Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017 Anthony Nominees Announced

If you're looking for a great book, you could do worse than pick something off the 2017 Anthony Nominees.  Named for famed critic and writer Anthony Boucher, the winners will be announced at the 2017 Bouchercon, a gathering of mystery writers and fans.  This year's event is October 12-15 in Toronto. Registration is open to the public.


Best Novel
  • You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott [Little, Brown]
  • Where It Hurts – Reed Farrel Coleman [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]
  • Red Right Hand – Chris Holm [Mulholland]
  • Wilde Lake – Laura Lippman [William Morrow]
  • A Great Reckoning – Louise Penny [Minotaur]
Best First Novel
  • Dodgers – Bill Beverly [Crown]
  • IQ – Joe Ide [Mulholland]
  • Decanting a Murder – Nadine Nettmann [Midnight Ink]
  • Design for Dying – Renee Patrick [Forge]
  • The Drifter – Nicholas Petrie [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]
 Best Paperback Original
  • Shot in Detroit – Patricia Abbott [Polis]
  • Leadfoot – Eric Beetner [280 Steps]
  • Salem’s Cipher – Jess Lourey [Midnight Ink]
  • Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty [Seventh Street]
  • How to Kill Friends and Implicate People – Jay Stringer [Thomas & Mercer]
  • Heart of Stone – James W. Ziskin [Seventh Street] 
Best Short Story
  • “Oxford Girl” – Megan Abbott, Mississippi Noir [Akashic]
  • “Autumn at the Automat” – Lawrence Block, In Sunlight or in Shadow [Pegasus]
  • “Gary’s Got A Boner” – Johnny Shaw, Waiting to Be Forgotten [Gutter]
  • “Parallel Play” – Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning [Wildside]
  • “Queen of the Dogs” – Holly West, 44 Caliber Funk: Tales of Crime, Soul and Payback [Moonstone] 
Best Critical Nonfiction Work
  • Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life – Peter Ackroyd [Nan A. Talese]
  • Letters from a Serial Killer – Kristi Belcamino & Stephanie Kahalekulu [CreateSpace]
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life – Ruth Franklin [Liveright]
  • Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker – David J. Skal [Liveright]
  • The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer – Kate Summerscale [Bloomsbury/Penguin] 
Best Children’s/YA Novel
  • Snowed – Maria Alexander [Raw Dog Screaming]
  • The Girl I Used to Be – April Henry [Henry Holt]
  • Tag, You’re Dead – J.C. Lane [Poisoned Pen]
  • My Sister Rosa – Justine Larbalestier [Soho Teen]
  • The Fixes – Owen Matthews [HarperTeen] 
Best Anthology
  • Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns – Eric Beetner, ed. [Down & Out]
  • In Sunlight or in Shadow – Lawrence Block, ed. [Pegasus]
  • Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens – Jen Conley [Down & Out]
  • Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 – Greg Herren, ed. [Down & Out]
  • Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by the Replacements – Jay Stringer, ed. [Gutter] 
Best Novella (8,000-40,000 words)
  • Cleaning Up Finn – Sarah M. Chen [CreateSpace]
  • No Happy Endings – Angel Luis Col√≥n [Down & Out]
  • Crosswise – S.W. Lauden [Down & Out]
  • Beware the Shill – John Shepphird [Down & Out]
  • The Last Blue Glass – B.K. Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2016 [Dell]

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Meet Your Favorite Speed City Chapter Authors at the Tipton Library's Authorama May 13

Several Speed City Sisters in Crime will be at the Tipton Public Library's Authorama this Saturday, May 13.  The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Tipton Public Library, 127 E Madison St in Tipton.

An author panel beginning at 1:30 p.m.

This is a great opportunity to meet authors, discuss their writing, and pick up a signed copy of The Fine Art of Murder or the chapter's other short story mystery anthologies.  

Several Chapter members will also be present with their own books.

For those unfamiliar, Tipton is located about an hour north of Indianapolis on Ind. 28, just south of Kokomo. It is the county seat of Tipton County.

Book Review: Perfidia by James Ellroy

Book Review:  Perfidia by James Ellroy
Reviewed by Stephen Terrell

Recently on this blog, author and playwright Crystal Rhoades reviewed Face of the Enemy by Jo Anne Dobson and Beverly Graves Myers. The novel was set in New York City in the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Perfidia by James Ellroy is set in Los Angeles during the same time frame.  But that is where the similarities end. It is as from Face of the Enemy in style and tone as New York is from L.A. -- maybe further.
Ellroy is most known for the L.A. Quartet, a series of novels of violence and corruption set in post-WW II Los Angeles. Those novels – “The Black Dahlia,” “The Big Nowhere,” “L.A. Confidential” and “White Jazz” -- became the basis for the movie blockbuster L.A. Confidential, one of the best police movies ever made.  In Perfidia, we meet many of the characters that populate the L.A. Quartet novels.
Ellroy’s style is unique. He writes in staccato sentences, with many phrases repeated throughout the story to capture the inner thoughts and demons of the characters – and these characters have demons a-plenty.  Those offended by vulgarity, profanity and racial epithets should probably steer clear. Even considering the time frame that Ellroy captures, the wave of references to Chinks, Japs, Wetbacks, and a variety of vile names for blacks,  homosexuals and Jews liberally pepper each page.
The novel opens the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor when corrupt Detective Dudley Smith and Japanese crime technologist Hideo Ashida, the only  Japanese employee of the LAPD, investigate what appears to be the ritual suicide of the four members of the Watanabe family. But Ashida finds evidence that the family was murdered.
The next day, Pearl Harbor is attacked and Los Angeles devolves into a fearsome place for the Japanese community (including Ashida). Japanese citizens are brutally rounded up and jailed by the L.A. Police.  But for some, it is a time of opportunity.
As with the other Ellroy novels, the reader is dragged into a world of violence, corruption, theft, beatings, shootings, greed, drugs and sex. The Watanabe murders lead to uncovering plots to exploit the war and coming Japanese internment for enormous financial gain, “fifth column” subversives and nazis, planted evidence and coerced confessions.
Ellroy also mixes in real life characters to give the novel a sense of authenticity. And he doesn’t treat them with kid gloves. Bette Davis is portrayed as a self-centered hard-edged, promiscuous woman who sleeps with Dudley Smith, among others. Jack Webb of Dragnet fame is portrayed as a cop-wannabe hanging around like a puppy waiting to be thrown a bone. Carey Grant and Barbara Stanwyck are dismissed as "homos." Real-life iconic L.A. Police Chief William Parker is portrayed as a drunk and religious zealot.
This novel isn’t for the faint of heart. For my taste, the constant dark view of a world without any redeeming grace wears on me. The last third of the book seems to drag, and the more I read, the more I felt I needed to wash my hands every time I put it down.

Nonetheless, Perfidia offers a raw glimpse as a very different time in America, a time that I hope we never relive. Maybe we need to read it to be reminded of the evil that lurks when we lose our moral compass.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


The 2017 Agatha Mystery Awards were recently named.  If you're looking for something to add to your reading list, here are the winners.

Best Contemporary Novel
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Best Historical Novel
The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)

Best First Novel
The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn (Henery Press)

Best Nonfiction
Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats by Jane K. Cleland (Writer's Digest Books)

Best Short Story
"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press)

Best Children/Young Adult
The Secret of the Puzzle Box: The Code Busters Club by Penny Warner (Darby Creek)