Friday, November 28, 2008

Crime Clubs

Those of you who are in one or more of our Crime Clubs know how gratifying it is to get that signed book each month. And as a gift, it keeps on giving. If you’re not familiar with how it works here’s a brief description. We have six clubs, each tailored to a particular taste, and each month we ship out a signed book, or books. Our monthly newsletter lists each clubs’selections two months in advance:

The Crime Collector’s Club

Best sellers! Big guns! The Grand Masters of Mystery. For example: Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, Robert Crais, Janet Evanovich.

The First Mystery Club

Imagine what it might have been like to receive Dashiell Hammett’s first book! Signed! While we don’t like to think of our books primarily as investments, it is sometimes hard not to do so. But finding an author at the beginning of his or her career can be very gratifying. Our picks in the past have included Laurie R. King and Jeff Lindsay, as well as outstanding books such as The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by Edgar Wroblewski and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

The Soft-Boiled Club

A much-maligned club. Titles fall into the traditional, historical, and romantic suspense categories and authors Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa Scottoline, Alexander McCall-Smith, and Julia Spencer-Fleming have signed for this club.

The Hard-Boiled Club

The masters and mistresses of dark are to be found here each month: Lawrence Block, Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, George Pelecanos, Karin Slaughter, and Chelsea Cain.

British Crime Collectors Club

One of our most popular clubs, boasting signed books from the likes of Ian Rankin, John Le Carre, Val McDermid, Minette Walters, and John Harvey.

The Unclassifiable Club

It’s sometimes hard to know into which category some authors fall, so they find a home here: Alan Furst, Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem and Stewart O’Nan have signed for this club. Sounds kind of literary doesn’t it? Perhaps. But these authors are known for the non-mystery awards they win.

To sign up yourself or that lucky person on your gift list, just call or email us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thinking of Andrew Greeley

Our thoughts are going out to Andrew Greeley who is now in critical but stable condition following his accident last week.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tony Hillerman

Otto wrote this piece on Tony Hillerman for Time Magazine.,9171,1855372,00.html

Upcoming Mysterious Profiles

We're excited to tell you that not only are the Mysterious Profiles still going strong but we have some exciting upcoming releases to tell you about!

Upcoming releases include all new profiles by Jonathan Kellerman, Alexander McCall Smith, Loren Estleman and Thomas Perry!

These profiles will be free with purchase in paperback and limited signed and lettered editions will also be available for $60.00.

The Mysterious Profiles are exclusive to The Mysterious Bookshop.

Look for the Jonathan Kellerman profile next month!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Barack Obama is an Historical Mystery Fan!

We recently received this MySpace bulletin from writer Robert W. Walker:

"Yes, believe it or not, Pres. Elect Barack Obama was seen with a book in his hand, the title being Shadows in the White City. How he got it and what page he was on remains a mystery but asked by a reporter what he was reading, Obama replied, a hystery-mystery by a Chicago author named Robert Walker. Whether this will translate into sales, another mystery."

Maan Meyers at The Mysterious Bookshop

Martin and Annette Meyers who write historical mysteries under the name Maan Meyers spoke recently at The Mysterious Bookshop about their new Dutchman novel: THE ORGAN GRINDER.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tony Hillerman 1925-2008

PHOENIX (AP) — Tony Hillerman, author of the acclaimed Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels and creator of two of the unlikeliest of literary heroes — Navajo police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee — died Sunday of pulmonary failure. He was 83.

Hillerman's daughter, Anne Hillerman, said her father's health had been declining in the last couple years and that he was at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque when he died at about 3 p.m.

Hillerman lived through two heart attacks and surgeries for prostate and bladder cancer. He kept tapping at his keyboard even as his eyes began to dim, as his hearing faded, as rheumatoid arthritis turned his hands into claws.

"I'm getting old," he declared in 2002, "but I still like to write."

Anne Hillerman said Sunday that her father was a born storyteller.

"He had such a wonderful, wonderful curiosity about the world," she said. "He could take little details and bring them to life, not just in his books, but in conversation, too."

Lt. Joe Leaphorn, introduced in "The Blessing Way" in 1970, was an experienced police officer who understood, but did not share, his people's traditional belief in a rich spirit world. Officer Jim Chee, introduced in "People of Darkness" in 1978, was a younger officer studying to become a "hathaali" — Navajo for "shaman."

Together, they struggled daily to bridge the cultural divide between the dominant Anglo society and the impoverished people who call themselves the Dineh.

Hillerman's commercial breakthrough was "Skinwalkers," published in 1987 — the first time he put both characters and their divergent world views in the same book. It sold 430,000 hardcover copies, paving the way for "A Thief of Time," which made several best seller lists. In all, he wrote 18 books in the Navajo series, the most recent titled "The Shape Shifter."

Each is characterized by an unadorned writing style, intricate plotting, memorable characterization and vivid descriptions of Indian rituals and of the vast plateau of the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners region of the Southwest.

The most acclaimed of them, including "Talking God" and "The Coyote Waits," are subtle explorations of human nature and the conflict between cultural assimilation and the pull of the old ways.

"I want Americans to stop thinking of Navajos as primitive persons, to understand that they are sophisticated and complicated," Hillerman once said.

Occasionally, he was accused of exploiting his knowledge of Navajo culture for personal gain, but in 1987, the Navajo Tribal Council honored him with its Special Friend of the Dineh award. He took greater pride in that, he often said, than in the many awards bestowed by his peers, including the Golden Spur Award from Western Writers of America and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, which elected him its president.

Hollywood was less kind to Hillerman. Its adaptation of his 1981 novel, "Dark Wind," with Lou Diamond Phillips and Fred Ward regrettably cast as Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, was a bomb.

Although Hillerman was best-known for the Navajo series, he wrote more than 30 books, including a novel for young people; the memoir, "Seldom Disappointed"; and books on the history and natural beauty of his beloved Southwest.

"Those places that stir me are empty and lonely," he wrote in "The Spell of New Mexico," a collection of his essays. "They invoke a sense of both space and strangeness, and all have about them a sort of fierce inhospitality."

He also edited or contributed to more than a dozen other books including crime and history anthologies and books on the craft of writing.

Born May 27, 1925, in Sacred Heart, Okla., population 50, Tony Hillerman was the son of August and Lucy Grove Hillerman. They were farmers who also ran a small store. It was there that young Tony listened spellbound to locals who gathered to tell their stories.

The teacher at Sacred Heart's one-room school house was rumored to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, so Tony's parents sent him and his brother, Barney, to St. Mary's Academy, a school for Potawatomie Indian girls near Asher, Okla. It was at St. Mary's that he developed a lifelong respect for Indian culture — and an appreciation of what it means to be an outsider in your own land. In 1943, he interrupted his education at the University of Oklahoma to join the Army. He lugged his mortar ashore at D-Day with the 103rd Infantry Division and was severely wounded in battle at Alsace, France. He returned from Europe a genuine war hero with a Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, temporary blindness and two shattered legs that never stopped causing him pain.

He returned to the university for his degree and, in 1948, married Marie Unzer. Together, they raised six children, five of them adopted.

As a young man, he farmed, drove a truck, toiled as an oil field roughneck and worked as a reporter and editor for the Borger News-Herald in Borger, Texas; the Morning Press-Constitution in Lawton, Okla.; United Press International in Oklahoma City; and the Santa Fe New Mexican, where he rose to executive editor. He quit in 1962 to earn a master's degree from the University of New Mexico, where he later taught journalism and eventually became chairman of the journalism department. In 1993, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.

Hillerman was still teaching when he wrote his first novel, "Blessing Way." A story that always made him chuckle: His first agent advised him that if he wanted to get published, he would have to "get rid of that Indian stuff."

Hillerman is survived by his wife, Marie, and their six children. Services are pending.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press

Michael Crichton Dies at 66

'Jurassic Park' author Michael Crichton dies at 66

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer

Michael Crichton, the million-selling author who made scientific research terrifying and irresistible in such thrillers as "Jurassic Park," "Timeline" and "The Andromeda Strain," has died of cancer, his family said. Crichton died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 66 after privately battling cancer.

"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand," his family said in a statement.

"While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us — and entertained us all while doing so — his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes."

He was an experimenter and popularizer known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of "The Andromeda Strain" or the dinosaurs running madly in "Jurassic Park." Many of his books became major Hollywood movies, including "Jurassic Park," "Rising Sun" and "Disclosure." Crichton himself directed and wrote "The Great Train Robbery" and he co-wrote the script for the blockbuster "Twister."

In 1994, he created the award-winning TV hospital series "ER." He's even had a dinosaur named for him, Crichton's ankylosaur.

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of `Jurassic Park,'" said "Jurassic Park" director Steven Spielberg, a friend of Crichton's for 40 years. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. ... Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place."

John Wells, executive producer of "ER" called the author "an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful.

"No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation."

In recent years, he was the rare novelist granted a White House meeting with President Bush, perhaps because of his skepticism about global warming, which Crichton addressed in the 2004 novel, "State of Fear." Crichton's views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that the author was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

If not a literary giant, he was a physical one, standing 6 feet and 9 inches, and ready for battle with the press. In a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, Crichton came with a tape recorder, text books and a pile of graphs and charts as he defended "State of Fear" and his take on global warming.

"I have a lot of trouble with things that don't seem true to me," Crichton said at the time, his large, manicured hands gesturing to his graphs. "I'm very uncomfortable just accepting. There's something in me that wants to pound the table and say, 'That's not true.'"

He spoke to few scientists about his questions, convinced that he could interpret the data himself. "If we put everything in the hands of experts and if we say that as intelligent outsiders, we are not qualified to look over the shoulder of anybody, then we're in some kind of really weird world," he said.

A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.

One of four siblings, Crichton was born in Chicago and grew up in Roslyn, Long Island. His father was a journalist and young Michael spent much of his childhood writing extra papers for teachers. In third grade, he wrote a nine-page play that his father typed for him using carbon paper so the other kids would know their parts. He was tall, gangly and awkward, and used writing as a way to escape; Mark Twain and Alfred Hitchcock were his role models.

Figuring he would not be able to make a living as writer, and not good enough at basketball, he decided to become a doctor. He studied anthropology at Harvard College, and later graduated from Harvard Medical School. During medical school, he turned out books under pseudonyms. (One that the tall author used was Jeffrey Hudson, a 17th-century dwarf in the court of King Charles II of England.) He had modest success with his writing and decided to pursue it.

His first hit, "The Andromeda Strain," was written while he was still in medical school and quickly caught on upon its 1969 release. It was a featured selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and was sold to Universal in Hollywood for $250,000.

"A few of the teachers feel I'm wasting my time, and that in some ways I have wasted theirs," he told The New York Times in 1969. "When I asked for a couple of days off to go to California about a movie sale, that raised an eyebrow."

His books seemed designed to provoke debate, whether the theories of quantum physics in "Timeline," the reverse sexual discrimination of "Disclosure" or the spectre of Japanese eminence in "Rising Sun."

"The initial response from the (Japanese) establishment was, 'You're a racist,'" he told the AP. "So then, because I'm always trying to deal with data, I went on a tour talking about it and gave a very careful argument, and their response came back, 'Well you say that but we know you're a racist.'"

Crichton had a rigid work schedule: rising before dawn and writing from about 6 a.m. to around 3 p.m., breaking only for lunch. He enjoyed being one of the few novelists recognized in public, but he also felt limited by fame.

"Of course, the celebrity is nice. But when I go do research, it's much more difficult now. The kind of freedom I had 10 years ago is gone," he told the AP. "You have to have good table manners; you can't have spaghetti hanging out of your mouth at a restaurant."

Crichton was married five times and had one child. A private funeral is planned.


Associated Press writer Colleen Long in New York contributed to this story.