Wednesday, 12 November 2014 05:11

janceja dogs
At each Bouchercon, several authors are picked to be the guests of honor. During Bouchercon 2014, which begins November 13, the American Guest of Honor is J.A. Jance, who has written more than 50 novels during the past 30 years.

I’ll be conducting the interview with J.A. beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13.

J.A. has been a real force in the mystery genre since 1985, when her first J.P. Beaumont novel, Until Proven Guilty, was published.
One reason that her novels are so accessible is that she writes about real people—men and women whom each of us can relate to. There are other female sheriffs in the mystery genre, but J.A. was the first to give her Joanna Brady a full and complicated live. In that, J.A. recognized that none of us are just one thing. Our careers, families, hopes, dramas, and joys all serve to make us who we are.

J.A. also knows that using one’s life experiences can make for richer novels. So her first husband’s alcoholism helped shaped J. P. Beaumont. Her experiences as a single parent have gone into the background for Joanna Brady.

The years that she taught on the Tohono O’Odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona, are reflected in Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees.

In Second Watch, she paid tribute to a former classmate who was killed in Vietnam.

We’ll be talking about her characters and her life as a writer during our interview at Bouchercon. And if  you can’t make it to Long Beach, bring J.A. Jance to you by reading her novels.

Sunday, 09 November 2014 05:11

koryta thosewhowishmedead
Liam Neeson battles two chilling criminals and their odd relationship in A Walk Among the Tombstones. The movie, based on Lawrence Block’s novel, gives us a good view of who these two horrible people are and it wisely doesn’t have them dominate the screen.

Sometimes villains are the worst criminals one can imagine. Other times, they slide into your lives under the guise of friendship and love.

So here are the novels this year that gave us memorable villains.

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta: Two killers, with their odd speaking patterns and creepy stares, leave a trail of violence in their wake as they pursue a 13-year-old boy who witnessed them murdering a man.

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood: A killer lurks in a rundown apartment house in London. But who?

Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly: Eve Dalladay, who has a habit of seducing married men, siphoning off their money, and disappearing, may be one of the most fully shaped villains of the year.

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash: Deadbeat father Wade Chesterfield, who kidnaps the children he abandoned, and who had signed over his parental rights years before, isn’t really the bad guy here. That title goes to the brutal Robert Pruitt, who is fueled by a years-old vendetta against Wade, and a gym bag full of money.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon: The fears that creep into one’s subconscious and stay there ramp up the terror in this tale that blends the past and the present, the supernatural and the real.

Black Horizon by James Grippando: Corporate greed—the ultimate villain—and politics play a part as Miami defense attorney Jack Swyteck represents the widow of a Cuban national killed in an oil rig explosion.

Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon: Retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney investigates a murder that, on the surface, was marwoodalex killernextdoor
impossible to perform and in which the details were fabricated.

Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller: Two brutal murders, seemingly unrelated, rock the small town of Acker's Gap, West Virginia, where people can hide in plain sight their propensity for violence.

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman: Shady businessman Felix Brewer isn’t your typical villain, but this thoughtless and selfish man who is facing a 15-year prison sentence disappears before he can go to prison, forever leaving in shambles those he supposedly loved.

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 08:11

healy jeremiah jerry
It’s always hard to know how to best honor someone who has died. Do we send flowers? Set up a fund? Hold a memorial service? What is the best way to honor that person, acknowledge our grief, and also do something that will allow that person’s legacy to continue.

Jeremiah Healy’s death on August 14, 2014, left many people mourning him and also wanting to do something. Jerry took his own life at age 66, following a long battle with depression.

He left behind his fiancée and fellow author, Sandra Balzo, tons of friends, colleagues, and fans.

To honor Jerry Healy, his fellow mystery writers and friends, Brendan DuBois, Andi Shechter, SJ Rozan and her sister Deborah, and Balzo found a way to commemorate Jerry's work and life that they feel he would have loved.

So a memorial fund is being set up at Hero Dogs, a service dog organization that trains dogs to assist wounded veterans.

“Besides his work as an attorney and an author, Jerry was a U.S. Army vet, and was also a lover of dogs. [Hero Dogs] will be thrilled to receive donations in Jerry's name,” said DuBois in a press statement.

The idea for the fund began several weeks ago when the friends began to ask themselves what they should do.

“My first thoughts were things that were on my mind—depression, suicide prevention, or maybe literacy. All worthy causes, but not . . . very Jerry,” said Balzo in the press statement.

“If you knew Jeremiah Healy for any length of time, you might have heard him talk about the military and refer to somebody as ‘the real thing.’ ‘The Real Things’ are men and women who served our country heroically and selflessly, often at the expense of life, limb, or emotional health. In fact, the only time I saw Jerry cry was as he recounted an air mission in which the pilots took off knowing that, once the mission was achieved, they didn't have the fuel to return,” she added.

healy herodogs
And that is where dogs come in.

“As for the canine component, I can't tell you how many strolls were doubled in duration because Jerry had to stop every passing dog walker with the question "Is he (or she) friendly?" and give 'em a good scratch. Even depressed, it was the one thing that seemed to help him, so I can only imagine what it does for wounded vets,” she added.

Hero Dogs is based in Maryland. It is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) organization and operates entirely on donations. You can donate via their website, or by sending a check to Hero Dogs, P.O. 64, Brookeville, MD 20833-0064. But please ensure either by writing on the memo section of your check, or using the form on their website, that you're making this donation in Jeremiah Healy's name.

That way, Hero Dogs can track how many donations come in, so that they can be used in some way to keep Jeremiah Healy's memory alive in years to come.

And if anyone wants to have their donation acknowledged by Balzo, or send her a personal note, she can be reached at

And after honoring Healy through Hero Dogs, remember his novels.

Healy’s first novel about Boston private investigator John Francis Cuddy was Blunt Darts in 1984. His novel The Staked Goat won the Shamus Award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America, in 1986. He wrote 13 novels about Cuddy, the last of which, Spiral, was published in 1999 and took place mostly in Florida.

He also wrote three novels under the pseudonym Terry Devane about lawyer Mairead O’Clare.