Wednesday, 15 June 2011 11:55

altI know that the mystery genre seems to have an abundance of awards, but I, for one, enjoy hearing about them.

I especially like it when the nominees of the various awards don't overlap. To me, that is just another way of honoring the many good books that are out there.

The 2011 Nero Award finalists have just been announced and, as usual, it honors some exceptional work.

I'm glad I don't have to make the final decision as it would be hard to pick just one book.

The Nero Award celebrates literary excellence in the mystery genre.

The Nero Award is presented each year to an author for the best mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories. It is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City.

altPast winners have included Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, and Martha Grimes.

This year, the nominees are:

Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine Books)

The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds (St. Martin’s Press)

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

The Midnight Show Murders by Al Roker (Delacorte)

Think of a Number by John Verdon (Crown)


The Wolfe Pack, the literary society that celebrates all things Nero Wolfe, also presents the Black Orchid Novella Award (BONA) in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine to celebrate the Novella format popularized by Rex Stout. The BONA is also announced at the Black Orchid Banquet in December.

The Wolfe Pack, founded in 1977, is a forum to discuss, explore, and enjoy the 72 Nero Wolfe books and novellas written by Rex Stout. The organization has more than 450 members worldwide.

For more information, visit the Wolfe Pack or email Jane K. Cleland at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The 2011 Nero Award Nominees
Oline Cogdill
the-wolfe-pack-nomiees

altI know that the mystery genre seems to have an abundance of awards, but I, for one, enjoy hearing about them.

I especially like it when the nominees of the various awards don't overlap. To me, that is just another way of honoring the many good books that are out there.

The 2011 Nero Award finalists have just been announced and, as usual, it honors some exceptional work.

I'm glad I don't have to make the final decision as it would be hard to pick just one book.

The Nero Award celebrates literary excellence in the mystery genre.

The Nero Award is presented each year to an author for the best mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories. It is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City.

altPast winners have included Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, and Martha Grimes.

This year, the nominees are:

Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine Books)

The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds (St. Martin’s Press)

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

The Midnight Show Murders by Al Roker (Delacorte)

Think of a Number by John Verdon (Crown)


The Wolfe Pack, the literary society that celebrates all things Nero Wolfe, also presents the Black Orchid Novella Award (BONA) in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine to celebrate the Novella format popularized by Rex Stout. The BONA is also announced at the Black Orchid Banquet in December.

The Wolfe Pack, founded in 1977, is a forum to discuss, explore, and enjoy the 72 Nero Wolfe books and novellas written by Rex Stout. The organization has more than 450 members worldwide.

For more information, visit the Wolfe Pack or email Jane K. Cleland at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sunday, 12 June 2011 10:59

altI remember a time when TV was at its slowest during the summer. Those days are gone.

Now the summer not only is filled with original episodes, but there's quite a number of series designed for the mystery fan.

Here's a smattering:

THE GLADES (A&E, Sundays at 10 p.m.) Season two of this guilty pleasure should have some personal and professional changes for Jim Longworth, a detective with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who is based in the fictional town of Palm Glade, Florida. The series shoots in South Florida, especially in the Fort Lauderdale area.

NORA ROBERTS’ CARNAL INNOCENCE (Lifetime, June 13 at 8 p.m.) Gabrielle Anwar (“Burn Notice”) plays a world-famous violinist who wants peace and quiet and instead is stalked by a serial killer.

MEMPHIS BEAT (TNT, June 14 at 9 p.m.) Who knew that Jason Lee could play a convincing cop? OK, so Memphis Beat isn't exactly Homicide: Life on the Streets, but there are some interesting plots that showcase Lee's character Dwight Hendricks. And who doesn't love Alfre Woodard’s as Dwight's lieutenant.

altBURN NOTICE (USA, June 23 at 8 p.m.) Jeffrey Donovan returns as Michael Westen, the burned spy in the fifth season, which is shot in South Florida. Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless and Gabrielle Anwar co-star. This is a personal favorite. Burn Notice remains fresh because each year the writers tackle a new aspect of Michael Westen's life.

SUITS (USA, June 23 at 10 p.m.) Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a brilliant college-dropout who lands a job with one of New York City's best attorneys, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht). Mike's raw talent and photographic memory impresses his new boss. Of course, this happens all the time -- dropouts pretend to be lawyers and handle high-profile cases. Hey, I live in Florida.

TRUE BLOOD (HBO, June 26 at 9 p.m.) Expect new characters in the fourth season of this Southern-gothic series based on Charlaine Harris' novels. Fiona Shaw will play Marnie, a witch. Gary Cole will play as Sookie Stackhouse’s grandfather, Earl. But wait, isn't he dead?

LEVERAGE (TNT, June 26, at 9 p.m.) The best gang of con artists return.

Photos: Top, Memphis Beat with Jason Lee and Alfre Woodard. TNT photo. Jeffery Donavan in Burn Notice. USA photo

Watching the Detectives
Oline Cogdill
watching-the-detectives

altI remember a time when TV was at its slowest during the summer. Those days are gone.

Now the summer not only is filled with original episodes, but there's quite a number of series designed for the mystery fan.

Here's a smattering:

THE GLADES (A&E, Sundays at 10 p.m.) Season two of this guilty pleasure should have some personal and professional changes for Jim Longworth, a detective with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who is based in the fictional town of Palm Glade, Florida. The series shoots in South Florida, especially in the Fort Lauderdale area.

NORA ROBERTS’ CARNAL INNOCENCE (Lifetime, June 13 at 8 p.m.) Gabrielle Anwar (“Burn Notice”) plays a world-famous violinist who wants peace and quiet and instead is stalked by a serial killer.

MEMPHIS BEAT (TNT, June 14 at 9 p.m.) Who knew that Jason Lee could play a convincing cop? OK, so Memphis Beat isn't exactly Homicide: Life on the Streets, but there are some interesting plots that showcase Lee's character Dwight Hendricks. And who doesn't love Alfre Woodard’s as Dwight's lieutenant.

altBURN NOTICE (USA, June 23 at 8 p.m.) Jeffrey Donovan returns as Michael Westen, the burned spy in the fifth season, which is shot in South Florida. Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless and Gabrielle Anwar co-star. This is a personal favorite. Burn Notice remains fresh because each year the writers tackle a new aspect of Michael Westen's life.

SUITS (USA, June 23 at 10 p.m.) Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a brilliant college-dropout who lands a job with one of New York City's best attorneys, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht). Mike's raw talent and photographic memory impresses his new boss. Of course, this happens all the time -- dropouts pretend to be lawyers and handle high-profile cases. Hey, I live in Florida.

TRUE BLOOD (HBO, June 26 at 9 p.m.) Expect new characters in the fourth season of this Southern-gothic series based on Charlaine Harris' novels. Fiona Shaw will play Marnie, a witch. Gary Cole will play as Sookie Stackhouse’s grandfather, Earl. But wait, isn't he dead?

LEVERAGE (TNT, June 26, at 9 p.m.) The best gang of con artists return.

Photos: Top, Memphis Beat with Jason Lee and Alfre Woodard. TNT photo. Jeffery Donavan in Burn Notice. USA photo

Wednesday, 08 June 2011 12:59

I never got into the video game kick.

altThat's just as well because I'm really bad at video games as I discovered during the few games of Wii with my godchildren. Oh yes, I've have lost big time to a 12-year-old, an 8-year-old and the 6-year-old. So instead of video games, I spend more time than I should on Facebook.

But I am most intrigued with L.A. Noire, the new game released by Rockstar. Since I have not played the game -- yet -- this is not a review of L.A. Noire but rather my thoughts on why this seems like a game players of any age can relate.

L.A. Noire melds a classic mystery with social issues without, as the articles I read indicated, being heavy-handed.

L.A. Noire is definitely a game but you also don't get lost in the need to blow up things as with many video games.

L.A. Noire is set in early 1947, just before the horrible murder of actress Elizabeth Short was found. The still unsolved murder became known as the Black Dahlia because of the flower that Short often wore tucked behind an ear.

altThe game's main character is Cole Phelps, a L.A. police detective who was a decorated Marine during World War II. (At left is a scene from the game.)

In L.A. Noire, players follow Phelps through each aspect of police work, including other murders that occured just after the Black Dahlia.

Cole constantly fights his own demons as he tries to adjust from the violence of WWII to civilian life and police work.

Video games seldom show the post-traumatic stress of war veterans. The problems of WWII veterans especially were never really given a platform by society as were those by Vietnam vets and those who served in the Gulf wars.

The members of the Greatest Generation were expected to come back home, get married and get to work. There wasn't a lot of opportunity or concern about what these young men had gone through during the trenches of WWII.

Perhaps the only medium that illustrated WWII veterans' problems were the noir films.

The Blue Dahlia, released in 1946, was about an ex-bomber pilot suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife. It starred Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake; the script is credited to Raymond Chandler. Gun Crazy (1950) revolved around a former WWII marksman whose criminal tendencies are released by his new girlfriend. Gun Crazy also is presented as part of a film noir package. (I'll have more of these movies in a future blog.)

But to have a video game that is decidedly 21st century acknowledge these problems and honor WWII veterans is pretty amazing.

Perhaps L.A. Noire also will draw its players to the mystery fiction genre. It might even attract readers to play video games.

L.A. Noire: Video Game
Oline Cogdill
la-noire-video-game

I never got into the video game kick.

altThat's just as well because I'm really bad at video games as I discovered during the few games of Wii with my godchildren. Oh yes, I've have lost big time to a 12-year-old, an 8-year-old and the 6-year-old. So instead of video games, I spend more time than I should on Facebook.

But I am most intrigued with L.A. Noire, the new game released by Rockstar. Since I have not played the game -- yet -- this is not a review of L.A. Noire but rather my thoughts on why this seems like a game players of any age can relate.

L.A. Noire melds a classic mystery with social issues without, as the articles I read indicated, being heavy-handed.

L.A. Noire is definitely a game but you also don't get lost in the need to blow up things as with many video games.

L.A. Noire is set in early 1947, just before the horrible murder of actress Elizabeth Short was found. The still unsolved murder became known as the Black Dahlia because of the flower that Short often wore tucked behind an ear.

altThe game's main character is Cole Phelps, a L.A. police detective who was a decorated Marine during World War II. (At left is a scene from the game.)

In L.A. Noire, players follow Phelps through each aspect of police work, including other murders that occured just after the Black Dahlia.

Cole constantly fights his own demons as he tries to adjust from the violence of WWII to civilian life and police work.

Video games seldom show the post-traumatic stress of war veterans. The problems of WWII veterans especially were never really given a platform by society as were those by Vietnam vets and those who served in the Gulf wars.

The members of the Greatest Generation were expected to come back home, get married and get to work. There wasn't a lot of opportunity or concern about what these young men had gone through during the trenches of WWII.

Perhaps the only medium that illustrated WWII veterans' problems were the noir films.

The Blue Dahlia, released in 1946, was about an ex-bomber pilot suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife. It starred Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake; the script is credited to Raymond Chandler. Gun Crazy (1950) revolved around a former WWII marksman whose criminal tendencies are released by his new girlfriend. Gun Crazy also is presented as part of a film noir package. (I'll have more of these movies in a future blog.)

But to have a video game that is decidedly 21st century acknowledge these problems and honor WWII veterans is pretty amazing.

Perhaps L.A. Noire also will draw its players to the mystery fiction genre. It might even attract readers to play video games.