Wednesday, 12 January 2022

The Grand Master, Raven and Ellery Queen are the highest honors offered by Mystery Writers of America (MWA), aside from the Edgar Allan Poe awards for authors.
What makes these three awards so special—and highly respected—is they honor contributions to the genre—authors, behind the scenes people, publishers whose devotion to mysteries continue to elevate mystery fiction.

And without fail, the MWA board chooses the most deserving people.

So, time to stop burying the lead!

Author Laurie R. King has been named the 2022 Grand Master.

Librarian, blogger, and book reviewer Lesa Holstine will receive the Raven Award.

Juliet Grames, senior vice president and Associate Publisher at Soho Press, will take home the Ellery Queen Award.
Most deserving honorees, every one.

The awards will be presented during the 76th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony, which will be held April 28, 2022, at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York City.

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,” a press release stated.

Laurie R. King is the bestselling author of 30 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories, beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which was named “One of the 20th Century’s Best Crime Novels” by the IMBA.

King has received the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Lambda, Wolfe, Macavity, Creasey dagger, and Romantic Times Career Achievement awards, among other honors. She holds an honorary doctorate in theology, and is a Baker Street Irregular.  Her recent books include Castle Shade and How to Write a Mystery (co-edited with Lee Child.) She has been a member of Mystery Writers of America since 1993 and served on the NorCal and National boards.
 
King shows her droll wit when she was notified of the honor: “I am sure I’m not the only person who greeted the announcement that they had been given this extreme honor of the mystery world first with silence, then with, ‘Really?  Me??’  I mean, any list that begins with Agatha Christie and touches on such gods as Ross MacDonald and Daphne du Maurier, Ngaio Marsh and John Le Carré, Tony Hillerman and—well, you get the idea. ‘I am honored’ is an inadequate response (You are sure you counted the votes, right?) when what I mean is, ‘I am stunned, dumbfounded, gobsmacked.’ And honored too, of course—intensely, humbly, and gratefully,” according to MWA’s press release.
 
Previous Grand Masters include Charlaine Harris, Jeffery Deaver, 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.

I have a special affinity for the Raven Award—I received it in 2012 and that remains a career high. So. I am especially thrilled to share the legacy of the Raven with librarian, blogger, and book reviewer Lesa Holstine.

The Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.

Holstine has worked in public libraries since she was 16. For almost 50 years, she’s shared her love of books, especially mysteries, with library patrons, and is presently the Collections Manager at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Indiana. She is in the 18th year of writing her award-winning blog, Lesa’s Book Critiques, has been the blogger for Poisoned Pen Bookstore for over four years, and reviews mysteries for Mystery Readers’ Journal and Library Journal, where she was named Reviewer of the Year in 2018. She has received the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award and the David S. Thompson Special Service Memorial Award. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and serves on the Left Coast Crime Standing Committee.

Holstine also is an incredibly nice person and have loved speaking with her at mystery writers conferences through the years.

According to MWA press release, she also was equally stunned. “You’re kidding!” Holstine is quoted as saying, “I’m grateful to the MWA Board, and to mystery writers everywhere who have provided so much enjoyment over the years.”
 
Previous Raven Award recipients include Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime, Marilyn Stasio, The Raven Bookstore, Sisters in Crime, and Oline Cogdill.
 
The Ellery Queen Award was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.”

This year’s honoree is Juliet Grames. As senior vice president and associate publisher at Soho Press, she has curated the award-winning Soho Crime imprint since 2011. Her debut novel, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins and has been translated into 10 languages.
 
On learning she would receive the Ellery Queen Award, Grames said in the press release, "I am astonished and moved by this great honor. There is no community I could be prouder to work in: the creators in our genre are not only artists but activists and thoroughly good people. It is a great privilege to nurture and amplify their voices, and I humbly thank every author who has ever trusted me with that privilege. It is also a great privilege to work for a publisher, Bronwen Hruska, whose values—both literary and philosophical—align so perfectly with mine. This recognition belongs to them, although I am honored to be their representative."  
 
Previous Ellery Queen Award winners include Reagan Arthur, Kelley Ragland, Linda Landrigan, Neil Nyren, Charles Ardai, and Janet Hutchings.

Mystery Scene congratulations each honoree.

Photos: Laurie R. King, top, photo by Josh Edelson; Lesa Holstine, middle, photo courtesy Holstine; Juliet Grames, bottom,  photo by Ninsa Subin

 

Laurie R. King 2022 Grand Master
Oline H Cogdill
laurie-r-king-2022-grand-master
Friday, 10 December 2021

Agatha Christie never goes out of style.

I have said that several times and may have even used that same sentence.

“The Queen of Mysteries,” as she was often called, continues to entertain readers with her stories about Miss Jane Marple, Hercule Poirot and her other characters. These are still in print, fodder for numerous TV series, films and short story collections; every few years a new biography comes along.

And she’s also given authors ideas for other novels based on Christie, who died in 1976 at age 85.

For example, Lori Rader-Day gave readers a new view of Dame Christie with her intriguing novel Death at Greenway, an original plot that centered on a little-known fact of the author’s life. During WWII, Christie’s Devon estate Greenway housed 10 children whose parents sent them to the countryside to, hopefully, be safe as London was being bombed by the Germans.

The latest in the Christie reboot is The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont (St. Martin’s Press), which comes out in February 2022.

The Christie Affair recounts the 11-day disappearance of Agatha Christie through the perspective of her husband's mistress, Nan O’Dea, a fictionalized version of his real-life lover Nancy Neele.

Set in London during 1925, The Christie Affair revolves around the betrayal that hit the author hard, prompting her disappearance.

The Christie Affair also will be the inspiration for a TV series, as announced by Miramax TV. British writer Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls, Death Comes to Pemberley) is set to write the adaptation.

The television series doesn't have a premiere date yet.

In a story about the TV series, Deadline.com posted “Agatha and Nan transform from competitors to unlikely allies while the world around them remains cloaked in the dark, unable to grasp the complexities of each woman’s relationship to her past and her female identity. Set mostly in the beautiful and historic British spa town of Harrogate, The Christie Affair is part sweeping love story– but not the one you expect — part exploration of the bonds of womanhood and part murder mystery to rival one of Christie’s own, now very famous stories.”

Whenever it airs, the TV series has to be better than the abysmal 1979 movie Agatha directed by Michael Apted. The movie starred Vanessa Redgrave as Christie with Timothy Dalton as her husband Archie.

I still remember how this film made Dame Christie seem boring.

The film Christie began with Agatha Christie giving an engraved silver cup for her husband Archie, who was unappreciative. According to several reviews that recap the plot, the couple walk to a publicity event for her new novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. On the scene is an American reporter Wally Stanton (Dustin Hoffman). The next morning, Archie demands a divorce, saying he loves his secretary.

That night, Christie gets into an automobile accident.

The police discover her wrecked car, prompting press coverage. It’s learned that Christie left a letter for her secretary, prompting speculation of suicide.

Stanton follows a lead that takes him to a hotel in Harrogate where the author is checking in.

From there, the film just goes down hill.

But I have high hopes for the TV series based on The Christie Affair, as well as the novel that sounds terrific.





The Disapearance of Agatha Christie
Oline H Cogdill
the-disappearance-of-agatha-christie
Tuesday, 07 December 2021

Looking for a few gifts so good they're practically criminal? Well, look no further. We've compiled a few Mystery Scene favorites perfect for stuffing those stockings.

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be CrossedJust perfect for slipping easily into someone’s stocking, and an ideal time killer for that interminable wait between the gift orgy and the arrival of the blessed bird, is Scandinavian Grand Master Helene Tursten’s An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed ($14.99, Soho Crime), the follow-up to her equally adorable An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good from a few years ago. Once again, it follows the charming homicidal problem-solving of cranky elderly Maud, a retired Swedish schoolteacher with absolutely no qualms about bumping off people who get in her way, this time journeying to Africa on a long-anticipated holiday. A pretty little hardcover decorated with seasonal and floral graphic embellishments that reek of innocence, it’s in reality a nifty how-to guide to homicide, with a tantalizing list of ways to set the world right (i.e., the way you want it), concluded with a couple of recipes for ginger snaps (in both “naughty” and “nice” versions). See? Perfect for the holidays!

Sherlcok Holmes SocksThe game is afoot when your Holmie toes the line with these always fashionable Sherlock Socks ($12; outofprint.com). Discreetly stylish, tastefully rendered as a series of tiny brown silhouettes of the Great Detective himself on a field of tan with reinforced toes and heels, they’re a sturdy blend of cotton, polyester, and spandex available in small or large sizes. As an added bonus, a portion of all proceeds go to funding literacy programs and book donations to communities in need.

Murder on the Orange Express Lip BalmKillers come and go and bad puns can mortally wound, but chapped lips are pure murder, especially for those in wintry climes. So pucker up and try some Murder on the Orange Express Lip Balm ($9; literarylipbalms.com). Billed as a seductive mélange of “alluring florals and sweet citrus,” this handmade, gently moisturizing balm made with organic shea butter, botanical extract, and pure essential oils hints at sophisticated intrigue with its ooh-la-la combination of sweet orange, mandarin, clary sage, rose geranium, and ylang ylang. And if it doesn’t conjure up sweet memories of the mysterious Orient Express that has influenced so many thriller writers, most famously Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming, then you’re just not trying hard enough. It comes in a classy recyclable tin containing a generous 10 ml of balm—about twice as much as those tiny ocean-clogging plastic tubes.

Another day, another murder. But with gun sales soaring and everybody mad at each other, it’s sometimes hard to keep track, which is why the 2022 edition of A Year of True Crime Page-a-Day Desk Calendar ($15.99; Workman Publishing) is thumbs-up for the murderino in your midst. Why worry about tomorrow’s headlines when you can kick off your shoes, double check the alarm system, and relax at home, poring over the bloody past? This handy-dandy desk calendar offers a full year of lovingly detailed homicidal highlights perfect for the Dateline-addicted, featuring darkly humorous takes on everything from murders dark and gory to bizarro headlines (“Headless Body Found in Topless Bar”!). Loaded with trivia, suggested crime documentaries, words of wisdom from serial killers and mystery authors, and career advice for would-be criminals, this is the ideal gift for those who think a Lester Holt tattoo is perfectly normal.

Jinkies! There’s always this cute but-to-the-point I Heart Mysteries Button ($2.99; RainbowPunchPress), featuring the brains of Mystery Incorporated herself, the one and only Velma Dinkley, originator of geek chic, a book and a message that says it all.

 

 

Gamache Coffee MugDespite my usual grinchiness and the sad admission that the world we all live in definitely needs some work done, I continue to believe, and finish off with something from the infinitely better world of my homie Louise Penny’s beloved Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The tiny Livres Lac-Brome/Brome Lake Bookstore (bromelakebooks.ca) in Knowlton, Quebec (the real-life Trois Pins/Three Pines), offers the usual beaucoup of author merchandise, including “What the Duck” Greeting Cards ($15), Three Pines T-shirts ($30), a “Mélange Gamache” Coffee Blend ($7), and more. But to me, the most perfect gift is a simple white ceramic 12-ounce “Goodness Exists” Coffee Mug ($20), perfect for café-au-lait, tea, or Scotch, adorned on one side with the Three Pines logo and on the other with the author’s (and Armand’s) personal credo, cribbed from a poem by W.H. Auden: “Goodness exists.”

 

Excerpted from the "Mystery Scene 2021 Gift Guide" in the Winter 2021 Issue #170 print edition.

2021 Mystery Scene Gift Guide Stocking Stuffers Edition
Kevin Burton Smith
2021-mystery-scene-gift-guide-stocking-stuffers-edition