Two Authors for Teenage Girls
Oline H. Cogdill

king_laurie2009

Author Laurie R. King

I wish Laurie R. King had been writing her Mary Russell novels when I was 13.That would be impossible since I have a sneaking suspicion we are around the same age. But I would have loved to have had a character like Mary Russell when I was around 13. Or 12. Or 15. Or any of those ages when I was devouring just about everything my hometown library had. I breezed through the most interesting books in the children’s library and by the time I was ready for more, there just didn’t seem to be anything that interested me.

king_languageofbeesMost girls my age would have immediately latched onto Nancy Drew. I didn’t. I don’t know why, but I didn’t. Maybe my library didn’t have them. Maybe they just didn’t interest me (though I can’t imagine that). Maybe they were checked out at the time. So instead I turned to Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Mary Roberts Rhinehart. My mother was a big mystery fan and she had these wonderful hardcovers that were something like 59 cents. They were a wonderful introduction to mysteries. If only Mary Russell would have been around. This would have been not only a heroine I could admire but also someone around my age. Someone who could have been not just a character but also a friend. I would have read every one of Mary’s adventures, probably reread them and then started on Sherlock Holmes.

Fortunately, Mary Russell is around for this generation and future generations of girls. I firmly believe that these novels will go the distance—that they will be read 30 years from now, and maybe beyond that. King’s Mary Russell novels were the first ones I recommended when a friend of my husband’s asked me for mystery suggestions for her 12-year-old. They also often are the first ones I recommend when women readers say they want something intelligent but not violent. (Actually, I have a lot of mystery authors whom I can recommend who fit that criteria.)

bradley_sweetnessatthebottomofthepieKing’s Mary Russell novels go across generations. By the way, my profile of Laurie R. King is the cover of the Spring 2009 Issue of Mystery Scene. She was a delight to chat with. Her latest Mary Russell is The Language of Bees.

I also am going to start recommending The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. It’s about an 11-year-old aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce, a bright, lonely girl who just feels alienated from her family. Some of the books she reads and the quotes she references are not in the lexicon of most 21st century girls. But I think a bright child would enjoy the connection to Flavia. I think I would have.

This article originally appeared on the MS Blog May 24, 2009.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-15 17:14:05

teen_girl_readingLaurie R. King's Mary Russell and Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce, two intelligent heroines for all ages.

Bruce Desilva's Rogue Island Poetic Turn
Oline Cogdill
titleAs I have written about countless times, I love finding those inside jokes in mysteries. It never fails to make me smile to read about a character reading another author's work. It's a nice homage from one author to another.
Bruce DeSilva's debut novel Rogue Island is loaded with these references. DeSilva's hero is old-school newspaperman Liam Mulligan, who covers Providence, Rhode Island. He grew up in the area and knows every inch of his hometown as well as being
on a first-name basis with mobsters, bookies, cops, fire fighters, attorneys and strippers – mainly from his childhood.
Liam also is an avid reader. During the course of Rogue Island, Liam shows his good taste in novels with references to Dennis Lehane, Robert Parker, Ken Bruen and Tim Dorsey.
But tough-guy Liam draws the line at poetry. When a friend begins to read a slim volume of poetry by Boston poet Patricia Smith, Liam calls her "some lame poet." In the next scene balks when his lady friend wants to read aloud some of Smith's work.
But when he hears the poem -- which DeSilva includes -- he quickly changes his mind about poetry. Liam also wants to see the poet's photo and calls Smith "hot."
alt
I doubt that Smith's husband would object to Liam calling her "hot" because she is married to DeSilva. And I am sure that by now Smith has forgiven Liam for calling her lame, because she is anything but. This reference is an amusing way for DeSilva to pay homage to his wife's work and it also fits nicely in the story.
Patricia Smith is an award-winning poet and performance artist and a four-time national individual champion of the notorious Poetry National Slam.
In his debut, DeSilva, former Associated Press reporter, delivers a strong, well-plotted
mystery. Rogue Island looks at organized crime, political conspiracies and the newspaper industry. And a bit of poetry, too.
PHOTO: Patricia Smith and Bruce DeSilva in San Francisco
Xav ID 577
2010-11-24 10:17:05
titleAs I have written about countless times, I love finding those inside jokes in mysteries. It never fails to make me smile to read about a character reading another author's work. It's a nice homage from one author to another.
Bruce DeSilva's debut novel Rogue Island is loaded with these references. DeSilva's hero is old-school newspaperman Liam Mulligan, who covers Providence, Rhode Island. He grew up in the area and knows every inch of his hometown as well as being
on a first-name basis with mobsters, bookies, cops, fire fighters, attorneys and strippers – mainly from his childhood.
Liam also is an avid reader. During the course of Rogue Island, Liam shows his good taste in novels with references to Dennis Lehane, Robert Parker, Ken Bruen and Tim Dorsey.
But tough-guy Liam draws the line at poetry. When a friend begins to read a slim volume of poetry by Boston poet Patricia Smith, Liam calls her "some lame poet." In the next scene balks when his lady friend wants to read aloud some of Smith's work.
But when he hears the poem -- which DeSilva includes -- he quickly changes his mind about poetry. Liam also wants to see the poet's photo and calls Smith "hot."
alt
I doubt that Smith's husband would object to Liam calling her "hot" because she is married to DeSilva. And I am sure that by now Smith has forgiven Liam for calling her lame, because she is anything but. This reference is an amusing way for DeSilva to pay homage to his wife's work and it also fits nicely in the story.
Patricia Smith is an award-winning poet and performance artist and a four-time national individual champion of the notorious Poetry National Slam.
In his debut, DeSilva, former Associated Press reporter, delivers a strong, well-plotted
mystery. Rogue Island looks at organized crime, political conspiracies and the newspaper industry. And a bit of poetry, too.
PHOTO: Patricia Smith and Bruce DeSilva in San Francisco
Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane and Fatherhood
Oline Cogdill
altFor personal reasons, I've been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between fathers and daughters. Sure, expand it to fathers and sons and even to parents and their children. For the record, I was lucky in that I was close to both of my parents and not a
day goes by that I don't miss them both and wish I could share what is going on in our lives.
But right now, I am thinking about fathers and daughters because that is what this blog is about.
In their latest novels, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane not only deliver enthralling plots but also their individual look at fathers and daughters add a richness to the subtext of their novels. I've gone on record before as praising both Connelly and Lehane, whose novels both often land high on my best of lists. And both maintain their high standards with Connelly's The Reversal and Lehane's Moonlight Mile.
titleIn The Reversal, Connelly's series hero Harry Bosch is dealing with the daily challenges of fatherhood for the first time. And to make the "challenge" even harder, Bosch's daughter is a young teenager. During the course of The Reversal, Bosch tries to find evidence that will prove a convicted murderer who was recently exonerated truly is guilty.
That plot alone would be enough challenge but Bosch also is learning how to be a father because he has only recently taken custody of his 14-year-old daughter, as well as learning how to be part of an extended family. Neither will come easy.
Lehane returns to his career-making series about Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro in Moonlight Mile. Patrick and Angie, now married and the parents of a 4-year-old daughter, are pulled back into the case of Amanda McCready who was 4 years old when she was kidnapped in Gone Baby Gone (1998). Now 16 years old, Amanda has gone missing again. It's not lost on Patrick that his own child is the same age that Amanda was when she was kidnapped more than a dozen years ago.
(For a more in-depth look at Lehane, check out the profile of him in the Winter issue of Mystery Scene.)
Rather than take away from the gritty plots, each author makes their hero's homelife a vital part of the story, showing the humanity in each detective. Harry and Patrick have more to lose now that they are fathers and each has to think about their child's safety,
wrestle with child care issues and how to show affection when their jobs often require stoicism.
It's especially interesting to see the stages of fatherhood that both Connelly and Lehane depict. Connelly and Lehane are both fathers and the age of their own daughters are close to that of their characters' daughters. Connelly nails the push-pull relationship of a teenager with her father, the need for independence and the need for supervision.
Lehane's scenes with Patrick and his daughter show goofiness that dads can be with their little ones and yet in several scenes Patrick acknowledges that fatherhood isn't easy.
Never once do Connelly or Lehane allow these scenes to become overly sentimental or maudlin. The scenes fit well in the course of the novel and add to each novel's richness. One time, decades ago, readers never had an inkling about a detective's private life because they didn't have one. Thank goodness times have changed.
In these two terrific novels, both Connelly and Lehane have each offered a tribute of sorts to fathers and daughters. I know I thought about my own late father as I read each.
Dennis Lehane will be one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest March 3-6, 2011, in Fort Lauderdale. Registration is now open.
Xav ID 577
2010-12-12 10:33:30
altFor personal reasons, I've been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between fathers and daughters. Sure, expand it to fathers and sons and even to parents and their children. For the record, I was lucky in that I was close to both of my parents and not a
day goes by that I don't miss them both and wish I could share what is going on in our lives.
But right now, I am thinking about fathers and daughters because that is what this blog is about.
In their latest novels, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane not only deliver enthralling plots but also their individual look at fathers and daughters add a richness to the subtext of their novels. I've gone on record before as praising both Connelly and Lehane, whose novels both often land high on my best of lists. And both maintain their high standards with Connelly's The Reversal and Lehane's Moonlight Mile.
titleIn The Reversal, Connelly's series hero Harry Bosch is dealing with the daily challenges of fatherhood for the first time. And to make the "challenge" even harder, Bosch's daughter is a young teenager. During the course of The Reversal, Bosch tries to find evidence that will prove a convicted murderer who was recently exonerated truly is guilty.
That plot alone would be enough challenge but Bosch also is learning how to be a father because he has only recently taken custody of his 14-year-old daughter, as well as learning how to be part of an extended family. Neither will come easy.
Lehane returns to his career-making series about Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro in Moonlight Mile. Patrick and Angie, now married and the parents of a 4-year-old daughter, are pulled back into the case of Amanda McCready who was 4 years old when she was kidnapped in Gone Baby Gone (1998). Now 16 years old, Amanda has gone missing again. It's not lost on Patrick that his own child is the same age that Amanda was when she was kidnapped more than a dozen years ago.
(For a more in-depth look at Lehane, check out the profile of him in the Winter issue of Mystery Scene.)
Rather than take away from the gritty plots, each author makes their hero's homelife a vital part of the story, showing the humanity in each detective. Harry and Patrick have more to lose now that they are fathers and each has to think about their child's safety,
wrestle with child care issues and how to show affection when their jobs often require stoicism.
It's especially interesting to see the stages of fatherhood that both Connelly and Lehane depict. Connelly and Lehane are both fathers and the age of their own daughters are close to that of their characters' daughters. Connelly nails the push-pull relationship of a teenager with her father, the need for independence and the need for supervision.
Lehane's scenes with Patrick and his daughter show goofiness that dads can be with their little ones and yet in several scenes Patrick acknowledges that fatherhood isn't easy.
Never once do Connelly or Lehane allow these scenes to become overly sentimental or maudlin. The scenes fit well in the course of the novel and add to each novel's richness. One time, decades ago, readers never had an inkling about a detective's private life because they didn't have one. Thank goodness times have changed.
In these two terrific novels, both Connelly and Lehane have each offered a tribute of sorts to fathers and daughters. I know I thought about my own late father as I read each.
Dennis Lehane will be one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest March 3-6, 2011, in Fort Lauderdale. Registration is now open.
Offbeat Anthology Gifts for Supernatural Mystery Fans
Kevin Burton Smith

stabenow_unusualsuspectsHere there be dragons. And vampires. And not-so-jolly old elves. For cozy lovers looking for something a little off the beaten track, the Dana Stabenow-edited (and aptly titled) Unusual Suspects (Ace, $14.00 tpb, $7.99 mmpb) makes for an ideal stocking stuffer. Like its predecessor, Powers of Detection (2006), this cheeky little paperback offers a refreshing and (mostly) lighthearted collection of stories that blur—and sometimes completely erase—the line between mystery and fantasy. Of course the big draw here is a new Sookie Stackhouse tale by Charlaine Harris, but other detectives include Humphrey Bogart, back from the dead, and Santa himself. Contributors include John Straley, Sharon Shinn, Laura Anne Gilman, Simon Green and Laurie King. Face it, toots: you ain’t in Kansas anymore.

Also straddling genres is Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side (Berkley, $24.95). If you enjoyed Unusual Suspects, then you’re going to love this stunning collection of 20 all original mystery/fantasy stories. It’s sure to appeal to the True Blood/Twilight crowd. Heck, it’s even edited by current mystery/fantasy go-to gal Charlaine “Sookie, Sookie, Sookie” Harris, who chips in another tasty tale from the ever-expanding Sookiverse.

harris_crimesbymoonlightBut there are more than just bloodsuckers on tap here—there are ghosts, werewolves, witches, phantom ships, and psychics. Mike Hammer even shows up, in a supernaturally-tingled hardboiled tale by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Parnell Hall serves up a tongue-in-cheek (or is it fang-in-neck?) send up of the whole mystery/fantasy craze in “Death of a Vampire.” Other guests at this feast include Harley Jane Kozak, Lou Kemp, William Kent Krueger, Margaret Maron, and Carolyn Hart, Steve Brewer, Barbara D'Amato, Brendan DuBois, Elaine Viets and Mike Wiecek. Got your silver bullets? Lock and load.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-15 19:54:00

stabenow_unusualsuspectsTwo collections edited by Dana Stabenow and Charlaine Harris make hauntingly good holiday gifts for supernatural mystery lovers.

Kathy Reichs and Science
Oline Cogdill
altNot every part of an interview makes it into the final story. It just can't. There is never enough space to include every topic, every quote, every bon mot that comes out during the course of an interview.
I often ask a lot of questions and try to include as much in an author profile to give the reader a good sense of who that person is. But still, so much is left on the cutting floor.
During my interview with Kathy Reichs, which is the cover story of the Fall 2010 issue of Mystery Scene, she and I talked a lot of about science.
Reichs writes the novels about Temperance Brennan, a fortysomething forensics anthropologist who returns in the newly released Spider Bones. That mirrors Reichs other occupation. Dr. Reichs, who received her PhD. at Northwestern University, is one of only 82 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec, both of which she weaves in her novels.
So making sure the science aspects of her novels is correct is very important to Reichs. I wondered how her colleagues view her work.
"I get a lot of positive feedback from my scientific colleagues," she said. "It very gratifying to hear from medical school professors or my other colleagues that they like the books. The best thing I can hear is about my books is 'you got it right.' That is so rewarding for me."

Admin
2010-11-21 10:59:24
altNot every part of an interview makes it into the final story. It just can't. There is never enough space to include every topic, every quote, every bon mot that comes out during the course of an interview.
I often ask a lot of questions and try to include as much in an author profile to give the reader a good sense of who that person is. But still, so much is left on the cutting floor.
During my interview with Kathy Reichs, which is the cover story of the Fall 2010 issue of Mystery Scene, she and I talked a lot of about science.
Reichs writes the novels about Temperance Brennan, a fortysomething forensics anthropologist who returns in the newly released Spider Bones. That mirrors Reichs other occupation. Dr. Reichs, who received her PhD. at Northwestern University, is one of only 82 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec, both of which she weaves in her novels.
So making sure the science aspects of her novels is correct is very important to Reichs. I wondered how her colleagues view her work.
"I get a lot of positive feedback from my scientific colleagues," she said. "It very gratifying to hear from medical school professors or my other colleagues that they like the books. The best thing I can hear is about my books is 'you got it right.' That is so rewarding for me."

Blog Together Now
Oline H. Cogdill

There is power in a group. At least writing power. Authors who blog together not only seem to attract fans together but it means less work for each of those authors. After all, I would rather an author be working on a novel than spending time writing a blog.

As one who writes two blogs, this one for Mystery Scene, and also Off the Page for the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, I know how much time these can take. Blogs are also a great procrastination tool...which is pretty much a hobby for every writer I know.

While I am not convinced that authors who blog by themselves really draw in the fans, I think that those who do it as a group do. No, this is not based on any scientific research, or even any feeble research, or any research at all. Instead it is just a gut feeling that comes from attending myriad mystery writers conferences since 1995. I’ve seen first-hand the community of mystery writers; how when a fan approaches one that writer will beam and express their thanks but also point out a fellow writer or two that the fan may also like. That always seemed to me to be a win win situation—by the time the fan had read the other authors the first author’s new book would be out.

Another appeal of group blogs is that these are not just discussions of writing. Sometimes the posts are about dive bars, or reality shows or Susan Boyle or traveling. Just about all of them also feature guest blogs. Here’s some group blogs that I regularly check out. No, it is not a list of all the group blogs. I don’t mean to leave anyone out. So feel free to add your own blog to the comments section, or tell me what you think of these group blogs.

femmesfatales_blog
The Femmes Fatales
(Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Mary Saums, Donna Andrews, Dana Cameron, Kris Neri, Elaine Viets)

First, I love the name. Second, is this a set of powerhouse authors or what? This is a newsletter group that has been together for many years. While some members retired and the group suffered one death—the late Elizabeth Daniels Squire—the group continues.

junglesred_blog
Jungle Red Writers
(Hallie Ephron, Rosemary Harris, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Rhys Bowen, Jan Brogan, Roberta Isleib)

I also love the name of this blog. It makes me think of a great scene in the classic movie The Women (the first one, not the remakes). This group calls itself a salon of six mystery writers. Here, it’s all about writing. And not writing. And our search for motive in life, love, fiction and reality.

killzone_blog
The Kill Zone
(Michelle Gagnon, Joe Moore, John Gilstrap, John Ramsey Miller, Clare Langley-Hawthorne, James Scott Bell, How Hartlaub, Jordan Dane, Nancy Cohen, Kathryn Lilley)

OK, I admit, I have a self-serving interest in this blog. I was a guest blogger for a question and answer session. Here’s that link. The site often has guest bloggers, most of them authors.

lipstickchronicles_blog
The Lipstick Chronicles
(Nancy Martin, Sarah Strohmeyer, Elaine Viets, Harley Jane Kozak, Brunonia Barry, Nancy Pickard, Jacqueline Winspear, Kathy Reschini Sweeney, Cornelia Read, Louise Penny, Diane Chamberlain, Heather Graham, Margaret Maron, Hank Phillippi Ryan)

This site never fails to make me smile—how could it not when it’s billed as “Where the Book Tarts talk love, laughter, laundry and the mysteries of life.” But there are some serious subjects thoughtfully tackled.

nakedauthors_blog
Naked Authors
(Ridley Pearson, Jacqueline Winspear, Paul Levine, James O. Born, Patricia Smiley, Cornelia Read)

So much to like here even though it has quit publishing since March 2010. Still lots of fun content in the archives. Among the archived blogs, check out the one that James O. Born wrote about Susan Boyle, when she was first on Britain’s Got Talent. You just don’t expect this tough Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent to be so taken with Boyle’s singing.

outfit_blog
The Outfit
(Laura Caldwell, Sean Chercover, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen Dymmoch, David Ellis, Jamie Freveletti, Bryan Gruley, Kevin Guilfoile, David Heinzmann, Libby Hellmann, Marcus Sakey)

This group has some of the best authors (as do the other blogs I’ve mentioned) and it contains Chicago authors who blog about one of my favorite cities. Like other group blogs, the authors talk about writing as well as issues of the day.

During an interview with Marcus Sakey for Mystery Scene Issue #106, he told me that The Outfit got its biggest readership boost last year when Guilfoile, fed up with what he cited as shoddy reporting, began to post about the murder of a Chicago dermatologist and his suspected killer, a former patient who fled to France. Guilfoile’s posts were eventually picked up by the Chicago newspapers and television stations. Now that’s the power of writers.

poesdeadlydaughters_blog
Poe’s Deadly Daughters
(Lonnie Cruse, Sharon Wildwind, Elizabeth Zelvin, Sandra Parshall, Darlene Ryan, Julia Buckley)

The post about Charlie Brown suffering existential torment is just too cool for school.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-15 20:18:30

blog_in_penGreat group blogs from your favorite authors.

Brad Meltzer's Tv Series on History
Oline Cogdill

altHistory is one of the enduring mysteries. There is so much we don't know about what happened before us -- and, of course, we continue to repeat our mistakes.
Brad Meltzer is a history buff and he's about to take his love of the historical into homes with the new 10-part series Brad Meltzer's Decoded premiering at 10 p.m. Dec. 2 on the History channel. It will continue to air on Thursdays with encores.
Meltzer is known for his meticulous research, which has earned him so much respect that he was part of the Department of Homeland Security's Red Cell program, helping to explore new ways that terrorists may attack the U.S. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush have aided him in his research.
Teaming with a professor/journalist, a mechanical engineer and a trial lawyer, Meltzer will try to unravel some of our most provocative enigmas.
Brad Meltzer's Decoded's first episode investigates the secret presidential codes of Thomas Jefferson and how they may be partially responsible for the death of explorer, Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark. Meltzer finds that the Lewis family has been working for 15 years to exhume his body, but has been thwarted by the National Parks. This episode attempts to answer why the federal government is keeping the body buried against the family’s wishes and what really happened to this iconic explorer.
Meltzer is the author of seven novels, the non-fiction New York Times best-seller Heroes For My Son, and two acclaimed comic books. He is the first author to ever reach the No. 1 spot on both the New York Times and the Diamond comic book bestseller lists simultaneously. His newest thriller, The Inner Circle, will be released in January 2011.
Xav ID 577
2010-12-01 10:54:09

altHistory is one of the enduring mysteries. There is so much we don't know about what happened before us -- and, of course, we continue to repeat our mistakes.
Brad Meltzer is a history buff and he's about to take his love of the historical into homes with the new 10-part series Brad Meltzer's Decoded premiering at 10 p.m. Dec. 2 on the History channel. It will continue to air on Thursdays with encores.
Meltzer is known for his meticulous research, which has earned him so much respect that he was part of the Department of Homeland Security's Red Cell program, helping to explore new ways that terrorists may attack the U.S. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush have aided him in his research.
Teaming with a professor/journalist, a mechanical engineer and a trial lawyer, Meltzer will try to unravel some of our most provocative enigmas.
Brad Meltzer's Decoded's first episode investigates the secret presidential codes of Thomas Jefferson and how they may be partially responsible for the death of explorer, Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark. Meltzer finds that the Lewis family has been working for 15 years to exhume his body, but has been thwarted by the National Parks. This episode attempts to answer why the federal government is keeping the body buried against the family’s wishes and what really happened to this iconic explorer.
Meltzer is the author of seven novels, the non-fiction New York Times best-seller Heroes For My Son, and two acclaimed comic books. He is the first author to ever reach the No. 1 spot on both the New York Times and the Diamond comic book bestseller lists simultaneously. His newest thriller, The Inner Circle, will be released in January 2011.
Luther on Bbc America
Oline Cogdill
altOne of my new favorite TV shows is old to many viewers.
Luther is one of the grittiest, darkest police dramas to come around in a while. It's also one of the most fascinating.
Luther, now airing on BBC America, stars Idris Elba as Luther, an intelligent detective whose own torments mirror those of the criminals he hunts. Luther is emotional, impulsive and prone to take the law into his own hands. He is both appealing and repulsive and
impossible to resist.
Luther is as much a psychological thriller as it is a police procedural, giving an insider's view to the mean streets of London.
The smart scripts are matched by the insightful performance by Elba, who also was so wonderful as Stringer Bell in HBO's brilliant series The Wire.
Luther airs on BBC America on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT and 9 p.m. CST.
The finale is tonight, Nov. 28. And judging from last week's amazing, emotional roller coaster, this should be quite an episode. (For those trying to catch up, Luther is available On Demand.)
Xav ID 577
2010-11-28 10:42:45
altOne of my new favorite TV shows is old to many viewers.
Luther is one of the grittiest, darkest police dramas to come around in a while. It's also one of the most fascinating.
Luther, now airing on BBC America, stars Idris Elba as Luther, an intelligent detective whose own torments mirror those of the criminals he hunts. Luther is emotional, impulsive and prone to take the law into his own hands. He is both appealing and repulsive and
impossible to resist.
Luther is as much a psychological thriller as it is a police procedural, giving an insider's view to the mean streets of London.
The smart scripts are matched by the insightful performance by Elba, who also was so wonderful as Stringer Bell in HBO's brilliant series The Wire.
Luther airs on BBC America on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT and 9 p.m. CST.
The finale is tonight, Nov. 28. And judging from last week's amazing, emotional roller coaster, this should be quite an episode. (For those trying to catch up, Luther is available On Demand.)
Sara Paretsky Mwa Grand Master
Oline Cogdill
titleSometime this week, the Mystery Writers of America will announce the nominees for its annual Edgar Awards, which, anyone who follows the genre knows are the Oscars of the mystery world.
But a couple of months ago, it was announced that Sara Paretsky has been named the 2011 Grand Master, a wonderful addition MWA's long list of worthy Grand Masters.

According to the MWA release, the "Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality."

I would agree with that.
Paretsky revolutionalized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced detective V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. A woman private detective? It seemed like heresy when, during the span of two years, Paretsky, Sue Grafton and Marica Mueller all brought in strong women detectives.

V.I. Warshawski, like the other women detectives used her wits and she challenged a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims.
altThe rest is history. Or in the case of Paretsky, 16 novels, several short story anthologies and a book of essays. Her latest novel is Body Work.

Paretsky and the other mystery writers opened the door to mysteries as we know them today -- a divserse genre full of diverse detectives from different ethic and sexual backgrounds, myriad regions and foreign countries. I doubt we would have gay detectives today if Paretsky and crew hadn't shown readers that fighting for justice isn't just for white men.
I would say she also helped usher in the regional mystery. Her view of Chicago was spot-on. I was talking with my brother-in-law, Thomas, just last night about Paretsky. He and his wife, Lee, lived in Chicago and he also believed that Paretsky nailed the city. One of my closest friends, Toni, lives in Chicago and it's a city I love. Paretsky's novels are mini travelogues of The Windy City.
By the way, Paretsky was profiled in Mystery Scene, Holiday Issue 2009, No. 112.

I started reading mysteries when I was about 9 years old but there was a time when the genre wasn't speaking to me. Sara, Sue and Marcia are among the reasons I came back to mystieres and why I love the genre and why I began reviewing mysteries.
So next time I slam someone's novel, you can blame them.
I had the pleasure of having Sara on a panel during the most recent Bouchercon in San Francisco. It was unclear up until the moment she walked into the room if Sara would make it. She had an event that morning in Idaho and, well, you know how lovely and reliable airline travel is.
At the last minute she was able to make it and she added so much to the panel.


Sara Paretsky will receive her award at The Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28.

As soon as the nominees for this year's Edgars are announced, we'll post them, too.

Xav ID 577
2011-01-16 10:55:25
titleSometime this week, the Mystery Writers of America will announce the nominees for its annual Edgar Awards, which, anyone who follows the genre knows are the Oscars of the mystery world.
But a couple of months ago, it was announced that Sara Paretsky has been named the 2011 Grand Master, a wonderful addition MWA's long list of worthy Grand Masters.

According to the MWA release, the "Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality."

I would agree with that.
Paretsky revolutionalized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced detective V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. A woman private detective? It seemed like heresy when, during the span of two years, Paretsky, Sue Grafton and Marica Mueller all brought in strong women detectives.

V.I. Warshawski, like the other women detectives used her wits and she challenged a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims.
altThe rest is history. Or in the case of Paretsky, 16 novels, several short story anthologies and a book of essays. Her latest novel is Body Work.

Paretsky and the other mystery writers opened the door to mysteries as we know them today -- a divserse genre full of diverse detectives from different ethic and sexual backgrounds, myriad regions and foreign countries. I doubt we would have gay detectives today if Paretsky and crew hadn't shown readers that fighting for justice isn't just for white men.
I would say she also helped usher in the regional mystery. Her view of Chicago was spot-on. I was talking with my brother-in-law, Thomas, just last night about Paretsky. He and his wife, Lee, lived in Chicago and he also believed that Paretsky nailed the city. One of my closest friends, Toni, lives in Chicago and it's a city I love. Paretsky's novels are mini travelogues of The Windy City.
By the way, Paretsky was profiled in Mystery Scene, Holiday Issue 2009, No. 112.

I started reading mysteries when I was about 9 years old but there was a time when the genre wasn't speaking to me. Sara, Sue and Marcia are among the reasons I came back to mystieres and why I love the genre and why I began reviewing mysteries.
So next time I slam someone's novel, you can blame them.
I had the pleasure of having Sara on a panel during the most recent Bouchercon in San Francisco. It was unclear up until the moment she walked into the room if Sara would make it. She had an event that morning in Idaho and, well, you know how lovely and reliable airline travel is.
At the last minute she was able to make it and she added so much to the panel.


Sara Paretsky will receive her award at The Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28.

As soon as the nominees for this year's Edgars are announced, we'll post them, too.

Sara Paretsky Announced as 2011 Mwa Grand Master
Teri Duerr

paretsky_sara

The author Sara Paretsky has been named the recipient of the 2011 Mystery Writers of America (MWA) Grand Master Award, the highest honor given by the organization in recognition of extraordinary career achievement and contribution to the mystery genre.

Paretsky is best known for her award-winning V.I. Warshawski series, launched in 1982 with the publication of Indemnity Only. The series was one of the first to feature a gutsy female private investigator, now a favorite prototype of the genre. Decades later, the Chicago PI continues to be a protaganist remarkable for her intelligence, backbone, and humanity in works that have consistently refused to shy away from weighty issues ranging from 9/11 to health care to violence against women. In between penning a dozen Warshawski novels, Paretsky founded Sisters in Crime in 1986, and generated two standalone novels, a collection of short stories, and 2007 memoir, Writing in the Age of Silence.

"I'm so glad to win this," said Paretsky in a statement released by the MWA. "I'm glad to have this as my very own."

The Grand Master Award will be presented to Paretsky at the MWA Edgar Awards Banquet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on April 28, 2011. A PDF version of the full press release is available here.

alt

Mystery Scene extends our heartfelt congratulations to Sara Paretsky on her honor. For more on the author Sara Paretsky from Mystery Scene, please see our #112 Holiday 2009 Issue, featuring a cover story with the author.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-18 17:11:21

paretsky_sara

The author Sara Paretsky has been named the recipient of the 2011 Mystery Writers of America (MWA) Grand Master Award, the highest honor given by the organization in recognition of extraordinary career achievement and contribution to the mystery genre.

Paretsky is best known for her award-winning V.I. Warshawski series, launched in 1982 with the publication of Indemnity Only. The series was one of the first to feature a gutsy female private investigator, now a favorite prototype of the genre. Decades later, the Chicago PI continues to be a protaganist remarkable for her intelligence, backbone, and humanity in works that have consistently refused to shy away from weighty issues ranging from 9/11 to health care to violence against women. In between penning a dozen Warshawski novels, Paretsky founded Sisters in Crime in 1986, and generated two standalone novels, a collection of short stories, and 2007 memoir, Writing in the Age of Silence.

"I'm so glad to win this," said Paretsky in a statement released by the MWA. "I'm glad to have this as my very own."

The Grand Master Award will be presented to Paretsky at the MWA Edgar Awards Banquet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on April 28, 2011. A PDF version of the full press release is available here.

alt

Mystery Scene extends our heartfelt congratulations to Sara Paretsky on her honor. For more on the author Sara Paretsky from Mystery Scene, please see our #112 Holiday 2009 Issue, featuring a cover story with the author.

Ms Gift Guide: Dvd Picks
Kevin Burton Smith & Mystery Scene

After a satisfying meal of roast beast, an evening of snuggling and television might be in order. So, while the snow piles up outside, consider one of these picks for the holidays.

boredtodeath_dvdseason1

Bored to Death: First Season (2009)
HBO Home Video, 2010, $39.98

Jason Schwartzman plays the novelist Jonathan Ames, a struggling novelist with a broken heart, suspiciously luxurious floppy locks, a white wine and pot addiction, and a comically misguided urge to play at being a Brooklyn gumshoe. ("Hey, my Craigslist ad says I'm unlicensed, so it's legal. Sort of.")

Ted Danson as Jonathan's utterly urbane NYC editor steals the show, but Zach Galifianakis also delivers as the insouciant best friend. Season one of this gently-neurotic, weirdly postmodern PI tale has Jonathan, Raymond Chandler pulp in his trench pocket, tracking down missing persons, retrieving a stolen skateboard, and braving Russian thugs down in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach.
Click to buy

monklimitededitioncompletedvdMonk: The Obsessively Complete Series Limited Edition Box Set
Universal Studio, 2010, $249.98

A Columbo played for bigger laughs, a Hercule Poirot with more quirks, a Sherlock Holmes without the bravado—however you want to peg him, the obsessive-compulsive police consultant with more issues than a magazine stand is immensely popular. Monk could have been a tasteless and cruel parody, but as played by Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, he was never less than sympathetic to viewers—a Chaplinesque Everyman who may have even taught a few people some lessons in tolerance and acceptance. Love it or hate it, this was the face of TV detectives in the first decade of the new millennium: character driven and slightly tongue-in-cheek. Loaded with extras that include hours of special features and an exclusive, collectible 32-page book, Monk: The Obsessively Complete Series Limited Edition Box Set collects all eight seasons in a 32-disc set. Pass the sanitizer! And don't touch the pencils!
Click to buy

torchyblanecollectiondvd

The Torchy Blane Collection (1936-1939)
Warner Bros., 2010, $39.95

The Torchy Blane Collection finally collects all nine B flicks from the 1930s featuring motormouth newshawk Torchy Blane and her long-suffering lunkhead cop boyfriend, MacBride. Glenda Farrell shines as Torchy while Barton MacLane as MacBride gamely does his best to keep up. The films are far more fun than they have any right to be, with the plots screwballing by so quickly that all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. As one disgruntled cop puts it, "You ain't no lady, Torchy. You're a reporter!"
Click to buy

no1_ladiesdetective_season1dvdThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (2009)
HBO Home Video, 2009, $59.99

The HBO adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, now available on DVD, and starring singer Jill Scott as everyone’s favorite traditionally built private eye. The set contains all seven episodes of this joint BBC/HBO production, including the acclaimed pilot, directed by the late noted filmmaker Anthony Minghella.
Click to buy

botswanainthefootstepsDVDAnd for those who can’t get enough of Precious, the hour-long travelogue Botswana: In the Footsteps of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Kultur Video, $19.99) follows Smith as he travels to the heart of Botswana, where he introduces viewers to the country’s unique character and sometimes dangerous charms, which include everything from lions and pythons to a visit to the SOS Children’s Village.
Click to buy

modsquadseason2dvdThe Mod Squad Season 2, Volume 2 (1968)
Paramount, 2009, $39.98

For those who prefer their crime on the groovy side, there’s always the The Mod Squad, two seasons now available over 4 discs (most recent pictured here). Sure, there’s new shows out on disc as well, but none can hope to deliver coolness, or even simple cheesy yumminess, like the originals featuring Clarence Williams III as Link.
Click to buy

vincentDVDVincent (2005)
Image Entertainment, 2007, $29.99

Of course there’s a whole world of quality video crime out there. The first series of Vincent shows that while the gimmick-free PI show may be struggling on this side of the pond (Vampires! Demons! Time travel! Time-traveling vampires!), it’s still viable in the UK, where sad-sack everyman Vincent Gallagher (Ray Winstone) and his motley crew of gumshoes have the best gimmick of all working for them—good acting and good writing.
Click to buy

More like this - "MS Gift Guide: Spy Kids"
Don't miss even more DVD picks in our Holiday Issue #117 out now.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-19 15:33:44

boredtodeath_dvdseason1Mystery Scene picks some old and new DVD favorites from our gift guides.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2010
Jon L. Breen

Each year series editor Otto Penzler reads voluminously among the year’s crime and mystery stories, very broadly defined, and selects 50 he likes the best. These are passed along to a guest editor, this year Lee Child, who narrows the field to 20 for inclusion in the annual volume of The Best American Mystery Stories. Those not selected are noted in a list of the year’s “Other Distinguished Mystery Stories.” In a valuable section of contributors’ notes the authors are invited to comment on the origins of their stories.

This is the fourth consecutive year I’ve done a full-scale review of this annual anthology, 2007 and 2008 in these pages, 2009 in The Weekly Standard. While Penzler and his guest editors have always provided good reading, I’ve complained about the over-emphasis on usually excellent but sometimes empty and pretentious stories from literary magazines and the comparative shortage of stories with the attributes—deceptive and intricate plotting, surprise, detection—that make the mystery a unique genre. This year, things are looking up.

The principal magazine markets are better represented than has been the case recently. Three entries are drawn from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and one from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. (The honorable mention list includes another five from EQMM and four from AHMM.) Original anthologies account for half of Child’s 20 selections, literary journals for another five, and a posthumous single-author collection for one.

Five stories are standouts. Doug Allyn’s EQMM tale “An Early Christmas,” set in Northern Michigan, recounts the investigation of a lawyer’s death in a flaming car wreck. A genuine detective story, it superbly combines elements of theme, plot, character, and background. Score one for the genre magazines. The tale that immediately follows is equally distinguished but quite different. Mary Stewart Atwell’s “Maynard,” the very short but dense with incident account of a pregnant woman’s flight, challenges the reader with complexity and rewards with ultimate clarity. Score one for the literary journals, specifically Alaska Quarterly Review. John Dufresne’s “The Cross-Eyed Bear,” from the anthology Boston Noir, is a grimly powerful study of a priest who claims innocence of molesting an altar boy 20 years before. This great story and the author’s equally impressive contribution to the 2007 volume, “The Timing of Unfelt Smiles,” will spur me to seek out his novels. Another Boston Noir entry, Dennis Lehane’s “Animal Rescue,” whose enigmatic protagonist finds a puppy in a trash can, is a deftly crafted study of loneliness and human connection. Lynda Leidiger’s “Tell Me,” from Gettysburg Review, is a story not of a crime but of a crime victim whose head injury has impaired her sight and robbed her of mobility. Her loved ones are unsure how to deal with her condition. With an indeterminate ending, the painfully affecting tale casts the reader as detective.

Other good stories point up the volume’s laudable variety. The protagonist of Matt Bell’s dark and chilling “Dredge,” a very offbeat sort of detective story, puts a dead girl in his freezer and sets out to find her murderer. Jay Brandon’s legal whodunit “A Jury of His Peers,” set in 1842 San Antonio, is based on a remarkable incident in Texas history. The late Phyllis Cohen’s “Designer Justice” is another good courtroom story with an interesting surprise twist. Lyndsay Faye’s “The Case of Colonel Warburton’s Madness” consolidates her reputation as one of the best newer writers of Sherlockian pastiche. Gar Anthony Haywood’s surprising “The First Rule Is” concerns a retired pro basketball star easily underestimated. Jon Land’s “Killing Time,” about a professional killer who takes the place of a middle-school teacher, is pure action thriller. Philip Margolin’s “The House on Pine Terrace,” in which a policewoman dates a rich man she earlier arrested in a call girl sting operation, is the kind of multi-twist novel-in-miniature that might have appealed to last year’s guest editor, Jeffery Deaver, who didn’t manage to select a single tale of his own sort. Chris Muessig’s “Bias,” a police procedural about the shooting of a gas station attendant, was an EQMM first story. Mike Wiecek’s whodunit “The Shipbreaker” has an unusual background of dismantling ships for scrap metal in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

vonnegut_kurt

Author Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut’s rare pure crime story “Ed Luby’s Key Club” apparently was written but went unpublished in the 1950s. Clearly intended as a serial, it concerns an innocent husband and wife framed for murder in a corrupt town run by a former Al Capone bodyguard. It’s not a great story but surely would have found a pulp magazine market at least. Possibly it was never submitted.

In Penzler’s foreword, he refers to the amateur detective who “has taken time off from his or her primary occupation of cooking, gardening, knitting, writing, hairdressing, or shopping,” a good-natured dig at the cozy school of contemporary mystery fiction. Albert Tucher’s “Bismarck Rules,” though not the least bit cozy, features an amateur detective with an unusual occupation, a prostitute who is hired to accompany an ex-con to his colonoscopy.

Other contributors of worthwhile stories are Gary Shytengart, Joseph Wallace, and Ryan Zimmerman. Only R.A. Allen’s “The Emerald Coast” recalled the reservations I’ve had about previous volumes. Small town crooks take out a serial killer in a dreary slice-of-life tale without much apparent point.

For variety of setting, tone, and type of story, along with an effort to live up to the title, 2010’s volume ranks first among the last four. For sheer literary quality, it ranks second only to the 2008 volume, edited by George Pelecanos.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-19 22:11:44

child_bestamericanmystery2010Jon L. Breen reviews the latest collection of stories in the annual Best of American Mystery series.

Ms Gift Guide: Holmes for the Holidays
Kevin Burton Smith & Mystery Scene

Can't seem to puzzle out the answer to what you're Sherlockian wants for the holidays? Mystery Scene has selected a few of our favorites from gift guides past and present to help you solve the case.

sherlockholmes_personalizednovel$29.99 Sherlock Holmes Personalized Novel

Even better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this mash-up of The Hound of the Baskervilles stars you! (Or your loved ones, or zombies if that's really what you're into.) You'll get to change the names of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Sir Henry Baskerville, Sir Charles Baskerville, Sir Hugo Baskerville, and Jack Stapleton. Register your customized changes and receive your own private edition, with your Holmes lover as the sleuthing star. If you're not planning on letting your giftee personalize his or her own work, order this one quick, as books have a 28-day turnaround from the time of registration.

Click to buy

sherlockholmes_limogebox$280 Sherlock Holmes
Limoge Box

Need a place to put those charm bracelets? How about a finely detailed, hand-painted, enameled porcelain (and eminently collectible) Limoges box? Sure to interest the discerning mystery fan are the Sherlock Holmes Limoges Box (www.limogesboutique.com, $254.00), which comes in the shape of two Holmes books, the upper one boasting arguably the most famous silhouette of all time (plus a teeny, tiny magnifying glass, also in porcelain), and the Edgar Allan Poe Limoges Box ($189.00) which features a book by Poe and—what else?—a raven.

doyle_sherlockholmesfordummies$19.99 Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle and David A. Crowder

Yes, it's true! The worlds's most popular fictional character finally comes to the world's most ubiquitous reference series, and the results are everything you'd expect: comprehensive, cheeky, and surprisingly readable, clearly written by someone who knows and loves their stuff. Except for the geekiest of geeks, this is more Holmes than most folks will ever need, featuring historical backgrounds, novel-by-novel breakdowns of the entire canon, plus memorable quotes, essays on Holmes' impact on literature, mystery writing, and detective work, subsequent portrayals in television and film, theatrical presentation, and pastiche.

Click to buy

royaldoultons_thedetective$280-$300 The Detective

For those of you not afraid of doing a little detective work yourself, may we suggest Royal Doulton’s The Detective? Designed by M. Nicoll, figurine #HN 2359, as the Royal Doulton folks call it, is increasingly difficult (but not yet impossible) to find and is highly sought after, particularly by Sherlock Holmes fans. This finely detailed reproduction of you-know-who has him in all his deerstalkered glory pondering a clue through his magnifying glass. He stands 9.25”, and was last issued in 1983, but is still available for under $300 dollars from various sources around the web. “Watson, my credit card. The game’s afoot!”

lostcasesofsherlockholmes

$19.99 The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes 2

(Legacy, available for PC/Mac), the logical sequel to last year’s acclaimed computer game, once again offers plenty of clever puzzles (and more than a few groaners from Watson), as Holmes stalks the streets of London to tackle 16 crimes of murder, theft, kidnapping and other forms of treachery. By the way, this is the first time a video game has been licensed by both the Sherlock Holmes Company and the Conan Doyle Estate.

Click to buy

culbard_hounofthebaskervilles$14.95 The Hound of the Baskervilles by I.N.J Culbard and Ian Edginton

I.N.J. Culbard and Ian Edginton’s masterful graphic novel adaptation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sterling, 2009) is purportedly aimed at young readers—Culbard’s artwork may seem almost goofy at times—but Doyle’s moody, atmospheric tale of murder on the moors and a family cursed by a bloodthirsty hound who may or may not exist is still gripping stuff, and will appeal to anyone of any age who enjoys a solid mystery. A few pages in, and you realize you’ve been marching straight into graphic novel quicksand. Even better, Holmes and Watson aren’t “re-envisioned” for a new generation of popcorn-munching, SFX-addicted morons—they’re presented straight up, the way they should be. A classic adaptation, classic all the way through.

Click to buy

swierczynski_crimesofdrwatson$24.95 The Crimes of Dr. Watson by John H. Watson, edited by Duane Swierczynski

Don’t feel like tromping through the moors this holiday? Investigate The Crimes of Dr. Watson (Quick Books, 2007), an attractive book that doubles as an interactive game, compiled by the Great Detective’s good buddy himself (with a little help from modern-day crime scribe Duane Swierczynski). It seems the good doctor isn’t having such a swell day—he’s rotting away in a cold, damp cell, accused (falsely) of a brutal murder. With Holmes MIA, Watson’s only hope is you, dear reader, and so he’s rounded up what scant evidence he can: fragments of a manuscript, a postcard with a cryptic message, a newspaper clipping, a catalogue of Victorian marital aids, a matchbook, a strange telegram, a police report, a train schedule, and a cover letter explaining it all. With beautiful Victorian-style illustrations and first-rate production values, The Crimes of Dr. Watson will appeal to mystery lovers of all ages.

Click to buy


Teri Duerr
2010-11-20 13:10:14

sherlockholmes_personalizednovelCan't seem to puzzle out the answer to what you're Sherlockian wants for the holidays?

The Best American Noir of the Century
Kevin Burton Smith

The Best American Noir of the Century, edited by Otto Penzler and James Ellroy features noir of the literary kind. For those of you for whom the shot glass is always half empty and the forecast is always grim, you can’t do much better this sterling collection of 39 tales from the darkness at the edge of town, full of characters doomed to bad choices and worse luck. You can gripe about the editors’ definition of noir or some of their omissions, but they’ve done a great job here, offering lesser known tales by such expected perpetrators as Cornell Woolrich, Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, Mickey Spillane, Evan Hunter and Patricia Highsmith as well as a few outliers, such as Dorothy B. Hughes, David “Rambo” Morrell and Lorenzo “Sleepers” Carcaterra and a few authors even the most devoted noir devotee may not be familiar with. Tod Robbins, anyone?

Teri Duerr
2010-11-22 14:39:11

ellroy_bestamericannoircenturyStories for those for whom the shot glass is always half empty.

The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories
Kevin Burton Smith

Many of the crime writing's top suspects are rounded up for The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories, edited by Penzler. Concentrating on stories from the greatest crime pulp of them all, this long-awaited collection of stories (a sequel of sorts to Penzler’s 2007 The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps), deals out a winning hand of over 50 hardboiled stories and complete novels from some of the greatest pulp writers to ever pound a typewriter, including Dashiell Hammett (whose "The Maltese Falcon" appears in the original—and much-different—serialized version), Raymond Chandler and Erle Stanley Gardner, of course, but also hard-to-find treasures from Raoul Whitfield, John D. MacDonald, Frederick Nebel, Lester Dent, Norbert Davis, Carroll John Daly, Paul Cain, Steve Fisher, James M. Cain and Horace McCoy. No tea cups, no cats—tough as a two-buck steak and gritty as a sandpaper massage, this is where your crime lover’s hardboiled education begins.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-22 14:50:16

Many of the crime writing's top suspects are rounded up for The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories, edited by Penzler. Concentrating on stories from the greatest crime pulp of them all, this long-awaited collection of stories (a sequel of sorts to Penzler’s 2007 The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps), deals out a winning hand of over 50 hardboiled stories and complete novels from some of the greatest pulp writers to ever pound a typewriter, including Dashiell Hammett (whose "The Maltese Falcon" appears in the original—and much-different—serialized version), Raymond Chandler and Erle Stanley Gardner, of course, but also hard-to-find treasures from Raoul Whitfield, John D. MacDonald, Frederick Nebel, Lester Dent, Norbert Davis, Carroll John Daly, Paul Cain, Steve Fisher, James M. Cain and Horace McCoy. No tea cups, no cats—tough as a two-buck steak and gritty as a sandpaper massage, this is where your crime lover’s hardboiled education begins.

The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women
Kevin Burton Smith

Fans of James Ellroy never seem to get tired of hearing—and the author himself never seems to get tired of telling—the story of his misbegotten youth. By now the faithful know it by heart: his parents’ troubled marriage and divorce, his mother’s subsequent murder (still unsolved), his wild years of substance abuse as a second story creeper and panty-sniffer, and his final crawl out of the murk to become one of the most celebrated crime fiction authors in the world (the French love him almost as much as Jerry Lewis).

He’s at it again in his second memoir, digging even deeper into himself. The Hilliker Curse (Knopf, $24.95) is a must-read for anyone who’s ever been drawn into Ellroy’s sordid but enthralling fictional world. And just to set the proper mood, the book boasts one of the most squirm-inducing subtitles of the year: “My Pursuit of Women.” Ladies, lock your doors.

Teri Duerr
2010-11-22 14:58:46

ellroy_hillikercurseThe latest memoir from one of the genre's most celebrated—and colorful—writers.

Berried to the Hilt
Sue Emmons

Karen MacInerney is at her whimsical best in her fourth visit to the charming Gray Whale Inn on Cranberry Island, Maine. It’s a slow fall season for Natalie Barnes, owner of the inn which has just converted from a bed & breakfast to a full-service establishment. So she has no qualms in agreeing to judge the annual cranberry bake-off, an event which touches off fierce competition among the island’s 100 residents. Business suddenly perks up, though, when a sunken ship, possibly a pirate vessel lost in the 17th century and believed to have been laden with loot, is discovered by lobstermen in the waters just off the island shore. Competing to identify the ship are a team of marine archaeologists and a rival band of treasure hunters, all of whom become guests at the inn. Natalie becomes embroiled in the investigation when one of those guests turns up dead, impaled by an unusual saber linked to a friend, who quickly becomes the prime suspect. This quietly quirky novel with its links to ghost ships and macabre pirate lore, not to mention cranberry goodies, is flat-out delightful. MacInerney ties in her subplots with verve and captures the foibles of the islanders with her usual adroit touch. Tasty recipes are also included.

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 19:55:46

Karen MacInerney is at her whimsical best in her fourth visit to the charming Gray Whale Inn on Cranberry Island, Maine. It’s a slow fall season for Natalie Barnes, owner of the inn which has just converted from a bed & breakfast to a full-service establishment. So she has no qualms in agreeing to judge the annual cranberry bake-off, an event which touches off fierce competition among the island’s 100 residents. Business suddenly perks up, though, when a sunken ship, possibly a pirate vessel lost in the 17th century and believed to have been laden with loot, is discovered by lobstermen in the waters just off the island shore. Competing to identify the ship are a team of marine archaeologists and a rival band of treasure hunters, all of whom become guests at the inn. Natalie becomes embroiled in the investigation when one of those guests turns up dead, impaled by an unusual saber linked to a friend, who quickly becomes the prime suspect. This quietly quirky novel with its links to ghost ships and macabre pirate lore, not to mention cranberry goodies, is flat-out delightful. MacInerney ties in her subplots with verve and captures the foibles of the islanders with her usual adroit touch. Tasty recipes are also included.

Dark Prophecy
Oline H. Cogdill

Creator and producer of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise, Anthony E. Zuiker trademarked the term “digi-novel” for his 2009 novel, Level 26. It enhanced the printed word with film, the Internet, and social networks. It seems only fitting that Zuiker would utilize each of these facets since the CSI TV series is known for showcasing cutting-edge technology. It certainly worked. The Level26.com site boasts in excess of 100,000 registered users who come to see and read about the exploits of Steve Dark, an agent whose specialty is “level 26” killers—considered the worst of the worst.

Zuiker employs the same technology for the sequel Dark Prophecy, which features an hour-long movie on his website and a tie-in with “Sqweegel,” an episode of CSI, originally aired on October 14, 2010.

But do all these technological enhancements detract from the novel? Not really. Dark Prophecy is a fast-moving, action-packed novel that stands on its own. It also helps that Zuiker enlisted Duane Swierczynski (Severance Package), an ingenious writer, to help deliver the goods. Dark Prophecy finds Steve Dark, now retired from the elite secret Special Circs, trying to rebuild his life and make a home for his 5-year-old daughter. Dark has been forbidden to have any contact with his former colleagues. But Dark can’t escape his need to hunt killers. Instead of fixing up his daughter’s room so she can live with him, he indulges in late-night drives around Los Angeles and scans newspaper headlines to find criminals. A series of murders by the “tarot card killer” catches his interest as well as that of a mysterious woman with unlimited funds to fight crime. As Dark tracks down the killer, readers are referred to Zuiker’s website to follow the agent’s tarot card readings. The media enhancements are a clever idea, and certainly have a following, but a reader can ignore them and still enjoy the printed novel.

Zuiker and Swierczynski use everything in their considerable arsenal to keep the entertainment level high and disguise the strain in the plot’s believability.

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 20:04:56

Creator and producer of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise, Anthony E. Zuiker trademarked the term “digi-novel” for his 2009 novel, Level 26. It enhanced the printed word with film, the Internet, and social networks. It seems only fitting that Zuiker would utilize each of these facets since the CSI TV series is known for showcasing cutting-edge technology. It certainly worked. The Level26.com site boasts in excess of 100,000 registered users who come to see and read about the exploits of Steve Dark, an agent whose specialty is “level 26” killers—considered the worst of the worst.

Zuiker employs the same technology for the sequel Dark Prophecy, which features an hour-long movie on his website and a tie-in with “Sqweegel,” an episode of CSI, originally aired on October 14, 2010.

But do all these technological enhancements detract from the novel? Not really. Dark Prophecy is a fast-moving, action-packed novel that stands on its own. It also helps that Zuiker enlisted Duane Swierczynski (Severance Package), an ingenious writer, to help deliver the goods. Dark Prophecy finds Steve Dark, now retired from the elite secret Special Circs, trying to rebuild his life and make a home for his 5-year-old daughter. Dark has been forbidden to have any contact with his former colleagues. But Dark can’t escape his need to hunt killers. Instead of fixing up his daughter’s room so she can live with him, he indulges in late-night drives around Los Angeles and scans newspaper headlines to find criminals. A series of murders by the “tarot card killer” catches his interest as well as that of a mysterious woman with unlimited funds to fight crime. As Dark tracks down the killer, readers are referred to Zuiker’s website to follow the agent’s tarot card readings. The media enhancements are a clever idea, and certainly have a following, but a reader can ignore them and still enjoy the printed novel.

Zuiker and Swierczynski use everything in their considerable arsenal to keep the entertainment level high and disguise the strain in the plot’s believability.

The Last Confession
Daniel Luft

In his sixth series book Solomon Jones tries to bridge the swampy territory between cop novel and dark, supernatural horror novel with mixed results. As the book begins, aging Philadelphia detective Mike Coletti is bothered by a ten-year-old case involving a priest who is now on death row for shooting three people in his church. Coletti secretly believed Father O’Reilly when the priest claimed that it was the Angel of Death who committed the murders. As Father O’Reilly’s execution approaches, the Angel reappears and commands junkies to murder while leaving messages all over town about how Detective Coletti must die.

The cast of characters is interesting as Coletti butts heads with his new, dreadlocked, college-educated partner Charlie Mann and flirts with Mary Smithson, a profiler on loan from the state police. There is also wonderful use of local, urban details as the case leads all over Philadelphia. Jones knows the locations and histories of every building, street corner and alleyway and really excels in his descriptions. The city itself is a living beast in this novel, breathing, rumbling, and growing in different directions at all times.

What falls flat is the nearly supernatural plot as the Angel of Death stalks the city and invades Coletti’s dreams. Coletti, jaded by a life on the force and fast approaching retirement, should be more skeptical of demons on the streets he’s known for so long. In the end, when the Angel of Death is revealed, the finding is nearly as impossible to believe as a supernatural explanation would have been.

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 20:16:58

In his sixth series book Solomon Jones tries to bridge the swampy territory between cop novel and dark, supernatural horror novel with mixed results. As the book begins, aging Philadelphia detective Mike Coletti is bothered by a ten-year-old case involving a priest who is now on death row for shooting three people in his church. Coletti secretly believed Father O’Reilly when the priest claimed that it was the Angel of Death who committed the murders. As Father O’Reilly’s execution approaches, the Angel reappears and commands junkies to murder while leaving messages all over town about how Detective Coletti must die.

The cast of characters is interesting as Coletti butts heads with his new, dreadlocked, college-educated partner Charlie Mann and flirts with Mary Smithson, a profiler on loan from the state police. There is also wonderful use of local, urban details as the case leads all over Philadelphia. Jones knows the locations and histories of every building, street corner and alleyway and really excels in his descriptions. The city itself is a living beast in this novel, breathing, rumbling, and growing in different directions at all times.

What falls flat is the nearly supernatural plot as the Angel of Death stalks the city and invades Coletti’s dreams. Coletti, jaded by a life on the force and fast approaching retirement, should be more skeptical of demons on the streets he’s known for so long. In the end, when the Angel of Death is revealed, the finding is nearly as impossible to believe as a supernatural explanation would have been.

The Hidden
Bob Smith

In an effort to patch up his marriage, Jay Macklin persuades his wife Shelby to spend the days between Christmas and New Year’s at a friend’s cottage in a remote section off the coast of Northern California. What he doesn’t know is that a serial killer has been active in the area and that a major storm is about to hit. Jay and Shelby’s only neighbors are two disagreeable couples who spend their time drinking and arguing. The Macklins drift further apart and it appears the marriage is doomed when Jay has a heart attack.

At this point the storm hits, knocking down trees, taking out electricity, and making it impossible to communicate with the outside world. Shelby is an EMT back in the city and does what she can for him, but she knows Jay needs medical help from the nearest village, some miles away. Fallen trees block the road making driving impossible; she must find another way. A dire situation turns even more so when one of the neighbors is found shot to death on the road, and Shelby realizes a killer is on the loose.

Many authors could take this premise and make a good tale, but only a pro as experienced and talented as Bill Pronzini could turn it into a page-turning, nail-biting suspense thriller. The chapters dealing with Shelby’s battle against both the serial killer and the elements are Pronzini at his best—and fans won’t be disappointed. The opening chapters drag a bit as the author details the Macklin’s marital problems, but once that storm hits, the action and suspense are relentless. If you are looking for a book to curl up with in front of a roaring fire on a cold, winter night, this is it.

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 20:23:16

In an effort to patch up his marriage, Jay Macklin persuades his wife Shelby to spend the days between Christmas and New Year’s at a friend’s cottage in a remote section off the coast of Northern California. What he doesn’t know is that a serial killer has been active in the area and that a major storm is about to hit. Jay and Shelby’s only neighbors are two disagreeable couples who spend their time drinking and arguing. The Macklins drift further apart and it appears the marriage is doomed when Jay has a heart attack.

At this point the storm hits, knocking down trees, taking out electricity, and making it impossible to communicate with the outside world. Shelby is an EMT back in the city and does what she can for him, but she knows Jay needs medical help from the nearest village, some miles away. Fallen trees block the road making driving impossible; she must find another way. A dire situation turns even more so when one of the neighbors is found shot to death on the road, and Shelby realizes a killer is on the loose.

Many authors could take this premise and make a good tale, but only a pro as experienced and talented as Bill Pronzini could turn it into a page-turning, nail-biting suspense thriller. The chapters dealing with Shelby’s battle against both the serial killer and the elements are Pronzini at his best—and fans won’t be disappointed. The opening chapters drag a bit as the author details the Macklin’s marital problems, but once that storm hits, the action and suspense are relentless. If you are looking for a book to curl up with in front of a roaring fire on a cold, winter night, this is it.

Dead Like You
Bob Smith

Twelve years ago Brighton Detective Superintendent Roy Grace tried unsuccessfully to track down a serial rapist dubbed the “Shoe Man” who had a predilection for women wearing expensive, erotic shoes. The rapes abruptly ceased, but after 12 years, they’ve begun again. Grace is baffled, not knowing if the original Shoe Man is back or if a copycat is on the loose. Two separate but linked cases, separated by years, are examined with many aspects of the original investigation juxtaposed with the latter one.

The police zero in on four suspects, but readers are never sure just which one is the murderer. Even though the clues are all there, it was impossible for this reader to pinpoint the villain. James writes so clearly that readers are never confused as to who’s who and what’s what, even though he jumps back and forth in time in alternating chapters. The conclusion shocked, surprised and totally pleased me. I never saw it coming.

Dead Like You, the sixth novel in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace crime series, was my introduction to British crime writer Peter James and what a perfect introduction it was. Ignorance is often equated with bliss, but being ignorant of this author is anything but. This is one of the best police procedurals that I have read in years. The book is almost 600 pages long, but when I finished it I was sad that there wasn’t more. It’s that good! James is an international favorite, his books translated into 33 languages, with over 5 million copies sold. If the others are anywhere near as good as Dead Like You his fame is well-deserved. I just regret it took me so long to find him.

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 20:28:06

Twelve years ago Brighton Detective Superintendent Roy Grace tried unsuccessfully to track down a serial rapist dubbed the “Shoe Man” who had a predilection for women wearing expensive, erotic shoes. The rapes abruptly ceased, but after 12 years, they’ve begun again. Grace is baffled, not knowing if the original Shoe Man is back or if a copycat is on the loose. Two separate but linked cases, separated by years, are examined with many aspects of the original investigation juxtaposed with the latter one.

The police zero in on four suspects, but readers are never sure just which one is the murderer. Even though the clues are all there, it was impossible for this reader to pinpoint the villain. James writes so clearly that readers are never confused as to who’s who and what’s what, even though he jumps back and forth in time in alternating chapters. The conclusion shocked, surprised and totally pleased me. I never saw it coming.

Dead Like You, the sixth novel in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace crime series, was my introduction to British crime writer Peter James and what a perfect introduction it was. Ignorance is often equated with bliss, but being ignorant of this author is anything but. This is one of the best police procedurals that I have read in years. The book is almost 600 pages long, but when I finished it I was sad that there wasn’t more. It’s that good! James is an international favorite, his books translated into 33 languages, with over 5 million copies sold. If the others are anywhere near as good as Dead Like You his fame is well-deserved. I just regret it took me so long to find him.

Dark Road to Darjeeling
Lynne F. Maxwell

Dark Road to Darjeeling is the fourth in the fine Victorian historical series featuring Lady Julia Grey, a self-appointed sleuth newly married to the famed Detective Brisbane (even Julia refers to him by his last name).

In this book, Lady Julia travels to a Himalayan tea plantation to investigate the death—perhaps suspicious—of a distant relative (Julia’s sister’s former lover’s husband). Yes, the relationships in this book are complicated, nearly incestuous at times, but Raybourn employs them to draw attention to controversial social issues such as homosexuality—issues even more charged when set in the purportedly prudish Victorian time period. Of course, the hypocrisy of many Victorians, eminent and otherwise, is not news, but Raybourn does make provocative and revelatory use of the idea.

Raybourn’s storytelling, however, is not merely didactic; it is wholly enjoyable and engaging. The first-person narration by Lady Julia is elegant, witty and perceptive. Not only does Julia’s point of view mirror the narrative style of Victorian novels, it evokes other detective fiction, such as Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series books. Other rewards include a subtly intricate plot and sophisticated character development. For all of these reasons, I heartily recommend Dark Road to Darjeeling, along with the other Lady Julia Grey mysteries. Perfect, especially accompanied by a cup of hot tea!

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 20:31:58

Dark Road to Darjeeling is the fourth in the fine Victorian historical series featuring Lady Julia Grey, a self-appointed sleuth newly married to the famed Detective Brisbane (even Julia refers to him by his last name).

In this book, Lady Julia travels to a Himalayan tea plantation to investigate the death—perhaps suspicious—of a distant relative (Julia’s sister’s former lover’s husband). Yes, the relationships in this book are complicated, nearly incestuous at times, but Raybourn employs them to draw attention to controversial social issues such as homosexuality—issues even more charged when set in the purportedly prudish Victorian time period. Of course, the hypocrisy of many Victorians, eminent and otherwise, is not news, but Raybourn does make provocative and revelatory use of the idea.

Raybourn’s storytelling, however, is not merely didactic; it is wholly enjoyable and engaging. The first-person narration by Lady Julia is elegant, witty and perceptive. Not only does Julia’s point of view mirror the narrative style of Victorian novels, it evokes other detective fiction, such as Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series books. Other rewards include a subtly intricate plot and sophisticated character development. For all of these reasons, I heartily recommend Dark Road to Darjeeling, along with the other Lady Julia Grey mysteries. Perfect, especially accompanied by a cup of hot tea!

Devoured
Joseph Scarpato, Jr.

Violent death is no stranger to the poor in the Victorian London of 1856, but when the wealthy and titled are found murdered, Scotland Yard spares no effort to solve the crimes. Thus, when Lady Bessingham, benefactress of emerging new natural sciences, is found bludgeoned to death with a fossil, Inspector Adams of Scotland Yard enlists the aid of pathologist Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant, Albert Roumande, to help find the killer.

Did the murdered woman’s interest and support of naturalists have any bearing on the crime? And why were her letters from the noted botanist Benjamin Broderig stolen? As more bodies are discovered, pinned and posed as museum specimens, the investigation becomes more complex.

This is an interesting first novel with action interspersed with letters from the botanist about his discoveries in Borneo and other far-flung places. The era itself is appealing, including the conflicts between organized religion and science over the origin of man. And although pathologists are all the rage in today’s world of crime stories, such science was just beginning in the 1850s.

Having said that, I felt the plot was a little more complex than it had to be. Although I liked the main characters, Hatton and Roumande, and look forward to more of their cases, I hope the next novel will have fewer bodies and fewer overall players, so we can spend more time with this intriguing duo.

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 20:36:54

Violent death is no stranger to the poor in the Victorian London of 1856, but when the wealthy and titled are found murdered, Scotland Yard spares no effort to solve the crimes. Thus, when Lady Bessingham, benefactress of emerging new natural sciences, is found bludgeoned to death with a fossil, Inspector Adams of Scotland Yard enlists the aid of pathologist Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant, Albert Roumande, to help find the killer.

Did the murdered woman’s interest and support of naturalists have any bearing on the crime? And why were her letters from the noted botanist Benjamin Broderig stolen? As more bodies are discovered, pinned and posed as museum specimens, the investigation becomes more complex.

This is an interesting first novel with action interspersed with letters from the botanist about his discoveries in Borneo and other far-flung places. The era itself is appealing, including the conflicts between organized religion and science over the origin of man. And although pathologists are all the rage in today’s world of crime stories, such science was just beginning in the 1850s.

Having said that, I felt the plot was a little more complex than it had to be. Although I liked the main characters, Hatton and Roumande, and look forward to more of their cases, I hope the next novel will have fewer bodies and fewer overall players, so we can spend more time with this intriguing duo.

Velocity
Derek Hill

FBI profiler Karen Vail, still in Napa Valley (the setting for Jacobson’s previous Vail novel Crush), should be wrapping up the Crush Killer case that she and her partner/boyfriend Robby Hernandez solved in their previous outing. But Hernandez has vanished from their hotel room and all clues suggest that he may be a victim of another murderer, either an accomplice or copycat of the Crush Killer, who is brazenly leaving the bodies of his victims in public places. Unfortunately, Vail is forced back to Washington DC to investigate another case. Despite being told to drop the Hernandez case and let others investigate it, she refuses to give up hope and eventually finds herself embroiled in something far darker and conspiratorial than she ever imagined.

Jacobson’s third Vail novel is as hard-hitting as they get. No time for niceties here. Jacobson plunges us into the narrative, racing through a disorienting series of events—the disappearance of Hernandez, the brutal slayings, and the hunt for the killer and Hernandez’s kidnapper. This whirlwind of an opening is disconcerting at first, especially if one is not familiar with the events from the previous book. But it feels appropriately harried, reflecting Vail’s own bewilderment, grief, and fear.

Vail is not the most sympathetic character: she’s rude, impulsive, and in no way a team player—characteristics that don’t necessarily benefit an FBI agent. However, she is also loyal, brave and fiercely determined; a character with deep flaws, but perhaps all the more relatable because of them. Velocity is gripping throughout and Jacobson’s research is impressive, easily separating it from the otherwise pedestrian subgenre of serial killer books. This is two-fisted crime writing at its best.

Teri Duerr
2010-12-01 20:42:11

FBI profiler Karen Vail, still in Napa Valley (the setting for Jacobson’s previous Vail novel Crush), should be wrapping up the Crush Killer case that she and her partner/boyfriend Robby Hernandez solved in their previous outing. But Hernandez has vanished from their hotel room and all clues suggest that he may be a victim of another murderer, either an accomplice or copycat of the Crush Killer, who is brazenly leaving the bodies of his victims in public places. Unfortunately, Vail is forced back to Washington DC to investigate another case. Despite being told to drop the Hernandez case and let others investigate it, she refuses to give up hope and eventually finds herself embroiled in something far darker and conspiratorial than she ever imagined.

Jacobson’s third Vail novel is as hard-hitting as they get. No time for niceties here. Jacobson plunges us into the narrative, racing through a disorienting series of events—the disappearance of Hernandez, the brutal slayings, and the hunt for the killer and Hernandez’s kidnapper. This whirlwind of an opening is disconcerting at first, especially if one is not familiar with the events from the previous book. But it feels appropriately harried, reflecting Vail’s own bewilderment, grief, and fear.

Vail is not the most sympathetic character: she’s rude, impulsive, and in no way a team player—characteristics that don’t necessarily benefit an FBI agent. However, she is also loyal, brave and fiercely determined; a character with deep flaws, but perhaps all the more relatable because of them. Velocity is gripping throughout and Jacobson’s research is impressive, easily separating it from the otherwise pedestrian subgenre of serial killer books. This is two-fisted crime writing at its best.