<i>To Right the Wrongs</i>: Excerpt To Right the Wrongs: Excerpt Sheryl Scarborough The second book in the Erin Blake series. Discount: <i>Don't Look for Me</i> by Loren D. Estleman Discount: Don't Look for Me by Loren D. Estleman Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99! Review: <i>All the Deadly Lies</i> by Marian Lanouette Review: All the Deadly Lies by Marian Lanouette John Valeri Read John Valeri's review! <i>Margaret Truman's Allied in Danger</i>: Excerpt Margaret Truman's Allied in Danger: Excerpt Donald Bain The 30th book in the Capital Crimes series.
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Feb 4 2014 3:30pm

Fan Favorites: 2014’s Mystery Conventions

2014 promises to be chock full of wonderful mystery conventions and conferences ranging from Bouchercon— the world’s largest crime fiction convention—to more tightly-focused conferences like Malice Domestic, which specializes in traditional and cozy mysteries. Thrillerfest is, of course, primarily about thrillers, and Left Coast Crime is regional, but also offers the year's only humorous mystery award. Most conventions feature opportunities not only to meet your favorite authors and get your book signed, but also to make tons of new friends who love crime fiction as much as you do.

So, here's a rundown of the major crime fan conventions and conventions taking place in 2014:

[And don't forget your chance to win...]

Sep 27 2013 1:30pm

Fresh Meat: Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa by Andrez Bergen

Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa by Andrez BergenWho is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa by Andrez Bergen depicts murders within a virtual city of heroes and adoring masses—now isolated from the rest of dystopian reality—as a stylistic homage to 1940s detective noir and the 1960s Marvel age of comics (available September 27, 2013).

This story is, quite simply, a love letter to superheroes.

It’s also a mystery wrapped in a virtual gameworld wrapped within an adventure that is deadly, inside and out, and also a commentary on what’s real versus what should be real.

Mostly, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa by Andrez Bergen is fun, with a style that strongly reminded me of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. There are the same wild leaps of imagination in a world not unlike our own and the same jokey tone that masks some serious themes.

Readers enter the virtual world of Heropa at the same time as our hero, Jack, aka Southern Cross of Australia.

Heropa is populated by all sorts of Western superhero and manga archetypes, though Brick is absolutely the standout from his first appearance:

He glanced up to see a ton of bricks stuck together in the shape of a person. There were even patches of white cement smeared between the ochre-coloured bricks.

This arrival had on a giant-size trench coat that was open, displaying more paving across the torso, and propped up on the back of his great, stony skull was a small hat at a jaunty angle. The charcoal-grey straw number had an indented, fedora-style crown like every other man Jack had seen here, but contrarily sported a narrow brim, only about two inches wide, making it more 1960s than 1940s.

If you notice a resemblance to the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing of the Fantastic Four, that’s entirely intentional.

[Among all the heroes in Heropa, how could villainy possibly occur?]

Jan 3 2013 9:30am

Favorite Mysteries for Bibliophiles

If you love books, what could be better than reading books about books, or books about being inside books or people who get to hang around books. (That was a statement, not a question.) Here are some of my favorite bibliophile mysteries and thrillers.

The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

A thriller set in Barcelona in 1945, The Shadow of the Wind, follows the story of a book dealer’s son who loves a book called Shadow of the Wind, but someone is out to destroy all copies of the book and the boy may have the last one. His curiosity leads him to stumble upon secrets that the book destroyer wants kept secret.

After Shadow, Zafón wrote The Angel’s Game about an unpublished novelist who takes a deal to be published that’s too good to be true. Also set in Barcelona, the protagonist, David, in The Angel’s Game is accused on a string of murders related to the novel and starts to wonder if he’s going crazy.

[No one loves a page-turner more than a bibliophile...]

Jan 18 2012 1:00pm

The Mystery of Time Travel

Time MachineSeriously. Scientists at Cornell University have created a real hole in time, a temporal cloak of sorts, just like the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter. It’s a place where objects are invisible and events are un-recorded. Sure, no humans went in the hole and it only lasted 50 trillionths of a second, which isn’t long enough to do much of anything, but it’s still pretty cool.

This set my mind to wandering—if we can create the invisibility cloak, can Hermione Granger’s time turner be far behind? This led me to think about time travel in crime fiction and how much I love it.  Almost anything can be done or undone in the world of limitless time travel—it’s all about imagination, control and of course, timing. It’s a criminal’s dream.  And if you mess up, you can almost always go back and try again.

[What did you say? I think I missed it while in the time hole...]

May 22 2011 2:00pm

When Is a Mystery Too Fantastic?

Recently, I overheard two women in the mystery section in a bookstore:

“Oh my gawd, I can’t believe it, they have this in the mysteries! It has spells and magic and everything!!!”

“Oh gawd, that’s so stupid!!!”

I moved away before my inner librarian erupted to explain to the shocked duo that the books had to go somewhere, right? And you found them, right? So shut up. (My inner librarian is helpful that way.) 

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah BerryBut in truth, this got me to thinking about the nature of mysteries. Let me give an example. I recently finished reading The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry, which was a very different sort of mystery. It takes place in an unnamed city in an unspecified time.

There’s a noirish, forties feel to the setting: all the men wear hats, office clerks use typewriters, and there’s no reference to any sort of modern technology. But it also has a weird Alice in Wonderland quality, where outlandish things happen and people behave in bizarre ways, and all of it is treated as, well, maybe not normal exactly, but to be taken in stride.

[I’ve believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast!]

May 7 2011 11:00am

On the Frustration of Series

William Shatner in Star Trek Khaaan!Finding something new to read can be a tiresome and treacherous ordeal. I use a method that has served me well for many years, a sort of hunter-gatherer approach: I stalk the bookstore aisles, searching for something ripe and fresh enough to tempt me. Hunting. And there it is; the cover art attracts me, the accolades on the back assure me this author has no equal, and this particular book is her best ever, winner of the Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony Awards, and possibly even the Nobel Peace Prize.  I’m about to gather it in, when I see the dreaded words: “4th in the series”.