Opening A Mystery

Better Lock the Door

The Culinary Cozy or recipes to a kill for

The Culinary CozyFor some time, I’ve wanted to do an article about the culinary cozy mystery. These are cozy, and some not so cozy, mysteries that include food and recipes as a major part of the stories. But with all the entries in the culinary cozy genre, where would I even begin?

I’ve been a huge fan of the Hallmark Movies series with Hannah Swenson, based on the books by Joanne Fluke. The baker sleuth is always looking to bribe a potential witness with just the right cookie or brownie. That has the local police department eating out of her hand. (Pun intended.) Of course, I would have to look Continue reading

The 2022 Shamus Awards Nominees

The Private Eye Writers of America has released the finalists for the 2022 Shamus Awards. The finalists were announced by PWA Awards Chairperson John Shepphird.

According to the PWA website:

“A Private Eye is defined as a private citizen (not a member of the military, federal agency, or civic state police force) who is paid to investigate crimes. A PI can be a traditional private eye, a TV or magazine reporter, an insurance investigator, an employee of an investigative service or agency, or similar character.”

The PWA was founded in 1981 by Robert J. Randisi, who also created the Shamus Awards. The aim of the organization is to support and further the private eye genre.

The finalists for the 2022 Shamus Awards are: Continue reading

The 2022 Derringer Awards

 

If you wish to read a mystery but don’t have much time to climb into a novel, maybe you’d rather read a shorter type of mystery. And for

2022 Derringer Awards Wimmers

suggestions on the crème de le crème of the little crop, you can turn to the Derringer Awards. These awards are given by the Short Mystery Fiction Society (SFMS) and are announced annually on May 1.

2022 Derringer Awards Winners Continue reading

CrimeReads State of the Crime Novel for 2022

Over on the CrimeRead website, their senior editor, Molly Odintz, asked the 39 Edgar Awards nominees about the state of the crime novel. She divided the responses into Part One, which is more craft oriented. Then, Part Two focused more on genre and the crime publishing industry. With so many responding, it gives a good overview of how crime fiction is growing and developing.

In Part One, you can also see how your favorite writers feel about working during the pandemic and how they deal with the changes.

In Part Two, the writers suggest classic and new writers to seek. They also discuss how genres are constantly changing.

I hope you enjoy this overview of crime fiction, and maybe find a new author to discover.

Under Lock and Skeleton Key Review

by Tim Suddeth

A Secret Staircase Mystery by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian (2022, Minotaur Books) is the debut book in A Secret Staircase Mystery series. I’d read an interview with this author and found the story’s premise intriguing. How can the body of someone walking around the day before wind up inside of a wall that had been sealed up for over a century?

Book Summary

That is the dilemma that faces Tempest Raj. Tempest, a disgraced magician who has to return to her parent’s home after they shut down her Las Vegas magic act because of a near catastrophe. Was the catastrophe the result of an accident, sabotage, or the curse placed on her family? Continue reading

2022 Left Coast Crime Award Winners

The Lefty Awards

The Left Coast Crime Convention

The 2022 Left Coast Crime Convention presented the Lefty Awards at their 32nd annual convention banquet. This is an annual event (ignoring stuff like COVID) for readers and writers of mysteries.  The LCC held their 2022 meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their next convention in 2023 will be in Tucson, Arizona where J. A. Jance is scheduled to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nominations for the ‘Lefty Awards’ are presented by people registered for the convention and the prior one. Ballots are given to attendees and final voting takes place at the convention.

This year’s winners include:

For Best Humorous Mystery Novel                   Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes (Crooked Lane Books)

For Best Debut Mystery Novel                             All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris (William Morrow)

The Bill Gottfried Memorial Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (for books set before 1970)

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)

For Best Mystery Novel (Not in any other categories.)

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books)

 

The Importance of Awards

I like to highlight the winners of awards given by the difference conferences and conventions as a way to highlight books we should be aware of.  There are so many crime-fiction books coming out each year, it is easy to miss a story or character we may like. Just because a book wins an award doesn’t mean it is better than the others, or even that you will like it. But it does mean judges have vetted and selected the stories.  And if you want to add more diversity to your reading, whatever that means to you, this is a good way to start.

I plan to post the winners of the other major mystery awards.  If there are any other awards you think I should post or be aware of, please send me a link.

Here is a link to all the winners and nominees for the Lefty Awards.

As always, I would love for you to share this post and let’s help get these authors’ names out there.

Thank you for reading. If you are reading this on your phone, you can sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of the screen.

Congratulations to The Left Coast Crime Convention Lefty Awards Winners. You can find the list of winners @OpeningaMystery #Mysteries #LeftyAward @leftcoastcrime #crimereaders Click To Tweet

 

Kinsey Millhone

“My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I’m thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday, I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind…”

—Sue Grafton, A Is for Alibi

 

Kinsey Millhone First Story

A Is For Alibi

Kinsey Millhone first came to the pages of crime fiction when Sue Grafton created her in 1982 for A Is for Alibi. A former police officer turned private investigator, Kinsey was one of the earliest female investigators along with Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski. The novels make up the extremely popular Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series.

Grafton set the stories in Santa Teresa, California, a fictionalized town based on Santa Barbara, California. Although books came out nearly a book a year, Grafton minimized Millhone’s aging by having each of the character’s years covered in three books.

Millhone was the model of a modern female detective, feisty and smart but not above going against the rules.

Continue reading

John D. MacDonald

by Tim Suddeth

John D. MacDonald was one of the most prolific and acclaimed American writers. He is best known for his Travis McGee series and the many TV shows taken from his writing. Stephen King praised MacDonald as “The great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller.”

John D. MacDonald's first Travis McGee novel

The Deep Blue Good-by

But he cut his chops by writing for numerous pulp magazines in the 30s and 40s. He wrote over 500 short stories for over 20 magazines and under several pseudonyms. Between the years 1945 to 1986, he sold an estimated 70 million books, third in detective fiction behind Perry Mason and Mickey Spillane.

 

Early Years, Education, and Military

John D. MacDonald, known to his friend as John D., was born in 1916 in Sharon, Pennsylvania. When he was 18 (1934), he spent several weeks in Europe, creating a love for travel and photography.

He attended Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, leaving during his sophomore year. He later went to Syracuse University, where he met his future wife, Dorothy Prentiss. They married in 1937 and he graduated from Syracuse in 1938. In 1939, he got his MBA from Harvard University. The education he received in business and economic shows in some of his later work. Continue reading

Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson

Reviewed by Tim Suddeth

 

Daughter of the Morning Star

Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson

Daughter of the Morning Star (Viking, 2021) is Craig Johnson’s 17th novel in the Walt Longmire Mysteries series. The fictional Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County in Wyoming, “the least populated county in the least populated state in the union.” The series has been the basis of the Longmire series on A&E/Netflix.

Longmire grew up in Absaroka County and played football at the University of Southern California. He and served in the Marine Corps as a military police officer where he earned several medals. Throughout the series, we’ve seen several of his relationships change. But one that has stood true is with his high school friend, Henry Standing Bear. Standing Bear is a giant of a man who is an integral part of the Native American culture.

In Daughter of the Morning Star, Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long contact Longmire to look into the threatening letters to her niece, Jaya ‘Longbow’ Long. Since Jaya’s sister went missing the summer before, Long’s worried that the threats may be more than just kids having fun. Continue reading

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