‘Judge’ David Ellis and James Patterson

pattersonellis_invisible
David Ellis’ pattern of involving stories was set in his first book, Line of Vision, which won the Edgar Award for best first novel.

Line of Vision wasn’t just a solid legal thriller, it was a poignant character study and a morality tale.

And Ellis isn’t just another attorney turned novelist. He’s about to be a judge.

He received the Democratic nomination for the Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on March 18, 2014. He will be unopposed in the general election on November 4, 2014, after which he will become a judge.

Ellis’ last novel in his Jason Kolarich series was The Last Alibi, which came out last year.

Meanwhile, judge-to-be Ellis has become one of James Patterson’s co-authors. Their latest collaboration Invisible hit the ground running with spots on several best-sellers lists.

Invisible revolves around former FBI researcher Emmy Dockery who is obsessed with showing a link between hundreds of rapes, kidnappings and murders.

Invisible is the third time Ellis and Patterson have teamed up.

Oline Cogdill
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 12:07

pattersonellis_invisible
David Ellis’ pattern of involving stories was set in his first book, Line of Vision, which won the Edgar Award for best first novel.

Line of Vision wasn’t just a solid legal thriller, it was a poignant character study and a morality tale.

And Ellis isn’t just another attorney turned novelist. He’s about to be a judge.

He received the Democratic nomination for the Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on March 18, 2014. He will be unopposed in the general election on November 4, 2014, after which he will become a judge.

Ellis’ last novel in his Jason Kolarich series was The Last Alibi, which came out last year.

Meanwhile, judge-to-be Ellis has become one of James Patterson’s co-authors. Their latest collaboration Invisible hit the ground running with spots on several best-sellers lists.

Invisible revolves around former FBI researcher Emmy Dockery who is obsessed with showing a link between hundreds of rapes, kidnappings and murders.

Invisible is the third time Ellis and Patterson have teamed up.

Summer Issue #135
Super User
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 08:07
A Date You Can't Refuse
Lynne Maxwell

As an actor and resident of Topanga Canyon, California, Harley Jane Kozak is conversant with the glaringly bizarre culture of LaLaLand, where life frequently waxes surreal. Witness the peculiar job that series heroine Wollie Shelley (get the literary allusion?) takes on as "social coach" to talented foreigners who come to the US to work but need a crash course in American culture. Strong-armed by her potential employer, the chronically underemployed Wollie reluctantly accepts this position with the shady company MediaRx in order to continue support for her institutionalized mentally ill brother. The fact that the FBI, along with her agent boyfriend, wants to recruit her as a corporate spy only serves to increase her trepidation. Wollie's reservations are rapidly validated when murder strikes in the residence of her many-times married employer. Events unfold at lightning pace as Wollie brings criminals to justice and reignites a romance as well.

If all of this sounds preposterous, you're absolutely correct. Fortunately, this is part of Kozak's genius. She has created an entertaining romance/mystery that adheres to the conventions of such fiction, improbabilities included, but A Date You Can't Refuse—and her other books as well--can also be read as genre spoofs. Kozak entertains while at the same time pointing to the absurdities of a genre that draws huge readership, but requires such enormous suspension of disbelief. Parody notwithstanding, readers who welcome the antics of Stephanie Plum will surely embrace Wollie Shelley. This romp is a mystery you can't refuse.

Admin
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 12:03

As an actor and resident of Topanga Canyon, California, Harley Jane Kozak is conversant with the glaringly bizarre culture of LaLaLand, where life frequently waxes surreal. Witness the peculiar job that series heroine Wollie Shelley (get the literary allusion?) takes on as "social coach" to talented foreigners who come to the US to work but need a crash course in American culture. Strong-armed by her potential employer, the chronically underemployed Wollie reluctantly accepts this position with the shady company MediaRx in order to continue support for her institutionalized mentally ill brother. The fact that the FBI, along with her agent boyfriend, wants to recruit her as a corporate spy only serves to increase her trepidation. Wollie's reservations are rapidly validated when murder strikes in the residence of her many-times married employer. Events unfold at lightning pace as Wollie brings criminals to justice and reignites a romance as well.

If all of this sounds preposterous, you're absolutely correct. Fortunately, this is part of Kozak's genius. She has created an entertaining romance/mystery that adheres to the conventions of such fiction, improbabilities included, but A Date You Can't Refuse—and her other books as well--can also be read as genre spoofs. Kozak entertains while at the same time pointing to the absurdities of a genre that draws huge readership, but requires such enormous suspension of disbelief. Parody notwithstanding, readers who welcome the antics of Stephanie Plum will surely embrace Wollie Shelley. This romp is a mystery you can't refuse.

Site Architecture
  1. Introduction

    • This site runs on Joomla 3.3.1 as at 07/16/2014. This is the most recent version of Joomla to date. No hacks whatsoever to the core of Joomla.

    • It was originally developed with Joomla 3.0 and upgraded several times without issues between the early stages of development and go live.

    • As at 07/16/2014 all extensions installed on the site are also up-to-date.
  2. Components

    • Seblod: Seblod is a CCK (Content Construction Kit) that allows to define capture forms for content on both the front and back-office UIs. It also allows to define multi criteria searches and layouts for content. Most content is displayed on this site using Seblod

    • Akeeba Backup: The most popular backup tool for Joomla sites. Allows to easily backup the full content of the site and restore it to a different server or directory in minutes. It is recommended to run regular backups. The restoration process has been tested during the very launch of the site to transfer it from the development to the production server.

    • FlexBanners: Used to manage the display of advertising on the site, including the top banner and the two square ads in the right columns.

    • Ninja RSS Syndicator: Was used previously in the Joomla 1.5 site to display the "Latest From The Mystery Scene Blog" module at the bottom of the home page. However when we started developing the Joomla 3.3 site it was not availlable. Only a beta version was available. It's therefore been decided to use Seblod instead to display that information

    • J2XML: component that allows to transfer users, categories and articles from one Joomla site to another. It has been used to transfer users and categories from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 3. However articles have been transferred manually by running SQL queries in order to also populate the Seblod specific fields.

    • JCE Editor: Wysiwyg editor used to edit content

    • No Number ReReplacer: Allows to replace (or remove) text in the Joomla content for display. Can be useful for instance when a name is misspelled across multiple pages. Was installed originally to remove the Seblod tags from the RSS Feeds. Since Ninja RSS is eventually not used it's not used any more.

    • All other components are standard Joomla components.

  3. Modules

    • FlexBanners Module: 3 instances are used to display the top banner and in the right column, two square ads.

    • Latest Tweets by Joomla Works: used to display the 3 latest tweets in the right column. The module fetches the tweets from the Mysteryscene Mag Twitter account.

    • Seblod List: 3 instances to display the "Current Issue" and "Most Popular" in the right column as well as the "Latest Form The Mystery Scene Blog" below the main content on the Home page.

    • Blog Newsfeed: Used to display an RSS feed on content pages. Not displayed on any pages currently.
    • All other modules are standard Joomla modules

  4. Plugins

    • Too many to list them all. Most of them are standard plugins related to Seblod.

    • Worth mentioning, however, are a couple of Seblod commercial plugins called SD fieldconcat, SD Databaser, and Select Dynamic Cascade which are used to customize the Seblod displayin multiple forms and content displays.

  5. Template

    • The template used on this site is called "mysteryscene" and is a customization of the "protostar" template that ships with Joomla 3.3.

    • Protostar was duplicated in order to avoid losing the customizations during upgrades. Upgrades of Joomla are therefore possible and safe.

    • The template is responsive.

    • The main customizations are specific css rules to replicate the look and feel of the previous Joomla site and javascript mostly to resize dynamically some areas.

    • The only customized file is index.php, mostly to include the specific css and javascript files.

    • The additional files are /css/mysteryscene.css, /css/mysterysceneresponsive.css and /js/mysteryscene.js

    • The positions are standard protostar positions, thus left column is position-8, right column is position-7, position-0 for search, position-3 above the main content, position-2 below the main content.

Super User
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 06:07

Description of the main components used in this implementation of Joomla and their puspose

Seblod Content Types

Article

Review

Front Page

Issue

Website User Manual Document

Super User
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 08:07

Describes the different types of content that can be captured when in the content manager and hitting "New"

How to Create a New Blog Entry
  1. Introduction

    • Blog entries are accessed from the site using the Blog menu

    • The 3 latest blog entries are also displayed in an abbreviated version at the bottom of the Home page. 

    • Blog entries belong to a subcategory of the main Blog category

  2. Steps

    1. Go to the Joomla Back-Office and login with your credentials. 

    2. Go to the Article Manager

    3. Click the green button labeled "New" in the top left area. 

    4. Select "Article" in the pop-up window. 

    5. Populate the relevant fields in all tabs. Guidelines on how to populate fields can be found here.

 

Super User
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 08:07

Describes the steps to create a new blog entry.

How to Populate Article Fields
  • The articles fields are organized into a number of tabs.
  • The most important ones are to the left of the screen.
  • Some values are populated by default or generated from other fields and you probably don't have to change them.

Details

  • Title: Title of the article. Conventions (uppercase/lowercase for instance) should be followed to ensure consistency across the site.
  • Alias: Generated automatically from the title. You can leave it as is. It might however be a good idea to empty it (it will be regenerated) if you make a substantial change the title after saving the article in order to keep the alias in synch with the title.
  • Status: Published by default. Should be left as is except if for some reason you want to unpublish the article. If you want to make the article visible at a later date you can still leave it as Published here but use the Publish Up and Publish Down dates in the Publishing tab.

Article Introduction (Teaser)

  • Only one field, wysiwyg editor.
  • This filed is optional for blog entries.
  • In General should include ONLY an introduction and one image.
  • For blog entries it is NO LONGER acceptable to have everything in this tab as it was resulting in empty search results.
  • The full text of the article should be populated in the Article Full Text tab.
  • Will be displayed at the top of the "Home", "Articles", "Reviews" pages.
  • No styling necessary, therefore none should be added. The site template will add the styling.
  • If you include external links to other sites they should include the full path without "http://" such as "www.indiebound.org/book/9781939474681"
  • If you include internal links they should include only the part of the url after your domain name preceded by "../" for instance instead of http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/article?id=3674:the-paris-lawyer capture only "../article?id=3674:the-paris-lawyer", this makes running the site from a separate server (for tests for instance) easier.

Article Full Text

  • Only one field, wysiwyg editor.
  • EVERY Article (including Blog) should have a full text.
  • Contains all the text and images, sans the intro which was already captured in the previous tab.
  • Will be displayed when clicking on an article title in full view mode.
  • Styling ONLY through the style toolbar. The site template will add the styling. Adding additional styling will clutter the text with unwanted and unnecessary markup.
  • Before using the stye toolbar, check the display on the site. The template might have taken care of some of the styling arleady.
  • For links the same guidelines as for the Introduction apply.

Book Details

  • Populate this tab is the article is about a book.
  • Title: Title of the book. Good practice to capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • Publisher: Publisher of the book. Good practice to capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • Publish Date: publish date of the book. Format should be Month Year. (e.g.June 2014)
  • Price: Price of the book without the $ sign, It will be added automatically by the template.
  • Jacket Image: Upload the Jacket image of the book if available. It will be published in the left column of the full article view.
  • ISBN: Capture only the ISBN. It is use to generate automatically the Amazon and Indie Books links.

Author Details

  • Populate this tab is the article is about a book.
  • Author Image: Upload a picture of the author.
  • First Name: Main author first name. Good practice to capitalize the first letter.
  • Last Name: Main author last name. Good practice to capitalize the first letter.
  • Co-Author First Name: Second author first name, if any. Good practice to capitalize the first letter.
  • Co-Author Last Name: Second author last name, if any. Good practice to capitalize the first letter.

Publishing

  • Created By: Populated automatically. By default populated with currently logged in user.
  • Created By Alias: By default same value as previous field. Can be changed if a user wants to publish articles under a different name. It will show on the site.
  • Created Date: by default current date when article is created.
  • Start Publishing: by default current date when article is created can be changed to a future date if you want the article to only appear on the site later.
  • Finish Publishing: by default empty, which means the article will never be depublshed. Can be populated to a future date if you want the article to disappear from the site at a given time.
  • Revisions: Number of versions of this article
  • Hits: Number of views of this articles. Used to populate "Most Popular". Can be reset if you want to "decrease" the popularity of an article.
  • All other fields are options provided by Joomla that should be left as is.

Metadata

  • Technical fields that for the most part can be ignored except the following.
  • Meta Description: Description that appears on the Google search results. It can be a good way to do some free marketing for your article. It should be article specific.
  • Meta Keywords: words that can be used to link articles together wiht the Joomla "Related Articles" module. This module is not currently used but could be in the future.

Media

  • Not currently used but could be used to capture links and images related to an article in a structured way.

Super User
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 08:07
How to Create a Review
Super User
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 10:07
Echoes From a Great War: a Conversation With Jacqueline Winspear
Cheryl Solimini

winspear jacqueline smPhoto: Barry Zeman

As the world looks to the outbreak of WWI in the summer of 1914, we are re-running this interview with Jacqueline Winspear, author of the bestselling Maisie Dobbs series which deals with the aftermath of that great conflict.

Soho Press has recently re-issued this classic novel with a new afterworld by the author.

As Jacqueline Winspear tells it, Maisie Dobbs appeared unbidden, emerging from London’s Warren Street tube station one spring day in 1929. Winspear saw her stop to chat with a newspaper vendor before pulling out a set of keys and entering a somewhat rundown Georgian building on Fitzroy Square. The surprise: This sighting actually occurred in spring 2000, as Winspear was stuck at a stoplight in bumper-to-bumper traffic on her way to her job in the San Francisco Bay area.

“It was like watching a movie,” Winspear says of that first “mind’s eye” vision of her imaginary investigator, who she has since taken through three post-World War I cases, including Pardonable Lies (Henry Holt), published this August. “It sounds rather like meeting the apparition on the Road to Damascus. But I call it my moment of artistic grace,” says the author, who has also worked as a creativity coach. By the time the light changed, Winspear had the details of a first chapter in her head and couldn’t wait to get home to record the history of Maisie Dobbs, her housemaid turned scholar turned sleuth.

winspear Maisie-Dobbs 10th annivThough that beginning remained virtually unchanged, Winspear didn’t get around to finishing the book until more than a year later, when she had come to another standstill—literally. An avid horsewoman, Winspear suffered a horrible riding accident that crushed her right shoulder and landed her in orthopedic “scaffolding” for a month. “My writing buddy said, ‘Well, now you can finish the book.’ I protested, ‘I can’t use my right hand!’ And she said, ‘You still have the left.’” Winspear laughs. She now credits the frustration of one-handed typing with improving her mobility. “I did my physical-therapy exercises religiously! My doctor predicted I might have 75 percent recovery, but I had 85 percent within a year.” It only took two of those 12 months, however, to complete Maisie Dobbs (Soho Press, 2003), which went on to win the Macavity Award, the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and the Agatha Award for First Novel that year.

Even more unpredictable for Winspear was that she was writing fiction. Though she had spent years in academic publishing, she had recently been employed in marketing, in her spare time composing personal essays, articles on international education, and some travel pieces. Going on adventures with a made-up heroine had not been on her agenda.

But perhaps it was not quite as unexpected that her protagonist would inhabit the years following 1914 to 1918. Born and raised in England, Winspear, like many of her generation, was fascinated by what happened during and after that era, when millions of her countrymen had been killed or severely wounded. “I read a comment that the British are obsessed with World World I, which for us has more in common with the devastation during the American Civil War,” she explains. “When I was a kid, your parents might have been involved in World War II, but without exception, everyone’s grandparents had been affected by ‘The Great War.’ Just those words had tremendous impact. Everyone had known immense levels of grief.” To this day, on the date and time the armistice went into effect—November 11 at 11 o’clock—British life comes to a standstill, Winspear notes. “Buses pull over, service stops in the Safeway so that everyone can observe the two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day.”

During the Second World War, Winspear’s mother had been buried under the rubble of a bombed building in London and so, after her parents marriage in 1949, they chose to start their family in a “safe” place, away from the city. Though the rural county of Kent was not far from London, Winspear saw her grandparents only a few times a year. Still she witnessed the scars her own family carried from the First War. Her maternal grandmother was left partially blind by an explosion at the munitions plant where she worked and where others alongside her died. Her paternal grandfather had returned from the Battle of the Somme, fought in the French river valley in July 1916, shell-shocked and wounded. Until he died at age 77, he was still removing splinters of shrapnel from his legs that worked their way to the surface of his skin. “They didn’t really talk about it—the attitude was, ‘You just go on with it,’” Winspear says. But she did learn that, during her father’s boyhood, her grandfather occasionally would be taken by ambulance to a seaside convalescent home for a month at a time to ease the breathing from his gas-damaged lungs.

Nurses WWI VAD posterGrowing up, Winspear read WWI poets such as Wilfred Owen and in the country towns saw the markers listing the war dead, with long groups of names often from the same family. In some cases, all of the men from one place had been killed. Winspear found out that this was the result of a government recruitment scheme as the war raged on. “”It was great marketing,” she notes ruefully. “They realized no one would give their life for their country, but they would for their friends and family. They encouraged men to join as a village, as fellow factory workers or bootmakers. Five members of a family would often die on the same day. It was a shock to the community.” Winspear later made this theme the backbone of her second Maisie Dobbs novel, Birds of a Feather (Soho Press, 2004), another Agatha Award winner.

Winspear was always particularly interested in the lives of the women from that era. “More than 60,000 women were involved in war-related activities, and nearly 500,000 more stepped into the jobs men left behind for the battlefield,” she reports. “The post-war period heralded enormous social changes.” She notes that the 1921 British census showed two million “surplus” women—those who had lost sweethearts or other marriage prospects and thus had to make their own way in the world.

“Yet women thrived on that independence, and many women writers really emerged in that time,” Winspear says. She tells of listening to one recollection on an archival recording available at London’s Imperial War Museum. “The lady said, ‘Once they opened the stable door, we bolted and never went back.’ Until then their idea of life had been so narrow; and that one war made everything different. You had to support yourself.”

That’s where the story of the very independent and determined Maisie begins, more than a decade after the Armistice, as she is opening her new business, “M. Dobbs, Trade and Personal Investigations,” in Fitzroy Square. “The mystery genre offered an interesting way of exploring the time and its people,” the author says.

Maisie’s background, detailed in that first novel, mirrors much of the wartime upheaval. Like Winspear’s grandfather, Maisie’s father was a costermonger, selling fresh fruit and vegetables to London households from his horse-drawn cart. After his wife dies, Frankie Dobbs puts 13-year-old Maisie “into service” with the aristocratic Comptons. When her late-night visits to the family’s library brings her to the attention of Lady Rowan, a passionate suffragette, Maisie is put under the tutelage of Maurice Blanche who is often called upon by the European elite for private investigations. A Renaissance man of sorts, Blanche schools Maisie not just in the usual subjects but also in logic, psychology and Eastern philosophy. Sponsored by the Comptons, Maisie later wins a place at Girton College, Cambridge. When war breaks out, she interrupts her education to become a nurse at a casualty clearing station in France. After she herself is wounded and sent home to recover, she resumes her studies and becomes Blanche’s assistant, continuing her mentor’s work when he retires in 1929.

English nurses WWIMaisie’s use of psychology, yoga and mind-body techniques may seem ahead of her time, but Winspear points out that Freud and Jung had already published and “The British had a great deal of interest and fascination with India and the Raj.” Readers may even recognize mention of a fitness regimen that’s hot in health clubs today. “Los Angeles thinks it discovered Pilates,” laughs Winspear, “but [the German-born] Joseph Pilates taught these exercises while held at an internment camp in England during the war.” Pilates later became a nurse and developed apparatus and routines used to help rehabilitate veterans.

While the cases that come Maisie’s way seem the usual stuff of crime fiction—a wayward spouse, a runaway heiress, a young girl accused of murder—the underlying motivations and emotions show the aftershocks of war still reverberating in these character’s lives. She must deal with the disfigured and disabled, drug addiction, spiritualists who claim to be able to contact the dead, even those who lost their minds through the horrors they experienced. (Winspear is currently reading Forgotten Lunatics of the Great War, by Peter Barham.) In the latest novel, Maisie also returns to France for the first time, confronting her own suffering.

“Maisie is as shell-shocked as anyone,” explains Winspear. “She is most at home in her professional life; she thinks the way to get over her own heartache is to busy yourself in your work.”

The tentativeness of Maisie’s relationship with a young doctor in Pardonable Lies also shows how keenly aware she is of losing her new-found independence and the status gained from earning her own living. “She still has that lack of confidence from coming from the lower class,” notes Winspear. “She feels she must use the opportunities she’s been given. Yet the tools in her professional kit don’t help in her personal life.” Her creator calls Maisie “a dark horse—she keeps a lot to herself.” Winspear says she herself is more akin to Priscilla Evernden Partridge, Maisie’s former college roommate and close friend. “I’d be telling Maisie she had to get out more, get her nose out of that book!” she laughs.

winspear pardonable liesThough Winspear often returns to the UK for research and family visits, she has lived and worked in California since 1990, and feels that is an advantage. “I’m not distracted by England in the present and can detach, like an astronaut looking back at Earth. I can more readily immerse in that earlier time.”

Ironically, Winspear says she was in London on July 21 when the Warren Street station was the target of a terrorist group; luckily, the minor explosion did not cause the devastation of similar bombings a few weeks before. That’s a poignant reminder that perhaps the tragic lessons from what was once called “the war to end all wars” have yet to be learned.

In her next novel, Messenger of Truth, Winspear has Maisie investigating the death of a painter whose controversial depictions of war may have led to his murder. As Maisie delves into London’s galleries and an isolated artist’s colony on the windswept beaches of Dungeness, Winspear will again explore issues of class and culture, gender and gentility that were detonated by the Great War.

For this emerging crime writer, it isn’t the generals and battles that compel her to keep writing about a turbulent era. “I am drawn to what happens to ordinary people’s lives in extraordinary circumstances,” she says. “Their wounds remain embedded.” And in Maisie Dobbs, she’s given contemporary readers an extraordinary guide into the past.

THE MAISIE DOBBS NOVELS
by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs (2003)
Birds of a Feather (2004)
Pardonable Lies (2005)
Messenger of Truth (2006)
An Incomplete Revenge (2008)
Among the Mad (2009)
The Mapping of Love and Death (2010)
A Lesson in Secrets (2011)
Elegy for Eddie (2012)
Leaving Everything Most Loved (2013)

CHERYL SOLIMINI is a former features editor of Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine and a writer for other national publications. She is a consulting editor for Mystery Scene as well as a frequent contributor. Solimini’s debut mystery novel, Across the River, won Deadly Ink’s first Best Unpublished Mystery Award in 2007, and was published by Deadly Ink Press in June 2008.

Teri Duerr
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 10:07

winspear Maisie-Dobbs 10th annivAn interview with author of the bestselling Maisie Dobbs series. Soho Press has recently re-issued this classic novel with a new afterword by the author.

Echoes From a Great War
As Jacqueline Winspear tells it, Maisie Dobbs appeared unbidden, emerging from London’s Warren Street tube station one spring day in 1929. Winspear saw her stop to chat with a newspaper vendor before pulling out a set of keys and entering a somewhat rundown Georgian building on Fitzroy Square. The surprise: This sighting actually occurred in Spring 2000, as Winspear was stuck at a stoplight in bumper-to-bumper traffic on her way to her job in the San Francisco Bay area.
Teri Duerr
Thursday, 17 July 2014 04:07
Turbulent post-World War I England comes alive in the Maisie Dobbs novels.
How to Update Featured Articles

Introduction

  • The Home, Articles and Reviews menus make use of a specific Seblod content type called "Front Page" to display the introduction of 3 to 6 featured articles in a staggered 1-2-1-2 layout.
  • Three "Front Page" articles have been created and each of them allows to select the featured articles (3 or 6) via a drop down list.

Steps

  • To find these articles go to Joomla Administration User Interface and to Content > Article Manager. Use the search box and type "Front Page" . The three articles are named "Front Page Home" (ID: 4566) "Front Page Articles" (ID: 4562) and "Front Page Reviews" (ID:4561).
  • Edit each article and select in the drop down lists the articles you want to feature on their respective page. You can type the beginning of the title of an article to automatically scroll to that article.
  • Once you have selected 3 or 6 articles, save and check the results. If you want only 3 articles displayed just leave the articles 4 to 6 un-populated.

Troubleshooting

  • If you have no content or no picture displayed for a specific article, check that the "Introduction (teaser)" tab for that article is populated.
  • If the content is not formatted properly, check that there is NO formatting in the text of your article. The formatting is achieved via a template and there should be no formatting in the articles themselves or this could create conflict with the template. If you copy and paste content from other sources (pdf, email, word documents) it's good practice to paste it to notepad first to make sure only text is present and then copy from notepad to the article editor in Joomla.
  • If the text shown is too long, the article probably has no "Full Text" and all the content is in the "Introduction (teaser)". To fix this copy the content from the "Introduction (teaser)" tab to the "Full Text" tab and adjust (by removing) what you don't want to appear in the introduction.
  • If there is no text shown when clicking on the title of the article, there is no "Full Text" for that article. See previous steps to fix it.
Super User
Friday, 25 July 2014 07:07

This article describes how to update the featured articles shown on the top middle section of the Home, Articles and Reviews menus.

2014-07-28-15-32-28
Oline Cogdill
Monday, 28 July 2014 11:07
2014-07-28-15-33-43

 

Here’s news from across the pond.

Belinda Bauer won the £3,000 (about US$5,125) Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award for her book Rubbernecker.

Bauer was presented with the award, which is marking its 10th year, on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Rubbernecker is described as the story of Patrick Fort, a medical student with Asperger's Syndrome, who examines a body in anatomy class and is faced with trying to solve a possible murder.

Other authors shortlisted for the award included Denise Mina and Mark Billingham.

In addition, Lynda La Plante was named the fifth winner of the Theakstons Old Peculier Oustanding Contribution to Crime Fiction award, joining previous honorees Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.

British author La Plante is a screenwriter and former actress, best known for writing the Prime Suspect television crime series. Currently, she is working on a pre-quel to the Prime Suspect series.


But she also is a novelist with several series to her credit, including nine novels in her Anna Travis series. Anna is a young detective still learning to navigate crime detection and the politics of the police department. Wrongful Death is the latest novel in this series.

La Plante’s latest novel is Twisted, a stand alone about the investigation of a bright teenager who vanishes from a girls’ school

In 2008 La Plante was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity, and was presented with the esteemed TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel Above Suspicion, which is the first novel in her Anna Travis series, at the International Film and Television Festival Conference in Cologne.

Oline Cogdill
Monday, 28 July 2014 11:07
Old Peculier Award, Lynda La Plante

 

Here’s news from across the pond.

Belinda Bauer won the £3,000 (about US$5,125) Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award for her book Rubbernecker.

Bauer was presented with the award, which is marking its 10th year, on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Rubbernecker is described as the story of Patrick Fort, a medical student with Asperger's Syndrome, who examines a body in anatomy class and is faced with trying to solve a possible murder.

Other authors shortlisted for the award included Denise Mina and Mark Billingham.

In addition, Lynda La Plante was named the fifth winner of the Theakstons Old Peculier Oustanding Contribution to Crime Fiction award, joining previous honorees Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.

British author La Plante is a screenwriter and former actress, best known for writing the Prime Suspect television crime series. Currently, she is working on a pre-quel to the Prime Suspect series.


But she also is a novelist with several series to her credit, including nine novels in her Anna Travis series. Anna is a young detective still learning to navigate crime detection and the politics of the police department. Wrongful Death is the latest novel in this series.

La Plante’s latest novel is Twisted, a stand alone about the investigation of a bright teenager who vanishes from a girls’ school

In 2008 La Plante was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity, and was presented with the esteemed TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel Above Suspicion, which is the first novel in her Anna Travis series, at the International Film and Television Festival Conference in Cologne.

Oline Cogdill
Monday, 28 July 2014 11:07
Old Peculier Award, Lynda La Plante

laplante lynda
Here’s news from across the pond.

Belinda Bauer won the £3,000 (about US$5,125) Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award for her book Rubbernecker.

Bauer was presented with the award, which is marking its 10th year, on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Rubbernecker is described as the story of Patrick Fort, a medical student with Asperger's Syndrome, who examines a body in anatomy class and is faced with trying to solve a possible murder.

Other authors shortlisted for the award included Denise Mina and Peter May.

In addition, Lynda La Plante, at left, was named the fifth winner of the Theakstons Old Peculier Oustanding Contribution to Crime Fiction award, joining previous honorees Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.

British author La Plante is a screenwriter and former actress, best known for writing the Prime Suspect television crime series. Currently, she is working on a pre-quel to the Prime Suspect series.


But she also is a novelist with several series to her credit, including nine novels in her Anna Travis series. Anna is a young detective still learning to navigate crime detection and the politics of the police department. Wrongful Death is the latest novel in this series.

La Plante’s latest novel is Twisted, a stand alone about the investigation of a bright teenager who vanishes from a girls’ school

In 2008 La Plante was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity, and was presented with the esteemed TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel Above Suspicion, which is the first novel in her Anna Travis series, at the International Film and Television Festival Conference in Cologne.

Oline Cogdill
Monday, 28 July 2014 01:07

laplante lynda
Here’s news from across the pond.

Belinda Bauer won the £3,000 (about US$5,125) Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award for her book Rubbernecker.

Bauer was presented with the award, which is marking its 10th year, on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Rubbernecker is described as the story of Patrick Fort, a medical student with Asperger's Syndrome, who examines a body in anatomy class and is faced with trying to solve a possible murder.

Other authors shortlisted for the award included Denise Mina and Peter May.

In addition, Lynda La Plante, at left, was named the fifth winner of the Theakstons Old Peculier Oustanding Contribution to Crime Fiction award, joining previous honorees Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.

British author La Plante is a screenwriter and former actress, best known for writing the Prime Suspect television crime series. Currently, she is working on a pre-quel to the Prime Suspect series.


But she also is a novelist with several series to her credit, including nine novels in her Anna Travis series. Anna is a young detective still learning to navigate crime detection and the politics of the police department. Wrongful Death is the latest novel in this series.

La Plante’s latest novel is Twisted, a stand alone about the investigation of a bright teenager who vanishes from a girls’ school

In 2008 La Plante was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity, and was presented with the esteemed TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel Above Suspicion, which is the first novel in her Anna Travis series, at the International Film and Television Festival Conference in Cologne.

James Patterson's Next 'Ride'


patterson james
Mega-bestseller James Patterson, left, may have his next work appear on internet video.

Patterson has signed a deal with the media company Collective Digital Studio to turn his best-selling young adult fantasy series “Maximum Ride” into an online series for YouTube, according to the New York Times. Collective Digital Studio, a production company and multichannel network with nearly 700 YouTube channels, is planning an initial batch of six to 10 episodes that will run at 10 to 15 minutes each, according to the Times.

In a statement, Patterson said that a Web series appealed to him because many of his young readers are already engaged online with the “Maximum Ride” books. Fans have posted thousands of amateur videos enacting scenes from the books on YouTube.

The eight books in the Maximum Ride series features six children who can fly after being genetically modified with bird DNA. The next book in the series is scheduled for January 2015.

The online episodes of Maximum Ride are scheduled to start airing during the spring of 2015. YouTube personalities may be case in major roles, according to Gary Binkow, chief content officer for Collective Digital Studio.

ON CBS
But that’s not all the multi-media news from Patterson’s camp. CBS Television Studios has signed a “multi-year, first-look” with James Patterson Entertainment. That means that the studio will be able to tap into Patterson’s vast array of bestselling novels for future projects.

So will we be seeing Patterson novels made into TV films or series?

Maybe.

But knowing how slow these things can move, who knows when that could be.

Oline Cogdill
Monday, 28 July 2014 03:07


patterson james
Mega-bestseller James Patterson, left, may have his next work appear on internet video.

Patterson has signed a deal with the media company Collective Digital Studio to turn his best-selling young adult fantasy series “Maximum Ride” into an online series for YouTube, according to the New York Times. Collective Digital Studio, a production company and multichannel network with nearly 700 YouTube channels, is planning an initial batch of six to 10 episodes that will run at 10 to 15 minutes each, according to the Times.

In a statement, Patterson said that a Web series appealed to him because many of his young readers are already engaged online with the “Maximum Ride” books. Fans have posted thousands of amateur videos enacting scenes from the books on YouTube.

The eight books in the Maximum Ride series features six children who can fly after being genetically modified with bird DNA. The next book in the series is scheduled for January 2015.

The online episodes of Maximum Ride are scheduled to start airing during the spring of 2015. YouTube personalities may be case in major roles, according to Gary Binkow, chief content officer for Collective Digital Studio.

ON CBS
But that’s not all the multi-media news from Patterson’s camp. CBS Television Studios has signed a “multi-year, first-look” with James Patterson Entertainment. That means that the studio will be able to tap into Patterson’s vast array of bestselling novels for future projects.

So will we be seeing Patterson novels made into TV films or series?

Maybe.

But knowing how slow these things can move, who knows when that could be.

Silent Partners: Literary Life From the Other Side of the Breakfast Table
Twist Phelan

Cannells DorothyJulianDorothy and Julian Cannell. Photo credit: Trevor Cannell.

What is it like to be married to a writer? Late hours, messy offices, and unusual eating habits is the consensus, according to the spouses of award-winning mystery writers Margaret Maron, Dorothy Cannell, Harlan Coben, and Jan Burke.

What do writers eat? What do they wear? What do they like to do on their days off? Read on for the answers, presented in roundtable format, to these and other questions about life with TA (The Author). But first, an introduction to the spouses:

JOE MARON was a Navy officer and Margaret was a summer secretary when they met in the Pentagon. He later earned an MFA and taught studio art at the college level. He and Margaret now live in North Carolina on land that has been in her family for a hundred years. They have one son and two granddaughters.

JULIAN CANNELL is a retired small-town lawyer. He met Dorothy when they were next-door neighbors. They weren’t sure they liked each other until they discovered Anna Karenina was their mutual favorite book. They have been married for over 40 years.

ANNE ARMSTRONG-COBEN, MD, and Harlan have been together since 1982. They met at Amherst College where they both played basketball and were fraternity brothers (Amherst had coed fraternities). They married in 1988 and have four children—two girls and two boys, ages 11, 8, 6, and 4.

TIM BURKE is a musician and co-owner of a private tutoring company. He and Jan live in Southern California with their two dogs, Cappy and Britches.

What was your welcome-to-the-world-of-writing moment?

JOE: I stayed in the Navy for a second hitch after Margaret and I were married, wangling shore duty in Naples, Italy. We had an apartment with a broad terrace overlooking the bay where we used to sit and talk about our future. That’s where we decided we would do all we could to live our lives as creatively as our talents would allow. I suppose my welcome-to-her-world moment was that first sale—a short story to the Alfred Hitchcock magazine. That’s what validates you: somebody you don’t know gives you money for something you made up out of your head. That $65 triggered a lifelong celebration.
JULIAN: When Dorothy sold her first short story, two years before selling her book. Up to that point, I thought writing might be just another hobby, like her macramé (string took over our house) and defensive gardening (only the cacti survived).
ANNIE: There wasn’t really one. I’ve now been with Harlan for 23 years so it was a gradual welcome.
TIM: When Jan first began writing, we discussed whether she should use a pseudonym. I was concerned about protecting her privacy, but Jan decided to write under her real name. About two or three years after the first book came out, she received a fan letter from an inmate at Pelican Bay prison. Although the letter started out polite enough, by the third sentence he was asking for nude photos. We did some research, and found out that he was a serial rapist—who was out on parole! Fortunately (for us, at least) he beat up his roommate within three days of his release and was sent back inside.

What is peculiar or unusual about TA’s work space?

JOE: All Margaret’s books have been written in our house here in North Carolina, the first few on her portable typewriter from college days in a spare room about the size of a walk-in closet. She now has a very comfortable workspace with all the appropriate furnishings. But she’s still very hands-on, and will always try to make it herself instead of buying it new. She cobbled up one of those old teachers’ desks from a thrift store and reconfigured it to perfectly house her computer.
JULIAN: Dorothy’s first “office” was a corner of our cellar, next to the cats’ litter box. She had a $50 manual typewriter, a ream of paper, and a $2.95 lamp on a “desk” that was really a sheet of plywood balanced on two sawhorses. There were no windows. She had a real office for a while, but now she’s back in the cellar while her new office space is under construction. The space has windows, but she doesn’t like them. And she’s moved up from a typewriter to a word processor.
ANNIE: It’s an absolute mess most of the time. Towards the end of finishing a book Harlan refuses to clean it until he’s done and then there is a major, welcome cleanup.
TIM: Jan’s work area is always boiling with activity. It looks like a mad scientist’s lab, with at least five different research projects spread about. The OED is in a place of honor and gets heavy use. Nearby are five Thunderbird action figures (from the TV show), including the evil “Hood” whose eyes light up when he speaks. These were gifts from her niece. There are also several old clocks (she collects them). Oh yeah, and a wind-up “Nunzilla” that walks and breathes fire.

Cobens HarlanAnnieAnne Armstrong-Coben and Harlan Coben

Does TA have any rituals or superstitions that s/he follows when getting ready to write?

JOE: Margaret catches up on all her correspondence and cleans off all the surfaces in her office.
JULIAN: First Dorothy decides on the setting. She will think about it, talk about it with her friends, refine it. Once she has the characters in the setting in mind, she is ready to go. (She doesn’t need to know who the victim or the villain is when she starts. Her characters drive the story.) She also eavesdrops a lot in restaurants.
TIM: I can always tell when Jan is getting ready to write because she undertakes strange cleaning projects.

What things does TA do when writing s/he doesn’t do at other times?

JOE: Solitaire. Whenever Margaret gets stuck, she’ll lay out a hand of solitaire—and she keeps score. There’s a tiny tablet on her desk that has her cumulative score from several books back.
JULIAN: Chews pencils. Doesn’t call her friends. Dorothy is writing all the time—she can disappear into the cellar for six or eight weeks at a time.
TIM: Jan becomes a night owl, writing during the vampire hours. When I get up in the morning, she’s ready to go to bed. She usually picks a certain CD and listens to it exclusively while she’s working on a book. It can be a certain band, an opera, or a classical composer.

Are there any “rules of the house” when TA is in writing mode?

JOE: Not rules exactly, but Margaret does tend to go missing in action. Doesn’t care if there are formal meals, doesn’t want guests, doesn’t want to have to make any decisions of any kind. I’m at one end of a long house and she’s at the other. I probably annoy her periodically with inconsequential stuff but we’re pretty much in tune.
JULIAN: Dorothy must have absolute quiet. Although she generally does not want to be disturbed, occasionally she will appear, read a section, and ask if it’s good. The answer is always “yes.” Finished pages are saved on the table discarded pages are dropped onto the floor. The floor cannot be cleaned until the book is done, in case she decides to use something from a discarded page.
ANNIE: Harlan will lock himself away and the kids know not to bother him. Sometimes they take it to an extreme and will phone me at work with a simple question they could have asked him when he’s sitting right in the next room.
TIM: Don’t talk to the writer. Unfortunately, our dogs (especially Cappy) don’t understand this, so it becomes my job to give them more attention. And our social life (going out to dinner, seeing friends) is substantially cut back.

How does TA change when a deadline is approaching?

JOE: Margaret has always been a night person. In all our years together, I’d be surprised if she’s gotten up for a hundred sunrises. She does most of her writing late in the day and into the night. There have been plenty of all-nighters, so I guess she actually has seen a lot of sunrises, now that I think about it. She’s a crisis writer who hones in under deadline pressure—usually doesn’t miss them or, if so, not by much.
JULIAN: Sometimes Dorothy writes the last 100 pages in three or four days; stopping only for the occasional half-hour or hour nap, she goes around the clock, mainlining Red Bull. (She can go through 36 cans in a week.) She loses all track of time, and is simply writing like crazy to get it all down. She spends time polishing and revising at the beginning of a book, but the last 100 pages is always in finished form in her head.
ANNIE: Harlan tends to get much more focused and less able to write with the background noise of the family. He’s usually quite easygoing and not too serious but we get to see his serious side at that time.
TIM: Jan becomes an introverted hermit. During this period, if she is the driver and I am the passenger, I often find myself asking her, “Where are you going?” because she has just sailed past the turn we were supposed to make. She has been revising chapter eleventeen and has missed the turn.

Burkes JanandTimJan and Tim Burke

What’s TA’s favorite food when writing?

JOE: I’m convinced Margaret would live on sandwiches, nuts, and raw carrots if I didn’t cook occasionally.
JULIAN: Dorothy likes to nibble on raw pieces of spaghetti. It’s a substitute for her pencils.
ANNIE: Harlan used to call me an addict because of my love/need for coffee. He didn’t drink it until he became a writer. He now shares my addiction and does quite a bit of writing at the local coffee shop.
TIM: It used to be Dr. Pepper, then for a while red licorice and tropical-flavored Jelly Bellies. Now it’s pretty much cut-up fresh fruit.

Does TA have favorite “writing clothes”?

JOE: Slouchy sweatshirts and sneakers in the winter; T-shirts, shorts, and bare feet in the summer.
JULIAN: Dorothy’s favorite writing garment finally disintegrated in the wash. It was a long cotton flannel T-shirt with a teddy bear in the front. Now she wears long-sleeved pullovers. When she’s on deadline, I sometimes leave clothes and food at the top of the cellar stairs for her.
ANNIE: No, as long as they’re clean and comfortable. Oh, and Harlan prefers fitted boxers to briefs.
TIM: Clothing can be optional, especially when Jan gets up to write in the middle of the night.

What does TA do on breaks from writing? What is TA’s favorite off-day activity?

JOE: The usual: reading, promotional activities, lunching with friends, us just hanging out together. Margaret used to look for arrowheads when the fields were still being regularly plowed. Now she goes out with a hoe and chops sandspurs. Don’t ask.
JULIAN: Dorothy likes to walk in the woods near our house (she’s a power-walker), and to work out at the Y. She listens to Plácido Domingo and, of course, enjoys her grandchildren. She still gardens—it’s hard to kill mint.
ANNIE: After dismissing the game of golf for years, Harlan has now got the bug. This has been his most recent “break” from work. Harlan also has many other forced but welcome breaks throughout the day keeping up with our kids and their activities. He’s been enjoying watching our oldest playing basketball and lacrosse, and now our two boys have a passion for baseball. Harlan is a great waffle ball pitcher.
TIM: We have “reading parties,” where one of us reads a book to the other. On breaks, we will catch up with family, friends, and movies. Once we spent most of a weekend watching the first two seasons of The Sopranos back-to-back. We’ll also take the dogs to the beach or on long walks.

What does TA do when s/he has finished a book?

JOE: When Margaret’s done there’s the inevitable race to Kinko’s for, let’s see, about six copies: One for the agent, one for the editor, one for a local farmer’s wife (who reads for neighborhood/local color), and three for Wilmington. All the Deborah Knott books go straight to three district court judges down there who check for legal gaffes. Being neither a judge nor lawyer, Margaret has found the ideal solution. Once the manuscript is accepted by the editor she heads down to Wilmington for her “trial.” I usually go along and we take the judges to dinner. After a great meal, out come the manuscript. “I had something on page 24,” is usually the way it starts. Often enough something serious will be troublesome—like the time she wrote that “the statute of limitations ran on that a long time ago,” and was told that no, in North Carolina, there is no statute of limitations on any felony. She had built the whole back end of Home Fires on that premise and she started to panic. But out came the laptops as the judges searched the statutes for loopholes and damned if they didn’t find something called a “naked confession,” which saved the day.
JULIAN: Dorothy crashes and sleeps for a few days. One time I came down to the kitchen at 6:30 in the morning. She was sitting at the table in her nightgown with a snifter of brandy. When I asked her if it wasn’t a little early to start drinking, she told me it wasn’t morning for someone who started work at 9 p.m. and stopped at 4 a.m. She then announced that the latest book was done and asked me to send it off. When I asked her if she wanted to proofread it, she said she never wanted to see the thing again.
ANNIE: Harlan cleans his office.
TIM: Because Jan’s usually exhausted (and ready to dive into the next project), I think I do more celebrating than she does. Sometimes we’ll go out to a restaurant.

Maron Margaret  JoeMargaret and Joe Maron

What’s the worst thing about living with a writer that the public doesn’t know about?

JOE: Finding the best way to help without getting in the way. Margaret does not send her work around for peer review. I am her only sounding board, and she trusts me to tell her what I think. This caused a lot of battles in the past when she’d hand me a chapter to read—only to read—and I (in typical teacher fashion) would blue pencil the hell out of it. Big mistake. We blessedly gave up on that long ago. She now reads each chapter to me as she finishes it and I’m much less likely to jump in. She’s a good reader of her own work. Then we discuss. I must confess that I don’t read much fiction and I’m not especially interested in whodunit. What does interest me is pacing, tone, contrast, flow, that kind of thing. I think of her work as a piece of music.
JULIAN: You have to be prepared to spend time alone. It’s not a problem for me, because I love to read, but it could be frustrating for others.
ANNIE: They’re really working all the time. With Harlan his head is always churning and he’s always got a pen and pad at his side—even in the middle of the night he’ll awaken to write down his most recent “brilliant” thought.
TIM: When the copyedited manuscript comes back, I try to be out of town for at least 24 hours. Jan is either infuriated at the red-lining or feels dumb at missing things. And even though Jan loves it, I don’t like the traveling. I’m not a chatty person when it comes to the phone. I prefer that we talk face to face, rather than by phone—tough to do when she’s on the road!

What’s the best thing?

JOE: Living with a writer is never dull. They really do look at things differently. And mystery writers are always willing to speculate on alternative realities. And all that business about “living on our wits” that we laid out back in Naples? That’s come largely if not spectacularly true. The dog flies are pretty bad in the summer here and it does stay hot an awful long time, but eighteen acres of swaying pines, gardenias, tomatoes, lettuce all winter…. For a kid from Brooklyn, it’s like having your own country.
JULIAN: Writers are marvelous conversationalists and entertainers.
ANNIE: For us, it’s been his availability to the family. Except when on book tour, Harlan is ever present. He’s there to drive the kids to school and activities or just pick them up for a midday lunch. The problem is that when he’s gone, they all decompensate because they miss him so much. I am a pediatrician and am not sure I’d be able to work part-time as I do if his schedule weren’t so flexible.
TIM: It’s a thrill to be involved in the process early on. I get to see the gems that don’t make the cut, and to be a listener when she needs to bounce ideas off someone.

Anything you’d like to say to TA’s fans/readers?

JOE: I think readers might be surprised how much Margaret values them and how much she appreciates the letters and positive comments. It can be a solitary occupation and she likes hearing that someone out there gets it—gets the literary allusions, the sly offhand remarks, the ironies.
JULIAN: In every book, there is a piece of the writer. If you read several books by the same author and/or spend time with her, you will see it. Part of the writer is in her protagonist, part of the personality of the creator is in the character she has created.
ANNIE: Just that he really and truly appreciates them. He never takes that fan base for granted.
TIM: Thank you for your support! But if you mean advice, well …
If you find a small typo or what you think is a mistake in a book, let it go. You’d be amazed at how many lunatics crawl out of their caves because they feel compelled to send Jan a three-page missive to the effect that “you said the sun rose at 5:46, but it never rises any earlier than 5:47 every other leap year in April.”...
Jan loves to hear from readers on how a book meant something to them. She also enjoys the relationships she has developed over the years with fans and booksellers.

If you could change one thing about the publishing world, you would …

JOE: Put all Margaret’s Sigrid Harald books back into print and encourage her to write new ones. I would also, of course, divert the company’s whole publicity budget to her!

If TA weren’t a writer, s/he would be a great …

JOE: Judge—what else?
JULIAN: Comedian, actor (I’m always telling her she should read her own books for audio ), interior designer, craftsperson.
ANNIE: Stand-up comic. I think I fell in love with Harlan for his sense of humor.
TIM: Filmmaker, dog trainer, therapist, song writer.

If there is an Edgar in your house, where does it live? Does TA ever talk to it?

JOE: It lives on a shelf in her office and Margaret doesn’t talk to it, but she does smile at it occasionally.
ANNIE: In a wooden display box with a glass front in our living room. I actually broke the first one cleaning one day. That led to the new protective home. I don’t think Harlan ever talks to it but I’m not sure.
TIM: It lives in Jan’s office on a bookshelf. She never talks to it. However, I have noticed it always has something snide to say to me whenever I pass by. It’s starting to make me paranoid, but I bet many of you already accuse me behind my back of paranoia.

Any words of advice for other writer’s spouses?

JOE: Enjoy the ride and don’t take it too seriously.
JULIAN: Be prepared to spend time alone. Also be prepared to encounter two types of people—those who will be in awe of your spouse, and will invite her to cocktail parties so they can pass her around with the cashews, and those who will like her for who she is, and never talk about her craft.
ANNIE: Just to be supportive and believe in them. When asked to read drafts, give honest feedback but try to always be positive. Harlan’s the first to admit, writers tend to be insecure about their writing and the spouse’s job is to tell them they’re great!
TIM: Never admit you think the copy editor has a point unless you have previously checked out all possible points of egress from the building. Don’t take it personally when a writer asks to be left alone to work; even though it looks as though she is at home, she’s really at the office. You owe it to the writer to be honest—if you think something is bad, you have to say so. You may want to put on hockey gear before you do this.

Twist Phelan is the author of the Pinnacle Peak series, legal-themed mysteries set in Arizona featuring different sports, published by Poisoned Pen Press.

This article first appeared in Mystery Scene Fall Issue #91.

Teri Duerr
Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:07

What is it like to be married to a writer? Late hours, messy offices, and unusual eating habits...

Sandra Brown on the Pleasures of Mixing It Up
Sandra Brown

brown sandra Andrew Eccles 2014

 

 

 

It’s never chocolate or vanilla for me. More like a “swirl.”

 

Photo credit: Andrew Eccles

 

“Other than yourself, what authors do you read?”

“Who’s your favorite writer?”

“What genre do you read and what’s your favorite book of all time?”

These are frequently asked questions, but they’re virtually impossible to answer because...I like a mix.

Rarely do I even scan through one of my books after it’s published. To do so would be hazardous to my health. I couldn’t take the pressure of what I’d find. If I love it, I’m an insufferable egotist. If I hate it.... Never mind. I don’t allow myself to go there.

So, who do I read? Just about everyone except myself. I read fiction and nonfiction, adventures, thrillers, mysteries, romances, sci-fi, fantasy, Westerns. I read historical and contemporary. I read the back of a cracker box if I don’t have anything else.

I simply love to read.

My parents are responsible for this insatiable habit. Daddy was an editorial writer for a newspaper. As a sideline to earn a little extra cash, he wrote book reviews. Every so often, he would lug home a box of books sent to him by publishers hoping to entice a review.

Those boxes were treasure troves! In them I discovered books and authors who remain favorites. Some I discarded because they were boring or “good for me,” which is redundant. But I devoured the novels, little caring if the story was set during the Crusades or the Cold War.

My mother was a habitual reader, too, and read aloud to my sisters and me before we could read ourselves. An unabashed romantic, she favored stories of high adventure and melodrama. My imagination was cultivated and fertilized by the animation in her voice as she described the hero’s funny sidekick, the hushed wonder in her tone when a secret cave was being explored, her sigh when the prince finally won a kiss from the princess.

I was just a kid seeking entertainment. I didn’t realize then what an invaluable gift my parents were bestowing on me—this love of words, stories, and books —which would become my lifework.

I can’t nail down a favorite author, because too many have their unique appeal. Nor could dozens of favorite books be narrowed down to one. While I still seek to be entertained, occasionally I’ll read one of those books that’s “good for me.”

What I read isn’t as important as that I do.

Sandra Brown is the author of 63 New York Times bestsellers, including Deadline (2013), Low Pressure (2012), Lethal (2011), Tough Customer (2010), and Smash Cut (2009). Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over 70 novels, and her work has been translated into 34 languages worldwide.

This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" eNews August 2014 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.

Teri Duerr
Thursday, 31 July 2014 03:07

brown sandra"It’s never chocolate or vanilla for me. More like a 'swirl.'"

The End of Poirot?

poirot davidsuchet1
Is this end of Agatha Christie’s long-standing detective Hercule Poirot, as we know him?

Unlikely, I say.

Although British actor David Suchet is making his last appearances as the dapper Belgian detective, Poirot, like Christie’s work, will never go out of style.

But for now, we must say farewell to Suchet in the final five 90-minute episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot.


Suchet’s final turn as the TV Poirot began with The Big Four on July 27 and with Dead Man’s Folly on Augl 3. Those episodes air on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! series. The series begins at 9 p.m.; check your local listings for changes, and for viewings On Demand. Those episodes also are available at www.Acorn.TV, Acorn TV for iPhone and iPad on the App store, on Roku and other platforms.


The Big Four also is a bit of a reunion as it brings back several Poirot’s supporting characters. Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) and Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran) were last together more than a decade ago, in Season 8.

The final three episodes will air exclusively on AcornTV. Those episodes, which are available on Mondays, are Elephants Can Remember (Aug. 11); Labours of Hercules (Aug. 18); and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case on Aug. 25. If you are a Christie fan, then you already have a good idea of what happens during that finale.

In addition to those five new episodes, the 65 previous ones then will be available on the British TV streaming service AcornTV, part of RLJ Entertainment Inc. (These episodes aired in Britain in 2013.)

Suchet has been playing the sleuth for the past 25 years and it is hard to imagine anyone else bringing such life and intelligence to the fussy Belgian, whose appearance is as impeccable as his detection skills. Suchet has given Poirot’s “little grey cells” the upmost respect and care through the years.

And he has had such good material to work with.

Mystery fiction—or crime fiction if you prefer—has radically changed since Christie began writing back in the 1920s. But her work has endured because she is one tough plotter. Her novels were as much about social issues of the time, as today’s novels are. She explored the privileged wealthy, the imperfect justice system, and even the effects of war.

poirot finalfour
Poirot first appeared in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920, and left her novels in Curtain, published in 1975. Poirot was the only fictional character to receive an obituary on the front page of The New York Times.

Christie’s novels showed Poirot through the whole of his life in England. In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, he is a refugee staying at Styles; in Curtain, he makes a final visit to Styles.

The novels gave scant clues to Poirot’s childhood. Apparently, he comes from a large family that had a little money. We do know that Christie wrote that Poirot was a Roman Catholic. His religion gave him a strong sense of morality and justice, which are not necessarily the same thing.

It was the 1926 novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd that really put Poirot on the map with readers. The surprising solution to Roger was controversial at the time. Roger is still one of Christie’s most famous novels, having launched myriad parodies as well as proving a springboard for other similar plots. Edmund Wilson used the title for his screed against detective fiction, Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?

But Poirot’s most famous case was Murder on the Orient Express (1934). I never tire of that novel and the 1974 movie with its all-star cast is always a pleasure.

Poirot appeared in 33 novels, one play (Black Coffee), and more than 50 short stories. On screen, he has been portrayed by John Moffatt, Albert Finney, Sir Peter Ustinov, Sir Ian Holm, Tony Randall, Alfred Molina, and, of course, Suchet.

While Poirot has never gone out of fashion, he was often criticized by an unlikely source: Agatha Christie. Through the years, Christie often was quoted as saying she had grown weary of Poirot. In 1930, she was quoted as calling him “insufferable.” In 1960, she was quoted as calling him a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep.”

And that description is never in Suchet’s wheelhouse. Suchet portrayed him as many things—precise, fussy, astute, a bit too know it all. But never a creep, though he could be insufferable to murderers.

No doubt other Poirots will come after Suchet, as did those before him.

But Suchet’s performances as the detective will continue to live on as the actor begins other acting adventures.

Captions: Top, David Suchet as Poirot; Center, From left, Pauline Moran (Miss Lemon), Philip Jackson (Japp), David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) and Hugh Fraser (Hastings) in The Big Four. Photos courtesy Acorn TV

Oline Cogdill
Sunday, 03 August 2014 02:08
Sherlock Holmes Exhibit


sherlockholmes exhibit1
It’s doubtful that Arthur Conan Doyle could have conceived the impact his stories about Sherlock Holmes would have on the literary canon.

After all, he was a young doctor who just started to write stories and his first novels while waiting for patients to show up at his practice in Southsea, a seaside resort located in Portsmouth in England’s county of Hampshire.

Doyle was just 26 years old, a new physician and this practice was not doing well. Patients may not have flocked to him, but in 1886, he began an enterprise that would live forever, creating one of the influential characters of all time.

Sherlock Holmes’ adventures continue to thrive in his own stories, that are still popular, and his deduction skills have inspired countless writers and screenwriters. The Mentalist, Monk, Psyche are just a few TV series that have their foundations in Sherlock Holmes.

Our fascination with Sherlock Holmes never ends.

And Holmes is now the subject of an exhibit that will be making the rounds of several American museums and sherlockholmes exhibit2
science centers.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes allows visitors to step into Conan Doyle’s Victorian London and work side-by-side with his legendary detective.

Visitors become Holmes in tackling new cases. The exhibit also includes original manuscripts, publications, period artifacts, film and television props and costumes. Visitors can learn who to investigative tools and techniques and engage in interactive crime-solving cases.

The exhibit mixes both fun and real science, a friend who went told me.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes can be seen through Sept. 1 at the Center of Science and Industry, often called COSI, in Columbus, Ohio.

Here are the opening dates of the other places the exhibit has been scheduled to visit. Others may be added at a later date.
Oct. 9, 2014: St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis, Mo.

Feb. 12, 2015: Perot Museum of Nature & Science, Dallas, Texas.

June 11, 2015: Discovery Science Center, Santa Ana, Calif.

Oct. 15, 2015: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, Colo.

Oct. 13, 2016: Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Wash.


Photos courtesy The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes; photos by Robb McCormick

Oline Cogdill
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 10:08


sherlockholmes exhibit1
It’s doubtful that Arthur Conan Doyle could have conceived the impact his stories about Sherlock Holmes would have on the literary canon.

After all, he was a young doctor who just started to write stories and his first novels while waiting for patients to show up at his practice in Southsea, a seaside resort located in Portsmouth in England’s county of Hampshire.

Doyle was just 26 years old, a new physician and this practice was not doing well. Patients may not have flocked to him, but in 1886, he began an enterprise that would live forever, creating one of the influential characters of all time.

Sherlock Holmes’ adventures continue to thrive in his own stories, that are still popular, and his deduction skills have inspired countless writers and screenwriters. The Mentalist, Monk, Psyche are just a few TV series that have their foundations in Sherlock Holmes.

Our fascination with Sherlock Holmes never ends.

And Holmes is now the subject of an exhibit that will be making the rounds of several American museums and sherlockholmes exhibit2
science centers.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes allows visitors to step into Conan Doyle’s Victorian London and work side-by-side with his legendary detective.

Visitors become Holmes in tackling new cases. The exhibit also includes original manuscripts, publications, period artifacts, film and television props and costumes. Visitors can learn who to investigative tools and techniques and engage in interactive crime-solving cases.

The exhibit mixes both fun and real science, a friend who went told me.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes can be seen through Sept. 1 at the Center of Science and Industry, often called COSI, in Columbus, Ohio.

Here are the opening dates of the other places the exhibit has been scheduled to visit. Others may be added at a later date.
Oct. 9, 2014: St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis, Mo.

Feb. 12, 2015: Perot Museum of Nature & Science, Dallas, Texas.

June 11, 2015: Discovery Science Center, Santa Ana, Calif.

Oct. 15, 2015: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, Colo.

Oct. 13, 2016: Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Wash.


Photos courtesy The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes; photos by Robb McCormick

Peaches for You, Peaches for Me

peach

 

The only thing more delectable than a good summer mystery read may just be a delicious summer peach.

 

 

 

To celebrate the season, Mystery Scene asked some of our favorite culinary mystery authors to share some of their favorite peach recipes. Take it from Joanne Fluke , Daryl Wood Gerber (Avery Aames), Livia J. Washburn, and Cleo Coyle. Murder has never been so sweet...

 


fluke joanne CR Kimberly ButlerMINNESOTA PEACH COBBLER

by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swenson mysteries)

INGREDIENTS
***Do NOT thaw peaches***

Filling

  • 10 cups frozen sliced peaches (2.5 pounds, sliced)
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice (2 tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted butter


Crust

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick softened butter (1/4 cup)
  • 2 beaten eggs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 13 by 9 inch cake pan with Pam.

Measure peaches and put them in a large mixing bowl. Let them sit on the counter and thaw for 10 minutes.  Then sprinkle with lemon juice and toss.

In another smaller bowl combine white sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon.  Mix them together with a fork until they're evenly combined.

Pour dry mixture over the peaches and toss them (your hands are best).  Once most of the dry mixture is clinging to the peaches, dump them into the cake pan you've prepared.  Sprinkle any dry mixture left in the bowl on the top of the peaches in the pan.

Melt the butter. Drizzle it over the peaches.  Then cover the cake pan tightly with foil.

Bake the peach mixture at 350 for 40 minutes.  Take it out of the oven and set it on a heat-proof surface, but DO NOT turn off the oven.

Now for the crust.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a smaller bowl you used earlier.  Cut in the softened butter with a couple of forks until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal.  Add the beaten eggs and mix them in with a fork.  For those of you who remember your school library with fondness, the result will resemble library paste but it'll smell a whole lot better).  You can also do this with food processor with chilled butter.

Remove the foil cover from the peaches and drop on spoonfuls of the topping.  Because the topping is thick, you'll have to do this in little dibs and dabs scraped from the spoon with another spoon, a rubber spatula, or with your clean finger.  Dab on the topping until the whole pan is polka dotted.  (Will spread out when baking).

Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for an additional 50 minutes.

fluke peachcobblermurderJOANNE FLUKE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries, which include Apple Turnover Murder, Cinnamon Roll Murder, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, and, of course, Peach Cobbler Murder. She’s baked over 500,000 chocolate chip cookies for fans since the series debuted 14 years ago, not to mention countless pies, cakes, muffins and other sweets. Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, where a traffic jam was defined as two cars stuck behind a tractor. She managed to shovel her way out of the snow and now lives in California. Visit Joanne at www.JoanneFluke.com.

 

 


gerber darylwood

PEACH BASIL PROSCIUTTO

by Daryl Wood Gerber (Cookbook NOOK Mystery series)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 peaches sliced in eighths
  • 1 pound prosciutto, cut into thin one-inch slices
  • 12-16 large leaves of basil, rinsed, stem removed

DIRECTIONS

Slice the peaches
Slice the prosciutto
Prepare the basil

Lay one slice of peach in each basil leaf. Using a piece of prosciutto, wrap at the center around the peach/basil combo, twisting or pressing at the end so the prosciutto holds together.

NOTES

gerber nookcookbookseriesIn the Perfect Peach recipe, the skin of the peach is cut off. I prefer the skin on for texture. You can do either. Also, my husband liked the peach with the prosciutto by itself, no basil. I happen to adore basil and loved the combination. Eat to your heart’s content!

DARYL WOOD GERBER is the author of A Cookbook Nook Mystery series, featuring an avid reader, admitted foodie, and owner of a cookbook store in picturesque coastal California. The series debuted in 2013. In addition, under the pen name Avery Aames, Daryl writes the Agatha Award winning, nationally bestselling A Cheese Shop Mystery series. Visit Daryl at www.darylwoodgerber.com.

 

avery peachesandprosciutto


washburn liviaPHYLLIS' SPICY PEACH COBBLER

by Livia J. Washburn (Fresh Baked Mysteries)

INGREDIENTS

Filling

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced candied ginger
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 cups sliced peaches

9" Basic Crust

  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ice water
  • 1 tsp granulated or turbinado (raw) sugar * Makes a 9-inch pie crust

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375º. Combine cornstarch, minced candied ginger, brown sugar, and water in saucepan. Cook until thickened and then add peaches. Cook until peaches are hot, about 5 minutes. Pour into buttered 9” pan making sure the ginger is evenly distributed.

Mix flour and salt in chilled bowl, then cut shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter, until mixture resembles the texture of tiny split peas. When the mixture is the right texture, add the ice water and combine with a fork. Quickly gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a 4-inch-wide disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Remove dough disk from refrigerator. If stiff and very cold, let stand until dough is cool but malleable. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough disk on a lightly floured surface until it’s bigger than the pan. Transfer dough by carefully rolling it around the rolling pin, lift and unroll dough, centering it over the fruit. Vent crust, and sprinkle granulated or turbinado (raw) sugar on top to give a delightful sparkling appearance.

Bake cobbler for 50 minutes or until golden brown.

The candied ginger gives this dessert a warm zesty taste.

washburn peachofamurderLIVIA J WASHBURN (aka L.J. Washburn) is Livia Reasoner, a mystery, western, romance, and historical novelist. She began to write in collaboration with her husband, author James Reasoner, and soon branched out into telling her own stories. Livia and James have had a long career working together, tweaking and editing each others stories. In recent years she's become involved in the publishing end of the business, producing ebooks and trade paperbacks for Western Fictioneers, and now for Prairie Rose Publications. A good day for her includes having time to create something new in the kitchen, on a story, and designing a great cover. Livia's website can be found at www.liviawashburn.com.


coyle cleoHoney Cinnamon Peach Sopapillas

by Cleo Coyle (Coffeehouse Mystery series)

Traditionally sopapillas are little pillows of fried dough. They can be served with savory ingredients but also as a dessert with honey and cinnamon. You can certainly make them from scratch, but here's a quick, easy, lighter way to make them using flour tortillas. This recipe serves one.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 six-inch flour tortilla
  • 2-3 teaspoons shortening (my favorite: cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil, but you can also use olive oil, or your favorite oil, butter, lard, or vegetable shortening - see my note below)
  • Raw honey for drizzling (Health and flavor note: Raw honey is far, far better tasting than heat-processed honeys. It's truly worth the price and makes a huge difference in flavor. If you can find local raw honey, that's an even better benefit for your immune system.)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon mixed with 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 ripe, fresh peach

DIRECTIONS

Place a skillet on medium-high heat and add your choice of shortening (oil, butter, lard, etc). You must use some kind of shortening and enough of it or the tortilla will not properly bubble up.

When the oil is hot (or the butter melted), place the tortilla in the pan. Allow it to heat up (15 to 20 seconds), then flip it and wait patiently for the tortilla to bubble up. If it does not bubble up, you need to increase the heat and keep waiting. Then flip it one more time to finish cooking and remove it from the pan. Slip it on the plate, drizzle it with raw honey, and sprinkle it generously with cinnamon sugar. Use a pizza cutter to slice it into sections.

To serve, slice up a fresh peach and arrange the slices on the center of a plate as shown in my photo. Drizzle with raw honey and cinnamon sugar. Place the sopapilla slices around the plate, top the center of the peach slices with whipped cream or ice cream and eat with joy!

NOTES

My very favorite shortening for this recipe is cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. This is a healthy, delicious oil, and of all the shortenings I tested with this recipe, coconut oil gave the absolute best results. It doesn't brown the way butter does at a high temperature; it brings a lovely, slightly nutty flavor to the tortilla; and it creates a nice, crisp texture in the tortilla as it cools.

CLEO COYLE is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, who writes popular fiction in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Like their 13 Coffeehouse Mystery novels, their five Haunted Bookshop Mysteries (written under the name Alice Kimberly), are bestselling works of amateur sleuth fiction for Penguin. Visit Cleo at www.coffeehousemystery.com.

peachsopapillas clepcoyle

Teri Duerr
Monday, 04 August 2014 12:08

peachThe only thing more delectable than a good summer mystery read may just be a delicious summer peach.

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Teri Duerr
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 08:08
Dorothy Salisbury Davis
Sarah Weinman

Author Dorothy Salisbury Davis passed away August 3, 2014. Sarah Weinman recently profiled the crime fiction legend for Mystery Scene.

Dorothy Salisbury Davis celebrated her 98th birthday on April 26, making her arguably the oldest living American mystery writer. She is also one of the genre’s very best practitioners, one whose approach to crime fiction was once described by her friend and protégée Sara Paretsky as having “an awareness of how easy it is for ordinary people to do nasty and wicked deeds” and “[a rich] understanding of the human condition that is missing from most contemporary crime fiction.”

For years I had a dim awareness of Davis’ life and work, glimpsing her at the Edgar Awards in 2007 and seeing her name mentioned in mystery magazines as a major force, but it wasn’t until I began collecting stories for my anthology of domestic suspense fiction, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, that I delved into Davis’ oeuvre in a serious manner. What I found backed up the plaudits and confirmed the hosannas: Davis truly understood the complicated nature of human behavior, and how otherwise ordinary people could tumble down the proverbial rabbit hole of sin, temptation, and weakness to commit murder—and keep the reader’s sympathy throughout.

Davis, born in Chicago and raised on dairy farms in rural Illinois and Wisconsin, was adopted and did not learn the truth of her parentage until she was well past middle age. Those hidden origins, contrasted against an otherwise happy childhood, may have led Davis to writing mysteries, though not before several professional detours as a research librarian in the advertising world, a magic show promoter, a director of the benefits program of a major meatpacking company during World War II, and later, as an editor for The Merchandiser magazine. Davis was also active in local theater, and met her husband, the character actor Harry Davis, when he was assistant stage manager for the production of The Glass Menagerie that eventually landed on Broadway.

salisbury judascatThree years into her marriage, Davis published her first novel, The Judas Cat (1949), with Scribner, who remained her hardcover publisher for the rest of her career. Already many of the themes that would recur in Davis’ work—the seemingly close-knit small town populated with flawed but relatable people undone by a murder, and then the corrosive aftermath—appear in this debut, which is set up by a nifty locked-room mystery: How did 92-year-old Andy Mattson die violently in his house with only a cat as witness, and possibly as culprit?

But locked-room mysteries weren’t Davis’ main concern. She was much more interested in the psychology of regular people, especially women of all ages, like the thirtyish spinster Hannah in A Town of Masks (1952), whose timid manner boils over in a murderous, yet justified way, or the elderly matriarch in The Clay Hand (1950) who rules her small town using fear and hatred, yet is herself undone. She also brilliantly captured the downward spiral of a teenage-boy-turned-hoodlum in both Black Sheep, White Lamb (1963) and The Little Brothers (1973), both of which also depict New York City’s Italian-American communities with forthright compassion.

Davis’ Roman Catholicism also figured prominently in a number of her novels. A Gentle Murderer (1951), her best-known novel, begins with a tour de force of an opener, in which a young man gets off a subway in midtown Manhattan, heads for a nearby church, and confesses his mortal sin to the priest: he thinks he has killed a young woman, and he is beside himself. The priest is honor-bound to keep the man’s secret. The cop who investigates the woman’s murder must find a way to coax the information out of the priest without breaking that oath. Meanwhile, the young man finds himself the object of affection of two generations of women at the house where he lodges, and where his secrets are threatened to be discovered.

More than 20 years later, Davis twists the original opening scene of A Gentle Murderer to its near-opposite in Where the Dark Streets Go (1969), as Father McMahon, tasked with writing his weekly sermon, gets an urgent summons to a tenement basement where a young man lies dying, bloody, and stabbed, refusing to divulge his real name or his killer’s. Davis suffuses this novel, too, with an overwhelming desire for absolution in the face of multiple types of guilt. Father McMahon’s struggles become the reader’s struggles, too.

While Davis’ concerns about human behavior and social justice means her crime novels are generally sober in nature, the wicked sense of humor she’s displayed in real life comes through on the page as well. This is most especially true with her trio of novels—Death of an Old Sinner, A Gentleman Called, and Old Sinners Never Die, published between 1957 and 1959—starring the elderly housekeeper Mrs. Norris, accompanying her longtime charge Jimmie, now a Wall Street lawyer, and the police detective Jasper Tully as they investigate serious crimes with a lighthearted touch.

Davis’ humor is also on display in her last four novels, all featuring Julie Hayes, who moves from disaffected, psychoanalyzed housewife and struggling actress (A Death in the Life) to tarot card reader (Scarlet Night) to gossip reporter (Lullaby of Murder) to searching out her own birth parents in Ireland (The Habit of Fear).

salisbury agentlemurderThe Julie Hayes novels are difficult to pigeonhole, however. They feature one of the most dysfunctional marriages in mystery fiction, between Julie, chafing at her own lack of independence, and Jeff, the much older, condescending investigative reporter. Davis thoughtfully examines this relationship as it grows, changes, and eventually, ends. Julie is caustic, eccentric, and resourceful, but also deals with her own brutal rape in The Habit of Fear—more disturbing because Davis describes it without flourish or relish—in a “let’s get on with it” manner that does not diminish the horror. And yet, there is joie de vivre, especially with respect to the late 1970s/early 1980s New York City Davis depicts, a city in great transition that is clearly one the author loves.

While crime fiction was Davis’s primary genre, for which she garnered eight Edgar nominations—as well as the Grand Master designation by the Mystery Writers of America in 1985—she also wrote mainstream historical fiction, including Men of No Property (1956), set in Ireland during the 19th century potato famine; The Evening of the Good Samaritan (1962), set before, during, and after World War II through the vantage point of three generations of men; and God Speed the Night (1968, co-written with Jerome Ross), a suspense tale of Nazi resistance during World War II.

A number of influential writers counted Davis among their friends. She recalled, in an interview for The Daily Beast in 2013, living just two miles away from Patricia Highsmith in the 1950s, being “great friends” with Dorothy B. Hughes, and visiting Ross Macdonald and Margaret Millar in California. Davis was also instrumental in cementing Sisters in Crime as an organization to take seriously upon its founding in 1986 by joining as a board member. “She was a pioneer in speaking out for women writers and insisting that a woman’s voice was as valid, as strong, and as important as a man’s,” the noted crime writer Margaret Maron recalls.

Maron, who considers Davis to be “one of my icons,” vividly recalled her first encounter with the author during Edgar Week in the 1980s. “She came into the nearly empty room where I was and smiled at me as she bustled through (she never just strolled, she always moved quickly). I sat there dazed: ‘Dorothy Salisbury Davis just smiled at me!’”

Davis stopped writing novels after her husband Harry’s death in 1993, although she has published short stories as recently as 2009, many of them collected in In The Still of the Night (2001). Readers, luckily, can find out for themselves about the consistent excellence of Dorothy Salisbury Davis’ work thanks to the recent digital reissues of her entire body of work by Open Road Integrated Media.

 

A DOROTHY SALISBURY DAVIS READING LIST

Mrs. Norris Series
Death of an Old Sinner (1957)
A Gentleman Called (1958)
Old Sinners Never Die (1959)

Julie Hayes Series
A Death in the Life (1976)
Scarlet Night (1980)
Lullaby of Murder (1984)
The Habit of Fear (1987)

Collections
In the Still of the Night (2001)
Tales for a Stormy Night (1984)

Crime Novels
The Judas Cat (1949)
The Clay Hand (1952)
A Gentle Murderer (1951)
A Town of Masks (1952)
Black Sheep, White Lamb (1963)
The Pale Betrayer (1965)
Enemy and Brother (1966)
God Speed the Night (1968) (with Jerome Ross)
Where the Dark Streets Go (1969)
Shock Wave (1972)
Little Brothers (1974)

 

Sarah Weinman is the editor of Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories From the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense (Penguin). She is at work editing a two-volume set of novels by American women crime writers for the Library of America.

 

This article first appeared in Mystery Scene Summer Issue #135.

Teri Duerr
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:08

Author Dorothy Salisbury Davis passed away August 3, 2014. Sarah Weinman recently profiled the crime fiction legend for Mystery Scene.

Alison Gaylin and a Perfect Memory

gaylinalison staywithme
We all know that fact is stranger than fiction.

Think about 10 significant but bizarre instances that have occurred during the past 50 years. Now, if any of those instances made it into a novel, would you believe it? Thought not.

Hyperthymestic syndrome, a rare disorder that gives a person perfect autobiographical memory, has been making its way into novels, movies and television shows for the past 25 years.

But when I first heard about this syndrome, I thought that can’t be real. I can’t even remember where I left my glasses 10 minutes ago so how can someone remember every detail about their life?

And yet this syndrome is quite real.

And it makes for some interesting twists in mysteries.

Alison Gaylin has been using Hyperthymestic Syndrome in her series about private investigator Brenna Spector. Stay With MeGaylin’s third novel in the series, recently came out. 

The ability to remember every moment of her life helps Brenna as a private investigator, but wreaks havoc on her personal life. Brenna developed the syndrome when she was around 11 years old. The syndrome was triggered by the disappearance of her sister, Clea, disappeared at age 17, more than 28 years ago. And that disappearance is the one piece of her memory that is blank, a situation that Gaylin uses well in Stay With Me.

On the CBS crime drama, Criminal Minds, the character Spencer Reid states on many occasions that he possess an eidetic memory, which is often linked to hyperthymesia.

On Unforgettable, another CBS series, Poppy Montgomery plays New York police detective Carrie Wells. She hopes that the job will allow her to try to find out the one thing she has been unable to remember, which is what happened the day her sister was murdered. At the beginning of the show she says: “I'm Carrie Wells. Only a few people in the world have the ability to remember everything. I'm one of them. Pick any day of my life, and I can tell you what I saw or heard: faces, conversations, clues (which comes in handy when you're a cop). If I miss something the first time, it's OK. I can go back and look again. My life is...unforgettable.”

And on the CBS comedy (what is it about CBS?) The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper everything from the day his mom stopped breastfeeding him. He describes that day as “a drizzly Tuesday.”

Actress Marilu Henner has hyperthymesia and can remember the specific details of her everyday life since she was a small child. Henner was one of six people featured during a segment of CBS’ 60 minutes in 2010. (Again, CBS!)

It’s not that people with this syndrome have really good memories, or a photographic memory. It goes much deeper than that. 

And if you want more information, Google hyperthymestic syndrome.

Oline Cogdill
Friday, 08 August 2014 11:08

gaylinalison staywithme
We all know that fact is stranger than fiction.

Think about 10 significant but bizarre instances that have occurred during the past 50 years. Now, if any of those instances made it into a novel, would you believe it? Thought not.

Hyperthymestic Syndrome, a rare disorder that gives a person perfect autobiographical memory, has been making its way into novels, movies and television shows for the past 25 years.

But when I first heard about this syndrome, I thought that can’t be real. I can’t even remember where I left my glasses 10 minutes ago so how can someone remember every detail about their life?

And yet this syndrome is quite real.

And it makes for some interesting twists in mysteries.

Alison Gaylin has been using Hyperthymestic Syndrome in her series about private investigator Brenna Spector. Stay With Me, Gaylin’s third novel in the series, recently came out.

The ability to remember every moment of her life helps Brenna as a private investigator, but wreaks havoc on her personal life. Brenna developed the syndrome when she was around 11 years old. The syndrome was triggered by the disappearance of her sister, Clea, disappeared at age 17, more than 28 years ago. And that disappearance is the one piece of her memory that is blank, a situation that Gaylin uses well in Stay With Me.

On the CBS crime drama, Criminal Minds, the character Spencer Reid states on many occasions that he possess an eidetic memory, which is often linked to hyperthymesia.

On Unforgettable, another CBS series, Poppy Montgomery plays New York police detective Carrie Wells. She hopes that the job will allow her to try to find out the one thing she has been unable to remember, which is what happened the day her sister was murdered. At the beginning of the show she says: “I'm Carrie Wells. Only a few people in the world have the ability to remember everything. I'm one of them. Pick any day of my life, and I can tell you what I saw or heard: faces, conversations, clues (which comes in handy when you're a cop). If I miss something the first time, it's OK. I can go back and look again. My life is...unforgettable.”

And on the CBS comedy (what is it about CBS?) The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper everything from the day his mom stopped breastfeeding him. He describes that day as “a drizzly Tuesday.”

Actress Marilu Henner has hyperthymesia and can remember the specific details of her everyday life since she was a small child. Henner was one of six people featured during a segment of CBS’ 60 minutes in 2010. (Again, CBS!)

It’s not that people with this syndrome have really good memories, or a photographic memory. It goes much deeper than that.

And if you want more information, google Hyperthymestic Syndrome.

Perfume and Kelli Stanley

kelli cityofghosts

I love exotic perfumes, the kind that you don’t often find in regular department stores. And if those perfumes come with a history, so much the better.

Perfumes also can make a statement about character in crime fiction.

Scents trigger Maggie Silver’s memory in Denise Hamilton’s novel Damage Control. Here's Maggie applying a fragrance: “...clean, crisp notes of citrus, bergamot and verbena. Nothing cloying or clobbering... Just a subtle scent amulet to infuse me with secret grace and power.” Hamilton, by the way, is an expert on perfumes.

Perfume, or at least one perfume, has meaning to private detective Miranda Corbie in Kelli Stanley’s latest novel City of Ghosts set in San Francisco during 1940, the time when war was raging in Europe but the U.S. had yet to enter the battle.

For Miranda, the scent Vol de Nuit is important. Not because of its wonderful bouquet, but because Vol de Nuit reminds her of a different time and when she was a different person.

Stanley writes: “Vol de Nuit, replacement for Je Reviens and the happy time, the other Miranda, the girl in New York who liked carnations and violets, the scene of freshly cut oranges and coffee, the sound of the Elevated pounding above her tiny apartment, shouts of kids running to buy candy and a Shadow magazine at the corner store.”

In City of Ghosts, Miranda is down to her last bottle of Vol de Nuit, and knows that there will be no more shipments of the perfume until the war is over.

“She closed her eyes, inhaling the oakmoss and narcissus, the deep vanilla crème and the arid scent of wood bark, straight from the Ardennes,” writes Stanley.

Vol de Nuit is an apt perfume for Miranda to cherish during wartime. Produced by the house Guerlain (who make Shalimar, among others), Vol de Nuit was “composed in 1933 as a tribute to flight, celebrating the novel of the same name by pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Air France.” The novel Vol de Nuit celebrated courage, according to Guerlain.

Naturally, I had to order a bottle. I don’t know how much courage it brings me, but it is a lovely, old-fashioned scent that at the same time is modern.

And every time I wear it, it smells as if it were San Francisco, 1940.

 

Oline Cogdill
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 09:08

I love exotic perfumes, the kind that you don’t often find in regular department stores. And if those perfumes come with a history, so much the better.