Friday, April 29, 2011

Edgar Winners!

MWA LogoHoriz 2

Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce the winners of the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010. The Edgar® Awards were presented to the winners at our 65th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

Edgar Statue 4


The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur Books)


Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)


Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)


Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity
by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press – Bison Original)


Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his
Rendezvouz with American History
by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton)


"The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)


The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)


Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)


The Psychic by Sam Bobrick (Falcon Theatre – Burbank, CA)


“Episode 1” - Luther, Teleplay by Neil Cross (BBC America)


"Skyler Hobbs and the Rabbit Man" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
by Evan Lewis (Dell Magazines)


Sara Paretsky


Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, Forest Park, Illinois
Once Upon A Crime Bookstore, Minneapolis, Minnesota

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 27, 2011)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


TONIGHT at The Poisoned Pen

Brent Ghelfi signs BURNING LAKE

Another prominent journalist is found murdered in Putin’s Russia, shot to death on the banks of the Techa River near the radioactive village of Metlino. Katarina Mironova, known around the world as Kato, could simply fade from the public eye, one more journalist killed during Putin’s war on the free press, one more statistic in a grim tally. But to Russian agent Alexei Volkovoy, Kato’s murder evokes far more emotion. It summons too many memories, haunts him in too many ways for him to allow her death go unavenged.

Volk's investigation takes him from Moscow to Mayak, the site of a nuclear reprocessing plant where a massive explosion occurred in 1958, then to Las Vegas. All the while the life he has known with his long-time lover, Valya, and his patron, the General, slowly unravels as details about his secret ties to Kato begin to emerge. Meanwhile, American contract agent Grayson Stone and shadowy French assassin Jean-Louis have secrets of their own to protect. Secrets born in the Afghan desert and the streets of Fallujah. Secrets about the tragic consequences of a nuclear alliance among venal Russian, American, and French politicians. Secrets the American and the French governments will pay anything to protect.

In the end, Volk becomes both the hunter and the hunted in the glittering neon jungle of Las Vegas. Equally at home in the snow-covered woods of the Ural mountains and the seamy alleyways of Industrial Boulevard, Volk tracks his prey across the world trying to learn the truth about the story Kato died trying to report.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nice little video on The Edgars

Tuesday, April 26, 2011



       Through the crucible of "crime Fiction", in all its permutations, one is now capable of traversing all manner of once discrete literary tropes.  The new crime writing fraternity encompasses travel writing, social critique, urban and rural explication, and a semi-demented pride of place.
        Into this milieu comes  Brent Ghelfi expanding the traditional crime-thriller boundaries in both exciting and profound ways.  His fourth novel, "The Burning Lake", like the previous three in the "Volk" series, rushes forward like an out of control locomotive.  This literary train speeds down a track of thrills with stops at nuclear disaster, multi-national espionage, Russian-style censorship, and American complicity in the ongoing horrors of modern life.  Inside all of this is a love story involving the central character, Alexei Volkovoy, and the two woman in his life.

          Volkovoy is a morally compromised, and often brutal pawn in a world he never made.  His struggle to stay true to his lover, Valya(an heroic and damaged soul in her own right) is both nerve-wracking and heart-wrenching.  Hovering above them all is "The General", a gray shadow puppet-master with a hand in every racket Russia has to offer.  He is both Volk's protector and exploiter.

          Ghelfi once again brings all these characters to vivid realization. These complex and vital people pulse with a life force that leaps from the page.  In "The Burning Lake", Ghelfi adds a new and unforgettable force of evil in the person of American agent Grayson Stone.  This walking nightmare makes Dick Cheney look like Santa Claus.

Where it all started...
          I cannot recommend Brent Ghelfi's "Volk" series strongly enough. While the books can be enjoyed purely as thrillers, Ghelfi's red-hot pen pushes them to another level.  The horrors that men inflict on their fellow citizens are unrelentingly shown through the prism of "Volks" adventures.  The historical and ethical issues raised in "The Burning Lake" move it into the company of Graham Greene and Martin Cruz Smith.  Buckle up and get aboard; its a ride you do not want to miss.

For those readers who enjoy the "Volk" series I would recommend the following books you may also enjoy.

          "Wolves Eat Dogs" by Martin Cruz Smith
          "Do They Know I'm Running" by David Corbett
          "Power of the Dog" by Don Winslow
          "Iron River" by T. Jefferson Parker

           - Steve Shadow Schwartz

There will be a launch party for The Burning Lake at The Poisoned Pen on April 29th at 7pm. For more information visit the event page at 

Arizona Authors & Appetizers - May 20, 2011 - 6pm

Where can you see Diana Gabaldon, Dr. Connie Mariano (former doctor to several presidents), Donis Casey, Kathy Cano-Murillo and Rico Austin? Click the flyer below for all of the sundries. It will be a marvelous time plus, The Poisoned Pen will be doing the book sales. 

It is a ticketed event ($45/$40 for members) in which the proceeds got towards the creation of a Children’s Discovery Center at the Civic Center Library. Please tell your friends! 

We hope to see you there! 

Direct link to registration page

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coming from The Poisoned Pen Press: Escape Artist

Review by Judith Starkston (

The sleuth in this mystery is Edna Ferber during her early years in Appleton Wisconsin before she had started her career as a novelist (Show BoatSo Big,Giant) and become a member of the Algonquin Round Table. You might want to read this mystery in honor of Elizabeth Taylor, whose stunning performance with James Dean in Giant arises out of Ferber’s novel of the same name.

Ferber’s novels emphasized independent women who made an impression on the world through character not beauty, and Ifkovic styles his mystery in a similar fashion. Ferber riles the town and her family with her unconventional job as “girl reporter.” When Houdini returns to his home town for a visit, she snags an interview with him, much to the annoyance of her domineering editor who hates the idea of women in the news business. The boundaries set for Miss Ferber in her small town life are clearly busting at the seams, a situation Houdini helps her recognize. Confronting the murder of one of her school friends further erodes her well-being in her old life. With some “magical” help from Houdini and the disapproval of everyone else, she tries to solve the murder. This is both a coming of age story and a murder mystery.

The book has some charms. Small town life at the beginning of the twentieth century is vividly portrayed, down to the gossip at the general store, the influence of German immigrants on the town’s life, the narrowly defined roles for women, the fashions and foods. You’ll like Edna with her irrepressible search for the facts, her quick tongue, and her love of flowery language. There’s a nuanced portrayal of Houdini, his arrogance and bravado balanced by an endearing protectiveness toward Edna and hints of his insecurities. You may also find yourself wishing the book would move along faster. If you read a mystery for the way a plot grabs hold of you rather than the descriptive details, this book may let you down. On the other hand, if you love a leisurely portrait of a period and character along with your story, this book will please you.
Escape Artist is due out from Poisoned Pen Press in June 2011.

Edna Ferber Mystery
1. Lone Star (2009)
2. Escape Artist (2011) Signed

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good Book Reviews Are No Longer Enough

by PETER OSNOS - Peter Osnos is a journalist turned book editor/publisher. He spent 18 years working at various bureaus for The Washington Post before founding Public Affairs Books

Today's authors can't rely on the merit of their pages. Literary coverage has grown, but reaching readers is as difficult as ever.

As a longtime publisher of what is known as "serious" non-fiction, I am acutely aware of how sensitive most authors are about book reviews. After extended periods of research and writing, it is unnerving to find your work in the hands of someone else to pass judgment. Authors of established distinction feel the sting of a critical review, or worse, being ignored, especially by the Sunday New York Times Book Review, which remains for many writers the arbiter ne plus ultra. It is time--probably past time--to declare that traditional book reviews are no longer the dominant measure of a book's impact, or even necessarily the most effective way to reach the intended audience. Last week I wrote about changes in publishing since I started in 1984, but left out for consideration here the subject of reviews and book coverage in general, including publicity over the airwaves and on the Internet.

It is no revelation that newspaper- and magazine-based book reviews have been drastically cut back over the past decade. Highly respected weekly sections in newspapers such as the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune are now folded into other parts of the paper, and while the quality of the reviews can still be impressive, they no longer have the visibility they once did. The New York Times Book Review certainly has the most influence, but its page count is limited by the amount of book advertising it attracts. Recently, the section editors decided to turn over six pages to bestseller lists: print hardcovers; print paperbacks; mass market; advice, how-to, and miscellaneous; print children's; print hardcover and paper combined; e-book bestsellers; and combined print and e-book bestsellers.
The challenge for authors and publishers is to catch the attention of the people at all these enterprises who choose among the cascade of books that arrive every day.
Is all that data what readers want? The editors clearly feel that it is, even though it is also featured on the paper's website. No matter what your view, the net effect would seem to be that fewer books can be featured in reviews. The newspaper also divides the daily and Sunday departments, so some books can be reviewed twice. A recent first book by a young historian got a daily, a Sunday, and a Sunday business review, a bonanza for the writer, but it could be argued more than its fair share. (Sales were, nonetheless, modest.)

So does the reduced space for reviews in so many publications mean that books are being covered less than they were? The answer, actually, is no. The New York Review of Books continues its unique blend of social, political, and literary criticism. The Wall Street Journal recently added a Saturday review section that is notable for its eclectic selection of titles and the quality of the pieces. Books are prominently featured in such magazines (and associated websites) as the Economist, TheAtlantic, the New Yorker, Foreign Affairs, Harper's, the New Republic, and Foreign Policy. Every major digital publication provides significant book coverage, including Slate, the Huffington Post,and the Daily Beast. has a lively book portal that complements the extensive play that books receive on programs such as All Things Considered, Fresh Air, the Diane Rehm Show, and many others. The Washington Independent Review of Books, which launched this winter, seems typical of efforts across the country to provide forums for meaningful book reviews and discussion.Galley Cat, a publishing newsletter that is part of Mediabistro, recently assembled a list of what it described as the "best book reviewers on Twitter," with dozens of names.
The challenge for authors and publishers--as with so much else in our information and entertainment environment--is to catch the attention of the people at all these enterprises who choose among the cascade of books that arrive every day. I am reminded of hearing Esther Dyson observe over a decade ago that we no longer live in the information age, we live in the attention age. The notion that merit alone assures acclaim was never really valid, especially in non-fiction, but it is certainly not true today.

I have watched with interest the trajectory of two books, both of which are by first-time authors whose ingenuity and determination made bestsellers out of stories that broke through the barriers to recognition. I can't remember the first time I heard of Rebecca Skloot, but it must have been months before her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was published by Crown in February 2010. I  joined Facebook to find out what the networking site was, but have not used it. Nonetheless, Skloot started sending me messages through Facebook, which means that she had reached very far afield from her publisher to others in the business. By the time the book was released, Skloot had apparently built a platform that gave it liftoff, supported in time by universally positive reviews. According to Bookscan, which covers about 75 percent of the book market, the book sold over 300,000 hardcover copies and is currently number two on the New York Timespaperback list.

A few months ago a friend asked me to meet with Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a former ABC producer, whose HarperCollins book The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe is about a woman who heroically managed life under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. In retrospect, the hour I spent providing advice to Lemmon must have seemed patronizing, since her own outreach turned out to be so extensive and positive, including multiple media appearances and a sophisticated campaign using the full range of social media tools. Still in its first weeks on sale, the book is a bestseller, but the biggest news may be HarperCollins report that the book is the first ever HarperCollins non-fiction title to sell more digital copies than printed ones in its initial release. According to the Wall Street Journalthe book's editor "credited an extensive Twitter campaign and various social media for the run-up in digital sales. 'The moms of America finally have Kindles and Nooks,' she said."

A good review is still a satisfying coda to all the hard work that went into getting a book done. But success in today's world takes much more than praise. Ask Ms. Skloot and Ms. Lemmon.

-article originally appeared in The Atlantic

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review of Big Wheat by Dana Stabenow

Book Review Monday

Seldom have I read a mystery novel more in the moment than Richard Thompson’s Big Wheat. It’s the summer of 1919, and heartbroken by lover Mabel who has cast him off, twenty-three year old North Dakota farm hand Charlie Kreuger pins his abusive father to the kitchen table with a carving knife and hits the road to seek his fortune.
Unfortunately, Mabel has become one of the long string of victims left behind by the Windmill Man, one of the creepier villains of recent crime fiction, and Charlie’s disappearance in conjunction with Mabel’s has led local law enforcement to believe Charlie killed her and ran away. The sheriff is after him and so is the Windmill Man, who is afraid Charlie can identify him.
But Charlie makes plenty of friends along the way, too, including George Ravenwing, a chance-met Lakota Indian who may or may not be corporeal, Avery, the paterfamilias of the Ark (just read it) who gives Charlie his heart’s desire, a job on a steam engine, and Emily, the feisty Brit who becomes his new love.
Thompson has a real feel for landscape. Here’s Charlie looking at morning on the prairie in the threshing season:
“…To the east and south, where the predawn light had still not appeared, the black landscape was suddenly defined and given depth by first dozens, then hundreds of flickering orange points of light. At first, Charlie didn’t recognize them as boiler fires. There were so many, and they stretched to the horizon, as far as he could see. The steam engineers of the plains were lighting off their fireboxes for the day, warming up the big boilers to make steam…”
Just for fun, found this photo of a belt-driven threshing machine, circa the time of Big Wheat, on lookANDsee.
The title is of course a take-off on Big Oil, and Thompson uses this summer of discontent and serial murder to illuminate that crucial moment when agriculture in America began to change over from family farms to ConAgra Foods, and he does it with wit and style. Here’s one of my favorite passages, when avaricious banker Emil Puckett, thwarted from stealing Joe Wick’s farm out from under him, mulls over the decline of the western world:
“…Probably all due to the war, he thought. People went over to France, picked up its loose morals, and brought them back home. Pretty soon the whole country was full of upstarts and Bohemians. There was a rumor just that month that a professional baseball team had taken some gamblers’ money to deliberately lose the upcoming World Series, if you could believe such a shocking thing…a formerly sensible President of the United States was advocating fixing up the nation’s sovereignty to that wobbly-commie League of Nations. Worst of all, it looked as though women were about to get the vote…”
Talk about setting a scene. This is not what we in the business call an expository lump, a gigantic dump of information left for the narrative to stub its toe on. No, this is a master hand coloring a character in all the way to the edges, while at the same time firmly fixing his novel in place and time, with the reader barely noticing.
That, folks, is craftsmanship. Solid plot, a villain who gets more out of control and more terrifying with every turn of the page, good dialogue, wonderful description of land and weather, and great characters combine to make this a really good read.

Here’s me, selling Big Wheat to the crowd at the Juneau Public Library on February 4th.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Great news for PHX author Jim Sallis!

‘Drive’ With Bobbi Starr, Andy San Dimas to Play Cannes
By Tom Hymes
Apr 14th, 2011 06:23 PM

CANNES, France—Drive ($13), a dark horse entry that features two adult performers, will be screened in a competition slot at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, which runs May 11-22. As reported by AVN last year, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed thriller includes the mainstream debut of adult stars Bobbi Starr and Andy San Dimas, who share the screen with Hollywood luminaries Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston and Christina Hendricks.

"I'm the wife of an abusive husband, and my character is horribly fucked up and trapped in an abusive marriage," Starr told AVN in October. "I have battered wife syndrome. Basically, one of the main characters comes in, witnesses me and my husband fighting several times, and then one night he just gets fed up and threatens to kill my husband.”

At the time, San Dimas did not know much about her character—neither she nor Starr had shot their scenes yet—but was thrilled to have the gig.

“I auditioned for this movie a few months ago,” she told Peter Warren. “About 40 different industry babes were there auditioning as well. I walked in a little intimidated—I’d never read for a mainstream part like this. I memorized my script in five minutes and gave it my best. I honestly thought I had no chance, especially when I didn’t hear back from them for so long. When Spieg called me with the news, I was stoked!”
“Spieg” is talent agent Mark Spiegler, who represents both performers.

James Sallis
According to IndieWire, Drive is “a minimalist crime thriller based on the novel by the great James Sallis, about a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver.” The editors of the site are clearly big fans of Danish director Refn, who “made a massive impression with the one-two punch of Bronson andValhalla Rising a couple of years back.”

The site continues, “The script, by Hossein Amini, is lean and mean, and Gosling’s description of the project as 'Blue Velvet meets Purple Rain' only piqued our interest further, and that was before this morning’s announcement that the film would premiere in competition at Cannes.”

The editors also were pleased to hear that Cliff Martinez, a onetime drummer for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and longtime collaborater with director Steven Soderbergh, is writing the score for Drive.

More information about Cannes and the Drive screenings can be found on the festival website.

Other titles by James Sallis...

Lew Griffin
1. The Long-Legged Fly (1992)
2. Moth (1993)
3. Black Hornet (1994)
4. Eye of the Cricket (1997)
5. Blue Bottle (1998)
6. Ghost of a Flea (2001)

1. Cypress Grove (2003)
2. Cripple Creek (2005)
3. Salt River (2007)

Renderings (1995)
Death Will Have Your Eyes (1997)
Drive (2005)
The Killer is Dying (2011)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Philip Kerr interviewed by The AZ Republic

4/17: 'Field Gray' author Philip Kerr at Poisoned Pen in Phoenix

In the character of Bernie Gunther, Philip Kerr has crafted a classic noir hero. The detective is a first-class wise guy who operates in Berlin in the '30s and '40s. Englishman Kerr has featured Gunther in seven books, with "Field Gray" being the latest.

Philip Kerr

When: 4 p.m. Sunday, April 17. Where: Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. Admission: Free. Details:480-947-2974,
Kerr has had success with several other books, including his "Children of the Lamp" series of books for youngsters. Kerr, 55, talked about the inspiration for Gunther.
Question: A Bernie Gunther book was your publishing debut. Did you know it would be a series?
Answer: No, I didn't. When I first started, I was just desperate to be published. I'd been writing for about 10 years without being published. (Laughing) There's nothing like failure to sort of incentivize you. When I finally got published, my publisher suggested doing another two (Bernie Gunther books).
Q: But then you had a 15-year gap between the third and fourth books.
A: I thought that I just didn't sign on to do one thing for the rest of my publishing life. I thought I'd put him aside and maybe come back to Bernie Gunther later. It seemed to me then and still sort of does that a lot of crime writing sort of repeats itself. Crime writers find a goose that will lay a golden egg year on year, and I didn't want to do that.
Q: So why come back to him?
A: I did lots of other stuff, but I'd go somewhere, and I'd find that people would ask, "When are you going to do another Bernie Gunther book?" I thought I'd better do it before people stop asking. Then I thought it would be nice to come back to a character after such a long period of time. I can write about him now from my own perspective of being older and slower and fatter and maybe wiser. It gave me a new insight into what I could do with the character.
Q: Had your style changed in the intervening years?
A: I'm less muscular. The muscles have turned into middle-age spread. And writing about the character in his late 40s and early 50s - now he was not automatically getting the girl and not necessarily able to punch his way out of a situation. Older, I guess for my money, is more interesting.
Q: What about your style as a writer? Do you look back at the early Gunther books and think, "I could do that so much better now?"
A: I try not re-read myself, but occasionally I do when I have to check something. The first sensation I have is it feels completely independent of me. It's like a child that has grown up and gone away to university. I'll think, "God, that's not bad, actually." Sometimes occasionally I'll wince a little bit, like maybe I pushed the envelope too far.
Q: How much of you is in Bernie?
A: I feel like a Robert De Niro. It's kind of method acting. I get into the character and think myself into the place and period and time. It's a character I sort of put on. I guess there's a lot of wish fulfillment, too. I wish I was as witty as he was. Comedy and wit are sort of his only source of rebellion. Berliners have a savvy sense of humor, which I rather I like. It's British, in a way. We're quite cruel people, and we pretend we're not.
Q: The British can say mean things with a nice tone in their voice, and Americans will not get the insult.
A: (Laughing) Exactly. If you say anything nicely, it doesn't matter what was actually said.
Q: Do you have a planned ending for Bernie?
A: Rather like an old soldier, he'll probably fade away, possibly like my own career as a writer. I might just fade away, too. I'll write Bernie as long as I feel I'm moving forward and doing something new with it. The minute I feel I'm repeating myself, I'll probably stop. When you find yourself as a detective writer who knocks it out year after year, like a treadmill - I couldn't feel comfortable doing that. It would be like going to an office.
Q: Bernie and the books seem so cinematic. Will there be a film?
A: There is always interest. The film rights are held by a German film producer who is like a lot of film producers. He doesn't seem to be making a huge effort to get anything done.
Q: Didn't Spielberg's company option "Children of the Lamp?"
A: Like five or six years ago. I can give you a scoop here: They bought it twice, because the first time they had it, they forgot they had it. They let it lapse. When they inquired about its fate, my agent had the gleeful task of telling them they had just owned it three weeks before. (Chuckling) I suppose it's gratifying that they bought it all over again.
Q: Who should play Bernie on screen?
A: I quite like Dominic West from "The Wire" because he's laconic, insolent and violent. He's a consummate actor. And the thing I really love about Dominic West is you watch the entire series of "The Wire" and you're unaware that he went to Eton (College in Berkshire). You think, "My God, he went to Eton!" You'd think he was from Baltimore.

Read more:

Click to reserve a signed copy of Philip Kerr's Field Grey. If you have any questions give the store at call 480-947-2974. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011