Thursday, November 30, 2023

SLOW HORSES, SEASON 3: November 29

Slow Horses, Season 3, based on Mick Herron's Slough House mysteries, debuted last night, November 29, on Apple TV+. 

Gary Oldman plays Jackson Lamb, the unpleasant dissolved head of a group of dejected British spies. His band of spooks are called Slow Horses because they've messed up their careers in a variety of ways. Lamb always reinforces their failures. 

Read the Review on NPR

I missed the first episode of Season 3 because I was watching the first episode of Shetland, Season 8. So many great seasons premiering this month and next. 

I highly recommend you read Mick Herron's Slough Mysteries. They're great. Terrific writing, fabulous characters, and great plots. Read them in order. 

Let me know what you think of Slow Horses, the TV series.

Real Rembrandt Art Theft in a New Detective Yarn: An Interview by Janet Stilson With Larry Maness, Author of ‘The Perfect Crime’

There’s a splendid building in the heart of Boston that’s haunted by a tragic loss. The elegant Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is home to a collection of more than 7,500 pieces of precious art. If you follow art news or events around Boston, then you may recall the burglary that took place there in 1990, which has never been solved. The 13 stolen works of art, 11 of which are paintings, have a value of $500 million and include works by Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer. Empty frames, where stolen paintings once hung, appear like ghosts on the walls.

This provided lots of creative fodder for the writer Larry Maness, who based his recently released mystery novel, The Perfect Crime: Unmasking the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist, on the theft. The captivating tale blends together actual known facts about the Gardner heist, various suspicions, and dark deeds that are purely imagined. Maness seems to have the mental abilities of a master criminal or conspiracy theorist — keeping his readers guessing about where the art might be located and who’s behind the crime until the end.

The Perfect Crime: Unmasking the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist features a fictional detective named Theo Perdoux, who’s a former Boston cop. This is the second time Perdoux has shown up in a Maness novel. The first book in the series, The Last Perdoux, is equally as engrossing and delves into another real mystery: the disappearance of masterpieces stolen by Nazis during World War II.

After reading both books, I had to wonder what parts of the Perdoux mysteries are real, and what parts Maness made up. So I got in touch with him. In the following interview, he supplies some answers and discusses other sources of inspiration, including travels through Italy, where both books are largely set. He also drops a clue about what real-life mystery could be the basis of the next Perdoux novel that he writes.

Why did you decide to center your most recent book on the Gardner art heist? There has to be a lot of mysteries out there worthy of your attention.

“Why has no one claimed the $10 million reward offered by the Gardner Museum for the return of the stolen items?” That question prompted me to consider possibilities for a novel. What really did the robbers want? If not a hefty reward, did a collector want specific masterpieces for his private collection? Or, as some suggest, were the stolen pieces to be used as a bargaining chip to get a master criminal out of prison? My novel explores these options. In the end, it also explains why the reward has never been claimed.

Can you give me some examples of what you included in the novel that’s actually known about the Gardner robbery and what you imagined? For example, was there someone who came to the museum posing as a well-known violin craftsman who was “casing” the artworks that were eventually stolen? Were any of the museum guards suspect?

To answer your last question first, yes, Gardner Museum guards were considered suspects. They did break protocol and let the robbers into the museum. Both guards claimed their innocence. No charges were ever brought.

Once inside, the two robbers dressed as Boston policemen and cut Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert from their frames. They collected nine other [paintings] before leaving the museum never to be seen again.

In my novel, The Perfect Crime, I build on the fact that the stolen items have never been found and that the thieves have never been caught. To construct my plot, I created a character who comes to the museum with the stated purpose of repairing the famous Cavelli guitar. His real purpose is far different and leads to the robbery.

What happens to the artwork after the robbery is a major theme of my novel. It is that theme that takes the reader to Rome where most of the novel takes place.

Did you receive any push-back from the museum, or any reaction from it at all, as you were writing or after the book was published?


Larry Maness at work, and the Gardner Museum’s courtyard. Photo Sources: Larry Maness and (for the courtyard) Jen Shishmanian on Unsplash

In your first novel in the series, The Last Perdoux, you explore a mystery that involves art stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Was there a certain moment in time when you had an ah-ha moment, realizing that it was fertile ground to explore in a book — and fertile ground for a book series that uses stolen art as a binding theme?


What first captured my attention was how easily a man’s life can be upended. Stolen artwork was an added element.

The idea for creating Theo Perdoux, a man with a fascinating past he knew nothing about since he had been adopted, came from a true story I read about in a newspaper. It seems a middle-aged man from Boston was located by a Spanish attorney with news that his biological mother had recently died in Barcelona. She left him her art collection in her will. The news overwhelmed this man and upended his life in various ways. Most of those ways were not pleasant.

In The Last Perdoux, I explore how a life can be upended when one learns that he comes from a famous Paris art collecting family whose collection was stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Theo’s mother spent her life hunting for the family’s stolen artwork. Her will demands that Theo take up the cause as the last Perdoux.

Complexities in the novel are achieved by Theo’s need to find his family’s stolen collection intertwined with his need to find out more about his biological family. As with the man I read about in the newspaper, what Theo learns is not always pleasant. For example, what was his mother’s shame that forced her to give Theo away? Who was Theo’s father? Was he still alive? Theo digs deep into his past to learn those answers.

Is there art stolen by the Nazis that still has yet to be recovered?

The Nazis plundered thousands of pieces of art. Heirs to many of those collections are even now trying to reclaim from museums and private collections what was stolen. Proving ownership is not easy. The process can take years.

What complicates the issue is that museums and private collectors often believe that their purchases were legitimate. In other words, they didn’t believe they were buying stolen merchandise. As a consequence, they are reluctant to give the pieces back. Enter the courts.

One of the aspects of both books that I love are its locations. The majority of the action in both books takes place in various parts of Italy. Can you tell me a little about your travels there, and the creative “seeds” it planted in your mind?

My first trip to Rome was for the production of one of my plays. I stayed for six months, living in an apartment overlooking the Spanish Steps. Years later, my wife and I rented a house in a small hilltop village for four months in Liguria, an area between Nice and Genoa. Fewer than 400 people lived in the village. A Catholic church sat at one end, a small market at the other. In the middle was a simple café. It was the perfect, remote location to use as the setting for The Last Perdoux.

A few years later, we rented a house back in Rome for several months. During that trip, the idea of The Perfect Crime came to me. On one corner not far from our house near the Campo di Fiori was the small shop of a famous violin maker. That shop and its proprietor form the basis for Aldo Conti, the violin maker in The Perfect Crime.

For readers who’ve never been to Italy, I try to provide a sense of what a wonderful country it is. For those who have been, I hope the locations I use in my plots resonate.

There’s an arch nemesis in both books — a mysterious Nazi whose whereabouts is largely unknown, except for the unexpected moments when he surfaces. And the man, Wilhelm Barr, is also the protagonist’s father. Is he based on any historical figures in particular?

Not specifically, Wilhelm Barr is an amalgam, a mixture of characteristics from various figures. I don’t read a lot of fiction. Most of my reading is biography and history. Researching The Perfect Crime, I read several books on Nazi Germany. Barr’s creation was no doubt influenced by that reading, but he isn’t based on one specific historical figure.

Did you base the character traits of the detective Theo Perdoux on any people in particular?

Theo is pure fiction. I wanted him to have characteristics that readers admire and expect in protagonists. As a consequence, Theo is intelligent, inquisitive, tough enough to survive, and determined. He is divorced. His business partner in Sala Ponte, a combination art gallery and art reclamation service, is Gina Ponte, a happily married lesbian.

In “The Perfect Crime” one of the characters is named Marianna. Immediately, I was struck by how closely that resembles your wife’s name, Marianne. Do you often pick names of people you know as a way of delving more deeply into the characters you write?

I did model Marianna on my wife, Marianne. She has appeared in all of my novels, not always identified by name. Creating believable characters is the key to a successful novel. Painters rely on models; writers do as well.

As far as selecting names, I don’t often use names of people I know. I once made the exception and used the names of a brother and sister who ran the coffee shop near me in Cambridge. They were delighted and gave me free coffee for a week.

Have you pinpointed the next mystery that you want Theo Perdoux to solve?

I am researching now an idea involving Thomas Jefferson. All of my six previous novels have had some connection to an historical event. Jefferson’s life is full of historical events. In addition, he was an avid collector.

Whether or not there is a novel in any of my research, it’s too soon to tell. If not, I’ll move on to something else. I have a folder full of ideas.

***
Larry Maness is the author of two books of plays and six novels (the last of which was published in 2023). 3 Plays was introduced by Pulitzer prize-winner, William Inge. His plays War Rabbit and Bailey both premiered in New York City at The American Theatre of Actors. His first novel, Nantucket Revenge, is called “The best beach read since Jaws” according to Florida Crime Writers author Steve Glassman. His second novel, A Once Perfect Place, is included in the Literature of Social Change collection at Duke University. Strangler, his third novel featuring Private Investigator Jake Eaton, is a Detective Book Club selection. The Voice of God, his fourth novel, is called by Rosemary Herbert, author of The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing, “an assured production that snares the reader from start to finish.”  And, of course, there are the two novels featured in the interview above. Maness lives on the south shore of Massachusetts with his wife, Marianne, known as “The Cookie Lady” in some parts of the world.


Janet Stilson writes sci-fi fiction that's shot through with suspense. Her novel about the future of media and mind control, The Juice, received rave reviews, and is based on her work as a journalist. Janet is the winner of the Writers’ Lab for Women competition,sponsored by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.

***

This interview was originally posted on Medium by Janet Stilson. Reprinted with permission. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Tim Dorsey: R.I.P.

Tim Dorsey
, author of the Serge A. Storms mystery series about an
 ingenious serial killer and fan of Florida history, died Sunday, at the age of 62. Tim published 26 novels, filled with crazy zany "Florida" people and stories. 

Tim Dorsey was a reporter and editor for the Tampa Tribune from 1987 to 1999, and was the author of: Tropic of StupidNaked Came the Florida Man, No Sunscreen for the Dead, Pope of Palm Beach, Clownfish Blues, Coconut Cowboy, Shark Skin Suite, Tiger Shrimp Tango, The Riptide Ultra-Glide, When Elves Attack, Pineapple Grenade, Electric Barracuda, Gator A-Go-Go, Nuclear Jellyfish, Atomic Lobster, Hurricane Punch, The Big Bamboo, Torpedo Juice, Cadillac Beach, The Stingray Shuffle, Triggerfish Twist, Orange Crush, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Mermaid Confidential, Naked Florida Man, and Florida Roadkill.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Randy Wayne White,  a friend and fellow Florida author, said

“When he started writing a series about an insane serial killer, I thought, how long can that bulls--t go on?
“But he wrote about every nook and cranny of Florida. He colonized it. That will last. He was not a haphazard researcher; he was a field historian. Plus the books are freaking hilarious,” White said. “Humor plus history — that’s a winning combination.”

In interviews, Dorsey credited his journalism career as a rich source for his fiction, providing both his encyclopedic knowledge of Florida lore and his familiarity with bizarre crimes. He was a political reporter, copy editor and night metro editor at the Tribune before leaving in 1999, one day after his first book was published.

While writing that first novel, Florida Roadkill, Dorsey originally created Serge Storms as a James Bond-style villain — and killed him off.

In a 2022 interview, Dorsey said, “After (Serge’s) second rant, it was a revelation: This is the main character. I could see where I needed to go — adjust my coordinates. So in the second draft, I made him the main guy. “Luckily, I said to myself, ‘Don’t kill him off. You’re going to need this guy.’”


Don Bruns, another great Florida mystery writer, wrote on his FaceBook page: 

Tim Dorsey wrote about a chaotic backstory of Florida, using serial killer Serge Storms as his vehicle/protagonist. The Tampa based novelist, the author of twenty-six novels passed away at age sixty-two in Islamorada.
 
Tim was a friend, a comrade who once asked me if he could use part of one of my novels as a source for one of his.
 
Dorsey explored dive bars…one being the Crescent Club on Siesta Key. His protagonist drove through the underbelly of Florida in a Firebird Trans am and found unique ways to kill, murder, mutilate and destroy the bad guys.
 
Tim was first a journalist with the Tampa Bay paper…then took the crime writing to a new…fictional level.
 
He was down to earth, funny both in his personal and literary life. When I wrote Stuff To Spy For, I asked him to read the novel. He asked me if he could blurb the book and of course I said yes. His review was as follows.
 
“This is the stuff of side-aching laughs: Hiaasen meets grown-up Spy Kids. With another winner under his belt, Bruns has proven he’s definitely got Florida down for the count.”
 
Tim once told me that he was stopped by a highway patrol officer who informed him he was doing ninety in a sixty speed zone. When the officer saw his license, he smiled and said…”Serge, slow down and keep it close to the limit, okay?”
 
Tim Dorsey’s writings were famous and did a lot more for readers merriment than just keep him out of a speeding ticket.
 
RIP, buddy. We will miss you.




Please leave comments and condolences in the comment section. Sad news, indeed.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

SHETLAND, SEASON 8 NEWS!

 


SHETLAND, SEASON 8, NEWS! The season starts in the U.S.
 tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 29 on Britbox. Yay! 



Shetland, Season 8, stars Ashley Jensen as the lead following the departure of Douglas Henshall. 

There will be six episodes, starting on November 29, and drops an episode once-a-week for a total of six weeks. Six Episodes is not enough for me, but I'll take it. Can't wait!!

From WhatToWatch

Ashley Jensen taking over as the island's top cop following the departure of Douglas Hensall as DI Jimmy Perez.

Shetland will have a new feel as Ashely's DI Ruth Calder will be teaming up with long-standing series regular DS Alison "Tosh" McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell). 

The plot will see Calder heading back to her native Shetland to protect a vulnerable witness to a gangland murder. But can Calder and Tosh find the witness in time? And how will the pair work together, especially given Calder's hostility towards Shetland?

Talking about joining the team, Ashley said when she was cast: "I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Shetland as DI Ruth Calder. It's such a hugely successful show and I am aware I have very big boots to fill since the departure of DI Perez, who was very much loved by fans of the show.

"There will be a different dynamic with Ruth amongst the regular characters and a few more new interesting characters to enjoy. However, the integrity of the show and the world that has been created will remain very much in the same tone as the last seven seasons. It's a real privilege to be asked to lead this show into a new chapter. I can’t wait to be working in Scotland again. I have missed it!”

Also joining the cast are Phyllis Logan (GuiltDowntown Abbey), Jamie Sives (GuiltAnnika), Dawn Steele (Holby CityGranite Harbour), Don Gilet (EastEndersSherwood), Ann Louise Ross (River CityKatie Morag) and Lorraine McIntosh (OutlanderMy Name is Joe). The guest cast will star alongside series regulars including Steven Robertson (playing DC Sandy Wilson), Lewis Howden (Sgt Billy McCabe), Anne Kidd (Cora McLean), Angus Miller (Donnie), Conor McCarry (PC Alex Grant) and Eubha Akilade (PC Lorna Burns).

Books That Inspired Me as an Author and Journalist: Guest Post by Peg Tyre

I am always attracted to writing that deals frankly and in an unvarnished way with what it means to be human. I am compelled by characters who have lofty dreams, and who are rocked by dreams dashed. I like characters who understand the madness and the glory of it all but don’t hide the gristle. I like characters with a certain level of alienation. 

Characters like this keep me tethered to the world. I recognize them like my long lost sisters and brothers. I think we would understand each other in real life– which is a crazy and somewhat nightmarish notion, really. Imagine meeting fiction characters in real life. We like them because they surprise us, and sometimes not in a good way. Probably best to keep them within the pages of a book, or trapped in your Kindle. 

Strange as it may seem, the best in class for this, to me, and one who first inspired me as a writer, is Edith Wharton, a 19th century novelist of manners. She did not write crime novels. She wrote largely about New York’s elite but the heart of her books are as black, hard and unflinching as history books about the scourges of war. She knew her crowd. She knew that money, and the comfort money brings, meant everything to them. She wasn’t afraid to write about that. 

On the other side of the socio-economic spectrum and forward in time 80 years, sits Pete Dexter’s books, especially his first and unsung book, God’s Pocket, which most people have forgotten about I guess, but is worth a read. In the way that Edith Wharton wrote about the sustaining and corrosive effect of money, Dexter wrote about the impact of violence. And trying to understand violence was a task laid on me when I was pretty young. Later, when I became a crime reporter for a New York City daily newspaper, I made it my profession. The genius of that book, to me, is that it captures the hum of danger that exists just under the surface of so many lives, especially among people who haven’t had a lot of advantages. Being attuned to that hum is an element I tried to capture in my first novel, Strangers in the Night, which I am delighted to say is being republished by Dead Sky Publishing. My paying job at that time was trying to understand violence – where it comes from, how it is expressed, what the impact is on a person, a family, a community and a city. Crazy as it sounds, day to day, I drove my big baby blue third hand Ford Fairmont to crime scenes– homicides mostly – and tried to piece together what went down there as best I could. Then drove to a newsroom and wrote a story that could well be the front page the next morning. Then I went home at night and wrote Strangers. Dexter, whose book Paris Trout won a National Book Award, was a journalist first, and then a novelist. His books and his career gave me a lot of hope. 

The author who blew me away, though, and made me try to write better was John William who wrote the actual Great American Novel called Stoner. I knew I could never write with anything like William’s power, and emotional precision, or ruthlessness. Honestly, Williams sets the goalposts so high. For the squeamish among you, who are revolted by Dexter, be assured, there is absolutely no violence in it, beyond the slow inexorable crushing of a human spirit. Brutal. It is about coming to terms with what is, and the struggle of amor fati or loving your fate. And that, of course, is the story contained in every essay, novel or work of journalism you’ll probably ever read, or write. 

When I was writing this book, I was inspired by a lot of my colleagues too– hard bitten hacks who were funny, cutting and vulgar and could write paragraphs with enough poetry in them to make you weep. Back then, before the newspaper business cratered, there was a whole tribe of people in Brooklyn, Upper Manhattan, Queens and Hoboken, who made their living in the writing life. Authors, editors, newspaper people, magazine writers. Every one of us hustled to make a living, Except for an heir or two gone bad, it wasn’t a tony crowd. We worked too hard. We dressed like slobs. We didn’t sleep much. We did battle with our limitations at the keyboard and when we prayed, oh we prayed to be able to express it better – to have our words reach out and touch others. We talked about books like sports teams –haters and devoted fans could argue for an hour. It wasn’t all great. The drinking– ugh. And we had a bit of reverse snobbishness. When the few that had trust funds, or pedigrees or higher aspirations got out early and moved to the suburbs and found something easier to do, we all sort of nodded. Figures, we scoffed. I’m a bit embarrassed about that now. The men were characters, and to be honest, sometimes a bit limited. (In general, too much drinking doesn’t tend to make you a very nice person.) But the women in that tribe were something else: fierce, ambitious and brave. We came from all walks of life and many ethnicities. We were daughters, mothers, sisters. We could talk to anyone, anywhere and often did. We had a strange sort of sorority, goading each other on, bringing each other into interesting projects, or sharing ideas. I tried to capture that life in Strangers in the Night. I’m glad I did. We were there to tell the stories that poured in on us from every neighborhood, precinct, and parish. We thought it would last forever but of course, it’s gone now. My book is a window into that time. 

***

Peg Tyre, the bestselling author of THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS, was, until recently, a senior writer at Newsweek specializing in social trends and education. She has won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, a Clarion Award, and a National Education Writers Association Award. She lives in New York City with her husband, novelist Peter Blauner, and their two sons. Her novel, STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT, was recently re-released by Dead Sky Publishing. Connect with Peg at pegtyre.com.

Cartoon of the Day: The Novel

 

Monday, November 27, 2023

REACHER, SEASON 2, December 15

Welcome back, Reacher. Reacher, Series 2, premieres December 15 on Amazon Prime Video. This season is an adaptation of Lee Child's Bad Luck and Trouble (#11 in the series).  

I love this show. Great casting, fabulous acting, terrific plot and action! If you haven't watched the show, start with Season 1. It's still available on Prime Video. 

The first three episodes of Reacher, Season 2, will premiere on Prime Video on December 15, 2023. The remaining five episodes will stream on Prime Video every Friday, with the finale streaming on January 19, 2024. I like to binge, so this will be difficult. I hate waiting.

The official description for Season 2: 

“‘Reacher’ Season Two begins when veteran military police investigator Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) receives a coded message that the members of his former U.S. Army unit, the 110th MP Special Investigations, are being mysteriously and brutally murdered one by one. 

Pulled from his drifter lifestyle, Reacher reunites with three of his former teammates turned chosen family to investigate, including Frances Neagley (Maria Sten); Karla Dixon (Serinda Swan), a forensic accountant for whom Reacher has long had a soft spot; and fast-talking, switchblade-wielding family man David O’Donnell (Shaun Sipos). Together, they begin to connect the dots in a mystery where the stakes get higher at every turn, and that brings about questions of who has betrayed them—and who will die next. Using his inimitable blend of smarts and size, Reacher will stop at nothing to uncover the truth and protect the members of his unit. If there’s one thing Reacher and his team know for certain, it’s that you do not mess with the Special Investigators. This season, get ready for Reacher and the 110th to hit back hard.”

Friday, November 24, 2023

2023 NGAIO MARSH AWARDS


It's official! After months of judging and some tough decisions to parse some amazing books, the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Awards winners were announced last night following a special Ngaios-WORD Christchurch (New Zealand) event and pub quiz MCed by Kiwi crime queen Vanda Symon, the winners are:
NGAIO MARSH AWARDS

Best Non-Fiction: MISSING PERSONS by Steve Braunias
Best First Novel: BETTER THE BLOOD by Michael Bennett
Best Novel: REMEMBER ME by Charity Norman
***
From Craig Sisterson, organizer of this amazing Award: 
Whakamihi to our winners, and all the terrific 2023 Ngaios finalists, longlistees, and entrants. 
Kia ora rawa atu to our international judging panels, readers, WORD Christchurch, and all the libraries involved in our Mystery in the Library series. Another fabulous year.
 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

VERA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: BritBox

The Vera Christmas Special
will air in the U.S. on December 20 on Britbox.  (Update: It will air in the UK on 12/26) This feature-length Christmas special is based on Ann Cleeves's The Rising Tide. We discussed The Rising Tide in my book group. It was very well received. The Rising Tide is perfect for TV, although, of course, everyone should read the book first! 

In The Rising Tide, a group of teenagers spent a weekend on Holy Island fifty years ago, but it forged a bond that has lasted a lifetime. They still return every five years to celebrate their friendship, and remember the friend they lost to the rising waters of the causeway at the first reunion. When one of them is found hanged, Vera is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . 

But with the tide rising, secrets long-hidden are finding their way to the surface, and Vera and the team may find themselves in more danger than they could have believed possible . . The story takes place on Holy Island (aka Lindisfarne --remember the Gospels!), a tidal island. We all know tides can be tricky.. If you go IRL, be sure and check your tide tables to avoid problems!

Can't wait to watch The Vera Christmas Special! What a nice holiday present!



Cartoon of the Day: The Inquest


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

CANDICE RENOIR, Season 8, premieres on AcornTV


CANDICE RENOIR, SEASON 8, DECEMBER 11 on
AcornTV. I'm so glad that Season 8 is dropping so soon after Season 7. Can the other seasons be far behind? 

There are 10 seasons and a feature length special of Candice RenoirIf you haven't seen this series before, or if you just want to rewatch, AcornTV has the first 7 seasons here.

I love this series about French police detective Candice Renoir.  Cécile Bois stars as Candice Renoir, a mother of four who took a decade-long hiatus from her role as a Parisian police detective to accompany her husband on job assignments around the world. Newly divorced, she returns to the force while also learning to manage as a single mother. She’s out of practice and her new colleagues find her maternal ways and love of pink a bit annoying – but she’s a clever detective with a strong drive for justice, and she’ll eventually win them around. They often call her Barbie. Lots of relationships, crime, setting, and justice in this fast paced French series. 

There are 10 episodes in Season 8. Candice Renoir is in French with subtitles. 



Monday, November 20, 2023

MIDSOMER MURDERS: Season 24 premieres December 4

I love Midsomer Murders, and I confess that I've seen the entire series at least twice, and probably more. Midsomer Murders is a quirky series with  imaginative murder scenes and weapons. If that sounds dark, I will tell you it isn't. I think of this series as one of the best mystery series on TV..not gritty, not scary.. just great acting, lovely scenery, and plots. Of. course, I wouldn't want to live in the county of Midsomer. Way too many murders for my taste. It's  Cabot Cove on steroids. 

Midsomer Murders, Season 24, will premiere on AcornTV on December 4. No news on when it will air in the U.K. (All series are still available in the U.S. on AcornTV).  Update: Season 24 has only 4 episodes.

Midsomer Murders is one of the longest-running mysteries currently still airing. It first aired in 1997 (first with John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby, then with Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby). The series is based on Caroline Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby novels. The series is set in the fictional Midsomer County, and follows two different DCI Barnabys as they solve quirky murders occurring in lovely small villages. It's mystery 'lite',  and the murders often require some suspension of disbelief. I'm o.k. with that. 

So be sure and tune in to AcornTV on December 4 for Midsomer Murders. I know I will!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

AGATHA CHRISTIE: LUCY WORSLEY ON THE MYSTERY QUEEN: December 3-17, 2023 on PBS

Lucy Worsley on location at Karnak
New Three-Part Series Premieres Sundays, 
December 3-17, 2023
 
Join Historian Lucy Worsley as She Travels the World in Christie’s Footsteps, Unraveling the Secret Life of the Enigmatic Writer Who Revolutionized Detective Fiction 

In her new three-part series, popular British historian Lucy Worsley turns her powers of investigation to the mysterious figure of Agatha Christie, uncovering the story of one of the most famous, complex — and misunderstood — women of the 20th century. How did this seemingly conventional British matron write so convincingly about the dark art of murder? As in the best of Christie’s novels, clues are hiding in plain sight, and Lucy uncovers surprising new evidence and some carefully concealed secrets that illuminate the life of a writer whose work continues to delight readers worldwide. AGATHA CHRISTIE: LUCY WORSLEY ON THE MYSTERY QUEEN premieres Sundays, December 3-17, 8:00-9:00pm ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS app.
 
Over 100 years since the publication of her first novel, Agatha Christie remains the most successful novelist of all time, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible. In 75 novels, plays and countless short stories, she defined the detective genre. But the real woman behind the literary persona has long remained an enigma.
 
In this series, Lucy Worsley, who recently published the acclaimed biography, Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, explores how the arc of Christie’s life follows the dynamic history of the 20th century. She witnessed extraordinary upheaval: not just two World Wars but revolutions in scientific understanding and enormous social change. Attitudes toward everything from class and gender to race, science, technology, psychology and politics were challenged. And — touched by these changes in very personal ways — she plowed all of it into her books. 
 
In each episode, Lucy gets to the heart of Christie’s personal experiences — her family, marriages, influences and inspirations, as well as her sorrows and struggles. She traces the novelist’s footsteps, from the beautiful countryside of the Devon coast to the landscapes of Istanbul and Egypt and analyzes the many hints of her life that the novelist planted in her works. 
 
Episode 1: “Cat Among the Pigeons” (Sunday, December 3)

Historian Lucy Worsley investigates the complex factors that shaped the dark imagination of a refined Devonshire lady, discovering family secrets and a childhood haunted by a sinister figure. Focusing on the first third of Christie’s life, Worsley unearths the surprising roots of the author’s most compelling themes, the inspiration for some of her greatest creations, and the secrets that the enigmatic Christie kept carefully hidden from public view. Worsley’s investigation follows the trail of pivotal moments in her life — and the nation’s — to weave a picture of a woman who was both of her time and thoroughly ahead of it. And it explores how, far from being cozy whodunnits, Christie’s early books tap into and capture the social upheavals of one of the most tumultuous periods of the 20th century.
 
Episode 2: “Destination Unknown” (Sunday, December 10)

On the evening of December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie left her home. The next morning, her car was found abandoned, balanced precariously on the edge of a quarry. Christie's coat, suitcase and driver's license were all inside, but the author herself was gone. What followed was the most extensive manhunt yet seen in Britain. Was this a publicity stunt? A hoax? Or was she the victim of foul play? Ten days later, Christie was discovered in a hotel in Harrogate, claiming to have lost her memory. In this episode, Lucy digs into the mystery, visiting the site where the author crashed her car and Abney Hall, the grand house where she took refuge. Lucy reveals connections between Christie's real-life experience and her novels and uncovers new evidence on her mental health and the cutting-edge psychiatric treatment she went on to receive.
 
In the late 1920s, Christie experienced betrayal, bereavement, divorce, and writer's block, but she also journeyed to Iraq, an experience that would boost her confidence and begin her reinvention and recovery. In this period, the author created perhaps her most famous character: the tenacious elderly sleuth, Miss Marple. Lucy uncovers the factors that shaped this beloved protagonist and discusses the mystery writer’s subversive brilliance with modern authors, including Jean Kwok, Kate Mosse and Ruth Ware.
 
Episode 3: “Unfinished Portrait” (Sunday, December 17)

In the final episode, Lucy Worsley examines Agatha Christie’s later life and discovers how, amid the turbulent social and political change of the 1930s and 1940s, newfound personal happiness ushered in a golden age for her writing. In 1930, recovering from a personal crisis, Christie traveled to the Middle East. On an archaeological dig in Iraq, she met Max Mallowan, and, despite an age difference of 14 years, they fell in love and married. Soon, Christie entered into the most prolific and successful chapter of her career. Lucy follows in the novelist’s footsteps to discover the roots of some of her classics, from the luxurious Egyptian steamship that inspired Death on the Nile to Burgh Island, the inspiration for her most successful but most controversial mystery, And Then There Were None.
 
Lucy observes how Christie achieved global celebrity in her later life but remained the anonymous observer hiding in plain sight. She uncovers the surprising true crime story that inspired the author to write The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in history. And she discovers how the novelist finally embraced the lure of Hollywood in old age, securing a legacy for her stories for future generations.

 
About Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley is the Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces in the U.K
. and the author of numerous historical publications, including biographies of Queen Victoria, Jane Austen, and most, recently, Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman. She is the host of several popular PBS specials and series including LUCY WORSLEY’S ROYAL MYTHS AND SECRETS, A VERY BRITISH ROMANCE WITH LUCY WORSLEY, 12 DAYS OF TUDOR CHRISTMAS, VICTORIA & ALBERT: THE WEDDING, TALES FROM THE ROYAL BEDCHAMBER, and many more.
 

Friday, November 17, 2023

THANKSGIVING MYSTERIES // THANKSGIVING CRIME FICTION 2023

Thanksgiving is next week, so you'll want to get reading several of these Thanksgiving crime novel and short stories.  I've updated my Thanksgiving Crime Fiction list, but let me know if I've missed any titles. It's quite the mix of cozy, noir, and whodunit.  

As Thanksgiving approaches, I give thanks for my family, my friends, and the wonderful mystery community.

I'm posting daily recipes for Chocolate Thanksgiving desserts, sides, and main courses (Chocolate Turkey Rub!) on DyingforChocolate.com.

Thanksgiving Mysteries

Victoria Abbott The Wolfe Widow

Susan Wittig Albert Bittersweet
Laura Alden Foul Play at the PTA
Dianne Ascroft Thanksgiving and Theft
Deb Baker Murder Talks Turkey
S.H. Baker The Colonel's Tale
Mignon Ballard, Miss Dimple Disappears
Sandra Balzo Hit and Run
Richard Bausch Thanksgiving Night 
Cindy Bell Fatal Festivities

Kate Bell, Kathleen Suzette Thankfully Dead
Bob Berger The Risk of Fortune
William Bernhardt, Editor, Natural Suspect
Kate Borden Death of a Turkey
Amy Boyles Southern Magic Thanksgiving
Ali Brandon Twice Told Tail

JJ Brass The Turkey Wore Satin
Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who Went into the Closet, The Cat Who Talked Turkey
Lizbie Brown Turkey Tracks
Carole Bugge Who Killed Mona Lisa?

Lucy Burdette A Deadly Feast
Lynn Cahoon A Very Mummy Holiday
Sammi Carter Goody Goody Gunshots
Lowell Cauffiel Dark Rage
Jillian Chance The Fall of the Sharp Sisters
Joelle Charbonneau Skating Under the Wire

George C. Chesbro Bleeding in the eye of a Brainstorm
Jennifer Chiaverini A Quilter's Holiday 
Laura Childs Scones & Bones 
Bobbi A. Chukran Short mystery stores in her Nameless, Texas series

Leena Clover Turkeys and Thanksgiving
Christine E. Collier A Holiday Sampler
Sheila Connolly A Killer Crop
Cleo Coyle Murder by Mocha
Isis Crawford A Catered Thanksgiving
Bill Crider with Willard Scott Murder under Blue Skies
Jessie Crockett Drizzled with Death
Amanda Cross A Trap for Fools
Barbara D'Amato Hard Tack, Hard Christmas
Mary Daheim Alpine Fury, Fowl Prey, The Alpine Vengeance
Kathi Daley Turkeys, Tuxes and Tabbies; The Trouble with Turkeys; The Thanksgiving Trip: The Inn at Holiday Bay, Pilgrim in the Parlor; Thanksgiving in Paradise; The Catsgiving Feast
Jeanne Dams Sins Out of School
Claire Daniels Final Intuition
Evelyn David Murder Takes the Cake
Mary Janice Davidson Undead and Unfinished
Krista Davis The Diva Runs Out of Thyme; A Good Dog's Guide to Murder

Robert Davis Stuffed
Devon Delaney Double Chocolate Cookie Murder
Vicki Delany (aka Eva Gates) Silent Night, Deadly Night
Jana Deleon Cajun Fried Felony
Wende and Harry Devlin Cranberry Thanksgiving
Michael Dibdin Thanksgiving
Leighann Dobbs Thanksgiving Dinner Death
Joanne Dobson Raven and the Nightingale
Alice Duncan Thanksgiving Angels
Christine Duncan Safe House
Susan Dunlap No Footprints
Kaitlyn Dunnett Overkilt
Lauren Elliott To the Tome of Murder
Alex Erickson Death by Hot Apple Cider
Janet Evanovich Thanksgiving (technically a romance)*
Nancy Fairbanks Turkey Flambe
Christy Fifield Murder Ties the Knot
Maureen Fisher Deadly Thanksgiving 
Courtney Flagg Criminally Ungrateful
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain Murder She Wrote: A Fatal Feast
Amanda Flower Peanut Butter Panic
Joanne Fluke Raspberry Danish Murder
Katherine V. Forrest The Beverly Malibu
Shelley Freydont Cold Turkey
Heather Day Gilbert Cold Drip 

Noreen Gilpatrick The Piano Man
Martin H. Greenberg (editor) Cat Crimes for the Holidays
Jane Haddam Feast of Murder
Janice Hamrick Death Rides Again
Susannah Hardy A Killer Kebab
Lee Harris The Thanksgiving Day Murder
Ellen Hart The Grave Soul
J. Alan Hartman, editor, The Killer Wore Cranberry; The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping; The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds; The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fourth Meal of Mayhem
Robin Hathaway The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call
Richard Hawke Speak of the Devil
Victoria Houston Dead Hot Shot
Dorothy Howell Fanny Packs and Foul Play
Linda Joffe Hull Black Thursday
Carolyn Q. Hunter Killer Thanksgiving Pie

Ellen Elizabeth Hunter Murder on the ICW
Melanie Jackson Death in a Turkey Town; Cornucopia
Sue Ann Jaffarian Cornucopia, Secondhand Stiff
J. A. Jance Shoot Don't Shoot
Madison Johns The Great Turkey Caper

Gin Jones & Elizabeth Ashby Deadly Thanksgiving Sampler

Tonya Kappes Trapping, Turkeys, & Thanksgiving 
Karin Kaufman At Death's Door
Alex Kava Black Friday
Marvin Kaye My Son, the Druggist
Faye Kellerman Serpent's Tooth
Harry Kemelman That Day the Rabbi Left Town
John Lescroat The Keeper
Clyde Linsley Death of a Mill Girl
Georgette Livingston Telltale Turkey Caper
M. Louisa Locke Pilfered Promises
Nial Magill Thanksgiving Murder in the Mountains
G.M. Malliet Wicked Autumn
Margaret Maron Up Jumps the Devil
Evan Marshall Stabbing Stefanie
K. L. McCluskey Three for Pumpkin Pie
Robert McDavis: Stuffed
Shawn McGuire Silent Secrets
Ralph McInerny Celt and Pepper
Leslie Meier Turkey Day Murder
Wendy Meadows Turkey, Pies and Alibis
Deborah Morgan The Marriage Casket
Meg Muldoon Roasted in Christmas River 
Joan Lowery Nixon The Thanksgiving Mystery (children's)
Carla Norton The Edge of Normal
Carol O'Connell Shell Game
Jack Pachuta Gobble, Gobble, Death and Trouble
Nancy J Parra Murder Gone A-Rye
Louise Penny Still Life

Cathy Pickens Southern Fried
Michael Poore Up Jumps the Devil 
Craig Rice The Thursday Turkey Murders
Ann Ripley Harvest of Murder
J.D. Robb Thankless in Death
Delia Rosen One Foot in the Gravy
M.L. Rowland Zero Degree Murder
Ilene Schneider Chanukah Guilt
Maria E. Schneider Executive Retention
Willard Scott and Bill Crider Murder under Blue Skies
Sarah R. Shaber Snipe Hunt
Sharon Gwyn Short, Hung Out to Die
Paullina Simons, Red Leaves

Page Sleuth Thanksgiving in Cherry Hills
Alexandra Sokoloff The Harrowing
Rex Stout Too Many Cooks
Denise Swanson Murder of a Barbie and Ken; Murder of a Botoxed Blonde

Kathleen Suzette Roast Turkey and a Murder
Marcia Talley Occasion of Revenge
Sharon Burch Toner Maggie's Brujo
Teresa Trent Burnout
Lisa Unger In the Blood
Jennifer Vanderbes Strangers at the Feast
Debbie Viguie I Shall Not Want
Auralee Wallace Haunted Hayride with Murder
Livia J. Washburn The Pumpkin Muffin Murder
Leslie Wheeler Murder at Plimoth Plantation
J.A. Whiting Sweet Thanksgiving
Rachel Wood Gobble, Gobble Murder
Angela Zeman The Witch and the Borscht Pearl

***

For the Younger Set:

Thanksgiving Thief: Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew
Ron Roy and John Steven Gurney: November Night
Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, Mitchell Sharmat Nate the Great Talks Turkey
Julie Campbell: Trixie Belden and the Mystery Off Glen Road  (Trixie Belden #5)

***

Let me know if I've forgotten any authors and titles!