Sunday, 23 September 2018 11:42

Podcasts have become so popular it is hard to keep up with the latest ones. Today, author Eryk Pruitt, right, puts podcasts in perspective and gives his favorites.

Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, author, and filmmaker. He wrote and produced the short film Foodie, which won eight top awards at more than 16 film festivals. His short fiction has appeared in The Avalon Literary Review, Thuglit, Pulp Modern, and Zymbol, among others, and he was a finalist for the Derringer Award. He is the author of the novels Dirtbags, Hashtag, and the Anthony Award nominee What We Reckon (all published by Polis Books). His latest book is Townies: And Other Stories of Southern Mischief. He also hosts the true crime podcast The Long Dance. Pruitt lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Lana, and their cat, Busey.

Five Amazing Single-Story True-Crime Podcasts
By Eryk Pruitt

When Serial ended its 12-episode run in December, 2012, the demand was cemented for more podcasts that combined investigative journalism with the production value of an audio documentary.

Serial's episodes, released one per week, investigated the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee, and the subsequent incarceration of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. However, this new form of storytelling had a shortage of podcasts that could match Serial.

In fact, not even Serial’s second season was able to match the intrigue earned by its predecessor.

So investigative journalists began turning on their microphones and heading out to recapture that spirit.

Count me among them. This summer, we released The Long Dance, an eight-part true-crime podcast about North Carolina’s 1971 Valentine’s Murders. In addition to Serial, here are five other true-crime podcasts that were our inspirations.

1. Atlanta Monster
Those of us who did not grow up in The Big Peach during the early 1980s have taken it for granted that Wayne Williams was behind the murders of scores of children from Atlanta’s black community. However, ask anyone from that community and they will voice their suspicions that authorities captured the wrong man. Journalist Payne Lindsey, host of Up and Vanished, guides readers through the murky conspiracy theories surrounding the murders and their alleged perpetrator.

2. The Shot
When Hampton Roads police officer Victor Decker was found shot to death outside a nightclub, no one believed the crime would still be unsolved seven years later. The Virginian-Pilot released a seven-part, investigative series analyzing every scrap of evidence. Later, the newspaper released six more episodes. Would they produce an answer?

3. Slow Burn (Season Two)
Season One of Slate’s Slow Burn mired deep into Nixon’s Watergate, overturning even the smallest nuance that has long been forgotten by historians and pop culture. Season Two turns that same discerning eye on the more salacious of presidential scandals: the Clinton impeachment following the Monica Lewinsky affair. Each episode is delivered weekly.

4. In the Dark (Season Two)
Madeleine Baran leads listeners into the depths of the Winona, Mississippi, justice system as Curtis Flowers, a man who has been tried six times for the same grisly murder, awaits a seventh trial on death row. How can one man be tried seven times for the same crime? Is he guilty? If not, who did it?

5. Someone Knows Something (Season Three)
While the FBI scoured Mississippi in 1964 for the three missing civil rights workers, two other bodies were uncovered. Over four decades later, the Canadian Broadcasting Company takes award-winning broadcaster David Ridgen into the deep South to reopen the case and confront the Ku Klux Klan.

The Popularity of Podcasts
Oline H. Cogdill
Monday, 10 September 2018 12:54

The 2018 Anthony Award winners, honoring work published in 2017, were announced during Bouchercon 2018, held September 6-9 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Bouchercon (pronounced Bough'-cher-con), the World Mystery Convention, is an annual convention where readers, writers, fans, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and other lovers of crime fiction gather for a four-day weekend of education, entertainment, and fun! It is the world's premier mystery event, bringing together all parts of the mystery and crime fiction community.

For details, visit the Bouchercon website.

Mystery Scene congratulates the winners and the nominees.

(Winners are in bold with asterisks.)

The Late Show by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company)
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (HarperCollins)
**Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Mulholland)
Glass Houses by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
The Force by Don Winslow (William Morrow)

**Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (Ecco)
The Dry by Jane Harper (Flatiron Books)
Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All by Christopher Irvin (Cutlass Press)
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka (Minotaur Books)

Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann (Midnight Ink)
Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck (Down & Out Books)
What We Reckon by Eryk Pruitt (Polis Books)
**The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day (William Morrow)
Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street Books)

Give Up the Dead (Jay Porter #3) by Joe Clifford (Oceanview Publishing)
Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch #20) by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company)
**Y Is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton (A Marian Wood Book)
Glass Houses (Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Dangerous Ends (Pete Fernandez #3) by Alex Segura (Polis Books)

"The Trial of Madame Pelletier" by Susanna Calkins from Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical (Wildside Press)
"God’s Gonna Cut You Down" by Jen Conley from Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash (Gutter Books LLC)
**"My Side of the Matter" by Hilary Davidson from Killing Malmon (Down & Out Books)
"Whose Wine Is It Anyway" by Barb Goffman from 50 Shades of Cabernet (Koehler Books)
"The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place" by Debra H. Goldstein from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/June 2017 (Dell)
"A Necessary Ingredient" by Art Taylor from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea (Down & Out Books)

Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, Joe Clifford, editor (Gutter Books LLC)
Killing Malmon, Dan & Kate Malmon, editors (Down & Out Books)
Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, Andrew McAleer & Paul D. Marks, editors (Down & Out Books)
Passport to Murder, Bouchercon Anthology 2017, John McFetridge, editor (Down & Out Books)
**The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, Gary Phillips, editor (Three Rooms Press)

From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström (The Mysterious Press)
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards (Poisoned Pen Press)
**Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)
Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson (W.W. Norton & Company)
Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction by Jessica Lourey (Conari Press)

Writer Types Podcast
Do Some Damage: An Inside Look at Crime Fiction
**Jungle Red Writers
Dru’s Book Musings
BOLO Books

2018 Anthony Award Winners
Oline Cogdill
Saturday, 08 September 2018 11:54

(Mystery Scene continues its ongoing series in which authors discuss their works or their lives.)

J.L. Abramo is from the seaside paradise of Brooklyn, New York, and was born on Raymond Chandler's 59th birthday.

He is the author of Catching Water in a Net, winner of the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel. That novel introduced Jake Diamond. The Jake novels continued with Clutching at Straws, Counting to Infinity and Circling the Runway (Shamus Award Winner); Chasing Charlie Chan, a prequel to the Jake Diamond series. Abramo also is the author of Gravesend, Brooklyn Justice, and Coney Island Avenue, a follow-up to Gravesend.

Abramo, left, is the current president of Private Eye Writers of America. His latest novel is American History (Down & Out Books).

In this essay, Abramo discusses how the setting influences his stories.


Those readers familiar with my previous work have already visited the neighborhoods, which play an essential role in American History.

The sights, sounds, tastes, and the aromas of San Francisco are as unmistakable as they are unforgettable and provide a perfect setting for the fictional exploits of Brooklyn-born, Italian-Catholic, Russian-Jewish, unsuccessful movie actor, and marginally successful private investigator Jake Diamond.

Jake is more likely to be carrying a worn paperback classic novel than a firearm. His thirst quencher of choice is Tennessee sour mash whiskey, his favorite foods are those with the highest cholesterol, and the closest he comes to being a purist is non-filtered cigarettes.

“The scent of deep fried calamari floated in through my office window like an invitation to triple-bypass surgery.”

So begins the third novel in the Jake Diamond series, Counting to Infinity. Jake’s office sits above Molinari’s legendary Italian Salumeria on Columbus Avenue—in the heart of the rich history and the eclectic street life of North Beach.

And, in American History, North Beach is the center of the Leone family’s American story.

I lived in San Francisco during the closing years of the 1970s—post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, pre-Reagan.

First, in the Fillmore, where Diamond lived before inheriting a house in the Presidio.

Later on Frederick Street near Masonic, a short block from Haight Street, where the last of the Flower Children were fighting to hold the line—with their head shops, music stores, and street performances—against the other thirtysomething residents who were trying to turn the Upper Haight into a respectable neighborhood.

I worked part time at the Green Apple Bookstore on Clement Street, where Jake Diamond found paperback copies of A Tale of Two Cities and The Count of Monte Cristo. Catching Water in a Net evolved into a tale of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Automobiles are impractical in San Francisco—there is no place to put them.

As Jake Diamond once noted, “the only way to get a parking space in San Francisco is to buy a parked car.” So, I explored on foot—walking up and down the hills, from neighborhood to neighborhood, each with its unique personality and its own climate.

In 2000, in South Carolina, I began writing my second novel.

My initial attempt, a crime novel set in Brooklyn, was sitting unread—surrounded by “thanks but no thanks” form letters from an assortment of literary agents. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I wrote. I decided to try my hand at a first-person narrative.

The natural, unpremeditated form was a private eye novel—and, in my mind, the setting could be nowhere but San Francisco.

Jake Diamond was born.

Catching Water in a Net captured the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Award for Best First Private Eye Novel and a year later I was holding a hardback copy in my hand.

Fifteen years later, after an 11-year hiatus, Diamond returned and his exploits in Circling the Runway earned a Shamus Award.

I visit San Francisco as often as possible. I walk the streets, I duck into alleys, check out storefronts, and look for additional iconic places for Diamond to discover while searching for a clue or two.

At the opposite American shore lies Jake’s hometown—and mine.

As well as the center of the Agnello family experience in American History.

After the first three Jake Diamond mysteries, set primarily in San Francisco, I felt compelled to write a Brooklyn story. To return to my roots—so to speak.

The result was Gravesend, titled for the Brooklyn neighborhood where I grew up. It was a more personal journey and the setting was a very important character in the narrative. I felt comfortable there.

Brooklyn is unique because it is Brooklyn. Where fans still lament the loss of the Dodgers after 60 years. Where Coney Island is still the summer beach resort. Where many of its three million residents still greet and are greeted by grocers, bakers, barbers, restaurateurs, and bankers by their first names in neighborhoods much like small towns.

Brooklyn is unlike other places—and is a perfect setting for crime fiction because it has such a rich history of criminal activity.

In American History, the action is set in both places over a period of nearly 100 years. The Agnello family in Gravesend, and the Leone family in North Beach.

American History is the multi-generational saga of the Agnellos and the Leones—set against a backdrop of turbulent and critical events in a young nation struggling to find its identity in the wake of two world wars.

J.L. Abramo on His Cities
Oline H. Cogdill