Tuesday, 24 November 2015 02:11


First, to all our readers, Happy Thanksgiving. We at Mystery Scene are thankful for each of our readers and look forward to giving you more insight into the genre as we move into 2016.

May your Thanksgiving—and upcoming holidays—be filled with happiness.

And that brings us to what to give people on your gift list. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many of you will be checking that list and trying to figure out what to give people.

If you have readers of the mystery genre on your list, we have some good suggestions.

Check out Mystery Scene’s monthly reviews if you are looking for book to give. I also review for other venues so google my name for more suggestions.

FOYLE’S WAR: THE COMPLETE SAGA: I don’t think there has ever been a  better series about life in England during and immediately after WWII.

Excellent acting from Michael Kitchen as Christopher Foyle, a police detective who solves crimes during WWII and then uses his talents at MI5 during the Cold War.

The series never shied away from showing how people respond with both good and bad intentions during the war, allowing their prejudices to override their common sense.

And death often came into the picture when viewers least expected it.

Adding to the terrific performances are Foyle’s driver, Sam Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and DS Paul Milner (Anthony Howell). They were aided throughout the series by guest stars such as Rosamund Pike, James McAvoy, Charles Dance, David Tennant, and John Mahoney.

Though set in England, the concerns of anyone who has lived through a war are relatable.

Foyle’s War: The Complete Saga is a collector’s edition contains all 28 episodes of the series on 29 discs, plus 6 hours of bonus features. It is $199.99, visit AcornOnline.com. The entire series is also available to stream any time on Acorn TV at www.Acorn.TV.

The set also includes a retrospective called Foyle’s War Revisited; interviews with series writer and creator Anthony Horowitz and stars Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks. There are also making-of documentaries, behind-the-scenes features and a look at the era in which Foyle’s War is set. A 16-page collector’s guide includes episode synopses, character profiles, and reflections about the show.

REBUS: THE KEN STOTT COLLECTION: Ian Rankin’s series about Scotland detective John Rebus has long been a personal favorite.

So I was not surprised to love the film version of this series. I could watch this all day, episode after episode, and have.

Three-time BAFTA Award nominee Ken Stott (The Hobbit trilogy) stars as Detective Inspector John Rebus. The series kept the spirit—and much of the plot—of Rankin’s novels, showing the atmospheric city of Edinburgh, Scotland. The novels that translated to film include The Falls; Fleshmarket Close; The Black Book; A Question of Blood; Strip Jack; Let It Bleed; Resurrection Men; The First Stone; The Naming of the Dead; Knots and Crosses.

All four seasons of this series is on this Rebus collection that includes 10 episodes, plus bonus features, on 5 discs. Rebus: The Ken Stott Collection is $59.99, AcornOnline.com. The entire series is also available to watch   on Acorn TV, at www.Acorn.TV.

RESTLESS: This is a new British thriller and I have been totally hooked since the first episode. Like Foyle’s War, it is a period piece that seamlessly moves between the 1970s and 1939 as it recounts a young woman’s discovery that her mother was recruited to be a spy during WWII.

Restless is based on the bestselling spy novel by William Boyd. Ruth Gilmartin (Michelle Dockery) is stunned to learn that her mother, Sally (Charlotte Rampling), has been living a double life. Her real name is Eva Delectorskaya (Haley Atwell), she worked as a spy for the British Secret Service in the 1940s, and now someone is stalking her.

The casting could not be more perfect—many A-list British stars who also will be familiar to American audiences. These include, Hayley Atwell (Captain America, Marvel’s Agent Carter), Rufus Sewell (The Pillars of the Earth), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years, Broadchurch), and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter films).

The Restless DVD features two full-length episodes and is $34.99, visit AcornOnline.com. The miniseries is also available to watch on Acorn TV, at www.Acorn.TV.

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Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & '50s, edited by Sarah Weinman, Library of America. two volumes, $35/$70, 1,512 pages.
Who hasn’t been enthralled by the 1944 film Laura, with  Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb?

But Laura in author Vera Caspary's story of the same title is a different woman.

Patricia Highsmith is best known for The Talented Mr. Ripley. But her story The Blunderer in this collection echoes her other famous Strangers on a Train as a corporate lawyer trapped in an unhappy marriage considers murdering his wife after reading a newspaper article about another murderer.

The works by Caspary and Highsmith, along with Dolores Hitchens, Dorothy B. Hughes, Charlotte Armstrong, Helen Eustis, Margaret Millar, and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding illustrate the range of these often-forgotten works by women writers, some of whom are neglected by today’s readers. Sarah Weinman has done an excellent job of choosing stories that will make readers want to investigate more works by these women writers. And readers also will want to have Weinman’s other compilation Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense.

Full disclosure: I consider Weinman a friend and have been on several panels with her. Even if I didn’t know her, I would still recommend Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & '50s.
Nancy Drew Mystery Stories Books 1-4, Grosset & Dunlap, $31.96, 768 pages: This beautiful box set is perfect for both the adult and the child on your list, maybe even encouraging a marathon reading between the two. More sets will be coming—for future gift giving! The covers are beautiful are and are like the covers when the series was first published. As for the plots, hey, you all know Nancy Drew.

mysterywriterscookbook 2015
Cocktail Noir: From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimlets, Reservoir Square Books, $24.99, 256 pages:
Part nonfiction, part cocktail recipe cookbook, this slim book covers the drinking habits of gangsters and detectives—real and fictional. The gimlet featured in Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, the scotch and soda from Woman in the Window, and the champagne bellini from While the City Sleeps as well as the drinking habits of Al Capone and Meyer Lansky. Don’t drive while reading!

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, Crown, $9.99, 62 pages. Looking for a stocking stuffer that will take the edge off all the holiday cheer and put a bit of fear in your gift giving? Gillian Flynn creates a modern day ghost story that is reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw and far from her uber-selling Gone Girl. This novella can be read in about an hour—sometimes that’s all you need in taking a break from family.

Cookbooks with a mystery theme made a delicious splash this year.

I recommend Goldy's Kitchen Cookbook by Diane Mott Davidson, from HarperCollins; The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For, edited by Kate White, from Quirk Books; and The Cozy Cookbook published by Berkley.

A final thought
And of course, a subscription to Mystery Scene is a good gift that lasts year-round.

Monday, 23 November 2015 02:11

by Oline H. Cogdill

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Walter Mosley
has been chosen as the 2016 Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America (MWA).

MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Mr. Mosley will receive his award at the 70th Annual Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28, 2016.
This is a well-deserved honor as Mosley has proved himself to be a groundbreaker in the genre.

He started writing when he was 34 years old and has to date published more than 40 novels.

Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins series, beginning with Devil in a Blue Dress, which was made into a film starring Denzel Washington.This series shows what life was life for an African American in post-WWII Los Angeles.

He has also written three other series, featuring Fearless Jones, Leonid McGill, and Socrates Fortlaw. In addition, he has written science fiction, nonfiction, social criticism, young-adult fiction, plays, graphic novels, and numerous short stories.
Previous Grand Masters include Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Carolyn Hart, Ken Follett, Margaret Maron, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

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I have to admit that the Raven Award probably is my favorite award. Mainly because—full disclosure—I was honored with this award in 2013. The Raven recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.

Two Raven Awards will be awarded in 2016: one to Margaret Kinsman and the other to Sisters in Crime. These are two inspired choices.
As a mentor, teacher, scholar, and editor, Margaret Kinsman has supported and promoted both the mystery genre as a whole and many individual writers.  As senior lecturer in popular culture at Southbank University in London from 1991 to 2012, she played a leading role in making crime fiction an important and legitimate field of study. She has worked hard both to expand readership of our genre in the general public and to expand understanding of the genre as a powerful form of social commentary.
From 2004 to 2011, Kinsman served as executive editor of Clues: A Journal of Detection, the only American scholarly journal dedicated to mysteries. She continues to serve Clues as a consulting editor. She is an international authority on Margery Allingham and has published extensively on other American crime writers. She is a U.S. citizen who divides her time between London and Iowa City, Iowa, where she is conducting research in the Nancy Drew archives at the University of Iowa.

Sisters in Crime has its roots at the 1986 Bouchercon in Baltimore. Sara Paretsky convened an initial meeting of women writers who were concerned about both the rising tide of graphic violence against women in mysteries and the lack of equity in review, award nominations, advances, and other measures of a writer’s success.

The following year during Edgars week, a group of women writers met in Sandra Scoppettone's SoHo loft for breakfast and formed Sisters in Crime. Initial steering committee members were a who’s who of women mystery writers, including Charlotte MacLeod, Kate Mattes, Betty Francis, Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Sara Paretsky, Nancy Pickard, and Susan Dunlap.
The mission of Sisters in Crime is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. Membership is open to all persons worldwide who have a special interest in mystery writing and in furthering the purposes of SinC. The organization has approximately 3,600 members in some 50 regional chapters in the United States and Canada.

Previous Raven winners include Kathryn Kennison, Jon and Ruth Jordan, Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Oline Cogdill, Molly Weston, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.
The Ellery Queen Award was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry." This year the Board chose to honor Janet A. Rudolph.
Rudolph is the director of the fan-based Mystery Readers International, editor of the Mystery Readers Journal, a teacher of mystery fiction, and has been a columnist for most of the mystery periodicals. A native of Philadelphia, she now lives in Berkeley, California, where she completed a master's degree in art history, a credential in secondary education, and a PhD in religion and literature specializing in mystery fiction. She has received two Fulbright grants—one to India and another to Brazil.
Mystery Readers Journal, her brainchild, is the official publication of Mystery Readers International. Originally started as a newsletter to update the local mystery community on fun events, it is now one of the most important periodicals in the field. A quarterly, each issue focuses on a specific theme with major articles, author essays, special columns, and a calendar of events. Members of MRI award the coveted Macavity for excellence in mystery writing.
Again, Rudolph is an inspired choice. I met her at my first Bouchercon back in 1997 and consider her a friend.
Previous Ellery Queen Award winners include Charles Ardai, Joe Meyers, Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald, Mystery Scene publishers Kate Stine and Brian Skupin, Carolyn Marino, Ed Gorman, Janet Hutchings, Cathleen Jordan, Douglas G. Greene, Susanne Kirk, Sara Ann Freed, Hiroshi Hayakawa, Jacques Barzun, Martin Greenburg, Otto Penzler, Richard Levinson, William Link, Ruth Cavin, and Emma Lathen.      
For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit www.mysterywriters.org.

Saturday, 21 November 2015 09:11

by Oline H. Cogdill

fluke murdershebakedplumpudding
I am so enjoying made-for-TV movies based on mystery writers’ series that have been airing on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel.

These light mysteries based on several amateur sleuth series are that breath of fresh air many of us need. I love hard-hitting series such as Bosch and Longmire, but sometimes I also crave something light and fun.

And Hallmark is delivering.

The latest is Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery, based on the culinary mystery series by Joanne Fluke, which airs at 9 p.m. Nov. 22 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. And of course, there will be encores.

This is the second made-for-TV movie based on a Fluke novel; the first was Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery, which ran earlier this year. A third film is schedule for February 2016.

Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery finds Hannah trying to solve the murder of a local entrepreneur known for his wild ideas. His body is found in his office. Suspects are abundant, including ex-wives and angry investors.

Meanwhile, Hannah is trying to make a plum pudding—hence, the title—and get ready for the holidays.

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The movie hardly breaks new ground, but it is entertaining and allowed a good break from the Criminal Minds marathon I was caught up with.

Alison Sweeney makes an appealing Hannah, showing the character’s intelligence, strength, and even vulnerability. Sweeney is best known for her Emmy-nominated role of Sami Brady on Days of Our Lives. She also has hosted The Biggest Loser for 13 seasons. And if that wasn’t enough, Sweeney directs episodes of General Hospital and Days of Our Lives.

Emmy-nominated actor Cameron Mathison is exactly what we want from detective Mike Kingston—a handsome and safely sexy foil for Hannah.

There is only one problem with Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery. Fluke has a habit of making chocolate chip cookies to share with her readers at her book events.

Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery airs at 9 p.m. Nov. 22 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel, with encores.

Photos: Top, Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison; bottom, Alison Sweeney in Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery. Photos courtesy Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel