Thursday, 11 May 2023

Andrew Welsh-Huggins

To my surprise, [End of the Road]...drew its heart from my personal and professional lives like nothing I’d written before.

My new crime novel, The End of the Road, is my first standalone following seven installments in my Andy Hayes private eye series. I tend to write pretty methodically, but the first draft poured out of me in a rush in 2015—turns out there’s a reason it’s called a rocket draft. In the aftermath of that summer of rapid typing, I realized it was a book not just years, but decades in the making. To my surprise, it also drew its heart from my personal and professional lives like nothing I’d written before.

The novel loosely uses the structure of Homer’s The Odyssey to weave together the stories of three main characters, and here’s where the personal influence begins. I was a classics major in college, where I focused on Homer, and in fact, completed a senior thesis in 1983—almost exactly four decades before The End of The Road came out—in which I reimagined the life of a Homeric storyteller.

Since then, the notion of a hero on a long and dangerous journey with an uncertain ending has continued to fascinate me. (For example, I embed traits of Odysseus into my fictional private eye, a rapscallion who drives a Honda Odyssey and hails from Homer, Ohio—a real place.) Later on, I found myself channeling lessons from Homer when conceiving of and writing about my own Penelope—a young woman, "Penny," who embarks on a solo quest to avenge her boyfriend’s shooting. Although her journey lasts a little more than 24 hours instead of 20 years, I enjoyed hearkening back to my college-day infatuation with the wily Odysseus as I crafted Penny’s own odyssey and the challenges testing her along the way.

The End of the Road by Andrew Welsh-HugginsStudying the classics sparked one personal inspiration for the book. The next developed decades later after my wife and I settled in Columbus, Ohio. We live in an older, middle-class neighborhood on the city’s west side on the edge of an even older neighborhood called the Hilltop, a part of town with a long and proud history but also a place where decades of poverty, misplaced government planning efforts, and institutional negligence have made life tough for many of its residents. In writing about Penny and her family, I knew immediately she would be a Hilltop dweller, one of the many hardworking people I’ve observed there over the years who carry on despite numerous obstacles placed in their path. (Like pretty much any locale, the Hilltop also has its share of ne’er-do-wells, and it wasn’t hard to conjure up Pryor, my book’s one-eyed villain, as a composite character based on the neighborhood’s rougher denizens.)

Next came the novel’s professional influences, which stretch back almost as far as my college days. In 1990, as a young reporter at The Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana, I started work as a full-time police reporter, joining a long line of journalists who hone their skills covering crime and disaster. In addition to handling coverage in Bloomington, a lively college town, I was also responsible for happenings in the county’s rural areas and many other counties as well. As a result, I spent many nights at gruesome scenes, from homicide locations to car wrecks across southern Indiana, and along the way got to know several sheriff’s deputies.

In hindsight, that experience led directly to the third main character in The End of The Road, a deputy named J.P. who, working for a sheriff’s office in a (fictional) rural county near Columbus, is inadvertently drawn into Penny’s hunt for Pryor. Just as my tenure living near the Hilltop inspired me to pay homage to its residents in the form of Penny, my years covering cops in Indiana influenced the creation of J.P. as a kind of tribute to those deputies who often worked alone and under risky conditions.

Writing what you know—though a bit of a cliché these days—is certainly something that helps fuel many fiction writers, including myself. But as I found drafting The End of The Road, writing what I lived and who I worked with proved just as useful.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins is a reporter for the Associated Press in Columbus, Ohio by day and author of seven books in the Andy Hayes private eye series, featuring a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned investigator, by even earlier in the day. He is the editor of the Columbus Noir anthology from Akashic Books, and the author of two nonfiction books, No Winners Here Tonight, the definitive history of Ohio's death penalty, and Hatred At Home, about the terrorism prosecution of three Ohio friends. His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, and Mystery Tribune among others. When he’s not writing or reporting, Welsh-Huggins enjoys running, reading, cooking, and spending time with family.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins' Journey from Homer to Hilltop, Ohio, Finds Him at "The End of The Road"
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Monday, 08 May 2023

The Anthony Awards, named for Anthony Boucher (1911–1968), one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, have announced its 2023 nominees. The winners will be announced at the Bouchercon 2023: Murder at the Marina in San Diego, California, on September 23, 2023.

Congratulations to all the nominees!


  • Like a Sister, by Kellye Garrett (Mulholland Books)
  • The Devil Takes You Home, by Gabino Iglesias (Mulholland Books)
  • The Bullet that Missed, by Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman Books)
  • A World of Curiosities, by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
  • The Maid, by Nita Prose (Ballantine Books)
  • Secret Identity, by Alex Segura (Flatiron Books)


  • Don't Know Tough, by Eli Cranor (Soho Crime)
  • Shutter, by Ramona Emerson (Soho Crime)
  • The Bangalore Detectives Club, by Harini Nagendra (Pegasus Books)
  • Devil's Chew Toy, by Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books)
  • The Maid, by Nita Prose (Ballantine Books)


  • Bayou Book Thief, by Ellen Byron (Berkley Books)
  • Death by Bubble Tea, by Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley Books)
  • A Streetcar Named Murder, by T.G. Herren (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Scot in a Trap, by Catriona McPherson (Severn House)
  • Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking, by Raquel V. Reyes (Crooked Lane Books)


  • The Lindbergh Nanny, by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur Books)
  • In a Place of Fear, by Catriona McPherson (Mobius)
  • Anywhere You Run, by Wanda M. Morris (William Morrow)
  • Danger on the Atlantic, by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington)
  • Under a Veiled Moon, by Karen Oddden (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Lavender House, by Lev AC Rosen (Forge)


  • The Alaskan Blinde: Sex, Secrets, and the Hollywood Story that Shocked America, by James T. Bartlett (Territory Books)
  • The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators, by Martin Edwards (Collins Crime Club)
  • American Demon: Eliot Ness, and the Hunt for America's Jack the Ripper, by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)
  • Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction, edited by Diane Vallere (Sisters in Crime)
  • Scoundrel: How a Convicted Murderer Persuaded Women Who Loved Him, the Conservative Establishment, and the Courts to Set Him Free, by Sara Weinman (Ecco Press)
  • Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Crime)


  • Really Bad Things, by Kelly J. Ford (Thomas & Mercer)
  • Dead Drop, by James L'Etoile (Level Best Books)
  • The Quarry Girls, by Jess Lourey (Thomas & Mercer)
  • Hush Hush, by Gabriel Valjan (Historia)
  • In the Dark We Forget, by Sandra SG Wong (HarperCollins)


  • "Still Crazy After All These Years," by E.A. Aymar, Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon (Down & Out Books)
  • "The Impediment," by Bruce Robert Coffin, Deadly Nightshade: Best New England Crime Stories 2022 (Crime Spell Books)
  • "Beauty and the Beyotch," by Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Issue 29, Feb. 2022)
  • "The Estate Sale," by Curtis Ippolito (Vautrin Magazine, Summer 2022)
  • "C.O.D." by Gabriel Valjan, Low Down Dirty Vote Vol 3: The Color of My Vote (Berry Content Corporation)


  • Low Down Dirty Vote Vol 3: The Color of My Vote, edited by Mysti Berry (Berry Content Corporation)
  • Lawyers, Guns, and Monet: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Warren Zevon, edited by Libby Cudmore and Art Taylor (Down & Out Books)
  • Land of 10,000 Thrills: Bouchercon Anthology 2022, edited by Greg Herren (Down & Out Books)
  • Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon, edited by Josh Pachter (Down & Out Books)
  • Crime Hits Home: A Collection of Stories from Crime Fiction's Top Authors, edited by S.J. Rozan (Hanover Square Press)


  • In Myrtle Peril, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Alonquin Young Readers)
  • Daybreak on Raven Island, by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young Readers)
  • #SHEDESERVEDIT, by Greg Herrn (Bold Strokes Books)
  • The New Girl, by Jesse Q. Sutanto (Sourcebooks Fire)
  • Vanish Me, by Lee Matthew Goldberg (Wise Wolf Books)
  • Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade, by Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)



2023 Anthony Award Nominees Announced
Teri Duerr
Monday, 08 May 2023

Brian Klingborg The Magistrate

"My hope as with all the Inspector Lu books is that it informs readers, as well as entertains them."


The third book in the Inspector Lu Fei series, The Magistrate, is about bad people doing bad things. Which, if you think about it, is an apt description of every other crime novel. But as with the first two books in the series, my goal in writing The Magistrate was to shed light on bad behavior that is intrinsically linked to its setting—China.

The plot of The Magistrate concerns a group of corrupt politicians who are being targeted by a shadowy figure who calls himself the Magistrate. Inspector Lu Fei gets involved when he comes to suspect his own investigation into the sex trafficking of young women from North Korea is somehow connected to this group of crooks and their anonymous tormentor.

Certainly, political corruption is not unique to China. But it seems like every other week another Chinese government official is on trial for taking bribes. By the Chinese Communist Party’s own accounting, more than one million officials have been punished for corruption since the country’s paramount leader, Xi Jinping, initiated an anti-corruption campaign a decade ago.

Imagine that—one million officials.

That number encompasses bureaucrats from the lowest levels of local government all the way up to members of the country’s top leadership. The Chinese have a pithy nickname for this wide-ranging group of scofflaws: “Tigers and Flies.”

Some might say corruption is baked into the clay of Chinese politics. In premodern times, local government was run by officials who were responsible for taxation, law enforcement, regional security, and maintaining social order. These officials were understaffed and underfunded and given their monopoly on power and their need to carry out their duties with limited resources, it was perhaps inevitable that corruption was widespread.

After the Communist Revolution, the government was reportedly very successful in reducing corruption (although that is up for debate). But following the market reforms in the late 1970s, officials (still grossly underpaid) seemed to take Deng Xiaoping at his word when he declared “to get rich is glorious.” And in the new go-go economy, there were lots of opportunities for under the table shenanigans—bribes for greasing bureaucratic wheels, property and land development deals, redistribution of state-owned assets—the list goes on.

And while Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has stuck terror into the heart of many a dirty politician, critics say his goal is less about cleaning house—and more about getting rid of any potential rivals to power.

All of this is part of The Magistrate’s setting. But there is another, even more disturbing plotline, and that has to do with the sex trafficking of women who defect from North Korea, only to find themselves coerced into prostitution or forced marriage. These unfortunate girls and women really have nowhere to turn, because if they go to the Chinese authorities, they will be deported back to North Korea where chances are they will be sent to prison camps.

Of course, The Magistrate isn’t all doom and gloom. But my hope as with all the Inspector Lu books is that it informs readers, as well as entertains them.

Brian Klingborg has both a B.A. (University of California, Davis) and an M.A. (Harvard) in East Asian Studies and spent years living and working in Asia. He currently works in early childhood educational publishing and lives in New York City. Klingborg is the author of two nonfiction books on Shaolin kung fu; Kill Devil Falls; and the Lu Fei China mystery series (Thief of Souls and Wild Prey.)

China, Sex, and Politics in "The Magistrate"
Brian Klingborg