The more you think you know about any- thing, the more you can be surprised. That was Kevin Burton Smith’s reaction to his revealing conversation with Sue Grafton in this issue. It turns out that the traumatic childhood of Grafton’s detective character Kinsey Millhone has some recognizable echoes in her own.
Even if you don’t have the opportunity to see a lot of theater, let me recommend Amnon Kabatchnik’s brilliant Blood on the Stage, a four-volume history of crime, mystery, and detection plays. These books are great reads—well-written, immensely knowledgeable, and packed with entertaining anecdotes and trivia. We asked Joe Goodrich, himself an Edgar-winning playwright, to give an overview of Blood on the Stage and talk to its author. I think you’ll be intrigued!
Speaking of excellent criticism, our con- gratulations to longtime Mystery Scene contributor Oline Cogdill! She will be receiving a Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America at this year’s Edgar Awards Banquet. The Raven is given for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing, and I think we can all agree that Oline certainly deserves it.
Have you already read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals? Seen Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln? Then proceed imme- diately to Daniel Stashower’s nonfiction work The Hour of Peril in which Allan Pinkerton, America’s first private eye, saves Honest Abe from assassination as the President-elect makes his way to Washington in 1861. Judging by the response we get on Facebook and Twitter, John D. MacDonald must be one of our readers all-time favorite writers. He certainly is for Ed Gorman, who lauds his top 10 MacDonald novels in this issue. For a list of more recent top crime novels, check out our “Fave Raves” for 2012, in which several Mystery Scene contributors name their picks for the best of last year.
In “Desecrating Poe,” Laura Miller tackles a topic that has been bothering me, too: the celebration of the serial killer in crime fiction. “Like an anti-porn crusader lingering over the (shocking!) details of the material that offends her, the serial-killer genre, with half-pretended revulsion, offers up lavish interludes of sadistic violence....While the narrative pretends to condemn and recoil from its serial-killer villain, it covertly encourages us to revel in his powers.” She is particularly outraged that The Following, the new Fox TV series about a Edgar Allan Poe-obsessed serial killer, is claiming the writer as a touchstone. Miller asserts, I think correctly, that Poe never showed much interest in evil per se, let alone celebrated it.
I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. Write in and let’s talk about it! Brian and I will be at Malice Domestic and the Edgars this spring, and at Bouchercon and Magna Cum Murder later on in the year. We hope to see you!