Saturday, March 30, 2024

Happy Birthday to Me! Birthday Crime Fiction

Today is my Birthday! Celebrate with me by reading one of these Birthday Themed Mysteries. Or, keep the list for your own Birthday! Every year I get older, and every year this list gets longer. Any titles missing? Make a comment below, and I'll add it to the list! Have a favorite? Let me know!

Birthday Crime Fiction

Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jakob Arjouni and Anselm Hollo
A Birthday to Die For by Frank Atchley
Cranberry Crimes by Jessica Beck

Birthdays Can be Deadly by Cindy Bell
The Birthday Murderer by Jay Bennett
Birthday Can Be Murder by Joyce Cato
Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
Berries and Birthdays by Leena Clover

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
A Catered Birthday Party by Isis Crawford
The Birthday Gift by Ursula Reilly Curtiss
The Birthday Party: Family Reunions Can Be Murder by Chari Davenport
The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson

The Party by Elizabeth Day
The Birthday Girl by Melissa De La Cruz
There's Something about Mary by Wendy Delaney
A Birthday Secret by Nickolas Drake
The Birthday Party by Wendy Dranfield

Birthday Pie Burial by Diana Dumont
Murder Can Botch Up Your Birthday by Selma Eichler

The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin
Birthday Cake and Bodies by Agatha Frost
Birthday Sprinkle Murder by Susan Gillard
Aunti Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
The Nanny by Dan Greenburg
The Happy Birthday Murder by Lee Harris
They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer
Birthday Cake Waffle by Carolyn Q. Hunter
Birthday Girl by Matthew Iden

Death in the Garden
by Elizabeth Ironside
Happy Birthday, Marge by Shari Hearn
The Birthday Treasure Mystery by Kaylee Huyser
Birthday Party by Marne Davis Kellogg
Murder with a Twist by Tracy Kiely
Birthday Party by C.H.B Kitchin and Adrian Wright
Spiced by Gina LaManna 

The Birthday Girl by Stephen Leather
The Birthday Murder by Lange Lewis
Creme Brulee Murder by Harper Lin

The Old Die Young by Richard Lockridge
The Birthday Killer by W. Kay Lynn
Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart McBride

False Scent by Ngaio Marsh
The Birthday Mystery by Faith Martin
The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier
Birthday Party Murder by Leslie Meier 

Deadly Birthday by CT Mitchell
Many Deadly Returns by Patricia Moyes
The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett 

21st Birthday by James Patterson
Birthday, Deathday; The Cannibal Who Overate by Hugh Pentecost
The Birthday Club by Jack Peterson

Murder and Meringue Cake by Rosie A. Point
The Birthday Party by W. Price
Birthday Dance by Peter Robinson
Birthdays are Murder by Cindy Sample

The Birthday Bash by Elizabeth Sorrells
Don't Scream by Wendy Corsi Staub
Birthday Cake and a Murder by Kathleen Suzette

Sharpe Turn
by Lisa B. Thomas
Fear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson
The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine
Cakes for Your Birthday by C.E. Vulliamy
The Birthday Surprise by Clara Vulliamy (Children's) 
A Birthday Lunch by Martin Walker
The Birthday Girl by Sarah Ward

The Birthday by Elizabeth Wells
The Mortician's Birthday Party by Peter Whalley
Birthday Girl by Niko Wolf

The Fortieth Birthday Body by Valerie Wolzien
Happy Birthday Murder by Rachel Woods

The Birthday by Carol Wyer
The Birthday by Margaret Yorke

Short Story:

"The Birthday Dinner" by Donna Andrews in Death Dines In, edited by Claudia Bishop & Dean James


    Cam Jansen and the Birthday Mystery by David A. Adler, Illustrated by Susanna Natti

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Paaskekrim: Norwegian Easter Crime Wave

I've posted about Paaskekrim before, but with the increased interest in Scandinavian crime,
especially the large number of Scandinavian authors available in English, I'm reposting about Norway's Paaskekrim (Easter Crime)! It takes place Holy Thursday through Easter Monday and is a public holiday in Norway. It's a time when just about everyone in Norway reads crime novels. Bookstore displays are full of detective novels, television and radio stations run crime serials and newspapers publish special literary supplements.

This is a very peculiar national activity. Publishers in Norway actually time series of books known as "Easter-Thrillers"or PĂ„skekrim, and dates of publication are moved to Spring and released at this time when the sale of mysteries goes up 50%. TV stations, radio and newspapers follow suit by running detective series based on the works of famous crime novelists such as Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Simenon and Ruth Rendell. Many of the Norwegian crime series are rerun.


Why does Norway choose Easter to delve into crime solving?
According to one widely accepted theory, the tradition began in 1923 as the result of a marketing coup. Advertisements that resembled news items were published on the front pages of several newspapers, shocking readers who failed to grasp that it was a publicity stunt. This idea spread like wildfire among other publishing houses, and the crime novel became one of the few forms of entertainment available during the Easter break. Cafes, restaurants and movie theatres were closed during Easter, which was supposed to be a time of introspection and repentance. There was no radio, and of course no television either. But everyone could read, and so the Easter crime novel was born.

Some Norwegian Crime Writers
Jorgen Brekke 
Samuel Bjork
Camilla Bruce
Alex Dahl 
K.O. Dahl 
Thomas Enger 
Karin Fossum 
Vigdis Hjorth
Anne Holt 
Jorn Lier Horst 
Unni Lindell 
Jon Michelet 
Jo Nesbo 
Kjersti Sceen 
Gunnar Staalesen 
Agnes Ravatn 
Pernille Rygg 
Linn Ullman 

Great websites about Norwegian crime writers
Scandinavian Crime Fiction
Scandinavian Books
International Noir Fiction
Detectives without Borders
Euro Crime
There are 2 Scandinavian issues of Mystery Readers Journal. They're still available. 

Volume 30:4 (Winter 2014-15) Scandinavian Mysteries

Volume 23:3 (Fall 2007)  Scandinavian Mysteries

Hardcopy and PDF -- Reviews, articles and Author! Author! essays, many by and about Norwegian crime writers.

Subscribe to Mystery Readers Journal HERE.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


Just in time for Easter, here's my updated Easter Crime Fiction list. As always, I welcome any additions. I've also added some Good Friday mysteries, rounding out the weekend.


The Easter Evader by Mathiya Adams
Death by Flamenco by Jennifer S. Alderson
Antiques Bizarre by Barbara Allan
Ship of Danger by Mabel Esther Allan
Aunt Dimity: Detective by Nancy Atherton
Bunny Donuts and a Body by Cindy Bell
Show Me the Bunny by Laurien Berenson

Death and the Easter Bunny by Linda Berry
In a Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen
Easter Weekend by David Bottoms
The Last Enemy by Grace Brophy

The Faberge Easter Egg by Sharon E. Buck

Wycliffe and the Last Rites by W.J. Burley
The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha by JoAnna Carl
Papa la-Bas by John Dickson Carr
Do You Promise Not To Tell? by Mary Jane Clark
Easter Hair Hunt by Nancy J. Cohen
Easter Buried Eggs by Lyndsey Cole
Little Easter by Reed Farrel Coleman
A Holiday Sampler by Christine E. Collier
Last Easter by Caroline Conklin
Absolute Certainty by Rose Connors
Murder on Good Friday by Sara Conway
Holy Terrors by Mary R. Daheim
Big Bunny Bump Off, Easter Escapade, Hippity Hoppity Homicide by Kathi Daley
Death of a Harlequin by Mary-Jane Deeb

KittyKai's Easter Mystery by Debbie De Louise
The House of Death by Paul Doherty
Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans
Root of All Evil by E.X. Ferrars
Death at the Wheel by Kate Flora
The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand
Lord James Harrington and the Easter Mystery by Lynn Florkiewicz

Toxic Toffee; Criminally Cocoa by Amanda Flower
Eula May and the Easter Kandy Killer by Amy Mull Fremgen

Lord James Harrington and the Easter Mystery by Lynn Florkiewicz
Deadly Sin by P.J. Grady
Hop 'Til You Drop by J. M. Griffin

Precious Blood by Jane Haddam
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris 
Server Down by J.M. Hayes
Semana Santa by David Hewson
Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy

Killer Easter Pie by Carolyn Q. Hunter
Easter Murders by Bryant Jackson & Edward Meadows
Death of a Dumb Bunny by Melanie Jackson
Easter Eggs and Shotgun Shells by Madison Johns
On the Lamb by Tina Kashian

Murder on the Eightfold Path by Diana Killian
Beauty Expos are Murder by Libby Klein

Bunny Drop by Linda Kozar
Chef Maurice and the Bunny-Boiler Bake Off by J.A. Lang
Forest of Souls by J. G. Lewis

Do Not Exceed the Stated Dose (short stories) by Peter Lovesey
Dyeing Season: Basket Case by Karen MacInerney
Shot Cross Buns by Tegan Maher
Pagan Spring by G. M. Malliet
Some Like It Lethal by Nancy Martin
Alibis & Angels by Olivia Matthews
Easter Bunny Murder; Easter Bonnet Murder by Leslie Meier
The Chocolate Easter Baking Challenge by M'Lissa Moorecroft
Devil's Door by Sharan Newman
The Easter Mystery by Joan Lowery Nixon
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

The Easter Sunday Slaughter by Imogen Plimp
The Wolf and the Lamb by Frederick Ramsey
Chicory is Trickery by Sheri Richey

The Chocolate Egg Murders by David W. Robinson
The Baritone Wore Chiffon; The Soprano Wore Falsettos by Mark Schweizer
Easter's Lily by Judy Serrano
Prey on Patmos by Jeffrey Siger
Tourist Trap by Julie Smith

Wicked Egg to Crack by Lotta Smith
Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming
And Four To Go includes "The Easter Parade" aka The Easter Parade Murder" by Rex Stout
Easter Breakfast by John Stuart

Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death by Denise Swanson
The Quarry by Johan Theorin
Midnight at the Camposanto by Mari Ulmer
The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie
Of Crocuses and Confessions; On Borrowed Time; Baa'd to the Bone by Sarah Jane Weldon

The Blind Man of Seville by Robert Wilson
Easter Egg Murder by Patricia Smith Wood
Easter Egg Hunt Murder by Rachel Woods

Short Story: 

"The Man on the Cross" by Bill Crider from the collection Thou Shalt Not Kill, edited by Anne Perry.
"The Rabbit Died" by Sue Ann Jaffarian.

Looking for Easter Chocolate to eat while reading? Stop by my other Blog, for some great Chocolate Easter Recipes and the History and Culture of the Chocolate Easter Bunny.

Look Magazine, April 16, 1957

Monday, March 25, 2024

A MODERN TUDOR MYSTERY: Guest Post by Karen E. Olson

In 2014, I was on a panel at the Long Beach Bouchercon moderated by Hank Phillippi Ryan, and she asked each of us to reveal something about ourselves that no one—at least in the mystery community—would know about us.
I might as well have said, “I’m Karen, and I’m a Tudorphile.”
My decades-long obsession with all things Tudor—Henry VIII, his wives, his children, and their various relations like Lady Jane Grey and Mary Queen of Scots—came tumbling out. I don’t generally read fiction about the era—the exceptions being Hilary Mantel’s brilliant Wolf Hall trilogy and Elizabeth Fremantle’s Queen’s Gambit—rather, I collect biographies and books about the Tudor era (The Private Lives of the TudorsThe Tudors in LoveThe Hidden Lives of Tudor Women) that line my bookshelves. In recent years I’ve made more trips to the library for books because there are just so many in my house, but I make an exception for anything Tudor related, mainly because they’re denser and longer and require far more time than the three-week borrowing period.
For years, I wondered what I could do with all of my “research.” I’m not a historian and not particularly interested in writing historical fiction—although I love reading it. But I felt that I had to do something with all of these Tudors taking up residence in my head.
Bringing Henry and his wives into modern day was something I’d never seen before—and the more I thought about it, the more I thought they could easily be as relevant now as they were 500 years ago. The wives were all strong and progressive in their own ways. Henry was a serial husband. While he was king of England back in the day, why couldn’t he be a billionaire CEO of a corporate empire now? I abandoned the idea that Henry would be obsessed over having a son; that wouldn’t work in today’s world. In the same vein, religion and destroying monasteries were ditched in favor of corporate takeovers and stockholders who ran scared when murder surfaced. Wives had to interact with each other and deal with other wives’ children.
It was a story that we’ve heard before, but new.
Because I write murder mysteries, that had to be the direction I headed in. Funnily enough, I started writing a police procedural, beginning with the discovery of a headless body—how else could it start?—being investigated by a state trooper. The bones of the story began to take shape, but I found myself drawn even more to the wives—not just as potential witnesses or victims. While all my other books are written in first person from one point of view, I changed it up to have multiple points of view in third person. The state trooper is still there, but he’s now a more peripheral character. 
I struggled with how close I wanted to stay to the history, but I found it was a bit too confining so I took liberties with the facts and decided I was okay with it, hoping a diehard Tudorphile would be as well. 
By the time I was done, I had transformed the narrative into a domestic suspense homage to the Tudors.

Karen E. Olson 
is the winner of the Sara Ann Freed Memorial Award and a Shamus Award finalist. She is the author of the Annie Seymour mysteries, the Tattoo Shop mysteries, and the Black Hat thrillers. Karen was a longtime editor, both in newspapers and at Yale University Press. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut. 
Karen E. Olson's latest mystery, An Inconvenient Wife: A Modern Tudor Mystery (Pegasus Crime – April 2nd, 2024), is the first in a new crime series inspired by the Tudor era. This story takes the reader into the world of Kate Parker, who has just married billionaire Hank Tudor when a headless body is discovered near their summer home . . .

Friday, March 22, 2024

MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL: Southern California Mysteries (40:1)

Mystery Readers Journal is a quarterly thematic mystery Journal. Each issue contains articles, reviews, and author essays on a specific theme, as well as special columns and other mystery related material. Journals run an average of 100 pages. Subscribe.

Current Issue: Southern California MysteriesAvailable in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF. If you're a subscriber or contributor to this issue, please scroll down.

Recent Issues: Southern California Mysteries (Spring 2024); Animals in Mysteries II (Winter 2023); Animals in Mysteries I (Fall 2023); Hobbies & Crafts in Mysteries (Summer 2023).

Coming Up: Murder Takes a Holiday; Partners in Crime, London Mysteries. Submit an article!

Mystery Readers Journal: Southern California (40:1) is now available as a PDF and Hardcopy

And, FYI, we had two other themed SoCal issues in 2009: 



If you're a PDF subscriber to Mystery Readers Journal, you should have received download instructions (let me know if you haven't). Hard copy subscription copies should be received within a  weekInternational subscribers will receive their issues within two weeks. PDF Contributor copies will go out tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this amazing issue.

Southern California Mysteries

Volume 40, No. 1, Spring 2024

SoCal Mysteries

Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.
  • Vintage Hollywood Crime by Aubrey Ney Hamilton


  • Why I Love Writing About L.A. by Anne Louise Bannon
  • The Mysteries of True Crime by James T. Bartlett
  • California, the Origins of Reckoning, and the Ty Dawson Series by Baron Birtcher
  • The Lighter Side of SoCal Mysteries by Sally Carpenter
  • Where Rick Cahill Lives by Matt Coyle
  • Technology, AI and Murder Collide in L.A. by Art Chester
  • A Mystery in More Ways than One: A Fascination with Southern California by Elizabeth Crowens
  • Los Angeles Ninja Lily Wong by Tori Eldridge
  • San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter—Come for the History, Stay for the Mystery by Sara Driscoll
  • California in Black and White by Terence Faherty
  • A Different Perspective on Southern California by Earlene Fowler
  • Los Angeles: City of Dreams by Lee Goldberg
  • Kesey & Me by Chuck Greaves
  • The Monkey in Venice by Russell Hill
  • Wendy Stays Home by Wendy Hornsby
  • L.A.’s Mr. Goodbar by Georgia Jeffries
  • San Diego: Where Paradise and Crime Meet by Curtis Ippolito
  • Sand, Surf, Murder by Sybil Johnson
  • Changing Coast Changed My Life by John Lansing
  • The OC, Baby by D. P. Lyle
  • Like So Many Before Me by Larry Maness
  • Mysteries of Southern California by T. Jefferson Parker
  • You’re Right— That’s Exactly What Southern California is Like by Thomas Perry
  • Finding Your Place When You’re Writing About Place by Eugenia Parrish
  • Through a Lens Brightly by Gary Phillips
  • Beach Noir by James Preston
  • Beached by D. R. Ransdell
  • Don’t Give Up the Day Job by Clive Rosengren
  • That Screwy, Ballyhooey SoCal by Robert Rotstein
  • Los Angeles: Boundless, Disturbing, Inspiring by Elizabeth Sims
  • After-Hours by Lida Sideris
  • If At First You Don’t Succeed… by Jennifer Slee
  • Limitless Los Angeles by Patricia Smiley
  • Location, Location, Location by Elena E. Smith
  • Dwelling in the Southern Region of the Soul by David Unger
  • Hollywood, My Exuberant Muse by Halley Sutton
  • The Lair of the Bear by Duane Swierczynski
  • Making a Reader Feel the Character of a Setting by Carl Vonderau
  • What Do You Know? by Pamela Samuels Young
  • Safe, Hope, and Always by Mark Zubro


  • Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Jay Gertzman, Aubrey Hamilton, Lesa Holstine, Dru Ann Love, Lucinda Surber, and Kristopher Zgorski
  • Children’s Hour: Southern California Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • The Trunk Murderess by Cathy Pickens
  • Crime Seen: Southern California Noir by Kate Derie
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Sunday, March 17, 2024


Thalia Press announces an opportunity for your mystery short story to be included in our next anthology, Deadly Yellowstone: A Collection of Mystery Shorts.

Here is the description of the anthology:

Explore the treacherous and awe-inspiring landscape of America's first national park in this new anthology, “Deadly Yellowstone." With scalding geysers, stampeding buffalo, and ravenous grizzlies, danger lurks at every turn.
As a global tourist magnet, Yellowstone National Park attracts not only nature enthusiasts but also those with sinister intentions. Unravel the mysteries within the park's boundaries as ten gripping short stories delve into baffling events amidst the beauty and danger of Yellowstone.

Submissions guidelines include: *Note extended deadline—June 30.

·      Your story should be set within the borders of Yellowstone National Park. Use of the unique landscape and wildlife of Yellowstone is encouraged!
·       We’re looking for great stories and unique voices that entertain the reader. Your story can be serious or humorous, but it must be a mystery or crime fiction story. 
·       Your story should not exceed 10,000 words. Our sweet spot is 3,000 to 7,000 words. No flash or fan fiction, please.
·       Submit your story as a Word Doc attachment to
·       For the subject line of your submission: please start with the title of your story, followed by a dash and your full name. 
·       While we prefer original stories, we will consider reprint submissions so long as you have all rights back to your story. If your story is a reprint, please indicate this on the manuscript when submitting it.
·       Publication is projected for October 2024. The book will be printed in both eBook and paperback formats.
·       Ten short stories will be chosen for inclusion in this anthology. 
·       The deadline to submit your story is June 30, 2024. Authors of stories selected for inclusion will be notified by July 30, 2024. 
·       If your submission is selected for publication, you will be asked to provide a 150 word or less author bio. You may include information on where readers can purchase your other work in this bio.
·       Payment for accepted stories will be $25.
·       Authors accepted for publication will be able to order author copies of the anthology at cost.
       For questions please email Lise McClendon, Editor at 

Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Latent Joy of Writing: Guest Post by Peter Riva

There is something akin to an infection that firmly takes hold of spatial awareness, time, and any desire of possible rewards when you first sit down to write that a story – and like an infection that laid dormant until allowed free reign, once the fever rises, the blank page miraculously fills with squiggles forming into words, buried thoughts and knowledge manifest as signposts, and direction starts to unwind—all to expose purpose, plot, and characters. 

Characters come to life on their own just as purposefully intended, plot which laid dormant, latent in the psyche of the author, uses that precious time of creativity to reveal itself.

Creativity is not deliberate intent, it is a natural force from within. In every person that latency deserves to be manifest, not just harbored as a secret. Art is generosity – sharing with others. Without generosity there can be no impact, no sharing, no sense of accomplishment. That is why authors crave readership figures. Critics think creativity is ego or financial whim. It is not. At the root of every author’s desire to publish is an essential tenet of life as a human: to share, to impart, to give, to contribute.

In over 50 years as a licensing agent I have seen authors struggle, desperate to attain what the media calls recognition, but really what they craved was a wide sharing of their thoughts and words. I have witnessed the sorrow and joys of too many creative people fraught with the necessities and control of the financial structure of publishing – a structure controlled largely by Wall Street’s gambles. I have seen the highs and lows of authors who have achieved enormous success and recognition – many of whom still wonder if it really counted at all, if they actually achieved that creative sharing they were so intent upon.

In every case, authors (and indeed my own exploits as an author) who write for themselves to release that latency of creativity are the happiest, the most fulfilled. An author who feels the release of their own creativity and the catharsis that engenders – these author’s work is always the most interesting.

Take Steig Larson for example: a workaholic journalist – the investigative kind with a stellar press reputation. Between smoking and drinking and his long, long, days probing criminality and corruption, he let his inner self out and wrote – as one volume – a book, all one thousand five hundred pages, closely typed. In the elevator of his apartment building he asked Norstedts’ editor Per Faustino if Per would read “something I’ve written.” Per agreed. The next day Per was handed a plastic bag with all one thousand five hundred pages. Shocked, knowing such a tome would never fit publishing’s business model, Per nevertheless started to read. He could not put it down. As Per told me, asking me to help license it in the USA, the Millenium series was the hardest edit – into three volumes – he had ever accomplished. I asked Per why Steig had written it, “He told me it was burning inside him, he just had to.” The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo’s history is well known although sadly Steig would pass before he could realize its global reach and impact.

And then there is my mother who wanted to write her mother’s biography. Blessed with a remarkable (sometimes eidetic) memory, her mother (as she would later write) knew that Maria would be the only one capable of telling the truthful whole story. Her agent, Swifty Lazaar shopped the biography to Michael Korda at Simon & Schuster, providing there were co-authors. After three years working with them (nice people), Maria rejected their work correctly (as did several other editors at Simon & Schuster as well as Swifty Lazaar). I took over. Maria then allowed herself to release her inner voice on paper and after her sixty pages were submitted, Michael Korda and his boss Dick Snyder realized they were the wrong publishers for what Maria wanted to expose: real events, an in-depth history of a stellar career, and personalities. Vicky Wilson at Knopf snapped it up and urged Maria to “let every scrap of knowledge” flow in what became a truly great biography, revealing one of the greatest proponents of the pre-eminent artform of the twentieth century as well as a great American immigrant, war hero, and singer: Marlene Dietrich. Maria wrote the entire work on yellow legal pads all day and my father typed them after dinner while she slept, presenting the typed pages for editing over breakfast. In November 1990 the manuscript was finished, edited, and locked away at Knopf – a testament to Maria’s latency of creativity and accurate memory. 

Never once did Steig Larsson ask Per Faustino how much money he would make. Per told me all Steig ever wanted to know was how many languages his work would reach, how many people. Similarly, never once did Maria ever ask how much money the book would make in 13 languages but how many people would learn, understand, what made this life of a great performer possible. How many would heed the messages of that life? At a coffee bar at Hamburg airport a server refused to allow Maria to pay for her coffee before boarding a flight. The woman was crying, thanking Maria for sharing secrets that had affected her own life in a similar way, “If you can tell everyone of the rape, then I can too, and maybe people will understand.” Better than any “best seller” listing, such moments are what drove Maria’s inner desire and rewarded her effort.

Latent creativity always has a purpose, is always dying to get out. The very best of authors delve into their own psyche and experiences and share them with whoever is lucky enough to pick up the book. Allowing the escape of latent thoughts and experiences is always a satisfying luxury and often cathartic. Such output is simply generosity and that is a true manifest artform.

50+ years as an agent, Peter Riva created and produced of over 78 hours of primetime wildlife television, having spent a ton of time in East Africa and parts of North and Central Africa. Author of over nine books, five of them thrillers taking place in East Africa. Born and raised in New York City, London, and Switzerland, he moved some years ago to the wilds of Gila, New Mexico.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024


Western Writers of America
announced the winners of the Spur Awards. 
Since 1953, Western Writers of America ( has promoted and honored the best in Western literature with the annual Spur Awards, selected by panels of judges. Awards, for material published during the previous year, are given for works whose inspiration, image and literary excellence best represent the reality and spirit of the American West.

Winners and finalists were announced Saturday, March 9, at the Tucson Festival of Books.

I've highlighted books of interest to mystery/crime fiction. Congratulations to all!

The Longmire Defense (Viking), Craig Johnson’s 19th installment of his Walt Longmire mystery series, won for Best Contemporary Western Novel. 

Dayton Duncan won for Burns’s The American Buffalo (PBS) as Best Western Documentary Script.

Other winners:

Biography: Sacajawea: Mystery, Myth, and Legend by Candy Moulton (South Dakota Historical Society Press).

Children’s Picture Book: Grandma’s Tipi: A Present-Day Lakota Story by author/illustrator S.D. Nelson (Abrams Books for Young Readers).

Contemporary Nonfiction Book: The Lost Cowboy by J.B. Zielke (independently published).

First Nonfiction Book: The Lost Cowboy by J.B. Zielke (independently published).

First Novel: The Last Man: A Novel of the 1927 Santa Claus Bank Robbery by Thomas Goodman (Mainsail Media).

Historical Nonfiction Book: Continental Reckoning: The American West in the Age of Expansion by Elliott West (University of Nebraska Press).

Historical Novel: Death in Tall Grass: A Young Man’s Journey Through the Western Frontier by Donald Willerton (independently published).

Juvenile Nonfiction Book: Bass Reeves: Legendary Lawman of the Wild West by Billie Holladay Skelley (Crossing Time Press).

Juvenile Novel: A Sky Full of Song by Susan Lynn Meyer (Union Square Kids).

Original Mass-Market Paperback Novel: Gunmetal Mountain by John Shirley (Pinnacle Books/Kensington Publishing).

Poem: “Counting Cattle with the Fathers” by Shelley Armitage, published in A Habit of Landscape (Finishing Line Press).

Romance Novel: (Tie) The Heart Beneath the Badge by George T. Arnold (Speaking Volumes) and Love on Target by Shanna Hatfield (Wholesome Hearts Publishing).

Short Fiction: “Bad Choices: A Wyoming Chronicles Story” by W. Michael Gear, published in Ridin’ with the Pack: A Western Short Story Collection (Wolfpack Publishing).

Short Nonfiction: “‘Those invaluable but greatly abused members of the community’: Dogs and the Difference on the Great Plains in the Fur Trade Era” by David C. Beyreis, published in the Spring 2023 issue of South Dakota History.

Song: “High Country Trail” by Syd Masters, released on the CD Cabin Songs (Deer Pine).
Traditional Novel: Aesop’s Travels: A Crackerjack Tale of the Old West by Daniel Boyd (Montag Press).


Biography: Oracle of Lost Causes: John Newman Edwards and His Never-Ending Civil War by Matthew Christopher Hulbert (Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press); Unrepentant Dakota Woman: Angelique Renville and the Struggle for Indigenous Identity, 1845-1876 by Linda M. Clemmons (South Dakota Historical Society Press).

Children’s Picture Book: Romeo and Emilia: How One Brave Girl Rose Up from a Wheelchair onto the Back of a Horse by author Roni McFadden and image processor Melissa Fischbach (The Biscuit Press); Wild Bill and the Pirates! by author Thadd Turner and illustrator Jeanne Conway (Old West Alive! Publishing).

Contemporary Nonfiction Book: The Last Lookout on Dunn Peak: Fire Spotting in Idaho’s St. Joe National Forest by Nancy Sule Hammond (Basalt Books/Washington State University Press); This is Wildfire: How to Protect Yourself, Your Home, and Your Community in the Age of Heat by Nick Mott and Justin Angle (Bloomsbury Publishing).

Contemporary Novel: Calico by Lee Goldberg (Severn House); Standing Dead: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima (Crooked Lane Books).

Documentary Script: The Sad Life and Tragic End of Superstar Alan Ladd by Rob Word (A Word on Westerns, YouTube); On the California Trail: Preserving Gravelly Ford by Travis Boley, Kevin Marcus and Roy Wicks (Knowledge Tree Films/Nevada Gold Mines/Oregon-California Trails Association/Bureau of Land Management).

Historical Nonfiction Book: The First Migrants: How Black Homesteaders’ Quest for Land and Freedom Heralded America’s Great Migration by Richard Edwards and Jacob K. Friefeld (Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press); Fortune’s Frenzy: A California Gold Rush Odyssey by Eilene Lyon (TwoDot).

Historical Novel: The Redemption of Mattie Silks by Kimberly Burns (Thomas Bard Publishing); Golddigger: The Legendary Nellie Cashman by Kathleen Morris (Dunraven Press).

Juvenile Nonfiction Book: More Cat Tales of the Old West by Preston Lewis (Bariso Press).

Juvenile Novel: Tales of Tom Mix: The Wild West Christmas by Bob Madison, writing as Scott McCrea (DS Publishing); The Worst Enemy: Rebels Along the Rio Grande: Book 2 by Jennifer Bohnhoff (Kinkajou Press).

Original Mass-Market Paperback Novel: To Hell and Gone by Charles G. West (Pinnacle Books/Kensington Publishing); A Short Rope for a Tall Man by Victor Gischler, writing as Nate Morgan (Pinnacle Books/Kensington Publishing).

Poem: “Even the Birds” by Rod S. Miller, published in The Dog’s Pancake (High Plains Press); “La Jicarita Mountain” by Jenifer Fox, published in My West (Quillkeepers Press).

Romance Novel: Chase Cooper by Lynn Eldridge (Wolfpack Publishing); The Bundling Year by Anne Schroeder (CKN Christian Publishing/Wolfpack Publishing).

Short Fiction: “The Desert Jewel” by Leah Angstman, published in Shoot the Horses First (Kernpunkt Press); “Hair of the Dog” by Peter Brandvold, published in Ridin’ with the Pack: A Western Short Story Collection (Wolfpack Publishing).

Short Nonfiction: “‘A House-Party on an Old Frontier Ranch’: How Arizona Became the Dude Ranch Capital of the World” by Lynn Downey, published in the Winter 2023 issue of Journal of Arizona History; “Passenger Side: Lessons from riding along in Montana” by Eric Howard Heidle, published in the Fall 2023 issue of Montana Quarterly.

Song: “Cowboy Afterlife” by Syd Masters, released on the CD Cabin Songs (Deer Pine); “Born to Be a Cowgirl” by Aspen Black, released on the CD Born to Be a Cowgirl (Aspen Taylor Black Publishing).

Traditional Novel: Grizzly Moon by Patrick Dearen (Five Star Publishing); Jane Fury by James Robert Daniels (Cutting Edge Books).