Monday, May 21, 2018

NGAIO MARSH AWARD LONGLIST: Kiwi Crime

The Longlist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel: The Ngaio Marsh Award represents the very best in Kiwi Crime.

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)
Baby by Annaleese Jochems (Vitoria University Press)
See You In September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
The Lost Taonga by Edmund Bohan (Lucano)
The Easter Make Believers by Finn Bell
The Only Secret Left To Keep by Katherine Hayton
Tess by Kirsten McDougall (Victoria University Press)
The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackell (Mary Egan Publishing)
A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

The finalists for both the Best Novel and Best First Novel categories will be announced in July. The finalists will be celebrated and the winners announced at WORD Christchurch (August 29-September 2). 

Craig Sisterson, organizer of the Ngaio Marsh Award, is a lapsed Lawyer, and major Crime Fiction Fan and Writer who writes for magazines and newspapers in several countries. He also blogs at Crime Watch.


WRITING RETREATS...and WRITING THE RETREAT: Guest post by Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards:
Writing Retreats…and Writing The Retreat 

Recently I spent a week at a writers’ retreat in the south of France to start work on my fifteenth novel. The previous fourteen, half a dozen of which were co-authored, were written at desks, dining room tables, in cafés, on trains or on the couch in my living room (sometimes while supervising my small children). I quite often have a dog gazing at me while I work, asking to be taken for a walk, or a cat trying to pad across the keyboard. So having the space and time to concentrate fully on my new book, in beautiful surroundings, while the lovely people who run the retreat prepared all the food and supplied refreshments, was a treat.

It also proved to be extremely productive. I wrote 21,000 words in five days, a personal record, and I came home to my desk – and children, dog and cats – having made a great start to my novel. It’s now four weeks later and I’ve just hit the 50,000 word mark. I’ve slowed down, partly because I had a new novel out, but also because of the aforementioned pets and kids.

There were a number of other writers at the retreat, including several who were just starting out, working on their first books. One question they kept asking us more experienced writers was ‘How do you plan your books? Do you know exactly what’s going to happen before you start?’ Each author gave a different answer – we all work differently – but as it’s one of the questions I get asked most (second only to ‘Have any of your books been made into movies?’) I thought it might be interesting to explain how I do it. I’m going to use the novel I just mentioned, The Retreat – coincidentally, set at a writers’retreat, with a missing child and various creepy goings on – as a case study.

The Retreat started with a vision: a couple were walking beside a lake on a winter’s day, with a young girl ahead of them. The girl vanishes into a copse and when her parents catch up, she’s gone. Her coat is floating in the water. But I knew that when the police searched the lake, no body would be found.

I spent some time thinking about what was happening in this scene and whether a novel could grow from it. I often have separate ideas floating about in my head and try to fit them together. I had long wanted to write something where an author was the central character, even though publishers usually tell us not to do it. Still, if it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s definitely good enough for me, and I thought a writer’s retreat would make a great setting for an atmospheric mystery.

I soon had enough of a basic idea to write a one-page outline to show my agent and publisher. This outline contained the set-up – young girl vanishes, apparently drowned, her mother opens a retreat and a writer helps her investigate – along with a couple of other scenes I’d imagined. By this point, the lake had turned into a river and the coat became a soft toy. And the rest of the outline was extremely vague. I had no idea where the girl was, what had happened to her or how my characters were going to find out. I didn’t know who else would be staying at the retreat, what spooky things were going to happen or even the precise setting. But I had enough to make a start, to get the main characters down on paper, and soon the retreat itself, the town and the woods that surrounded it, came into focus.

Photo: Mark Earthy
When I was four or five chapters in, I watched a documentary about urban legends. I don’t want to reveal what it was for fear of spoilers, but it sparked something in my mind and suddenly, in a flash, I knew what had happened to the little girl. I knew my theme; what I was trying to say with this story. It was an exciting moment.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I knew everything that was going to happen. Far from it. All the fine details of the plot still needed to be worked out. Characters had to be created. But this is the part I most enjoy: figuring it out as I go along. I wrote The Retreat fast, forcing myself to stay at my computer every day until I’d written 3000 words. I had some days off – because of life, kids, etc – and I never write weekends but the first draft was done in eight weeks.

After that I went to Australia for two weeks. I started reading through the book on the plane, making notes on my iPad (I have an Apple Pencil which allows me to scrawl on the document as if it were a printed document) and when I got home I fixed most of the problems, rewriting and editing, which took another six weeks. Some parts of the story only came to me during those edits. But four months after I’d started, the book was done and ready to go to my editor.

Some of my writer friends tell me I should plan my books before I start. They swear by five-act structures and index cards pinned to cork boards. But I can’t do that. I have to be there, in the heat of writing, seeing the world through my characters’ eyes before the story tells itself to me. And then I pass that story on to my readers who, so far, have made it my best-reviewed book. My process works for me and I’m not going to change it. I am, though, hoping to start each of my books while at a writer’s retreat. I can work with the chaos of my life swirling around me, but it’s even better when I don’t have to.

The Retreat is out now and available from Amazon http://bit.ly/TheRetreatMEUS 

***
Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers and has topped the UK bestseller lists seven times, selling over 2 million books. His novels include Follow You Home and The Magpies. He lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, three children, two cats and a golden retriever.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

CRIMEFEST AWARDS



The 10th anniversary of CrimeFest this year is in full swing, and the CrimeFest Awards were just announced at the Banquet this evening in Bristol, England.  CrimeFest 'feted' close to 500 attendees, including more than 150 authors, agents, publishers and crime fans from across the globe, who participated in four days of over 60 speaking events and panel discussions. Thanks to Sue Trowbridge for sending me the winning list! Congratulations to all!

CRIMEFEST AWARD SHORTLISTS

Best Unabridged Crime Audiobook:
J.P. Delaney, The Girl Before, (Quercus), read by Emilia Fox, Finty Williams & Lise Aagaard Knudsen

eDUNNIT AWARD
Michael Connelly, The Late Show (Orion)

LAST LAUGH AWARD
Mick Herron, Spook Street (John Murray)

H.R.F. KEATING AWARD
Mike Ripley, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (HarperCollins)

BEST CRIME NOVEL FOR CHILDREN (8 – 12)
Helena Duggan, A Place Called Perfect (Usborne Publishing)
 
BEST CRIME NOVEL FOR YOUNG ADULTS (12 – 16)

Patrice Lawrence, Indigo Donut (Hodder Children's Books)



Petrona Award Winner: Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year

The 018 Petrona Award for Best Translated Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year goes to:

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles (Simon & Schuster; Sweden)

The winning title was just announced at CrimeFest in Bristol. The winning author and the translator of the winning titles will both receive a cash prize and the winning author will receive a full pass and guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2019.

Runners Up:

What My Body Remembers, by Agnete Friis,
translated by Lindy Falk van Rooyen (Soho Press; Denmark)
After the Fire, by Henning Mankell,
translated by Marlaine Delargy (Vintage/Harvill Secker; Sweden)
The Darkest Day, by Håkan Nesser,
translated by Sarah Death (Pan Macmillan/Mantle; Sweden)
The White City, by Karolina Ramqvist,
translated by Saskia Vogel (Atlantic Books/Grove Press; Sweden)
The Man Who Died, by Antti Tuomainen,
translated by David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

HT: Sue Trowbridge

Cartoon of the Day: Two Kinds of People

Two Kinds of People. What kind are you?


CWA Dagger Longlists

The CWA (Crime Writers Association) Dagger Longlists were announced Friday night at CrimeFest. Congratulations to all! Lots of great reading!

CWA Gold Dagger: 
• Head Case, by Ross Armstrong (HQ)
• The Liar, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
• London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
• Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane (Little, Brown)
• Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (Faber and Faber)
• Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
• You Don’t Know Me, by Imran Mahmood (Michael Joseph)
• A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
• The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (Raven)
• Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:
• The Spy’s Daughter, by Adam Brookes (Sphere)
• The Switch, by Joseph Finder (Head of Zeus)
• London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
• If I Die Before I Wake, by Emily Koch (Harvill Secker)
• Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
• An Act of Silence, by Colette McBeth (Wildfire)
• A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
• Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips (Doubleday)
• The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor (Michael Joseph)
• The Force, by Don Winslow (HarperFiction)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: 
• Gravesend, by William Boyle (No Exit Press)
• IQ, by Joe Ide (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
• Soho Dead, by Greg Keen (Thomas & Mercer)
• Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka (Picador)
• Lola, by Melissa Scrivner Love (Point Blank)
• East of Hounslow, by Khurrum Rahman (HQ)
• Ravenhill, by John Steele (Silvertail)
• My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (Fourth Estate)
• The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (Raven)
• Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)

 CWA International Dagger: 
• Zen and the Art of Murder, by Oliver Bottini, translated by Jamie Bulloch (MacLehose Press)
• The Shadow District, by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker)
• Three Days and a Life, by Pierre Lemaitre, translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press)
• After the Fire, by Henning Mankell, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Harvill Secker)
• The Frozen Woman, by Jon Michelet, translated by Don Bartlett (No Exit Press)
• Offering to the Storm, by Dolores Redondo, translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garzía (HarperCollins)
• Three Minutes, by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström, translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel (Quercus/Riverrun)
• Snare, by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, translated by Quentin Bates (Orenda)
• The Accordionist, by Fred Vargas, translated by Sian Reynolds (Harvill Secker)
• Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello, translated by Alex Valente (Two Roads/John Murray) CWA

Historical Dagger: 
• A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
• Death in the Stars, by Frances Brody (Piatkus)
• Fire, by L.C. Tyler (Constable)
• Lightning Men, by Thomas Mullen (Little, Brown)
• Merlin at War, by Mark Ellis (London Wall)
• Money in the Morgue, by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy (HarperCollins)
• Nine Lessons, by Nicola Upson (Faber and Faber)
• Nucleus, by Rory Clements (Zaffre)
• Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
• The Mitford Murders, by Jessica Fellows (Sphere)

CWA Short Story Dagger: 
• “The Corpse on the Copse,” by Sharon Bolton (from Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #2: The Body, edited by Susan Opie; Killer Women)
• “The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle,” by Chris Brookmyre (from Bloody Scotland; Historic Environment Scotland)
• “Too Much Time,” by Lee Child (from No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories, by Lee Child; Bantam Press)
• “Second Son,” by Lee Child (from No Middle Name)
• “Authentic Carbon Steel Forged,” by Elizabeth Haynes (from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women, edited by Sophie Hannah; Head of Zeus)
• “Smoking Kills,” by Erin Kelly (from Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #2)
• “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit,” by Denise Mina (from Bloody Scotland)
• “Accounting for Murder,” by Christine Poulson (from Mystery Tour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories, edited by Martin Edwards; Orenda)
• “Faking a Murder,” by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child (from Match Up, edited by Lee Child; Sphere)
• “Trouble Is a Lonesome Town,” by Cathi Unsworth (from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women)

CWA Dagger in the Library: (Selected by nominations from libraries)
• Simon Beckett
• Martina Cole
• Martin Edwards
• Nicci French
• Sophie Hannah
• Simon Kernick
• Edward Marston
• Peter May
• Rebecca Tope

Shortlists in all of these categories will be announced in July. Winners will be announced during the CWA Dagger Awards dinner in London on Thursday, October 25.

HT: J. Kingston Pierce, The Rap Sheet

Friday, May 18, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Local Bookstore

From Pearls Before Swine...




HISTORY IS MYSTERY: Guest Post by Victoria Thompson

VICTORIA THOMPSON:
HISTORY IS MYSTERY

The twenty-first book in my Gaslight Mystery Series, Murder on Union Square, came out on May 1. When I started the series back in 1999, I never dreamed it would go on so long, and I have my faithful fans to thank for that. They apparently love revisiting turn-of-the-century New York as much as I do. Sometimes a fan will tell me how much they like the series and then add, “I don’t know why I like it so much. I hated history in school!”

Because didn’t we all hate history in school? Who enjoys memorizing dates and the names of kings and dry facts about wars and treaties and stuff? Nobody does, but don’t we all love a good, juicy piece of gossip? Learning about the Reformation sounds really dull until you know that King Henry VIII split England off from the Roman Catholic Church because he wanted to divorce his aging wife and marry his hot, young girlfriend!

I first became really interested in history when I was in Elementary School and picked up a book called Queen Elizabeth and the Spanish Armada at the school library. I probably chose it because of the picture of Queen Elizabeth on the cover and because it’s about a queen instead of a king. I probably also thought an Armada was some kind of a ball. Getting to the part about the Spanish Armada (which was a bunch of ships and not a ball at all and which fought the British navy in a battle I never really understood) took a long time, though. The author spent the first half of the book explaining Henry VIII and his six wives and how his many marriages eventually resulted in King Edward, Queen Mary and finally Elizabeth, a new religion and a war with Spain. Talk about gossip! This story is loaded with it, along with jealousy, betrayal, and several beheadings. I didn’t even mind the part about the naval battle. If this was history, I was hooked!

I have been hooked ever since. I still hate memorizing dates and battles and treaties, but I love learning the story behind the dates and battles and treaties. Those are stories about real people doing things real people do that have real consequences. Kings and Queens aren’t very different from the rest of us except that lots more people care if they lie or betray their values or are unfaithful to their spouses. And everyone loves hearing a story that makes them say, in astonishment, “I didn’t know that!”

So this is why I love writing historical fiction. Most people cringe when they hear the word research, but the research is the best part of my job. I admit I skim a lot of it. I’m still not interested in the dates or the battles, but I love finding that tidbit that makes me say, “I didn’t know that!” Because I figure if I didn’t know it, you probably didn’t either, and you’re going to be just as excited as I was to learn about it. So that’s what goes in my books—all the good, astonishing stuff we didn’t know because history class was too full of dates and stuff.

Murder on Union Square takes place in 1899. Frank and Sarah Malloy are trying to adopt the little girl Sarah rescued from a mission, but they run into a snag. They need permission from a man they have no reason to trust, and when he turns up dead, Frank finds himself accused of his murder. The victim was an actor, and I found out some very interesting things about the theater in turn of the century New York. I might have called this book Murder in Times Square, except Times Square didn’t yet exist in 1899. I might have called it Murder on Broadway, too, but Broadway wasn’t yet lined with theaters. Have you said, “I didn’t know that!” yet? I hope you’ll say it a lot as you read Murder on Union Square (which was the heart of the theater district in 1899—bet you didn’t know that!).

And I promise you won’t have to memorize a single date.

***

Victoria Thompson is the bestselling author of the Edgar ® and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series and the new Counterfeit Lady Series. Her latest books are Murder on Union Square and City of Lies, both from Berkley. She currently teaches in the Master’s Degree program for writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Finalists for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Finalists for the eighth annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction: The prize was authorized by the late Harper Lee, and established in 2011 by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction Finalists

Exposed, by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Press)
Proof, by C.E. Tobisman (Thomas & Mercer)
Testimony, by Scott Turow (Grand Central)

The award ceremony will take place on September 1 during the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

HT: J. Kingston Pierce, The Rap Sheet

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Writing


FOUR MYSTERY AUTHORS WHO KNOW THEIR PLACE: Guest Post by Steve Burrows

STEVE BURROWS: 
Four Authors Who Know their Place 

The popular adage has it that it is not the destination that is important, but the journey. A look at mystery novels, however, might suggest it’s the places through which that journey passes that make all the difference. Mystery writers know that to lose control of their characters can be catastrophic; interesting perhaps, but catastrophic nevertheless. The same is true of their plot; except in this case, it’s not even interesting, just, well, catastrophic. But settings are the one element of a mystery story a writer may allow a little free rein; to become undercoat or highlight, background or frame. Settings are where writers get to indulge themselves, too. And the best ones do.

In The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radliffe allows her settings to assume a central role. Through a chiaroscuro interplay of light and darkness descriptions emerge of classical landscapes with more moods than a troubled teenager. Omniscient and brooding, these settings are also laden with symbolism, tying the novel to contemporary theories of painting, transporting readers effortlessly between the worlds of literature and art.

Charles Dickens also revels in his settings, and again uses them to wonderful effect. Here, though, the goal is not to glide between disciplines, but to overwhelm the senses. A journey through a Dickensian city, be it Paris, London, or the fictional Cloisterham of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is to experience olfactory overload. The alleyways echo with street vendors’ calls, the gritty, coal-laden air settles on the skin, the sweetly rancid smell of rotting vegetables fills the nostrils. For Dickens, a setting is not merely a place to set a novel; it vies to become a character in its own right.

Both Radcliffe’s classical landscapes and Dickens’s Victorian cities would have been familiar to their readers, but setting in contemporary works often serves to introduce a reader to an unfamiliar world. But this doesn’t mean it can’t serve another purpose. Or several of them. In A Cold-Blooded Business, author Dana Stabenow describes Alaska’s North Slope in a few skilfully-crafted sentences that manage to cover six hundred square mile stretch of terrain, five thousand feet of geologic deposits and an overview of the local flora and fauna. Setting as geography, history and ecology, all in a couple of paragraphs. And then, there is the Gabarone of Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Here, the setting provides a gentle, lilting rhythm against which equally gentle dramas play out. The settings here are not developed in any great detail, but they seem to exist as they do in real life, hovering unnoticed in the background until a character make a specific point of visiting them; the balcony of the President Hotel, for example, where Mma Ramotswe sometimes takes her tea.

Each setting plays its part in a mystery, but there is for writers perhaps more freedom to explore the possibilities than with any other element of the story. Writers are often asked if they have advice for those new to the craft. Mine would be simple. Keep control of your characters, and even firmer control of your plot. But when it comes to your settings, be content to let them lead you where they will.

Steve Burrows is the author of The Birder Murder Mystery Series A SHIMMER OF HUMMINGBIRDS is the latest instalment, out in the US now. 

*** 
Audubon marks release of U.S. Birder Murder editions with prize giveaway.
The first four Birder Murders – with their edgy new covers – are now available in the U.S, and the Audubon Society is marking their arrival with a prize giveaway of five copies of A Shimmer of Hummingbirds,. To enter, just visit https://www.audubon.org/…/win-copy-murder-mystery….and follow the directions. The contest is open until May 21. Good luck.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2018 Derringer Award Winners

2018 Derringer Award Winners announced by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Congratulations to all!

For Best Flash (Up to 1,000 words) 

"Fishing for an Alibi" by Earl Staggs, Flash Bang Mysteries ed. Brandon Bourg (Fall 2017)
  • Finalists:

  • "Cold Turkey" by Patricia Dusenbury, Flash Bang Mysteries ed. Brandon Bourg (Summer 2017)
  • "Happy Birthday" by Alan Orloff, Shotgun Honey ed. Ron Earl Phillips (June 15, 2017)
  • "Final Testimony" by Travis Richardson, Flash Fiction Offensive ed, Hector Duarte Jr. and Rob Pierce (July 10, 2017)
  • "Flash Point" by Elizabeth Zelvin, A Twist of Noir ed. Christopher Grant (March 20, 2017)
For Best Short Story (1,001-4,000 words)

"The Cop Who Liked Gilbert and Sullivan" by Robert Lopresti, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #23, ed. Marvin Kaye, Wildside Press (October 2017)

Finalists:  
  • "The Kids Keep Coming" by David H. Hendrickson, Fiction River: Tavern Tales ed. Kerrie L. Hughes, WMG Publishing Inc. (January 2017)
  • "The New Score" by Alison McMahan, Fish Out of Water: A Guppy Anthology ed. Ramona DeFelice Long, Wildside Press (March 2017)
  • "The Bank Job" by Stephen D. Rogers, Trigger Warning Short Fiction with Pictures ed. Eric Lindbom and John Skewes (March 16, 2017)
  • "Every Picture Tells a Story" by Cathi Stoler, Where Crime Never Sleeps: Murder New York Style 4 ed. Elizabeth Zelvin, Level Best Books (September 2017)
For Best Long Story (4,001-8,000 words)  

"Death in the Serengeti" by David H. Hendrickson, Fiction River: Pulse Pounders: Andrenaline ed. Kevin J. Anderson, WMG Publishing, Inc. (July 2017)

Finalists:
  • "El Asesino" by Rusty Barnes, BULL ed. Ben Drevlow (May 22, 2017)
  • "The #2 Pencil" by Matt Coyle, Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea ed. Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks, Down & Out Books (January 2017)
  • "Matricide and Ice Cream" by William Burton McCormick, The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour ed. Martin Edwards, Orenda Books (November 2017)
  • "The Drive-By" by Alison McMahan, Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat ed. Verena Rose, Harriette Sackler, and Shawn Reilly Simmons, Level Best Books (April 2017)
For Best Novelette (8,001-20,000 words)  

"Flowing Waters" by Brendan DuBois, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine ed. Janet Hutchings, January/February 2017

Finalists:
  • "Windward" by Paul D. Marks, Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea ed. Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks, Down & Out Books (January 2017)
  • "King's Quarter" by Andrew McAleer, Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea ed. Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks, Down & Out Books (January 2017)
  • "Kill My Wife, Please" by Robert J. Randisi, Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea ed. Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks, Down & Out Books (January 2017)
  • "Trouble Like a Freight Train Coming" by Tina Whittle, Lowcountry Crime: Four Novellas ed. James M. Jackson and Jan Rubens, Wolf's Echo Press (February 2017)
Thanks to Kevin Tipple, President, Short Mystery Fiction Society

TOM WOLFE: R.I.P.

Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist and novelist whose technicolor, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, car customizers, astronauts and Manhattan’s moneyed status-seekers in works like The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, died on Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 88.

His death was confirmed by his agent, Lynn Nesbit, who said Mr. Wolfe had been hospitalized with an infection. He had lived in New York since joining The New York Herald Tribune as a reporter in 1962.

READ the NYT obituary HERE.

Cartoon of the Day: Perfect Reading Spots

From Grant Snider. What's your favorite Reading Spot?


2018 BRITISH BOOK AWARDS aka THE NIBBIES: Nominees

The 2018 British Book Awards aka The Nibbies were announced yesterday in several categories. Of interest to readers of this blog is the

Winner of the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year

The Dry by Jane Harper (Abacus)

Other nominees in the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Category

The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney (Quercus)
The Midnight Line, by Lee Child (Bantam Press)
Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough (HarperFiction)
Spook Street, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
He Said/She Said, by Erin Kelly (Mulholland)

The British Book Awards are organized by the UK magazine The Bookseller.

HT: J. Kingston Pierce's The Rap Sheet

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mystery Readers Journal: GARDENING MYSTERIES (VOLUME 34:1)

The latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal: Gardening Mysteries is now available. Check out the Table of Contents and links below. Great articles and reviews by and about your favorite authors.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to make this such a terrific issue, especially Kate Derie, Associate Editor. 

MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL: 
Gardening Mysteries (Volume 34:1)

Buy this back issue! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Meredith Phillips
  • Weeds in the Borders by Carol Harper
AUTHOR! AUTHOR!
  • Painting the Garden by Kerry J. Charles
  • Gardening and Writing: A Natural Enterprise by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Fourth-Generation Gardener by Amanda Flower
  • Mischief and Mayhem in the Garden by Rosemary Harris
  • I Wouldn’t Leave My Little Wooden Hut by Ann Granger
  • Crisis and Opportunity by Julie Wray Herman
  • Words of Green Wisdom from Mas Arai by Naomi Hirahara
  • Signs of Spring by Hart Johnson
  • Collecting the Seeds of Stories by Gin Jones
  • Mysteries Inspired by Dirty Hands by Meera Lester
  • Two-Faced Plants: Gardening, Poisons & Medicines by Linda Lovely
  • It’s Not Always Sunny in Philadelphia… by Donna Huston Murray
  • The Exploding Compost Heap by Cynthia Riggs
  • Gardening and Me by Joyce Olcese
  • A Rose Is a Rose — Unless It’s a Poison Apple by Susan C. Shea
  • How Does Your Mystery Garden Grow? by Teresa Trent
  • The Wrong Thumbs (But At Least They Can Google) by Art Taylor
  • Ode to Her Garden by Wendy Tyson
  • Volunteers of America by Nathan Walpow
  • Trees, Flowers — Murder! by Marty Wingate
COLUMNS
  • Murder in Retrospect: Reviews by L. J. Roberts and Dru Ann Love
  • The Children’s Hour: Garden Mysteries by Gay Toltl Kinman
  • In Short: Does Your Garden Grow Mysteries? by Marvin Lachman
  • Crime Seen: In the Garden Plot by Kate Derie
  • Real Gardening Crimes by Cathy Pickens
  • From the Editor’s Desk by Janet A. Rudolph

Friday, May 11, 2018

MOTHER'S DAY MYSTERIES

Mother's Day: So many Mothers in Mysteries, but the following is a sampling with emphasis on the Mother's Day Holiday. If I listed all the mysteries and crime fiction with famous and infamous mothers, the list would be way too long. This is an updated list, so let me know if I've missed any titles. Be sure and scroll down to view the Psycho Trailer with one of the most famous (infamous) 'mystery' mothers!

MOTHER'S DAY MYSTERIES

Angel at Troublesome Creek by Mignon F. Ballard
Mother's Day by Frankie Bow
How to Murder Your Mother-in-Law, Mum's the Word by Dorothy Cannell
Mother's Day Murder by Wensley Clarkson
A Holiday Sampler by Christine E. Collier
A Catered Mother's Day by Isis Crawford 
A Darkly Hidden Truth by Donna Fletcher Crow
Motherhood is Murder (Short Stories) by Mary Daheim, Carolyn Hart, Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Jane Isenberg
The Mother's Day Mishap by Kathi Daley
Murder Can Upset Your Mother by Selma Eichler
A Mother's Day Murder by Dee Ernst
Bon Bon Voyage by Nancy Fairbanks
Murder for Mother: Short Story collection, edited by Martin S. Greenberg
Murder Superior by Jane Haddam
A Gift for Mother's Day by K.C. Hardy
The Mother’s Day Murder by Lee Harris
"Pull my Paw"(short story) by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Mother's Day: A Short Story by Renée Knight  (short story)
Every Day is Mother's Day by Hilary Mantel (not exactly a mystery, but a good read)
Mother’s Day by Patricia MacDonald
Mother's Day by Dennis McDougal
Mother’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier
Mom, Apple Pie & Murder: A collection of New Mysteries for Mother’s Day, edited by Nancy Pickard
Mother's Day, Muffins, and Murder by Sara Rosett
Mother’s Day by Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla
A Mother's Day Murder by Genevieve Scholl
Mother's Day by Ron Vincent

True Crime: 
The Mother's Day Murder by Wensley Clarkson

Who's your favorite Mother in Crime Fiction?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Staying in Your Lane: Should Authors Only Write What They Know? Guest post by Stuart Neville aka Haylen Beck

Stuart Neville (aka Haylen Beck):
Staying in Your Lane: Should Authors Only Write What They Know?

If you’ve been paying attention to bookish social media lately, you’ll have noticed a topic that’s been drawing much attention: the way men write women. Although this subject has surfaced before, this particular surge was sparked by a hapless author boasting that he was living proof that a man can write a woman in an entirely convincing way. The author posted a brief excerpt from one of his own works, and it was … not good. Given that his supposedly well-drawn female character was little more than a pair of breasts perched atop a pair of skin-tight jeans, the backlash was inevitable.

But some good did come of it. The ensuing discussion went on for several days, including a flood of hilarious tweets where women described themselves as a male author would. Irish author Jane Casey’s was among the best, and most cutting. As a male author who has written several novels with female protagonists, I couldn’t help but cringe. Most writers are all too familiar with Imposter Syndrome, and my insecurities were enflamed as I wondered about my own work. While some of the sweeping generalisations bothered me, I’d like to think that anything that makes me think a little harder about my own work can only be positive.

All of this raised the question, however, of “staying in your lane”. Should an author stick with their own gender, sexual, racial, or cultural identity when writing a point-of-view character? My novel HERE AND GONE, written under the pen name of Haylen Beck, has me leaving my lane with two characters. My protagonist, Audra Kinney, is of course a woman, a mother, and a survivor of an abusive marriage. Another point-of-view character is Danny Lee, a Chinese American man from San Francisco. Neither of these characters has much in common with me, other than them both being parents. But if I only wrote characters who were like me – middle aged Irishmen with shaggy beards and questionable taste in music – then even I wouldn’t want to read my books.

The old maxim of “write what you know” doesn’t stretch very far, particularly when it comes to writing thrillers. The author must inevitably step into someone else’s shoes and we can’t constantly fall back on the default white male character. Diversity is the reality of our world and must show in our work. So how does one stray out of one’s lane with any degree of believability and sensitivity? There is only one answer, and it may be an uncomfortable one for writers used to a solitary existence: talk to people.

When it came to Audra, I didn’t have to look too far to get some insights into things like motherhood: my wife, God bless her, acts as a sounding board for me when I’m plotting and fleshing out characters. Whenever I feel I need a woman’s view on what I’m doing, she’s always there. So much so, in fact, that by the time I’ve finished a novel, she knows it as well as I do. For Danny Lee, I turned to my good friend Henry Chang, author of the excellent Chinatown Beat series of detective novels set in New York. Henry kindly helped me round out the character of Danny: who he is, how he exists in his community, and the way he sees the world. If I didn’t bring Danny convincingly to life, that is my failure, but if I did, I have Henry to thank.

The moral of all this is simply that a writer can write about any gender, sexuality, ethnicity – I could go on – they want, so long as it’s done with care and empathy. In other words, good writers write good characters. It’s really as simple as that.

***
Internationally acclaimed, prizewinning crime writer Stuart Neville’s latest novel, Here and Gone, was published in paperback by Broadway Books on May 1, 2018, under the pen name Haylen Beck. His Haylen Beck novels are set in the United States and are inspired by his love of American crime writing. The author won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. 

Scribe Award Nominees

Seems I missed the official announcement of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers' Scribe Award Nominees. Thanks to J. Kingston Pierce of The Rap Sheet for enlightening me. Of interest to mystery readers:

Don Pendleton’s The Executioner: Fatal Prescription, by Michael A. Black (Gold Eagle)
The Will to Kill, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Titan)
Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s Sonnet, by Reed Farrel Coleman (Putnam)

To read all the nominations in all categories, go Here.

The Scribe Award winners will be announced in July, at the San Diego Comic-Con International.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

ANTHONY AWARD NOMINATIONS: BOUCHERCON

ANTHONY AWARD NOMINATIONS 

The Anthony Awards are given at each annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention with the winners selected by attendees. Bouchercon is the World Mystery Convention. This year Bouchercon will take in St Petersburg, Florida, September 9-12, 2018. Winners will be announced at Bouchercon. Congratulations to all! See you in St Pete!

ANTHONY AWARD NOMINATIONS 

BEST NOVEL 
The Late Show by Michael Connelly
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
The Force by Don Winslow

BEST FIRST NOVEL 
Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
The Dry by Jane Harper
Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All by Christopher Irvin
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann
Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck
What We Reckon by Eryk Pruitt
The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day
Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin

BILL CRIDER AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL IN A SERIES 
Give Up the Dead (Jay Porter #3) by Joe Clifford
Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch #20) by Michael Connelly
Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton
Glass Houses (Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny
Dangerous Ends (Pete Fernandez #3) by Alex Segura

BEST SHORT STORY 
The Trial of Madame Pelletier by Susanna Calkins from Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical
God's Gonna Cut You Down by Jen Conley from Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash
My Side of the Matter by Hilary Davidson from Killing Malmon
Whose Wine Is It Anyway by Barb Goffman from 50 Shades of Cabernet
The Night They Burned Miss Dixie's Place by Debra Goldstein from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May/June 2017
A Necessary Ingredient by Art Taylor from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea

BEST ANTHOLOGY
Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, Joe Clifford, editor
Killing Malmon, Dan & Kate Malmon, editors
Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, Andrew McAleer & Paul D. Marks, editors
Passport to Murder, Bouchercon Anthology 2017, John McFetridge, editor
The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, Gary Phillips, editor

BEST CRITICAL/NON-FICTION BOOK
From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson
Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction by Jessica Lourey

BEST ONLINE CONTENT 
Writer Types Podcast
Do Some Damage: An Inside Look at Crime Fiction
Jungle Red Writers
Dru’s Book Musings
BOLO Books

***

About the Anthony Awards: The Anthony Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), well-known writer and critic from the New York Times, who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. Anthony Award Categories. Everyone who attends Bouchercon 2018 is eligible to vote on the Anthony Awards. Voting takes place at the convention. Yet another good reason to register now! The nominees in each of the eight categories are:

About Bouchercon: Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, is an annual convention where readers, writers, fans, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and other lovers of crime fiction gather for a 4-day weekend of education, entertainment, and fun! It is the world’s premiere event bringing together all parts of the mystery and crime fiction community, and is pronounced [bough’·chur·con].
   

Monday, May 7, 2018

Call for Articles: Spies & Secret Agents

CALL FOR ARTICLES: Spies & Secret Agents 

The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 34:2) will focus on mysteries featuring Spies & Secret Agents.

We're looking for Reviews, Articles, and Author! Author! essays.

Reviews: 50-250 words
Articles: 250-1000 words
Author! Author! essays: 500-1500 words. Author essays are first person, about yourself, your books, and the 'Spies & Secret Agents' connection. Think of it as chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe about your work and your Spies & Secret Agents connection. Add title and 2-3 sentence bio/tagline.

Deadline: June 20.
Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor. janet @ mysteryreaders . org

Please forward this request to anyone you think should be included.

SUBSCRIBE TO MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL
2018: Gardening Mysteries; Murder in the Far East; Spies & Special Agents; Crime Fiction in the American South )
Many Back Issues of Mystery Readers Journal are available as single copies in Hardcopy or PDF. 

Call for Articles for 2018 (Volume 34):
Spies & Secret Agents; Murder in the Far East; Crime Fiction in the American South);
2019: Murder Down Under.

Have titles, articles or suggestions for these upcoming issues? Want to write an Author! Author! essay? email Janet Rudolph  ( janet @ mysteryreaders . org )

Mystery Holiday Lists updated in the past month on MysteryFanfare.com:
Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Crime Fiction
Kentucky Derby Mysteries
May Day and Morris Dancing Mysteries
Bookstore Mysteries for Independent Bookstore Day
Earth Day Crime Fiction
 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Cats


Cinco de Mayo Mysteries, Mexican Crime Fiction, & Mysteries set on the Mexican-American Border

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo! Read a mystery!

The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, the 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It's primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some recognition in other parts of the Mexico, and also in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population. It's not, as many people believe, Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

I've blogged about Cinco de Mayo Mysteries before, but I think it's always good to run this post again -- with a few additions for those who missed it or won't take the extra step to click. :-)

This list is supplemented with Mexican mystery writers and books set in Mexico and on the Mexican-American border. Let me know any titles or authors you think should be included.

Add to your Cinco de Mayo reading pleasure with a Mexican Chocolate Celebration. Check out my other Blog, Dying for Chocolate, for recipes and suggestions of great Chocolate for Cinco de Mayo. Entrees, drinks and desserts and more desserts.  I've also posted several recipes for different versions of Mole Poblano and Mexican Chocolate Truffles (including Tequila Truffles).

Cinco de Mayo Mysteries:
The Cinco de Mayo Murder by Lee Harris
A Corpse for Cuamantla by Harol Marshall
Cinco de Mayo by Michael Martineck (science fiction/but cross-over)
Cinco de Mayhem by Ann Myers 
The Bane of Cinco de Mayo by Nathan S. Mitchell
The Cinco de Mayo Reckoning by Terry Money

And a few Mexican crime writers who set their mysteries in Mexico but not on Cinco de Mayo. They have not all been translated into English.

Mexican Crime Writers:
Paco Ignacio Taibo II The Uncomfortable Dead (and numerous other novels)
Eduardo Monteverde
Juan Hernandez Luna
Martin Solares
Elmer Mendoza
Rolo Diez
Juan Hernandez Luna
Yuri Herrera

Hardboiled Fiction on the Mexican-AmericanF rontier: 
Gabriel Trujillo Munoz-known for his science fiction and literary criticism, also writes detective fiction: Mesquite Road, Tijuana City Blues
Carlos Fuentes: Cabeza de la Hidra (The Hydra Head)
Joaquin Guerrero-Casaola: The Law of the Garrotte
Sam Hawken: The Dead Women of Juarez; Tequila Sunset
Rolando Hinojosa: Partners in Crime, Ask a Policeman
Elmer Mendoza: Silver Bullets
Don Winslow: The Cartel; The Power of the Dog

Other Crime Fiction set in Mexico
Rafael Bernal: The Mongolian Conspiracy
Lili Wright: Dancing with the Tiger

Want to find out more?

Read G.J. Demko's Landscapes of Crime: Mysteries in Mexico
Read Lucha Corpi's: La Bloga on Chicana Crime Fiction: Where to?
Read an essay by Jennifer Insley "Border criminals, border crime: hard-boiled fiction on the American Frontier in Confluencia: Revista Hispanica de Cultura y Literatura

YA Literature? You Don't Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens, edited by Sarah Cortez (Arte Publico Press)

Interested in Crime for the Holidays? Check out Mystery Readers Journal, Volume 25:1.

And a fun fact: Five most popular Tequilas in the U.S.
1. Jose Cuervo
2. Patron
3. Sauza
4. Herradura
5. Cabo Wabo

And, here's one of my favorite roses: Cinco de Mayo! a repeat bloomer with a unique shape, color, and scent!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Books


2018 SPOTTED OWL AWARD WINNER

The Friends of Mystery announced the 2018 Spotted Owl Award Winner 

Ingrid Thoft for Duplicity

Other Finalists
  • Robert Dugoni for Close to Home
  • Matthew Sullivan for Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
  • Mike Lawson for K Street
  • G.M. Ford for Family Values
  • Rene Denfeld for The Child Finder
  • Martin Limon for The Nine-Tailed Fox
  • Michael Niemann for Illicit Trade
  • Lisa Alber for Path into Darkness
  • Warren Easley for Blood for Wine
  • Stephen Holgate for Tangier
The Spotted Owl is chosen by a volunteer committee of Friends of Mystery members, and is announced in the spring of the year. For a book to be considered for the Spotted Owl Award: The author must have primary residence in the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho or the Province of British Columbia. The mystery is published in the current calendar year.

Is Anything Mysterious Anymore? Guest post by Derek B. Miller

Today I welcome back Derek B. Miller, author of Norwegian By Night, The Girl in Green,  and American by Day.

DEREK B. MILLER:
Is Anything Mysterious Anymore?

I remember when the children opened the wardrobe and found Narnia inside. At the time, and for me, it was beyond imagining what they might find there. I was not reading a story when that happened; I was not entering into someone else's imagination or following a plot that already existed (or, worse, had been read by someone else). I was simply inside Narnia. Being inside Narnia was specific to the story, but the sense of being disembodied and reconstituted in another place — another life — was an instance of what John Gardner called "the fictional dream." The ink, the paper, the words, the gravity … these things all fell away. I was complete and entire and I was there.

The wonder could come from even more modest stories. I remember Bears in the Night — a book with only some twenty five repeated words — and I still remember how outrageous it was that the first bear actually went down the tree in search of that sound out in the woods. That yellow lantern in the woods would symbolize, for me, the ultimate fortitude in facing the unknown.

What I learned from all this, and understand now in a more reflective way, is that there is magic in the world, and some of it is the product of two minds working together — a writer and a reader — to create something neither one could have created alone. That fictional dream is, and must be, a co-production — a co-creation— and is, moreover, one that can never be truly shared. It exists and doesn't exist. It is mutual and solitary. It is social and personal. It embodies a duality on almost every level, and if that isn't magical I don't know what is.

True, I was a child then. These were children's stories. We can chalk up these magical experiences to youth, on the one hand, and the wistfulness of an adult looking back on that youth. And yet.

Even as an adult I can still fall into that fictional dream when I read something exceptional. Sometimes I can do it while writing because I'm a novelist. I still search — and not in vain — for moments of wonder in science fiction, or fantasy, or contemporary fiction.

When I say, "moments of wonder" I am evoking the wardrobe moment. Not only the surprise, but the full loss of one's self into the story. Sometimes, when I'm feeling cynical about the world myself, I think that some writers (and, heaven forbid), some readers have given up on that and have decided to settle; settle for stories that "twist" or narrators who "lie" or thrillers that "shock."

According to back cover of every commercial crime, mystery, or thriller these days, there is someone writing with exclamation points and saying, "lies to you from beginning to end!" whereas the thrillers "slam your head against a wall and leave you for dead!" Apparently — if sales are an indication – people are happy to plunk down their twelve bucks for that. Part of me has to wonder, though: Isn't all of that just a cheap stand-in for the magic? Or is it because we have given up on the magic because nothing is really mysterious anymore?

It used to be that everything was mysterious. Mary Shelley was in Geneva, where I lived for over a decade. She visited Chamonix in France and saw the glaciers there and Monte Blanc; a mountain I have climbed to the top and a glacier I have skied to the bottom. Coming from England, she had never seen anything like that. When Frankenstein chased his monster across the north pole, it was Chamonix she had in mind, and when her readers experienced that, it became the North Pole — a place no one had ever been to in 1818, and wouldn't until about 1908. And even then, how many people would see pictures? That took decades more. Today we can find a picture in seconds.

To Europeans, Africa and the Middle East and Asia were mysterious. The naivety and the ignorance had political ramifications, but it also created new literary possibilities. But of course, that was a two-way street. I toured the Pentagon once, and the tour guide said that in Vietnam, black American soldiers who were POWs were subjected to torture with steel wool and bushes because the Vietnamese were convinced their skin was dyed to make them better camouflaged in the war. They had never seen people of African heritage before.

Once, we were all discovering one another. Now we can Skype to friends or family in Japan, or Chili, or Cameroon on a whim. We still don't all understand one another very well, and our cultural differences remain significant and vibrant, but our friends can flip the cameras around and give us a tour of the neighborhood so we can gain some measure of insight into that.

I'm increasingly of the opinion, as I consider technology and our growing encounters with the world, that the mystery of discovery is giving way to what I think of as the mystery of understanding.

Today, we can observe almost anything. And yet, what do we understand about the world around us? The anthropologist Clifford Geertz once said the purpose of anthropology was to "reduce the puzzlement" of inter-cultural encounter. We needed to reduce it because it was inherent and real and there; because, at a very fundamental level, we didn't understand what people took to be the meaning of what they were doing. We could observe the dancing, or the voting, or the wars, but we could only surmise at the "why." I would say we still don't understand and the puzzlement is increasing because the rate of encounter exceeds our rate of learning.

For some writers and some readers, there will be a tendency to re-trench. To try and go back to the provincial and familiar and find something new there through intensity if not necessarily imagination: more violence, more sadism, more lies, more thrills, more twists and turns in ever-complex plots. The same-old same-old but on steroids. For me, though, I want something more. I want the wonderment. I want the fictional dream. And that direction — at least for me and my sensibilities and curiosities — isn't where I'm going to find it.

What I now think is that, if the mystery of discovery is fading away, then the mystery of puzzlement is what might take its place; a mystery to unravel, and untangle, and try to reach new understandings of brave new worlds that are visible but inexplicable, thereby opening space for exciting and new literary possibilities — new mysteries to solve. The genre, in other words, has a chance to radically grow and evolve. Unless, of course, if decides to cower and flee.

Today, with technology, the wardrobe is becoming real. We can almost literally step through it. If we have the courage to do that and seek new stories and take new risks and ask new questions, as writers and readers, what we might find on the other side could be the greatest mystery of them all.

***

DEREK B. MILLER has worked on international peace and security for think tanks, diplomatic missions, and the United Nations. He is the author of Norwegian by Night, which won the Crime Writers' Association's John Creasey Dagger Award, and The Girl in Green, which was long-listed for the Gold Dagger. His latest novel is AMERICAN BY DAY.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Midsomer Murders, Series 20, US Premiere Today on AcornTV

In a May surprise for British mystery fans, Acorn TV announced today’s U.S. Premiere of the 20th season of one of the longest running and most popular series in British television history. Midsomer Murders, Series 20 is now available to subscribers.

The 20th Season of the smash hit series features six brand-new feature-length mysteries: The Ghost of Causton Abbey, Death of the Small Coppers, Drawing Dead, The Lions of Causton, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, and Send in the Clowns. Earlier today, Acorn TV received the go ahead to premiere the series as soon as possible, so they added it immediately for fans to enjoy.


Called “Phenomenally enjoyable… this show has only gotten better and better through the years” (Paper magazine) and easily one of the world’s most popular detective series, Midsomer Murders has entertained audiences for more than two decades. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the ongoing series stars Neil Dudgeon as Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby. Homicide, blackmail, greed, and betrayal are just a taste of what goes on behind the well-trimmed hedges of Midsomer County.

Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and Detective Sergeant Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix, The Crown, Marcella) investigate the cozy villages of Midsomer’s most sinister secrets. Called a “glorious streaming service… an essential must-have” (The Hollywood Reporter), Acorn TV is North America’s most popular streaming service focused on British and international television from RLJ Entertainment (NASDAQ: RLJE).

Episodes:
The Ghost of Causton Abbey: Causton is buzzing at the opening of a new brewery on the site of a famously cursed Abbey. But excitement turns to fear when a man is found boiled to death in one of the vats.

Death of the Small Coppers: When a butterfly collector and founding member of an elite IQ society is found murdered, DCI Barnaby and DS Winter are thrust into a crime that impacts not only on their community, but internationally.

Drawing Dead: Carver Valley’s comic festival is in full swing when the village is shocked by the murder of a former supermodel. With a scathing comic shaming several villagers as the only lead, Barnaby and Winter are left trying to separate fact from fiction.
The Lions of Causton: Barnaby gets to relive his former days of sporting glory when a death at the local Rugby Club sends Barnaby and Winter into a muddle of rucks and old grudges.

‘Til Death Do Us Part: Barnaby is less than impressed when Sarah drags him to a family friend’s wedding. But things soon go from bad to worse when tragedy strikes, and Barnaby is called into action to catch a murderer with an apparent penchant for local brides.

Send in the Clowns: Things take a gruesome turn when the circus comes to town, bringing with it a chain of sinister clown sightings, threatening notes and deathly dangerous circus acts.