Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gumbo and Gumshoes, Part I

Author Sara Paretsky—shown holding hands with a stilts artist—enjoys herself during Friday evening’s second line parade, which led Bouchercon-goers from the New Orleans Marriott (this year’s convention hotel) to downtown’s Orpheum Theater, site of the Anthony Awards presentations. (Photo by Edith Maxwell)

According to one official calculation, more than 1,890 people attended last week’s Bouchercon convention in New Orleans, Louisiana (September 15-18). That resulted in a lot of book-buying, a great number of friendships rekindled, countless drinks and meals consumed (the profusion of sugary beignets swallowed at the Café du Monde must, in itself, have been rather impressive), and even a couple of small but frightening real-life crimes perpetrated against attendees. It also led to the taking of what had to have been millions of photographs. Much of the Big Easy is, after all, downright beautiful with its ironwork balconies in the French Quarter, its historic Garden District homes, and the broad Mississippi sweeping past everything.

It would be nigh on impossible to collect all of the images captured during that overheated four-day gathering of crime-fiction readers. I am posting here, though, Part I of what I think is a representative gallery showing the participants and proceedings that made up this year’s 47th Bouchercon—the first time this conference has been held in the Pelican State’s largest city. Unless otherwise noted, these shots were provided by Rap Sheet contributor Ali Karim, who seemed omnipresent during the event.

Click on any of these images for enlargements.

Left to right: Ali Karim poses with Bouchercon 2016 co-chair Heather Graham in the cavernous book sales room.

Michael Connelly stages a public interview with fellow author Harlan Coben, this year’s American Guest of Honor.

Walter Mosley takes a moment to chat with Gary Phillips in the Bouchercon free books room.

Canadian writer Cathy Ace relishes a moment with Lee Child.

A Thursday morning panel discussion titled “Do You Feel Like I Do?”—about mystery fandom—featured (left to right) Bill Gottfried, Marvin Lachman, moderator Ali Karim, Robert E. McGinnis authority Art Scott, and David Magayna.

Jeffrey Siger, outgoing chair of the National Board of Bouchercon, displays his newest Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis mystery, Santorini Caesars.

Ali with Norwegian cop-turned-novelist Jørn Lier Horst.

What do you know, it’s Ali again—this time posing with Lynn Gross and her husband, Andrew Gross, author of the new historical thriller, The One Man.

New York City-based editor-publisher Otto Penzler, this year’s recipient of the David Thompson Special Service Award, alongside Lynn Gross and Harry Bosch creator Michael Connelly.

Thursday’s festivities concluded with a memorable opening ceremony, sponsored by publisher HarperCollins and kicked off by a Mardi Gras-style parade of small floats through the Marriott’s crowded Carondelet Ballroom. The video clip above (pardon the marginal quality, but it was shot in a dark space) shows that succession of decorated vehicles, led by one containing a prodigiously feathered Harlan Coben, followed by David Morrell and the rest of this year’s official guests of honor. Just like Mardi Gras, the float-riders tossed beaded necklaces to the assembled masses. One such souvenir, pitched by International Rising Star Guest of Honor Craig Robertson, hit me square in the face. Fortunately, there was no reason for medical attention.

Shots editor Mike Stotter (left) and Ali Karim flank Harlan Coben, whose latest Myron Bolitar novel, Home, looks to be a shocker.

Don’t mess with these two: horror-fiction specialist Nanci Kalanta (aka Facebook’s Mountain Jane Laurel) teams up with the hyper-energetic Mr. Karim to guard the Marriott lobby.

I was first introduced to Chicago novelist Lori Rader-Day during an airport shuttle ride in to Raleigh, North Carolina, where we were both scheduled to attend Bouchercon 2015. I had barely heard of her at the time, and had read precisely none of her work. But during that convention she won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel (for The Black Hour), and I went on to read her second book, Little Pretty Things, and name it as one of my favorite crime/mystery novels of 2015. With her third book, The Day I Died, due out next April, we took a moment in advance of one of this year’s Bouchercon panel discussions to reminisce. Oh, yeah, that’s me on the right. (Photo by Janet Rudolph)

Group breakfasts are a Bouchercon tradition, with most folks finding a favorite local joint. This year’s pick for my gang was the Ruby Slipper, on Magazine Street, just blocks from the Marriott. Although some friends eschewed the wonders of such comestibles as grits and fried green tomatoes (yeah, I’m looking at you, Ali), I dug in with enthusiasm, ordering the Slipper’s Southern Breakfast every a.m. The attendance at these repasts varied per day. Above, you’ll see one gathering, featuring (left to right) yours truly, Detectives Beyond Borders blogger Peter Rozovsky, Ali Karim, Nanci Kalanta, and her husband, Phil. Live long and prosper, y’all!

Another morning brought Northern Irish authors Stuart Neville and Steve Cavanaugh to our table at the Red Slipper.

Joining us later for breakfast was Boston fictionist Daniel Palmer, shown above inking his moniker on some bookplates.

Smile pretty, everyone! Authors Lee Goldberg, Bill Crider, Charlaine Harris, and Parnell Hall. (Photo from Lee Goldberg)

Not everything goes precisely as planned during Bouchercon. Along with the photo shown above, Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir offered this story on Facebook: “Life is funny, [on Friday] we had a meet-and-greet for Ragnar Jónasson, Jørn Lier Horst, and myself on Bourbon Street in connection with Bouchercon in New Orleans. We showed up with lots of drinks, cups, and even ice. We were a bit surprised at the locale (a tourist shop open for business) but moved some stuff around and set up the bar on a handy table. People arrived and we mingled with our guests, drinking and chatting, mixing drinks and doing what one does at such soirées. After an hour of this, the owner showed up. The woman went ballistic; turned out we were in the wrong location and had held our meet-and-greet in somebody‘s store without permission. In the words of the owner: ‘Who are you people? You can’t just show up here and set up a full bar in my store, what is wrong with you?’ But [it] turns out we did, and somehow managed to do it in peace for a full hour. We have not reached a conclusion if the term for this should be ‘pop-up bar’ or ‘flash-bar,’ but the concept is fully recommended. Next stop, IKEA.”

Even the Marriott’s elevators weren’t safe from Bouchercon shenanigans. Here, Ali Karim and Peter Rozovsky do their damndest to intimidate shutterbug Mike Stotter.

Would you want to stumble across this trio in a dark alley? Lee Goldberg, former Tom Clancy collaborator Mark Greaney, and Reed Farrel Coleman—who has taken up the task of continuing Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. (Photo from Lee Goldberg)

Sisters in Crime president Diane Vallere arrives at the Orpheum Theater for the Anthony Awards presentations, backed up by a pair of Mardi Gras Indians. (Photo by Eleanor Cawood Jones)

Art Taylor, holding the oversize Anthony Award he won for editing Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015. (Photo by Eleanor Cawood Jones)

In conflict with the Anthony Awards event, Friday evening also brought this year’s Shamus Awards presentation. With 2016 marking the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Private Eye Writers of America, which sponsors the Shamus, this event (held at the Pere Marquette Hotel) turned out to be especially stylish—and brimming with humor. As part of the celebration, diners were greeted with this large cake shaped like a stack of books.

Robert J. Randisi, who founded the Private Eye Writers of America in 1981, looks on as Lawrence Block—the organization’s second president (after Bill Pronzini)—recounts his early PWA experiences. It seems he’d accepted the job only after being assured that it required him to do not much of anything.

Mike Stotter shares his Shamus table with author J.D. Allen and mystery conference attendee/organizer Ingrid Willis.

(Part II of this photo extravaganza can be enjoyed here.)


Dana King said...

This was likely my favorite Bouchercon, aided in no small measure by meeting you AND knowing who you were when I did so.

Art Taylor said...

Thanks for the great gallery of photos--and a Part II ahead? Wow! And thanks for including me here too—much appreciate the shout-out. A great time!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the shout-outs! NK aka Mountain Jane Laurel

Peter Rozovsky said...

Top visual biff!

Leigh Russell said...

Lived Bouchercon 2016 - my first! - and great meeting you there.

Triss said...

Terrific report and great photos. Thank you! I plan to send people here, as I haven't written my own yet.

Jeffrey Siger said...

What a wonderful post celebrating Bouchercon as we move toward our 50th Year. Thanks!