Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Awards Given at Bouchercon

Congratulations to all the honorees announced at Bouchercon, held this year in Albany, New York.


  • Best Novel: The Blackhouse, by Peter May
  • Best First Novel: A Killing in the Hills, by Julia Keller
  • Best Paperback Original: Mr. Churchill's Secretary, by Susan Elia McNeal
  • Best Thriller: The Fallen Angel, by Daniel Silva
  • Best Mystery Novel: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
  • Best First Mystery Novel: Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman
  • Best Mystery Non-Fiction: Books to Die For: The Worlds's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke
  • Best Mystery Short Story: "The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder
  • Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award: An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
  • Best Novel: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
  • Best First Novel: The Expats, by Chris Pavone
  • Best Paperback Original: Big Maria, by Johnny Shaw
  • Best Short Story: "Mischief in Mesopotamia," by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, November 2012)
  • Best Critical Non-Fiction WorkBooks to Die For: The Worlds's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Sue Grafton
  • The David Thompson Special Services Award: Marv Lachman 

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    What We've Been Reading...

    I have been waiting to read Louise Penny's next mystery, How the Light Gets In, for the better part of a year. It hasn't helped my peace of mind any that I decided to follow her on Facebook and have therefore been receiving tantalizing quotes and countdowns for months. I have been a fan since Aunt Agatha introduced me to the first in Penny's series about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and the town of Three Pines, just south of Montreal; this one is number nine. These are complex, thoughtful, smart mysteries, with a lot of back story and a large cast of characters to go with each one, and at the center of them is Gamache and his young and dashing compatriot, Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir.

    In the past couple of books, however, Beauvoir has lost his joie de vivre. After an injury sustained during a raid, he became addicted to pain pills, but his real malady is a loss of faith in himself and in his mentor, Gamache. At the end of the last book, the two had a parting of ways, and Gamache is desolate that Jean Guy has gone over to the side of his enemy in the Sûreté du Québec, Chief Superintendent Sylvain Francoeur. Along with this loss, Gamache has had to watch the systematic destruction of his department, as his homicide team has been split up and reassigned elsewhere and he has been isolated by Francoeur's faction. This targeting of Gamache supposedly harks back to a time in the distant past when he refused to cooperate with a massive police cover-up and instead arrested the ringleader, one of his superior officers. But we quickly realize in this book that not all of the evil conspiracy can be relegated to the past....

    As usual, this is a multi-layered story, which also presents a "regular" murder mystery to be solved while all of the above is simultaneously going on, and this mystery takes us back to the town of Three Pines, where we revisit the querulous poet Ruth, the B&B and bistro owners Gabri and Olivier, the painter Claire, the bookstore owner Myrna, and all our favorite personalities from volumes past. A friend of Myrna's was due to visit for Christmas but never showed up, and Gamache immediately discovers that what looks like a simple, perhaps random murder also has ties to the distant past and a celebrated group of sisters born during the Great Depression, of whom Constance, the victim, was the last.

    You may be getting the idea that this is definitely not a stand-alone book, and you are right; if you picked up this one without reading the series, you would be utterly lost. Don't let that deter you, though, because if you don't read this series from the beginning and persevere to the end, you will have missed a true feast of good mystery writing--or should I just say good storytelling? I think Penny is a writer to be enjoyed whether you love mysteries or not. I so look forward to each of these, and I think I will now have to join you in starting over with book one,Still Life, to pass the time while waiting for the next! I can't think of a place I would rather be for the next few months of reading than in Three Pines. (Actually, I'd like to be sitting in the bistro eating and drinking some of their delectable creations--a warning that when reading this series, you will suddenly develop a hankering for crepes, fine cheeses, pain au chocolat, and a variety of esoteric liqueurs!)

    Saturday, September 7, 2013

    Back from vacation

    With a week off, I had a chance to get in some reading while recharging my batteries. Of course coming back to work right after Labor Day...well, it was like I never left! I discovered a new (to me) author whom I have been enjoying tremendously. It's always a pleasure to find a new author, especially one with a good-size backlist.

    I had seen an ad online for Carla Neggers' new romantic suspense novel, Declans's Cross, and I saw it was partially set in Ireland. Now I do have a soft spot for the Emerald Isle, and wondered why I had never come across Ms. Neggers books before. While I was waiting for the new release, I dived into some of her past novels and have been devouring them ever since!

    I especially enjoyed her Boston Police/FBI series. The cast of characters, the settings, a bit of romance and the suspense were all very satisfying.

    I have Declan's Cross in my hot little hand and will be enjoying it this weekend! In the meantime, here's the
    description of Neggers' new book:

    For marine biologist Julianne Maroney, two weeks in tiny Declan’s Cross on the south Irish coast is a chance to heal her broken heart. She doesn’t expect to attract the attention of FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan-especially since a Donovan is the reason for her broken heart.

    Emma and Colin are in Ireland for their own personal retreat. Colin knows he’s a reminder of everything Julianne wants to escape, but something about her trip raises his suspicion. Emma, an art crimes expert, is also on edge. Of all the Irish villages Julianne could choose…why Declan’s Cross?

    Ten years ago, a thief slipped into a mansion in Declan’s Cross. Emma’s grandfather, a renowned art detective, investigated, but the art stolen that night has never been recovered and the elusive thief never caught.

    From the moment Julianne sets foot on Irish soil, everything goes wrong. The well-connected American diver who invited her to Ireland has disappeared. And now Emma and Colin are in Declan’s Cross asking questions.

    As a dark conspiracy unfolds amid the breathtaking scenery of Declan’s Cross, the race is on to stop a ruthless killer…and the stakes have never been more personal for Emma and Colin.

    If you have enjoyed the books by Sandra Brown, Kay Hooper, or Catherine Coulter, you'll like Carla Neggers.

    Like to cook...and read mysteries?

    Aunt Agatha's alter ego is Saturday's guest blogger on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen,, a fun blog hosted by a great group of mystery writers who like to cook up some recipes along with their crimes. Check it out!