Playing Claus Part 2: Authors Share Gifts for Their Own Characters
Teri Duerr

'Tis the season for holiday reading—cozy, funny, and thrilling.
Mystery Scene asked authors of the season's best new holiday-themed reads to send presents down the chimney to their own creations in this second of a two-part list.

perry_achristmasodyssey

A Christmas Odyssey
by Anne Perry
Ballantine Books, October 2010, $18.00

What would the holidays be without the much-anticipated mystery from Anne Perry? Henry Rathbone returns in this Victorian mystery, this time charged with task of finding a wayward son lost to the dark temptations of drugs and lust in London's underground, and bringing him home in time for Christmas.

The Gift
"Gifts for Rathbone, Robinson and Crow?" muses Anne Perry. For Henry Rathbone, "books on the latest scientific discoveries with philosophical speculations." For Squeaky Robinson and Dr. Crow, who both work in the slums and join Rathbone in the search for the missing young man, "a new respectable jacket, that fits him" for Robinson, and "a new bag to carry his medical equipment" for Crow.

kingsbury_mistletoeandmayhem

Mistletoe and Mayhem
by Kate Kingsbury
Berkley Prime Crime, November 2010, $14.00

Cecily Sinclair Baxter's oceanside Pennyfoot Hotel is abuzz with holiday visitors, including Cecily's friend Madeline and Madeline's new baby. When the hotel's footman turns up dead and the baby disappears, Cecily and her colorful staff come together to find and deliver the lost child safely to her mother in a Christmas tale set in Edwardian England.

The Gift
"If I could give Cecily a Christmas gift," says Doreen Roberts Hight (aka Kate Kingsbury), "I'd arrange a visit from her two sons and their families, who live abroad. I can't think of anything Cecily would want more than that. She misses them dreadfully, and since there is no airmail, letters are few and far between. To see them all again would give her the best Christmas she could imagine."

hechtman_youbetterknotdie

You Better Knot Die
by Betty Hechtman
Berkley Prime Crime, November 2010, $24.95

Bookstore employee and crochet enthusiast Molly Pink is weaving her way into trouble once again (advice against snooping from her homicide detective beau, Barry, be damned!). This time, she's digging into the suspicious disappearance and possible suicide of her neighbor, while juggling preparations for the midnight launch of mysterious celebrity author A.J. Kowalski's Caught Under the Mistletoe (about a crocheting vampire) at her bookstore.

The Gift
"First," says Betty Hechtman, "I'd get Molly a wall unit of cubbies for her yarn so she wouldn't have to keep it in plastic grocery bags all over the floor of her craft room. I'd get her a trench coat so people would take her seriously as a sleuth. Finally, I'd get her a gift certificate for McConnell's Ice Cream of Santa Barbara so she could stock up for those nights when she has ice cream for dinner."

goldenbaum_aholidayyarn

A Holiday Yarn
by Sally Goldenbaum
Obsidian, November 2010, $23.95

Izzy Chambers and her Seaside Knitter's group are making a go of (or rather some throws) helping Mary Pisano turn her inherited manse into a lovely B&B. But when the extended Pisano family converges on Sea Harbor for the holidays and Mary's cousin Pamela turns up dead on her B&B's back porch, the launch of Mary's new enterprise is clouded by family secrets.

The Gift
"I thought of lots of things I think Mary Pisano would like," says Sally Goldenbaum, "but here's one I think she would especially be grateful for: When Mary's uncle died, his Goldendoodle dog, Georgia, was bereft, losing weight and missing his master. So Mary took Georgia in, loved her and brought her back to good health, even when other relatives thought Georgia should be put to sleep. So...I would give Mary a beautiful dog bed for Georgia, with a soft alpaca knit cover that would ease Georgia's tired bones and encourage sweet and wonderful dreams."

To read Part One of the "Playing Claus" holiday reading list, click here.

Teri Duerr
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 06:11

gifts_wbooks

'Tis the season for holiday reading—cozy, funny, and thrilling. Mystery Scene asked authors of the season's best new holiday-themed reads to send presents down the chimney to their own creations...

Ms Gift Guide 2010: Spy Kids

Spy Kids: Gift ideas for the little ones on your list

$16.99 Multi Voice Changer 

multivoice_changer 

Ten different voice modifiers can be combined in a hundred different voice variations for the undercover kid. Includes 9V battery. Ages 5 and up.

Click to buy

$18.99 MoMA String-along Books

moma_string-along_books

Classic string-along beads with a bookish twist. Introduce little readers to the joy of colors, shapes, and books. Ages 3 and up.

Click to buy

$9.00 LED Black Cat Rechargeable Light

black_cat_flashlight

Every sleuth needs a trusty light. This hand-pumped rechargeable cat light doesn't need batteries and the LED bulbs never need replacing. Truly a cat with nine lives! Ages 3 and up.

Click to buy

$30.00 Chalkboard Placemats - set of 4

chalkboard_placemats

You're never too young (or too old) to get writing. These non-toxic reusable doodle-boards come with a set of chalk and a sponge eraser. Ages 3 and up.

Click to buy


$29.95 ZAPI Ninja Toothbrush Sanitizer

zapi_ninja_toothbrush_cleaner.jpg

Hi-Ya, the ninja toothbrush sanitizer makes a great sidekick for kids ready to slay germs using a germicidal UV light. Fits most manual toothbrushes and electric heads.

Click to buy

$20.00 Yellow Pages Booster Seat

yellow_pages_booster

The Yellow Pages have long been a favorite tool of experienced thugs. (They leave no mark.) But tikes get a slightly less sinister boost from the old book.

Click to buy


 

$16.95 WordTeasers Junior Edition

wordteasers_junior_editionThe Junior Edition of WordTeasers helps the literary kid expand her vocabulary. Geared for 6th grade learners and under.

Click to buy


Teri Duerr
Monday, 08 November 2010 03:11

black_cat_flashlightSpy Kids: Gift ideas for the little ones on your list.

The Best Sherlock Holmes
Who is the best Sherlock Holmes?
 
{besps}slideshows/holmes{/besps}
{besps_c}0|01_gillette.jpg|Wiiliam Gillette|One of the first, and best.{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|02_norwood.jpg|Eilie Norwood|Another early Holmes who many think had the ideal look{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|03_rathbone.jpg|Basil Rathbone|As the star of many popular movies he became closely identified with the role{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|05_plummer.jpg|Christopher Plummer|A resurgence of sorts began with 1976's Murder by Decree{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|06_rowe.jpg|BNicholas Rowe|A hit in The Young Sherlock Holmes{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|07_brett.jpg|Jeremy Brett|His dour Holems was popular on the BBC starting in the 80's{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|08_evverett.jpg|Rupert Everett|The handsomest Holmes?{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|09_richardson.jpg|Ian Richardson|Ian Richardson starred in two movies in 2000 and 2001{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|10_downey.jpg|Robert Downey, Jr.|The most recent big-screen Holmes brought muscle and mayhem back{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|11_cumberbatch.jpg|benedict Cumberatch|This modern-day interpretation is pleasing some and outraging purists{/besps_c} 


 
 
Tell us what you think.
Brian Skupin
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 07:11
Who is the best Sherlock Holmes?
 
{besps}slideshows/holmes{/besps}
{besps_c}0|01_gillette.jpg|Wiiliam Gillette|One of the first, and best.{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|02_norwood.jpg|Eilie Norwood|Another early Holmes who many think had the ideal look{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|03_rathbone.jpg|Basil Rathbone|As the star of many popular movies he became closely identified with the role{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|05_plummer.jpg|Christopher Plummer|A resurgence of sorts began with 1976's Murder by Decree{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|06_rowe.jpg|BNicholas Rowe|A hit in The Young Sherlock Holmes{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|07_brett.jpg|Jeremy Brett|His dour Holems was popular on the BBC starting in the 80's{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|08_evverett.jpg|Rupert Everett|The handsomest Holmes?{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|09_richardson.jpg|Ian Richardson|Ian Richardson starred in two movies in 2000 and 2001{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|10_downey.jpg|Robert Downey, Jr.|The most recent big-screen Holmes brought muscle and mayhem back{/besps_c} 
{besps_c}0|11_cumberbatch.jpg|benedict Cumberatch|This modern-day interpretation is pleasing some and outraging purists{/besps_c} 


 
 
Tell us what you think.
Ms Gift Guide 2010: the Crime Boss

The Crime Boss: Gifts ideas for your colleagues in crime.

$18.00 Fisticup Brass Knuckle Mug

fisticup 

A knockout coffee mug for the boss who likes to "take care of business" in the morning. 

Click to buy

$75.00 Secret Stash Note Dispenser

secret_stash_dispenser

Sleek and secret, this roll and tear notepad looks beautiful—and has a secret inner-compartment for tucking away hidden messages. 

Click to buy

$8.00 Blackmail Postcards

blackmail_cards

In between smuggling and money laundering it's hard to find time do your own ransom notes these days. Help a thug out with this packet of two postcards and ready-made letter stickers.

Click to buy

$13.00 Brass Bullet Pens - set of 3

bullet-pens

Write faster with a speeding bullet. A Well Dressed Bullet shop on Etsy sells several bullet-themed pens, cuff links, and more, including this brass bullet set of three.

Click to buy


$16.00 Dead Fred Pen Holder

dead_fred_pen_holder

Day at the office have you in the mood to stab someone through the heart? Go ahead, Fred can take it.

Click to buy

$62.00 Mini Travel Bar

mini_travel_bar

Who says being on the lam means sacrificing the finer things? For the sophisticate on the run, the perfect mini travel bar.

Click to buy


 


Teri Duerr
Monday, 08 November 2010 03:11

fisticup_soloThe Crime Boss: Gift ideas for your colleagues in crime.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: 3 Stars
Oline Cogdill

{youtube width="600"}_EC2tmFVNNE{/youtube}

Several years ago during a mystery fiction conference, I listened to a session devoted to children's and young adult mysteries. The talk soon turned to Harry Potter and how this little boy wizard certainly worked in that rarified category of mystery fiction for the younger set.

At the time, J.K. Rowling had three novels out and each was dominating the bestsellers lists.

And with good reason—Harry and friends were and still are a wonderful tale for children with themes of empowerment, friendship, belief and loss. Time after time the books have shown that it doesn't matter who you are or what your background is; it matters what you choose to do with your life and how you choose to live.

Sure, kids loved the books. But so do adults. I've read each one and have looked forward to each movie. I also have listened to each one, read by the incomperable Jim Dale who does a different voice for each character.

While the first few novels had just enough scary stuff to appeal to kids, I've often told parents that younger kids shouldn't read the last couple of books until their children were old enough to deal with Rowling's increasingly dark vision.

This is especially true of the last novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as the wonderful movie that is just out. Rowling's last Harry Potter novel is her longest and her most dark. Instead of generating one movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is being divided into two parts.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 opens Friday Nov. 19, 2011 across the US.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1, the evil that has invaded the world of Hogwarts and Harry and friends is no longer being kept at bay. It's very real and penetrating all aspects of life in the wizarding world and that of the muggles. (If you don't know what a muggle is then, well, my sympathies.)

The battles that Harry and crew have been preparing for since book one are here and there is no more practice time. Those who have read the novels know that some characters to whom readers have been very attached die in the last two novels. There is a very real carnage in the novel that equals Caligula. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 only begins to scratch the surface.

It is this often bleak world that also contains glimmers of hope that the movie version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows captures so well. The cinematography is exquisite, showing a noir world that spans from cities and homes to the wide open spaces of mountains, lakes and forests. Filmed at a variety of locations in the United Kingdom, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 is as beautiful a movie as Lord of the Rings.

But Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 isn't just lovely scenery. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 keeps the spirit of the novel intact, and that's as much as any of us can hope. It's directed by David Yates who helmed the last three Harry Potter films. Dividing the novel into two movies works because only one film would have to leave out too much, resulting in a Cliff's Notes version, hacked up, then quartered and undecipherable. As it is, Part I leaves out a lot but keeps the spirit of the novel.

alt

(L-R) The bewitching Harry Potter played by Daniel Radcliffe, Ron Weasley played by Rupert Grint, and Hermione Granger played by Emma Watson. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The depth of the characters shines in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley know the seriousness of their mission and what will be lost if they fail. Even a moment of levity in the forest is tinged with sadness.

Likewise, the actors who portray these characters have grown. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint aren't just cute, spunky kids as they were in the first film.

They have grown into actors who have an impressive range and show signs of easily making the transition to adult actors if they choose. Radcliffe already has proven his acting chops on the stage during a turn in Equus; Grint has become a go-to guy for British independent films. Watson has made several films and is currently studying at Brown University. Plus, each time Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are interviewed, they come across as well-balanced, level headed young adults.

I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when it first came out in 2007 and while I knew what was going to happen, some twists in the movie still came as a shock. A couple of deaths in Part I are emotional and, yes, brought me to tears.

Ever since the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out, a controversy has arisen among those who believe the movies have never captured the novels and those who believe the films have delivered the essence of the novels. I belong to the second camp.

By all means, read each of the novels first, but don't discount the films that allow us another peek at this wonderful wizarding world.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 counts in at nearly two and a half hours, but the time flew. I could have easily stayed to watch Part 2, which is due out July 15, 2011. I can't wait.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1: Rated PG - 13 for "some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality." Running time: 146 minutes.

Super User
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 05:11

harrypotterdeathlyhallowsp1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 opens in the US this Friday. Mystery Scene looks at the series on the page and on the screen. Read more...

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
Monday, 15 November 2010 12:11

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
Super User
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 05:11
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.
Super User
Sunday, 12 December 2010 05:12
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
Monday, 15 November 2010 02:11

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
Sunday, 21 November 2010 05:11
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
Monday, 15 November 2010 03:11

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.
 
Super User
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 05:12

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.)
Super User
Sunday, 28 November 2010 05:11
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.


Super User
Sunday, 16 January 2011 05:01
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
Thursday, 18 November 2010 12:11

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
Friday, 19 November 2010 10:11

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
Friday, 19 November 2010 05:11

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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Saturday, 20 November 2010 08:11

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
Monday, 22 November 2010 09:11

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
Monday, 22 November 2010 09:11

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
Monday, 22 November 2010 09:11

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
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 02:12
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.