Friday, May 24, 2019

Canada Hosts the Arthurs

I wish I’d been in Toronto, Ontario, last evening to attend the Crime Writers of Canada’s presentation of its 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards, for several friends and associates of The Rap Sheet were among the winners. Here’s the full list of honorees.

Best Crime Novel:
Though the Heavens Fall, by Anne Emery (ECW Press)

Also nominated: Cape Diamond, by Ron Corbett (ECW Press); The Winters, by Lisa Gabriele (Doubleday Canada); Kingdom of the Blind, by Louise Penny (Minotaur); and The Girl in the Moss, by Loreth Anne White (Montlake Romance)

Best First Crime Novel:
Cobra Clutch, by A.J. Devlin (NeWest Press)

Also nominated: Operation Wormwood, by Helen C. Escott (Flanker Press); Full Disclosure, by Beverley McLachlin (Simon & Schuster Canada); Why Was Rachel Murdered?, by Bill Prentice (Echo Road); and Find You in the Dark, by Nathan Ripley (Simon & Schuster Canada)

Best Crime Novella (aka the Lou Allin Memorial Award):
Murder Among the Pines, by John Lawrence Reynolds (Orca)

Also nominated: The B-Team: The Case of the Angry First Wife, by Melodie Campbell (Orca); and Blue Water Hues, by Vicki Delany (Orca)

Best Crime Short Story: “Terminal City,” by Linda L. Richards (from Vancouver Noir, edited by Sam Wiebe; Akashic)

Also nominated: “A Ship Called Pandora,” by Melodie Campbell (Mystery Weekly Magazine); “The Power Man,” by Therese Greenwood (from Baby It’s Cold Outside, edited by Robert Bose and Sarah L. Johnson; Coffin Hop Press); “Game,” by Twist Phelan (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine); and “Wonderful Life,” by Sam Wiebe (from Vancouver Noir)

Best Crime Book in French: Adolphus—Une enquête de Joseph Laflamme, by Hervé Gagnon (Libre Expression)

Also nominated: Un dernier baiser avant de te tuer, by Jean-Philippe Bernié (Libre Expression); Ces femmes aux yeux cernés, by André Jacques (Éditions Druide); Deux coups de pied de trop, by Guillaume Morissette (Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur); and Rinzen la beauté intérieure, by Johanne Seymour (Expression Noir)

Best Juvenile/Young Adult Crime Book:
Escape, by Linwood Barclay (Puffin Canada)

Also nominated: The House of One Thousand Eyes, by Michelle Barker (Annick Press); Call of the Wraith, by Kevin Sands (Aladdin); The Ruinous Sweep, by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick Press); and The Rumrunner's Boy, by E.R. Yatscoff (TG & R)

Best Non-fiction Crime Book:
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World, by Sarah Weinman (Knopf)

Also nominated: Dying for a Drink: How a Prohibition Preacher Got Away with Murder, by Patrick Brode (Biblioasis); The King of Con: How a Smooth-Talking Jersey Boy Made and Lost Billions, Baffled the FBI, Eluded the Mob, and Lived to Tell the Crooked Tale, by Thomas Giacomaro and Natasha Stoynoff (BenBella); The Boy on the Bicycle: A Forgotten Case of Wrongful Conviction in Toronto, by Nate Hendley (Five Rivers); and Murder by Milkshake: An Astonishing True Story of Adultery, Arsenic, and a Charismatic Killer, by Eve Lazarus (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Best Unpublished Manuscript (aka the Unhanged Arthur):
The Scarlet Cross, by Liv McFarlane

Also nominated: Hypnotizing Lions, by Jim Bottomley; Omand’s Creek, by Don Macdonald; One for the Raven, by Heather McLeod; and The Book of Answers, by Darrow Woods

In addition, the CWC presented Ontario author Vicki Delany with this year’s Derrick Murdoch Award for special achievement.

As a CWC news release, the Arthur Ellis Awards (taking their name from the pseudonym of Canada’s official hangman) recognize “the best in mystery, crime, and suspense fiction and crime non-fiction by Canadian authors.” Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Bits of Bliss in Bristol

CrimeFest 2019 may have ended in Bristol, England, almost two weeks ago, but that’s no reason to forget about it. At least not yet. Rap Sheet contributor Ali Karim has promised us a full, if belated, report on that three-day event (May 9-12) at some point in the very near future. And in the meantime, we have collected a variety of his latest CrimeFest photographs for posting today.

These include candid snapshots of some of the numerous authors who attended, a couple of pictures from the convention’s panel discussions, and two images captured during the Saturday night ticket-holders-only hoopla, the CrimeFest Awards Dinner. Even if you weren’t able to attend this year’s gala gathering, you should glean from all of these a basic understanding of what it entailed. Enjoy!

Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (The Absolution) practices her penmanship for the benefit of one of her many fans.

The Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel hosted this year’s gathering.

Scottish novelist Michael J. Malone (In the Absence of Miracles) pals around with U.S. writer Jeffrey Siger (Murder in Mykonos).

Meeting this personable trio on the streets of Bristol, you’d never know they were fully capable of plotting murder. Left to right: novelists Cathy Ace, Steve Mosby, and Christopher Huang.

Prolific British “queen of crime” Martina Cole chats with her longtime friend, The Rap Sheet’s own Ali Karim.

Telegraph books critic Jake Kerridge (shown in this photo on the far right) moderates a lively Friday panel discussion titled “Crime Fiction Legacies: Desmond Bagley, Campion, Holmes, and More.” With him, left to right: Shots columnist Mike Ripley; author Bonnie MacBird (The Devil’s Due); and David Brawn, the publishing director of Estates at HarperCollins.

CrimeFest organizers Donna Moore and Adrian Muller.

Noted raconteur Mike Ripley was on hand during these festivities to promote his non-fiction book Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed.

Ali Karim with Corrine Turner, the managing director of Ian Fleming Publications and the chair of judges for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award.

The distinguished lineup for a Scandinavian crime-fiction panel discussion called—what else?—“Scandi Is Dandy”: Alex Dahl, Jørn Lier Horst, Antii Tuomainen, and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, with moderator Kevin Wignall on the extreme right.

Robert Wilson, author of the Javier Falcón and Charles Boxer mysteries, alongside Zoë Sharp, creator of the Charlie Fox series.

M.W. “Mike” Craven, author of The Puppet Show, with Felix Francis (Crisis), who’s successfully stepped into the shoes left behind by his mystery-writing father, Dick Francis.

New Zealand-rooted blogger Craig Sisterson stops for a photo with British thriller writer Mick Herron (Joe Country).

Norwegian crime-fictionist Jørn Lier Horst, whose tale The Katharina Code won the 2019 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, embraces editor, translator, and reviewer Kat Hall (left) as well as Karen Meek, the editor of Euro Crime.

Here’s a dapper, delighted pair: Journalist-author Peter Guttridge is all smiles at the CrimeFest Awards Dinner, alongside Tony Mulliken, owner of the London-based Midas PR agency.

(All photos in this post copyright © Ali Karim 2019.)

Maine Attractions

B.V. Lawson’s In Reference to Murder brings word about this year’s finalists for the Maine Literary Awards. There are more than a dozen classifications of contenders, but only three works vying in the Crime Fiction category: Beyond the Truth, by Bruce Coffin; Stowed Away, by Barbara Ross; and Death and a Pot of Chowder, by Lea Wait (writing as Cornelia Kidd).

The winners of these prizes are to be announced during a ceremony on Thursday, June 13, at the Bangor Public Library.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

13 Is a Lucky Number, Right?

Whether or not it’s a scientific fact, it is anecdotally indisputable that the older one becomes, the less one is conscious of time’s relentless passage. I am reminded of this every May 22, when I sit down to celebrate another dozen months in the “life” of The Rap Sheet. Incredibly, it was 13 years ago today—on Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday, by coincidence—that this blog debuted, being a necessary reworking of an irregular newsletter I’d been writing for January Magazine.

Although I am frustrated on occasion by not having the freedom, energy, or financial resources to do much more with this blog, I am proud to see that it remains popular. What you’re reading right now, for instance, is the 7,503rd post to appear here. And the Blogger software tells me that The Rap Sheet has enjoyed almost 6.3 million pageviews over its history. That’s remarkable, considering it took most of the first half decade just to reach 1 million; we’ve increased that pageview count sixfold over the last eight years.

Thanks to all of you who have followed The Rap Sheet during its electronic existence. It’s been a largely marvelous, fulfilling trip, and one that—barring some disaster—won’t end anytime soon.

Monday, May 20, 2019

OK, Maybe I’ll Watch This One

During my youth, I was an almost indiscriminate viewer of television programs. Crime dramas, situation comedies, game shows, Saturday afternoon film reruns—it hardly mattered what was playing, I watched it. Yet over the last decade or so, I’ve pretty much given up on the small screen. Yes, I periodically tune in to the Amazon and Netflix streaming services, but outside of the Masterpiece Mystery! series, I almost never watch TV network offerings any longer.

However, the trailer for Stumptown, an ABC crime series touted during the recent TV upfronts and currently slated for broadcast at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, may cause me to break my network fast.

Embedded below, it not only features a hilarious car fight scene set to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” but stars Canadian actress Cobie Smulders (who I always thought was underused in How I Met Your Mother) as Dex Parios, a sharp and ass-kicking Portland, Oregon, private eye who was originally introduced in a limited graphic-novel series by Greg Rucka. Very promising, I’d say.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Translators in the Spotlight

As if there hasn’t been enough recent news regarding crime-fiction prizes of one sort or another, here comes word that five books—none of them brand-new in English—have been shortlisted for the 2019 Iceland Noir Award for best crime novel in Icelandic translation, aka the Icepick. They are:

Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain;
translated by Þórdís Bachmann
The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higashino;
translated by Ásta S. Guðbjartsdóttir
A Stranger in the House, by Shari Lapena;
translated by Ingunn Snædal
Three Days and a Life, by Pierre Lemaitre;
translated by Friðrik Rafnsson
After the Fire, by Henning Mankell;
translated by Hilmar Hilmarsson

The winner is expected to be announced in November.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Pick Your Peculier Preference

Get ready to vote for your favorite book among a half-dozen nominees shortlisted for the 2019 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. Just about five weeks ago, a longlist of 18 contenders—including works by Ann Cleeves, William Shaw, Stuart Turton, and C.J. Tudor—was announced. But that has now been trimmed by two-thirds, leaving the following yarns still in contention:

Broken Ground, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
Snap, by Belinda Bauer (Transworld)
Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh (Hachette)
London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney (HarperCollins)
East of Hounslow, by Khurrum Rahman (HarperCollins)

As a British weekly called the Scarborough News explained in April, “This year marks the 15th year of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. The prize was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction and is open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from May 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019.” Among the previous recipients are Mark Billingham, Denise Mina. R.J. Ellory, Sarah Hilary, Lee Child, and Stav Sherez.

The winner of this contest will be determined by a panel of judges, as well as by an online public vote. That latter balloting is set to begin on Monday, July 1, and will close on Sunday, July 14. During those two weeks, the Theakston Brewing Company will post a link here for everyone wishing to let their opinions be known.

A final champion is to be declared on Thursday, July 18, during a special ceremony on the opening night of the 17th annual Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Revue of Reviewers, 5-17-19

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

Plaudits Across “the Pond”

I apparently missed noticing that the winners of this year’s British Book Awards (the “Nibbies”) were announced earlier this week. For the record, Louise Cavendish’s Our House (Simon & Schuster UK) won in the Crime and Thriller category, while the prolific Lee Child was named Author of the Year.

(Hat tip to In Reference to Murder.)

Most Deserved Recognition

Congratulations to Rap Sheet correspondent Ali Karim, who has been selected as Fan Guest of Honor for Bouchercon 2021. Like Bouchercon 2016, this forthcoming convention is scheduled to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, and chaired by author Heather Graham with her colleague, Connie Perry. It will run from August 25 to 29, 2021.

I haven’t yet decided whether to attend this year’s Bouchercon, in Dallas, Texas, or next year’s gathering, in Sacramento, California, so the 2021 event wasn’t even on my radar. But the fact that my good friend Ali—a former Bouchercon board member and major crime-fiction enthusiast—will be at the New Orleans gathering convinces me I should take part, too. He and I had a swell time together in the Crescent City three years ago; and while there’s no guarantee that things will be as fun a second time around, I’m pretty optimistic about it.

Oh, and if you’re interested to know who else, besides Ali, is slated for praise at Bouchercon 2021, note that Steve Berry will be the Thriller Guest of Honor, Craig Johnson will be the American Guest of Honor, Jo Nesbø will be the International Guest of Honor, and Sandra Brown is set to receive that year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

PaperBack: “Juke Box King”

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

Juke Box King, by Frank Kane (Dell, 1959). Cover illustration by Chicago-born painter Freeman Elliott, who is perhaps best remembered for his many pin-up art magazine fronts, but was also responsible for various vintage paperback covers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Grappling for Garlands in D-Town

This is certainly shaping up as crime-fiction awards season. Nominations for the 2019 Dagger Awards and the 2019 Strand Critics Awards were announced within the last week, and now comes the catalogue of contenders for this year’s Anthony Awards. The winners of those last commendations will be named during an event at Bouchercon in Dallas, Texas (October 31-November 3).

Best Novel:
Give Me Your Hand. by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown)
November Road, by Lou Berney (Morrow)
Jar of Hearts, by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur)
Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
Blackout, by Alex Segura (Polis)

Best First Novel:
My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday)
Broken Places, by Tracy Clark (Kensington)
Dodging and Burning, by John Copenhaver (Pegasus)
What Doesn’t Kill You, by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Bearskin, by James A. McLaughlin (Ecco)

Best Paperback Original Novel:
Hollywood Ending, by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
If I Die Tonight, by Alison Gaylin (Morrow)
Hiroshima Boy, by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park)
Under a Dark Sky, by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow)
A Stone’s Throw, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)

Best Short Story:
“The Grass Beneath My Feet,” by S.A. Cosby
(Tough, August 20, 2018)
“Bug Appétit,” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], November/December 2018)
“Cold Beer No Flies,” by Greg Herren (from Florida Happens:
Tales of Mystery, Mayhem, and Suspense from the Sunshine State
, edited by Greg Herren; Three Rooms Press)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop,” by Art Taylor (EQMM,
July/August 2018)
“The Best Laid Plans,” by Holly West (from Florida Happens)

Best Critical or Non-fiction Work:
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession,
by Alice Bolin (Morrow)
Mastering Plot Twists: How to Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure to Captivate Your Readers,
by Jane K. Cleland (Writer’s Digest)
Pulp According to David Goodis, by Jay A. Gertzman (Down & Out)
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s, by Leslie S.
Klinger (Pegasus)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins)
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World, by Sarah Weinman (Ecco)

As is traditional, the winners of this year’s Anthony Awards will be chosen by Bouchercon attendees.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Speeding Through Reading

I take a brief break with my veteran “Champion Challenge” partner and book-loving niece, Amie-June Brumble (right), to snap a selfie in front of Ada’s Technical Books, on Capitol Hill.

Yes, I know, it’s been more than two weeks since I celebrated Seattle Independent Bookstore Day (April 27). But what with a busy work schedule and various family commitments, it’s been hard until now to find enough free hours to compose a recap of my experiences.

As I mentioned in a previous post on this page, I had arranged to participate that day in the IBD’s annual “Champion Challenge” alongside my favorite niece, Amie-June Brumble, with whom I undertook this same venture two years ago. The goal of the Champion Challenge is for readers to visit a designated number of bookshops over the course of a business day, at each of which the contestant is supposed to collect a unique stamp on his or her official Passport Map. Everyone who finishes with a completed passport wins a 25 percent discount at all of those stores for the following year—a pretty favorable deal, if you go through a lot of books annually (as I do).

When I first joined in this frenzied competition, back in 2016—the second year it took place—the goal was to stop by at least 17 of the 21 participating indie stores. (For shops with more than one location on the map, you only needed to accumulate a single stamp.) That number jumped to 19 of 23 in 2017, and this year, Champion Challenge players had to pay calls on 21 out of the 26 stores taking part. People who didn’t want to engage in the full bookstore crawl could still be involved: those who visited three or more stores could turn in their passports for a 30-percent-off coupon, good for a onetime use at any of the shops joining in this adventure.

(Left) Cover of the IBD Passport Map.

Having undertaken the Champion Challenge before, Amie-June and I determined to follow our customary and successful route. This took us in a spiraling, clockwise path through the Seattle suburbs first, then north across downtown and the city’s northern neighborhoods, and had us finishing in the Capitol Hill district, east of downtown. Just as I have done before, I offer—below—my brief account of Seattle’s 2019 Independent Bookstore Day, recalled in statistics and incidents.

Time we started out: Amie-June picked me up in front of my house at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. Since we had two additional bookstores to reach by day’s end, she wanted to catch the first (6:10) ferry departing downtown Seattle for Bainbridge Island, on the west side of Puget Sound, where a couple of shops—Eagle Harbor Book Company and The Traveler—sit across from one another on the main street of Winslow, Bainbridge’s town center. A coterie of women also embarking on this Champion Challenge boarded the ferry with us, and passed out fresh doughnuts to anyone who wished one, for as long as they lasted (not long enough)—a very friendly touch. We reached Winslow just before the two bookshops opened, at the unusual hour of 7 a.m. I was impressed by Eagle Harbor’s arrangements, which had visitors entering through one of its doors (where pre-stamped Passport Maps were available) and then exiting another, thus maintaining a comfortable flow. As would be our pattern throughout the day, Amie-June and I collected our necessary passport stamps and then spent a bit of time perusing the offerings at each business before moving on.

First books purchased: As might have been predicted, Amie-June began to satisfy her book hunger much earlier than yours truly. While at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, on the west side of Puget Sound, she snapped up We Are the Gardeners, a children’s work by Joanna Gaines, as well as an adult novel titled Palisades Park, by Alan Brennert. I waited three more stops—until Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park—before purchasing Nature’s Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age of the Long Seventeenth Century Transformed the West and Shaped the Present, by Philipp Blom (Liveright).

Number of books purchased along the way: For myself, I picked up three: the aforementioned Nature’s Mutiny; Making Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle, by Mark Braude; and a 1974 novelization of the Paul Newman/Robert Redford film The Sting, by “Robert Weverka,” aka Robert McMahon. I didn’t know the last of those existed, nor was I looking for it; but BookTree in Kirkland, on the east side of Lake Washington, had a copy and I couldn’t resist, after having enjoyed other of Weverka’s TV and movie tie-in novels.

Number of books I really wanted to buy: A conservative estimate would be eight … or maybe 10 … OK, perhaps a dozen, or more. Among those I passed up (at least temporarily) were Tom Clavin’s latest biography, Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier's First Gunfighter (St. Martin’s Press); journalist-historian Jack Kelly’s The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America (St. Martin’s Press); and the recent re-release of Erle Stanley Gardner’s 1942 Perry Mason novel, The Case of the Careless Kitten (American Mystery Classics).

Number of books Amie-June purchased: Twelve—which she says was “fewer than I expected.” The last time we ran this Champion Challenge together, she acquired more than 30 books along the way. Back then, though, she was still stocking the Little Free Library outside her house. Now, several years into that project, she has teetering stacks of paperbacks still waiting to cycle in and out of her streetside athenaeum. The works she picked up this year were only for herself and her sweet, book-loving (of course) 3-year-old son.

Number of bookstores visited this year that I had never popped in to before: Only two—Arundel Books, a rather beautiful establishment in the historic Pioneer Square district, and Page 2 Books, a used-book-lovers’ mecca in Burien, a southern ’burb of Seattle.

Food ingested during our travels: With our too-early start, I found no time for breakfast. It wasn’t until we reached the small town of Kingston (no relation) and the terminal for our ferry ride back east across Puget Sound, that we stopped at a McDonald’s for Egg McMuffins—not my favorite repast, but when hunger strikes hard, high-minded disinclinations toward junk food go right out the window. Fortunately, we found finer fare around lunchtime at a sandwich shop called Homegrown, located right next to Island Books, on Mercer Island, just east of downtown Seattle. There were surprisingly fewer cookies and other quick treats available along our path this year, but we did pick up a few Oreo-style sweets at Magnolia’s Bookstore, in the Magnolia neighborhood, and some Jordan almonds at Phinney Books, in Greenwood. Oh, and let’s not forget the Starbucks mocha I bought about halfway through this trip.

First frustrating event of the day: We just barely missed catching the 8:40 a.m. ferry we’d hoped to take from Kingston back to Edmonds, north of Seattle. This meant we had to wait another hour for the next sailing. Oh, well, at least this gave us a chance to peacefully eat those Egg McMuffins.

(Right) The Passport Map’s checklist of participating stores. Click to enlarge.

Second frustrating event of the day: We finally found our way to Page 2 Books at about 2 p.m., only to encounter a small group of people who were already handing in their completed passports. What the hell? By then, we had accumulated only nine stamps! The only way to have finished this course so quickly, we surmised, was to have a designated driver along—one who wasn’t participating in the Challenge, and who could wait immediately outside each shop (perhaps in a loading zone) and then speed everyone on to the next destination—and to spend no more time in the bookstores than was absolutely required to have the passports stamped. Of course, that defeats one of the principal incentives the bookstores have in participating in this event, which is to introduce new customers to their bookshelf selections, invite them to buy a volume or two, and entice them to return again later. Those folks who finished the course so early missed out on the fun of browsing. And, really, why the rush? The first-place finisher in this event receives no more points or plaudits than the last-place finisher.

Stores in which we’d like to have spent some more time: Amie-June was quite impressed by the children’s reading selection at Island Books, so she’d have been happy to while away the afternoon there. I was sad that we had to dash in and out of Arundel Books so quickly (due to downtown parking shortages); I’ll have to go back sometime in the future to see more of what it calls its “eclectic stock” of previously owned and collectible editions. Another place I didn’t loiter long enough this year was Queen Anne Book Company, immediately north of downtown, which always boasts a thoughtfully curated selection of general works, and since our last visit has witnessed a major remodel of its next-door coffee shop. It would have been nice to spend some time in there reading from my new purchases.

Stores with the noticeably nicest salespeople: Liberty Bay Books; Edmonds Bookshop; Ada’s Technical Books, on Capitol Hill; and Phinney Books, in the Greenwood neighborhood.

Store I would like to have visited, but didn’t: Madison Books, which I recently had a small hand in launching in the Madison Park neighborhood. Because it’s owned by the same folks behind Phinney Books, it wasn’t necessary that we pay a call at Madison, and it would’ve been a bit out of our way. Yet Independent Bookstore Day was also that establishment’s opening day, so I’d like to have joined in the celebration, if only fleetingly.

Number of Jell-O shots ingested: Two, one for each of us at the Elliott Bay Book Company, the final stop on our daylong odyssey. In recent years, Elliott Bay (formerly located in Pioneer Square, but now on Capitol Hill) has served tequila shots to the many people who finish their Champion Challenge there. For some reason, however, the decision was made this time around to switch to Jell-O shots in various fruit flavors. I had the alcoholic variety, spiked with vodka; Amie-June, since she is currently pregnant with her second son, opted instead for the non-alcoholic version. In both cases, we had trouble sucking our finish-line treats out of their small plastic cups. Not quite as cheerful a conclusion to our journey as tequila shots would’ve been.

Lesson I learned successfully from the last two years: Take along a full water bottle. You might be surprised to discover how easily one can become dehydrated, speeding around town with the singular goal of gawking at more books than you can afford.

Number of hours spent on this year’s Champion Challenge: 14, which was an hour and a half longer than the last time Amie-June and I undertook the venture. But then, we did have two more stops to make.

Number of miles traveled: 13.4, not including the two ferry rides across Puget Sound. No wonder this endeavor is so time-consuming!

Despite the arduousness of this enterprise, I’m told that 636 people were as successful as Amie-June and I in finishing the Champion Challenge (up from 500 in 2018). Another 1,034 people are said to have visited at least three shops on Independent Bookstore Day. I’ll be able to see and meet many of them this coming Saturday, May 18, when Queen Anne Book Company hosts an all day (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) celebration for the finishers, during which they will receive either their Champion Cards or their discount coupons.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Strand Commends Old Hands and Newbies

The Strand Magazine today broadcast its nominee selections for the 2019 Strand Critics Awards, in two separate categories.

Best Mystery Novel:
Lullaby Road, by James Anderson (Crown)
Transcription, by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown)
November Road, by Lou Berney (Morrow)
Dark Sacred Night, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
The Witch Elm, by Tana French (Viking)
Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins)

Best Debut Mystery Novel:
Dodging and Burning, by John Copenhaver (Pegasus)
Star of the North, by D.B. John (Crown)
The Other Side of Everything, by Lauren Doyle Owens (Touchstone)
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton
(Sourcebooks Landmark)
Beautiful Bad, by Annie Ward (Park Row)

The Strand’s news release regarding these commendations doesn’t say when the winners will be announced, but recent history suggests it should be sometime this coming summer.

In addition, the Strand has chosen two well-known authors as recipients of its latest Lifetime Achievement Awards: Heather Graham and Donna Leon. And it’s named Dominique Raccah, the publisher/CEO of Sourcebooks, as its Publisher of the Year Award.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Crowning the Victors at CrimeFest

Following on yesterday’s announcement about the British Crime Writers’ Association’s 2019 Dagger Award nominees, we now bring you (thanks to on-the-spot reporting by our own Ali Karim) tonight’s winners of seven separate prizes at CrimeFest. These commendations were given out during a celebratory dinner held in Bristol, England. You can watch Ali’s video of the announcements here.

Audible Sounds of Crime Award (for the best unabridged crime audiobook): Lethal White, by “Robert Galbraith,” aka J.K. Rowling; read by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio)

Also nominated: Lies Sleeping, by Ben Aaronovitch, read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Orion); Our House, by Louise Candlish, read by Deni Francis and Paul Panting (Whole Story Audiobooks); The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, read by Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Peter Ganim, Jeremy Davidson, Mozhan Marnò, and Bill Clinton (Random House Audiobooks); The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, read by Julia Whelan (Pan Macmillan); The Outsider, by Stephen King, read by Will Patton (Hodder & Stoughton); Let Me Lie, by Clare Mackintosh, read by Gemma Whelan and Clare Mackintosh (Little, Brown); I’ll Keep You Safe, by Peter May, read by Anna Murray and Peter Forbes (Riverrun); In a House of Lies, by Ian Rankin, read by James MacPherson (Orion); and Anatomy of a Scandal, by Sarah Vaughan, read by Julie Teal, Luke Thompson, Esther Wane, and Sarah Feathers (Simon & Schuster Audio UK)

eDunnit Award (“for the best crime fiction e-book first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format”): Sunburn, by Laura Lippman (Faber and Faber)

Also nominated: When Trouble Sleeps, by Leye Adenle (Cassava Republic Press); Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion); Gallows Court, by Martin Edwards (Head of Zeus); Homegrown Hero, by Khurrum Rahman (HQ); The Fire Court, by Andrew Taylor (HarperCollins); and The Shrouded Path, by Sarah Ward (Faber and Faber)

Last Laugh Award (for the best humorous crime novel): A Shot in the Dark, by Lynne Truss (Bloomsbury)

Also nominated: A Deadly Habit, by Simon Brett (Crème de la Crime); Bryant & May: Hall of Mirrors, by Christopher Fowler (Transworld); Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord, by Mario Giordano (John Murray); London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray); Homegrown Hero, by Khurrum Rahman (HQ); Palm Beach Finland, by Antti Tuomainen (Orenda); and Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, by Olga Wojtas (Contraband)

H.R.F. Keating Award (for the best biographical or critical book related to crime fiction): Difficult Lives–Hitching Rides, by James Sallis (No Exit Press)

Also nominated: Arthur Conan Doyle’s Art of Fiction, by Nils Clausson (Cambridge Scholars); Irish Crime Fiction, by Brian Cliff (Palgrave Macmillan); Female Corpses in Crime Fiction, by Glen S. Close (Palgrave Macmillan); Domestic Noir, by Laura Joyce and Henry Sutton (Palgrave Macmillan); Historical Noir, by Barry Forshaw (No Exit Press); and The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy’s Noir World, by Steven Powell (Bloomsbury)

Best Crime Novel for Children (aged 8-12): Kat Wolfe Investigates, by Lauren St. John (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Also nominated: The Train to Impossible Places, by P.G. Bell (Usborne); Murder At Twilight, by Fleur Hitchcock (Nosy Crow); A Darkness of Dragons, by S.A. Patrick (Usborne); The Book Case, by Dave Shelton (David Fickling); and The Last Chance Hotel, by Nicki Thornton (Chicken House)

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults (aged 12-16): Run, Riot, by Nikesh Shukla (Hodder Children’s Books)

Also nominated: The Colour of the Sun, by David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books); Rosie Loves Jack, by Mel Darbon (Usborne); Little Liar, by Julia Gray (Andersen Press); White Rabbit, Red Wolf, by Tom Pollock (Walker); and Dry, by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (Walker)

Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year:
The Katharina Code, by Jørn Lier Horst, translated by Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway)

Also nominated: The Ice Swimmer, by Kjell Ola Dahl, translated by Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway); The Whisperer, by Karin Fossum, translated by Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway); The Darkness, by Ragnar Jónasson, translated by Victoria Cribb (Penguin Random House; Iceland); Resin, by Ane Riel, translated by Charlotte Barslund (Doubleday; Denmark); and Big Sister, by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway).

Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Going Long for the Daggers

Thanks to Ayo Onatade and Shotsmag Confidential, we now have the longlists of nominees for the British Crime Writers’ Association’s 2019 Dagger Awards. These books and authors were announced earlier this evening during CrimeFest (May 9-12), in Bristol, England.

CWA Gold Dagger:
All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew (Hodder & Stoughton)
Snap, by Belinda Bauer (Bantam Press)
The Mobster’s Lament, by Ray Celestin (Mantle)
The Puppet Show, by M.W. Craven (Constable)
Body & Soul, by John Harvey (Heinemann)
What We Did, by Christobel Kent (Sphere)
Unto Us a Son Is Given, by Donna Leon (Heinemann)
Fade to Grey, by John Lincoln (No Exit Press)
Cold Bones, by David Mark (Mulholland)
American by Day, by Derek B. Miller (Doubleday)
Smoke and Ashes, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
Salt Lane, by William Shaw (Riverrun)
Before She Knew Him, by Peter Swanson (Faber and Faber)
The Fire Court, by Andrew Taylor (Harper)
A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better, by Benjamin Wood (Scribner)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:
Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott (Picador)
Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
Safe Houses, by Dan Fesperman (Head of Zeus)
The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings (John Murray)
Lives Laid Away, by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho Crime)
The Wolf and the Watchman, by Niklas Natt och Dag (John Murray)
Homegrown Hero, by Khurrum Rahman (HQ)
To the Lions, by Holly Watt (Raven)
Memo from Turner, by Tim Willocks (Jonathan Cape)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger:
Motherland, by G.D. Abson (Mirror)
All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Boy at the Door, by Alex Dahl (Head of Zeus)
When Darkness Calls, by Mark Griffin (Piatkus)
Scrublands, by Chris Hammer (Wildfire)
Turn a Blind Eye, by Vicky Newham (HQ)
Blood & Sugar, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle)
Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman (Simon & Schuster)
The Chestnut Man, by Søren Sveistrup (Michael Joseph)
Overkill, by Vanda Symon (Orenda)

CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-fiction:
All That Remains: A Life in Death, by Sue Black (Doubleday)
An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere,
by Mikita Brottman (Canongate)
Trace: Who Killed Maria James?, by Rachael Brown (Scribe UK)
Murder by the Book: A Sensational Chapter in Victorian Crime,
by Claire Harman (Viking)
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk Wallace Johnson (Hutchinson)
Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice Is Failing Women, by Helena Kennedy (Chatto & Windus)
In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law, by Sarah Longford (Doubleday)
The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, by Ben Macintyre (Viking)
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold (Doubleday)
My Life with Murderers: Behind Bars with the World’s Most
Violent Men
, by David Wilson (Sphere)

CWA International Dagger:
A Long Night in Paris, by Dov Alfon,
translated by Daniella Zamir (Maclehose Press)
Weeping Waters, by Karin Brynard,
translated by Maya Fowler and Isobel Dixon (World Noir)
The Cold Summer, by Gianrico Carofiglio,
translated by Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press)
Newcomer, by Keigo Higashino,
translated by Giles Murray (Little, Brown)
The Root of Evil, by Håkan Nesser,
translated by Sarah Death (Mantle)
The Forger, by Cay Rademacher,
translated by Peter Millar (Arcadia)
The Overnight Kidnapper, by Andrea Camilleri,
translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Mantle)
The Courier, by Kjell Ola Dahl,
translated by Don Bartlett (Orenda)
Slugger, by Martin Holmén,
translated by A.A. Prime (Pushkin Vertigo)
The Katherina Code, by Jørn Lier Horst,
translated by Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph)

CWA Sapere Historical Dagger:
Blood & Sugar, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle)
Destroying Angel, by S.G. Maclean (Quercus)
Gallows Court, by Martin Edwards (Head of Zeus)
Smoke and Ashes, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
Tombland, by C.J. Sansom (Mantle)
The Angel’s Mark, by S.W. Perry (Corvus)
The House on Half Moon Street, by Alex Reeve (Raven)
The Mathematical Bridge, by Jim Kelly (Allison & Busby)
The Mobster’s Lament, by Ray Celestin (Mantle)
The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney (Harper)

CWA Short Story Dagger:
“Room Number Two,” by Andrea Camilleri (from Death at Sea,
by Andrea Camilleri; Mantle)
“Strangers in a Pub,” by Martin Edwards (from Ten Year Stretch, edited by Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller; No Exit Press)
“How Many Cats Have You Killed?,” by Mick Herron
(from Ten Year Stretch)
“Death Becomes Her,” by Syd Moore (from The Strange Casebook,
by Syd Moore; Point Blank)
“The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing,” by Danuta Reah (from The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and Other Fantastic Female Fables, by Danuta Reah; Fantastic)
“I Detest Mozart,” by Teresa Solana (from The First Historic Serial Killers, by Teresa Solana; Bitter Lemon Press)
“Paradise Gained,” by Teresa Solana (from The First Historic
Serial Killers
“Bag Man,” by Lavie Tidhar (from The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin; Solaris)

CWA Dagger in the Library:
(Honoring “a body of work by an established crime writer that has long been popular with borrowers from libraries.”)
M.C. Beaton
Simon Beckett
Mark Billingham
Christopher Brookmyre
John Connolly
Kate Ellis
Sophie Hannah
Graham Masterton
Denise Mina
C.J. Sansom
Cath Staincliffe
Jacqueline Winspear

CWA Debut Dagger (for unpublished writers):
Wake, by Shelley Burr
Self-Help for Serial Killers: Let Your Creativity Bloom, by Mairi Campbell-Jack
The Mourning Light, by Jerry Crause
The Fruits of Rashness, by Michael Fleming
Down the Well, by Carol Glaser
Hardways, by Catherine Hendricks
The Right Man, by Anna Maloney
The Firefly, by David Smith
A Thin Sharp Blade, by Fran Smith
A Wolf’s Clothing, by Matthew Smith

I’m particularly pleased to see among these numerous contenders Andrew Taylor’s Fire Court, John Harvey’s Body & Soul, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Blood & Sugar, Niklas Natt och Dag’s The Wolf and the Watchman, Martin Edwards’ Gallows Court, and Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five, all of which I have read and enjoyed in recent months. But since I’m not a member of any Dagger judging committee, my opinion doesn’t exactly carry much weight.

Shortlists of this year’s Dagger contestants are supposed to be broadcast later this summer, with the winners set to be declared during a special dinner in London on October 24. That is also the occasion on which the CWA will honor Robert Goddard with its 2019 Diamond Dagger. The Diamond Dagger recognizes “authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre.”

For more information, visit the CWA Web site or e-mail Rap Sheet correspondent Ali Karim’s video of last night’s Dagger Award announcements can be viewed here.

* * *

One final note: During tonight’s Dagger Awards ceremony at CrimeFest, it was also announced that Ray Bazowski’s “A Perfect Murderer” has won the 2019 Margery Allingham Short Story Competition (for an unpublished work), while Rosie de Vekey has been named as the runner-up in this contest for her story “Decluttering.” The Allingham prize is presented annually thanks to a joint initiative by the Margery Allingham Society and the CWA.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Revue of Reviewers, 5-9-19

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