Thursday, 08 June 2023

2023 Thriller Awards

The International Thriller Writers (ITW) announced the winners for the 2023 Thriller Awards at ThrillerFest XVIII on Saturday, June 3, 2023 at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York City. Mystery Scene extends congratulations to all the award winners and their fellow nominees.

A full list of all 2023 nominees can be found here.

Best Hardcover Novel

Sundial, by Catriona Ward (Macmillan)

Best Audiobook

Things We Do in the Dark, by Jennifer Hillier, narrated by Carla Vega (Macmillan Audio)

Best First Novel

The Resemblance, by Lauren Nossett (Flatiron Books)

Best Paperback Original Novel

The Housemaid, by Freida McFadden (Grand Central)

Best Short Story

"Stockholm," by Catherine Steadman (Amazon Original Stories)

Best Young Adult Novel

Daughter, by Kate McLaughlin (Wednesday Books)

Best Ebook Original Novel

The Couple at Causeway Cottage, by Diane Jeffrey (HarperCollins)

ThrillerMaster Lifetime Achievement Award 

Charlaine Harris and Walter Mosley

Silver Bullet Award

Michael Connelly

Thriller Legend Award

Minotaur Books

2023 ITW Thriller Award Winners Announced
Mystery Scene
Monday, 05 June 2023

Photo: Beverly Brooks


I, Eliza Jane Brazier, am a book addict.

Here are my confessions:

1. I have always expected my life to play out like a book, and am continually disappointed.

2. In elementary school I would bring enormous copies of classic books to read during class breaks: Little Women and Anne of Green Gables.

3. Growing up, I would go to the library and choose dozens of books which I would stack neatly and read one after the other, sitting on top of a dresser next to a lamp with no shade.

4. I was transported to a place where things make sense, where life had symmetry, where people were comprehensible and the ending always felt like an ending.

5. In college I would hide out in the library until closing. I would choose a (fairly pretentious) author and read every book they had ever written: Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Hemingway, Dante.

6. Then I would go to bookstores and read young adult authors for hours: Cecily Von Ziegesar, Libba Bray.

7. My voice would get so papery that I couldn’t speak.

8. I started writing my own stories, because the only cure for reading is writing.

9. Sometimes I would stop reading, and my life would seem empty and pointless…

10. …and then I would pick up the right book, and my life would be filled with color again.

11. Some books would make me feel like I, too, could be an author…

12. …and some would make me feel like I would never be that good.

13. Inside books, I would find myself. I would read my thoughts before I had the words to conjure them.

14. I would change my mind.

15. I would change myself.

16. I would read and write myself into a whole new life. I, Eliza Jane Brazier, am a book addict, living one book at a time.

Eliza Jane Brazier is an author, screenwriter, and journalist. Eliza entered the horse world at the age of 5 and has worked as a rider, horse trainer, and riding instructor. She currently lives in California with her horse and dogs, where she is developing her books for television.

Confessions of a Book Addict
Eliza Jane Brazier
Friday, 02 June 2023

A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe
by Mark Dawidziak
St. Martin’s Press, February 2023, $28.99

The ultimate mystery man, Edgar Allan Poe, gets the investigative treatment from Mark Dawidziak, whose many books include examinations of pop culture faves Columbo and the Night Stalker. Also a Mark Twain scholar, and former TV-radio-theater critic, Dawidziak spoke to dozens of sources, and mined multitudinous bios, reference works, and more to reveal truths behind myths, discrepancies, and outright fallacies.

A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe begins with the literary icon’s strange passing in Baltimore—a city he wasn’t intending to visit—at age 40 in 1849. Found wearing another man’s clothes, not long after telling a friend “I am full of dark forebodings,” Poe reportedly added to the intrigue by calling out a name that no one recognized in his final hours.

Dawidziak examines the many theories of what he calls “one of the great literary stage exits of all time,” making compelling arguments for tuberculosis (consumption) as cause of death, and then, in chapters that alternate between the end times and the beginnings, traces Poe’s rise, struggles, artistry and that confounding demise.

It didn’t help Poe’s eventual reputation that his first obituary, penned by a jealous colleague, was so mean that the French poet-critic Charles Baudelaire responded by asking, “Does there not exist in America an ordinance to keep dogs out of cemeteries?”

Among other things, the nasty obit depicted Poe as a drug addict—a moniker that didn’t fit, though Poe certainly had problems with alcohol. He also frequently tiffed with editors and associates, was given to mood swings, and played the victim among friends and family. What’s forgotten, argues the author, is that Poe—in the years before he turned “pale and haggard”—was a hardy athlete. He became enamored with poetry during childhood. He could be charming. He played the flute at parties, and with his wife, Virginia, performed duets. His beloved mother-in-law, who was also his aunt, called him “Eddy.” He was a cat lover.

As famed horror expert Robert Bloch (Psycho) once said, “People create their own images of horror writers, and these images often crowd out realities.”

The “take” on Poe is certainly enhanced by his visage in daguerreotypes; he seems the epitome of the tortured artist. Was that image of his own making? He was known to embellish his biography, to tweak certain facts (up to and including his birth date, making himself appear younger than he was!). When, at 27, he married his 13-year-old cousin, he craftily claimed she was 21.

This book deftly tracks Poe’s death, life, and times—and, in spite of all the adversity he faced, his blazing artistry. And of course, it also probes and proffers all that mystery that has engulfed his tale. An early Poe biographer once noted, “in a Poe story, nothing ever stays buried.” A Mystery of Mysteries does a fine job of unearthing the reason for all the curiosity and acclaim.

Southern California native Pat H. Broeske is a longtime reviewer for Mystery Scene. As a mystery devotee, and a former film industry journalist, she often writes about the intersection of Hollywood & crime, including film noir.   

Review: "A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe" by Mark Dawidziak
Pat H. Broeske