Fan Favorites: Mystery Conventions

Hank Phillippi Ryan and Lee Child at Crime Bake

Mystery conventions (aka conferences) can be a great way to meet some of your favorite authors and to find kindred crime fiction friends. There are so many different fan conventions to choose from, ranging from those that focus on traditional mysteries and cozies (Malice Domestic) to thrillers (ThrillerFest), up to the big daddy of them all, the world’s largest all-crime convention, Bouchercon. Most conventions feature keynote speeches from big name guests of honor, a multitude of panels filled with authors of all kinds, wonderful book rooms, and special activities like short story contests and charity auctions. Some even have fan guests of honor. Most of the conventions below are held by all-volunteer, non-profit organizations, so mystery fans volunteer their time to make sure attendees have fun.

Here is a rundown of the major fan conventions and conventions taking place in 2013.

Left Coast Crime
March 21-24, 2013, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Left Coast Crime is held annually during the first quarter of the calendar year somewhere in western North America. Guests of honor in 2013 are Longmire series author, Craig Johnson (are you as excited as I am that Longmire is coming back for season 2?) and Tess Monaghan series author, Laura Lippman. The Toastmaster is David Corbett and the ‘Last Resort’ Troubadour is Parnell Hall. Ghost of Honor is one of my all-time favorites, Stephen J. Cannell. Left Coast also has two fan guests of honor, Tom and Enid Schantz. The Left Coast Crime Awards are given out during the event, and all attendees can vote for up to three in each category.

The Edgars® Symposium and Banquet
May 1-2, 2013, New York, New York

Not exactly a weekend conference, the splashy annual Edgar Awards banquet given by Mystery Writers of America on Thursday comes after Wednesday's Symposium, a day packed with panels including agents and authors and award honorees. This year's schedule includes interviews with new MWA Grand Masters Ken Follett and Margaret Maron, and panelists will include Charlaine Harris, Walter Mosley, Reed Farrel Coleman, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Kris Montee of the writing team of P.J. Parrish, among many more.

Malice Domestic
May 3-5, 2013, Bethesda, Md.

Malice Domestic salutes the traditional mystery, loosely defined as mysteries without explicit sex or violence (sometimes known as the cozy.) Think Agatha Christie, Diane Mott Davidson, or Carolyn Hart. This year’s honoree slate includes Guest of Honor: Laurie R. King; Toastmaster: Laura Lippman; Lifetime Achievement winner, Aaron Elkins; International Guest of Honor: Peter Robinson, Amelia Award Winner: Carolyn Hart, Fan Guest of Honor: Cindy Silberblatt. The Agatha Awards are given out every year at the convention and all attendees who register by December 31 of the previous year can nominate books and authors. Malice awards two grants ever year to unpublished writers to attend a writer’s convention.

May 30-June 2, Bristol, England

For those who fancy their conventions on the other side of the pond, there is Crimefest where “The Pen is Bloodier than the Sword.” This convention was born when Left Coast Crime went to Bristol, England, in 2006. The featured guest author and Toastmaster for 2013 is Robert Goddard. Lindsey Davis, Jeffery Deaver, Sophie Hannah, David Hewson, Peter James, Simon Kernick, Denise Mina, and Dana Stabenow are slated to attend. The Crimefest awards are given out here and, although this is primarily a fan convention, they do offer pitch sessions with agents and writing workshops.

July 10-13, New York City

ThrillerFest is hosted by ITW, the International Thriller Writers, and has something for everyone with three components – ThrillerFest, for thriller fans, CraftFest, for writers and AgentFest, for writers looking for agents. Attendees can go to one, two, or all three programs. ITW has its own awards given during the conference. For the fan portion of the convention, the 2013 Thrillermaster is Anne Rice, with 2011 Thrillermaster, R.L. Stine returning to the convention along with Spotlight Guests: Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker and Michael Palmer and 2013 Silver Bullet Award Winner, Steve Berry.

September 19-22, Albany, N.Y.

Named for mystery lover, writer, and critic, Anthony Boucher (rhymes with voucher), Bouchercon is the world’s largest mystery convention and features three solid days of panels, keynotes, and parties. Bouchercon's own Anthony Awards, Mystery Readers International's Macavity Awards, Deadly Pleasures' Barry Awards, the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Awards, the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Derringer Awards, and Crimespree Magazine's Awards are all given out during Bouchercon. Guests of honor in 2013 include: Sue Grafton, P.C. Doherty, Tess Gerritsen, and Steve Hamilton. The 2014 convention will be held in Long Beach, California.

Crime Bake
November 8-10, Dedham, Mass.

New England Crime Bake focuses on New England authors of both fiction and nonfiction. Registration is open to mystery readers and writers, although many of the sessions focus on writing. The convention sponsors the Al Blanchard Short story contest—open for stories set in New England or written by a writer who lives in New England. Crime Bake positions itself more as a conference than a convention.

Are you planning to attend a mystery convention in 2013?

Photo courtesy of Hank Phillippi Ryan. Find more in the aptly named Cool Stuff section of her website.

Deborah Lacy likes speakeasies, yellow heirloom tomatoes, and crime fiction. She blogs at Mystery Playground, where we’re all about Mardi Gras this week. You can find her on Twitter @quippy.

Read all posts by Deborah Lacy for Criminal Element.


  1. Albert Tucher

    The Deadly Ink conference is returning this year: Aug. 2-4 in New Brunswick NJ .


  2. Leslie

    The 18th Festival of Mystery will be held in Oakmont (PIttsburgh), PA, on May 6, the Monday after Malice Domestic, beginning at 4PM. It originated as a stopover for authors driving home from Malice Domestic and has grown into a big local event. For more info:

  3. Deborah Lacy

    @artistmom – Thank you so much for mentioning the Festival of Mystery. I had never heard of it and it sounds like a great event.

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