Jun 28, 2007

More on Owensboro : The New Mystery Festival

I had a great time there and definitly plan to go back next year.

I love the River Park Center. It's a great venue.

Judy Bobolik was with us as "Freelance photographer from Northern Indiana",
which meant she took photos for us, and she also drove the short bus carrying the Crimespree senior staffers. She is a real trooper and we would be lost without her. Here's Judy with William Link, crator of Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Mannix and Banachek among other great shows.

Great food in Owensboro, we had BBQ for breakfast on Friday.

Meeting Robert S Levinson was a real highlight for me. Not only a gifted writer,but also one of the coolest people to talk to I've ever encountered. It was really nice to be able to go all fan boy talking about television and music with someone who has as much enthusiasim about it as me.
(note to self, introduce Jeremy and Bob and then stand back)

Seeing the radio plays was really fun, and metting Harry Anderson was a true Bonus. He is a very nice man and my respect for him went up even more.

Also met Gary Shandy from WKRP in Cinn. Didn't get to spend much time with him as he was always on the move. He was in the play by Ed McBain.

The Columbo play by William Link was great.

Among the authors present were superstars Stuart Kaminsky, Sue Grafton and James W Hall. Sue and James above

Hats off to Zev Buffman and everyone involved with this festival. It was truly wonderful.

And thank you Owensboro!!

Jun 21, 2007

Summer Reading

The shelves are filled with new books for summer reading.
Here are some of the new titles out now:

Gary Disher has a new book called CHAIN OF EVIDENCE
and also a trade version of SNAPSHOT both from SOHO Crime.
Both feature Inspector Hal Challis and are set in Australia.
CHAIN OF EVIDENCE has two cases working, on involving
Challis's return home to see his dying father and the finding
of his missing brother in law's body.
Meanwhile Sergeant Destry is workin on a pedophile case.
SNAPSHOT involves murder and wife swapping and Challis
is being hindered by his boss who is related to one of the victims.
Disher is a wonderful author and both these books should please
mystery fans.

UP IN HONEY'S ROOM (William Morrow)from Elmore Leonard is just the ticket
for relaxed warm weather reading. Continuing the adventures
of Carl Webster from the book THE HOT KID, this is another
non stop action book set in Oklahoma, this time involving Nazi
POW's. This is Leonard's 41st novel. Perfect summer reading!

The adventures of Jason Bourne contine in Robert Ludlam's
series now being written by Eric Van Lustbander. The latest
is called THE BOURNE BETRAYAL (Warner Books)Ludlam's
original trilogy featuring Bourne were great fun and true thrillers.
Van Lustbander is the right choice for continuing the series and
he really gets the character. Great Thriller!

Antoher ass kicking thriller in Martin Cruz Smith's latest in the
Arkady Renko series STALIN'S GHOST (Simon and Schuster).
This is one of the best series to be set in Russia ( along with
the books by Stuart Kaminsky) and Smith has an uncanny knack
for making the reader feel like they are there. First introduced
in GORKY PARK, Renko is a true stereo typical Russian,
melacholy, hard working and dis-enchanted. In this outing
Stalin's ghost is being seen and maybe making a comeback.
Steeped in history this is a wonderful book. Do not miss this.

HOOKED by Matt Richtel (Twleve, an imprint of Grand Central
Publishing)is a debut novel that is highly suspenseful and a
thriller of the first magnitude. Revolving around the hight tech
world we live in the book opens with the visit of a dead girl
friend saving Nat Idle from an explosion. From there it picks
up the pace. Touching on our addiction to all things tech, this
book will freak you out.

A new series from the wonderful Rhys Bowen, HER ROYAL
SPYNESS (Berkley) features Lady Victoria Georgina Charlotte
Eugenie. A wonderful traditional mystery set in the 1930's London
this book is a pure joy to read. Bowen has created yet another
wonderful series.

Already reviewed in Crimespree I wanted to mention again Con
Lehane's new book DEATH AT THE OLD HOTEL (St. Martin's
Minator). I love Con Lehane's writing and this is such a great series.
I feel it is over looked, and I urge you not to miss it. Our favorite
bartender Brian McNulty is once again caught up in a murder
investigation while trying to help his buddies.
This series is alot of fun to read and COn Lehane is one of my

Stella Rimington's second work of fiction is SECRET ASSEST
(Knopf). A real life spook herself this book scream reality.
Fast paced and not stop pacing make this another great
summer read. A mole with in MI-5 is interferring with
investigations into a terroist threat. The clock is ticking as the
mole needs to be found before the real threat can be stopped.

Idaho, assasins, and ticking clock make KILLER WEEKEND(Putnam)
from Ridley Pearson one not to be missed.Possibly his best thriller to
date this book moves as fast as a professional water skier on perfect
water. Politics and agencies not being able to cooperate add to the
perfect mix fo an exciting read.

And last but defintily not least another Tucker Sinclair adventure from
Patricia Smiley, SHORT CHANGE ( NAL) is the latest in her on
going series. Humourous, smart and wonderfully witty this is a
great read. Tucker has quit working for the corporate world
and that may prove to be a mistake. She's helping a PI and
the case they end up working on could be her first and last.
Great fun!

Jun 17, 2007


I'm sitting at home, new Denise Mina at my side (fab so far), Guinness close at hand, and a whirlwind of memories in my head. I thought I'd share a bit of the past week with everyone.

A kind of Magical Mystery tour if you will. For last night Jon and I arrived home after a week I'd only have been able to imagine a decade ago. 10 years past there was no Jon in my life, no Crimespree, I didn't know how to pronounce Anthony Boucher's last name, I hadn't met anyone in the mystery community except via the internet. My love for mystery was a result of only the works of mystery I read in pages or saw on the screen.How life has evolved.

So vacation started last Tuesday at noon.

First stop: MysteryOne where we went to support Barry Eisler as he wound down the tour for REQUIEM FOR AN ASSASSIN. A standing room only signing where the fanbase encompassed every demographic (5 to 70+). It was great to see Barry and even better to hear, first hand, from a reader's base, how well the book was being received.

And this was but the beginning. After our book event Jon and I began our trek to Owensboro, KY. First stop Munster where we picked up the extraordinary Judy B. And then
on to the show, the first ever International Mystery Writers' Festival.


And so it is. At least when you have Zev Buffman in charge of a ensemble of the best in the theatre business. For the magic began as we entered RiverPark Center and hasn't ended yet.
Far from what we all conjure up when the words "mystery convention" are uttered, Owensboro was a mystery CELEBRATION. With plays to be watched and presentations to be viewed Owensboro offered up a unique and fantastic mystery experience. Audiences sat in darkened theaters watching professional productions of not one , not two, but a total of six plays never seen before and all executed with aplomb.

We sat in silence as screenplays were performed by a group of thespians in radio format that was joyfully executed.

And you emerged from each unfolding event entirely energized. Buzzing with commentary. Congregating throughout the day in the RiverCenter Lobby everyone was recommending everything as "must see' to everyone else. "Must see" it was.Experiencing mystery in this new format was as energizing as a new battery. There was no decronstruction of the genre, no who's going to what house ,or what x is doing wrong. There was simply the joy of having seen what you just saw. And sharing that experience with a larger and larger group of people every four hours. And having seen more yourself in the last four hours to share with others.

The people of Owensboro offered up the hospitality for which the south is famous and on Friday night they all came to mingle with the convention goers in a genesis of Theater and Music. Jon and I met heroes and icons. We saw and talked to best selling, midlist and first time authors. My husband hugged the creator of Mannix and I talked ghosts with the director of TWO (Theater Workshop of Owensboro). We had b-b-q for breakfast one morning because the nights were too full. We had a wonderful time with Bob and Sandra Levinson, time we could have never carved out at Bouchercon. I taste tested bourbons for an upcoming visit with Greg Hurwitz. We spent moments with many and held the door open for Jim Hall as he carried a nesco full of baked beans. It was a magical mystery tour.

Informal, well planned, wonderfully executed. An event that can only grow but will forever have the sweet flavor of southern tea.

The Mastercard Ad.
Two tickets for a play $ 30.00 (packages available)
Five nights in a hotel $240.00 (breakfast included)
A round at the bar (embarrassingly low)
experiencing Zev Buffman's vision priceless!!

Ruth Jordan

Jun 9, 2007

A GRAVE Situation

I got a phone call this week from my favorite mystery critic. That would be my Dad.
"You were right, it's a great book!" There really were exclamation marks in his voice. More than one, but I'm showing a little restraint here. After all, I had to ask, "Which book?"

My Dad is a professor by day and he'd saved a particular favorite of mine for after the grade sheets were turned in and before Summer truly began. A summer kickoff if you will.

And then today I clicked on Salon, and there was my precious book, a summer pick.
THE GRAVE TATTOO by Val McDermid is an ambitious and brilliantly executed 'mysteries' book. I was not and am not alone in my assessment of this read. A year ago every mystery periodical in the States dropped an issue with McDermid either on the cover or featured within its pages. We'd heard the call of both the book itself and the energy with which it was received by her publishing house. I adore George Easter but for both Deadly Pleasures and Crimespree to feature cover interviews of the same writer proves conclusively that there's something truly special in the work.

A curious thing happened between the writing,editing and printing of our various magazines and the initially scheduled drop date for the American edition of THE GRAVE TATTOO. St. Martin's moved it back. Seven months back, From June of 2006 to February of 2007. You've got buzz, you have the most extensive genre coverage ever and you send out a giant raspberry to the mystery community.

All of which would have been fine with me, the McDermid Savant I am, if when the book dropped in the U.S. in February they'd have marketed TATTOO to the general fiction community. Tattoo is a book crafted by a genre master. The plot is executed to be 'historical', 'cozy', 'thriller', 'urban crime' and two traditional who-dunnits. McDermid, with THE GRAVE TATTOO, has written that rarest form of contemporary literature, the "airport book" that will not disappoint the person who normally picks up a biography for their long flight. A book guaranteed to be reminiscent of that one "genre" book they remember reading time and again before they became 'effete'. BECAUSE, FOLKS, EVERYTHING IS IN THIS BOOK.

People have guaranteed me that Andy Martin understands what is wrong with St. Martin's. That he intends to fix past transgressions and clean up this imprint. Crimespree relies on the good will of the mystery market and St. Martin's is in many respects, "the mystery market, U.S." They publish more of our favorite authors than anyone else. They believe in this genre. But from A to B they seem to get it wrong.

February came and went, THE GRAVE TATTOO hit American soil already having won "literary" awards. McDermid came to the States to promote and a funny thing happened. After long scheduled dates at mystery indies St. Martins changed up the tour, again with no warning. Scheduled dates were canceled less than 2 months out. In one case a bookstore learned just 2 days before their publicized event that it was being shifted from a reading 'meet and greet' to a drive by. Bad form, St. M's.

So what are the folk at St. Martin's thinking? If THE GRAVE TATTOO is indeed Mcdermid's 'break-out' American book (P.W.), why did the company that has lovingly published her for the past decade shoot itself in the foot not once but twice while at the same time giving TATTOO one of their largest initial print runs ever (100,000 is the Amazon count)?

I believe that St. Martins sees quality, but traveling on a wing and a prayer does not fly in today's publicity blitz oriented world. I also know that for the maximum people who'd enjoy this book and recognize its brilliance to be exposed to the title, St. Martin's must indeed move beyond the 'usual genre outlets'. But with TATTOO they failed , cutting off the hand that feeds and failing to regenerate on a bigger scale. They have the technology. McDermid has the capability. Why then is the book still one of this years best kept secrets?

I am frustrated. I am chagrined. But it all comes back to the phone call.

"It's a great book." And so it is.
Do yourself a favor, put it on your Summer Reading list. The truest coarse in published fiction is the individual interaction with a writer's prose. THE GRAVE TATTOO is an adventure every reader can enjoy, written by someone who enjoys words and their craft as much as you do. Add Wordsworth, Fletcher Christen, an inner city youth and cut throat academia and you won't go wrong despite the actions of the author's publisher.

Jun 8, 2007

That Thing You Do - New Version on DVD

That Thing You Do, originally released in 1996 is a fun movie directed by Tom Hanks. While it is obviously based loosely on the early days of The Beatles and their rise to fame there are differences, the most obvious being the US setting. Featuring Liv Tyler doing what she did best in her earlier acting days (looking cute), Steve Zahn ( who is great), along with Tom Everatt Scott and Johnathan Schaech and Ethan Embry and Tom Hanks himself as the magic manager who will shoot them to fame.

Small local band hooks up with business savoy manager and shoots to stardom. It’s a fairy tale, a rock and roll fairy tale. This is a lot of fun to see again, and the new version adds a lot to the movie. 30 minutes of deleted scenes, featurettes and a music video.

That Thing You do is just as fun as it was when it was first released.