News & Events
Northern Virginia Writers Club • July 2013
The Northern Virginia Writers Club, a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, has invited me to lead an all-day workshop on the craft of writing. The event, originally scheduled for Saturday, May 18, has been postponed and is tentatively scheduled for a Saturday in July. Stay tuned for more info, as plans are finalized!
Malice Domestic • May 2013
I was part of several events at this year’s Malice Domestic Convention, at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, Maryland, including participating in the the panel discussion “Make It Snappy” with feature this year’s nominees for the Agatha Award for Best Short Story—Dana Cameron, Sheila Connolly, Barb Goffman, B.K. Stevens, and me (!!!)—and I moderated the panel “Murder With A Little Education on the Side: Mysteries That Tackle Social Issues,” with John Billheimer, Joan Boswell, Donis Casey, and Edith McClintock.
CityLit Festival • April 2013
Such a pleasure to have been part of the 10th annual CityLit Festival at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore—and great to have joined Ariel S. Winter and Nik Korpon in talking about “Mysterious Adaptations: Noir from Novels to the Movies.” Lots of movies added to my own to-see list after our talk!
Derringer Award • March 2013
I’m honored, awed, and humbled to have won a third Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society—this year in the Long Story category for the story “When Duty Calls,” originally published in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder and also recently nominated for an Agatha Award. Other winners this year included “The Cable Job” by Randy DeWitt (Best Flash Story), “Getting Out of the Box” by Michael Bracken (Best Short Story), and “Wood-Smoke Boys” by Doug Allyn (Best Novelette). Congratulations to all!
Spinetingler Award Nomination • March 2013
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” originally published in PANK Magazine and winner in the flash fiction category of the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, has been nominated for this year’s Spinetingler Award for Best Short Story on the Web. A thrill and an honor!
Sisters in Crime, Central Virginia • March 2013
I had a great time with Meredith Cole and Leone Ciporin at the panel discussion “The Long and the Short of the Short Story,” hosted by the Central Virginia Chapter of Sisters in Crime on Saturday, March 30. A nice turn-out and some great discussion, both during the official part of the meeting and at lunch aftewards, and I look forward to the publication of the chapter’s first anthology too—due out in January 2014. Exciting news and a great group of folks.
Washington Post • March 2013
As I write in my review of the new novel Six Years, Harlan Coben has long since established himself as the master of a certain kind of tale: the story of “a life suddenly unraveling, the past summoned back into a swiftly shifting present, secrets peeling back to reveal more secrets.” This latest outing displays clockwork precision in that regard, and while some aspects of the book defy reality, the overall effect is still both mesmerizing and surprisingly affecting. See my full review here.
Derringer Award Nomination • March 2013
I’m so pleased that my story “When Duty Calls,” recently nominated for an Agatha Award, has also been named a finalist for the 2013 Derringer Awards! My story falls in the Long Story category, and there’s a a great slate of finalists in all areas this year (including good friends David Dean, Toni L.P. Kelner, and Doug Allyn in the Novellette category). As always, I’m simply honored to be included in such distinguished company.
Agatha Award Nomination • February 2013
My story “When Duty Calls,” published in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder (Wildside Press), has been nominated for a 2012 Agatha Award! And I’m in fine company alongside the other nominees, fellow short story writers Dana Cameron, Sheila Connolly, Barb Goffman, and B.K. Stevens. The awards will be given out on Saturday, May 4, at the Malice Domestic Convention in Bethesda, Maryland. Good luck to all the nominees! (And anyone interested in reading the story can find it on my website here between now and the awards.)
Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine • January 2013
Ellery Queen has just published the first of two stories scheduled for 2013. “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants,” which appears in EQMM’s March/April issue (on newstands in late January), delves into a treacherous little love triangle—exploring these dangerously crisscrossed relationships through the memories and musings of each of the participants.
Washington Post • January 2013
An American author living in Cambridge, England, Emily Winslow has written two mystery novels set in her new home. The second, The Start of Everything, follows five narrators to piece together the story behind the murder of a young woman. While the settings include both the university itself and a country manor house, the novel is far from the traditional British mysteries of yore. Here’s my review in the Washington Post.
Mystery Author Extravaganza • December 2012
The December meeting of Sisters in Crime’s Chesapeake Chapter gathered 16 local authors for a meet-and-greet and book signing at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA, on Saturday, December 1. Participating authors included: Donna Andrews, David Autry, Karen Cantwell, Jacqueline Corcoran, Meriah Crawford, Maddi Davidson, E.B. Davis, Barb Goffman, Jennifer Harlow, Smita Harish Jain, C. Ellett Logan, G.M. Malliet, Alan Orloff, Sandra Parshall, Marcia Talley, and me!
Washington Post • November 2012
I’ve long been a fan of Dashiell Hammett’s work—my favorite being his first novel, Red Harvest, a story gathered from several of his best Black Mask tales—so it was a great treat to be asked to review Return of the Thin Man, collecting the screen stories that Hammett completed as sequels to the hit movie adapted from his most successful book. How well does the collection fare? Check out my review here.
Press 53 Wine and Words Fest • November 2012
Press 53 debuted its 2012 Open Awards Anthology and formally presented the awards themselves on Saturday, November 10, at the Community Arts Cafe in Winston-Salem, NC. I was so pleased that my story “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” originally published in PANK Magazine, won first place in the flash fiction category of this year's awards.
Washington Post • October 2012
Having worked for many years at an art museum myself, I was very excited about the opportunity to review B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger, which takes readers into both the art world and the art forgery world through a tale inspired by the famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery. Much to admire here, but a key aspect of the story troubled me. Check out the full review here.
Washington Post • August 2012
The Twenty-Year Death marks an audacious debut for Baltimore-based novelist Ariel S. Winter, who channeled three legendary crime writers — Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson — to craft each of the three books that make up this all-in-one-volume trilogy. Check out my review in The Washington Post here.
Washington Post • July 2012
The Neruda Case, the first of Roberto Ampuero’s novels to be translated into English, offers a looks back at detective Cayetano Brule’s first case — and his distinguished first client, Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. Read my review here.
Press 53 Open Awards • June 2012
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which was originally published in PANK, won first place in the flash fiction category of the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards. An awards ceremony is planned for the annual Wine & Words Fest on Saturday, October 20, at the Community Arts Café in Winston-Salem, NC. The story will be featured in the Press 53 Open Awards Anthology 2012, to be released at that event. A good year for this story! (See entry immediately below as well.)
storySouth Million Writers Award • June 2012
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which was originally published in PANK, was named a notable story of 2011 as part of the storySouth Million Writers Awards. See the full list of notable stories here.
BookTalk: Double Indemnity • June 2012
On Sunday, June 10, I moderated a BookTalk at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity — a panel discussion featuring novelist Con Lehane, National Public Radio and Washington Post critic Maureen Corrigan, and Eleanor Holdridge, director of a stage adaptation of the novel at Round House Theatre. A nice turn-out and a fun discussion.
Strauss Fellowship • May 2012
The Arts Council of Fairfax County, Virginia selected me as one of this year’s Strauss Fellows. These fellowships “support and encourage Fairfax County’s finest creative artists in all disciplines and recognize professional working artists’ achievements and their demonstrated history of accomplishments.”
Conversations with James Ellroy • May 2012
Conversations with James Ellroy, edited by Steven Powell and just published by the University Press of Mississippi, surveys interviews with the Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction from 1984 through 2010 — including an interview I conducted with him in 2009, just before the publication of Blood’s a Rover.
Something Is Going To Happen • May 2012
Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine launched a new blog in early May called Something Is Going To Happen, a title that EQMM editor Janet Hutchings explains in her introductory column. I was equally flattered and intimidated to be asked to write the first guest post for the new blog; my column, “‘The Moment of Decision’ — Perched on the Edge of What Happens Next,” discusses the stories of Stanley Ellin, a criteria for short stories sketched out by John Updike, and a variety of tales which illustrate to one degree or another the idea of an open-ended story.
Mystery Scene • May 2012
The Spring 2012 issue of Mystery Scene features my essay “Where the Ripped Edges Peel Away,” examining Elizabeth Hand’s two Cassandra Neary novels: Generation Loss and Available Dark — the latter of which I also reviewed for the Washington Post (a review which prompted Mystery Scene to ask for this more extensive treatment of Hand’s books, in fact). My essay is part of a small package of articles on Hand, also including an interview with the novelist as well.
Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder • May 2012
My story “When Duty Calls” closes the new anthology Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder, published by Wildside Press in conjunction with the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley (with Andrews and Goffman contributing stories of their own), the collection also features short fiction by Shari Randall, C. Ellett Logan, Karen Cantwell, E.B. Davis, Jill Breslau, David Autry, Harriette Sackler, Ellen Herbert, Smita Harish Jain, Leone Ciporin, and Cathy Wiley. This year’s editorial panel included Ellen Crosby, Sandra Parshall, and Daniel Stashower; the anthology features a foreword by Elaine Viets; and the terrific cover is by Robin Templeton. A launch party (which I unfortunately can’t make) is planned for Sunday, May 20, at Arlington’s One More Page Books, but a second Maryland-based launch may also be in the works. In the meantime, get the collection through Wildside Press here.
Malice Domestic • April 2012
Once more this year, I moderated a panel at Malice Domestic—with a challenging topic and (fortunately!) some heavy-hitting panelists to field the questions. “Living with the Seven Deadly Sins: Mysteries as Modern Morality Plays” featured novelists Nancy J. Cohen, R.J. Harlick, Carolyn Hart, Tracy Kiely, and Margaret Maron. Check out the weekend’s full program here.
Derringer Award • April 2012
I’m so pleased that the voting members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society have chosen my story “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut” as one of the winners of the 2012 Derringer Award for Best Long Story (tied with Karen Pullen’s “Brea’s Tale”). My story originally appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in May 2011 (“reprinted” on my website here). This is my second year in a row winning a Derringer — certainly an honor in so many ways.
Barrelhouse Launch Party • March 2012
To celebrate their just-released Crime Issue, the good folks at Barrelhouse hosted a launch party on Wednesday, March 7, at the Black Squirrel, 2427 18th Street NW (Adams Morgan) in Washington, DC. The evening featured three readers: Michelle Dove, Tara Laskowski, and me (the first time, to my knowledge, that my wife, Tara, and I have read together). For full details, visit the event’s website here.
Derringer Award Nomination & EQMM Podcast • March 2012
I’m so pleased that the Short Mystery Fiction Society has chosen to nominate my story “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut” for the 2012 Derringer Award for Best Long Story. The story originally appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in May 2011, and the editors have graciously allowed me to “reprint” it on my website here — and in a surprise coincidence, EQMM has also just posted my reading of the story as part of the magazine’s monthly podcast series! Across all the categories, the list of this year’s Deringer nominees strikes me as particularly exemplery, and I’m humbled to be honored among such distinguished stories—and thrilled too to be included in the podcast series.
Mystery Scene • February 2012
Mystery Scene has just reprinted an older essay I did on Agatha Christie’s famed detective Hercule Poirot; the original appeared in the online journal MysteryNet.com, but I’m glad to see it get new life and a fresh audience here—and such a beautiful layout with great archival photos! (Just hoping that the essay still holds up and that I didn’t make any mistakes when I wrote it way back when!)
Washington Post • February 2012
Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark, a follow-up to her acclaimed novel Generation Loss, takes could’ve-been-somebody photographer Cass Neary from New York City to Finland and Iceland—and takes readers into some awfully grim existential places in the process. Read my review in the Washington Post here.
American Association of University Women • February 2012
The McLean, Virginia branch of the American Association of University Women asked me to join them on Saturday, February 11, for a chat on mysteries and thrillers, book reviewing, and specifically Laura Lippman’s I'd Know You Anywhere. Thanks to D.A. Spruzen (Dorothy Hassan) for the invitation and to the entire group for such a warm welcome and interesting conversation.
North Carolina Literary Review • February 2012
The North Carolina Literary Review has just published its first online issue, supplementing the journal’s annual print edition, which is published each fall. I'm pleased to have a review of John Hart's recent novel, Iron House, in the new mid-Winter publication. Check out the issue’s contents here, and click through to the electronic document from that page.
Washington Post • January 2012
I'll admit that I had high hopes for Dead Low Tide, Bret Lott's new “literary thriller” (as it's being heavily marketed)—especially given the Charleston, SC setting—but the book ultimately failed to succeed on either the “literary” or the “thriller” side of that phrase. Check out my full review here.
Barrelhouse • January 2012
The D.C.-based literary journal Barrelhouse has just published its special “Crime Issue,” including my story “Blue Plate Special” and a story by my wife, Tara Laskowski, too; hers, “The Etiquette of Homicide,” actually appears online in an annotated version as well. A special section on Small Town Noir includes several fine writers: Stewart O’Nan, Randall Brown, Stephen Graham Jones, Brian Evenson, and others. Check out the complete issue description and links here.
Virginia Commission for the Arts • November 2011
Though I fell just shy of the top honors, I was pleased to be included as a finalist for the Virginia Commission for the Arts’ 2011-2012 Artists’ Fellowships. Four of the state’s fiction writers earned $5000 fellowships in support of their writing: Samar Fitzgerald, Kelly Kerney, Marie Potoczny, and Steve Watkins. Four additional writers (out of the 81 total applicants) were named as finalists: Lenore Hart, Kristen Paige Madonia Gordon, Irene Ziegler, and yours truly. I'm honored to have made it as far as I did! See the full press release (pdf) here.
Washington Post • November 2011
Michael Connelly’s new Harry Bosch novel, The Drop, takes the book's title in several directions: a drop of blood that heats up the investigation into a cold case, a high-dive suicide that might instead have been a homicide in disguise, and then Harry's own contemplations about the end of his Deferred Retirement Option Plan. The plot is fast and furious, but one odd storytelling lapse kept this one from being good to the last... well, you know. Check out my review here.
Plots With Guns • October 2011
The Fall 2011 issue of Plots With Guns includes my story “Locked Out” amongst an impressive roster of stories by writers including Patti Abbott, Matthew C. Funk, Stephen Graham Jones, and Charles Dodd White, among others. The story itself was inspired by something that my wife and I happened across at an all-day country music concert a couple of years back—a troubling encounter still.
Northern Virginia Writers Club • October 2011
The Northern Virginia Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club invited me to speak about book reviewing at its Saturday, October 29 meeting — a great conversation with a terrific bunch of writers (and thanks to all of them for coming out on a very blustery day!).
Needle: A Magazine of Noir • October 2011
“The White Rose of Memphis”—a dark little story that emerged from a much-too-vivid nightmare —appears in the Fall 2011 issue of Needle: A Magazine of Noir alongside some very fine writers, including Ray Banks, Keith Rawson, and Holly West, plus a newly discovered story by the late, great Gil Brewer.
Library of Virginia, Richmond • October 2011
The Library of Virginia hosts "Whodunit? A Day of Mystery Madness for Mystery Fans" on Thursday, October 13, as part of the 2011 Virginia Literary Festival, and I'll be moderating the panel "What Comes First: Plot or Character?" with fellow authors Donna Andrews, Mollie Bryan, Meredith Cole, Ellen Crosby, and Alan Orloff. Other participants throughout the day span a who's who of Virginia crime writers, including G.M. Malliet, Katherine Neville, Brad Parks, Sandy Parshall, Andy Straka, and Steve Weddle, among others.
Mystery Scene • October 2011
The Fall 2011 Mystery Scene includes “This Woman's War,” my interview with North Carolina-based mystery writer Sarah R. Shaber, talking about Louise's War, the first book in a new series set in Washington, DC in the midst of World War II. (Readers of my blog got an advance glimpse at the interview back in August.) The issue also includes features on Val McDermid, James Sallis, and the new Spider-Man.
Bouchercon, St. Louis • September 2011
For this year's Bouchercon, Kate Stine and Brian Skupin of Mystery Scene magazine invited me to participate in a panel discussion with fellow critics and contributors to the magazine, including Oline Cogdill, Bill Crider, and Dick Lochte. Our chat — titled "Anything for a Friend" — takes place on Friday, September 16, at 2:30 p.m. in one of the meeting rooms at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand. An additional appearance: I'll be accepting one of the 2011 Derringer Awards on Thursday, September 15, at 4 p.m. as part of the panel "Murder by S.O.P."!
Washington Post • September 2011
Former MI6 agent Matthew Dunn's debut spy thriller, Spycatcher, gets off to a rough start both in its style (clumsy dialogue, laden with exposition) and its substance (some cartoonish strokes about main character Will Cochrane). But the balance of the novel is notably stronger, and Dunn promises better things to come as the series continues. Read my full review here.
PANK • September 2011
Thanks to guest editor Brad Green and editor Roxane Gay for featuring my story "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in PANK's Crime Issue, alongside some really fine writers, including Chris Offutt, Kyle Minor, Anthony Neil Smith, Keith Rawson, Aaron Morales, Frank Bill, and Eric Shonkwiler. Needless to say, however, don't try this recipe at home.
Last Rites Reading Series, Baltimore • August 2011
Nik Korpon, who runs the Last Rites Reading Series in Baltimore, has asked both Tara Laskowski and me to participate in the series' August reading. We'll be appearing at the Baltimore Hostel, 17 West Mulberry Street, Baltimore on Sunday, August 28, at 7 p.m. — and I'll likely preview my story, "The White Rose of Memphis," forthcoming in Needle: A Magazine of Noir.
North Carolina Literary Review • July 2011
In the new issue of NCLR, I interview Michael Malone, surveying his long and highly acclaimed career, from his debut novel, Painting the Roses Red, through his latest book, The Four Corners of the Sky — and with a nice discussion of my favorites among his books: the Justin Savile/Cuddy Mangum trilogy, including Uncivil Seasons, Time's Witness, and First Lady. Check out the issue's full contents here.
Mysterical-E • July 2011
"Hard-boiled Sweetheart," a very short story that began as an excercise in writing sonnets, has been published in the Summer 2011 issue of the online mystery magazine Mystical-E. It's a fun pub with a fine reputation, and I'm pleased to have this little piece make its debut here. (And if you're able to decipher where the line breaks once were, you might see an additional bit of wordplay at work.)