Over the weekend, I received the new issue of Mystery Scene — always a welcome arrival. No real surprise to see James Ellroy‘s mug on the cover (“Unleashed”!), since he’s been a publicity juggernaut with the publication of his grand new novel, Blood’s A Rover. (See, again, my own interview here.) But even if most folks, myself included, may have already succumbed to Ellroy overload, there’s plenty more to enjoy here, including a interesting look back at a movie I’d never heard of, The Last of Sheila (just added it to my Netflix queue), a celebration of Nero Wolfe (I always love those surveys of classic detectives), and a couple of nice interviews beyond that cover story, including chats with Nancy Pickard and Nevada Barr, the latter my own contribution to this issue.
Talking with Nevada Barr about her new book, the standalone thriller 13 1/2, set in New Orleans, was a real pleasure. Here’s a quick excerpt from our talk, and be sure to pick up the issue for the full story.
Mystery Scene: Was New Orleans an inspiration here or did it prove difficult to depict on the page?
Barr: I’ve lived here for years. In fact, I’m setting the next Anna Pigeon here. But I didn’t set anything here for years and years. New Orleanians are very proud of their city and idiosyncratic about it, and it’s a very complicated city, and then Katrina came and really complicated us. But I moved here because I fell in love with the city, and that love of the city, I think, came through in the sense of Katrina having crushed it. I started this book during our evacuation from the hurricane, and then Katrina blew it out of the water for several years, so I think it was more of a challenge than an inspiration in the beginning. But I got to know my city by writing about it.