Like many others, I have been trying to carve out some time to clean, declutter and organize during this pandemic.
And like many, I have had intermediate success. A little bit here, some there, time to stop. First few weeks my husband and I put out more than 12 bags of recyclable paper. And that went on for at least 6 weeks. Now, down to a bag or two, usually filled with recent newspapers.
Last week, I had another surge that resulted in 6 recycling bags.
So naturally, during this organizing, my mind turned to mysteries.
First, I have little regard for Marie Kondo’s decluttering theory about discarding things that don’t spark joy. I like stuff. My stuff gives me joy, whether I have used that stuff recently or 10 years ago.
Yes, I attach sentimental feelings to a lot of stuff.
If you do too, great.
If you don’t, that’s fine, too.
Just don’t tell me that I must feel so good to get rid of stuff.
No. I feel good about myself all the time.
If that purging makes you feel better about yourself—OK, fine. Though why didn’t you feel good about yourself all along? And if you feel you have too much stuff, stop shopping.
OK, back to mysteries.
Hallie Ephron’s 2019 novel Careful What You Wish For (Wm. Morrow) may have been one of the first to use Kondo’s philosophy as a plot device. I say “may have been” because once I get too decisive an astute reader will come up with more ideas.
In her sixth novel, Ephron delivers an in-depth look at how an emotional attachment to things affects people. Emily Harlow was happiest when she was paring down her belongings.
So much joy in that action that she and her partner Becca Jain started the business, Freeze-Frame Clutter Kickers to help others be organized.
What doesn’t bring Emily joy is her husband Frank’s obsession with his stuff.
Their basement is overstuffed with stuff, mainly because of Frank’s “compulsive yard-sale-ing.” But Emily has a hard-fast rule—do not touch another’s property unless they give you permission. And that goes for her own home, too.
Hired to clean out a storage unit, Emily and her partners find body hidden among all the stuff that may have been stolen years before.
Ephron keeps the suspense high and the fear factor dangling with each visit to the storage unit. Anyone who has rented one of those storage units and visited it at night, knows that sense of dread grows with each ding of the elevator, each car that arrives.
Ephron’s Careful What You Wish For is a stand-alone but there are at least two series wrapped around decluttering.
Ritter Ames’ Organized for Murder series features organization expert Kate McKenzie whose new business Stacked in Your Favor is part of the plan for her family to make a fresh start in her husband’s small hometown in Vermont.
Organized for Picnic Panic is the sixth and latest in this cozy series. In Organized for Picnic Panic, The Vermont town of Hazelton is planning its popular annual Labor Day Picnic.
Kate has put her organizing skills to work helping her family and neighbors enjoy the community event. The McKenzies are still new to the town and are anxious to be a part of this tradition. Of course, the picnic won’t go as smoothly as hoped.
British writer Simon Brett’s latest series has the tagline of “The Decluttering Mysteries” and revolve around, you guessed it, a declutter.
Clutter Corpse, which came out June 2020, introduces Ellen Curtis, whose business is helping people who are running out of space.
According to the novel’s description, “As a declutterer, she is used to encountering all sorts of weird and wonderful objects in the course of her work. What she has never before encountered is a dead body.”
When Ellen finds a young woman’s body in an over-cluttered apartment, suspicion lands on the deceased homeowner's son, recently released from prison.
Actually, I think reading about decluttering is more fun than decluttering.
Authors Charlaine Harris and Jeffery Deaver have been named the 2021 Grand Masters and the Malice Domestic conference will receive the Raven Award, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announced today.
They will receive their awards at the 75th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony, which will be held April 29, 2021.
Mystery Scene congratulations Harris, Deaver and Malice Domestic.
“Over the course of decades, Deaver and Harris have gripped tens of millions of readers while broadening the reach of the genre with transformative books—notably, Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, and Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels—and while generously encouraging and supporting fellow writers and the reading public. We’re delighted to recognize their achievements,” stated MWA President Meg Gardiner in the MWA announcement.
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, according to the organization’s announcement.
Jeffery Deaver has published more than 40 novels since the early 1990’s, including two series besides the Lincoln Rhyme novels, numerous stand-alone and short story collections.
In the MWA announcement, Deaver said, “When I was a (relatively) young writer new to this business of penning novels, many years ago, the first professional organization I joined was Mystery Writers of America. Signing on felt to me like coming home—being welcomed into a community of fellow authors willing to share their expertise and offer support in a profession that was largely, well, a ‘mystery’ to me.
“Besides, how could I not join? MWA was the real deal; for proof, one had only to look at those in the ranks of the Grand Masters: Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, James M. Cain . . . and so many others whose works populated my bookshelves. Yet it never once occurred to me, in all my years as a member and my two terms as president, that I might be invited into those very ranks. I wish to express by boundless gratitude to MWA for this honor, which stands, without question, as the high point of my career,” he added.
Charlaine Harris has published 13 novels in the Southern Vampire series (adapted into the popular HBO series True Blood), which proved so popular that at one point her novels took half of the top 10 slots on New York Times’ bestseller list. Her other series include the Aurora Teagarden novels, the Lily Bard (Shakespeare) books, the Midnight Texas trilogy (adapted for television) and numerous others, as well as several standalones.
Harris said in the announcement, “This is like winning the lottery and the Pulitzer Prize in one day. I am so honored and thrilled to join the ranks of revered writers who are Grand Masters. I thank the MWA Board from the bottom of my heart.”
Previous Grand Masters include Barbara Neely, Martin Cruz Smith, William Link, Peter Lovesey, Walter Mosley, Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Ken Follett, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie, to name a few.
The Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.
For 2021, Mystery Writers of America selected the Malice Domestic mystery conference, founded in 1989 and held every spring since. Malice Domestic focuses primarily on traditional mysteries, their authors and fans, and also presents the Agatha Awards, with six categories.
“Who says Friday the 13th is an unlucky day?” said Verena Rose, currently chair of the Malice Domestic Board of Directors. “Certainly, not me. This morning I received a call from Greg Herren, Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, letting me know that Malice Domestic has been selected to receive the Raven Award in 2021. What an absolutely, amazing surprise and as the Chair, I can’t wait to give my fellow Board members the news. This is an honor we are beyond thrilled to receive.”
I have to add that the Raven is my favorite category—and for a selfish reason. I was honored with the Raven in 2013 and make sure I look at the lovely bird every day.
Other Raven winners include Left Coast Crime, Marilyn Stasio Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas, Sisters in Crime, Margaret Kinsman, Kathryn Kennison, Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, Eudora Welty, Zev Buffman, Bill Clinton and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.
The Edgar Awards are named after MWA’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre.
The organization has some 3,000 members including authors, screen and television writers, publishers, editors, and literary agents.
For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website: www.mysterywriters.org