Thursday, 11 March 2021

There’s an art heist going around the country—and insightful sleuths are needed to solve the crime.

The Art Heist Experience is an interactive true-crime show inspired by the theft of 13 works of art worth $500 million from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. During the play, masked audience groups walk around the crime scene, interviewing “suspects,” then come the solution. Plenty of evidence and clues are scattered about, and, of course, a number of red herrings.

Art Heist Experience combines two of my favorite things—mysteries and live theater. And for those of us who desperately miss live theater, this is a start to getting back to it. As well as the theatrical experiences, the productions also are planned with safety in mind. Masks are required, the productions are, for the most part, outside and the new "detectives" are arranged in small groups of 10 or less.

The real crime behind Art Heist Experience occurred during the early morning of March 18, 1990, when two men posing as police officers entered Boston’s Isabella Gardner Museum. They tied up the guards and during the next 81 minutes pulled off one of the most daring thefts in history. The stolen 13 pieces of art valued at $500 million have never been recovered, nor have arrests ever have been made.

Police, FBI, Interpol, art investigators and crime enthusiasts from all over the world have researched for decades and failed to solve this brazen and unusual puzzle, according to news reports.

While interactive productions often look like a free-for-all, these generally are well calibrated. During the 90-minute event, “sleuths” take a journey through the streets of the various cities to meet the characters, hear their stories and ask questions—also known as interrogating—to “zero in on the criminal mastermind,” according to a press release.

Each group will come up with the best theory of who did the crime, and what really happened. The productions are staggered to begin every half hour so throngs of detectives are not tripping over each other.

During Art Heist Experience, each production has a coordinator who will keep the action going smoothly as well as taking notes on those actors who receive the most “guilty” votes.

As a bonus for theater goers, each production is cast locally. This is not a national tour. At the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, the cast includes Hester Kamin, Amy Lee Gonzalez, Randall Swinton, Jesse Castellanos, Daniel Llaca, Stephanie Manner, Jeremy Quinn and Ernesto Gonzalez.

Art Heist Experience is being produced around the country, ending a run in Toronto during May. It has had a successful run in each city it has played, including a sold-out run during the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

The production was created by Justin Sudds of Right Angle Entertainment, and co-written and co-directed by TJ Dawe and Ming Hudson. Dawe also is developing another interactive show based on the board game Clue.

Art Heist Experience will play the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, from March 16 through April 1-4; another production will play at the Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, from March 16 through April 4; performances begin every half-hour on a varying schedule, so check websites for exact times; tickets start at $43 at the Arsht Center, $39.50 to $44.50 at the Broward Center; visit or call 305-949-6722 for Miami tickets; visit or call 954-462-0222 for Fort Lauderdale tickets.

Art Heist Experience also will play Houston beginning March 19; Dallas March 20; West Palm Beach April 27; Boston May 4; Fayetteville May 4 and Toronto May 18. Future dates are in the works.

Photos were taken at various locations on Granville Island during the Vancouver production. Photographs by Diane Smithers

Art Heist Mixes Mystery and Theater
Oline H Cogdill
Saturday, 06 February 2021

I am always looking for those little Easter eggs that show up in novels in which authors reference another author’s characters and novels.

I’ve noticed several of these little Easter eggs popping up on TV, as well.

So here’s a few I have noticed. Let us know if you know of others.

The Amazon Prime Video series Bosch, based on Michael Connelly’s novels, is a treasure trove. The cast is spot on, starting with Titus Welliver, who plays LAPD detective Harry Bosch, as well as Jamie Hector as  Jerry Edgar; Amy Aquino  Lt. Grace Billets; Lance Reddick as Irvin Irving and Madison Lintz as Maddie Bosch.

Here's the Mystery Scene review when Bosch first debuted.

In season 5, episode 5 of Bosch, the court stenographer reads Alafair Burke’s novel The Ex during her lunch break. Excellent product placement.  (photo 1)

Michael Connelly also makes a couple of cameos in the Bosch series.

Here he is at the bar, at the left, while Titus Welliver, far right, who plays Harry Bosch, talks with a suspect. I don’t remember the season or the episode but am sure our astute readers will. (photo 2)

In the last scene in Season 6, Connelly makes an appearance in the squad room, walking by a detective who says “Hi, Michael.” (photo 3)

I am sure there are other Connelly sightings in Bosch, readers, let us know.

Shooting recently wrapped up the seventh and final season of Bosch, which has been a hit for Amazon Prime.

The series keeps the spirit of the novels and may be one of the best novel to screen treatments ever. I will miss Bosch. I would binge each season and may have to start from the beginning again to get my fix.

But Connelly’s characters will continue on TV as a series based on his Lincoln Lawyer novels has been picked up by Netflix.

The Lincoln Lawyer series will star Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mickey Haller, the lawyer who runs his law practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. 

Readers know that Mickey and Harry are half brothers. But due to contracts, it is doubtful that the character of Harry Bosch will make an appearance. 

And we hope to see more Connelly cameos and references to other authors’ novels in the Lincoln Lawyer series.

Author Gary Phillips, whose latest novel is Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem, spotted a reading of the short story collection Orange County Noir in an episode of the TV series Modern Family. Here’s the character Mitchell Pritchett, played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, engrossed in the collection that was edited by Phillips and includes a forward by T. Jefferson Parker.

Authors who contributed to the series include Gordon McAlpine, Susan Straight, Robert S. Levinson, Rob Roberge, Nathan Walpow, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Dan Duling, Mary Castillo, Lawrence Maddox, Dick Lochte, Robert Ward, Gary Phillips, Martin J. Smith, and Patricia McFall. (photo 4)

While I am sure this skit on Saturday Night Live was funny, one reader was more interested in the bookcase behind the actors. Some of the books are by John Stanford, Tom Clancy and more. Let us know if there are other titles you recognize. (photo 5)

Let us know if you have spotted other Easter eggs on TV.

Photos One, Two and Three are screenshots from Bosch on Amazon Prime; photo four is a screenshot from Modern Family on ABC; photo five a screenshot from Saturday Night Live on NBC.

Author TV Cameos
Oline H Cogdill
Saturday, 30 January 2021

It should come as no surprise to mystery readers that Sisters in Crime would be the first to launch an award geared toward LGBTQIA+ writers.

The organization has always been at the forefront in supporting diversity in publishing. Sisters in Crime’s highly respected Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award has helped launch the careers of several deserving authors since the award has been given annually since 2014.

Registration is now open for its inaugural Pride Award for Emerging LGBTQIA+ Crime Writers.

A $2,000 grant will be awarded to an up-and-coming writer who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. I would also hope that publishers would pay attention to the winners of this award.

Candidates must apply by March 15, 2021.

The winner will be announced in April, 2021.

The award is being established as the legacy project of former Sisters in Crime president Sherry Harris.

“Sisters in Crime was founded more than 30 years ago as an advocacy group for women crime writers. When considering my legacy project, I knew I wanted to establish a way for us to build on our traditions of expanding inclusiveness in crime fiction publishing and helping to lift up voices that need to be heard,” explained Harris in a press release.
The grant, funded for 2021 by an anonymous donor, is intended for a crime writer beginning their career and will support activities related to career development including workshops, seminars, conferences, retreats, online courses, and research activities required for completion of his, her, or their work.

The winner and five runners-up will also be awarded a one-year Sisters in Crime membership and each will receive a critique from an established Sisters in Crime member.
The judges for the inaugural Pride award are Sisters in Crimes members John Copenhaver, Cheryl Head, and Kristen Lepionka, who have all written award-winning LGBTQIA+ crime fiction.

 “We are thrilled to have this exceptional group of authors to judge our first-ever contest,” said Grants and Award Liaison V.M. (Valerie) Burns in the same press release. “We see this as an opportunity to inspire the future of crime fiction by connecting emerging LGBTQIA+ writers with influential authors of today.”
Copenhaver added: “Representation for queer authors is key within the mystery writing community. Not too many years ago, gay and lesbian mysteries weren’t even shelved in the mystery section of chain bookstores, but in the ‘Gay and Lesbian section,’ usually at the back of the store. The award offers individual support for new voices in queer mystery and is a symbolic gesture, reminding the broader reading and writing community of the validity of our perspective and our ability to tell great crime stories.”
Sisters in Crime recognizes that not all LGBTQIA+ community members can be out, and each individual’s privacy is valued. Winners and any runners-up who wish to maintain their anonymity may do so, or they may choose to select a pen name for announcement.
Sisters in Crime (SinC) was founded in 1986 to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. Today, the organization boasts 4,200 members and more than 60 chapters worldwide

In addition to the annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. Sisters in Crime also offers other scholarships; grants for academic research into the roles of women and underserved voices in crime fiction; cash awards to libraries and bookstores; and surveys and monitoring projects which determine visibility and representation of women and diverse voices in the genre and across the marketplace.
Complete guidelines and the application can be found at

Sisters in Crime Launches Pride Award
Oline H. Cogdill