Friday, June 27, 2008
Every dollar helps.
Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation500 First Street SoutheastCedar Rapids, IA. 52401http://crlibrary.info/photos/20080621-FloodDamage/index.html
Friends of New Hartford Public LibraryP O Box 292New Hartford, IA. 50660http://www.newhartford.lib.ia.us/
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library30 Sixteenth Avenue SouthwestCedar Rapids, IA. 52401-5904http://www.ncsml.org/
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
John Connolly: The Unquiet (Hodder & Stoughton*/Atria)
David Corbett: Blood of Paradise (Ballantine Mortalis)
Deborah Crombie: Water Like a Stone (Morrow)
Laura Lippman: What the Dead Know (Morrow)
Best First Mystery
Tana French: In the Woods (Hodder & Stoughton*/Viking)
Joe Hill: Heart-Shaped Box (William Morrow)
Lisa Lutz: The Spellman Files (Simon & Schuster)
Tim Maleeny: Stealing the Dragon (Midnight Ink)
Matt Beynon Rees: The Collaborator of Bethlehem (Soho)
Donna Andrews: "A Rat's Tale" (EQMM, Sep-Oct 2007)
Rhys Bowen: "Please Watch Your Step" (The Strand Magazine, Spring 2007)
Jon L. Breen: "The Missing Elevator Puzzle" (EQMM, Feb 2007)
Beverle Graves Myers: "Brimstone P.I." (AHMM, May 2007)
Gillian Roberts: "The Old Wife's Tale" (EQMM, Mar-Apr 2007)
Barry Forshaw: Rough Guide to Crime Fiction (Penguin Rough Guides)
Jean Gould O'Connell: Chester Gould: A Daughter's Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy (McFarland & Company)
Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley, editors: Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters (HarperPress*/Penguin)
Lee Lofland: Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers (Howdunit Series, Writers Digest Books)
Roger Sobin, editor/compiler: The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians (Poisoned Pen Press)
Rhys Bowen: Her Royal Spyness (Penguin)
Ariana Franklin: Mistress of the Art of Death (Putnam)
Jason Goodwin: The Snake Stone (Faber & Faber*/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Clare Langley-Hawthorne: Consequences of Sin (Viking*/Penguin)
Joyce Carol Oates: The Gravedigger's Daughter (HarperCollins Ecco)
*UK publisher (first edition)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Has anyone noticed that the oldest film among this bunch goes all the way back to 1941 and that three of them are in black and white? How many of these have your grandkids seen? Not many, I'd imagine. (No Donnie Darko here. No Se7en.)
Now there are those who will take issue with the list: Where's The Thin Man? Or, alternatively, where's Hot Fuzz?
But it's just a list...a stupid, stupid list that some people might argue over. (Where's The 39 Steps?). But it's just a list, really (Where's The Big Sleep?), so who cares? (Where's The Lady Vanishes? Where's Charade? Where's In the Heat of the Night? Where's Touch of Evil?)
Friday, June 13, 2008
The fact that more people would curl up with a book than light up a Kindle is no surprise: Most readers are older -- pre-computer generation -- and as a boomer I know my habits are fixed. Besides, those crazy kids like to tool around the Internet with their YouTubes and IMs and play computer games. Us golden oldens are more inclined to opt for paper reading.
However, there's some interesting political information in the report.
According to Zogby, Democrats and independents were more likely to buy books at independent stores while Republicans liked chain stores. What could this mean? Well, we could determine that Democrats and independents support the little guy while Republicans prefer big business. We could infer that tax-and-spend Democrats like to spend and be taxed more for books while Republicans like the discounts at Sam's Club. Or we could assume that the majority of Republicans responding to the poll questions live in areas where malls and chains dominate and that Democrats and independents responding have little access to chain stores.
Democrats, again according to Zogby, like to visit bookstores and linger while independents and Republicans don't like to hang out. Democrats are more likely to be influenced in buying a book after reading a review while Republicans are more likely than Democrats to be influenced by talk radio. More than half of all respondents judge a book by its cover and 89 percent say that if they like a book they will seek out other books by the same author (Both bits of information are of no surprise).
Finally, Democrats are more likely than independents or Republicans to buy a book they see on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And overall, more respondents were likely to buy a book they saw on Stewart's show than on Oprah's? Does this mean that Stewart sells more books or does it mean that the respondents were more likely to watch Stewart than to watch Oprah?
Next time Zogby throws a book poll, I'd like more background numbers, please.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
And don't bother to run out and hope to find A Cotswold Killing at 9.95 anymore. That price too has risen to $15.95.
Thanks to the current English exchange rate, we are getting royally pounded.
Note: Random Thoughts is not a subsidiary of Random House or its affiliates. They are just...well, random thoughts.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
So, if you are looking for a good mystery from a voice you've never heard before to brighten up you summer vacation, check out these great titles.
Blood Alley by Tom Coffey is a neo noir in a class by itself. Great background, snappy patter with hints of Raymond Chandler and a nod to the movie Chinatown.
Blood of the Wicked is Leighton Gage's initial outing for Brazilian detective Mario Silva as he investigates the assassination of a bishop and political corruption. It's a solid send-off for this Soho Press series which will continue in January with Buried Strangers.
For those who like their thrillers mean and lean, you can't do much better than Tom Rob Smith's Child 44, as Leo Demidov hunts a serial killer in Stalinist Russia.
Scott Heim, whose Mysterious Skin found fame in Hollywood, returned to fiction with We Disappear, examining the death of his own mother against a fictional background. Heartfelt, heartbreaking and redemptive, the book takes us on a meth-fuel investigation into fate of the missing.
The Water Room by Christopher Fowler sent me back to the first in his series, Full Dark House. Fowler's progatonists John May and Arthur Bryant are a couple of grumpy old men and head of London's Peculiar Crime Unit. If you haven't encountered this pair of aging agents, you're in for some delightful reading.
Finally, Jennifer McMahon's Island of Lost Girls bowled me over. Another writer I had yet to read (I had somehow missed Promise Not to Tell), Island of Lost Girls captures the fragility of innocence and the darkness of the world. This book is disturbing without beginning graphic, making it even more effective.
For more information, go to:
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The book business is a strange one.
Recent correspondence with an author is a case-in-point: According to the author, two stores in his/her region charge all authors to sign books in their store. I have never heard of a bookstore charging an author for signing books in a store. When he/she mentioned that his/her book had been published by a Print on Demand publisher (in earlier days known as a vanity press), I explained that it was probably due to the fact that the stores had been burnt by vanity ...er, PODs at some time: Discounts are usually lower than with traditional presses, shipping and handling higher and, sometimes, returns are not accepted. He/she assured me that ALL authors were made to pay to appear in the stores.
I checked out the list of upcoming authors at these particular stores; they included Lee Child, David Sedaris and Jeffrey Deaver. If publishers are paying to have these authors in a store, then the publishers are dumb as mud. Especially when the town has a Barnes and Nobles and a Borders within blocks of the author-charging independents.
Hosting a book signing by a self-published author is not a money-making proposition. Most authors don't know what it costs a store to set up a signing. Most signings bring in few customers, some of whom buy books to be signed while others bring books in to be signed that they've bought at other bookstores. Stores pay for shipping, for the cost of books, flyers, advertising and newsletters to entice customers to meet a new author. Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver will draw in droves; a new author is a difficult draw.
A recent author at our store drew no one, nobody, nada...even though we did press releases, flyers, an e-mail newsletter and radio advertising. But those costs are part of being in the book business. We do it because we love books and authors. We'd like to make money too, but sometimes just being able to pay your bills is success enough. Besides, I loved this author's book and have sold several copies since the appearance.
An author sent me two books recently with a request to feature them in the store. The books were published by Booksurge (a POD) and arrived in an Amazon.com box.
At first I thought it was a mistake. I would never order from Amazon.com. (Booksurge is owned by Amazon.com.)
Sending the books was a marketing technique by this author, but what makes him/her think that'd I'd order from the very company that wishes to put independent bookstores out of business? Don't independent bookstores have enough problems struggling against chainstores? Why would we order our supplies from the behemoth?
I get requests every week from authors to carry their books. I go to their website and inevitably they prominently display a link to Amazon.com. Authors who want independents to support them should think about adding a link to (in the case of mystery bookstores) the IMBA or for a general bookstore to IndieBound to encourage readers to buy from an independent.
After all, authors are independents too.
For more information, go to:
Friday, June 6, 2008
So when I received a flyer for the League of Vermont Writers' "Writers Meet Agents Conference" I thought I'd better get out the word.
If you live in Vermont and can travel to Burlington on Saturday, July 19, there will be a day-long event at Champlain College from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will be roundtables, workshops and a chance for one-on-one sessions. Among the agencies represented from New York will be Curtis Brown Agency, Drystel and Goderich Literary Agency, Fischer-Harbage Agency, The Nancy Love Literary Agency, Spectrum Literary Agency; from Massachusetts, Fairbank Literary Representation.
There will also be a workshop on query letters and information on marketing online. Overnight accommodations are available on campus.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Earlier this week the Crime Writers Association announced its 2008 Dagger Award nominees. Since the list is comprehensive and you really should visit this organization's site occasionally, you'll have to click on the link below to find out who the nominees are. Winners will be announce July 10 at the Four Season Hotel in Park Lane, London. Oh to be there. (Spoiler: Sue Grafton will be presented the Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence.)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
And Bond had a tendency to force sex, even on a willing woman. He had a bit of the brute about him, but then you can't blame Bond because he had other issues: Bond villains had a preoccupation with genital torture, so maybe Bond had to work up a head of steam just to get his engine revved. Still, even as a teenager, some of this seemed...well, unhealthy.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Rendell, along with P.D. James, has been credited with changing the course of the mystery novel. Where earlier purveyors of English detective fiction gave us the whodunnit, Rendell is among those who elevated it to the whydunnit, immersing us in the psychology of a killer -- development, environment and sexual obsessions.
With a trunkload of Edgars, Silver Daggers, Gold Daggers, Diamond Dagger and Gumshoe Awards, she's given us a book a year since 1964, writing under Rendell or Barbara Vine. All this while sitting as a member of the House of Lords. Meanwhile, her latest work Portobello comes out in England in November. So we can anticipate yet another next year.
And with her graceful prose and sharp insights into character, we know that Not in the Flesh will have been worth the wait. And the wait is nearly over.
Monday, June 2, 2008
The 2008 Anthony Award Nominees
James Lee Burke-Tin Roof Blowdown- Simon and Schuster
Lee Child – Bad Luck and Trouble Delacorte Press
Robert Crais- The Watchman Simon and Schuster
William Kent Krueger-Thunder Bay Atria
Laura Lippman – What the Dead Know William Morrow
Best First Novel
Sean Chercover- Big City, Bad Blood William Morrow
Tana French- In the Woods Viking Adult
Lisa Lutz-The Spellman Files Simon and Schuster
Craig MacDonald- Head Games Bleak House Books
Marcus Sakey- The Blade Itself St. Martin Minotaur
Best Paperback Original
Megan Abbott- Queenpin Simon and Schuster
Ken Bruen and Jason Starr – Slide Hard Case Crime
David Corbett- Blood of Paradise Ballantine Books
Robert Fate- Baby Shark’s Beaumont Blues Capital Crime Press
P.J. Parrish- A Thousand Bones Pocket
Rhys Bowen- “Please Watch Your Step” (The Strand Magazine-Spring 07)
Steve Hockensmith-”Dear Dr. Watson” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Toni L. P. Kelner - “How Stella Got her Grave Back” - (Many Bloody Returns edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner) for Ace Hardcover
Laura Lippman- “Hardly Knew Her” - (Dead Man’s Hand edited by Otto Penzler) for Harcourt
Daniel Woodrell -”Uncle” – (A Hell of A Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir edited by Megan Abbott) for Busted Flush Press
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley Penguin
The Essential Mystery Lists Compiled by Roger Sobin Poisoned Pen Press
The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction – Patrick Anderson Random House
Deviance in Contemporary Crime Fiction- Christiana Gregoriou Palgrave MacMillan
Jon and Ruth Jordan- Crime Spree Magazine
Ali Karim- Shotz Magazine
Maddy Van Hertbruggen- 4MA
Sarah Weinman- Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
Judy Bobalik- for being one of the best friends and supporters of mystery writers anywhere
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind- Sarah Weinman
Rap sheet/January Magazine –J Kingston Pierce
Murderati – A Writer’s Blog
Stop You’re Killing Me- Stan Ulrich & Lucinda Surber
Crime Fiction Dossier- David Montgomery
For more information, go to: http://charmedtodeath.com/
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Anyone interested in mysteries or publishing in the U.S. should check out the Sisters in Crime website (see below).
Sisters in Crime is an organization of "authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians bound by our affection for the mystery genre and our support of women who write mysteries.
Four Sisters in Crime members trekked to Manhattan to speak with representatives of several publishing houses. If you want to know how the genre is doing and what the genre is doing, this is a great four-part series of articles.