Opening A Mystery

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2021 Anthony Awards Winners

 by Tim Suddeth

This year’s Anthony Awards were announced at the virtual Bouchercon this past weekend. The Anthony Awards are presented by members attending the annual event and honor the year’s best in mystery and crime fiction.

The Awards were to be announced at their dinner in New Orleans, but the conference was cancelled due to an outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid. Over the weekend, we watched Hurricane Ida batter New Orleans.

The winners were announced at a virtual ceremony. Congratulations to the winners. And prayers for New Orleans for a quick recovery. Continue reading

“All The Devils Are Here” by Louise Penny

All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

The 2021 Agatha Award for the Best Contemporary Novel went to “All The Devils Are Here” (Minotaur) by Louise Penny. “All The Devils Are Here” is the sixteenth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is enjoying his first night with his family in the beautiful city of Paris. He and his wife look forward to spending some time with their son and daughter. And they will get to know their grandchildren better. They are also hoping that their very pregnant daughter will deliver before they have to leave. Continue reading

The Development of Spy Novels

“Bond. James Bond.”

Who can forget how Ian Fleming introduces his British secret agent in the legendary “Casino Royale”?

World's Most Popular Spy

Ian Fleming’s First James Bond Novel

This book introduced the world to the handsome, classy, suave, highly intelligent M16 agent with an assassin’s heart of stone. It birthed a franchise that numbered fifteen books that Ian Fleming wrote, and additional over thirty-one novels written after Fleming’s death by an assortment of authors including John Gardner, Raymond Benson, and Anthony Horowitz. As well as over twenty movies spanning over 60 years. (Check the fashions.)

Spy novels emerged in the early twentieth century and have have remained very popular. The stories involve the clandestine activities of agents often between major world powers. The genre has been very popular on both sides of the pond, as well as in Asia.

The themes of the story are similar to the adventure novels, thrillers, and politico-military thrillers. The hero, in the early novels the protagonist was nearly always a male, was often a government agent racing against Continue reading

Tess Gerritsen

Terry (Tess) Gerritsen knew she wanted to write when she was a little girl growing up in San Diego, California. With a Chinese immigrant and a Chinese-American seafood chef as parents, she dreamed of writing her own Nancy Drew stories. According to an interview in the July 15, 2021, New York Times, Tess thought Nancy Drew had everything a seven-year-old girl could want; she was clever, fearless, and she drove her own car.

But like many parents, hers had a different idea for their little girl. They were worried about how someone could make enough money writing. Sounds like common concern.

So Gerritsen put off her writing and went to college. First, she went to Stanford University to study anthropology. Then she went on to study medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where she graduated in 1979 to become an internist. She started practicing medicine in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Beginning of a Dream

It was when she read “The Woman Warrior”, by Maxine Hong Kingston, that she realized Continue reading

2021 Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award Nominees.

On July 30, Clay Stafford announced the Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award nominees. The Silver Falchion Awards are handed out at the Killer Nashville Conference to recognize and honor the Best Book published in the previous year. The books are chosen by  how they incorporate the elements of mystery, thriller, and suspense.

The awards will be given out on August 21 at their Awards Dinner. You can find a link to the finalists here.

The finalists were placed in the following categories: Best Action Adventure, Best Comedy, Best historical, Best Investigator, Best Juvenile/YA, Best Mystery, Best Nonfiction, Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Best Short Story Collection/Anthology, Best Supernatural, Best Suspense, and Best Thriller.

Author’s note: A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword similar to a machete. They were used as early as the thirteenth century.

The 2021 Agatha Awards Winners

On July 17, the 2021 Agatha Awards were announced July 17 at the More Than Malice, the Virtual Malice Domestic Festival. For the second year, the award ceremony was virtual and not in person.

From the Malice Domestic website, the Agatha Awards “celebrate the traditional mystery, best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous violence, and would not be classified as ‘hard-boiled’.”

The nominees are suggested by everyone who has registered for or became a Friend of Malice Domestic by the end of the previous years. The five finalists in the six categories are chosen, then the attendees vote for the winners. Continue reading

Rex Stout’s Writing Career

Fer-De-LAnce by Rex STout

Rex Stout’s debut of Nero Wolfe

The creator of the characters of Nero Wolfe and his assistant, Archie Goodwin, Rex Todhunter Stout was one of the most popular and prolific crime fiction writers of all times. Upon his death in 1975, he had 57 books in print, more than any living American writer at that time. His books appeared in 22 languages and sold a total of 45 million copies as of 1975.

Rex Stout was born in 1886 in Noblesville, Indiana, to Quaker parents. The couple had nine children; Rex was the sixth. (So, how did he create a character like Nero who was such a recluse?) Continue reading

Keith Roysdon’s History of True Crime

Early True-Crime Book

One of the most popular true-crime books.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about true crime books and their place in crime fiction. (You can find it here.)

Over on the CrimeReads blog, Keith Roysdon wrote a very interesting post entitled “A Brief History of the Rise—And Evolution—Of True Crime Books.” Roysdon is a former political journalist, has co-authored three crime-fiction books, and is writing fiction.

“A Brief History” goes into more details about some of the key books and authors in the true-crime genre. As the title suggests, Roysdon explains the changes that has taken place in the genre and how more changes are still taking place. And he gives us some of the major works throughout it’s history.

I recommend this article to get a better appreciation for true-crime books. It, also, shows what a great benefit many of these books have been.

You can get the link to “A Brief History of the Rise—And Evolution—Of True Crime Books” here.

The 2021 Shamus Awards Finalists

Guy Toltl Kinman, Chairperson for the Shamus Awards, released the finalists for the 2021 awards. Categories include Best PI Novel, Best Original PI Paperback, Best PI Short Story, and Best First PI Novel.

The Private Eye Writers of America award the Shamus Awards for the best detective fiction genre novels and short stories of the previous year. They were first given out in 1982.

Robert J. Randisi founded the Private Eye Writers of America 1981 . According to its official mission statement, its two main goals are to support and further the private eye genre. Secondly, to elevate the PI genre from being a sub-genre of mystery to being its own genre.

They define a private eye as a private citizen who is paid to investigate crimes and not a law enforcement officer.

You can find the list of nominees here.

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