Wednesday, May 31, 2023

RIDLEY: Police Procedural Series on PBS

Police Procedural Series

When: Sundays, June 18 - August 6, at 5:00pm PT / 8:00pm ET
Where: All PBS Platforms, including PBS MASTERPIECE, PBS Passport, and Masterpiece Prime Video Channel
Retired Detective Inspector Alex Ridley (Adrian Dunbar), a former police detective, is coaxed out of retirement to advise on a complex and compelling murder case by his replacement and former protege DI Carol Farman. Carol is keen to access Ridley’s unique insight into crime-solving which served them so well in the past, but the investigation takes a dark and unexpected twist. 

O.K., you have to get over the fact that Adrian Dunbar is not Ted Hastings from Line of Duty! Once you do that, you'll appreciate his role in this new police procedural.

Cartoon of the Day: Writing

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

WPC 56: SEASONS 2 & 3

WPC 56
continues with Seasons 2 & 3 in June on AcornTV. This is a period crime show that follows Gina Dawson (Jennie Jacques), the first Woman Police Constable (WPC) at the Branford Police Station (West Midlands) in the 1950s. Seasons 1 & 2 focus on her struggles to gain acceptance in the male-dominated police world. Third season follows her successor at the station.

You can catch up on Season 1 on AcornTV

Season 2: Premieres June 12

Season 3: Premieres June 26 

Sunday, May 28, 2023


Hope you're having a good Memorial Day Weekend. Did you know that 53% of Americans will be barbecuing this weekend? Will you?

I posted my updated Memorial Day Crime Fiction list a few days ago, so I thought I'd update my Barbecue Mysteries list, too. So many ways one can murder someone at a barbecue, from the sauce to the skewers to the grill, not to mention the tiny wires on the barbecue brush (true crime!). Here's an updated short list of Barbecue Mysteries. Let me know if I've forgotten any titles!

Barbecue Mysteries

Delicious and Suspicious; Hickory Smoked Homicide; Finger Lickin' Dead; Rubbed Out by Riley Adams  (Elizabeth Craig Spann) - The Memphis BBQ Mystery Series
The Unbelievable Mr. Brownstone Omnibus 4 (books 19-22): Road Trip: BBQ and a Brawl, BBQ Delivered with Attitude, BBQ With a Side of No Apologies, BBQ and STFU by Michael Anderle
Bad Move by Linwood Barclay
Honey BBQ Murder by Patti Benning 
Murder Well-Done by Claudia Bishop
Nice Day for a Murder by C.A. Broadribb

Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron
Topped Chef by Lucy Burdette
Low and Slow: Sweet and Savory Murder at the BBQ Cookoff by Randy Cade 
A Bullet at the BBQ by SL Calder 

Several Dan Rhodes books by Bill Crider
Murder at the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival by Gene Davis
The Grilling Season by Diane Mott Davidson
Grilled for Murder by Maddie Day

Memphis Ribs by Gerald Duff
Murder Can Singe Your Old Flame by Selma Eichler
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
Barbecues & Brooms by Bella Falls

The Politics of Barbecue by Blake Fontenay
Grilling the Subject by Daryl Wood Gerber
Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets by M.E. Harmon
A Trunk, a Canoe, and all the Barbecue by A. W. Hartoin

Cotton Comes to Harlem by Chester Himes
 The Big Barbecue by Dorothy B. Hughes

Close to Home by Cara Hunter
Barbeque Bedlam by Lizzie Josephson 

Blossoms, Barbeque, & Blackmail by Tonya Kappes
Bonfires, Barbeques and Bodies by Susan Keene 
Spare Ribs and Cold Cuts by Kamaryn Kelsey 
Barbecue Blues: A Professor Doug Wilson Mystery (Professor Doug Wilson Mysteries Book 3) by Duke Kuehn
Murder in Mesquite Springs by Glenda Stewart Langley
Bad News Barbecues: by Maisy Marple 
Bullets & Barbecue by Mary Maxwell
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Thou Shalt Not Grill by Tamar Myers 
Hush My Mouth by Cathy Pickens
The BBQ Burger Murder by Rosie A. Point
Hawg Heaven Cozy Mysteries by Summer Prescott 
Barbecue Can Be Deadly by Ryan Rivers 

Say You're Sorry by Michael Robotham
The Sheriff and..  (series) by D. R. Meredith

The King is Dead by Sarah Shankman
Stiffs and Swine by J.B. Stanley
Barbecue and Murder by Kathleen Suzette

Revenge of the Barbecue Queens by Lou Jane Temple
Murder at the Barbecue by Liz Turner

Murder, Basted and Barbecued by Constance Turner
Barbecue by A. E.H. Veenman

Death on a Platter by Elaine Viets

Teaberry Blues, Brew & BBQ by R. A. Wallace
A Bad Day for Barbecue by Jonathan Woods
Books, Barbecue, and Murder by Lori Woods  

Short Stories: 

"Gored" by Bill Crider
 "A Bad Day for Barbecue" by Jonathan Woods

Young Readers:  

The Barbecue Thief by Starike

Want a little chocolate on the barbie this weekend? 
Check out recipes on my other blog:

S'mores on the Grill  
Savory Chocolate Barbecue Sauces
Chocolate Ancho Chile Rub
Cocoa Spiced Salmon Rub 
Scharffen Berger Cacao Nib Rub for Tri Tip

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Cartoon of the Day: Family Reunion

Happy Caturday!



John Dunning passed away on May 23 at the age of 81. Author of the Cliff Janeway series, set in a bookstore, his books were some of my favorites. Booked to Die and subsequent books in the series are full of information on how to run a bookstore, how to spot a first edition, keep it pristine, price it, and enjoy it! It won the Nero Award and was nominated for an Anthony. I've always enjoyed books about books aka bibliomysteries

Read more about John Dunning in The Rap Sheet, here

HT: The RapSheet

Friday, May 26, 2023

David Thompson Special Service Award: Sara Paretsky

The Bouchercon Board
announced that SARA PARETSKY is this year's recipient of the David Thompson Special Service Award!
The award is given by the Bouchercon Board to honor the memory and contributions to the crime fiction community of David Thompson, a beloved Houston bookseller who passed away in 2010. Recipients are recognized for their extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the crime fiction field.
Sara's contributions as a founder of Sisters In Crime; as a leader in helping to lay the publishing groundwork for women authors of mystery and crime fiction, and as an ongoing literacy activist, have been phenomenal.

The award will be presented during the General Members Meeting at the Bouchercon 2023 convention in San Diego. 

Congratulations, Sara, and welcome to the group!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

2023 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing

Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) announced the Winners of the 2023 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Since 1984, Crime Writers of Canada has recognized the best in mystery, crime, and suspense fiction, and crime nonfiction by Canadian authors, including citizens abroad and new residents.

Jack Batten is the recipient of the 2023 Derrick Murdoch Award. The Derrick Murdoch Award is issued every two years to recognize a member of Crime Writers of Canada who has made significant contributions to the crime/mystery/thriller genre.                          


Best Crime Novel sponsored by Rakuten Kobo, with a $1000 prize

Anthony Bidulka, Going to Beautiful, Stonehouse Publishing

Best Crime First Novel sponsored by Melodie Campbell, with a $1000 prize

Sam Shelstad, Citizens of Light, TouchWood Editions 

The Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada sponsored by Charlotte Engel and CWC, with a $500 prize

Joanne Jackson, A Snake in the Raspberry PatchStonehouse Publishing 

The Whodunit Award for Best Traditional Mystery sponsored by Jane Doe, with a $500 prize

Thomas King, Deep House, HarperCollins Canada

Best Crime Novella sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $200 prize

Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson, The Man Who Went Down Under, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines

Best Crime Short Story sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $300 prize

Craig H. Bowlsby, The Girl Who Was Only Three Quarters Dead, Mystery Magazine 

Best French Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Richard Ste-Marie, Monsieur Hämmerli, Éditions Alire

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction) sponsored by Shaftesbury, with a $500 prize

Jo Treggiari, Heartbreak Homes, Nimbus Publishing Limited

The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book sponsored by David Reid Simpson Law Firm, Hamilton, with a $300 prize

Rosemary Sullivan, The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, HarperCollins Canada 

The Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript sponsored by ECW Press, with a $500 prize

Mary Keenan, Snowed


About Crime Writers of Canada

Crime Writers of Canada was founded in 1982 as a professional organization designed to raise the profile of Canadian crime writers. Members include authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and literary agents as well as many developing authors. 

MEMORIAL DAY MYSTERIES //Memorial Day Crime Fiction

Memorial Day aka Decoration Day is a day of remembrance of those men and women who fell protecting us, of those who didn't come home. Many people go to cemeteries and memorials on the last Monday in May, and there's a tradition to fly the flag at half mast. Memorial Day in the U.S. is part of a three day holiday weekend. Many think of this weekend as the beginning of Summer, a time for Barbecues, the Beach, the Cabin, and S'mores. Not planning a get-together? You can celebrate Memorial Day by reading some of these Mysteries set during the Memorial Day Weekend.

In memory of all who served their country, here's an updated list of Mysteries set during Memorial Day Weekend. Let me know if I've forgotten any titles. You may also want to check out my Veterans Day Mystery List.

Memorial Day Mysteries

Death is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons
Last Man Standing by David Baldacci
The Twenty Three by Linwood Barclay
Treble at the Jam Fest by Leslie Budewitz
The Decoration Memorial Day War by David H. Brown
Memorial Day by Sandra Thompson Brown and Duane Brown
Flowers for Bill O'Reilly: Memorial Day by Max Allan Collins
Black Echo by Michael Connelly  

Absolute Certainty by Rose Connors
One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer Fleming (not technically Memorial day, but it fits the theme)
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
Memorial Day by Harry Shannon
Beside Still Waters by Debbie Viguie
Who Killed the Neanderthal by Cheryl Zelenka

Children's Mysteries:

Trixie Belden: The Mystery of the Memorial Day Fire by Kahryn Kenny
Sam's Top Secret Journal: Memorial Day by Sean Adelman, Siri Bardarson, Dianna Border & Andrea Hurst

Rosemary is for Remembrance. Check out the recipe for Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies on my other blog:


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Evolution of the Mystery Novel: Trends, Tropes and Future Directions by James Polkinghorn

We are familiar with the basic structures of mystery novels that have been employed to our delight for more than a century. We encounter an opening revelation of a crime that piques our interest in solving it.  An uneasy mood is created, keeping us on edge as the story unfolds. A sleuth is introduced with some connection to the crime or the perpetrator that invests him or her in solving the mystery. The pace picks up as clues litter the pages, some of them red herrings, others foreshadowing a coming showdown. Finally, an ending wraps things up in a way that satisfies all our pent-up curiosity and expectation.
Though familiar, this formula–if it can be considered one–continues to inspire authors to follow it with little variation. There can be significant rewards for doing so as publishers seek material they know will sell because it always has. The creativity that we see in the genre often comes in the settings and in the character development of the sleuth. Authors describe the action in exotic or little-known locales that serve as travelogs for most readers. They invite us to get to know interesting and quirky characters that we dont often meet in our own lives. The crimes themselves, usually murders, strike right at the heart of our deepest fears.
One fear that is probably not adequately explored in the genre today is that which we harbor toward the looming and seemingly inexorable advance of technology. Without becoming science fiction, there is substantial room for exploration of subjects in this area, many of which naturally create in us feelings of profound unease. It may well be that many writers, who focused more heavily on the arts” when obtaining their arts and sciences degrees in college, are simply uninterested in exploring subject matter that is both foreign and intimidating. Writing itself is hard enough! But this is a fertile field waiting to be tilled, planted, and harvested.
Speaking of technology, the greater fear for all writers thinking about the future is the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in businesses everywhere. Right this very second, engineers around the globe are diligently working to insert thinking machines in business environments that would have been unimaginable even twenty years ago. How difficult will it be for AI to write a mystery novel once it learns the basic formula discussed above and peruses every novel ever written as contained on the internet? Would it even be shocking to learn that some graduate student at Stanford has already programmed this in pursuit of his doctorate? One wonders just how long it will be before AI produces a manuscript that its human master takes credit for and has published. Could publishers produce their own content without the necessity of dealing with agents and finicky authors? Time will tell but it would be naive to think this hasnt crossed some very bright minds already.
So, lets celebrate the mystery genre as it has been passed to us and enjoy its works as we find them. Technology, both as subject matter and as existential threat to practitioners, awaits.

James Polkinghorn is a lawyer and partner in a national law firm specializing in labor and employment law. He has extensive trial and litigation experience in multiple jurisdictions throughout the country. A Pittsburgh native, Polkinghorn moved with his family to Florida in high school, where he has since stayed. He has a degree in political science and a law degree from the University of Florida. He now lives in Key West with his wife, Becki, and their dog, Major Tom. Liquid Shades of Blue is his first novel. 
For more information visit,

Monday, May 22, 2023

Happy Birthday, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Happy Birthday, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. In this original 'podcast', Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tells how he came to write the Sherlock Holmes stories. Nothing like hearing it from the man, himself.

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, born May 22, 1859, was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are milestones in the field of crime fiction.

Sunday, May 21, 2023


Good news! Season 10 of Father Brown will air on BritBox in the U.S. beginning June 13th, with 2 new episodes each week. There are a total of ten episodes of roughly 50 minutes each. The season has already begun in the U.K. 

Several regular characters have unfortunately left the series, notably Sorcha Cusack as Mrs. McCarthy, Jack Deam as Inspector Mallory, and Emer Kenny as Bunty Windermere. I will miss them, especially Mrs. McCarthy, but I have seen her on a few other shows recently. Good to know she's working. Claudie Blakley joins the cast as Mrs. Devine. Tom Chambers returns as Chief Inspector Sullivan.

Returning cast members Season 10: 
Mark Williams as Father Brown, John Burton as Sgt Goodfellow, John Light as M Hercule Flambeau, Nancy Carroll as Lady Felicia Montague, and Ruby-May Martinwood as Brenda Palmer.

Can't wait!

St. Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend: August 11-13, 2023

I've never been to St. Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend in Oxford. Would love to go. Alas, not this year, but it's not too late for you to sign up!

To learn more about the conference, the authors, and to register, go here:

Friday, May 19, 2023

Out & About: Conferences vs. Conventions: Guest Post by Judy Penz Sheluk

I’m Canadian, born and raised in Toronto, which means most Americans I meet tease me about the way I pronounce “out and about,” insisting I say “oot and a-boot,” which, of course, is completely inaccurate! 
Anyway, it’s not as if I get out or about all that often. I’m a notorious homebody, happiest when tapping away at my computer, reading a book, or binging episodes of YellowstoneThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and so forth, my Golden Retriever Gibbs lying by my feet. But being an author means sometimes having to do, well, author-y things.

One author-y thing might be attending a conference or convention. I’m often asked by other authors (published and hopeful) to recommend “the best one.” Before I answer that, it’s important to note that while we tend to use conference/convention interchangeably, there are subtle differences. The primary purpose of an industry-specific and, in the case of writing, usually genre-specific, conference is the exchange of information with an educational component, a venue where attendees can learn and better themselves professionally. For example, a writing conference might offer master classes, manuscript critiques, and live agent and/or publisher pitch sessions. Conferences are often held in the same city each year. One example would be Killer Nashville.

Most writing conventions, on the other hand, are billed as fan-based, meaning the primary objective is to introduce readers to authors and vice versa. Some conventions will include an educational component, such as a workshop, but these are typically held prior to the start of the convention so as not to interfere with scheduled programming. Some conventions, like Malice Domestic, are held in the same city each year, while others, like Bouchercon, are often held in a different city each year, with discounted or group sightseeing excursions offered to attendees. 

So, let’s get back to the original question. Which one is “best?” The answer is, it depends on you. What may be the perfect venue for an unpublished author looking for agent representation might not be the best fit for an author with multiple books under their belt. If you’re a debut author, you’ll want something that recognizes that accomplishment. My debut year, for example, was 2015, and I marked that milestone at Bouchercon Raleigh, where they had a lovely Debut Authors Breakfast.

There are other considerations as well:

Location: Do you want something close to home? Or would you prefer to combine business with pleasure and visit a place on your travel wish list, perhaps combining it with a family or solo vacation? 

Total Cost: Think registration fee, travel, travel insurance, hotel, meals. Registration fees are usually tiered, with early-bird pricing that escalates as you get closer to the event. 

Networking: Both conferences and conventions offer networking opportunities, though a smaller venue is generally more conducive to making one-on-one personal connections.

Your #1 Why: Pitching to an agent or publisher? Honing your craft? Mix and mingling with other authors, both published and aspiring? 

Type of Event: Are you interested in writing in general, or would you prefer an event that has a genre-specific focus (e.g., romance, mystery, sci-fi)? In my experience, there are far more that are focused. 

Additionally, genre-specific events will introduce you to like-minded individuals, providing an opportunity to network with readers and other authors, aspiring and published.

Virtual or Live: Many conventions now offer virtual options. The good news is the cost will be minimal (no travel-associated costs). The bad news is networking opportunities are minimal or non-existent. That said, virtual offerings are a way to dip your toe in the water to get a feel for the experience without diving into the deep end.

I’ve addressed each of these points, as well as other important considerations (like what to wear!), in my latest book, Finding YOUR Path to Publication: A Step-by-Step GuideIt’s the sort of book I wish I’d had when I was starting out, filled with easy-to-digest information on everything from publishing paths (and what to do to get there) to business basics, understanding royalties, contracts, and more. And the good news is, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to read it. 

About the book: The road to publishing is paved with good intentions…and horror stories of authors who had to learn the hard way. 

For the emerging author, the publishing world can be overwhelming. You’ve written the book, and you’re ready to share it with the world, but don’t know where to start. Traditional, independent press, hybrid, self-publishing, and online social platforms—all are valid publishing paths. The question is, which one is right for you? 

Finding Your Path to Publication is an introduction to an industry that remains a mystery to those on the outside. Learn how each publishing option works, what to expect from the process start to finish, how to identify red flags, and avoid common pitfalls. With statistics, examples, and helpful resources compiled by an industry insider who’s been down a few of these paths, this is your roadmap to decide which path you’d like to explore, and where to begin your author journey. 
Available in trade paperback, large print, hardcover, and e-book. Universal buy link:

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and Marketville Mysteries, both of which have been published in multiple languages. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited. Judy is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served on the Board of Directors for five years, the final two as Chair. She lives in Northern Ontario. Find her at


Thursday, May 18, 2023

CRIME MUSEUMS: International Museum Day!

Today is International Museum Day, and my friend Kathy Boone Reel suggested I repost my list of Crime-related Museums. This is not a definitive list by any means. Feel free to add your favorites or comment on Museums you've visited.

Crime Museum: Washington D.C.
This museum includes a crime lab, the filming studios for America's Most Wanted, a simulated shooting range, a high-speed police-chase, and hundreds of interactive exhibits and artifacts pertaining to America's favorite subject.

The Mob Museum, Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement — aka The Mob Museum — is an interactive museum dedicated to the history of organized crime and law enforcement. Focuses on organized crime's impact on Las Vegas history and its unique imprint on America and the world.

The Black Museum, London, England: The Black Museum of Scotland Yard is a collection of criminal memorabilia kept at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London, England. Started in 1874, although unofficially, by 1875, it had become an official museum of the force, with a police inspector and a police constable assigned to duty there.

Medieval Crime and Justice Museum, Rothenberg, Germany. A leading museum of medieval crime. Torture instruments, shame punishments and more, it also houses a vast collection of seals and law books.

American Police Hall of Fame & Museum: Titusville, FL. The American Police Hall of Fame and Museum was founded in 1960. It is the nation's first national police museum and memorial dedicated to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

New York City Police Museum

National Law Enforcement Museum. Washington, D.C.

Other Police Museums:
Cleveland Police Museum
Phoenix Police Museum
Houston Police Museum
Portland Police Museum
New Jersey State Police Museum & Learning Center
Security Forces Museum (San Antonio, TX)
Los Angeles Police Historical Society Museum & Community Education Center
Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum
International Police Museum of Southern California
Norfolk Police & Fire Rescue Museum
Police Heritage Museum, York, PA
Silver State National Peace Officers Museum, NV
National Police Museum. Delhi, India.
National Police Museum, Finland
New Zealand Police Museum
Justice and Police Museum, Sydney, Australia


International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C. The only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on a profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events. The Museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display.

Bletchley Park: Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, England. Home of the Codebreakers, Enigma Machines, history and more. Surely you've seen Bletchley Circle? Visited the Churchill War Rooms? Check out the website, too, and there's also a virtual tour on the Internet.

Spy Museum. Vakoilumuseo. Tampere, Finland.

James Bond Museum: Momence, IL

The James Bond Exhibit at the Dezer Collection. Miami, FL

Any favorite crime museum I've forgotten? Make a comment? Any Museum Mysteries you'll be reading today? I must post a list of Museum Mysteries. Next year??!

Medieval Meets Modern in Switzerland: Guest Post by Kim Hays


When I began a series of police procedurals set in Bern, my hometown in Switzerland, I resolved to avoid writing about Swiss watches, Swiss cheese, Swiss chocolate, Swiss Army knives, and secret bank accounts. No clichés allowed. Then, in Sons and Brothers, the second book in my Polizei Bern series, I found myself giving the murder victim a bank account that his family didn’t know about and—oh, dear—an heirloom watch that plays a role in the plot. So much for resolutions.
Nevertheless, refraining from stereotyping Switzerland and the Swiss remains an essential goal of mine. I’ve lived in Bern with my Swiss husband for thirty-five years, so I’m familiar with all the generalizations about this country. I do indeed know many Swiss who are more reserved than the average American, and quite a few of them have a fondness for calm and order that stems primarily from a desire to avoid conflict with their neighbors and the world. But Switzerland is not a land of control freaks. Like their American counterparts, the Swiss police regularly deal with drunken violence, drug dealing, spouse battering, vandalism, rape, and arson. Houses are burgled, and late-night pedestrians are mugged. Admittedly, in this country of under nine million people, there are very few murders (one homicide per year for every 200,000 people compared with thirteen per year in the US). Gun violence, in particular, is rare—a blessing for the country, if not for writers of murder mysteries. 
Pesticide, my first book, begins with a rave in Bern turning into a huge riot, an actual event that I experienced. When the riot is over, a dead man is discovered—something that didn’t actually happen. Much of the book takes place in a farming village, but the story deals not with barns full of traditional Swiss dairy cows but with fields of organic vegetables. Today’s Swiss grocery shelves are as full of organic produce as they are of Swiss cheese.  My newly published second book, Sons and Brothersalso takes police detectives Linder and Donatelli away from the city to investigate their murder victim’s past in the place where he was born. It’s a community of rivers and mountains, picturesque farms, and cozy inns, not to mention a church with a white tower and a small castle. Clichéd as that sounds, it’s a reality in many Swiss villages. 
In these same villages, children as young as nine used to work from morning till night on those picturesque farms, sleeping in haylofts and not getting enough to eat. These “contract children” or Verdingkinder were taken away from their parents because authorities did not approve of how they were being raised and then given to farmers as free labor. This appalling government policy began in the early eighteen hundreds and only ended in the nineteen seventies; its consequences are still being dealt with today. This, too, is part of the real Switzerland that I want my stories to convey.
Something I love about this country and try to show in my books is how the traditional and the ultramodern exist side by side. At Bern’s core is the medieval Old City, its skyline dominated by its largest church, the fifteenth-century Münster. Outside the loop of the Aare River that encircles and defines the boundaries of the Old City is the Bern University teaching hospital. Only a twenty-minute walk from the fifteenth-century Münster, it’s filled with the latest medical technology. Tourists come from all over the world to see Bern’s Old City; sick people come from all over the world to be treated in the Insel Hospital. 
Another beloved example of the medieval and the modern combined are Bern’s bears, who live just across the Aare River from Nydegg, the oldest section of town. The bear is a symbol of the city and canton and can be found on Bern’s coat of arms and official flag; the first record of a live bear being brought to the city is from 1513. Once bears were kept in the center of town, but in 1857 a large pit for the city’s mascot was created next to where today’s bears are kept. 
The idea of keeping bears in a pit in the middle of a city sounds barbaric and, well, medieval. But today’s three brown bears, Finn and Björk and their daughter Ursina, only spend time in the pit while their living area is being cleaned and their food distributed. Otherwise, they roam around a large park full of trees along the side of a hill above the river. From the square above the bears’ modern quarters or the path below along the river, tourists can watch Finn, Björk, and Ursina swim in a pool (fed by the Aare), climb trees, or wrestle with each other. Their park includes enclosures built into the hillside where they can retreat if they don’t want to be watched and where they live during the winter. They’re under the management of the city’s zoo and receive excellent care.
The bear park is a typical Swiss compromise, showing that it’s possible to reshape tradition so that it meets the standards of today’s world but still warms the cockles of Swiss hearts! 

Sons and Brothers, the second police procedural in Kim Hays’s Polizei Bern series, was published on April 18 by Seventh Street Books. In it, 
a cardiac surgeon in his seventies is attacked and drowned in Bern’s Aare River. The district attorney suspects the victim’s estranged son Markus, but Bern police detectives Linder and Donatelli have other ideas about the crime. 

Kim Hays is a dual Swiss/US citizen who lives in Bern with her Swiss husband. The first book in her Polizei Bern series, Pesticide, was shortlisted for a Debut Dagger Award by the Crime Writers Association, and Deborah Crombie called it “a standout debut for 2022.” For more information about Kim and Switzerland, see




Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The British Book Awards aka The Nibbies

The British Book Awards were announced last night. Here's a link to all the categories

Winner: Book of the Year - Crime and Thriller

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett (Viper)

The Twyford Code, Janice Hallett’s follow-up to her début The Appeal, was praised as “brave” and “bold” by our judges, with one dubbing it: “epistolary brainy crime”. Second books can be tricky, but Hallett smashed expectations when The Twyford Code outsold her début novel in hardback, audio and export. The judges were very impressed by Hallett’s skill in creating a mystery where the reader is invited to solve the crime alongside the characters, testifying to her growing strength as a writer. The striking cover included 33 clues within the fish’s scales and eyes and Viper’s “canny” marketing positioned Hallett as a the “queen of cosy crime” and capitalised on the love for her début. It is a “really wonderful success story”, commented one judge.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023


DON'T MISS THIS! From May 18-21, Sisters in Crime is hosting an auction to benefit the Innocence Project. As of January 2020, the Innocence Project has documented over 375 DNA exonerations in the United States. Twenty-one of these had been sentenced to death.

Follow this link and check out this worthy auction. Get ready to open your hearts and wallets. Fantastic offerings!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Why I Write Historical Fiction: Guest Post by Kathryn Lasky

Kathryn Lasky: 

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words, and I would add a caveat to that. Actually a picture might be worth several thousand words. For it was a picture of my mother and her sister aboard the Statendam. The year was 1934. The midst of the depression. My mother Hortense Falender, a social worker in Indiana and her sister Mildred, a recent graduate of Wellesley college, were going on their first trip to Europe.  They were standing by the rail of the ocean liner in their trim slim mid-calf skirts, nipped in at the waist, jackets with shoulder pads, and jaunty berets. How they afforded this trip is a mystery, but apparently my mother on her salary as a social worker who had also paid for my aunt’s Wellesley tuition made it work.

This single picture for me says it all. Two daring young women, setting out on the brink of World War 2 for Europe. They would land in Oslo. They did not travel first class but were often invited up to first class to dine by some of the handsome men. One in particular was a Prince, heir to the King Oscar Sardine company. My Aunt MiIdy had an enormous crush on him. She was quite the flirt. But alas the romance was interrupted shortly before the end of the voyage when one of the men at the table made a hideous comment about Jews. “Those Nazis have the right idea.” The two sisters, who were Jewish, jumped up from the table and left and so did the Prince, or as my mother called him the Big Sardine. He was equally flabbergasted. 

Although my Aunt Mildy  and the Prince continued to write each other, she did not become a royal bride. But she did join the WAVES, the women’s naval reserve or Women’s Volunteer Service, when the war broke out. I have another photograph that I can see now from my desk of her on her wedding day to my Uncle Jack. They are both in uniform. She in her WAVE uniform. My uncle wore his Lieutenant’s uniform where a month later he would be in the Ardennes carrying a radio on his back in the Battle of the Bulge. Another relative of mine was under the command of General Patton in North Africa. Mind you this was all before I was born. But I was intrigued and was hooked on history. By the time I was in sixth grade I was plowing through WW2 novels. For me, it was a not simply a history lesson, but it brought the war closer; it gave texture to those times.

Today with the 24-hour new cycle, Facebook, and the internet, we are under constant bombardment. There is no real texture; at least not in the way that is palpable. They talk about the metaverse but that metaverse has no texture, no character. It is as manipulated as Disney Land. It’s plastic. It seems artificial and we as consumers have become numb, or perhaps anesthetized. We cannot absorb and consider and ruminate, but perhaps most important we cannot feel. Books make you feel. So, the dread and horror that my mother and aunt felt when the man made the terrible antisemitic remark at the dining table on the ship, that moment has haunted me. 

I recreated the moment in Light on Bone—different setting but the same year 1934. Georgia O’Keefe is sitting at a table with  Charles Lindbergh and his wife and a few others having cocktails at the Ghost Ranch. That part is true, and she did have drinks with him. The conversations goes along smoothly until Lindbergh announces that he has accepted an invitation from Herman Goring to visit Germany. Lindbergh is  terribly excited as he might actually meet Adolph Hitler. Then one person at the table asks Lindbergh if he thinks that France is so aggrieved by the last war that they might actually pick a fight with Germany after all France has suffered. Now I’ll read the paragraph that was directly written with my mother and aunt in mind. It is Georgia’s response to Lindberg’s reply at the table

“Well, sir.” Charles looked down at his plate. “I do fear that [war] it could come. Sooner or later. And I worry about the British and I worry about Roosevelt, and the Jews that he has surrounded himself with.” 
Georgia dropped her fork with a clatter on her plate. She simply did not know what to say. How had such talk become acceptable dinner conversation? He turned to her.
“Oh, I didn’t mean to alarm you, ma’am.”
“My husband is a Jew.”
“But he’s not a war agitator.”
“Of course, I know that! But you have just neatly reduced the complexity of the human race to three categories and stuffed them into one goddam sack.”
She stood, balled up her napkin, and threw it down.
This is of course fiction, historical fiction. But by this time Lindbergh’s antisemitism was just starting to be known. And I have to say that writing this scene was very cathartic. One of course has to be careful. I don’t write to get even. You can’t write to grind axes. That to me is bad historical fiction. You can’t write to settle grudges. You have to write to convey what you feel are eternal truths. These are not diatribes I am writing. They are scenes vividly re-imagined to fit seamlessly into a narrative.  

To me a metaphor comes to mind---sewing. I took sewing lessons once. I was lousy. Unlike Georgia O’Keeffe by the way who made many of her own clothes. But to me the biggest challenge in sewing was making a dart. Darts are a dressmakers punctuation mark. A technique for shaping garments by curving straight fabric to the body. I cannot make a dart in sewing to save my soul, but I have learned how to make them in literature. What I just read you was a Dart. I slipped it in there, or rather stitched it in to fit a moment in the narrative. But for me in particular (not to get too emotional about it) it was a piece of my own family’s history to fit a circumstance. My Mom and my Aunt Mildy got to have their say through the voice of Georgia O’Keeffe. 
This is why I love to write historical fiction—not simply to get back at the bad guys and even the score. But honestly to peer deeply into history, perhaps in somewhat the way that astronomers think about the stars. To quote Neil DeGrasse. “I think of space not as the final frontier but as thenext frontier. Not as something to be conquered but to be explored...Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us.


Kathryn Lasky
is the author of five mysteries and over one hundred books for children and young adults, including the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series, which has more than eight million copies in print, and was turned into a major motion picture, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. Her books have received numerous awards including a Newbery Honor, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and a Washington Post-Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award. She has twice won the National Jewish Book award. Her work has been translated into 19 languages worldwide. She is the author of six mysteries. Light is Bone is the latest. She lives with her husband in Cambridge, MA.

Friday, May 12, 2023


The Crime Writers Association announced the Dagger Award
Shortlists in all Dagger categories at CrimeFest 2023 in Bristol, England. Congratulations to all.

Diamond Dagger (previously announced)

Walter Mosley

Gold Dagger

The Kingdoms of Savannah, by George Dawes Green (Headline)
The Lost Man of Bombay, by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)
A Killing in November, by Simon Mason (Riverrun)
The Clockwork Girl, by Anna Mazzola (Orion)
The Winter Guest, by W.C. Ryan (Zaffre)
The Silent Brother, by Simon Van der Velde (Northodox Press)

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Take Your Breath Away, by Linwood Barclay (HQ)
Seventeen, by John Brownlow (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Botanist, by M. W. Craven
The Ink Black Heart, by Robert Galbraith
Alias Emma, by Ava Glass (Century)

May God Forgive, by Alan Parks (Canongate)

John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger

A Good Day to Die, by Amen Alonge (Quercus)
The Local, by Joey Hartstone (Pushkin Vertigo)
London in Black, by Jack Lutz (Pushkin Vertigo)
No Country for Girls, by Emma Styles (Sphere)
Outback, by Patricia Wolf (Embla)

Historical Dagger

The Darkest Sin, by D.V. Bishop (Macmillan)
The Clockwork Girl, by Anna Mazzola (Orion)
The Homes, by J.B. Mylet (Viper)
The Bangalore Detectives Club, by Harini Nagendra (Constable)
Blue Water, by Leonora Nattrass (Viper)
Hear No Evil, by Sarah Smith (Two Roads)

ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction

The Poisonous Solicitor: The True Story of a 1920s Murder Mystery, by Stephen Bates (Icon)
The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and their Creators, by Martin Edwards (Collins Crime Club)
Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey, by Wendy Joseph (Doubleday)
Tremors in the Blood: Murder, Obsession and the Birth of the Lie Detector, by Amit Katwala (Mudlark)
To Hunt a Killer: How I Brought Melanie Road’s Murderer to Justice, by Julie Mackay and Robert Murphy (Harper Element)
About A Son: A Murder and A Father’s Search for Truth, by David Whitehouse (Phoenix)

Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger

Good Reasons to Die, by Morgan Audic, translated by Sam Taylor (Mountain Leopard Press)
The Red Notebook, by Michel Bussi, translated by Vineet Lal (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Even the Darkest Night, by Javier Cercas, translated by Anne McLean (MacLehose Press)
Bad Kids, by Zijin Chen, translated by Michelle Deeter (Pushkin Vertigo)
The Bleeding, by Johana Gustawsson, translated by David Warriner (Orenda)
The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier, translated by Adriana Hunter (Michael Joseph)

Short Story Dagger

“The Disappearance,” by Leigh Bardugo (from Marple; HarperCollins)
“The Tears of Venus,” by Victoria Dowd and Delilah Dowd (from Unlocked; The D20 Authors)
“The Beautiful Game,” by Sanjida Kay (from The Perfect Crime)
“Paradise Lost,” by Abir Mukherjee (from The Perfect Crime)
“Runaway Blues,” by C.J. Tudor (from A Sliver of Darkness, by C.J. Tudor; Michael Joseph)
“Cast a Long Shadow,” by Hazell Ward (from Cast a Long Shadow, edited by Katherine Stansfield and Caroline; Honno Welsh Women’s Press)

Best Crime & Mystery Dagger

Harper Fiction (HarperCollins)
Mantle (PanMacmillan)
Michael Joseph (Penguin Random House)
Pushkin Vertigo (Pushkin Press)
Quercus (Hachette)
Viper (Profile Books)

Debut Dagger

Bulldog Murphy, by Chris Corbett
Male, Unknown, by Chris Griffiths
Sideways, by Jeff Marsick
Heist, by James Pierson
The Line of Least Resistance, by Jeff Richards
Cradle of Storms, by Margaret Winslow

Dagger in the Library

Ben Aaronovitch
Sophie Hannah
Mick Herron