Wednesday, 29 October 2014 04:10

mina denise2
The Specsavers Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards always sound like a lot of fun. I mean, who can argue with an award for the best read of the year?

So, the winners of the Specsavers Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards this week in London are:

Goldsboro Gold Dagger: This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin

Peter May won the Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year for Entry Island, which was chosen by a group of independent publishing experts from the Awards Academy.

In addition, Robert Harris and Denise Mina, left, were inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame in recognition of their contributions to the genre.


In the movie and TV categories:

Keeley Hawes for Line of DutyDagger for Best Actress

Matthew McConaughey for True Detective  Dagger for Best Actor

James Norton for Happy ValleyDagger for Best Supporting Actor

Amanda Abbington for Sherlock  Dagger for Best Supporting Actress

Happy ValleyDagger for Best TV Series

True DetectiveDagger for Best International TV Series

Cold in JulyDagger for Best Film

For the first time, an entire Midsomer Murders was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the cast and crew were there to collect the award.

This is a true red-carpet event—and I love that it celebrates all forms of the mystery genre. The event, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, was attended by actors, writers, and producers from the world of crime TV and fiction.

Saturday, 25 October 2014 08:10

malliet gm
I’ve always thought that dedicating a book to someone is such a wonderful thing to do. So many dedicate those pages to their spouses, parents, children, even agents and publishers.

Some, of course, dedicate to longtime fans or use the dedication as an auction item to raise money for charity.

So I was curious why G.M. Malliet, left, dedicates her latest novel A Demon Summer to the late, great Robert Barnard, at right.

And here is what she has to say:

“Robert Barnard introduced me to the wry, literate, beautifully written, and laugh-out-loud-funny mystery novel. I started reading him in my 20s or early 30s and I own all of his books. I will keep them no matter what, although the paperbacks are rather falling apart,” says Malliet.

“He is the only author I would always order from the UK in hardback (he tended to be published there first, and I could not wait for the US edition to come out). I had to read whatever he was writing as soon as I could get my hands on it. There is no author I've ever felt that way about and I doubt I will again,” says Malliet. Mystery Scene featured Malliet in the 2010 Winter issue.

“His later books became dark: I don't mean violent, exactly, but the themes were just dark and rather depressing. Convoluted family situations, is what I recall. It was the earlier books I fell in love with. Death of an Old Goat, of course—his first. Blood Brotherhood—set in a monastery and hysterically funny about religious types. Political Suicide—a complete romp, a skewering of politicians, which is easy to do but so difficult to do well.

“He took on the working class and the high and mighty, making no distinctions. I say he skewered types, especially petty tyrants, but there was just a wry humor and intelligence at work that was never mean-spirited.

“Anything I know about comic timing and sentence structure and the use of the English language and the slow buildup to the punch line I feel I owe to my reading and rereading of Robert Barnard. His plotting was excellent, too—I don't think I ever guessed who dunnit. But he was a lifelong Agatha Christie fan and it showed. I would also recommend highly to Agatha fans his bio of her: A Talent to Deceive,” adds Malliet.

barnard robert
Through the years, Malliet met Barnard a few times, mainly at the Malice Domestic conferences where “he could be found in the smoking area, so I would seek him out there. I was just in awe of him and gushed a lot, I'm afraid. Don’t ask me to recall what was said. It took all my courage to talk to him,” she says.

Malliet also remembers being seated at the same table as Barnard and wife, Louise, during a St. Hilda's conference where he was a main speaker. “But it was a large table for eight or ten people and the person he really spoke with was my husband who sat right next to him. Darn it! But that is how the seating fell out. I pumped my husband for details later and all I recall now is that Bob Barnard had a lovely pension by this time from his years teaching in Norway and was happily settled near Leeds. Still writing books, of course. I remember also that at this conference was an American woman, a big mystery fan, who I think told me she had showed up on his doorstep one day just to say ‘hi.’ I found that disturbing but I gather he wasn't bothered,” says Malliet.

And finally there was her fan letter to him.

“This was probably the second fan letter I've ever written in my life (the first was to P.D. James) but I started to realize Barnard would not be with us forever and I wanted him to know how much pleasure his books had given me over the years. . . . Sure enough, he wrote back on a postcard picturing heather on Haworth Moor. The card came from the Bronte Parsonage Museum, a cause to which he and his wife were devoted. This card in its enclosing envelope has remained on my bulletin board ever since, there to inspire me. It was stamped by the Royal Mail in Leeds with a date of 24.02.11 and on it he writes: “I am suffering all the ills of 70-plus, but I have another book of short stories coming out.” He goes on to talk about A Mansion and Its Murder coming out in the UK after some delay caused by a change of publisher,” she remembers.

Such memories and inspiration would be, of course, cause for a dedication.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 02:10

kava alex
If you are in the San Diego area on Nov. 8, here is an interesting event. The Military Book Fair aboard the USS Midway will include an array of authors who will be on hand to discuss their works, meet the public, and sign books.

Mystery authors scheduled to appear include Catherine Coulter, James Rollins, Grant Blackwood, Jan Burke, Alex Kava, at left, Allison Brennan, Ted Bell, T. Jefferson Parker, and others.

The fair will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 8, at the USS Midway Museum in downtown San Diego.

Events will include panel discussions with authors and military veterans.

Organizers say that proceeds are earmarked for select Veteran Service Organizations (Congressionally chartered non-profits) including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fleet Reserve Assoc., and the Marine Corps League as well as non-profit veteran support groups including Veterans Village of San Diego (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans), Reboot (veterans transition services), United Service Organizations (USO), Authors United for Veterans, and others.

The non-profit organization US4Warriors runs this event.

Author projects honoring the military are ongoing.

For several years, the International Thriller Writers has worked with the USO/Armed Forces Entertainment to bring some of our top crime fiction writers to soldiers and military families. At various stops, the authors will discuss their works, talk with the soldiers, and families if around, and hand out copies of their books.

Last year, this USO tour included stops in Kuwait, Germany, the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, and Walter Reed Bethesda National Military Medical Center.

Photo: Alex Kava