Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Seeking Silver in Music City

Organizers of this year’s Killer Nashville convention, set to take place in the Tennessee state capital from August 18 to 21, have announced the finalists for their 2022 Silver Falchion Awards.

There are 21 categories of nominees, covering everything from adventure fiction and science fiction to historical yarns and juvenile tales. Below are the contenders in two classifications that should be of particular interest to Rap Sheet readers.

Best Mystery:
An Ambush of Widows, by Jeff Abbot (Grand Central)
Red Rabbit on the Run, by Jodi Bowersox (Independently published)
Bluff, by John DeDakis (Speaking Volumes)
A Killer’s Daughter, by Jenna Kernan (Bookouture)
When Silence Screams, by Mark Edward Langley
(Independently published)
The Dark Remains, by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin
(Europa Editions)
Spirit, by Elle Andrews Patt (Blue Beech Press)
The Archivist, by Rex Pickett (Blackstone)
The Scorpion’s Tail, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
(Grand Central)
Grave Reservations, by Cherie Priest (Atria)
The Ruthless, by David Putnam (Oceanview)
Hunted in the Holler, by Drew Strickland (Independently published)
Death and Consequences, by Cheril Thomas (Tred Avon Press)
The First Day of Spring, by Nancy Tucker (Riverhead)
Bye, Buy Baby, by Becki Willis (Clear Creek)

Best Investigator:
All That Fall, by Kris Calvin (Crooked Lane)
The Blessed Bones, by Kathryn Casey (Bookouture)
Girl Missing, by Kate Gable (Byrd)
Be Mine Forever, by D.K. Hood (Bookouture)
In the Name Of, by Candace Irving (Blind Edge Press)
Now & Then, by Justin M. Kiska (Level Best)
The Lost Dragon Murder, by Michael Allan Mallory (Booklocker)
The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon, by Marcy McCreary (CamCat)
Striking Range, by Margaret Mizushima (Crooked Lane)
Hide in Place, by Emilya Naymark (Crooked Lane)
At First Light, by Barbara Nickless (Thomas & Mercer)
The Labyrinth, by Owen Parr (Independently published)
The Winter Girls, by Roger Stelljes (Bookouture)

You’ll find the full complement of rivals here. Winners are set to be declared at Killer Nashville on Saturday, August 20.

Acclaimed in the Antipodes

The Australian Crime Writers Association has circulated its shortlist of nominees for the 2022 Ned Kelly Awards, which since 1996 have been handed out to exceptional works by Australian authors.

Best Crime Fiction:
The Enemy Within, by Tim Ayliffe (Simon & Schuster)
The Others, by Mark Brandi (Hachette)
You Had it Coming, by B.M. Carroll (Profile)
The Chase, by Candice Fox (Bantam)
Kill Your Brother, by Jack Heath (Allen & Unwin)
The Family Doctor, by Debra Oswald (Allen & Unwin)
The Deep, by Kyle Perry (Michael Joseph)

Best Debut Crime Fiction:
Sweet Jimmy, by Bryan Brown (Allen & Unwin)
Shadow Over Edmund Street, by Suzanne Frankham
(Journey to Words)
Cutters End, by Margaret Hickey (Penguin)
Banjawarn, by Josh Kemp (UWA)

Best True Crime:
The Mother Wound, by Amani Haydar (Macmillan)
Larrimah: A Missing Man, an Eyeless Croc and an Outback Town of 11 People Who Mostly Hate Each Other, by Caroline Graham and Kylie Stevenson (Allen & Unwin)
Banquet: The Untold Story of Adelaide’s Family Murders,
by Debi Marshall (Vintage)
A Witness of Fact: The Peculiar Case of Chief Forensic Pathologist Colin Manock, by Drew Rooke (Scribe)

Best International Crime Fiction:
Case Study, by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Text)
The Heron’s Cry, by Ann Cleeves (Macmillan)
The Maid, by Nita Prose (HarperCollins)
Cry Wolf, by Hans Rosenfeldt (HarperCollins)

The winners of this year’s Neddies will be announced in August.

(Hat tip to In Reference to Murder.)

Monday, July 04, 2022

PaperBack: “Next Time Is for Life”

Part of a series honoring the late author and blogger Bill Crider.



Next Time Is for Life, by “Paul Warren,” aka Frank Sandiford (Dell, 1953). Cover illustration by Robert Schulz.

Described as a “shockingly graphic autobiography,” this pulpy work—“a mix of authenticity and exaggeration”—tells the story of Frank Sandiford, who was born in London in 1916 and immigrated to the United States at age 8. Donna Seaman writes in her book Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists (2017) that the scrawny, buck-toothed Sandiford “was a misfit in school,” that he started shoplifting and joined up with a gang, and that he was jailed at 17—the first but not only time he would be incarcerated. Behind bars, Sandiford became an “ardent reader” and reorganized the prison library. While serving time in Illinois’ Stateville Penitentiary, he also met the notorious “thrill killer” Nathan Leopold Jr., who, in 1924, had helped fellow University of Chicago student Richard Leob kidnap and murder a 14-year-old boy. Leopold brought Sandiford books “and trie[d] to enlist him as a teacher,” says Seaman.

Released in 1944, Sandiford met and wooed Chicago painter Gertrude Abercrombie, often referred to as “the queen of the bohemian artists.” Four years later, according to Seaman—who includes Abercrombie among her profile subjects in Identity Unknown—Abercrombie divorced her then-husband in order to wed Sandiford, who by that point had earned some minor attention as a music critic (and friend of jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker). The new couple had been together only five years when Next Time Is for Life was published. “This explicit tale of crime and punishment, this sensational exposé of prison violence and sexuality among incarcerated men, hit with the power of a sonic boom,” observes Seaman. Even former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt found it a proper subject for discussion, remarking in a January 1954 newspaper column:
You may read this book and feel as I did that it is rather hard to be interested in every step of a criminal career. How you come to stealing and how you carry on becomes eventually repetitious, but the psychological development from the time that [Sandiford] felt rejected by his family as a boy, and in the detention home found a little circle of which he could be a part, that is most interesting.
Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner, too, was attracted to Sandiford/Warren’s memoir. He provided it with a brief foreword, remarking in its pages that “the story has the ring of truth. The author knows the inside of prisons and he knows the confusion and frustrations that are inside of a convict’s mind.”

In 1959, Abercrombie and Sandiford reportedly provided American author James Purdy with the models he needed for painter Eloise Brace and her ex-con husband, Jerome, two of the characters in his debut novel, Malcolm. However, the pair divorced in 1964. As far as I can discern, Sandiford never penned another book.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Foul Play for the Fourth

Who knew there were more than 90 mystery, crime, and thriller novels incorporating the United States of America’s Independence Day, July 4? That’s how many adult-level books appear in Janet Rudolph’s updated list, posted recently in Mystery Fanfare. Everything from Harold Adams’ The Fourth of July Wake and Meg Chittenden’s Dead on the 4th of July to Kassandra Lamb’s A Star-Spangled Mayfair, Clyde Linsley’s Die Like a Hero, Carolyn Hart’s Yankee Doodle Dead, and Nancy Coco’s Oh Say Can You Fudge is cited. Rudolph includes, as well, short stories, children’s mysteries, and one true-crime yarn associated with this national holiday. Something for most every taste, it seems.

If you are an American, let tomorrow be your opportunity to celebrate the rights and freedoms you’re granted by citizenship—before Republicans try to steal more of them away!

Take Your Pick

We’re not quite two weeks into summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s time to check in again on The Rap Sheet’s curated compilation of crime, mystery, and thriller works set to go on sale—on both sides of the Atlantic—between now and Labor Day.

As promised, I have been enlarging that catalogue ever since it was first posted on June 1, adding titles I wasn’t aware of originally. What began as an inventory of more than 390 works now well exceeds the 400 mark. There’s no way any individual could read everything mentioned there, but it’s interesting to pore through the choices and realize just how diverse and impressive this genre has become.

You’ll find our full rundown of releases here.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Bagging Daggers

Wouldn’t you know it? Just yesterday, while visiting a bookshop in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, I picked up and thought about buying a copy of British author Ray Celestin’s Sunset Swing—the fourth entry in his “City Blues Quartet”—but ultimately passed, because I haven’t yet read his third novel, The Mobster’s Lament (2019). Now I discover that Sunset Swing has won not just one, but two 2022 Gold Dagger awards from the UK Crime Writers’ Association. Drat, I should’ve bought that copy after all!

Anyway, the CWA announced its latest Dagger award recipients this last Wednesday, in 10 different categories.

Gold Dagger: Sunset Swing, by Ray Celestin (Mantle)

Also nominated: Before You Knew My Name, by Jacqueline Bublitz (Little, Brown); Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Headline); The Unwilling, by John Hart (Zaffre); The Shadows of Men, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker); and The Trawlerman, by William Shaw (Riverrun)

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: Dead Ground, by M.W. Craven (Constable)

Also nominated: Find You First, by Linwood Barclay (HQ); The Pact, by Sharon Bolton (Orion); The Devil’s Advocate, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion); Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Headline); and Dream Girl, by Laura Lippman (Faber and Faber)

John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: The Appeal, by Janice Hallett (Viper)

Also nominated: Welcome to Cooper, by Tariq Ashkanani (Thomas & Mercer); Repentance, by Eloísa Díaz (Weidenfeld & Nicolson); The Mash House, by Alan Gillespie (Unbound); Where Ravens Roost, by Karin Nordin (HQ); How to Kidnap the Rich, by Rahul Raina (Little, Brown); and Waking the Tiger, by Mark Wightman (Hobeck)

Historical Dagger: Sunset Swing, by Ray Celestin (Mantle)

Also nominated: April in Spain, by John Banville (Faber and Faber); Crow Court, by Andy Charman (Unbound); Not One of Us, by Alis Hawkins (Canelo); Edge of the Grave, by Robbie Morrison (Macmillan); and A Corruption of Blood, by Ambrose Parry (Canongate)

Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger: Hotel Cartagena, by Simone Buchholz, translated by Rachel Ward (Orenda)

Also nominated: Bullet Train, by Kōtarō Isaka, translated by Sam Malissa (Harvill Secker); Oxygen, by Sacha Naspini, translated by Clarissa Botsford (Europa Editions); People Like Them, by Samira Sedira, translated by Lara Vergnaud (Raven); and The Rabbit Factor, by Antti Tuomainen, translated by David Hackston (Orenda)

Short Story Dagger: “Flesh of a Fancy Woman,” by Paul Magrs (from Criminal Pursuits: Crime Through Time, edited by Samantha Lee Howe; Telos)

Also nominated: “Blindsided,” by Caroline England (from Criminal Pursuits); “London,” by Jo Nesbø (from The Jealousy Man and Other Stories, by Jo Nesbø; Harvill Secker); “With the Others,” by T.M. Logan (from Afraid of the Shadows, edited by Miranda Jewess; Criminal Minds); “Changeling,” by Bryony Pearce (from Criminal Pursuits); and “When I Grow Up,” by Robert Scragg (from Afraid of the Shadows)

ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-fiction: The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice, by Julia Laite (Profile)

Also nominated: The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion, by Gwen Adshead and Eileen Horne (Faber and Faber); The Dublin Railway Murder, by Thomas Morris (Harvill Secker); The Unusual Suspect, by Ben Machell (Canongate); Empire of Pain, by Patrick Radden Keefe (Picador); and The Irish Assassins: Conspiracy, Revenge and the Murders That Stunned an Empire, by Julie Kavanagh (Grove Press)

Dagger in the Library (“for a body of work by an established crime writer that has long been popular with borrowers from libraries”): Mark Billingham

Also nominated: Cath Staincliffe, Edward Marston, Lin Anderson, and Susan Hill

Publishers’ Dagger (“awarded annually to the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year”): Faber and Faber

Also nominated: HarperCollins, Harper Fiction; Penguin Random House, Michael Joseph; Pushkin Press, Pushkin Vertigo; Titan; and Profile Books, Viper

Debut Dagger: The 10-12, by Anna Maloney

Also nominated: Henry’s Bomb, by Kevin Bartlett; Holloway Candle, by Laura Ashton Hill; The Dead of Egypt, by David Smith; and The Dieppe Letters, by Liz Rachel Walker

In addition, the CWA presented Edinburgh-born historical crime novelist C.J. Sansom with its 2022 Diamond Dagger “for a lifetime contribution to crime writing in the English language.” And its Red Herring award (“for services to crime writing and the CWA”) went posthumously to Thalia Proctor, who passed away in April.

READ MORE:Diamonds Are Forever …,” by Martin Edwards (‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’).

The Strand Narrows Its Choices

So much for my mini-vacation. After a week spent hosting a good friend from out of town, followed by a few days of much-needed leisure in Canada with my wife, what should greet me upon my return? Almost 700 unwanted messages needing to be cleared out of my e-mailbox, plus developments aplenty in the world of crime fiction.

In the way of news, let’s begin​ with the announcement, by The Strand Magazine, of its 2022 Critics Awards nominees, in two categories.

Best Mystery Debut:
Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown)
The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Atria)
Bullet Train, by Kōtarō Isaka (Abrams)
Lightseekers, by Femi Kayode (Mulholland)
Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
All Her Little Secrets, by Wanda M. Morris (Morrow)

Best Mystery Novel:
The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
The Low Desert, by Tod Goldberg (Counterpoint)
These Toxic Things, by Rachel Howzell Hall (Thomas & Mercer)
Dream Girl, by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
1979, by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly)

Additionally, The Strand has chosen to give its 2022 Publisher of the Year Award to Morgan Entrekin, president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic Inc., and its latest Lifetime Achievement Awards to authors Sandra Brown and Nelson DeMille.

These commendations will be presented in early September.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Revue of Reviewers: 6-30-22

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.

















Wednesday, June 29, 2022

So Far, So Good

Although I have engaged in similar exercises in the past, I’m not sure I would feel comfortable right now posting a list of the “best crime novels of the year … so far.” Thanks to my concussion in March, I lost more than a month of reading, and still have a stack of untouched new books waiting for my attention. Glancing through my list of works consumed this year, I’m guessing that only one or two will rank among my favorites of 2022. I still have a lot of catching up to do.

That’s apparently not the case for editors at online retailer Amazon, who recently posted their picks of what they say are the 20 best mysteries and thrillers released in the United States during the first half of the year. Here are their choices:

The Maid, by Nita Prose (Ballantine)
City on Fire, by Don Winslow (Morrow)
Carolina Moonset, by Matt Goldman (Forge)
The Overnight Guest, by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row)
Blood Sugar, by Sascha Rothchild (Putnam)
The Love of My Life, by Rosie Walsh (Pamela Dorman)
Hidden Pictures, by Jason Rekulak (Flatiron)
The Bangalore Detectives Club, by Harini Nagendra (Pegasus Crime)
The Violence, by Delilah S. Dawson (Del Rey)
A Flicker in the Dark, by Stacy Willingham (Minotaur)
The Christie Affair, by Nina de Gramont (St. Martin’s Press)
The Chase, by Candice Fox (Forge)
The Cartographers, by Peng Shepherd (Morrow)
The Island, by Adrian McKinty (Little, Brown)
The Children on the Hill, by Jennifer McMahon (Gallery/Scout Press)
One-Shot Harry, by Gary Phillips (Soho Crime)
One of Us Is Dead, by Jeneva Rose (Blackstone)
Two Nights In Lisbon, by Chris Pavone (MCD)
Once a Thief, by Christopher Reich (Mulholland)
When You Are Mine, by Michael Robotham (Scribner)

I have read a measly two of those tales, and a couple more can be found in my swaying to-be-read stack. I don’t know how many other of those 20 I’ll get to before the end of the year. Sigh ...

* * *

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine editor George Easter has been busy, as well, compiling his contributors’ preferred titles of 2022. Here are Easter’s own top-five selections to date:

The Dark Flood, by Deon Meyer (Atlantic Monthly)
Bad Actors, by Mick Herron (Soho Crime)
Even the Darkest Night, by Javier Cercas (Knopf)
The Botanist, by M.W. Craven (Constable)
Shifty’s Boys, by Chris Offutt (Grove Press)

You’ll find many more favored releases—both from DP critics and other editorial sources—by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Five Comers

Organizers of this year’s Bloody Scotland international crime-writing festival (September 15-18) have announced their shortlist of five nominees for the 2022 Bloody Scotland Debut Prize:

Welcome to Cooper, by Tariq Ashkanani (Thomas & Mercer)
Meantime, by Frankie Boyle (John Murray)
The Wolf Hunters, by Amanda Mitchison (Fledgling Press)
The Girl, The Crow, The Writer and The Fighter, by George Paterson (Into Books)
Hear No Evil, by Sarah Smith (Two Roads)

The winners of both this award and the 2022 McIlvanney Prize will be declared in Stirling, Scotland, on Thursday, September 15.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

New Zealand Rolls Out Its Finest



“A dozen years after we launched the Ngaio Marsh Awards to celebrate Kiwi crime, thriller, and mystery writing,” writes Craig Sisterson, founder of those annual New Zealand prizes, “it’s really gratifying to see how our local authors, experienced and new, continue to raise the bar and produce world-class stories.” This year’s longlist of Best Novel nominees—shown below—includes a trio of previous winners, a few past finalists, and five first-time contestants.

City of Vengeance, by D.V. Bishop (Macmillan)
Before You Knew My Name, by Jacqueline Bublitz (Allen & Unwin)
The Quiet People, by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
To the Sea, by Nikki Crutchley (HarperCollins)
Polaroid Nights, by Lizzie Harwood (Cuba Press)
Isobar Precinct, by Angelique Kasmara (Cuba Press)
Nancy Business, by R.W.R. McDonald (Allen & Unwin)
She’s a Killer, by Kirsten McDougall (Te Herenga Waka
University Press)
The Last Guests, by J.P. Pomare (Hachette)
The Devils You Know, by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin)
Quiet in Her Bones, by Nalini Singh (Hachette)
Waking the Tiger, by Mark Wightman (Hobeck)

The Best Novel and Best First Novel finalists will be announced sometime in early August, with the ultimate winners set to be revealed during a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held on the South Island of New Zealand from August 31 to September 4.

The Pause That Refreshes

Postings in The Rap Sheet will be sparser than normal over the next couple of weeks, as I try to take a mini-vacation from work responsibilities. Things should return to normal around here by the beginning of July. I hope to see you back then.

Friday, June 17, 2022

“Tears” Triumphs Once More

Shawn “S.A.” Cosby is definitely on a winning streak. Just two weeks ago, his latest novel, Razorblade Tears, won two—count ’em, two—Thriller Awards from the International Thriller Writers organization. Now comes word that Tears has also picked up the 2021 Hammett Prize, a commendation given by the International Association of Crime Writers, North America, to a book, originally published in the English language in the United States or Canada, “that best represents the conception of literary excellence in crime writing.”

Also nominated for this award were Stung, by William Deverell (ECW Press); Five Decembers, by James Kestrel (Hard Case Crime); Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday); and The Sacrifice of Lester Yates, by Robin Yocum (Arcade Crime Wave).

Previous winners of the annual Hammett Prize include Stephen Mack Jones (August Snow), Lou Berney (November Road), Jane Stanton Hitchcock (Bluff), and David Joy (When These Mountains Burn).

Revue of Reviewers: 6-17-22

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.











Stirling Finalizes Its Lineup

Once again, I shall be unable to attend the Bloody Scotland international crime-writing festival this coming September 15-18 in Stirling, Scotland. This is too bad, because the schedule of speakers, panels, and other happenings that will comprise this 10th-anniversary celebration sounds terrific. From a news release:
2022 sees the return of several Bloody Scotland favourites that we haven’t seen since the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Our dramatic torchlit procession through Stirling[’s] historic old town led by the pipes and drums of the Royal Burgh of Stirling Pipe Band and Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band encourages locals who don’t normally attend literary events to get involved. Scotland tackle England in our crime writers’ football match at the new venue of King’s Park, a free fun event which is also aimed at breaking down barriers. There will be a return of the ever-popular Crime at the Coo cabaret featuring an array of crime writers showing off their musical talents and the much-loved Quiz this year takes the form of Vaseem Khan and Abir Mukherjee’s ‘Red Hot Night of a Million Games’ in which they steal the best bits from the game shows of yesteryear and mash them up into something truly remarkable.
The complete program of events, as well as a link to where you can purchase various tickets, is to be found here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Softcover Standouts

Last month, organizers of the annual Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award announced the 18 books and authors longlisted for the 2022 prize. Today, we have the half-dozen finalists:

The Night Hawks, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
True Crime Story, by Joseph Knox (Penguin)
Daughters of Night, by Laura
Shepherd-Robinson (Pan)
Slough House, by Mick Herron
(John Murray)
Midnight at Malabar House, by Vaseem Khan (Hodder Paperbacks)
The Last Thing to Burn, by Will Dean (Hodder Paperbacks)

Members of the public are invited to vote here for their favorites among that shortlist. This selection process will close on Friday, July 8, with the winner to be declared on Thursday, July 21—opening night of the 2022 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, in Harrogate, England. The victor will receive £3,000 in prize money, plus “a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.”

As has been explained previously by In Reference to Murder, this award, “now in its 18th year, is presented by Harrogate International Festivals and recognizes the best crime novels published in the UK and Ireland in paperback over the past year.”