Tuesday, May 30, 2017

No crime in Sicily

Sicily is notoriously the home of the Mafia, but the closest thing to a crime I experienced there last week was Alitalia's kidnapping or murder of my luggage somewhere between Palermo and London, a crime, however, that I retain some hope will be solved. In the meantime, here are some photos from Palermo, Monreale, and their surroundings.

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Crimefest 2017, Part II: Savvy programming and more pictures

This year's Crimefest offered some clever programming, notably continued revision of the festival's final event. For years, that was a Criminal Mastermind quiz, which Martin Edwards won so many times that he was finally barred, and in which I finished second to Peter Guttridge in 2012 and would have won if the English could speak better English.

Barry Forshaw, Peter Guttridge, Mike Ripley
Last year's Sunday afternoon send-off pitted a team of three male crime writers against three female counterparts in a quiz that involved guns, wandering hands, and lots of salacious giggling. This year Barry Forshaw, author of the new book American Noir, faced Mike Ripley, author of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, about the Golden Age of the British thriller, in a quiz-cum-yukfest moderated by Guttridge. Once again, more good fun.

Steve Mosby, Kevin WIgnall
Earlier, Steve Mosby made a discerning and intelligent moderator of a panel on "Past And Present: Skipping Through Time To Create A Story," and I teased some good answers out of Parker Bilal and Katti Hiekkapelto in the question period that followed a panel on political crime fiction. And Kat Hall led Mario Giordano, Merle Kröger, Volker Kutscher, and Melanie Raabe through a discussion of German crime fiction that included brief readings in two languages. The authors read well.

Katti Hiekkapelto, Kjell Ola Dahl
And now, a few more photos from Crimefest 2017, by Peter Rozovsky on special assignment from Detectives Beyond Borders, except where noted.

Don Bartlett, Karen Sullivan
© Peter Rozovsky 2017
Steve Cavanagh

Bristol Cathedral
Nadia Dalbuono
Me at a panel, courtesy Ali Karim
Ali Karim and your humble blogkeeper prior to
bolstering our strength with beer and fish at
Catch 22 in Bristol.
Me, Martyn Waites, Kevin Wignall, and Mike
Stotter looking like a bunch of guys named Bert,

courtesy Ali Karim.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Crimefest 2017, Part I

Another edition of this fine Bristol crime fiction convention has wrapped up, the most enjoyable of the seven Crimefests I've attended even though a seagull shit on my head the convention's first day. Details of the convention will follow over the next few days, minus the bird shit.

Martin Edwards
In the meantime, a few words about Martin Edwards and Peter Lovesey, as entertaining and informative a combination of interviewer/moderator and subject//panelist as has ever graced a crime festival stage. I've read just a few novels from Lovesey's extensive output, but they include one of the best of all angry-cop novels (The Last Detective) and the most virtuosic performance by a crime writer that I have ever been privileged to read (Bertie and the Seven Bodies). Lovesey was a guest of honor at this year's Crimefest, and it was a pleasure to see him interviewed on stage by Edwards, to hear him hold forth during a panel on short stories, and to offer my compliments on his work, to which he reacted with humility and good humo(u)r.

Peter Lovesey
Edwards has changed my ideas about traditional mysteries, served as a model of how to moderate a panel, and won a number of crime fiction quizzes in which I finished second several times and fifth once. He was also a member of a panel I moderated at Bouchercon 2016 in New Orleans, where we enjoyed a convivial pre-convention dinner discussing his subject for the panel (Michael Gilbert), the legal profession (Edwards is a lawyer), and the differences between the profession as practiced in the United Kingdom and the U.S.

Edwards and Lovesey obviously love the work they do, are good at it, and are engaging and entertaining when talking about their own writing and the history of crime fiction. Edwards often attends Bouchercons and Lovesey will be a guest of honor at Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas. You should see these guys on this side of the ocean or that.

Kati Hiekkapelto
Janet Laurence, Peter Lovesey
And now, some more photos of Crimefest by Peter Rozovsky for Detectives Beyond Beyond Borders.

Parker Bilal, Steve Cavanagh
Paul Hardisty
© Peter Rozovsky 2017
Before the gala dinner
Ali Karim in the gutter, Mike
Stotter's eyes on the stars

At the convention hotel

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Leitmotifs, tag lines, and a question for readers

In Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy novels, it's the protagonist checking under his car for mercury tilt switch bombs. In Fred Vargas' Debout Les Morts (translated as The Three Evangelists), the glue is merde, in its various semantic and syntactic forms--that, and the tag line "il haussa les épaules" ("he shrugged [his] shoulders.")  And Max Allan Collins' Quarry novels always repeat the protagonist's back story, the part about his return from Vietnam to find his wife involved with another man whom he kills in a particularly creative manner and about the reason he avoids prison for the crime.

I've written before about leitmotifs in crime novels, what they contribute to a book's texture, its feeling. (This is not the sort of thing one often reads about in discussions of books.)
Max Allan Collins
"Leitmotifs in fiction are more than quirks," I wrote, "less than plot elements. A leitmotif should, according to a definition of leitmotifs' use in music, be "clearly identified so as to retain its identity if modified on subsequent appearances." Used well, it indicates an author in control of his or her material, with a firm idea of what kind of story he or she wants to tell. Leitmotifs might not come to mind right away if someone asks you what happens in a given novel, but they are part of what a novel is about, part of the world it creates."
Now it's your turn: What are your favorite tag lines and recurring motifs in crime novels or stories? What do such refrains add to a story?

 © Peter Rozovsky 2017

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Monday, May 01, 2017

At the 2017 Edgar Awards, with acceptance speeches!

Last year's Edgar Awards speeches by Sara Paretsky and Walter Mosley so impressed me that I thought the two authors would make a good presidential ticket. The only problem, I wrote, would be deciding who would take the top spot.

"It would have to be Sara Paretsky," Mosley said as we collected drinks at the Edgars bar (one of several bars, really) this year, which is one example of why I enjoy this annual gala: Mingling is fun for we fans, and sometimes the stars say entertaining things.

Max Allan Collins
Mosley was named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master at last year's Edgars; Max Allan Collins was one of this year's honorees, and a chat with him before the awards dinner was a highlight of the evening. I first met Max at the 2014 Bouchercon in Long Beach, where he was a panelist on a discussion I moderated on "Beyond Hammett and Chandler: Lesser Known Writers of the Pulp and Paperback Original Eras." Max was on that panel to talk about other authors, but I read one of his Quarry novels out of curiosity and liked it so much that I read in short order the rest of the books then available. (One more Quarry title has appeared since, and another is due later this year from Hard Case Crime, which has republished the entire series.)

Lawrence Block,
winner of the Best
Short Story Edgar
Max discussed Roy Huggins and Ennis Willie on that 2014 panel, and he was pleased to talk about Huggins with me again this year, about Huggins' influence on subsequent generations of crime writers through his co-creation of The Rockford Files. He also had some nice things to say about one of his publishers, complete with examples to back up his praise. Collins' appreciation of the crime genre and its history is bracing, and you should talk with him if you get the chance. In the meantime, hear and see his Grand Master acceptance speech on the MWA website at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZe5x2f-iBU

Lisa Lutz, Megan Abbott
The evening's other new Grand Master, Ellen Hart, exemplified something I love about crime conventions and other events: the chance to get acquainted with authors and genres out of my wheelhouse.  Hart is a lesbian, and she writes mysteries with lesbian protagonists that sound to me like cozies. Neither has been a part of my reading experience, and I found quite moving Hart's statement that her protagonists had been criticized for not being gay enough. That, I would imagine, is one more burden she has to bear that most other authors do not. You can hear and watch Hart's speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWiLaWsVId4

Donna Andrews
Among the awards, Adrian McKinty's capture of the Best Paperback Original award for Rain Dogs was a highlight. McKinty was home in Melbourne, but his wife, Leah, did a nice job accepting his prize. I've been a McKinty fan for years. You should be, too.

Charles Todd, Hank Phillippi
Ryan, Wendy Corsi Staub, nom-
inees for the Mary Higgins
Clark Award. Todd won.
Visit the MWA website at http://www.theedgars.com/nominees.html for a complete list of the Edgar Award winners and nominees.

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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