Sunday, March 11, 2012

At the Scene, March 2012 MYSTERY SCENE

At the Scene, March 2012 Solving the mystery of what to read next!
IWinter Issue #123 out now!

March Greetings
Nicci French on Reading, Lucy Liu as Watson, Awards Continued, MS New Authors Breakfast at Malice

Hi everyone!

Research is definitely the theme in this issue of Mystery Scene. Lisa Gardner, for example, goes to great lengths - even into the boxing ring! - to bring realism to her fast-paced thrillers. She contends that imagination is no substitute for actually hitting someone - or being hit yourself.

Gardner was a working writer before she graduated college, publishing 13 romance novels by the time she was 25. "The disadvantage of starting to write so young is that I didn't have a trade first," she tell Oline Cogdill in this issue. "A lot of suspense writers were lawyers or reporters so they already had a knowledge base they could draw on. I don't." Hence, the prodigious research that make Gardner's thrillers so immersive and so very popular.

Jon L. Breen surveys Simon Brett's considerable body of work in this issue, just in time for this master of the whodunit's Lifetime Achievement Award from the Malice Domestic Convention in April. Jon also did some research into the favorite tipples of Brett's detectives, including, of course, Charles Paris' beloved Bell's Whisky.

Art Taylor considers the eternal appeal of Agatha Christie's little Belgian sleuth in "The Celebrated Poirot." As you might expect, Christie offers endless avenues for research. For example, did you know that Charles Laughton was the first actor to ever play Hercule Poirot? (See page 35.)

And speaking of 'tecs and their tipples, here is Poirot in Three-Act Tragedy:

"The sherry, I prefer it to the cocktail, and a thousand times to the whisky. Ah, quelle horreur, the whisky. But drinking the whisky, you ruin - absolutely ruin - the palate."

A little research can pay big dividends if you're a book collector. In this issue Nate Pedersen discusses "association copies," books whose values are increased by interesting connections to their authors or owners. (Check out the pride of my husband's book collection on page 40!)

It was the difficulty of research that turned Nicola Upson into a novelist. She had intended to write a biography of Josephine Tey, author of The Daughter of Time. Instead she found that a series of novels, carefully researched but also sympathetically imagined, better captured the character of this complex woman.

Research isn't always the final answer, though. Many sources declare unequivocally that Lester del Rey wrote the infamously (and deliberately) bad short story, "Rattlesnake Cave." Not true. For the real story on the worst story ever written see the note from Larry Block on page 46 or visit the Mystery Scene Blog.

This April, Brian and I, as well as a number of MS contributors, will be at the Malice Domestic Convention in Bethesda, Maryland. We're particularly looking forward to the New Authors Breakfast which we're sponsoring again this year. Hope to see you there!

Best wishes,
Kate Stine

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