Mar 312014

There's more news to share about the forthcoming "continuation" novel by Mike Ripley featuring Albert Campion, the gentleman detective/adventurer created by Margery Allingham.

As I posted here in January, the new book, Mr Campion's Farewell, is really a continuation of a book begun by Allingham's husband, Pip Youngman Carter, after his wife's death. Carter died after writing only a few chapters, and the manuscript was never finished or published. Now, Mike Ripley has completed it, and I believe it has just been published by Severn House in the U. K. It's scheduled to be released in the U.S. on July 1st.

Mike Ripley has done an interview with Shots Crime & Thriller Ezine about the new book, its origins, and his involvement with the project. I've been given an advance copy of the book, and I look forward to reviewing it on the blog and podcast as we get a little closer to the release date. For fans of Margery Allingham and Albert Campion, I would bet that your favorite friendly mystery bookstore would be more than happy to order a copy of Mr. Campion's Farewell for you. In the meantime, Ripley's interview answers a number of excellent questions and may whet your appetite.

Mar 232014

The 2014 Left Coast Crime awards were presented this evening at the banquet held at the LCC 2014 conference in Monterey, CA. There were four awards. Here's a list of the winners and nominees - with the winners in boldface type:

THE LEFTY (Most humorous mystery published in the prior year):

  • The Good Cop, by Brad Parks
  • The Hen of the Baskervilles, by Donna Andrews
  • The Fame Thief, by Timothy Hallinan
  • The Last Word, by Lisa Lutz
  • Dying for a Daiquiri, by Cindy Sample

THE BRUCE ALEXANDER MEMORIAL HISTORICAL MYSTERY AWARD (best historical mystery novel covering events before 1960)

  • Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses, by Catriona McPherson
  • Heirs and Graces, by Rhys Bowen
  • His Majesty's Hope, by Susan Elia MacNeal
  • Murder as a Fine Art, by David Morrell
  • Covenant with Hell, by Priscilla Royal
  • Leaving Everything Most Loved, by Jacqueline Winspear

THE SQUID (Best mystery novel set within the United States

  • Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger
  • W is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton
  • Purgatory Key, by Darrell James
  • The Wrong Girl, by Hank Phillippi Ryan
  • A Killing at Cotton Hill, by Terry Shames

THE CALAMARI (Best mystery novel set anywhere else in the world)

  • How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny
  • Murder Below Montparnasse, by Cara Black
  • Hour of the Rat, by Lisa Brackmann
  • As She Left It, by Catriona McPherson
  • Mykonos After Midnight, by Jeffrey Siger

As always, we extend congratulations to the winners and to all the nominees. Left Coast Crime winds up Sunday morning!

Mar 012014

Another new month means it's time for another look inside UK and other European crime fiction through the eyes of UK crime author, critic and general man-about-town Mike Ripley. His latest Getting Away with Murder column for Shots Crime & Thriller e-Zine has now been released, and it's his usual witty look at a remarkable number of topics related to each other only by their fascination with crime. 

On the Ripster's mind this month, among other topics::

  • A somewhat jaundiced report on Nordicana;
  • Reflections on various TV series;
  • A new book from Irish author Declan Hughes;
  • Thrillers about skiing;
  • A couple of thrillers from Austria;
  • Reflections on the genetic deformities of Richard III;
  • Republications of an English book about an American private eye;
  • The disappearing Ellis Peters Award for historical mysteries;
  • Silver jubilees for a couple of Mike's books and others;
  • Word of a couple of new British Library republications of classic, if little-known, crime fiction (which will, eventually, be reviewed here!);
  • Cheers for republication of some Ellery Queen novels;
  • More about Ripley's new Albert Campion novel, based on Margery Allingham's character;
  • novels from Australia and Cuba;
  • and some new graphic art that might make a new logo for the Detection Club.

There's a lot to enjoy here, so dig right in!



Feb 272014

Love mysteries - any and all genres - and looking for new ones to read and enjoy? The latest bi-monthly edition of the I Love a Mystery Newsletter has been posted by editor Sally Powers. It includes (by my count) 94 separate reviews of new or newly-reissued mysteries. There's something here for just about any taste.

Yes, I have some reviews there as well - three of them this time, all grouped together in the Classic Corner section of the newsletter. If you haven't visited yet, use one of the links. It's free, and you're almost certain to find a new mystery and/or new author who would appeal to you. Please give it a try!

Feb 192014

Heading for Monterey, California, next month for Left Coast Crime 2014 - or, as the organizaers are calling it, Calamari Crime? If so - or even if you're still deciding ' you might enjoy seeing the many MANY panel discussions planned for the four days of the conference. I've been invited to join one of the panels called Mystery Aficionados: the Books We Love and Why. It should be a lively discussion. With up to five panel sessions going simultaneously all day every day, there should be more than enough information and entertainment for fans of every possible mystery sub-genre.

Of course, as always, there's more going on than just the panels; here's a tentative schedule for the other events as well. This will be my first time at Left Coast Crime, and I'm looking forward to it. Will I see you there?

Feb 132014

An aristocratic British family, in the years just after World War I. A country manor home in a small English village named Dovecote Hatch. A staff of more or less devoted house servants below-stairs, headed by a smart and feisty housekeeper. A great number of family secrets. And murder. A couple of them, in fact.

Sound like the ingredients for a good classic mystery from the Golden Age of British detective fiction? Not quite. What you have is Murder at Mullings, a brand-new mystery along traditional lines by Dorothy Cannell, published by Severn House. It's available now in the UK, but I believe it is scheduled for release in the US on May 1. That's the day before this year's Malice Domestic conference opens, a conference which will be presenting Dorothy Cannell (and Margaret Maron) with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

As I hadn't read any Dorothy Cannell books, I asked Severn House if I could see a copy of Murder at Mullings, and they graciously provided me with a review copy. I'm glad they did - it's really quite well done. It is billed as being the first in a new series from Cannell featuring Florence Norris, the housekeeper at the estate known as Mullings. Smart, efficient, and deeply tied to the aristocratic (but hopelessly dull, as far as their neighbors were concerned) Stodmarsh family, Mrs. Norris does what she can to help and protect the family. She witnesses what she is pretty sure is a murder - though she cannot prove it - and, some years later, finds herself caught up in another case of murder within the family. Because of her position in the household, she finds herself able to work with the police to see past a fair number of red herrings and find the real culprit.

Oh, and did I mention the ornamental hermit, whose presence is critical to the story? And what, you may ask, is an ornametal hermit? An ornamental hermit is a person hired to add a certain amount of color and drama to an aristocrat's estate. The aristocrat would provide food and a hut somewhere on the grounds for shelter. According to the description in Murder at Mullings: 

"Essential requirements for an ornamental hermit included never cutting his hair, beard or nails, and upon leaving his shelter he meandered with his head bowed above an open Bible. The very air around him was steeped in saintly melancholy. It was a delightful fillip for house guests to espy him amidst the groves or by a woodland stream, as it was incumbent on him to ensure they did."

Yes, there really were such people. There's a great deal more to learn about ornamental hermits in general and about Mullings and Florence Norris too, for that matter, not to mention a couple of nasty murders. If you like traditional mystery plots with - forgive the word - "cozy" atmospherics, you'll find Dorothy Cannell's Murder at Mullings quite an agreeable way to pass an evening. I'm looking forward to hearing her speak at Malice Domestic in May.

Feb 042014

Dorothy Salisbury Davis is a first-rate American author - one who, happily, is nearing her 98th birthday. The e-book publishers at Open Road Integrated Media just announced that 22 books by Davis - 21 novels and an anthology of short stories - are being made available as e-books.

I am not all that familiar with Davis's work - much of it done in the 1950s and 1960s - but she is very widely regarded as one of the leading American mystery writers, having received the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, not to mention lifetime achievement Anthony and Agatha awards from Bouchercon and Malice Domestic respectively.

The one work of hers that I have read recently is the short story "Lost Generation," which was included in Sarah Weinman's recent anthology, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives. It is a profoundly disturbing and powerful story, and I do recommend it. I believe it is also contained in the anthology, Tales of a Stormy Night, which is one of the books being republished by Open Road. You can find most of them on her Open Road author page.

I have said many times that one of the things I hope will be accomplished by the widening availability and acceptance of e-books is the return to "print" of a great many fine authors in all mystery genres, for the enjoyment of a new generation of readers. It's a goal I'm happy to see being achieved by Open Road.

Jan 302014

Malice Domestic, the organization behind the annual conference of traditional mystery readers and authors, has announced the nominees for this year's Agatha Awards. The envelopes, please...

Best Historical Novel

  • Heirs and Graces, by Rhys Bowen
  • Death in the Time of Ice, by Kaye George
  • A Friendly Game of Murder, by JJ Murphy
  • Murder in Chelsea, by Victoria Thompson
  • A Question of Honor, by Charles Todd

Best Children's/YA Nominations

  • The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Traitor in the Shipyard: A Caroline Mystery, by Kathleen Ernst
  • Andi Unexpected, by Amanda Flower
  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein
  • Code Busters Club: Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure, by Penny Warner

Best Contemporary Novel

  • Through the Evil Days, by Julia Spencer
  • Pagan Spring, by G. M. Malliet
  • How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny
  • Clammed Up, by Barbara Ross
  • The Wrong Girl, by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Nonfiction

  • Georgette Heyer, by Jennifer Kloester
  • Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, by Maria Konnikova
  • Not Everyone's Cup of Tea: An Interesting & Entertaining History of Malice Domestic's First 25 Years, by Verena Rose and Rita Owen (editors)
  • The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War, by Daniel Stashower

Best First Novel

  • Death Al Dente, by Leslie Budewitz
  • You Cannot Die Once, by Shelley Costa
  • Board Stiff, by Kendel Lynn
  • Kneading to Die, by Liz Mugavero
  • Front Page Fatality, by LynDee Walker

Best Short Story

  • "Evil Little Girl" in Don't Get Mad, Get Even, by Barb Goffman
  • "Nightmare" in Don't Get Mad, Get Even, by Barb Goffman
  • "The Hindi Houdini" in Fish Nets, by Gigi Pandian
  • "Bread Baby" in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, by Barbara Ross
  • "The Care and Feeding of House Plants" in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, by Art Taylor

The winners will be determined by votes cast by those attending the 26th annual Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda, MD, from May 2 through May 4, with the awards being presented at a gala banquet at the festivities. Congratulations are in order for all the nominees.

Jan 292014

I have some more information to share about the new book featuring Albert Campion, coming later this spring. As I wrote yesterday, Mike Ripley has completed a hitherto-unfinished book about Mr. Campion, the character created by Margery Allingham - a book left unfinished at the death of Ms. Allingham's husband, Philip Youngman Carter. It will be called Mr. Campion's Farewell.

Mike Ripley has sent me a note with some more details:

As I make clear in “Mr Campion’s Farewell” it is a continuation of an untitled third solo novel by Youngman Carter. He only managed four chapters before he died in November 1969.

I am well aware of his two Campion novels - as I edited new editions of them for Ostara Publishing last year!

Having read several of Youngman Carter’s short stories (the majority published in Argosy actually), his journalism, his travel writing and even his poetry (!) as background, I can certainly spot his influence on Margery’s character Albert Campion, notably in the earlier books, say 1930-38, and again in the post WWII period, though his collaboration with his wife (which she always admitted) tailed off after about 1950 when he was doing other things.

He got back into Campion to finish off “Cargo of Eagles” when Margery died in 1966 and was the logical choice to keep the series going.

I'm looking forward to reading this one, when it's published. Severn House will be releasing it in the UK in March, with an ebook and a US edition coming a couple of months later.

Ripley did also comment on the growing number of revivals of popular detectives:

My crack about “other revived detectives are available” refers to the latest Lord Peter Wimsey novel (out last month here) by Jill Paton Walsh and the new Hercule Poirot novel coming in September from Sophie Hannah, not to mention a recent James Bond and the much-threatened return of Philip Marlowe....It seems you just can’t keep good characters down.


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