Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Case of the Missing Mystery Writers

OK, so we’re experimenting with something new here at The Rap Sheet. For a while now, I have been trying to figure out how to integrate Internet polling software into the site, and I finally stumbled across a simple method, thanks to Jeri Westerson’s blog. Provided free of charge (at least for the time being) by an enterprise called Pollhost, the software makes it possible for us to post, monitor, and change at will surveys related to books, authors, and other crime-fiction-related subject matter.

My first try at what I hope will become an amusing, irregular addition to this blog can be found in a silver box at the bottom of the right-hand column. The poll there asks: Which long-missing crime novelist would you most like to see turning out new books? It’s a question inspired by a note I received recently from author Michael Newton, asking me whatever happened to California novelist Martha C. Lawrence, who penned five books for St. Martin’s Minotaur featuring a San Diego private eye and parapsychologist named Elizabeth Chase before seemingly disappearing from the scene. Her last Chase novel was Ashes of Aries, published in 2001. (For those of you who are now also wondering about Lawrence’s fate, let it be known that I’ve sent her an e-note requesting just such information. I shall report whatever I hear back.)

Newton’s query got me to thinking about other writers in this genre whose work I once found interesting, but who appear to have fallen off the face of the planet. People such as Arthur Lyons, a Palm Springs restaurateur and the creator of Jacob Asch, the half-Jewish journalist turned private eye who appeared in 11 books, including Castles Burning (1980) and False Pretenses (1994); and Stephen Greenleaf, an Edgar-nominated lawyer who produced 14 novels starring San Francisco P.I. John Marshall Tanner, the last of which was Ellipsis (2000). Likewise, whatever became of Jonathan Valin, creator of Cincinnati sleuth Harry Stoner (The Lime Pit)? Or Karen Kijewski, the Anthony and Shamus award winner who gave us Sacramento, California, detective Kat Colorado (Katwalk)? Or Anthony Olcott, the Russian studies professor whose 1981 novel, Murder at the Red October, introduced Russian security officer Ivan Duvakin? Or, for that matter, William Jasperson, who birthed former baseball pitcher and fly fisherman Peter Boone, star of two promising novels from the 1980s, Lake Effect and Native Angels? Among the missing, as well, is A.E. Maxwell (the joint nom de plume of Ann and Evan Maxwell), who published eight action-filled books about a Los Angeles-based troubleshooter named Fiddler (Just Another Day in Paradise, Murder Hurts). And what of Australian William Marshall, who gave us the Yellowthread Street mysteries (The Hatchet Man, Skullduggery), along with a couple of 1880s thrillers (The New York Detective, Faces in the Crowd) led by New York City cop Virgil Tillman? Finally, what of R.D. Wingfield, the ex-oil businessman whose five adventures of British Detective Inspector Jack Frost spawned a popular UK TV series starring David Jason? He hasn’t delivered a new installment of his series since 1999’s Winter Frost.

To the best of my knowledge, none of these people has died in the last decade. They’ve merely stopped writing crime fiction, for whatever reasons. And I wish they’d resume production. Post haste.

But what do you think? Which of the 10 authors I have listed in this first-ever Rap Sheet poll would you most like to see turn out a new book? You can vote for more than one person, if you’d prefer. And suggestions of other missing mysterymakers are welcome in the Comments section of this post.

FOLLOW-UP:The Please-Come-Back Kids,” by J. Kingston Pierce
(The Rap Sheet).

33 comments:

Charles Ardai said...

How about Jerome Doolittle, whose Tom Bethany vanished after 6 novels?

Bill Peschel said...

I'll be interested in Kijewski. This was asked on DorothyL a year or so ago and no info surfaced. I remember her books with fondness.

Graham said...

I havent' read much of any of those guys, but Stephen Greenleaf wrote the saddest detective story ever, called "Iris".

Sarah said...

Even though I know she's been working on some things over the last few years, I sure miss Katy Munger. What a voice.

The problem, of course, with many of the writers in the poll is that they lost their publishing contracts for whatever reason and couldn't find their way back in. Or perhaps they decided to do other things.

Cameron said...

I sure miss Jay Russell who did the Marty Burns supernatural mysteries and the brilliant Brown Harvest

Cameron said...

Ooh, whatever happened to Scott Phillips? He hasn't done anything for awhile.

Marlyn said...

Kathleen Taylor.

Marlyn said...

Oh, forgot to mention I'd like to hear from Martha Lawrence again.
I loved her books.

Euro Crime said...

Keep your fingers crossed but R D Wingfield is currently writing a new Frost - see blog entry - new frost

dickadler said...

How about Robert Irvine, who did a great series on Moroni Traveler, a Mormon detective in Salt Lake City?

What happened to the guy whose name escapes me who did a futuristic series set in a fascist Scotland?

The Maxwells would certainly be welcome, as would anything new from Rick Barre (whose real-life setting along Calif. 101 for a p.i. series was wiped out by a huge mudslide last year)... And how about another book in that fine Civil War series about an upstate New York librarian whose name also needs Googling or Amazon searching? And Dianne Day's lovely books about a woman p.i. in San Francisco right after the 1906 earthquake? Or that wonderful series about a midwife in post-Revolutionary War Maine?

Great idea, Mr. Pierce

Andi said...

Choosing from those you list, STEPHEN GREENLEAF! Iknow, I was yelling but I want SOMEONE to HEAR ME! ahem. er, I've never been happy that he's no longer writing/beling published. Someone please fix this. He is/was one of our best pi writers if not generally writers of the genre.
And I know that some of those I want back aren't writing any more by choice, so complaining isn't fair because they don't want to anymore but well, I gotta say that i still miss them.
Of those not listed, I'm SO with Charles about Jerome Doolittle and his fabulous Tom Bethany.
Also Wendy Hornsby and Gary Alexander.
And I think Dick Adler means Miriam Grace Monfredo whom I was in touch with until a few years ago when some family crisis happened and then she just seemed to drop out of sight and her web site is gone as well. GREAT talent.
Or Margaret Lawrence/M K Lorense (but I might be wrong here in that I have a vague memory that that writer died?)
Isn't Evan Maxwell at least writing as himself?
andi

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Carolyn Wheat and Wendy Hornsby added to the list

Jeri Westerson said...

Glad I could help and inspire.

Juri said...

Wasn't there an interview with Greenleaf in Mystery*File a while ago? I think he said that his publishers weren't interested in his work anymore. Did he even have to resort to a POD house to get his stuff in print?

As for Scott Phillips, I can reveal that he is alive and working.

I.J.Parker said...

Only R.D. Wingfield. His Frost series is superb. Alas, I think he's given up on his readers.

Sarah said...

Dick, the futuristic Scotland series was written by Paul Johnston, who has a standalone thriller, THE DEATH LIST, due out next summer from MIRA.

Anonymous said...

I'd vote for Jonathan Valin. Unfortunately, it also seems that Les Roberts has joined this list, too--what happened to Milan Jacovich? And as others have said, Jerome Doolittle.

Anonymous said...

I'd vote for Aileen Schumacher, Martha Lawrence, or Wendy Hornsby.

Kent Morgan said...

I miss Rick Boyer, Frederick Huebner, John Leslie and Robert Sims Reid.

drew said...

...and while I know that Ben Schutz recently resurfaced after ten years, I sure would like to see a new Leo Haggerty.

David said...

William McIlvanney, who wrote some wonderful Scottish mysteries a while ago about a detective called Jack Laidlaw.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

I believe Sara is correct in saying that these writers lost their contracts. I just wrote something on my blog today about this.

I don't believe writers retire or choose to do something else (unless they need the money for the child's operation.) If they do they aren't real writers

Lois said...

In addition to some of those already mentioned, I'd like to see more from Lia Matera

Robin Agnew said...

Would love to see more from William Jasperson, Martha C. Lawrence and while I see Sandra Scoppettone has actually answered this herself I LOVED her Lauren Laurano series. Also loved R.D. Wingfield - kind of Rankinish before Rankin came along with a bit of Columbo thrown into the mix.

Anonymous said...

Would love to hear from Karen Kijewski. Read all her books and want more!!

Jason said...

I think it is safe to assume that all of the men and women we've mentioned have continued to write, for their private pleasure if nothing else. Men like Valin have redirected their talents elsewhere.

Richard said...

I too miss Arthur Lyons and Stephen Greenleaf a lot. Also Tom Kaponis, who wrote great books about poker before it was on tv.

Anonymous said...

I've read all of Karen Kijewski's 'Kat' crime mysteries. Would love to see more in the near future.

Sam55 said...

I would love to read Kijewski again - I always wondered what happened to her.

Anonymous said...

I happened upon this post doing a Google search to find out if Karen Kijewski is still writing. I just read her Kat Colorado series and wondered why she quit writing them.

Anonymous said...

I, too, just happened upon this post for the same reason. What happened to Karen Kijewski? Love her books!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the Karen Kijewski Kat Colorado series. Please write again!

Judy Stout said...

Any one find out any info on Karen Kijewski? I loved the Kat novels, I can't find any info on Karen or her writing. Please reply with any info. Thank you