Dorothy Cannell: Had a marvelous time at the Malice convention in Bethesda; the feeling is always one of attending a family reunion with only the lovable relatives present. This one was extra special because Katherine Hall Page received the Lifetime Achievement Award. So well deserved. Returned home to contend with the mystery of why it always takes five times as long to unpack as it does to pack for the trip. My husband Julian attests there is nothing to ponder in this regard, the blame goes to all the books that climbed unnoticed into our luggage. Not true! The problem is the clothes have married (or lived in sin) and produced offspring in celebration of being freed from the closet where they huddle most of the year living lives of quiet desperation.
Okay, I protesteth too much. Within seconds of arrival at the hotel and registering I invariably make a beeline for the book room in search of out of print or hard to find books by mystery writers who weren’t Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers but were popular and admired during their time. My excuse for exercising this passion if that my current series is “period” fiction (which makes me a period piece given that I was born in 1943), but I’d wallow in them even if I were doing science fiction set in 4016. Oh, for that world without the advanced forensics that can make it implausible for amateur sleuths with nothing going for them beyond a long poky nose that can penetrate keyholes to solve a case awash in blood stains, fibers, etc., to solve the case before the police snap their fingers and with a wretched smirk cry “got him or her.” Oh, for the world where the protagonist can be out on a fog shrouded moor miles from the nearest farmhouse where the sound of crunching bracken imparts the unpleasant information that the murder is only yards away. In my view cell phones have a lot to answer for in spoiling sport for the writer.
Here are some of this years’ Malice finds, purchased with a multitude of thanks to The Book House and Scene of the Crime Books:
Smoke without Fire – Elizabeth Ferrars.
Answer Came Their None – Elizabeth Ferrars
Exit Murderer – Sara Woods
Murder Out Of Tune – Sara Woods
Where Old Bones Lie – Ann Granger
Death among the Dons – Janet Neel
Night at the Vulcan – Ngaio Marsh
Clutch of Constables – Ngaio Marsh
Gideon’s Risk – J. J. Marric
Cast For Death – Margaret Yorke
The Red Box – Rex Stout
Poison in Jest – John Dickson Carr
That’s about a quarter of my purchases. I remember when used book stores became popular and the concerns of some of us in the mystery field that they would cost us in royalties, but I’ve come to believe they provide a hunting ground for readers who may go on to buy our paperback, or even hardcovers. I also like to imagine maybe twenty or even thirty years from now when my name has long faded that someone will pick up one of my books and with luck I’ll join the ranks of the above mentioned. Should I be so lucky!
All the best,