Thursday, May 06, 2021

Revue of Reviewers, 5-6-21

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













Ripley’s Disclosed Relocation

Don’t go looking for Mike Ripley’s latest “Getting Away with Murder” column in Shots; you won’t find it there. As he explains, “This is due to the main website having been hi-jacked by interweb pirates (probably Russian) and sailed into the Bermuda Triangle, or whatever it is happens in these cases. As you may have gathered, I am no expert when it comes to modern technology, but those who claim to be assure me that normal service will soon be resumed.”

Ripley’s rich May trove of crime-fiction tidbits includes notes about William Le Quex’s largely forgotten 1906 spy novel, The Invasion of 1910; Vera Caspary’s classic psychological suspense yarns with domestic settings; new paperback covers for Len Deighton’s early thrillers; fresh fiction from Tom Bradby, William Shaw, Jo Spain, Andrew Taylor, and others; and a good deal more besides.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Who Will Take Home the Anthonys?

There are a number of familiar names among the just-announced nominees for this year’s Anthony Awards. S.A. Cosby, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Art Taylor, Lori Rader-Day, Richard Osman—they’re all there. Strangely missing, however, are several other authors whose books also deserved to be among this year’s Anthony contenders, notably Anthony Horowitz (Moonflower Murders), Stuart Turton (The Devil and the Dark Water), and Ivy Pochoda (These Women). But no matter: everyone’s tastes are not the same, and it was left up to Bouchercon participants—both from last year and this one—to select the contenders, rather than relying on judging panels to make the picks.

Here are the books contending for the 2021 Anthonys:

Best Hardcover Novel:
What You Don’t See, by Tracy Clark (Kensington)
Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
Little Secrets, by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur)
And Now She’s Gone, by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge)
The First to Lie, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

Best First Novel:
Derailed, by Mary Keliikoa (Camel Press)
Murder in Old Bombay, by Nev March (Minotaur)
Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington)
The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman)
Winter Counts, by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco)

Best Paperback Original/E-Book/Audiobook Original Novel:
The Fate of a Flapper, by Susanna Calkins (Griffin)
When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole (Morrow)
Unspeakable Things, by Jess Lourey (Thomas & Mercer)
The Lucky One, by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow)
Dirty Old Town, by Gabriel Valjan (Level Best)

Best Short Story:
“Dear Emily Etiquette,” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October)
“90 Miles,” by Alex Segura (from Both Sides: Stories from the Border, edited by Gabino Iglesias; Agora)
“The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74,” by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January/February)
“Elysian Fields,” by Gabriel Valjan (from California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology, edited by Art Taylor; Wildside Press)
“The Twenty-Five Year Engagement,” by James W. Ziskin (from In League with Sherlock Holmes, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger; Pegasus Crime)

Best Juvenile/Young Adult:
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Premeditated Myrtle, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)
From the Desk of Zoe Washington, by Janae Marks (Katherine Tegen)
Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, by Richie Narvaez (Piñata)
Star Wars Poe: Dameron: Free Fall, by Alex Segura (Disney
Lucasfilm Press)

Best Critical or Non-fiction Work:
Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy, by Leslie Brody (Seal Press)
American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI, by Kate Winkler Dawson (Putnam)
Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club, edited by Martin Edwards (Collins Crime Club)
The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia, by Emma Copley Eisenberg (Hachette)
Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock, by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)
Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession, edited by Sarah Weinman (Ecco)

Best Anthology or Collection:
Shattering Glass: A Nasty Woman Press Anthology, edited by Heather Graham (Nasty Woman Press)
Both Sides: Stories from the Border, edited by Gabino
Iglesias (Agora)
Noiryorican, by Richie Narvaez (Down & Out)
The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, edited by Josh Pachter (Untreed Reads)
California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology, edited by Art Taylor (Wildside Press)
Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic, edited by Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle (Polis)

Winners will be made known during a special event on Saturday, August 28—the last full day of Bouchercon 2021, to be held in New Orleans from August 25-29. Congratulations to all of the finalists!

Tapped for Theakston Honors

Organizers of this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, scheduled to take place from July 22 to 25 in Harrogate, England (provided the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t worsen), have announced their longlist of 18 nominees for the 2021 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award.

Cry Baby, by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
The Other Passenger, by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)
The Cutting Place, by Jane Casey (HarperCollins)
Fifty-Fifty, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
Black River, by Will Dean (Point Blank)
Between Two Evils, by Eva Dolan (Raven)
The Guest List, by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins)
The Lantern Men, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
The Big Chill, by Doug Johnstone (Orenda)
Three Hours, by Rosamund Lupton (Viking)
Still Life, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
The Last Crossing, by Brian McGilloway (Dome Press)
Death in the East, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
Our Little Cruelties, by Liz Nugent (Penguin)
A Song for the Dark Times, by Ian Rankin (Orion)
Remain Silent, by Susie Steiner
(The Borough Press)
We Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker (Zaffre)
The Man on the Street, by Trevor Wood (Quercus)

Go here to vote for your favorite book from among these.

A shortlist of contenders is expected to be broadcast in June, with the winner to be named on July 22, the opening day of the festival. For more information, click here.

(Hat tip to Promoting Crime Fiction.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Overcoming Cyberspace Obstacles

If you’ve tried recently to access the British crime-fiction site Shots, only to encounter a message declaring, “the Web page you are trying to reach is unavailable” … rest assured, you are not alone in your bewilderment. I sent a query to Shots editor Mike Stotter, asking him what’s going on. Here’s his response:
Some hacker put in a malicious bug. The owner of the server informed me last week (Monday, I think) and took down the site until it is repaired. The original webmaster is working on it and will probably take another 3-4 weeks to get it fixed. It needs a new patch to resolve it. In the meantime, reviews and features are being uploaded to the [Shots] blog. I really don’t know why people do this kind of thing. What do they get out of it?
Let’s hope things will get back to normal at Shots soon.

* * *

At the same time, Kevin Burton Smith, creator and editor of the excellent Thrilling Detective Web Site, has taken down his original site and is steadily relocating all of its many pages to a new cyberspace location. “As it stands now, depending on how you squint, I’m somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the site having been transferred,” he tells me, “and I’ve tried to focus mostly on the primary pages.”

This sounds great, but part of what it means in practice is that most of the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of links from this blog to original Thrilling Detective Web pages are suddenly inoperable. I shall do my utmost to replace all of those obsolete connections with new ones, and Smith has agreed to help me in that enterprise; but as is the case with my continuing efforts to restore a decade-and-a-half’s worth of videos embedded in this blog, this will take time.

In the interim, the best I can do is recommend that whenever you encounter a broken link from this page, try accessing an archived version of that material through the Wayback Machine, an invaluable resource provided by the free digital library Internet Archive. All you have to do is copy-and-paste the original URL into the Wayback Machine’s search engine, and hit Enter. More often than not, there’s an archived version available to be enjoyed. I have installed a “Finding Broken Links?” notice in The Rap Sheet’s right-hand column, from which you can always go directly to the Wayback Machine.

“I know, I know,” says Smith, when I question his decision to switch servers. “It’s a giant pain in the ass (all the search engines are now wrong, too), but continuing the site as it was was no longer feasible, either timewise or financially.” And at least there’s been one benefit to these moves, he adds: “Now that the domain has finally been officially transferred, traffic has increased substantially—in some cases, tenfold from the same date a year ago. Part of it may be my new Dick of the Day feature, where I highlight a different private eye each day on Twitter and Facebook, but it seems to be working.”

The lesson in all of this is simple: Nothing on the Web is permanent, no matter how much we might wish it to be so.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Taking in the Shorts

The Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS) today announced the winners of its 2021 Derringer Awards, which recognize excellence in short crime fiction. There were four categories of contenders.

Best Flash Story (up to 1,000 words): TIE—“Memories of Fire,” by C.W. Blackwell (Pulp Modern, August 2020); and “War Words,” by Travis Richardson (Punk Noir, December 2020)

Also nominated: “Outsourcing,” by James Blakey (Shotgun Honey, December 2020); “Over Before It Started,” by Robert Mangeot (Akashic: Mondays Are Murder, June 2020); and “Quitman County Ambush,” by Bobby Mathews (Bristol Noir, December 2020)

Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words): TIE—“The Great Bedbug Incident and the Invitation of Doom,” by Eleanor Cawood Jones (from Chesapeake Crimes: Invitation to Murder, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley; Wildside Press); and “River,” by Stacy Woodson (from The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, edited by Josh Pachter; Untreed Reads)

Also nominated: “The Homicidal Understudy,” by Elizabeth Elwood (from Mystery Most Theatrical, edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons; Wildside Press); “That Which Is True,” by Jacqueline Freimor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], July/August; and “The Crossing,” by Kim Keeline (from Crossing Borders, edited by Lisa Brackmann and Matt Coyle; Down & Out)

Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words): “Hotelin’,” by Sarah M. Chen (from Shotgun Honey Presents, Volume 4: Recoil, edited by Ron Earl Phillips; Shotgun Honey)

Also nominated: “Lord, Spare the Bottom Feeders,” by Robert Mangeot (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine [AHMM], March/April); “Chasing Diamonds,” by Joseph S. Walker (EQMM, September/October); “Etta at the End of the World,” by Joseph S. Walker (AHMM, May/June); and “Mary Poppins Didn't Have Tattoos,” by Stacy Woodson (EQMM, July/August)

Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000 words): “The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74,” by Art Taylor (AHMM, January/February)

Also nominated: “The Question of the Befuddled Judge,” by Jeff Cohen (AHMM, May/June); “A Murder at Morehead Mews,” by G.M. Malliet (EQMM, July/August); “Suicide Blonde,” by Brian Thornton (from Suicide Blonde: Three Novellas, by Brian Thornton; Down & Out); and “The Wretched Strangers,” by Matthew Wilson (EQMM, January/February)

Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees!

PaperBack: “So Sweet, So Wicked”

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



So Sweet, So Wicked, by “Steve Rand,” aka Jay Bennett (Monarch, 1961). Cover illustration by Raymond Johnson.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Who Walked Off with the Edgars?

The Mystery Writers of America today announced the winners of its 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, “honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2020.”

Best Novel: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, by Deepa Anappara
(Random House)

Also nominated: Before She Was Helen, by Caroline B. Cooney (Poisoned Pen Press); The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman); These Women, by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco); The Missing American, by Kwei Quartey (Soho Crime); and The Distant Dead, by Heather Young (Morrow)

Best First Novel by an American Author:
Please See Us, by Caitlin Mullen (Gallery)

Also nominated: Murder in Old Bombay, by Nev March (Minotaur); Catherine House, by Elisabeth Thomas (Morrow); Winter Counts, by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco); and Darling Rose Gold, by Stephanie Wrobel (Berkley)

Best Paperback Original:
When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole (Morrow)

Also nominated: The Deep, Deep Snow, by Brian Freeman (Blackstone); Unspeakable Things, by Jess Lourey (Thomas & Mercer); The Keeper, by Jessica Moor (Penguin); and East of Hounslow, by Khurrum Rahman (Harper 360)

Best Fact Crime:
Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic, by Eric Eyre (Scribner)

Also nominated: Blood Runs Coal: The Yablonski Murders and the Battle for the United Mine Workers of America, by Mark A. Bradley (Norton); The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia, by Emma Copley Eisenberg (Hachette); Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country, by Sierra Crane Murdoch (Random House); and Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, by Ariel Sabar (Doubleday)

Best Critical/Biographical:
Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock, by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)

Also nominated: Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club, edited by Martin Edwards (Harper360/Collins Crime Club); Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, by Erin E. MacDonald (McFarland); Guilt Rules All: Irish Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction, by Elizabeth Mannion and Brian Cliff (Syracuse University Press); and This Time Next Year We’ll be Laughing, by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press)

Best Short Story: “Dust, Ash, Flight,” by Maaza Mengiste (from Addis Ababa Noir, edited by Maaza Mengiste; Akashic)

Also nominated: “The Summer Uncle Cat Came to Stay,” by Leslie Elman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, January/February 2020); “Etta at the End of the World,” by Joseph S. Walker (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May/June 2020); and “The Twenty-Five Year Engagement,” by James W. Ziskin (from In League with Sherlock Holmes, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger; Pegasus Crime)

Best Juvenile: Premeditated Myrtle, by Elizabeth C. Bunce
(Algonquin Young Readers)

Also nominated: Me and Banksy, by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Puffin Canada); From the Desk of Zoe Washington, by Janae Marks (Katherine Tegen); Ikenga, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Books for Young Readers); Nessie Quest, by Melissa Savage (Crown Books for Young Readers); and Coop Knows the Scoop, by Taryn Souders (Sourcebooks Young Readers)

Best Young Adult: The Companion, by Katie Alender (Putnam
Books for Young Readers)

Also nominated: The Inheritance Games, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers); They Went Left, by Monica Hesse (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers); The Silence of Bones, by June Hur (Feiwel & Friends); and The Cousins, by Karen M. McManus (Delacorte Press)

Best Television Episode Teleplay: “Episode 1, Photochemistry,” Dead Still, teleplay by John Morton (Acorn TV)

Also nominated: “Episode 1, The Stranger,” Harlan Coben’s The Stranger, teleplay by Danny Brocklehurst (Netflix); “Episode 1, Open Water,” The Sounds, teleplay by Sarah-Kate Lynch (Acorn TV); “Episode 1,” Des, teleplay by Luke Neal (Sundance Now); and “What I Know,” The Boys, teleplay by Rebecca Sonnenshine; based on the comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Amazon)

Robert L. Fish Memorial Award:
“The Bite,” by Colette Bancroft (from Tampa Bay Noir, edited by Colette Bancroft; Akashic)

The Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award:
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne, by Elsa Hart (Minotaur)

Also nominated: Death of an American Beauty, by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur); The Lucky One, by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow); The First to Lie, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge); and Cold Wind, by Paige Shelton (Minotaur)

The G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award:
Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery, by Rosalie Knecht (Tin House)

Also nominated: The Burn, by Kathleen Kent (Mulholland); Riviera Gold, by Laurie R. King (Ballantine); Dead Land, by Sara Paretsky (Morrow); The Sleeping Nymph, by Ilaria Tuti (Soho Crime); and Turn to Stone, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)

Grand Masters: Jeffery Deaver and Charlaine Harris

Raven Award: Malice Domestic

Ellery Queen Award: Reagan Arthur, Alfred A. Knopf

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and nominees!

Maxim in Overdrive

Author, editor, critic, and onetime London bookseller Maxim Jakubowski has been named as the new chair of the British Crime Writers’ Association (CWA). He has been part of the CWA committee ever since 2014, and has served as its joint vice-chair from 2017 and its publishers’ liaison officer for the last two years.

A CWA press release relates a bit of Jakubowski’s professional background, as follows:
Maxim has compiled over 120 anthologies including the Mammoth Book of Best British Crime, Pulp Fiction, Vintage Crime, Future Cops and London, Paris, Rome and Venice Noir. He won the Anthony award for non-fiction for 100 Great Detectives. He is also the author of 20 novels, several of which have made The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller list in another genre [namely, erotic fiction].*

A director of London’s past Crime Scene festival, Maxim was also the co-chair of the Nottingham Bouchercon and is a regular broadcaster on matters literary on TV and radio, and a frequent participant in crime festivals around the world. He was for 12 years the
Guardian's crime reviewer.
The notice also quotes Jakubowski on the importance of his ascension to this new post: “As a member for several decades of the CWA, I am excited to take the helm of a vital organisation, which is constantly in the process of reinventing itself and am keen to see it becoming even more relevant to writers in a changing literary and publishing landscape, and currently troubled social landscape. With board members past and new at my side, I hope that my stewardship will do honour to my illustrious predecessors in the chair.”

Jakubowski will take over as chair from Victorian crime specialist Linda Stratmann, who has held that post since 2019. Other previous chairs include Martin Edwards, L.C. (Len) Tyler, and Peter James.

The Bookseller notes that in addition to promoting Jakubowski, “The [CWA’s recent] annual general meeting also saw two new faces join the committee. Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin joined as a board member. She writes crime novels as Sam Blake and is founder of the writing resource website, Writing.ie and Murder One, Ireland’s international crime writing festival. She was joined by Simon Michael, a barrister since 1978, who began writing crime fiction in the 1980s alongside a successful Legal 500 career and retired early in 2016 to resume his writing. He has also established and managed a national charity.”

* Jakubowski also edited Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction, a 2010 travel/reference book to which I contributed an essay.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Masked Up and Making the Race

This last Saturday, I participated in my fourth Seattle Independent Bookstore Day celebration. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the expectations in 2021 were quite different from what they’d been previously. In 2019, for instance, the goal was to visit 21 out of 26 participating indie shops in a single day; this time, rules called for us simply to purchase at least one item in 10 different stores over a 10-day period. Nonetheless, sticking with tradition, my cohorts for this 2021 event—my delightful niece Amie-June (who has accompanied me on two previous SIBDs) and her precocious 5-year-old son, Gareth—agreed to try hitting all 10 book retailers on Saturday alone.

(Left) Amie-June, Gareth, and yours truly at Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor Book Company.

We began the run at 8 a.m., traveled by both car and ferry in a circle around the city (with a couple of necessary detours to cover bookstores that closed earlier than others), and finished 10 hours later at the Elliott Bay Book Company, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Given that we had only 10 bookstores to cover, we tried to spend some quality time in each, buying items for ourselves or others. Gareth made the biggest haul, with his book-nerd mother and I both adding to his reading stock. I had brought along a short list of things I hoped to find for myself—both crime fiction and non-fiction works—but couldn’t locate most of them, and wound up with only two books: Laurence Bergreen’s In Search of a Kingdom: Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, and the Perilous Birth of the British Empire and Ride the Devil’s Herd: Wyatt Earp’s Epic Battle Against the West’s Biggest Outlaw Gang, by John Boessenecker.

In the past, people who complete the SIBD challenge have won 25-percent discounts for a year at all participating bookshops. This time, the prize is considerably less significant—a limited-edition Seattle Indie Bookstore Day 2021 tote bag—but the fun, as usual, was in making the race and getting to boast about it for the next 365 days, until we are invited to saddle up all over again.

READ MORE:Bookstore Mysteries: Independent Bookstore Day,” by Janet Rudolph (Mystery Fanfare).

The Challenge of Competing Demands

Blogging in The Rap Sheet could be somewhat lighter than normal over the next two weeks, as I struggle to complete a rather complicated article for another Web site. Please bear with me.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Plenty of Plaudits to Go Around

Any veteran journalist who covers a beat, as I do here at The Rap Sheet, knows there’s never a perfect time to go out of town. It’s always when you are off your patch that some development you really ought to be keeping track of takes place, and you can’t report on it. That was certainly what happened late this week, when my wife and I decided to spend a few days away, celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. Not just one, but four crime-fiction-award-related stories broke in our absence. I’ll go through them individually below.

* * *

The Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) has announced the shortlists of contenders for its 2021 Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing, formerly known as the Arthur Ellis Awards. These annual prizes, introduced in 1984 (and named most colorfully in honor of Canada’s first official hangman), “recognize the best in mystery, crime, and suspense fiction, and crime non-fiction by Canadian authors.” Winners are to be named on May 27.

Best Crime Novel:
How a Woman Becomes a Lake, by Marjorie Celona (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
The Historians, by Cecilia Ekbäck (HarperCollins)
The Finder, by Will Ferguson (Simon & Schuster Canada)
Obsidian, by Thomas King (HarperCollins)
Hurry Home, by Roz Nay (Simon & Schuster Canada)

Best Crime First Novel:
And We Shall Have Snow, by Raye Anderson (Signature Editions)
The Transaction, by Guglielmo D’Izza (Guernica Editions)
True Patriots, by Russell Fralich (Dundurn Press)
The Woman in the Attic, by Emily Hepditch (Flanker Press)
The Nightshade Cabal, by Chris Patrick Carolan (Parliament
House Press)

The Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada:
Payback, by Randall Denley (Ottawa Press)
Rabbit Foot Bill, by Helen Humphreys (HarperCollins)
The Dogs of Winter, by Ann Lambert (Second Story Press)
Two for the Tablelands, by Kevin Major (Breakwater)
Stay Where I Can See You, by Katrina Onstad (HarperCollins)

Best Crime Novella:
The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford, by C.C. Benison
(At Bay Press)
Coral Reef Views, by Vicki Delany (Orca)
• “Salty Dog Blues,” by Winona Kent (from Crime Wave: A Canada West Anthology, edited by Karen L. Abrahamson; Sisters in Crime-
Canada West Chapter)
Never Going Back, by Sam Wiebe (Orca)

Best Crime Short Story:
• “Cold Wave,” by Marcelle Dubé (from Crime Wave: A Canada West Anthology, edited by Karen L. Abrahamson; Sisters in Crime-
Canada West Chapter)
• “Days Without Name,” by Sylvia Maultash Warsh (from A Grave Diagnosis: 35 Stories of Murder and Malaise, edited by Donna Carrick; Carrick Publishing)
• “Used to Be,” by Twist Phelan (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], January/February 2020)
• “Killer Biznez,” by Zandra Renwick (EQMM, September/October 2020)
• “Limited Liability,” by Sarah Weinman (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May/June 2020)

Best French Crime Book (fiction and non-fiction):
La mariée de corail, by Roxanne Bouchard (Libre Expression)
Inacceptable, by Stéphanie Gauthier (Éditions Québec Amérique)
Le printemps des traîtres, by Christian Giguère (Héliotrope NOIR)
Les cachettes, by Guy Lalancette (VLB éditeur)
Les Demoiselles du Havre-Aubert, by Jean Lemieux (Éditions
Québec Amérique)

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book (fiction and non-fiction):
Red Fox Road, by Frances Greenslade (Puffin Canada)
Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House, by Janet Hill (Tundra)
Fight Like a Girl, by Sheena Kamal (Penguin Teen)
Magic Dark and Strange, by Kelly Powell (Margaret K. McElderry)
Hope You’re Listening, by Tom Ryan (Albert Whitman)

The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Non-fiction Crime Book:
Murder in the Family: How the Search for My Mother’s Killer Led to My Father, by Jeff Blackstock (Viking Press)
Horseplay: My Time Undercover on the Granville Strip, by Norm Boucher (NeWest Press)
Blood in the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes, by Silver Donald Cameron (Viking Press)
Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community, by Justin Ling (McClelland & Stewart)
Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkett, by Michael Nest with Deanna Reder and Eric Bell (University of
Regina Press)

The Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript:
The Future, by Raymond Bazowski
Predator and Prey, by Dianne Scott
Notes on Killing Your Wife, by Mark Thomas
A Nice Place to Die, by Joyce Woollcott
Cat with a Bone, by Susan Jane Wright

In addition, the CWC has declared that Marian Misters, co-owner of Toronto’s Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore, will receive the 2021 Derrick Murdoch Award, “a special achievement award for contributions to the Canadian crime-writing genre.”

* * *

Meanwhile, the International Thriller Writers (ITW) has put forth its roster of rivals for the 2021 Thriller Awards, in six categories.

Best Hardcover Novel:
Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
Hi Five, by Joe Ide (Mulholland)
The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman (Penguin)
These Women, by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco)
Confessions on the 7:45, by Lisa Unger (Park Row)

Best First Novel:
The Opium Prince, by Jasmine Aimaq (Soho Press)
Without Sanction, by Don Bentley (Berkley)
The Bluffs, by Kyle Perry (Michael Joseph)
Ghosts of Harvard, by Francesca Serritella (Random House)
Winter Counts, by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco)

Best Original Paperback Novel:
When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole (Morrow)
Unknown 9: Genesis, by Layton Green (Reflector)
What Lies Between Us, by John Marrs (Thomas & Mercer)
The Girl Beneath the Sea, by Andrew Mayne (Thomas & Mercer)
Either Side of Midnight, by Benjamin Stevenson (Penguin Random House Australia)

Best Short Story:
• “The Death and Carnage Boy,” by Steve Hockensmith (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July/August 2020)
• “Slow Burner,” by Laura Lippman (Amazon Original Stories e-book)
• “Rent Due,” by Alan Orloff (from Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, edited by Michael Bracken; Down & Out)
• “Dog Eat Dog,” by Elaine Viets (from The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, edited by Josh Pachter; Untreed Reads)
• “The Mailman,” by Andrew Welsh-Huggins (from Mickey Finn:
21st Century Noir
)

Best Young Adult Novel:
Last Girls, by Demetra Brodsky (Tor Teen)
Throwaway Girls, by Andrea Contos (Kids Can Press)
I Killed Zoe Spanos, by Kit Frick (Margaret K. McElderry)
Teen Killers Club, by Lily Sparks (Crooked Lane)
The Distant Dead, by Heather Young (Morrow)

Best E-Book Original Novel:
Avenue of Thieves, by Sean Black (Sean Black)
A Killing Game, by Jeff Buick (Novel Words)
Full Metal Jack, by Diane Capri (AugustBooks)
Mongkok Station, by Jake Needham (Half Penny)
No Hesitation, by Kirk Russell (Strawberry Creek)

This year’s Thriller Award winners are to be announced on Saturday, July 10, during Virtual ThrillerFest XVI (June 28-July 10).

* * *

The British Crime Writers Association (CWA) released most of its inventories of 2021 Dagger Award nominees back in mid-April. However, only this last Thursday did it finally follow up with its longlist of contestants for the Debut Dagger, “a competition for the opening of a crime novel by an uncontracted writer.”

Savage Games, by Peter Boland
The Tonganoxie Split, by Zack Daniel
Long Egg, by Kerry Eaton
The Looking Glass Spy, by Ashley Harrison
Under Water, by Fiona McPhillips
Sister Killer, by Karen Milner
The Lying Days, by Julie Nugent
Rough Justice, by Biba Pearce
Deception, by Hannah Redding
Lightfoot, by Edward Regenye
The Tunnel Runners, by Elizabeth Todman
Mandatory Reporting, by Jennifer Wilson O’Raghallaigh

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Finally, this week brought news that Virginia author Barb Goffman has won the 2020 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award Poll. Readers of that publication selected “Dear Emily Etiquette,” her story from the September/October 2020 issue, as their favorite of last year. The second- and third-place finalists were, respectively, John M. Floyd’s “Crow’s Nest” (January/February 2020) and Gregory Fallis’ “Terrible Ideas” (September/October 2020). The complete rundown of 2020 EQMM finalists can be found here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Revue of Reviewers, 4-20-21

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













Morse’s State of Play

Chris Sullivan’s blog, Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, today brings a modicum of news about the forthcoming—and reportedly final—new series of Endeavour. As an ITV-TV press release explains,
Filming has begun on the eighth series of critically-acclaimed detective drama, Endeavour, with lead actor Shaun Evans directing the first of the three new films.

Shaun Evans reprises his role as DS Endeavour Morse, alongside Roger Allam as DCI Fred Thursday for a new set of compelling cases written and created by Russell Lewis. …

Opening the series in 1971, a death threat to Oxford Wanderers’ star striker Jack Swift places Endeavour ... and his team at the heart of the glitz and glamour of 1970s football, exposing the true cost of success and celebrity, and with it, a deep-rooted division that is soon reflected much closer to home.
You will find the full media alert here.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Just Trying to Stay on Top of Things

• For the second year in a row, the Mystery Writers of America will announce the winners of its latest Edgar Allan Poe Awards via a Zoom Webcast. Those ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 29. Click here to register as a participant. If you’ve forgotten which books are authors have been nominated for commendation, that information is here.

• CrimeReads’ Olivia Rutigliano tells me something I didn’t know before. As the headline on her story reads, “Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray Were Commissioned at the Same Dinner Party.”

• Tatiana Maslany, who played evangelical preacher Sister Alice McKeegan in Season 1 of HBO-TV’s Perry Mason series, will apparently not reprise that role during the show’s sophomore season. As ComingSoon.net reports, “Maslany’s exit … comes on the heels of [her] officially signing on for the lead role in Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk series, which may have also affected her schedule for Perry Mason. Production on the Disney+ series is expected to start soon.”

• Jason Diamond writes in GQ magazine that Peter Falk’s Columbo series has become “an unlikely quarantine hit.”

• Just a couple of months ago, I observed that the odds against there being a Season 3 of McDonald & Dodds, the ITV-TV crime drama starring Tala Gouveia and Jason Watkins, seemed terribly high. But wonders never cease, and The Killing Times now brings word that a third series of McDonald & Dodds has indeed been commissioned.

In Reference to Murder says that “James Ellroy, the ‘Demon Dog’ of American literature, is teaming up with the podcast firm, Audio Up, for a five-part podcast series to launch in August. The author of L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia will produce and narrate the podcast, titled Hollywood Death Trip, which takes listeners on a nocturnal tour of murder and mayhem in Los Angeles with period music, archival radio, and cinematic sound design.” CrimeReads adds, “the podcast will be released shortly after Ellroy’s new novel, Widespread Panic, which will be published on June 15, 2021, [by] Alfred A. Knopf. Widespread Panic is the third novel in Ellroy’s ‘Second L.A. Quartet,’ following Perfidia and This Storm.”

How would you like to live in Agatha Christie’s old home?

• Earlier this month, blogger and Mystery Scene columnist Ben Boulden released an interesting e-book titled Killers, Crooks & Spies: Jack Bickham’s Fiction. If you aren’t familiar with Bickham (1930-1997), Boulden notes that he “wrote in every popular genre, except horror and romance (although he did write a few ‘sleaze’ novels for Midwood that may be a touch romantic). He started in Westerns in 1958, and finished with a posthumously published traditional mystery in 1998. Bickham wrote The Apple Dumpling Gang, which Disney translated into a 1975 box office hit. He wrote six espionage thrillers, featuring aging tennis pro Brad Smith, and so much more.” I can’t say I invest much in e-books, but after having come across Bickham’s novels in used bookshops many times over the years, Boulden’s overview of his life and writing career seemed worth having.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Cosby Victorious in Times Contest

S.A. Cosby’s already much-applauded novel Blacktop Wasteland (Flatiron) has now won the 2020 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller category. That announcement was made on Friday, the day before the 26th Los Angeles Times Festival of Books kicked off its second virtual event held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Competing against Cosby’s tale in that same bracket were A Beautiful Crime, by Christopher Bollen (Harper); And Now She’s Gone, by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge); Little Secrets, by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur); and These Women, by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco).

Mystery/Thriller was just one of 12 Times Book Prize classifications. Click here to see the full list of this year’s recipients.

Friday, April 16, 2021

A Sense of Place Can’t Be Overvalued

By Fraser Massey
British author Sarah Pearse knew she’d found the perfect setting for her “creepy” debut thriller, The Sanatorium (released earlier this year by Pamela Dorman [U.S.] and Bantam Press [UK]), when she couldn’t even bring herself to set foot in such a place for research purposes. “My mind said I’d love to go,” she told the audience watching this week’s First Monday Crime discussion on Facebook, but in the end she was “a bit too scared to do it.”

The Sanatorium is a locked-room mystery yarn about a missing guest at a once-abandoned tuberculosis nursing home in the Swiss Alps, now renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel. Pearse’s success in conjuring up that isolated building’s chilling aura has certainly captured the interest of readers. Her novel has become the runaway crime-publishing success story of this year so far, shooting straight into the top-10 bestseller charts of both The New York Times and London’s Sunday Times.

Pearse had spent time in Switzerland during her 20s, and later happened across a magazine article about vintage sanatoria being converted to other uses. Those ingredients served to inspire her book. And though she talked herself out of on-the-spot research, Pearse did find videos on YouTube that helped her hone the harrowing atmospherics she needed for her story. There are modern explorers, she explained, who “take a kind of video camera into an old abandoned building and kind of film themselves. I have to say, I went down a rabbit hole of these videos and just sort of immersed myself in that environment … Some of the videos … I mean, they do it in a really creepy way so it obviously draws you in. But I really felt I was there.”

Fans of these regular First Monday Crime sessions—based in London and currently being conducted via Zoom, due to the coronavirus pandemic—had to wait an extra week for this latest presentation, as the actual first Monday in April fell on an Easter public holiday in the UK. But the online audience’s patience was rewarded by the strength of the line-up of writers assembled on their behalf. Not just Pearse, but also American best-seller David Baldacci, premiere novelist David Fennell, and suspense master Matt Wesolowski.



The latest entry in Wesolowski’s award-winning “Six Stories” series, featuring enigmatic investigative reporter and podcast host Scott King, is Deity (Orenda). “It’s a story about what we do as fans when our heroes fall from grace,” the author said of his compelling tale, which has a plot with an almost ripped-from-the-headlines feel to it as King searches for the truth about the mysterious death of a pop star rumored to have sexually abused his fans.

Moderator Jacky Collins said she was especially drawn to the folklore elements of Deity, suggesting how hearsay and lore from the past can influence the present. This set Wesolowski off on an extended tribute to the power of human legends. “I think … the best fear is set in folklore, and the best fear is set in reality,” he began. “Folklore has always been a way to teach through fear. As a species, we teach each other things through stories … We teach our children not to go places because there’s a story behind it. … I think I haven’t invented any new folklore, but I’ve drawn upon this idea of death omens. Up in Scotland, in the Highlands, there’s this idea of a death omen in the form of a black dog. This is used in many cultures, the fear of a death omen. But it also can be an extended metaphor in the story—without sounding horribly pretentious—about someone who’s looking back at past evil and almost being followed by a death omen. … [It’s like] someone’s past coming back to bite them, as it were.”

Although Baldacci’s latest novel, A Gambling Man—being released in mid-May on both sides of the Atlantic—focuses primarily on the murky world of political corruption, its storyline too has a showbiz element. A sequel to his 2019 novel One Good Deed, it again stars Baldacci’s straight-talking World War II veteran and wannabe private eye, Aloysius Archer, who this time out hooks up with a budding Hollywood actress named Liberty Callahan.

Like Pearse, Baldacci admitted to viewers that he’d done no location research when developing his plot. He didn’t need to, as his setting—the California resort of Bay Town—is primarily a figment of his imagination. “I almost always in my books, always make the town up,” he explained. “I never write about a real town. … I always go to a state and I’ll check the entire geographic registry to make sure this is not [the name of] an actual town. Because if I write about an actual town someone will write and say, ‘That mailbox is on the other corner [to where you said]. You screwed up. You’re no good. And I’m not going to finish your book.’ So I always come up with a fictional town. But if you want to think about Santa Barbara, a little bit north of L.A., you’re probably right around the right place.”

This First Monday’s final panelist, David Fennell, revealed that—perhaps because, as a fresh-out-of-the-box novelist, he’s yet to experience similarly pernickety readers desperate to catch him out on geographical errors—he actually put in plenty of foot hours while concocting his intriguing police procedural, The Art of Death (Zaffre), slogging his way around potential London murder sites, searching for authentic setting details.

“Every location [in the book] is real,” Fennell said proudly of his nail-biting art-world-set thriller. “My serial killer, he loves decrepit, forsaken buildings. I certainly walked those streets quite a lot to get ideas and to get a feel for the locations.”

This week’s full hour-long discussion can be watched here.

First Monday Crime, an immensely popular feature of the London literary scene ever since 2016, will no doubt return next month, showcasing still one more fresh set of crime-fictionists. Chances are that it will also take place a week late, as May 3—May Day, the first Monday in May—is another British bank holiday.