Sunday, November 27, 2016

December 4 Barnes and Noble Book Fair: Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Readers On Your List -- Signed Copies of The Fine Art of Murder

Here's a great opportunity to pick up the perfect gift or stocking stuffer for the readers or mystery fans on your Christmas list.  

Members of the Speed City Sisters in Crime will be at Barnes and Noble on December 4 from noon until 6 p.m, signing copies of the group's latest short story collection -- The Fine Art of Murder.  Members will also provide gift wrapping service, not just for The Fine Art of Murder, but for anything purchased at Barnes and Noble. 

The Fine Art of Murder features 18 stories of murder and mystery, all centered around the fine arts. The book also includes 16 short articles on Indiana artists, art history and art events.

If you can't make it, The Fine Art of Murder is also available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Walmart.com.

You will also be able to pick up copies of Speed City's previous anthologies: Decades of Dirt, Hoosier Hoops and Hijinx, Bedlam at the Brickyard and Racing Can Be Murder.

Don't miss this chance to pick up the perfect gift for your mail carrier, your child's teacher, your pastor, your mom or Uncle Harry. Or anybody who likes a deviously crafted murder or just a good story.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Most Beautiful Bookstores in America

It seems that the death of independent bookstores has been greatly exaggerated -- at least in some quarter.  Online cultural outlet BuzzFeed.com recently published an article on 19 Beautiful Bookstores across America.  To see the full article, including photos, CLICK HERE.

 I already have it on my to do list to visit several on my travels.

If you have your own favorite bookstore, let us know. Just make a comment to this post.  

Here is the list.

1. Bart’s Books, Ojai, California

2. Faulkner House Books, New Orleans

3. The Writer’s Block, Las Vegas

4. Idlewild Books, New York City

5. The Montague Book Mill, Montague, Massachusetts

6. Baldwin Book Barn, West Chester, Pennsylvania

7. Brattle Book Shop, Boston

8. City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

9. BookBar, Denver

10. Dickson Street Bookshop, Fayetteville, Arkansas

11. Oxford Exchange, Tampa, Florida

12. Armadillo’s Pillow, Chicago

13. Book Loft of German Village, Columbus, Ohio

14. Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, Asheville, North Carolina

15. Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vermont

16. Powell’s City of Books, Portland, Oregon

17. Taylor Books, Charleston, West Virginia

18. The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle

19. Housing Works Bookstore Café, New York City

Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: Drinking Gourd

Drinking Gourd by Barbara Hambly
Reviewed by Chrystal V. Rhodes

“Here, without a protector, he was nothing.  Worse than nothing, he was worth at least a thousand dollars to anyone who could convince a buyer that he was property--and most buyers these days didn’t take much convincing.”
It’s 1839 in the state of Mississippi, and these are the thoughts of a free man of color named Benjamin January, the protagonist in the historical mystery novel, Drinking Gourd by Barbara Hambly.  This is the ninth book in her series featuring January, but this my first time reading Ms. Hambly’s work
In Drinking Gourd, January--a musician and a trained medical doctor-- is traveling the south working with the All-American Zoological Society’s Traveling Circus and Exhibition of Philosophical Curiosities.  Economic necessity has forced him to take a job with the traveling circus, in order to support his pregnant wife and his child back in New Orleans.  There’s not a lot of work for a black physician during these perilous times, so he’s glad to have a job.  However, January finds that his medical expertise is sorely needed when he is summoned by members of the Underground Railroad in Vicksburg, Mississippi to help one of their wounded “conductors”.  When another “conductor” in the clandestine group of abolitionists is murdered, and an associate of January’s is blamed for the deed, he finds himself racing against time to find the real killer before the names of everyone involved in the Underground movement are revealed, including his own identity.
It is a perilous undertaking for a black man in Mississippi.  To avoid suspicion and in order to stay alive, January, the learned physician who speaks French and Latin, has to pretend that he is an uneducated slave.  In his investigation, if he does uncover evidence that could exonerate the “conductor” as an innocent man, January can’t testify in court.  The law in Mississippi forbids a black man from testifying in court.  Despite these challenges, Hambly manages to weave an intricate tale of intrigue,   introducing an array of colorful as well as unsavory characters.  In fact, there are so many that at times I got lost as to who was who.  Yet, in Drinking Gourd Hambly has created a unique protagonist in Benjamin January, conveying the legitimate fears and precarious position of a free black man in the Deep South during slavery.   
C.V. Rhodes is a member of the Speed City Sisters in Crime chapter and co-author, with L. Barnett Evans, of the Grandmothers, Incorporated cozy mystery series.  Visit their website at www.grandmothersinc.com

Monday, November 14, 2016

Magna Cum Murder: Flash Fiction Contest Honorable Mention by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Speed City Sisters in Crime again sponsored the Flash Fiction Contest at this year's Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis, one of the nation's best mystery conferences. Here is the second Honorable Mention Flash Fiction Contest winner. 

A Question of Aesthetics
By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Spofforth eyed the artist at his multi-hued canvas, a coffee cup in one hand, a paint brush in the other.
“I understand the how, Jacobson,” Spofforth said. “I’ll give you this – it was clever.”
Jacobson nodded, acknowledging the compliment. “If you’ll forgive the pun, I knew it would take someone with your palette of experience to catch me.”
Spofforth nodded in return. Only as he climbed the stairs to the studio a few minutes earlier, alone, had he allowed himself a self-congratulatory moment. Three detectives had failed to solve the mystery of the young woman’s stabbing death before they’d called him in from retirement.
“But why?” Spofforth said. “I’ll, well confess you have me there.”
“And if I tell you?” Jacobson said.
“It changes nothing. Motive, as you know, is not required for conviction. Did she spur you advances?”
“Owe you money? Or vice versa?”
“A secret, then. Something she threatened to expose?”
“Perhaps in her imagination. Time is short. May I explain?”
I’d welcome it.”
“The solution is in the painting, and the nuances it requires, “ Spofforth said.
“I value a particular shade of red that’s hard to come by,” Jacobson said, reversing the brush to reveal a gleaming blade at the tip. He leaped forward and plunged it into Spofforth’s chest before the retired detective could move.

“Simple aesthetics,” Jacobson said, using the coffee cup to collect the gushing blood. “She – and you- helped color my imagination.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November 12 - A Busy Day for Sisters in Crime

Saturday November 12 will be a busy day for Speed City Sisters in Crime.  First, several members will be at the Allen County Public Library Author’s Fair for an author signing.

That evening, the Facing Project will present Facing Racism at the Muncie Civic Theater. Among the participants is Speed City member Barbara Miller who wrote an article for the Facing Racism book that will be available at the performance.

The Allen County Author’s Fair will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Main Library, 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, IN 46802. (Click HERE for more details). Speed City authors Diana Catt, Norm Campbell, and Michael Dabney are scheduled to appear. The Fine Art of Murder, Speed City’s most recent collection of short stories of murder and mystery, will be available, as will the groups four prior anthologies.

Chrystal Rhodes and Lilly Evans, Speed City members, will also be present signing copies of their Grandmother’s Inc. cozy mystery series.

The Facing Project pairs local writers with persons involved in community issues. The author’s write in first person, giving voice to personal accounts on all sides of important community issues. The end work is compiled in a book, and presented to the community in a performance. Speed City member Barbara Miller is one of the author’s included in the Facing Racism project in Muncie.

Facing Racism will be presented at the Muncie Civic Theater at 7 p.m. November 12. Tickets are required, but are free as long as they last. Tickets can be obtained through the following link:


Monday, November 7, 2016

Magna Cum Murder: Flash Fiction Contest Honorable Mention by Donna Moore

Speed City Sisters in Crime again sponsored the Flash Fiction Contest at the recent Magna Cum Murder, one of the nation's best mystery conferences. The winner was published on this blog earlier. Here is the runner up, an untitled work by Donna Moore.

Flash Fiction Honorable Mention
Untitled Work by Donna Moore

Being a PI in 3000 BC really sucked. Of course, we didn’t call it 3000 BC – we called it The Year the Woolly Mammoth Ate My Brother. Things were slow at Stone Investigations. The PI game in prehistoric Britain was as slow as a Diplodocus with a limp and I was just about to call it a day when the door opened and in sashayed the local beauty, her buttocks looking like a pair of baby brontosauri fighting in a sack.

“Mr. Stone,” she purred. “I need your help. It’s my boyfriend, James.”

I snorted. I knew who she meant, of course. What self-respecting cavewoman calls her son James? Whistler’s Mother, that’s who.

“What’s he done now?” James Whistler was always getting himself into trouble with the local cops, graffit-ing the walls of the local caves, daubing nonsense images of dinosaurs everywhere.

“He’s dead, Mr. Stone. Someone’s murdered him.”

So, ten minutes later, there I was, looking down at the dead body of James, a sharpened paintbrush thrust into his chest. On the wall of the cave was a half-finished portrait of the weeping woman standing next to me. Only, in the portrait, she had this mysterious half smile on her face. I nodded towards the painting. “You got another admirer, doll?” She sniffed and nodded. “da Vinci?”

She put a hand to her mouth. “You don’t think Leo would do this, surely, Mr. Stone. “I’m only his model, not his girlfriend.”

“Mon, Mon, Mona: them artists are always the worst.”

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Fine Art of Murder: Excerpt from "Expose Yourself to Art" by Stephen Terrell

"Expose Yourself to Art" is a short story by Speed City Chapter member Stephen Terrell. Inspired by classic mystery writer Dorothy Salyers observations in Talking Detective Fiction, the story begins with a body -- that of none-too-likeable art dealer and critic Tobias Salyers. Was it the jilted wife? The competitor threatened with the loss of his business? The snubbed artist? The cheated society wannabe with mob connections? The maligned art restorer? They are all gathered for one day at Indiana's premiere art event,the Penrod Art Fair. It's up to State Police Detective Art Vandever to answer the age-old question of all mysteries: "Who done it?"

Expose Yourself to Art is among twenty short murder mysteries and tales of suspense included in The Fine Art of Murder, now available online at Amazon (click here)Barnes and Noble (click here), and Walmart (click here).  

Here is a brief excerpt from Expose Yourself to Art.

I left the scene to Cheryl and her team of crime scene techs and walked back to the road. A deputy directed me to the couple that found the body. They were oddly excited, almost giddy. I interviewed them, going through each of their actions in meticulous detail. It only took twenty minutes. When I folded my notebook closed, they seemed deflated.

"Is that all?" the young woman asked.

"If we need anything more, we'll get in touch."

"That's it?" she said again. "Aren't the television people going to show up to interview 

I scanned the roadway in both directions. Nothing moved. It was silent except for sounds from unseen birds and insects. I shrugged. "Guess not." 

I walked to my car, leaving them standing in the road with their mouths open, visions of stardom vanishing with the suddenness of a crumpled Powerball ticket. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Magna Cum Murder: Flash Fiction Prize Winner

Again this year, Speed City Sisters in Crime sponsored the Flash Fiction contest at Magna Cum Murder, the annual mystery writers and fans gathering in Indianapolis.  

This year's winner was Molly MacRae, the author of a number of cozy mysteries.  Here is her winning entry.

Hammered by Hamilton
Molly MacRae
Yo, I heard Miranda’s music,
Lin-Manuel’s astounding music
I went out and bought the full CD

Hamilton streaming through my earbuds,
Ringing in my waking moments,
Rapping, leaping Hamilton energy

I needed, oh yeah I needed tickets, tickets, tickets to that show.

But the prices,
Astronomical prices!
I knew I’d never, never get to go.

Yo, I heard about a contest,
Winning tickets from an essay
Could I write and win them? Wait and see.

I’m no writer,
But I am a plotter,
So I knew that I could find, could find a way.

I put an ad on Craigslist,
Plotted out my way on Craigslist
Found a writer who would ghost for me.

We made our Hamilton bargain
Shook hands on our Hamilton bargain,
Shook until I had to pull my shaking, shaking, burning hand away.

But he delivered,
Boy oh boy did he deliver
His essay? Pure art, pure devilish Hamilton gold.

We won the Hamilton contest
We won the Hamilton tickets
One sweet ticket his and one was mine.

We flew up to New York City
We flew high in Hamilton’s rapping
Thought I’d died and gone to heaven in those songs.

Then the catch came
(You saw this coming)
I should have seen this coming, coming all along.

My writing partner
Hot writing partner
Took my hand and held it just too long.

This isn’t heaven
Not Hamilton heaven
Turns out I murdered my soul for Miranda’s song.