Trouble in the Tarot
Lynne Maxwell

Trouble in the Tarot is Kari Lee Townsend's third installment in her Fortune Teller Mystery series. Protagonist Sunshine “Sunny” Meadows practices her psychic arts in the upstate New York town of Divinity. Sadly, Divinity is hardly divine. When the town hosts its annual Summer Solstice Festival, discord soon divides the residents. The festival’s proceeds are donated to the charity selected each year by the townsfolk. When a new local animal shelter wins the vote, the director of a contending charity becomes disgruntled and assists in sabotaging the event. Sunny has more immediate problems, however, because she has done a tarot reading for one of the tourists, Fiona, who turns out to be the mortal enemy of Granny Gert, Sunny’s grandmother. Apparently, Granny and Fiona fought over the same man, and Granny won the contest, while Fiona married unhappily. Their rivalry spills over into the festival’s bake-off event, as they seek to outdo each other in increasingly outrageous ways. The major trouble occurs, though, when Bernadette, one of the other bake-off contestants meets a suspicious and untimely demise. Sunny investigates, raising the ire of her awkward, introverted new boyfriend. You will need to read the book to see how matters devolve from there, but it will be no mystery that Granny Gert and her archrival provide entertainment galore.

Teri Duerr
Thursday, 18 April 2013 07:04

Trouble in the Tarot is Kari Lee Townsend's third installment in her Fortune Teller Mystery series. Protagonist Sunshine “Sunny” Meadows practices her psychic arts in the upstate New York town of Divinity. Sadly, Divinity is hardly divine. When the town hosts its annual Summer Solstice Festival, discord soon divides the residents. The festival’s proceeds are donated to the charity selected each year by the townsfolk. When a new local animal shelter wins the vote, the director of a contending charity becomes disgruntled and assists in sabotaging the event. Sunny has more immediate problems, however, because she has done a tarot reading for one of the tourists, Fiona, who turns out to be the mortal enemy of Granny Gert, Sunny’s grandmother. Apparently, Granny and Fiona fought over the same man, and Granny won the contest, while Fiona married unhappily. Their rivalry spills over into the festival’s bake-off event, as they seek to outdo each other in increasingly outrageous ways. The major trouble occurs, though, when Bernadette, one of the other bake-off contestants meets a suspicious and untimely demise. Sunny investigates, raising the ire of her awkward, introverted new boyfriend. You will need to read the book to see how matters devolve from there, but it will be no mystery that Granny Gert and her archrival provide entertainment galore.

Did You Miss Me?
Hank Wagner

Karen Rose’s Did You Miss Me? tells the story of Baltimore prosecutor Daphne Montgomery, whose son Ford is kidnapped mere hours before a jury is due back with the verdict of the most important trial of her career. It’s up to FBI Agent Joe Carter and associates to find the young man before more harm can befall him. The clues don’t add up, however: Are the kidnappers out to influence the results of the trial, or has a more intricate plan been initiated? Rose slowly reveals the answers, keeping her audience intrigued and her characters guessing.

Rose’s latest is a big, big book, but almost every page is justified. A couple of sex scenes went on way too long for this reader’s tastes, but that’s a minor criticism. An experienced pro, Rose knows how to set up a scene in a convincing way, but, more importantly, she knows how to set up the next scene.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 12:04

Karen Rose’s Did You Miss Me? tells the story of Baltimore prosecutor Daphne Montgomery, whose son Ford is kidnapped mere hours before a jury is due back with the verdict of the most important trial of her career. It’s up to FBI Agent Joe Carter and associates to find the young man before more harm can befall him. The clues don’t add up, however: Are the kidnappers out to influence the results of the trial, or has a more intricate plan been initiated? Rose slowly reveals the answers, keeping her audience intrigued and her characters guessing.

Rose’s latest is a big, big book, but almost every page is justified. A couple of sex scenes went on way too long for this reader’s tastes, but that’s a minor criticism. An experienced pro, Rose knows how to set up a scene in a convincing way, but, more importantly, she knows how to set up the next scene.

Slice
Hank Wagner

Slice, by William Patterson, details the travails of Jessie Clarkson, who, through bad luck and bad decisions, finds herself married to the evil Emil Deetz. Things get worse one day as she seeks out Emil to tell him she is pregnant, only to accidentally witness him cut another man’s throat. Emil flees, but not before he sees her. Terrified that Emil will kill her, too, Jessie hides, only emerging from the shadows after being informed of his death in a Mexican drug deal gone bad.

Five years later, having made a new place for herself in the world, Jessie decides to move back to her hometown in Connecticut. Soon after her arrival, a savage killing takes place, eerily similar to the one she witnessed. As the death toll mounts, Jessie can only wonder if Emil is back, seeking revenge. The truth is far stranger than she ever imagined.

While overall very readable, Slice does have some problems with pacing, as the book drags a bit in the first few hundred pages, only to move like an out-of-control rocket during the last hundred. But the main problem is that Patterson couldn’t seem to decide just what kind of novel he wanted to write, a realistic woman-in-jeopardy novel, or a supernatural thriller. Still, Patterson’s enthusiasm, energy, and fearlessness ultimately carry the day. He also provides some cool in-jokes for those who appreciate that sort of thing, cleverly referencing material as diverse as the classic ’60s sitcom Bewitched, and Thomas Tryon’s iconic horror novel The Other.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 12:04

Slice, by William Patterson, details the travails of Jessie Clarkson, who, through bad luck and bad decisions, finds herself married to the evil Emil Deetz. Things get worse one day as she seeks out Emil to tell him she is pregnant, only to accidentally witness him cut another man’s throat. Emil flees, but not before he sees her. Terrified that Emil will kill her, too, Jessie hides, only emerging from the shadows after being informed of his death in a Mexican drug deal gone bad.

Five years later, having made a new place for herself in the world, Jessie decides to move back to her hometown in Connecticut. Soon after her arrival, a savage killing takes place, eerily similar to the one she witnessed. As the death toll mounts, Jessie can only wonder if Emil is back, seeking revenge. The truth is far stranger than she ever imagined.

While overall very readable, Slice does have some problems with pacing, as the book drags a bit in the first few hundred pages, only to move like an out-of-control rocket during the last hundred. But the main problem is that Patterson couldn’t seem to decide just what kind of novel he wanted to write, a realistic woman-in-jeopardy novel, or a supernatural thriller. Still, Patterson’s enthusiasm, energy, and fearlessness ultimately carry the day. He also provides some cool in-jokes for those who appreciate that sort of thing, cleverly referencing material as diverse as the classic ’60s sitcom Bewitched, and Thomas Tryon’s iconic horror novel The Other.

Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe: the Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed
Jon L. Breen

The author argues persuasively that Marlowe, far from being a standard super-confident loner private eye, is connected to a larger society and is given to introspection and self-doubt in contrast to the rugged-individualist vigilantes of Daly, Hammett, and Spillane. He believes film versions of Marlowe in the 1940s distorted the character as a result of Production Code constraints and the inability of film to depict interior life. Chandler is defended against the supposed misreadings by his follower Ross Macdonald.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 01:04

The author argues persuasively that Marlowe, far from being a standard super-confident loner private eye, is connected to a larger society and is given to introspection and self-doubt in contrast to the rugged-individualist vigilantes of Daly, Hammett, and Spillane. He believes film versions of Marlowe in the 1940s distorted the character as a result of Production Code constraints and the inability of film to depict interior life. Chandler is defended against the supposed misreadings by his follower Ross Macdonald.

Books to Die For: the World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels
Jon L. Breen

Over 100 accomplished mystery writers celebrate their favorite novels. The editors intend their book to be “flawless in inclusion if not in omission,” and nearly all these novels are undoubtedly worthy subjects, written about entertainingly and tantalizingly, with only a handful of essays seriously letting the side down. But the overbalancing toward the recent and noirish and the token representation of classical detective fiction make for a distorted overview of the genre. Women, well-represented as essayists, are badly under-represented as subjects. (Nearly 30 female contributors wrote on male subjects, while only six or so males wrote on women.) Too many commentators feel the need to credit their subjects with saving the genre or heading it in a new direction when all they have done is written (presumably well) in an already established form. I don’t believe either Spillane or Parker rescued the moribund private eye novel, and one writer’s contention that Patricia Cornwell’s 1990 debut came at a time when “male authors dominated” and women characters appeared mostly in support is nothing short of ludicrous.

Quibbles aside, there’s some superb writing here. Though the book fails as a balanced representation of the best mystery writing, it should spur discovery or rediscovery of some extraordinary novels. Among the many fine contributions: Sara Paretsky on Dickens’ Bleak House, Chuck Hogan on Paul Cain’s Fast One, Ruth Dudley Edwards on Edmund Crispin’s The Moving Toyshop, Declan Hughes on Margaret Millar’s A Stranger in My Grave, Lauren Henderson on Agatha Christie’s Endless Night and (as Rebecca Chance) on Dorothy L. Sayers’ Have His Carcase, Mike Nicol on James McClure’s The Steam Pig, Peter Robinson on Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone, and Sophie Hannah on Jill McGown’s Murder…Now and Then.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 02:04

Over 100 accomplished mystery writers celebrate their favorite novels. The editors intend their book to be “flawless in inclusion if not in omission,” and nearly all these novels are undoubtedly worthy subjects, written about entertainingly and tantalizingly, with only a handful of essays seriously letting the side down. But the overbalancing toward the recent and noirish and the token representation of classical detective fiction make for a distorted overview of the genre. Women, well-represented as essayists, are badly under-represented as subjects. (Nearly 30 female contributors wrote on male subjects, while only six or so males wrote on women.) Too many commentators feel the need to credit their subjects with saving the genre or heading it in a new direction when all they have done is written (presumably well) in an already established form. I don’t believe either Spillane or Parker rescued the moribund private eye novel, and one writer’s contention that Patricia Cornwell’s 1990 debut came at a time when “male authors dominated” and women characters appeared mostly in support is nothing short of ludicrous.

Quibbles aside, there’s some superb writing here. Though the book fails as a balanced representation of the best mystery writing, it should spur discovery or rediscovery of some extraordinary novels. Among the many fine contributions: Sara Paretsky on Dickens’ Bleak House, Chuck Hogan on Paul Cain’s Fast One, Ruth Dudley Edwards on Edmund Crispin’s The Moving Toyshop, Declan Hughes on Margaret Millar’s A Stranger in My Grave, Lauren Henderson on Agatha Christie’s Endless Night and (as Rebecca Chance) on Dorothy L. Sayers’ Have His Carcase, Mike Nicol on James McClure’s The Steam Pig, Peter Robinson on Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone, and Sophie Hannah on Jill McGown’s Murder…Now and Then.

The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case With Science and Forensics
Jon L. Breen

An orderly account, meticulously documented, of Holmes’ use of scientific crime detection methods (the Bertillon system, fingerprints, footprints, handwriting and printed document analysis, cryptography) and his familiarity with various sciences. O’Brien persuasively defends Holmes against Isaac Asimov’s disparaging of his chemical knowledge. Many true-crime cases are referenced. An appendix debunks charges that Conan Doyle authored scientific hoaxes, including the Piltdown man. It’s a good job, though too esoteric for anyone not deeply involved with science and Sherlockian studies.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 02:04

An orderly account, meticulously documented, of Holmes’ use of scientific crime detection methods (the Bertillon system, fingerprints, footprints, handwriting and printed document analysis, cryptography) and his familiarity with various sciences. O’Brien persuasively defends Holmes against Isaac Asimov’s disparaging of his chemical knowledge. Many true-crime cases are referenced. An appendix debunks charges that Conan Doyle authored scientific hoaxes, including the Piltdown man. It’s a good job, though too esoteric for anyone not deeply involved with science and Sherlockian studies.

In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero
Jon L. Breen

A distinguished group of friends and colleagues address various aspects of Parker’s life and work, among them Dennis Lehane, Jeremiah Healy, Loren D. Estleman, Brendan DuBois, and Reed Farrel Coleman. Specialized topics include Lindsay Faye on Spenser the chef, Gary Phillips on Hawk, S.J. Rozan (appropriately ambivalent) on Susan Silverman, Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens on the TV series (with episode list), and Ed Gorman on the westerns. Parker’s mock interview “Spenser: A Profile” and a listing of his books close out the volume.

Even if you think editor Penzler and heir-to-Spenser Ace Atkins way over the top in bracketing Parker with the Hammett/Chandler/Ross Macdonald triumvirate, his work is worth celebrating. He wrote individual sentences worthy of framing and placing above the computer screens of fellow writers. Parnell Hall captures the key to Parker’s appeal: humor in dialogue and narrative. Lawrence Block’s assessment comes closest to my own: “I was never the Ideal Reader for Parker’s work…. But I did read almost all of the books, and not because of the stories he chose to tell or the characters who peopled them. I just kind of liked the way they sounded.”

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 02:04
::cck::4380
Clues and Corpses: the Detective Fiction and Mystery Criticism of Todd Downing
Jon L. Breen

One-eighth Choctaw author Todd Downing (1902-1974) wrote nine classical detective novels, most set in Mexico, published between 1933 and 1941. Following a substantial biographical and critical summary by Curtis Evans, who is becoming the foremost contemporary scholar of Golden Age detective fiction, are nearly 300 mystery reviews Downing contributed to the Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman between 1930 and 1937. Almost all have annotations, sometimes highlighting a point in the review but more often providing useful information about the subject authors, many unfamiliar today even to specialists. Downing was always readable and could make even books he didn’t especially like sound interesting to the right reader. Though a fairly gentle critic, he was a master of faint praise and could be very funny when he turned acerbic. His enthusiasm for Rufus King (whom he compared to Hammett at one point) and Mignon G. Eberhart may lead readers to rediscover them. He had a soft spot for Edgar Wallace, E. Phillips Oppenheim, and other thriller specialists of his formative years. Appendices include some non-mystery fiction reviews, an interview from 1934, a review of Howard Haycraft’s Murder for Pleasure, a 1943 essay on the mystery craft, articles about Downing in the Daily Oklahoman, an index to authors reviewed, and an addendum on a Harry Stephen Keeler novel. The book is an important addition to our knowledge, not just of an unfairly neglected writer but of the whole mystery scene in a misunderstood and often mischaracterized decade. Bill Pronzini provides a preface and is credited as a consultant on the annotations.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 02:04

One-eighth Choctaw author Todd Downing (1902-1974) wrote nine classical detective novels, most set in Mexico, published between 1933 and 1941. Following a substantial biographical and critical summary by Curtis Evans, who is becoming the foremost contemporary scholar of Golden Age detective fiction, are nearly 300 mystery reviews Downing contributed to the Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman between 1930 and 1937. Almost all have annotations, sometimes highlighting a point in the review but more often providing useful information about the subject authors, many unfamiliar today even to specialists. Downing was always readable and could make even books he didn’t especially like sound interesting to the right reader. Though a fairly gentle critic, he was a master of faint praise and could be very funny when he turned acerbic. His enthusiasm for Rufus King (whom he compared to Hammett at one point) and Mignon G. Eberhart may lead readers to rediscover them. He had a soft spot for Edgar Wallace, E. Phillips Oppenheim, and other thriller specialists of his formative years. Appendices include some non-mystery fiction reviews, an interview from 1934, a review of Howard Haycraft’s Murder for Pleasure, a 1943 essay on the mystery craft, articles about Downing in the Daily Oklahoman, an index to authors reviewed, and an addendum on a Harry Stephen Keeler novel. The book is an important addition to our knowledge, not just of an unfairly neglected writer but of the whole mystery scene in a misunderstood and often mischaracterized decade. Bill Pronzini provides a preface and is credited as a consultant on the annotations.

Ellery Queen: the Art of Detection
Jon L. Breen

The author, whose pioneering Ellery Queen study Royal Bloodline appeared nearly 40 years ago, calls this an “everything book” about the team of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, along the lines of his Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die (1988). The comparison is apt. There is more biographical material on the Queen team than has appeared in print anywhere else, drawing on files of their correspondence, 12 pages of photographs, plus a full novel-by-novel, story-by-story critical survey. Also given full coverage are editorial work; film, radio, and television adaptations; and the ghost-written paperbacks of the 1960s. Appended are “EQMM: The Dannay Years” and “At Work and Play with Fred Dannay,” an account of Nevins’ personal relationship with Ellery Queen’s editorial half. A 35-page primary and secondary bibliography and 24-page index round out this meticulously researched, highly readable, and important book.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 02:04

The author, whose pioneering Ellery Queen study Royal Bloodline appeared nearly 40 years ago, calls this an “everything book” about the team of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, along the lines of his Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die (1988). The comparison is apt. There is more biographical material on the Queen team than has appeared in print anywhere else, drawing on files of their correspondence, 12 pages of photographs, plus a full novel-by-novel, story-by-story critical survey. Also given full coverage are editorial work; film, radio, and television adaptations; and the ghost-written paperbacks of the 1960s. Appended are “EQMM: The Dannay Years” and “At Work and Play with Fred Dannay,” an account of Nevins’ personal relationship with Ellery Queen’s editorial half. A 35-page primary and secondary bibliography and 24-page index round out this meticulously researched, highly readable, and important book.

Suspect
Dick Lochte

Robert Crais’ new standalone (or series debut?) clearly demonstrates the difference between concept and completed work. The idea of a lawman forced by circumstance to partner with a canine wasn’t exactly fresh when Tom Hanks buddied up with a slavering Hooch back in 1989. Senior citizens will remember the radio and early TV adventures of stalwart Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and his wonder dog King, characters that were themselves influenced by Jack London’s dog-centric fiction of the early 1900s. I could also reference the Jim Belushi movie K-9 and at least a half-dozen TV spinoffs (Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cops, anybody?), but that would just be showing off. My point is that Crais has taken a hoary log line and turned it into a fresh, dramatic, totally satisfying contemporary crime novel that just might find a spot on next year’s Edgar short list. The leads are fully dimensional and strong—LAPD cop Scott James, the victim of unknown assailants, and the German shepherd Maggie, a wounded veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, both mending from severe physical and psychological damage. The supporting characters are quirky and memorable, particularly James’ two kennel supervisors. The plotting is as careful and maybe even a little more streamlined than the author’s previous books. The presumably authentic background material, involving psychology, dog-training, police procedure, etc., is smoothly integrated into the story. And Crais is smart enough to keep the man-and-beast buddyness compelling without giving way to sentimentality. He even provides a credible dog’s POV into some events as they unfold. That reader MacLeod Andrews is able to successfully create the aural equivalent to Maggie’s thoughts is an indication of his admirable contribution to this audio presentation. He’s equally on target in conveying James’ moods—from an initial fragility, complete with self-doubt, guilt, and resentment, to a determination to bring order to his life. Andrews also manages to match Crais’ description of the high-pitched coo that dog owners employ when speaking to their animals without sounding too goofy. His one tiny misspeak is his mispronunciation of the name “Petievich,” but one can hardly fault him for that.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 03:04

Robert Crais’ new standalone (or series debut?) clearly demonstrates the difference between concept and completed work. The idea of a lawman forced by circumstance to partner with a canine wasn’t exactly fresh when Tom Hanks buddied up with a slavering Hooch back in 1989. Senior citizens will remember the radio and early TV adventures of stalwart Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and his wonder dog King, characters that were themselves influenced by Jack London’s dog-centric fiction of the early 1900s. I could also reference the Jim Belushi movie K-9 and at least a half-dozen TV spinoffs (Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cops, anybody?), but that would just be showing off. My point is that Crais has taken a hoary log line and turned it into a fresh, dramatic, totally satisfying contemporary crime novel that just might find a spot on next year’s Edgar short list. The leads are fully dimensional and strong—LAPD cop Scott James, the victim of unknown assailants, and the German shepherd Maggie, a wounded veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, both mending from severe physical and psychological damage. The supporting characters are quirky and memorable, particularly James’ two kennel supervisors. The plotting is as careful and maybe even a little more streamlined than the author’s previous books. The presumably authentic background material, involving psychology, dog-training, police procedure, etc., is smoothly integrated into the story. And Crais is smart enough to keep the man-and-beast buddyness compelling without giving way to sentimentality. He even provides a credible dog’s POV into some events as they unfold. That reader MacLeod Andrews is able to successfully create the aural equivalent to Maggie’s thoughts is an indication of his admirable contribution to this audio presentation. He’s equally on target in conveying James’ moods—from an initial fragility, complete with self-doubt, guilt, and resentment, to a determination to bring order to his life. Andrews also manages to match Crais’ description of the high-pitched coo that dog owners employ when speaking to their animals without sounding too goofy. His one tiny misspeak is his mispronunciation of the name “Petievich,” but one can hardly fault him for that.

The Third Bullet
Dick Lochte

Since, in the course of several audio versions of Stephen Hunter’s books, reader Buck Schirner has more or less perfected his vocal version of the author’s growly aging hero, retired Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger, it may save time to move along to the plot of what is arguably the series’ most ambitious entry. As the photos of John Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald on the box indicate, the novel is Hunter’s fictional (but not totally implausible) account of who actually fired the shot that killed the president and who organized the tragedy. Gun expert Swagger is lured into the world of conspiracy theorists by the widow of a writer whose research into JFK’s death prompted his own fatality in a hit-and-run “accident.” James Aptapton, a Baltimore journo-turned-hack-novelist “specializing in gunfights and their stoic heroes” (as Hunter describes him in what seems to be harsh but amusing self-appraisal) has found a new piece of evidence that intrigues stoic hero Swagger enough to see what he can uncover. What follows are reminders of the dark event, a whole lot of discussion (maybe too much) about gun technical data, several attempts on Swagger’s life, and, before the book’s halfway mark, the introduction of the man who planned the assassination, a wealthy, Yale-educated, retired, but still very influential, CIA spy guy named Hugh Meachum. Once we meet him, he very nearly takes over the book, frequently interrupting the objective account of Swagger’s progress with his often ironic secret memoirs detailing the arrangements for the murder in Dallas and the aftermath. Pitting good ol’ boy Bob Lee against a shrewd, ultra-sophisticated aristocratic gamesman is good casting and Hunter has given Meachum the depth and dimension (not to mention the unlimited funds) necessary to make it an exciting fight to the finish. Schirner does well by Meachum, too. With a deep, rumbling voice more suitable for heroic outdoor types like Swagger and William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor, he manages a mature privileged accent that sounds almost as authentically post-Yalie as William Buckley’s.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 03:04

Since, in the course of several audio versions of Stephen Hunter’s books, reader Buck Schirner has more or less perfected his vocal version of the author’s growly aging hero, retired Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger, it may save time to move along to the plot of what is arguably the series’ most ambitious entry. As the photos of John Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald on the box indicate, the novel is Hunter’s fictional (but not totally implausible) account of who actually fired the shot that killed the president and who organized the tragedy. Gun expert Swagger is lured into the world of conspiracy theorists by the widow of a writer whose research into JFK’s death prompted his own fatality in a hit-and-run “accident.” James Aptapton, a Baltimore journo-turned-hack-novelist “specializing in gunfights and their stoic heroes” (as Hunter describes him in what seems to be harsh but amusing self-appraisal) has found a new piece of evidence that intrigues stoic hero Swagger enough to see what he can uncover. What follows are reminders of the dark event, a whole lot of discussion (maybe too much) about gun technical data, several attempts on Swagger’s life, and, before the book’s halfway mark, the introduction of the man who planned the assassination, a wealthy, Yale-educated, retired, but still very influential, CIA spy guy named Hugh Meachum. Once we meet him, he very nearly takes over the book, frequently interrupting the objective account of Swagger’s progress with his often ironic secret memoirs detailing the arrangements for the murder in Dallas and the aftermath. Pitting good ol’ boy Bob Lee against a shrewd, ultra-sophisticated aristocratic gamesman is good casting and Hunter has given Meachum the depth and dimension (not to mention the unlimited funds) necessary to make it an exciting fight to the finish. Schirner does well by Meachum, too. With a deep, rumbling voice more suitable for heroic outdoor types like Swagger and William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor, he manages a mature privileged accent that sounds almost as authentically post-Yalie as William Buckley’s.

Three Blind Mice
Dick Lochte

Having recorded most of Ed McBain’s myriad police procedurals about the men of the 87th Precinct, Brilliance Audio has turned its microphones in the direction of the author’s Matthew Hope novels, a shorter and breezier series in which Florida-based lawyer Hope gets involved in crimes that mirror the events in famous childhood fables. McBain (the pen name used by Evan Hunter for his crime fiction) was as versatile as he was prolific and the Hopes are clever whodunits that, though dealing with some very twisted villains, seem lighter in tone than the cop cases, looser and, because of this, a little more entertaining. Reader Luke Daniels, a Brilliance stalwart, narrates the stories with just the right amount of amiable wit, insouciance, and lawyerly glibness. The quality is high on all of the entries, but if I had to pick just one, I’d go for Three Blind Mice, loosely based on Hawaii’s infamous 1932 Massie trials involving rape, racial bigotry, and murder. Three Blind Mice was adapted as a 2001 TV movie executive-produced by and starring Brian Dennehy, that, while watchable, isn’t as good as the book or this unabridged audio version.

Teri Duerr
Friday, 19 April 2013 03:04

Having recorded most of Ed McBain’s myriad police procedurals about the men of the 87th Precinct, Brilliance Audio has turned its microphones in the direction of the author’s Matthew Hope novels, a shorter and breezier series in which Florida-based lawyer Hope gets involved in crimes that mirror the events in famous childhood fables. McBain (the pen name used by Evan Hunter for his crime fiction) was as versatile as he was prolific and the Hopes are clever whodunits that, though dealing with some very twisted villains, seem lighter in tone than the cop cases, looser and, because of this, a little more entertaining. Reader Luke Daniels, a Brilliance stalwart, narrates the stories with just the right amount of amiable wit, insouciance, and lawyerly glibness. The quality is high on all of the entries, but if I had to pick just one, I’d go for Three Blind Mice, loosely based on Hawaii’s infamous 1932 Massie trials involving rape, racial bigotry, and murder. Three Blind Mice was adapted as a 2001 TV movie executive-produced by and starring Brian Dennehy, that, while watchable, isn’t as good as the book or this unabridged audio version.

Philip Kerr, Wwii and Bernie Gunther
Oline Cogdill

kerrphilip_authorcreditphilwilkinson
Scottish author Philip Kerr is the author of eight novels about Bernie Gunther, a Berlin cop.

Set during WWII, Kerr looks at an honest cop trying to find order amid chaos and evil. The bestselling Field Gray was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel. Kerr also is the author of A Quiet Flame and the fantasy series Children of the Lamp. He lives in London.

A Man Without Breath is the latest novel in the Bernie series. Kerr now is making a rare tour of the United States.

Mystery Scene caught up with Kerr before his tour.

Q: Most historical mysteries that take place during WWII are from the viewpoint of the Allied forces; why did you decide to take the reader deep into German society?
A:
I started this series so long ago it's hard to remember; but I was always interested in the cultural and philosophical roots of Nazism – ever since I did a post-grad degree in German law and philosophy. I think I just wanted to understand what life might have been like for an ordinary German. I wanted to walk the moral tightrope, as it were; and a cop seemed an interesting way of taking this walk. I wanted to see how deep I could immerse myself in this world. When you read Chandler you can really taste L.A.; I set myself the almost impossible task of trying to do the same with Berlin in 1936. It seems crazy now. But such is the ambition/arrogance of youth.

Q: There was a big gap between the third Bernie Gunther novel, A German Requim (1991) and the fourth novel, The One from the Other (2006). Why?
A:
I wrote a lot of other stuff. You see I always wanted to be a writer but I didn't want to write the same thing again and again; a lot of crime writing feels like you are on a treadmill: the author brings out one book a year featuring Inspector Bloggs; so I quit the character for a while to write other things. It's always a good thing to walk away from something successful. I think it separates one from the career novelist, so to speak. You could get away with that sort of thing then. Not so easy now. Three books seemed like a nice number. I think it was a good thing I did stop for a while. It meant that a lot of people were able to discover me, if you like. The first three were collected as a trilogy and they achieved a critical mass, which meant that when I came back to the character there were lots of people keen that I should do so. I learned a lot during that interregnum.

kerrphilip_manwithoutabreath
Q: Most of us think that Hitler allowed no opposition to his opinions but A Man Without Breath tells that the War Crimes Bureau was anti Nazi; how did this happen?
A:
They were quietly anti-Nazi; they would never have dreamed of opposing Hitler openly. By the German constitution Hitler was obliged to recognize the independence of the Wehrmacht, which effectively allowed many to sit in their offices at the High Command and quietly despise Hitler--but not when he was winning, of course. Their opposition to Hitler only really grew when he invaded the Soviet Union which most of the officer class regarded as the ultimate folie de grandeur. After the defeat of France in 1940 it is highly unlikely that any of these men were opposed to Hitler.

Q: You uncover so much detail about life in German during WWII, what is the strangest thing your research has brought you?
A:
I find strange things all the time. It's a period that is full of strange things. That's what makes it interesting. I remember a time many years ago when I went to a place called Wewelsburg, where Himmler bought a castle that was to be the “spiritual HQ” of the SS. It was also the smallest concentration camp in Germany. 800 Soviet POWs were worked to death in the place. It's now a Youth Hostel. I stayed there on my own one night. While I was there I discovered that the little village near the castle is still used for SS reunions; that was an uncomfortable revelation to me—that there are plenty of people for whom Nazism still means something important.


Q: The banality of evil has been used to describe how the German people allowed Hitler to execute the Jews and turn a blind eye to his atrocities. Bernie seems to combat that banality of evil every day. Could you comment on this? How does Bernie keep himself sane when dealing with the Nazis, for whom it is obvious he has little respect?
A:
Like most Berliners Bernie has a sharp, dark, bitter sense of humor. He is the embodiment of the kind of Berliner Hitler hated. Leftish, irreverent, sexually-incontinent, and ultimately anarchic. He keeps himself sane—to some degree (I think Bernie has deep issues)--with his bitter jokes. This is his only source of rebellion. It keeps him sane but more importantly it helps the reader (and the writer) get through what would otherwise be very bleak stories. Above all he is a survivor, although not always
comfortably so.

Q: Why are the Bernie novels written out of sequence?
A:
After three books and a long absence I didn't want to repeat myself; I wanted to create a modern version of a Flying Dutchman. Or a Flashman figure. He is also a bit of a Zelig. And above all an unreliable narrator. Like many Germans who were in the war you only have his word for what he actually did. Moving periods messes things up rather nicely. It means there is no one truth. There is nothing certain. Another reason is that there is so much more information available today than there was back when I first started writing these books. I couldn't have written several of these stories back in the day because we didn't know x or z or y. Since the mid-1980s when I first started writing the books so much has been published on the subject of the Third Reich. There were good stories that became available to me as a result - too good to walk away from.

Q: What is the status of the HBO movie? Any thoughts on who you would like to see play Bernie?
A:
Difficult question. These things take time. But perhaps we are now at the end of the beginning. As to who should play Bernie I very much like and admire Michael Fassbinder. He is part German, and a fantastically good actor. But when I first started I thought of Klaus Maria Brandauer. He had a cheeky grin and a twinkle in his eye and he was very very German. I am wary about saying who I don't want to play Bernie. I did a TV series back in the 1990s and they asked me who should play the part of the hero; and I named an actor who I said should under no circumstances play the part and that is who they cast. As it happens he did a fine job.

Photo: Philip Kerr photo by Phil Wilkinson; courtesy Putnam

Super User
Saturday, 20 April 2013 12:04

kerrphilip_authorcreditphilwilkinson
Scottish author Philip Kerr is the author of eight novels about Bernie Gunther, a Berlin cop.

Set during WWII, Kerr looks at an honest cop trying to find order amid chaos and evil. The bestselling Field Gray was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel. Kerr also is the author of A Quiet Flame and the fantasy series Children of the Lamp. He lives in London.

A Man Without Breath is the latest novel in the Bernie series. Kerr now is making a rare tour of the United States.

Mystery Scene caught up with Kerr before his tour.

Q: Most historical mysteries that take place during WWII are from the viewpoint of the Allied forces; why did you decide to take the reader deep into German society?
A:
I started this series so long ago it's hard to remember; but I was always interested in the cultural and philosophical roots of Nazism – ever since I did a post-grad degree in German law and philosophy. I think I just wanted to understand what life might have been like for an ordinary German. I wanted to walk the moral tightrope, as it were; and a cop seemed an interesting way of taking this walk. I wanted to see how deep I could immerse myself in this world. When you read Chandler you can really taste L.A.; I set myself the almost impossible task of trying to do the same with Berlin in 1936. It seems crazy now. But such is the ambition/arrogance of youth.

Q: There was a big gap between the third Bernie Gunther novel, A German Requim (1991) and the fourth novel, The One from the Other (2006). Why?
A:
I wrote a lot of other stuff. You see I always wanted to be a writer but I didn't want to write the same thing again and again; a lot of crime writing feels like you are on a treadmill: the author brings out one book a year featuring Inspector Bloggs; so I quit the character for a while to write other things. It's always a good thing to walk away from something successful. I think it separates one from the career novelist, so to speak. You could get away with that sort of thing then. Not so easy now. Three books seemed like a nice number. I think it was a good thing I did stop for a while. It meant that a lot of people were able to discover me, if you like. The first three were collected as a trilogy and they achieved a critical mass, which meant that when I came back to the character there were lots of people keen that I should do so. I learned a lot during that interregnum.

kerrphilip_manwithoutabreath
Q: Most of us think that Hitler allowed no opposition to his opinions but A Man Without Breath tells that the War Crimes Bureau was anti Nazi; how did this happen?
A:
They were quietly anti-Nazi; they would never have dreamed of opposing Hitler openly. By the German constitution Hitler was obliged to recognize the independence of the Wehrmacht, which effectively allowed many to sit in their offices at the High Command and quietly despise Hitler--but not when he was winning, of course. Their opposition to Hitler only really grew when he invaded the Soviet Union which most of the officer class regarded as the ultimate folie de grandeur. After the defeat of France in 1940 it is highly unlikely that any of these men were opposed to Hitler.

Q: You uncover so much detail about life in German during WWII, what is the strangest thing your research has brought you?
A:
I find strange things all the time. It's a period that is full of strange things. That's what makes it interesting. I remember a time many years ago when I went to a place called Wewelsburg, where Himmler bought a castle that was to be the “spiritual HQ” of the SS. It was also the smallest concentration camp in Germany. 800 Soviet POWs were worked to death in the place. It's now a Youth Hostel. I stayed there on my own one night. While I was there I discovered that the little village near the castle is still used for SS reunions; that was an uncomfortable revelation to me—that there are plenty of people for whom Nazism still means something important.


Q: The banality of evil has been used to describe how the German people allowed Hitler to execute the Jews and turn a blind eye to his atrocities. Bernie seems to combat that banality of evil every day. Could you comment on this? How does Bernie keep himself sane when dealing with the Nazis, for whom it is obvious he has little respect?
A:
Like most Berliners Bernie has a sharp, dark, bitter sense of humor. He is the embodiment of the kind of Berliner Hitler hated. Leftish, irreverent, sexually-incontinent, and ultimately anarchic. He keeps himself sane—to some degree (I think Bernie has deep issues)--with his bitter jokes. This is his only source of rebellion. It keeps him sane but more importantly it helps the reader (and the writer) get through what would otherwise be very bleak stories. Above all he is a survivor, although not always
comfortably so.

Q: Why are the Bernie novels written out of sequence?
A:
After three books and a long absence I didn't want to repeat myself; I wanted to create a modern version of a Flying Dutchman. Or a Flashman figure. He is also a bit of a Zelig. And above all an unreliable narrator. Like many Germans who were in the war you only have his word for what he actually did. Moving periods messes things up rather nicely. It means there is no one truth. There is nothing certain. Another reason is that there is so much more information available today than there was back when I first started writing these books. I couldn't have written several of these stories back in the day because we didn't know x or z or y. Since the mid-1980s when I first started writing the books so much has been published on the subject of the Third Reich. There were good stories that became available to me as a result - too good to walk away from.

Q: What is the status of the HBO movie? Any thoughts on who you would like to see play Bernie?
A:
Difficult question. These things take time. But perhaps we are now at the end of the beginning. As to who should play Bernie I very much like and admire Michael Fassbinder. He is part German, and a fantastically good actor. But when I first started I thought of Klaus Maria Brandauer. He had a cheeky grin and a twinkle in his eye and he was very very German. I am wary about saying who I don't want to play Bernie. I did a TV series back in the 1990s and they asked me who should play the part of the hero; and I named an actor who I said should under no circumstances play the part and that is who they cast. As it happens he did a fine job.

Photo: Philip Kerr photo by Phil Wilkinson; courtesy Putnam

Margaret Maron: Grand Master
Oline Cogdill

maronmargaret_author
(Note: The 2013 Edgar Awards will be announced May 2 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The Edgar Symposium is May 1 at the Lighthouse International Auditorium in New York. Today's blog is a closer look at Grand Master Margaret Maron. I'll take a closer look at Ken Follett, who shares the Grand Master honor, on Sunday April 28).

Margaret Maron’s 1992 novel Bootlegger’s Daughter changed the face of the regional mystery.

In this novel, Maron showed us how the changes in North Carolina had created a new state. Her novels have looked at problems of race, migrant labor, politics, and unstructured growth.

As Maron once said in an interview, “The mystery novel is the peg upon which I hang my love and concerns for North Carolina as the state transitions from agriculture to high tech, from a largely rural countryside to one increasingly under assault by housing developments and chain stores.”

Certainly the genre was filled with regional mysteries before, but Margaret set the stage for a deeper look at cities and states. She showed how place affects the characters and that small towns have a pull on its residents that is just as strong as major metro areas. The world didn’t have to revolve around New York or Los Angeles. And there was just as much crime and nastiness in small towns as any big city.

And she showed those regional changes through her heroine, Deborah Knott, a judge whose family’s long history is an asset and a problem. The youngest of 12 children, Deborah’s father Kezzie Knott is a notorious bootlegger, ex-con, and political player.

She is devoted to him.

Deborah’s massive family, their closeness and their differences gave readers an insight to their own lives.

I am an only child, but grew up surrounded by cousins, and I could relate to Knott’s family issues. Knott’s closeness to her father echoed my own close relationship with my now deceased parents.

Maron has written more than 26 novels, include another series about NYPD cop Sigrid Harald, and 2 collections of short stories. Her works have been translated into a dozen languages and are on the reading lists of many courses in contemporary Southern literature.

Bootlegger’s Daughter remains the only book to have won the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony and the Macavity for Best Novel.

Bootlegger's Daughter also is listed among the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

Among many other awards, Margaret has received the 2004 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for best North Carolina novel of the year. In 2008, she was honored with the North Carolina Award for Literature. (The North Carolina Award is the state’s highest civilian honor.)

Maron has been named one of this year’s Grand Masters by the Mystery Writers of America. During the Edgar Symposium, I will be interviewing her and Ken Follett, who is the other Grand Master honoree.

We’ll talk about North Carolina, her novels and how she remembers all Deborah’s brothers and nieces and nephews.

Super User
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 06:04

maronmargaret_author
(Note: The 2013 Edgar Awards will be announced May 2 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The Edgar Symposium is May 1 at the Lighthouse International Auditorium in New York. Today's blog is a closer look at Grand Master Margaret Maron. I'll take a closer look at Ken Follett, who shares the Grand Master honor, on Sunday April 28).

Margaret Maron’s 1992 novel Bootlegger’s Daughter changed the face of the regional mystery.

In this novel, Maron showed us how the changes in North Carolina had created a new state. Her novels have looked at problems of race, migrant labor, politics, and unstructured growth.

As Maron once said in an interview, “The mystery novel is the peg upon which I hang my love and concerns for North Carolina as the state transitions from agriculture to high tech, from a largely rural countryside to one increasingly under assault by housing developments and chain stores.”

Certainly the genre was filled with regional mysteries before, but Margaret set the stage for a deeper look at cities and states. She showed how place affects the characters and that small towns have a pull on its residents that is just as strong as major metro areas. The world didn’t have to revolve around New York or Los Angeles. And there was just as much crime and nastiness in small towns as any big city.

And she showed those regional changes through her heroine, Deborah Knott, a judge whose family’s long history is an asset and a problem. The youngest of 12 children, Deborah’s father Kezzie Knott is a notorious bootlegger, ex-con, and political player.

She is devoted to him.

Deborah’s massive family, their closeness and their differences gave readers an insight to their own lives.

I am an only child, but grew up surrounded by cousins, and I could relate to Knott’s family issues. Knott’s closeness to her father echoed my own close relationship with my now deceased parents.

Maron has written more than 26 novels, include another series about NYPD cop Sigrid Harald, and 2 collections of short stories. Her works have been translated into a dozen languages and are on the reading lists of many courses in contemporary Southern literature.

Bootlegger’s Daughter remains the only book to have won the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony and the Macavity for Best Novel.

Bootlegger's Daughter also is listed among the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

Among many other awards, Margaret has received the 2004 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for best North Carolina novel of the year. In 2008, she was honored with the North Carolina Award for Literature. (The North Carolina Award is the state’s highest civilian honor.)

Maron has been named one of this year’s Grand Masters by the Mystery Writers of America. During the Edgar Symposium, I will be interviewing her and Ken Follett, who is the other Grand Master honoree.

We’ll talk about North Carolina, her novels and how she remembers all Deborah’s brothers and nieces and nephews.

Grand Master Ken Follett
Oline Cogdill

follettken_follett
(Note: The 2013 Edgar Awards will be announced May 2 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The Edgar Symposium is May 1 at the Lighthouse International Auditorium in New York. Today's blog looks at Grand Master Ken Follett. On April 24, we discussed Margaret Maron, who shares the Grand Master honor).

Through the years I have read thousands of books, most of them in the mystery/thriller genre. That is not an exaggeration, but rather something in which I take pride.

And while I don’t remember every book, certain ones do stand out.

For example, Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle. What struck me when I was reading this 1978 novel set during WWII wasn’t the spy aspect, of which there is plenty, or the Nazis and the secret code. Rather, it was Follett’s well-developed portrait of a strong woman who rises above her own feelings and fears to prove her inner resolve.

In Eye of the Needle, an elaborate code is set up to confuse the Nazis on the Allies’ plans. Henry Faber, a Nazi spy and assassin who can crack that code, is marooned on a remote island, which is the home of Lucy, a young bride, and David, her husband, recently handicapped in an accident.

Lonely and stuck in what is now a loveless marriage, Lucy and Henry become involved. She doesn’t know he is a Nazi spy and that his expertise could change the outcome of WWII. When she discovers his plan, Lucy starts her own covert operation.

With Eye of the Needle, Follett, in my opinion, set the stage for the new thriller, to take that genre to different heights. While I hate the term “think outside the box,” that is exactly what Follett did with Eye of the Needle.

One critic has described Follett’s feature ongoing theme as “a heroine in the grip of violently seesawing passions and people fighting for their freedom.”

Eye of the Needle was Follett's breakout novel. It put him on the best-sellers lists and earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.

Since then Follett has written 20 best sellers and sold more than 100 million books. His historical dramas include Pillars of the Earth, an epic about the building of a cathedral in the Middle Ages.

The fact that it received rave reviews is an understatement.

It also was voted the third greatest book ever written by in Germany, beaten only by The Lord of the Rings and the Bible. London readers placed it No. 2 in the 60 greatest novels of the last 60 years. To Kill a Mockingbird was No. 1.

Pillars of the Earth has also spawned a highly praised TV miniseries and three board games.

His current project is his most ambitious yet. The Century Trilogy tells the entire history of the 20th century, seen through the eyes of five ordinary linked families: one American, one English, one German, one Russian, and one Welsh.

In Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity, which will be published next year, Follett takes us through the wars, revolutions, and issues that defined the 20th century.

Follett has been named one of this year’s Grand Masters by the Mystery Writers of America. During the Edgar Symposium, I will be interviewing him and Margaret Maron, who is the other Grand Master honoree.

We will talk about his career and his life. I hope we have time to discuss his childhood and why his parents would not allow their children to watch television or go to the cinema, and he found his escape in books. Perhaps we will discuss his love of music and the fact that he plays bass guitar in a band called Damn Right I Got the Blues, and appears occasionally with the folk group Clog Iron playing a bass balalaika.

However the conversation goes, it is certain to be lively.

Super User
Sunday, 28 April 2013 06:04

follettken_follett
(Note: The 2013 Edgar Awards will be announced May 2 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The Edgar Symposium is May 1 at the Lighthouse International Auditorium in New York. Today's blog looks at Grand Master Ken Follett. On April 24, we discussed Margaret Maron, who shares the Grand Master honor).

Through the years I have read thousands of books, most of them in the mystery/thriller genre. That is not an exaggeration, but rather something in which I take pride.

And while I don’t remember every book, certain ones do stand out.

For example, Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle. What struck me when I was reading this 1978 novel set during WWII wasn’t the spy aspect, of which there is plenty, or the Nazis and the secret code. Rather, it was Follett’s well-developed portrait of a strong woman who rises above her own feelings and fears to prove her inner resolve.

In Eye of the Needle, an elaborate code is set up to confuse the Nazis on the Allies’ plans. Henry Faber, a Nazi spy and assassin who can crack that code, is marooned on a remote island, which is the home of Lucy, a young bride, and David, her husband, recently handicapped in an accident.

Lonely and stuck in what is now a loveless marriage, Lucy and Henry become involved. She doesn’t know he is a Nazi spy and that his expertise could change the outcome of WWII. When she discovers his plan, Lucy starts her own covert operation.

With Eye of the Needle, Follett, in my opinion, set the stage for the new thriller, to take that genre to different heights. While I hate the term “think outside the box,” that is exactly what Follett did with Eye of the Needle.

One critic has described Follett’s feature ongoing theme as “a heroine in the grip of violently seesawing passions and people fighting for their freedom.”

Eye of the Needle was Follett's breakout novel. It put him on the best-sellers lists and earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.

Since then Follett has written 20 best sellers and sold more than 100 million books. His historical dramas include Pillars of the Earth, an epic about the building of a cathedral in the Middle Ages.

The fact that it received rave reviews is an understatement.

It also was voted the third greatest book ever written by in Germany, beaten only by The Lord of the Rings and the Bible. London readers placed it No. 2 in the 60 greatest novels of the last 60 years. To Kill a Mockingbird was No. 1.

Pillars of the Earth has also spawned a highly praised TV miniseries and three board games.

His current project is his most ambitious yet. The Century Trilogy tells the entire history of the 20th century, seen through the eyes of five ordinary linked families: one American, one English, one German, one Russian, and one Welsh.

In Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity, which will be published next year, Follett takes us through the wars, revolutions, and issues that defined the 20th century.

Follett has been named one of this year’s Grand Masters by the Mystery Writers of America. During the Edgar Symposium, I will be interviewing him and Margaret Maron, who is the other Grand Master honoree.

We will talk about his career and his life. I hope we have time to discuss his childhood and why his parents would not allow their children to watch television or go to the cinema, and he found his escape in books. Perhaps we will discuss his love of music and the fact that he plays bass guitar in a band called Damn Right I Got the Blues, and appears occasionally with the folk group Clog Iron playing a bass balalaika.

However the conversation goes, it is certain to be lively.

Owen Laukkanen’s Latest Enterprise
Oline Cogdill
Laukkanen_owen
Owen Laukkanen
’s debut, The Professionals, was my favorite of 2012. This tale of four newly graduated college friends who turn to kidnapping because they can’t find jobs was a vivid illustration of contemporary economics while exploring how a sense of entitlement and selfishness can shade people’s logic.

Laukkanen’s second novel, Criminal Enterprise, again taps into the economic downturn as a wealthy accountant turns to robbing banks when he is laid off. He finds that bank robbing brings him more job satisfaction than his regular job ever did.

Here’s my review that ran in the Sun Sentinel.

Laukkanen recently stopped at Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, Florida, and here’s some bits and pieces from his appearance.

Like many authors, Laukkanen starts with the ever provocative “what if” to build his plots. For The Professionals, it was what if a gang of professional kidnappers were working in America, how would they pull it off?

For Criminal Enterprise, it was simply what if your next-door neighbor was a bank robber? What if a doctor lives in that house and a lawyer is in the one next to it and next to it is a guy who robs banks and goes off to work every day just like everyone else on the block.

laukkauenowen_criminalenterprise
Laukkanen prefers to devise villains who are not driven by malevolence or greed but by desperation and need. His villains are people readers can relate to, a kind of everyman. He finds the criminals who are most appealing are those who turn to crime by increments. Jaywalking today, stealing candy tomorrow, next week kidnapping.

In Criminal Enterprise, accountant Carter Tomlin thinks “he holds himself to a high-water mark. He rationalizes his actions and the danger it brings.”

For The Professionals, the kidnappers had to be nomadic so he just set them in Chicago because it is right in the middle of the country and it was a good starting point for the gang. “It was a blessing because I went there several times, got involved in a writers’ group and also rode along with a cop,” he said.

But Laukkanen doesn’t make his criminals the heroes of his novels. His series’ real heroes are FBI agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota state cop Kirk Stevens.

Although his novels are set in America and he writes evocatively about the U.S., Laukkanen is from Canada. He grew up in Windsor, Ontario, which is near Detroit. Why he writes about the U.S. instead of Canada is a question that comes up at nearly every book signing—“usually from the Canadians in the audience,” he said.

laukkanen_professionals
Being so close to Detroit, Laukkanen grew up with Detroit culture and the culture of America. “Windsor is as close to the U.S. as possible,” he added.

Also, setting a kidnapping gang in the U.S. made more sense because there are more major cities on this side of the border. His criminals could move from city to city without anyone knowing and could more easily pull off their heists. “Canadian cities are more in a straight line. The cops would be waiting in the next town for them to show up. We don’t have the large number of big cities as in the U.S.,” added Laukkanen who lives in Vancouver. “I’d love to write about Canada but I also like writing about America.”

Laukkanen spent three years reporting on professional poker players and wrote a thriller about the poker industry, which he says draws “the most intelligent and degenerate people. It’s a rich world.” But that novel is on hold as Laukkanen continues to work on his series.

Meanwhile, he has finished up his third novel, which is about a contract killer.

While Laukkanen frequently travels the United States for his settings, he has an inside track when it comes to forensics—his mother who is a former forensics pathologist. “Any time I have a question, I can just call up Mom,” he said. “She’s my best source for research.”

Admin
Sunday, 19 May 2013 05:05
Laukkanen_owen
Owen Laukkanen
’s debut, The Professionals, was my favorite of 2012. This tale of four newly graduated college friends who turn to kidnapping because they can’t find jobs was a vivid illustration of contemporary economics while exploring how a sense of entitlement and selfishness can shade people’s logic.

Laukkanen’s second novel, Criminal Enterprise, again taps into the economic downturn as a wealthy accountant turns to robbing banks when he is laid off. He finds that bank robbing brings him more job satisfaction than his regular job ever did.

Here’s my review that ran in the Sun Sentinel.

Laukkanen recently stopped at Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, Florida, and here’s some bits and pieces from his appearance.

Like many authors, Laukkanen starts with the ever provocative “what if” to build his plots. For The Professionals, it was what if a gang of professional kidnappers were working in America, how would they pull it off?

For Criminal Enterprise, it was simply what if your next-door neighbor was a bank robber? What if a doctor lives in that house and a lawyer is in the one next to it and next to it is a guy who robs banks and goes off to work every day just like everyone else on the block.

laukkauenowen_criminalenterprise
Laukkanen prefers to devise villains who are not driven by malevolence or greed but by desperation and need. His villains are people readers can relate to, a kind of everyman. He finds the criminals who are most appealing are those who turn to crime by increments. Jaywalking today, stealing candy tomorrow, next week kidnapping.

In Criminal Enterprise, accountant Carter Tomlin thinks “he holds himself to a high-water mark. He rationalizes his actions and the danger it brings.”

For The Professionals, the kidnappers had to be nomadic so he just set them in Chicago because it is right in the middle of the country and it was a good starting point for the gang. “It was a blessing because I went there several times, got involved in a writers’ group and also rode along with a cop,” he said.

But Laukkanen doesn’t make his criminals the heroes of his novels. His series’ real heroes are FBI agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota state cop Kirk Stevens.

Although his novels are set in America and he writes evocatively about the U.S., Laukkanen is from Canada. He grew up in Windsor, Ontario, which is near Detroit. Why he writes about the U.S. instead of Canada is a question that comes up at nearly every book signing—“usually from the Canadians in the audience,” he said.

laukkanen_professionals
Being so close to Detroit, Laukkanen grew up with Detroit culture and the culture of America. “Windsor is as close to the U.S. as possible,” he added.

Also, setting a kidnapping gang in the U.S. made more sense because there are more major cities on this side of the border. His criminals could move from city to city without anyone knowing and could more easily pull off their heists. “Canadian cities are more in a straight line. The cops would be waiting in the next town for them to show up. We don’t have the large number of big cities as in the U.S.,” added Laukkanen who lives in Vancouver. “I’d love to write about Canada but I also like writing about America.”

Laukkanen spent three years reporting on professional poker players and wrote a thriller about the poker industry, which he says draws “the most intelligent and degenerate people. It’s a rich world.” But that novel is on hold as Laukkanen continues to work on his series.

Meanwhile, he has finished up his third novel, which is about a contract killer.

While Laukkanen frequently travels the United States for his settings, he has an inside track when it comes to forensics—his mother who is a former forensics pathologist. “Any time I have a question, I can just call up Mom,” he said. “She’s my best source for research.”

2013 Agatha Winners
Oline Cogdill

The Agatha Awards for novels published during 2012 were announced May 4, 2013, during the Malice Domestic convention.

Here are the winners in bold.

Congratulations to those who took home the Agatha and to the nominees.

Best Novel:

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise PennyThe Diva Digs Up the Dirt by Krista Davis
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best First Novel:
Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
A Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan
A Killer Read by Erika Chase
Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans

Best Non-fiction:
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels by John Connolly/Declan Burke
Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 by Joseph Goodrich, Editor
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie by Mathew Prichard, Editor

Best Short Story:
"Mischief in Mesopotamia" (PDF) by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2012)
"Kept in the Dark" by Sheila Connolly (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon Anthology)
"The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
"Thea's First Husband" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, June 2012)
"When Duty Calls" by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Best Historical Novel:
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

Oline Cogdill
Saturday, 04 May 2013 09:05

The Agatha Awards for novels published during 2012 were announced May 4, 2013, during the Malice Domestic convention.

Here are the winners in bold.

Congratulations to those who took home the Agatha and to the nominees.

Best Novel:

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise PennyThe Diva Digs Up the Dirt by Krista Davis
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best First Novel:
Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
A Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan
A Killer Read by Erika Chase
Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans

Best Non-fiction:
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels by John Connolly/Declan Burke
Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 by Joseph Goodrich, Editor
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie by Mathew Prichard, Editor

Best Short Story:
"Mischief in Mesopotamia" (PDF) by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2012)
"Kept in the Dark" by Sheila Connolly (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon Anthology)
"The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
"Thea's First Husband" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, June 2012)
"When Duty Calls" by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Best Historical Novel:
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

2013 Edgar Allan Poe Awards
Oline Cogdill

The Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2013 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2012. The Edgar® Awards were given during the 67th gala banquet May 2, 2013.

Congratulations to all the winners.

(Winners are marked by an asterisk and are in bold)


BEST NOVEL

The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishers)

Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Sunset by Al Lamanda (Gale Cengage Learning – Five Star)

*Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

All I Did Was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley (Penguin Group USA – Riverhead Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay (Random House Publishing– Ballantine)

Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Minotaur Books - Thomas Dunne Books)

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (Random House Publishing– Bantam Books)

*The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers)

The 500 by Matthew Quirk (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Reagan Arthur)

Black Fridays by Michael Sears (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

Complication by Isaac Adamson (Soft Skull Press)

Whiplash River by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow Paperbacks)

Bloodland by Alan Glynn (Picador)

Blessed are the Dead by Malla Nunn (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books - Emily Bestler Books)

*The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)


BEST FACT CRIME


*Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
by Paul French (Penguin Group USA – Penguin Books)

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)

More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers' Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle, MD (Medallion Press)

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre (Crown Publishers)

The People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry (Farrar Straus & Giroux Originals)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed by John Paul Athanasourelis (McFarland and Company)

Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books – Emily Bestler Books)

*The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James O’Brien (Oxford University Press)

In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero edited by Otto Penzler (Smart Pop)

BEST SHORT STORY

"Iphigenia in Aulis" – An Apple for the Creature by Mike Carey (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)

"Hot Sugar Blues" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Steve Liskow (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)

"The Void it Often Brings With It” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tom Piccirilli (Dell Magazines)

*"The Unremarkable Heart" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Karin Slaughter (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)

"Still Life No. 41" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Teresa Solana (Dell Magazines)

BEST JUVENILE

Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet Books)

13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau (Abrams – Amulet Books)

*The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo (Abrams – Amulet Books)

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dial Books for Young Readers)

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Roaring Brook Press)

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking)

Crusher by Niall Leonard (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte BFYR)

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton Children’s Books)

*Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Disney Publishing Worldwide - Hyperion)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“Pilot” – Longmire, Teleplay by Hunt Baldwin & John Coveny (A&E/Warner Horizon Television)

“Child Predator” – elemeNtarY, Teleplay by Peter Blake (CBS Productions)

“Slaughterhouse” – Justified, Teleplay by Fred Golan (Sony Pictures Television/FX Productions)

*“A Scandal in Belgravia” – Sherlock, Teleplay by Steven Moffat (BBC/Masterpiece)

“New Car Smell” – Homeland, Teleplay by Meredith Stiehm (Showtime/Fox21)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
"When They Are Done With Us" – Staten Island Noir by Patricia Smith (Akashic Books)

GRAND MASTER
Ken Follett
Margaret Maron

RAVEN AWARDS
*Oline Cogdill (yes, that is me!)
*Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, San Diego & Redondo Beach, CA

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
*Akashic Books

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER - MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, May 1, 2013)

*The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)

Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)

A City of Broken Glass by Rebecca Cantrell (Forge Books)

The Reckoning by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books)

Sleepwalker by Wendy Corsi Staub (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper)

Oline Cogdill
Friday, 03 May 2013 01:05

The Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2013 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2012. The Edgar® Awards were given during the 67th gala banquet May 2, 2013.

Congratulations to all the winners.

(Winners are marked by an asterisk and are in bold)


BEST NOVEL

The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishers)

Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Sunset by Al Lamanda (Gale Cengage Learning – Five Star)

*Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

All I Did Was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley (Penguin Group USA – Riverhead Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay (Random House Publishing– Ballantine)

Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Minotaur Books - Thomas Dunne Books)

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (Random House Publishing– Bantam Books)

*The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers)

The 500 by Matthew Quirk (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Reagan Arthur)

Black Fridays by Michael Sears (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

Complication by Isaac Adamson (Soft Skull Press)

Whiplash River by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow Paperbacks)

Bloodland by Alan Glynn (Picador)

Blessed are the Dead by Malla Nunn (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books - Emily Bestler Books)

*The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)


BEST FACT CRIME


*Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
by Paul French (Penguin Group USA – Penguin Books)

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)

More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers' Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle, MD (Medallion Press)

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre (Crown Publishers)

The People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry (Farrar Straus & Giroux Originals)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed by John Paul Athanasourelis (McFarland and Company)

Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books – Emily Bestler Books)

*The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James O’Brien (Oxford University Press)

In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero edited by Otto Penzler (Smart Pop)

BEST SHORT STORY

"Iphigenia in Aulis" – An Apple for the Creature by Mike Carey (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)

"Hot Sugar Blues" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Steve Liskow (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)

"The Void it Often Brings With It” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tom Piccirilli (Dell Magazines)

*"The Unremarkable Heart" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Karin Slaughter (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)

"Still Life No. 41" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Teresa Solana (Dell Magazines)

BEST JUVENILE

Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet Books)

13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau (Abrams – Amulet Books)

*The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo (Abrams – Amulet Books)

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dial Books for Young Readers)

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Roaring Brook Press)

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking)

Crusher by Niall Leonard (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte BFYR)

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton Children’s Books)

*Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Disney Publishing Worldwide - Hyperion)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“Pilot” – Longmire, Teleplay by Hunt Baldwin & John Coveny (A&E/Warner Horizon Television)

“Child Predator” – elemeNtarY, Teleplay by Peter Blake (CBS Productions)

“Slaughterhouse” – Justified, Teleplay by Fred Golan (Sony Pictures Television/FX Productions)

*“A Scandal in Belgravia” – Sherlock, Teleplay by Steven Moffat (BBC/Masterpiece)

“New Car Smell” – Homeland, Teleplay by Meredith Stiehm (Showtime/Fox21)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
"When They Are Done With Us" – Staten Island Noir by Patricia Smith (Akashic Books)

GRAND MASTER
Ken Follett
Margaret Maron

RAVEN AWARDS
*Oline Cogdill (yes, that is me!)
*Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, San Diego & Redondo Beach, CA

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
*Akashic Books

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER - MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, May 1, 2013)

*The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)

Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)

A City of Broken Glass by Rebecca Cantrell (Forge Books)

The Reckoning by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books)

Sleepwalker by Wendy Corsi Staub (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper)

25 Years of Malice Domestic
Oline Cogdill

king_laurie_r_small
The mystery genre produces the social novel of our times. That is not exactly a revelation as I have said it so many times.

Mysteries look at our society, the issues that are part of our lives, and how we deal with crime and punishment.

Mysteries also deal with relationships and family issues.

You’ll find these themes both in the hard-boiled novels and the traditional mysteries.

One of the best things about the genre is wide range of choices it offers.

There is room for authors who produce the grittiest of stories and for those who prefer the light touch.

Readers often embrace both. And I am one of those readers who enjoy the hard-boiled novels as well as the traditional mysteries, and the amateur sleuths who give us a window to a profession and, sometimes, make us laugh.

Today, I want to celebrate the traditional mystery and the Malice Domestic convention, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Malice is May 3-5, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, MD. And it is a sold-out conference, showing how popular the traditional msytery is.

This year’s Malice honorees reflect the wide range of stories the genre offers.

Guest of Honor Laurie R. King, left, and International Guest of Honor Peter Robinson, below right, both give us stories that show the depth of human emotions and experiences.

King’s Mary Russell novels appeal to a diverse demographic, including young girls.

In an interview for a profile in Mystery Scene, King said: “One of the earliest interviewers wrote that Mary Russell was for all the girls who came to the end of the Sherlock Holmes stories and realized, ‘They didn’t need me.’ At a certain point, you realize that they are more boys’ stories. But wouldn’t you have loved to have had Mary Russell around when you were 14 or so? And because she gets the better of Sherlock, that adds to the fun.” King said she’s proud The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is listed as a Notable Young Adult Book and an Outstanding Book for the College Bound from the American Library Association. Sherlockians also have jumped on the Russell bandwagon. She and Leslie S. Klinger, who edited The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, often do events together.

robinson_peterRobinson’s evocative series about Yorkshire detective Alan Banks continues to inject contemporary issues and nuanced character studies into carefully plotted police procedurals. (Peter Robinson is at right.)

Toastmaster Laura Lippman knows how to illustrate the depths of the emotional mine fields that challenge girls who will become women and how the fragility of memory affects our lives.

Malice also introduces many debuting authors and Mystery Scene does its part by co-sponsoring the New Authors Breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. on Sunday, May 5. This will jumpstart your day so you can enjoy the many panels scheduled that day. The host will be Cindy Silberblatt, who is the fan guest of honor at this year’s Malice. Mystery Scene editors Kate Stine and Brian Skupin will be at the breakfast.

Breakfast is served buffet (beginning at 7 a.m.) and the room is set in rounds of ten. Each author will be at a different table so they get to meet some readers who might not know their work and each reader gets a chance to sit with an author.

The intros begin between 7 and 7:30. Cindy will do a short interview with each author about his or her book.

I’ve been to this New Authors Breakfast before and it is a lot of fun. Think of it like speed dating with readers.
Admin
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 04:05

king_laurie_r_small
The mystery genre produces the social novel of our times. That is not exactly a revelation as I have said it so many times.

Mysteries look at our society, the issues that are part of our lives, and how we deal with crime and punishment.

Mysteries also deal with relationships and family issues.

You’ll find these themes both in the hard-boiled novels and the traditional mysteries.

One of the best things about the genre is wide range of choices it offers.

There is room for authors who produce the grittiest of stories and for those who prefer the light touch.

Readers often embrace both. And I am one of those readers who enjoy the hard-boiled novels as well as the traditional mysteries, and the amateur sleuths who give us a window to a profession and, sometimes, make us laugh.

Today, I want to celebrate the traditional mystery and the Malice Domestic convention, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Malice is May 3-5, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, MD. And it is a sold-out conference, showing how popular the traditional msytery is.

This year’s Malice honorees reflect the wide range of stories the genre offers.

Guest of Honor Laurie R. King, left, and International Guest of Honor Peter Robinson, below right, both give us stories that show the depth of human emotions and experiences.

King’s Mary Russell novels appeal to a diverse demographic, including young girls.

In an interview for a profile in Mystery Scene, King said: “One of the earliest interviewers wrote that Mary Russell was for all the girls who came to the end of the Sherlock Holmes stories and realized, ‘They didn’t need me.’ At a certain point, you realize that they are more boys’ stories. But wouldn’t you have loved to have had Mary Russell around when you were 14 or so? And because she gets the better of Sherlock, that adds to the fun.” King said she’s proud The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is listed as a Notable Young Adult Book and an Outstanding Book for the College Bound from the American Library Association. Sherlockians also have jumped on the Russell bandwagon. She and Leslie S. Klinger, who edited The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, often do events together.

robinson_peterRobinson’s evocative series about Yorkshire detective Alan Banks continues to inject contemporary issues and nuanced character studies into carefully plotted police procedurals. (Peter Robinson is at right.)

Toastmaster Laura Lippman knows how to illustrate the depths of the emotional mine fields that challenge girls who will become women and how the fragility of memory affects our lives.

Malice also introduces many debuting authors and Mystery Scene does its part by co-sponsoring the New Authors Breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. on Sunday, May 5. This will jumpstart your day so you can enjoy the many panels scheduled that day. The host will be Cindy Silberblatt, who is the fan guest of honor at this year’s Malice. Mystery Scene editors Kate Stine and Brian Skupin will be at the breakfast.

Breakfast is served buffet (beginning at 7 a.m.) and the room is set in rounds of ten. Each author will be at a different table so they get to meet some readers who might not know their work and each reader gets a chance to sit with an author.

The intros begin between 7 and 7:30. Cindy will do a short interview with each author about his or her book.

I’ve been to this New Authors Breakfast before and it is a lot of fun. Think of it like speed dating with readers.
At the Scene, Spring Issue #129
Kate Stine

129cover250Hi Everyone,

Wyoming is the least populous state in the US, but I would bet that C.J. Box’s novels have set more than a few mystery readers daydreaming of a new life out west. Our talk with this articulate and ardent proponent of Wyoming will only fan the flames—westward, ho!

Other treats in this issue include Kevin Burton Smith’s ode to the “Hot Rides of Private Eyes Past,” Martin Edward’s examination of Dorothy L. Sayers’ real-life detective skills, and a talk with former journalist-turned-novelist Brad Parks. Lynn Kaczmarek chats with Erin Hart about her atmospheric mysteries set in Ireland, and Brian Skupin catches up with Linda Barnes, who is making a welcome return to crime writing after ending her Carlotta Carlyle series a few years back. Old Time Radio fans will be interested in Michael Mallory’s tribute to the Inner Sanctum Mystery program.

Every issue of Mystery Scene celebrates the work of crime writers. But to do that, an- other sort of writer is required—a critic. Critics seldom get the plaudits they routinely hand out to others, but we’re happy to re-port that Oline H. Cogdill will be receiving the 2013 Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America at this year’s Edgar Awards Banquet. Oline always brings a discerning eye and a love of the genre to her work, whether she’s writing for Mystery Scene or for her nationally syndicated review column. Well done, Oline!

Don’t miss Betty Webb’s wide-ranging conversation with Oline in this issue about the ins-and-outs of a literary critic’s life.

Kate Stine
Editor-in-chief

Teri Duerr
Friday, 04 March 2011 11:03

129cover250C.J. Box on the "Way of the West," Dorothy L. Sayers, PIs and their cars, a look at Old Time Radio, an interview with Linda Barnes, and Lisa Scottoline on Robert B. Parker

Spring Issue #129 Contents
Mystery Scene

129cover250

Features


Wild, Wild West

Wyoming is the heart and soul of C.J. Box’s atmospheric novels.
by Oline H. Cogdill

Ink in His Blood

Brad Parks brings his journalism chops to his award-winning novels.
by Oline H. Cogdill

Dorothy L. Sayers, Detective

While her reputation rests on her fiction, Sayers herself had a flair for real-life mysteries.
by Martin Edwards

Eyewitness: Chicks Dig the Car

Could the dearth of good private eye TV be due to a lack of cool cars?
by Kevin Burton Smith

Erin Hart

Like her detective character, Hart is an American enthralled by Ireland.
by Lynn Kaczmarek

The Inner Sanctum

One of classic radio’s most influential and successful hits.
by Michael Mallory

Linda Barnes

After a hiatus, this ground- breaking author makes a welcome return.
by Brian Skupin

Oline H. Cogdill: A Critic’s Eye

An award-winning mystery fiction critic discusses her career and calling in a wide-ranging chat.
by Betty Webb

On Reading Robert B. Parker

What he left out of his books was just as important as what he put in.
by Lisa Scottoline

“How Did the Victim Die?” Mystery Crossword

by Verna Suit

Departments


At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Mystery Miscellany

by Louis Phillips

The Hook

First Lines That Caught Our Attention

Hints & Allegations

Edgar Award nominations, 2013 Grand Master Awards, Every Picture Tells a Story, Dilys Award nominations, Nero Wolfe Awards

New Books

La Dolce Vita
by Katherine Hall Page

Night Terrors
by Dennis Palumbo


Reviews


Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

by Betty Webb & Sharon Magee

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell & Hank Wagner

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

by Dick Lochte

Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

Mystery Scene Reviews

Miscellaneous


The Docket

Letters

Our Readers Recommend

MS Online

Advertiser Info

Admin
Monday, 05 April 2010 10:04

129cover250

Features


Wild, Wild West

Wyoming is the heart and soul of C.J. Box’s atmospheric novels.
by Oline H. Cogdill

Ink in His Blood

Brad Parks brings his journalism chops to his award-winning novels.
by Oline H. Cogdill

Dorothy L. Sayers, Detective

While her reputation rests on her fiction, Sayers herself had a flair for real-life mysteries.
by Martin Edwards

Eyewitness: Chicks Dig the Car

Could the dearth of good private eye TV be due to a lack of cool cars?
by Kevin Burton Smith

Erin Hart

Like her detective character, Hart is an American enthralled by Ireland.
by Lynn Kaczmarek

The Inner Sanctum

One of classic radio’s most influential and successful hits.
by Michael Mallory

Linda Barnes

After a hiatus, this ground- breaking author makes a welcome return.
by Brian Skupin

Oline H. Cogdill: A Critic’s Eye

An award-winning mystery fiction critic discusses her career and calling in a wide-ranging chat.
by Betty Webb

On Reading Robert B. Parker

What he left out of his books was just as important as what he put in.
by Lisa Scottoline

“How Did the Victim Die?” Mystery Crossword

by Verna Suit

Departments


At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Mystery Miscellany

by Louis Phillips

The Hook

First Lines That Caught Our Attention

Hints & Allegations

Edgar Award nominations, 2013 Grand Master Awards, Every Picture Tells a Story, Dilys Award nominations, Nero Wolfe Awards

New Books

La Dolce Vita
by Katherine Hall Page

Night Terrors
by Dennis Palumbo


Reviews


Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

by Betty Webb & Sharon Magee

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell & Hank Wagner

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

by Dick Lochte

Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

Mystery Scene Reviews

Miscellaneous


The Docket

Letters

Our Readers Recommend

MS Online

Advertiser Info

Murder as a Fine Art
Hank Wagner

David Morrell’s latest is set in the dank, dirty streets of 1854 London. Apparently inspired by the Ratcliffe Highway mass murders of 1811, and by their detailed fictional recreation in Thomas De Quincey’s notorious essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” a brutal and efficient killer has taken several innocent lives, and terrorized the city. Desperate to seem on top of the case, the police roust the controversial De Quincey, considering him a suspect despite his advanced age, frail condition, and laudanum addiction. Always intrigued by an intellectual puzzle, and finding it to be in his self-interest, the Victorian author, accompanied by his daughter, the estimable Emily, matches wits with the killer, trying to uncover his identity before he can wreak further havoc.

Although aptly compared to books such as Dan Simmons’ Drood and Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, the book that came to my mind while enjoying the mayhem within was Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, due to Morrell’s happy ability to marry fact and fiction, convincingly evoking both 19th century London and the fascinating personage of the “Opium-Eater” himself, Thomas De Quincey. Besides being treated to a first-rate historical thriller, which the author dubs in his fascinating afterword, “my version of a nineteenth century novel,” readers can learn about, among other things, the origins of London’s police department, the history of the drug laudanum, and the derivation of the word “bloomers.” Morrell accomplishes this feat through the use of the third-person omniscient viewpoint, a welcome nod to the novels of that time, which allows the narrator to step forward to provide necessary background information.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 22 April 2013 01:04

morrell_murderasafineartA historical novel inspired by opium dreams and set in the dank, dirty streets of 1854 London.

The Great Detective: His Further Adventures
Bill Crider

One thing that gets my attention is a new Sherlock Holmes anthology like The Great Detective: His Further Adventures, edited by Gary Lovisi. It contains 12 stories, nine of them previously unpublished. One that I noticed right away was Lovisi’s own “Sherlock Holmes—Stymied!” I’m not a golfer, but I do know the origin of the word stymie. And sure enough, this is a golfing story, and a clever one, too. Lovisi also provides a short introduction to the volume.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 22 April 2013 02:04

One thing that gets my attention is a new Sherlock Holmes anthology like The Great Detective: His Further Adventures, edited by Gary Lovisi. It contains 12 stories, nine of them previously unpublished. One that I noticed right away was Lovisi’s own “Sherlock Holmes—Stymied!” I’m not a golfer, but I do know the origin of the word stymie. And sure enough, this is a golfing story, and a clever one, too. Lovisi also provides a short introduction to the volume.

Death Before Compline
Bill Crider

Sharan Newman writes novels and stories set in 12th-century France. Seven of the stories have been collected in Death Before Compline. If you’re not familiar with her work, don’t worry. Newman provides an introduction with summaries of each of her novels that gives an insight into her setting and her characters, two of whom are the protagonists of these stories. There’s also an introduction to each individual story, telling how it came to be written and giving the idea behind it. And there are even “somewhat medieval recipes” included. One of them is for candles, for those who’d rather do something crafty.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 22 April 2013 02:04

Sharan Newman writes novels and stories set in 12th-century France. Seven of the stories have been collected in Death Before Compline. If you’re not familiar with her work, don’t worry. Newman provides an introduction with summaries of each of her novels that gives an insight into her setting and her characters, two of whom are the protagonists of these stories. There’s also an introduction to each individual story, telling how it came to be written and giving the idea behind it. And there are even “somewhat medieval recipes” included. One of them is for candles, for those who’d rather do something crafty.

The Legend of Judgment Rock and Other Mystery Stories
Bill Crider

Sharon Love Cook’s The Legend of Judgment Rock and Other Mystery Stories collects ten stories and one nonfiction tale, “The Ghost of Winthrop Hall.” I was partial to “Murder at the Senior Center,” in which the center is described as being “much like high school...with dentures.” Four of the stories are reprints, and all are good reading.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 22 April 2013 02:04

Sharon Love Cook’s The Legend of Judgment Rock and Other Mystery Stories collects ten stories and one nonfiction tale, “The Ghost of Winthrop Hall.” I was partial to “Murder at the Senior Center,” in which the center is described as being “much like high school...with dentures.” Four of the stories are reprints, and all are good reading.