See you at
I hope you’re planning to attend Malice Domestic—always my favorite mystery conference of the year. This spring, hundreds of mystery readers and writers will gather in Bethesda, Maryland, on May 2—4 to celebrate the delights of the traditional mystery. I’m happy to say I’ll be on two panels this year:
- At 9:00 on Saturday, May 3, I’ll be the moderator for Make It Snappy: Our Agatha Best Short Story Nominees. I look forward to discussing the short story genre I love so much with panelists Barb Goffman, Gigi Pandian, Barbara Ross, and Art Taylor.
- At 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, I’ll be a panelist on Three Heads Are Better than One: Sleuths Who Work Together. The other panelists are Sally Goldenbaum, Liz Stauffer, and Wendy Tyson; the moderator is my dear friend Paula Benson. This panel will give me a chance to talk about my nine Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine stories featuring the often contentious but always triumphant team of private detective Iphigenia Woodhouse; her eccentric mother, Professor Minerva Woodhouse; and Harriet Russo, their eager if sometimes inept apprentice.
If you’re coming to Malice this year, I hope you’ll manage to work these panels into your schedule. And I definitely hope we’ll get a chance to say hello!
My first mystery story was “True Detective,” which introduced the team of sweet but dim Lieutenant Walt Johnson and his modestly brilliant sergeant, Gordon Bolt, who sees himself as nothing but a humble assistant but is in fact the one who always figures everything out. Ten other Walt and Bolt stories followed, all in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine—“True Confession,” “True Romance,” “True Adventure,” “True Crime,” “True Love,” “True Story,” “True Suspects,” “True Colors,” “True Blue,” and “True Test.” This fall, the series will come to an end with “True Enough.” Much as I love these characters, I felt that after a dozen stories, it was time to give poor Walt a rest from his constant anxieties and feelings of guilt, and to let Sergeant Bolt finally attain his heart’s desire. And it wasn’t getting any easier to keep coming up with “true” titles! More details will follow as the publication date nears.
“Thea’s First Husband”
Makes the List
I’m delighted to announce that “Thea’s First Husband” is included in the list of “Other Distinguished Mystery Stories of 2012″ in The Best American Mystery Stories 2013. It’s an honor to see one of my stories on this list, and it’s a pleasure to see stories by several friends and fellow Hitchcock authors listed as well.
“Thea’s First Husband,” published in June 2012 in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, was also nominated for both Agatha and Macavity awards. It’s a story about an insecure husband who decides to test his young wife’s loyalty. His biggest mistake is hiring a private detective to watch her—a private detective who turns out to have an agenda of his own. If you’d like to read the story, please click here:
ANOTHER MINI-MYSTERY COMING SOON
IN WOMAN’S WORLD
“Clean Sweep” is scheduled to appear in the issue of Woman’s World that goes on sale on November 7.
Lieutenant Alicia Mendez and her new partner have to figure out if a death that looks accidental might really be murder—and, if so, which of two possible suspects is a better fit for the few clues at the scene. Alicia must draw both on her powers of observation and on her insights into personalities in order to solve the case. This isn’t one of my most mysterious stories–you’ll probably be able to figure out who did it without much trouble–but I hope it’s fun.
Who shot the gun-control advocate?
an e-novella from Untreed Reads
When rising politician Karen Dodd pushes through the toughest gun-control bill in Ohio’s history, she thinks it’s her ticket to the governor’s office. But soon after she announces her candidacy, on the day she’s slated to receive an award from a gun-control organization, Karen Dodd is found dead in her comfortable suburban home, one bullet through her heart.
Suspects abound—her philandering husband, a hard-drinking former beauty queen, a smooth-talking gun lobbyist and his deceptively meek assistant, an ambitious television reporter who sees the murder as the story that could transform her career. Police lieutenant Dan Ledger puts his own life in danger as he struggles to uncover the secrets of suspects who at first seem harmlessly eccentric—but who can quickly turn deadly serious. Ledger’s used to piecing together meager bits of evidence, and he’s usually adept at analyzing the fears and desires that drive people to kill. This time, though, the motive takes him by surprise.
ONE SHOT is a traditional whodunit with a contemporary twist. Packed with suspense and humor, it raises questions about issues ranging from gun control to reality television.
http://www.untreedreads.com/ Great reads for every device
LITTLE DUMBER BOY
a short story from Untreed Reads
Will's aunt wants him to spend some time with his estranged son at Christmas. All Will wants is to knock off his girlfriend's husband and collect a share of the life insurance policy. Unfortunately, when you fail to take all the angles into account, the perfect crime can really ruin your holiday.
http://www.untreedreads.com/ Great reads for every device
Also available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online vendors.
TO HELL IN A FAST CAR
In February, Dark Quest Books published To Hell in a Fast Car, edited by John L. French. All the stories in the anthology share the same basic theme: Sometimes, people headed for disaster are unable or unwilling to turn back, even though they may know things can’t end well. In my story, “No Good Deed,” lonely, introverted social worker Janice thinks that by opening her home to a charming but wildly undisciplined teenager, she can turn the girl’s life around. But when the teenager starts tempting her to do things she’s never done before, Janice finds that her own life is the one being turned around, in increasingly costly and dangerous ways.
MY MOST RECENT STORIES
in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
Both have Shakespearean titles. Both have plenty of allusions and plot parallels for Shakespeare lovers to enjoy.
“All That Glisters”: Small-time crook Danny makes the mistake of stealing from his boss. Now Danny faces death, unless he can figure out how to pass a test his boss sets up to see how smart he is. If you read the May issue, you know how the test turns out.
“Murder Will Speak”: In the ninth story in the Woodhouse series, Professor Minerva Woodhouse goes undercover at a retirement community to investigate two murders and a string of lesser crimes. Meanwhile, freed from her mother’s constant oversight for the first time in decades, Iphigenia Woodhouse carries out plans of her own.
TWO ARTICLES FROM 2012
MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA
The October 2012 issue of the national Mystery Writers of America newsletter, The Third Degree, published my “Fifty Ways to Catch Your Killer.” The article describes fifty plot devices mystery writers can use to help their detectives when killers get too clever and one more clue is needed to crack a case. I’ve used many of these plot devices in my Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine stories.
The October 2012 issue of The Writer includes my article “Advice from the Crypt: Edgar Allan Poe Speaks to Writers.” The article comments on four ideas gathered from Poe’s articles, essays, and reviews:
- Think with your pen.
- Begin at the end.
- Keep it short, and keep it focused.
- Cultivate “the constructive ability.”
Poe’s unconventional, provocative views challenge us to re-examine the way we write—and also offer intriguing glimpses into Poe’s personality and his own writing process.