Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hard Boiled Mystery Question of the Week.

Aunt Agatha gifted me with a quiz deck of cards "Hard-Boiled Mysteries: authors and sleuths." Some are easy, some are very difficult. I thought I'd share and let you mystery readers take a guess as to the answer. Use the comment link to leave your answers. The correct answer will be posted next week along with a new question.

This week's question:
He was a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times when he wrote his first mystery featuring Harry Bosch. Who is he?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jennifer Lee Carrell Visits So Cal

I always enjoy meeting authors, especially so when I've really loved their books.  Saturday I journeyed out of Burbank to attend a booksigning at Vroman's bookstore in Pasadena.  Jennifer Lee Carrell, the author of Interred With Their Bones and her latest, Haunt Me Still (Shakespeare's Secret and Shakespeare's Curse, respectively, in the UK), was the featured guest.  See my April blog here.

Ms. Carrell shared many interesting backstories in her research for this book.  Like, for instance, her search for a guide to lead her into the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to find a hidden lake and an island with ties to the Macbeth story.  Or stories about the "curse of the Scottish play" in theatrical circles. 

You don't have to be a Shakespearan scholar to feast upon these literary thrillers, and the books don't necessarily have to be read in sequence, either.  So if you like books with a bit of historical mystery attached, do give Haunt Me Still  a try.  I guarantee you'll find it hard to put down.  And best of all, Ms. Carrell is at work on the next book in this fascinating trilogy. 

Check out the trailer from Youtube.

Friday, May 14, 2010

TNT Announces Summer Crime Schedule

Two new crime dramas are set to premiere on TNT, according to a recent press release.  Angie Harmon  and Sasha Alexander star in Rizzoli & Isles, based on the Tess Garritsen mystery series.  Detective Jane Rizzoli (Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Alexander) take on some of Boston's most complex cases.  Jason Lee plays a quirky southern cop with a great love for music, mother, and Memphis in Memphis Beat.

Returning favorites The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick, Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton, and Dark Blue, starring Dylan McDermott, are back with exciting twists and surprising new characters.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Male Leads Cast in One for the Money

A while back Aunt Agatha reported on the movie version of Janet Evanovich's One for the Money which will star Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum.  Today Variety has announced the casting of the two male leads -- Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars) as Joe Morelli and Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me) as the super-cool bounty hunter Ranger.

Lionsgate has picked up the US distribution of the film which is scheduled to begin production this July.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hard-boiled L.A.

If you are feeling particularly "noir-ish" and in the mood for something dark and dangerous, you might give Los Angeles Noir 2:  the Classics a try.  Edited by Denise Hamilton (author of the "Eve Diamond" series and The Last Embrace), this anthology features works by a veritable who's who of noir fiction.  The stories span the 1930s to 1990s and each is set in a different Los Angeles neighborhood.

Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain (who wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice in a little rented house right here in Burbank, California), Ross MacDonald, Margaret Millar, Leigh Brackett, Walter Mosley, James Ellroy, naomi Hirahara are among the authors spotlighted in this latest entry in the popular series by Akashic Noir.  Ms. Hamilton, who also edited the award winning Los Angles Noir, has done an excellent job of choosing the stories for her follow-up edition.

As in most anthologies, some stories are stronger than others and I must say that my favorites were the ones written by husband-and-wife Ross MacDonald and Margaret Millar, and Leigh Brackett's "I Feel Bad Killing You," written in the 1940s.  I highly recommend this foray into L.A.'s dark side.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Aunt Agatha is Reading

You know my motto is “so many mysteries, so little time.” So although I may be familiar with many of the new books out there, I  haven't had the chance to read them all. I swear my “to read” pile grows taller by the hour!

Last Saturday’s Sisters in Crime panel featuring murder abroad introduced me to a bright new voice in the mystery field – Kwei Quartey. At least he is new to me. Dr. Quartey’s book, Wife of the Gods, was released late last year. One of the great advantages of hosting events like this is that I have the opportunity to discover new authors to read.

Dr. Quartey has this to say about his book: “Wife of the Gods, a novel, is set in Ghana, where I grew up. It is a land of great disparities: privilege and disadvantage, wealth and poverty, high education and illiteracy. There is also a mixing of cultures that may sometimes clash. For example, contemporary, ‘westernized’ medical practice contrasts with traditional healing in which treatments combine lotions and potions with the invocations of the gods, the warding off of curses, and the neutralizing of perceived witchcraft.”

I must say I’m really enjoying the journey as I read Wife of the Gods. I invite you to take this trip and experience the sights, the sounds, the smells of an intriguing landscape. Quartey truly writes from his heart and you will want to learn more about the intriguing Detective Inspector Dawson and his culture.

From the publisher:

Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he’s been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana’s capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, so he’s the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider’s interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student’s haunting death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that, to his surprise, hit much too close to home.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Murder Abroad with Sisters in Crime

Burbank mystery fans had an opportunity to meet local authors last Saturday at our monthly "Coffee & Conversation" with Sisters in Crime Los Angeles Chapter.  The topic was "Murder Abroad" and featured four authors whose books are set in foreign locales.

Eric Stone (author of the Ray Sharp thrillers) moderated the panel which included Edward Arno(author of stage plays, screnplays and mysteries), Aileen Baron (author of The Gold of Thrace), and Kwei Quartey (author of Wife of the Gods).

The Burbank Public Library is very fortunate to have such a great relationship with this mystery writers' organization.  Everyone wins -- the Sisters in Crime writers get a chance to discuss their books and meet their readers; mystery fans have the opportunity to discover authors they may not have read yet. 

If you get a chance, visit our Buena Vista Branch Library on June 5th for Coffee & Conversation with "Smart & Sassy Sleuths" featuring Kathryn Lilley, Linda O. Johnston, Laura Levine, and Dorothy Howell.