Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Aunt Agatha is Reading

I have always been somewhat partial to Victorian thrillers.  They are just so atmospheric with the clopping of horse-drawn carriages on cobblestone streets... swirling fog disguising the approaching footsteps of a murderer in top hat and silken cape...all that lovely creepiness.  In that vein, author Carol McCleary's debut novel, The Alchemy of Murder is right up my gas-lit alley.

McCleary heroine is none other than Nellie Bly, America's first investigative reporter.  This plucky journalist is hot on the trail of a murderer and her search takes her to Paris at the height of the 1889 World's Fair.  The Eiffel Tower is shiny new and forensic science is in its infancy.  Nellie is the perfect sleuth -- strong-willed, determined to get behind the story, yet still a woman of her era.  I must say I'm really enjoying this book.

Here's what the publisher has to say:
The world's most famous reporter, the intrepid Nellie Bly, teams up with science fiction genius Jules Verne, the notorious wit and outrageous rogue Oscar Wilde, and the greatest microbe-hunter in history, Louis Pasteur.  Together, they must solve the crime of the century.

they are all in Paris--the capital of Europe and center of world culture--for the 1889 World's Fair.  A spectacular extravaganza dedicated to new industries, scientific discoveries, and global exploration, its gateway is the soaring Eiffel Tower.  But an enigmatic killer stalks the streets and a virulent plague is striking down Parisian by the thousands.  Convinced that the killings are connected to the pandemic, Nellie is determined to stop them both...no matter what the risks.

Author Carol McCleary was born in Seoul, Korea and lived in Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines.  She now lives on Cape Cod in an antique house that is haunted by ghosts.  She is currently working on her next Nellie Bly novel.  Visit McCleary's website for more information.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Excerpt from The Reversal.

October is a long time away, particularly for fans of Michael Connelly waiting for his next book, The Reversal. Here is a link to an excerpt which will whet your reading appetite!

Hard Boiled Mystery Question of the Week.

Question of the Week:

Noted for surprise endings to his books, one of this author's series detectives is a quadriplegic. Name the author.

Answer to last week's question: Sue Grafton
Use the comment link to leave your answers. The correct answer will be posted next week along with a new question.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More Midsomer Madness

Set fifteen of Midsomer Murders came out this month and what a treat! John Nettles stars as DCI Tom Barnaby in three more episodes of murder and intrigue with Jason Hughes as his protégé, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones. The series is based on characters created by Caroline Graham.


The Midsomer Murders: Set Fifteen DVD contains three episodes that originally aired during May 2008 on ITV. A fourth bonus disc is a documentary about Midsomer Murders in which John Nettles, Caroline Graham, Anthony Horowitz, novelists Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves, and others discuss the show’s first decade.

The bad news for Midsomer Murders fans is that John Nettles announced his retirement a year or so ago after playing the character since the series debut in 1998 (he's had three Detective Sergeants during his run). Neil Dudgeon will replace Nettles, playing Tom Barnaby's cousin, DCI John Barnaby; he was introduced in an episode that aired in the UK this past February.

The good news is that there are still some 11 or 12 episodes that have yet to be released on DVD with Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby, so those of us on this side of the pond have something to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hard Boiled Mystery Question of the Week.

Question of the Week:

This mystery novelist solves cases in alphabetical order. Who is she?

Answer to last week's question: Dorothy Belle Hughes

Use the comment link to leave your answers. The correct answer will be posted next week along with a new question.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Macavity Award is named for the "mystery cat" of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in four categories. Here is the 2010 slate, congratulations to all.


Best Novel


Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman (Busted Flush Press)
Necessary as Blood by Deborah Crombie (Wm. Morrow)
Nemesis by Jo Nesbo, translated by Don Bartlett (HarperCollins)
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan (Minotaur)

Best First Novel

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Delacorte)
Running from the Devil by Jamie Freveletti (Wm. Morrow)
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur)
The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville (Soho Crime)
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (Picador)

Best Nonfiction


L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City by John Buntin (Random House: Harmony Books)
Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James (Alfred A. Knopf)
Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life by Craig McDonald (Bleak House Books)
The Line Up: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Little, Brown & Co)
Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo (Penguin Press)
Dame Agatha's Shorts: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion by Elena Santangelo (Bella Rosa Books)

Sue Feder Historical


A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell (Forge)
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur)
A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd (Wm. Morrow)
Serpent in the Thorns by Jeri Westerson (Minotaur)
Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (Henry Holt)

Best Short Story

"Last Fair Deal Gone Down" by Ace Atkins in Crossroad Blues (Busted Flush Press)
"Femme Sole" by Dana Cameron in Boston Noir (Akashic Books)
"Digby, Attorney at Law" by Jim Fusilli, (AHMM, May 2009)
"Your Turn" by Carolyn Hart in Two of the Deadliest (Harper)
"On the House" by Hank Phillippi Ryan in Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers (Level Best Books)
"The Desert Here and the Desert Far Away" by Marcus Sakey in Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can’t Put Down (Mira)
"Amapola" by Luis Alberto Urrea in Phoenix Noir (Akashic Books).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spies in the Shadows

Aunt Agatha just spent the last week in Washington, DC for vacation -- what better place to look for political intrigue and international spycraft.  If you enjoy spy thrillers and happen to be in the nation's capitol, I strongly urge you to visit the International Spy Museum.  This interactive experience is fun for all ages with many hands-on opportunites.

In the meantime, here is a selection of authors who are notable masters of the espionage novel, including some of my favorite oldies but goodies!

Eric Ambler
Desmond Bagley
Ted Bell
John Buchan
John Le Carre
Tom Clancy
Joseph Finder
Ian Fleming
Vince Flynn
Alan Furst
Robert Harris
Anthony Horowitz
Gayle Lynds
Rober Ludlum
Helen MacInnes
Alistair MacLean
Daniel Silva
Brad Thor

Who's your personal favorite spymaster? 

Here's an interesting aside:  the 80-year-old John Le Carre, one of the premier writers in this genre, has a new book coming out on October 12, titled Our Kind of Traitor.

Hard Boiled Mystery Question of the Week.

Question of the Week:
This author of mystery fiction won the Edgar Award for criticism in 1950, after writing a series of novels that featured Inspector Tobin. Who was she?

Answer to last week's question: Gregory McDonald

Use the comment link to leave your answers. The correct answer will be posted next week along with a new question.

Mary Ann...I know you've been touting privately to Aunt Agatha that you know the answers. Time to provide your answer via the comment function so you can show us how smart you are!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Smart & Sassy Sleuths -- LOL!

Do you like mysteries with a good sense of humor?  Readers in Burbank had an opportunity to meet four authors who bring out the lighter side of murder.  The Burbank Public Library's monthly Coffee & Conversation series with the local Sisters in Crime organization featured a great panel that included Laura Levine, Kathryn Lilley, Lindo O. Johnston, and Dorothy Howell.

Kathryn Lilley is the author the Fat City Mysteries with the spunky, but slightly chunky, TV-news reporter Kate Gallagher.  Check out Kate's latest adventure in Makeovers can be Murder.

Formerly a sitcom writer,  Laura Levine writes a very funny series about freelance writer and amateur sleuth Jaine Austen (yes, that's the correct, or incorrect spelling).  Jaine's mother loved the classics, but was not a very good speller.  Laura's ninth in the series is Death of a Trophy Wife.

Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-sitter, is a lawyer who lives in the Hollywood Hills with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Lexie.  Oddly enough, author Linda O. Johnston is also a lawyer who lives in the Hollywood Hills with her Cavalier Lexie.  Go figure!  Kendra's next adventure is Feline Fatale coming out this July.

Dorothy Howell's protagonist, fashionista Haley Randolph, would kill for the latest hot purse.  But corpses can be a real drag, especially if the evidence points a finger at Haley.  Ms. Howell writes a hilarious fashion sleuth series that debuted with Handbags and Homicide; the latest is Shoulder Bags and Shootings.

Check out these authors if you feel the need for a cozy mystery with a great sense of humor.  Speaking of LOL, Dorothy mentioned seeing a video on Youtube by fellow mystery author Parnell Hall (of the Puzzle Lady mysteries).  Get an inside look at the trials and tribulations authors face at booksigning events.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hard Boiled Mystery Question of the Week.

Question of the week:
This writer is known for the witty dialogue in his taut stories about a wisecracking investigative reporter. Who was he?
Answer to last week's question: George Pelecanos

Use the comment link to leave your answers. The correct answer will be posted next week along with a new question.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

James Bond is Back

Here's a tidbit for fans of James Bond novels.  A new book featuring the world's most famous secret agent is set to be published next year, according to the family company of Bond creator Ian Fleming.
The as-yet untitled book carries the top-secret code name "Project X" and will be written by American novelist Jeffery Deaver, best known for his series of thrillers featuring forensic genius Lincoln Rhyme.
It's scheduled to be published May 28, 2011 — which would have been Fleming's 103rd birthday.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sherlock Holmes: From Baker Street to the Big Screen

The Burbank Public Library was thrilled to host a Sherlockian discussion recently with experts Leslie S. Klinger, Amnon Kabatchnik, and Michael Mallory.  Arranged through our local chapter of Sisters in Crime, the panel captivated the audience with their views on the various incarnations of Holmes and Watson on film.

Amnon Kabatchnik is a director, professor, and columnist, as well as the author of Sherlock Holmes on the Stage.  Michael Mallory is best known for his Amelia Watson stories. Leslie S. Klinger is considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes.  He is the editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical /Biographical Work. 

Mr. Klinger also served at an unofficial advisor on the recent Sherlock Holmes film and helped prepare Robert Downey, Jr. for the role.  Here's a bit of a teaser:  Les Klinger had a lunch meeting with the film's producer and has been invited back as advisor on the next movie.  Sherlock 2 will start filming in July of this year with a release date of Christmas 2011.

Hard Boiled Mystery Question of the Week.

Question of the week:

This author sets most of his crime fiction in Washington, DC, and brought his unique voice to the writing of the acclaimed television series The Wire. Who is he?
Last week's answer: Michael Connelly

Use the comment link to leave your answers. The correct answer will be posted next week along with a new question.