This year Berkley Prime Crime is turning 20 years, and that is cause for celebration.
Now other publishing imprints have been around just as long if not longer. But I especially want to praise Berkley Prime Crime for not just publishing cozy mysteries but for allowing this category of the genre to thrive.
When it started in 1994, the imprint released 40 mass market paperbacks. In 2013, Berkley Prime Crime published 150 novels, which were a combination of mass market originals, trade paperbacks, and hardcovers.
The imprint has shown readers that there is room in the genre for all kinds of voices, even those on the softer side.
What I admire about Berkley Prime Crime’s editors is that they know the traditional mystery—a term I have increasingly preferred to cozy—can open windows into new worlds for readers.
The Miss Marples of yesterday have morphed into the wonderful Carolyn Hart with her many series, including the novels about ghost Bailey Ruth Raeburn and bookstore owner Annie Darling. Hart's latest novel is Dead, White, and Blue.
We have Maggie Sefton and her knitter Kelly Flynn; Monica Ferris and her Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needlework shop; Laura Childs who writes about a tea shop owner, a scrapbooker and the restaurateurs who have an egg-themed café in three separate series.
Julie Hyzy adds a soupcon of politics into her lovely series about White House chef Olivia Paras.
Stephanie Jaye Evans shows the challenges of being a man of faith in a secular world.
For historicals, there are Victoria Thompson’s tales about 19th-century New York, midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy; Carol K. Carr’s espionage novels set in Victorian London where India Black makes spying an art.
Joanna Campbell Slan's Jane Eyre Chronicles pick up where Bronte left off.
And it is possible to do a traditional mystery with a harder edge such as Naomi Hirahara’s LAPD bike cop Ellie Rush or M.L Rowland’s search and rescue series about expert Grace Kinkaid.
Berkley Prime Crime had a couple of celebrations last month. But the real celebration of the traditional mystery comes every year at the Malice Domestic conference. This year it will be May 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, MD.
Not surprising that many Berkley Prime Crime authors will be there including Earlene Fowler, who is the toastmaster at Malice.
And Carolyn Hart will be honored during the Edgar Award banquet on May 1 as one of the Grand Masters selected by the Mystery Writers of America.
Once again, it’s a good year for the traditional mystery.
This year, the Crime Writers of Canada adds a new aspect to its annual Arthur Ellis Awards—a Grand Master.
This is the inaugural year of the Crime Writers of Canada’s Grand Master Award, intended to recognize Canadian crime writers who have a substantial body of work that has garnered national and international recognition.
Howard Engel, left, the author of the award winning Benny Cooperman detective series, has the honor of being the group’s first Grand Master. In its announcement, the Crime Writers of Canada stated “A mainstay of the Canadian crime writing scene for many years, Mr. Engel helped put Canadian crime writing on the map at a time when few mysteries were set in this country.”
The Crime Writers of Canada was established by Derrick Murdoch, a prolific Canadian crime fiction reviewer, in 1982, and has sponsored the Arthur Ellis Awards for Crime and Mystery Writing for 30 years. Engel is among the group’s seven founding members.
And in case you are wondering where the name Arthur Ellis came from, here’s a bit of history. “Arthur Ellis” was the pseudonym for the man who became Canada’s hangman in 1912. Among the various categories, the organization annually awards the Unhanged Arthur Award, which recognized and promotes the careers of emerging crime writers.
All awards will be announced during the group’s annual banquet, scheduled to be June 5, 2014.
The 2014 Arthur Ellis Shortlists for Excellence in Crime Writing
John Brooke, Walls of a Mind, Signature Editions
Seán Haldane, The Devil’s Making, Stone Flower Press
Lee Lamothe, Presto Variations, Dundurn
Howard Shrier, Miss Montreal, Vintage Canada
Simone St. James, An Inquiry into Love and Death, Penguin Books
Best First Novel
E.R. Brown, Almost Criminal, Dundurn
A.S.A. Harrison, The Silent Wife, Penguin Books Canada
Axel Howerton, Hot Sinatra, Evolved Publishing
J. Kent Messum, Bait, Penguin Canada
S.G. Wong, Die on Your Feet, Carina Press
Melodie Campbell, The Goddaughter’s Revenge, Orca Books
Brenda Chapman, My Sister’s Keeper, Grassroots Press
James Heneghan, A Woman Scorned, Orca Books
Best Short Story
Donna Carrick, Watermelon Weekend, Thirteen, Carrick Publishing
Jas. R. Petrin, Under Cap Ste. Claire, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, October 2013, Dell Magazines
Twist Phelan, Footprints in Water, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, July 2013, Dell Magazines
Sylvia Maultash Warsh, The Emerald Skull, Thirteen, Carrick Publishing
Sam Wiebe, The Third Echo, Girl Trouble: Malfeasance Occasional, MacMillan/St Martin’s Press
Best Book in French
Chrystine Brouillet, Saccages, La courte échelle
Jacques Côté, Et à l'heure de votre mort, éditions Alire
Maureen Martineau, L’enfant promis, La courte échelle
Jacques Savoie, Le fils emprunté, Éditions Libre Expression
Karen Autio, Sabotage, Sono Nis Press
Gail Gallant, Apparition, Doubleday Canada
Elizabeth MacLeod, Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History’s Mysteries, Annick Press
Ted Staunton, Who I’m Not, Orca Books
L.J. Gordon, Death at the Iron House Lodge
Rachel Greenaway, Cold Girl
Charlotte Morganti, The Snow Job
Kristina Stanley, Descent
Kevin Thornton, Coiled
Mega-bestseller James Patterson cares deeply about the future of literacy in this country.
And he has been working for literacy.
Last month it was announced that Patterson will be giving $1 million to independent bookstores to help support them. Details here.
For the second year, Patterson and NBA all-star Dwyane Wade will team up for the webcast "One on One" promoting reading for children, emphasizing “the importance of reading for success in life,” according to the press release.
The webcast will air on Thursday, April 24, at 1 p.m. EST. The webcast is free to schools, libraries and individuals. Visit jamespattersonevents.com to sign up. Patterson and his publisher, Hachette Book Group, will be donating about 1,500 books in conjunction with the webcast.
This year, Patterson and Wade will be joined by NBA players LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Terrence Ross and Dirk Nowitzki.
A collaboration with NBA Cares, the Wade’s World Foundation, ReadKiddoRead and Hachette Book Group, the webcast will include interviews with superstars LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Stephen Curry and Terrence Ross.
Each player will discuss how reading helped them reach the very highest heights in their careers.
Dwyane Wade and James Patterson are highlighted in an in-depth conversation with six-time Emmy Award winner and Miami Heat courtside reporter Jason Jackson on how reading has changed their lives and made their megawatt careers possible. And, viewers will see interviews about reading with real middle school students from John Dibert Community School of New Orleans.
In a release, Patterson explained why he choose this project: “Dwyane and I agree on this: getting kids reading will save their lives, especially those at-risk,” James Patterson said.
“That’s why we’ll be visiting (by webcast) as many schools as will have us. Dwyane and I are shooting for 100 percent literacy in our schools.”
Photo: Miami Heat courtside reporter Jason Jackson, left, with Dwayne Wade and James Patterson. Photo by Sue Patterson
It’s always sad when a bookstore closes its doors.
Bookstores aren’t just brick and mortar buildings, they are readers’ living rooms. A place to meet like minded people, a place to discuss favorite books and discover new novels, a place to meet your favorite author.
So the news that Book'em Mysteries in South Pasadena, California, will close on April 30 is a time to mourn its passing but also to praise its 24 years of being in business. That’s 24 years of introducing a couple of generations of readers to books and authors.
Book'em Mysteries’ owners Mary Riley, 82, and Barry Martin,75, have been quoted in a couple of newspaper articles as saying it is time to close.
You reach a point in your life when you feel you’ve accomplished something,” Martin, a retired TV producer, told the Pasadena Star-News.
And they certainly have accomplished a lot.
Just last month the bookstore was named No. 6 in LA Weekly’s list of “10 Best Independent Bookstores in L.A.”
Book’em Mysteries almost didn’t make it to its first year. The store opened in October, 1990, a block and a half from its present location in South Pasadena. In the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 9, 1991, just 10 months later, an arsonist destroyed the building where the first bookstore was located.
Riley and Martin lost everything and had to start over. And they did. Just 10 days short of three months later, Book’em Mysteries reopened in its current 1,500-square foot location. The arsonist has never been caught.
Count me as one of the fans of Book’em Mysteries. Any time I am in a city in which there is a mystery bookstore, I make a point of visiting. I usually don’t say anything to the staff, just wander the aisles. And I try to always buy something, even it is just a cup of coffee or a canvas bag or a hat.
When Riley and Martin opened Book’em in 1990, there were no mystery bookstores on the east side of greater Los Angeles. They had met several years earlier through their children—his two were in the high school band, her daughter participated in tall flags. They were both widowed. After 20 years as partners, they married at Book’em.
Until the couple shuts the doors for the final time, they will be heavily discounting the books they have in stock and offering for sale the furniture and fixtures. Meanwhile, they have been greeting and reminiscing with long-time customers and authors.
In an interview with the Pasadena Star-News, Martin perfectly summed up most people’s feelings on what an independent bookstore offers its customers: “A sense of community; a place where you can go and not be judged; a place where you can go and have a conversation outside of politics or whatever is going on. A place where people can come and talk about books. Our emphasis has always been books and people,” he told the newspaper.
And he’s exactly right.
Mystery Scene wishes Martin and Riley the best of luck, and thanks for the memories.
Chang’s novels have taken us to the inner workings of New York’s Chinatown as well as these neighborhoods across the country.
Chang’s fourth novel Death Money brings his detective back to New York where his latest investigation involves the death of an Asian man whose body is found in the Harlem River.
The case takes Jack to the benevolent associations of Chinatown to a wealthy New Jersey borough.
Like other authors, Chang will begin a round of book signings and discussions to talk to readers about his books.
Chang isn’t the first author to showcase his work where the novel is set. Bookstores are wonderful places to connect with readers. But many authors also find they can expand their readerships by looking for other venues.
Rosemary Harris has talked about her gardening series at herb shops and gardening clubs. Ellen Crosby has discussed her wine series at wine festivals. Elaine Viets’ Dead End Jobs series has taken her to spas, pet grooming stores and boats.
Authors know that going where the readers are works.
Where is the most unusual place you’ve been for a book signing.