Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ariana Franklin dead at 77

BBC reports that Ariana Franklin  thas died after a serious illness.  Her first book in the series, Mistress of the Art of Death, won the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger from the CWA. She also wrote The Serpent's Tale, Grave Goods and The Murderous Possession in this series.

A sad loss.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hollywood Looking at More Crime Shows

It's pilot season in Hollywood and reports two new pilots that should be of interest to mystery-lovers.  NBC just put in an order for Grimm which is described as a cop drama set in a world where characters are inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales.  Grimm is being written and co-produced by Jim Kouf (for you readers in Burbank, Kouf is a graduate of Burbank High School), known for writing the National Treasure films, among many others.

Also in the works is Poe, a crime procedural with Edgar Allan Poe set in 1840s Boston.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2011 Left Coast Crime Award Nominations

The 22nd annual mystery convention, Left Coast Crime, will be meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico this coming March to present four awards.  Here are the nominees for books published in 2010.  The winners will be selected by ballot at the convention.  Congratulations to all nominees!

The nominees for the Lefty Award (best humorous mystery novel):
  • Donna Andrews -- Stork Raving Mad
  • Larua DiSilverio -- Swift Justice
  • Donna Moore -- Old Dogs
  • Kris Neri -- Revenge for Old Times' Sake
  • J. Michael Orenduff -- The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein
The nominees for the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award:
  • Rebecca Cantrell -- A Night of Long Knives
  • Robert Kresge -- Murder for Greenhorns
  • Kelli Stanley -- City of Dragons
  • Jeri Westerson -- The Demon's Parchment
  • Jacqueline Winspear -- The Mapping of Love and Death
The Hillerman Sky Award (a special award in honor of the conventions New Mexico location, to the mystery that best captures the landscape of the Southwest):
  • Sandy Ault -- Wild Penance
  • Christine Barber -- The Bone Fire
  • Margaret Coel -- The Spider's Web
  • Deborah J. Ledford -- Snare
The Watson nominees (another special award given this year to the mystery novel with the best sidekick):
  • Sandy Ault -- Wild Penance
  • Rachel Brady -- Dead Lift
  • Chris Grabenstein -- Rolling Thunder
  • Craig Johnson -- Junkyard Dogs
  • Spencer Quinn -- To Fetch a Thief

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Fabulous Event!

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon in Burbank, California.  One would think people would be out enjoying the unseasonably warm day, and yet a packed room waited in anticipation for Graham Moore, author of The Sherlockian.

Graham and Sherlock Holmes expert Leslie S. Klinger presented a lively discussion of the enduring popularity of Holmes and the curious anitipathy Arthur Conan Doyle felt towards his greatest literary creation.  

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours.  If you haven't yet read Graham Moore's clever mystery, The Sherlockian, put it on your to-read list and enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Edgar Nominees Announced

It's that time of year again!  Award shows are sprouting up everywhere.  But for mystery writers and readers, the Edgars is one of the most prestigious.  The Mystery Writers of America awards will be presented at NYC Grand Hyatt Hotel on April 28th.  Nominees for the Edgar Awards were announced on January 19th, the 202nd anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth.

A special congratulations to Burbank's own Falcon Theatre for having one of their plays nominated!

Here's the list (how many have you read?):

Best Novel
  • Caught by Harlan Coben
  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
  • Faithful Place by Tana French
  • The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan
  • The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
  • I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
Best First Novel by an American Author
  • Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva
  • The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron
  • The Serialist: A Novel by David Gordon
  • Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto
  • Snow Angels by James Thompson
Best Paperback Original
  • Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard
  • The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn
  • Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski
  • Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis
  • Ten Little Herrings by L.C. Tyler
Best Fact Crime
  • Scoreboard, Baby:  A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by ken Armstrong and Nick Perry
  • The Eyes of Willie McGee:  A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in Jim Crow South by Alex Heard
  • Fnding Chandra:  A True Washington Murder Mystery by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz
  • Hellbound on His Trail:  the Stalking of Martin Luthor King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin by Hampton Sides
  • The Killer of Little Shepherds: A Trud Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Schience by Douglas Starr
Best Critical/Biographical
  • The Wire:  Truth Be Told by Rafael Alvarez
  • Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks:  Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran
  • Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle and David A. Crowder
  • Charlie Chan:  The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendevouz with American History by Yunte Huang
  • Thrillers:  100 Must Reads edited by David Morell and Hank Wagner
Best Short Story
  • "The Scent of Lilacs" -- by Doug Allyn, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
  • "The Plot" -- by Jeffery Deaver, First Thrills
  • "A Good Safe Place" -- by Judith Green, Thin Ice
  • "Monsieur Alice is Absent" -- by Stephen Ross, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
  • "The Creative Writing Murders" -- by Edmund White, Dark End of the Street
Best Juvenile
  • Zora and Me by Victoria bond and T.R. Simon
  • The Buddy Files:  The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler
  • The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee
  • Griff Carver:  Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg
  • The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters
Best Young Adult
  • The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
  • 7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordon Orlando
  • The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie price
  • Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
Best Play
  • The Psychic by Sam Bobrick (Falcon Theatre -- Burbank, CA)
  • The Tangled Skirt by Steve Braunstein (New Jersey Repertory Company)
  • The Fall of the House by Robert Ford (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) 
Best Television Episode Teleplay
  • "Episode 1" -- Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)
  • "Episode 4" -- Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)
  • "Full Measure" -- Breaking Bad, Teleplay by Vince Gilligan (AMC/Sony)
  • "No Mas" -- Breaking Bad, Teleplay by Vince Gilligan (AMC/Sony)
  • "The Next One's Gonna Go In Your Throat" -- Damages, Teleplay by Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler & Daniel Zelman (FX networks)
The Simon & Schuster -- Mary Higgins Clark Award
  • Wild Penance by Sandi Ault
  • Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton
  • Down River by Karen Harper
  • The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
  • Live to Tell by Wendy Corsi Staub
Congratulations to all!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Sherlock Holmes book in the works

The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has given their official approval for a new story about the Baker Street detective.  This is the first time they have done so since 1915 when the last Sherlock Holmes story was published.  Prolific British author Anthony Horowitz has been chosen to write a full-length novel to be published by Orion in September.

Horowitz has written the Alex Rider novels about the teenage spy, as well as over 50 novels for young people.  Perhaps many will be more familiar with his work on television.  Horowitz created Foyle's War and wrote for Midsomer Murders and Poirot.

IN THE MEANTIME... if you are in the Los Angeles area, stop by the Burbank Public Library this Saturday at 2 PM for a fascinating discussion with Sherlock Holmes expert Leslie S. Klinger and Graham Moore, author of The Sherlockian.  Click here for more information on the event.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten Impressive Heists that Shocked the World

I've always loved a good heist story.  How much more interesting it is to use the "little grey cells" to pull off a burglary than explosives and guns blazing.  One of my favorite heist books was Jeffrey Archer's 1974 novel, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and my favorite film was The Italian Job with Mark Wahlberg.  The Criminal Justice Degrees Blog has another fun list of true crime top-ten.  These are truly impressive:

  1. DB Cooper Hijacking:  It's hard to believe it's been almost 40 years since DB Cooper got away with hijacking a Northwest Orient flight on November 24, 1971.  It's the only  unsolved US aircraft hijacking.
  2. Schiphol Airport Truck Hijacking:  Thieves made off with an estimated $118 million in uncut diamonds on February 25, 2005. 
  3. Antwerp Diamond Center Heist:  More than $100 million in gems was stolen from the Center on February 16, 2003.  Although the culprits were apprehended as a result of some errant DNA, the diamonds have yet been recovered.
  4. Harry Winston Heist:  Four armed men (three disguised as women) enacted a daring robbery of the Paris branch of world-famous jeweler Harry Winston, leaving with over $100 million in jewels on December 4, 2008.
  5. ABN Amro Bank Heist:  The charming Carlos Hector Flomenbaum stole $28 million in diamonds from the ABN Amro Bank in Antwerp.  Neither his true identity nor the gems have been uncovered.
  6. Central Bank of Iraq Heist:  There's no doubt he was a criminal, but he was also his country's leader.  Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein "withdrew" nearly $1 billion from the Central Bank of Iraq.  He was "protecting the money" from American aggression.  US troops later found  millions of dollars in the walls of Saddam's palace.
  7. Dar Es Salaam Bank Heist:  Three bank guards in post-Saddam Iraq went missing as did almost $300 million.
  8. Mona Lisa Heist:  A custodian at the Louvre in Paris stole the Mona Lisa on August 21, 1911.  Vincenzo Peruggia simply walked out after hours with the painting under his coat.  He was later caught when he tried to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
  9. Gardner Heist:  On the day after St. Patrick's Day in 1990, thieves dressed as cops made off with thirteen works of art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  It was the largest art theft in American history, more than $500 million.  The culprits have never been found and the paintings are still missing.
  10. Stardust Heist:  The film Oceans Eleven was based on this heist.  In September of 1992, then-cashier Bill Brennan loaded up a backpack with cash and left on his lunch break from the Stardust Resort and Casino -- never to be heard from again.
Read more here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sad News Indeed for Los Angeles Mystery Readers

Independent mystery bookstores are a treasure chest to readers of mysteries.  Sure, you can always get the bestsellers at your local chain bookstore.  And, of course, your local library will either carry or can get through interlibrary loan just about anything your  heart desires.  But there is absolutely nothing like browsing through a mystery bookstore and discovering some gem -- an author you've never read, a title that's just up your alley, a new discovery.

There has always been a unique symbiotic relationship between authors and independent booksellers as well.  The booksellers nurture new talent, host booksignings to introduce authors to their customers, and do their best to promote books to the voracious readers who frequent their establishments.  In return, many bestselling authors continue to include the local independents on their book tours as a favor to an ardent supporter.

But in these shaky financial times, small independents can't compete with the Amazons of the book world.  It was with heavy heart we learned that one of the premier independents in Los Angeles is closing its doors on January 31.  Owners Kirk Pasich and Pamela Woods sent out an email announcing the closure of the Mystery Bookstore, the last standing bookstore in Westwood.

Kevin Roderick notes in his blog that "ironically, the store is located in the city-run parking structure that is the focus of a debate over leasing to a private company that will raise rates dramatically."
You can read the Kirk Pasich and Pamela Woods email in its entirety on Roderick's blog here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Truth Often Stranger Than Fiction

How often have we read mysteries where corrupt police are behind the murders?  It should be no surprise that in some regions in the world, corruption is a fact of life.  Here are the countries that can "boast" the most corrupt police forces:
  1. Haiti
  2. Mexico
  3. Kenya
  4. Uzbekistan
  5. Burma
  6. Iraq
  7. Somalia
  8. Afganistan
  9. Sudan
  10. Russia
Thanks to the Criminal Justice Degrees Guide website for this information.  Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

George Clooney set to star in "Monster of Florence" film

It was just reported on that Fox 2000 has acquired Douglas Preston's bestselling nonfiction crime book, The Monster of Florence, as a vehicle for George Clooney.  Thriller writer Preston (who also writes the Special Agent Pendergast novels with Lincoln Child), began investigating a 30-year old serial murder case soon after moving to a farmhouse near Florence.  He met Italian crime reporter Mario Spezi and together they solved the case and wrote the book about it.  Read the entire article here.

George Clooney will play Douglas Preston in the film.  If you haven't read this terrific true crime book, read it now before the movie comes out!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Aunt Agatha's Favorite Mysteries of 2010

It seems like everyone has come out with their "Best of 2010" lists.  Some perennial favorites show up on almost all the lists:  Michael Connelly's The Reversal, Lee Child's Worth Dying For, and Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile.  Of course, there's the mega-hit The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.  I just finished the powerful Collusion by Stuart Neville, which is also showing up on a number of "Best" lists.

Tana French's Faithful Place and Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths were also favorite reads this past year (the second in Griffith's series, Janus Stone is due out this month).  The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds and Haunt Me Still by Jennifer Lee Carrell were early contenders for this list of mine and were indeed thoroughly enjoyed.

However, the one book published in 2010 that is shooting up on the bestseller lists was a late entry, released in early December.  Graham Moore's debut novel, The Sherlockian, has been getting rave reviews and landed on the top of my favorite mysteries list.

As a side note (and a blatant library promotion!), Graham Moore will be "In Conversation" with Sherlock Holmes expert Leslie S. Klinger at the Burbank Public Library's Buena Vista Branch on Saturday, January 22.  If you enjoyed the book as much as I did, do stop by for a fascinating afternoon.

If you would like further suggestions for the "Best of 2010," check out the Kirkus Review's list here or Omnimystery News here.