Tuesday, April 23, 2024


The Los Angeles Times announced the winners of the 44th annual Book Prizes in a ceremony at USC’s Bovard Auditorium. The Times’ Book Prizes recognize outstanding literary achievements and celebrate the highest quality of writing from authors at all stages of their careers.

Winners were announced in 13 categories for works published last year, including the new prize for achievement in audiobook production, presented by Audible. Additionally, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley was honored with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement and Access Books received the Innovator’s Award for its work renovating school libraries and ensuring that underserved students and communities have access to quality literacy resources. 


Winner: Ivy Pochoda, Sing Her Down: A Novel

Lou Berney, Dark Ride
S. A. Cosby, All the Sinners Bleed
Jordan Harper, Everybody Knows
Cheryl A. Head, Time’s Undoing

Monday, April 22, 2024


Alafair Burke, Margot Douaihy, and Sascha Rothchild
are the recipients of the Pinckley Prizes in Crime Fiction for 2022 and 2023. The prizes, named to honor the memory of Diana Pinckley, were presented on March 22nd in New Orleans. 
The Pinckley Prizes partner with the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans, of which Diana Pinckley was a founding member.

Alafair Burke is the winner of the 2023 Pinckley Prize for Distinguished Body of Work. 

Burke is the New York Times, Edgar Award nominated author of twenty crime novels. Published in more than twenty languages, her books have been featured on “Best Book” lists from the Today Show, Entertainment Weekly, People, O (Oprah Magazine), The Boston Globe, Washington Post, Sun Sentinel, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and numerous other outlets. She has been called “a genius for plot” and “one of our greatest contemporary mystery writers.” She is the current President of Mystery Writers of America and the first woman of color to be elected to that position. In addition to the standalone novels that have earned her a reputation as “a virtuoso” of domestic suspense, she authors “two power house series” featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. In addition to her own work, Alafair also co-authored the "Under Suspicion” series with Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark. Alafair traces a lifelong fascination with crime to the fact that she grew up in Wichita, Kansas, where a serial killer was active during her formative years. In a world where the killer could be anyone, Alafair found comfort in crime fiction. Her mother, a school librarian, helped her navigate from Encyclopedia Brown to Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie and eventually to Sue Grafton.

Margot Douaihy is the winner of the 2023 Pinckley Prize for Debut Fiction for her lyrical crime novel Scorched Grace. The second book in the Sister Holiday Mystery series, Blessed Water, will be released March 12, 2024.

The judges selected Scorched Grace for the novel’s delightful new vision of the noir sleuth: Sister Holiday is lavishly tattooed and plays lead guitar in her punk band Original Sin. She also happens to be a novitiate in the order of the Sisters of the Sublime Blood. She came to New Orleans to make amends for her past transgressions and solves crimes along the way. Douaihy’s writing is playful, the language as luscious as the setting, while the true heart of the story emerges with blazing warmth and compassion for troubled souls.

Sascha Rothchild is the winner of the 2022 Pinckley Prize for Debut Novel for her first book Blood Sugar.

The 2023 judges were impressed with the smart plotting and distinctive voice of Sascha Rothchild's Blood Sugar. Its protagonist, Ruby Simon, is one of the most seductive of psychopaths—clever, self-justifying, and so inventive that the reader can't wait to see what she does next. Rothchild's screenwriting skills translate beautifully to this novel, which also rises to its Miami setting, from Ruby's South Beach days of clubbing to her practice as a therapist. And who wouldn't love a serial killer who meets her best friend when he leaves a note in her Abnormal Psych textbook? Fast, funny, and sharp, Blood Sugar is filled with memorable moments and characters.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

EARTH DAY: Environmental/Ecological Mysteries

Earth Day: Climate change, environmental issues, and how we can save our planet. A few years ago I started posting a list of environmental/ecological mysteries. The list has grown. Crime fiction is an excellent way to make readers aware of issues.

Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 36:1) focuses on Environmental Mysteries. This issue is available as a PDF download and hardcopy. Take a look at the Table of Contents and order here. 

For Earth Day 2023, I updated my Earth Day/Environmental Mysteries list. There are many more authors, and certainly more books by many of the authors on the list. As always, I welcome additions of your favorites. I took a few liberties on the list, too, but I think they all fall under the umbrella of environmental/ecological mysteries. Scroll down for a second list that deals exclusively with Drowned Towns aka Reservoir Noir.

Be kind to the Earth. It's the only one we have!


Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang
P.D. Abbey's H2Glo
Liz Adair's Snakewater Affair
Glyyn Marsh Alam's Cold Water Corpse; Bilge Water Bones

Grace Alexander's Hegemon 
Lou Allin's Northern Winters Are Murder; Blackflies Are Murder: Memories Are Murder
Roberto Ampuero's El aleman de Atacama (only in German)

Christine Andreae's A Small Target
Suzanne Arruda's Stalking Ivory
Sarah Andrews' Em Hansen Mystery series
Lindsay Arthur's The Litigators
Anna Ashwood-Collins' Deadly Resolution; Red Roses for a Dead Trucker
Sandi Ault's Wild Inferno; Wild Indigo; Wild Penance; Wild Sorrow
Shannon Baker's Tainted Mountain; Broken Trust; Tattered Legacy; Skies of Fire
J. G. Ballard's Rushing to Paradise
Michael Barbour's The Kenai Catastrophe; Blue Water, Blue Island
Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat; Ill Wind; Borderline; and others
Lee Barwood's A Dream of Drowned Hollow?
Pamela Beason's Sam Westin wildlife biologist series
Matt Bell's Appleseed

Robert P. Bennett's Blind Traveler's Blues
William Bernhardt's Silent Justice
David Riley Bertsch's Death Canyon
Donald J Bingle's GreensWord
Michael Black's A Killing Frost 
Jennifer Blake's Shameless
Claire Booth's Another Man's Ground
C J Box's Winterkill; Open Season; Below Zero; Savage Run; Out of Range; Trophy Hunt; Free Fire; In Plain Sight; Dark Sky
Lisa Brackmann's Hour of the Rat
Alex Brett's Dead Water Creek
Lisa Brideau's Drift; Amid Rage; Drink to Every Beast
Tobias S. Buckell's Artic Rising
Joe Burcat's Drink to Every Beast
James Lee Burke's Creole Belle
Rex Burns' Endangered Species
Steve Burrow's A Siege of Bitterns
David Butler Full Curl; No Place for Wolverines; In Rhino We Trust
Chester Campbell's The Surest Poison
Christine Carbo The Wild Inside, Mortal Fall, The Weight of Night, A Sharp Solitude
Ann Cleeves' Another Man's Poison; Wild Fire; Blue Lightning; The Crow Trap
Eileen Charbonneau's Waltzing in Ragtime

Rajat Chaudhuri: The Butterfly Effect
Cassandra Clark: Dark Waters Rising
Margaret Coel's The Dream Stalker
Anna Ashwood Collins's Metamorphis for Murder; Deadly Resolutions
Kathleen Concannon's A Deadly Bluff
Shawn Connors' Chain Reaction
Robin Cook's Fever
Dawn Corrigan's Mitigating Circumstances
Peter Corris's Deep Water
Donna Cousin's Landscape
Michael Crichton's State of Fear
James Crumley's Dancing Bear
Rich Curtin's Final Arrangements; Deadly Games
Christine D'Avanzo Cold Blood, Hot Sea; Devil Sea; Secrets Haunt the Lobsters' Sea; Glass Eels, Shattered Sea
Cecil Dawkins' Rare Earth
Janet Dawson's Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean

Mark de Castrique's Fatal Scores
Barbara Delinsky's Looking for Peyton Place
Lionel Derrick's Death Ray Terror
William Deverell's April Fool
Karen Dionne's Boiling Point; Freezing Point; The Marsh King's Daughter, The Wicked Sister
Paul Doiron's The Poacher's Son; Trespasser; Bad Little Falls; The Bone Orchard; One Last Lie, Almost Midnight, Dead by Dawn, and others
David Michael Donovan's Evil Down in the Alley
Mark Douglas-Home's The Sea Detective
Rubin Douglas' The Wise Pelican: From the Cradle to the Grave
Jack Du Brul's Vulcan's Forge; River of Ruin; and others
Robert Dugoni & Joseph Hilldorfer's Cyanide Canary
Toni Dwiggins' Badwater; Quicksilver
Kerstin Ekman's Blackwater
Aaron J Elkins' The Dark Place; Unnatural Selection
Howard Engel's Dead and Buried
Kathleen Ernst's High Stakes in a Great Lake
Eric C. Evans' Endangered

Nicholas Evans' The Divide
Nancy Fairbanks's Acid Bath; Hunting Game; and others
Kate Fellowes' Thunder in the Night
Cher Fischer's Falling into Green
Bill Fitzhugh's Pest Control; The Exterminators
Michael J. Fitzgerald's The Fracking War
Mary Flodin's The Death of the Gecko
G M Ford's Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?
Clare Francis's The Killing Winds (Requiem)
Jamie Freveletti's Dead Asleep 
Sara Hoskinson Frommer's Death Climbs a Tree

Abby Geni's The Lightkeepers
Jean Craighead George's The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Limbo; Who Really Killed Cock Robin?; The Case of the Missing Cutthroats; The Fire Bug Connection (young readers)
Matthew Glass's Ultimatum
Kenneth Goddard's Double Blind; Prey; Wildfire
Chris Goff's A Rant of Ravens; Death of a Songbird; A Nest in the Ashes
Jean Craighead George's The Case of the Missing Cutthroats

Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon's Greenwar
Alexander M. Grace's Hegemon
Scott Graham's Mountain Rampage, Yellowstone Standoff; Mesa Verde Victim
Robert O. Greer's The Devil's Hatband
John Grisham's The Pelican Brief; The Appeal; The Litigators; Gray Mountain
Beth Groundwater's Deadly Currents; Wicked Eddies
Elizabeth Gunn's Eleven Little Piggies
Jean Hager's Ravenmocker
William Hagard's The Vendettists
James W. Hall's Bones of Coral
Patricia Hall's The Poison Pool
Joseph Hall's Nightwork
Karen Hall's Unreasonable Risk, Through Dark Spaces

A.M. Halvorssen's The Dirty Network
Matt Hammond's Milkshake
Vinnie Hansen's Fruit of the Devil 
Jane Harper's The Dry; The Lost Man
Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action
Alice Henderson's A Solitude of Wolverines, A Blizzard of Polar Bears, and more.
Sue Henry's Termination Dust
Robert Herring's McCampbell's War
Joseph Heywood's Blue Wolf in Green Fire, Ice Hunter, Chasing a Blond Moon; Buckular Dystrophy; Bad Optics
Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip; Stormy Weather; Sick Puppy; Strip Tease; Scat; Star Island

Anne Hillerman's Song of the Lion
Tony Hillerman's The Blessing Way
Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady
John Hockenberry's A River out of Eden
Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow
John Holt's Hunted
Dave Hugelschaffer's Day into Night, One Careless Moment
Judy Hughes' The Snowmobile Kidnapping
Mary Ellen Hughes's A Taste of Death
R.J. Jacobs's Always the First to Die

Dana Andrew Jennings' Lonesome Standard Time
Liz Jensen's The Rapture
Craig Johnson's Hell is Empty; Dry Bones
Sylvia Kelso's The Solitaire Ghost; The Time Seam
Emily Kimelman's Unleashed
Thomas King's Cold Skies
M.T. Kingsley's With Malicious Intent

Henry Kisor's Hang Fire
Linda Kistler's Cause for Concern
Lisa Kleinholz's Dancing with Mr. D. 
Bill Knox's The Scavengers, Devilweed, and others in the Webb Carrick series
Dean Koontz's Icebound
William Kent Krueger's "Cork O'Connor" series, including Manitou Canyon, Sulfur Springs
Janice Law's Infected Be the Air

P.J. Lazos' Oil and Water
Leena Lehtolainen's Fatat Headwind
Stephen Legault's The Cardinal Divide, The Glacier Gallows, The Vanishing Track, The Darkening Archipelago
Donna Leon's Death in a Strange Country; About Face; Earthly Remains; Acqua Alta
David Liss' The Ethical Assassin
Sam Llewellyn's Deadeye
Charles & Lidia LoPinto's Countdown in Alaska; Nukes
Robert Lopresti's Greenfellas
Jim Lynch's The Highest Tide
John D MacDonald's Barrier Island (and other titles)
Ross Macdonald's Sleeping Beauty
Jassy Mackenzie's The Fallen
Larry Maness' A Once a Perfect Place
Elizabeth Manz's Wasted Space
John Marsden's A Killing Frost
Margaret Maron's High Country Fall, Shooting at Loons, Up Jumps the Devil, Hard Row
John Martel's Partners
Steve Martini's Critical Mass

Jean Matthews' Bet Your Bones
Keith McCafferty's The Royal Wulff Murders; Dead Man's Fance; A Death in Eden; The Bangtail Ghost; Buffalo Jump Blues
Charlotte McConaghy's Once There Were Wolves
M.J. McGrath's The Boy in the Snow
John McGoran's Drift; Deadout; Dust Up
Karin McQuillan's Deadly Safari; Cheetah Chase; Elephant's Graveyard
Mindy Meija's Leave No Trace
Anne Metikosh's Undercurrent 
Deon Meyer's Blood Safari, Thirteen Hours; Fever
Shannon Michaud's Still Water
Penny Mickelbury's What Could Be More Than Dead? 
Susan Cummins Miller's Chasm
Kirk Mitchell's High Desert Malice; Deep Valley Malice
Laura J. Mixon & Steven Gould's Greenwar

Margaret Mizushima's Killing Trail; Stalking Ground
Skye Kathleen Moody's Blue Poppy; and other Venus Diamond mysteries
C. George Muller's Echoes in the Blue
Marcia Muller's Cape Perdido
Sandy Neill's Deadly Turn; Deadly Trespass

Judith Newton's Oink
Michael Norman's Skeleton Picnic; On Deadly Ground
Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie
Michael Palmer's Fatal
Sara Paretsky's Blood Shot
Brad Parks' The Player
T. Jefferson's Parker's Pacific Beat

James Patterson's Zoo

Ridley Pearson's Killer View
Louise Penny's A Better Man

Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried
Carl Posey's Bushmaster Fall
David Poyer's As the Wolf Loves Winter, Winter in the Heart
Katherine Prairie's Thirst
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Reliquary
Kwei Quartey's Murder at Cape Three Points; Gold of our Fathers
Peter Ralph's Dirty Fracking Business

Ben Rehder's Bum Steer; Holy Moly; Hog Heaven; Fat Crazy, and more
Bob Reiss's Purgatory Road
Ruth Rendell's Road Rage 
Geoffrey Robert's The Alo Release
Carolyn Rose's An Uncertain Refuge
Leonard Rosen's The Tenth Witness
Simon Rosser's Tipping Point

Rebecca Rothenberg's The Shy Tulip Murders; The Bulrush Murder
Patricia Rushford's Red Sky in the Mourning
Alan Russell's The Forest Prime Evil 
Kirk Russell's Shell Games
Nick Russell's Big Lake Blizzard

Louis Sachar's Fuzzy Mud
Brenda Seabrook's The Dragon That Slurped the Green Slime Swamp (Children's)
Frank Schätzing's The Swarm
L.J. Seller's Crimes of Memory
Paige Shelton's Cold Wind
Patricia Skalka's Death Stalks Door County

Barry Siegel's Actual Innocence
Sheila Simonson's An Old Chaos 
Jessica Speart's Bird Brained, Blue Twilight, Gator Aide, Tortoise Soup
Dana Stabenow's A Cold Day for Murder, A Deeper Sleep, A Fine and Bitter Snow, Midnight Come Again, A Taint in the Blood, and many others
John Stanley's The Woman Who Married a Bear, The Curious Eat Themselves, 
Neal Stephenson's Zodiac
Mark Stevens' Buried by the Roan; Antler Dust; Lake of Fire 
David Sundstrand's Shadow of the Raven
William Tapply's Cutter's Run
Peter Temple's The Broken Shore

Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Petals of Blood
Craig Thomas's A Wild Justice
Olga Tokarczuk's Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Antti Tuomainen's The Healer
Judith Van Gleson's "Neil Hamel" series, including The Wolf Path & Parrot Blues
David Rains Wallace's The Turquoise Dragon
Lee Wallingford's Clear-Cut Murder; Cold Tracks
Joseph Wambaugh's Finnegan's Week
Sterling Watson's Deadly Sweet
Betty Webb's Desert Wind; The Anteater of Death 
Randy Wayne White's White Captiva
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt

K.J.A. Wishnia's The Glass Factory; 23 Shades of Black; Red House Soft Money
Qiu Xialolong's Don't Cry, Tai Lake
Brooks Birdwell Yeager's Chilly Winds
John Yunker's The Tourist Trail; Where Oceans Hide Their Dead
Greg Zeigler's Rare as Earth; Some Say Fire; The Straw That Broke

Reservoir Noir

Crime Fiction that deals with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons--a sad addition to the environmental crime fiction list.

Mabel Esther Allan: Pendron Under the Water  (YA)
Stephen Bacon's Murmured in Dreams; "The Summer of Bradbury" in Terror Tales of Yorkshire, edited by Paul Finch 
Andrea Barrett: The Forms of Water
John Blackburn: Bury Him Darkly
Scott Carson's The Chill
Matthew J. Costello's Beneath Still Waters (horror)

Alan Dipper's Drowning Day
Eileen Dunlop's Valley of the Deer (YA)

Lee Harris's The Christening Day Murder
Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height
Donald James' Walking the Shadows

James D. Landis' The Taking (Artist of the Beautiful)
Jane Langton's Emily Dickenson is Dead
Tim Lebbon's "The Flow" in Terror Tales of Wales, ed. by Paul Finch

Julia Wallis Martin's A Likeness in Stone
Sharyn McCrumb's Zombies of the Gene Pool
Michael Miano's The Dead of Summer
Nicholas Olde's "The Monstrous Laugh" in The Incredible Adventures of Rowland Hern

Ron Rash's One Foot in Eden
Rick Riordan's The Devil Went Down to Austin
Peter Robinson's In a Dry Season
Lisa See's Dragon Bones
Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls (YA)

Paul Somers' Broken Jigsaw
Julia Spencer-Fleming's Out of the Deep I Cry
Jonathan Thomas's The Color Over Occum

John Milliken Thompson's The Reservoir Reservoir 13
Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes
John Morgan Wilson's Rhapsody in Blood
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt
Stuart Woods's Under the Lake


Non-Fiction about Drowned Towns

Thomas Conuel: Quabbin: The accidental Wilderness
James L. Douthat: Cherokee Reservoir Grave Removals by T.V.A.
David and Joan Hay: Mardale, The Drowned Village: Being a Lakeland Journey into Yesterday
Allen Holt: Watergrove: A History of the Valley and Its Drowned Village
David Howarth: The Shadow of the Dam
Elizabeth Peirce: Quabbin Valley: People and Places
Joyce Hunsinger Pogany: Austintown
Les Ross, Editor: Before the Lake: Memories of the Chew Valley

Let me know any other author/titles that should be included. Make a comment below.

Saturday, April 20, 2024


Sister Boniface, Season 3 will premiere on BritBox on April 24 with two episodes. Then one episode a week for 8 episodes total. Be sure and watch the Christmas Special that dropped in December.  It's considered part of Season 3, so 9 episodes (but 8 regular ones). Sister Boniface is a spin-off of the Father Brown series. Check out the first two seasons of this British cozy featuring a crime-solving, Vespa-driving nun who solves crimes in this cozy British mystery series.  

Thursday, April 18, 2024


starts Monday night and lasts for eight days. That should give you plenty of time to read these mysteries set during the holiday. This is an updated list, but, as always, let me know any missing titles/authors.

Passover Crime Fiction

Passover by Aphrodite Anagnost
Conspirators by Michael Andre Bernstein
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks   
The Passover Commando by Irving R. Cohen
The Passover Protocols by Ellen Frankel
The Passover Murder by Lee Harris 
All Other Nights by Dara Horn
Never Nosh a Matzo Ball by Sharon Kahn
Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home by Harry Kemelman 
The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
The Empty Hours by Ed McBain
The Wolf and the Lamb by Frederick Ramsay
The Samaritans' Secret by Matt Beynon Rees
Mrs Kaplan and the Matzo Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger
Unleavened Dead by Ilene Schneider
The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield 
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra

Poisoned Passover: Book 2 Torah Mystery Series by Susan Van Dusen
The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie (on my Easter list, too!)
The Big Nap by Ayelet Waldman 

Passover by Frances Williams
The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia
Passover by Jeff Yocum

Passover Short Stories in the following collections:

Dying for Chametz & Other Mystery Stories for Passover by Libby Astaire
Criminal Kabbalah, edited by Laurie R. King
Murder Is No Mitzvah, edited by Abigail Browning
Mystery Midrash, edited by Rabbi Lawrence Raphael
Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishing
"Catching Elijah" by Jeri Westerson

There are several Children's and YA Passover Mysteries including:

Sherlock Mendelson and the Missing Afikomen by David Shawn Klein, Illustrated by Bridge Starr Taylor
Jodie's Passover Adventure by Anna Levine
Shira Detective: Chametz Detective by Galia Sabbag, Illustrated by Erin Taylor

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

Check out Molly Odintz's 10 Reasons Why Passover is the Noirest Holiday on CrimeReads.

Celebrating the holiday? Check out DyingforChocolate.com for Chocolate Passover Recipes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024


has announced that 
Grantchester, Season 9 will premiere on Sunday, June 16 at 9/8c on PBS. The new season is set in 1961 and sees the departure of Rev. Will Davenport (Tom Brittany) and the arrival of Rev. Alphy Kotteram (Rishi Nair). 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

When Characters Struggle to Uphold Their Core Values: Guest Post by Verlin Darrow

If characters don’t act in congruence with how they generally try to live, there needs be a good reason or they’ll cease to be believable. An upright citizen can’t suddenly decide to rob a convenience store. The killer in a murder mystery has to either be a major creep or someone with a compelling motive or backstory that pulls anomalous behavior out of them. I find it wholly unsatisfying for the solution to a mystery to embody a less than fully explained, out of character act. 

All of this is central to the success of many mysteries, including my just released latest—The Not Quite Enlightened Sleuth. As the name implies, Ivy attempts to live true to her Buddhist precepts as she returns to California from Sri Lanka and navigates a complex plot entailing multiple murders, a bi-polar sister and her dysfunctional family, as well as a budding romance. Sometimes Ivy fails to muster kindness or compassion. Sometimes she’s motivated by her personal agenda. Of course, these are components of the universal human condition, but Ivy, as a former Buddhist nun, expects more of herself. 

Without inner conflict, often concerning morals, priorities, and beliefs, characters lack depth and it’s harder for readers to identify with them. We all struggle to implement our best selves, or at least reach our pragmatic goals. Characters need to do so, too, or they remain nothing more than a character in a book. We need them to come alive so readers will care about what happens to them and keep turning pages to find out. 

Another important element, of course is change/transformation. The protagonist needs to undergo a process that leads somewhere, both externally—solving a mystery, for example—and internally—learning, growing, or perhaps graduating into a better life situation. Without implied or explicit attention to values, it’s hard to demonstrate that the protagonist is a somewhat different person on the last page than they were on the first. Once again, this is designed to mirror real people’s experience. Who could participate in all that Ivy encounters, for example, and remain the same? In her case, Ivy’s administration of Buddhist precepts becomes much more flexible and she learns how to integrate back into an unfamiliar world after so many years in a cloistered environment. 

Personally, I’m very much a seat of the pants writer, which helps me plot creatively, but can impede what I’m recommending here. When a bit of dialogue fits the flow—feels right—it may or may not be congruent with a character’s current values. It’s certainly possible to do this in small quantities. After all, who can behave consistently about anything? But if I let my process take over and ignore the rest, I have to do a lot of rewriting. 

Another challenging element in an attempt to portray values—showing, not telling— is when you’ve stretched to create a protagonist quite different than you. Perhaps you’re an attorney in Ohio trying to write an Agatha Christie-style drawing room mystery. Perhaps you’re working on a police procedural with no experience in law enforcement. 

In The Not Quite Enlightened Sleuth, I create a first person female narrator when I am a man. I took this approach for several reasons. One, I wanted a challenge to keep me motivated so I would finish my manuscript. Numerous other projects fizzled out when I lost interest for various reasons. Two, I’m a psychotherapist, and I’ve worked with thousands of women, almost all of whom shared their thoughts, feeling, and problems quite candidly. I know more than most men about the psyches of women. And lastly, I thought it would provide an interesting contrast to have a truly gentle, kind protagonist dealing with violent people. Who could fit the bill better than a Buddhist nun? 

I also needed to know exactly what Ivy’s values were and how her return to the secular world might challenge them. I’ve experienced something similar, so this element didn’t need as much work. 

Forty years ago, I became a gung-ho spiritual seeker as a remedy for my depression and my inability to be in direct contact with the world. That led to my forming a small spiritual community with an older friend serving as the leader. When I realized he was both wise andsomewhat delusional, I graduated myself and everyone else back into the world. Then I faced what Ivy faces. It’s jarring and easy to feel lost while trying to reintegrate into mainstream culture. If I’d had murders in my family, I definitely wouldn’t have coped as well as Ivy. Her spiritual background is stronger—more durable in the face of adversity. 

At any rate, those are my thoughts on this subject. To be honest, I’m exploring this for the first time in order to produce a guest blog, so you may have better or different ideas about this. I hope I’ve at least catalyzed you to take a look at characters’ values and their roles in novels, especially mysteries. 


A mid-sized independent press published Verlin Darrow’s Blood and Wisdom, Coattail Karma, Prodigy Quest, Murder For Liar, and The Not Quite Enlightened Detective. Two of these were were runners-up in major book award contests. Also, several short stories of his were included in anthologies. Verlin lives in the woods near Monterey Bay and his psychotherapist wife diagnoses him as needed. Visit Verlin Darrow online at: www.verlindarrow.com 

Monday, April 15, 2024



Eligible titles were submitted by publishers, and a team of British crime fiction reviewers votes to establish the shortlist.

In association with headline sponsor, the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award is for debut authors first published in the United Kingdom in 2023. The winning author receives a £1,000 prize. 
- Stig Abell for Death Under a Little Sky (Hemlock Press/HarperCollins)
- Jo Callaghan for In The Blink Of An Eye (Simon & Schuster)
- Megan Davis for The Messenger (Zaffre)
- Jenny Lund Madsen for Thirty Days of Darkness translated by Megan Turney (Orenda Books)
- Natalie Marlow for Needless Alley (Baskerville)
- Alice Slater for Death of a Bookseller (Hodder & Stoughton)

For the best crime fiction ebook first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format in the United Kingdom in 2023.
- Rachel Abbott for Don't Look Away (Wildfire)
-Jane Casey for The Close (HarperCollins)
-Martin Edwards for Sepulchre Street (Head of Zeus)
-Christina Koning for Murder at Bletchley Park (Allison & Busby)
-Laura Lippman for Prom Mom (Faber & Faber)
-Craig Russell for The Devil's Playground (Constable)

The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.
- Mark Billingham for The Last Dance (Sphere)
- Elly Griffiths for The Great Deceiver (Quercus)
- Mick Herron for The Secret Hours (Baskerville)
- Mike Ripley for Mr Campion's Memory (Severn House)
- Jesse Sutanto for Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers (HQ)
- Antti Tuomianen for The Beaver Theory (Orenda Books)

The H.R.F. Keating Award is for the best biographical or critical book related to crime fiction first published in the United Kingdom in 2023. The award is named after H.R.F. ‘Harry’ Keating, one of Britain’s most esteemed crime novelists, crime reviewers and writer of books about crime fiction.
- M, J, F & A Dall'Asta, Migozzi, Pagello & Pepper for Contemporary European Crime Fiction: Representing History and Politics (Palgrave)
- Lisa Hopkins for Ocular Proof and the Spectacled Detective in British Crime Fiction (Palgrave)
- Kate Jackson for How To Survive a Classic Crime Novel (British Library Publishing)
- Steven Powell for Love Me Fierce In Danger: The Life of James Ellroy (Bloomsbury Academic)
- Nicholas Shakespeare for Ian Fleming: The Complete Man (Harvill Secker)
- Adam Sisman for The Secret Life of John Le CarrĂ© (Profile Books)

This award is for the best television crime drama based on a book, and first screened in the UK in 2023. 
Eligible titles were collated from the Radio Times, and CrimeFest newsletter readers established the
shortlist and the winning title.
The winning author and production company each receive a Bristol Blue Glass commemorative award.
Dalgliesh (series 2), based on the Inspector Dalgliesh books by P.D. James (Channel 5)
Reacher (series 2), based on the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child (Amazon Prime)
Shetland (series 8), based on the Shetland books by Ann Cleeves (BBC)
Slow Horses (series 3), based on the Slough House books by Mick Herron (Apple)
The Serial Killer's Wife, based on the Serial Killer books by Alice Hunter (Paramount+)
Vera (series 12), based on the Vera Stanhope books by Ann Cleeves (ITV)

Eligible titles were submitted by publishers, and reviewers of fiction for children and young adults voted alongside volunteering members of the School Library Association (SLA) to establish the shortlist and the winning title.
The winners receive a commemorative Bristol Blue Glass award.

Best Crime Fiction Novel For Children
This award is for the best crime novel for children (aged 8-12) first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.
- A.M. Howell for Mysteries At Sea: Peril On The Atlantic (Usborne Publishing)
- Lis Jardine for The Detention Detectives (Penguin Random House Children's UK)
- Beth Lincoln for The Swifts (Penguin Random House Children's UK)
- Marcus Rashford (with Alex Falase-Koya) for The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Ghoul in the School (Macmillan Children's Books)
- Robin Stevens for The Ministry of Unladylike Activity 2: The Body in the Blitz (Penguin Random House Children's UK)
- J.T. Williams for The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Portraits and Poison, illustrated by Simone Douglas (Farshore)

Best Crime Fiction Novel For Young Adults
This award is for the best crime novel for young adults (aged 12-16) first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.
- Jennifer Lynn for Barnes The Brothers Hawthorne (Penguin Random House Children's UK)
- Nick Brooks for Promise Boys (Macmillan Children's Books)
- Ravena Guron for This Book Kills (Usborne Publishing)
- Ravena Guron for Catch Your Death (Usborne Publishing)
- Karen M. McManus for One of Us is Back (Penguin Random House Children's UK)
- Elizabeth Wein for Stateless (Bloomsbury YA) 

GARDENING MYSTERIES: National Gardening Day!

Oh My! I was so busy gardening yesterday that I forgot to post on National Gardening Day

I'm an avid gardener, and I post a photo of a flower or tree or a meandering path from my garden on my FB page every day-- "Behind My Garden Gate." 

Although I'm known for my roses, I also have a small poison garden. There are so many ways to kill in the garden what with poisonous plants, pesticides, and tools! Agatha Christie certainly knew that. If you’re looking for ways to murder with plants (for writing purposes only!), I suggest Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants. It’s a wonderfully illustrated reference book that also launched some great poisonous garden displays all over the US. Amy Stewart is also a mystery writer, and I recommend her historical series about the Kopp sisters. Another relevant non-fiction book to celebrate the day is Gardening Can Be Murder: How Poisonous Poppies, Sinister Shovels, and Grim Gardens Have Inspired Mystery Writers by Marta McDowell. 

I also grow orchids, perhaps not as extensively as Nero Wolfe, but I have a nice collection. Since I live in California, there’s something growing and blooming at all times. This makes it so magical! 

Like my interest in mysteries, I came to gardening early on. My aunt Annie used to take us into the woods to identify plants, both poisonous and not. She also had a lovely garden in her postage sized city back yard. I learned so much from her. She and my mother began taking me yearly to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Such a treat. When I was nine, I picked up a flyer for mail-order miniature roses. I sent my money, and in return small miniature rose bushes began to appear. My mother was flabbergasted. One, that I knew how to order and send off cash in the mail, and, two, that live plants arrived. I had neglected to mention my purchases to her. I had sent cash (not having a checkbook). Those mini-roses flourished, and I became hooked! 

In terms of mystery, gardens are such a great place to plot a murder! There are so many weapons at hand from plants (digitalis, foxglove, rhubarb, etc) to herbicides to tools. And, gardens are great places to dispose of a body. It’s not surprising, then, that so many writers use gardens and gardening in their mysteries. Who doesn’t remember Sgt. Cuff’s roses in The Moonstone or Nero Wolfe’s fantastic orchids? If you like gardens and gardening, you’ll love these two issues of Mystery Readers Journal with its rich diversity of articles, author essays, and reviews.

Here's a link to the two available Gardening themed Mysteries issues of Mystery Readers Journal

Gardening Mysteries (2018)

Volume 34, No. 1, Spring 2018

Gardening Mysteries

Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.


  • Where the Wild Things Are by Meredith Phillips
  • Weeds in the Borders by Carol Harper


  • Painting the Garden by Kerry J. Charles
  • Gardening and Writing: A Natural Enterprise by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Fourth-Generation Gardener by Amanda Flower
  • Mischief and Mayhem in the Garden by Rosemary Harris
  • I Wouldn’t Leave My Little Wooden Hut by Ann Granger
  • Crisis and Opportunity by Julie Wray Herman
  • Words of Green Wisdom from Mas Arai by Naomi Hirahara
  • Signs of Spring by Hart Johnson
  • Collecting the Seeds of Stories by Gin Jones
  • Mysteries Inspired by Dirty Hands by Meera Lester
  • Two-Faced Plants: Gardening, Poisons & Medicines by Linda Lovely
  • It’s Not Always Sunny in Philadelphia… by Donna Huston Murray
  • The Exploding Compost Heap by Cynthia Riggs
  • Gardening and Me by Joyce Olcese
  • A Rose Is a Rose — Unless It’s a Poison Apple by Susan C. Shea
  • How Does Your Mystery Garden Grow? by Teresa Trent
  • The Wrong Thumbs (But At Least They Can Google) by Art Taylor
  • Ode to Her Garden by Wendy Tyson
  • Volunteers of America by Nathan Walpow
  • Trees, Flowers — Murder! by Marty Wingate


  • Murder in Retrospect: Reviews by L. J. Roberts and Dru Ann Love
  • The Children’s Hour: Garden Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Does Your Garden Grow Mysteries? by Marvin Lachman
  • Crime Seen: In the Garden Plot by Kate Derie
  • Real Gardening Crimes by Cathy Pickens
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph


Gardening Mysteries (2004)

Volume 20, No. 3, Fall 2004

Gardening Mysteries
Buy this back issue! Available as a downloadable PDF.


  • “Evil Began in a Garden”: The Gardening Mysteries of Sheila Pim by Tom & Enid Schantz
  • Miss Marple & Mr. Wolfe: Classic Gardeners by C.A. Accardi
  • Weeds in the Borders by Carol Harper
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Meredith Phillips
  • Drug Decalogue by Jim Doherty


  • Ruth’s Secret Garden by Nancy Means Wright
  • All the Dirt on Heather Webber
  • The Joe Portugal Guide to The Joe Portugal Guides by Nathan Walpow
  • Rosemary and Thyme by Rebecca Tope
  • The Secret Garden by M.J. Rose
  • The Exploding Compost Heap by Cynthia Riggs
  • Dirt Under Fingernails by Gillian Linscott
  • Snake in the Garden by Kathleen Gregory Klein
  • Cotton Mather’s Garden by M.E. Kemp
  • Slugs, Roses and Murder by Norma Tadlock Johnson
  • Monet, Murder and Mystery by Jane Jakeman
  • Confessions of a Gardener’s Murderous Daughter by Naomi Hirahara
  • Weeding and Writing by Julie Wray Herman
  • Everything’s Coming Up Roses by Karen Harper
  • I Wouldn’t Leave My Little Wooden Hut by Ann Granger
  • Imaginary Gardens by Carol Goodman
  • Gardening Can Be Murder by R. Barri Flowers
  • Face Down in the Garden by Kathy Lynn Emerson
  • The Long Journey to a Blue Rose by Anthony Eglin
  • Death of an Azalea by Carola Dunn
  • Stalked by Flora (and Occasionally Fauna) by Claire Daniels (Jaqueline Girdner)
  • Saga of a Frustrated Garden Writer by Laura Crum
  • An Allotment of Murder by Mat Coward
  • Pushing Up Daisies by Kate Collins
  • It’s Wild Outside the Garden by Meredith Blevins
  • Angel in the Winds by Mignon F. Ballard
  • Gardening in Cyberspace by Donna Andrews
  • Lifescapes by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Murder in a Pot by Peter Abresch


  • Murder in Retrospect: Reviews by Carol Harper, Aubrey Hamilton, Kathryn Lively, Sandy Faust, Mary Helen Becker
  • Gardens and Gardening in British Crime Fiction by Philip Scowcroft
  • In Short: Gardens of Evil by Marvin Lachman
  • The Children’s Hour: Gardens by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • MRI MAYHEM by Janet A. Rudolph
  • Letters to the Editor
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph


Saturday, April 13, 2024


Left Coast Crime 2024 presented the four Lefty Awards at the 34th annual convention in Bellevue, Washington: Humorous, Historical, Debut, and Best
. The awards were voted on at the convention and presented at the banquet on Saturday, April 13, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. 

The Lefty nominees have been selected by convention registrants, and LCC is delighted to announce the 2024 Lefty Award nominees for books published in 2023:

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel: 

Wendall Thomas, Cheap Trills (‎Beyond the Page Books)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel for books set before 1970 (Bill Gottfried Memorial):

Naomi Hirahara, Evergreen (Soho Crime)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel:

Nina Simon, Mother-Daughter Murder Night (William Morrow)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel: 

Tracy Clark, Hide (Thomas & Mercer)

The Left Coast Crime Convention is an annual event sponsored by mystery fans, both readers and authors. Held in the western half of North America, LCC’s intent is to host an event where readers, authors, critics, librarians, publishers, and other fans can gather in convivial surroundings to pursue their mutual interests. Lefty Awards have been given since 1996. 

Friday, April 12, 2024


The Tax Man Cometh! I've done several posts over the years about Tax Day Mysteries. Surprisingly there are many that deal with Finance and Accounting, but not all that many that deal with the average Joe filing his taxes on April 15. Surely it's enough to commit murder. So here are a few mysteries that deal specifically with Tax Day. At the end of this post, I have an updated list of several accounting/accountant mysteries. 

Perhaps the most well known Tax Day Mystery is David Dodge's Death and Taxes--an oldie but goodie (1941). It's been reissued. Read Librarian and Editor Randal Brandt's posts on David Dodge HERE and HERE.

San Francisco tax accountant James “Whit” Whitney is summoned home from a vacation in Santa Cruz to help his partner, George MacLeod, recover a hefty tax refund for a beautiful blonde client named Marian Wolff. When he returns to his office, Whit finds MacLeod dead in the firm’s vault, “with a small hole in the bridge of his nose.” In order to complete the tax return and uncover the murderer, Whit becomes a reluctant detective and nearly gets himself killed in the process. To prevent Whit’s murder, if possible, the SFPD assigns him a bodyguard named Swede Larson. Whit and Swede tangle with ex-bootleggers and Telegraph Hill gangsters in their efforts to unravel the mystery, which climaxes with a shootout in the Mission District and a dramatic car chase across the Bay Bridge. Along the way, Whit resists the advances of Marian Wolff and begins a romance with Kitty MacLeod, George’s widow.

Before becoming a novelist, David Dodge worked as a Certified Public Accountant. No wonder his first fictional hero was also a tax man. A notable aspect of the Whitney novels is the volume of information about taxes and finances that Dodge effortlessly weaves into his plots. To read more about David Dodge, go HERE.

Sue Dunlap's 7th Jill Smith mystery is also entitled Death and Taxes

Until someone put a poisoned needle in his bicycle seat, Phil Drem was the meanest, most nit-picking IRS agent in Berkeley, California.

But when Detective Jill Smith began searching Berkeley's backwaters for the tax man's killer, she found a different picture of Drem: a caring Drem, whose once-beautiful wife was "allergic to the world" and whose friends and enemies, old hippies and would-be entrepreneurs, enjoyed a ghoulish pastime called The Death Game. Did the Death Game KO Drem? Was someone's schedule a motive for murder? And what about a CPA who drove a red Lotus ruthlessly and guaranteed his clients they'd never be audited?

Only one thing is for sure, —somewhere in Berkeley's backwaters, a killer is still on the loose. And for a detective who loves her city, doubts her lover, and has a knack for solving the toughest of crimes, finding the truth is about as inevitable as...Death And Taxes.

A continued search reveals another title: A Little Rebellion: April 15 Surprise by Rodney Sexton published by Writers Club Press (2000) an iUniverse book. Not having read it, I thought I'd post the Editorial Review:

After a client’s suicide and an unprecedented IRS attack on his tax practice, Certified Public Accountant Karl Mendel plans what he hopes will be the final solution to an income tax system out of control.

Assisted by close friends and professional associates, Mendel uses a personal tragedy and his belief in American freedom to fuel his war on what he refers to as the American KGB. With flying skills honed as a Marine pilot in the Vietnam War Mendel takes to the air in his planned assault on the U.S. income tax system. Help from Beatrice Gimble, a former IRS programmer and current CPA partner of his best friend, Terry Garcia, leads Karl inside the main computer facility run by the IRS. Unaware that he is being watched by powers beyond the IRS, his “forced” dealings with a Russian “mole” leads Karl and his partners into dangers they had not considered and threatens the woman he loves more than life itself.

About the Author: Rod Sexton is a practicing Certified Public Accountant living near Houston, Texas with his wife. While in Vietnam, Sexton was attached to the First Marine Air Wing. After active duty, he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Taxation degrees. A Little Rebellion is his first work of fiction.

Sure sounds like this fits the bill! Anyone read it? Any comments?

And then there's the cozy tax series that includes Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli by Diane Kelly. This mystery fits with both this blog and my DyingforChocolate.com blog. Diane Kelly's series --Death, Taxes, and ... are about IRS special Agent Tara Holloway. Can't get more tax-related than that..at least in the U.S. There are 13 books to keep you reading.

A further search for other mysteries uncovered a few other titles maybe a bit further afield but with an accounting theme, so in honor of Tax Day, I thought I'd post a few Accounting-Accountant crime fiction titles.


Paul Anthony: Old Accountants Never Die
Cindy Bell: Birthdays Can Be Deadly
Paul Bennett: Due Diligence, Collateral Damage, False Profits, The Money Race
Leeann Betts: Petty Cash

Ann Bridge: The Numbered Account 
Richard E. and Beverly A. Brown: The Rose Engagement
Elizabeth Chamberlin: Jane Mayhew Mysteries (about a retired accountant)
Larry Crumbley: Accosting the Golden Spire; The Ultimate Rip-Off; Costly Reflections in A Midas Mirror: Trap Doors and Trojan Horses; 
Cory Doctorow: Red Team Blues
David Dodge: In addition to Death and Taxes, Dodge wrote three more novels about San Francisco tax accountant James "Whit" Whitney: Shear the Black Sheep; Bullets for the Bridegroom; It Ain't Hay.
Marjorie Eccles: Account Rendered and other Stories
Gail Farrelly: Beaned in Boston
Connie Feddrsen: Amanda Hazard Mysteries (CPA/sleuth)

Dick Francis: Risk
Kate Gallison: Unbalanced Accounts
Emmy Grace: Lucky and the Axed Account
John Grisham: Skipping Christmas
Ian Hamilton: The Ava Lee Mysteries

Carolyn Hart: A Settling of Accounts
Mary Ellen Hughes: Scene of the Brine
James Montgomery Jackson: Bad Policy
J.A. Jance: Duel to the Death
Marshall Jevons: Murder at the Margin, The Fatal Equilibrium, A Deadly Indifference
Diane Kelly: Tara Holloway Death and Taxes Series (IRS criminal investigation agent) - My favorite is Death, Taxes and a Chocolate Cannoli

Emma Lathen: Accounting for Murder
Linda Lovely: Final Accounting
R.E/ McDermott, K.D. Stocks, and J. Ogden: Code Blue
Sarah McIntosh: Shell Games
Steve McMillan: Accounting Can Be Murder
Strike Me Down: Mindy Mejia
Sharon Potts: In Their Blood
Chrisopher Reich: The Devil's Banker: The Prince of Risk

Mike Resnick: Eros Ascending: Book 1 of Tales of the Velvet Comet
Peter Robinson: Final Account
Connie Shelton: Charlie Parker Series (accountant)
Patricia Smiley: Tucker Sinclair Series (financial advisor)

Maris Soule: Eat Crow and Die; As the Crow Flies
Karen Hanson Stuyck: Held Accountable
Maggie Toussaint: Cleopatra Jones Series (accountant sleuth)

William C. Whitbeck: To Account for Murder
M.K. Wren: Nothing's Certain but Death
Vincent Zandri: The IRS Agent Came Calling for Blood 

Short Story: "The Ides of Mike Magoon" in Ellery Queen's The Calendar of Crime (written when tax day was March 15, not April 15)  

Other Interesting Accounting Mystery Info:

One of my favorite films on the subject: The Accountant 

Raymond Chandler was an accountant. He lost his job during the depression, and he  started writing stories for Black Mask Magazine. The rest is history!

Interested in true IRS vs a Mystery Author. Read this article about Karin Slaughter's IRS Travails.

Anyone have a favorite mystery with a Tax Day or Accountant theme? Any titles I've missed?

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

NATIONAL BOOKMOBILE DAY: Vintage Photos and Bookmobile Mysteries!

Today is National Bookmobile Day! What a great source of library outreach. I've posted several photos of Bookmobiles before, but thought in honor of the day, I'd post a few more!

National Bookmobile Day celebrates our nation's bookmobiles and the dedicated library professionals
who provide this valuable and essential service to their communities every day. We honor the access to information and resources our nation’s bookmobiles make available to our communities and the professionals who work diligently to provide these services. For over 100 years bookmobiles have brought a library to those who otherwise would not have access to one

Read a Bookmobile Mystery today!

B.B. Cantwell's Portland Bookmobile Mystery Series
Laurie Cass's Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series
Nora Page's Bookmobile Mystery Series
Ian Samsom's Mobile Library Mystery series
Sheila Simonson's Beyond Confusion