Archive for March, 2011


News: Derringer Award

March 31, 2011

I’m honored — and more than a little stunned — by the news this morning that my story “Rearview Mirror,” originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (March/April 2010), won the 2011 Derringer Award for Best Novelette.

The full list of winners includes:

  • Flash Story (<1001 words) — TIE: “The Book Signing,” by Kathy Kencharik, Thin Ice: Crime Stories by New England Writers, 2010 and “The Unknown Substance,” by Jane Hammons, A Twist of Noir, Dec. 27, 2010
  • Short Story (1001 – 4000 words): “Pewter Badge” by Michael J. Solender, Yellow Mama, August, 2010.
  • Long Story (4001 – 8000 words) — TIE: “Care of the Circumcised Penis,” by Sean Doolittle, Thuglit Presents: Blood, Guts, and Whiskey, 2010 and “Interpretation of Murder,” by B. K. Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, December 2010
  • Novelette (8001 – 17,500 words): “Rearview Mirror,” by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 2010

Congrats to all! — Art Taylor


Interview: Kelli Stanley, author of The Curse-Maker. Upcoming: Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly’s Child

March 18, 2011

The Writer’s Center has recently asked me to begin hosting their new podcast series, which debuted in February and has already featured interviews with novelist Alice McDermott (here) and novelist and critic Alan Cheuse (here; neither conducted by me, incidentally). For my first interview, published here today, I chatted by phone with San Francisco-based mystery writer Kelli Stanley, the author of two highly praised historical mystery series. Her Roman Noir novels put a twist on that old French phrase: They’re actually set in first-century Britannia, what we know today as Roman Britain. The first book in that series, Nox Dormienda, introduced the amateur detective Arcturus and became a Writer’s Digest Notable Debut, won the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award and was a Macavity Award finalist. A follow-up, The Curse-Maker, was published last month and is the focus of much of our conversation here. Stanley’s second series is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1940. The first of those books, City of Dragons, has just recently been named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a second, City of Secrets, will be released later this year.

I had the great fortune to fall into conversation with Stanley at last year’s Bouchercon by the Bay in San Francisco — at a “black envelope” Litanies of Noir event that also featured readings by Megan Abbott, Cara BlackDavid Corbett, Eddie Muller, Domenic Stansberry, and more — and our chat proved one of the highlights of the entire trip, so I was glad to catch up with her again more officially this month. Check out the full interview here.

Angela Davis-Gardner’s Butterfly’s Child

For next month’s podcast for The Writer’s Center, I’ll be chatting with novelist Angela Davis-Gardner about her new novel Butterfly’s Child, which offers a literary twist on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Kirkus Reviews has already heaped some lavish praise on the new book, noting that “the novel is told with control, precision and emotional understatement. In its way, it holds its own alongside the modern Western masterpieces of Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. For all its melancholy and madness, it strikes themes of hope and renewal, and believing in the unbelievable.”

Davis-Gardner will be touring through North Carolina over the next month, beginning this Sunday, March 20, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Check out the full schedule at her own website — and be sure to stay tuned for our podcast interview in mid-April. — Art Taylor


News: Algonquin Book Club

March 11, 2011

The good folks over at Algonquin Books have just launched an exciting new initiative: The Algonquin Book Club, pairing several of Algonquin’s authors with other distinguished writers for conversations at locations around the country. Even better news? Whether you can make any event in person or not, each interview will be broadcast simultaneously on the web. First up is Julia Alvarez, talking about one of her earlier novels, In the Time of the Butterflies, with Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I’m Dying, on March 21, at 7 p.m. The event takes place at at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida, and the webcast can be found here. In advance of this debut event, Algonquin is also offering reading resources, including an new essay from Julia Alvarez about the novel, a reading group guidebook club tips and ideas, and wine and recipe pairings inspired by the book.

Future events in the series include:

  • 4/26: Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), interviewed by Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help
  • 8/18: Heidi Durrow (The Girl Who Fell from the Sky), interviewed by Terry McMillan, author of Getting to Happy
  • 10/20: Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife), interviewed by Patricia Cornwell, author of Port Mortuary

And then in March of next year: Lauren Grodstein (A Friend of the Family), interviewed by Stephen King, author of Full Dark, No Stars.


News: “Deadline! Journalists in Crime Movies” in Mystery Scene Magazine

March 9, 2011

The new issue of Mystery Scene has just arrived, and with it comes a treasure trove of interesting features for fans of mystery, crime and suspense. Highlights for me include: a profile of Jill Paton Walsh, who’s been continuing the Lord Peter Wimsey novels; a look at “Killer Covers” by J. Kingston Pierce (who also runs a weekly, classic version of that feature over at The Rap Sheet); Craig McDonald’s reflections on his new book One True Sentence, which reimagines Hemingway’s Moveable Feast “as a historical thriller”; and Lawrence Block on two masters of mystery: a longer reflection on Evan Hunter/Ed McBain and a short appreciation of “Agatha Christie, Artful Stylist.” And speaking of Christie, one of her characters — Rosy Legge, a dancer from The Body in the Library — appears in Louis Phillips’ column, surveying several “aptonyms” from the Golden Age.

I’m pleased to have an article of my own among the mix. “Deadline! Journalists in Crime Movies” looks at the similarities between reporters and detectives and surveys a few fine crime films that feature journalists in leading roles — ranging from His Girl Friday (1940) to All the President’s Men (1976) to the recent and upcoming adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. And wasn’t there some moderately successful film about a reporter trying to solve the mystery of a dying man’s last word….?


"Rosebud" was his... well, you know.

Happy reading — and if you take my advice on these films, happy watching too! Art Taylor


Review: Shortcut Man by P.G. Sturges

March 4, 2011

It might be easy to find fault with P.G. Sturges’ debut book, the comic crime novel Shortcut Man. I’ve seen at least one review complaining about the slightness of the book and the derivativeness of the plot. The sex scenes (plenty) might push away a few readers. Sturges does prove prone to a swift and disorienting point-of-view shift or a sudden insertion of information that ultimately has no bearing on the story at hand. And yet….

And yet when I sat down to write the review just published by AARP, I found that any small reservations were simply wiped away by the novel’s brisk momentum, its infectious enthusiasm, and the way that Sturges just keeps bounding ahead with such pluck and (as a fellow reviewer mentioned in an email exchange) brio. Shortcut Man strikes me as a more-than-solid debut and (hopefully) a strong start to a new series of darkly comic mysteries, and I’d frankly be surprised if most readers aren’t ultimately won over as well.

Here’s a quick excerpt from my take on the book:

The set-up here is classic film-noir nastiness, replete with a breathtaking femme fatale. [Title character] Dick [Henry] is hired by “erotica” producer Artie Benjamin to find out whether Artie’s wife, Judy, is cheating on him — no names or photos, please, just a simple yes or a no. The job seems easy enough until Dick lays eyes on Judy: She’s a dead ringer for his own current fling, a frisky stewardess named Lynnette. Indeed, Judy is Lynnette — and suddenly Dick Henry is investigating himself. Complications ensue when Artie’s “I just need to know” escalates into ever-more-pressing requests, with correspondingly zany fallout — film noir verging on dark screwball comedy.

Read the full review here. — Art Taylor

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