Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chris Grabenstein

Chris Grabenstein, whodunit mysteries, thrillers and young adult horror
by Steven Williams

A color photo of Chris Grabenstein.Chris Grabenstein was born in Buffalo, New York and moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee with his family when he was ten years old because of his father's job transfer. He grew up in Tennessee and also went on to college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he graduated in 1977 with a journalism communications degree. At university he was equally involved in his writing and in his acting with the university's Clarence Brown Theatre. In 1979 he left Chattanooga for New York City where he became an improvisational comedian with a Greenwich Village comedy troupe in the early 1980s named The First Amendment Theatre. His comedy work was an evening gig done for the love of the work while he worked a day job as a typist in a bank to pay the rent. His enjoyment of improvisational acting is reflected in the fact that he still occasionally performs. After five years with the improv group, he was hired as a professional advertising writer based on his application to a Write If You Want Work Writing Aptitude Test printed as a full-page ad in The New York Times and created by James Patterson, at that time the Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson Advertising. black and white photograph of James PattersonFor the next seventeen years Grabenstein wrote commercials. His writing on the side during this period included screenplays, made-for-TV movies, and Muppet scripts. In 2001 he left his position as EVP/Group Creative Director at Young and Rubicam in New York to begin working on his first book.

Grabenstein feels that the quality of his writing is in part, related to his earlier professional work in which writing thirty second TV spots required mini-stories that quickly developed immediate viewer interest and excitement. In addition to his professional writing in advertising, Grabenstein also gives significant credit for his decision to write mysteries based on his own enthusiastic consumption of mystery fiction. Once he decided to become a professional writer, he began writing screenplays. He eventually decided to turn his seventh screenplay idea into a novel. This manuscript was never sold but it was good enough for him to acquire a professional agent. His second attempt at a novel was eventually split off and developed into three more novel manuscripts. Eventually, he came up with an idea for a specific type of character for his primary detective as an ongoing character. At about the same period of in his development as a mystery writer he made a breakthrough, finally finding a 'true' narrator's 'voice' that worked for him. 'Broadway Tails, Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars' by Bill Berloni and Jim Hanrahan front coverAt about the same time he also decided on the sort of mysteries he wanted to write. The end result of this flurry of development as a writer was Tilt-a-Whirl, his first published novel and a winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Mystery. Grabenstein is a disciplined writer, producing about 2,000 words each day. As an aid to his writing he also finds himself actually regularly returning to his skill, experience, and enjoyment of improvisational theater work by beginning most of his writing sessions with improvisational exercises. Grabenstein currently lives in Manhattan with his wife, their dog Fred, and their three cats, Jeanette, Parker, and Tiger Lilly. Fred has his own book coming out in June 2008 (Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars by Bill Berloni and Jim Hanrahan).

'Tilt-a-Whirl, A John Ceepak Mystery' by Chris Grabenstein hard cover edition front coverTilt-a-Whirl: A John Ceepak Mystery (2005)
Grabenstein's first novel is a police procedural whodunit mystery with a seriocomic tone that introduces the two recurring characters of the series as a sort of Holmes-Watson pairing of police partners: the full-timer, a by-the-book Boy Scout with a rigid moral code and a part-timer, a young and a smart-alecky part-time cop who also provides the series' narrative voice. The story is set in the imaginary south Jersey seaside summer resort town of Sea Haven. John Ceepak, the full-time cop, is a former Army MP just back from Iraq and he takes his job very seriously, spending his spare time reading about forensics and watching true-crime television. His part-time cop partner, Danny Boyle, turns out to have very little in common with his partner except for their shared love for the music of Bruce Springsteen. In this first mystery of the series, the murder of a media-hungry real estate magnate at the town's seedy amusement park engages both men in the investigation. Tilt-a-Whirl is a winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Mystery and it also ended up on several 'Best Mysteries of 2005' lists.

'Mad Mouse, A John Ceepak Mystery' by Chris Grabenstein hardcover edition front coverMad Mouse: A John Ceepak Mystery (April, 2006)
The second John Ceepak seriocomic mystery finds John and his partner Danny gearing up for the town's busy Labor Day weekend. Danny is expecting to be promoted to full time status and in the mean time has been seeing a local girl. Suddenly things turn very serious after a paintball barrage is aimed at Danny and his friends while they are hanging out at the beach. The perpetrator switches from paintballs to live ammunition in a second attack in which he severely wounds Danny's girlfriend and kills one of Danny’s friends. Whoever it is begins stalking Danny and the surviving group of beach buddies, all as part of an apparent madman’s scheme for revenge. The town's mayor puts pressure on the police department to find the killer as quickly as possible at the same time he tries to keep the story hush-hush. He is worried about scaring away tourist dollars. The two cops set out to discover the wannabe killer's identity, egged on by calling cards that the murderer leaves at the scene featuring Derek Jeter and comic book superheroes. The Kirkus Review named Mad Mouse one of the Ten Best Mysteries of 2006.

'Slay Ride, A Christopher Miller Holiday Thriller' by Chris Grabenstein hardcover edition front coverSlay Ride: A Christopher Miller Holiday Thriller (September, 2006)
Grabenstein's third novel is a thriller and introduces a new recurring character, Christopher Miller, and a new series. The main character is a middle-aged FBI legend and, two weeks before Christmas, he is hoping to finally be able to start spending more time with his family. This is not to be though. A successful young advertising executive complains about the manic driver provided for his limousine ride to the Newark airport by a car service out of Brooklyn. The unintended consequence is that the ex-driver becomes an avenging dark angel determined to wreck revenge on the man he holds responsible for ruining his life. He does this by kidnapping the man. The connection between the advertising exec and the FBI man comes about because of the coincidence that a serial killer has been killing cab drivers every full moon on the same section of Jersey shore where the ad exec's family lives. There ends up being a real connection beyond just coincidence when Miller discovers a money-laundering scheme operated out of the Brighton Beach area. The ex-limo driver stalker turns out to be ex-KGB and he had been working for a limousine service run by Brighton Beach Russian exile mafia. This novel is a marked departure from Grabenstein's previous books with much darker settings and brutal executions.

'Whack a Mole, A John Ceepak Mystery' by Chris Grabenstein hardcover edition front coverWhack a Mole: A John Ceepak Mystery (May, 2007)
The third John Ceepak novel by Grabenstein finds Ceepak and his partner in pursuit of a serial killer. Ceepak's hobby, using a metal detector to find things buried on the beach uncovers a class ring and then a charm bracelet. They peek his curiosity and further research reveals that the ring's owner not only has never visited the beachside town, but he actually gave the ring to his girlfriend just before she disappeared in the 1980s after her mother kicked her out of the house. Soon more jewelry is found on the beach and every piece that is identified is found to have belonged to a teenage girl who also went missing in the 1980s. Next a town character and member of the Sea Haven Treasure Hunters Society finds an old Tupperware box buried at the beach containing a skull, a name, and a picture of the girl whose skull it turns out to be. To top things off, the little-visited local history museum suddenly has additions to its exhibits in the form of ears and noses preserved in jars of formaldehyde. In the mean time, the two police partners are assigned patrol duty for a major sand castle construction competition being held in town this year. Unfortunately, the cushy assignment changes tone abruptly when the sandcastle building uncovers more boxes with skulls, pictures, and names of the dead girls. All the indications are that there is a long dormant serial killer living in town and the only real clue to an identity seems to be that each of the dead girl's first names has a biblical reference.

'Hell for the Holidays, A Christopher Miller Holiday Thriller' by Chris Grabenstein hardcover edition front coverHell for the Holidays: A Christopher Miller Holiday Thriller (October, 2007)
Grabenstein's second Christopher Miller holiday thriller finds Miller coming up against a domestic White Supremacist hate group that is apparently copying Al Quaeda's tactics. Miller's investigation reveals that they have managed to smuggle a stinger missile into the country as well as recruit a trained army sniper. All indications are that they intend to destroy a passenger jet as it takes off from New York City's JFK airport. When Miller goes to his superiors at the regional FBI office with his conclusions, no one wants to hear it. The local FBI office is focused on foreign terrorists and the large Arab Muslim population living in Jersey City. Then Miller discovers that the homegrown terrorists are poised to strike on Thanksgiving Day in a perverted commemoration of God's supposedly giving the country to his 'chosen people', the whites. As the pace of Miller's pursuit of the wannabe killers accelerates, he finds himself encumbered by the added complication of trying to cope with his daughter's posttraumatic stress. After all, it has only been since the previous Christmas that a maniacal ex-KGB 'Santa' kidnapped the girl. As the clock ticks down the danger ratchets up when the white supremacist terrorist cell assigned to the airport attack takes a little independent initiative and decides that maybe a bigger splash can be made by a well-planned attack on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

'The Crossroads' by Chris Grabenstein hardcover edition front coverThe Crossroads (May, 2008)
'The Crossroads' is Grabenstein's first of an intended series of young adult ghost stories. The main character, Zack, has just moved back to his father's hometown and into a 'new' old house with his Dad and his new stepmother. It turns out that the house harbors a dark secret though. Apparently fifty years earlier a crazed killer caused a terrible accident at a nearby crossroads that resulted in the deaths of almost forty people. Unfortunately for him, he was caught up in his own machinations and was killed in the same accident, but his evil spirit became trapped within an ancient tree that happened to be standing at the fatal crossroads. Zack is certain he can see a man's face hidden within the gnarly bark pattern on the tree. Uncertain of his father's reaction to his claim, Zach instead confides in a librarian at his school. It turns out that she actually has a graduate degree in Comparative Theology and she confirms that there are ancient beliefs that tormented souls can indeed become trapped within ancient trees. Then, during a huge storm, lightning hits the tree releasing the evil spirit of the mad killer.

'Hell Hole, A JOhn Ceepak Mystery' by Chris Grabenstein hardcover edition front coverHell Hole: A John Ceepak Mystery (July, 2008)
The fourth John Ceepak mystery puts Ceepak in a situation where everything is personal, too personal. It begins with an alleged suicide of an Army corporal recently back from a tour of duty in Iraq. Though the death appears to be an open-and-shut case of suicide because the body was found in a locked stall at a highway rest stop, the reality is not nearly so simple. Ceepak and his partner Boyle discover that it may not have been suicide after all. At the same time they come to this conclusion, they also uncover indications that this lowly corporal might actually have had access to some very sensitive information about a conspiracy. This information apparently seems to implicate some very powerful and, unfortunately for the two police partners, very unpleasant people.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Mind Scrambler' by Chris Grabenstein.Mind Scrambler: A John Ceepak Mystery (June, 2009)
This is Grabenstein's fifth mystery featuring John Ceepak, an ultra-straight-arrow cop with a laid-back partner working the beat in Atlantic City. The story begins with Ceepak's partner meeting an old flame who is currently working as a nanny for the children of a master illusionist. They plan to meet later because she wants to ask his advice about something. Before they can meet though, she is found bound, gagged, wearing fetish gear, and dead. The case turns out to involve some professional illusionists who apparently have some nasty secrets they want to keep hidden. One murder seems to lead to another and evidence starts to show up that both torture and pedophilia might be involved.

A color photo of the front cover of 'The Hanging Hill' by Chris Grabenstein.The Hanging Hill (August, 2009)
This is Grabenstein's second young adult horror novel and is a sequel to his first, The Crossroads. Like the first book, this story is filled with a mix of haunting creepiness tempered by humor. The two main characters from The Crossroads, Zack and his stepmother Judy are back in a story about ritual murder committed in order to acquire magical power. The two are rehearsing for a musical play titled Curiosity Cat and based on Judy's bestselling children's book series. Zack still has his ability to see ghosts and the setting is perfect for that. The performance is being held in The Hanging Hill Playhouse, a building with a dark history. A series of mysterious ghosts appear and other strange happenings send Zack and a female actor his own age looking around in the creepy old building. Little do they know that the director of the musical is more than a little nuts and has become fascinated with necromancy. He is actually intending to use Zach for a human sacrifice in order to raise a swarm of evil ghosts up from the dead.

Chris Grabenstein
Chris Grabenstein at MWA
Chris Grabenstein interview
another Chris Grabenstein interview

color photograph of Chris Grabenstein's dog Fred

Newer Article: Melissa Marr, literary Goth writer of young adult fiction


Older Article: Beer Bread, a bronze age flavor variation with other ideas

Creative Commons License
Chris Grabenstein, whodunit mysteries, thrillers and young adult horror by Steven Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting Steven Williams through Bookmarc's BookmarcsOnline.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beer Bread

Beer Bread, a bronze age flavor variation with other ideas
by Steven Williams

color photograph of beer and its raw ingredientsThe basic ingredients of beer are water, barley, yeast, and hops. In fact, this list of ingredients is the same as the one listed in the oldest food quality regulation in the world, The Reinheitsgebot. This regulation or law is best known in English as the German Beer Purity Law. The Reinheitsgebot was first put into legal effect in 1516 and stipulated that beer should only contain water, barley, and hops. Yeast was not considered an ingredient because it was not known to be a microorganism until the mid-nineteenth century. Not surprisingly, these basic ingredients used to make beer (water, grain, and yeast) happen to be almost exactly the same ingredients used in the simplest breads. It is because of this similarity in ingredients that beer has such a complimentary effect when it is used as a primary ingredient for 'quick' bread, and it is also why the beer bread type of 'quick' bread tastes so good. The following recipe makes an especially tasty beer bread and as an extra it has some added historical flavorings: barley was the first domesticated grain most suitable for growing in Northern Europe and honey was the first sweetener. This basic beer bread recipe is also easily variable and very forgiving for even the most inexperienced cook to experiment with.

A basic 'quick' Beer Bread recipe with some Bronze Age flavorings:
1 1/2 cups barley flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread or pastry flour
14 fluid ounces of beer at room temperature (one bottle of beer plus a little more liquid, beer or water)
color photograph of a loaf of beer bread type quick bread1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon baking powder

Optional ingredients:
4 tablespoons granulated sugar can be substituted for the honey
1 tablespoon butter at room temperature
egg glaze: 1 egg and 2 teaspoons water, beaten

Turn the oven 'On' to 375 degrees so that it will already be pre-heated by the time that the batter is ready to bake. For a basic beer bread mix, combine and mix the dry ingredients, the flour, sugar (if you are using this instead of honey), salt, and baking powder, in a large mixing bowl. Add the honey (if you are using this instead of sugar) and then slowly stir in the beer, mixing everything together just enough to combine all the ingredients. Generally, you will get the lightest or least dense 'quick' bread if you do not mix it any more than necessary to bring all the ingredients together. Because of this, it is at this step, just before you begin to stir in the beer, that you should add any additional moist ingredients like fresh herbs or fruit or cheese. The resulting batter will be quite thick. color photograph of a quick bread baked in a cast iron skilletSpread it into a greased eight-inch loaf pan or any other appropriately sized baking pan. Generally, almost any sort of baking pan that is the right size to hold the batter will work for cooking simple 'quick' breads like this beer bread, but a cast-iron skillet makes an exceptionally fine baking pan for this type of bread. It is at this point, once the batter has been put into the baking pan, that you would also brush the top of the uncooked loaf with the egg glaze if you have decided to add this to your bread.

Beer-leavened breads turn out best when they are cooked using a slow baking time, usually between forty-five minutes to an hour. The loaf will be finished baking when its center is completely cooked. To test if the center is cooked yet or not, stick a knife or a toothpick through the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean then the loaf is ready. After baking, remove the loaf from the baking pan. At this point you can rub the top and sides of the loaf with butter if this is your preference. After removing the loaf from the baking pan, allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving it. Generally, allowing the loaf to cool will make it a little easier to slice, but it may be difficult to wait too long before tasting it. Keep in mind that all 'quick' breads (i.e., a little heavy or dense) will be a bit difficult to slice. photograph of yeast cellsIn beer bread as with most types of 'quick' breads it is the combined effects of the baking powder, the carbonation in the beer, and the yeast in the beer that together cause the beer bread to rise or 'leaven', though the result will always be relatively dense when compared to true 'yeast' breads. Because the beer provides a significant part of the leavening effect, a 'bottle-conditioned' beer will produce the lightest beer bread. This is because 'bottle-conditioned' beer has the largest amount of active (i.e. live) yeast in it.

In this basic recipe, the proportion of barley to whole-wheat flour can be changed to as much as about three cups of whole-wheat flour with no barley flour at all. Generally, whole-wheat bread flour will be denser and chewier than whole-wheat pastry flour, which will be denser than regular bread flour, which will be denser than general-purpose flour. Also, with experience it will be easier to tell from the texture of the batter whether more flour or more liquid needs to be added to achieve the best consistency before the batter is spread into the baking pan and placed in the oven.

color photograph of a sliced beer bread loafThere are many possible flavor variations that can be made beginning with this basic recipe and the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. You can add different herbs or even native plants for different flavors. Some native plants that might be fun to experiment with are wild garlic, burdock roots, wild onions, young nettles, etc. Experiment with different beers and ales also. A darker beer will give the bread a deeper flavor. Fruit flavored ales like apricot ale, raspberry ale, peach ale, etc., can be used as the basis for a sweeter or dessert type of beer bread especially with the addition of wild or store-bought berries and a larger quantity of granulated sugar, up to about 1/3 of a cup, added to the mix.

black and white macrophotograph of gluten strands in bread doughA quick note about gluten:
Gluten, also called glutenin, is a particular type of protein found in various grains. Wheat generally has some of the highest gluten content of all cereal grains. In general, protein molecules are strong and somewhat stretchy, but gluten is an especially elastic and stretchy type of protein and wheat gluten is an especially elastic type of gluten protein. It is this stretchiness that gives bread its lightness when combined with yeast. The yeast digests the sugar and starch in the flour producing carbon dioxide gas as a by-product of digestion. The gas bubbles are held in place by the stretchy, elastic gluten and this gives yeast breads their characteristic airiness and lightness. Using high gluten flour like wheat flour or especially a bread type of wheat flour, (i.e., hard red winter wheat flour) in a 'quick' bread yields bread that is considerably denser and heavier that most people are familiar with. There are other choices of flour that can add interesting complexity of flavor or different tastes to your beer bread. Rye flour has a low gluten content (only about 2% versus about 13-15% in wheat flour). Barley flour has both significantly less gluten than wheat plus barley gluten is not as 'stretchy' as wheat gluten. Oat flour, even though it has a relatively high protein content (about 17% versus 12% in hard wheat flour), has no gluten at all. color photograph of rye fieldTherefore, adding rye, barley, or oat flour or, in fact, any other non-wheat flour to your beer bread will make it denser than if you use only wheat flour. Always keep in mind though that because beer bread is not a 'yeast' bread, it will always be quite a bit denser than store-bought or even homemade sandwich bread, even the whole-wheat variety. For 'quick' breads like beer bread, using whole-wheat flour instead of 'bread' flour and especially 'general purpose' flour also will make for a noticeably denser loaf. When substituting other flours in the basic recipe, the general rule of thumb is to use no less than one cup of wheat flour for every cup used of non-wheat flour, a one-to-one ratio of wheat flour to other flour(s).

Some more detailed suggestions for beer bread flavor variations:
color photograph of carraway seedsFor an onion rye bread sauté about one cup of finely chopped onion and one tablespoon of caraway seeds in olive oil, or any other cooking oil, over a medium heat. Cook this mixture until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, usually about five to eight minutes. Let this cooked onion and caraway seed mixture cool to room temperature before adding it to the beer bread mix. Also, add it just before you are about to stir the beer into the mixed dry ingredients. You might need to add just a little more beer or water with the cooked onion and caraway mixture to achieve the right texture for the batter. You can obtain a stronger rye flavor by substituting up to one cup of rye flour for an equal measure of the whole wheat or bread flour you are using to make your beer bread batter mix.

The flavor of cheddar cheese and dill go well together. To make a cheddar and dill beer bread combine two tablespoons of chopped fresh dill with two tablespoons of finely grated sharp cheddar cheese and add it to the beer bread mix.

color photograph of an herb garden with sage, oregano, thme and variegated sageAnother variant is to add garlic and complimentary herbs. For this variation using dried herbs, combine two minced garlic cloves with one teaspoon of dried rosemary, one teaspoon of dried oregano, and one teaspoon of dried thyme in the basic beer bread mix. If fresh herbs are available, use one chopped tablespoon of each. You will achieve the best effect if you add the herbs to the dry ingredients before stirring in the beer.

Dill and chives also go well together in this bread. For this variation, combine two tablespoons of fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) with about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh chives in the basic beer bread mix.

color photograph of hard cheese assortmentFor an Italian type bread combine one teaspoon of dried basil with one teaspoon of dried oregano, two minced garlic cloves, and 1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan or Romano cheese and add stir this into the basic beer bread mix. If fresh herbs are available, use one chopped tablespoon of each.

Some other possible variations of ingredients to consider are: any dried or fresh herbs at a ratio of about one teaspoon dried or one tablespoon fresh each; any type of hard cheese using 1/2 cup of it freshly grated; add 1/2 cup of chopped scallions or 1/2 of cup chopped fresh parsley; add 1/2 cup of rolled oats in place of 1/2 cup of the wheat flour; the possibilities are endless.

color photograph of hop flowers on the vineA note about hops, beer flavor, and bread
Hops are added to beer as a bitterness that counters the sweetness of the malt and for the pleasing aroma it adds to beer. In addition to flavor, hops also provide a preservative quality that extends the shelf life of beer, especially important when no refrigeration technology existed. Before the introduction of hops to the process of beer brewing, beginning in about the eleventh century, the desirable qualities of bitterness and preservative were provided by brewing botanicals, i.e., herb blends known as 'gruit' or 'grut'. The use of some brewing botanicals endure either as ingredients in pre-hops styles of traditional beers or as flavorings used to add complexity to modern beers. Significantly, the herbs used in gruits all tend to be mildly to moderately narcotic making the choice of their blends and proportions complex, relatively expensive, and slightly problematic. color photograph of a beer selectionThe introduction of hops greatly simplified the use of botanicals in brewing both for flavoring as well as preservation. Hops themselves are actually the female flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus). It is important to note that a significant part of the flavoring quality that hops add to beer is the hops variety added to a beer during brewing specifically for ‘the nose’. This flavor quality provided by smell is based on aromatic oils and, unfortunately, these aromatic oils have a particular tendency to cook out of food under prolonged or high heat. In general though, beer lovers will be most satisfied with beer breads that use beers that they also enjoy drinking. The rule of thumb is to use a beer that appeals to you as a beverage and the resulting beer bread made with it should also appeal to you.

For additional recipes see also:
Andalusian Gaspacho, a recipe by Van Wyck Brooks
Spring Fava Beans, Roman Style
Christmas holiday food and drink from the works of Charles Dickens
Beef Burgundy, Crackling Bread, Pice Ar Y Maen, Sevillian Yellow Plum Conserve, and Les Ioles (Writers' and Artists' recipes)
Omlette Aurore by Alice B. Toklas, Artists' and Writers' Recipes

Newer Article: Chris Grabenstein, whodunit mysteries, thrillers and young adult horror


Older Article: Jane K. Cleland, amateur sleuth cozy mysteries with a flavoring of ‘The Antiques Roadshow’

Creative Commons License
Beer Bread, a bronze age flavor variation with other ideas by Steven Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting Steven Williams through Bookmarc's BookmarcsOnline.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jane K. Cleland

Jane K. Cleland, amateur sleuth cozy mysteries with a flavoring of ‘The Antiques Roadshow’
by Steven Williams

color photograph of Jane K. ClelandJane K. Cleland is an emerging new writer of amateur sleuth cozy mysteries. Her books feature the recurring character Josie Prescott and some reviewers have made comparisons of Cleland's antiques focused mysteries to the PBS series The Antiques Roadshow. Both the setting and the experiences of her Josie Prescott character is based on the author's own experiences as a one-time owner of a rare book and antiques store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Especially the complexity of appraising antiques. Cleland currently lives in New York City with her husband. In addition to writing, Cleland runs her own business communications firm an outgrowth of her earning an MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The business side focuses on writing seminars for the American Management Association and developing and facilitating specific workshops for clients. In her mystery fiction related life she fills the post of president for the New York chapter of the Mystery Writers of America as well as chairing the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards. The Wolfe Pack is the official Nero Wolfe society and focuses on providing a forum for discussion and appreciation of the adventures of Nero Wolfe, the fictional detective created by the American mystery writer Rex Stout. The Pack's activities include organizing events and book discussions as well as publishing a journal dedicated to study of Stout's genius detective and sponsoring a number of literary awards, including of course the Nero Award. Cleland's business communications publications include How to Create High-impact Newsletters, How to Create High-impact Designs, Putting First What Matters Most, and Business Writing for Results.

'Consigned to Death, A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery' by Jane K. Cleland hardcover edition front coverConsigned to Death: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (2006)
Cleland's first book introduces her recurring character, Josie Prescott. Josie has left a career at a prominent New York auction house for a sort of semi-retirement as an antiques dealer and auctioneer in a small New Hampshire coastal town. The change was not completely voluntary though since she had to leave after testifying against her former boss regarding the New York auction house's involvement in a price fixing scandal. She is happy enough with her lifestyle change until she becomes mixed up in the stabbing death of a wealthy, reclusive antiques dealer because the local police chief pegs her as one of the prime suspects. She finds herself setting off to find the killer herself and clear her name. It turns out that the murder is in some way related to a few valuable paintings of questionable provenance that went missing at about the same time as the murder. In the process of tracking the killer or killers as well as the paintings, the somewhat ethically murky world of antiques is presented with its blend of cutthroat competition, price fixing, haggling, and both difficult clients and competitors. This book is an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association bestseller. It has also been nominated for the Maccavity, Agatha, and David book awards.

'Deadly Appraisal, A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery' by Jane K. Cleland hardcover edition front coverDeadly Appraisal: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (2007)
In Cleland's second Josie Prescott mystery, her main character's antiques business is thriving and she has begun to develop friendships within the New Hampshire coastal town where she has decided to put down new roots. Her amateur sleuthing abilities are called up again when a suspicious death hits close to home. It all begins when Josie decides to host a benefit for a local charity, the Portsmouth Women's Guild. One of the people attending the gala event, actually one of the guild's representatives, dies suddenly and Josie, as one of the people who had access to the food preparation area, is on the list of suspects in what turns out to have been a deliberate poisoning. Josie finds herself again trying to discover the motivation and the killer in order to clear her name. As Josie follows her leads she finds a possible relationship to the murder in the theft of a valuable Chinese porcelain tureen. It has been replaced with a fake, apparently in an effort to wreck Josie's reputation. While she is conducting her investigation, she must also continue to keep her business going as well as build on the tenuous social relationships she has been able to establish so far.

'Antiques to Die for, A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery' by Jane K. Cleland hardcover edition front coverAntiques to Die For: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (April, 2008)
April 2008 is the scheduled release date for the third Josie Prescott antiques mystery. In this story, Cleland has Josie continuing to build on her initial business success in the small New Hampshire coastal town she has relocated to from New York City. Things mysterious and deadly just seem to keep showing up right at her feet though. This time it is the death of a friend. Just hours after Josie was given a personal secret, told in confidence, the woman is killed. Fortunately for Josie, this time the list of suspects does not include her but it does include the dead woman's boss, his scheming wife, and the dead woman's boyfriend. An additional complication for Josie does turn up though in the form of the dead woman's twelve year old sister who Josie decides to take into her own home. As in Cleland's previous Josie Prescott mysteries, antiques play an important role in unraveling the motivation and the identity of the murderer.

black and white photograph of Dorothy L. SayersCozy Mysteries
Cozy Mysteries are a sub-genre of mysteries that is also known as 'English' style Whodunits or Golden Age Whodunits. As a variant of the whodunit detective mystery, the English or Golden Age style is noted for an inclination towards the use of a gifted amateur as the primary investigator of the murder instead of an official detective or police officer. Some of the most recognized writers in this style are Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Michael Innes, Nicholas Blake, Christianna Brand and Edmund Crispin. Notable American writers who mimicked the English style include S. S. Van Dine, John Dickson Carr, and Ellery Queen.

See also the related Bookmarc’s BookmarcsOnline Blogspot articleModern Mystery Genres, proliferation in popular fiction styles

color photograph of an Agatha Award 'Teapot'Agatha Award
The Agatha Awards are fan-generated literary awards for mystery and crime authors that are given out by Malice Domestic. Malice Domestic is an annual mystery fan convention held in metropolitan Washington, DC that celebrates the traditional mystery as typified by Agatha Christie's mystery novels. Malice Domestic convention registrants and members of Friends of Malice receive nomination ballots in January. For works to be nominated, they must have been submitted to Malice Domestic for consideration for nomination by their publishers within the previous year. The Agatha Awards are given out at the subsequent annual Malice Domestic convention and they are given out for five categories: Best Novel, Best First Mystery, Best Short Story, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Children's or Young Adult Mystery. Malice Domestic logoAgatha Award nominees must have a number of characteristics. Any work considered for an Agatha Award must have been published first in the United States plus it needs to have been written by a living author. Publication of considered works may be as hardcover editions, paperback original editions, or e-published editions. For any mystery to be considered for any of the Agatha Award categories, it must contain no explicit sex, excessive gore, or unjustified violence. Agatha Award nominees almost always feature an amateur detective as well as always taking place within a confined setting (i.e., a 'closed room', country house, or small town). All Agatha Award nominated works also always contain main characters that know one another. 'Hard Boiled' mysteries are explicitly not considered for Agatha Awards.

color photograph of a Macavity AwardMacavity Award
The Macavity Award is named for the "mystery cat" of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in four categories. The year listed for an award is for books published in the previous calendar year. Mystery Readers International (MRI) is the largest mystery fan/reader organization in the world, and is open to all readers, fans, critics, editors, publishers, and writers. The Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award is one of the sub-categories of the Macavity Awards and it was created in 2006 to honor the memory and work of Sue Feder (died 2005) also known as Sue Feder Miller. Sue Feder was a noted dedicated and enthusiastic reviewer, scholar, and fans of mysteries. Feder founded the Historical Mystery Appreciation Society (HMAS) along with its quarterly journal, Murder Past Tense, which was dedicated to and focused on the works Ellis Peters. Feder also wrote reviews for Deadly Pleasures and Mystery Readers Journal and was a member of DAPA-EM for many years. DAPA-EM is a fan publication and its members (about thirty-five writers, readers, fanzine editors, and aficionados of the mystery genre) each write a bimonthly 'zine of reviews, checklists, profiles and articles about mystery fiction. The resulting thirty to forty 'zines are then collated and redistributed to members. She was instrumental in establishing the HMAS Herodotus Award for historical mysteries. The Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award continues this tradition in her memory. Mystery Readers International logoNominees are made and voted on by members of MRI and presented at each year's BoucherCon World Mystery Convention (also known as The Anthony Boucher Memorial Mystery Convention), their annual convention. This convention is named in honor of Anthony Boucher, the best-known pseudonym of William Anthony Parker White, an American fiction reviewer, science fiction editor, and author of mystery novels and short stories. His influence was most widely felt through his position as an editor from which he helped many authors get their start in writing. He is also noted for his efforts to make literary quality an important aspect of science fiction.

Deadly Ink logoDavid Award
The David Award is given out as a Best Mystery Novel prize and is sponsored by Deadly Ink and Deadly Ink Press. It is named in honor of David G. Sasher, Sr. Deadly Ink also sponsors the Ida Chittum Award for Best Young Adult Mystery each year, the Patti Award for the winner of their Short Story Contest, and the Amanda Award for the winner of their Mystery Novel Contest. Deadly Ink and Deadly Ink Press is a fan-controlled organization dedicated to helping writers achieve publishing success. Besides providing publishing services, they hold a yearly writer and fan conference that focuses on seminars and writer's workshops aimed at authors or would-be authors.

Newer Article: Beer Bread, a bronze age flavor variation with other ideas


Older Article: Blood In The Inkwell, the controversy surrounding the Danish 'Muhammad' cartoons

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Jane K. Cleland, amateur sleuth cozy mysteries with a flavoring of ‘The Antiques Roadshow by Steven Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting Steven Williams through Bookmarc's BookmarcsOnline.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blood In The Inkwell

Blood In The Inkwell, the controversy surrounding the Danish 'Muhammad' cartoons
by Paul O'Brien

logo of Pat O'Brien at Ninth ArtAround the world, people have been taking to the streets in protest - and people have even been dying - over cartoons. Paul O'Brien looks at both sides of the controversy surrounding the Danish 'Muhammad' cartoons.
13 February 2006

Source: Ninth Art

Chances are you'll be sick of reading about the Danish cartoons controversy by now, but indulge me. After all, this is one of those rare occasions that something loosely bearing on comics has been genuinely newsworthy in the outside world.

logo representing World ReligionsThis whole mess has been deeply unpleasant to watch for all manner of reasons. It would have been nice to think that it would at least prompt some serious discussion about the way we relate to a very different culture, and how far we should go to acknowledge religious sensibilities. To some extent that has happened, but for the most part we've been regaled by the sight of two camps screaming at one another. On the one hand, the Society for the Reinforcement of Islamic Stereotypes takes to the streets to demand that the taboos of their religion should be enforced by law. On the other, westerners piously insist on the sacrosanct nature of freedom of speech and largely dodge any further debate about the cartoons themselves - while simultaneously demanding that Muslim protestors should be arrested for dressing in an offensive fashion.

Of course, it's essential to acknowledge at the outset that there's clearly some political manipulation going on here. This is a controversy that has been cynically inflamed in the Middle East for political reasons. The cartoons saw print in Egypt last October and nothing came of it, because nobody was trying to capitalise at that point. But nonetheless, you don't get riots with multiple fatalities unless people genuinely care.

The fundamental problem with this whole debate is an unwillingness on both sides to recognise the distinction between law and morality. Freedom of speech is a legal and political concept. It's rightly considered to be a bedrock principle of western democratic societies. But this merely means that we acknowledge the value of open public debate, and consider that the value of allowing all voices to participate outweighs the disadvantages.

'We've been regaled by the sight of two camps screaming at one another.'

stylized Arabic text from the front book cover of an English translation of the Holy Qur'anSo it really isn't good enough to simply invoke the principle of free speech and declare the argument to be over. Of course, it's a good answer to "these cartoons should be banned". But it's a pretty lousy answer to "these cartoons should not have been published in the first place" - a criticism of the publisher's judgment, rather than a call for legal intervention. Just because you have the right to say something, it doesn't mean you should. By its nature, freedom of speech protects all manner of opinions that are stupid, wrong, hateful, and should generally never be voiced. It protects them because of the overriding interest in promoting free debate, not because the opinions themselves have any merit. "You shouldn't say that" is not the same criticism as "You shouldn't be allowed to say that", and raises entirely separate issues.

Obviously there is no scope whatever for compromise on the question of freedom of speech. That does not absolve the newspaper or the cartoonists from criticism, and it's only right to fully consider that dimension as well.

The background to the original publication is worth summarising, because the publishers don't come out of it terribly well. From a superficial reading of the reports, you might be left with the impression that the protestors are simply upset about some editorial cartoons that happened to depict Muhammad. The reality is somewhat more complicated.

logo of Jyllands-Posten aka The Jutland PostThe Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran the original cartoons last September. They were prompted by concerns about self-censorship and whether Danes were too willing to bow to unreasonable demands from Muslim campaigners. In particular, one Danish writer, Kare Blutgen, had struggled to find anyone prepared to illustrate his planned biography of Muhammad because they feared reprisals from extremists. A perfectly legitimate debate, so far as it goes.

It is hardly surprising that artists didn't want to draw Muhammad because, as everyone knows by now, representing Muhammad in visual art is an Islamic taboo. In fact, though, this is a serious overstatement. There are plenty of depictions of Muhammad in Islamic art, and in any event, the underlying idea for the ban was to discourage idolatry rather than the notion that visual depictions were offensive to Muhammad in and of themselves. The view that pictures of Muhammad are inherently taboo is, in fact, a minority one. The real problem is the content of the cartoons, not their mere existence. Satirical or mocking depictions of Muhammad are a big problem.

''Freedom of speech' does not absolve the cartoonists from criticism.'

Muhamed rasulullah in Arabic calligraphyThe newspaper approached forty or so editorial cartoonists and asked them, simply, to contribute cartoons about Muhammad. This, in itself, is difficult to interpret as anything other than a conscious exercise in winding up puritan Muslims. It's one thing to do a cartoon that you were going to do anyway, and not allow religious sensibilities to put you off. It's quite another to do something so obviously provocative under the guise of starting a public debate. At the very least, the whole concept has to be considered foolish.

Of the cartoonists approached, most refused to have anything to do with it. Twelve responded, and their contributions were all published. They're a mixed bag. A couple are simply sketches of Muhammad without any apparent further message, and arguably should be unobjectionable. Others primarily comment on the fear of intimidation from extremists and can be justified as having a legitimate and ultimately sensible point to make. The only real criticism to be made of these ones is their willingness to associate themselves with such a gratuitously inflammatory exercise.

Two others are cartoons at the expense of the newspaper itself. One shows Blutgen celebrating the free publicity for his book. The other shows a schoolboy called Muhammad - clearly not the prophet himself - writing in Farsi on a blackboard. The writing says "The editorial team of Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs", which is hard to argue with. Apparently nobody at the newspaper bothered to find out what it said before printing it, which in itself is illuminating in terms of the concern shown for possible offence. Still, it would hard to criticise either of these contributors, who have only turned up to decry the entire exercise themselves.

Then we get into the really tricky ones. Some identify Islam with terrorism and misogyny. One shows Muhammad positioned so that the crescent moon behind him forms devil horns - with no other apparent message. Worst of all is a sketch of Muhammad's head with his turban (bearing the Islamic creed) forming a bomb with a lit fuse. Again, there's no other context or explicit message. It's difficult to avoid concluding that some of these cartoons are downright racist. Yes, there are plenty of Islamic terrorist groups out there, but Ireland has plenty of Christian terrorist groups, and you don't see people satirising the IRA by drawing an exploding Pope. The identification of mainstream Islam with suicide bombers is just plain wrong. It is hardly surprising that reasonable Muslims might find some of this stuff offensive. Criticising Islamic societies for their attitude to women is fairer game, although blaming it directly on Muhammad is clueless given the actual content of his recorded teachings on the subject.

'Some of the cartoons identify Islam with terrorism and misogyny.'

Individually some of the cartoons are easily defensible, but even they were specifically commissioned to be provocative, in a context where 'provocative' is just a polite way of saying 'gratuitously offensive'. Others are just plain dodgy in any context. I don't have a problem with ignoring people's religious feelings and sticking to your guns. Nor do I object to tackling extremists head on. Nor, for that matter, do I object to the cartoons being republished by other newspapers, because they now serve the incontrovertibly legitimate purpose of informing the debate.

An-Nahl in Arabic text

But I do have a problem with offending people just for the sheer hell of it, especially in an area as controversial as this, where it's just plain childish and unhelpful. And I do have a problem with doing so in a way that displays a blithering ignorance of the whole subject. Responding to a remit for cartoons about Muhammad with cartoons about terrorism displays some very worrying and inaccurate associations. The notion that Al Qaeda actually represent Islam is not one to be encouraged. It's bad enough that Al Qaeda believe it.

The whole exercise is difficult to defend on its merits. The right to publish is sacrosanct, of course. The protestors take their complaints far too far, and taint their case with a refusal to accept the ground rules of democratic society. Understandably, much has been said about the importance of not giving way on the principle of free speech, and rightly so, because we're never going to get anywhere if we can't get everyone clear on the basic principles of freedom.

But there is much in the original cartoons that is genuinely and understandably capable of causing offence, and at the very least, this is a thoroughly counterproductive way of pursuing a debate in which Muslims must unavoidably be participants. It is entirely possible to believe in the right to publish these cartoons and still think they were a horribly misguided idea - something which should not be lost sight of.

Paul O'Brien is the author of the weekly X-AXIS comics review.

This article is Ideological Freeware. The author grants permission for its reproduction and redistribution by private individuals on condition that the author and source of the article are clearly shown, no charge is made, and the whole article is reproduced intact, including this notice.

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Older Article: Ace Atkins, a satisfying blend of Blues music and noir fiction

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ace Atkins

Ace Atkins, a satisfying blend of Blues music and noir fiction
by Steven Williams

color photograph of Ace Atkins by Jay E. NolanAce Atkins has been published professionally since 1998 with six novels in print. They have been critically well received and have also earned their author an enthusiastic popular following. Atkins attended Auburn College on a football scholarship majoring in screenplay writing and it was here that he began writing short stories as a freshman. He was actually able to complete about half of his first novel while still in school, even though he was playing football for the college team. After graduation, Atkins decided to begin working in journalism as an apprenticeship to his long-term goal of writing fiction. He first worked for about one year at The St. Petersburg Times as a pickup writer or correspondent, primarily writing sports, features, and quite a few book reviews and he believes this gave him the edge he needed as a writer when he moved on to The Tampa Tribune as a full-time crime reporter. His intentions as a writer apparently have always been to write serious crime fiction, not mysteries. Because of this, he saw The Tribune experience as a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse into the lives of criminals and cops he would otherwise never know fist hand. Recognition of Atkins skills as a fiction novelist includes a nomination for the Gumshoe Award for Best Novel for 'Dark End of the Street' and a nomination for the Barry Award for Best Novel for 'White Shadow'.

University of Mississippi logoAtkins began seriously writing fiction again while working for The Tribune. The quality of his journalism at The Tribune earned him both Pulitzer Prize and Livingston Award nominations. Atkins finished and published his first two novels, Crossroad Blues (1998) and Leavin’ Trunk Blues (2000), while still working at the Tribune. 'Crossroad Blues' was actually a continuation of the short stories featuring his character Nick Travers and which he had originally began writing during his college years. Three years after his first novel was published he decided to become a full time novelist. Atkins currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi and is a part time instructor in the School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi. He considers the part time work as a teacher as important to his writing because it makes him a more disciplined writer. Plus, he likes working with the students.

'Crossroad Blues, A Nick Travers Mystery' by Ace Atkins hardcover edition front coverCrossroad Blues: A Nick Travers Mystery (1998)
Atkins first published novel features Nick Travers, a frequent recurring character for his later fiction. Nick is described as an ex-New Orleans Saints football player, part-time detective, and full-time devotee of the Blues. In addition to playing the Blues harmonica at a Blues bar in the French Quarter, he is a historian of the Blues and teaches an occasional Blues history class at Tulane. A Tulane colleague disappears while pursuing nine previously unknown Robert Johnson recordings in the Mississippi Delta town of Greenwood, Mississippi. Nick, at the request of the head of Tulane's Jazz and Blues Archives, goes looking for his colleague. He ends up becoming mixed up with some dangerous people around Greenwood including a psychopathic teenage Elvis impersonator and a slimy record producer blues-club owner. It turns out that the producer has also been looking for the same lost Johnson recordings in order to give a promotional boost to the unauthentic Blues club he owns in New Orleans. Nick finds himself driven to try to protect the sanctity of the blues, unravel the mystery of Robert Johnson's past, and discovering what happened to the missing archivist and the mythic recordings.

'Leavin' Trunk Blues, A Nick Travers Mystery' by Ace Atkins hardcover edition front coverLeavin' Trunk Blues: A Nick Travers Mystery (2000)
The second crime novel by Ace Atkins again features his recurring character Nick Travers, a former professional football player turned musicologist. Nick is still playing his Blues harp at a Blues club in the French Quarter as well as researching and teaching Blues history at Tulane. Over a drink, a noted Blues guitarist happens to mention the mysterious 1959 murder of a record producer for which the murdered man's mistress was sentenced to prison. She was a great 1950s Blues songstress and Nick has been trying to line up an interview with her for some time. She finally agrees to talk to him if he will look into the circumstances of the crime for which she claims she was unjustly convicted. Nick becomes intrigued by the story and subsequently learns that even before the prison sentencing rumors had spread both about the dead man's gambling debts as well as suspicions about his former partner, a fellow musician who subsequently moved on to make a name for himself in Chicago Blues. Nick ends up in Chicago and quickly learns that there are still people around, killers all, who want to the circumstances behind the murder left alone. The ongoing search for the identity of the real murderer leads Nick into a retracing of the route of the Delta Blues greats during the Great Migration of African-Americans from the Delta to Chicago during and after World War II, from the historic Maxwell Street market to the South Side's Checkerboard Lounge.

'Dark End of the Street, A Nick Travers Mystery' by Ace Atkins hardcover edition front coverDark End of the Street: A Nick Travers Mystery (2002)
Atkins third Nick Travers finds Nick tracking down the lost brother as a favor to one of his best friends. The job ends up not being so simple though. The missing man was one of the great Memphis Soul singers in 1968, but his despair over the murder of his wife and close friend causes him to fall down and disappear into the street life of the city. Nick's search for the missing man becomes entangled with the agendas of the Dixie Mafia, a gubernatorial candidate with links to Klan-like Sons of the South, and an Elvis Presley obsessed hit man. It turns out that an older couple was murdered a few weeks before Nick sets out on his search. Nick, while at the casino following a lead to the long-missing man, happens to see a TV monitor on which he sees a trussed up young woman. The young coed happens to be the murdered couple's daughter and has been kidnapped by Mafia thugs. Nick rescues her but in the process kills a man forcing both the young woman and him to become fugitives. They eventually find themselves in New Orleans for the story's climax.

'Dirty South, A Nick Travers Mystery' by Ace Atkins hardcover edition front coverDirty South: A Nick Travers Mystery (2004)
The fourth Nick Travers thriller finds Nick being asked to do yet another favor for a friend. This time it is a former teammate from the New Orleans Saints who has become a wealthy producer in the Rap music business. He asks Nick to help him find the $700,000 stolen from a rap prodigy who happens to be one of his label's major stars. Nick sets out with the fifteen year old rapper to look for the team of grifters who conned the money out of the kid. The trail takes them into the Dirty South rap world and they end up fleeing to the Mississippi Delta and the protection of Nick's mentor, a legendary blues musician. His mentor's connections include another old-school Delta tough guy and the trio find themselves taking on the long list of enemies that the search for the grifters has brought.

'White Shadow' by Ace Atkins hardcover edition front coverWhite Shadow (2006)
Atkins fifth novel was based on his work as a crime journalist at The Tampa Tribune. He received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for a feature series in The Tribune based on his investigation into a forgotten 1950s murder in Tampa. White Shadow is set in Tampa in 1955. The bludgeoning murder of a mob boss sets cops, reporters, and the murdered man's associates all out looking for the reasons for the murder. The trail that one particular team of investigators made up of a police detective and a crime reporter follows leads through the neighborhoods of 1950s Tampa and on to pre-revolutionary Havana and its world of Cuban gangsters. The murdered man had been a well-known bootlegger in his younger days. It turns out that it is related to the turf warfare that has been going on between Sicilian and Cuban gangsters.

'Wicked City' by Ace Atkins hardcover edition front coverWicked City (April, 2008)
The newest novel by Ace Atkins is another historical crime novel, this time set in 1954 Phenix City, Alabama, 'The Wickedest City in America', a town overrun with gambling, prostitution, and moonshine. A recently elected attorney general is found shot in a town alley. This is the catalyst that brings together the town's small anti-vice group who decide that enough is enough. Their decision to act has repercussions they could never have expected. One of the group, an ex-boxer and family man leads the effort. Eventually the town evens falls under martial law and the ex-boxer is appointed interim sheriff in order to get things under control. He and the group he leads soon find themselves at war with the redneck mafia who seem to have decided that they will stop a nothing to prevent Phenix City from being cleaned up.

Livingston Award logoLivingston Award
The Livingston Award are American journalism awards given in recognition of 'outstanding journalism in print or broadcast' by journalists under thirty-five years old for categories: local, national, and international reporting. In addition to the three main category awards, the foundation also gives out a Richard M. Clurman Award honorary a senior professional who has been a superb on-the-job mentor. black and white photograph of Mollie Parnis circa 1951The awards are funded and awarded by the Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation in New York City and were created in 1981 to honor Robert Livingston, son of Mollie Parnis Livingston who was also the publisher of the journalism review 'More'. The Livingston Awards are the largest, all media, general reporting prizes in the US and are chosen by judging print, broadcast, and online entries against one another. This intra-media competition makes the Livingston Awards one of the most competitive and prestigious reporting prizes in American journalism. Mollie Parnis Livingston, born Sara Rosen Parnis in 1902, is best known as Mollie Parnis, a major and popular US designer of women’s dresses beginning in the 1930s and on into the 1980s.

black and white photograph of Barry GardnerThe Barry Award
The Barry Awards were created by Deadly Pleasures, the American premier fan-oriented mystery magazine and named in honor of Barry Gardner, a noted fan reviewer. The Barry Awards are currently being given out every summer at the Boucheron World Mystery Convention. For a book to be eligible for a Barry Award, it must be published in English. For a book to be eligible for the British Crime Novel category, the book must also be published in Great Britain. None of the other Barry Award categories have any additional restrictions. Nominations for the various Barry Awards are made by the editor/publisher of Deadly Pleasures magazine with input from a panel made up of Deadly Pleasures reviewers, mystery booksellers, and fans. The panel votes to determine the awards shortlists. The readers of Mystery News and Deadly Pleasures magazines then choose the award winners from these shortlists.

Mystery Ink logoThe Gumshoe Award
The Gumshoe Awards are given out by Mystery Ink, one of the most popular published blogs for mystery and thriller readers, and it is best noted for its extensive, high quality book reviews and author interviews. The Gumshoe has been given in recognition of the best writing in crime fiction since 2001. The nominated books are chosen for genre titles published for the first time in the United States during the previous calendar year. Award categories currently include Best Mystery, Best Thriller, and Best First Novel.

Newer Article: Blood In The Inkwell, the controversy surrounding the Danish 'Muhammad' cartoons


Older Article: Take Manhattan, The Real Cities We Know and the Fictional Cities They Inspire

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Ace Atkins, a satisfying blend of Blues music and noir fiction by Steven Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting Steven Williams through Bookmarc's BookmarcsOnline.

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