Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Holiday Decorations

Chanukah Crime Fiction // Hanukkah Mysteries

Chanukah (no matter how you spell it - Hanukah, Hanukkah) is celebrated for eight days, so you have plenty of time to read all these books! Today is the first day of Hanukah, although the holiday started last night when the first candle was lit. Let me know if I've missed any mysteries. This is an updated list.

Hanukah Mystery Novels
A Crafty Christmas by Molly Cox Bryan
Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle (mostly about Christmas but Hanukah is mentioned)
Beautiful Lie the Dead by Barbara Fradkin
Strength to Stand by Sheyna Galyan
Festival of Deaths by Jane Haddam
Hanukkah Gelt by T. Lee Harris
Out of the Frying Pan into the Choir by Sharon Kahn
Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman
Murder at the Minyan by Shlumat E. Kustanowitz
The Body in the Sleigh by Katherine Hall Page (mostly about Christmas but Hanukah is mentioned)
Dog Have Mercy by Neil Plakcy
Chanukah Guilt by Ilene Schneider
The Tattooed Rabbi by Marvin J. Wolf
Mom Lights a Candle by James Yaffe

Children's Hanukah Mysteries
Rabbi Rocketpower and the Mystery of the Missing Menorahs - A Hanukkah Humdinger! by Rabbi Susan Abramson and Aaron Dvorkin and Ariel DiOrio
Too Many Latkes: A Chanukah Mystery by Sonia Zylberberg
The Mohel from Mars by Miri Ariel

Mystery Short Stories
"Mom Lights a Candle" by James Yaffe, appeared in Mystery: The Best of 2002, ed. by Jon L. Breen.
"Hanukah" by Morris Hershman in Cat Crimes for the Holidays, ed. by Martin Greenberg, Edward Gorman and Larry Segriff
"The Worse Noel" by Barb Goffman in The Gift of Murder.
"Death on the List" by B.K. Stevens (AHMM, January 1999)
For more info on Jewish short story mysteries, check out Steven Steinbock who blogs on Criminal Brief, the Mystery Short Story Web Log Project.
"Navidad" by Elizabeth Zelvin, EQMM, January 2011
"No Candles for Antiochus" by Barry Ergang
Murder is no Mitzvah: Short Stories about Jewish Occasions, edited by Abigail Browning
The Latke in the Library & Other Mystery Stories for Chanukah by Libi Astaire

Mystery Anthologies
The Melancholy Menorah (Jewish Regency Mystery Stories Book 4), Libi Astaire
The Latke in the Library and Other Mystery Stories for Chanukah, Libi Astaire
36 Candles: Chassidic Tales for Chanukah, Libi Astaire

Mystery Games
Children's software mystery game: Who Stole Hanukkah? offered in five languages: English, Hebrew, Russian, French and Spanish
Other Games for Children: The Case of the Stolen Menorah: An Enlightening Hanukkah Mystery

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Dasher

Peter Lovesey's Beau Death: review by Sue Trowbridge. Book Give-Away

Peter Lovesey is one of my favorite authors and favorite people. I've known him for over 30 years, but my acquaintance with his books precedes that. Peter has also been a big supporter of and frequent contributor to the Mystery Readers Journal. With over 40 novels and numerous short stories and editor of anthologies, Peter Lovesey has just been named Grandmaster by Mystery Writers of America.

Do you have a favorite Peter Lovesey novel? Make a comment below for a chance to win a copy of his latest novel Beau Death. Be sure and leave your email address.

This review originally appeared on The Saturday Reader. Reprinted with permission by Sue Trowbridge. Sue Trowbridge reviews books (mostly mysteries & thrillers) every week on her blog. She works as a freelance web developer and book designer.

Beau Death by Peter Lovesey
reviewed by Sue Trowbridge

You can always count on Peter Lovesey to provide you with a solid, well-written, well-plotted novel. Year after year, Lovesey just keeps publishing fine crime fiction—he’s written over 40 books—and funnily enough, just a few hours after I had been musing, “Is Peter Lovesey taken for granted?” the news broke that he had been awarded Grand Master status by the Mystery Writers of America. I hope the honor will bring more attention to his stellar body of work.

Beau Death is the latest entry in his long-running series about Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, who works in the historic city of Bath. As the novel opens, a block of run-down townhouses is being demolished, and the wrecking ball reveals a surprise in one of the attics: a skeleton, dressed in an 18th-century costume, sitting in a chair. The police are called in, and when a goofy photo of Diamond with the remains goes viral, people start speculating that the dead man could be Beau Nash.

Nash was known as the “King of Bath,” a local icon who hosted royalty, politicians and famous writers during his tenure as town’s unofficial Master of Ceremonies. Eventually, scandal and debts caused him to survive on a small income from city funds, and when he died, he was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave—but could he somehow have wound up in a townhouse attic in an unfashionable suburb instead?

I will admit that I thought Beau Nash was Lovesey’s own creation, kind of a take-off on Beau Brummel, but he was real. Not real is the book’s Beau Nash Society, a fashionable, invitation-only Bath club whose members are required to attend meetings dressed in period costume. If the corpse isn’t the real Beau, perhaps he was a modern-day member of the Society, and with a little help from his girlfriend Paloma (an expert on historic clothing), Diamond will need to don a wig and breeches in order to discover the dead man’s identity.

Unlike a lot of crime fiction series which overwhelm you with their characters’ back stories, Beau Death can easily be read as a stand-alone. There are some references made to incidents in Diamond’s past, but this really isn’t a series which demands to be read in order. Though mystery fans who are just discovering Lovesey will no doubt be delighted to find that he has such a rich and deep back catalog to enjoy. His Grand Master award is well-deserved indeed.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Meet the Author

A Dose of Humor: Guest Post by DP Lyle

DP Lyle:
A Dose of Humor

Laughter is good medicine. Always has been. Laughter relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and might even boost your immune system and make you healthier. Definitely happier. I recommend it every day in my practice. With virtually every patient I see, after going through all the medical stuff, the last thing I say to them as they leave the office is: “Laugh a lot.” It’s that important.

I grew up with humor. My mom could turn anything into a party and always seemed to find the funny in everything. Dad had a drier sense of humor, but a sense of humor nonetheless. My sisters, cousins, and friends each had great wit.

As a young reader, I was interested in the usual suspects—Hemingway, Steinbeck, Verne—but also in the great humorists Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Later, I dug into more modern humor writers like Carl Hiaasen, Tim Maleeny, and Paul Levine. I admired how each employed humor and downright knee-slapping funny in their work.

Even though most of my early novels dealt with darker stuff and very bad antagonists, I always incorporated splashes of humor. I couldn’t help myself. Adding humor to even the darkest thriller is a great way to diffuse tension and humanize characters.

But I had long wanted to write a more comedic thriller. And finally, I did.

DEEP SIX was the first in my Jake Longly comedic thriller series. It was successful and even garnered a Shamus nomination. A pleasant surprise. It’s success was mainly due to Jake himself.

He’s an ex professional baseball player, Gulf Coast bar/restaurant owner, and someone who’d rather run his dive and chase bikinis than do “honest work.” At least that was his father Ray’s take. Ray has a gray past, being involved in government secret ops of some kind—Jake never knew and Ray never shared—but is now a P.I. He wants Jake to work for him. Not a chance.

But, Ray repeatedly manages to draw Jake into his world. In DEEP SIX, he talks Jake into doing a bit of surveillance work—watching the house of a suspected adulteress. Of course, the woman gets murdered practically under Jake’s nose. And the story is off and running.

Now, A-LIST is out. In this story, it’s Jake’s girlfriend Nicole who drags him into an investigation. Her uncle, Charles Balfour, is a heavy-weight Hollywood producer/director. Oscars, Emmys, you name it. His crown jewel is Space Quest, a multi-billion dollar franchise. The main character is Kirk Ford, who just happens to wake up in the famous Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans with a dead girl in his bed. Uh oh. Worse, she’s the niece of local Mafioso Tony Guidry who is hell bent on avenging her death.

Jake, Nicole, Ray, and Pancake head to the Big Easy to solve the case. Of course, it doesn’t go smoothly. But, it is funny.


D. P. Lyle is the Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Silver Award winning and Edgar (2), Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, Scribe, Silver Falchion, and USA Today Best Book (2) Award nominated author of 17 books, both non-fiction and fiction, including the Samantha Cody, Dub Walker, and Jake Longly thriller series and the Royal Pains media tie-in novels. His essay on Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS and his short story “Even Steven” in ITW’s anthology THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER. He served as editor for and contributed the short story “Splash” to SCWA’s anthology IT’S ALL IN THE STORY. 

He is International Thriller Writer’s VP for Education, and runs CraftFest, Master CraftFest, and ITW’s online Thriller School. Along with Jan Burke, he was co-host of Crime and Science Radio. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars. 


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Ghost of Christmas Past Participle

HT: Don Bruns

Christmas Mysteries: Authors E-H

Today, I continue the Christmas Mystery/Crime Fiction list. It's amazing how many mysteries are set during the holidays, but it's such a stressful time, I shouldn't be all that surprised.

Today I continue my Christmas Crime Authors List with Christmas Mystery Authors, E-H. Be sure and check the previous list: Christmas Mysteries, Authors A-D. I've updated it. Please let me know if I've forgotten an author or book on these first two lists. More lists to come.


Early, Barbara, Murder on the Toy Town Express
Eberhart, Mignon G. Postmark Murder
Eddenden, A. E. A Good Year for Murder
Edwards, Martin. Crimson Snow (SS)
Egan, Lesley. Crime for Christmas
Eickhoff, Randy Lee. Then Came Christmas
Ekwensi, Cyprian. Restless City, Christmas Gold
Emerson, Kathy Lynn (Kaitlyn Dunnett). A Wee Christmas Homicide
Emrick, K.J. Murder, Wrapped Up.
Englehart, Steve. Christmas Countdown
Erskine, Margaret. A Graveyard Plot
Estleman, Loren D. The Glass Highway
Evanovich, Janet. Visions of Sugar Plums
Faherty, Terence (ed). Murder, Mayhem and Mistletoe
Fairstein, Linda A. The Deadhouse, The Crime and the Crystal, A Small World of Murder
Farjeon, J.J. Mystery in White
Farrow, John. City of Ice
Fawcett, Quinn. Siren Song
Feddersen, Connie (ed). Murder Under the Tree
Fennelly, Tony. Home Dead for Christmas
Ferrars, E.X. Smoke Without Fire, The Small World of Murder, The Crime and the Crystal
Ferris, Monica. Crewel Yule
Finch, Charles. The Fleet Street Murders
Finnis, Jane. A Bitter Chill
Fletcher, Jessica and Donald Bain. A Little Yuletide Murder, Manhattan and Murder
Floyd, John (ed). The Gift of Murder
Flower, Amanda. A Plain Disappearance
Fluke, Joanne. Candy Cane Murders (with Leslie Meier & Laura Levine), Sugar Cookie Murder, Plum Pudding Murder, Gingerbread Cookie Murder (w/Laura Levine & Leslie Meier)
Flynn, Brian. The Murders near Mapleton
Foley, Rae. Hundreth Door
Follett, Ken. Whiteout.
Ford, Leslie. The Simple Way of Poison
Fowler, Christopher. Bryant & May and the Secret Santa 
Fowler, Earlene. The Saddlemaker’s Wife
Fraser, Anthea. The Nine Bright Shiners
Frazer, Margaret. The Servant's Tale, The Widow's Tale
Freydont, Shelley. A Merry Little Murder
Frommer, Sara Hoskinson. Witness in Bishop Hill
Furlong-Bolliger. Christmas in Killarney
Furst, Clyde Bowman. The Observations of Professor Maturin
Gaarder, Jostein. The Christmas Mystery
Gagnon, Michelle. Kidnap and Ransom
Galenorn, Yasmine. Ghost of a Chance
Gano, John. Inspector Proby's Christmas
Garner, James Finn. Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season
Garnet, A. H. The Santa Claus Killer
George, Anne. Murder on a Bad Hair Day
Giroux, E. X. Death for a Dietician
Godfrey, Thomas (ed) Murder for Christmas: 26 Tales of Seasonal Malice
Barb Goffman. Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays (ed with Donna Andrews and Marcia Talley) 4 Christmas stories by Donna Andres, Cyde Linsley, Linda Lombardi, and Debbi Mack); "A Year Without Santa Claus?" AHMM (Jan/Feb 2015); "The Worst Noel" in The Gift of Murder; "Christmas Surprise" in Don't Get Mad, Get Event.
Goldenbaum, Sally. A Holiday Yarn
Goodman, Jonathan. Murder on the Aisle
Gordon, Alan. Thirteen Night, The Moneylender of Toulouse
Gorman, Edward. Murder on the Aisle
Gouze, Roger. A Quiet Game of Bambu
Grabenstein, Chris. Hell for the Holidays, Slay Ride
Grace, Alexa. Deadly Holiday 
Grace, C.L. The Merchant of Death
Grace, Margaret. Mayhem in Miniature; Manhattan in Miniature
Grafton, Sue. “E” is for Evidence
Graham, Heather. The Last Noel, A Season of Miracles
Granger, Ann. A Season for Murder
Grant, Ellie. Treacherous Tart
Graves, Sarah. Wreck the Halls
Greeley, Andrew. The Bishop and the Three Kings
Green, Christine. Deadly Partners
Greenberg, Martin H. (ed) Cat Crimes for the Holidays, Holmes for the Holidays, Santa Clues, More Holmes for the Holidays. Twelve Crimes of Christmas
Greenwood, Kerry. Murder in the Dark, Forbidden Fruit
Griffey, Jackie. The Nelson Scandal
Gregory, Susanna. A Conspiracy of Violence
Grimes, Martha. Jerusalem Inn, Old Fox Deceived, The Man with a Load of Mischief
Guest, Judith. Killing Time in St. Cloud
Gunning, Sally. Ice Water
Haddam, Jane. Not a Creature Was Stirring, A Stillness in Bethlehem
Hager, Jean. The Last Noel
Haines, Carolyn. Buried Bones
Hall, Parnell. A Puzzle in a Pear Tree
Hall, Robert Lee. Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder
Halliday, Gemma. Christmas in High Heels 
Hallinan, Timothy. Fields Where They Lay
Hammett, Dashiell. The Thin Man
Handler, David. The Snow White Christmas Cookie
Hardwick, Richard. The Season to be Deadly
Hare, Cyril. An English Murder
Harmon, Ken. The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir
Harper, Karen. The Queene’s Christmas
Harris, Charlaine. Shakespeare’s Christmas & (ed) Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
Harris, Joanne. Chocolat
Harris, Lee. The Christmas Night Murder
Harrison, Janis. Murder Sets Seed
Hart, Carolyn Sugarplum Dead & Merry, Merry Ghost
Hart, Ellen. Vital Lies, Murder in the Air
Hart, Roy. Seascape with Dead Figures
Harvey, John. Cold Light
Hay, Doriel. The Santa Klaus Murder
Heald, Tim. (ed) A Classic Christmas Crime
Healy, Mel. Black Marigolds
Heath, Sandra. Mistletoe Mischief
Hechtman, Betty. You Better Knot Die
Hellmann, Libby. Set the Night on Fire
Hemlin, Tim. A Catered Christmas
Hess, Joan. A Holly, Jolly Murder, O Little Town of Maggody
Heyer, Georgette. Envious Casca
Hiassen, Carl. Tourist Season
Hill, Reginald. Death's Jest Book, A Clubbable Woman
Hilton, John Buxton. Death in Midwinter
Hinkemeyer, Michael. A Time to Reap
Hochgatterer, Paulus. The Sweetness of Life
Hodgkin, Marion Rous. Dead Indeed
Holland, Isabelle. A Fatal Advent
Holmes, Dee. Silent Night (anthology)
Holms, Joyce. Thin Ice
Howell, Dorothy. Slay Bells and Satchels
Howie, Edith. Murder for Christmas
Howlett, John. The Christmas Spy
Hughes, Cledwyn. The Inn Closes for Christmas, The Different Drummer
Hughes, Mary Ellen. Wreath of Deception
Hume, Fergus. The Coin of Edward VII
Hunter, Alan. Landed Gently
Hunter, Ellen Elizabeth. Murder on the Candlelight Tour, Christmas Wedding.
Hunter, Evan. Come Winter
Hunter, Fred. Ransom for a Holiday, 'Tis the Season for Murder, Homicide for the Holidays

Coming soon: the rest of the alphabet. For Christmas Mysteries: Authors A-D, go HERE.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Mysteries: Authors A-D

Crime for the Holidays. Christmas time is a major time for murder! Every year I post a mystery list that's set during the Christmas holidays. It's such an extensive list, that I divide it into 5 parts. Here's the first installment, Authors A-D of what will be a huge Christmas Crime Fiction list. I'll be posting the rest of the list over the next week or so. Here's a link to Authors, E-H. Although the list is updated every year, I'm sure I've still managed to miss a few authors and titles. Let me know, and I'd be glad to add them.

Christmas Crime Fiction: 
Authors A-D

Abbot, Anthony. About the Murder on a Startled Lady, About the Murder of Geraldine Foster
Abresch, Peter. The Faltese Malcom
Adams, Deborah. All the Crazy Winters
Adamson, Lydia. A Cat in the Manger, A Cat in the Wings, A Cat on Jingle Bell Rock, A Cat Under the Mistletoe
Adrian, Jack. Crime at Christmas (Short Story Anthology)
Alan, Isabella. Murder, Served Simply
Albert, Susan Wittig. Mistletoe Man, Rueful Death, Holly Blues
Alexander, David. Shoot a Sitting Duck
Alexander, Maria. Snowed
Alexander, Victoria. What Happens at Christmas
Allen, Michael. Spence and the Holiday Murders
Amo, Gary. Silent Night
Andre, Joel. A Death at the North Pole
Andrews, Donna. How the Finch Stole Christmas, Six Geese A-Slaying, Duck the Halls, the Nightingale Before Christmas
Andrews, Mary Kay & Kathy Hogan Trocheck. Fatal Fruitcake, Blue Christmas, Christmas Bliss
Appignanesi, Lisa.The Dead of Winter
Armstrong, Vivien. Fly in Amber
Arsenault, Emily. The Broken Teaglass
Arts, David Jay. Quiet Desperation
Ash, Maureen. Murder for Christ’s Mass
Atherton, Nancy. Aunt Dimity's Christmas
Arts, David Jay. Quiet Desperation
Ash, Maureen. Murder for Christ's Mass
Asimov, Isaac (ed) Twelve Crimes of Christmas
Atkins, Ace. Leavin' Trunk Blues
Atherton, Nancy. Aunt Dimity's Christmas
Aubert, Rosemary. The Feast of Stephen
Avocato, Lori. (ed) Sugarplums and Scandal
Baantjer, Albert, Murder in Amsterdam
Babson, Marian. Twelve Deaths of Christmas, Line Up for Murder, Murder on a Mystery Tour
Bain, Donald. A Little Yuletide MurderManhattans and Murder
Baker, Deb. Murder Trims the Tree
Baker, North. Dead to the World
Baldacci, David. The Christmas Train
Banks, Carolyn. Horse to Die For
Barre, Richard. Bethany 
Barron, Stephanie. Jane and the Wandering Eye
Battison, Brian. The Christmas Bow Murder
Baldacci, David. The Christmas Train
Ball, Donna. Silent Night
Ballard, Mignon F. Deadly Promise, Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed
Barnard, Robert. Death in a Cold Climate, The Habit of Widowhood
Barnett, T.L. Murder for the New Year
Barrett, Kathleen. Homicide for the Holidays
Barron, Leo. No Silent Night: The Christmas Battle for Bastogne
Barron, Stephanie. Jane and the Wandering Eye, Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas
Battison, Brian. The Christmas Bow Murder
Bayard, Louis, Mr. Timothy
Baxt, George. Scheme and Variations. A Christmas Story.
Beaton, M.C. Death of A Snob, A Highland Christmas, Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye, Death of a Prankster, Christmas Crumble, Busy Body
Beaumont, Cyril. The Mysterious Toyshop
Beechy, Alan. Murdering Ministers
Benrey Ron & Janet. Season of Glory
Bentley, Jennie. Home for The Homicide
Berenson, Laurien. Jingle Bell Bark, Once Bitten
Bernhardt, Susan. Murder Under the Tree
Bernhardt, William. The Midnight Before Christmas
Berry, Carole. This Year Will Be Different, The Year of the Monkey
Berry, Linda. (ed) The Last Noel
Bishop, Claudia. A Carol for a Corpse
Black, Gavin. Dragon for Christmas
Black, Sarah & John Lanyon. I’ll be Dead for Christmas
Blackburn, Cindy, Three Odd Balls
Blackstock, Charity. Foggy, Foggy Dew
Blake, Nicholas. The Corpse in the Snowman, The Smiler With the Knife, Thou Shell of Death
Blanc, Nero. A Crossworder's Delight, A Crossworder's Gift, A Crossworder's Holiday, Wrapped Up in Crosswords
Block, Barbara (and others). Murder Most Merry
Bohart, Lynn. Inn Keeping with Murder
Bodelson, Anders. Think of a Number
Borger, Gale. Totally Decked
Borthwick, J. S. Dude on Arrival, The Student Body
Boucher, Anthony. The Night Before Christmas
Bowen, Rhys. The Twelve Clues at Christmas; Away in a Manger; The Ghost of Christmas Past
Boylan, Eleanor. Pushing Murder
Boyle, Thomas. Post-Mortem Effects
Boyland, Eleanor. Pushing Murder
Bradley, Alan. The Nasty Light of Day, I am Half Sick of Shadows, As
Brady, James. Hampton's Christmas
Bramble, Forbes. Dead of Winter
Braun, Lilian Jackson. The Cat Who Turned On and Off, The Cat Who Went into the Closet
Bredes, Don. Cold Comfort
Breen, Jon. Probable Claus
Brett, Simon. The Christmas Crimes at Puzzle Manor, The Shooting in the Shop; The Cinderella Killer.
Brewer, Steve (and others) The Last Noel; Sanity Clause (novella)
Brightwell, Emily. Mrs. Jeffries and the Feast of St. Stephen, Mrs. Jeffries & the Yuletide Weddings, Mrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix Up, Mrs, Jeffries and the Silent Knight
Brockman, Suzanne. All Through the Night.
Brown, Carter. A Corpse for Christmas
Brown, Frederic. Murder Can be Fun
Brown, Rita Mae. Rest in Pieces, Santa Clawed
Browning, Abigail (ed) Murder Most Merry (stories)
Bruce, Leo. Such is Death
Brunette, Lisa. Framed and Burning.
Buchanan, Edna. The Ice Maiden
Burdette, Lucy. Death with all the Trimmings
Burke, Declan. Eightball Boogie
Burke, James. A Present for Santa
Burley, W. J. Death in Willow Pattern, Wycliffe and the Quiet Virgin
Burton, Tony (ed). By the Chimney with Care, Carols and Crimes/Gifts and Grifters, Dying in a Winter Wonderland
Byerrun, Ellen. Grave Apparel
Byron, Ellen. A Cajun Christmas Killing
Cahoon, Lynn. If the Shoe Fits
Caine, Leslie. Holly and Homicide
Cairns, Alison. New Year Resolution
Cameron, Dana (and others) Sugarplums and Scandal
Carl, Joanna. The Chocolate Bear Burglary, The Chocolate Snowman Murders
Carr, Carol K. India Black and the Widow of Windsor
Carrier, Warren. Justice at Christmas
Carrington, Tori. Queen's Ransom 
Carter, John Franklin. The Corpse on the White House Lawn
Carter, Nick. The Christmas Kill
Casey, Elizabeth Lynn. Let It Sew
Caunitz, William J. Exceptional Clearance
Challinor, C. S. Christmas is Murder
Chan, Cassandra. Spider on the Stairs
Chapman, Brenda. Cold Mourning
Chaput, W. J. The Man on the Train
Chase, Erika. Read and Buried
Chastain, Thomas. 911; The Christmas Bomber
Chaze, Elliott. Goodbye Goliath
Cheever, Sam. Christmas Grift
Chesbro, George C. Second Horseman Out of Eden, Colde Smell of Sacred Stone
Childs, Laura. The Teaberry Strangler
Christie, Agatha. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Also published as Murder for Christmas and Holiday for Murder), The Sittaford Mystery
Christmas, Joyce. Dying Well, Fete Worse than Death
Churchill, Jill. Farewell to Yarns, The Merchant of Menace, From Here to Paternity
Clad, Noel. Savage
Clark, Carol Higgins. Iced
Clark, Mary Higgins. All Though the Night, Silent Night, Deck the Halls. With Carol Higgins Clark. He Sees You when Your Sleeping With Carol Higgins Clark, The Christmas Thief. With Carol Higgins Clark, Santa Cruise. My Gal Sunday, Stillwatch, Dashing through the snow.
Cleland, Jane. Ornaments of Death
Nancy Coco. All I want for Christmas is Fudge
Coggin, Joan. Who Killed the Curate?, Dancing with Death
Cohen, Charles. Silver Linings
Cohen, Tammy. Dying for Christmas
Collier, Christine. Christmas at Cliffhanger Inn, A Holiday Sampler
Collings, Rex. Clerical Crimes for Christmas
Collins, Max Allen. Blue Christmas and Other Holiday Homicides, No Cure for Death, Spree
Colt, Jennifer. The Con Artist of Catalina Island
Conant, Susan. Gone to the Dogs
Constantine, K.C. Upon Some Midnights Clear
Cooper, Natasha. Evil is Done 
Cornish, Constance. Dead of Winter
Cornwell, Bernard. Sharpe's Christmas (Two Short Stories)
Cornwell, Patricia. Scarpetta’s Winter Table 
Cortez, Donn. Miami: Harm for the Holidays
Cousins, Caroline. Fiddle Dee Death
Coyle, Cleo. Holiday Grind, Holiday Buzz, Latte Trouble
Coward, Mat (and others) The Last Noel
Craig, Alisa. Murder Goes Mumming
Craft, Michael. Body Language
Craig, Alisa. Murder Goes Mumming
Craig, Philip R. A Deadly Vineyard Holiday: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Off Season
Crane, Hamilton. Starring Miss Seeton
Crawford, Isis. A Catered Christmas
Creasey, John. Death of a Postman
Crespi, Trella. Trouble with Thin Ice
Crider, Bill. Cursed to Death
Crighton, Michael. Coma
Crockett, Jessie. Live Free or Die
Crombie, Deborah. Water Like a Stone, And Justice There is None
Cross, Amanda. No Word from Winifred
Crowleigh, Ann. Murder Under the Tree (stories)
Daheim, Mary. The Alpine Christmas, Nutty as a Fruitcake, The Alpine Winter
Dalby, Richard. Crime for Christmas 
Daley, Kathi. Christmas Cozy; The Cat of Christmas Past; Alaskan Alliance
D'Amato, Barbara. Hard Christmas
Dams, Jeanne M. The Body in the Transept, Indigo Christmas, Winter of Discontent
Dane, Joel. The Christmas Tree Murders
Danielewski, Cynthia. Night Fire 
Darrell, Elizabeth. Czech Mate
Davenport, Chari. The Christmas Party
Davidson, Diane Mott. Sweet Revenge
Davidson, Mary Janice. Undead and Unreturnable
Davis, Frederick. Drag the Dark
Davis, Krista. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, The Diva Cooks a Goose
Davis, Mildred B. Tell Them What's Her Name Called, Three Minutes to Midnight
Dawson, Janet. Nobody's Child
Day, Marlis. Curriculum Murders
Dean, Spencer. Credit for a Murder
DeAndrea, William L. Killed on the Ice
De Castrique, Mark. Grave Undertaking 
Dee, Ed. Little Boy Blue
Deeb, Mary Jane. Christmas Mystery in Provence
Delany, Kathleen. Murder Half-Baked
Delany, Vicki. Winter of Secrets; Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, Wish You a Murderous Christmas
Dengler, Sandy. Murder on the Mount
Dentinger, Jane. The Queen is Dead
Deverell, Diana.  Twelve Drummers Drumming
Dexter, Colin. The Secret of Annexe 3, Morse's Greatest Mystery and Other Stories
Dickson, Carter. The White Priority Murders
Dobson, Joanne. Quieter Than Sleep
Donnelly, Deborah. Died to Match, May the Best Man Die
Dorsey, Tim. When the Elves Attack
Douglas, Carole Nelson. Cat in a Golden Garland
Douglas, Charlotte. Holidays are Murder
Downing, Todd. The Last Trumpet
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
Driscoll, Patricia. Shedding Light on Murder
Drummond, John Keith. 'Tis the Season to be Dying
Douglas, Carole Nelson. Cat in a Golden Garland: A Midnight Louie Mystery
Dubois, Brendan. The Gift of King Herod.
Duffy, James. The Christmas Gang
Dunbar, Sophie. Shiveree
Duncan, Elizabeth. A Killer's Christmas in Wales
Duncan, Francis. Murder for Christmas
Dunn, Carola. Mistletoe and Murder, Death at Wentwater Court
Dunnett, Kaitlyn. A Wee Christmas Homicide, Ho-Ho-Homicide
Durham, Mary. Keeps Death His Court 

Authors, E-H

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Termite Book Club

A Childhood Christmas in India: Guest Post by Sujata Massey

Sujata Massey is the Macavity and Agatha-winning author of many mystery novels. A childhood Christmas in India partially inspired her short mystery story in The Usual Santas: a Soho Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers. Sujata’s first historical mystery novel featuring Indian lawyer Perveen Mistry is titled The Widows of Malabar Hill and releases in January 2018.

Sujata Massey:
A Childhood Christmas in India

Just how far will Santa fly his sleigh? And will he cross borders of religion and nationality? I suspect this conversation goes on across the world in millions—if not billions--of homes. It happened for my sisters and me in 1973, when we were informed our upcoming holiday would be spent not in Minnesota but in Calcutta, India. Furthermore, we’d be staying in a Hindu monastery dedicated to disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, the patron saint of the Vedantic spiritual movement. Disclaimer: we were not going for reasons of religion, but for the reasonably priced guest rooms and a location within walking distance of our Indian relatives.

Calcutta, the base for my father’s family, was the first long stop on a three-month sabbatical trip to India. Missing Christmas wasn’t a huge deal for my father, who was a rational geophysicist and had grown up as a Hindu in India. My German mother, though, has Christmas in her DNA—and we’d inherited a love for chocolate, snow, decorated trees and the rest. My mother organized a small Christmas celebration before leaving for India, so we would be able to travel to India with new, unwrapped toys. I wasn’t quite a believer in Santa anymore, but I was trying hard for my sisters’ sake, and this early gifting just felt different.

I liked India right away—it was beautiful, warm, friendly. We hit it off with our relatives and were captivated by monkeys scampering through the streets, glittering stacks of bangles in the bazaar, and ice cream fantasies at the Kwality Café. However, our month-long stay at the Rama Krishna Mission, a monastery and learning center built in the 1930s, had its challenges.

First and foremost, this was a monastery dating from the waning years of the British Raj. It was meant as a peaceful home for devotees and scholars. Few children were staying on the premises, and there were constant calls for us to quiet our giggling and shouting. Of course there was no television; but I was an avid reader, and there was a small library onsite that we could use. We girls played independently throughout the mission’s courtyard and garden. The food wasn’t a hit: either plain Indian vegetarian fare or bland Anglo-Indian dishes. There were no holiday cookies, and certainly no Christmas trees.

A few days before Christmas, I took my sisters into the mission library and discovered an exciting-looking old book. It was printed in an elegant copperplate on delicate paper; I don’t remember the book’s theme, because I was quickly stopped from being allowed to check it out. A stern Canadian monk on duty chastised me for breaking the rules and leaving the children’s section.

From that point on, I was too humiliated to return to the library. All I had left to occupy myself was chasing after the monkeys who always jumped out of reach and recording the day’s events in my journal.

On Christmas Eve, my mother produced the same Christmas stockings from home and hung tinsel around the rooms that she’d found at a bazaar. My parents told us that in England, children hung stockings at the foot of their beds. India was occupied by the British until just a quarter century before our trip. Father Christmas—as they called him here--would find his way past the mission’s bougainvillea covered walls and through the tall shutters on the bedroom windows. But it would only happen if we went to bed, closed our eyes, and didn’t open them! 

I was already skeptical, and when I heard rustling in the darkness, I tried to see what was going on. But it was very dark, and the long mosquito net tucked around the bed barred me from getting out to investigate. Christmas morning, my stocking did hold something—a Five Star chocolate bar, wooden animals, colored pens and pencils, and some colorful bangles. At the breakfast table, my mother broke out a jar of Skippy Peanut Butter we didn’t know she’d brought, and we spread that thickly on toast. There were a few more gifts bought in India: pretty Indian clothes and Enid Blyton children’s novels. The monks wished us Happy Christmas and produced a fruitcake at tea time. Also, to our surprise, a family with two daughters in our age range checked in!

Decades later, I spent Christmas in Calcutta again, staying with relatives and with my six-month old daughter. This time, I saw more evidence of Christmas decoration in shops, though most people worked that day. On my walk to St. Paul’s cathedral, scores of beggars greeted me, for Christmas was known as the most generous day for giving. I wondered what Christmas was like during the British rule of India, and how people of various faiths—Hindu, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Sikh—felt about the conquerer’s holiday.

 I revisited the idea of an old-fashioned Indian Christmas in my story, “Hairpin Holiday,” that appears in The Usual Santas, an anthology of stories by 18 Soho Press authors. My short mystery story is set in Bombay, which like Calcutta, had a grand, British department store. In Calcutta, that venue was Whiteaway’s, which is now Cottage Industries, a government-sponsored handicrafts store. In Mumbai, the former Army-Navy Store is now occupied over by an Indian retailer, Westside.

Last year, as I gazed at a family of mannequins dressed in trendy Indian clothing in the Army-Navy/Westside window last year, I imagined what the displays would have been like in 1921, when the department stores were mostly shopped in by the British and Anglo-Indians. I imagined a red-suited Father Christmas surrounded by glittering gifts. The lavish display would have satisfied nostalgic Britishers and intrigued Indian children, too. From there, my story was launched.

The story’s heroine is a 23-year-old Indian woman named Perveen Mistry with a giant challenge: she is the city’s first female lawyer, and she only has her job because her father hired her to join his practice. The Mistrys are Parsis, Indian-born followers of an ancient Persian religion known as Zoroastrians. While Parsis are a tiny minority within India, they make up one third of Bombay’s lawyers and served clients of all faiths. In Hairpin Holiday, she assists a Jewish hotel owner who’s frantic about a controversial spiritual leader staying in the hotel. The Widows of Malabar Hill, the first full-length Perveen Mistry novel, gives Perveen an opportunity to help three Muslim widows she thinks are at risk of losing everything. But while Perveen knows plenty about the law and how it affects women of all faiths, it turns out the widows teach her a lot about herself.

When I was spending my first months in India, I journaled almost every day. It was my first experience regularly writing. It seems sweetly ironic now that the child prohibited from reading old books about India wound up writing many such books later on.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Writer's Block

2017 Nero Award

The Nero Award is presented each year to an author for the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories.

It was presented by The Wolfe Pack this past weekend at the Black Orchid Banquet in New York City. The "Nero" is considered one of the premier awards granted to authors of crime fiction.

This year's winner is Al Lamanda for With 6 You Get Wally (Five Star).

About the Wolfe Pack

The Wolfe Pack, founded in 1977, is a forum to discuss, explore, and enjoy the 72 Nero Wolfe books and novellas written by Rex Stout. The organization promotes fellowship and extends friendship to those who enjoy these great literary works of mystery through a series of events, book discussions, and a journal devoted to the study of the genius detective, Nero Wolfe, and his intrepid assistant, Archie Goodwin. The organization has more than 500 members worldwide. For further information, please see

Bill Crider News

Such sad news. Last night Bill Crider posted that he will be entering home hospice care today. I, like his family, friends, and everyone in the mystery community, are saddened by this news. Bill Crider is a wonderful man, author, fan, and collector. He has won the Edgar, the Macavity, the Anthony, and the Shamus Awards, and probably others I've missed. Quiet, with a dry wit, warm, a true gentleman, Bill has charmed and entertained readers and friends over the years. I've known him 30+ years through DapaEm, Bouchercon, and MDM. His posts of the adventures of the VBKs have kept us all smiling on Facebook. His encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture is astounding. Bill is and always will be a class act and a true Renaissance man. I'm glad I was able to spend time with him this summer and at Bouchercon in Toronto.  

Life is not fair. Cancer sucks. Sending love and light for an easy journey, Bill. You will be in my heart forever, Alligator Man.

Here's what Bill posted on his Blog.

Things could change, but I suspect this will be my final post on the blog. I met with some doctors at M. D. Anderson today, and they suggested that I enter hospice care. A few weeks, a few months is about all I have left. The blog has been a tremendous source of pleasure to me over the years, and I've made a lot of friends here. My only regret is that I have several unreviewed books, including Lawrence Block' fine new anthology, Alive in Shape and Color, and Max Allan Collins' latest collaboration with Mickey Spillane, The Last Stand, which is a collection of two novellas, "A Bullet for Satisfaction," an early Spillane manuscript with an interesting history, and "The Last Stand," the last thing that Spillane completed. It saddens me to think of all the great books by many writers that I'll never read. But I've had a great life, and my readers have been a big part of it. Much love to you all.

Bruce Taylor, Art Scott, Bill Crider, & Me. July 2017

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Literary Devices

Devilishly Delicious: Guest post by Katherine Hall Page

Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-three previous Faith Fairchild mysteries. The recipient of Malice Domestic’s Lifetime Achievement Award, she has received Agathas for best first mystery (The Body in the Belfry), best novel (The Body in the Snowdrift), and best short story, (“The Would-Be Widower”). She has also been nominated for the Edgar, the Mary Higgins Clark, the Macavity, and the Maine Literary Award. She lives in Massachusetts and Maine with her husband.

Katherine Hall Page:
Devilishly Delicious 

I have always wanted to write a country house mystery, compressing the action to only several days—a “Saturday to Monday” the British called these weekends—with the cast of characters limited to those invited. Well, perhaps a surprise uninvited guest or two. We first met Hercule Poirot at Styles and Agatha Christie set many other books in manor houses, as did so many others in the Golden Age. Many of these books revolve around a particular celebration— coming to one’s majority, a wedding anniversary, or a significant birthday.

In The Body in the Casket, Max Dane is throwing himself a 70th birthday party at Rowan House, his secluded mansion not far from my series sleuth Faith Fairchild’s hometown, Aleford, Massachusetts. Dane is a legendary Broadway producer, famed for musicals, but his last, Heaven Or Hell, was such a flop that even Joe Allen’s didn’t put the poster on the 46th Street restaurant’s notorious wall of duds. Max never produced another show. It’s twenty years later and after receiving a death threat in an extremely unusual form with the failed production’s Playbill tucked inside, Max sends out invitations to a carefully selected group of cast and crew: ______________________________________________________

Max Dane Presents 
A Birthday Party 
Come As You Are— 
Or Be Cast 
Rowan House 
Havencrest, Massachusetts 
January 29-31 


He also gets in touch with Faith and after giving her a tour of the sprawling house, tells her he wants her to cater the weekend more for her “sleuthing ability” than her culinary skills—fine as they are. In short, it’s Faith’s job to unmask the killer before he or she is successful and no one will be sending Max a birthday card again.

Growing up near New York City meant, growing up with theater and especially musicals. Preparing to write Casket, I had a great deal of fun going back over Playbills saved from favorites, reading biographies of producers like David Merrick and Hal Prince, listening to scores, and recalling my own brief experience trodding the boards as Emily in Our Town at Livingston High School. But what became equally enticing was researching devilishly—and heavenly—delicious food. Max suggests the birthday dinner include a few dishes referencing the musical’s title and Faith runs with it.

Devil’s Food Cake immediately came to mind—and there is a terrific mystery, Devil’s Food, by Janice Weber. So too did Angel Food Cake. A guilty treat, sinful? There seemed to be plenty of desserts referencing heaven and hell. I found Angel Frosting, a fluffy marshmallow one that Faith decides to use for one of the two chocolate cakes, leaving the Angel Food one unadorned with a mixed berry coulis on the side for those who wished. She also bakes a few dozen mini cupcakes, including red velvet ones to suggest certain fires, and decorates them with fondant halos and pitchforks.

Max wants all the food more than over the top, giving Faith an unlimited budget. This means the deviled eggs—always the first items to disappear at a party or picnic—are topped with caviar. And for a first course, the primo, the pasta Faith selects is Lobster Fra Diavolo. It is unclear where Fra Diavolo, “brother devil” style originated, but most sources place it in New York’s Little Italy on or before the 1930s. Some insist that it was brought over here from Naples. Whatever the truth, it is a blessing with just enough red pepper flakes to give the lobster a kick!

I began asking friends for suggestions and in so doing discovered a dish to include that I have also been making this fall. Andrew Palmer, a wonderful cook, told me about a German farm dish, Himmel Und Erde (Heaven and Earth), which combines potatoes, from the ground, and apples from above. It is a variation of mashed potatoes with plenty of butter. The apples should be slightly tart, and it’s delicious with pork or chicken.

Finally, I wanted a special libation and discovered the perfect one from London’s Savoy Hotel bar, a Fallen Angel Cocktail. It combines gin, fresh lime juice, white crème de menthe with a dash of Angostura bitters. Not sure whether the “fallen” part refers to one’s behavior before or after, but it packs a wallop and may send you searching for a flapper headband or top hat.

Recalling Thackeray’s apt quotation—Next to eating good dinners, a healthy man with a benevolent turn of mind, must like, I think, to read about them—I hope you will enjoy The Body in the Casket’s food as well as the crime!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Story Critique

You Have the Right to Remain Silent: Guest Post by Clark Lohr and Timothy W. Moore

Clark Lohr & Timothy W. Moore:You Have the Right to Remain Silent….

There’s a display in the Phoenix Police Museum devoted to Ernesto Miranda, the man whose arrest led to the Miranda Decision, handed down in 1966 by the United States Supreme Court. Booking photos show a slender, well-muscled young man with pale skin, black hair, and full lips. In some images, Miranda wears black horn-rimmed glasses.

Ernesto Miranda had been in trouble since he was a teenager. He joined the Army at age eighteen, only to be dishonorably discharged on a Peeping Tom conviction.

When Phoenix PD reviewed Miranda’s RAP Sheet (Record of Arrests and Prosecutions) and then arrested him, he had already created a criminal pattern of behavior as a serial rapist, robber, and kidnapper.

Flash forward to 2014. Phoenix Police Detective Timothy W. Moore knew that 2016 would be the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Miranda Decision. He also knew that no one had actually taken the time to write the story down in detail. Moore set 2016 as his deadline to produce a true crime book about the hunt for Ernest Miranda and the court actions leading to the Miranda Decision.

Moore had read thousands of suspects their Miranda Warnings in his nearly thirty-year career. He’d started as a patrol officer, and he’d worked a wide range of detective assignments in order to round himself out by learning the many aspects of various police investigations. He’d earned a bachelor’s degree along the way and, in 2014, he was working the Violent Crimes Bureau’s Crime Gun Intelligence Squad.

Moore was also an associate director on the board of the Phoenix Police Museum, along with a host of current and retired Phoenix police officers and detectives, one of whom was Carroll Cooley, a tough, square jawed man with wide set eyes who’d retired from the Phoenix PD in 1978. Cooley and another detective named Wilfred Young had arrested Ernesto Miranda on March 13, 1963, kicking off a chain of events that resulted in the most famous Supreme Court decision in United States history.

Cooley was open to being interviewed and Moore set about getting the Miranda story right. His work with Cooley opened a door leading to many retired officers and detectives who were involved in various aspects of the Miranda story from 1962, including the detectives who investigated Miranda’s murder in 1976.

In follow-up interviews, Moore learned about Miranda’s trial, the appeals, his re-trial and his sentencing. But there was more to it. Newspaper accounts and Freedom of Information Act requests led to original documentation and court records.

Moore did additional interviews, which included a Miranda family member— retired Phoenix Police Detective David Miranda, the nephew of Ernesto. Using these interviews, coupled with Phoenix Police Department reports, court records, and the volumes of Supreme Court documentation, Moore did a draft of a book written with a unique structure.

Mirandized Nation is largely a scary true crime book that shifts points of view between Miranda, his victims, and the detectives who search for the answers that will lead them to a sick, dangerous, and persistent predator of women.

We follow Detective Cooley’s successful career, which paralleled Miranda’s criminal career. Cooley retired with the rank of captain. Miranda’s career ended in true outlaw fashion by way of a violent death.  

Mirandized Nation is also a book that uses an accessible, fast moving narrative to detail what the Supreme Court was doing at the time. They were, in fact, examining multiple cases like Miranda’s, all of which had to do with suspects’ rights, and the Miranda Decision was so named only because his was the first case of that type to arrive on their court calendar.

Moore fictionalized some of the dialog and some of the characterization of the players to facilitate the story and made use of close third person, quoting Miranda’s thoughts. Names of victims and witnesses were changed, but nothing else was invented—which, again, makes it scary. We’re with Miranda when he’s pulling out of his driveway at night to find and assault women and we know what day it is and we know what time it is—and we know it’s true. Every chapter of the book is furnished with a list of references.

With his draft completed, Tim Moore solicited the assistance of Clark Lohr, a crime novelist living in Tucson, Arizona, who possessed what Moore did not have—a degree in Writing and Literature and another in English. The two men were able to combine their research and expertise, leading to a lasting friendship and a revised draft of Mirandized Nation.

After professional editing done by Lisa Anderson, and a final editing by Deborah J. Ledford, a novelist and owner of IOF (Ice on Fire) Productions, Ltd., Mirandized Nation was published in May of 2015.

Clark Lohr lives in Tucson, Arizona. He is the author of two crime novels, Devil's Kitchen and The Devil on Eighty-five.

Timothy W. Moore retired from the Phoenix PD after a thirty-year career, most of it as a detective. Moore has an enduring marriage and two grown daughters.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Westminster Cat Show

Happy Caturday!

Searching for Christmas Past: Guest Post by Rhys Bowen

Today I continue our special Christmas Mystery posts with a guest post by Rhys Bowen. Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries. She also wrote the #1 Kindle bestseller In Farleigh Field and will soon be releasing a new stand-alone novel called The Tuscan Child. Rhys was born and raised in England but now divides her time between California and Arizona.

Searching for Christmas Past

I remember my childhood Christmases with great nostalgia. They were simple in the extreme: a few days before Christmas there were good things to buy in the shops. Carol singers stood in groups on the sidewalks or came to our front doors. On Christmas Eve we drove to my grandmother’s house. On the way we stopped to buy a Christmas tree, which was then strapped to the roof of the car. It was never very big, four foot high at the most. When we arrived we decorated it with glass ornaments—some quite lovely in the shape of birds or tiny instruments (my grandfather had been an orchestra conductor).

We went to Midnight mass. I remember when I was old enough to join my relatives and the sound of our feet on the frosty pavements as we walked to church. Then coming home to hot mince pies and mulled wine. In the morning there was a stocking at the bottom of my bed, filled with small gifts. There were seldom big presents. I once got a bike but usually it was a sweater or a long playing record or a book. We had a huge turkey lunch, then tea with a Christmas cake decorated with white icing to resemble a snow scene. Then we sat around the tree and found more small gifts on the branches. Oh, and everything had to stop for the Queen’s speech on television… actually it was on radio in my early years. We played games like charades. We laughed a lot. And that was it. Simple. Non commercial.

So all my adult life I’ve been longing for a simple Christmas like that. The problem is that we have so much, all the year now that small things are no longer treats. In my childhood Christmas was the only time of the year when we ate turkey, found nuts and tangerines and dates in the shops. We rarely had new clothes so a new sweater was a treat. Now we have commercials in which people find a Lexus under the tree. And the stores are blaring out Christmas music from Halloween onward. We are overwhelmed and bombarded with Christmas cheer.

One year a German friend and I were lamenting that Christmas is not as it was in Europe. So we decided (at great expense) to rent a house at Lake Tahoe for the holiday. When we arrived it was a picture-perfect snow scene. The next morning we awoke to rain. And it rained and it rained. All the snow was washed away. The kids couldn’t play outside. There was no TV. Everyone became bored and bad tempered. The other wife went down with a horrible cold and went to bed, so I was left with the cooking. So much for the perfect Christmas!

The closest I have come was when John and I took a Christmas market cruise up the Danube. We’d stop at small towns and wander among the booths, admiring carved wooden toys, smelling grilling sausages, mulled wine, gingerbread. I thought it was magical. Unfortunately my husband soon became bored. “How many angels do you need to look at?” he’d ask. I’d love to do this again, but I’d have to persuade one of my daughters to come with me!

So I suppose this is one of the reasons I enjoy writing Christmas books. At least I can create the perfect Christmas on the page! The Ghost of Christmas Past is the second Molly Murphy novel I’ve set at Christmas time. And actually it’s quite a dark book. It takes place at a luxurious mansion on the Hudson so it has the old fashioned Christmas with all the trimmings, but an undercurrent of loss and sorrow and mystery is never far from the surface. And of course Molly wants to make everything right. She always does! You’ll have to read the book to find out if she succeeds.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Children's Book Author

Cold War Variation: Guest Post by Bill Rapp

Bill Rapp began his professional life as an academic, teaching European History at Iowa State University. A graduate of Notre Dame (B.A.), The University of Toronto (M.A.) and Vanderbilt (Ph. D.), Bill has always been particularly intrigued by German history, but the last 35 years working for the U. S. Government has broadened his perspective to all of Europe and much of the Middle East. His career has taken him around the world, including to Berlin as the Wall fell and Germany was reunified. Bill Rapp’s books include the mystery novels Angel in Black, A Pale Rain, Burning Altars, Berlin Breakdown, and Tears of Innocence. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife, two daughters, two miniature schnauzers, and a cat.  His latest novel, The Hapsburg Variation, releases today!

Bill Rapp:
Cold War Variation

Having started my adult life as an historian and then moved on to a career as an intelligence officer, writing Cold War spy thrillers would appear to be the perfect cap to my career. It certainly combines my love of history--especially the European and American pasts--and the last 35 years as an analyst, diplomat, and senior executive at the CIA.

As an historian, I have always been fascinated not just about what transpired in the past, but also on what remained and the influence that has had on the events that followed. As an intelligence officer, I had to work to understand those elements that remained, along with what had changed, and translate that into a usable product for our policymakers. At the same time, I have always had a love of literature. Fortunately, combining elements of all three allows me not only to enjoy the time I spend researching the stories--I spend much of my free time reading histories and mysteries--but also to pursue a dream of mine I have harbored since those bygone days in graduate school: to take my academic training and populate that world with living characters confronting historical challenges and dangers.

Given recent events in Europe and developments in our relationship with Russia, it should come as no surprise that writers would begin to explore the Cold War once more as a field for espionage thrillers. Granted, the continent has changed, as has our major antagonist, not to mention our own relationship with our European allies. But once again we have that tension and conflict that was the source of so much of our nation's policy and the definition of our interests after the Second World War when Europe was the principal field of competition. Admittedly, I have the benefit of hindsight as I recast the stories that enlivened those times, which invariably colors the characters I invent and the work they do. The challenge is not to lose sight of the mentalities and perceptions that drove those characters to act as they did and to provide the readers with an accurate and credible portrayal of the period and the world I am trying to recreate.

I should add that there is a personal element to the stories in this series as well. I have to credit my wife with the original idea on Karl Baier's inception, the protagonist and young American CIA officer in the The Hapsburg Variation. I mentioned to her one day that I wanted to place a thriller in Berlin in the days and months immediately after the Second World War, and that I had an idea for an opening scene but no story yet. She suggested I take her father's case as a model. Not only had he been stationed in the city at that time as part of Operation Paperclip to assess Germany's scientific achievements and capacity and identify the leading personnel, but he had also moved into the house of a man with the exact same name. That provided the starting point for Karl Baier's career as an American intelligence officer in post-war Europe, portrayed in Tears of Innocence. That particular individual--the German, not my father-in-law--never returned, but the American version brought home a box of his German counterpart's memorabilia that included objects as varied as photographs from the occupation of Greece to never-claimed laundry tickets. And sorting through that box actually helped move the plot in the first book in the series along. It's a bit ironic that when I decided to take Karl Baier's path along a different route from that of my wife's father, it was a laundry ticket resting at the bottom of the lot that provided the vehicle to do so. I should add that I made Karl Baier a first-generation German-American not only because that reflects my own family background, but, more importantly, because I wanted to symbolize the ties that bind our country to its Old World heritage. It's a bond that made our emergence after WWII as a global power deeply involved in the future of Europe almost inevitable. It is also the bond that helps propel the people and stories in the Cold War Spy Series that began with Tears of Innocence and continues with The Hapsburg Variation.

* * *

About The Hapsburg Variation (Coffeetown Press; release date December 1, 2017)

In 1955, as the Allies prepare to sign the State Treaty granting Vienna its independence, CIA Deputy Chief of Station Karl Baier becomes enmeshed in the case of a murdered Austrian aristocrat. Then his wife, Sabine, is kidnapped, and he suspects a connection. The stakes rise along with the danger as his investigation takes him from Vienna to Berlin, London, Scotland, and finally Budapest. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Holiday Icon

Brand new-old story: "The Glass That Laughed" by Dashiell Hammett: Read it Free

In September 2017 Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter, Julie Rivett, co-editor with Richard Layman on The Big Book of the Continental Op, saw a notice on the Dashiell Hammett Reading Group Facebook page posted by Kevin Burton Smith, founder of The Thrilling Detective Web Site, stating that an unnamed fan had come across a previously unrecorded story by Hammett in True Police Stories.

Read about the discovery here.

Read the story The Glass That Laughed by Dashiell Hammett on Electric Literature.

Irish Independent Crime Novel of the Year

2017 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards:

Irish Independent Crime Fiction Novel of the Year:

The Therapy House, by Julie Parsons (New Island)
Also Nominated:

• Can You Keep A Secret? by Karen Perry (Michael Joseph)
• Here and Gone, by Haylen Beck (Harvill Secker)
• Let the Dead Speak, by Jane Casey (HarperCollins
• One Bad Turn, by Sinéad Crowley (Quercus)
• There Was a Crooked Man, by Cat Hogan (Poolbeg Press)

John Connolly won the Ryan Tubridy Listeners' Choice Award for his non-crime novel, He (Hodder & Stoughton), about the life of 20th century English comic Stan Laurel.

There were 13 categories of works and authors. See them here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Confessions of a Christmas Cheater: Guest Post by Ellen Byron

Today I'm starting my Christmas Crime Fiction posts. I'll be posting my lists (and checking them twice!), but this year, I'll also be posting guest blogs from authors with Christmas themed mysteries. Enjoy!

Ellen Byron writes the Cajun Country Mystery series. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called her new book, A Cajun Christmas Killing, “superb.” Body on the Bayou won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Plantation Shudders, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards, and made the USA Today Bestseller list. She’s written over 200 national magazine articles; published plays include the award-winning Graceland; TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, Fairly OddParents, and pilots. A native New Yorker, Ellen now lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and two spoiled rescue dogs.


I have a confession to make. I’m a Christmas cheater.

For me, one of the best aspects of the holiday is the surprise element. Oooo, what’s in the bag? What’s in the box? Except by the time the big day rolled around, I already knew. Because much as I insisted on being surprised, I was helpless against my urge to track down the presents and have a looksee. One year when I was about ten, the rest of my family went out, leaving me home alone. Having searched all the closets for the holiday presents and come up empty, I pulled down the old ladder to the attic of our 1920s home, scurried up it, and located the gift haul. When my family came home, I greeted them in tears because the Little Kiddle doll I desperately wanted wasn’t among the haul. “You weren’t supposed to even see the presents,” my exasperated mother scolded. “You’re the one who always wants to be surprised.”

Abashed, I swore I’d never do the cheat-and-peek again. And I didn’t… for a few years. Then one day pre-holiday, I accidentally found the Christmas gifts in a basement closet. I didn’t just peek that time. I tried everything on. My acting talent was undeniable on Christmas morning when I acted totally surprised as I opened each outfit. By the way, I wasn’t a kid at that point. I was fifteen.

As an adult, I’ve been known to shake a box, peek into a bag, and try to elicit clues from gift givers. Seriously, I still do this - all the while insisting that I want to be surprised. But it also works in reverse for me. If I’m really excited about a gift I’m giving someone, I beg the recipient to let me give it to them sooner than the actual holiday. More than once my teen say, “My birthday isn’t for two weeks, but I’ll open your present now if means you’ll stop bothering me!”

In an early draft of A Cajun Christmas Killing, my latest Cajun Country Mystery, I gave this cockeyed gift attitude to my protagonist Maggie. But when I read the draft, I thought, wow, she’s super annoying. So I rewrote the story and gave her a healthy, normal attitude toward gift giving.

These days, with the constant stream of boxes from Amazon or Vistaprint showing up on our doorstep, every week feel like a holiday. I’ve told my family not to buy me presents for Christmas or my birthday. I say it’s because I don’t need anything, but I also think it’s to protect them and myself from my chronic serial cheating. Old habits die hard, or in my case, not at all. But at least my characters are more mature about gift getting and giving than I am.