Mysterious business


This past week Minotaur published Every Broken Trust, the latest book from my Sisters In Crime pal, Linda Rodriguez.  Last night the Mysteryscape bookstore in Overland Park, Kansas, hosted Linda’s launch party.  I arrived late, but Linda was still on hand to sign a book for me.

Linda Rodriguez signing my copy of her newest book, Every Broken Trust

Linda Rodriguez signing my copy of her newest book, Every Broken Trust

I haven’t yet read the book, having bought it only last night, but I believe one of Linda’s favorite reviews of the book is at the blog, Criminal Element, and she offers the first chapter of the book at her own blog, Linda Rodriguez Writes.

I am developing an abiding hatred for invisible toggle keys on the keyboard. The program you’re using may tell you to “press X to use the keyboard shortcut to do Y” but it doesn’t tell you the “shortcut” of the key that turns that toggle key on and off.

I was happily using “insert” to create a new text box, all according to the drop-down box’s recommendation for the keyboard shortcut. An hour after I started work, all of a sudden the insert key will only make a zero (since the insert key is also the zero key in the number pad). I don’t remember striking the num lock button, but yeah, pushing it fixed the problem. Still, it was an interruption, an irritant and and an imposition.

I am so tired of the pile of learning curves between programs, between gizmos, and between iterations of gizmos. It’s like an hourly ‘learning of toilets’ on a European road trip: “how do you flush THIS one?!?!”

Okay, rant over, blood pressure returning to normal, time to get back to work.

(I’m enjoying alone time with the last of my tea from my room-service breakfast so I can finish a highly-useful course by Kris Neri that started before I left home and ends this coming week. I’m going to buy the CDs of the Bouchercon panels I’m missing — many thanks to the Bouchercon team posting pictures on Facebook to remind me.)

I had a good time today with Nancy Pickard from my home Sisters in Crime group (Kansas) and about forty new friends.  Nancy taught a seminar, SinC into Great Writing, and many of us later agreed that we were happily surprised at the number of hints, tips and techniques she generously shared.

The icing on my cake was having my name drawn to win Nancy’s book, The Scent of Rain and Lightning.  She autographed it, too.

I must also thank my husband for doing my convention registration while I was listening to Nancy.  So far, I’m win-win at Bouchercon, and it doesn’t even officially begin until tomorrow.

One question circulating on an email list is which fictional detectives are the list-members’ favorites.  As a long-time reader of mystery/suspense stories, I do have my preferences, but it surprised me to see so many detectives whose names are new to me.   If I jot them down, I’ll have an entirely new section for my Word.doc reading list.  (I like keeping the list there as I can add things in alphabetical order, something that is difficult to do with a pen & paper list.)

Back to the inciting question for this entry (since the name of the blog game is frequently-added novel content), who are my favorite detectives, limiting them to 10 in number?  I think I have two sets of favorites, one from my childhood and teen years, and one adult group.  I don’t know if that’s ‘cheating’ on limiting the number to 10, but I find it difficult to exclude some favorite characters, and also hard to look at a  list containing both Freddie the Pig and Andy Dalziel, although some people might see a similarity.

Without further nattering and fwiw, here are, in no particular order, my two top-10 lists.

  1. Rupert the Bear (for the preschool set; Rupert was always tracking down some mystery or other)
  2. Freddy the Detective
  3. Nancy Drew
  4. Beverly Gray
  5. Miss Pickerell
  6. Lewis Barnavelt
  7. Matthew Looney
  8. Judge Dee
  9. Gideon of Scotland Yard
  10. James Bond

Edgar-worthy juvenile mysteries are listed here.

My list of detectives from my adult years is:

  1. Anne Beddingfeld (the main character in my favorite Christie story, The Man in the Brown Suit)
  2. Amelia Peabody
  3. Inspector Clouseau (the Peter Sellers Clouseau)
  4. Dalziel and Pascoe (can’t have one without the other)
  5. Morse and Lewis (not cheating very much)
  6. Spencer and Hawk (still not cheating much)
  7. Cordelia Gray
  8. Kurt Wallender
  9. Harry Hole
  10. Recently rediscovered Honey West (if only because she was a pretty pioneering PI)

Ask me next month about my favorite detectives-for-grownups and I’ll probably have a different list.

===============

Update:  Runners-up

From my DVD collection: Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle with his sidekicks, Samantha “Sam” Stewart and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner.

From Mysteristas:

  • Lady Georgiana
  • Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane
  • from the comments section: Brother Cadfael

From DorothyL:

  • Perry Mason
  • Adam Dalgliesh
  • Hamish Macbeth
  • John Rebus
  • Christie: Tommy and Tuppence
  • Sayers: Wimsey, but only with Harriet Vane-they complete each other
  • Dorothy Gilman: Mrs. Pollifax
  • Elizabeth Peters: Jacqueline Kirby
  • RALPH McInerny’s Father Dowling is a parish priest
  • Jim Qwilleran.
  • Marcus Didius Falco
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (Upfield)
  • Guido Brunetti
  • Sister Fidelma (Tremayne)
  • Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee
  • Walter Mosley! He’s probably best known for the Easy Rawlins
  • Charlotte Macleod’s Peter Shandy
  • Michael Bond’s M. Pamplemousse
  • Peter Lovesey’s Bertie Prince of Wales

The list of nominees for the 2012 Anthony awards is up.

Now to set aside time for reading the books and stories I haven’t yet spent time with. I need to vote intelligently.

A blog for EQMM!  Something Is Going to Happen

In years past, my routine fix of EQMM arrived (eventually) in the mail via the Army APO system.  Those of us who spent many years overseas were resigned to all of the American magazines to which we subscribed appearing in our boxes at the mailroom long past the same magazine’s arrival in the Stars & Stripes bookstore.  Periodicals in the U.S. are not priority mail and are sent to overseas subscribers in bulk.  Those shipments can sit for a while, depending on the available transport space.  Still, those of us who subscribed to magazines kept our subscriptions in order to receive all of the issues (or at least most of them) and not just the ones we happened on when we visited the bookstore.

Fast-forward a few decades and now all we have to do for a quick fix is click a link.  Ain’t technology (usually) grand!

Hat tip for the information to Terrie M. at Women of Mystery.

While looking for something about which I’ve completely forgotten, I clicked over to the Malice Domestic website and saw that the featured guests have already been added for next year’s convention.

[please insert squeal]   [and insert the erasure from my mind whatever I was looking for when I clicked]

Peter Robinson!!

Elizabeth Peters this year and Peter Robinson next year?  I may just lie down and be happy ’til then.

I often moan about no longer living in Europe, which was home for 20 of my adult years, but being able to attend Malice without flying in a plane almost makes up for the homesickness.

Although the mystery convention, Malice Domestic, has been around for 24 years, this is the first time I’ve attended.  Despite being a life-long mystery reader (I count my early reading of Rupert the Bear stories because Rupert always had some kind of mysterious problem to solve in each story), our family had left Maryland by the time the convention was founded and were in Europe.  After we moved back to America, kids and caring for my (late) mom took up our time.  I must say that although I’ve missed all Malices up ’til now, my experience hasn’t been ruined by waiting.

Today, for instance, I not only saw Elizabeth Peters (!!!) roasted (in the most honorable way), but she kindly signed books and I briefly spoke with her.

Watching a local friend, Linda Rodriguez, moderate the panel “Have gun, will travel:  Mysteries set out West,” with authors  Greg LillyCasey DanielsAnne Hillerman and Robert Kresge, added a cherry to the banana-split-thrill of seeing Ms. Peters.

On an everyday level, I’m tickled that Dodie R., a former coworker of my husband from our years in Germany, is a devoted Malice attendee.  She and her friend Mary A. have kept me company during more than one meal.

To say I’m happy to be here may not be on the level of “I enjoy breathing oxygen,” but it’s the most fun, barring grandkids, I’ve had in a long time — I voted for the Agatha awards!   I’m tickled.

Rhys Bowen, author of the books about Lady Georgiana Rannoch and Molly Murphy, poses a question about the entitlement felt by readers because of authors who give away full-length books online.

Giving it away, Rhys’s Pieces

A secondary concern is the amount of “rubbish” available, but the main concern is the expectation from readers that writers will work for free.

Linda Rodriguez, a winner of the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic writing contest with her novel Every Last Secret, shared with the blogosphere a link to various St. Martin’s writing contests.

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