Saturday, February 28, 2015

Double Indemnity: Guest post by Maggie King

Maggie King:
Double Indemnity: A Must-See Film for Crime Writers 

"I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn't get the money. And I didn't get the woman.”

You can almost feel sorry for Walter Neff, played to perfection by Fred McMurray in Double Indemnity (1944), my favorite movie of all time. After all, if you go to all the trouble of murdering your lover’s husband, shouldn’t you reap some of the benefits?

Double Indemnity is the ultimate film noir—it’s dark, steamy, loaded with atmosphere, and the characters are sleazy as all get out. In this story originally penned by James M. Cain and adapted for the silver screen by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, discontented housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) bewitches insurance salesman Walter Neff into killing her husband. Together, she promises, they will collect on a double indemnity insurance clause.

Phyllis is film noir’s classic conniving woman who lures a man whose brain went on hiatus the moment he laid eyes on her. Walter seems like a good guy, but he’s no match for the lovely and smoldering Phyllis. She doesn’t even seem good—she’s evil to the core. Since he’s only marginally good it’s child’s play for her to ensnare him in her web.

Double Indemnity is a must-see film for crime writers. The superb dialog with its emphasis on double entendres and provocative banter not only entertain but it moves the plot along. The use of light and shadow create a virtual underworld that emphasizes the unsavoriness of the characters and plot.

Writers are frequently advised to show, not tell. When it comes to sex scenes, the censorship of the day forced writers to follow this advice, allowing them to achieve higher levels of creativity. As in other movies of the time sex was left to the imagination using the suggestive dialog and longing looks.

But the film’s best lesson for writers is showing how easily someone can be led astray by promises of a lifetime of riches and passion.

After the murder, things go downhill. For one thing, Walter’s boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) is highly suspicious of Phyllis’s double indemnity claim and investigates it like a dog with ten bones. And Walter and Phyllis grow to distrust each other (big surprise there). By the time Walter realizes that murdering Mr. Dietrichson wasn’t such a good idea, it’s too late. But is he sorry that he killed the man? Or does he only regret that he’s left with nothing to show for his efforts beyond a bullet hole in his shoulder? Again, he says in his confession to Barton Keyes: “I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn't get the money. And I didn't get the woman.”

That’s Double Indemnity in a nutshell.

For photos of Double Indemnity’s film locations: 

For more info on Double Indemnity: 

Maggie King's debut mystery, Murder at the Book Group, is published by Simon and Schuster. She contributed the short story, "A Not So Genteel Murder," to the Sisters in Crime anthology Virginia is for Mysteries, published by Koehler Books.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. She did a stint as an administrator at the Kent-Valentine House in Richmond, Virginia, the setting for "A Not So Genteel Murder."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New Maigret TV Movies starring Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson will star in new ITV adaptation of Maigret. The Mr Bean and Blackadder actor is set to play the famous French detective Jules Maigret in two stand-alone dramas.

from RadioTimes:

ITV has announced a new adaptation of George Simenon's novels about Parisian sleuth Jules Maigret. The books were originally adapted by the BBC in the 1960s, before Michael Gambon stepped into the detective's shoes in an ITV version in 1992.

Rowan Atkinson will play Maigret in two stand-alone, 120-minute films for the channel. Both dramas will be set in 1950s Paris, with screenwriter Stewart Harcourt adapting the books Maigret Sets a Trap and Maigret's Dead Man.

Atkinson said, "I have been a devourer of the Maigret novels for many years and I'm very much looking forward to playing such an intriguing character, at work in Paris during a fascinating period in its history."

The novelist's son John Simenon has given Atkinson his backing, saying: “Maigret has been part of our family for almost nine decades, and we are bringing together one of the best-known characters in world literature with one of the greatest international stars.

"I have no doubt my father, like me, would have approved of Rowan’s casting and been very excited to see him inhabit his most renowned creation.”

HT: EuroCrime

Friday, February 20, 2015

SF Borderlands unique solution to remaining open

Here's a pretty unique response to keeping a bookstore open!

From ShelfAwareness:

In response to ideas put forward at a community meeting held last week and e-mails from customers, Borderlands Books, San Francisco,CA, has come up with a plan that might allow it to remain open. Owner Allan Beatts had previously announced the bookstore would close by the end of next month due to the city's minimum wage proposition, which passed last fall.

In a new statement posted on the Borderlands website, Beatts wrote that effective immediately, "we will be offering paid sponsorships of the store. Each sponsorship will cost $100 for the year and will need to be renewed every year. If we get 300 sponsors before March 31st, we will stay open for the remainder of 2015." He also offered preliminary details on sponsor benefits, and said the goal is to "gather enough paid sponsors to cover the projected short-fall in income that will be the result of the minimum wage increase in San Francisco." Plans call for soliciting sponsors again at the beginning of 2016.

"If it is to succeed, we will need your support--not just right now, but every year moving forwards. So, if you want Borderlands to continue, it is in your hands," Beatts noted, adding: "Prior to the events of the last two weeks, I would never have imagined that something like what follows would ever be possible. The outpouring of affection and emotion that started the moment we announced that we were closing has changed forever the way the I and the rest of the staff see Borderlands. This place has always meant the world to us--that's why we work here--but we never imagined that it meant so much to so many people. Win or lose, open or close, we are all more grateful that we can express for your kind words, sincere compliments and the belief that what we do matters."


Cartoon of the Day: Comma Sense

Thursday, February 19, 2015

News from CrimeFest

CrimeFest, May 14-17, Bristol, UK

The latest news from the organizers:

CRIMEFEST announced that Catherine Aird, this year’s recipient of the Crime Writers’ Association’s prestigious Diamond Dagger, will be a Featured Guest at the convention. This honor is awarded for sustained excellence and a significant contribution to crime fiction. For almost forty years Catherine has been entertaining readers with her cosy novels featuring Inspector Sloan, and we look forward to finding out more about her work in May.

A few of this year’s events are listed on the PROGRAMME page, but delays mean that we don’t anticipate listing a full draft itinerary until March.

As in previous years, CRIMEFEST’s Crime Writing Day and Pitch an Agent are proving popular, and places are (also) filling up. Crime Writing Day speakers include M.R. Hall, William Ryan and Joanna Penn, as well as UK agents and publishers. Delegates signing up for both the crime writing day and a full CRIMEFEST pass will receive a £50 rebate. Go to the CRIME WRITING DAY page for more information. For aspiring crime writers who have completed a manuscript there is the Pitch an Agent strand. Consider it ‘speed-dating for an agent’ meets the BBC’s Dragon’s Den as participants are offered the opportunity to gain representation by pitching their work to three agents simultaneously in one private session.

Indie authors and new publishing opportunities are increasingly making a foothold in the book world. With thanks to J.F. Penn, who is in charge of the Emerging Indie Voices panel, we can announce the four indie crime writers participating in this year’s event: Celina Grace, Chris Langmuir, J.J. Marsh and Nick Stephenson. To learn more about them and independent publishing, be sure to attend this year’s Emerging Indie Voices panel.

CRIMEFEST has been fortunate to have hosted some of the best crime writers in the world, but this year’s inclusion of a Pulitzer prize winner is a first. For a chance to win one of five copies of the authors’ debut crime novel all registered delegates need to do is contact us at with the name of the author in the subject line, and their full postal address in the body of the message. Winners will be picked at random, with the first one also receiving  a signed bookplate. The deadline to enter is 1 March, 2015.

Can you write a crime story in 150 words, and would you like to win to passes to CRIMEFEST? If so, the entry deadline is looming and you should head to CRIMEFEST’s FLASHBANG page for more information on how to enter.


恭賀發財 Gung Hay Fat Choy! This is the Year of the Ram (Year of the Goat, Year of the Sheep). Chinese New Year begins today.

O.K. why the confusion of the symbol for this year, as opposed to last year--the Year of the Snake..or prior years: The Year of the Rat, the Year of the Horse, etc.? An article in NBC News explains this  creature confusion in 2015. 

It all stems from the fact that the Chinese use one character for horned animals — translated as "yang" in Mandarin, according to Chinese and linguistics professor Wei Hong. Yang, when used to mean goat, is seen as something strong with a "quiet spirit," Hong said. A sheep is considered softer. 

The NBA's Golden State Warriors unveiled Chinese New Year-themed uniforms that they will wear Friday to celebrate what the team calls the Year of the Goat. Meanwhile, the New York City Council is hosting a Lunar New Year event next week touting a Year of the Ram revelry. Geography can also make a difference. Sheep are raised in northern China, while goats are more common in southern China, which plays into what the year is called depending on one's location.
Generally, people in mainland China seem to be keen on calling it the Year of the Goat — a nod to the country's culinary past, Hong said after reading news reports on the confusion. But she suggests English-speakers don't need to lock horns over the debate, and might want to go authentic: Year of the Yang.

I've put together Chinese New Year's Mystery Lists for the past few years, as well as some titles (scroll down) that take place in China, not necessarily during the New Year. As always, I welcome any additions.


Year of the Dog, Red Jade by Henry Chang 

Year of the Dragon by Robert Daley 
Neon Dragon by John Dobbyn
Dim Sum Dead by Jerrilyn Farmer 
The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen
Chop Suey by Ty Hutchison

The Skull Cage Key by Michael Marriott
The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan
City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley
The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee by Robert Van Gulik (7th Century china) "New Year's Eve in Lan-Fang"

Short story by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer: "The Lady Fish Mystery", EQMM, September/October 1996.

The Nancy Drew Notebooks: The Chinese New Year Mystery by Carolyn Keene
The New Year Dragon Dilemma by Ron Roy

A good reference book for contemporary crime fiction in China: Chinese Justice, the Fiction: Law and Literature in Modern China by Jeffrey C. Kinkley (Stanford University Press)

Not specifically about Chinese New Year, here's a short list of authors/mysteries that are set in China:

Ralph Arnote, Hong Kong, China
Biggers, Earl Derr, Charlie Chan: The House Without a Key, The Chinese Parrot, Behind the Curtain, The Black Camel, Keeper of the Keys
Lisa Brackmann, Rock Paper Tiger, Hour of the Ram
Stephen Coonts, Hong Kong
Charles Cumming, Typhoon
Jim Michael Hansen, Bad Laws
S.G. Kiner, The Hong Kong Connection
Diane Wei Liang, The Eye of Jade
Paul French, Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
John L. Mariotti, The Chinese Conspiracy
Peter May, The Firemaker
Xiaolong Qiu, Death of a Red Heroine (and other titles)
Wang Shuo, Playing for Thrills
Eliot Pattison, Many novels set in Tibet
Catherine Sampson, The Pool of Unease
Lisa See, Flower Net
Deborah Shlian, Rabbit in the Moon
Eric Stone, Shanghaied
Nury Vittachi, The Feng Shui Detective
Christopher West, Death of a Blue Lantern

Yin-Lien C. Chin, The "Stone Lion" and Other Chinese Detective Stories
Chen Xiaoquing, Sherlock in Shanghai

Here's a wonderful blog on Writing in China by Bertrand Mialaret (in French)

Also I'll have recipes on my other blog, Dying for Chocolate, for a Chocolate Chinese New Year...Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Goat and Sheep Truffles..

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ngaio Marsh Award Longlist

This is my fifth (or fourth?) year judging the Ngaio Marsh Award, and I always find it so exciting. With this year's longlist, I get to revisit some of my favorite New Zealand writers, as well as being exposed to new ones...ones whose books don't always make it to the States. The Ngaio Marsh Award is the brainchild of Craig Sisterson! 

Craig announced the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award Longlist today! According to Craig, the books range "from dark and violent thrillers to quieter mysteries and character studies tied up with crime, as well as a range of geographic and chronological settings." 

The Nominees
Drowning City, by Ben Atkins (Random House)
Five Minutes Alone, by Paul Cleave (Atria)
Databyte, by Cat Connor (Rebel e-Publishers)
The Petticoat Men, by Barbara Ewing (Head of Zeus)
A History of Crime: The Southern Double-Cross, by Dinah Holman (Ravensbourne)
Trilemma, by Jennifer Mortimer (Oceanview)
Swimming in the Dark, by Paddy Richardson (Upstart Press)
The Children’s Pond, by Tina Shaw (Pointer Press)
Fallout, by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press)

Cartoon of the Day: Curling up with a Good Book

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hail to the Chief: Presidential Crime Fiction// President's Day Mysteries

Presidents Day: This is an updated list that features the U.S. President in mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction. This is not a definitive list, and I welcome any additions. I've divided the list into categories, but added more at the end under 'other'. I am also posting a separate list of Abraham Lincoln Mysteries.

Political Election and Thrillers
Rubicon by Lawrence Alexander
Saving Faith by David Baldacci
Political Suicide and Touched by the Dead by Robert Barnard
Capitol Conspiracy by William Bernhardt
Collateral Damage by Michael Bowen
Three Shirt Deal by Stephen J. Cannell
Impaired Judgement by David Compton
Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
Term Limits by Vince Flynn
The Scandal Plan by Bill Folman
The Power Broker by Stephen W. Frey
Spook Country by William Gibson
Fast Track, Sleeping Dogs by Ed Gorman
The Fourth Perimeter by Tim Green
The People's Choice by Jeff Greenfield
Hazardous Duty by W.E.B. Griffin
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
The President's Daughter and The White House Connection by Jack Higgins
The Enemy Within  by Noel Hynd
First Daughter by Eric Lustbader
Executive Privilege by Philip Margolin
The Race, Protect and Defend, Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson
Politics Noir: Gary Phillips, Editor
Missing Member by Jo-Ann Power
Dark Horse by Ralph Reed
Dead Heat, The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg
Dead Watch by John Sandford
State of the Union by Brad Thor
Capital Crimes by Stuart Woods

Assassination Attempts
American Quartet by Warren AdlerSherlock Holmes in Dallas by Edmund Aubrey
Primary Target by Max Allan Collins
Campaign Train (Murder Rides the Campaign Train) by The Gordons
Glass Tiger by Joe Gores
The President's Assassin by Brian Haig
Murder at Monticello by Jane Langton
The Surrogate Assassin by Christopher Leppek
Gideon's March by J.J. Marric
The Kidnapping of the President by Charles Templeton
Pursuit by James Stewart Thayer
Primary Target by Marilyn Wallace
Watchdogs by John Weisman

We are Holding the President Hostage by Warren Adler
The Camel Club by David Baldacci
Line of Succession by Brian Garfield
Madam President by Anne Holt
Oath of Office by Steven J. Kirsch
The Kidnapping of the President by Charles Templeton

Presidential Disappearances
Missing! by Michael Avallone
The President's Plan is Missing by Robert J. Serling
The President Vanishes by Rex Stout

Fixing the Election
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
The 13th Directorate by Barry Chubin
Atropos by William DeAndrea
The Red President by Martin Gross
The Ceiling of Hell by Warren Murphy
The Trojan Hearse by Richard S. Prather
 President Fu Manch by Sax Rohmer
The Big Fix by Roger L. Simon

Presidential Crisis
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II
Vanished by Fletcher Knebel
A Fine and Dangerous Season by Keith Raffel

The President as Detective
Speak Softly by Lawrence Alexander
Lincoln for the Defense by Warren Bull
Mr President, Private Eye, edited by Martin Greenberg & Francis M. Nevins
Bully by Mark Schorr 

The JFK Plot
Too many to list, but...
Mongoose, RIP by William F. Buckley
Executive Action by Mark Lane, Donald Freed and Stephen Jaffe
The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry

Presidential Families
Deadly Aims by Ron L. Gerard
The President's Daughter by Jack Higgins
The Devil's Bed by William Kent Krueger
The First Lady Murders, edited by Nancy Pickard
Murder and the First Lady (and other novels) By Elliot Roosevelt
Murder in the White House (and other novels) by Margaret Truman
They've Shot the President's Daughter by Edward Stewart

The President's Mind, The 20th Day of January by Ted Allbeury
The Kennedy Connection by Dick Belsky
Enslaved by Ron Burns
The Plan by Stephen J. Cannell
Killing Time by Caleb Carr
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter
Ex Officio by Timothy Culver (Donald Westlake)
The President's Vampire, Blood Bath by Christopher Farnsworth
FDR's Treasure, Lincoln's Hand by Joel Fox
The President's Henchman, The Next President by Joseph Flynn
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series
The First Patient by Michael Palmer
Treason at Hanford by Scott Parker
Keeping House by Tucker and Richard Phillips
Acts of Mercy by Bill Pronzini and Barry Malzberg
The President's Daugher by Mariah Stewart
Put a Lid on It by Donald Westlake
President Lincoln's Spy by Steven Wilson

An Anthology
Mr President, Private Eye, edited by Martin H. Greenberg. Different historical presidents in the role of sleuth

Abraham Lincoln Mysteries
Abraham Lincoln: Detective by Allen Appel
A Night of Horrors: A Historical Thriller about the 24 Hours of Lincoln's Assassination by John C. Berry
The Impeachment of Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter
Lincoln's Hand by Joel Fox
The Lincoln Letter by Gretchen Elassani and Phillip Grizzell
Lincoln's Diary by DL Fowler
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
The Assassin's Accomplice by Kate Clifford Larson
The Lincoln Letter by William Martin
The Lincoln Secret by John A. McKinsey
The First Assassin by John J. Miller
The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O'Brien
The Cosgrove Report: Being the Private Inquiry of a Pinkerton Detective into the Death of President Lincoln by G.J.A. O'Toole
President Lincoln's Secret, President Lincoln's Spy by Steven Wilson

Sunday, February 15, 2015


The Bosch Series Is Streaming Now On Amazon Prime in the USA, the UK And Germany Bosch 

All ten episodes of Bosch are streaming now on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Season 1 combines elements of The Concrete Blonde, City of Bones, and Echo Park. Michael Connelly is a producer and writer on Bosch. The show stars Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch, Jamie Hector as Jerry Edgar, Amy Aquino as Lt. Grace Billets, Lance Reddick as Irvin Irving, Annie Wersching as Julia Brasher, Jason Gedrick as Raynard Waits. Scott Wilson as Dr. Guyot, and Mimi Rogers as Honey Chandler.

Watch in the USA:
Watch in the UK:
Watch in Germany:

You can learn more about Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service here and sign up for a Amazon Prime Free Trial here. The show will begin streaming in Canada via CraveTV on February 14, and will begin airing weekly this month in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway on HBO Nordic. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cartoon of the Day: Valentine's Day

HT: Doc Quatermass


Toronto Star Baseball writer and mystery author Alison Gordon: R.I.P. She was Major League baseball's first female beat writer.

Alison Gordon came from a writing family. Her paternal grandfather was a best-selling Canadian novelist under the pen name of Ralph Connor. Her maternal grandfather, Isaac Anderson, reviewed mystery novels for the New York Times. Her mother, Ruth Gordon, worked in publishing as an editor and her father was at one time managing editor of The Nation magazine. Her older brother, Charles, became a newspaper columnist.

But Alison's writing career didn't begin in earnest until her mid-30s when, as a freelance writer, she earned a National Magazine Award for humour writing in 1978. She joined the Toronto Star in 1979 to cover the Toronto Blue Jays, the first woman beat writer. Her first season was difficult, her efforts to gain access to locker rooms often attracting more attention than the games she was covering. But she prevailed and won a National Newspaper Award citation for sportswriting in 1979.

As a baseball writer, Alison demonstrated an effortless style, an appreciation for the human side of the game, as well as a biting wit. She covered the Blue Jays for five years and published a memoir about that period, Foul Balls, published in 1984. Her time with baseball also provided the raw material for a series of five mystery novels whose central character was Kate Henry, a baseball reporter who found herself solving murders. Prairie Hardball, the last in the series, was published in 1997.

From the Toronto Star:

Before she took over the Blue Jays’ beat for the Toronto Star in 1979, Alison Gordon was a highly regarded humorist and comedy writer, talents she eventually discovered would serve her well as she chronicled the daily grind of a fledgling ball club. “You had to have a sense of humour to cover the Blue Jays,” she told the Star in 1984, “at least in the first few years.” 

As Major League Baseball’s first female beat writer, Gordon also needed a thick skin, and she had that, too. “She was relentless,” said Lloyd Moseby, who played for the Jays throughout the 1980s. “A lot of women that are in the profession right now should be very thankful for what Alison did and what she went through. She took a beating from the guys. She was a pioneer for sure.” 

Long celebrated as a trailblazer for women sportswriters, Gordon died Thursday morning at Toronto East General Hospital. 

She was 72.

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolate Assortment

Friday, February 13, 2015

Audie Award Finalists

Audio Publishers Association’s 2015 Audie Award Finalists in 2 of the 30 categories (“the only awards program in the United States devoted entirely to honoring spoken word entertainment”).
HT: The RapSheet.

• The Dead Will Tell, by Linda Castillo; narrated by Kathleen McInerney (Macmillan Audio)
• Hounded, by David Rosenfelt; narrated by Grover Gardner (Listen & Live Audio)
• Malice, by Keigo Higashino; narrated by Jeff Woodman (Macmillan Audio)
• Missing You, by Harlan Coben; narrated by January LaVoy (Brilliance)
• Providence Rag, by Bruce DeSilva; narrated by Jeff Woodman (Audible)
• The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith; narrated by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio)

• The Avengers, Lost Episodes, Vol. 1: Hot Snow, adapted by John Dorney; narrated by Various (Big Finish Productions)
• Dead Six, by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari; narrated by Bronson Pinchot (Audible)
• In the Morning I’ll Be Gone, by Adrian McKinty; narrated by Gerard Doyle (Blackstone Audio)
• The Lost Key, by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison; narrated by Renee Raudman and MacLeod Andrews (Brilliance)
• Those Who Wish Me Dead, by Michael Koryta; narrated by Robert Petkoff (Hachette Audio)
• Wayfaring Stranger, by James Lee Burke; narrated by Will Patton (Simon & Schuster)

Tony Hays: R.I.P.

From Meredith Phillips, Editor
Perseverance Press/John Daniel & Co.
Tony Hays: R.I.P. at the age 58. His mystery, Shakespeare No More, will be published by Perseverance Press in September.

The only information on his death is from the funeral home's obituary!/Obituary

Since last fall, Tony, a Tennessee native, had been living in Saudi Arabia, teaching English as a second language. He contacted us frequently by email concerning the editing, proofs, and cover of his book. The last time we heard from him was a few weeks ago, when he said he was going to Luxor in Egypt on vacation. According to the obituary he fell ill there and died.

I never met Tony in person, and knew him only through emails. He was charming, collegial, and very cooperative in doing anything possible to benefit the book, and make it the best it could be. He was quite a scholar on Shakespeare and various theories on his possible murder. This was the first in a projected series about Shakespeare's friend, a Stratford constable. Tony had written a previous four-book Arthurian mystery series that garnered nine starred reviews and an award nomination. He will be missed from the company of historical mystery writers, as well as by other colleagues, friends, and family.


Tony Hays was a novelist and journalist who has visited nearly thirty countries, while living and teaching in six of them, including three and a half years in Kuwait. While writing his Arthurian mystery series, set in Dark Ages Britain (Tor/Forge), Tony continued to teach and lecture both at home and abroad. The first two volumes of his series, The Killing Way and The Divine Sacrifice, have been released to critical acclaim. The Stolen Bride and The Beloved Dead are also part of this series. He also wrote the Who's Who Dunit Series that includes Murder on the Twelfth Night and Murder in the Latin Quarter, as well as the non-series novel The Trouble with Patriots.

In addition to writing fiction, Tony Hays is a working journalist who has covered topics as varied as narcotics trafficking (earning his newspaper the Tennessee Press Association award for Public Service in 2000), political corruption, Civil War history, and the war on terror.

Read a PW interview with Tony Hays HERE.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day Mysteries

Here's my updated Valentine's Day Crime Fiction list. Be sure and check out my other blog, DyingforChocolate, for Valentine's Day Chocolate Reviews, Recipes, and Vintage Chocolate Ads.  

February 14, Valentine's Day, is also International Book Giving Day, so books are the perfect Valentine's Day gift. Bundle some of the following mysteries with a box of chocolate truffles, tie it all up in a red ribbon, and you're good to go!

Valentine's Day Mysteries

As Gouda as Dead by Avery Aames 
Regulated for Murder by Suzanne Adair
Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams
Love Lies Bleeding by Susan Wittig Albert
Valentine's Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold
Death of a Valentine by M. C. Beaton
Marked Down for Murder by Josie Belle
The Broken Hearts Club by Ethan Black
Claws and Effect by Rita Mae Brown
How To Murder The Man Of Your Dreams by Dorothy Cannell
The Chocolate Cupid Killings by JoAnna Carl
Sucker Punch by Sammi Carter
Lethal Treasure by Jane Cleland
A Holiday Sampler by Christine E. Collier
Red Roses for a Dead Trucker by Anna Ashwood Collins
St Valentine's Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth Crabtree
A Catered Valentine's Day by Isis Crawford
Cupid's Curse by Kathi Daley
Hard Feelings by Barbara D’Amato
Love With The Proper Killer by Rose Deshaw
The Saint Valentine's Day Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich
Happy Valentine’s Day by Michelle Fitzpatrick
The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming
Peach Cobbler Murder by Joanne Fluke
St. Valentine's Night by Andrew M. Greeley
Caveman's Valentine by George Dawes Green
My Bloody Valentine by Alastair Gunn
Bleeding Hearts by Jane Haddam
The Valentine's Day Murder by Lee Harris
Deadly Valentine by Carolyn G. Hart
Deadly Valentine by Jenna Harte
Death of a Chocoholic by Lee Hollis
Cupid's Revenge, The Sham by Melanie Jackson
Sugar and Spite by G.A. McKevett
Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz 
Killing Cupid by Laura Levine
Valentine's Victim by Harper Lin
A Fatal Slip by Meg London 
February Fever by Jess Lourey
The Scent of Murder by Jeffrey Marks
Sugar and Spite by G.A. McKevett
Buttercream Bump Off by Jenn McKinlay
The Valentine Victim by Dougal McLeish
Valentine Murder, Chocolate Covered Murder by Leslie Meier
Love You to Death by Grant Michaels
Cat Playing Cupid by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
The Body in the Attic, The Body in the Snowdrift by Katherine Hall Page
A Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell
My Deadly Valentine by David W. Robinson
Valentined by Patricia Rockwell
Valentine by Tom Savage
The Treble Wore Trouble by Mark Schweizer
Sweet Hearts by Connie Shelton
Gilt by Association by Karen Rose Smith
Murder of a Pink Elephant by Denise Swanson
One Rough Man by Brad Taylor
The Coniston Case by Rebecca Tope
The Lucy Valentine mystery series by Heather Webber
Daughter Of The Stars by Phyllis A. Whitney

Short Stories
Crimes of Passion with stories by Nancy Means, B.J. Daniels, Jonathan Harrington and Maggie Right Price
My Heart Cries Out for You by Bill Crider
Valentine's Day Is Killing Me edited by Leslie Esdaile, Mary Janice Davidson, Susanna Carr
Crimes of the Heart edited by Carolyn G. Hart
Love and Death, edited by Carolyn G. Hart
Valentine’s Day: Women Against Men-Stories of Revenge edited by Alice Thomas
Homicidal Holidays: Fourteen Tales of Murder and Merriment, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman & Marcia Talley

Children's Literature
Valentine's Day Disaster by Geronimo Stilton
Scooby-Doo! A Very Scary Valentine's Day

As always, let me know if I've missed any titles!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Helen Eustis, whose college experiences inspired her Edgar Award-winning novel The Horizontal Man, "in which a philandering English professor is murdered at a small college replete with psychologically unstable students and professors," died January 11. She was 98. She won the Edgar from Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel in 1947. Eustis also translated books written in French, including works by authors Christiane Rochefort and Georges Simenon. 

Read the NYT Obit Here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Real World Of Sherlock: Guest post by B.J. Rahn

Today I welcome scholar, author and friend, B.J. Rahn. Professor B. J. Rahn teaches English literature at Hunter College in New York. She has been teaching, researching, and writing about crime fiction for over two decades. In addition, she gives courses at the Renaissance academy in Naples, Florida. Rahn has published articles in journals and reference books such as The Armchair Detective, St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writing, Scribner's Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage, The Dictionary of Literary Biography and the Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing. She alsoleads detective walking tours. In the UK, the tours visit sites in the lives and fiction of authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Margery Allingham. In the USA, the tours feature New York authors Dashiell Hammett, Rex Stout, Linda Fairstein and Edgar Allan Poe. Virtual tours are available as slide lectures.

B.J. Rahn: 
The Real World of Sherlock

The Real World of Sherlock was not my idea, though I have been a devoted fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was a teenager and am a proud member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Instead, when an editor at Amberley Publishing read about my Sherlock Holmes walking tours in London, she decided I was well enough acquainted with Sherlock and familiar enough with his world to write a book about it all.

The tours feature costumed characters who ‘materialize’ at appropriate sites along the way. The route begins near Russell Square where Arthur Conan Doyle lived in Montague Place next door to the British Museum and where Sherlock Holmes later followed in his footsteps to Montague Street around the corner. Then we pass by Mr. Windigate’s Alpha Inn en route to Covent Garden market where Holmes found the thief who stole the Blue Carbuncle. Across the street in the cells at the Bow Street Magistrates Court he unmasked Neville St. Clair, the Man with the Twisted Lip. In the next block south stands the Lyceum Theatre, where Mary Marston awaited her fate by the second pillar. Moving along the Strand, we pass Simpson’s restaurant and the Strand Magazine offices before stopping briefly by the post office where Beryl Stapleton sent Holmes the warning telegram in the Hound of the Baskervilles. Having visited the strategic site of the Lowther Arcade so crucial in “The Final Problem,” we viewed the Charing Cross Hotel where Holmes trapped Hugo Oberstein, an infamous spy who stole the Bruce Partington Plans. Finally, we finish at the Sherlock Holmes Pub at the foot of Northumberland Avenue. Among its treasures is the recreation of Holmes’ Baker Street sitting room from the 1951 Festival of Britain.

However, it’s a giant step from researching and leading a walking tour of a given area of London to writing a book about Sherlock’s ‘world’. I quickly discovered that apart from documenting Edgar Allan Poe’s detective tales as a source of literary inspiration, materials in American libraries on Conan Doyle and contemporary London life were limited. Ditto the history of the British police and their methods. This was a perfect opportunity to visit the English version of the Library of Congress in London, my favorite city! So I spent nearly six months happily beavering away at the British Library near St. Pancras and, after hours, enjoying the multitude of pleasures London offers.

Mind you, it wasn’t all skittles and beer! Fathoming the BL catalogue system for late 19th and early 20th century periodicals containing articles, reviews, and interviews often required Sherlockian skills. Inevitably, some volumes were missing or so fragile that pages couldn’t be photocopied. It was thrilling, though, when a sought-after source was located and yielded precious information. Conan Doyle’s interviews in Tit-Bits and the Bookman described how he adapted the diagnostic method of his medical mentor Joseph Bell to criminal investigation and how he literally created Holmes in Bell’s image. Dr. Bell’s article in the British Medical Journal (1874) outlining the medical use of cocaine led me to a treasure trove of reports throughout the 1870’s on cocaine trials by his colleagues and other contemporary practitioners. A decade prior to Holmes’ first appearance, their research provided all the details Conan Doyle needed to describe Holmes’ cocaine habit.

Acquiring the correspondence initiated by Joe Bell after Conan Doyle’s public acknowledgement that Bell was his model for Sherlock Holmes was another high point. Some passages from these letters, lodged in the Stisted Collection of the library of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, have been quoted out of context by several biographers and literary scholars who have drawn contradictory interpretations and/or based questionable claims on them while ignoring other passages. They were a revelation. As a group they filled in the blanks and provided continuity while revealing Conan Doyle’s warm regard and admiration for Bell as well as Bell’s professional respect for his former student. As the two men renewed their acquaintance, Bell offered suggestions for characters and plot lines of Holmes’ adventures. Reading the letters not only solved the mystery of what was actually said and established a basis for legitimate interpretation, but the tone as much as the actual words and phrases brought the two men to life and vividly evoked their relationship. I felt like a voyeur who been privy to the process of creating a Sherlock Holmes story.

Visiting the West Brompton office of the Metropolitan Police Archive produced insights into criminal investigation in the real world. I went looking for photographs of police at work between 1881 and 1913, the period of most of Holmes’ cases, and was given access to box files full of photographs, official records, and newspaper articles. They contained the official order creating Scotland Yard’s Criminal Investigation Department with the appointment of the first six detectives. The personal diary of Inspector Frederick Abberline offered a day-by-day account of Jack the Ripper investigations. Contemporary newspaper cuttings chronicled Inspector Walter Dew’s dramatic trip across the Atlantic to arrest Hawley Harvey Crippen and bring him back to be tried for murder. There was even a picture of the kind of police steam launch used to chase Jonathan Small and Tonga down the Thames in The Sign of Four. I came away with much increased knowledge and appreciation of the Metropolitan Police and a souvenir pen from Scotland Yard.

So my Sherlockian walking tours ultimately led me on a much longer safari into Sherlock’s world.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Love is Murder XVI

The Black Hour / Lori Rader-Day

Dead Between the Lines / Denise Swanson
Black Stiletto: Secrets and Lies / Raymond Benson

Retribution / Annie Rose Alexander

Shall We Not Revenge /D. M. Pirrone

Death and White Diamonds / Jeffery Markowitz

Plagued by Quilt / Molly MacRae

The Charlie Fox Series / Zoe Sharp

What We Do For Love / Kiddieland & Other Misfortunes / Tim Chapman

Photo caption: 2015 LOVEY Award winners, from left, front: Lori Rader-Day, Molly MacRae, D.M. Pirrone, Denise Swanson, Raymond Benson; back row: Zoe Sharp, Annie Rose Alexander, Jeff Markowitz.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Friday, February 6, 2015


The Crime Writer’s Association announced that the recipient of this year’s prestigious Diamond Dagger is Catherine Aird. Congratulations!

Following in the footsteps of Simon Brett, P.D James, Lee Child and Frederick Forsyth, Catherine has kept readers entertained for six decades with her deliciously dark tales. In that time she’s written over twenty novels, including the hugely popular Chronicles Of Calleshire, and completed several collections of short stories.

Despite being such a prolific and popular author, Catherine was still surprised to discover she was to be presented the highest honor in the crime writing genre.

“It feels very nice indeed, I can assure you!” beams Catherine. “I am absolutely delighted. I’m so glad to be part of such a happy group as the CWA and we do all tend to read each other’s work. I think I’ve enjoyed writing my books probably more than my readers have enjoyed reading them.”

The Diamond Dagger will be presented to Catherine at a glittering ceremony at the Hotel Russell in London on 30th June 2015.

“Catherine Aird is an inspirational figure to other crime writers,” says Alison Joseph, the CWA chair. 

“Not only is her writing irresistible and wonderful, but she’s also a great champion of other authors and of crime writing itself. That makes her the perfect choice to receive this year’s Diamond Dagger.”

Each year, the CWA committee chose the winner of the Diamond Dagger from a shortlist of authors nominated by the members. That shortlist represents the writers whom have been judged worthy by their peers, which makes the award so very special. 

Shortlisted authors must meet two essential criteria: first, their careers must be marked by sustained excellence, and second, they must have made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation. The award is made purely on merit without reference to age, gender or nationality.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Geraldine McEwan: R.I.P.

Geraldine McEwan, best known for playing Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, has passed away at the age of 82.

From Radio Times:

The British star was best known for playing Agatha Christie's famous sleuth Miss Marple between 2004 and 2009 in ITV's Marple. 

"Following a stroke at the end of October and a period in hospital, Geraldine McEwan passed away peacefully on January 30. 

McEwan's acting career began on the stage during the 1940s, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and stars such as Laurence Olivier. 
Her television roles included The Barchester Chronicles, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Mulberry, the 80s production of Mapp and Lucia and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, for which she won a best actress Bafta in 1991.