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.”
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
Reviewed by Tim Suddeth
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
Opening a Mystery welcomes you and we hope we have a little something for everyone. Spring is coming. The clock has changed. Now we actually have an afternoon to enjoy. If you’ve been coming home from work in the dark, I’m sure you are doubly happy.
We are seeing a great time to be a crime fiction lover. Whether it is people looking back at the classics, or the number of future best-sellers that are coming out in the next few weeks, there is a little something, whether a book or a show, for everyone.
Lee Cobb’s Reacher
Let’s start with Lee Lofland’s review of the first episode of Reacher. Reacher is the hero created by Lee Child, a powerful, quiet, no-nonsense type of guy. When trouble finds him, trouble is always sorry.
Lee Lofland is a former police investigator, former police academy instructor trainer, and acts as a consultant for several best-selling authors. He is also the founder and host for the Writers Police Academy. The Academy is a chance for authors to meet and receive training from trainers for law enforcement officers. I got to go to it a few years ago, and it was a blast. Continue reading
Canine mystery stories have long been popular with dog lovers and mystery readers. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us, considering how many people passionately love their pups, whether they’re the size of a rodent or a VW bug. In my house, our two little ankle biters are a huge part of our family. No discussion. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.
A canine mystery usually represents a dog in one of three ways, as a pet, as a dog on a job (K-9s), or telling the story from their point of view.
Humans often have a special connection with their dogs. Our first two dogs, sisters from different litters, had very different personalities. The youngest, a black miniature schnauzer, was nervous and became so attached to me she didn’t want anyone else, including our other dog, near me.
But the other dog, Polly, a salt-and-pepper, loved everyone and other dogs. She seemed to have a connection where she knew when to play and when we needed just to chill. When we had a death in our family, she was the one who climbed on the couch beside us and laid her head on our laps.
Some dogs just have that special connection. And that works well with the emotions characters encounter in dog mystery or K-9 mystery stories. Continue reading
How do writers find time to write? Ooo, this should be good. I think this is one of the most popular questions that writers ask themselves. Right up there with ‘Am I really a writer?’
So, let me share two interviews with writers who have find the precious time that feels like getting water out of a rock.
The first is David Heska Wanbli Weiden. His debut novel, Winter Counts, which won several awards for Best First Novel. He holds an MFA degree, a law degree, and a Ph.D. Dr. Weiden is a tenured professor of Native American Studies and Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He teaches MFA classes on the side and is a father of two sons.
In this interview at CrimeReads, Dr, Weiden tells why he started writing while being a professor and describes his writing routine while teaching classes and mentoring students. A great illustration of a driven man and father finding time to achieve a dream.
Over on The Murder Memo, Danny Smith interviewed Linda Healy who was one of the first women in the California Highway Patrol Academy. Her memoir, The Experiment (2022), chronicles her rise from meter maid to a commander in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. You can listen to the interview here.
Now, excuse me. I need to get back to writing.
In 1887, an eye doctor with no patients had his first story published about a ‘consulting detective’ who would one day take over the world. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet the world’ gets its first glimpse at what would become the most famous detective in crime fiction, Sherlock Holmes.
There had been a handful of detectives in fiction before Holmes, but no one came close to his popularity. Even today, readers often consider him as the quintessential detective who many of today’s mystery writers try to emulate.
It’s hard to believe this year is flying by so fast. The middle of February is almost here already. I feel like I’m tearing pages off the calendar in bunches. I mean, I still have things to do on my 2021 to-do list.
But I can still find time to read. Where else can I go back in time and take a carriage in Victorian London? Reading is the closest we can come to anything like a time machine. Or travel across the country to present-day Portland with Phillip Margolin.
I have a couple of things I want to do. First, we have had a lot of new members to join our blog. I want to say welcome and feel free to comment or send me a message. Continue reading
The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars was written by Anthony Boucher and published in 1940. The Case was a tribute to Sherlock Holmes.
Set in 1939, Hollywood, Metropolis Pictures plans to produce a movie based on one of Sherlock Holmes’s stories. However, they are getting backlash from the fans Holmes because the writer, Worth, wants to change the story to make it a tough, hard-boiled rendition. The executive at Metropolis discovers that, by contract, he cannot replace the hated writer. So, they decide to invite some of the members of The Baker Street Irregulars to oversee the production and give the film their stamp of approval. ￼
Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell Story in Transylvania
The Mystery Writers of America announced that they have chosen Laurie R. King to be their 2022 Grand Master at this year’s conference. The awards she’s won, how her novels have influenced the crime fiction canon, and her writing longevity, all together make her a fitting recipient.
Laurie R. King was born in 1952 in Oakland, California. On her website, she said she was the third generation in her family native to the San Francisco area. Her family moved so much as she was growing up that it wasn’t until she was in high school that she attended the same school in consecutive years.
In an interview for Mystery Scene in 2009, she said, “That, if nothing else, turned me into a reader, which turned me into a writer.” On her website, she said she read through libraries up and down the west coast. Continue reading
The Left Coast Crime Awards (Isn’t that a great name?) announced the nominees for their 2022 awards. The nominees were made by people registered for this year’s and last year’s conventions. The finalists will be selected at the convention.
The convention selects the best mystery novels in four categories: humorous, historical, debut, and best mystery. The winners will be presented at the awards banquet on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque.
This list is a great place to find the cream of today’s mysteries. Is one of your favorites listed here?