Thursday, August 31, 2023

Home, Sweet Home? Guest Post by R.J. Koreto

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." So begins Rebecca. The protagonist of my new Historic Homes mystery series, Wren Fontaine, is an architect who specializes in restoring historic homes. No Barbie dream house for her—since girlhood, her goal was to live in Manderley.

Wren knows better than anyone that houses have personalities and they must match the personalities of their owners. An introvert who has trouble reading people, Wren always wanted to live in a beautiful mansion, with beautiful rooms, all by herself.


In Wren's first mystery, The Greenleaf Murders, she is thrilled to land a job restoring a grand Gilded Age mansion. It's now falling apart, but Wren knows she can bring it back to its original glory. She can imagine herself as mistress of the house. But the home has a history of murder—which continues until the present—and she ruefully finds that such extraordinary homes always come with a high price.


In her next mystery, The Turnbull Murders, Wren gets to work on a Federal-style home from 1805, perfection itself in its proportions and design. It once provided a harmonious refuge for a sea captain after a hard life at sea. But a personal disaster stopped him from enjoying his retirement. Today, a movie star has purchased it, and Wren is restoring the home for him, so the actor can have a harmonious refuge from the L.A. crowds. But as a modern murder echoes an old tragedy, Wren realizes the house has long been the center of passionate emotions. The world changes, Wren is forced to conclude, but not homes. And not people.


What is your ideal home? What dream residence matches your personality? Perhaps you want a penthouse apartment with 10-foot windows, giving a view of the city at night. You imagine yourself as a Wall Street tycoon, a mover and shaker, and New York is yours.


Or maybe you want a cottage in the country, with a fireplace to keep the place warm in the winter, and red shutters on the outside. You are at peace with the world, while a golden retriever sleeps on the rug, and tomorrow you can go fishing.


Of course, the many fans of Downton Abbey would love to have a Gothic Revival house with a great hall that could seat 50 people for dinner. You're the Earl or Countess of Grantham, and your family crest is over the entranceway.


Or maybe ultra-modern is more to your taste, stone and wood and plenty of light. Your home becomes the center of a fashionable group, with famous artists and writers coming to your parties.


What would work for you? Have you asked yourself how you might adjust to the personality of your desired home? Wren has to ask herself that again and again, and keeps finding that homes are more complex than she realized once their residents are added. She understands the homes as an architect, but gradually she realizes she needs to grasp how they work with people. She must learn how to work with people herself. 


Fortunately, Wren gets a new perspective when romance enters her life, in the form of a client's cousin, the beautiful and extroverted Hadley Vanderwerf. Wren grows as an architect, but even more importantly, as a person. She gradually realizes that when it comes to murder, homes provide tantalizing clues but don't tell the whole story. One has to understand people too. 


Wren's dreams change over time. She finds herself spending more and more time in Hadley's tiny apartment. She gradually comes to a new realization: Homes are important, but what makes a house a home is less a matter of the architecture and more a matter of the people you share it with.


So let's get back to your dream home. As Wren finds—and as I realized as I wrote the novels—an ideal home is not just about how it’s built. It's about who lives there.


R.J. Koreto
, a writer and award-winning journalist, has published seven mystery novels. His latest books are in the Historic Homes series, featuring architect Wren Fontaine. He and his wife divide their time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha's Vineyard, Mass.




Monday, August 28, 2023

Meeting a Con Man Helped Me Become a Better Writer: Guest Post by Nev March

In the early 90s, my husband and I were new immigrants to the US. We had a small apartment and needed a couch. Simple enough, right? But cash was tight because I was a grad student, still years away from earning a salary. Seaman’s Furniture in Secaucus NJ had announced a thanksgiving day sale, with financing, so we went in and selected a couch.

The salesman was a tall dapper black man, very polished and disdainful, impeccably dressed, who left us with a long form to apply for store credit for the $600 sofa. Yeah, we were poor.
When we handed in the form, he wanted to see ID. I had no drivers license, so he asked for credit cards. At 24, and naïve, I handed him our credit cards. He asked for two more “proofs of Identification” and walked away to make copies. 
This was my only mistake.
In time the couch was delivered, and we made payments on it. Then to my horror, came the random charges on our credit cards. $400, $525, $800! $1200! 

These nearly maxed out our credit limits! We had no means to pay! Frantic, we disputed the charges and ordered new credit cards, but the churning in my gut kept me up at night. How had our credit card numbers got stolen? Who had access to our home? 

My husband and I went over our last month,  puzzling over this. Could the super have entered our apartment and stolen our mail? Could someone else have access to our mailbox? Then my husband remembered the smooth-talking salesman, who had such a lofty attitude, and talked down to me for not having a drivers license. 

I reported the credit card charges to the local Highland Park NJ police. A nice young policeman came by and took my statement. That was it.

Then, I decided to play detective.

Each of the fraudulent charges had come from “Essence by mail.” I called each credit card company and learned this was a mail order company. I obtained the confirmation number and dates of purchase. Then I called Essence by Mail and asked the puzzled representative, “Where did this item get delivered?”

“To your address.”

“Oh? Which address?”

“To Fred Robinson, at 121 Center Terrace, Newark NJ”

No, I have not changed the name or address for this article. Three decades later I still remember it. It’s not often you meet a con man!

Next, I turned over my investigation to the local police. The amused Seargent shuffled through the copies I’d made: The report of the incident, credit card statements with the fake charges encircled, my letter about the phone calls I’d made, and the conman’s address I had uncovered. 

He said, “Sure, I’ll file these. But it costs time to send someone over to Newark, time we don’t have.”

I stared at him. “So, you’ll do nothing?”

He shrugged. “You changed your credit cards, right? So that’s that.” 

Credit card fraud featured low on their priorities. But I now had a clear image of the villain of my story, the smooth featured arrogant salesman at Seaman’s Furniture who ripped off customers with such finesse. Hopefully he is now rotting in jail, but somehow, I doubt it.

Writers spend a great deal of time working through their protagonist’s mindset, their struggles, their reactions, their motivations. We reveal these in internal monologs, self-talk, observations that reveal character. 

In my debut novel, a worn-out mixed-race soldier invalids out of the British Indian army to investigate the suspicious deaths of two young women, and finds a welcome within his Parsi client’s family. Colonial India os a lush, vibrant setting, full of interesting cultural groups and conflicting agendas. As I wrote the draft of Murder in Old Bombay, I crafted a villainous duo, an arrogant princeling and his devious henchman. However, I struggled to understand their attitudes. How did they think? 

My experience at the furniture store gave me a sense of an antagonist’s perspective. How clearly I recall his manner, his demanding questions, his deriding attitude! From the behavior of that sneering salesman, I can deduce what likely went through his mind: Ah, a pair of kids. Indians just off the boat. Cool! Let’s see, what can I get out of them? They’re financing a paltry $600? Ok, so dirt poor. Excellent! They won’t have a clue what hit them. Let’s get all their cards, the morons. I need some fine new suits, a couple of nice vacations—aaah, Bahama, Cabo, here I come. Need new clothes for the trips! The new Essence by Mail catalog has some nice threads. Yummy!”

Con men, villains, criminals are intrinsically narcissistic, with an exaggerated opinion of their own intelligence. In her book The Singing Sands, the brilliant writer Josephine Tey puts her perspective through the words of her character Inspector Grant. “Vanity is incurable. You can never convince vanity that anyone else is of the slightest importance.”

Vanity is the singular hallmark of a sociopath: Only he or she matters; everyone else is relevant only in so much as they are useful to the sociopath. They are users of people, exploiters of weaker individuals, gleeful when they can take something without paying for it. 

Through my brush with that supercilious fraud, I had the recipe for the two villains in my first novel: an entitled wealthy nobleman who uses nationalist language to gain gullible followers, and a jealous sniveling coward who bites the hand that fed him. Both foul, vile creatures don the garb of respectability through displays of wealth and nationalism. Alas, vast numbers of people still fall for this posturing today, both in India and the United States. And yes, my experience with a con man was put to good use.

Born in Mumbai, India, Nev March is a writer of mystery and historical fiction. Writing short stories, poems and novels since the age of eleven, Nev has previously published stories in children’s magazines and won Writers Digest and Maryland Writers Association contests. With four completed manuscripts, she took a hiatus from writing fiction in order to raise her family while working full time. As a member of the small Zoroastrian community, she created a community oral history project to record the stories of Zoroastrian immigrants to North America. 

After a twenty year career as a data scientist, Nev returned to writing full time in 2015 to write the first draft of Murder in Old Bombay. Her manuscript won the 2019 Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Novel Award, which launched her writing career. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. The Spanish Diplomat's Secret comes out in September 2023.




Today is National Red Wine Day. I've posted many Chocolate and Wine recipes, but this is a favorite. You're going to love this perfect Chocolate Red Wine Bundt Cake! The taste will improve with good quality dry red wines and good quality cocoa.

Decorate this cake for the upcoming Labor Day Holiday:  Fill the center with whipped cream and top with strawberries and blueberries.


2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cup dry red wine
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°
Butter and flour 12-cup bundt pan.
In bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, using hand-held electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add eggs, one at time, and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla and beat about 2 more minutes.
Work in two batches, alternately fold in dry ingredients and wine, until just incorporated.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack; let cool completely.
Dust cake with confectioner's sugar.

Chocolate and Red Wine: A Great Pairing

Friday, August 25, 2023

KEEPING IT CLEAN: Guest post by Lev AC Rosen

One of the most fun parts of researching for Lavender House was the soap! Since the book is about a murder in the secretive and secluded estate of a 1950s family who runs a soap empire, I knew I had to do my research. Not just on vintage soap making techniques (both small batch and factory), but on the way soap was presented to the world – because that’s the face this family would have to put on, too.
We all love vintage ads – they’re funny, campy, and filled with retro style. But imagine living at that time and having to BE those ads. Especially when you had so much to hide. 


Soap was clean! And during the postwar period the ads tended to focus on either family, or being a clear-skinned woman to attract a man. (The wartime ads were much more focused on the idea of soap as smelling like home, and often veered into homoeroticism, with so many naked young men bathing together). 
I took a lot of inspiration for Lavender House from not just the classic noir films my parents raised me on, but these vintage soap ads. And often the two had a lot in common. For example, this wonderful Camay ad:
That opening is absolutely noir! The shadows she’s hiding in until the soap brings her “out of the shadows, into the light!” Of course, in the novel, the shadows aren’t mere bad skin, but something that the family can never reveal to the public. That’s why they need to hire the recently fired police inspector to solve the mystery. They have to keep hiding, and when they do step into the light, they make themselves into ads, keeping their real lives locked behind the gate of their estate.
And it wasn’t just soap ads I drew inspiration from!


What I think I found most interesting, looking at all these ads, watching these commercials, was how they’ve created an image of the 50s in the communal memory. I wasn’t around in the 50s, but when I picture them, I picture the ads, the TV. I don’t picture people like me back then, because we never showed up in the advertising, and the books and newspapers we did show up in have been papered over by images like these. We’ve been made the realm of innuendo, deniable and powerless. 


Which is why writing Lavender House was so important to me. Because though the ads may only allude to it, people like us did exist back then – even if we had to stick to the shadows. I wanted to bring history into the light. I think I did that in my book, but I knew that I had to go back to my original sources – these soap ads – and create something that showed us stepping out of those shadows. That poked fun at what these ads were. And which advertised the soap in the novel: Lamontaine. So I hired some friends, and did just that! The ad is by Colin Verdi and the commercial is by M. Florian Staab and stars Jes Bedwinek.
(or here: )
I think we did justice to both those old ads, and to who we are now. I hope so. This blog post is a lot like those ads, too – filled with innuendo, but never outright saying what I mean. But you and me, we know, don’t we? And if you don’t, you should read Lavender House to find out. Until then, happy washing, and see you at Bouchercon! 

Lev Rosen writes books for all ages, most recently YA archeological adventure Lion’s Legacy and Lambda and Anthony Awards and Macavity finalist Lavender House, which and was a Best Book of the Year from Buzzfeed, Library Journal, Amazon, Bookpage, and others. His prior novel, Campwas a best book of the year from Forbes, Elle, and The Today Show. His next book, The Bell in the Fog will be released in October, followed by YA rom-com Emmett in November. He lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat.


Thursday, August 24, 2023



Best Book of 2022 
Lynessa Layne / Target Acquired 
1st Runner Up Best Book of 2022 
Frank Runles / Lies People Tell: An FBI Agent’s Toolkit for Catching Liars and Cheats 

2nd Runner Up Best Book of 2022 
Rich Zahradnik / The Bone Records 

Best Action Adventure
Angela Greenman / The Child Riddler 

Best Comedy 
J. B. Manning / Richter the Mighty 

Best Cozy 
Lori Robbins / Murder in Third Position 

Best Historical 
Carmen Amato / Murder at the Galliano Club 

Best Investigator 
James L'Etoile / Dead Drop 

Best Juvenile / YA 
Elizabeth Bunce / In Myrtle Peril, a Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 

Best Literary 
Bruce Holsinger / The Displacements 

Best Mainstream / Commercial 
Katherine Faulkner / Greenwich Park 

Best Mystery 
Rich Zahradnik / The Bone Records 

Best Nonfiction 
Frank Runles / Lies People Tell: An FBI Agent's Toolkit for Catching Liars and Cheats  

Best Sci-fi / Fantasy 
Bryan Johnston / Death Warrant 

Best Short Story Collection/Anthology 
Lindy Ryan / Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga 

Best Southern Gothic 
Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor / River of Ashes 

Best Supernatural 
Jennifer McMahon / The Children on the Hill 

Best Suspense 
Lynessa Layne / Target Acquired 

Best Thriller 
Jeneva Rose / One of Us is Dead 

Best Western 
Terrence McCauley / Blood on the Trail

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER: In Theaters October 6!

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will release THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER exclusively in theaters on October 6, 2023

Watch the Official Trailer:


Directed by Neil Burger

Written by Elle Smith and Mark L. Smith
Based on the bestselling novel by Karen Dionne
Produced by Teddy Schwarzman, Keith Redmon, Mark L. Smith
Starring Daisy Ridley, Ben Mendelsohn, Garrett Hedlund, Caren Pistorius, Brooklynn Prince and Gil Birmingham
In the tense thriller The Marsh King’s Daughter, a woman with a secret past will venture into the wilderness she left behind to confront the most dangerous man she’s ever met: her father. In the film, Helena’s (Daisy Ridley) seemingly ordinary life hides a dark and dangerous truth: her estranged father is the infamous Marsh King (Ben Mendelsohn), the man who kept her and her mother captive in the wilderness for years. When her father escapes from prison, Helena will need to confront her past. Knowing that he will hunt for her and her family, Helena must find the strength to face her demons and outmaneuver the man who taught her everything she knows about surviving in the wild.

Official Site:

Monday, August 21, 2023

Update & New Call for Articles: Mystery Readers Journal: Animals in Mysteries

Two Issues in 2023 (39:3 & 39:4)

Animals in Mysteries (I & II) 

We had an overwhelming number of articles, author essays, and reviews for the Animals in Mysteries theme for Mystery Readers Journal that we needed to divide the material into two issues (Volume 39: 3 & 4). Thanks to all who contributed to these issues. Volume 39:3 will be out in October. This means that if you didn't send an article, you still have time. Deadline for Animals in Mysteries II is October 15. Send to: janet @ mysteryreaders. org 

Contributors: If your accepted article or review does not appear in #1, it will appear in #2. We have a limited number of space left in issue #2 for more articles, so if you want to send an author essay or article send it by October 15. Author essays are first person, about yourself, your books, and the "Animals in Mysteries" connection. Treat this author essay as if you're chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe or on Zoom about your work and the unique "Animal" connection in your mysteries. Add title and 2-3 sentence bio/tagline. Subject Line: Animals in Mysteries 

Deadline for Animal Mysteries II: October 15, 2023: Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor. janet @ mysteryreaders. org 


SUBSCRIBE TO MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL: 2023 (African Mysteries; Hobbies & Crafts in Mysteries; Animals in Mysteries I; Animals in Mysteries II.) 

Historical Mysteries I: Available as PDF or Hardcopy. 

Private Eyes I & Private Eyes II : Available as PDF or Hardcopy. 

Environmental Mysteries: Available as PDF or Hardcopy. 

Irish Mysteries: Available as PDF and Hardcopy. 

Senior Sleuths: Available as PDF or Hardcopy. 

Legal Mysteries: Available as PDF or Hardcopy. 

Call for Articles for 2023 (Volume 39): Animals in Mysteries II. 2024: Southern California in Mysteries (Volume 40). More themes to come. 

Have titles, articles or suggestions for these upcoming issues? Want to write an Author! Author! essay?email Janet Rudolph 


janet @ 

Left Coast Crime Convention: Seattle Shakedown.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

“You Too Can Become an Overnight Success … in Only 55 Years!” by Josh Pachter

On November 1, Genius Books will release my first novel, Dutch Threat, a whodunit set in a closed community in the heart of present-day Amsterdam. This will make me eligible for various Best First Novel awards in 2024 … and that’s just weird.

Because, you see, my first professional publication was a short story that appeared in the December 1968 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. That’s not a typo: December 1968, fully fifty-five years ago. Since then, I’ve sold more than a hundred stories to EQMM, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and many other periodicals and books, and collections of my short fiction have been published by Crippen & Landru and Wildside Press. In addition to my own tales, I’ve translated fifty stories from Dutch and other languages for publication in EQMM’s “Passport to Crime” department and elsewhere, and I’ve edited more than a dozen anthologies. My work has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and other awards, and in 2020 the Short Mystery Fiction Society honored me with its Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement.

But until now, I’ve never written a novel.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I began work on Dutch Threat more than twenty years ago, but with lots of other projects, parenthood, and a full-time job in academia keeping me busy, it’s been on the back burner for a very long time.

My daughter, Rebecca K. Jones, is now older than I was when she was born and well established in a life of her own. She practices law out in sweltering Phoenix, Arizona, and her second novel, Stemming the Tideis due from Bella Books in September. (The first one, Steadying the Ark, came out last fall and was a finalist for a Goldie Award in the Best Mystery category.) 

A year ago, soon after I retired from fifty years of teaching, my good friend David Dean—whose short fiction appears regularly in EQMM—signed a contract with Genius Books for three collections of his stories. Publisher Leya Booth asked him if there were other authors he’d recommend, and David very kindly suggested me. When Leya contacted me to ask if I might have a book I was looking to place, I proposed a novel I’d translated by Dutch crime writer René Appel, which was looking for a home. Leya read it and published it—and then I remembered Dutch Threat and asked her if she’d like to have a look. (Yes, I admit it: I actually forgot that I still had a novel of my own simmering on that back burner!)

So I finished Dutch Threat and sent it to Leya, and now it’s coming out at long last. I’ll be delighted to see it in print, and it’s tempting to say that my current plan is to write a novel every fifty-five years … but, oddly enough, I’ve got a chapter book for younger readers coming out from Level Best in February! It’s called First Week Free at the Roomy Toilet, and like Dutch Threat it’s something I’ve been tinkering with for a long time.

What this means is that, after more than half of century of short stories and anthologies but no novels, I now have two novels coming out from two different publishers within three months of each other!

Publishing’s an odd business, ain’t it?!
Josh Pachter is an author, editor, and translator of crime fiction. He taught film history and appreciation at the university level for fifty years, and now teaches as a volunteer at several programs for adult learners in Richmond, VA, where he lives with his wife Laurie.

Friday, August 18, 2023

PROFESSOR T: Season 2 on PBS

PROFESSOR T Season 2 premieres Sunday, September 3 at 8:00 p.m. ET and runs through October 15, across all PBS platforms in the US
(check local listings). 

Joining Ben Miller (Bridgerton) as Professor T and Frances de la Tour (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) as his mother is award winning actress Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply) as therapist Dr. Helena. 

WHEN: Sunday, September 3 at 8:00 p.m. ET 

WHERE: All PBS platforms, including PBS MASTERPIECE Prime Video 

MORE: Across six episodes, the Professor and the team untangle a series of knotty crimes ranging from an unexplained fire in a student block to the mystery of an entire family found dead in their home. From the blossoming affair between the two young detectives, Lisa and Dan, to the start of an exciting new liaison for Police chief DCI Christina Brand, nothing is quite what it seems. Meanwhile, Professor T is dominated and perplexed by the women in his life. As he attempts to improve his relationships with everyone from his mother to the love of his life Christina, he takes the monumental step of seeing a therapist. His sessions with Dr. Helena are painful for the Professor and his mother as they delve deep into his past and chip away at the secrets of his childhood. 


Thursday, August 17, 2023

THRIFT STORE MYSTERIES: National Thrift Store Day!

So last Saturday was National Garage Sale Day, and I posted a list of Garage Sale, Estate Sale, and Flea Market Mysteries. I did not include Thrift Stores, and it's a good thing I didn't because who knew that today would be Thrift Store Day! I used to frequent Thrift Stores much more -- Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul's, and smaller independent thrift stores, but I've found there just aren't as many any more, at least not in my area. I know that many thrift stores sell their items on-line, too. Still, it's always fun to find a 'treasure' in a thrift store. Thrift Shops are also great places to find rare books--or just a book to read. And, as we all know, one person's trash is another person's treasure. It could be yours!  

Many Thrift Shops are also known as Charity Shops, and I always like to donate as well as buy. Still, smaller towns tend to have more thrift shops. I do have a favorite in the town of Sonoma, CA: The Church Mouse. I always find something there. So here's a list of Thrift Store Mysteries. Please let me know if I've missed any. It's not a long list, but it certainly complements my Garage Sale Mystery List. Happy Thrifting!

Thrift Store Mysteries

The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland
Dead Man Walker; Iced Chiffon; Killer in Crinolines; Pearls and Poison;, Demise in Denim; Lethal in Old Lace; Wedding Day and Foul Play by Duffy Brown
To Spite Her Face by Hildegarde Dolson
Mrs Pettigrew Sees a Ghost; Mr Wilmott Gets Old School; Miss Hawthorne Sits for a Spell by Katherine Hayton
Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End by Hazel Holt
The Ghost and I Mystery by Greg Kauffman-Starkey
A Donated Death; The Handmade Hoax; The Tagged Tragedy;The Vintage Vendetta; An Antique Alibi; The Kitsch Killer by Mel Morgan
Gertrude, Gumshoe: Murder at the Thrift Store by R. E. Merrill
The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan
Dark and Dastardly Deeds; Forging Ahead by Dr. Sydney J. Smart
The Charity Shop Murders by Wat Taylor
A Witch's Thrift Shop Mysteries (5 books) by Astoria Wright

Black Cat Appreciation Day

Black Cats auditioning in Hollywood. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

INTERROGATION: Courtroom Dramas on the Stage -- Guest Post by Amnon Kabatchnik

While many books have been published about courtroom fiction in film and on television, the topic of stage courtrooms has been largely ignored. In order to fill the void, I penned  Courtroom Dramas on the Stage Volume I and Courtroom Dramas on the Stage Volume II, both published recently by BearManor Media. 

Volume I deals with trial plays produced in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan era, early America, and beyond. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Pierre Corneille, Lord Byron, and Nikolas Gogol are among the playwrights represented.

In Volume II, I concentrated on trial plays mounted  during  the twentieth century. The first decade featured notable dramas by Leo Tolstoy (The Living Corpse, Russia, 1900), Alexander Bisson (Madame X, France, 1908), and John Galsworthy (Justice, England, 1910). The trend continued with authors of the main stream writing plays populated with judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, jurors, witnesses, and the accused, often charged with murder in the first degree. Elmer Rice, Ayn Rand, Ernst Toller,  W. Somerset Maugham, Richard Wright, Maxwell Anderson, and Arthur Miller, Herman Wouk, Jean Genet, Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, William Saroyan, James Baldwin, Terence Rattigan, Jeffrey Archer, Aaron Sorkin, others. 

Veteran mystery writers joined the fray, concocting courtroom melodramas. Among them were Gaston Leroux (TheMystery of the Yellow Room, 1912), A.E.W. Mason (No Other Tiger, 1928), Agatha Christie (Witness for theProsecution, 1953), and Henry Cecil (Settled Out of Court, 1960).
 Both volume I and volume II present the trial plays chronologically, including a plot synopsis, production data, opinions by critics and scholars,  as well as biographical sketches of playwrights and key actors-directors.

Following are several tidbits of plays that feature an Interrogation by the authorities which may or not lead to indictment and trial.

Oedipus the King (429 B.C.) by Sophocles is the first known play to introduce the motif of crime and punishment, and the step-by-step investigation of a murder by interrogating witnesses. The city of Thebes is afflicted with a terrible pestilence and the  priests decree that salvation can only occur by learning who had killed the former king, Laius, who apparently has been murdered by a band of highwaymen. King Oedipus undertakes to solve the case by summoning and questioning palace attendants, shepherds, and priests.

The Victorian melodrama The Courier of Lyons (1854), by Charles Reade, is based on an actual robbery-and-murder that took place in France in 1796. An innocent man is accused of multiple homicides committed during a mail heist until a judge draws the confession of a look-like culprit.  Victorien Sardou's play La Tosca (1887), written as a star vehicle for the famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt, unfolds in Rome of 1800. Through a cross examination, Scarpia, chief of the secret police, an early, perhaps the first of sadistic, lecherous police chieftains seen on stage, breaks the resistance of the opera singer Floria Tosca to find out the hiding place of an escaped Republican leader. 

"Innocent until proven guilty" is the ruling principle of the American judicial system. But in The Third 
 Degree (1909), playwright Charles Klein spotlights a perversion of this precept. Howard Jeffries, an unhappy young man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, confesses to murder after enduring a "third-degree" questioning.  Adapted by Sidney Kingsley from an Arthur Koestler novel, the grim action of Darkness at Noon (1951) is confined to a Russian prison, where one of the inmates, a Communist commissar, is grilled to admit that he had been part of a plot to assassinate a political leader. The Prisoner (1954), by Bridget Boland, unfolds in a gloomy set divided into an interrogation room and a prison cell. A battle of wits develops between an interrogator who represents a totalitarian government and a Cardinal considered a national leader. A Shot in the Dark (1961), by Frenchman Marcel Achard, introduces a young, idealistic magistrate who is assigned his first case -- seemingly a cut-and dried murder -- and faces a prime suspect, a sexy maid who was found unconscious, nude, and clutching a gun alongside her dead lover, the chauffeur.

In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1964), by Germany's Heinar Kipphardt, goes back to the hysterical era of McCarthyism when in 1954 J. Robert Oppenheimer, "the father of the atomic bomb," was summoned to a congressional hearing regarding his security clearance.  In Agnes of God (1980) by John Pielmeier, a court-appointed psychiatrist is assigned to determine the sanity of a young nun accused of strangling her own newly born baby with its umbilical cord.  Ariel Dorfman's Death of a Maiden (1991) is the story of Pauline Salas, a married South American lady, who recognizes in a guest house, Doctor Roberto Mirnada, the man she believes raped and tortured her fifteen years earlier as she lay blindfolded in a military detention center. Pauline slips into Roberto's bedroom, hits him with a blunt instrument, binds him to a chair, and gags him with her panties. Then, at gun point, she orders her shocked husband to serve as the doctor's defense attorney in "a trial."

In addition to the section about interrogations, the two volumes of Courtroom Dramas on the Stage contain chapters about Lawyers and judges out of court, trials that occur off stage, and jury room plays.

Amnon Kabatchnik, now retired, was a professor of theater at SUNY Binghamton, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Florida State University, and Elmira College. He directed numerous dramas, comedies, thrillers, and musicals in New York and across the United States. He is the author of Sherlock Holmes on the Stage as well as the seven-volume series Blood on the Stage.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023


 premieres Monday, September 18, on AcornTV with a new episode weekly on Mondays. 4 episodes total.

Mrs. Sidhu (Meera Syal, The Split) is a high-end caterer with her own Indian Aunty brand of crime solving AKA nosiness.

Recently widowed, she juggles her new catering business with encouraging her wayward son Tez (Gurjeet Singh, Ackley Bridge) to find his passion, all while serving up justice to those who believe they are above the law. Her forays into sleuthing see her form unofficial partnership with long-suffering divorcee DCI Burton (Craig Parkinson, Line of Duty) who reluctantly accepts that together they’re an unbeatable crime fighting duo, much to the bemusement of his partner, DS Mint (Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Industry).

Saturday, August 12, 2023


Today is National Garage Sale Day. I'm an avid Garage Sale, Flea Market, and Estate Sale goer. I don't need a special holiday for Garage Sales, but since today is National Garage Sale Day, I thought I'd post a list of Flea Market, Garage Sale, and Estates Sale mysteries.  
My all time favorite Flea Market is the Alameda Flea Market. It can't be beat for a spectacular view of San Francisco, either. The Flea Market is located on the old Alameda Navy Base and is surrounded by the Bay and estuary. It's a stunning place to spend the first Sunday of every month! The Flea Market is about 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. My health app tells me I usually walk 5+ miles when I'm there. Going to the Flea Market is like visiting a museum filled with treasures.

Other Flea Markets I like: When I'm in London, I always go to Portobello Road. Not sure I'd call Portobello Road a flea market, but I've been there early on a Saturday morning when the stalls are setting up. Some great finds. I adore the Paris Flea Markets, too, and I have many treasures from there, including a huge hand-knit rabbit, Pierre, whom I carried all over Europe one summer. I love
flea markets, estate sales, yard sales, boot sales, garage sales, jumble sales, and collectible shows
. I also won't turn my nose up at a dumpster. Lots of treasures to be found.

So it should come as no surprise that I enjoy reading mysteries with flea market, boot sale, picker, and garage sale themes. I've posted a list before, but this is an update. Some of the books in the following list do not focus as much on the 'flea market' as an item found at a flea market, that becomes the springboard for the story. And an FYI: Flea markets and garage sales are great places to find mysteries and crime novels at great prices.


The Flea Market by Randal Adam

Antiques Flee Market by Barbara Allan
Savannah Blues, Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews
Flea Market Fatal by Brianna Bates
The Flea Market Folly by B.J. Belekis
Mobbed by Carol Higgins Clark

Murder at the Estate Sale by Lily Charles
Death is a Bargain by Nora Charles 
Mrs McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie
The Unraveling of Violeta Bell by C.R. Corwin
Wig Betrayed by Charles Courtley
Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn
Never Tell a Lie; Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron
The Flea Market Mystery by Virginia Besaw Evansen

Flea Market Magic by Bella Falls
Buried Stuff, Dead Guy's Stuff, The Wrong Stuff by Sharon Fiffer
The Toyotomi Blades by Dale Furutani
Daisy Summerfield's Art: The Complete Flea Market Mysteries by M. B. Goffstein

Tight as a Tick by Toni L.P. Kelner
Killer Stuff, Dead Guy's Stuff, The Wrong Stuff, Buried Stuff by Sharon Fiffer 
The Emma Chizzit Mysteries (several titles starting with Emma Chizzit and...) by Mary Bowen Hall
First Monday Murder by Lisa Love Harris
Tagged for Death, A Good Day to Buy, All Murders Final!, The Longest Yard Sale; I Know What You Bid Last Summer; The Gun Also Rises; Let's Fake a Deal; Sell Low, Sweet Harriet; Absence of Alice by Sherry Harris 

Something to Kill For by Susan Holtzer
Unidentifed Woman #15 by David Housewright
Another Man's Treasure; Treasure of Darkness; This Bitter Treasure; Treasure Borrowed and Blue, and more by S.W. Hubbard
Estate Sale Murders: Dead Man's Diary by Ken Hudnall
A Dress to Die For by Dolores Johnson
The Executor by Jesse Kellerman

Double Dealer by Barbara Taylor McCafferty & Beverly Taylor Herald
Resolution by Denise Mina
Leave a Message for Willie by Marcia Muller
Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pineiro
Murder, by George by Jeanne Quigley
Next Week Will Be Better by Jean Ruryk

Flea Market Felony by Tricia L. Sanders
Murder of a Smart Cookie by Denise Swanson
Garage Sale Stalker; Garage Sale Diamonds; Garage Sale Riddle by Suzi Weinert

YA:  The Flea Market Mystery by Virginia Besaw Evansen

Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy is an antiques dealer, but he employs a wonderful picker, so I should probably include his books on this list. He and his sidekick do a lot of foraging at sales and stalls looking for valuable antiques.

There is definitely a difference between Flea Markets and Antique Shops, but often the same characters inhabit both worlds. If I put together a list of Antique Mysteries, I'll certainly include books by Jane Cleland, Anthony Oliver, Lea Wait, Tamar Myers,Trish Essen,  and many others.

Mystery Readers Journal has had several issues focusing on Art & Antiques Mysteries. Have a look at the Tables of Contents: HERE and HERE.

Read Trish Essen's essay Flea Market Cons and Other Slippery Shenanigans on CrimeReads.

Friday, August 11, 2023

LEWIS: Now on BritBox

Update 8/15: I forgot to mention that all seasons of Lewis are also available on PBS Passport and Prime Masterpiece. So you can watch there if you don't have Britbox. 

Britbox has added Lewis (2006-2015) to its August line-up. It's a great series, and if you missed it, you're in for a treat. I'm going to rewatch. The triumvirate... Morse, Lewis, and Endeavor, well three incarnations of the show, two people. All three are great series.

Lewis was the first spin-off from the Morse tv series. It picks up five years after Morse's death. Kevin Whately plays Lewis, Morse's former sidekick, is now a DI and his sidekick is DS James Hathaway. Lewis and Hathaway solve complex murder cases, often involving Oxford's academic community. The show mixes traditional procedure with the characters' personal lives, as well as  Oxford's rich history and culture.

Lewis is more of a traditional, working-class detective. Hathaway is a Cambridge-educated man who left seminary training to join the police force. This difference in background and approach creates a dynamic relationship between the two.

Let me know what you think. Happy Viewing!