Saturday, April 30, 2016

Authors and their Cats: Jean Cocteau

Happy Caturday! For today's "Authors and their Cats", here's a photo of French poet, novelist, and filmmaker (as well as playwright, designer, and artist) Jean Cocteau and his cat. Cocteau is most famous for his novel Les Enfants terribles (The Holy Terrors) and his films, including Blood of a Poet, Beauty and the Beast, and Orpheus

Cocteau was additionally a cat devotee who helped to found a club in Paris called the “Cat Friends Club” that had a membership pin and sponsored cat shows. 

Here's the Cat Friends Club membership pin designed by Jean Cocteau. I'd love to have one of these.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Plaque of the Day: Writing

Plaque of the Day: Writing. Library Street, NYC.

Edgar Awards 2016

Mystery Writers of America announced the winners tonight of the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2015.  It was an exciting evening for all, and I was so glad to be in attendance! 
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Penguin Random House - Dutton)

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)

The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper)

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins Publishers - HarperCollins)

"Obits" – Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)

Footer Davis Probably is Crazy by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (HarperCollins Publishers – Katherine Tegen Books)

"Gently with the Women" - George Gently, Teleplay by Peter Flannery (Acorn TV)

"Chung Ling Soo’s Greatest Trick" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
by Russell W. Johnson (Dell Magazines)

Walter Mosley

Margaret Kinsman
Sisters in Crime

Janet Rudolph, Founder of Mystery Readers International

* * * * * *

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Simon's Cat Box Guide II

Creating the Perfect Storm: Guest post by Private Eye Writer Grant Bywaters

Today I welcome Grant Bywaters. His novel The Red Storm won the Minotaur Books/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition. Grant has worked as a licensed private investigator and is currently finishing his Bachelor's degree in psychology at Portland State University. He lives outside Portland, Oregon.

Grant Bywaters:
Creating the Perfect Storm 

Around the time I was getting my private investigators license, I was also working on my Associate degree and found myself sitting in an African American history class. I could not help but think how difficult my job would have been if I had to also deal with segregation laws. Naturally, the two things going on in my life at that time spliced together into the early concept of my detective, William Fletcher.

In the 1920s, Fletcher was a heavyweight contender in New York trying to get a chance at the crown prize of all sports, the heavyweight title.

Historically, the first black heavyweight champion was a larger than life fella named Jack Johnson. Johnson won the title in December of 1908. He was also ahead of his time and did not allow racism to slow him down. He taunted his white opponents, loved fancy clothes, beautiful white women, and fast cars.
Johnson's behavior predictably brought anger amongst the predominantly white racist public, causing Jack London to call out for a Great White Hope to beat Johnson. Eventually in 1910, one such Hope defeated an aging Johnson under the hot Cuban sun and the color line was drawn. It would not be until 27 years later that a black heavyweight contender by the name of Joe Louis from Detroit would be allowed to fight for the title.
It was during this gap between these two great champions that Fletcher, like many real life black contenders, was unable to get a title shot. Angered at his boxing career going nowhere, he starts doing muscle work for the criminal syndicates before ditching it all and starting a new career as a private detective in New Orleans.

New Orleans was a natural fit. It is a city that I have come to love and also because the town had more lax segregation laws than most southern cities during those times. This made it a bit easier for Fletcher to do his job in a very turbulent racial period of American history.

For Fletcher’s detective work, I tried to use some aspects from my experience as a private detective. One example is Fletcher does not have any office where a femme fatal can come in asking for his help. I never had an office nor did I know an investigator at the time who did. It was an unneeded added expense. Our car was our office and if we met clients it was usually at their homes or some coffee shop.

Doing the historical research for the novel came naturally. It has always been something I enjoyed doing and one of the reasons why I got into investigative work. Writing is also something I have always liked doing, which you have to do a lot of in investigative and really any legal type work.

I will say that when I finally did sit down and wrote The Red Storm, I never imagined it would win anything. It has been a surreal experience since being told it won the Minotaur Books/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition. Sure, somebody has to win these competitions, you just never expect it to be you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CrimeFest Award Nominees

CRIMEFEST annually presents its awards at a dinner which in 2016 will be held on Saturday, 21 May. Bristol, England. Congratulations to all the Nominees

Nominees for the Audible Sounds of Crime Award
Rachel Abbott for Sleep Tight, read by Melody Grove & Andrew Wincott (Whole Story Audiobooks)
Lee Child for Make Me, read by Jeff Harding (Random House Audiobooks)
Harlan Coben for The Stranger, read by Eric Meyers (Orion Publishing Group)
Robert Galbraith for Career of Evil, read by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio UK)
Paula Hawkins for The Girl on the Train, read by Clare Corbett, India Fisher & Louise Brealey (Random House Audiobooks)
Stephen King for Finders Keepers, read by Will Patton (Hodder & Stoughton)
David Lagercrantz for The Girl in the Spider’s Web, translated by George Goulding and read by Saul Reichlin (Quercus)
Clare Mackintosh for I Let You Go, read by David Thorpe & Julia Barrie (Hachette Audio)
Ian Rankin for Even Dogs in the Wild, read by James Macpherson (Orion Publishing Group)

Nominees for the eDunnit Award:
Linwood Barclay for Broken Promise (Orion Publishing Group)
Michael Connelly for The Crossing (Orion Publishing Group)
Judith Flanders for A Bed of Scorpions (Allison & Busby)
Suzette A. Hill for A Southwold Mystery (Allison & Busby)
Laurie R. King for Dreaming Spies (Allison & Busby)
Jax Miller for Freedom’s Child (HarperCollins)
Denise Mina for Blood, Salt, Water (Orion Publishing Group) – Andrew Taylor for The Silent Boy (HarperCollins)

Nominees for the Last Laugh Award:
Sascha Arango for The Truth and Other Lies (Simon & Schuster)
Alan Bradley for As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Orion Publishing Group)
Simon Brett for Mrs Pargeter’s Principle (Severn House Publishing)
Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May and the Burning Man (Transworld)
Elly Griffiths for Smoke and Mirrors (Quercus)
Malcolm Pryce for The Case of the ‘Hail Mary’ Celeste (Bloomsbury)
Mike Ripley for Mr Campion’s Fox (Severn House Publishing)
Jason Starr for Savage Lane (No Exit Press)

Nominees for the H.R.F. Keating Award:
David Stuart Davies & Barry Forshaw for The Sherlock Holmes Book (Dorling Kindersley) – Martin Edwards for The Golden Age of Murder (HarperCollins)
Fergus Fleming for The Man With the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters (Bloomsbury)
Barry Forshaw for Crime Uncovered: Detective (Intellect)
Julius Green for Curtains Up: Agatha Christie
A Life in Theatre (HarperCollins)
Maysam Hasam Jaber for Criminal Femmes Fatales in American Hardboiled Crime Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan)
Fiona Peters & Rebecca Stewart for Crime Uncovered: Anti-hero (Intellect)
Adam Sisman for John le Carré: The Biography (Bloomsbury)

Nominees for the Petrona Award:
Karin Fossum for The Drowned Boy, translated by Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
Kati Hiekkapelto for The Defenceless, translated by David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)
Jørn Lier Horst for The Caveman, translated by Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press; Norway)
David Lagercrantz for The Girl in the Spider’s Web, translated by George Goulding (MacLehose Press; Sweden)
Hans Olav Lahlum for Satellite People, translated by Kari Dickson (Mantle/Pan Macmillan; Norway)
Antti Tuomainen for Dark As My Heart, translated by Lola Rogers (Harvill Secker; Finland)

Cartoon of the Day: Large Type Novels

Patricia Wentworth Reprints

Dean Street Press announces the first ten Patricia Wentworth novel reissues will be out on May 2. This is part of a major project to republish all 33 of her non-Miss Silver mysteries, some of which haven't been in print or available for many decades. The remaining 23 will be published in a further two batches in June and July.

The first ten include the four Benbow Smith mysteries, featuring the eminence grise Benbow Smith, and his loquacious parrot Ananias. The first batch also includes SILENCE IN COURT from 1945 which is an exceptional courtroom mystery.

The novels also contain a typically well-researched and new introduction by Curtis Evans.

Jacket Blurb of Fool Errant shown in the photo above:

“You mustn’t go to Meade House. I’ve heard...”

Ambrose Minstrel, the inventor, is undoubtedly eccentric. But even his oddities cannot account for the strange events at Meade House. Young Hugo Ross, Minstrel’s new secretary, feels that all the dark happenings centre somehow on himselfcryptic remarks and veiled glances between Minstrel and his assistant, stealthy footsteps in the dead of night, the offer of a small fortune for the worthless field glasses. And then there is the unknown girl who had called from the dark, the rest of her statement swallowed by the night? But in spite of all his caution, Hugo Ross is drawn into a despicable plot involving government intrigue and espionage. With his own life on the line, how much is he willing to risk for his country?
Fool Errant was originally published in 1929, and introduced the eccentric, elderly series character of Benbow Smith. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

“When I pick up a book by Patricia Wentworth I think, now to enjoy myself—and I always do.” Mary Dell, Daily Mirror.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Worst. Reading. Ever. - Guest post by Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty is an Edgar Award nominated  (Gun Street Girl) crime writer from Belfast. His first crime novel, Dead I Well May Be, was shortlisted for the 2004 Steel Dagger Award. His first Sean Duffy novel, The Cold Cold Ground, won the 2013 Spinetingler Award. The second Sean Duffy novel, I Hear The Sirens In The Street, was shortlisted for the 2013 Ned Kelly Award, the 2014 Barry Award & was longlisted for the 2014 Theakston Best British Crime Novel Award. Thanks, Adrian, for this post. I'm sure a lot of writers and readers will relate.


It was nice of JK Rowling to share her early stories of rejection and humiliation with us. Rejection, of course, is part of the book business but no humiliation is quite as abject as that of the book reading gone awry and Jo Rowling doesn’t seem to have had many of those to complain bout.

Like comics celebrating their bad gigs however pretty much every other author can humble brag about book readings they have given where only two or three people came. This is far more common than you would think and in fact the majority of all book readings are probably for “crowds” of a dozen or less. You don’t get to hear much about these sad events because this never happens to celebrity authors or best selling writers, though for the majority of novelists it’s the humiliating norm: the crowd of four, two of whom are asleep, one of whom is clearly mad and the last person is your auntie.

Far more impressive to me are the authors who can boast of zero attendance at their book readings. For zero people to show up you have to be particularly skilled in the arts of non persuasion. This has happened to me half a dozen times, and now I quite look forward to these nihilities as they are, actually, pretty easy situations to handle. If no one comes, you simply sign stock and go home early free of the whole unpleasant business. Much trickier is the circumstance where one person shows up. Then you feel obliged to go on with the show, sometimes to the annoyance of the shop owner who is forced to go through the motions with you. Once in the Boulder Bookstore as I proceeded to read to one person (my wife’s cousin), the owner began aggressively putting away the clangy metal chairs he had laid out for twenty.

I’ve got many other reading horror stories. At a book reading in Spain once my host began the event by throwing my book on the table, pointing his finger angrily at me and demanding “why I had betrayed the revolution?”

But my worst reading of all was in Boston, Massachusetts where I had to deal with a heckler. Comics are used to dealing with hecklers but not authors. I’ve had my share of online trolls, of course, where it’s easy for someone to say that you’re a “terrorist sympathiser” or a “provocateur working for MI5”; but it requires courage to show up to someone’s book reading and try that on.

At this particular store in Boston I had a respectable crowd of about eleven, and I’d been reading for about five minutes when I noticed a man in the front row (they’re always in the front row) start to get agitated. He was about thirty, well built, tall, wearing black jeans, work boots and a button down white shirt. He looked completely normal, but evidently something I was doing was driving him crazy. Finally he could take it no more and yelled out: “This is shit!”

I decided to ignore him and carry on but a minute later he interrupted again, looking at his fellow audience members for support: “Can’t you all see this? This is such utter shit!”

Authors go through a lot of self doubt over their manuscript, and as you read and re-read the book in the proofing and editing stages the jokes start to seem flat, the plot points predictable and the characters dull. Part of you is always thinking: “Can’t you all see this? This is such utter shit!” If I’d been, say, Stewart Lee, I would have articulated all of this and potentially disarmed the man, but as it was I kept ignoring him and attempted to continue. Incensed, he stood up, went to the podium, and tried to snatch the book out of my hand.

“Look, what’s the problem, mate?” I asked.

“This is shit.”

“Specifically what’s the problem?”

“What’s with all the big words? Who do you think you are? What can’t you talk in normal fucking English?”

A line from Fawlty Towers rose up in my head that I unwisely gave vent to: “What? Pretentious, moi?” I said.

This only maddened him further and he successfully snatched the book out of my hands. I tried to grab it back before he muttered: “I have a knife!”

So do I, I thought, a whole kitchen full of them until it occurred to me that he probably meant with him, here, tonight.

This particular bookshop had no security of any kind and enjoying what was turning out to be a much livelier event than advertised, no one in the crowd was calling the police.

“This word, what does this word mean?” he said shoving the book in my face and pointing at the word ‘tenebrous’.

“It means ‘shadowy’ or ‘dark’,” I said.

“What can’t you fucking say ‘dark’ or ‘shadowy’ then?”

“I could have, but I’d said ‘darkness’ earlier on the page, and if I remember rightly I liked the association the word ‘tenebrous’ conjured up with the Catholic liturgy of—”

“My point exactly! You could have fucking said dark!” the man yelled triumphantly and stormed out of the bookshop still holding my book.

The reading more or less ended there in mass embarrassment for everyone, and, if it had, in fact, been the worst book reading ever, the audience would have agreed with the heckler about my purple prose and left with him. Actually I got more sympathy purchases of the book than normal, although I still wouldn’t recommend this as a strategy for boosting your book sales up into the JK Rowling territories.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

TCM Classic Film Festival - April 28-May 1: Host: Eddie Muller

Film Noir Festival president Eddie Muller will be presenting films again at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival, April 28 – May 1.

Eddie will be introducing two FNF restorations, Los tallos amargos and Repeat Performance (1947). He will also be introducing Carl Reiner's comic valentine to film noir, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982). The film features a series of clips from famous film noirs, intercut with new footage of a hardboiled detective (Steve Martin) and a possible femme fatale (Rachel Ward) to form a new and suitably convoluted noir plot. The film was the last project of both costume designer Edith Head and composer Miklós Rózsa. Eddie will also be introducing a series of critically acclaimed sports films, including John Huston's Fat City (1972), based on Leonard Gardner's 1969 gut wrenching novel about small hall boxing.

This year's overarching theme is Moving Pictures, focusing on the films that, "bring us to tears, rouse us to action, inspire us, even project us to a higher plane." These films range from Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) accompanied by a live orchestra and vocalists performing Richard Einhorn's oratorio Voices of Light, a piece specifically written for this purpose in 1994, to John Singleton's heartbreaking Boyz in the Hood (1991), a semi-autobiographical depiction of African-American youths struggling with gang violence in South Central L.A., with a soundtrack of rap songs by Run-D.M.C., 2 Live Crew and Ice Cube reflective of the characters' lives.

Cartoon of the Day: The Indecisive Novelist's Characters Converse

From the amazing Tom Gault:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day: Environmental/Ecological Crime Fiction

Earth Day: April 22, 2016

This is an updated Earth Day/Environmental Mysteries List that is by no means complete. There are many more authors, and certainly more books by many of the authors on the list. As always, I welcome additions. I took a few liberties on the list, too, but I think they all fall under the umbrella of environmental mysteries. Scroll down for a second list that deals exclusively with Drowned Towns--Reservoir Noir.

Mystery Readers Journal had an issue on Environmental Mysteries. It's available as both a PDF and hardcopy. This is a great source for more titles.

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


Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang
Liz Adair's Snakewater Affair
Glyyn Marsh Alam's Cold Water Corpse; Bilge Water Bones
Grace Alexander's Hegemon
Suzanne Arruda's Stalking Ivory
Sarah Andrews' Em Hansen Mystery series
Lindsay Arthur's The Litigators
Anna Ashwood-Collins' Deadly Resolution
Sandi Ault's Wild Inferno, Wild Indigo, Wild Penance, Wild Sorrow
Shannon Baker's Tainted Mountain, Broken Trust, Tattered Legacy
Michael Barbour's The Kenai Catastrophe and Blue Water, Blue Island
Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat, Ill Wind, Borderline, and others
Lee Barwood's A Dream of Drowned Hollow?
Pamela Beason's Sam Westin wildlife biologist series
Robert P. Bennett's Blind Traveler's Blues
William Bernhardt's Silent Justice
Donald J Bingle's GreensWord
Michael Black's A Killing Frost 
Jennifer Blake's Shameless
C J Box's Winterkill, Open Season, Below Zero, Savage Run, Out of Range, Trophy Hunt, Free Fire, In Plain Sight
Alex Brett's Dead Water Creek
Robin Cook's Fever
Donna Cousins' Landscape
Rex Burns' Endangered Species
Ann Cleeves' Another Man's Poison
Eileen Charbonneau Waltzing in Ragtime
Michael Crichton's State of Fear
James Crumley's Dancing Bear
Janet Dawson's Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean
Barbara Delinsky's Looking for Peyton Place
William Deverell's April Fool
David Michael Donovan's Evil Down in the Alley
Rubin Douglas' The Wise Pelican: From the Cradle to the Grave
Kerstin Ekman's Blackwater
Aaron J Elkins' The Dark Place, Unnatural Selection
Howard Engle's Dead and Buried
Eric Evans' Endangered
G M Ford's Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?
Clare Francis's The Killing Winds (Requiem)
Jean Craighead George's The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Limbo, Who Really Killed cock Robin? The Case of the Missing Cutthroats (young readers)
Matthew Glass' Ultimatum
Kenneth Goddard's Double Blind, Prey, Wildfire
Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon's Greenwar
Robert O. Greer's The Devil's Hatband
John Grisham's The Pelican Brief, The Appeal
Jean Hager's Ravenmocker
William Hagard's The Vendettists
James W. Hall's Bones of Coral
Patricia Hall's The Poison Pool
Joseph Hall's Nightwork
Karen Hall's Unreasonable Risk, Through Dark Spaces
Matt Hammond's Milkshake
Sue Henry's Termination Dust
Robert Herring's McCampbell's War
Joseph Heywood's Blue Wolf in Green Fire, Ice Hunter, Chasing a Blond Moon
Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip, Stormy Weather, Sick Puppy, Strip Tease, Scat
Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady
John Hockenberry's A River out of Eden
Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow
John Holt's Hunted
Judy Hughes' The Snowmobile Kidnapping
Mary Ellen Hughes' A Taste of Death
Dana Andrew Jennings' Lonesome Standard Time
Linda Kistler's Cause for Concern
Lisa Kleinholz's Dancing with Mr. D.
Dean Koontz's Icebound
William Kent Krueger's "Cork O'Connor" series
Janice Law's Infected be the Air
Stephen Legault's The Darkening Archipelago
Donna Leon's Death in a Strange Country, About Face
David Liss' The Ethical Assassin
Sam Llewellyn's Deadeye 
Jim Lynch's The Highest Tide
John D MacDonald's Barrier Island (and other titles)
Ross Macdonald's Sleeping Beauty
Jassy Mackenzie's The Fallen
Larry Maness' Once a Perfect Place
Elizabeth Manz's Wasted Space
Margaret Maron's High Country Fall, Shooting at Loons, Up Jumps the Devil, Hard Row
John Martel's Partners
Steve Martini's Critical Mass
John McGoran's Drift, Deadout, Dust Up 
Deon Meyer's Blood Safari, Thirteen Hours
Skye Kathleen Moody's Blue Poppy
C. George Muller's Echoes in the Blue
Marcia Muller's Cape Perdido
Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie
Michael Palmer's Fatal
Sara Paretsky's Blood Shot
T. Jefferson's Parker's Pacific Beat
Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried
Carl Posey's Bushmaster Fall
David Poyer's As the Wolf Loves Winter, Winter in the Heart
Katherine Prairie's Thirst
Bob Reiss's Purgatory Road
Ruth Rendell's Road Rage 
Geoffrey Robert's The Alo Release
Rebecca Rothenberg's The Shy Tulip Murders
Patricia Rushford's Red Sky in the Mourning
Alan Russell's The Forest Prime Evil 
Kirk Russell's Shell Games
Frank Schätzing's The Swarm
Barry Siegel's Actual Innocence
Sheila Simonson's An Old Chaos 
Jessica Speart's Bird Brained, Blue Twilight, Gator Aide, Tortoise Soup
Dana Stabenow's A Cold Day for Murder, A Deeper Sleep, A Fine and Bitter Snow, Midnight Come Again, A Taint in the Blood, and many others
John Stanley's The Woman Who Married a Bear, The Curious Eat Themselves, 
Neal Stephenson's Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller
Mark Stevens' Buried by the Roan 
David Sundstrand's Shadow of the Raven
William Tapply's Cutter's Run
Peter Temple's The Broken Shore
Craig Thomas's A Wild Justice 
Judith Van Gleson's "Neil Hamel" series
David Rains Wallace's The Turquoise Dragon
Lee Wallingford's Clear-Cut Murder
Joseph Wambaugh's Finnegan's Week
Sterling Watson's Deadly Sweet
Betty Webb's Desert Wind 
Randy Wayne White's White Captiva
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt
K.J.A. Wishnia's The Glass Factory

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

Alan Dipper's Drowning Day
Eileen Dunlop's Valley of the Deer (YA)
Lee Harris's Christening Day Murder
Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height
Donald James' Walking the Shadows
James D. Landis' The Talking (Artist of the Beautiful)
Jane Langton's Emily Dickenson is Dead
Julia Wallis Martin's A Likeness in Stone
Sharyn McCrumb's Zombies of the Gene Pool
Michael Miano's The Dead of Summer
Ron Rash's One Foot in Eden
Rick Riordan's The Devil Went Down to Austin
Peter Robinson's In a Dry Season
Lisa See's Dragon Bones
Paul Somers' Broken Jigsaw
Julia Spencer-Fleming's Out of the Deep I Cry
Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes
John Morgan Wilson's Rhapsody in Blood
Stuart Woods's Under the Lake

Let me know any other titles you think should be included.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Publishing Then and Now

Karim Miské Literary Salon: May 3

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for an evening Literary Salon with Award winning French author Karim Miské on Tuesday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Berkeley, CA. Join us for a special evening arranged by the French Embassy in conjunction with his American publisher. Please RSVPfor address. Space Limited. Make a comment below or send DM or email if you'd like to attend.

Miské's debut novel Arab Jazz is the winner of an English PEN award. It is brilliantly translated by Sam Gordon. The setting – “between the Lubavitch school complex, the Salafist prayer room and the evangelical church” is Paris's Nineteenth Arrondisement.  Ahmed Taroudant, the novel’s main protagonist, is in some respects a typical French Arab – religiously non-observant, confused about his identity, haunted by the past and now set up to take the blame for murder. The 19th arrondissement in Paris is a cosmopolitan district where citizens of disparate backgrounds live, love and worship alongside one another. The peace is shattered when Ahmed Taroudant’s melancholy daydreams are interrupted by the blood dripping from his upstairs neighbor’s corpse. The murder of Laura Vignola, and the pork joint placed next to her, set imaginations ablaze across the neighborhood, and Ahmed finds himself the prime suspect. But detectives Rachel Kuperstein and Jean Hamelot have plenty of other leads. Karim Miské demonstrates a sharp eye for character and an evocative sense of place, moving between the sensual hum of Paris and the gritty streets of Brooklyn to reveal the motives behind the crime.

Karim Miské was born in 1964 in Abidjan to a Mauritanian father and a French mother. He grew up in Paris before leaving to study journalism in Dakar. Miske´ now lives in France, and is making documentary films on a wide range of subjects, including deafness, for which he learned sign language, and the common roots between the Jewish and Islamic religions. Arab Jazz is his first novel.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Jack Irish on AcornTV

Beginning Monday, May 2nd, Acorn TV features the exclusive U.S. Premiere of Guy Pearce as Peter Temple’s charismatic antihero in JACK IRISH, Season 1, a new six-part cinematic noir thriller. Australian actress Marta Dusseldorp also stars in this new six-part drama series inspired by Peter Temple’s award-winning crime novels.

Jack Irish, Season 1 makes its U.S. Premiere on Acorn TV May 2, 2016 with the first two episodes, followed by a new episode every Monday through May 30. The series follows the three TV Movies based on Peter Temple’s Jack Irish novels. The movies are available on Acorn TV and DVD/Blu-ray.

This cinematic noir series, which premiered in Australia in Feb.-Mar. 2016, features a complex narrative brimming with dark humor, memorable characters, and outstanding performances. Also returning for the series are Aaron Pederson as Cam Delray and Roy Billing as Harry Strang.

Guy Pearce delivers a magnificent performance as the wounded but charismatic Jack Irish, a former criminal lawyer turned private investigator and debt collector. When Jack is contracted to find a man with a criminal past, the situation quickly turns bloody and Jack begins to suspect a set-up. The case spirals into a larger international conspiracy involving Muslim extremists and ring-wing Christians.

Meanwhile, Jack’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, journalist Linda Hillier, leaves Melbourne to further her career as a foreign correspondent in Manila. Though the job is not exactly what she had planned, Linda quickly realizes she may be on the cusp of breaking a huge story. As their cases eventually intertwine, Jack and Linda’s reunion is tested by the arrival of Sarah Longmore, a metal sculptor with connections.

Called “a terrific writer; sharp, funny and ambitious” by NPR’s Fresh Air from WHYY, crime writer Peter Temple has won the Ned Kelly Award five times as well as the Crime Writers’ Association’s Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best crime novel.

The following trailer is from Australian ABC TV...but this is what will be shown on AcornTV.

Cartoon of the Day: The Line-Up

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New York City Mysteries: Mystery Readers Journal

Mystery Readers Journal: New York City I (Volume 32:1) is now available. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this great issue! If you're a PDF subscriber to Mystery Readers Journal for '16, you should have received download instructions. If you're a hardcopy subscriber, your issue will arrive shortly.

There were so many articles and reviews that we split New York Mysteries into two issues.  New York City Mysteries II (Volume 32:2) will be out in June..

This issue is available in Hardcopy and PDF download. To order this issue, go HERE.
To subscribe to Mystery Readers Journal for '16, go HERE.



Don’t Care if It’s Chinatown or on Riverside by Margo Kinberg

How the New York Tabloids Helped Me Become a Mystery Author by R.G. Belsky
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? by Maggie Barbieri
So Many Places… by Carol Lea Benjamin
All Around the Town by Lawrence Block
Revisiting Molly Murphy’s New York by Rhys Bowen
A Borough with Noir in Its Soul by Philip Cioffari
My New York Story (and Stories) by Alafair Burke
Strange, and True, in NYC by Gabriel Cohen
A Thousand New Yorks by Reed Farrel Coleman
Writing the Cozy Noir by Cleo Coyle
Full-Contact Living in NYC by Julia Dahl
The Year of Living New Yorkishly by Dan Fesperman
Achieving New York by Jim Fusilli
New York Means Neighborhoods by Alison Gaylin
New York, New York: A Promised Land by Kathleen Gerard
Escape to New York by Patricia Gulley
Dark City by David Hansard
A Tough Lady Sleuth in 1940s Manhattan by Heather Haven
A Wide Canvas by Larry Karp
Midtown West by Charles Kipps
In Search of Old New York City by Allan Levine
The Stuff They Skipped in History Class by Lawrence H. Levy
Accidental New York by Katia Lief
From NYPD Street Cop to Author by John Mackie
Dancing and Death with the Rockettes by Mary McHugh
Maan Meyers and New York by Maan Meyers
My New York Office by Chris Pavone
Why I Love New York: It’s So Easy to Research by Roberta Rogow
From the Perspective of a Native New Yorker by M. Glenda Rosen
The New Jerusalem by Carrie Smith
Très Brooklyn by Triss Stein
New York 1950s Noir by David Taylor
My Harlem Renaissance by Persia Walker
Turning New York Life into Fiction by Reba White Williams
The Calculus of a New York Setting by Brian Wiprud
Six Hundred Dollars to Spare by Erica Wright
New York: A Shapeshifter You Can’t Keep Up With by Elizabeth Zelvin

Mystery in Retrospect: Reviews by Lesa Holstine, L.J. Roberts and Jasmine Simeone
Children’s Hour: New York City by Gay Toltl Kinman
In Short: A Hell of a Mystery Town by Marvin Lachman
Crime Seen: The Naked City by Kate Derie
New York’s Finest: the Top Ten Series Characters by Jim Doherty
From the Editor’s Desk by Janet Rudolph

Subscribe or renew Mystery Readers Journal for 2016 and receive all four issues for '16: New York 1; New York 2: Small Town Cops; Mid-Atlantic Crime Fiction.

Cartoon of the Day: Alex Trebek's Reading List

Love "Off the Mark" by Mark Parisi!

HT:  Jayna Monroe

Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Fiction: Shortlist

Barry Forshaw sends news of the top quality crime fiction from Scandinavia that is shortlisted for the 2016 Petrona Award. Crime novels from Finland, Norway and Sweden have made the shortlist for the 2016 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

THE DROWNED BOY by Karin Fossum tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
THE DEFENCELESS by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)
THE CAVEMAN by Jorn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press; Norway)
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB by David Lagercrantz tr. George Goulding (MacLehose Press; Sweden)
SATELLITE PEOPLE by Hans Olav Lahlum tr. Kari Dickson (Mantle/Pan Macmillan; Norway)
DARK AS MY HEART by Antti Tuomainen tr. Lola Rogers (Harvill Secker; Finland)

The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 21 May during the annual international crime fiction event CrimeFest, held in Bristol 19-22 May 2016.

The award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Write What You Know or Write to Discover What You Know?: Guest post by Gordon McAlpine

Is it “Write what you know,” or “Write to discover what you know”? Acclaimed author Gordon McAlpine explores this question, drawing from his experience writing the Edgar nominated novel, Woman with a Blue Pencil. 

Gordon McAlpine:
Thanks Flannery O’Connor, Thanks Dad 

All students of writing fiction are familiar with the dictum to “write what you know”; I have always regarded this advice with ambivalence. For some, it provides important license to draw from actual experience, suggesting, not inaccurately, that each of our lives is characterized by meaningful elements that could make for a compelling story. All to the good. However, the flip side to this advice is an implication that one ought to write only what one knows, to ignore or avoid uncharted territory accessible exclusively through the exercise of imagination, often in combination with research to make the imagined feel real. For me, then, a better precept for writing a work of fiction is this simple thought experiment: if I were browsing in a bookstore, what as-yet unwritten book would I wish to come upon to read? This simple ground rule, I believe, incorporates the most valid element of “writing what one knows” -- specifically, the natural impulse toward stories that reflect upon our own lives, whether or not we consciously understand why – without limiting imaginative possibilities My own work has been undertaken under these general guidelines. That is, I’ve begun new stories or novels simply because I wanted to create the precise reading that most interested me at any given time. This provides the act of writing (which consists, day after day, of being alone in a small room) with a sustaining tie to the boundlessness of reading, discovered wondrously as a child and no less powerful now as an adult. Write what one knows? Rather, write the book you’d like to read, which will never exist unless you write it. Simple enough.

Or, perhaps not so simple.

My books have been set in Paris in the ‘20’s, Chicago in the 30’s, Los Angeles in the ‘40’s, New York in the ‘50’s….nonetheless, these books, undertaken as acts of imagination rather than disguised memoir, have all, eventually, revealed themselves to me as autobiographical in sly, unplanned ways. This revelation usually comes about 2/3 through the first draft. This is not to say the books are ever overtly autobiographical. Rather, elements that comment on my own life or the lives of those I know deliver themselves in indirect ways. It turns out, then, that, despite my protestations, perhaps I write “what I know”, after all. Or, at least, what I come to know through the process of writing….

I am reminded of Flannery O’Connor, who said, “I write to discover what I know.”

For me, writing to discover what I know has never been more true than in my latest novel, the Edgar-nominated Woman with a Blue Pencil, which is set in Los Angeles during World War II and the Japanese-American relocation to internment camps, specifically revolving around a young man named Takumi Sato whose dream of publishing a mystery novel is compromised by world events. Such compromise eventually effects not only the young author’s work but also his concept of identity. According to the straightforward dictum, “write what you know”, I would be disqualified from writing this novel, being neither Japanese-American nor 96 years-old, as the character Sato would be today. Fortunately, I used my own bookstore ground rules, as outlined above, for beginning the book. However, about 2/3 of the way through the first draft, I realized that its essence revolved around a question that was unexpectedly personal to me: how to exist when you are “the wrong kind of man”. In the novel, this is characterized by political and racial discrimination. Some reviewers have linked the story to political and racial events in our country today. This, I had planned. What came as a surprise, however, was that the book’s heart had come from my heretofore unrecognized acknowledgement of my recently deceased father’s lifelong, painful, and mistaken sense of being “the wrong kind of man” himself. Thus, I could empathize with the pain, humiliation, anger, shame, and pathos of a young Japanese-American in the 1940’s because I had witnessed, as a child, my father’s heartbreaking sense of dislocation in his world, which had nothing to do with Japanese internment but everything to do with being fully human and generous of heart and yet still feeling like “the wrong kind of man”. Hence, I came to know my late father in a new way by writing about a 22 year-old Japanese-American named Takumi Sato and his fictional experiences between the years 1940-1944.

Write what you know or write to discover what you know? 

I’m with Flannery on this one.

2016 Scribe Award Nominees

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers announced the nominees for the 2016 Scribe Awards. This award honors “licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books.” The list includes works in many different genres, so be sure and check out the entire list. Here are four for Best Original Novel—General Prize that are crime-fiction related:

Also nominated:
Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher (Titan)
Kill Me, Darling by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Titan)
Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan: Desert Falcons by Michael A. Black (Gold Eagle)
24: Rogue by David Mack (Forge)

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Longlist

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Longlist. A shortlist will be announced on May 31.  Winner will be announce at Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in July in Harrogate, England.

• Time of Death by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
• Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail)
• Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (Sphere)
• Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin (Michael Joseph)
• Disclaimer by Renée Knight (Black Swan)
• I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (Sphere)
• The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves (Pan)
• Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan (Harvill Secker)
• The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
• The Missing and the Dead by Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins)
• Every Night I Dream of Hell by Malcolm Mackay (Mantle)
• Splinter the Silence by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
• The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney (John Murray)
• The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby (Orion)
• The Final Silence by Stuart Neville (Harvill Secker)
• In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (Harvill Secker)
• Death Is a Welcome Guest by Louise Welsh (John Murray)
 Stasi Child by David Young (Twenty7)

HT: Shotsmag

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Dog Restaurants

Passover Crime Fiction: A List

The Jewish holiday of Passover starts Friday night and will last for eight days. Plenty of time to read some of these great mysteries. As always, let me know any titles I'm missing.

Passover Crime Fiction

Conspirators by Michael Andre Bernstein 
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks 
The Passover Murder by Lee Harris 
All Other Nights by Dara Horn
Never Nosh a Matzo Ball by Sharon Kahn
Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home by Harry Kemelman 
The Fixer by Bernard Malamed
The Samaritans' Secret by Matt Beynon Rees
Mrs Kaplan and the Matzo Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger
Unleavened Dead by Ilene Schneider
The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield 
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra
The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie (on my Easter list, too!)
The Big Nap by Ayelet Waldman 
The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia

Passover Short Stories in the following collections:
Criminal Kabbalah, edited by Laurie R. King
Murder is No Mitzvah, edited by Abigail Browning
Mystery Midrash, edited by Rabbi Lawrence Raphael

There are several children's and YA Passover Mysteries including:
Jodie's Passover Adventure by Anna Levine

Celebrating the holiday? Check out for Chocolate Passover Recipes.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Library

Authors and their Cats: Ursula K. Le Guin

Happy Caturday! Authors and their Cats: Ursula Le Guin. What an amazing writer. What an amazing woman! I was so lucky to be on a panel with her once--a highlight of my 'literary' career. Be sure and scroll down to read about her 'cat' books.

In addition to an incredible number of books on fantasy and science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote Catwings,  a children's book, illustrated by S.D. Schindler.

Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Down an alley in a dumpster, Mrs. Jane Tabby gives birth to four kittens. But these are no ordinary offspring. Each has a pair of wings. Although Mrs. Tabby is unperturbed by her kittens' appearance, her neighbors are not so charitable; when the kittens are old enough to fly, Mrs. Tabby sends her children out into the world. Because both winged and four-footed creatures mistrust them, the kittens have trouble finding a place to live, but eventually discover a loving home. Dark watercolor etchings by Schindler further convey the plight of these airborne felines as they go in search of a home.

Le Guin also wrote Cat Dreams, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Jane on Her Own: A Catwings Tale, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, and Catwings Return.

Ursula K. Le Guin: 
Arguably one of the canonical writers of American science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin was born in Berkeley, Calif., in 1929, the daughter of Alfred L. and Theodora Kroeber. After earning an A.B. degree from Radcliffe College and an A.M. from Columbia University, Le Guin was awarded a Fulbright fellowship in 1953.

The genre formerly classified as 'science fiction' has become divided into sub-genres, such as fantasy, realistic fiction, alternative history, and other categories. Le Guin resists classifying her own work in any one area, saying that some of it may be called 'science fiction', while other writings may be considered 'realist' and still others 'magical realism' (her term). Le Guin is one of the few writers whose works (which include poetry and short fiction) can be found in public libraries' collections for children, young adults, and adults.

Le Guin's published works include a novel, A Wizard of Earthsea, that won an American Library Association Notable Book citation, a Horn Book Honor List citation, and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1979. She has been nominated several times for the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award--the highest honors in science fiction/fantasy writing--and has won both awards. Her Earthsea Trilogy is a mainstay of fantasy fiction collections.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Evidence

2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize Finalists

Thanks to Lesa Holstine for alerting me to the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize Short List. You'll want to check out all the categories, but I'm only listing the Mystery and Thriller Categories. Congratulations to all!

Southern indie booksellers have chosen the finalists for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. Formerly known as the SIBA Book Award, the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize features an expanded list of categories – adding Mystery, Thriller, Literary, and History & Life Stories to the traditional categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Cooking, Children’s and Young Adult.

The Beach Music Mystery Prize
Miss Julia Lays Down the Law by Ann B. Ross (Viking)
A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd (William Morrow & Company)
Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Don't Go Home by Carolyn Hart (Berkley Books)
Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer (Henery Press)

The Lords of Discipline Thriller Prize
Where All the Light Tends to Go by David Joy (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Bone Tree
 by Greg Iles (William Morrow & Company)
 by Tim Johnston (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
Rogue Lawyer
 by John Grisham (Doubleday Books)
The Scribe
 by Matthew Guinn (W.W. Norton & Company)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award Shortlist

The Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe Award), an annual Canadian award that celebrates traditional, feel-good mysteries is pleased to announce this year’s finalists. Now in its fifth year, the award is for a “mystery book that makes us smile” and includes everything from laugh-out-loud to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with little violence or gore.

Congratulations to the five finalists for the 2016 award:

Victoria Abbott, The Marsh Madness (Berkley Prime Crime)
Elizabeth J. Duncan, Untimely Death (Crooked Lane Books)
Eva Gates, Booked for Trouble (NAL)
Victoria Hamilton, White Colander Crime (Berkley Prime Crime)
Alexis Koetting, Encore (Five Star)

The award will be presented at the Bony Blithe Gala on Friday, May 27, at the High Park Club, 100 Indian Road, Toronto. The festivities start at 2:00 p.m. with panels and afternoon nibblies, culminating with the award banquet where the monarch of merry murder will be crowned. For more information or to buy a ticket for the gala, contact us at or visit The winner will receive a cheque for $1,000 plus a colourful plaque.

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

Barclay sleeping on the job

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fahrenheit 451 in works at HBO

From Entertainment Weekly

HBO is giving Fahrenheit 451 the cinematic treatment, EW has confirmed.

The 1953 dystopian novel, largely considered one of author Ray Bradbury’s best works, is currently in development for a film adaption at the network. The HBO team tapped 99 Homes’ Ramin Bahrani as writer and director. He’ll also serve as executive producer alongside Alan Gasmer (Vikings) and Peter Jaysen (You Me Her).

Fahrenheit 451 has previously been transformed for both screen and stage, most notably for the 1966 Brit drama from François Truffaut. Its story takes place in a futuristic American society in which all books have been banned, with “firemen” burning any they may come across. Though controversial, the classic novel has been touted as a cornerstone for high school literature.

No further details on the film have been announced.

James Runcie: Writing Grantchester

Today I welcome James RuncieJames Runcie is a writer, director, and literary curator. He is the author of The Grantchester Mysteries, visiting Professor at Bath Spa University, and a fiction reviewer for The Independent. The Grantchester Mysteries (Bloomsbury) have been adapted to become the ITV/PBS Masterpiece series GRANTCHESTER starring James Norton, Robson Greene, Morven Christie, Pheline Roggan, Tessa Peake-Jones and Al Weaver. The Grantchester Mysteries: Full time priest, part time detective, Sidney Chambers is England's most loveable sleuthing vicar.


Why set your mystery in the past? When forensic techniques today are so advanced, communication is easier and the pace of life is so much speedier, why might a writer want to go back to a slower age with narrower social mobility and limited opportunities for contemporary relevance?

I set out to write the six book series The Grantchester Mysteries (now showing on PBS as Grantchester) as a flow of books that would explore the social history of England after the Second World War. The plan was to trace the beginnings of the modern age with crime as a kind of prototype Aston Martin to drive the action from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 to her Silver Jubilee in 1977.
It’s almost inconceivable now to consider what life in Britain was like at that time. In the 1950’s the death penalty was still extant, homosexuality was illegal, women’s career opportunities were limited, and the contraceptive pill had yet to be invented. There was food rationing, very few people owned a telephone or a television, and most homes had lost a beloved relative in the fight against fascism. Put crime and family history into this mix and you start to see the extraordinary changes that have been made in the last sixty years: the chasm between then and now.

The past overshadows the present. Researching it requires patience, diligence and a fair degree of foot-slogging. In The Grantchester Mysteries, I have a hero, Canon Sidney Chambers, who is a vicar in the English village of Grantchester, just outside Cambridge, and it starts six years before I was born. As the son of a clergyman, I remember what it was like for my father to be at the moral heart of a small community in which seasonal, religious and agricultural rhythms ran together. I recall how shocking it was whenever there was a death or an accident and how important the role was of priest and doctor to be there for the key rites of passage of birth, marriage and death – just as it is today.

And so, when I am writing a scene set in the 1950’s, I try to imagine and behave as Sidney Chambers might have done. I have the same breakfast (a pot of tea, boiled egg and soldiers – sorry, very English I know) and then I read exactly the same newspaper he read; which is to say I read The Times online for the particular day in 1955 I might be writing about. I look up the prayers Sidney will have said, follow his Bible readings and imagine how and where he might have journeyed and who he might have visited throughout the day: because it’s my belief that only when you can root characters in a particular situation that they come to life. And perhaps it’s only then that you realise how radically different their lives are from today and only then that you can explore (and enjoy) the potent disconnect between past and present – bringing fictional characters into the reading now, with all their limitations, failings and complexities.

Because my dead father was a priest, I suppose this is a way, in part, of keeping him alive too. He wasn’t a detective, and he would have been horrified by the idea of being one, but I hope he would have liked the way in which the mystery genre is flexible enough to allow an infinite number of moral possibilities. It lets the reader go anywhere and test any character in order to find out what they are really like. Because it’s only when good people are challenged that we find out what they are really like (rather than what they say they believe); and it must be part of the point of writing mysteries to examine how and why people behave badly, act desperately, and commit appalling acts. Then the good that remain have to ask certain questions: ‘What can be done to bring criminals to justice in as understanding a way as possible? How can we hate the sin but love the sinner?’

That is the Christian way. Even though it may be unfashionable to think like this in today’s speedy, aggressive, immediate and challenging moral climate perhaps there are values that exist outside time. Perhaps there is a different way to think about human character, morality, love and survival – one that is still grounded in tradition but which helps us to learn how life might be better - and how much we have to preserve the fragile and yet precious bonds between us all.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Writing

Wallander: The Final Season

Wallander, The Final Season On MASTERPIECE Mystery! 

Sundays, May 8 - 22, 2016 at 9pm ET on PBS 

Kenneth Branagh returns as Inspector Kurt Wallander based on the novels of Henning Mankell. As age catches up with the peerless Swedish crime-solver, he's getting dangerously careless. Could there be a connection to his father's Alzheimer's? In the final series, Branagh gives a heartbreaking performance of a gritty cop starting to lose his grip.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Good Questions, Good Answers: Guest Post by Lisa Preston

Today I welcome Lisa Preston to Mystery Fanfare. Lisa Preston turned to writing after careers as a fire department paramedic and a city police officer. Experience in her earlier professions enhance the medical and legal passages of her fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, Orchids and Stone, is scheduled for release by Thomas & Mercer this month, and has been described both as a thriller and as domestic noir. Her published work includes non-fiction books and articles on animals, particularly the care and training of dogs and horses. Away from her desk, she spends hours on backcountry trails as a runner and rider, sometimes combining her two outdoor pursuits via the obscure sport of Ride and Tie. Lisa Preston and I share a love of mystery and chocolate. Check out her post and recipe for Easy Peasy Toffee on

Lisa Preston: 
Good Questions, Good Answers

We like things to make sense and we like to know whodunit. We like answers. Finding the answer depends on asking the right question. People often do not say what they mean, nor do they mean what they say. This is evident in questions as well as statements. Mystery-loving readers learn not to assume that something reported or presumed by one character is true, which leaves an open question. We file the good question away and read on, recognizing possibilities and red herrings.

Asking the right person is another part of asking well. In my thriller Orchids and Stone, when Daphne asks the detective why her sister was murdered, she isn’t asking the right question or the right person— she’s expressing grief and frustration.

As some readers and writers of crime fiction know, I was a police sergeant. Asking the right question of the right person was my job. It left a lot to explore. Some of the questions that interested me in crafting this novel were the complexities of bystander syndrome, who intervenes for a stranger and who waits, watches and thinks someone else should do something? The impact of a suspended case on the survivors raises good questions about coping, and I wanted to delve into that aspect with my characters. But here’s something to consider: Does life pose some questions that will never be answered?

Murder mysteries are wonderfully plot-dependent, and great characterization makes the read all the more absorbing. By learning characters’ past pains and motivations, we can anticipate how they will respond in a given situation. A character’s unique response moves the plot forward and makes one story different from the last mystery. So, we love character-driven stories, too.

The whole mystery/suspense/thriller gamut is a wonderful mix. Whether we’re trying to solve who planted the metaphorical (or actual) bomb, biting our nails because the bomb has been planted, or racing to stop the detonation, we face questions. Savvy readers create great questions as they eat up the chapters.

For some readers, everything must be tied up in a neat package at the end of the story. Others can tolerate the mystery of an unanswered question, acknowledging the hope and promise of future exploration, and enjoying the space for thoughtful reflection and discussion. It’s never right or wrong to prefer one kind of story over another. Here’s to recognizing good questions and good answers.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

L.A. Times Book Prizes

The Los Angeles Times announced the Book Prizes Winners at the Festival of Books yesterday. To see the winners in all categories, go HERE. Congrats, Don!

Mystery / Thriller
Don Winslow, The Cartel, Alfred A. Knopf

In addition, James Patterson was the 2015 Innovator's Award Winner.  
James Patterson has left a singular mark on the literary community through his writing for adults and young people, as well as through his efforts to make books and reading a national priority. His support of libraries, independent bookstores, booksellers, teachers and students is unsurpassed with millions of dollars in grants and scholarships going toward encouraging Americans to read and supporting those who foster reading. A feature film based on his bestselling Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life series is set for release this fall.

Cartoon of the Day: Writer

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Authors and their Cats: James Joyce

Happy Caturday! Authors & their Cats: James Joyce

You may not know this, but James Joyce was a big cat lover and children's book author, as well as adult fiction writer.

There are two versions of The Cat and the Devil (1981), both based on a letter James Joyce wrote to his grandson Stephen in 1936 and illustrated by French artist Blachon. The UK edition was published earlier and illustrated by Gerald Rose. They're both wonderful, but I prefer the UK edition.

Another wonderful Joyce cat story is The Cats of Copenhagen, also based on another letter to Stephen which was found posthumously and published in 2012. Anastasia Herbert of Ithys Press first published the book in Ireland with a 200 copy illustrated print run. In early August 1936, Joyce had sent his grandson ‘a little cat filled with sweets’ – a kind of Trojan cat to outwit the grown-ups (see above). A few weeks later, while in Copenhagen and probably after hunting for another  gift, Joyce penned ‘Cats’, which begins: ‘Alas! I cannot send you a Copenhagen cat because there are no cats in Copenhagen.’ Surely there were cats in Copenhagen! But perhaps not ones filled with candy. The story proceeds to describe a Copenhagen in which things are not what they seem…There is definitely an adult subtext here: note the 'fat cat'