name relevant to the story. 

Mercy McKay’s Contraband Lemon Blueberry Coffee Loaf made its debut in Death in the Daylilies, my first novel-length mystery. Although the story began with a dead body in a bed of daylilies, the ladies had plenty of time between clues to cook and eat and drink tea. The coffee loaf recipe fit my story perfectly.

I began with a basic pound cake recipe from a very old cookbook and an overabundance of fresh blueberries. Fifteen or so cakes later, the recipe was perfected. No one in the family complained about being test subjects as I baked. That was my first hint I was on the right track!

Some of the action in my second novel, Ambush at the Arboretum, took place at Franconi’s Deli and Pizza Parlor, renowned for its Five Bean Confetti Salad. I doctored up a three-bean salad recipe with two additional varieties of beans and multi-colored bell peppers minced into “confetti,” added olive oil and vinegar and created the Deli’s signature dish. This one has become a real family favorite and heaven forbid there not be a jar of it in the refrigerator when grandkids come to call. There might be another murder to investigate!

I’m leaning toward Grandma Bellini’s Special Marinara Sauce for Blood on the Bottletree, the title currently in the works. My own Sicilian great-grandmother never met a tomato she didn’t want to cook, and I am most definitely her descendant. By adapting one of her recipes and naming it for the Bellini family of the books, I can honor her and share her legacy. And there’s that whole resemblance between blood and marinara, right? Perfect for a mystery.

From a marketing perspective, the recipes provide me with something nonthreatening to give out at book signings. I’ve had passersby tell me, “Oh, I don’t read.” (Doesn’t it just break your heart?) But when I ask if they like to cook, I almost always get a positive answer. If they don’t cook, they have someone in their life who does. And then I’ve got them.

I’ve created recipe cards, one for each of the two books, with the recipe, the book cover, and my website. Somewhere there is a coffee loaf advertising my book and I don’t mind a bit. My goal is to develop enough recipes to create a booklet and eventually a full-blown cookbook. In the meantime, I’m having a great time experimenting in the kitchen.

Franconi’s Five-Bean Confetti Salad

Drain and rinse well:

1-14.5 ounce can green beans

1-14.5 ounce can wax beans

1-15.5 ounce can dark red beans

1-15 ounce can black beans

1-16 ounce can garbanzo beans


Mix well in a large bowl:

1 cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup olive oil

½ cup sugar

Mix until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.


Stir into the liquids:

¾ cup minced bell pepper in a combination of colors: green, red, orange, yellow as available

½ cup minced onion

½ cup diced celery

½ teaspoon dried parsley

¼ teaspoon minced garlic


Mix liquid and seasonings together well. Add in drained beans and stir to mix thoroughly. Refrigerate two hours or more. Stir periodically to redistribute the liquid.

Yield: ½ gallon bean salad

Note: This recipe is a great “make ahead” dish. The longer it marinates, the richer the flavor. Also, the finer the vegetables are minced, the greater the “confetti” effect.


If the olive oil separates and solidifies in the refrigerator, allow the salad to sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes or so. The olive oil will liquefy as it warms. Stir well.


Author/speaker/trainer Mary Beth Magee loves reading, writing, cooking and crafts. Born in New Orleans, LA, she now resides in south Mississippi. She is the author of The (LOL)4 Mysteries and The Cypress Point Chronicles, among others. Visit her website at and sign up for her newsletter with free short stories and bonus materials.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Michael Pearce: R.I.P.

More sad news: Mystery author Michael Pearce has passed away. Details to follow.

Michael Pearce was the author of the Mamur Zapt, the British head of Cairo's Political CID in Cairo, series; the Dimitri Kameron, a lawyer in Kursk, Russia series, and the Sandor Pelczynski Seymour series (A Dead Man in ... series) about a multilingual office with England's Special Branch in the early 1900s. 

His novel The Mamur Zapt and the Spoils of Egypt (1992) won the Crime Writers' Association's Last Laugh Award for funniest crime novel. Death of an Effendi (1999) was shortlisted for the Ellis Peters Award for best historical crime novel.

Cartoon of the Day: Doggie Awards


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

June Thomson: R.I.P.

Sad news from Martin Edwards
. Mystery author June Thomson has passed away.  I had the pleasure of meeting June in England many years ago at a CWA meeting in St. Albans and again at Bouchercon in London. She was very amiable, and I enjoyed chatting with her. She will be missed, but her books live on. If you haven't read her before, start now. Check out Stop You're Killing Me for a complete list of her works.

From Martin Edwards on his blog: 'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?'

June was a former teacher who made a radical but effective change of course during her writing career. She established a considerable reputation with a long series of well-written novels featuring Chief Inspector Jack Finch (who was re-named Rudd in the US, to avoid confusion with another series detective called Finch). Her early books drew comparisons with P.D. James, whose style resembled hers in some ways, and she seemed destined to become an equally prominent figure in the genre. Despite her great success, that never quite happened, and only three more Finch books appeared after 1991, as she began to concentrate her energies more on stories of a very different kind - about Sherlock Holmes. There are countless Holmes pastiches, but June's stories were truly outstanding. 

Having admired her work for a long time (her first novel was published way back in 1971) I was thrilled when June wrote a couple of original short stories - 'Deus Ex Machina' and 'Coming Home' - for anthologies I was editing. To publish her work was both a pleasure and a privilege. She also wrote a terrific biography, Holmes and Watson. I treasure my inscribed copies of her books and I shall miss her.