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Building Your Book Collection: Part One - Choosing a Topic
Nate Pedersen

Deep passion, not pockets, is the trick to building a truly well-developed personal collection

bookstack_open_copy

Let's first rid ourselves of a prevailing notion: Book collecting is for the wealthy.

Simply not true; some of the best collections are formed by people with the most limited means. A creative collection idea, well-developed and well-focused, easily outstrips in personal and scholarly value a collection of expensive first editions.

Anyone can be a book collector; the key is to develop an interesting focus to your collection, then follow it through. Books are easily accumulated and most mystery enthusiasts have a fine reading library. A true book collection, however, must be united by a central idea.

A.W. Pollard wrote of book collecting in his famous essay in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:

In the modern private collection, the need for a central idea must be fully recognized. Neither the collector nor the curator can be content to keep a mere curiosity shop. It is the collector's business to illustrate his central idea by his choice of examples, by the care with which he describes them and the skill with which they are arranged.

The importance of focus in a book collection cannot be overstated. Keeping a strict focus to your collection prevents the accumulation of the unnecessary, and saves you time and money. Having a wide variety of interests makes you an interesting conversationalist, but usually not an interesting book collector. Pick an interest and stick to it.

Now enters the question of what to collect. The potential topics are endless, only limited in scope by your imagination. You could collect every edition of Mickey Spillane's books, books with an African-American private eye, every mystery book set in Scotland. And so on.

Here are several main routes to collection building:

1) The Author Collection

When most people think of book collecting, they think of the author collection. This is where you try to accumulate all the books written by a particular author. A common route is to focus on first editions of an author, but a more comprehensive collection seeks to add every reprint, foreign edition, and special edition of an author's books, in addition to magazine articles and newspaper appearances. Needless to say, this can become quite extensive and expensive. Imagine, for example, all the editions of Agatha Christie.

Famous and popular mystery authors already command high prices for their first editions and generally this route to collecting should be reserved for those with either unlimited means or unlimited optimism. Those on a smaller budget, however, can still form interesting comprehensive author collections of lesser known authors. By conducting price searches online, a potential collector can get an idea of whether a particular author's books fall within his or her collecting price range.

As it is difficult to guess which authors will stand the test of time, author collections should only be attempted if the collector has a genuine and lasting interest in the author, regardless of the author's resale value. Tracking down every foreign reprint of James M. Cain, for example, is only for the true Cain lover.

Regardless of the author's fame, the best author collections have one thing in common: unique materials. Whether this means draft copies of novels, copies inscribed by the author, letters written by the author, notes from the author's editor, or even a postcard from the author to her aunt in Spain, unique materials significantly enhance a collection. Add unique materials to your library whenever possible.

A slight twist on the author collection would be to focus on a particular illustrator. Edward Gorey, for example, has become quite collectible and the books he illustrated are often valued more for his illustrations than the author's text. The same principles of author collections apply to illustrator collections.

In summary, don't bother collecting the big names (Christie, Doyle, Poe, etc.) unless you have unlimited means. Instead, focus on a lesser known author and make the collection as unique and comprehensive as possible. Don't begin an author collection, however, unless you have a genuine, lasting interest in a particular author.

 


 

2) The List Collection

In this collection, you purchase every book, generally the first editions, on a well-recognized list. For example, you could purchase the first editions of every book that won an Edgar award, which remain relatively affordable. Or you could purchase every book on the Queen's Quorum or the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list. (While impressive, either of these would be a very expensive undertaking). One nice thing about the list collection is that it has a finite endpoint. Once you've purchased every book on the list, you've formed your collection. Straightforward and easily conceptualized. If you like a clearly defined structure, this is the collection for you.

3) The Genre Collection

In this collection you focus on a particular subgenre of the mystery field. The cozy mystery, for example, or science fiction mysteries. This can be a fun collection, particularly if you're an enthusiast of a mystery subgenre. It can lead to some intriguing discoveries for your reading pleasure in addition to building your collection. While the lines between subgenres can be quite fuzzy, that can also be part of the fun. You can take the collection as far, or keep it as strictly limited, as you prefer.

4) The Topical Collection

The topical collection offers the most potential for a stimulating, inexpensive book collection. Here you really are only limited by your imagination. You could collect based on a particular era (1950s pulp mysteries or mysteries of the Victorian era). You could collect based on cover art (covers depicting a masked villain, covers with a female in distress, etc). You could collect based on premise (books with a female detective, books where the victim was poisoned, etc.). You could collect based on a location, or a profession, or a hobby. The possibilities here really are endless.


pedersen_nate_bookfairRegardless of the topic you choose, remember to keep your collection focused. A common mistake made by beginning collectors is the accumulation of miscellaneous or unrelated volumes. When considering each purchase, think about how the material will specifically enhance your collection. This will save you time and money. A well-developed collection is a series of interconnecting pieces, each building upon the other to achieve a greater whole.

Now go out there and start brainstorming ideas for a collection. Get to know your local antiquarian bookseller, find a mystery specialist locally or online. Many booksellers will happily offer advice to beginning collectors. To find a rare book dealer, visit , which is the website of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America. Its members are bound by rules of ethical conduct and professionalism and many of the best antiquarian booksellers are members.

Get creative, have some fun, and don't think you need to spend much money to form an interesting collection. Remember the book-collector's modification of E.M. Forster's famous line in Howard's End: Only collect.

 

Nate Pedersen is an American freelance writer and rare book enthusiast currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland. You can find more of his writing at www.natepedersen.com.

Teri Duerr
Sunday, 28 March 2010 07:03

Deep passion, not pockets, is the trick to building a truly well-developed personal collection.

bookstack_open_copy

 

A Darker Domain
Oline H. Cogdill

The personal and political effects of Scotland's 1980s coal mining strike underlie the gripping and intense A Darker Domain. Using as a starting point the union busting of Margaret Thatcher that plunged hardworking miners into poverty, Scottish author Val McDermid's 22nd novel is a strong, suspenseful psychological thriller about a betrayal, a community abandoned by a favorite son, and the struggle between parents and their children.

Scottish Dectective Inspector Karen Pirie's cold case unit is enmeshed with two crimes from the mid-1980s. In 1985, Mick Prentice, a respected, strongly pro-union member, left his wife and child in Fife to join a group of strikebreakers. Now some 23 years later, his grown daughter has filed a missing persons report on him. At the same time, clues surface in Italy relating to the death of a Scottish heiress killed during the 1985 botched kidnapping of her and her baby, who disappeared.

Pulling together these disparate cases with a skillful aplomb reminiscent of her masterpiece, A Place of Execution, McDermid takes us into the heart of a mining community where unity meant survival. A Darker Domain is a personal story for McDermid who grew up in the Fife area and whose family were coal miners.

Admin
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 11:03

The personal and political effects of Scotland's 1980s coal mining strike underlie the gripping and intense A Darker Domain. Using as a starting point the union busting of Margaret Thatcher that plunged hardworking miners into poverty, Scottish author Val McDermid's 22nd novel is a strong, suspenseful psychological thriller about a betrayal, a community abandoned by a favorite son, and the struggle between parents and their children.

Scottish Dectective Inspector Karen Pirie's cold case unit is enmeshed with two crimes from the mid-1980s. In 1985, Mick Prentice, a respected, strongly pro-union member, left his wife and child in Fife to join a group of strikebreakers. Now some 23 years later, his grown daughter has filed a missing persons report on him. At the same time, clues surface in Italy relating to the death of a Scottish heiress killed during the 1985 botched kidnapping of her and her baby, who disappeared.

Pulling together these disparate cases with a skillful aplomb reminiscent of her masterpiece, A Place of Execution, McDermid takes us into the heart of a mining community where unity meant survival. A Darker Domain is a personal story for McDermid who grew up in the Fife area and whose family were coal miners.

Spring Issue # 134
Brian Skupin
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 07:05
Harry Dolan on Reading as a Cure for What Ails You
Harry Dolan

dolan_harry_cr_philip_dattilo2008

How a life of literary crime cured a broken heart and a restless mind.

Photo credit Philip Dattilo (2008)

I grew up in a small city called Rome in upstate New York, and when I was 18 I went away to college—to the Rochester Institute of Technology. My plan was to study graphic design.

I dropped out after eight weeks.

I want to say the reasons were complicated, but that’s not true. There was a girl involved, a girl I was in love with who didn’t love me. That was part of it. The other part was that I had figured out, during those eight weeks, that I wasn’t ready for college and didn’t want to be a graphic designer.

Which left me at home, living with my parents again. It would be fair to say that I was depressed, that I felt like a failure, and that I didn’t know what I was going to do.

The thing I remember about that time is that I read a lot of books.

block_eightmillionwaystodieI’d always been a reader, mostly science fiction and fantasy. Robert Heinlein and J.R.R. Tolkien were my favorites. But in those months after I dropped out of college I discovered crime novels. The first one was Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block. I picked it up off a rack of paperbacks in a department store and I still have it. I love that book. It’s about a murdered call girl and a machete-wielding killer, but it’s also about Matthew Scudder, an alcoholic private detective struggling to find redemption, and about the unlikely friendship that develops between Scudder and the man who hires him, a pimp named Chance.

It turned out to be just what I needed. When I finished it, I went looking for more books by Lawrence Block. I found them in a used bookstore in town. I found Raymond Chandler there too, and Gregory Mcdonald and Agatha Christie and Sue Grafton and Rex Stout.

Eventually I got back on track. I took another stab at college, at Colgate University, and I stuck with it. I’m not saying that reading is magic, or that crime novels cured me and carried me through a dark time in my life. Maybe I would have gotten through anyway. Maybe therapy or antidepressants would have served me better. But I didn’t have those things. I had books, and they helped me take my mind off my problems, the way they always do. And that was enough.

What the hell—I am saying it. Reading is magic.

Harry Dolan is the author of the mystery/suspense novels including Bad Things Happen (2009), Very Bad Men (2011), and The Last Dead Girl (2014). A native of Rome, New York, he now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" eNews January 2014 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 30 December 2013 09:12

dolan_harry_cr_philip_dattilo2008"The first one was Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block..."

A Tribute to Howard Fast
38
Metta Fuller Victor: a Sensational Life
Elizabeth Foxwell
Robert Crais, Carolyn Hart Mwa Grand Masters
Oline H. Cogdill

crais_robert
This blog doesn't often receive breaking news, but today is an exception. We received word about the next Grand Masters less than an hour ago.

Mystery Scene offers its congratulations to two deserving authors chosen by the Mystery Writers of America as the next Grand Masters and to a bookstore who will be honored with the Raven.

Robert Crais and Carolyn Hart have been chosen as the 2014 Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America (MWA).

MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality, the organization stated in its press release.

Crais and Hart will be presented with their awards at the Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Crais started his career as a screenwriter for such major TV crime shows as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice. During the mid-1980s, he left television and began writing novels full-time. The death of his father in 1985 inspired Crais to create his main character Elvis Cole using elements of his own life as the basis of the story. It resulted in his breakout novel, The Monkey’s Raincoat, and was nominated for The Best First Novel Edgar Award.

Crais has 11 novels in the Elvis Cole series. Crais has been nominated for every major award in the mystery field. (A profile of Crais was the cover of our Winter 2010 issue, No. 118.)

hart_carolyn
A native of Oklahoma City, Hart began her writing career at her local newspaper. In 1964 Hart won a contest looking for a mystery novel that would appeal to adolescent girls which resulted in her first published book. She wrote a number of books for young adults over the course of the next seven years.

In 1972, she turned to writing for an adult audience and has published 50 novels, a remarkable achievement for any author. Hart has written 23 novels in her Death on Demand series. She also writes two other series, the Henrie O mysteries and the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series. Her novel Letter From Home was awarded the Agatha for the best mystery novel of 2003 and was a New York Times notable book. She has been nominated for many writing awards, and is a past president of Sisters in Crime.

(Mystery Scene profiled Carolyn Hart in the Issue No. 115.)

Previous Grand Masters include Ken Follett, Margaret Maron, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

auntagatha_storeannarbor
Established in 1953, the Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. The 2014 Raven will go to Aunt Agatha's of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Aunt Agatha’s owners, Robin and Jamie Agnew are champions of both established and new authors, making the store a must-stop destination for author tours in the Midwest. They are among the founding members of the Kerrytown Bookfest, an event that celebrates those who create books and those who read them. The Bookfest's goal is to highlight the area’s rich heritage in the book and printing arts while showcasing local and regional individuals, businesses, and organizations.

(A previous story on Aunt Agatha's can be found here.)

I offer personal congratulations to the Agnews as I was honored to receive the Raven last year. It is an honor I treasure. Previous Raven winners include Molly Weston, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.

Oline Cogdill
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 09:12

crais_robert
This blog doesn't often receive breaking news, but today is an exception. We received word about the next Grand Masters less than an hour ago.

Mystery Scene offers its congratulations to two deserving authors chosen by the Mystery Writers of America as the next Grand Masters and to a bookstore who will be honored with the Raven.

Robert Crais and Carolyn Hart have been chosen as the 2014 Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America (MWA).

MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality, the organization stated in its press release.

Crais and Hart will be presented with their awards at the Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Crais started his career as a screenwriter for such major TV crime shows as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice. During the mid-1980s, he left television and began writing novels full-time. The death of his father in 1985 inspired Crais to create his main character Elvis Cole using elements of his own life as the basis of the story. It resulted in his breakout novel, The Monkey’s Raincoat, and was nominated for The Best First Novel Edgar Award.

Crais has 11 novels in the Elvis Cole series. Crais has been nominated for every major award in the mystery field. (A profile of Crais was the cover of our Winter 2010 issue, No. 118.)

hart_carolyn
A native of Oklahoma City, Hart began her writing career at her local newspaper. In 1964 Hart won a contest looking for a mystery novel that would appeal to adolescent girls which resulted in her first published book. She wrote a number of books for young adults over the course of the next seven years.

In 1972, she turned to writing for an adult audience and has published 50 novels, a remarkable achievement for any author. Hart has written 23 novels in her Death on Demand series. She also writes two other series, the Henrie O mysteries and the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series. Her novel Letter From Home was awarded the Agatha for the best mystery novel of 2003 and was a New York Times notable book. She has been nominated for many writing awards, and is a past president of Sisters in Crime.

(Mystery Scene profiled Carolyn Hart in the Issue No. 115.)

Previous Grand Masters include Ken Follett, Margaret Maron, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

auntagatha_storeannarbor
Established in 1953, the Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. The 2014 Raven will go to Aunt Agatha's of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Aunt Agatha’s owners, Robin and Jamie Agnew are champions of both established and new authors, making the store a must-stop destination for author tours in the Midwest. They are among the founding members of the Kerrytown Bookfest, an event that celebrates those who create books and those who read them. The Bookfest's goal is to highlight the area’s rich heritage in the book and printing arts while showcasing local and regional individuals, businesses, and organizations.

(A previous story on Aunt Agatha's can be found here.)

I offer personal congratulations to the Agnews as I was honored to receive the Raven last year. It is an honor I treasure. Previous Raven winners include Molly Weston, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.

Share a Cocktail With Lisa Unger, Michael Connelly
Oline Cogdill

ungerlisa_author
Here’s a contest that should attract many mystery readers: Win a trip to Florida to attend a private event with Lisa Unger, left, and Michael Connelly, below.

The event is on a private yacht in Clearwater, Florida, on January 9, 2014.

Think about it.

It’s Florida.

And it’s January.

And it’s Unger and Connelly.

Enough said.

The event is a book launch of Unger’s next novel In the Blood, which is a continuation of her series set in the idyllic sounding town of The Hollows. This series is quite interesting as Unger, a best-selling author, looks at different residents of this town.

Here's a review of Unger's Darkness, My Old Friend and Heartbroken. And here is a review of Fragile, the first in The Hollows.

Connelly—for those three readers who have never heard of him—is the best-selling author of the Harry Bosch series. His latest novel, The Gods of Guilt, features his Lincoln Lawyer character Mickey Haller and just came out this month.

Here's my review of The Gods of Guilt. And here's the review of The Gods of Guilt that we ran in Mystery Scene magazine.

connelly_michael.jpgThe contest is co-sponsored by Simon & Schuster.

The contest’s grand prize includes a three-night stay in a hotel and round-trip airfare from any state in the connected 48 states.

The winner will get to share a cocktail with the authors before the book launch begins.

In Florida.

In January.

On a yacht.

Ten other winners will receive a signed copy of In the Blood.

Details are here.

Hurry, the contest’s deadline is Dec. 15, 2013. Talk about a great holiday gift.

Oline Cogdill
Saturday, 07 December 2013 10:12

ungerlisa_author
Here’s a contest that should attract many mystery readers: Win a trip to Florida to attend a private event with Lisa Unger, left, and Michael Connelly, below.

The event is on a private yacht in Clearwater, Florida, on January 9, 2014.

Think about it.

It’s Florida.

And it’s January.

And it’s Unger and Connelly.

Enough said.

The event is a book launch of Unger’s next novel In the Blood, which is a continuation of her series set in the idyllic sounding town of The Hollows. This series is quite interesting as Unger, a best-selling author, looks at different residents of this town.

Here's a review of Unger's Darkness, My Old Friend and Heartbroken. And here is a review of Fragile, the first in The Hollows.

Connelly—for those three readers who have never heard of him—is the best-selling author of the Harry Bosch series. His latest novel, The Gods of Guilt, features his Lincoln Lawyer character Mickey Haller and just came out this month.

Here's my review of The Gods of Guilt. And here's the review of The Gods of Guilt that we ran in Mystery Scene magazine.

connelly_michael.jpgThe contest is co-sponsored by Simon & Schuster.

The contest’s grand prize includes a three-night stay in a hotel and round-trip airfare from any state in the connected 48 states.

The winner will get to share a cocktail with the authors before the book launch begins.

In Florida.

In January.

On a yacht.

Ten other winners will receive a signed copy of In the Blood.

Details are here.

Hurry, the contest’s deadline is Dec. 15, 2013. Talk about a great holiday gift.

The Fall With Gillian Anderson
Oline Cogdill
thefall_anderson
The Fall (Series 1). Acorn Media. 5 episodes, 2 discs, 306 minutes with bonus behind-the-scenes feature lasting 12 minutes. $39.99.

The face of evil, of a killer, isn’t always obvious. The most terrifying face of evil is the one that looks kind, looks normal, looks exactly like a neighbor. Or, in the case of the gripping series The Fall, looks exactly like a grief counselor to whom one would pour out one’s heart, exposing every vulnerability.

The Fall continues the string of excellent crime dramas that have come out of the United Kingdom in the past decade. A police procedural in the finest sense, The Fall was the highest-rated drama premiere in eight years when it debuted on BBC Two in May, 2013, and is just now making its U.S. debut via Acorn Media. The season has just been renewed for a second season in Great Britain.

thefall_jamiedornan
The Fall
follows the hunt for a serial killer who is targeting successful professional women who are single. From the beginning, the viewer knows that the killer is Paul Spector, icily played by Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time, Marie Antoinette). Paul works as a bereavement counselor and is married to a neo-natal nurse with whom he has two small children, a daughter and son who both dote on him.

While the idea of a family man moonlighting as a serial killer isn’t new, The Fall’s tense plots make this seem fresh and original. And as ruthless as Dornan’s performance is, the real revelation here is Gillian Anderson—Dana Scully of The X Files.

Anderson has proved herself to be a versatile actress since The X Files series ended in 2002. She has done several British TV series such as Bleak House and Great Expectations and played the Duchess of Windsor in the miniseries Any Human Heart. Most recently, she has played a psychiatrist in the NBC series Hannibal.

thefall_dvd
Anderson is flawless as Stella Gibson, a detective superintendent from London’s Metropolitan Police who has come to Belfast to review the investigation. Steely and determined, Stella is clearly the smartest person in the room as she plunges into the investigation. Too often she is pulled into office politics against her will because her intelligence threatens the Belfast detectives.

The Fall follows Paul’s chilling preparations for his next victim and his almost banal family life as Stella tries to figure out the missing link between each of the seemingly random victims.

The Fall
relies heavily on the tenets of the psychological thriller.

The seemingly compassionate Paul is always on the verge and we wonder if he will turn his violence and hatred of women on his own family.

Stella is able to filter out all the noise surrounding the investigation and zero in on what is important.

The Fall maintains a sense of realism throughout the five episodes. I am very much looking forward to the second season and more of Anderson’s intense performance.

Photos: The Fall with Gillian Anderson; Jamie Dornan. Photos courtesy Acorn Media

Oline Cogdill
Sunday, 15 December 2013 11:12
thefall_anderson
The Fall (Series 1). Acorn Media. 5 episodes, 2 discs, 306 minutes with bonus behind-the-scenes feature lasting 12 minutes. $39.99.

The face of evil, of a killer, isn’t always obvious. The most terrifying face of evil is the one that looks kind, looks normal, looks exactly like a neighbor. Or, in the case of the gripping series The Fall, looks exactly like a grief counselor to whom one would pour out one’s heart, exposing every vulnerability.

The Fall continues the string of excellent crime dramas that have come out of the United Kingdom in the past decade. A police procedural in the finest sense, The Fall was the highest-rated drama premiere in eight years when it debuted on BBC Two in May, 2013, and is just now making its U.S. debut via Acorn Media. The season has just been renewed for a second season in Great Britain.

thefall_jamiedornan
The Fall
follows the hunt for a serial killer who is targeting successful professional women who are single. From the beginning, the viewer knows that the killer is Paul Spector, icily played by Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time, Marie Antoinette). Paul works as a bereavement counselor and is married to a neo-natal nurse with whom he has two small children, a daughter and son who both dote on him.

While the idea of a family man moonlighting as a serial killer isn’t new, The Fall’s tense plots make this seem fresh and original. And as ruthless as Dornan’s performance is, the real revelation here is Gillian Anderson—Dana Scully of The X Files.

Anderson has proved herself to be a versatile actress since The X Files series ended in 2002. She has done several British TV series such as Bleak House and Great Expectations and played the Duchess of Windsor in the miniseries Any Human Heart. Most recently, she has played a psychiatrist in the NBC series Hannibal.

thefall_dvd
Anderson is flawless as Stella Gibson, a detective superintendent from London’s Metropolitan Police who has come to Belfast to review the investigation. Steely and determined, Stella is clearly the smartest person in the room as she plunges into the investigation. Too often she is pulled into office politics against her will because her intelligence threatens the Belfast detectives.

The Fall follows Paul’s chilling preparations for his next victim and his almost banal family life as Stella tries to figure out the missing link between each of the seemingly random victims.

The Fall
relies heavily on the tenets of the psychological thriller.

The seemingly compassionate Paul is always on the verge and we wonder if he will turn his violence and hatred of women on his own family.

Stella is able to filter out all the noise surrounding the investigation and zero in on what is important.

The Fall maintains a sense of realism throughout the five episodes. I am very much looking forward to the second season and more of Anderson’s intense performance.

Photos: The Fall with Gillian Anderson; Jamie Dornan. Photos courtesy Acorn Media

Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford for Cbs
Oline Cogdill

white_randywayne1
I have long thought that television and film waste a wonderful source of good drama by not tapping more into the crime fiction genre. Look at how long it took Michael’s Connelly’s Harry Bosch series to make it be filmed. (Details here.)

So I am always pleased when I hear that network executives are at least considering crime fiction as a source.

The latest that may make it to the small screen—and I say may because nothing is ever in stone when it comes to TV or film—is a series based on Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford novels.

CBS has put in development the appropriately named Doc Ford series based on White's series of 20 novels.

Marion “Doc” Ford is a retired NSA agent who is now a mild-mannered marine biologist who lives in a tight-knit marina in Sanibel Island, which is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Doc Ford is mild-mannered and unassuming, except, of course, when he is seeking justice for those in need or called back into service to use his very special skills. Of course, Doc Ford is called back into service a lot.

White’s series began with Sanibel Flats in 1990 and includes Night Moves, published last year. Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning, The Bridge) is writing the TV adaptation.

White’s series has the potential to make great TV. The novels include lots of adventure, an interesting hero, and a wide range of supporting characters. (A profile of White ran in Mystery Scene’s Winter 2010 issue, No. 113)

White_RandyWayne
The Sanibel Island and Captiva areas of Florida are just gorgeous—pristine waters, land that hasn’t been overdeveloped, and beautiful beaches. Since Florida has a number of very good actors, the producers should make good use of local talent as did other series filmed here such as Burn Notice, The Glades, Graceland, as well as others. Doc Ford’s adventures center around Florida but also take him other places so there will be good fodder for scenery.

“I’ve worked with Randy for twenty books now, and I’m still constantly surprised by the stories he creates for Doc Ford and Tomlinson and his wonderful new character, Hannah Smith. Getting to read their adventures before anyone else does is one of the tremendous perks of my job!” said Neil S. Nyren, senior vice-president, publisher, and editor in chief at G. P. Putnam's Sons. Nyren’s quote came during a recent email exchange I had with him.

White has been awarded the Conch Republic Prize for Literature and the John D. Macdonald Award for Literary Excellency. His national PBS documentary, The Gift of the Game, which he wrote and narrated, won the 2002 Woods Hole Film Festival Best of Festival award.

A fishing and nature enthusiast, he has also written extensively for National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, Playboy and Men’s Health.

In a press release, White said “The thing I love most to write about is Doc Ford and his friends at Dinkin’s Bay. I was a light tackle fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina on Sanibel Island, Florida for 13 years, and the Ford novels afford me the opportunity to revisit a time, and people, about which I care deeply.”

In the same release, White also said why Florida is the perfect setting for his novels. “Florida is an American microcosm that lures the best and the worst sort of people from all of the Americas, not just the U.S. I love the social diversity as much as I adore the varieties of subtropical land and waterscapes."

White continued, "For much of my life here, I’ve lived in an old Cracker house, tin-roofed, with a fireplace for heat, built atop the remnants of a shell pyramid that was constructed more than three thousand years ago by contemporaries of the Maya. Florida is an ancient place, but as modern as the latest South Beach fads in fashion and food. From my acre on the bay I can stand atop a mound, where kings once parlayed with Conquistadors, and watch the Space Shuttle arch toward the moon.”

Photos: Top, Randy Wayne White photo by Wendy Webb; Center, Randy Wayne White on his annual swim across Tampa Bay, a fund-raiser for the Navy SEALS, photo by Bill Hirschman

Oline Cogdill
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 06:12

white_randywayne1
I have long thought that television and film waste a wonderful source of good drama by not tapping more into the crime fiction genre. Look at how long it took Michael’s Connelly’s Harry Bosch series to make it be filmed. (Details here.)

So I am always pleased when I hear that network executives are at least considering crime fiction as a source.

The latest that may make it to the small screen—and I say may because nothing is ever in stone when it comes to TV or film—is a series based on Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford novels.

CBS has put in development the appropriately named Doc Ford series based on White's series of 20 novels.

Marion “Doc” Ford is a retired NSA agent who is now a mild-mannered marine biologist who lives in a tight-knit marina in Sanibel Island, which is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Doc Ford is mild-mannered and unassuming, except, of course, when he is seeking justice for those in need or called back into service to use his very special skills. Of course, Doc Ford is called back into service a lot.

White’s series began with Sanibel Flats in 1990 and includes Night Moves, published last year. Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning, The Bridge) is writing the TV adaptation.

White’s series has the potential to make great TV. The novels include lots of adventure, an interesting hero, and a wide range of supporting characters. (A profile of White ran in Mystery Scene’s Winter 2010 issue, No. 113)

White_RandyWayne
The Sanibel Island and Captiva areas of Florida are just gorgeous—pristine waters, land that hasn’t been overdeveloped, and beautiful beaches. Since Florida has a number of very good actors, the producers should make good use of local talent as did other series filmed here such as Burn Notice, The Glades, Graceland, as well as others. Doc Ford’s adventures center around Florida but also take him other places so there will be good fodder for scenery.

“I’ve worked with Randy for twenty books now, and I’m still constantly surprised by the stories he creates for Doc Ford and Tomlinson and his wonderful new character, Hannah Smith. Getting to read their adventures before anyone else does is one of the tremendous perks of my job!” said Neil S. Nyren, senior vice-president, publisher, and editor in chief at G. P. Putnam's Sons. Nyren’s quote came during a recent email exchange I had with him.

White has been awarded the Conch Republic Prize for Literature and the John D. Macdonald Award for Literary Excellency. His national PBS documentary, The Gift of the Game, which he wrote and narrated, won the 2002 Woods Hole Film Festival Best of Festival award.

A fishing and nature enthusiast, he has also written extensively for National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, Playboy and Men’s Health.

In a press release, White said “The thing I love most to write about is Doc Ford and his friends at Dinkin’s Bay. I was a light tackle fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina on Sanibel Island, Florida for 13 years, and the Ford novels afford me the opportunity to revisit a time, and people, about which I care deeply.”

In the same release, White also said why Florida is the perfect setting for his novels. “Florida is an American microcosm that lures the best and the worst sort of people from all of the Americas, not just the U.S. I love the social diversity as much as I adore the varieties of subtropical land and waterscapes."

White continued, "For much of my life here, I’ve lived in an old Cracker house, tin-roofed, with a fireplace for heat, built atop the remnants of a shell pyramid that was constructed more than three thousand years ago by contemporaries of the Maya. Florida is an ancient place, but as modern as the latest South Beach fads in fashion and food. From my acre on the bay I can stand atop a mound, where kings once parlayed with Conquistadors, and watch the Space Shuttle arch toward the moon.”

Photos: Top, Randy Wayne White photo by Wendy Webb; Center, Randy Wayne White on his annual swim across Tampa Bay, a fund-raiser for the Navy SEALS, photo by Bill Hirschman

A Dozen Authors to Watch and Read
Oline Cogdill

laukkauenowen_criminalenterprise
This time of year, there are myriad lists about the year’s best books. And heaven knows Mystery Scene has one to come. And I have one that is being published across the country. Here’s a link to my personal best of 2013.

But let’s take this time to take a look at the future. Who are the newest authors we should be reading? This list isn’t to take away from our current top mystery writers. We know who they are and they continue to enthrall us with solid stories.

But here are 12 new authors who I consider to be ones to watch for. By new, I am focusing on authors who have three or less novels to their name. And this list is not in any particular order. And after I compiled it, I realized I left off about another dozen authors. If anyone has a favorite, please post in the comments.

(And if you are still looking for holiday gifts for your reader friends, this list also makes a good start.)

Owen Laukkanen: This Canadian author has made the current economic woes his genre niche while creating action-packed stories that also are contemporary cautionary tales. His debut The Professionals set the tone -- a suspenseful and insightful thriller about four out-of-work, newly graduated college friends who become kidnappers. He followed that up with Criminal Enterprise in which a wealthy man, who defines himself by his possessions and career, turns to bank robbery when he is downsized. Laukkanen’s next novel Kill Fee comes out in March. While Laukkanen makes us care about his finely drawn characters, the real heroes of his novels are FBI agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota state cop Kirk Stevens.

pochoda_visitationstreet2
Ivy Pochoda
:
Ivy Pochoda’s novel Visitation Street ranked No. 2 on my best of 2013, a close close second to Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt. Visitation Street is the second novel under the Dennis Lehane imprint. It is a poignant look at the bonds that link a Red Hook neighborhood when a teenage girl disappears following an accident on the water. Pochoda looks at the entire neighborhood, from an immigrant who owns a local convenience store to a teenage boy whose father was murdered outside their apartment. Her first novel was The Art of Disappearing, published in 2009.

Elisabeth Elo: You’ll have to wait until next year for Elisabeth Elo’s debut North of Boston to hit the bookstores. But the wait is worth it. In this novel, Pirio Kasparov’s ability to withstand extreme weather works as a metaphor for survival. The heir to a perfume company and the daughter of Russian immigrants, Pirio maneuvers various strata of Boston society. The brisk plot moves without getting lost among such far-flung subjects as environmental issues, the fish industry and perfume.

Michael Sears: Michael Sears has been able to turn complex financial dealings into thrilling plots that don’t overwhelm the reader with the machinations of the stock market and without dumbing down such shenanigans. Greed, mismanaged money and cheating are sears_mortalbonds
solid foundations for many thrillers—Sears just takes them to another level. As a result he was nominated for just about every mystery fiction award last year. His debut, Black Fridays, introduced Wall Street hotshot Jason Stafford who never started out to be a criminal. A simple accounting error snowballed into a felony when his portfolio lost more than $500 million. “I was the first alumnus from my MBA class to make Managing Director. I was also the first, as far as I know, to go to prison,” says Jason. But Sears delivers more than a financial series. Jason is the father of a very difficult special needs child. Mortal Bonds is Sears’ second novel; his third comes out next summer.

Ingrid Thoft: Ingrid Thoft is off to a great start with Loyalty, her debut about a private detective whose family of high-powered Boston attorneys are as ruthless as any mob family. Identity comes out next June.

Alex Marwood: Alex Marwood is the pseudonym for a British journalist who has three other novels under her own name. The Wicket Girls is a stand alone about two girls who are convicted of the death of another child, and the women they became 25 years later. Marwood examines the class system and gossip. Her next novel, slated for U.S. publication next summer, will be called The Killer Next Door. I am not alone in my praise of this novel. Stephen King recently mentioned it as one of his top reads of the year.

Tim O’Mara: Tim O’Mara brings a fresh approach to the academic mystery with marwood_thewickedgirlshis novels about Raymond Donne, a former NYPD detective turned middle-school teacher in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. O’Mara’s debut Sacrifice Fly and his recent Crooked Numbers explore this complex character whose devotion to his students and making their lives better brings him a new start. And he uses his investigative skills even more as a teacher.

Wiley Cash: In his 2012 debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash melded crime fiction with Southern gothic for an emotional story about the power of forgiveness, the strength of family bonds and how religion can be misused to seduce and dominate. A 9-year-old boy, a sheriff and a midwife alternate narrating “A Land More Kind Than Home,” set in Marshall, “a little speck of a town” in western North Carolina. The three are bonded not only by geography but by the evil that slyly yet forcefully slithers into the community. This Dark Road to Mercy comes out in January. In his second novel, Cash focuses on two young sisters forced into foster care until their wayward father who disappeared years before suddenly returns.

Julia Keller: Julia Keller’s two novels, A Killing in the Hills and Bitter River, are insightful looks at a poverty-stricken community in West Virginia whose residents are determined to make a better life.

Tricia Fields: Tricia Fields debuted as the 2010 Tony Hillerman Prize winner with The Territory, an action-packed yet personal story about the infiltration of Mexican drug cartels in a small Texas town. Chief of Police Josie Gray is a fully realized character who fights the good fight against all odds. Fields followed up with Scratchgravel Road. Her third novel Wrecked comes out in March 2014.

Patrick Lee: Patrick Lee has three best-selling paperback originals to his name. But his hardcover debut Runner with its mix of sci-fi, Tom Clancy and adventure should put him over the top. You’ll have to wait until April to see what all the fuss is about.

Amanda Kyle Williams: Amanda Kyle Williams hit the ground running with The Stranger You Seek, a character-rich tale of self-discovery about Keye Street, a Chinese-American private detective who knows that her flaws are part of her persona. Keye knows little about her Asian heritage, but all about the South because she was adopted at age five by a white Georgia family. She followed The Stranger You Seek with The Stranger in the Room. Her third novel Don’t Talk to Strangers is due out in July 2014.

(Michael Sears and Amanda Kyle Williams are among the authors who will be at Sleuthfest 2014. Details here.)
Oline Cogdill
Saturday, 21 December 2013 11:12

laukkauenowen_criminalenterprise
This time of year, there are myriad lists about the year’s best books. And heaven knows Mystery Scene has one to come. And I have one that is being published across the country. Here’s a link to my personal best of 2013.

But let’s take this time to take a look at the future. Who are the newest authors we should be reading? This list isn’t to take away from our current top mystery writers. We know who they are and they continue to enthrall us with solid stories.

But here are 12 new authors who I consider to be ones to watch for. By new, I am focusing on authors who have three or less novels to their name. And this list is not in any particular order. And after I compiled it, I realized I left off about another dozen authors. If anyone has a favorite, please post in the comments.

(And if you are still looking for holiday gifts for your reader friends, this list also makes a good start.)

Owen Laukkanen: This Canadian author has made the current economic woes his genre niche while creating action-packed stories that also are contemporary cautionary tales. His debut The Professionals set the tone -- a suspenseful and insightful thriller about four out-of-work, newly graduated college friends who become kidnappers. He followed that up with Criminal Enterprise in which a wealthy man, who defines himself by his possessions and career, turns to bank robbery when he is downsized. Laukkanen’s next novel Kill Fee comes out in March. While Laukkanen makes us care about his finely drawn characters, the real heroes of his novels are FBI agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota state cop Kirk Stevens.

pochoda_visitationstreet2
Ivy Pochoda
:
Ivy Pochoda’s novel Visitation Street ranked No. 2 on my best of 2013, a close close second to Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt. Visitation Street is the second novel under the Dennis Lehane imprint. It is a poignant look at the bonds that link a Red Hook neighborhood when a teenage girl disappears following an accident on the water. Pochoda looks at the entire neighborhood, from an immigrant who owns a local convenience store to a teenage boy whose father was murdered outside their apartment. Her first novel was The Art of Disappearing, published in 2009.

Elisabeth Elo: You’ll have to wait until next year for Elisabeth Elo’s debut North of Boston to hit the bookstores. But the wait is worth it. In this novel, Pirio Kasparov’s ability to withstand extreme weather works as a metaphor for survival. The heir to a perfume company and the daughter of Russian immigrants, Pirio maneuvers various strata of Boston society. The brisk plot moves without getting lost among such far-flung subjects as environmental issues, the fish industry and perfume.

Michael Sears: Michael Sears has been able to turn complex financial dealings into thrilling plots that don’t overwhelm the reader with the machinations of the stock market and without dumbing down such shenanigans. Greed, mismanaged money and cheating are sears_mortalbonds
solid foundations for many thrillers—Sears just takes them to another level. As a result he was nominated for just about every mystery fiction award last year. His debut, Black Fridays, introduced Wall Street hotshot Jason Stafford who never started out to be a criminal. A simple accounting error snowballed into a felony when his portfolio lost more than $500 million. “I was the first alumnus from my MBA class to make Managing Director. I was also the first, as far as I know, to go to prison,” says Jason. But Sears delivers more than a financial series. Jason is the father of a very difficult special needs child. Mortal Bonds is Sears’ second novel; his third comes out next summer.

Ingrid Thoft: Ingrid Thoft is off to a great start with Loyalty, her debut about a private detective whose family of high-powered Boston attorneys are as ruthless as any mob family. Identity comes out next June.

Alex Marwood: Alex Marwood is the pseudonym for a British journalist who has three other novels under her own name. The Wicket Girls is a stand alone about two girls who are convicted of the death of another child, and the women they became 25 years later. Marwood examines the class system and gossip. Her next novel, slated for U.S. publication next summer, will be called The Killer Next Door. I am not alone in my praise of this novel. Stephen King recently mentioned it as one of his top reads of the year.

Tim O’Mara: Tim O’Mara brings a fresh approach to the academic mystery with marwood_thewickedgirlshis novels about Raymond Donne, a former NYPD detective turned middle-school teacher in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. O’Mara’s debut Sacrifice Fly and his recent Crooked Numbers explore this complex character whose devotion to his students and making their lives better brings him a new start. And he uses his investigative skills even more as a teacher.

Wiley Cash: In his 2012 debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash melded crime fiction with Southern gothic for an emotional story about the power of forgiveness, the strength of family bonds and how religion can be misused to seduce and dominate. A 9-year-old boy, a sheriff and a midwife alternate narrating “A Land More Kind Than Home,” set in Marshall, “a little speck of a town” in western North Carolina. The three are bonded not only by geography but by the evil that slyly yet forcefully slithers into the community. This Dark Road to Mercy comes out in January. In his second novel, Cash focuses on two young sisters forced into foster care until their wayward father who disappeared years before suddenly returns.

Julia Keller: Julia Keller’s two novels, A Killing in the Hills and Bitter River, are insightful looks at a poverty-stricken community in West Virginia whose residents are determined to make a better life.

Tricia Fields: Tricia Fields debuted as the 2010 Tony Hillerman Prize winner with The Territory, an action-packed yet personal story about the infiltration of Mexican drug cartels in a small Texas town. Chief of Police Josie Gray is a fully realized character who fights the good fight against all odds. Fields followed up with Scratchgravel Road. Her third novel Wrecked comes out in March 2014.

Patrick Lee: Patrick Lee has three best-selling paperback originals to his name. But his hardcover debut Runner with its mix of sci-fi, Tom Clancy and adventure should put him over the top. You’ll have to wait until April to see what all the fuss is about.

Amanda Kyle Williams: Amanda Kyle Williams hit the ground running with The Stranger You Seek, a character-rich tale of self-discovery about Keye Street, a Chinese-American private detective who knows that her flaws are part of her persona. Keye knows little about her Asian heritage, but all about the South because she was adopted at age five by a white Georgia family. She followed The Stranger You Seek with The Stranger in the Room. Her third novel Don’t Talk to Strangers is due out in July 2014.

(Michael Sears and Amanda Kyle Williams are among the authors who will be at Sleuthfest 2014. Details here.)
Michael Connelly, P.G. Sturges
Oline Cogdill

sturgesp.g_shortcutman
California author p.g. sturges (yep, all lowercased) received an early Christmas gift from Michael Connelly.

Sturges’ “gift” came during Connelly’s appearance this past Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation during which four authors talked about books with Bob Schieffer.

Each author was asked to name one of the best books they had read this past year.

Connelly mentioned sturges’ series that is called “the shortcut man.”

The “hero” of this series is Dick Henry, who has been called the shortcut man because he can quickly get to the heart of a problem. He’s not a detective or a cop, just a guy who does jobs for others.

Sturges has three novels in his series—Shortcut Man, Tribulations of the Shortcut Man, and Angel’s Gate.
Sturges, the son of writer-director Preston Sturges, laces his hard-boiled series with gallows humor.

Connelly, of course, is the author of the Harry Bosch series. Connelly’s latest novel The Gods of Guilt returns to his Lincoln Lawyer character Mickey Haller. (The Gods of Guilt is my pick for best crime fiction of the year.)

Oline Cogdill
Wednesday, 25 December 2013 05:12

sturgesp.g_shortcutman
California author p.g. sturges (yep, all lowercased) received an early Christmas gift from Michael Connelly.

Sturges’ “gift” came during Connelly’s appearance this past Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation during which four authors talked about books with Bob Schieffer.

Each author was asked to name one of the best books they had read this past year.

Connelly mentioned sturges’ series that is called “the shortcut man.”

The “hero” of this series is Dick Henry, who has been called the shortcut man because he can quickly get to the heart of a problem. He’s not a detective or a cop, just a guy who does jobs for others.

Sturges has three novels in his series—Shortcut Man, Tribulations of the Shortcut Man, and Angel’s Gate.
Sturges, the son of writer-director Preston Sturges, laces his hard-boiled series with gallows humor.

Connelly, of course, is the author of the Harry Bosch series. Connelly’s latest novel The Gods of Guilt returns to his Lincoln Lawyer character Mickey Haller. (The Gods of Guilt is my pick for best crime fiction of the year.)

Marcia Clark’s Series May Be Tv Bound
Oline Cogdill

clark_guiltbyassociation
Marcia Clark
’s series about Rachel Knight, a Deputy District Attorney in the Special Trials Unit of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, may be the next series on TNT.

The cable network has given the OK to the pilot Guilt by Association. The script is being co-written by Clark and Nashville showrunner Dee Johnson. Nelson McCormick (The Closer; Rizzoli & Isles) will direct the Guilt by Association pilot and also act as executive producer.

One of the hallmarks of Clark’s series is the friendship between Rachel and LAPD detective Bailey Keller and prosecutor Toni LaCollette.

The three women have a solid friendship that is based on respect and affection. This would fit in very well with TNT’s series Rizzoli & Isles, based on the novels by Tess Gerritsen.

A couple of years ago, TNT had a string of terrific made for TV films based on crime fiction. Novels by Lisa Gardner, Richard North Patterson, and Mary and Carol Higgins Clark made quite credible movies.

Would love to see TNT explore more crime fiction for future projects. I have lots of suggestions, TNT executives.

Oline Cogdill
Saturday, 28 December 2013 12:12

clark_guiltbyassociation
Marcia Clark
’s series about Rachel Knight, a Deputy District Attorney in the Special Trials Unit of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, may be the next series on TNT.

The cable network has given the OK to the pilot Guilt by Association. The script is being co-written by Clark and Nashville showrunner Dee Johnson. Nelson McCormick (The Closer; Rizzoli & Isles) will direct the Guilt by Association pilot and also act as executive producer.

One of the hallmarks of Clark’s series is the friendship between Rachel and LAPD detective Bailey Keller and prosecutor Toni LaCollette.

The three women have a solid friendship that is based on respect and affection. This would fit in very well with TNT’s series Rizzoli & Isles, based on the novels by Tess Gerritsen.

A couple of years ago, TNT had a string of terrific made for TV films based on crime fiction. Novels by Lisa Gardner, Richard North Patterson, and Mary and Carol Higgins Clark made quite credible movies.

Would love to see TNT explore more crime fiction for future projects. I have lots of suggestions, TNT executives.

Lisa Unger Returns to the Hollows
Oline Cogdill
unger_lisa
Most authors who write series concentrate on one or two recurring characters to drive the story. Kinsey Millhone, Harry Bosch, V.I. Warshawski, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, Sookie Stackhouse—each is as well known to readers as are the authors who created them.

(Five points each if you can name in one quick breath the corresponding authors; no, there is no prize, just a fun exercise.)

Lisa Unger has taken a different route with three of her last novels. Instead of focusing on a person, Unger uses the fictional town The Hollows as the driving force while concentrating on different residents each time out.

The only recurring characters in Unger’s series have been Jones Cooper, a detective, and his psychologist wife, Maggie, both of whom were the focus of Fragile, her first Hollows novel. But these characters are now minor in the series, vital, yes, but only supporting.

Unger’s newest novel In the Blood, which just came out this week, belongs to Lana Granger, a troubled young college student who is trying to hide a past that includes her father being on death row for the murder of her mother and her own violent tendencies.

ungerlisa_intheblood
The Hollows is a charming sounding town, located about 100 miles from New York City, giving it both an urban and a rural feel. Each time Unger visits The Hollows, we learn more about this place and how it affects its residents. Who knew there was a college in The Hollows, as we find out with In the Blood?

I have been trying to think of other authors who have used a town as the recurring series character and the only one I can remember is the late Marilyn Wallace, who wrote a series during the late 1980s and 1990s set in Taconic Hills (“a tiny hamlet halfway between the Hudson River and New England”).

And Tana French uses a police squad, which is in its own way like a town, in her Irish mysteries.

Perhaps more knowledgeable readers than I will remember a series in which the town was the recurring characters.

Oline Cogdill
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 12:01
unger_lisa
Most authors who write series concentrate on one or two recurring characters to drive the story. Kinsey Millhone, Harry Bosch, V.I. Warshawski, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, Sookie Stackhouse—each is as well known to readers as are the authors who created them.

(Five points each if you can name in one quick breath the corresponding authors; no, there is no prize, just a fun exercise.)

Lisa Unger has taken a different route with three of her last novels. Instead of focusing on a person, Unger uses the fictional town The Hollows as the driving force while concentrating on different residents each time out.

The only recurring characters in Unger’s series have been Jones Cooper, a detective, and his psychologist wife, Maggie, both of whom were the focus of Fragile, her first Hollows novel. But these characters are now minor in the series, vital, yes, but only supporting.

Unger’s newest novel In the Blood, which just came out this week, belongs to Lana Granger, a troubled young college student who is trying to hide a past that includes her father being on death row for the murder of her mother and her own violent tendencies.

ungerlisa_intheblood
The Hollows is a charming sounding town, located about 100 miles from New York City, giving it both an urban and a rural feel. Each time Unger visits The Hollows, we learn more about this place and how it affects its residents. Who knew there was a college in The Hollows, as we find out with In the Blood?

I have been trying to think of other authors who have used a town as the recurring series character and the only one I can remember is the late Marilyn Wallace, who wrote a series during the late 1980s and 1990s set in Taconic Hills (“a tiny hamlet halfway between the Hudson River and New England”).

And Tana French uses a police squad, which is in its own way like a town, in her Irish mysteries.

Perhaps more knowledgeable readers than I will remember a series in which the town was the recurring characters.

True Detective Truly Enthralling
Oline H. Cogdill
truedetectives_hbo
In some of the best crime fiction, the detectives work the case as the case works the detectives, forcing them to evaluate their sense of justice, their moral compass and each other.

That approach is the cornerstore of True Detective, the engrossing new HBO series that debuts tonight at 9 p.m. EST/PT.

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are partners in Louisiana’s Criminal Investigation Division.

We first meet them in 2012 when both are being interviewed about a case involving the ritualistic occult murder of a woman that they handled in 1995.

It became one of those cases that changed their lives and forced them down a path of life from which they have never recovered.

True Detective alternates between the interview in 2012 to the case in 1995 with flashbacks to 2002 when Cohle left the squad.

“You don’t pick your parents and you don’t pick your partners,” says detective Hart (Woody Harrelson) to the investigators who are interviewing him at the beginning of True Detective. At first glance, Hart doesn’t look much different than he did back in 1995—a bit more grizzled, a bit more cynical—but he is clean shaven, looks presentable in a suit and is sober.

The same can’t be said for his former partner. In 1995, Cohle was clean-shaven, dressed neatly and, despite personal tragedies and a bleak attitude, had not seemed to completely give up on life. The 2012 Cohle seems unable to care about anything, least of all himself. His beard and long hair are not a fashion statement but because he can’t muster the energy to shave, or even wear clean clothes. He drinks heavily throughout the interview because the investigators are interrupting the hours he has set aside each day to drink, and he will not give up this time.

Cohle and Hart were never friends. Cohle’s propensity for his nihilistic monologues on religion, life, and families irritated Hart when they were partners. Married with children, Hart doesn’t trust the fact that Cohle is single and lives in a Spartan apartment.

The eight-episode True Detective takes the partners through the backroads of Louisiana as the camera lovingly follows the bleak beauty of swamps, abandoned buildings, burnt-out churches and blue-collar towns around the Atchafalaya basin.

The murder of this young woman spirals both Cohle and Hart into cycles of obsession and violence. Neither is prepared for how the case will affect each.

True Detective resists the cliches of the televised police procedural as it draws us into each man’s life. Credit goes to creator Nic Pizzolatto, the author of the novel Galveston, an Edgar finalist for best first novel in 2010, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Jane Eyre) who show the humanity of each detective, exploring what made these already damaged men and how the case changed them. Both Pizzolatto and Fukunaga keep the onscreen violence to a minimum but make the threat of violence high, lurking just below the surface ready to erupt at any moment.

But credit also must go to McConaughey and Harrelson, both of whom dial down their usual onscreen personalities to create an intriguing ensemble. I have had a lot more respect for McConaughey since he appeared in The Lincoln Lawyer, based on Michael Connelly’s novel. In True Detective, McConaughey morphs into a credible, haunted detective whose intelligence is his biggest asset, and liability. He’s no longer a movie star famous for taking off his shirt or hawking cologne, but a man who has lost everything. Harrelson is frightening as a cop too tightly coiled. Their strong performances make True Detective even more compelling.

Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone) stars as Hart’s wife, Maggie, who wants to keep her family together but knows she may not succeed.

True Detective unfolds over eight episodes. In an interview, Pizzolatto said he is planning each season to be a self-contained series with a definite ending and a different cast.

That’s an interesting idea but McConaughey and Harrelson are so good in True Detective that they would be welcomed back.

True Detective airs at 9 p.m. (EST/Pt) Sundays on HBO. Frequent encores will run each week.

Photo: Matthew McConaughey, left, and Woody Harrelson in True Detective. Photo courtesy HBO

Oline Cogdill
Saturday, 11 January 2014 08:01
truedetectives_hbo
In some of the best crime fiction, the detectives work the case as the case works the detectives, forcing them to evaluate their sense of justice, their moral compass and each other.

That approach is the cornerstore of True Detective, the engrossing new HBO series that debuts tonight at 9 p.m. EST/PT.

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are partners in Louisiana’s Criminal Investigation Division.

We first meet them in 2012 when both are being interviewed about a case involving the ritualistic occult murder of a woman that they handled in 1995.

It became one of those cases that changed their lives and forced them down a path of life from which they have never recovered.

True Detective alternates between the interview in 2012 to the case in 1995 with flashbacks to 2002 when Cohle left the squad.

“You don’t pick your parents and you don’t pick your partners,” says detective Hart (Woody Harrelson) to the investigators who are interviewing him at the beginning of True Detective. At first glance, Hart doesn’t look much different than he did back in 1995—a bit more grizzled, a bit more cynical—but he is clean shaven, looks presentable in a suit and is sober.

The same can’t be said for his former partner. In 1995, Cohle was clean-shaven, dressed neatly and, despite personal tragedies and a bleak attitude, had not seemed to completely give up on life. The 2012 Cohle seems unable to care about anything, least of all himself. His beard and long hair are not a fashion statement but because he can’t muster the energy to shave, or even wear clean clothes. He drinks heavily throughout the interview because the investigators are interrupting the hours he has set aside each day to drink, and he will not give up this time.

Cohle and Hart were never friends. Cohle’s propensity for his nihilistic monologues on religion, life, and families irritated Hart when they were partners. Married with children, Hart doesn’t trust the fact that Cohle is single and lives in a Spartan apartment.

The eight-episode True Detective takes the partners through the backroads of Louisiana as the camera lovingly follows the bleak beauty of swamps, abandoned buildings, burnt-out churches and blue-collar towns around the Atchafalaya basin.

The murder of this young woman spirals both Cohle and Hart into cycles of obsession and violence. Neither is prepared for how the case will affect each.

True Detective resists the cliches of the televised police procedural as it draws us into each man’s life. Credit goes to creator Nic Pizzolatto, the author of the novel Galveston, an Edgar finalist for best first novel in 2010, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Jane Eyre) who show the humanity of each detective, exploring what made these already damaged men and how the case changed them. Both Pizzolatto and Fukunaga keep the onscreen violence to a minimum but make the threat of violence high, lurking just below the surface ready to erupt at any moment.

But credit also must go to McConaughey and Harrelson, both of whom dial down their usual onscreen personalities to create an intriguing ensemble. I have had a lot more respect for McConaughey since he appeared in The Lincoln Lawyer, based on Michael Connelly’s novel. In True Detective, McConaughey morphs into a credible, haunted detective whose intelligence is his biggest asset, and liability. He’s no longer a movie star famous for taking off his shirt or hawking cologne, but a man who has lost everything. Harrelson is frightening as a cop too tightly coiled. Their strong performances make True Detective even more compelling.

Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone) stars as Hart’s wife, Maggie, who wants to keep her family together but knows she may not succeed.

True Detective unfolds over eight episodes. In an interview, Pizzolatto said he is planning each season to be a self-contained series with a definite ending and a different cast.

That’s an interesting idea but McConaughey and Harrelson are so good in True Detective that they would be welcomed back.

True Detective airs at 9 p.m. (EST/Pt) Sundays on HBO. Frequent encores will run each week.

Photo: Matthew McConaughey, left, and Woody Harrelson in True Detective. Photo courtesy HBO

A Justified Tribute to Elmore Leonard
Oline Cogdill

leonard_elmore
I had to miss the launch of the fifth season of the FX series Justified, but you can be sure that I have since caught up and am again riveted to the adventures of Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), and the rest of the Kentucky lawmen and outlaws.

It’s going to be another great season.

But what I missed by not seeing Justified in real time was the brief tribute to the late novelist Elmore Leonard, whose short story, "Fire in the Hole," inspired the series.

The 90-second tribute was part of a longer piece that will eventually be part of the Season 5 DVD and include interviews with cast members and others who worked with Leonard, plus readings from his novels.

Justified is so very much in keeping with Leonard’s novels—stories with crisp dialogue, a blurring between the good guys and bad guys and a sense that these are real people that we are ease dropping on.

justified_goggoly
Leonard had many fans among those who worked on Justified, including series creator Graham Yost. The Detroit Free Press wrote last week that Yost made “WWED (What Would Elmore Do) the guidepost for the writers."

In the same interview, the newspaper quoted Yost, “There's an old saw that you should never meet your heroes, and that applies, but not in Elmore's case. He was just fun to hang out with and had a great attitude about life and work and writing,” said Yost, adding in the same newspaper article that this year, “There's a certain degree that there's a switchover from ‘We hope Elmore likes this episode’ to ‘This is in memory of Elmore.’ We hope that... we're, in his memory, doing the best we can to make him happy.”

In the same article, the Free Press interviewed Olyphant: “What I was always aware of was the tone, the humor, the ease with which he told stories or made jokes without acknowledging them. He just had the timing. He was not unlike his books.”

Leonard, who died Aug. 20, 2013, at age 87, left behind a legacy of more than 45 novels that appealed to readers of many generations.

When a director and screenwriter respected his novels, Leonard’s work translated well to the movie screen, including Jackie Brown (based on Rum Punch), Get Shorty, Be Cool, Out of Sight, Hombre, and Joe Kidd.

But for many of us, Leonard’s novels were what we most gravitated toward.

Now we have a year in which we will not have a novel by the master. It just doesn’t seem justified.

Justified airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on the FX Channel with frequent encores.

Photos: Top, Elmore Leonard; center, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant).

Oline Cogdill
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 02:01

leonard_elmore
I had to miss the launch of the fifth season of the FX series Justified, but you can be sure that I have since caught up and am again riveted to the adventures of Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), and the rest of the Kentucky lawmen and outlaws.

It’s going to be another great season.

But what I missed by not seeing Justified in real time was the brief tribute to the late novelist Elmore Leonard, whose short story, "Fire in the Hole," inspired the series.

The 90-second tribute was part of a longer piece that will eventually be part of the Season 5 DVD and include interviews with cast members and others who worked with Leonard, plus readings from his novels.

Justified is so very much in keeping with Leonard’s novels—stories with crisp dialogue, a blurring between the good guys and bad guys and a sense that these are real people that we are ease dropping on.

justified_goggoly
Leonard had many fans among those who worked on Justified, including series creator Graham Yost. The Detroit Free Press wrote last week that Yost made “WWED (What Would Elmore Do) the guidepost for the writers."

In the same interview, the newspaper quoted Yost, “There's an old saw that you should never meet your heroes, and that applies, but not in Elmore's case. He was just fun to hang out with and had a great attitude about life and work and writing,” said Yost, adding in the same newspaper article that this year, “There's a certain degree that there's a switchover from ‘We hope Elmore likes this episode’ to ‘This is in memory of Elmore.’ We hope that... we're, in his memory, doing the best we can to make him happy.”

In the same article, the Free Press interviewed Olyphant: “What I was always aware of was the tone, the humor, the ease with which he told stories or made jokes without acknowledging them. He just had the timing. He was not unlike his books.”

Leonard, who died Aug. 20, 2013, at age 87, left behind a legacy of more than 45 novels that appealed to readers of many generations.

When a director and screenwriter respected his novels, Leonard’s work translated well to the movie screen, including Jackie Brown (based on Rum Punch), Get Shorty, Be Cool, Out of Sight, Hombre, and Joe Kidd.

But for many of us, Leonard’s novels were what we most gravitated toward.

Now we have a year in which we will not have a novel by the master. It just doesn’t seem justified.

Justified airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on the FX Channel with frequent encores.

Photos: Top, Elmore Leonard; center, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant).

2014 Agatha Nominations Announced
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Test Article With Video
Super User
Tuesday, 03 June 2014 03:06

Test article with video