The mystery world lost a guiding light when Sue Grafton died this past December. To make matters worse, Grafton’s iconic Alphabet Series was only one letter short of completion, after last year’s Y is for Yesterday. Still, her series stands as a towering achievement in the field and her influence will linger on for years. As Elaine Viets says in this issue, “Sue Grafton had three children and countless literary daughters.”
Another sad loss was the death of Joan Hess, author of the Maggody and Claire Malloy mystery series, in November. In addition to her enjoyable body of work, she was a prankster and a merry presence at mystery conferences, particularly Malice Domestic. She will be missed.
Happily, the mystery genre is constantly renewing itself with bright new talents. A case in point is Australian author Jane Harper, whose first book, The Dry, garnered her many fans here in North America. Her second book, Force of Nature, continues the winning streak. Craig Sisterson catches up with her in this issue.
2018 is the centennial of Mickey Spillane’s birth and Max Allan Collins and James Traylor make the case that this tough guy writer’s regular guy image has caused the magnitude of his achievement to be less appreciated than it should be.
Not every writer is content to keep the detecting on the page. Both Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, and Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason, took active roles in contemporary crime cases. Gardner, in particular, made an enormous impact with his “Court of Last Resort” investigations. He helped overturn a number of wrongful convictions, and, with his panel of forensic experts, helped bring a new level of professionalism to the practice of law enforcement. Cathy Pickens discusses these intriguing cases in this issue.
Everybody plays favorites. Our critics certainly do—and they’ve rounded up their selections of 2017’s outstanding crime and mystery works for your entertainment. This is always one of my favorite articles to work on—I come away with not only new books to read but also good ideas for future articles. Let us know what you think of our picks!
No one critic can read everything in the crime genre, but Anthony Boucher certainly took a stab at it. Back in the 1940s through the 1960s, his reviews were ubiquitous—and influential. And criticism was just one facet of his huge talent. No wonder the World Mystery Convention decided to call itself Bouchercon in his honor. Read Michael Mallory’s interesting piece on this multifaceted, multigenre talent in this issue.
John Hart’s new book has two elements new to his award-winning work. He’s returned to a former character, making The Hush a sequel to 2009’s The Last Child. And he’s added an element of magical realism, new to his work. Craig Sisterson talks with Hart in this issue.
After reading a stack of books recommended by Oprah Winfrey, Karen E. Olson was ready for some strong, resilient women characters who took charge of their own lives and definitely weren’t victims. She found what she was looking for in the works of Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton, Linda Barnes, and Lillian O’Donnell. Add these influences to her own journalism background and the result are three different series, each with strong women characters. John B. Valeri talks with Olson in this issue.