Oline H. Cogdill

James Patterson
, left, leads the list of the 10 top-selling authors during the last decade, according to a list put together by Nielsen Bookscan.

While the list has to do with quantity, not quality, it’s interesting that three other mystery writers also are on the list.

Coming in at No. 5 is John Grisham; No. 7 is Dan Brown and No. 9 is Janet Evanovich.

Mystery writers also can claim J.K. Rowling, at No. 2, as her Harry Potter novels are quasi mysteries, and Stephen King, at No. 11, as he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. Nora Roberts, at No. 3, also crosses into mystery territory with her J.D. Robb series. (And I don't know why the list includes a No. 11 since the list is billed as the top 10!)

Patterson, of course, is the author of the mega-selling Alex Cross series, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, as well as many, many other novels co-written with a string of authors.

Patterson’s books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide. In 2013, one in five suspense/thriller books sold was a James Patterson book.

He is the first author to have No. 1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children's bestsellers lists and is the only author to have five new hardcover novels debut at No. 1 on the list in one year—a record-breaking feat he's accomplished every year since 2005.

And if that were not enough, Patterson has had 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestselling novels, and holds the New York Times record for most Hardcover Fiction bestselling titles by a single author (63 total), which is also a Guinness World Record.

Oline H. Cogdill

No author can be everywhere, not even Harlan Coben, at left.

And book tours often alternate between areas—parts of the East Coast one year, parts of the Midwest the next. Publishers and authors want to make sure they don’t visit the same regions year after year.

If an author can’t come to your local bookstore, maybe you can go to the author’s home.

Virtually, that is.

In addition to Coben’s regular in-person stops at myriad bookstores, the author and his publisher are trying something new for the launch of his latest novel Missing You.

Several bookstores across the country will feature “At Home with Harlan,” a live streaming interview with Harlan Coben in his living room talking about his latest novel Missing You, showing off his home and also taking questions.

Kinda like a fireside chat, though I don't know if he even has a fireplace.

The talk will be about 20 minutes and will feature a question and answer session with Coben.

The live web event begins at 7 p.m. March 25. And, yes, you do have to be in the store to hear Coben’s talk.

For details, contact the stores that will host Coben’s talk.

The stores participating are

Alabama Booksmith in Homewood

Book Passage in Corte Madera
Kepler's Books & Magazines in Menlo Park
Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego

Books & Books in Coral Gables
Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach

Left Bank Books in St. Louis

Schuler Books in Lansing

White Birch Books in North Conway

BookTowne in Manasquan

Bookmark Shoppe in Brooklyn

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café in Asheville

Barrington Books in Barrington

Murder by the Book in Houston

The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City

Oline Cogdill

The latest copy of Mystery Scene magazine had barely been printed when we got the news that Laura Lippman, at right, whose feature article graces the cover of the latest issue, was being honored with the 2014 Pinckley Prize.

Lippman will share the inaugural Pinckley Prize for Crime Fiction with Gwen Florio.

The Pinckley Prizes are named to honor the memory of Diana Pinckley, longtime crime fiction columnist for The New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The prizes will be presented March 22, 2014, at the 28th annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. The presentation will take place at the historic Beauregard-Keyes House at 5 p.m. The Prizes are presented by the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans, of which Diana Pinckley was a founding member.

A Baltimore native and now part-time New Orleans resident, Laura Lippman, whose latest novel is After I'm Gone, has been chosen for the first Pinckley Prize for a Distinguished Body of Work.

In their statement about the choice of Lippman, the committee said, “Laura Lippman is one of those writers whose dedication to her home town of Baltimore has captivated American readers. She has created an enduring sleuth in Tess Monaghan, a complex character dealing with the issues that every contemporary woman confronts. And more than that, in her stand-alone works, Lippman has transcended the limits and challenges of genre to become a distinguished writer of social realism. All that, and she has a wicked sense of humor!”

In a statement, Lippman, said, “Of course I'm gratified to receive this award, but it is especially meaningful to me as I had the great luck to meet Diana, socially and professionally. I know we like to think that our culture, our society has moved beyond a point where we need prizes that are for certain genres or genders. But we haven't. And to have a prize that recognizes one's body of work, and to have that prize be part of Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans, a city that truly embraces reading -- I am overwhelmed at the honor of being the recipient. I love my second hometown.”

Montana resident Gwen Florio wins the Pinckley Prize for a Debut Novel, for her first book, Montana, published by Permanent Press.

The committee’s statement is: “Out of a field of excellent debut crime novels, we picked Montana because we completely fell in love with the main character. It’s often difficult to pinpoint why someone is lovable. Suffice to say that Gwen Florio’s protagonist Lola fully lives on the page, and what is even more compelling about this brave, irascible character is that she continues to live after the book is closed. She's fearless, flawed, intelligent, reckless, and funny, but most of all, she is defined by loyalty to her friend and a relentless pursuit of her killer.”

In a statement Florio said, “As a recovering journalist, I’m honored and humbled that my novel featuring an investigative reporter has received this inaugural award named for a newspaper columnist – and that I share the award with another former journalist. It’s especially meaningful to receive it in this city long known for treasuring journalism, particularly in these difficult times.”

The Prizes were created in 2012 to honor Diana Pinckley, who was a founding member of the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans, as well as a civic activist who gave her time and energy to local and national causes. The WNBA-NOLA group, composed of writers, librarians, publishers, and booklovers, was founded in 2011; it is the local affiliate of the national group, which was founded in 1917.

The judges this year were memoirist Constance Adler; Mary McCay, founding director of the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing at Loyola University; and novelist Christine Wiltz.

Lippman and Florio will each receive a $2,500 cash award, as well as a beautiful paper rosette fashioned from the pages of their books, created by New Orleans artist Yuka Petz.

Submissions for the 2015 Prizes will be open April 1.

Oline H. Cogdill

As readers of mystery fiction, I think we can all agree on how important literacy programs are and how important it is to support our local libraries.

I love libraries and try to always make myself available to moderate a panel, introduce an author, etc., when asked by area libraries.

Each year in the Fort Lauderdale area there is a terrific event called the Literary Feast sponsored by the Broward County Public Library Foundation.

And next month I will be moderating some panels during Palm Beach Peril put on by the Palm Beach Library System.

Now some of you readers who don’t live in Florida are wondering "what this has to do with me?"

Well, everything.

The Florida connection doesn’t matter. What matters is that each of you has a local library and supporting a library is vital to a community.

During the mystery fiction panel I moderated, everyone one of us had a story that was either shared with the audience or said later in private about how much a library can mean to a community.

My panel included Michael Sears, Archer Mayor, Karin Slaughter and John Searles.

During the panel, Searles, author of the highly rated Help for the Haunted, talked about how as a child he would often go to the library after school to avoid the bullies. The library became a refuge for him and a place to learn about the world outside his home.

Karin Slaughter
is one of the founders of Save the Libraries Foundation, which raises money for libraries around the country. Slaughter told our audience how much she values libraries.

Michael Sears and Archer Mayor also love libraries

I also conducted the interview with Martha Grimes and a separate interview with Robin Cook. Before both events, we chatted about the Literary Feast and how important libraries are.

These library events usually offer books for sale and there also is a ripple effect.

A reader may end up buying more books by an author after the event, or encourage their friends and family to buy those books.

The Literary Feast brings authors to the schools and those high schoolers often will then buy the book or encourage their parents to buy the book.

A library also was important to me as a child. I spent countless hours after school and on Saturdays at the library in my hometown of Charleston, Missouri. I learned so much about the world beyond myself there. And it was after I had pretty much exhausted every children’s book there that my mother suggested I try her mystery novels.

The rest is, as they say, history.

For readers, libraries supply us with so many reading options.

For authors, libraries buy books and often will buy more books by an author if enough readers demand it.

Everyone wins when there is a local library.

Everyone loses when a library closes.

Oline Cogdill

Sara Paretsky, as most of us know, is best known for her mystery fiction about Chicago private detective V.I. Warshawski.

But it’s Paretsky’s 2008 stand-alone novel Bleeding Kansas that is getting a push in Kansas.

The Kansas Center for the Book has picked Bleeding Kansas as its “Kansas Reads” novel.

Kansas Reads is a one-book/one-state reading and discussion project for adult readers. According to its website, “titles are selected for broad-based appeal to encourage spirited discussion among readers at libraries, booksellers and other partners statewide. This year, our selection reflects the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement.”

Bleeding Kansas is a tale about farmers, feuds, religion, bigotry and forgiveness.

In my review of Bleeding Kansas, I described the plot as such:

Two farming families are at the heart of the story -- the Grelliers and the Schapens, both of whose ancestors settled into the same valley during the 1850s as antislavery emigrants. Animosity through the years have turned the families into enemies and Paretsky sharply divides the characters into the good, the Grelliers, and the bad, the Schapens. Jim Grellier is a hard-working farmer whose wife, Susan, is into “big causes,” throwing herself into one failed farm project after another. She’s obsessed about the lives and sacrifices made by her husband’s pioneer ancestors.

The Schapens also work hard at their farm, but they also work even harder at spewing hate toward their neighbors. Matriarch Myra maintains a Web site on which she venomously discusses her neighbors’ lives. Both families are devout Christians, yet the Schapens believe only their brand of religion is right.

Paretsky perfectly captures the hardships of family farms, the money woes and each family’s dependence on the other. Kansas is vividly presented, giving not just a view of its beauty but also its political and social landscape, I stated later in my review.