Friday, May 31, 2013

Convivial quayside kebab with Karim at Crimefest

Peter Guttridge (left) with crime critic/kebab eater Ali Karim.
When the pace slackens and the volume starts to die down at the Crimefest hotel bar, somebody says: "Hey, Ali! Let's go for a kebab!"

Only hours after the photo above was snapped, I joined Ali Karim and Mike Stotter for refreshment procured from a late-night kebabery and consumed on a quayside bench. By day, Bristol's quay bustles. By night, under the stars of a cool spring sky, it's a delightful place to recount the highlights of the festival's first day.

For me, these included:
  1. Valerio Varesi's citation of Carlo Emilio Gadda as a forefather of Italian crime writing. I'd mentioned Giorgio Scerbanenco as one such but, since the introduction to my edition of Gadda's That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana invokes such names as Robert Musil and James Joyce, I'd figured Italians might regard Gadda as a literary rather than a crime writer. Varesi thanked me for citing Scerbanenco, but he also said: "There's another great forerunner: Carlo Emilio Gadda."  Varesi also said, in response to a question from the floor about which countries' crime fiction each of the panel's authors liked to read, that he enjoyed French crime writing. This made sense to me, as his atmospheric fiction reminds me a bit of Georges Simenon, Fred Vargas, and Pierre Magnan.
  2. Meeting up with Detectives Beyond Borders favorite John Lawton,  and buttonholing guest of honor William McIlvanney at the bar and finding that this author of the Laidlaw novels, revered by authors and readers as the father of Scottish crime writing, is a fine gentleman.
  3. My pub quiz team's coming within a second tie-breaker question of being the first group or person ever to best Martin Edwards at anything at Crimefest.
On to Day 2, and the arrival of the Irish crime writers.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Crimefest 2013: Youth serves, plus a question

As I prepare to his the road for Crimefest 2013, here's the last in a series of posts about past Crimefests or authors I met there. Today's featured author is the still-yourthful Chris Ewan.
Before I get back to Len Tyler's The Herring-Seller's Apprentice, one last remark about Chris Ewan's The Good Thief's Guide to Paris, specifically, this bit of description toward the novel's end:
"The sky looked bleached, as though the colour had been drained from it. Shreds of cloud were being reflected over and over again in the windows of the arch; like a desktop image that had been endlessly repeated on a stack of computer monitors." (Emphasis mine.)

Elsewhere, Ewan uses impact as a verb a time or two without driving me nuts.

Why mention this? And what connection do the image and the impact have? Just this: I don't think an author much older than Ewan would have come up with the first or pulled off the second. Ewan is in his early thirties, according to his Web site, which means he's probably been around computers most of his life. They likely are a greater part of that stock of images, memories and concepts that form his world view, the familiar for which he reaches when he wants to describe something unfamiliar, than they would be for someone only a few years older.

Similarly, impact as a verb in the hands of younger writers like Ewan may be evolving from the horrible tool of obfuscation and self-importance that businessmen and politicians make of it into a more neutral synonym for affect. It may not be my favorite verb in English's rich lexicon, but it feels pretty natural in this book.
What quirks of style or vocabulary mark a writer as a member of a given age group or generation?
© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Monday, May 27, 2013

And another thing about Crimefest

On the eve of Crimefest 2013 (or, if you prefer, on the threshold or the cusp), here's a reminder from one of my previous trips to that festival that there's more than crime to this fest.
  I've written about my trip to Bristol, England, for CrimeFest 2009. I failed to mention that Bristol is home to Aardman Animations, which means it's also home to those two lovable characters at left.

Unfortunately, though Wallace and Gromit are featured in a promotional poster for Bristol, our guide said Aardman offers no tours. Instead, then, why not hop over and catch the duo at their own Web site?

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

McKinty's stock rises; analysts say buy

The Wall Street Journal profiles Detectives Beyond Borders favorite Adrian McKinty on the occasion of the U.S. release of I Hear the Sirens in the Street, a novel as good at its title.

The article also invokes McKinty's "Dead" trilogy: Dead I Well May Be, The Dead Yard, and The Bloomsday Dead, the books that got me reading McKinty.

Not many newspapers devote space to crime fiction these days, so props to the folks at the Wall Street Journal. Something is happening, and you know what it is, Mr. Dow-Jones.
McKinty's novel The Cold Cold Ground recently won a 2013 Spinetingler Award for best novel. That's a worthy feat; those Spinetingler folks and the people who follow them are some of the sharper and more discerning minds in the crime community. And hey, we Spinetingler winners have to stick together.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Off to Crimefest: Anne Zouroudi's languid island crime

I'm off to Crimefest 2013  in Bristol this week. While I pack my passport and toothbrush, I'm revisiting a few posts about some of the authors whom I'll join there. I might not have read Anne Zouroudi's Messenger of Athens had she not been on one of my panels at Bouchercon in 2011, but let me tell you: I'm glad Zouroudi made it to Bouchercon that year. She is a master of slow, languid pace, of lives stoically lived, and of wrongs righted without sentimentality. What a sense of phsyical and human place. For today's Crimefest blog post, give a big, fat γειά σου to Anne Zouroudi.
Anne Zouroudi reminds me of Pierre Magnan.  In Magnan's novels, I wrote:
"Consequences unfold slowly, if at all, and characters accept them stoically or with good-humored resignation or silent suffering or secret relief."
Magnan set his novels in rural France; Zouroudi sets The Messenger of Athens on a small Greek island. Her languid storytelling suggests a languid pace of rural life, with dark secrets emerging only slowly, and everyone getting the chance to relate events as he or she saw them.

Into this slow boil comes an investigator from Athens by the name of Hermes Diaktoros (the same name as the messenger of the Olympian gods), sent to investigate a death the locals insist was a suicide. The ancient Hermes was supernaturally strong and wore winged shoes; this one's epithet is "the fat man" and, though he stirs things up in ways some residents don't like, he's content to adopt the leisurely local pace, albeit with the occasional sly joke at which only he smiles.

I'll see how the mystery unfolds. In the meantime, I like this protagonist.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Noir at the New Hope Bar

From left: Wallace Stroby, William Hastings, Dennis Tafoya, Scott Adlerberg

Noir at the Bar made a convivial, entertaining, informative return on Thursday evening to the state where it was born. The place was John and Peter's in New Hope, Pa., the literary midwife was Farley's Bookshop, and the author/readers were Wallace Stroby, William Hastings, Dennis Tafoya, Scott Adlerberg, and Don Lafferty.

Highlights included Stroby on why he called his upcoming novel Shoot the Woman First, Tafoya with a stunningly good bit of post-violence emotional confrontation from a novel that should see the light of day next year, and three guys who were either new to me or who I had not known were writers in addition to their accomplishments in other fields.

I may post more after a good night's sleep, but for now, I was pleased with the happy medium we achieved between my original one- or two-author Noirs at the Bar (I started the concept in 2008), with a question-and-answer session with each writer; and the high-spirited literary mosh pits that Jedidiah Ayres and Scott Phillips made of their events in St. Louis. (Noir at the Bar has since spread to New York, Los Angeles, Austin, I believe San Diego, and, in an unprecedented harmonic Noir at the Bar convergence, Denver, where a Noir at the Bar also took place last night.)

Each  of the five authors here in New Hope read from his work, I threw out a question, and the questions turned into discussions, with all the writers eventually gathering on stage to take matters largely into their own hands.  I'd like to do this again, and I think we will. The original Noir at the Bar lives.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Ah refuse tae be victimised": William McIlvanney and Glasgow patter

I'm off to Crimefest in Bristol next week, so I thought I'd revisit a post or two about some of the featured guests at this year's edition of this fine crime fiction festival in South West England.  Foremost among those guests is William McIlvanney, the father of tartan noir and the author of Laidlaw, The Papers of Tony Veitch, and Strange Loyalties.
One often sees warnings against writing in dialect, but it works in passages like this, from William McIlvanney's 1977 novel Laidlaw:

"Ma lassie's missin'"

"We don't know that, Mr. Lawson. ... She could've missed a bus. She wouldn't be able to inform you. She could be staying with a friend."

"Whit freen'? Ah'd like tae see her try it?"

is an adult person, Mr. Lawson."

"Is she hell! She's eighteen. Ah'll tell her when she's an adult. That's the trouble nooadays. Auld men before their faythers. Ah stand for nothin' like that in ma hoose. Noo whit the hell are yese goin' to do aboot this?"
Here's how the narrator describes Mr. Lawson:

" ... his anger was displaced. It was in transit, like a lorry-load of iron, and he was looking for someone to dump it on. His jacket had been thrown on over an open-necked shirt. A Rangers football-scarf was spilling out from the lapels.

"Looking at him, Laidlaw saw one of life's vigilantes, a retribution-monger. For everything that happened there was somebody else to blame, and he was the very man to deal with them. Laidlaw was sure his anger didn't stop at people. He could imagine him shredding ties that wouldn't knot properly, stamping burst tubes of toothpaste into the floor. His face looked like an argument you couldn't win."
The dialect works because it's part of the whole package, and no easy, condescending shortcut. Or maybe it's just that Lawson's speech sounds vividly in my head because of my recent listening to this. (Read about Glasgow patter here and here.)

And maybe, just maybe, it's because McIlvanney gives Lawson a line whose psychobabblish content sits comically against its Glaswegian accent: "Ah refuse tae be victimized."

And now your thoughts, please, on dialect, when it works, when it doesn't, why and whether authors should be especially careful with it. Examples welcome.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Noir at the Bar brings it all back home this Thursday

If you're in Pennsylvania, New York, or New Jersey, or if you can get there by 9 p.m. Thursday, come on out to John & Peter's at 96 South Main St. in New Hope, Pennsylvania, for the return of the original Noir at the Bar.

Dennis Tafoya and Wallace Stroby, both of whom I've written about here, will read from new work, and Scott Adlerberg, previously unknown to me, will join them. Tafoya, a reader in the original Noir at the Bar series, becomes the first two-time guest in the state where Noir at the Bar was born.

I started Noir at the Bar in 2008 and good people and talented writers in St. Louis, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Denver, and elsewhere took the idea, ran with it, and staged Noirs at the Bar of their own. So, thanks to Scott Phillips, Jed Ayres, Eric Beetner, Scott at Mystery People, Todd Robinson, and anyone else who ever threw a Noir at the Bar. Drop me a line here, and I'll give you a plug Thursday night.

And thanks to the hardworking, crime-loving folks at Farley's Bookshop for putting this thing together.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fred and Ed

I posted six years ago and again in 2011 about Ed McBain's far-flung influence on other crime writers, citing tributes from such authors as Ireland's Ken Bruen, Britain's David Hewson, and Sweden's Kjell Eriksson.

Still, I was gobsmacked when doing research for a review of Fred Vargas' latest novel to find that she, too, reveres the author of the 87th Precinct mysteries. "I am reading him for the third time," she told L'Express two years ago. McBain, she said, would "write a novel with five intersecting stories, and there was no relationship between them."

Quirky, fey Fred Vargas? I thought. Tough, gritty, Ed McBain? But by God, The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, the novel that was the subject of my review and the occasion of Vargas' Express interview, juggles stories big and small, bringing them beautifully to the appropriate degree of conclusion, just as McBain did in Nocturne, the best of the few 87th Precinct books I've read.

And now readers, your question: What are your favorite examples of surprising literary influence?
(Read the Detectives Beyond Borders interview with Fred Vargas.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Friday, May 17, 2013

A degenerate American in Paris

I don't know what Scott Phillips got up to when he lived in Paris, but the protagonist of his new novel, Rake, set in that city, kidnaps an arms merchant, tries to swing a movie deal, and carries on simultaneous affairs with four women (so far), each more attractive, sexually imaginative, or both, than the last.

The protagonist, as cheerfully amoral and self-involved as he is, is a new kind of American outsider: an ex-Green Beret skilled in the killing arts and unable to restrain himself from using them, but also the star of an old American soap opera that has made him a star in France.

Sure, he's am immature, self-involved jerk, but he happily admits craving the attention he gets from ordinary Frenchmen and women who confuse him with his soap-opera character, so it's hard to dislike the guy.

And now, while I finish reading this latest book by the author of The Adjustment, The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway, and more, tell me 1) Who is your favorite likable bad guy in a non-cozy crime novel?, and 2) Who is your favorite ex-pat American character, in Paris or elsewhere, in crime fiction?
Scott Phillips was one of my "Eight crime writers worth tracking down," as seen in the Philadelphia Inquirer in December.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mad Italian shorts

Thanks, readers. Commenting on Monday's post about short stories, one of you suggested Pirandello's "The Fly." That led me to a collection of Pirandello's shorts called Tales of Madness, a selection from his aborted project to write a short story a day for a year. (Another collection from the project is called Tales of Suicide, but don't worry. Pirandello was not as downbeat as all that.)

To my surprise, the collection's first story is a crime story, pure and not so simple. Not a detective story, though it contains a murder and is almost all mystery.

Here's how the story, "Who Did It?", begins:

"Then you tell me who did it, if what I say just makes all of you laugh. But at least free Andrea Sanserra, who is innocent. He didn't keep our appointment, I repeat for the hundredth time. And now let's talk about me."
Its end ought both to satisfy readers who crave twist endings to their short stories, and to make those same readers ponder the subject raised in the collection's title. If only more crime stories could make their readers think as much about what they've just read as this one did.
A commenter informs me that May is Short Story Month. Thanks, Paul.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Monday, May 13, 2013

DBB slips into some shorts

Spring is a good time for shorts, and that's what I've been reading a lot of these days, a f*ckload of shorts, in one case. The list has included:
  1. Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens by Michael Gilbert
  2. Erased and Other Stories by author, cameraman, and Detectives Beyond Borders friend Thomas Kaufman
  3. A F*ckload of Shorts by cozy writer Jedidiah Ayres
  4. Short Sentence by miscellaneous and, saving the best for last,
  5. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," by Ambrose Bierce
I suspect I'll have something to say about several of these items, whether about Gilbert's deadpan hard-boiled humor, Ayres' multiple points of view and general degeneracy, or artful, surprising but non-gimmicky endings by Kaufman and in Anne Zouroudi's contribution to Short Sentence.

Click on the the Bierce title above and read the story free online. When you get your breath back, see if you can guess how I think Bierce addresses the great philosophical problem of almost all crime fiction.

In the meantime, what are your favorite stories, crime or otherwise, and why do you like them?
A kind DBB reader sends a link to this Oscar-winning 1962 film adaptation of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."
A commenter informs me that May is Short Story Month. Thanks, Paul.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Algeria is to France and Vietnam to the U.S. as ? is to ?

I'd decided to let Algeria lie for a while until a pair of passages in Fred Vargas' The Ghost Riders of Ordebec made me realize Algeria must have penetrated the French consciousness and conscience the way Vietnam did in the United States.

The character in question (dead by the time the novel begins and invoked for his abominable conduct in the community and toward his family) is said to have had a bullet lodged in his head from the Algerian War, and to have been

"taken off active service and they put him into interrogations. Torturing people." 
Revelations of torture during the war shocked the French public, and the matter still comes up in occasional legal cases.  That Vargas could invoke torture and Algeria in a novel published in 2011 (English translation, 2013) suggests at least some in France are still haunted by the subject, and the character in Vargas' book said to have engaged in torture suggests that Vargas regards torture as the materialization of the worst that France has ever done and torturers as the real-life embodiment of the evil spirit always hinted at in her books.

If Algeria is France's conscience and its nightmare, if Vietnam played a similar role for the United States, what are their counterparts for other countries? And have those counterparts appeared in crime fiction?
(Read the Detectives Beyond Borders interview with Fred Vargas.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Noir at the Bar comes back home

Philco 90 cathedral-style radio, 1931
Noir at the Bar is a quintessential Philadelphia phenomenon: It started here before other people took it elsewhere and made it bigger and better. But, while Philadelphia is no likelier to resume its status as the U.S. capital any time soon than Philco is to start making radios again, Noir at the Bar is coming back home.

The date is Thursday, May 23, the time is 9 p.m., the bar is John & Peter's at 96 South Main St. in New Hope, PA, and the noir is courtesy of Wallace Stroby and Dennis Tafoya, plus a special guest or two. Sponsors are the good folks at the excellent Farley's Bookshop, purveyors of fine reading material at Noircon since 2010.

Noir at the Bar has become an international phenomenon since I started it in June 2008, first guest Philadelphia's own Duane Swierczynski. Los Angeles has a Noir at the Bar series. There's one in New York. Austin, Texas, has staged a Noir at the Bar. Declan Burke and John McFetridge came to Philadelphia for a special international Noir at the Bar, and I hosted an evening with Sean Chercover and Howard Shrier in Toronto a few years ago. But the kings of neo-Noir at the Bar are Jedidiah Ayres and Scott Phillips, whose St. Louis Noirs at the Bar have spawned not one, but two collections of short fiction.   Jed and Scott: Make it to New Hope, and I'll buy you a drink.

And the rest of you are invited, too. Long live the New Original Noir at the Bar!

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Fred Vargas' ghosts

Early in The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, Fred Vargas takes her odd, intuitive protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, to Normandy, where he comes up against a police captain almost as unconventional as he is. Neither, for example, can stand being cooped up too long; both, apparently, like to chew over cases while on long walks, not a conventional police technique, at least in fiction.

The Ghosts Riders of Ordebec is Vargas' seventh Adamsberg novel, and her clever turn on small-town cop who resents his opposite number from the big city (Adamsberg is based in Paris) is one way to keep a longish series fresh. How do your favorite long-series crime writers manage that trick?
The ghosts of the title refer the avenging marauders of a thousand-year-old Ordebec legend and, in the opening pages, Vargas integrates the weirdness seamlessly into the story. I'm no reader of fantasy, but Vargas' world is one that very closely resembles our own, except that beliefs, tales, even professions, from the Middle Ages fit in perfectly. (No accident there; Vargas is a historian and archaeologist specializing in the Middle Ages when she's not writing crime novels.)
(Read the Detectives Beyond Borders interview with Fred Vargas. Read an interview from earlier in Vargas' career that offers insight into her political involvement. Read a two-part Detectives Beyond Borders interview with Vargas' versatile, award-winning translator, Sian Reynolds.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Monday, May 06, 2013

North Africa: A History From Antiquity to the Present with a couple of mistakes

The latest book in my Maghrebi jones, North Africa: A History from Antiquity to the Present by Phillip C. Naylor, has a few exasperating flaws, but it's a fine introduction. One review suggests it might make a good introductory textbook, and it does.

First the good: The book's wide chronological scope allows Naylor to discern patterns that persist over time in a given culture or country. Muammar Qadhafi was not the first ruler who failed to build civic and other social institutions in Libya, for example.  Among other things, I appreciate Naylor's lack of sentimentality and excuse-making over post-colonial troubles in North Africa.

On the minus side, the proofreader apparently lost interest in the book's final chapters, leaving a reference to the former United Nations Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar as José Pérez de Cuéllar. And the Egyptian statesman whose name is variously spelled elsewhere Saad Zaghloul or Zaghlûl appears throughout Naylor's book as Zaghul, no first l. I don't know if this is due to some vicissitude of transliteration or pronunciation, but it sure looks odd. If the spelling is not simply a mistake, the author should have explained his decision to render the name as he did. Explanations of spellings are routine in books that render names from non-Roman alphabets into English.

I also don't care for Naylor'a love of the odd locution "equates with." Why not "amounts to" or even "means"? And the author gets wifty when summing up postcolonial theory--but then, who wouldn't? Such matters are probably dealt with in longer discussion than this survey permits, or else by reading the original sources.

I do, however, find useful Naylor's assessment that postcolonial discourse abandons binary considerations, the insistence that cultures, countries, and their populations are either modern or outmoded, Western or Eastern, and so on. And mostly I like his last chapter, which amounts to a checklist of contemporary writers from Morocco, Tunisian, Libya, Algeria, and Egypt. That just may feed my craving.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Saturday, May 04, 2013

Table 35: More from the Edgar Awards

More news from Thursday's Edgar Awards dinner, meat, potatoes, and prizes courtesy of the Mystery Writers of America:
  1. I sat at the Soho table again this year, which meant I renewed acquaintances with the affable Ed Lin, whom I'd met previously at Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland. Back then I'd been interested to learn that he has a novel set in Taiwan upcoming from Soho. This time, talk turned to his three novels set in New York's Chinatown around 1975. Lin said he chose that period because of turbulent events of the time on the Chinese mainland and in Taiwan, with old leaders dead or dying, and the Cultural Revolution drawing to an end.  What does that have to do with a troubled Chinese-American Vietnam vet cop in New York? I don't know, but I'm eager to find out. The novels are This is a Bust, Snakes Can't Run, and One Red Bastard.
  2. Dennis Lehane, whose Live By Night won the best-novel Edgar, drew appreciative nods and murmurs for expressing his gratitude to bookstores. He also thanked libraries for putting books into the hands of "a kid from the wrong side of the tracks" free of charge.
  3. Ken Follett, named a grand master along with Margaret Maron, displayed an enthusiasm for his work that made me think it must be great fun to write massively successful international thrillers. I haven't read Follett, but I may do so now. And that's what I like best about conventions and other crime-fiction events: Meeting, talking with, or just hearing new (or new to me) authors and, because of those meetings, getting excited about reading their work.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Friday, May 03, 2013

Edgar Night 2013

No joy for Alan Glynn, Declan Burke, and John Connolly at the 2013 Edgar Awards Thursday, as Glynn's Bloodland lost out to The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters for best paperback original, and the Burke- and Connolly-edited Books to Die For was bested in the best critical/biographical category by James O'Brien's The Scientific Sherlock Holmes.

On the other hand, I did discover a crime writer born in Northern Ireland whom I had not heard of before: Niall Leonard, whose Crusher was nominated in the best-young-adult novel category. And Paul French, mentioned recently in this space with a link to his discussion with Adrian McKinty and Parker Bilal at the Adelaide Writers' Festival, won the best-fact-crime Edgar for Midnight in Peking. French offered the tantalizing remark in his acceptance speech that more and more Western crime fiction is being translated in to Chinese with, as well, "more Chinese crime (fiction) for you."

Here's a partial list of nominees, with winners highlighted in red, and I'll be back with more tomorrow. Visit the Mystery Writers of America website for more.

The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Group USA – Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishers)
Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Sunset by Al Lamanda (Gale Cengage Learning – Five Star)
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
All I Did Was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley (Penguin Group USA – Riverhead Books)

The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay (Random House Publishing– Ballantine) Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Minotaur Books - Thomas Dunne Books) Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (Random House Publishing– Bantam Books)
The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers)
The 500 by Matthew Quirk (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Reagan Arthur)
Black Fridays by Michael Sears (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Complication by Isaac Adamson (Soft Skull Press)
Whiplash River by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow Paperbacks)
Bloodland by Alan Glynn (Picador)
Blessed are the Dead by Malla Nunn (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books - Emily Bestler Books)
The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French (Penguin Group USA – Penguin Books)
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers’ Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle, MD (Medallion Press)
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre (Crown Publishers)
The People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry (Farrar Straus & Giroux Originals)

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed by John Paul Athanasourelis (McFarland and Company)
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books – Emily Bestler Books)
The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James O’Brien (Oxford University Press)
In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero edited by Otto Penzler (Smart Pop)

"Iphigenia in Aulis" – An Apple for the Creature by Mike Carey (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
"Hot Sugar Blues" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Steve Liskow (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books) "The Void it Often Brings With It” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Tom Piccirilli (Dell Magazines)
"The Unremarkable Heart" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance by Karin Slaughter (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)
"Still Life No. 41" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Teresa Solana (Dell Magazines)

Ken Follett
Margaret Maron

Oline Cogdill
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, San Diego and Redondo Beach, CA

Akashic Books

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

"That line belongs in a crime novel"

"`It is raining on the city.' The streetlights have been on for two hours, lighting up the closed shutters and doors of silent facades. The city is still and secluded, cunning, hostile, and frightened... 
"This was a calm day, a sad autumn day..."
That would be a good opening for a crime story, maybe a novel by Simenon or something out of Northern Ireland, or for a piece of urban post-apocalyptic fantasy. But it's neither. What it is is the opening of the Algerian writer Mouloud Feraoun's journal of the French-Algerian war.  As if that opening is not ominous enough, Feraoun was murdered by the OAS three days before the cease-fire decreed by the French government under the accord that ended the war.

What kind of a story would you expect from a crime novel that began the way Feraoun began his journal?  What passages have you read outside of crime writing that would make good openings or descriptions in a crime novel?

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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