Nov 202014

My apologies for not posting last week. I was at Bouchercon and was so caught up in the festivities that I forgot to post. Or it might just be my old age.

I believe that tomorrow Erin will be posting on Bloody Murder, the ad hoc panel that a group of us threw together to celebrate writers on the margins - writers who haven't gotten the exposure or support they deserve. The event itself was amazing. I don't remember how many authors participated, but I know it was over 40. Overall a pretty fantastic event. We should shirts and raised $500 for WriteGirl. MWA graciously provided free Bloody Marys during the event. It sounds like an event like this may become a regular at Bouchercon. This situation was turned into a very positive event and I applaude Bouchercon 2014 and Ingrid Willis for their cooperation and efforts to make it happen.

And then a funny thing happened. Catriona McPherson won the Anthony Award for the Best Paperback Original. I was floored. Of course I loved the book. Catriona's writing is amazing. She absolutely deserved the award. And I can tell you, there are more of these in the pipeline - contemporary suspense stand alones. Two published and three more coming.

For me personally, I suddenly felt legit. Like many authors, I believe a lot of acquiring editors are filled with doubt about our talent. Let's face it, not every book or series we acquire becomes a best seller. Heck, most of us would settle for a good solid seller. We may be acquiring books that we feel are solid and deserve to be published, yet they fail in the marketplace. Winning an Anthony Award is one of those confidence builders that helps to heal the broken heart for those books that didn't commerically succeed. I have to say that I am extremely proud. Of Catriona. Of the Midnight Ink authors who attended the awards and were there to cheer Catriona on. Of the whole Midnight Ink family - our authors, our editors, our sales people, our publicity and marketing departments. Pubbing a book is a group effort. And we all should be basking in glory. I do have the best job in the world. Now if I can only figure out the magical formula to make all my babies succeed.

I am going to wrap this up with a link to the speech Ursula Le Guin made. She was honored for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Awards. Here is a transcript. Take a quick peek. She is calling out publishers for acting as profiteers rather than creating art. Powerful words by a highly respected pioneer. It's a difficult balancing act - publishing the very best that comes across my desk, yet being constantly aware of the market and the chances for financial success. Ms. Le Guin certainly gives us in the industry something to think about.

Have a great rest of the week y'all.

Nov 202014
Hitman #4: They're Coming To Kill You, Jane!, by Kirby Carr No month stated, 1975  Canyon Books I had a hard time tracking down this particular installment of the Hitman series; this and the fifth volume must’ve had very scarce printings. Unfortunately, the actual contents of They’re Coming To Kill You, Jane! don’t justify the overblown prices this volume goes for – and also, per earlier
Nov 202014
One of my favorite characters in current Western fiction, Chap O'Keefe's freelance range detective Joshua Dillard, returns in THE LAWMAN AND THE SONGBIRD, a novel originally published by Robert Hale in 2005. It's now available in an inexpensive e-book edition and is well worth reading. This novel delves into Joshua's past, flashing back to his days as a Pinkerton operative when he was sent
Nov 202014

Michael Connelly and Sebastian Rotella

Sebastian Rotella signing galleys of his forthcoming novel, The Convert's Song.

Richard Lange

Sebastian Rotella and Simon Wood

David Morrell signing galleys of his forthcoming novel, Inspector of the Dead.

Duane Swierczynski's signing line for CANARY

Oh, don’t mind us. Just looking over our photos from Bouchercon while listening to sad jazz and missing our authors. :’-(

Nov 192014
Now let me turn the spotlight over to Ali Karim, who spent much of this last Bouchercon photographing authors, critics, and readers alike. Many of those shots wound up on Facebook, where his family in England could follow his escapades without having to suffer any jet lag. I’ve pulled together some of Ali’s images and posted them below, for everybody else who couldn’t make it to Long Beach.

The day before Bouchercon began, Ali Karim and his cohorts visited the studio where the police procedural Bosch, based on Michael Connelly’s series of novels, was being filmed. Left to right: Deadly Pleasures critic Larry Gandle; author Roger Ellory; Connelly; Bosch star Titus Welliver; our man Karim; and Shots editor Mike Stotter.

Edward Marston embraces his wife, Judith Cutler.

Ali with author Reed Farrel Coleman.

Fan Guest of Honor Al Abramson.

A study in contrasts: Ali beside Charles Todd, who with his mother, Caroline, composes the Inspector Ian Rutledge series.

Left to right: The ubiquitous Ali Karim with author Bob Truluck and Rap Sheet blogger J. Kingston Pierce.

Anthony Award finalist Sara J. Henry nursing her basketball injury with Bouchercon board member-at-large John Purcell.

Author Jeffery Deaver with You-Know-Who.

Left to right: Mike Stotter, Linda L. Richards, and J. Kingston Pierce with legendary editor-bookseller Otto Penzler.

Mystery writer Brendan DuBois and critic Oline Cogdill.

The Hat Squad: Ali with author David Morrell.

Left to right: The bass-voiced Gary Phillips, an unusually dressed-down Ali, and Stephen Jay Schwartz.

Bouchercon 2014 chair Ingrid Willis with Indiana bookseller Mike Bursaw, aka “Mystery Mike.”

Thrilling Detective Web Site editor Kevin Burton Smith with his wife, Diana Killian, and that strange dude in the white hat again.

J. Robert Janes signing some of his World War II thrillers.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em: Ali Karim, Lee Child. ’Nuff said.

Ali with “Medieval Noir” novelist Jeri Westerson, president of the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, at a Librarian Tea/panel discussion about audiobooks.

J. Kingston Pierce (yes, the one in that slick Rockford Files T-shirt) together with fellow bloggers Jacques Filippi and Ali Karim.

Mike Stotter, Max Allan Collins, and J. Kingston Pierce mug for the camera before the Shamus Awards dinner commences.

Author Cara Black and Ali rest between panel talks.

Michael Connelly being interviewed before an audience by another journalist-turned-author, Sebastian Rotella.

The Guests of Honor Panel closed out Bouchercon 2014. Left to right: moderator Tammy Kaehler; American Guest of Honor J.A. Jance; Toastmaster Simon Wood; Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Jeffery Deaver; Young Adult Guest of Honor Eoin Colfer; International Guest of Honor Edward Marston; and again, Fan Guest of Honor Al Abramson. A good time was indeed had by all.

With the festivities over, Mike Stotter, Roger Ellory, Peter Rozovsky, and J. Kingston Pierce take a leisurely afternoon stroll down to The Pike at Rainbow Harbor. And look, there in the distance--could it be the Queen Mary?

Before all of the Bouchercon stragglers depart, one last dinner. Front row, left to right: Diana Killian, Jodi Pierce, Linda L. Richards, Heather Graham Pozzessere, and Connie Perry. Middle row: Rob Brunet, Kevin Burton Smith, J. Kingston Pierce, Peter Rozovsky, Scott Montgomery, Roger Ellory, and Tanis Mallow. Back row: Mike Stotter and yes, one final time, Ali Karim.

(Click here to find Part I of our post-Bouchercon coverage.)
Nov 192014
Yours truly with Ali Karim, outside the Hyatt Regency.

My first visit to Long Beach, California, came during the early 1970s. My father had been stationed in Great Britain during World War II, and had worked there as some sort of wheeling-and-dealing army supply officer (picture James Garner’s “Scrounger” from The Great Escape). But after the fighting ended, he returned to the States aboard the RMS Queen Mary, which had been painted gray for service as a troop transport vessel. When that ocean liner was finally retired from service in 1967 and subsequently repurposed in Long Beach as a tourist attraction, my father decided he wanted to see her once more. So he packed up our family, and we drove from Portland, Oregon, all the way down to the so-called Aquatic Capital of America to see what had become of the old girl. I was pretty young at the time and don’t recall much of that trip, but I do remember standing on the dock below the Queen Mary and staring up in awe at how mammoth the ship appeared (she was, after all, some 200 feet longer than the ill-fated RMS Titanic).

Last week marked my only other journey to Long Beach, and while I could see the Queen Mary from my hotel window high above Ocean Boulevard, I never did reach her moorage across Rainbow Harbor. Instead, I spent almost all of my time partaking of this year’s Bouchercon (“Murder at the Beach,” November 13-16), held at the Hyatt Regency hotel and adjacent Long Beach Convention Center. It was my fifth Bouchercon, after the 2011 convention in St. Louis, so I knew pretty much what to expect. Yet every one of these World Mystery Conventions offers a little something new, even if it’s only a novel panel-discussion topic (not easy to come by), a happenstance encounter with an author previously unknown to you, or learning about a book that had eluded your radar.

For me, the best part of this whole shindig was reconnecting with good friends I don’t see nearly often enough, especially The Rap Sheet’s ever-energetic UK correspondent, Ali Karim. He and I got to know each other during the early days of the 21st century, when he volunteered to write reviews for January Magazine (for which I still serve as crime fiction editor), and we have traveled back and forth across the Atlantic to drink together and swap reading recommendations ever since. Ali likes to say we could have been brothers in another lifetime, or perhaps in an alternative universe, and I won’t disagree with that. I value his friendship tremendously. And I’m pleased that he usually makes these Bouchercon forays in the company of two other pals of his, Shots editor Mike Stotter and author R.J. “Roger” Ellory. Between them, their fine humor and equally fine stories leave me laughing for weeks after the conventions conclude.

Other highlights of Bouchercon 2014, though, included: dining out with Canadian-American author David Morrell (whose novel Murder as a Fine Art won the Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award); sitting through Art Scott’s slide presentation of artist Robert McGinnis’ gorgeous paperback covers and paintings (during which I learned that McGinnis had imagined both James Coburn and Goldie Hawn as models for his players on the front of the 1971 paperback, As Old As Cain); two panel talks moderated by Peter Rozovsky--“Belfast Noir,” which included Stuart Neville and Gerard Brennan as speakers, and “Beyond Hammett, Chandler and Spillane,” during which Gary Phillips, Max Allan Collins, Sarah Weinman and others swapped stories about “forgotten” crime writers of the mid-20th-century pulp era (Joseph Nazel, Dolores Hitchens, and Ennis Willie among them); attending the Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus Awards banquet with The Thrilling Detective Web Site’s Kevin Burton Smith and his wife, author Diana Killian, as well as writers such as Brad Parks, Sue Grafton, and Richard Helms; Poisoned Pen Press publisher Barbara Peters’ interview with International Guest of Honor Edward Marston, who proved to be a wellspring of entertaining stories (and was later kind enough to remember me, when I went seeking his autograph on a book); J. Robert Janes’ generosity in gifting me with an out-of-print hardcover copy of his 1991 thriller, The Alice Factor; Sebastian Rotella’s onstage interview with Michael Connelly; and a reminiscence-filled post-Bouchercon dinner featuring Ali Karim, Mike Stotter, January editor and author Linda L. Richards, and several others who had booked Monday flights home. In addition, my wife and I sat down for dinner one evening with my cousin Scott and his wife, Lori, at a Long Beach restaurant (and classy converted former bank) called The Federal Bar. I don’t have nearly as many chances as I would like to get together with members of my mother’s sister’s family. Since Scott and Lori live in the Los Angeles area, I wasn’t about to miss seeing them on this trip.

In addition to all of that, I spent some time with writer friends such as Lee Goldberg (who shares my passion for old TV detective series), Keith Raffel, Kelli Stanley, Mystery Fanfare’s Janet Rudolph, and the aforementioned Gary Phillips and Max Allan Collins (the latter of whom, with his wife, fellow fictionist Barbara Collins, hosted the Shamus Awards party). I was only sorry that I didn’t have more contact on this occasion with Mark Billingham, Sarah Weinman, and Otto Penzler, and never so much as clapped eyes on a few people I had hoped to meet--Lyndsay Faye, Owen Laukkanen, and Bruce DeSilva among them--but maybe I shall bump into them during a near-future Bouchercon. I’ll call it compensation that I returned to Seattle with a few goodies, prominent among those being two additions to my modest collection of Robert McGinnis-illustrated paperbacks: 24 Hours to Kill (1961) and Murder Me for Nickels (1960). I would surely have purchased more, except that the Book Room at this event was conspicuously short of sales tables offering classic paperbacks (and, sadly, didn’t feature a British bookseller at all).

As it happens, my friend Ali is responsible for the programming at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina, so there’s every chance I’ll swing by those festivities next October. I shall use the intervening months to rest my liver and catch up on sleep in preparation.

(Part II of our post-Bouchercon coverage, filled with photographs from the event, will be posted this afternoon.)
Nov 192014

ROBERT J. CASEY – Hot Ice. Bobbs-Merrill, hardcover, 1933. Greenberg, reprint hardcover, no date stated. Prize Mystery Novels #4, digest-sized paperback, 1943.

   Robert J. Casey’s Hot Ice was something I picked up at an antique store just to be nice and let it sit on my TBR shelf for five or ten years till I finally seized it in fit of read-it-or-rid-of-it. Well, it’s not a keeper, but I’m glad I took the time for this charming, hard-boiled tale of double-cross and murder in the stolen gem market.

   It features Joseph Crewe, a Chicago police detective, and an ex-reporter named Jim Sands as an engaging pair of sleuths following a trail of unrelated (or are they?) murders across the city, and author Casey uses a ploy here you don’t see very often: we all know how irritating it is when an author provides information to the detective and withholds it from the reader (she bent down and picked something off the floor, tucking it carefully in her pocket. “I’ll pull this out in the last chapter,” she smiled knowingly) but Casey provides information to the reader that the sleuths have to puzzle out for themselves (or will they?) and there’s some dandy suspense engendered watching them stumble towards it, plus a few added twists as the reader and detectives are both faced with the mystery of a murdered milkman who
finished his route post mortem.

       The Jim Sands series –

The Secret of Thirty-Seven Hardy Street. Bobbs, 1929.
The Secret of the Bungalow. Bobbs, 1930.
News Reel. Bobbs, 1932.
Hot Ice. Bobbs, 1933.
The Third Owl. Bobbs, 1934.

Editorial Comment:   Hubin does not say whether Joseph Crewe is in all of these novels or not. According to a limited Google search, he is in some of them.

 Posted by at 5:38 pm