Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bouchercon 2014: I never knew there was a police code for "dinner"

Relaxing in my local coffeehouse (my L.A. local, not my Philadelphia local), regaining my power of coherent thought after six days of hard drivin', low-sleepin' fun at Bouchercon 2014.  Here are some things that stuck with me from the convention's panels.

Lots of these in Long Beach. All photos by
Peter Rozovsky, your humble blogkeeper
1) Connie Dial, a Los Angeles cop turned crime novelist, said during Thursday's panel on crime in Hollywood  when she worked patrol in South Central L.A., "You'd ask for a Code 7, which was dinner, and they'd say, "Take twenty more calls."

2) Someone recalled the lavish spread provided for the crew during filming at a police precinct house, a spread whose appeal extended well beyond the police station in question? "Cops came from everywhere to eat." Walpow also recounted the snacking habits of the movie's star, Paul Newman: "Newman wandered around the station ... He ate them out of jelly beans."

Kwei Quartey
3) Kwei Quartey's suggestion that writing crime fiction set in his native Ghana poses challenges that fiction set in large American cities does not. Why? Because Ghana is changing so rapidly, over the course of months rather than years.

John McFetridge
4) John McFetridge recalling a rewriting of the history behind his novel Black Rock, whose principal crime is a series of killings of young women based on real-life killing in Montreal in 1970. His research turned up suggestions that authorities had issued warning for young women to be wary, but McFetridge's sister, about the same age as the victims, said she recalled no such warnings. "I thought that was a bit of revisionist history," McFetridge said, "`We should have warned them, but we didn't. Now we're claiming we did.'"

Ragnar Jonasson
5) Ragnar Jonasson's debunking of the popular belief that weapons are scarce in his native Iceland. Guns are plentiful there, he said, and so, in a nation of hunters, are guns.
Chris Ewan

6) Chris Ewan, crime novelist and resident of the Isle of Man, on a difference between Manx Halloween customs and those in American and England: "It's not easy to carve a turnip."

7) I wish I could remember which author described the process of research and writing this: "You get out in the world. Then you go hermit. You don't wear pants for nine months."

8) DBB favorite Adrian McKinty won the Barry Award in the best paperback original category for I Hear the Sirens in the Street.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Blogger Unknown said...

I always learn something from you on your site. While I knew about the cop code for taking a meal break -- the ten-codes for virtually everything cops do -- I did not know about Iceland and guns; however, I should have guessed as much based on my year-and-a-half in Iceland because of how much I learned about the very strict customs regulations. Yet there is this: except for the puffin or partridges (and I do not know about any other wildlife), I do not recall much people could "hunt" in Iceland, unless you want to count a deranged horse or homicidal sheep. I wish I could have been there to ask the Icelander a few questions about the reasons for the guns: self-protection? hunting? shooting fish in a barrel in the backyard when bored on a long winter night?

November 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sounds like you have some questions lined up for Bouchercon, or for the Iceland Noir festival, which happens each year around this time.

November 19, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...


The gun info was interesting.

I've just finished Rebecca Solnitt's book Wanderlust and she talks about the difference between hunting in N America (and presumably Scandinavia) and England.

"While hunting in N America is sometimes an important source of food for poor, rural and indigenous people in England it is an elite sport."

This I think is the difference in the two cultures attitude towards guns. In Iceland and rural Ireland ordinary people still go hunting with guns whereas in England and Scotland only rich people do that.

November 19, 2014  
Blogger Philip Amos said...

Peter, what John says about the 1970 Montreal murder case is interesting indeed. First, that was at a time when many authorities were opposed to such warnings for fear of spreading panic -- not sound thinking. But 1970 was also the year of the FLQ crisis, as you certainly know. I have good reason to remember it well. First, I was on a plane to Toronto from London when some comedian made a call claiming there was a bomb on my plane. What ensued for me that day was so bizarre that still now I'm asked to tell the tale at dinner parties.

A little over a month later there came the murder of politician Pierre Laporte and kidnapping of British diplomat James Cross. And, of course, PM Trudeau declared a state of emergency. Thus, I have to suspect that even if a warning re the murder had been issued it would have been 'lost' in the general melee of crisis, but then again that crisis makes it even less likely that a warning would have been issued, I think.

November 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, that makes sense and might explain why we so love our guns here in America. At the same time, Ragnar concedes the difficulty of writing crime fiction is a country with so little crime. In U.S. cities, people are afraid of being shot. I should ask these Nordic crime writers what people are afraid of in Iceland and its one city.

November 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philip, John said during the panel in question that police officers at the time worried more about ordinary crimes, such as the murders of the young women, than they did about the terrorists. That may surprise readers today, especially readers in the U.S.

November 20, 2014  
Blogger Paul D Brazill said...

We used to use turnips for Halloween when I was a kid. Didn't know what a pumpkin was.

November 21, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I would imagine that carving turnips builds strength in one's forearms.

Where did you grow up? Chris lives in the Isle of Man now. Perhaps that area has particular cultural ties of long standing with the Isle of Man.

November 21, 2014  
Blogger Paul D Brazill said...

North east of England. But it's probably an age thing. Chris is considerably younger than me.

November 21, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Maybe turnip carving is an old custom that has hung on longer on the Isle of Man than it has elsewhere.

November 22, 2014  
Anonymous Nathan Walpow said...

I would've been happy to watch Paul Newman eat jelly beans, but this wasn't me.

April 15, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Correction on the way.

April 15, 2016  

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