Please carry on all conversations without shouting, excessive ranting, or crudity. Profanity and personal attacks will not be tolerated. I am delighted to have you in my house - well, on my blog, anyway - and look forward to discussions. But please remember that we are all trying to carry on a civilized discussion. Your views are valuable. Please treat them that way. Thank you.
Rue Morgue Press "Rue Morgue Press is the old-mystery lover's best friend, reprinting high quality books from the 1930s and '40s."
—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Felony & Mayhem This publisher specializes in classic mysteries, broadly defined, including newer mysteries that adhere to classic standards. They have just overhauled their website to make it much more informative and user-friendly.
Merion Press The Merion Press is an independent publisher of out-of-print works that were originally published over 75 years ago, but are enduring even today.
Mystery Guild This book club mostly publishes current thrillers, spy and horror stories, etc., but has a few "lost classics" by the likes of Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr. As such, it may be worth your attention. Be warned though that it's a "negative option" club - if you join, you have to reply to each offer every few weeks to keep them from being sent to you.
Crippen & Landru Crippen & Landru publish mystery short story collections. Of particular interest is what they call "Lost Classics," a series of anthologies of mostly uncollected stories by authors who might be enjoyed by a new generation of readers.
Poisoned Pen Press Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Poisoned Pen Press publishes a fairly wide variety of mysteries. Some are reprints; many are new, by newer authors. Their website has a great deal of information about their books and authors.
Academy Chicago Publishers A number of interesting authors, most long out of print, plus some other odds and ends, including some horror stories by Conan Doyle.
Langtail Press A fairly new Print On Demand publisher specializing mostly in classic mysteries. The managing director, James Prichard is the great-grandson of Agatha Christie, and his lineage shows. Authors include John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, Anthony Berkeley, and Freeman Wills Crofts, among others. Many are also published as ebooks for the Amazon Kindle.
Mysterious Press The brainchild of editor/anthologist/author/bookstore-owner Otto Penzler, the Mysterious Press has recently returned to life as an electronic book publisher. It is already republishing the work of a lot of classic authors, with more books on the way.
Ostara Publishing "Ostara Publishing re-issues titles that have unjustifiably become unavailable either through the ravages of time or the forces of publishing economics. We specialise in Crime and Thriller fiction titles and our range goes from the1920s through to the 21st century. We publish thematically and currently have six series available. All our titles are published in a 'trade paperback' format and printed to order."
Locked Room International A small press, specializing in very good English-language translations of (so far) mostly-French authors of locked room and impossible crime stories. They publish in Print-On-Demand and electronic editions.
Oleander Press This small eclectic British publisher has begun publishing a series of classic British mystery novels, primarily from the Golden Age. The series is grouped into a section of their catalogue named "London Bound," as the books are set in London.
Oconee Spirit Press A small, independent publisher committed to publishing "lively fiction, and provocative non-fiction." Most of their list covers early works by established authors writing traditional mysteries, such as Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron.
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That means that if you order anything from Amazon through a link from my site or the search box on my page, I get a small commission. As a result, I'd consider it a favor if you would consider making your purchases through my links. As always, though, if you have a local mystery book store, I encourage you to use them as your first choice. For anything else... Thank you.
The Mystery Writers of America have selected the nominees for this year's Edgar Awards. Click here for the complete list of nominees. The awards will be presented at the annual banquet in New York on April 29. Congratulations to all the nominees!
I'm not sure I would elevate any of these thoughts to the status of a "New Year's Resolution," but I do intend to try a few new things with this blog and podcast, to keep the blood flowing and prevent hardening of the mysterious arteries.
First, although I'm participating in the Vintage Mystery Bingo Golden Challenge again, I will try to include some additional mysteries - ones that were not necessarily written before 1960. I need 36 mysteries to fulfill my challenge commitment, but that still leaves 16 other weeks, not to mention that there's no rule that says I can't do more than one a week, at least on the blog.
While I'm at it, since the podcast is now 7 1/2 years old, I think it's time I go back and bring some of the original reviews to your attention. As I didn't really start the blog until the podcast was nearly a year old, and since I started by reviewing some of my all-time favorites, I think it might be good to call some of them to your attention. I'll do this sporadically, and they'll usually be headlined "Looking Back."
Oh, and there are a lot of other, smaller challenges out there. I may jump into some of those from time to time.
I hope you'll come along for the ride. I'm very grateful to all of you who visit here, and I hope you enjoy the reviews - and that you'll enjoy the books themselves even more.
The end of the year is fast approaching - and so are the deadlines for registering for some of next year's great mystery conferences and saving yourself a bit of money, too.
Let's start with Left Coast Crime, coming up in Portland, OR, March 12-15. Register by December 31 and the price is $175. Dawdle until January 1 and it goes up to $195. Also, early registrants (prior to January 23) will be able to take part in the nominating process for four categories of awards. Click here for their registration page.
Next up is Malice Domestic, that annual celebration of the traditional mystery held each year in Bethesda, MD. In 2015, the conference will be held from May 1 through May 3. Price varies (depending on whether you want to attend the Agatha Awards banquet, which you should), but all prices increase on January 1. Those who register before December 31 get to help select the final nominees for the awards. Click here for registration information.
And in the fall, there is Bouchercon 2015, the oldest and largest of the conferences, coming up in Raleigh, NC, from October 8 through October 11. The price for this one is $175 until January 1, after which it goes up to $195. Their registration page is here.
Never been to a mystery conference? Maybe this is the year for you to try one. Each of these conferences attracts hundreds of mystery authors and more hundreds of readers who want a chance to meet and mingle with their favorite authors - and to learn about new authors and books they might enjoy. There are entertaining and informative panel discussions, rooms full of book dealers, prestigious awards, well-known guests of honor, autograph sessions, welcoming bags filled with books to take home, and the opportunity to make a great many new friends. I attended all three this past year; in 2015, I'll be missing Malice (much to my regret), but looking forward to attending all of them again in 2016. Try one. You'll enjoy it.
Love her or hate her, British crime fiction author (and critic) P. D. James, who passed away last month, was one of the strongest defenders of the modern British crime novel. Over the course of a writing career that spanned 50 years, she wrote only about 20 novels, eleven of them featuring police detective Adam Dalgliesh. While she certainly had ties to the traditional mystery, she was more interested in creating realistic characters involved in crimes which generally grew out of their personalities rather than being imposed as puzzles.
Perhaps her closest approach to the traditional mystery may be found in her first Dalgliesh novel, Cover Her Face, originally published in 1962. It's the story of the murder of a young woman, a maid in one of those traditional English country houses. Cover Her Face is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review by clicking here.
Sally Jupp loved to keep secrets - making it very clear to everyone, however, that she was in possession of those secrets. She had an illegitimate child, for example, but wouldn't identify the father. She irritated almost every member of the household where she worked, and she even announced that the family's son had proposed to her.
Well, as one of the characters says, “She liked amusing herself with people…They can be dangerous playthings.” Apparently someone, pushed beyond endurance, kills Sally - in a locked room, no less. And so Adam Dalgliesh - a mere Detective Chief Inspector in this book, he would later be promoted to a Commander of the Metropolitan Police, New Scotland Yard - arrives at the estate to investigate the murder.
While James plays with the traditional English mystery ingredients - the country house setting, the locked room, the "upstairs downstairs" relationships between the family suspects and the servants - she is quite clearly more interested in giving us the memorable characters who populate this book. Although there are plenty of traditional clues to the identity of the killer, the solution to the mystery really comes from the interplay among the characters and the uncovering of their petty (and not so petty) secrets, often under the guidance of Dalgliesh. It was a pretty impressive debut performance for James. Over the years, her stories became longer and more complex - and, to me, less enjoyable, but I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Cover Her Face.
The calendar says it is still 2014, but the Mystery Writers of America have named the recipients of some very special 2015 awards, which will be presented at the annual Edgar Awards banquet next April.
The 2015 Grand Masters Awards, which are really life/career achievement awards, go to two fine, long-standing authors, Lois Duncan and James Ellroy.
The group is also awarding two Raven Awards, which are presented for outstanding achievement outside the field of creative writing. The awards will go to Jon and Ruth Jordan of Crimespree Magazine and to Kathryn Kennison, the founder of the Midwestern mystery conference Magna Cum Murder - a conference I haven't yet attended, meaning I ought to get up and go.
The MWA is presenting its 2015 Ellery Queen Award to Charles Ardai, the editor of the publishing (and republishing) house, Hard Case Crime. The award is designed to honor writing teams (such as the team that was Ellery Queen) and/or leaders in the mystery publishing industry.
Sorry I had to miss the Wolfe Pack's annual Black Orchid weekend in New York. The annual events, which include a gala banquet, take place each year on the first full weekend of December, in honor of author Rex Stout's birthday.
At the banquet, the annual Nero Award, presented to an author "for the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories," was given to this year's winner, David Morell, for Murder as a Fine Art. The winner and runners up:
Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell, Little, Brown & Company
Ask Not, Max Allan Collins, Tor & Forge Books
Three Can Keep a Secret, Archer Mayor, St. Martins Press
A Study in Revenge, Kieran Shields, Crown Publishing Group
A Question of Honor, Charles Todd, William Morrow/Harper Collins
Working jointly with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the Wolfe Pack also presented the annual Black Orchid Novella Award to author K. G.McAbee for his novella, "Dyed to Death." The award celebrates the novella, the long short story/short novel format at which Rex Stout excelled.
Congratulations are in order for the winners and all the runners-up. From what I hear, it was - as usual - a pretty fabulous event.
Talk about Cyber Monday book sales - our friends at Open Road Integrated Media (who publish the Mysterious Press line of e-book mysteries) are having a huge sale TODAY (MONDAY) ONLY- with prices up to 80% lower than normal. Most books are $1.99. Full list of Kindle versions and more info at this link. For other formats, please visit here for Nook titles and here for Kobo titles. You can also try Apple's iTunes store, but I can't seem to get the proper link for that one. Again, the prices are only for today. There's a lot of great mystery titles - and a lot of other books available as well. As we say, check 'em out.
Regular visitors to this blog know that stories about crimes committed inside locked-and-bolted rooms, or other impossible locations such as murders where the killer left no footprints in the snow, are among my favorites.
One of the panel discussions at the recently-concluded Bouchercon in Long Beach this year was "Murder in a Locked Room: Solving the 'Perfect' Crime." Moderated by Bill Gottfried, the panel of authors included Janet Dawson, Jeffery Deaver, Laurie R. King, Marvin Lachman and Gigi Pandian. Those of us who attended the discussion were given a list of recommended locked room books for our own reading pleasure. It is NOT all-inclusive - it is intended as a starter-guide and contains some of the panel's favorites. Bill Gottfried kindly allowed me to put it here for my readers.
Here are their suggested books with links, where available, to Amazon; if you have a local bookstore, PLEASE let them get it for you or find you a second-hand copy:
Again, that's far from an inclusive list. Personally, I would add Hake Talbot's brilliant and frightening Rim of the Pit and another "Carter Dickson," The Plague Court Murders. Also The Burning Court isn't one of my favorites, and there are a couple on there I don't know - yet. And for those who would like to start (or finish) with some short stories about impossible crimes, I would have to add the newly-published The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original), edited and with an introduction by Otto Penzler, which includes 937 pages-worth of classic locked room mysteries. According to the front cover, it is "the most complete collection of impossible-crime stories ever assembled." I'm looking forward to cold winter nights and a lot of locked doors.
The start of another month brings a new "Getting Away with Murder" column from Mike Ripley, for the Shots Crime & Thriller eZine. As usual, it's an entertaining update on the U.K. crime fiction scene, with occasional - all right, frequent - side trips. Ripley covers a great many sub-genres, although remarkably few among my own "classic" favorites, and it remains a good way to keep up with what's going on out there in the criminal literary world. Or is the literary criminal world?