Friday, October 26, 2012

Witches, and Vampires, and Ghosts, Oh My!

Ah, my favorite time of year.  Here's a selected list of spooky reads to get you into the proper Halloween spirit.   Enjoy!
  • Down These Strange Streets edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (a collection of short stories featuring vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other creatures of the night)
  • Witches’ Bane by Susan Wittig Albert (Cozy)
  • Antiques Maul by Barbara Allan (Cozy)
  • Aunt Dimity, Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton (Supernatural Cozy)
  • Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell (Supernatural Cozy)
  • A Graveyard for Lunatics by Ray Bradbury (a murder mystery in a Hollywood studio)
  • The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian J. Braun (Cozy)
  • The Hunt Ball by Rita Mae Brown (Amateur Sleuth)
  • Fiber and Brimstone by Laura Childs (Cozy)
  • Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie (Detective Mystery)
  • A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford (Culinary Cozy)
  • Crimes by Moonlight (Anthology edited by Charlaine Harris)
  • Witch Hunt by Shirley Damsgaard (Supernatural Cozy)
  • Ghostly Murders by P.C. Doherty (Historical Mystery)
  • Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (Humorous Mystery)
  • Blackwork by Monica Ferris  (Needlecraft Cozy)
  • Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Culinary Cozy)
  • A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling (Sheriff Matt Gabriel Mystery)
  • Skeleton Key by Jane Haddam (Amateur Sleuth)
  • Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly (Supernatural Mystery)
  • Southern Ghost by Carolyn Hart (Cozy/Amateur Sleuth)
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Suspense)
  • Baited Blood by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Vampire cozy)
  • Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McKevett (Cozy)
  • Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier (Cozy)
  • Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense
  • The Night Country by Stewart O’Nan (Horror/Mystery)
  • The Body in the Moonlight by Katherine Hall Page (Cozy)
  • Night Hunter by Michael Reeves (Horror/Mystery)
  • A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts (Cozy)
  • Dracula: the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker (Horror)
  • Ghost Story by Peter Straub (Horror)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

L.A. Noir Coming to TNT

TNT has ordered six episodes of Frank Darabont’s period drama pilot L.A. Noir which is based on the book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin. The series is a fast-paced crime drama set in Los Angeles during the 1940s and ’50s. It’s a world of glamorous movie stars, powerful studio heads, returning war heroes, a powerful and corrupt police force lead by Police Chief William Parker, and mobster Mickey Cohen's even more dangerous criminal network that was determined to make L.A. its West Coast base.

Written and directed by Frank Darabont (AMC's Zombie blockbuster The Walking Dead), the show stars Jon Bernthal as Joe Teague, an ex-Marine now working as an LAPD cop in an era rampant with police corruption. Jeffrey DeMunn plays Det. Hal Morrison, who heads up the LAPD’s new mob squad, with Jeremy Strong as Det. Mike Hendry, Morrison’s second in command. Neal McDonough is Capt. William Parker, Teague’s boss who is determined to weed out corruption and bring down Mickey Cohen. And Milo Ventimiglia plays Ned Stax, who fought alongside Teague during World War II but who now works as a lawyer with connections to the mob.

"This series is an intense, exciting drama that takes viewers back to a truly fascinating time in the history of Los Angeles,” said TNT’s head of programming Michael Wright.  No release date was given as yet.  However, a film with a similar theme, Gangster Squad, is due for release in January 2013.  That production stars Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen and Nick Nolte as Chief Bill Parker.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What DID the Cat See??

If you're a cat-lover and enjoy a good cozy, you're in for a real treat with Carolyn Hart's latest book, What the Cat Saw. The premise is original and utterly charming.  I spent a whole Saturday glued to the book, it was that hard to put down!

Ever since the death of her fiance in Afganistan, Nela Farley has noticed a most disturbing experience each time she looks into a cat's eyes.  She understands their thoughts.  Is she going mad or is it just some strange way of avoiding painful memories?

Carolyn Hart
When Nela's adventureome sister, Chloe, begs her to fill in at her job while she  heads to Tahiti with her boyfriend, Nela hopes the change of scene will do her good.  Chloe has arranged a place for Nela to stay, but when she arrives, she encounters the former tenant's grieving cat.  "...dead . . . dead and gone . . . She loved me . . . board rolled on the second step . . ."  The cat's thoughts fill her mind with dismay.

That night an intruder breaks into the apartment and creates havoc.  After a visit from the police, Nela learns that former tenant Marian Grant's accidental death may not have been an accident after all.  Add to that a series of strange events occuring at the Haklo Foundation.  The police detective is beginning to look at Nela and her sister as possible suspects when a second murder is discovered.  Nela must use all her skills as an investigative reporter, as well as her new-found sixth sense, to get at the truth.

This was a very entertaining mystery you will certainly enjoy.  I don't know if it's destined to become a series, but the possibility is there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'Closer' Star Cast in Title Role

The Closer co-star Jon Tenney is back as the male lead of the TNT network’s pilot King And Maxwell. The project, from CBS TV Studios and NCIS producer Shane Brennan, is adapted from characters created by bestselling author David Baldacci.

In the vein of Moonlighting, it follows Sean King (Tenney) and Michelle Maxwell, who aren’t the typical pair of private investigators. Both are former secret service agents, and their unique skill set (not to mention their razor-sharp chemistry) often gives them a leg up on suspects and conventional law enforcement.

Tenney co-starred as FBI agent Fritz Howard for the seven-season hit, The Closer.  He reprised the role on the spin-off, Major Crimes.

Monday, October 8, 2012

October Treats for Mystery Lovers

Here are the new mystery releases for the month:

  • Death in the Floating City [Lady Emily goes to Venice] by Tasha Alexander
  • Domestic Malice [Murder, She Wrote ] by Donald Bain
  • Eleven Pipers Piping [clerical sleuth Father Tom Christmas ] by C.C. Benison
  • Field of Schemes [Lloyd Keaton] by John Billheimer
  • Sacrificial Offerings [Leal & Hart] by Michael A. Black
  • Fox Tracks [foxhunting series] by Rita Mae Brown
  • The Silence [Gary Goodhew #4] by Alison Bruce
  • The Chocolate Moose Motive [Chocaholic series] by JoAnna Carl
  • Skating on the Edge [Rebecca Robbins & her sassy roller derby team] by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Postcards from the Dead [Scrapbooking series] by Laura Childs
  • Gun Church by Reed Farrel Coleman
  • The Bone Bed [Kay Scarpetta] by Patricia Cornwell
  • The Corpse of St James’s [Dorothy Martin] by Jeanne M. Dams
  • Spanish Inquisition [Max Rydal, military procedural] by Elizabeth Darrell
  • The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker
  • The Panther [John Corey] by Nelson DeMille
  • The Old Gray Wolf [Charlie Moon] by James D. Doss
  • A Small Hill To Die On [Penny Brannigan] by Elizabeth J. Duncan
  • Killing the Emperors [Robert Amiss / Baroness Jack Troutback] by Ruth Dudley Edwards
  • The Perils of Sherlock Holmes [Sherlock Holmes series] by Loren D. Estlema
  • The Woman Who Died a Lot [Thursday Next] by Jasper Fforde
  • Dick Francis’s Bloodline by Felix Francis
  • The Unkindest Cut  by Gerald Hammond
  • The Snow White Christmas Cookie  by David Handler
  • What the Cat Saw [original new series with Nela Farley & her strange ability around cats ] by Carolyn Hart
  • Rest for the Wicked [Jane Lawless] by Ellen Hart
  • When Johnny Came Marching Home  by William Heffernan
  • Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
  • Placebo [scientific thriller] by Steven James
  • Sleep No More [Eve Duncan] by Iris Johansen
  • Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet [Charley Davidson] by Darynda Jones
  • The Dead Man’s Wife [Mike Coletti] by Solomon Jones
  • Invisible Murder [Nina Borg ] by Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis
  • Live by Night  by Dennis Lehane
  • Blood Sacrifice [John Jordan] by Michael Lister
  • The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
  • A Fatal Winter [Max Tudor] by G.M. Malliet
  • The Blackhouse  by Peter May
  • Paradise City [Joe Gunther] by Archer Mayor
  • The Secret Keeper  by Kate Morton
  • Phantom [Harry Hole] by Jo Nesbø
  • The Geneva Trap [Liz Carlyle] by Stella Rimington
  • Island of Bones [Harriet Westerman & Gabriel Crowther] by Imogen Robertson
  • Mad River [Virgil Flowers] by John Sandford
  • The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds [Isabel Dalhousie] by Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Taste of Wormwood [Eisenmenger & Flemming] by Keith McCarthy
  • NYPD Red  by James Patterson & Marshall Karp
  • A Christmas Garland by Anne Perry
  • Falling Freely As If in a Dream [Stockholm] by Leif GW Persson
  • Power Play by by Patrick Robinson
  • Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham
  • Lambs to the Slaughter [Monika Paniatowski] by Sally Spencer
  • Rogue  by Mark T. Sullivan
  • Death on Telegraph Hill [Sarah Woolson ] by Shirley Tallman
  • Mixed Signals [Grace Street] by Jane Tesh
  • Blood Lance [Crispin Guest] by Jeri Westerson
  • Another Sun by Timothy Williams
  • Death in Her Face [Lauren Atwill & Peter Winslow #3] by Sheila York
  • I Remember You  by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
  • Darkness Rising [East Salem] by Lis Wiehl & Pete Nelson

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Award-winning Mysteries

Bouchercon 2012 was held in Cleveland, Ohio October 4-7.  Bouchercon is the world mystery convention that has been taking place annually since 1970. It's a place for fans, authors and professionals to gather and celebrate their love of the mystery genre. During the convention there are panels and discussions and interviews with authors and people from the mystery community covering all parts of the genre. There are signing events for people to meet their favorite authors face-to-face and get books signed. If you've never been to this fun event, watch for a convention near you and make a point of attending.

The convention is named for a famed mystery critic Anthony Boucher as is one of the prestigious awards, the Anthony.  Here is a list of all the winners from the Anthony, Barry and Shamus Awards:


Best Mystery Novel

* A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny 
  • The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
  • Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman
  • The Drop by Michael Connelly
  • One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Best First Mystery

* Learning To Swim by Sara J. Henry
  • Nazareth Child by Darrell James
  • All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen
  • Who Do, Voodoo? by Rochelle Staab
  • The Informationist by Taylor Stevens 
  • Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder 
  • Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Best Paperback Original

* Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy
  • The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Choke Hold by Christa Faust
  • The Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley [review]
  • Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski [review]
  • Vienna Twilight by Frank Tallis [review]
Best Short Story

* “Disarming” by Dana Cameron, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 2011
  • “The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman, A Study in Sherlock
  • “Palace by the Lake” by Daryl Wood Gerber, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology 
  •  “Truth and Consequences” by Barb Goffman, Mystery Times Ten 
  •  “The Itinerary” by Roberta Isleib,  MWA Presents The Rich and The Dead
  • “Happine$$” by Twist Phelan, MWA Presents The Rich and The Dead
Best Critical Nonfiction Work

* The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris, ed.
  • Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure by Leslie Budewitz
  • Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks by John Curran
  • On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda
  • Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film by Philippa Gates
The Barry Awards were given out on Thursday night. The awards are nominated by and voted on by subscribers to Deadly Pleasures Magazine.

Barry Awards

Best novel – The Keeper of Lost Causes (aka Mercy) by Jussi Adler Olsen

Best first novel – The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

Best British Novel – Dead Man’s Grip by Peter James

Best Paperback Original – Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley

Best Thriller – The Informants by Thomas Perry

Best Short Story – The Gun Also Rises by Jeff Cohen

The Private Eye Writers Association presented the Shamus Awards Saturday night.

Best Hardcover P.I. Novel: A Bad Night’s Sleep by Michael Wiley 
Best First P.I. Novel: The Shortcut Man by P.G. Sturges
Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel:  Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski
Best P.I. Short Story:  “Who I Am,” by Michael Z. Lewin (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 2011)

The Hammer--a commendation celebrating a memorable private-eye character or series, and named after Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer--was presented to Nate Heller the character created by Max Allan Collins.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More Historical Mysteries

Here is another cross-blog pollination.  Librarian Melissa has been reading historical mysteries and wrote a very thought-provoking post to that effect.  I include it here since it fits so nicely with the last book I blogged about, Jack 1939.  Enjoy Melissa's thoughts on these mysteries -- and if I'm not mistaken, the cover of Airth's last novel, The Dead of Winter, is one of Melissa's original artworks.

From Librarian Melissa:
My colleague, RTKO, and I were discussing the merits of reading fiction vs. nonfiction the other day, and he commented that one of the reasons he didn't like reading genre fiction was because it was formulaic. That set me to thinking about the mysteries that I have liked best, and with a few exceptions I find that the combination of history with mystery is a decided preference, because it introduces other aspects around the formula that keep it fresh for me.

I blogged briefly back in the spring about the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries by C. S. Harris, which are set in Regency England; another favorite of mine is Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January novels starring A Free Man of Color, in pre-emancipation New Orleans. I read the first eight of these and then got distracted, and see from the catalog that I have two more to look forward to!

Now I have discovered Rennie Airth (suggested by circ staffer Morgan), who has located his three mysteries about Scotland Yard's John Madden in post-World War I, pre-World War II, and during the course of the second war. This itself is unusual in a mystery writer, to set his books so far apart in time--10 years elapse between the first book (River of Darkness) and the second; and the third novel is similarly separated by a long gap. Also unusual is that while his protagonist is an Inspector at Scotland Yard in the first book, by the second and third books he has radically changed his life in a number of ways and is now almost peripheral to the action, though still vital to its solution.

Setting books in history allows writers to explore times when conventions and methods that are a given in today's mystery were new, untried, and perhaps even suspicious. In the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, the autopsy was the coming thing, as yet practiced only by doctors who did so surreptitiously, usually by employing a grave robber. In Alex Grecian's excellent debut novel, The Yard, which I read on Aunt Agatha's recommendation, it is the new science of forensics that saves the day. In Airth's books we get to experience the infancy of psychological profiling, utilized to figure out those murderers whose methods and personalities do not yield to the common wisdom.

Airth, who worked for a number of years as a correspondent for Reuters, gives a particularly atmospheric setting for his last novel, The Dead of Winter, a fog-shrouded and bomb-pummeled London during the Blitz. He is likewise superb at characterization, and has provided the reader with many quirky, interesting characters to surround John Madden, another thing I like in a good story. There's nothing worse, in my mind, than the mystery writer who makes all his or her characters so subordinate or incidental compared to the hero that you really don't care if they live or die or (more prosaically) move away, never to be heard from again. Airth has created a solid cast, which could work to his advantage in the future: Although Airth may not take my advice, I'm hoping that if he decides that Madden has done his job and really does retire him after these three books, he will come up with some later works starring the Madden-mentored Billy Styles, or the doughty Lily Poole, just embarking on her career at the Yard.