Types of Material
Mystery Scene

Articles

We are interested in articles on a variety of topics within the crime & mystery genre. These include: essays on various writers, articles on book collecting, appreciations of particular books or subgenres of mystery fiction, biographical sketches of interesting people in the mystery world, historical pieces, articles on film/television/radio, etc., opinion pieces, and the occasional rant. Payment is negotiated with the editor in advance; payment is upon publication. Length: 800 to 2,000 words.

Interviews

Mystery Scene offers a wide variety of interviews. In addition to novelists, people we would particularly like to chat with: film/tv writers; film/tv directors and producers; book collectors; biographers; playwrights; librarians and museum curators of mystery-oriented collections.

Interviews may range from 800 to 1,000 words; shorter lengths are preferred. The subject should be introduced in a biographical preface. For interviews with writers, please include a booklist with publication years noted. The format may be in "Q&A" style or in article style with quotes. Query the editor in advance for approval, payment details and possible help with contacting interview subjects. [PLEASE NOTE that we receive more interview queries than any other type of correspondence. If you're trying to break into Mystery Scene, then an article would have a better chance.]

Book Reviews

The length of the reviews should range from 100-250 words. By publishing short, but sharp, reviews we hope to cover as many as possible of the 800+ mystery titles published annually. We supply the books and a small payment. When making inquiries, please include two sample reviews (with publication details) and mention what types of mysteries you prefer.

Please query Teri Duer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New Books Pieces

Authors of upcoming books are encouraged to send in short essays about their new titles. These essays are meant to entertain and intrigue potential readers, so be creative. Some examples: real-life inspirations for plot and characters; unusual research; issues raised in the book and why they were of interest to you; the story's locale or time period.

Humor is good, detailed plot summaries are not. Please include publication details (publisher, price, month of publication). These essays should be submitted via e-mail. Please provide author photo, book jacket, and any other photo that could accompany the essay by email. Any photo taken with a digital camera should be fine. If you are scanning a photo, use 300 dpi resolution.

There is no payment for these pieces. The length should range from 400 to 500 words. Please query This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Letters To The Editor and Miscellaneous Items

If you'd like to send correspondence for our "Letters" section, please clearly mark your submission as intended for that section. We'd love to hear from you! Miscellaneous trivia, poems, jokes, quotes & anecdotes are always welcome and will be credited if you remember to identify yourself. (Full names, please.) We also appreciate receiving news items and pertinent press releases.

As a service to our readers we will print information on Book Club Guides in our "Letters" section. Authors should This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. information to the editor—including the contact information you want printed.

Admin
2009-10-01 19:52:14

Articles

We are interested in articles on a variety of topics within the crime & mystery genre. These include: essays on various writers, articles on book collecting, appreciations of particular books or subgenres of mystery fiction, biographical sketches of interesting people in the mystery world, historical pieces, articles on film/television/radio, etc., opinion pieces, and the occasional rant. Payment is negotiated with the editor in advance; payment is upon publication. Length: 800 to 2,000 words.

Interviews

Mystery Scene offers a wide variety of interviews. In addition to novelists, people we would particularly like to chat with: film/tv writers; film/tv directors and producers; book collectors; biographers; playwrights; librarians and museum curators of mystery-oriented collections.

Interviews may range from 800 to 1,000 words; shorter lengths are preferred. The subject should be introduced in a biographical preface. For interviews with writers, please include a booklist with publication years noted. The format may be in "Q&A" style or in article style with quotes. Query the editor in advance for approval, payment details and possible help with contacting interview subjects. [PLEASE NOTE that we receive more interview queries than any other type of correspondence. If you're trying to break into Mystery Scene, then an article would have a better chance.]

Book Reviews

The length of the reviews should range from 100-250 words. By publishing short, but sharp, reviews we hope to cover as many as possible of the 800+ mystery titles published annually. We supply the books and a small payment. When making inquiries, please include two sample reviews (with publication details) and mention what types of mysteries you prefer.

Please query Teri Duer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New Books Pieces

Authors of upcoming books are encouraged to send in short essays about their new titles. These essays are meant to entertain and intrigue potential readers, so be creative. Some examples: real-life inspirations for plot and characters; unusual research; issues raised in the book and why they were of interest to you; the story's locale or time period.

Humor is good, detailed plot summaries are not. Please include publication details (publisher, price, month of publication). These essays should be submitted via e-mail. Please provide author photo, book jacket, and any other photo that could accompany the essay by email. Any photo taken with a digital camera should be fine. If you are scanning a photo, use 300 dpi resolution.

There is no payment for these pieces. The length should range from 400 to 500 words. Please query Brian Skupin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Letters To The Editor and Miscellaneous Items

If you'd like to send correspondence for our "Letters" section, please clearly mark your submission as intended for that section. We'd love to hear from you! Miscellaneous trivia, poems, jokes, quotes & anecdotes are always welcome and will be credited if you remember to identify yourself. (Full names, please.) We also appreciate receiving news items and pertinent press releases.

As a service to our readers we will print information on Book Club Guides in our "Letters" section. Authors should This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. information to the editor—including the contact information you want printed.

The Trans-Atlantic Eye
Adrian Muller

With Britain's rich tradition in crime fiction, it is surprising that this organisation is only just celebrating its 50th year. Its American counterpart, the Mystery Writers of America, banded together in March 1945, taking their inspiration from the British Detection Club. The latter was founded in 1928, but limited its membership to only a chosen few. The MWA from the very start allowed all writers of mystery fiction to join.

It wasn't until eight years later, on the 5th of November: Guy Fawkes Night in England: that John Creasey convened a meeting at the National Liberal Club to form an organisation along the lines of its American equal. According to the minutes of that day those present, all authors of crime stories, were: Josephine Bell, John Bude, John Creasey, Ernest Dudley, Elizabeth Ferrars, Andrew Garve, Bruce Graeme, Leonard Gribble, T.C.H. Jacobs, Nigel Morland, Colin Robertson and Julian Symons.

The notes go on to say that "it was unanimously agreed that those present should found forthwith an association of crime writers, the specific purpose of which should be to raise the prestige and fortunes of mystery, detective story and crime writing and writers generally." And so the Crime Writers' Association came to be.

Chairing the association through its first three years was John Creasey who, to this day, is the only person to have presided over both the CWA and the MWA. (Creasey was MWA president from 1966-1967.) MWA also presented the author with a Grand Master Award in 1969. That Creasey had time for anything other than writing is impressive: the St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers credits him with 24 pseudonyms and 8 pages of book entries!

Over the years the association has opened up its membership to non-British authors published in the U.K., agents, editors and other professionals in the field. Most people of note have become members of the CWA, however, Agatha Christie, arguably the best known British crime-writer, never joined. When asked if she would like to become a member she replied that she was at a time in her life where she felt happier resigning from things rather than joining them. She also said that, "what you want in your association are the up-and-comings, not those sliding happily down to the grave.Ó The Christie Estate, however, has been a generous benefactor of the CWA over the years.

Soon after its founding a newsletter came into being. Initially called CWA News, it was later renamed Red Herrings, and is only available to CWA members.

One thing that the association does publish for the general public are anthologies. The first was called Butcher's Dozen, and the most recent instalment, Mysterious Pleasures, appeared earlier this year, in time to celebrate the anniversary. It was edited by Martin Edwards (author of the crime novels featuring Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin), and the contributors include Robert Barnard, John Creasey, Lindsey Davis, Colin Dexter, Dick Francis, Val McDermid, Peter Lovesey, Ian Rankin, and Ellis Peters. Each story is by a member who has won a Diamond or a Gold Dagger Award, or served as Chairman of the CWA. (Some have done all three.)

The CWA Dagger Award was first presented in 1955 to Winston Graham for The Little Walls. Initially there was only one award, that for Best Crime Novel. Since then other awards have been added, including the Diamond Dagger for lifetime contribution to crime writing. Visit <www.thecwa.co.uk> for a full list of past winners.
Besides John Creasey, other luminaries such as H.R.F. Keating, Dick Francis, Peter Lovesey, Ian Rankin and Lindsey Davis have chaired the CWA. The present Chairman is Hillary Bonner, and she passes the reins to historic crime novelist Michael Jecks in early 2004. Her last official duty will be to hand the 2004 recipient of the Cartier Diamond Dagger their award at a ceremony in May. For details of the winner see the next issue of Mystery Scene.

Poirot Complete In the run up to Christmas in the U.K., David Suchet appeared in two more feature length television dramas of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot novels (Five Little Pigs and Sad Cypress). If fans are chuffed to hear that two further episodes are currently being filmed (including Death on the Nile), they will be thrilled to hear that Suchet doesn't want to stop until all the books featuring the Belgian sleuth have been adapted. Says the actor, "I've done nearly 50 so far and there are 16 more to go. I think everyone's keen to do more, although nothing's been spoken about it directly as yet.Ó The CWA Debut Dagger This award, for unpublished books, was set up to encourage new writers. It is sponsored by Orion and awarded on the basis of one chapter and a synopsis.

As you will see below, Kirsty Evans was the 2003 recipient of the Debut Dagger. The 26-year-old Australian was one of the hundreds of contestants from more than half a dozen countries who entered the competition run by the British Crime Writers' Association. Evans, a finalist in 2002, turned down offers from several agencies to sign up with Gregory & Co, the company that represents Val McDermid and Minette Walters. So far all the winners: and many of the short-listed authors: have gone on to be published. Ed Wright, the 2001 winner from America, saw his Clea's Moon hit the bookshelves on both sides of the Atlantic last year. Margaret Dumas, a 2003 nominee from the U.S. has since been contacted by several agents, and her manuscript, Speak Now, has received an offer from an American publishing house.

The Debut Dagger competition is judged by top agents and crime editors from well-respected publishing houses and will be held again this year. Entries will be accepted from 1 March to 31 August, 2004. For details of how to avoid publishers' slush-piles and have an opportunity to become a published author, visit the Debut Dagger page at <www.thecwa.co.uk>.

Kirsty Evans, The Cuckoo

Also nominated were:

Duncan Brewer, The Woman From Smyrna

Sandra Charan, The Third Room

Margaret Dumas, Speak Now

Avriel Geneson, Speak No Evil

Judy Larkin, Without Apparent Reason

Peter Wynn Norris, The Long Train

Bryon Quertermous, Lunchbox Hero

Chris Rose, Driftlines

Melissa Kate Rowberry, The Mouths of Men

Maria E. Schneider, Soul of the Desert

Michael Shenton, The Amazing GM Dog

Betty Jacque, Days of Future Past

Otis Twelve, On the Albi

Visit the CWA website at <www.thecwa.co.uk>

Adrian Muller is a U.K. based freelance journalist and events organiser specialising in crime fiction. Email: <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.

Admin
2009-10-01 20:00:02

2003 Daggers

At a luncheon ceremony on Thursday, the 13th of November, 2003, the British Crime Writers' Association announced the winners of their annual Dagger Awards (see MS #82 for the winners). In addition to the usual awards a special one was presented to celebrate the CWA's 50th anniversary. The recipient was the association's founder, John Creasey. This was nothing short of a miracle because Creasey died in 1973, which might explain why he looked remarkably like Peter Lovesey.

Crippen & Landru Raising the Bar
Mark Terry

crippen_landru

A chat with Crippen and Landru's Douglas Greene on a decade of publishing Max Allan Collins, Marcia Muller, Peter Lovesey, Ed Hoch, and other great writers.

You could say that publisher Douglas Greene's career path began on a yellow brick road.

A bibliophile since childhood, Greene and his brother Dave had gathered a near-complete collection of Wizard of Oz works by L. Frank Baum. Realizing there was little left to acquire, they decided to auction off the entire collection, expecting it might go for 30 or 40 thousand dollars. "We decided we could use the money for our kids' college tuition," says Greene.

The collection went for $175,000. After paying taxes, the auction house and putting the kids through school, Greene found he still had three or four thousand dollars left over.

So in 1994, the Old Dominion University history professor started a small press devoted to mystery fiction and named after two murderers, H.H. Crippen and Henri Landru. Greene was already the author of an Edgar-nominated biography of John Dickson Carr, so he debuted with a collection of Carr's short stories. C & L's second book was a collection of short stories by Marcia Muller.

The pattern was set. Crippen & Landru, comprised of Greene, along with his wife Sandi and their son Eric, would be devoted to publishing single-author short story collections.

collins_kissesofdeathMax Allan Collins, whose collection Kisses of Death: A Nathan Heller Casebook appeared in 2001, says, "Mystery writers and fans alike owe Doug Greene and C&L a great debt of thanks. Without them, precious little of the short fiction of the last thirty years would be preserved in book form, certainly not in 'single author' collections. The books are classy-looking and Doug's scholarship in attaching bibliographies adds a touch that is at once nicely fan-ish and entirely professional...two qualities that don't come together that often."

In the ten years since opening its literary doors, C&L has published over 50 books by such mystery stars as Marcia Muller, Peter Lovesey, Ed Hoch, Joe Gores and Lawrence Block. "If anybody had told me that we'd last ten years, I don't know if I would have believed it," says Doug Greene. "The surprising thing is we're still around and increasing our market."

Crippen & Landru's "Regular Series" is made up primarily of works by contemporary mystery writers. The books are published in two forms: Signed, numbered, clothbound, limited to 175-300 copies, each with a page tipped-in of the author's typescript or with an additional story in a standalone pamphlet. The Regular Series is also available, unsigned, in trade softcover.

Eric Greene handles the "Lost Classics Series," available in cloth and trade softcover, which are collections of stories by vintage authors. So far, there are ten volumes devoted to works by writers such as Craig Rice, Peter Godfrey and Gerald Kersh. There are more on the way, too, including collections by Erle Stanley Gardner, Gladys Mitchell and Rafael Sabatini.

By all accounts, authors love working with Crippen & Landru. Margaret Maron, whose second collection, Suitable for Hanging will be out in 2004, says, "I find Doug Greene such a pleasure to work with. He asks for my input, listens to what I have to say, and answers my letters even faster than members of my own family."

Author Jerry Healy, whose second collection, Cuddy Plus One, came out in June 2003, agrees. "I imagine the experience is a little like what Rex Stout would have encountered back when publishing was a smaller sorority-fraternity, and editors and publishers all knew well the authors on their lists."

"We try to be as professional as possible," says Greene, noting that they pay advances and always get their royalty statements out on time. He believes that the authors and agents respond well to their professionalism.

But why single-author short story collections? "Ever since Poe and Doyle," notes Greene, "short stories have been the purest form of the mystery story and our goal is to preserve these tales in permanent books. Most commercial presses do not want to publish short-story volumes, so many authors have come to us or we to them."

block_onenightstandsLawrence Block (The Lost Cases of Ed London and One Night Stands) says, "Doug and Sandi Greene have made a wonderful success of small press publishing by following the time-honored formula: Find a need and fill it. Their single-author collections of short stories, artfully compiled and attractively presented, are so designed as to appeal to the reader and the collector."

Greene notes that marketing is one of their trouble spots, but that they've had two very successful initiatives in this area. One involves publishing special collector's pamphlets in conjunction with the annual Malice Domestic conference. These pamphlets feature a short story by "The Ghost of Honor" a vintage author being honored by the convention or a short story by the winner of the Malice Domestic Lifetime Achievement Award. The pamphlets have proven to be excellent advertising for Crippen & Landru books.

Their other successful marketing tactic is to offer a subscriber list. Those on the list agree to automatically purchase all C&L books and in return receive a 20% discount. Notes Greene, "the 185 subscribers pretty much covers the press run costs."

Lawrence Block says, "I don't collect and rarely read these days, but I've been a Crippen & Landru subscriber almost from the beginning, and not only display the books with satisfaction but even go so far as to read them. Two books of my own are a part of the series, and I've never had a more satisfying publishing experience. They are, to the surprise of no one who knows them, a true pleasure to deal with."

But what does Douglas Greene think makes up a great short story? "Obviously character, setting and plot," says Greene, "but novels have (or should have) those characteristics as well. Unlike a novel, a short story has a single idea with a twist."

hoch_morethingsimpossibleEd Hoch, who has several collections of short stories published by C&L, including the upcoming More Things Impossible: The Second Casebook of Dr. Sam Hawthorne, says: "Doug Greene is a publisher who obviously loves books. He consults with his authors about all aspects of their books, including the cover art, with the result that Crippen & Landru publications are among the most attractive mystery series being produced today. At a time when publishers shy away from short story collections, he has proven that a market exists for a quality product."

Max Allan Collins agrees. "I prize my relationship with Doug, who is very easy to work with, but also demanding: it starts with the stories. He and C&L have set the bar so high that they have the field virtually to themselves."

To find out more about Crippen & Landru the murderers, and Crippen & Landru the publishers, visit their website at www.crippenlandru.com.

Mark Terry is a freelance writer and editor living in Oxford, Michigan. www.mark-terry.com.

Admin
2009-10-01 20:07:26

crippen_landru

A chat with Crippen and Landru's Douglas Greene on a decade of publishing Max Allan Collins, Marcia Muller, Peter Lovesey, Ed Hoch, and other great writers.

You could say that publisher Douglas Greene's career path began on a yellow brick road.

A bibliophile since childhood, Greene and his brother Dave had gathered a near-complete collection of Wizard of Oz works by L. Frank Baum. Realizing there was little left to acquire, they decided to auction off the entire collection, expecting it might go for 30 or 40 thousand dollars. "We decided we could use the money for our kids' college tuition," says Greene.

The collection went for $175,000. After paying taxes, the auction house and putting the kids through school, Greene found he still had three or four thousand dollars left over.

So in 1994, the Old Dominion University history professor started a small press devoted to mystery fiction and named after two murderers, H.H. Crippen and Henri Landru. Greene was already the author of an Edgar-nominated biography of John Dickson Carr, so he debuted with a collection of Carr's short stories. C & L's second book was a collection of short stories by Marcia Muller.

The pattern was set. Crippen & Landru, comprised of Greene, along with his wife Sandi and their son Eric, would be devoted to publishing single-author short story collections.

collins_kissesofdeathMax Allan Collins, whose collection Kisses of Death: A Nathan Heller Casebook appeared in 2001, says, "Mystery writers and fans alike owe Doug Greene and C&L a great debt of thanks. Without them, precious little of the short fiction of the last thirty years would be preserved in book form, certainly not in 'single author' collections. The books are classy-looking and Doug's scholarship in attaching bibliographies adds a touch that is at once nicely fan-ish and entirely professional...two qualities that don't come together that often."

In the ten years since opening its literary doors, C&L has published over 50 books by such mystery stars as Marcia Muller, Peter Lovesey, Ed Hoch, Joe Gores and Lawrence Block. "If anybody had told me that we'd last ten years, I don't know if I would have believed it," says Doug Greene. "The surprising thing is we're still around and increasing our market."

Crippen & Landru's "Regular Series" is made up primarily of works by contemporary mystery writers. The books are published in two forms: Signed, numbered, clothbound, limited to 175-300 copies, each with a page tipped-in of the author's typescript or with an additional story in a standalone pamphlet. The Regular Series is also available, unsigned, in trade softcover.

Eric Greene handles the "Lost Classics Series," available in cloth and trade softcover, which are collections of stories by vintage authors. So far, there are ten volumes devoted to works by writers such as Craig Rice, Peter Godfrey and Gerald Kersh. There are more on the way, too, including collections by Erle Stanley Gardner, Gladys Mitchell and Rafael Sabatini.

By all accounts, authors love working with Crippen & Landru. Margaret Maron, whose second collection, Suitable for Hanging will be out in 2004, says, "I find Doug Greene such a pleasure to work with. He asks for my input, listens to what I have to say, and answers my letters even faster than members of my own family."

Author Jerry Healy, whose second collection, Cuddy Plus One, came out in June 2003, agrees. "I imagine the experience is a little like what Rex Stout would have encountered back when publishing was a smaller sorority-fraternity, and editors and publishers all knew well the authors on their lists."

"We try to be as professional as possible," says Greene, noting that they pay advances and always get their royalty statements out on time. He believes that the authors and agents respond well to their professionalism.

But why single-author short story collections? "Ever since Poe and Doyle," notes Greene, "short stories have been the purest form of the mystery story and our goal is to preserve these tales in permanent books. Most commercial presses do not want to publish short-story volumes, so many authors have come to us or we to them."

block_onenightstandsLawrence Block (The Lost Cases of Ed London and One Night Stands) says, "Doug and Sandi Greene have made a wonderful success of small press publishing by following the time-honored formula: Find a need and fill it. Their single-author collections of short stories, artfully compiled and attractively presented, are so designed as to appeal to the reader and the collector."

Greene notes that marketing is one of their trouble spots, but that they've had two very successful initiatives in this area. One involves publishing special collector's pamphlets in conjunction with the annual Malice Domestic conference. These pamphlets feature a short story by "The Ghost of Honor" a vintage author being honored by the convention or a short story by the winner of the Malice Domestic Lifetime Achievement Award. The pamphlets have proven to be excellent advertising for Crippen & Landru books.

Their other successful marketing tactic is to offer a subscriber list. Those on the list agree to automatically purchase all C&L books and in return receive a 20% discount. Notes Greene, "the 185 subscribers pretty much covers the press run costs."

Lawrence Block says, "I don't collect and rarely read these days, but I've been a Crippen & Landru subscriber almost from the beginning, and not only display the books with satisfaction but even go so far as to read them. Two books of my own are a part of the series, and I've never had a more satisfying publishing experience. They are, to the surprise of no one who knows them, a true pleasure to deal with."

But what does Douglas Greene think makes up a great short story? "Obviously character, setting and plot," says Greene, "but novels have (or should have) those characteristics as well. Unlike a novel, a short story has a single idea with a twist."

hoch_morethingsimpossibleEd Hoch, who has several collections of short stories published by C&L, including the upcoming More Things Impossible: The Second Casebook of Dr. Sam Hawthorne, says: "Doug Greene is a publisher who obviously loves books. He consults with his authors about all aspects of their books, including the cover art, with the result that Crippen & Landru publications are among the most attractive mystery series being produced today. At a time when publishers shy away from short story collections, he has proven that a market exists for a quality product."

Max Allan Collins agrees. "I prize my relationship with Doug, who is very easy to work with, but also demanding: it starts with the stories. He and C&L have set the bar so high that they have the field virtually to themselves."

To find out more about Crippen & Landru the murderers, and Crippen & Landru the publishers, visit their website at www.crippenlandru.com.

Mark Terry is a freelance writer and editor living in Oxford, Michigan. www.mark-terry.com.

Policeman Lou and Policewoman Sue
Roberta Rogow

Lisa Desimini has the ultimate police procedural for the small set. Policeman Lou and Policewoman Sue are having a relatively quiet day in their small town that could be Anywhere, USA Between their breakfast of muffin and coffee at the local diner and their shared dinner at Sue's house, they keep the streets safe for the people of their precinct. They direct traffic, return a lost dog to its owner, ticket an illegally parked car, and chase a purse-snatcher, who is then read his rights and booked at the police station. It's a reassuring look at routine police work, with the solidly-drawn cops shown as doing an important job for their community, preferring a nice, quiet day to headline-grabbing heroics. A final page of safety tips for children adds to the value of the book in reinforcing a positive image of the police.

Teri Duerr
2009-10-01 20:16:32

Lisa Desimini has the ultimate police procedural for the small set. Policeman Lou and Policewoman Sue are having a relatively quiet day in their small town that could be Anywhere, USA Between their breakfast of muffin and coffee at the local diner and their shared dinner at Sue's house, they keep the streets safe for the people of their precinct. They direct traffic, return a lost dog to its owner, ticket an illegally parked car, and chase a purse-snatcher, who is then read his rights and booked at the police station. It's a reassuring look at routine police work, with the solidly-drawn cops shown as doing an important job for their community, preferring a nice, quiet day to headline-grabbing heroics. A final page of safety tips for children adds to the value of the book in reinforcing a positive image of the police.

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed No
Jon L. Breen

WAM does not venture to evaluate recipes, but the following are some of the more intriguing dishes on offer: Glue Hawaii Sandwich (Daniel Klein), Watson's Favorite Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Biscuits (Patricia Guiver), Jesse Ascencio's Cultural Assimilation Cheeseburger (Kent Braithwaite), Eintopfgericht Von Ratteriesse (Richard A. Lupoff), Aunt Maggie's Three-Secret Steak and Kidney Pudding (Pip Granger), Justinian's Minimalist Egg Curry (Mary Reed and Eric Mayer), Mma Ramotswe's Boiled Pumpkin with Botswana Ostrich (Alexander McCall Smith), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers Chocolate Pod Cake (Lou Allin). A crossword puzzle accompanies Nero Blanc's recipe for Deviled Eggs. Among the bigger names contributing are Elizabeth Peters, John Harvey, Elizabeth George, George Pelecanos, Robert Barnard, and Dick Francis. A few non-contemporaries turn up, including mixed drink instructions by James Bond and Philip Marlowe and a breakfast sequence from David Dodge's Bullets for the Bridegroom (1944).

The only index is to the authors. A portion of the royalties go to a charity called From the Wholesaler to the Hungry.

McGilligan, Patrick.

Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light.

New York: ReganBooks/HarperCollins, 2003. 850p. Illus., bibl., index. $39.95

This is the largest and most detailed biography of the famed director of suspense films and should rank as the standard life for years to come. McGilligan frequently draws on earlier sources: notably the major previous biographies, John Russell Taylor's authorized Hitch (1978) and Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius (1983); Francois Truffaut's book length interview Hitchcock (1967); and David Freeman's account of the director's final unfinished project, The Last Days of Alfred Hitchcock (1984): but much of the book is based on original research in primary sources, including interviews with those who knew and worked with Hitchcock. The result is a full professional and personal portrait that will probably only enhance most readers' admiration for the subject, without ignoring his occasional petulance and usually (but not always) benign kinkiness. Many may not have realized that this archetypal cinematic auteur was a writer as well as a director, demonstrated in the playful short-short stories he contributed to an advertising house organ in 1919 and 1920. Though he never took a writing credit on his films after the first few years, he was the guiding force behind the development of his scripts and often did some of the actual writing.

Among the biographer's most laudable attributes from the mystery buff's point of view is his knowledge of and respect for the writers, from Mrs. Belloc Lowndes and Ethel Lina White to Robert Bloch and Victor Canning, who provided Hitch his rich source material.

A section of plates includes photos from Hitchcock's life and career, some but not most familiar from other sources. The last hundred pages include a 35-page annotated filmography; four pages of TV credits, listing only those episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour directed by the man himself; six pages of sources and acknowledgements; 20 pages of notes; two pages of reprint permissions; and a 32-page index.

One minor complaint: Brigitte Aubert, in her memorable role in To Catch a Thief, spoke perfectly grammatical, understandable, and proper English, albeit with a pronounced French accent, and was no more guilty of "pidgin English" than Charlie Chan.

Layman, Richard, ed.

Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon: A Documentary Volume. (Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 280.)

Detroit: Gale, 2003. xxv, 429p. Illus., bibl., index. $270

This large-format reference source gathers in one convenient place a remarkable amount of material: book excerpts, periodical articles and reviews, letters: on Hammett, his most famous book, and its various media adaptations and spin-offs. Every relevant biographical detail and critical viewpoint is here, together with copious illustrations. Among the writers represented are Pinkerton historian James D. Horan, daughter Jo Hammett, biographer William F. Nolan, Black Mask editor Joseph T. Shaw, crime writer Joe Gores, and numerous scholars, critics, and reviewers.

One of the best features for the general mystery buff is the sampling of Hammett's often caustic, sometimes indulgent, usually good-humored reviews of crime fiction. In a 1927 issue of The Saturday Review of Literature, he couples his often-quoted demolition of S.S. Van Dine's The Benson Murder Case with sarcastic dismissal of Sydney Horler's False Face and faint praise for J.S. Fletcher's Sea Fog. Later that year, he ridicules two slightly remembered writers (Carolyn Wells and William LeQueux) but praises novels by two utterly forgotten ones: Allen Upward's The House of Sin and Foster Johns's The Victory Murders. Writing in the New York Evening Post in 1930, Hammett found Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Door implausible but readable, Philip MacDonald's The Noose " the neatest plot I have seen in months," and Earl Derr Biggers's Charlie Chan Carries On unfinishable: he laid it aside before Chan, whose "laborious quaintness" he had previously blamed for his "inability ever to finish one of Mr. Biggers's products," had even appeared.

The list of selected publications of The Maltese Falcon includes dozens of U.S. editions plus foreign editions in about 30 countries, followed by a four-page secondary bibliography.

The actual text ends on page 346, the rest of the volume consisting of a cumulative index to Dictionary of Literary Biography and its related series.

Peters, Elizabeth, and Kristen Whitbread, eds.

Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium.

New York: Morrow, 2003. 335p. Illus., bibl. $29.95

The series about Amelia Peabody, her husband Radcliffe Emerson, and their family now occupies 15 volumes, from the classic Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975) to Children of the Storm (2003), and so far covers 35 years (1884 to 1919) in the lives of its characters. This coffee-table book, with copious black and white illustrations appropriate to the period, should delight fans of the series and other readers interested in Egyptology and the Victorian era. Beginning with an excerpt from Emerson's 1885 journal, the book takes a Sherlockian approach: that is, the Emerson family are treated as real people in an otherwise non-fictional history.

Editor Peters also contributes under her two other bylines: as Barbara Mertz, a chapter on Victorian attitudes to other cultures; and as Barbara Michaels, a sort of quiz on Victorian popular fiction referred to in the Peabody journals, as the series of novels are called throughout the text. (Question: Isn't Gargery, the Dickens character for whom the Emerson butler is named, a character in Great Expectations rather than David Copperfield?) Of the other essayists, Elizabeth Foxwell (on Amelia's relationship to the women's movement of her time) is the most likely to be familiar to mystery buffs.

Other articles discuss servants, fashions, childrearing, technology, and music of the Emersons' time. The volume also includes separate alphabetical sections identifying and defining references in the journals to people and animals, places, foreign words and phrases, Egyptological terms, and ancient Egyptians human and divine. The two-page bibliography is wholly non-fictional.

Swanson, Jean, and Dean James.

The Dick Francis Companion.

New York: Berkley, 2003. xv, 206p. Bibl. $14

A three-page biography of the jockey turned crime writer is followed by a 10-page interview conducted in 2002; synopses of about a page each of Francis's novels, arranged chronologically from Dead Cert (1962) to Shattered (2000), followed by brief summaries of the stories in Field of Thirteen (1998); a directory of human characters, the longest section at over 100 pages and of doubtful reference value (does anybody actually look up one-shot characters even in the work of an author as popular as Francis?); a "gazetteer" of locales; a one-page listing of websites on British horse racing; a 13-page directory of equine characters; a brief section of first lines and other quotations; and finally (and of greatest reference value) a 10-page bibliography, including the subject's books, film and video adaptations, awards, secondary books and articles, and a three-page listing of websites, some about crime fiction generally but most specifically related to Francis. It's all as efficiently done as one would expect from the authors of several earlier reference works, but I never find this sort of book as interesting or useful as a biography or critical study, both of which already exist on the subject. The authors hedge too much when they state in their introduction that many of the subject's books are involved with horse racing: in fact, all of them are, to a greater or lesser degree.

Jon L. Breen is the mystery critic for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and twice winner of the coveted Edgar Award. His most recent book is Kill the Umpire: The Calls of Ed Gorgon, a short story collection from Crippen & Landru.

Admin
2009-10-01 20:26:13

Grossman, Jo, and Robert Weibezahl, eds. A Second Helping of Murder: More Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers. Scottsdale: Poisoned Pen, 2003. xii, 210p. Index. $19.95

If there is ever a new book edition of What About Murder?, I may have to add a separate section for cookbooks. This one is a sequel to A Taste of Murder, first published in 1999 and recently reprinted by Poisoned Pen. With one exception (the editors challenge you to find it), none of the contributors are repeaters from the first volume. The recipes are arranged in menu order from "The Set-Up" (appetizers) to "The Proof is in the Pudding" (desserts). Most entries run one page, followed by a brief biographical note on the author.

Csi Fiction Is Reality on Tv
Lee Goldberg

As a veteran homicide detective I know likes to say, Star Trek is more realistic than CSI

csi_cast

CSI is fictional. The way the characters behave, the scope of their investigatory responsibilities, their legal authority in a case, their relationship to the police detectives, and the lightning-fast scientific results they achieve have absolutely no basis in reality.

But success is its own reality to television network executives. So while you and I may know CSI is fiction, it's real to the people who develop TV shows. If you're writing about crime on television, you're required now to incorporate the world according to CSI into your fictional universe.

The best and most obvious example of the inescapable CSI-ification of cop shows is the venerable Law & Order. If you look at the early episodes of Law & Order, there isn't a single CSI tech in sight. At most, one of the detectives might refer to information that "just came in from the lab." Now, in every episode, there's a talkative CSI tech at each crime scene and the detectives have to make at least one obligatory stop at CSI headquarters to get a multi-media briefing from some colorful tech in a lab coat. I the detectives didn't acknowledge the story-telling liberties and dramatic devices of CSI, the crime story just wouldn't be real or contemporary or "cutting edge"—well, not to network executives, anyway.

I once wrote a pilot, a sample episode of a proposed murder mystery series, for one of the big three networks. The first note I received told me to add a regular CSI character to the show, even though the series concept had nothing to do with that aspect of homicide investigation. The network's argument, of course, was that the show "didn't seem real" without a visit to the crime lab, even though the proposed series isn't about cops. (If the pilot gets filmed, which I won't know until after the new year, I'll let you know if the CSI character remains—I suspect he will.)

Did Columbo ever talk to the CSI folks? How often did the cops of Homicide or NYPD Blue consult anyone at the crime lab?

There are, of course, hundreds of examples of successful cop shows and legendary detective heroes who solved crimes without a heavy reliance on technology, forensics, and the story-telling conventions of CSI But that argument won't work with network executives because those shows and characters, with the success of CSI, have instantly become "dated" and "old-fashioned" in their eyes (even a western, in order to be "contemporary," had to include forensics, though that didn't help Peacemakers stay on the air).

So it doesn't matter if CSI is totally fictional, it's the new fictional reality by which all other fictional realities will be measured against by network executives for fictional authenticity—at least until another cop show becomes a breakout hit and redefines the way we tell crime stories on television.

Admin
2009-11-05 21:50:02

As a veteran homicide detective I know likes to say, Star Trek is more realistic than CSI...

csi_cast

Mystery Scene Your Essential Partner in Crime
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Thriller, romantic suspense, PI, cozy, noir—the award-winning Mystery Scene covers it all.

Every issue is packed with entertaining articles, informative reviews, and fascinating interviews with both famous writers and emerging talents.

Our award-winning critics will clue you in to hundreds of interesting books, TV shows, films, short fiction, reference works, and more, in every issue.

Throw in contests, jokes, quotes, and anecdotes and we think you'll find that Mystery Scene is your essential partner in crime.

Mystery Scene publishes five times per year as a full-color glossy print magazine and as a digital edition available for Apple, Android, and Kindle devices. Don't miss a clue, subscribe today!

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Admin
2010-03-03 01:36:45
The Law of Inevitable Solution
Xav ID 577
2010-03-13 01:41:25

“At least half the mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable.”

- Raymond Chandler
(1888-1959)

Rss Feeds

RSS feeds are an easy and quick technique to stay on top of the latest content available on MysterySceneMag.com. Use the link below to subscribe through your browser or favorite RSS Reader.

All Site Content: {module All Content}

Use the following feeds to get only the content you want:

News:{module News}

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Daily Miscellany:{module Daily Miscellany}

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Recommendations:{module Recommendations}

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Admin
2010-03-15 23:03:47

RSS feeds are an easy and quick technique to stay on top of the latest content available on MysterySceneMag.com. Use the link below to subscribe through your browser or favorite RSS Reader.

All Site Content: {module All Content}

Use the following feeds to get only the content you want:

News:{module News}

Articles:{module Articles}

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Reviews:{module Reviews}

Recommendations:{module Recommendations}

Commentary:{module Commentary}

The Parisian Prodigal
Joseph Scarpato, Jr.

A husband and wife detective team isn’t that unusual—but put them in the early 13th century in Toulouse, France and make them court jesters, and you’ve got the makings of a strange murder mystery indeed.

Theo and Claudia are not only accomplished jesters, they also belong to the super-secret Fools’ Guild, an international group that strives to maintain order in a dangerous world. Count Raimon , the ruler of Toulouse, has named Theo his Chief Fool and relies on him not only for entertainment, but for wise counsel as well.

When a visitor arrives from Paris claiming to be the Count’s brother he is jailed as an imposter. Later, on Theo’s advice, the claimant, Baudoin, is freed pending further investigation into his claim. That night, he is taken to a brothel and spends the night in the arms of the most beautiful prostitute in the city. When the following morning her dead body is found next to him in the bed with his dagger in her chest, Baudoin is arrested for her murder.

Dissatisfied by the “rush to judgment” against Baudoin, Theo and Claudia decide to investigate. Both being competitive, however, they each go about it separately in their own way, Claudia being accompanied by Helga, a 12-year-old apprentice fool. Which one will solve the case first?

In alternating points of view, we follow the pair through a complex series of adventures leading to an unexpected conclusion. This latest in a series of Fools’ Guild Mysteries is enjoyable reading, not only for the mystery, but for the sharp and witty dialogue as well.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-27 16:07:47

A husband and wife detective team isn’t that unusual—but put them in the early 13th century in Toulouse, France and make them court jesters, and you’ve got the makings of a strange murder mystery indeed.

Theo and Claudia are not only accomplished jesters, they also belong to the super-secret Fools’ Guild, an international group that strives to maintain order in a dangerous world. Count Raimon , the ruler of Toulouse, has named Theo his Chief Fool and relies on him not only for entertainment, but for wise counsel as well.

When a visitor arrives from Paris claiming to be the Count’s brother he is jailed as an imposter. Later, on Theo’s advice, the claimant, Baudoin, is freed pending further investigation into his claim. That night, he is taken to a brothel and spends the night in the arms of the most beautiful prostitute in the city. When the following morning her dead body is found next to him in the bed with his dagger in her chest, Baudoin is arrested for her murder.

Dissatisfied by the “rush to judgment” against Baudoin, Theo and Claudia decide to investigate. Both being competitive, however, they each go about it separately in their own way, Claudia being accompanied by Helga, a 12-year-old apprentice fool. Which one will solve the case first?

In alternating points of view, we follow the pair through a complex series of adventures leading to an unexpected conclusion. This latest in a series of Fools’ Guild Mysteries is enjoyable reading, not only for the mystery, but for the sharp and witty dialogue as well.

No Mercy
Verna Suit

In this modern western with a twist, Mercy Gunderson is on furlough from the Army and back home on the family ranch in South Dakota. Her father, the local sheriff, has just died and everyone is expecting Mercy to look after both his affairs and her irresponsible younger sister. Mercy’s already heavy load gets even more worrisome when her 15-year-old nephew Levi begins running with a gang of native kids called “The Warrior Society,” and reservation teens begin turning up dead.

Frustrated when the handsome new sheriff doesn’t seem interested in the first killing, and a second killing strikes close to home, Mercy takes it upon herself to investigate. A prickly love-hate relationship develops when the sheriff resents her intrusion on his job. There’s a reason Mercy’s nickname is “No Mercy”—she’s tough. A hard drinker, a loner, and a bit psychotic, the hero of this dark, exciting series debut is a female who drives a fast sports car rather than rides a white horse, but she’s a wild west vigilante all the same.

Mercy is used to going after bad guys. In her Army job she’s a sniper trained to track and kill human prey. If she’s the one to find this local killer, she may just take him out on the spot. Author Lori Armstrong is already known for her mass market PI Julie Collins series, and she proves here with her first hardcover release that she’s just getting started.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-27 16:07:47

In this modern western with a twist, Mercy Gunderson is on furlough from the Army and back home on the family ranch in South Dakota. Her father, the local sheriff, has just died and everyone is expecting Mercy to look after both his affairs and her irresponsible younger sister. Mercy’s already heavy load gets even more worrisome when her 15-year-old nephew Levi begins running with a gang of native kids called “The Warrior Society,” and reservation teens begin turning up dead.

Frustrated when the handsome new sheriff doesn’t seem interested in the first killing, and a second killing strikes close to home, Mercy takes it upon herself to investigate. A prickly love-hate relationship develops when the sheriff resents her intrusion on his job. There’s a reason Mercy’s nickname is “No Mercy”—she’s tough. A hard drinker, a loner, and a bit psychotic, the hero of this dark, exciting series debut is a female who drives a fast sports car rather than rides a white horse, but she’s a wild west vigilante all the same.

Mercy is used to going after bad guys. In her Army job she’s a sniper trained to track and kill human prey. If she’s the one to find this local killer, she may just take him out on the spot. Author Lori Armstrong is already known for her mass market PI Julie Collins series, and she proves here with her first hardcover release that she’s just getting started.

Gone ‘Til November
Oline H. Cogdill

New Jersey author Wallace Stroby goes for a change of scenery to deliver a powerful, tightly focused third novel about corruption, ambition and the choices that women make. Sara Cross is the only female sheriff’s deputy in St. Charles County on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Stroby doesn’t miss a beat in shaping Sara as strong woman with good instincts, sharp enough to one day be the sheriff, the current sheriff often tells her. But Stroby also is careful to show Sara’s flaws, making her even more realistic and appealing. Too often, Sara has picked the wrong man, “a burden” she is working on. Most important to this single mother is her 6-year-old son who is battling leukemia. She’s a heroine who could easily support a new series.

One evening Sara is called to a cypress swamp where fellow deputy—and former lover—Billy Flynn has just shot a young black man who had a bag of guns in his car. Billy claims self defense, and it appears that way to Sara at first too, but when she puts aside her still simmering feelings for the unreliable Billy, Sara begins to doubt his story. As Sara runs her own investigation, the action switches to New Jersey where a hit man, who is dying of cancer, has just been hired to come Florida to retrieve what was in the car. Gone ‘Til November moves at a brisk pace as Stroby adds a variety of surprising twists. The author’s sturdy plot is augmented by the his intriguing look at how money and ambition can often override one’s moral compass. While Stroby’s other novels have been set in his home state, this New Jersey author shows he knows Florida’s back roads and small towns just as well.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-27 16:07:47

New Jersey author Wallace Stroby goes for a change of scenery to deliver a powerful, tightly focused third novel about corruption, ambition and the choices that women make. Sara Cross is the only female sheriff’s deputy in St. Charles County on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Stroby doesn’t miss a beat in shaping Sara as strong woman with good instincts, sharp enough to one day be the sheriff, the current sheriff often tells her. But Stroby also is careful to show Sara’s flaws, making her even more realistic and appealing. Too often, Sara has picked the wrong man, “a burden” she is working on. Most important to this single mother is her 6-year-old son who is battling leukemia. She’s a heroine who could easily support a new series.

One evening Sara is called to a cypress swamp where fellow deputy—and former lover—Billy Flynn has just shot a young black man who had a bag of guns in his car. Billy claims self defense, and it appears that way to Sara at first too, but when she puts aside her still simmering feelings for the unreliable Billy, Sara begins to doubt his story. As Sara runs her own investigation, the action switches to New Jersey where a hit man, who is dying of cancer, has just been hired to come Florida to retrieve what was in the car. Gone ‘Til November moves at a brisk pace as Stroby adds a variety of surprising twists. The author’s sturdy plot is augmented by the his intriguing look at how money and ambition can often override one’s moral compass. While Stroby’s other novels have been set in his home state, this New Jersey author shows he knows Florida’s back roads and small towns just as well.