Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Fine Art of Murder: Excerpt from The Picasso Caper by S. Ashley Couts

The Picasso Caper is a short story by Speed City Chapter member Ashley Couts. It among twenty short murder mysteries and tales of suspense included in The Fine Art of Murder, now available online for pre-order at Amazon (click here). Barnes and Noble (click here), and Walmart (click here).   

Here are the opening paragraphs of The Picasso Caper.

The Picasso Caper   
by S. Ashley Couts

King's Cross Rail Station, London:

The American teens at the entry, wearing T-shirts and shorts, posed for selfies. In their youthful excitement, they totally missed the two criminals heading for the entrance.

Doggedly trudging toward the entrance were the honeymooners, Mavis and Alex Greenwalt. He pulled a battered, lime green suitcase tied 'round with a bungee cord. Her crossbody shoulder bag contained cosmetics, sundries, and her medical needs. Among other ailments, she was diabetic. Both ached from the trip, her com throbbing and his arthritic knee causing a bit of a limp, but they were dressed for travel in matching white windbreakers and thick rubbersoled shoes. Grandma and grandpa on vacation heading to catch the train out of King's Cross.

The suitcase wobbled as the wheel caught. Alex let out an exasperated sigh. It was heavy, but they'd soon remedy that. In fact, they would not take a train to Bath or Glastonbury nor would they watch the sunrise over Stonehenge. They were not at all what they seemed to be as they walked through the station and headed toward the public restrooms.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Black Mysteries: More than Easy Rawlings

By Crystal V. Rhodes

Ask most fans of mystery novels to name a black mystery writer and my bet would be that the first name mentioned would be Walter Mosley.  Ask fans to name two more black mystery writers and you might be met with dead silence.  Perhaps many of their names aren’t known, but black mystery writers and the stories they tell date back to the early 20th century.

Writer, Paula L. Woods, in an article written for The New Crisis magazine, (September/October2001 edition) noted that the earliest mystery fiction written by an mhtml:file://C:\Documents%20and%20Settings\Administrator\Desktop\History%20of%20Mystery\History%20of%20Black%20Mysteries.mht!http://www.woodsontheweb.com/images/TdotImg.gifAfrican American didn’t appear in book form, but in "colored" periodicals and newspapers.  As early as 1900, a journalists named Pauline Hopkins wrote the short stories, "The Mystery Within Us" and "Talma Gordon," which appeared in issues of the Colored American Magazine.  A writer named John E. Bruce had his mystery "The Black Sleuth" serialized in the 1907-1908 McGirt's Reader. 

It wasn’t until 1926 that the first mystery novel by a black author was published.  A Jamaican writer named W. Adolphe Roberts wrote a book titled The Haunting Hand.  However, none of the characters in Roberts’ book were black.  Because of this it took nearly three quarters of a century for The Haunting Hand to be recognized as the first published mystery novel written by a black writer.

According to Woods, it wasn’t unusual in the 1920s for black characters to be absent from the mystery genre, even from those books written by black authors.  It took twelve years before a published mystery novel, written by an African American author actually featured Black characters.  The year was 1932 and the book was The Conjure Man written by Rudolph Fisher, who was a physician and a personality of the Harlem Renaissance.  The Conjure Man featured Dr. John Archer, a physician sleuth, and his sidekick, Perry Dart, a NYPD detective.

In the 1940s a new voice joined the small list of black mystery writers in this country.  His name was Chester Himes, and his works laid the foundation for many of today’s contemporary black authors in a variety of genres.  Early in his writing career, Himes wrote crime stories that appeared mainly in African American periodicals, with a few having been published in Esquire magazine.  In 1945 his acclaimed fiction novel If He Hollers let Him Go was published and later it was made into a film, but it was his Harlem Detective novels, featuring New York Police Detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones for which he is best known.  Three of the books from that crime series were made into movies, Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), Come Back, Charleston Blue (1972) and A Rage in Harlem (1991). 

Disenchanted with America’s racism and discrimination, Himes moved to Europe in the 1950s where he lived and died, and it was there that he received recognition as a writer.  France bestowed on Himes the Grand Prix de Literature Policiere, one of that country’s most prestigious literary awards.

Many mystery and crime writers of note have followed in his footsteps.  Paula Woods cites not only Walter Mosley, but Gar Anthony Haywood, Gary Phillips, Eleanor Taylor Bland, Barbara Neeley, Chassie West, Penny Mickelbury, Patricia E. Canterbury, Evelyn Coleman, Karen Grigsby Bates and, one of my personal favorites, Valerie Wilson Wesley.  These are just a few of the array of African American mystery writers past and present.  Add to that the names of L. Barnett Evans and, yours truly, C.V. Rhodes, co-authors of the Grandmothers, Incorporated cozy mystery series, and readers will discover a variety of appealing characters and thrilling situations that will keep readers riveted.

So, the next time you’re looking for a good mystery novel, remember these names and look up a few others.  I doubt if you’ll be disappointed.


For more about the Grandmothers, Incorporated cozy mystery series written by C.V. Rhodes and L. Barnett Evans visit their website at www.grandmothersinc.com. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Media Attention: Fremont Library Appearance by Speed City SinC

Speed City Sisters in Crime took to the road September 17, making an appearance and book signing at the Fremont Public Library. The appearance resulted in a nice article on page 2 of the September 4 edition of the Angola Herald Republican.

Club President Cheryl Shore, Vice President Michael Dabney and member and contributing authors Norm Campbell and Claudia Pfeiffer were quoted in the article. The article has a lengthy discussion about Decades of Dirt, the Chapter's fourth anthology.

Here's a look at the story. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Speed City Sisters in Crime in New Orleans: Images from 2016 Bouchercon

Four members of the Speed City Sisters in Crime took Amtrak's City of New Orleans train to the Big Easy for the 2016 version of Bouchercon, the national conference for mystery and thriller writers and fans.  Here are some images capturing the trip to the City That Care Forgot.

Welcome to New Orleans and the French Quarter

Michael Connelly (left) interviewing Harlan Coben

Sisters in Crime Cheryl Shore, Ashley Couts and Diana Catt at Bayona Restaurant
Matthew Clemens (left ) leads Writing Sex panel

Diana Catt & Ashley Couts riding St. Charles Streetcar

Cheryl Shore on the St. Charles Streetcar

Diana Catt, Ashley Couts & Cheryl Shore under a full moon in the Garden District

Cheryl Shore, Ashley Couts, Stephen Terrell & Diana Catt at Upperline, an outstanding restaurant in New Orleans' Garden District

No trip to NOLA is complete without a trip to Cafe DuMonde

Ashley and Cheryl at Jackson Square

Sisters in Crime friend, best-selling author Hank Phillippi Ryan

Cheryl Shore and Diana Catt in the French Quarter

Obligatory stop at Pat O'Brien's

Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's. Doesn't get much better

Walking to dinner, came across a wedding parade. Only in New Orleans.

Cheryl Shore and Ashley Couts at Muriel's on Jackson Square.

St. Louis Cathedral and Gen. Andy Jackson -- Jackson Square.

Ashley Couts relaxes in the decadence of  Muriel's 2d floor -- a perfect setting for a murder.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bouchercon: 2016 Anthony Award Winners

Here are the winners of the Anthony Awards, named at last week's Bouchercon in New Orleans.

The Killing Kind - Chris Holm 

Past Crimes - Glen Erik Hamilton 

The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid

"The Little Men: A Bibliomystery" - Megan Abbott 

Need - Joelle Charbonneau  

Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015, Art Taylor, Editor

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Murder We Wrote: Tip a Hat to Murder by Elaine L. Orr

Here is the opening from Tip a Hat to Murder, a mystery in progress by Speed City Sisters in Crime member Elaine L. Orr.  She is the author of more than a dozen cozy mysteries plus a non-fiction book "Writing In Retirement: Putting New Year's Resolutions to Work"  To find out more about Elaine and her works, check out her author page. Just click here.

Here's the excerpt from Tip a Hat to Murder: 

  EARLY OCTOBER WAS USUALLY one of the quietest months in the Bully Pulpit Bar and Diner.
Students at Sweathog Agricultural College were six weeks into their semester, which meant scared they would fail at least one class. The Frisky Heifers had lost at least three football games. That shut up all the drunks. At least during the week.
  This was not a quiet October.
  “What do you mean no one can tip us?” Marti Kerkoff glared at her boss, one foot tapping on the black and white tiled floor. The right side of her mouth started to turn down. “I pay my chiropractor with that money.”
  Nick Hume stepped closer to manager Ben Addison, his five-foot-ten frame rigid. “That’s my beer money.” He looked at Marti. “What the hell do you need a chiropractor for? You sit on your butt half the time.”
  She stood up from the counter stool, faced Nick, and balled her fists. Marti was short, but no less fierce because of it. “I sit down sometimes because I work my ass off bringing water to other people’s customers.”
  Ben stepped between the two of them, which gained his nose some of Nick’s spittle. “The Weed and Feed stopped tips last week. This is how it’s gotta be.”
  Nick’s face reddened. “The potheads who eat there don’t care what they pay. You try to increase prices to,” he raised his fingers in air quotes, “pay us more so no one has to tip,” he stopped air quoting and pointed a finger at Ben’s still-damp nose, “and no one will eat here.”
  “Leave him be, Nick,” Marti said.
  When Nick stood back a few inches, Marti stepped between Nick and Ben. “Everyone knows you’ve been putting cracker meal in the hamburger.”
  Ben reddened. “Only if you told them!”
  “The gluten-free mafia said they have to use the can more.” Nick said.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Murder We Wrote: C.L. Shore's Titania's Suitor

Cheryl Shore writing as C. L. Shore is the author of two novels. Cheryl is a member and past president of Speed City Sisters in Crime.

About Titania’s Suitor: This is my first novel, although it was published after Seeker of Truth. The story develops against a background of phenomena encountered in today’s society including (1) misogyny encountered by women in the sciences (2) cyberstalking,  and (3) the coalitions formed by industry and higher education which can interfere with academic freedom. 

I grew up on mysteries, starting with Nancy Drew in grade school and progressing to Agatha Christie in high school. As a young adult, I read the majority of Andrew Greeley’s mysteries. Today, I enjoy psychological thrillers and historical novels.  My greatest challenge in writing Titania’s Suitor?  Building suspense when the entire novel consists of emails, mostly between two friends/confidantes.

Synopsis: Charlotte Stone never dreamed that her graduate student status would make her the target of a devious psychopath. But she is forced to admit her position of danger when vindictive messages appear in her email Inbox. The sender has obvious research expertise and the possible suspects include her estranged husband as well as several colleagues and acquaintances. Charlotte’s best friend, Veronica, has helped her through the crisis of her husband moving out, but she’s out of her league when it comes to this level of threat. Charlotte begins to feel danger could be lurking anywhere. Unsure of who is friend and who is foe, she realizes a broken marriage is not her biggest problem. Charlotte may be fighting for her life.

For a trailer to the novel, CLICK HERE

Excerpt from Titania's Suitor -- The novel opens with an exchange of emails. 


To: Hansen, V
Date: Wednesday, November 26
From: Stone, Charlotte P 
Subject: It’s finally here

Well, the deed is finally done. Pete moved out last night. And even though we both knew it was coming, it was very, very hard. Lauren cried and cried, before and after Pete left. I thought I would cry, too; but I couldn’t. I guess I’ve cried all the tears I’ve got. It will take a while for them to replenish themselves.
To top it all off, Lauren will go with Pete to his parents’ over Thanksgiving weekend. He’ll pick her up early tomorrow morning. It makes sense, since I’ll have her for every week during the school year and every other weekend. We’re determined to keep things amicable, for Lauren’s sake and for ours. It’s crazy, but we both feel like we still love each other. But this break-up seemed inevitable since I started back to school almost two years ago. We seemed to be arguing constantly once that change took place. Things kept going downhill. But somehow, I don’t think dropping out of grad school is right. For one thing, I have the government scholarship. If I quit now, I’d have to pay it back. Besides that, when I took that scholarship, I gave my word that I would try my best to complete this program and learn how to do research. I signed a contract of sorts. And I want to finish. Maybe I’ll put myself on the fast track and try to finish as quickly as possible.
Anyhow, fortunately (?) I do have an invitation to an “adults only” Thanksgiving with some of the other research assistants. They are almost all younger than me by at least seven years. But we know each other well, and there won’t be any kids around to make me miss Lauren. I’ll bring a salad, try to enjoy the company and/or watch football. Beats being alone on the holiday. I don’t have the money to fly home to Chicago, and I don’t want to drive by myself… too much time alone to think.
So here I am working on this set of data, trying to scan it for errors. I’m not in the best frame of mind to do that. I even did this intelligence test that popped up after checking my email. It turned out to be longer than I thought. After investing so much time in it, I wanted to know my score. I had to give my email address in order to get the results. And all it told me is that I did “very well.” I thought I at least deserved to know the items I got right!
Oh well, back to work. The office is almost deserted. Today is a holiday for students, but not staff. Still, very few people are here. You know how it is, everyone wants a jump-start on the holiday.
You are so lucky, you’ll have both of your kids and their kids around you on Thanksgiving! Be grateful!! By the way, thanks for the book on anger in relationships. It has been helpful already.
Have a good Turkey Day – Charlotte


To: Stone, Charlotte P
Date: Wednesday, November 26
From: Hansen, V
Subject: Re: It’s finally here

I am so proud of you. I’m not taking sides with the breakup – not at all. But I’m proud of you for getting through this event and keeping your head together. I know it is difficult, since I’ve been through it twice, with the same person. But, I didn’t love the guy at the times of the breakups and you do. It has got to be an awful experience.
I’m glad you have somewhere to go for the holiday. I would invite you over, but I will be at Allen’s with his kids. Allen is going to try this new turkey stuffing that he found in an Italian cookbook. He is quite the chef. I guess single fatherhood can force that role on you! Helen is playing the martyred ex-wife right now, but I’m sure she’ll snap out of it when she has the kids on Christmas. She is such a whiner!
Yes, the anger book really helped me out, too. I also started journaling when Stan and I broke up. I also saw a counselor, who really helped me get my life in perspective. You may want to consider it at some point.
You are being true to yourself in this situation. You will not regret it, even though it’s hard for you now. Trust me on this one! I’ll be home late Thursday night, and I only have to work a half-day on Friday (in the morning). So call me if you need me.

To order Titania's Suitor on Amazon, click here.
To order Seeker of Truth on Amazon, click here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

BOUCHERCON -- Anthony Award Nominees

More than 2000 mystery writers and fans will be in New Orleans September 15-18 for Bouchercon, the biggest event of its type in the country. The highlight of the event is the announcement of the Anthony Award winners, among the most prestigious awards to mystery writers.

If you're looking to add a great book to your reading list, check out these nominees.


Night Tremors - Matt Coyle 
The Killing Kind - Chris Holm 
The Child Garden - Catriona McPherson  
The Nature of the Beast - Louise Penny
What You See - Hank Phillippi Ryan 
(My favorite:  What You See by Indianapolis native Hank Phillippi Ryan)


Concrete Angel - Patricia Abbott
Past Crimes - Glen Erik Hamilton 
New Yorked - Rob Hart 
Bull Mountain - Brian Panowich
On the Road with Del & Louise - Art Taylor


The Long and Faraway Gone - Lou Berney 
Gun Street Girl - Adrian McKinty 
Little Pretty Things - Lori Rader-Day 
Young Americans - Josh Stallings 
Stone Cold Dead - James W. Ziskin 
(My favorite: Pretty Little Things by friend Lori Rader-Day)


The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story -..Martin Edwards
Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald - Suzanne Marrs & Tom Nolan, editors 
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime - Val McDermid 
The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett - Nathan Ward 
The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For - Kate White, editor


"The Little Men: A Bibliomystery" - Megan Abbott 
"The Siege" Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Dec 2015 - Hilary Davidson 
"Feliz Navidead" Thuglit Presents: Cruel Yule - Brace Godfrey/Johnny Shaw  
"Old Hands" Dark City Lights - Erin Mitchell 
"Quack and Dwight" Jewish Noir - Travis Richardson
"Don’t Fear the Ripper" Protectors 2: Heroes - Holly West 


Safe Inside the Violence - Christopher Irvin 
Protectors 2: Heroes-Stories to Benefit PROTECT - Thomas Pluck, editor 
Thuglit Presents: Cruel Yule: Holiday Tales of Crime for People on the Naughty List -Todd Robinson, editor 
Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015 - Art Taylor, editor
Jewish Noir: Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds - Kenneth Wishnia, editor


Need - Joelle Charbonneau 
How to Win at High School - Owen Matthews 
A Madness So Discreet - Mindy McGinnis 
The Sin Eater’s Daughter - Melinda Salisbury 
Fighting Chance - B.K. Stevens
Ask the Dark - Henry Turner


Dark Waters - Chris Goff - Assaf Cohen, narrator 
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins - Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey & India Fisher, narrators  
Causing Chaos - Deborah J. Ledford - Christina Cox, narrator
The Nature of the Beast - Louise Penny - Robert Bathurst, narrator 
Young Americans - Josh Stallings - Em Eldridge, narrator