Monday, August 8, 2022

ANNIKA scheduled for Second Season!

The wonderful detective series Annika has been scheduled for a second season. The second series will see the return of Nicola Walker as DI Annika Strandhed, Jamie Sives as DS Michael McAndrews, Katie Leung as DC Blair Ferguson and Ukweli Roach as DS Tyrone Clarke. Annika’s first series will have its broadcast premiere on MASTERPIECE in the USA on October 16th, although PBS Passport members will have already had the opportunity to watch the entire first season. It's easy to be a PBS Passport member. Just donate $60+ to your local PBS station. 

Nicola Walker said about the series: “We are all looking forward to fighting crime on sea and land with the MHU for a second series and there are secrets closer to home for Annika that will have to be faced. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!” 

Annika follows the sharp, witty and enigmatic DI Annika Strandhed (Walker), as she leads the specialist Marine Homicide Unit (MHU) that is tasked with investigating the unexplained, brutal, and seemingly unfathomable murders that wash up in the waterways of Scotland. Through the series, Annika makes the audience her confidante by breaking the fourth wall and sharing her wry observations on the case and her life, as she manages her brilliant yet unconventional team, and her equally brilliant yet complex teenage daughter. 

MASTERPIECE executive producer Susanne Simpson says, “Nicola Walker absolutely owns the role of Annika, who comes across as smart, eccentric, and funny. She leads an extraordinary cast of characters who make this show unique.” MASTERPIECE is presented on PBS by GBH Boston

The new series will see Annika and her MHU team uncover bodies in Edinburgh, Glasgow and as far as the Hebridean island of Jura, keeping in high literary company with Robert Louis Stevenson, George Orwell and Walter Scott to help solve the cases. Nick Walker, writer/producer, is again at the helm, so this series promises more twisty crimes and grisly reveals while delving into our exciting serial hooks from the first series. 

Can't wait!

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Authors and their Cats: Allen Ginsberg and his cat Howl

Happy Caturday! Continuing the Saturday Feature: Authors & their Cats. Here are two photos of Allen Ginsberg with his cat, Howl!

Thursday, August 4, 2022


The Private Eye Writers of America announced the Shamus Award Winners 2022. The Shamus Awards are for private eye novels and short stories first published in the United States in 2021. PWA’s (Private Eye Writers of America) definition of a Private Eye: a person paid to investigate crimes who is not employed by a government agency. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Best P.I. Hardcover:

Family Business, by S.J. Rozan (Pegasus)

Best Original P.I. Paperback:

Every City Is Every Other City, by John McFetridge (ECW Press)

Best First P.I. Novel:

Lost Little Girl, by Gregory Stout (Level Best)

Best P.I. Short Story:

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


An 'Impertinent' Interview with Lawrence Block

Thanks to the amazing, talented, and prolific Lawrence Block for this "Impertinent" Interview. Enjoy. I did. Be sure and pre-order The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown.



You’re listening to the Impertinent Interviewer, and my guest today is Lawrence Block, author of over 200 books. That’s enough to fill a pretty extensive set of shelves, wouldn’t you say?




Or, more likely, a dozen cartons at a garage sale in a bad neighborhood, eh? Eh? LB is here today in aid of his new book, the latest entry in his Bernie Rhodenbarr series. Could you tell us the title?


It’s called The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown.


And it’s the 13th book in the series, but only the 12th novel. How do you explain that?


The book preceding it, The Burglar in Short Order


Right, never miss a chance to mention a title. Go on.


—is a collection of four Bernie Rhodenbarr short stories, plus some book excerpts that seem to work well on their own, along with a selection of essays and newspaper op-ed pieces that feature Bernie, and—


Why does it sound like the kind of meatloaf you make after you sweep the kitchen floor? Hey, I’m the Impertinent Interviewer. What did you expect when you agreed to come on the program?


Well, I—


That was a rhetorical question, LB. You’re not supposed to answer it. Let’s move right along, shall we? I’m one of the fifteen people in America who actually read The Burglar in Short Order, and it winds up with Bernie explaining exactly why there won’t be any more books. The world has changed, it’s no place for a burglar or a bookseller, and he’s stuck with what he’s got, never getting a day older and no longer able to get anywhere in his two chosen professions. Did I get that right?


Close enough.


And here you are with another book—


The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown.


—and another plug for another title, sheesh, what is it with you? Never mind, don’t answer that. Fredric Brown. Sensational writer, a whole lot better than you, and equally at home in science fiction and mystery. You ever write any SF?


I had a story in a magazine, Science Fiction Stories, in 1959, and it was chosen for Judith Merril’s best-of-the-year collection. And in 1984 Fantasy & Science Fiction ran “The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds.”


Two stories twenty-five years apart. Doesn’t exactly put you up there with Sturgeon and Asimov, does it?


I never said—


Never mind. Fredric Brown was born in 1906 and died in 1972, and Bernie first showed up in 1977 in Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, so how could they possibly meet? Answer: Time travel, right? You’ve written a time travel story and Bernie goes back in time, knocks back a couple of drinks with Fred B., and breaks into houses back before anybody even dreamed about pickproof locks and security cameras. Am I right?




No? Why the hell not?


Because there’s no such thing as time travel. It’s a viable literary device, and writers from H. G. Wells to Audrey Niffenegger have made remarkable use of it, but how can anybody with even one foot on the ground take it seriously? It’s not real. The past is over—


Oh really? Faulkner says it’s not even past.


—and the future hasn’t happened yet. So no, The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown is emphatically not a time-travel story. 


You’re saying it’s set in the here-and-now? . . .Um, hello? Earth to LB: That wasn’t a rhetorical question. You’re supposed to answer it.


It’s set in the Now.


But not in the Here, not exactly. Hey, I read the damn book, okay? I know what you did here. The book takes place in a parallel universe. Bernie falls asleep reading a Fredric Brown novel, and he wakes up in a world that looks just like this one—except it’s different.




No security cameras documenting your every move. No pickproof locks rendering your talents obsolete. No online booksellers ruining your retail trade.




And no Metrocards. What the hell have you got against Metrocards?




Never mind. There’s no such thing as time travel, you wouldn’t dream of writing a time-travel story, but you’re fine with parallel universes? How do you explain that?


Why do I have to? I don’t believe in time travel. 


But you do believe in parallel universes?


Of course. So do you.




You and everybody else who reads fiction. Every novel takes place in a parallel universe all its own, and that’s as true of the grittily realistic novel as it is of the most whimsical flight of fantasy. Take my Matthew Scudder novels, for example.


I don’t believe it. You just found a way to plug a whole other series.


They’re set in New York City, over a span of time from the early 1970s to the present. The protagonist, Matthew Scudder, ages in real time. He’s fifty years older now than he was when I first began writing about him.


So how’s that a parallel universe?


In the world you and I inhabit, I’m a writer, and Matthew Scudder is a character in some of the books I write. In the world of the novels, I don’t exist, and neither do the books, and Matthew Scudder is a living person recounting an actual series of incidents.


I’m trying to get my mind around this. So in the Bernie Rhodenbarr books—


He’s been living all his life in a universe that exists alongside ours. If you walk over to the block of East Eleventh Street between University Place and Broadway, you won’t find a store called Barnegat Books, with a tailless cat dozing in the front window. Nor will you find The Poodle Factory,  Carolyn Kaiser’s place of business. In one world those establishments exist. In another, they’re just something for me to write about and you to read about.


But this world is real, and the world of the books—


Isn’t? That’s certainly how you would see it. Bernie, on the other hand, would probably view it differently. He’d say his day-to-day world is the real one.


But then he wakes up in another world, a parallel universe. And does he think the new world is real?


Sure. But maybe not quite as real as the original one, and with some interesting wrinkles. You know, every couple of months someone will turn up with an idea for me: Why don’t I write a book where Bernie and Matt are both characters? Or Bernie and Keller, or Keller and Matt, or whatever. It’s always the same idea, and each person who proposes it thinks he’s the first to come up with it. “Bernie steals Keller’s stamp collection! Wouldn’t that be great?” Well, no, it wouldn’t, but whatever the idea may be I have the same response. My various characters can’t meet because they live in different worlds. Bernie and Matt may both live in New York, but it’s a different New York for each of them, in a different universe.


Far out. I ask you what time it is, figuring you’ll tell me how to build a watch. And instead you explain to me how there’s no such thing as time.


Not exactly.


No, not exactly, but close enough. But here’s a thought. Your characters can’t meet because they live in different worlds.


That’s what I just said.


So there’s no way Chip Harrison can wind up in the sack with Kit Tolliver.


God, what a thought.


Well, I’m the Impertinent Interviewer, remember? And here’s another thought. There’s an infinite number of parallel universes, right? So Chip lives in his universe, and Kit lives in hers.




So let’s suppose there’s another world, parallel to both of theirs, in which they’re both present. Isn’t that as possible as anything else we’ve been talking about? Never mind, it’s only a thought, and an impertinent one at that. Whatever it is you want to say, keep it to yourself, okay? We’re out of time. This is the Impertinent Interviewer, saying goodbye, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.




Lawrence Block’s new Bernie Rhodenbarr novel, The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown,  is available for preorder in advance of its ebook and paperback publication on October 18. Sometime in 2023, look for a signed-and-numbered limited hardcover edition from Subterranean Press.





Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Cartoon of the Day: Last Orders

DOGS AND CATS: Guest Post by Karen Rose

Karen Rose: Dogs and Cats 

I often include dogs and cats in my books. I started doing so back in 2003 in my very first book, DON’T TELL, with Cindy Lou Who, an Old English Sheepdog who wasn’t quite two. If a character didn’t have a dog, they’d usually have cats, like Kristen Mayhew’s Mephistopheles and Nostradamus in I’M WATCHING YOU.  


Normally, it’s the good guys—the heroes and heroines—who are the pet owners, but every now and then the villain will have a furry friend, like the serial killer in SAY YOU’RE SORRY. I hadn’t planned for him to have a dog, but the dog just showed up and said, “Hi, I’m here!” So I went with it and the dog ended up being a big part of the story.


In one of my books, the killer was a murderer/arsonist, and his first victim was a cat sitter. It occurred to him that there would be a cat in the house when he started the fire, but he wouldn’t allow the cat to get hurt. So he put the cat out first. I wasn’t sure why, so I kept writing and more cats and dogs were saved, even though their owners were slain.  It turned out that the killer’s love of animals shared space in his mind with the trauma he’d suffered as a child. He was a despicable killer, but his love for animals allowed him to keep a hold on his fractured humanity, although that hold was rapidly fraying.


Pets allow me to create connections with the characters—both with me and with each other in the book.  Pets provide comfort and unconditional love. Many of my characters need this (because I’m kind of rough on them, giving them tragic backstories).  


Sometimes the pets provide a feeling of protection and safety, like Peabody the Rottweiler, in NO ONE LEFT TO TELL. Sometimes they’re comfort cats, like Mercy’s Rory in SAY NO MORE, or service dogs, like tiny Brutus, who rides around in Daisy’s purse in SAY YOU’RE SORRY. Sometimes the pets are simply that breath of fresh air that allows the readers (and me) to draw a breath in between the villain’s heinous crimes.  

I can tell you all kinds of reasons for including dogs and cats in my books—and they’d all be true—but the main reason is that I like dogs and cats! I’ve had a dog and/or a cat (and for a while a horse) for most of my life and I want my characters to feel the sweet affection from their furry friends. 


In my newest book, QUARTER TO MIDNIGHT, Gabe (the hero) has inherited his murdered father’s dog, Shoe. A sweetheart Lab mix, Shoe not only gives Gabe a living being to care for after the devastation of his father’s death, but he gives Gabe a connection to the father he loved and lost. Molly, the heroine, has a horse named Shelley. Shelley is all she has left of the farm where she grew up, also a connection to the memory of her father. Shoe the dog has a much bigger starring role in QUARTER TO MIDNIGHT than Shelley the horse, mostly because Shoe is far more portable, LOL.  


I hope you love Gabe and Molly and Shoe (who is a very good boy). I hope you’ve been the recipient of a furry friend’s love, whether they be your pet or someone else’s. Bye for now from me and Sasha, my Giant Schnauzer, who’s curled up at my feet.


Karen Rose is the award-winning, #1 international bestselling author of twenty-five novels, including the bestselling Baltimore and Cincinnati series. She has been translated into twenty-three languages, and her books have placed on the New York Times, the Sunday Times (UK), and Germany's der Spiegel bestseller lists. Learn more at

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Pants-er or Recipe-er? Guest Post by Leslie Karst

LESLIE KARST: Pants-er or Recipe-er?

Authors are often asked whether we’re plotters or pantsers—do we plan out our story lines in advance and outline them in detail, or merely start writing and just see what happens?


I’ve been a devout plotter for most my fiction-writing career. And for my legal writing career as well, when I worked as a research and appellate attorney. Though truly, I can’t fathom how anyone could draft a legal brief without doing at least a little outlining. (Oh wait, come to think of it, I do believe some of those sloppy motions I received from opposing counsel over the years might well have been written without a whole lot of advance planning....)


When I set out to draft my first Sally Solari mystery, even the thought of sitting down with only a vague idea and then simply writing a mystery novel scared the heck out of me. You have to plant clues, after all, and red herrings, and suspects. How could you do that just willy-nilly? (Asks this list-making, check-everything-three-times, Virgo.)


But what’s interesting is that when it comes to cooking, I’ve always been the exact opposite. Sure, I love to read cookbooks. And my favorite day of the week for the newspaper is when the food section comes out, so I can peruse the recipes, maybe learn a new technique for rolling out pasta, and drool over all the seasonal ingredients highlighted that time of year. 


But I don’t tend to use recipes when I prepare food. In this area of my life I am a full-on pantser, tasting my sauce, adding a dash of this or that, then tasting it again. I don’t worry about messing it up, because I have a solid understanding of the chemistry of cooking, so I know instinctively what will work and what won’t. (This is the reason I’m not a keen baker—for it’s pretty darn hard to use a seat-of-the-pants method when you’re making a cake or a baguette. Bakers don’t even call them “recipes”; they refer to their preparation methods as “formulae.”)


But here’s the thing: over the years, I’ve gradually become more and more of a pantser with each of the books in my series. I had the opportunity to sit on a panel a couple years ago which included the talented Laurie R. King, and when we were asked about this plotter/pantser thing, Laurie talked about how she’d been a complete plotter for her first four books, but then switched to the seat-of-your-pants method. “By then I’d figured out how to do it, how to write a mystery novel,” she explained, “so I figured, why not try it the other way? And it worked.” She’s been a devout seat-of-the-pantser ever since.

I thought a lot about what Laurie said that night, and when I embarked on this fifth novel in my series, The Fragrance of Death, for the first time in my life, I decided to throw caution to the wind and went at it without a fully fleshed-out plot. (Mind you, I did have an idea of how the book would start and finish and whodunit, but that long middle was merely the germ of an idea.)


And you know what? It was fun. But a little scary, too—especially when I’d finish a scene and then have no idea where I was going next. I found myself going on long bike rides and talking aloud to myself, asking, “What would Sally so in this situation? What if X happened to her, and then she reacted by doing Y?” The walkers along West Cliff Drive where I like to ride likely wondered why the heck this strange gal was pedaling along talking to herself about murder and mayhem. 


But hey—as with Laurie, it worked, and I’m exceedingly pleased with how this new book turned out. So perhaps I’ve made a permanent switch—maybe all those years pantsing it in the kitchen without a recipe has paid off in my writing career!


The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. The next book in the series, The Fragrance of Death, releases August 2, 2022.


Monday, August 1, 2022

Hard-Learned Advice that Might Spare You Becoming a Victim of a Crime: Guest Post by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz: Hard-Learned Advice that Might Spare You Becoming a Victim of a Crime

Having recently celebrated my 223rd birthday, I’m amazed to be busier than ever. I owe a great debt to you, book lovers, without whom I would no doubt have fallen into a life of crime two centuries ago. Instead, I write about (among other things) crime, the people who commit it, the people who suffer it, and the people who deal with it. As a consequence, I’ve never had to engage in scary high-speed chases, endure tedious police interrogations, bide my time through periods of incarceration, sustain bullet wounds, or have my fingerprints burned away with acid by a physician named Dr. X in a warehouse basement in Reno. The only thing I can do for you in return, other than write my stories, is offer some hard-learned advice that might spare you from becoming a victim of crime. 

Here’s the first: If you’re afraid of the current epidemic of follow-home robberies, then for God’s sake, don’t follow violent thieves to their homes.

You might wonder what a 223-year-old writer’s day is like, and even if you don’t wonder, I’m going to tell you. At 5:30 a.m., the sound of my wife extracting a cork from a bottle of cabernet sauvignon induces me to get out of bed. She always manages to hide the bottle so effectively that I can’t find it even if I spend hours searching. I suspect that she hasn’t actually opened a bottle for me, but has become adept at making that sound with her thumb and lips, though I have no proof. Consequently, after my dog takes me for a walk and after a breakfast of ink-black coffee and raw steak that any hardboiled type would appreciate, I might as well write. 

Here's a second tip regarding the wise avoidance of victimhood: If you’re alarmed by the current epidemic of car-jackings, drive a rust-bucket with its bumpers held on by wire and bearing a prominent sticker that says people with ebola are still people. Or roller skate everywhere. There is no skate-jacking crisis.

At noon, I pause in my writing to contemplate lunch. However, at 223 years of age, following the aforementioned black coffee and steak, lunch is a complication that risks a long list of potentially calamitous developments. Therefore, instead of eating, I go on another walk with my dog, confident that she will be able to find the way home and that I won’t spend the afternoon demanding of people at a house in another block what they have done with my wife and our furniture. I can also rest assured that I will not run out of doggy pickup bags, because out of concern about supply-chain problems, I have purchased 50,000 rolls, thirty bags per roll.

Here's a third tip: If you’re averse to owning a gun, one of those clingy dry-cleaner’s bags can serve as an excellent deterrent weapon in the event of an encounter with a burglar. Most burglars will have seen the warning about smothering that is so prominently printed on every such bag, and your threat to employ the lethal plastic in such a fashion and without mercy will 90% of the time cause the intruder to flee. Ten percent of burglars will be illiterate, and in those instances, you will require something more like a gun.

Upon returning home from a second walk with the dog, I once more sit at my computer, highly motivated by my love of the English language, my enchantment with the art of storytelling, my conviction that the meaning of life can best be illuminated in fiction rather than nonfiction, and by the thought that there will be a real bottle of cabernet sauvignon at dinner. At the end of the writing day, after feeding my dog, I attempt to take another walk; however, after a quick potty, she slips out of her collar and, being a senior golden retriever with an enough-already attitude, leaves me with the leash and the suggestion that I walk myself.

As my writing day comes to an end, I always take a moment to meditate on the same subject. I wish that Donald Westlake, John D. MacDonald, Dorothy Sayers, Ross Thomas, Len Deighton, Daphne Du Maurier, Ed McBain (Evan Hunter), Patricia Highsmith, Rex Stout, and so many others could have lived to be 223 years to provide us with even more brilliant entertainment than they did.


About Dean Koontz: 

Dean Koontz is the author of many #1 bestsellers. His books have sold over five hundred million copies in thirty-eight languages, and The Times (of London) has called him a “literary juggler.” He lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens Trixie and Anna.