New Mystery Scene

I’m so pleased to have two articles in the new issue of Mystery Scene, which arrived in my own mailbox yesterday. First, I review Margaret Maron’s final Deborah Knott mystery, Long Upon the Land, as part of a feature devoted to her work; also included is an interview by Ed Gorman (so I’m in good company there, to say the least). Here’s an excerpt from the review:

…suffice it to say that when you look at the novels which bookend the series—1992’s Bootlegger’s Daughter, which won the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity, and Long Upon the Land—many of the conflicts and concerns of the first book find both echo and answer in the final one. And stepping back further to the first appearance of Deborah Knott, in the 1991 short story “Deborah’s Judgment,” you’ll find even more connections; both that story and the new novel hinge on the younger days of Deborah’s mother, Sue Stephenson Knott, and her experiences during World War II with her sister Zell and best friend Beulah in Goldsboro, NC; both deal with an airman who was loved and lost; and both unearth decades-old secrets about the long shadows cast by old love affairs. In several ways, Long Upon the Land revisits and reworks twists and themes from those earliest works—and always in satisfying ways.

Second, Mystery Scene invited me to talk about my own book, On the Road with Del & Louise, and about the idea of a novel in stories generally. The article is part of the “My Book” section, and I’m in good company there too, with Leigh Perry talking about “How to Haunt a House” and her new book The Skeleton Haunts a House. Here’s the opening to my article there:

The title and subtitle of my new book On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories seemed a natural fit to me—straightforward about both the story and the form: two small-time crooks trying to go straight; each story a new adventure and all of it part of a longer journey, in this case taking them from Taos, New Mexico, to Victorville, California, then up the coast into Napa Valley before stops in Las Vegas and Williston, North Dakota, en route back to Louise’s home state of North Carolina.

But though it felt natural for me to structure my book this way, I’ve been surprised to learn that the phrase “novel in stories” isn’t as well known as I thought. A few misunderstandings have kept cropping up—including four that seem worth addressing….

Just as an extra preview, those four misunderstandings are: “Novels in stories are more common in literary circles than genre ones,” “‘Novel in stories’ is just a fancy phrase for ‘collection’,” “You must read all of the stories in a specific order,” and “Boy, Art really thought this through right from the start!” That last one, especially, wouldn’t be true.

Hope folks enjoy reading!

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