Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What is Aunt Agatha Reading?

Stuart Neville's brilliant debut, The Ghosts of Belfast, was the winner of the Los Angeles Times book prize for best crime fiction in 2009. His follow-up novel, Collusion, is another stunning thriller set in Northern Ireland, a country where the effects of past terrors still reverberate. 

According to the publishers:
When Detective Inspector Jack Lennon tries to track down his former lover Marie McKenna and their daughter, his superiors tell him to back off.  But now an assassin stalks Belfast, tying up loose ends for a vengeance-driven old man.  As Lennon unravels a conspiracy that links his daughter to a killer named Fegan, the line between friend and enemy blurs.

This violent tale of revenge and redemption is very well-written.  Neville's characters, all skillfully developed, will grip you from the opening scene.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Books for the New Year

Here is a selection of new hardcover mysteries scheduled for a January release.  It looks like a little something for everyone's taste.

  • Madelyn Alt -- Home for a Spell: a Bewitching Mystery
  • Quentin Bates -- Frozen Assets: Introducing the Gunnhilder Mystery Series set in Iceland
  • Mary Jane Clark -- To Have and To Kill:  a Wedding Cake Mystery
  • Blaize Clement -- Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons:  a Dixie Hemingway Mystery
  • Robert Crais -- The Sentry:  a Joe Pike novel
  • Wessel Ebersohn -- The October Killings
  • Kim Edwards -- The Lake of Dreams
  • Lee Goldberg -- Mr. Monk on the Road
  • Ellie Griffiths -- The Janus Stone
  • Parnell Hall -- The Kenken Killings
  • Peter Helton -- Falling More Slowly:  Introducing Detective Inspector Liam McLusky
  • Jack Higgins -- The Judas Gate
  • Steve Hockensmith -- World's Greatest Sleuth!  A Holmes on the Range Mystery
  • Erin Kelly -- The Poison Tree
  • Michael Koryta -- The Cypress House
  • John Lescroart -- Damage
  • Brad Meltzer -- The Inner Circle
  • Bradford Morrow -- The Diviners Tale
  • T. Jefferson Parker -- The Border Lords: a Charlie Hood novel
  • Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom -- Three Seconds
  • Jed Rubenfeld -- The Death Instinct
  • C.J. Sansom -- The Heartstone:  a Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery
  • Wallace Stroby -- Cold Shot to the Heart
  • Andrew Taylor -- The Anatomy of Ghosts
  • Charles Todd -- A Lonely Death: an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
  • Jill Paton Walsh -- The Attenbury Emeralds:  the New Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Mystery

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Aunt Agatha wishes you a very Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rescuing Harry Bosch from Hollywood Development Hell

Back in March I posted about Michael Connelly's lawsuit against Paramount Pictures over a 1995 option deal for his first two books, Black Ice and Black Echo.  The studio never developed either book, and worst of all, Connelly had given Paramount ownership of the Harry Bosch character, so none of the other books in the series could be filmed.

Hollywood Deadline reports that Connelly and Paramount settled in October before the lawsuit went to trial.  Read the entire article here.

Writers often dream that Hollywood will option their novel.  When that does happen, sometimes it's a dream come true, sometimes it's a nightmare.  Thankfully, Harry Bosch has been released from "development hell," leaving the door open for Connelly to pursue other options.  Perhaps we'll be seeing Bosch in his own television series one day.  Now that would be a dream come true for Bosch fans!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ten Strange-But-True Christmas Crimes

Here's an interesting post from Criminal Justice Degrees Guide Blog.  We all know the holidays are high crime times -- law enforcement continues to warn shoppers to safeguard their purchases and be vigilant during the holidays.  But these stories just go to show that truth is very often stranger than fiction!

Read the entire post here:
1.  Stolen Baby Jesus
2.  Wal-Mart Stampede
3.  Stolen Christmas Trees
4.  Drunken Parade Float Driving
5.  Nativity Scene Vandalism
6.  Frosty Stabbing
7.  Christmas Tree Cannabis
8.  Cannabis Christmas Card
9.  Naughty Santa Claus
10. The Santa Claus Bandit

I'd say there going to be a lot of stockings with lumps of coal this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe...Detective?

Well, this certainly looks interesting!  The Huffington Post reports that John Cusak is portraying Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven, a psychological thriller expected out next year.  The film is a fictionalized account of Poe's last days of life as he searches for a serial killer whose murders mirror those in his stories.  Directed by James McTeigue from a screenplay by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aunt Agatha's Holiday Homicide

Here is a selection of my favorite crime for the holidays.  The list is by no means comprehensive, but a fun selection nonetheless. So curl up with a cup of cocoa and enjoy!

Aunt Dimity's Christmas by Nancy Atherton
Ben Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder by Robert Lee Hall
The Body in the Sleigh by Katherine Hall Page
Candy Cane Murder, novellas by Joanna Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier
Cat Crimes for the Holidays, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Ed Gorman, and Larry Segriff
Cat Deck the Halls: a Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
A Cat on Jingle Bell Rock by Lydia Adamson
A Catered Christmas: a Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford
A Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry
Christmas Cookie Murder by Leslie Meier
The Chrismas Crimes at Puzzel Manor by Simon Brett
The Christmas Garden Affair by Ann Ripley
Classic Christmas Crime edited by Tim Heald
A Cold Christmas by Charlene Weir
The Con Artist of Catalina Island by Jennifer Colt
Corpus Christmas by Margaret Maron
A Crossworder's Gift by Nero Blanc
Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark
The Dons and Mr. Dickens: the Strange Case of the Oxford Christmas Plot by William J. Palmer
Frost at Christmas by R.D, Wingfield
Hard Christmas: a Cat Marsala Mystery by Barbara D"Amato
A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton
Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle
Holmes for the Holidays edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg, and Carol-Lynn Waugh
Inspector Proby's Christmas by John Gano
Kissing Christmas Goodbye: an Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton
A Kudzu Christmas: Twelve Mysterious Tales edited by Jim Gilbert & Gail Waller
The Last Noel by Heather Graham
Mad as the Dickens by Toni L.P. Kelner
Merry, Merry Ghost by Carolyn Hart
The Midnight Before Christmas by William Bernhardt
A Midnight Clear by Kathy Hogan Trocheck
Mistletoe and Murder by Carola Dunn
More Holmes for the Holidays edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg, and Carol-Lynn Waugh
Murder for Christmas edited by Thomas Godfrey
Murder for Christmas and Three Other Great Mysteries by Agatha Christie
Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
The Queene's Christmas by Karen Harper
A Rumpole Chrismas by John Mortimer
Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins Clark
Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris
Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews
Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson
The Twelve Deaths of Christmas by Marian Babson
A Wee Christmas Homicide by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Monday, December 6, 2010

What's YOUR "Comfort Book?"

I always keep the mailbox under surveillance whenever the latest issue of Mystery Scene Magazine is due.  I LOVE that magazine! (A totally unsolicited hint to Santas:  a subscription to this terrific magazine is a the perfect gift for all the mystery lovers in your life!).  I devour the magazine like a box of chocolates, one tasty piece at a time.

This is the season when we all crave comfort food -- left-over turkey sandwiches, Christmas cookies, pumpkin pie.  But where do you go when you need to shore up sagging spirits?  Where do you go for your "Comfort Books?"

 In the current Holiday 2010 issue of Mystery Scene there is a delightful article, "Take Comfort Here" by Carolyn Hart (author of the "Death on Demand" and "Bailey Ruth" series of mysteries).  Hart reminds us of the restorative nature of mystery books, especially in troubled times. Unlike everyday life, mysteries identify the hero and villain and goodness (almost) always triumphs in the end.  The magazine goes on to offer some recommendation from writers on their favorite books for hard times.  Dana Stabenow chose Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart as the book she's most drawn to on those cold, winter nights.

I was immediately reminded of my teenage self, lo those many (well, maybe not THAT many) years ago.  I read and re-read Mary Stewart throughout those turbulent times and was taken away to romantic locales, with handsome heroes and resourceful heroines.  Madam, Will You Talk? was Mary Stewart's first novel published in 1955 and this born storyteller went on to publish a string of romantic suspense books -- and I loved every single one.  The Moonspinners was a particular favorite, but then This Rough Magic was, well, magical.  I recently re-read Madam, Will You Talk? and it holds up remarkably well for a book that's 55 years old.  Of course, good storytelling is timeless.  If you have never read Mary Stewart, go ahead and treat yourself.

What other authors do I go to for "comfort" these days?  M.C. Beaton  instantly comes to mind, as well as Carolyn Hart, Rhys Bowen, and Deborah Crombie.  I asked around the library for other comfort reads and the Library Director is partial to Janet Evanovich and J.D. Robb.  Other recommended comfort reads include Tami Hoag, CJ Box, Craig Johnson, and JA Jance.

So, what books do you go to when you're feeling blue?  What's your "Comfort Book?"

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Wild Ride on the Streets of San Francisco

If you ever wondered why the streets of San Francisco are home to so many great crime films, here's the reason.  This fantastic homage to San Franciso's mysterious side was put together by Serena Bramble.  The film, "San Francisco is the Scene of a Perfect Crime," was shown at the opening ceremonies of Bouchercon back in October.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

While Aunt Agatha was on vacation

I hope all  you turkey-eaters had a great holiday weekend.  There's nothing like a little time off to recharge the batteries and catch up on your movie and reading lists.  As we rush full-speed to the end of the year and all that entails, it's time to start thinking about  the great crime novels we saw over 2010 and look forward to upcoming releases.

Aunt Agatha will pull together her list of top ten 2010 mysteries in an upcoming post.  In the meantime, check out the trailer for the film adaptation of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer due out March 18, 2011. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Aunt Agatha is Reading

Aunt Agatha is currently reading Arnaldur Indridason's latest crime novel, Hypothermia.  Not having read the previous five in the series, it's still been interesting to delve into this powerful, psychological thriller by Iceland's premier novelist.  Series hero, Reykjavik police detective Erlendur is investigating an apparent suicide of a young woman, although there has been no evidence of foul play.  He's also trying to solve two cold cases three decades old.  In a way, Hypothermia is a ghost story, a haunting exploration of life, death, and  tragedy's painful grip on the living.  As Erlendur continues his investigations, he must face his own ghosts -- a failed marriage, his rocky relationship with his children, and the memory of his brother's death in a blizzard that Erlendur barely survived. Hypothermia is a compelling read  by an amazing storyteller.

Here are some more hot authors from the frozen north:
Karin Fossum (the Queen of Crime in Norway) -- The Water's Edge
Anne Holt (Norway) -- What Never Happens
Henning Mankell (Sweden) -- The Man from Beijing
Jo Nesbo (Norway) -- The Devil's Star 
Hakan Nesser (Sweden) -- Woman with Birthmark: an Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery
James Thompson (American-born, living in Finland) -- Snow Angels  (first thriller in a new series)

FYI: Jo Nesbo's internationally acclaimed Detective Harry Hole is going Hollywood!  Working Title Films landed the film rights to #7 in the series, The Snowman.  Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce, Nesbo and his agent will be Executive Producers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Hot in Nordic Noir?

Maybe it was the blockbuster success of Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy, starting with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Then there was the popular PBS series featuring Henning Mankell's Wallander novels.  Now over the past year, "Nordic Noir" has become big business.  Publishers are looking for the next Steig Larsson and many of the excellent Scandinavian crime novelists are being translated for American consumption.

A worthy successor to Larsson is coming to our shores on January 4, 2011.  Three Seconds by Roslund and Hellström won the Swedish Crime Novel of the year in 2009 and was #1 on the bestseller's list there.  According to the publisher:

Dark, suspenseful, and more riveting than any thriller at the local cineplex, THREE SECONDS is the latest novel from best-selling Swedish duo Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström -- heirs apparent to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell as the masters of Scandinavian crime.

Piet Hoffman, a top secret operative for the Swedish police, is about to embark on his most dangerous assignment yet: after years spent infiltrating the Polish mafia, he's become a key player in their attempt to take over amphetamine distribution inside Sweden's prisons. To stop them from succeeding, he will have to go deep cover, posing as a prisoner inside the country's most notorious jail.

But when a botched drug deal involving Hoffman results in a murder, the investigation is assigned to the brilliant but haunted Detective Inspector Ewert Grens--a man who never gives up until he's cracked the case. Grens's determination to find the killer not only threatens to expose Hoffman's true identity-it may reveal even bigger crimes involving the highest levels of power. And there are people who will do anything to stop him from discovering the truth.

Be on the lookout for Three Seconds!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Rabbit Factory Adapted for TNT Series

According to Deadline/Hollywood, Marshall Karp's The Rabbit Factory is being adapted for a series pilot to air on TNT.  It's reported that Steven Weber and D.L. Hughley have been signed to star in the pilot.  Allan Loeb (New Amsterdam, The Beast) wrote the screenplay.

The introduction of LAPD detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs in The Rabbit Factory is both hilarious and suspenseful.  The two are called in to investigate the brutal murder of the actor portraying Rambunctious Rabbit, the mascot of Lamaar Studio's Familyland theme park.  What should have been the happiest place on the planet is rocked by two more brutal murders.  How can Lomax and Biggs keep the investigation discrete?  The partners uncover a conspiracy to destroy one of the country's largest entertainment conglomerates.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Sherlockian Addendum

After you've had a chance to read Graham Moore's The Sherlockian, you might feel the need to return to the source material.  Both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker play major roles in Moore's debut novel.  While their characters have taken on lives of their own, few people today know much about Conan Doyle and Stoker or the backstories to their greatest creations.

Leslie S. Klinger at the Burbank Library
An excellent place to dive into the Holmes canon is with The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes edited by Leslie S. Klinger.  The two volume set of the complete short stories and the one volume containing the novels are wonderful editions, to be thoroughly enjoyed whether you are a true Sherlockian or a newbie. 

Mr. Klinger has also published The New Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker, a maginficent volume brilliantly illustrated.  Everyone must know the story of the infamous Transylvanian count from the myriad of films and other media  representations.  But how many have actually read Stoker's book?  If you fall into that category, The New Annotated Dracula is the way to go.

Moore acknowledges Les Klinger's expertise and invaluable assistance in the Author's Note at the end of his book.  As an aside, the Burbank Public Library was fortunate host Mr. Klinger on several occasions for author talks and it is always a great pleasure.  Les Klinger was also a consultant on the latest Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey, Jr. and continues with the upcoming sequel.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Irresistible Sherlock Holmes

 When Arthur Conan Doyle decided to kill off his greatest creation in 1893, Sherlock Holmes fans revolted.  To say that Londoners were quite upset would be putting it mildly.  The London Times even proclaimed  "Famed Detective Perishes!" So what did Conan Doyle do during that period between Holmes' fatal plunge over the Reichenbach Falls and his detective's  return in The Hound of the Baskervilles?

Graham Moore's clever debut novel, The Sherlockian, takes that question and turns it into the foundation of a delightful literary intrigue intertwining two centuries and two storylines.  While Arthur Conan Doyle took great glee in the demise of his fictional detective, he was not prepared for the depth of outrage felt by the reading public.  As a result of a letter bomb in his mailbox, he soon becomes involved in a real crime. Investigating a series of murders with his close friend, Bram Stoker, Conan Doyle documents the search in his journal which later mysteriously disappears.

The prestigious group of Sherlock Holmes aficionados, the Baker Street Irregulars, convenes in present-day New York for their annual dinner.  Scholar Alex Cale electrifies his colleagues with the announcement that he's discovered the missing Conan Doyle journal.  Before he can make his presentation, however, Cale turns up murdered in his hotel room and the journal is missing once again.  Twenty-something researcher Harold White slaps on his deerstalker hat and proceeds to track down the murderer with true Sherlockian zeal.

I must say I enjoyed The Sherlockian tremendously.  Graham Moore does for Sherlock what Jennifer Lee Carrell did for Shakespeare in Interred with Their Bones.  If you enjoy a literary puzzle, be sure to get your hands on The Sherlockian.  Published by Twelve, the book is being released December 1st.  Check out Graham Moore's The Sherlockian blog for more information and interesting links.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New to the Mystery Shelves

Are you in the mood for a haunting tale of Hollywood noir?  Jeff Sherratt has just released Detour to Murder: a Film Noir Mystery.  The latest in his Jimmy O'Brien series is already generating a buzz.  The book has been listed on the International Thriller Writers' Picks of the Month for October. 

In 1945, the semi-nude body of a woman is found in a two-bit motel, a telephone cord wrapped around her throat.  The stolen car of a murdered motorist is parked in the motel parking lot, the owner lying broken and dead on the side of an Arizona highway.

Al Roberts confesses and has spent the last 29 years in prison.  Now, nearly three decades after meekly confessing, the aged Roberts swears his innocence.

Jimmy O'Brien, defense attorney to the dregs of the criminal world, must find our why.  Why did Roberts give a false confession?  And why has he waited 29 years to tell the truth?  O'Brien digs into the past, igniting a powder-keg that threatens to expose the long-held secrets behind Detour, the iconic Hollywood film documenting Roberts' story -- secrets that could destroy the underground aristocracy that has held power in Los Angeles, city of broken dreams, for years.

Check out the trailer for the 1945 film:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Halloween Sampler

I have to say that Halloween is my most favorite holiday.  Maybe it stems from a childhood spent watching all those classic horror movies on TV.  Having grown up on Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and other haunted characters no doubt had an dark influence on my reading selections.  So in keeping with the holiday spirits, here is a selection of stories for that next dark and stormy night.

Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell
Death by Horoscope -- a collection of tales edited by Anne Perry
Witch Hunt by Shirley Damsgaard
Blackwork by Monica Ferris
Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
The Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard
Ghost a la Mode:  a Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Salem's Lot by Stephen King
The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
The Wolfman by Nicholas Pekearo
Dracula: the Un-dead by Dacre Stoker

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blooming Murder Mysteries -- Unpotted

 Why does florist Abby Knight keep finding corpses? If you are a fan of cozy mysteries, you may want to pursue this question with  Dirty Rotten Tendrils, the 10th Flower Shop Mystery, that hit the bookstores on October 5th.

Without coming straight out and interrogating author Kate Collins, it did occur to me that Kate’s fellow authors on the Cozy Chicks blog might be forthcoming with details about Abby Knight and Kate Collins. Here’s what Deb Baker, Maggie Sefton, JB Stanley, Heather Webber, Lorna Barrett, and Leann Sweeney had to say. We begin with the most pressing query and phrase it as delicately as possible.

Ten-plus murders! Ten! That’s an awful lot of bodies surrounding florist Abby Knight. And in Shoots to Kill, she’s even arrested for murder on page one! She admits to having a short fuse. Is Abby really so unlucky, or is author Kate Collins trying to cover up her protagonist’s nefarious past?

From Leann Sweeney: Unlucky? No. Who wouldn't want a smart, curious, intuitive woman ready to step in and solve a murder? We all have things we like to do besides work at the day job. Like quilting or painting or gardening or catching murderers.

Abby Knight is both a florist and a crusader. Her mother teaches kindergarten and engages in a long list of creative endeavors, such as making designer candy. Are energetic, multi-tasking women like these purely fiction? And what exactly is a Dancing Naked Monkey table, one of Maureen Knight’s many creations?

From Maggie Sefton:  Abby Knight delights readers with her creativity, her crusading spirit, and her tenacity in finding clues and figuring out murders.  She may even take after her energetic, multi-tasking, and creative mother, Maureen.  As for the Dancing naked Monkey table?  Maureen really knows.

Abby's fiance, ex-Army Ranger Marco is described as tough and sensitive--a man who could cook up an omelet and take down a killer in the same day.  The couple has already called it quits once.  Any guesses on whether we'll hear wedding bells in the future?

From Lorna Barrett/Lorraine Bartlett:  Does this give you a clue:  Dum dum de dum.  dum dum de dum.  Dumm dum de dum dum de dum dum de dum.  (And Abby's had the wedding flowers designed for ages.)

This is just between friends, and I'm not asking because I'm jealous (my thumb is a distinct shade of brown), but is author Kate Collins actualy good with plants?

From Deb Baker/Hannah Reed:  Kate is the queen of green thumbs and can dish dirt better than anyone else!  Uh, I mean, mix dirt.

Abby seems a little self-conscious that she flunked out of law school.  What advice would you give her to help get her over her perceived failure?

From JB Stanley/Ellery Adams:  I'd tell Abby that when one door closes, another opens.  After all, if she hadn't flunked out of law school, how could she have become the engaging sleuth and skilled florist that we all know and love?  Her "failure" has become a source of delight and enjoyment for readers across the globe!

For readers who haven't enjoyed the florist Shop Mysteries, can they jump right in with book #10?  And what kind of read can they expect?

From Heather Webber:  As with all Kate's books, Dirty Rotten Tendrils is filled with humor, fantastic characters, twisty-turny plots, a bit of romance, and a warmth that's just Kate's natural voice.  You absolutely don't have to start at the beginning of the series to enjoy Kate's books.  Jump right in with Dirty Rotten Tendrils, and then once Kate has you hooked (and she will), go back and fall in love with the rest of the Flower Shop Mysteries.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ten Crime Novels You Must Read Before You Die

Declan Hughes
One of the hardest decisions you have to make at Bouchercon is...which of the many fascinating and stimulating panels are you going to attend.  This one was a no-brainer.  I had discovered and enjoyed the novels of Declan Hughes and he was one of the authors I intended to see at last week's mystery convention.  So of course I made my way to a lunchtime panel with Hughes and  Irish novelist John Connolly to hear their top ten list of crime novels.

Declan Hughes is the author of the Ed Loy PI series that started with The Wrong Kind of Blood (winner of the Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel).  His most recent is City of Lost Girls.  Hughes is also an award winning playwright and screenwriter.  John Connolly was born in Dublin.  His first novel, Every Dead Thing, was published in 1999 and introduced Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter.  His latest Charlie Parker novel is The Whisperers
  1. The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett (closely tied with his Red Harvest)
  2. The Long Good bye by Raymond Chandler (tied with The Big Sleep)
  3. The Chill by Ross Macdonald
  4. Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
  5. Anything by Ed McBain (such as Cop Hater or Fuzz)
  6. Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins
  7. Any of the books by James Lee Burke
  8. Stranger in My Grave by Margaret Millar
  9. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
  10. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Monday, October 18, 2010

Award Winning Mysteries

I'm back from Bouchercon with stacks of books to read, new authors to pursue, and lots of great memories!  One of the best things about these conferences is the opportunity to meet favorite authors face to face, perhaps have a little chat.  It's all good!  In upcoming posts I'll share some of the discoveries I made at the convention, including a new book I'm currently reading -- and loving!

Here are three of the awards announced at the convention.  All the nominated books are winners, but when titles pop up on several lists and win numerous awards, one must sit up an take notice. 

BARRY AWARD (voted on by readers of Deadly Pleasures Magazine)
Best Novel:  The Last Child by John Hart
Best First Novel:  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Best British Novel:  If the Dead Rise Not by Philip Kerr
Best Paperback Original:  Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
Best Thriller:  Runnng from the Devil by Jamie Freveletti
Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade:  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Best Short Story:  "The High House Writer" by Brendan DuBois (AHMM, July/August)

MACAVITY AWARD (nominated and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International)
Best Mystery Novel:  Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman
Best First Mystery Novel:  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Best Mystery Non-Fiction: Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
Best Mystery Short Story:  "On the House" (Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers) by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Sue Feder Historical Mystery:  A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

Best Novel:  The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Best First Novel:  A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
Best Short Story:  "On the House" (Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers) by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Best Paperback Original:  Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
Best Critical Non-fiction:  Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Poacher's Son [guest review]

As a long time fan of mystery novels, I’m always thrilled to discover a new author. I recently had the pleasure to read The Poacher’s Son, an impressive mystery series debut by journalist Paul Doiron. The story is set in the woods of Maine where main character Mike Bowditch is a rookie game warden. Bowditch’s life and career are turned upside down when his father Jack, a notorious poacher, is accused of murder. Doiron blends mystery, outdoor adventure and a story about personal relationships to create a page turner that has received rave reviews. I highly recommend The Poacher’s Son, especially to readers who enjoy authors like Nevada Barr or C. J. Box. Paul Doiron is definitely an author to watch and I'm looking forward to reading future books in the Mike Bowditch series.

Thanks to Patrice for the review.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bouchercon By the Bay

This year's world mystery convention, Bouchercon, is being held in San Francisco, Sam Spade's old stomping grounds.  And for the first time, I will be going to this prestigious gathering, something I've always wanted to do.  Named for Anthony Boucher, one of the founders of Mystery Writers of America, this convention will be well represented by mystery authors both domestic and international.  Check here for a list of attendees.

Several mystery awards will be announced during the convention.  How many have you read this year?

Best Novel
The Last Child by John Hart
The Mystic Arts of Erasing all Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan

Best First Novel
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

Best Paperback Original
Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman
Quarry in the Middle by Max Allan Collins
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
Death and the Lit Chick by G.M. Malliet
Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Short Story
"Last Fair Deal Gone Down" by Ace Atkins, Crossroad Blues
"Femme Sole" by Dana Cameron, Boston Noir
"Animal Rescue" by Dennis Lehane, Boston Noir
"On the House" by Hank Phillipi Ryan, Quarry
"Amapola" by Luis Alberto Urrea, Phoenix Noir

Best Critical Non-Fiction Work
Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
The Lineup:  The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives by Otto Penzler, ed.
Haunted Heart:  The Life and Times of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak
Dame Agatha's Shorts:  An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion by Elena Santangelo
The Talented Miss Highsmith:  The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

2010 BARRY AWARD NOMINEES (from Deadly Pleasures Magazine)
Best Novel
The Gates by John Connolly
The Hidden Man by David Ellis
Spade & Archer by Joe Gores
The Last Child by John Hart
Locked In by Marcia Muller
Shangai Moon by S.J. Rozan

Best First Novel
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

Best British Novel
Awakening by S.J. Bolton
The Lovers by John Connolly
Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill
If the Dead Rise Not by Philip Kerr
Still Midnight by Denise Mina
Ignorance of Blood by Robert Wilson

Best Paperback Original
Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
Quarry in the Middle by Max Allan Collins
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gutenkauf
Fatal Lies by Frank Tallis
The Herring-Seller's Apprentice by L.C. Tyler

Best Thriller
No Survivors by Tom Cain
Running fro the Devil by Jamie Freveletti
The Gray Man by Mark Greaney
Columbus by Derek Haas
House Secrets by Mike lawson
Walking Dead by Greg Rucka

Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade
The Guards by Ken Bruen
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Still Life by Louise Penny
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Best Short Story
"My Mother's Keeper" by Barbara Callahan (EQMM June 2009)
"Erin's Journal" by David Dean (EQMM December 2009)
"Real Men Die" by John H. Dirckx (AHMM September 2009)
"The High House Writer" by Brendan DuBois (AHMM July-August 2009)
"A Hollywood Ending" by Melody Johnson Howe (EqMM July 2009)
"Hard Blows" by Morley Swingle (The Prosecution Rests)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No Way Out

I must admit that this was my first Joel Goldman thriller, but I promise you it won't be my last. No Way Out is the third entry in a series featuring ex-FBI agent Jack Davis, one of more interesting characters I've come across.  While most protagonists have obstacles to overcome, be it alcoholism, failed relationships, or physical diabilities, Jack has a rare movement disorder.  Temporary tics, spasms, and shakes can come upon him, often in moments of stress.  Maybe not fatal, but certainly inconvenient if driving a car or pointing a gun.

Jack works part-time for a private detective agency run by computer whiz Simon Alexander and his field investigator/girlfriend, Lucy Trent.  Their latest case involves two missing children.  On their way to interview the inmate father of the kids, Jack and Lucy stop for lunch at a roadside barbecue joint. A shootout disrupts their meal, however.  What looks like a domestic disturbance erupts into gunfire with Jack and Lucy trapped between the shooters.  The young bookkeeper, who fortunately handles a gun as well as she does a spreadsheet, disarms the killer and saves the day for Jack and his partner.

When it turns out that one of the guns used in the shootout was traced to a robbery, things get very interesting for Roni Chase, the attractive accountant.  Jack is determined to help Roni out of her legal difficulties, but the web of deceit surrounding her just keeps getting stickier.

No Way Out is set in Kansas City, which is as much a key element of the story as the cast of complex and intriguing characters.  Everytime you think you have it figured out, a new piece of the puzzle is thrown into the mix until finally all the seemingly unrelated threads are pulled together and the picture's complete.  All in all, a compelling read that will keep you turning the pages.  Visit Joel Goldman's website here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mystery Solved!

Burbank READS, the Burbank Public Library's "One Book, One City" campaign, comes to a close this Saturday when author Jan Burke makes a guest appearance at the program finale.  During the past six weeks the library has been encouraging the city to read Goodnight, Irene, the first of Burke's Irene Kelly series of mysteries.

Ms. Burke will be speaking at a tea in her honor on October 9 at 2 PM in the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library.  Space is still available if you would like to attend.  RSVP to 818-238-5562.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Remembering Stephen J. Cannell

It was very sad to learn that Stephen J. Cannell passed away last week from complications of melanoma.  He was 69 years old.  Many remember him as the prolific writer-producer of TV series, including The Rockford Files, Black Sheep Squadron, Baretta, 21 Jump Street,  and The A-Team, among so many others.

Cannell turned his focus to crime fiction in recent years and had published sixteen novels, including the Shane Scully series and several stand-alones.  He was a frequent guest speaker at many conventions including Left Coast Crime and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  Many crime fans will remember his guest poker-playing cameos on ABC-TV's Castle

He will indeed be missed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Denise Mina Comes to the TV Screen

According to the BBC Press Office, Denise Mina's marvelous crime novel, The Field of Blood, is being adapted for BBC Scotland.  Writing and directing the project is David Kane (Taggart, Rebus, etc.).

The story is set in 1982 Glasgow and centers on Paddy Meehan, a young copygirl with aspirations to become a full-fledged journalist; a difficult goal in such a male-dominated profession.  She becomes embroiled in a dark murder case which could jumpstart her career, but will come with a great personal cost.

Filming on The Field of Blood starts this October and is scheduled to air on BBC One Scotland next year.  Hopefully, the DVD will make it to the US soon after!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Who Knew There Were Vampires in Topanga Canyon?

It seems like no matter where you turn these days, you’ll find a vampire. Flip on the TV, pick up a book, or go to a movie and these blood-sucking creatures are everywhere. Perhaps it’s their sexy allure, or their promise of forbidden passions. Whatever hypnotic hold vampires have on the reading and viewing public, the vamps are big business these days.

Mystery novelist Sue Ann Jaffarian has dipped her toes into these murky waters and delivered a winner with her latest book, Murder in Vein: a Fang-In-Cheek mystery. Sue Ann has to be one of the busiest writers in town these days. She currently produces three different mystery series – the popular Odelia Grey books with her plus-size amateur sleuth; the Ghost of Granny Apples series that teams up Emma Whitecastle and the spirit of her pie-baking great-great-great-grandmother; and now a vampire community loose on the streets of Los Angeles.

Street-savvy, twenty-something Madison Rose is abducted and faces certain death when suddenly a pair of vampires swoops in and takes out her assailant with one bite. Waking up in the guest room of their Topanga Canyon home, Madison soon learns that the unlikely couple, who look like upscale grandparents, are, in fact, real vampires who saved her life.

While she recovers from her injuries under the vampires’ care, Madison discovers that other women have gone missing, their blood-drained bodies turning up around town. Is it a rogue vampire, or a wannabe impersonator doing the killing? LAPD Detective Notchey believes that the murderer is now after Madison and he works with a group of local vampires to hunt down the true killer.

I really enjoyed Murder in Vein, a vampire tale that was not too dark, and yet not too light. Jaffarian gives the vampire genre her own peculiar twist with a sassy heroine, dark humor, and a believable world where the undead carry on with their immortal lives. The vamps have personality traits that make them likeable while at the same time, you never forget they have a deadly, dangerous side as well. They are, after all, VAMPIRES. The story is an excellent blending of sexy supernatural and whodunit. If you were a fan of the short-lived (but highly enjoyable) TV series, Moonlight, you’ll certainly want to take a bite out of Murder in Vein.

Sue Ann Jaffarian will be appearing at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library on Saturday, October 23, to discuss Murder in Vein and the popularity of supernatural fiction.  Stop by for a little Coffee & Conversation!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Postscript on "Inspector Lewis"

You may remember my friend Morgan's reminisces of her time in Oxford, found here.  It was deja vu, I'm sure, as she watched Sunday's episode of Inspector Lewis, "Your Sudden Death Question."

Here is what she had to say:
I found it very weird watching the show about the quiz weekend.  All the outside shots were done in Merton or on the street out front.  They were in Fellowhip quad, under Fellowship Arch and they used many views of the fore quad where the porter's lodge and the dining hall are located.  Scenes were shot under the porters' arch as people entered or exited the college, also inside the chapel, on the steps above the south wall, and looking out from arches between older and newer quads.  I spent more time watching the sets than the show...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

Today marks the 120th birthday of Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime, whose name is synonymous with mystery fiction around the world.  Google UK has posted an amusing Google Doodle crime scene in Christie's  honor.

In conjunction with Agatha's birthday celebration, the Burbank Public Library will be hosting a special event this evening as part of the Burbank READS ("One Book, One City") promotion of mysteries.  Patrons are invited to "Tea and Biscuits" this evening as they view an Agatha Christie documentary. 

If you can't make it to the Library's festivities, you might want to read a biography of this remarkable woman.  Here are a couple of suggestions:
So lift a cup of tea today and wish Agatha Christie a Happy Birthday!  Visit her website for more Christie news and trivia.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Books for the Stacks

Ah, the smell of autumn is in the air!  Falling evenings...the change of seasons is always invigorating.  Normally, September in Southern California is blast-furnace hot, but this year has been different and it's actually fall-like outside -- which is quite conducive to curling up with a new book and a cup of tea.  Here is a selected list of books coming out in October.

  • Busy Body [Agatha Raisin] by M.C. Beaton
  • The Prostitutes’ Ball [Shane Scully] by Stephen J. Cannell
  • The Chocolate Pirate Plot [Chocaholic] by JoAnna Carl
  • Worth Dying For [Jack Reacher] by Lee Child
  • Fiber & Brimstone [Scrapbooking] by Laura Childs
  • The Reversal [Harry Bosch/Mickey Haller] by Michael Connelly
  • American Assassin [Mitch Rapp] by Vince Flynn
  • Stranglehold [Dev Conrad] by Ed Gorman
  • The Confession by John Grisham
  • The Shimmering Blond Sister [Berger & Mitry] by David Handler
  • Ghost in Trouble [Bailey Ruth Raeburn] by Carolyn Hart
  • The Dead Detective by William Heffernan
  • Velocity [Karen Vail] by Alan Jacobson
  • Chasing the Night [Eve Duncan] by Iris Johansen
  • A Lily of the Field [Frederick Troy] by John Lawton
  • Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré
  • Djibouti by Elmore Leonard
  • The Body and the Blood [John Jordan #3] by Michael Lister
  • The Charming Quirks of Others [Isabel Dalhousie] by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Déjà Vu [Sisterhood] by Fern Michaels
  • Coming Back [Sharon McCone] by Marcia Muller
  • Cat Coming Home [Joe Grey] by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
  • Blood Count [Artie Cohen #9] by Reggie Nadelson
  • Collusion [Jack Lennon #1] by Stuart Neville
  • Painted Ladies [Spenser #39] by Robert B. Parker
  • Blackstone and the Wolf of Wall Street [Inspector Blackstone #8] by Sally Spencer

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Calling Michael Connelly Fans!

Michael Connelly's new book, The Reversal,  will be released on October 5 in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and on October 14 in the UK and Ireland.  Attorney Mickey Haller teams up with Harry Bosch for decidedly dangerous case involving the retrial of a brutal child killer.

On the movie front, filming has begun in Los Angeles on The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei. Check here for some shots from the set.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Traveling with Morse and Lewis

A friend just recently returned from an extended stay in Oxford.  While there, she emailed back reports of the haunts of Inspector Morse and the present day filmming of the "Inspector Lewis" show on the streets of that historic town.  I loved her reports, so I asked Morgan to write up something for our blog.  Here it is, read and enjoy!  [Morgan's delicious footnotes follow]

So here I am in Oxford taking a three-week course on monasteries and cathedrals at the oldest college in town, Merton, founded in 1264 or so, and what's doing across the street at University College? [1]  Well, it's Lewis and Hathaway, the dynamic duo, shooting season four -- in fact this is the first episode and they're spending four days at University College so surely I'll see rumpled Lewis or, perhaps, the dishy Sergeant Hathaway? Maybe? Ah no, the good Sergeant is spotted standing outside the new Merton Library (only 100 years old) waiting for a cue to cross the cobblestone lane. But he's spotted by someone else. Because I am where?

Oh, yes. I'm about a ½ mile north at the old city walls that still remain inside New College (founded 1379) where the Cavaliers stood against the Roundheads' onslaught in the English Civil War. [2] So I am not there on that cobbled street to see the dishy Hathaway and although for the next four days I wander up Logic Lane taking a shortcut to The High in hopes of catching "the boys" at work -- no boys; only grips, and techs and make-up gals and the odd unrecognized co-star exiting a scene.

Whatcha gonna do?

Oxford is the city where Morse drinks and ponders his way. And if the Inspector himself doesn't settle into the snug with The Times crossword and a drink (which poor Lewis will pay for), then John Thaw no doubt came by and drank and smoked, or Colin Dexter can be found outside flirting with his readers and waiting for his walk-on in the next shot. My friend, Pat, and I took The Morse Tour so, whether you read the books or just watch the show, I'm going to start name-dropping. So pay attention.

The tour began with a walk up St. Giles past The Martyrs Memorial [3], and the Randolph Hotel with its Morse Bar, up along past the turnoff to the Ashmolean, down to The Eagle and Child [4] coffee house where Tolkien and C. S. Lewis hung out with their gang,The Inkblots, along Museum Road over to the Pitt Rivers and the Science library, down Park Road by Trinity College's east gate, coming on the right to The Broad with Blackwell's Book Store, Christopher Wrens' Sheldonian Theatre [5] and the back entrance to The Bodleian, [6] and down the road on the left, Morse's Holywell Music Room. Next we travel south again past that queen of Palladian architecture, the Radcliffe Camera, past Exeter College immortalized in "The Remorseful Day" as the quad where Morse falls, past St. Mary the Virgin Church, across The High, down to Christ Church Art Museum, [7] through the byways of Corpus Christi College and, ah, fini.

On our own Pat and I did some more Morse touring. We hoisted a few at the Turf Tavern just down the road from Wadham College and we also took a long walk through Jericho, across the Oxford Canal, up north along the Thames (called The Isis roundabouts), past cows, and flocks of swimming ducks and the odd launch and folks stretched out in meadows, past the demolished Godstow Nunnery, [8] and beyond the first lock, where we went over the bridge for a delicious lunch at that restaurant up near Wolvercote -- the Trout.

Oxford is a very small city and you can track Morse and Lewis very easily. Get a good map. And also check out these books: Inspector Morse on Location by Antony Richards, maps included, The Oxford of Inspector Morse by Leonard William Kenneth, Bill Leonard's The Oxford of Inspector Morse and Lewis, and The Making of Inspector Morse which, sadly, is out-of-print but can be found remaindered.

Whether you're punting on the Cherwell, walking beside the Aldgate Police Station at Folley Bridge, or endeavoring to cross the road, you know you're in Morse land. He's considered a saint here in Oxford and for two very good reasons. As you may know, a saint must have miracles to his credit and Morse surely qualifies. First: he may park his JAG anywhere at all in the city's No Traffic zones and while we might gawk, we never disturb. Second: he may start a scene in Trinity College porter's lodge, emerge into the Quad at Brasenose, wander off into Magdalen College deer park and emerge near the Radcliffe Camera.

Now those are miracles.


[1]: What? Of course, there are footnotes. For pete's sake I just took a course at Oxford. Anyway, this college known officially as The Master and Fellows of the College of the University of Oxford also claims to be the oldest founded in 1249. Pedants probably look at when the buildings actually went up which means Merton scores. Before college foundations a master would rent a room for tutoring and sleeping, collect fees from the tutees and these fellows would rent something nearby.
[2]: If you're into this 17th Century Civil War do read Lindsay Davis' Rebels and Traitors. You know her well if you read mysteries set in ancient Rome and follow Didius Falco's exploits.
[3]:  See the "Inspector Lewis" show of Aug. 29th where the dynamic duo sit under the Memorial. The martyrs are the three bishops, Ridley, Cranmer and Latimer who Queen Mary burned for abjuring Catholicism.
[4]:  In typical British style, it's called The Bird and the Bairn locally.
[5]:  And a magnificent view from the top that may be used in some of the opening TV credits.
[6]:  Remember the show that shot underground at the Bodleian? Some of the classics texts are upstairs or in the Duke Humphries Library but mostly one requests a book or map, and returns the following day to see it. No circulating at the Bodley but I did get to read in the Humphries which houses all of Thomas Bodley's 8,000 volumes, bequeathed in c. 1600.
[7]:  Writers and whimsy are thick on the ground here. Lewis Carroll taught at Christ Church and Alice lived at the Deanery as her father was the college head -- he's also the Liddell of Liddell and Scott who compiled the famous Greek Lexicon. And Harry Potter and company shoot their eating scenes in the Christ Church dining hall. No, the oil paintings don’t really move, but I did spot one of W. H. Auden.

[8]:  During the Civil War this was a Cavalier hangout, but during Henry II's reign, the Oxford monks would drop by for a little R & R.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Murder is My Byline.

Our Dear, deadly Aunt Agatha is far too modest about her book recommendations so here are links to her two recent book lists full of criminally good reads. Both lists can be found on the Library's literature racks and on our online catalog. Click on the links and enjoy!

Murder is my Byline provides a selection of mystery books featuring reporters and investigative journalists. Books so good they're newsworthy! [mentioned in the previous post]

Murder & Mayhem in La-La-Land features mysteries set in California, our home, good old "La-La Land".

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Murder is My Byline

Since the Burbank Public Library is promoting Jan Burke's Goodnight, Irene (and Irene Kelly is a reporter), I thought I would pull together a list of mysteries featuring journalists.  Some are cozies, some are gritty.  So pick your poison!

  • Contents Under Pressure by Edna Buchanan
  • A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell
  • Blood Memory by Margaret Coel
  • Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
  • The Unraveling of Violeta Bell by C. R. Corwin
  • The Alpine Pursuit by Mary Daheim
  • Black and White and Dead All Over by John Darnton
  • A Vickie Hill Exclusive by Hannah Dennison
  • Zoo Station by David Downing
  • The Jasmine Trade by Denise Hamilton
  • Field of Blood by Denise Mina
  • Secondhand Smoke by Karen E. Olson
  • Cemetery Dance by Douglas  Preston
  • Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
  • Murder at the Washington Tribune by Margaret Truman
  • Hand of Fate by Lis W. Wiehl

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Final Verdict -- A Brilliant Evening of Mystery

The kickoff event for the Burbank Public Library's "One Book, One City" promotion of Jan Burke's Goodnight, Irene was "An Invitation to Murder," an afterhours murder mystery.  The evening  was attended by nearly 120 amateur sleuths who followed the "detective" throughout the library searching for clues.
Between the appetizers and the dessert, another victim was discovered -- librarian David Peterson was found in one of the study rooms, stabbed to death!  Mystery buffs studied the crime scene, discussed the clues and the line-up of suspects.  After dessert was served, the murderer was revealed!

The next six weeks will be filled with guest speakers, film programs, and other activities to promote the selected book, Goodnight, Irene. Get more info on all the activities both here and on the Burbank READS blog.

Friday, August 27, 2010

An Invitation to Murder

The Burbank Public Library begins its six-week "One Book, One City" promotion tonight with a Murder Mystery in the Library.  A local acting troupe will lead the investigation into the dastardly deed which involves, appropriately enough, murder and mayhem at an "Author Event" held at the library.  As guests mingle with their plates of Lemon Balsamic Chicken Bites and Caprese Skewers, they will try to outwit the detective and solve the case.

Library staff have been busy preparing for the start of the big event.  Some have really gotten into the spirit of it all!  The public is eagerly anticipating all the events coming up.  Staff have been accosted in the streets and even in their yoga class by would-be crime-solvers who can't wait for tonight's murder.

The local Barnes and Noble bookstore is also participating.  They've put together a great window display, stocked up on Jan Burke's Goodnight, Irene, and make the Library's promotional items available to their customers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Irene Kelly Mystery Next Spring

Fans of the Irene Kelly books can look forward to a new installment in the series.  Author Jan Burke recently announced in her blog that she was just finishing the book, Disturbance,  which is due to be released in April 2011.

If you haven't read any of Burke's mysteries, now is the perfect time to start!  The Burbank Public Library has selected her first book, Goodnight, Irene,  as the city-wide read.  Find out what will happen if everyone in Burbank reads the same book at the same time!

Monday, August 16, 2010

American Casting of Salander Announced

Columbia Pictures confirmed the casting of Rooney Mara as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on Monday.  The role of edgy hacker Lisbeth Salander in the American big screen adaptation of Steig Larsson's Milennium trilogy had been linked to a number of actresses including Natalie Portman and Carey Mulligan.  Daniel Craig has already been cast in the role of Mikael Blomquist.  Read more here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Tasty Treat for Cozy Lovers

Warning! DO NOT READ THIS ON AN EMPTY STOMACH! My advice is to pour yourself a nice glass of your favorite wine, load up a plate of munchies, then settle in a comfy chair and prepare to be entertained.

The Long Quiche Goodbye, the first in Avery Aames’ new Cheese Shop Mystery series, has all the ingredients necessary for a charming cozy. Colorful characters, engaging plot, a quaint location, and—recipes! From someone who buys her Swiss and Cheddar from the cheese aisle at the neighborhood market, I never guessed there was such diversity. It’s nice to learn something new while enjoying a whodunit.

Welcome to the Fromagerie Bessette, or the Cheese Shop, as it’s known to the locals of Providence, Ohio. Charlotte Bessette, taking over the management with her cousin Matthew, has thrown open the newly remodeled doors for a grand opening celebration. The town folk are having a delightful time tasting the bold cheeses and sampling the wines when a shriek announces the piéce de résistance. The shop’s slimey landlord is found with an olive-wood handle knife stuck in his chest—and Charlotte’s grandmother is the number one suspect.

The mystery is as satisfying as the culinary references throughout the book. And if you have the urge to create your own fromage masterpiece, the recipes at the back will get you started. The Smoked Salmon and Mascarpone Risotto sounds especially taste-tempting.

Avery Aames' next delightful entry in the Cheese Shop Mysteries is Lost and Fondue. Visit Avery's website here.  Now you must excuse me, I’m off to the market to pick up some Mascarpone…

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shamus Award Nominees

The Shamus Award is given by the Private Eye Writers of America to honor excellent work in the Private Eye genre.The award was created by Robert J. Randisi in 1981.  Here are the 2010 Shamus Award Nominations:


The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta
Where the Dead Lay by David Levien
Locked In by Marcia Muller
Schemers by Bill Pronzini
My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir


Loser’s Town by Daniel Depp
The Last Gig by Norman Green
The Good Son by Russel D. McLean
Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks
Chinatown Angel by A.E. Roman


Dark Side of the Morgue by Raymond Benson
Sinner’s Ball by Ira Berkowitz
Red Blooded Murder by Laura Caldwell
Vengeance Road by Rick Mofina
Body Blows by Marc Strange


"The Dark Island" by Brendan DuBois, Boston Noir (Akashic)
"Deadline Edition" by S.L. Franklin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2009
“Blazin' on Broadway" by Gary Phillips, Phoenix Noir (Akashic)
"Suicide Bonds" by Tim L. Williams, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2009
"Julius Katz" by Dave Zeltserman, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2009

Congratulations and good luck!

Monday, August 9, 2010

In Conversation with Sisters in Crime

Mystery fans at the Burbank Public Library were treated to a lively discussion on Saturday with four members of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime.  Daryl Wood Gerber, who wrote The Long Quiche Goodbye: a Cheese Shop Mystery under the name Avery Aames, Jeri Westerson, author of Serpent in the ThornsLorie Ham, author of The Final Note, and moderator Jackie Vick discussed their most recent books and shed a little light on the "behind the curtain" realities of the book publishing world.

An interesting topic that came up was the growing popularity of online book trailers that  authors are producing.  Many of these trailers have the sophisticated production values of a movie trailer.  Here is Jeri Westerson's Crispin Guest trailer.  What do you think about using book trailers as marketing tools?