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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

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

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.

Michael Connelly’s The Law of Innocence

Michael Connelly has become of the most successful current authors by selling over thirty novels and more than eighty million books. As a former newspaper reporter, he worked the crime beat at the L. A. Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Connelly shot out of the gates in 1992, when his first novel, The Black Echo, won the Mystery Writer’s of America Edgar Award for the Best First Novel.

One of his latest novels is The Law of Innocence, focuses on Mickey Waller, known as the Lincoln Lawyer because he does much of his law practice out of his chauffeur-driven Lincoln Town Car. Waller, a defense attorney, is pulled over by the cops after he leaves a bar where his team had been celebrating a big win.

Being pulled over to a defense attorney is just part of the game the play with law enforcement. Since he had stopped drinking, it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

Except for the client’s body stuffed in his trunk.

You can find my deeper review on this riveting book over at Killer Nashville website. (Get the link here.)

Does True Crime Fit In Mystery/Detective Fiction?

By Tim Suddeth

Police car at road block

Police car

True crime is a genre of literature that, at first glance, doesn’t seem to belong in a blog about mystery and detective fiction. But its influence on the other fiction genres and its relationship can’t be ignored.

Mankind has always liked telling the gruesome and lurid details of crime. I can picture Og, sitting by the campfire telling his clan the story about a murder, he thinks it was possibly committed by a banshee, that he had heard from his father or uncles. A true crime story contains just the right mixture of information that we might need for protection, yet it appeals to our baser natures.

True crime includes nonfiction literature, film, and podcasts in which the author examines an actual crime and details the activities of real people. It can be a case that is still in the papers, or a cold case that seems to have been forgotten. Often, the story follows the case from the discovery through the investigation and the legal proceedings.

The most important characteristic is that it is true; it actually happened in the way it is depicted, in the people involved, dates, victims, and villains. There may be some dialogue added and some speculations that are admitted, but it is based on unbiased fact. But finding facts without bias is hard to do if not impossible.

Most true crime stories involve murder, even though it makes up less that 20% of all crimes. The idea of actually murdering someone is so hard to believe that we want to get an idea of what drove the person to kill. What were they thinking? And were there signs that we should be aware of? Continue reading

2021 Edgar Award Winners

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

2021 Edgar Award winner for Best Novel

On April 29th, the Mystery Writers of America celebrated its 75th year and awarded the 2021 Edgar Awards. These awards highlight the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theatre.

If you are looking for a good book to read or to study as a writer, these are good options.

You can find a link to the winners here.

You can find a link to all of this year’s nominees here.

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