Short Stories/Collection

“Writers Crushing Covid-19: An Anthology for Coronavirus Relief”

On occasion, a special project is brought to my attention that moves right to the top of the review pile. I am delighted to help bring “Writers Crushing Covid-19” to a wider audience. It is an anthology of short stories, essays, and letters, many written by people experiencing this dreaded disease up close and personal. Although the concept of this anthology originated with the Piedmont Authors Network*, the thirty-seven selected submissions came in from authors all over the USA (as well as Australia), as varied in background as the stories themselves. It’s a multi-talented group of bestselling, award-winning, and debut authors.

 

The diverse mix of writing includes everything from laugh-out-loud humor, to the occult, to deeply serious looks at the pandemic, and everything in between.

 

More than one story follows the classic model of O. Henry, the famous short story writer, with entertaining surprise endings. Ross Cavins produces two big twists in “Test Drive,” a clever plot that would translate nicely to a teleplay for a potential TV show. Lynn Chandler Willis introduces us to hapless bank robbers in the hilarious “The Cough,” with the guys not asking for much, but, just once?  Jonas Saul brings us “Ghostwriter,” a more serious take on the surprises that life can deliver. J.D. Allen provides a noire piece with “Dead in the Water.” This dark short just might make you cheer at the ending. Or sleep with one eye open.

 

There are several heart-wrenching entries, but among that group, none wallow in the disaster that has befallen the world. Instead, they are uplifting and reassuring. The anthology begins as Dr. J.L. Delozier presents an inspirational letter to two of her medical students about to face the Covid-19 front lines. Karen McCullough shares her ordeal as a Covid victim in “Journey Through Covid-19.” She took many weeks to recover, and her story will bring a few eye-opening facts to the fore. Micki Bare takes a sobering fictional look at the effect a catastrophe has on displaced children, and the tremendous effort needed to save the most vulnerable in “For Philly.”

 

Feel-good stories, with great hope for the future and people making the best of a bad time, are sprinkled throughout the anthology. Diane Kelly’s “Nothing Could Be Finer” introduces two appealing masked characters that connect over coffee at the surviving local diner. Bruce Robert Coffin tells the tender tale of “Saint Nicholas” and the cop that helped the little old lady in the nursing home. Marvin Wolf relates the wonderful account of a newspaper boy in “The Bicycle.” Think Hallmark Channel smiles all around.

 

As for the occult? Jaden Terrell deals deliciously in the paranormal with “Faithful.” Who among us hasn’t heard a voice caution us to be careful at the right moment? But, then there are the potions. It’s not easy to find ‘eye of newt.’ Cheryl Bradshaw buys a haunted house against the realtor’s advice in “Hallowed Ground,” and all is definitely not what she expected. Karen Fritz creates an ingenious VooDoo curse that propels a journalist to his appointed destination, in “A Cursed Story.”  

 

Dark humor? Who can forget the toilet paper shortage when the USA started to take Covid-19 seriously? Vincent Zandri handles that topic with guns and suspicious foreign characters chasing after P.I. Dick Moonlight in “Moonlight Goes Viral.” Some of you might be able to relate. I’m not admitting to anything.

 

I’ve read this well edited anthology twice and will read it again, it’s that good. I’ve mentioned several of my favorites, but there truly is something rewarding/entertaining for everybody. Buy “Writers Crushing Covid-19” because you enjoy the short story genre, or buy it to support the cause, or both.

All proceeds will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

 

*Full disclosure: I am a member of the Piedmont Authors Network. Future in-person meetings will be held in Asheboro, North Carolina, but at the present, virtually.

 

 

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Macavity Awards – 2020

Each year the members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers of Mystery Readers Journal (and friends of MRI) nominate their favorite mysteries in five categories from the previous year for the Macavity Awards. The winners of this coveted award will be announced at opening ceremonies at the Virtual Sacramento Bouchercon, in October, 2020.

Mystery Readers International, Mystery Readers Journal, and the Macavity Awards, were created by Anthony Award winner, Janet Rudolph.

 

Best Mystery Novel 
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
The Murder List by Hank Philippi Ryan
Sarah Jane by James Sallis

 

Best First Mystery 
The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski
Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

 

Best Mystery Short Story 
“West Texas Barbecue” by Michael Chandos (The Eyes of Texas, edited by Michael Bracken—Down & Out Books)
“Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman (Crime Travel, edited by Barb Goffman—Wildside Press)
“The Cardboard Box” by Terence Faherty (EQMM, Jan/Feb 2019)
“Whiteout” by G.M. Malliet (EQMM, Jan/Feb 2019)
“Brother’s Keeper” by Dave Zeltserman (EQMM, May/June 2019)
“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (EQMM, May/June 2019)

 

Best Mystery Nonfiction/Critical
Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer
Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan
Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and Her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin

 

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins
The Pearl Dagger by L.A. Chandlar
A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman
Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

 

Congratulations to all for writing such a marvelous group of works from which to choose!

 

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2020 ITW ThrillerFest Awards

 

Thriller writers bring us thrills and chills and keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning. Check out the 2020 ITW ThrillerFest Award finalists and winners (indicated in red) and enjoy the reads!

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
David Baldacci — “One Good Deed”
Joe Clifford — “Rag and Bone”
Blake Crouch — “Recursion”
Rachel Howzell Hall — “They All Fall Down”
Adrian McKinty — “The Chain”
Denise Mina — “Conviction”

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Samantha Downing — “My Lovely Wife”
Angie Kim — “Miracle Creek”
John McMahon — “The Good Detctive”
Alex Michaelides — “The Silent Patient”
Lauren Wilkinson — “American Spy”

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Max Allan Collins — “Girl Most Likely”
Alison Gaylin — “Never Look Back”
Alastair Luft — “Jihadi Bride”
Dervla McTiernan — “The Scholar”
Lisa Sandlin — “The Bird Boys”
Kate White — “Such A Perfect Wife”

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Author Brett Battles — “Night Man”
Sean Black — “The Deep Abiding”
Brian Shea — “Murder Board”
LynDee Walker — “Leave No Stone”
Kerry Wilkinson — “Close to You”

BEST SHORT STORY
Hector Acosta — “Turistas” (Down & Out Books)
Michael Cowgill — “Call Me Chuckles” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Tara Laskowski — “The Long-Term Tenant” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Lia Matera — “Snow Job” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Twist Phelan — “Fathers-in-Law” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

 

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Shamus Awards 2020

 

 

The PRIVATE EYE WRITERS OF AMERICA (PWA) is an organization devoted to Private Eye fiction. A Private Eye is defined as “a private citizen (not a member of the military, federal agency, or civic or state police force) who is paid to investigate crimes. A Private Investigator can be a traditional private eye, a TV or newspaper reporter, an insurance investigator, an employee of an investigative service or agency, or similar character.”

The SHAMUS AWARDS 2020 are for works published in 2019. Winners are indicated in red.

 

Best Original Private Eye (Paperback) 

The Skin Game by JD Allen

Behind the Wall of Sleep by James DF Hannah

Paid in Spades by Richard Helms

Ration of Lies by M. Ruth Myers

The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin

 

Best Private Eye Short Story 

“The Smoking Bandit of Lakeside Terrace” by Chad Baker in EQMM May/June

“Sac-A-Lait Man” by O’Neil De Noux in EQMM Sept/Oct

“The Dunes of Saulkrasti” by William Burton McCormick in EQMM Sept/Oct

“The Fourteenth Floor” by Adam Meyer in Crime Travel anthology from Wildside Press

“Weathering the Storm” by Michael Pool in The Eyes of Texas anthology from Down & Out Books

 

 Best Private Eye Novel (Hardcover)

The Tower of Songs by Casey Barrett

Lost Tomorrows by Matt Coyle

The Shadows by Matt Goldman

Below the Line by Michael Gould

Cold Way by Julia Keller

 

Congratulations to all!

 

 

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The Agatha Awards – 2019 Books

 

The winners of the Agatha Awards for 2019 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2019. Normally, the nominated titles would be voted upon by the attendees at the annual Malice Domestic conference for mystery and crime writers/fans in early May, 2020. But, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was cancelled. The Malice Board  determined the voting protocol, with the winners announced on May 2, 2020.

The Agatha Awards recognize the “traditional mystery,” meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners! (indicated in red)  🙂

 

Best Contemporary Novel (6 titles this year)
“Fatal Cajun Festival” by Ellen Byron
The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves
“Fair Game” by Annette Dashofy
“The Missing Ones” by Edwin Hill
“A Better Man” by Louise Penny
“The Murder List” by Hank Philippi Ryan

Best First Mystery Novel
“A Dream of Death” by Connie Berry
One Night Gone” by Tara Laskowski
“Murder Once Removed” by S. C. Perkins
“When It’s Time for Leaving” by Ang Pompano
“Staging for Murder” by Grace Topping

Best Historical Mystery
“Love and Death Among the Cheetahs” by Rhys Bowen
“Murder Knocks Twice” by Susanna Calkins
“The Pearl Dagger” by L. A. Chandlar
Charity’s Burden” by Edith Maxwell
“The Naming Game” by Gabriel Valjan

Best Nonfiction
“Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story” by Laird R. Blackwell
“Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles” by Julia Bricklin
“Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” by Casey Cep
“The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women” by Mo Moulton
“The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold

Best Children/Young Adult
“Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers” by Shauna Holyoak
“Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen MacManus
“The Last Crystal” by Frances Schoonmaker
“Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)”
by Robin Stevens
“Jada Sly, Artist and Spy” by Sherri Winston

Best Short Story (links are highlighted)
Grist for the Mill” by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
The Blue Ribbon” by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
Better Days” by Art Taylor in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine


Happy Reading!

 

 

 

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2020 Anthony Awards

 

Bouchercon is an annual conference named after Anthony Boucher, a mystery author and critic who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. This event honors various segments of the mystery and crime fiction community.

The nominees for the coveted Anthony Award have been announced and because of Covid19, voting will take place online in mid October. The awards will be presented as part of an online ceremony on October 17.

2020 Anthony Award Nominees

BEST NOVEL
Your House Will Pay, by Steph Cha
They All Fall Down, by Rachel Howzell Hall
Lady in the Lake, by Laura Lippman
The Murder List, by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Miami Midnight, by Alex Segura

BEST FIRST NOVEL
The Ninja Daughter, by Tori Eldridge
Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim
One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski
Three-Fifths, by John Vercher
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Unrepentant, by E.A. Aymar
Murder Knocks Twice, by Susanna Calkins
The Pearl Dagger, by L.A. Chandlar
Scot & Soda, by Catriona McPherson
The Alchemist’s Illusion, by Gigi Pandian
Drowned Under, by Wendall Thomas
The Naming Game, by Gabriel Valjan

BEST CRITICAL NON-FICTION WORK
Hitchcock and the Censors, by John Billheimer
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of the Collins Crime Club, by John Curran The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton
The Trail of Lizzie Borden: A True Story, by Cara Robertson
The Five: The Untold Stories of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold

BEST SHORT STORY

“Turistas,” by Hector Acosta (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Unforgiven,” by Hilary Davidson (appearing in Murder a-Go-Gos: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos)

“The Red Zone,” by Alex Segura (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May/June 2019)

“Hard Return,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Crime Travel)

BEST ANTHOLOGY OR COLLECTION
The Eyes of Texas: Private Investigators from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, edited by Michael Bracken
¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico, edited by Angel Luis Colón
Crime Travel, edited by Barb Goffman
Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons
Murder A-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos, edited by Holly West

BEST YOUNG ADULT
Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry
, by Jen Conley

Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer
Killing November, by Adriana Mather
Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay
The Deceivers, by Kristen Simmons
Wild and Crooked, by Leah Thomas

Congratulations to all the nominees!!!

 

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Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Fiction

 

Are you a fan of holiday themed reading? Published between 2016 and 2020, here is a list of twenty-three novels, novellas, and short stories centered around Valentine’s Day. Be prepared to swoon, or laugh, or be delighted by the selection. Click on the titles to discover more about the books and enjoy!

 

Jennifer S. Alderson  “Death by Baguette”

 

Carolyn Arnold  “Valentine’s Day is Murder”

 

Patti Benning  “Tall, Dark, and Deadly”

 

Franky A. Brown  “What Happened to Romance?”

 

Susan Carroll “The Valentine’s Day Ball”

 

Cherry Christensen  “Secret Valentine”

 

Sylvia Damsell  “A Valentine Wish”

 

Steve Demaree “A Valentine Murder”

 

Liz Dodwell “Valentine’s Day: a Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy”

 

Jessica L. Elliott “Operation: Romance”

 

Tammy Falkner “A Valentine’s Day Miracle”

 

Deborah Garner  “A Flair for Truffles”

 

Patricia Gligor “Marnie Malone”

 

Holly Hepburn “Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence”

 

Liwen Y. Ho “Romantically Ever After”

 

June McCrary Jacobs “Handmade Hearts”

 

Libby Klein  “Theater Nights Are Murder”

 

Jackie Lau  “A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day”

 

Lia London “Love from A to Z”

 

Ava Mallory & nine more authors “Stirring Up Love & Mystery”

 

Leslie Meier  “Valentine Candy Murder”

 

Summer Prescott “A Blossom of Murder”

 

Amy M. Reade  “Be My Valencrime”

 

Happy Reading! 

 

 

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