Oline Cogdill

For several years now, mega-bestseller James Patterson has been an advocate of literacy, supplying schools and programs with books for young readers.

Now Patterson has announced that he will be giving $1 million to independent bookstores to help support them. He will be donating $267,000 to 55 bookstores as well as to California Bookstore Day on May 3.

The grants range from $2,000 to $15,000; the average donation is $4,750. The rest of the $1 million will be disbursed in stages during the rest of the year, according to his web site.

Patterson says that the only requirements were that stores be "viable" and have a children's section.

In a statement, Patterson said, “Every day, booksellers are out there saving our country's literature. The work they do to support schools and the rest of their communities leaves a lasting love of reading in children and adults. I believe their work is vital to our future as a country.”

Some of the stores submitted proposals for how they would use money; some were recommended by industry professionals. Nine stores were recommended by fellow authors Kate DiCamillo, Pam Munoz Ryan, Brian Selznick, R.L. Stine and Clare Vanderpool. (Booksellers and book lovers can continue to suggest favorite stores at

Stores aren't required to report on how they use the money, but Patterson has said he hopes stores will share their experiences and how the money leads to change in the stores.

One store has state it will use the money to bring children's authors to local schools and the store. Another will put the grant toward buying a van for mobile author events and book fairs. Others will use the money for needed repairs such as damaged floors and worn carpeting.

Needless to say, the bookstore owners are thrilled and appreciative.

In a New York Times story, Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., said, "We can't have a business plan that says James Patterson is is going to come along and give us something every year, but these are things that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

“It wouldn't mean we'd go out of business, but it would mean that this particular dream would be put off for a few years,” added Petrocelli whose grant is going toward buying a van for mobile author events and book fairs.

The First Round of Stores

The following are the 55 stores (and California Bookstore Day) receiving the first round of James Patterson's grants of $1 million, ranging from $2,000 to $15,000, and what some of them are doing with them, as noted by the stores or media, according to Shelf Awareness. Not all stores disclosed the amount of their awards:

California Bookstore Day ($15,000 for marketing and publicity)

A Whale of a Tale, Irvine, Calif.

Alamosa Books, Albuquerque, N.M.

Anderson's, Naperville, Ill. (recommended by R.L. Stine)

Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

Bank Street Bookstore, New York, N.Y.

Book Bin, Northbrook, Ill.

Book Culture, New York, N.Y.

Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif. (toward the purchase of a van for mobile author events and book fairs)

Book Revue, Huntington, N.Y. (keep employees, pay property tax, repair floor and roof)

The Bookies, Denver, Colo.

The BookLoft, Great Barrington, Mass.

BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

Books & Greetings, Northvale, N.J.

Books of Wonder, New York, N.Y. (recommended by R.L. Stine)

Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif. ($4,500 to bring children's authors to schools and the store)

The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, N.Y.

Booktenders, Doylestown, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, finish gallery)

Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.M.

Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex. ($5,000 for kids' programming)

Brewster Book Store, Brewster, Mass.

Broadside Book Shop, Northampton, Mass.

Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Children’s Book World, Los Angeles, Calif.

Children's Book World, Haverford, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, $2,500 for authors visiting schools)

The Children's Bookstore, Baltimore, Md. (possibly add to program to help teachers buy books for use in classes)

Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa. (creative space for older children)

Eighth Day Books, Wichita, Kan. (recommended by Clare Vanderpool)

Gallery Bookshop/Bookwinkle Children, Mendocino, Calif. ($5,000 for computer system upgrades)

Hicklebee's, San Jose, Calif. (new computer system and manager bonus)

Innisfree Bookshop, Lincoln, N.H.

Lake Forest BookStore, Lake Forest, Ill.

Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga. (purchase of a bookmobile)

Malaprop's Bookstore and Café, Asheville, N.C. ($7,500 for floor restoration and new carpeting)

Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach and San Diego, Calif.

Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt. (kids' programming)

Oblong Books, Millerton, N.Y. ($7,500 for roof repairs)

Odyssey Book Shop, South Hadley, Mass.

Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo. ($2,500 for a summer reading program)

Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C. ($2,500 for new carpeting)

Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.

Percy's Burrow, Topsham, Me. ($2,500)

Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, Vt. ($5,000 for community outreach)

Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.

Reading Reptile, Kansas City, Mo. (recommended by Brian Selznick)

Red Balloon, St. Paul, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)

Russo's Marketplace Books, Bakersfield, Calif.

Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, Mich. (books for children)

Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo.

Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass. (iPad to sell books at off-site events, a video camera and a small PA system)

Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)

Wonderland Books, Rockford, Ill.

The Yellow Brick Road, San Diego, Calif. (recommended by Pam Munoz

Oline Cogdill
Robin Thicke sings about blurring the lines, but mystery writers have been doing that for years.

The myriad categories of crime fiction have increasingly been melding. And that is good news for readers as it means stories that are deeper, richer, and more realistic.

Police procedurals blend with character studies. Legal thrillers are quasi private detective tales. Science fiction evolves into police procedurals for a look at futuristic cops.

Jennifer McMahon has been added touches of the gothic in her plots for several novels. Her 2013 best-seller The One I Left Behind was a gripping psychological thriller about the affects of childhood trauma with a touch of the gothic to make the story even more fascinating.

McMahon goes a step further with her latest novel The Winter People.

In this novel, McMahon doesn’t just add a touch of the gothic – she embraces it full throttle. Here's my review.

In The Winter People, a string of disappearances in a small Vermont town date back to 1908 when a grisly murder and the death of a child changed the town.

The Winter People is equally a mystery as well as a ghost story—a chilling tale no matter what the genre.

McMahon currently is on tour for The Winter People, her first hardcover novel after a string of best-selling paperback originals. She’ll also be at SleuthFest this week.

Oline Cogdill

The finalists for the 34th annual L.A. Times Book Prizes were announced Wednesday morning: 50 books in 10 categories are in the running to win.

The winners of the L.A. Times book prizes will be announced at an awards ceremony April 11, the evening before the L.A. Times Festival of Books, April 12-13. Held on University of Southern California's campus in Bovard Auditorium, the awards are open to the public; tickets will be made available in late March. Details can be found online at

Several years ago, I, along with Sarah Weinman and the late, great Dick Adler, twice were judges for the mystery/thriller category. The third year, Sarah and I were joined by Dick Lochte. I make it a policy never to comment on award nominations.

Here are the finalists in the crime fiction category.


Hour of the Red God, by Richard Crompton (Sarah Crichton Books)
The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) (Mulholland Books)
Sycamore Row, John Grisham (Doubleday Books)
The Rage, Gene Kerrigan (Europa Editions)
The Collini Case, Ferdinand von Schirach (Viking)

Oline Cogdill

Ideas for novels can come from so many sources. Sometimes a newspaper clipping, a phrase in a novel or even a conversation overheard in an airport lounge can spark that imagination.

J.A. Jance, currently on tour for her latest Ali Reynolds’ novel Moving Target, has used conversations with friends, a cruise and an art exhibit about domestic abuse for her inspiration. Second Watch, her last novel about Seattle investigator J.P. Beaumont, was tribute to a high school friend.

James Grippando uses the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that affected the Gulf Coast a couple of years ago for his latest thrill Black Horizon.

Michael Connelly used a crime that took place on his first day as a reporter for the L.A. Times as a springboard for Black Echo, his first Harry Bosch.

Laura Lippman used a real incident in Baltimore history for latest stand-alone After I’m Gone.

In this enthralling novel, Baltimore gambler Felix Brewer’s disappearance forever affects the lives of the wife, three daughters, and mistress he leaves behind. In Lippman’s fictional version, a murder also happens.

Lippman’s novel has been garnering universally positive reviews, including from me.

After I’m Gone is based on a piece of Baltimore history. During the 1970s, Baltimore kingpin Julius Salsbury jumped bail while on appeal for a gambling conviction. Salsbury, who has never been captured, also left behind a wife, three daughters and a mistress.

Lippman will be the subject of a profile in the next issue of Mystery Scene.

Currently, she is on tour for After I’m Gone. She’ll be in South Florida this week—details here. And she will be one of the guests of honor at SleuthFest this week.

Oline Cogdill

I had to miss the launch of the fifth season of the FX series Justified, but you can be sure that I have since caught up and am again riveted to the adventures of Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), and the rest of the Kentucky lawmen and outlaws.

It’s going to be another great season.

But what I missed by not seeing Justified in real time was the brief tribute to the late novelist Elmore Leonard, whose short story, "Fire in the Hole," inspired the series.

The 90-second tribute was part of a longer piece that will eventually be part of the Season 5 DVD and include interviews with cast members and others who worked with Leonard, plus readings from his novels.

Justified is so very much in keeping with Leonard’s novels—stories with crisp dialogue, a blurring between the good guys and bad guys and a sense that these are real people that we are ease dropping on.

Leonard had many fans among those who worked on Justified, including series creator Graham Yost. The Detroit Free Press wrote last week that Yost made “WWED (What Would Elmore Do) the guidepost for the writers."

In the same interview, the newspaper quoted Yost, “There's an old saw that you should never meet your heroes, and that applies, but not in Elmore's case. He was just fun to hang out with and had a great attitude about life and work and writing,” said Yost, adding in the same newspaper article that this year, “There's a certain degree that there's a switchover from ‘We hope Elmore likes this episode’ to ‘This is in memory of Elmore.’ We hope that... we're, in his memory, doing the best we can to make him happy.”

In the same article, the Free Press interviewed Olyphant: “What I was always aware of was the tone, the humor, the ease with which he told stories or made jokes without acknowledging them. He just had the timing. He was not unlike his books.”

Leonard, who died Aug. 20, 2013, at age 87, left behind a legacy of more than 45 novels that appealed to readers of many generations.

When a director and screenwriter respected his novels, Leonard’s work translated well to the movie screen, including Jackie Brown (based on Rum Punch), Get Shorty, Be Cool, Out of Sight, Hombre, and Joe Kidd.

But for many of us, Leonard’s novels were what we most gravitated toward.

Now we have a year in which we will not have a novel by the master. It just doesn’t seem justified.

Justified airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on the FX Channel with frequent encores.

Photos: Top, Elmore Leonard; center, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant).