Death Line
Betty Webb

I’ll admit it, I’m a total sucker for Maureen Carter’s tough and not always admirable British detective, Bev Morriss. In Death Line, Bev is still recovering from the knife attack that almost killed her, but did manage to kill her unborn twins. The aftermath of the attack also damaged the career of Bill Byford, her former boss, to the extent that he’s being pressured to resign from the force. Bev doesn’t always handle stress well, so when the mean streets of Birmingham, England, see an increase in child abuse cases, she begins to unravel. Then 10-year-old Josh Banks—child of a drunken prostitute—is abducted.

When his body is found, Bev suspects the case has a connection to the decades-old kidnap and murder of 10-year-old Scott Myers, and against the warnings of her higher-ups, begins working the case. She’s not the only detective haunted by the child killings. Each of the hardnosed coppers on her squad has nightmares about tiny corpses, and their memories haunt each of them in different ways, often making them rage against each other.

Bev is an intriguing character—foul-tempered, foul-mouthed, and so vicious that the other cops have to pull her off mouthy suspects. But Bev can also be tender, too, especially with crime victims, and there are enough crime victims on her Birmingham beat that she gets plenty of practice. In lesser hands, Bev would be unlikable, but the brilliance of Carter’s writing keeps us sympathetic towards this damaged copper, even when she’s speeding down the road to self-destruction.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-22 02:13:30

I’ll admit it, I’m a total sucker for Maureen Carter’s tough and not always admirable British detective, Bev Morriss. In Death Line, Bev is still recovering from the knife attack that almost killed her, but did manage to kill her unborn twins. The aftermath of the attack also damaged the career of Bill Byford, her former boss, to the extent that he’s being pressured to resign from the force. Bev doesn’t always handle stress well, so when the mean streets of Birmingham, England, see an increase in child abuse cases, she begins to unravel. Then 10-year-old Josh Banks—child of a drunken prostitute—is abducted.

When his body is found, Bev suspects the case has a connection to the decades-old kidnap and murder of 10-year-old Scott Myers, and against the warnings of her higher-ups, begins working the case. She’s not the only detective haunted by the child killings. Each of the hardnosed coppers on her squad has nightmares about tiny corpses, and their memories haunt each of them in different ways, often making them rage against each other.

Bev is an intriguing character—foul-tempered, foul-mouthed, and so vicious that the other cops have to pull her off mouthy suspects. But Bev can also be tender, too, especially with crime victims, and there are enough crime victims on her Birmingham beat that she gets plenty of practice. In lesser hands, Bev would be unlikable, but the brilliance of Carter’s writing keeps us sympathetic towards this damaged copper, even when she’s speeding down the road to self-destruction.

Full Mortality
Betty Webb

The gritty, exciting Full Mortality by Sasscer Hill is set on Maryland race tracks, where protagonist Nikki Latrelle is a female jockey attempting to survive in a man’s world. And a rough world it is, too. Nikki’s world is as dirty as it is glamorous, packed with physical violence, betting scams, and insurance rip-offs, where horses and humans often pay the ultimate price. Simply because of her gender, the gutsy Nikki is so loathed by some male jockeys that one engineers an on-track accident that kills her horse and injures her.

When the jockey is later found murdered, Nikki becomes the main suspect and is warned off the track, which dries up her income. Now she can’t even make her rent, let alone pay the board bill for the horse she rescued from a slaughterhouse. To keep body and soul together, she takes a job at another stable, only to find herself surrounded by drug addicts and felons, and other horses headed to the glue factory. Determined to win back her place at her home track, she starts digging into the jockey’s death. In between post calls and payouts, we learn about the blood beneath the glitter and the hand-to-mouth existence that most jockeys endure. Mortality is a thrilling, eye-opening read written by a former steeplechase jockey who now breeds racehorses. Hill knows what she’s writing about. A warning for animal lovers: two horses are dead by page 19, and the ultimate fate of several others looks grim.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-22 02:17:28

The gritty, exciting Full Mortality by Sasscer Hill is set on Maryland race tracks, where protagonist Nikki Latrelle is a female jockey attempting to survive in a man’s world. And a rough world it is, too. Nikki’s world is as dirty as it is glamorous, packed with physical violence, betting scams, and insurance rip-offs, where horses and humans often pay the ultimate price. Simply because of her gender, the gutsy Nikki is so loathed by some male jockeys that one engineers an on-track accident that kills her horse and injures her.

When the jockey is later found murdered, Nikki becomes the main suspect and is warned off the track, which dries up her income. Now she can’t even make her rent, let alone pay the board bill for the horse she rescued from a slaughterhouse. To keep body and soul together, she takes a job at another stable, only to find herself surrounded by drug addicts and felons, and other horses headed to the glue factory. Determined to win back her place at her home track, she starts digging into the jockey’s death. In between post calls and payouts, we learn about the blood beneath the glitter and the hand-to-mouth existence that most jockeys endure. Mortality is a thrilling, eye-opening read written by a former steeplechase jockey who now breeds racehorses. Hill knows what she’s writing about. A warning for animal lovers: two horses are dead by page 19, and the ultimate fate of several others looks grim.

Bitter Legacy
Betty Webb

There are a whole lot of deaths in Bitter Legacy by H. Terrell Griffin, but since most of the victims are hired killers who deserve what they get, we don’t shed many tears. The cause of all this carnage is Matt Royal, an ex-Green Beret and retired attorney who never met a knife, firearm, or explosive he didn’t like. Everyone in Florida’s Longboat Key knows it’s not smart to mess with Matt, but someone’s always dumb enough to try.

What keeps Bitter Legacy from being just another shoot ’em-up is its intriguing back story—based on fact—centered around the Indian Removal Act of 1830, when runaway slaves from nearby plantations joined up with the Seminole Indians hiding out in the swamps. Abraham Osceola, who is descended from one of those Black Seminoles, believes he has come into information that would make his people rich, but he’s rendered comatose by an unknown attacker before he can give the proof to Royal. Then the mayhem begins. While Osceola lies mute in his hospital bed, a series of bad guys employed by the mysterious “Hacker” do their best to take Royal out. Killers in cars, kayaks, speedboats, and even on foot converge on Longboat Key with knives, guns, rocket launchers, and grenades. Gristle, guts, and brains spatter everywhere, and hoo boy, is it fun!

Action-addicts couldn’t ask for more thrills than Bitter Legacy offers, but the book isn’t all blood and gore. In between the spatter-fests, we are treated to a hilarious attempted kidnaping, plenty of wisecracks, and the introduction of Detective Jennifer Diane Duncan, an irritable black belt with an itchy trigger finger. Like Royal himself, she’s a real winner, an intriguing female character who never descends into stereotype.

Bitter Legacy follows other Matt Royal adventures (the excellent Murder Key and Blood Island among them), and Duncan makes a welcome addition to the series. Every bit as tough (and funny) as Matt and his cronies, she provides a welcome counterpart to all that manly-man swagger.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-22 02:20:54

There are a whole lot of deaths in Bitter Legacy by H. Terrell Griffin, but since most of the victims are hired killers who deserve what they get, we don’t shed many tears. The cause of all this carnage is Matt Royal, an ex-Green Beret and retired attorney who never met a knife, firearm, or explosive he didn’t like. Everyone in Florida’s Longboat Key knows it’s not smart to mess with Matt, but someone’s always dumb enough to try.

What keeps Bitter Legacy from being just another shoot ’em-up is its intriguing back story—based on fact—centered around the Indian Removal Act of 1830, when runaway slaves from nearby plantations joined up with the Seminole Indians hiding out in the swamps. Abraham Osceola, who is descended from one of those Black Seminoles, believes he has come into information that would make his people rich, but he’s rendered comatose by an unknown attacker before he can give the proof to Royal. Then the mayhem begins. While Osceola lies mute in his hospital bed, a series of bad guys employed by the mysterious “Hacker” do their best to take Royal out. Killers in cars, kayaks, speedboats, and even on foot converge on Longboat Key with knives, guns, rocket launchers, and grenades. Gristle, guts, and brains spatter everywhere, and hoo boy, is it fun!

Action-addicts couldn’t ask for more thrills than Bitter Legacy offers, but the book isn’t all blood and gore. In between the spatter-fests, we are treated to a hilarious attempted kidnaping, plenty of wisecracks, and the introduction of Detective Jennifer Diane Duncan, an irritable black belt with an itchy trigger finger. Like Royal himself, she’s a real winner, an intriguing female character who never descends into stereotype.

Bitter Legacy follows other Matt Royal adventures (the excellent Murder Key and Blood Island among them), and Duncan makes a welcome addition to the series. Every bit as tough (and funny) as Matt and his cronies, she provides a welcome counterpart to all that manly-man swagger.

Missing Mabel
Betty Webb

Nancy Mehl’s delightful Missing Mabel is a Christian mystery set in semi-rural Eden, Kansas, featuring Hilde Higgins, hairdresser-to-the-dead at Druther’s Funeral Home. It’s Hilde’s job to make the dearly departed look good for their memorial service, and she does it with love and compassion, even praying over the departed before she starts the comb-out. Ordinarily Hilde enjoys her work, but one day a client named Mabel Winnemaker is switched for a look-alike, and Hilde is ordered to style the hair of the stranger who is about to be buried under Mabel’s name. When Hilde points out the corpse discrepancy, she’s not only fired, but framed for theft, thus getting her blackballed at other area funeral homes. Determined to clear her name, she sets out to find the missing Mabel.

This heart-warming mystery might surprise readers who are under the impression that spirituality-based mysteries are populated by self-righteous holy rollers with no psychological complexity. Hilde puts the lie to that. She’s an adorable eccentric, with maroon-and-black hair, a punkish wardrobe, and a weird weakness for Spam casseroles (the author provides several of Hilde’s more tasty recipes). She’s feisty enough to have a sassy mouth, but devout enough to get a case of the guilts when she doesn’t always practice that pesky “love thy neighbor” part of Scripture.

Like all good mysteries, the solution to the body-switching provides us with a fine “Ah, ha!” moment, but it’s Hilde’s goofily-good character that kept me grinning as I turned the pages. If you’ve momentarily OD’ed on blood and gore and serial killers, Hilde is the perfect anecdote. As for myself, I can’t wait for the girl’s next funeral home adventure.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-22 02:26:54

Nancy Mehl’s delightful Missing Mabel is a Christian mystery set in semi-rural Eden, Kansas, featuring Hilde Higgins, hairdresser-to-the-dead at Druther’s Funeral Home. It’s Hilde’s job to make the dearly departed look good for their memorial service, and she does it with love and compassion, even praying over the departed before she starts the comb-out. Ordinarily Hilde enjoys her work, but one day a client named Mabel Winnemaker is switched for a look-alike, and Hilde is ordered to style the hair of the stranger who is about to be buried under Mabel’s name. When Hilde points out the corpse discrepancy, she’s not only fired, but framed for theft, thus getting her blackballed at other area funeral homes. Determined to clear her name, she sets out to find the missing Mabel.

This heart-warming mystery might surprise readers who are under the impression that spirituality-based mysteries are populated by self-righteous holy rollers with no psychological complexity. Hilde puts the lie to that. She’s an adorable eccentric, with maroon-and-black hair, a punkish wardrobe, and a weird weakness for Spam casseroles (the author provides several of Hilde’s more tasty recipes). She’s feisty enough to have a sassy mouth, but devout enough to get a case of the guilts when she doesn’t always practice that pesky “love thy neighbor” part of Scripture.

Like all good mysteries, the solution to the body-switching provides us with a fine “Ah, ha!” moment, but it’s Hilde’s goofily-good character that kept me grinning as I turned the pages. If you’ve momentarily OD’ed on blood and gore and serial killers, Hilde is the perfect anecdote. As for myself, I can’t wait for the girl’s next funeral home adventure.

Missing Characters
Oline Cogdill

titleDuring a recent trip to San Diego to visit a longtime friend, the conversation turned, as it always does, to the people we went to high school with and those people who live in our hometown in Missouri.

We reminisced about mutual friends and acquaintances and about people who are no longer a part of our lives. Some of whom we miss and some of whom we could care less about.

So this seems like a perfect time to reminisce about characters. With so many mysteries published each year, it is easy to forget about a favorite character when they are missing for a year or two. But when an author brings back that hero or heroine after a few years absence, we instantly remember how much enjoyment those stories brought us.

Series characters become a part of our lives. We can't wait to read the next installment of their adventures and many of use wish authors would write faster.

titleSo it was like getting out old photos and years of yearbooks when three authors recently brought back their characters after several years of hiatus.

Steve Hamilton returns to his reluctant private investigator Alex McKnight in Misery Bay. The last time Steve Hamilton published an Alex McKnight novel was A Stolen Season in 2006, but it's not as if Hamilton has been idle. His 2010 novel The Lock Artist won the Edgar for best novel this year.

Five years is a long time, but Hamilton quickly reestablishes the complex Alex in Misery Bay's enthralling plot.

Julia Spencer-Fleming last delved into the life of the Rev. Clare Fergusson in 2008’s I Shall Not Want. It's a different—but no less compelling—Claire who returns in the newly published One Was a Soldier.

Just back from the 18 months she spent flying helicopters in Iraq, Claire has returned with several bad habits and doubts about herself and even her calling as a minister.

Claire's flaws are realistically explored in One Was a Soldier and make readers connect with her even more.

titleDarryl Wimberley smoothly reintroduces Barrett “Bear” Raines, a detective with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Devil’s Slew.

The last time Bear fought crime was in 2007’s Pepperfish Keys. In Devil's Slew, Wimberley again shows how racism seeps into an investigation as Bear, an African-American, tries to find out why a returning veteran snapped.

Each of these novels has freshness as if we are reading these characters for the first time. But I am hoping these characters won't be so long in returning.

Xav ID 577
2011-06-26 10:03:29

titleDuring a recent trip to San Diego to visit a longtime friend, the conversation turned, as it always does, to the people we went to high school with and those people who live in our hometown in Missouri.

We reminisced about mutual friends and acquaintances and about people who are no longer a part of our lives. Some of whom we miss and some of whom we could care less about.

So this seems like a perfect time to reminisce about characters. With so many mysteries published each year, it is easy to forget about a favorite character when they are missing for a year or two. But when an author brings back that hero or heroine after a few years absence, we instantly remember how much enjoyment those stories brought us.

Series characters become a part of our lives. We can't wait to read the next installment of their adventures and many of use wish authors would write faster.

titleSo it was like getting out old photos and years of yearbooks when three authors recently brought back their characters after several years of hiatus.

Steve Hamilton returns to his reluctant private investigator Alex McKnight in Misery Bay. The last time Steve Hamilton published an Alex McKnight novel was A Stolen Season in 2006, but it's not as if Hamilton has been idle. His 2010 novel The Lock Artist won the Edgar for best novel this year.

Five years is a long time, but Hamilton quickly reestablishes the complex Alex in Misery Bay's enthralling plot.

Julia Spencer-Fleming last delved into the life of the Rev. Clare Fergusson in 2008’s I Shall Not Want. It's a different—but no less compelling—Claire who returns in the newly published One Was a Soldier.

Just back from the 18 months she spent flying helicopters in Iraq, Claire has returned with several bad habits and doubts about herself and even her calling as a minister.

Claire's flaws are realistically explored in One Was a Soldier and make readers connect with her even more.

titleDarryl Wimberley smoothly reintroduces Barrett “Bear” Raines, a detective with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Devil’s Slew.

The last time Bear fought crime was in 2007’s Pepperfish Keys. In Devil's Slew, Wimberley again shows how racism seeps into an investigation as Bear, an African-American, tries to find out why a returning veteran snapped.

Each of these novels has freshness as if we are reading these characters for the first time. But I am hoping these characters won't be so long in returning.

Bertram Fletcher Robinson: a Footnote to the Hound of the Baskervilles
Jon L. Breen

Though Robinson (1870-1907) was a talented journalist, a sometime collaborator of P.G. Wodehouse, and a capable writer of mystery fiction, including the Queen’s Quorum collection The Chronicles of Addington Peace (1905), he is best remembered as the friend credited by Conan Doyle with providing the “account of a West-Country legend” that inspired The Hound of the Baskervilles. Though possibly a worthwhile item for Sherlockians and mystery scholars, the book’s main text is more antiquarianism than true biography, an accumulation of raw data, including extraneous details about Robinson’s family and associates and some other matters of doubtful relevance. Most interesting is the discussion of Robinson’s contribution to The Hound, which some claimed unconvincingly was greater than Doyle’s note suggests. Robinson merely identified himself as “the assistant plot producer.”

All of the books and articles known to have been written by Robinson are listed in 29 pages of primary bibliography, followed by 11 more of secondary bibliography. (The bibliography also appears in the same publisher’s 2009 collection of Robinson’s short stories Aside Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales, compiled by Spiring.)

Teri Duerr
2011-04-25 23:58:27

Though Robinson (1870-1907) was a talented journalist, a sometime collaborator of P.G. Wodehouse, and a capable writer of mystery fiction, including the Queen’s Quorum collection The Chronicles of Addington Peace (1905), he is best remembered as the friend credited by Conan Doyle with providing the “account of a West-Country legend” that inspired The Hound of the Baskervilles. Though possibly a worthwhile item for Sherlockians and mystery scholars, the book’s main text is more antiquarianism than true biography, an accumulation of raw data, including extraneous details about Robinson’s family and associates and some other matters of doubtful relevance. Most interesting is the discussion of Robinson’s contribution to The Hound, which some claimed unconvincingly was greater than Doyle’s note suggests. Robinson merely identified himself as “the assistant plot producer.”

All of the books and articles known to have been written by Robinson are listed in 29 pages of primary bibliography, followed by 11 more of secondary bibliography. (The bibliography also appears in the same publisher’s 2009 collection of Robinson’s short stories Aside Conan Doyle: Twenty Original Tales, compiled by Spiring.)

The Cambridge Companion to American Crime Fiction
Jon L. Breen

Fourteen essays by academics include some valuable history and analysis but don’t come close to justifying the scope implied by the title. The contributors generally write very well, though a few are given to professorial wordiness. Of particular value are Sara Crosby on pre-Civil War crime writing, Stephen Rachman on Poe, editor Nickerson on women before 1960, Sean McCann on the hardboiled, and David Seed on spy fiction.

There are relatively few outright factual errors, though Eddy Von Mueller, writing on police procedurals, mistakenly believes Ed McBain was an ex-cop and that Lawrence Treat’s V is for Victim was a paperback original, and Seed miscredits Charles McCarry’s The Tears of Autumn to Robert Littell. McCann’s claim that Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe was “the most popular detective series in American history” can be disproved factually. (Ever heard of Perry Mason, for one?) Contrary to Nickerson, all evidence is against the claim that Anna Katharine Green “sank into obscurity in the early decades of the twentieth century.” The importance of Green’s contribution has always been recognized by the field’s historians.

The main problem is that some of the contributors, having only a sketchy knowledge of the history of American crime fiction and nonfiction, make inappropriately sweeping statements about primacy. Laura Browder seems to believe Truman Capote invented true crime, a flourishing genre long before In Cold Blood. Writing on feminist crime fiction, Margaret Kinsman claims Marcia Muller created the first American female private eye. Even if you rule out Honey West as male wish fulfillment and the central character of Fran Huston’s The Rich Get it All (1973) as a one-shot created by a pseudonymous male, Maxine O’Callaghan’s Delilah West got there first in short-story form, and there are earlier examples, even if they don’t necessarily fit the feminist ideal. The allegedly inferior position of crime-writing women before 1980 is trotted out in several of the essays. While Maureen Reddy makes good points about race in mystery fiction, the phrase “whiteness as the core American value” seems a bit much, and I’m surprised she could write on her subject without reference to white writers who attempted non-stereotypical black sleuths, particularly Ed Lacy, John Ball, and Ernest Tidyman.

Not only is the American contribution to the Golden Age of Detection downplayed to the vanishing point, with names like Ellery Queen, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Anthony Boucher not even present in the index, but important non-classicists like Stanley Ellin and Cornell Woolrich; contemporaries like Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke, Thomas H. Cook, and Bill Pronzini are similarly overlooked. And given the feminist bias of the selections, it is even more surprising that writers as significant as Margaret Millar, Helen McCloy, and Charlotte Armstrong rate nary a mention.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-26 00:05:29

nickerson_cambridgecompanionamcrimefictionFourteen essays by academics include some valuable history and analysis, particularly Sara Crosby on pre-Civil War crime writing, Stephen Rachman on Poe, editor Nickerson on women before 1960, Sean McCann on the hardboiled, and David Seed on spy fiction.

Cornucopia of Crime: Memories and Summations
Jon L. Breen

I have to disclose that this collection of 40 years’ worth of mystery criticism is dedicated to me, my own A Shot Rang Out from the same publisher having in part inspired its compilation. Nevins begins with excellent survey articles on four proclaimed Titans (Erle Stanley Gardner, Cornell Woolrich, Ellery Queen, and Anthony Boucher), then proceeds to lesser-known Cold Cases (Anthony Abbot, Cleve F. Adams, John Lawrence, Milton Propper, William Ard), a mixed bag of Profiles (Michael Avallone, Edward D. Hoch, Harry Stephen Keeler, John Lutz, John D. MacDonald, Jack Ritchie), and Brother Agents (interviews with James Atlee Phillips and David Atlee Phillips). An 80-page section on landmark mystery films, with extensive credits and notes drawing on the work of film historian William K. Everson, ranges chronologically from the classical detection of The Night Club Lady and the Penguin Pool Murder (both 1932) to the gritty realism of Touch of Evil and The Line-Up (both 1958). An article on poetry and crime fiction, short articles on film, radio, and TV mysteries, miscellaneous notes, and a section of obituaries, including an appreciation of the unjustly forgotten MWA Grand Master Aaron Marc Stein (aka George Bagby and Hampton Stone), fill out a volume every serious fan or scholar of crime fiction should acquire.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-26 00:14:05

I have to disclose that this collection of 40 years’ worth of mystery criticism is dedicated to me, my own A Shot Rang Out from the same publisher having in part inspired its compilation. Nevins begins with excellent survey articles on four proclaimed Titans (Erle Stanley Gardner, Cornell Woolrich, Ellery Queen, and Anthony Boucher), then proceeds to lesser-known Cold Cases (Anthony Abbot, Cleve F. Adams, John Lawrence, Milton Propper, William Ard), a mixed bag of Profiles (Michael Avallone, Edward D. Hoch, Harry Stephen Keeler, John Lutz, John D. MacDonald, Jack Ritchie), and Brother Agents (interviews with James Atlee Phillips and David Atlee Phillips). An 80-page section on landmark mystery films, with extensive credits and notes drawing on the work of film historian William K. Everson, ranges chronologically from the classical detection of The Night Club Lady and the Penguin Pool Murder (both 1932) to the gritty realism of Touch of Evil and The Line-Up (both 1958). An article on poetry and crime fiction, short articles on film, radio, and TV mysteries, miscellaneous notes, and a section of obituaries, including an appreciation of the unjustly forgotten MWA Grand Master Aaron Marc Stein (aka George Bagby and Hampton Stone), fill out a volume every serious fan or scholar of crime fiction should acquire.

Richard Matheson on Screen: a History of the Filmed Works
Jon L. Breen

This remarkable book provides a wealth of information about the various theatrical films and TV shows scripted by Matheson or adapted from his works by others. Extensive credits, production details, and quotes from interviews with participants appear along with plot summaries and critical reactions, often from Matheson himself. Illustrations include production stills and posters. While most of the works covered are in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres, Matheson is a popular fiction all-rounder, and there’s plenty of crime/suspense interest. While contributions to Twilight Zone are covered in depth, other episodic TV work is summarized more briefly. Matheson worked on such shows as The D.A.’s Man, Markham, Thriller, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. References are frequent to his Southern California contemporaries, notably William F. Nolan, Charles Beaumont, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and William Campbell Gault. Of particular interest is the account of mystery novelist George Baxt’s dubious contribution to the Matheson-Beaumont script for Night of the Eagle (1962; US title Burn, Witch, Burn!), an adaptation of Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-26 00:20:48

bradley_richardmathesononscreenThis remarkable book is a wealth of information on Matheson's theatrical films and TV shows.

Night Forms
Bill Crider

Francis M. Nevins is a well-known writer of both fiction and nonfiction, and Night Forms is an impressive collection of his stories from Perfect Crime Books. This is a hefty volume, and there’s not a weak story in the batch. There’s also plenty of variety, from pastiches of writers like Ellery Queen, Raymond Chandler, and (yikes!) Harry Stephen Keeler; to standalones; to stories about Nevins’ series characters like Milo Turner and Loren Mensing. Fair-play detection dominates, though there are some stories of straight suspense. Just as good as the stories are the afterwords that Nevins provides for each one, and there’s an autobiographical introduction in which Nevins tells how Fred Dannay, half of the Ellery Queen duo, served as his mentor early in his writing career. There’s no explanation of Nevins’ fascination with toads, but certainly “Toad Cop” has an opening as powerful as any story you’re likely to find anywhere.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-26 00:26:37

Francis M. Nevins is a well-known writer of both fiction and nonfiction, and Night Forms is an impressive collection of his stories from Perfect Crime Books. This is a hefty volume, and there’s not a weak story in the batch. There’s also plenty of variety, from pastiches of writers like Ellery Queen, Raymond Chandler, and (yikes!) Harry Stephen Keeler; to standalones; to stories about Nevins’ series characters like Milo Turner and Loren Mensing. Fair-play detection dominates, though there are some stories of straight suspense. Just as good as the stories are the afterwords that Nevins provides for each one, and there’s an autobiographical introduction in which Nevins tells how Fred Dannay, half of the Ellery Queen duo, served as his mentor early in his writing career. There’s no explanation of Nevins’ fascination with toads, but certainly “Toad Cop” has an opening as powerful as any story you’re likely to find anywhere.

Sweeper
Bill Crider

Interesting new writer, Lew Stowe (Rod Lousteau), has collected some of his epublications into a 2010 book called Sweeper. The title character, Sweeper, is a strange little man who lives in a place he calls the Territory, an area of about 20 blocks in a decaying city. Sweeper doesn’t remember his past or his real name, but he knows what he’s there in the Territory for. He sweeps the streets and tries to clean up the rubbish, in more than one sense. He’s a street vigilante who dispenses his own kind of justice in a series of hardboiled tales that are well worth a look.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-26 00:30:17
stowe_sweeperInteresting new noir writer, Lew Stowe (Rod Lousteau), has collected some of his e-stories into a 2010 book about a strange little man who lives in a decaying city called Territory.
Terminal Damage
Bill Crider

Digital publications are selling better and better. Ebooks aren’t just for backlists now but for original work, too. A case in point is Terminal Damage, available in a variety of digital formats at Smashwords and other online vendors. It’s the product of the eight bloggers at DoSomeDamage.com, and the idea’s a good one. If you think air travel and the new scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs are a hassle, you’ll discover that those are petty annoyances compared to what can happen at an airport on a really bad day like the one in these linked stories by the likes of Dave White, Russel D. McLean, Scott D. Parker, Joelle Charbonneau, John McFetridge, Jay Stringer, Bryon Quetermous, and Steve Weddle. Thugs, suicidal kids, a grandfather who likes clean teeth and his dental hygiene pick, and other characters all appear in stories with distinctive voices, lots of action, and noir-tinged plots. All for 99 cents. Hard to go wrong here. Easy robbery goes bad. Really bad. Good stuff.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-26 00:38:41

pinter_terminaldamageNew scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs? Petty annoyances compared to these airport tales...

In Plain Sight's Mary Mccormack
Oline Cogdill

altLike many of the series on the USA Network, In Plain Sight goes beyond its description.

On paper, In Plain Sight is about the U.S. Marshal’s highly secretive branch of the witness protection program (WITSEC) which relocates federal witnesses.

But the show goes much deeper as it revolves around Mary Shannon, the complicated, grumpy Marshal with a dysfunctional family, and her stoic partner, Marshall Mann. Their personal lives, especially Mary’s, are as important as the back stories of those who end up in WITSEC -- career criminals, whistle-blowers or innocents who witnessed a crime.

Humor mixed in with the drama complements In Plain Sight’s plots.

In Plain Sight begins its fourth season at 10 p.m. tonight, May 1, on the USA Network.

Recently, Mystery Scene interviewed Mary McCormack, who plays Mary Shannon, and Frederick Weller who plays Marshall Mann. Each has a long string of solid performances in TV series and the movies. McCormack and Weller also have successful stage careers. McCormack received a 2008 Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.for her role in Boeing-Boeing. Five of the six Broadway productions in which Weller has appeared have won or been nominated for Tony Awards, and seven of his nine Off-Broadway shows have received nominations at the Obie, Drama Desk or Lucille Lortel Awards.

During the interview, both McCormack and Weller cracked jokes and laughed, mentioned their presence on Twitter and seemed to really enjoy each other’s company.

The theme of In Plain Sight’s new season is change and the characters will undergo tremendous changes. One of the most intriguing developments – and I am not giving away any spoilers here -- will be Mary McCormack’s real-life pregnancy will mean that Mary Shannon also will be pregnant.

“Mary Shannon's not necessarily maternal so it's making for some interesting stories and character development, which I think is really fun to play,” said McCormack. “And to me, it's really interesting to see someone play pregnant who is pregnant. It's not altogether as pretty as when someone all chiseled up does it.

“As a woman, I find it refreshing to see someone who's dealing with it, someone who's passionate about their career and then having to try to come to terms with this new area in her life, which all women deal with.

“The pregnancy actually provides for really an interesting development in season four.”

And this will add another layer of change for the series.

“If the theme of the season is change, it sort of falls right into that. You know, Mary's whole life is changing. Her mom is sober, her sister's engaged and getting married and Marshall is in this relationship, which seems to be working and is sort of meaningful. And then what's she left with?

“And all of a sudden she has this enormous change in her own life too. So I think it's going to actually be really rich for stories.”

Mary Shannon, as viewers know, isn’t a fan of change.

“She hates change,” said McCormack. “And she’s sort of confused.

“She keeps expecting things to fall apart. Like in the first episode you see her expecting her sister to fall right into old patterns and it turns out she really hasn't. Her whole life has been spent taking care of other people, and now those other people randomly either get sober or learn how to take care of themselves. I think her identity's in question.

“A big part of her is sort of walking around feeling sort of smug and proud of herself for being the only adult in the room and now she's not the only adult in the room. It's a big shift for her.

“And now on top of it she's becoming the one thing she never wanted to be, which is a mother.

“And these poor writers, I only told them I was pregnant a few episodes in, so they're scrambling. But it should be exciting.”

And how is Marshall going to deal with the pregnancy?

“I think Marshall has a pregnancy fetish, but they haven't written that in yet, that I know of,” said Weller, with a laugh.

Even if there wasn’t a pregnancy, McCormack says would continue to explore new aspects of Mary Shannon.

“I just love the character. David Maples, who created the show, just wrote a really great part. Fred's part is great too, and so is Paul Ben-Victor's. Maples really wrote some three-dimensional characters. I love them,” said McCormack.

“I love that Mary Shannon's really good at her job and not so good at her personal life. I like that she's cynical and sarcastic. It's just fun to play someone so grouchy. It's sort of refreshing. I can be a little bit grouchy myself so it's a comfortable fit.”

As Mary deals with her pregnancy, Marshall contends with a relationship with a sexy cop, which has the potential to change the dynamic between Marshall and Mary.

“Marshall's feelings for Mary are now inevitably more submerged. They're more submerged, like underground lava or tunneling Viet Kong. They are more dangerous,” said Weller.

(Part II of the interview with McCormack and Weller will continue May 2)

Photo: Frederick Weller and Mary McCormack. USA photo

Xav ID 577
2011-05-01 10:43:56

altLike many of the series on the USA Network, In Plain Sight goes beyond its description.

On paper, In Plain Sight is about the U.S. Marshal’s highly secretive branch of the witness protection program (WITSEC) which relocates federal witnesses.

But the show goes much deeper as it revolves around Mary Shannon, the complicated, grumpy Marshal with a dysfunctional family, and her stoic partner, Marshall Mann. Their personal lives, especially Mary’s, are as important as the back stories of those who end up in WITSEC -- career criminals, whistle-blowers or innocents who witnessed a crime.

Humor mixed in with the drama complements In Plain Sight’s plots.

In Plain Sight begins its fourth season at 10 p.m. tonight, May 1, on the USA Network.

Recently, Mystery Scene interviewed Mary McCormack, who plays Mary Shannon, and Frederick Weller who plays Marshall Mann. Each has a long string of solid performances in TV series and the movies. McCormack and Weller also have successful stage careers. McCormack received a 2008 Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.for her role in Boeing-Boeing. Five of the six Broadway productions in which Weller has appeared have won or been nominated for Tony Awards, and seven of his nine Off-Broadway shows have received nominations at the Obie, Drama Desk or Lucille Lortel Awards.

During the interview, both McCormack and Weller cracked jokes and laughed, mentioned their presence on Twitter and seemed to really enjoy each other’s company.

The theme of In Plain Sight’s new season is change and the characters will undergo tremendous changes. One of the most intriguing developments – and I am not giving away any spoilers here -- will be Mary McCormack’s real-life pregnancy will mean that Mary Shannon also will be pregnant.

“Mary Shannon's not necessarily maternal so it's making for some interesting stories and character development, which I think is really fun to play,” said McCormack. “And to me, it's really interesting to see someone play pregnant who is pregnant. It's not altogether as pretty as when someone all chiseled up does it.

“As a woman, I find it refreshing to see someone who's dealing with it, someone who's passionate about their career and then having to try to come to terms with this new area in her life, which all women deal with.

“The pregnancy actually provides for really an interesting development in season four.”

And this will add another layer of change for the series.

“If the theme of the season is change, it sort of falls right into that. You know, Mary's whole life is changing. Her mom is sober, her sister's engaged and getting married and Marshall is in this relationship, which seems to be working and is sort of meaningful. And then what's she left with?

“And all of a sudden she has this enormous change in her own life too. So I think it's going to actually be really rich for stories.”

Mary Shannon, as viewers know, isn’t a fan of change.

“She hates change,” said McCormack. “And she’s sort of confused.

“She keeps expecting things to fall apart. Like in the first episode you see her expecting her sister to fall right into old patterns and it turns out she really hasn't. Her whole life has been spent taking care of other people, and now those other people randomly either get sober or learn how to take care of themselves. I think her identity's in question.

“A big part of her is sort of walking around feeling sort of smug and proud of herself for being the only adult in the room and now she's not the only adult in the room. It's a big shift for her.

“And now on top of it she's becoming the one thing she never wanted to be, which is a mother.

“And these poor writers, I only told them I was pregnant a few episodes in, so they're scrambling. But it should be exciting.”

And how is Marshall going to deal with the pregnancy?

“I think Marshall has a pregnancy fetish, but they haven't written that in yet, that I know of,” said Weller, with a laugh.

Even if there wasn’t a pregnancy, McCormack says would continue to explore new aspects of Mary Shannon.

“I just love the character. David Maples, who created the show, just wrote a really great part. Fred's part is great too, and so is Paul Ben-Victor's. Maples really wrote some three-dimensional characters. I love them,” said McCormack.

“I love that Mary Shannon's really good at her job and not so good at her personal life. I like that she's cynical and sarcastic. It's just fun to play someone so grouchy. It's sort of refreshing. I can be a little bit grouchy myself so it's a comfortable fit.”

As Mary deals with her pregnancy, Marshall contends with a relationship with a sexy cop, which has the potential to change the dynamic between Marshall and Mary.

“Marshall's feelings for Mary are now inevitably more submerged. They're more submerged, like underground lava or tunneling Viet Kong. They are more dangerous,” said Weller.

(Part II of the interview with McCormack and Weller will continue May 2)

Photo: Frederick Weller and Mary McCormack. USA photo

H.R.F. Keating: Putting the Reader First
Martin Edwards

Keating_HRF_small

The crime writer Henry Reymond Fitzwalter Keating, known to his many readers as H.R.F. Keating, passed away March 27, 2011, in London. He is the author of more than 50 books, favorite among them his series featuring Indian Inspector Ganesh Ghote.

Mystery Scene takes a look at this prolific crime writer's body of work and signature quirky, intelligent style in this 2005 piece, which also includes a complete H.R.F. Keating reading list.

Photo: Simon Keating

H.R.F. Keating is to be the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award at Malice Domestic XVII and it is an honour that is justly deserved. Along with two legendary figures of a previous generation, Julian Symons and Michael Gilbert, Harry Keating was undoubtedly one of the towering male writers of British crime fiction in the second half of the 20th Century and, now that we are in the 21st Century, he is heading serenely towards the 50th anniversary in 2009 of the publication of his very first crime novel.

Keating is, and perhaps will remain, best known as the creator of Indian detective Inspector Ganesh Ghote, but his achievements have been diverse. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has served as Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Authors and as President of the legendary Detection Club. He has written many short stories as well as “straight” novels and much non-fiction. For fifteen years, he reviewed crime for The Times and, in addition to editing and introducing books, he has written countless articles—not least for Mystery Scene.

Symons, in an essay written for The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing not long before his death said: “The tone and manner of Keating’s crime stories are wholly original in modern crime fiction. They spring from a mind attracted by philosophical and metaphysical speculation, with a liking for fantasy held in check by the crime story’s requirement of plot. Early books like Zen There Was Murder (1960) and A Rush On The Ultimate (1961) gave readers the pleasure of seeing a writer kick up his heels in defiance of any critical perception of what a crime story ought to be like.”

Henry Reymond Fitzwalter Keating (no wonder he is universally known as Harry!) was born in 1926. He says: “I always wanted to be a writer, a novelist.” Like many before him, he spent a number of years working in the newspaper business and came round to the view that “it would be easier to get a crime story published” than a mainstream work of fiction. He wrote a couple of mysteries “which got nowhere” and a third did not meet with the approval of his original literary agent, because it was “a bit odd.” Undaunted, Keating sent the manuscript to Gollancz, whose yellow-jacketed crime novels were at the time synonymous with quality in the genre and one morning Victor Gollancz himself telephoned Keating to say that he wanted to publish Death And The Visiting Firemen. At that point, Keating had not thought of writing a followup, but he found a more sympathetic agent who made it clear to the young writer that he ought to have the manuscript of his second book with the agency at the moment when the first was published.

Keating acknowledges that his aim in writing Death And The Visiting Firemen was “pure entertainment” but adds: “When my copy came, I turned it over in my hand and it occurred to me that I could use this simple whodunit form to become the novelist I had vaguely always wanted to be.” He conceived the notion of writing about Zen Buddhism and behind the whodunit plot asked the question: “What is truth?”

It was Keating’s yearning to break into the American market that prompted the creation of Inspector Ghote. His first five books were published in the UK but not in the States, evidently because they were perceived at the time as being “too British.” Keating therefore asked himself how he could be “less British” in his writing. Although, at the time, he had never travelled to India, the thought of writing about the sub-continent appealed to him and he thought it might well appeal to American readers too.

keating_inspectorghotesfirstcaseKeating offers a fascinating insight into his work in the introduction to his short story collection Inspector Ghote, His Life And Crimes (1989):

"I had it in mind to write a crime story called The Perfect Murder that would be somewhat of a commentary upon the problem of perfectionism, and one of the few notions I had about India was that things there were apt to be rather imperfect. Good symbolic stuff.

"Then, out of nowhere, into my head there came this man, or some parts of him… A certain naiveté, which should enable him to ask the questions about the everyday life around him to which my potential readers might want answers …

"At this point, however, I saw Ghote’s life as being a short one, a single book’s span. My speciality in 1963 was detective novels without a running hero, but within each a different, more or less exotic background…. I saw India as just one more in that series. But the book unexpectedly won the Gold Dagger Award for 1964, and an Edgar Allan Poe award in America…. Ghote was granted an indefinite extension of life.”

The lightness of touch and generosity of spirit that, to my mind, are the key characteristics of Keating’s crime fiction also inform his writing about the genre. He has written a number of books and edited, introduced or contributed to a great many more. If Julian Symons is the pre-eminent British crime fiction critic, then Keating (whose judgements tend to be rather gentler) is not too far behind. Much of his writing about the genre has sprung from his experience of reviewing and publishers have regularly beaten a path to his door with commissions for nonfiction projects. An early example was an approach by an old college friend, which led to Keating’s writing a brief and affectionate account of British detective fiction in the Golden Age, Murder Must Appetize (1975). Four years later, he came up with Sherlock Holmes, The Man And His World (1979), which he regards as one of his most successful studies. Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books (1987), boasts an admiring foreword by the legendary Patricia Highsmith. Although their books were very different, Highsmith and Keating got on famously after they met through Keating’s neighbour, who happened to be Highsmith’s editor in the UK. Highsmith even agreed to read through a book that Keating set in the US to see whether he had effectively captured the American idiom—and Keating recalls that she kindly pointed out to him that “to knock up” in the sense of an early house-call had a rather different meaning in America than in the UK.

keating_crime100He included in his selection of 100 classics of the genre Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Tremor Of Forgery. Any exercise in selecting “the best” from a large field is bound to be highly subjective, but Keating makes an appealing case for his choices, which include amongst the classics such unfamiliar titles as The Sands of Windee by Arthur W Upfield, The Last Best Friend by George Sims and All on a Summer’s Day by John Wainwright.

Keating joined the list of those who have sought to pass on their professional expertise when he published Writing Crime Fiction (1986; second edition 1994). This is one of the shorter guides of its kind, but in my opinion (and I confess that I have read most of the others) it is one of the best. Especially illuminating is that Keating points out that a crime writer may also seek to slip the reader “a Mickey Finn by way of telling you something about this world you live in.” As he says: “The crime story can, to a small extent or to quite a large extent, do what the pure novel does. It can make a temporary map for its readers out of the chaos of their surroundings—only it should never let them know.” The book offers a good deal of wisdom, not least in Keating’s words of caution about writing short stories:

“The crime short story is perhaps the most difficult branch of crime fiction to write, except in the mere matter of the number of times it is necessary to put finger to word-processor key. Yet it is there. It holds out a challenge. Few crime writers can resist it forever.”

One can only be grateful that Keating has so often yielded to the temptation to write short stories himself. They include a collection featuring the cleaning lady Mrs. Craggs, Mrs. Craggs: Crimes Cleaned Up (1985), and also In Kensington Gardens Once… (1997). I had first-hand experience of his sheer professionalism when I invited a number of luminaries to contribute to Mysterious Pleasures (2003), an anthology celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the formation of the Crime Writers’ Association. Harry Keating was the first to respond to my overtures, and the first to write a story for the book: even more importantly, “The Hound Of The Hanging Gardens,” a brand new Ghote story, was typically enjoyable.

keating_bedsidecompanionKeating’s literary style is by nature quirky and interesting. The very way in which he tends to form sentences is slightly off-key, yet arresting and appropriate. The same is true of his approach to writing novels and non-fiction. The Bedside Companion to Crime (1989) opens with an introduction entitled: “A Word Before You Nod Off.” He explains that his aim was to “have garnered as many of these fun facts as I could find or remember and arrange them in neat piles, with little flags on top like the ones on sandwiches at big tea parties to give a hint of what’s inside.” For good measure, he addresses the often-asked question of why people read crime stories and provides answers both sociological and psychological, yet in his usual pithy and readable style. He acts as a persuasive advocate for crime fiction “as a powerful and beneficial factor in life” and it is impossible not to warm to a commentator who includes in his amiable assessment of the genre’s byways a section of on the part played in classic detection novels by “breakfast, lunch and tea.”

As long ago as 1972, Keating edited on behalf of the Crime Writers’ Association an anthology called Blood On My Mind, which brought together new pieces by CWA members “about real crimes, some notable and some obscure.” He contributed a chapter himself, about the Eugene Aram case, but this was a rare venture into true crime. As Keating told me recently, he prefers the ingenuity associated with fictional murder to the horrors of the real thing.

Keating’s popularity amongst crime writers has contributed to his success as an editor. For Agatha Christie: First Lady Of Crime (1977), for example, he was able to persuade the duo who wrote under the name of Emma Lathen to contribute a chapter which remains one of the most incisive analyses of Christie’s technique. Crime Writers: Reflections on Crime Fiction (1978) sprang from a BBC television series. Contributors included Symons, P.D. James, Reginald Hill, and Troy Kennedy Martin, whose credits include the original screenplay for the classic film The Italian Job. Keating’s own contribution to the book, “New Patents Pending,” looks into the crystal ball. Of the young writers whom he picks out, Jacqueline Wilson soon abandoned the genre for children’s fiction and went on to achieve enormous fame, but what is striking is how many of Keating’s predictions have been borne out over the last quarter of a century. As he said, “this exploitation of our moral uncertainties is…a trend I would expect to see running ahead for a good many years to come.” He also forecast more “books where a woman takes a clearly leading role, and more violence.” Above all, I suggest that he was right in his conclusion: “One major movement can be detected. It is that the crime story is steering itself back into the general current of fiction. It has been slowly doing so for a long time, and I think that the process is accelerating.” Few television tie-in books are as illuminating as Crime Writers.

keating_whodunitguidetocrimeWhodunit?: A Guide to Crime, Suspense & Spy Fiction (1982) again boasted a glittering array of contributors. Explaining how he writes his books, Keating said: “What starts me off writing a crime novel is, almost paradoxically, a philosophical idea. Flying a bit high? Well, like it or not, it is ideas of this sort—can the world ever do without violence? How many lies should we tell?—that give my imaginative faculty the necessary fire.” The book also contains a fascinating, if highly idiosyncratic “consumer’s guide to writers and their books,” which highlights for the fan a number of intriguing but littleknown novels.

Keating has also edited a CWA collection of fiction, Crime Waves (1991), and an 80th birthday tribute to Julian Symons by fellow members of the Detection Club, The Man Who– (1992). (One hopes that his fellow Club members will produce something similar to celebrate Harry’s own 80th next year.)

When a writer has done so much and so well, it must be difficult to decide what to tackle next. Keating’s solution to the problem was to embark on a sequence of pairs of books. Thus we had novels about a “good” detective and a “bad” detective. A novel about a “soft” detective was to be succeeded by another about a “hard” detective—but Keating had trouble with this concept until he realised that he could write about a "hard” detective if she was a woman. Thus was born Harriet Martens, and a new series. Harriet’s latest case is recorded in A Detective at Death’s Door (2004), prefaced by a short note paying tribute to Agatha Christie, “whose sure hand with her narratives taught me more than perhaps I even now recognise.”

Over the years, Harry Keating has collected many accolades. The Murder of the Maharajah (1980) earned his second CWA Gold Dagger, and he received the UK’s premier award for crime fiction, the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger, in 1996. He has been the subject of a full-length critical study, H.R.F. Keating: Post-Colonial Detection by Meera Tamaya (1993). And, throughout, he has succeeded whilst refusing to play safe. I am not sure whether it is more astonishing that he has written a lengthy crime novel in verse, Jack the Lady Killer (1999), or that the bizarre experiment is a great deal of fun. Soon after publication, he inscribed a copy to me with a twinkle in his eye and I found that he had written: “I dare you to have a go.” So far, I am sorry to say, I have not managed to take up the challenge!

In Writing Crime Fiction, Keating said of the crime writer’s special contract with their readers that the key pledge is to put the reader first. No one can doubt that, in this worthy aim, he has succeeded with a rare and admirable consistency.

An H.R.F. Keating Reading List

INSPECTOR GHOTE MYSTERIES
The Perfect Murder (1964)*
Inspector Ghote's Good Crusade (1966)
Inspector Ghote Caught in Meshes (1967)
Inspector Ghote Hunts the Peacock (1968)
Inspector Ghote Plays a Joker (1969)
Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg (1970)
Inspector Ghote Goes by Train (1971)
Inspector Ghote Trusts the Heart (1972)
Bats Fly Up for Inspector Ghote (1974)
Filmi, Filmi, Inspector Ghote (1976)
Inspector Ghote Draws a Line (1979)
Go West Inspector Ghote (1981)
The Sheriff of Bombay (1984)
Under a Monsoon Cloud (1986)
Dead On Time (1988)
The Iciest Sin (1990)
Inspector Ghote, His Life and Crimes (short story collection; 1989)
Cheating Death (1992)
Doing Wrong (1994)
Asking Questions (1996)
Bribery, Corruption Also (1999)
Breaking and Entering (2000)
Inspector Ghote's First Case (2009)

HARRIET MARTENS MYSTERIES
The Hard Detective (2000)
A Detective in Love (2001)
A Detective Under Fire (2002)
The Dreaming Detective (2003)
A Detective at Death's Door (2004)

OTHER CRIME NOVELS
Death and the Visiting Firemen (1959)
Zen There Was Murder (1960)
A Rush on the Ultimate (1961)
The Dog It Was That Died (1962)
Death of a Fat God (1963)
Is Skin-Deep, Is Fatal (1965)
A Remarkable Case of Burglary (1975)
The Murder of the Maharajah (1980)
The Body in the Billiard Room (1987)
The Rich Detective (1993)
The Good Detective (1995)
The Soft Detective (1997)
The Bad Detective (1999)
Jack the Lady Killer (Novel in verse; 1999)

SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
Mrs. Craggs: Crimes Cleaned Up (1985)
In Kensington Gardens Once... (1997)

CRITICAL WORKS
Murder Must Appetize (1975)
Sherlock Holmes, The Man And His World (1979)
Great Crimes (1982)
Writing Crime Fiction (1986; 2nd ed. 1994)
Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books (1987)
The Bedside Companion to Crime (1989)

EDITOR OF CRITICAL WORKS
Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime (1977)
Crime Writers: Reflections on Crime Fiction (1978)
Whodunit?: A Guide to Crime, Suspense & Spy Fiction (1982)
Crime Waves (1991)
The Man Who— (tribute to Julian Symons, 1992)

*Dates are for UK publication; US publication was generally one year later.

This article first appeared in Mystery Scene Spring Issue #89.

Martin Edwards is an award-winning crime writer. His latest is The Hanging Wood (Poisoned Pen Press), a Lake District mystery.

Teri Duerr
2011-04-28 01:34:48

Keating_HRF_smallMS looks back at the work of H.R.F. Keating (1967-2011) in this 2005 interview.

The 2011 Arthur Ellis Award Nominees Announced
Mystery Scene

The 2011 Arthur Ellis Award Nominees Announced

(Toronto, ON) April 29, 2011 – Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) have announced the nominees for the 28th annual Arthur Ellis Awards, Canada’s premier awards for excellence in crime writing. The 2011 awards are for books and short stories published in 2010. Crime Writers celebrate all facets of the genre, including crime, detective, espionage, mystery, suspense, and thriller, and include fictional or factual accounts of criminal doings and literary works with a criminal theme.

BEST NOVEL
C. B. Forrest, Slow Recoil (RendezVous Crime)
Mike Knowles, In Plain Sight (ECW Press)
Jeffrey Moore, The Extinction Club (Penguin Group)
Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead (Little, Brown UK) -
Michael Van Rooy, A Criminal to Remember (Turnstone Press)

BEST SHORT STORY
Mary Jane Maffini, “So Much in Common” in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Jas R. Petrin, “In it Up to My Neck” in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Jordan McPeek, “The Big Touch” in Thuglit
James Powell, “The Piper's Door” in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
William Deverall, “The Bust” in Whodunit: Sun Media’s Canadian Crime Fiction Showcase

BEST NON-FICTION
Stevie Cameron, On the Farm (Knopf Canada)
Robert Wright, Our Man in Tehran (HarperCollins)
Roy MacGregor, Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery of Tom Thomson and the Woman Who Loved Him (Random House)

BEST JUVENILE/YOUNG ADULT
Allan Stratton, Borderline (HarperCollins)
Alice Kuipers, The Worst Thing She Ever Did (HarperCollins)
Sharee Fitch, Pluto’s Ghost (Doubleday Canada)
Norah McClintock, Victim Rights (Red Deer Press)
Yvonne Prinz, The Vinyl Princess (HarperCollins)

BEST CRIME WRITING IN FRENCH
Jacques Savoie, Cinq secondes (Libre Expression)
Jacques Côté, Dans le quartier des agités (Alire)
Johanne Seymour, Vanités (Libre Expression)
Michel Châteauneuf, La société des pères meurtriers (Vents D'ouest)
Bernard Gilbert, Quand la mort s'invite à la première (Québec Amérique)

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Hilary Davidson, The Damage Done (Tom Doherty Associates)
Avner Mandleman, The Debba (Other Press)
Michael McKinley, The Penalty Killing (McClelland & Stewart)
Nicholas Ruddock, The Parabolist (Doubleday)
Chevy Stevens, Still Missing (St. Martin's Press)

UNHANGED ARTHUR (Best Unpublished First Crime Novel)
John Jeneroux, Better Off Dead
Kevin Thornton, Uncoiled
Jayne Barnard, When the Bow Breaks

All the award winners will be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards Banquet in Victoria, B.C., on June 2, 2011, in the Pender Island Ballroom at the Grand Pacific Hotel.

For additional information please contact:
Melodie Campbell
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For additional information on Crime Writers of Canada and the Arthur Ellis Awards:
www.crimewriterscanada.com

Teri Duerr
2011-04-28 21:06:52

The 2011 Arthur Ellis Award Nominees Announced

(Toronto, ON) April 29, 2011 – Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) have announced the nominees for the 28th annual Arthur Ellis Awards, Canada’s premier awards for excellence in crime writing. The 2011 awards are for books and short stories published in 2010. Crime Writers celebrate all facets of the genre, including crime, detective, espionage, mystery, suspense, and thriller, and include fictional or factual accounts of criminal doings and literary works with a criminal theme.

BEST NOVEL
C. B. Forrest, Slow Recoil (RendezVous Crime)
Mike Knowles, In Plain Sight (ECW Press)
Jeffrey Moore, The Extinction Club (Penguin Group)
Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead (Little, Brown UK) -
Michael Van Rooy, A Criminal to Remember (Turnstone Press)

BEST SHORT STORY
Mary Jane Maffini, “So Much in Common” in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Jas R. Petrin, “In it Up to My Neck” in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Jordan McPeek, “The Big Touch” in Thuglit
James Powell, “The Piper's Door” in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
William Deverall, “The Bust” in Whodunit: Sun Media’s Canadian Crime Fiction Showcase

BEST NON-FICTION
Stevie Cameron, On the Farm (Knopf Canada)
Robert Wright, Our Man in Tehran (HarperCollins)
Roy MacGregor, Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery of Tom Thomson and the Woman Who Loved Him (Random House)

BEST JUVENILE/YOUNG ADULT
Allan Stratton, Borderline (HarperCollins)
Alice Kuipers, The Worst Thing She Ever Did (HarperCollins)
Sharee Fitch, Pluto’s Ghost (Doubleday Canada)
Norah McClintock, Victim Rights (Red Deer Press)
Yvonne Prinz, The Vinyl Princess (HarperCollins)

BEST CRIME WRITING IN FRENCH
Jacques Savoie, Cinq secondes (Libre Expression)
Jacques Côté, Dans le quartier des agités (Alire)
Johanne Seymour, Vanités (Libre Expression)
Michel Châteauneuf, La société des pères meurtriers (Vents D'ouest)
Bernard Gilbert, Quand la mort s'invite à la première (Québec Amérique)

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Hilary Davidson, The Damage Done (Tom Doherty Associates)
Avner Mandleman, The Debba (Other Press)
Michael McKinley, The Penalty Killing (McClelland & Stewart)
Nicholas Ruddock, The Parabolist (Doubleday)
Chevy Stevens, Still Missing (St. Martin's Press)

UNHANGED ARTHUR (Best Unpublished First Crime Novel)
John Jeneroux, Better Off Dead
Kevin Thornton, Uncoiled
Jayne Barnard, When the Bow Breaks

All the award winners will be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards Banquet in Victoria, B.C., on June 2, 2011, in the Pender Island Ballroom at the Grand Pacific Hotel.

For additional information please contact:
Melodie Campbell
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For additional information on Crime Writers of Canada and the Arthur Ellis Awards:
www.crimewriterscanada.com

Edgar Winners for 2010
Oline Cogdill

Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010, during the 65th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

BEST NOVEL

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur Books)


BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)


BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)


BEST FACT CRIME

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity
by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press – Bison Original)


BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his
Rendezvouz with American History
by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton)


BEST SHORT STORY

"The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)


BEST JUVENILE

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)


BEST YOUNG ADULT

Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)


BEST PLAY

The Psychic by Sam Bobrick (Falcon Theatre – Burbank, CA)


BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“Episode 1” - Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)


ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

"Skyler Hobbs and the Rabbit Man" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
by Evan Lewis (Dell Magazines)


GRAND MASTER

Sara Paretsky


RAVEN AWARDS

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, Forest Park, Illinois
Once Upon A Crime Bookstore, Minneapolis, Minnesota


THE SIMON & SCHUSTER - MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 27, 2011)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Xav ID 577
2011-04-29 05:34:08

Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010, during the 65th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

BEST NOVEL

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur Books)


BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)


BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)


BEST FACT CRIME

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity
by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press – Bison Original)


BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his
Rendezvouz with American History
by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton)


BEST SHORT STORY

"The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)


BEST JUVENILE

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)


BEST YOUNG ADULT

Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)


BEST PLAY

The Psychic by Sam Bobrick (Falcon Theatre – Burbank, CA)


BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“Episode 1” - Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)


ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

"Skyler Hobbs and the Rabbit Man" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
by Evan Lewis (Dell Magazines)


GRAND MASTER

Sara Paretsky


RAVEN AWARDS

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, Forest Park, Illinois
Once Upon A Crime Bookstore, Minneapolis, Minnesota


THE SIMON & SCHUSTER - MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 27, 2011)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Agatha, La Times Winners
Oline Cogdill

This is one of the award weeks for mystery fiction. The Edgars were announced Thursday, April 28. (See my previous post.)

The winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the mystery/thriller category is Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. That was announced Friday, April 29.

And the Agatha Awards were announced Saturday, April 30, during the Malice Domestic conference.

The Agatha winners are:

Best Novel - Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. This was Penny's fourth Agatha in a row.

Best Nonfiction - Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran

Best Children's/Young Adult - The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith

Best First Mystery Novel - The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames

Best Short Story - "So Much in Common" by Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - Sept./Oct. 2010

Mystery Scene congratulations all the winners

Xav ID 577
2011-05-01 03:47:44

This is one of the award weeks for mystery fiction. The Edgars were announced Thursday, April 28. (See my previous post.)

The winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the mystery/thriller category is Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. That was announced Friday, April 29.

And the Agatha Awards were announced Saturday, April 30, during the Malice Domestic conference.

The Agatha winners are:

Best Novel - Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. This was Penny's fourth Agatha in a row.

Best Nonfiction - Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran

Best Children's/Young Adult - The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith

Best First Mystery Novel - The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames

Best Short Story - "So Much in Common" by Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - Sept./Oct. 2010

Mystery Scene congratulations all the winners

John Grisham on Stage
Oline Cogdill

altJohn Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, makes its theatrical debut on May 6 through June 19 at the renowned Arena Stage in Washington, DC. This world premier is the first time a Grisham novel has ever been turned into a play.

Arena Stage has an excellent reputation for producing interesting plays and musicals, especially new works that often make it to the Broadway stage.

If anyone can make A Time to Kill Broadway-bound, it's Rupert Holmes, who has won both the Tony and Edgar awards, among many other honors.

The prolific Holmes won an Edgar for best play twice—in 1991 for Accomplice and in 1986 for The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Holmes, who has also written mystery fiction including Swing, earned the 2007 Drama Desk Award for the book of the Broadway musical Curtains, an homage to murder mystery plots.

A Time to Kill revolves around Carl Lee Hailey who takes the law into his own hands after his daughter is brutalized. Hailey's murder trial pits his two idealistic lawyers against a strong district attorney in a racially divided town.

A Time to Kill is not only Grisham's first novel, many consider it one of his finest.

The 1997 film version of A Time to Kill starred Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey.

If you're a fan of mysteries on stage, then be sure to pick up a copy of the Spring Issue #119 of Mystery Scene Magazine. "Spotlight on Crime: Mysteries in the Theater" by Wm. F. Hirschman surveys the current state of theatrical crime, including chats with playwrights Michael McKeever, Joseph Goodrich, Phillip Depoy, and Rupert Holmes. We also talk with Mark Bellamy, the artistic director of Calgary's Theatre Vertigo, Broadway producer Zev Buffman, Catherine Russell, star and manager of the long-running Perfect Crime, and Ken Dingledine of Samuel French Publications.

Photo: John Grisham

Xav ID 577
2011-05-04 10:13:27

altJohn Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, makes its theatrical debut on May 6 through June 19 at the renowned Arena Stage in Washington, DC. This world premier is the first time a Grisham novel has ever been turned into a play.

Arena Stage has an excellent reputation for producing interesting plays and musicals, especially new works that often make it to the Broadway stage.

If anyone can make A Time to Kill Broadway-bound, it's Rupert Holmes, who has won both the Tony and Edgar awards, among many other honors.

The prolific Holmes won an Edgar for best play twice—in 1991 for Accomplice and in 1986 for The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Holmes, who has also written mystery fiction including Swing, earned the 2007 Drama Desk Award for the book of the Broadway musical Curtains, an homage to murder mystery plots.

A Time to Kill revolves around Carl Lee Hailey who takes the law into his own hands after his daughter is brutalized. Hailey's murder trial pits his two idealistic lawyers against a strong district attorney in a racially divided town.

A Time to Kill is not only Grisham's first novel, many consider it one of his finest.

The 1997 film version of A Time to Kill starred Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey.

If you're a fan of mysteries on stage, then be sure to pick up a copy of the Spring Issue #119 of Mystery Scene Magazine. "Spotlight on Crime: Mysteries in the Theater" by Wm. F. Hirschman surveys the current state of theatrical crime, including chats with playwrights Michael McKeever, Joseph Goodrich, Phillip Depoy, and Rupert Holmes. We also talk with Mark Bellamy, the artistic director of Calgary's Theatre Vertigo, Broadway producer Zev Buffman, Catherine Russell, star and manager of the long-running Perfect Crime, and Ken Dingledine of Samuel French Publications.

Photo: John Grisham

Spring, Issue #119 Contents
Mystery Scene

119cover_250

Features

Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next

It’s nonstop metafictional fun and games in Fforde’s richly imagined BookWorld.
by Tom Nolan

How The Good Wife Became One of TV’s Best Shows

Is it the hot lawyers and office intrigue? The down-and-dirty Chicago politics? The infidelity-fueled domestic drama?
by Matt Zoller Seitz

David Dodge’s Sophisticated Crimes

Clever banter, glamorous locales, and intricate plots distinguish Dodge’s works, happily now back in print.
by Jon L. Breen

Kelli Stanley

Stanley uses two very different eras and settings—Roman Britain and 1940s San Francisco—to examine timeless issues of race, gender, and social justice.
by Oline H. Cogdill

Louis Bayard, The School of Night

A secretive society of intellectuals in Elizabethan England is at the center of Bayard’s literary-themed novel.
by Art Taylor

Spotlight on Crime: Mysteries in the Theater

The crime rate is booming in regional theater.
by Wm. F. Hirschman

Joseph Goodrich: Multimedia Man

This Edgar-winner has crime plays, poetry, lyrics, opera librettos, comics and short stories to his credit.
by Wm. F. Hirschman

The Murders in Memory Lane: Evan Hunter, Part II

Writing under his own name or as Ed McBain, Hunter’s imagination and love of writing never flagged throughout his long career.
by Lawrence Block

Joe Gores 1931-2011

A tribute to one of the leading exponents of Dashiell Hammett and the creator of the DKA novels.
by Kevin Burton Smith

What’s Happening With... John R. Riggs

The Garth Ryland mysteries feature sharp social commentary seasoned with the quirky details of small-town America.
by Brian Skupin

Departments

At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Mystery Miscellany

by Louis Phillips

Hints & Allegations

2011 Derringer Awards, 2011 Left Coast Crime Awards, 2011 Dilys Award, Writers on Reading: Donna Leon on The White War

The Hook

First Lines That Caught Our Attention

Eyewitness

Another shot from Hammett.
Kevin Burton Smith

Writing Life: Gormania

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, What Counts in Thrillers, Burt Reynolds
by Ed Gorman

Birds of a Feather Quiz

New Books

Blood for Wolves
by Michael Allan Mallory

Antiques Knock-Off
by Barbara Allan

Where the Ghost Walks
by Jo A. Hiestand

Reviews

Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

by Betty Webb

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell

Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

by Dick Lochte

Mystery Scene Reviews

Miscellaneous

The Docket

Letters

Readers Recommend

Advertiser Index

Admin
2010-04-06 02:39:02

119cover_250

Features

Jasper Fforde and Thursday Next

It’s nonstop metafictional fun and games in Fforde’s richly imagined BookWorld.
by Tom Nolan

How The Good Wife Became One of TV’s Best Shows

Is it the hot lawyers and office intrigue? The down-and-dirty Chicago politics? The infidelity-fueled domestic drama?
by Matt Zoller Seitz

David Dodge’s Sophisticated Crimes

Clever banter, glamorous locales, and intricate plots distinguish Dodge’s works, happily now back in print.
by Jon L. Breen

Kelli Stanley

Stanley uses two very different eras and settings—Roman Britain and 1940s San Francisco—to examine timeless issues of race, gender, and social justice.
by Oline H. Cogdill

Louis Bayard, The School of Night

A secretive society of intellectuals in Elizabethan England is at the center of Bayard’s literary-themed novel.
by Art Taylor

Spotlight on Crime: Mysteries in the Theater

The crime rate is booming in regional theater.
by Wm. F. Hirschman

Joseph Goodrich: Multimedia Man

This Edgar-winner has crime plays, poetry, lyrics, opera librettos, comics and short stories to his credit.
by Wm. F. Hirschman

The Murders in Memory Lane: Evan Hunter, Part II

Writing under his own name or as Ed McBain, Hunter’s imagination and love of writing never flagged throughout his long career.
by Lawrence Block

Joe Gores 1931-2011

A tribute to one of the leading exponents of Dashiell Hammett and the creator of the DKA novels.
by Kevin Burton Smith

What’s Happening With... John R. Riggs

The Garth Ryland mysteries feature sharp social commentary seasoned with the quirky details of small-town America.
by Brian Skupin

Departments

At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Mystery Miscellany

by Louis Phillips

Hints & Allegations

2011 Derringer Awards, 2011 Left Coast Crime Awards, 2011 Dilys Award, Writers on Reading: Donna Leon on The White War

The Hook

First Lines That Caught Our Attention

Eyewitness

Another shot from Hammett.
Kevin Burton Smith

Writing Life: Gormania

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, What Counts in Thrillers, Burt Reynolds
by Ed Gorman

Birds of a Feather Quiz

New Books

Blood for Wolves
by Michael Allan Mallory

Antiques Knock-Off
by Barbara Allan

Where the Ghost Walks
by Jo A. Hiestand

Reviews

Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

by Betty Webb

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell

Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

by Dick Lochte

Mystery Scene Reviews

Miscellaneous

The Docket

Letters

Readers Recommend

Advertiser Index

At the Scene, Spring Issue #119
Kate Stine

119cover_250Hi everyone!

If you haven’t read Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next bibliomysteries, then you’re in for a real treat. Tom Nolan gives an introduction the whimsical world of Thursday Next, literary detective in this issue. (Here’s some advice for newbies, though: Start with the first book in the series, The Eyre Affair.)

Have you ever wondered about the loyal wife, silently standing by her disgraced husband, usually a politician, on the evening news? The Good Wife places that enigmatic figure at the center of one of the most enjoyable dramas on TV. It’s full-bodied, nuanced storytelling—and features probably the only time in history that a steamy sex scene has had National Public Radio’s evening news as a soundtrack. Find out more in Matt Zoller Seitz’s thoughtful article.

Novelist Kelli Stanley is making a splash and her conversation with Oline Cogdill on page 28 reveals why. It’s not every woman who is equally comfortable discussing ancient Roman curse tablets, the second Sino-Japanese War, segregated 1970s Florida, and comics! Also, Art Taylor talks with Louis Bayard about his acclaimed literary-themed thrillers, the latest of which, The School of Night, focuses on a secret, possibly heretical, society of scientists and artists in Elizabethan England.

Theatrical crime is running rampant across the country and Wm. F. Hirschman has tracked down some of the top perpetrators on Broadway and in regional theater for us. Don’t miss his list of classic crime plays—they make good reading!

There’s an avian theme to our latest contest on page 41. All you have to do is come up with ten mysteries with birds in their titles and you’ll be entered to win a free book. As you’ll recall, our last contest, “A Bouquet of Books,” centered on flowers. A reader requested a list of the titles but, alas, we didn’t save those entries. We’ll print the “Fine Feathered Friends” titles in an upcoming issue. In the last issue, I mentioned that Nate Pedersen was finishing off his series on collecting but I spoke too soon. Anne Saller, the new owner of Book Carnival in Tustin, Calif., suggested that Nate tackle topics sent in by readers. Nate is willing, so all that remains, dear readers, is for you to send in your questions!

The mystery world lost two very different, but equally beloved, writers recently: Joe Gores, author of the DKA novels, and H.R.F. (Harry) Keating, creator of Inspector Ghote and a thoughtful critic of the genre. They will be missed.

Kate Stine
Editor-in-chief

Teri Duerr
2011-03-04 16:14:15

Read Kate's Spring #119 "At the Scene."

Killer Nashville in August
Oline Cogdill

altMost people who visit Nashville come for the great music that seems to pour out of every bar and hole in the wall.

But the conference Killer Nashville, now in its sixth year, gives people another reason to visit the area.

Killer Nashville, scheduled for Aug. 26-28, is billed as a "conference for Thriller, Suspense & Mystery Writers and Lovers."

But Rick Summie, who's helping to get the word out about Killer Nashville, says the conference "is for writers of any genre and covers all aspects of writing, from how to start a book to how to promote a published book."

Killer Nashville also offers the Claymore Award for the author of the best beginning (up to 50 pages) of an unpublished manuscript not currently under contract.

altThe "possible prize," said Summie, is a publishing contract. Many authors have received publishing contracts through contacts made at Killer Nashville.

Registration for the Claymore is $35; entries must be postmarked by May 20.

Killer Nashville's two guests of honor are Donald Bain, top left, and Robert Dugoni, at left.

Bain has written more than 100 books, including 37 original novels based on the television series, Murder, She Wrote.

Dugoni's 2006 debut The Jury Master became a New York Times bestseller. Dugoni's other novels include Damage Control, Wrongful Death, and Bodily Harm.

Murder One, Dugoni's fifth novel, is due out in June.

Advance registration is $160 by May 29; the price goes up to $170 after May 29.

Go to Nashville for the conference, stay for the music.

Xav ID 577
2011-05-15 10:27:04

altMost people who visit Nashville come for the great music that seems to pour out of every bar and hole in the wall.

But the conference Killer Nashville, now in its sixth year, gives people another reason to visit the area.

Killer Nashville, scheduled for Aug. 26-28, is billed as a "conference for Thriller, Suspense & Mystery Writers and Lovers."

But Rick Summie, who's helping to get the word out about Killer Nashville, says the conference "is for writers of any genre and covers all aspects of writing, from how to start a book to how to promote a published book."

Killer Nashville also offers the Claymore Award for the author of the best beginning (up to 50 pages) of an unpublished manuscript not currently under contract.

altThe "possible prize," said Summie, is a publishing contract. Many authors have received publishing contracts through contacts made at Killer Nashville.

Registration for the Claymore is $35; entries must be postmarked by May 20.

Killer Nashville's two guests of honor are Donald Bain, top left, and Robert Dugoni, at left.

Bain has written more than 100 books, including 37 original novels based on the television series, Murder, She Wrote.

Dugoni's 2006 debut The Jury Master became a New York Times bestseller. Dugoni's other novels include Damage Control, Wrongful Death, and Bodily Harm.

Murder One, Dugoni's fifth novel, is due out in June.

Advance registration is $160 by May 29; the price goes up to $170 after May 29.

Go to Nashville for the conference, stay for the music.

Ace Atkins to Continue Spenser Novels
Oline Cogdill

altWhen Robert B. Parker died suddenly on Jan. 18, 2010, the best-selling author passed away at his desk, working on a novel.

Parker was 77 and his career spanned more than 45 novels, including his popular series about the Boston private investigator Spenser (39 novels since 1974) and Massachusetts police chief Jesse Stone (nine novels since 1997).

Parker had often been called the dean of American crime fiction. In 2002, he was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. Parker's legacy of novels will continue thanks to a deal struck by the Robert B. Parker Estate and his long-time publisher G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Crime fiction novelist Ace Atkins, top, will continue the Spenser series, with the first novel to be published in the Spring 2012.

altMichael Brandman, producer and screenwriter of the CBS-TV “Jesse Stone” movies, will take over the Jesse Stone novels, with the first due out in September 2011.

Having a novelist continue the series of a deceased author isn't exactly new. The characters and plots established in the novels of the late Robert Ludlum and the late Lawrence Sanders have continued under new authors.

But the quality of those legacy novels has been mixed.

But in this case, I think the two authors will bring a fresh perspective to Spenser and Stone.

Brandman has shown a real affinity for Parker's work and has been a long-time collaborator of the author. A Hollywood producer and screenwriter, Brandman along with actor Tom Selleck co-wrote and produced the CBS television movies featuring Selleck as Jesse Stone. Those films include Stone Cold, Night Passage, Sea Change and Death in Paradise. Brandman also produced three adaptations of Parker’s Spenser novels for the A&E network.

Brandman’s first Jesse Stone novel will be Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues, scheduled to be published on September 13, 2011.

altBut I think Atkins' interpretation of Spenser will be the most exciting.

A former journalist who was a crime reporter for the Tampa Tribune, Atkins was 27 years old when his first novel was published. Crossroad Blues was the first of four novels about Nick Travers, an ex-New Orleans Saint turned blues historian at Tulane University.

But Atkins, the author of nine novels, found a real niche in his historical fiction such as White Shadow, about the 1950s murder of a Tampa mobster, Devil's Garden about the 1920s comedian Fatty Arbuckle and Infamous, which looked at the 1930s gangster Machine Gun Kelly.

altAtkins' novel The Ranger, due out in June, will debut his Quinn Colson series. Colson is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who returns home to north Mississippi to fight corruption on his home turf.

Then it's on to Spenser.

Atkins said he has been a fan of Parker's novels since high school.

"Reading Spenser is what inspired me to become a crime novelist," Atkins said. "Years ago, my mom waited in a long line at a booksigning in Atlanta to get a copy of Double Deuce signed by Parker for my 21st birthday. The inscription he wrote is when I first learned Bob's nickname was Ace. It's still one of my prized possessions. For me and a ton of readers, Spenser occupies that fourth chair at a table shared by Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Lew Archer. There are plenty of imitations but only one Spenser.”

Parker's last few completed novels were published posthumously by Putnam. The final work, Sixkill, the 39th entry in the Spenser series will hit the bookstores on May 3.

Parker also wrote several well-received westerns and other crime and suspense works. He created the female detective Sunny Randall for actress Helen Hunt who wanted him to write a part for her to play. Although the movie version was never filmed, his publisher the character and asked Parker to continue the series, according to the New York Times.

Xav ID 577
2011-05-08 10:28:42

altWhen Robert B. Parker died suddenly on Jan. 18, 2010, the best-selling author passed away at his desk, working on a novel.

Parker was 77 and his career spanned more than 45 novels, including his popular series about the Boston private investigator Spenser (39 novels since 1974) and Massachusetts police chief Jesse Stone (nine novels since 1997).

Parker had often been called the dean of American crime fiction. In 2002, he was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. Parker's legacy of novels will continue thanks to a deal struck by the Robert B. Parker Estate and his long-time publisher G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Crime fiction novelist Ace Atkins, top, will continue the Spenser series, with the first novel to be published in the Spring 2012.

altMichael Brandman, producer and screenwriter of the CBS-TV “Jesse Stone” movies, will take over the Jesse Stone novels, with the first due out in September 2011.

Having a novelist continue the series of a deceased author isn't exactly new. The characters and plots established in the novels of the late Robert Ludlum and the late Lawrence Sanders have continued under new authors.

But the quality of those legacy novels has been mixed.

But in this case, I think the two authors will bring a fresh perspective to Spenser and Stone.

Brandman has shown a real affinity for Parker's work and has been a long-time collaborator of the author. A Hollywood producer and screenwriter, Brandman along with actor Tom Selleck co-wrote and produced the CBS television movies featuring Selleck as Jesse Stone. Those films include Stone Cold, Night Passage, Sea Change and Death in Paradise. Brandman also produced three adaptations of Parker’s Spenser novels for the A&E network.

Brandman’s first Jesse Stone novel will be Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues, scheduled to be published on September 13, 2011.

altBut I think Atkins' interpretation of Spenser will be the most exciting.

A former journalist who was a crime reporter for the Tampa Tribune, Atkins was 27 years old when his first novel was published. Crossroad Blues was the first of four novels about Nick Travers, an ex-New Orleans Saint turned blues historian at Tulane University.

But Atkins, the author of nine novels, found a real niche in his historical fiction such as White Shadow, about the 1950s murder of a Tampa mobster, Devil's Garden about the 1920s comedian Fatty Arbuckle and Infamous, which looked at the 1930s gangster Machine Gun Kelly.

altAtkins' novel The Ranger, due out in June, will debut his Quinn Colson series. Colson is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who returns home to north Mississippi to fight corruption on his home turf.

Then it's on to Spenser.

Atkins said he has been a fan of Parker's novels since high school.

"Reading Spenser is what inspired me to become a crime novelist," Atkins said. "Years ago, my mom waited in a long line at a booksigning in Atlanta to get a copy of Double Deuce signed by Parker for my 21st birthday. The inscription he wrote is when I first learned Bob's nickname was Ace. It's still one of my prized possessions. For me and a ton of readers, Spenser occupies that fourth chair at a table shared by Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Lew Archer. There are plenty of imitations but only one Spenser.”

Parker's last few completed novels were published posthumously by Putnam. The final work, Sixkill, the 39th entry in the Spenser series will hit the bookstores on May 3.

Parker also wrote several well-received westerns and other crime and suspense works. He created the female detective Sunny Randall for actress Helen Hunt who wanted him to write a part for her to play. Although the movie version was never filmed, his publisher the character and asked Parker to continue the series, according to the New York Times.

The Dead Detective
Betty Webb

Almost all of the Christians in The Dead Detective, by William Heffernan, especially the televangelist who runs the First Assembly of Jesus Christ the Lord, are downright nasty. When Tampa detective Harry Doyle begins working on the case of a beautiful woman found murdered a Florida swamp with the word EVIL carved into her face, Doyle suspects that the malevolent, self-righteous flock led by the slimy Reverend John Waldo called for her death because of her sexually predatory ways. Doyle is termed “the dead detective” because as a child he and his brother were murdered by his lunatic mother; his brother stayed dead, Doyle was resuscitated. Now it appears his murderous mother (another evil Christian) is about to be released from prison on parole—and she’s promised to kill him again. Doyle is an engaging protagonist and the plot is intriguing, but The Dead Detective is marred by such an unfailingly negative view of Christianity and Christians that it seems to verge on religious intolerance.

Teri Duerr
2011-05-04 17:16:10

Almost all of the Christians in The Dead Detective, by William Heffernan, especially the televangelist who runs the First Assembly of Jesus Christ the Lord, are downright nasty. When Tampa detective Harry Doyle begins working on the case of a beautiful woman found murdered a Florida swamp with the word EVIL carved into her face, Doyle suspects that the malevolent, self-righteous flock led by the slimy Reverend John Waldo called for her death because of her sexually predatory ways. Doyle is termed “the dead detective” because as a child he and his brother were murdered by his lunatic mother; his brother stayed dead, Doyle was resuscitated. Now it appears his murderous mother (another evil Christian) is about to be released from prison on parole—and she’s promised to kill him again. Doyle is an engaging protagonist and the plot is intriguing, but The Dead Detective is marred by such an unfailingly negative view of Christianity and Christians that it seems to verge on religious intolerance.

The Templar Conspiracy
Lynne Maxwell

Never let it be said that Dan Brown holds a monopoly on thrillers involving vicious secret societies, religion, and mad chases. We all know by now that Brown has spawned a veritable industry of such books, and apparently for good reason—readers love them. While I will not take on the formidable Brown in this column, I will introduce you to several titles that are certainly progeny of this vastly influential and contagious author. Then, assuming that an antidote to all of this conspiracy and fury would be welcome, I will offer you two series debuts with a more sedate, albeit equally intricate, focus. Hold onto your hats—and catch your breath.

In Paul Christopher’s The Templar Conspiracy the assassination of the Pope sets the pace, and what a furious pace it is, as the perpetrator and motive are sought worldwide. Fortunately, John Holliday, a retired Army Ranger, has the acumen to penetrate the mystery and to launch the chase. Ultimately, Holliday unmasks and undoes the surprising mastermind behind the scheme. One thing that won’t be a surprise, however, is the fact, divulged by the title itself, that a Templar conspiracy underlies it all. Of course, there is a great deal more to the plot and narrative, but I will leave it to you to discover.

Teri Duerr
2011-05-04 17:20:53

Never let it be said that Dan Brown holds a monopoly on thrillers involving vicious secret societies, religion, and mad chases. We all know by now that Brown has spawned a veritable industry of such books, and apparently for good reason—readers love them. While I will not take on the formidable Brown in this column, I will introduce you to several titles that are certainly progeny of this vastly influential and contagious author. Then, assuming that an antidote to all of this conspiracy and fury would be welcome, I will offer you two series debuts with a more sedate, albeit equally intricate, focus. Hold onto your hats—and catch your breath.

In Paul Christopher’s The Templar Conspiracy the assassination of the Pope sets the pace, and what a furious pace it is, as the perpetrator and motive are sought worldwide. Fortunately, John Holliday, a retired Army Ranger, has the acumen to penetrate the mystery and to launch the chase. Ultimately, Holliday unmasks and undoes the surprising mastermind behind the scheme. One thing that won’t be a surprise, however, is the fact, divulged by the title itself, that a Templar conspiracy underlies it all. Of course, there is a great deal more to the plot and narrative, but I will leave it to you to discover.

The Templar’s Code
Lynne Maxwell

The Templars make their next unnerving appearance (will they ever fade away?) in C.M. Palov’s The Templar’s Code. Characterizable as “Indiana Jones meets the DaVinci Code,” Palov’s thriller begins with a lecture by a noted archeologist who is intercepted afterward by a very frightened young man, who quickly establishes himself as a scholar in his own right, and claims to have discovered the location of symbols leading to a Templar treasure. Before he can fully articulate his claim, however, he is swiftly assassinated. The fact that he was targeted for assassination, naturally, lends credence to his story, and Caedmon Aisquith, accompanied by his paramour and assistant, Edie Miller, spring into action. While they are hot on the trail of the symbols and treasure, the assassin is carefully tracking them and positioning himself for the kill.

Since The Templar’s Code weighs in at a whopping 544 pages, you know that there are complications that continue to advance the plot and propel the chase. In addition to pulling off a clever plot in a satisfying narrative, Palov makes a significant contribution to the Dan Brown genre by focusing on the complex psychological profile of the assassin, thereby producing a fully developed character. Since this is not the central ambition of most thriller writers, who are driven by engaging plot structures, Palov offers us refreshing character insight. So, if you are in the mood for reading a Templar thriller, this one may well be the answer to your quest.

Teri Duerr
2011-05-04 17:25:29

The Templars make their next unnerving appearance (will they ever fade away?) in C.M. Palov’s The Templar’s Code. Characterizable as “Indiana Jones meets the DaVinci Code,” Palov’s thriller begins with a lecture by a noted archeologist who is intercepted afterward by a very frightened young man, who quickly establishes himself as a scholar in his own right, and claims to have discovered the location of symbols leading to a Templar treasure. Before he can fully articulate his claim, however, he is swiftly assassinated. The fact that he was targeted for assassination, naturally, lends credence to his story, and Caedmon Aisquith, accompanied by his paramour and assistant, Edie Miller, spring into action. While they are hot on the trail of the symbols and treasure, the assassin is carefully tracking them and positioning himself for the kill.

Since The Templar’s Code weighs in at a whopping 544 pages, you know that there are complications that continue to advance the plot and propel the chase. In addition to pulling off a clever plot in a satisfying narrative, Palov makes a significant contribution to the Dan Brown genre by focusing on the complex psychological profile of the assassin, thereby producing a fully developed character. Since this is not the central ambition of most thriller writers, who are driven by engaging plot structures, Palov offers us refreshing character insight. So, if you are in the mood for reading a Templar thriller, this one may well be the answer to your quest.