Sunday, September 29, 2013

MYSTERY WEEKEND ROUNDUP for September 28, 2013

One Novelist's Filthy Secret...Exposed!

I found this amusing little essay at the New York Times Opinionator page and I'm still laughing. Brad Parks, author of The Good Cop, dishes on his dirty little secret...mainly that writing crime fiction involves lying!

For a former news reporter, this was a tremendous hurdle to overcome, since everything he'd ever learned in the news room stressed truth and facts, backed up by multiple sources.

Safe to say, he's succeeded, and has joined the rest of us liars.

Michael Chabon Visits Kansas City

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Micahel Chabon visited Kansas City recently. If you missed his appearance, you can still listen to him talk about words, writing, and how he finds time to write while beiong a busy parent. Join him with Steve Kraske on his radio program, Up To Date.

Raymond Chandler's Struggles with The Long Goodbye

J. Kingston Pierce has a great Chandler article on his blog, The Rap Sheet, this week. See how Chandler struggled with his novel, The Long Goodbye. I wasn't aware that Chandler was thinking of dumping his popular character Philip Marlowe, abandoning crime fiction altogether, and writing an English melodrama.

He confessed to his publisher, that he couldn't manage it. "It begins to look as though I were tied to this fellow for life. I simply can’t function without him."

We are all grateful.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TRUE CRIME TUESDAY for September 24, 2013


Of all the superheroes, Spiderman has had the most brushes with the law, no thanks to a campaign waged against him by newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson. But our favorite web slinger may have finally been ensnared in a web of his own making.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that a suspect wearing a spiderman outfit entered a store in the college section of town known locally as Oakland and asked for money. The clerk pulled out a taser and Spidey hauled out of there.

He must have been out of web juice. 

Bond was set at 50,000 dollars, according to a follow up by the Post.

No word yet from Mary Jane or Aunt May.


Two teens in Spokane, Washington, 13 and 14 years of age, were arrested after they attacked one of the boys' mother. The suspects were apparently high on pills when they concocted a plan to kill the woman and then eat her liver.

This is wrong on so many levels. To kill the woman who gave you life? And over something you can get at your local grocery store?

Here's hoping the criminals get bread and water in prison. As for me, I don't think you could convince me to try this no matter how many pills you shoved down my throat.

And I certainly wouldn't kill someone for it. Yuck!


And some good news. An infant kidnapped 13 years ago in Missouri was located and reunited with her family.  A suspect is in custody.

According to a detective in Livingston County, "It was a good reunion," Merconi said. "You could tell within the first three minutes they hit it off pretty well. Since then, I've been on the phone with the dad and from what I'm understanding, it's going pretty well."

The best news I've heard this morning.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mystery Weekend Roundup for September 20, 2013

Bouchercon Is On!

Bouchercon, the biggest mystery/scifi writers conference in the galaxy (by humans, anyway) began yesterday in Albany, New York. The conference got off to a rocky start for some (one prominent crime writer discovered to her horror that her train had no bar cart...friends rushed to her aid and we can only hope she arrived in Albany unscathed by the traumatic event).

Louise Penny won the Macavity for best mystery novel with The Beautiful Mystery and Daniel Friedman won for best first mystery novel with Don't Ever Get Old.

A complete list of winners is available at Janet Rudolph's blog.

Barry Award winners were also announced. Peter May won best novel for The Black House and Julia Keller took best first novel for A Killing In The Hills

The first Barry Award went to Ali Karim, in recognition of his strong support for the mystery community.

The number of news events are too frequent to list here, but J. Kingston Pierce, editor of The Rap Sheet will be posting updates all weekend. Also, Mark Coggins is posting photos from the conference on his facebook page, and he is an outstanding photographer as well as a fine writer, so be sure to check out his pics.

One curious report has already filtered in. A large shark fin was seen cutting through the waters of the Hudson River near Albany on Thursday evening. It's unusual to see sharks so far upriver, and startled boaters called the Coast Guard. Despite a massive sweep, nothing more was found. It should be noted, however, that Janet Reid is in attendance. We'll keep you posted if any swimmers (or writers) disappear.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

True Crime Tuesday For September 17. 2013

FBI Issues GET OUT OF JAIL FREE cards. Would you like one? Become an informant!

Last month Whitey Bulger was finally convicted of racketeering and murder charges after 16 years on the run. You would think after the atrocious handling of this informant by the FBI and Justice Department, there would be no more free rides for stool pigeons.

You'd be wrong.

The USA Today published a special report on statistics released by the bureau that shows over 5,000 crimes were approved by agents at the FBI. According to that report, "Agents authorized 15 crimes a day, on average, including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies."

A former agent at the bureau suggested that the total number of crimes be kept in context. After all, informants catch a lot of bad guys.

I suppose that will be of little comfort to the victims.

Disney Character Helps Solve Murder

Police in Hartford Connecticut got some badly needed assistance in solving a murder recently, according to Slate's crime blog. Scrooge McDuck helped put the handcuffs on a killer. The victim was wearing a gold medallion of the cartoon character, a relatively rare occurrence in Hartford.  When police checked local pawn shops, they found the medallion, along with the paperwork identifying the seller, who is now in jail awaiting trial.

According to the article, the criminal could have been smarter if he'd used fake ID:  “Huey,” “Dewey,” or “Louie” would’ve done nicely.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

For a Good Time, Pick Up Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives

Sarah Weinman has done us all a favor by rescuing from obscurity some of the finest suspense writers of the post World War II era. Some, like Shirley Jackson, I was already familiar with and need no such saving, but others, such as Nedra Tyre, are new discoveries.

And what discoveries they are. The stories present a wide range of female characters from every socio-economic class, with one thing in common...they're willing to cross the boundaries of acceptable behavior to get what they want. Even if that means murder. Welcome, to Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives.

These writers were working during a time when America was at the height of prosperity and , one assumes, domestic bliss on the home front. After all, the United States had won the war, banished the Axis powers, and was the economic engine driving a global recovery. But not all was Sugar and Spice, as Vera Caspary explains in her sad tale of family rivalry. The men in these stories often little suspect the tensions and deceit simmering below the surface, as we see in The Stranger in the Car. Many of the women in this collection are caregivers, whose financial burdens lead them to take desperate actions. These often result in a shocking end with a surprise twist, as in A Nice Place to Stay and Mortmain.

You'll never look at that nice nurse caring for an aged loved one quite the same way after reading these stories.

If this sampling of suspense leaves you hungry for more, check out Sarah's twitter feed for more top notch writers. It's time to bring these women out of the attic. Sarah Weinman has unlocked the door.

Take a peek. Go ahead...I dare you.