Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cartoon of the Day: Chocolate

Day of the Dead Crime Fiction: A List

Mystery Readers Journal  had an issue a few years ago on Crime for the Holidays.

What holiday could be more fitting to Mystery Fiction than El Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead Crime Fiction

The Day of the Dead by John Creed
The Day of the Dead: The Autumn of Commissario Ricciardi by Maurzio de Giovanni
Days of the Dead by Barbara Hambly
Sugar Skull by Denise Hamilton
Dios De Los Muertos by Kent Harrington
The Wrong Goodbye by Chris Holm
Day of the Dead by J.A. Jance
Devil's Kitchen by Clark Lohr
Weave Her Thread with Bones by Claudia Long
The Day of the Dead by Bart Spicer

Any titles I missed?

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Taste of Africa: AKUkBUk: Post by Michael Stanley

Today I welcome back Michael Stanley. Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both are retired professors who have worked in academia and business. Sears is a mathematician, specializing in geological remote sensing. Trollip is an educational psychologist, specializing in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and a pilot. They were both born in South Africa. They have been on a number of flying safaris to Botswana and Zimbabwe, where it was always exciting to buzz a dirt airstrip to shoo the elephants off. They have had many adventures on these trips including tracking lions at night, fighting bush fires on the Savuti plains in northern Botswana, being charged by an elephant, and having their plane’s door pop open over the Kalahari, scattering navigation maps over the desert.. These trips have fed their love both for the bush, and for Botswana. It was on one of these trips that the idea surfaced for a novel set in Botswana. Their books include Deadly Harvest, Death of the Mantis, Goodluck Tinubu (A Deadly Trade) and A Carrion Death.

Michael and Stanley:

Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu is the main character of our detective series that is set in the land-locked country of Botswana in Southern Africa.

Kubu is a large man with a large appetite. His nickname “Kubu” means hippopotamus in the local language, so you get the general idea. He enjoys food and wine and is often found frequenting Gaborone’s eating establishments. If it comes to a choice of quantity or quality, Kubu always chooses quality – as long as the quantity is sufficient!

Kubu is so big that his wife, Joy, is always trying to put him on a diet. Kubu often eats the salad or whatever she gives him, then sneaks out for what he deems a real meal – hamburger, steak, or whatever. Usually with his favorite daytime drink, a steelworks, or a glass of wine, if he can afford it, in the evening.
The food in his hometown, Gaborone, is reasonably eclectic for a small city, with fine Portuguese and Brasilian fare, as well as delicious Botswana steaks. Of course, there is fast food, which Kubu disdains, and a variety of ordinary restaurants with normal fare.

Kubu is particularly fond of African food or, at least, food that has become known as African. One of his favorites is bobotie – a lightly-curried ground-lamb (or beef) casserole containing fruit, such as raisins, grated apple, or apricots. Its origins are from the Malayan slaves brought to Cape Town by the Dutch in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Even if you do not normally like curries, you will enjoy this delicious dish.

2 pounds (900 gms) ground lamb or beef
1 slice bread
3 cups (700 mls) milk
4 eggs
1 medium yellow or white onion chopped
1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 gms) curry powder
1 tablespoon (15 gms) brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mls) salt
½ teaspoon (2.5 mls) ground pepper
¼ cup (60 mls) lemon juice
1 tart apple grated
1 cup (225 gms) seedless raisins
½ cup (125 gms) slivered almonds
Several bay leaves

• Put the bread into a bowl containing all the milk. Let stand.

• Lightly brown the meat in a skillet, breaking up any chunks. Transfer to a large container with a slotted spoon.

• Cook the onion in the remaining fat in the skillet until translucent. Don’t burn!

• Add the curry powder, salt, sugar, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture over the meat.

• Take the bread out of the milk and squeeze out the milk back into the bowl. Put the bread with the meat.

• Add raisins, almonds, apple, and 2 eggs to the meat. Combine. (If you use your hands to do this, it feels great and you can lick your fingers afterwards!)

• Pack the mixture into a casserole dish.

• Combine the remaining two eggs with the milk and pour over meat.

• Push a few bay leaves into the meat.

• Cook for 45 minutes at 300° F (150° C).

It is served over yellow rice – white rice with a touch of turmeric and a handful of raisins – with mango chutney on the side. Leftovers are great hot or cold. Kubu likes to put them in pita bread with sour cream or have them as a filling in an omelet. Yummy.
We have now pulled together a number of Kubu’s favourite recipes in a cookbook, titled A Taste of Africa. The idea for the cookbook and the name KUkBUk came from one of our readers, Vincent Moureau, in Belgium. We love the name, and thank him for coming up with such a wonderfully bad pun!

Now you can enjoy Kubu’s favorite food 


Help alleviate the book famine in Africa 

The KUkBUk is available at Createspace or at Amazon in the States and Europe. The price is about $5.00 depending where you are.

We will donate all proceeds to the wonderful Books for Africa charity (, based in St. Paul, MN. Last year alone, it sent over two million books and hundreds of computers to schools, universities, and libraries throughout Africa. 

KUkBUks also make great stocking stuffers or little gifts to friends.

Cartoon of the Day: Halloween Group Therapy

10 Famous Haunted Hotels in America

Afraid of a hotel/motel shower? Then you might not want to stay at one of these historic 'haunted' hotels. but if you're not, you'll love them. Happy Halloween!

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, where The Shining was set.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles. Guests have claimed to see the image of Marilyn Monroe in a full-length mirror.

The Hotel del Coronado, San Diego.

See More Here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cartoon of the Day: Pumpkin Spice

David Cole: R.I.P.

David Cole: R.I.P.  10/21/15

David Cole was a fine writer and a true friend. Over the years we met at Left Coast Crime, Bouchercon, Literary Salons, and in Berkeley. We had animated, meaningful, political and literary discussions. David called me "Curly".  I will miss him.

Here's an article David wrote for the Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 15:4) with updates. "In his words..."

On the Borderline by David Cole

My first book, Butterfly Lost (HarperCollins, 2000), is a dark mystery with a completely unexpected view of the contemporary American Southwest. Laura Winslow, my central character, is a half-Hopi, Ritalin-abusing computer hacker, living on the run while battling the demons behind her own anxiety disorder. Laura inhabits social, psychological, and geographic borderlands, and continually tries to solve the ambiguities of Native/non-Native identity, the ties and terrors of personal commitments, and the seedy backstreet life of the US/Mexican border region.

My second book, The Killing Maze (Avon, February, 2001), is set in Tucson and on the Tohono O'odham reservation, and deals with large-scale insurance computer fraud involving native Americans. My third book in this series, Stalking Moon (Avon, 2002), continues my focus on political and cultural issues of Hopi and Tohono O'odham tribes in Arizona. The main plot centers around the international and illegal trafficking in women to the US (50,000 in 1999). My main themes revolve around the culturally and politically difficult lives of people of color (i.e., non-gringo) on either side of the US-Mexico border.

UPDATE: Scorpion Rain, my fourth book, is pretty much a straight-ahead thriller of kidnapping and revenge. Dragonfly Bones returns to Native American themes, particularly the issue of repatriation of native artifacts and bones. Shadow Play (due in July, 2004) deals with traditional Navajo issues, particularly the cultural problems caused by skinwalkers.

For six years I have worked for NativeWeb, Inc., a non-profit corporation offering Internet services and information to Native and Indigenous peoples of the world. I am one of the founding members of the collective, and our website at currently averages about 6,000 visitors a day. NativeWeb was chosen as one of the top twenty Humanities sites on the Internet by the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) EDSitement website.

UPDATE: Now in my eleventh year with this non-profit - NativeWeb draws approximately 7,000 daily visitors and now hosts websites for nearly sixty non-profit websites, primarily from Central and South America.

My youthful isolation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula tends to push me towards creating characters who are outsiders, caught between enjoying their small town lives and wanting to be somewhere else. This inevitably colors my writing, so that bright moments are set against a darker side. Few boys I knew in high school liked the emotional complexities of movies or literature or classical music, so I grew up with girls, and in later years, women, as my best friends. This has always influenced my preference for women as strong central characters.

I taught English in college and at an alternative high school, and worked for many years as a technical writer and editor. A political activist since the late 1960s, I founded a political theatre troupe in California during the 1970s. At other times, I've worked in computer support and website design, as a short order cook, patent engineer, and lead guitarist and vocalist in a rock and roll band! I now live with my wife and cats in Syracuse, am building a harpsichord.

UPDATE: The harpsichord project, alas, never ended, so I sold all the parts. At one time we had six cats, we're now down to four. My wife, Deborah Pellow, is a Cultural Anthropology professor at Syracuse University, specializing in West Africa (Ghana), gender issues, AIDS, and the various usages of public space. We also have a place in the desert near Tucson, Arizona, where I spend eight to ten weeks a year writing and researching.

UPDATE: Currently I'm working on the seventh Laura Winslow mystery, a "cozy" set in the music/theatre world of Austin, Texas, and a standalone set in New York City, Syracuse, and Ottawa. I am also working on Jasper, Texas, a non-fiction book about hate crimes, wrapped around a narrative of the heinous 1998 dragging-to-death murder of James Byrd. This book will be published in spring, 2005, by the University of Texas Press.

Among contemporary mystery writers, two people stand out among my favorite writers. T. Jefferson Parker and James Lee Burke. Jeff Parker's Silent Joe set new standards for literary quality of procedurals; his Merci Rayborn books are lessons to anyone who tackles procedural thrillers. Jim Burke has been a major influence in terms of his extraordinary descriptions of people and places. Burke puts more in a single paragraph than other writers do in a page. David Lindsey's earlier books taught me that I could write about dark characters and political situations. Elizabeth George continually teaches me that readers will thrive on well-written, yet intensely complicated characters and plots. Tony Hillerman's love for the southwest, and for Navajo culture, has always been important. And I've enjoyed watching Michael Connelly's career take off big time with his carefully crafted, straight-ahead plotting, and his many nuanced characters.

NOTE: More recent writers I've admired include: Ian Rankin - A Question of Blood is maybe his best work, a great novel; John Harvey and Peter Robinson, especially for their weaving of music throughout the stories; Henning Mankell, extraordinary Swedish writer; Robert Wilson, who brings the hardboiled PI to complex stories set in West Africa; and finally Eliot Pattison, who brings a whole different milieu and talent to The Skull Mantra. I should also add that I've always been influenced by the hyper-urgent, somewhat neurotic yet fluid suspense writing of Elliston Trevor, as Adam Hall, writing the Quiller novels. Nobody matches this writing for sheer continuity of thrills from the very first page.

Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park was an important book for me. When asked how long he'd lived in Russia, because he seemed to know Moscow so well, Smith is reported to have said he'd never been there. It was all research and rewriting. Whatever the truth of this comment, it has been one of my lodestones. Know what you're writing about, polish it as best you can. This is even more complicated and difficult for me, since I am neither a woman nor a Native American, yet these are the characters that most fascinate me.

My writing has always been politically motivated. Quite frankly, I chose the mystery format because it was a good-selling market, and I could wrap my politics around the plot. And in a very real sense, mysteries are one of the last remaining genres where morality plays a central role. I want "good" to triumph. As much as I admire Elmore Leonard's talent, I often have difficulty separating the moral centers of his characters who survive from those who don't.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cartoon of the Day: Aging Witches

Spooky Plants for Halloween (and other times)

Love these suggestions from Sunset Magazine for Spooky Plants for decorating for Halloween. Do you have any other plants you'd suggest?

View more with links to the plants here:

Book and Bed: Tokyo Book-Themed Hostel

What reader doesn't dream of sleeping in a Bookstore? Well, we readers do, anyway. A Bookstore-Themed Hostel is set to open in November in Tokyo.

According to Mental_floss:

The interior of Book and Bed looks like something out of a book lover's fantasy. Lining the shelves of the hostel are hundreds of English and Japanese titles. Books are even hung from the ceiling in a way that makes them appear as if they’re gliding overhead. Guests can read on one of the hostel’s sofas piled with pillows, or in their capsule-style sleeping quarters equipped with personal reading lamps. Some beds are even located behind the actual bookshelves, and guests can climb a ladder to access the second level. 
 While the books at this bookstore-themed hostel aren’t for sale, guests are free to read to their hearts' content for the duration of their stay. You can book your trip today for $32 to $50 a night.

HT: Michael Halpren

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cartoon of the Day: Ghostly Crimes

The Occupational Hazards of a Travel Mystery Writer: Guest Post by Diana Renn

Today I welcome Diana Renn, Diana Renn writes contemporary novels for young adults featuring globetrotting teens, international intrigue, and more than a dash of mystery. TOKYO HEIST, LATITUDE ZERO and BLUE VOYAGE are all published by Viking Children’s Books / Penguin Young Readers Group.  She is also the Fiction Editor at YARN (Young Adult Review Network), an award-winning online magazine featuring short-form writing for teens.

Diana Renn:
The Occupational Hazards of a Travel Mystery Writer 

Like many people, I rarely take a true vacation anymore. It’s hard for most of us to disconnect from our work, even in remote locations, despite our best intentions. Yet arguably this problem is even more of an occupational hazard for me. Here’s the thing. Even when I completely unplug from my electronic devices, as a writer of travel mysteries I cannot escape my work.

I love travel, but writing thrillers set in other countries or ostensibly relaxing venues has made a relaxing vacation impossible. I have hyper-trained my mind to look for danger at every turn.

Early in the process of writing each book, one of the first things I research is crime in the area about which I’m writing. I read the U.S. Department of State website for information about each country in order to understand the dominant types of crime, especially as they may impact American travelers. I scour online newspapers to learn about foreign citizens who have run into trouble abroad—partly to avoid a “ripped from the headlines” story in my work, and partly to get ideas that I might cobble together into a different kind of story. I memorize safety precautions in travel guidebooks to the regions. I research criminal networks to learn how they are organized, and I try to understand law enforcement and government procedures, and what an American – especially one under age eighteen – might do if she found herself in some kind of hot water. Finally, I study online travel forums, from the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree to TripAdvisor, to learn firsthand from real tourists what kinds of harrowing experiences folks have encountered. (Poisoned from pesticides! Mugged and left for dead in a ditch! Conned by a charming man posing as a tour guide!)

Inevitably, family vacations occur when I’m at some point in the process of writing a book. I may look like I’m lounging in a pool chair, but I’m really plotting out crimes and trying to get my sleuths in and out of some kind of trouble. Sometimes I’m even writing notes.

Even when I’m not working out plot points, I’m definitely not relaxing. How could I watch my  child drift perilously close to the water jets in the pool when I just read about how children have been sucked into pool drains – and how resort officials in this country have covered up such incidents, obscuring investigations? How could I not sit up straighter, with one hand on the door handle, when the taxi driver is veering away from the mall and into a dicey neighborhood?

I’m not only vigilant about the potential for crime, I’m constantly on the lookout for new story ideas. My husband is pointing out the sunset over the water, and I’m imagining how someone might get pushed off the dock, and why, and by whom. My child points out the hot-looking car speeding down the highway, and I’m wondering who’s driving the getaway vehicle, and what they’re fleeing from. MY family hears a marching band; I hear the police sirens. Other people might settle back in their seats for the long bus ride, but I have one eye on the driver, wondering when he might swerve and plunge into a ravine, taking a dark secret over a cliff and the rest of us right along with him. I smell smoke somewhere – a barbecue? Or arson? And the partying kids who keep us awake in the hallway of our hotel? Are those shrieks of glee – or of horror?

Training my mind to the potential for crime and danger might not make me the best traveling companion, but I hope it makes me a better writer. Understanding dangers, recent crimes, and law enforcement procedures, before I even begin writing, helps me to hone in on the type of crime and criminals I want to write about. For my books, I try to pick a crime or criminal elements that aren’t merely sensationalistic. For example, laced drinks in Turkey can be a problem for tourists – especially the type of tourists who might find themselves in a bar – and can lead to a certain kind of paranoia. However, it doesn’t happen all the time, and for my teen characters in Blue Voyage, who aren’t going to nightclubs and restaurants, being poisoned by a drink is less of an overt concern. More likely, their brushes with criminals would include theft or encounters with con artists.

I also try to connect the criminal element with some deeper issue that my young sleuth is going to work through in the book. For Blue Voyage, I became interested in smuggling networks and the issue of fraud since Zan herself is preoccupied with the issue of authenticity. Not only must she locate and identify an authentic artifact, she is trying to excavate her authentic self after years of maintaining a certain kind of appearance.

I’ve come to accept that seeing danger everywhere is a necessary part of my job. And I’m grateful that becoming so alert to danger hasn’t put me off of far-flung vacations. (Although I have gradually become convinced that purchasing trip insurance isn’t a bad idea). I’ll always want to travel, and am already planning my next trip. Maybe I’ll see you on the beach, or a plaza, or in the crowds at a museum. Maybe I’ll even save your life! Because one thing I’m sure of is when you’re traveling, anything can happen.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Cartel wins T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award

Congratulations to Don Winslow for winning the T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award for The Cartel

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA) recognizes excellence in books that reflect Southern California culture or lifestyle, with authors/illustrators living within the SCIBA region.

The mystery award is named after T. Jefferson Parker, a life-long resident of Southern California and Edgar Award-winning author.

The Cartel was one of three finalists. The other finalists were:
Marry, Kiss, Kill by Anne Flett-Giordano
The Replacements by David Putnam

Cartoon of the Day: Intent

From today's Bizarro:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween Crime Fiction: A List

Happy Halloween! Here's my updated 2015 list of Halloween Mysteries. Let me know if I've missed any titles. I'd like to make this list as complete as possible. Boo!!


Green Water Ghost by Glynn Marsh Alam
Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert 
Antiques Maul by Barbara Allan
In Charm's Way by Madelyn Alt
Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews
A Roux of Revenge by Connie Archer
Far to Go by May Louise Aswell
Killing Time by Amy Beth Arkaway
Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun, Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming by Kathleen Bacus 
Trick or Treachery: A Murder She Wrote Mystery by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher
Punked by the Pumpkin by Constance Barker
In the Spirit of Murder by Laura Belgrave 
The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin
Spackled and Spooked by Jennie Bentley 
Watchdog by Laurien Berenson
The Ginseng Conspiracy by Susan Bernhardt
A Haunting is Brewing by Juliet Blackwell
Witches of Floxglove Corners by Dorothy Bodoin 
Death of a Trickster by Kate Borden 
Post-Mortem Effects by Thomas Boyle
A Graveyard for Lunatics, The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Rebel without a Cake by Jacklyn Brady
The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Hunt Ball, The Litter of the Law by Rita Mae Brown
Death on All Hallowe'en by Leo Bruce
Halloween by Leslie Burgess
Death Goes Shopping by Jessica Burton
Wycliffe and the Scapegoat by W.J. Burley
Death Goes Shopping by Jessica Burton
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Ann Campbell
The Charm Stone by Lillian Stewart Carl
The Wizard of La-La Land by R. Wright Campbell
The Halloween Murders by John Newton Chance 
Death with an Ocean View by Nora Charles 
Frill Kill, Tragic Magic, Photo Finished, Bedeviled Eggs The Jasmine Moon Murder, Fiber and Brimstone, Bedeviled Eggs, Frill Kill, Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs
Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie 
A Holiday Sampler by Christine E. Collier
Lost Souls by Michael Collins
Not in My Backyard by Susan Rogers Cooper
Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman
Deadly Magic by Elisabeth Crabtree
A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford
Newly Crimsoned Reliquary by Donna Fletcher Crow
Silver Scream, Bantam of the Opera, The Alpine Uproar by Mary Daheim
Halloween Hijinks, Pumpkins in Paradise, Haunted Hamlet by Kathi Daley
The Dracula Murders by Philip Daniels
The Diva Haunts the House, The Ghost and Mrs Mewer by Krista Davis
Fatal Undertaking by Mark de Castrique
Throw Darts at a Cheesecake by Denise Dietz
Trick or Treat, The Halloween Murder by Doris Miles Disney
A Map of the Dark by John Dixon
Ghostly Murders by P. C. Doherty
Died to Match by Deborah Donnelly
Cat with an Emerald Eye by Carole Nelson Douglas
Farmcall Fatality by Abby Deuel
Not Exactly a Brahmin by Susan Dunlap 
Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones by Kaitlyn Dunnett 
A Ghost to Die For by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox
The Bowl of Night by Rosemary Edghill 
The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards
Door of Death by John Esteven 
The Witchfinder by Loren D. Estleman 
Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich 
Dead Ends by Anne C. Fallon 
Sympathy For The Devil by Jerrilyn Farmer
Dead in the Pumpkin Patch by Connie Feddersen 
Blackwork, Hanging by a Thread, Blackwork by Monica Ferris
Scary Stuff by Sharon Fiffer
The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Honora Finkelstein 
Trick or Treachery by "Jessica Fletcher" and Donald Bain
The Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Halloween Murder, Foul Play at the Fair, Trick or Deceit by Shelley Freydont
Broke by Kaye George
Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber
Trick or Treat by Leslie Glaister
Mommy and the Murder by Nancy Gladstone
Haunted by Jeanne Glidewell 
A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling
The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein (YA)
Monster in Miniature by Margaret Grace  
Hell for the Holidays by Chris Gravenstein 
Nail Biter by Sarah Graves 
Deadly Harvest by Heather Graham 
Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood 
Halloween by Ben Greer 
The Snafued Snatch by Jackie Griffey 
Quoth the Raven, Skeleton Key by Jane Haddam
Hallowed Bones by Carolyn Haines
Southern Ghost, Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart 
Sweet Poison by Ellen Hart
Hide in the Dark by Frances Noyes Hart 
Revenge of the Cootie Girls by Sparkle Hayter
Town in a Pumpkin Bash by B.B. Haywood
The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman 
The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes  
Murder on the Ghost Walk by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter 
Already Dead by Charlie Huston
Long Time No See by Susan Isaacs
Murder on Old Main Street, Dirty Tricks by Judith K. Ivie
The Pumpkin Thief, The Great Pumpkin Caper by Melanie Jackson
Murder Among Us by Jonnie Jacobs
A Murder Made in Stitches by Pamela James
The Devil's Cat, Cat's Eye, Cat's Cradle by William W. Johnstone  
The Violet Hour by Daniel Judson
Muffins & Murder by Heather Justesen
Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
Wed and Buried, The Skeleton Haunts a House by Toni L.P. Kelner
Verse of the Vampyre by Diana Killian
Pumpkin Roll by Josi S. Kilpack 
The Animal Hour by Andrew Klavan 
Paws for Murder by Annie Knox
Ghastly Glass by Joyce and Jim Lavene 
Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine 
Death Knocks Twice by James H. Lilley
The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan
Poisoned by Elaine Macko 
Halloween Flight 77 by Debbie Madison 
Satan's Silence by Alex Matthews 
Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery by Ed McBain 
Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McKevett
Death on All Hallows by Allen Campbell McLean
A Sparrow Falls Holiday by Donna McLean
Witch of the Palo Duro by Mardi Oakley Medawar  
Trick or Treat Murder, Wicked Witch Murder, Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier 
Dancing Floor, Prince of Darkness by Barbara Michaels
Monster in Miniature by Camille Minichino 
The Violet Hour by Richard Montanari
A Biscuit, a Casket by Liz Mugavero
Dead End by Helen R. Myers
Nightmare in Shining Armor by Tamar Myers 
Hatchet Job by J.E. Neighbors
Retribution by Patrick J. O'Brien
Deadly Places by Terry Odell

Halloween House by Ed Okonowicz
The Body in the Moonlight by Katherine Hall Page 
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry
Flight of a Witch by Ellis Peters 
Twilight by Nancy Pickard 
A Stitch to Die For by Anastasia Pollack

Murder at Witches Bluff by Silver Ravenwolf
Poltergeist by Kat Richardson 
Death Notice by Todd Ritter 
Spook Night by David Robbins 
A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts
Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts
Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder by Sara Rosett
Scared Stiff by Annelise Ryan
Death of Halloween by Kim Sauke
Mighty Old Bones by Mary Saums 
Murder Ole! by Corinne Holt Sawyer
Tracking Magic by Maria E. Schneider
The Tenor Wore Tapshoes by Mark Schweizer
Phantoms Can be Murder by Connie Shelton
A Killer Maize by Paige Shelton
Dance of the Scarecrows by Ray Sipherd
The Sterling Inheritance by Michael Siverling
The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Susan Smily
Town Haunts by Cathy Spencer
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Ripping Abigail by Barbara Sullivan
Recipe for Murder by Janet Elaine Smith
Carbs and Cadavers by J.B. Stanley
In the Blink of an Eye, Halloween Party by Wendy Corsi Staub 
Murder of a Royal Pain by Denise Swanson
Mourning Shift by Kathleen Taylor
Halloween Homicide by Lee Thayer
Inked Up by Terri Thayer
Charlie's Web by L.L. Thrasher
Gods of the Nowhere by James Tipper
Death in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope
A Dash of Murder by Teresa Trent
Strange Brew by Kathy Hogan Trochek
How to Party with a Killer Vampire by Penny Warner
Murder by the Slice by Livia J. Washburn 
Five-Minute Halloween Mysteries by Ken Weber
The Scarecrow Murders by Mary Welk
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner  
Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells
Ghoul of My Dreams by Richard F. West 
All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams
Mayhem, Marriage, and Murderous Mystery Manuscripts by J.L. Wilson
Killer See, Killer Do by Jonathan Wolfe
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien

And here's a list of Halloween Mystery Short Story anthologies:

Deadly Treats: Halloween Tales of Mystery, Magic and Mayhem, Edited by Anne Frasier 
Trick and Treats edited by Joe Gores & Bill Pronzini
Asking for the Moon (includes "Pascoe's Ghost" and "Dalziel's Ghost") by Reginald Hill
Murder for Halloween by Cynthia Manson
The Haunted Hour, edited by Cynthia Manson & Constance Scarborough
Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense, edited by Michele Slung & Roland Hartman.
Mystery for Halloween (an anthology), edited by Donald Westlake
Halloween Horrors, edited by Alan Ryan
All Hallows' Evil, edited by Sarah E. Glenn
Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman and Marcia Talley
Halloween Thirteen-a Collection of Mysteriously Macabre Tales, by Bobbi Chukran

Saturday, October 24, 2015

New Sherlock Holmes Special to Premiere January 1

MASTERPIECE and PBS announced today that Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, a 90-minute special, will premiere Friday, January 1, 2016 on MASTERPIECE Mystery! on PBS at 9:00 p.m. ET, and simultaneously online at The special will have an encore broadcast on Sunday, January 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET. This is the first time that Sherlock has premiered in the US and the UK on the same day.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the modern retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic stories. But now our heroes find themselves in 1890s London. Beloved characters Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington), Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) also turn up at 221b Baker Street.

Sasscer Hill: Racing Mystery Author Digs Deep to win 2-Book NY Publishing Deal

Today I welcome Sasscer Hill. Sasscer Hill has been involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for most of her life. Now that she’s turned to writing, her mystery and suspense thrillers have received multiple award nominations. She sets her stories against a background of big money, gambling, and horse racing. Her first book in the "Nikki Latrelle" series, FULL MORTALITY, was nominated for both an Agatha and a Macavity Best First Book Award. The second book in her "Fia McKee" series won First Place in the Carrie McCray 2015 Competition for First Chapter of a Novel. The following article appears on an Aiken, S.C. website, and on the author's website. Reprinted with permission.

Sasscer Hill:

Back in 1994, I wrote a romantic suspense novel and landed a literary agent. I thought the rest would be a slam dunk! The agent sent it to major publishers. They rejected my novel, and, the agent dropped me. I was devastated.

Eventually, I started a mystery series, got a new agent, and by the time I wrote the second “Nikki Latrelle” novel, RACING FROM DEATH, it was 2005. Both books lingered at big publishing houses for many months before being rejected. More years crawled by.

I met the owner of a small press who offered to publish RACING FROM DEATH, but I wanted to wait for the big NY deal. While waiting, the stock market crashed. The Maryland racehorse market went down the drain right behind it, and so did my income.

February of 2010 was a terrible month. My longtime favorite author, Dick Francis died. I was diagnosed with lymphoma, and my horse farm was hit by the worst blizzard in the history of Maryland. Desperate, I asked the small press owner if he’d consider the first in the series, FULL MORTALITY. He read the manuscript during the blizzard and accepted it the next day. When my literary agent warned against a small press publication, saying NY publishers wouldn’t touch the rest of my series, we parted ways.

Miraculously, FULL MORTALITY was published in May of 2010, received rave reviews, and was nominated for both Agatha and Macavity Awards. Even better, my lymphoma treatment was successful.

The award nominations helped secure a better agent with a successful track record. But by the time I finished the third book in the “Nikki Latrelle” series, I knew my old agent was right. Big publishers weren’t interested in the latest in a series already in the hands of another publisher–unless it had humongous sales. A word to the wise: you are unlikely to get humongous sales with a small press.

My new agent told me to start a new series. So I did, creating “Fia McKee,” a thirty-two-year-old agent for the real life agency, the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. I drove up to Fair Hill, Maryland, in the winter of 2012, and interviewed the bureau’s President and Vice President. Then, I sold the farm that had been in my family for over two hundred years, my horses, and bought a house in Aiken. I finished the manuscript of FLAMINGO ROAD in 2014 and started the second in the “Fia McKee” series in October that year.

My agent began shopping for publishers in December of 2014. The next spring, an editor at St. Martins Minotaur showed interest, but had reservations about readers’ interest in a horse racing novel. I immediately went to work obtaining statistics on the surprisingly strong popularity of horse racing. Things like NBC’s unprecedented ten-year extension agreement to broadcast rights to the Breeders Cup weekend races as well as the eleven qualifying races that precede that two-day, all-star event. I noted how a recent ESPN poll showed horse racing is the most popular non-team sport, beating out tennis, boxing, and even NASCAR! I sent the report to my agent, who sent it to St. Martins.

Less than a week after this, the Carrie McCray committee awarded my in-progress novel, the second in the “Fia McKee” series, with “Best First-Chapter of a Novel.”

Amazingly, that same week, my small-press trilogy received a glorious endorsement from Steve Haskin, the senior Correspondent for the Blood-Horse, and a former national correspondent for the Daily Racing Form. The recipient of eighteen awards for excellence in turf writing, Haskin wrote,
“Sasscer, the honor comes in your accomplishments and talent, and you should take great pride in such a magnificent trifecta. Congratulations!!! Well done. Dick Francis lives!”

But the brightest star to align that week was a racehorse named American Pharoah. Deep in my heart, I’d believed if the colt could pull off the historical and momentous feat of winning the first Triple Crown in 37 years, it might nudge a publishing offer from St. Martins my way. White knuckled, I watched the final race at Belmont. When American Pharoah blasted around the track on the lead, rocketed down the stretch, pulling away from the Belmont field, I screamed, “My God, he’s going to win!”

Then he opened up and won by daylight! I burst into tears, turned to my husband, and said, “I think I’m going to get an offer.”

I could feel the bright star that is my love for horses rising over me. Pharoah’s race drew 22 million television viewers, and the subsequent radio, television, and social media attention was phenomenal. Within a week, American Pharoah appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and a day later, I received a two-book offer from St. Martins Minotaur.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bookstore Sign of the Day

Black Work: US premiere on Acorn TV 11/2



Acorn TV presents the U.S. Premiere of the police thriller BLACK WORK. BAFTA Award winner Sheridan Smith (The C Word, Cilla, Mrs Biggs, and the upcoming The Huntsman) stars as a police woman drawn into investigating her detective husband’s murder. Matthew McNulty (The Paradise, Jamaica Inn) co-stars as a fellow police officer, while Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes) plays the chief police constable.

Acorn TV will debut the three-episode crime drama on consecutive Mondays beginning Monday, November 2, 2015.

Jo Gillespie (Sheridan Smith) is a policewoman whose detective husband (Kenny Doughty, Vera) is killed in the line of duty while working undercover on a case. Her coworkers expect her to stay out of the investigation, but when alarming information about her husband comes to light, Jo loses faith in her police family and sets out to find the killer herself. Along the way she learns of the many dark secrets surrounding her husband, his colleagues, and the criminals they were investigating, while also confronting the heartbreaking realities of her marriage.

Black Work (3 Episodes, each approx. 60 minutes)
Monday, November 2 – Episode 1 premieres on Acorn TV
Monday, November 9 – Episode 2 premieres on Acorn TV
Monday, November 16 – Episode 3 premieres on Acorn TV

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cartoon of the Day: Be the Author

Harriet Klausner: R.I.P.

Harriet Klausner, of Morrow, GA passed away on October 15, 2015.

(Obituary from Thomas L. Scroggs Funeral Directors)

Mrs. Klausner was a reviewer of books and a newspaper columnist. At one time she was the #1 ranked reviewer on She was a former librarian with a master's degree in library science who was proficient in speed-reading. 

She is survived by her husband, Stan Klausner; son, Eric Klausner (Nancy) of Jonesboro, brother, Larry Karpel (Sindee) of Ft. Myers, FL., numerous nieces and nephews. 

Here's a link to a 2006 Time Magazine article about Harriet Klausner.

Bookshelf Staircase

There are so many areas in your house that you'll find to tuck in a few books. Although I have a lot of bookshelves, I also have a lot of piles. I don't have a second floor in my house, but if I did, this Bookshelf Staircase would be a must. I think I'd add a railing, however, for the dogs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jewish Noir Panel: Berkeley 10/29

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for a Panel on Jewish Noir, Thursday, October 29, 7 p.m. Berkeley. Please RSVP (make a comment below with email) for address and to attend. Seating limited.

Join us for contemporary tales of crime and other dark deeds with Jewish Noir Editor, Kenneth Wishnia, and co-conspirators Summer Brenner, Michael J. Cooper, Steven Wishnia, Melanie Dante, Wendy Hornsby and Stephen Jay Schwartz.

Jewish Noir (PM Press) is a unique collection of new stories by Jewish and non-Jewish literary and genre writers, including numerous award-winning authors such as Marge Piercy, Harlan Ellison, S.J. Rozan, Nancy Richler, Reed Farrel Coleman, Wendy Hornsby, Charles Ardai, and Kenneth Wishnia. 

The stories explore such issues as the Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations, anti-Semitism in the mid- and late-twentieth-century United States, and the dark side of the Diaspora (the decline of revolutionary fervor, the passing of generations, the Golden Ghetto, etc.). The stories in this collection also include many “teachable moments” about the history of prejudice, and the contradictions of ethnic identity and assimilation into American society.

Stories include:
“A Simkhe” (A Celebration), first published in Yiddish in the Forverts in 1912 by one of the great unsung writers of that era, Yente Serdatsky. This story depicts the disillusionment that sets in among a group of Russian Jewish immigrant radicals after several years in the United States. This is the story’s first appearance in English.
“Trajectories,” Marge Piercy’s story of the divergent paths taken by two young men from the slums of Cleveland and Detroit in a rapidly changing post-World War II society.
“Some You Lose,” Nancy Richler’s empathetic exploration of the emotional and psychological challenges of trying to sum up a man’s life in a eulogy.
“Her Daughter’s Bat Mitzvah,” Rabbi Adam Fisher’s darkly comic profanity-filled monologue in the tradition of Sholem Aleichem, the writer best known as the source material for Fiddler on the Roof (minus the profanity, that is).
“Flowers of Shanghai,” S.J. Rozan’s compelling tale of hope and despair set in the European refugee community of Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II.
“Yahrzeit Candle,” Stephen Jay Schwartz’s take on the subtle horrors of the inevitable passing of time.

Cartoon of the Day: Conspiracy Theory Books

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Joyce Lavene: R.I.P.

Such sad news. Mystery author Joyce Lavene, wife of Jim Lavene, passed away today. Joyce & Jim wrote so many series together: Pumpkin Patch Mysteries; Purple Door Detective Agency, Taxi for the Dead Paranomal Mysteries, Retired Witches Mysteries, Missing Pieces Mysteries, Renaissance Faire Mysteries, Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries, Sharyn Howard Mysteries. Writing as J.J. Cook they wrote the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries and Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries...and the list goes on. They have written more than 60 novels.

Joyce and Jim were married for 44 years. My heart and sympathy goes out to Jim, family, and friends at this very sad time.

Erin Mitchell's Cardiac Crew

Erin Mitchell's Cardiac Crew is calling all fans and friends of Erin. Open your heart and pockets to help Erin's HEART.

Erin Mitchell, friend and advocate of the crime fiction community, has been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. In other words, her heart is just too big and too fragile. She's self-insured and the cost of her care is mounting quickly. Funds donated here will offset her bills at Brigham & Women's Hospital, and help pay for her to get insurance coverage. Join us to make sure she gets the best care possible, and keep her on our side for years to come.

Click HERE:

Cartoon of the Day: Reading

Monday, October 19, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe Literary Socks

I want these Edgar Allan Poe-Ka Dot socks. Not only do they have a cute pattern, but for each purchase of a pair, the company Out of Print will send a book to a community in need. This is a no-brainer for me. Edgar Allan Poe-Ka Dot print also comes on a tote and pouch.

HT: Sal Towse

A Short History of the Role of the Coroner: Guest post by Nancy Herriman

Today I welcome Nancy Herriman. A resident of Ohio, Nancy Herriman left a career in Engineering to take up the pen. She is seriously addicted to all things historical as well as dark chocolate and good food, not necessarily in that order. No Comfort for the Lost (NAL/Obsidian) was chosen as Library Journal’s August Pick of the Month. Find more at

Nancy Herriman:
A Short History of the Role of the Coroner

When I began work on my mystery series, which takes place in San Francisco and opens during the year 1867, I decided to include a coroner as one of the characters. It seemed necessary as well as fun; I admit I enjoy the gritty details of sleuthing. My two protagonists—Celia Davies, a nurse operating a women’s clinic, and Nicholas Greaves, a city police detective—work with the coroner as they attempt to find who killed one of Celia’s patients, a young Chinese woman whose body has been found in the bay. When he concludes that the girl did not drown, but was killed by a blow to the head before being tossed into the water, Nick and Celia obtain a vital clue that will lead them to the identity of the murderer.

But when did the role of ‘coroner’ begin and what were they meant to do? Those who’ve researched the origin of the position believe it started during the 12th century at the latest, but the precise timing is lost to history. What is known is that the position became official in England in 1194.

Historians claim that the name originates from their post as Officers of the Crown, and you will sometimes find them referred to as ‘crowners’ as a result. Primarily elected (although occasionally appointed), they had to be men of good standing and own sufficient land or possessions in the county they resided in and would serve. The job was meant to be held for life and was an unpaid position up to the time of the Tudors. Their duties, as initially conceived, could be summarized as follows: examine the body in sudden or suspicious deaths (the coroner was the only person allowed to do so), including suicides; perform the inquest, summoning a jury to gather information on the victim and assign a cause of death; identify the primary suspect, if the death was deemed to have been murder, and put forth an indictment for that person; and—most importantly, according to some historians—to assess the value of goods (chattel) owned by the suspect, confiscate and sell them once the felon was convicted, and send the monies to the king. One last round of taxes.

It was this system that arrived in the United States with English settlers in the 1600s, a key difference being that the position was of limited duration, usually only a few years. But nowhere was there a requirement that a coroner be a medical person or have any understanding of forensic medicine, even in the most primitive form. Given the taboos and restrictions against autopsies, and the consequent dim understanding of the interior workings of the human body, it’s unlikely that, even if they had been a physician, their knowledge would’ve been sufficiently thorough.

As it was, most coroner examinations consisted of little more than looking at the body. They might not even touch it! In the 1800s, as poisons became a more popular method of committing murder, the serious flaw in this situation was revealed—if the man responsible for examining the body had no clue how to tell a death caused by illness from a death caused by poison, how many murderers were getting away with their crimes?

The world of forensic medicine was undergoing a rapid change, however, as laws restricting autopsies for research purposes began to be rolled back. Although there had been a smattering of forensic medicine treatises published in Europe prior to this time, by the mid-1800s, an increasing number of books teaching post-mortem techniques were being being published. They covered topics such as how to establish time and cause of death, identifying infanticide, and featured lengthy sections on recognizing the effects of poisons. Furthermore, starting in 1860 in the United States, requirements arose requiring the participation of a physician in death investigations. In addition, the position of medical examiner, intended to be held by a doctor, was first established in Massachusetts in 1877. To this day, however, most states that utilize coroners do not require the person holding the office to have a medical degree.

During the time my book, No Comfort for the Lost, is set, San Francisco’s coroner happened to be a local physician, Dr. Stephen Harris. As a matter of fact, all of the coroners in the city since 1857 have been trained physicians. The job then came with a salary of $2500 per year, plus compensation for each inquest performed and for any chemical analysis conducted during an investigation, and an office. It did not, however, come with a morgue. Dr. Harris was forced to utilize space in the building of a local undertaker, Atkins Massey, who was so proud of hosting the coroner that he included the fact in the advertisement he placed in the City Directory. This situation would be resolved in 1868, when the legislature finally took up a bill to establish a morgue (a ‘death house’) in San Francisco. Sadly for Mr. Massey, perhaps.

As to whether or not Dr. Harris was actually good at his job, I haven’t been able to discern. However, in my books he is a competent assistant to the work Detective Greaves has to do, utilizing the latest in forensic medical knowledge. What he might have been able to uncover was limited, compared to what is possible these days—estimation of the date of death was rough, but naming the cause of death and the type of weapon used was reasonably possible. Linking the crime to the perpetrator, though, still relied upon asking questions and hoping for witnesses. Detailed collection and analysis of crime-scene data, a la CSI, was still decades in the future.


Just two of the resources used: 

Gross, Charles. Select Cases from the Coroners' Rolls, A. D. 1265-1413: With a Brief Account of the History of the Office of Coroner. London: Quaritch, 1895. 

Rao, Dinesh. “History of Medicolegal System”. Forensicpathologyonline. Dr. Dinesh Rao’s Forensic Pathology, 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Anthony Boucher House for Sale

So I was skimming the local real estate ads this morning and came across a home for sale listed as 'The Anthony Boucher House' Really? How many people in the market for a home in Berkeley at this price remember Anthony Boucher aka Tony White? Well, mystery folks, science fiction people, for sure. I'd been there several times in the past to pick up Phyllis White, his widow, to take her to meetings, and then again for Phyllis's memorial. I never met Tony. The house is located on a quiet street in South Berkeley, but just off Telegraph Avenue. Not a particularly tony neighborhood, but walking distance to campus. This has its pluses and a lot of minuses. So I went to the Internet to find out more about the house. Oh, did I mention that it's selling for $1,5000,000. The last time I was there, I did some washing up in the kitchen. Clearly the kitchen has been remodeled since then, and the garden looks charming.... but $1,500,000. Really? I'm sure they'll get it, home prices being what they are in the Bay Area. I just found it amusing that the realtors are marketing the property as The Anthony Bouchercon House! Ah...memories...

2643 Dana Street, Berkeley: The Anthony Boucher House: $1,500,000 
Four bedrooms two baths with a bonus space (workshop/exercise room?) and half bath

From the Family to the Next Owner:

I love the traditional layout, large rooms and generous backyard, as well as the fact that our family has so much history here.

We’ve enjoyed many holidays and memorable family events in this home. I especially love that my daughter is being raised in the same home my Dad and Uncle grew up in and I lived in while I attended UC Berkeley.

I also love that everything is nearby, from the dentist to the grocery store and the park. The neighborhood boasts a wide variety of dining options, ranging from cheap ethnic “student eats” to lovely bistros and coffeehouses, as well as convenient services.

UC Berkeley, Downtown Berkeley and Elmwood shops, restaurants and theaters are all about a mile away.  The bus line is just a block away.

A family history at 2643 Dana Street, Berkeley, CA

Four generations of my family have lived in this home since 1947; my husband and I have lived here since 2002.  My grandparents were the original owners and my Dad and uncle lived here through college at UC Berkeley. My grandmother lived here until her passing in 2000. Her husband was William A.P. White, who worked under the pen name Anthony Boucher, was an accomplished author, book and magazine editor and critic, active from the 1940s to his death in 1968.

A.P., or “Tony” to his friends, was influential as a mystery book editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times.  He was also an author, founder of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and co-writer of hundreds of scripts for radio shows in the 1940s, including Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. He wrote almost everything he ever produced here in this house, using the master bedroom as his “study.” He also hosted regular writers’ workshops in the living room, with notable mystery and science fiction authors.

He was most beloved as an editor because he took the time to mentor writers and was seminal in attempting to make literary quality an important aspect of science fiction and mystery writing.  So much so, in fact, there is an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction named in his honor.  Called the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention or “Bouchercon”, the event is held annually every fall.

My love for this house stretches back to my childhood; I’ve always loved the look and feel of it. When my grandmother passed away, my husband and I took on the challenge of updating it so we could live here and keep the house in the family.  We have raised our daughter here, hosted numerous family gatherings and celebrated many milestones.  We hate to leave this beautiful house but find it necessary as my husband’s career pulls us to Hawaii.

This is a wonderful neighborhood to raise a family in, with great schools, lovely parks and every possible amenity nearby.  Hopefully, the new family will love how walkable this area is, with great neighborhoods, restaurants and shops in every direction.

Built in 1941, the house itself is well built and has been lovingly updated from top to bottom. Please see list of improvements for a full description of what’s been done to the home and property. This is an ideal place for entertaining with a generous backyard and lots of living space.  We have loved every minute in this house and hope the new owners will too.

The Berkeley Historical Plaque Project will be placing a plaque on the home.


Helen Anne Simpson: R.I.P.

Helen Anne Simpson, former owner and proprietor of Big Sleep Books in St. Louis, MO, passed away peacefully on October 16. She was 83. Helen was born and resided her entire life in St. Louis, MO. She is survived by her five children, Katherine (Clay) Bastian, Mary Caroline (Ray Hearn, deceased), Thomas, Edward (Rhonda), and Margaret (Leanne Demmel), and six grandchildren (Brittany and Lucille Simpson, Peter and Meredith Bastian, Cole and Jack Simpson).

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to The Foundation for Barnes Jewish Hospital (specify: Neurology, Stroke Research) or St Louis Habitat for Humanity.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Craig Robertson & Alexander Sokoloff Literary Salon: 10/26

Join Mystery Readers NorCal on Monday, October 26, at 7 p.m. in Berkeley for a Literary Salon with Craig Robertson & Alexandra Sokoloff. Comment below to RSVP & directions.

During noir author Craig Robertson's 20-year career with a Scottish Sunday newspaper, he interviewed three recent Prime Ministers; attended major stories including 9/11, Dunblane, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann; been pilloried on breakfast television, beaten Oprah Winfrey to a major scoop, been among the first to interview Susan Boyle, spent time on Death Row in the USA and dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India. Craig Robertson has written four novels set on the mean streets of Glasgow and one on the not-so-mean streets of Torshavn in the Faroe Islands.

His debut novel, RANDOM, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger and was a Sunday Times bestseller. COLD GRAVE reached #2 on Kindle.

Alexandra Sokoloff is the bestselling, Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker and Anthony Award-nominated author of eleven supernatural, paranormal and crime thrillers. The New York Times has called her "a daughter of Mary Shelley" and her books "Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre." As a screenwriter she has sold original suspense and horror scripts and written novel adaptations for numerous Hollywood studios (Sony, Fox, Disney, Miramax), for producers such as Michael Bay, David Heyman, Laura Ziskin and Neal Moritz. She is also the workshop leader of the internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshops, based on her Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks and blog.

Alex and Craig split their time between Los Angeles and Scotland.

Cartoon of the Day: Writer

Friday, October 16, 2015

Eric Wright: R.I.P.

Eric Wright, Canadian Crime Writer, died on October 9 at the age of 86. Eric Wright was born in England but immigrated to Canada as a young man and settled in Toronto. For a number of years he taught English literature, and he wrote for television and magazines.

Eric Wright is known for his Inspector Charlie Salter detective novels. The first, The Night the Gods Smiled, won the John Creasey Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, and the City of Toronto Book Award. His third Charlie Salter Novel, Death in the Old Country, won the Arthur Ellis Award. The Joe Barley Mystery The Kidnapping of Rosie Dawn also received the Arthur Ellis Award and the Barry Award and was nominated for an Edgar. In 1998, Eric received the Derrick Murdoch Award for lifetime contributions to Canadian crime writing. He was a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.

Besides the Inspector Charlie Salter Mystery series, Wright wrote the Lucy Trimble Brenner Mysteries, the Mel Pickett Mysteries, and the Joe Barley Mysteries. His memoir Always Give a Penny to a Blind Man which covers most of Eric’s life from when he was a child growing up poor in working-class London through his immigration to Canada and the beginning of his attendance at University, was nominated for a Charles-Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction. He also wrote two stand-alone novels, Moodie’s Tale and Finding Home, the novella “Dempsey’s Lodge”, and a short story “Twins”.

On October 9, 2015, Eric Wright died of kidney cancer at the age of 86.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cartoon of the Day: Coffee Shop Writer

The Crime Cafe: Why I Started a Podcast: Guest Post by Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack is the New York Times ebook bestselling author of the Sam McRae mystery series. She’s also published one young adult novel, Invisible Me, and Five Uneasy Pieces, a short story collection that includes her Derringer Award–nominated story “The Right to Remain Silent.” Her short stories have appeared in various other anthologies and publications. Her most recently published short story is “Jasmine”, appearing in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. Debbi is also a screenwriter and aspiring indie filmmaker. A former attorney, Debbi has also worked as a journalist, librarian, and freelance writer/researcher. She enjoys walking, cats, travel, movies, music, and espresso. 

Debbi Mack:
The Crime Cafe: Why I Started a Podcast 

Thanks, Janet, for the opportunity to post on your blog!

When Janet asked me if I’d like to write about The Crime Cafe, my new podcast, it forced me to think about why I’d decided to undertake such a project. I think it comes down to the idea that there are loads of great crime, suspense, and thriller authors, but not all of them are equally well known.

Many a time, I’ve talked to readers about my mystery series, and they ask me questions like these:

“Who are your favorite authors?”
“What kind of stories do you write?”
“Are your books anything like those of [insert famous author’s name here]?”

These questions are all posed for the same reason. To get a sense of how my writing compares to that of authors they know and probably like.

I recently had a conversation with a woman who enjoys mysteries. And when I mentioned Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, she knew their work. I love when that happens, because strangely enough, not all readers know their names.

This really does happen. There are actual book-loving readers who don’t know these authors. Despite the fact that they are occupying the stratosphere (as it were) of the publishing world.

In any case, when the woman asked what other crime fiction authors I’d recommend, it was difficult to reign it back to a manageable list. I could have spent a whole hour or two talking about the many great authors in the genre that I’ve enjoyed.

The truth is that well-known authors like John Grisham, Stephen King, and Lee Child are all great. As are Robert Crais, Walter Mosley, Sara Paretsky, and Sue Grafton. But for every name on that list, I can give you plenty more crime writers who are also exemplary. They just aren’t as well known.

What I’ve seen over the course of my novel writing career are two significant phenomena: the meteoric rise of self-publishing and the fast-changing world of social media.

As a result, it’s become even harder for authors to gain recognition. However, the answer isn’t to compete with one another.

Way back when, I asked the late Jeremiah Healy to write an endorsement for my first novel. And he agreed to do so, on one condition. That when I was in a position to help other new or aspiring authors, I would lend assistance. I had no problem agreeing to that. The way I see it, other authors are my peers, not my competitors. There are plenty of readers to go around.

This is why I started The Crime Cafe. The whole point is to tell as many people as possible about the great crime, suspense, and thriller authors that win awards, get great reviews, and are held in high regard within the genre, yet manage to slip under the public’s radar. My thought was, “What better way to do this than with a podcast? Perhaps it will reach a few ears and help bring these authors to the fore.”

At the same time, I truly enjoy doing the podcasts. Every time I talk to a new author on The Crime Cafe, it’s like I’ve made a new friend. I learn so much from listening to their stories, and I try to keep the conversation from getting too pedantic or predictable.

I hope you’ll tune in to The Crime Cafe sometime soon. It’s a fun way to spend 20 minutes or so. And you’ll hear the real lowdown from some of the crime genre’s best authors.

You can find The Crime Cafe on iTunes and Google Play. You can also find it on my website, in audio and video form. That page also features my online store, where I carry Crime Cafe merchandise, bearing the distinctive logo. Not to mention the “buy button” for the joint story package comprised of work from all the authors I interview.

You can find Debbi online here:  

Twitter: @debbimack