Fiction Review

Congrats to Mary Anna Evans

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Evans, Mary Anna

Poisoned Pen Press author Mary Anna Evans writes the Faye Longchamp mysteries. Faye is a mixed-race archaeologist based in Florida on her family’s plantation, although her adventures take her all over the United States. You can find Evans’ mysteries in the Web Store, of course.

Mary Anna Evans is due for congratulations on another front, though. I’m just going to copy the news release from the national chapter of Sisters in Crime.

“Sisters in Crime has chosen a recipient for its 2018 Academic Research Grant, awarded annually to support scholars who are studying gender and diversity in crime fiction. These grants cover up to $500 toward the purchase of books needed for research.

Mary Anna Evans, known for her award-winning Faye Longchamp mystery series, is an Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at the University of Oklahoma and is the recipient of this year’s grant.

She is embarking on a study that will center on selected works by Agatha Christie, exploring underlying patterns in her portrayal of justice, with a particular focus on her experiences during the years when women were gaining full access to the British legal system as jurors, prosecutors, and judges. Archival research at the universities of Exeter and Reading in the UK coupled with critical examinations of a number of Christies’ mysteries will lead to several planned scholarly articles and ultimately a book tentatively titled Agatha Christie, Witness to the Evolution: Women, Justice, Crime Fiction, and the Twentieth Century.

In her grant proposal Evans wrote ‘by putting [Christie’s] body of work into historical context with the changes in British law and society, I will show that her writings speak both directly and indirectly to the changing legal status of women in a way that is particularly suited to her genre of choice, crime fiction. I will argue that Christie’s social commentary on the British justice system, perhaps revealing a veiled frustration and anger, is particularly evident when her characters circumvent the legal system in their efforts to shape their world into one that they perceive as just.'”


Hot Book of the Week – Brief Cases

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Are you a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series? The latest Hot Book of the Week at the Poisoned Pen is a collection of short stories featuring Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard. You can order Brief Cases through the Web Store.

Brief Cases

Here’s the summary and list of stories in the collection, Brief Cases.

An all-new Dresden Files story headlines this urban fantasy short story collection starring the Windy City’s favorite wizard.

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue—and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you’ll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published “Zoo Day,” Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

The collection includes:

  “Curses,” from Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow
  “AAAA Wizardry,” from the Dresden Files RPG
  “Even Hand,” from Dark and Stormy Knights, edited by P. N. Elrod
  “B is for Bigfoot,” from Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  “I was a Teenage Bigfoot,” from Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  “Bigfoot on Campus,” from Hex Appeal, edited by P. N. Elrod. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  “Bombshells,” from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
  “Jury Duty,” from Unbound, edited by Shawn Speakman
  “Cold Case,” from Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes
  “Day One,” from Unfettered II, edited by Shawn Speakman
  “A Fistful of Warlocks,” from Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop
  “Zoo Day,” a brand-new novella, original to this collection

Conan Doyle for the Defense

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Fans of the Sherlock Holmes stories may be interested in a new nonfiction book about a case taken on by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of those books. Margalit Fox’s Conan Doyle for the Defense is available through the Web Store.

Conan Doyle for the Defense

Fox recently wrote a piece for Publishers Weekly in which she discussed the actual case. It’s as intriguing as one of Holmes’ own cases.

Here’s the summary of Conan Doyle for the Defense from the Web Store.

In this thrilling true-crime procedural, the creator of Sherlock Holmes uses his unparalleled detective skills to exonerate a German Jew wrongly convicted of murder.

For all the scores of biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the most famous detective in the world, there is no recent book that tells this remarkable story—in which Conan Doyle becomes a real-life detective on an actual murder case. In Conan Doyle for the Defense, Margalit Fox takes us step by step inside Conan Doyle’s investigative process and illuminates a murder mystery that is also a morality play for our time—a story of ethnic, religious, and anti-immigrant bias.

In 1908, a wealthy woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow home. The police found a convenient suspect in Oscar Slater—an immigrant Jewish cardsharp—who, despite his obvious innocence, was tried, convicted, and consigned to life at hard labor in a brutal Scottish prison. Conan Doyle, already world famous as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was outraged by this injustice and became obsessed with the case. Using the methods of his most famous character, he scoured trial transcripts, newspaper accounts, and eyewitness statements, meticulously noting myriad holes, inconsistencies, and outright fabrications by police and prosecutors. Finally, in 1927, his work won Slater’s freedom.

Margalit Fox, a celebrated longtime writer for The New York Times, has “a nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality” (Kathryn Schulz, New York). In Conan Doyle for the Defense, she immerses readers in the science of Edwardian crime detection and illuminates a watershed moment in the history of forensics, when reflexive prejudice began to be replaced by reason and the scientific method.

Advance praise for Conan Doyle for the Defense

“I cannot speak too highly of this remarkable book, which entirely captivated me with its rich attention to detail, its intelligence and elegant phrasing, and, most of all, its nail-biting excitement.”—Simon Winchester, author of The Perfectionists and The Professor and the Madman

“Fox brings to life a forgotten cause célèbre in this page-turning account of how mystery writer–turned–real life sleuth Arthur Conan Doyle helped exonerate a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder. . . . The author’s exhaustive research and balanced analysis make this a definitive account, with pertinent repercussions for our times.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Ann Parker & A Dying Note

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Ann Parker’s A Dying Note is published by Poisoned Pen Press. Signed copies are available through the Web Store.

Dying Note

Are you familiar with this series? Elise Cooper recently interviewed author Ann Parker for Crimespree Magazine. You can “meet” the author and learn about Parker’s series in that interview.

A Taste for Mystery

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Did you make it to the Poisoned Pen the other night when Martin Walker was here? If not, you can still buy a signed copy of his latest book, the Hot Book of the Week, A Taste for Vengeance. It’s available through the Web Store.

Taste for Vengeance

A Taste for Vengeance is a case for Bruno, Chief of Police.

A missing woman, a shocking pregnancy, a dash of international intrigue, and a bottle or two of good Bergerac: it’s another case for Bruno, Chief of Police.

When a British tourist fails to turn up for a luxurious cooking vacation in Bruno’s usually idyllic Dordogne village of St. Denis, the worried hostess is quick to call on Bruno for help. Monica Felder is nowhere to be found, and her husband, a retired British major, is unreachable. And not long after Bruno discovers that Monica was traveling with a mysterious Irishman (her lover?), the two turn up dead. The Irishman’s background in intelligence and his connection to Monica’s husband only raise more questions for Bruno. Was she running away? How much does her husband really know? What’s the real story behind a scandal buried in the threesome’s military past? Meanwhile, the star of the girls’ rugby team, a favorite of Bruno’s, is pregnant, putting at risk her chances of being named to the French national squad. Bruno’s search for the truth in both cases leads him to places he hadn’t intended to go–but, as ever, he and his friends take time to savor the natural delights of the Dordogne. Santé!


And, of course, there will be food in the book. Walker recently took a look at other detectives and their eating habits in an article for It’s called “Crime Fiction’s Best (and Worst) Meals”. If you like food with your mysteries, you might want to check it out.

Poisoned Pen Press Authors – An Interview

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Poisoned Pen Press authors Thomas Kies and Annie Hogsett recently discussed their second books in an interview for Crimespree Magazine

The article, “Behind the Book: Writing That Second Novel”, asks both of them about their second mysteries. You can find Kies’ Darkness Lane and Hogsett’s Murder to the Metal in the Web Store.

The Gray Ghost – A New Interpretation

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Have you seen episodes of “Fred Judges a Book by Its Cover” on “Late Night with Seth Meyers”? Fred Armisen guesses the plots of books just by looking at the cover. He attempted that  with The Gray Ghost by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell. Add a little humor to your day, and check out the episode.

Gray Ghost

Now, here’s one spoiler for Fred’s guess. Robin Burcell is a woman, not “he”.

And, here’s the actual summary of The Gray Ghost.

The search for a legendary automobile threatens the careers and lives of husband-and-wife team Sam and Remi Fargo in this thrilling new adventure in Clive Cussler’s bestselling series.

In 1906, a groundbreaking Rolls-Royce prototype known as the Gray Ghost vanishes from the streets of Manchester, England, and it is only the lucky intervention of an American detective named Isaac Bell that prevents it from being lost forever. Not even he can save the good name of Jonathan Payton, however, the man wrongly blamed for the theft, and more than a hundred years later, it is his grandson who turns to Sam and Remi Fargo to help prove his grandfather’s innocence.

But there is even more at stake than any of them know. For the car has vanished again, and in it is an object so rare that it has the capacity to change lives. Men with everything to gain and a great deal to lose have a desperate plan to find it–and if anybody gets in their way? They have a plan for that, too.


Interested? You can buy a signed copy of The Gray Ghost through the Web Store, if you’d rather read it, and not just guess the plot as Fred did.