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Showing posts by: John Keyse-Walker click to see John Keyse-Walker's profile
Sep 12 2017 1:00pm

Exploding Cows, Designer Jeans, and Church Bells: The Crime Writer’s Search for Unusual Murder Weapons

Guns, knives, strangulation—it’s all so “been there, done that.” Readers are bored with shotgun blasts, lukewarm about machetes, blasé about blows to the base of the skull. They want blood and guts with a sick twist, a cozy corpse with a cerebral dose of toxin, or remains that got that way in some inexplicable manner. They want something new, unusual, outlandish about the weapons and methods writers use to commit their fictional crimes. 

Writers are more than willing to oblige and have been since almost the inception of the mystery and crime genres. Think Arthur Conan Doyle’s Indian Swamp Adder in The Speckled Band. The effort to satisfy the reader’s taste for unusual demise continues today. Here is a look at some of the more bizarre weapons and methods writers have used:

[See all the weird weapons used!]

Sep 12 2017 11:00am

Second Acts: The Second Novels of Six Great Crime Writers

Read this exclusive guest post from John Keyse-Walker about the second novels of six of the greatest crime writers ever, then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Keyse-Walker's second novel, Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed!


I am in the happy position of having my second novel, Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed, published this month. Besides inspiring thoughts of potential novels three, four, and five, the occasion started me thinking about second novels, generally, and the second efforts of some of the greats of crime writing, in particular. A bit of research on six of the great names yielded these interesting facts about their second try at long-form prose:

[See all the amazing second novels!]


John Keyse-Walker Excerpt: Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed

John Keyse-Walker

Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed by John Keyse-Walker is the second book in the Teddy Creque Mysteries series (available September 12, 2017).

After barely surviving the first criminal investigation in living memory on the sun-drenched British Virgin island of Anegada, Constable Teddy Creque has spent the past six months trying to weather the aftermath, and move on with his life. Now, with a promotion and a medal of honor, he’s newly committed to the job. So when a young woman dies in a shark attack off the coast of a neighboring island, Virgin Gorda, Teddy is happy to help when Deputy Commissioner Howard Lane orders him to capture the man-eater. But when Teddy arrives on Virgin Gorda, he begins to suspect there was human foul play involved, too.

After all, the sharks around the idyllic island aren’t known for attacking humans, and there are some oddities at the scene. Unfortunately, while Teddy is convinced that the woman’s death wasn’t accidental, not everyone on the island takes kindly to his meddling, and he’s forced to be creative in his pursuit of justice. In unfamiliar territory, and with his sole witness a silent child who communicates in unorthodox ways, Teddy must earn the trust of the reserved residents of the touristy island, tangle with a loquacious parrot, and follow the clues which might lead him directly into the path of a killer.

[Read an excerpt from Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed...]

Sep 13 2016 12:30pm

11 of the Best Fictional Island Cops

Most of us love the idea of islands—their beauty, their singularity, their separation from the wider world. And, of course, we all believe that life may somehow be easier on islands, more laid back, simpler, even Edenic.

But islands have their dark side, too. And just as most of us are drawn to the mythic ease and beauty of island life, so, too, are we fascinated by tales of this dark side and the man or woman who must contend with that dark element—the island cop. Literature, TV, and film are populated by dozens of these characters, and they are often just that, their quirks and habits molded by their island environment. Come with me on an around-the-world tour of some fascinating islands and the fictional cops who call them home:

[See who made the list!]

Sep 5 2016 10:01am

Sun, Sand, Murder: New Excerpt

John Keyse-Walker

Sun, Sand, Murder by John Keyse-WalkerSun, Sand, Murder by John Keyse-Walker is the debut novel from the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award winner (Available September 13, 2016).

As a Special Constable, Teddy Creque is the only police presence on the remote, sun-drenched island of Anegada, nestled in the heart of the British Virgin Islands. In all his years on the job, Teddy has never considered the possibility that he might have to address an actual crime on his peaceful island. That is, until he receives a hysterical call about a dead man on the beach. Indeed, Teddy is shocked to discover Paul Kelliher, a biologist who traveled to the island every winter for research, lying dead on the sands of the island’s most remote beach, killed by a single shot to the head. And when the BVI’s “real police” task Teddy with informing Kelliher’s nearest kin of his death, Teddy makes an even more surprising discovery: there’s no record that Paul Kelliher ever existed. Suddenly Teddy’s routine life is thrown into tumult as he tries to track a killer—against his boss’s wishes—while balancing his complicated family life, three other jobs, and the colorful characters populating the island around him.

Chapter One

I ran my hand along the smooth curve of Cat Wells’s hip. Fine grains of sand adhered where she had rolled from the blanket as we made love. She dozed in the sun, or pretended to. I looked out across the placid waters of Windlass Bight and wondered how I had gotten myself into this mess. Living in a simple place does not always make for a simple life.

I suppose it wasn’t truly a mess because no one knew Cat and I had been meeting in secluded spots around the island for the last six months. Icilda, my wife, neither knew nor suspected anything was amiss in our marriage. Icilda’s daily routine of home and kids, waiting tables at the Reef Hotel, and any spare moments devoted to her activities at the Methodist church did not allow time for the detection of infidelity.

[Read the full excerpt from Sun, Sand, Murder...]

Aug 18 2016 3:30pm

Why Wait? Writing as a Second Career.

I used to be a lawyer. Not one of the flashy types, not a criminal lawyer with headline-grabbing cases, nor a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer making big money. I had business clients and worked on stodgy matters that put bread on the table and some savings in the bank. I did it for thirty-one years, and then I retired.

I didn't intend to have a second career as a writer. But, after five months of travel, tennis, volunteer work, fishing, and cleaning out the file cabinets, I started writing—for fun—and I’ve had some success, with my first manuscript winning the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel Award. My first book comes out in September. I have an agent now, a second book in her hands, and a third book begun. 

It’s finally sunk in that I have a second career as a writer. And, if there is one thing I am certain of, it’s that writing is not something I would have succeeded at without having had another career first. Here’s why:

[Find out why!]

Jul 20 2016 12:30pm

Mysteries Set in the Caribbean

The golden sands, verdant hills, and crystalline waters of the Caribbean Sea have called to authors since the age of piracy ended. Indeed, one of the first works set there, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, was about that most Caribbean of occupations. Following Stevenson’s path, the greats (Ernest Hemingway, Islands in the Stream), the near-greats (Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana; James Michener, Caribbean), the comic (Herman Wouk, Don’t Stop the Carnival; Carl Hiaasen, Bad Monkey), and the commercial (Ian Fleming, Live and Let Die and Dr. No) of the literary world have set their works on its shores.

Mystery writers have also had their protagonists living on or visiting the islands of the Southern Sea. One of the first to do this was also one of the greats of the genre—Agatha Christie in A Caribbean Mystery.

[Read more from John Keyse-Walker!]

Jun 22 2016 3:00pm

Writing Where Your Protagonist Is a Different Race or Culture

Read this exclusive guest post from John Keyse-Walker, author of Sun, Sand, Muder, about writing protagonists outside of your race and culture, and then, make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Write what you know. Every writer has heard this bit of wisdom attributed to Mark Twain. We all try to do this, but nothing flies more in the face of this adage than writing from a perspective the writer cannot fully know—that of a different race or culture. A writer can visit a location, go for a ride-along with the cops, or learn pathology and forensics to lend authenticity and credibility to their principal character’s environment and methods, but they can never completely get inside that character’s skin if they're of a different race.

That irrefutable fact has not stopped a number of crime writers from making a creditable and convincing effort. Richard Price, in Clockers, gave a portrayal of a black, small-time dope dealer and his poor, drug-ravaged housing project sufficiently realistic to inspire the Spike Lee film of the same name. George Pelecanos has been uniformly praised for his portrayal of black protagonists Derek Strange and Marcus Clay, both paired with white partners in Pelecanos's native Washington, D.C.

[Should you write characters outside your race?]