Wednesday, 07 October 2015 10:10


patterson james5
In addition to his best-selling novels, James Patterson has become a real advocate for books and literacy.

He’s set aside millions of dollar to be divided among a large number of libraries and independent bookstores.

He also has a couple of programs that promote literacy among children, including a partnership with NBA all-star Dwyane Wade that emphasizes “the importance of reading for success in life.”

Patterson also has made it possible that hundreds of thousands of books have been donated to children and members of the military. He has also started his own publishing imprint at Little, Brown and Co.

For his concern about literacy, Patterson is receiving an honorary National Book Award.

Patterson has won the Literarian Award for “outstanding service to the American literary community,” the National Book Foundation has announced.

Previous recipients of the Literarian prize include Maya Angelou, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Patterson, 68, will be honored Nov. 18 at the annual National Book Awards ceremony dinner in Manhattan. The awards are presented by the noprofit book foundation.

Sunday, 04 October 2015 10:10

davidson dianecookbook
After 17 novels, Diane Mott Davidson is the author most associated with the culinary mystery.

Yes, there are a slew of other authors who write culinary mysteries (and I list some below). But Davidson re-established the culinary mystery with Catering to Nobody, published in 1990.

Each of Davidson’s novels have included several recipes that Goldy has made during the plot. I have tried several and been pleased with their ease and flavor.

So instead of trying to find that one recipe amid all those novels, Goldy's Kitchen Cookbook chronicles all her recipes.

Part memoir, part writing manual, part cookbook, Goldy's Kitchen Cookbook introduces the recipes with stories about how she came to create them. Davidson also includes anecdotes from her experiences as a writer and home cook, and the time she received a fan letter from Julia Child.

Each of the recipes also tells which novel it came from.

Davidson also shows how she lost 30 pounds and kept it off in Goldy's Kitchen Cookbook.

As for Goldy’s habit of thinking about crimes and their solution while cooking, Davidson said she got that trick from reading Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels. “Spenser loves to cook, and working at the stove allows him time to reflect on the crime. . . I thought, that’s what Goldy needs to do,” Davidson writes.

By the way, I have made Davidson’s Fudgy Souffle (from Killer Pancake) several times. It’s an easy “soufflé” that is made on the stovetop. (It’s on page 268 if you need to look it up quickly.)

Davidson didn’t start the culinary mystery. Most experts suggest that honor goes to the late Virginia Rich, who wrote the Eugenia Potter series. Rich wrote three novels about Eugenia, a chef/rancher, starting with The Cooking School Murders in 1982. Author Nancy Pickard wrote the next three novels about Eugenia, starting in 1993 with The 27-Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders, which Rich had begun before her death.

mysterywriterscookbook 2015
I wonder if we should call 2015 the year of the cookbook, mystery style.

In addition to Goldy's Kitchen Cookbook, The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For, edited by Kate White, was published earlier this year by Quirk Books.

Beautifully illustrated, The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook contains more than 100 recipes from authors whose offerings continue the mystery theme with breakfasts, entrees, desserts, and cocktails.

About the same time, The Cozy Cookbook was published by Berkley. The authors featured in The Cozy Cookbook have each somehow written about food and include an excerpt from their novels to introduce a recipe.

Here’s a few more authors of culinary mysteries. I am listing just a sampling of their novels; they have many more. And more are at The Cozy Mystery Blog.

Murder on the Orient Espresso by Sandra Balzo
Fudging the Books by Daryl Wood Gerber
A Dish Best Served Cold by Rosie Genova
Fatal Reservations by Lucy Burdette
Macaroni and Freeze by Christine Wenger
Butter off Dead by Leslie Budewitz
Dead Men Don't Eat Cookies by Virginia Lowell
Death of an English Muffin by Victoria Hamilton
Revenge of the Chili Queens by Kylie Logan
If Onions Could Spring Leeks by Paige Shelton
The Big Chili by Julia Buckley
Trick or Deadly Treat by Livia J. Washburn
All the President’s Menus by Julie Hyzy
Double Fudge Brownie by Joanne Fluke

Tuesday, 29 September 2015 11:09

helloitsme staub
The latest original movie from the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel will sound familiar to fans of Wendy Corsi Staub’s novels.

Staub’s novel Hello, It’s Me is the latest mystery novel to be picked up by the Hallmark channel.

Hello, It’s Me follows a young widow who believes she's experiencing a heavenly intervention when she meets a bachelor.

Annie and her children struggle with grief two years after her husband died. Andre was the love of Annie’s life, and the idea of being in love with anyone else is inconceivable to her. Then she meets James, a rich bachelor.

Almost against her will, Annie begins to fall in love with James, but she is afraid. Then she starts to receive messages from Andre encouraging her to follow her heart.

Kellie Martin stars as Annie and Kavan Smith is James.

Hello, It’s Me debuted on September 27 on the Hallmark channel, but is having frequent encores. See the “view all showtimes” tab on the web site.

Staub has written more than 80 novels. But Hello, It’s Me has personal meaning to Staub.

Hello, It’s Me was published a few weeks before her mother died and was the last novel of Staub’s that she read.

Her mother came to Staub’s hometown book signing “and sat in the front row as always, and I knew the moment I spotted her that she didn't have much time left,” said Staub in an email to Mystery Scene.

“The fact that it was that particular book, out of 80, that made it to the screen at last, and that it started shooting on what would have been such a sad milestone day—the 10th anniversary of my mom’s death—has made this whole thing an emotional experience,” Staub added.

Photo: Kellie Martin, Kavan Smith. Courtesy of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.