Better Lock the Door

Tag: timingreenville

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.

2021 Anthony Awards

With so many mystery books coming out each month, how can you make sure you don’t miss the best ones? One of the best ways is to look for the books that are honored by other writers and readers. That is why I will be posting lists of nominees and winners of some of the top awards as they come out.

The Anthony Awards nominees have been announced for 2021. The Anthonys are given out each year at the Bouchercon, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention. The awards are voted on by the attendees.

The awards are named after Anthony Boucher, an editor, writer, and reviewer for the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Boucher was one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America in 1946. The awards have been given out since 1986 and are considered one of the top literary awards for mystery writers.

The 2021 conference will be held in New Orleans on August 25-29. The title for this year is New Orleans Blood on the Bayou Postmortem. Some of this year’s guests of honor include Michael Connelly, Steph Cha, and Craig Johnson.

You can see a list of the nominees here.

 

Slightly Murderous Intent on Killer Nashville

Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris

I enjoy both learning from the classic authors as well as finding new writers who are able to ever push the envelopes of the mystery genre. Last week , I was honored to have Killer Nashville publish my review of Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris. Slightly Murderous Intent is book four of the Southern California Mystery series.

Corrie Locke is a young attorney for a film studio. When her friends becomes targets of a hitman, she is determined to see he doesn’t succeed.

Sideris paints a beautiful picture of southern California, where she resides. Her first stint out of law school was to work as an entertainment lawyer for a film studio like her heroine.

If you like a strong and snarky female detective, this is a great series for you. You can read my full review here.

 

What Is A Cozy Mystery?

Cozy Mystery Cover

Black Magic Kitten cover

Mystery fiction is a genre, or category, of fiction that usually involves a murder or crime. Within the category of mysteries are a number of evolving and developing genres bridging true crime, fiction, supernatural, paranormal and others. One of the fun things for a writer is to discover new ways to expand the envelop of a genre, although this may not be so comfortable to the reader.

One of the most popular genres in mystery fiction is what are known as cozy mysteries, or cozies. I have to admit, this is one of my favorite genres.

Continue reading

Dashiell Hammett

The Golden Age of Mystery refers to the period between World War I and World War II. In America, writers created the hard-boiled detective. They portrayed the detective, a male, usually as a loner, facing the violence and nihilism of the post-WWI world. Often cynical, tough, hard-boiled, they lived with an internal code of right and wrong. Unlike the English detective, the American private eye is from the common people. They don’t use their great minds to solve puzzles. Instead, they use hard work and a willingness to get dirty to catch their criminal, or not.

This hard-boiled detective fiction is also called noir. Because of the time period, I always think of the films as being in black-and-white.

Although Dashiell Hammett only wrote five novels, he is known as one of the pioneers of detective fiction. He brought us Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, and the Continental Op. Many of the best-selling mystery writers, including Raymond Chandler, say that they were influenced by his style and stories. Continue reading

Judge Deborah Knotts

Tobacco field from Pixabay

 

The rural farmland of North Carolina is one of the last places one would go to find the lead in a modern mystery series. Yet that is exactly where Margaret Maron finds the lead of her Deborah Knotts series. The series lasted over 20 books and had a very promising start with the first book in 1992, Bootlegger’s Daughter, winning four of the top awards given out each year in the mystery field, the Edgar, the Anthony, the Agatha, and the Macavity.

I got in early on the series and felt like I had found a new family. I love studying the family dynamics in a story. One of the things I like about the Murder, She Baked shows on Hallmark is how Hannah Swenson’s mother and sister are always butting into her personal life. Funny and it comes off as so real.

Knotts’s family gives us a lot to study. She’s the youngest of twelve children. And the only daughter. Of course, all of the brothers feel they are responsible for her. At least that was what their parents told them when she was a child. And there’s one thing about families, we never let the younger grow up.

Several of her brothers are old enough to be her father and aren’t afraid to step into that role, whether she asks them to or not. With all the brothers, in-laws, nephews and nieces, cousins, etc., there are always things going on someone would rather kept hidden. The family dinners remind one of the closeness of the Ragan family on Blue Bloods on steroids.

But let’s be sure to not make one mistake, this is not a family of angels and Deborah knows it. She isn’t surprised when one of her cousins or other family member appears before her bench. And they know she will be fair, but she won’t be walked over either.

Not only does Deborah come from a large family, she’s also in politics. She is a District Court judge in fictional Colleton County. She is constantly having to run for votes, keeping on her toes and with a smile pasted on her face. Her court cases can get her into quite a pickle, inside and outside the courtroom.

Add to all this, her father was a well-established bootlegger even beyond the county lines. ( I know, the title of the first book gave this away. But it’s still good.) Deborah is continually finding that old roots run deep. And grow into interesting places.

These are the kind of stories that you can lose yourself in. You don’t turn the page to get to the end of the book but to see what happens next. Coming to the end was always disappointing because I didn’t want to leave the community Maron makes.

I like how we are allowed to see Deborah age and mature. We watch as she goes through a lot of not-right relationships. When she does find the right one, will she get her brothers to go along with it? And we see how the cases change not only herself, but her family and those and her.

I also like to see a series that continue after the marriage. She does get married later in the series and their relationship, a judge and a cop, adds so much spice. So many stories seem to either never let the star settle on someone, or when they do, end the series. Writers seem to think that once they get married, there is no more romance and no more excitement. Oh, how little they know. And how much conflict we miss.

Bootlegger’s daughter book cover

This is only one of two series Margaret Maron has written. I like to think she brought a lot of herself in creating Judge Knott. She told, in an interview, how she “grew up on a modest  two-mule tobacco farm that had been in the family for over a hundred years.” She went home and lived on a corner of the family farm.

She wanted to character to be a “young woman with one foot in the agrarian past and one foot in the urban present.” You can see this in how Deborah feels the strength and history when she walks around the farm.

Having grown up on a peach farm in South Carolina foothills, I know the whisper of the land when you go back. Things have changed greatly, our orchards and her tobacco fields are gone, but there is more to that land than just the crops. You feel this in her books. And you can understand why so many issues concerning our farmlands affect Deborah and her family so strongly.

But the best thing I can say about  Judge Deborah  Knotts is she is the sister or sister-in-law many of us would love to have. To a point. She also isn’t going to let you get by with anything, which a lot of people in the stories are sad to discover.

© 2021 Opening A Mystery

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑