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"I once asked this literary agent what writing paid the best, and he said, 'ransom notes.'"

—Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) in Get Shorty, 1995, screenplay by Elmore Leonard and Scott Frank based on Leonard's novel.

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Mystery Scene

Crippen & Landru Raising the Bar

by Mark Terry


A chat with Crippen and Landru's Douglas Greene on a decade of publishing Max Allan Collins, Marcia Muller, Peter Lovesey, Ed Hoch, and other great writers.

You could say that publisher Douglas Greene's career path began on a yellow brick road.

A bibliophile since childhood, Greene  and his brother Dave had  gathered a near-complete collection of Wizard of Oz works by L. Frank Baum. Realizing there was little left to acquire, they decided to auction off the entire collection, expecting it might go for 30 or 40 thousand dollars. "We decided we could use the money for our kids' college tuition," says Greene.

The collection went for $175,000. After paying taxes, the auction house and putting the kids through school, Greene found he still had three or four thousand dollars left over.

So in 1994, the Old Dominion University history professor started a small press devoted to mystery fiction and named after two murderers, H.H. Crippen and Henri Landru. Greene was already the author of  an Edgar-nominated biography of John Dickson Carr, so he  debuted with a collection of Carr's short stories. C & L's second book was a collection of short stories by Marcia Muller.

The pattern was set. Crippen & Landru, comprised of Greene, along with his wife Sandi and their son Eric, would be devoted to publishing single-author short story collections.

Max Allan Collins, whose collection Kisses of Death: A Nathan Heller Casebook appeared in 2001, says, "Mystery writers and fans alike owe Doug Greene and C&L a great debt of thanks. Without them, precious little of the short fiction of the last thirty years would be preserved in book form, certainly not in 'single author' collections. The books are classy-looking and Doug's scholarship in attaching bibliographies adds a touch that is at once nicely fan-ish and entirely professional...two qualities that don't come together that often."

In the ten years since opening its literary doors, C&L has published over 50 books by such mystery stars as Marcia Muller, Peter Lovesey, Ed Hoch, Joe Gores and Lawrence Block. "If anybody had told me that we'd last ten years, I don't know if I would have believed it," says Doug Greene. "The surprising thing is we're still around and increasing our market."

Crippen & Landru's "Regular Series" is made up primarily of works by  contemporary mystery writers. The books are published in two forms: Signed, numbered, clothbound, limited to 175-300 copies, each with a page tipped-in of the author's typescript or with an additional story in a standalone pamphlet. The Regular Series is also available, unsigned, in trade softcover.

Eric Greene handles the "Lost Classics Series," available in cloth and trade softcover, which are collections of stories by vintage authors. So far, there are ten volumes devoted to works by  writers such as Craig Rice, Peter Godfrey and Gerald Kersh. There are more on the way, too, including collections by Erle Stanley Gardner, Gladys Mitchell and Rafael Sabatini.

By all accounts, authors love working with Crippen & Landru. Margaret Maron, whose second collection, Suitable for Hanging will be out in 2004, says, "I find Doug Greene such a pleasure to work with. He asks for my input, listens to what I have to say, and answers my letters even faster than members of my own family."

Author Jerry Healy, whose second collection, Cuddy Plus One, came out in June 2003, agrees. "I imagine the experience is a little like what Rex Stout would have encountered back when publishing was a smaller sorority-fraternity, and editors and publishers all knew well the authors on their lists."

"We try to be as professional as possible," says Greene, noting that they pay advances and always get their royalty statements out on time. He believes that the authors and agents respond well to their professionalism.

But why single-author short story collections? "Ever since Poe and Doyle," notes Greene, "short stories have been the purest form of the mystery story and our goal is to preserve these tales in permanent books. Most commercial presses do not want to publish short-story volumes, so many authors have come to us or we to them."

Lawrence Block (The Lost Cases of Ed London and One Night Stands) says, "Doug and Sandi Greene have made a wonderful success of small press publishing by following the time-honored formula: Find a need and fill it. Their single-author collections of short stories, artfully compiled and attractively presented, are so designed as to appeal to the reader and the collector."

Greene notes that marketing is one of their trouble spots, but that they've had  two very successful initiatives in this area. One involves publishing special collector's pamphlets in conjunction with the annual Malice Domestic conference. These pamphlets feature a short story by "The Ghost of Honor" a vintage author being honored by the convention or a short story by the winner of the Malice Domestic Lifetime Achievement Award. The pamphlets have proven to be excellent advertising for Crippen & Landru books.

Their other successful marketing tactic is to offer a subscriber list. Those on the list agree to automatically purchase all C&L books and in return receive a 20% discount. Notes Greene, "the 185 subscribers pretty much covers the press run costs."

Lawrence Block says, "I don't collect and rarely read these days, but I've been a Crippen & Landru subscriber almost from the beginning, and not only display the books with satisfaction but even go so far as to read them. Two books of my own are a part of the series, and I've never had a more satisfying publishing experience. They are, to the surprise of no one who knows them, a true pleasure to deal with."

But what does Douglas Greene think makes up a great short story? "Obviously character, setting and plot," says Greene, "but novels have (or should have) those characteristics as well. Unlike a novel, a short story has a single idea with a twist."

Ed Hoch, who has several collections of short stories published by C&L, including the upcoming More Things Impossible: The Second Casebook of Dr. Sam Hawthorne, says: "Doug Greene is a publisher who obviously loves books. He consults with his authors about all aspects of their books, including the cover art, with the result that Crippen & Landru publications are among the most attractive mystery series being produced today. At a time when publishers shy away from short story collections, he has proven that a market exists for a quality product."

Max Allan Collins agrees. "I prize my relationship with Doug, who is very easy to work with, but also demanding: it starts with the stories. He and C&L have set the bar so high that they have the field virtually to themselves."

To find out more about Crippen & Landru the murderers, and Crippen & Landru the publishers, visit their website at


Mark Terry is a freelance writer and editor living in Oxford, Michigan. 

Evermore: The Enduring Influence of Edgar Allan Poe

by Steve Hockensmith

To most people these days, he’s that creepy guy. That horror guy. That Gomez Addams-looking guy who wrote about premature burials and black cats and a talking raven. And, yes—Edgar Allan Poe was that guy. But he was much, much more.


For which we can all be thankful. Because if you’re reading this magazine, odds are you’re a mystery fan and/or writer. And if you’re a mystery fan and/or writer, you owe Poe...whether you know it or not.

“Poe is so ingrained in us—so deeply encoded into our cultural DNA—that we no longer recognize him,” says Louis Bayard, whose novel The Pale Blue Eye puts Poe at the center of a mystery during his days as a West Point cadet. “And yet whenever we write a mystery, whenever we write horror, whenever we write science fiction—whenever we write about obsession—we’re following in his tracks.”

“He wasn’t just a mystery/suspense writer,” adds the author many fans would describe as the modern Poe, Stephen King. “He was the first.”

So as the Mystery Writers of America prepares to hand out the annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards in April (including a Grand Master honor to King and poss- a Best Novel Award to Bayard), we thought the time was right to remind crime fiction fans why the honor’s named
after Poe in the first place.

After all, it’s not “the Arthur” or “the Dashiell.” It’s the Edgar.

Here’s why.

The Innovation
Edgar Poe was born on January 19, 1809. The middle name Allan didn’t come until later, after Poe’s father (an alcoholic actor) disappeared and his mother (an actress) died of tuberculosis. Only two years old when he was orphaned, young Edgar was taken in by John Allan, a wealthy Virginia merchant. But the lad’s luck never improved much after that tragic start to life.

It was Allan’s wife, Frances, who bonded with the child. Allan himself never did—in fact, Allan never even formally adopted him. As Poe matured into manhood, the two quarreled constantly. Poe saw Allan as cold and stingy. Allan considered Poe self-indulgent and irresponsible. Not long after Frances died, Poe found himself penniless and adrift.

He tried to keep himself afloat the only way he knew how: writing. After self-publishing his first books (poetry collections that barely made a ripple before sinking into obscurity), he began selling stories to newspapers and magazines. That eventually led to positions as an editor/staff writer/critic at a string of publications—as well as the appearance of many of the short stories (or “tales” as they were known at the time) for which he would one day be famous.
Although today Poe’s often associated with the horror genre, his tales didn’t dwell on the supernatural. Instead, they often took a psychological approach to stories of crime and tragedy. As Bayard notes, Poe seemed obsessed with obsession. “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” are both narrated by psychotic killers driven to destroy themselves by guilt-fueled hallucinations. In “The Oval Portrait,” an artist becomes so fixated on finishing a painting, he doesn’t even notice that his beautiful model—his wife—is dead. And even “The Fall of the House of Usher” isn’t a ghost story, as so many readers seem to remember it. It’s about a twisted, quasi-incestuous relationship between a young woman and the brother who tries to have her interred alive.

Of course, Poe wasn’t the only writer cranking out dark tales about dirty deeds. The day of the “penny dreadful” was dawning, and there were outlets aplenty for blood-drenched shockers. Yet Poe stood apart from the hack pack, partially thanks to his emphasis on aberrant psychology, and partially because Poe’s imagination so far out-stripped his rivals.

“Poe was an innovator,” says Dawn B. Sova, author of Edgar Allan Poe A to Z and Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. “He was not the first to tackle morbid subjects. He just pushed the envelope.”

Eventually, Poe wasn’t just pushing the envelope anymore. With his story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” he created one all his own: the tale of ratiocination. Or, as it later came to be called, the mystery.

Always fascinated with puzzles and cryptograms, Poe frequently wrote columns challenging readers to send him a code he couldn’t break. In “Rue Morgue,” he did what no other writer had yet thought to do—took that kind of intellectual challenge and used it as the hook for a work of fiction.

A mother and daughter are found horribly mutilated in a locked room. The police are baffled. Only a brilliant amateur, C. Auguste Dupin, can provide an explanation, which he arrives at purely through the application of cold, precise logic. The tale is told by the dilettante detective’s unnamed roommate, who later returned to relate two more of Dupin’s cases: “The Mystery of Marie Roget” (1842) and “The Purloined Letter” (1844), both of which also hinge on detection and deduction rather than blood and thunder.

“Poe almost single-handedly invented the puzzle element of detective fiction that later came to dominate the genres of mystery and crime,” says Boston University English professor Charles Rzepka.

“There were other writers dealing in mystery and suspense, but not this kind of detective work or ratiocination,” adds Scott Peeples, associate professor of English at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and the current president of the Poe Studies Association. “I don’t think someone else would have come up with it, really. Not one of Poe’s contemporaries, anyway. The character of Dupin, the structure of the stories and the idea of proving oneself to be the intellectual champ—that stuff is intrinsic to Poe. Even when Poe’s not writing detective fiction, there’s often a similar element of gamesmanship.”

Rzepka (whose book Detective Fiction tracks the development of the genre) calls Dupin “the grandaddy of all modern literary detectives.” But it was one literary detective in particular who would pick up where grandpa left off, creating a sensation that helped cement the popularity of the mystery before the genre even had a name.

That detective, of course, was Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, even acknowledged their literary heritage in “A Study in Scarlet.”
“You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin,” Watson tells his friend. “I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”

“No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” Holmes replies. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow....”
Despite the haughtiness of Holmes’ dismissal, the character’s creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was offering a sincere (if cheeky) tip of the deerstalker to a writer who’d paved the way for him.

“Conan Doyle never failed to acknowledge his debt to Poe,” says Daniel Stashower, who’s written about both the English author (in the Edgar-winning Conan Doyle biography The Teller of Tales) and his American predecessor (in the Edgar-nominated 2006 book The Beautiful Cigar Girl, which explores how “The Mystery of Marie Roget” grew out of a real-life murder case).

“‘To [Poe] must be ascribed the monstrous progeny of writers on the detection of crime,’ Conan Doyle once wrote. ‘Each may find some little development of his own, but his main art must trace back to those admirable stories of Monsieur Dupin....’ Elsewhere, he was more succinct: ‘Poe is the master of all.’”
Such high praise would have come as a surprise to the writers and critics of the previous generation, since to them it appeared that Poe was the master of nothing, except perhaps living shamefully and dying young.

The Betrayal
While he had the occasional brush with fame and fortune (most notably after the publication of the poem “The Raven” in 1845), Poe squandered whatever opportunities came within reach. Erratic behavior (exacerbated by alcohol and the long decline and death of his wife) and a string of literary feuds (fueled by his insightful but often vicious reviews) had all but wrecked his career. The sordid, murky details of his death were, appropriately enough, the last nail in the coffin for his literary reputation.

Poe died in 1849 shortly after being found roaming the streets of Baltimore in another man’s clothes. Some accounts say he was drunk, others say he was delirious. Either way, no one knows what exactly killed him. Had he been beaten? Drugged? Bitten by a rabid cat? Infected with cholera? A new theory seems to emerge every year.

Even dead, however, Poe had to withstand one final stab in the back. An editor with whom Poe had often clashed, Rufus Griswold, wrote an anonymous obituary that began, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.” It got worse from there, painting Poe as a debauched lunatic.

Later Griswold went even further, penning a Poe “memoir” that was filled with slanders: Poe had been expelled from the University of Virginia for debauchery, Poe was an army deserter, Poe seduced and blackmailed respectable women, Poe was addicted to opium, Poe was insane. And this from the man who (for murky reasons scholars still debate) Poe had named as his literary executor—which gave Griswold the chance to work even more mischief, altering Poe’s letters to make them more scandalous and cheating Poe’s family (in particular, his beloved aunt Maria “Muddy” Clemm) out of profits from posthumous sales of his work.

Sadly, Griswold’s crusade against Poe wasn’t just tireless: For decades, it was effective.

“In large part because of [Griswold], Poe was considered morally reprehensible,” Sova says. “His work was not thought of as a suitable model [for literature]. It was largely pushed aside in the United States and England for 50 years.”

In France, however, the perception of Poe as an opium-addled madman might have actually helped. The French poet Charles Baudelaire came to worship Poe, seeing in him not only a kindred spirit but a victim of parochialism and hypocrisy. Poe was, to him, the classic Misunderstood Genius. Baudelaire set out to right that wrong by praising Poe to anyone who’d listen and translating the writer’s tales into French.

“Baudelaire was a great press agent,” says Peeples, who devoted an entire book (The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe) to the writer’s image and how it’s evolved over time. “He really played up the idea that Poe was rebellious and decadent.”

As a result, Poe was regarded as a master in France long before his reputation was salvaged in his homeland.

When Poe was remembered in the US (which wasn’t by many) it was as a wild-eyed reprobate tortured by demons of his own creation. Which, if you think about it, is exactly the sort of image some PR-savvy horror or crime writers would kill to have today. This gothic, larger-than-life persona meshed perfectly with Poe’s dark tales, and it eventually gave him a sort of romantic glamour he couldn’t quite pull off when he was alive.

“On the one hand, the treatment of him after death created a lag in American appreciation of him,” says mystery/thriller author Matthew Pearl, a Poe enthusiast who edited and wrote the introduction for a recent Modern Library collection called The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales. “On the other hand, it built up a mystique that has helped his writing survive in posterity.”

That mystique didn’t just allow Poe’s works to live on: In a way, it’s kept Poe himself alive. He’s such a fascinating character that he’s been reincarnated time after time in other writers’ works.

Harold Schechter has penned a series of historical mysteries starring Poe (beginning with Nevermore in 2000), while English writer Andrew Taylor put a young Poe in peril in London in his 2003 novel The American Boy (released in the US as An Unpardonable Crime). More recently, Pearl and Louis Bayard both released Poe-focused books last year—on the same day, in fact. (Pearl’s The Poe Shadow imagines efforts to recruit the real C. Auguste Dupin to solve the mystery of Poe’s death). And this year, Joel Rose’s The Blackest Bird made Poe a suspect in the sensational murder that inspired “The Mystery of Marie Roget.”

Bayard says he’s not surprised in the slightest that so many other authors have wanted to use Poe as a character.

“It’s an act of humility,” Bayard explains. “You read Poe, you read Doyle, even Agatha Christie, and you realize they’re still the masters. And since every writer begins as a reader, it’s entirely fitting to pay homage to these masters in some way—in my case, by placing one at the center of a detective story, the genre he himself created.”

The Legacy
By the end of the 19th century, Poe was finally getting his due. Not only were his contributions being acknowledged by Conan Doyle, the man who’d picked up the detective fiction torch he’d lit, Poe also had a host of other high-profile champions, including W.H. Auden, H.G. Wells, Fyodor Dostoevsky and George Bernard Shaw.

By the time the 20th century reached its mid-point, Poe wasn’t just famous again. He was respectable enough to pop up on high school reading lists alongside Twain, Melville, Hawthorne, Hemingway and other authors who’ve shaped American literature.

Which is no guarantee of immortality given the (complete lack of) enthusiasm the typical teenager brings to reading assignments. Fond of long, clause-choked sentences and untranslated quotes in Latin and French, Poe certainly doesn’t make it easy on young readers.

Could Poe have been rescued from obscurity only to be forgotten all over again by the next generation? Stephen King would like to think not.

“Poe’s stories are wonderful, and they still stand up,” the bestselling author says. “They’re as readable now as they were when I first encountered them in my teens.”

Of course, when King was a teen, he didn’t have MTV and PlayStation competing for his time (and shortening his attention span).

“Most kids today need some help to get hooked on Poe,” says suspense novelist Karen Harper, who has taught English at both the high school and collegiate levels (and wrote about her debt to Poe in the book Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers). “As with someone like Dickens, today’s students don’t get why he doesn’t just ‘cut to the chase,’ as they are used to with horror flicks, TV or short stories today. The idea of setting the mood is something they need to understand.”

Take, for instance, the following sentence from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (which opens with several pages of philosophizing about logic and “the analytical power” before even introducing C. Auguste Dupin).

“The faculty of re-solution is possibly much invigorated by mathematical study, and especially by that highest branch of it which, unjustly, and merely on account of its retrograde operations, has been called, as if par excellence, analysis."

To which your average high school freshman eloquently replies: “Huh?”

“The style’s certainly not what we think of as ‘modern,’” admits Bill Crider, another former college English teacher (and an Edgar nominee for a story in the 2006 anthology Damn Near Dead). “The opening paragraph of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ has more adjectives in it than most novels now. [And in] his detective stories, like ‘The Purloined Letter,’ the solution can take up two-thirds of the story.”

Yet as dated as Poe’s work can sometimes seem, Crider insists that the author’s best tales are just as relevant as ever—particularly to anyone interested in the craft of writing.

“Poe’s always in the back of my mind,” says Crider (who contributed Poe pastiches to the anthologies Dark Destiny and Cat Crimes II). “‘The Cask of Amontillado’ is still a great revenge story, maybe the best ever.”

Rob Kantner agrees. The Shamus-winning author of the Ben Perkins PI series, Kantner also eulogized Poe in Mystery Muses, picking (like Crider) “The Cask of Amontillado” as an example of the author’s most powerful, enduring work.

“Compared with Poe, most of today’s authors, even the very respected ones, seem to me flabby, self-conscious and pretentious,” says Kantner. “I think studying him can still be good for writers, both new and experienced; for spareness, economy of prose, ability to build suspense.”

So even if the public-at-large remembers Poe as, alas, the creepy, Gomez Addams-looking author of quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore, mystery writers will always remember him differently.

“We are entwined with Poe,” says MWA historian and archivist Barry T. Zeman. “Without him, we would not have had this genre. He is our father and our symbol.”

MWA’s newest Grand Master puts it another way.

“Poe’s The Man,” King says. “What more can I say?”


by Oline Cogdill

Each year when award nominations come out, some authors’ works appear on a couple of different lists.


by Oline Cogdill

About two years ago, the Avon Books imprint, which is part of HarperCollins, launched its digital romance imprint called Impulse.

Now HarperCollins/William Morrow is launching Witness, which is being called its “digital-original” mystery, suspense and thriller line.

Witness will feature new titles, international bestsellers not previously available in the U.S. and newly digitized backlist classics, according to press releases.

According to the publisher, 100 titles already have been selected for Witness with the first 10 titles to be released in October.

In addition to new titles, Witness will include digital versions of Agatha Christie’s short stories. All the Hercule Poirot short stories will be released as digital singles, and then together in a single omnibus edition.

The books will not automatically move into print but it seems likely that some will, especially given Impulse’s track record. More than 60 percent of Impulse titles also are available in print.

The price of Witness titles will range from 99 cents to $2.99. And, while I have no idea how any of this works, apparently author royalties will be the same as the publisher’s other digital-first imprints.

More details of Witness are here.

Anything that brings more authors to the publishing table is a good thing for all of us.


by Oline Cogdill

Each year when award nominations come out, some authors’ works appear on a couple of different lists.

That’s understandable because these are talented authors with good books.

This year there seems to be even more overlap among the various nominees. Personally, I love it when authors on my best of the year list are nominated for several awards, as happens this year.

Please keep in mind, I am not making any predictions about who will win or who should win. There were many good books published last year, some of which are nominated for awards as well as numerous superb 2012 books not nominated in any category.

The Edgars were awarded May 2 and the Agathas were awarded May 4. The Thriller will be given during Thrillerfest July 10 to 13 in New York City. The Anthony, Shamus, Macavity, and the Barry will be given during Bouchercon, Sept. 19 to 22 in Albany, N.Y.

Here are the authors with the most nominations. If I have missed one, please let me know.

This year, two authors—Michael Sears and Hank Phillippi Ryan—tied for the most award nods with five each.

Sears’ excellent debut Black Fridays has been nominated for an Edgar, the Thriller, Anthony, the Barry and the Shamus. The only award Sears’ novel was not nominated for is the Macavity. In my review of Black Fridays, I said: “Michael Sears, who spent more than 20 years on Wall Street, delivers a thoughtful, intricate cautionary tale in his impressive debut about greed, mismanaged money and the thrill that the unscrupulous get from cheating the unsuspecting. . . . an excellent character study about a man coming to terms with his own limitations and trying to be a good father to a difficult, special-needs child.”

Hank Phillippi Ryan
’s The Other Woman picked up a Shamus, an Anthony, an Agatha, and a Macavity nods. She won the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award given during the Mystery Writers of America’s agents and editors party held May 1 during Edgar week. In my review of The Other Woman, I said “Politics, dirty campaigns and compromised candidates are a compelling plot foundation in any year, but especially in this presidential election year. The Other Woman  works well as a political thriller and romantic suspense, delving into political and journalism ethics.”

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl took four nominations—Edgar, Anthony, Barry, and Macavity. Here’s what I said about Gone Girl: The “adage of no one knows what goes on behind closed doors moves the plot of . . . Flynn’s suspenseful psychological thriller. . . Flynn’s unpredictable plot careens down an emotional highway where [a] couple dissects their marriage with sharp acumen.”

Several authors earned three nominations. Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery won an Agatha and has been nominated for an Anthony and a Macavity.

Alison Gaylin’s And She Was also is a triple threat with the Shamus, the Thriller and an Anthony.

Owen Laukkanen’s debut The Professionals has a trio of awards—the Anthony, Thriller and Barry.  My comments:  “In his excellent debut, Owen Laukkanen mixes the economic downturn and a bleak job market for a suspenseful and insightful thriller about four out-of-work, newly graduated college friends who become kidnappers.”

Daniel Friedman’s Don’t Ever Get Old and Chris Pavone’s The Expats have each received Edgar, Macavity and Thriller nominations.

Some authors have double nominations.

Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night won the Edgar for best novel and also is up for a Barry. In my review, I said: “Live by Night goes beyond the life of crime, skirting that fine line between glorifying the illegal and showing the humanity behind even mobsters. In this 10th novel, Dennis Lehane examines our history, morality in an amoral world and what motivates some people to ‘live by night,’ making up their own rules as one character says.”

Ben H. Winters’ The Last Policeman won the Edgar for best paperback and is up for Macavity.

Susan M. Boyer’s Low Country Boil won the Agatha for best first novel and also is up for a Macavity.

Matthew Quirk’s The 500 received an Edgar nomination and is up for an Anthony. In a review for Mystery Scene, I said: “Former Atlantic reporter Matthew Quirk’s powerful debut [is] a high-concept thriller about the lure of power, money and corruption. The 500—the term refers to Washington’s 500 most powerful people—balances nonstop action with believable, appealing, easy to care about characters.”

Susan Elia MacNeal’s debut Mr. Churchill's Secretary received an Edgar nomination and is up for a Macavity. A profile of MacNeal is the current cover story for Mystery Scene.

These are all terrific authors whose novels deserve to be recognized. But I wonder. Does the recognition of the same authors come at the expense of diversity in the genre?

I'd like to know what our readers think. Please comment.



by Oline Cogdill

OK, how many of you knew this is International Crime Month?

Me, neither. But now that we both know, let

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