Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Writers: Bright Lights that have been Extinquished

The Good and the Bad. The good, of course, is that there were a phenomenal number of great books in 2008. The Bad is that we lost a lot of wonderful writers in the mystery community. B.V. Lawson of In Reference to Murder has a pretty complete list.

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.
--Emily Dickinson

I note several friends and acquaintances in the group: Elaine Flinn, Tony Hillerman, Ed Hoch, Arthur Lyons, Meg O'Brien, JanWillem van de Wetering. May they all rest in peace.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hillary Waugh, R.I.P.

Hillary Waugh, pioneer of the police procedural, died on December 8. Last Seen Wearing, his debut novel, was on just about every top 100 mystery list. Hillary Waugh's Guide to Mysteries and Mystery Writing is an important book for the mystery reference shelf. NYTimes obit.

New Year's Mysteries

2009 is almost upon us, and I wish you a safe, prosperous and happy New Year. I have a short list of a few books that take place on or around New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Enjoy.

Harris, Lee. The New Year’s Eve Murder
Meier, Leslie. New Year’s Eve Murder
Sayers, Dorothy. The Nine Tailors (begins on New Year’s Eve)
Keene, Carolyn. The Chinese New Year Mystery (not the same date but a New Year's celebration)
Todd, Charles. A Long Shadow.
Padura, Leonardo. Havana Blue (stars with a New Year’s Eve hangover)
Deaver, Jeffery. The Devil’s Teardrop.
Cleeves, Anne. Raven Black
Jance, J.A. Name Withheld.
Kirkwood, James. P.S. Your Cat is Dead. (not really a mystery but a very good read!)
Farjeon, J. Jefferson. Death in Fancy Dress (The Fancy Dress Ball, U.k.)
Meredith, David William. The Christmas Card Murders

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Christmas Mysteries

Karen Meek of Euro Crime fame--what a great blog!- does a series on Christmas Reads every year. Be sure to check out Euro Crime for her comments. I'll be updating my Mistletoe Mystery list, but to save you time, here are a few more titles:
Holidays are Murder by Charlotte Douglas, The Dead of Winter by Lisa Appignanesi, Voices by Arnaldur Indridason. I loved this novel. I forgot to list it on the Christmas list, probably because I forgot it takes place during the holidays. It's dark, like all of his novels, but an excellent read. Not sure how many more days and books (12 days of Christmas) she'll be doing, but be sure to subscribe to Euro Crime.

Please send me--or post--any other titles for the list!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Janet Rudolph on Jungle Red Writers Blog

Want to find out more about me (Janet Rudolph)? and about 6 fabulous writers? Go to Jungle Red Writers. Hallie Ephron interviewed me yesterday on this great Blog. O.K., I'm not all that interesting, but check out the other interviews and blogs and websites.

Hallie Ephron just got a starred review in PW for her new stand-alone Never Tell a Lie (HarperCollins 1/09). Rhys Bowen is Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime 2009. Other members of Jungle Red Writers: Rosemary Harris, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Jan Brogan and Roberta Isleib.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chanukah (Hanukkah) Mysteries

Chanukah is a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, so it's not surprising that there are not a lot of Hanukkah mysteries. I'm using all the different transliterated spellings for Chanukah here, in the hopes that someone will come up with a few more titles. I found a few, and although this list doesn't even begin to compare with my Christmas list of mysteries, I hope you'll find it helpful. Feel free to send any titles to add to this list.

Festival of Deaths by Jane Haddam
Chanukah Guilt by Ilene Schneider

Children's Hanukah Mysteries:
Rabbi Rocketpower and the Mystery of the Missing Menorahs - A
Hanukkah Humdinger! by Rabbi Susan Abramson and Aaron Dvorkin and Ariel DiOrio (thanks to Lois Hirt for sending this title)

Short Stories:
"Mom Lights a Candle" by James Yaffe, appeared in Mystery: The Best of 2002, ed. by Jon L. Breen.
For more info on Jewish short story mysteries, check out Steven Steinbock who blogs on Criminal Brief, the Mystery Short Story Web Log Project.

Here's a children's software mystery game: Who Stole Hanukkah? offered in five languages: English, Hebrew, Russian, French and Spanish

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Mysteries: Mistletoe Mysteries and More

With the holidays upon us, I thought I'd post a Christmas reading lists for your enjoyment. In the days to come, I'll try to add Chanukah mysteries. Suggestions welcome. The first issue of Mystery Readers Journal in 2009 will focus on Crime for the Holidays. Mystery Readers Journal is a review periodical with reviews, articles and Author! Author! essays. Have a wonderful Holiday Season.

Adamson, Lydia. A Cat in the Manger, A Cat in the Wings, A Cat on Jingle Bell Rock, A Cat Under the Mistletoe
Albert, Susan Wittig. Mistletoe Man
Allen, Michael. Spence and the Holiday Murders
Andrews, Donna. Six Geese A-Slaying
Appignanesi, Agatha.The Dead of Winter
Atherton, Nancy. Aunt Dimity's Christmas

Atkins, Ace. Leavin' Trunk Blues
Babson, Marian. Twelve Deaths of Christmas
Barron, Stephanie. Jane and the Wandering Eye
Battison, Brian. The Christmas Bow Murder
Baldacci, David. The Christmas Train
Ballard, Mignon F. Deadly Promise, Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed
Barnard, Robert. Death in a Cold Climate, The Habit of Widowhood
Barron, Stephanie. Jane and the Wandering Eye
Battison, Brian. The Christmas Bow Murder
Beaton, M.C. Death of A Snob, A Highland Christmas, Kissing Christmas Goodbye
Berenson, Laurien. Jingle Bell Bark
Bernhardt, William. The Midnight Before Christmas
Berry, Linda. (and others) The Last Noel
Bishop, Claudia. A Carol for a Corpse
Blake, Nicholas. The Corpse in the Snowman, The Smiler With the Knife, Thou Shell of Death
Blanc, Nero. A Crossworder's Delight, A Crossworder's Gift, A Crossworder's Holiday, Wrapped Up in Crosswords
Borthwick, J. S. Dude on Arrival
Boyle, Thomas. Post-Mortem Effects
Bramble, Forbes. Dead of Winter
Braun, Lilian Jackson. The Cat Who Turned On and Off
Brett, Simon. The Christmas Crimes at Puzzle Manor Brewer, Steve (and others) The Last Noel
Brightwell, Emily. Mrs. Jeffries and the Feast of St. Stephen
Brown, Rita Mae. Rest in Pieces, Santa Clawed
Buchanan, Edna. The Ice Maiden
Burley, W. J. Death i
n Willow Pattern, Wycliffe and the Quiet Virgin
Byerrun, Ellen. Grave Apparel
Cairns, Alison. New Year Resolution
Cameron, Dana (and others) Sugarplums and Scandal
Carl, Joanna. The Chocolate Bear Burglary
Caunitz, William J. Exceptional Clearance
Challinor, C. S. Christmas is Murder
Chaput, W. J. The Man on the Train
Chastain, Thomas. 911
Chaze, Elliott. Goodbye Goliath
Chesbro, George C. Second Horseman Out of Eden
Christie, Agatha. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Also published as Murder for Christmas and Holiday for Murder)
Christmas, Joyce. Dying Well
Churchill, Jill. Farewell to Yarns, The Merchant of Menace, From Here to Paternity
Clark, Carol Higgins. Iced
Clark, Mary Higgins. All Though the Night, Silent Night, Deck the halls. With Carol Higgins Clark, He Sees You when Your Sleeping With Carol Higgins Clark, The Christmas Thief. With Carol Higgins Clark, Santa Cruise. With Carol Higgins Clark.
Dashing through the snow. With Carol Higgins Clark.
Cohen, Charles. Silver Linings
Collins, Max Allen. Blue Christmas and Other Holiday Homicides, No Cure for Death
Colt, Jennifer. The Con Artist of Catalina Island
Conant, Susan. Gone to the Dogs
Coward, Mat (and others) The Last Noel
Craig, Alisa. Murder Goes Mumming
Constantine, K.C. Upon Some Midnights Clear
Craft, Michael. Body Language
Craig, Philip R. A Deadly Vineyard Holiday: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
Daheim, Mary. The Alpine Christmas, Nutty as a Fruitcake
D'Amato, Barbara. Hard Christmas
Dams, Jeanne M. The Body in the Transept, Indigo Christmas
Davidson, Diane Mott . Sweet Revenge New Addition This Year!
Davis, Mildred B. Tell Them What's Her Name Called, Three Minutes to Midnight
Dawson, Janet. Nobody's Child
DeAndrea, William L. Killed on the Ice
Dentinger, Jane. The Queen is Dead
Dexter, Colin. The Secret of Annexe 3
Dobson, Joanne. Quieter Than Sleep
Donnelly, Deborah. Died to Match, May the Best Man Die
Douglas, Carole Nelson. Cat in a Golden Garland
Douglas, Charlotte. Holidays are Murder
Drummond, John Keith. 'Tis the Season to be Dying
Douglas, Carole Nelson. Cat in a Golden Garland: A Midnight Louie Mystery
Dunn, Carola. Mistletoe and Murder
Eberhart, Mignon G. Postmark Murder
Eddenden, A. E. A Good Year for Murder
Egan, Lesley. Crime for Christmas
Randy Lee. Then Came Christmas
Erskine, Margaret. A Graveyard Plot
Estleman, Loren D. The Glass Highway
Evanovich, Janet. Visions of Sugar Plums
Fairstein, Linda A. The Deadhouse , The Crime and the Crystal, A Small World of Murder
Ferrars, E.X. Smoke Without Fire
Ferris, Monica. Crewel Yule
Fluke, Joanne. Candy Cane Murder , Sugar Cookie Murder
Fletcher, Jessica. A Little Yuletide Murder
Fraser, Anthea. The Nine Bright Shiners
Frazer, Margaret. The Servant's Tale, The Widow's Tale
Freydont, Shelley. A Merry Little Murder
Frommer, Sara Hoskinson. Witness in Bishop Hill
Gaardner, Jostein. The Christmas Mystery
Gano, John. Inspector Proby's Christmas
Garner, James Finn. Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season
George, Anne. Murder on a Bad Hair Day
Giroux, E. X. Death for a Dietician
Gorman, Ed. Murder on the Aisle
Gouze, Roger. A Quiet Game of Bambu
Grafton, Sue. “E” is for Evidence
Heather. The Last Noel
Granger, Ann. A Season for Murder
Chris Grabenstein. Hell for the Holidays: A Christopher Miller Holiday Thriller
Graves, Sarah. Wreck the Halls:A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery
Greeley, Andrew. The Bishop and the Three Kings, The Man with a Load of Mischief, The Old Fox Deceiv'd
Guest, Judith. Killing Time in St. Cloud
Granger, Ann. A Season for Murder
Graves, Sarah. Wreck the Halls
Greeley, Andrew. Star Bright! A Christmas Story, The Bishop and the Three Kings
Green, Christine. Deadly Partners
Grimes, Martha. Jerusalem Inn
Haddam, Jane. Not a Creature Was Stirring, A Stillness in Bethlehem,
Hager, Jean. The Last Noel
Haines, Carolyn. Buried Bones
Hall, Parnell. A Puzzle in a Pear Tree
Hall, Robert Lee. Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder
Harris, Charlaine. Shakespeare’s Christmas
Hardwick, Richard. The Season to be Deadly
Hare, Cyril. An English Murder
Karen Harper. The Queene’s Christmas
Harris, Lee. The Christmas Night Murder
Harris, Charlaine. Shakespeare’s Christmas
Hart, Carolyn G. Sugarplum Dead
Harvey, John. Cold Light
Hess, Joan. A Holly, Jolly Murder, O Little Town of Maggody
Heyer, Georgette. Envious Casca.
Hill, Reginald. Death's Jest Book
Hilton, John Buxton. Death in Midwinter
Hinkemeyer, Michael. A Time to Reap
Hodgkin, Marion Rous. Dead Indeed
Holland, Isabelle. A Fatal Advent
Holmes, Dee. Silent Night [anthology]
Howie, Edith. Murder for Christmas
Howlett, John. The Christmas Spy
Hughes, Mary Ellen. Wreath of Deception
Hunter, Evan. Come Winter
Hunter, Fred. Ransom for a Holiday, 'Tis the Season for Murder
Indridason, Arnaldur. Voices.
Jahn, Michael. Murder on Fifth Avenue
Jeffers, H. Paul. Murder on Mike
Jordan, Cathleen. A Carol in the Dark
Jordan, Jennifer. Murder Under the Mistletoe.
Kaplan, Arthur. A Killing for Charity
Kaye, M. M. Death in the Andamans
Kellerman, Faye. Sacred and Profane
Kelley, Lee Charles. 'Twas the Bite Before Christmas
Kelly, Mary. The Christmas Egg
Kelner, Toni L.P. Mad as the Dickens
Kendrick, Stephen. Night Watch: A Long-Lost Adventure in Which Sherlock Holmes Meets Father Brown
King, Laurie R. A Monstrous Regiment of Women
Kingsbury, Kate. No Clue at the Inn, Ringing in Murder, Shrouds of Holly, Slay Bells
Henry Kisor. Season’s Revenge
Koch, Edward I. Murder on 34th Street
Koontz, Dean R. Mister Murder, Santa’s Twin
Lake, M.D. A Gift for Murder, Grave Choices
Landreth, Marsha. The Holiday Murders
Langley, Bob. Death Stalk
Langton, Jane. The Shortest Day: Murder at the Revels
Lathen, Emma. Banking on Death
Lawrence, David. Cold Kill
Leach, Christopher. A Killing Frost
Levine, Joan. The Santa Claus Mystery
Lewin, Michael Z. The Enemies Within
Livingston, Nancy. Quiet Murder
Lockridge, Richard. Dead Run
London, Cait. (and others) Sugarplums and Scandal
Luber, Philip. Deadly Convictions
MacLeod, Charlotte. Rest You Merry; —, ed.Christmas Stalkings: Tales of Yuletide Murder
MacDonald, John D. Pale Gray for Guilt
MacLeod, Charlotte. The Convivial Codfish, Murder Goes Mumming, Rest You Merry
MacPherson, Rett. A Comedy of Heirs
Macpherson, Suzanne (and others) Sugarplums and Scandal
Malliet, G. M. Death of a Cozy Writer
Malmont, Valerie. Death, Snow, and Mistletoe
Marks, Jeffrey. Canine Christmas
Maron, Margaret. Corpus Christmas
Marsh, Ngaio. Tied Up in Tinsel
McBain, Ed. And All Through the House, Downtown, Ghosts, Sadie When She Died
McClure, James. The Gooseberry Fool
McGinley, Patrick. Goosefoot
McGown, Jill. Murder at the Old Vicarage
McKevett, G.A. Cooked Goose, Poisoned Tarts
Meier, Leslie. The Christmas Cookie Murder, Mistletoe Murder
Meredith, David W. The Christmas Card Murders
Meredith, D. R. Murder by Sacrilege
Miner, Valerie. Murder in the English Department,
Moore, Christopher. The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
David Morrell. The Spy Who Came for Christmas
Moyes, Patricia. Season of Snows and Sins
Muller, Marcia. There's Nothing to be Afraid Of
Murphy, Shirley Rousseau. Cat Deck the Halls
Nabb, Magdalen. Death of an Englishman
Neel, Janet. Death's Bright Angel
O'Connell, Carol. Judas Child
O'Marie, Carol Anne. Advent of Dying, Murder in Ordinary Time, A Novena for Murder
Stewart O’Nan., Last Night at the Lobster
Page, Katherine Hall. The Body in the Big Apple, The Body in the Bouillon
Palmer, William. The Dons and Mr. Dickens
Papazoglou, Orania. Charisma
Rich, Radiant. Slaughter
Parker, Gary E. Death Stalks a Holiday
Parker, Raymond B. The Widening Gyre
Paul, Barbara. A Chorus of Detectives
Parker, Robert B. The Widening Gyre
Pearson, Carol Lynn. A Stranger For Christmas
Perry, Anne. A Christmas Beginning, A Christmas Grace, A Christmas Guest, A Christmas Journey. A Christmas Secret, A Christmas Visitor, Silence in Hanover Close
Peters, Elizabeth. He Shall Thunder in the Sky, Trojan Gold
Peters, Ellis. A Rare Benedictine, The Raven in the Foregate
Plunkett, Susan. Silent Night [anthology]
Pomidor, Bill. Mind Over Murder, Snowbound
Pryce, Malcolm. Don't Cry For Me Aberystwyth New Addition This Year!
Pulver, Monica. Original Sin
Purser, Ann. Murder on Monday
Queen, Ellery.The Finishing Stroke
Raphael, Lev. Burning Down the House: A Nick Hoffman Novel
Ray, Robert J. Merry Christmas Murdock
Riggs, John R. Haunt of the Nightingale
Ripley, Ann. The Christmas Garden Affair
Robb, J.D. Holiday in Death
Roberts, Gillian. The Mummer’s Curse, Philly Stakes
Sheila. On Strike for Christmas
Robinson, Peter. Past Reason Hated
Rowe, Jennifer. Death in Store
Rubino, Jane. Homicide For the Holidays
Ruell, Patrick. Red Christmas
Sanders, Lawrence. The Fourth Deadly Sin
Sawyer, Corinne Holt. Ho Ho Homicide
Sefton, Maggie. Fleece Navidad
Serafin, David. Christmas Rising
Shannon, Dell. No Holiday For Crime
Sibley, Celestine. Spider in the Sink
Simenon, Georges. Maigret's Christmas
Slater, Susan [et al] Crooks, Crimes and Christmas
Smith, Barbara Burnett. Mistletoe From Purple Sage, 'Tis the Season for Murder (with Fred Hunter)
Smith, Frank. Fatal Flaw
Smith, Joan. Don't Leave Me This Way
Smith, Terrence. The Devil and Webster Daniels
Smoak, Amanda. Generals' Row
Sprinkle, Patricia H. A Mystery Bred in Buckhead
Strohmeyer, Sarah. Bubbles All the Way
Symons, Julian. The Detling Secret
Talley, Marcia. Occasion of Revenge
Taylor, Elizabeth Atwood. The Cable Car Murder
Taylor, Sarah Stewart. O' Artful Death
Thompson, Carlene. The Way You Look Tonight
Tourney, Leonard D. Knaves Templar
Tremayne, Peter. The Haunted Abbot
Trocheck, Kathy. A Midnight Clear
Underwood, Michael. A Party to Murder
Unsworth, Barry. Morality Play
VanLeeuwen, Jean. The Great Christmas Kidnaping Caper
Victor, Cynthia. What Matters Most
Viets, Elaine. Murder With All the Trimmings
Wainwright, John. The Life and Times of Christmas Calvert...Assassin
Walsh, Thomas. The Resurrection Man
Ward, Donald. Our Little Secret
Weir, Charlene. A Cold Christmas
Wingfield, R.D. Frost at Christmas
Wolzien, Valerie. Deck the Halls With Murder

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mystery Readers: Members in the News

Until the latest issue of the Mystery Readers Journal, I updated Members in the News quarterly in the hardcopy Journal. We are no longer including MRI Mayhem in the hardcopy issues, so we can give more space to articles, reviews and Author! Author! essays. So I decided to update Members in the News more regularly on my Blog. You can also find this information on the Mystery Readers website under Members in the News.

Here's what some of our members are up to!

TIM MALEENEY’s new mystery Greasing the Pinata is just out. Tim will be on tour. Check his schedule at:

HAILEY LIND tells us that her publisher has put her next three Annie Kincaid Art Lover’s books on hiatus. However, she has TWO new series coming out over the next two years: Secondhand Spirits, the first in a new witchcraft series, will be released July 2009. If Walls Could Talk, the first in the Sophie Tanner House Flipping Mysteries, will be coming out in 2010. Both will be released under Penguin's Obsidian label, and under the new pseudonym, Juliet Blackwell (check out her blog at: for more information on the name change).

MAAN MEYERS, the the pseudonym of Annette and Marty Meyers have a new historical mystery set in turn-of the century New York. The Organ Grinder came out in October from Five Star/Gale.

HALLIE EPHRON has NEVER TELL A LIE, a novel of suspense, coming out from William Morrow in January. Hallie’s 1001 Books for Every Mood is one of my all-time favorite gift books. It’s also a great book for every reader, so consider getting a copy for yourself. You’ll find all time favorites, the mood pairings are spot-on. For writers in the group, don’t miss Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel: How to Knock ‘em Dead with Style. Ephron is truly a woman of many talents. For more info and fun, go to Jungle Red, Ephron’s blog she shares with Rosemary Harris, Hank Philippi Ryan, Jan Brogan and Roberta Isleib.

KRIS NERI: Hilliard & Harris just published a collection of Kris Neri's short stories, THE ROSE IN THE SNOW: TALES OF MISCHIEF AND MAYHEM. The collection contains some new stories, some of Kris' personal favorites, and her two Derringer Award-winners. Kris will also be teaching a private mystery and thriller structure class for the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The six-week class, which will debut in late January 2009, is only open to Guppy members, and will feature Kris' unique approaches to structuring crime novels.

SANDI AULT, author of the WILD mystery series, has Wild Sorrow coming Wild out from Berkley Prime Crime in March. Sandi’s Wild Inferno was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2008 by PW. Wild Indigo won the Mary Higgins Clark Award in 2008.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Scandinavian Crime Articles

I can't wait to see Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander. We in the U.S. have to wait to get our British shows. I'm a big fan of Scandinavian novels, and the Mystery Readers Journal had a great issue on Crime in Cold Climates: Scandinavian Mysteries. I thought I'd link some recent articles on Cold Crime.

Boyd Tonkin: Beyond Mankell: our fiends in the north

The Nordic Mystery Boom: Forget Holmes, Marple and Poirot. The Scandinavians have a clue by Joe Queenan

Crime Pays in a law-abiding Land There are numerous Blogs devoted to Scandinavian crime and well worth a look.

Meg O'Brien

From Nancy Baker Jacobs:
Meg O'Brien died on Saturday, Dec. 6, of complications following heart surgery. She had been living in Houston, Texas, recently to be near her daughter Kaiti and granddaughter Emily. Born in New Jersey, Meg also lived in several California cities and in Washington State over the past couple of decades. She was the author of the Jessica James mystery series and numerous suspense novels. Most recently she wrote under contract for MIRA Books. Meg loved writing and always told a good story that entertained her many readers.

Here's one eerie event her daughter Amy thought mystery writers might appreciate. Twenty-four hours after Meg died, her son's cell phone rang and its readout indicated that the call was coming from Meg's cell phone. Her children later found Meg's cell phone packed inside her suitcase and, indeed, its readout indicated that it had placed that particular call at that particular time, but no one can explain just how or why. Certainly Meg would have enjoyed contemplating this kind of mystery.

Meg O'Brien leaves behind five children, four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren, along with her many friends and a host of fans, all of whom will miss her greatly.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

2008 Nero Award Goes to Jonathan Santlofer

Last night the Wolfe Pack presented the Nero Award to Jonathan Santlofer for Anatomy of Fear (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers). The Nero Award is presented each year to an author for the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Stories. It was presented at the Black Orchid Banquet in New York City.

The Black Orchid Novella Award is presented jointly by The Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine to celebrate the Novella format popularized by Rex Stout. This year's winner is Michael Nethercott for O'NELLIGAN'S GLORY.

The Wolfe Pack, founded in 1977, is a forum to discuss, explore, and enjoy the 72 Nero Wolfe books and novellas written by Rex Stout. The organization promotes fellowship and extends friendship to those who enjoy these great literary works of mystery through a series of events, book discussions, and a journal devoted to the study of the genius detective, Nero Wolfe, and his intrepid assistant, Archie Goodwin. The organization has 450 members worldwide.

Congratulations, Jonathan!!!

Lee Goldberg

Lee Goldberg, Toast Master at Left Coast Crime in Hawaii (March 7-12, 2009) and author of the Monk novels, just sent some info about his latest books to IACW and I thought people would be very intersted.

"The latest Monk novel, MR. MONK IS MISERABLE, is out today and picks up right where MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY left off. It's set in Paris, which makes it a very personal book for me. My wife Valerie is French, born and raised in Paris, and we go there each year to visit my inlaws. On our last visit, I took our 13-year-old daughter Maddie to The Catacombs. She took one look at the millions of bones stacked underground and said "Can you imagine Monk here?" Yes, I could. We both could. And from that moment on, I couldn't stop seeing Paris through Adrian Monk's eyes. And neither could she, which turned this book into sort of a family affair.

As familiar as I am with Paris, I still had to do a lot of research into the sewer system and, on a subsequent trip, scout locations for the book. The hotel, the restaurants, and just about every other setting in the book actually exists. I also named many of the characters after my French family and friends.

My next Monk book, MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP, comes out in July 2009 and takes place back in San Francisco, where I also feel a special connection. I was born and raised in the Bay Area. After two books "on the road," it was nice to be home again. The book I am working on now, MR. MONK IN TROUBLE, will be out in December 2009 and is set in San Francisco and California's gold country.

I haven't decided yet what comes after that. All I know is that, whatever those next two books are, they will be published after the TV series ends.

How will Monk change after the finale of the TV show? I have no idea yet...or how those changes will impact future books. I look forward to finding out!"

Want to spend some quality time with Lee? He's an incredible raconteur. Register for Left Coast Crime and join the group at an amazing Unconventional Convention!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Poison Lady Luci Zahray

I happened tacross this great interview with Poison Lady, Luci Zahray. I've met Luci several times, and each time I'm amazed at her knowledge of poisons. Wouldn't want to become her enemy. Thanks to Kate Flora for this interview. Kate's latest Thea Kozak mystery is Stalking Death.

Revisiting Older Mystery Authors/Mystery Readers Winter Book Group

Mystery Readers International's Book Group has been meeting for over 30 years. We meet every Tuesday night at my home in Berkeley. After reading a series of terrific but very dark books this past Fall with a recurrent theme of children in jeopardy (not planned as a theme for our reading), I've decided that it's time to revisit some earlier authors. I've put together a list that will be a great springboard for more reading.

New members to the group are welcome. We meeting on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or are passing through, please join us.

January 6 K.C. Constantine The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes
January 13 Sharyn McCrumb If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O
January 20 Colin Dexter Last Bus to Woodstock
January 27 Ross Thomas Chinaman’s Chance
February 3 James McClure The Steam Pig
February 10 Arthur Upfield The Sands of Windee
February 17 Elizabeth Peters Crocodile on the Sandbank
February 24 Bartholomew Gill: The Twelfth Juror
March 17 Rex Stout The Doorbell Rang
March 24 Craig Rice Home Sweet Homicide

Friday, November 28, 2008

More Thanksgiving mysteries/Mystery Book Groups

To add to the Turkey Talk, the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library in Wakefield, MA, has a great list of Thanksgiving mysteries. The Rap Sheet, one of the best blogs out there, brought this to my attention.

Being that I love to read books on certain themes, the Supper Sleuths, the library's mystery discussion group, is right up my alley. This group meets the second Tuesday at 6 p.m. December 9, 2008 at 5:45pm to 7:30 pm. January 13, 2009: Scottish Detectives; February 10, 2009: Victorian Mysteries; March 10, 2009: Journalists as Authors of Mysteries; April 14, 2009: Treasure Hunts; May 12, 2009: Fiscal Fandangos: Financial Mysteries; June 9, 2009: Free Read/ Potluck.

For more mystery reading groups, go to the Mystery Readers Journal Listing of Mystery Book Groups.

Want your book group listed? Send me the contact info with name, time, location, book selections (if you have them), contact name, email, phone. Love to add your group to our list.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Mysteries

The Cozy Mystery List has a wonderful list of Thanksgiving Mysteries. With dysfunctional families coming together for a big turkey dinner, it's no surprise there should be so many on this list. Here's a sampling:

Bob Berger The Risk of Fortune
William Bernhardt Natural Suspect

Kate Borden Death of a Turkey
Carole Bugge Who Killed Mona Lisa?

Sammi Carter Goody Goody Gunshots
Christine E. Collier A Holiday Sampler

Bill Crider w/Willard Scott Murder under Blue Skies
Barbara D'Amato Hard Tack
Mary Daheim Alpine Fury and Fowl Prey
Jeanne Me. Dams Sins Out of School
Claire Daniels Final Intuition

Michael Dibdin Thanksgiving
Joanne Dobson Raven and the Nightingale
Janet Evanovich Thanksgiving (technically a romance)*
Katherine V. Forrest The Beverly Malibu
Noreen Gilpatrick The Piano Man
Martin H. Greenberg (editor) Cat Crimes for the Holidays
Jane Haddam Feast of Death, Feast of Murder
Lee Harris The Thanksgiving Day Murder
Robin Hathaway Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call
Richard Hawke Speak of the Devil
Ellen Elizabeth Hunter Murder on the ICW
J. A. Jance Shoot Don't Shoot
Faye Kellerman Serpent's Tooth
Harry Kemelman That Day the Rabbi Left Town
Clyde Linsley Death of a Mill Girl
Georgette Livingston Telltale Turkey Caper
Margaret Maron Up Jumps the Devil
Evan Marshall Stabbing Stefanie
Ralph McInerny Celt and Pepper
Leslie Meier Turkey Day Murder
Deborah Morgan The Marriage Casket
Louise Penny Still Life
Cathy Pickens Southern Fried
Ann Ripley Harvest of Murder
Willard Scott w/Bill Crider Murder under Blue Skies
Sarah R. Shaber Snipe Hunt
Denise Swanson Murder of a Barbie and Ken, Murder of a Botoxed Blonde
Marcia Talley Occasion of Revenge
Angela Zeman The Witch and the Borscht Pearl

Have a Great Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Left Coast Crime 2009: Say Aloha to Murder

The November Newsletter is just out for Left Coast Crime 2009. This year Left Coast Crime will be held in the very far West coast--the West Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii at the Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort. March 7-12, 2009. March is high-season, but the LCC committee was able to snag some great rates.

There's some fantastic programming for fans, readers and writers. Critique workshops, Book discussion groups, The Play: House without a Key, Luau, chocolate, 15 minutes under the Palms, forensic experts, and so much more. Great pre- and post- trips. This is one mystery convention you won't want to miss!

Register now and Say Aloha to Murder!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

San Francisco Mysteries/Mystery Readers Journal

Coming soon, Mystery Readers Journal: San Francisco Mysteries, II. As I mentioned, once again we had so much material for the San Francisco issue of Mystery Readers Journal that we had to go to two issues. I'll let people know when the next issue comes out. There will be author! author! essays from Marcia Muller, Peri O'Shaughnessy, Steve Brewer, Janet La Pierre, and many more. Stay tuned.

Janet Rudolph, Editor

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Edgar Allan Poe stamp

More news on Edgar Allan Poe.

The United States Postal Service will be issuing a stamp honoring Poe on January 16, 2009 in Richmond, Virginia, where the Boston-born Poe spent most of his youth.

The portrait for this new stamp was painted by Michael J. Deas, a veteran stamp designer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Edgar Allan Poe Society/Poe House MWA Raven Award

November 12, 2008 -- New York, NY: Mystery Writers of America (MWA) has chosen the Edgar Allan Poe Society and The Poe House in Baltimore, Maryland, as the 2009 recipients of the organization's prestigious Raven Award.

To be presented at Mystery Writers of America's 63rd Annual Edgar® Awards Banquet at The Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on April 30, 2009, the Raven Award is bestowed by MWA's Board of Directors for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Among past recipients of the award are the Library of Congress, Center for the Book, and two United States Presidents – Bill Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

According to MWA's President Harlan Coben, the dual choice of the Poe Society and the Edgar Allan Poe House is doubly appropriate: "Not only does 2009 mark the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday, but Mystery Writers of America has long-considered Poe a patron saint. In fact, the Raven Award, itself, is named after Poe's famous poem, and our Edgar® Awards -- or 'Edgars,' as they're more popularly known -- are awarded annually to authors of distinguished work."

Formed in 1923, the Edgar Allan Poe Society organized an annual series of public programs that included musical settings of Poe's poems, readings from his works, exhibitions of information and memorabilia, and lectures about his life and writings. In 1938, the Poe Society led efforts to save a house in Baltimore where Poe lived from 1833 to 1835. The efforts were successful and a bronze plaque was erected at The Poe House to commemorate the location in 1940. A full restoration of the home began in 1947, proceeding as funds and ingenuity permitted.

The Poe Society provided tours of The Poe House from 1950 until 1977, when responsibility for the museum was assumed by the City of Baltimore. Since 1977, the Poe Society has returned its focus to annual commemorative lectures and associated publications. They continue to maintain a website and respond to as many inquires about Poe's life and works as possible. Each year, the society receives letters from around the world, particularly from school children seeking general guidance for reports and other projects on Poe. The Edgar Allan Poe Society is a non-profit organization with no paid employees, relying purely on voluntary efforts.

"The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore is especially proud to receive the honor of the Raven Award during the bicentennial of Poe's birth," says Jeffrey Savoye, secretary/treasurer of the Poe Society. "Generally, we have been quietly carrying out our mission since 1923, promoting the best information available about Poe's life and works. It is gratifying to find that, occasionally, our efforts do not go unrecognized."

The Poe House is now under the control of Baltimore City's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and continues to provide tours and education at the site.

“I’m honored beyond words to be chosen for such a prestigious award," says Jeff Jerome, curator of Poe House. "For 30 years I’ve been aggressively promoting the life and works of Eddie and this award has validated these efforts. The first thing I’m planning to do after receiving this award is to visit the Poe Grave and share it with Eddie.”

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Publishers Weekly Best of '08

Once again, I need to thank The Rap Sheet for bringing my attention to mystery news. Linda Richards blogged last week about the Publisher's Weekly Best of '08

Not only did PW choose their best mysteries of '08, but there were several mysteries listed under 'general fiction'. Three of the general fiction books made my top 10 mystery list for '08, so far. I haven't finished reading everything, so I haven't put my list together yet.

So the mysterious works PW included under 'general fiction' are:

These are the books PW chose as its best mysteries of 2008:
  • Wild Inferno, by Sandi Ault (Berkley Prime Crime)
  • Lie Down with the Devil, by Linda Barnes (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
  • Ghost at Work, by Carolyn Hart (Morrow)
  • The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf)
  • The Messengers of Death: A Mystery in Provence, by Pierre Magnan, translated from the French by Patricia Clancy (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
  • Death’s Half Acre, by Margaret Maron (Grand Central)
  • Salt River, by James Sallis (Walker)
  • Fear of Landing, by David Waltner-Toews (Poisoned Pen)
  • The Calling, by Inger Ash Wolfe (Harcourt)
The entire list with comments about each book is available Here

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Michael Crichton, R.I. P.

Went to The Rap Sheet this morning, only to read more sad news. Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park author and numerous mystery novels, died of cancer. He was 66.

Michael Crichton was a real cross-over writer. Crichton was the author of The Andromeda Strain, the Great Train Robbery, and so many more terrific novels. He created the award-winning TV hospital series ER. and wrote for film. A real Renaissance man. Read "The Admirable Mr. Crichton " by Ali Karim in the Rap Sheet (2006) and this from Hillel Italie in the Huffington Post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More International Mysteries

I'm a big fan of mysteries set in other countries, as you know from reading my blog. I love to 'travel' to other parts of the world through mystery novels. Sometimes I do this before I go to another country in order to familarize myself with the area. Sometimes I read mysteries set in other countries when I return to reinforce my travels. But, more likely, I'll read about countries I'll never get to visit. Whatever the reason, I enjoy reading mysteries set in other places. Mystery Readers Journal has had issues on Irish Mysteries, Scandinavian mysteries, Italy, France, and other countries. I always love finding new books.

Publishers Weekly had an article last week on the rise of thrillers in France and Sweden. This article introduced me to Jean-Christophe Grange (France) and Jan Guillou (Sweden) and several others. Interesting to note that Harlan Coben's The Final Detail (Fleuve Noir) was #3 on the French charts the week ending September 28.

For more info on mysteries set in other countries, go to: Around the World in 80 Sleuths.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Mysteries

Mystery Readers Journal has done lots of theme issues, and we have one coming up in 2009 on Crime for the Holidays that you won't want to miss. My favorite holiday is Halloween, and I have an incredible list of mysteries set during Halloween. No surprise! I don't really have enough room to list them all, but thought I'd list a few to get you through the day.

Halloween Party by Agatha Christie
Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert
The Hunt Ball by Rita Mae Brown
Sympathy For The Devil by Jerrilyn Farmer
A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling
The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman
Long Time No See by Susan Isaacs
Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery by Ed McBain
A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts
A Graveyard for Lunatics by Ray Bradbury
Death on Allhallowe'en by Leo Bruce
Ghostly Murders by P. C. Doherty
Trick or Treat by Leslie Meier
The Body in the Moonlight by Katherine Hall Page
Strange Brew by Kathy Hogan Trochek
All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien

Short story mavens don't worry: Here's a list of Halloween Mystery Short Stories:
Trick and Treats edited by Joe Gores & Bill Pronzini
Asking for the Moon (includes "Pascoe's Ghost" and "Dalziel's Ghost") by Reginald Hill
Murder for Halloween by Cynthia Manson
The Haunted Hour, edited by Cynthia Manson & Constance Scarborough
Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense, edited by Michele Slung & Roland Hartman.
Mystery for Halloween (an anthology), edited by Donald Westlake

Not enough? Get out your Edgar Allen Poe and read "The Telltale Heart". Not quite Halloween, but in the spirit.


Chocolate Cemetery Cupcakes for Halloween

I posted this recipe on Murderous Musing/TeamBuilding Talk, my other blog, but I thought people who read Mystery Fanfare would want to see it--just in time for Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. And, I'm always "dying... for chocolate."

These spooky Halloween cupcakes are fun to make and eat. Use any one of the following decorating ideas on its own, or put several together to create a tray of different treats. Easy to bake, you can use any devil's food cake recipe.

To make a cupcake cemetery, spread devil's food cupcakes with chocolate icing. Dip the top of each frosted cupcake in crushed chocolate wafers to create the look of dirt, then insert shortbread-cookie tombstones, piping them with scary messages like "Boo!" or "R.I.P." in royal icing.

Top more devil's food cupcakes with chocolate ganache and chocolate-wafer "dirt," make a hole in the center of each cupcake with your finger, and position half a gummi worm to look like it's slithering out of the hole.

Happy Halloween! Boo!!!

Tony Hillerman, a helluva guy, R.I.P.

I haven't been able to bring myself to write before about the loss to the mystery community of one of the greatest authors. Award winning author Tony Hillerman died last weekend of pulmonary failure. Particularly sad because Tony had a big heart. He was friendly and supportive to all he met. He was a gentleman and a gentle man.

Tony Hillerman was the acclaimed author of the Navajo Tribal Police mystery series featuring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Anne Hillerman said Sunday that her father was a born storyteller. "He had such a wonderful, wonderful curiosity about the world," she said. "He could take little details and bring them to life, not just in his books, but in conversation, too."

Deanne Stillman wrote a wonderful tribute at LA Observed. Marilyn Stasio, NYT mystery reviewer, also has a wonderful obituary.

I was lucky to meet Tony on many occasions at Bouchercons and other conventions over the years. I remember his cogent thoughts and comments on Native American religion, culture and spirituality on my panel on religion and the mystery at the 1985 Bouchercon. It was a Sunday afternoon, a time when most attendees would have left, but the room was full. They came to hear this great man, this great writer, this great friend who instilled his fans and readers with a respect and knowledge of Native Anmerican culture. He'll be missed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elaine Flinn, R.I.P.

It was a sad day yesterday when the mystery community learned of the death of Elaine Flinn, author, antiques dealer, comedian, friend.

Elaine Flinn passed away Saturday night as the result of complications due to pneumonia and cancer. Elaine, a former Bay Area antiques dealer, created Molly Doyle, a Carmel, CA, aniques dealer in Dealing in Murder, her 2003 debut novel that was nominated for an Agatha, Gumshoe, Barry and Anthony (2003). Tagged for Murder (2004) won the Barry Award. Two more Molly Doyle novels--Deadly Collection and Deadly Vintage followed.

Flin was one of the founding members of Murderati. And, it was during her time at Murderati that Flinn developed the Evil-E persona for which she became so well-known.

I was lucky to have known Elaine, and we shared laughter and fun at conventions and bookstores over the years. I will miss her. I know she was looking forward to Left Coast Crime 2009 in Hawaii.

L.J. Roberts tells us more about Elaine in the Rap Sheet today. Mystery authors remember Elaine today in Louise Ure's blog at Murderati.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Agatha Christie's Egypt: Life on the Nile in the 1930s

San Francisco State University's Museum Studies Program announces a new exhibition "Agatha Christie's Egypt: Life on the Nile in the 1930s." Egypt held a special meaning for the career of the Agatha Christie: After traveling there and taking the trip up the Nile on a tourist steamer, she wrote one of her most successful books, Death on the Nile, which features the one and only Hercule Poirot solving the mystery murder in a group of British and American travelers.

The exhibition shows Egypt the way it would have looked to the eyes of Agatha Christie and other Western tourists of 1930s. Magnificent black and white photographs show archaeological excavations and the great Egyptian monuments - Sphinx of Giza and the temples of Karnak and Luxor. The photographers of the 1930s caught the last view of the island of Philae, which went under water after the Aswan Dam was opened. Next to these iconic images are pictures of the daily life of Egyptians: people making mats, molding bricks, and discussing everyday affairs.

The magazines and newspapers of 1930s provide an authentic atmosphere for the "period room," modeled after a luxury hotel lobby. Here, visitors get a chance to relax, leave their names in a guest book and try out the stereoscope and stereographs of Egypt. Those three-dimensional images were the first 'high definition' photographs, popular in 1930s.

A visit to Egypt could not be complete without going to the museum of antiquities to see mummies, statues of gods, and contents of tombs. The core of this part of the exhibition consists of the objects from the famous Sutro Egyptian Collection, purchased by former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro in 1884. The treasures of the collection on display include the 3000-year-old mummy called Nes-Per-N-Nub with a rare triple-nesting sarcophagus set (one of the only 3 triple-nesting sarcophagi in the US!); other mummified remains; the stunning Amarna princess limestone statuette; jewelry and amulets that accompanied Egyptians to the afterlife.

For visitors of all ages, the exhibition provides a unique hands-on INTERACTIVE MUMMY. If you always wanted to learn more about the art of mummification, you can practice with our custom-made interactive mummy, which is equipped with lungs, liver, kidneys, and brains to be removed. Wrapping the mummy is the final stage of this adventure!

The exhibition is located at San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132-4030, in Humanities Building, 5th Floor, Room 510. It would be open to the public 11:00 to 4:00, Monday through Friday, November 3rd - December 12th, with a hiatus for the week of Thanksgiving. Admission is free.

"There are very wonderful things to be seen in Egypt, are there not?" - Hercule Poirot

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Macavity Awards

I gave out the Macavity Awards at Bouchercon in Baltimore during opening ceremonies. What a great night. I followed the new CrimeSpree Awards. The Barry Awards were given out after the Macavity. They're the awards given out by readers of Deadly Pleasures and Mystery News.

So without further ado... the Macavity Award winners 2008. Congratulations.

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.

Best Mystery Novel: Laura Lippman: What the Dead Know (Morrow)

Best First Mystery: Tana French: In the Woods (Hodder & Stoughton*/Viking)

Best Mystery Short Story: Rhys Bowen: "Please Watch Your Step" (The Strand Magazine, Spring 2007)

Best Mystery Non-Fiction: Roger Sobin, editor/compiler: The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians (Poisoned Pen Press)

Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery: Ariana Franklin: Mistress of the Art of Death (Putnam)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Around the World with Mysteries/Akashic Noir Series

I just started an incredible collection of short stories, Istanbul Noir, edited by Mustafa Ziyalan & Amy Spangler. With this collection and with Paris Noir, Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of oriignal noir anthologies. Each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or locations within the city of the book. So Istanbul Noir moves fearlessly to the city hosting the Euopean/Asian divide. This series launched in the Summer of '04 with the best-seller Brooklyn Noir, has put noir stories on the map!

Tana French's top 10 maverick mysteries

Check out the Guardian (UK) for Tana French's top 10 maverick mysteries. French's Top Ten: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe. Innocent Blood by P.D. James. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Hurting Distance by Sophie Hannah.The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey. A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read.

I haven't read Hurting Distance, so I'll put that on my TBR list. I really admire Tana French as an author who breaks the mold. Don't miss The Likeness.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dracula, the Classic Vampire

Vampires are all the rage today, but the classic vampire novel of them all is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Leslie S. Klinger's New Annotated Dracula couldn't be more timely or more insightful. It's so enjoyable to read. Using the definitive edition of the 1897 text, this annotated edition contains examples of all the evidence, including contemporary travel books, scientific texts, Victorian encyclopedias, as well as Stoker's own notes for the narrative and the manuscript itself.

There are over 1500 annotations that provide incredible background on language, customs and history of Victorian England and end of century Europe. Maps, photographs, and illustrations round out this incredible book.

Leslie S. Klinger is the author of the 3 Volume New Annotated Sherlock Holmes which won the Edgar and was nominated for the Agatha, Quill, and Macavity Awards. Catch Les on TOUR now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

San Francisco Mysteries/Mystery Readers Journal

Mystery Readers Journal: San Francisco themed issue

San Francisco, everybody's favorite city, with its icon Golden Gate Bridge, heavy fog, beautiful buildings, Ocean, Bay, and multi-ethnic neighborhoods, makes it the perfect setting for so many mystery novels, films and TV shows. Once again I received an abundance of wonderful articles, reviews and author! author! essays for a themed issue. We're going to have two issues of San Francisco Bay Area mysteries (Volume 24: 3, 4), so I'll be pushing back the other themed issues. The Journal (Volume 24:3) will be out in October. This issue will be available in October online at: Mystery Readers Journal. I'll post more about this issue when it comes out. First issue has articles by Meg Gardiner, Don Herron, Sheldon Siegel, Lisa Lutz, Richard Lupoff and many more great mystery authors who set their mysteries in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News?

Kate Atkinson is one of my favorite writers. When Will There Be Good News? (Little, Brown) completes the 'trilogy' she started with Case Histories and One Good Turn. Jackson Brodie ("I used to be in the police") is at the core of each novel, but the cast of characters in each is what makes the novels so great. Her literary thrillers, as they've been called, are really fantastic puzzles of interconnected lives and events that span many places and times. Her clever plots and beautiful writing keeps the reader engaged and in suspense from start to finish. I read this in one sitting, and once only sad that it was over.

When Will There Be Good News? is not a crime novel in the usual sense. It doesn't fit any pattern, and this uniqueness is what makes it such a satisfying read. Nobody really solves anything, but things come together and troubles are resolved. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of crimes, but they're not so much solved as resolved. Jackson uses her astonishing skill of giving us multiple voices and multiple mysteries in one narrative.

I particularly liked Reggie Chase, a 16 year old orphan wise beyond her years. It was also great to see Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe, not your usual cup of tea in this novel. In an interview that Amy Cox Williams Atkinson said she's completed this trilogy, but she doesn't rule out bringing Jackson Brodie back. I certainly hope she does--and Reggie with him.

Also when asked if there are any crime or mystery authors she's been fond of over the years, she said Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and Laura Lippman. Good company.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Demise of Kate Derie's ClueLass and Deadly Directory websites

Kate Derie, Associate Editor, Mystery Readers Journal, is best known as ClueLass. She's been the editor of Cluelass for many years. I knew she was closing down the website, but her fans will be happy to know that she will continue to edit Mystery Readers Journal.

It's very sad. Kate's Cluelass site and Deadly Directory were a great service to the mystery community. Times change, technology changes, and projects generated from the heart can't continue forever.

Here's a note Kate sent to The Rap Sheet, one of my favorite sites for up to the minute info, reviews and so much more.

I’m sorry to announce that is closing down. After 13 years, it’s time for me to pursue other interests. Thank you to everyone who has sent messages over the years.

Dave Robeson has sent us a farewell extravaganza of over 500 books, available at the usual place ( The database will be taken down, but information about books from your favorite authors is available at Fantastic Fiction (
For those of you looking for information similar to what our Deadly Directory and Mysterious Home Page has provided, you might try Mystery Readers Journal (, for links to bookstores, magazines, and associations. It’s also a wonderful magazine with articles by many of your favorite authors, new and old.

Book Clubs

Several authors offer their services to bookclubs. They ask to visit, offer books, suggest conference calls. Most book groups like this, but I've had notes from a few who feel they're being bombarded by authors. My feeling is that this should be the worst of their troubles. One can always say no. Some of the authors can be intense with their marketing methods, but I find that most are pretty lowkey.

N. M Kelby has a few contests and book club offers that came across my email yesterday, and I thought I'd share it will you.

I'd like to make an offer to the membership, if I can. I would like to give each book club one copy of MURDER AT THE BAD GIRL'S BAR AND GRILL. The first 20 clubs to e-mail me at will receive a book.

If the book is chosen for the club, I have a special gift pack I send out. I am also available to speak to the group via phone.

There's also a contest. I'm giving away $100 gift certificate for the bookstore of your choice. Here's the link.!.html

Don't forget to check out the Mystery Readers International list of Mystery Book Clubs/Reading Groups. Send your group, location, meeting times, contact emails and phone numbers, what you're reading and anything else relevant. See the MRI, NorCal chapter, Fall reading list in this blog.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jacqueline Winspear TV and print

Somewhere, and I think it was the Sisters in Crime newsletter, I read that books 7 and 8 in Jacqueline Winspear's wonderful Maisie Dobbs series sold to Harper. Also, the TV rights to this popular series were sold to Sally Head Productions, producer of the Prime Suspect series. Cool! Looking forward to reading and viewing.

Jacqueline Winspear won the Macavity Award in 2006 for Pardonable Lies.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Vampires, Mystery and More: True Blood

Charlaine Harris, author of the Southern Vampire series featuring Sookie Stackhouse has hit the big time. True Blood starts Sunday on HBO. Who doesn't like a vampire? Harris's vampire is unique, and this series should be good since it comes from Alan Ball ("Six Feet Under'). Show stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer.

Sounds intriguing and exciting. Good going, Charlaine. The Sookie Stackhouse series is great. Don't think the series will come directly from the books, so go out and get them and start reading. You won't be disappointed.

HBO website has lots of tie-ins to the show: a graphic novel, a Tru Blood Beverage!, t-shirts and more. You can also sign up for the newsletter, view behind-the-scenes video and find links. There's even a True Blood Community Board.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tana French The Likeness

Just finished The Likeness, and Edgar Award winner Tana French’s second novel is as good or even better than In the Woods, a book that won many mystery awards. Cassie Maddox from In the Woods is at the center of this novel, which is written from a totally different point of view.

It’s said that everyone has a doppelganger, a double, but when a woman is discovered stabbed in a cottage, she not only looks like Cassie, but she is identified as Lexie Madison, an undercover alias created for Cassie a few years before. Although this may sound a bit far-fetched, French treats it so well that it’s the irony of the situation that draws you into the book. Cassie goes undercover again to discover who murdered ‘Lexie Madison’ and who was Lexie Madison. Her discovery is as much about herself as it is about the victim.

This novel is both character driven and plot driven. French does a great job of delineating the four graduate student housemates with their interrelationships, distinct personalities and motivations. The house where these students live is also a character, and the house defines them. Even if you get lost in their idylls, you're back up front and close to center with Cassie, as she searches for the killer of Lexie, who made up the fifth of this ‘merry’ band.

I learned a lot about undercover skills that are integrated, defined and revealed in this book.

The whole plot revolves around the theme of ‘likeness’-- who's who and who you really.

French’s writing style is dense and descriptive. The Likeness is a long book, but one I couldn’t put down. I highly recommend this exceptional mystery.

Read an essay by Tana French from the Mystery Readers Journal.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dying for Chocolate

Who doesn't like chocolate? There are so many mysteries devoted to chocolate, but rather than list them all, I thought I'd sweeten your day with a recipe for a Deadly Chocolate Flourless Cake.

A little background on all the chocolate in our office: Murder on the Menu/TeamBuilding Unlimited (my other hat) does an awesome chocolate tasting. We usually give our clients all the chocolate that's leftover after a tasting, and we bring bags to make it convenient. Nevertheless, even though we do our best to give chocolate away, our office always seems to be filled with lots--from 40% to 90% cacao-- from many different chocolate companies and regions.

So yesterday I decided to make use of some of that left over dark chocolate. I found a very easy fantastic recipe for a flourless chocolate cake. For the recipe go to my other blog: Murderous Musings/Team Building Talk.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day: Holidays can be Murder

Labor Day. Here's a book for the day. Labor Day Murder by Lee Harris. This is the tenth in her series of holiday-themed mystery novels featuring Christine Bennett, a 30 something blonde who left the convent after 15+ years to find love, marriage and motherhood soon there after. She also began solving murders. Labor Day Murder takes place on Fire Island at the end of the summer.

I love mysteries that have a theme, so it's not surprising that the Winter issue of Mystery Readers Journal will focus on Crime for the Holidays. Halloween is a natural, as is Christmas, but I've already received lots of articles that focus on other holidays such as Thanksgiving, both American and Canadian, Guy Fawkes Day, and Guy Fawkes Day. I'm still looking for articles, reviews and Author! Author! essays for the Crime for the Holiday issue.

I'll be posting a list of Halloween mysteries in October, so please send me titles.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tuesday Mystery Readers Group List of Books

Mystery Readers International's East Bay mystery group has been meeting for over 35 years. Hard to believe! We meet every Tuesday night at my home in Berkeley. Sometimes we have a group of books with a theme (Music mysteries, Italian Mysteries, food mysteries, award winners), and sometimes we read just recent good books.

For the Fall group, I've put together a group of well written books that because of an ongoing theme that some will find disturbing will make for good discussion. Interesting that so many news mysteries have the same theme. I've tried to break up that theme with a variety of lighter or different themed books.

September 9 Ariana Franklin's The Mistress of the Art of Death
September 23 Tana French's In the Woods
September 30 Sally Wright's Pursuit and Persuasion
October 7 Jennifer McMahon's Island of Lost Girls
October 14 Laura Lippman's What the Dead Knows
October 21 Martin Suter's A Deal with the Devil
October 28 Lisa Lutz' The Spellman files
November 4 John Hart's The King of Lies
November 11 Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness

Group is open to everyone. Let me know if you'd like to join us.

Around the World in 80 Sleuths

In relationship to my panel at Bouchercon in Baltimore, Round the World with Janet and Friends, you'll want to check out this article in the Independent entitled Around the world in 80 Sleuths. This is one of the best lists I've seen. It's not all inclusive (one mystery per country or city), but 80! Great choices, too. I found several mysteries, new to me. My TBR list keeps growing. This list will also keep Mystery Readers Journal themes going for a long time to come.

By the way, the entire program for Bouchercon has just come out. Programming starts at 8:30, October 9 and runs through Sunday, October 12 at 1:30. There's 5 track paneling, so making choices will be very, very hard. Guess that's the price we fans pay. Too much of a good thing?

Mystery Author Sally Wright in Berkeley

Many of our local Bay Area readers and writers were lucky enough to attend a fascinating evening with Sally Wright, author of the Ben Reese mysteries. What a terrific evening. Not only did Wright talk about her series featuring a university archivist and ex-WWII scout, but she talked about her research. Sally Wright, a Renaissance woman, has written music, poetry, academic articles and fiction. Clearly not all research takes place in the library, she regaled us with stories of hawking. One of the Ben Reese books involves hawking, and Sally Wright went to Scotland where she went into the field with different types of hawks--and ferrets.

Sally Wright takes the academic mystery to a whole new level. Her books, set in the 1960s, are 'historical' as well as academic. Writing a series so close in time to Ben's military service keeps them topical and relevant in techniques and situations. Sally Wright told us she s
tarted writing the Ben Reese books after she badgered an archivist she knew into telling her what he'd done in the war. The contrast between what that was, and what he did when she knew him, made her want to create a fictional character with those internal contrasts.

Watches Of The Night is book 5 in the Ben Reese series (published by Severn House Publishers in hardback in the UK in March 2008 and in the US in June 2008). Code of Silence, book 6, is a 1957 prequel to the series, to be published by Severn House Publishers in hardback in 2008. Read an excerpt.

Sally Wright has created an original niche in themed mystery fiction. Add to that some great writing, and I can only advise you to go out and read the entire series. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mystery Readers Journal: Around the World in a Magazine

Writing about my Bouchercon panel yesterday, I thought about all the issues of Mystery Readers Journal that were set in other countries. Mystery Readers Journal is a quarterly themed hardcopy magazine, and all reviews and articles focus on the special theme.

I especially enjoy the Author! Author! section of MRJ. Mystery authors write about themselves, their books, and why they chose the theme of the issue to incorporate into their novels. MRJ is like a convention in a magazine. The last issue, Irish Mysteries, showed many sides of Irish mystery writing from noir to cozy . We've also had issues on France, Italy (2 issues), Scandinavia, the Far East, Pacific Northwest, Oxford, Canada, New England and the South (2 issues). Coming up MRJ will have issues on San Francisco, Africa, and Los Angeles. All this in addition to themes such as Art Mysteries, Theatrical Mysteries, Sports Mysteries, History Mysteries, etc.

Mystery Readers Journal is in its 24th year. Subscribe to MRJ

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bouchercon Panel

Just got my Bouchercon panel assignment, and it's terrific. Many of you know that I love mysteries set in other places. As Emily Dickinson wrote, "There is no frigate like a book/ To take us lands away." My panel aptly titled Been Around the World: Travel the globe with Janet and friends will do just that on Saturday October 11, 2008 at the World Mystery Convention in Baltimore, MD.

My panelists include Charles Benoit (India, Thailand, Egypt), Jason Goodwin (Turkey), Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland) and Michael Stanley (Africa). I can't think of a better group of mystery authors. Not only will we travel the globe together, but we'll also go back in history for some of the discussion.

So join me, as we travel the globe on October 11 in Baltimore. O.K. here's the bad news. This panel will start at 8:30 a.m., EDT. That's 5:30 am. PDT for me! If you're coming to Bouchercon, hope you'll join us. If not, I'm bound to write about it. Any questions you'd like me to ask this distinguished list of authors, let me know.